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Pokemon and Trainer alike start their story off on a rough patch. Things can only go up from here... hopefully.

Chapter 1: The Start of Something Big

Despite his best efforts, Oshawott felt pins and needles all over when he stepped forward from Professor Aurea Juniper and onto the battlefield. It was the end of a busy Saturday afternoon for the Juniper Research Laboratory when time was found for a last minute match to go over a few basics. Ever since the Sea Otter Pokemon learned a rookie Trainer had selected him as their starter Pokemon, anxious didn't begin to describe his state of mind. Oshawott's body trembled in a deadly emotional cocktail of anticipation and fear. The sight of Snivy didn't help.

On the other side, a sharp-eyed Snivy stepped up on the other side of the indoor battlefield while taking in the sunlight through the clear roof above. She folded her eyes and shot a haughty look of disapproval towards Oshawott. She scoffed when she saw the cringe-worthy stern expression he was putting on. [Who do you believe your trying to con, Water Boy?] the Grass Snake Pokemon asked rhetorically, loathing such a display of posturing. She felt it her duty to remind him of his place.

[Slice her to ribbon, buddy!] Tepig oinked for his best friend from the sidelines, hopping about with energy to spare. His snout exhales steam like a engine bursting a safety value or two. He put on a determined expression like Oshawott's but could see that his friend's confident front was wavering and felt guilty for it. Even if he kept Snivy from hurting physically, her sharp tongue dealt enough damage with her insults alone.

"Try to take it easy, Oshawott," Professor Aurea promised the Water-type starter, bending down to the little guy. "This is just to gauge your response time and overall stamina against a wild encounter with a potential type advantage." She took out an old fashion notepad and pen from her coat pocket, preparing to jot down note. "That be said, Snivy, I would appreciate it if you held back just a tad."

Snivy sniffed with a stone cold expression while two vines protruded from the left and right petals on her collar. [A bit stifling but it would be only fair,] she conceded before cracking a sharp whip with her right vine. Oshawott flinched right on cue or rather right on her command. [All I need to know... is how to make this last...]

[Don't give into her,] Tepig anxiously oinked at Oshawott. However, he couldn't help but feared the worst.

"Let's start with something... pedestrian and light," Professor Aurea decided while writing on her notepad. "Oshawott, rush Snivy with your best Tackle."

Oshawott regained his facade of composure and nodded yes in whatever determination he could muster. He burst into a straight sprint straight for Snivy and made a perfect beeline on the smooth marble surface of the laboratory's many testing battlefields. The Sea Otter Pokemon drew upon power within him to enhance his body's ramming strength via energy researchers classified as Normal-type. His eyes were trained on Snivy's vines and was ready for them.

At least, Oshawott thought he was. Instead of lashing him at lightening speed, Snivy let her opponent come her way and get within inches of her before pushing her vines against the floor. The Grass Snake Pokemon elevated her light body off the floor and let Oshawott barrel through where she once stood.

[What the-?] was all the Sea Otter Pokemon could utter in his confusion before stumbling in his attempt to slow down suddenly. He yelped helplessly while he fell onto his front before rolling onto his back. Tepig could only wince at the impact and recognize that Snivy was really cutting out the middleman.

Oshawott slowly got up while he heard Snivy's trademarked sigh of condescension behind him. [Must we repeat this formula every time, Water Boy?] she sniped at him, her sharp tongue brandished to pierce perfectly. [We've all memorized this tragedy's end by heart so why bother turning another page.] Oshawott felt her hisses make his body feel heavy with too many layers of anxiety weighing him down. What could he do to rewrite such a predictable ending?

"Order-to-attack response time is quite adequate as starters go," Aurea spoke aloud while jotting down notes. "Paw borderline on the pulse even." She wasn't too quick on the uptake with Oshawott's anxiety. "However, sudden stops need to be improved upon." The Professor put the pad down before making her next call. "Let's try out ranged attacks with Water Gun, Oshawott!"

Oshawott swallowed hard before changing Water-type energy into his throat and turning around to face Snivy. He spews out a concentrated column of pressurized water from his mouth up at his opponent. However, Snivy manages to dodge by having her vines spring her out of the way just in time and gain some distance once she landed on the floor. Oshawott gave chase while he still had plenty of pressure to let off but the Grass Snake Pokemon was too swift in zig-zagging away from his aim. The sunlight had given her the leg-up she didn't feel she needed but appreciated anyways.

Oshawott had neglected the run off from his Water Gun creating puddles in his pursuit of Snivy. He was reminded of them when he stepped on one and slipped onto his back. Oshawott yelped helplessly when falling and landing painfully enough to interrupt his blast. He didn't know what hurt more: the fall or the embarrassment.

"Ranged attacks are looking decent," Aurea muttered while writing down her data. "However, Water-type starter tends to be less aware of their surroundings in their haste." She didn't notice Snivy taking matters into her own hands just yet. "Trainer may need to compensate."

[Still can't comprehend your inferiority, can you?] Snivy scoffed with pitying frown toward Oshawott, producing a vine from her left shoulder. [You never were quick on the uptake.] She wrapped her vine around the Sea Otter Pokemon's right flipper and sharply hoisted him up. He cried like a newly-hatched with his stubby, little fore-arms flailing about.

Aurea looked back up just in time and mentally kicked herself for head not being in the game. "Oshawott, counter with another Water Gun!" she hastily shouted. The Professor was glad her father wasn't here to see this. Heck, Hilda would've never let her live it down.

Oshawott spewed out whatever pressurized water he could make at a moment's notice and aimed for Snivy the best he could upside down. However, the Grass Snake Pokemon spun around on her stubby feet gracefully and took her prey for a literal swing. Oshawott's water sprayed all around the battlefield while he hung from the vine.

Neither Aurea nor Tepig could keep from flinching when the water hit them. "I just got this dry-cleaned!" the Professor griped when her lab coat was soaked. The Fire Pig Pokemon especially winced when his warm body was hit by cold liquid but was more concerned for his friend.

All the while, Oshawott was on the verge of spewing far worse than water before Snivy mercifully let him go. He found hitting the floor like a sack of potatoes didn't hurt quite as much when he already felt awful to begin with. [Owwwwww...] It still stunk though.

[Last but not least, the coup de grace,] Snivy proclaimed while channeling her Grass-type Energy throughout her entire body. She makes a giant leap and makes a swift spin when she's just above Oshawott. The air around her swirls into a green-tinted vortex thanks to the energy she expells and keeps her in the eye of the storm.

Oshawott was just getting up when the Leaf Tornado engulfed him and spun him around while leaf-like projectiles batter him like its a real storm. He cries from the sudden suction and soon feels dizzy all over again from feeling his body being hurtled around at what seemed like a million miles per hour. His stomach cuts off his shouting with a gurgle and makes him feel green himself once more. Amazingly enough, it was only second to the small projectiles sharply striking him all over.

Both Aurea and Tepig brace themselves against the gust from Snivy's Leaf Tornado due to the closed off quarters of the battlefield. "Guess I can skip laundry today," the Professor quipped while gritting her teeth. She soon spots Oshawott being flung out from the top of the Leaf Tornado once it soon died down and heading for her much to her horror.

Oshawott wailed helplessly before Aurea caught him like a Linebacker for the Gurdurr 11 and stumbled back from the force alone. Her notepad fell to the floor while the Professor managed to keep from falling herself but she was more concerned with her starters.

"Well... that was... illuminating..." Aurea panted out while cradling Oshawott with her left arm. "Are you decent, Oshawott?" The Sea Otter Pokemon gave his answer in the form of a whimpering moan and a hue of green all over his white face. "Ask a stupid question..." Aurea berated herself before hastily taking out a Fresh Water out of her lab coat and giving it to Oshawott. "Better hurry before you redecorate my favorite coat."

Oshawott grabbed the bottle and tore off the cap before chugging down the revitalizing liquids like it was a stag party. He could feel his battered body and churned stomach becoming relived of their pain before finishing the bottle with his deepest sigh of relief. The battle was barely five minutes but to Oshawott, it might as well have been five years.

"I'm sorry if Snivy may've gotten out of hand," Aurea apologized to Oshawott while setting him back down onto the floor. "It's just important to remember that Pokemon outside this lab won't be very considerate in battle if at all." She picked up her notepad if only to jot down a few more final observations.

[I get it...] Oshawott sighed with resignation, making a raspy noise while hanging his head. He knew full well that Snivy considered this more than just a simulation. However, the Sea Otter Pokemon felt too ashamed to address the torment she put him through to Aurea. The language barrier didn't help matters either.

"Well, worst comes to worst, Hilda will keep you in check," Aurea promised Oshawott before the X-Transceiver on her wrist rang all of a sudden. "Oh boy..." she sighed wearily upon reading "Cedric" on the caller ID. "No way the meeting ended that quickly." She pat Oshawott on the head affectionately before standing up. "I have to take this so you just hang tight here." She walked towards the benches on the side for better reception and picked up the call.

Oshawott sighed in relief once Aurea was a distance away and let himself believe it was over. [I truly pity whoever selected you,] Snivy's snooty voice chimed in, proving him wrong. Oshawott jumped and turned around to find her snout only a smidge away from his noise. [Any attempt to elicit anything short of dismal from you is comparable to squeezing blood from the proverbial stone.] He shirked back with a whimper over Snivy's little diatribe combined with her piercing gaze.

[I... I... I gonna do my best...] Oshawott managed to squeak out in the face of Snivy. She never failed to make him feel small. Right now, he felt borderline microscopic.

[As our scuffle recently indicates, your "best" won't suffice,] Snivy sharply retorted, stepping closer to make sure Oshawott got the point. [With any shred of fortune, your Trainer will come to this revealation sooner rather than later... I pray.] She took no pleasure in his visible anxieties and dower expressions but rather saw it as a favor she was doing for him. [Best case scenario: you will return here and receive the opportunity to improve however marginally.] The Grass Snake Pokemon saw it best to tear down his hopes and prepare him for disappointment.

[And... the worst...] Oshawott dared to ask with a gulp, unable to keep away from Snivy's remarks.

[You will be sold for cash,] Snivy put forth, shrugging nonchalantly. [Perhaps then your Trainer will put you to decent enough use at-.] She didn't get to finish her cutting remark when she felt a surge of heat rushing her way and leaped backwards. Snivy had only narrowly avoided being struck by a blast of scorching Embers that burnt the floor she had stood on.

Oshawott had jumped in surprise from being inches away from the Fire-type attack. He soon felt less on edge when he looked to his left and smile earnestly for the first time all day. There was Tepig with a look of righteous indignation in his eyes aimed right for Snivy while he scurried up and stood in front of Oshawott.

[Sorry I let her push you around,] Tepig apologized to his buddy. [I was hoping to get a perfect shot in.] He looked back to see Oshawott give a nervous but humble bow of appreciation. [It's... the thought that counts.]

Snivy regained their attention with a clearing of her throat. [I appreciate the challenge, Tepig,] she spoke with a more cordial demeanor. [A good palette cleanser after a terrible lacking snack will do me well.]

[You talk too much,] Tepig snorted angrily, literally blowing off steam from his nose.

"Tepig and Snivy, return!" Aurea's voice rang out, slicing the tense atmosphere like butter.

Both the Fire Pig and Grass Snake Pokemon look up in time to see the Professor holding up two Poke Balls that each shot a red beams at one of them. They made contact with Tepig and Snivy respectively before changing their bodies into that very red plasmic energy.

Oshawott spotted the Grass-type starter shooting him a look of disdain before the red and white sphere pulled her into it. Tepig was also returned to his own Poke Ball, leaving the Sea Otter Pokemon to feel Snivy's words sink in and to hang his head somberly. He didn't want to believe in any of her remarks but it was like he didn't have a choice.

"Turn your back for one second, I swear..." Aurea muttered irritably while pocketing Snivy and Tepig's Poke Balls. "Not that I haven't faced worst at home..." She saw Oshawott looking downcast and interpreted his emotion as mere pre-show jitters. The Professor put on a smile in relating to what she assumed.

"I know this is a big moment of uncertainty for you," Aurea promised while kneeling down to Oshawott's level, getting him to look up at him. "Trust me, I had the same feeling when I joined my dad as a Pokemon Researcher." She gave a loving pat on the Sea Otter Pokemon's head to help improve his mood. "Though trust me when I say that you've won the lottery in landing a Pokemon Trainer."

Oshawott didn't know what a "lottery" was but knew Aurea meant it as a good thing. "She's always sticking her neck out for others," the Professor went on, cultivating the Water-type Starter's hopes. "She's great with Pokemon and even able to understand how they're truly feeling." Oshawott's tail would've wagged happily if he was Lillipup. "No matter what, she'll stick by your side and give you the best kind of training you can hope for."

Oshawott smiled more and more as Professor Juniper went on. He couldn't help imagining the image of a literal angel all dressed in white and sporting flowing blonde hair while descending from up above. Or at least based on what little he knew of the idea. Nonetheless, he trusted Aurea enough to expect only the best from his very first Trainer.

Aurea gasped in realization before standing back up quickly. "She's also suppose to be gathering ingredients for tonight's special dinner," she exclaimed while turning her X-Transceiver again. "Dad and I promised one hell of a banquet when she passed her application." Aurea tapped "Hilda" on her contact list and waited for her goddaughter to pick up via the Live Caster video feed.

Oshawott eagerly listened to the X-Transceiver ringing and waited for a chance to hear the voice of who will become his Trainer. His smile of anticipation grew until loud crashing noises erupted from the device and made him yelp in fright before jumping nearly a foot into the air. The Sea Otter Pokemon felt his heart racing after his battle instincts had been triggered by such sudden sounds.

Even Aurea had been taken aback by this and felt her eardrums get the brunt of it. "Little busy at the moment, Auntie," she heard Hilda speak through crackling reception and what the Professor soon recognized audibly as Pokemon attacks. "And yes, I got the pasta you asked for- Minnie, incoming!" Whatever video feed the Professor could make out was wildly moving around like a poorly shot superhero movie. It almost hurt her to look at just the same.

"...eat that rodent alive!" a more volatile voice cut in to Oshawott's dread. He had been listening to what sounded like a warzone and could only imagine it as just that. "Rule #151 of battling," Hilda's voice spoke to the Professor. "No distractions in ongoing combat, much less personal calls." Oshawott found her voice to be a lot more tough and commanding than what he'd been lead to believe. "You taught me that personally." A dead dial tone soon beeped after.

Oshawott looked up to find Professor Aurea Juniper turning off her X-Transceiver and letting out a huge sigh of weariness. "A real chip off the old block... tragically," she muttered while pinching the bridge of her nose. Oshawott found the image of his angel morph into something more devilish and shrouded in dark shadows. He gulped in fearing what he might've gotten himself into.

Downtown Nuvema wasn't exactly bustling like Castelia or even Striaton, being in a quietest corner of South-Eastern Unova. However, plenty of locals were frequenting their local shops and eateries before the sun could even start to set. The street was mostly barren aside from the occasional steady-going cars every few minutes, letting jaywalkers get off scot-free.

On the sidewalks, one young man in glasses was rambling about the power of science and technology to their blonde girlfriend down Main Street. A little girl was begging their father to get them a Pokemon for the umpteenth time, hanging off the man's right arm out of protest. An elderly husband and wife passed them on their way to Schemmel and Sabat's, their local general store just across the street. They were just a few feet from the front door when...


A bulky Throh had crashed through the General Store's door clean off its hinges and flew back-first before hitting the ground. The red-faced Judo Pokemon slid across the concrete before hitting his head on the fire hydrant and knocking himself out cold. Nearly everybody in the area turned their heads towards the action.

The elderly couple, Damian and Linda Ayres, glanced at each other with concerned looks before bluntly sharing the same sentiments. "Hilda."

A bald young man with a leather jacket bolted out of the shop and right for his Throh. "Get up, you numbskull," Vic demanded while pulling up the Judo Pokemon by the Gi. "How do you just have a type advantage and lose to that dirty rat?" He shook Throh repeatedly but found his Pokemon was so out cold, his consciousness was borderline frozen. The Fighting-types mouth hung open while his eyes rolled back into his head.

"What were you expecting with that sorry excuse for tactics?" an indignant female voice chimed in with a rather annoyed tone of voice. "You just blindly barked at him to punch there and kick here." Vic scowled when he heard her sassing him while stepping out from the busted doorway, crunching the debris under her black shoes. "Type advantages mean squat if you can't strategize to save your life." That was the last straw for the Roughneck.

"I-I only took it easy on some kid from the boonies," Vic retorted, springing up to turn around and face his foe. "You got lucky and you know it!" Her posture only ticked him off even more with how assertive and cocksure it was.

Between the black vest over the white tank-top and the short daisy dukes, Vic was sure he had this fourteen-year-old pegged as some tomboyish poser. Now the heroic glare she was piercing him with was starting to get to him. Not that he could let it show despite his gulping.

"Oh, miss me with that "taking it easy" Boufalaunt Barf," Hilda spat back, keeping her distance despite her sharp tongue. "You ran out of luck when you tried to rob my friends and made me trash their store." She had half a mind to slug the punk but knew that it would really ruin today's special occasion. The rookie decided to settle for something lighter yet no less devastating.

"Minnie!" Hilda called out, looking behind her, "back me up, girl!" A gray-furred Minccino exited the General Store while hastily sweeping up the dust and debris with her broom-like tail much to her owner's embarrassment. "There's a time and place for everything but not now!" Hilda exclaimed in exasperation over the Chinchilla Pokemon being on neat-freak mode of all times.

[I'm terribly sorry,] Minnie squeaked with embarrassment and a rather refined dialect. [But all of this untidiness was truly puts me ill at ease.] She tried her best to sweep her tail faster while coming up along side Hilda. [Just a bit more.]

Hilda covered her mouth and nose when the dust began to rise while she groaned indignantly. "This at least better trigger his allergies or blind him."

Speaking of whom, Vic was both baffled that Hilda was bickering with her Pokemon and offended that she was ignoring him for some rat. "That does it," he declared, scowling like mad. "We do this the old fashioned way." He bolted straight for Hilda while clenching his fists and assumed that she would freeze up while he quickly closed the distance. "How's this for 'strategizing,' huh?"

Hilda and Minnie quit their bantering to look up at their incoming foe, their minds immediately focusing on the battle. "Tickle him pink!" Hilda ordered almost at once, never hesitating once.

Minnie put her need to clean aside while she raced forth and went up Vic's right pant leg before he knew it. She ducked under the baggy shirt under his leather jacket just before he looked down and stopped in his track.

"What the he-he-he-he-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" Vic began to exclaimed before his rhetorical question devolved into manic laughter. Minnie's tickling caused him to spaz out his limbs all over the place like a bad dancer on an extremely waxed floor.

All who had stopped on the sidewalks to see the altercation forgot to be worried and began laughing their heads off at Vic's impromptu dancing. The old Ayres couple actually brought out their hand-held Personal Computers and started recording the Roughneck's humiliation.

"Ride 'em, cowboy," Linda jeered at Vic while her husband recorded.

"This dance is totes lit," Damian chortled, trying too hard to be hip with his "fellow kids."

Hilda could hardly keep herself from laughing if only out of some sympathy. She had be the victim of Minnie's tickling many times and knew of its power over the body. It did put a confident smile on her face if nothing else.

"How's this for a trade-off?" Hilda began, keeping control of the situation. "You saunter out of town and back to whatever hole you crawled out of after Minnie keeps from ruining your favorite slacks." She really wanted to get back home before Auntie Aurea already.

"Deal!" Vic shouted through gritted team in his attempt to stop laughing. "Just... get this... rode... I mean... sweet... little thing... off me!" He could feel his bladder control crumbling by the second.

"That'll be all Minnie," Hilda called out with a clap of her hands. Right on cue, the Minccino popped out of Vic's right sleeve and dropped down to the sidewalk.

[And not a moment too soon,] Minnie fussed while scurrying back to Hilda. [His body spray was murder on my sinuses.] An affectionate pet on the head from her owner soon soothed her feelings in due time.

Vic fell down on his butt while his chest heaved in trying to catch his breath. "Forget this dirt-hole," he spat while going down to Throh. "I just knew I should've stayed with the Black Empoleons." The Roughneck gritted his teeth while pulling the bulky Judo Pokemon by the left arm up the street.

Hilda exchanged perturbed looks with Minnie before she opened her mouth to ask the obvious. "I broke my Poke Balls, okay!?" Vic barked back as if anticipating what people were thinking.

Ignoring the awkward ending to this battle, Hilda still scoops up Minnie for a victory cuddle. "Looks like you really cleaned his act up," the rookie proclaimed, trying to sound as unironic as possible with such a painful pun. Suffice to say, the girls laughed with each other over their recent ordeal.

"Hey... Hilda..." a light male voice called out behind them in an awkward tone of voice. "Totally appreciate you saving our store again and all but... well..." Hilda and Minnie turned around to see a young soft-faced man with an expression as uneasy as his words. Next to Sean Sabat was Chris Schemmel who wore a more chiseled face and stern expression, looking older despite being a year older.

"We'd appreciate it more if you picked up after yourselves better," Chris gruffly claimed, pointing to the broken doorway behind him with his thumb.

Hilda and Minnie both winced when they looked down at the busted down door. However, the pit in the young lady's stomach grew considerably when she looked into the General Store and saw the collateral damage. The Minccino was more overwhelmed by the sight of such disorganization that she fainted and fell down into Hilda's hands.

"I'll go get the broom..." Hilda sighed deeply while hanging her head in defeat. This was not her idea of a first day suffice to say.

"Son of a Garbaodor!" Hilda exclaimed upon looking at her X-Transceiver. "Auntie Aurea expected us a whole hour ago!" She was currently bolting through her suburban neighborhood in downtown Nuvema while Minnie clung to her right shoulder. "If I had just snuck out the back when Chris wasn't looking..."

Hilda flew by house after house before screeching to a stop at a corner where a crossing guard held up his stop sign and blew his whistle. She was so antsy that she kept running in place, mentally urging the back up of cars to pass already.

[...you would've been insufferably guilt-ridden for the whole day,] Minnie chimed in, eyes shut with her nose up in the air. [Especially when you all but destroyed most of their wares.] She could almost see the veins on Hilda's temple popping.

"Well, excuse me for trying to compensate for type disadvantages," Hilda snapped back when the crossing guard let her run resume. "You were the one playing 'demolition derby' with Throh." She resumed her mad dash like a Purrloin on a sugar rush. Something she had little trouble imagining.

[I am painfully aware,] Minnie gulped, clenching her teeth in a fit of guilt. [That I had been the cause of such... unsightliness is far more than what I can bear.] She took in a deep breath sharply before exhaling in an effort to repress such an image the best she can. [Ultimately, you have done the responsible thing by staying and should be proud.] The Minccino put out a genuine smile for her owner's sake.

Hilda snuck in a weary sigh among her panting. "If only my heroics came with clean-up crews," she bemoaned, remembered every nook and cranny she had to clean out. "Such a curse it is, being this virtuous..."

Hilda rounded a bend only to get a flash of light in her eyes that screeched her sprint to a halt. Minnie also suffered from this overload of brightness and shut her eyes along with her owner.

"Do you mind?" a nonchalant male voice chimed in. "You just ruined a perfectly good shot."

Hilda's vision cleared in time for her to recognize Trip Shooter, a blonde teenager with a classic camera on a tripod in his hands and a Patrat on his shoulders. "Still trying to capture the essence of Suburbia," she assumed, nearly forgetting what she was previously moaning about.

"Like my old man drilled into my skull," Trip replied while focusing more on adjusting the tripod to face the street. "You don't find the perfect shot but it will find you."

His Patrat was darting around with its eyes to seek interesting subject before chirping into Trip's ear. The young man saw his Pokemon pointing to his left and found a very battered minivan slowly coming up the road and potential picture in the makings. He focused his camera while waiting for the vehicle to pass and took the picture when it was square in the frame for but a second.

"Oh, congrats on becoming a Trainer or whatever." Trip replied like it was another day in Nuvema Town.

Hilda decided to head pass Trip while she still could while Minnie still had lights in her eyes. "Thanks for the enthusiasm," she playfully quipped, knowing that the aspiring photographer tended to get lost in his craft. At the very least, his Patrat waved the two of them off happily.

"And thanks for getting those rowdy Pokemon to pose for me," Trip responded while checking his shot's composition. "I dunno how you did it but you did it."

Hilda stuck out her tongue cheekily while running quicker than before. "It's a gift," she replied whether Trip heard or not.

Hilda and Minnie crossed the street to another block where they spot a broad young redhead dribbling his basketball with his muscular arms. He was looking for an opening to shoot and facing off with a Golett who had their arms out wide for catching.

"Heard the great news, Hild!" Stephan Kenyan congratulated when she came up on his left. "Oh, and thanks for helping me with tryouts!" He was still looking for an opening past Golett. "It's looking like I'm gonna qualify." He decided to take aim when he thought he had it.

Hilda didn't stop in her rush but did have time to hear her friend and smile at his own good news. "Congrats," she shouted back while waving. "I'll see you on the Big Stadium, Stefan."

The mispronunciation of his name threw the redhead off his game just as he took the shot. "STEPHAN!" he shouted back at Hilda irately, not noticing the basketball bouncing off the rim. "As in with a 'v' sound!" He was oblivious to Golett rushing to catch only for the ball to bounce off his head and into the street. "I swear that's getting really old really fast." The Automaton Pokemon silently panicked while running after their only sports equipment.

Hilda rounded another bend while looking at the time on her X-Transceiver. "I suppose we'll get off with a stern talking-to," she sighed in slight resignation. "As long as there's no more..."

[Oh, look,] Minnie suddenly cut in with a tone of delight. [Isn't that your friend, Burgundy?]

Hilda felt her blood run cold on this early Summer evening and felt it freeze over upon seeing the Kalosian in question. Burgundy Cabernet was in her front yard practicing elegant poses and curtsies in her Pokemon Connoisseur suit. Along side her was an Escavalier who was imitating her cordial mannerisms. Hilda didn't hesitate to duck behind a pair of garbage cans by the side of the driveway.

"I mean..." Hilda whispered for fear of the dreaded of violet hair, "we're on better-ish terms but that's not saying much." She saw that Burgundy had her eyes closed while practicing and gulped hard at the risk she was taking. "Here goes... something."

Hilda took long yet silent steps across every other sidewalk square as though she were a SAWSbuck evading predators. She was so sure that Burgundy would be too in her own world to notice but they were dashed just when she thought herself as in the clear.

[Miss Hilda and Madame Minnie!] Burgundy's Escavalier chimed in with the sternness of a Galarian military general. [Snooping as usual I see!] The pair froze up immediately like they were hit by an Ice Beam.

"So close..." Hilda groaned before the most obnoxious Kalosian accent invaded her eardrums.

"Vell, vell, vell," Burgundy smarmily snarked while opening her eyes and rising from a bow. "If it isn't Nuvema Town's resident wild child." She sauntered over towards Hilda and earned a very annoyed look from the brunette. "Come to join the rest of polite society for a change." She made a most nasally laugh at her "sick burn" while covering her mouth with the back of her right hand.

[Excellent quippage, Mistress Cabernet,] Escavalier praised.

[I take it back,] Minnie remarked with a pout. [She's worse than ever.]

"At least most Pokemon are actually polite," Hilda shot back with her arms folded. "I'm sorry but is being the Mean Girl in vague anymore." She was delighted to see Burgundy's sweet-looking smugness turn sour.

"'En vogue' le Nigaud!" the young Connoisseur corrected rather verbosely with her right fist clenched. Hilda and Minnie both barely holding in a laugh was just salt on the wounds. "How you made Trainer escapes me," Burgundy sniffed while folding her arms for composure. "You're practically a Pocket Monster yourself." She sneered in hopes of Hilda taking the bait.

[Now go 'er the ol' one-two-buckle-your-shoe, m'lady!] her Escavalier cheered.

"You're one to talk, Washout," Hilda retorted with a sneer of her own, the insult making Burgundy flinch. "You get caught in the wake of a Surf attack and the aptitude test simply can't go on with your outfit in ruins." She took this opportunity to turn around and walk away with the last word while the purple people eater grinded her teeth rather audibly. "Speaking of, I have a Starter Pokemon with my name on it." Hilda couldn't resist one last jab. "A Water-type for clarity's sake."

Minnie indulged in the immaturity of the moment and blew a raspberry at Escavalier with a bit of spittle. The Calvary Pokemon was tempted to have the Minccino face the firing squad in the form of his spears.

Burgundy scoffed at Hilda's borderline scorching but decided to reign herself lest she break out in blemishes. "On the subject of aptitude, I... qualified for a B-Rank Connoisseur," she forced out, finding it almost physically impossible to say the words. "Your tips on a Klink's body language had helped... even if I didn't take much stock in them."

Hilda stopped when she heard Burgundy, of all people, showing her appreciation to her and smiled genuinely. "You're welcome," she replied without a hint of irony. "Maybe you could appraise my Starter Pokemon while you're at it." Hilda still enjoyed the beat red overwhelming Burgundy's frown for what it was worth.

"Mince!" the young Connoisseur retorted before storming back into her house. "When Emboars fly." Her Escavalier followed her dutifully like a loyal sentry.

[Well, she's was... entertaining for what it was worth,] Minnie remarked just as Hilda tore off in another hurry. [Pity she wasted so much of our time.]

"We're just the other block over," Hilda reassured, already panting. "This shouldn't take... too... long..."

Minnie was quick to notice a hint of red appearing on Hilda's cheeks and could tell it wasn't from running so much. She looked ahead at the block across the street and recognized a yellow cabbie hat being worn by a jogging redhead girl. The teenager also wore green vest over a dark green mini-dress and boots. The yellow gloves were bit much for early summer but Hilda clearly agreed with the style based on her growing smile.

[Oh deary me,] Minnie sighed with a resigned smile for her owner. [Here we go...]

"Georgia!" Hilda yelled out gleefully while surging ahead across the street. "On your right." She soon drew up on her friend's right hand side and got her attention.

"Nuvema Town's blazing with the news, girl!" Georgia Langley claimed while grinning at Hilda. "How's the Trainer life treating you?" Her friend was soon keeping pace with her.

"It's exhausting," Hilda replied jokingly, drawn in by Georgia's sharp eyes and cocky smile. "I haven't gotten my Starter yet but it feels like I just took on the Elite Four." It was the sharp fang that tied it all together.

"Called it!" Georgia chortled. "That General Store hold-up had your name written all over it." Her competitive demeanor softened ever so slightly on the note of Trainers. "Man, this dead-end town's gonna be dullsville once you set out." She wiped sweat from her brow.

"You've kept things interesting too," Hilda insisted with affection in her voice. "You killed it at all the local marathon."

Minnie kept quiet and enjoyed how unsubtle her owner was being in how she was crushing on her peer.

"Only because you were the best practice partner ever," Georgia praised with another confident grin. "I never got to properly thank you for that." Her expression softened once more. "I think I'll miss you the most."

Hilda smiled back with her pearly whites on full display. "What are girlfriends for?" she rhetorically asked before her phrasing dawned on her. Her originally light blush was now beat red and all over her face much to Georgia's amusement.

"Mmmm, quite the choice of words there, girlfriend," she joked.

"That is to say, a girl who is a friend," Hilda stammered in trying to cover her tracks. "No need to say them separately when they go well together." The sound of Minnie snorting in stifling a laugh only added salt to her wounds.

"Riiiiight," Georgia smarmily replied, totally not buying it. She decided to not milk this for Hilda's sake. "By the way, what number is your home address again?"

Hilda took whatever opening she could afford and put on a less awkward expression. "Oh, it's 71...8?" she began before she noticed the house they were passing was numbered 739. "Oh." The awkwardness returned in full force when she realized that she'd passed her own house.

[Ah,] Minnie sighed wistfully over Hilda's infatuation. [To be blinded by young love.]

"SorryGeorgiaGottaGoBye!" Hilda blurted out after making a swift U-turn and borderline breaking the sound barrier when she sped back down the sidewalk. "WhyWhyWhyWhyWhyWhy?" she repeated while her face when at red as a Throh's over looking like a total dork. Minnie yelped while holding on for the ride.

Georgia stopped to jog in place and saw off Hilda with a more warmer smile of her own. "Later days, girlfriend..."

Hilda sighed in relief while she slowed down and found herself unable to stay embarrassed. Just a few more houses before the moment of truth. "You know what, Minnie?" she began.

[What?] Minnie asked curiously before Hilda gave her a loving pet on the head.

"I take it back," her owner went on. "Helping others really does feel great." Hilda cast her gaze upwards to the beautiful mid-afternoon sky of sparse cloud and sunshine. "Like your always said... Mom..."

On that note, Minnie could only smile proudly of one of her best friends.

To Be Continued...

Oshawott and Hilda have both taken their first steps towards their quest to the Championship but have yet to meet. How will two extremes meet in the middle?

Anything can happen... as the journey continues in
Just For Starters


Well-Known Member
Chapter 2: Just For Starters

The Junipers' brown house with the blue roof had finally came into view. It had felt like an eternity by the time Hilda bounded through her front yard and reach the front door's steps. She took a minute to lean on her knees and pant like a Herdier playing catch.

"That's the last time I leave my bike home for extra storage space," Hilda vowed with a rather horse voice. She took out her Personal Computer to select a water bottle.

[Perhaps this is why you selected a Water-type,] Minnie joked initially before climbing down Hilda's back. She cringed when she slide down the sweat across her owner's bare legs and found her grey fur covered in it. [And perhaps it shall provide you with an overdue bathing.] The smell was worse than she realized.

"Puh-lease," Hilda whined dismissively after chugging the whole bottle. "You know it's not that bad." She hopped up the steps with an eager grin and was about to grab the door handle when she stopped dead in her tracks.

Minnie hopped up the steps shortly after and was curious as to why Hilda suddenly froze like a bad computer program. "So..." she heard her owner speak up. "Just occurred to me." Minnie heard growing anxiousness in Hilda's tone yet looked up and found that her smile was still there. However, there was a vibe of dread to her otherwise neutral expression.

"Georgia heard about the General Store incident, right?" Hilda went on while her smiley face broke into a cold sweat rather than hot. "What're the odds that Auntie Aurea heard about it too?" A hue of dark blue seemed to overcast her eyes, revealing the fear that belied her brighter front.

Living with her adoptive family for seven years gave her a... sixth sense as to what to expect from them. Particularly when Hilda had done something they disapproved of. Right now, that sixth sense was setting off klaxon horns in her mind.

It was now Minnie's turn to gulp and feel the Butterfrees in her stomach. [You... did answer that call from her during our skirmish,] she recollected, sweating with her owner in the figurative sense. Normally, she would've ratted Hilda out but being involved in the day's events put her in the same boat.

"Back door?" Hilda suggested.

[Back door,] Minnie affirmed without hesitation.

Hilda poked her head around the corner and found the backyard deserted aside from the occasional Pidove roosting. Minnie also gave a peak below her and sighed in relief that Aurea wasn't anywhere to be seen.

"Stay frosty, Minnie," Hilda warned in a harsh but quiet whisper, glaring with determination.

[Oh, trust me,] the Minccino gulped. [I'm downright frostbitten.]

Hilda stretched out her legs to tip-toe into the yard like she had in trying to avoid Burgundy while Minnie followed behind anxiously. They stayed on the grass to not make a sound so long as they evaded any branches.

They soon reached the back patio and were extra careful to look out for any loose tiles as they went. Hilda reached the backdoor and went for the knob when she once again froze in a moment of clarity.

[What now?] Minnie whispered in an exasperated tone of voice. [Don't tell me you heard her.]

"No but I can tell that she's there," Hilda replied with a rather serious whisper. "No way she wouldn't have thought a few steps ahead of us." She could just imagine Auntie Aurea flipping on the lights the second they slipped in. Every teenage instinct in her bones had her on high alert.

[It isn't as though we can scale the house,] Minnie lamented. [Well, not anymore now...]

Hilda felt an idea hit her like a thunderbolt aimed for the horn. "Maybe not the house but..." she exclaimed quietly but eagerly. Hilda tip-toed back from the door and looked back at the large tree in the center of the backyard. Her eyes traveled up to the branches where a very big one extended all the way out towards an open window letting in the cool evening breeze. Her open window to be precise.

"Thank you, broken A.C." Hilda whispered with a victorious tone.

Minnie saw the tree and looked up at the branch before spotting the triumphant grin on her owner's face. [You aren't...] she began to beg before Hilda scurried ahead, light on her toes. [Last time, it had nearly snapped!] the Chinchilla Pokemon insisted while impressively keeping her voice down. [When you were ten!]

"Good thing I'm not ten then," Hilda sassed back while taking out her hand-held Personal Computer. "Burgundy might've been mean about but she wasn't too far off." She tapped the screen before her hat, shoes, socks and black vest were digitally recalled into the P.C.'s data storage.

Hilda began her way up the tree slowly but surely and maintained her grip in tandem with her silence. Without her vest, she could move her shoulders a bit more freely while her bare feet gripped the more smooth bark a bit better than her shoes. She kept her P.C. down in the back of her shorts to keep it extra secure.

Minnie sighed in defeat and followed after her Hilda the tree. [And somehow you made Trainer,] she bemoaned once she and her owner reached the branch in question. [May the Great Dragon help us all once you're Champion.]

Hilda got down on her belly and distributed her weight when climbing onto the branch. She stayed flat and made her way across towards the window while Minnie looked on in baited breath. The branch began to bend despite seeming to hold sturdy once Hilda passed the halfway point. She looked up at the window and found that the branch was sinking down considerable when she was close enough. Going further would put her out of reach while standing up suddenly would send her falling.

Hilda frown intently while looking at how far the window is from where she paused and gauging how much time the branch would have to take her weight. "Sink or swim time," she declared to herself before springing up onto her feet.

Minnie was fit to scream her head off before Hilda crouched down and sprung off the branch. She had it launch her further like a diving board and get her through the window without so much as grazing the frame. The Minccino didn't know whether she wanted to tickle Hilda to death for scaring her half to death or praise her for such picture perfect timing.

A bit of both perhaps?

Hilda did a dive roll onto her bedroom floor and came down to a kneeling position, letting out a huge sigh of relief. "And the gold medal goes to..." she quipped, indulging in what she was sure her moment of triumph. The teenage brunette stood back up when she heard a panting Minnie reach the window behind her.

"So... we got home before Auntie Aurea and took a nap after such a long day," Hilda casually recited while strolling over to the light-switch by the door. "She'll bring up the General Store incident and find that we're shocked to learn we just missed the perp." She flipped on the lights for her room and dusted off her hands. "An air-tight cover story written by yours truly." Hilda grinned while feeling like she'd just taken down a Legendary and reached for the doorknob.

"Do you take constructive criticism?" an older woman's voice chimed in dryly yet sternly from behind. "Couldn't help notice a few plot holes."

Hilda felt her face physically falling in tandem with Minnie's gasp in horror, her hand only an inch from the doorknob yet again. Her head rotated shakily like a rusty animatronic and found Aurea Juniper reading one of her Manga while laying on her bed. The simmering look on her face was the definition of passive aggressive. Hilda didn't know what drained the color from her face more: her godmother catching her or that the volume had very suggestive cover art.

Again, a bit of both perhaps.

"Hey!" Hilda cried out, finally finding her voice. "You're not allowed in my bedroom or my Manga collection!" She hoped she could get the moral high ground swiftly.

"And you weren't supposed to endanger yourself or Minnie," Aurea retorted with growing irritation in her voice, punctuated when she shut the book loudly. "I'd say that makes us even but you know that'd not how it works here." She tossed the book aside while standing up in her casual t-shirt and jeans.

"Oh, here we go..." Hilda bemoaned while marching up defiantly to the Professor. "What did you expect me to do?" She folded her arms in the face of adversity as usual. "Let Baldie shake down Sean and Chris for money when I could do something about it?" It was practically routine by this point.

"That's what the police is for," Aurea retorted, remaining firm in her stance with her hands to her hips.

"They would've been too late as usual," Hilda jabbed back, not ceding any ground. "And that's assuming they bother to come at all." To make a long story short: she had history.

"Did you even stop to consider the type disadvantage Minnie was at?" Aurea persistently protested, making the Minccino flinch when pointed at.

"That Throh was as much as a joke as that punk was," Hilda retorted while strolling over to her bed. "It took three Tickles to drop their Defense, two Tailslaps to disorient them and a single Swift to send them out the door." She picked up the Manga volume and tried to hide her blush upon realizing it had a certain beach chapter. "If it makes you feel better, I ran interference with a few pies in their faces and a shopping cart to the gut." Hilda shelved it while ignoring Aurea's increasing appalled expressions over her goddaughter's tactics.

"Do you even hear yourself?!" Professor Juniper asked in all honesty.

"Minnie, back a sister up," Hilda demanded the Chinchilla Pokemon, making her flinch once more. "You were keen to kick some tail, you know?"

Minnie felt each of her owners putting her on the spot when they looked at her intently, urging for her to stand by one of them. She did support Hilda doing right by her community however destructive the outcome was. However... Aurea wasn't wrong to fuss about her godchild's well-being.

[I... uh...] Minnie nervously began, not liking her options at the moment. [I... believe I forgot to tidy up a few places downstairs.] The Minccino swiftly but shakily shuffled towards the door. [Can't have that on such a big day.] She jumped up to turn the knob fast and landed on the carpet before slipping through the opening.

"Way to show solidarity, coward," Hilda scoffed, marching over to open the door. "You can forget any treats tomorrow, you hear?" She only half meant it in the moment when she shouted into the hallway.

"You truly are your mother's daughter, aren't you?" Aurea wearily sighed, losing the luster in her stern paternal unit performance. "She could never resist playing the comic book hero." She wandered towards an old photo frame hanging on Hilda's wall near the window. "For better... The Professor looked longingly at the picture of her ward being held by an older woman, the latter's face obscured by the sun's glare. "Or worse..."

Hilda shut the door while the guilt and solemness set in, knowing exactly what Professor Juniper was referring to. "Normally, I'd issue a claim over how this may be grounds for revoking your license," Aurea began, putting her goddaughter on edge. Guilt-trip or not, Hilda glared before turning around and preparing to protest her heart out.

"However," Aurea continued while pulling something out of her pocket, "it's with the faintest bit of optimism that I hope caring for your own team will teach you about responsibility and curb your recklessness." She tossed out a small, gray rectangle at her goddaughter from across the room. "Consider yourself lucky, kid."

Hilda hastily caught the rectangle and found it to be a hand-held Pokedex. "Is this really...?" she began with stunned surprised. Hilda turned it on at once and found a second screen rolling up over the bottom touch-screen. The top showed the photo ID she submitted as a Junior Trainer and the bottom contained her personal information.

Every second Hilda marveled over it, a smile broadened across her face while small tears actually welled up in her eyes. She even cupped her hand over her mouth in disbelief that this is really happened. Suffice to say, Aurea couldn't stay mad at Hilda if only for this one moment.

"I'd also be remiss if I didn't recognize how you cleaned up Sean and Chris's stor-" Professor Juniper began to mention, still trying to keep up her authority. However, she was interrupted when Hilda wrapped her arms around her waist like she had teleported across the room. Aurea felt surprised but soon felt touched when she looked down and found her goddaughter hugging her with tears of happiness.

"Thank you..." Hilda choked out to her guardian. She felt her Auntie Aurea warmly return the gesture with a hand on her head and another on her shoulders.

"Your Starters in the living room," Professor Juniper promised. "Be the best Trainer he could ask for."

Hilda pulled back to smile back at her guardian with a nod. "Like no one ever was..." she promised before turning back towards the door.

Hilda swung open her door and raced to her right down the hallway with reckless abandon, fueled by pure glee. She even sat and slid down the staircase railing like she was nine all over again, laughing all the way. Hilda swerved left into the living room where just beyond the couch was a blue gift box on the coffee table. Without Minnie to tell her otherwise, she jumped over the couch and plopped down on the cushions with a bit of a bounce.

"It really is..." Hilda whispered to herself in baited breath before grabbing the box and tearing open the lid. She took out a single Poke Ball the size of a ping-pong ball. "I really did it... Mom..." Hilda's eyes watered up a bit while she held the Poke Ball up to her chest and closed her eyes to savor the moment.

"I've waited a years to say this," she eagerly declared while clicking the white button on the Poke Ball to enlarge and unlock it. "Oshawott, I choose you!"

Hilda held up the Poke Ball in the air while making her very extra declaration. Recognizing the verbal command, the device opens up in half and released a burst of blue-white energy that cascaded down onto the coffee table. The formless mass soon took a fairly tiny shape with a round white head, an orange nose, two stubby paws, blue torso, dark-blue flippers and a dark-blue tail. Sticking to the Pokemon's bellybutton was a shell.

Oshawott groaned while rubbing his black, beady eyes and opening them up slowly. He hadn't gotten too use to being carried in a Poke Ball so he found himself a tad disoriented by the sudden light around him. The Sea Otter Pokemon quickly shook his head before looking up ahead of him and seeing an unfamiliar teenage girl with brown hair leaning in on him.

Oshawott backed away a bit in his initial surprise and fear before he saw the expression of delight on the girl's face. "You're even more adorable up close and personal," she squeed with unbridled exuberance. This was enough to ease the Sea Otter Pokemon's nerve and make him realize the obvious.

[Are... you my Trainer?] Oshawott asked earnestly, cocking his head in uncertainty.

Hilda nodded her head excitedly. "My name's Hilda," she greeted while reaching out with her right hand. "And you better believe that I'm over the moon to finally have you." She managed to hold herself back when taking Oshawott's right paw and shaking it. Tragically, she couldn't help but be a tad rough about it in her excitement.

[As... am... I,] Oshawott managed to get out shakily when Hilda's handshake rocked him about. He appreciated the gesture but was thankfully when she stopped and let himself get more recomposed.

[My name is Oshawott,] the Sea Otter Pokemon introduced himself while putting on more of a smile himself. [It is a honor and a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Trainer Hilda.] He bowed his head in humility and grace towards her, hoping to come off as far less nervous than he felt deep down.

Hilda giggled gleefully after being immediately endeared by Oshawott's overly formal gestures. "Just 'Hilda' is good enough," she promised while lightly lifting up her Starter's head to his confusion. "I might be your Trainer but I also want to be your friend, your fellow teammate." She reached out and gave a more gentle pet on the head, getting a smile out of the Sea Otter Pokemon this time around. "If that's good for you too."

Oshawott giggled back before his Trainer took her hand back. [Yes, I would like that,] he answered, still sounding fairly formal, [Hilda.] However, his smile fell when something dawned on him and looked up at her. [Just now...] Oshawott began to piece together in his growing bewilderment, [you were talking to me and understanding what I was saying.]

Now it was Hilda's turn to go red in the face upon being found out by her Starter. "Oh... right..." she began awkwardly, feeling the egg all over her face. "I, uh... forgot to mention one tiny... super important detail about m-."

[Were you raised in a barn?!]

The two of them nearly jumped while they sharply turned towards Hilda's right and found Minnie glaring daggers at them, having exited the kitchen.

[Remove your flippers off the table this instant!] the Minccino demanded verbosely, marching forward and forcefully. [I have only cleaned them four times in the last eight hours, thank you very much.]

Hilda went red in embarrassment over Minnie's usual shtick but Oshawott was quick to panic over how upset he made the Chinchilla Pokemon. [Oh, I-I-I'm so sorry,] he spluttered out in his flustered state of mind. [I swear that I hadn't known...] The Sea Otter Pokemon just ran forward in his anxiety only to slip on the table's edge and fall towards the carpet with a cry.

Hilda and Minnie wince when Oshawott land on the floor face first with his nose taking the brunt of it. [That hurt...] he groaned while managing to get up and rub his bruised nose.

"Nothing's broken, right?" Hilda hastily asked in a panic. "I'll get a Potion ready." She rushed off the bed and squat down to her Starter while getting out her Personal Computer.

[What have I done?] Minnie gasped in her shame. [I didn't mean to...]

Oshawott was less concerned about the Minccino's remorse and more about Hilda's reaction. For a split second, Snivy's words about being too weak and rejected came to mind. He told himself to act fast.

[Thank you for your consideration, Hilda,] Oshawott replied while standing up in a stronger posture. [But as a Pokemon, I can make do with a bump or two.] He even put on a more confident smile to emulate what he saw of Tepig and cast it towards Hilda. [You can save your Potion for when you truly need it.] The Sea Otter Pokemon also hoped that his formal way of speaking would sell it.

Hilda wasn't sure at first but could tell that Oshawott was trying to at least make a good first impression. "Good to know you can roll with the punches," she complimented, putting down her Personal Computer.

[I deeply apologize for my reaction,] Minnie profusely proclaimed while scurrying up to Oshawott. [It doesn't show often but I'm what some might label as a "neat freak."]

"Yeah, you're real lowkey about it..." Hilda snarked yet smirked under her breath, speaking from experience.

[No, no, I'm sorry,] Oshawott insisted while bowing once more. [I should've remembered my manners.]

[I'm sorry for mistreating my guest,] Minnie insisted back with a bow of her own.

[I'm sorry for upsetting my host,] Oshawott insisted once again, bowing with more of a lean.

The two of them got so caught up in bowing and apologizing that they soon conked their foreheads against each other. [Owie,] they both cried at once. Hilda found it nothing short of a miracle that she was able to only snort and hold back laughter over such priceless slapstick.

After rubbing their respective bumped heads, Oshawott and Minnie were soon the ones to giggle instead over their silliness. [Apology accepted,] they kindly told each other at the same time before shaking paws.

Hilda squeed at such an adorable exchange and couldn't resist scooping the pair of them up for a hug. "My besties are becoming besties," she giggled gleefully with Oshawott held by her left arm and Minnie in her right. "Now this is the best day ever."

Oshawott and Minnie would've share Hilda's sentiments if not for her rather tight grip. They do each muster a smile for her regardless.

[As you can tell,] Minnie strained to get out to Oshawott, [she's a real hugger.]

[I think I'll take that Potion right about now...] Oshawott half joked.

All the while, Aurea could hear the shenanigans in the kitchen while bringing out dinner plates and smiled warmly.

"Chip off the old block..." Professor Juniper repeated to herself. "Eh, Helga?"

To Be Continued...


Well-Known Member
Chapter 3: Silly Stick In The Muds

"Where's Grandpa Cedric?" Hilda managed to speak while stuffing another helping of Spaghetti in her mouth. "He's totally missing out on this killer spread."

"Killer" was an understatement. To Hilda's left were bowls of a variety of pastas that Aurea cooked to perfection and the kind of Garlic Knots even a Vampire would consider nibbling. To her right were more junk food from all the frozen pizzas they saved for the special occasion to pastries bought from the General Store. There were brownies and cookies freshly baked. Soda of every brand practically had Hilda burping just by looking at them all. Aurea was a real stickler for health so it would only take a day special like today kick veggies to the curb.

"Believe me, Dad wanted to at least stop by more than anything," Professor Juniper promised her goddaughter while sticking to the lemon-lime sodas. "Sadly his meeting with the League dragged on longer than expected." She refrained from calling Hilda out on her table manners just this once but it was quite the endeavor to say the least.

"I'll make sure to save dessert for him," the young lady gladly promised before starting on her third brownie.

"He told me that four suits will be over tomorrow for a surprise inspection," Aurea continued while eating her portion of Rotini. "And it's not just to see if our labs passes the white glove test." She swallowed properly with a sip from her soda. "Dad was also arranging it so they could see you and Oshawott in action."

Hilda had to actively suppress herself from giving a classic spit take with her cola. "Why me?" she demanded to know after swallowing her soda. "I passed the written portion and demonstrated my practical skills with Minnie perfectly." Knowing there was more testing threatened to kill her appetite if not for the promise of ice cream.

"Believe me, we were both on your side," Aurea swore wearily. "But four 'impartial observers' are coming over to test you in battle so you allegedly didn't get by because we're your guardians." Her loud eating revealed her growing irritation. "Their words, not mine." She finally caved and took a chocolate-chip cookie to sweeten her souring mood.

Hilda was about to give out her very honest opinion about the Pokemon League's bureaucracy when she heard Oshawott audibly gulp. [I didn't hear anything about a test,] her Starter nervously claimed. Hilda looked to her left and down towards where Oshawott was eating out of his bowl next to Minnie against a wall. [Will... we be okay?] She could tell that he was caught off-guard just as much as she was.

"Let them come," Hilda declared, putting on a far more cocksure demeanor. "If those suits want us at our best, it'll be at their own peril." She pumped her fist in the air in a show of attitude. "As they say in Sinnoh, there's no need to worry." When Aurea wasn't looking, Hilda opened her fist and let a cookie, a brownie and a Garlic Knot drop. She winked cheekily like a spoiling Grandmother.

[Of course, I'm not worried,] Oshawott insisted while putting on a more confident smile to mirror Hilda's. [What's one last battle before we tackle Unova?] Needless to say, this sudden news had his mind on high alert.

"We'll knock 'em dead," Hilda vowed before turning back to her buttered Ziti with salt before it can cool too much. "Literally if it comes to it..."

Once he saw his Trainer turn away and talk more with Aurea, Oshawott's smile sunk into his trademarked frown of anxiety. [More like they'll knock us dead...] he muttered to himself with a more quieter hard swallow.

The Sea Otter Pokemon sat before his bowl where it was half brown Poke-Bits Aurea approved of and half table food Hilda dropped down for her furry friends. However, Oshawott could feel growing anxieties muscle in on his appetite despite his best efforts.

What if he was too weak and cost Hilda her Trainer's license altogether?

What if they took him away from Hilda and gave her Snivy as a compensation?

What if... Hilda got too fed up and left him behind?

[Cookie for your thoughts?] Oshawott heard Minnie cheerfully ask. A chocolate chip cookie landing in his bowl managed to snap him out of his spiral of distress. He looked up and found the Chinchilla Pokemon happily lugging a bounty of pastries in her paws alone. [Or perhaps you are more of a brownie type of Pokemon?] She dumped them all on the ground and seemed happy to make a mess this time around.

[Can't say,] Oshawott replied, trying to shake his earlier fears off of his face. [Never really tried one before.] He took the one he was offered and ate it if only to distract him however much. It proved to be more than just busy work as he found the delicious flavor wash over his tongue.

[Mmmmmm,] Oshawott moaned with a more genuine smile while chewing. [It's so tasty.] It actually seemed to alleviate his anxieties however minimal for the moment. [Thank you very much, Minnie.] The Sea Otter Pokemon bowed graciously.

[You are truly welcome,] Minnie cheerfully claimed while eating another brownie. [The Professor's pastries do have a knack for lifting one's spirits, don't they?] The Chinchilla Pokemon dropped a few more cookies into her friend's bowl.

[Am I really that on the nose?] Oshawott sighed in embarrassment, hanging his head.

[Every Starter Pokemon I have met working at the lab has the precise pre-Trainer jitters you feel,] Minnie reassured him while sitting next to him. [Rest assure when I tell that you have already won over Hilda's heart.] She offered him another cookie personally to help his mood along.

Oshawott knew Minnie was oversimplifying his anxieties but didn't feel comfortable divulging too much. He took the cookie and ate it if only to soothe his troubled heart. The Minccino's cordial demeanor made her seem approachable enough. With a hard swallow, the Sea Otter Pokemon decided to dip his toes as the humans often coined.

[I can tell Hilda liked me... now,] Oshawott ventured forth, the last part whispered to himself. [It's the inspection that has me worried.] He tried a brownie to keep himself for going down another spiral in front of Minnie. [I would hate to make her look bad.] It was nice but a tad... strong in flavor for his personal palette.

[That is terribly considerate of you but nothing you need fret about,] Minnie promised while indulging in one more cookie and making a cheeky smile. [Hilda's perfectly capable of making herself look terrible alone.]

Oshawott could keep himself for giggling but managed to cover his mouth so his Trainer wouldn't hear. [Is that your expert opinion?] he logically but jokingly guessed, his laugh dying down. He silently appreciated Minnie's attempts at keeping him cheered up.

[I shall allow you be the judge,] the Minccino joked back while eating some of the Pokemon food in the bowl. [In all seriousness, I have seen Hilda work most of her life for this moment.] She exchanged a rather spunky grin with Oshawott to give some extra confidence. [Those stuffy suits are in for the scuffle of their lives if they believe she will go quietly.]

The Sea Otter Pokemon's anxieties still remained yet were alleviated by Minnie's infectious kindness. [I got the impression,] Oshawott began, snickering when he remembered Aurea's earlier phone call to Hilda. [Even so... I don't suppose you could battle in my place when the inspection begins.] He just thought of it and began to hope.

[I believe they want to see how you battle under her specifically,] Minnie promised uneasily, trying to let his friend down easily. [I can tell you now that they are most particular to a fault.] It was hard for her to see Oshawott's expression become dejected all over again. That is until a thought had struck her like lightening and made her smile once more.

[But I can still assist you,] Minnie exclaimed while pounding her right paw in her left palm, a gesture she'd seen Oshawott do.

Around that moment, Aurea yawned contently after feeling stuffed to the brim with food before feeling embarrassed by an accidental burp. She covered her mouth with her fingers with a blush before Hilda stiffed a snickering.

"And on that note, I'll turn in before I pass out," Aurea declared before standing up from her seat, collecting her empty plates. "You will leave enough for Dad tomorrow, right?" She gave a rather stern but knowing look at Hilda. The Professor caught the teen shamelessly snatching up a few more pastries in to a ziplock bag with an eager smile.

"Meal time is a battle unto itself," Hilda declared, smirking with her eyes closed. "Those who fail to strike first are destined to fail." Any attempt at sounding wise and thoughtful was undermined when she nibbled on yet another cookie.

"Right..." Aurea replied with a weary sigh. "Just head up to your room and have your lights out by ten." She stacked her plates before carrying them towards the sink. "Every second of shut-eye counts if we're going to get those League busybodies of our backs."

The Professor had just turned on the facet when she heard Minccino squeaking excitedly and assumed it was just pleading for more treats. However, Hilda's gasping in response was keen to indicated otherwise much to Aurea's bemusement.

"Great Dragon alive," Hilda exclaimed while almost shooting straight up out of her seat, slapping her palm on her forehead. "Literally how did I just forget until now?" She took out her Poke Ball and clicked the white button to unlock it via enlarging it.

"Return, Oshawott!" Hilda declared while aiming it squarely at her Starter Pokemon. The Sea Otter Pokemon had only just looked up from his bowl in confusion when the red beam made contact and pulled him back to the Ball in seconds.

"Okay, I'll bite," Aurea sighed wearily, smelling shenanigans from a mile away. "What are you up to this-" She had only just swung around and found Hilda holding out her Poke Ball with a rather determined grin. "-time?" The Professor found the expression rather... nostalgic.

"Aurea Juniper," Hilda began, fully invested in her dramatics, "I challenge you to a Pokemon Battle!" She even locked eyes with her Auntie Aurea to complete the classic cliche.

The Professor could only give her own battle-ready grin back in response. Now that was a face she couldn't say "No" to.

"Oshawott!" Hilda declared. "I choose you!"

Oshawott opened his eyes after feeling his body solidify again and shook his head slightly to clear his fuzzy vision. He was wondering what was going on when Minnie and Professor Juniper came into view, finding them about a yard across from him on the grass. His confusion only grew when he looked to his left and found a big tree in front of what he could only assumed what Hilda's house from behind.

[Did I miss something?] Oshawott asked nobody in particular, still feeling disoriented from the impromptu recall.

"Just a little high note to end the day on," he heard Hilda jovially declared from behind him. "Namely: our very first battle together."

Oshawott turned around to find her kneeling down and grinning eagerly down at him. She had two black shoes on and a black vest for the outdoors but the Sea Otter Pokemon was too out of sorts to fully notice.

[Battle?!] Oshawott exclaimed, his confusion morphing to concern. [Right now?!] He turned back towards Minnie and Professor Juniper to find their faces each wore a confident smirk. An expression often made when accepting a challenge for Pokemon and humans alike. The kind that made him gulp hard.

[Oh... my...] Oshawott meekly muttered, his paws to his mouth.

"I know," Hilda squealed, mistaking her Starter's fear for a more tempered excitement. "It feels like a dream, doesn't it?" She stood sprung back up to be ready for anything.

More like a nightmare, Oshawott forced himself into thinking before putting on a more "appropriate" expression. [Feels a dream come true!] The Sea Otter Pokemon declared while showing Hilda a far more cocksure demeanor not unlike his Trainer's own. [Just give the word.]

A glance to his right led Oshawott to notice an encouraging wink from Minnie before he recalled her offering to help him out. The Sea Otter Pokemon only hoped that she knew what she was doing more than he could guess.

"Sure you wanna do this?" Aurea quipped with a confident smirk, her hands in her lab coat pockets to complete the image. "I'm not pulling a single punch with Minnie if I can help it." An evening breeze blew in as if to set the mood.

"If you can help it, you'll need more than a single," Hilda volleyed back with a determined grin of her own. "Me and Oshawott are about to over-water your lawn."

[But I'm weak to Grass-types,] Oshawott replied unironically once the quip flew over his head.

"I... had a stronger quip originally," Hilda admitted awkwardly. "We'll workshop battle one-liners later."

She saw her Auntie Aurea and Minnie cocking her head over her trash talk before pulling out her Pokedex. Aiming it at Oshawott, the device gave a read out of his stats as well as the precise moves that he had under his belt.

"Water Gun!" Hilda declared with gutso, thrusting out her hand. "Soak 'em to the bone!"

Jumping from how fast things were going, Oshawott still made haste to gather Water-type energy into his throat. He told himself to just follow Hilda's orders and not lose his cool before blasting pressurized water in a straight beam aimed squarely on Minnie.

Hilda could vividly see the Minccino wigging out over their stinky, wet fur and grinned over her easy win. Perhaps... too easy.

"Swift!" Aurea shouted at the exact moment Oshawott started blasting. "Deflection on the double!"

Minnie lived up to the attack's name as she charged her tail with Normal-type Energy and leaped into the air to perform a double somersault. Both flips each had her tail whip and fling multiple star-shaped projectiles squarely at the Water Gun.

The first volley struck the pressurized water and reduced its force before the second finished off what was left of the blast. Whatever projectiles made it past hit Oshawott's body all over and made him cry out from the stinging.

By the time Minnie landed, the water splashed onto the ground and soaked the soil. She wasn't one to battle for the thrill of it but even she couldn't help but smile with pride over pulling off such a maneuver.

"Hang in there," Hilda urged Oshawott, gritting her teeth at the sight of him still starting to wobble from the impact.

[I'll be okay,] the Sea Otter Pokemon promised, trying not to lose face. The pain died down soon but not fast enough for his liking.

Hilda felt bad hearing how he groaned in trying to tough it out but was also concerned by how Minnie's attack hit him hard with just the leftovers.

"Wow, nice work," Aurea laughed playfully with a smarmy look in her eye. "You literally over-watered the lawn." She found Hilda's peeved reaction to be priceless. "Now if only you did your chores this well..."

Hilda felt more than a little peeved once she figured out that Aurea was hoping she's rush in blindly and that it was working. She pulled out the Pokedex to refresh herself on Oshawott's set of moves and considered Tail Whip for a moment. However, Hilda was so keen to get in a hit that she overlooked it almost entirely in favor of the more offensive attacks.

Plus, it looked a tad too silly.

"Razor Shell!" Hilda declared to Oshawott. "Cut 'em down to size!"

The Sea Otter Pokemon was initially confused by his Trainer wanting to get in close range so soon but didn't want to come off as too scared. [Already on it,] Oshawott swore to Hilda with a firm glare while channeling his Water-type Energy throughout his body. Whatever his Trainer had in mind, he had to trust that it would work.

Oshawott took his Scalchop off of his bellybutton with both paws and made a dash towards Minnie. He channeled his Water-type Energy into his shell and created a glowing blue blade on it from the moisture in the air attracted by his power. The Sea Otter Pokemon's flippers splashed on the puddles left from his previous Water Gun and held his sword steadily by his right.

Aurea only briefly pondered why Hilda was attacking this boldly before realizing how close Oshawott was getting. "Minnie, dodge and counter with Tail Slap!" She was intrigued by what her protege would do next.

Oshawott got in close and tried to deliver a downward slash from his right to left. However, Minnie jumped to her left and narrowly avoided the Shell Blade while channeling Normal-type Energy into her tail.

"To your right!" Hilda warned quickly, knowing where the Minccino would jump to evade.

Within this split-second, Oshawott recovered fast enough to swing back to his right in hopes of at least grazing his foe. However, Minnie powered up her tail in time to spin around and swing it to slap the Shell Blade in an attempt to deflect it. The impact was strong enough to knock the Scalchop out of Oshawott's grip and sharply sting the Chinchilla Pokemon on the tail.

Minnie landed back on the ground and winced at the barely deflected strike. The blade in question spiraled in the air before stabbing the ground shell up. It was still stable with just enough energy leftover to Hilda's far left near the tree. However, that didn't concern her just then.

"Tackle her Oshawott!" Hilda urged during this very sliver of time. "Now's your chance."

It was rudimentary for Oshawott to channel Normal-type Energy throughout his body within a second's time and rush forward within the next. Aurea and Minnie alike had only just begun to consider countermeasures when the Sea Otter Pokemon rammed into his furry foe. The Minccino went flying and would've hit the fence if she hadn't first landing on the grass.

"A solid hit at last!" Hilda cheered. "Way to clean her clock, Oshawott!"

The Sea Otter Pokemon began to smile both from his Trainer's cheering and the rush of his successful attack. What seemed like embarrassment tailor made for klutzy Oshawott seemed more like a triumphant victory. He never knew his confidence could reach such heights.

"Nice follow through," Aurea commented to herself, hoping her proud smile didn't show too much. She kept an eye out for Minnie getting up and an ear out for Hilda's next move.

"Keep Minnie on the ropes!" her goddaughter urged Oshawott, eager to win. "Water Gun her down!"

[Consider her soaked to the bone,] the Sea Otter Pokemon declared, hoping to work on his own quips. Oshawott charged his throat with Water-type Energy and blasted another beam of pressurized water directly at Minnie. The way she seemed unsteady in getting back up made him believe that she was easy picking.

At first.

"Evasive maneuvers, Minnie!" Aurea ordered just when Oshawott fired away. "Zig-zag!" She saw Minnie's pained expression shift to something more confident as she'd expected.

The Chinchilla Pokemon dodged the Water Gun by jumping forth to her left and scurried back towards her right when the beam followed. All the while, Oshawott kept his blast trained on Minnie's tail intently and hoped to catch her once she came in range. He believed she was getting in close to get him with a proper Tail Slap and that he could wash her away at the right distance. Minnie indeed came within a foot of him... just when his Water Gun dried up.

["Not now!"] Hilda and Oshawott exclaimed together in that very second, even sharing the same slacked jaws of shock.

The Sea Otter Pokemon expected one hell of a smack across the face when Minnie jumped up and somersaulted over him. "Grab him from behind!" Oshawott heard Professor Juniper order when his shock became confusion. He was slow to turn around and allowed the Minccino to swiftly latch onto his back. Her stubby arms quickly proved to be surprisingly firm in holding onto his sides.

[What is this?] Oshawott demanded to know, feeling cautious yet baffled all at once. He struggled to shake Minnie off but she kept hold of him and didn't let him budge an inch.

"T-that position..." Hilda exclaimed with bated breath and fear growing in her eyes. "Let him go, Minnie!" She had prayed that the Professor had the decency to make it a last resort. "It's too soon for that move!"

Aurea sharply looked at Hilda with a rather cold glare. "I warned you, didn't I?" the Professor reminded her goddaughter firmly. "That I wouldn't pull a single punch." She sighed deeply in knowing what's to come. "Take this to heart, Hilda: pick your battles wisely or they'll pick you off."

[W-w-w-wait a minute,] Oshawott stammered in growing dread. [What's happening?] Minnie's devious giggling behind him sent chills down his spine.

[I apologize for my... overindulgence,] the Minccino answered villanously before bringing her tail around. [I so often get carried away once the ball gets rolling.] With sadistic glee, she began brushing Oshawott's bare belly and sneered a toothy grin. [And right now... we're going down a terribly steep slope.]

The Sea Otter Pokemon immediately burst out laughing from the ticklish sensation and wriggled about crazily in Minnie's hold. [Ple-he-he-he-he-hease,] Oshawott begged with the biggest smile in his partial enjoyment while shutting his eyes in embarrassment. [It's... too... mu-hu-hu-hu-huch.]

Oshawott could feel his body weakening in composure and dropping in basic Defense. Part of him was worried that he'd be too shaken up to brace himself for a Swift let alone a Tail Slap. Another part of him was too busy laughing happily in tears.

"Forgive me, Oshawott..." Hilda melodramatically begged with clenched teeth and fists. "I never thought this would end so... so... " She shut her eyes and tried to look away in shame. Not just for putting her Starter through this. "...so... adorably..." Rather for delighting in how cute his plight was.

Aurea was a bit more open about enjoying Minnie's going to Tickle Town on Oshawott while looking at her X-Transceiver. "Almost thirty seconds," she remarked to herself, deciding to not let the Minccino's sadism get out of hand. "I'm not that big of a monster." The Professor figured that she'd end it quickly with a Tail Slap as a show of some modicum of mercy.

All the while, Oshawott still struggled with Minnie's grip and tickling. [You're a special one, aren't you?] he heard the Minccino slyly taunted. [Not even Hilda would last this long.] The Sea Otter Pokemon couldn't help but be reminded of how Snivy toyed with him if in more cold-blooded manner. Beneath his laughing smile, he was beginning to feel just as helpless and even worthless.

At this rate, Oshawott managed to think through the tickles, Hilda won't want a pathetic thing like me.

However, the thought of surrendering verbally only began to occur to him when he felt the soil beneath him soften. Both Oshawott and Minnie slipped backwards all of a sudden in their struggling when the dirt suddenly became mud.

[WHOA!] they both cried before the Minccino took the brunt of it, landing on her back. Oshawott felt Minnie let go of her grip and rolled off onto the ground from the forceful fall.

"Whoa, plot twist!" both Hilda and Aurea exclaimed in their surprised.

It doesn't take long for them to notice puddles on the grass glistening in the setting sun. Hilda's quicker to remember how Minnie's Swift splashed Oshawott's Water Gun and scattered the liquid like a sprinkler. In the corner of her eye, she sees Oshawott's Scalchop in a particularly damp spot.

"Clever boy!" Hilda muttered to herself in growing pride while taking out her Pokedex. "Oshawott, end this with Razor Shell!" She grinned more and more once she'd read up on the attack's other applications.

Oshawott still felt shaken and stirred by Minnie's tail but spotted his Scalchop just before the big tree ahead. [I can still do it...] he whispered in disbelief. The Sea Otter Pokemon rose back up and raced forth with a more determined look on his face. [I can still win this!]

"No, no, no," Aurea cried in frustration, seeing Oshawott rushing towards his shell. "Minnie, what are you-?"

The Professor got her answer in the form of the Minccino squeaking in distress and darted towards her Pokemon in fright. There was Minnie looking all over the mud covering her body. An expression of pure discomfort covered her face from cheek to cheek.

[My evening grooming...] Minnie shakily croaked out, cringing over the icky grime that would slime her to the bone. [It was innocent...]

"Time and place, neat freak!" Aurea barked irritably. She thankfully missed Hilda's triumphant grin at that moment.

"Curve your Shell Blade, Oshawott," the rookie ordered excitedly, imagining Unovan football for this next maneuver. "Go long!"

By this time, Oshawott had reached his Scalchop while channeling Water-type Energy throughout his body and grabbed it. With a bit of finesse, he created a new Shell Blade out of the water in the dirt and had it curve out of its side.

The Sea Otter Pokemon swung around to focus on Minnie while she was still out of sorts from her mud bath. Finding the precise angle, Oshawott threw the Shell Blade like a Frisbee and had it spin in the air just like one.

"Duck, Minnie!" Aurea cried out in time.

Minnie snapped out of her spiral of disgust in time to gasp upon seeing the spinning Shell Blade heading straight for her. She bowed her head down fast and felt it whoosh over her, avoiding her by just half a centimeter.

[Whew!] Minnie sighed in relief. [That was a near thing.]

["More than you think,"] Hilda and Oshawott quipped together in a synchronized moment of confidence.

Minnie found herself thrown off by their retort before the Shell Blade boomerangs around and comes up behind her. It doesn't slice or pierce the Chinchilla Pokemon's torso but the sharp slash is painful and strong enough to knock her back down. This time, the Minccino's face goes splat in even grimier mud. She was so weakened that she didn't have the strength to wig out properly.

Oshawott, on the other hand, jumped up a tad to catch his Scalchop with his right paw once the Shell Blade had dwindled down. [I... I did it...] he muttered in increasing bewilderment after landing. [I really won...] The Sea Otter Pokemon looked down at his shell while catching his breath and began to smile softly.

Oshawott's meditation over his victory was sharply disrupted first by the sound of Hilda's unbridled laughter and her sudden hold on his torso. "Victory toss!" his Trainer declared while actually tossing the Sea Otter Pokemon into air. He wailed in fright while getting his Scalchop back onto his bellybutton before he can lose it again.

Hilda reached out her arms to catch Oshawott perfectly and held him up to her right cheek, giggling giddily. "It's official!" she declared while nuzzling her cheek against her Pokemon friend's. "You're the best Starter a girl could've asked for!"

Oshawott felt his initial shock wear off and give way to delight over the infectious affection that Hilda was showering him. He gave a nuzzle to his Trainer while laughing himself over his unlikely victory. The Sea Otter Pokemon almost felt like he was dreaming after all of Snivy's put-downs since hatching.

"Forget those suits," Hilda cheered before holding up Oshawott to her soft chest in a hug. "Might as well go straight to the Champion while we're at it." She twirled around while still riding the high of her narrow victory before stepping in a soft patch of mud.

Both Pokemon and Trainer alike yelped comically before Hilda landed butt first onto the still soggy grounds, bracing with her elbows. Oshawott landed safely back first on her chest after she'd let him go in the moment. However, their pratfall wasn't enough to sour their mood as they looked at each other with a mutual grin and another giggle.

All the while, Minnie had gotten back up with a mud facial and spat out some that got in her mud. [One reaps what they sow...] she sighed in utter resignation, looking at all the mud on her paws alone. [It's nothing short of karmic after my... shameless display.] The Minccino could only hang her head and cringe when remembering how overboard she went in Tickling Oshawott.

"Sorry to make things mucky, Minnie," Aurea apologized while coming over and squatting down. "I actually didn't think that Hilda and Oshawott could pull off that boomerang maneuver right out the gate." She brought out a Super Potion and sprayed it all over Minnie to help her with that Critical Hit. "So much for humbling the rookies..."

However, neither Professor nor Pokemon could help looking over and smiling mutually over Hilda's happy fall in the mud with Oshawott. Part of them were glad to have lost. Even Minnie didn't mind her uncleanliness. Outwardly, of course.

After getting back inside, Hilda had thrown her muddy clothes in the bathroom's laundry bin and stepped into the tub for a thorough shower. She knew that Minnie wouldn't allow anything less after their little tumble in the mud.

Surprisingly, the Chinchilla Pokemon had offered to go second if only as an apology for her excessive tickling. Hilda could only imagine the amount of self-control she was burning through by the second while she turned the knob.

[Do I really need a shower too?] Oshawott bellyached while his Trainer held him in her right arm. [I didn't get too dirty, did I?] He winced the second that the shower head sprayed him with the initial cold water and tried to keep it out of his eyes.

"Any 'dirty' is 'too dirty' in Minnie's book," Hilda assured Oshawott, amused that even Water-types hated bath time. "Trust me, I've have plenty of romp in the mud to figure that out." She squirted out a bit of bath lotion from a bottle of Pokemon Fur Wash and began to lather the back of her Starter's head.

"Speaking of the old grime, I don't think I thanked you properly," Hilda added while letting the suds wash off.

[What for?] Oshawott asked in confusion, raising his arm so his Trainer could lather his sides.

"For that brilliant turnaround you pulled off, duh!" Hilda exuberantly praised while digging into her Pokemon's fur. "You felt the ground softening below you and figured that it was just muddy enough to make Minnie slip with you." She giggled as the moment replayed in her mind.

[I did?] Oshawott asked before quickly course correcting. [I mean... I, uh, didn't realize it was so obvious.] He tried to sound more confident even while Hilda started to scrub his muddy flippers with a little tickle.

"Aren't you just the model of modesty tonight?" his Trainer sassed back playfully, endeared by Oshawott trying to play it cool. She even gave him a peck on the noggin if only to see him blush.

After a thorough drying, Hilda flopped backwards onto her bed after a change into her pink pajamas. "Trust the best day ever to run me ragged," she sighed deeply while letting her limbs sprawl all over nearly listlessly. "Time to hit the hay, Oshawott."

[I don't know what that means,] the Sea Otter Pokemon admitted by the side of Hilda's bed, [but I don't feel sleepy at all.] His Trainer extended her right arm down to let him hold onto and lifted him up.

"Neither do I but we need every bit of shut-eye we can get," Hilda conceded while putting Oshawott on the bed beside her. "The better to kick those suits in the butt with." She gave him a good pat on the head to get him smiling.

"Never thought I'd see the day," the pair heard Aurea's voice from the doorway, finding her poking her head in. "Hilda herself actually exercising some modicum of restraint as a Trainer?" The sassy look in her eyes spoke volumes alone.

"It's more likely than you think," Hilda retorted with cheek, blowing a raspberry. Oshawott tried to imitate his Trainer but only wiggled his tongue with a little spittle.

"So was our battle everything you hoped for?" Aurea then asked with a more softer demeanor.

"Everything and more," Hilda promised happily, lifting herself up to sit and smile back. "You... think she'd be proud?" Oshawott couldn't help but not a slight melancholy in his Trainer's voice.

"Always has been," Aurea replied sincerely. "And I know she always will." Oshawott also noticed a slight tear in her eye.

[Do hurry, Professor!] Minnie cried from the bathroom, interrupting the tender moment. [It has begun hardening... entombing me in eternal filth...] Aurea didn't need Hilda to know how melodramatic she was being. [Great Dragon alive, save me!]

"Wish me luck," Aurea sighed before closing the door. "Or a miracle..."

Hilda and Oshawott snickered considerably once the Professor was clearly out of earshot. [I wish today didn't have to end so soon,] Oshawott sighed before plopping down on his bottom.

"Who says it has to?" Hilda cheekily claimed with a mischievous grin. She took out her Personal Computer and tapped it to release an item from her Inventory.

Multiple bags of dinner leftover scattered across the mattress much to Oshawott's surprise. He walked across the matresss to find that there were brownies, cookies and even some Garlic Knots. By the smell of things, they were still fresh and warm. The Sea Otter Pokemon gave a bright smile of hopefulness back at his Trainer.

"Auntie Aurea said to turn in but nothing about going to sleep just yet," Hilda declared while opening a zip-lock bag of chocolate-chip cookies. "Let's say that we're... practicing your speed and timing." She had her thump flip a cookie like tossing a coin while each one of her own.

From the other half of the bed, Oshawott was quick to move left in order to catch the treat in his mouth. He chewed on it lovingly and swallowed it just when he saw Hilda flick over a brownie. The Sea Otter Pokemon dove to his right and let it land on his tongue.

[Yeah,] Oshawott giggled with his mouth full, winking back knowingly. [Wouldn't want to slack off now, would we?]

It was the perfect end to a perfect first day. They'd never have known how good they had it then...

To Be Continued...

Thank you for reading my fanfiction. Write up a comment or a full blown review about what you liked or loathed about my work. I can roll with the punches so let me have it.


Well-Known Member
Chapter 4: All In The Family

Oshawott hit the mud face-first after a nasty Tail Slap across the cheek. He barely got up to spit out the dirty water and looked up at Hilda pleadingly.

[I... can still... fight,] Oshawott swore up and down desperately only to be met with a rather blank look from his Trainer. [I-I-I can win this.] Hilda's eyes were shrouded by her cap's brim but her mouth was a slight frown that made him scared all the more. [Please...]

"I need to think..." his Trainer replied in a fairly bummed out tone of voice while holding up his Poke Ball.

Oshawott shut his eyes when the red beam hit and opened his eyes to... nothing. An empty void of blackness wherever he turned.

[Hilda?] Oshawott anxiously cried out. [Anyone?]

"Looks like you lost pretty badly," he heard Professor Juniper's voice speak somberly. "Barely even touched Minnie."

[Wait, no!] Oshawott pleaded in but didn't know where towards. [I got a few hits in.] The voice seemed to be... everywhere yet nowhere. [Didn't I?]

"The little guy's cute and all but... he's not cutting it," Hilda's voice sighed wearily. "Figuratively and literally." Oshawott's blood ran cold at her words. "I'm sorry, Auntie."

[No,] Oshawott whispered, tears welling up in his eyes. [Y-y-you don't mean that...] His breathing shortened considerably as if the blackness was smothering him.

"I suppose he always was a bit hopeless," Professor Juniper conceded reluctantly. "He's nice but that won't win any battles."

[I can do better!] Oshawott shouted frantically with a strain in his voice. [I will do better.] He stumbled about in an attempt to find somebody. Anybody who could help him.

In a distance, Oshawott could make out Minnie from behind and felt a twinge of relief. [Please help me,] he begged, rushing forward blindly. [You can't let Hilda throw me awa-]

[Must I though?] Minnie replied with a tone of voice that was soaked in disdain. Oshawott stopped dead and felt his body go cold from an all too familiar fear. She wasn't speaking in the usual squeaks of a Minccino... but in hissing.

[By the sound of things,] Minnie hissed while turning around slowly, [it would be in everyone's best interest if you simply ceased to be.] Her beady eyes held the slitted pupils of a Snivy. The Snivy Oshawott hoped he had left behind.

The Sea Otter Pokemon couldn't speak in his unmitigated fear, let alone breath, when Minnie began to marched towards him. She came closer while also growing bigger and bigger.

[Would that not be for the better?] Minnie postured. [Would everybody be more at ease without you to complicate matters?] By the time she was a foot away from Oshawott, she was bigger than a Krokorok and morphing slowly into the Snivy he grew to fear. [Aren't you tired of being a burden?]

Oshawott wanted to run and scream but felt... glued to the spot, looking up at the enormous Grass Snake Pokemon. As if a part of him... agreed with her?


No. No. No.

It wasn't true. Oshawott shook his head violently to dash the idea from his head. He wasn't considering...

Was it?

[Too weak to do it ourselves, are we?] Snivy boomed despite her cold tone of voice. [Very well.] She slowly raised her right foot above Oshawott. [What are friends for?]

The Sea Otter Pokemon had second to run out of the way but found that... he couldn't. Snivy's right foot slowly stepped on him and slowly began to press down. Oshawott felt himself smother and unable to breath with such a heavy weight pressing down on him. The Sea Otter Pokemon found his cries for help muffled when he
woke back up and found something heavy really was weighing down on him.

Oshawott recognized Hilda's pink pajama top while feeling her chest heaving up and down into him. Her snoring was loud enough to fully wake him up to boot. The pressure wasn't anything the Sea Otter Pokemon couldn't take but he still found it more than a little hard to breath. Especially under a rather soft yet firm area much to his curiosity.

[Hilda!] Oshawott managed to call out however muffled. [You're crushing me.] He pushed up against his Trainer's body if only to shove her awake but found her to be virtually dead to the world. Minnie's warning about Hilda's tossing and turning suddenly didn't seem so trivial at the moment.

"...mmmm... s'not your puddin'... Purrloin..." Hilda slurred in her slumber, laying front down. "...get 'er... Pidove..." Her body rocked about from Oshawott's vain attempts at either tossing her off or waking her up. Not without a few... drastic measures.

[Forgive me, Hilda,] Oshawott prayed before channeling Normal-type energy throughout his body. He tried to be as gentle as he could in pushing his Trainer off of him with greater ease with his boosted strength. The Sea Otter Pokemon gasped in fresh air and stood up hastily but put a touch more elbow grease despite his best efforts.

Hilda rolled onto her right side in the process... and processed to fall off the edge of the bed. Oshawott winced when he heard the thump and the inevitable cry of pain that followed suit.

[Oops...] he could only gulp nervously, still fresh from his nightmare. [Anything broken, Hilda?] Oshawott could hear her silently curse under her breath and feared the worst.

"I've had worse from Minnie," Hilda quipped while lifting herself up from the carpeted floor, kneeling down. "Who needs alarm clocks when you got Pokemon, right?" She laughed in an effort to downplay her initial morning irritation for Oshawott's sake. However, it couldn't keep her from wincing over the sore bruise on her cheek.

Oshawott felt his nerves settle after seeing Hilda put on a happy face and decided to fess up. [I'm sorry for the rude wake-up call,] he apologized with a humble bow. [It was hard to hold back let alone breath.]

"Oh no no no no," Hilda insisted apologetically, grabbing Oshawott with both hands. "I'm the one who forgot I had a sleepover last night." She put a surprised look in Oshawott's eye with a peck on the forehead. "I didn't hurt you, did I?" Her eyes were taking a cue from her Starter with how big and worrisome they looked.

[Nothing I couldn't handle,] Oshawott quickly touted with a more confident front. [I've had worse from Minnie.] His little call-back got a a smile back on Hilda's face thankfully. He was mainly relieved to see that she wasn't upset anymore.

Not now.

"I just might put it on our training regimen then," Hilda joked while placing Oshawott down onto the carpet. "Until then, a girl's gotta get ready for the day ahead if you'll bear with me." She stood back up to make a beeline right for her desk where her Personal Computer and X-Transceiver were charging on their respective ports.

"Looks like Auntie Aurea got a head start to the lab," Hilda went on, reading the texts on her device before strapping it to her wrist. "She even took Minnie so you just know she's desperate to pass sanitation." One tap of her P.C. removed her pajamas in an instant and left a can of body spray.

"We're expected around One so it won't so much 'seize the day' as much as 'seize the morning and a touch of the afternoon," Hilda continued while grabbing the can. "Not that I haven't made do with less." She began to spritz herself if only to save time on a morning shower. "And believe me, we're gonna make the most of it." Minnie would balk at it but that was the fun of it.

While Hilda rambled on, Oshawott couldn't help but let his thoughts drift to his dream and his smile melt into an anxious frown. He couldn't remember most of his nightmare but could certainly feel the fear of it lingering in his heart. It only got worse when he could remember that the inspection was already upon them.

[It won't happen...] Oshawott quietly lied to himself, closing his eyes. [It won't happen...] The thought of Snivy snuffing him out under her foot came back to mind. [It. Won't. Happen...]

"Think fast, Oshawott!"

The Sea Otter Pokemon snapped out his thoughts to look back up and see a small bottle being tossed his way. Oshawott was quick to catch while just barely fumbling it in his paws. He looked up to find Hilda putting her hair up in a ponytail with her clothes from yesterday back on.

"What is this?" Oshawott asked, almost forgetting his previous anxieties. The cap had a plastic lid that easily popped open for him.

"Protein shake," Hilda answered while picking up a mini-carton of her own. "Just a little thing to tie you over until breakfast." She started for her bedroom door while checking her inventory for the essentials. "Bought them in bulk as part of a Starter Pokemon discount."

"We're not eating here?" Oshawott questioned in confusion, following his Trainer while keeping hold of his carton.

"On a day like today?" Hilda replied with a touch of sass, taking a chug of her shake. "Where's the pizzazz?" She was still sifting through her P.C. before coming across what she was looking for. "I've had this little shindig planned before we blaze a trail through Unova." One tap on the screen materialized the baseball cap onto her head. "And you're our guest of honor."

[A party for me?!] Oshawott exclaimed, his spirits truly rising with his smile. [I certainly am honored] He started to bow but remembered his Protein Shake in time to not spill.

"Consider me your chauffeur this fine morning," Hilda chortled while curtsying, putting on the worst Galarian accent ever. "The bike awaits, Young Master Oshawott." She opened the door and heading into the hallway while working down more of her Protein Shake.

[Right behind you!] Oshawott called while following with more pep in his step. Maybe this would be a good day. [By the way, what is a bike?]

Oshawott soon found his answer in the form of holding onto Hilda's bicycle basket and crying out for dear life. The house of suburban Nuvema flashed by with the speed his Trainer was pedaling and through an impressive streak of green lights no less. The Sea Otter Pokemon had to really batten down when they served around their fair share of sharp curves. A series of small potholes and uneven sidewalk tiles really gave their trip a little bounce than expected.

"Sorry for the rough ride, Oshawott," Hilda swore through all her panting. "Seize the morning and all." She turned on a local street just before the shopping district. "I've only ever crashed once... a week." Her face went lightish-red over the silent admission.

[W-who's complaining?] Oshawott replied in an attempt to hide his anxiousness, putting on another confident look. [The rougher, the better!] He went so far as to stop holding onto the basket's edges and put his paws to his hips boldly. [Full speed ahead, helmsman!]

A pothole Hilda missed too Oshawott up on that challenge when she bumped and barely had time to recover from such a dip. The Sea Otter Pokemon wailed when he bounced out of the basket and ended up just barely grabbing the edge before he could fall out. His Trainer kept bicycling despite feeling shaken herself.

[Or half speed!] Oshawott hastily course corrected, flailling his flippers in fear of falling. [Half is good!] He quickly managed to lift up with his paws and dump himself back in. [Maybe a quarter if you prefer?] The Starter Pokemon managed a very shaky smile and chuckle while panting heavily.

"Very good, sir," Hilda chortled back, reveling in her cringey accent once more. "You'll be pleased to know that we're halfway there."

Oshawott looked back ahead and was surprised to see how the road they were on about to end in a cul-de-sac before leading into a dirt trail amongst tree. They were the most trees that the Sea Otter Pokemon had ever seen even back outside of the laboratory for outdoor battle tests. His mouth hung open in awe when Hilda's bike hit the dirt and surrounded them with so much natural beauty to look at.

Hilda smiled warmly the more they went down the trail and felt all her worries wash away. It was like she had come home after a long day. The feeling wasn't too far off as Pokemon along the trail would stop to at least glance their way whenever they rode past.

[Nice Starter, Hilda!] a Patrat called, spilling berries from his stuffed cheeks. [Looks like a real winner!]

[Hilda, darling!] an Unfezant chirped from her nest above while feeding her babies. [My kids will miss you!]

[Try not to forget about us little folks,] an elderly Stoutland chortled before sniffing the ground for his buried berries.

Hilda waved to each Pokemon who gave their regards to her happily while Oshawott found himself growing curious by all the attention they were getting. A small clearing with a tree stump in the middle came into Hilda's view soon enough, her cue to put on the brakes.

"Last stop!" she called out like a Subway conductor while sliding her ride to a stop. "Please watch your step as you exit the basket."

Oshawott does just that when he lifted himself out of the basket and dropped down to the ground below. All the while, Hilda dismounted while taking out her Personal Computer to quickly digitize her ride and return it to her Inventory.

[Wow!] was all Oshawott could say.

Now that he could stay in place and look around, the trees now towered above him yet didn't intimidate him. Rather, they felt peaceful with the sunlight shining through their branches and leaves. He closed his eyes with a soft smile just beneath. The sounds of distance Pokemon calls across the breezes only cultivated this growing sense of serenity in his heart.

Hilda gave Oshawott a moment to really take it all in and was more than happy to see him share her affection for this slice of heaven. "First time in the great outdoors?" she finally asked, giving him space to really let it all sink in.

[I've only ever been in the backyard of the lab and never seen anything like... this...] Oshawott claimed, his mouth still hanging open in his smile. [Have you ever been here before?]

"Been here?!" Hilda repeated with a hint of excitement. "This is practically a second home for me." She swung around to really take in all the natural beauty like she had so many time before. "Like a Pokemon born human."

Oshawott snapped out of his awe at Hilda's claim and remembered something that he'd been too distracted to ask about. [By they way, I had been meaning ask about-]


Oshawott jumped in alarm when Hilda screamed the words from the top of her lungs, drawing them out in a single breath. The Pidove in the tree flew off from the branches in their own fright while various Patrat and Lillipup dashed off. Not merely because of the loud cry but what was likely to come.

[Um... okay?] was all Oshawott could say in his state of confusion, looking at Hilda like she really did become a Pokemon. [What was that about?]

"I said this was like a second home, right?" Hilda repeated with a eager smile and a wink. "You're about to meet the family."

Oshawott still cocked his head in his lingering state of confusion and began to wonder if a lack of breakfast was getting to his Trainer. However, he was soon distracted by rustling leaves from a tree to his right before the same happened with a tree to his left. The Sea Otter Pokemon darted his head between both sides and gulped in anticipation of a potential wild encounter.

However, Oshawott found himself concerned with Hilda once more when he turned and found a weird smirk she now wore on her face. "Hit me with your best shot, girls," she whispered eagerly.

As if to answer her challenge, a silky strings shoot from one tree to the other and another from the other to the one. Oshawott only just looked up when two bugs clad in leaves, one from each tree, swing in on their respective String Shots from their mouths.

Each Sewaddle thrust out one of their feet with Hilda being right where they'll meet, clearly going for a good kick in the head. Their target was just standing around seeming so nonchalant aside from a rather slight smirk on her face. Oshawott attempted to be more proactive in grabbing his Scalchop however hastily.

"Whoops, shoes untied," Hilda pretended to claim excitedly while bending down. The two Sewaddles crash into each other just behind her and fall to the ground like twin sacks of potatoes that went "Ow!"

Hilda pretended to be surprised when she looked behind her and turned around with a slight smug grin. "Sue, Addle," she gleefully greeted the Bug-Type twin sisters when they were still picking themselves back up. "When did you decide to drop on by?" The twins either groaned out of pain or from her very bad one-liner.

[Yuck it up, Hilda,] Sue vowed vigoriously once she'd sprung to her feet.

[We'll knock your block off yet!] Addle chimed in with gutso to back up her sis.

The persistent pair rushed forth to blindly tackle Hilda only for their friend to easily grab them by the leaves on their backs. Even when their human friend held them up, they wriggled about in attempt to give their "rival" a real licking but could only flail their stubby limbs. Hilda giggled over how they were still adorable even after all this time.

Oshawott, all the while, still held his Scalchop in hand but didn't attack over how... bizarre this sequence of events. [Um... okay?] he repeated, figuring that this was happening now with or without proper context.

"A solid 'A+' for effort, girls," Hilda cockily commended, hoping to at least soothe Sue and Addle's rowdiness a smidge. "You actually got up pretty early in the morning this time around." The twins each blew a raspberry at her but she knew they were still a tad salty. "Now if only we could get your Speed up to snuff."

Irony struck in every sense of the word when something sprinted pasted the alienated Oshawott and made him spin on his flipper. He forgot to be dizzy in his horror upon seeing a small light-brown puppy-like Pokemon struck Hilda in the back and made her fall to the ground. Sue and Addle were flung from her hands but landed on their feet while their friend landed face first in the dirt.

[Hilda's here! Hilda's Here! Hilda's here!] the Lillipup yipped with boundless excitement all over her bushy face. [Yay! Yay! Yay!] She even bounced upon her friend's back with her tail wagging nearly at Mach 20.

"Thanks for setting an example, Lilly," Hilda greeted with her smile maintained, trying to save her grimed up face. "It's just the sort of attack Sue and Addle could learn from." She lifted up her head and spitting out dirt. "Yuck."

Sue and Addle burst out laughing over how obvious Hilda was trying to play it cool. Oshawott once again felt like he was given a joke's punchline without any set-up.

[I think she's had enough, Lilly!] a bigger dog Pokemon called out in concern while rushing on past the Sea Otter Pokemon. [What did we talk about pouncing into humans?] The Herdier picked up his little sister by the nape of her neck off of Hilda, holding her beneath what looked like his mustache.

[Aw, Harry!] Lilly whined to her older brother, dropping to the ground with a pout. [I held back!]

[Your holding back doesn't amount to much,] Harry scolded, speaking from personal experience.

Hilda got back up to kneel and break up the canine siblings with an affectionate pet to their heads. "It's very nice to see you two still getting on swimmingly," she joked, trying to ignore her back pain. "Bring it in, doggos." Thankfully, her furry friends smiled back and jumped up to give the better kind of licking.

Oshawott felt relieved when it seemed like the Lillipup and Herdier meant no harm but still felt weird about it all. Hilda letting Pokemon attack her was bizarre enough but that they were her friends and almost enough here to fill up her team. The Sea Otter Pokemon could only hope that this was the last shock his tiny heart would have to take.

A very audible snap of a tree branch sadly proved him wrong as it put him and everyone else on alert. It was so audible that they could tell that somebody wanted them to hear.

"Somebody's saving the best for last, aren't they?" Hilda quipped with a smirk while standing up, eying the trees around her intently. "I thought this soup was lacking a certain spice."

[We swore not the spoil it but...] Sue began, speaking as eager as ever.

[...you're in for a real spanking, Hilda!] Addle finished, sniggering sinisterly with her sister.

A brown rodent of an unusual size with yellow stripes rushed out of the bushes from right behind Hilda and pounced in an attempt to tackle her to the ground. However, the Trainer turns around and managed to grab the Watchog by his fore-arms. Her shoes dig into the dirt while standing her ground against her opponent's raw strength.

[Hilda!] Oshawott cried out. This time, the Sea Otter Pokemon couldn't standby and rushed in while drawing his Scalchop. However, the Sewaddle twins quickly popped up in his way and made him pump the brakes.

[I have to help her!] Oshawott insisted. He tried to go past them but they moved right in front of him every single time.

[You'd need help if you just dove in, new guy,] Sue told Oshawott staunchly. [Believe us, we tried.]

[This ain't Hilda's first rodeo either,] Addle added, pushing the Sea Otter Pokemon back a few feet. [She knows how to wrangle Watcher.]

Oshawott looked up ahead with lingering concerns but soon became inclined to believe the twins. Watcher's hind paws were digging into the dirt considerably with Hilda actually taking a step forth in their Push-Pull stand-off. The Starter started to wonder if Hilda really was a Pokemon herself.

[Guard's sharp as ever,] Watcher assessed, gritting his buck-teeth to not give Hilda any ground. [Seems Trainer life ain't makin' a slacker out of ya.]

"Oh, ye of little faith," Hilda retorted sassily before giving a strong surge forward. "Allow me to reassure you." She reached down to grab Watcher by the torso and haul him up with a great groan within just a second.

Oshawott nearly forgot to breath even with his mouth agape over the sight of Hilda heaving a Watchog over her head and throwing him at a tree. Sue and Addle roar over the so-called carnage on display. Lilly yipped about hyper-actively while Harry held her in his mouth, knowing full well that she'd try to get in on the action.

Watcher managed to land on all fours after taking the hit and got up on his hind legs. "Footing's dull as ever," the Lookout Pokemon heard Hilda retort and looked up to see the triumphant look on her face. "Never account for the soil, do you?" She stuck out her butt to smack it tauntingly and looked back to blow a raspberry like she was still ten all over again.

[That's it...] Watcher sneered back, looking almost too calm about his trouncing. [Keep tootin' yer horn, big shot...] His super sharp eyes spotted something bouncing along the branches light enough for Hilda to overlook.

[Get 'er, Pat!] the Lookout Pokemon cried when he saw the pieces fall into place.

Hilda stopped her teasing just when a smaller, light-brown rodent made a free fall dive from directly above her. He grabbed onto the back of her short with his fore-paws and buck-teeth in order to drag them down in one fell swoop.

Hilda gasped a most mortified cry over the surprise attack while trying not to trip over her pants around her knees. Patrick hanging from her pair didn't help her as she stumbled about.

None of the Pokemon present understood why a lack of clothes could ever concern a human so much. They did, however, have a good laugh over how silly Hilda looked trying to shake Patrick off and losing any composure she'd tried to maintain. Sue, Addle, Harry, Lilly and even Oshawott were giggling if not guffawing over the slapstick on display.

"Patrick!" Hilda barked back with a furious flush of red painted all over her face. "What did we discuss about artificial furs?" She tried desperately to sound in control despite trying not to trip over her shorts or fall from the Patrat hanging onto her. "Just get off before you tear it."

[Much obliged, Ma'am,] Patrick quipped cheekily before dropping off of Hilda's shorts. He landed and dart off to the side just as Watcher pounced upon his opponent.

Hilda found her embarrassment becoming full-blown humiliation when the Watchog tackled her from behind and pinned her to the ground. The soft dirt didn't hurting as much but the force knocked her for a loop or two. Enough for Watcher to exert all his strength upon her and keep her from pushing up against him.

[C'mon, Watcher!] Patrick cheered on, shadow-boxing in his excitement. [Let 'er have it.]

[You got this, Hilda!] Oshawott shouted in support, finding himself caught up in the spirit of battle.

Try as she might, Hilda could only grit her teeth and groan in trying to lift her best friend off of her. [Never counted onna double team, did ya?] she heard him gloated triumphantly into her ear. After four strenuous attempts, Hilda was left catching her breath and eating the biggest slice of humble pie.

"Okay, Watcher," she admitted with her deepest sigh, "you've finally won."

[Hot diggity daffodil!] Watcher whooped while springing up to his feet and punching the air. He could hear Sue, Addle, Harry, Lilly and Patrick joining in on his cheers to his further delight.

Hilda managed to roll onto her back while pulling up her shorts hastily to sit up. "What way to go out," she muttered in both parts embarrassment and bemusement.

[I keep telling ya,] she heard Watcher, getting her to look up. [Y'all humans get real uptight 'bout what you slap on.] There he was holding out his right fore-paw generously despite his pretty patronizing tone of voice.

"I guess next time, I should come at you stark naked," Hilda sassed back with a chortle over how ridiculous it all was at the end of the day. "Nice work making me look stupid at least." She took Watcher's paw and let him help pull her up.

[Can't take too much credit,] the Lookout Pokemon claimed humbly. [Patrick was practicin' his free-falls all night.]

The Patrat scurried up to his big brother's side. [Got ya real good, didn' I?] Patrick giggled at Hilda before he saw the stern look she cast at him. [No hard feelin's?] He twiddled his paws innocently like whenever their Ma caught their in big trouble.

Thankfully, Hilda dropped her sour act and grinned while she knelt down to ruffled Patrick's head. "After you literally caught me with my pants down?" she praised, earning a smile from the little guy. "I'd say that you're overdue to evolve with those slick moves."

[Think you could give us some pointers?] Sue eagerly pipped up, scrambling over with her twin.

[That jump was sick!] Addle praised, making Patrick blushed bashfully.

Hilda happily let the Patrat address his "fan club" when she felt Lilly's paws on her legs. [Don't worry, Hilda,] she heard Lilly sweetly speak. [I think you did great out there.] Hilda was all the more warmed to see the Lillipup wagging her tail while having jumped onto her leg.

"Well, winning isn't everything," she imparted onto Lilly, doing right by her little sister figure. "I'll just have to do better next time." She gave a good stroking to the canine cutie-pie.

[Still wish you had,] Harry chimed in, sounding rather dreadful. [Watcher is gonna be insufferable for days because of this.]

[Y'all got a problem?] Watcher retorted indignantly to his best frenemy, sticking his head down to give the evil eye. [M' bro and I'll take you to task any time, any day.]

Harry spread out his legs with a mean look cast back towards the Watchog and a growl thrown in. The circle of friends began to get pumped for another round of roughhousing, chattering amongst themselves over their favorite to win.

[Um... begging your pardon...] Oshawott spoke up for the first time in what felt like ages. [I don't mean to intrude but… um…]

The Sea Otter Pokemon felt all the more put on the spot when they all turned their eyes upon him at the same time. [Who... even are any of you?] he ventured forth regardless despite his gulp.

[Been thinkin' that m'self,] Watcher replied with an eyebrow raised. [Who's th' squirt, Hilda?]

"Oh man, I really am stupid!" Hilda berated herself with a slap to her forehead before rushing towards Oshawott. "I'm so sorry I complete forgot to introduce you to everybody." She scooped up her Starter Pokemon from the ground and hoped that her hold would comfort him. "The world really slips away when you got friends like mine."

[These really are your friends?] Oshawott exclaimed in bewilderment before looking back at the Pokemon in question. Most of them put on their best smile while Watcher had a more perturbed expression on his face.

"My very best I could ask for," Hilda happily answered. "I do have a few human friends but only a few who I hang out with regularly." She remembered how jealous Georgia would get about her being homeschooled. "Luckily, a trip to the woods cures even the worst boredom can dish out."

Oshawott was amazed by the idea that a human had a place amongst wild Pokemon but began to connect the dots. He hadn't been sure about it at first but now it seemed all too apparent. However, the Sea Otter Pokemon forgot to voice his question when he found himself lowered back to the ground.

"Everybody, meet my Starter Pokemon," Hilda asked while putting Oshawott back on the floor. "Come and introduce yourselves but try not to overwhelm him, okay?" She squat just behind him like a mother seeing off her son on the first day of school.

[P-pleasure to meet you all,] Oshawott spoke with a humble bow, trying to put on a smile.

[Pleasure's all our's, new guy!] Sue greeted back happily, scuttling towards Oshawott. [I'm Sue, the smart twin.]

[And I'm Addle,] Addle greeted, coming up on her sister's left, [the smarter twin.]

[How do I tell you two apart?] Oshawott asked in his confusion, unable to see the difference between the two.

"You don't," Hilda answered rather knowingly. "And that's just how they like it." A snigger between the Sewaddles spoke volumes for her.

[Hi, I'm Lilly,] the Lillipup yipped, trotting up to Oshawott gleefully. [You smell really nice.] The Sea Otter Pokemon jumped back a bit in caution while she rattled on excitedly. [Did you have cookies for breakfast or dinner?]

[You're... not going to tackle me, are you?] Oshawott warily asked.

[Nah, silly,] Lilly laughed. [We're not besties yet.]

"Trust me," Hilda reassured Oshawott rather cheekily, "your time will come."

[Oh... good...] the Starter Pokemon gulped anxiously.

[She doesn't mean any harm... intentionally,] Harry promised, coming up behind his little sister. [I'm Harry and the one who keeps this little gremlin in check.]

"Tries his best anyways," Hilda sassed smarmily.

Oshawott felt more at ease with his Trainer's color commentary until he turned right to find Patrick staring at him with his red-ringed eyes. [Um... Patrick, is it?] he broke the ice awkwardly. [Is there something in my teeth?]

[Just curious, s'all,] the Patrat pondered while leaning in closer. [Ain't seen no Pokem'n like you 'round these here parts or any other parts.] Oshawott leaned back in discomfort due to his shrinking personal space. [Where'd Hilda snag you from?] The Sea Otter Pokemon yelped when he fell down after leaning back too far.

"What did I say about 'overwhelming,' Patrick?" Hilda firmly reminded her furry friend before picking Oshawott back up. "Sorry about his inquiring mind, Oshawott."

[Ya won't find that critter in our wood or water, Pat,] Watcher chimed in while strolling over, sounding a touch cocksure. [Lab rats like 'im one prob' never seen the wild before.]

Oshawott couldn't help but feel like the Watchog was judging him rather harshly even if his tone was more lighthearted. He looked up to find him looming right over him and giving off a slight Snivy vibe. The kind of vibe that unsettled his stomach badly.

"What my oldest friend, Watcher, means to say," Hilda began with a fairly force friendliness in her voice, "is that Starter Pokemon are a rare thing in the wild." She cast a very firm glare with her eyes alone at the Lookout Pokemon over Oshawott. "He's concerned if you'll be able to adjust as all." Watcher's gulp wasn't nearly subtle as he'd hoped. "Right, old buddy, old pal?"

[Yeah, just lookin' out for the new guy,] the Watchog hastily claimed with an uneasy smile, bending down to Oshawott's level. [Stick with me and I'll show ya the ropes, squirt.] He could hear his friends snickering over how Hilda had him by the ear without touching.

[O...okay,] Oshawott replied with a more comforted look on his face.

The Sea Otter Pokemon could tell that Hilda had a hand in his course correction but knew that they all meant well. In fact... Hilda had seemed to know exactly what her friends were saying and how to response now that he thought about it. It was one thing when it was mainly him and her but now...

[Hilda... can you talk to Pokemon?] Oshawott ventured forth, hoping that he didn't sound dumb just then.

His Trainer and her friends collectively cast their eyes towards him with a rather blank if concerned stare. The Sea Otter Pokemon gulped in fear that he might've tripped on a landmine or however the humans tended to phrase it. Either way, it felt awkward for about four seconds thankfully.

[Seriously, Hilda?] Sue began incredulously.

[You didn't tell him?] Addle backed her sister up.

"I thought he'd caught on," Hilda said defensively. "I mean... you never brought it up, Oshawott."

[I thought you just pretending or going off by my mood,] her Starter claimed in his own defense. [I don't know if you noticed but most humans can't understand us.]

[Well, Hilda ain't whatcha call "most humans," squirt,] Watcher chimed in, folding his arms to look like the big guy on campus. [Any cry or yelp we make comes out as human speak in that sharp noodle of her's.]

[That's amazing,] Oshawott exclaimed with growing excitement, looking back at his Trainer. [Did Professor Juniper teach you this?] He would've wagged his tail if he were Lilly right now.

"Auntie Aurea wishes she was that good of a Professor," Hilda laughed with a snort. "This is a secret gift that's been in my family for generations." Her expression softened up subtly. "My mother shared it with me and made it clear that neither people nor Pokemon shouldn't know about it so easily."

[Your mother?] Oshawott mentioned curiously, remembering something else he meant to ask. [Come to think of it, I've never seen her back at the house.] He did remember a picture in Hilda's room of an older woman with brown hair. [Will I meet her soon?]

Oshawott looked up at his Trainer with eagerness in her eyes before finding her smile falling slowly. In its place was an reserved expression of what seemed like sorrow. He looked around and found that her friend had similar somber expression on their faces. Even Lilly and Patrick appeared more subdued than they ought to have been.

Oshawott gulped hard. This time he knew that he brought up something that he really shouldn't had. That is until he saw Hilda putting on a smile, one that still seemed melancholy to say the least.

"How about right now?" she suggested warmly.

Without a clear path, Hilda chose to have Oshawott hold onto the back of her ponytail and run deeper into the woods. The Sea Otter Pokemon didn't know how but he found it somehow far more frightful than the bicycle could ever hope to be. She was hopping over those bushes and sliding down that embankment, following signs that she seemed to know by heart.

Her friends were easily keeping pace as Oshawott could see around them. To their right, both Watcher and Patrick leaned down to still run fast on his hind legs but only to stay close to Hilda. To the left, Harry was scurrying along with a tail-wagging Lilly on his black coated back due to her tendency to dash off recklessly.

Up above, Oshawott could see Sew and Addle shooting String Shot after String Shot to swing above them on the trees. He could hear them cheering and jeering like they were some kind of superhero duo. The way that they stuck to the trees with their feet alone still fascinated him.

After what seemed like a while, Oshawott could see the trees becoming less dense up ahead and even make out a road up in the distance. However, his attention was more drawn to a rather wide tree just ahead of them.

Hilda began to slow to a walk just in front of the tree in question before finally stopping within ten feet of it. She caught her her breath as quick as she could while leaning on her knees and let her friend gather all around her.

Oshawott was about to ask where they were before Hilda reached up and lifted him off of her ponytail silently. Once he was placed on the ground, he looked up to find that the frown on his Trainer's face had only become more melancholy. The Sea Otter Pokemon didn't understand why but was wise enough to maybe wait and see.

[Need a few one-on-one?] Watcher asked Hilda, sounding a lot more reserved.

Oshawott looked around to see that none of their previous energy was on display. Lilly surprisingly was looking rather depressed as well.

"Thank you," Hilda replied in a near whisper before walking up towards the tree.

Now that Oshawott had time to focus, he could see that on the tree's shadowed side was a picture in a frame hung on the bark. Around it were a variety of flowers and in it was the photograph of a familiar woman. The same brown-haired woman who almost resembled Hilda down to their eyes and was in a similar photo hung on her bedroom wall. The same woman that he had seen no sign of.

Oshawott's face fell further once said picture became clearer and clearer much to his dismay.

Hilda wiped her wet eyes and steadied her breathing once she can within three feet of the tree. Despite her raw state, she still managed to take in a deep breath slowly and exhale just as long. Her warm smile returned to her face as she looked at the picture of the woman properly.

"Hi, Mom."

To Be Continued...

Thank you for reading my fanfiction thus far.

Write up a comment or a full blown review about what you liked or loathed about my work. I can roll with the punches so let me have it.


Well-Known Member
Chapter 5: Little White (& Blue) Lies

Helga smiled back.

"I know, I know," Hilda sighed wearily, holding up her hands in defense. "I haven't exactly been around lately but getting the written test down was a pain and a half." She whistled from just remembering how she nearly cramped her hand.

Helga smiled back.

"Oooo, should've led with that," Hilda swore lightly with a chuckle. "Guess who not only became a Trainer but also had their first official battle yesterday?" She pause for dramatic effect. "Here's a hint: her name rhymes with Gilda."

Helga smiled back. Hilda swallowed a bit dryly.

"And I know it was getting ahead of myself but I just had to take on Auntie Aurea," she insisted with a bit more pep. "You don't just get adopted by Unova's lead researchers in Pokemon and not challenge at least one of them." Her smile simmered down despite her best efforts. "Don't worry, I'll wear down Grandpa Cedric eventually."

Helga smiled back.

"You would've loved it," Hilda replied more softly. "Auntie Aurea delivered when she promised she wouldn't hold back." She did well to keep up her energy. "Not with Minnie on her side at least."

Helga smiled back while Hilda rambled on about her battle, playing up how epic it had been in areas. Behind her, all six of her woodland companions and her Starter Pokemon respectfully kept to themselves in silence. They knew that Hilda's mother couldn't speak back but none of that matters at the moment.

At last, Oshawott broke his silence in what he hoped was a low enough voice. [How long has she been... gone?] he asked, too curious not to know.

[Touch over seven years,] Watcher replied softly. [She and her Ma were ridin' on Route 1 to settle on in Nuvema when... something bad.] He sighed deeply remembering the day. [Harry n' I heard the crash from far off... before the explosion.]

Oshawott felt his heart sink at the thought of it. He glanced over to find that Lilly and Patrick hung their heads with a few tears themselves.

[We often ran towards danger and thought it was just another adventure for us,] Harry carried on somberly, traveling down the rocky memory lane. [It was... but not what we expected.] He could see Hilda up ahead really getting into talking to her mother, feeling mixed at best.

[A terrified li'l girl rushed on by like a Gigalith was on her heels,] Watcher continued, remember the look in Hilda's distraught eyes. [Poor thing was lost, alone and plum fit t' burst with tears.] Some of it was still in those blue eyes today. [Couldn' bring ourselves to leave 'er high n' dry suffice to say.]

Oshawott looked back at Hilda and found her exuberance a far cry from what they were telling her. An bundle of unbridled joy like her? Brought to tears? Yet it wasn't something alien to himself.

[It must've been so awful,] Oshawott whispered in sympathy.

[Not all of it,] Harry replied, starting to perk up a tad. [The adults were suspicious of her powers but Watcher and I helped her survive in the wild.] He snickered ever so slightly. [We did try to get her to town but... well...]

[Let's jus' say we hadn' quite sussed out left from right at that age,] Watcher chortled with a bashful blush. [Humans could write them book all 'bout our li'l capers.]

[Mom had to pick up the slack from what she told us,] Sue chimed in, having listened up until now.

[She even dressed Hilda up when her clothes started to stink,] Addle giggled, only going off of imagination.

[Made for some darn good camo,] Watcher admitted. [Took a while to figure out human sizes tho'.]

[Speaking o' Ma,] Patrick whispered to Oshawott with a giggle. [I heard mine blew a gasket when Watcher "brought home a stray."]

Oshawott could imagine more than a few of these misadventures with what he knew of Hilda as it was. He couldn't help but smile for what it was worth.

[It was worth it to see her in high spirits back then,] Harry confessed before his smile fell slightly. [I mean... while it lasted...]

Oshawott dropped his smile, sensing the pin's inevitable drop. [What could've happened next?]

[We foun' the Professor after what seemed like two weeks or so,] Watcher began wearily. [At first, Hilda and her were over the moon to finally meet until... Aurea broke the news.] He took a moment to sigh over the sobering memory.

[Hilda told us all sorts about her mother when it was just us three,] Harry added, trying to keep it together. [She had the biggest grin whenever she hyped her up as this Champion who could do just about everything.] He could only sigh what came next. [She swore her mom was coming for her.]

Oshawott could hear his sorrow reflected in Patrick and Lilly's whimpers behind him. Even Sue and Addle returned to their solemn mourning. All for somebody they'd never met yet somehow knew. The Sea Otter Pokemon grew curious about this until...

"Oshawott, over here!" Hilda called all of a sudden. "Come say hello!"

Oshawott was pulled out of his sadness with this surprise and just stood there stunned for a few seconds. "Oh... coming!" he called out before hurrying forward as fast as he could.

Behind him, Hilda's friends exchanged glances in their own curiosity. They knew she tended to talk to her mother one-on-one and rarely invited them unless they asked first.

Oshawott came along Hilda's left side and stopped about three feet or so from the enshrined tree. He got a closer look at the picture of Helga and found the kindness in her smile not too far off from his Trainer's. The Sea Otter Pokemon even felt a bit of warmth in his heart just look at it, especially when it was surrounded by such lovely flowers. Now the resemblance truly was unmistakable.

"Here he is, Mom," Hilda began happily, kneeling down to Oshawott's level. "The best Starter a girl could ask for." She gave an encouraging pat on his back.

[Um... hello...] Oshawott meekly greeted with a bow. [Helga, was it?] It was his first time paying respects to the departed so he could only hope he was doing right by his Trainer. [I've heard great things about you.]

Oshawott looked at Helga's picture and somehow could imagine her picking him up for a hug herself. It was enough to get him to push his anxiousness to the side with a deep breath and put on his best smile.

[Your daughter has been nothing but wonderful for me,] Oshawott carried on happily, trying his best to sound as bold as Hilda could. [I intend to return the favor by doing right by her.] He even put his paws to his hips to look tall and proud. [Within a month, Hilda will be a Champion just like you if not in a week with me.]

Hilda felt touched and endeared by Oshawott's vows before taking her turn to speak again. "You would have loved him to bits," she told her mother in a softer tone of voice. "It's only been less than a day yet it feels like we've been friends for ages."

Oshawott peered upwards upon hearing Hilda so unusually vulnerable. He could make out some faint tears in her eyes and didn't feel like grandstanding too much now.

"This might be the last time I speak to you for a while now," Hilda carried on to her mother, her smile slightly fading. "Next time... it'll be as Unova's Champion." She wiped her tears however dry she could. "That's a promise."

The atmosphere around them was dead silent with only a slight breeze rustling the leaves above them ever so gently. Watcher, Harry, Lilly, Patrick, Sue and Addle stayed respectfully at a distance. Hilda and Oshawott gave their thoughts to Helga's spirit in this moment of silence. Right up until the moment a stomach groaned out like a beached Wailmer.

Oshawott went red in face with an embarrassed wail. [Oh my...] he gasped, feeling his belly aching for breakfast. [I-I didn't mean to...]

However, it was soon Hilda's turn to blush furiously when her stomach growled even louder. Loud enough for her friends to jump and dart around, looking for the Stoutland muscling in on their turf.

"Can't make good on our word without a proper breakfast, huh?" Hilda sheepishly chuckled, sharing a wry smile with Oshawott.

[The thought had crossed my mind,] the Sea Otter Pokemon claimed, his sentiments exact. He couldn't help but glance back up at Helga and remember Hilda vowing to become Champion in her honor.

Oshawott swallowed hard and remembered his own vow. [Me and my big mouth...] he whimpered anxiously, knowing he would break his promise one way or another.

All the while, Hilda was too busy taking out her Personal Computer and aimed the camera to square in on the grass just in front of her friends. She went into her Inventory to select multiple items for a massive materialization, eager to make a big surprise.

"Soup's on, everybody," Hilda gleefully declared before tapping "Select."

Uptown Nuvema found itself in a surprisingly tepid atmosphere overall. The news of Hilda making Trainer had spread but for most, it just felt like any other day. People walked up and down the sidewalk to their favorite shops but many still expected something to at least explode like yesterday. Not that Sean or Chris were complaining.

Damien and Linda Aryes were in the middle of the street when the screeching of tires nearly overloaded their heading aids. They winced just in time for a black van to swing around the corner and just barely miss them. Damien held onto his toupee while he and his wife saw the vehicle barrel down the road like it was Skyarrow Bridge.

"Cedric..." was the only thing that the couple could sigh, nodding to themselves. Everyone else around them knew only one family in town had that reckless style of driving.

"So we run like mad the second we realized," Cedric Juniper happily rambled on, listening to the GPS's dubious directions. "I would've thrown out my back if not for the adrenaline, let me tell you." He laughed while turning left so sharply that the van borderline tilted.

"By the time we got there, what did we find?" Cedric asked rhetorically while the vehicle bounced back onto the road. "Little Hilda playing on that grump of Haxorus like she was on a Jungle Gym." He sighed heartily over such a prized memory while narrowly squeezing through a yellow light. "Turns out the big girl was an empty nester and that our girl's company just what the doctor ordered."

Bright Alans groaned from the gut right behind Cedric. "I'm gonna need a doctor if you don't slow down," he bellyached, grabbing his unkempt brown hair.

"Aim out the window, green gills," Vanessa Alexanders abrasively warned, kicking Bright's seat from behind. "This suits are way over our pay grade." Truthfully, she felt like the G-force was about to make her pass out but wouldn't let it show.

"Ah, buck up, youngsters," Cedric chortled, earning an irate horn-honking and his third "Watch where yo' goin', ya fool!" today. "If you think I'm a demon with wheels, you should see my daughter."

"What my associate mean to say," Bianca Whitley chimed in, trying to sound as cordial as she could, "is that this may reflect poorly on this inspection." The blonde did her utmost to lean away from the ghastly looking Bright to her left.

"Huh," Cedric said thoughtfully. "Put it like that..."

Almost immediately, the car went from drag racing to crawling like slow molasses. It was so smooth that none of the inspectors even registered their change in speed until the color returned to Bright's face. Nonetheless, they collectively sigh in the utmost relief.

"Now where was I?" Cedric pondered, trying to remember his story. "I told you how we thought Hilda had been swallowed alive by that Haxorus, right?"

"Yes," Cheren Blake sighed, readjusting his glasses after the wild ride, "and the one where Hilda allegedly rode on a Zebstrika threw town." He made sure that his fellow suits could see sunlight glint off of his specs twice.

"Well, only because the racer was so hard on the poor thing," Cedric reminded the inspector. "Call her reckless but that fire cracker of mine doesn't take injustice lying down."

"I wouldn't exactly call that a good thing," Cheren chided with an almost knowing tone, bringing up papers to write on. "As her guardian, safety should be priority number one."

"Ha!" Cedric laughed. "You sound just like my daughter."

While Cheren kept the Professor talking, Bianca cautiously reached underneath her blonde bang and turned on an com in her right ear. Her expression became less soft and more serious as she focused on keeping her voice discrete. Bright and Vanessa shared the same look next to her.

"How's the set-up looking, Simon?" Bianca asked, making sure Cedric didn't so much as glance back.

"The Warden didn't notice our modifications if that's what you mean," Simon Allison replied over the com-link. "Just a couple of kid geniuses working on a summer science project."

"You'll have plenty of time at this rate," Vanessa added, seeing a Youngster on bicycle ride by.

"Good!" Sammy Allison groaned loudly, making her colleagues wince deeply. "Some of us need rest after recalibrating the coding alone last night!"

"Did you... hear something just now?" Cedric asked innocuously.

"Hey!" Cheren chimed in, trying way too hard to change the subject. "About those baby pictures..." He took a second to look back at his colleagues and made a fearful looking cut-throat gesture for them.

"Just set your alarm for one sharp," Bianca quietly yet anxiously insisted. "Remember that this isn't a standard hit-and-run." She swallowed in her attempt to sound at least somewhat commanding. "You can be sure his Majesty will take interest in our first full scaled operation."

Watcher nearly spat out his red cabbage when he couldn't keep his laughing fit at bay. [Still fallin' for her poor li'l meow meow act, are ya?] he snidely sniggered.

[In my defense, Purrloin really did get pecked by those Tranquill,] Harry barked back in protest, still chewing on a store-bought bone.

[Only 'cause she tried helpin' herself to their gatherings,] Watcher retorted. [Without permission obviously.]

[Excuse me for looking out for my fellow Pokemon,] Harry defensively claimed, [...that leave me to face the whole angry flock.]

"Well, I think you were kind to not just turn away," Hilda warmly promised while scratching her furry friend behind the ear. "Just be more skeptical with that darn cat."

She let her bare legs sprawl across the pink picnic blanket with her vest, hat and shoes stored in her P.C. "And hey, if she crashed the party and you know she can't resist, I'll help you pay her out." Hilda helped herself to some more Buttered and French Toast that she let Harry take a big bite out of.

Eating his second bread-stick, Oshawott sat to his Trainer far left while seeing her yuck it up with Watcher and Harry. All of Hilda's friends had spread across the picnic blanket once it had appeared. Particularly when a whole host of food that she'd been saving up for this occasion came with it. However, the Sea Otter Pokemon quickly felt awkward when they paired off to enjoy all the new food and chat it up amongst themselves.

Not that Oshawott fully minded. He didn't know how to chip the ice let alone break it. In any event, it was rather interesting to really see this side of Hilda. How she just vibed with the Pokemon in the forest not as their Trainer but as their friend. His eyes also drifted to Sue and Addle just to Watcher's left. They were munching down on rare leaves that Hilda got from Cedric on his research travels.

[Pidove's really missing out,] Sue claimed cheerfully with her mouth full of leaves saved from autumn. [Don't tell me he forgot today was the day.]

[Cut him some slack,] Addle replied with a bit of spittle spewing. [He's all the way up north.] She crunched down on some cold winter leaves. [Way too easy to get turned around after a while.]

[Man, he promised that we'd see if our string could beat his wings,] Sue whined, pouting even while scarfing down some chopped lettuce. [Feathery flaker...]

[Ah, you know we'd leave him in the dust,] Addle claimed, trying to soothe her sister's feelings. [Momma didn't raise no heart-breaker.]

Oshawott sipped from his milk carton while enjoying their rowdy banter. Wild Pokemon were such a fascinating far cry from the Pokemon that he'd met in the laboratory. They had no humans to bustle them around in a single building and could practically do what they wanted. The air also smelled consistently fresh compared to how regulated the temperature the laboratory could be.

Oshawott smiled in his growing peace and contentment when a gentle breeze blew his way. The whole forest around him felt so free. Free from bullies like Snivy or expectations from any Trainer whatsoever. The Sea Otter Pokemon could see why Hilda considered this a second home. He wouldn't have minded living here with her.

[You really do smell nice,] Lilly spoke up. [A bit too nice.]

Oshawott nearly spilled his milk when he jumped and turned around to find the Lillipup sniffing him all over. Her eyes were closed to focus her nose in on the Sea Otter Pokemon alone. He could see her furry face was caked with the masked potatoes she'd been previously going to town on.

[Can I... help you?] Oshawott ventured forth awkwardly.

[Don' mind her none,] Patrick assured, coming up from the right while gorging on a large cucumber. [Harry's been teachin' her to sus out distinct scents.]

[I've never smelled a Pokemon from the lab before,] Lilly discerned with excited curiosity. [Your scent's so... clean.] She started licking Oshawott's furry belly much to his embarrassment. [Taste's clean too.]

[I hope I do,] the Sea Otter Pokemon claimed backing away a bit from whatever Lilly was doing. [Minnie was prudent about getting behind the ears.] He made a little chuckle if only to seem less of a dork.

"Lilly," Hilda called out sternly from just behind Oshawott. "Try to take it easy on him."

[We talked about personal space,] Harry chimed in firmly, playing the junior parent on the fly.

[Sorry...] Lilly whimpered with slight pout.

[It's fine, really,] Oshawott hastily promised, not wanting to seem like a bother. [Inquiring minds want to know.]

[Well, we wanna know what's it like in a lab,] Sue chimed in, waddling over while snacking on two leaves. [Hilda barely tells us squat.]

[Is it true they prob your butt for cavities?] Addle asked without a shred of irony. [That's gotta hurt.]

Oshawott cocked his head in confusion while Watcher and Harry nearly double over in laughter. Hilda goes red in the face and tried to look the other way, audibly slurping up her soda. She knew she should've kept the suppository incident to herself.

[I don't know about my butt...] Oshawott earnestly answered, the absurdity lost on him, [but we do get medical check-ups just about every weekend.] He did gulp at a particularly unpleasant memory while eating more of his breadstick. [They're good for keeping us healthy but... I don't care much for shots.]

"Wow, we really were made for each other," Hilda chortled, scooching up the blanket. "We can take them together if it helps." She picked up Oshawott to let her sit between her legs and saw him smile more in comfort.

[I would like that,] Oshawott replied with a bit less stiffness.

[No Pokemon in the wild get shots or some quack to keep us right as rain,] Watcher questioned in an annoyed tone of voice. [All we need's fresh air and fresher berries out here unlike a certain squirt here.] Secretly, he was annoyed that Oshawott stole Hilda away from him but he wasn't about to own up to it.

[We get berries there,] the Sea Otter Pokemon replied defensively. [Well... they baked into those brown bits.] He realized that he was fumbling the ball way too fast. [The Professor's a real stickler for our diets.]

[Oh boy,] Sue muttered mischievously to her sister.

[Here comes trouble,] Addle replied in agreement, eager for sparks to fly.

"Alright, Mr. Au-Naturale," his best friend snarked back, hoping to humble her stubborn friend. "That'll save me money on Potions at least." She didn't notice Oshawott's more concerned expression below here shifting to a slight frown.

[Well... glad to lend a paw,] Watcher pouted in trying to get the last cry in, folding his arm.

[Don' mind him none,] Patrick encouraged Oshawott in a low voice. [My brother don't care too much for Trainers.] He couldn't help but slightly blush in embarrassment. [I wanna know more if yer willin'.]

[Yeyeyeyeyeah,] Lilly chimed in hyper-actively. [Hilda says you get to roam around freely in the laboratory.] She hurried up to Oshawott with her tail-wagging, making him step back out of unease. [How good are you at tag? Huhuhuhuhuh?]

Oshawott felt better when Harry lifted his little sister away by the scruff on her neck. [Miss Aurea wouldn't allow Starters without a human to keep an eye on us,] he admitted sheepishly. [She especially had us avoid any evolved Pokemon in the halls.]

"And for good reason," Hilda laughed with exasperation. "The Simi trio there get really intense about Dodge Ball." Her tone of voice sounded way too embarrassed. "Don't even get me started on hide and seek with the Amoongus."

[I'd often race with Snivy and Tepig when our speed and response times were tested,] Oshawott carried on. [We'd even do freeze tag to see how quickly we can stop on command or on our own.] He omitted details such as Snivy tripping him so he wouldn't "push his limits" or her also utilizing Vine Whip to tag him very forcefully.

[Didn' ya even tussle once?] Watcher exclaimed in disgruntlement, crawling across the food to Hilda's right. [Yeesh, trust humans to be coddling.] He rudely grabbed a breadstick to eat with his mouth open.

"Weird because I remember a Patrat needing a little girl to pry him out of a log," Hilda sassed back. "Whined for an hour until she got his big butt out of there." She even stuck out her tongue like she was seven years old again.

Watcher went red in the face while their friends let out a collective, "Oooooooooooo," over the shade of it all. Oshawott giggled a little but tried not to poke the Beartic going by the Lookout Pokemon's growing frown.

[Mah point's yer li'l lab rat wouldn' cut it in these here parts,] Watcher retorted, starting to get more than a little heated about this. [Ain't no human's gonna hold yer paw when a Galvantula's tries to make brunch outta ya.] He aimed his glare down at Oshawott a bit more directly. [One zap and you'd cry home for yer Professor, assumin' you last that long.]

"Watch your step, Wa-" Hilda was about to say, her own glare growing over the professor bit. She found herself interrupted when she felt Oshawott jumping over her leg and looked down. There was the Sea Otter Pokemon with his own frown while marching up towards Watcher.

[It's funny you should mention Galvantula,] Oshawott began firmly, standing up straight to assert himself. [Professor Juniper had us battle at a type-disadvantage just last week and put me up against a Joltik.] The Sea Otter Pokemon knew that he had to make sure that he didn't look weak in front of Hilda but also wanted to stick up for Tepig too.

[Oh, what?] Watcher spat while getting down on all fours, sneering Oshawott straight in the eye. [Ya stepped on him with yer flat foot, squirt?] His nose was an inch away from the Sea Otter Pokemon's firm frown.

"Guys, please..." Hilda muttered in concern. She knew Watcher could get too worked up in his opinionated state and feared Oshawott would get in over his head.

Glancing over, Hilda saw her other friends viewing the stand-off with concerned looks of their own. They were keeping their distance lest a spark set them ablaze. This was far from the going-away picnic she envisioned.

[I wouldn't say stepped so much as, let's say...] Oshawott began, his frown rising into a smirk, [...cut him down to size.] He swiped the Scalchop off of his belly and immediately formed his Shell Blade while whipping it out towards Watcher.

The Lookout Pokemon cried out in alarm and jumped back before the sword could cut him. Before Watcher knew it, he felt his left hind paw step on a vanilla cupcake and slip backwards. The Watchog fell flat on his back and felt two cream pies Hilda had brought out get into his fur beneath him.

Lilly and Patrick were the first to burst out laughing over such silly slapstick. Sue and Addle followed suit before Harry could hardly contain himself. Hilda didn't laugh but grinned over how Oshawott showed up Watcher all on his own.

The Sea Otter Pokemon in question found the laughter surprisingly welcome. Oshawott's confidence expression faltered for a second before rising back up when he realized that they were laughing with him, not at him. Suffice to say, he couldn't help but milk it.

[Just like that in fact,] Oshawott carried on, recounting his battle while Watcher was getting back up. [He talked a good fight but my quick draw made him lose composure.] He even twirled his Scalchop on his right paw to make himself look casual about it, retracting the blade for safety. [One Water Gun later and, well, this itsy bitsy Joltik wasn't going up the spout again anytime soon.]

The Sea Otter Pokemon had taken the liberty to omit the fact that this was on the seventh try in facing the least experienced Joltik. Even then, he had Aurea directing him to sharpen his reflexes.

[Wow, Oshawott,] Patrick exclaimed, coming up to the Starter's side. [That's some gumption right there.] His buttering-up earned him a light blush and a wry smile.

[I oughta try that fake-out in practice,] Sue chimed in, hyping up Oshawott.

[Not if I get you first, slowpoke,] Addle bantered back competitively.

[I wanna sword, Harry,] Lilly panted excited.

[Uh... maybe when you're a Stoutland?] Harry gulped uneasily, unsettled by the concept alone.

Hilda could easily tell that Oshawott embellished a few details but was keen to let him have this if only at Watcher's expense. Especially when the Lookout Pokemon was looking mighty peeved while trying to get all the pie crust and cream out of his fur.

[Well, ain't you the cream of the crop now?] Watcher snidely spoke up, licking his back with considerable flexibility. [Us wild ones don't got the luxury of choosing our battles, especially when food's on the line.] The pie was delicious for what it was worth but not enough to improve on his mood.

[Well, some of us here are more stubborn than others,] Harry sassed back at Watcher. He winced when he got a bit of pie flick in his face but couldn't complain.

[Ah had to rumble with ten Pokemon 'fore breakfast yesterday,] Watcher carried on, getting down on all fours once more. [Ya don't wanna get me started on brunch, boy.] He made a particular point of giving Oshawott a mean look from his right eye, hmmmming intensely.

[Only ten?] the Sea Otter Pokemon replied with a curious tone of voice, hardly looking fazed by Watcher. [For me, twenty's just a warm-up before breakfast.] The Watchog's incredulous reaction was priceless while held straightened his posture to talk the talk. [Sometime I hope for thirty to work up my appetite.]

[Oh what?] Watcher retorted, trying not to give ground this time. [More baby Joltik?]

[Oh, I moved onto Grass-types just last week,] Oshawott answered matter-of-factly, pretending to ponder. [A few Pansages, a touch of Petilil and even some Maractus.] He wasn't lying about having faced them but was exaggerating how many of them he managed to touch let alone defeat.

[Heh, but no Sewaddles I bet,] Sue whispered to Addle, exchanging devious looks with her sister.

[R-right...] Watcher retorted, trying not to look intimidated. [And I took on the Champion just last week.] Oshawott's nonchalant demeanor was started to make him figuratively sweat ever so slightly. The way everybody else was "Ooooo"ing and "Ah"ing made the Lookout Pokemon feel like old news.

[I bet he could take on your mom and live,] Lilly whispered to Patrick, her tag still wagging.

[Y'know he jus' might...] the Patrat considered.

"Come to think of it," Hilda began with a sly raise of her left eyebrow, "the Junipers said the most wins a Starter got before leaving was about two hundred." She exchanged a quick wink with her Starter to let her know that she was in on it. "Been meaning to ask what your record was, Oshawott."

[Hmmmm... I wanna say three hundred or... four hundred?] the Sea Otter Pokemon pondered, pretending to be deep in thought. [I could never count that high but I think heard four hundred and one from Mr. Cedric.] He threw in a smile and a casual shrug to make it seem like it was no big deal, earning a very indignant scoff from Watcher.

"Then that makes Minnie four hundred and two," Hilda gleefully praised, picking Oshawott up with both hands. "You and me are going places, kid." The Sea Otter Pokemon smiled when she hugged him upon her chest with both arms crossed.

[Ooo, ooo, ooo,] Lilly yipped, wagging her tail while jumping onto Hilda's thigh. [Can I be four-hundred and- and- um-] She pouted when her counting skills failed her. [Can I battle you next?]

[Hey, I wanna tussle first,] Patrick whined indignantly.

[Um... right now?] Oshawott asked with slight anxiousness and a subtle gulp. Not nearly subtle for Watcher to pick up on.

[Yeeeeeeah,] the Watchog declared with a bit of slyness while rising back up. [Y'all been flappin' yer gums about how much offa hot shot ya are, hot shot.] He leaned forth to give him the eye yet again. [Got the skills t' pay the bills, buddy-boy?]

"That's far enough, Watcher," Hilda firmly replied, shoving a pair of berries in the Watchog's mouth to shut him up. "Oshawott doesn't have to battle if he doesn't want to." She didn't appreciate her oldest friend feeling jealous but was more concerned about her Starter getting in over his head.

Oshawott squirmed and worried that the jig was up but tried to hide his fear. [No no, of course, I can pay the bills,] he replied hastily with a more assertive look in his eye and a raised right paw. He paused before looking back up at his Trainer with a more confused expression. [Hey, what are bills?]

"He's challenging you to a battle to see if you live up to the hype," Hilda clarified, casting an annoyed look at Watcher. "Personally, I'd rather if you saved your strength for the inspection."

[Inquirin' minds wanna know,] the Watchog taunted with a sneer after swallowing his impromptu snack. [I'm waitin', squirt.]

Oshawott did well to keep up his facade but couldn't push back the growing fear in his heart. Watcher caught him in the hole he dug himself into and was keen to bury him alive at a second's notice. The Sea Otter Pokemon was glad that Hilda was covering for him yet... didn't. Bad memories of Snivy came to mind at the notion of letting Watcher think he was all talk.

[Why do you get to go first?] Sue pouted with a whine.

[We called dibs... just now!] Addle added in a fussy tone of voice.

"What did I just say?" Hilda retorted sternly, shoving more leaves into each of their mouths. "This was suppose to be a relaxing picnic in the sun, not some tournament."

[Why not both?] Oshawott suggested with his devil-may-care grin. [I stuffed my face plenty so I got plenty of gas in the tank.] He slipped out of Hilda's hold and jumped down onto the picnic blanket like a high diver, standing up straight to look confident. [Whatever that means...]

"Well..." Hilda began before seeing how eager Oshawott's grin looked with his brows knit. "A warm-up before the inspector would help our odds." A grin of her own grew on her face at the thought of throwing down with her pals as a Trainer. "It wouldn't hurt to spice up this send-off just a pinch." She shared a nod of affirmation with Oshawott and started have a better feeling about this.

Lilly, Patrick, Sue and Addle erupted into cheers while Harry cast a suspicious eye at Watcher, having observed the Lookout Pokemon quietly. He trotted over to his oldest friend while Hilda was working out how the battles would play out and caught a look of his toothy sneer.

[Alright, what's the scheme this time?] Harry gruffly demanded from Watcher under his breath. [I've known those eyes for too long.]

[The squirt's lyin' like a rug and takin' Hilda for a fool,] the Watchog whispered back indignantly, bending back down onto all fours. [I'm doin' 'er a favor by exposin' him for the fraud he is.]

[So he's throwing his weight around?] Harry countered, recognizing jealously when he heard it. [You don't have to take out losing Hilda on him.]

Watcher scoffed at that last part, knowing that the Herdier was trying to get inside his head. [Watch me...] he vowed while rising up to give another glare at Oshawott hyping himself up to the little ones around him.

"As they say in Paldea," Cedric cheered while walking towards the entrance to his laboratory, "mi casa es su casa." He quickly got out his keys and locked the van up on the curb just behind them.

The four inspectors followed behind with Bright speaking for all of them with a bewildered whistle.

"That's no lab," he quipped. "It's a veritable space center."

Looking from the left to the right, the four of them found that the three story building's width alone promised multiple rooms dedicated to Pokemon 24/7. Some of them felt a tad anxious and exchanged expressions of such now that it really was go time. It felt like their assignment had just gotten more complicated.

"You guys did work out our exit strategy... right?" Vanessa whispered, paying that Cedric's hearing was going.

"I'm sure the twins will guide us if we get turned around," Bianca quietly spoke back with anxiety in her voice. "All else fails, we smash through any windows... not reinforced."

"Not exactly the Mom n' Pop lab it use to be," Cedric admitted with a bashful chuckle. "Governor Zinzolin was awfully generous with his funds, let me tell you." They all passed underneath the portico and neared the doors.

"The exterior does give a good impression," Cheren remarked, putting on a professional sounding tone of voice. "But you can't judge a book by its cover." He allowed Cedric to slide his card to let the double door slide open.

It was only two second after entering when they heard a desperate female voice urge them to, "CLOSETHEDOORCLOSETHEDOORCLOSETHEDOOR!" Cedric and the Inspectors looked up to find Aurea scrambling around the lobby's couches after a pair of Stunfisk flopping about.

The Professor was taking out Poke Ball after Poke Ball from a bag, looking for two to recall the troublesome pair. Her hair had gone from a classic beehive to standing straight on end like she was about to engage in martial arts with evil aliens.

That alone would've taken them aback but soon they found the floor covered by what must've been fifty Joltik. Among them were three Blitzle playing electric tag with their Thundershock attacks while burning the floor tiles, the glass windows and couch cushions.

Minnie was scrambling by their hooves in trying to avoid their electrical bolts when they decided to make her "it." She was angrily squeaking up at them in words that Hilda would never be allowed to repeat with her guardians. All in all, the inspectors were collectively stunned by the whiplash of madness that laid before them.

"Ah," Cedric uttered with a growing sense of dread, trying to keep up his chipper attitude. "Might've neglected to mention our little tradition of letting Pokemon we study out into the lab to roam overnight." He tried to chuckle despite the disturbed looks on the inspectors' face. "Fun fact: Hilda suggested we do it by type once and it just stuck." He stepped out while trying to avoid stepping on any Joltik.

"Well," Cheren chimed in, trying to sound optimistic in spite of himself, "I grant you point for being as humane as possible."

"Your daughter also appears quite capable as well," Bianca anxiously added, hoping to butter up the Professor. "Bright, Vanessa, any thoughts?"

"Joltik..." Vanessa groaned with a discomforted whine, "Why did it have to be Joltik?" Bright put his hand on her shoulder while guiding her through what was leaving her petrified.

"Less fun fact: You said that you turn off the Storage Lab's systems yesterday!" Aurea angrily accused while recalling both of the Stunfisk. "Do you know how many Joltiks went up my shirt for a quick bite of static?" She reached her left hand underneath her lab coat's right sleeve with a Poke Ball to recall one such underneath. "More than zero!"

"Look on the bright side, sweetheart," Cedric chortled in hopes of not losing more face than he already had. "We will be able to show the League what happens in an emergency such as this very one..." He smiled for real this time. "...that I had actually planned this whole time." The Professor turned back in hopes that the inspectors bought it.

"Anyone else's Mankey suit getting itchy?" Vanessa irately asked, scratching her legs angrily.

"Tell me about it," Bright agreed, scratching his stomach. "Feels like there's a-"

He lifted his shirt to reveal two Joltik sisters had latched onto his belly and screamed from the top of his lung. "Getemoffgetemoffgetemoff," Bright pleaded while stumbling about and trying to pry them off.

Vanessa, all the while, had also rolled up her right pant leg to reveal her calve was host to three Joltik trying to scrap by on static. She took it rather well by only swearing "Crap" on an endless loop. For her, that constituted restraint.

"Don't startle the little ones," Cedric tried to warn frantically. "They're more scared of you than you are of-"

The Professor was interrupted when Bright and Vanessa felt the Joltik give off light shocks in their fear. It was enough to make them jump and convulse across the floor, all but missing music to dance to. Some Joltik scattered while others crawled up their legs, hoping to help their friends.

"-you," Cedric finished dejectedly.

"Well, we've open the cover..." Cheren began gruffly, adjusting his glasses to stay all business. "Can't say the first chapter gives a good first impression..."

"The little guys are kind of cute though," Bianca admitted, giggling when some crawled up her arms.

"Um... it gets good later?" Cedric insisted weakly, a Joltik coming up on his right shoulder innocuously.

To Be Continued...

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