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Extravanganza Accordian Demo
Thread Description
A short-con artist must gather a team to pull off 8 dangerous heists… or lose his pokémon forever. Updates every other weekend!

Leon Yorunaki

I'll Spirit Shackle you!
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
453
Caught
Jul 9, 2019
Messages
856
Nature
Rash
Pokémon Type
  1. Grass
  2. Ghost
Petunias, tiger lilies, and yellow carnations grew in scattered clumps all around
I remember you mentioning flower meanings in Discord, but damn, the thing became even better when you actually know the meanings which implies Carlos deliberately chose the box layout. Big hooray for in-game stuff bleeding into your world in a nice fashion, and a bigger fuck you bouquet to Frida.

Maybe she could find a loose wire in this thing if she dug enough.
Oh no no no no...
Which makes me question if a pokémon could ever escape a box, and where could he go. Makes Frida a true antagonist if she's able to...

“Sounds good; that will be ₽200,000.” The man brought out a card reader, and Carlos paid as if it were the easiest thing in the world. “And… That went through, great. You’ll be riding with Luft here. Just tell her where you want to land and hold on tight!”
Ouch. Now I know why Carlos had been avoiding these like the plague. And also why he needs another flier.

Carlos looked at the Staraptor. His stomach dropped again.
Not just yours, Carlos. *hides*
I'm just curious what hit him the hardest, if Valentin's memories or the trauma from falling when flying on him...

A slip of paper fell from one of her wings, and when Carlos knelt to pick it up she took off again.
[Thank you for flying with Fly Taxi! Be sure to rate us on our app, or at www.flytaxi.hn]
He crumpled the note with a grimace.
Readers, please tell me I wasn't the only one curious enough to click the link to see if it worked
741715417516605542.webp

Hopefully Carlos will never need those again

It was a Garchomp, no doubt about it; it stood over six feet tall with a golden star on its muzzle. It stared at something over his head with greyish yellow eyes, then waved one of its scythe-like arms as if it was measuring how many dinners Carlos rated.
He couldn’t help but burst into laughter.
“Boss, what the-“
Of course! Of course there’s a Garchomp, why not!?” Carlos said.
Good grief, and good plan. I wonder if this is a foreshadow of some sort, like, you know...

“Who needs a day off, anyway? I say what we need is a fun, easy con. What do you say, Tichu?”
There's nothing like a day off for a grifter, right?

Tichu shook with excitement. “Awesome! Let’s go find a mug!”
Grinning, Carlos gestured to a stand selling ceramics. “Done. That was easy.”
I burst out laughing here. Let's see how this con will go, and if it'll be related to Pride or anything... seems like there'll be a lot of money flying around...
I know I've sent you a lot of questions already but I have one more:
Frida: Did you really think Carlos would give you another chance, or it was more like "worth a try"?
 

CyanideCrystal

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Artist
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
663
Caught
Aug 12, 2019
Messages
94
Nature
Relaxed
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Cool
  2. ???
Pokédex Entry
gg ez
Ok, so I'm on chapter 2 so far but I just want to say your writing style is really cool. Also I love this little crime boy of yours. I'm a little worried about him now though. I can't believe he just gambled away his Pokémon. Cynthia would be so mad... Really excited about reading more of the story when I wake up!
 
OP
Vivace

Vivace

Designated Meganium Defender
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
204
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
1,300
Location
Fochun
Nature
Brave
Pronouns
He/Him / They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Fighting
Pokédex Entry
The Lad Pokemon, Vivace's main powers are photoshop and chatting shit. Manages the unofficial nuzlocke football team.
♣️ ♦️ ♥️ ♠️
@Obelisk and @Black Viper Yup, Carlos knows about flower symbolism! Good thing to know as a conman; you don't want to end up giving foxglove to a mark! Whether or not it was totally purposeful, though, who knows? Maybe it was a subconscious choice while putting the Box together 🤔
And yeah, trainers have a lot of control over the PC in Hoenn! It has its defaults if you're the type to just create a virtual space and add pokémon, but you're encouraged to at least make an effort considering it's supposed to be a temporary home for the 'mons!

@Arowana Thank you so much! So do I, though there is one Fairy-type I think Carlos will want more than any other…
Yes!!! Spend some time on the naughty step, Frida!

@crashcrashcrash Those bird trainers gotta eat somehow, m8! If you don't like it, get yer own Staraptor!
you're welcome
hmmmmmmmmmm
Pacifidlog is the reason I went for that, yeah. I don't think I have other real-world place names, so it does sorta stick out.
Lastly, THANK YOU!!! Carlos looks dapper, and Teresa looks dangerous! I can tell you put a lot into this and I've made it my phone background now 💖

@Leon Yorunaki Thanks! That means a lot, I put a lot of thought into details like this!
For sure, he needs a flier. Especially considering the number of cities he still needs to visit!
Both? Both.
I did, myself. I guess the run is set in Honduras now, how about that?
I believe the term for that is a busman's holiday, when someone takes a holiday just to keep doing their regular occupation :^)

@CyanideCrystal It's great having you on board! Apologies for adding another chapter to the backlog :v:

Well, there's a big update today! I was planning on posting the Q&A earlier, but decided to hold on to it until I had a chapter to post with it. Before we get into the update, though, I want to remind you all that the Nuzlocke Zine will release on November 30th!

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We have 40 contributors, some writers, some artists, some who are cool enough to do both, so if you have any passing interest in Nuzlocke stories you should absolutely check it out! It's going to be an online zine only (we actually have too much content to print it lmao) and it comes with bonus scenes of people's runs, original one-shots, meta pieces discussing how Nuzlocke runs are created, and some downloadable emotes as a bonus. You can find out more about the zine here, but here is what I've been working on:
  • A documentary piece that goes more in-depth on Entry Hazard's Hoenn and its relationship with pokémon who can change the weather​
  • A collab piece with @MegaInfernape where a few of Entry Hazard's characters team up with the Hope is Never Lost cast to attempt a perilous heist of Parfum Palace. Features gijinka versions of Tichu, Artemio, and two new catches (I completely misjudged where I would be in the story by the time it releases, so it might end up being a spoiler. Hoping it won't be, though!)​
  • A one-shot nuzlocke run featuring Emmet searching Unova for signs of where his brother went​
  • A fanfiction of @pinkshellos' wonderful X storylocke, Revive
  • A series of blind interviews, where characters are given questions and writers have 15 minutes to put together an answer. Carlos is one of the main characters interviewed!​
Speaking of interviews, I have the results of last month's Q&A right here:

- What's your favorite con that you've pulled off in the past?
image.png
It might be my first one, if we’re only counting the cons before I met Zawa.
I was a real mess when I first joined the Trick House, but once I did join, man. It was like a whole new world opened up to me. Paula was there as the roper, and she did everything right while I sort of floundered at first, but it’s her who encouraged me to keep going. In the end, I had a blast. Plus, we scammed somebody who actually deserved it! He wanted a shiny Flapple to replace his own! Irredeemable.
My favourite con of all time has to be the Nature Seed con. I realise it didn’t go perfectly, but we still took a rich man’s greed and turned it into profit, and everyone on the team learned a lot in the process. Tichu and Art got to be major parts of it, too! Not to mention I got to incorporate baking into a con, something I’d never thought of doing before.

- How was your life before having access to Secret Power? How do you imagine your life without it?
image.png
It didn’t take long for me to run out of money for rent when I left my parents’ place… It was horrible. I bounced around the homeless shelters in Mauville for a few months, and I learned a lot more about life than I did while I was in school. I learned I had to steal if I wanted to eat enough, and how people treat drifters like me - even if they’re not far from it, themselves!
I do realise I’m still homeless, technically, but it doesn’t feel that way now I can reliably find shelter. If Tichu didn’t have Secret Power, though… I honestly don’t think we’d manage. I don’t tell her, because she doesn’t need to worry about that. This badge business is enough without putting more pressure on the little scamp!

- Supposing you get to steal all the badges, do you have any sort of plan against Zawa?
image.png
I have about six different plans at the moment. I’m not joking. Every night, I go over what I might need in order to beat her in our rematch. What game we’ll be playing, what tricks she might pull… I’d like to be able to just win a proper game against her and win my team back that way, but I’m not so naïve to think it’ll be that easy. I’m going to keep most of the plans to myself, but I can give you one example:
Say we play a game of craps. I’ve looked up the different sorts of trick dice that can be used there, and you’d be surprised how many there are! One has two 4, 5, and 6 sides so it will always look legitimate to the untrained eye. I’d be on the lookout for Zawa using one, now that I know how to spot them.

- Of all of your friends being held hostage by Zawa, which one do you miss the most, and why?
image.png
Well… I suppose it would have to be Cynthia, since she’s been with me the longest, but every one of them weighs on my mind whenever there’s a lull in the action and I have time to think. The way Xenon shoots sparks when she’s happy, or how Jamie talks back to me when they’re feeling daring - which is all the time, really - and Constance is the first pokémon I saw evolve. I’ll never forget the way he kept pushing to gain enough experience as a Cascoon, and the smile when he finally managed it! But I do miss Cynthia the most. She’d know what I’m supposed to do here, and whether I made the right call stealing the badges.

- What exactly do you feel for Paula?
image.png
She’s a good friend, and I really do enjoy the time I spend with her! I wish she’d stop with the ‘siblings’ thing, but at the same time, I suppose I haven’t really gotten around to telling her that. It is nice to talk with another human, not just my pokémon, and even though she’s a grifter through and through, she’s a friend first.

- What was the first card game you played, and how old were you?
image.png
It was this game called Cribbage, and I was seven! My dad and I would play all the time, but eventually he lost interest. I think it’s because I wouldn’t stop winning, heh.
- You were in the daycare for quite a while, right? What did you do there? Did you make any friends?
image.png
Yeah! It was so great! Pretty much everyone there was around my age. We sparred a lot, so we could learn moves and get stronger, but when we weren’t doing that we were just playing and doing activities Mr. Ivy gave us.
Hell yeah, I made friends! Oh. Sorry, should I be watching my language here? Oh, never mind, I’m sure nobody cares. Anyway yeah, there was Marie, a Psyduck - we played hide-and-seek in the garden, and that’s how I learned Psyducks aren’t actually psychic - and Chris the Mudbray was my best friend there. His trainer was a ‘roughneck’, and we told each other stories about our trainers that I’m sure they wouldn’t want getting out! The Voltorb… I think Isaac was his name. He had an allergy to Poison types, or maybe just me, I dunno. And let’s see… Oh, there was a Growlithe, but I can’t remember his name now. And a… Hm…
Actually, I’m taking up too much time with this aren’t I? Ask another!

- How do you feel about this new life, taking part in your trainer's cons for a change?
image.png
It’s awesome! I’ve learned so much! I don’t think I’ll use a lot of it, since he said we’re not going to repeat any cons, but the more I learn the more I can help the boss think up new ones! It is hard sometimes, though. The heists are dangerous, and I miss my friends… Jamie most of all. They knew so much about Carlos’ jobs and told me about them even though he said I wasn’t old enough yet.

- If you were forced to choose between your old and new teammates, which member would you miss the most?
image.png
What?! That’s an awful question! I don’t wanna miss any of them, thanks!
…Okay. So, I feel more like I’m in an actual team than I did with my old team, but we also didn’t do a whole lot with the old team before this happened. I spent a lot of that time in the Daycare, and Carlos and his team visited sometimes. I like this new life better, but when I think about how Jamie would’ve liked to help steal the badges, I have to wonder… wouldn’t I have loved it more, if Zawa hadn’t taken anyone away? And we were just doing it for fun?
I wouldn’t pick either team, though. They’re both my team. And if someone forced me to, I’d spray them, bite them, whatever it takes until they leave us alone.

- Is there anything you don't like about Carlos?
image.png
Yeah, actually. For someone with so many plan Bs, his plan As… sometimes kinda stink. That Rapidash con, for instance, that whole thing was based on luck! I think he really needs someone as smart as him who can help him think things through a little more. That’s why I’m going to learn as much as I can now, so maybe that can be me one day!

- What is your ability - stench or aftermath? How do you feel about it, and can you use it to your advantage in heists?
image.png
Aftermath! That… uh… No, I don’t think that’ll help with anything. Carlos isn’t perfect, but he’s serious about protecting me. He’s not going to blow me up just to get a badge! Unless there’s some other use for the ability? I’ll have to ask him, but maybe I’ll leave out the bit about blowing up. He gets a little funny when he thinks about losing somebody.
- How's life treating you? Find any trainers looking to give the Gym Challenge an actual go?
image.png
First and foremost, I would like to thank you for thinking of me as a team member despite the circumstances of my exit.
Life has been treating me well; a few days after I left Carlos’ team I encountered a career trainer who was searching for a replacement for her Skarmory. Battles have come thick and fast as Caroline is eager for me to evolve, but that’s quite alright by me. I find it curious that my new trainer’s name is so similar to Carlos’, but if I brought this up to her I would have to explain who he is. Better to just accept it as a quirk of fate and enjoy the opportunity I’ve been given.
I have a question in return: how are Carlos and his cohorts getting along? I can assume by the nature of this question that he hasn’t been arrested or given up yet. I only hope he isn’t keeping further secrets from them…
- What's your favorite type of lamp?
image.png
Ooooh… Anything that swings or moves around! I once hugged a Chandelure by mistake. It nearly burned my wings off, but I flew away just in time!
- I've heard that the Fennekin line uses sticks to direct attacks. How do you find a good stick?
image.png
We do! Every stick can work, so the only practical trait to look for is it should be my size, and also something I can spin easily. I know some Delphox prefer huge sticks that are more like tree branches, but that’s if you want to use physical attacks. Not really my thing!

- How hard has been life without Valentin?
image.png
Hrm… It’s been hard. For sure. Valentin was a special ‘mon in that he was willing to face his fears for the good of the team. I thought I was like that as well, especially after that first Gym with Brawly! Since he died, though, I don’t know… it’s kind of taken the wind out of my sails. I just hope Carlos doesn’t resent the fact I quit going on heists.

- What are your opinions on Teresa and her... bluntness?
image.png
Hahahahahaha! ‘Bluntness’ is one way of putting it!!
I don’t trust Teresa as far as I can throw her. I know she’s doing her part for the team, and of course she's a better help than Frida was, but I can tell she’s got her own goals and they only line up with ours by coincidence. When she gets bored of us, who knows what she’ll do next?
She hasn’t done anything blatant yet - at least, not in front of Carlos - but it’s just a matter of time if you ask me. She’ll think she can get away with it because she’s big, she’s strong, she’s pretty… intmidating.
I’ve got my eye on her though, and I’ll tell her that once I can get a moment alone with her!
- Why the name Natasha? Where did you get it from?
image.png
I… Well, it just feels right, I suppose! As to where I got it from… I think I might have seen it when I read a list of trainers who had beaten Norman.

- When did it click for you that you were a girl?
image.png
I think it was when I saw Carlos change his eye colour, yeah. For us Shuppets, eye colour distinguishes sex and is also the main way we can tell each other apart, so to see him become somebody else just like that was quite the shock. That isn’t to say that it was like a switch being flipped for me or anything, but I wanted to be sure before I declared anything, and after that, the problem was just finding the right time to tell him!

- How does it feel like being... I don't like this word, but since you used it first... normal?
image.png
I don’t yet, t’ tell the truth. But that’s fine. Ever since I told Carlos, it’s been wonderful just being who I want to be; it feels like I’ve had a fresh start, and I’m thankful to be around friends so I don’t have to do it alone! I think once I’m used to hearing my new name and some time’s passed, I’ll feel my own version of ‘normal’.
- I know you're a fan of brute force, but have there been any battling tactics that you've seen or would like to put into use?
image.png
Not really, no. There are some moves I’d like to learn - Coil so I can hit harder, Glare so they can’t hit back - but that’s not what you mean, is it? You’re talking about flips and tricks to confuse the opponent… that stuff’s for those who can’t trust in their own strength.
- You're clearly excited to evolve, but are you aware of the different forms that Raichu takes? If you could choose, would you prefer to be Alolan or Kantonian Raichu?
image.png
Oh, Kanto for sure. I don’t know whether evolving would affect my tail, so if I evolve in Alola I might not be able to surf on it. I’d just kinda… float, and that’d look a little stupid I think.

- Did you really think Carlos would give you another chance, or it was more like "worth a try"?
image.png
Yeah, worth a shot. He’ll be sorry, though.

- Would you rather be used as a cannonball or as a football?
image.png
[REDACTED] you.
- We seem to have a new Silver Shadow around. What do you think are their motivations?
image.png
Hmm, yes, we do don’t we? You know, I think I know who it is, but I’m not going to give a name in case I’m wrong… or if I’m right, even.
As for motivation, who knows? It can’t be money or they’d take something they can actually sell off. Maybe they’re doing this to make a statement of some sort. The Gym Challenge’s next to impossible these days unless you’re born into money or spend your whole life training a team, which… yeah. Most people can’t do that. I’d like to think that’s their reason, to beat a League that’s rigged against people like us.

- Don't you have any sort of shame about conning your friend Carlos?
image.png
Why would I? He should’ve seen it coming. I’ll give the case back next time I see him, so no harm done.

- Rather, what are your true feelings for him? Could you imagine having any sort of relationship with Carlos?
image.png
Haha, that’s a good question! To tell you the truth, I asked him out pretty early on, but turns out he’s asexual. I respect that, so no chance of a relationship there. That said, Carlos has been through a lot and I think he needs someone to turn to. I’d love if I could be there for him, but for that to happen he’s got to be honest with me and I’m not sure that’s happening any time soon.

- How did you and Carlos meet?
image.png
We ran a con together! We were selling a fake machine that could detect shiny pokémon. He was still an apprentice at the time so it was a little shaky. He fumbled the name of the project, but that quick wit of his was there, even back then: he saved the con by spinning a story about how we were keeping things quiet to avoid industrial espionage and that’s why the name changed so often, and we just rolled with it. That’s my bro, he digs himself a hole but every time he digs himself right back out!
- Are you excited to get your badge stolen~?
YuKV3oV.png
Singling me out, eh? Well, my Gym’s not as well-defended as, say, Norman’s, but I’m no pushover and this thief will find that out if he does make it to mine.

- Do you believe this is a single person job, or you believe there's a full team involved?
TVUqAFe.png
Our first instinct is it’s one person. He looks different each time, but he only takes one badge. Why would a team settle with just one? Plus, if it were a team doing this then it’s not a very clever one. They could have split up and targeted our Gyms on the same day, but now we’ve had time to regroup and improve our security while they’re still stuck at three badges. We’ll know soon enough.

- How do you feel about the way Norman is conducting the whole thing?
unknown.png
[Sighs] I guess he’s right in calling me out. I should’ve been more prepared.

kEgfwFd.png
He needs to chill. A guy goes in and steals unactivated badges, and nothing else? It’s an annoyance, but like, is it really hurting anyone? Actually, it sounds kind of fun, like an extreme version of those escape rooms I sometimes do. I’m not admiring our thief, or anything, and I get it could get dangerous depending on who he is… but it takes crazy good teamwork to pull something like this off, and I think Norman’s too sour grapes to see it.

yBwCYRn.png
It’s his call! Normal’s a long-time friend of mine; I’m not going to criticise him without good reason. Anyway, I should focus on making sure our mystery thief doesn’t pay me a visit!

YuKV3oV.png
Tsk. Norman. He’s been in charge for too long, I think. He’s too used to it all going right for him, and now that it’s not it’s everyone else’s fault. That’s all I trust myself to say right now.

Pbtv5wy.png
He’s very full-on. I understand why, and that story about the Silver Shadow sounds awful so I don’t want that happening again here in Hoenn… but insulting Roxanne isn’t going to bring the badge back. She’s the reason we’re closer to knowing who’s taking the badges; I think she deserved at least a ‘thank you’!

JP6W8AA.png
He’s about as much help as an Unown who forgot Hidden Power.
8nuBRsF.png
Tate! You can’t just say that!
JP6W8AA.png
Come on! It’s true, though!
8nuBRsF.png
Still, be careful! If you talk like that in a public interview, you’ll get us kicked out!
JP6W8AA.png
Fine! Ray’s sake.
JP6W8AA.png
…We’re not big fans of Norman. He kicked up a fuss about both of us becoming Leaders because it’s “against tradition”, but he shut up once he realised no one else cared.
8nuBRsF.png
We never diss him, though, since he could still sack us if we make enough trouble that we lose the other Leaders’ support.

TCgtCay.png
I don’t see any problems. He wasn’t to know there’s a badge-stealing maniac on the loose, and now we do know it won’t be long until he catches him. He’s right to ask for some accountability in the meantime. Imagine letting a thief you already know about just waltz in and take your badge! Madness.

A big thank you to everyone who submitted questions!!

Mornings in Slateport began with distant foghorns and the smell of coffee and exhaust. Some sailors pulled their ships to dock as early as the crack of dawn while the rest of the workforce hurried to catch up. Nearly every main road was packed with traffic today, except for the high street which had been cleared for the upcoming events.

With Art and Natasha’s help, Carlos was able to start the morning off with a job of his own:

They found a potential mark strolling down the road, having left from a fancy hotel earlier. He was a tourist, staring at landmarks the average Slateportian would barely give a second glance, though his wallet was too well guarded to simply take.

When he came within range, Carlos and Art started an argument, resulting in Carlos snatching his wand. The Braixen scowled as he disappeared into his ball.

“Everything alright here?”

“Yeah… Fluffy’s been misusing his magic lately, again, and I’ve just had enough,” Carlos explained. “These wands are way too expensive to waste, so I’m not buying a new one until he learns to behave.”

“Ah. Makes sense! Good luck with all that.”

“Hey, thanks man… Actually, there’s still some magic left. Fancy giving it a go?”

The tourist’s eyes widened. “Are you sure it’ll work for humans?”

“Yeah, if you try hard enough.” Carlos handed him the stick and pointed to a bin on the other side of the street. “Try drawing a circle.”

“Uh… Done. What now?”

“You’ve gotta concentrate!”

When the man waved it again in a long, grand circle motion, the bin haltingly rose in the air before falling to the ground with a solid thmp.

“Yeah!! You’ve got it!”

From there, it was child’s play to sell the stick of wood to him. A sweet ₽5,000 now sat in Carlos’ coin pouch! The reward wasn’t anything spectacular, but there was barely any risk involved either; exercises like this were aimed towards keeping his crew sharp rather than making a profit, and Carlos was eager to see how Natasha would cope with a major role.

“So, how’d it go for you?” Carlos asked her later on. “You did perfect; I couldn’t even see you.”

“It wasn’t easy… but it was fun,” the Shuppet decided. “I can do this again if you need, for sure.”

“Great to hear!”

She nodded to the eyewear shop that they stopped by. “So, you really think this place’ll have something for me?”

“Yeah, Miracle Eye’s the place to go for custom contacts. Human or pokémon, they stock both kinds.” Carlos pointed to his eyes, which were a dark maroon today. “I’m even wearing their merchandise right now; I should get some promotion credit or something!”

She chuckled. “You wouldn’t if they knew why you’re using so many.”

“True, true.” The two looked inside the store again. Carlos nudged Natasha. “Come on, you deserve this.”

“But what if I evolve right after?”

He gave a smile. “Well, in that case, we’ll get you a Banette fit the next time we’re in Slateport.”

“Well…” Natasha floated still, turning to the display of uniquely shaped contacts, back to Carlos, back to the contacts, and back to Carlos again. “I…”

“Tell you what. How about we go in just to check it out? The measuring’s free.”

The Shuppet started to protest, but there was no hiding the way her cloth rippled excitedly as she travelled through the door after her trainer.

Carlos had never gone here for pokémon contacts before, but the measuring didn’t take long; Natasha knew exactly what she wanted, her eyesight was perfect, and the store owner was quick and experienced. Carlos was soon presented with a brochure depicting a set of Shuppet contacts, a manual, and a single slip of paper.

He unfolded the slip of paper.

He folded the slip of paper.

“Well? How much will it set us back?”

“Uh.” Carlos weighed his responses quickly. “Compared to the Fly Taxi yesterday, not that much.”

Before Carlos had to elaborate, Natasha nodded. “Later, then.”

“Sorry-“

“No, don’t be,” she said at once. “This was fun! And anyway, we’ve got more important things to save up for. Can’t get too greedy!”

Though Natasha kept her smile going while he recalled her, Carlos’ slipped as he exited to the high street. The city had fully woken up by now, preparing for another day of Pride. A crew of workers erected signs along the road to indicate where the parade would lead later that day. A cloud formed in the con artist’s mind as he followed the trail; he looked occasionally at the flags displayed all around him, then at Natasha’s ball.

His attention began to drift to passersby’s pockets.





Further on in the high street was a small, picturesque shop with a cheerful picture of a Delcatty on the sign in front. ‘Delcatty Insurance’ was the name, along with a motto in stylised font: You got it, we’ll cover it!

The inside of the office was truly a sight to behold for those interested in antiques. There was a colourful and only slightly worn belt which was once given as a prize in Johto. It was hung between an intricately woven pokémon contest ribbon from Sinnoh and a pretty Kalosian tiara. Above them was a row of hats, each one worn by an award-winning actor in decades gone by.

Every item was securely displayed with a description, the year, and at how much it had last been valued. In the corner, a wooden mask with a pink circle on its nose squatted inside a glass case with no price tag.

There sat Rue Maxwell in front of it all, enjoying a hot cup of ginger tea. Nearly everything in the room was beautifully arranged - fitting her instructions perfectly - and she could tell it left an impression on the people who walked in here. Though the office was quiet today, the phone lines kept Rue busy enough, at least. She twirled the cord around as she discussed a motorcycle claim.

“I’m so sorry, Ms. Livesey, but we don’t cover damage done by the owner,” she explained. “Unless you can provide proof that the accident was unavoidable, there just isn’t much we can do… Yes, I understand you feel that way… Have you considered walking to work?”

Her fun was interrupted when the door tinkled to announce a large, tattooed man who pushed his way inside. He brandished a crumpled-up slip of paper. “Excuse me! You!”

Rue raised an eyebrow. “Something’s come up, would you mind holding? Yes, again! Thank you.” She put down the phone. “How may I help?”

He shook the paper again. “What’s the meaning of this?”

“What’s the meaning of what? I can’t read anything with you waving it around like that.”

“Oi, don’t get smart with me! My boat was destroyed in that Gyarados blast yesterday, and then I get this letter saying you’re not giving me anything for it! What gives!?”

“Let me see that.” Rue Maxwell took the paper from the fuming client, making a show of looking it over through her blue-shaded glasses. “Hmm… I see… Yes, interesting…”

“Well?”

She pointed casually to a block of text. “It says right here why we denied your claim, Mr. Norsworth. The boat was insured against pokémon and theft, but as is plainly written in your contract, that doesn’t include natural disasters.”

The client gritted his teeth. “Yes, I get that. But it was a disaster caused by a pokémon.”

“Still a disaster, then. And how can we even know the Gyarados had anything to do with it?”

“For crying out-“ He facepalmed. “You’re talking to a sailor! I know how the tides work around here, okay? There was no way my boat would have been damaged where it was, if it weren’t for the Gyarados.”

“Well, I beg to differ.”

“You what?! I’ve paid on time, every month, for years! That boat was my life! My job, my livelihood! And now we’re sunk because some jumped-up bureaucrat ‘begs to differ’? What the HELL have we been paying you for, then?”

“…Peace of mind?”

It was as if she had set off a bomb; Mr. Norsworth’s bellowing response carried well outside the office, letting every pedestrian nearby know exactly how he felt about this. One of them was an Orresian man walking by the front entrance. He stopped, turned his back to them, and moved just out of view.

Rue waved a hand and waited for a space in her client’s rant. “Mr. Norsworth… Mr. Norsworth! Listen. You seem to be working under the assumption that Delcatty Insurance should be your personal Swinub bank whenever something goes wrong.

“The reality is, I’ve got a business to run here. I don’t care what you may think you’re entitled to; you should have done your due diligence when you signed with us.”

“This… can’t be legal!” he spluttered. “Give me what I’m owed, or I’ll… I’ll sue you!”

Rue sat and stared at the red-faced sailor who had slammed his hand on the counter to punctuate this threat. The only sound now was a constant ticking from a grandfather clock to her right.

Then, she broke into a smile. “Do you know how many clients I have a year?

“Uh… Why would I ca-“

“And how many of them tried threatening me with litigation?”

“Well, I don’t-”

“You’re not even the first this week!” Rue laughed. “Go ahead, Popeye, give it a try. My family’s lawyers will tie you up in courts so long you’ll be lucky if you see any money after the legal costs. Understand?”

The client stood there smouldering, but he couldn’t disagree.

“Now, unless you have actual business here, I suggest you go get a new boat. I’ll be right here if you ever need it insured. Could even throw in a discount for the first month, how about that?”

A raised middle finger was his only response as he stormed out the door.

“Lovely. Thank you for choosing Delcatty Insurance!” Rue put her feet up on her desk and hummed herself a tune. She watched the blinking red dot on the phone and wondered how long Ms. Livesey would wait this time.





After a little more sightseeing, the crew left the inner city to continue their journey. Carlos watched the brick pathway become gravel as they approached the nature trail where their base was set.

Normally, Carlos would be scanning the trees for large Flying types, but today he was staring at his own feet as he walked on.

All logic pointed to today being their last day in Slateport City unless he found a pokémon who could cross Route 132 for him. There weren’t any badges here, and if he dawdled long enough he would miss his connection to Pacifidlog. It wasn’t worth the risk to start another long con - not unless he spent days putting together a proper plan - and he had to focus on ways to get past Juan.

They could always come back later; Miracle Eye was a permanent fixture of Slateport’s high street. It stayed open nearly every day of the year, so unless some freak storm interrupted business hours Carlos could return as soon as he’d won his team back.

They had to go, but it was a shame to say goodbye to Slateport so soon; That one store sure looked interesting… Perhaps there was time to pay J a visit.





Carlos was so lost in his own thoughts that he didn’t notice the looks Artemio was giving Teresa, nor the hissed requests to follow him away from the group. Unfortunately, Teresa didn’t either. That, or she just didn’t care.

Eventually, Artemio lost his patience. He focused on a pebble. When it began to rise, he flicked his wand.

The pebble flew over to bounce off of Teresa’s neck. She twisted around, murder in her eyes until she saw the culprit. “Oh. You. What do you want?”

He just gestured to the side.

Sighing, the Serperior doubled back to follow him into a tunnel. It was concrete, featuring an almost professional-grade mural of a Scrafty on one side that had long since been overtaken by scribbles and signatures. The design of the tunnel made it sound as if Teresa was everywhere at once, rather than just next to him.

“…So, you have me alone. What’s next?” Teresa asked with a commanding flick of the tongue.

“I needed to talk to you. It’s important, you got a minute?”

“Yes,” she huffed, drawing herself up. “Spit it out!”

“W-well, see here, Teresa. I needed to tell you something.”

One thing Art would never get used to was how much taller Teresa was. The way her eyes glinted as they observed him made his heart beat ever so slightly faster, but the Braixen stood his ground as he recalled the lessons Carlos taught him. Information is power; don’t give it away for free.

Art crossed his arms - was that right? - as he faced Teresa. “I’m still not sure we can trust you, to be honest.”

“I’m still on the team, aren’t I? I saved the last heist, so I’d say I’ve earned my place,” she said.

“So was Frida until she screwed everything up. I’m not letting that happen again, even if you’ve got Carlos convinced.

“I know what you did in the Gym was heroic, but it was also pretty convenient for you. You wouldn’t want to be trapped in there any more than Carlos would, so I have to ask: did you actually do that for him… or yourself?”

“Would you even believe me if I told you?” Teresa asked in a low rumble.

“That’s not an answer, Teresa.”

“Kyogre’s grace… I don’t really care what you think of me!” she laughed, her tail twitching behind her. “The boss trusts me, and that’ss all that matters. Yes, I’m here for the team, but if it bothers you I’m better at this than you are, take it up with Carlos.”

Art wrinkled his nose. “So, you’re here to be a bully. You’ll behave as long as he’s around, but as soon as he turns his back you show your true colours. I saw how you treated Tichu back in Petalburg!”

“Back in- oh. Right, that was just a bit of fun-“

“I don’t want to hear it!” Art’s ears flared. “Act the big ‘mon all you want, but these are my friends. If you upset any of them and I find out about it, your ass is grass.”

A smirk crossed Teresa’s face, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “Hey, if you want to fight me, all you have to do is ask.”

“I won’t.”

He turned and strode quickly back to the group, feeling the Serperior’s gaze on his back as they walked on.





Carlos found J after some searching around; their deli was rarely in the same place twice, but it was always easy enough to find. They operated from a trailer, selling burgers and doner kebab on the public side, so there were usually signs put up in the area.

J was a friendly chef who Carlos had first met during a job back in his Trick House days. They changed their name often, but since it always began with ‘J’ that was how most people knew them. Today they had short, purple hair, a chevron moustache, and white eyebrows which shot up once J noticed Carlos waiting there.

“Hey there!” said J. “Long time, no see! How you doing, mate?”

“Fine, fine! How’s business?”

J shrugged. Their apron was immaculate, which told Carlos the deli was not nearly busy enough for them so far. “It’ll pick up soon. I can’t complain. Anyhoo, what have you been up to?”

“Oh… This and that. Nothing too exciting.”

The chef furrowed their brow. “You sure? You haven’t come by in a while… Is ‘this and that’ anything I should be worried about?”

He laughed. “I just took a vacation. Everything’s fine, J!”

“Good to know. So, you looking to buy something? I’ve got some good patties today, and fresh blocks for the pokémon too.” J leaned in and said with a wink, “Though if you came here to make a ‘substitution’, I can bring out the big menu.”

Carlos thought this over, though eventually he shook his head. “Can’t think of anything right now. I’ll just take some pokéblocks today.”

“Alright! Coming right up!”

As J got to work cutting and wrapping the blocks, Carlos leaned on the side of their trailer. He thought about J’s offer, and how they might be of help.

Though they had never joined the Trick House officially, everyone there knew them and they sometimes got involved in the more complicated cons. Carlos wondered where they’d learned the art of forgery, seeing as they lived such a genuine life otherwise.

“That’ll be ₽72,020,” J said. “Sure there’s nothing else?”

Carlos frowned. “Actually, maybe there is. What can you tell me about ‘Delcatty Insurance’?”





Later on in the secret base, the crew finished another delicious lunch. Teresa was sleeping it off in the corner, with Dipa clinging to the wall on the other side with the last of her pokéblock. The last time she had eaten it over Teresa, the Serperior complained about crumbs so loudly that Carlos had to step in and split them up!

Natasha was reading the section on Juan, taking note of what security features might be present, while Art and Carlos were playing poker again. Tichu sat on the table to spectate the two of them, having promised not to look at either of their cards.

Once the game was over, Carlos cleared his throat. “So! While I was in town, I think I found a promising mark, if anyone’s interested?”

Artemio looked up from his paltry share of the winnings, his eyes shining. “Oh? Tell us about it!”

“Her name is Rue Maxwell, and she runs a small insurance racket right in the centre of Slateport. It’s called ‘Delcatty Insurance’ and it’s got quite the reputation…”

Tichu had her paw up at once. “What’s insurance?”

Carlos smiled at her. “‘Insurance’ is a fancy word that just means you pay someone a fee to look after your stuff, and if something happens to it, they pay you back so you can get it replaced or whatever. There’s more to it than that, but it’s not really important for this con-”

“So, nothing to do with Assurance?”

“Ha, nope! Good thinking though. Anyway, Delcatty’s claim to fame is that they’ll cover anything you’ve got, anywhere, for any length of time. That’s rare, and it would justify the sky-high rates they charge. However it’s all a big lie. Rarely does anyone get any sort of payout if something does happen, because the contracts are so full of loopholes Rue can just walk through them.”

Art grinned. “Sounds like the sort we’d go after, for sure! What’s the way in?”

“Well, I talked about her with my friend, J, who makes counterfeit money. They know about Rue, and they told me she has a problem they reckon we could ‘solve’.

“You see, Rue collects historical items and displays them in her store, to give the place some clout. They’re worth a lot, and whenever things get heated and a lot of people are calling her out over her unethical business model, she sells one of them off. Proceeds go to some flavour-of-the-month charity, the bad publicity gets buried, and, of course, she gets a nice tax write-off.”

“How selfless of her,” Artemio drawled.

“So, what, we sell her something historical? Something this J person makes up?” asked Tichu, who was trying to keep up with the idea of ‘taxes’, ‘insurance’, and ‘business models’.

Carlos scratched his nose. “…Not exactly. That wouldn’t get too far, not if she has the sense to check if it’s genuine. Luckily, she does have one thing in her collection that could help us. It’s an old ceremonial mask that she bought thinking it was worth millions. It was worth millions, but the problems started once she got it appraised. Turns out it holds religious value, meaning Hoenn law bars her from making profit off of it. That includes anything off of ‘charitable donations’.”

Tichu just cocked her head.

“Don’t worry, I’m getting to the point,” Carlos promised with a laugh. “In a nutshell, she has a really valuable item that she’s not allowed to do anything with. She does have it insured against theft, however…”

Artemio was the first to connect the dots. “So, if someone were to steal it, they’d actually be doing her a favour!”

He gave a thumbs-up. “Exactly! I bet she’d pay five to six figures if it meant getting rid of that thing. So, what do we think, guys? It’s not risk-free, but there’s also a lot of money in this one if we play it right. Good opportunity for a low-stakes heist, too!”

After a lengthy pause, Tichu spoke up. “How long will this take?”

“Yeah, actually. We’re on the clock, boss, don’t forget!”

“It’ll be two days at most. We still need a flyer or a swimmer to have any chance of reaching Sootopolis, so we’ll be recruiting for that long anyway. May as well get a job in while we’re here,” Carlos reasoned.

Tichu thought about this, then shrugged with her ears. “Okay, but if it starts dragging on, we’ll have to cut it short. Right?”

“Of course,” he agreed. “So, that’s one yes?”

Artemio held up a paw. “Two. Just don’t tell Rue about our other heists!”

“I don’t care,” Teresa said. “Wake me up when we’re catching wilds again.”

“I still have no idea what a tax is!” Dipa buzzed.

Natasha, who had been quiet up to this point, floated over to Carlos. “Don’t think I haven’t figured out why you’re doing this… Thank you. I’m in, too.”


Carlos shared her grin. “Fantastic. In that case, I’m off to commit some insurance fraud.”

Insurance: In blackjack, a side bet that is usually half one's original wager and pays 2 to 1 in case the opponent wins the pot. The bet may be between the players involved in the all-in, or can also be between a player in the hand and another not in the hand.

...what do you mean, pokémon don't know what an insurance is??
It's nice to have an opportunity to bring my Crobat, back into the story, if only as a background character! (edit: J, not the insurance mark!) I'm really looking forward to this con, and I hope it plays out as well as it does in my head :D
There's a reason why I chose Delcatty as the name for the insurance, and people who've tried one competitively will know why!
Didn't really go for any references with names this time around, though I ended up with one by accident with Ms. Livesey :v:
Also, Obelisk and I finally took a look at how much pokéblocks might cost. Turns out they're exponsive if you include any of the rarer berries


For generations, there was peace in Hoenn. It grew to become a thriving region which rivalled Alola for natural beauty - as it does today - but the decision to allow weather 'mon ownership to only farmers still drew major criticism.

In 2058, Maxie Thawne formed an organisation which would later be known as Team Magma. While they operated as a pokémon fan group at first, they were very visible on the political stage as a group who decried the weather 'mon ban, in particular pokémon who could learn Sunny Day. Their motto was "Let The Sun Rise", and membership grew exponentially in the coming years.

One admin, however, was dissatisfied with the focus of the group. Archie Caspian, a retired sailor from Slateport, complained that too much attention was given to sun 'mons. He felt rain 'mons, such as his Pelipper, were derided by the group rather than celebrated as they should be. Every time Maxie gave a speech about the benefits of Sunny Day, Archie was sure to cut in with a reminder of how we need rain even more.

Infighting was regularly reported during this period, including a fistfight between the two admins. Membership stalled as a result, and so the government started a new push to shut the group down. Before that could happen, however, Archie and his own followers split off to form Team Aqua. The remnants rallied behind Maxie to form Team Magma. Now there were two weather Teams.

♣️ ♦️ ♥️ ♠️
 
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Black Viper

Conqueror of the Cianwood Gym
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
5195
Caught
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
351
Location
England
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Poison
Pokédex Entry
Considered bitter by many.
Hopefully they give Rue what she deserves, an unscrupulous insurance seller is a bit of a trope, but it's based in reality and very deserving. Hustle her good, Carlos!

Maybe I'm biased because I like Teresa, but I feel like Art's a bit unjustified in this. She may be a bit mercurial, but she's not Frieda and she's not proven herself to be disloyal so far, even going as far as to patch things up with Pier. Hopefully she proves him wrong, and not me...
 

MegaInfernape

Wisher for the Return of Megas
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
5257
Caught
Feb 13, 2022
Messages
39
Nature
Hasty
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
  1. Electric
  2. Fire
Pokédex Entry
Has a very erractic mind. It is not uncommon for it to be seen moving from one activity or project to another.
*chanting* Rue is boutta get her pockets ran! Rue is boutta get her pockets ran!

Anyways, man i could feel the sailor's anger at not getting his money though.
"Well you're not insured against natural disasters"
"That was literally a Gyrados, though"

Despite Art, y'know being a little paranoid, he is kinda maybe justified in being sus of Teresa after the whole Frida incident. Hopefully the snek proves him wrong though.
 

Leon Yorunaki

I'll Spirit Shackle you!
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
453
Caught
Jul 9, 2019
Messages
856
Nature
Rash
Pokémon Type
  1. Grass
  2. Ghost
Whoa... Why do I feel that "calm before the storm" energy here?
Then again, I still can't find the link between all the pieces around that mild con. Between the insurance company, the counterfeit money from J (which I mistakenly thought about Juan when Carlos mentioned it the first time) and him needing extra savings for Natasha (I felt bad for her, but luckily things will work out at the end)
Talking about working out, Natasha will need to pull her weight if the the company name is any indication.

And I probably missed the Crobat reference somewhere down the road...
 
OP
Vivace

Vivace

Designated Meganium Defender
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
204
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
1,300
Location
Fochun
Nature
Brave
Pronouns
He/Him / They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Fighting
Pokédex Entry
The Lad Pokemon, Vivace's main powers are photoshop and chatting shit. Manages the unofficial nuzlocke football team.
♣️ ♦️ ♥️ ♠️

Here's the last update before the zine releases on Nov. 30th! I'm quite proud of it, and looking back on this year I am absolutely floored that I managed to get this far with at least a semi-regular post schedule. 20 chapters!! I can't believe it :sun:
I might wind down at the end of the year, since I'm behind on a lot of storylockes and I should try to avoid burnout, plus I want to get a buffer going which always seems to be easier said than done! I'll make a post if my every-other-week goal changes, but for now, chapter!!

@Black Viper Oh yeah, very much a trope. I hope it's not too obvious, but then again I do enjoy how little of a damn she gives xD

@MegaInfernape Rue is boutta get her pockets ran!! Rue is boutta get her pockets ran!!
Also I see both of you and Black Viper's sides and well, time will tell!

@Leon Yorunaki The pieces are still getting set up, but you'll get a clearer picture by next chapter I expect! It's probably the longest con so far since I'm taking my time with it.
Ah, well, I sent you looking at the wrong character! That's my mistake.

When Carlos entered the Delcatty Insurance office, he came masquerading as someone with money to spare. They covered everything, apparently, and his character was here to take advantage of that. He asked Rue Maxwell for a quote for his home insurance. And his collection of sports merchandise. And his luxury car.

With each item, Rue’s interest in the grifter became more pronounced. Or, at least, her interest in the depth of his wallet.

“Well well, that’s certainly a lot of items, Mr. Moreno, but our system can handle it. Your first payment would be this Sunday, and after that it’ll be the first of each month. Will that work for you?”

Carlos stretched out in his seat. “I’ll have to shop around a bit first, but I think so. Actually, can I throw in my other car?”

“Another car?” She looked Carlos up and down. “What is it you do for a living, anyway?”

“Oh, this and that…” he began offhandedly. He was about to elaborate when one of the pieces of memorabilia on the wall caught his eye. “Hey… Is that the Top Dragon pilot helmet Ace wore?! The one played by Bob Bruise?”

Ms. Maxwell grinned. “Hey, yes it is! Good eye!”

“I loved that movie!! The action, the romance, the… everything! You must be so proud to have the original here. I’m assuming it’s the original? How much did it cost?” Carlos inquired in a rush.

“₽18,500,000. I got this one in the same auction,” Ms. Maxwell said, tapping another display case.

Once Carlos recognised the cap as one from Truth and Ideals, he gushed about that one too, moving down the line until the conversation stalled. “…This is an amazing collection, but it’s all out in the open,” he told her. “Do you ever worry about theft?”

“No, it’s very well secured. So don’t go getting any ideas, mister.”

He gave her a short nod. “That’s cool. And it’s insured, of course.”

“Of course. But maybe I shouldn’t tell you with whom it’s insured,” she replied with a wink. “I might lose your business to them!”

“Ah, that’s too bad. I would’ve liked to know more. But what’s this in the corner here?”

Carlos was pointing at a mask made of finely carved aspen wood. It had a blue face made to look like a Diancie, and on its nose was a pink circle to represent its dazzling coloured diamonds.

Ms. Maxwell looked over to where he was pointing, then sighed ever so slightly. “Ah, yes. It’s an old mask, nothing special.”

“Nothing special!? It must be hundreds of years old! If you don’t want it, perhaps I can take it?” Carlos asked, bringing out a roll of cash.

She waved him down. “Don’t be silly, it’s worth more than that. But anyway-“

“-I have more, hang on-“

“-No, really. I can’t sell it. Legal won’t allow it, no matter how much money you have,” she grumbled.

Carlos looked around, then put his elbow on the desk. “…I’m sure we could work something out. A ‘donation’, maybe? Y’know, I’ve been in the game long enough to know there’s always a loophole of some sort…”

“Not for this one. The law’s clear: I can’t take money for it in any way, at all.” She clicked her tongue. “Believe me, I’ve checked. The only way is for me to give it away for free, and that’s not happening.”

“Hmm, I get it. You can’t sell it, or donate it… but are you sure there’s no way I can take it off your hands? No way at all?”

Carlos watched as Ms. Maxwell considered his unspoken suggestion. She looked askance at the mask in question, her brow furrowed, but until she gave an answer Carlos had to hold his tongue. This was the moment where the con was at its most fragile; any push from him could send her in the wrong direction.

“You’re thinking of stealing it?”

There it was.

“Oh, gods no, not ‘stealing’,” Carlos replied. “I prefer to think of it as… ‘asset liberation’.”

Rue leaned back in her chair, chuckling at such blatant doublespeak.

“You asked me how I got so rich,” he said, leaning back as well. “It’s true, I have taken a few shortcuts along the way, helped in part by my expertise in the art of forgery… but most of my work has been with honest individuals, such as yourself, who have an asset problem that lawyers cannot solve.”

“You were never going to take an insurance claim here, were you?” she asked with a smile.

Carlos returned it. “No, and aren’t you glad that I didn’t?”

When Rue sat up again, so did Carlos. He pressed his advantage. “And hey, who doesn’t like to bend the rules from time to time? It’s a sad fact of life here that judges will trample over your ambitions with their arbitrary rules and regulations. The power is all theirs, and on top of that they expect you to pay their wages as well… Why not take the opportunity to fix the balance once in a while?”

“So, let me see if I’m following you here. You’re proposing I let you waltz out of here with my property, and I claim the money for it?”

“I’m proposing a way for you to collect on your investment while avoiding the red tape, yes.”

Rue took a long breath, drumming her fingers on the counter. She looked at the mask again. “I… No, I don’t think I can.”

“Why not?”

“I’m afraid it’s that red tape.” She smirked. “Insurance fraud is a serious crime, you know. Plus, I actually like that mask.”

Carlos stood up, hiding his disappointment. “Of course you do. You wouldn’t buy it if you didn’t at least like it. But wouldn’t it be nice to replace it with something you can monetise?”

Before she could respond, he was on his way out. “Oh well, it was just a thought. How about you take some time to think it over, and when I come back you can give me a definite answer then? I’d leave a business card, but, you know…” Carlos flashed a smile. “Best not advertise this line of work.”

After some thought, Ms. Maxwell nodded. “Sure, but don’t expect me to change my mind.”

He bowed slightly, then the bell tinkled as he left Rue to her thoughts.




“Awww, the con’s off?”

“Kind of… Not exactly,” Carlos told Tichu. They were resting at the edge of Slate Beach, watching surfers catch some waves and young trainers frolic with their new pokémon. He’d changed into his old shoes in jeans, preferring not to get sand all over his con outfit.

“But you said she didn’t take the bait.”

He nodded. “She hasn’t, not yet. But the key thing is, she didn’t tell me off for suggesting it, or threaten to call the cops. She liked the idea.”

“But then, why wouldn’t she just say so?”

“I didn’t expect her to. Not counting the mask, Rue has price listings on every item, along with all this information and whatever else she thinks is impressive about it. She’s clearly very proud, and a collector at heart, so even though she wants that mask gone she won’t actually come out and say it.”

“You’re sure about that?”

Carlos shrugged. “I wouldn’t put all my money on it, but she’s at least tempted. That mask is dragging her down, and now I’ve given her an idea on what to do with it. She’ll even think she came up with it herself! That might clinch it for us; marks love to feel they’re in charge. I’ll give her a couple hours to make a decision… After that we’ll know whether the con’s on or not.”

“But what if she does say no?”

“…Then that’s that.”

“Seriously?” The Stunky pouted.

“Yeah. Remember, Tichu, you don’t con an honest man. If Rue takes the out I gave her, I have to respect that.” Carlos looked wistfully back at Slateport City. “We’ll find some other way to win that money if we have to.”

“Fine…”

“There’s always the casino…” Carlos said, more to himself than Tichu.

While they waited for Rue to make her mind up, they went beachcombing for Water types. A Horsea and a Poliwag both turned Carlos’ offer down, as was typical at this point. At least they were both polite about it.

Carlos was in the middle of a fight between Tichu and a surprisingly large Lotad when he turned to see a Seismitoad! The giant frog was barrelling towards them, using its arms to propel itself forward. It halted in front of them and thumped its chest, as if to say “Give me your best shot!”

“Uhhh, okay,” Carlos said as he brought Teresa out.

One Leaf Tornado later, Jimmy the Seismitoad was sitting in front of them with a wide, relaxed grin. “Colour me surprised. You’re a lot stronger than you look,” he told Carlos.

Carlos rubbed the back of his head. “Thanks, I guess. I’ve kind of lucked into my team.”

“It sorta looks like it, if you don’t mind my saying.”

Being a Seismitoad, Jimmy’s height was just under five feet. He was almost as wide as he was tall and looked strong enough to tie Carlos in a knot if he wanted to! The only part of Jimmy that didn’t resemble a bodybuilder at their peak was his right leg, which was half the size of his left and seemed to be immobile.

When he noticed Carlos looking, he raised himself off the ground with his gorilla arms to give everyone a better look. “Yeah, it ain’t pretty is it? I tore my tail fin as a Tympole… Turns out that had its consequences!”

“Does it hurt?” Carlos asked.

“Naw, not any more.” Jimmy smiled appreciatively when Carlos didn’t probe further. “So, anyway, what’s your deal? What’s an amateur like you doing out here with a Serperior?”

“That’s an excellent question. Would you mind me starting at the beginning?”

“Sure, no rush.”

Carlos and Tichu ran through the summary of what had happened to them, once again; it was easier each time, of course, but there was a growing element of impatience as Carlos waited for his new catch to object to something.

The black-and-blue bumps above Jimmy’s eyes raised higher as he took it all in. “Well now… Wasn’t expecting a movie pitch from you guys.”

“It’s all true,” Carlos insisted.

“I’ll bet,” he told them with a chuckle. “And I suppose you want a Water type to help you out.”

“Yes, please!”

“Hmmmmm…”

Jimmy looked from Carlos, to Teresa, to Tichu, the bumps on his body wobbling as he gave another long ‘hmmmmmmmmm’. The Wingull calls and the sound of waves coming in filled the silence. Tichu opened her mouth, but Carlos silently reminded her not to rush the new catch’s decision.

Eventually, he nodded. “Sure, I’m interested… but I’d be lying if I said I like the idea of taking orders from a badgeless newbie.”

“Technically we have three,” Carlos pointed out.

“Eh, but you didn’t win ‘em. You said yourself you’re just getting lucky so far. So, ‘fore I sign on to a life of crime, I want to know what you’re really made of.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“A battle.”

Carlos frowned. “We already caught you, though?”

Jimmy laughed; it was a deep, croaking laugh one would expect from a Seismitoad. “Oh, no, not me! I’m talking about a real challenge. If you can beat Elsa one-on-one, I’ll join you guys… Hope you’ve got an Ice type with you.”

“Don’t tell me your friend’s a Flying type,” Carlos said, hardly daring to hope.

“Nope! Dragon/Ground.”

“Drago-“ he coughed. “Garchomp?”

“That’s right! Yeah, she lives right over there. She’s blind, but don’t you underestimate her-“

“Not again!” Tichu cried out.

“Great, round two,” Teresa said.

“We’ve met her,” Carlos explained once he’d picked his jaw up off the floor. “That is, assuming she’s the one you’re talking about. Does she have a lot of battle scars?

“Battle scars?” Jimmy let out another low, throaty laugh. “Oh man, she’s gonna love you guys. Naw, that’s just from all the bumps and scrapes she’s had over the years. Did you guys fight already, then?”

“Not really, more like ‘running for our lives’.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” the Vibration pokémon chuckled. “She was probably curious. She doesn’t get visitors often.”

Carlos shared the laugh. “I see… Sorry, we’ve had run-ins with wilds before and didn’t want to chance it.”

“I get it, yeah-“

Tichu cut in. “Hang on! If she’s blind, then how’d she even get enough experience to evolve?”

“Oh, that’s simple,” Jimmy replied casually. “She gets by on a nice steady diet of fish, rocks, and pokémon who ask stupid questions.”

Tichu’s face reddened, and she took a few steps back.

Carlos picked her up, then frowned at Jimmy. “Please, don’t scare my Stunky like that. She could use a little more tact, but she didn’t mean anything rude by it. I’m sure you were a curious kid once.”

“Hey!”

“Fair enough, fair enough. Don’t worry ‘bout it,” Jimmy said, waving one of his enormous arms. “But yeah. Truth be told, Elsa’s a softie at heart. She wouldn’t attack you seriously unless you really tick her off.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” Carlos said, giving Tichu one last pet.

“…So, are you guys ready for the big leagues, or is this where we part ways?”

“Jimmy, you’re looking at the big leagues,” Teresa stated. She flexed her tail. “You should be asking Elsa if she’s ready to fight me!”

Though Teresa had just decided for him, Carlos couldn’t think of any reason to contradict her… other than the giant Dragon-typed one. He gave a curt nod. “We’ll do it.”

“Then good luck, guys. Say hello from me!”




The journey to Elsa’s cave was short, familiar, and took a very long time. Carlos double-checked that everyone was healthy after their last training session, and there was also a private discussion to be had about what to do next.

“So, what do we think?” Carlos asked once everyone was up to speed. “We can either catch her, and add Jimmy to the team as well, or leave without either of them.”

“We get to have a Garchomp on the team?” Dipa squeaked. “Aaaaaaaahhh, how exciting!!”

“Exciting’s one word for it,” Artemio remarked.

“Scary’s another,” Natasha added.

Tichu raised her paw. “I know it’s scary… but think about it! We get to have our own Garchomp! And it’s not like she’s a cop or anything.” She paused. “Hey! What if she can pretend to be one?”

“That’s… not a bad idea,” said Carlos. He ruffled Tichu’s fur, thinking again about whether that could work.

“Well, as long as it’s just pretend, that’s the only thing that should matter,” Natasha said. “Who would fight her, though? Teresa?”

“She volunteered, yeah.”

Art looked over at Teresa, his expression inscrutable. “You did, did you?

“Anything for the team,” she replied in an amused tone. Art pretended not to notice.

“I can fight too,” Dipa offered. “If you need my help!”

“Thanks, Dipa, but Jimmy asked for it to be one against one,” Carlos said with a sigh. “Don’t stop working on your Ice Beam, though! We’ll really need it in the next couple of weeks.”

“Yes, boss!” Dipa started firing puffs of snow into the ground again. None of them could be considered a beam yet, but occasionally one managed to leave an icy groove on impact.

Carlos crossed his arms. “So guys, what do you think? Is it a good idea?”

“I’m all for it to be honest,” Artemio said. “Assuming Elsa is someone we can trust, it would be good to have her on the team. Garchomp or not.”

Natasha bobbed up and down. “Agreed. We need all the help we can get.”

When Carlos looked at each of his crewmates in turn, he realised the decision was unanimous. Somehow, this was actually happening.

“Alright then,” he said. “Teresa, get ready to fight a dragon!”





“There has to be a weakness we can use, though.” The grifter leafed through his copy of So You Want to Train a Dragon, trying to cram as much information as he could as they walked. “It says here Garchomps have excellent hearing… I could go get a whistle, just in case, and if I blow it at the right time-“

“-She probably would try and kill us,” Teresa finished dryly.

“…Yeah, fair point there. Alright, what if…”

“Carlos!” She thumped her tail against the ground impatiently. “I don’t need your help! I know how to fight; this’ll be a lot easier if you just trust me and stop trying to cheat!”

Reluctantly, Carlos closed the book. “Alright. If you say you can take on a Garchomp, Teresa, I believe you. Good luck.”

Teresa raised her chin. “Tch.”

He steeled himself as they entered the cave’s mouth. Now that Carlos was looking at it as a home rather than just a cavern, he noted the densely packed sand and studied the openings in the roof which let a moderate amount of sunlight in. In every Slateport cave he’d been to, the walls were rough granite which jutted out from many angles. Here, however, they had all been smoothed out up to a certain height. No wonder Tichu found a secret base spot so easily.

There was still no sign of the cave’s resident. Carlos cleared his throat, then called out. “Elsa? Jimmy sent us here! We’re here to… challenge you to a fight!”

A pair of yellow eyes appeared from deeper in, followed by that signature star of a Garchomp; she stomped forward until they could see her in full view. Sand covered most of her body. He could see the scars as well, especially on her head and the sides of her tail. She wore what seemed like a good-natured expression, though the size and sharpness of her teeth made it hard to tell.

“So, uh…” Carlos swallowed his alarm bells and gestured to Teresa. “If Teresa - the Serperior here - wins, we catch you. One against one, no items. Deal?”

Elsa’s lips thinned, and she rumbled a response… then she stomped the ground again. A dust devil formed between them, despite the stillness of the air a moment ago, then it dissipated.

Carlos stepped back as Teresa slithered forward. “I think that means yes. Do your best, Teresa!”

The Serperior just scoffed. She took her position in the middle of the cave, turning her head to track Elsa as the Garchomp began to flank her. Carlos listened intently to the heavy stomps and the quiet shifting of coils, wondering who would have the opening move.

Elsa raised a pillar of sand just in time for Teresa to uncoil and slam against it! Her head went straight through it, and it took a second for her to break the sand up. Elsa walked backwards, then spun her tail into the ground to smack Teresa in the face with more sand before the snake could strike again.

Teresa glowed green as she tried a Leaf Tornado, but when yet more sand got in the way she had to start moving again before she could be submerged in it. Some leafs cut into Elsa’s hide, but most of them merely bounced off and fluttered to the ground.

A vine wrapped around one of Elsa’s wings, and before she could rip it off Teresa connected with a bite! Her tail looped around Elsa’s midriff, causing the dragon to thrash about as she squeezed… but it wasn’t long before Elsa countered. She kicked upwards, using the spikes on her leg to dislodge Teresa. Elsa’s clawed arm then tore through the air above Teresa as she backed up for another attack.

Carlos started forward. “Teresa, wait! She’s using Ground attacks! Get up in the air!”

“I didn’t ask for your input,” Teresa hissed as she dove in for a Mega Drain only for Elsa to bat her away with her tail.

“But there’s too much sand! Use your vines-“

“SHUT UP! I can do this!”

But when Teresa lunged forward, she could only make it halfway through Elsa’s next barrier before the Garchomp let it topple forward, burying the Serperior in a mass of sand. She got back up with an enraged hiss.

The fight continued in this way, with Elsa taking small, calculated steps forward and back to stay out of Teresa’s range. Even though he stood well away from the fight itself, Carlos was battered by sand whenever Elsa summoned a dust devil. He could only imagine how rough it was on Teresa.

Teresa punched through another slab of sand, giving her enough time to launch herself at her opponent. Time seemed to slow as the Serperior and Garchomp met in close range, and through the spray of sand Carlos could make out a streak of red as Elsa’s claw slid across Teresa’s midsection!

“TERESA!”

Amazingly, Teresa retreated to Carlos’ side, and Elsa let her do so. The Serperior’s eyes were wide and her mouth gaped, but when Carlos brought out her Poké Ball she recovered.

She wiped at her cut and managed a smirk. “Stop fussing, it’s just a scrape… I’ve got her now, though. One good hit, that’s all it’ll take.”

Carlos knelt down to examine the cut. It was still bleeding; he had to resist the urge to bring out a Super Potion. Elsa would know. “Alright, it’s not deep, thank Rayquaza… but you’re not going back out there without a new plan,” he told his Serperior.

“No thanks,” she laughed.

“Teresa, I’m serious!”

“Bite me.”

“Damn it, can’t you just listen to me?” Carlos shot back. “Strong or not, you can’t keep lunging at her head-on like this! If you don’t play smart, she’ll just wear you down until you either give up or get cut apart. Do you want to go out like that?”

Teresa’s face scrunched, as if she’d just swallowed a whole lemon.

“…Okay. Tell me the plan,” she said.

“Thank you.

“Elsa’s got total control on the ground; we’re basically fighting her in her own house. If you want to win, use those vines of yours and stay in the air, or else she’ll see your attacks coming every time. Can your vines support your weight?”

Yes.”

He nodded. “Good! Then use them! Get out there and start swinging!”

Carlos could hear the Serperior mutter as she squared up to Elsa again, and he hoped he hadn’t just wasted his breath. Teresa glared back at him, and when she approached Elsa she reared back for a strike as if nothing had happened. Carlos sighed.

Then, Teresa shot a vine upward and hauled herself up before Elsa could summon more sand. The Garchomp turned around, confused, then howled when Teresa’s tail smacked her upside the head! She tried to bite where the tail had been, but of course Teresa managed to swing out of harm’s way. She kept at it, the third time bringing her full weight down on Elsa.

Elsa roared something that would probably make Carlos’ ears curl if he could speak Garchomp, but she couldn’t shift the fight back in her favour. Soon, the dragon tapped out from under a heap of coils! Carlos tossed a Poké Ball as he rushed over to heal Teresa’s cuts and bruises.

“That was great, Teresa!” Carlos cheered to her once her wounds had closed. “Told you, if you use your head you can do anything!”

But instead of smirking, or claiming she had it all under control, Teresa just rolled her eyes and brushed past him. Her long tail made one last groove in the sand as she left the battlefield.

Carlos watched her go, sighing. “…Yeah. That’s fine, ignore me. It’s not like I just helped you beat a Garchomp or anything!!”

Teresa was quiet for most of the journey back, but it was hard for Carlos to worry at the moment. Whenever he thought about the new catch waiting for him in the PC, his mood soared. Finally, he had a full healthy team again, and with three - maybe even four! - fully evolved pokémon by his side, he allowed himself a glimmer of hope. Perhaps he had a chance against Juan after all.

Blind Bet: To place a bet before looking at your cards. Also refers to the forced bets made by players to the left of the dealer.

Yes, we have a Garchomp now! I was pretty scared tbh, but the catch went smoothly enough: Dipa stunned Elsa and took enough health off, then Teresa kept her occupied as I threw everything but the kitchen sink at her. Then it turned out Elsa only had Ground moves, so I didn't need to worry quite as much as I did! Jimmy was actually caught later on in Pacifidlog... I had a lot of routes to get through, so the catch order sorta blurred together in my mind anyway 😅

Top Gun reference ftw! I feel that would be a really fun movie to recapture in the pokémon 'verse.
7HelZXx.png


Tichu (F)
Hasty, Starter (in-game)
Toxic / Slash / Smokescreen / Bite



frosmoth.gif


Dipa the Frosmoth (XF)
Mild, Route 116
Struggle Bug / Ice Beam / Attract / Stun Spore



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Artemio the Braixen (M)
Gentle, Petalburg Woods
Psybeam / Fire Spin / Ember / Flame Charge



shuppet.gif


Natasha the Shuppet (F)
Adamant, Route 105
Knock Off / Screech / Will-O-Wisp / Shadow Sneak



serperior.gif


Teresa the Serperior (F)
Lonely, Route 107
Leech Seed / Growth / Mega Drain / Slam



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Jimmy the Seismitoad (M)
Sassy Nature, Pacifidlog Town
Bubble Beam / Mud Shot / Round / Bubble
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Elsa the Garchomp (F)
Naive Nature, Route 134
Sandstorm / Sand Attack / Bulldoze / Sand Tomb
rookidee.png


Chelsey the Rookidee (X)
Level 6-12



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Kristian the Chingling (M)
Level 5-5



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Valentin the Staravia (M)
Level 5-20



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Pier the Fomantis (M)
Level 5-27



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Frida the Pikachu (F)
Level 11-27

Phoenix grabbed a loaf of raisin bread off the pile and began buttering it. “I did manage to learn some more about the palace guards. Let’s start with the ones we know: those four Psychic-attuned guards manning the watch towers. They’re able to send telepathic messages to each other, which of course is a *nightmare* for us.”

“We’ve got that handled already,” Koru said as Tichu grinned. “Tichu and I’ve figured out how to tell when one of them’s using their powers; they never open their eyes. We’ll just find a window when they’re all looking around, then we knock them out!”

“Great! We can take the back entrance after all. After that…”

“After that it gets tricky,” Dart finished. Frowning, he took another sticky bun. “The vault requires two switches to be flipped simultaneously just to open, and of course Mathieu’s top guards will be stationed near the vault. We’ll need some Ground magic to get past them, so I’ll help escort Jimmy and Elsa to that point. Can you guys handle the switches?”

Art, Tichu, Koru, and Volt each gave a thumbs-up.

“There’s also a ton of guards in the palace itself, so watch out. If we set off any alarms we’ll have a major fight on our hands just to get from point A to B…”

“If that happens, remember to take the fight outside,” Phoenix reminded Dart. “If we let them corner us in a hallway, we’re done for.”

“Right, we’ll use the courtyard then. The good news there… is it’s guarded by a Roserade whose whip is imbued with a lethal toxin.”

“How is that good news?!” Art scoffed.

“Well, if they’re the one who catches us, we wouldn’t have to worry about being locked up for life.”

“…Fair point.”

♣️ ♦️ ♥️ ♠️
 
Last edited:

Black Viper

Conqueror of the Cianwood Gym
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
5195
Caught
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
351
Location
England
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Poison
Pokédex Entry
Considered bitter by many.
It's been a while since Teresa had a chance to show off just what she can do and, yeah, she's very brute force so she does need a bit of coaching, but it's still something.

Those are two very nice additions to the team, you've got a good mix of types now and some powerhouses. In a normal run, where trainers just battle the gym leaders, I would worry for Tichu and Natasha, as they're liable to get overtaken by the newcomers, but Carlos' methods are a little different and a ghost is far more valuable than another powerhouse when you're trying to avoid fights. It'll be interesting to see how both Jimmy and Elsa fit in with the group and if Elsa can even communicate with the others...
 

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