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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
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #61
It didn't calm down by the next day. "A lot of these people are probably at a stalemate," Steph explained, when they had a moment's respite from the attention. "If they don't have many tokens and don't feel confident they can win any of the available challenges, they'll just sit out and hope that a challenge they can do becomes available."

Eurwen was actually glad when they got to move on to the challenge that she and Julian had selected (or rather, that Julian had selected and she'd agreed with) the previous night - although it immediately became apparent that it wasn't just the difficulty of the challenge that had ramped up now they were in the second region.

"In-story, you'll be riding down the same river and under attack from the same Pokemon," the League official presenting the challenge rules explained. "Obviously, we can't actually put the Trainers in a situation where Pokemon are using moves at full power against them, so in reality, there'll be two separate, concurrent challenges - one for Trainers and one for Pokemon. The Pokemon track will be manned by Pokemon using Water-type attacks, while the Trainer track will be armed by individuals with water cannons. Camera and holo drones will display the contestants on the other tracks in real-time, so you'll be able to see each other and Trainers will be able to give commands as normal. Despite the designations, you can choose which challenge each of your Pokemon take, but you must each assign at least one Pokemon to the Pokemon challenge. You'll all be riding on motorised boards, which you'll be able to control with these gloves. These will be concealed for the broadcast, so don't make reference to them or use them too overtly.

"You can move from board to board, and anyone on the Pokemon track can move onto the rocks and cliff-face, but if you spend five seconds or more in the water, or get left behind, it'll count as a failure. Pokemon that fail get a second chance, and will be moved to the Trainer track, but anyone on the Trainer track who fails will be out of the challenge. One person from each team - including yourselves, of course - must complete each of the tracks for that team to win the challenge. Bonus tokens are available on both tracks for collecting physical tokens during the challenge, on the Pokemon track for landing hits on or defeating the attackers, and on the Trainer track - for Trainers only - for deliberately stepping off your board if you are struck by a jet and manage to retain your footing. Your glove will vibrate if this option is available to you"

Eurwen was relieved to note that the League really had recorded her reaction to her neck being touched, because while the others were all fitted with collared harnesses, she was left to attach the collar part on her own. It felt a little uncomfortable against her neck, but it wasn't too bad. "These will keep you upright with your heads above water during the challenge," the official finished. "Also, Ms Emmerson, since this is your groups' first challenge in your second region, this will be your introduction as a Defender. You'll meet them at the end of the challenge, just before it times out."

"Gotcha," Steph nodded, turning to flash Eurwen a grin. "See you at the finish line."

"You have five minutes to assign your Pokemon to the two tracks. Other than that, let your adventure begin."

"So..." Sam was the first to speak once the League official left with Steph. "Thoughts?"

Eurwen paused for a moment, considering. "Shaw and Cyr, you go on the Pokemon track. Miro, you come on our track." Miro and Cyr were used enough to her lack of explanations by now that they didn't protest, though Shaw looked a little more confused. She glanced at Julian. "And you?"

"Well...Sam, it's probably best if you come on the Trainer track too, and Kamon can help with defence on the Pokemon track." Julian drummed his fingers against his leg as he thought through the options aloud. "And then Quacklin' can help deal with the Pokemon on that track from the rocks, and Artie...I guess so things are mostly balanced, you can be on our track?"

"Yeah, um...I'm not that great at swimming," Artie admitted. "So if I fall off, I don't know if I'd be able to find another board. I guess it depends how hard it is to swim against the current."

And that was something that they just didn't know - this wasn't like Vaniville and Aquacorde, where there had been long lines for the challenges. There were few enough people on their second region that none of them had seen anyone trying this challenge before.

"Hmm...maybe it'd be better for you to go on the Pokemon track, then? That way, there'd be a second chance if you do get knocked off and can't get back on a board."

"Maybe, but..."

"I mean, I can keep an eye out and use my vines to pull anyone out who falls in," Cyr offered, with an idle shrug.

"I guess," Artie agreed, a little quietly. "I just...I just don't want to make it harder for you guys."

"Hey, we're a team," Miro interjected. "There's no making it harder or easier for anyone."

Artie smiled slightly, looking over at her fellow Bug-Type. "Thanks, guys."

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Metapod, Male, Shed Skin, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #62
Guess who thought they'd posted a chapter last Wednesday when they totally hadn't? 🤦‍♂️

When the League official had explained that the challenge involved riding on the motorised surfboards, it had sounded as though the boards were just a convenient addition to the challenge to allow contestants to move around more. Fortunately, they were given a few minutes to practice getting the hang of the boards - which made it rapidly apparent that just staying upright on the things was challenging enough even without having anyone actively trying to knock them off.

"This is ridiculous!" Kamon complained, as the current swept him down to the end of the practice course for the third time. "I thought we were supposed to be cool heroes, not drowned rats!"

"I don't know what you're complaining about." Miro flashed him a smirk.

"You have sticky feet!"

"There's not any reason to stay on the same board the whole time, though," Julian pointed out. "There's no reward for it, and I bet the boards won't be able to get too close to each other, so we'll have to change boards anyway just to get the physical tokens. It's not like any of us are going to be dry at the end of this."

"I don't care about being dry," Kamon retorted. "Water-type, remember? I care about not looking stupid."

"And which of the challenges so far has not made us all look stupid running around pretending magic and evil villains exist?" Eurwen just about resisted the urge to point out that Kamon had made himself look stupid during the Boss Challenge anyway.

"Well, you don't have to take part." Despite the fact that as a Fire-type he was probably the least suited for the challenge, Sam was handling his repeated dousings far more calmly than Kamon. "You can sit out if you think it'll make you look too 'stupid.'"

"Dist no! You're not getting rid of me that easy."

"No-one's trying to get rid of you," Julian sighed.

"Maybe we should," Miro grumbled under his breath as the League officials came back to escort them on to the challenge proper.

At least once the challenge started, Kamon stopped complaining and once again started focusing mostly on trying to look good. Given that he lost his balance and slipped off within thirty seconds of being them being released onto the watercourse, he wasn't really succeeding, though he managed to grab one of the tokens as he was swept back towards another board. Steph could probably make it look intentional.

And they were actually going to get to interact with Steph on-screen at last. Finally they would have the option to make sure she got recognised as being part of their group - probably the hardest-working part. It still sucked that no-one would even know who she was.

Eurwen pulled her thoughts away from Steph and back to the present in time to turn and mostly duck a water jet that still caught her on the side, rolling her eyes as she felt her glove vibrate and letting herself slip off in time to grab one of the other tokens as she drifted back towards Miro's board. The Metapod was doing a good job staying on his board, but gluing himself in place did mean he hadn't had much luck grabbing tokens as they went - though Cyr and Quacklin' were more than making up for that on the other course. The Chespin had become the focus of the vast majority of the Water-types they were racing past, but when their attacks were aimed to knock him off the board rather than deplete his Essence, their type advantage was not nearly enough to overcome his Essence. It was only when he tried to jump from board to board that a blast managed to catch him and knock him off-balance - though he still snagged the token he was aiming for with a vine even as he splashed into the water.

Make sure to train Cyr in keeping a barrier up while jumping and doing more than just running in a straight line. If nothing else, the challenge was doing a good job of exposing what she needed to focus on for her Pokemon once they could get into the League's training facility.

"Eurwen!" Miro nodded up towards one of the jets, which was aiming squarely for Julian as he raced towards one of the more valuable tokens. She nodded, steering their board so they were in the way and spinning it so Miro was between Julian and the jet as he summoned his carapace. The jet hit him squarely in the chest, and he grunted as he braced himself, but the blast didn't dislodge him - if anything, the entire board was pushed back against the current by the force of the water. He really was getting strong, probably close to evolving - and she could feel the Essence in the water. If he got struck by another couple of blasts, he might well end up evolving during the challenge.

He didn't. After the ineffectiveness of their attempt to knock him down, the League officials stopped targeting him, which gave them a lot of freedom to rove around collecting tokens, until Artie ended up getting moved to their course about three-quarters of the way down, and Eurwen hopped onto another board to let her stick with Miro.

The challenge wasn't quite over once they reached the end of the course, though - instead, the two courses linked back up, and the group had to climb up a wall to the finish. After dodging the water jets and grabbing tokens, the climb was honestly somewhat relaxing. Cyr and Quacklin' reached the top fastest, of course, followed by Miro using his String Shot to mimic Cyr's vines.

And then when Eurwen reached the top of the climbing wall, a hand reached down to her. "Need a hand?" Steph smirked, from behind her amber mask.

Eurwen tried to suppress a grin, letting Steph help her up - and was a little surprised at how easily she did. She'd never had cause to care before, but Steph's Essence was strong, stronger than any of the Pokemon on either her or Julian's teams - with the possible exception of Quacklin' if he didn't have his blocker on - and she was good at controlling her Essence too.

"I'm Amber," Steph introduced herself - or rather, introduced her Masked Defender persona - as the others made it to the top of the wall. "Professor Sycamore sent me." She gave a little toss of her head that sent her scarf billowing behind her dramatically. "Looking forward to working with you all."

"Challenge complete!" one of the officials declared, as though they really needed to be told.

"You're wet," Steph complained, but that playful tone was back, and there was an excitement in her eyes.

"I did just get blasted into a river," Eurwen retorted.

"Sure you did. You totally didn't allow yourself to get knocked off to get the extra tokens."

"How do you know?"

Steph grinned and stepped closer. "You're the best contestant in the League," she purred softly, "but acting's not your strong point." And before Eurwen could ask if she actually meant that, she slipped away, swishing her tail against Eurwen's legs as she went.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Metapod, Male, Shed Skin, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
 

QuietGuardian

Johto League Champion
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
1,446
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Ground
I continue to be impressed with all the thought you've put into this! Was this challenge based on anything in particular from the game, or was it just something you came up with completely on your own?
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #64
Thanks! 😊 It wasn't particularly based off anything in the game beyond the fact that I ended up with a bunch of Water-types on each save at round about the same time. The original inspiration came from one of the challenges in Raven, which I just kinda took to extremes with adding surfboards and attackers and so on.

"This isn't exactly the most convenient time for the training room to be restricted to second-region competitors," Eurwen complained, as they filed into the lift in the Pokemon Centre again with the sun setting behind them.

"You guys are kinda ahead of the curve in terms of progress," Steph pointed out. "There'll be more time available as the League progresses."

"So what...what are we doing here?" The newest recruit to their team looked a little nervous.

"Well, first I want to see what you're capable of."

"Don't worry," Cyr added. "Eurwen likes making things sound needlessly ominous." He gave a friendly smile. "And let me guess - I'm going to be the target, again."

Kirstin giggled. "You guys are a lot more...relaxed...than you seem on camera." She shuffled a little. "To be honest, I was a little worried you were gonna kick me out of the team after I screwed up the intro."

What a ridiculous reason for someone to lose the opportunity to take part in something so important to everyone in Kalos. "Trust me, I am probably the last person in the whole League to scold anyone for getting confused about what we know on camera and what we don't. Only reason we come out looking vaguely competent is that we have the best agent." Eurwen reached out and tousled Steph's hair, getting a playful growl in response.

"Oh, hey, speaking of which." Miro nodded to the screen in the corner of the lift. "It's us."

Eurwen had no idea when Steph had found the time to edit the scenes in the intervening few hours between the water challenge and now, but she had - as ever - done a masterful job editing their footage. When they'd first met Kirstin, she'd totally forgotten that in the story of the League she'd been travelling with Steph - or rather, Amber - for the past few weeks, and had recognised Eurwen, forcing the group to redo the introductory shot, and it had taken a fair bit of reassurance from Cyr and Steph to convince her that it wasn't totally ruined.

The broadcast company had decided to run primarily with Julian's new teammate, though. "I'm Julian," Julian said on the playback, his voice a little tinny emanating from the small screen - the lift arrived at its destination, but they stayed to watch the rest of the shot. "It's nice to meet you -"

"Haha!" Julian was interrupted by his new teammate. "I'm sure it is! You can call me Lola!"

Even Kirstin shook her head and tutted. "Okay, what is it that's so bad about this?" Eurwen asked. "You were all looking annoyed about it at the time too."

"Making a mistake is one thing," Cyr said, after a couple of moments. "But...letting your Trainer decide on your name is just...that's how it's done. I know it probably sounds stupid, but some Trainers have strong themes - and get sponsored for those themes. Having someone with a totally out-of-place name can ruin it."

Steph nodded. "Interrupting and acting all arrogant like that...you get people like this in the League most years, people who just want the fame for themselves and are fine with getting it through infamy. And most of the time they either get kicked out by their Trainers or ruin the challenge for the whole team. And it's not like her intro was a one-off thing. Every bit of footage I've got of her so far -" she tapped her Pokedex "- she's still just as bad."

"I'm sure Julian can handle it," Eurwen pointed out. "C'mon, we're wasting what little time we have to train."

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Metapod, Male, Shed Skin, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 
Last edited:

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #65
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Kirstin asked, nervously. "I mean, I know these harnesses are supposed to mute Essence so we don't hit too hard, but..."

"With how paranoid the League is about safety?" Eurwen replied. "There's no way they'd allow these if there was even the slightest chance they could go wrong."

"Hey, she knows what she's doing," Cyr said quietly to Kirstin, as Eurwen went to put on her own harness. "And she's not wrong. This is the safest way to train using proper moves."

"Sounds like you've done this before," Miro observed.

"Yeah, I have. Once or twice, my coach managed to get us half an hour with some of these battle suits so I could properly feel what it was like to attack. Well, as 'properly' as you can with your Essence toned down to almost nothing, at least," he added, after a moment's thought.

Across the - now deserted - training room, Eurwen was struggling with her own harness. "They made this look so easy," she grumbled, looking over at the four Pokemon. Supposedly the harnesses were one-size-fits-all, but it certainly didn't seem to be fitting her very well, and every time she adjusted one of the straps to tighten the harness, somehow one of the other straps got looser.

"Wow." Steph was, in all fairness, trying to suppress her giggling, but she wasn't succeeding. "And here ends the challenge of Eurwen Brennan, defeated by a piece of training gear." She stepped closer to Eurwen, lightly using a clawed finger to nudge Eurwen's hand off the strap she was fiddling with. Eurwen sighed, frustratedly, but let Steph take over adjusting the harness.

"I should get you to do this," she retorted. Then she paused. "Actually, can you join in battles and stuff?"

"Nah," Steph replied. "The option to register as an agent was open to humans as well as Pokemon, so as far as the League's rules are concerned, I count as a Trainer. I just don't get to take part in all the challenges. But," she added, "I can use my full Essence in challenges when I'm allowed in in the first place."

"Oh, so we can just sit back and leave it all to you, then?"

Steph scoffed, pulling one of the straps on the harness tight. "Says the person with Essence like a raging inferno?" Her eyes glittered with mischief as Eurwen realised with a jolt that Steph could see Essence too.

Julian could see Essence, she knew - not that he'd ever tried to read her Essence. From what she'd gleaned from him talking, it was taught in some Trainer schools. But she'd seen him reading the Essence of his team, and it took him a lot of focus and concentration. Steph had read her Essence just with a casual touch. And somehow Steph didn't strike her as someone to have gone through any kind of intensive training the way Julian and the others had.

And she couldn't help but remember what Steph had said, almost the first day of the League. She'd seen real fights too.

There was a little part of her that was surprised that her first thought wasn't fear. Fear of discovery, of the realisation that her Essence meant she wasn't like anyone else. But when it was Steph...somehow the foremost thing in her mind was sympathy.

Or perhaps empathy.

Steph's light-hearted grin faded somewhat and she leant closer. "Hey, I won't tell anyone," she murmured softly. "I told you, remember?"

'Because I don't want you to hate me.' Eurwen hadn't ever intended on saying it aloud back then, and she'd tried to brush it off as though she'd never said it at all. But neither of them had even come close to forgetting.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Metapod, Male, Shed Skin, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #66
"Okay, so..." Eurwen paused, looking over the four Pokemon. "First things first...since we have this facility, I want to use it to its full extent. I know you two haven't really had the chance to do any training with me until now," she added, nodding to Shaw and Kirstin, "but for Miro and Cyr, I'm gonna push you guys a lot harder now. Especially since there's apparently this race to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the main progression of the League." She paused, remembering the almost disappointed look Julian had had when she'd told him her plan to get some more training in. "We're still going to train in the morning, same as we always have, but if any of you don't want to do this as well, you can hang around here and train on your own, or go out and explore, meet up with Julian and the others, whatever you want."

"So you haven't been pushing us hard until now?" Miro asked, wryly.

"Not really," Eurwen shrugged. "It's pretty difficult to when the League rules mean you're not allowed to attack me once you're over level 5 without these harnesses."

"Uh, that's kind of to stop us hurting you," Kirstin pointed out.

"Yeah? It's not like I got a choice about whether to have a restriction like that. The League just assumed that every Trainer in the League is an idiot and would get themselves crushed by inviting an attack they couldn't handle."

Eurwen felt a hand on her shoulder, light but firm enough that she paused. "I've got an idea," Steph purred. She'd put on one of the Essence-neutralisation harnesses as well. "If you're worried about the harnesses not working, how about the four of you against me?" She swished her tail, in case any of them had somehow forgotten that she was a Pokemon too. "You don't mind, do you?" she added to Eurwen.

As light and playful as her tone was, her expression was confident, and Eurwen knew that as their agent, Steph had about as much access to the footage and data from their team as Eurwen did. "Sure, go for it."

She had to admit, Kirstin - and to a lesser extent Shaw - definitely seemed less reluctant to spar with Steph than they had Eurwen.

And two things became very rapidly apparent. The first was that Steph had guessed what Eurwen had been planning by getting the four of them to team up against her - and she was better at it than Eurwen was.

The second was that Steph wasn't above showing off.

She wasn't fighting them seriously. But she didn't need to. She was all but dancing between them, slipping like water away from their attacks and even tricking them into hitting each other as they tried to corner her. And although she might not have actively attacked them back all that much, she was more than capable of doing so if she wanted to - as she demonstrated to finish the very one-sided sparring match, ducking under Cyr's vines and sweeping his legs out from under him before strolling back to Eurwen.

She wasn't even breathing hard.

"That..." Cyr panted. "That was not fair."

"No-one said you had to agree," she replied, smirking.

"Steph might be too strong for you four to take on," Eurwen added, "but you lost that easily because you weren't working together. You remember that exercise I was having you two do?" She looked at Cyr and Miro, who looked a little embarrassed when they realised what she was getting at. "Yeah. If you want to win, you need to get practiced enough at working together that you can do it instinctively. Not with planning in advance, or working it out as you go."

"How are we supposed to learn to do that?" Kirstin complained, leaning on Cyr as he helped her up. The sparring harnesses were restoring their depleted Essence, but it wasn't immediate. "We don't have years to train together."

"We don't have the time for you to become good at it," Eurwen admitted. "But we can make sure you do better than...that."

Since they had the training facility to themselves, Eurwen split them up and got them working on some of the accuracy training, setting up - with a little help from Steph - some basic programs for them to work on cooperating without actually needing to work with each other, giving her the opportunity to watch each of their progress in turn. Somewhat as she'd suspected, none of them were that bad at it when they only needed to focus on that one task.

"So..?" Steph purred in her ear, while the others were getting a drink and a quick break. "My debut as your training assistant, huh? How was I?"

"Beautiful," Eurwen answered, before her conscious mind caught up, and Steph's lips curved into a wicked grin as she realised what she'd said.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Metapod, Male, Shed Skin, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #67
Now they'd arrived in Santalune, the next task was to win enough Tokens to challenge the first Gym. It should have been an easy task. And Julian should have been confident that they'd be able to win when they got there. And yet...

"Haha! I can handle this!"

Julian had to resist the urge to scream at her.

Lola's introduction hadn't just been a one-off. If anything, that had been tame by what he was now getting used to as the standards of the Azurill. She wanted to be front and centre in every scene, take on every battle, and had no intention of giving him any suggestion as to what she was going to do, leaving him looking foolish trying to command her. And it wasn't as though he was the only one she was treating badly. Everyone on his team was getting more and more fed up with her. So far they were following his lead, but it wouldn't be long before Kamon at least ran out of patience.

And Julian couldn't entirely say he'd blame him.

"Challenge failed! Time out!"

Julian blinked. In the space of barely five seconds, Lola had managed to lose her balance on the beam they were trying to cross.

"For Arc's sake," Sam growled.

They met a very bedraggled-looking Lola as they filed out of the challenge. He tried to ignore the commiserating expressions of some of the other competitors, the ones who'd chosen Santalune as their first region.

Just apologise for screwing up. We all get that the League is a big deal, but that doesn't mean you get to be the most important.

She didn't. She started to say something, noticed a camera drone and pulled herself up. "Haha! All according to my plan!"

Quacklin' didn't seem to even notice she was there, walking straight towards and past her without breaking his stride - though he paused and turned back slightly just after he'd moved past her. "Deliberately failing a challenge can get you thrown out of the League," he pointed out. "And you just claimed you failed on purpose on camera."

"Well, obviously that's not what I meant!" Lola protested. "I meant in a more general sense! That challenge was...irrelevant! I was concerned with more important things, like the first great peak! We'll have to face it soon, you know."

"We'd be facing it a lot sooner if you hadn't -"

"Forget it, Kamon." Sam's voice was quiet, but firm enough that the Panpour fell silent. "Let's just move on to the next challenge. She's not worth it."

This was exactly what Julian had been afraid of. And the next challenge was one that needed everyone on the team to take part.

"Small world." Julian turned around to see that Eurwen and her team had filed into the queue just behind him. It wasn't as though he was that surprised to see her - this was one of the best ways to get the rare Tokens needed for the first Gym, and it wasn't like there were that many people in Santalune as their second region.

But he really didn't want her to see the state his team was in right now.

"I guess so." He tried to keep his voice cheerful. "How's...Kristin?..settling in?"

"Kirstin," Eurwen corrected him. "I think she's doing okay. The Centre's training facilities make it a lot easier to train properly."

Was that a subtle dig at him having passed over the opportunity? He shook his head slightly. That wasn't Eurwen's style. Outright telling him he'd done the wrong thing, maybe, but not snide comments. Dealing with Lola was making him stressed.

"And the rest of your guys are fine?" He paused, noticing Miro stretching and rolling his shoulders with a wince. "Is he okay?"

Eurwen glanced back briefly before returning her attention to him. "Yeah, he's fine," she replied. And then she put a finger to her lips briefly before adding softly "He's close to evolving again. Hopefully this challenge should do it."

Artie hasn't even evolved once yet. Scatterbug and Caterpie were more or less equivalent, evolutionarily speaking. And he'd even had an extra day with Artie on his team over Eurwen and Miro.

The League officials opening the door to the challenge and beckoning them in put a stop to that conversation, and he cast one last glance back towards Miro and then to Artie before following his team inside.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Metapod, Male, Shed Skin, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

llyarden

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As Julian's rival, Eurwen and the rest of her team had been allowed in to watch the challenge in person, rather than through the video screens outside - something she still found very strange, since it gave whoever went second a significant advantage, but it seemed to be pretty commonplace.

Then again, for this particular challenge, at least, knowledge was not half the battle.

The story was back to the inexplicable 'magic' phenomena that they were using as an explanation for some of the challenges, and in this case the magic in question only worked so long as the hostile Pokemon didn't get to its source. In other words, Julian had to keep one hand on the 'magic artifact' while his team made sure no-one got to him.

Their opponents were wearing Essence blockers that reduced their effective levels down to much lower levels than Julian's team - probably two or three, Eurwen would guess - but the threat didn't come from any one attacker. Rather, the threat came from the sheer number of them; there must have been nearly two dozen attackers, and in many cases after being 'defeated' they moved out of shot, did a quick costume change and came back again. There was one Slugma who Eurwen was sure she saw in four different outfits during the challenge.

But she had to admit, Julian had gotten much better at managing his team in a battle since she'd first seen him battling with Artie and Sam.

He was still leaving them to their own devices more than she did her team, but it seemed to work for them. He was serving much more as an overseer for the battle, focusing on the broad scale and keeping a vague eye on his team and the attackers.

...that was what she'd told him to do, back after he'd first recruited Artie. He'd taken it a bit further than she'd really meant, but at the same time it was kind of flattering.

And though it was harder for his team to have to keep track of each other and their opponents, they were doing pretty well at it.

With one, notable exception.

It wasn't that they weren't trying to work with Lola, per se. They were moving to cover for her, and she was doing the same for them - although when she was competing with Kamon when it came to using Water-type attacks, he vastly outclassed her in terms of power, especially since he actually was a Water-type. But she wasn't integrated into the team the way the other four were, and their teamwork was a lot more clipped, less instinctive. And though at first Eurwen thought it was just her inexperience being part of Julian's team...

"Haha! Is that all you can do?!"

For all her usual resigned acceptance of the showboating that was part and parcel of the League, even Eurwen was starting to get fed up of the Azurill's flamboyance and endless 'haha!'s. And for once it seemed she was the most tolerant out of the whole group. The rest of Julian's team were clearly long since out of patience with her, and Eurwen somewhat suspected they were only working with her because the challenge was being recorded.

But either way, they were winning. The timer on the wall tracking the progress of the 'magic spell' was down to just a few seconds, and none of the attackers had even gotten close to Julian - this was one challenge where numbers were definitely an advantage.

"Hah!" Kamon crowed, firing one last blast of water before drawing himself up proudly. "Now that's how you -"

"Challenge complete! Time out!"

The Panpour was so busy congratulating himself that he hadn't even seen the Vine Whip heading towards his head as the lights flashed dramatically to signal the end of the challenge.

"- do it!" he finished, grinning towards the others, blissfully ignorant of his near-miss. "C'mon, let's go get our Tokens!"

They turned back towards the exit, and none of them even noticed Lola stumble slightly as she recovered from the hit to her Essence.

None of them even looked back at her.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Metapod, Male, Shed Skin, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

SayleeK

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Oh, I am SO glad I finally got to reading this, it's incredible! You've put so much work into crafting the Kalosian League, how gijinka work, and the world going on around them, it's incredible! Steph is easily my favourite, bubbly wee lesbian that she is, but the dynamic between Eurwen and Julian is also super interesting. They're sort of new friends, but also here's Eurwen effortlessly upstaging Julian without even wanting to... and because they're grown adults, they're both very aware of that and trying to be mature about it, with Eurwen really trying not to patronize Julian much and Julian wanting to continue being friendly to Eurwen... I love writing kids but sometimes it's nice to read adults behaving like adults XD Eurwen's training plans, too... damn, you're squeezing so much out of this game before you've even gotten to the first gym!

Eurwen is a Mewtwo gijinka. Thinking about what she was made for, her skill in combat and sensing Essence, being vague about where she stood in relation to Giovanni, getting anxious about people touching her neck... CALLING IT NOW
 

llyarden

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😊 Thanks! Steph is probably my favourite as well tbh (at least at the moment; there are probably a couple character who'll compete with her later on), and I'm glad the dynamic between Julian and Eurwen comes across well.

As for the theory...well, what kind of writer would I be if I went and gave things away? 😛

"You look so cool!" Artie beamed, as Miro finished a celebratory loop-the-loop and fluttered back down to join them.

Just as Eurwen had suspected, Miro had evolved again partway through the challenge when her team had taken it on, and he was now taking a great deal of delight in soaring around on his new wings. She couldn't exactly blame him. Quacklin' might have been a Flying-type, but Miro was the first one on the team to be genuinely able to fly.

The Butterfree still liked showing off just as much as he had the first time he'd evolved, and he was more than content to be the centre of attention as the others admired his new wings. But after a moment, he shifted back from his battle form, blinking as his multifaceted eyes returned to normal, and reached out and put a hand on Artie's shoulder. "Hey, you'll be flying up there with me soon enough."

She smiled, and tilted her head sideways to rest it on his hand for a moment. "I'll beat you in a race when I do," she replied, but despite the competitive edge to her tone the gratitude was clear in her eyes.

"Hey..." Eurwen was distracted from watching them interact by Julian. "Uh, congratulations on Miro evolving and all, but...can I talk to you? Uh...somewhere quieter?"

Somehow Eurwen had a feeling what this was going to be about. "Sure."

Julian bought them each an ice cream while they found somewhere quiet to sit. It wasn't nearly as good at the one Tierno's father had given her. "So...what do you think of Lola so far?"

Eurwen gave a shrug. "I mean, if you're asking if I think she's over the top, I think basically everyone here is over the top."

Julian chuckled slightly. "Yeah, I figured that bit. But...that's honestly not what's bugging me. I mean, it's annoying, but I could deal with the ridiculous acting on camera. But...she's doing it when she's off camera too, when we're trying to work on moves and patterns. She just keeps refusing to work with the others, saying...like, 'I can master any move in an instant! Haha!' I mean, you must have seen it out there. We got lucky that it didn't matter too much in that challenge if a hit or two sneaked through, but...in a challenge where power matters more than speed and spread, if she doesn't work with us and help cover for us...we're not going to be able to rely on her at all."

"You're going to kick her from your team, aren't you?"

Julian sighed. "I don't want to. I mean, I checked, she's never been in the League before, and I don't want her to get all of a couple of days taking part before getting booted. But...at the same time, she's making it hard on everyone, and putting one person's enjoyment ahead of the enjoyment of four others isn't fair." He was quiet for a few moments. "That's...actually why I wanted to talk to you. Could you talk to her?"

Eurwen blinked. "Me?"

"I've tried talking to her already, but she just keeps up with her persona. Maybe someone different talking to her might get it into her head. I'm not saying you absolutely have to make her play ball," he added. "To be honest, I don't know if she even cares about the team. She might have joined just for the notoriety of being kicked out."

"I don't think so," Eurwen said, quietly. She hesitated briefly. "I'll try to talk to her."

Julian smiled. "Thanks." He rested a hand on Eurwen's shoulder briefly as he got up, and she caught herself before letting her head rest on his hand just like Artie had Miro's. "I appreciate it."

Once Julian was gone, Eurwen sighed. She might have been confident that somewhere under all Lola's bluster was a good teammate, but that didn't mean she felt confident in being able to convince Lola of that.

"You got ice cream?" Steph's mock-disappointed complaint caught her by surprise, and she turned to see the Eevee - still with her 'Masked Defender' look, scarf fluttering behind her - approaching. "I was wondering where you snuck off to. So, ice cream's your weakness, huh?"

Almost before Eurwen realised it, Steph's arm was linked in hers as she sat down next to Eurwen, and she could've sworn she heard her purr quietly. "I'll buy you an ice cream..." Eurwen promised, after a few moments. "If you help me with something."

"Why do I get the feeling this isn't going to be a fun something?" Steph groused, but she let Eurwen pull her back to her feet and lead her off towards the ice cream stand anyway.

I really did somehow end up with Miro as a Butterfree while Artie was still a Scatterbug at comparable points in the respective games. I'm still not sure how I did that; I'm sure I didn't cancel her evolving by mistake...
Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

SayleeK

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Oooft, talking to Lola does not sound like a fun time, but Eurwen's still being a great friend by agreeing to do it. And what kind of favour does Steph want, hmmm...?
 

llyarden

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Bleh, I was slightly worried that whole last paragraph looked a bit wonky. It was supposed to be Eurwen asking Steph for a favour, not the other way around. Sorry for any confusion!

As it turned out, Lola's room in the Pokemon Centre was actually next door to Sam's. "What do we do if she's not in?" Steph asked.

"She's in," Eurwen answered simply, reaching out and knocking on the door.

Sure enough, it was answered by Lola shortly after - she opened the door a crack and peered through it over the chain until she realised who it was. "Oh!" She opened the door fully, drawing herself up a little. "What are you guys doing here?"

The Azurill looked very different now. Gone were the tight-fitting clothes and intricate hairdo, and the makeup so thick that she'd almost looked like a mannequin. She was younger than Eurwen had realised, probably closer to Cyr's age than hers. And her eyes were puffy and red.

Eurwen sighed. This was going to suck. "Can we talk?"

Lola obviously found Eurwen rather more imposing than Steph, because she looked to Steph first. "Don't look at me," she shrugged, flicking her tail. "I'm only here because she bribed me with ice cream."

"Um...sure, I guess." She sounded distinctly less arrogant than she had earlier that day, too. "Do you want...tea, or something?"

Eurwen started to shake her head, but Steph cut her off. "That'd be great, thanks."

They sat quietly for a few moments, drinking the tea - it had obviously come from a teabag partway through a long shelf life, but it was palatable enough - before Eurwen spoke again. "So this is what you're like when you're not on camera, huh?"

"What's that meant to mean?"

She was too defensive already. Eurwen tried to backtrack. "Well, you haven't said 'haha!' once yet." She attempted a smile.

It didn't help. "Yeah, it's called a gimmick. Never heard of it?"

"Right now, your gimmick seems to be pissing people off," Eurwen said, bluntly.

Steph put a hand on her leg, gently but pointedly. "Hey -" she murmured, softly, but Lola interrupted her.

"Do you really think I don't KNOW THAT?!"

Eurwen and Steph blinked in surprise at her sudden outburst.

"Look at this," Lola continued, more quietly, but in a tone that was almost...hollow. She tapped - more stabbed at - a button on her Pokedex, and it brought up a holographic screen full of text messages. It took Eurwen a few moments to realise what they were before Lola started reading them out. "'WTF is that Lola chick doing? J should just kick her.' 'I feel sorry for Julian and his team having to put up with that Azurill.' 'Love how no-one's mentioning how Lola screwed up in the-'"

The screen suddenly vanished. Lola tapped at her Pokedex a couple of times, frowning, but it didn't come back on. Steph glanced sideways at Eurwen before returning her attention to the Azurill.

"Look..." Steph sighed, and leant forwards slightly, letting Eurwen take her cup of tea off her hands. "First off, you shouldn't pay attention to everything people say online about you. About half the stuff that's been posted is just straight-up lies."

So Steph had been reading it too. Eurwen wondered what was being said about her.

"You stopped Kamon getting hurt," Eurwen added. Lola gave her a startled look. Evidently she hadn't expected anyone to notice. "The challenge was over, you didn't have to. But you did. That's more who you really are, isn't it? So why...why do all this?"

Lola shook her head slightly. "You wouldn't get it. You're anonymous, and you don't care what people say about you." She nodded to Steph and Eurwen in turn. "And you both look amazing without even trying. But me? I'm too tall, too skinny, my hair's too messy, I'm too freckly, I'm too shy..."

"Who told you all this?" Steph asked, quietly.

"People at my school, who else?" Lola scoffed at their bewildered expressions. "What kind of schools did you two go to?" She shook her head. "Anyway...point is, I was one of the only Pokemon in my class, and one of the favourite lines the bullies had was that I'd never make it into the League because no-one would ever want to put me on TV. I heard them saying that so many times, I just...wanted to prove them wrong. But..." She trailed off for a few moments. "I guess when you hear something often enough and long enough, you start to believe it. So by the time I could actually apply for the League..."

"You thought that you'd only be accepted into the League by being someone other than yourself?"

"...yeah. And...I mean, I thought it was working. You know, not only did I get to join a team, I got to join probably the best team in the League. So I just...kept going." She wrapped her tail around herself nervously. "What happens now? I mean, I can't just...suddenly change on-screen."

"Why not?" Eurwen asked. "It's not like the story is the only thing that matters. I mean, the whole illusion already gets broken whenever we recruit someone, with the beanbags and Tokens."

"If you're that bothered about it, we can always film a little short with you claiming that you were pretending until you'd confirmed that Julian and the others were on the good guys' side," Steph added, with an idle shrug.

"I guess, but..." Lola paused for a few moments. "What if people still just hate me?" she asked, very quietly. "What if I'm not beautiful enough to be on the League?"

Why do you care whether people who've never even met you think you're 'beautiful' at all? Eurwen didn't ask aloud. It was obviously important to Lola, if nothing else. But then a thought came to her, and she gave a slender smile.

"You do realise we're travelling with a celebrity who more or less has a catchphrase of 'everybody is beautiful,' right?"

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

SayleeK

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C'mon, Lola, there's nothing audiences love more than a bit of character development! Get out there and show how you become a true hero! (And of course Eurwen doesn't get how painful high school bullying is, she's had bigger problems--not to negate bullying, it's just definitely not been on her radar XD)
 

llyarden

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Eurwen's relationship with high school bullying is actually a little more complicated than you might think (though goodness knows whether or not it'll ever actually make it into a chapter lol), but yeah she's not really able to understand what's going on with Lola. Nor is Steph for that matter.

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the story! 🎉 And we still haven't got to the first gym...

"So, um...hey, everyone. It's Lola. Um, I guess you already know that, since that's what it says on the stream title. And since there's a camera. Sorry. I'm not good at this.

"Anyway...I wanted to apologise. From all the comments about me I've seen, pretty much everyone already realised I was putting on an act, but...yeah. 'Haha!'" She gave a forced chuckle. "This is the real me. Nervous, quiet...I can only even do this without freaking out because there are people behind the camera encouraging me. And I'm pretty sure they didn't want me to tell you that, but...I'm not going to pretend any more."

"I...I guess part of me knew I was making life harder for everyone. For Julian, for my team...even for all you guys watching this, kind of. But I just...I was scared to stop.

"The truth is..." She paused. "The truth is, I started doing that because ever since I moved into secondary school, people started bullying me. And...the teachers, my parents, they all knew. They just didn't care. Didn't want to rock the boat because the bullies' parents had connections. It was easier to tell me I was just too sensitive. And I guess I was an easy target because I could never find the courage to fight back.

"I'm not trying to say that I had an excuse. I didn't. I wasn't much better than them. I just...want you to understand. I know the people who were bullying me will be watching this. I know some of them have been insulting me in the comments of the videos. Some of them probably doing it right now, in the chat for this stream." Lola paused again, taking a deep breath. "But...all I want to say to you is: I don't care about you. I don't want to care about you any more." She gave a small smile, for the first time since the stream had started. "What I want to say is to all the other people, the ones who laughed at their jokes, or joined in without really thinking about it because that was just what everyone does. Shaw says that a lot of you probably don't even realise how much what you're doing hurts. And...I guess I want to believe him. So...not just the people at my school, not just people at school at all, but anyone out there who joins in with stuff like this because everyone else is and it's harmless...it's not.

"I'm going to keep going with the League. I offered to drop out, but they refused." She gave another small chuckle, more genuine than the last. "And they didn't want me to mention that either, but...I'm not going to hide that people are standing up for me.

"Anyway...thanks for listening."

It wasn't until the camera drone dropped back into Shaw's hand that Lola finally relaxed, sitting down on the grass with a sigh, looking up at the Bunnelby. "How do you do that every day?" she asked.

"Practice, I suppose," he shrugged.

"So..? Did I do okay?"

He sat down opposite her, with a friendly smile. "You did great." She pulled out her Pokedex - it had taken almost an hour of fiddling before she'd realised the battery had somehow come loose the night before - and browsed to the stream. "I thought you were going to stop caring what they thought of you?"

She couldn't exactly say he was wrong, but at the same time...she had to know.

Xx-Kris-xX: Well that happened.

L-Meister: That's gotta take some guts to do that.

Marsoupial: feels like kind of a quick turn around, but thats the League for you i guess.

BB15395: she's actually kinda cute without all the makeup.


Lola couldn't quite stop herself from blushing slightly, even knowing that there was no way of knowing who was behind the anonymous identity or if they even meant it. No-one at school had ever called her cute.

Her mood quickly soured, though.

Tricia<3<3: Oh, please.

Marsoupial: someone ain't convinced.

Tricia<3<3: 1/ I know this girl in real life. Im in her class at school. Her name's Mattie. Shes not bullied, people dont insult her at every opportunity. Shes just an attention seeker, a crybaby.

Xx-Kris-xX: Are you seriously trying to write a thread in a livestream?

Tricia<3<3: 2/ She does this all the time at school as well. The teachers got so fed up with her making up stories that they gave her detention for it when we were fourteen. That's all she's doing now.

L-Meister: Funny how you managed to find this stream quickly enough to troll it if you're so sure she's lying.

Tricia<3<3: 3/ And she's only doing it because no-one liked her last attempt to 'reinvent' herself. Just you watch, in a couple of days she'll change personalities again.


"Don't," Shaw said, quietly, as her fingers hovered over the holographic keyboard. "It's not worth it." She looked back to him. "They'll realise she's the one lying when you prove her wrong."

But apparently someone else had other ideas.

<Anonymous>: So you weren't the 'Tricia<3<3' who posted on this chat group for your school? <link>

Marsoupial: LOL someone got found out.

BB15395: damn

BB15395: thats actually kinda brutal what they were saying there.

BB15395: if she was going through that every day i can kinda see why she'd try to be someone else.

Marsoupial: Hey @Tricia<3<3 you posted all that and then ran?

<Anonymous>: She's still here. Look at the active users.


Lola swiped across the chat, bringing up a separate window.

#5410879976 begins chat with #413444795.
Aliases enabled. Default alias used for #5410879976.


11:36 - Lola: thanks.

11:36 - #413444795: Sorry for dragging something like that up in public.

11:36 - Lola: its okay. Im used to it.

11:37 - Lola: How did you find it so fast?


11:38 - #413444795: It wasn't hard. She had it in her public account history and wasn't even using an alias to post to the stream.

11:39 - Lola: why are you helping me?

11:39 - #413444795: I don't like bullies.


A ping from the stream attracted her attention back to its chat.

Marsoupial: LOL she just deleted it from the group the anon linked. Don't worry, the Holo Caster net never forgets: <link>

Her new friend had apparently been distracted by the new message too, because it took another couple of moments for them to finish their answer to her question.

11:40 - #413444795: That said...

11:40 - #413444795: I suppose also I can sympathise with wanting to be someone else. I wouldn't have the courage to speak to a camera like that.


11:41 - Lola: But you can stand up and confront a bully?

11:41 - #413444795: From behind a Pokedex screen. That takes much less bravery.

11:41 - #413444795: Good luck with the rest of the League, Lola.


Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
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1,566
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
Oh that was just... some blessed online interaction, I love it ❤️
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #76
Heh, thanks! I quite enjoy making fictional bullies get their comeuppance, maybe I should do it more often...

Julian swiped the screen on his Pokedex closed and flopped back onto his bed with a sigh. He hadn't even known Lola's stream was happening until Trevor sent him the link, long after it had finished. He hadn't been able to post anything in support of her - admittedly, it seemed there were other people out there willing to stand up for her, but still, somehow not having been able to help made him feel so much worse how harshly he'd been thinking of her.

There was a knock on his door. He sighed again, got up, and went to answer it.

It was Sam and the others - all of them except Lola. "Hey, sorry to bother you," the Fennekin said. "But, uh...can you do us a favour?"

Julian stood aside to let them into his room - it was a bit cramped with the five of them in there, but it was better than them crowding the corridor. "What is it?"

"Can you...well, distract Lola for us for a couple hours?" Sam drummed his fingers on his leg. "Look, uh...we treated her pretty badly, to be honest," he said, bluntly. "So...we wanted to do something to apologise. Like a surprise 'welcome to the team for real' thing. But she'd notice if we all slipped out with bad excuses, especially since she knows we're not training today."

Julian nodded. "I get it. Yeah, I'll figure something out." He paused for a few moments. "And...thanks." You weren't the only ones who were unfair to her.

It wasn't hard to think of something to do. Once he'd ironed his coat and reattached the shiny golden edging, he made his way over to Lola's room.

He'd already seen her on the stream, it really was remarkable how different she looked now she wasn't trying to put on her arrogant act. Even when she'd come to apologise to him and the others the previous day, she'd still dressed up "Oh, u-um...hi, Julian." Her voice was a little higher-pitched too, more nervous.

"Hey, so...d'you want to come and do some training?"

He couldn't help but smile seeing the way her eyes lit up. "Really? I..." She paused. "I thought you said we weren't going to do any training today, though. Are you sure it's okay?"

"I'm sure. You did kinda miss out until now."

"You mean I refused to join in," she said, quietly.

"Hey, it's okay."

"No, it isn't," she interrupted, her voice firmer. That reminded him more of the way she'd been speaking on camera until now. "I've made everything so hard for you."

So she only felt confident when she was beating herself up. He reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay," he repeated. "I'm not mad at you or anything."

"R-really?" And then suddenly she all but lunged forwards and hugged him tightly for a few moments before letting go just as suddenly and backing off. "Sorry! I just...I was really worried you were going to be angry about it."

"I already told you I'm not," he said, gently.

"I know, I just..." She trailed off.

"C'mon, let's go."

Shauna had always told him he was a terrible liar, but Lola didn't seem to think anything was suspicious. Maybe it was because he was being genuine - he'd already been planning to work with Lola separately to the others to figure out a training style that fitted her.

One thing he'd learned from Eurwen was just how much junk the League had lying around that could be repurposed for training equipment. So far Lola hadn't seemed like much of a physical combatant, which was fine as far as he was concerned, since while - as Eurwen had been reminding everyone since the first day - the League rules didn't preclude Trainers and Pokemon sparring in non-Essence combat, unlike Eurwen he wasn't a hand to hand expert, and besides it would've been doubly pointless trying to spar with Lola when in practice she could just use her tail to attack, and he was pretty sure one hit from her tail would flatten him.

As it was, all he really needed in the way of equipment was a handful of balls he could use as moving targets and a mannequin he set up as a stationary target.

Not everyone trained in the same way. Quacklin' - perhaps because he'd already been through all this once - could be best described as 'professional', and most of the time Julian just left him training on his own, running through elegant, flowing katas with his baton. Kamon was the most flamboyant, squeezing in dramatic twists and poses whenever he could - though, unlike Lola (or rather, unlike how Lola had been acting), not at the expense of the training itself. Julian had quickly found that the best way to handle him was to 'gamify' the training sessions, always giving him specific challenges to strive for that were sufficiently below his capabilities that he could exceed them by ten to twenty percent and feel proud about it without ever realising. Artie was by far the least confident, significantly underestimating herself in a way that meant that the best way to get her to keep up was to keep her distracted and not thinking about how hard she'd been working - but not so distracted that she wasn't focusing on the exercises. Sam was somewhere between Kamon and Quacklin', but confident enough that he could often exhort the others to greater heights - something that Julian couldn't help but feel a little envy about.

Figuring out what kind of training would work best for Lola was the first test. Just from the limited amount of training she'd done with the rest of the team, Julian had a suspicion the Azurill would be somewhere between Kamon and Artie, but it was always worth confirming - plus, it would give her the chance to get more used to actively training before making her start working with the rest of the team.

And hopefully, by the time they were finished, Sam and the others would've finished constructing whatever surprise party they had in mind for her. If Julian was being honest, he couldn't help but feel like he and they needed the fresh start with her just as much as she did them.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

QuietGuardian

Johto League Champion
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
1,446
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Ground
I was thinking that Lola's behavior was leading up to her getting boxed, or possibly kicked from the team as a representation of a death, but I like this outcome much more! Heartwarming to see people stand up in support of who she truly is.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #78
To be honest Lola was kinda earmarked for being boxed just because I wasn't finding her particularly useful, but I ended up keeping her around for a while longer. (And yes, I realised after the fact that in a totally different game I'd ended up with another female Pokemon in the Marill line with Thick Fat who wasn't particularly strong in battle whose name began with L and ended with a. That was not intended lol!)

"SURPRISE!"

Lola took a step back, blinking for a couple of moments, as much to take in the sight before her as to let her eyes adapt to the sudden light as Julian flicked the lights on.

Even knowing that the others had a welcoming party planned for Lola, Julian hadn't quite been sure what to expect. He hadn't quite expected a shower of confetti and a giant 'Welcome To The Taemeam​, Lola!' banner.

"What..." Lola stammered. "What is this?"

"Well, we figured we never really got the chance to say hi to you properly when you first joined," Sam shrugged. "So...this is us making up for it."

"You know I'm supposed to be the one making up for screwing you over, right?" the Azurill asked, quietly. But she couldn't stop herself smiling, and didn't make any move to prevent Kamon putting a hand on her back and gently guiding her over to the table. "Besides...none of you guys got this kind of welcome, did you?"

"Well, no," Kamon admitted. "But that's why this is such a genius idea!" Julian suspected whatever 'this' was was his idea. "Not only is this a 'welcome to the team, Lola' celebration, it's also..." He gave a flamboyant gesture to Quacklin' and Artie, who rotated the banner around so its reverse side was on display. "A 'we're a proper team now' celebration! I mean, okay, technically J could recruit another team member, but, y'know, five is good enough."

"You even spelled this side right, too," Lola quipped, before rapidly backpedalling. "I mean, I know you guys must have done it in a rush while I was training with Julian, I didn't mean -"

"Oh, stop doubting yourself and come have a beer."

Eurwen and Steph were lurking at the edge of the room, next to what must have been the crates of beer. "How did they buy all this stuff?" he asked, fishing a beer for each of them out of the open crate.

"They all pooled together from their winnings from your challenges," Steph answered, with a shrug, before giggling as she saw Julian's shocked expression. "Dude, you're in the top three for challenges completed. You really think they wouldn't have earned anything from it?"

"I guess I never really thought about how much they could get." The monetary rewards from the League weren't allowed to be used to directly aid the challenge...but evidently buying stuff for a party didn't count as aiding the challenge. That was definitely good to know for the future. He rummaged in the crate for a bottle opener, and straightened up to realise that Eurwen and Steph had already opened their own bottles. Steph still had her bottle cap dangling from one of her claws. "Show-offs," he grumbled, tossing the bottle opener over to Sam once he'd opened his own. "So what, you guys are the chaperones?"

"Nah, where's the fun in that?" Steph retorted, flicking the bottle cap off her claw into the bin and wandering over to join the others. Eurwen rolled her eyes, but didn't immediately follow.

"What?" Julian asked, after a moment.

"Nothing." Eurwen didn't say anything for a few moments. "It just...reminds me of when you guys met me for the first time."

"I don't think it was quite the same," Julian pointed out.

She obviously knew what he meant. "I mean, I pretty thoroughly pissed you and Shauna off by waking you two up in the middle of the night."

He couldn't exactly deny that. "What, you wondering if we had a banner stashed away somewhere?"

She laughed. "I wouldn't put it past you guys. But no, I was just meaning...I could never have imagined this ever happening in Kanto. Quiet parties with family, maybe, but...people just letting their guard down around total strangers they'd barely known for a few days..." She trailed off. "Even now, I don't think that would happen."

It was the first time she'd spoken to him about what life had been like in Kanto for her, and he couldn't help but remember what Trevor had told him, the day he'd first met her. He reached out and put an arm around her shoulders, and she leant against him for a few moments.

"Hey, you two just going to lurk over there all day?" Steph called over to them. "If you're gonna be the custodians of the booze, at least bring some over."

Before he could offer to help with the crate, Eurwen picked it up. It wasn't like it was that heavy, but he couldn't help but wonder if he could've stopped her from moving the crate even if he'd tried. He pushed that thought away, returning his attention to his team. "Oh, Arc, they're all gonna be totally hungover tomorrow, aren't they?" Julian groaned.

Eurwen smirked at him. "And you're expecting you won't be?"

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,566
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
Eyyyy, Lola's properly part of the team now! This is so sweet I love it 😭 ❤️
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
223
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #80
Thanks! And yep, Lola is now officially part of the team! And conveniently, just in time for the Bug Gym! (Although I'm not even sure I remembered Fairy resists Bug when I played this originally lol.)

"Why did we register for this today?" Julian groaned.

"Well, you didn't know you were all going to get totally wasted the night before the Gym challenge," Eurwen pointed out.

The revelation that they'd collected enough tokens to register for the first Gym had been intended as a surprise for his team. And it certainly had worked. He just wished it hadn't come as a surprise to him too when the reminder had popped up on his Pokedex that their appointment was that afternoon. He also wished his Pokedex alarm was at least ten times quieter.

"I blame..." Steph slumped down in a chair next to Eurwen. She'd managed to acquire some big, dark sunglasses from somewhere. "I blame you for this." She gestured vaguely at Julian and Eurwen. "Ooh, caffeine." She swiped Eurwen's half-drunk espresso, and frowned at her sunglasses when the motion dislodged them, leaving them dangling from one ear.

"How come you even have a hangover?" Julian asked, sipping at his own coffee with a slight wince. "The others all seem fine." Admittedly, that was after a variety of strong coffees and teas, but even when he'd woken them up they hadn't seemed quite as hungover as Steph - or him, but then he didn't have the luxury of a Pokemon's Essence-enhanced metabolism.

"She did drink you and your team under the table," Eurwen pointed out, reaching over and replacing Steph's sunglasses absently.

Eurwen didn't seem to have even a headache. Because of course she didn't.

"Uh...did you?" Actually remembering what had happened beyond the first hour or so of the prior evening's party was...challenging. He wasn't completely sure how he'd even made it back to his room.

"Damn right I did. A party with beer I don't even have to pay for? Sign me up. But not for...like, at least another month, or something."

Eurwen took pity on her and ordered another espresso.

"Besides," Steph continued, "I don't have to do anything with you guys today. The Gym challenges are all filmed and edited by the League, and my character isn't there either."

"But you will be watching, right?" Eurwen asked. She tried to sound casual.

"Yeah, yeah, I'll come to watch, obviously," the Eevee replied. Even as woozy and headachy as he was, Julian was pretty sure that she'd been planning to go back to her room and sleep off her hangover until Eurwen had asked her that.

"Okay, c'mon, guys." To various disappointed groans, Julian stood up (trying not to wince at his headache twinging as he did), beckoning his team on. "We need to get our briefing about what the Gym challenge is and start figuring out how we're going to take it on."

"I thought the challenge was meant to be a total surprise?" Eurwen asked Steph quietly, as her third espresso arrived.

"Not really," Steph shrugged. "They don't publicise it widely, but you get a few hours to prepare beforehand, and once the first people take on the challenge you're going to know the vague theme anyway. Otherwise everyone would just spend the first few minutes of the challenge sitting around planning, which doesn't look great when it's shown live."

"Wait, this is going to be live?" That was the last thing she wanted to hear. At least when everything was pre-recorded all her stumbles and faltering could be cut out.

Steph took another sip of her coffee and set it down before reaching up and tentatively taking off her sunglasses, blinking and squinting slightly, and swivelling on her chair to face Eurwen. "Gym challenges can be live - some of the first challengers to take on a given badge level, or once you get to the seventh or eighth badges there are usually few enough people and they're all well-known enough that the challenges get covered entirely. Most Gym challenges aren't actually shown live, but they're all still run in the same way, to avoid making it harder for some people than others."

"Do you think our challenge will be live?"

Steph reached out and rested both her hands on one of Eurwen's. Eurwen could still feel the heat from where she'd been holding her cup of espresso. "You'll do great even if it is," she promised, and somehow Eurwen found herself believing her.

Cyr - Chespin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
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
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
 

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