• We're currently experiencing a minor issue with our email system preventing emails for new registrations and verifications going out. We're currently working to fix this
  • Be sure to join the discussion on our discord at: Discord.gg/serebii
  • If you're still waiting for the e-mail, be sure to check your junk/spam e-mail folders

Love and Other Nightmares

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
So as you know, I read this awhile ago. But in my infinite wisdom, I did not write down any thoughts while I was reading it. Now, I do that with a lot of fics these days--read them at work and then review when I get home. The problem is, this fic is particularly heavy on the philosophy and complex, negative emotions, and every time I sat down to talk about it, I found myself drawing a blank. So I finally stopped being lazy and skimmed the whole thing again so I could talk about it properly. :p

And I think you made some revisions since the first time I read it, because it feels more… on-point? I think, compared to a few months ago. Like, I definitely remember Kyurem’s monologue being a lot more rambly. Ok, well, it's still rambly, but in a way that doesn't overstay its welcome as much, I think? Which is nice, because I really do like your interpretation of Kyurem. The confusion, the conflicted feelings, the emptiness, the bitterness towards what was lost, but not even knowing if its worth it to become whole. I think I understand why he's chosen Annie in that regard--because she's someone who is the least likely candidate for living a complete life, I think. xD Kinda like him. So it's like... if she can do it, then he sure as hell can. Plus, she's easy to bribe, what with being sick. :T

Speaking of Annie, man, it's been a while since I've read a protagonist as bitter as her. xD; She is all salt, and spite and snark and I get the feeling that before the stroke, she spent her time being 100% done with everything. (Which isn't to say she's less done now. But she's a lot more contrary about it now, probably. :p)

I'm actually really surprised that Gregory is so supportive of her going on a Pokemon Journey! I would have expected like a metric butt ton of physical therapy before something like that would be ok. But maybe I'm fuzzy on the timespan she spent on her therapy. As someone who went through some pretty intense physical therapy following total leg muscle atrophy... I don't think I'd have felt up to going on a Pokemon journey until at least a few months had passed. :I But Annie's desperate, both for a cure and to get away from home, so I can respect that.

A couple readers have teased at some hints that this fic is going to put a lot of focus on the nitty-gritty details of how training works, so I'm definitely looking forward to that! And I take we're gonna get a lot of personality from the Pokemon characters, what with Annie's quest to heal herself by healing emotionally scarred Pokemon? Now there's a premise that is just full of conflict potential. And like Cutlerine said, that's the definition of interesting. ;P

~Chibi~;249;;448;
 
Last edited:

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
So as you know, I read this awhile ago. But in my infinite wisdom, I did not write down any thoughts while I was reading it. Now, I do that with a lot of fics these days--read them at work and then review when I get home. The problem is, this fic is particularly heavy on the philosophy and complex, negative emotions, and every time I sat down to talk about it, I found myself drawing a blank. So I finally stopped being lazy and skimmed the whole thing again so I could talk about it properly. :p
No worries, heh. The fic feels heavy even just writing it, so I figured it'd be the same on the reader's side. But! I'm glad you came back to skim and review. It means a lot. :~)

And I think you made some revisions since the first time I read it, because it feels more… on-point? I think, compared to a few months ago. Like, I definitely remember Kyurem’s monologue being a lot more rambly. Ok, well, it's still rambly, but in a way that doesn't overstay its welcome as much, I think? Which is nice, because I really do like your interpretation of Kyurem. The confusion, the conflicted feelings, the emptiness, the bitterness towards what was lost, but not even knowing if its worth it to become whole. I think I understand why he's chosen Annie in that regard--because she's someone who is the least likely candidate for living a complete life, I think. xD Kinda like him. So it's like... if she can do it, then he sure as hell can. Plus, she's easy to bribe, what with being sick. :T
Yeah, I went through everything I'd written so far before writing chapter 3 to tighten up the writing, remove some circular ramblings, etc. And yes, you're so on point with him choosing Annie for that reason. XD Glad you like his character, too! Wasn't sure how portraying a legendary would go, to be honest.

Speaking of Annie, man, it's been a while since I've read a protagonist as bitter as her. xD; She is all salt, and spite and snark and I get the feeling that before the stroke, she spent her time being 100% done with everything. (Which isn't to say she's less done now. But she's a lot more contrary about it now, probably. :p)
Lol, also on point. I try to balance the negativity with her sarcasm. *shrugs*

I'm actually really surprised that Gregory is so supportive of her going on a Pokemon Journey! I would have expected like a metric butt ton of physical therapy before something like that would be ok. But maybe I'm fuzzy on the timespan she spent on her therapy. As someone who went through some pretty intense physical therapy following total leg muscle atrophy... I don't think I'd have felt up to going on a Pokemon journey until at least a few months had passed. :I But Annie's desperate, both for a cure and to get away from home, so I can respect that.
There's her being desperate, plus the fact that her numbness is sporadic and not very severe. It'll affect her, but not in a debilitating kind of way. And Gregory will be available as back up in emergencies (was stated in the original, though that's not stated till the next chapter in this rewrite).

A couple readers have teased at some hints that this fic is going to put a lot of focus on the nitty-gritty details of how training works, so I'm definitely looking forward to that! And I take we're gonna get a lot of personality from the Pokemon characters, what with Annie's quest to heal herself by healing emotionally scarred Pokemon? Now there's a premise that is just full of conflict potential. And like Cutlerine said, that's the definition of interesting. ;P
Yep, both of those aspects from the original will definitely be prominent in the rewrite! Stay tuned. ;)
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
The prologue has been massively cut down on... again. :p The writing's the same and nothing described about the plot has changed so it's not necessary to re-read (though it is unbelievably short now if you want to). The entire thing is now only Kyurem's first person POV with much of his circular and repetitive narration 100% gone. Thanks to Flaze for helping me pinpoint what to cut and AetherX and Chimerical over on Bulbagarden for the final beta reads!
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Chapter 1:

The cold settles on my skin, creating a stinging sensation in my hands as if I've just crushed a throat or smashed some glass.

Noteworthy that these are the comparisons she immediately jumps to. Crushing a throat in particular.

When the ice-type was brought up my thought process was something like is she a froslass? i hope she's a froslass, and look at that, sometimes dreams come true. :D Interesting application for her, and I like that you touched on what kind of connotations ghost-types might have from a religious perspective.

Chapter 2:


It hits me, then, that I’ve been referring to the OT by his first name this entire time, anyway.
I only spent maybe half a second, if even that, reading "OT" as "original trainer". I'm kind of proud of myself as such. :p

I wonder how many people have started smoking for precisely the reasons she did. It really does sound like it would be the case sometimes.

Chapter 3:

My brain specializes in senseless reasoning, and you know what? It got to be that way without my permission.
Brains just love to do stuff like that, the bastards.

That means his lab is free from ten year olds squealing and scrambling over each other to grab the first pokéball in sight, a problem which tends to degenerate into a horror story involving fistfights and police officers way too often.
WELL THEN

The instant there was mention of a bug I lit up like... something with a tendency to light up. It's him! He's here! :D Welcome back, Kephi. <3

Also the image of a ferrothorn swinging around like that is both cool and a tad frightening. Hopefully everyone in the vicinity knows better than to hang around too close to the playful jumble of living flails. X3


PS: A couple of hours later, here I sit with the aromatisse cry somewhat stuck in my head. I'm going to assume this has something to do with the mention of aromatisse somewhere in these past few chapters. Aromatisse makes the best frickin' noise.
 
Last edited:

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
I coulda sworn I replied to this but nope. x_x Sorry!

Chapter 1:

Noteworthy that these are the comparisons she immediately jumps to. Crushing a throat in particular.
Heh, you're not the only one who's noticed that. :p It feels weird and aggressive, but, well, she's had a violent temper in the past.

When the ice-type was brought up my thought process was something like is she a froslass? i hope she's a froslass, and look at that, sometimes dreams come true. :D Interesting application for her, and I like that you touched on what kind of connotations ghost-types might have from a religious perspective.
I freakin' love froslass. <3 haha. Glad you liked my interpretation of her!

I only spent maybe half a second, if even that, reading "OT" as "original trainer". I'm kind of proud of myself as such. :p
No one knows what I'm talking about when I say "OT" anymore. x_x Makes me feel old!

I wonder how many people have started smoking for precisely the reasons she did. It really does sound like it would be the case sometimes.
You'd be surprised what lengths people will go to to ease their stress, I guess. :C

Brains just love to do stuff like that, the bastards.
Too true.

WELL THEN

The instant there was mention of a bug I lit up like... something with a tendency to light up. It's him! He's here! :D Welcome back, Kephi. <3
Lol, it's been far too long since I've written him. ;_; I missed the vulgar little thing.

Also the image of a ferrothorn swinging around like that is both cool and a tad frightening. Hopefully everyone in the vicinity knows better than to hang around too close to the playful jumble of living flails. X3

PS: A couple of hours later, here I sit with the aromatisse cry somewhat stuck in my head. I'm going to assume this has something to do with the mention of aromatisse somewhere in these past few chapters. Aromatisse makes the best frickin' noise.
XD This is why I love your reviews. They're super fun and these reactions to my work always amuse me. Thanks for the comments, and sorry for the late reply! :3

New chapter should be out soon; I'd say it's about 85% done.
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES

chapter 4
at first sight

*​

As usual, I jump the gun. I name the venipede Kephi, inspired by a word belonging to an outdated language that my history of psychology class discussed earlier this year. No precise translation of the word exists, but in short, it means happy—the kind of happy that has people acting so delirious you’d think a drowzee put them under a trance.

I thought it’d be smart to start off on an upbeat note with the venipede. But when I relay all this information to him, his first response is, “What the fuck? Sounds super girly. You got any food around here, at least?”

“Okay... Do you, uh, like spaghetti? I know how to make that, and actually, Kephi rhymes with spaghetti. If you’re ever in the middle of an existential crisis, just remember that important fact.”

He glowers at me. “Whatever,” he says, then slinks off to the kitchen by himself.

To reach the kitchen from my bedroom, you have to go down the hallway and pass the wall on the left that looks empty save for a collection of pin holes we were supposed to use to hang new family photos forever ago. I’ve relayed these directions to Kephi several times—who knew a bug could eat so much—but it seems he’s keen on tuning me out already. I see him backtrack past my door a lot. If I dare acknowledge his presence, he hisses and leaves a trail of slime behind him to spite me.

Needless to say, Kephi the venipede doesn’t live up to his name. He’s downright grumpy. With the hump on his back and the narrow slits of his eyes, he reminds me of old men who make it a point to display how bitter life is any chance they get.

Kephi also has a habit of tensing up whenever he catches me glancing his way, like he thinks I’m studying him. And maybe I am, but that’s only because Gregory mentioned rehab for both of us. Unfortunately, the OT said he won’t start us on any kind of routine until I’m on the road. I asked him if my parents refused to let him do home sessions with a poison-type parading around, but he promised that isn’t the case. There’s just not much point in forming a plan that he’ll have to change in a week’s time, so I’ll have to be patient.

I want to gauge the depth of Kephi’s problems for myself, but I give Gregory permission to take him out of the house every day during my last week at home. He offers me vague updates: Kephi’s diagnosis is confirmed, he's talking rehab procedures with doctors specialized in evaluating pokémon, and so on. I have no choice but to focus on getting ready to leave Sandgem. It’s better than fretting endlessly about a creature that’d mean nothing to me under different circumstances. A creature I wish meant nothing to me.

To accomplish what Kyurem woke me up to do, my pokémon have to care about me, too. The thought of making that a reality sounds like a bigger hurdle than it should. If that stupid Battle Nexus station my mom always listens to is anything to go by, most trainers bond with their starters effortlessly. The radio hosts interview a lot of pokémon enthusiasts, and the consensus is that you have to learn everything you can about your team to have a chance at the gym circuit. If only battles and badges were my main concerns, instead of this whole life and death situation.

I try not to look past the present moment. I work on the same old hemiparesis stuff and sit through my parent’s logistical lectures about money and safety. Dad lays out all the reasons they won’t contribute to my journey funds, emphasizing the recent accumulation of hospital bills. Mom goes over the technicalities of our insurance, and, ironically, advises me of places and people I should go to if I ever need help. The list doesn't include herself, Dad, or Renee.

It’s hard not to notice how careful and meticulous their movements are around me. They must have X-ray vision, because they act like a bomb’s ticking inside me and it’ll detonate at any moment. This isn’t exactly new, but it stings more than usual somehow. There are no tears, no speeches about why becoming a trainer is a bad idea, no insults about my poison-type starter. There’s nothing. What if that means they were relieved once I told them I was leaving and they haven't changed their minds?

Their indifference only strengthens my resolve to find Kyurem. I’m not sure why a legendary would care about a human more than her own parents, but stranger things have been known to happen. Probably.

When I leaf through my traveling checklist one last time, I promise myself I’ll at least say goodbye to Renee. I owe my sister that much. To her credit, she did care about me, and maybe she still does. It’s hard to say. I’ve kept my distance from her so much that every time I stumble into her, she tilts her head and opens her mouth to speak, but then she walks right past me like I’m a ghost. Knowing her, she thinks she’s the nuisance child in our parents’ eyes, not me. Her type of logic would surmise that she’s doing me a favor by deflecting all conversation.

I throw my checklist down on my bed, where it lands upside down. I open the door to my bedroom with my shoulders because the humidity tends to swell up the hinges and makes it harder to budge. A twinge of pain travels up my arm as a result, and I readjust my backpack so that it sits comfortably on my back despite all the junk I crammed in there.

Right. I’m off to a good start. I should’ve packed smarter, but instead, I’m bringing some mementos due to the low probability of me ever coming back rather than for sentimental reasons. Like the cigarette lighter Dad lent me a while ago and forgot about, and a short-lived diary I kept in the middle of my worst outburst.

I spot Renee across the hall as the pain in my arm subsides. She must’ve spotted me first, because she slips into her own bedroom and closes the door, something she rarely does. It’s just not in her nature to be secretive and to push people away. I’m the exception now. If I disappear without a word again, I know she’ll dwell on it forever.

From my backpack’s side pocket, I take out Kephi’s pokéball and roll it between my fingers. Unsurprisingly, the venipede refused to let me recall him at first. I think he only did it to escape the smell of sitrus berries. Each spring, Mom places baskets of them around the house to repel insects. She didn’t remember—didn’t bother—to take Kephi’s bug-typing into account.

…The way my thoughts drift away from Renee so quickly like this is the reason it hurts to see her. I force myself, one step at a time, to her bedroom. I force myself to knock on her door. I contemplate darting away and performing that disappearing act after all, hoping Renee will magically understand how I’ll keep her in my thoughts. I doubt I’ll call or visit ever, so it’s the least I can do.

It’s the best I can do.

Renee’s voice, quiet and pained, invites me inside after my third time knocking. Her gaze lingers on Kephi’s pokéball, then my backpack. “You’re leaving already?” she asks, forcing a half-smile.

I lean against the doorframe when my left side starts to ache a little. “Yeah,” I say. “Gotta go before it’s dark, you know.”

“It’s nine in the morning, Annie.”

“Gotta get to Jubilife before dark.” Never mind that reaching the so-called City of Joy requires a four day trek on foot, minimum.

“Oh. Well, that makes sense if…” Renee’s voice trails off, and I look at her, waiting for her to finish her sentence. She doesn’t. Her eyes, a dark shade of green just like mine, glaze over and threaten to spill actual tears.

“Okay, you caught me. I have to meet up with Gregory to pick up my pokédex,” I say, throwing my arms up for a dramatic effect. That’s not a lie, at least, although another reason I’m headed out now is because my parents left for work a short while ago. They won’t be able to stop me—if they even want to, that is.

Renee, sitting at the edge of her bed with her feet dangling, picks at a loose thread on the comforter as a distraction. Her fingers drag over to the wall, where she unplugs a cord charger and replaces it with an outlet cover designed to prevent electric-types from sneaking in through the electrical system.

“Remember when Mom’s old galvantula brought a den of joltik in the house and killed our power for a week?” she says.

“Yeah,” I say. “I remember.”

When it seemed like even the local electric company couldn’t fix the problem, the family evacuated to a hotel at the Verity Lakefront. But while we were stuck in the dark, Renee and I pretended we lived in a mystical castle that in reality was a pillow fort that spanned the entire living room. My twelve-year-old self invented awful ghost stories, and an even younger Renee clung to me, whimpering in fear and refusing to leave the comfort of our fort without me to protect her.

I cross my legs together, uncross them again as I force myself to look at my sister. Her flustered expression still reminds me of a child, and after a long silence, I mention a half-hearted comment about how Mom refused to re-home the galvantula once the power was restored.

“Dad suggested it, once,” Renee replies, shrugging. “But, well, you know him. He won’t argue with Mom about anything ever.”

“No kidding.” Could I blame him? I adopted my smoking habit not long after the galvantula incident, because I saw him deal with the stressful situations brought on by Mom’s stubbornness that way. “Hey, if I catch one of those freaky spiders, I’ll send it back home to you guys. For nostalgia’s sake and all that.”

That actually gets a chuckle out of her, a feat she stifles by covering her mouth with her hand. “Good luck with that. And good luck with… everything else.”

“Thanks,” I reply, my voice barely audible. “I’ll warn you in advance when that spider’s on its way.”

She nods, I close the door on my way out, and that’s it. My goodbye, although having devolved into jokes about electric spiders, is done and over with. I walk slowly from the house in case Renee decides there’s something more she wants to say. If we weren’t tied down by genetics and feuds that she couldn’t bring herself to take sides in, we could’ve been closer. I’d tell her that, but I’m not even the slightest bit brave, and anyway, that’d only make things harder. My hands are already so damn full.

*

As I walk down the deserted construction area that is Weritz Street, I think of another regret to add to my ever growing list. The arguments I’d come up with to convince my mother that Kephi is, in fact, a wonderful choice for a starter have gone down the drain since she allowed me to leave for Jubilife without one of her more condescending lectures. The halfhearted ones she threw at me out of obligation don't count. I should’ve made a scene when I still had the chance.

How badly I wanted—want—to tell her to just shove it.

I take a deep breath. It’s a nice spring day, and I’m lucky to have the strength necessary to do what I’m doing. No need to ruin it all with a massive dose of negativity. Or thoughts about someone gone, out of my sight until further notice.

I’m already close to Sandgem’s northern exit. From the corner of my eye, I see a mothim glide past on a gust of wind. It swerves at the last possible second before catching the tip of its wing on a bulldozer crane. A string of caution tape flaps loudly, but the mothim ignores its warning and lands on a no trespassing sign. Supposedly, a community of townhouses and condos is in the works, but that feels like a myth when the workers are only ever on site past dark.

Gregory surprises me, as usual. He makes his way to me the moment he spots me from afar. There’s a spring in his step and a smile on his face that I know to mean he’s got a ton of stuff to ramble on to me about. Except then his eagerness fades the moment he’s able to get a good look at my face.

“You know, most new trainers are raring to go their first day out in the wild,” he says.

“It’s not official until you hand me the dex and it lists off all of my personal information in a robot voice."

Gregory nods, then digs into his back pocket and pulls out a sleek, red device I’ve seen advertised on every billboard in Sandgem. When I take the pokédex from him, it’s heavy, and no doubt I worry the OT with how tightly I grasp it with both hands. I go to undo the latch on the side to power it on and explore all the features, but he shakes his head and says, “There’ll be plenty of time to read up on things on your way to Jubilife.”

“What, you planning on ditching me so soon you can’t show me how to work this thing?”

“Kind of,” he says. He clears his throat. “Right now, what’s most important is that you know this”—he points to an indentation on the pokédex with a round blue button embedded—“is the emergency button. Use it anytime you need me.”

Without thinking about it, I reach forward and grab his arm. He can’t seriously call it a day with just that piece of information, can he? What about all the answers he promised me?

The man just smiles. I scowl at him and let go of him in favor of clenching my fists. No doubt he’d question my sanity if I squeezed too hard like I wanted to break his arm or something. Even if he didn’t, his tolerance for my nonsense must have a limit. Best not to waste it.

“Grip and release. You’ve been practicing, I can tell,” he says. On command, my hands unfurl and furl again easily. A compliment like that isn’t enough to placate me, though.

“That’s not what I care about right now. Can you tell me one thing before you go?”

“Well, I’ll meet you in Jubilife, of course. Until then—”

“I’m sure I can manage,” I interrupt, rolling my eyes. “What about Kephi? What’s wrong with him?”

There’s a long silence, broken only by the sound of footsteps from passersby and the pervasive buzzing of a cell phone.

Gregory sighs. “I can give you the technical rundown, but as to what caused the issues, I don’t know.”

“That’s… That’s fine.”

It isn’t fine, but whatever. I’m sure I can get Kephi to explain spill his guts and fill in any gaps some other time. I let him out of his pokéball so I can see for myself what Gregory’s about to explain to me, and after the amorphous flash of red fades and his body’s materialized, his antennae twitch violently. The bug-type stretches them as far as he can, like he’s reaching for something he can’t find. He settles on gliding them along the pavement and hissing at it.

“See what happened there?” Gregory asks, pointing in Kephi’s general direction.

“Uh, I think he was just trying to figure out his surroundings. This is probably all new to him.”

The OT shakes his head. “His antennae, they’re not in sync when they move. He’s angry about it,” he says.

I glance at my starter again and notice Gregory’s right. One antenna’s stiff, and the other bounces up and down violently as Kephi grimaces. None of the passersby seem to notice the pokémon in pain, either.

“Have you ever heard of apraxia, Annie? Or hypoxia?”

“A-prax-ee-uh and…” I trail off, remembering my blunder at the hospital that alerted the doctors to my own condition in the first place.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Gregory says. He goes to scoop Kephi up in his arms, and though the bug-type flinches, he doesn’t resist the gesture. He even allows the OT to trace his fingers along the hump on his back. “Our assessments showed that there’s a lack of adequate oxygen in this little guy’s body. That's hypoxia. It’s not debilitating, but you can see parts of his face and abdomen are shriveled and discolored.”

Gregory motions for me to lean my head in and look, but I opt out, ashamed I hadn’t noticed earlier. It’s not like I’d ever seen a venipede in the flesh before and none of them have the exact same appearance, but still.

Gregory pulls Kephi in close again and continues, “Apraxia’s associated with damage to regions of the brain that regulate motor skills. So is hypoxia, to a certain degree. That means he’ll have trouble moving around on a daily basis and carrying out commands in battle. You guys can train and he’ll know how an attack is supposed to be executed, but his brain won’t always be able to process how to turn the concept into a reality.”

“But Kephi had a trainer before!” I say, harshly. Stunned, the OT blinks at me. “I-I mean, I thought it’d be cool and all to have a strong starter like this.”

“Like I said, Annie, I don’t know the origins of these conditions. He could’ve been born with them, or perhaps there was an accident. Either way, it’s safe to assume his disability was too much for his old trainer to handle.”

Oh, right. The shelter. There’s plenty of reasons a trainer would abandon their pokémon, but it makes sense that sick or weaker ones would be left where they could be taken care of while others could probably manage surviving in the wild.

I sort of understand Mom's penchant for trained pokémon now. And it's a good thing I didn’t babble on like an idiot about having a strong starter to her after all.

An idea hits me when I shake away thoughts of my mom again. She’s not the one with mystical powers claiming to save me from my misery, after all. I owe my focus to Kyurem and Kephi.

“Why don’t you just ask Kephi yourself?” I say.

“Unless you can decipher incessant clacking noises, I fail to see how that’ll help,” Gregory says.

“Oh, come on,” I say before he even finishes speaking.

He stares and stares, and he doesn’t have the face of a man who’s joking, but of one who’s utterly confused and questioning his client’s intelligence. Kephi, of course, just snuggles into the OT’s arms and hisses at me, avoiding real words. Now he doesn't want to swear up a storm.

I laugh to stave off the awkwardness of the situation and mention loudly—too loudly—how it’d be nice if language barriers between humans and pokémon were a myth.

“Oh, it’s the case for some people, especially veteran trainers. I myself am more in tune with their body language, but not actual words yet.”

“Yet?”

“Over time, if I keep working with pokémon, it’s likely to click.”

There’s been an immense amount of research done on the topic. The odds are certainly in his favor, even if he’s no specialist. An image flashes through my head of Gregory hunched over a desk, sifting through hundreds of scattered papers outlined with all the latest information about the venipede line that eventually was solidified enough to be put in the pokédex. All because he couldn’t ask the brat what’s up.

The effort he’s put into Kephi’s situation is comforting, if nothing else.

“Any other immediate questions? Surely you’d like to get a head start as early as possible today.”

“It’d be nice to, you know, hear about the actual rehab part of this,” I say, folding my arms.

“I’m still working out the kinks. This is the last test.”

“Last test?”

With that conversation over for now—I’ll have to bombard the OT with Kephi-related questions again later—Gregory pulls out a plain red and white pokéball. It’s fitting for a rather plain looking man like him. Still, I can’t help but wonder what other surprises this man’s got in store for me.

“Since it’s too dangerous to send you off alone with Kephi straightaway, I’ll let you borrow my snivy for the time being.”

Gregory holds the button down on the pokéball, and from it emerges a green, bipedal lizard. The snivy has dull, reddish eyes and a contrasting yellow crest. His short tail kind of reminds me of a three-leaf clover.

Once the grass-type fully materializes, Kephi hisses and retreats as far back into Gregory’s arms as he can, forcing the man to drop the pokéball so he can keep the venipede from jumping away. The snivy rubs his underbelly and flickers his blood red tongue like he’s ready to chow down on a meal he knows is gonna be tasty.

“Aren’t you supposed to have the type advantage, dude? What have you got to be afraid of?” I ask Kephi, offering to take him from Gregory’s arms. Kephi reluctantly agrees and crawls up my arm, leaving a tiny trail of slime behind.

“Nate here was my starter. He’s the most well behaved out of all my pokémon, and he’s capable of holding his own in a fight. I trust you’ll be okay to get to Jubilife, but just in case…”

I don’t bother giving him a chance to finish his sentence. “Yeah,” I say, “I know what you mean. Don’t worry about it.”

“Anyway,” Gregory continues, “record your experiences—on the pokédex or on paper. Doesn’t matter. Think of it as a diary of sorts, where you write whatever’s relevant to your day.”

“I’m not sure what’d count as relevant, but, uh, sure. I can do that.” And how is this homework supposed to help, exactly? My old diaries, they’re nonsense, stream of consciousness ideas that are hardly coherent when I look back at them.

This will be just another thing to fake, I guess.

“All right,” Gregory says, “here’s exactly what I’ll be looking for…”

*

“God, it’s almost like he’s a fucking stalker or something.”

“Excuse me?”

I'm surprised both by my starter's shameless profanity and the bite in his voice after his previous show of silence. Kephi simply laughs, so loud that I’m sure the entire route’s inhabitants know we’re out and about now. To our left I spot a burmy gathering fallen leaves for its cloak. The bagworm scurries off the moment it realizes it’s not alone, dropping a few petals along the way without bothering to retrieve them.

“Were you paying any attention to what that old man said?” Kephi shakes his head. “He wants you to write down your every thought, your every move. It’s creepy. Ain’t no other word for it.”

For whatever reason, he’s abandoned his cuddly ‘mon charade. I point this out to him, because why would he want to be all buddy buddy with a stalker, but he just harrumphs and works to put a fair amount of distance between us. He settles into a new cycle of scuttling far ahead of me, then slowing down to a snail’s pace until I catch up. Every time he sees me writing in my temporary diary, he snickers and mumbles comments I pretend not to hear.

The little bug likes to act tough, but I notice the nuances of his movements a tad easier now. Gregory’s explanation was useful for something, after all.

“A stalker indeed,” I finally agree after Kephi insults the OT a fifth time. As revenge, I jot down notes about Kephi’s slightly labored breath after his spurts of energy, the way his antennae drags dully along the forest floor as he pretends to be searching for something, the way his words slur if he tries to talk too loud… The list goes on and on.

So he’s the one being stalked right now, not me. Except I’m not laughing about it, because I technically am supposed to be writing about myself. And I should be experimenting with my shiny new pokédex, but I managed to summon the courage to check how crumpled my old diary was getting at the bottom of my backpack. Might as well use it and maybe see if Kephi wants to cover it with a giant ball of slime.

That’s another thing he does: slime everything, everywhere. The faster his body moves, the more there is. And personally, I hope Gregory gags when he reads about it. Serves him right for trying to handle a renegade client like me.

Me, though. I have to write something about me. So far, Gregory? I’m bored. Nate’s not talked since we parted ways, and what’s weirder, he’s not left my side since he got the order to keep me in line. In fact, his pace matches mine perfectly, even though I’m at least twice his size and the shape of his feet reminds me of thin and permanently curled pieces of paper. How does that anatomy make any sense for a creature that’s supposed to possess more abilities than any human in existence?

I’ve asked the snake a million and one questions to get him to talk about himself, to talk about his trainer—you know, to see if I can understand Gregory's pokémon when even he can't. Everything about me is already an anomaly anyway, so why not this, too? No language barrier could be Kyurem’s doing, I guess. Or a byproduct of growing up with Mom’s pokémon that I’m just now picking up on, most realistically.

Alas, Nate’s either a legit mute or a huge jerk with a talent for giving others the cold shoulder. Kephi's on board with the latter explanation after having several of his duel challenges straight up ignored by the grass-type.

“I’d love to wipe that smug look off his face,” Kephi tells me at some point. “You’re the trainer! Can’t you do anything?”

Explaining what resting bitch face syndrome is and how I need Nate in tiptop shape in case we get into trouble earns me a scowl and a threat about how I’ll be the one taking poison stings to the face soon if he doesn’t get the fight he’s itching for.

Further into Route 202, the forest grows denser and the cedar tree canopies bunch closer together, blocking the noon sun and keeping its warmth from seeping in. I wrap my arms around myself, shivering slightly and failing to find any comfort in the look of concern Nate flashes me. As usual, he says nothing.

Meanwhile, Kephi stops near an old emergency phone booth a few yards ahead of us. He cranes his neck up curiously, but he’s too close to get a good read on it, so he crawls back a bit. Wincing like it hurts, he resorts to ignoring the thing and moves on, and for the next hour, he leads us through a winding path reminiscent of a labyrinth without multiple, diverging pathways—only to bump into another, larger booth-like structure.

“Seriously?” he cries out, startling the teenage boy manning the booth into dropping his cell phone. “We better not have just gone in a circle, trainer girl! I ain’t sleeping in my ball tonight or on the forest floor with the wild luxray running around.”

The booth boy forgoes retrieving his phone, instead greeting us from afar with a wave too forceful to feel inviting. I break into a jog to catch up with my starter, while Nate takes almost no time at all to do the same. Before Kephi can scamper ahead and leave us in the dust again, I scoop him up in my arms, careful to be gentle but firm like Gregory had. Still, the bug-type wriggles relentlessly to try to escape.

“There, there,” I tell him. “Gotta keep you out of reach from the grand total of zero luxray we’ve seen so far.”

Kephi hisses at me, the booth boy flinches. How someone like him got chosen to brave the wild and keep watch over… whatever this booth is, I don’t know. The enclosed building, built out of solid concrete, has enough room to fit a computer desk and a swivel chair. Tinted glass windows cover the majority of the wall space, which I assume are used to keep an eye on passers-by and approaching pokémon.

Naturally, I assume the booth boy’s a ranger maintaining the forest. But then he reaches out his hand to me expectantly and I realize I’m only half-right.

“Just two rubies,” he urges. “You’ve got that much, right?”

“An optimistic one, aren’t you,” I mumble, accepting in my head that it’s not that much money and that the toll amount will probably only increase the deeper into the gym circuit routes I travel.

“All your money goes to keeping the routes clean and whatnot. Pokémon can be pretty destructive, so I’d say it’s worth it,” he insists. He's poached this spiel to numerous new trainers before, I can tell.

“Huh. The League’s afraid of the luxray around here, too? Good to know.”

“That’s not—”

The moment I dig into my pockets to fish out the coins with my free hand, Kephi sees his chance and hops out of my arms. Unsurprisingly, a long string of spicy curse words escapes the venipede’s lips as he lands on the grass with a soft thud. When I move to fetch him, the booth boy has the nerve to hold out his arm. He doesn’t budge even after I hand over the rubies.

“Pokédex, too, ma’am,” he says. “I’m sorry. League’s safety protocol in case you’re hurt, missing, whatever. The little guy’s still in sight, anyway.”

It’s tempting to borrow a few of Kephi's insults. If only circumstances didn’t make it likely that I’ll need a real ranger sent to my rescue someday. That, and I guess I’m supposed to be something of a role model to Kephi as his trainer.

A solid thirty seconds later and the booth boy’s registering my information in his system while I’m scooping up the venipede out of a patch of tall grass right before he’s straightened himself out to make a break for it. This time, he’s not got enough energy to resist me. His ragged breathing calms down to a reasonable pace while we wait. Next to us, Nate sighs heavily with an actual hint of exasperation.

“That’s how it is, is it? The weed’s not even gotta talk to be fucking annoying,” Kephi says.

The booth boy doesn’t so much as blink in response. I take that to mean Kephi’s speech sounds like garbled nonsense to him. A shadow jumping from branch to branch flits by, the rustling allowing a beam of sunlight to peek in and illuminate the grassy path we’d just tread.

“Good luck on the rest of your way to Jubilife,” the booth boy says as he hands me back my pokédex.

“Won’t need the luck, I hope,” I say. I open my mouth to make another quip about luxray, then veto the idea. “But thanks.”

He glances back at the tollbooth. “Right, well, my shift was ending soon, last I checked. I doubt you’ll make it even halfway this late in the day, and the first night out can be one hell of a culture shock.”

“That’s exactly the vote of confidence I need.”

I roll my eyes and start walking, twigs crunching underneath my feet. Thanking the booth boy again feels like the humane thing to do, but he’s already wandering back to perform his other attendant duties. So I focus on what's there to look forward to: more torrents of anger from Kephi, figuring out sleeping arrangements or whether we’ll need a fire if the temperature drops too low, what we’ll do if we get lost and prolong the trip…

Shifting the venipede to one arm, I unpocket my journal and open to a fresh page as a distraction. What’s there to say, I wonder? What I’ve penned so far is barebones, so I should jot down something. Anything that resembles the storm in my head is out of the question, though. No matter how much Gregory encourages me, he has no place glimpsing my innermost thoughts. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way from being the neurotic mess that scribbled in the first fifty something pages, that the difference would be like fire and ice, but a nagging feeling at the back of my mind renders my optimism pointless.

The urge to feel even somewhat productive outweighs my self-loathing for the moment, so I flip back to the last page I’d written in voluntarily before I’d abandoned journaling. A paragraph sits at the top, the rest of the page empty save for a single line written separately: I believe we’ll be okay.

We, as if I'd lumped myself in with my family, even Renee. We, as if there’s a side of me that wants to dig herself out of the hole she’s made and a side that’s too apathetic to make it happen.

We… Does that count pokémon now? At first sight, we’ve got an aspiring silent ninja disguised as an overgrown reptile, a hunchback with a sour attitude and a body comprised of acid to match, and a girl who’s more likely than not in over her head.

What a goddamn sorry sight.
 
Last edited:

Cutlerine

Gone. Not coming back.
And she's finally off! I'd be lying if I said I remembered much about the old version of this fic, so you're mostly going to be free from me comparing this to that, but I'm pretty sure the past version wasn't nearly so well paced. This was a genuine pleasure to read; everything just fits together so well in this world of yours. I must have mentioned before how good you are with systems, and that really shines here as Annie prepares to depart: funding, insurance, supplies, rehabilitation, everything she encounters feels like a part of a much larger whole. The Sinnoh League is a real organisation here; there are people on the trainer routes to collect tolls, there are emergency phones, there are all the things you'd expect to see in real life but which, in stories, people sometimes forget would be there. This is a world where actual human people with actual human responsibilities sometimes go on trainer journeys – an impression that's really important with a character like Annie, of course, since a large part of her appeal is that she is so very human.

Which is as good a segue as any into how well you show her mind working, I guess. I've talked about why I like her before, and for once I won't just repeat myself, but something you do particularly well here is hit the balance between sounding natural and sounding pretty with her narration. Even when you do bring out the odd obvious rhetorical device (like the anaphora with “We, as if” at the end), it's never so obtrusively artificial as to break the illusion that we're just following the drift of Annie's thoughts. Either I've forgotten how good your prose is or it's got better; I think it's probably a bit of both.

The only things I might quibble with are really minor – one, it seems odd that Annie wouldn't realise earlier that it's weird she can talk to Kephi right away, since you make a point of telling us that she does have experience with pokémon before in mentioning her mother's galvantula; two, I'm not sure how she's writing and walking at once (maybe that's something other people can do, but in my experience writing while walking makes you travel slowly and write illegibly, and it seems weird that Annie is doing this while carrying Kephi and also still in the process of regaining her fine motor control); and three, there's one little bit where you pair a plural noun with a singular verb:

the way his antennae drags
I can't tell from context whether you mean one antenna drags, or both antennae drag, but as it stands it isn't quite right.

But yeah, that's really about it, and that's nothing, really. Great work! I'd forgotten how much I liked this story, and I'll definitely be looking out for the next update, whenever it may come.
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
And she's finally off! I'd be lying if I said I remembered much about the old version of this fic, so you're mostly going to be free from me comparing this to that, but I'm pretty sure the past version wasn't nearly so well paced. This was a genuine pleasure to read; everything just fits together so well in this world of yours. I must have mentioned before how good you are with systems, and that really shines here as Annie prepares to depart: funding, insurance, supplies, rehabilitation, everything she encounters feels like a part of a much larger whole. The Sinnoh League is a real organisation here; there are people on the trainer routes to collect tolls, there are emergency phones, there are all the things you'd expect to see in real life but which, in stories, people sometimes forget would be there. This is a world where actual human people with actual human responsibilities sometimes go on trainer journeys – an impression that's really important with a character like Annie, of course, since a large part of her appeal is that she is so very human.
Finally, indeed. XD And that's okay, I don't expect people to remember. I only remember myself because I read all the old chapters in their entirety before diving into a new chapter for the revised version, to remind myself of where people found flaws, where people found things they liked, things I personally want to fix/add, etc. Otherwise, I've gotta check notes all the time, lmao.

Anyway, definitely glad to hear about systems! I'm sure I've said this before, but worldbuilding's always a struggle for me to write, particularly intertwining it with characters since they are the focus. So I don't always get to portray the "much larger whole" I have in mind, but sometimes, the little details speak for themselves, I suppose. Annie feeling so real and human is another plus. I liked her old character, but... here, I personally feel she's much more nuanced and has more depth, and I think I've finally settled in to her new voice, so that's a plus. :D

Which is as good a segue as any into how well you show her mind working, I guess. I've talked about why I like her before, and for once I won't just repeat myself, but something you do particularly well here is hit the balance between sounding natural and sounding pretty with her narration. Even when you do bring out the odd obvious rhetorical device (like the anaphora with “We, as if” at the end), it's never so obtrusively artificial as to break the illusion that we're just following the drift of Annie's thoughts. Either I've forgotten how good your prose is or it's got better; I think it's probably a bit of both.
I do have a lot of more poetic/pretty writing, haha, but I try not to go overboard. Think we talked about it before, but I'd say my prose has improved as well... Doing rewrites for two stories, all I really have to do is compare the versions to notice. Not to mention my writing process is just so different from what it used to be, and it feels more productive and comfortable to work with.

The only things I might quibble with are really minor – one, it seems odd that Annie wouldn't realise earlier that it's weird she can talk to Kephi right away, since you make a point of telling us that she does have experience with pokémon before in mentioning her mother's galvantula; two, I'm not sure how she's writing and walking at once (maybe that's something other people can do, but in my experience writing while walking makes you travel slowly and write illegibly, and it seems weird that Annie is doing this while carrying Kephi and also still in the process of regaining her fine motor control); and three, there's one little bit where you pair a plural noun with a singular verb:

I can't tell from context whether you mean one antenna drags, or both antennae drag, but as it stands it isn't quite right.
Hmm, I did try to put it into the beginning of the chapter, but it felt out of place and didn't flow well. Made sense to me that her focus would've been on getting on the road, and then, when alone with Kephi and unhindered by her parents/Renee/Gregory, she'd be able to figure it out.

I'm not sure I mentioned her actually writing while walking and holding Kephi, just that she wanted to and didn't know what to put. Was there a specific part that made you think otherwise? Something might've slipped through, there.

Noted on the antennae thing. I meant both of them. o:

But yeah, that's really about it, and that's nothing, really. Great work! I'd forgotten how much I liked this story, and I'll definitely be looking out for the next update, whenever it may come.
Thanks for reading and commenting, as always! I was kinda surprised this took 10 months to write. Time seems to have a way of passing by without me noticing, I guess. I'll try to not take as long for the next one, haha.
 

Negrek

Lost but Seeking
It's great to see you updating this again! And we're finally out of Sandgem!

This was a transitional chapter, and I feel like the real journey is going to feel like it begins in the next; a fair amount of this one was devoted to Annie's preparations, her goodbye (singular), and Gregory's instructions. Nothing wrong with that, and it's good to see the journey really getting underway, but on the whole this isn't one of the meatier chapters in terms of things to talk about.

He glowers at me, a similar expression of curiosity plastered on his face.
I'm a little confused as to what's going on here. How is he glowering if he also has a (similar?) expression of curiosity on his face? I wouldn't expect someone to be glowering but also seem curious at the same time.

I asked him if my parents refused to let him do home sessions with a poison-type parading around, but he promised that isn’t the case.
Little tense slip in the first sentence; should be "wasn't."

Each spring, Mom places baskets of them around the house to repel insects.
Huh, that's a cool detail. It's nice to see berries getting used for things other than healing and a generic food source.

Her fingers drag over to the wall, where she unplugs a cord charger and replaces it with an outlet cover designed to prevent electric-types from sneaking in through the electrical system.
This is another cool detail, although... are there even any pokémon besides joltik that would be able to get in through something as small as a socket?

If we weren’t tied down by genetics and feuds that she couldn’t bring herself to take sides in, we could’ve been closer.
Tied down by genetics? Is Annie saying things would be easier if Renee wasn't her biological sister?

My hands are already so damn full.
I do love this line, though!

I'm surprised Kephi was totally silent and docile while Annie and Gregory were discussing his health issues right in front of him. Nice that Annie picked up on the weirdness of it, too.

“I’d love to wipe that smug look off his face,” he tells me at some point. “You’re the trainer! Can’t you do anything?”
Given that it's Kephi, I'm surprised he doesn't just poison sting the guy even if he hasn't agreed to a fight. Since when does Kephi care whether he has permission? :p

A very nice ending to this chapter. I believe we'll be okay and Annie's reaction to it were so sad but understandable. You can really feel her hoping for better things, wishing that she actually could be okay, but not being able to believe it. The simplicity of "What a goddamn sorry sight" gets across her self-loathing so effectively and without you having to go into it explicitly; it's great. This was the high point of the chapter for me.

And unfortunately no, I don't think you're actually going to be okay, Annie. :p I see this story as having a bittersweet ending at best...

It's fun to see Kephi back again. He strikes me as a little less caustic on this go-around, or maybe just a little less loud, but he still has that contrarian streak and a bad attitude. I think introducing his hypoxia here but witholding the background on it makes more sense than the previous setup where we more or less learned about both at once. This way the audience is aware that there's something up and can anticipate eventually getting the full story, instead of it kind of coming up as a surprise, which I think works better.

And Gregory/his pokémon continue to be much more important characters here than they were previously. I wonder what Nate's deal is; maybe all of Gregory's pokémon have their own issues that Gregory tries to work through them with, similar to how Annie's team is eventually supposed to end up. He does imply that most of his pokémon are kind of difficult to work with, so...

It's great to see you posting stuff again, and especially a new chapter for this fic in particular, after so long! I hope you get your writing mojo back and can make some headway on all the fics you're juggling. To me it looks like this one is just starting to pick up!
 

Bay

YEAHHHHHHH
I admit to also wonder over Annie's apprently lack of reaction able to understand Kelphi, but from your response seems you'll bring that up later. I'm also curious if Annie understanding Pokemon is Kyurem's doing. I will say though Kelphi has such a spunky personality there haha. Nate seems to be harder to pinpoint, perhaps Annie will get to know him better next time.
Interesting take on the toll booths/guards you come across in various main games there, and I think not giving away yet what caused Kelphi's condition gives this sense of mystery that will make me want to find out more about that. Good to see this fic being updated once more!
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
It's great to see you updating this again! And we're finally out of Sandgem!

This was a transitional chapter, and I feel like the real journey is going to feel like it begins in the next; a fair amount of this one was devoted to Annie's preparations, her goodbye (singular), and Gregory's instructions. Nothing wrong with that, and it's good to see the journey really getting underway, but on the whole this isn't one of the meatier chapters in terms of things to talk about.
Finally indeed. xD And that's okay, you still left a helpful and insightful review regardless! Much appreciated.

I'm a little confused as to what's going on here. How is he glowering if he also has a (similar?) expression of curiosity on his face? I wouldn't expect someone to be glowering but also seem curious at the same time.
...With an eyebrow raised, maybe? xD Noted, along with the other typo. Thanks for pointing them out!

Huh, that's a cool detail. It's nice to see berries getting used for things other than healing and a generic food source.
I may have an absurdly lengthy document full of notes about berries, even though 99% of the material will probably never see its way into my fics. Oops.

Tied down by genetics? Is Annie saying things would be easier if Renee wasn't her biological sister?
It's meant to imply that Renee feels conflicted about siding with either their parents or Annie herself; she tries to remain neutral. It'd be different if they weren't siblings.

I'm surprised Kephi was totally silent and docile while Annie and Gregory were discussing his health issues right in front of him. Nice that Annie picked up on the weirdness of it, too.
It's just another way to annoy Annie. :p

Given that it's Kephi, I'm surprised he doesn't just poison sting the guy even if he hasn't agreed to a fight. Since when does Kephi care whether he has permission? :p
He's a changed bug! ...Not really. :p Just slightly different from the last rendition.

A very nice ending to this chapter. I believe we'll be okay and Annie's reaction to it were so sad but understandable. You can really feel her hoping for better things, wishing that she actually could be okay, but not being able to believe it. The simplicity of "What a goddamn sorry sight" gets across her self-loathing so effectively and without you having to go into it explicitly; it's great. This was the high point of the chapter for me.

And unfortunately no, I don't think you're actually going to be okay, Annie. :p I see this story as having a bittersweet ending at best...
Pretty glad to hear that, since I was sitting on the end of that scene, with the chapter 99% done, for a solid three weeks. xD It was tough getting the wording and the pacing right, but seems the effort was worth it!

It's fun to see Kephi back again. He strikes me as a little less caustic on this go-around, or maybe just a little less loud, but he still has that contrarian streak and a bad attitude. I think introducing his hypoxia here but witholding the background on it makes more sense than the previous setup where we more or less learned about both at once. This way the audience is aware that there's something up and can anticipate eventually getting the full story, instead of it kind of coming up as a surprise, which I think works better.
Yeah, it's my hope to make him a little less obnoxious and unlikable this time around (even if I seemed to portray that unlikeable-ness in a likeable way last time xD). We'll see how it goes, heh.

And Gregory/his pokémon continue to be much more important characters here than they were previously. I wonder what Nate's deal is; maybe all of Gregory's pokémon have their own issues that Gregory tries to work through them with, similar to how Annie's team is eventually supposed to end up. He does imply that most of his pokémon are kind of difficult to work with, so...
You're certainly on the right track, at any rate. xD They won't have nearly as much focus or screentime as Annie's Pokémon, but they'll serve to develop Gregory himself as time goes on.

It's great to see you posting stuff again, and especially a new chapter for this fic in particular, after so long! I hope you get your writing mojo back and can make some headway on all the fics you're juggling. To me it looks like this one is just starting to pick up!
Me, too. :C Time just flies by. I thought I wrote this chapter pretty fast, actually, then found out it'd taken 10 months... It happens, haha. Life's busy. Thanks for taking the time out of yours to read and comment!

I admit to also wonder over Annie's apprently lack of reaction able to understand Kelphi, but from your response seems you'll bring that up later. I'm also curious if Annie understanding Pokemon is Kyurem's doing. I will say though Kelphi has such a spunky personality there haha. Nate seems to be harder to pinpoint, perhaps Annie will get to know him better next time.
Interesting take on the toll booths/guards you come across in various main games there, and I think not giving away yet what caused Kelphi's condition gives this sense of mystery that will make me want to find out more about that. Good to see this fic being updated once more!
Annie suspects Kyurem herself, at least. Won't say if that's the case - no spoilers, hehe - but yeah, that sums up Kephi and Nate pretty well. Glad you liked the toll booths/guards scene as well as not telling the full story on Kephi yet! I hope you'll enjoy it when we get there. :D Thanks for reading and commenting!!!
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
The very first thing out of Kephi's mouth in this whole story is a "wtf". I love it. I love him. And he's so hissy. That's so cute.

Okay, I'd wondered if humidity could make doors stick, and now I'm almost completely sure of it. Do you know how hard it is to open the bathroom door here this time of year?

And oh god. Electric-types sneaking in... now there's a notion. I mean, okay, joltik are adorable. REALLY adorable. But they're still power drainers, and they can still technically kind of sort of tase you in the middle of the night on the way to the john. And god, imagine if something even worse got in. Like rotom. Wild rotom in the house would be a nightmare. I'd nope right out of there. If I survived. XD
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
The very first thing out of Kephi's mouth in this whole story is a "wtf". I love it. I love him. And he's so hissy. That's so cute.
I missed writing his snarky little self so much. xD

Okay, I'd wondered if humidity could make doors stick, and now I'm almost completely sure of it. Do you know how hard it is to open the bathroom door here this time of year?
Yeppp, it's been 100% humidity here on the east coast for 3 weeks straight. D:

And oh god. Electric-types sneaking in... now there's a notion. I mean, okay, joltik are adorable. REALLY adorable. But they're still power drainers, and they can still technically kind of sort of tase you in the middle of the night on the way to the john. And god, imagine if something even worse got in. Like rotom. Wild rotom in the house would be a nightmare. I'd nope right out of there. If I survived. XD
I'd probably keep all the joltik that crawled into my house, personally, because yes, they're very cute! Rotom... as long as it's not the ghost-type that's haunting all my appliances, I guess it can stay? lmao.

Thanks for the comments!
 

RocketKnight66

404: Consistent Schedule not Found
Hello! Sorry for the wait, but I'm here to give that prize review for MMM! Typically I'm not into trainer fics, but I found the premise of this one to be pretty interesting.

So to start, we have Kyurem talking with someone. Kyurem is in trouble and he seeks help from a girl who's suffered a stroke, and he's able to keep alive in order to help him. The way she's talked about leads me to wonder who the person is he's talking to. The stakes seem to be pretty high here, Kyurem having to lock himself away if this fails, and the girl will have to accept that call to adventure... it'll be kinda hard to live long otherwise. What I found neat about the prologue is the lack of dialogue between people. We just have Kyurem speaking to... somebody. I definitely liked reading it.

Then we find ourselves introduced to the girl, Annie. She seems very pessimistic, not that I can blame her. Honestly, I'm a bit of a pessimist myself, and I could definitely relate to a good bit of her thoughts.
I can’t deny that it’d be nice if I thought someone cared, but I’ve learned from past mistakes. Being the one who cares first puts you at a huge disadvantage.
I feel like this in particular stood out... it's something that I've gone through on decent few occasions in the past.

Apparently she's also an agnostic with religious parents. I know that's something that does happen and a lot of the time the parents would be disappointed with the child for not following their beliefs. Makes me wonder more about their relationship, really.

Throughout the whole thing though, I loved the prose. I've not read too many first-person fics before, and the way her thoughts were written was really interesting and enjoyable for me.

Overall, I liked the start of the this, and I'll probably read more of it in the future.
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
Hello! Sorry for the wait, but I'm here to give that prize review for MMM! Typically I'm not into trainer fics, but I found the premise of this one to be pretty interesting.

So to start, we have Kyurem talking with someone. Kyurem is in trouble and he seeks help from a girl who's suffered a stroke, and he's able to keep alive in order to help him. The way she's talked about leads me to wonder who the person is he's talking to. The stakes seem to be pretty high here, Kyurem having to lock himself away if this fails, and the girl will have to accept that call to adventure... it'll be kinda hard to live long otherwise. What I found neat about the prologue is the lack of dialogue between people. We just have Kyurem speaking to... somebody. I definitely liked reading it.

Then we find ourselves introduced to the girl, Annie. She seems very pessimistic, not that I can blame her. Honestly, I'm a bit of a pessimist myself, and I could definitely relate to a good bit of her thoughts.

I feel like this in particular stood out... it's something that I've gone through on decent few occasions in the past.

Apparently she's also an agnostic with religious parents. I know that's something that does happen and a lot of the time the parents would be disappointed with the child for not following their beliefs. Makes me wonder more about their relationship, really.

Throughout the whole thing though, I loved the prose. I've not read too many first-person fics before, and the way her thoughts were written was really interesting and enjoyable for me.

Overall, I liked the start of the this, and I'll probably read more of it in the future.
Hey, thanks for giving this story a shot and for your review! I'm glad you seem to enjoy it, even if it's not your typical cup of tea. First person prose is my bread and butter, so to speak, so I'm glad the style stuck out to you. And you're spot on with the characters and plot, so I know I'm expressing them right. Finally, thanks for the example on how Annie is relatable! Pessimistic thoughts are... unpleasant to experience, and though they're definitely common, people don't talk a lot about them. I like to explore those kinds of things in my stories.
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
I put this fic on hold to finish Flying in the Dark, then blitzed several chapters for NaNoWriMo 2019. Now we're back in the editing/posting business.

LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES
chapter 5
one foot in front of the other

*
The gods embody complacent, tight-lipped creatures… usually. But Kyurem? In my comatose dream he howled, each word oozing with vulnerability and bordering on hysteria.

Some of his spiel overflowed with melodrama, I know now. Obtaining foreign pokémon is going to be much, much easier than he implied. One trip to Jubilife’s Global Trade Station, and a fair portion of his instructions for me will have been exhausted already.

Up ahead is a towering building designated for cross-region trading, attached to the city’s comparatively modest Center. Anyone parading around Johto with a murkrow and its soft spot for shiny things and thievery can ship the bird off to Sinnoh and rid themselves of the nuisance, just like that. No doubt this will be far more productive than Sandgem’s library venture.

Fliers are plastered all over the building’s windows, depicting maps of other regions and recounting the story of the local Nurse Joy’s trusty blissey, a partnership that wouldn’t have existed without the GTS. Kephi rubs his antennae on the bricks, then slimes his way upward to tear at the corner of another poster advertising a snow festival that took place back in February. Apparently, there was an ice sculpture contest, where the winner made off with the latest pokétch model. Kephi rips halfway through a stratus cloud and is about to reach a cryogonal 3D model when I pull him off.

“What, you got a vendetta against ice-types for some reason?” I say.

“A type I’m not even weak against? Yeah, right. I wanted a snack. You don’t know what a feeding schedule is, it seems.”

“And you don’t know the difference between food and paper.”

Nate, the perpetually tongue-tied snivy, gauges us with a level stare a few feet away. His body is still except for the occasional twitch of his leaf-shaped tail. Such impassiveness reminds me of Gregory, who would probably flunk me on this mission if Nate or Kephi had a say in any performance report.

In a way they both determine the success or failure of my journey regardless. So I play along. “Anyway, uh, what did your old trainer do for you?” I ask.

“You remember where I ended up. Where you found me,” he says. “What a fucking stupid question.”

I wince. It hadn’t occurred to me until now that Gregory was Kephi’s main caretaker while I prepared for my journey. He didn’t instruct me on food preparation for pokémon, only myself. As if that were knowledge I should’ve acquired on my own time alongside everything else on my plate, or known instinctively.

The five day trek from Sandgem to Jubilife hadn’t embraced bonfire camping where we sat in a circle and shared ghost stories over too-charred chicken kebabs and smores for dessert. Nate feasted on his own; Gregory claimed there was no reason to worry about him. I assumed that Kephi did the same when he refused my charity and failed to broach the subject otherwise.

I regret not questioning the nurse on duty when we rented our room an hour ago. Diving into the cafeteria after making sure the keycard worked wouldn’t have been a bad idea, either. Because now that we’ve reached the city, I suppose Nate and Kephi have no choice but to depend on me for food.

“Okay,” I say. “Okay, just give me ten minutes in here, and we’ll find a café to settle in at after.”

“I’m holding you to it.”

“Have I already made a bunch of promises to you I haven’t kept? Or are you just automatically distrustful of others?”

“Humans tend to lose track of time. Eagerly, I might add,” he says, with a sneer for good measure. Nate holds a slim arm to his stomach as if in agreement.

Inside, a boy is bent over his plush couch seat near the far left wall, grooming his snubbull. One hand is occupied with a bristle brush and the other clutches a purple ribbon to attach once the chore is done. Beyond them is a working escalator also hugging the walls. It must lead to a set of shops, judging by the plastic bags that multiple trainers have trouble juggling on their way back to the main floor. Supplies to take care of their new partners, perhaps?

Standing at the other end of the GTS building, a receptionist on duty looks rattled at the line of trainers before her. She yells for them to have their pokédex and trainer card ready to scan, but she’s drowned out by a cacophony of distracted voices. You’d think a festival was taking place, what with all the activity here.

I’m a tad dizzied myself. From my perspective, there’s dozens of Sinnohan words spoken by pokémon hovering about, left unanswered. The crowd’s likely full of rookies, sprinkled with a few badge holders who need more experience still. If a trainer replies, their lack of understanding shows.

A buizel’s tail spins out of rhythm as it stomps its foot to emphasize a point, and I feel sorry for it when its trainer, a girl flipping through a magazine about evolution, revels over how she can’t wait to own the pokémon equivalent of a lifeguard. The buizel wants its trainer to know that evolution sounds terrible, and I want my parents to view me as anything except a young adult prone to childish tantrums. What’s the difference?

I open my mouth as I pass by these unknowing trainers, to straighten things out, to bridge the gap between pokémon and trainer, but it’s pointless.

As we reach the last trainer in line, who, like everybody else, is waiting to register their information internationally, a giant infographic poster on the back wall catches my eye. Immediately my mood sours and rivals even Kephi’s natural state of being.

Only trainers with proven skills and experience with pokémon—three badges’ worth, specifically—can take advantage of the GTS. Jubilife isn’t even part of the gym circuit, nor is it convenient to travel to mid-journey. Whose brilliant design was this?

Kephi snickers and says, “Can’t get rid of me that easily, asshole. Nice try.”

At the same time, the receptionist laughs a delirious laugh, her pigtails held by a blue satin scrunchie bouncing from the force of it. As if she were covering for an awkward joke a customer made, or trying to compensate for a complaint about her grumpiness. Feeling mocked, I curse her silently.

“Like I’d trade my starter,” I say to Kephi. I bend down to gather him up in my arms, and his subsequent hiss attracts a few looks. Holding up my hands in surrender, I add in a quiet but audible voice, “I wanted to get you a teammate so we’re not overwhelmed once we start training and battling. I’d find something catchable people want in return for something we want, and it’d be a win-win situation. Except I need badges first, apparently.”

“Nor do you want to wait a whopping six months before you can ship it through the technological ether, I imagine.”

“Wait, what?”

“I guess you didn’t reach that part of the reading lesson yet. I’ll leave you to it.”

And so he slinks off toward the opposite end of the wall, which dons the same poster but in four other languages. The bottom of the Kaloseux version is covered by a leather reception chair, most likely swiveled away from its proper spot by some prankster ghost-type. Its partner in crime probably left the slash in the seat cushion, then scattered some stuffing across the linoleum floor, too. Kephi ignores the mess, though he could easily add to it with his signature slime. He takes advantage of the space under the chair instead. It’s just big enough for him to fit and hide from the world.

Humans talking to pokémon isn’t a complete anomaly, but a pokémon who can read is. Even if Kephi can read, truly, the viewing angle his hunchbacked self had of the poster was all wrong. So no, he had to learn the information from someone else.

Perhaps Kephi isn’t hiding from the world—just me, who forced him to reminisce about his old trainer. Again.

I sigh and glance at Nate. “Well, let’s see what other hurdles I’d have to jump over, then.”

He nods in approval—the first positive sign I’ve detected from him since we partnered up.

It’s inconvenient for me, but I can appreciate the rules being strict. If you own an endangered species, or one near threatened in their native habitat, you have to prove the everyday environmental conditions it’ll experience in your care are adequate. This way, ice-types won’t land in the heart of Cinnabar without their trainer taking precautions first.

Breeders and trainers who wish to expand their team of six require a license to ensure that each pokémon is both physically and mentally taken care of. If they want to maintain their license, they have to be examined annually. And before a baby can be adopted, before a pet or battle-ready pokémon can be traded, six months must pass and the owner must write a letter to the League expressing all the reasons why they should be given permission to seal the deal.

There’s no reason to loiter here, but another heading at the bottom of the poster catches my eye: trading pokémon meat, bones, skin, body parts… The logical part of me knows that these caveats are geared toward the restaurant industry, museums, research laboratories, the like. But I find myself shivering at the image of Kephi’s old trainer, a shapeless silhouette in my ignorant mind, amputating the venipede’s antennae because they failed to work when he needed them to.

I agree with the League. I shouldn’t have the right to pluck a pokémon out of its home just to send it to a different region. Whether Kephi himself should’ve been entrusted to me is still up in the air.

Without meaning to, I break into a light jog so I can reach Kephi as fast as I can. Nate lags behind on his digitless feet. My hemiparesis warns me to slow down, my mind reassuring me, too, that there’s no particular time limit on us warming up to each other. Inside and out, I feel the kind of fuzziness you get when standing in place too long and your limbs need to wake up again.

The tears in the reception chair look unsalvageable up close. Kephi’s antennae poke out from his hidey hole, where unsuspecting souls can step on them and provoke him into making use of his poison glands.

“Hm, I wonder where Kephi could be,” I say, a mocking lilt to my voice. Then, the weight of our situation crash-landing onto my body, already exhausted from imitating normalcy, I drop the charade. “You shouldn’t have let me walk in here. At all.”

Silence. I hope the din of the crowd around us isn’t preventing us from hearing each other, but at last he says, “Yeah, it’s my fault.”

“No, that’s not—”

“I wanted to see what you were up to. You’re hard to read.”

He’s one to talk. But my own silence dominates the conversation now.

A few people passing by turn their head toward me, their eyes scrunched up as if searching for the translucent ghost-type I must have. What other kind of trainer seemingly babbles at inanimate objects, walls, the air itself? Nate, practically invisible, does little to dispel the onlookers’ incredulity.

“Besides,” Kephi says suddenly, “what could I have done to trump the Nurse Joy who blabbed about this place like it’s worth all the emeralds in the world?”

“Yeah, her enthusiasm was a bit much. The staff team must benefit nicely compared to any other Center in Sinnoh based on location alone.”

“Obviously. They’re the ones who scan pokémon from head to toe or whatever ****ed up anatomy applies before giving the go ahead to trade.”

“Maybe I should become a nurse, and that’s how I’ll make money,” I say. My voice betrays my lack of perceptiveness. Still struggling to entirely grasp the intelligence that pokémon are capable of, I feel extra sorry for those with ignorant trainers. Not that I’m a role model of any kind, nor do I aspire to be one. I also feel a pang of envy for the trainers themselves and their permission, their excuse, to be carefree.

“I’m no blissey, but I’m in if it means constant access to food,” Kephi says. With his newfound lightness he crawls out from under the chair. He ogles Nate hopefully, but the snivy doesn’t confirm his food hypothesis. “Bah, fine. Gregory will tell me.”

The duo, almost in unison, starts shifting their heads this way and that—looking for the exit, I presume.

“All right, come on, we can go,” I say, wishing that this meant the day was over. “You never have to see this place again if you don’t want to, Kephi.”

“I don’t want to. So you better not change your mind once you get some gym badges under your belt.”

Badges. He thinks I want badges? I’m about to interrogate him about it, that’s how much of a revelation his statement is to me—and the day’s events have included one surprise after the other—but he’s already slinked off on his own. Straight into another trainer in his careless temper, no less. I hear Nate gasp and interpret that to be his way of sounding an alarm. I size up the trainer when she doesn’t skirt around Kephi and carry on with her day.

She’s new. That much is obvious, what with the chimchar dancing at her feet and the keen grin characteristic of overly confident youth fresh from Professor Rowan’s lab. The snapback cap, donning the League logo and tilted on her head, offers an extra air of smugness. Breaking eye contact with Kephi, she turns to Nate, then me, and her face stretches even further. It occurs to me that she might feel superior, being younger and with the type advantage. I refuse to blink, but, apparently seasoned, she stands undeterred.

“Go on, scram now,” I say. “Sorry he got in the way, but your lingering’s creeping me out.”

“Well,” she starts slowly, “I thought he was approaching me because he was interested, but…”

“But what? That’s illegal, and we’re in a public space?”

The girl gives up on our staring contest in favor of cringing. So she’s not the youngest in the room, but old enough to not take the bait and cause a ruckus over my off-color comment. If Kephi himself is perplexed by my attempt at practicing his sense of humor, he doesn’t show it.

“Your poor pokémon,” she says, shaking her head. “I meant interested in a battle!”

I dig my left hand deep into my jeans pocket, hoping to smother the pervasive tingling sensation traveling up to my wrist. The girl takes a half step back, nearly tripping over the loose rip at the cuffs of her own jeans. Might I have another, unenlarged pokéball hiding, one whose contents would add to her lost battle count? This kind of tension is enjoyable, so I leave her in suspense.

She reaches up with her own hand, fingernails painted sky blue with white polka dots, and wipes her blonde bangs away. It’s at this point Kephi decides to intervene. Closing the distance between the chimchar and him, he declares, “You’re on, dude.”

Then the venipede looks up at me, his expression somehow both hopeful and threatening. He’s so small, I’m afraid he’ll break his neck doing that so often. I’m afraid, too, I admit, of losing and watching the last fringes of our self-esteem dissolve. Not to mention whatever sliver of respect we may or may not have for each other.

I’ve got a tall order in front of me, trying not to make him feel not so small. But we can’t just jump in blindly. Nate and Gregory would agree, but Kephi…

Well. One foot in front of the other.

I take a deep breath and say, “Sorry, pipsqueak. I appreciate the challenge, but I’d rather not set the building on fire and have to pay reparations.”

“What?” Kephi hisses. “She’s a rookie and I’ve got experience! Or did you forget that? Can’t get it through your thick skull?”

His rage is obvious, even to the girl. She glances at her chimchar, whose mouth hangs agape, perhaps impressed by the bug-type’s fiery spirit.

I bend down to Kephi’s level and say, “Look, she’s challenging us because of the type advantage. Like you’ll be an easy win for her. Give in to that, and you’re letting others control you. Besides,” I add, amazed at the lack of interruption this far into the conversation, “we haven’t trained together at all yet. Clobbering the wildlife on our way here doesn’t count, since you did that independently.”

I hold my breath for a quiet surrender, but no such luck.

“Huh. You’re giving up after the first real obstacle in your journey already. You better not be a dropout in a few weeks, joining all the other kids who realize training’s not as fucking extravagant as they thought it’d be.”

If only he knew about the assortment of invisible obstacles in my way. But I can’t answer him candidly, not with our audience here. I hold my palm up to prompt him to stop, and his voice dissolves into an indignant gurgle.

“Again, we’ll pass,” I say to the girl.

“Are you sure?”

“Very.”

“All right, then fork it over,” she says. Her grin returning, she holds out her hand. The annoyance from the tollbooth situation yesterday flares up. This can’t be a gesture trainers are meant to see daily.

“Excuse me?”

“Losers pay winners. Since you declined, well, you’re a loser by default.”

“Come on, just let me fight,” Kephi says. He wraps his antennae around my shoe and squeezes in a strange, futile attempt to change my mind.

“Surely the League didn’t devise such as a stupid rule that allows you to rip people off so handily,” I say. I motion to Nate, whose face is simultaneously inscrutable and judgmental. If this is a test he wants me to complete alone, I am bound to fail.

“Hey, not my fault,” the girl says. “How old are you that you don’t know this stuff? Anyway, you owe me five rubies.”

It’s a modest sum for a scam, so maybe she isn’t lying. But I don’t have time to dwell on her shenanigans when the tempest that is Kephi possesses the pervasive ability to make my head swim, unable to tread. Forget Gregory and Nate’s little experiment. My starter’s switching between squeezing my shoes and my ankles. If he could access his full strength, would he succeed in cutting off my circulation? Treating him as if he has that power is what he wants, I suspect.

“I hope your ass gets handed to you in your next real battle,” I say, scrambling for five rubies in my backpack and shoving them into the girl’s hand. Two miss their mark and clatter to the ground. Her chimchar moves to rescue the so-called prize as I sweep Kephi into the crook of my arms and ditch the cursed GTS building.

Contrary to what Kephi thinks, I doubt we’ll be coming back. I might as well circle back to my parent’s house when I get the urge to to bask in a miserable place.

“Put me down!” I hear Kephi’s demand, but he sounds farther away than he actually is. “If only I could be rid of you!”

Outside, there’s an empty green metal bench I sit on, careful to avoid the bird droppings hogging the left side. Nate, seemingly accustomed to bodily filth, plops down without concern. I set Kephi on the grass and marvel at the way his weight, unnoticeable in my arms, flattens the blades beneath him.

“Sorry, but I really couldn’t have handled our first battle right then and there,” I say.

“Sounds like a personal problem. I’m used to thinking on my feet, you know.”

Is he, though? He seems the type to resort to emotions before logical reasoning. Yet a neglectful old trainer can, if nothing else, be successful in breeding an independent pokémon prone to the fight-or-flight response.

“Okay,” he says when I don’t answer him. “Okay.”

“Uh, okay, yeah. I’m glad you get it.”

Suddenly he opens his mouth wide. I swear I can see the gob of poison forming in his throat before he spits it out at me. I jolt out of my seat and sidestep him easily as a result, but not without bumping shoulders with a passerby woman who, for some reason, is wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around her neck like it’s still winter.

Winter.

A flashing thought, uninvited but resolute: It would have been simpler, kinder, if Kyurem had let me die.

A second thought to drown out the first and ground me to the present moment: Did Kephi mean to hit or miss his mark?

“Good speed, sort of,” he says. “You should train more, do the battling yourself. I’ll be the trainer. Our personalities are more suited to those roles, don’t you think?”

“I… I’m sure that’s how it works somewhere in the world.”

As usual, Kephi resists my attempt to lighten the mood. “Fuck logistics. Leave that to the League. I just want to battle, and you took my opponent away, so do you want to be my opponent?”

“What?”

“You heard me. Right here, right now.”

Nate’s slight, ear-catching gasp makes me want to throttle something. Why won’t he intervene if he’s so disturbed?

The pity in my voice seeps out without me meaning for it to. “We’re still in public, Kephi,” I say.

“You’re underestimating me. It’s my condition right? That’s what stopped you?”

So he saw right through me. Not that I think the rationale I proposed to him is unreasonable, but as far as avoiding a battle with an inexperienced trainer goes, well, the paths my logic could follow were rather limited.

“To be fair, I really don’t know all your—our—strengths and limitations yet. But yes, fine, that was my first thought. I’m sorry.”

The hump on his back expands, then contracts again in one long, drawn breath. “Okay,” he says. “Now that you’ve been honest, let me make one thing clear.”

“I’m listening.”

“If you ever underestimate me again, I’ll kill you.”

He wouldn’t. His threat, it has to be empty, a power play and a byproduct of his grudge toward the world. Then again, how well do I know him? Not at all, clearly, given my constant failure to appease him ever since Professor Rowan officiated my initiation to become a trainer.

I want to retreat into my mind, the usual coping mechanism I resort to. But he’s lodged another poison sting at me before I can check out. My body instinctively reacts, darts to the right. The gob of sludge lands in a nearby pile of camellia bushes, followed by a slight cry.

Interestingly enough, Kephi’s muscles tense up at the sound. This could be my chance for… something—I don’t know what, but my body and my mind are in agreement that we should pursue it. I remind myself that Gregory had told me to keep sudden, speedy movements to a minimum and force myself to only walk toward the bushes.

Up close, Kephi’s unintended target blends in with the deep pink flower petals, except the cherubi is missing a bouquet of yellow stamen. And its second head is bruised purple, a surefire sign of poison.

Cherubi, they’re native to Sinnoh. I can’t deny my disappointment, or the shame I feel because that’s my first thought. More practically, I recognize the pokémon as a grass-type, which leaves it extra vulnerable to high toxicity levels. I watch with uncertainty as the cherubi sobs pitifully, its second head throbbing with greater intensity as the moments pass.

“Kephi, come here,” I say, motioning him over. His eyes are glued to the ground, his carapace rigid. Still, I don’t have to prod him twice. Shaking his head, he scuttles on over and through the bushes. His legs leave sharp imprints in the soil and a few serrated leaves drag along his back before rattling back into place.

“It’s a cherubi,” I tell him. Then I finally turn to address the victim of circumstance. “You all right, little guy?”

It begins to mumble an answer, its voice feminine and high-pitched—because of the pain? No, she has female markings, a shorter stripe between her eyes than a male would. Not expecting me to understand her, she turns to Kephi and asks, “Was that your poison?”

“Yeah,” Kephi says with the slightest of stammers. Then his triumphant self takes the stage. “Yeah, it was. Feels terrible, don’t it?”

I’m about to set in motion another lecture when another, greater—riskier, to be sure, but greater if I can reap the reward I want—idea slaps my mouth shut. My new plan gambles on my suspicions about Kephi and how he doesn’t, in fact, have the capacity of a killer. To avoid seeming heartless or as if I’m bluffing, the cherubi should continue to believe I can’t hear her pleas, only Kephi’s protests, which, from her perspective, I can decipher from his body language. And I have to utilize my well-practiced poker face.

I silently promise that I’ll make it right at the end, or intervene if necessary. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time… I know the rotten feeling all too well.

Looking behind us, I see how Nate’s swivelled around on the bench to watch and listen. His eyes are clouded, feasibly weary from traveling alongside two disasters. I have to choose my words carefully and not alert Nate to any commotion that will further tank his impression of me.

“Lucky you, Kephi, when we still haven’t gotten you any food,” I say. “You’d hunt grass-types in the wild, right? Let’s save us some money. Here’s your lunch.”

As I’d hoped, the venipede’s eyes widen, overshadowing his heavy lids. They shrink into a formidable glare. “You can’t be serious,” he says.

“Why not?” I say, shrugging. My own nonchalance stuns me.

“Wait—” The cherubi, she stops herself again after forgetting for a moment the futility of addressing me. In a few more moments things will be okay again and I’ll beg for forgiveness and I’ll move on with my life whether or not my wish is granted.

Sometimes it really is that simple.

“Why not?” Kephi repeats in a mocking tone. “I’m no feral, and I’m not a wild ‘mon looking to prove its worth to you! Nor are we stranded and have no other choice! You can feed me like a normal trainer.”

“Come on, I don’t wanna blow all my money on food in Jubilife. Just go for the easy meal.”

“I—”

“Trainers with a safe supply saved up are scarce, you know. I’m not one of them. And with little girls and their chimchars parading around Sinnoh, my wallet will wear out quick.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have become a fucking trainer, then!”

Kephi couldn’t be more right on that point. Or maybe pokémon shouldn’t be competent enough to fathom the complexities of human society. “Too late,” I mumble, too low to be heard. Then louder, assertive: “Are you going to eat or not?”

The real question is, is he going to kill or not? Bending down, I glide my fingers across the coarse grass. I pull a few blades and rub them between my fingers, until they fall away and Kephi has not moved. The cherubi is equally frozen, fusing herself with the background so completely that a feral, even at this distance, would lose track of her. My breath hitches, relinquishing itself to the inescapable stillness.

Scowling, Kephi finally plunges into the undergrowth. My diaphragm trembles, spasms. I clutch my ribcage and wait for my breathing to ease back into the involuntary process it’s supposed to be when I have pokémon vying for my attention. When I go to scan the cherubi’s body and figure out how much the poison’s spread in the last several minutes, her camouflage briefly tricks me. It’s the ugly pulsing purple consuming her second head that gives her away.

“Don’t waste anymore energy,” I tell her. As I move to rest on my knees and retrieve the sole bottle of antidote from my backpack, the cherubi drops her facade. She thrusts the petals on her heads forward—a feeble leafage attack that earns her a bald appearance and nothing else. She whines and whines, her potent vocal cords providing the last viable show of distress that might elicit mercy from her enemy.

“Shh, no! Look, I’m going to heal you,” I say, my words stumbling over each other. All I want is for Nate to remain blissfully ignorant of the situation. For that to happen, the cherubi needs to hush. In my rush to find the antidote bottle, Nate’s pokéball rolls out, its mossy color contrasting with the bright camellia bushes.

I grapple with the bottle topper. Between its skull and crossbones label, one hand disobeying me, and the cherubi’s lamentations, I can’t move fast enough. “It’s fine now,” I say. Whether I’m reassuring myself or the cherubi, or both of us, is undecided. “I’m sorry for scaring you. I just wanted to see…”

Miraculously and doomingly, the cherubi quiets down to listen to my explanation. As if there is one that’s sensible. Something tells me that the truth would not suffice: Hey, I made terrible life choices and suffered a coma as punishment, and then I was rescued by the ice god Kyurem, who you may or may not worship as a grass-type, so now, I’m responsible for an undetermined team of pokémon that inevitably will have deep seated psychological problems I’ll have to uncover if I want to live past age twenty-five…

I might’ve just made progress by uncovering one thing. Kephi wants strength and control. His definition for those doesn’t include killing. The toughness, the threats, they’re a protective front.

The cherubi whispers to herself, “Is she really going to heal me?”

She reminds me just how self-absorbed I am. I cup my fingers around her tiny, weightless body, then tilt her carefully so I can properly view her second head. Shivering under my touch, the cherubi whines—this time not from helplessness, but from sheer pain.

I can fix this, fix her. Maybe I can’t fix anything else right now, or ever, but this is something I can do, at least.

After gently prodding the cherubi to drink the antidote, a clear and sticky liquid that reminds me of cough medicine, the effects are near instantaneous. Her bruises first dissipate into purple veins, followed by a normal fuchsia color and a relieved expression on both heads. I hold her in silence until she reaches one hundred percent. Even if my starter is using this as an opportunity to slip away from me permanently, I have no regrets.

Another minute passes before the cherubi hops out of my hand, good as new. She takes several steps backward while keeping an eye on me. She’s afraid of me still, and justifiably so. But then she thinks better of it and, with her second head covered by the bushes already, nods to me. That’s her way of saying thank you, I think, so I nod back. My voice has abandoned me completely or else I’d spill my guts to her.

The heat of the day catches up with me as I stagger back to Nate. Or perhaps that’s only adrenaline revolting against me for putting it to work, again, when trainers like me should relax within city walls before tackling the next stretch of wilderness. Relaxing on a cleaner section of the bench, at least, is Nate, with a dark lump lying beneath him. It strikes me like an unwanted phone call that that’s Kephi sleeping and allowing Nate to perch so close. As a grass-type, isn’t the snivy afraid? Why are those two on good terms now, anyway? Surely I can’t be the only one afraid and lost in the face of seemingly insurmountable situations.

“Whatever,” I say, to neither of them. “We’re done. Gregory’s mission is done, and I failed.”

Writing the day’s events in my journal, as Gregory asked me to, would take another couple hours that I just don’t have the energy for. The muscles in my hand could take it, but not the liar in me, who has to spin a spiderweb to avoid the truth and cast herself in a favorable light.

Fiddling with my pokédex, I wish it could spell out the knowledge I need to make this journey work. What is a venipede’s average weight or a snivy’s egg classification supposed to do for me? And the diet facts are too broad, or else they could have helped me earlier.

Before dialing Gregory, I resolve not to mention the intermittent tingling sensations in my body. He’s already wasted time perfecting my posture and movements for the exercises I should do as necessary. It’s not his fault if I don’t comply, and I don’t deserve his fretting over me.

The conversation is quick. I claim that I kept up with my journal as best I could, until I lost my only pen in the middle of Route 202, and no other trainer I passed by had thought to carry one. Oh, and it turns out that I was scammed by the little girl and her chimchar—when the power balance between trainers is too uneven, either side is free to decline without penalty, including gym leaders. I’d have five more rubies to my name if I’d just admitted Kephi’s experience to her. Nate’s been great, well-behaved, et cetera. And no, we didn’t run into any real trouble.

He’ll pick up Nate later this evening, and my journal. After that, would he hunt me down if I tried to cut contact with him completely? The urge to find out is overwhelming.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Kephi’s awake and fully alert once me and Gregory hang up. I wonder what chaos has to happen now, but just for a moment. The answer is all too obvious.

“Let’s finally go get you, like, a massive steak. Or whatever you’re in the mood for,” I say. “You must be starving.”
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
The gods embody complacent, tight-lipped creatures… usually. But Kyurem? In my comatose dream he howled, each word oozing with vulnerability and bordering on hysteria.
He probably mostly just misses the rest of his flesh.

Kephi rips halfway through a stratus cloud and is about to reach a cryogonal 3D model when I pull him off.

“What, you got a vendetta against ice-types for some reason?” I say.

“A type I’m not even weak against? Yeah, right. I wanted a snack. You don’t know what a feeding schedule is, it seems.”

“And you don’t know the difference between food and paper.”
Somehow I get the feeling that the paper comes closer to constituting actual food than a real cryogonal would.

“Like I’d trade my starter,” I say to Kephi. I bend down to gather him up in my arms, and his subsequent hiss attracts a few looks.
Possibly because of the cuteness of it all. Little hissy bug.

“Come on, just let me fight,” Kephi says. He wraps his antennae around my shoe and squeezes in a strange, futile attempt to change my mind.
"RIP your foot," I tried to say with a straight face. I failed.

Outside, there’s an empty green metal bench I sit on, careful to avoid the bird droppings hogging the left side. Nate, seemingly accustomed to bodily filth, plops down without concern.
Nate, that's nasty. You're nasty.

I jolt out of my seat and sidestep him easily as a result, but not without bumping shoulders with a passerby woman who, for some reason, is wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around her neck like it’s still winter.
It's a Sinnoh thing. :B

I might’ve just made progress by uncovering one thing. Kephi wants strength and control. His definition for those doesn’t include killing. The toughness, the threats, they’re a protective front.
I would imagine much the same can be said for the hissing. Kephi confirmed for kitten.


The cherubi was so cute. ;o; You might think I wouldn't say that, considering I just spent like two months trying to get a munchlax out of a tree and consequently have had to shoo away quite a lot of the little things, but nope! Cute fruit is cute. I'm glad things turned out all right for her.
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
He probably mostly just misses the rest of his flesh.

Somehow I get the feeling that the paper comes closer to constituting actual food than a real cryogonal would.

Possibly because of the cuteness of it all. Little hissy bug.

"RIP your foot," I tried to say with a straight face. I failed.

Nate, that's nasty. You're nasty.

It's a Sinnoh thing. :B

I would imagine much the same can be said for the hissing. Kephi confirmed for kitten.

The cherubi was so cute. ;o; You might think I wouldn't say that, considering I just spent like two months trying to get a munchlax out of a tree and consequently have had to shoo away quite a lot of the little things, but nope! Cute fruit is cute. I'm glad things turned out all right for her.
Wow, I'm really sad that I only just now saw this. My email failed to notify me, and I failed to see any notification here. T_T Thank you for the amusing and awesome review, AS ALWAYS! <3 I sincerely hope you're doing well.


LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES

chapter 6
now’s your time

*​

I wake up the next morning in the middle of some dream about slime. A rubdown of the Center’s satin pillow sheets assures me of a cleaner reality. The houndstooth pattern makes it difficult to search by sight alone, and anyway, my eyes are still adjusting to the windows’ spilled sunlight.

Part of me is shocked. It’d be just like Kephi, to cover my bed in slime when I’m defenseless—especially after yesterday’s fiascos.

Yesterday… It’s funny how my biggest worry then was his propensity for killing. Well, he’s missed his chance several times now.

When my eyes can function properly, I search the room for Kephi. Immediately my gaze settles on the door and the fire escape plan next to it. Camping on Route 202 with my cheap mummy sleeping bag meant that unless I cleared the fallen branches and pinecones to settle against some tree trunks, all sides of me were exposed. But I’ve gone back to my natural state of facing myself toward the door when sleeping, it seems.

Renee, being an early riser, used to sneak into my bedroom to borrow clothes she’d never return, or she’d jumpscare me as payback for snoozing past noon and leaving her no one to play with. The obvious solution to my twelve-year-old body was to become a light sleeper and not keep my back to the door. That way I would awaken to the slightest of sounds, her moving shadow.

Will I have to take precautions with Kephi, too? Only if I keep demoting him to my afterthoughts. Besides, there’s a more important question hovering over me: Will I learn, really learn, that he’s more than an obligation?

Again I feel the abrupt need to find him, run after him if I have to. In a way it’s more unnerving than my hemiparesis. I pivot this way and that, scanning the room for any sign of him. The tray of complimentary toiletries on the dresser is untouched. So is the stack of plastic water cups, the tissue box, the phone book…

This is not the room of a restless, vengeful venipede. For a split second I contemplate the notion that he’s not here. He’s escaped me somehow, without ruckus because silence hurts more. And he’s not coming back. There’s no compelling reason for him to be loyal.

Then—there’s the tiniest view of his hunchback rising and falling underneath the love seat in the far corner where the windows are. The pinch-pleat curtains, I see now, are pulled back after I’d made a point to close them last night lest the sunrise woke me. I smile at his subtle trick, then make a mental note to check the bottom of the curtains for slime before handing in the room’s cardkey today.

Today, yes, because I’ve decided already that Jubilife’s got nothing left to offer. Okay, maybe the string of GTS disappointments stung deeper than I’ll admit. But the city reeks of booming businesses every which way regardless—for example, promises of a new pokétch model release next month when the current one is less than a year old and a dozen large screens surrounding Sinnoh’s TV network headquarters, each displaying a different channel with subtitles only... All of it, I’d gamble, belongs to the invisible business of manipulation and greed.

I quietly practice the exercises that Gregory taught me while I’m free from prying, judgmental eyes. When Kephi wakes, he doesn’t object to my plan. I didn’t think he’d mind straying farther away from memories of his old trainer. The matter of being dropped and locked into Professor Rowan’s little playpen of unwanted pokémon can’t be pleasant to look back on, either.

So we get breakfast first thing—much to Kephi’s delight—and we pay our dues. Then we wind our way down streets named using words too sugary for me: Glee Street, Festive Avenue, Mirthful Boulevard. How did the City of Joy manage to avoid working its magic on the one day I could’ve used it?

Nothing to be done about it except try to start over. Again.

*

It takes but two hours for me to find a compelling reason to appreciate Jubilife.

Unlike the city, Route 203 is overgrown. The League’s city divisions are responsible for clearing dangerous battle remnants—a half-toppled tree here, an unnatural rock formation there—and maintaining trainer trails, but inspectors are either slacking or falsifying reports for some reason. It’s as if Jubilife’s cash flow can’t sacrifice a single silver for conservation work. The hardworking residents of Oreburgh who braved the mountainous terrain to help build Jubilife from scratch centuries ago would be ashamed.

Personally, I could do without the scrapes on my legs from all the plant thorns jutting out. And ducking under low branches every couple minutes. Up ahead I even see a series of stray logs we’ll need to work ourselves around, all of them half-covered in moss and cloakless burmy bumbling about. I’m so focused on the obstacle ahead that I don’t notice a hanging string shot web in front of me and let out an embarrassing squeal. Kephi giggles from somewhere in the underbrush.

At least the weather forecast was right for once. There’s not a cloud anywhere, letting the sun beat down with full strength. There’s no wind, either, to carry smells of pollution out of the city. So I’d been eager to wear my untouched athletic shorts, which I’d bought before the stroke hit in anticipation of all the outdoor adventures that spring and summer usher in. The warmer seasons were perfect for leaving the house day after day without my parents demanding explanations.

My parents... The thought of them reminds me that I’ve never quite known how to balance my inner and outer surroundings, either. I’m barely human material after two decades on this earth, in fact. Do I have any right to criticize Jubilife?

Despite that, I’m a tad miffed when, fifteen minutes later, we notice a sign with “leave no trace” instructions, and steps to report damages done outside of designated battlefields. There’s a map to show where these battlefields are, along with more toll stations, rest areas where traveling salesmen can meet you if you’re low on supplies, phone boxes, campgrounds…

I’m more interested in seeing how far we’ve walked when a purple flash speeds past my peripheral vision. It comes from the overflowing trash receptacles behind the sign, but there’s only stillness in the direction I think it fled to.

“Was that you, Kephi?” I call out. Though his lack of agility makes for an obvious answer, perhaps he’ll take my question as a compliment.

“No,” Kephi calls back, distractedly. “I think I know what it might be, though. Let’s hope I’m wrong.”

“That’s, uh, ominous.” I imagine the beastly Kyurem accosting us briefly, then shake my head. As if a legendary pokémon would be so tiny, and the colors are wrong. Probably it’s another poison-type, and Kephi can sense its maliciousness or that its attacks would be potent enough to hurt him.

“Just keep walking, unless you were planning to throw yourself in the trash where you belong,” he says.

Before I can take a step, there’s the purple flash again, zipping back and forth until it successfully knocks over the garbage cans. Their lids clang to the ground, flushing a bland brown and white bird out of the surrounding cedar trees. The purple flash lets out a shriek as a mountain of trash threatens to pin it to the ground, but it escapes and the route radiates a false sense of calmness again.

The newfound smell of rotten food mixed with mildew from wet, broken down cardboard boxes isn’t pleasant. I plug my nose and scan the area, afraid to move and afraid to stay lest the purple flash lunge at me next. Some glass potion bottles with leftovers inside catch my eye. Snatching them would save me more than a couple rubies down the road. If only I could—

The purple flash appears and claims the bottles for itself before I can get my thoughts in order. It mutters the word “shiny” again and again, enthused and indifferent to my presence. One good look at the now stationary pokémon tells me that it’s not from around here. At best I can tell that it’s catlike and capable of walking on two legs. Plus other useless information—cream fur patches, sharp emerald green eyes, and pink eyebrows dark enough to blend in if they weren’t comically large.

My inability to name the species before me is short-lived. I inhale sharply, wanting to freeze time and concoct a plan to add the purrloin to my team. Kephi acted like a huge threat was looming, but how much damage can a cat do to a human and a poison-type? I’d tell Kephi that he overreacted if he wasn’t still hiding. And if the purrloin wasn’t staring at me with a feral, wide-eyed look. Despite its previous display of agility, it seems frozen, as if I’ve caught it committing a crime and it stopped time to conjure up a cover story.

Slowly it moves to sit on all fours, resigned. Its eyes occasionally glance at the glass potions rolling in the dirt until they hit a snag and are forced to stop. The purrloin can have its shiny prize, really. I’m willing to spend extra rubies if it means upgrading my team and, in turn, the chances of pleasing Kyurem.

Kephi soon crawls out from the underbrush to set time in motion again. “Virokoe, right?” he asks in a whisper.

The purrloin grins briefly, then sports an abysmal frown. “Yeah,” it says, voice deeper than I’d expect of a cat not bearing its teeth. “You know of me, I take it,” he adds in a deadpan way.

“Mm. Annie, this is Virokoe,” Kephi says. He points toward the purrloin with one antenna. “He’s Jubilife’s most famous TV star.”

I say nothing, disbelieving but not wanting to contradict my starter. I’m looking at not just a species native to Unova, but a pokémon star? Forget the scenic backdrop here being overrun by spilled garbage. If Kephi is right, Virokoe’s presence must be an act of divine intervention. Unluckiness defines my lot in life, after all.

Virokoe lowers his head. “Are you going to take me back to Jubilife now?” he says. His plaintive tone intensifies my resolve to leave the city.

“No,” I say, perhaps too eagerly when neither pokémon has told me the full story. “Why would I?”

Tightening his lips, Virokoe goes quiet. He releases his grasp on the shiny bottle he’d been so excited over and, lifting his body and straightening his legs, looks like he might take advantage of my ignorance by bolting.

Kephi shatters that prospect. “The cat’s on the run,” he says. “Has been for a while, actually.”

“Blabbermouth,” Virokoe says, voice reduced to a mere whine.

Kephi ignores him. “You wouldn’t believe some of the 10-year-olds I saw go nuts if their devices lost service or the batteries died, Annie, just because they couldn’t see him perform. Or, more recently, get the scoop on his mysterious disappearance.”

“Blabbermouth!” Virokoe says again.

Now’s not the time to consider that my starter’s already irritating his new teammate. He doesn’t know better yet. Nonetheless, the tension between them is contagious. I slip my shaking hand into my pocket. Out of sight means out of mind, supposedly.

“A TV star.” I make eye contact with Virokoe to let him know that I’m interested in his side of the story, too. “What show?”

Crawling in between us, Kephi takes center stage and answers, “Cartoons for kids and commercials on occasion. You’re telling me you’ve never, ever heard of him?”

“I don’t spend my time glued to the TV, you know. Besides, I’m not a kid.”

“Could’ve fooled me. Anyway, he was about to start dabbling in contests to gain a wider audience when he disappeared.”

“Right. He’s right,” Virokoe mutters.

I stutter, not sure how to address Virokoe but embarrassed that I allowed Kephi to overtake the conversation. Again. In my eagerness to atone for it, my hand tingles and I have to clench my fist to stop the sensation.

That settled, I try to form real words instead of spitting out more gibberish. “W-Well, I can’t lie and say I’m familiar with any of your acting roles,” I manage, “but it’s not too late to become a fan, huh?”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Kephi says, shaking his head. His whole body facing Virokoe now, he adds, “She’s like this all of the time. Very dense. Just ignore her.”

“That’s not—”

“I tried to ignore her! If you weren’t here, or at least weren’t a blabbermouth, I would’ve happily made off with my prize!”

“Prize?” Kephi says, unperturbed by the repeated insult. He cranes his neck toward the mess that Virokoe made, then back at the potion bottle lying motionless at his feet. “Oh, yeah, garbage. Everyone’s ideal prize.”

“It’s shiny! That’s what matters.” Virokoe sticks his tongue out at Kephi and turns to me. Apparently, his secret being spilled and the prospect of going back to Jubilife is more appealing than dealing with the poison-type. “The TV staff don’t take care of me well. So I ran away.”

I frown. “What? They don’t feed you and all that?”

“No, they do, but…”

“No baths?”

“Oh, two baths daily, at least.” On cue, he licks his paws in between words. “This is torture for me right now.”

“I’m out of guesses, then. They don’t fluff up your pillows before you sleep?” I say, genuinely flustered.

“Yes, exactly that,” Kephi says.

“No! For starters, I wanted them to investigate,” he says, then stops himself short. He licks his paws harder. My body loosens a little. I give the purrloin a half-smile, knowing how hard it is to articulate the seemingly unexplainable. What I judge as silly or important is irrelevant and only serves to create a gap between us.

Virokoe chooses to speak off track. “And I wanted them to stick to the same schedule every single day! There were so many staff, but my baths were usually a half hour late, and I didn’t get to eat until I’d been hungry for a while.”

Surprisingly, Kephi doesn’t interject. I suspect that’s because he doesn’t know my plan to recruit Virokoe yet, or else he’d sympathize and warn the cat that I’m not a trainer who lets her pokémon have their way.

By now, Virokoe’s stopped licking himself in favor of weighing the silence between his words. “They don’t listen to me, don’t understand me,” he says quietly, as if he’s switched to talking about us in our presence. “Anyway, there must be a reward for anyone who brings me back. That’s why I suspect you will.”

Thinking it too strange to automatically refute the idea of hauling him to the TV station, I opt for a slower route that hopefully will be more believable. “You’d increase the odds of not having that happen,” I say, “if, you know, you didn’t mention money.”

“You’re both morons,” Kephi says.

“We’re straightforward. Learn the difference,” I say.

“Straightforward?” Virokoe shakes his head. “Not quite, if I can’t get people to do simple things for me.”

“An investigation doesn’t sound simple,” I point out. It’s time to get this conversation back on track before I lose control again. “But is there anything I can do to help?”

Pointing at me with one paw, Virokoe says, “You? Are you a policewoman? No, you don’t have a shiny badge. Maybe you could help me with a smaller investigation, though…”

What kind of cat needs two investigations conducted on his behalf? He doesn’t seem like the type to deal in crimes, so I see no reason to refuse outright and vainly hope to find another purrloin, or any Unovan pokémon, further down the route.

I nod to him.

“Okay, see, there’s a piece of jewelry that’s really important to me. It was stolen by some kids from the trainer school on the east side of Jubilife. Do you think you could retrieve that for me?”

“Do it yourself, pipsqueak,” Kephi says. “We shouldn’t have to backtrack that far for the likes of you.”

“You know I can’t show my face in the city! And it’s not like I didn’t try when I was there. As a star, it’s hard to get a minute alone.”

“Humble. Real humble.” Kephi turns to me. “Annie, say no to him, eh? We’ve wasted enough time in this spot as it is.”

But I can’t say no to Virokoe, and I can’t explain to Kephi why in a way that’s remotely sensible. I’d made my decision the moment I identified Virokoe’s species and its native location, then remembered Kyurem’s task for me. Still I pretend to contemplate, chin tilted up and eyes wandering aimlessly from cloud to cloud.

“I don’t know,” I say, just as a twig snaps in the distance. “I don’t think I can turn him down. He’s clearly had a hard time of things.”

Virokoe’s face brightens up. He nods emphatically, so much so that he has to catch himself from toppling forward.

“Sure, but let a trainer behind us deal with him,” Kephi says. “Given his lack of foraging skills, he’ll be found again in no time.”

Virokoe hisses. “What do you know?”

Kephi’s voice turns monotone. “I know that you look thinner already,” he said.

As if Kephi had sapped all of his energy, Virokoe slinks down to the ground, belly flat. “You’re right, I’m not the greatest at this, okay? How could anyone expect me to be?”

“Most pokémon learned survival skills at some point in their lives,” Kephi says. “Now’s your time.”

I sigh. “Let’s go and do something nice in our lives for once, Kephi. I’ll buy you a nice treat, you know, as icing on the cake.”

Kephi’s face now matches his voice—resigned to the humdrum of the wind and how it doesn’t care what direction it blows you toward. “Fine, fine. Have it your way,” he says.

I’m the trainer, so I do have it my way. Virokoe gives us details on the piece of jewelry he mentioned: a gold necklace with two layers, one with a teardrop-shaped, amethyst brooch and another with a heart locket. He also informs us that he’ll stick close to the same garbage cans for when we return. Whether that was his original plan anyway or an adjustment he made in response to our help, I don’t know. If he doesn’t join our team, I suspect he’ll give up eventually and go home—if you can call Jubilife his home.

I understand that painful prospect and march back to the city, determined to not let it happen.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
promises of a new pokétch model release next month when the current one is less than a year old
Yeah that sounds about right. :B

Up ahead I even see a series of stray logs we’ll need to work ourselves around, all of them half-covered in moss and cloakless burmy bumbling about. I’m so focused on the obstacle ahead that I don’t notice a hanging string shot web in front of me and let out an embarrassing squeal.
Sometimes I forget that burmy can go uncloaked, and then something reminds me not only of the fact that they can but also of what they look like. Silly cute worms.

Also damn, if I had a dollar for every time I've walked into frickin' silly string from some bug or another. I love bugs. The nonsense they leave in unfortunate places, less so.


Anyway, Virokoe's here! Here, and already being given a hard time by the buggo. Kephi pls. You'd better get used to him, you silly venipede. But of course, said venipede doesn't know that yet.[/quote]
 
Top