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Written Story Galar Teen The Thorn: A Sword Storylocke

Thread Description
Indefinite hiatus

Epsilon

Queen of Birds
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
192
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
100
Location
I'm not entirely sure
Nature
Docile
Pokémon Type
???
Hello. Welcome to something I said I wouldn't do, but seem to be doing anyway.

The premise of this run is simple enough: each pokemon type in Galar has a 'club' built around it not unlike a real sports team. These clubs have names, supporters and long histories. There is one club, however, that has dwindled to nothingness in recent years. This is the story of how it returns.

Yup, we're going full cheesy sports underdog movie. With a side-helping of shonen anime and family issues. Woo!

This will be a Normal-type mono run.

(Some of you may recall I made a post in the 'Nuzlocke Ideas and Concepts You'd Like to See' thread basically detailing this idea, though that post is no longer 100% accurate).​

1. I can only catch the first encounter that is Normal-type.
2. If it faints, it must be boxed forever.
3. Dupes clause. The dupes clause also applies to dupes of dead mons.
4. I may not use dynamax until my opponent does.
5. Each named section of the Wild Area counts as a new area.
6. All candies are forbidden.

Only the main game will be covered by the playthrough.

Now, onto the actual story:

-Violence
-Language
-Semi-accurate portrayal of football fans
-Adult themes


Time was running out. The girl had barely even begun, and she was already a sweaty mess struggling to keep her breaths straight. She could hear the distant pops of fireworks, which no doubt looked dazzling to the hordes packed into the stadium. If only she could have seen them herself.​

Soon, she thought.

Bag open before her, she reached for her specially-selected essentials. Her make-up kit came first, then her phone, safe in its diamond-studded case. Next were several water bottles, which she paused to check were screwed shut so as not to spill their contents on her bag’s designer leather. It was her favourite bag, after all, in spite of the fact that it was a gift from him.

Something inside her twisted. She imagined he would be all smiles as he took to the pitch, and tried not to think further about how he must have looked basking in the admiration. The public did not know him. Not as she did.

She picked up the last of her chosen items – and hesitated. A woman smiled at her from the middle of a square frame, waves of silvery-white hair cascading to the middle of her back. Aside from the woman’s lighter skin, they were so identical as to be clones; the same hair, the same heart-shaped faces, the same elegant features and the same pale lilac eyes. The girl was grateful for that. Their resemblance was all she had left to cling onto.

Her gaze lingered on this woman heedless of the voices nagging at her to hurry up. What would her mother say of what she had planned? Would she be supportive, or try to prevent it as everyone else did? She did not know. The longer she stared, the more she wished the feelings her mother’s photograph stirred in her were stronger; something, anything other than empty what-ifs. Resigned, she placed her mother’s photograph in her bag with all the delicacy of handling fine china.

She grasped under her bed and pulled out a box, which contained a curly blue wig, a pair of thick sunglasses, brown contact lenses and a black and white chequered scarf. Recalling what a pain it had been to sneak these past the serving staff, she fumbled most of it on as quickly as her trembling fingers would allow. The traces of her mother blurred beneath her disguise. This made her sad, and she supposed that was something.​

She paused to take a final look at her cage, heartbeat so loud it drowned out almost all other sound. These four walls with their sparkly pink paint had been her entire world for too long. How many times had she thumped her head against her bed’s canopy, unable to sleep from the boredom that plagued her mind? No longer. Her hands unlatched her window and she swung her legs out into the night air, muttering a silent prayer of thanks that her home was all one level.

Her feet were hardly on the ground before she was moving. Nerves jangling, she crept through a vast, manicured garden filled with exotic flowers from across the globe. Their beauty would have been captivating to anyone else but her, who was all too eager to get away from them.

Barking. It was close enough to make the girl’s every muscle seize tighter than a wound spring. Temptation screamed at her to run and she almost did, her legs only kept at bay by the reminder that to run would be to ruin all she had waited for. Thus, she instead pulled a Poké Ball from her pocket. She pressed its button and in a flash of light, Ziggy appeared.​

He, too, was a gift, an igglybuff whose eyes were as round as his body. A creature so small and soft was no match for a boltund, but a fight was not what she wanted of him. She pointed towards a tree a few feet to the right, and breathed an inward sigh of relief when Ziggy took the hint, sucking in air to inflate his stretchy body to almost twice its usual size. He floated upwards towards the branch and proceeded to rattle it as hard as he could using the stubs he called arms, which was not much, but enough to send a pair of startled rookidees flying out while squawking loudly.

This done, she returned him to his ball. Practicing that trick away from the prying eyes of the staff had been tedious. It appeared to have paid off, for the barks grew quieter as the tree fell behind her. The boltunds knew her scent; they would not identify her presence as abnormal compared to the sudden noise. Not until she did what she was about to do.​

A pair of towering gates rose up in front of her. From her other pocket she drew a keycard; one of his spares, the loss of which she had been right to assume would go unnoticed among the night’s distractions. The sensation of it sliding through the lock was the most blissful she had ever known. With a sharp creak, the gates swung open and she hurled herself through, rapidly turning around to shut them again before the boltunds could catch up.​

Freedom. There mere notion swelled the girl’s heart to the size of a boulder. It took an equally enormous dose of willpower to keep herself from whooping when she darted through the streets. ​

Midnight struck, and the Cross-Country Express departed Wyndon. It left the raving stadium behind, speeding through hills and fields towards her destiny.

Thanks go out to @Metafiction , @AstroDeath and @Ephemera for looking over the early versions of this.
 
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Uberle

Lur King
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
209
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
1,530
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Fire
Pokédex Entry
Stays in the distortion dimension where no one bothers him
sips tea
Alright lets break this down

So don't know the protag's name but we already know a lot about her
She's from a very rich and very controlling family
Her father is a famous figure who has tried to win her over with gifts
Which did not work
And right now we're in the middle of a Great Escape tm
Already a great opening that sets up plenty of mystery but enough to let us get a glimpse into this girl's life
Looking forward to more
Can't wait to see what she does first with this new freedom
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,187
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, 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
Run free, girl, whoever you are!
 

localhoney

the smooth jazz of bastards
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
280
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Hell yes. You mentioned this in Discord and I was very excited for it.

Big 👀 vibe to see where this unnamed girl goes on her journey to her destiny.
 

Rainbow Robin

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
157
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
102
Location
A secret bunker, just off Route 2, next to Greggs
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
Literally Any
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Fighting
Agreeing with Localhoney on the big keep-watching-this vibe. So, breaking down thoughts...
  • I really, really like it. It gives me kind of a fairytale vibe - obviously the fleeing the evil parent, but in the descriptive language you harken back to classical, old-world fairytale imagery - "fine china," "four walls with sparkly pink paint," and the garden she escapes through bring Beauty and the Beast to mind, and then it strikes midnight as she flees the gilded palace like Cinderella. Was that intentional, because I feel like it absolutely must be. It's brilliantly aligned. Even if it's a coincidence, it's wonderful.
  • I was briefly confused about Igglybuff, as you mentioned you weren't using Isle of Armour Pokemon, but I guess Ziggy is left behind. Perhaps they'll pop up later, perhaps I'm overthinking it. I'm glad to be able to hop on from the beginning!
 

Epsilon

Queen of Birds
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
192
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
100
Location
I'm not entirely sure
Nature
Docile
Pokémon Type
???
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6
@Uberle - Indeed, what shall she do. Thanks!

@SayleeK - Who could she beeeeee. Thanks!

@localhoney - I'm always on Discord one way or another, huh... Thanks!

@Rainbow Robin - You're right, the fairytale/princess-y vibes are intentional for the most part when it comes to our prologue pov character. They may not always be present as we move forward, but she is definitely meant to have some of those overtones and I'm happy someone picked up on them. Also, as I explained on Discord, Ziggy the Igglybuff is the starter! He was bred on one file and transferred to another with help from a friend. I just meant the nuzlocke won't play through the actual expansion. Thanks!

The supermarket was a peaceful place during mornings. Most were at work, so its customers were idle elders content to take their time mulling over cans of baked beans.

It was a peace the woman knew she had shattered when she strode in clad from head to toe in leather, face concealed by her helmet. Caring not an ounce for the other customers’ dirty looks, she whirled through the aisles, a tornado of indifference.

At last she slammed her basket by a till, popping open her visor so that everyone could see the tiredness in her sunken green eyes. These eyes glanced down at the contents of her basket, saw something that made her jaw clench, and looked back up twice as tired as they had been already.

“The League comes around every year, and every year I hate it more.”

The middle-aged man behind the till tried to look sympathetic.

“Cheer up, love,” he said. “It’ll be over as soon as it starts.”

The woman had nothing but grumbles in response to that. It was eggs, of all things, that had prompted her outburst; on the carton label was the grinning face of Galar’s champion, with his ridiculous cape and tacky custom shirt. Evidently the company that produced the eggs was one of his many sponsors, as if he was not sponsored by half the companies in Galar already. When the eggs had disappeared into her bag, she set off from the supermarket at a brusque pace.

The town had a sad, grey look to it, even in sunlight. The buildings leaned against each other like old soldiers, their wounds bandaged by wooden boards. The tune they whistled through their cracks was a lonely one.

She passed a betting shop, which had hung up posters in its windows she could not stand to look at. Outside its doors gathered a group of men, whose cigarette smoke and gruff discussion were sadly much harder to avoid.

“Inferno Blaze will get the most through, I think. They had a good run last season.”

“Not good enough to get ‘em out of Rank Six, though. Everyone’s forgotten about Knuckle Smash.”

“Who cares? Leon’ll destroy whoever gets to him. He’s the only one you should be putting odds on...”

Each name dropped was a blow to her soul, the last one almost a knockout. She faltered for a moment, then forced herself to continue as she did her best to fill her mind with thoughts of cute pokémon before it could ruminate on any of those names further. None of them mattered, she told herself. Nothing mattered.

As she rounded the corner at the street’s end, a group of young boys darted the other way.

“Did you see how cool Leon was?” cried one.

“It was awesome!” chirped another. “His aegislash was all like whoosh, and Raihan was all like no!”

The woman stopped, counted to ten, and breathed. She looked back to watch the boys go. They wore silver polyester shirts with neon green highlights, which were patterned to resemble futuristic suits of armour. The colours of Iron Will. Each shirt was numbered 1.

Glory supporters, huffed the voice of her father from the depths of her mind. Plastic fans who only care about trophies, not supporting their local club.

They’re only children,
she thought as if to argue with this long-gone ghost. And it’s not like they have a local club to support. Or anything worth supporting. If they’re smart, they’ll get the hell out of this town the second they’re old enough...

As so many others had, if the emptiness that pervaded her surroundings was any indication. Every bus stop she saw was deserted. For a moment she thought the food bank ahead was closed, however when she wandered by she saw a bored man drumming his fingers on the counter.

A motorbike with a basket on the back waited for her outside a pharmacy. She placed her bags into the basket and swung her legs over the bike’s sides. The bike made no noise as it was woken from its slumber. Dyna Energy flooded into it and she felt it shudder, but it was not enough. She wanted it to roar, to reverberate off her surroundings and make it sound as though the entire town was crying out in rage, the way she wished she could. The bikes she had worked on with her father would have let her express her feelings. That was something else Macro Cosmos had taken from her.

Rows of terraced houses soon gave way to greenery, bushes hemming her in from both sides. She turned off down a dirt track and dodged puddles until it brought her to a lake. A humble cottage sat looking out over its glistening still waters. She pulled up outside.

Here, the woman craned her head to the sky. A cluster of clouds amassed in a corner, and indeed she felt the wind stirring, its breezy fingers creeping along her spine. She shivered, and uncertain it was solely from the weather, looked across to the hills that loomed only a scant few miles away.

There was nothing but empty fields between these hills and her home, giving her a perfect view of where the hills abruptly became a pair of mountains, each ravaged by spiky points and jagged cliffs that were as unnatural as they were impassable. Wedged between these rocky sentinels were trees, just visible over a stone wall erected around them. The Slumbering Weald.

Simply looking at the Weald was all it took to make her hairs stand on end. It seemed to exist in a different reality than the rest of its surroundings; it was not even noon and yet shadows were trapped between the mountains as though they were holding the night prisoner. The trees were unmoving regardless of what the wind now demanded of them. She could hear the sounds of the town behind her, the cars and the trilling of a lawnmower; from the Weald’s direction there was only silence.

Eager to turn away from it, she opened the door to the cottage. Once inside she placed down her shopping and removed her helmet, soft red curls falling to her shoulders.

“I’m home, Gran.”

A series of yaps answered her, followed by the sound of scampering feet. Bounding towards her was a yamper, tongue lolling from its mouth. She bent down to pet it. “I was only out for ten minutes, Flash. You’re acting like I’ve been gone for days!”

Flash rolled over, exposing his belly to her, and looked up expectantly. She could not help smiling as she gave him the rubs he wanted; her first real smile of the day. Though it was small, she was grateful that he could at least provide her with brief bursts of amusement through her negative haze. “Alright, alright, I’m sorry for abandoning you. It won’t happen again, I promise.”

Satisfied, Flash trotted off. The woman’s smile thinned faster than it had formed. As always, whatever positivity she felt was leeched away by the perpetual black smog that hung over her.

She had received no human reply, so she headed to a spacious room that was more like a library, its walls stuffed full of books on every subject from pokémon to outer space. Her grandmother sat reading in her armchair, which faced the Slumbering Weald through a floor-to-ceiling window. Agnes was there, too, the lazy drampa coiled around her grandmother’s chair and rattling the shelves with her snores.

“I got the shopping like you asked,” the woman called, louder this time. “And I got your pills from the pharmacy, too.”

“Thank you, Sonia,” her grandmother finally replied, looking up and giving her a smile. “Be a dear and put it all away for me, would you?”

Murmuring assent, Sonia proceeded to do just that. The second this was done she headed upstairs to the bomb site she called a bedroom. The curtains were drawn; she could not remember the last time they had been open, nor the last time she had made her bed, or hoovered the carpet. A half-eaten sandwich sat on her bedside table. She could not say how long it had been there, either.

First, she made for a desk in the room and checked the laptop there. An empty inbox greeted her. There was not a part of her that could feign surprise. “So much for those job applications.”

Clothes off, pyjamas on, she crashed onto her bed harder than a meteor. It was only around midday, according to her bedside clock, yet she had no intention of rising again. Her stomach growled in protest, but she did not care enough to do anything about it. Sleep was much more inviting, should she succeed in it. In the world of sleep, she did not have to hear about the League, or feel hunger, or anything.

Her door creaked open. It was her grandmother, wearing a concerned expression that filled Sonia with an all too familiar sense of apprehension. She knew what that look meant.

“When are you going to do something with your life?”

“Don’t start on me, Gran, please. I’m not in the mood.”

“You can’t sit in your bedroom all day!”

These words did not so much strike a nerve within Sonia as drive a bulldozer into it. Her fists balled and it was all she could do to keep herself from snapping back too harshly; “What is there, Gran? There’s no jobs around here, and if by some miracle one does come up I never hear anything back! I’m trying, but I can’t help that everyone who can puts in for them, and they always ask for people with experience I don’t have...”

“Yes, I know.”

“If you know, why do you keep bothering me about it?”

“I’m worried about you, Sonia. I can’t help that.”

“You shouldn’t be. I’ll have to return here to guard those stupid woods eventually, anyway.”

“That might be true, but that’s why you should see the world as much as you can before that time comes. I don’t intend to go anywhere for a while yet.”

Sonia held her tongue. There was much more she could have said, but she knew it would have achieved nothing, so she kept it bottled up inside where it bubbled and boiled and begged to spill over.

It’s not my fault this is where my family belongs. I can’t help that there’s nothing to do. I never wanted my life to end up like this.

The silence stretched on, both women waiting to see who caved to the awkwardness first. It was her grandmother who relented. “I’m going to Dorothy’s for a few hours. You’ll watch the Weald while I’m gone, won’t you?”

“Yeah.”

Sonia struggled to maintain an even tone, but managed enough for her grandmother to leave without further argument. After Sonia heard the front door close, she dragged her pillow over her face and let out a thunderous groan.

If everything was the same as it was ten years ago, it wouldn’t be like this...

Driven by a sudden need to remind herself of those days, she headed to a room at the back of her home, which was full of so much clutter she struggled to open the door. It was mostly antiques; what stood out to her was a chest of drawers shoved at the back. She made her way over and opened it, finding what she was after immediately.

Her hands lifted up a plain polo shirt. It was several sizes too small for her now, its once light beige faded to dull brown. Sewn onto the left breast was the emblem of a blackish-grey Poké Ball shape, the colour matching its cuffs and collar. She turned it over to be greeted by the number 811.

With a sigh, she placed the shirt back where she had found it. Her body felt heavier as she sloped away, enough to make her contemplate returning to her bed to rest. The shirt lingered in her mind, however, and with it came flashes of orange fur. If she closed her eyes she would only see more.

I have to get out of here.

The thought was a match to all that had been building inside her throughout the day. She grabbed her phone and opened its map app. Galar unfolded at her fingertips; the snowy peaks of the Steamdrift Mountains, the abundance of luscious countryside that was the Turfshire Dales, and the tower of High Hammer Castle from where ancient kings had ruled the land. Her eyes were drawn to none of these for more than an instant, going straight to the dark stain in the middle that marred it all.

This craggy desert was where she should go, she knew without second thought. Far away from her ailing town, to that corner everyone told her good people did not belong, but she was certain she would be welcomed with open arms.

After pulling her clothes back on, she flung open her door and made for her bike. Her leg was halfway around it when a shadow fell over her that was not her grandmother’s.

“Endorse me!” demanded a voice she had never heard before.

And here we go.

Long ago in the wilderness of England there lived a girl who liked pokemon a bit too much. "Golly gee I wish pokemon lived in my world!" she cried into the void, probably.

Well 20 years later Game Freak finally delivered an England with pokemon in it, and now that same girl is bored enough to write stories about Poke-England, because...because.

It's not my intention to change all that much about the world SwSh presented us with. There are, however, a few changes to make this variation of the SwSh story work. The notable ones referenced in this chapter are the following:

-Leon is now a Steel-type trainer and his main is his aegislash, not genwunzard. His team will be rewritten accordingly to better fit a Steel user. Eat your heart out, Steven Stone. The boys Sonia saw were wearing replicas of the in-game Steel uniform:

Leon still has his champion uniform, fear not, but it makes sense they'd also sell regular Iron Will uniforms with their star player's number.

-Sonia is now a Normal-type trainer. Her yamper from the games is still around, but he's just a pet. She doesn't have a canon League number, so I gave her 811, which (I think) is goroawase for 平易 ‘heii’ meaning plain/easy/simple. It seemed fitting for a Normal-type representative.

-Hop doesn't exist. I'm just going to get that one out now. As I developed the plot more he became very superficial compared to the other rivals, so I decided to Thanos him entirely. Beyond him, I don't intend to axe anyone from the main base game. Hopefully.

I will add a key of all the uniforms and their corresponding club names to the OP once all are introduced. No, I'm not sorry for how cheesy the club names are.

Do not expect weekly updates! I simply wanted to get this chapter up soon so this run can (hopefully) better establish itself. Thanks again to all those who looked over the early versions of this.
 
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SprungGeoduck

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
120
Caught
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
91
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Electric, Beautiful
>Sonia POV character
well if I wasn't signed up already, I am now

in all seriousness, this chapter has got me even more excited for this run! it's such a different vibe from the prologue - while the prologue has a tinge of hope, Sonia is just... not havin' a good time, huh? Also, the prose is BEAUTIFUL, and the idea of Sonia riding a motorbike is excellent. I really appreciate the use of goroawase for your own characters to mirror SwSh's own use of it. I'm rambling, but yeah, suffice it to say, I'm really excited to see where this goes, especially when our two heroines' worlds collide. Keep it up!
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,187
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, 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
“a tornado of indifference” I love this turn of phrase

“The buildings leaned against each other like old soldiers, their wounds bandaged by wooden boards. The tune they whistled through their cracks was a lonely one. “ Oh this is EXCELLENT, so melancholic, so evocative

SONIA POV! Oh my goodness it’s Sonia POV I love it and am very gay rn for biker Sonia

“I’ll have to return here to guard those stupid woods eventually, anyway.” Oh this is ominous. A family of Forest Guardians? SUPER ominous and interesting, I’m here for it

Okay, I like the conflict that’s being established with how different teams affect their communities and the country at large. Reworking Leon as a steel trainer fits with how wrapped up in Chairman Rose’s business he is, and you can get a LOT of Leon and Sonia’s personal history just from how she responds to even allusions of him… she’s so bitter and depressed I love her
 

Epsilon

Queen of Birds
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
192
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
100
Location
I'm not entirely sure
Nature
Docile
Pokémon Type
???
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
@SprungGeoduck - It's tough to be Sonia, that's for sure. Thanks!

@SayleeK - You know somehow I knew putting Sonia in leather and giving her a bike would go over well. To be fair, I knew exactly what I was doing there also. Thanks!

“My name is Gloria.”

A lie. Gloria knew that uttering her real name would be the verbal equivalent of tossing a grenade. Inwardly she asked herself Gloria? Was that the best you could come up with?

There were probably better names, but she was in no state to think of any. Her backside was numb from riding the Cross-Country Express all night, followed by a Flying Taxi for most of the morning. She was grateful for her sunglasses, knowing that her baggy eyes meant she looked like a pangoro underneath. The wig she could not hide; it was going to need a brush through, or several. Embarrassment stung her cheeks.

Ziggy perched on her shoulder. In a total reversal of his master, the igglybuff was wide awake and shuffling energetically. He peered at the woman they had found and gave an inquisitive squeak. At least in that regard the two newcomers felt the same, for Gloria spoke again; “You’re Sonia Beech, aren’t you?”

The woman continued looking at her as though she had dropped off the moon. Doubt pricked at Gloria, so she continued; “Ten years ago you were endorsed by the Pokémon League’s Normal-type club, Battle Brigade. You made it all the way to the semi-finals, further than anyone from Battle Brigade has reached since. You – you are...”

She looked down at her phone. It displayed a wiki article for Sonia Beech, rather barebones save for an image of Sonia when she had been in her prime. Within it she was no older than Gloria’s fourteen years, clad in a light beige polo shirt and matching shorts. She was mid-stride onto a pitch; the image was too cropped for it to be clear whereabouts. Her teeth were grit in a grimace of determination.

Gloria looked up again at the woman stood before her in the present. Her hair was much the same, if a bit longer. Naturally, she was taller, though Gloria was uncertain she should have looked quite so weary in just her twenties.

“You’re much too young to be from the press,” Sonia said.

“That’s why I need you to endorse me. You’re the only Battle Brigade trainer left with the credibility to do so!”

Sonia’s bewildered look morphed into one of unpromising irritation. “It’s a shame you didn’t research a bit more, because then you’d know Battle Brigade no longer exists. That’s an igglybuff, isn’t it? He’s part Fairy-type. Go try out for Sparkle Dust; they have actual facilities, for one thing.”

“No. I can’t do that.”

“Where’re you from? That’s not a south-western accent. You sound posh.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Wherever it is, you should go back.”

“I can’t do that, either!”

“Well, that’s your problem.”

Sonia turned and headed back into her home. Gloria ran after her, managing to stop herself seconds before she would have collided with the door. She blinked in shock. “Are you serious? I came all this way...”

Outrage burned through her veins and she banged on the door with everything she had, too overcome by emotion to care how it hurt her hand. “You can’t walk off like that! Don’t you want another shot at the League? Or – or something? I can make your club exist again! I can!”

This was not how she had imagined it at all. Sonia was supposed to have been supportive. Ecstatic. Gloria had had it all mapped out in her mind; the silence she received instead simply did not make sense, throwing more fuel onto the fire inside her. “Fine! Fine! I guess you’re just a has-been, is that it?”

Her banging slowed. She waited, and waited, and waited. The silence grew. Her fire reignited and she resumed her fervent assault on Sonia’s door. Again, silence answered her.

Hot, blazing indignation gave way to cold, chilling despair. Tears welled up behind her eyes and she fought to hold them back, only partially succeeding. A lone tear managed to slip free. “I just want to see the world...”

She dragged herself away, a cloud hanging over her almost as bleak as the ones gradually creeping over the sky. She wiped her eyes, thankful that her sunglasses would hide any puffiness from passersby. She did not understand. Why was Sonia so hostile? All she wanted was a stupid slip of paper. It was not fair. For ten years she had endured isolation; was it wrong to want a chance at freedom? Apparently so. She held onto to a thinning strand of hope that Sonia might come running back to her with a changed mind as she reached the town, but she had no such luck.

The town might as well have been on another planet from Wyndon. Its buildings were small and squat where Wyndon’s were huge and towering, streets quiet where Wyndon’s were endlessly noisy and people old where Wyndon had people of every age. Wedgehurst, the town was called. The wiki had been right that Sonia lived there, for all the good that had been.

Gloria remained fascinated by it all, wondering how people could live in such a place, and yet at the same time her nerves were becoming restless. Now, and only now, did it dawn on her exactly how alone she was. She felt exposed, even though no one was paying attention to her. Pulling Ziggy off her shoulder in order to hug him closer offered only mild comfort. What a buffoon she had been to come out this far, she realised, and to have expected Sonia to have treated her any differently from her father or anyone else. They were right about her; she belonged inside. She had only made a fool out of herself trying to prove them wrong.

The Taxi Station was an open area where taxis waited for customers in designated berths. When she had first visited a Taxi Station, she had marvelled at the sight of Galar’s famous taxi-birds, the corviknights, with their glossy metallic feathers and eyes like rubies. This time she hardly spared them a glance.

Ziggy squeaked and prodded her face. A part of her wished she could smile reassuringly at him; the rest knew she did not have it in her. The most she managed was a gentle stroke of his hair. “What am I supposed to do? Sonia was our only chance. Every other club is under Dad’s thumb; he’s got his people all over them, and you know one of them would recognise us.”

She approached the nearest taxi. The corviknight took a look at Ziggy and raised its head to its fullest height. The cabbie patted its neck.

“Easy, girl,” he said, before facing Gloria. “Where you off to, sweetheart?”

“Motostoke, please.”

From there she intended to board the Cross-Country Express back to Wyndon. Once in Wyndon, her father would likely lock her up in their basement for the rest of her meagre existence, and probably chain her to the floor while he was at it. An urge to run struck her, but she knew such a fate was inescapable; she had nowhere else she could go, except into the cab.

They sat there for a minute or two. Gloria was beginning to ask herself if there was a problem, so she wound the window down and poked her head out. She saw the cabbie looking off to the clouds on the horizon.

“Hmm,” he said. “They’re still far away, and nothing bad’s been forecast. Ah, it’ll be fine.”

The cab shuddered as the corviknight unfolded her great black wings. She beat them once and they rose into the air, the cab swaying and rattling Gloria around inside. None of this helped to keep her low mood from sinking even lower. She vowed to slap whoever had decided the best way to travel around Galar was via a metal box dangling from the claws of a large, irritable bird.

Not the view was not somewhat worth it, once they had reached sufficient altitude. Watching the buildings grow smaller was a minor distraction from the fact she was the universe’s biggest idiot – albeit only minor. She stared at them and tried not to think about the various punishments her father would have in store. She contemplated if this would be the last time she saw the sun.

There came a ghastly howl and a gust of wind slammed into the cab with enough force to throw Gloria on her face. Nose smarting, she scrambled back onto her feet and was immediately bowled over again by another gust, this time landing in the seat. She gripped onto it for dear life. The sky outside was a lot darker than it had been a minute ago. When had that happened? She had seen the clouds, but they had still been some distance.

“No!” the cabbie exclaimed, though it was difficult to hear him over the wind. “We don’t want to land here!”

His corviknight let out a squawk that was far too panicked for Gloria’s liking. The cab was really rocking now, tossing her around like a pinball. She made it to a window and glanced out in time to see shadowy trees rising up to swallow them.

There is no escape from THE PLOT FOREST.

So yeah... Sonia is 24 in this. 'Gloria' is 14. Can you guess who Gloria's dad is yet

I made Sonia's last name Beech because I demand the tree theme continue. Demand, I say. I know magnolia is a type of tree but 'Sonia Magnolia' is a bit of a mouthful imo, so Magnolia is the professor's first name here.

As mentioned before in a reply, Ziggy the Igglybuff was bred on one file and traded to my nuzlocke file by fellow user Metafiction. My 'actual' starter was a scorbunny I dropped in the box as soon as possible. I wanted the starter to be something not found in the main game, however the story's version of Galar shall behave as if dlc exclusive pokemon are found on the mainland purely for story purposes. I did not actually use any pokemon from the dlc other than Ziggy.

Ziggy is of course named after David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona, because singing is the wigglytuff line's entire motif. David Bowie does not actually exist in-universe; in-universe Gloria named Ziggy because of the 'igg' sound all his evolutions share.

One day after doesn't count as weekly, shush.
 
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SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
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260
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1,187
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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
“A lie. Gloria knew that uttering her real name would be the verbal equivalent of tossing a grenade.” 👀

I’m really enjoying the team names. Not just the Normal Team, but the Battle Brigade; not just the Fairy Team, but Sparkle Dust. I love it, it’s so snappy!

Oooft, “Gloria”’s dreams being crushed like that HURTS, you can tell how much she threw everything she had and ALL of her hopes into this endorsement

Having her refer to herself as a buffoon just kinda emphasizes what a posh family she comes from :P

Rose’s kid? I guess there aren’t that many canonical mega-rich characters but boy, talk about stakes!

Looks like she doesn’t get to fly away from the plot that easily—into the creepy forest with her!

Honestly with “Gloria” being from a rich, well-connected family, it TOTALLY makes sense for her to have an imported Pokemon not normally available to the local proles. Also naming the wee guy after Ziggy Stardust is excellent and you know that obligates him to be as fabulous as possible
 

localhoney

the smooth jazz of bastards
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
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May 17, 2020
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280
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Miami, FL
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Oh hell yes. Could've sworn I commented on the Sonia update, but it was so nice and punchy, and served as a good foundation to build up the world you're in even if we think we know it via the games.

Def an anti-climactic meeting between our two protags, but it def fits with the vibe you created for Sonia. Just so jaded at this point that she doesn't want to know jack about the track by now. I'm sure "Gloria" falling out of the sky into, presumably, the Weald is going to kick Sonia's ass into high gear to go deal with that problem though, which might be a new glimmer of hope for Gloria.
 

SprungGeoduck

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
120
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Jun 21, 2019
Messages
91
Nature
Timid
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Electric, Beautiful
Wow, that Gloria/Sonia interaction hit like a brick. Just... having her dreams crushed like that. I don't know who's more of a dumbass: Sonia for being the way she is, or Gloria for expecting anything out of that interaction. Still, it really makes this chapter sting, and means "Gloria" is going to have to work a bit harder for what she wants.

ROSE IS HER DAD. Interesting that all the clubs except Battle Brigade are under his thumb, can't wait to see how that'll affect the story!

And, of course, we crash into the Plot Forest. This was a fun chapter, not really a typical start to a nuzlocke story, so I'm very excited to see where we go from here. Keep it up!
 

Epsilon

Queen of Birds
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Team Omega
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
@SayleeK - A fair point about her rich family being able to import pokemon, but really I said that because when this run is set in a world where most people run mono-teams, those background teams need all the variety of pokemon they can get. I'm glad someone likes the club names, 'cause you're going to be seeing them a lot. Thanks!

@localhoney - Gloria doesn't get out of this that easily, and neither does Sonia. Thanks!

@SprungGeoduck - They're both hopelessly dumb. Is there really a such thing as a typical start to a nuzlocke story anymore? Thanks!

Dead. She was dead. This was why she heard no sound, smelled no scents and saw no sights. What had her name been before she died – Gloria? That did not seem right.

Nor did it seem right that her dead fingers were growing aware of metal beneath them. Surely if she were dead, the ability to feel should have left her? Her eyes opened; or at least, she thought they did. When her vision focused, she found herself inside the cab. A numb ache coursed through every inch of her body. Groaning, she struggled towards the window as best she could when her muscles seemed leaden.

A luminous fog enveloped the air, its hold tight and longing. Even the sky above was covered by this blanket of ethereal white. Was this heaven? No, something about it was off, not only that the fog gave off its own light, but the fact there was still nothing; not a rustle of leaves or whiff of damp earth.

She quivered from a chill, the way her body responded to the cold perhaps her best indicator that she were living. Her eyes could just make out the cabbie stood a foot away from her. His corviknight was nursing a wing bent at an angle wings were not supposed to bend. The cabbie saw Gloria and gestured for her not to move. “Stay there!”

His voice was amplified by the lack of other noise. The loudness of it startled her, but she regained her composure enough to ask; “Where are we?”

The cabbie’s answer was cut off as his corviknight hissed to the right. Gloria followed the bird’s gaze. A hulking monstrosity stepped out of the gloom. The weight of its armoured foot shook the earth. Jaws drooled. Claws flexed. The drill in its forehead spun.

A rhydon. Its crimson eyes bored into Gloria’s soul, filling the holes it left with dread as dark as the bottom of the ocean. Ziggy’s soul was seemingly much more resilient, for he puffed his body up and chattered furiously. Gloria caught him and held him close to her chest as she shot from the cab at speed she had never known herself capable of.

Distantly she heard a cry of dismay that may have been the cabbie. Did he try to stop her? It did not matter. Nothing mattered now other than her legs never ceased. Ziggy struggled in her grasp, his protesting squeaks only serving to make her strengthen it.

A building emerged from the fog. It was a concrete oblong, its windows shattered and its roof collapsed. Gloria felt her insides coil into a thousand knots. “Mum?”

She blinked once and the building was gone. The pain it stirred in her only grew, however, and she ran harder than ever to escape from it. This was not heaven. This was the opposite.

All around them the fog closed in, crushing the air, choking it. Demonic wooden talons reached out to grasp at them. Gloria could barely make them out. Her vision was growing blurry, eyelids droopy, feet landing haphazardly, like the fog was devouring her head.

Gloria let out a cry as she tripped, hardly feeling the pain in her dazed state. Her right leg would not move. A root was wrapped around it. Cursing, she tried to pull at the root to no avail.

Unworthy!

A voice. What voice? From where? Her mind. A rich baritone it was, shaking her all the way to her soul.

Unworthy!

It boomed so mightily her skull throbbed from trying to contain it. As she flinched she glimpsed a creature in the fog. It stood on four sturdy legs, a fiery crimson mane blooming around its neck. A wolf. The wolf’s glare exuded fury. Behind it she noticed was a second wolf, this one smaller in stature with a shaggy blue coat. She felt their power in waves of pressure, her body trembling from the effort of enduring them.

Unworthy!

More fog billowed out from behind the wolves, absorbing them, the pressure of their presence mercifully receding. Pokémon emerged in their place; lithe liepards, weezings with tall smokestacks and linoones that snapped and sneered. She could barely focus on them, or the igglybuff frantically tugging at her. Hands gripping her head, she curled up.

Unworthy! Unworthy!

A shadow dropped out of the sky and landed between her and the pokémon. Its serpentine shape unfurled to reveal that it was a drampa. Astride its back was none other than Sonia Beech, teeth bared in a grimace exactly like the one in her photograph from years ago.

Her drampa growled at the wild pokémon, who backed up, eyeing it with uncertainty. One liepard pounced and was swatted away for its brashness.

“Away with you!” Sonia declared, looking the pokémon right in the eyes. “Go on! Get out of here!”

Were Gloria more coherent, she might have thought Sonia mad for yelling at a group of territorial pokémon. To her amazement, though, the wild pokémon began to slink back into the shadows with their tails between their legs.

Sonia waited a minute after the last pokémon disappeared, then jumped off her drampa and landed in front of Gloria. “Were you alone?”

Gloria’s jaw floundered, words difficult to find. “Cabbie. I don’t know where...”

Every direction was the same, and her mind was too clouded. Fortunately, though, Sonia’s drampa sniffed the air and growled in confirmation. Sonia seized Gloria’s arm, dragging her along as the drampa took off. Ziggy perched on Gloria’s shoulder.

By sheer miracle, they found both the cabbie and his corviknight alive, though so was the rhydon. There were scratches all down its arms. The corviknight was breathing hard, her functional wing visibly wavering as she kept it held out to shield the cabbie, who swayed where he stood.

“Finish it, Agnes!” Sonia commanded, making a sweeping motion towards the rhydon.

Her drampa lunged at the rhydon, bringing its claws across the behemoth’s face in a similar motion to the one Sonia had made. The claws were of such sharpness they carved deep gouges into the rhydon’s rock hard skin. Agnes got right up in the rhydon’s face, opening its jaws to reveal white hot fire building in its throat. The rhydon took the hint and retreated back into the fog, the sounds of its massive stomps quickly disappearing.

The cabbie breathed a sigh of relief. Sonia turned to her drampa and pointed towards the cab. “Help with that, Agnes, there's a good girl.” Her tone remained firm.

Agnes extended her feathery wings and flew over to the cab. She lifted up one side, while the corviknight took the other. Gloria, Ziggy, Sonia and the cabbie all piled within. The cabbie seemed pale, but Gloria was having trouble remembering exactly how he had looked when she had seen him last.

Howling wind brought Gloria’s mind back to reality. Outside the forest, rain fell from the sky like sword strokes. The sky was so black one could be forgiven for thinking it was night.

Confusion overtook her. In the forest she had felt no rain. She looked back at the forest and swore she saw rain everywhere but its trees. The trees did not bend to the wind as the world around them did. It was as though the forest had been frozen in time.

They sat the cab down in the field by Sonia’s house. The instant Sonia’s feet touched the ground next to the cabbie’s, she rounded on him with anger that made the storm look meek. “You! Why the hell were you flying over the Weald? You should know how dangerous it is!”

“I didn’t mean to!” cried the cabbie. “This weather came out of nowhere and blew us off-course!”

“Idiot! Can’t believe they hire the likes of you!”

“How was I supposed to know it’d be this bad? Nothing like this was forecast!”

Gloria felt sorry for the thoroughly subdued cabbie, who turned away, returned his corviknight to her ball and made a phone call. Minutes later another cabbie arrived on the back of a different corviknight to move the cab back in the direction of the Taxi Station.

Gloria was left alone with Sonia.

“It had to be you, didn’t it?” Sonia said, looking every bit as fed up as she sounded.

Gloria did not answer. Sonia glanced up at the sky. “They won’t be flying any taxis until this passes. Goodness knows when it will. The weather’s been strange lately...”

“I don’t have anywhere to go.”

Sonia screwed her eyes shut, making a strained sound and massaging her forehead.

“Alright,” she sighed. “You can stay with me, but you better be gone the second the sky clears.”

They returned their pokemon before entering Sonia's home. It was the smallest building Gloria had ever been in; you could have fit the main hallway into her Wyndon home ten times over. Gloria wondered how anyone could live in such cramped conditions. She stood there in silence, shuffling.

“Are you okay?” asked Sonia. “You weren’t hurt or anything?”

“No, just scared out of my mind. How can you live next to that place?”

“Family business. We’ve lived here for years, long before the town was built. It’s our job to stop people from trespassing into the Weald and getting themselves killed. Most who go into that forest don’t come back.”

“How did you even find me? What if something comes after us?”

“I didn’t; Agnes did. The Weald may reject humans, but pokémon seem to treat it like it’s any other forest. And they won’t. Nothing ever leaves the Weald. Why, what did you see?”

“I saw pokémon, like big wolves, but not lycanrocs or anything like that. I don’t know what kind they were.”

“Huh.”

Sonia appeared to be deep in thought, but this was the last state Gloria wanted to be in.

“I’m tired,” she said. “Is there anywhere I can lie down?”

“Spare room’s the last door upstairs on your right.”

Gloria thanked her. So immense was the weight of exhaustion bearing down on her body, she registered no details of the room, her eyes closed before her head had hit the pillow.


***​
Sonia flopped back on her own bed. She could have groaned out her lungs. There was a cosmic prank being played on her and she wanted to know what she had done to deserve it.

Going into the Weald was never a pleasant experience, and that Gloria girl simply added to her uneasiness. As the girl had climbed back into the taxi, Sonia had noticed her blue hair askew to reveal silvery-white hair beneath. Then there was what she had said about the wolves.

“It couldn’t be...”

Paranoia chewed on Sonia’s nerves like a colony of durants. Something was happening, something she had been swept up in no matter how much she wished to deny it. Like it or not, she had to get to the bottom of what this was. She flicked her phone onto a twenty-four-hour news livestream courtesy of Macro Cosmos TV. It buffered through a story about a new shopping centre in Motostoke, then finally gained a decent signal.

“In other news, police are continuing to search for Aria Rose, daughter of the Macro Cosmos chairman, Arjuna Rose...”

Sonia jerked upwards so sharply it was a wonder she did not get whiplash. The silvery-white hair. The heart-shaped face. The elegant features.

It was her.

“Aria, pictured here, was last seen at the Rose family estate in the Galladesbridge district of Wyndon. Police are urging anyone who might have information to come forward...”

The bolt of confusion that shocked Sonia was so powerful it short-circuited her brain. Had she been a computer, smoke would have leaked from her ears and her eyes would have turned to bluescreens. Minutes may have passed before thought returned to her. It did so in the form of a question:

What was the daughter of the League chairman doing asking her for an endorsement?

Dun dun duuuuuuun.

Or not. I never intended the identity of Aria's father to be a huge mystery.



Aria's name fits the planty theme of SwSh's names (see here), and works as a reference to the wigglytuff line's singing motif. It's also ended up being an unintentional reference to Meleotta, a Normal-type mythical whose default form is her 'Aria Forme', so there you are. Super Normal. Never mind that I originally planned this as a Flying-type run.

Galladesbridge is a reference to the Knightsbridge district of the real London.

Drampa has wings, I think.
 
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SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
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Jul 1, 2019
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1,187
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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
Okay, so this Slumbering Weald is spooky af—creepy visions? That Snow White evil tree shit? SPOOKY

Kind of a dick move of Gloria to run off without the cabbie like that tbh, thank god for Sonia

Don’t be so judgy about people’s homes, Gloria—who are you, Chloe? :P

Aria! Hah, fitting given that she uses an Igglybuff XD
 

localhoney

the smooth jazz of bastards
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
280
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
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he/him
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Electric, Poison
Nor did it seem right that her dead fingers were growing aware of metal beneath them. Surely if she were dead, the ability to feel should have left her? Her eyes opened; or at least, she thought they did. When her vision focused, she found herself inside the cab. A numb ache coursed through every inch of her body. Groaning, she struggled towards the window as best she could when her muscles seemed leaden.
Love this excerpt. Really sets up the Weald's atmosphere before Gloria's even gotten to see it for herself. Moody, spooky, I approve.
It boomed so mightily her skull throbbed from trying to contain it. As she flinched she glimpsed a creature in the fog. It stood on four sturdy legs, a fiery crimson mane blooming around its neck. A wolf. The wolf’s glare exuded fury. Behind it she noticed was a second wolf, this one smaller in stature with a shaggy blue coat. She felt their power in waves of pressure, her body trembling from the effort of enduring them.
This is another great excerpt! It's like the wolves carry the atmosphere of the Weald with them with the way you've described them, it's so cool to see them be imposing and unnerving (as they should be).
Confusion overtook her. In the forest she had felt no rain. She looked back at the forest and swore she saw rain everywhere but its trees. The trees did not bend to the wind as the world around them did. It was as though the forest had been frozen in time.
Interesting! I'm excited to see some more of the lore behind the Weald, although I'm sure that's a ways away. This also made me think of Percy Jackson and Camp Halfblood, so that's a plus as well.
“In other news, police are continuing to search for Aria Rose, daughter of the Macro Cosmos chairman, Arjuna Rose...”
ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Regigigas has a better ring to it in my opinion
Sonia jerked upwards so sharply it was a wonder she did not get whiplash. The silvery-white hair. The heart-shaped face. The elegant features.

It was her.
Did not think Sonia would figure her out this quickly, but falling from the sky is not great for a wig. Am excited to see the conflict and tension early on, rather than having it be a well-kept secret for a while.
 

Tookie

The Immoral Bard
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
80
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
1,077
Location
Southern England
Nature
Lax
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Pokédex Entry
This user does not exist. All impressions to the contrary are propaganda pieces and not to be trusted.
hoo boy this is such a relatable Sonia, I love her already

and oh boy do i love the atmosphere and fleshing out you've given Galar so far, it's beautiful

poor one out for the poor cabbie tho :(
 

Epsilon

Queen of Birds
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
192
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Jun 30, 2019
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100
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I'm not entirely sure
Nature
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
@SayleeK - Well, there's lots of reasons Aria's unworthy. Cut her a little bit of slack, though; a hostile rhydon would be absolutely terrifying to a non-trainer, and it's not like she could have helped the cabbie anyway. Thanks!

@localhoney - I didn't want to drag out Aria's true identity too much when it comes to certain characters such as Sonia. Mostly I just didn't want to spend half the story calling her Gloria. Thanks!

@Tookie - The cabbie was fine, maybe a bit shaken by the trippiness the Weald does to people, but he'll live to fly another day. Thanks!

Back and forth Aria’s tiny body sailed through the air. She sat upon a chair, infant hands gripping tightly to chains binding it to a metal frame.

“Higher!” she cheered.

Laughter rang from behind her. She kicked her legs out as she did indeed begin to fly higher and higher above a world of slides and climbing frames. Her flight gradually slowed to a stop. Strong arms scooped her out of the seat, bringing her up to the level of her father’s face. It was a clean-shaven, unwrinkled face, the sight of which never failed to make her young self feel safer.

“Let’s have a rest,” he said. “Any more and you’ll be sick.”

“She’s really growing, isn’t she, Arjuna? Feels like only yesterday we came home from the hospital.”

Aria’s mother sat on a nearby bench. Her silvery-white hair caught the light and made her being seem to shine. Aria’s father looked from his daughter to his wife and he, too, appeared brighter. “I know. She looks so much like you already.”

Her mother smiled, which was the prettiest sight in the world. It faded when a ringtone chimed out of her pocket. “Oh, what is it this time...”

“The lab again?”

“Oleana can’t do anything by herself. Honestly, it's rather a pain.” She answered the call and stepped away, back turned.

“Do you want ice cream, Aria?” Aria’s father asked her.

Aria’s response was load of excitable babble. Her father laughed again. “I should’ve known the answer to that one!”

“Arjuna, I have to go.”

Her mother had returned. Her father looked hurt. “What, why? This is our family time!”

“I know, but they need my help. I can’t ignore them when we’re this close to a breakthrough. A Galar powered by Dyna Energy may not be a dream after all!”

“I just promised Aria ice cream...”

Aria’s mother planted a kiss on her forehead, then on her father’s lips. “Greg’s on his way to pick me up. I’ll be back soon, so keep some for me.”

Her words became quieter towards the end. Her image was fading, the world around them becoming so bright it was soon impossible to see.

Aria awoke with a start. “Mum!”

No one answered her. She fell back against a pillow that was not her own. Awareness slowly returned to her. Aria, yes, that was her name. It had only been a dream, but the gist of it she knew to be true, and that was enough to leave her aching inside.

I should have done something. What could I have done, though? No, that’s not an excuse. I should still have stopped her...

Where had the memory come from? She rubbed her temples as if this could push out an answer. A vision came to her: the ruined building she had glimpsed in the forest. It was the forest that had done it, that had reached into her mind with its crooked branches and pulled out things she had long buried to escape the pain. An urge to burn the forest down flared within her, but died as quickly as it formed.

After a moment, she dredged up the strength to rise and get her bearings. The room was sparse, a fine layer of dust coating the few pieces of furniture there were. It was a far cry from her bedroom back in Wyndon. A mirror showed her that falling asleep in her wig had been a mistake, as it now resembled a toilet brush. She tried to smooth it out with her hands.

Aria dragged herself out of bed with legs that felt full of sand. She found Sonia in some kind of library looking out at that accursed forest. Agnes the Drampa was free from her ball again and asleep by a chair. A yamper sat by Sonia’s feet that barked at Aria the instant she set foot in the room. Sonia shushed her dog, gave him a gentle pet, then approached Aria.

“You must be hungry,” said the woman. “What kind of sandwich do you like?”

“Err, ham.”

Sonia disappeared into her kitchen. Aria found another chair in a corner and settled there while she waited, trying to ignore the window and the forest beyond it. She decided to release Ziggy. The igglybuff looked at his surroundings with clear puzzlement. Across the room, the yamper barked. Ziggy turned in the yamper’s direction and puffed up, making a threatening-sounding hum. The yamper crept closer, body close to the ground as he growled. Aria pulled Ziggy towards herself. “Stop it, Ziggy. We’re not here to fight!”

Sonia entered, then, sandwich in hand, along with a tray of pokémon food that was presumably Ziggy’s.

“Enough, Flash,” she ordered the yamper.

Flash backed away and went to sit by Agnes. Ziggy deflated, but continued to glare in Flash’s direction. Sonia handed Aria the sandwich and set the tray down for Ziggy.

“Thanks,” Aria murmured.

“Yeah, I’d feel bad hauling you to the police station on an empty stomach.”

Aria nearly dropped her sandwich.

“What?” she exclaimed.

“Keep eating, ‘Gloria’. It’s a long way to Wyndon from here.”

Aria’s blood ran colder than a winter river. “You can’t!”

“We’ll see about that.”

“No, no, you can’t! You don’t understand!”

At the sound of Aria’s distress Ziggy sprang away from his food and landed on a chair arm, chattering angrily at Sonia. This time Aria did not try to stop him, not even when Flash began growling once more. Sonia held a hand out to stop Flash, but did not take her eyes off Aria.

“Enlighten me, then. Who are you really?”

Lie, cried a voice in Aria’s head, but what use would that be? Her first attempt had failed, and though her mind scrambled desperately to conjure up alternate lies, it produced nothing. Truth was all she had remaining, whether she liked it or not.

“I’m Aria Rose,” she said, almost murmuring. “I guess I don’t need to tell you who my dad is. My dad, he refused to let me get an endorsement to take the Gym Challenge. He never lets me do anything. I asked him over and over and he just wouldn’t!”

“So why the hell did you come to me, of all people?”

“I told you already: you’re the last Battle Brigade trainer anyone’s ever heard of. Battle Brigade might not exist anymore, but you’re still a trainer who made it past the first four gyms, and I know any trainer who does that can endorse future challengers. Ziggy’s part-Normal, so finding you made sense already just from that. There’s also the fact pretty much all successful challengers belong to specific clubs, and my dad controls those clubs. He wouldn’t let anyone from them give me a chance.”

“Except me, because without Battle Brigade I’m no longer directly connected to the League at all. I see how it is.”

All the humiliation Aria had experienced after Sonia’s initial rejection came rushing back to her. She shrank further into herself, unable to meet Sonia’s eyes, and before she knew it the floodgates were open and more words were spilling from her mouth; “I know it was a stupid idea. You don’t have to tell me. I just wanted to do something by myself for once. To go outside, see the world, make new friends – that’s all I want! My dad keeps me locked down like I’m a prisoner. The times he does let me out he always sends an army of staff with me. I don’t have any friends my own age!”

“Don’t you have school?”

“I’m homeschooled.” She saw Sonia’s eyebrows narrow and decided to spare herself more shame by pre-empting what she expected Sonia to say next; “Yeah, I’m an idiot. I don’t know why I thought something this crazy would work.”

She anticipated Sonia would berate her further anyway, only nothing came. Sonia’s irritation was gone, replaced by something between thoughtfulness and outright bafflement.

“What was your plan?” asked Sonia. “Get two gyms in and then pull off your wig like ‘hi, it’s me’?”

“Kinda, yeah. I left a note saying not to worry about me...”

"Fucking hell. I never asked for any of this. You know, I could easily think you’re lying, just trying to manipulate me and all that, ‘cause if you really are Arjuna Rose’s daughter then it’s coded into your DNA.”

Despite Aria’s animosity towards her father, something bristled at that insult. Oblivious to the way Aria frowned, Sonia continued; “But I see the state of your igglybuff. Tell me, how long have you had him?”

“About a year and a half, I think.”

“That seems right. Normal-types are naturally placid, and I’ve never known Fairy-types to display the aggression your igglybuff has. It’s obvious how pent-up he is. Any longer in the conditions you describe and he’s going to wreck your mansion. Pokémon are more than mere pets – you’d think the chairman of the League would know this. They live to fight. Even my Gran has to take Flash out to fight wilds every now and again.”

Panic rose in Aria, whose mind was overrun by images of her precious boy being snatched away from her. Her arms wrapped around him protectively. “I don’t want to release him. He’s all I’ve got; if I lost him I’d lose my mind!”

“I know. That’s not going to happen.”

Though Aria was relieved at this, she remained in her defensive posture, eyeing Sonia warily as she dared to wonder what the older woman would do next. The number of lines on Sonia’s forehead had increased and she was grinding her teeth. Aria glanced in the direction of the door, contemplating making a run for it, but her thought process was interrupted when Sonia let out an exasperated sigh.

“I must be out of my mind to say this, but last night’s exhibition match marked the beginning of the League’s official ‘training period’. That means we have three months to shape you into something vaguely resembling a real challenger. Go get me your bag.”

Aria stared for a good moment before Sonia’s words sank in. Even then, she did not believe them. She stared, she blinked, and then finally she obeyed, placing Ziggy on her shoulder before she ran to get her bag. Sonia took her bag from her with visible disapproval, as though it were cheap.

“Yeah, this is no good. It’s far too small. What were you thinking?” She rummaged around inside, shaking her head. “There’s not nearly enough here. Not even remotely. This wouldn’t last you a week!”

“I thought I’d be able to buy more along the way...”

“There’s no shops in the middle of the bloody wilderness! You think you can order takeaway halfway up a mountain? And what’s this; a make-up kit? When you’re out there caked in dirt and sweat, your make-up is the last thing you’re gonna care about! Trust me on that one!”

She withdrew the photograph of Aria’s mother. Aria’s heart stopped. Sonia looked at it for a second or two, then put it back in the bag.

“You have to be willing to put the work in, understand? The Gym Challenge is not something anyone can do. There’s a reason endorsements exist; they’re for those who’ve proven that not only are they potentially great trainers, but they have the physical capability to trek across Galar. People and pokémon have died out there. It’s not a morning stroll!”

“Alright, I get it!” A pause, and then hopefulness rose within Aria. “You’ll really endorse me, though?”

“No; I might if you show me you can actually get your act together. For the next three months you’re gonna train and train and train exactly how I say. We start in an hour. Eat your food.”

Not a whole lot to say about this one. I worry Sonia's agreement to help Aria might have seemed a bit fast, but hopefully it will make more sense when we return to her pov in future chapters.

It's not clear if Rose is the chairman's first name or surname, given the near-total lack of surnames in Pokemon, but I went with surname here. I made his first name Arjuna, which is keeping to the planty names in SwSh (see here). It also creates a theme with Aria as both names begin with 'Ar'. If the Crown Tundra dlc gives him a canon first name or surname now I will scream. Her mother's actual name will be revealed soon.
 
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SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,187
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, 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
Sonia as the grudging but fierce mentor for Aria? I'm here for it. And curious as to what her beef with Chairman Rose is, or what exactly happened to Aria's mother...
 

Epsilon

Queen of Birds
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
192
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
100
Location
I'm not entirely sure
Nature
Docile
Pokémon Type
???
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
@SayleeK - 'Grudging' being the optimal word. Thanks!

Much to Aria’s relief, the storm had subsided, a curious sun beginning to peek out from behind the clouds as though wondering if it was safe. Sonia left Agnes to guard the Weald and took Aria across town on foot. Aria kept her disguise on, but even so she remained painfully conscious of the scrutinising frowns shot at them by passersby.

“People are looking,” she said.

“It’s not you. They’re thinking ‘oh, there’s Maggie’s useless granddaughter again, all she does is ride her bike in circles’. I’m used to it. Just ignore them...”

Aria felt bad for Sonia, hearing that, but she did not know what to say.

Sonia brought her to a grassy hill overlooking the town. There lay a building unlike any Aria had ever seen; a castle, albeit not one nearly as fearsome and elaborate as High Hammer. Hewn from limestone, it appeared to be rectangular, square towers slumped at each corner. The entrance was a gatehouse, greenish gunk leaking out of its slits as though it had been weeping. From the top, a flagpole leaned sad and naked.

A bronze statue stood in front of the gatehouse that depicted a man riding a drampa. They were the only aspects of the castle with some spirit left in them, the drampa’s wings spread wide, while the man appeared to be cheering, both arms raised and hands clenched into fists. He wore an indistinct League kit, plus a long coat and a flat cap. Engraved into the back of his coat was an emblem consisting of a shield with a sword across it.

The Crest of Champions.

Sonia guided her through the gatehouse and into an open area. Several rotting wooden stands were placed against the walls. In the centre was what might have once been a battling arena divided into different terrains to suit the various pokémon types; Aria had seen League battles online, so she knew what those were supposed to look like. This was much worse. Its pool of water was stagnant and brown, while grass had overgrown wildly over the rest. A few rocky pillars jutted from the grass, but they were the only remaining features.

Aria had never been anywhere so run-down. She curled her nose at the stench rising from the pool.

“Where are we?”

“Welcome to Vanguard Hill, the old Battle Brigade gym.”

“What? But it’s –”

“No sprawling stadium? This is how every gym looked before your dad came along with his fat wads of dosh.”

Sonia walked towards the arena. Aria remained where she was, face scrunched at the thought of setting foot on that disgusting cesspool. Sonia looked back at her with clear annoyance. “Are we doing this?”

“Do we have to train here? You had a perfectly good field next to your house!”

“The longer you take, the more likely I am to come to my senses!”

Inhaling deeply, Aria followed her onto the arena. There was mud all over her beautiful shoes within two steps. She recoiled at the utter inconceivable awfulness of this, questioning the wisdom of what she was doing more than ever. It was enough to make her consider running home right there and then.

Sonia managed to distract her, however, by drawing a Poké Ball from her jacket and holding it out for her to see. “How do you think you should throw a Poké Ball?”

“I don’t know?”

“The way you throw your ball is one of the most important parts of being a trainer; with your throw you decide exactly when, where and how your pokémon will enter the field, all of which matters when it comes to the places your pokémon will have the advantage. Watch this.”

She dropped the ball. Her foot came up to meet it and blasted it like a missile. It ricocheted off one of the rock pillars, hit another and flew further into the air. The ball exploded in a burst of intense white light. The light took the shape of a squinty-eyed beast sporting a belly the size of a car. The beast landed so heavily Aria felt the vibrations in her bones. A snorlax. The snorlax gave a rumbling sound as it rose, but it saw all the grass around it and became distracted.

“Well, what do you know?” remarked Sonia, though her face remained impassive. “You really do never forget these things. That trick puts real speed behind your ball and gets your pokémon out where you want them fast before your opponent can start putting their strategies into motion. It even helps to disorientate your opponents for a second, because no one ever expects you to kick your ball. Worry about picking the ball up again later. They’ll probably have one of their staff get it for you, anyway. Are you right-handed or left-handed?”

“Right.”

“You’re probably right-footed, then, so give it a go. Don't worry, it won't damage your shoe.”

Aria held up Ziggy’s ball. She let it drop, brought her leg up to meet it – and promptly missed. The ball clattered to the ground and released a confused-looking igglybuff. Aria sank.

“It’s fine,” said Sonia. “It took me forever to figure it out to begin with. We can keep trying.”

After two more failures, Aria was on the verge of storming back to Sonia’s house when her foot met its mark. Her ball’s flight was erratic and aimless compared to Sonia’s, but at least it flew.

“Not bad. Let’s keep going.”

They practiced many more times after that. Aria’s leg reached the point where it felt like it was about to fall off, however she had achieved as many successful kicks as she had misses.

“Alright. You’re getting the hang of it, kind of, so I guess we can move on for the time being. Rudy, come over here, boy!”

The snorlax looked up from shovelling grass into his maw. Aria’s nerves began to crackle as his enormous frame loomed over her, not helped by the fact it was difficult to tell where he was looking.

“Does your igglybuff know any moves?”

“Err, no. He’s never fought in a battle before. You’re not seriously going to make him fight your snorlax, are you?”

“Not properly, obviously. It’s better to practice with a live target than a pretend one, and Rudy won’t feel a thing. Let’s try and teach Ziggy to use Pound. Rudy, be good.”

Rudy simply stood there. Aria swallowed. “Okay. Err, Pound!”

Aria pointed at Rudy. Ziggy blinked, then charged at the snorlax while howling a war cry that probably would have been impressive if not for his tiny, high-pitched lungs. He collided with Rudy’s leg and proceeded to unleash a flurry of punches. Rudy scratched his head at the sight of this angry balloon.

“Wow,” said Sonia. “At least your igglybuff being so aggressive means that it won’t be hard to teach him to fight. That’s not quite how Pound should look, though. You’re probably going to have to show him. Like, I don’t know, this.” She lurched forward in a half belly flop gesture. “Do this and make it clear to him that this is ‘Pound’. Remember to speak firmly.”

Aria pulled Ziggy away from Rudy. “Enough, Ziggy!”

Ziggy did as he was told, mercifully. Aria released him and straightened. “Pound.” She mimicked the almost belly flop Sonia had done. Ziggy tilted his head. Aria did it again, earning the same response. Her third go was considerably more frustrated. “Pound!”

Realisation clicked behind Ziggy’s eyes. He began to copy her motions, flopping onto the ground a few times.

“Good, now point at Rudy and say it!” urged Sonia.

“Pound!”

Ziggy charged at Rudy as he had before, only this time he threw himself forward in a manner like she had shown him. As he did, his body glowed with soft pink light, which Aria realised was him using some inherent power to make his body heavier, so his opponent might actually feel it. He bounced off the snorlax’s tremendous belly and rolled back to Aria’s feet.

They spent hours after that practicing the same attack. Rudy ended up lying down to sleep, oblivious to the mouthy igglybuff repeatedly throwing himself against him.

The sky was beginning to bleed orange by the time they left the gym. Aria was more than ready to rest, though there was something she was inquisitive about:

“Whose statue is that?”

“That’s Jackie Mitchell, the last Battle Brigade champion. He held the title for five years after he won back in the fifties – with the help of Agnes, of course. Yeah, that’s the same drampa who lives with Gran and me now. Most pokémon species don’t live longer than thirty years, but drampa can live for hundreds. Agnes has been part of Battle Brigade for at least a century. She’s a local hero, just like Jackie. Now look at the state they’re in.”

Once again Aria did not know what to say. Sonia’s gaze was looking off somewhere too far for Aria to see. “Ten years ago I made it to the semi-finals, which earned Battle Brigade enough points to set us among the Main Eight. I didn’t have it in me to become the new leader, so Jackie kept leading us like he had ever since he became champ. He was old by then, though, and his health was failing. Combined with the fact that we couldn’t get many trainers past the first three gyms, Battle Brigade plummeted down the ranks again. We had pretty much no support.”

“Why?”

“The League was changing and we couldn’t change with it; it was becoming all about sponsors and big telly deals, and no one wanted to give funding to a club whose type is known for the fact it doesn’t do anything fancy. The Normal-type, right? Emphasis on normal. Why care about us when there’s pokémon that can create fire twisters and move boulders just by thinking about it?”

“Oh.”

“Then, the biggest blow, Jackie passed away. His family left what remained of Battle Brigade with Gran and me, but by that point the only thing left was the name. That was the end of it.”

Her gaze was suddenly sharp as she turned it fully to Aria. “I know the gym doesn’t look like much to you. It’s not much anymore. Wasn’t any point in trying to maintain it after the team went bust. But it’s still as much a part of Battle Brigade as anything. It’s where I trained before my challenge, and so did everyone else who has ever worn the beige and grey. It’s where, thousands of years ago, trainers who had mastered the Normal-type chose to gather and so the club was formed. To answer your question, yes, we do have to train here. Damn it, you're making me sound like I still care about this shit...”

With these words spoken, Sonia set off. As Aria stood there watching, she heard something tumble down in the gym behind her, likely part of a stand.

“What am I doing?” she muttered to herself.

She had no answer. Ziggy sensed her mood and hugged her leg.

When they returned to Sonia’s home, Sonia insisted Aria follow her into her garage. Sonia had no car, so the garage was full of old clutter. Sonia made for a particularly large pile and began rummaging around in it. “I’ve shown you the basics, but tomorrow your real training begins. You need to train every bit as much as Ziggy does, and that daft disguise of yours isn’t going to cut it.”

She emerged from the pile holding an open face motorbike helmet that must have been from the mid twentieth century, probably around the time Jackie Mitchell was champion. In her other hand she brandished a pair of dark riding goggles. She dunked the helmet onto Aria’s head. “From now on, you wear that.”

Aria flung the helmet back off immediately. “Are you joking? This’ll mess up my hair, not to mention my make-up!”

“I already told you once you’re out there you won’t give a shit about your make-up. And what hair? Your real hair is under that wig, anyway. It’s either you wear this, or the risk of being caught is far too high. Is that what you want?”

“Can I even get away with wearing this helmet for the challenge?”

“Sure. Plenty of people these days customise their kits; it helps to stand out, create a brand image, you know, all that shite. I read up on it, and last year this lad from Endless Shadow did his challenge in a mask. He’s their leader now. If he can make a success out of the whole ‘mysterious’ thing, maybe you can.”

Defeated, Aria grudgingly fumbled the helmet back on.

“Yeah, that’s a start. There’s a bloke in town who makes custom car parts; I can get him to give it a more fitting paintjob.”

They returned to the actual cottage. Whatever Aria was going to say vanished from her mind at the sound of the door opening behind them. A little old lady wandered into the vicinity.

“Sorry I’m late,” said the old lady. “I didn’t expect Dorothy to want me to help with – Cadence?”

The old lady looked at Aria as though she were a ghost.

Sonia, meanwhile, took a shaky intake of breath. “Great. I didn’t even think how I was going to explain this. Err, Gran, I know this is going to sound like the craziest thing ever, but this is –”

“What is the daughter of Chairman Rose doing in our house?”

Sonia’s answers fell apart as they left her mouth. It did not matter to Aria. The old lady had spoken a name, a name that electrified her senses and left her more alert than she could remember being.

“You knew my mum?” she asked.

“Cadence Rose was quite a famous figure in scientific circles. It’s her research that led to the discovery of functional Dyna Energy, after all. You’ll have to forgive me; you look so much like her I was startled. It’s a horrible shame, what happened to her. I am truly sorry.”

A cloud of noxious pain burst within Aria, who looked away and tried to focus on a wall before the image of the burned out building was able to return to her mind. She could have done without being reminded of it, she thought with irritation towards the old lady.

“Err, yeah,” said Sonia, having regained her ability to speak. “So, she wants an endorsement from me. From Battle Brigade. I took her up to Vanguard Hill to do some training just now. Because, you know, it’s like, err...”

“I want to take the Gym Challenge, but my dad won’t let me!” Aria blurted out. What followed was a rushed version of the explanation she had given Sonia.

By the end of Aria’s tirade, the old lady’s expression was an entirely new level of disbelief. “Sonia. Is this really something you want to be involved with?”

Sonia shrugged, rubbing the back of her neck. “It gets me out, doesn’t it...”

The old lady let out a withered sigh and shook her head. “Shine a light. The things you get into, I honestly can't believe them. Well, at any rate, I suppose a hello is in order, Aria Rose. I am Professor Magnolia Beech. Please don’t get my granddaughter arrested.”

Aria was unsure how to respond beyond a tentative ‘hi’. Magnolia did not wait for a response, regardless, instead making for a room beyond them. “Thank goodness the Red Flareon re-opened, because I’m going to need a drink later. Let it never be said that life doesn’t have a twisted sense of humour.”

“Huh,” said Sonia after Magnolia left. “Going to admit, I didn’t expect her to be on board quite so easily.”

Aria was too busy thinking about her mother to voice her feelings on this. She really had not wanted to remember the building again, and yet, there it was, dominating her mind’s eye as sinister as ever. She, too, needed something to drink, though alas her options were more limited.

The following morning, Aria quickly discovered Sonia was not exaggerating about her own training. Before it began, they travelled via taxi to the next town over where Aria purchased a set of new clothes using some of the money she had brought. According to Sonia, this was so she would not get her expensive clothes dirty doing what they were about to do, which was the only way she could convince Aria to buy a cheap hoodie and jeggings. They looked terrible on her, absolutely terrible. A part of her soul definitely died when she put them on.

Remember, this is all so I can see the world, and that’s what matters most...

This resolve of hers came under heavy fire as soon as they returned to the gym. Aria reluctantly wore the helmet, real hair completely tucked into it, as well as the goggles to conceal her eyes. The lower half of her face she hid beneath the scarf she had brought with her. At the very least, the world could not see her embarrassment. She looked as though she belonged in an episode of Hoenn Rangers Coexistence Force.

First she ran laps around it, which left her red-faced and wheezing to a degree that Sonia asked if she was asthmatic. They did not stop there; once Aria was in a condition to move again, she attempted climbing one of the gym walls via loose stones. Rudy the Snorlax stood beneath to catch her if she fell, but she did not make it high enough for this to become a possibility; her feet kept slipping and she lacked the upper body strength to pull herself up. So, they tried push-ups, which Aria managed one and a half of before her body gave out.

As Aria trained, Ziggy did too. He continued to practice Pounds by himself on tufts of grass. Unlike his master, he performed with gusto and improved in every strike.

The routine continued in this manner over the next few weeks, which felt to Aria as though they were never going to end. She was fed on a diet of wholegrain cereal, salads, water and milk, no matter how much she begged Sonia and her grandmother to let her have one chocolate bar or else she would surely die. Every night she went to bed more sore than the previous night.

Her sleep was fitful, her dreams an incoherent jumble she often forgot as she woke; what she could remember usually revolved around trees, fog and her father’s disappointed face. Sometimes her mother was there, smiling sadly from behind a cloud of haze. Regardless of how fast Aria ran to her, she was always out of reach. Aria tried not to as much as glance at the Slumbering Weald every time she came and went from Sonia’s home. She was growing convinced those insidious woods had infected her mind.

Her attempts at cooking were also disastrous. Sonia showed her how to get a pot ready and start a fire, but the ‘curry’ she created was a charred lump. Subsequent attempts were only slightly less black.

The moment arrived when Sonia decided to show Aria how to catch a pokémon. Sonia brought Aria and Ziggy to a series of bushes around the back of the gym.

“Be as quiet as you can,” Sonia whispered, crouching low.

Aria mimicked her. They watched the bushes for what must have been several minutes. Right as Aria’s patience was about to give way, a skwovet poked its fat head out of the branches. Another skwovet did the same. The first skwovet bounced forward a few steps.

Sonia nodded from Aria to Ziggy. Aria understood. “Pound, Ziggy!”

Ziggy rushed towards the skwovet as fast as his feet allowed him. The squirrel saw him too late to stop him from throwing himself into it exactly how they had practiced. The skwovet took its time getting back up, allowing Aria the opportunity to toss an empty Poké Ball its way. The ball sailed through the air – and straight over the squirrel’s head. Aria deflated. Ziggy turned to her, distracted by her obvious display of dejection, which gave the skwovet ample time to disappear into the undergrowth. The other skwovet had also vanished.

Behind Aria, Sonia’s patience visibly disintegrated. “This isn’t working. Forget it. How are we supposed to get anywhere when you’re just not trying? Tomorrow, we’re going to the police station, like I should’ve done to begin with.”

Sonia left her there. Aria did not try to follow. She crumbled to the ground much as she had after Sonia’s initial rejection.

Unworthy!

The voice from the Slumbering Weald echoed in her mind. She agreed. Becoming a trainer was too difficult for her. She was nothing more than a fool, and she looked a fool, covered in sweat and filth with raggedy clothes, a stupid helmet and broken, chipped nails. Was seeing the world truly worth this?

Ziggy’s indignant squeak brought her back to the present. Her igglybuff was puffed up and scowling at her. She was about to ask what his problem was when he darted back towards the bushes.

“What’re you doing?”

He dived into a bush, which shook for a moment before another skwovet was unceremoniously thrown out of it; presumably the second skwovet from before. Ziggy bounced after it and threw punches at its face. The skwovet responded with swipes.

“Stop it, Ziggy!”

Such a cry was pointless when her pokémon was in the midst of battle, she discovered. The skwovet managed to land its claws on Ziggy’s body, breaking his skin enough to draw the faintest drop of blood. The world ceased to exist to Aria except for Ziggy and the skwovet, who became twice as focused in her eyes, like switching from an old television screen to high definition.

“Pound!”

Ziggy sent the squirrel flying into hard bark. Seeing her chance, Aria grabbed a different empty ball. She was about to throw it with when she remembered Sonia’s trick. The ball dropped and she swung her leg. Another miss. That same urge to give up came crashing back over her.

Ziggy’s cry snapped her out of her stupor. The skwovet was on its feet and back to swiping away at him. Ziggy retaliated with a slap so forceful Aria heard it. The skwovet staggered. Aria saw its eyes dart to a spot to Ziggy’s right.

As the skwovet leapt towards the spot in question, Aria ran at the empty ball and booted it towards this same spot. It collided with the skwovet and opened in a blinding flash of white. When the light faded, the squirrel was gone. The ball landed and rolled around, its button glowing red and then fading again over and over. Aria and Ziggy held their breaths. Finally, it ceased to move. Its button flashed once.

Through Aria’s adrenaline-addled mind came a surge of delight. “I did it! I caught one!”

Ziggy jumped for joy. She was about to do the same when she glimpsed movement. Sonia had returned, and judging by her widened eyes she must have seen it all. “You weren’t following me, so I was worried...”

Aria released her newly-caught skwovet onto the ground beside Ziggy. The skwovet looked around in bewilderment, blinking, then chirped and began to clean its ruffled fur.

“See?” Aria said. “I can do it. I can...”

She had no idea how, if she was honest, but it seemed she had. Inspiration coursed through her, overriding the negativity that had been weighing her down not five minutes before. If seeing the world led to feeling this good, then yes, it was worth it. It was a feeling she so seldom felt at home.

Maybe this isn’t a lost cause.

Sonia looked thoughtful. After a moment, to Aria’s surprise, she smiled, a small but genuine smile. “Okay. We can keep at it, then.”

After this, Aria’s training gradually began to improve. Carried by this spurt of inspiration, her laps around the gym grew faster, she was able to climb higher, and the number of push-ups she could do increased.

The skwovet was female, according to Professor Magnolia, and thus Aria dubbed her ‘Scratte’. Scratte was much less energetic than Ziggy, displaying a similar relaxed attitude to Rudy in that she was more interested in sniffing flowers and sitting around than any physical activity. Sonia explained this personality was more typical of Normal-types.

Scratte picked up ‘Scratch’ well enough despite this, after Sonia taught Aria to make a scratching gesture. ‘Bite’, too, she learned in this manner. She and Ziggy spent many hours testing their moves against each other, although the time would always come when Scratte sat down to rest and Ziggy would poke at her until Aria ordered him away. Scratte proved better than Ziggy for learning first aid, however, as Scratte actually sat still enough for Aria to practice tying bandages and applying potions to her.

Aria also practiced directing them around the battle arena, the two zipping left and right as Rudy chased them, shoving grass into his mouth. In no time at all, what remained of the battle arena was visible again. While this was going on, Sonia cleared away the rotten stands by having Agnes chop them into pieces with her claws, which were then bagged up and taken to the local tip.

To further boost her muscles, Aria’s running was increased so that she ran from the town all the way up the hill to the gym. She noticed more heads turning the more she did this, and after a few times, people began to call out encouragements to her as she passed them, which made her cheeks flushed, unused to such praise. During one of these sessions, she lugged buckets of water to the gym, which she and Sonia used to wash the grime off the walls both inside and out. The gatehouse’s tears were wiped away.

“We made you this,” Magnolia said one night, waiting for them as they returned to the cottage. In her hands was some kind of beige cloth.

“Who?” asked Sonia.

“Myself, Dorothy and the rest of my bingo team. Wedgehurst has noticed what you’re doing. I’m not going to pretend I have the foggiest clue what motivated you, but it means more to the community than you realise.”

The cloth unfurled to reveal that it was a flag, upon which the emblem of a blackish-grey Poké Ball shape had been meticulously sewn.

“Oh, Gran,” said Sonia, who looked to be tearing up for a second before she hid this. “You didn’t have to – I mean you really – I mean, thank you.”

Aria and Sonia raised the flag above Vanguard Hill’s gatehouse together. It flew proud, it flew brave. The sound of clapping directed them to a small crowd gathered by Jackie Mitchell’s statue. The same townspeople who had given Sonia dark looks before now stood cheering her and Aria on.

“Come on, Battle Brigade!”

“Howay the lads!”

“Them’s lasses, Kev, you idiot!”

“Howay the lasses!”


Sonia went as red as her hair. Aria felt similarly bashful on the surface, but inside her anxiety was closer to dread. For the first time, it was dawning on her that in reaching out to Battle Brigade, she had begun something that extended further than herself. This was not quite what she had wanted. Her anxiety only increased with the knowledge that all she could do was keep going, now even less certain of what she was going towards. All she wanted was to travel one or two gyms, and she supposed if that also happened to make Wedgehurst happy, that was not a bad thing, was it?

Would only one or two gyms make Wedgehurst happy? Did it matter to her if it did? She had come to believe she did not want to ever hurt Sonia’s feelings, but Sonia did not seem to care how far she got. Aria was there for herself, Sonia knew, so surely the rest of Wedgehurst would understand this too, if they had to. Surely.

As she looked over herself in the mirror that night, she found the muscles on her limbs were no longer slack. It seemed she was finally starting to look like a real contender, whether she was one or not.

Not everything improved, however; Aria’s cooking skills remained wanting. Despite her best efforts, the most she could do was produce a curry that was only somewhat edible. Sonia urged her to buy as many sandwiches as her bag could hold at every town she passed through.

At last, after what seemed like an eternity, the day of the opening ceremony was almost upon them. Aria and Sonia stood inside Aria’s room while Sonia took Aria’s measurements. When done, Sonia noted these down on her phone. “There. Now I can send off to the League to tell them Battle Brigade will be putting forward a challenger this year. They need your measurements so they can make your kit, see. Congrats, you’ve got your endorsement.”

“Really?”

Aria could not stop herself from throwing her arms around Sonia in a crushing hug. “Thank you so much!”

“All I ask is that you please don’t let your pokémon die out there, okay? You have to promise me that.”

“I won’t!”

Aria was too giddy with excitement to really think about Sonia’s words. It was only as she lay down in bed later that night that their full implications sank in. ‘Please don’t let your pokémon die out there’. Sonia had mentioned something about death before, she recalled. That could not be an actual possibility, could it?



No cheesy underdog story is complete without a training montage.

Ruined castles are cool. The UK (and Europe in general) has quite a few of them. So, Galar can have one, too.

The ball-kicking is silly, I know, but this isn't meant to be a GRR GRIMDARK story. I'm gonna have fun with the over the top footbaaaall motif of SwSh if I want, that's what this run is about. If you're wondering "how is Aria supposed to kick a dynamax ball?", I intend to rework Dynamax/Gigantamax into something less...giant, so don't worry about that. I'll elaborate on that more when we get there.

Scratte the Skwovet was my Route 1 catch. Not really knowing how to handle overworld encounters vs random ones, I decided to go with a random encounter every time unless there was no Normal-type available randomly (or an overworld Normal happened to plough into me). Out of universe she is named after the female sabre tooth squirrel from Ice Age 3.

I named Aria's mum Cadence to create a musical theme between them.

...Oh, damn it, I made Sonia a genwunner.
 
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SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,187
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, 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
Ooft, the description of the rotted old stadium just hammers in again how beat-down Battle Brigade is. And Aria, if you’re going Pokemon training, hen, you GOTTA get used to mud on your shoes!

Oh man, I love bringing in kicking the pokeball, since that fits in with the footie inspiration and also probably looks rad as hell :P

sfdagh Snorlax as a punching bag—I mean, it’s excellent, Snorlax have a million HP and for a baby like Ziggy he can just plop down and have a nap while the baby wails on the fat layers, it’s just so fucking funny

Oh god the idea of Ziggy having a high-pitched war cry is so fcking cute oh my god

No escape, Sonia, you still give very many shits about the Battle Brigade! Love it :P

“It’ll mess up my hair and makeup” sdghf Aria. Love. Darling. Numpty. You are trying to not be recognized

pffffft Professor Magnolia really is like “this is utterly ridiculous but so long as it gets her out the house I guess” huh

TRAINING MONTAGE! And god Aria really is starting from the bottom of the fitness heap huh

Ayyyy, success in catching the Skwovet! An earned achievement! Self-worth! It’s a start!

“The gatehouse’s tears were wiped away.” How are you so good at making descriptions of architecture so evocative

Oh the little old ladies made them a flag! Oh goodness I’m tearing up, that’s gorgeous

Face up to it, Aria, you’re carrying the hopes of all of Wedgehurst now!

“Pokemon don’t actually die, right?” dear I have some bad news about the genre you’re in
 

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