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Written Story Kalos Teen Gijinka Showstoppers; an X/Y Gijinka Duallocke

Thread Description
Two very different Trainers compete in the glamorous and dramatic Kalos League; updates weekly

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #21
They made their way to another part of the forest that could pass for the same place they'd battled, and Julian used his Pokedex to peer at the footage of the fight on it. "So, uh...I think you were about here? And Sam was...over here?"

Steph gave a mock sigh. "I got it." She activated her own Pokedex and released her camera drone again - except this time it projected the last frame of the fight in flickery, semitransparent holograms. "The 'volunteer agent' thing isn't just a title, you know," she observed, though she was smirking enough it was obvious she wasn't being serious.

While Steph directed Sam and Julian's new teammate - Eurwen knew not to ask her name now - into position, Eurwen looked over at Julian. He still had his arm around Shauna's waist, something she'd noticed he tended to do more whenever he was excited. In this case she didn't need the hint, since he was beaming madly. No matter how much Shauna might have insisted that it was guaranteed, he was obviously delighted to have taken what was evidently a major step for a League challenger.

A step she hadn't yet taken.

"So...I got that Sam told you which way he was going to dodge with his tail -" the Fennekin looked over at her, surprised "- but how'd you tell him what moves to use?" she asked, curiously.

"What, you expect me to spill my secrets?" He was smiling too much for her to think he was being serious. "I didn't," he explained. "We figured it out beforehand - he'd get a near-miss with Ember then hit with a Scratch. We knew we were going up against a lower-level Bug-type, so we figured that would be enough to put her Essence into the red."

"What would you have done if she'd been tougher than you were expecting?"

"Oh, we have some signals figured out too," he answered, idly.

She shared a glance with Cyr and felt guilty.

"I really don't get all these tricks," she grumbled.

Steph reached up and pressed a finger on her lips - rather pointlessly since Eurwen had already stopped talking, but she wasn't going to complain. "Okay, ready?" she asked, abandoning the teasing gesture after a moment to focus on the scene.

Julian nodded, and tossed the beanbag again - much more lightly this time, and the Scatterbug woman caught it and held it to her chest, waiting for Steph's signal.

"So, how about it?" Julian asked, walking over to the woman as she let the beanbag drop. "Wanna join us?" He paused for a moment, as though considering a name. Eurwen suspected he'd already decided on one on the walk over. "'Artie'?"

She gave a small smile. "I like that." She placed her thumb on the reader on Julian's Pokedex and it played a little jingle to represent that her biomonitor was now registered to him. He took a subtle step to the side so the camera could get a good view of them both and tapped a button on the holographic display, and his Pokedex glowed with warm, lavender-coloured light that played over the woman, restoring her lost Essence.

"Welcome to the team, Artie."

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #22
They had lunch together as a group in one of the cafés in Aquacorde, spending most of the time listening (whether they wanted to or not) to Shauna retell the stories of Julian's successes, having apparently spent most of the morning following him around and oblivious to the fact that any of them that cared that much could just watch the footage from the League cameras.

Eurwen fully intended on doing just that. Watching the ease he and Sam had communicated, how they'd managed to fight well and make it look good...it hadn't fully sunk in with the battle against Jolie the day before just how much thought and effort went into battling like this. Though she wasn't going to start browsing through the footage in the middle of lunch.

"So, you ready to take on some challenges?" she asked Cyr. The Chespin jumped up from the table without even remembering to put his cutlery down. "After lunch," she added, while the others gave him amused looks.

"Oh, right." He sat back down, sheepishly, but the embarrassment couldn't dampen his excitement for long. "Which ones?"

If she was entirely honest, she wasn't sure. She didn't know much about Cyr's strengths and weaknesses outside of a battle beyond what she'd seen in his audition and what little she could work out from their training session. "I was thinking this one to start with." She offered him the tablet, but Steph reached over and tapped a couple of buttons on it to send the data straight to Cyr's Pokedex instead. "You could just tell me what to do, you know," she pointed out.

"Not as fun," Steph answered, and very deliberately pressed closer to Eurwen as she sat back down than she had reaching over in the first place.

"So why this one?" Cyr asked, trying to get Eurwen's focus back on the challenge, glancing through it.

"It says the aim is to pick up heavy blocks and move them to rebuild walls to..." She frowned. "...'create a magical barrier,' apparently. Anyway, the weights are between twenty and fifty pounds. You can pick up that kind of weight easily with your vines and move them much quicker than anyone who actually has to climb around the walls. It'll be easy."

She tried to ignore the fact that all the training over the course of the morning would do nothing to improve their chances. Cyr was polite enough not to mention it.

The challenge, by dint of being relatively simple (if strenuous), was a popular one, and she and Cyr were third in line, with another Trainer-Pokemon pair behind them by the time it was their turn. All that meant was that she got to see how others handled it. The group who were trying it when she got there - a Trainer who'd obviously picked up another teammate, the same way Julian had - weren't exactly the most cut out for the challenge, and the heaviest of the blocks even the three of them together couldn't lift enough to move over to its position at the other side of the challenge. But they still got a passing mark, albeit only just.

The next Trainer only had a single Pokemon, but that Pokemon was a powerful Rock-type who could lift the lighter blocks easily and handle the heavier ones with some difficulty. What caught her attention about them was the way the Trainer was showing off, leaping around the battlements totally unnecessarily to direct his Pokemon and make sure the walls were still holding, with periodic dramatic declarations. And while she was never going to be someone to shout pointless-but-impressive phrases into the wind with the kind of genuine bombast of Julian and Shauna...athletics was something she could do.

The pair that immediately preceded her and Cyr inverted that arrangement, and but for the Essence lines running through one of them Eurwen might have mistaken which was the Trainer and which was the Pokemon at first glance, because it was the human Trainer doing the heavy lifting while the Pokemon - a delicate-looking young woman with pale secondary ears the size of her hands - ran along the battlements to direct him. They had a scary moment when their wall began to topple, but the Pokemon glowed with orange-and-yellow light and took off into the sky, slamming into the wall hard enough to take a significant chunk out of her own Essence but managing to stop it from falling completely.

And then it was their turns. "This is a physical 'yellow' challenge, so there is a small risk of harm," the League official explained, while two of the techs attached silvery devices to her and Cyr's limbs. "The floor around the battlements is padded, so falling is safe. You'll need to both wear these detectors, which are also installed around the walls and floor of the challenge. All the blocks are attached by cables to the rig above, and in an emergency they can be pulled up and out of harm's way. This will also occur if your detectors sense that any part of your body will be trapped between two blocks, or between a block and the wall or floor, if one or both of the blocks in question are moving. This is considered-"

He stopped as Eurwen turned and swiped at the League tech trying to put one of the detectors around her neck. She caught herself before she actually struck the man's hand. "Sorry!" she yelped. "I just...I really don't like people touching my neck."

Had he seen? It didn't look like he had. That was why Eurwen wore her hair long and tangled, after all, and she had the hood of her hoodie to further mask it. But even just the chance was terrifying, and she realised she was breathing rapidly. Cyr half reached over to put a hand on her shoulder, thought better of it, and gave her a sympathetic smile when she caught his eye.

The League staff took her sudden retaliation remarkably calmly. Perhaps because she hadn't actually hurt any of them. The nasty thought wouldn't leave her mind. "We'll make a note of that, don't worry," the League official reassured her. "It won't happen again."

They gave Eurwen a few moments to calm down before they carried on talking. "As I was saying, if your detectors trigger the emergency systems, it will count as a challenger failure outside the bounds of the challenge, so as normal for such situations, you will have to go to the back of the queue and try again. Three such failures will, of course, count as a full failure of the challenge. Do you understand?"

Eurwen nodded. Safety measures were at least understandable even if nothing else in the League was - she still wasn't sure why 'magic' was a thing.

"Very well. Then take your places, and let your adventure begin."

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
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Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
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246
Nature
Lonely
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Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #23
They absolutely crushed it.

At first they both took the challenge seriously, but after the first of the three 'walls' was rebuilt within less than thirty seconds even Eurwen acknowledged they could afford to relax a bit. The challenge was almost perfectly suited for Cyr - his vines could move the blocks into place without him really having to move from the spot. About the only real challenge, since the blocks didn't have convenient handholds, was him retracting his vine without pulling the blocks out of position, but Eurwen could clamber up the sides of the wall and hold them in place easily enough while he unwound his vine from them.

Each of the three walls was designed to be more challenging than the last, but much of that challenge came from the difficulty of figuring out which orientation the blocks needed to go in and having to choose between lowering them down to ground level for easier rotation or trying to both lift and rotate them at once, and with his vines Cyr had a lot more flexibility and reach than any normal person.

He started showing off for the second challenge, scooping up multiple blocks at once and deliberately trying to get Eurwen involved, giving the lighter ones to her to put into place while he handled the higher or heavier ones.

The third of the three walls was the one with the fifty-pound block that had caused the other competitors trouble. He actually got some applause from the competitors watching him when he wound his vines around it and lifted it above his head easily, even though interrupting other peoples' challenges was against the rules. No-one scolded them, though, and it obviously encouraged him, because once all but one of the blocks were in place he stretched one of his vines out until it was just at the level of the wall she was perched on.

His other vine was wrapped around the last block - the oddly-shaped that had nearly caused the downfall of the team with the flying white-and-orange Pokemon. "Seriously?" she asked, more to herself than him. The vine wriggled in what was probably an attempt at a beckoning gesture.

She shrugged and stepped onto his vine - he'd reached out much further than the five feet or so he'd done for his audition, and at this distance his vine dipped under her weight, though in fairness that was probably at least partly because of the disparity in weight between her and the block he was holding in his other vine, since she probably weighed half a dozen times as much as it did. Certainly once he moved her over so he could take hold of the block, freeing his other vine to support her as well, he seemed to find it a bit easier to hold her up, and she could balance on his vines easily.

It was all completely unnecessary, but the more he was showing off the more she didn't have to care about doing the same. Once the final block was in place he lowered her down a little and let her jump down the rest of the way before the cameras stopped recording, beaming at her.

Cyr could've probably completed the challenge on his own, and he was loving it.

And she had to admit - she was having fun too.

"That was awesome!" Cyr grinned, when they were back out of the challenge. If he'd even had any lingering resentment over the way she'd treated him when they first met, it was well and truly gone now.

"I think it's more that you were awesome," she pointed out, drily. It wasn't as though she'd had any part in him training his Essence until he could shape vines so well.

"You picked the challenge." And he meant it entirely genuinely, like thirty seconds of idle thought were equal to what must have been months of dedicated training.

She couldn't help but chuckle. "Just take the compliment, would you?"

"It's weird," he said, a couple of moments later. "I know that wasn't exactly hard for me, but..." He gave a shrug.

"Like you left the challenge with more Essence than you started it with?"

Cyr was looking at her like she could read minds.

"It's another trick the League does. Challenge areas are suffused with free Essence, to make it so you can grow stronger from doing non-combat challenges as well. It must be ridiculously expensive to synthesise Essence and use it like that, but apparently people used to mostly ignore the physical challenges until the tech to project Essence like that was invented and approved for the League." She gave him a shrug and an amused look, in that order. "I do know how the internet works, you know."

Cyr had a feeling why she'd suddenly become interested in the particulars of the League, but he didn't quite feel close enough to Eurwen to say it aloud.

"But however it might make you feel," she added, "free Essence doesn't replace the Essence you burn off during the challenges any more than Essence you take from an opponent. If you aren't careful you can spend too much and go from top-of-the-world to almost helpless in a few seconds."

"So in other words..." he mused, instead. "If I can strengthen my Essence by doing challenges, then doing challenges is training!"

She started to correct him - training to shape Essence was totally different to training to strengthen it - but paused. Even if he listened to her and went back to the training they were doing, his heart wouldn't be in it. He was too excited by the challenge, by the applause, by winning.

"Fine," she accepted, with a sigh that sounded far more put-upon than she really felt. "You wanna go show off your vines some more?"

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
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Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #24
You'd think when I have a backlog I'd be better at keeping to an update schedule, but apparently not!

They tore through a couple more challenges much like the wall-building one - more or less any test of strength or stamina was essentially trivial so long as they could connive a way for Cyr to use his vines. Cyr insisted they try a defence challenge too so he could show her how well he'd learned the blocking she'd taught him, and she had to admit for someone who'd only had a couple hours training, he did impressively well.

Each challenge had more free Essence permeating the area, and Cyr obviously wasn't used to taking in such a lot of Essence at once, because by the time they were through their fifth challenge, he was having a hard time tamping it down.

"Wishing you hadn't convinced me to put you through all those challenges and all that Essence now?" she asked him.

"Is it that obvious?"

She laughed. "Pretty obvious. The last challenge ended nearly ten minutes ago and your quills look like they could break solid rock." The cold, clinical part of her knew it marked him as inexperienced and weak, an easy target for a ripe picking of Essence, but honestly it was...kind of sweet how no-one seemed to care about it here. (And Cyr certainly wasn't the only one having a hard time dealing with the bounty of Essence they'd harvested from the first day of challenges.) "You done for the day, or you want to make use of your Essence while it's still raging?"

He paused, turning to look at her. "What do you mean?"

"You ever hear of an Essence Link?"

"Yeah, it's how we absorb Essence from opponents in battles."

"That's the most general way it works," she nodded, "but it's a little more complicated than that. Under normal circumstances, the Essence you burn off in a battle just dissipates into the atmosphere - other Pokemon might absorb some of it if they get close before it fades away, but it's too much yours for them to use, so it just burns off without benefitting them. If two sources of Essence clash, both sources' Essence is rewritten slightly, temporarily, to let them benefit from the Essence of the other source. That's what you were talking about. But there's a little trick to Essence Links - they're more like an opening where Essence of the right 'flavour' can go through. So if you absorb Essence that's mixed while it was being burned off, like if two Pokemon team up to attack, you only need an Essence Link on one of them to benefit from the mixed Essence So if you have free Essence - Essence of all possible 'flavours' at once - permeating your Essence flows and you get an Essence Link?"

She was testing him deliberately, seeing how much he could focus while riding the high of his surging Essence. He was bouncing on the balls of his feet like he was about to dive into a fight, but he managed to concentrate enough to figure out the answer. "I can absorb all the free Essence straight away, rather than really slowly?"

She grinned. "Exactly. C'mon, let's go surprise someone."

It didn't take long for them to find a potential battle. Eurwen was pretty sure Cyr could've won with just his natural abilities alone, which was exactly the sort of matchup she wanted. "I'm gonna try to be more...'League-y'...this time," she assured him - though she still sketched air-quotes - "but I want you to do what I say." She was glad Julian had put the idea in her head about planning moves beforehand. "Hold out your arms."

He obviously looked confused, but he obliged, and she closed her eyes to better feel his Essence flows, carefully running two fingers up his forearms. She was good at sensing Essence, but he had so much Essence surging around him it made it almost impossible to find what she was looking for. Almost.

"So, our opponent is a Normal-type, lower-level than you, but they might still be dangerous depending on what attacks they have. Use your vines for quick strikes first," she instructed, opening her eyes again, "until you have an Essence Link. Then move in and just keep Tackling if you can, defend if you can't. But if I tell you to, face the t - uh, your opponent, I mean - cross your arms so your forearms are touching here -" she nudged him into position "- swing up, and let your Essence go wild."

He was obviously nervous about the idea of just letting his surging Essence go. As a general rule, it was smart of him.

"Don't worry. It'll be safe."

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #25
Cyr's opponent turned out to be a Zigzagoon, wiry and tough enough that a couple of the teams before them underestimated him and lost. In comparison to some of the other League battlers she'd watched while Cyr had been going to town on the challenges, he was rougher with his opponents, exploiting mistakes that others would've let go. Which was presumably why beating him would reward more Tokens than most of the other battles.

She'd figured out how to view the progress of the rest of the group on her tablet now, so she knew Julian, Sam and Artie had already won the same battle. She didn't mention that to Cyr - he was going to have a hard enough time keeping his head straight without knowing he was competing with their 'rivals.'

"Well, look at this," the Zigazgaoon remarked, in a derisive tone that must have been every bit as scripted as his introduction. "Come to try to take back those berries?" That was the in-story excuse for fighting him - supposedly, he'd stolen a harvest of berries that were needed in Aquacorde. It felt every bit as nonsensical as the 'magical' wall.

Cyr, typically, took the tenuous explanation in his stride even with the struggle to focus through his Essence. "There are people that need those berries! And yeah, we're going to take them back!"

"I'd like to see you try."

Eurwen remembered in time to start issuing the command before Cyr actually attacked. "Vine Whip, Cyr!" she called. The Zigzagoon dodged the first vine, but he obviously wasn't expecting Cyr to be able to shape two, because the second one caught him in the shoulder with a crackle of Essence. He stumbled as lunged at Cyr with a Tackle, giving the Chespin time to turn and block the attack just as Eurwen had taught him. "Tackle back!"

"You wanna see what a real Tackle looks like?" Considering the Zigzagoon's Essence was much better suited to using Tackle than Cyr's, the Chespin's taunt seemed rather backwards, but she supposed he did have a point as far as sheer power went - he'd barely even noticed the Zigzagoon's Tackle, but his retaliatory one was heavy enough to check the Zigzagoon and knock him off-balance before he could hit Cyr a second time.

Cyr went on the defensive without her telling him to after that, letting the Zigzagoon attack. For a moment Eurwen didn't realise what he was doing until he glanced back at her. He wanted to do her tactic, and he was smart enough to realise that he would've taken the Zigzagoon out if he'd kept attacking as hard as he could.

The Zigzagoon got another couple of Tackles in on him - he blocked most of the force, but they still took a chunk out of his Essence and he wouldn't be able to just soak the attacks forever - before he'd absorbed enough of the free Essence for Eurwen to guess he was ready.

"Cyr, go now!"

"Hope this works," he murmured to himself, before raising his voice to address the Zigzagoon before he could leap in for another Tackle. "You think you're pretty tough, huh? Well, d'you think you're tough enough to handle our proper attacks?"

He crossed his arms.

The change in the Essence racing through him was immediate. His arms glowed brightly with golden-brown Rock Essence and it felt like they were almost glued together, because he couldn't pull them apart even if he'd seriously tried to. But he remembered Eurwen's next instruction and swung - and found himself inexplicably lifted off the floor, as though his crossed arms somehow held ten times the momentum they should've, and felt like he did a full backflip with Essence whirling around him, pressing around him and keeping him curled up like he was a wrecking ball. There was a crash of shattering Essence and he landed (for a given definition of 'landed') suspended in mid-air in a bubble of Rock Essence that skittered him across the battle area until he tipped to one side and fell over.

He couldn't get out of the Rollout bubble until he'd come to a halt - the harder he tried to escape, the harder the bubble became. That was something Eurwen hadn't warned him about, though fortunately, he didn't think anyone else noticed him struggling to break free, and he managed to get to his feet quickly enough that he hoped it could pass as a roll.

The Zigzagoon was out - not just out of Essence, but outright unconscious. Cyr winced sympathetically, but one of the League staff tapped a button on the adjudication system and he jolted back to wakefulness in a shimmer of pale, crystalline light, getting to his feet and rubbing his chest where Cyr had slammed him.

More than a few of the Trainers who'd fought the Zigzagoon already, and some of the ones in the queue, applauded him as they left the challenge.

"Feel better?" Eurwen asked.

"Y...yeah!" he replied, almost surprised at just how good he felt. It wasn't the same uncontrollable thrill that the Essence had caused in him - it was more like a deep warmth, like the kind of feeling you got after a really good workout, but without the burning in his muscles that normally accompanied that feeling and a lot more...instinctive, almost.

Eurwen was studying him with that unnervingly intent look that made him feel like something being dissected. "Have you never developed a new move before?"

"Well, uh...no," he admitted. "Is this what it feels like?"

"Partly," she shrugged. "Absorbing all that Essence in a rush intensifies it." Suddenly she looked sheepish, almost embarrassed. "We don't have the Tokens to buy anything special and I can't afford anything fancy, but I...I wanted to thank you. For...you know, putting up with me. So..." She gestured vaguely to him. "That was the best I could do."

Cyr frowned. "We're a team, Eurwen," he told her, simply. "Of course I'm going to stick with you. Besides, you've been putting up with mr - I ought to be thanking you. But...thanks." He smiled. "This feels awesome."

"If you want to thank me, then just be safe," she murmured, quietly enough that he didn't hear her.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #26
They took the rest of the day off. Cyr mostly used the time before dinner to take a shower - Eurwen had taken off the Essence-fortifying bandages after the fight with the Zigzagoon, since his own altered Essence would do the same job far better - and generally make himself look (and feel) like a normal person again and not a battler who'd been put through the wringer. Eurwen wandered around Aquacorde, watching a few more of the challenges in preparation for the next day.

Steph was waiting in Eurwen's room again. "Are you going to do this every day?" Eurwen asked, hoping the answer would be 'yes' much more than she would ever admit to anyone.

The Eevee - for once - had more important things than Eurwen on her mind. "Come look at this!" she beamed, waving her Pokedex excitedly and barely giving Eurwen a moment to close the door before leaping up and hauling her over so she could show Eurwen the projected screen. "At the end of the first day's challenges," she explained in a rush, "the official League analysts go through all the footage and pick out the twenty teams that most impressed them. They do the same for the best ten after two weeks, the best five after two months."

Eurwen was expecting to see Julian, Sam and Artie on the rundown - they weren't back yet, and she wouldn't have been even remotely surprised if they'd somehow scored an interview with these analysts. It was a testament to Steph's excitement that she didn't draw it out by making Eurwen watch from the beginning, but instead reset it to about halfway through - number eleven, to be precise - and set it playing again to see...

It was Cyr, blocking the Tackles from the Zigzagoon. The battle area they'd fought in had been transformed by the League's editing team into an abandoned street - it was the first time she'd watched the edited, polished footage that the audience saw, and she had to admit it looked amazingly realistic.

"D'you think you're tough enough to handle our proper attacks?" Cyr taunted, on the screen, in a particularly close-up shot with some added dramatic lighting. And then he provided his own dramatic lighting - the video went into slow-motion as his Essence shifted to accommodate the newly-awakened move. There had been some subtle work done on the Rollout itself, as well - rumbly sounds to accompany it forming, and dimming down the shimmer of Essence around the bubble where he'd already formed it, making it look more like solid rock. They were considerate enough to not show that the Zigzagoon was almost defeated anyway, only bringing up the Essence readout onto the screen when it had dropped to nothing after Cyr ploughed into him.

"Did you do that editing?" Eurwen asked.

"Well, sort of, but - shh! Listen!" The clip faded out to be replaced with a pair of news anchors sitting at a desk that had the League's symbol prominently displayed.

"This clip was selected by our Essence Expert, Brigitte Duchamp - over to you, Brigitte."

"Thanks, Rin." Brigitte was apparently somewhere in Aquacorde, because the town's landmark fountain was displayed in the background of the shot. "An expansion in a Pokemon's Essence core causing them to develop new moves in the middle of battle isn't unheard of, of course, but it's fairly uncommon, and generally until the Pokemon has trained their Essence to form the appropriate shapes, new moves are weak and inaccurate."

"I wouldn't have called a hit like that either of those two things, Brigitte," Rin observed. Even Eurwen could tell they'd been told to say that beforehand.

"Exactly. Cyr had built up a lot of free Essence from completing challenges earlier in the day, and used the Essence Link he'd established to consume that Essence. The abundance of partially-assimilated Essence strengthened his Rollout, making it easily comparable to what he would be capable of with training. Under normal circumstances, I'd have said it was just luck - but he knew exactly how to move to let his Essence flows naturally shape a bubble, and - while you didn't see it on the clip there - he did so at the instruction of his Trainer. Between the two of them, they deliberately built up his free Essence, detected when his Essence core had changed to awaken a new move, and trained him to activate it even though neither of them could use Rollout beforehand. That's an understanding of Essence from Pokemon and Trainer that I'd be more accustomed to seeing in pro battles. These two are definitely ones to watch going forwards."

"Thanks, Brigitte. So that was Eurwen and Cyr - a team who you won't have seen on any leaderboards, because they've taken on fewer challenges than most, but evidently a team with a lot of skill and power behind them, as their 100% completion rate attests to. Now, on to number 10."

Steph flicked the Pokedex off and turned to give Eurwen a big, beaming smile that made Eurwen smile too even if she still had no idea what the Eevee was so excited about. "So someone figured out what I did. What's the big deal?"

"Brigitte is...like, the crystal ball of the League! Every single year since they hired her, at least one of the teams she endorses on the first day beats the Champion! I mean, she doesn't get everyone who beats the Champion, and not everyone she endorses makes it," Steph admitted, "but still! This is a massive deal! Everyone watches these selections, even if they don't watch the analysis every day!"

Eurwen frowned slightly.

"Aww, c'mon, do you really have to be so surly?" Steph pouted. "You were the one worried about whether you fitted in or not - everyone's gonna be watching out for you now!"

Which was exactly the problem.

"I bet you'll get some sponsorship offers by the time we're done with dinner! Speaking of..." she added, "where was that takeout place you went yesterday? We should get celebratory takeout!"

"By which you mean I should get celebratory takeout so you can steal half of it again?"

"Well, obviously!" Steph replied, with such a mischievous grin it was impossible to refuse her.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #27
17:32 - Anne: HOLY CRAP DUDE YOU LOKED AWESOME!
*LOOKED AWESOME!


17:35 - Jacob: Uh
I did?


17:35 - Anne: Did you not watch the roundup?

17:35 - Jacob: No?

17:35 - Anne: <Link>

17:38 - Anne: *poke*

17:38 - Jacob: poke back
Sorry, just

17:39 - Jacob: processing.

17:41 - Jacob: Didn't realise you were watching the roundup.


17:42 - Anne: You really think I'm going to miss a day of roundup when my best friend is in the League?

17:42 - Jacob: 😊

17:43 - Anne: Especially when he turns out to be a secret badass?

17:43 - Jacob: 😊 😊
You really think it looked okay?
I mean, not too cheesy?
The 'this is my true power' thing?


17:43 - Anne: I mean yeah it was super cheesy.
But it's the League.
Cheesy is the whole point.

17:45 - Anne: So?


17:45 - Jacob: So?

17:45 - Anne: C'mon, spill the beans! It's your first day in the League! As your best friend I demand to know everything! 😛

17:45 - Jacob: Uh...it was good?

17:45 - Anne: 🤦‍♀️

17:45 - Jacob: (Set own alias to Cyr)

17:46 - Cyr: Hope you don't mind.
It's easier to think of me as just Cyr.


17:46 - Anne: np
Don't think you're escaping that easy.
What happened to partnering up with a cute guy as your Trainer?


17:46 - Cyr: Oh Arc did I really say that?

17:46 - Anne: <quote>
2 days ago - Jacob: i dunno, some cute guy I guess

17:46 - Cyr: Pls no

17:46 - Anne: <quote>
2 days ago - Jacob: like damien shaw, but as a trainer cos hes in the league this year as a pokemon.
2 days ago - Jacob: i really want to see him in the league.
You should really delete your drunk messages. 😛

17:47 - Cyr: When I'm done with the League and allowed to battle people again
I'm coming for you
Also did you have all those saved just to torment me?


17:47 - Anne: I'll kick your ass any day. 😛
And yes, yes I did. 😛

17:48 - Anne: Seriously though what made you pick Erewen?
Eurwen


17:48 - Cyr: Honestly?

17:50 - Cyr: She spoke to someone who was a complete jerk to her because she flinched when a camera came too close, and she just seemed
sad.

17:51 - Cyr: Turns out she knew nothing about our League before she got here about a week ago.
You know, all the showbiz and stuff.
She seems
I don't know.

17:52 - Cyr: Like she didn't understand battles are fun.
She's really
paranoid.
About battling I mean.


17:53 - Anne: Of course you'd abandon what you joined the League for to make someone else feel better. 😛

17:53 - Cyr: But she's an insanely good trainer.

17:55 - Anne: So...
You know what being endorsed by Brigitte means.
You think you'll go all the way?


17:56 - Cyr: I don't know.

17:56 - Anne: OMA seriously?!

17:56 - Cyr: I said I don't know! 😊

17:56 - Anne: Yeah but coming from you that's about the same as 'damn right I will.' 😛

17:57 - Anne: Is Eurwen really that good?


17:57 - Cyr: Yes.


Anne was a random Ducklett I caught a bit later in the game and basically never used, so she gets to show up here as Cyr's best friend from outside the League. I...probably won't do this with all my random unused Pokemon because holy macaroons I have a lot of them lol!
Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

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  • #28
Steph did steal half of Eurwen's food again - rather more literally than just taking one of the bags for herself this time; she grabbed forkfuls from the pots as Eurwen opened them, and once or twice outright nipped chunks of food off Eurwen's fork (which wasn't exactly hygienic, but neither of them really cared. Steph promised Eurwen she had a very clean mouth when Eurwen pointed it out and she didn't feel like pressing the issue for fear of doing something...unwise? Very tempting?)

They probably only actually got through half the takeout between them before Steph had to leave to work on the footage the five of them had recorded over the course of the day (the one segment she'd already edited to send to the League having been at their request), since even if it was mostly automated and could theoretically be left alone, the automatic systems weren't perfect. And no matter how unconcerned and playful Steph acted - especially around Eurwen - she genuinely was dedicated to her role as their agent.

Eurwen found herself half glad to have some time to think without the Eevee distracting her and half wishing she'd come back.

She left the hotel to get some fresh air and try to think about something other than how pretty Steph was. She hadn't realised that there were entirely new challenges that only became available in the evening and at night - something she'd have to remember for tomorrow - and watching them and focusing on the way the Essence of the participants flowed and shifted went some way to letting her clear her head.

She...hadn't fully realised just how serious Steph had been when she'd said everyone would've seen her and Cyr get recommended by the League analysts. It felt like almost every few minutes someone recognised her, which was bad enough - and then every other person who recognised her came asking her for help with either helping their Pokemon master new moves quickly or mastering new moves quickly themselves, the way she'd trained Cyr to use Rollout.

She wouldn't have minded, but almost all the people asking her for help were people who didn't understand that they needed to train seriously, or who had no idea of even the basics of how Essence worked or (in some cases) couldn't perceive it at all without the crutch of their Pokedexes and the biomonitors on their Pokemon. Then there were the people who tried to register their conversation as a League event so they could film themselves getting her help, which was a smaller proportion than she'd expected but still a noticeable one. And then there were the ones that obviously didn't care about their Pokemon other than as a tool to fame.

She still helped a few, though. The ones who were trying to cope with difficulties that were beyond the knowledge and skill of an inexperienced battler to deal with - Essence blocks from childhood injuries, predominantly, which while some of the people she spoke to knew about none of them knew how to resolve other than resorting to specialists that a) were too expensive for most of them and b) not allowed under League rules anyway.

There was a part of her that said it was stupid of her to do any of this, to make it clear how much she knew about Essence - not just with the other competitors, but with Cyr too. She tried to ignore that part, tried to convince herself that it was fine.

It was a lot easier to convince herself of that when she saw the spark of hope in the eyes of the people she was helping as she showed them how to slowly break down an Essence blockage over the course of a couple of weeks, and the dedication that convinced her they'd actually do it.

With all this, it was properly dark by the time she decided she ought to make her way back, just in case Cyr or Steph (or any of the others, she supposed) wanted to speak to her and plan for tomorrow, since she still wasn't sure that her tablet could connect to the message app that everyone else's Pokedexes used.

She wasn't that surprised to see Julian, Sam and Artie out at night, taking on some of the challenges that had only recently become available.

What she wasn't expecting was that they were losing.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

QuietGuardian

Johto League Champion
🌱Featurer
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Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
1,482
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Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Ground
Wow, this story is quite a find! I'm impressed by how intricate this setting is that you've established (and a little overwhelmed, but I suspect I'll grow more accustomed as this continues), and you've got diverse and engaging characters. I look forward to reading more!
 

llyarden

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  • #30
Hi, and thanks! And yeah it has kinda delved into a treatise of setting lore in places, sorry 'bout that lol!

"Artie, look out!" Sam dived in front of the Scatterbug, shielding her from a blast of Flying Essence that still sent him sprawling and broke what was left of his Essence barrier, and the Pidgey they were facing smirked and pulled back his arms in a mimic of wings to launch another Gust -

Julian punched a button on his Pokedex and the area was filled with holographic red STOP signs and their opponent relaxed, seeing them off with a cocky wave.

"I'm getting really sick of seeing these," Sam grumbled, waving his hand through one as though trying to swat it away as he sat up.

"I'm sorry," Artie said, the same as she had every single time. "I'm just making things harder for you, aren't I?"

"No, it's fine," Julian answered, swiftly. "Let's just...let's just take a quarter hour break, okay? There are more challenges we can try."

He was pretty sure Artie and Sam hadn't yet seen the clip of Behind the Curtain that Steph had sent him, didn't yet know that Eurwen and Cyr had gotten one of the most rousing endorsements it was possible to get on the first day.

He went a different direction to Sam and Artie, deliberately, hoping they thought it was an accident. Once safely out of sight in an alleyway, he leant against the wall, bringing up the message Steph had sent him.

19:28 - S. Emmerson: <link> Looking forward to seeing you do something epic to catch up! 😛

She hadn't meant it cruelly, of course - she didn't know how badly he'd been doing since adding Artie to the team. The Eevee genuinely thought he'd be able to produce an equally-epic shot for her over the coming couple of days.

Right now, he wasn't even sure he could stay in the League.

"Hey."

He jumped. It was almost like he'd magicked Eurwen up by thinking about her.

"Come to gloat?" he asked, bitterly. "Sorry." He knew it was no fault of hers.

"Guess you weren't doing badly for the show, then."

Yeah, he deserved that.

Wait, had she seriously thought they'd been acting? He glanced at her. She seriously had.

...and she'd been watching them get their asses kicked, he realised. Great.

"Why d'you keep doing all these basically-identical challenges the same?" she asked.

"What choice do I have? If we fall behind, everyone else'll get the Story Challenges first." There was that confused look again. He really didn't want to start explaining things to her now. "Story Challenges are the main on-screen narrative of the season. You know, the whole 'ancient history, eight great peaks, mysterious power' thing?"

Eurwen scoffed, anger in her eyes for a moment. "Yeah, real great power." It didn't really seem like she was talking to him, and it wrong-footed him a bit.

"Anyway, point is, get in a Story Challenge early on and you're guaranteed screentime. Get in one after a dozen other people have already done it, chances are they won't bother showing you because the people who got there before you are onto newer, more interesting story elements. If we're not getting our first Badge in the first couple weeks, then our chances of making it big are pretty much gone. Ideally we want to be out of Vanicorde - uh, Aquacorde and Vaniville - by the end of this week. And that means getting Tokens and training up our teams."

Eurwen didn't point out that he'd done neither of those things. He appreciated it.

"And since you can only beat most challenges once, the only ones available to me are the ones that force me to have two Pokemon out, so I can't interchange Sam and Artie to let her gain Essence on challenges Sam could wreck. I have to keep her in play, and the opponents are smart enough to go for her."

"That wasn't...never mind. Why don't you just wait until tomorrow when the day challenges come back? You didn't win all of them already." So she'd figured out how to read the challenge records. He didn't want to check to see how she'd done.

Julian sighed. "Look, the first challenge I did with Artie I lost, even though that one was interchanging with Sam. I figured, y'know, I lost a Token, no big deal. I'd just do another one. We lost that one too. Artie just...isn't strong enough to hold her own, even against one attack, so I have to try to keep an eye on her and Sam and warn Sam if she's in trouble and...I can't. And half the time even if I manage to warn him in time all I do is throw him off, and now Artie thinks she's the sole reason we're losing and I just...I just want to give her a win."

Eurwen's expression softened slightly.

"Look...thanks for letting me vent." It genuinely had helped his clear his head. "But we need to get back to it before we're too tired to think straight." There was one challenge left they still qualified for.

And if he lost, then it would be his final Basic Token, and the end of the League for the three of them.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

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  • #31
Eurwen reached out and put a hand on his arm before Julian could walk off. "Hey."

No matter how much he knew it would probably be a good idea to listen her, he really didn't want to have to. Not right now, not after seeing how well she and Cyr had done. He tried to shrug her off and push past, but she tightened her grip and pushed back. She was a lot stronger than she looked, which was saying something.

"The dist? Get off!"

She didn't. "I let you go and you're just going to do exactly the same thing and lose in exactly the same way."

It was the first time she'd actively reached out to touch any of the four of them. She never minded being close to them - she seemed to like their proximity, even - but they'd always been the ones moving close to her. She'd always seemed...almost scared of reaching out. And as unexpected (and okay, a little embarrassing) as her pinning him like this was, he couldn't help but feel a little grateful that she was worried enough about his progress in the League to get over her reluctance about it.

He didn't stop trying to pull free, but it wasn't like he could say she was wrong. "Yeah, well, what am I meant to do?"

"Pick a challenge you can win and stop trying to fight like Artie's as strong as Sam is. She isn't."

"I haven't been trying to fight like she's as strong as Sam!"

"Yeah, you have."

He paused, confused by how certain she sounded. "What do you mean?"

She sighed. "Not gonna make me grab you again if I let go?"

"No promises," he muttered, though they both knew he didn't really mean it.

Eurwen let him go, pulling out her tablet and scrolling through the available challenges as he rubbed his arm where she'd been holding him. "This one's an easier challenge. Not much reward, but if you just want a win..."

He glanced at it briefly, but he didn't need to look too closely. "Yeah, I don't qualify for it." He hadn't qualified for it even before losing almost all his Tokens trying to win challenges with Artie and Sam.

"You do with my Tokens."

That caught him by surprise, though she spoiled her confident words a moment later. "That is allowed, right? Since we're a group?"

"Uh...yeah, it's allowed even if we weren't a group, but...are you sure? If I lose them, they don't just go back to you, you know."

She gave a small shrug. "To be honest? If you'd been doing this just for your own pride I'd have let you lose and used the Tokens to buy Artie and Sam onto my team if I could. I know there's a rule for that somewhere I read. But if you're trying to give her some confidence, she probably needs that more than Essence anyway."

He smiled, but then his smile turned into a frown as he fully registered she was seriously going to give him her Tokens. "It's still a two-Pokemon challenge. Even if it's easier, I don't know that we can win."

"I watched you battling. You're trying to fight with Artie and Sam like they're two separate Pokemon."

"Uh...yeah? They are."

She ran a hand through her hair. "This would be easier to show than tell, but the League has that stupid rule that you can't train Pokemon that aren't on your team, even though the whole point is that we're in a group." She checked her tablet again, briefly. "Okay, here's an idea. We get some drinks with lots of caffeine to keep us all awake enough to concentrate on tactics, spend a bit practicing, and then the three of you get the win you need to show you you can."

He didn't correct her that it was Artie that needed the win. He might not have wanted to admit it - and he certainly wouldn't have forced the others into battling if they didn't want to - but he needed the win almost as much as they did.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

QuietGuardian

Johto League Champion
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
1,482
Nature
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Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Ground
Wasn't expecting Julian of all people to struggle like this. I'll be interested to hear Eurwen's advice for him! (I'd also say that I hope he pulls through, but given that he's one of the protagonists of this dual run and we haven't even reached the first Gym, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he will.)
 

llyarden

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  • #33
Pfft, yeah, it'd be kinda a short story if half of the duallocke failed in the first town! But yeah while Julian is a good Trainer he's not quite as pragmatic as Eurwen (or experienced with actual Pokemon battles for that matter).

They found Artie before Sam. She tried to pretend she hadn't been crying, and they pretended they hadn't seen her. He told them that they were going to try a 'Kantan tactic' and Eurwen was nice enough to let him pretend he wasn't doing this because he needed her help.

"Okay," she said, once they were all ensconced at a table with caffeinated beverages to suit, "first off, this is probably not very 'Kalosian' or whatever, but...I guess you can add glitter and showboating to taste when you're not facing being kicked out of the League. First off - Artie. You're weaker than Sam," she said, bluntly, "so don't try to keep up with him. Stay behind him, let him handle the brunt of the fighting. You can form Essence Links with your String Shot; you don't need to get in close."

"But if Artie stays too far back she wouldn't be able to draw in any Essence," Julian pointed out. Sure, he couldn't be certain she'd actually seen any footage of his battling and training, but did she seriously think he was that bad a trainer he hadn't thought of - and discounted - something so simple before?

Eurwen either missed or ignored the subtext. "Yeah, you need to figure out a balance point - far enough away to be safe, close enough to take in Essence. That's something you need to work on," she added to Julian, "but for now, probably a third of the way towards the centre of the battle areas is probably good."

"Where the dist did that proportion come from?" Julian complained.

Eurwen shrugged. "Habit." Which was apparently all she felt like saying on the matter, because she carried on. "Sam, similarly, you need to make sure you give Artie the opportunity to stay behind you. 'Cos what was happening before was you were leaving her open and then overextending protecting her, so you couldn't block or dodge the attacks." She looked back to Artie. "In an ideal world, the both of you need to learn to work together like a single Pokemon, not two separate ones, but for now let's just go with getting you some Essence so you can keep up with Sam."

And then she rounded on Julian. "And you need to direct them - properly, not arranging combos beforehand or letting them tell you what they're going to do and pretending you came up with the idea for the show."

Of course this was all his fault.

Better than it being Artie's, though.

"Especially when they're still trying to figure out how to fight without getting in each others' way, they need someone who can see the big picture to tell them what to do. I know you were trying to warn them the challenge I saw you trying," she added, in what might have been an attempt at a conciliatory tone, "but you have to either let them handle things entirely on their own without involving you at all, or take charge. Letting them decide tactics and then interrupting them just makes it harder for them to focus. And it'll only get more difficult when Artie gets strong enough she and Sam are on an equal footing - and especially if you end up with more teammates and they have to all sync up with each other. If you're trying to act like you're in charge but in reality you're just trying to keep up with them, you guys are going to lose."

"You mean if I get as strong as Sam," Artie interjected quietly.

"What do you mean?"

"Look, in case it escaped your attention, I'm not a Fennekin, or a super strong Chespin like Cyr, or a Pikachu like Zeus. I'm just a low-scale Bug."

Julian tried to think of something to say to reassure her, but Eurwen - whether deliberately or not, he wasn't sure - got there first with a bemused expression. "The dist does 'low scale' mean?"

"Is that not a thing in Kanto?" Sam asked. "It's like...a ranking of Pokemon based on how strong they are in general. So at the absolute upper end you have what are called Apexes, really powerful Pokemon, and below them mostly fully-evolved Pokemon, and it goes all the way down to -"

He cut himself off when he realised his mistake, too late. "Me," Artie whispered.

"Are you kidding?" Eurwen sounded genuinely annoyed at the idea. "What idiot thought that was right?"

"It was part of a whole bunch of theories created by a guy called Dr Namba a couple decades ago," Julian explained, "along with a whole lot of other crap like Essence and the power of a Pokemon being purely genetic. The idea was that higher-scale Pokemon, as a species, had less human DNA 'weakening' them, and the absolute strongest Pokemon would be one with 100% pure Pokemon DNA."

Eurwen gave a dry, humourless chuckle. "Pretty sure that one's miles off."

Julian nodded. "Pretty much all his work was discredited - mostly by Professor Sycamore, actually. But the idea of scale stuck around because there's a big body of evidence to support it." He offered a small shrug when he noticed Artie and Sam giving him quizzical looks. "Trevor was my roommate in college. He had a whole module on the history of Pokemon research, and Namba was kind of his bugbear."

"Look." Eurwen was focused back on Artie now. "I don't care what people tell you. You're weak, yes - because you're a level three Pokemon with two evolutions still to go. That's all. Whether you're a Bug-Type or lower on this stupid scale thing has nothing to do with it. You'll get stronger, but you have to give it time.

"Now - the three of you go out there and kick ass."

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
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Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
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He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #34
The challenge Julian had bought into with Eurwen's Tokens pitted them against a Grass-type and a Bug-type. It was easy pickings for Sam - they tried to go for Artie, of course, but she obeyed Eurwen's orders and stayed behind Sam and neither of them even got close to her.

"We did it!" Sam cheered, offering her a high-five.

"You did it," she corrected him quietly. "All I did was make it harder for you."

That was exactly why Julian hadn't told her to use Sam as a shield. Winning by cowering behind someone else was barely any better than losing as far as a confidence boost went - though he did have to admit that Artie was level four now, and a good two-thirds of her advancement had come from this one fight.

"You'll get stronger," Eurwen promised her, with a confidence Julian wished he could've replicated. "Pretty soon you'll be able to protect Sam too."

They managed two more challenges like that, which at least helped them mostly win back the Tokens they'd lost earlier. But even as Artie levelled up again, she just looked more and more miserable, and eventually Julian called it a night.

He sat with Eurwen the next morning, the two of them watching the Scatterbug poke at her cereal. She and Sam had obviously seen the footage from Behind the Curtain by then, which had made things worse - it didn't help that not one of the twenty picks was using a low-scale Bug - and the only reason she'd eaten anything was because Trevor and Zeus had brought her a bowl of cereal and a thoroughly in-depth seminar on why the scale system was nonsense, getting through to her more by volume of words than anything else.

"Look, thanks for the Tokens last night," he said to Eurwen, quietly. "And the help."

"Pretty sure I made things worse telling her not to fight alongside Sam," she admitted.

Julian couldn't quite bring himself to deny it. "At least we're still in the League. I just...need to figure out a way to bring her out of her funk. But, look, if you want the Tokens back...well, I think I spent most of the ones you gave me, but I can give you ones equal in value."

She waved a hand idly. "How much help have you given me since I arrived in Kalos?" she pointed out. Then she paused as a thought evidently struck her. "Actually, I take that back." She pulled out her tablet and scrolled through it for a few moments. "Do you have a...uh, Lesser Bug Token?"

"I think I have, like, five."

She grinned, wolfish. "Mind giving me one?"

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #35
"What are we doing here again?" Artie asked.

"Honestly, I...don't know," Julian admitted. "Eurwen just asked us to be here to watch."

He'd seen Eurwen and Cyr around completing more challenges for at least some of the morning, though they seemed to disappear for periods at a time - to get away from all the people trying to get their attention now they were Brigitte's endorsed team, perhaps. There had certainly been no shortage of people pestering them, which Cyr had taken in his stride and Eurwen...less so. She'd been in a half-dozen battles, mostly against idiots who hadn't thought things through properly and challenged her and Cyr with a Fire- or Flying-type so they could crow about being able to beat Brigitte's endorsed team. Julian suspected she'd somewhat enjoyed getting Cyr to flatten them with his Rollout - which he seemed to get better at controlling every time Julian saw them - but interestingly, she seemed to enjoy the genuine battles against people who wanted to learn far more. Cyr certainly was perfectly happy to hold back against opponents who were usually weaker than he was and let them get a few practice hits in on him.

And now they were back at the same challenge he'd recruited Artie at. Eurwen obviously hadn't invited any of the others - not even Steph (although it was equally possible that Steph just hadn't shown.) It was just her, Cyr and him and his team.

He really hoped Eurwen knew what she was doing.

She and Cyr didn't act oblivious the way he and Sam had, facing the rock as their opponent hopped up onto it. He was probably a little younger than them, with a vibrant red antenna protruding from his forehead that split into two halfway up. "I've come a long way to join the Professor's battle," he pronounced, in a strong, harsh accent. "I've heard of you, but it's going to take more than an impressive reputation to get me on your side."

He could've sworn Eurwen didn't even glance at her Pokedex. "A Caterpie, huh? Well, this is gonna work even better than I'd thought. Go get him, Cyr! Pin him down!"

Julian caught himself before shouting at her and breaking the rules of the League. Had she forgotten the Pokemon in this challenge were below even the level of the starters? He had no idea what level Cyr was by now - nine or ten, maybe? - but there was no way the Bug-Type would be able to stand up to him, type advantage or no. At least she'd asked Cyr to just grab their opponent and not strike him - if she was quick she might be able to get a beanbag on him before his Essence was totally depleted.

Cyr was obviously unsure too, but he obeyed, lashing out with his vines and wrapping them around the younger Pokemon's waist - the Caterpie saw him coming, unsurprisingly, and crouched, Bug Essence shimmering around his hands and feet as he braced himself against the rock - and pulled. And pulled. And pulled. After a few seconds the Chespin was pitting his full strength against the Bug-Type - and Julian wasn't entirely sure he was winning. In fairness, Julian reasoned, the force he was exerting through his Grass Essence must be being significantly reduced by the Caterpie's natural Bug Essence, but still!

Julian glanced at the Essence readout provided to spectators. The Caterpie's Essence was going down, but not nearly as quickly as Julian had originally expected, even considering the type advantage. Eurwen almost strolled over to him. The Caterpie's antenna glowed red and an unpleasant smell drifted towards them, and Julian was definitely glad the holographic screens provided some measure of protection from Essence. Cyr didn't have the luxury of the shields, though, and he almost gagged, surprised, his grip on the Caterpie slackening somewhat.

"You're gonna have to try more than a bad smell to get rid of me, tough guy," Eurwen laughed, apparently unsurprised by the stench, casually tossing a beanbag at the Caterpie and hitting him squarely in the shoulder before he could detach his sticky feet and hands from the rock to dodge.

"Challenge complete! Time out!"

Julian set up an event to request a camera drone come film the second half of the recruitment, since Steph wasn't around with hers, while the others watched the newcomer with somewhere between caution and admiration.

Cyr was the first one to break the silence. "Damn, you're strong," he admitted, with a chuckle, as they walked. If that was what their new teammate could do with next to no training, he certainly wouldn't object to having such a strong partner.

"It's a Caterpie thing," Eurwen explained. "Their joints are incredibly resilient, so they can take a much bigger strain than most people. Using String Shot on their limbs to anchor themselves like that, it can take a massive amount of force to pull them off - especially if that force is coming through Essence that they can naturally disperse, like Grass or Fighting."

Julian noticed Artie had pulled out her Pokedex and was reading the entry on Caterpie. "But...he's even lower-scale than me," she mumbled. "And only level three. And he could almost beat Cyr?"

He decided not to point out that the Caterpie hadn't even come close to actually hurting Cyr, but now he got why Eurwen had wanted the Lesser Bug Token he'd given her - he hadn't bothered using anything beyond the basic Token to recruit Artie, but the challenge had had the option of spending additional Tokens to reduce the pool of opponents for the random selection to be pulled from. It wasn't normally used to deliberately select a low-scale, low-level Pokemon.

He was beginning to see why Brigitte had endorsed her, and it wasn't just for that one Rollout that had been shown on the screen.

"You sure know a lot about my species," the Caterpie pointed out to Eurwen, once Julian was recording the scene with his borrowed drone.

Eurwen grinned, and switched into rapid-fire Kantan.

"Gah, slower! It's been years since I had to think in Kantan!"

"Sorry." She said a few more words in much more carefully-pronounced Kantan before switching back to Kalosian. "So how 'bout it? Wanna join us?"

"Sure thing!"

Eurwen remembered that she was supposed to give him a name before it was obvious she'd forgotten, and felt glad she'd spent some time thinking of names that wouldn't be too absurd. "And for a name...how about Miro?"

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Caterpie, Male, Shield Dust, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #36
Eurwen recruiting Miro had exactly the effect she'd been aiming for. Artie all but dragged Julian and Sam off to another challenge they qualified for once they'd wrapped up the recruitment scene for Miro.

He owed her a million.

He couldn't help but wonder if his gratitude towards Eurwen was what compelled Shauna to come bouncing up to him just after they'd finished a challenge, with a camera drone flitting along behind her. "So I couldn't help but notice," she remarked, as if she hadn't obviously been plotting the scene for the whole time Julian, Sam and Artie had been in the queue and doing the challenge, "that you have a bit of a weakness to Rock. And since you lent some of your Tokens to Eurwen, it seems only fair I lend you some."

"Uh, you know she gave me way more in the first place, right?" Which was probably not the right response given the irritated look Shauna gave him.

"Well, that was nice of her. But we're a group, and I don't need these ones. So that's final." And he'd been in love with her long enough to know that that was indeed final. His Pokedex beeped as she transferred the Tokens to him. "There's a challenge by the lake in Santalune Forest that lets you recruit a Water-type," she added, helpfully. "You need a Water Token to access it, and no matter how much you get your guys to beat up Pokemon here there are some things that need a more..." She smirked, stepping in deliberately closer. "...delicate touch."

Well, the whole 'don't act like a couple on screen' rule had evidently gone out the window. Given that it was Shauna's rule in the first place, Julian wasn't about to complain, even if he had a pretty good feeling why she'd abandoned it.

He got it, of course. Eurwen was hot, and they shared an interest in training and battling, and he could talk to her about stuff he couldn't have talked to Shauna about - his struggles trying to deal with Artie being a prime example - and she was obviously willing to stand up to him in a way that Shauna wouldn't. And he'd probably spent more time with Eurwen than with Shauna - probably off screen as well as on screen - just because of how the challenges had worked out. From a logical standpoint, and knowing her as well as he did, he could see why she was worried.

He just wished Shauna could've learned by now he didn't want to be with anyone but her.

(Also he was pretty sure that hitting on Eurwen would result in him being hunted down by a pissed-off Eevee, so there was that.)

Can you tell I'm not a massive fan of Shauna? 😅 I dunno what it is about her, but I've never really been fond of her character.
Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Caterpie, Male, Shield Dust, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 
Last edited:

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #37
"So how long have you been in Kalos?" Miro asked, as the three of them sat on the coach back to Aquacorde proper.

"Uh...something like six days."

That took him by surprise. "Wow, that little time?" He chuckled. "This must be pretty weird for you, huh?"

"Yeah, that's putting it lightly," Eurwen replied, drily. "And you? I'm guessing you've been in Kalos a bit longer."

"Yeah. My dad was Kantan, my mom Kalosian, so I had dual citizenship. To be honest I don't remember much of Kanto. We left when I was six, when...well, you know."

Cyr didn't know, but judging from the haunted look on Eurwen's face it wouldn't be a good idea to ask.

"I can only really speak Kantan at all because my mom insisted on us speaking it at home at first," Miro admitted. "But as I got older and we got more settled in Kalos, we kind of dropped it."

"So what now?" Cyr asked, deliberately changing the subject. "Are we...doing more challenges, or what?"

Eurwen gave him a grateful smile. "Not quite. To be honest, we're reaching the limit of how much I can train you within the League's restrictions and the equipment we have here, so you're gonna be helping Miro a lot more than training yourself until we get to Santalune. Ideally I'd want to spend some time getting you two used to fighting together, but for the time being it'd probably be better to focus on getting Miro up to your level, and we can take on some of the challenges this evening, see how we do."

She was getting more confident now, even in just the couple of days since they'd met. It was nice to see.

"You two are pretty much perfectly opposite, Essence-wise," she explained to them, once they were back in another courtyard they could train in. "Cyr's Essence is focused mostly on his back and torso and it takes him a lot of effort to push it into his limbs, whereas yours is concentrated on your limbs and it's harder for you to bring it in to your torso."

She started by getting Miro to fire a String Shot at extremely close range onto one of the walls and maintain it - not a tangling shot like Cyr had seen before, but a connection between his hands and the wall, the same way he'd anchored himself when Cyr had tried to pull him, but without any actual contact. It took him a few attempts to keep it intact, with instruction from Eurwen about how best to focus his Essence. "Take a step back, keep the shot active," she instructed. "Once you can do that five times in a row, try firing again from that position and holding it for five seconds, five times. Then another five steps in and out, another five shots, you get the idea."

"Until when?" Miro asked. He was obviously as confused as Cyr had been a couple of days prior at Eurwen's training methods, but he didn't argue as much as Cyr had.

"We can take quarter of an hour on this. I'll be working with Cyr if you want a hand or anything. If you manage to get -" she took five long strides away from the wall "- here and sustain the shot reliably before that, we can move onto something more challenging."

"I thought you said you couldn't train me much more?" Cyr asked, confused, once Miro had started

"Not to use your moves - especially not your Rollout, since League rules mean you can't use moves on me even in training without protection measures we don't have here, and you'd flatten Miro hitting him. But I can get you practicing the same stuff I'm gonna get you to do to work with him as a team."

She broke out one of those batons again and stood behind him, getting him to dodge at her verbal command to let her throw a beanbag past him, and then return to a ready stance for her to hit his shell with the baton - or if he didn't get there in time, for her to hit his limbs; he still couldn't push enough Essence into them to block her hits the way he could withstand them on his shell.

They took a break to go after one of the challenges Eurwen hadn't yet completed after that, well before Miro or Cyr had gotten good at their respective tasks. "Okay, so, obviously, this is a single battle," Eurwen commented as they waited, "so I'm going to start with you, Miro. Get a String Shot in on our opponent and then I'll swap you for Cyr."

"What does being switched feel like?" Miro asked.

"I don't know," Cyr admitted.

They both looked at Eurwen. "Hey, I'm not a Pokemon. Don't look at me!"

The previous contestants finished their battle with a win, and the three of them were beckoned forwards. Since this was the first League challenge since Eurwen had had more than one Pokemon on her team, Cyr and Miro were equipped with discreet devices that amplified the effect of their biomonitors and connected them up to the League's system - Miro's on the small of his back, Cyr on his chest - since transmitting restorative Essence digitally was a little less power-intensive than digitising entire creatures of Essence, and Pokedexes only had the juice to do the former. They were told, very sternly, that it was their responsibility to keep the devices intact and remember to equip them for a challenge.

Their opponent turned out to be a Pikachu, probably the same level as Miro. Eurwen didn't trust Miro's aim enough to get him to try to hamper his Essence generation by targeting his cheek spots, so she had him hit the Pikachu's centre of mass with a String Shot. Unsurprisingly, it didn't hinder the Electric-Type much and he nailed the Caterpie with a Thundershock that took out most of his Essence and left him dazed and woozy.

"Well, time to find out how this system works, I guess - Miro, switch for Cyr!" Eurwen tapped one of the buttons along the edge of her Pokedex with a loud mechanical click, and the Caterpie dissolved into red light which leapt and spread out, crackling like a dozen lightning bolts into devices hidden around the battle area before being reconstituted with a thrumming of energy in the waiting area where Cyr was watching the fight. Another button tap brought the Chespin onto the field in a burst of white light.

"That was less weird than I expected," he remarked, vines spiralling out of his arms.

"Go! Vine Whip!"

The Pikachu got a Thundershock off on Cyr too, but his Grass Essence blocked the blast easily and he responded by taking the Electric-Type's legs out from under him, bringing his other vine down on his opponent's stomach to finish the fight.

"You okay?" he asked Miro, once they were back out of the challenge.

"Yeah, I'll be fine," he nodded. Eurwen had healed him with the League-provided Potions after the battle (which itself had been a rather odd experience, since he was rather more used to transmitted Essence than actually being injected with a Potion.) "Just...not used to my Essence taking such a big hit all at once. At least you took it out slowly when we fought."

Cyr gave an amused smirk. "That wasn't a fight. If I wanted to fight you..." He let a little Rock Essence flow from his back down his arm, not enough to risk actually getting caught in an instinctive Rollout.

"Okay, okay, point taken!" Miro replied hastily, hands raised, but they were both grinning.

"If you're that eager to pick a fight, then you ought to have no problem with me making you go faster when we get back to the training ground," Eurwen remarked.

He shouldn't have said anything.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Caterpie, Male, Shield Dust, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #38
#297546769 begins chat with #3282305350.
Aliases enabled. Default alias used for #3282305350.


17:54 - Cyr: This the right number?

17:54 - Kerr: 🙂
Oh, hold on.

17:55 - Kerr: How do you do the name thing? 🤨


17:56 - Cyr: Chat Settings - Alias

17:57 - Kerr: (Set own alias to Miro)

17:57 - Miro: 👍
Was looking for name 🤦‍♂️


17:57 - Cyr: np
Also we have a chat group if you're interested:
<link>
Also
can I ask you a favour?


17:58 - Miro: 👍

17:59 - Cyr: You saw Artie, right?
The Scatterbug on Julian's team?
Could you
talk to her?
Make her feel more like she belongs in our group?


17:59 - Miro: I can try? 🤷‍♂️
But...why?


18:00 - Cyr: She believes in all the 'scale' stuff.
She thinks
that she won't ever be able to
be strong enough, I guess?
And us telling her she's wrong doesn't help.
But you're the same 'scale' she is.
Maybe she'll listen to you.


18:01 - Miro: I'll try.
But tbh it sounds like there's more than just scale going on there.


Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Caterpie, Male, Shield Dust, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #39
The duo didn't make much progress on their current training objectives that day - Eurwen wasn't surprised, or even disappointed. The techniques she was trying to plan for were a lot more advanced than something anyone could just learn in half a day, and the progress they had made was pretty impressive. Maybe this was what came of them wanting to fight and grow stronger. And they still managed to get through another couple of challenges, even if they didn't make that much progress with Eurwen's own objectives.

They ate dinner with the others - Eurwen did get Julian to send Steph a message to check to see if the Eevee was lurking in her room again, but got a brief response saying that instead she was busy working on editing the first full day's footage, having spent too long the previous day touching up the shot that was used in Behind the Curtain of Cyr's Rollout.

None of the others had seen Steph either; she hadn't been at Julian's challenge where he'd recruited a new teammate, a Water-type Julian had called Kamon, with big blue ears and an equally-blue crest on the top of his head, along with a tail that was evidently the focus of his Essence given how easily he could use it to propel high-power streams of water. He was a total show-off, and much of the evening was occupied with him luring them into games. Eurwen tried to get Cyr and Miro to get back to training, but Cyr stopped her and asked her to at least let Miro play, and she didn't understand why until she noticed Miro making a point of trying to get Artie involved in the game, and relented and let them spend a little while relaxing.

Given the delay, they kept going with the challenges and training late into the night, later than any of the other four teams stayed up, Eurwen maintaining Miro and Cyr's Essence levels high enough from the challenges that they could use the Essence to stave off their tiredness. It was pretty late - and the two Pokemon were pretty worn out - by the time they called it a night and started heading back, but Miro's Essence was beginning to crystallise and shift. She suspected he didn't realise what was going on, and assumed it was just tiredness slowing him down, and she didn't tell him. If he knew he was so close to evolving he'd probably get no sleep at all.

Not that Eurwen got much sleep either. None of them had seen Steph all day, and no matter how much she told herself it was fine, she was worried.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Caterpie, Male, Shield Dust, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
 
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llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
246
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #40
It took a quick call down to reception to get the number of Steph's room - because evidently while her agent was allowed to know where Eurwen was sleeping and even just come in whenever she felt like it, the reverse was not true. The light was still on in her room when Eurwen finally found it, seeping under the door and casting the hallway in a soft illumination, even though it was almost 2am by then. She tapped on the door, gently. "Steph?"

Nothing. She tapped again, a little harder. "Are you in there?"

She'd probably just gone out. Somewhere. In the middle of the night.

And...left something playing on her Pokedex, judging from the faint sounds Eurwen could hear when she pressed her ear to the door.

Eurwen glanced at the door handle. It looked like the same sort that was installed in her door, which she'd checked was a purely mechanical lock. That was good. It meant it wouldn't be destroyed the way an electronically-controlled lock would.

She was being stupid. This wasn't Kanto. It was safe here. There wasn't any reason to be worried just because the Eevee hadn't been around all day - and it wasn't like she had been totally out of contact, since she'd replied to Julian's message.

But the lock clicked open, and she carefully opened the door anyway. "Steph?"

She sighed.

Steph was asleep with her head on the desk, her Pokedex still looping the clip she'd evidently been editing before falling asleep. Eurwen quietly closed the door behind her and tapped the power button on Steph's Pokedex to quiet it down.

She'd seen Steph with some notebooks before, but she hadn't quite realised what Steph was doing with them. But the pages were everywhere now, on almost every available surface, with little drawings and diagrams. She noticed one well-thumbed page that was obviously the work she'd done for the Behind the Curtain roundup featuring Cyr, but it wasn't just Eurwen's footage Steph had been picking through, or even just Eurwen's and Julian's. Trevor, Tierno, Shauna...Eurwen could see notes talking about all of their challenges, all their interactions.

How long had Steph been doing this? She'd already been up when Eurwen had gone down to meet Cyr and Miro for breakfast, and evidently had stayed up longer than almost everyone else too. Had she been doing this for the past couple of days ever since the League had started?

Eurwen carefully cleared some of the notes off the bed, wrapped her arms around the snoozing Eevee woman, and lifted her up gently. She was so light and delicate and soft, and she snuggled sleepily against Eurwen as she carried her over to the bed and tucked her in.

She thought about writing a note, but decided not to. For one thing, the only paper around was Steph's assorted sketches and notes and Eurwen didn't want to ruin any of them, and for another, if she was lucky, Steph would just assume she'd gone to bed on autopilot the night before and had just been too tired to remember it.

And if not...well, she'd cross that bridge when they came to it.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Caterpie, Male, Shield Dust, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Scatterbug, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
 
Last edited:

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