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The Curious and the Shiny

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by NebulaDreams, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    Hello again, it's been a few months since my last fic (Deli's Delivery Service) and I've been working on this one even before I started writing that fic, all the way back in November. I've been sitting on this project for a while and now I'm starting to get all of my chapters so far redrafted. But enough prattle. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to give feedback.

    UPDATE: I realise I didn't post a summary here, which makes it unhelpful for new readers to get involved with the story, so I've got you covered below.

    After being separated for five years during their escape from the experimental facility GeL, Shine (Luxray) receives a clue hinting to Curio's (Lucario) whereabouts and sets off to Dendemille Town to find her. In the process, they reclaim their lost pasts, getting involved in various exploits with dragon ranchers, lost Alolans and other mysterious figures on the way.


    [​IMG]

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 1 - The Chase Arc: Dendemille's Daredevil

    On their computer screen, Shine’s trainer Tony browsed through a folder of archived photos, footage and interviews from their documentary in the making. One clip featured a gathering of Pokémon playing in what appeared to be a garden. Another focused on one Kadabra in a small cabin, reading through a multitude of levitating books in a matter of minutes. Another was just pure grey as smoke covered the camera. When he saw that, Shine’s eye widened.

    “Can you play that from the beginning?” Shine said in human tongue, his voice as certain and clear as a gentleman’s.

    Tony clicked the backwards button, which resumed at the start of the fight. The two Pokémon were in a featureless room, facing each other in a battle stance as a security camera watched from above. As Shine remembered, off-screen, there was an audience of staff members taking notes from behind a pane of glass in another room.

    The Rapidash started galloping towards the Lucario, who weaved and jumped from place to place in an effort to avoid its opponent’s attacks. The Lucario tried to stop to charge up an aura sphere, but kept having to cancel it each time the Rapidash attacked. Then it looked to its side and smiled. It ran outside the camera’s view and when it came back into the frame, it was holding a fire extinguisher. The Lucario aimed the nozzle at the Rapidash’s face and shot a blast of carbon dioxide at it, filling up the entire room with gas.

    Shine chuckled to himself, remembering the day Curio, the Lucario featured in the video, got a severe telling off from one of the directors of the GeL project in front of Shine’s group. Although he had buried so many other memories from his days at GeL, that one stuck in his mind as one particularly pleasant memory out of a lot of painful ones. Then, he thought of Curio again, and balanced on his hindpaws to reach over to the desk.

    “Is there any more footage of her?” Shine asked. Tony patted his head.

    “Sadly not, I’m afraid,” Tony said, “The guy I got this from said this was all he had, save for one photo with you in it as well.”

    “Can you go back to that, please?”

    Tony nodded and switched the screen over to a sheet of photos featuring mugshots of the 18 Pokémon involved in the project against a featureless background. Beside the 16 other Pokémon, there was him in his Shinx form looking afraid, and there was Curio in her Riolu form sticking her tongue out at the camera.

    An awkward silence filled the room. Tony sighed and rubbed Shine’s ears, looking at him with a grimaced face.

    “Sorry Shine. I know this isn’t an awful lot to work with and I know how much you miss all of the friends you made there.”

    Shine shook his head.

    “It’s not that, mostly. I just wonder what happened to them after the rest of us escaped. I saw Pecha escape, and who knows, she might be doing well outside, but Curio...”

    Shine looked over at Curio’s mugshot again and started to feel his eye mist up.

    “I don’t even know if she’s still alive. Whenever I think back to that day, I just think what I did was terrible. I just—”

    “Hey there,” Tony knelt down to Shine’s level from the chair and stroked his mane. The two locked eyes with each other. Shine felt a hot streak of tears trail down the fur of his cheek. Tony smiled and leaned in to hug him.

    “I believe you did the right thing if it meant saving your own hide.”

    “But that’s the problem!” Shine heard his voice crack. “If I left her behind and it turned out she died, I wouldn’t forgive myself.”

    “It’s a difficult situation, Shine. Just don’t blame yourself for what happened, okay?”

    “I’ll try.”

    “Good.” Tony broke his embrace and pressed a button on the computer, shutting it down. “I think we’ll call it a day now. I’ll start editing this once I get back from work tomorrow and hopefully I can spin something from it.” He got up from the chair and stretched his arms. “Are you doing anything tomorrow?”

    Shine sniffled and wiped away his tears. “No.”

    “In that case, do you think you can pick a few things up for us from the shop? Feel free to get something extra, okay?”

    Shine nodded and padded over to his bed, curling up inside of it. “Thanks.”

    And so, the two settled down early that night as Shine understood Tony had a tiring day. Shine himself dwelt on the thoughts that troubled him earlier, which eventually revolved around Curio.
    ‘On the off chance that Curio was still alive, what would she be doing? Would she have planned to explore the world like she said? Was she getting on fine in the wild despite her sheltered upbringing? Did she meet her family again?’
    After a while, his thoughts subsided and he fell asleep, putting them at the back of his head until the next time he would have to confront his past.

    ---

    It was Monday the next day, and it was time again for Shine to run his errands while Tony was at work, getting some extra sweets and a copy of The Regional Roundup for himself on the way. Shine came back to the apartment and dropped off the items in the kitchen. Then he heard a tap on the window above. Bauble, he thought.

    Making sure not to knock anything over, Shine climbed over the worktop and padded carefully to the windowsill where Bauble waited outside on the railing. She was a Murkrow with a red string anklet above her foot, and stood in the sunshine where it illuminated her black plumage. She tilted her head to the handle of the window and cawed through the glass. He stood on his hindlegs, trying his best to open the window without Tony’s assistance. He managed, but a pot had to be sacrificed in the process. The window wasn’t wide enough for her to fly in through, but they could hear each other clearly now that way. She smiled.

    “Why Shine, it’s a beautiful day, isn’t it? I bet your collar will look ever so shiny outside!”

    “Not planning on stealing it again, are you?” Shine said.

    “Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it’ll look so much better out here than in the indoor shade, won’t it?”

    Shine let out a sigh. “Alright, come up to the door.”

    “And you bring your paper.”

    With a flap of her wings, Bauble sprung up out of view from where Shine sat at the sill. Shine leapt off of the counter and exited the apartment through the door flap, picking up the newspaper on the way with his teeth. A moment later, Bauble flew down and the two made their way to one of Ambrette’s many local parks. Once they reached it, Bauble flew over to a clear bench, perching on the seat. Shine ran after her and sat by the edge of the bench, dropping the roll of paper onto the pavement below. He put a paw on it to stop it blowing away in the wind.

    “Go on,” Bauble cawed, “What’re you waiting for?”

    Shine nodded and unfolded the paper, revealing the front cover.

    “Whozzat?”

    There was a picture of a Machoke holding up a championship belt triumphantly. Although he had no interest in sports, Shine knew him as Rex Revolver. On the top however, was the headline ‘REX RETIRES!’ with the caption ‘Consecutive four year Machampion calls it quits!’

    “He seems pretty satisfied!” Bauble said.

    “He’s quitting.”

    “Aw. Well that sucks.”

    “Do you want me to read on?”

    “Eh, don’t care for sports.”

    Shine leafed through the rest of the paper, trying to find something else of interest to Bauble so he could read it to her. The Pokémon related stories piqued her curiosity the most, so Shine skimmed through anything to do with human affairs. Although he was engrossed in the subject, the last time he tried to read a feature about Kalos’ national debt, Bauble flew off in a huff.

    The next article of interest had a picture of camera footage, with a group of Scraggy and Scrafty crowding around something in the middle. Shine read out the headings:

    “The Scraggy Dilemma - Should we arrest criminal Pokémon?”

    Bauble crowed in anger.

    “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a while! How’s that gonna work out without it screwing up everything else? Do humans get paid to write this crap?”

    “Yes, depending on whether or not they’re freelance, they can either get paid for each article they write or...” Shine trailed off, realising that he was going off a tangent.

    “But sometimes,” Shine said, “it does amaze me that humans manage to find work doing this.”

    “They shouldn’t be paid at all if you ask me!”

    Shine brushed aside her comment and continued looking.

    “Oh Shine!” Bauble said. “When can I see your film?”

    Shine turned to Bauble, who looked at him expectantly.

    “Probably never at this rate.”

    “What?” Bauble screeched, “Why not? Do you hate me?”

    “Trust me, it has nothing to do with that. We’ve got a lot of clips but it doesn’t look like we have enough to work with.”

    “Can’t I take one little peek at it?” Bauble said, looking down at Shine with desperate eyes.

    “It’s not up to me, I’m afraid. It’s mostly Tony’s project.”

    “Forget Tony! Why not do it when he’s out?”

    Shine sighed. ‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have let it slip’, he thought. ‘But since it won’t do any harm...’

    “I’ll consider it.”

    Bauble pouted and turned her head dismissively.

    “Whatever,” she said, “Continue.”

    “A Future Without Cars - Gogoats lead to less congestion, study finds.”

    “Boring,” Bauble said, “Slow news day, isn’t it?”

    “A little,” Shine muttered.

    Next page.

    “Dendemille’s Daredevil - The Lucario Who Shook Up Dendemille Town.”

    “Finally,” Bauble said, “something that might be interesting!”

    “A Lucario was spotted climbing up Port Mill on Saturday. At daylight, the Lucario trespassed on the grounds of the mill while it was being operated and jumped onto one of the blades. Despite the complaints of a few eyewitnesses who gathered outside including the grounds-keeper Franc Lautrec, the Lucario continued to hang until the blade was level with the roof. Once up there, it stayed until one of the workers reached the roof through the indoor ladder. Before it could be caught, however, it climbed down from the roof and fled the area.”

    There was more to the text than that, but the more Shine read it, the more he thought of Curio. There had been numerous times in the facility where she trespassed certain areas of the buildings: the staff room, the kitchen, the vents, and an unused attic which she had shared with him and a few others as a hideout before the staff spotted them. The link between her and the Lucario featured in the writing was weak at best, but Shine knew it wasn’t above Curio to climb where she wasn’t allowed to, or further than that, where he thought she wasn’t able to.

    “Why’d you stop?”

    Bauble’s shrill voice snapped him out of his reverie. Flustered, he quickly looked for an excuse to his silence.

    “Sorry, I’m just looking at the photo.”

    His eye scanned over to the picture on the right, which featured the Lucario hanging from the windmill as the writing described. On closer inspection, the Lucario’s left arm looked off somehow. It wasn’t the same length as the other, it didn’t bend the same way grabbed onto the blade, and it had a metallic sheen to it like a jewel in the sunlight.

    Shine’s heart leapt in his chest. He brought himself as close to the picture as he could, checking the details of the arm multiple times to see if it really was like Curio’s, and more after that, almost as if to try and prove himself wrong. But after the seventh time, there was no doubt about it. The Lucario in that picture had an artificial arm.

    The Lucario in that picture was none other than Curio.

    “By God’s tail!” he exclaimed.

    “What?” Bauble said. Shine didn’t answer. Instead, he shut the pages and stuffed the newspaper in his mouth. Despite her protests, Shine made a beeline for the exit and dashed off further into town where the coast was to Tony’s workplace. He didn’t care how fast he was going or whether or not he accidentally bumped into things on his way.

    He just had to tell Tony about Curio no matter what. He didn’t slow down when he reached the cliffside, going only by inertia. When he suddenly reached the edge of the cliff, he had to make a sharp right turn, which was hard to do with his blindside as the left of him was obscured. He ended up almost falling over the edge, kicking a few pebbles off the cliff face in the process, but staggered back to his feet and carried on his route.

    Eventually, Shine reached the coast where the main part of Ambrette Town sat, and rushed past the aquarium over to the neighbouring Marine Conservation Centre, and charged through the entrance into the reception. He remembered where Tony’s office was, which was by his right. Without thinking, he started to run towards the direction of the door.

    “Hey hey hey!” One of the receptionists called, an unfamiliar voice of an old man. “What do you think you’re doing here?!”

    Shine spat the newspaper out. “Sorry, my trainer’s in there, I have to speak with him!”

    Shine ran towards the door, balancing himself on his hindpaws to pull the handle down, but when he did, the door wouldn’t open. It was locked. Shine turned to the other direction, with a door at the far end that led to the same destination, but would’ve taken longer to get in. He glanced at the old man. He was practically white with confusion, mumbling to the other receptionist, who Shine knew as Ines. She wasn’t overly friendly with Shine, but he was sure she would recognise him. Although every other instinct told him to run, he thought it would be best to explain his situation. He padded over to the desk, balanced on his tip-toes and locked eyes with Ines, who gave him a serious gaze.

    “Shine, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

    “Why?”

    “Everyone in the back including Tony is busy taking care of something important, and we’re just as tied up. They can’t have anybody else coming in no matter what for the whole day.”

    “But-”

    She braced herself and retracted a Pokeball from her belt, holding it towards Shine.

    “I said you can’t come in no matter what. If you don’t leave, you’ll have to answer to Ignis.”

    It was a bitter pill for him to swallow, but Shine took a deep breath and relaxed his stance. He didn’t want to have to cause a scene and deal with her Delphox, of all things.

    “Can you at least pass a message to him for me?”

    She lowered her Pokeball, but didn’t change her expression otherwise.

    “Make it quick.”

    Shine rushed over to where he dropped the newspaper and picked it back up, propping it onto Ines’ desk.

    “Tell him to read page 12.”

    “I’ll see if I have time to. Now scram.”

    He walked out of the centre, feeling the urge to run even more than he was used to. The experience left him with a pang of pent-up energy, as he couldn’t tell Tony about it. He ran aimlessly across the beach which seemed to stretch on for ages. Once he reached the edge where the tide came in, he went back and ran another lap, and another, but it still didn’t sate the excitement within him.

    Curio was back. After five years of waiting and not knowing of her whereabouts, she was alive and making just as much mischief as she did back then. He would have so much to tell her, about his journey once he escaped from GeL and how he met Tony. She was have a lot to tell him as well, but the most burning question on his mind was how she escaped when they got separated. In any case, the two would have a lot to catch up on.

    Then Shine slowed down his pace to a brisk walk. Curio was all the way in Dendemille, which meant he would have to cross half the region to get there. How would he get there though?

    Shine considered his options. He could run all the way through the wild and not have to worry about any attacking Pokémon, as he could easily take a group of five small Pokémon at once or a trio of evolved Pokémon. But that would take a week at the least and he didn’t know if Curio would still be there by the time he arrived. He could go by train, which would probably take him there in three days, but he wanted to go even faster than that. As far as he knew, there wasn’t a Magnet Train in Kalos either. How about dragons?

    Throughout Kalos, there were locally owned ranches that allow travel through Pokémon. Dragons came to mind when he thought of fast travel; not even the fastest trains in the world held a candle to a Dragonite. If he could find one, he would probably be able to get to Dendemille in an hour.

    The issue was cost. Even if he was a Pokémon, buses and trains were only vehicles, and so any Pokémon could step on there for free if it wasn’t during rush hour. With other Pokémon, however, they were the ones in charge of the labour, and their services required payment just like any other human selling goods. The faster they were, the more their handlers were likely to charge, and Dragonites would be the cream of the crop. Time was money, after all.

    That was it then. No matter what, Shine would find a way to make this trip work. With this realisation, Shine rushed back home in a matter of minutes, charging through the flap at such speed that he smacked the wall in the hallway.

    Shine fell backwards, slightly dazed from the hit. It was minor, but he would’ve bit his own tail in embarrassment if he could. His stomach grumbled. He hadn’t eaten yet, so once he recovered, he ripped open the bag he fetched from the store and chomped down a couple of mouthfuls of pellets. Afterwards, he went to drink some water from the tap of the sink when he heard that tap again. The window was still open.

    “Care to tell me why you dashed off like that?” Bauble cawed, her beak pointed downwards. Shine gave her a confused look, thoughts occupied with meeting Curio.

    “Well?” She prodded.

    Shine realised that Bauble might be of some help.

    “I need to go to Dendemille,” Shine said.

    “What?” Bauble said, “How in the world are you gonna get there?”

    “That’s something I might need your help with, if you don’t mind.”

    “Depends.”

    “Is there a ranch nearby that takes care of Dragonites?”

    “Hmm,” Bauble said, turning her head away. “There might be. But. But-but-but.” She looked at Shine with a cunning smile. “What would you give me in return if I did know there was one? Perhaps, your collar?”

    “Excuse me?” Shine sputtered, “What is your obsession with my collar?”

    “It is in my nature, you know. You can take it or leave it,” she said, “Besides, I think I deserve something for being abandoned.”

    “My collar is.” He paused. Shine was starting to get tired of Bauble’s demands about his collar, which had been going on since she met him. It was easier to let her have what she wanted and get it over with. He didn’t care about it personally, but Tony had given it to him as a present for when he finally got his trainer license. Still, his resolve to see Curio was stronger than upholding some tradition.

    He sighed.

    “Fine. Come in through the door.”

    Once she entered, Bauble reached over to the back of Shine’s neck to unclasp his collar. She ran her beak through his fur, which tickled a little, but within seconds, the collar was released and Bauble held what was Tony’s memento in her mouth. Seeing how pleased Bauble was with it, Shine felt a knot of guilt tie itself in his stomach. Nevertheless, he tried to ignore it and continued his business with Bauble.

    “Are there Dragonites, Bauble?”

    “Why yeth, there are,” she said, slightly muffled by what she was holding. “You haff money for that, yeth?”

    “I’ll sort that out in a minute. If you don’t mind, can you wait outside for me?”

    “Cointh?” She asked. Shine anticipated she would ask about that, as if she imagined there was a vault in the flat that had a pool of solid gold she could gawk at.

    “Bills,” he said.

    “Aw.”

    As soon as Bauble hopped out of the door with the collar, Shine used his golden vision to find the safe in Tony’s closet in their room.

    Tony was the one that taught Shine how to use money in the real world. While his days in the facility gave him the knowledge of basic arithmetic earlier on, amongst other things, currency was alien to him in such a closed-off environment. Not long after the two officially partnered up, Tony shared the code to his safe, as he trusted Shine to only use it for emergencies. He hadn’t needed to use it in the two years he stayed in Tony’s flat. This, however, was an emergency. A largely personal emergency, but an emergency nonetheless.

    Unfortunately, the safe wasn’t Pokémon friendly, as the code could only be punched in on a small keypad. He had to type in the code with his muzzle, which took a few tries but once he entered the right combination, it opened with a satisfying click, revealing the vast amounts of money inside. He gasped at the sight of it, with seemingly endless stacks of paper. ‘Was this really what Tony was sitting on all this time?’

    He would only take what he needed however. The price of the Dragonite, he didn’t know, but if he had to guess, it would be around 20000 Pokedollars. So he took ten 2000 bills out and after counting it twice over with his paws, Shine locked the safe door shut.

    Travelling to the middle of nowhere with a loose stash of bills in his mouth was undesirable, especially as a Pokémon, so Shine searched in Tony’s drawers for a little bag he could bundle them in. He found a small drawstring bag, stuffed the bills in it, then placed it in his mouth. Now he was ready to go.

    As he made his way to the door, however, Shine realised what he was about to do; fly half the region to see someone that might not even be there. As unsure as he was, however, he was determined to see Curio’s antics again and her reassuring voice. But something still nagged at him. He also realised how much it would worry Tony to travel for a few days unannounced. He backtracked to Tony’s bedroom and got out a pen and a pad. Gripping the pen with his mouth, Shine wrote as best as he could on the lined paper.

    ‘Looking for Curio. Will be back in a few days - S.’

    With that, Shine picked the moneybag back up and left the flat.

    Bauble had waited on the railing, absentmindedly staring out into the noon sky, and when Shine came back, she turned to him with a displeased look.

    “Took ya long enough.” She said.

    “Ith not eathy without handth,” Shine said, “You off all Pokémon thould know that.”

    “Can’t hear ya, mate.” She said with a teasing smile. “Follow me.”

    Bauble flapped her wings in Shine’s face and glided over to the sign at the other end of the block. When Shine got close enough, Bauble flew off again, gliding into the distance up the road. Once the two knew each other’s patterns of movement, Bauble no longer had to wait for Shine to catch up as he ran after here. They went further up the road, reached the outskirts of Ambrette towards the more mountainous areas of land where the ground got more bumpy, and to a path that sat outside of the forest of Route 9.

    --

    They turned right to a narrow path surrounded by trees, which blocked the rays of the sun.
    When they arrived, Shine saw the most dragons he had ever seen in one area. When he first heard of the ranches, he didn’t know what to expect with how it was organised. He expected all the Pokémon to be boxed into several pens, or kept inside their Pokeballs. However, what he saw separated by a fence was an open field, as the dragon types freely flew around the area and ran through the shallow grass. There were Charizards, Dragonites, Salamences, Goodras and all the like, but as well as that, their young accompanied them in their previous evolutions. While most species kept within their own circles, there were a few that freely mingled with others scattered across.

    Plenty of humans operated the field; those tending to their own Pokémon by feeding them, playing with them or resting by them, and those who worked in the farmland area separate from the Pokémon area.

    There was so much happening at once there, Shine didn’t know where to start. It made him feel dizzy looking at it, trying to keep a track of all the activity there and turning his head back and forth to where his blindside couldn’t see. Then, remembering what he came there for, he shook his head and padded over to the closest barn on the path. Bauble bounced alongside him on the fence.

    When he reached the entrance, Shine was greeted by a woman dressed head to toe in flight gear. She had her hand close to her belt, seemingly cautious of the two that approached her.

    “If you’ve come here to steal our crops, beat it.” She said.

    “We wouldn’t dream off ith,” Shine said. “I need a ride to Dendemille Town as quickly as pothible, pleath.” To complete the request, he bowed politely to her. The woman took off her visor, not taken completely off guard but still revealing her surprise as she arched an eyebrow.

    “Well I’ll be. Did that Murkrow bring you here?” She looked in Bauble’s direction. Shine nodded, as the woman gave him a pointed look.

    “Well I must apologise. I don’t know what she told you, but we don’t make no exceptions for Pokémon. Even you have to pay.”

    Shine shook his head.

    “No problem. I’m looking to buy a Dragonite.”

    Upon hearing this, the lady chortled, holding her fist in front of her hand to stifle herself.

    “A Dragonite? Good one! Where in Arceus’ crack did you find that much money to buy one?”

    “Ith in thith bag.”

    The woman laughed again, slapping her knee.

    “Naw, naw, I apologise,” she said, “I believe ya. I just think I’ve lost it.” She took a deep breath, and presented her gloved hand to Shine.

    “Name’s Adele. Pleasure to do business with ya. What’s yours?” Shine placed the pouch in her hand.

    “Shine.”

    “Cool! If you’ll follow me to the field, I’ll walk you through what we have.”

    Adele jumped over the fence. Before Shine could follow, he winced as Bauble’s beak tugged at his fur.

    “Yeah, I’m kind of banned here, so I’ll take my leave now. I hope whatever you’re doing in Dendemille works out for you.”

    Shine smiled.

    “Thanks. Enjoy your collar.”

    “Will do!” Bauble gave an appreciative chirp, and swooped up in the air, disappearing past the trees.

    Shine crawled under the fence and caught up with Adele as they weaved through the field. Already, Shine could sense the attention he was getting from a group of Charmander nearby who all stared at him. They started talking amongst themselves but he couldn’t hear what they were saying. He brushed it aside.

    “If you don’t mind me asking,” Adele said, “Where’d you learn to speak so well?”

    “Through a caring enough trainer and lots of practice.” Shine said, which was a half truth.

    “You don’t say. All things considered, you speak much better than half of my workers on the farm!”

    “I wouldn’t say that.”

    “Don’t humble yourself. Actually, we’ve tried our hand at teaching our Pokémon here to speak, and it ain’t easy, let me tell you. We’ve had problems finding other Pokémon that speak like us for the job, so we do it ourselves, and some of them can carry conversations, but they’ve still got a helluva way to go. Others though, they have no focus for it whatsoever. I can’t even get one peep out of them before they fly off!”

    Shine couldn’t help but laugh, thinking back to how unreceptive Curio was at first to learn it in the language tests.

    “It is always the hardest trying to get the first word out, after all. If it’s not in their nature, leave them be.”

    “I don’t know, we’ve been surprise before. Still, a Pokémon such as yourself is somewhat of a rarity around these parts. It’s hard to—“ She paused as a glob of green slime splashed over her glasses from her left side. It came from a Goodra who wave at Adele with a slimy paw. She chortled as she wiped off the gunk and approached the dragon.

    “Hell-o A-dell.” The Goodra pronounced carefully in human tongue.

    “Good to see you too, Petri.” She welcomed the Goodra with open arms and didn’t hesitate to hug Petri as he coated her with more slime.”

    “How’s the lessons coming along?”

    “Slow and a-nnoy-ing. But not bad.”

    “It’ll get better, “Shine chimed in, bringing Petri’s attention to him, “I found it hard to string together words as well.”

    “Petri gasped, clutching his chest with his paw, “A new tea-cher?”

    “Nope,” Adele said, “Just a visitor of ours.”

    Petri gave a disappointed smile.

    “O-K.”
    “Sorry, we gotta go Petri. I’ll come back in a bit. See you then!”

    Adele waved to Petri which he returned, and also waved in Shine’s direction. He nodded his head before catching up with Adele, who was still covered in slime.

    “Does that come off easily?” Shine said.

    “Depends. You hardly notice it after a while.”

    -

    The two reached the part of the field where the Dragonites congregated, a group of 5 who were all huddled around each other. Adele cleared her throat.

    “Attention!” She shouted. The Dragonites all turned to face her. She counted them all with her finger, then pointed to a blank space. She grunted.

    “Lyra,” she said, and the Dragonite on the far left took a step forward. “Would you be so kind to fetch Accendare, please?”

    Lyra nodded. Shine couldn’t even see her flap her wings before he had to shield himself from the gust of wind. When he opened his eye, Lyra was nowhere to be seen in the sky. Then, he saw the two approaching from the far side of the field, and flinched when they landed. The Dragonites on land laughed. He felt the ground rumble once when Lyra landed, then Accendare. Accendare was slightly smaller than the rest and one could see its ribs sticking out slightly. It looked off into the distance with its arms crossed.

    “Good! Now,” she turned to Shine, “What’s your pleasure?”

    The Dragonites started talking amongst themselves.

    “What is a Luxray doing here?”

    “By golly, he must be loaded!”

    “He can’t be serious.”

    “Who’s the fastest?” Shine asked, mostly for curiosity’s sake.

    “Well, that’d be Bally!” She pointed to the Dragonite in the middle, who was the tallest of the bunch. “Easy to handle, and can reach the peak of Snowbelle City in just an hour.”

    Bally gave Shine a smug smile, but kept silent. ‘So he could get there in half an hour.’ Shine thought.

    “How much?”

    “Ninety thousand!”

    Shine had anticipated the steep price tag, just to see how far up he could go.

    “And who’s the cheapest?”

    Adele chuckled to herself. “Figure you’d say that next.” She pointed to Accendare. “You know this lil’ stowaway’s name. I don’t know how urgent your situation is, but she’ll do a good enough job for you if your only destination is Dendemille. She can get there in roughly an hour and a quarter if you don’t mind the bumpy ride.”

    It wasn’t exactly within the hour, but it was close enough. Better than he was expecting for the cheapest. ‘Dragonites truly are first rate.’

    “How much?”

    “Thirty thousand!”

    “Oh,” he whispered. Somewhere, he had miscalculated how much he needed. Speed, handleability and rarity were his first standards of measurement. He must have forgotten something in the rush.

    “I see. I’m ten thousand short, unfortunately.”

    There was a collective sigh from the group of Dragonites. Adele blinked.

    “I might as well mention this is a very generous price around these parts. You might get cheaper further east, but for what’s available here, that’s a bargain.”

    That was it. He forgot to take availability into factor as well. Adele grunted. She retrieved Shine’s pouch from her pocket and knelt down to Shine. Only then did he realise how foolish he must have looked.

    “Sorry for having wasted your time.” Shine said. She smiled to him.

    “Not at all! I completely understand. We haven’t had a customer like you come to our ranch before, so you’ve made it worth my while!”

    Shine took the pouch from her palm and placed it in his mouth.

    “Than’ you.”

    He bowed once more before turning back to the path. Then, he saw Petri, the Goodra from earlier in the distance, and stopped. He thought back to the conversation he had with Adele about finding teachers for the Pokémon on the ranch. He hummed to himself, and he couldn’t help smile at the idea he had in mind.

    Once more, Shine turned to Adele who was checking on Accendare.

    “Adele!” He shouted.

    Adele faced him again with a confused look, and Shine held the pouch down on the grass.

    “I’ll pay the twenty thousand for Accendare, and work for as long as it takes to teach Petri to speak properly!”

    A glint appeared in Adele’s eyes, and she clapped her hands together.

    “Now we’re talking business! As long as you’re fine with it being unpaid work, we’re square!”

    “I don’t mind.”

    “Good!” Adele grabbed the pouch and opened it, counting its contents, 20000 Poke dollars in 10 bills. The money disappeared in her jacket.

    “We need to make sure you'll come back to us to start your first lesson, so me and Accendare will be there to pick you up in two days at the most.”

    “Two days?” Shine asked. Even he wasn’t sure he would be able to get Curio back in that time.

    “Yup. We can’t make the returning time too open, otherwise it’ll be like you’re getting a trip for free. Is that fine with you?”

    Shine looked to his side. Again, he wasn’t certain Curio would still be there, but he had nothing to lose by not taking up the offer except his trainer’s money.

    “Yes,” he said, “I might need to bring a friend of mine back here.”

    "Same size as you?"

    "She's a Lucario."

    "Fine. The spikes might be a problem, but it's doable. In that case, we'll be there at 2PM on Wednesday, so don't forget that. Oh, one more thing." Adele walked closer to Shine and knelt down to his level, uncomfortably close to his face with a serious expression.

    "We kinda have a serious policy on customers paying us back. If you try to weasel your way out of it or aren't there in time two days from now, well, your *** is grass."

    "I can assure you I'll be there." Shine said, unflinching.

    Adele backed away from him, smiling again.

    "Good! Ahem," She pulled out a walkie talkie and spoke into it.

    "Jean, Fio! Accendare's gear please, on the double!"

    A moment later, the two young assistants Jean and Fio appeared lugging around an assortment of riding equipment, harnesses, belts, buckles and all. Their faces glistened with sweat and their arms wobbled as they presented the gear in front of Adele. She crossed her arms.

    “Alright, get a move on, you two, and be careful.”

    The two exhaled and went to Accendare, who held up her paws in the air for them to equip her. She shifted nervously in place as they started to clip and tie the leather gear around her body. As for Jean and Fio, they looked to be 2 feet smaller than the comparatively towering Dragonite, which meant they had to lean or climb up her back to fully secure the equipment. Shine wasn't sure whether he was amused or worried.

    The boyish looking Jean tried to wrap the harness around Accendare’s arms, who knelt down with all four paws on the ground. He took one step to the side in an effort to pull the strap back, but missed her back and ended up slipping off of her, catching Accendare’s arm with the loose strap. She winced.

    “Damn it Jean, I told you to be careful!” Adele said, stomping over to let the boy down. “The last thing I need you to do is to hurt Accy!” The boy looked up at her with guilty eyes.

    “Sorry miss.”

    “Never mind, I’ll handle this from here on out. Clearly, you need more training.” She turned to Accendare’s side. “Fio, you’ve done a good job, so that’s it for now. Go take Jean back and make him run a lap across the field.”

    Fio silently nodded and left with the glum looking boy. Adele leaned in to stroke Accendare’s head.

    “It’ll get more comfy with time, sweetie,” she said, “That clod really doesn’t make it easy for you, does he?”

    Accendare shook her head in reply.

    “There there.” She turned to Shine. “Shall we?”
    From there, Accendare went on all fours, presenting the saddle on her back. Adele offered a hand to Shine, gesturing to pick him up, and he sat in her arm as she climbed up Accendare to the front. She placed him in one of the empty backseats of the saddle which were mostly fit for humans but not Pokémon that weren’t bipedal. Nevertheless, he gripped the belt in front of him with ease, but a chill washed over him when he realised he was on the back of a dragon that could cycle the globe in less than a day. He gulped.

    “Accendare,” he asked in his own language, “Any tips for first timers?”

    “Hold on for dear life?” She said. He couldn’t see her face, but he imagined she looked quite nervous herself. “Oh, and um, thanks for picking me by the way.”

    “You’re welcome.”

    With that, the Dragonite leaned forward and started flapping her wings, sending a wave of movement through the seat, Shine lightly bobbing up and down. Adele gently raised the bridle, and Accendare’s wings beat, progressively getting more rapid. Eventually, the ground below Shine felt weightless. Accendare was in the air.

    The rest of the dragons cleared the way, each flying to opposite ends of the field; the young were either picked up on the way or were left to rush to their parents as quickly as possible. Then Adele whipped the bridle.

    Without warning, Accendare burst forward. A rush of wind slapped Shine across the face. The ranch was behind him in an instant. Then the trees all became a blur of green. A blur of brown as they passed the cliffs. All the while, Shine had no time to process the level of speed he was riding at. Already, the spike in speed left him feeling dizzy. All he could focus on was holding onto the strap and not letting go. It was something he never wanted to experience again, but the one motivating thought was Curio. If he could be together with her again, if he could nuzzle against her warm body again, if he could talk with her for ages as they loaded each other’s frustrations onto each other again, it would all be worth it.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    DreamSayer likes this.
  2. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    It took me a little while to realize Shine was a Luxray, though that's just me being kinda dumb.

    This is a pretty solid and impressive first chapter. It manages to set up the world, characters and a goal without wasting any words, which is always a tricky thing to do with stories. Not to say your fic is simple, it's just good at only showing the relevant bits.

    I really like Bauble, I hope we get more of her. I wonder how Shine's going to find this Lucario; I imagine it won't be nearly as easy as he imagines. Hopefully we'll see what kinda troubles he gets himself into :D

    I liked it!! I'll be waiting to read more.
     
  3. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    Thank you Alpar! I'm surprised you've taken a liking to Bauble, but in any case, you'll see more of her in the future. Anyway...

    The Curious and The Shiny Chapter 2. Dendemille’s Pests

    The first thing Shine did when Accendare landed was topple over to the ground and throw up. His head swam, his face felt like it was melting, and his whole body generally felt unpleasant. At that time, he didn’t want to think about Curio, about Tony back home, about Bauble or anybody else. He didn’t even want to think about himself. He locked himself up in his little bubble, only burst by the presence of Accendare and Adele beside him.

    “Oh dear,” Accendare exclaimed. “Are you alright there? I wasn’t that bad, was I?”

    Shine didn’t answer.

    “Man, the trip really took the wind out of your sails, huh?” Adele said. “Hold on, I might be able to help you.”

    Shine’s mouth was filled with a bitter tang as he ingested some sort of liquid. He didn’t know what it was, but after a moment, coherent thoughts started to form again, and after that, he felt the haze over his body clear up. Shine looked up at Adele with a weary expression.

    “Thank you,” he said.

    “Don’t mention it. First timers usually get sick, although most first timers don’t usually opt for a Dragonite. Can you stand?”

    He slowly got to his feet and tried to stretch, but after such a long ride, his legs wobbled and he was back on the floor again.

    “Well, this is embarrassing,” he said.

    “Oh tosh,” she said, “With that sort of speed, it’s no wonder you’re be tuckered out! Don’t worry, it’ll pass if you get a lil’ rest.”

    He tried his best to smile. “I’ll be fine from here on out then.”

    “In that case, take care, and don’t forget our agreement now!”

    “I promise I won’t.”

    “Hold on Shine!” Accendare chimed in. “Can I join in with Petri’s lesson as well?”

    “I don’t see why not.”

    “Thank you!” she said with a smile before flapping her wings again. Adele waved him goodbye and with one flick of her wrist, Accendare took off again, blasting him in the face with wind.

    When Shine eventually came to, he looked to his surroundings, Shine recognised he was standing in a park populated by very few people who were already looking his direction. Aside from a wooden stage big enough for a band, he found little out of the ordinary. He looked further into the distance and past a surrounding cluster of trees, there were cottages and wooden houses that snaked up a series of hills, topped with the windmill featured in Curio’s photo at the centre. He ignored the townsfolk that looked at him and paced around idly, trying to reorient himself with the sensation of walking and to figure out where he could ask around. His first thought was to find the town square, and maybe a tourist centre if there was one.

    In his journey down the paths of Dendemille, Shine had walked out the stiffness in his joints. On the way there, magnolias, cherry blossoms and red maple glided down in a mixture of white, pink and red, while the scent of vanilla gently wafted in the air. Being in the middle of it all eased Shine’s nerves from the ride, and the nausea cleared up soon after.

    After going straight down the paths, he found the main square and upon entering the plaza, the presence seemed different from what he was used to in Ambrette. Even though he was in the centre of town, the area was less densely populated, and whereas there was always activity from the coastal Pokémon flying in and the amount of tourists the town gathered during summertime, he found Dendemille more or less beat to the tune of its own drum. He saw many older trainers drift in and out of the plaza, dressed in plain-clothes or overalls, with their farming Pokémon almost tall as them by their side.

    A dozen of market stalls were open in the centre, most of which were run by trainers with different assortments of items, farmers with their crops or fresh meat, while two of the others sat quietly at the end; a hex maniac selling Moomoo Milk and a trader under a tent with makeshift shelves of books surrounding him.

    He was the first person Shine could think of to ask about Curio’s whereabouts. Perhaps on instinct, as someone he expected was well read probably had the most information about local affairs. He padded over to the tent, glancing over to the shelves to see if there was anything interesting he could look up later back home, and sniffed at the air. Old paper.

    “’Lo there,” the trader said, “I’ve not hidden any meat in those books, though I do have a treat if you’re hungry.”

    “No thank you,” Shine said, bowing, “Do you have any time to spare?”

    The trader smiled.

    “Course I do, not much happening here, mind you. You’re the first interestin’ thing I’ve seen all week, so I’m chuffed to help out any well spoken Pokémon.”

    “Have you seen a Lucario with a metal arm around here?”

    “You mean Curio?” the trader asked, scratching his balding head. Shine nodded in reply. “Can’t say I ‘ave, but I’ve heard many rumours about her walking the town.” He knelt down and picked up his own copy of The Regional Roundup, leafing through the paper. “Some folks at the pub said she followed ‘em in the streets at night and spoke with them, though they were hammered when it happened so it’s probably a bunch of crap.”

    Shine grew wide eyed. ‘Was she seriously talking to drunkards in the street? Even if she was precocious, after all those years of etiquette training, didn’t she know it wasn’t wise to talk to strangers like that? Wait, isn’t that what I’m doing though?’ The trainer cackled, interrupting his thoughts.

    “Dunno how to react, do ya?”

    “No no no, I just don’t know if I should be surprised or not, knowing her.”

    “So you’re an old friend of hers, I take it,” the trader said, eyebrows quirked, “She lost? Would explain why she climbed that bloody windmill in the first place.” Shine shook his head.

    “I don’t even know myself. So, you don’t know where she is then?”

    “’Fraid not,” he said as he closed the newspaper, “Wish I could be of more help.”

    “No, no, you’ve given me plenty to work with, sir. Thank you.”

    “And you. ‘Bout time I got someone who’s polite in my lot, not like these old farts here.” He looked to the competition around him, flashing a self-satisfied grin.

    Shine bowed before him and retreated to one corner of the plaza, resting on the cold cobblestone floor. He contemplated the information the trader gave him, soaking up the atmosphere of the market square as conversation far away passed, while the distant notes of a guitar drifted in and faded out.

    There was still a lot he didn’t know about Curio. He hadn’t come across her once in Sinnoh since their escape, and five years was a long time to change, especially when one had to adapt to an alien environment like Shine did before he met Tony. She could’ve been anywhere. The only thing he could gather from Curio’s trip up the mill was that she had kept her word on planning to travel on her lonesome even if she had to fight tooth and nail to keep herself free. But there was still the mill itself to find out about. That would be the next place to check for her whereabouts.

    Shine got to his feet, starting the long trek up the series of hills where the cottages sat. Giving them a closer look, Shine noticed that some of the cottages had farm lots in their front gardens which were tended to by Pokémon and their trainers. As he passed by them, they stopped their work to stare at him, which struck Shine as odd at first. He didn’t stop, but the further he advanced, the more he noticed what the Pokémon and trainers did when they spotted him.

    A few Pokémon laid free to roam outside the cottages immediately sprang out of their work or napping sessions to stand in front of the fields with their backs straightened, their teeth clenched, their eyes tracking, everything to indicate they were cautious of Shine’s presence. The trainers caught wind of this too, either standing by their guarding Pokémon or summoning their Pokémon outside their balls, ready to command them to fight. Shine took a deep breath and looked straight to the path ahead, quickening his pace.

    Once he reached the top, Shine stopped and saw the sheer size of the mill for the first time with his own eye. The picture he had seen of Curio was only a close up of her, which didn’t give much of an indication of the foundation of the windmill itself. When he faced it even from the edge of the hill, he had to tilt his head upward to see the top of it. The blades gently rotated in the wind, but the air whooshed around it with every revolution.

    When he let his head down, he narrowed his eye at the series of tall metal fences surrounding the grounds of the mill, kept under lock and key by a gate. The newspaper mentioned Curio had ‘trespassed’, not simply walked in as if it was a park. Shine could see plants with Razz Berries, Bluk Berries and many other berries he couldn’t recall at the top of his head, while he sniffed the air and tasted the sickly scent of honey. ‘Point is, it’s a vineyard, supposed to keep pests like me out from stealing anything.’

    Shine’s eye flashed gold and the surroundings turned transparent, allowing him a full view of everything going on at the mill. Several humans were inside the buildings beside the mill, nowhere near close to where he could talk to them. Two humans were outside picking berries from the plants, one further away and one closer to the gate, a boy in his teens. There was also a Leafeon on patrol walking around the perimeter of the fence from the inside, but Shine preferred to get the boy’s attention first if he could avoid being chased by a guarding Pokémon, as it was small enough to fit through the metal bars.

    He softly walked through the grass along the edge of the fence with his see-through vision still active, getting closer to the boy until he could see him through the grating. Shine opened his mouth to shout, then--

    “Emilio!” A coarse voice called from far away, “Come here this instant!”

    “Y-yes Sir!” he stammered, and left his berry basket unattended as he rushed to the mill.

    Shine cursed himself. His potential source of information had disappeared. If he found somewhere to hide, he would be able to try again, but he considered the chance that the Leafeon would catch him while he looked. It was worth a try, however.

    He turned around and carefully retraced his steps to the path leading to the mill, when he felt something tug at his paw. Shine winced and tried to shake it off, but the more he struggled to get it free, the tighter it wrapped around his ankle, like some sort of rope. He took a deep breath and calmed himself. The last thing he needed to do was to panic.

    “Well lookie here,” a low female voice called, “I caught me a...” The voice trailed off for a moment, then a set of paws traipsed through the grass and stood in front of him. It was the Leafeon. She squinted her eyes at him.

    “Wait, what are you again? I don’t think I’ve seen your type around here before.”

    “I’m a--”

    “Don’t care,” the Leafeon interrupted, “But you look like a cat Pokémon, and it’s always fishy when one of your kind shows up on these grounds.” A trail of grass knots snaked under Shine’s body and tied themselves around each of his limbs, anchoring him to the ground. He squirmed in its grasp, but with each movement, the knots surrounding him pulled taut. “You in cahoots with Thousand Claws?”

    Shine gave her a puzzled look. “What are you talking about?”

    The Leafeon hummed to herself, and one by one, the grass knots unwound themselves from Shine’s body, and he could stand upright again. She smiled.

    “Congratulations, you passed the test. If you were one of them, you’d be too stupid to play dumb.”

    Shine stood on the balls of his feet, teeth bared.

    “Alright, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do, miss. Why did you attack me?”

    “Well, I didn’t attack you, just consider it a little rough-housing from me.”

    “That’s what I’d call an attack.”

    The Leafeon stuck her tongue out. “A rose by any other name, I guess.”

    “Marguerite!” The coarse voice called out again. The two turned towards the source and saw the face of a weathered-looking man behind the fence. “Don’t just stand there; when there’s a Claw that invades our turf, attack on sight!”

    “Excuse me,” Shine chimed in, speaking in his human tongue, “I don’t know what these Claws are supposed to be, but I’m certainly not one of them.”

    The man rubbed his forehead, mumbling to himself as he approached the end of his side of the fence. “Well blow me down,” he said, “How’d I get a talkin’ Pokémon outside my property?”

    “Never mind that,” Shine said, “Would you happen to know who Franc Lautrec is?”

    “You’re talkin’ to him right now,” Franc said, crossing his arms, “What’s it to you, though?”

    “I was hoping you’d tell me more about the Lucario that trespassed two days ago. I need to know where she is as soon as possible. Any information you might have on her will be very helpful.”

    Franc took his gloves off and cracked his knuckles. “Oh for the love of--” He cut himself off and sighed. “I thought I’d hear the end of that lousy Lucario. I guess you know her, then. If it’ll get her rotten ass out of this town, I might as well tell you what happened. I’ll open the fence.”

    Shine nodded and headed for the entrance alongside Marguerite, who didn’t hesitate to nudge his side once he and Franc were done talking.

    “Okay, I’m not surprised by a lot of things and I find that awesome. Not one, but two human speaking Pokémon in the same week? I’m pretty sure the world’s going to explode at this rate.”

    Shine looked to his side. “Wait, who was the other Pokémon?”

    “Curio, you dingus,” Marguerite said, giving him a wink.

    “Right.” Shine shook his head. He had to admit to himself it was rather stupid for him to say, of all Pokémon. But he moved on and advanced through the newly-opened gate. Franc was there to greet him as he gestured towards the path in front of them. They followed behind him, walking on the footpath surrounded by many different exotic looking berries. Shine took a whiff of them, only to be greeted with many different potent, sickly smells that tingled the senses. Franc stopped just beneath the windmill’s blades, and turned to point at his side towards a part of the fence.

    “See that there?” He said. “That’s where it climbed up. Can’t explain how. This fence was installed to keep Pokémon of its ilk from getting in at all.” Franc moved his finger downward, trailing through the mess of uprooted plants. “It ran through them silvervine plants there and ruined them. They hadn’t even finished growing and they’ve been there for two months. Now,” he motioned to the top of the windmill, “Usually to get up there, you have to go inside of it and through its machinery, then onto a balcony where you have to climb up yourself. Unless you have a mighty tall ladder, that’s the only way you can get up there. Not that Lucario though. I didn’t see it happen, but somehow it found a way to climb onto the blades! I’m surprised nothing else was broken after all of that!”

    “Excuse me,” Shine said, thumping his paw, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but I heard the report on her already. Would you happen to know where she went after, or if she came back here?”

    “Yes.” He pointed at something on the ground with the tip of his boot. “It left behind a bag on that day.”

    Shine gave him a pointed look.

    “Don’t ask me where she got it from, but it was in the way, so I had to store it in one of the sheds. I took a little peek in there and it was filled with all sorts of scraps. Opened cans, trinkets, broken equipment like bikes and bats, loose bits of paper. I could go on forever, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s in that bag. It was gone by next morning; guess she must’ve taken it back. Haven’t heard nothing about her since, good riddance.”

    “I see.”

    “That’s as far as my involvement goes with it. I’m sure you had something to do with it too though, Marguerite.” Franc said. “Why don’t you tell this lad here what business you had with the Lucario, hmm? Take a break while you’re at it.”

    Marguerite’s ears perked up suddenly as she leered at Franc. She looked at Shine once more, then turned to the exiting path.

    “I’d be pleased as punch to,” she said, more for herself than her trainer.

    “Thank you very much for the information,” Shine said, bowing.

    “Don’t mention it. Have fun with her.” Franc said with a grin.

    Shine followed Marguerite out the gate as Franc closed the gate behind them.

    “So Marguerite, is it?” Shine asked.

    “Ugh, just call me Leafeon. Franc has the worst taste for names.”

    “Right, what else happened that night?”

    “Well, she just appeared outside the fence again and asked me to give back her bag. She had some nerve asking me that, because that’s what any Pokémon would ask after destroying a trainer’s stuff. I said no, but she offered me something in return for it, so I thought screw it, why not?”

    “She did?”

    “Sure she did. Follow me.”

    Leafeon led the way to an odd looking patch of dirt in the midst of the green hill, which had a musky smell to it. Clearly, she had marked her territory. In any case, she dug through the ground, sending clumps of mud everywhere until she reached the bottom, and pulled out an object. It was an odd looking metallic Magikarp made with empty cans of Cheri Psycho Soda, with yellow bits of plastic sticking out for a tail and crudely molded wads of gum for the eyes. It was a ‘rare, unusual, or intriguing object’ or in other words, a Curio. Shine’s mouth went agape. It was just how she used to make it in GeL, perhaps even better, as he couldn’t see any adhesive marks.

    “That’s fantastic!” Shine said.

    “You could say that. Useless, but impressive for a Pokémon. You can have it if you want.”

    Shine wrinkled his nose at the suggestion, considering it was still marked with Leafeon’s scent.

    “I’ll pass for now, thanks. But, why did she give this to you?”

    “Beats me. Why does any Pokémon climb up another person’s windmill?”

    “Point taken. You wouldn’t have happened to hear anything else from her?”

    Leafeon shook her head. “Nope, she hasn’t come back here since.”

    “In that case,” Shine bowed to Leafeon, “Thanks, I’ll be on my way now.”

    “Wait a sec,” Leafeon said, “How long are you going to be chasing her tail for?”

    “As long as it takes me to find her before Wednesday.”

    “Then,” she gave him a serious look, “Find some shelter before midnight. Those Thousand Claws will get to you otherwise.”

    Shine didn’t know much about them, but something in Leafeon’s tone told him what it was about. “Are they a Pokémon gang?”

    “Bingo, and like their name, they have a lot of members in their gang. Not exactly thousand, but a lot. The leader can’t even count from what I heard, big shock.”

    “I see. I’ll be careful. Well, take care.”

    Leafeon nodded wordlessly as Shine turned made his way down the hill again.

    As he glanced over to the small landowners, who still looked cautious in his presence, he gained a new found understanding for the town's weird air. It wasn't unheard of to have Pokémon form gangs in the cities, and he experienced it a few times before in previous encounters, but they were only limited to a few dozen at the most, so they didn't cast much of a net. In that many numbers, no wonder the townsfolk were so apprehensive around him. Shine remembered the lack of a jingle by his neck and shook his head. 'Damn it, Bauble, why my collar of all things, especially here?"

    Once he reached the town centre again, he was a little more at ease as the passers by there didn't acknowledge his existence. But still, he was nowhere closer to finding Curio than he was earlier. He would have to do a lot of asking to find her whereabouts.

    ---

    After a couple of hours of greeting, bowing and apologising to random strangers, it was approaching sundown, and Shine found a link to one of Curio's regular spots through another trainer and his Greninja. Although he didn't know where she was exactly, the trainer made an offhand mention to seeing her at a pub he frequently took his Pokémon to called The Vine, a block away from the town square. Shine thanked them and found it not long after, although it was fairly hidden amongst the flashier neighboring shops.

    He entered, being greeted with the quietude of the late afternoon, with only a few young trainers crowded around the pool table, clearly not there for the drink. The only other noticeable figure was a Venusaur, most likely the place's namesake, plopped down on the corner of the bar counter above with its eyes closed. Shine padded over to it and crane his head up. It let one of its eyes open, looking down at him with a vacant expression.

    "Excuse me," Shine said,"Where's the Poke-room?"

    "At the back," the Venusaur said, and let out a mighty yawn before closing his eyes again. "On your right."

    Shine nodded and headed for the room in question, faced with a door with a crudely drawn Pokeball etched on the wooden doorframe. With one prod of his paw, Shine opened it, revealing a more lively scene to the ones inhabited by the humans.

    It was how Shine expected a local Pokeroom to be. There were a few cushions scattered around the floor with various Pokémon lying on them, a low table set with a Quilladin and a Delphox sat around it playing some sort of chess game, and a couch with a trainer and his Gligar lounging around on it, typing on their PokePad. When Shine entered, the Gligar immediately turned towards the door and grew wide eyed.

    “You’re Shine? Man, never thought I’d get the chance to see you!”

    It flew noiselessly from his trainer’s comfort to greet Shine, pointing his barb to the left of Shine’s face. He stood silently.

    “I was wondering what that eye looked like.” In the same breath, he retracted his tail in a sharp movement. “Whoops, how rude of me.” He stepped back and cleared his throat.

    “Name’s Barley,” he said in human tongue, “And I’m the co-manager of this little shindig, along with my trainer.”

    “Sup.” His trainer reached a lazy hand into the air, still fixated on his screen.

    Shine spaced out for a moment, trying to make heads or tails of what Barley just told him. If he knew his name, he must’ve known Curio for quite some time, long enough for her to tell him more about Shine than he himself would admit. And if he could speak the human tongue as well, then…

    “Are you just gonna stare at it?” Barley said, making a face. Shine shook his head, taking himself out of his own headspace, and shook paws with him.

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Barley,” Shine said in the same tongue. “I take it you’re a part of the PokeSpeaker’s Forum, then?”

    “Sure I am! But we can get that out of the way later.” Barley rubbed his paws in a quick motion. “What can I do for you? We’ve got cushions, snacks, toys, and a lot of board games if you’re into that sort of thing.”

    “Heh,” the Delphox snorted from across the room, “Three or four, more like.”

    “Well, I’m still working on that area. But yeah, if there’s anything you want, be our guest!”

    Shine had come a long way, and the empty feeling in his stomach only grew with each passing minute. But first, he had to address the Wailord in the room.

    “Actually, I’m here to see Curio. Can you tell me where she is?”

    Barley shrugged.

    “Sorry, she only came out a moment ago.”

    “You’re joking.”

    “Nope, she said she had business to take care of, whatever that means.”

    He sighed. After all that time looking around town, Shine was nowhere closer to properly meeting her than before.

    “Damn.”

    “Yeah, that is rather unfortunate. But, you’ve come to the right place, since she’s a regular visitor here. Hopefully, you’ll get to see her soon, so why not make yourself at home?”

    “Even so, I’m in a hurry to find her, so I’d rather not waste any time.”

    The Delphox huffed from across the room.

    “That’s probably not going to happen for two reasons. First, there are those Thousand Claws. If you catch yourself alone out there, they’ll come out all at once and capture you. And that’s not even the worst of it.” He stopped to knock over his opponent’s Pawniard, much to Quilladin’s chagrin.

    “Secondly, I have a little motto when it comes to that little vixen,” making a point of this, the Delphox turned from his seat and snapped his claws in the air. “You don’t find Curio, Curio finds you. Barley will tell you just as much.”

    Barley nodded, giving a worried look. Shine looked to his feet and thought it over. If he stayed where he was in that room, there was the chance that Curio would come back eventually, but that was no guarantee. His paws still bounced with the excitement of finding her. It was probably a lot smarter to stay out of danger for the night and continue on until yesterday, but would Curio have done that herself? Probably not. If he was to chase after her again, he would need to find a way to venture outside while keeping out of trouble. He sat close to the table the two starter Pokémon were playing at, giving him a view of the board. The Quilladin stared at the board, reaching a paw out to move one of his chess pieces, then retracted it soon after.

    “I’ve heard a few things about the gang,” Shine said, “but why here of all places?”

    “Haven’t a clue,” the Delphox shrugged, “I’ve only been here a few days tops while my trainer gets her contest business sorted out. I can’t wait for us to get out of this stinking town.”

    Barley glided over to the table next to Shine’s spot.

    “It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for them,” Barley chimed in, “As far as I know, it just happened. Quite a lot of Meowths bred on the outskirts of town, some migrated from the other cities, the strays already in this town joined forces and that’s how it came to be. Since then, they’ve wreaked all sorts of havoc across this town. Crops are being ruined left and right. Fights have been started. They’ve even stolen wallets before.”

    Shine gave him a pointed look. “What do they need wallets for?”

    The Quilladin raised his paw in the air, drawing Shine’s attention to him. He gestured at a row of chipped teeth.

    “Why’d you think they left me this little present? Because they can.”

    “Yes, we’ve heard about it about five times already,” the Delphox said, pointing to the chessboard, “I’m still waiting on your turn.”

    “I’m thinkin’ on it, okay?”

    Barley tugged on Shine’s shoulder, giving him a grave look.

    “You can see why it’s such a problem, and nobody knows what to do with it, not even the police. And they’ve done worse. Sometimes, when I glide over town during the day, I see...” He hesitated, then continued in a low voice, “Dead bodies in the alleys. Only small Pokémon like Rattatas and such, but with so many in their gang, they could do it to any Pokémon no matter how big or small.”

    Shine looked deeply into Barley’s eyes, which were misty, and it felt as if the Gligar would’ve broken down any minute. He hummed to himself.

    “That’s news to me,” Shine said, “I read the papers every week and I haven’t heard anything like that in Dendemille. I only read about Curio’s little incident today.”

    Thankfully, Barley’s worried look broke off into laughter.

    “Oh, yeah. That’s probably the most exciting thing that’s happened in this town since the gang came in. There might’ve been something about the Claws a month ago or so, but that’s old news now.”

    “It seems like she’s made a name for herself already here.”

    “You think?” The Delphox chimed in. “You don’t get to see her kind every day, especially not with that arm.”

    “Oh yeah,” Barley said, looking expectantly at Shine, “I know she’s mentioned you before as an old friend, but you must know a lot more about her than we do. She never tells us anything, but now you’re here, what is the story behind that arm of hers anyway?” The other two Pokémon stopped their game to stare at Shine, who all gazed at him with a shared curiosity. Shine suddenly felt a lump in his throat.

    The circumstances behind her arm weren’t something he wanted to remember. His other memories of GeL after the takeover were no exception, memories so painful that it left Shine in a state of shock whenever they suddenly crossed his mind. It took the gentle coaxing of Tony for him to confess what had happened there, and only after a few years of forming a close bond with one another as trainer and Pokémon. He might’ve slipped a few hints here and there to other Pokémon, including Bauble, but the only person he trusted to confide his secrets with was Tony. If there was one thing Shine could think back on for days, it was how Curio acted once Shine and his remaining crew took her to their rescue hideout.

    Ignoring everyone else’s reaction to her new arm, including Shine himself, Curio would stare at it and grip it for ages until Shine pulled her back into reality. To see his friend go nearly catatonic during the day was one thing, but having to gag her to stop her from screaming at night and giving away their location was another. When they had to rest for the night, Curio started thrashing about and wailing, repeating the word ‘stop’ over and over. It took his whole team to restrain her, and Curio kept fighting for ages until she was in a state to start talking again. What she told them about what happened, however, was not for any regular Pokémon’s ears.

    If Curio hadn’t told those Pokémon about it, all Shine could glean from it was that she repressed those memories on the same level that Shine had. He swallowed, and spoke clearly.

    “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything Curio hasn’t told you before, for her sake. None of us want to talk about it.”

    “Why not?” Quilladin exclaimed, “You’re the guy who--” The Delphox whacked the top of Quilladin’s head with his wooden staff. Before he could protest, the Delphox held a paw over his mouth.

    “Watch your tongue, sapling.”

    Barley’s barbed tail drooped behind him. Nevertheless, he smiled and placed a paw on Shine’s shoulder.

    “I understand. I won’t press her about it anymore.”

    Shine nodded in gratitude. If Shine learned anything from his experience at GeL, it was he was entitled to keep his secrets, and the same went for his friends as well.

    An awkward air filled the room after that. Shine sat there, digesting the information he was given as he watched the game progress. The Quilladin nursed his head, still trying to find a way to end his turn while the Delphox waited with bated breath. Barley crept over to the Grass Pokémon’s side and whispered in his ear. There was a glint in his eyes, and he slammed the Gardevoir, or in this case, Sirknight, over the opponent’s Bisharp. In the same breath, the Delphox made his move and overtook the Sirknight with his Nidoqueen.

    “What?” The Quilladin said, banging his paws on the table, “That’s not fair, I only just made that move!”

    The Delphox smiled. “So?”

    Shine budged out from his sitting place as the two argued back and forth. He wasn’t gaining anything by staying in this room, even if it was safer. It might’ve been preferable to the threat of the outdoors, but to him, getting to meet Curio was top priority, even if he had to find a way to sleuth around the city. For the journey, he took a few bites from the shared snack bowl and a quick swig of water, which restored a little of his energy. Before he could exit the room, however, Barley glided in front of him, giving him the same worried look he made earlier.

    “Are you sure you want to look for her at this time of night?” Barley said.

    “Are you going to stop me?” Shine said. He shook his head.

    “No, no, it’s your choice after all, just be careful, please. I don’t think Curio will want to see you end up as cat food, if it comes to that.”

    Shine gulped. Part of him secretly hoped Barley would try to put up some sort of fight if it was that severe. But the Gligar stepped aside and gave him leeway to exit.

    “One more thing,” he added, “What’s your name on the forums?”
    “’Congress-Of-Dunsparces’. I’ll be looking forward to go through it with my trainer once I get home, but for now, good luck keeping this place afloat.”

    Barley nodded and gave him a wide smile. “Will do. And safe travels, my friend.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
    DreamSayer likes this.
  4. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    I think you really excel when it comes to the side-characters, those people and Pokemon we meet for a very short time but they still leave an impression to you. I guess that might be the point of the fic, but I still want to tell you that you're great at it. They're all so real and colorful, I love it.

    Shine's personality and stubborness is a nice contrast to his politeness, you don't see characters like that very often. I'm super excited to see where the investigation takes Shine next time; hopefully not to the Thousand Claws.

    Great job with this one!!
     
  5. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    Thanks again, Alpar! The supporting cast seems to be the most consistent compliment I've gotten from my work!

    UPDATE: I added a little change of detail to the previous chapter ('silvervine plants' instead of 'grapevines') that helps explain some of the later actions of one of the characters.


    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 3. Dendemille’s Dealer


    When Shine came out, the sky turned a dusky blue with streetlights illuminating the paths before him. Aware of the dangers lurking in the shadows, he turned his golden vision on, making the outlines of the buildings a milky white and everything else transparent. Almost everyone and their Pokemon were confined in the buildings, settling down for the day. All except a few Pokemon that looked particularly feline, scattered in various alleys and little hideouts further away from the town centre.

    Shine took a deep breath, going through everything in his head that had already been ruled out about Curio’s whereabouts. The square was worth another check, but after that, it was safe to assume she wouldn’t be lurking there during the night. The windmill was out, as she likely had no reason to return there again. Everything else inside the town was out, as Shine asked around for hours with little to no results. Even with his ability to see through objects, Curio was nowhere in his view.

    Even with Barley and his friends back at the Vine, she was just as elusive to them as she was to every other stranger in Dendemille. She told them little about herself. With that, more questions swirled around in Shine’s head. What was she doing there in the first place? When did she arrive? Did she have somewhere to stay? Then the Delphox’s motto played back in his head.

    ‘You don’t find Curio, Curio finds you.’

    Shine shook his head. He shifted his focus back to the hollow streets he stood in the middle of. He was still safe while he was nearby the openly lit pub, but once he ventured further into the darkness, his undivided attention would have to go towards keeping out of harm’s way, somehow. With nowhere else to go except forward, Shine took one slow step into the night, mentally repeating the motto like a mantra.

    The trip to the square was easy, as he spotted none of the Claws lurking about on the way there or nearby the centre. His hope was that there was still a stall open that had more information. But when he reached the square, all of the tables had cleared out and the camper vans had driven away, leaving an entire section of the area empty. The only other human activity happening was the nightlife, and even then, they stayed isolated inside the pub windows that cast a warm orange glow out to the cold open. After minute of combing through humankind and Pokemon alike, he found no results. Although there was one Lucario sitting idly beside its trainer in a booth at a pub named Charizard’s Spit, it certainly wasn’t Curio, as its left arm would be transparent if that was the case.

    However, it still had the power of aura, which was a step beyond Shine’s night vision. While a Luxray was limited to its sight, a Lucario’s aura could easily stretch beyond that, for hundreds of meters and miles in exceptional cases, even with closed eyes. Curio wasn’t special in terms of her aura, but it cast such a wide net that she could practically read the thoughts of all of those back in GeL, which she did. But if that was the case, Curio would’ve found Shine by now. What if...

    Shine sighed and made his way towards the door. The possibility that Curio was avoiding him wasn’t something he wanted to consider, or worse.

    The place was a lot more lively than the Vine in terms of its patrons where a lot more adults chatted around the counter holding all sorts of various liquids in shots, pints and pitchers, with a few younger trainers sat in various places drinking soda. Shine wrinkled his nose at it as he walked through the bar area, thinking back to the sickly smells of the vineyard. It didn’t take long for him to find the Lucario, who was sat in a corned amongst different young trainers and their Pokemon, tracing its paw on the rim of an empty glass. Eventually, it looked up and the two made eye contact with one another, which was quickly broken as it made a face and tugged on its trainer’s shoulder.

    “What’s wrong?” The young girl asked. Without a word, the Lucario pointed to Shine, bringing her into contact with Shine. She glared at him, putting a hand over the Lucario’s chest.

    “What do you want with my Pokemon?” She said.

    He hoped for a more tactful introduction as he had business with the Lucario alone, but he remembered most trainers weren’t as lax as Tony was, so he had to remedy it with a polite greeting. He approached them slowly and bowed his head.

    “Sorry Miss,” he raised his voice to speak over the commotion, “I don’t mean to alert you but I have something I’d like to ask Lucario if you have the time.”

    Her eyes almost leapt out of her sockets.

    “Oh, yeah yeah, sure...” Her voice trailed off as she scurried past out of the booth. “I’ll get us both something, just give me a minute, okay Luccy?”

    Luccy rapidly nodded its head and its trainer reached out for its glass, leaving the two in their own company. The Lucario stared at Shine with its mouth agape.

    “You c-can speak?” He stuttered.

    “Yes,” Shine said back in his own tongue, “But never mind that. I’m looking for someone important to me and I need your help. Do you sense a Lucario with a metal arm named Curio nearby?”

    “I--” Luccy covered his own mouth. He balled his paw into a fist before letting it fall to his lap, and looked to his side.

    “S-s-sorry, I have no id-d-dea what you’re t-t-talking about.”

    Shine grunted. Although he would take most things at face value, one look at him made it obvious he was hiding something. He leered at the Lucario, something he hadn’t had to do in a while.

    “I can’t stress this enough. It’s very important for you to tell me the truth if it helps me find her. I know you of all Pokemon can find her even if your aura isn’t very strong, and I know she’s around these parts; she couldn’t have gone outside this town already. So tell me where she is, please, sir Luccy.”

    Luccy broke out into a sharp fit of laughter.

    “I’m t-t-teling you, I d-d-don’t know them. I mean, a Luc-c-cario with a metal arm, that’s stupid!”

    Shine leaned in as close as the space could allow on the opposite side of the table, stopping him from outright pouncing on the Lucario. Shine was starting to run out of options and this was his only lead. Otherwise he would have to throw himself to the chaos of the night blindly. Shine took a deep breath and sat back down on the bench.

    “If you don’t tell me where she is,” Shine said, “Then I’m afraid we’ll have to take this outside, your trainer be damned. I have to apologise for this, but for the final time, I can’t let this opportunity pass me by. So tell me now and--”

    Luccy gasped and pointed to his trainer. Shine turned to see the girl, holding two pints of cola with wide eyes.

    “What’s going on here?” she said. Shine smiled to her, trying his best to look genuine.

    “Hello again Miss,” Shine replied, “I was hoping for sir Luccy to give me some information, but now you’re here, I’m trying to find another Lucario wielding a metal arm, if you’ve seen her recently.”

    The trainer’s eyes drooped and she thunked both glasses on the table, sitting next to Luccy who clutched her arm. She gave him a look.

    “Calm down. I’ll explain for you.” Luccy still didn’t let go.

    “We’d rather not talk about it, for Luccy’s sake. I don’t wanna fight you for it if you have nothing else to say.”

    Shine blinked. This was his last chance to get a response out of them, and to do that, he would have to come up with something desperate, even if it was a lie. Not having seen her for five years wasn’t a good enough excuse as it required a long winded explanation of his plans. He took another breath and tried to give his best performance.

    “My friend Curio is lost, and me and my trainer’s team have been trying to find her for days. We were originally supposed to pass by here straight to Anistar when she started an argument and left in a huff, and she tends to create trouble when she’s in a bad mood. I apologise for anything of ill she’s caused you, but we’ve been trying to remedy that by getting her to come back with us. It’s only in her nature, I’m sure you understand, so please, it’s important to fix the mess we made if it will help her stop causing havoc and trespassing windmill sites.”

    Luccy started tugging on her shoulder.

    “That’s not t-t-true, he’s lying, he’s a bald faced liar, please!”

    His cries of protest came out as nothing more than animalistic whimpers which only Shine and his kind could understand. Shine felt the familiar twist in his stomach, seeing how desperate the poor Lucario was, but there were more pressing issues at hand than a wounded conscience. The trainer held up her hand to him and he stopped. Then, she gave Shine a friendly smile.

    “Well, I did see her pass by the square to that path that leads to the outskirts just ten or so minutes ago, but that’s about it. Something must’ve happened between these two because I don’t know why, but Luccy started growling and chasing her tail. I mean, you went straight for it, didn’t you?” She placed her hand on his paw. “You must be spooked by something if I had to stop you like that, huh?”

    He hummed to himself, letting go of her arms at last and cast a sullen look at his glass. The trainer sniggered and took a sip of her own.

    “This is kinda sudden, you know. I thought the metal arm was strange, but here I have a Pokemon I don’t know of that can speak like us!” She rubbed her temple. “I guess lightning’s gonna strike down on my head next time I go out.”

    Shine let a chuckle escape his lips. He admitted to himself that was funnier than the trainer thought.

    “I understand. To be honest, I’m finding this all strange myself, but let’s get back on track. You stopped Luccy and...”

    “And that’s it. He calmed down soon after, and now we’re having a few drinks before we take on the next gym in Anistar, just like you. Well, not drink drinks but, you know.”

    Flushing a hot pink, the trainer took a swig of the cola and exhaled. Along with her, Luccy chugged the entirety of his drink in one go, letting out a series of quiet hiccups. Shine had sussed out that the Lucario knew about Curio and received a hint to her whereabouts, but he still had the gut feeling to do some more prodding.

    “Well, thank you for your time,” Shine said, bowing, “I’m rather new to this place, so I think I’ll need someone to point me in the right direction of those outskirts.”

    “Right, right,” the trainer said, “You know, I dunno if I can describe it so easily.” She stopped and grabbed ahold of Luccy’s paw again. “Can you show this nice Pokemon the way?”

    Luccy darted his eyes back to Shine, then back to his trainer, and sighed.

    “If I must,” he said, more for himself than his trainer.

    “Thanks!” She shook it and made some room for the Lucario to scurry out of the booth. Shine didn’t wait for him to show him out before heading for the door.

    “And don’t stray out too far! Those Claws are dangerous!”

    Luccy gave another low grunt from far away before joining Shine out through the door. Once they were out, Shine turned to Luccy, whose paws tightened into fists.

    “Um, d-d-do you mind if I do something quickly?”

    The knot in Shine’s stomach tightened. He took a deep breath, preparing himself for what was about to come.

    “Go ahead,” he said, “I’m sorry if--” A ball of aura flew past his face, only brushing past Shine’s mane.

    “If you wanted a free hit, you could’ve just said so.”

    “Yeah, I know, b-b-but--” Luccy paused, waving his arms in the air, “That was so unfair! You can’t do that to me, you never lie to a Lucario!”

    Shine merely shook his head.

    “Again, I must apologise, but lies beget lies. Unlike you, I can let a lie pass me by if the person is skilled at it. You, however, aren’t. Now please, for the last time,” Shine gave Luccy his familiar glare, “Tell me what you know about Curio.”

    Luccy grumbled, pulling on the appendages behind his head.

    “Oh dear, I guess there’s no point hiding it, now you got my trainer to spill it.” He let out a sigh. “You know what, though? I hate that Lucario's guts. Whenever she passes me by, she feels the need to poke me with that arm.” He paused, rubbing his own arm. “I get goosebumps whenever I feel that cold thing. Not only that, I can’t pass her by without her saying something like ‘Hey Lu-lu-luccy, how’s your st-st-stutter today?’ When I saw her back there, it was the last straw with me, you know. If you don’t mind me saying so, I wanted to swipe that smug little face off.”

    Shine closed his eye and exhaled. From experience, Shine knew the kind of face he was on about. And she wasn’t above a little banter. But in any case, for someone who didn’t know her that well to say such things, Shine fought back the urge to pounce on him again. Luccy gave him a nervous smile.

    “Hey, s-s-sorry. I can sense your aura. Nobody likes having someone else insulting someone you c-c-care about. I just don’t understand her.” He cast a glance to the road and rubbed his paws together. “She just creeps me out. Not just that arm, but her aura. It’s like nothing I’ve felt before, just a whirlwind of emotions and random thoughts without any way to read into them. I sense many dark secrets from her, and you as well, like you both have been through something terrible. It’s like--”

    “Excuse me,” Shine said, thumping his paw on the pavement, “I’m in a hurry. Do you sense her close by or not?” Luccy looked up and alert, pointing to a path to the left of them.

    “Go straight up that path to Route 15, and you’ll see her on the outskirts there. I can see she’s adding something to something. I think she’s lighting a fire. It’s kind of hard to--”

    “Alright, thank you!”

    Without turning back, Shine sprinted for the path and kept running. His heart pumped. His breaths were light. His heavy paws pounded on the pavement and echoed through the streets. That was it. He had finally found Curio, the Riolu that confided in him when he had isolated himself, the Lucario that would listen to him read from an encyclopedia for hours and never get bored of it, and the Lucario that comforted him when he had recovered from losing his eye. As the momentum of his four limbs carried him, he could see himself catching up to her any second, even if he couldn’t see her with his naked eye.

    Shine’s ears twitched. He could hear the pitter-patter of paws from a distance behind him. As he ran more and more, it got louder, turning from faint slithers of noise to an assortment of marches sounding in different rhythms. Shine didn’t look back, but felt his heart quicken and continued running. If he could stop, he would’ve cursed himself for his oversight, but it was too late from him to back down.

    As Shine could finally see the border that separated the town from the route, he sprang forward and sprinted, but his movements became erratic, no longer going in a straight line. The sounds of the Claws behind him went from marches to stomps as their paws slapped the floor. Shine still focused on his goal, not taking an eye off the gate. One look through his golden vision would’ve told him everything.

    “Night Slash!” A voice shrieked.

    A hot streak of red tore through Shine’s leg, staggering him instantly. His face met the concrete. Without thinking, Shine clambered his way forward with his forepaws. He only covered a few paces before a mass of paws grabbed him by his uninjured leg. They spoke amongst themselves, all understanding obscured by a cacophony of dozens of mewling voices. They dragged him away. Shine could see the shape of the lit border disappear behind a brick wall, and was dragged into the darkness of the alleyway.

    “Right guys, I wanna good look at his mug!”

    Shine tried to squirm his way away. However, many sets of paws pinned him down, only giving him leeway to move his head and swish his tail. Another set of paws picked him up by his side and flipped him over, giving a full view of the Thousand Claws for him to see. Shine took a deep breath, and prepared himself.

    It wasn’t quite a thousand, not even by a quarter, but it was still a lot.

    A mix of shadows blended into one another, all shifting at the sides of the walls. Although he hadn’t adjusted to the dark immediately, one thing that stuck out to him was the stench, somewhere halfway between wet fur and rotten eggs, which made him gag. One look with his golden vision revealed all. Various cat Pokemon crowded around the sides, all marked with scars and fur discoloured with garbage and grime, sitting in formation around a Meowth.

    It looked perhaps the most battle scarred out of the group, with three massive orange streaks covering its face save for its eyes, two thin irises of bright blue. It sniffed around him, poking its nose in various places on Shine’s body, who was still pinned down by the gang before him.

    “Say,” the Meowth said in a masculine high pitch, “Ya smell awfully nice, ya know. Not like us. We can’t getta decent place to bathe. We don’t even wanna lick ourselves clean, we’re that awful. But youze,” he stopped to course his calloused paws through Shine’s mane, “Youze is very smooth, and soapy. There’s only one type-a Pokemon that smells like that around here, izzat right?”

    A few weak mewls came from the stray pack.

    “So, where’s your trainer, huh? Seems like the kinda fella that has a lot of dough. Tell ya what, why don’t you walk us over to him, huh?”

    Shine grunted, his leg still throbbing from the open wound.

    “And how do I do that after you injured my leg?”

    To that, the Meowth frowned and swiped a claw across Shine’s face. Only a scratch.

    “Did I say ya could talk back? Hell no, you don’t realise who you’re messin’ with! This is our turf!”

    More mewling came from the circle.

    “Come on, least you can do is tell us!”

    Shine sighed and simply stated, “He’s nowhere near this town.”

    The Meowth tugged on Shine’s mane, pulling him closer to his face.

    “Whaddya mean, he’s nowhere near this town? What’re you doin’ here then, huh?”

    “That means I have nothing to offer you. Now, if you let me go, I have places to be, forget the leg.”

    “Like I said, that doesn’t tell me nuthin’! Don’t screw with me like--” The Meowth’s eyes widened and he let go of Shine’s mane. He held a paw close to his face and muttered to himself before turning to the rest of the pack, speaking in a chaotic chorus. When he turned, the Meowth hissed at Shine, making every other member join him in unison.

    “So you’re one of them, huh?” The Meowth darted over to Shine. He threw another swipe at him. Instead of a scratch, it was a punch, clocking Shine across his jaw. Shine groaned as the Meowth pulled him up by his mane again.

    “You’re the kindsa Pokemon I hate da most, the kindsa Pokemon that act so high and mighty on their own, the kindsa Pokemon that think they can jus’ waltz anywhere they like without trouble! Ya wouldn’t be nuthin’ if it wasn’t for your trainer, you’re nuthin’ but a pet!”

    Punch after punch flew across Shine’s head. He gritted his teeth, withstanding the blows and trying to find some other way out of the situation. Although he couldn’t move his body, his tail was still free. He wagged it back and forth, charging up the static field around his body.

    Zap. Shine released his charge, shocking everyone that restrained him, including the Meowth. The rest of the Claws let go, vibrating on the floor. The Meowth stood, shaking rapidly. Without hesitating, Shine stood up and limped his way out of the alleyway. His leg burned from the still open wound. There was no time to think. He sprang towards the border, gritting his teeth as he focused on getting closer to Curio, bad leg or not.

    The familiar sets of paws stomped behind him. He didn’t turn back. Shine got closer and closer, and finally, like Luccy said, he could see plumes of smoke rising up into the night sky. Curio.

    All at once, the Claws tackled him. A dozen sets of calloused paws smothered his back and dug into the skin. They hissed and growled, tearing new open wounds in various places around Shine’s body. With each new cut, he sent screams that echoed into the night. Each attempt at storing up electricity was interrupted with more flashes of pain. They stopped, pinning him down to the ground for their leader to stagger in front of Shine, blocking his view of the border. The Meowth caressed the part of Shine’s face where his eye socket had closed over.

    “Ya know, I wonder what happened to that eye of yours.”

    Shine gasped, knowing full well where this was going. The Meowth smiled and pointing a claw at his remaining eye.

    “Don’t matter. Now you’ll have a matching set.”

    No matter how hard he tried to free himself from his grasp, the other Claws held his head back too, preventing him from even tilting it. With no options left, Shine braced himself for the impact. The moment lasted a few seconds, but it felt like minutes to Shine. In that time, he reflected on the journey that brought him there so far, and how he ended up going from the comfort of Tony’s home to facing his death.

    After his birth in GeL, Shine wasn’t given a name yet, rather, he was just a Shinx. When the other Pokemon came and shared their stories with him of how they got there, he had nothing to tell. He knew they had parents, which they were either whisked away from or chose to abandon in order to join GeL, but he didn’t. No matter how much the other Pokemon born in GeL comforted him or how much the staff tried to get him to socialise with the other Pokemon, he left himself alone, curling up in a ball in his dormitory, sometimes refusing to eat. Then came Curio.

    From then on, they helped each other out whenever they struggled with GeL’s programmes. For Shine, Curio offered to be his sparring partner when no one else would. And vice versa whenever Curio struggled to grasp a subject taught in one of her classes. Over the next four years, everything was fine. Until they came along. The rest after that was a blur, up until the point Tony met him.

    Would the news even reach Tony back home? Would humans find his body and report on it like the columns Shine read in the obituaries? Of course not. Millions of Pokemon died every day. What would his death mean to anyone else except for Tony, his trainer, and Curio, another Pokemon? Would she find his body somehow? She was right over there while he was still pinned down. What was she doing?

    With all of these questions left unanswered, Shine felt hot tears drip down his fur.

    ---

    A cloud of sugar and sweet tea wafted in the air. Shine sniffled. One whiff of it distracted him from his fate and brought back memories of the vineyard and all its familiar smells. He opened his eye. All of the Claws in front of him, including the leader, turned their heads towards the border, sniffing in the air. One by one, the Claws wandered into the distance in a pack. The Meowth took a few paces before he turned around with a wide smile on his face.

    “Hey, hey, don’t forget him, we still gots business with him! Dat smell though...”

    He joined the rest of the pack, cackling as he padded over to the source of the smell, while a set of paws lifted Shine off his feet and slowly carried him. He shivered with all the cuts around his body, and he fell limply into the paws of his captors. His eye flickered open and shut. Everything in his system was telling him to sleep, but the thoughts of Curio kept him awake. As long as he got to see her, he could die happy.

    The rest of the trip continued like this, drifting between alertness and sleepiness. Eventually, Shine closed his eye for a moment and caught a wink of sleep. Then a glow of orange burned into his retina. When he next awoke, there she was. The Lucario with the metal arm. The Lucario that hanged out with strangers at night. The Lucario that wrecked the crops in the vineyard. His friend, Curio.

    She stood tall above the fire, arms outstretched in the air. Her left arm looked the same, with the same five fingers that stood out from her paw. In her right paw, she held a bag that hung heavily at the bottom. The fire lit her face from the side, the light madly shining across her face.

    “Come one, come all, ya lucky bastards!” She presented the bag to the Claws that crowded around her feet. “This is what you’ve been lookin’ for, a bag full of catnip, silvervine and many other things to stuff your faces with!”

    She lowered it for a moment, and raised it in the air when all the other Claws climbed up her paws, trying to get to it. She cast a glance at the bag.

    “What’s this? You want it all, huh? Well, I guess I could hand it to you here, buuuuuuut...” She turned to the leader, who drooled at the sight of the bag. “I think you have somethin’ of mine you need to return first. So how ‘bout it?”

    The Meowth stared for a moment before slapping himself in the face, pulling him out of his catnip-induced reverie. “Yeah, yeah, sure, we ain’t had much use for him anyhow. So we’ll take the bag now and--”

    “Ah, ah, ah, one thing I forgot to mention, there’s something else you’ve gotta do before you earn this.” Her cheerful expression dropped and relaxed to a grin. “Get outta this town and split up.”

    “What?” the Meowth exclaimed, pointing a claw towards her. “You’re on the freakin’ moon if you expect us to do that, this is our town! And what’s it to you, you don’t care about what we do anyway!”

    Curio absent-mindedly picked at her ears, holding the bag close to her. “Well, I guess that’s true in a way. I don’t care about what you do to get by, every Pokemon’s gotta fill their bellies somehow.” She looked down at them and bared her teeth. “So far though, you guys have been like pests. And I’ve seen pests like you that’ve done less crappy things in the cities, and you know what happens to them?”

    “What?”

    “They get exterminated.”

    At that, the Meowth’s eyes widened and the pack took a few paces back behind her to join him.

    “W-what?”

    “You heard me. To the police, your kind are nothing but vermin. What’s the point of keeping a bunch of pests alive if they can’t reason with them or get them to stop otherwise? So when someone finally gets off their ass here and the big shots from the cities come down to Dendemille to deal with the situation with all their Growlithes, you know what’ll happen to you?”

    The Meowth stared at her, mouth agape. Curio sighed.

    “Cat got your tongue? Okay, I’ll answer for you. They’ll char your bones to dust.”

    All of the Claws cowered before the leader, who himself was shaking. The Meowth turned to the rest of his gang, conversing in shrill mewls. Then they stood in formation around their leader, hissing at Curio.

    “Ya-ya can’t threaten us, who da hell d’ya think you are, ya dumbass! My Claws will tear ya to shreds and--” He gasped as Curio held the bag over the fire.

    “Oh, I’m sorry!” Curio said in a mocking tone, leaning closer to the gang as the bag hanged over the flames. “I don’t play that sort of game. Lay a finger on me or Shine and I’ll drop the bag! Just think of it. You’ll probably never get this chance again in your miserable lives. So I give you two options. Leave us alone and never come back, or watch all of this burn! I can just picture it. You’d toss yourself into this fire just to get one more taste of this! So what’s it gonna be, huh?”

    The gang backed down again, and the Claws along with their leader stood motionlessly.

    “Come on, I ain’t got all day. Oh!” Curio exclaimed and covered her mouth with her metal arm. “Maybe you need something to motivate you. How’s this, then?”

    Curio stepped back and outstretched her metal arm towards the group, giving them a full view of the palm of her hand which had a red spot in the middle of it. The gang kept their eyes tracked on the movement of her hand as she aimed it at them.

    The red spot opened like a gate, revealing its metallic insides. Then, a blue ball of energy grew from the inside of it. The gang behind the Meowth screamed at the sight of it, backing further and further away from their leader. Shine could see his soul through his eyes. He joined him in his surprise.

    “Wanna see what this arm can do?”

    The Meowth started hyperventilating and fell on his knees. He held out both his paws in front of him.

    “Okay, okay, okay, I’ll bite, we’ll take the damn bag and leave, jus’ stop whatever you’re doin’! Stop!”

    The sphere disappeared and the hole in her hand closed over. She smiled.

    “There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

    She threw the bag to the ground, revealing a pile of little bags of powder, flowers and colourful looking fruits. In an instant, the gang poked their heads into the bag and left one by one, heading towards the forest. Eventually, the group that held Shine let go as well, dropping his limp body on the grass as they joined the rest. The Meowth was the last to join, who retrieved a silvervine fruit and cupped it in his paws. Before he left, he turned to Curio.

    “I thought you was crazy, but you’re not even that! You’re insane!” Just like the rest, the Meowth ran towards the route and disappeared into the night.

    A moment passed between them. Shine kept himself silent, not knowing what to say. Curio cast a glance at Shine’s direction. There she was. Her green eyes that seemed to glow in the dark and the scar that stretched across her face. It was the first time they made eye contact in five years. Then, Curio’s face broke out into laughter.

    “Holy crap, I can’t believe that actually worked! Just goes to show how stupid they were. So, what’s cookin’, Shine?”

    Shine tried to focus his eye on Curio, but the stinging sensation of the wounds got to him at last. Curio bent over, putting a paw on Shine’s mane.

    “Oh crap.”

    Before he could say anything in reply, Shine fainted.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
    DreamSayer likes this.
  6. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Ohhh I really like Curio!! I'm glad we're finally introduced, and I gotta say that's one hell of an entrance. I imagine a Fighting/Steel type would scare the crap out of a bunch of Meowths, but she also knows how to intimidate them verbally.

    The start of the chapter with Shine asking around and with the other Lucario was great as well, more of those small character moments this fic is full of, great job with that.

    Overall great chapter; I'll patiently await more.
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  7. DreamSayer

    DreamSayer Dreamzone Trainer

    Chapter 1 Review

    Hmm, I've only read chapter one so far, and I get the feeling that I'd like this story fairly well tbh. The story hints that Shiny and Curio used to be lab experiments of some kind, but maybe I'm misinterpreting that. It sure seemed that way though.

    The way Pokémon can apparently talk to humans normally took me a bit by surprise, and it's kind of odd despite it being a canon thing in other Pokémon media (Meowth for example). However, those cases are presumably rare while this story makes it seem kind of common place. I'm sure there are obvious problems with making things this way the more you think about it e.g. whether or not all Pokémon species have specialized vocal cords and mouth structures to allow to to pronounce all syllables,but I digress, the less one ponders over this, the better.

    Still, I wonder how long it'll take for Shiny to find Curio, and whether the story will revolve around that journey. I look forward to more. I'll pick up on the second chapter soon enough.
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  8. DreamSayer

    DreamSayer Dreamzone Trainer

    Chapter 2 Review

    I liked how this chapter continues to set up Shine's encounter with Curio, and we also got a fair bit of world building on Dendemille Town. Curio seems to be quite popular around those parts, and those tidbits of information we learn about her also add to her personality, even though we haven't met her yet.

    I wonder how an encounter between a Luxray and a thousand meowths would pan out. Can't wait to find out.
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  9. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    Thank you both for your comments, TheAlpar and DreamSayer!

    The Curious and the Shiny 4. Dendemille’s Mosher

    Shine floated in a warm, self-contained place. It had been a while since Shine last felt that sensation, and that was the day Tony finally got his trainer’s license, and therefore could legally own Shine. As a token of their partnership, Shine let Tony place him in a Pokéball for a few seconds.

    Whether it was a few seconds or however long Shine had been in the Pokéball at that moment, time didn’t exist. It might as well have been a microsecond or a year and it still would’ve felt the same to him in there. Just like his body. Even if he was as small as a Skitty or as big as a Wailord, he existed only as ephemera.

    Then click. A white light shone into the space and soon enough, Shine felt his paws touch the floor once again as everything came back to him. The Claws that tore at his body. The air that smelled of sugar. And...

    Curio stood to his right with her arms crossed, looking at something out of Shine’s view. When he darted his eye to the other person at the left, it was one of the nurses, except it clearly wasn’t Nurse Joy if the pink stubble was anything to go by.

    “Well,” Curio said in her distinct human tongue, “We free to go, now?”

    “Everything looks fine,” the male nurse said, “And his leg’s healed up now, so go for it.”

    “Awesome.” Without turning to meet Shine, Curio headed out of the treatment bay through to the main hall with her bag in tow, where Shine followed. His leg no longer burned when he applied pressure on it, but he found himself shambling out of the room to try and catch up with Curio, eventually walking by her side. The sunlight beamed in from the windows.

    Shine’s heart pumped rapidly. He was finally with Curio alone. But when he opened his mouth to speak, no words came out, even though he had plenty of questions, such as what Curio was doing and what day it was. Curio didn’t respond either, walking out of the Pokémon Centre into the bright Dendemille daylight. Only when they were out, Curio stopped and turned to face Shine for the first time.

    “Curio?” Shine said.

    “Yeah, it’s me,” Curio said with a frown, and knelt down to Shine’s level. “So, do you mind telling me what the hell you were thinking last night?!” She grabbed him by his shoulders and shook him violently.

    “I, uh, I was looking for you, I heard—”

    “Yeah, I know that much, Barley said you went looking for me, and that’s fine and all, but letting yourself become that Meowth’s ransom shouldn’t have been on your to-do list! So I’ll ask again, what were you thinking?”

    “Um,” Shine said. He pieced together last nights events quickly under Curio’s gaze, and remembered he ran into the streets when he heard of her whereabouts. Finally, he let out a defeated sigh.

    “Sorry, what I did was stupid. I looked for you all day and found nothing, so when Luccy told me, it must’ve gotten to my head. I had no excuse.”

    Curio gave out a long groan. “You idiot.” Then, she burst into laughter and wrapped her arms around Shine’s body. “Stupid, crap for brains, idiot.” She leaned in closer to Shine to the point where the tip of her spike touched his chest. He trusted her enough not to impale him.

    “Oh sunshine, it’s good to see you again.”

    It had been ages since Shine heard that name. He smiled and stood on the tips of his hindpaws, joining Curio in her embrace.

    “And you. I don’t even know where to start. How did you escape? What were you doing all this time? How did you end up here? Why—"

    "Oh c'mon, we'd be sitting here all day if I told you everything here." Curio released Shine and the two made eye contact again. "Besides, I've got places to be."

    "You do?" Shine said, cocking his head.

    "Yeah," Curio said as she stood up, "Nothing important, so let's just walk and talk for now. That’ll be a surprise for later.” Curio turned and started walking as Shine followed by her side.

    Again, Shine was at a loss for what to say. He glanced at a few of the passers-by on his side, who paid no attention to the two strutting Pokémon. However, Shine noticed the citizens were less downcast and more eager to smile. Then he remembered how apprehensive they were around him when the Thousand Claws still inhabited the city. That was a good place to start.

    “Sorry you had to drag me to the Pokémon centre,” he said, “I wish we met under less desperate conditions.”

    “Well,” Curio said, “Them’s the breaks, I guess. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with those guys ever again. Hopefully.”

    “You mean you don’t know?”

    “Eh, they’re slower than a sea of Slowpokes, but I’m sure they get the hint.”

    “Still, it’s amazing you knew exactly what to do.”

    “Wanna know something even more amazing? I didn’t know. That was just a fluke as far as I’m concerned.”

    “But—”

    “Anythin’ could’ve gone wrong. What was stopping them from just pouncing on me and killing me to take the bag right away, huh?”

    Curio stuck her tongue out.

    “They were so damn annoying. I couldn’t find a place to sleep at night the first few days I was here. I shook ‘em off eventually, but before that, it was mostly rough sleeping, more than any other city I’ve been to in this region.”

    “Well,” Shine said, looking up at her, “I’d love to hear it all someday. It sounds like you’ve been on so many adventures already.”

    The disgust flushed itself from Curio’s face and she gave Shine a toothy grin.

    “You bet. I’m not even braggin’ when I say I usually do more in a week than most people do in a lifetime, both people and Pokémon. Oh, we’re here!”

    Curio stopped outside a glass window with the silhouette of a Pikachu on a sign hanging by the rafters. They opened the door as a bell rang past them. As Shine walked in, he sniffed at the different scents of coffee beans, cheese and buttermilk wafting from the kitchen, and his stomach rumbled. He hadn’t eaten since his excursion to the inn the night before. Curio scoffed.

    “Hold on just a second, they’re upstairs.”

    “They?” Shine added.

    A uniformed girl dashed out from behind the counter, and a Pikachu bounced behind her.

    “Sorry,” she said, “I’ve gotta run! Have fun!”

    The Pikachu gave a shrill cry of goodbye as the girl exited the cafe, then turned to the two patrons and bounced up and down on the floor nearby Curio’s legs.

    “Curio!” he said, “Continuing lesson, yes?”

    She nodded. Pikachu glanced at Shine briefly and scurried behind Curio, poking his head out with a perplexed look.

    "Never seen Pokémon like that before! What are you?"

    "A Luxray." Shine said. "My name is Shine. It's nice to meet you, fellow Pikachu."

    "Ooh, Shine! Shine! Love that name!" Pikachu skittered across the carpet and climbed on top of the counter again, disappearing behind the workspace. Shine looked around the yellow painted insides of the cafe. Nothing too memorable. The locals were focused on themselves, seemingly ignoring the presence of the Pokémon there.

    "Nice place," Shine said.

    "Eh."

    Shine followed Curio to the counter where a tanned pudgy man leaned behind it, waving at her with a hairy arm.

    “Ay!” he said, “What’s the plan for today?”

    “Same as before,” Curio said, “Say, can you fix up something for my friend here?”

    The man peered over the bar and looked down to Shine, moustache twitching.

    “That depends if his kind is lactose intolerant.”

    “Actually,” Shine said in human tongue, “I’ve had plenty of dairy myself and I can safely say I’ve never had any problems with it.”

    The man gave him a wide smile. “Just my luck, another one! Barley knows how to pick ‘em!” He stopped to lift the bar stand and waved at the two, disappearing into the hissing coffee machines. Shine followed Curio into a barren looking break room with a low cut table in the middle and a small bed filled with plushes in the corner where Pikachu sat. Shine sat on the floor beside the table next to Curio.

    “I never thought of you as a teacher.” Shine said.

    “You’re givin’ me too much credit, you know. I just go wherever Barley has work for me, talk to the Pokémon for a bit and get half a day’s grub out of it. Beats killing to get by.”

    Shine winced.

    “I know the feeling.”

    The two chatted idly until the pudgy man stomped in with a basket of croissants and the Pikachu jumped up to the end of the table. He laid them at the centre.

    “I’ll get some water too!”

    The man left the three Pokémon to their breakfast. Pikachu immediately tore into it, leaving a mess of flakes on the surface. Curio took a few paws worth of croissants and laid some on the floor beside Shine while she attended to hers. When Shine nibbled at the tip of his croissant, he bit into a layer of creamy cheddar. He looked over to Curio with a wide eye.

    “This is stunning, Curio!” He said as Curio held hers with her right paw.

    “Right? I couldn’t have picked a better place to teach if I tried!” She took a big bite out of one end and pulled back, a string of cheese dangling from the middle of the pastry.

    After Shine finished eating every last morsel of croissant he could and drank his fill from a bowl, he was full again. He yawned and felt satisfyingly tired; with the tingle of cheese still on his tongue and the sweet smells drifting in from the kitchen, he could have curled up into a ball and slept on the spot right there.

    Before he could lose himself in his reverie, Curio’s knuckle rapidly rubbed at his head. Shine groaned.

    “You’re one sleepy bugger, aren’t you?”

    “What does a creature like me usually do after it’s had a nice meal? It’s only natural.”

    “Eh, excuses. You know, you could leave if you don’t want to stick around.”

    Shine shook his head.

    “Not after finding you. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Of course, he hadn’t told her about his plans to start teaching the Goodra back at Ambrette, but he put it aside for another occasion when he could speak to Curio about how he came to find her.

    “Suit yourself.” Curio shrugged and turned to Pikachu. She cleared her throat.

    “So,” she spoke in human tongue, “Been trainin’ recently?”

    Pikachu tapped his rosy cheek with a thoughtful expression. He opened his mouth to say something, but hesitated, then opened it again.

    “Little. Trainer is young.”

    “Is she even allowed to do that yet?”

    “No. She does it. Out school. Sometimes, train alone.”

    “What do you usually get to battle?”

    “Pokémon in street. Look to battle. I fight. Mostly lose.”

    “It ain’t easy when you’re starting out.”

    Pikachu nodded.

    “Feel so small. It is em...”

    Pikachu stopped, scrunching his face.

    “Em-beer-ess-in.”

    “Em-barr-ass-ing,” Shine chimed in, “It’s pronounced embarrassing.” Pikachu gave Shine an unsure look, to which Curio leaned in and spoke in his ear.”

    “I’m not too hung up on that stuff yet,” Curio said, “Just let him speak as well as he can and he’ll get it right over time.”

    “But—”

    Curio pulled away from him and continued her conversation, the start of many to come. In the span of a few hours, they talked about things such as what Pikachu’s to-be trainer did outside of school, what his relationship was with her father, also the owner of the cafe, what friends Pikachu made out in the town square, how he started using Curio’s teachings to impress said friends, and a story about how Pikachu ended up being chased by a Purrloin at night and lived to squeak about it another day.

    What Shine noticed about the way Curio spoke to her student was how she would let them go uninterrupted without correcting them for ages, despite their many odd pronunciations and grammar mistakes. Although he had the urge to interrupt, he suppressed it and thought about how he would go on to teach the dragon horde later. Instead, he listened into the conversation and joined in occasionally to ask Pikachu a few questions of his own.

    When the shift was over, Curio stood up and said her goodbyes to Pikachu as she exited out the back. Shine bowed to him one last time as he returned it with a wave, and followed after Curio into the sunlight. They walked out of the alleyway as Curio dribbled a can down the road.

    It was past noon and Shine still had a whole day and a bit left to get Curio to come back to Ambrette with him, which seemed harder the longer he hung out with Curio. She had a life in Dendemille, as she appeared to do well as a teacher, had built a reputation with the townsfolk and found plenty to do despite the town’s rurality.

    “Fancy goin’ down the park later?” Curio asked, interrupting his thoughts, “There’s supposed to be a band there! It's free!"

    “We could,” Shine said, “But I need to tell you something important.”

    Curio kicked hard, sending the can flying into the air, which landed in the distant streets.

    “Oh boy, here we go. Out with it, then.”

    “It’s about how I got here. Didn’t it seem odd to you that I just happened to be in Dendemille the same time as you?”

    “Not really. Could’ve just been complete coincidence as far as I care.”

    “Well, it was no coincidence. I saw you got into a bit of trouble with the owner of the vineyard on that hill.”

    “The what now?”

    “The mill.”

    “And?”

    “I was in Ambrette Town at the time. The day I saw the news, I flew into Dendemille to try and find you.”

    Curio stopped short of entering the road where cars passed by, and knelt down to Shine with a pointed look.

    “You don’t have wings, do you?”

    “No, but I looked all day to find you and.”

    “Jus’ cut to the chase Shine.”

    “Oh, I,” he stammered, “My trainer’s doing research on the GeL facility and we need to interview you all the way back in Ambrette.”

    At that moment, Shine saw that look in her eyes for the first time in years, the way her pupils dilated, making them look as if they were lost in a sea of green. It was the first time since they reunited that Curio looked visibly fearful. Not even the confrontation last night stirred her. She exhaled, as if she was about to say something, but set her eyes back on the road, wordless.

    Shine realised he just crossed a line. His approach might have been too direct, or that he essentially asked her to travel half the region with him unannounced, or that he reopened old wounds just with the mere mention of the word ‘GeL’. Shine saw the fingers on her metal arm twitch mechanically, clicking with each micro-movement. Then it stopped.

    “Damn it,” she said. Her tone was monotonous and raspy. “I knew you were going to say that. Was that what you came here for, then, to dig up the past?”

    “Absolutely not!” Shine protested. “I couldn’t believe my eye when I saw you alive. After everything that happened, all I wanted to know was how you were doing all this time. My trainer—”

    “Yeah yeah, I guess your trainer told you to come here and drag me over to him, huh? Just like any good Pokémon following its orders.”

    “I...” Shine’s maw hung open. Where was this all coming from? Shine knew Curio would be a little apprehensive to revisit her past, but this…

    “Shine,” she said, stopping his train of thought. “I need a moment alone. Meet me at that park later. Don’t follow me.”

    “Wait!”

    Curio stepped into the road, passing through two lanes of cars that stopped suddenly in a cacophony of honks, drivers shouting obscenities at her from open windows. Shine was about to run after her when the traffic continued, leaving him at that side of the road while Curio disappeared down the other. Shine was alone again.

    ---

    For the next hour or so, he wandered aimlessly through the streets in the hopes he’d eventually stumble across Curio. But like yesterday, the streets were sparsely populated, and the townsfolk and their Pokémon drifted in and out with indifference. His thoughts bubbled, thoughts of what he should have said, what he shouldn't have said, the way he said them, all stewing in a cauldron of blame and self pity. His movements slowed and at a certain point, he stopped, ignoring the passers-by.

    What stung the most was how suddenly it all happened, from Curio's transformation to her disappearing in seconds. He didn't know how the years changed her or how she moved on from the days of the tests, but he didn't expect for her to immediately reject his idea. He replayed the conversation back in his head, going back to the moment before Curio took off. Then his eye widened. She not only said that, she also referred to Tony as ‘him’. Shine continued walking, not paying attention to whoever was beside him. Why would Curio assume his trainer was indeed a he if Shine himself never said anything of the sort? There were three explanations. It was either coincidence, the power of her aura, or even worse, she had somehow met Tony before. How?

    A weight dropped on Shine’s back. He grunted, fumbling around for a bit before regaining his balance. Something tugged on the tufts of his back.

    “Hey eye-guy!” It was the Quilladin from last night.

    “Hello,” Shine said, shaking his shoulders, “Would you mind getting off of me?”

    “Mush, eye-guy, mush!” He pulled on his fur, making Shine thrash around in an attempt to shake him off. Before him, he saw the familiar barbed tail swishing in the air. Barley had come along too, perched on the shoulders of his trainer, who stared at his phone. He winked at the two other Pokémon.

    “You don’t want to be zapped, do you?” Barley said. The weight lifted off of Shine’s back and Quilladin scurried away beside the trainer’s legs.

    “What are you doing here?” Shine said.

    “Curio told us there was someone playing at the park soon,” Barley said, “We weren’t that busy so we thought, why not?”

    “I don’t suppose she said anything else, did she?”

    Barley shook his head. “She left. Again, she’s as elusive as ever. So I take it you managed to find her?”

    “Yes, last night,” Shine said with a sigh, “She won’t talk to me now. I must’ve upset her somehow.”

    “Well,” Quilladin chimed in, “You better come along with us and give us the spicy details!”

    Shine blinked. He was ultimately headed to the same place as them, and at that point, his legs were somewhat tired from dashing from place to place in vain.

    “I suppose.” Shine said.

    He joined the group, following behind Barley and his trainer along with Quilladin who walked by his side. The two partners chatted to each other in human tongue, mostly about club matters and partly about the local events the trainer found on the news. Although Shine couldn’t tell how Barley came to learn to speak human, he was fairly fluent at it, although it was hard to tell what they were saying sometimes as they used a lot of lingo such as ‘homie’ to address each other. If he had to guess, his trainer probably taught him himself.

    “Hey,” Quilladin said, turning Shine’s attention away from the two, “So what’s troubling you two?”

    Shine moaned, thinking about how to phrase what happened. Even though GeL was the part that triggered Curio, he didn’t want to tell anyone else about it. Again, he had to settle for a convenient half-truth.

    “I asked her if she wanted to come back to Ambrette with me and my trainer. She seemed really upset about the fact I was with one in the first place.”

    “Eh, chicks,” Quilladin said, “To be fair, she ain’t too friendly with Barley’s trainer either. The vibe of the room gets really awkward when those two are talking.”

    Shine hummed to himself. It made sense considering Curio’s world view, although he still hadn’t expected Curio’s reaction to it. He looked in front of him and noticed the absence of a certain stick in the tail.

    “Where’s your friend?”

    “Whaddya mean?”

    “The Delphox.”

    “Bleh,” Quilladin squinted his eyes, baring his chipped fangs, “We’re not friends anymore. He thinks he’s all fire just because he can win a human’s game.”

    “Ah, that’s unfortunate to hear.” It would’ve been more accurate to call Quilladin a sore loser, but Shine thought of saying otherwise.

    ---

    They reached the park, which had a full crowd this time with a mix of mostly young trainers and Pokémon sitting beside each other on the grass, and the stage had equipment set up although the band members weren’t present yet. When Shine went to sit with his group, he was surprised to see both the Pikachu and Leafeon together. He called over to them and the two scurried over to him, with Pikachu pouncing on him, making him fall back. He licked Shine’s face, who couldn’t help but laugh.

    “You’re tickling me, stop!”

    Pikachu complied and Shine stood up again, looking at the two Pokémon. A lot of Pokémon in Dendemille seemed to have a habit on pouncing on others, he thought.

    “I guess Curio told you to come here as well.”

    “Bingo,” Leafeon said, then cocked her head. “As well?”

    Shine turned his head to the other group, who were stood up. Pikachu looked up and beamed at the sight of Barley. He glided off his trainer’s shoulder and joined hands with the electric rodent. The rest went to sit down.

    After that, the group talked idly for what seemed like ages during the waiting period. Leafeon talked mostly about her situation with Franc, Pikachu talked about Curio’s lesson with Barley, who relayed it back to his trainer, while Quilladin revealed his situation to Shine, whose trainer was taking care of family matters out of town, whereas he chose to stay with Barley for a little bit while the dust settled. Plus, a little bit of unsuccessful flirting from Quilladin to Leafeon. Although Shine talked little about himself, listening to the others distracted him from his own head space and softened the blow of Curio’s sudden leave.

    The band counted in and the music started with a strong drum beat. It was nothing special as it was just rock music, but it was quiet enough to talk over, yet loud enough to enjoy. In the middle of the first song, Shine saw Curio appear from behind the bushes.

    She made her way to the crowd, who swayed back and forth to the music, and started jumping in place, which eventually broke out into a dance. The crowd steered clear of her, obviously not wanting to get accidentally impaled, forming a circle around her. She didn't pay attention to the onlookers, or the little Pokémon that joined her jig by her feet, as she was occupied in her own world.

    Seeing this play out in front of him, Shine forgot his present worries for the moment and couldn't help but smile. Curio was enjoying herself and didn't care what others thought of her. It wasn't troubled by the memories of the past, almost as if it never happened. Shine felt a tinge of envy at this, as he would never draw attention to himself that way. He couldn't dance even if he wanted to as he was not bipedal. Or could he?

    He shook his head. Shine had more pressing issues to take care of. He needed to find out why Curio left him behind earlier and why he brought all the Pokémon to the park.

    "She's got some moves, hasn't she?" Leafeon said.

    "Er, yeah, sure," Shine said as he stood up. "I need to talk to her, I'll be back."

    "I'll come with," Quilladin said.

    "Me too!" Pikachu said.

    The three joined the crowd and pushed past their legs to where Curio was. When they arrived, Pikachu joined inside the circle and mingled with the other Pokémon while Quilladin danced in place

    “Hey!” Shine called out to Curio as she spun in place. She didn’t stop.

    “Curio!” he shouted. She spun around and smiled.

    “Oh Shine!” she said. “C’mon, dance!”

    “But-”

    Curio picked him up by his forepaws and started jumping around. Shine’s movements were unsteady, barely keeping himself balanced on the pads of his paws as Curio jerked him up and down.

    “Why’d you bring us here?” he said.

    “What?”

    “I said, why’d you bring us here?!”

    “Sorry!” Curio said with a grin, “Still can’t hear ya!”

    “Damnit Curio!” he shouted, “I know you can read my thoughts, just tell me what’s going on!”

    The song ended. Curio stopped her dance, letting go of Shine. She frowned.

    “Jeez, you’re a downer today. Alrighty, lead the way.”

    Shine ran back to his earlier spot and the rest followed behind him as the concert continued in the background. Everyone was seated around Curio.

    “That was amazing!” Pikachu said, who could barely sit down. “Can we do that again?”

    Curio patted his head.

    “After we deal with this guy.” Curio turned to Shine, stone faced and serious.

    “Fight me.”

    “E-excuse me?” Shine said.

    “You heard me. Fight me. If you win, I’ll come along with you and do your stupid interview.”

    “It’s not stu-”

    Curio raised her paw to stop him.

    “If I win, I get to stay here. You got that?”

    It took him a few seconds to realise what this meant, and when he did, it felt as if something hard had smacked Shine across the face.

    “But, but that means I might never see you again!”

    “Sure you will. I might get into a scrape or two after that and be in the news again. Who knows, I might make it on the front page someday! You’ll find me that way!”

    “That’s not the point! I didn’t come here to see you for the first time in ages only to have you disappear!”

    Curio revealed her fangs. She narrowed her eyes, her left twitching as if it had a mind of its own. It was the first time in a while Shine had also seen THAT face.

    “Yeah, now you know what it feels like, Shine! It sucks, doesn’t it?”

    “Ooooh!” Quilladin exclaimed.

    He was at a loss for words. He could tell Curio was furious at him, and for good reason. During their escape, it felt like he had abandoned her, and he knew there was no dancing around that. However, it felt like there was something else behind her anger, some other reason for her to be upset at him, but he couldn’t figure out what.

    “Hey Pikachu, what’s your face?” Quilladin chimed in, “Can you go get us some popcorn? I’m enjoying this lover’s quarrel.”

    “In your dreams!” Both Curio and Shine said in unison. She laughed, and her expression lightened up a bit.

    “That’s my only offer, Shine,” she said, switching from her own tongue to human. “Besides, there’s a battle park right by us. I’ve already got a spot for us to fight in when the third bell strikes.”

    “You have?”

    “Lots of people will be watchin’ too. I practically asked the whole town.” She turned to the spectators who sat in stunned silence. “And you lot are coming too.”

    “We are?” all of them said.

    “Yup, just so you can pick sides. Any one of you can be Team Curio or Team Shine. Preferably Team Curio.”

    “This is silly,” Shine said. “What is this supposed to prove?”

    “Nothin’. But you can always run with your tail between your legs if you don’t want to face me. What’s it going to be, Shine?”

    Shine gazed at her with a wide eye. There wasn’t once lick of irony in her tone or expression. Curio was really prepared to take every measure to put him in a difficult spot.

    He gave himself a moment to process what he was about to do. He was about to enter in a fight with an old friend of his, with little explanation as to how or why she organised it, all in order to keep their friendship. There was no way he would go back home empty handed, as his journey would’ve been for nothing. A part of him questioned how he would take her on considering she could read him like an open book. When he decided what he would do, Shine presented his paw to Curio with a smile.

    “I’ll do it,” he said. Curio took his paw in hers and shook it firmly.

    “Awesome.” She let go. “Be there or be square.”

    Before Shine could ask her anything else, Curio left him and the rest of the gang behind, and Pikachu joined her to meet the crowd near the stage. When she started her dance again, Shine sighed and slumped to the ground.

    He felt there was a deeper motive behind her carefree attitude. The way she was so dismissive of Shine told him she was actively dodging the question, either not wanting to deal with the GeL situation or was vengeful against him for some unknown reason. There was so much he needed to know he didn’t get the chance to ask; how she got to Kalos was still a total mystery. However, if he wanted another chance to resolve those burning questions, he would have to defeat her in a fight, or lose her forever. Shine took a deep breath.

    “What have I gotten myself into?”
     
  10. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    This feels like a good combination of all the previous chapters combined, even with the cool characters we've met along the way. The roster is pretty amazing and I like them all, so once again great job with that.

    Curio and Shine's conversation throughout the chapter feels realistic for two friends whose relationship fell apart. They're clearly both confused and are trying to think of a way to either make things better or just cut their friendship and call it a day. Of course Curio is the one who spearheads it and goes for the unavoidable decision, as she always does.

    Great chapter, as always. I'll be waiting for more.
     
  11. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    Thanks again Alpar for your continued support! I wasn't expecting the conversation of the two characters to be received that way, but I'm glad it felt convincing to you.

    The Curious and the Shiny 5 – Dendemille’s Brawlers

    The band played the rest of their set, and while Curio and Pikachu were still carelessly dancing in the background, Shine had long since tuned out. He buried his head in his paws, deep in thought as he went over his potential battle strategy.

    In terms of movesets, the two would be equally matched, as their types weren’t stronger than the other. If it was just a battle of rock paper scissors, he would have no issue, however, he was up against a Lucario. He was already handicapped from the start as he couldn’t wield the power of aura, and his golden vision was useless against a Pokémon that could read his mind.

    Most importantly, he wasn’t up against just any Lucario, Shine was up against Curio. And Curio was a dirty fighter.

    In the old days of GeL before the new director took over, each fight test held there was controlled by standard Pokémon match rules: one move per turn, four moves in a set and no escaping. Every other Pokémon followed them at first except for Curio. On top of a general disregard for those rules, she would also do other things such as finding spare nails before the match and planting them on the floor while the opponent wasn’t looking. Shine learned that the hard way.

    If having to nurse a potentially septic wound after battle was of any indication, it's that Curio would be keeping Shine on his toes at all times during the match. If she found a weakness in Shine she could exploit, she would. No matter what strategy he could devise beforehand, that would surely be overturned in an instant. Then again, if this was life or death, she probably would’ve ended it there by impaling the opponent with her spikes.

    His stomach tied itself together into knots. This was going to be one long day.

    ---

    After the crowd applauded for what seemed like minutes, the band exited the stage. The crowd dispersed and only a few remained, including Curio, who conversed with Pikachu. Shine tilted his head. He tried to listen to the conversation, but before he could make out what they were saying, Curio stood up, gestured to Pikachu and left through the forestry. Shine stood too, and sighed. Going after them was a waste of time; he wouldn’t be able to negotiate with Curio even if he chased after her. He was going to have to wait until the match to meet her again.

    Shine turned to his group, who all looked at him expectantly.

    “Is everyone going then?" Shine said, switching over to human.

    Barley turned to his trainer. "Do we have the time for it?" he asked, to which the trainer nodded.

    "I guess it's only a quick match. We're in."

    "Well," Quilladin added in his own tongue, "It would be nice to see which ass ends up getting kicked. Count me in too."

    "I could care less," Leafeon said, "But if it gets me away from that reeking farm, I'll shoot."

    It was settled. The group made their way out of the venue and led Shine on the way to the battle park, talking little as they did so. They strolled through the same path Shine did before, which still had the scent of vanilla in the air, then took the familiar route to the town square, and ventured further into the city depths through a road which branched off into several junctions. Finally, they took the second one on their left, which led to the battle park.

    Usually, the battle park consisted of dozens of spaces in the big cities where there were gyms and only one dozen in the towns. Dendemille was just as small, even smaller than that as there were only eight spaces. It was still huge however; a small battle park could easily cover the size of a large stadium with many other facilities included other than the arena. Although the population of a small park could easily reach the thousands in their peak, when it was approaching evening, the numbers usually dwindled as a lot of arenas were left empty.

    However, out of the eight, it was easy for Shine to pick out which one was his, and what he saw further tangled the knots in his stomach.

    Dozens of people sat in the auditorium circling the arena. When Curio mentioned lots of people would be there, Shine could scarcely believe it, but when he saw it for himself, he realized how determined she was to pursue this battle.

    With each step he took, the crowd grew louder, and he was eventually faced off with the long, straight path that led to the arena. Who else would be there but Curio, doing various warmup stretches in the centre of the stage. With a squint, he could see Pikachu sitting at the front row behind a fence, alongside several other Pokémon of various sizes he hadn’t seen before. He even saw Luccy from before, staring at the stage with his trainer. The referee stood beside Curio, standing in for the other contestant to come in.

    Shine’s heart pounded in his chest. Once he stepped into the arena, there would be no going back with so many people watching their match. He turned to his group who were all heading the other way to their seats, except for Barley who walked towards him.

    “Well,” he said, “Me and my trainer wish you good luck. You’re certainly gonna need it.”

    Shine couldn’t help but chuckle, releasing some of his pre-battle tension. “I guess so.”

    Soon enough, they were gone too. Shine took a deep breath, and padded over to Curio as the audience watched him enter from afar. Try as he might have, Shine couldn’t ignore the presence of the crowd Curio gathered. The knots pulled taut. When he approached Curio, she didn’t look him in the eye, only staring at the referee, who looked back and forth between the two.

    “Are your trainers with you?” he asked.

    “Who said I needed to bring a trainer with me?” Curio said.

    “Ah, you talk," he said, stone-faced. "And what about this Luxray?”

    “Um, I left him at home.” Shine said. The referee scratched his head before shrugging it off and turning on his speaker mic. Feedback echoed in the arena.

    “Trainers of all ages, we have a very unique match lined up for this slot. This is a one versus one match, but neither of these Pokémon are present with their trainers here. This isn’t the first time it’s happened in this park, so I’ve heard, but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten something like this.” He presented a slip of paper from his pocket. “Going by an educated guess, this Lucario over here is named Curio, and this Luxray over here is named Shine. Since this is a special case, we might as well go over the rules.
    “Since there is no way to calculate which moves you’ll be using, as you won’t be given commands, there is no limit to your moveset, assuming you have more than four. You two seem evenly matched, so I will deem this a fair fight scenario. First and most importantly, lethal hits are strictly forbidden.” Without taking an eye off the crowd, he gestured his arm to Curio’s side. “In your case, if you—”

    “Yeah yeah, no using my spikes, don’t waste your breath, you robot!” Curio shouted, making her voice known to the audience. There was a little bit of commotion in the crowd as a variety of different voices reacted to her outburst.

    “Did that Lucario just insult him?”

    “The nerve of that thing! A trainer oughta come down there and teach it some manners!”

    “Yeah Curio," Quilladin said, who had joined the front row along with the rest of the group, "You show that robot who’s boss!”

    The announcer cleared his throat and continued.

    “Secondly, this match will operate under a five minute time limit. Seeing how it’s one versus one, the fight should be fairly short anyway.”

    The announcer paused. No quarrel came from Curio that time.

    “Thirdly, no items are allowed to be used to heal yourself, act as a weapon or distract the opponents in any way. With that said,” again, he gestured to Curio, “Your bag counts as an item, and that alongside anything else in it will be confiscated during the match, so please put it to one side.”

    Upon hearing this, Curio stomped over to where the announcer stood, shaking her fist at him.

    “You gotta be kiddin’ me!”

    “I’m afraid not. These rules are what separate a battle from a bloodsport, after all.”

    “But listen!” Curio reached into her bag, pulling out a crooked wooden bat, and pointed at him with it. “Without this, my range is gonna be crap!”

    “You are able to use bone rush, aren’t you?”

    “Nuh uh, now look!” A shaft of light came from Curio’s paw. Instead of the twin headed staff that usually materialised from a Pokémon in the form of a bone, all that came out was something the size of a cotton swab, which she shook at him. “This is all I can summon! All this is useful for is picking wax outta my ears!”

    The announcer squinted at it, but gave no other reaction.

    “Doesn’t matter,” he said, “No weapons, you play by the rules or not at all.”

    “Ugh, fine!” With that, Curio withdrew the bag and tossed the bag into the man’s face, going back to her spot in a huff. The man caught it before it could hit his head. Shine looked on, slack jawed at what he saw. Even in the face of a human figure like the referee, she acted like a petulant child, despite being somewhat older than Shine. It became apparent to him that Curio was not her once-composed self, if starting the fight in the first place didn’t show that before. Was there still a chance he could talk some sense into her before the match?

    The announcer headed to the podium off the stage and plopped the bag beside him, grabbing his whistle.

    “Now, the match will end when the first opponent faints and I announce it. If the timer runs out, the opponent with the least amount of damage will win and the next set of trainers waiting to play afterwards will be called in. Now, if you two could take five paces back—”

    “Excuse me,” Shine called out, raising his voice a little, “Can I have a word with Curio before the match starts?”

    “Keep it quick,” he said without hesitation. With that, Shine approached Curio, who glared at him.

    “Curio,” Shine said, “Do we really have to resolve things this way?”

    “There’s nothing else I wanna say to you right now. If you don’t like it, get bent.”

    He gasped. “Why, I’m, I’m—”

    Curio raised a paw in the air, motioning over to the announcer, and she took her five paces back. Defeatedly, Shine followed suit, the words of Curio still stewing in his mind.

    “Pokémon, ready.”

    This was it. No matter what Shine tried to say to allay the situation, there was no way Curio would back down in this fight. A lump grew in Shine’s throat. He exhaled, then took a deep breath, readying himself by standing on the tips of his hindpaws. If Curio showed this much resistance, he needed to push back just as hard with all he had, if he was to get back to Ambrette with her and be able to spend time with her again. After everything Curio put him through so far, however, Shine briefly considered if all of his efforts were worth it.

    Before he could dwell on those thoughts any longer, the whistle blew.

    Curio immediately lunged at him with her arm. Just short of being grazed, Shine leapt backwards, avoiding the first swipe. Then the second followed. He barely dodged by ducking his head. Then the third. He had barely enough time to dodge as he rolled to his side. The hand pounded the ground, sending dust flying everywhere.

    Without looking to see what happened, Shine ran from Curio’s range, running as fast as his legs could carry him to the other side of the arena. When the dust cleared, Curio was far away from him, but charged forward as soon as she recovered. Shine kept running, close along the fence, but the rushing of Curio’s paws became louder behind him. He couldn’t keep outrunning her. He had to make the first attack.

    Shine made a detour to his left. He swished his tail around, charging up his static field. The more he ran, the more his fur prickled. He could hear the buzzing of electricity around him, acting like invisible armor. He had stored enough potential to pull off a volt tackle. Shine turned and ran towards Curio, who stopped suddenly. She held her paw in front of her, firing a flurry of aura spheres at him. Most of them bounced off his field. Once he was close enough to her, she braced her arm in front of her. Shine tackled her lower body, head first.

    Bash. Curio flew across the arena, stopping short of hitting the partition that divided the crowd. The reaction was a mix of gasps and cheers.

    Shine’s whole body shuddered with the recoiling force of his attack. But now the two were a fair distance away from each other. If he could land another hit with a thunderbolt close to Curio’s stomach, he could stagger her, taking her out of the match. He shook his head and started charging his static field again.

    Curio rose to her feet. In no time, she lunged towards Shine again. He did not flinch. He focused his mind on where he would hit Curio, just below her spike. Just as his charge reached its limit…

    “Hit me already, you coward!”

    Curio’s sudden shrill scream rang in his ears. In his haste, he shot a thunderbolt, only for it to divert away from Curio’s body. It zapped the ground which absorbed the shock. He focused again. Curio was already in arm’s reach. He tried to turn his body away from her in an effort to run away, but it was too late. With one well placed uppercut to his chest, it was a direct hit. It sent him flying in the air above the fence. When he landed, he broke through an unoccupied bench far away from where the rest of the crowd was.

    It hurt to breathe. Her hit must have broken at least a few ribs. All sound faded. All the charge he build up had released. His vision started to fade as well. Was he able to move at all? He twitched his legs. They were still mobile. One paw after another, he got to his feet. Although he could barely see, the yellow coat stood out in the background. He tried to hobble towards her from the other side. Then his legs gave away as well. What would happen next? He didn’t know. He succumbed to his weakened state and sank into the void of slumber.

    ---

    The air had a familiar sterile smell to it. Shine was back at the Pokémon centre, only he was lying in a bed instead of in a Pokeball.

    He wasn’t fully awake yet, but he knew he was there. A paw scratched his ear, making him purr. Something was trying to jolt him awake, but the sensation he felt made him more content to go back to sleep. Suddenly, it tugged at him, and he opened his eye to see who was disturbing him. It was Curio, who smiled as they made eye contact. It was nice to see that face when she wasn’t trying to attack him. He smiled back, before it faded when he realised what had happened. His eye started to well up.

    “I-I’m sorry Curio. I’m sorry I escaped without you back then; I don’t even realise how it happened, seems so long ago now.”

    “Shine,” Curio said.

    “And I’m sorry for whatever else I did as well to anger you. And, and, I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to win in battle, and, and—”

    Out of nowhere, Shine started wailing. His cries echoed in the room, blubbering and choking on his own words. Curio’s eyes grew wide.

    “Oh, why am I being s-so s-s-stupid,” he stuttered in between sobs, “I shouldn’t be crying like s-some weak S-S-Shinx, but here I am.”

    “Shine,” she said, scowling.

    “No, it, it’s fine, you fought hard for your freedom. You shouldn’t let s-s-some other stupid Pokémon tie you down. Even if I f-f-followed you, I wouldn’t survive. I’m th-that weak, I’m—”

    Curio smacked Shine across the face, snapping him out of his ramble. She grabbed his paw firmly.

    “Jeez Shine, the match was a dud! It didn’t even matter if the match was a win or a lose, so get a hold of yourself, mon!”

    Shine stopped crying, still feeling the stream of tears pouring down his cheek.

    “W-what? Then what was the point of this?”

    “I dunno,” she said with a shrug, “I just wanted to let off some steam. I feel better now we’ve fought.”

    “Then, what happens now?”

    “Nothing yet, we’ll see where the evening takes us.”

    “Right.” Shine tried to jerk his paw away from Curio’s grasp, but she had enough grip to pin him down. Slowly, Curio picked him up, sitting him on his hindquarters so he could see the whole of the room he was in at last; a very small rehab room only meant for Pokémon to sleep and be checked up on occasionally by the nurse. Then, Curio sniffled and rubbed away a few tears of her own. She wrapped herself around him, close enough for her spike to touch his chest again.

    “Oh Sunshine, it hurts seeing you like this, callin’ yourself weak and junk.”

    “But, I am—”

    “Stop that, I’m not having it. You travelled half this damn region to see me, that takes balls.”

    “But—”

    “I know you’re thinkin’ it’s a small feat for us Pokémon, but it’s not. It’s no small feat we survived this long to see each other again. It’s no small feat we’ve been given these skills in the first place when many Pokémon don’t get the same chances. It’s no small feat you came without your trainer to see me alone. All of those things make you worth more than just your fighting ability alone.” Curio pulled away from Shine and gave a half smile. “Although if I’m being honest, you suck ass at fighting.”

    Even if it was less than flattering, the comment made Shine break into laughter. “I’m glad to hear that coming from you.”

    “You’re welcome. Now c’mon,” she said, standing up, “We’ve got a lot to catch up with and I’m not doing it in this stinkin’ room. See if you can get outta bed.”

    Shine stretched his legs. When he leapt off the bed, a constricting pain grew in his chest and he groaned. Although everything had healed up, the part where Curio hit him still ached as he was sure a few ribs had to be healed in the process.

    “Should I even be standing up?”

    “The nurse said it’s fine. I know it’s painful now, but you won’t even notice it once you’ve gotten some rest later. C’mon, we haven’t got all night.”

    Shine wordlessly agreed and followed her out of the room, out of the treatment bay, out to the exit and into the town square once more. Curio gestured to a nearby bench and the two sat next to each other, watching the various passers by. They waited. Shine alternated between the sight of the town nightlife and Curio’s face. Again, he was at a loss for what to say. Where would he even start? Would he listen to Curio first or start the conversation himself? Would he apologise first?

    Curio turned towards Shine and nudged his side.

    “If you want to start with that, we might as well get apologies out the way.”

    “I didn’t say anythi—” He stopped himself. Sometimes, it was easy to forget his friend could read his own mind. Shine cleared his throat and made eye contact with Curio, seeing his own reflection in her green irises.

    “I’m really sorry everything turned out the way it did, Curio. You have the right to be angry, and I should’ve stuck with you even when we ended up in a tough spot back then. I understand if you don’t forgive me after what happened.”

    Curio rubbed her metallic arm with her paw and sighed.

    “I won’t beat around the bush here Shine, what you did was shitty. I thought you said you wouldn’t have abandoned me, and that’s what ended up happening anyway. But,” Curio smiled and patted Shine’s shoulder, “There was nothing you could’ve done. Hell, you would’ve been stupid not to escape without me. I don’t even remember how many trainers showed up out of the blue at that moment. So I’ve made my peace with that.” Curio took her paw back and placed it on her spike. “But that’s not the only gripe I have.” Then she frowned.

    “I saw you back in Sinnoh, you know.”

    “What?” he gasped.

    “You heard me. Jubilife City, to be exact. From far away, I noticed your aura and tried to find you. I must’ve ran like crazy to get to you. But when I finally saw you, you were already on the train with some—” Curio broke eye contact and clutched her arm. “Trainer. The one with black hair and those nerdy glasses?”

    “Tony.”

    “Whatever. I wasn’t ready to let you go, so I hopped on the next train to chase you. I didn’t even know where to look, I travelled for days to try and find you, but I couldn’t pick up your aura anywhere. After a while, I just gave up, I guess.” She looked back at him with drooping eyes. “Where were you all this time? I got on without you just fine, you know, but suddenly, you pop out of nowhere and fall right into my paws. That’s gotta be some divine intervention crap right there.”

    Shine didn’t respond immediately. He took a moment to take it all in. He thought back to the conversation he had with her at noon before she left and remembered the odd feeling he got from Curio’s knowledge of his trainer’s gender. Shine rested his head on his paws.
    “I don’t know how to take this,” he said. “If I had known you were there, I would’ve come rushing after you.”

    Curio smiled weakly.

    “I know. It still stinks though, like having something precious of yours ripped away from you and tossed into an open fire. Especially for you to go back on your word and become some trainer’s pet.”

    Shine rose at the mention of the word ‘pet’. It was the same way the Meowth addressed him when he was being attacked by his gang. When he processed exactly what Curio said, he glared at her.

    “Is that what you think of me, then?”

    “No, that’s not what I meant,” she threw her paw up in defence, “Like, I thought you said you were gonna become this amazing scholar once you got out, or some crap like that. You had the drive for it. I just never pegged you as the type to follow some trainer around on his stupid quest to gain a bunch of trinkets.”

    “You know nothing about what Tony’s done for me!” He shouted. That was the loudest he heard himself speak for a while, and it had its effect on Curio as she grew wide eyed. He could even feel his own heart quicken at his own words.

    “Those dreams I spent so long mulling over in the facility, they were all crushed after the takeover. After I escaped, all I did was wait to die. I’d spend all day reading in the library, dig through trash in the streets at night and sleep on the curb. I didn’t want to hunt or battle or even think, I just wanted to escape into much better stories. One day, he met me in the quiet room and asked to talk with me outside, and he was great. When we talked, I felt like I could tell him anything and he would understand as if we had been friends for a long time. He wasn’t even a trainer, just a marine biologist who was interning away from his home in Kalos.

    “Over time, my body felt weaker and weaker, as it took me less time to get out of breath. Sometimes I’d faint while I was reading, only to wake up in a Pokémon centre. But that didn’t stop me. On Tony’s off days, we’d meet up outside the library and walk together. He would tell me about his diving adventures and I would ramble about which new book caught my interest. He would even treat me to desserts. It was silly, but I liked being with him, and I could tell he saw something in me. He gave me a reason to do more than just escape from reality.

    “On one of these trips, I collapsed in front of him and spent a month in treatment. I was malnourished. By not hunting, I neglected my needs as a carnivore and almost died because of my mistakes. Tony stayed with me though and made sure I was eating properly. It took a while, but in time, I had enough energy to walk. Then, he asked if he could be my trainer. I said yes and never looked back, and went back with him to Kalos for work. So Curio, please think twice before you throw him under the bus.”

    Curio’s mouth went agape. It seemed like she understood Shine now. He didn’t feel like he had to justify his friendship with Tony any more.

    “I’m sorry,” Curio said in a flat voice. Then, silence. Shine continued to look at her, expecting her to say something back, but she turned away from him, lost in her own world yet again.

    “It’s not easy making it on your own, especially not after what happened to us in particular. If it wasn’t for Tony, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. Even with GeL, he’s the only person I actually talked about it with, and that was after two years of knowing him. I thought you would’ve understood of all Pokémon.”

    “No,” Curio said, turning back to Shine, rubbing away the dust in her eyes, “I know what you mean. At the beginning, I had to lock those memories away in order to survive. Even so, I had nothing else to live for until a lot of trial and error. I won’t lie, I saw a lot of terrible things on my way here, the kind of stuff that would churn your stomach.” She rubbed her face and smiled. “But I saw a lot of amazing things on the way as well and met a lot of fantastic Pokémon, some like me. I’ve seen many Pokémon come and go. I knew a Smeargle that had their works put up in a gallery. There was another Pokémon that learned sign language and didn’t learn one lick of human otherwise. Of course, there’s Barley as well, but you know him already. I just think it’s sad how many Pokémon like us don’t end up making anything of themselves, either being stuck with a trainer they didn’t like just to be provided for, if they weren’t being abused, or end up dying in the wild anyway.”

    “Well,” Shine said, patting Curio’s lap with his paw, “I can assure you I’m not being mistreated at all. He practically lets me do anything I want while he’s out at work, and makes sure I’m well provided for when he’s back home, even after long hours. I’m sure even you would like him.”

    Curio smiled and snaked her arm through Shine’s back. It felt cold to the touch, but it pulled him closer to her.

    “I guess I would. In the end, no matter what you do, as long as you’re happy, that’s fine.”

    Shine sat still for a moment, not knowing how to respond. Then Curio sighed.

    “I guess I’ve been kind of a ***** today, haven’t I? Sorry for ignoring you all this time and making you go through that dumb fight.”

    “No, no. It’s fine, I know why you felt that way now. So, will you come with me?”

    Curio pulled away from him, frowning.

    “I dunno if I’m ready to talk about all of that yet. I don’t even know what this interview thing is for anyway. Is it like an interrogation where someone boxes me into a room and won’t let me leave until I answer all their questions?”

    Shine shook his head. He then went on to explain the purpose behind the interview and what it would require from Curio, to talk about as much as Curio was comfortable to discuss or was able to remember, as well as the process of shooting the documentary as well, which would all be done in a casual environment in Tony’s studio space.

    “I guess that doesn’t sound too bad,” she said. Before Shine could say anything else, he found himself being pushed off the edge of the bench as Curio shifted her legs,

    “Did I tell you to get off?” she said, “There’s room enough for you and me if you lie on my lap.”

    Shine swallowed. True, the bench was long enough for them, but this was an awkward position to put himself in. He got back on the bench and sat between Curio’s legs.

    “Watch the spike.”

    He steadied himself and lied down so his head was on her chest, just short of being impaled. His mane made it a little difficult to budge, but eventually, he was lying down and staring at the night sky full of stars with Curio. Her paw reached down to scratch his belly. He purred slightly as she did so.

    “You said you lived in Ambrette Town if I remember. I don’t think I’ve been there before. What’s it like?” Curio asked.

    “Er, it’s only your regular coastal town.”

    “Yeah, I know that much, but what is there to see?”

    “Well, there’s the arcade I guess, but families mostly visit it during the summer when it’s warm.”

    “Yeah, and...”

    “There are lots of galleries as well. We’ve even got a cinema.”

    “Pfft, they’re everywhere. What else?”

    “Well, there’s also the aquarium that’s free of charge right next to where my trainer works.”

    “Alright, I’m coming with you.”

    Shine got up and stared at Curio, who was still lying on her back.

    “You will? All because of an aquarium? You know what that is, don’t you?”

    “Hey, course I do, but I’ve never been to one. And no, it’s not just because of that. It sounds like there’s enough new stuff for me to enjoy and see.”

    “But what about your life here? I thought you had settled already.”

    “Oh please, I’ve only been here two weeks tops, and I was starting to get bored of this place anyway. Not much here except for farmers and gangs that are dumber than a bag of rocks.”

    “What about the other Pokémon I saw cheering you on? And what about Barley and the Pikachu you’re teaching? I’m sure they’ll miss you.”

    “They’re just randos I met in the street one day. And both of them knew I was bound to leave some day. I don’t like to stay in one place forever if there’s more to discover somewhere else.”

    “So that’s a yes to the interview?”

    Curio visibly cringed.

    “I’m not really sure, but if that’s what it takes to be with you, then I’ll go through whatever crap your trainer puts me through. Wait a minute.” Curio tapped Shine’s side, making him turn around to face Curio who gave a puzzled look.

    “How the hell are we gonna get back from here? Are we gonna have to walk or something?”

    Shine also explained how he got to Dendemille in his first place and the situation he would be in immediately after he got back. When she heard that, Curio broke off into laughter, suddenly slapping Shine’s back.

    “Look at you, getting in debt! When you said your trainer let you do whatever you wanted, I didn’t think he was that freewheeling!”

    As if on cue, the two’s stomachs collectively growled.

    “Oh mon, I guess it’s gotten pretty late, huh?”

    “What are we going to eat?” Shine asked.

    “Well,” Curio shifted from her seat and stood, offering a paw to Shine. “I better make my goodbyes now if I’m coming with you tomorrow. If Barley’s still at the Vine, I’m sure he’ll lend us a claw or two. Saves us having to hunt or steal.”

    “They do dinner as well?”

    “Sure they do. Now c’mon, are you with me?”

    Shine smiled and returned Curio’s pawshake.

    ---

    It was the first time the two had entered the Pokeroom together. Once they entered, delight spread through the faces of those across the room from Quilladin to Delphox, including Barley, who glided away from his trainer to meet face to face with Shine.

    “Are you alright?” he asked. Shine nodded in reply and Barley perched on the game table, making eye contact with Curio.

    “So what was that all about, huh? You kinda dropped us into the middle of this spat.”

    “Yeah,” Quilladin chimed in, “You made total mincemeat out of him!”

    Shine grimaced at his comment, but kept silent. Curio shrugged.

    “Just a little something between us,” she said, “We’ve made up now.” She turned to Barley.

    “Say, can you do both me and Shine a huge, huge favour? Can you order something for both of us to eat if the kitchen’s still open?”

    “I dunno about that,” Barley said, “That’s gonna have to come out of my trainer’s wallet. If you put in more work tomorrow, I’d be able to convince him to make it up for today.”

    “Actually,” Curio said, “We won’t be here for long. I’m moving away to Shine’s home-town tomorrow afternoon.”

    Barley’s mouth made an O shape. This also stopped the two starter Pokémon in the midst of their game as they turned to face her. Then, he curled his lips into a grin and nodded.

    “I can sort out something for you two as long as you come in to see the Pikachu for one last lesson. Does that sound fair?”

    Curio smiled back, giving a thumbs up the best she could with her paw. Shine nodded in approval along with her. Then, Barley glided over to his trainer’s shoulder and the two exited the room, leaving them and the rest of the group alone. Quilladin sat on the edge of the table, staring at his hanging feet.

    “Aw shucks,” Quilladin said, “Seems like everyone’s going away lately.”

    “Everyone?” Curio asked, getting closer to him, “What makes you say that?”

    “Eh, Delphox’s gotta go out tomorrow, too. His trainer got the call to go to Lumiose for a performance.”

    Delphox brushed a bit of dust off his ears.

    “It can’t be helped, I suppose, but I’m glad to finally get out of this place. Still, it was fun being able to pass the time with you, sapling.”

    “Yeah, I guess so,” he said, smiling. Shine observed this, thinking back to the apparent squabble the two had earlier after he left the night before. The two didn’t acknowledge it, but they seemed to have made up since then, and were playing a much less complex game than chess this time around. Then Quilladin looked up at Curio with a snaggletoothed grin.

    “You owe me a few games after bailing last night, you know. Oh!” Quilladin stood up, scurrying excitedly to the other side of the table where the game’s box was and pointed to the box on the top. “If you two don’t have much else going on, we can play this as a four!”

    Delphox hummed to himself. “I doubt you’ll want to play that game if you couldn’t handle chess.”

    Quilladin shot him a glance. “Even so, I’ll be patient this time. I won’t flip the table over like I did before.” He turned to Curio once more. “Well?

    “Sure, we’ve got time,” Curio said with a shrug and pulled up a chair, gesturing Shine to sit next to her. Shine joined her without a second thought of the events that would play out.

    The rest of the night passed with ease. Shine joined in with Curio’s game, letting her move his piece for him as he couldn’t reach without smashing everything. A part of the staff came in later with two plates and laid them beside the two companions, mashed potatoes and a Magikarp fillet for them each. Although Shine found the taste bland, it was filling, and his grumbling stomach no longer bothered him. Barley eventually joined in to watch them play, and they were all able to chat casually with one another and exchange some light-hearted banter.

    This proved to be a calm in the storm for Shine. He knew deep down that once the interview process started, he would have to confront his past in full along with Curio, revisiting old memories they thought they would never have to confront again. Even so, for now, Shine forgot about his worries and stayed close to Curio, making for the most enjoyment they’ve had together since their reunion. He didn’t mind whether he won or lost. Instead, he chose to enjoy the journey rather than the destination.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2018
    DreamSayer likes this.
  12. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    This was a rather straightforward but still very enjoyable chapter, I happen to be a fan of good fight scenes and this one while short did the job pretty well. I'm glad you focused more of the chapter on these two and what their relationship is at the current point. Lots of emotions and I can appreciate that.

    Hopefully they can learn to get along better, or maybe not. I'll be looking forward to the interview, I'm sure lots of thigns will go wrong at that point.
     
  13. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Hi there! I'd been thinking of checking this out since seeing all the art you've posted in the discord, and having it come up in the Review Game made for a nice push. I went ahead and read the first three chapters just to get a feel for the story and characters, and I'm glad I did because I got to see Curio!

    This is quite an intriguing setup. We've got a protagonist Pokemon who was experimented on, searching for a fellow experiment, who can speak human (which I initially thought was part of his experimentation, but no, human-speaking Pokemon are a thing in this world, if a slightly unusual thing all the same.) I like how much thought you've put into this, from all the details regarding Pokemon ride rental (and the fact that offering speech lessons to a service Pokemon would be a very valuable thing!) to the existence of Pokemon bars and such.

    I'm also quite a fan of all the side characters we've got so far. Even with the relatively short amount of time they've been on screen, you've given them all a unique and interesting presence to where I'd love to seen more of them. I was also amused by the fact that a throwaway gag (Bauble taking Shine's collar) came back to bite him in a town with a feral Pokemon problem, heh.

    I'll be curious to see where things go from here now that Shine and Curio have been reunited. How much has changed in all the years they've been apart? Will their past be coming back to haunt them? I can only assume so, as it's only chapter 3 and Shine has already accomplished his initial goal, so I'm sure the real plot has yet to make its appearance. Keep at it!

    ~Chibi~
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  14. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    Thanks for the reviews, TheAlpar and Chibi Pika! I'm glad the first three chapters were a good introduction to this story for you and that you found all the characters enjoyable as Alpar has so far.

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 6 - The Island Arc: Dendemille’s Riders

    Once Delphox said his goodbyes as his trainer came to pick him up, the excitement of the party dwindled from there and everyone agreed to call it a night. Shine in particular let out a long yawn that echoed in the room. When he stretched, he felt the ache of his body that lingered from his fight with Curio.

    Save for himself and Curio, the rest of the group said goodnight and went upstairs to the upper floor of the bar where they had a room. They stayed in the Pokéroom with the lights off and went to rest on the pile of cushions, talking very little. Eventually, they stopped talking altogether and nuzzled close to each other, feeling each other’s warmth as they were on the verge of sleep. Shine reflected on the past few days, viewing each event through a blurry lens. How he got to where he was at that moment in Curio’s embrace and the little details she slipped in between about her own life.

    Then it hit Shine like a brick. Although the two made peace with the incident of the escape, one question burned itself into his mind. How did Curio escape?

    He tapped Curio with his paw and whispered her name. She didn’t respond. He tried again, this time, prodding her in the side. She groaned, shifting slightly in her sleep.

    “Wha?”

    “Curio,” Shine said, keeping his voice low, “There’s still something I don’t understand.”

    “I know you do,” she whispered, “And I don’t care.”

    “But--”

    “Shh...” Curio moved her paw and laid it over Shine’s stomach. Eventually, she fell asleep and snored next to Shine, gripping him close to her. He tried to move, but she continued clutching him in a death grip. He struggled for a little bit, but eventually stopped and put his thoughts to rest. Even if he didn’t have all the answers yet, he could live with not knowing while the two were still in the moment. He closed his eyes again and in time, drifted off to sleep.

    ---

    Shine budged in his slumber, falling onto the floor from the pillow pile. He yawned and opened his eye to see Curio already awake, extending and contracting her metal arm. It squeaked a little. She grunted and dove inside her bag to draw out an oil can, which she squirted around its crevices.

    “That fight did a number on this arm, you know,” Curio said. “Gotta watch what I do for a little while.”

    Shine stood up, kicking at the air to stretch himself too. His joints felt less stiff than before.

    “Right. Do you still get those phantom pains?”

    She shrugged. “I hardly notice ‘em any more, but this arm can still be a pain in the ass.” Curio wiggled her metallic fingers as they clicked.

    “Right now, it’s just fine, but sometimes, it refuses to work at all, and I ain’t had any success finding anyone to fix it. Not everyday you get a Lucario wonderin’ around with an arm like this, you know.”

    “If you want,” Shine said, “I could help you find a mechanic in Ambrette.”

    Curio crossed her arms.

    “Yeah, don’t suppose your trainer will let you sponge off his money again, do you?”

    “I can convince him to help,” he said with a smile. “If you’re lucky given your circumstances, they could do it for free.”

    “Yeah, we’ll see about that.”

    There was a knock at the door. Curio glanced at Shine and pointed at the frame, gesturing him to follow her out. Barley greeted them along with his trainer and headed out to the cafe.

    When they entered, instead of the pudgy owner being at his usual spot behind the counter, this time, a much thinner man operated the till in his place. Barley shot a glance at his trainer. When the substitute sighted the group, he looked just as confused.

    “Uh, hi there?”

    “Hey,” Barley said, “Isn’t the owner in today?”

    “Huh?” He narrowed his eyes, then gave a squeal of surprise. “Right, right, you’re the, uh, Pokémon he told me about! Yeah, unfortunately, he had to call me in to cover for him. There was a sudden meeting at his daughter’s training school.”

    “So Pikachu isn’t here either?”

    He shook his head. “Sorry, I know he said you two called him in last night. But bear with me for a bit, I have something for the Lucario.”

    Before Curio could ask why, the clerk disappeared into the kitchen, only to come out again with a wooden basket full of various fruits. Her eyes beamed at the sight of it, although Shine couldn’t see its contents.

    “He told me to prepare this for you,” he said, handing the basket over to Curio, “It’s on the house.”

    “Thanks a bunch!” she said, gripping the handle in her paw. She looked down to Shine. “Well, I think this is too much to tackle on my own. You all wanna help me out?”

    Shine nodded in reply. After last night’s events, he had worked up a sizeable appetite. The group all gathered around the table and Shine climbed up to stand on the chair, giving him a full view of the fruits basket. A cornucopia of colourful berries adorned the insides: Oran, Pecha, Grepa, even Kee and Maranga berries amongst others Shine didn’t immediately recognise. What stuck out to him was the white slip of paper attached to the handle.

    “What about the note?” Shine said before Curio could dip her paw into her breakfast. She narrowed her eyes before noticing it, then pried the piece of paper off, and folded it open on the table for all to see. It appeared to be a handwritten letter. Barley pointed at the paper with his barb.

    “Oh, I recognise the owner’s handwriting! Go on, read it!”

    Curio grunted and snatched the sheet, holding it up close to her face.

    “Fine. I might be a bit rusty, though.”

    She cleared her throat.

    “To Curio,
    I only heard the news about your leave recently so you’ve left me unprepared for this letter, but I want to thank you for carrying on Pikachu’s lessons from where the other teacher left off. Although there’s much I have to learn about you and what Pokémon are like in general, even without Pikachu having to speak, I can tell he was happy being around you. It’s given my daughter some hope as well for when she eventually leaves.

    Consider this basket a parting gift. I don’t know if it’s a tradition with Pokémon, but in any case, best of luck to all your future travels.

    P.S. I’ve never had to write a letter for a Pokémon before either. This must be a new milestone for my business.”


    Curio put the letter to one side and hummed to herself, smiling.

    “Well good for him,” she said, then plucked an Oran berry out the pile. “Now let’s eat before I starve to death.”

    Everyone silently agreed as they dipped their hands and paws into the basket. Everyone except for Shine. While Curio was in the middle of chewing on a piece of Oran, she glanced at Shine, who was trying to grab a piece of fruit but was slightly out of reach. He was being cautious not to climb on the table and accidentally flip it over. Curio swallowed.

    “Whoops, force of habit, I guess.” She laid a berry of each kind at Shine’s level, finally allowing him to dig in. The berries were tender and cold, nourishing Shine as he drank its sweet juices.

    "Sho," Curio said, halfway between a bite, "What'sh nexsht now the Pikachu'sh out?"

    "That's it, I think," Barley said, "We've got no one else available for you to teach since you're going so soon."

    "What about lastsh night?" she said, then swallowed.

    "I'll let it slide. What do you think?" He turned his head to his trainer, who shrugged. "Then that works for me."

    "Awesome."

    “Besides,” he gave her a wide smile, “It’s been great having you here. If you ever come to the Vine again, our doors are open for you.”

    Curio batted a paw in the air at him. “Aw, you’re makin’ me blush, if I could anyway.”

    Barley turned to Shine.

    “Let me know how it goes in Ambrette. I’d like to hear about what the Pokéstops are like there if there are any.”

    Shine hummed to himself. He hadn’t really checked to see if there were any, or at least showed much interest in finding one. He mostly kept to himself, either going to the library, reading to Bauble or staying at home during the day to read more. If Barley was interested in this case, that would be reason enough to finally go to one. Regardless, Shine smiled and offered his front paw to him, which he shook in return.

    When Shine returned to tend to his breakfast, he glanced at Curio and saw her previously cheerful expression had dropped. He wasn’t sure why, but as quickly as he saw it, it was gone, as Curio shook her head and chomped on a Pecha berry.

    Once the group had gotten to the bottom of the basket and filled their stomachs, they decided to go their separate ways. Shine and Curio would venture outside until their eventual leave, and Barley and his trainer offered to stay behind to discuss business matters with the co-owner. Before the duo left, however, Barley glided up to Curio’s shoulder and licked her across the face with his big tongue. She laughed it off and waved them goodbye.

    The two exited the cafe, heading out into the square again when Curio nudged Shine with her leg.

    “So who’s this Bauble, anyway?”

    Shine turned to her, wide eyed. He stumbled on his own words, before Curio cut him off with a laugh.

    “Relax, I didn’t ask you if you two were dating or anything, just wondering.”

    So Curio used her aura again. He exhaled and his heartbeat steadied.

    “She’s just a friend that tags along with me whenever she’s bored. Nothing more.”

    “Alrighty then.”

    “Curio,” he said, changing his tone, “I hate to sound rude, but would it be possible for you to not keep reading my thoughts like that? It’s a little invasive.”

    “I can’t help myself, it’s in my nature to nose around like that. And you saying it’s invasive, I mean, you can see through walls and stuff. How many people have you seen naked in their homes?”

    Shine flustered, trying to think of a proper response. He hadn’t really stopped to notice. “Well, I--”

    “Don’t answer that.”

    She had a point, even if it was completely missing the point of his request in the first place. Still, he couldn’t deny it was her way of defending herself, which proved to be especially useful out in the wild or even in the competitive nature of the GeL Project. Shine took a deep breath and continued.

    “Still, can you keep my thoughts to yourself? Unless I’m lying, of course. You can call me out on it whenever that happens.”

    Curio nodded. “Of course I will. You never lie to a Lucario, after all.”

    That much was common knowledge.

    “Say,” she said, “We’ve got plenty of time before we head out, right? Wanna do something fun?”

    It was still early, Shine thought. It would’ve been convenient to have a watch to know exactly how long he had left.

    “Oh!” Curio exclaimed, “Look, I’ll try to stop sticking my nose into your business, but if you wanna know what the time is...” She stopped walking and fished inside one of the many pockets in her bag to pull out a watch. She held it close to her ears, which twitched.

    “Yup, still works. How much do we have left?”

    Curio presented the clock-face to Shine. He forgot about the fact Curio just read his thoughts again and stared at the watch. It was surprisingly pleasant to look at, encrusted with various stones as they glittered in the sunlight. If Shine knew anything about watches, he would’ve said it must’ve been fairly expensive.

    Before he could dwell on it any longer, Curio coughed in a purposeful way. He turned to face her.

    “We’ve got two hours until we need to be at the park.”

    “Sweet,” Curio said, withdrawing the watch. “Tell ya what, I’ve got a surprise waiting for ya. Run up to the top of that hill before the mill and I’ll be there with ya in a bit, okay?”

    Before Shine could muster a reply, Curio turned the other way and made a running start.

    “Hold on, Curio!” Shine shouted. This time, she stopped.

    “Is this going to be like last time?”

    “Course not,” Curio said, “I’ve gotten over that now, I’m definitely coming with ya.”

    “You swear it on your tail?”

    “Swear it on my tail.” Before she left, she made a point of her tail-swear by flicking it. Then Shine was left to his own devices.

    ---

    When Shine saw Curio again, he saw her lugging a big shopping cart uphill. He blinked a few times until he realised what Curio had been planning as a surprise.

    “You can’t be serious,” Shine said.

    “Course I am!” Curio said, “I’ve done this a few times before with Quilladin and we both turned out fine!”

    Shine narrowed his eye at her. “Where did you get that from anyway? You’re not supposed to take them!”

    Curio blew a Razzberry at him. “Who cares? Everyone takes them anyway, what harm will another do?”

    Shine grunted and looked to his left where the hill headed off into an incline. The drop down there was steep.

    “C’mon!” Curio said, “Don’t be a wuss, I just wanna do this once before I go.” Then, she gave Shine a toothy grin. “You don’t wanna be like lily-livered Luccy, do ya?”

    Shine bared his teeth. This is that situation all over again, he thought. There was nothing at stake this time, but of all things, Shine hated nothing more than wounded pride. He looked at Curio square in the eye and nodded.

    “Alright, you’re on.”

    Curio relaxed into a more genuine smile. “That’s more like it.”

    Shine clinged onto the edge of the cart with his forepaws while Curio gripped it tightly, not wanting to careen off the hill too early. Once he lifted himself off the ground, he stumbled into the basket and landed on his back, fumbling around in it until he was sat up. He could feel his tail poking through the metal mesh below.

    Shine looked in front of him to see the hill’s slope. This was going to be a steep ride at the very least, if there wasn’t anybody else in the way. His pulse quickened. He was regretting it already. Before he could protest, Curio already started pushing the cart downhill. In his reflex, Shine grappled onto the rim of the basket, holding on for what felt like his life.

    “I didn’t even say I was ready!” he shouted.

    “Didn’t need to! Hold on!” Curio dumped her bag behind Shine and stepped onto the rail. The cart felt weightless. It went at a steady speed on the straight path at first. Once they reached the slope, however, they shot downhill. Both of them screamed. Curio sounded joyful. Shine didn’t. In fact, the speed reminded him all too well of Adele’s dragon riding. Not only that, each time the wheels bumped, he could feel the vibrations of the whole cart ring through his body. Did Quilladin actually enjoy this?

    They were about to approach a dead end. There was a sharp turn on the left.

    “Get ready for this!” Curio shouted.

    “Wait wait wait wait wait wait!”

    Curio shifted her weight to her right, sending Shine against one of the mesh wells. He held on. It still looked certain to him that they were about to crash, Then, Curio gripped the handle with her metal arm. The cart made a full 90 degree turn as it drifted around the corner.

    He couldn’t believe what he was experiencing. Was Curio really capable of this? After that turn, anything she would do next would be mundane in comparison. In any case, they were headed down the straight downhill slope again. Curio howled in the air as they raced down.

    In turn, Shine started roaring along with her too.

    ---

    The rest had been smooth sailings, save for the two occasional bystanders that had to make way. Once they reached the plateau at the end, Curio skidded her paws on the ground, acting as brakes, and slowed down the cart, which eventually stopped. Shine slunk down to the bottom of the basket and lied there, catching his breath. Curio stood above him, appearing upside down.

    “Now you can be mad at me,” she said.

    Shine smiled. “That was fantastic, actually. I’d never want to do that again, though.”

    Curio chuckled, then reached down to let Shine out of the cart. He dropped down to the floor beside Curio’s feet and she sat down beside him, ignoring their presence in the middle of the streets. Shine couldn’t help but glance at the bottoms of her paws, which were scuffed.

    “You used those to brake, correct?”

    Curio nodded.

    “How are they not torn up at this speed?”

    “Let’s just say I’ve had plenty of exercise.” Curio tapped the sole of her foot with a claw. “See? Tough as leather.”

    “Hello, you two.” It was Leafeon. They turned to see her running towards them. “I saw your downhill race. I’d give it full points if this were a contest.” She winked at Shine. “I see you’ve made it in one piece.”

    “Just barely,” Curio said before he could speak for himself. “How’s it going?”

    “Actually, I need to warn you about something. The master hasn’t forgotten about what you did a few days back.”

    Curio cocked an eye at her. “Yeah, so?”

    “So, he’s looking to press charges.”

    Curio blinked. “Excuse me?”

    “He told one of his other workers. Trespassing, destruction of property, plus he suspects you actually came there to steal, and stuff.”

    “Seriously?” Curio stood up, wagging a paw at her. “It was for a good cause, I swear! You can back me up on this, right, Shine?”

    Shine sat up and nodded. “Absolutely. She saved my hide from those Claws. Plus, I saw her drive them away from town and I don’t think I’ve seen anybody mention it since.”

    Leafeon’s lips straightened into a line.

    “I’ll believe it when I see it, but whatever. Point is, it’ll cost him a lot.”

    “How much exactly?” Shine asked, to which, Leafeon shrugged.

    “I suck at money and numbers so I can’t say for sure, but a lot lot.”

    “Well,” Curio scoffed, “Screw that. We’re going out of town soon anyway and nobody can stop us, unless you came here to fight.”

    Leafeon cocked her head with a thoughtful expression, then shook her head.

    “Eh. I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt. Besides, I’m no snitch. Not that I can really say much to change this situation, but hey.”

    “Good,” Curio smiled, then offered a paw to her which she shook in return. Leafeon came to do the same with Shine, which he returned too.

    “It was nice knowing you freaks anyway. See you.”

    With that, Leafeon disappeared up the hill, leaving the two on their own again. When Shine looked around him, he noticed the very visible presence the two had with the shopping cart still in tow. He turned to Curio.

    “We should probably return this where it belongs.”

    “It was abandoned when I found it, so we can just dump it.”

    He glanced to his right, noticing the passers by walking amongst them. Before he could say anything in protest, Curio pushed it down a small grassy ditch, leaving its wheels spinning in the air.

    “There were people watching,” he said.

    “And?” Curio said, “Got nothing to do with me. Shouldn’t we be heading down the park anyways?”

    Part of him wondered what Curio was thinking, and another part of him wondered if worrying about it was a waste. He chose the latter option and made his way to the park with Curio. They settled in an unoccupied spot and sat in the shade, keeping close to reach other. They found themselves talking very little during their rest. Curio made passing comments on whichever Pokémon she saw in the park, but Shine kept mostly to himself. It was so quiet, he could hear the wind brush past the leaves. It calmed him after the trip he had downhill. Eventually, the two dozed off close together, using Curio’s bag to support both of their heads.

    The trees started to rustle with a light breeze, then nearly stripped with the force of the howling wind, jolting Curio and Shine awake. Passers by made way as they stepped to one side, steering clear for a certain duo to land. It was Adele and her Dragonite Accendare. With each landing wing flap, the breeze brushed the two’s faces until Accendare jerked down with an ungraceful thump. Shine didn’t hesitate to approach them, as Curio followed.

    “Hello,” Shine said.

    “Nice to see you’re early!” Adele said, “Ready for another ride on the puke plane?”

    “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

    “And I see this is the Lucario you were talking about!” Adele jumped off the harness, ready to give Curio a handshake when she noticed the arm, and quirked an eyebrow at it.

    “Yeah, that’s the first thing folks usually notice,” Curio said in human tongue, “Makes for a good icebreaker, I’d say.” To make a point of this, she accepted Adele’s handshake with the arm as opposed to her paw. The rider’s face broke into laughter.

    “Oh man! This gets more interesting with each passing day! Alright, hop on!”

    The rider climbed onto Accendare’s back and helped the two get on. It didn’t take long for Curio to orient herself with the riding gear.

    “Are you still joining our lesson?” Shine asked Accendare.

    “Of course,” she said.

    With that, Adele signalled the Dragonite to take flight, and they were in the air within a minute. The two clutched the belts and for the entirety of the trip, held on as their lives depended on it.
     
  15. Aimi

    Aimi New Member

    Hi, NebulaDreams!

    I don't have a huge long review for you. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy reading your fic and love your characters. The originality of the storyline is great. I'm kind of afraid to learn more about what happened to Shine and Curio in the GeL lab but at the same time very curious. Keep up the wonderful writing and I look forward to your next chapter!

    ~aimi
     
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  16. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    So I've just finished Ch5 and decided it was about time I commented on it.

    I was the same. It felt weird at first but I got used to it quickly. It never occured to me one could place a story in a universe where Pokémon speak (outside of PMD style stories), but why not, right?
    It feels new and fresh. I am all for it now :)
    This. Exactly how I feel after reading Ch5. Not sure when I will be able to get back to read Ch6 (my job is getting hectic lately) but certainly looking forward to it. Good job mentioning a dark past briefly but taking your time before revealing it. Judging from the other comments you whetted everyone's appetite (myself included).

    I could comment here on side characters, but everyone already said it. Great job putting an effort and making them just as interesting as main characters. The world you created feels very lively because of it.

    And, about the main characters. I really like their interaction and dynamics between them. You chose to go the classic way: Opposites attact. Shine is the introverted underdog and Curio is the rough talking extroverted champion.
    It was a smart choice I think. Not only it makes their awkwardness due to separation more apparent, it is also a good way to provide more character drama whenever plot demands, and given the dark past that you hinted at I think this is something you are going to explore in later chapters. Another interesting aspect of this is, that I could see Shine and Curio become either loyal to the death - or enemies, or anything between. The greatly different personalities and the past you hint at make any of that a possible outcome. It makes it very hard to predict which way the relationship is going to evolve and I am really intrgued which way you are going to take.

    One thing that surprised me is that Magikarp gets served as food even in the universe where Pokémon are as intelligent and capable of speech as humans o_O
    I suppose depending on what we learn about GeL, it might be a theme of ongoing cruelty in this world/universe?
     
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  17. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    Thanks Aimi! I'm glad you found the storyline original and are intrigued in finding out more about these two protagonists.
    Thanks for continuing to read, Marika. I thought a story like this would be a tough sell at first, but I'm glad you stuck with it and enjoy the new perspective on this series.
    That does become a running theme later on, and speaking of which, there'll be more of that issue in this chapter.


    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 7 – Ambrette’s Teachers

    When they arrived at the ranch, the two had to rest. Although Shine didn’t vomit like last time as he got used to the sensation of flying at such a high speed, the nausea still caught up with him and wouldn’t let go any time soon. Oddly enough, to him at least, Curio didn’t seem as affected by it, only resting to catch her breath as one normally would after being exposed to the elements. She recovered once she adjusted to ground level again, and stood over Shine, blocking his view of the sky.

    “Come on, you big furball. Do I have to drag you up to your feet?”

    “You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to wait, this is my business.”

    “I know, but I can help out too, ya know. Just don’t keep me waiting.”

    Shine staggered to his paws, still dizzy from the ride. He shook his head, trying to get a grip on the world. The rider had already undone Accendare’s equipment and the assistants were walking back to the barn with it in tow. The two joined Adele.

    “So,” Shine started, “What level would you say Petri’s at?”

    “Well, we’ve been teaching him throughout the spring all the way up to here so far. He can do short sentences, and his pronunciation’s alright, but he has to break most words down bit by bit to be able to say them, which makes him sound kind of flat. His grammar’s fine, though, so on the whole, I’d say he’s reaching into an intermediate level.

    “What about his teacher?”

    “Unfortunately, he and Petri don’t get along well, but I’ll let him speak for himself.”

    “And is it alright if Accendare joins us?”

    “What, does she want to join in too?” She turned to Accendare, who nodded.

    “Well, you can as long as you can do some extra work tomorrow for the Postmon service.” Again, Accendere nodded and Adele gave her a little pat on the side. “Cool.” She turned.

    “Well, I don’t see anything else I should say, just feel free to report to the house beside the barn when it becomes sunset. You’ll see Petri over at the boggy pond. Oh, and feel free to take a break when you should, just so those two can get some exercise.”

    “Alright, thank you.”

    “Gotcha.”

    With that, the two headed over to the small bog where Petri, another Goodra and a pair of Goomy swam. When Petri spotted them, he leaned out of the pond and waved over to the group.

    “Hey Shine!” he said. “Are we starting now?”

    “We can if you want. I doubt Accendare will want to wait.”

    Petri cocked his head. “Who?”

    Accendare fumbled around with her paws.

    “Um, we’ve met before, Petri. At the—”

    “Oh yeah. Sorry, I have a hard time telling the rest of you Dragonites apart.”

    She mumbled something under her breath that vaguely sounded like “Says you” to Shine.

    “Oh, and Curio will be helping out as well. She is—”

    “Very pleased to meet ya!” she said, waving a paw, “I’ll be takin’ over just in case Shine makes you fall asleep!”

    “I was about to say she is my friend,” Shine said, “But that works too.” He looked over to a flat patch of grass. “Shall we sit over there?”

    Petri nodded and the two dragons followed behind Shine and Curio to sit down in the spot opposite them. Accendare sat away from Petri where he dripped goo into a puddle around him.

    “Well,” Shine started, “Let’s start by finding out more about this situation. Adele told me you’re being taught by a human at the moment.”

    He nodded.

    “And she also tells me you two don’t get along very well.”

    “Yes, well,” Petri paused, looking rather glumly to his side. “He isn’t the most agreeable human on the earth. He shouts at me a lot, only just because I talk the way I do. I don’t think he gets that we aren’t used to speaking in growls and cries.”

    “Well screw him,” Curio said. “Why didn’t you just tell that rancher he was being an asshole?”

    “I wouldn’t use that language to describe him. I wanted a better teacher, sure, but I didn’t want her to make a big deal out of it. She has enough work as it is maintaining all of us. Getting rid of him and going through the extra effort to find a Pokémon to replace him instead would be a waste.”

    “Alright,” Shine interrupted, then took a deep breath. “Let’s step back a bit. It sounds like you’ve been learning long enough for you to get past simple sentences, even from human to Pokémon. How has he been teaching you so far? Do you at least know which sounds go into each words?”

    “Well, nothing advanced like that, I just play it by ear. All he does is read aloud from a book aimed at human children learning to talk and tells me to go through each exercise. It gets the job done, I guess.” He made a sour face. “Although it’s a little degrading.”

    "Ah, I see what the issue is now. You have a bad teacher."

    "I do?"

    "He doesn't explain the basics and expects you to skip to sentences already. It's not just bad, it's inefficient. Me and Curio learned how to do simple sentences without stopping in just a month. Does he even know how our own language system works?"

    "He never said anything about it, he just told me it didn't need explanation."

    "It depends, but it helps to understand how to properly transition from Pokémon to human speech. But, let's backtrack here. One element of speech most Pokémon are exposed to is move commands. Have you ever wondered how we're able to understand those commands and how our powers correlate to it on instinct, without stopping to think what those words mean?"

    "Well, kind of. The more I think about it, the more it confuses me."

    "You see, we're able to understand it instantly because our language system is exactly the same. Same modes of address, same tenses, same manners of speech, all of these get passed down from one generation of Pokémon to the next as they communicate with each other, but how exactly we're able to pick up on it so fast is still a mystery. What separates us from humans are the sounds we use. Really stop to think about what sounds you're making when you say a word like 'hello' in your own tongue, then what sounds are used when you say the same thing in human. Listen to me, for instance.”

    Shine let out a friendly snarl, which was what it sounded like to the untrained human ear.

    "What did that sound like?"

    "Oo-arr-or."

    "And in human."

    Shine greeted Petri in the same tone of voice, except in human tongue.

    "Now, what did that sound like?"

    "Hell-oh!"

    "That's right, but there's one other thing your teacher neglected to mention. Since you learned to say that by ear, you're picking apart the sounds by syllables, which means you're doing it by the breaks of the words. But sound is a lot more complicated than that, which boils down to the vibrations your tongue makes when speaking. These are what we call phonemes, the little sounds that make up each word. Hello is more than just those two syllables. If we break it down by its proper sounds, what you have is 'ha', 'ell' and 'oh'. These are similar to the sounds you heard in our own tongue."

    "That... sounds a lot more complicated than I'm used to."

    "Don't worry, it was complicated for me at first, and at one point, I found it easier just to break it down into syllables. But once I knew how much work went into it and how to pronounce it phonetically, it sounded natural to me. I'll promise not to make it boring for you, but if you do, we can take a break. How does that sound?"

    "I'm still a little confused, but I can manage. To be honest, you sound like you know what you're doing more than that human."

    Shine glanced to his side, and saw that Curio had fallen asleep with her bag tucked under her head like a pillow. He gave a hard look at her, but brushed aside her sloth and continued with Petri.

    "I'll have to see that for myself. The important thing is that you're learning faster already. This will be good for you too, Accendare, since this is the sort of thing I started out with too. Now, let's put that into practice, shall we?"

    For the next couple of hours, Shine broke down the fundamentals of speech and gave Petri and Accendare brief definitions of linguistics, and worked through some of Petri’s problem areas such as his monotonous speech patterns. Petri was the most engaged over Accendare who listened attentively but only contributed to the conversation occasionally. If anything, Shine got the feeling she was bothered by something given how silent she was.

    Curio, on the other hand, had snored through the entire half session, so loudly and conveniently placed whenever Shine talked that he suspected she was doing it on purpose. When Petri suggested they would go on break, Curio woke up herself without anyone having to nudge her.

    “What’re we doing?” she said, stretching her paws.

    “Petri wants to go on break,” Shine said.

    “Yeah, um,” Petri said, “How long is long enough, would you say? I’m no good with minutes.”

    “Depends on what you want to do.”

    “Okay, how about a few games of Dodge?”

    This was a simple and efficient game to play as a Pokémon, as it involved dodging whichever projectiles came somebody’s way with whatever elements each Pokémon type had at their disposal. Shine nodded. He didn’t need to ask Curio if she would join in as she ran to another spot with Petri, leaving her bag behind. Shine stayed in place, simply watching the two trade blows with each other, as Curio threw aura spheres the size of tennis balls at Petri, and he threw globs of slime at her in return. Both were light on their feet, even Petri who was twice Curio’s size.

    Shine looked to his side and found Accendare by herself picking daisies with her claws. He inched closer to her, shifting his attention back and forth between the game and the Dragonite.

    “Is it alright if I call you Accy?”

    She shrugged.

    “Well Accy, I just want to make sure everything’s alright. You’ve been mostly quiet, after all.”

    She nodded, giving him a faint smile.

    “I was curious, why did you decide to join us? You must’ve had something good in mind when you thought about learning human.”

    “Of course,” she said, trying to put together a daisy chain, “I want to be able to talk to Adele.”

    “Sounds fair enough.” Shine relaxed and lied down on the grass. “Was there anything you wanted me to relay to her, though?”

    After fumbling around with the chain for a while, Accy stopped and broke it apart.

    “No, it’s something I have to do myself. I’m not sure you’d understand.”

    Shine craned his head up to look at Accy, who stared off into the distance, deep in thought. Shine wanted to find out what exactly he wouldn’t understand. but something in her tone suggested it was an issue she didn’t want anyone prying into. Accy suddenly turned to Shine and stood up, towering over him.

    “I’m sorry,” she said, distancing himself away from him, “I didn’t mean to sound rude. Forget it.”

    Shine’s maw hung open, trying to find the right way to respond. Something was clearly bothering her, he thought, but he didn’t know how to approach it or what the problem could be. It was at times like these that he wished he had Curio’s aura capabilities. Instead, he stood up and chased after Accy, her back turned to him.

    “There’s no need to apologise,” he said, to which, Accy turned to face, “You’re entitled to your secrets, after all. But if there’s anything you feel you can tell me, please do. I would be all ears.”

    She clasped both her paws together and nodded. Then splat. All of a sudden, a glob of slime hit Shine in the face, coating his face with the gooey substance. It didn’t hurt, but his heart rate quickened when it hit him. He jerked his body to the play area to see who was responsible. It wasn’t Petri who did it, but rather Curio who waved a dripping paw in the air as she grinned.

    “C’mon!” Curio said,” Join us!”

    When he saw Curio like that, he couldn’t help but laugh. He would probably need a bath to clean the goo off, but the damage had already been done. At that point, it wouldn’t be any different if he were to join them for a match or two. Before he went to the duo, he turned to Accy who was sat down again.

    “Would you like to join us?” he said. She shook her head and waved a paw in their direction. From then on, Shine had a few rounds of Dodge, using weak jolts of electricity as his choice of weapon. He placed last both times, falling victim to Curio’s aura once and to another goo glob from Petri, this time at his side. He would now need an extra long bath to get rid of it all.

    Without Shine needing to lift a paw, Curio declared that it was time to start the second half of their lesson. They returned to their circle. Before Shine could open his mouth to speak, Curio began.

    “I wanna try something different, with none of the theory crap this time.”

    Shine was about to say something in reply, but closed his mouth again. It was pointless trying to argue.

    “So,” Curio said in human tongue, “Speak as well as you can without stopping, and don’t worry if you get a few things wrong on the way. Tell me what you dragons get up to in this place.”

    “Oh,” Petri exclaimed. He rubbed a wad of goo together with his paws.

    “We train, like a-ny Pokémon, but we have diff-er-ent skills. I can not fly, but I can fight. We pre-pare for a long time. When we are rea-dy, we are able to go out for sa-le for a-ny trai-ner.”

    Curio frowned. “Doesn’t that kinda suck, though? Any random jerkwad could buy you and treat you like dirt.” Petri shook his head.

    “Our ca-rers do not let them. A trai-ner must have a good re-cord.”

    “Still, you didn’t ask for this, did you? You must have something you want to do for yourself.”

    Petri smiled at her. “I have met good trai-ners that have in-ter-est in me. They are kind to me. The people here are kind to me.”

    “Not that teacher.”

    “He is not from here. But if I can find a trai-ner who can buy me and be kind, I want to re-turn it to them. That is e-nough for me.”

    Curio leaned in closer to Petri, observing him. As far as Shine could tell, Petri was relaxed, and his smooth body was clean, so he could surmise he was being treated well. Petri's smile grew wider when Curio peered into his eyes.

    “I have no thing to hide. I am not thin-king any-thing else more than what I say here.”

    She nodded and pulled back.

    “You’re honest, I’ll give you that. I’ve just met a lot of Pokémon before who lied to themselves about this sort of thing.”

    Petri nodded in reply. “I know the say-ing of your kind.”

    The following conversations were a lot lighter as Curio mostly asked about Petri’s other activities in the ranch and his friends, and only mentioned vague details about herself when Petri asked her questions of his own, as she mentioned hearing about a few dragon ranches in Sinnoh. Shine was in the background, but this time, he let Curio go on as he could see she was encouraging Petri to speak. He thought about what he would do next time to help Petri progress further. If he could bring a chart or something like that, and possibly have Curio help him with it, it would help Petri become more fluent.

    —-

    When Shine next turned to the sky, it had become a blood orange with a pale ball of fire sinking into the horizon. That was time enough to end his shift. The ranch followed suit as the majority of the Pokémon in the fields joined an organised line, waiting for something. A slimy paw tapped his shoulder which drew him out of the scene.

    “Feeding time’s about to begin soon, so I think that’s all for now. Thanks, Mr. Shine and Ms. Curio.”

    He felt like blushing if he could. It was the first time in a while somebody addressed him so formally, let alone a Pokémon. Shine turned and bowed to him.

    “You’re welcome, Petri. I hope to see you again soon.”

    “Me too!” Petri gave him a wink before charging into the open field to join the rest of the Pokémon. He heard a few heavy steps plod behind him uneasily. Accendare hadn’t joined the rest of the group yet. Curio stretched a few metres behind them.

    “What’s wrong?” Shine said.

    Accendare’s eyes signalled over to the barn, lips creased into a frown.

    “Um, you two might want to head to the house soon. Feeding time gets a little, um, violent.”

    The duo’s expressions didn’t change, although there was a mutual understanding of what the situation was.

    “Um, thanks, you two. I think I, um, learned a lot.”

    “You’re welcome Accendare. Feel free to join us any time you like.”

    She nodded and sat down, staring at her feet. Something in Shine’s gut told him this was a situation he would have to see unfold through his own eye. He turned and nodded to Curio, who caught up with him and padded through the open area on the way to the farmhouse’s path. While they walked, they stayed silent for a bit, Curio absent mindedly picking at her ears with a tiny bone she cast from her Bone Rush.

    “Did you notice something odd about Accendare?” Shine said at last.

    “Nope,” she said, tossing the bone swab aside, “Nothing at all.”

    A part of him wasn’t convinced by Curio’s tone, but he felt no need to press further.

    “Must be my imagination.”

    When they arrived, they faced the back of the barn, which forked into two paths at each side leading to the house. They chose the one on the right and on the way there, they passed by two members of staff who lugged around two wheelbarrows full of Pokéballs. Shine couldn’t take his eye off it until they were out of his sight, knowing full well what purpose it had. Curio, however, didn’t bat an eye.

    Once they were in the house area, which was connected to the back of the barn, Shine caught a pleasant whiff of various cooked meats and felt his own stomach rumble. Despite the carnage that was about to unfold outside, he put those morbid thoughts to rest in favour of finding out what the scene was. Up a small flight of stairs beside them, a door stood ajar leading into the kitchen where various aproned staff worked. Shine’s paws started moving on their own, then he stopped himself as any sane person wouldn’t let any Pokémon waltz into their food storage. Curio didn’t hesitate to make her presence known as she took the first step up.

    “We can’t just walk in there,” Shine called out. Curio only waved a paw back.

    “It’ll be fine,” she said. “Just follow your nose.”

    She strutted into the house as Shine followed, desperate to convince her to come back outside. When he came in, he was surprised to see the staff hadn’t sicced their Pokémon on them or raised their knives in self defence. Rather, they continued working quietly, slicing up steaks of meat and adding them to the stew pot on a primitive looked flame-fueled stove. Only one person faced them and even then he seemed pleased to see the two.

    “You the two new teachers everybody’s raving about?”

    Shine didn’t know how to respond, so he just nodded in reply. The man smiled and pointed to the door on his right.

    “Dining room’s past there. The missus will be down in the jot, she just asked to see you two fed for your work today.”

    Curio gave Shine a smug look that said ‘told you so’.

    “Oh, thank you sir,” Shine said.

    “No need to be so formal. Go on, what’re you waiting for?”

    Without a word, the two headed to the dining room. Once they opened the door, they saw a chaotic gathering of various people of different ages, including the two assistants from before, all seated around one long table. Oddly enough, it didn’t fit the entire length of the room as there was still a bit of space left after the table ended, after which an unused smaller table sat perpendicular at the end of the room. When their presence became known among the group, an elderly man shakily raised his hand.

    “Come here, you two.” He spoke with the pleasant weariness of old age, and the duo stood beside his wheelchair at the far end of the table. He peered at them with his sunken eyes.

    “Yes, such an interesting couple you make. Adele told me you two fit each other.”

    Curio blinked. “And you are?”

    The elderly man leaned in closer, cupping his ear. “Terribly sorry. Can you repeat that?”

    Curio grunted. “What’s your name?”

    “Sorry, one more time?”

    “Who are ya, ya old fart?” she said, practically shouting at him. The man leaned in, taking in Curio’s comment. Shine gave her a severe look and nudged her. In response, she punched him in his side.

    “Ow,” he said, “Forgive my friend’s manners, sir.” Loud enough, this time.

    As if to cut the tension short, the old man gave a hearty laugh which devolved into a cough. He cleared his throat.

    “Not to worry. I know I’ve become a bag of bones as of late. Strange. A Pokémon comes up to speak to me in a language I understand and I have to tell them to repeat it. My ears must be cursed.”

    “You don’t seem terribly surprised you have two speaking Pokémon before you.”

    The old man shook his head. “I’ve seen a few speaking Pokémon during my career as a rancher. For some jobs, it’s a necessary skill for dragons to possess if team communication is important with their trainers. My daughter will tell you as much.”

    “So you’re Adele’s father?”

    He smiled. “Indeed. You can call me Remy.” His attention turned away from the two to something behind them. “Here come the tots.”

    They turned to see three children coming towards them, one boy no older than ten pointing at them.

    “Ooh, ooh! Can you say hello?” he asked.

    “Um, hello?” Shine said, not knowing what to expect. The children squeed and Shine suddenly found himself bombarded with hugging arms and grabbing hands that were two eager to pet his coat.

    “He said it!”

    “Aw,” a girl said, “I wanna take him home with me!”

    “Hey, don’t keep him to yourself, I wanna pet him too you know!”

    Shine sat still as they petted and patted at him in all sorts of ways, not wanting to offend any of them but was trying to find a way to get them to kindly get lost. All things considered, Shine was glad Tony didn’t have plans to have kids yet, or that a younger trainer took Tony’s place instead. Curio, however, opened her arms, welcoming them with a toothy grin.

    “C’mere” she said, “You can’t let that stick in the mud have all the fun.”

    Mercifully, the children stopped grabbing at Shine and gave Curio the attention she craved, crowding around her. One reached out to stroke underneath her chin, when she lowered herself to let them as the rest joined in. In the midst of it all, Curio closed her eyes and started panting, seemingly throwing all caution to the wind. That was a first for Shine. He had never seen her act so much like, well, a Pokémon in ages. One of them stepped back and pointed at the arm.

    “That looks interesting.”

    Despite its history, Curio nodded in agreement.

    “It sure is! I bet I could lift you all up with it.”

    “Can you?” All three asked in unison. She stepped back, crouched and outstretched it for all to grab a hold of. She stood up and soon enough, the children were swept off their feet, dangling in the air. Although Shine thought of this as another display of showboating, Shine couldn’t help but enjoy the sight of it.

    Then, a door opened nearby and out came Adele, dressed out of her ranching gear, revealing her long flowing hair as it swayed behind her dress. She entered, holding what appeared to be an instrument case and smiled at scene before her.

    “Right, you lil’ urchins. We’re starting dinner in a minute so you better get seated.”

    There was a collective groan amongst them and they let go of Curio’s arm, rushing back to their seats. Then, Adele stood in the centre at the edge of the table.

    “Everyone,” she called, getting the room’s undivided attention on cue, “Can we please have a moment of silence for our old pal here?”

    She held out the case in front of her for all to see and opened it, revealing an accordion with both of the keyboards split apart. There was a look of disappointment shared by everyone in the room.

    “But how?” Jean asked.

    She shrugged. “I was just practising on it and the damn thing broke on me. I thought I was quite careful with it, but oh well. It’ll probably be fixed or replaced by tomorrow, but sadly it looks like I can’t play for y’all tonight.” Adele closed the case and sat beside her father, setting it down on the table. She frowned and gazed at Remy.

    “Sorry Pa, I know how long you’ve had this passed around for.”

    He shook his head. “Don’t apologise. It’s just an accordion, they’re replaceable. Doesn’t matter when we bought it.”

    “I guess so.” She turned to the two teachers, flushing away the look of grief from her face.

    “So, how’d you two get on?”

    “Rather splendidly, I think.” Shine said. “Petri seems very thankful to have me as a teacher. Accendare’s finding my teaching interesting too.”

    “That’s swell to hear. It looks like you did a great job, so I thought I’d have the boys do you some grub in return.”

    Hearing that, Shine bowed to her. “I’m very thankful. It really wasn’t necessary, I’m the one in your debt after all.”

    Curio gave him another punch in the side.

    “Don’t mind him, he’s always lookin’ a gift Ponyta in the mouth.”

    Adele shook her head. “He’s just polite, that’s all. But to tell you the truth, we usually make a ton of food during dinner, so what’s left over gets chucked into the field for the dragons to have as a snack before settling down. Not that they don’t get plenty of food as is, mind you.”

    He thought back to the stash of Pokéballs being wheeled to the farm and winced. Part of him wanted to ask what sort of Pokémon were being fed to the dragons there, but that went without saying. Instead, he looked over at the case still on the table and changed the subject.

    “Do you play accordion?” Shine asked.

    “No Shine,” Curio scoffed, “She uses it to beat people to death.”

    To that, Adele laughed, tracing her hand over the case.

    “Well, that would explain how it got so messed up. But yeah, I’ve been practising ever since I learned to walk. Maybe not that long back, but you get the picture. Course, I don’t find as much time for it now as I did back then, but a couple of hours a night does me good.”

    “You should visit her one day in town if you ever get the chance to see her play,” Remy said. “She’s usually at The Krabby and Co. on off days.”

    The cooks entered the room wheeling in trolleys of trays containing everyone’s meals. They served them at the tables complete with tankards of beer and afterwards, tended to Shine and Curio as they laid two trays on the floor. Both of them consisted of a bowl of cassoulet with a few slices of baguette and a water bowl for them each, except only Curio’s contained cutlery. Shine bowed to them and started to sample the ingredients of the stew, filled with beans, slices of skin and tender meat that had a tangy taste to it. If Shine had to guess, it belonged to a Flaafy, which was probably being served raw and alive outside.

    Shrugging it off, he continued to eat quietly, as Curio shoved spoonful after spoonful in her maw and chewed rather noisily. By the time she was finished, Shine wasn’t even halfway through his.

    After they were done they hung around for a bit and mingled with the other guests that took an interest in them, a lot of which were a part of Adele’s extended family and others simply being her apprentices. While Curio attracted most of the attention in part due to her arm, Shine was mostly in the background of the conversation. He didn’t mind this though as Curio thrived in interaction more than he considered himself to.

    Once the two had enough, they decided to head home to meet Tony. Before they left, Adele told Shine of his next expected lesson, which would be in the morning the day after tomorrow. When they left the house, Shine took one look at the field separated by the fence. The chaos he imagined had died down as every Pokémon there had eaten and were dozing off as far as he could see. It was night, so it was hard to see any of the aftermath, and he thought of looking with his golden vision to see if anything had been left behind. Then, Curio gave him a hard pat on the back.

    “Jeez Shine,” she said, “You’ve been thinkin’ about those damn livestock all night. It’s normal, just don’t pay attention to it.”

    “I know I shouldn’t, it’s just something I’ll never get used to.” He sighed. “Let’s go, then.”
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  18. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams Meme Stockbroker

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 8: Ambrette’s Subjects

    With food in their bellies and a half day of work behind them, Shine headed back to Tony’s apartment with Curio. Although Shine wasn’t entirely sure how to retrace his steps back home from when Bauble dropped him off two days back, his golden vision helped guide him to where there were people. Once he got back to the city, the walk home was easy, and it gave him a sense of peace to see the fading light of the sky.

    Shine led the way through the apartment complex, which was made up of several different floors, although Tony’s was only on the second. When they reached the floor, it led to a balcony area that led to the entrances of each apartment. They stopped after reaching Tony’s, the door with the flap at the bottom. A feeling of dread suddenly hit Shine. It was the first time he had ever gone out like this on such short notice, and didn’t know how Tony would react to his departure. Nonetheless, he gulped down his pride and was ready to enter.

    “Wait here,” Shine said, “I’ll have to get him to unlock it from the inside.”

    “Do what you gotta do.”

    Shine took a deep breath and entered through the flap. He could tell Tony had come back since the radio was on and the smell of oil drifted through the air, so he padded over to the kitchen and there he was, hunched over the grill. Without batting an eye, Tony leaned over to turn the radio off, continuing his cooking.

    “Er, hello,” Shine said. Even though his trainer wasn’t looking, he bowed out of courtesy. “Sorry.”

    “That’s alright,” Tony said, “I’m not going to scold you for going out. Sure, I could’ve done with a bit more notice, but I’m glad you’re back.”

    Shine breathed a sigh of relief. Hearing Tony’s reassuring voice again took a bit of pressure off of the past few days. He curled up beside his trainer’s legs, purring affectionately.

    “How come you’re back so late?” Tony probed.

    “It’s a long story,” Shine said, “But for now, somebody’s waiting for you to let them in.”

    When he heard that, Tony stopped, put the frying pan to one side and turned to Shine, wide eyed.

    “You found her?” he said.

    "Yes, and I wouldn't keep her waiting if I were you."

    “Right, right,” he jerked his head, looking from one place to another. “Where’s my kit?”

    One look with his golden vision told him. “It’s still in your studio.”

    Tony rushed to the other side of the apartment and came back towing his camera case. He shakily opened it and assembled it in front of Shine, putting the camcorder and the zoom mic together. “I saw the paper Ines gave me, but how did you manage?”

    It wasn’t something Shine wanted to worry Tony about since he had been inches away from needing a seeing eye Pokémon to follow him around.

    “Again, long story.” Shine glanced behind him to look at the front door. “Can I let her in already?”

    “Can I get this ready first?” Tony asked, “I want to meet her as I’m taking the shot, if you don’t mind.”

    Curio wouldn’t be too happy about being made to wait, Shine thought, but if it was necessary for Tony to film her reaction, then she could bear another minute alone. Shine nodded and Tony continued to put the equipment together. He finally turned it on and stood up, walking towards the door. Tony pressed the REC button just as they were inches away from the handle.

    “Can you open this for me?” Tony said. Shine nodded and stood on his hindpaws to pull on the handle, opening the door. Nothing was there. Upon seeing this, Shine rushed out the door to see where she was, before giving his trainer an exasperated look.

    "I can explain."

    "I believe you."

    Shine turned on his golden vision and realised what had happened. Curio had wandered off to another side of the floor for whatever reason. To catch her attention, he roared, and she took the hint, appearing not long after.

    “Didn’t realise how nice the view was from up here,” Curio said, expression dropping. “So, you’re Shine’s trainer, huh? Took you long enough.”

    “Yes, sorry about that. I’m Tony.” With his other arm free from the camcorder, he outstretched it for a handshake. “It’s wonderful to meet you after all this time. I’ve heard a lot about—”

    “Are you recording me already?” She pulled back, baring her fangs.

    “Yes. I thought it would be a good shot to—”

    “I don’t care!” Curio raised her voice, “You can’t just film me like some safari Pokémon, shut it off!”

    Tony did as she said. He pointed the camera away from her.

    “I was in my right to. I didn’t mean any harm.”

    “Whatever,” she said, “Can I come in now?”

    “Absolutely.” He backed away and allowed her to enter. She stormed through the hallway. Shine looked back at Tony, who pointed a finger to himself.

    “Did I upset her somehow?” he said. Shine shook his head.

    “Not as far as I know, I didn’t think it would provoke her that much,” He looked past his trainer to see Curio occupied in the living room. “I’ll deal with Curio while you finish cooking.”

    Without needing Tony’s approval, Shine padded over to where Curio was, poking at the various oddments on Tony’s desk. One particular object caught her interest as she held it up in front of her: a framed picture of Tony and Shine together with various other people and Pokémon she hadn’t met yet. Shine patted his paw on her leg, turning her away from the photo. She frowned.

    “Sorry about that,” Shine said, “I should’ve asked if it was alright for him to film before you came.”

    “As you should. C’mere.” She fell onto the couch, putting her feet up on the table as she motioned Shine to join her. He climbed up near Curio and she held out the photo for him to see.

    “Who’s they?”

    “Some of his friends from where he works.”

    “Eh.” She casually tossed the frame onto the table which made a clattering noise. Shine could’ve turned white; it was a miracle the glass hadn’t broken.

    “Careful!”

    “Sorry, I guess,” Curio said with a shrug. She jerked her head from her right to her left. “This is where you live?”

    “Don’t you like it?” Shine said. “Sorry if you think it’s a bit of a mess.” Curio cocked an eye at him.

    “You kidding? This is cleaner than most places I’ve been to, too clean if you ask me. You know, I’d be happy to mess this place up for you if you want.”

    “Look,” Shine glared at her, “Can you try to be civil here? I don’t want Tony to feel like an intruder in his own home.”

    “Civil? We’re Pokémon. Besides, I’m not here to sip tea with your trainer or whatever it is he gets up to, I just want to get this thing over with.”

    He sighed. “Can you at least be patient with him when he talks to you? You only need to deal with him until he goes back to work tomorrow, then we practically have the whole day to ourselves.”

    Curio wrinkled her nose. “I won’t make no promises, but I’ll try.”

    “Good.”

    A minute later, Tony came in with a plate full of stir fry, sitting beside Shine. Curio gave him a look and slunk down to the floor, distancing herself from the two. He jabbed a fork into a mess of noodles and took a mouthful.

    “Alright,” Curio said, “Whaddya need me to do? I didn’t come here to watch your stuff your face, you know.”

    Tony gulped down and smiled.

    “I like your attitude. Didn’t Shine tell you what we’re doing?”

    “Well, he told me, but I still don’t know what this means exactly. I’m not even sure what a documentary is other than the fact it’s a film. Where’s the crew and the fancy props?”

    “Nowhere, this is all a one man show. Now you mention it, I wish I had that kind of power, though.”

    “Yeah, but how does this work? Do I just talk into a camera, is that all I do? Doesn’t make for a very good flick if it just has a Lucario staring into a screen.”

    “There’s more to it than that. There are plenty of other shots I’d like to film as well, shots of you and Shine together, anything that serves the story if I’m able to. I’ve interviewed Shine in the past before as well, so I’ll work that into the film too.”

    Curio stood up and pointed at Shine, baring her fangs.

    “You never told me that, that makes a world of difference! Why the hell d’you bring me here if you already told him everything?”

    “I haven’t,” Shine said, “He knows what happened up until the takeover, and after that, only a few bits and pieces off the record.”

    “What’s that mean?”

    “Off camera. The kind of things you aren’t comfortable with revealing to the world yet.”

    “So you dragged me here to tell him for you?” Curio shook a fist at him. “What a bunch of crap! I don’t want to talk about it any more than you do, so forget it!” She brought herself closer to Tony, barely touching the tip of his nose with her muzzle. “I’m not staying here just to talk so you can get rich off of me and Shine’s suffering. Screw you.”

    Curio was about to storm off when Tony put his plate down on the table and inhaled deeply.

    “Curio.” His voice resounded in the house, not by shouting, but by speaking clearly and without doubt in his tone. Curio stopped short of turning the front door’s handle. “I didn’t ask Shine to tell his story for that reason. Since I started doing this, Shine has opened up a lot more about himself to me and is more willing to get out of the house. I’ve seen him smiling more often as well.”

    Curio turned back and slowly entered the room, standing in the corner.

    “Besides, there’s little money involved in this. Buying equipment has taken its toll on my wallet. On weekends, I’ve been spending nights looking over the footage I have and assembling it all together. It takes a lot of time to produce, what little time I get off work in the first place. So if you’re worried about that, it’s simply not the case.”

    Curio returned to her spot on the floor and crossed her arms, staring at her feet. Shine joined her and started rubbing his muzzle on her face. She ruffled her paw through Shine’s mane and looked into his eye.

    “Is this true?” Curio asked. Shine nodded.

    “I’ve seen the way you reacted when I first mentioned GeL. And from what I heard, you talked little about yourself when you were back in Dendemille. Haven’t you talked about this with anyone?”

    Curio shook her head.

    “Then now might be your chance. This will help you.”

    Curio moved her paw to Shine’s shoulder and squeezed it.

    “I didn’t come here for myself. Well, I wanted to see the town, actually, but I only signed up to this interview thing to help you out, not to take a step backward into my own past.”

    “I might not have the same powers as you, but I can tell when something else is going on. I held it all in for a long time after my escape. It eats you up from the inside and makes you an emotional husk. I don’t know how you coped with it all this time without telling anyone, and you might’ve done fine with it up until now, but it’s hurting you too, deep down. Am I right?”

    Curio kept a blank expression, not allowing Shine to read into her thoughts. Instead, she looked at Tony, who was in between another mouthful.

    “I won’t tell you everything at the moment,” she said, “But where do you want me to start?”

    Tony swallowed. “From the start. If you don’t want to talk about GeL yet, talk about yourself. You were a couple of years old before you were brought there, right?”

    Curio broke away from Shine and stood up.

    “Wouldn’t it be better if you started recording before I tell you?”

    Tony nodded.

    “Well then, I won’t sit here smelling your noodle breath, so I’m going for a walk.” She knelt down to stroke Shine’s ears. “I wanna be alone for a bit, but I’ll be back.”

    “Swear it on your tail?”

    “You betcha.”

    —-

    An hour passed and Tony, having finished his dinner, was in the middle of assembling the lighting set up in his studio: a small room that was essentially an extension of the living room with no windows and various cabinets full of equipment. Shine sat in a corner of the room on a cushion, reading the rest of the newspaper which Tony brought back. He was deeply engrossed in the text, reading page by page. Then...

    “Boo.”

    Curio stepped in, alerting the two to her presence. Shine jumped from his sitting position.

    “You could’ve knocked before coming in.”

    “Well,” Curio said, “Your trainer didn’t mention anything about not coming in, so there’s that.”

    “Point. Still, it’s common practice to.”

    “Whatever.” Curio wandered off to where Tony was, adjusting the light settings on one of the stands. “What’re these for?” she said, switching to human.

    “We’re indoors, so we need the light to be as bright as possible.”

    “Huh.” Curio raised a paw in front of a light, casting a shadow onto the walls and making a snapping motion with it like a puppet. “Don’t really see the point of it but I guess that works. Am I ready to talk now?”

    “Go for it. Tell me when you want me to record.”

    Curio shrugged and threw her bag onto one of the cushions before jumping on one of the seats. She squinted her eyes, holding a paw to her face.

    “I’ll turn it down just a bit.” The light in the room dimmed, and Tony sat down next to the camera as Shine followed, sitting beside his legs. Curio crossed her arms.

    “This is feeling kinda weird already. So am I just talking to myself here? Who does that?”

    “It was weird for me too,” Shine said, “But it helps to treat it like you’re a having a conversation with someone else.”

    “That’s right,” Tony said, stroking at Shine’s head, “Treat the camera as if it’s not there and just look at me when you’re talking. See if that helps.”

    “I guess.” Curio fidgeted in her seat, trying to find the most comfortable position where she wasn’t squashing her tail, and relaxed. She took a deep breath and smiled.

    “I’m ready.”

    Tony nodded and held up three of his fingers in one hand and had the finger on the REC button on the other. Silently, he counted down. Then the camera beeped.

    “This is interview B, first few questions, take one. Who are you?”

    “Well, my name is Curio, and I’m a Lucario, I guess.”

    “And what do you do?”

    “What do I do? Well, what do Pokémon usually do? I don’t think lots of people ask that about me. I travel a lot, meet a lot of people and Pokémon, and make stuff sometimes.”

    “What sort of stuff?”

    “Let’s see...” She reached into her bag and pulled out a model of a Noctowl, similar to the Magikarp she gave, except in full scale. She turned it around in her paw.

    “I was still sleeping rough in Hearthome after I escaped, and one of the things I did during the day was visit the local scrapheap for anything I could find. You find lots of interesting things humans just dump there, you know. I made friends with this wild Noctowl that browsed through the trash there, and I wanted to make this for him using the stuff I found there. I think it took me a few days. When I finished it, he only looked at it once and said his farewells, so I just kept it, I guess. That was around the time I found this bag, so I’ve been piling a lot of stuff on over the years. It’s been a godsend, let me tell you.”

    “That looks good,” Tony said, to which, Curio frowned.

    “Yeah, for a Pokémon, you mean.”

    “No, I’m actually impressed. I might not look it, but that’s how I feel.”

    There was a brief pause as Curio glared at him. By now, Shine had seen her do it often enough that he knew she was trying to read into Tony’s thoughts. Then she nodded.

    “Alright, I believe you.”

    He nodded again and stopped recording. Curio shoved the curio back into the bag, which despite looking as big as the bag itself, fit perfectly into it. She gave Tony a hard look.

    “That was it?”

    “No,” Tony said, “I’m just separating each question per video. It saves me a lot of time by doing that instead of going at it all at once.”

    “Shouldn’t we do try that again though? I screwed up near the end.”

    “It’s fine. Edit it in post, as they say.”

    Curio leaned forward as if trying to understand what Tony was talking about, but shrugged it off and reclined back into her seat. She shot Shine a smirk.

    “That wasn’t half bad, actually.”

    Shine returned the smile.

    “Alright,” Tony said, “Tell me when you’re ready and I’ll start the next question.”

    “Ready.”

    Tony clicked the REC button again and announced the second shot to the camera.

    “Now, what was your life like before you were brought to GeL?”

    “Well, nothing too spectacular, that’s kinda what brought me there in the first place. My parents made whoopee, Mom squeezed me out and I hatched from an egg onto a little island only me and my family inhabited. I could bore you by talking about every detail of my life as a Riolu, hell, I’m half tempted to do it just for kicks, but I’d sooner end myself with one of my spikes right here.

    Where I really want to start is how my interest in humans began. You’re all such weird creatures. You can grow facial hair, you can walk on two legs, and you have completely different rules to what Pokémon have. No Pokémon could’ve come up with a society where they make us lesser beings fight, after all. Probably. But that’s what I found so delightful about you humans; the way you moved, the way you acted, it was all strange, and I wanted to see how it all worked. That’s what’s led me to where I am now.

    You could say its my own fault I ended up this way, and you’d be right. But, that’s life, I guess. And if this is going to be the story about my life, I should probably tell you about Mom first.”

    ---

    Author’s Note:
    This will be the last chapter in my backlog before I move onto Curio’s story, and I haven’t written the first drafts for all of those chapters yet, so I will be taking a break from uploading and will focus on getting those done. You can expect to see new chapters around September or before then, depending on how much free time I have as I will be job-seeking and looking for a new flat in preparation for my final year at Uni.

    Thank you all for your continued support. This has been a pleasure to work on and thanks to the feedback I’ve gotten so far, I’ve noticed an immense improvement in my own writing from before I started uploading my fanfiction.
     
  19. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    Nice chapters. A bit straightforward, but there is nothing wrong with that. It feels like a calm before storm because you are clearly moving your pieces to a certain position.
    After Ch8 everything is pretty much set & ready to explore Curio's backstory as well as the dark past / GeL business... so we are in for a treat when you get back :D
    There was some foreshadowing about cruelty/hurting Pokemon in this world... also Accy's secrets - those are both interesting subplots.

    In case you want to know what is going on in your readers' heads, there are three plots/themes that keep me coming back and see how will you tackle (and eventually resolve) them:
    1. What happened to Shine and Curio in GeL and how did they escape
    2. How is the relationship between those two going evolve
    3. The above mentioned cruelty theme (which may be related to GeL backstory)
    Good job on them so far!

    I also have a really minor nitpick about Ch7... Specifically the first part where Shine, Curio, Adele and the dragons meet. It is sometimes hard to tell who is saying which lines, because there is a lot of quotation but few he said / she said.

    Oh and I spotted a typo (missing the capital B):
    Like I said, good job so far. Really looking forward to what Curio will tell us about her past and GeL. And don't worry about being busy over the summer, RL is important and comes first! Good luck with your job. Fingers crossed for you mate.
     
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  20. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    I've read up to chapter six now! And I've gotta say, I really like how you write Shine and Curio's character dynamic. Her reckless energy balances well with his more cautious and thoughtful approach to things, and I love the teasing that goes on between the two. I wasn't expecting their fight to be so short, haha. Man, she just totally clobbered him. Though I was a bit confused at the line “Hit me already, you coward!”, as he had already attacked her once by that point, so it wasn't like he was being a pacifist or anything.

    In any case, while Curio's reactions to Shine might have been a tad over-the-top, there's no denying that he didn't bring up the topic of interviewing her about her past as delicately as he maybe should have. :p Should be interesting to see what happens next now that they're flying back to Ambrette. I'm also really curious to learn more about how Shine escaped and why he had to leave her behind. And how she managed to escape later, for that matter. But all in good time.

    Also, as a random side detail, I really like your descriptions of food! They always make me hungry, lol.

    ~Chibi~
     
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