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Thread Description
It's never just a sport. (Posting monthly, Chapter 12 out 01/02!)

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,929
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Legacy casts some big shadows to escape, but that's what Mhairi and Hop are hoping to do by participating in this year's Alban Grand League. It's one of the most intense sporting events in the world, but in Alba, sports are never just about sports...

685fc079f701_Ignoble_Idolatry_banner.png


(Beautiful banner by the endlessly excellent @Zephyr_Iphis !)

Back when Sword and Shield were announced, I think I got about .3 seconds of enjoying the look of the female trainer before getting buried in a flood of "lol angry incomprehensible jock" memes so you know what? Aye! I'm angry! And I'm gaunnae dae a fic about it! Forget Galar, fáilte gu Alba! (And aye, Alba is literally just gaelic for "Scotland", but it feels like it fits in so well with the naming scheme of Pokemon regions :P)

While the narration in this fic will still be in English, the dialogue is primarily in Scots. If you struggle with reading Scots for whatever reason--say, you read a lot of fics in English but English isn't your first language--then it's okay! All I ask is that you back-button out of the fic instead of leaving ignorant comments about it. There are also occasional parts in Scots Gaelic, though I am not fluent in that language so it's really just the wee sprinkling that already exists in most dialects of Scots. If you think I'm being too defensive about any of this, I'd like to point you back at the "lol angry incomprehensible jock" memes; they're not a specific failing of the Pokemon fandom, they're the response Scottish people get every time we open our mouths or write in Scots, including in national British media.

--Scots is a language. Not a dialect, or a pidgin, or "bad English", a language. Both are descended from Middle English, but while English took a lot of influence from Latin and the Romance languages, Scots picked up more from Germanic and Nordic languages as well as, of course, Irish and Scots Gaelic.

--There is no official orthography for Scots due to how long it's taken to have it recognized as a language, though several have been proposed. Some people are ideologically opposed to the idea of "proper Scots", since it just feels like replicating the "SpEaK pRoPeR eNgLiSh" nonsense we all had to deal with all through our schooling. How I write in Scots is based on where I'm from and how me and mine talk, though when it comes to locations in fic based on real places in Scotland I will be taking my best effort at different dialects of Scots.

--I'm just a beginner at studying gaelic myself, so there won't be a lot of it, but sometimes I just gotta show off what I have learned. Scots Gaelic is not a dead language, though it is endangered, and that did not happen naturally; gaelic was made illegal as part of the Culloden Laws and remained illegal for over a century, which does a fair bit of damage to a language, y'know? God I have so much respect for how the Welsh retained and restored their language, gaun yersels

--The history of Hop's house is based on the Clearances, an aspect of the English crown putting huge tracts of Scottish land into the "care" of members of the English aristocracy post-Culloden. Subsistence farmers weren't worth a fraction of the money sheep were, so people were evicted from their homes--sometimes with a week or so warning, sometimes with just a day, and then you had the likes of Patrick Sellar who'd just rock up and start setting houses on fire. This caused an unknown number of deaths as people fled with just the clothes on their backs and died of exposure, and a flood of people into the industrial cities like Glasgow... as well as a ton of people flooding across the sea to Canada and America, to participate in violently driving the indigenous people there off of their land to claim it for themselves. I'm gonna stop here before I go off into too much of a rant about Scotland's complex relationship with colonialism but it's fascinating and horrible and we don't learn about it in schools but we sure can recite the English royal succession from William the Conqueror to Big Lizzy 2!

--Most place names in this fic are changed to be more Scottish, except the Slumbering Weald, because that is an EXCELLENT name.


Anyhoodle, while this fic is based off of a Shield run, it's based in a fictional Scotland-equivalent of my own design called Alba, with place names changed and based on Scottish cities instead of English ones. This fic takes place in The Keyleeverse, so shares key lore with the other fics in that series--the Gab, intelligent Pokemon, Avatars, etc--but is sufficiently removed in time and space from the events of my currently ongoing fics (After Armageddon and Eternal Enmity at the time of writing on the forums) that posting this once a month, as I intend to, shouldn't drag them down or spoil them.

Alright, rules!

  1. Catch only the first Pokemon you encounter in each area.​
    1. Different areas of the Wild Are qualify as distinct areas.​
    2. Dupes clause; this applies across evolutionary lines, so if a Pokemon dies without evolving, its evolved form may not be captured later.​
    3. Shiny clause, though an illegally captured shiny may not be used​
    4. Galar Ponyta clause: I literally chose Shield over Sword for the Ponyta/Rapidash. I am basing this run on SCOTLAND. It would be ILLEGAL for me not to use the unicorn dammit. No catching restrictions apply to acquiring one(1) Ponyta who MUST remain in the party until death do us part.​

  2. Nickname all Pokemon.
    1. Alliteratively.
  3. If a Pokemon reaches 0 HP, it is dead. Bury it in a box and never use it again.
  4. No EXP share. I know we all like a wee bit of socialism in Scotland but the way the EXP share works in Gen VIII makes life WAY to easy.
  5. Set mode only. Switching out Pokemon is permitted but you're gaunnae haftae take the hits.


2020 Extravaganza

Mhairi 🥉 Best Protagonist
Hop 🥉 Best Supporting Character

{31st An Cèitean, 10:58}
{Coille Cottage, Invercoll}



Refresh. Delete a spam email. Refresh. Tidy away a few old emails into new folders. Refresh. Nothing. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

“Gies a break, Mhairi,” Ricky buzzed, the phone vibrating with the Rotom’s synthesized voice. “I’ll gie you a dingle soon as the email comes, aye? Relax an’ watch Leon’s match wi Raihan instead ay refreshin’ yer inbox a hunnert times a minute!”

“I’m too buzzin’ wi nerves, Ricky,” Mhairi complained, tapping the refresh button again.

“Gaunnae no dae that!” Ricky exclaimed, taking over the screen to make a pointedly frowny face at her. “Or I’m gaun on strike, see if I dinnae!”

“Awright, fine,” Mhairi sighed, setting the phone down on her lap and raising her hands in a show of surrender. “Sorry, Ricky. Dinnae mean ta dae your nut in. I just winnae be able tae focus oan a thing ‘til it comes through, ken? We’ve got three days tae register an’ we’ve got tae go aw the way tae bloody Midgow-”

“If you get in, you’ll have a fair bit further tae trek than Midgow,” Ricky pointed out. “Away an’ help yer ma dae the gardens or somethin’!”

“She’s got Marv,” Mhairi said, in defiance of the fact that they both knew full well that the spoilt-rotten Munchlax’s only real contribution to gardening was eating anything that didn’t need to stay in the ground and then napping under a tree. She could hear his voice drifting in from the garden, and while she didn’t have the Gab, she could easily make out the plaintive tone that meant that he had ignored her ma’s warnings and eaten nettles again and was complaining about it. “’Mon, Ricky, just let me—”

“You’ll get the exhibition match an’ you’ll like it,” Ricky said, floating into the air and tuning in to the League channel. “No amount ay botherin’ me is gaunnae make that email come faster, so wheest about it!”

“Aye, fine,” Mhairi groaned, curling up on the couch and fidgeting with the hem of her skirt while she watched the match, trying hard just to focus on the battle and what she could learn from it.

It was always exciting to see Leon and Raihan go at it, no matter how many times they battled and no matter how certain it was that Leon would win in the end, because they were both so high-level that it never felt like a sure thing. While their Pokemon were grappling, the trainers themselves were constantly on the move, running about the field to try and get the best vantage point to direct their Pokemon from. She knew she should pay more attention to Raihan, because she didn’t have the kind of info on him she had on Leon, and she needed to put the work in on all eight Major Leaguers to even be in with a shot at the Champion, but she kept finding her eyes drawn to Leon. He practically flew across the field, always that one step ahead, and when it was time to Dynamax—

“Haud everythin’, it’s here!” Ricky chirped abruptly, pausing the video. “Email fae [email protected]a!”

“Openitopenitopenit!” Mhairi shrieked, flailing in excitement and accidentally launching Ricky into the air in the process. The Rotom Phone flew back to her, giving her a chastising look before floating up to her eyeline and opening the email.


Dear Miss Stuart,

The final scores are in, and we’re pleased to announce that you’ve passed all the necessary assessments to join the Alba League season 3999! We hope you’ll bring your best to round out the millennium with a bang!

Please report to the Midgow Pyro no later than 9pm on Friday, 2nd An t-Ògmhios to register. You may bring up to six Pokemon, but they must have been registered to a trainer card no earlier than 26th An Cèitean to ensure a reasonably level playing field.

Rotom Phones are approved for use as devices only. Attempting to use them in a gym battle, as well as being a breach of their TOS, will result in a lifetime ban from the Alba League. In addition, Working Pokemon Support Services will be contacted.

Congratulations, and the best of luck!

Sincerely,
Greig MacGregor
Alba League Competitor Support


“YAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! YA DANCER!” Mhairi screamed, catching Ricky in her hands and spinning in excited circles. “I’m in, Ricky! I’m gaun tae the Grand League!”

“I noticed! Congrats, Mhairi!” Ricky buzzed excitedly. “Right, are we bookin’ a train tae Midgow or are we teleportin’?”

Mhairi tore through to her room, snatching up her bag and doing a quick check of the contents, as if she hadn’t had it packed and ready to go for a week. The bag itself had been an eighteenth birthday present from her mother last month, an old pack-bag of hers that she’d had refurbished to toughen it up for the challenge ahead. It was jam-packed with hiking supplies and camping equipment that Mhairi had badgered the rest of her friends and family into getting her for her birthday. “I’ve got tae tell Ma, and then I’ve got tae tell Mum—dae us a favour an’ tell Marv?—I’ve got tae tell—”

“MHAIRI!” a familiar voice yelled from the front hallway. “GUESS WHAT!”

Mhairi grabbed her soft old tam off the end of her bed, jammed it onto her head, and ran back into the hall. “Get in, did you?” she said, taking in the expansive grin on her best friend’s face.

Somehow, Hop found even more grin to beam at her. “Too right I did! Did you—you DID!” he whooped, taking in her equally broad grin and hefty backpack and high-fiving her before pulling her into a laughing hug. “AlRIGHT! Well done, mate! Knew you’d kill it!” Wes, one of the spring’s new Wooloo and known around the village to be a lad with big dreams, bleated excitedly at Hop’s side. It was pure luck that Joe, the head woolherd, had caught Hop before Mhairi to introduce a fellow potential League contender, but Mhairi was willing to let Hop get a headstart. He was her best friend, after all, and she was going to kick his Galarian arse later anyway.

“Well done yersel!” Mhairi laughed, giving Wes a congratulatory rub on his soft, wooly head before sitting down to start lacing up her good boots. She’d been breaking them in for a fortnight, and they wrapped comfortably around her well-earned calluses. “C’mon, I’ve got tae tell Ma, then Mum—”

“Good news, is it?” Mhairi’s ma said, stepping inside and stomping dirt from the garden off of her wellies. She did her best to wipe her dark brown hair out of her eyes without getting mud all over her face, then smiled when she got a look at the grins on the two teenagers’ faces. “When I saw Hop comin’ up the path full steam, I wis hopin’—ooh, I’m so proud ay the two ay yous!” She slung an arm around Mhairi’s shoulders, careful not to get muddy hands on her nice wool sweater, and planted a kiss on Mhairi’s forehead, then got another affectionate arm around Hop.

“Thanks, Ma,” Mhairi said, hugging her back, then leaning back so she could straighten her tam and tidy up a few dark blue strands of hair dislodged by her mum’s kiss. “The deadline’s in three days, so we’ve got tae get a shift oan tae get tae Midgow—”

“Hang on, Mhairi! The timing for this is gorgeous, actually, because I’ve got two pieces of good news!” Hop declared, striking a pose. “I got a message from Lee about five minutes before getting my email—he’s coming for a surprise visit! He’ll be coming into Clubbie Station any minute!”

“Lee—yer big brer, Lee? Fuckin’ Champion Leon Kensington, Lee?! HOP!” Mhairi shrieked, skelping his arm.

“How many Lees are in my life, mate?” Hop laughed. “Get a move on, we really do have to go greet him, he’s rubbish with directions and this’ll be his first visit since we moved here! Race you to the station!” He took off out the door before he was even finished talking, Wes rolling at his heels.

“Awright, Ma, I’m aff, but I’ll get the pair ay ‘em back alive,” Mhairi said, crouching to finish tying her laces as fast as she could before she ran after her friend. “If you see Mum afore I do, tell her, aye?”

“Good luck,” her ma laughed as Mhairi ran out the door, waving at Marv as she passed him. Ricky flew after her, pausing momentarily to give the Munchlax the good news.

By the time Mhairi got to the end of her garden, Hop and Wes were already at the end of the road. “Keep up!” Hop yelled back at her.

Mhairi grinned, shifted her pack into a more comfortable position, and took off running.

It felt good, feeling the distance roll away under her feet as she and Hop raced the two miles from their village of Invercoll to the larger Club Hill. She’d always had good grades in PE, but it took more than that to be approved to take on the Alban Grand League. The cross-country hiking legs between each gym started out long but straightforward, then got shorter but extremely taxing in the second half, and prospective League challengers had to be able to prove that they could handle it. Having her best friend working towards the same goal helped, both of their competitive streaks driving them to put in hours more training than Mhairi might have managed on her own. It wasn’t just being physically fit, either—most of the hiking stretches would take days to complete, so competitors had to know how to camp, how to cook, how to care for their Pokemon, how to find their way in the wild, how to identify and avoid dangerous wild Pokemon, and even how to forage if they wanted to save money and find their own food instead of buying from vendors along the route…

Before she knew it, she was overtaking Hop and Wes around about the “Welcome to Club Hill/Fáilte gu An Cnaip” sign, which was a proud achievement given that she was running with her full pack and he just had a wee sports bag that she knew full well was a databag, an item which was very banned from the Grand League for making life just too easy. Though the road to the larger village was long and winding between the old fields, she knew it like the back of her own hand. Invercoll was far too wee to hold up any schools of its own, so she’d always had to take the bus each day to Club Hill Primary, and later Club Hill Academy. She’d started jogging the route when she was about sixteen, and now her legs had the route between patchwork fields of wheat and Wooloo memorized. It seemed like no time at all until the tall purple roof of Magnolia Labs was in sight, the most visible sign that they were coming into Club Hill proper.

“Y’ken I’m no big oan the star signs or tea leaves or what have ye,” Mhairi commented when Hop caught up to her, paused at the top of the last hill down to the train station to catch her breath, “but somethin’, an’ I cannae put a name tae what, is givin’ me the faintest inklin’ that yer big brer might be here awready.”

Hop burst out laughing at the sight of what looked like half of Club Hill crowded outside of the train station, cheering as a huge Charizard blew a plume of flame into the air. “Dunno, mate, might wanna check that one out for myself,” he chuckled, socking Mhairi on the arm. “C’mon, let’s go say hi, I’ll introduce you!”

It took some insistent shoving on Mhairi and Hop’s part, and Wes having his best soft go at people’s knees, to make their way through the excited crowd. When they finally made it to the front, Mhairi couldn’t help staring, and not just because she was within arms’ reach of Alba’s Champion with a record-breaking five-year win streak. She’d seen Leon Kensington in a thousand old photos and a million videos, but up close it was striking how much he looked exactly like Hop. Leon had a waist-length fall of purple hair rather than the short curly mop that Hop sported, and Leon also had a neat little beard, but beyond that they were near-identical—the exact same warm brown skin tone, same bright golden eyes, same little tilt to the nose and shape to the jaw. Put Hop in a wig and swap their clothes and they’d be indistinguishable.

Their faces even brightened up in the exact same grins when the brothers caught sight of each other.

“HOP! Look at you! I’d say you’ve grown an inch and a quarter exactly!” Leon laughed, giving his brother an affectionate noogie on the head. “So, did you get your email?”

“I’m coming for you, bro!” Hop said, striking a pose and a wink. “And it’s not just me—Lee, this is Mhairi!”

“The famous Mhairi! I’ve heard all about you!” Leon gave Mhairi a twinkling smile as he held out his hand.

Be cool, Stuart, Mhairi told herself sternly as she shook it. “It’s an honour tae meet you, sir,” she said, “and it’ll be an honour tae kick yer arse in the Champion’s Cup an Lùnastal!”

“Hah! Confidence! That’s what I like to see in a young trainer!” Leon laughed, clapping her on the shoulder. Mhairi had to sternly instruct her knees not to buckle. “And this must be Wes, huh?” he continued, crouching down to greet the Wooloo. “You look after my brother out there, all right? I’m trusting you!” Wes bounced on the spot, bleating fit to bust. “That’s the way! Alright, everybody,” he called, standing up and turning back to the crowd, “it’s been great to meet you all, but I’ve got to go! But don’t worry, I’ll always be here to make sure you have a champion time!” He struck a pose, then turned and ran off to the sound of the crowd’s cheers.

His Charizard, the famous Callum, tugged Hop’s arm, huffing. “Yeah, we’d better go catch up with him,” Hop said, taking a deep breath. “He hasn’t been here in five years, and he’s pants with directions. We’d better go show him the way before he wanders off into the Slumbering Weald or something. C’mon!”




{31st An Cèitean, 12:45}
{Baron’s Road, Invercoll}


Unsurprisingly, though it had been five years since his own Championship run, Leon was plenty fit enough to keep up with Hop and Mhairi all the way back to the beautiful old estate house where Hop’s family lived. He probably could have outstripped them easily, but he hung back to let them lead after he got lost and needed to be fetched out of a Wooloo field by Callum twice. “I’ll leave yous tae yer folks,” Mhairi said, stopping outside the gates to take a drink of water from the new water bottle clipped to her pack. “I’ll proab’ly be hearin’ it up the hill when yer ma spots the two ay yous togither!”

“You live up there, huh?” Leon said, tilting his cap and peering up to the hill where they could just make out the ancient but well-kept wee cottage where Mhairi lived with her mothers. Away from the cheering crowds at the station, his accent was slipping, sounding less like a Galarian TV presenter and more like his brother. “Beautiful part of the country, this. Shame I’ve always been too bloody busy to come visit!”

“Well, you made it now, didn’t you, Lee?” Hop said with a grin. “I’ll call you later to make a plan, right, Mhairi?”

“Get oan wi it,” Mhairi said, giving both brothers a friendly shove towards their house and waving goodbye to Wes and Callum. She took the half-mile on to her own house at a slower jog, enjoying the vista from Invercoll to Club Hill rolling out below her.

It was gorgeous. There were plenty of things Mhairi didn’t like about living in a tiny wee town where everybody was in everybody’s business, but when the sun was shining, all was lush and green and peaceful as far as the eye could see. Even the dense, misty bulk of the Slumbering Weald looked ethereally beautiful, though you couldn’t pay her to go inside.

“Wendy, you auld daftie, what are you uptae?” she said, pausing by the permanently locked gate up to the woods. The elderly flock leader was standing on the path, bleating up at the dark trees. Wendy looked around at Mhairi, bleated insistently at her, then started headbutting the gate.

“She says she’s got a bad feelin’,” Ricky said when she tapped at him in her pocket, indicating that she needed a translator. “She’s a big proponent ay that old Woo’s tale ‘bout a great hero daein’ the slumberin’ in the Slumbering Weald, awakenin’ in Alba’s time ay greatest need an’ suchlike. She wants tae wake ‘em up.”

“Oh aye? Big Rab an’ aw his men are havin’ themselves a wee nap in there, are they? The Queen ay Stanes, maybes? Gies a break, Wendy,” Mhairi sighed, shooing the old Wooloo away from the gate. “It’s no safe up there. Gaun, away wi you!”

Wendy gave a frustrated bleat and rolled away. “I’m no allowed tae translate that,” Ricky said. “Employee guidelines, ye ken.”

“Aye, I got the gist ay it,” Mhairi sighed, heading back up to her house. “Hop’ll probably want tae hang out wi his family the night, so let’s have a wee peek at the train times fae the morrow, aye?”

“MHAIRI!” she heard her mum yell, and looked up to see the woman leaning out of the living room window with a huge smile on her face. “AMANDA TELT ME! GET IN HERE SO I CAN HUG YE, MA WEE CHAMPION!”



{May 31st, 18:04}
{Coille Cottage, Invercoll}


“MHAIRI!”

“Aye, Mum?” Mhairi shouted, not moving or taking her eyes off of the very delicate bike chain she was halfway through re-threading. Mountain bikes were permitted in the League, since they were a trade-off of speed in the early stretches to being an extra item of equipment to have to hump around in the later ones, unless you were willing to sell your bike to a vendor. She was just hoping she wouldn’t have to ditch the bike in Midgow if the modifications she’d made didn’t turn out to be permitted.

“Nan Kensington called, she says it’s a lovely evening and to celebrate Leon visiting they’re going to have a barbecue, and would we like to join them?” her mum shouted back.

“Sounds crackin’, Mum!” Mhairi replied. “Just gies a minute!” She finally got the chain into place, replaced the protective covers, and spun the wheels a few times to make sure everything was working before going to wash up and get changed. She’d had a shower and gotten changed after getting back from her run to Club Hill and back, but she had a feeling that a grease-splattered t-shirt and joggers wouldn’t be appropriate attire for a barbecue with the Kensingtons, seeing as while they were her best friend’s family they were also her mum’s employers. She caught sight of her mum tying her dark blue hair up and pulling it down repeatedly while frowning at the mirror, trying to decide what was the right balance of formal and casual. Her ma was wearing earrings.

A warm afternoon was turning into a perfect summer evening, the sun slow to sink and still shining brightly. Mhairi and her mother chatted all the way down to the Kensington house, soaking in the beautiful day. “It’s no gaunnae be the same around here wi’out you, love,” her mum sighed, squeezing Mhairi’s shoulders and leaning her head on her daughter’s as they walked down the road. “Oh, we’re gaunnae miss you so much while you’re away!”

“It’ll gie yous some practice,” Mhairi said, patting her mum’s arm. “I’m gaunnae live in dorms my first year ay Uni, efter aw. Cannae jog tae Barburgh an back every day!”

“But you will be portin’ in oan the weekends,” her ma said, poking Mhairi’s cheek. “But this’ll be eight solid weeks oan the road afore you can come home! Well, ‘less you fail an drop out in the first week,” she teased.

“Oooh, there’s an idea!” her mum gasped. “’Mon then, love, dae yer auld mothers a favour an lose tae the first gym?”

“Mum! I’m no gaunnae shite it just tae hang out wi yous!” Mhairi laughed. “Howsabout the two ay yous take a wee holiday yersels?”

“Oh, I’m always up fae a wee holiday, but there’s no gettin’ Nicky away in the middle ay summer,” her ma said, throwing a fondly exasperated look at her wife.

“I cannae tell my clients I’m away an t-Ògmhios!” her mum exclaimed. “The gardens are in full bloom, an’ they’re gaunnae need extra love an’ attention!”

“Oh, aye, we see how it is, don’t we, Ma?” Mhairi said, exchanging a grin with her ma before putting on an expression of mock outrage. “The plants get aw the love an’ attention, but no yer wife. Is it any wonder I’m away out ay here at the first chance?”

“I cannae believe you’re leavin’ me alone wi this cold-hearted auld carlin!” her ma complained.

“Awright, that’s it, I’m leavin’ the both ay yous behind an’ eatin’ aw the sossie rolls afore you get there,” her mum complained, throwing up her hands and stalking off towards the Kensington estate.

Still known around Invercoll mostly as “the big hoose”, the Kensington estate was an ancient relic of the times when Alba was colonized by Galar to the south, with Galarian lords tearing down whole villages to make room for big estate homes for themselves, or fields to fill with profitable captive Wooloo. Parts of the house had been rebuilt over the last couple thousand years as the house fell in and out of use, but it was still quite grand. Though the old estate lands had been given to free Wooloo or returned to the people of Alba after independence, and the village of Invercoll had returned and rebuilt, it still had quite sizable gardens that Mhairi’s mum had been employed to keep nice long before the Kensington family moved in. The current front gate was maybe twenty feet from the house’s front door, with most of the lawn in between having been converted into a miniature pitch, which Mhairi and Hop mostly used for football.

Leon and Hop were standing on that pitch now with Wes and Callum, but instead of facing off against each other in a Pokemon battle, they were all crowded around something. Leon looked a sight smaller without his massive cape on and wearing a regular t-shirt and jeans instead of his strip. “OI! WANKER!” Mhairi shouted in her customary effort to get Hop’s attention.

“OI! WANKEEERRRRRRR!” Hop replied, waving her over. “C’mere, you’ve gotta see this!”

“The two ay yous are gaunnae have tae talk tae each other like adults while you’re oan camera, mind,” Mhairi’s ma sighed. “Oh, goodness, is that him? Hop’s brer? He’s just like Hop!”

“What’re the two ay yous up tae?” Mhairi asked as she jogged over to Hop and Leon, stopping short when they stepped aside and she caught sight of what it was they were looking at. “Oh, they’re fuckin’ PRECIOUS!” she shrieked, flinging herself to her knees in front of the three tiny Pokemon.

The round blue Sobble tumbled over backwards in fright, spitting out a startled spurt of water. That splashed into the bouncing white-and-orange Scorbunny, who panicked and ran off across the pitch, leaving a trail of fire behind them. Only the chubby green Grookey remained calm, tapping out a soothing rhythm against the ground with their stick until the Sobble’s tears settled. Callum stomped out the fires that the Scorbunny had started, picking up the much smaller fire-type impossibly gently in his huge claws and huffing what was probably some kind of chastisement for setting random fires. His own tail was held high, carefully away from the trees and flowerbeds that Mhairi’s mum tended so carefully.

“Aww, I’m sorry, wee yin,” Mhairi said apologetically, carefully softening her voice. “Didnae mean tae frit ye like that. You awright?” she asked the Scorbunny as Callum carefully set them down.

“Stomper’ll be fine,” Leon laughed. “Sean wanted to take the League challenge to get braver, didn’t ya?” He crouched down to pet the sniffling Sobble on the head, who nodded, wiping his eyes and trying to put on a brave face, which just made him even more impossibly adorable.

“Hi, Mrs Stuarts!” Hop called, waving to Mhairi’s mothers as they hovered a safe distance from the chaotic pitch. “Leon, that’s Mhairi’s mum, Nichola, with the blue hair? She’s the one who’s keeping the gardens here lookin’ fab! And that’s her ma Amanda, the writer! Oi, you brought Marv! Are you trying to eat us out of house and home?” The Munchlax waved, grinning as he sniffed the air and caught the smell of barbecue. “Marv, Mrs Nicky, Mrs Amanda, this is my brother, Alba’s undefeated champion Leon Kensington!”

“Lovely tae finally meet you, Leon! Your mum can boast fae Alba about you,” Mhairi’s mum said, shaking his hand. “You ready tae face these two this year?”

“Well, as the Champion, I’ll only be facing whoever wins the Champion Cup,” Leon said, his TV accent sliding back into place as he put his hands on his hips and grinned proudly. “As his brother, I guess I gotta bet on that being Hop!”

“You guess?” Hop said, kicking at his brother’s ankle in mock-outrage.

“Not that I encourage gamblin’, mind you, but as her mum… a fiver on Mhairi?” her mum said, winking at Mhairi.

“Only a fiver?” Mhairi complained.

“She’s right, love… she’s worth a tenner at least,” her ma said. “’Mon, Amy, let’s pop in tae say hi tae Gloria, Victor and Nan. You kids have fun!”

“We’re League Challengers, Mum! Professional athletes! No kids wi new toys!” Mhairi called as her mothers headed into the house. “Honestly…”

“Is Marv coming with you to the League?” Leon asked, smiling at the Munchlax that toddled after the women, drawn by the smell of food.

“Naw, he’s the baby ay the family, and Mum’ll claim she needs him fae the garden,” Mhairi said, shaking her head. “I keep tellin’ ‘em, he’s gaunnae evolve any day now, the way they spoil ‘im, and where in that tiny wee house are they gaunnae put a Snorlax?”

“Told you she didn’t have her first Pokemon yet!” Hop said, nudging his brother with a huge grin on his face. “So c’mon, tell her!”

“Tell me whit?” Mhairi asked, looking from one brother to the other. “Is this about…?” She lowered her voice, nodding at Leon.

“What? Oh, nonononono,” Hop said quickly, waving his hands and making a shushing motion while glancing at his confused-looking brother. “It’s about Sean, Stomper and Gavin here. They’re all hoping to hit the League this year themselves!”

“And when Hop told me that he and his best friend were gonna take the Challenge, I offered to introduce ‘em to a couple of real contenders!” Leon declared. “One of my team recently retired, so I’ve got a spot open for this year’s Cup. So, here’s the plan: each of you pick one of these little guys to help start out your teams, and I’ll make the third into a Champion!” All three of the wee Pokemon cheered excitedly.

“I’ve already got Wes, so I nominate you for first pick, mate!” Hop said, nudging Mhairi. “Go on, take your pick of the little buggers!”

Mhairi pressed her hands to her cheeks to squish down an urge to scream in excitement, wary of startling Sean again. A Pokemon as a gift from Leon Kensington? That’s got tae be good luck! Or nice dramatic irony when I kick his arse back tae Galar wi’ it, anyways. “Honestly? I like you, wee man,” she said, holding out a gentle hand to Sean until the little Sobble let her run her hand carefully over his big head and down his back. “I’ll help you toughen up, nae bother! Howzabout it?” She looked from the Sobble to Leon.

“What’re you looking at me for?” Leon asked, raising an eyebrow.

“’Cause you can talk tae ‘em, aye?” Mhairi asked. Hop tried to make a shushing motion. “Aw, gies a break, Hop. I ken fine whit he is an’ I’m no feart tae say it. ‘Cause I want him tae ken that I know exactly who I’m takin’ oan!”

“And who am I, then?” Leon said, folding his arms and cocking his head with a little smile.

“Zacian, the Sword ay Galar,” Mhairi said, miming drawing a sword. “Is that no right?”

Team Mhairi:
c61c75975095_Mhairi%20Stuart.jpg
--Mhairi Stuart


Team Hop:
QLK2CqZ.png
--Hop Kensington
lzRLzGM.png
--Wes Invercoll
 
Last edited:

Tookie

The Immoral Bard
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This user does not exist. All impressions to the contrary are propaganda pieces and not to be trusted.
oh boy i am definitely here for justice for Scotland <3

there's just something incredibly comforting about Scots to my mind as I'm reading along, really excited for more of this :D
 

Uberle

Legends done, back to writing
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Stays in the distortion dimension where no one bothers him
Reading in Scots is fun
Thought I was gonna have a bit of trouble with it, as I sometimes have trouble reading in English, but no it's about the same

I like the little headings that state location and time
Just a neat way to give context to the setting

Loving all these characters so far
Hop and Leon's interactions are fun
So are Mhairi and her parents'
This bit being a favorite
“Only a fiver?” Mhairi complained.
“She’s right, love… she’s worth a tenner at least,”

Looking strong so far
Can't wait for more
 

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
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It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
I loved every second of this first chapter! I am in love with every character! THE MOMS!! And all the little details from the game were so nice. The tam! The wellies! The giant pack! You're sense of humor is spot on and had me chuckling (and upsetting my cat) multiple times. I am a huge slut for worldbuilding, so this was a huge treat. As always, we are t w i n s and the overlap is uncanny. Though this time you have a bounty of firsthand knowledge to ground everything in, while I have naught but too many Jane Austen adaptations and that time I spent eight days in London 🤣 So this feels very fond and authentic and richly detailed, which makes for a comfy and delightful read.

As for the Scots, I won't lie and say it wasn't a tad challenging for my small, American brain, but it was overwhelmingly enjoyable and I'm very jazzed about it. I actually educated myself on the language in the last week or so after the whole Scots Wikipedia debacle caused me to lose my entire mind. What a perfect storm of fuckery. It haunts me. But it did leave me primed and extremely excited for this story in particular. I can't wait for more!

P.S. Praise be that Ricky speaks Scots unlike Alexa
 

Time Master Eon

Conqueror of the Blackthorn Gym
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A place beyond space and time
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  2. Fighting
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This Pokemon switches rapidly between passion and apathy
Cool, I think I'm going to read this, I mean Scots isn't that hard for me to read so that's not a problem. And it's one way to help me learn more about other cultures, which is something I'm always down for.
 

Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
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he's ok i guess
Super glad to see some Scot representation and putting that into your take on the region! You're already hella experienced with worldbuilding and the like from what I've seen here and there, so this seems like a hella snug fit for you. Even just stuff like the description of the Kensington estate is A+ stuff, so I can't imagine what it'll be like down the road once you really get to dig in. God, imagining the Wild Area based off, like, the Highlands or something (and the trek is working down to a Glasgow-equivalent or smth) is just too awesome. Brings back memories of my trip over there yeeeears ago. It all def feels authentic as hell just from this opening, and I feel like it really just fills a damn nice lil niche that hasn't been hit yet in Galarfics. Err, Albafics.

Also, Ricky is the MVP of this run. I love him to death. I will not hear any debate on this.
Wendy gave a frustrated bleat and rolled away. “I’m no allowed tae translate that,” Ricky said. “Employee guidelines, ye ken.”
LET 👏 RICKY 👏 SAY 👏 FUCK 👏
 

cross_off

just a gangster, I suppose...
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it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
so this is interesting,

the scots feel to this story is not only unique but saturated through the prose in a way that makes it feel authentic and lived, which connects even despite the (admittedly slight, both english and scots have a common root and context is practically a rosetta stone in and of itself) language barrier. that plus your handle on setting and worldbuilding paint a really vivid picture from the getgo and its neat to see how social class and ancestry shape the dynamics between the core characters. on that note, mhairi is also an engaging protagonist from the get-go; she has that whip-smart nature and a clear drive (its cool to see how clearly she's thought about the requirements of the journey) and yet is a bundle of joyous energy that it's impossible to not root for. it's clear that if nothing else she wants this opportunity and she's willing to go all-out for it

honestly the thing I'm consistently amazed at is how a lot of your work can just lean on the dialogue to carry it, which is something I've always struggled to do so. it's that multidimensional and your handle on it is really good, especially towards the end where it wraps into the reveal (which is honestly not that surprising all things considered). this should be fun to read though, good luck threading the needle of 'work tangentially related to main universe but not "connected" connected to it' xd
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
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Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
Happy 1st of Hallowe'en! Thank you so much to everybody who's read and is into this so far, it makes me so happy that people are loving this story as much as I'm loving writing it <3 On that note...

@Tookie I think I remember a study saying that people who were stressed out or frightened, when exposed to different voice clips telling them it was going to be okay, found the little old Scottish lady the most comforting, which tracks :P Hope you enjoy it!

@Uberle Thanks! I started doing headers when I was doing some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shit in my Sinnoh fic and they’ve stuck around because they’re so useful :D I like writing the pure uncut banter between Mhairi and her loved ones, glad you enjoy reading it!

@Zephyr_Iphis I love writing Mhairi and her loved ones and I’m glad you love em too :D There’s a LOT of worldbuilding to come, so strap in! If you’re unfamiliar with Scots, I recommend trying to read it aloud—unlike English, Scots is usually spelled phonetically. And yes, the Scots wiki nonsense was part of what fuelled the fury that drove me to start posting this :x PS you have EXCELLENT taste in Scottish memes, here’s one of my favourite skits on the subject:


@Time Master Eon Welcome aboard, hope you enjoy it!

@Garish Garchomp There’s plenty of Galar fic about, here’s my niche and it’s my country now :P If you’re here for worldbuilding, you’re in the right place, I love that shit! Ricky is not allowed to swear on duty, but maybe he’ll show up off-duty one day :P Hope you get a chance to come back to Scotland one day too, when travel’s a good idea again!

@delete_the_clippers Hi! You’re right—Scots and English are both descended from Middle English, so they are mutually intelligible, they were just influenced by very different language families during their development into modern Scots and English! Mhairi’s a much more straightforwardly happy protagonist than most of the ones I write, and it’s a lot of fun writing her and her loved ones bouncing off each other. I trained in drama and scriptwriting at uni, so a lot of my writing is dialogue-heavy, but I’m hoping to work more on my descriptions in this fic because I want to bring Scotland alive for the readers. Glad you’re enjoying it, thank you!

This chapter is also available on AO3!

{31st An Cèitean, 18:35}
{Baron’s House, Invercoll}

“Mhairiiiiiiiiii,” Hop groaned, rubbing his head. “She’s wild for conspiracy theories,” he explained when Leon gave him a curious look.

“I might be a legend, but a legendary god?” Leon laughed. “That’s a new one on me! Wait, you ain’t the one who sent them weird fan letters, are ya?”

“Naw, but dinane play us aff like that,” Mhairi argued. “There’s video evidence ay humans daein’ stuff that isnae possible fae regular humans, no even psychics—”

“New psychic abilities are developin’ all the time,” Leon said, raising a hand. “Anyways, how could I be a Pokémon? You’ve met my mum, yeah? You think she’s lyin’ about havin’ me?” He slung an arm around Hop’s shoulders. “You think we ain’t related?” Sean gave a bubbly giggle.

“’Course yer a human,” Mhairi said, rolling her eyes. “But anyin payin’ attention in S1 biology kens Pokémon arenae fully physical bein’s the way humans are. They’re mostly composed ay whit some creative genius decided tae call poke-energy, an’ that energy’s how some’re able tae change sae much when evolvin’. Convertin’ poke-energy tae matter’s how they can be flinging fire an’ leaves an’ water an’ suchlike outae nowheres, an’ its how Pokémon can survive an’ retain jus’ fine when converted tae energy fae digital storage fae long periods. Convert a human tae energy fae more’n a minute tops an’ we fall apart!”

“Which is one’ve the reasons we’re gettin’ the train to Midgow instead of portin’,” Hop stage-whispered to his brother. “She’s terrified of teleporters.”

“The thing goes aff mid-port an’ that’s it, yer atoms poofin’ awa’ intae the air!” Mhairi yelled. “Gies a good solid train any day!”

“Odds of a port malfunction are lower than odds of a train crash,” Leon pointed out.

“A train crash can be survived,” Mhairi shot back. “Porter malfunction cannae, an’ we’re gettin’ away fae the point. Pokémon takin’ oan energy forms allows ‘em tae merge wi each other—we sees it wi the likes ay Slowbro, nae bother! Why no a human, if they kent whit they wis daein’? Now, loads ay folk think if Zacian’s wi’ any human, it’d be some descendant ay the Galarian royalty, like whatsisnuts, they utter helmets wi the bad haircuts who’re always oan them reality shows doon sooth, but I’m wi the notion that it’s yer man Mustard, wi the dojo on Armour that’s famous fae Pokémon gettin’ unusually strong while they’re there—”

“I was lucky enough to get a chance to train on the Isle of Armour, with Master Mustard, yeah,” Leon interjected. “Master Mustard’s been trainin’ Pokémon for over fifty years, though. He’s won both the Galar League and the Alban League. He’s an expert. That’s why Pokémon who train at his dojo get so tough.” He folded his arms, quirking an eyebrow. “Sounds like you’re spinnin’ me havin’ the Gab into an accusation of cheatin’,” he teased.

“I wouldnae say that,” Mhairi said with a smirk. “A wee advantage, maybes. But I’m just lettin’ ye know, I ken fine whit ye are, an’ I’m no feart ay yous, got it? I’m gaunnae be the Champion, gods or nae gods.”

“Whoa! That’s the famous Highland courage, is it?” Leon laughed. “Hop, you told me loads about Mhairi, but you never told me she’s a conspiracy theorist! Still ain’t sold on this god stuff, but she’s fun!”

“Leon, no,” Hop said as a grin split across Mhairi’s face. “Leon, she’s got slideshows. With sources. She spends ages online swappin’ theories on subforums and—”

“Acht, I’ll spare yous, this time,” Mhairi said, picking Sean up and cuddling him. As soon as the Sobble was in her arms, all of the anxiety melted away and he snuggled happily against her shoulder. It took real effort not to melt into a squealing puddle herself. “Tell ye whit. When I beat yous in the Champion’s Cup, you own up tae bein’ Zacian, deals?”

When? Well, ain’t we confident!” Leon said with a wink. “I’d say it’s a strong if…”

“Funny way yous pronounce ‘when’ doon in Wyndon.”

“You gonna let her talk to you like that, Lee?” Hop asked, quickly recovering from his intense mortification. “Besides, she’s not gonna be the one to take you down—I am!” He walked over to the Scorbunny, who was sitting on one of Callum’s knees. “Whatcha think, mate? You with me on that?”

“Well, Stomper there’s sure quick enough to keep up with you!” Leon laughed, ruffling his brother’s hair. “Goin’ for the fire starter, just like your big bruv, huh?”

“Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Hop said, grinning and holding up a hand. The Scorbunny grinned back, hopping up to give him a high-five.

“Oh, aye, the two ay yous are perfect for each other,” Mhairi giggled. “Oooh, we’ve got tae have us a wee practice battle!”

“Not right now, you don’t!” Gloria Kensington called, striding up to the pitch. It was kind of funny, the way Great Champion Leon and his teenage brother both straightened up and adopted identical expressions of perfect innocence at their mother’s approach. “Hello, Mhairi, luv. Come get your food, you lot!”

“Dinner’s up, lads!” Leon said jubilantly. Callum roared happily, spreading his wings and shooting into the air to fly over the house instead of walking around like the rest of them. “Alright, mate, you’re comin’ with me,” Leon added, scooping up the Grookey. “I’m gonna make you a Champion!” The Grookey grinned, tapping out a happy drum solo in midair with his sticks and chittering. “Alright, Mhairi, Hop, time for you to get some practice in an essential skill for the League challenge: feedin’ your Pokémon!”

“’Mon, then, wee man,” Mhairi said, tapping her Rotom phone. Ricky’s shift had ended, and for the evening there was a Rotom called Raquelle, who hummed melodically as they translated Mhairi’s words to Sean. The way Pokémon communicated and understood meaning wasn’t really linguistic, so the humming wasn’t really necessary, but it was a sign to Mhairi that her words were being communicated. “Whit kindae munch are you up fae?”

Sean squeaked, flickering his tongue, and the translation program rolled across Mhairi’s phone screen. “Sour food is the best!”

“Awright, let’s see whit we’ve got,” Mhairi laughed, rounding the house to the patio bit, where Nan Kensington was already dishing up.

“Kebabs! Aw, Nan, that’s top notch!” Hop said excitedly, carefully picking out the choicest skewers before handing one to Mhairi. “How about it, Stomper?” The Scorbunny bounced in place, squeaking excitedly.

“He likes it spicy, just like you,” Leon said with a wink. “You two headin’ out to Midgow in the mornin’ to register?”

“We’ve gotta book tickets on the first train out!” Hop said excitedly.

“Aye, I’ve been havin’ a week peek,” Mhairi said, tapping her phone screen to bring up the schedule she’d saved, “an’ the first train is—”

“Hold the phone! You’re no gaun’ anywheres ‘til ye’ve telt yer Gran where yer gaun,” her mum interrupted. “In person, young lady, this isnae the kindae thing you just call up aboot when she only lives the other side ay Clubbie fae here!”

Mum! We’ve got tae be there afore nine pm oan the second!” Mhairi complained. “I wis gaunnae call her fae the train—”

“You can port in at ten tae nine an’ make it in time, mind,” her ma pointed out.

“I like my atoms where they are, ta.”

“Well, we can still make it if we get the train tomorrow afternoon, yeah?” Hop pointed out. “Three hours to Inverbodan, then another four hours to Midgow, we’ll get there late in the evenin’ on the first. Hey, we could even get the overnight train, stop over in Inverbodan a couple hours, get there middle of the day, sorted!”

“Travelin’s more fun than portin’, anyway,” Leon laughed. “You should go tell your nan in person, Mhairi! Grandparents are important!”

“You’re too right, there,” Nan Kensington said, patting his cheek proudly and heaping more curry into his bowl.

“Aye, fine, I’ll go see Granny Mags the morra,” Mhairi sighed. “Yer no gaun anywheres wi’oot me, aye, Hop?”

“Course not, mate,” Hop assured. “I bet Wes and Stomper’ll make great company, but I ain’t spendin’ seven hours on trains without my best friend!”

“Hey, speakin’ of—are ye gaunnae go say hi tae Sonia while yer here?” Mhairi asked, pointing her half-empty kebab skewer at Leon. “Yous ran yer League challenge thegither, you ought tae at least visit the first time you’ve hauled yer arse out here!”

“I’m goin’ visitin’ tomorrow myself, don’t worry,” Leon chuckled, raising his hands in surrender. “Not gonna let her think I’m avoidin’ her! But, well… you saw the train station this mornin’, yeah?” He sighed, loading himself up a bowl of curry. “Maybe I’ll just fly over on Callum and land on ‘er roof.”

“No ye dinnae, some ay the roofs aroun here are centuries auld!” Mhairi’s ma chastised him.

“Just dress like a normal human, Leon, and you’ll get about fine,” his grandfather chuckled. “Why not walk out with Mhairi tomorrow so you don’t get lost?”

“Aye, there’s a wee plan! Hop, I’ll come over in the mornin’ fae our match,” Mhairi suggested, “then after Sean and I kick yer arse, we’ll be away tae see Sonia an’ Granny Mags afore comin’ back tae meet ye at the station. Howzabout it?”

“After you beat me? It’s gonna be two on one, mate,” Hop snorted. “You’re on!”

“Quality over quantity, mate,” Mhairi said, refilling Sean’s bowl. “Eat up, wee man. This is gaunnae be the most important fight ay our lives.”

Sean and Stomper exchanged looks, grinned, and dove into their bowls of food.



{1st An t-Ògmhios, 06:15}
{Baron’s House, Invercoll}

“I thought you was kiddin’ about bein’ over this early,” Hop groaned, stifling a yawn in his hand.

“You wished I wis jokin’,” Mhairi corrected him, stretching. Sean watched her, then tried imitating her stretching, even though his tiny arms were in no way long enough to reach over his big, round head. It was still so cute. “I’m away tae Gran’s an back, mind!”

“We’re gettin’ the one o’clock train, mate,” Hop reminded her, yawning again, this time larger. “It’s not gonna take you that long to get there an’ back!”

“Aye it will, Gran’ll talk my ear aff,” Mhairi insisted, striding over to the pitch. “’Mon, Hop, square go, you an’ me, an’ then after I kick yer arse ye can have a wee nap while I’m away.”

“This time of mornin’ is cheatin’,” Hop sighed, rubbing his whole face before shambling over to his side of the pitch. “It’s cheatin’, right, Lee?” he called to his brother, who was sitting on the front step with the most terrifying bedhead Mhairi had ever seen in her life, nursing a cup of coffee. At least he’d gotten dressed in jeans and a jacket before coming out, unlike Hop, who had just thrown a hoodie on over his jammies, hood drawn up to hide what was probably a smaller but no less wild mane. The whole effect was still wild—she could believe that that was Hop’s brother sitting on the step, but Champion Leon Kensington? It nearly knocked her flat on her arse every time she reminded herself.

“Handicap balance,” Leon said, sipping at his coffee. “You’re half asleep, she’s got half the team you do. Seems fair to me.”

Hop groaned, pulled a face at his brother, and turned back to Mhairi. “Alright, mate, let’s do this! League standard rules, yeah?”

“Let’s get us some practice in,” Mhairi agreed. “Gaun then, Sean!” She pointed at the field, and Sean bounced forwards, chirruping loudly. He was trembling a little, but he puffed himself up, trying to look brave, and Mhairi was dead certain she’d never loved anything so much in her life.

“Awright, Wes!” Hop called, releasing the Wooloo. “Tackle ‘im!”

“Pound ‘im!” Mhairi yelled in response. She’d spent the evening practicing moves with Sean. He was close to getting the hang of Water Gun, he just didn’t quite have strong enough abdominal muscles to pull it off. He could cling really well with his sticky little paws, though, so when Wes charged him, he grabbed at the Wooloo’s dense wool and started whacking Wes hard in the face with his tail, wailing loudly the whole while.

“Oi!” Hop yelped. “How’s Wes s’posed to attack an enemy stickin’ to ‘is face?!”

“Not oor problem!” Mhairi called, jumping up and down. “Gaun yersel, Sean! Keep at ‘im, wee man!”

Wes tumbled sideways, kicking his hooves and bleating unhappily. “Wes is tapping out,” Leon called. He’d brought out a hairbrush, apparently, and was trying to tame his hair. “He’s round, Hop, teach ‘im Rollout!”

“Noted,” Hop replied, returning Wes with a disgruntled expression. “Alright, mate, but Sean don’t know typed moves yet, right? So Stomper’s in with a fightin’ chance!”

“Gies a mo!” Mhairi called, running onto the field to where Sean was sitting, sniffling and hiccuping after being dumped on the ground by his opponent’s dematerialization. “Awright, wee man?” Mhairi said gently, crouching next to him and patting his head. “You won! Well done, Sean! Yer first battle an’ ye won! Be proud ay that!”

“She’s right, Sean, you should be well proud,” Leon called, wincing as he tugged at a stubborn knot in his hair. “You alright to go again?” Sean sniffled, then nodded, a determined expression on his face. He spat a little gout of water at Mhairi, splashing off of her knee. “With good trainin’, you won’t always be that much smaller than your opponent, promise!”

“Ta, Hop,” Mhairi said, giving him a thumbs-up and running back to her side of the pitch. “Awright, gies it, then!”

“Alright, alright, wasn’t gonna attack a little guy who was cryin’, was I?” Hop called, releasing Stomper. “Fair game now, though! Tackle!”

“Gie that Water Gun another go, Sean!” Mhairi yelled. Sean was bowled over by Stomper’s tackle, the Scorbunny zipping across the field faster than the Sobble could respond to, but when he hit the ground he fiercely spat a burst of water at Stomper. It wasn’t big, and it wasn’t a lot, but it was definitely more range than he’d managed the night before. Mhairi grinned.

“Aw, mate,” Hop groaned as his Scorbunny staggered back, whimpering nervously. “C’mon, Stomper, Tackle ‘im, you’re faster!”

“Target practice, Sean!” Mhairi yelled. “Water Gun!”

It was, in the end, really just a war of attrition, Stomper hitting Sean more often but Sean doing more damage with every hit he did land, his Water Gun getting more range and force the more he did it. In the end, Stomper was the one to keel over first, crying, in response to which Sean also burst into tears.

“Very narrow, but I’m callin’ it for Sean!” Leon called, clapping and whistling. He’d gotten most of his hair into a long braid, which he’d tucked over one shoulder. “Good start, though, both of you! You were too right to use Stomper’s speed, Hop, it’s one of his top assets! Good eye on spottin’ that Sean was gettin’ there with his Water Gun, Mhairi!”

“Good match, mate,” Mhairi said, scooping up Sean and holding out a hand to Hop. “…Sorry I showed you up in front ay yer brer, though.”

Hop crouched down to scoop up Stomper, shook his head, then stood up with his usual bright grin. “Oi, don’t you dare go throwin’ me a pity fight, mate!” he said, shaking Mhairi’s hand. “It was a good fight. That’s on me for not thinkin’ bout my type matchups more, huh?”

“Good job, wee man,” Mhairi said, giving Sean a cuddle and letting him wipe his tears on her t-shirt before returning him. “Awright, Hop, you an’ yer ‘mons, away fae a nap. You ready tae head intae Clubbie, Leon?”

“Callum can fly us in,” Leon offered, pulling the old pokéball out of his pocket as he stood up, but Mhairi shook her head.

“I havenae missed my daily jog fae two years an’ I’m no startin’ the day,” she said, putting Sean’s pokéball in her backpack and swinging it into her bag. She was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of finally starting her League challenge, and she was ready to get on with it. “’Mon, it’s no that far tae the lab!”

When she got to the gate, however, she was startled to see what looked like every Wooloo in the area running past. “Whit in the name ay the wee man?” Mhairi said, watching them go by.

“Excuse me,” Leon called, waving to the herd as they ran by. One or two stopped, bleating something urgently at him, then ran off again. “…Hmmm.”

“What’s goin’ on, Lee?” Hop asked, still rubbing his eyes but alert enough to frown in concern at the sea of white wool passing by.

“They said Wendy’s missing,” Leon said. “They think she went up to the Slumbering Weald…?”

“That daft auld besom! That’s no her territory!” Mhairi yelped. “Gettin’ poisoned at her age is no gaunnae dae her any favours, I’ll tell ye that!”

“I bet I can fetch ‘er out without rufflin’ too many feathers,” Leon offered, jogging off after the Wooloo. “You guys wait here!”

“LEE!” Hop yelled. “Bugger. Didn’t Sonia go in there once?”

“Aye, an’ she got well addled oan the poison gas,” Mhairi said with a wince. “Nothin’ oan the earful Granny Mags gave her efter, though…”

“I’m gonna go heal my Pokémon,” Hop said, running back towards the house. “We gotta go after Lee or he’s gonna get lost!”

“Wait! Sean’s all wore oot!” Mhairi called, running after him. “Heal him too! And put oan somethin’ other than yer jammies!”



{1st An t-Ògmhios, 06:45}
{The Slumbering Weald, Invercoll}

The thing about the Slumbering Weald was that it wasn’t cursed, obviously. Nobody actually believed that.

Mhairi was a modern Alban. Her friends might tease her for being a conspiracy theorist, but it wasn’t like she was nabbing wild theories without evidence and then defending them to the death. She knew that vaccines worked, and that Pokémon were intelligent, and that fairies didn’t actually steal children and musicians (though they might steal your flowers if they were pretty), and if you overslept too long you wouldn’t turn into an Abra, and that you weren’t supposed to go into the Slumbering Weald was because it was wild territory and if you trespassed you’d just be mildly poisoned and kicked out, not stolen away to another world for a century and a day. Obviously.

…But that didn’t mean that Mhairi had ever tried to prove it by going inside. She’d never wanted to, not after seeing the state Sonia was in after her own teenage brush with the Weald. Mhairi had only been five at the time, but finding your teenage cousin convulsing and foaming at the mouth in your garden was not the kind of thing you forgot. So she’d never, ever been inside.

She had to fight the urge to clutch Hop’s arm like some daft wee lassie right now as they crept closer to the dense, misty trees. The flock was waiting outside of the gate, bleating nervously, and there was no sign of Leon.

“Bugger, he’s already gone in,” Hop muttered. “Gotta admit, I was kinda hopin’ to go in with him… ‘cause he’s got the Gab,” he added quickly. “Pokémon’ll like ‘im more, y’know?”

“Sure,” Mhairi said, nudging him in the ribs. “Nae fear, Hop, I’ll protect ye!”

“Not if I protect you first!” Hop declared, puffing up his skinnymalink chest and striding towards the trees, leaving Mhairi no choice but to square her shoulders and power-walk past him. It was silly, but telling herself she had to be braver than Hop made it easier for her to overcome how much the Weald unsettled her, and Hop was probably doing the same thing, racing to get ahead of her.

The fog engulfed them before the trees did. All the morning noises of twittering Butterfree and Rookidee, the rustling of grass and flowers in the wind, the bleating of the Wooloo, all sound vanished completely, smothered under a heavy silence. The two of them crept forwards slowly, only able to see about a foot around themselves, the tall dark figures of trees looming abruptly out of the fog.

“Awright, I’m gaunnae say it, and I’m gaunnae say it’s sae we dinnae lose each other in the fog an’ nothin’ else,” Mhairi said, fighting to keep her voice level and calm. “Hop, haud ma haun.”

“You know what? That’s a great idea, let’s not lose each other in here, yeah?” Hop said, grabbing her hand immediately. There was an awkward, fumbling moment where they couldn’t decide whether to interlock fingers before going for clasping each others’ hands instead. Hand in hand, they crept forwards into the fog.

They had to move carefully, unable to see the ground ahead well, watchful for roots and stones. Whenever they got close enough to a tree to get a good look at it, the trunks were gnarled and so thick with moss that they were green all the way down to their roots. Thick ferns feathered the ground all around them, but there was a worn brown footpath between all the green, which after some time led them to an elderly stone bridge. It was covered in creeping trails of ivy that dangled into the burn running below.

“I’m tryin no’ tae think ay auld stories ‘bout crossin’ bridges intae other worlds,” Mhairi said conversationally as they stepped onto the bridge.

“Aw, mate, I was doin’ such a good job of not thinkin’ of that until you said it,” Hop groaned. “Think we should call out for Lee? See if he hears us?”

“Fog’ll mess up the sound,” Mhairi said, stepping carefully on the stones of the bridge. A childish superstition about not stepping on the cracks was ringing in her head, and so was a nervous apprehension about stepping on any ivy stems and breaking them. She did not, at this moment, particularly want to harm anything that belonged to the forest. For reasons. Perfectly rational ones. This was somebody’s home, after all, nobody wanted somebody coming into their home and breaking their stuff, right? Right. “An’ we’ll probably be heard by the likes ay them we dinnae want tae meet,” she continued in a whisper. She’d considered releasing Sean, but she knew he wasn’t really strong enough to fight most Pokémon that lived in the forest, and if he got scared and started crying, that’d draw them all the attention they didn’t want. “‘Mon, Wendy cannae ay gone far, they’ll be no far aheid…”

“Don’t underestimate how lost Lee can get,” Hop chuckled. His hands were getting sweaty, despite his light tone.

Mhairi tried focusing less on the creepy forest and more on kicking herself internally, because nearly interlocking fingers had sent some back part of her brain off in weird directions. You were bloody thirteen when you had a crush oan Hop, she reminded herself. You got over it. He’s yer mate now. Gaunnae no, awright? We’re about tae be travellin’ thegither fae the League, there’s nae call tae be daein’ nonsense like dredgin’ up an auld crush like that. Forest’s messin’ wi yer head, ye daftie.

A warbling cry floating through the mist did not help.

“You think that was Wendy?” Hop said. “What if Leon ain’t found ‘er yet? She might be in trouble!”

“Wendy?” Mhairi hissed as they crept forwards, as much faster as they dared. “Where are ye, ye auld daftie?” The trees were rising up around them on steepening bankings, and Mhairi tried not to think about how very much it felt like first they’d crossed the bridge, and now they were descending into the Other World…

The fog just seemed to get thicker the deeper they went, and Mhairi could hear nothing now but her pulse pounding in her ears, couldn’t see her hand in front of her face, but there was another shuddery cry of distress and Hop jerked forwards, tugging her forwards, and then they were running, whether they were running to or from she wasn’t sure but they couldn’t stop running, she didn’t want to know what would happen if they stopped, they were just running in the endless white and she didn’t even know which way they were going, she wished she remembered where the bridge was because that was how you escaped, wasn’t it, you had to cross running water before—

There was another wail, and it wasn’t a Wooloo, and it was right in front of them. Mhairi couldn’t make out more than two golden eyes piercing her and a huge dark form looming out of the fog, which was just getting thicker and thicker, so thick she couldn’t even see Hop no matter how tightly she clung to his hand, she could see nothing in the world but that huge dark shape and those bright, bright eyes—



{3rd An t-Sultain, 11:11}
{Club Hill Academy, Club Hill}

“Where’s the new guy got tae?”

In primary school, they’d all stayed in their classrooms during wet breaks, but at the Academy there was a big study hall where all of the students were free to mingle. There were only eighteen of them across the six years, so it wasn’t like it was hard to get them all in one room with space to read, or do late homework, or chat with their mates. Seventeen of them had grown up together, gone to primary together, lived their whole lives together.

And then there was the new guy.

“He wis away tae the loo the minute the bell went,” Fraser said, picking a card off of Iona, who split into a wicked grin when he turned it around to see the queen of leaves. “Aw, ya shitebag!”

“Scabby maid!” the five of them playing chorused as Fraser put the card back in his hand and shuffled it. “He’s been away a lang time, has he no?” Heather said, looking to the door with a frown. Miss Cook was sitting by the door, reading a novel and eating her sandwich, the on-duty monitor to make sure they didn’t get bored and burn the school down while the rest of the teachers went home for their lunches.

“First wan tae empty their hauns goes fae a wee look?” Mhairi suggested.

“Ay, sound plan,” Meghan agreed, picking a card out of Fraser’s hand and making an exaggerated sigh of relief when she got the five of rain.

After a couple of rounds, the new guy still wasn’t back and Miss Cook was giving the door a concerned look. “Pair ay sevens! Ya dancer!” Mhairi hooted, putting down the sevens of flames and lightning together and jazzing her empty hands at her friends, to some good-natured razzing. “Miss Cook! Awright if I go have a wee hunt fae the new guy?”

“Oh, that’s guid ay ye, Mhairi,” Miss Cook said, sinking back in her seat and picking up her book. “If he’s no oan school property, dinnae go aff lookin’ for him, gie us a shout, aye? If he’s had an attack ay the nerves and gone away aff hame, we’ll have tae gie his folks a bell.”

“The bus picked him up at the big hoose, sae here’s hopin’ he hasnae,” Mhairi said with a wince. “That’s an awfy lang way tae go in the rain…”

Thankfully, the new guy hadn’t bailed off home. He was standing in the front entryway, reading the plaques under the old handstone set into the wall, one hand hovering over the handprints set in it.

“Oooh, careful daein’ that,” Mhairi joked. “Queen ay Stanes might grab ye!”

“Wha—!” the guy yelped, just about jumping out of his skin. He was short and skinny, all elbows, with a head he hadn’t quite grown into yet. “Where’d you come from?”

“Came tae see if ye wis still alive,” Mhairi said, fidgeting with her skirt. Despite being such a skinnymalink, the guy was pretty cute. Not all the staring that had been going on in class was down to him just being a new face. “You awright?”

“I, uh… yeah?” The guy tugged at his curly purple hair nervously. “I think? Uh… okay, sorry, I didn’t catch a word you just said, can I get the question again?”

“You sound like the folk aff the telly,” Mhairi blurted out. He stared at him blankly, and she slowed down a bit. “You sound like the folk out ay them Sarf Wyndahn dramas,” she said, putting on the accent for a moment. “Didnae ken folk talked like that in real life.”

“Well, South Wyndon’s where we’re from,” the guy said, smiling and relaxing a touch. “Sorry, everybody here talks super fast…”

“Is that why ye’ve been sae quiet in class? No catchin’ a word?” Mhairi giggled. “Sorry, I dinnae mean tae laugh. Though ye were nervous ‘cause folk were starin’.”

“Do I gotta pick one?” the guy said, shoving his hands in his pants pockets and shrugging. “Just… lots of new changes, like. And you lot all know each other so well already…”

“Folk want tae meet ye, though, that’s why I came lookin’,” Mhairi said, jerking a thumb back at the study hall. “’Mon back an’ join the card game? Folk’ll slow down if ye ask nice.”

“Thanks,” the guy said, giving her a bright grin. Dammit, it wasn’t just novelty, he was cute! “What were you sayin’ before about the stone?”

Mhairi looked up at the biggest of the stones that made up the back wall. It was perfectly rectangular, having been cut out of a stone up the hills a long time ago as a novelty, and two large handprints were worn into it. “Oh, that’s fae the Queen ay Stanes,” she said, pointing at the handprints. “Awfy big hauns she had, eh?”

“Who’s the Queen of… oh, stones, right,” the new guy said, slapping his forehead with the heel of his hands. “The Queen of Stones… Stanes. Who’s she?”

Mhairi shrugged. “Auld story, I guess? If ye got a stone circle or wee tower or haunprints in the stanes or what have ye an’ nae clue where they came fae, folk’ll say it’s the Queen ay Stanes. Folk say if ye put yer hauns in the prints an’ tell a lie, she’ll drag ye through!”

The new guy turned this over for a moment, turning this over in his head. “Where to?” he asked.

Mhairi shrugged again. “The Other World? Hell? Inside the stane? Fuck knows. Want tae gie it a wee try?” She stuck her hand on one of the handprints, grinning at him.

He tentatively put his hand in the other of the large handprints, his longer fingers actually making it into the fingerprints, unlike Mhairi’s, which barely spanned the palm. “Well, what now?” he asked.

“Hmmm… I like yer accent,” Mhairi blurted out, immediately going red when she realized she’d said it. “Didnae mean anythin’ bad when I said you sounded like ye were aff the telly. Sounds cool.” She looked at the stone. “See? Wasnae pulled in. That’s how ye ken it’s true.”

“Is that how we’re testin’ it?” the guy laughed. “Awright… I like your accents too. You all sound like you’re talkin’ poetry all the time. Just… real fast poetry.” He looked at the stone. “Awright then!”

“Awright!” Mhairi laughed, taking off her hand and holding it out. “In case ye didnae catch the introductions this mornin’, I’m Mhairi Stuart. Nice tae meet ye. Ceud míle fáilte!”

“Thanks, mate… I think?” the guy chuckled, shaking her hand. “I’m sure you heard it, but… Hop Kensington. Nice to meet you!”

Up close, his eyes were sparkling gold.



{1st An t-Ògmhios, 07:07}
{The Slumbering Weald, Invercoll}

The golden eyes faded, and Mhairi’s vision slowly swam back into place. The sky above her was blue, streaked with fluffy white clouds.

“Ughhh…”

She rolled onto her side and immediately regretted it. She could see Hop on his hands and knees, throwing up next to the bush, and when the smell hit her own nausea, she followed suit.

“Whoa! You two alright?”

“L-Lee?” Hop coughed. Mhairi unclipped her water bottle and passed it over to him, then unclipped her spare water bottle and used it to rinse out her mouth.

Leon crouched next to Hop, rubbing his back. “Found you two on the ground in there!” he said, gesturing to the Slumbering Weald. They were lying on the grass outside, a few feet away from where the fog began. “I was about to run and fetch your mums, Mhairi. What were you two doin’ in there?”

“Lookin’ for you!” Hop coughed, taking another swig of water and spitting it out. “You were gonna get lost in there, Lee—aw, fuck, we’ve still gotta find Wendy—”

“She’s fine,” Leon assured him, gesturing to the elderly Wooloo, who was chattering with her flock nearby, overseen by a stern-looking Callum.

“So we went runnin’ in there fae nothin’?” Mhairi groaned, rubbing her head.

“Hey, it was well brave of you!” Leon exclaimed. “And I get why you did it.” He scratched at his beard with a sheepish grin. “No harm done, yeah?”

“Thought we’d had it when that weird Pokémon showed up…” Hop sighed.

“You saw it too?” Mhairi said. “Thought I wis gaun aff ma heid!”

“Weird Pokémon?” Leon asked, looking at the forest. “What kinda weird Pokémon?”

Hop and Mhairi exchanged looks. “Big?” Mhairi suggested.

“Bright eyes?” Hop added. “At least… I think they were eyes?”

“Freaky roar?” Mhairi added.

“Hmmm… probably a hallucination from breathin’ too much poison gas, yeah?” Leon said with a shrug. “Maybe we should get you looked at…”

“It’s gaunnae be fine,” Mhairi insisted, getting up and taking a few deep breaths, feeling the crisp air clear her head. “We’d better git gaun—if I’m a hunnert years an’ a day late tae visitin’ Granny Mags, she’s gaunnae skin me alive!”

Leon laughed. “Wendy, no more trips into the forest, alright?” he told the old Wooloo, who was urged away by the rest of her flock. “C’mon. We’ll walk back, and then Mhairi, I’m flying you out. No running on poison gas lungs, alright?”

“Aye, fine,” Mhairi relented, glancing at Hop, who was staring thoughtfully at the Weald, probably already mentally composing an entry for his diary—or his “chronicles of legend”, as he insisted on calling it.

Gaunnae haftae check wi him later if we saw the same thing. Our brains couldnae make up the same hallucination, could they?

Name: Sean. Species: Sobble. Location: Postwick. Level: 5. Ability: Torrent. Nature: Relaxed.

Cultural lesson: lots of people will accuse Scottish people of hating the English. And we do! But aside from your regular bellends, most folk don’t blanket hate English people. The distinction is thus:

English people: I am from the country of England

The English: RULE BRITANNIA The British Empire improved every country we ruled, what are those darkies complaining about GOD SAVE THE QUEEN those dumb jocks and micks should shut up, they’re not smart enough to run their own countries ENGLAND FOR THE ENGLISH I’m gonna wear a hat with a Union Jack on it completely unironically IT’S COMING HOME where are you from? No, where are you really from? LEARN TO SPEAK REAL ENGLISH some people are just naturally born better than others THE DAILY MAIL IS A LEGITIMATE NEWSPAPER Kate Middleton is an angel now excuse me while I say a slur about Meghan Markle

Like, every country has its bellends, but damned if this particular flavour doesn’t excel at spreading their shit internationally and completely dominating political conversations in this country (hence Brexit being a thing that is actually happening). Westminster is also usually cited as the problem, from the House of Lords still being a thing that exists in the 21st century, and how even when the parliament isn’t riddled with Tories it’s still very, very rare that it shows any interest in the wellbeing of 3/4 of the Union. Honestly, I feel bad for English people, because it’s been a long time since they had a left-wing part worth voting for.

Some English accents also get the “lol you sound brain damaged” treatment that Scots does, and COMPLETELY BY COINCIDENCE I’M SURE, those accents tend to dominate around low-income areas and/or areas with high immigrant populations. Received Pronunciation, and whatever that fucking noise that former Eton students make is called, are considered more “intelligent” and many English people, as well as people from other parts of the UK, have no choice but to mimic those accents in order to get by in jobs and universities. Cockney, Yorkshire and West Country accents are the ones I see mocked most often, and are usually attached to heavy stereotypes whenever they crop up in media; for Hop and Leon’s natural accents I’m going with a Sarf Lahndan accent that I’m mainly trying to imply through word choice since I’m not confident that I’d do it right if trying to write it out phonetically… but when he’s being Champion Leon, Leon slips into an RP Galarian accent. You’ve most likely heard this accent in a movie where it’s the accent used by thugs and criminals, though the first Kingsman movie fired some excellent shots at this, among other things.

It’s a shame, really. I feel like Scottish and English people do genuinely share a lot in terms of values and could have quite happily shared and intermingled our cultures freely, if the cultural-imperialist entity that is The English hadn’t ruined things for all of us.

Team Mhairi:
c61c75975095_Mhairi%20Stuart.jpg
--Mhairi Stuart
1WBtYuK.png
--Sean Bodan


Team Hop:
QLK2CqZ.png
--Hop Kensington
lzRLzGM.png
--Wes Invercoll
QteiqUy.png
--Stomper Turffield
 
Last edited:

Time Master Eon

Conqueror of the Blackthorn Gym
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
398
Caught
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
476
Location
A place beyond space and time
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Fighting
Pokédex Entry
This Pokemon switches rapidly between passion and apathy
Ah yes, "I know that place isn't haunted, but I sure as hell not gonna prove it." A sentiment I fully agree with, particularly since I live in the part of America where the serous conspiracy theorists are convinced the government moved the aliens to after Area 51 got popular. As in I live within an hour of the specific base, I even attended high school on that base.

They even took us on a field trip to the testing grounds. and forgot to tell the guard equipped with a fully automatic machine that a bus full of kids would be passing by.
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,929
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
Aaand we're back! It's Nanowrimo time, god help us all

@Time Master Eon funnily enough, ghosts come up in this chapter, and the vibe in Scotland is generally "of course I don't actually believe in ghosts, but here's what to do to avoid ticking off the ghost who hangs out in my kitchen". Scotland is incredibly haunted, got to have them about! And that field trips sounds... terrifying O_O

This chapter's also up on AO3!

{1st An t-Ògmhios, 07:45}




{Club Hill}




Leon, thankfully, kept his word about not letting Callum land on any of the old roofs of Club Hill. The screaming violet roofs of the labs were regularly repainted to keep them fresh, but the roof itself dated back to the days of kings and queens. The building had originated as an inn, and then was one of the few buildings of the original village not to be razed during the Clearances, the landowner of the time needing somewhere nice to put his groundskeepers. It had been the primary school for a time after Club Hill was built up, and then had changed hands a few times as a private residence after things like safety codes were invented for schools. These days it belong to Mhairi’s grandmother, though mostly it was her cousin Sonia who lived and worked there lately. Science classes often came over to the labs from the school for biology classes, and it had felt cool, as a kid, to go see Gran to learn about Pokémon biology.

All in all, it was far too nice a place with far too rich a history to get crushed or burned down by an overpowered Charizard.

“People get up early up here, huh?” Leon said, peering down at Market Street. It was relatively bustling for Club Hill, with plenty of folk out doing their shopping or going to the station. Kids chased Callum’s shadow along the ground, waving and cheering.

“Naebody gets much sleep this time ay year,” Mhairi complained, hopping off of Callum’s back when he landed in front of the labs. “Hey… dinnae tell Sonia we went intae the Weald, aye? She went when she wis fifteen, but she didnae get found quick as ye found us. Did her a real nasty turn, ken?”

“I know,” Leon sighed. “She told us all ‘bout it once, durin’ the League challenge, when she got too close to one of them Koffing and started… well… coughin’ up a lung. Good morning, everybody!” he said brightly as several excited fans ran up, TV anchor accent sliding back into place. “How are you on this lovely morning, Club Hill?”

While he was grandstanding, Mhairi let herself into the labs.

She’d always loved the place, ever since she was a kid. It had been a mark of pride whenever she grew tall enough to reach a new shelf in the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. As a kid she’d passed many happy hours running about all the floor space, slaloming between the desks and stacks of books like an obstacle course, or watching whichever Pokémon were currently staying in the terrarium as part of a research study, or climbing up into the ancient rafters to see the initials carved generations ago, or picking out a book at random to read. She hadn’t understood most of them, but she’d certainly built up an eclectic vocabulary as a wean.

“Sonia!” she yelled as she walked in, looking around until she spotted her cousin’s curly red hair on one of the upper galleries. Sonia turned to her with a big grin at the same time that Bairn, the lab Yamper, came scampering across the floor. Mhairi stooped to catch him and give him a cuddle. “I got in, Sonia!”

“Ya dancer!” Sonia shrieked, running to the staircase and all but jumping down it so she could run over to give Mhairi a hug. “Well done! Here tae get some pro tips, eh?”

“Pretty sure I already got ‘em aw,” Mhairi laughed. Sonia also laughed and nodded, probably remembering vividly the barrage of questions thirteen-year-old Mhairi had peppered her cousin with before and after her own League challenge. Watching her cousin battle on TV had been one of the most exciting things Mhairi had ever seen, a moment where somebody she knew, somebody real, was transplanted into the glitz and glamour of the wider world outside Club Hill, a world that now seemed to be in Mhairi’s own reach. “Just here tae tell ye masel, an’ then I’m away tae tell Gran, while I leave the two ay yous tae catch up, aye?”

“Leave—YOU!” Sonia yelled as Leon walked in the door. “Aboot fuckin’ time, mister! How’s auld Betsy hearin’ at the grocer’s that you’re in toon afore I do?!”

“Whoa, sorry!” Leon chuckled, raising his hands defensively. “I didn’t realize it’d cause such a stir when I came in yesterday… I thought you said nobody up here knew who I was!”

“Aye, five years ago, afore ye went oan every talk show an’ took every advertisin’ joab gaun,” Sonia said, poking him in the chest. “Ye went oan Strictly, ye daft cunt! Everybody kens fine who ye are now!”

“Shit, you’re right, I fucked that one right up,” Leon sighed, snapping his fingers. “Well, I guess there’s nothin’ stoppin’ me goin’ on the next season of Bake-Off, huh?”

“I’d say yer cookin’s a fair reason,” Sonia said, shaking her head and chuckling. “Do ye no mind how ye’d’ve starved oan yer league challenge if we hadnae been travellin’ thegither?”

“That ‘we’ better mean Raiz, since he was the one makin’ the edible curries,” Leon chuckled. “’Sides, cute how you think I woulda starved instead of gettin’ lost an’ fallin’ off a cliff day one without you an’ Breck navigatin’!” Sonia laughed, and Leon swept her up in a big hug. “Missed you, Sonz!”

“Ay, yous too,” Sonia said, hugging him back. “Dinnae leave it sae long next time!”

Mhairi gave Bairn a last scritch and headed for the door with a wave before Third Wheel Syndrome could set in too heavily. “I’ll leave yous tae it!”

“We’ll see yous aff at the train!” Sonia said, waving her off. “Awright, Leon, tell us aw aboot the World Tournament! Whit’s it like in Unova these days?”

“Away wi yous,” Mhairi said as she walked out of the lab and saw a handful of younger kids peering in the window, whispering excitedly about Leon. She chased them away, did a few stretches, and then started up the road.

A fair few folk were out and about in the early morning, mostly younger kids heading out to play in the fields and older folks getting their shopping in. Teenagers not being a morning species, the only one of her mates she spotted was Heather. The blonde wasn’t even outside, but was eating breakfast in her house’s nook, the window hanging open to get the warm air. “Mhairi! I saw Hop postin’ in the groupchat!” Heather called as Mhairi jogged past. “Congrats! When are yous away?”

“The wan o’clock train!” Mhairi yelled, waving as she went past. “Ta!”

“We’ll see yous aff!” Heather called, waving as Mhairi jogged away.

Most towns in Alba had a Pokémon Centre, and Club Hill was no exception, small as it was. Trainers did occasionally come out to study at the lab, to go hiking on one of the nearby bens, or to take the trail to the loch. A fair few Pokémon in the area used the jobcentre to get work elsewhere in Alba, or on one of the other countries on the international system like Galar, Eire, Cymru or Kalos. Mhairi slowed by it, then, on reflection, popped in. “Mornin’, Holly,” she said, nodding at the nurse on duty. The café was just opening for the morning, and Kenny, as a rule, did not interact with people when the sign was flipped to “closed”, though he did allow any Pokémon who were hanging out at the cafe to sit on the tables while he was setting up. “Hop an’ I got in!”

“Aye? Congrats!” Holly said brightly, high-fiving Mhairi. “Got yer first Pokémon yet?”

“Meet Sean!” Mhairi released the Sobble onto the counter. Holly promptly had the only correct reaction and started squealing about how cute he was. “I wis just wonderin’… ye ken if any League hopefuls are hangin’ here the day?”

“Ran!” Holly called, waking up the Rotom terminal. “Any ay this lot registered as League hopefuls?”

“A couple!” Ran chirped brightly. “Rhiannon! You still thinking of taking the League?”

A small, perfectly round Rookidee fluttered over, giving an inquisitive chirp. “Hello, wee yin,” Mhairi said, holding out her hand to let Rhiannon hop into it. The tiny bird nestled snugly into her palm. “Howzabout it? Fancy takin’ the League wi’ me an’ Sean here?”

Sean and Rhiannon exchanged a couple bouts of chirping, and then the little bird nuzzled her head against Mhairi’s palm, snuggling into her hand like a comfy nest.

“In the name ay the wee man, is my whole team gaunnae be fuckin adorable?” Mhairi whined, cupping the Rookidee close to her chest. “I love these weans. How’m I s’posed tae send ‘em tae fight?”

“They’ll get bigger if ye train ‘em, mind,” Holly said, tickling Sean’s chin. “Is that no the goal?”

“I’m no sure I want ‘em to get bigger,” Mhairi sighed, reaching into her bag for a pokéball, which was almost exactly the same size and shape as Rhiannon. The little Rookidee promptly pecked the button, capturing herself. “See? Too fuckin’ cute!”

“Good luck,” Holly laughed as Mhairi returned Sean and took off again.

Mhairi took a moment to stretch outside of the Pokémon Centre. There were one or two farmhouses further along, but the view was almost entirely softly rustling fields of green and gold, and beyond them, the last of the morning mists clearing away from the green-and-grey peaks. The day was clear enough for her to see the rounded top of the Ben between the nearer peaks. Last year, she’d taken a day like this to climb Ben Coly with Fraser, Heather and Hop.

She and Hop had a completely different kind of mountain to climb this year.

She set off again, heading down in the direction of Loch Cailleach and her grandparents’ house on its shores.



{1st An t-Ògmhios, 09:28}




{Loch Cailleach}




The thing about summer holidays was free-roaming children.

Mhairi hadn’t taken on full course loads in her fifth or sixth years of high school, so she’d had a few free periods, and it had felt very swish and grown-up to go walking around town during the day on weekdays. There weren’t a lot of kids in the Club Hill area, because the population of humans in general was barely in the triple digits, but still, it just felt a little different to go for a jog or do the shopping and know that younger kids were still in class. A little taste of maturity, a little taste of freedom.

Summer holidays, however, meant younger kids were everywhere all day every day, including on her route to the loch. Thanks to Hop posting in the groupchat about their acceptance into the League, and somebody reposting that to the Club Hill Palpad page, every fucker knew that Mhairi had fighting Pokemon with her and was out for a scrap.

“See that, Wee Rhi?” Mhairi said, keeping the Rookidee cradled in her hand while they watched Sean Water Gun down a Nickit. “Sean’s getting awfy tough, is he no? He didnae even greet this fight!” Ricky hummed a little translation to Rhiannon, which Sean apparently overheard, given by the face he made at her.

“Aye, he’s well tough,” Ben McCann agreed as the kid returned what Mhairi knew for a fact was his dad’s Nickit. “Cannae wait tae tell Ma I did a real Pokémon battle!”

“Aye, lost it aw by yersel too, so ye did,” Mhairi said, giving Sean a cuddle before returning him—he was turning into a tidy wee battler, but he wasn’t much of a runner. “Away hame wi ye an’ heal they poor wee buggers afore yer Da finds out yer teachin’ wee Neil tae fight.”

“I’m gaunnae beat you one day! I’m gaunnae be the champion!” Ben called after her as Mhairi jogged off, letting Rhiannon go so the tiny bird could fly alongside her.

“Aye, you an’ everycunt fae Galar tae John O’ Groats,” Mhairi muttered.

“No joggin’ tae John O’ Groats, are we?” Ricky chuckled, floating alongside her.

“Naw, but here, whit’s the time?”

“Near half nine,” Ricky reported.

“Fuck’s sakes,” Mhairi grumbled. “Good thing we’re nearly there, gaunnae haftae turn back about soon as if I’m gaunnae make the train…”

A few clouds were moving in. It cooled the air, but also dulled the sparkle of the loch so it wasn’t utterly blinding as Mhairi jogged along the side of it, heading for the old blackstone house by the water.

Her grandmother was outside, kneeling under one of the trees and weeding the flowers growing on a grave under it. Around about seventy, the old lady had started needing a stick to walk, and Mhairi could see her Corvisquire-engraved cane leaning against a tree. The purple and gold detailing on the cane exactly matched the old woman’s headscarf and glasses. Mhairi dreamed of being that classy for seventy-two years straight. “Mornin’, Gran! Mornin’, Maisie,” she added, nodding politely to the grave of the elderly Meowth who’d died the month before. “How’s she daein’?”

“Wee cuss keeps knockin’ cups aff the counter,” her grandmother tutted, carefully yanking out another unwanted plant, roots and all. “She’ll settle once the last ay the Gigantamax research we did thegither gets published, I’m sure.” She stood up, adjusting her glasses and smiling. “Ye didnae come aw this way tae ask aboot Maisie, though, did ye?”

“Came tae see you, Gran,” Mhairi said, giving the sturdy old lady a hug. “Where’s Grandad?”

“Lookin’ efter the indoor plants,” her grandmother said, pocking her gardening gloves and picking up her cane. “’Mon in an’ get some tea. Did ye hear back fae the League yet?”

“I’m in, Gran!” Mhairi burst out excitedly, unable to contain herself any longer. “Me an’ Hop are away tae the Pokemon League!”

“Well done, hen,” her grandmother chuckled, ruffling Mhairi’s hair. Mhairi opened the door for her grandmother, letting them both into the huge house that was nevertheless overstuffed with potted plants and scientific texts, many of them written by Elizabeth Magnolia herself. “PHIL! SHE’S IN, LOVE!”

“’Bout bloody time!” Mhairi’s grandfather laughed, stepping out of the living room and sweeping her up in a big hug. While Mhairi’s grandmother was a little shorter than her now, stooped on her walking stick—back hunched from years bent over her research, Mhairi’s mother would say every time she reminded Mhairi to sit up straight at her computer—her grandfather was both tall and big, with a belly so round Mhairi was sure she could remember sitting on it as a child. He gave the best hugs. “Proud ay you, hen! We’re gettin ye the good biscuits!”

“I cannae stay lang, Hop an’ I are away oan the train in a couple ay hours,” Mhairi said, glancing at the kitchen clock as her grandmother steered her to sit at the table while they put on tea. “Couldnae escape wi’oot tellin yez masel’, could I?”

“Couldnae escape oor Nicky’s wrath, ye mean,” her grandfather teased, which was right on the money and therefore could not be denied.

“Hop’s got that wee Wooloo,” her grandmother recalled. “Gettin’ yersel any Pokemon yet?”

“Got masel two, as it happens!” Mhairi proudly released Sean and Rhiannon onto the kitchen table. Her grandmother was there in a flash, sat down and picking up Sean for a closer look.

“Lookit this wee man… gaunnae want tae focus on ranged attacks, he’s no gaunnae take a hit weil,” the old woman mused. “Gaunnae be hard tae hit if ye use his speed right. Dinnae let him get up close tae folk, ye hear me?”

“Aye, Gran,” Mhairi said, immediately deciding not to tell her grandparents how she won her first battle against Hop.

Her grandmother smiled, gave the surprised-looking Sean a kiss on his forehead, and then set him down so she could scoop up Rhiannon for a look, absentmindedly straightening a few feathers. Mhairi could see her grandfather smiling under his bushy moustache as his wife went into Professor Mode. “Enjoy this wean while she’s wee,” her grandmother chuckled. “Mind how big Corviknight get?”

“Aye, wan day she’ll be carryin’ me,” Mhairi agreed excitedly.

Rhiannon chirped and fluttered from one of the old lady’s hands to the other. “Another speedy yin. Willnae be able tae take a hit ‘til her steel feathers come in, mind. Yer gaunnae wantae add someyin a bit mair solid tae yer team quick, hen. Whit aboot the Chewtle oot in the loch?”

“They’re bitey wee bastarts,” Mhairi objected. “I’m sure I can find somethin’ else oan the way, Gran, somethin’ that willnae take my fingers aff!”

Her grandfather laughed, setting steaming mugs of tea on the table, bowls of water for Rhiannon and Sean, and an empty cup on the far end. “Fae Maisie,” he explained, sitting down behind his own mug. “How’s yer bike comin’ alang?”

It was exactly as Mhairi had feared. When she sat down over tea with her grandparents, it was far, far too easy to get sucked into chatting about the modifications she’d made to her bike, the Pokémon she hoped to train, Pokémon her grandparents had trained back when they took the League challenge, her grandmother’s year as Champion, and the latest Dynamax research. Dynamax was a standard part of almost every League battle now, but Dynamax Energy was almost all focused around the coast and central belt, so she’d never gotten to try a match herself. She’d seen thousands on TV, both during League season and in year-round exhibition matches, and plenty more in videos of her grandmother’s research, but her first gym challenge was going to be her first Dynamax match. Not only that, but this was going to be the first year that a new form of Dynamaxing, Gigantamaxing, was being publicly used and acknowledged as part of the League, though Mhairi’s grandmother had some concerns about its effects on both Pokémon and humans.

“It’s like tryin’ tae walk through treacle wi’oot wan ay these,” her grandmother warned, latching a Dynamax Band she’d made herself around Mhairi’s wrist. The Wishing Star set into the middle of the woven strap twinkled in the light from the window. “I’ve got another fae yer mate Hop. Two Wishin’ Stars fell in my garden yesterday, so I figured the two ay yez had got intae the League!”

“Magic, Gran,” Mhairi said, running a finger over the stone’s rough surface and putting the band for Hop in her bag. “I cannae wait tae—”

There was a loud clatter as the empty cup was knocked off of the table. Rhiannon shrieked in surprise and Sean burst into shocked tears.

“Oi!” Mhairi snapped, picking up Sean and rocking him in her arms to soothe him. She scowled at empty air over the table. “Fit ye daein’, Maisie?”

“Och, the time!” her grandmother gasped, pointing at the clock. Mhairi had a minor heart attack when she saw that it was noon. “Gaun then, hen. We’ll be watchin for ye oan the telly!”

“Love yez,” Mhairi said, returning Sean and Rhiannon and giving each of her grandparents a kiss before tearing off out the door. “Slaters!”

She took the world’s quickest stretch outside the door, then shot off, waving at Maisie’s grave as she ran past. “Ricky, text Hop an’ tell ‘im I’m oan ma way,” she said, jumping off the path to run on the grass instead of the slightly muddy and slippery lochside path.



{1st An t-Ògmhios, 12:54}




{Club Hill}




Mhairi waved at Callum as the Charizard flew overhead. “I’m gaunnae make it!” she yelled, tearing past the Pokémon Centre. She saw the Charizard turn and fly towards the train station, and she pushed her burning lungs and legs a little harder.

There was a small cheer from the people gathered in front of the train station, and more than a few “’bout bloody time!”s. Mhairi more or less ran into her mothers to give them a hug.

“Hope you packed everythin’ last night, love,” her ma chuckled as she handed over Mhairi’s backpack. “It’s a lang way back tae pick up anythin’ you missed!”

“Repacked it six times, Ma,” Mhairi assured her. She flipped open the bag and rifled through it one more time anyway, just in case.

“Fraser an’ me got tickets tae the fourth gym, so the two ay yous haftae make it that far at least!” Heather said, giving Mhairi and then Hop a one-armed hug each. Fraser gave them both a thumbs-up and a slap on the back.

“You bet! We’re going all the way!” Hop said excitedly, waving as Leon dismounted from Callum’s back. “Hear that, Lee? We’re comin’ for you!”

“I’ll be waiting!” Leon laughed, striking a pose as the crowd cheered.

Sonia rolled her eyes and gave Mhairi another hug. “Kick his arse, cuz, he needs it,” she whispered loudly.

“First step tae victory’s gettin’ oan the bloody train, kids,” Mick said dryly, sticking his head out of the train station. “We’re awa’ in wan minute!”

“Bloody hell, right, we’re getting a shift oan,” Mhairi muttered, grabbing her bike and doling out a few high-fives to folk before running through the station. Hop was hot on her heels after extricating himself from his mum, opening up his phone to scan their tickets and let them through the barrier.

“Good luck, you two!” Mick called as they jumped onto the train, signaling the train driver to go.

Mhairi folded up her bike, put it on a rack, and then slumped in one of the empty seats. She edged her heavy backpack off into the seat next to her with a long sigh of relief as Club Hill started to slide away outside the window, friends and family still waving outside.

Hop sprawled in the seat facing hers, waving again at his grandparents, mum and brother. He slumped again once they were out of sight, then nudged Mhairi’s ankle with his foot under the table, grinning. “We’re really away, huh?” he said excitedly, gesturing to the fields flying past out the window. “We’re on our way to the Pokémon League!”

A fresh wave of excitement bubbled up, escaping Mhairi as a giggle. “We’re oan oor way, fra’ misery tae happiness ta-dayyyy,” she sang.

“Uh-huh?” Hop laughed.

“Uh-huh!”

“Uh-huh?”

“Uh-huh!”

“Ayyyy…” Mhairi collapsed into more giggles instead of continuing the song. “Cannae believe it! I keep thinkin’ I’m gaunnae wake up an’ find out I’m late fae the bus tae class…”

“Don’t jinx it, mate!” Hop cried, falling back with his arms thrown up defensively over his face. “No, it’s gotta be real, I didn’t spend that long puttin’ up and takin’ down that tent for nothin’…”

“Had me terrified yez were gaunnae miss the train, so ye did,” Ricky laughed, settling Mhairi’s phone on the table. “Right, I’m havin’ a wee peek the now an’ there’s nae delays expected ‘tween here an’ Inverbodan. Want me tae gie yez a wee shout when we’re passin’ any sights?”

“Aye, sound, ta fae that, Ricky,” Mhairi agreed, looking out the window, at the rocky bens looming up around them. She and Hop had games on their phones and she knew Hop had playing cards, but for the moment she didn’t feel the need for any of them. She’d taken the train journey to Inverbodan before, but it just felt special this time. “I’m just gaunnae watch the scenery go by fae a wee bit, how ‘bout you?”

“Sounds brilliant,” Hop agreed, releasing Wes and Stomper. “What d’you think, lads?”

“Oh, I’ve caught up, Hop!” Mhairi said, releasing Sean and Rhiannon onto the table. Stomper hopped up onto the table to say hi to Sean, then flicked his ears as he peered curiously at Rhiannon. “This wee yin’s Rhiannon. In’t she precious?” Rhiannon chirped, fluffing up her feathers.

“Last time you’ll catch up to me, mate, I promise you that!” Hop said with a wink. He shifted his bag, allowing Wes to hop up onto the seat next to him and see the scenery go by while the smaller Pokémon sat on the table.

Mhairi leaned her head against the window, watching the way the sun through the clouds dappled the hillsides in every shade of green. It was exciting to think that soon, maybe even within the week, they’d be trekking through that lush landscape. They wouldn’t be walking around these bens, since Inverbodan was the furthest north city with a major league gym, but Inverbodan itself was pretty far north of the central belt, so depending on the order of this years’ lineup there might be hundreds of miles of Highland between gyms. She was hoping for more sunny days than rainy ones, but it was worth being grateful for the rain, too. Without it, they wouldn’t have the green, after all, and this time of year, at least it’d be warm.

There were rare Pokémon out there, Pokémon who might be interested in taking the League challenge to get stronger but weren’t interested in moving closer to busy, dense human cities, Pokémon waiting for those willing to explore off the beaten path to find them…

“Hey, Hop,” she said, glancing across at her best friend, who looked about ready to drop off into a nap to catch up to the early, busy morning. “That… this mornin’, in the Slumberin’ Weald… that happened, too, right?”

Hop went into his bag and pulled out this year’s diary, “CHRONICLES OF LEGEND” detailed on the cover, and flipped it open to the most recent entry. “Wrote that this mornin’ after I got home. That’s what you saw too, yeah?”

Mhairi looked away from the actual entry and focused on the sketch Hop had done of what he thought he saw. The outline was vague, offering no more than the impression of something large and hulking, but he’d gotten the eyes down in detail, the bright, piercing eyes that Mhairi remembered so vividly. He’d even added a few flecks of yellow pencil to suggest the bright gold colour really was what she’d seen, and not just the dream she’d had mixing up with what she’d seen in her brain.

“We really saw it, huh?” she said, handing the book back for Hop to tuck away securely.

“Yeah,” he said quietly. “What d’you think it was?”

“Dunno…” Mhairi had been racking her brain all the way to her grandparents’ and back, trying to remember a story about a huge beast living in the Slumbering Weald, but there wasn’t one. Stories of being stolen away by the fairies, or put to sleep, or that you wouldn’t walk out the same person who went in, but nothing as, well, blunt as there being a giant beastie in the trees.

Folk sometimes joked that the Queen of Stones was hiding in there, or sleeping in a clearing, or trapped in the mist, but, well, the Queen of Stones was almost a joke character. Not actual folklore, let alone somebody who’d actually existed. Got a castle and no clear historical record on who built it or when? The Queen ay Stanes stacked it up! Stone circle up in the hills and no clue when it was built? It’s where the Queen ay Stanes goes fae the dancin’, be careful ye dinnae trespass! Weird carvings? Untranslatable runes? Unknown structures? She was one-myth-fits-all. If Mhairi had heard somebody else say that they’d seen something huge and mysterious in the forest, she’d probably have joked that it was the Queen of Stones’ pet.

But this wasn’t something she’d heard about secondhand, it was something she’d seen, something not a joke but very much real, perhaps something that had been lost or forgotten but was still very much there…

It didn’t feel right to joke about it. “Cannae say I’ve heard ay anythin’ like it,” she admitted. “Ricky, can ye search up any legends ‘bout things livin’ in the Slumberin’ Weald? Might be somethin’ in some old book somewhere that isnae kent about Invercoll…”

“Gies a bit an’ I’ll have a look,” Ricky promised, settling back against the table as his screen flickered.

Hop leaned back against his seat, closing his eyes and yawning hugely as he settled in for a nap. Wes nudged him until he leaned against the Wooloo’s soft wool, Wes himself apparently having no plans but a nap for the journey. Stomper, Sean and Rhiannon chattered quietly by the window, watching the scenery go by, and so did Mhairi, leaning her head against the window again as the train dove a forest. There was a cleared distance away from the train tracks, but the trees beyond that were a dense blur of green and brown, though not so dense as the Slumbering Weald.

The forest was no doubt hoaching with wild Pokémon anyway, but she couldn’t help watching out anyway for any odd movement or any glance of golden eyes.



{1st An t-Ògmhios, 19:25}




{An Dìthreabhan}




They made it to Inverbodan with plenty of time to spare, though not enough time to leave the station and have a look around the city a little. They’d both been to the city before, Hop for League events, Mhairi for shinty games, but Mhairi would’ve liked the chance to properly check out Caley Stadium. Nessa had made the Major League this year, so they’d definitely be back sooner or later, depending on this year’s order of gyms. For the time being, they smelled a tang of salt in the air and chatted about grass and electric Pokémon they’d like to train.

The train to Midgow was only a few minutes late, but it wasn’t to last. Mhairi and Hop were getting thoroughly gubbed by Raquelle and a Porygon they knew at Grass vs Ghosts when, hours down the line, they were nearly flung out of their seats by the train screeching to an abrupt halt. Sean yelled as he went flying into the air before sticking onto a window a few rows down, Rhiannon shrieked and flapped her wings as she went tumbling through the air, and Stomper went flying into Wes, who at least was a soft landing and securely wedged into his own seat. Raquelle caught Hop’s phone as both were launched into the air.

“Stones an’ fuckin’ bones,” Mhairi groaned, flopping sideways with an arm over her aching stomach after getting rammed into the table by the velocity of the stop. “Whit the fuck?!”

Hop leaned against the window, trying to peer down the track. “There’s some kinda light down there,” he observed. “You think there’s a Pokémon on the track?”

“The state ay Railba, it’s probably a fuckin’ leaf,” Mhairi muttered, stretching out on her back across the chairs and pressing both arms to her aching gut. “Sean? Rhi? Awright?”

Sean hopped over a few other groaning passengers to return to the table, crying in fright until Mhairi reached an arm up to pull him into a cuddle. Rhiannon flew back and forth in a few small circles before landing on the table, screeching indignantly all the while. “No injuries, just a wee fright,” Raquelle reported. “Railba hasn’t put out an alert for any delays on the line…”

The PA dingled a cheery little tune. “Hullo, passengers, this is your driver. Apologies for the rough stop, folks, there was a… very sudden disruption on the line. Just sit tight and dingle the emergency bell if there’s been any injuries and a conductor’ll be right along. We’ll update you soon as we know what we’re looking at. Thank you.

“Oh, aye, they’ve updated the site now, delay oan the line fae Inverbodan tae Midgow,” Ricky reported. “Nae word ay whit, though…”

“I’m puttin’ folk away ‘case they’re gaunnae be flingin’ us aboot again,” Mhairi muttered, hissing in pain as her stomach muscles crunched when she sat up.

Raquelle chirped a little message to the other Pokémon. Sean sniffed and nodded before Mhairi returned him. Rhiannon fluffed up her feathers, cheeping angrily one more time, before Mhairi returned her too. “Rhiannon made a wee comment on human transportation that I can’t translate,” Raquelle reported. “She’s not a fan, let’s put it that way.”

Hop also returned Stomper and Wes once he got the nod and stood up. “Everybody alright?” he called, looking up and down the car. There weren’t a lot of other passengers, but thankfully nobody in their car had gotten much more than a bump and a fright. Mhairi pressed herself against the window, trying to get a look. It was far too early for sunset, but there was a glow down the front of the train…

“Call from Sonia,” Raquelle announced, flying over to Mhairi.

“Oh, aye?” Mhairi shuffled over so Hop could sit next to her as she picked up the call. “Awright, Sonia?”

Awright yersel, Mhairi?” Sonia asked. She was calling them from a computer in the lab, from the looks of it, and was frowning at something on another screen. “I’m gettin’ detection ay a new Dynamax Spot oan the line tae Midgow. Fourth yin this year, can ye believe it?

“A bloody Dynamax Spot?!” Mhairi yelped. “Oan the bloody train line?!”

“So that’s what that glow is, huh?” Hop said, looking out the window again. “I can’t believe you’re still at the lab, Sonia! Tell us you didn’t skip dinner!”

PhD’s no gaunnae get itsel,” Sonia said, typing something quickly. “I’ll get food efter I figure out whit in the name ay the wee man’s gaun on wi this Dynamax Spot. Glad tae see yer alright, I was worried the train’d crash…”

We got tossed aboot a wee bit, but we’re fine, Sonia, nae fear,” Mhairi promised.

Canne see the trains runnin’ oan that track anytime soon,” Sonia mused, “so yous gie yer maws a call when ye ken where yer bidin’ the night, aye?

“Will do,” Mhairi and Hop chorused. Sonia waved and hung up. “Fuckin’ Dynamax Spot on the tracks,” Mhairi muttered.

“Railba’re gettin’ creative about their delays, ain’t they?” Hop mused, folding his arms behind his head and leaning back. “They’ve gotta figure out that we’re not movin’ soon and let us off the train, yeah?”

“Oi,” a guy further down the train called, sticking his head up over the parapet of seats, “not to eavesdrop, but you were kind of yelling. Did you say there’s a Dynamax Spot on the line?”

“You couldnae make it up,” Mhairi insisted. “Dynamax Spot just poppin’ up in the middle ay the track, can ye credit it?”

“It would be bloody Railba, wouldn’t it?” a woman said, getting a couple of laughs.

“Ten tae wan they Macro Cosmos lot are crawlin’ aw over it awready,” somebody else grumbled.

“Give me strength, no this again—”

“I’m tellin’ ye, every bloody time—”

“Yeah, I mean, Macro Cosmos are probably on their way, ‘cause they’re the best at lockin’ down Dynamax Spots and channelin’ the energy to make ‘em safe,” Hop pointed out. “Whenever a new one pops up, they’re always there right quick!”

“Never mind them, how’re we gettin’ tae Midgow?” Mhairi fretted. “Raquelle, any other train lines they might be puttin’ us oan?”

“Perhaps if they send you to Barburgh…” Raquelle’s eyes flickered. “No, never mind, the Barburgh line joins this one. Hmm, if they send you south to get onto the line from Galar, maybe…

“Fuck’s sakes,” Mhairi groaned, thumping her head back against her seat.

“C’mon, Raquelle, show us the maps, there’s gotta be another way!” Hop exclaimed.

They were still poring over the map, despairing of finding another train route, when the PA dinged to life a while later. “Thanks for waiting, folks, and sincerest apologies on behalf of Railba. We’re going to back the train up to the last station we passed through, in Dalmorag, where we will be fully refunding your tickets for this inconvenience and covering your teleporter fares to your final destination. For those wondering, a Dynamax Spot ripped up the train tracks ahead, and Railba employees are co-ordinating with Macro Cosmos staff to deal with a Dynamaxed Wooloo and the Spot itself. Once again, my deepest apologies on behalf of Railba for this unforseen delay.”

Teleporter fares? There’s no gaunnae be another train?!” Mhairi yelped, aghast.

Hop slapped a hand down on her shoulder, eyes sparkling. “Mhairi! I just had the best idea! Oh, mate, you’re gonna love this!”

“I’d fuckin’ better,” Mhairi said as the train started to reverse. “Whit’s the plan?”

Hop reached out to the map on Raquelle’s screen, zooming in to the stretch between Dalmorag and Midgow. “Check it out. What’s between us and Midgow right now? Miles and miles of wild area is what! We’re probably gonna be trekkin’ over this same stretch going to Midgow or Dundurn anyway, yeah? Why not get a little practise in, camp out a night, hike in to the city tomorrow?”

Mhairi looked over the map again. Raquelle silently brought up a projection of the walking time between Dalmorag and Midgow City Centre, which was about eight hours. “Hop, I think yer ontae somethin’,” she said slowly.

“Right?” Hop said brightly. “It’s gotta be better than muckin’ about with the trains all day tomorrow, yeah? And once we’re in the city, y’know, there’ll be buses and stuff to get us to the Pyro for signup! Might even catch some new teammates on the way!” He clenched his fists, grinning somehow even brighter. “Aw, yeah, I’m gettin’ excited now! This is gonna be wicked!”

“Yer oan,” Mhairi agreed. “We’ve got daylight tae burn yet. We’ll get some tea and gie oor maws a call in Dalmorag an’ crack oan while there’s still daylight tae burn, aye?”

Hop fistbumped her. “Hey, a hero’s gotta face a little adversity, right?”

@Dracodemortem on tumblr: thank you for your kind message! I don’t really use tumblr anymore but I saw an email alert and it made me smile :)

Maisie the Meowth was actually an event Pokemon I got when SwSh came out and then… died very quickly in my first foray into the Wild Area. I keep thinking that Pancham is dark/grass and forget it has fighting moves…
I did, on the other hand, actually catch a Chewtle, but since I had Sean, I didn’t use it.
Name: Rhiannon. Species: Rookidee. Nature: Naive. Ability: Unnerve. Location: Route 1. Level: 4.
Name: Craig. Species: Chewtle. Nature: Docile. Ability: Shell Armour. Location: Route 2. Level: 5.
RIP Maisie the Meowth, level 5-11

Small town energy: you’re related to half your neighbours and you know all the rest by name.But we also get Mhairi and Hop out of the wee town this chapter and on their way to the Pokémon League! A month after all the other Galar runs out there, but hey, that’s how we’re rolling here

There’s plenty of ghost Pokémon in the games, and they’re often implied to be dead humans or Pokémon, but we also get a few regular ghosts in places like Lavender Tower and the mansion in Eterna Forest, so I figure dead folk can still become regular ghosts depending on the circumstances of their death. Scotland’s hoaching with ghosts and ghost stories, and a lot of folk fall under the “no of course I don’t believe in ghosts, but don’t tick off the one in my bathroom” school of thought. My primary school had a bunch of lads who used to attend the school when it was a secondary school, then went to WWI together and got blown up by the same shell. They were harmless, but if you heard them playing football on the pitch at night you didn’t want to go look, because after the shelling they weren’t looking too pretty. We also had one in a shop I worked at who really didn’t like the one male staff member. The guy’s coat would always end up on the floor on the far side of the room no matter which coat he wore, no matter which peg he hung it on, even if he hung it on a chair.

Language notes:
—A bairn is a baby. The Yamper living at the lab is literally just babey.
—A cailleach, sometimes spelled callyack, is a literally just an old woman/hag, but the word is sometimes used as a name for specific witches/hags in various parts of Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. If Mhairi called her gran a cailleach, she’d be in BIG trouble :X
—I’m hoping it’s clear from context, but a ben is a mountain. There’s a variety of names for mountains in Scotland, but none of them are “Mount [name]”; if you refer to Ben Nevis as Mount Nevis, someone will correct you. Ben Nevis, the tallest peak, is sometimes just called The Ben, although “the Ben” can, depending on location, just mean the nearest mountain.
—By a similar token, they’re not lakes, they’re lochs. You might see the Lake of Menteith on a map; locals generally call it Loch Inchmahome or Loch Menteith. There’s a rumour that it was renamed the Lake of Menteith because Menteith was the name of a traitor who defected to England, so the name change was basically calling him an English bootlicker, but as far as I can find that’s entirely apocryphal. Mapmakers are just all over the place.
—Cunt is not an inherently bad word. Believe me, Scottish lads have a wide vocabulary of other words to use if they wanna be gross about women and girls >_> It’s more like an intensifier? Like, it intensifies the adjective before it. If I call Nichola Sturgeon a “sound cunt”, it’s not an insult, it’s praise for how sound (reliable and competent) she is. Sonia calling Leon a “daft cunt” is, at most, a friendly jibe. When I refer to Boris Johnson as a “tory cunt”, believe me, the dire insult in that phrase is not “cunt”. You do get folk who come to Scotland on holiday and hear folk using intensifying words like “fuck” and “cunt” casually and are like “hey, does that mean I can call people sp*stics and r*tards?” No! No it does not, you utter bellend! Leave disabled folk alone, ffs. There’s a wild difference between swearies and slurs, dammit. (We like Australians because they get it.)

Team Mhairi:
c61c75975095_Mhairi%20Stuart.jpg
--Mhairi Stuart
1WBtYuK.png
--Sean Bodan
4TH3MmK.png
--Rhiannon Cally


Team Hop:
QLK2CqZ.png
--Hop Kensington
lzRLzGM.png
--Wes Invercoll
QteiqUy.png
--Stomper Turffield
 
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SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,929
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
Happy belated St Andrew's Day! Hope folks who were doing Nano had a good month!

This chapter is also on AO3!

{1st An t-Ògmhios, 22:30}
{An Dìthreabhan}

“Finally!” Mhairi exclaimed, thumping carefully on her tent from the outside. It didn’t collapse immediately, or indeed at all, which was a huge improvement. “We’re almost out ay daylight.”

“Ahhh, precious sunset, I missed you,” Hop said happily, flopping down in front of his own tent. “That’s the one thing up north I never get used to. You lot need to sort out your sunlight up here.” Mhairi stuck her tongue out at him. “Bloody glad nobody saw what a mess we made of that, eh?”

Mhairi grimaced. She had practiced putting up her all-weather tent, of course, as soon as she’d got it, but, well… that had been six weeks ago, and it had been in her garden, where she knew the ground, not in a field between Dalmorag and Midgow. Both cities were burning yellow coals in the distance, Midgow sitting under the lavender sky of sunset, fading to dark blue over Dalmorag. They might get to see stars if they stayed up until midnight, but… “Awright, let’s eat oor sandwiches an’ get some kip, ay? We’ll want tae be up bright an’ early tae head tae Midgow in the mornin’!”

“Sound,” Hop agreed. They’d bought dinner and breakfast in Dalmorag train station, and that had felt kind of cool, too, shopping for their own meals, picking out food not for snacks but for what they thought was going to carry them to Midgow. It felt very mature, balancing their budgets against their bag space, picking out what food would be the best to keep them going through a long hike. There weren’t that many options to choose from in a train station kiosk, admittedly, but they took it seriously anyway.

Sean, Stomper, Rhiannon and Wes were all asleep already, the smaller three having cuddled against the Wooloo’s side while their humans were putting up their tents. “You think they need food?” Hop wondered around a mouthful of his sandwich.

“Might not,” Mhairi mused. “Sonia an’ Gran telt me once that there’s loads ay Dynamax Spots about the Central Belt. Even if we’re no sittin’ in one, the energy’s aw about us, aye? They’re soakin’ in so much they might no need any scran fae days. They didnae even look at our pieces, did they?”

“That’s a trick,” Hop allowed. “Think we should put ‘em away or let ‘em snooze?”

“Let’s leave ‘em be. They look pretty cozy, an’ if anythin’ comes sneakin’ up—” Stomper sat up abruptly from an apparently solid sleep, nose and ears twitching, and yelled loudly. Mhairi whipped around to follow the little Pokémon’s line of sight and saw the beam of a flashlight bobbing around at the other end of the field. “Well, that! OI!” she called, standing up and waving. “EVENIN’! OAN YER WAY TAE MIDGOW?”

“Sit down, you nonce!” Hop yelped, grabbing Mhairi’s sleeve. “What if it’s some kinda thief or somethin’?”

“No very stealthy, wavin’ that flashlight about, are they?” Mhairi pointed out. “Anyways, we got Pokémon an’ I got mace.”

The beam of the flashlight swung around. They couldn’t see the person holding it very well, but it looked like they were waving. “Not me, but good luck!” they called, their voice distant as they continued on along the edge of the field.

“Might wanna keep an eye out ‘til we’re sure they’re gone, yeah?” Hop said nervously. Stomper sniffed the air a few more times, still frowning, then turned to chatter quietly with the other Pokémon.

“They’re saying whoever it is smells funny, and they’re trying to decide what it means,” Raquelle supplied, flying out of Mhairi’s pocket.

“Funny like whit?”

Raquelle shrugged. “Could be wearing a strong cologne. Could be wearing some unusual clothing. Could’ve been drinking. Sean and Stomper haven’t been out in the wild like this before, so they’re a little nervous. Rhiannon’s telling them to calm down.” They laughed. “Sounds like they’ll be keeping an eye out. I can too, though I’m only on shift until midnight, and I see you’ve only got a two-shift plan. Would you like to upgrade it to a three-shift plan?”

“Eh… can I do a one-off the night?” Mhairi asked. “I’m haudin’ out fae the discount coupon fae a three-shift upgrade that ye can nab oan League sign-up.”

“Once-off, yep, we can do that!” Raquelle’s eyes flickered, then a price and confirmation came up on screen. “That look alright?”

“Oooft, see that?” Mhairi said, gesturing to the price onscreen. “That’s why I’m haudin’ out fae the discount code.”

“Too right, mate,” Hop said with a wince as Mhairi hit the confirmation. “Good to know we’ve got a night watch on, though.” He yawned. “What time are we thinkin’ in the morning?”

“Raquelle, can ye set us an alarm fae half-seven?” Mhairi asked. Hop groaned aloud. “Aw, wheesht. It’ll gie us plenty ae time tae bitch an’ moan an’ hit snooze an’ Slakoth aboot afore gettin’ up an’ still make good time tae Midgow.”

“I mean, you’re right, but that really don’t make it any better,” Hop said, shucking off his shoes and crawling into his tent. “’Night, Mhairi.”

“’Night, Hop.” Mhairi pulled her boots inside the tent to sit just inside the flap, but didn’t bother zipping it up, not with the Pokémon snoozing outside. It was a pleasantly cool evening, so she shucked off her jumper and jeans before climbing into her sleeping bag, and there doing the contortionist’s wriggle to get her bra out from under her shirt, because even the comfiest of sports bras was uncomfy for sleeping in.

She knew she had to sleep, but sleep wouldn’t come. She was too excited. Maybe this time next week, she and Hop would be sitting up in a circle of tents instead of being two lone dots in the darkness. Challengers often banded together in groups, at least for the early stretches, sometimes all the way to the end. There was nothing to lose from supporting your fellow challengers, after all, not if you were confident in your own training and your own Pokémon when it came to the tournament. She’d always loved reading about the twenty-fifth League season, back when the whole thing was a lot smaller, and all thirty-two challengers had traveled in one huge group, every one of them making it to the tournament at the end.

Mhairi loved the idea of the race, the competition, the training, but the camraderie was also something she’d found herself charmed by, too. Sonia still regularly called and visited friends she’d made on her League challenge, and still, from the looks of it, counted Leon as one of her best friends even if she didn’t often get to see him. Hell, their grandmother still kept in touch with people she first met on her challenge, over fifty years ago. They both said it was something about the extreme conditions—not that anybody’s life was really in danger, no matter how rough the terrain got, but still, everyone said that it stimulated something in people. The risk and intensity made people either their best selves or their worst, and Mhairi was hopeful to meet more of the former than the latter. No matter how she did, she wanted to walk out of this with some new friends, some achievements she could be proud of, and a bit more confidence about leaving home to go to Uni in the autumn.

…She really, really wanted to win, though.

She snuggled down in her sleeping bag, counting Wooloo to try and bore herself out of her own excitement so she could get some sleep.




{2nd An t-Ògmhios, 11:03}
{An Dìthreabhan}

In contrast to the previous day’s lovely weather, the next day was a profoundly dreich one. Mhairi was grateful that the waterproofing on her boots apparently held up, and Sean looked like he was having the time of his life, hopping about in the thin, drizzly rain. At least somebody was.

“You ever get jealous that Pokémon can just go in pokéballs and get carried about, but no us?” Hop said, tucking his jacket over Stomper and Wes’ pokéballs. “Bet they’re dry and cosy.”

“I’m fine wi’ no havin’ my atoms aw scrambled up like that, ta,” Mhairi said, hand hovering over Rhiannon’s pokéball anxiously. She was personally looking forward to keeping her team out as much as possible—she knew putting them in pokéballs didn’t hurt them, that they were fine, that the little bird would reappear later perfectly healthy as she always did, and normally, she really didn’t worry about it. Pokémon weren’t like humans, after all. But whenever she thought too much about how pokéballs actually worked, she got really, really nervous. “Anyways, a bit ay rain was due sooner or later anyways. We’re gaunnae haftae get used tae it, aye?”

“Yeah, but it’s still rubbish,” Hop sighed, shoving his hands back in his pockets. The rain misted up the air, making it impossible to see Midgow anymore, but Mhairi kept an eye on her compass, and from where they’d started, it was pretty much impossible to keep west and not stumble across one of the outlying suburbs sooner or later.

Sean stopped abruptly, the happy little song he’d been singing trailing off. “Sean? Awright, wee man?” Mhairi asked, crouching by him.

Sean chirped at her and pointed as a shaft of pink light shot into the sky.

“Fuckin’ ‘ell,” Hop gasped, staring up at it. “That’s a Dynamax Spot, in’t it?”

“Some bugger’s wandered intae it an’ Dynamaxed,” Mhairi agreed. She gasped, shaking Hop’s shoulder. “Hop! Let’s go have a wee peek!”

“I’m game,” Hop agreed. “It’d be right to get a shot at fightin’ in a Dynamax Spot before the first gym, wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah! I’ve never been in one!” Mhairi said excitedly, scooping up Sean and heading for their new beacon. “’Mon, we’ve still got hoors tae make it tae Midgow! Plenty ay time!”

It didn’t take them long to find it. The rain tapered off around the shaft of light, making the air curiously warm and foggy. They could just make out the smooth ring of black “stones”—really some proprietary material that helped channel surges of Dynamax Energy. They were carved with runes, although those didn’t do anything other than emulate the ancient stone circles that had been erected around Dynamax Spots in the past. People tended to feel that, if you were going to have a ring of stones channeling powerful energies, there really needed to be some runes on there, or else what was the point? “Ready?” Mhairi asked, adjusting the Dynamax Band her grandmother had given her on her wrist.

“Ready,” Hop said with a bright grin, touching the matching band. Together, they stepped forwards.

Mhairi had heard her grandmother describe the feeling of space warping in a Dynamax Spot before, but it was still beyond weird to experience herself for the first time. Her skin tingled, every extremity feeling simultaneously like it was growing and shrinking, even though she couldn’t see any difference when she looked at her hands. Sean took a deep breath, the fin on his head vibrating as he gave a warbling cry that seemed to resonate through the fog.

Then the clouds of mist parted, swirling around an Onix the length and breadth of an airplane.

“Holy fuck,” Mhairi breathed, staring up at the behemoth. The Onix roared as they glowered down at her and Hop. “I’ve got Sean, whit aboot you?”

“Stomper’s got his Double Kick, remember?” Hop said, releasing his Scorbunny. Stomper squeaked, all his fur standing on end as the energy of the Dynamax Spot poured into him.

Mhairi held out a fist. Hop bumped his fist against hers, and they did a quick rock-paper-scissors, which Mhairi won. “Awright, wee man,” Mhairi said with a victorious grin, pointing at the Onix, which had raised their tail, ready to fight. Thankfully, even while surging with Dynamax Energy, the massive rock-type seemed well aware of how squishable humans were and disinclined to attack until the Pokémon had moved away from their trainers. “Dynamax time!”

She tapped her Dynamax band to make the point, and Sean squeaked nervously, leaping forwards.

As he leapt, he grew.

Mhairi couldn’t help letting her jaw drop as the Sobble grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger. It was incredible, seeing timid wee Sean grow until he was bigger than her house, and the roar fiercely at the Onix. He ducked as the enemy swung their tail at him, but didn’t burst into frightened tears, only giving another loud battle cry.

“Water Gun, Sean!” Mhairi shouted. When he opened his mouth, the blast of water that emerged looked like a tidal wave.

The Onix was bowled back with an angry cry, but not taken out. The energy in the air fizzed as rocks materialized, then slammed into Sean, who yelled but was not knocked down.

“Naw, mate, sorry,” Hop said, shaking his head when Stomper pointed at Sean and squeaked excitedly. “Lose my trainer’s license if we did that. How ‘bout a Double Kick instead?”

Stomper grumbled in frustration, but leapt off of Hop’s arm, somehow not just bouncing off of Hop’s arm as he usually did but flying high into the air. Though he was tiny, the double kicks he landed on the Onix’s jaw sent the tremendous Pokémon crashing to the ground.

It was something about mass, Mhairi remembered her grandmother saying. Pokémon changed in size when they were surging with dynamax energy, became more resilient, healed more quickly, but they didn’t weigh any more than they did when they were regular-sized. There was something hinky about the gravity too, though Mhairi really didn’t understand it all. That was Sonia and Granny’s bag. She didn’t need to know the physics to know how to fight in a Dynamax Spot, though it did give her more of an inkling as to why following the rules concerning how to battle in them was important. The energy fields could get notoriously unstable if more than two Pokémon Dynamaxed in the same field at the same time, and the best-case scenario was the energy field fizzling out and dumping them all on their arses as normal space and gravity resumed. The worst-cases were a terrible thing to do an image search of with safe search off. If a third Pokémon Dynamaxed, some sensors in the stones ringing the spot—the knee-high black stones now appearing to ring them like gigantic dark mountains—would go off, alerting both the cops and somebody at Macro Cosmos to get down there to arrest whoever was doing something so dangerous or, potentially, scrape them into a bucket for DNA testing.

Not that they needed a second Dynamax. Stomper’s Double Kick smashed through any protective shields of pink energy that started to form around the Onix, and then Sean produced another massive wave of water out of the energy surging all around them, completely washing the Onix out.

As the weakened rock-type collapsed, they vanished. Mhairi, remembering Sonia’s advice, stepped backwards a few steps, and that was all it took for the black mountains behind her to become smooth black stones in front of her foot, all glowing faintly pink with the energy surging through and around them.

Sean bounded into her arms a moment later, back to normal size once more. “Yer pure fizzin, wee man, aren’t ye?” Mhairi laughed as the little Sobble bounced in her arms, babbling excitedly. She tapped her phone in her pocket to wake up Ricky. “I’m hopin’ he kens I’m proud ay him, but tell ‘im anyways, aye?” she asked the Rotom.

Ricky hummed brightly. Sean giggled and hugged Mhairi’s arm. “He says the energy’s somethin’ else,” Ricky reported. “Says he felt mighty!”

“He really looked it,” Hop said, stepping out of the energy with Stomper in his arms. He high-fived the little fire-type, though Stomper did a flip and tapped Hop’s hand with his foot instead of his forepaw. “Stomper’s all juiced up, too!”

“That’s Dynamax Energy for yez,” Ricky laughed. “I wis even feelin’ it in ma phone!”

“Ta fae the fight, big man!” Mhairi called, waving at the beat-up looking Onix who was slinking away. They grunted something at her before diving into the ground and digging away.

“Sair loser, that yin,” Ricky commented.

Hop razzed the hole where the Onix had vanished. “Alright, mate, let’s put you back in the ball before we head back out in that muck,” he said, holding up Stomper’s pokéball. “Next one’s ours, right?” Ricky hummed a quick translation and Stomper nodded, eyes blazing as he squeaked excitedly. Hop returned him, tucking the pokéball back into place before heading back out into the rain.

“Aight!” Mhairi declared, straightening her hood before heading back out in the damp weather. “I’m feelin’ pretty juiced up masel! Let’s get oan tae Midgow!”




{2nd An t-Ògmhios, 19:01}
{Greater Midgow Metropolitan Area}

“Are we still in the bloody suburbs?” Hop groaned as they walked within reading distance of a sign telling them how many miles they were from the city centre. “Right, I’ll be honest, I might’ve underestimated how long it’d take to get to the Pyro by juuuuust a smidge…”

“Awright, Raquelle, how’re we fae buses?” Mhairi asked, tapping her phone.

The Rotom flew out to hover in the air in front of her and Hop, arms folding into an arrow to point them to the nearest bus stop. “There’s a stop on the next street,” she said. “We’ll have to take one bus to get to the city centre and a second to get to the Pyro from there, but we’ll make it. Let’s get a move on!”

Even though Raquelle predicted the next bus being fifteen minutes away, they ran to the bus stop anyway. A buzzing anxiety had started to build the moment Mhairi laid eyes on the time in the corner of Raquelle’s screen, and even though they still had a couple of hours until the deadline… what if they didn’t? What if they messed up and got on the wrong bus, or the bus was late, or the bus crashed and they didn’t make it in time, after all that work, all that training, to miss out at the last minute—

“Hope they’re sellin’ food at the Pyro, ‘cause I’m starvin’,” Hop groaned, flopping down on the bench in the empty bus stop. “Should’ve gotten more’n sandwiches for breakfast an’ lunch, huh?”

“Aye, well, that’s us learnt, eh?” Mhairi said, tapping her fingers on her folded arms and peering down the street.

“Relax, there’s no delays,” Hop said, pointing up at the arrival display. “What’re the odds a Dynamax Spot pops up in the middle of the road in the middle of Midgow?”

“Ooft, dinnae jinx it,” Mhairi said with a wince. “I’m a bag ay nerves as it is. Shouldae gone in the mornin’ yesterday an’ telt gran over the phone…”

“Mhairi, mate, chill out, it’s gonna be fine, we’ve got time,” Hop assured her. “And after we’re registered, let’s get a nice dinner, yeah? Forget more sandwiches, let’s get some proper cooking. I hear the Fairlan places in Midgow are wicked.”

“Ay, I could do wi a big bowl ay noodles,” Mhairi agreed, trying to force herself to relax and failing. “You ever been tae the Pyro afore?”

“Sure, to see Lee in League matches and stuff,” Hop said with a shrug, “so yeah, if we gotta hop off the bus an’ run, I can get us there.” He grinned. “Relax already!”

Mhairi didn’t relax while they were waiting for the bus, didn’t relax while they were confirming that the bus would take them to the city centre, and only relaxed slightly after sitting down at a window seat so she could watch the city go by. “Feels better movin’,” she sighed, slumping back in her seat.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Hop chuckled. “Wonder if everybody else’s already signed up? What kinda numbers do you think are gonna be left?”

“I’m gaunnae get a hunnert an’ forty-three, mark my words, I’m gaunnae be cursed fae my hubris an’ get hunnert forty-three,” Mhairi groaned. “Naebody’s ever won in hunnert forty-three…”

“Is it a curse for your hubris?” Hop asked, waggling his hands, “or is it… you becomin’ a legend by bein’ the first to get to the finals in it?”

“Only the finals?” Mhairi asked, raising an eyebrow. “You cheeky bugger.”

“Well, I’m gonna win, obviously,” Hop said, looking out the window, “but, y’know, it’ll still be pretty special. Hey, check out that wicked mural!”

Mhairi was more than happy to be distracted watching out the window as they drove into the city, looking out for the colourful murals on the sides of some buildings or some of the weirder statues. She’d been to the city before, but it never failed to be a hell of a sight, the way the modern houses gave way to post-imperialist steel-and-glass structures, and then that gave way to the city’s heart of industry and ancient stone. It wasn’t dark yet, but the sun was low enough that all the street lights were starting to come on, all the lights coming on in the windows and under great sculptures and ancient buildings.

And it was so big. It took them half an hour just to get to the city centre and even then, the city just kept going, and somehow, it was filled with even more people. When they finally got off the bus, it was to have to run across a jam-packed Óengus Square to get to their other bus.

“Should’ve gone around,” Hop muttered as they edged their way around an elderly couple sampling jams at one of the stalls. “Look at all these people!”

“Should’ve come earlier so we could visit the stalls,” Mhairi said, looking covetously at a stand selling foreign, old-fashioned handmade apricorn balls. “This lot must be here fae the League, aye?”

“Probably, loads of folk come in for the opening ceremony,” Hop said, hopping around a tall guy holding up a replica of Leon’s Champion Strip for perusal. “And then there’s all them who just wanna line the streets and get a look at the challengers taking off…”

“An’ tomorrow that’s us,” Mhairi giggled, more than a little anxiously. “Oh! There it is! OI!”

The person in the door of the bus waited there, one foot in and one foot off, keeping the bus from leaving until they reached it. “Ta very much,” Mhairi panted, fistbumping the friendly stranger. “This one’s fae the Pyro, aye?”

“That it is,” the bus driver said, looking a little disgruntled at the impromptu holdup. “Leaving it a bit late, aren’t we?”

“Bloody well ken that, mate,” Mhairi sighed, finding an empty chair to collapse in and enjoy some blissful free space.

“You’re welcome,” the person who’d kept the door for them said, sitting down in the seat in front of Mhairi so they could lean back over it and give her a Look. They were a striking redhead with the kind of misty green eyes that made Mhairi feel like she’d offended an otherworldly creature by failing to properly repay a generous favour.

“Yeah, sorry—thanks for that, mate,” Hop said woolishly. “We really owe you one.”

“Well, birds of a feather, I guess,” they said in a lyrical Cymru accent. “I left this a bit late myself. Go on without me, I told ‘em, I’ll just have a little peek at the stalls, I said, won’t be long, I said…” They held up a bag of merch with a woolish look of their own. “Good thing I checked my watch or I’d’ve missed signup, wouldn’t I?”

“You’re a challenger? Brilliant!” Mhairi said, perking up and holding out a hand. “Mhairi Stuart. Pleasure tae meet ye. Thanks a million fae savin’ our sorry arses.”

“Morgan Wylie,” the redhead said, shaking her hand and then offering a hand to Hop. “Now, you, have I met you before? I feel like I’ve seen you somewhere?”

“Not me, but I think I know what you mean,” Hop laughed, shaking her hand. “Hop Kensington. Pleasure to meet you.”

Kensington, is it? Oh my stars, as in Leon Kensington?!” Morgan gasped, clapping a hand over their mouth. “Bloody hell!”

“Yeah, you got it bang on, mate,” Hop said, leaning back in his chair and glancing around, “but shush, yeah? I mean, I just know I’m gonna get stalked by a million bloody journalists once we get goin’, Lee prepped me for that, but when the League gets underway I’m gonna be just another challenger, alright?”

“That’s true and fair,” Morgan said, lowering their voice. “That’s quite a legacy, isn’t it? Your brother being the Champion and all…”

“It’s a lot to live up to,” Hop said, grin refusing to falter, “but hey, I’m up to it!”

“Good on you!” Morgan laughed. “You two know each other, do you? That’s a Highland accent on you, Mhairi, isn’t it, if you don’t mind me saying?”

“Aye, yer bang oan wi that, Morgan,” Mhairi said, glancing out the window. Was that the river she could glimpse through the buildings out there? The Pyro was on the river, wasn’t it? “Tiny wee place up north, ye’ll no hae heard ay it, I’m no gaunnae say the name ‘cause the fact that naebody’s heard ay it is the reason this lot—” She gestured at Hop. “—moved up there once the media stalkin’ started. Yersel? Cymru, aye?”

“The very one,” Morgan said, beaming. “I’m from an awfully wee village myself—goes back to the minin’, so it does. I’m takin’ the challenge with my two lovelies. It’s good, isn’t it, having folk to take the challenge with?”

“Oh, we’re no datin’,” Mhairi said quickly at the same time Hop said, “we’re not a couple.”

“Never said that you were, no need to protest!” Morgan laughed. “Do be ready, though, if you’re to be traveling together, I’m sure those journos you mentioned’ll be speculating their little hearts out!”

“Cannae deal wi’ em, cannae get famous wi’oot em, eh?” Mhairi sighed, rolling her eyes and elbowing Hop. “Ready fae aw the fans oot tae snap up a younger, cuter Leon?”

“Mhairiiiiii,” Hop groaned, leaning back in his seat. “Keep it up and I’m firin’ you as my best friend, see if I don’t, when I get rich an’ famous I can buy new best friends…”

“Aye, sure—there it is!” Mhairi yelped excitedly as they headed over a bridge. Lights were starting to flick on all along the Chluaidh, mostly from how overcast the weather was, but it meant that there was a line of twinkling lights reflected on the water around the flaring red reflection of the MCE Pyro.

The huge, round arena had a number of different insignias projected on its walls, the crests of the different gyms in the Major League, but the building itself was lit up in the blazing red of the fire-types that called Midgow their home field. Mhairi would have been excited to see any stadium on the League circuit, but there was definitely some showmanship gone into picking the Pyro as the kick-off ground this year.

“Neil?” Morgan said, picking up their phone. “Never fear, love, I’m almost there, I see it out the bus window now—I’m awful sorry, I got so swept up, you know how it is. Where’ll you be…? I know the one. See you there. Love you both.” They hung up their phone and winked at Mhairi and Hop. “Next stop!”

“Race you there?” Hop suggested as they got up and walked down to the front of the bus, waiting for the doors to open and let them out. Mhairi nodded to the bus driver, who rolled his eyes as he opened the doors.

Mhairi and Hop tore across the busy plateau in front of the arena, dodging around groups of other people taking selfies and a Ball Guy handing out some kind of promotional pokéball. Mhairi hoped he’d still have some when they got back, but there was no time to stop and listen to the guy’s whole song and dance now. They had half an hour until registration closed.

“Morgan! There you are!” she heard a guy shout, and Morgan waved, running off to join a tall, handsome man and a pretty blonde standing next to an ornamental fountain. Mhairi didn’t even have time to be jealous of Morgan. All that was going to have to wait.

The red-carpeted foyer of the Pyro was, thankfully, almost empty, leaving them a free sprint up to the desk with a sign hanging over it indicating League registration.

“We made it, di’n’t we?” Mhairi gasped, leaning on the desk and looking around nervously for a clock.

“Aye, ye huv,” the woman behind the desk laughed. “Names?”

“Mhairi Stuart,” Mhairi said, pulling her hat off so the lady could get a good look.

She looked closely at Mhairi, checked her computer screen—probably the photo Mhairi had submitted with her application—and nodded, smiling as she clicked a few keys. “Right, hen, gies a minute to get your ID sorted,” she said, looking at Hop. “And your name… sir…?” She blinked at him, eyes widening.

“Hop Kensington,” Hop said, grinning. It was an anxious grin, Mhairi knew, but it was also a lot like the way Leon was grinning in the huge banners that were hanging around the room, and she saw the desk lady’s eyes flicker to them and back.

“Right, right,” she said, clicking a few more keys. “Ah, I, uh, see your registration is endorsed by Champion Leon Kensington…?”

“My big brother,” Hop finally admitted.

The lady squealed, then pressed her hands over her mouth, going red. “Sorry, mate, just… wow,” she said, pressing a few more keys. “Right, that’ll be both your IDs—don’t lose ‘em, as well as getting yous intae the gyms, they’ll let us track yous if you go missing, an’ they’ll make yous eligible for a bunch ay discounts at hotels and restaurants and suchlike along the route, as well as being your cashcard—no using money not on the card. Mr Kensington—” She couldn’t help a little excited giggle when she looked at Hop— “Since the Champion is endorsing you, he’s funding your cashcard.” She looked less excited but very curious when she looked at Mhairi. “Miss Stuart, are you intending to stock your own cashcard, or are you applying for a grant?”

“I’m awright, my gran an’ grandad are sendin’ me cash,” Mhairi said. She was glad the League both limited spending during the season to keep rich fuckers from getting a leg-up, and offered grants to make sure nobody was being priced out, but she also felt guilty at the idea of taking a grant she didn’t need when there were others who needed it more. It was probably Macro money backing the grants, so it wasn’t like they’d run out, but it was still the principle of the thing.

“Awright, then, here…” The desk lady handed over their IDs, glossy cards with their photos on the front and a nano-thin screen on the back detailing their badges and active team members, both areas currently blank. “Pop in any Pokémon Centre the night to register any team members you’ve got the now, they’re open aw night. If you’ve got a wee bit ay cash to spare, they can do yous a new photo, if you want, but any official purposes it’ll revert tae the official photo a wee bit. Show these at the desk ay the hotel an’ they’ll gie you room keys—you’re numbers double-oh-four an’ one-eight-nine. Ummm…” She fidgeted a moment, then took a deep breath and said, “Mr Kensington, if it’s no weird tae ask, you couldnae dae us a wee autograph, could you? My mates are no gaunnae believe I wis oan the desk tae register Champion Leon’s brother! You look just like ‘im!”

Uh, thanks?” Hop said. “Sure, I’ll sign—you got paper or somethin’?” The lady pulled a notebook out of her pocket, flipped it to a blank page and handed it over, with a pen. “Alright, uh… what’s your name?”

“Rosie,” she said, looking fit to burst with excitement.

“To Rosie… thanks for registering me! Hop,” he said, glancing sidelong at Mhairi and giving her a cheeky grin, before looking back to Rosie and saying, “you sure you don’t want Mhairi’s autograph, too? You’re lookin’ at the girl who’s gonna come second place, after I kick her arse in the finals!”

“Think you got that one oan backwards,” Mhairi said, elbowing him in the side.

“Oh—yeah, sure!” Rosie said, though she didn’t seem quite as excited about the idea as she did about getting Hop’s autograph to show off to her friends. “Are you two friends, or…?”

“Best mates, yeah,” Hop said as Mhairi signed “To Rosie, just you watch this shoot up in value after I win, love Mhairi” on the page across from Hop’s signature. “This is proper exciting, in’t it?”

“It’s always a thrill when the season gets going,” Rosie said, smiling at him and accepting her book back from Mhairi. “Thanks, love. Do yous need directions to the Pokémon Centre or the hotel?”

“We’re good,” Mhairi said, sagging in relief as she looked at her ID again. “Ta very much, Rosie! ‘Mon, Hop, let’s leave space fae the other latecomers, aye?”

“Oh, yeah—hey, you made it!” Hop said, waving over Morgan and their two friends.

“’Bout time you stopped grandstanding, we’ve hardly got any time left!” Morgan said, stepping up to the desk. “See you in the field, you two!”

“See yez out there!” Mhairi said, nodding to Morgan’s partners before she and Hop wandered back out into the evening.

When the cooling air hit Mhairi, she just had to stop for a moment, staring out at the view over the river as she felt tension finally leech out of her. “We made it,” she whispered, looking at her ID again, as if it might have disappeared in the past two minutes. It was a good photo, it was her name, it was the number on the official jersey she’d be wearing tomorrow, when she was in the opening ceremony of the Alba League. Then she shrieked and spun on the spot before turning and hugging Hop. “We made it!”

“We’re in!” Hop laughed as the big skinnymalink hugged her hard enough to pull her off her feet. “Right, we probably oughta check into our hotel since it’s so late, then we can find some food, whaddya say?”

“Sounds good tae me,” Mhairi agreed as her stomach grumbled at the mention of food. She linked her arm through Hop’s as they headed back across the plaza. “But before aw that, let’s go see whit they promotional baws the Baw Guy’s giving out are. Bet ye dinner he’s no gaunnae dae the wee dance at this time ay the evening?”

“You’re on, mate, they don’t pay mortals who tire to wear those costumes…”

I got the Wild Area Eevee gift because I have Let's Go! Eevee, but it's kinda rubbish and then I found out it couldn't evolved, so it wasn't used. I also got a few other Wild Area catches that I tried out but didn't end up using much, so they've kinda been skimmed over. I just had fun exploring the Wild Area when I first encountered it :P Here's their details anyway, for anybody who's interested.

Name: Eilidh. Species: Eevee. Nature: Impish. Ability: Run Away. Location: Wild Area Station. Level: 10.
Name: Stuart. Species: Skwovet. Nature: Quiet. Ability: Cheek Pouch. Location: Rolling Fields. Level: 7.
Name: Phoebe. Species: Pancham. Nature: Rash. Ability: Iron Fist. Location: East Lake Axewell. Level: 13.
Name: Sonny. Species: Snorunt. Nature: Naughty. Ability: Ice Body. Location: West Lake Axewell. Level: 8.

Morgan Wylie belongs to Isis_The_Sphinx!

Cultural notes:
--Midgow is based on Glasgow, which was formerly a massive industrial centre, and also a trade hub (there are plaques which sure do like telling you how much of the city was built on money made from trading cotton, sugar and tobacco and NOTHING ELSE, THERE IS NOTHING ELSE ON THAT TRADE ROUTE THAT WAS EVER TRADED, NO SIREE). There are massive, multi-story murals on many buildings, usually commissioned by local artists in commemoration of a particular person, or people, or major event, or sometimes just to make an otherwise pretty ugly tower block look great.
--The stadium, the Pyro, is based in description and location on the SSE Hydro, because it amuses me
--Hop comments on sunrise and sunset because we're pretty far north. We're not as far north as Scandinavian countries who have to deal with weeks and weeks of darkness in winter and constant sunlight in summer, but up in the highlands, where I put Mhairi and Hop, there would be a few days around the summer equinox where the sun doesn't really set and a few days in the heart of winter where there's no light at all. Hop originally being from Wyndon/London, things aren't as extreme down there.
--Morgan's from Cymru, which is Welsh for Wales. I have no idea if I'm conveying her accent well but it did give me an excuse to re-watch Pride and watch some Welsh accents on youtube. They're so lovely <3

Team Mhairi:
c61c75975095_Mhairi%20Stuart.jpg
--Mhairi Stuart
1WBtYuK.png
--Sean Bodan
4TH3MmK.png
--Rhiannon Cally


Team Hop:
QLK2CqZ.png
--Hop Kensington
lzRLzGM.png
--Wes Invercoll
QteiqUy.png
--Stomper Turffield
 
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Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
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617
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Pokédex Entry
he's ok i guess
There was nothing to lose from supporting your fellow challengers, after all, not if you were confident in your own training and your own Pokémon when it came to the tournament.
What stuck out to me in catching up was this whole section, and how that kinda carried into the rest of the most recent chapter. Part of it is the obvious in the worldbuilding. There's a few different directions to take League challenges when it comes to competitiveness, to how cutthroat it is and how the culling process goes for challengers, and I appreciate that you went this far more optimistic route of camaraderie and friendship and support for each other. It definitely matches and enhances the tone of the early goings! I do like that caveat though: in the end, you still gotta be confident enough in yourself to tower above all of them in the end, even if everyone makes it to the end.

Then again...
The risk and intensity made people either their best selves or their worst, and Mhairi was hopeful to meet more of the former than the latter.
You could def be setting up for some proper dickheads in the pipeline to try and derail sunny lil Mhairi and Hop's challenge! Which is obviously pretty 👀 as well! Def eager to see how it all pans out, and how the mood might shift as obstacles befall them, as less-than-savory people get in their way, as an apocalypse may or may not be attempted, etc.

In conclusion:
“Anyways, we got Pokémon an’ I got mace.”
Words to live by, truly.
 

Aurea

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Ah, I finally had a chance to catch up on this over holiday break! And man, what a treat it's been. Mhairi is such a great protag, I love how energetic and witty but kind she is. Hop is one of my favorite characters from this gen, and it's no exception here -- I especially loved the flashback of when he and Mhairi first met! They're adorable, their friendship is adorable, I love them both a lot and I am SO excited to follow them on their journey. I really love the camaraderie theme between not just them, but the challengers too -- seeing Leon and Sonia's friendship after all this time, as well as hearing that the latter keeps up with old traveling buddies just warms my heart. The worldbuilding is spot-on, it feels lived in and warm and inviting (mysterious too though, with the Weald and the powerspots). I also live for the small town vibes as everyone was seeing off Hop and Mhairi. ;w; Oh! And I love what you've done with the Rotom phones! It makes a lot of sense, and is really fun to read/think about in the context of how it'll aid them on their journeys.

That was a lot to cram into a pretty short comment, hopefully it was intelligible lol, but basically I am loving this! And I am so excited to finally be caught up and officially along for the ride. ^^
 

redninjapuffle

Probably playing DragonBall FighterZ
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Redninjapuffles are known to want to create their own nuzlocke stories or comics, however, many have yet to start one.
Finally caught up and man I am loving this run
I don't understand Scottish but that makes it better and funnier
 

Aeon

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I happened to stumble upon this thread and yoooo I like the idea here. I'm a descendant of the Clearances whose family was packed off to Canada, so I barely have any connections to my Scottish ancestry left. So seeing this is really cool!

Also yea our relationship to colonialism is definitely messed up when it comes to those sent to Canada/USA. My family was one of those people who drove indigenous people off their lands and tried to wipe out their culture, with the sick irony of my family having been forcibly packed off our homeland. And today indigenous people still suffer under colonialism perpetrated by people like my family.
 
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wedward45

The thinking chaotic neutral
Pokédex No.
537
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473
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Hates conflict and negativity. Snarks too much for its own good.
Ooooh... this is nice. I've been hoping for another Scots run from you ever since the Dr Wholocke that never really got finished.

I assume Bede is going to be a snooty Galarian aristocrat boy, right? Every Eton stereotype rolled into one punchable face?

even though they still had a couple of hours until the deadline… what if they didn’t? What if they messed up and got on the wrong bus, or the bus was late, or the bus crashed and they didn’t make it in time, after all that work, all that training, to miss out at the last minute—

Ahhhh you're giving me nightmares and Nam flashbacks just by saying that!

People tended to feel that, if you were going to have a ring of stones channeling powerful energies, there really needed to be some runes on there, or else what was the point?

I see the Pterry still runs strong in you. Speaking of which:

“Truth! Freedom! Justice! And a hard-boiled egg!”
 
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glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
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751
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Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
You had me at Scottish.

Forever kicking myself for not properly checking out your writing sooner, because I love this. Really appreciate how you don't shy away from Scots in your prose, and I love how no one speaks the same level of thickness in their accent, regardless of their location of origin. Everyone sounds very distinct, and I can hear them. Mhairi is absolutely delightful, especially the conspiracy theorist angle. That's such a unique trait you don't see for a lot of MCs? Seems like the sort of thing normally resigned for a side character. The balls on her for asking Leon if he's Zacian, good lord. XD I love her. Really wondering how much of her theories will come into play later on. Oh! And the folklore you incorporate??? Yes, please. Especially this Queen of Stones/Stanes. Very interesting, very Celtic. 👀

Cool take you have there on power spots. They seem pretty unruly if one can just crop up wherever the hell. Automatically squinting at the mention of Macro Cosmos and how quick they are to jump on them. I know what they're doing is a safety procedure and all, but I gotta... I just gotta squint, y'know?

Also, I really love Hop and Mhairi's friendship! That scene of how they met was adorable, and their banter is precious. Excited kids, but they gotta rag on each other for sport. What a pair. (Oh, Mhairi honey, it's okay if you still have a crush. 😔)

So yeah, really love this. The worldbuilding is slick and organic (god, the Rotom phones?? and how they're like AI subscriptions??? that's so clever), and your characters are ace af. Y'all got a new fan.
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
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Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
First up, THANK YOU to everybody who voted in the Ganza! Very honoured by the bronzes Mhairi and Hop brought home for Best Protagonist and Best Supporting Character! 🥉🥉
...But it is very funny to me that they both got Bronze, meaning neither of them ranked higher than the other, meaning these competitive little bastards are locked in a tie and there is NOTHING they can do about it XD

Alright, replies and the chapter! It's also up on AO3! Oh, and in celebration of 25 years of Pokemon, I've been nuzlocking the first Pokemon game I ever played, Yellow, screenshotting it and babbling about my memories of late-90s pokemania. Check out Via Memory Lane if you think that sounds fun!

@Garish Garchomp I wanted this League to be fuuuuun, like an adventure, you know? God I miss going outside and just going places whenever. I’ve done a few outdoor competitive events in the past, including a couple of zombie courses, and more often than not folk banded together to get past difficult parts of the course even when racing, so I feel like that vibe would often be present… but of course there’ll be competitive dickheads too XD (Look you made me feel for Bede but he’s getting no mercy here, be warned). Apocalypse? Me? Nooooooooooooooooooooooo, I would NEVER… (:

@Aurea Ahhhh! I’m so glad you’re enjoying this, the goal is to make it, by and large, pretty upbeat and warm and it’s good to hear I’m landing that :D So much worldbuilding and so many personal Scottish vibes have gone into it and I hope you continue to enjoy it <3

@redninjapuffle Scots and English are mutually intelligible languages, with a little effort and attention! And if I can put in the effort to understand whatever the fuck’s coming out of Boris Johnson’s mouth, I figure anyone can understand Scots :P

@Aeon Wanting to learn about your roots is fun, and there are a lot of places in Scotland that can help you trace clan roots if you have any immigration records to work from! Also, the important thing about acknowledging your inheritance from colonialism isn’t to bury yourself in guilt and self-hatred—it’s simply to acknowledge that it happened, and work to be better and support those in need here and now. Anyway, glad you’re enjoying the fic!

@wedward45 Sadly, the save files for my wholocke have been lost forever DX But it was fun to write and it stuck in my head that people really didn’t mind me slipping into Scots for more emotion/expression <3 You’ll see about Bede in time, but rest assured he is an absolute ponce :P
“A flash of inspiration struck him with all the force and brilliance that ideas have when they’re traveling through beer.”

@glancesherlock Hey welcome and also aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah glad you’re loving it! I am so loving getting to use so much Scots and Scottish culture in this and the positive reception is honestly making me cry 😭 Y’all are too good to me and this fic <3 The Queen of Stanes isn’t based on any particular folkloric figure, but more a style of semi-ironic folklore, self-consciously made up but at the same time, aware that everything comes from somewhere…
Macro Cosmos are just here to help, power spots are dangerous you know, good thing your friendly neighbourhood megacorp is here to deal with it :D
Honestly having just spent half a week catching up on Looking Backwards and then a day binge-reading Brick by Boring Brick, hearing you like my characterization and worldbuilding has me screaming, thank yooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 😭

{2nd An t-Ògmhios, 21:11}
{Midgow}

“Last minute signups, eh?”

“Aye, very good, havenae heard that yin yet the day,” Mhairi sighed, handing her shiny new League ID over to the receptionist at the Budew Drop Inn. Referring to the huge, glitzy building as an “inn” seemed a bit of an understatement, like referring to Ben Coly as “a wee hill”. The wide, shiny lobby, even at this hour, was hoaching with both trainers and League fans, as many going out as in. There were plenty of folk sitting or standing in groups, chatting with friends or squaring off against rivals, and mostly giving a wide berth to a big, noisy punk-looking group who were trying to sing a rowdy victory song to the big gold statue of King David standing between the staircases. Trying being the operative word, since none of the group seemed to be hitting the same key, tune or even words in some places, but they were making up for it in volume and sheer enthusiasm.

Mhairi caught Hop’s eye as he handed over his ID and mouthed counting down from five as the clerk looked it over. She got to “two” before the clerk’s eyes widened and he looked up at Hop, who gave him a slightly tired grin in response.

“Mr Kensington… Miss Stuart,” the clerk said, swiping their IDs through a card reader and handing them back. “You are in rooms three-fifty and three-fifty-one. Your League IDs are also your room keys, so do not lose them. Your uniforms and welcome packets are in your rooms, and you have vouchers for free room service.”

“Cheers, mate,” Hop said, taking his ID back, “but we’re actually hoping to go out and get some munch, you got any recommendations?”

“Oh, of course—”

“Pssst! Yous goin’ out?”

Mhairi looked around as the receptionist started in on a spiel to Hop, using a map of Midgow set into his counter to point out good restaurants and offering to help him get reservations. A girl was hiding at the end of the counter, crouching on the floor, made harder to see by her messy black hair and black jacket. “Aye?” Mhairi asked.

“Dinnae stare!” the girl hissed. “Help me get outae here wi’out bein’ seen by they noisy fuckers an’ I’ll show yous the best pub I know an’ buy the first round, howzaboutit?”

Mhairi, carefully not staring, said, “we’re lookin’ tae get us some food afore drinkin’…”

“I’ll buy that too, just get me outae here!” the girl hissed. “I’ll hide behind that lanky bastart you’re wi’, just act natural, awright?”

Mhairi nudged Hop with her elbow. “I think I got us somethin’,” she said, linking arms with him and tugging him away. “Ta fae the recs, though!” she added, smiling at the receptionist.

“Yeah, thanks a bunch, mate!” Hop said, smiling and waving at the put-out-looking receptionist before giving Mhairi a quizzical look as he let her tow him away. “What—”

“Act natural, dinnae look at her,” Mhairi said, carefully not changing expression as the girl got up from her hiding place and started walking very closely next to Hop, where he blocked her from the sight of the singing punks. He was only just tall enough to hide her thanks to the girl’s big, chunky boots. She looked pretty punk in general, between the boots, her black nail polish, her black jacket covered in patches from punk bands, her pink dress ripped and safety-pinned, and a trans power necklace hanging off a black collar around her neck. “She’s offered tae buy our food if we get her outae here.”

“Drinks too,” the girl reminded her as they made their careful way out of the lobby, drifting around to walk in front of them once they were past the singing punks so she’d stay out of their sightline. “’Mon, we’re aw eighteen or over, let’s have a pint, aye? It can be a mocky pint if you like, I just wantae hit the pub wi’ anybody else…”

“Fuck, yer right, we’re aw eighteen,” Mhairi said giddily. She’d been out for her first pint in the local on her birthday, but getting a pint in the city with a new friend was very different from getting a pint in the same sticky old pub that everybody’s parents drank in. It sounded like a great way to start the League Challenge. “I’m Mhairi, by the way, the lanky bastart’s Hop. Yersel?”

“Marnie,” the girl said, stepping out of Hop’s way as they got outside and waving a little salute to them. “Ta fae the help. I had tae get away frae that lot, just for wan evenin’, aye?”

“Fair enough, mate,” Hop laughed. “Alright, where are we goin’?”

Where they were going turned out to be a pub called The Brass Grookey. It was busy, but they found a table in the back corner and squeezed in, using the touchscreen set into the wall to order food and drinks. “How’s it sticky?” Mhairi said, making a face as she tapped the haggis-and-chips.

“Dinnae ask,” Marnie snorted, raising her card to pay. “So, you folks got ‘mons yet, or are yous headin’ intae the Dithy soon as tae meet somethin’?”

“I’ve got Sean an’ Rhi, a Sobble an’ a Rookidee,” Mhairi said, tapping at the pokéballs in her pocket but not releasing them in the cramped, noisy pub. “Lookin’ forward tae havin’ a Corviknight!” Marnie whistled and nodded. There was what looked like part of a Corviknight tattoo visible through a rip on the shoulder of her dress. Mhairi couldn’t stop staring at it, though she was trying very hard not to.

“I’ve got Wes the Wooloo an’ Stomper the Scorbunny,” Hop said, his hands also going to the pokéballs on his belt. “You?”

“I’m just startin’ out wi’ Muz masel’,” Marnie said, releasing a small Morpeko onto the table. The wee guy was black and purple with a grumpy expression, stomping her feet and yelling as soon as she appeared. “Awright, take a break, wee yin, food’ll be here in a minute! I’m mostly intae dark types,” Marnie explained, scratching Muz on the back of her neck. The hangry little Pokémon settled down a little, still grumbling unhappily. “Yous after any particular types?”

“Not really,” Hop said with a shrug. “Might figure out some types I like doin’ this, right? Mhairi’s got a fav she’s after, though,” he added, elbowing Mhairi with a grin.

“If I dinnae get me a Ponyta, my life’s a bloody waste,” Mhairi declared firmly. The gym order hadn’t been revealed yet, but she knew Glakirk had made it to the Major League, and that meant she had a chance to encounter what was, in her opinion, one of the rarest and most beautiful Pokémon in Alba. In her opinion, it was their national Pokemon for a bloody good reason, and it would be the perfect ‘mon for her to become Champion with…

“Oh, aye, your majesty,” Marnie said with a sharp grin that made Mhairi increasingly aware that she was possibly in trouble. She’d been hoping to make some new pals on the League Challenge, but she had not expected to run into somebody quite so fanciable before the bloody thing had even started. “They’re in the Shidor, aye? I might go lookin’ wi’ you. My dream catch is a solid wee Impidimp, train it up tae a Gimmsnarl masel…”

They talked catches they were hoping for until their chips and drinks arrived, teleported onto the table by an Elgyem waiter, who popped in and out so quickly that it made them all jump. When Muz tucked into her portion, her purple colour slowly faded, turning yellow, and the red glow in her eyes died. By the time she was done, she was all smiles, and Mhairi couldn’t help squeeing a little over how goddamn cute she was. “I’m gaunnae die afore we even reach the first gym,” she groaned, scratching the little Pokémon under the chin.

“Oi! I’ve gotta beat you live on television in front of my mum, your mums, and the whole country in the finals,” Hop said, shoving her shoulder. “No dying before then!”

“Bloody confident, you two,” Marnie noted. “Very bloody confident fae folk I’m gaunnae boot out in the first round!”

“Oh, it’s oan,” Mhairi said with a challenging grin, poking Muz on the nose. In a good mood from being full of food, she just licked Mhairi’s finger. “You travellin’ wi’ anyin, Marnie?”

“Ugh… yous saw them singin’ tae Big D, aye?” Marnie sighed, rubbing her temples. “They’re no’ even takin’ the fuckin’ challenge, but I think they’re plannin’ tae sneak ontae the course anyways an’… ach, I sound ungrateful, they’re my mates an’ aw an’ they just wantae support me, but…”

“They look like they’re a bit much,” Hop said diplomatically.

“Howzabout comin’ wi’ us, then?” Mhairi suggested. “’Less ye wantae go it alone…?”

“Aye, no, that sounds class!” Marnie said quickly, grinning. “Yous seem awright! No too confident about my campin’, anyways, so it’d be pure magic tae have some mates tae travel wi’!”

“Nae fear, we’ve got ye,” Mhairi promised, then jumped in her seat as the Elgyem reappeared over the table, whisking away their empty plates. “Son ay a—bloody hate it when they dae that!”

Marnie burst out laughing. “Welcome tae the big city,” she said, raising her pint. “There’s no bloody space here. Guess that Highland accent’s no just for show, eh?”

“Fuck aff,” Mhairi said with an exasperated giggling, raising her pint too. “Sláinte Mhath!”

“Aye, Sláinte yersel,” Marnie said, tapping her drink against Mhairi’s.

“Cheers, you two,” Hop said, adding his pint to the toast. “May the best Hop win!”




{3rd An t-Ògmhios, 00:11}
{Budew Drop Inn, Midgow}

Mhairi had a pleasant buzz on by the time she, Hop and Marnie got back to the hotel. The punk crowd had evidently either gone out looking for Marnie or gone back to their rooms, allowing the three of them to make their slightly dizzy way up to their own rooms in peace. Mhairi gave both Hop and Marnie a tipsy hug before going into her room, then just leaned back against the door for the moment, taking in how ringingly quiet the room was compared to the noisy pub and the busy city.

It didn’t feel real. Was she really here, in Midgow? Was it really the opening ceremony tomorrow? Did she really have Pokémon?

She released Sean and Rhiannon from their pokéballs, then slid down the door to sit on the floor and watch the two little Pokémon as they stretched out and started exploring the plush hotel room. She could feel a dopey grin practically stretching to her ears as she watched them chatter. Her Pokémon. They were hers. She was their trainer. She was going to help them get big and strong, and they were all going to be champions, and they were going to go camping with Hop and Marnie, and it was going to be great.

Rhiannon fluttered over to perch on Mhairi’s knee, the little bird’s claws the tiniest of pinpricks through her jeans, twittering something. “Ah’m fiiiine, wee Rrrrhi,” Mhairi said, moving her hand very carefully to pet her very tiny wee Pokémon. “Jussss a wee touch buzzin’. Be’er ea’ some’in, eh?”

Rhiannon fluttered off, conferring with Sean, and Mhairi used the wall to push herself upright, wavering a little once she was on her feet. Oooft… aye, maybe had a couple too many. Where’s the munch?

After a couple minutes of searching, she found the room service menu set into a dining table by the window. The table was clearly wired into the ground, meaning it was connected to a major power source somewhere, and when she selected a plate of toast, the table lit up as it generated the food right then and there. “Very swish,” she said, clapping for the table. Sean imitated her, then hopped up onto her lap so he could see. “Oi, ‘s mine,” Mhairi said, taking a bite of the toast to make a point. It was crunchy and warm and the butter had soaked in perfectly. She could practically feel it clearing her head. “I’ll get yez somethin’, though, just a mo…”

She tapped through the options until she found a seed platter for Rhiannon and some faux-bugs for Sean, as well as a cup of decaf tea for herself. The Pokémon fell onto the food in delight once it was generated, leaving Mhairi to munch her toast and sip her tea in peace, feeling her head settle a little as she did, but also feel a little bad about not insisting on dinner the night before. Raquelle had said they weren’t hungry, and they probably really were fine thanks to all the Dynamax Energy in the area, but still, food was about more than just necessity. It wasn’t just Munchlax who liked to eat—Pokémon probably liked tucking into a nice meal at the end of the day as much as humans. She made a mental note that she’d have to talk to them with Ricky in the morning, make more detailed plans for what they wanted to eat and how often, what kind of rationing they could do if her budget started to wear thin…

Wait… dinnae haftae wait tae mornin’, she remembered, getting up and starting to wander around the room while eating her last piece of toast. The boy oan the desk said somethin’ about vouchers, did he no…?

When she pulled open the chest of drawers, she found the voucher book mentioned in the top drawer, right next to a folded bundle of clothing that nearly made her choke on her toast in excitement. She coughed it out, shoveled the last of the toast down her throat, then licked her fingers very thoroughly, because she did not want to risk getting butter and crumbs on her very own League strip.

Once she’d dried her fingers on her jeans and satisfied herself that they were clean enough, she reverently lifted the bundle out of the drawer. She couldn’t resist lifting it to her nose, smelling that new-clothes smell and giggling in excitement. “Sean! Rhi! Yez ken whit this is?” she squealed, turning and spreading the clothes out over her bed. Shirt, shorts, socks, even shoes and gloves! They were all in plain black and white with the League’s logo on the front and on the back, her number. Zero-zero-four. She traced her fingers over the numerals again and again, doing a wee jig on the spot in excitement. “It’s ma League strip! I’m gaunnae wear this when we’re daein’ gym battles! I’m gaunnae be wearin’ this when we become the champions!”

Sean and Rhiannon hopped up onto the bed, peering curiously at the clothes. Mhairi grabbed the shirt, running around until she found the mirror in the bathroom, pure electric excitement thrilling through her as she held it up to her chest and got a look.

This was real. This was happening. She’d be wearing this strip in the League commencement ceremony tomorrow.

She really wanted to put it on, but it was late and she smelled of pub, so she tore herself away and went back through to very carefully fold her new uniform back up and put it on top of her chest of drawers. Rhiannon had nestled down into the pillow at the top of the big, plushy bed, but Sean was still wandering around, looking a little put out. “Whit’s wrang, wee man?” Mhairi asked, picking him up and immediately feeling the problem. “Aww, I see, yer dryin’ oot indoors. Let’s get ye comfy.” She went back into the bathroom, closing the bathtub drain and running the tap to fill it, fidgeting with the hot and cold until it seemed comfortably cool, vaguely remembering something her gran had said about Sobble getting sick in warm water but risking falling into a coma in frozen. Sean jumped into before she’d even finished, bubbling happily as he stuck his head under the running tap, then curling up with his head under the water. “There we go. G’night, Sean.”

Not wanting to move Rhiannon, Mhairi simply flopped crosswise across the bed, which was so soft she nearly dropped off where she was. The only thing stopping her was something digging into her ribs. She rolled over and saw that she’d flopped on top of the voucher book, having completely forgotten about it in the sheer euphoria of having her very own League strip. It had a bunch of interesting stuff in it—discounts on certain Pokémon supplies, discounted food at a bunch of restaurants along the League route, tickets for a few sightseeing locales in case she felt like she had the time for that—until she found the one she was looking for; 75% off of an upgrade to a three-shift Rotom or Porygon plan for the duration of the League season. She dug her phone out of her pocket, scanned in the code on the voucher, and grinned as, a few moments later, the eyes on top of the device lit up.

“Awright, Mhairi?” Ricky said, grinning at her. “Ready fae this?”

“Absolutely,” Mhairi said, grinning back. “Huv ye switched tae the mornin’ shift, or are ye stayin’ fae mornin’ an’ day shifts?”

“Actually, yer stuck wi’ me twenty-four-seven fae the rest ay the season!” Ricky chirped excitedly. “Raquelle’s takin’ a wee break, takin’ a wee trip tae the homeland tae meet Raiden the Original an aw that—”

“Hang up, yer workin’ fae the whole League season?” Mhairi said, sitting up. “No that I’m no excited tae travel wi’ ye, Ricky, but will ye no need breaks or days off or somethin’…?”

“Mhairi, we dinnae need tae eat, sleep, or anythin’,” Ricky assured her. “We go oan the shifts as a matter ay principle, boundaries an’ aw that, but I absolutely can be oan aw the time, and I want tae. Yer gaun oan the Alba League! I want tae dae that wi’ you!” He frowned. “Yer… fine wi that, right?”

“I’m fuckin’ jazzed, Ricky,” Mhairi assured him, giving the phone a hug, “jus’ dinnae wantae overwork ye or anythin’. It’s gaunnae be intense, ken?”

“An’ I’m excited fae a wee adventure,” Ricky said, grin back. “Ooooft, check the time! Get tae sleep, Mhairi. I’ll find yer League card and get yez signed intae the League site an’ aw that. Need a wakeup call?”

“Aye, ninesh would be smashin’, the ceremony isnae ‘til the afternoon,” Mhairi said, kicking off her shoes and setting her glasses on the bedside table. “Cannae wait tae dae the League thegither!”

Ricky said something excited-sounding in reply, but he also switched off the room lights for her as he did it, so Mhairi was sacked out in moments.



{3rd An t-Ògmhios, 09:25}
{Budew Drop Inn, Midgow}

“Call fae Hop!” Ricky chirped. Mhairi, who had only managed to drag herself upright long enough to get a good strong cup of very caffeinated tea from the room service, sat up again, making a face as she ran her hand through her horrendous bedhead. “Voice only,” she ordered.

Mornin’, Mhairi!” Hop called, sounding somewhat more awake and very excited. “Today’s the day!”

“Aye it is,” Mhairi said, excitement waking her up a little more. She looked up at her strip, lying on top of her chest of drawers, and giggled in delight. “Got yer strip?”

Yeah! I wanna put it on right now, but the opening’s not ‘til the afternoon, y’know?” Hop groaned. “I kinda wanna go explore Midgow a bit, I dunno if it’ll be weird to walk around in my strip…”

“Aye, yer no wrang,” Mhairi sighed. “I’ve got tae go register ma bike, too. Ricky got me aw signed up oan the League site, howzabout you?”

Been puttin’ it off,” Hop admitted. “All the profiles go public after the opening ceremony, so I know I gotta do it before then, but…

“Aye.” Mhairi ran her hand through her hair again, remembering the excited looks on the Pyro clerk, the Inn receptionist, Morgan… “There’s nae gettin’ around folk recognizin’ ye, Hop. Dinnae fash, I’ll be about tae nail yer feet tae the ground!”

Hop laughed. “Yeah… yeah,” he said, taking deep breaths. “Right, I’ll do that, get a shower and stuff… meet you down at the lobby to go find breakfast, yeah?”

Shower sounds good,” Mhairi agreed. “I’ll see yez doon there in hauf an hour? Oh, I’ll see if I cannae find that Marnie, see if she wants tae join us, she was awright!”

Good shout,” Hop agreed. “See you down there!

Mhairi hung up and dug into her bag for clean clothes before heading to the bathroom. Rhi was still asleep, nestled on her pillow, but Sean was awake and humming a happy little song as he played around in the tub. “Mornin’, wee man,” Mhairi said, giving him a little scritch under his chin. “Gaunnae haftae ask ye tae scoot, I’m afraid. A lady needs her privacy, ken?”

Sean probably didn’t ken, but when Ricky hummed out what was presumably a translated request, he happily hopped out of the tub, shook off a little excess moisture onto the bath mat, and bounced off into the main hotel room.

“Ricky, can ye look through the profiles ay other challengers afore they go public?” Mhairi asked, finding somewhere to pile her clean clothes and checking out the shampoos on offer while draining the tub.

“Aye, yer signed up, got aw access tae the private forums an’ chats an’ suchlike,” Ricky affirmed. “Lookin’ fae someyin?”

“Marnie… didnae get her family name,” Mhairi admitted. “Could ye have a wee peek while I’m in the shoor?”

“Sure thing,” Ricky assured her. She nodded, closing the door and getting to business.

Fifteen minutes later, she was showered, dressed in clean shorts and a t-shirt, and feeling much more like a living person. “Any joy, Ricky?” she asked, pulling on her jacket and sitting down to untie her shoes so she could put them on properly. Rhi and Sean were both awake now, having pulled open the curtains to look at the view and chatter about it.

“Aye, only found the wan Marnie,” Ricky said, floating over and showing a profile picture that matched the girl she remembered meeting the previous night. “Marnie Allen. She the wan?”

“Aye,” Mhairi said, turning the name over in her head. Allen wasn’t an uncommon name, but in connection with the Pokémon League it was twigging something in her brain. “She put anythin’ up oan her public profile?”

“Naw much, just that she’s fae Rathgan—”

“THAT’S it!” Mhairi yelped, slapping her leg. “Rathgan! Piers Allen!”

“Piers Allen, the Leader ay Rathgan—ahhhhhhhhh,” Ricky buzzed thoughtfully. “Aye, there we go, there’s a wee seal doon the bottom, she’s been sponsored by Piers Allen. Must be family or somethin’, aye?”

Mhairi bit her lip, abruptly feeling guilty about poking around Marnie’s profile. No wonder Marnie hadn’t given her surname before, or asked for theirs; she probably didn’t want people approaching her because of her famous relative any more than Hop did, and it felt a little wrong to have figured that out without being told by Marnie herself. “Here, Ricky, has she posted a number tae call her?”

“Naw, but there’s a wee private chat option oan the site,” Ricky said. “Want tae message her?”

“Aye, sure… ask her if she wants tae join me an’ Hop fae breakfast,” Mhairi offered. “Then… actually, up tae Sean an’ Rhi, I can pop ‘em in their pokéballs awhile, or leave ‘em here, or they can come out wi’ me. Ask ‘em, will ye?”

Ricky floated over to chat to the other two Pokémon while Mhairi brushed her hair out in the mirror. Nae wonder she likes dark-types, Mhairi mused, bits and pieces of their chatter the night before drifting back to her. Wonder how she feels about Dynamaxin’? Now I’m wishin’ I listened tae more ay The Proles, I’m no really intae that style ae music but got tae admit, anytime wan ay their tunes comes up, it’s jammin’…

“They wantae come out an’ see the city wi’ yez,” Ricky reported. “Never been tae a big human city, so they’re pretty curious, ken? Oh, Marnie’s messaged ye back!”

“Tell me!” Mhairi said excitedly, reaching a hand out to her Pokemon. Rhiannon and Sean took the signal, the little bird alighting on one shoulder and the sticky-fingered little water-type climbing up onto her other.

“She says… I’m in Room three-oh-nine. Yous might want tae come join me fae breakfast here instead ay gaun out. Well, that’s a wee bit ominous, is it no?” Ricky observed.

“A wee touch,” Mhairi said with a worried frown, checking she had her keycard before opening her door. “Call Ho—never mind. Mornin’, Hop!”

“Bloody hell, they let anybody in here, don’t they?” Hop joked, halfway out of his own door. “You find Marnie?”

“Invited us tae hang at her room, said somethin’ ominous aboot gaun ootside,” Mhairi said with raised eyebrows and a shrug.

“Dunno, didn’t look like the weather’s too bad today,” Hop said, glancing at the door of his room. “But now I’ve gotta know what that’s all about. C’mon!”

He started out down the corridor, but Mhairi grabbed his arm to yank him back. “At least ask the room number first, ya nonce,” she pointed out. “Room 309… which, fae the looks of it, is this way.”

Hop groaned, dropping his head into his hands as he followed her. “Please don’t tell anybody I nearly did a Lee there…”

“Ricky, tae the ‘Clubbie High Shaggers’ groupchat, tell ‘em—”

“NO!”

  • All pubs are slightly sticky. Even when freshly cleaned. There’s no accounting for it. They just are.
  • For the Americans in the audience, the drinking age in the UK is 18, though it’s not uncommon for folk to start drinking younger in social contexts. There are a lot of major issues with the drinking culture in Scotland and how it intersects with mental health and poverty and I don’t even wanna begin to get into it. Nonalcoholic drinks are getting more common, though. I honestly think pubs and going out for drinks are such keystones of our social culture that they aren’t going anywhere and I don’t think they should, I just think we need to shift our drinking culture to be safer, more responsible, and more accepting of people drinking mocktails or other non-alcoholic drinks while out with their mates. Hence Marnie offering a “mocky pint” (non-alcoholic beer) as an option, Mhairi and Hop insisting on getting food and all of them eating their food before drinking, Mhairi finishing up when buzzed instead of blacked out, and eating something more before sleeping.
  • The toast Mhairi makes before drinking, Sláinte Mhath, is a traditional gaelic toast that means “good health”. It’s pronounced “slanj a-VAR”, and it’s not uncommon to hear it these days, especially at formal things like weddings or a fancy dinner.
  • I’m a vegetarian, but will still defend haggis. It comes of poor people using all the bits of the animal that rich folk don’t want to give themselves a hearty meal (and lungy, and stomachy… I’ll stop) and, while vegetarian haggis can be a bit rubbish, all the non-veggies I know think regular haggis is delicious. I am also still mad that Game Freak didn’t even give us a haggis Pokemon. Everybody I know has designed one at least once! Let us hunt the wild haggis at last!
  • Piers and Marnie’s surname is after Deek Allen, frontman of gaelic anarcho-punk band Oi Polloi (which more or less means “the people” in Greek, hence Piers fronting a band called The Proles). Like Mhairi, I haven’t really listened to a lot of their stuff because it’s not really my style of music, but some of the tunes I’ve come across on the radio or such did, indeed, slap

Team Mhairi:
c61c75975095_Mhairi%20Stuart.jpg
--Mhairi Stuart
1WBtYuK.png
--Sean Bodan
4TH3MmK.png
--Rhiannon Cally


Team Hop:
QLK2CqZ.png
--Hop Kensington
lzRLzGM.png
--Wes Invercoll
QteiqUy.png
--Stomper Turffield
 
Last edited:

wedward45

The thinking chaotic neutral
Pokédex No.
537
Caught
Jul 18, 2019
Messages
473
Location
The Realm of Discord
Nature
Impish
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Hates conflict and negativity. Snarks too much for its own good.
Best Girl has entered the building! I repeat, Best Girl has entered the building!

“So much universe, and so little time.”
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,929
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #20
Whaddya know, I'm starting the damn League at last! This chapter is also up on AO3!

@wedward45 Marnie is heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!
"Lu-Tze had long considered that everything happens for a reason, except possibly football."

{3rd An t-Ògmhios, 09:40}
{Budew Drop Inn, Midgow}


“Bloody hell, mate,” Hop groaned, scrolling down Chatter, where it looked like everybody in Alba was sharing and discussing the same handful of photos somebody got of him walking into the Budew Drop Inn the previous night, arm in tipsy arm with Marnie and Mhairi. “I knew there was gonna be a loada this nonsense during the League, but it ain’t even started yet!”

Mhairi tugged his phone out of his hands and put a plate of waffles from Marnie’s table in its place. “Didn’t yer brer tell yez anythin about ignorin’ this lot?”

“Actually, he’s got this League publicist whose job’s to keep ‘im updated on the news and social media and stuff,” Hop said, still frowning at the phone even as Mhairi shoved it into his bag. “He told me not to pay attention to any of it, though. But he didn’t say what I should do if they started raggin’ on you…” He looked guiltily from Mhairi to Marnie. It wasn’t just Chatter that was lightning up with rumours of Leon Kensington’s brother taking on the League; the gossip outlets had picked up on the story too, and several of them were running “articles” that were all prurient speculation at best. Depending on the outlet’s pre-existing opinion on Leon, either Hop was a new spotlight-hog using his brother’s fame to score tail, or probably a sweet and earnest person who those deceitful bitches were only using to get a shot at Leon or League fame. For people who hadn’t even gotten a clear shot of Mhairi’s face, they sure seemed to have a lot of opinions about her.

Well, she had a lot of opinions about them, too. Most of them unprintable. She was resolutely set on ignoring them, but it looked like she was gonna have her work cut out for her keeping Hop’s mind off them, too.

“Acht, ignore they gossipy cunts,” Marnie said dismissively. “They’re gaunnae talk shite no matter what. Best no tae let ‘em fuss you. Yous should see the things they write about—” She cut off with a hesitant expression, which she tried to hide by taking a drink of her coffee.

“I owe yez a wee apology, Marnie,” Mhairi admitted, setting down the remains of her own waffles. “When I wis lookin tae invite ye tae hang wi us the day, I had a wee peek at yer trainer profile and, uh… well, yer no related tae Piers Allen, are ye? Sorry I looked, didnae mean tae catch that when ye werenae—”

“It’s fine,” Marnie said quickly. “I shoulda telt yous masel, but… well, it was nice tae come tae the city an’ get away fae bein’ Peez Allen’s wee sister a bit an’ aw.”

“That’s a mood, mate,” Hop said, a little sparkle coming back into his grin. “Gotta admit, it was nice runnin’ into somebody who didn’t, y’know…” He put his hands to his cheeks in an overdramatic affectation of a shocked gasp. “No waaaay! Are you Leon Kensington’s brother? Ohmygawd!”

“Whit’s wi the accent, we havenae run intae any Unovans!” Mhairi giggled as Marnie laughed so hard she nearly snorted coffee out her nose.

“Anyway… probably shoulda said somethin’ before invitin’ you to travel with us, though,” Hop said, nodding to Marnie. “If you’re tryin’ to avoid media fuss, wouldn’t blame you if you don’t—”

“Naw, you’re awright,” Marnie said quickly. “I’m no fussed about the media, fuck ‘em, it’s more…” She sighed, fidgeting with a patch for The Proles she had sewn onto the shoulder of her jacket. “Well, yous saw they lot havin’ a party in the lobby last night. Fans an’ aw. Love that they’re so big on Peez, he fuckin’ deserves it, but them followin’ me about an’ cheerin’ every little thing I do is… it’s a lot.” She grinned wickedly. “On the other hand… maybe I could set ‘em on any stalkers wi’ cameras who start botherin’ us, eh?”

Mhairi and Hop both laughed so loudly that Rhiannon, Sean, Stomper and Muz, all sitting around their own food on Marnie’s bed and chattering, jumped and stared at their trainers in surprise. Ricky hummed something that was probably an explanation to them, because it provoked Muz to start squeaking something loudly, pumping his tiny fist in the air aggressively. “Set a mob ay Proles on ‘em, now that’ll be somethin’ tae Chatter about,” Mhairi laughed. “Though if none ay ‘em are about an’ we get jumped by wan ay them Mandibuzz, I swear I’m gaunnae ram my bike up their—” She jumped to her feet with a yelp. “FUCK! Ma bike!”

“Dinnae dae that, it sounds painful,” Marnie commented.

“Aw, fuck, you’re right, you didn’t get your bike registered yesterday!” Hop realized, also getting up. “We should—”

You should stay here an’ hang wi Marnie, gab about yer famous brers an’ whitever else yez celebrity types talk about,” Mhairi said, pushing on his shoulder to shove him back into his seat. “I’ll grab the last ay ma stuff out ay ma room, run tae the registration, an’ meet yez at the Pyro if it takes too long, aight?” She glanced at her Pokemon. Rhiannon and Stomper were tumbling back and forth across the bed in what looked like half a play-fight, half a tickle-fight, while Sean hopped back and forth out of their way and Muz laughed so hard he’d rolled onto his back. “Ricky, let folk know, if they wanna stay an’ play, I’ll see ‘em at the Pyro wi’ Hop an’ Marnie, awright?”

Ricky hummed an explanation, then flew over to hop into Mhairi’s jacket pocket as she ran for the door. “Vehicle registration still open, accordin’ tae the League site, but we’re cuttin’ it fine,” he reported as Mhairi ran down the hall.

“Story ay ma fuckin’ life,” Mhairi groaned, popping out her card to open her door. “Ye dinnae mind where I actually parked the fuckin’ thing, do ye?”




{3rd An t-Ògmhios, 11:25}
{Macro Cosmos Pyro Centre, Midgow}


Mhairi hadn’t been planning on changing into her new uniform for the first time in a stall in a public bathroom. There were a lot of slow, careful movements as she did her level best not to let the white cloth touch anything, even though, as public bathrooms went, this one was pretty damn clean. She repacked her clothes, checked and double-checked that she had everything, and then stepped out of the stall, taking a good look at herself in the bathroom mirror in her brand new League uniform.

Very swish!” Ricky said approvingly, flying around to take a few pictures. “How’s it feel?”

“Fuckin’ itchy, but that’s new clothes for ye,” Mhairi said, tugging at the collar and then smoothing out the rest of her jersey. “Let’s see they pics… aww, ye always get the good angles, Ricky! Can ye send the third yin tae ma mum, an’ the Clubbie Hill Shaggers chat, an’ then stick a… hmm, how ‘bout a Sobble sticker over ma face, an’ send it tae the Gods Among Us chat? I telt ‘em I’d no be online much ‘cause ay the League, but…”

“Ye wantae show aff a wee bit, eh?” Ricky chuckled, binging as he sent off the first two messages and then showing her the third masked picture for her approval before sending it. The Gods Among Us chat had a strict policy against sharing personal identifying details, since more than a few folk on the associated forum were proper full-on conspiracy theorists who were constantly suspicious of the government or Macro Cosmos compiling a file on them and all of their internet history. But so long as she didn’t share her face or number, all she was showing was that she was in the League this year, and there were over two hundred folk doing that. “Ayyy, instant response fae The Manager! A thumbs up an’ a sparkle, plus… ‘Bonne chance and ganbatte!’ how many languages does that yin speak?”

“All ay them, The Manger is all-knowing,” Mhairi intoned ominously, though secretly she was a little giddy at the approval from that particular mod. The Manager didn’t generally actually participate in forum or chat discussions much, except to come down hard on breaching the rules or general assholery, so getting a positive reaction felt pretty special. “Awright, let’s go find Hop an’ Marnie!”

The lobby of the Pyro had been pretty busy when she came through from Vehicle Registration in search of somewhere to change, but now it was unnervingly empty, only the last stragglers checking their IDs or showing their tickets. By Grand Alba League Opening Ceremony standards, being half an hour early was very late. “OI! WANKER!” Hop yelled, waving at her from the check-in desk for trainers. Marnie was already standing by the far side, hands on her hips, but Hop was waiting in front of the desk for Mhairi, holding Sean and Rhiannon. Sean hopped into Mhairi’s arms with a happy squeak as she ran up to them, but Rhiannon cheeped furiously at her, giving her a right telling-off for being so late. “If you was five minutes later, I was gonna steal your Pokemon,” Hop joked.

“Ye wouldnae let ‘im dae that, would yez?” Mhairi asked, tickling Sean’s chin. Rhiannon snapped her beak at Mhairi’s hair, making Hop chuckle as he handed over his ID. “Awright, awright, I’m sorry, ya wee Hoothoot, but I made it, din’t I?”

“Just in time,” the clerk chuckled, holding out their hand for Mhairi’s ID. “Pokemon in their pokeballs for registration check, please.”

“Get your bike sorted?” Hop asked as she returned her Pokemon and handed them over for registration.

“Oh, aye, it’s aw good—guess who I saw there!” Mhairi said, bouncing on the spot in excitement. “Cara Ash! Guess since Hillferry Steel didnae make the Major League this year, she thought she’d gie it a wee go hersel, eh?”

“Bloody hell!” Hop gasped, picking Stomper off his belt. “We’re gonna hafta really beef up if there’s a shot of us facin’ her in the tournament, huh?”

“Ye shouldae seen the chair she’s got this year—well, yer deffo gaunnae notice it durin’ the ceremony!” Mhairi laughed. “Fucker’s got nae wheels, but eight legs, aw wi climbin’ claws! Well, the registration guy made her take the climbin’ claws aff four, pointin’ out that walkin’ folk only got four limbs tae climb wi— oh, ta very much,” she said as the clerk handed back her pokeballs and trainer ID.

“Get a shift on,” the clerk advised her. “Less’n half an hour ‘til you’re aw on the pitch for the openin’!”

“Ma brer said Cara’s been workin’ oan somethin’ big this year,” Marnie commented as she opened the door and they all jogged down the hall, following the signs pointing them to the trainer’s entrance to the pitch. “Lookin’ forward to seein’ that thing in action!”

“Aye, an’ guess who else I saw registerin’ his bike, Danny fuckin’— whoa.”

They were all but bowled over by the wall of sound that hit them when Hop opened the door to the trainer’s entrance. The distant, dull mumble of the stadium crowd became a roar, blasting into them over the heads of the mass of trainers crowded in the hallway. Towards the front, Mhairi could make out a couple of the legs of Cara Ash’s chair climbing partway up the wall, the bulk of an Arcanine that somebody was riding on the back of, and a third lucky sonofabitch riding a full-fledged Rapidash, their mane glowing a beautiful pastel aurora. A few trainers had smaller Pokemon with them, crouched on their shoulders or holding their hands, but for the most part the hallway was packed with trainers in white uniforms, shoulder-to-shoulder, their excitement and anticipation audibly thrumming in the air.

ALBANS ALL! I AM ROSE, CHAIRMAN OF THE POKEMON LEAGUE! I KNOW THAT EVERYONE GATHERED HERE…”

“How delightful that you deigned to join us,” a blond guy next to Hop drawled, giving the three of them a snooty look. “Why, we could never have started without whoever you three are!”

“Fuck up, mate,” Hop muttered. Mhairi just reflexively flipped the guy off, and got a little frisson of delight out of how this was apparently Marnie’s first reflex, too. The other girl hadn’t even looked at the guy, gaze focused on the blinding glare of light at the end of the tunnel. Mhairi craned her neck to see if she could spot Morgan, but the brightness turned everyone into silhouettes and shadows.

“…THE ALBA GRAND LEAGUE WILL NOW BEGIN!”

A fresh wave of cheers blasted down the tunnel from the crowd, crashing against a burst of whoops and cheers from the assembled League challengers as green lights blinked on along the tunnel, pointing them out onto the pitch.

“HERE WE GO!” Hop whooped as the crowd surged forwards. Mhairi couldn’t help an excited yell of her own as they ran out onto the pitch to be formally presented as League challengers.

It was all dizzying. An overcast afternoon was supplemented by blazing spotlights that made all of their white uniforms seem to glow. The noise of the crowd had reached a pitch that was felt in the bones rather than heard in the ears. Some of the other trainers were ducking their heads and turning away from the cameras that were circling them, painting their faces across huge screens around the stadium, while others were waving, posing or blowing kisses when attention turned to them.

“HEY! THERE’S US!” Mhairi shouted when she spotted her blue hair and Hop’s purple mop sticking out on one of the screens. She slung an arm around Hop and waved for the cameras, then shrieked out a laugh as Hop picked her up and swung her around, hooting excitedly. When she looked over at Marnie, though, the girl had a middle finger raised pointedly at any camera that came near her, and the Rotom operating them were clearly under orders not to broadcast anything like that.

“…AND GATHER THE EIGHT GYM BADGES TO PROVE THEIR SKILLS AS A TRAINER!” Rose was explaining when Mhairi got enough of a grip on all the noise to pick out the League Chairman’s voice, booming across the stadium though it was. “ONLY THE MOST WORTHY WILL HAVE THE HONOUR OF CHALLENGING THE GREATEST CHAMPION IN HISTORY! NOW, I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE THE GYM LEADERS TO SHOW THEMSELVES!”

HERE THEY COME!” Hop shouted as fireworks shot off from the tunnel at the opposite end of the stadium from the one they’d come out of, briefly turning the stadium green as the fireworks went off far above. As in the tunnel, Mhairi, Hop and Marnie were at the back of the crowd relative to the opposite entrance, and Mhairi stood on her tiptoes and leaned on Hop’s shoulders until he stooped to let her climb onto his back and get a clearer look. She already knew which eight leaders were in the Major League this year, but the order they arrived in the stadium would tell her what order she would have to beat them to progress.

A big, broad Appletun toddled out of the tunnel, back swollen with power, a human sitting on their back who was pretty damn big and broad himself. He was waving at the crowd, and though Mhairi couldn’t see his expression from where she was, she could guess from all the footage she’d seen that he was smiling brightly. “THE FIGHTING FARMER! HERE’S THE GRASS-TYPE EXPERT, MILO!”

“YOU LUCKY BASTART!” Mhairi shouted, giving Hop an affectionate noogie. He wobbled dramatically, as if about to drop her, but didn’t. “STOMPER’S GOT IT IN THE BAG!”

Milo and his Appletun circled the group of challengers, but then their attention was drawn by a second blast of fireworks, these ones blue and followed by a wave of water rolling out onto the pitch. Riding the wave was a large, rough-shelled Drednaw, and standing on their back was another leader, she considerably more lithe than Milo. She turned and waved to the crowd with smooth elegance despite the rough gait of the Drednaw she was on. “THE RAGING WAVE! IT’S THE MASTER OF WATER TYPES, NESSA!”

“SHE COPYIN’ YOUR LOOK?” Marnie shouted with a teasing grin, referring to the bright blue streaks that hadn’t been in Nessa’s hair during last month’s Association matches. Mhairi ran a hand through her own shorter, darker blue hair and grinned, already looking forward to going back to Inverbodan for her second match.

Nessa, like Milo, began circling them, and again their attention was dragged back to the tunnel, this time not just by fireworks but actual fire blasts. It wasn’t too hard to guess that the Pyro’s home leader was making his entrance even before the man himself strode out onto his field, his Centiskorch winding and dancing around him like a ribbon being tossed by the wind, if the ribbon could also breathe fire. “THE EVER-BURNING MAN OF FIRE! HERE COMES THE FIRE-TYPE VETERAN, KABU!”

“THERE’S YOUR FREE GYM!” Hop shouted. “IF YOU MAKE IT THAT FAR!”

“WATCH ME,” Mhairi laughed, knuckling his head again, then gasping and waving as Milo circled close to them. He was mostly waving at the stadium crowd, but he turned every few seconds to look at the trainers, flex, and grin cheerfully.

The next fireworks were purple, and accompanied by the stadium floodlights flickering, which got a few startled shrieks out of folk. It seemed like a lot of drama to herald the arrival of one small boy in a mask, until you noticed that he was trailing a shadow despite the many intense floodlights, and that it was far larger and darker than any shadow had any right to be. The Gengar leaped up for a moment, cackling spookily and dancing around their trainer, before returning to the unfazed boy’s shadow. “THE SILENT BOY OF MYSTERY! ALLISTER, FRIEND TO GHOST TYPES!”

“THERE’S MINE,” Marnie said with a sharp grin, bumping her shoulder against Mhairi’s ankle and Hop’s arm. Mhairi gave her a thumbs-up, then yelped and clutched Hop’s head as the Gengar danced out of Allister’s shadow again and swooped over the heads of the assembled challengers.

More fireworks drew them again, this time blasting an absurd amount of glitter and pink smoke into the air as while as the green-and-pink lights from the fireworks. The Alcremie that danced out of the tunenl was emanating sweet-smelling pink mist, and did a little flourish as she presented her trainer, a skinny elderly lady who was nearly invisible under her huge furry ruff and her vivid pink-and-green dress. “THE MASTER OF A FANTASTIC THEATRE! IT’S THE CHARMING FAIRY-TYPE USER, OPAL!”

Mhairi couldn’t contain a little squeal of glee at the thought of going to Glakirk to fight Opal and traveling through the Sìdh Dorch, even if, going by the order, she’d be more than halfway through the challenge before she got the chance to catch a Ponyta.

Well, not if I get the first four badges fast…

Pale blue fireworks were followed by a sheen of ice shot across the turf, and out of the tunnel slid an absolutely gorgeous Lapras, their melodious singing sadly lost under the roar of the crowd. Though all of the gym leaders had gotten their own surges of clapping and cheering, there was a distinctive uptick in response to the broad, beautiful, white-clad woman waving from the Lapras’ back. “THE ICE-COLD PROFESSIONAL! PLEASE WELCOME THE ICE-TYPE MASTER, MELONY!”

Six leaders were circling the assembled challengers now, their famous aces looming intimidatingly over those who would face them. Milo, Nessa, Kabu, Allister, Opal, Melony… don’t that just leave Raihan Drake an’ Piers Allen?

A tremendous roar shook the stadium, and a gleaming Duraludon stomped out of the tunnel. Perched on their head was a young man, surrounded by the camera flashes of his own combination rotom phone and publicist as they snapped him from every angle while he made his grand entrance. “AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE TAMER OF DRAGONS… IT’S RAIHAN, THE TOP GYM LEADER!”

Last? Hang on…
Mhairi dropped off of Hop’s back so she could lean closer to Marnie and have a chance at being heard. “WHERE’S YER BRER? IS HE NO MAJOR LEAGUE THIS YEAR?”

“PROTEST,” Marnie shouted back, then glanced back at the tunnel they’d come from. “I’LL TELL YOUS LATER!”

THESE ARE THE GYM LEADERS THAT WE IN THE GALAR REGION ARE PROUD TO CALL OUR OWN!” Rose announced as the seven present leaders circled the challengers, no longer waving to the crowd but looking inwards at their future opponents. Milo, Nessa, Melony and Raihan were all smiling and winking, while Kabu glared like a Gyarados, Opal was looking impassively down her nose, and Allister was utterly unreadable under his mask. “THESE ARE THE GYM LEADERS THAT THIS YEAR’S BRAVE CHALLENGERS MUST FACE! FOR THEM, THEIR ADVENTURE… STARTS NOW!”

Lights blazed around the tunnel they’d come in from, a stream of fireworks in every colour began to paint the sky over the stadium, and the seven leaders moved back to the edges of the pitch. “WHAT’RE YOU LOT WAITING FOR?!” Raihan whooped. “GET TO IT!”

Mhairi had just enough time to recognize that she, Hop and Marnie were now between the crowd and the exit before trainers started charging past her, yelling war cries or shouting out to their friends and rivals. “’MON!” she shouted, grabbing Hop and Marnie’s wrists and joining the flood as they ran back down the tunnel. The door at the other end was hanging open now, and the hallway beyond had been transformed. Mhairi hadn’t noticed the huge rolling doors lining the far wall, but now they were all open, giving space for the trainers to stream out into the parking lot. Some stopped to pull a map out of their bags or consult their phones, while others charged straight ahead, clearly already knowing where they were going. “If Milo’s up first, we’ve tae get tae Magally!” Mhairi shouted, scanning the parking lot. It was empty except for a few dozen bikes spread out around the lot, with trainers running out to grab theirs and get on the move. Mhairi spotted hers and started towards it, then glanced back at Marnie. “Hey, I’m gaunnae—”

“Hop already briefed me,” Marnie assured her, giving her a push in the middle of her back. “Go on, get us a good camping spot, then!”

“Will do!” Mhairi promised, high-fiving Hop before running towards her bike. The bikes weren’t locked up—the group of Sirfetch’d she could see patrolling the edges of the parking lot keeping theft from happening during the ceremony—so she was able to jump onto her bike, kick off, and be away in a moment without losing momentum.

Magally’s northeast… acht, I’ll just follow this lot, she decided, laughing aloud at the exhilarating feeling of speed as she followed a group of other trainers who’d hit the cycling path, the trainer on the support Rapidash passing all of them in a rainbow blaze of speed. I’ll come up wi a routemap wi Hop an’ Marnie later, but just the now…

Right now, the wind was in her hair, two Pokemon were in her bag, and she was cycling as fast as she could go, racing out of the city and into hundreds of miles of open highland.

The League had begun, and they were away.

  • Chatter was suggested in a Nulocke Writers’ Discord conversation about Pokemon equivalents of real-world websites (in this case, Twitter), but I can’t find now who came up with it specifically.
  • You can probably guess my opinion about the British tabloid media. I would not wipe my arse with the D*ily M*il, as that would be counterproductive to the goal of removing shite. Free speech is important so you can’t really ban that nonsense entirely, but trash is gonna trash (though I’m not gonna get into them flinging the amount of racist shit the IRL tabloid media would throw at Leon and Hop in the idealistic hope that that’s finally actually completely illegal in the futuristic setting here.)
  • Cara Ash and her spider-legged climbing-claw chair are loosely named after and based on a late classmate of mine from high school, who once designed the chair I described here because “wheels are fuckin nonsense” and it was such an incredibly fucking cool idea that it’s stuck in my brain ever since whenever I remember her.
  • In case you haven't guessed I'm going for the Vibes of football culture in Scotland, where most places have at least one local club, though they range from "local guys who just train on a Saturday afternoon and then go to the pub" to the big pro teams full of Dutch lads with one Scottish grandparent :v I'll get more into how it is on pokearth infic later but just know that most towns have at least one gym, even if it's tiny, and big places like Midgow have a bunch (though fans of the Grass and Water gyms in Midgow do NOT get on...)

Team Mhairi:

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--Mhairi Stuart
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--Sean Bodan
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--Rhiannon Cally


Team Hop:

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--Hop Kensington
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--Wes Invercoll
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--Stomper Turffield

Team Marnie

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--Marnie Allen
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--Muz McQueen
 
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