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MATURE: The Story of Fritz Westmyn: The Turning World (old, crusty, abandoned)

Stellar Flaze:
However, I do admit that the chapter in itself wasn't too bad, the lowest point was the battle though, it just felt kind of slow to me for some reason though maybe I'm just too picky with battles so don't pay too much attention.

Weird, I wasn’t going for slow-paced there. Aside from that one part where both Pokes are hurt. It was probably the way it was narrated, then.

Teiko and Teiko with the thing that I can't type in a laptop. Interesting joke if I do say so myself.

Backstory: when I was looking around for male Japanese names for Ms. Odell to use, I noticed Teikō - which was close to Teiko. I thought it would be funny if there was a couple who had similar names; plus it gives a face to otherwise faceless individuals.

Then there's the teachers, it was nice seeing them, but their classes felt a bit rushed to say the least, I can understand that you wanted to show the first day back again and it was good to see the characters back to class but there were some things that felt a little bit pointless even if they were pretty funny xD such as the art class, yes it brought a lot of humor to the chapter and showed how their teacher wasn't actually capable of being one but overall I felt that it was a part that could've been skipped or summarized in one paragraph.

FUN FACT: In the original draft, I did sum it up. I even still have that part. However, I decided that between showing the teachers again, as well remembering as show, don’t tell, it was better to have it the way I did it. It also let me do a bit more development and expositioning of their characters.

Here's the beta version of the original part, for your viewing pleasure. Also note a few differences, most notably Mr. Yamaguchi not being against Fritz.

As April gave way to the month of May, peace was able to return to Moldeau. Even a couple hours removed from my hearing it, the relief washing over the citizens of the town and students of Rukh's University alike was immediate. The school was set to reopen on the Tuesday. The day when the calendar would be turned to the next page.

When that page turned, it was immediately apparent: everything was a gigantic clusterfuck.

May as well start from day one. Biology came first in the morning, and that was deceptively unaffected. Indeed, the good doctor proceeded to teach the class as if nothing had happened. He continued from two weeks ago, precisely where we had left off. This innocuous air was compounded by the - for once - pleasant arrival of Cronus Aporon during lunch. He kept the chat brief, saying that the Tactics tournament would not be affected by the switch-up. Come May 18th, it would begin. The class went smoothly as he advertised, although the same could not be said for Mr. Yamaguchi's class. But let's not get ahead of ourselves - those classes came on the second day.

Afternoon of the first came Art class, and hoo boy. Where do I even begin? I'm caught between trying to summarize what happened from my own viewpoint, and telling what happened piece by piece. So I'll do both. Ms. Odell was having a meltdown. She had no idea what to do, after having missed a week's lessons and not having taught this grouping a single lesson thanks to her day of introductions coupled with the assembly.


Again, as Aporon had proclaimed, Tactics class proceeded as nothing had happened. In fact, not once did Mr. Baiaz even bring up the forest fire; I only heard mention of it from conversations my classmates were having.

But Mr. Yamaguchi in Socials. That class also proceeded as if nothing had happened. While this was good news for an open class such as in the morning, the foreboding could be instantly sensed by even the densest of our block in the afternoon. The silence was deafening as we waited for him to speak. Unlike Art, there was a clear lesson plan in place for this class from the very beginning of the year. A plan that, despite the shock of the incident in the forest, would be stuck to regardless of the actions of other individuals.

"Oh, god damn it." were the words I rasped as soon as I heard it. I wasn't the only one who could tell right away where this was headed, but my friends were a little slower on the draw.

"What do you mean-" Reika started to ask, as our teacher began to elaboarte.

"Today, on May 2nd, you will be learning of what I had planned for you to learn on May 2nd. The reading and work from the week missed will be for you to do this week on your own time."

"...oh, god DAMN it." Reika cursed, and for once, her complaints were among the quieter. Pleas, logical debate, and even verbal abuse was being thrown at the teacher, but he was having none of it. Mr. Yamaguchi was sticking to his carefully crafted plan, and there was nothing anyone could do to change his mind.

So yeah. A week's worth of assignments PLUS the stuff being assigned. All the first-years were invariably screwed over, and judging by how the elevated stress level was spread closer to 80% than 30% amongst the students as a whole, I'm guessing more than one other class followed suit. And with all this garbage being thrown my way all at the same time, there's very little time to be doing anything. I like to stay positive though - this also means I won't have to put up with Aporon and his goons as much.

It was nice to see Fritz and Ina get along with each other, which is why I felt bad when he went back to his usual attitude cause I acually like Ina a lot cause of how different she is from the rest of the characters, yes she's dumb as a brick but that's a nice change of pace.

Heh, Aie said that he liked Fritz' flip-flopping opinion on her. She is a nice breath of fresh air though, isn't she? Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

I do notice that a lot of your characters seem be...kind of bitter xD or maybe too serious but that's actually a funny thing cause most of my characters are quirky and light-hearted.

Yeah, though none really reach the level of crazy of Ina, lol.

It was nice to finally see Phoebe and I have to admit her introduction was a good moment in the chapter,

I'm glad I pulled it off well.

I honestly wanted Fritz to just punch the lights out of Aporon's lackeys for what they did even if it was just embarrassing her and that's really really bad in and on itself.

He was going to. :D But Aporon got in the way.

I mean, Reika's Wigglytuff - which she's had for a while - being beat by a Pokémon someone's owned for only two weeks? Thatcher may have been iffy to begin with, but Aporon...
This isn't huge, but being less vague in moments like this would really help make a better impression. Saying that Reika had Wigglytuff for six months give more of an impression of Ina's Glaceon's power than saying she had it for six weeks for example.

Fair point. Though she's had it for over six years. ;) On the other hand, the point I was trying to get across was Reika's inability, rather than Snowy's ability. I'll keep it in mind for later, though.

Thatcher's Contest shenanigans and winning those ticket and something I'm wondering whether or not will have an impact on anything in the future and, of course, what of the fourth ticket?

I was wondering that myself for the longest time. >_> I was half-caught between keeping it at four or switching it to three or what else. Then there were a bunch of other little things. In short, I hope the following chapter turned out okay.

Also the scene with the Dean, I get the feeling this is all mounting up to something that's right under my nose that I'm not catching. It does seem to be foreshadowing something important though, well aside from the usual antagonist spiel.

Heh heh.

Liane reappears, well that was unexpected I wonder how things will continue to change from this point on...gotta a theory or two I think.

Well, there was originally going to be a scene where - riding the momentum of the Art class being in the state that it was in - Liane would suggest something in her block for all the Art blocks to participate in (solving all Ms. Odell's problems at once) that would effectively put Thatcher's tickets up for grabs. There was just too much going on in 2-4 as-is to write it in, though. So I'll have to find another way to follow it up...

Aporon's "training" certainly is quite particular, it doesn't seem like Fritz's Pokemon themselves are training to become stronger and Aporon still doesn't come off as a massive jerk-face. He's a bit vain and overbearing at times but doesn't seem to do many fundamentally wrong things, his cronies however are pretty villain-ish and obnoxious.

Good point on the Pokemon thing. *added a line to point that out in this chapter*

The ending with Phoebe was quite, quite dunno weird. Aporon literally had her as a maid and cleaning things up for them, his philosophy on why he did that seems warped. For a second I thought there might have been some perverted tendencies behind the maid thing but didn't expect to see her going through all that.

Another case of me not being exactly clear. Aporon was training Fritz, and his cronies were training Phoebe. The maid thing was Edgar and Lawrence's idea. David didn't stop them, taking an approach like Aporon in finding a way to justify it...but he clearly didn't really support them either.

They protect from assault, but Zooarchaeology has discovered the species did not always have these.
Zoo archaeology

Actually, it is all one word: Zooarchaeology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia .

Starts off nice and slow, which is good, I think. You can't have them all going a mile a minute. And Thatcher is adorable as per the usual; though, I wonder what he was trying to say at that first bit of biology.
Thatcher was going to point out that they might've kept to the old schedule so they don't have an imbalance of classes. e.g. they've have more of the two classes than the two others through the year. He stopped that thought when he realizes it would've been the same anyway - just in the opposite order (e.g. Art in the morning, Biology in the afternoon)

The external reason for the switcharound was so that Socials could be last on Wednesday. Though I never did figure out the internal reason.

"She sleeked over to him." Sleeked over to him. Sleeked. Dear God. It's like innuendo incarnated into a word. And lol. She be trying to seduce dem single boys. Scandalous.

But Fritz is single. What does that tell you? Or to be more specific, what do you think Ms. Odell thinks...?

And the whole "MISTER MEAN TEACHER MAAAAAN" is hilarious (I'm sorry, I'm just a bundle of jokes today). Well, it's hilarious for me, but not for Fritz and co. And it gets better! Gotta love Shugiri either way though. She's my bro.

Shugiri is pretty fun to write.

Yay random explosions.

There's an explanation for everything~

Oh hey, Fritz has to tutor someone in ba- OH MY GOD. ITS ELYNA! Yay! And dear sweet Lord, bless that child. She is just so clueless (Ina, btw). "She fell." "Huh?" "From a cliff." [/deadpan]

Was figuring out how to write her in more. And, this worked!

ON TO THE BATTLE! Bellossom vs Lapras. I do love it when you customize Pokémons' appearances just slightly. It really gives a certain... charm? To your story. Enough of me being crazy!

Except when it's a dirty Glaceon, of course. ;P

And a Lapras bitchsmacking Bellossom is now forever imprinted into my mind. Thank you. My life is complete.


Hokay. So, I'm calling it. Ina is officially crazy. I can literally hear the hysterical, demented note in her voice when she talks to Fritz about Round.

She's quite the crazy/overly positive one, yeah.

I'm just gonna gloss over this last bit which just rings a bit too close to like rape, for my taste. I SENSE A ROMANTIC LOVE INTEREST THOUGH! *gleeful cackle*

oh gosh~

Isn't this one coming up where we get to see more of the mysterious girl (dear Lord, I need a name for this bitch)? SO TILL NEXT TIME MY DARLING! So probably till tonight, you say?

One after this.


Chapter 2-5: Showoff Showdown

The heralding of the weekend did nothing to soothe the nerves of the student body, and there's no better example than Phoebe and I. We're currently sitting in Lawrence's room before our mentor in the tournament, the room's co-owner (the other and his possible lover isn't present), and their two pals.

I'm alert and prepared, in contrast to Phoebe's resigned sorrow. She's wearing ordinary clothes today; namely, a black T-shirt with a circular design of sort in the middle, and dark gray sweatpants. A patchwork red and white headwrap neatly shields her raven hair. Her face states that she wishes it could cover her whole body.

"So," Aporon was the first to address us, "This is the first time we've got you two together. This is a Multi Battle tournament. You're going to have to train together as well as on your own."

Edgar was relaxed, at least for his standards. He was more wily than vehement while asking the question that was on all six of ours' minds, "So what should we make them do?"

The four began to think about this. Phoebe and I could only tensely await their decision. Aporon stroked his beard. The prep crossed his arms and looked up the the ceiling, while the nerd placed his on his knees as he gazed at the floor. Edgar remained where he was. That is to say, leaning against a wall, staring at us wickedly. Then, Lawrence snapped up, cackling.

"Heheh...make out."

The four friends laughed hard. "Not a bad idea!" the prep stated, "You two should make out."

Phoebe's face went flush red. She looked at me, then scooted about a foot away, putting up her arms in protest. "No! I...I'm not going to do THAT!"

"Okay," My reaction also involved the aforementioned color, though it was concentrated in my retinas. "What does THIS have to do with training?" Aporon mumbled something to himself under his breath. He seems to know where they're going, but is allowing them to explain. The norm for him.

"It's like, er, hey!"

"The most effective teams in Double Battles have been shown to be the ones who know one another well."

"Yeah, so you two should like...heh heh...REALLY get to know each other!"

"But," Phoebe protested. Squinting tightly, she turned her even redder face away from me. "But...no!

"Not that I'm adverse to kissing her," I began, far more composed about this scenario than my partner could hope to be, "But I think you two just made that up. So why don't you test your theory?



That was a lie. I'm not composed. I can't stop laughing to myself. "Lawrence, why don't YOU make out with your preppy friend? And make out like you mean it, too." Trying so hard to keep a straight face. I don't know how I'm succeeding in tone, but my expression has to look retarded right now. "Then me and Phoebe will battle you guys. If you win, she and I do whatever you want together. But if we win, you guys need to lay off. Do we have a deal?"

"I-um...don't want to..."

"My name is David. And the answer is no."

That shut them up. Let's keep piling it on! "Not your type? That's cool, that's cool. We could always get Edgar in on it instead."

"Fuck you."

"Westmyn," Aporon scolded.

"Fine, fine!" I said with a roll of my eyes. "I'll play ball."

Before Phoebe could react, I leaned over and gave her a peck on the cheek. It was more polite, or even gentlemanly than anything else. The prep, David, scoffed at this.

"You call that making out?"

"It's a start!" Walked right into it. "Besides, how would you know what making out is? I haven't seen any one of you jackasses hanging out with a girl. So why don't you shut the fuck up?"

"Westmyn. There's simply no need for that." When Aporon is calming me down, however marginal the effect, things are just bad. "Now, I had a couple things lined up for the two of you today, but I like your idea better!"

His goons responded with shock and revulsion that forced him to clarify, "I meant the battling. Not the kissing." They breathed a sigh of relief. I fully mean it though when I say that if he did make them do that, I'd take back everything I said about him. Aporon stood to his feet and stretched. "Now, it won't be any of them you'll be up against. So I have to go arrange something. Your Pokémon do need some training themselves, anyway. Just choose one each and try to coordinate something. I'll be back in ten."


"That could've gone better." I remarked with a rub of my hair after we had gotten through a battle. We'd faced and defeated two teams thus far, but the second was closer than it should have been. Nidorina just didn't mesh with Phoebe's Floatzel at all, unlike Huntail. Though, both duels were more simultaneous one-on-ones than possessing anything resembling teamwork.

"I'm just glad they haven't done anything horrible so far," Phoebe said. "But the really bad stuff has to be coming, right?" The battles had been a pleasant alternative for me, but she just wasn't feeling it. Without a doubt, that's directly linked to her pessimism.

"So," I replied with a confident smile, "Why don't we leave before they get the chance?" Aporon and company had scattered about, not keeping watch on us. Edgar left for food, Lawrence had gone off somewhere, the prep and Aporon had gone to get our next opponents. We were told to wait for them, but what's there stopping us? Certainly not any random person.

Confusion washed over her as I moved towards the main building. "Come on!" I urged and motioned. "Let's hurry!"

Wasting no time, I speedwalked towards our destination on the second floor of the school. Fast enough to make good time, but not so fast as to draw unwanted attention. The only delay to my pace was the door, but it was a trite obstacle in the grand scheme of things. Before I knew it, I was before a room just two to the right of the library. My timing was impeccable.

"Thatcher, are we ready to go?" I asked, still on the approach the moment he stepped out of the doorway. We had it all planned out.

"Y-yes..." Today's the day of the big contest. His nerves are inert, which frankly, shocks the hell out of me. Neither is he overtly enthusiastic, though. Probably, the two are balancing each other out. He stood on his toes, peering over my shoulder. "Um, but where's Phoebe?"

Oh. I guess I lost her somewhere along the way, or she didn't follow? My idea was to take her as our fourth, so I could help her escape from Aporon as well. Also because Teiko and Teikō are a pair, and we couldn't just take one. "I dunno. Where's Reika?"

"She...she said she would...with her crutch...take too long. She felt really bad." That may have been the case, but Thatcher seemed to be feeling worse about it. "And she has a headache...and, you know-"

"All right, where are you shithead?!"

I instinctively ducked into the doorway. Thatcher froze up, and I didn't need to peek out to know that a more incensed than ever before Edgar was there. I used my friend's going slack as a sign to emerge. He must've ran the other direction.

"He...he looks...real mad, Fritz."

Today's been moving at breakneck pace. It's fluid though, and I'm riding the waves. Yeah! "He'll be even madder when he can't find me anywhere here! Let's go!"

Thatcher got it right away, and we bolted down the stairs. His mood picked right up. It took just over a minute to get out of the gate. There's no stopping us! We let out a cheer as we left the ground, and kept our pace as we charged forth!


It's finally time. Thatcher and I are but two drops in this tub filled to the brim with contest enthusiasts. Their raised hands and thunderous plaudits made it akin to being in a raging ocean. And they're just in anticipation at present!

When a figure emerged from the gorilla position at 1PM on the dot, that sent them into overdrive. A man almost as wide as he is tall, in blue work overalls and trucker's hat, with a white shirt beneath made the crowd go berserk. I can't say for certain from these nosebleed seats, but does he shave much? I can't really tell. But...

"Man," I couldn't help but remark to my friend, "I never expected a coordinator to look like that."

"Looks can be deceiving, Fritz!" Thatcher was confident, more than happy to explain to me. And stating a credo I know all too well. "That's Ward Whalz, second-generation pupil of the legendary Juan de Maréaux!" Believe it or not, I recognize the name. I forgot from what, but I know of the guy. "Just like him and Wallace, he's a former Gym Leader of Sootopolis City, a Top Coordinator, and a Water Pokémon master. His personal thing is his line of Pokémon health-care and grooming products!"

The crowd simmered down a little as the host approached the stage. His voice is as elegant as his clothing, demonstrated when he said, "Welcome to the first official Whalz Cup. This contest today is dedicated to my mentor. Get well soon." He took off his hat in respect, displaying his almost-bald head. That was enough to silence most of the crowd. For a brief moment, anyway. "Never been keen on introductions as you all know. So let's get to it and introduce the eight that'll be competing here today."

A man in his late 20s emerged from backstage. "First, from Zurich, Switzerland. Introductions aren't necessary for the one called Gavin Seaforth." The crowd gave a mix of cheers and jeers towards this tall fellow, with a dress that clearly came from society's upper echelon. "Second, we got someone from this region here. Once a thug in a street gang, now the muscle of the hustle. From Hearthome City, Sinnoh. Stuart the Kidd." And muscle he had. In fact, he still donned his colors as a fashion statement, too. But the crowd showered the regional coordinator (who looks to be in his early-30s) with praise all the same.

"Next. From Gattai Memoire, Korea, we got a girl who gave up her life to chase a dream. Her name is Chiyun Kwon." Now that first guy was high class, but this young lady didn't need fanciful clothes to tell you that (they were actually teetering on casual). She just had that air about her; even if Whalz had said nothing about it, one'd still be able to sense her origins. She received a reasonably warm welcome.

"A veteran of the dome. Entertaining people for over 35 years. He's been Top Coordinator three times, but has vowed to win the title of Grand Master before he retires. From the Badlands of Orre, The Poffin Man himself...Randy Hulette!" The loudest pop yet. His technicolor outfit is so outlandish, it'd be stupid to even begin describing it. He's got to be in his 50s or even 60s, but age has treated him well. Unlike certain 66-year-old douchebags.

"From Saffron City, Kanto. The hardest working effort coordinator, and runner-up in last year's Johto Grand Festival. Celeste Faris!" Well, that answers my question from a couple weeks back, but I still don't see the resemblance to her cousin, Irene. Maybe she's too far removed, maybe she takes after the other side of the family. Who knows? The crowd likes her, that's all I can tell you.

"Another guy from this region." As before, the crowd lit up at this. "Love'em or hate'em, he knows how to get a response. Some call him the face of the future. Some call him a threat to our sanctity. He just calls himself a coordinator. A fourth-generation star of appeals from Floaroma, Augustus Gabriel!" Thatcher nearly sprang high out of his seat, startled by the sudden increase in volume. To me, the almost unanimously positive reaction isn't that big a surprise. Floaroma's the next township over. With such a close proximity, of course he'd be hailed as a hometown hero. And he was basking in the electricity in his frilled white and green robe. It was almost visible when he cast it off, revealing a similarly-toned suit that could befit a figure skater or even a superhero.

"One of the country's biggest foreign stars. Grew up on the rough streets of the great dividing line. Some said he'd be a Pokémon Champion some day, but he went this path. One-time Top Coordinator. From Krasnoyarsk, East Russia...Igor Wylde!" People didn't respond too well to this guy, who was not looking at all like I was expecting when I thought of Russians. Maybe they're hating him for who he is, because East Russia follows Japan's way of thought.

"Finally..." The crowd, including Thatcher, prepared themselves for what was to come. "This young woman has been called the finest coordinator to never to get near the top. Been seeking glory for six years now all across the country. A tale of success in the face of adversity. She hails from Petalburg City, Hoenn, and's been voted most enthralling celebrity of Japan two years running. Everyone. Maribel...Capdevila!"

Thatcher sprang high, this time with intent. The exuberance provided was almost equal to that of Augustus Gabriel. I'd say it just falls short, but I couldn't hear a single boo to compensate.

From the halls marched a young woman with an outfit that could make my cousin Estelle jealous. Seemingly simple, yet practically not. Like...where do I begin here? Most of her apparel is a strawberry tint. A vest over a black undershirt with long sleeves, matching shoulder cloth, and what looks like the lower half of a dress or a huge skirt. Her hair flows like a river of scarlet, but it's not the only fluid thing on her person - a dark cloak or cape ripples behind her as well. Black heels, long white socks that extend who knows how far into the aforementioned dress, and a big blue bow tie.

"YEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!" Thatcher has to be a serious contender for most delighted person in the arena at the moment, if not the world. It's really nice seeing him happy like this.

The eight participants lined up before Whalz. "All right, so you all entered your six Pokémon. Now let's get right down to talkin' about how this'll work. First round. Eight enter, four leave. You all use one Pokémon apiece. Simple. Second round. Two Pokémon to a side, two coordinators who advance. Last round. The best of three performances. Winner gets the Whalz Ribbon. Worth eight points for any region. The catch here is, you can only use a Pokémon once."

"Neat concept," I whispered to Thatcher, "I've never heard of anything like this before."

"Yeah," he said, "These kinds of contests are really unique!"

"You'd have to think about which Pokémon to use and when."

"Maribel would want to save her best Pokémon for the fights she'd really need them on!"

I smiled to myself. I wasn't expecting him to pick up on that. "And on the other hand, she doesn't want to be too conservative, or she might lose early. Depending on how well she knows her opponents too, she might have to consider all potential possibilities."

Whalz began to speak once more. "The matchups will proceed according to seeding. First up. Number two against number seven. Higher seed gets the benefit of choosing second this round."

The East Russian - and again, I'd like to stress the fact that I would not believe he was from that country if I was not told so - marched over to onto one side of the battlefield. As the other six made their way back, The Kidd strided into position opposite Wylde, sending out his Pokémon first. A tree-like demon, face and back covered by silky white fur. It's got a sharp nose, goblin ears, a solid body of redwood, and fanblade-like leaves for hands.

It was put up against a vaguely humanoid blob with hair just as long and pale, but being frozen being the cause for the tone instead. A dark form shrouding itself in a vermillion and citrine robe. Pouty lips and twisted arms jut out from its body.

"So who do you think's gonna win this one?" I asked Thatcher. He'd know better than me.

"Huh?" he started, "I dunno, I never really...paid attention to either of them. Too much. But..." He seemed to be musing something.

"Ice is normally good on Grass," I pointed out, placing an educated guess on their typings forward.

"But Dark is good on Psychic, isn't it?" Thatcher asked. When I nodded to confirm that is the general case, he told me, "Shiftry is Grass and Dark, but Jynx is Ice and Psychic. A normal battle, I guess it'd be about even...but in a contest, and with these two, I dunno."

Little by little, I think I'm starting to get it. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical going in. But this is pretty enjoyable so far. It's not often I get to spend time with my friends either, with the situation being how it is, so that's a plus as well. With the two Pokémon out, Ward Whalz took a seat at a table on the sidelines, alongside four other individuals.

"Get ready for contests, all! Begin the matchup!"


As the tournament played out, Igor Wylde had a good back and forth with Stuart the Kidd, before kicking it up and trouncing him soundly. The Poffin Man with Magmar and Celeste Faris with Solrock went to the judge's panel. They gave the nod to the former, which the crowd wasn't too happy about.

Next came the match involving Thatcher's idol. This one ended pretty uniquely. Seaforth's Manectric pulled out a Wild Charge, but Capdevila's Mawile caught it in its jaw, tossed it, then fired the conducted electricity out for the KO. In Augustus Gabriel vs. Chiyun Kwon, the latter's Venomoth attempted a powder display, which was foiled by a simple blast of water from the former's Wartortle. It wasn't affected directly by the stream, but the good news ended there for the Korean performer. Her Pokémon ultimately fell by virtue of a Rapid Spinning Hydro Pump.

He then found himself being confronted by Capdevila. The two glared at each other from about three feet away. Words were exchanged. No one could hear them, the content of the trash talk being left to the imagination. Gabriel eventually moved and retrieved a microphone.

"Say what you want. You're on my turf now, Maribel. Here in Moldeau Town, Sinnoh!" Though many of these people had to be from across the nation, they still ate right out of his hand. He had a deterministic twinkle in his eye. Or maybe it was a tear. "I'm not going to lose to you. I can't lose to you! Not today!"

The crisp reply was audible. "You've nerve, but nerve only goes so far."

Thatcher nudged me. "This is really personal," he whispered, "I know they've had a heated rivalry, but this is...you know, it's...something new."

"Must be the setting," I suggested. "Or maybe the stakes." Either or both would be a factor for these changes.

That little incident was followed by a thirty-minute break. The second round of the contest began in the precise manner the first round ended. Two hated rivals, staring each other down.

Capdevila grasped two capsules between fingers. She threw them with style and grace, which garnered a cheer before they even emerged.

The first one. It's...a shrub? Not exactly the most intimidating of Pokémon, but that's contests, I guess. Even though a creature as black as the night is cloaked within - with a pointy nose and four crested horns - it's actually more cute than anything else. Its grassy body is top-shaped, and I guess it gets around with either tiny little legs or by hopping. Maybe spinning. I'll find out soon, I suppose.

Her other is a mustached tub of lard, that briefly reminded me of Lapras. Its glossy body is primarily a sky blue, with a sunny patch on its belly and some cloudy white spots. This thing is sort of an eggplant shape. A deformed eggplant, anyway.

"Wow!" exclaimed Thatcher. "I was expecting her to use her Wormadam on Augustus, but I never knew she had a Sealeo!"

"It's something you haven't seen before?"

"Well, not from Maribel!" he replied, "I was expecting her Absol, not that!"

"If that's the case, then that might be why she's using it." I've seen this sort of tactics before, and actually, "It's like when I used Huntail against Aporon. Um, except she probably was raising it on the side just to pull it out as a surprise here. And I was kinda, well."

"I see what you mean. She thought Augustus was th-thinking she would use Absol, but so she...umm..."

"She used something different."

"Yes! Awesome! Let's see what the little sealion can do!"

It may be a sealion, but the first of Augustus Gabriel's Pokémon is a true, vicious feline. It could probably go toe-to-toe with the king of the jungle and hold its own. The creature's fur - which is largely standing on end - is mostly black with a little bit of blue. You can only make out so much from far away, but I can see its long tail is adorned with a golden, cross-shaped object.

And I don't know how to describe that massive bell-like object. Ancient markings line it, but where they come from is another question. On one hand, its upper part are these two curved pieces come together, sort of looking like the outline of a nun's habit, or perhaps a chapel, or I dunno. It just looks Holy, heavenly, or something. Then again, you probably wouldn't associate glowing red eyes with anything except something from Hell. Gravity doesn't seem to be a problem for it, wherever it originated.

"His Luxray is dangerous," Thatcher remarked, "Bronzong isn't a slouch either! But I know Maribel can do this!"

The signal to start came from the ref. Capdevila's Pokémon jumped into action right away on her command. Wormadam hopped up on top of Sealeo's nose and span about, spewing Bullet Seeds as its ally balanced it on top. Not wanting to be left out, Gabriel made his Luxray run beneath its own partner and fire electricity, which conducted out in the upper piece of Bronzong while illuminating itself in the glow.

Sealeo tossed up Wormadam and went into an awkward but functional Defense Curl. The plant landed upside-down while firing String Shot. After a moment, it grew to a larger size and flipped over so it was the one doing the balancing. Luxray permeated a brilliant Flash from its whole body, followed up by Bronzong tilting and using Flash Cannon at a course that had to have been intentionally off for the sake of being more luminous.

"Looks like they're just testing the waters now."

"Yeah," Thatcher agreed, "They're be-being careful."

A standoff. Even I'm on the edge of my seat in anticipation. The Pokémon took initiative. Luxray took up a threatening stance, attempting to stare its foes down. Sealeo couldn't see it, and Wormadam wasn't impressed. The latter fired a couple Bullet Seeds at Bronzong in reply, but they just glanced off. The Pokémon remained still after this.

The coordinators' orders were in-sync with one another. Luxray loosed a powerful Thunderbolt from its fur, just as Wormadam shot Sealeo out at a high speed. The bagworm shrugged off the electrical attack, but Bronzong was knocked to the ground by the fast-moving seal. It proceeded to uncurl and turn to face Luxray just as Luxray turned to face it. But that gave Wormadam a chance to charge and shoot it with an Energy Ball.

"Woohoo! Go, Maribel!!"

When Luxray turned again, it got hit with a Water Gun that sent it between its two foes. Capdevila took up a deterministic stance as she gave a command, and her Pokémon used Seed Bomb and Water Pulse respectively.

Whatever she was up to with that, Bronzong intervened. A simple Psywave repulsed the attacks without issue. Luxray recovered and ran behind the bell. After a bit of focusing, it fired Shock Wave after Shock Wave The two Pokémon were forced to flee to the line before Bronzong - the only accessible space safe from the barrage. With a point from its trainer, the ancient construct began to repeatedly use Gyro Ball. Wormadam and Sealeo were having extreme difficulty consistently dodging this assault in the limited space available.

"This is bad!" Thatcher panicked. "What'll she do? Fritz, what do you think Maribel should do?!"

"I don't know her Pokémon's attacks..." I pointed out. Thatcher frowned and began to chew on his nails. I've actually seen something like this a few times before. One or two Pokémon stopping the foes' lateral movement, and one on-point to attack straight forward. It looks overwhelming, but actually isn't too horrible to deal with.

Capdevila seemed to think of something, though. Sealeo sat up and began to clap. Bronzong perked up at this applause...falling for that Encore.

Thatcher was left scratching his head. "Why'd she do that?"

"It looks like she's locking Gabriel's Bronzong into that move, so it can't react to whatever she has planned next."

I could barely hear his thoughts spoken aloud, "What could she be planning next?" Thatcher focused hard. And then snapped up. "Of course! Her Wormadam's Secret Power!"

The ground around Luxray began to tremble. Before it could respond, the ground burst out from beneath it. The black and blue Pokémon was launched about a meter into the air. With the Shock Waves out of the picture, Capdevila's Pokémon split off from each other, circling around their two foes from different directions.

Gabriel's cursing could be heard from up here, "Sabotage me, will you?! Luxray, backup plan!"

Luxray picked itself up and began launching precision Thunderbolts at the Gyro Balls - being aimed for Wormadam. The electrified rotor blades looked impressive, but were quite easy for the plant to evade. Meanwhile, a quicker Sealeo had already bounded into position. It strained hard...but the effort paid off when the pieces of shattered earth came together as a Rock Tomb! Wormadam started to coat it in String Shot, but Augustus Gabriel was having none of that.

His Luxray charged forward, trembling violently. It crashed into the stone that was being set up, shattering it into hundreds, if not thousands of tiny fragments. Doing this took a lot out of it; the feline-like Pokémon nearly collapsed trying to recover from the powerful move.


"B-but...but why would he Giga Impact the rock?!"

"I don't know," I told him, "But now's Maribel's chance!"

And indeed, she was already giving orders to Wormadam and Sealeo to put something together...but Bronzong never let them capitalize on the opportunity. A deafening tone, half clanging and half scraping, rang out. The two Pokémon were halted by the Metal Sound.

A recovering Luxray bared its...Sealeo emitted a...Wormadam began...Bronzong...wow. The battle is breaking down. It's not on the Pokémon's ends, either - at least, I'm guessing it's not from how the two opponents stand. The pure hatred each has for the other is just...

"This is not what I expected from a top level contest."

"It's....wh-what...why are they...no..."

The crowd already baffled as the Pokémon were brawling, the end came so suddenly that it took like fifteen seconds to register. Luxray's tail became as hard as steel, smashing Sealeo across the arena with a thunderous CRACK that made me wonder if it was electrified as well. Bronzong was ready as the mustached blue Pokémon rolled over to it. A vicious Solarbeam shot out of its inside, wasting the sealion. Wormadam's response was swift and as brutal. Luxray got assaulted by a vicious Leaf Storm, opening up numerous cuts on its body, only being spared when Bronzong made the save. It enveloped Wormadam; the only clue to the Flash Cannons it was doing being the strobing light they gave off. When bell came up, the plant Pokémon was down.


Whalz stood and made the announcement, "Winner of this matchup by defeat, Augustus Gabriel."

Thatcher's eyes went wide. The kind of expression that says one can't believe this is happening. "I...I...what...no. Maribel...she...no! No!"

Hey, what the?

"Thatcher, where are you going?!" He launched himself from his seat and took off. And I was hyped to see whoever won between Wylde and The Poffin Man beat this guy into the ground. After a pause of shock, I scrambled my feet in pursuit.


My efforts to follow my friend were in vain. I lost sight of him right as I left the Contest Hall.

In fact, only way later was I able to meet back up with him. After several hours of attempting to find him on my own, I thought to take a different approach. To go somewhere helpful, rather than aimlessly wandering. But even with the aid of the Traveling Hobos, the sun had all but completely set by the time I saw results. At this point, I'm just thankful they found something.

"Are you sure it's him?" I asked en route, somewhat pointlessly. I don't know what I was thinking with that question. Maybe I underestimate the effect this had on me.

"Indeed it is," Mr. Gruff said. "He is among the distraught individuals I have seen, and that is counting the highest sorrows from Boozer! I believe it would be best if you spoke to him yourself."

I don't know what part of town this is. It's not one I recognize. The darkened state of the city isn't helping affairs - I've mentioned its energy conservation to reduce skyglow before, and though being in-town after nightfall isn't something I'm foreign to, I've never been in the heart of downtown at that time before. It's surreal, really. Eventually, we hung a left into an alleyway, where I spotted my friend.

Thatcher sits on an old zaffer couch. It's seen worse days, in spite of numerous tears along the sides. I can tell that must have been patched up at some point. Similar places to sit or lie down are in this alley as well, including a couple of mattresses and a rocking chair - the only damage to the latter appearing to have come from weather. Oddly enough, they all look just a little better maintained than the pavement.

The only source of lighting here are the lights on the two buildings with back exits, as well as one with inactive vents. At full-on night, they'd likely be barely adequate. In the former two instances, a wheeled dumpster is near the door. The assorted litter in the alley probably came from there given the proximity, cast out by the wind and not by a human.

"Thanks, Mr. Gruff. You too, Biggie."

I had to tilt my head way back to acknowledge the latter individual, who has to be at least seven feet tall. A couple other individuals in the alley joined them, likely watching over Thatcher before we arrived. Biggie's nod was the only response any of the men gave, before leaving us.

"Where did you go? What happened?" I asked once they left. I hoped that two questions at once would not be overwhelming as I walked over.

Thatcher turned away in shame. A bowl of soup sits in his lap; he took a small sip from it before speaking. "I...didn't...I couldn't...didn't want to stay to see the rest. I-I wanted to go back to...to the school. But...I-I got...I didn't know how...where to go." He forced himself, turning his head with his hands, to face me. "Fritz...I'm s-sorry."

"You all right?" I asked as I sat down. That's the only thing on my mind at the moment. His reaction back there or having to search for him didn't really bother me.

"N-not...I don't...I just don't know. It's just that..." Thatcher's voice trailed off. He took an incredibly deep breath, "I mean, I know it's just a c-contest, but..." With that, he let out the excess all at once. My eyes spotted a splash of liquid in his soup. I peered up and held out my hand. Is it raining? No, there's no drops of rain falling onto me. So...is Thatcher crying? What could be bothering him? It can't be just that, can it?

There was no need to chance asking, as he began to elaborate on his own. "I...I've been watching Maribel from the day she started out..." he lamented, trembling in sorrow. "She...her dream...I really like how she was able to follow it. But...if you look at someone...I mean, I don't mean any offense, but..."

When he went silent, I queried, "But?"

He sighed. "Augustus Gabriel was born...well, his dad...grandma and great-grandpa...they were all coordinators. But Maribel...her parents weren't. She wanted to be one, and she did. I...I really like that. She followed her own dream. And she's...i-it's just..."


"Maribel...I've never seen her get...seen her win something big. It's...it's not that she lost. It's just..." Thatcher abruptly placed his bowl down with a sigh. He stood, legs managing to not falter beneath him. He admitted quietly, "I was sure she was going to win this time."

My friend walked forth in anguish. I only watched as he moved over to one of the mattresses in the alley and lied back. The words he said...the ones that put his reaction in perspective. They were spoken as a faint, quivering whisper.

"If Maribel can't do it, what chance do I have?"

And so the pieces fall into place. Sort of. Well, there's something I can say about that, so I may as well say it.

"Thatcher, there's lots of people out there who have trouble with that. It's just something that can't really be explained." I paused. Thinking. Maybe. "You can still go for it. And besides...it's just one contest. It's not over for her yet, is it?"

"You're...you're right. You're right!" He perked right up, grinning from ear to ear. "There's always the Grand Festival! Maribel's got to be able to win that!" He had a smile and deterministic look in his eye as his clenched a fist. "No, I know she's going to win!"

His attitude having done a complete 180, Thatcher turned to me with a more relaxed demeanor. "Thanks, Fritz," he said, "I really needed that."

He cheered up...a little too quickly there. I don't want to jump to any conclusons just yet, but he might not want to dwell on this at all. I mean, it could have been a simple overreaction. But my words may very well just be a temporary fix for an ongoing problem. I guess we'll see what happens. But for now...

"Let's head back. I imagine Reika must be worried sick."

A nod. "We should. And hopefully the school will be...will..."

"The gates should still be open. It's dark, but it's not too late." Actually just making an educated guess there. I really don't know the schedule, or whether the fire incident would have affected it. "But if not, we've slept in the outdoors and in-town before." I looked outward. "Come on, let's get the hobos to lead us back."

Well...the day started off nice at least. That has to count for something, right? No...it doesn't really. By the look on Thatcher's face, even he's starting to have the stress get to him. All we can do is cross our fingers, and pray for a better tomorrow. I know I said something like that yesterday...but the upswing has to be looming. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. How long is it going to be, though?
Two of the "old" chapter reviews: :p

1-6 - 1-7

Sorry that I can do my usual nitpicking, since this is a hefty amount of chapters and I don't want these reviews to be too long for ya. :p


So, Reika had a very adventurous idea this chapter. Looking back, I'm actually somewhat surprised to see that out of her given she usually has a somewhat unnerved and bothered demeanor about everything in the recent chapters. Of course that could be due to her leg being broken and who wouldn't get antsy and pissed over a broken bone? It just feels like a subtle, yet sharp contrast to her future actions to want to get into such a shenanigan. I almost forgot this chapter debuted Reika and Thatcher's Wigglytuff and Sandshrew and that reminds me that Thatcher and Reika have a bit of history with each other. Fritz has a bit of a brain fart and sends out his non-confidence-having Eevee.(I wonder when this is gonna be addressed further.)

For the most part the battle scene was well done and kept me entertained. I gotta say that Reika certainly did come off as a tad too critical of Fritz, she's at fault as well for her actions when it came to use Wigglytuff's Sing and going all gung-ho on Fritz for his using Mareep was definitely harsh. I think it's a good think I felt strongly about that scene because it managed to elicit emotion from me, it's proof that I've grown to care about your characters which is a job well done by any fanfic writer. The arguing scene was my favorite because it added some spark. The jabs Reika made at him kept me engrossed in the spat from start to finish. You excel at character interactions and also the scene with Reika calling for Thatcher to help instead of him was a nice way of highlighting how she and Thatcher might be better friends in a way. Maybe Fritz feels like a 3rd wheel?

"It's dark." Thatcher whispered.

Just something technical here, when you have a dialogue tag(said, whispered, screamed) you use a comma at the end of a line of dialogue.


The "beast" turning out to be a Stantler was surprising, again this has to do with your description being so enigmatic at times it's hard to figure out what Pokemon you're referring too. This is good in a sense because it gets the reader wondering just what the beast is, I was taken off-guard by Stantler. Stantler can distort reality and create illusions but you expanding on that and adding Psychic traits to it was unexpected. Didn't expect Nidoran to get taken out, it seems to be Fritz's strongest Pokemon at this point. I also was surprised to see the creature resisted Tangela's powder moves, I can't help but think this is going back to the main plot of the fic. somehow. It's an off-limits areas after all. Still couldn't believe Fritz had gotten out and hadn't seen Reika or Thatcher after the fact. Irene and Aporon making appearances this chapter was unexpected though they added some nice fire to the scenes they were in.(Again, this goes back to your character interactions crafting skills.) None of your characters come off as empty, they all seem to have some personality to them makes me care about them. Whether it be a like-like, like-dislike, or dislike-dislike type deal. The training was entertaining as well, especially with Nidoran showing some animosity toward it.
Well this was a really really really nice chapter that I liked :3 for one I really liked the battle between Maribel and...that other guy, sorry for not remembering xD The battle in this chapter was really well described and the action flowed very well. I liked how you introduced all these big coordinators from different countries as well to give us a bigger view about the world of your fic.

Though what I think is the biggest highlight is the fact that this chapter expands more on Thatcher's personality than it did before. Another thing, is that I hadn't noticed Thatcher's stutter much in previous chapters xD I just caught up on that. But it was nice to see a different side of him this time around and to learn a bit more about his aspirations and his fears, Thatcher doesn't get much attention sadly. I wanted to see more Phoebe so shame on you :p

On that note, I can't wait for this tournament to finally start!
Gotpika, Chapter 1-6:
Sorry that I can do my usual nitpicking, since this is a hefty amount of chapters and I don't want these reviews to be too long for ya. :p

Hey, I don't mind. It's not a big deal at all.

So, Reika had a very adventurous idea this chapter. Looking back, I'm actually somewhat surprised to see that out of her given she usually has a somewhat unnerved and bothered demeanor about everything in the recent chapters. Of course that could be due to her leg being broken and who wouldn't get antsy and pissed over a broken bone? It just feels like a subtle, yet sharp contrast to her future actions to want to get into such a shenanigan.

That was kind of a blink and you'll miss it moment: Reika just wanted to go with Thatcher, presumably for love-related reasons. Beyond that, well...I can't guarantee you'll see. :/

Fritz has a bit of a brain fart and sends out his non-confidence-having Eevee.(I wonder when this is gonna be addressed further.)

A brain fart? He went over his logic pretty clearly...although he didn't really think that plan all the way through in the end. >_> Yeah, it may have been a brain fart after all. As for Eevee...well. Get hype!!

I gotta say that Reika certainly did come off as a tad too critical of Fritz, she's at fault as well for her actions when it came to use Wigglytuff's Sing and going all gung-ho on Fritz for his using Mareep was definitely harsh. I think it's a good think I felt strongly about that scene because it managed to elicit emotion from me, it's proof that I've grown to care about your characters which is a job well done by any fanfic writer.

Wow, thanks. :D

The arguing scene was my favorite because it added some spark. The jabs Reika made at him kept me engrossed in the spat from start to finish.

That was EXTREMELY difficult to write, and I'm glad it panned out well. The last four lines - as well as the lead-in (up to the ages) were all I had for the longest time. I tried to give them both shots at one another. Glad it turned out well.

You excel at character interactions and also the scene with Reika calling for Thatcher to help instead of him was a nice way of highlighting how she and Thatcher might be better friends in a way. Maybe Fritz feels like a 3rd wheel?

This is a pretty amusing bit of subconscious detail. A similar thing showed up in 2-3. It'll be talked about in the upcoming behinds-the-scenes and things-you-may-not-have-noticed bit.

Gotpika, Chapter 1-7:
The "beast" turning out to be a Stantler was surprising, again this has to do with your description being so enigmatic at times it's hard to figure out what Pokemon you're referring too. This is good in a sense because it gets the reader wondering just what the beast is, I was taken off-guard by Stantler. Stantler can distort reality and create illusions but you expanding on that and adding Psychic traits to it was unexpected.

Heh heh. It's not often people think "Stantler" when dangerous Pokemon come to mind, even though all the pieces to make it into a dangerous SOB are there. I like using unusual/unexpected Pokemon in my fic (see also: Huntail).

Didn't expect Nidoran to get taken out, it seems to be Fritz's strongest Pokemon at this point.

Actually, Tangela's his best on-hand. It's just that we really haven't gotten a chance to REALLY see it in action yet, but the info is there. Fritz' musing about it in 1-2, as well as a few lines in the following chapter, explain things.

I also was surprised to see the creature resisted Tangela's powder moves, I can't help but think this is going back to the main plot of the fic. somehow. It's an off-limits areas after all.

Well, a mentally sharp person can fight through negative effects of chemicals (mind over matter), so why not a mentally sharp Pokemon?

Still couldn't believe Fritz had gotten out and hadn't seen Reika or Thatcher after the fact.

I _wanted_ that bit of tension that they might actually be dead to be there. Doing that entailed expanding a bit so I had more chapters worth of content, but it was better anyway for the added setup and stuff.

None of your characters come off as empty, they all seem to have some personality to them makes me care about them. Whether it be a like-like, like-dislike, or dislike-dislike type deal. The training was entertaining as well, especially with Nidoran showing some animosity toward it.

I am wondering if I can keep it up long term though. I guess we'll see when I get to that!

Stellar Flaze:
Well this was a really really really nice chapter that I liked :3 for one I really liked the battle between Maribel and...that other guy, sorry for not remembering xD The battle in this chapter was really well described and the action flowed very well.

Well, apparently the key is commentary/dialogue between observers? Augustus Gabriel's his name, by the way.

I liked how you introduced all these big coordinators from different countries as well to give us a bigger view about the world of your fic.

Well, it is a BIG contest, lol. It didn't make sense for it to just be Japan - otherwise it'd give the impression they're alone in their way of thinking. Amusingly, notice how Russia got split apart, but Korea got unified? And of course, Switzerland remains neutral. ;P

Though what I think is the biggest highlight is the fact that this chapter expands more on Thatcher's personality than it did before. Another thing, is that I hadn't noticed Thatcher's stutter much in previous chapters xD I just caught up on that. But it was nice to see a different side of him this time around and to learn a bit more about his aspirations and his fears, Thatcher doesn't get much attention sadly.

Part of the point of this chapter. Fritz and Thatcher never really had a chance to interact as much as they should've in earlier chapters, really. I decided to give them a chapter to really develop and show off their friendship - even though there's already something even better planned.

I wanted to see more Phoebe so shame on you :p

I actually wanted to. But then I realized that due to Thatcher's reaction towards Maribel's loss and with Fritz' following, she'd kind of end up left behind or would have to follow as well - both kind of screw something up. That's also why I wrote Reika out - also giving a reason in Edgar as to why they couldn't try to convince her otherwise.

So I decided to make what was seen of Phoebe as interesting as possible - actually, I wrote that bit up a while back, but thought I had nowhere to put it. Guess I did after all.

On that note, I can't wait for this tournament to finally start!

Umm...you kinda have to. >_> As of this chapter, it's Sunday, May 6th. The tournament begins on Friday, May 18th. Which will probably be 2-10. 2-9 if I decide drop one of the chapters - although we'll start seeing developments in the chapters beyond this, though. It'll be worth it, though!!


Chapter 2-6: Heart of Nature

It's just another day where I have to deal with Aporon and company's special brand of training.

What are we doing today? Only my favorite thing to do! Being led through the forest without knowing where I'm headed to! It's the third time! No, wait...fourth time. For the assembly, when going to Abet's Bluff, and chasing the arsonist through the woods.

Okay. Let's back up a bit here. I was ambushed as soon as I walked out of the dorms this morning. I didn't even get a chance for breakfast before I was whisked off by the jackasses. Expect the unexpected. That's what they said. Also, about your running off the other day, it is not going to happen again. Yet considering Thatcher and I couldn't even find sanctuary in something supposed to be pleasant engrossment, this is just par for the course. Still, to hell with these jackasses.

"So," I asked in an attempted calm fashion, "What's your ingenious plan for today?"

Aporon, leading the way, didn't even turn slightly to say, "You'll find out."

"Yeah." Edgar, on the other hand, couldn't pass up the chance to turn and give a glare that burned with the intensity of a Class O star. "So keep your asses moving."

Phoebe whimpered. Her motions are torpid, perhaps more under the strain of what is physically holding us down. Oh, I should ask about those too. "And another thing. What's with the heavy bags?"

"I told you," Aporon firmly repeated, "You'll find out."

Argh. Well, being in the woods during a cloudy day gives a different vibe from being in it when the sun is flying freely in the sky or at night. Though possible to see well, with rays not shining in through the canopy, the grove feels serene. A light rainshower could make it even better, but those types of clouds aren't in the sky.

My partner and I had been matching the other's stride throughout the trip, though we hadn't talked to one another yet. Phoebe was keeping her eyes on her feet, perhaps for fear of a misstep. "What do you think they're going to do to us?" she suddenly whispered about a minute after Aporon had evaded my question. A dreadful shudder followed.

"With them, who knows?" I really didn't want to think about that. The extended possibilities of a secluded spot compared to being out in public are bad enough, but in the thick of the wilderness, there's just endless potential.

Five minutes of further walking took us to a clearing. The roughly round assart wasn't all that, being about eight to ten meters in diameter. At the very least, it could be a sigh of relief for those who are claustrophobic.

Aporon and his goons stopped roughly in the middle. "All right. We're here."

"Finally." I cast the bag onto the dirt before me, prompting the prep to come running over as it clattered.

"Hey! Be careful with that!" He scolded me as he retrieved the leather sack. He untied the rope sealing the sack up, opened it, and pulled out one of the contents. It's a piece of...a table? The prep carefully examined the equipment, checking if my mistreatment had caused any damage.

"You're real lucky you didn't break that, shithead..." Edgar threatened as he took Phoebe's bag. She was speechless at the development, finding no relief in the weight taken off her back. The girl robotically straightened her posture. My response was even less positive.

"What the hell is this?" I demanded.

"This," the prep explained without a shred of irony, "Is what you would call a picnic."

Phoebe put up her hands halfway. Even as the empty bags were thrust onto her, ending up suspended as a towel, she remained in position. "But...but..." She was trying her hardest to protest, yet couldn't bring herself to do so.

"All right. You got us good." I could, though, in a way. So we're pack mules now? May as well try to suck the enjoyment out of this for them out of spite. I inquired, "You want us to get this ready for you?"

"Not yet we ain't ready."

I didn't verbally reply. I stared back at the four with apathy, waiting for them to speak. They may have been expecting me to do so first, as this standoff went on for a good twenty seconds. Phoebe took a step back over its course, standing behind me. I tapped my foot a couple times.

"Hee. Hehe." Lawrence had angled his appendages, dangerously close to being doubled over in a futile attempt to contain his disgusting laughter. He pointed at me with two fingers, "Westmyn! Climb that tree there!" obscenely gesturing to the one in question with his other hand.

Climb the tree. With the low, but not low enough branches. I crossed my arms and continued to stare at them, but with a more distant look than prior. It's hard for even I to ascertain whether this is a dramatic facade or true inhibitions. I have awareness that this is removed from the norm for myself. An approach I wouldn't ordinarily take. It is tiredness, but is it from lack of sleep, or being fed up of their nonsense?

"Do it! Hehe! Climb the tree!"

My retinas went to each of them, one after another. Aporon was standing coolly in his typical attire, arms slack at his sides. His usual stance for such scenarios. The prep, dressed casually by his standards, had a hand on his hip, and an expression near to my own. Lawrence was fully animate, each major joint tilted at a unique angle. There's no symmetry to this guy's posture. At all. Not even incidentally, however brief, as he writhed. It was little surprise that Edgar was in a white shirt and jeans, the former of which had been stained with sweat since we entered.

"Climb the fucking tree," the fratboy demanded with a threatening tone and pose, "Or we'll stick you up there ourselves."

I said nothing. I did not move. I didn't even flinch. I just continued to stare at him with soulless eyes as he made an empty threat.

"And how do you plan on doing that?"

Lawrence reached into his pants. He whipped out a Poké Ball and cackled insanely as he unleashed the beast over the ground. A strange one to be certain, about halfway between amphibian and reptile. Standing on trunk-like legs with webbed toes, its wide turquoise body is half-covered in malformed warts. A massive burgundy rafflesia sits on its back, with a coronet in the center. It's tilted forward a little. Beneath these five petals are five ferns, one of which droops over its forehead in front of its autumn-tinted irises. It roared as it emerged, continuing to bar its fangs even as its mouth was closed.

I turned my glare on the fat sauropod. I don't know how well this is trained, but it must have a commendable level of experience given the trainer. That takes Eevee and Mareep out of the picture. Huntail is a Water type, so I really don't want to mess around with that. Tangela is the strongest Pokémon I have on-hand. The only problem is, this is a large, obese Pokémon with a low center of gravity I'm dealing with here. That limits the usefulness of using its vines directly. Despite a battlefield designed for indirect use, other damaging options are also quite limited. That would leave Nidorina to crack its face open, which she's more than capable of doing. But it's a coinflip. I wish I had some of my reserves.

"I'm going to kill them when this is over..." I quietly grumbled to no one in particular. Phoebe heard my statement, appearing to be a little shaken by it. I stomped up to my destination, one of the larger trees here. This is a big first step. I grasped the highest branch I could reach, using a combination of jumping, pulling, and sort of walking up the side as a mountain climber might to reach a slightly lower branch to the right of it.

With my footing secure, the rest of the climb wasn't too bad. I repeated my technique, holding onto a limb above with my hands as I placed my feet on one beneath. About fifteen to twenty feet's enough, I figure. Moreso considering it looks like this is about as high as I can safely get. "All right. Now what?"

Their attention turned to Phoebe. "Your turn now, bitch," Edgar ordered. "Climb the tree."

"What?" Phoebe gasped. Her fear was palpable, but one intense stare from that smelly fratboy was enough to convince her to start moving. She nervously sauntered up to the base. She looked up for a moment, briefly meeting my eyes. What I first thought was a light breeze was a gentle whisper. After more hesitation, Phoebe attempted to follow my lead, reaching for the same branch I did. For me, it was comfortably within my range, but she was just a few inches too short. She compensated by springing off the ground, wrapping her arms tightly around the limb as her legs momentarily flailed. When my partner calmed down, she tried to walk up the side like I did. Getting there...it should be easy for her once she gets by-

"Hehe. Enough. Venu!"

"Wait!" she protested, but they weren't listening. With a dirty gesture to his Pokémon, two vines came out from beneath the massive flower consuming its backside. Phoebe yelped as the appendages wrapped around her. She at first desperately tried to break free, then she looked down. Waiver. When she was deposited beside me, her first action was to cling to the trunk for dear life.

"HEHEHEHEHAHAHA! Look! Fritz and Phoebe sittin' in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"

"Cut it out." Aporon ordered, putting a stop to the lecherous nerd's antics. And maybe sparing him from being ousted in a snarky response ('Kissing a girl is nice, you should try it sometime!'). "All right. We got everything we need to have lunch here, except berries. So you'll be gathering them today."

Phoebe was crying in unbridled terror. "But what if we fall?!"

She didn't get an answer to that.

Somehow I didn't notice the berries dangling above us initially. But there they are. Preemptively, Phoebe took one of the bags stuffed into her pocket and held it out. So that's why they gave her them to hang onto. And, her acrophobia may be rubbing off on me a little. I kept at least three of my limbs grafted to the trees' own as I made my way over to retrieve a container.

Let's examine the circumstances. Berries...are some freaky shit, to quote a friend of mine back home. They're like fruit, and sometimes they are called fruit, except they're not actually fruit. Some are even closer to vegetables. Whatever the case might be, they have a definitive link to Pokémon, and a certain mineral or amino acid in common in their DNA. The fickle conditions for healthy growth made Fructology (occasionally Creaturafructology) a study all its own. And I'm not one of those, so my speculation that these are ones that only grow at a certain height of a tree is simply an educated guess.

"Why here?" I inquired, out of the blue. "And did you have to make this difficult?"

"The four of us sometimes come here if we need privacy. And do you know why it's difficult?" Aporon was in preaching mode, with a touch of distaste. "Besides you being difficult and being better coordinated, it'd be much easier if you followed the four Ps."

"Why the hell do you keep saying that? The four Ps."

He counted them off. "Prudence. Planning. Passion. And perspiration. That's what it takes to succeed."

I thought to save my breath this time, not even sighing as I wanted to. As I finished up on one branch and went in to move to another, I passed by Phoebe, who hadn't budged.

"What if we fall..." she repeated, this time as though it were an inevitability.

"Phoebe, it's okay. Just hang in there." Wait, that was horrible. "Oh, sorry." She chuckled softly, breathing easily for a pithy moment. "Just do what you can. I'll handle it."


I lost track of the time, but achieved the result I was looking for - my bag was a little over three-quarters full. Phoebe had gathered only what was around her. "There, that's everything that was up here." Lawrence snapped his fingers, prompting his Venu to retrieve the bags from us. I checked to my left. "You want us to go to the next one?"

"Hehe!" What? "Not exactly." He snapped his fingers and wrist forward, prompting his Pokémon to make a charge forward. What the hell?

"What are you doing!?" Phoebe cried, hugging the tree tighter as the Take Down struck. Holy shit, that hit hard. Lawrence cackled sadistically as his Pokémon drove its gargantuan body forward again and again. The others only looked on, neither in support or opposition of their ally. Each collision wobbled the tree violently. Phoebe's body's having an internal earthquake of an even higher magnitude. The branches are trembling most of all, not good for me. Trying to make my way over to the middle...and wow, Phoebe got out of there fast.

A great idea. I'd better start moving too. If that fat thing keeps slamming into the trunk, it's going to fall over. Or...GAH!! Or I could fall, too!


Son of a...ow. That's it.

"Oh, very funny, assholes. You know, you could've said 'oh hey, Fritz and Phoebe! We want you to gather berries in this tree because maybe it'll help you when you're out in the wild! Pokémon always have to eat berries! And they make a great snack for yourself! Then when you're done, we'll rattle the tree because, hey, you never know! The knowledge might come in handy someday! The four of us get free berries, and you two get to battle a swarm of Beedrill while we eat! If you get it done before we finish, maybe you'll get to eat too!' Well, fuck you!"

"...um, where'd you go?"

"This is bad. Run!"


Wait, there's a swarm of Beedrill here.

"Fuck it. You're going down!"

I'm pissed off. I don't even care about the mild pain from that landing now. It's just a bunch of bugs. Yellow bugs with only four legs two of which are spiked, with dark red eyes that look like they come from a horror movie, but bugs all the same! Let's see, Eevee is out, because duh. Mareep may or may not be able to go in and nuke them all on its own, but it might not be such a good idea. Huntail should be effective - soaking their wings should make it difficult to fly. That should allow Nidorina to pounce on them and go to town. And I know in a similar situation before I said it wasn't a good idea, but with those two working together, Tangela should be fit to play a defensive role. We got this!

I sent out the three Pokémon and quickly explained the plan to them. Huntail didn't even wait for me to finish. The bees were taken aback by its impulsive blast of water. The fight's on!!

Let's do this! Anything in the air that's approaching near Huntail is meeting with the same consequence - getting completely drenched. Each one that got shot plummeted to the ground, ended up blasted several feet back, or both. In the rare instances where one manages to get through and start swatting, typically when multiple go for it at once from opposite directions, Huntail is swinging its head at the attacker. Whether they back off or get smacked, the eel drives them away from itself.

That's only so uncommon due to what Tangela is doing. It's swinging, cracking, and twirling about the four vines retracted from its body. It's guarding Huntail with two, me with one, and the extra it's using for the mobile Nidorina and itself. The bees don't seem coordinated enough to get the DNA mishmash, though. Remember how back at Abet's Bluff, Thatcher's Sandshrew jumped on any Zubat that fell to the ground and tore into them with Fury Swipes? That's more or less what Nidorina is doing right down to the same attack, only her slashing is far more vigorous. Though unlike Sandshrew, her typical response to an opponent too close for comfort is not to curl up, but to lash out at them.

And...I just got knocked to the ground by something slamming into me! Whatever Beedrill did this is going to pay.


This...isn't a Beedrill. It's bigger and fatter. Instead of a stinger, it's got a rigid, lumpy pod of some sort. Instead of needles for hands, it's got two nasty-looking crooks. Instead of blood-red eyes...okay, still got those, but now it's wearing a headpiece with a ruby in the center that makes me think it broke free after ten thousand years of imprisonment. Also...shit, here it comes!

I kicked out my foot as the queen bee charged, catching it in the side and getting to my feet as it was stunned. Hm, in the jackass' haste, they've forgotten the equipment. The Pokémon are occupied...but there's still this butcher knife here!

"You want a piece of me, bitch?!!"

The blade glistened, reflecting the clouds above. It, and my gutsy threat, I guess wasn't necessary, because the sort of regal Pokémon (that goes by Vespiquen, if I remember correctly), just got taken to the ground by one of my Pokémon. I guess they're not preoccupied.

No, hold on, they are. Tangela is defending Huntail, Nidorina is dueling with a group of three.

Wait, Eevee?

I checked my pockets. Only four balls. Eevee's clattered out when I was hit just now. Logic is the only way I'm sure of that, and even now I doubt it's my own. What I saw in weeks past was an adorable, nervous Pokémon, eyes shining with innocence. All I see now in its eyes is DEATH.

As the Vespiquen got up, Eevee jumped for it again, jaw open. The fox clamped around the bee's thorax. The response to this deathly threat was immediate - it tried to thrash in order to get rid of its attacker. But it didn't work! The bee had to literally pry Eevee from its throat before it could tear it out, tossing it to the ground. That didn't slow the fox down. It was right back on the bee, going for the lower body and chomping into the side. Unlike last time, the Vespiquen's shaking was effective. Eevee once again recovered hastily, and violently tackled it to the ground. It's completely dismantling this thing, good lord. The Vespiquen resigned itself to its fate, not resisting as the fox stomped on both its arms. Finally, Eevee finished with a mighty spinning leap, coming down hard on its head. A bit of the guts inside leaked out from the impact.

Holy shit.

I didn't think it could get any creepier, but it just did. After mauling a Pokémon half to death, if not outright killing it, Eevee went right back to normal. It smiled brightly with a wagging tail, blissfully ignorant to the dark green blood oozing from its mouth.

The fallen adversary twitched.

Don't know whether it's fear of it or Eevee going ballistic again, but I searched my pockets for a spare ball and hurled it. The Vespiquen vanished into the confines of the sphere. And the red light instantly went out. That's not good...

I located and retrieved Eevee's ball, gave my Pokémon a pat on the head, and recalled it, just to be extra sure.

Well, the others have been doing great so far. Some have retreated, others are unconscious on the ground.

Then, the Beedrill all fell to the ground at the same time, and...wait, what? It's like an invisible force is being exerted upon them. Huntail and Tangela halted their attack in confusion. Nidorina was caught up in the moment and continued to assault a few hapless foes, When she finally took notice, she remained vigilante. True to her instinct, the Beedrill clamored up. She snarled viciously. The swarm seemed to be thinking of how to handle it, but eventually decided that discretion is the better part of valor.

That was...what the hell was that?

Well, whatever. I have a sixth Pokémon, I guess? Okay, technically eleventh. And if you want to count those back home...um, well. I guess I should focus on the fact that it's not in good shape. Hm.


This is my first time stepping into this section of campus, and hopefully the last. It's brightly lit, made even more dazzling by the large amount of shiny and/or white objects in the room. From what I have surmised, it's the only multi-tiered room in the main building, stationed in the west wing of the first and second floors. As such, there's a wide elevator and a set of floating stairs - the latter of which, ironically, don't look as safe as they should for a place like this. It may just be my imagination. But they just look so strange without the risers.

"Is this the infirmary?" I called out to anyone with ears. "I need someone to check on my Pokémon."

"Fritz? Fritz, what are you doing here?!"

The speaker came over to me, slumped yet surprised. I felt the latter emotion, myself. "You're not in detention, Reika?"

"I went early!" she snapped. My friend thought a little, before continuing on more calmly, "I just got out. And I need to get my leg checked back up on!"

Wait. "They let you choose when you go?" That's...the weirdest thing. Or is it in the morning on the weekends? I never bothered to ask them about that, but it might be. Or maybe more time passed than I thought in the woods.

"What's the problem?"

A stout man had answered my call. His name tag gave me his name as Doctor Enso S. Thole. He's a little more grizzled than I was expecting for a doctor, let alone the head doctor of a university.

"Well," I nervously said. I'd thought carefully about what I was going to say on my way here, but Reika's appearance threw me off. I continued as best I could, "I ran into a Vespiquen in the woods, and I had to battle it, and my Pokémon got a little carried away." Phew. Wait. "And can you take a look at it for me?" I hastily added.

The doctor nodded and accepted its ball. "Consider her taken care of."

"Fritz." Just when I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief, Reika stepped in front of me. It was clear she wanted to look more stern, but her crutch and pain was preventing her from doing so. "What did you let your Pokémon do?"

"Relax. He'll take care of it. It's nothing to be worried about."

"Fritz, that's not a good way of thinking."

I could only sigh in response. She's right. That did seem a little detached. I could admittedly and/or arguably stand to be a little closer to Pokémon, but it doesn't mean anything. It's not wrong to be where I am. And I'm nowhere near the level that some people are at. Let's look on the bright side. With Aporon and company having flown the coop, and the homework looked after, I now have some time. Which means.

"Reika, do you want to help me out?"

"What?" She completely accepted my changing of the subject. Was worried that she wouldn't. This just made my job a whole lot easier.

"Remember last week when I found out about when the school would reopen?"

"Yes," she said. "But what does that have to do with anything?"

I recalled the strange green-haired girl from before. "Well, the person who told me asked me to go to the small building next to the offices when I had the time." Her request had come out of nowhere, and even after a week, I'm still not sure how to approach it. I had thought of at least one thing, and that's what I put forth, "I'd feel a little more comfortable if someone was with me."

"That place?" So she knows what I'm talking about. Reika sighed, as if she didn't have anything better to do. "Fine."

For the first time in a while, my mood is more positive than negative. With thanks and a thumbs up of approval, Reika and I set off for our destination.


The sky had cleared up a bit since this morning. The sun was still obstructed by clouds, but patches of blue now lay on the horizon. Yet the serenity remained, and I was able to enjoy it now. Though, we were making such decent time, that I let out a "heh."

"What's so funny?" Reika asked, correctly inferring I was thinking of her, but believing it was something that was unfavorable.

"You're moving almost as fast as you did before you broke your leg."

"Well, duh. I'm used to it." I'm unsure whether to call that modesty or indifference. Her next statement was a clear complaint: "Stairs are still a goddamn PAIN, though. I won't get used to that."

Hm. I hadn't actually been with her too many times on the stairwells since her injury. I should've figured she'd have problems though. Actually, I feel a little bad for not realizing it sooner. The fact that only one of her classes is on the main floor no doubt caused her grief. Even considering the possibility of using the elevator in the Medical class, she would still need to go to Art the hard way. I wish there was something I could do to help her.

Before long, we were in front of the meeting place. I hope this is a good day. I raised my hand and loudly knocked on the door with a closed fist. It's sturdier than it looks...actually hurt myself a bit. Noticed it more than falling from a tree...but then again, adrenaline was making me ignore that.

"So," Reika impatiently asked as we waited. "Do you know who this person is, and why they wanted you to meet them at a random shack?"

"Nope to both."

Reika rolled her eyes. "God. This looks like someone decided to build their house here." That's actually a fairly accurate description. It's like this modest cottage with an Eastern European flair to it. It's wooden, but has been painted shades of brown - sepia for the walls, khaki for the roof, a bright burnt umber for the door and window frames.

A chunky fellow with braided chestnut hair answered. He had a green and white vest on over a white shirt and navy jeans. "Oh hey, it's you!" he cheerfully greeted. "Come on in!" He held the door for us, beckoning us to step inside Nerves suddenly plagued me, but only for half a second. Here we go...



This is nothing like I've witnessed at Rukh's. It's minimalistic, yet has a distinct aesthetic theme rooted in the traditionalist and natural. Potted plants stand tall in each of the four corners. A modest number of abstractions and panoramas further make it feel as a jungle. Not a single piece of upholstered furniture graces this setting, and only a few wicker chairs. Cushions provide aid for the sitting, those with and without both on the moss-esque rug. Two hallways straight ahead divide the far wall into thirds, with another passage in the center of the right one. All lead to a ninety-degree crossroads.

Around a dozen people are present. Hailing from different walks of life, united under one roof. The diversity is illimitable. A few adorn rags that make Reika and I look high-class. Others impute us as the ones in shabby clothing! Both genders are represented about equally, as are varying degrees of health, fortitude, and self-regard. And yet, outward show and background is where the differences meet their end. Somehow...

The individual who had requested my presence stood hindmost. Initially turned, she faced us upon the door's shutting reaching her ears. A soft smile washed over her on catching sight of me. Hands folded, she took two steps forward. "Frisco," she offered salutations, "I'm glad you came."

Reika's befuddled response I caught out of the corner of my eye. She briefly went into postulation, glancing at me after. "Frisco?" she queried.

"That's my given name," I construed. "I go by Fritz, because...well, long story. Never mind." That may be on my friend's mind, but what's on mine is how did this girl become aware of that?

"Was beginning to wonder if you'd forgotten!" remarked the young man who had let us in with a laugh.

Reika rolled her eyes. She glared at the guy. An explanation exists for my delayed arrival, and she had no qualms about stating it in her own words. "Well, it HAS been really busy lately. If you didn't know."

"Well, that is true," a girl interjected, looking to be a senior student, "Though it was only Fritz invited, so I don't think someone that came in unannounced should talk so rudely."

"He asked me to come! And you didn't tell him anything! That's what's rude!"

"Reika," I calmed, taking a half-step closer. I leaned in and murmured, "Let's hear them out first. Then, you can yell at them if you want."

She clearly wanted to say more, but relented with a sigh and nod. I really don't blame her for her reaction. I've been on-edge lately too. Though it's weird. As soon as I stepped inside, I wasn't feeling it as much. I don't know if Reika is as well; I'm leaning towards nugatory results. A skewed faith lies in her countenance.

"Sorry about that," I apologized, just to ascertain favorable terms. I know it's more prudent than I need to be, but making more enemies is the last thing on my mind right now. Reika had asked a couple of reasonable questions during her speech, but I thought to journey in a different direction. "I see you know who I am already, but I don't know anything about you."

Preluded by a gesture of affirmation, the green-haired girl divulged, "My name is Premala Amani Yuhawlah."

What a curious name. Premala went into deep thought, before speaking once more. "I asked you last week what you held in your heart when you were before the stables. To tell you the truth, I always had a feeling. Since the moment I saw you that night." The moment she saw me that night. I wonder. Could this girl be my second opinion? Could Premala be the same one who cleared my name? No...I'm sure she is. A strange coincidence. The mysterious girl continued, "There are many people in the world who act only for themselves, be their decisions active or passive. This is an issue more widespread than some would want to believe. Even at this very university, it is a problem."

She closed her eyes, hands folded with a lowered head. "It is a choice they've made. We can only do what we can." Premala's voice trailed off, and she sighed resignedly. Her expression remained becalmed throughout, including as she rose to lock eyes with me. "Frisco. With all respect to my peers, you made a decision that many would be afraid to make. Thank you."

Reika had been observing with patience as requested thus far, yet I suppose even with she has her limits. Her question, "What are you trying to get at?" was not as brusque, but remained a bit uncouth.

She was subsequently scolded by the girl from earlier, in a far more strident tone of voice, "I told you before, not to be rude in front of Lady Premala!"

The girl in the violet robe shook her head. "No. You have a point..." she conceded. "I apologize for being ambiguous."

Again, Premala went into thought before explaining, "This is the Activism Club of the University. We, the students present, run and organize this group. For all the matters in the world that go acknowledged, only a few are addressed. Countless others receive disregard. All of us here have a cause, a wish to aid people, Pokémon, and their environment however we can."

"This is an activist's club?" I thought aloud. Everything is now in perspective, yet delicate handling is a necessity for this scenario. "I don't mean to disappoint. But if you want me to join you, I've never been into that sort of thing. Sorry."

"It is fine," Premala replied with a nod. "It is not what I was to ask, anyway."

"It's not?"

The robed girl took a few steps closer and bowed respectfully. "Frisco." A soft beam formed on her lips. "Your actions that night truly are commendable."

She placed her hands in cupped prayer, lowering her face into them momentarily as she drew ever nearer. "A number of our professors harbor resentment against you for failing to stop the fire. I want you to know, we...and I, don't think of it that way."

"Premala, what is it that you-"

She moved in and pressed her lips against mine?!?!!! She grabbed hold of me. Premala is lightly holding me at the side, not in a full-on embrace. The points of contact we share, and her mind...are tranquil, not turbulent. Yet-

"Frisco, can you hear me?"

What the? Her voice is echoing through my head...but how?


It only hit me that my reply was verbal when the sound of laughter surrounded me. I looked around. Everyone in the clubhouse, save for a stunned Reika and the smiling young woman before me, couldn't help but giggle at my unintentionally awkward words. I want to say something to correct it...but what? And that was sudden. Everything, I mean.

"I hope to see you around."


Reika and I left the Activist's Club in silence. It's rare for me to be flustered. Having it happen is making me uneasy, and perhaps it was the same, or perhaps it was something else making my friend uneasy. It's far from quiet around the grounds at this hour...yet to my ears, it is. Am I going deaf? No, that's just crazy.

"Fritz," Reika finally spoke, turning to face me. We came to a full stop about halfway between the battlegrounds and the shack. "You know what, I'm just going to say it. I think she's just trying to use you."

"I know."

"THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE-" Reika screamed, until she realized what I had said. A bit of gibberish escaped, a full three seconds before she said the comprehendible, "Wait, what?"

"It's like you said," I explained, thankful that she accompanied me. I might not have thought of this had Reika not been here, and at least even if I had, it's good to get another's take on matters. "She never exactly said why she wanted me to go there. Then she goes and does that out of nowhere, without really explaining much of anything else."

Reika gave sound advice, "Then tell her you're not interested!"

"It's not that straightforward!" It was my turn to snap in response to her. She looks surprised. "What would people think of me if I were to turn down someone like her?" What am I saying? Does it matter that much to me? It shouldn't. But I'm saying it. Reika observed confusedly. This is insane. "I'm just not sure. I don't know. I'll have to handle this carefully."

This is just such a strange situation. I couldn't make eye contact with Reika, unsure of how to explain it. I mean, I can't even explain it to myself. "But, well..." Deep breath. "There is one thing I can tell you."

"What?" Reika was showing a bit of the concern she usually reserves for someone else. It wasn't much, and hard to notice through her typical tone, but it was present.

There is one thing I'm sure about here. There is one certainty among this. "You know when you kiss someone you really really like, and you feel a special spark inside?"

Reika took one look to the right, grumbled, "No," and stormed off towards the main building looking unfulfilled.

I could only sigh at that. That feeling though. I don't know how to really describe it. It's just something that you have to experience for yourself to fully understand. The one thing I am sure about about this...is that I didn't feel it with Premala kissed me. I didn't feel the faintest hint. I didn't even feel the probability of its presence. I mean, it wasn't a particularly passionate kiss. But I didn't feel a thing. Was that my instincts speaking to me? Is it a bad sign?

Could it be a red flag?


Bonus 2-6: Dream Astray

Rukh's University, the second year dorms.

A young girl burst into her room on the top floor. Rapidly, she closed and locked the door behind her, heaving in pain as she tried to catch her breath. She had just fled as fast as her legs could carry her, away from a bunch of horrible monsters who sought a demented vengeance. And a swarm of bee Pokemon as well. Even when she had escaped the woods where this episode of terror had happened, she kept on running until she made it to absolute safety. Her own fortress of solitude on campus.

She gripped her headwrap and pulled down on it, quivering. She hoped it would transform into a protecting blanket that would envelop her entire form, shielding her from the harshness surrounding her. She shut her eyes tight, liquid flowing silently from their ducts. Leaning against the door was no place to be in this state. Methodically, she inched over to her bed. With a deep sigh, she collapsed upon it. She grabbed hold of the sheets, frantically yanking them over herself for security, before burying her face in her pillow.

Every day this year is worse than the last... she thought to herself. I almost don't want to be here right now. The facts of her situation and her own wishes was the only reason this was only an 'almost'. Her wish to be a Pokemon Trainer.

A common path for many people in the country, and even the basepoint for many different careers. The traditional means is the Pokemon Journey, in which one travels a region, collecting badges from Gym Leaders, and entering a tournament at the regional Pokemon League. But she and her sister Muriel, were denied this by their parents. They cited the dangers of a journey, particularly where they lived. She knew they were only trying to protect them. Her sister thought they were being overbearing. Yet there was one option, one their parents had been saving for, and promised to the sisters once they were old enough.

Until last year, Phoebe hadn't once stepped foot outside the Sedmenta section of her home region. And leaving Oida Village - a small rural town that had grown from a mere settlement - was an uncommon occurrence itself. But I have to be here... School is the only way she would be able to learn. And her parents would not allow her to drop out. Not after all the money they'd spent.

It's almost not worth it... Only the light at the end of the tunnel kept her going. But it has been a painful and lonely education. Being the sister of "the most callous student in school" is tough burden to carry. I know you're not bad. No matter how her sister acts or what people think, she felt this in her heart. Muriel stuck up for her many times, past and present. Still, she couldn't do everything. It doesn't help or change the fact that almost no one wants to associate with her. The few that do nearly invariably only do so due to losing bets, or otherwise being forced into it. And the association may be responsible for her current harassment. Muriel has tried to stop those monsters, but hasn't stopped them completely.

But if Cronus Aporon is like this...he deserves whatever you give him.

She sighed. There was one person in particular, last year. A fourth year student, a friend of her sister's. Someone who actually felt like an older brother to her. Someone who helped her feel more secure. And someone who has since graduated. Being the subject of the unfounded wrath of the "king of the school" and his goons this year has been a social death sentence. Her few acquaintances have either left or grown apart.

But maybe...there really is someone like that this year. Someone who has stood against those monsters, just like her sister.

Phoebe sat up, leaning against her pillow. She gazed at her maid's uniform on the wall, reminiscing about the day they'd first met...two days ago...

In that outfit, she'd been forced to do degrading things. As usual, they had told her it was part of her 'training', but it in truth had no purpose other than to amuse themselves and humiliate her. Its relevance was an afterthought, the logic flimsy at best. Why are you doing this to me? That thought had surged through her mind at the time, and even did so now. The person who was supposed to be mentoring her wasn't even present during that incident. She could remember the cruel guises of the two twisted goons he had in his stead, who forced her to do this. Lording over her like would-be kings. And the third, who did not actively participate yet did nothing to stop them.

And then, he entered the dorm. He stood in the doorway, instantly aghast at what was going on. The goons had the nerve to continue their campaign of torture, in front of him and their leader. She remembered her exact thoughts at the time. Please...do something... And to her joy and relief, he did. He almost punched that "smelly buffoon" - as her sister is fond of calling him - in the face, and certainly would've done so if their mentor in the tournament hadn't intervened.

She looked outside her window. Having a room on the highest floor gave her a great view of the entire grounds, including the forest where today's incident occurred.

They were being led out to a secluded area by those monsters. The two twisted goons threatened them, forced them up a tree to gather berries. Do they know...? she thought, shuddering as she thought back on this. Did they know of her fear of high places? She whined aloud.

And then there was him. He was almost on the verge of battling that creepy lecher to get out of this task. Or worse. But I'd hardly blame you... she thought. Those monsters get away with so much. One needs to look no further than what said person tried to do after they had finished. His Venusaur, ruthlessly ramming the tree. His insane grin as his friends just watched, as he tried to make them fall from the tree...or the tree itself fall. Mindless of the danger it would pose. Mindful of how he could whatever he pleased.

Why are you doing this?! She wanted to screamed this thought. Just because you have status doesn't give you the right to abuse it!

A frustrated wail escaped her. She knew at this point her sister's opposition to them was justified. And his as well. She sighed, very thankful her partner was rebelling against these monsters. He even recognized her trepidation today and handled the task on his own. And then when their actions had alerted a Beedrill swarm, he did not flee like they and her. He seemed to have stood his ground, and chose to fight them off. He's incredibly brave...or hotheaded. Or maybe both?

And yesterday. That was the first time they were set to be 'trained' together. Summoned to the same room they had first met to learn their fate for the day. She remembered that moment well, sitting next to him as they awaited whatever horrors would be unleashed. And indeed, her fears were realized. The goons provided their usual insults, as well as the latest in a long line of humiliating suggestions. Except he refused to accept their garbage. He turned the situation around, silencing their cackling in an instant. Not only that, he somehow managed to get them into a legitimate experience that would help them grow as trainers. Just as it should be...just as I want.

And when fears about whether it would last started to grip her, he proposed running off while they had the chance. There was a moment where they were unattended that allowed for this. And then went ahead and did it! She was shocked at the time, and even now could not believe he had the guts to do such a thing.

"Come on! Let's hurry!"

So much was it that his request to do the same did not register. Her hesitation was just long enough for her to be grabbed on the wrist by the "smelly buffoon." She peered at her wrist. His relentless, crushing grip had left a mark that was still visible today. The others descended on her, capturing her. They tried to find him, but couldn't. If only I was quicker...

And...that kiss he gave her, too. It was just a peck on the cheek, but he surely wouldn't do that if he didn't want to. Right? she thought. Maybe...he could like me? In her heart, she knew. She could feel that he doesn't hate her. Of that, she's certain.

Maybe...I've finally found a real friend. And maybe...something more?

For the first time in weeks, Phoebe Palmoni smiled to herself.

Whatever he may be. No matter what Cronus Aporon and his crew cares to do to her during this tournament, no matter how frustrating they may be...she felt that as long as she can face them with Fritz Westmyn, she would have had nothing to fear.
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Okay, because I'm a lazy whore I'm gonna keep this short and pretty much gloss over most of these two chapters (I still haven't forgiven you for not giving me enough time to review :<).

2-5: No major mechanics errors that I could see. Content wise... D'awww. Fritz is such a gentleman. And who knew that Aporon would be the sensible one? *eyeroll* And not so sneaky, sneak away. Nice. Although, they're going to be found out sooner or later and the goon squad is going to get payback. Nifty new characters/coordinators. And more evidence of my awesomeness. Yay me (okay, I picked two Pokémon, big whoop). And a rivalry! How nice. RUN THATCHER, RUN! I swear, that boy needs a hug. Quick note, that last battle with the two coordinators was really nice. Great description and everything. And back to Thatcher. Who is found by the magical hobos. I'm canonizing that now, just saying. Essentially, the end. I'll admit, I'm wee disappointed. I kinda wanted to see the rest of the contest. Or at least find out the winner.

2-6: Grammar looked good. Onto the content! Oh, hey travelling through the woods, this is okay. Awww, they all went on a pic-a-nic! [/Yogi Bear joke] Wait. They went on a picnic? Wut. Oh. Hey, they want them to do manual labor. How predictable. And how mature. That old song thing? Wow. There is a bit of a logical problem as to why Fritz simply didn't use Tangela to get the berries and stay secure, etc. But we can overlook that! :p Okay, small complaint. From "A great idea. I'd better..." to "...I'm pissed off." I'm completely lost. Like what even happened right there? I mean, I get that they fell but its just like a big blog of dialogue sans description. Oooh, hey! Vespiquen. I rather like her. And Eevee comes out of nowhere and goes crazy "I will cut you" bitch on her. Well. That escalated quickly. Poor Vespiquen. I hope it'll be okay! Also, I wants to know about the Pokés he has back at home! Gloss gloss gloss~! CRAY CRAY GURL HAY! I mean, seriously. Was not expecting political activist from random psychic chick. And she's still mysterious. Kissing him for no apparent reason and all that. Reika was tolerable for the smidgen bit she was in here.

So yeah. Looking forward to seeing the next chapter!
AiedailEclipsed, Chapter 2-5:
Quick note, that last battle with the two coordinators was really nice. Great description and everything.

So two people have said this so far. Hm.

I'll admit, I'm wee disappointed. I kinda wanted to see the rest of the contest. Or at least find out the winner.

I actually wanted Fritz to have a line in there that was along the lines of, "If it makes you feel any better, Augustus didn't win," but he had no way of finding that out.

AiedailEclipsed, Chapter 2-6:
There is a bit of a logical problem as to why Fritz simply didn't use Tangela to get the berries and stay secure, etc. But we can overlook that! :p

He wasn't told what he had to do until after he was up the tree. They probably wouldn't have let him use Tangela to get up, and it probably just slipped his mind to use it to secure himself. That or he was confident enough not to fall.

Okay, small complaint. From "A great idea. I'd better..." to "...I'm pissed off." I'm completely lost. Like what even happened right there? I mean, I get that they fell but its just like a big blog of dialogue sans description.

Fritz fell out of the tree. Due to psuedo-present tensing, it happened so fast that he didn't have time to describe it before he hit the ground. Then he was focused on the pain, right before losing his shit (and not describing anything due to rage).

Also, I wants to know about the Pokés he has back at home! Gloss gloss gloss~!

Haven't figured enough of them out yet.

CRAY CRAY GURL HAY! I mean, seriously. Was not expecting political activist from random psychic chick. And she's still mysterious. Kissing him for no apparent reason and all that.

There was a mild warning sign in how she was concerned with the construction in 2-3. And it's not necessarily political. On a side-comment, trying to figure out a neutral-y opinion of a kiss wasn't easy.


Chapter 2-7: Pest Control

Do you hate Mondays?

Well, as far as Monday was concerned at Rukh's University, things were actually okay. Well, for me, at least. Biology went well, and things were at long last under control in Art.

But Thatcher was really down in the latter. In his exact words, "I just...you know, I don't know...if Ms. Odell...I mean, I don't mean any offense to her, but...it's just. Well...I don't know if she can teach us anything...we might not already...know." A harsh honesty that surprised even Reika. I was able to help him through it like I was able to help him on Saturday, but it was still a cause for concern. The source for my other friend was the morning class. Reika was having problems, but was far less receptive to aid.

So far, Tuesday's been all right as well. I actually learned a bit in Tactics, though I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to apply the knowledge. Phoebe was with her sister the whole time, which led to a bit of a spat when the goons made a futile effort to separate the two. Though I was surrounded by stressed individuals in Socials, Aporon's getting me off the hook to the week's worth of work in addition to what I can assume were a few additional complaints made things trudge along smoothly.

Due to my friends' punishment from Mrs. Shugiri, they have to spend two hours after class in detention. The hours without them have been dull. I hung out with Teiko and Teikō yesterday, but due to their going on a date today, that was out of the picture. And...well. I guess it's about to get interesting, because here comes the preppy boy in his preppy suit.

"Good afternoon, Fritz Westmyn!" he greeted with a curt nod. I initially thought to pretend he wasn't there. But I guess that'd be more fun with someone like Edgar. Still, I don't have to like his presence.

"What do you want?" I asked with lassitude.

"I have been told you are to come with me."



"Prephead!" I repeated. It doesn't matter what his name is. "I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Edgar before. You have no power over me."

"Hrmph!" He snorted, haughtily and smugly. "That is where I am far better prepared than my associates." He reached into the suit, producing a neatly folded scrap of paper and handing it to me. I snatched it from him and looked it over.

"A written statement?" That's Aporon's writing to be sure. He couldn't have falsified this, not with his inability to so much as print.

"Cronus is away at a movie with Edgar and Lawrence. I chose to pass," he explained, "As I have no time for such trite matters. In his stead, I will be training you for today." The prep continued before I could begin to express my displeasure, "There is no need to concern yourself, however. All you will need to do is observe."

I suppose there isn't anything better to do. And that is just sad. May as well at least humor him. "Observe what?"

He motioned. "Follow."

We began to trek parallel to the perimeter of the main building. I will say this about this prep at least. Despite his association with Aporon, he is cordial compared to that wrathful fratboy and that perverted nerd. "The other reason why I chose to do this is that I wished to discuss something with you."

I remained silent, not particularly caring for whatever it could be, but not standing in opposition to hearing it either. And not just due to the fact that he would likely proceed regardless of any protest or disinterest.

"I heard about the events surrounding your battle with Aporon," he plainly stated. "You were soundly defeated in the end. But I thought you would wish to be aware. It's not just anyone who can perform on that level against him."

A confidence boost? Well, I mean. I had confidence in myself to begin with. At least, before that battle. Now that he brings it up to me though, I guess it is a feat that I lasted as long as I did. I guess I am feeling a little better about that now. David went on to say, "Only one other individual has been able to frustrate him as you did, drawing out the darker side of his temper."

"Huh. That's something. Who's the other person?"

He didn't verbally reply. Instead, my answer was provided as we made it to the field behind the four-story structure.

"Oh. I should've guessed."

Now I feel stupid. How could it be anyone but her? Who our Tactics teacher Mr. Baiaz dubbed the most callous student in the school. Her limpid boredom is clear as the sky.

The golden mammal by her side, as bright as a flash yet with eyes as black as night, looks like it had just been through an industrial blowdryer. It has to be...the spikiest Pokemon I have ever seen that does not remind me of a porcupine. This thing wears a razor-sharp collar, its ears are barbed on the tips, and its back end has a row of light-tinted cuspidate blades jutting out - most of which are pointed diagonally up and back, but one on either side are almost horizontal. At least its paws don't have apparent claws.

The battle it'd just been through had been one-sided and particularly brutal. So what about its hapless foe? Two biological ribbons with long streamers are adorning on this quadruped - one as a bow-tie, and one as a flower in the hair. Even if said 'hair' is basically just two tufts on either side of its head. The two hollow hoops that are probably its ears stand tall even as their owner lay flat. I can't tell you much about its eyes for their being shut, or its body color, as it has been considerably singed. Its owner is kneeling in distress.

"The battlegrounds? Don't tell me you want me to-"

"I have said it before. All you need to do is observe as I battle Muriel Palmoni." The prep looked over to the punk-like girl and crossed his arms accusingly. "And what have you been doing?"

"You were taking too long. I was growing impatient," she said, not showing the slightest remorse over the curbstomping she'd performed. With a gesture to her addled victim, she added, "And it was him who challenged me, with his worthless species of Pokemon."

"While you will get no argument from me," my tutor-for-the-day began as he produced a Great Ball in his left hand, "It is my duty as an associate of Cronus Aporon to protect the honor you wish to destroy."

A ball of byzantium fluff burst onto the scene as he cracked opened the ball. It's only a couple feet tall; its droopy antennae providing as much to its height as the lack of arms or legs. Despite their nonappearance, it does have small claws and feet. Its rose-tinted irises are blatantly compounded.

"A Venonat?"

David scoffed at my questioning tone. "This is one of my strongest, if not, outright my strongest Pokemon," mocking my doubt towards his decision. Presenting the bug as though it were on a pedestal, he claimed, "Many people look at it and question why I do not have it evolve, but few realize that there are advantages."

I know that. I have a few Pokemon like that, including Tangela. It's the third-strongest of all the Pokemon I've obtained in Japan, and certainly has the capacity to evolve. But if it were to do so, it would be far too heavy to perform acrobatic stunts. I'd have to completely rethink the strategy to employ when it battles, and in the end the transformation ultimately wouldn't be worth it.

Muriel was adamant. "Use whichever Pokemon you want," she droned while recalling her own. She placed the ball in her black bag and retrieved a different one. "It won't make a difference."

A tall longneck materialized. On four thick legs, this verdant reptile with a stocky tail has two prominent features on its body. The first would be its neckring, comprised of giant orange, green, and white petals in a star shape. Second are the two leaves on its forehead, scimitar-like and proclaiming they're way cooler than goofy limp antennae could ever hope to be.

"Her Meganium. This is not good," David stated, for once showing emotion that was free of snobbishness. His bravado faltered a bit, and a serious expression was contorting.

"That's a Grass type..." And he has a Pokemon that's both Bug and Poison. I'll take his word on his Venonat's power, but given his response towards this plant that doesn't look threatening, there's got to be something up. "I'm assuming this is trouble on another level."

The prep adjusted his tie. "Like you would not believe, Fritz Westmyn." What could be going through his mind right now? He gathered a bit of focus back, asking his opponent, "So, are you ready to begin?"

Muriel shook her head. "You two," she hollered to two male students watching from just outside the fencing. "Get over here."

The one on the left calmly walked in, a confident smirk ornamenting his face. The one on the right was a lot more robotic in his obedience and expression. As I stood by the prep, so did they stand by Muriel. Are they her apprentices?

"I want you two taking notes during this. "


"Yes! Ma'am!"

I blinked. I've seen some odd combinations, even been a part of them, but these two are something else. "Phoebe and I may have to face those two?" Actually, where is Phoebe, anyway?

"Correct. To give credit where it is due, she made a wise decision in Varick McGrody. A vassal who only obeys befits that woman." Brown boots, camouflage pants, and a green vest are his choice of attire. Kind of fitting in an indescribable manner, like his industrial gray gaze and buzz cut. "Although, the logic behind Korum Anaberal is far more ambiguous." Somewhat more interesting, this individual wears high-class clothing comparable to David's. The rare times he's not in a suit like he is now, anyway. Korum sports obsessively groomed blonde hair with 'bigshot' written all over it.

David returned attention to Muriel. "So, are you prepared now?"

She flipped her hair at its streaks. "Meganium. Grab it."

Right out of the gate right off the bat? David, as if he were expecting this, ordered, "Venonat, deflect the vines away with Psywave!"

A pair of green tentacles emerged from beneath the flower on the sauropod's neck. Meanwhile, the bug began to emit odd psionic ripples from its body. Meganium's efforts to wrap its appendages around its adversary were in vain - it was unable to push the vines through the rippling barricade.

"Good. Now Venonat-"

"Light Screen."

Reeling its vines back and pulling out two more, Muriel's Pokemon began to glow with a mysterious energy. It then held the tendrils out as though it were marking the corners of a rectangle. With a quick wipe, the lime-green barrier came into reality. All this happened in three seconds - the same amount of time Venonat needed to think and fire a Signal Beam from its eyes. The Light Screen gleamed as the laser refracted through it, Meganium not even flinching from what did hit it.

"It's an obvious trap," I pointed out. I didn't expect this from her, but I can see where it's headed. "If you get in close, she's going to try something."

"Astute," David relented, "But I am not concerned. Venonat! Use Reflect. Then move in with Bug Bite!"

Using a similar technique of gathering energy - albeit via the eyes - the fluffball was able to create a barricade of its own. This one rounded and a blue shift. Then, what the hell? This thing's fast!

Muriel remained calm. "Snare it with Grass Knot."

Perfectly-timed and perfectly-aimed, the turf beneath their foe came to life. Venonat was instantly halted by this attack, binding its feet so tight that it didn't fall over. It fired a Psybeam on impulse, which hardly scratched its adversary due to the defensive shield. With a bored signal from Muriel, a silver sphere of light formed in Meganium's maw. The beige energy core within pulsed, right before the orb solidified and flew off. It impacted the trapped Venonat violently, shattering into many soil-like fragments.

I remarked, "That was Ancientpower."

"A difficult set of circumstances," David noted. "What would you do in this situation?"

"Hmm." Put on the spot. Let's see now. "I'd counter or shoot down her attacks, and force her to come in close. Or at least buy some time."

"A fair enough concept, but I had something else in mind. Venonat. Psywave across the ground."

By tilting just a little, it was able to carry out the order. The Grass Knot broke apart, and Venonat was able to escape a second blast of the primeval assault. But it was instantly forced to put its acquired freedom to the test as Muriel placed her left hand on her hip.

"Let's give them a barrage of Energy Balls."

Unlike Ina's Bellossom from last week, Muriel has clearly trained her Meganium for this sort of thing. Like a semi-automatic rifle, the photosynthetic globes emerged one after another. Venonat's dodging skills appear quite superb, but this erratic flurry is pushing its limits.

Muriel look over her left shoulder and nodded. "Nature Power."

From the earth-no, the goddamn fence?!?!! A burst of electricity just rocketed out of the green chain-link, sideswiping Venonat and sending it tumbling to the ground!

David scowled at her. "I am supposing you were busy in the duration I was away. Your Jolteon's battle served a dual purpose."

Muriel remained still, neither confirming or denying these allegations. As Venonat managed to its feet, she nodded to her Pokemon. "Grab it."

Out came the vines again. David and Venonat stood strong. "Charge in with Zen Headbutt!" Using its stunning dexterity, the fluffball charged forth. The first set of vines missed, causing Muriel to command it to try it with another set. Three more emerged, two of which went to the sides and one of which was poised for a head-on collision with its target. At the last moment, Venonat sidestepped to avoid it. The vine on the right tried to close in, but a quick somersault deflected it. It's on a breakway!!


"Disable it! You know what to do after you hit!"

Venonat's eyes flashed strangely. The dinosaur found itself unable to complete the move it was preparing to use only moments earlier. The bug continued forth unimpeded and with a mighty leap, smashed its skull into Meganium, sending the sauropod staggering back. From one eye emerged a Signal Beam. From another, a Psybeam. The two mingled together into a cyclonic laser, which pierced the Light Screen without fuss.

Muriel was a little taken aback at first over this development, but smirked devilishly after the shock wore off. I can't tell if that's some form of enjoyment, or if she'll be enjoying what is to follow. "Ancientpower, close-range. Then Body Slam." Guess it was the latter, unless it was both. With David's command, Venonat hopped to the left to avoid the blast - it was only nicked by the explosion - and then to the right to escape its opponent attempting to smother it.

"Stun Spore, and fall back!" Venonat loosed orange powder into the prone Meganium's face and scurried away as fast as it could.

"You battled well Muriel," David started with confidence as his Pokemon stood before him, "But cunning intellect has triumphed over cunning power today! Brains over brawn." She rolled her eyes, ignoring her writhing Pokemon, seemingly uncaring of either the result or at least the premature proclamation. "Now, Venonat! Use Poison Fang!"

Its two teeth radiating a violet hue, Venonat bounded in, abruptly stopping just before it got there.

"What?" David tilted his head, examining his Pokemon's feet. Yet he did not find the signs of a Grass Knot there. "What in the world did you do just now?"

An unimpressed Muriel crossed her arms. "Since you like sayings. He who hesitates is lost." With a snap of her fingers, the third go at grabbing Venonat proved to be the charm. Only seconds after did the bug shake off whatever made it halt, and realize the severity of what happened.

"Safeguard first. Then reel it in."

Meganium made a spiraling veil with its remaining vines. Carrying out the second order, it slammed its foe against the ground, and then its own body when slingshotting the bug in. Summarily, it squeezed the Pokemon intensely against itself. The fluffball struggled furiously to break free. And then its nose twitched. Gradually, it calmed down. As if it were losing its will to fight. Meganium let go, and an oddly content Venonat simply flopped to the grass below.

"Now," Muriel said, "Give up. Or else."

"Hmph!" David is rising in defiance. "There will be no yielding from me. If we are going down, we will be going down with honor."

"I thought so. I only thought to ask if this were the day you'd consider your Pokemon." She turned to her own, and gave a spiteful order: "Crush it."

A thick brown root or tree branch came crashing out from underground. Covered in thorns, it wrapped around the prone Venonat. As David watched on, another burst forth, and another, and another, eventually completely enveloping their target. The absolutely vicious Frenzy Plant rose upwards, shaking and flailing violently. Venonat squealed in pain for only a second, and it didn't take sight to know that its going silent was a sign of fainting. Finally, as if discarding litter, the roots or branches hurled the unconscious Pokemon at its trainer's feet.

David knelt down and cradled the almost-mangled ball in his arms. "Venonat, you fought valiantly. Rest well for now."

"You got what you deserved," Muriel taunted as she approached with malice. She got right up in David's face, and he momentarily appeared a little intimidated by her harrowing presence. "You're lucky I didn't do worse to your little piece of trash for what you put my sister through."

The prep regained his composure, staring back in agitation. "Do not act as though full responsibility is pegged upon me."

Muriel didn't miss a beat. "And do not think your martyring yourself in vain means this is over."

"I have defeated you once before, Muriel. Do not forget."

"And lost seventeen times. Lightning doesn't strike twice." David winced at the stinging words. Muriel narrowed her eyes. "Your integrity got you nowhere. Your honor only made matters worse. And Aporon's four Ps? When he gets back from hiding, tell him to add a fifth: pathetic."

"Grrr...take that back!"

"That's low!" Now the crowd was getting involved. Really...are they blind to, or just blindly accepting of what they're doing to Phoebe and me? Or could there be something more at work? Another person unleashed their full venom on the punk girl, "I hate you, Muriel!"

"I hate you too," she commented on the side, as if stating it and not saying it. "And speaking of Aporon. I hope for his sake he's prepared for what's to come."

Just noticed that her two trainees are sizing me up. Well, at least one of them is. Varick McGrody was watching on readily, yet Korum Anaberal is clearly scrutinizing me. I feel like a bacteria under a microscope, and considering the type of person Muriel is, I may have as much worth to her too.

With a gesture to me, Muriel stated, "I'd see how good this chump is compared to my own, but we have places to be." Partially confirming my suspicions. In any case, with this being said, Muriel, Varick, and Korum stormed off through the crowd, who hastily fell over themselves parting to accommodate their passing through.

I turned to face the mourning prep. "So...what was the point of this?" I am wondering. I'm not complaining, and while this is way closer to the things I was expecting from training, I am wondering.

David simply told me, "Besides the discussion, I thought it would be wise to show you precisely who we are dealing with in Muriel. It is a shame I was unable to defeat her, however." He grimaced a little. "I was so close as well. Do you have any idea what she could have done at the end?"

"You mean why Venonat stopped?" That was kind of unusual, but there has to be some sort of explanation. There has to be some factor, internal or otherwise, that made it halt. "I'd say it could have been Sweet Scent, but I didn't smell anything. Did you?"

"No. Perhaps it was a concentrated burst. But I am uncertain," he sighed. Maybe...? Who can say if it was an outside factor, though? "I suppose I will have to rethink my strategy for next time."

"Well, isn't she the only person here who's managed to beat-"

"Fritz! Fritz!"

God damn it, will people stop running up to me from behind? I have to give the prep credit for actually coming into my view first, at least. But seriously, really? Who is it this time?

"Um?" A valid question, actually. "Who are you?"

"We need you to help us!" the short young man cried, antsiness telling me he had been waiting for a while. He's clad in like these work overalls that have green stains, and...pah, who cares?

Turning away now. "Ask someone else."

"No, you don't understand!" He's insistent, running to remain my field of vision. A little delirious, even. "We can't find Cronus or Elyna anywhere!"

"While I cannot speak for the latter's absence," the prep explained, his patience in elaborating to people who ask seemingly without limit, "Cronus is seeing a movie."

"Oh, I see..." relented the dark-haired boy, momentarily forgetting his issue. Momentarily. He quickly realized again and span back to me. Flaunting the most imploring body language short of praying on the knees, the guy beseeched me, "But you need to come to the greenhouse! Please!"

"Just ask a teacher."

"It's...it's kind of embarrassing."

I turned to David, stymied. "He's not going to go away, is he?" I got no reply from him. Thanks a lot. With a reluctant sigh, I said, "Fine, fine. Lead the way."

"Thank you, thank you!" He bowed to me and hustled off.

"Really, what's going on here?" I rasped to the prep as we tried to keep up. He didn't so much as bat an eye at this, so he probably knows what's up. So is he going to give me the silent treatment, or actually be helpful?

"The students of this school look up to Cronus Aporon," he told me. Guess he's helping. "If you were not aware or conveniently forgot about it." Albeit in his typical tone. "It is often him, followed by Elyna Dragomir, that they turn to for assistance with issues they cannot turn to anyone else to."

The guy who had requested assistance mercifully noticed our pace, slowing his own so that we could catch up. Before we got in earshot, I argued to David, "But I'm not on good terms with either of them. Especially Cronus."

"And that is reason for many of them hating you," he immediately followed up. "However, they do trust and respect you. Which is more than can be said about individuals who shall not be named."

I see David's still a little salty after that loss. But this is something I'm not used to at all. I don't know how to handle this, so I guess I'll just be rolling with it. "But man," I continued to chat with him quietly while we walked. "If this is going to become a regular thing...well. Interacting with all those different people..." I shook my head.

"The trick is to stick by those you are close with," he advised. "Get to know them well, and get to know others enough to be acquainted, at least."

I nodded. Solid advice. And as for these people. I have to wonder. What could be troubling at a greenhouse that would be embarrassing?


My latest expedition involving following an individual or individuals somewhere took me to the corner of the school's boundaries. Parallel to the auditorium, the greenhouse of Rukh's is about twice its size and has a number of plots of loamy soil around it. Various plants, fruits, vegetables, and berry crops are being grown, fully exposed to the elements. Unlike the other building tucked away, there is no winding path leading to it. Other than the tall barricade and aforementioned dirt, only well-groomed grass surrounds this glass construct.

Stepping inside, the interior has traces of disorder. Although the exposed earth permits for growing crops within, many of the plants here are being cultivated in containers. Some dangle from above, some rest on the ground, and in spite of what I stated there are some in the earth. Yet the majority of these are on the rows of tables consuming roughly a third of the area; altogether it could feel akin to a flea market. That sells only plants. All that being said, it feels like less of a jungle than...well, those activists' place. And it's less forced to boot.

"So what did you call me here for, again?" I asked. I had completely forgotten while engrossed in the sight. Hold on, did they even tell me?

A mustached blonde student gave me the briefing. "There's some Pokemon that've been coming in here the past few days."

The boy who led me here confirmed. "We don't know what they are. Or where they are!"

"They're here now though..." mused the first one in paranoia. "We know they are!"

Really? Invading Pokemon? They're more than likely coming in here to feast, yet for a class which teaches gardening, I would like to believe keeping them away would be among the lessons taught. Or could it be something more? No, I doubt it. I turned to the prep. "This is completely asinine."

"It is simply part of the job," he stated with an unyielding face. He then rolled his eyes and went on to concede my point, "Regretfully."

"Ugh." Well, here's to four more years of this. "May as well get to work. But first..."

For caution's sake, I retrieved a Poke Ball from my pocket and cast it onto the ground. A shaking cerulean mass of climbing plants burst out with a squeak. The eyes of the round creature scoured what was before it.


"Nice Tangela."

"It's so pretty!"

"Is that the same one as before?!"

"Of course it is, you idiot!!"

My Tangela has never been much of a showoff, which you wouldn't think so given its preferred battling style. In fact, it initially seemed a little confounded at the scenario it had been placed in. Therefore, I explained that I needed it out during my search, just to be sure.

To an audience of around 20-30 individuals, David and I set about the task. Only three others aided us, one of whom seemed reluctant. For fright, sloth, or possibly fascination, the rest merely observed.

After checking the plotters for about three minutes, something occurred to me. If these Pokemon are here as advertised, they're probably both A) camouflaged and B) in a thicker concentration of greenery than this. Surveying the situation more. Beyond the tables and besides the tiny crops, there are a few larger shrubs being grown. If I were a Pokemon, I'd more than likely be concealing myself...somewhere like in those bushes next to that stubby tree!!

I made a beeline for the spot. The crowd followed to see what I was up to. Sure enough, after a few seconds of observation, the bush rustled slightly. Tangela raised a pair of vines. With a nod of confirmation, the blue spaghetti opened the shrubs to see what was within. A few gasps echoed out at this bold approach.

And we found the culprits, making them breath a sigh of relief. All of them green and yellow. Three are these little lumpy worms with big black eyes, They have a V-shaped crest on their foreheads, four lumpy pods, and a tail piece just shy of being a barb. The outlier has six striped legs, two white fangs, and a dull horn. It sort of looks like it has a smile on its back, though not to downplay the critter's true beam.

"Three Caterpies and a Spinarak," David remarked.

"Aww, they're kinda cute," I couldn't help but gush as one of the caterpillars began sniffing my hand. When it rubbed up against me, I was convinced they posed no threat. I couldn't help but tease my unnerved peers a little, "You're really not afraid of a couple little bugs, are you?"

A girl spoke up. "What we're really worried about how they got in!"

The Spinarak slowly scaled the tree, as if to show off a bit. Spiders are usually carnivorous, so it's pretty neat to see them interacting with fellow bugs. Speaking of which, the other two seemed uninterested or timid.

How they got in...well, I doubt they'd get in through the ceiling even with the possibility of a loose panel. But with all the dirt here-


It just grabbed my face and latched onto it for no reason!! What's gotten into it?!! Instinct is to pry the Pokemon off, but it's holding on tight. When Tangela let go, it was of its own accord. As I shook off the shock...

...what the hell?! Why is everyone passed out on the ground?!?!! Tangela ignored my grumblings and bewilderment, looking around in attempt to track a target high above. Yet what it eventually locked on to - all three of them - pranced with tiny nubs along the ground. The color of bricks and marigold, with shadowy opaque wings and alien feelers.


Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the terrified Caterpies scurrying into a burrow in the ground. That must be how they made it in, and has to be how these things got here!

I know Kricketunes live in grassy plains, marshes, and forests. The blades they wield are better suited for creating lacerations rather than carving through flesh, and as such they prefer to slash rather than stab. They're strictly herbivores. What else? I know they can't use powder, so there has to be something else lurking around. But let's take care of these guys first!

"Tangela, Vine Whip on all of them!"

A quick sweep of my Pokemon's vines sent the trio of mustached insects to the ground. As they got up, one squealed irritably, another appeared to be pumping itself up, and the third charged in. The Kricketune Slashed at the stunned-from-the-sound Tangela, who shook off the blow and slammed its body into it. Right as the second of the group crossed its blades to use X-Scissor and advanced. My Pokemon shoved upwards to avoid, and on my urging, grabbed onto one of the flowerpots dangling from above.

"Okay," I said, backing away as it pulled itself on top, "Drop some Stun Spore!"

Tangela shook some dust out of its body. A blue and white blur-wait, what?!?!! I ran out and caught my Pokemon as it fell, also serving to get further from the descending dust. What just knocked it down? Need to focus. And great, the bugs scattered to avoid the cloud, and one's coming this way.

I quickly moved my leg to avoid getting skin and/or clothing hacked open. I jumped back, pointed Tangela right at the cricket, and called for a Leech Seed. A few green buds launched out, bursting into stalks that tethered around their victim. The noodly mess quickly brought a vine down on the trapped Kricketune's head, rendering it unconscious. A second one didn't fare much better - a turn from me and blast of Sleep Powder from Tangela, and it was lights out. Two down. Two to go.

I placed Tangela down to duel with the adversary we can see. As for the other...it's clearly roaming the air, but we can't bring it down if we don't know where it is. While I was thinking about that, Tangela bound the blades of the remaining Kricketune to prevent an X-Scissor...and from out of nowhere came a blast of String Shot around its feet!! Tangela tried to wiggle away, but I'd imagine with the thread, it's like trying to wade through a sticky swamp. Where could it have come from?

Wait...I hear...

"Tangela, block the attack!"

I pointed where I think the sound came from, and was relieved that my ears served me well. A beam of piercing celestial energy was wafting directly for Tangela. That could've been very bad - Star Ray (aka Speedstar) is a piercing move like Dragon Rage, just with star-shaped rays instead of majestic blue breath - yet this crisis was averted by picking up the bound Pokemon and interposing it between them. And that gave away its position. I traced a path through the air and brought my sight straight to the source.

Is that...a giant butterfly? It looks like it. The white I saw is its wings, though now that I look at it there's quite a bit of black and orange there too. It has eyes, claws, and feet that are basically the same as Venonat's, so it would surprise me if this indigo-bodied insect isn't its evolution.

Dropping the KO'd Kricketune, Tangela managed to roll and free itself from the trap. After a moment's thought, it absorbed sunlight filtering in through the dome. The butterfly, on seeing its foe begin to shine, flew up and...seems to have disappeared? A quick scour revealed it didn't speed off, and it clearly wasn't any form of teleportation. Tangela again grabbed onto a hanging pot, this time, to survey. It squealed and pointed a vine. My Pokemon had spotted it, on the opposite end of the glass? However the hell it got there, it flew off out of sight.

Well, that was intense. But I guess it's gone. And the rest are all taken care of. Very, very weird.

I brought Tangela back. There's not much I can do about the sleeping individuals. They'll be out for another five minutes to half hour, depending on how much of it they inhaled, their metabolism, and other miscellaneous factors. I could aid them, see if a few are awake but groggy, but it doesn't matter. May as well-um?

The door's not opening. Locked? Stuck? I'm guessing locked, but there doesn't seem to unlock it from the inside without a key. There could be a trick I don't know about, but I'm not seeing anything. Everyone else is asleep because of the butterfly's powder and being weak-minded, and I have no way to burrow my way out in any reasonable amount of time, so I guess I'm in here until someone with a key comes to.

Or maybe I can get help from outside! There's a young man in a white lab coat out there. I'd ask why he's wearing it despite not being in class, but now is not the time to question fashion sense!

"Hello?" I asked loudly after I walked up to the side of the dome.


Well, that's how you usually open a conversation. What a...plain tone to return salutations, though. He won't even make eye contact. Odd guy. But similarly, this is not the time to question social skills!

"Did you know that Bug Pokemon are the most feared Pokemon worldwide? One might expect it to be Ghost. Or perhaps Dragon, or Dark, or what other countries have dubbed Organic." Okay? Those last ones aren't widely known in Japan, and in fact, technically don't exist here. I guess he must've witnessed the events. And just watched. The knowledgeable young man gazed over the grounds sorrowfully. "It is May. The month of year when Bug Pokemon tend to get a little antsy."

"That puts some things in perspective, but could you help a guy out here? The door's locked, and I'm stuck inside."

"I would, but I am a little busy right now." He adjusted his round glasses and gave the greenhouse a swift kick. It didn't so much as pang. "The dome is shatterproof, regardless."

"That's just wonderful."

"Indeed it is," he chuckled while walking away. "Indeed it is."

Wait, what?!
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Another elder chapter review comiinnnng your way.

So, we start off on some Fritz and training stuff. I have to say, I wonder why Fritz sticks with his gang with the stuff he has him doing. Fritz doesn't seem like one with a high tolerance for BS so it did seem quite particular he still did all of the annoying forms of "training" Cronus and his gang threw at him. Fritz's smartass comments this chapter and snark were once again entertaining for me, he can be quite fun to read and there's a natural sense of wit that he shows. The Nidorina poison scene for example. We got a sorta big dog status established, Muriel, Cronus, and Elyna are the best battlers, huh? I'm kinda willing to not take Elyna calling herself one of the best as facevalue given her demeanor and the fact she doesn't battle much, though she was right on the former two. We learn Reika and Thatcher are alright, it was an unsurprisingly revelation for me at the time. Overall, this chapter wasn't super exciting but the characterization of most of the characters made it a fun read.

So we went to the lake. Where they made me drink right from it...but at that point, I felt like I could drink the whole thing regardless of water quality.
Just a well written sentence, despites Fritz's tiredness in such...how to say, young adult way.

I droned, partially repeating the wording they used. She wasn't her usual self, but could stand on her own power. It was just enough for her to be practically frothing at the mouth in rage, but not quite enough for her to actually take action.
I like it when Pokemon show traces of personality, even in small moments like that. Getting a read on Fritz's team's personality, Nidoran seems kinda badass, Eevee is timid, Mareep is....incompetent/a lesser timid(?), and I'm not sure about Tangela.
Okay well I finished reading both of chapters, first of all sorry that it took me so long to read them both, a lot of things happened and such xD

But anyways.

I liked 2-6 though it felt a bit uneventful for me throughout most of the chapter, aside from some notable things. For one there was Eevee going nuts, I didn't think that the Pokemon would end up turning out to be psycho, though it is a nice twist on the cute and weak Pokemon trend by having it be the deadliest one; something that even Fritz was surprised about.

Raika's so nice isn't she? xD though I thinks he got a little jealous with the thing with Pramela, also I'm glad that that thing I helped you out with showed up after all :D plus I liked the culture twist you gave it, oddly enough when you were describing Pramela I started to think of a character from this manga I read who also has the same power.

Anyways the plot is moving more in that sense but now let's go to 2-7 shall we.

Can I say I like David, he just seems different compared to the rest of Aporon's goons, he seems more reasonable and at least he doesn't want to embarass Fritz, plus he actually took him to do something necessary and he's just funny xD. It was nice to see Muriel again, and I can definitely see some alpha bitch tendencies from her, though it's not like Aporon's any better.

The fight against the bugs was interesting, plus I liked the part at the end for how funny it is, Fritz is just wanting to get out as fast as possible and the guy doesn't give a damn.
This chapter is shit. The only thing I'm happy with is the title. But I'm getting it out of the way, because I don't feel like making it better and if I don't do it now I'll never ever do it. A difficult task anyway because this chapter was hard to write and pretty much is just character exposition, development, and renormalization.

On a more positive note, the first set of Chapter Details is up! Only spanning from 1-1 to 1-4 for now, this part of the Atlas will give you a variety of information and things you may not have noticed on each chapter.


Chapter 2-8: Dissident Perception of the Absolute

The past week was absolute hell, making people long for the monotony after the fire. Going over it again would be fruitless, yet it's so hard not to. And with what happened on Tuesday, this week is shaping up to be no different.

Well, Tuesday. Let's go over what happened yesterday after that guy in the lab coat walked off. Bug Pokemon swarmed around the campus for about five minutes, the attack stopping as suddenly as it started. The teachers were all in a meeting or away. No one took a stand, because anyone who could was either not present or trapped in a greenhouse. And...that's pretty much it. Unfortunately. The guy was discreet about it. He didn't do anything to make himself stand out. Hell, I can't even prove he was responsible - it's just a guess.

The aftermath? What did the staff think of it? Even given the numerous accounts of the hit-and-run assault, they thought it was just an elaborate prank. It's hard to believe they're not turning some sort of blind eye.

Even some people like Reika and Thatcher who missed the action are having trouble believing it as well. I mean, would you believe it? Bug Pokemon suddenly attacked, then disappeared, along with the guy who made them attack if you heard my account. It's surreal on many levels. A few people who were there to witness are starting to doubt it themselves. About the only receptive person was...Aiden Kripps. Who stated I seemed to know quite a bit about what allegedly happened. Which made me back off.

I'm trying to go over everything that's happened the past week in a half in my mind, but all of it is as a blur. Really. There's been so much going on as of late. I thought things would be fine after school started again. But no. Training, homework, my friends getting detention, that bug maniac...like, what the hell?

It's for that reason that I find myself where I never thought I'd be. A clock rests on the side of the offices, which I gazed at to check the time.


What am I doing here, honestly? This isn't going to help. Or maybe it will help. At least it would be one of my problems worked out. I've already knocked though. I can't go back now.

The door swung open. At this hour, the violet-colored robe on this person feels more natural. Natural as in, normal, not natural as in, the color she had dyed her hair. "Hello Frisco," she said, subtle delight on and out of her lips. "It is good to see you again."

"Hey Premala..." I greeted with a self-conscious groan. I had tried not to think about this strange individual too much after our meeting, but she lingered in the back of my mind. I wanted to just ignore it, yet circumstances led me to return. It's not something I like.

The mysterious girl wrapped her arms around me softly, a gesture I couldn't return. "I truly appreciate your considering this," she confided, as she grazed her temple against my own.

"I really truly do."

I jumped a bit at that, momentarily forgetting she can apparently talk into people's minds. Yet romance isn't what's on it at the moment, thus I told her, "I didn't come here to talk about that."

She released me from her grasp and smiled curiously. "Then what did you wish to speak to me about?"

"I don't know," I said. "I really need to just clear my head." Just being here eased my troubles before. It may be able to help again...or...maybe give me someone to talk to.

Premala gave a solemn affirmation. She held the door open, beckoning me to enter.


The visage of the bountiful Activists' Club graced my eyes. No one else is in here at this hour, curiously enough. The mossy carpets, the fluffy cushions, the wicker chairs...and all the decor. The only people in their presence are Premala and myself. Also present is a new element, or rather, a formerly concealed one. I was not able to notice it my first visit, but the walls of this humble construct are deceptively effectual at absorbing sound. No noise inside, none of the noise from outside. It is quiet. Not an eerie, but a peaceful silence.

Premala smiled at me. As I thought to plop onto a cushion, she began to pace towards the left of the pair of corridors. Leading me to the rooms beyond? I may as well follow her in and see.

Well, it looks like both place one in the same hall. A wider berth lies in the middle, a rectangle with edges marked by the far sides of the passages. The far ends lead to separate rooms, each sealed behind a door. Another set mark the wall just beyond the points where the hallway narrows. Being closer to the back, I postulate these could be storage closets, or another type of smaller room. As for the other two, I'm uncertain. The intersection that would be created by the perpendicular passage is not present. As for the larger partition, there's not much to state. If it has a purpose beyond an elongated table and two chairs, then I'm not seeing it.

Premala paused. She peered to the left. Then to the right, and to the left again. She shut her eyes, folded her hands, and went into deep thought. Upon opening them, we made a right turn, heading for the door there, to enter...

...a lounge?

The odds of it actually being one are slim and none, yet it is not an inaccurate description. Phthalo green seats and sofas - a contrast to the front room's lack of anything of the sort yet retaining a sense of naturality - are arranged in a square over a soil-tinted rug. The walls are lined with all manner of decor, bookshelves in particular added to the mix, yet otherwise mostly identical to the other rooms. There's a bit of natural lighting present filtering in from a window barred in a plus shape. There's also another door here on the right wall - it'd be where that non-parallel corridor leads.

I sat on a couch to my left. It's quite comfy...a lot of give to it. Premala went beside me, almost a little too close for comfort. She has to know. She's just staying out of that range, in a subtly teasing manner.

"You look very troubled, Frisco," she said, not mentioning her positioning or hinting to it in her tone.

"There's a lot on my mind, yeah." Since she decided to not bring it up, neither did I. I am unsure of what caused me to hesitate a little in my thought process, but eventually asked, "You know what happened yesterday, right?"

She closed her eyes. A tinge of remorse got expressed. "I only heard about the incident second-hand. We were aiding a bird Pokemon sanctuary during the time."

"I see." So Premala wasn't here either. Now I'm starting to wonder. Regardless, there's only one question to ask now. After a lot of pause... "Do you believe it happened?"

She beamed. With a simple tilt of her head, she was resting it on my shoulder. Her leaf green hair is feathery...analogous to the touch her cranium offered.


That word was projected into my mind, but the rest were pitched to my auditory sense, "Frisco, you...and all the others...you have no reason to lie about this," she rationalized, nestling in ever so slightly. My amorous patron retained this position for a full four seconds. Thereupon, she leaned back and teased me? "Do you?"

Rolled my eyes at that. "No. But why won't anyone believe it?" I lamented. Or, didn't mean to lament. My state of mind is just so messed up right now.

Premala put a finger on her lip while straightening her posture. "If I had to guess..." she neutrally pondered, "I believe the Dean does not want to close the school for longer than necessary. Therefore, he is ordering his staff to deny the existence of the incident."

"That's what I was thinking too." I mean, they absolutely cannot be oblivious. "Though, some of the students don't believe it, either. You're the first person I've talked to who's believed everything I've had to say. Even when I've told them everything I saw in detail."

She looked on in interest. Waiting for me to give my account? She says she believes it...so I guess this wouldn't be wasted breath. "I think I saw who did it," I initiated my elucidation with. I inhaled deeply before I continued, "I was in the greenhouse helping some people...and some Bug Pokemon attacked. One of them put everyone but me to sleep. And I fought them off. Then I saw a guy outside. It was like he was happy that I was stuck inside...oh, the door ended up sealed. And shortly after, the attack happened. And I think...maybe...he could've been the one responsible? The one controlling them?"

I can't believe I said that all in one breath, more or less. Still, "I don't know. Do you know?"

Premala thought about this for a long time. In the end, she apologetically shook her head. "I am sorry. I cannot think of anyone who could be able to do that. But thank you."

She moved in to embrace me yet again. I scooted away, evading her clutches. In reply, her face displayed a mix of interest and injury. "Sorry. I just..." My voice trailed off. I couldn't help but sigh. "Well. When I came here the other day...I suddenly felt at ease. For some reason. I thought maybe coming back would help me again." The only reason why I dared to chance it and come back. "But, I don't know if it helped today."

Premala nodded. "I understand."

A disturbing silence followed her words. Sheesh. Why do I suddenly feel like a bit of a jerk? There's no sense in dwelling on it, though. I just don't feel the same way about her as she feels about me; that can't be helped. Standing to my feet, I sulked over to take my leave.

"Frisco, would you like to come see something?"

Premala is still addressing me? Right as I was reaching for the handle, no less. "See what?"

"There is a special grove in the forest that I occasionally travel to," she confided, eyes serenely shut. As they wafted open and Premala said, "It may help you find the peace you seek," she demonstrated an imperturbation that may well be an advertisement for it.

A special grove in the forest, one that may help me soothe my mood. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try. At least, a secluded spot would allow me to better clear my mind. Reading my consideration, Premala got up and drew close, a faint bounce in her step.

"Hold it," I interrupted. It's a good concept, but there's a problem here. "How long is this going to take? I have class in a couple hours. Both of us."


Premala looked away. For once, I can read her: she's a little disconcerted to have forgotten this, yet it was but a flash in the pan. As Premala glanced away, something came to her. She strolled over to the wall to the left. A black phone is tucked into the corner there...its presence couldn't be more esoteric. Premala removed the receiver and dialed two digits. What is she doing? Why is that...what...

"Hello? Yes. Would it be possible for myself and Frisco Westmyn to be excused from our morning classes? I see. Yes. Thank you."

She hung up the phone and simpered in my direction.

"Premala? Who are you?"

The more mysterious by the second girl only replied, "Let us go."


I've been in the woods several times prior to this. It appears that it is becoming a habit of mine. But in those instances, I was in there on a schedule and with a purpose. Today is different. There's no rush, no urge to move at any pace except my own. The day I met Premala, before I met her, I made a note of the serenity. As I'm with her here on this day, the weather isn't as peaceful, yet the circumstances are making it far more relaxing.

And you know...you would expect morning, when all wildlife has woken up, to be a point when they're most active. It's not a surprise that they are chipper, but it is in how they are seemingly in zen.


"Wha-!?" What?! Um. "Y-Yes?"

"I apologize if this seems sudden," she stated, carefully deciding her words. "If you had to choose between following authority and following your beliefs, what would you choose?"

"What kind of question is that?" I whispered to myself. That is rather sudden. What could have brought this on? "Wait...you're talking about Dean Finkerton, aren't you?" The day she asked me to meet her...she was in strife with the school's principal over the development of land. This must be what she's talking about.

Premala hung her head low. She doesn't seem to be in any sort of shame, at least. Is it possible that another issue is bothering her? "What do you think of Dean Finkerton?" Perhaps not. Yet the way she said it, it didn't really answer my question.

What do I think of him. I've gone over it in my mind before, and echoed my precise sentiments to her, "Well...his morality is questionable. But I can at least trust the guy, in a weird way." I didn't state my additional reasoning why...yet I believe she may already be aware. With a casual shrug, I added, "I'll say that much."

Premala's "hm" was a sigh that said, 'I see.'

"What do you think of him?" I asked in turn. Again, Premala hmmed, but this time as if to say that she did not really want to answer that. I don't know why...I'm sure she knows I know they're not on the best of terms. So what's wrong with telling me the specifics of her issues?

We pressed on for another period. By all means, this uneventful walk should be dull. Yet it's not. It's sort of relaxing. Still, it's bothering me.



"Which do you like better? Day or night?"

"What do you mean?" I said. That's way more out of the blue than before. I was expecting us to chat a bit, and expecting questions, but I was not expecting these kind. I can't think of a possible motive for this one. But I'll answer it, "I don't mind or dislike either. They compliment each other well. Like, one's peaceful yet hollow, the other is active but overbearing."

This was acknowledged. I can't tell if my neutral response was responded to in a positive, negative, or matching manner. It's really tough to tell with this girl.

"So how were you able to get us out of class, anyway?" I asked. We're both students, and ordinarily, you can't just call up the staff and ask to be excused for no reason. That really has me raising my eyebrows.

But again, silence. This time, she didn't even acknowledge the question. She could've been giving an answer with her body language, but if she was, I didn't see it.

Another length of time later, we were walking a more open path. And once more, I found myself being addressed.


"Premala," I inquired, patience beginning to wear on her queries, "Why do you keep-"

I was interrupted by a screech from above, followed by what sounded like something colliding violently with a tree. Premala and I looked to each other, and in-sync, jogged over to the source.

We found it easily enough, lying at the base of a thick trunk. An avian with a ruff collar is splayed over the roots. While the tropical tones of its wings and body make it look pleasant, that's all the pleasantry there is to be had with this bird Pokemon. Its tail is a sharp, rigid feature with an orb around it. And it (probably) doesn't have the hardness required, but the goddamn axe attached to the back of its skull is a protrusion that commands respect. Except...something didn't.

Premala kneeled next to the fallen Pokemon in concern. "An injured Chatot..."

"No kidding." I studied the writhing Flying-type. One of its three-toed talons is splayed, and its attempts of flight from us are fruitless. I don't see any tearing...but all that couldn't have happened from an awkward collision. "It looks like it was attacked by something that bludgeoned it."

Premala 'hm'ed at my theory. "Is that what happened?"

Talking to Pokemon...? The language barrier that separates man, beast, and these strange creatures is much the same as the former's varying dialects, si usted entiende. Like a newborn child, a Pokemon learns to understand speech in time. Communication from the other end is a more arduous demand, yet possible. I won't bore you with all the details, most of which I'm unsure about. A wild Pokemon being able to respond to that with a squawk, however. I can say that's unusual.

"I see." Premala said, showing off what I'm guessing is a study of birdcalls. So is that confirmation or denial? Ugh, why does it matter? Premala, after consideration, spoke up to me, "Frisco. You have experience with medicine, do you not?"

"Only basic first-aid. And only on people." I learned it as a life skill, more or less. It sometimes extends to Pokemon due to similar anatomy and understanding concepts, but, "I have no idea what to do with an injured wing."

The mysterious girl thought about this, before offering, "Chatot. Would you like to come along with us?" presenting herself with open arms.

Without so much as a second thought, the parrot-looking Pokemon hobbled into her hands? And I thought those bugs were going to be the strangest thing I would see all week. Still, it is what's best for it. A capture, much like I did with that Vespiquen, isn't necessarily the best thing to do. Wait a minute, my Vespiquen...?

"Hey, Premala. I just thought of a few things."

Her response demonstrated concern. "What is it, Frisco?"

"A few days ago, I fought some Beedrills and a Vespiquen here in the forest. After I caught the latter, the others just dropped to the ground. Like something was being exerted upon them. When they got back up, they decided to change their mind and leave." That battle, brought on and fueled by my adrenaline from being rattled out of a tree by that dickhead, really ended...unnaturally. "And earlier yesterday, before the attack, my...enemy's friendly associate, David, was battling Muriel Palmoni, and his Venonat sort of froze in place for no reason." The possibility of outside interference was something I only gave mild thought to at the time. In retrospect, by her reaction, she may not have been responsible for its stopping. "Then there was that attack, of course. Do you think there could be a connection between the three?

Premala pondered this, yet did not provide verbal response. This time at least, I could tell...there was acknowledgement and uncertainty.


Our walk had to have been a half hour longer from that point. Thereafter, we sauntered into a tiny clearing, where a small construct lies in the middle. Akin to a ten-foot birdhouse, it appears to have been carefully crafted from ancient wood. Saloon-style double doors serve as an entrance, despite the structure only being wide enough to fit a single person

"A shrine...?"

"Correct," Premala affirmed my muse. "This shrine is dedicated to the protector of these woods."

I can't really help but stare. By all means, a shrine this humble should not be so awe-inspiring. Perhaps it's something my unattuned, mortal mind is unable to comprehend. "I never thought such a place would be out here."

"It is not something a lot of people are made aware of," she stated with closed eyes. After a moment's thought, she said, "If you feel it...you may go inside."

A nod. I approached the structure, a little...still...awe-inspired of it...and...willing to...ummm....


...what's come over me just now? A thousand thoughts are flashing through my mind. Do I want to set foot in there? Should I even be allowed to step foot in there? Is it even right? No...Premala said it was fine. And it's not that debilitating...just some second thoughts. I can't really dwell on this.

Deep breath. Gathering up my nerve, I managed to push apart the double doors. I took another deep breath as I took that first step in, greeted by...

...nothing special?

It's...not what I was expecting for the inside of a sacred shrine, yet at the same time is exactly what I was expecting. All I really see here are the opposite ends of the four wooden walls, just as plain as the outside. With the roof in place, light filters in from below and the narrow windows on each side. I'm looking around...trying to discern if there's something more here besides...and finding nothing. Yet...it doesn't feel like there's nothing else here. I just...

...I just have this strange feeling. A feeling that I'm being observed. But it's not a strange feeling for the fact that it is there. It's strange for how it feels neither malevolent or benevolent. Nor is it casting a judgment upon me. The protector, perhaps? A logical presumption, yet I can't perceive it with my senses.

"Frisco!?" Taken out of my trance by Premala's calling to me. Could it all be in my mind? I don't know. I never was the spiritual type. I may as well leave...if there's further nothing to see or do here.

With an...unseeming haste now that I think about it, I left the shrine. As I did so, I got greeted by Premala showing visible relief, intermixed with a bit of curiosity.

"So what did you see?" she asked. I had a feeling that Premala is the type of person who suppresses her emotions to an extent, and it's now confirmed. She's failing to adequately conceal an...excitement? Huh?

"Just the inside of a shrine," I informed. Succeeding at hiding my own thoughts.

"I see." A pause. A lengthy pause as Premala went over this in her mind. After, she said, "Thank you." She opened her arms and moved in to embrace me...wait a second.

"Where's Chatot?"

The injured Pokemon isn't with her anymore. My noticing caused only a moment's hesitation - there was no getting out of her gentle grip, I suppose.

"It is okay."

Speaking to me through my mind again, nuzzling her forehead against my own. Her elaborating was verbal, "Its injury was not as serious as we had anticipated. It was...able to fly away."

"Okay..." Something about that doesn't really add up, but I suppose it's unimportant. If the bird is well, then that's all that matters. But now I'm wondering what the reason behind her reaction was. And more concerningly or specifically...what I saw in her face.

"Premala?" I suddenly spoke up. She had already started to leave, and curiously turned to see the purpose of my hesitation. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she reassured. "It is okay."

"You look pale."

"Hm?" She held up her palm. It's not that what's pale though. It's her face. It wasn't like that before. I don't think she realizes that. Or perhaps she does...regardless, she told me, "There is no need to worry."

Well, I wish there wasn't. Or at least, that I wasn't worrying. Maybe it's simply a sudden cold, but I still have to ponder. Premala took one last look at the shrine before we left the clearing.


As with heading in, there was no rush in leaving the forest. The two of us were able to relax and bask in the presence of flora and fauna. Moving at no own's pace except our own. The conversation along the way was idle to boot. When we finally arrived back at the grounds, we were just north of the Activist's Club. An unusual feeling was...is still washing over me. I examined the clock on the side of the offices, as I did before.


Wow. We were out there for longer than I thought we would be. Yet...it's difficult to dub it to be negative. Plus, it's just so tranquil now. For obvious reasons, I am rarely out around the grounds during the morning hours on weekdays. I never noticed it the first day I was here, when capturing Huntail. But with no chattering crowds around to affect sight and sound, the school feels so empty. In a good way, I mean.

As we stood before the club's door, Premala turned to me and smiled. "Did that help you?"

"...yes," I said. "Surprisingly."

"I'm glad." Her soft words were as secure as her next action. Entwining her lips and body with my own. And once again...I'm just not feeling a thing. Well, not true. This time, I at least had it in me to half-heartedly return her hug. On my doing so, she responded by holding me a little more tightly.

"Well..." I mused as she broke it off, trying not to be as awkward as the last time she kissed me, "We have about an hour and a half until everyone else gets out for lunch." I half-forced a bright face. "What now?"

"Frisco..." Premala started with a sigh and a frown, "I wish I could spend more time with you. But I have something to attend to." Even when glum, she seems able to maintain her posture. Save for a lowered head, "I apologize."

Without so much as a goodbye, Premala entered the building and closed the door. I could hear the distinct sound of a lock not a moment after.

I blinked. That's a little disappointing. And I cannot believe I find it a little disappointing. The only thing I can say for sure is that her proposition was effective in dispelling my concerns. Even the introduction of a new thought weighing over my head isn't bogging my mind in the slightest. I'm thinking clearly. And I'm thinking a thought I should've thought a long time ago.

I wonder...what could she not want me to find out?


Bonus 2-8: Plotting

In this world, there are some things better left confidential.

In a small run-down complex at the north end of town, two men had scheduled a confidential meeting. The location was a single room, non-descript and poorly lit. Only a single hanging lightbulb provided illumination. Its windows were boarded up, and it had only one door. Its single feature was a desk, with two chairs on opposite sides. One of the men was already present, leaning against a wall, waiting patiently for his guest to arrive. He had contacted him with hopes that he would receive a response...

...and soon enough, the door opened, and the second man revealed himself. The first gave a nod of acknowledgement. "I am a little surprised you agreed to this, Tulu," said the older man, as he took a seat. He smiled, also very pleased that this had worked out.

"Aiden Kripps," the younger one coldly responded as he shut the door. He marched up to the desk, but chose to remain standing with crossed arms. He leered down at the man, who was dressed in a conspicuous dark trenchcoat and hat. "I haven't forgotten what you did. You have one minute to explain the purpose of your calling me here." Tulu reached for a holster on his side, where a knife lay sheathed. He turned, as so to make this threat clear. Yet the other man was not at all phased.

"Patience, now, Mr. Turner," he replied with smug superiority, wagging a finger in his face. "Remember, I could very easily report you to the police." Tulu growled, clenching his other fist. Mr. Kripps continued, "You are quite fortunate I am the only one who was able to put the pieces together."

Just this little out of his mouth, and Tulu had very nearly had enough. "Forty seconds."

Mr. Kripps chuckled, dishing out a playful comment, "You got quite the tongue. If I were in any less of a mood, I might have it cut out."

"I would do the same to you," was the deathly serious response. "Thirty seconds."

"You would do no such thing," he replied with a confident twinkle in his eye. Again, this received a growl of defeat. Both knew it unlikely he could get away with it. Mr. Kripps chuckled and motioned for his guest to sit down. He did so with some reluctance. The vice-principal of Rukh's University smirked, shaking his head. "But I digress. I wished to inform you of Rukh's position...and thank you."

Tulu raised an eyebrow. "You thank me for attacking the University - which I plan to do at more points in the future?" he asked matter-of-factly.

"Attack who you must," Mr. Kripps threw up his arms, uncaring of this threat. "You have already done justice to the old principal. Which I approve of, for his not giving me his position."

Tulu fired a glare his way. He had always disliked this man. He's shady. While cliche, it would not be unfair to compare Aiden Kripps to a plotting minister in a kingdom. A self-centered man driven by his own ambitions. The type of person who could easily fall in with one of the country's many twisted organizations, were he not so morally full of himself in a hypocritical way. And his scummy attitude as well...just taking his present actions was enough. Calling him here just to boast and stroke his own ego.

Continuing on, Rukh's vice-principal explained, "I have a certain problem," he marked with air quotes. "A problem that I have been thinking about how to take care since the year's start." He leaned on the desk, looking Tulu right in the eyes. He smiled devilishly, a grin that caused Tulu to involuntarily shudder. "The timing of your approach today has given me an idea of how to accomplish it, however."

He caught on instantly. "Attacking when the guards are occupied..." He had planned this for some time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to make the first strike. When all of the school's best trainers were away, and all of its staff were in a meeting or otherwise busy. To instill terror and doubt within people. To eventually punish those who wronged him. Ultimately exposing their misdeeds, against him and many others. Tulu grasped his head, shocked at how easily his plans were seen through, in spite of all the precautions he had taken. He thought they'd never trace it back to him.

With a cunning nod, Mr. Kripps stood and started for the door. "I will say this about you, Mr. Turner. Your patience is unrivaled. Few could last the three years you did. It is a shame you had to be expelled. Who knows what you could've brought to our school had you remained." He looked over his shoulder and tipped his hat. He wished to the younger man in a genuine tone, "Best of luck in your goals."

The former student of Rukh's sat alone for several moments after Mr. Kripps had departed. He finally sighed, cursing to himself, "I should've struck him down while I had the chance." Regardless of the high risk, the opportunity to deal with this man was right in front of him. A man who, despite his claims just now, was a catalyst in his expulsion from the University. A man he felt the world would be better off without. A man who in spite of his claims of having no qualms about his vengeance, he had difficulty trusting. And in his hesitation, he allowed the opportunity to permanently deal with him slip out of his fingers.

Tulu sighed. "Still. A student who he wants out of the school. Since the start of the year." Tulu considered this. He had to admit, this had piqued his curiosity. "Which one could he be referring to, I wonder...?"
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2-7 Review

Oooh, a new character (well, not new per se...). I can't believe he actually got a note from Cronus! I mean, really? Oh, hey! We get to meet Muriel for the first time really. Also, lol at his manner of speaking. "It is my duty as an associate of Cronus Apporon..." Can you say pretentiouuuuuus?! Oooh, Meganium and Venonat. :3 Yay! I think I'm more interested in the Korum character, tbh. Nice setup with the Nature Power bit. Hm. I'm torn between believing that Muriel had anything to do with Venonat pausing and it being an outside force. I'm leaning towards the latter at the moment. I'm liking Muriel more and more... Like I said via Skype, interesting that Elyna is apparently "looked" up to, given her... attitude (to put it kindly). FACEPLASTERTANGELAHELLO! Hm, a Venomoth as well? Interesting indeed. Ooooh, new mysterious character? There is no shortages of those!

2-8 Review

Mmm, sounds like this one is starting slow. Oh gawd. Crazy lady (as I shall now call Premala until further notice) is back. I have the weirdest feeling that time was moving differently in the shrine, given Premala's reaction. Also, Chatot "getting better." I'm postulating that Premala orchestrated that or due to the time passing differently, it healed on its own. So, given the forest + time theory I've got going, I'm gonna say that presence was Celebi or possibly Dialga... Let's go with Celebi. That's all I got for this chapter, it was nice though!
This was a kind of fast, kind of slow chapter. It was fast in the sense that it read very quickly which is a good thing cause it means it was interesting, but it was slow in the sense that nothing happened...literally nothing happened. Now I'm not saying this is a bad thing I mean, we got to know Premala more (I like her quirky personality) and we also got to see how weird Frytz for not enjoying the fact he has a cute girl hugging and kissing him at every second but aside from that.

It was a filler chapter (aside from a few things) but thing is that it didn't really have much to it, it was just Premala and Frytz walking and pondering on previous events and what could be the reason for it. Again not saying that it's a bad chapter, it certainly works as a bit of a break from previous events. And don't worry we all have chapters we don't enjoy but they're all part of the story so we love them anyways xD
2-7 & 2-8

Nice action chapter, loved the events of Fritz's run in with the bugs and the battle scene with Muriel. I also liked those small back and forth with David at the beginning with everyone, a good showing of your skills at writing character interactions. I don't think the next chapter was as terrible as you made it out to be, it was definitely a breather after the events of the previous chapters but I feel like it's just a bit too....hard to say? Uneventful for its own good, Premala certainly seems like a really weird character. She's hard to read or get a clear note on. I don't hate her character, I just don't really find myself heavily invested in her. Her behaviors just scream very odd in a hard to understand way.

Sorry about the extremely brief reviewing style, I'll keep it more detailed in the future.
AiedailEclipsed, Chapter 2-7:
Oooh, a new character (well, not new per se...). I can't believe he actually got a note from Cronus! I mean, really? Oh, hey! We get to meet Muriel for the first time really. Also, lol at his manner of speaking. "It is my duty as an associate of Cronus Apporon..." Can you say pretentiouuuuuus?!

He isn't actually a new character. He's the prep, just never prominently featured up until now.

I think I'm more interested in the Korum character, tbh.

And we'll be seeing more of him...soonish!

Nice setup with the Nature Power bit.

The "power" moves are among the most interesting in my fic. I threw it in, just because.

Hm. I'm torn between believing that Muriel had anything to do with Venonat pausing and it being an outside force. I'm leaning towards the latter at the moment. I'm liking Muriel more and more...

As 2-8 implies, it possibly was the latter.

Hm, a Venomoth as well? Interesting indeed.

It's actually Butterfree. It was a reference to the whole Venomoth/Butterfree mixup thing. I mean at first glance without prior knowledge, you might mix them up too.

AiedailEclipsed, Chapter 2-8:
I have the weirdest feeling that time was moving differently in the shrine, given Premala's reaction. Also, Chatot "getting better." I'm postulating that Premala orchestrated that or due to the time passing differently, it healed on its own. So, given the forest + time theory I've got going, I'm gonna say that presence was Celebi or possibly Dialga... Let's go with Celebi. That's all I got for this chapter, it was nice though!

Interesting theories...we shall see if they come to fruition!!

Stellar Flaze:
This was a kind of fast, kind of slow chapter. It was fast in the sense that it read very quickly which is a good thing cause it means it was interesting, but it was slow in the sense that nothing happened...literally nothing happened.

I guess its short length made it over with quicker, at least.

Now I'm not saying this is a bad thing I mean, we got to know Premala more (I like her quirky personality) and we also got to see how weird Frytz for not enjoying the fact he has a cute girl hugging and kissing him at every second but aside from that.

Eh. Premala's intended to be more sexy than cute, if that makes any sense.

It was a filler chapter (aside from a few things) but thing is that it didn't really have much to it, it was just Premala and Frytz walking and pondering on previous events and what could be the reason for it. Again not saying that it's a bad chapter, it certainly works as a bit of a break from previous events. And don't worry we all have chapters we don't enjoy but they're all part of the story so we love them anyways xD

Yeah, it really does bother me like that. I could've had more to it, but...it just would've downplayed everything else.

GotPika, Chapters 2-7 & 2-8
Nice action chapter, loved the events of Fritz's run in with the bugs and the battle scene with Muriel. I also liked those small back and forth with David at the beginning with everyone, a good showing of your skills at writing character interactions.


I don't think the next chapter was as terrible as you made it out to be, it was definitely a breather after the events of the previous chapters but I feel like it's just a bit too....hard to say? Uneventful for its own good,

The purpose of 2-8 was intended to be a breather, especially on Fritz' end. The reason why I said it was bad was because of said uneventfulness.

Premala certainly seems like a really weird character. She's hard to read or get a clear note on. I don't hate her character, I just don't really find myself heavily invested in her. Her behaviors just scream very odd in a hard to understand way.

Then I'm writing her as intended so far.

Sorry about the extremely brief reviewing style, I'll keep it more detailed in the future.

That's fine. You had short notice anyway. :p

Same deal as 2-4. This is the new biggest chapter, checking in at just over 50KB in Wordpad format. Unlike the other there is a place to split this one down the middle - technically. It's maybe better to do so, or may technically be best to split it elsewhere, but I'll just post it as-is since that last one was kinda short. So it balances out...somehow?

Get hype for a gamechanger of a chapter, though! In more ways than one!


Chapter 2-9: All in the Name of Love

The brilliance of today feels very much like my first day at Rukh's. Only a few cumulus clouds are decorating the skies, the sun is shining peacefully, it's nice and mild, and a light breeze is wafting. They differ in how the bustling rush of day one was switched with an air of peace. An improvement, I'd say.

"Ahh," I sighed with a mighty stretch. I felt a surge of positivity within, urging me to express my joy to the fullest extent. I decided to heed its advice, spinning about gallantly. "It's such a good day today!"

Thatcher paused in his tracks. "It's..." he started, almost as if he were being put off. I can understand why, at least. It's been so long since we've been able to relax, and seeing me as I was may have seemed initially foreign to his perception. Regardless, he was able to look beyond it. "It is a nice day...isn't it?" A slight beam formed.

"Yeah. Fritz." Well, even this is going to have difficulty befouling my mood. Reika was giving me a peculiar glare, partially that of a disappointed parent gazing at their child, partially that of a frustrated and impatient individual. "Glad you finally decided to spend time with us," she harshly remarked.

"Hey," I pointed out, "Aporon's been a slave-driver, and you've been held against your will by Mrs. Shugiri." I honestly wanted to be with my friends, even if it meant joining them in their punishment. I feel more at ease when they're around...perhaps that was part of the problem? Those two reasons were the main ones conspiring against us. I was invariably disrupted by him and his goons if I attempted to wait for them to be released. "And when you add in the rest-"

"It's been twelve days, Fritz!"

"Ten days," I corrected. The three of us we were last able to hang out together the day of their sentencing, and today's the 19th. "It could've been six or seven."

"Could have."

"Isn't that your fault, though?" If she had gone to the Big Contest with Thatcher and I, it would've.

"No, it's not!" she snapped. I guess...we could've made a more valiant effort to convince her. If Edgar weren't after me. If he wasn't though, who knows how that day could've gone? Reika turned away shaking her head upon noticing that I was in thought, then lowered her head. She removed a ball from her holster and examined it carefully. Affirmation.

"Oh, and here," she told me, hobbling over with the capsule in-hand. I instinctively held out my palm, and she firmly placed the white and teal sphere - just larger than a golf ball - in it. "Before you or I forget."

It took me a moment to realize what it was what she handed me. When I did, I smiled in appreciation. "I was wondering when Vespiquen would be better. Thank you, Reika." She seemed surprised at this...as if she weren't expecting thanks in response. Her agitation at my and Thatcher's inability to hang out as a group is subsiding...

"Anyway, I never forgot about you guys," I reaffirmed, finally causing the last shred of doubt in her mind to evaporate. I stared out into the distance. "I get the feeling things are finally going back to normal around here, if they haven't already. Don't worry."

We sat and basked in the cool air. Today has another thing in common with our first, I just noticed. We're all wearing the same clothes as we did then! I have on the same green and white T-shirt - thankfully less damp - and pair of jeans. Reika has her navy nylon shorts with a white stripe down the sides, along with that orange and white half-camp shirt. And Thatcher - besides his omnipresent black and teal jacket - wears a white undershirt with a cicada design, as well as his fancy pants featuring Caterpies and a different, red and white caterpillar Pokemon wrapped together like DNA. Neat coincidence.

"S-so it's mid-afternoon, and-"

He was cut off by an obnoxious growl. I turned to the source. "Reika, was that your stomach?"

My friend looked away in shame. "Skipping lunch is a bad idea. But I did it anyway," she cursed her own decision in an unintentionally humorous tone, which made me laugh.

"I did it too." It wasn't until a year ago that my body got used to non-linear meals, and if I hadn't, my gut may very well be joining her in cacophonous melody. Not to say I'm not hungry too; luckily our problem is easily remedied. I grinned to our other friend. "Let's grab some sandwiches, Thatcher."

"I...um..." he stammered, ashamed to admit something. "I'm out of them."

"We had the last two yesterday."

I blinked. I gazed at one of the campus' older-looking buildings, just before the gates on the left (from our point of view). I've been there before, generally on tasks from Aporon and his friends to serve as delivery boy. But my friends and I haven't as a group, and to my knowledge, they haven't altogether. Aside from heading out, it's our only choice for nourishment at the moment. "Guess we're going to the cafeteria, then."


With a beige and cream tile pattern and patchwork white walls, the sponsored locale where students at Rukh's are served complimentary meals is somewhat distinct. The most defining feature of this place is its restaurant feel. Well, to be more specific, it feels like that for me because the tables are stationary, as well as some of the seats. There's a few folding variants available at the sides and extra space to set them up, sure, but who wants to use those?

Now, when I went before, I didn't have to pay any money from my pocket. When I asked why, I was told that meals are covered as part of the tuition fees, regardless of whether or not one actually eats there. Probably the Dean's work. My friends were surprised at this fact; again to my knowledge though, this is the first time they've stepped inside, let alone ate food from here.

"No lineup?" questioned Reika. Speaking of actually eating here.

"Must be a pretty slow day."

"It must be. There's so few people here." I estimate there's around sixteen to eighteen hanging about. It's quiet as a consequence...but perhaps that is also in relation to the general etiquette of this social group.

My friends seemed oddly fascinated by the cafeteria, all but confirming my suspicions they haven't been in here before. Our pace was slow as they looked about in intrigue. I'd like to admit I did the same thing when I walked in. Still, my friends' curiosity isn't bothering me.

"Damn," cursed Reika. "What's with the lighting?"

Something I've been wondering myself. "Last time I was in here it wasn't like this." It's like a bunch of the florescent tubes just decided to up and fail at once, and thanks to the limited number of windows, the illumination here is somewhat lacking. Due to a concentration around the counter, it's also difficult to read the day's menu from afar. "Maybe they're fixing it.."

"I hope they're fixing it!"

That conversation had delayed our progress for a moment. A group of friends at a nearby table are giving us a funny look, unnerving Thatcher. "W-well...let's go," he said, urging us to start moving again.

The counter in the back takes up about a third of the wall. There's room for more than one person to take orders, though due to the circumstances, there's only one tall individual on-duty today. Thanks to the lighting issues, the aproned fellow stands shrouded in the shadows. Still, his expression is quite jovial. In fact, his eyes lit up in friendly delight as the three of us stood before him.

"Son!" he what? "It's good to see you!"


"Mr. Li?!"

Thatcher's dad is here?! I didn't see him before. When did he get here?

"Reika, it's been so long," he greeted my other friend. Reika's shock isn't as great as Thatcher's, but she seems very startled all the same. Mr. Li continued, "You've gotten taller the last three years, I see!" causing her to look down at her feet and crutch in a weird way.

"Father, wait!" Thatcher cried, all but frothing in delirium. He was gripping his skull with contorted fingers and vibrating palms. "What are you doing here?"

"This is my new job. I now-"

"N-no! I...I mean...why here? What are you...why are you working...why here?"

Mr. Li sighed. A pause. Allowing me to gather my own thoughts from that twenty second bout of madness. The resemblance between the two is as clear as a hot summer day. They possess the same finely combed black hair, both wear glasses, and though Thatcher's eyes are a tinted slate blue-ish gray and lined with a yellow ring, his dad's tan eyes otherwise look much the same. Father and son do differ in height and build - the former is about 20cm taller, and is better toned. He also...I dunno if it means anything, but he just has the faint texture of a wanderer?

He flinched vertically. Realizing the presence of the counter when trying to get nearer to his son's level? "Well son," he began to explain, "Tuition fees cost a lot of money. Even between our savings and the money we received, it still wasn't quite enough to send you anywhere."

"I...I can't believe this. But...but then how..."

"Your mother and I knew you really wanted to get into Pokémon. We all knew that a school would be the best option," Mr. Li said, as if reminiscing about an earlier, more pleasant time. "We got lucky, to be frank with you. A landscape developer I know told me about this place. A good friend of the Dean, and owed a favor by him. He agreed to let you in at a lower rate. But the school did ask for one thing."

"Is that why you're here, Mr. Li?" Reika inquisitively asked. It was with a politeness I wasn't used to from my chubby friend, making me doubt it was her for a second. Her leaning forward in worried interest didn't help that.

His facial expression provided additional affirmation, "Yes, Reika. They wanted me to come work as head of the cafeteria." The three of us were standing in awe, although my own could be considered more neutral. "The Dean, Mr. Finkerton, had heard all about me. He wanted me to come on as employee to attract business. I was afraid that if I said no, he would rescind his offer. I was given a month to settle my other accounts."

Maybe. Anything could be possible with Dean Howard Finkerton. I can...see his logic, I suppose. With a small sigh, he added, "At least, it's a good paying job."


"Y-you...why...you didn't...you didn't have..."

"I wanted to, son." Mr. Li elaborated, radiating an inner peace. "It isn't that big a deal to me, and it makes you happy."

Reika leaned over to me. Again, this felt so out-of-character for her to cautiously whisper into my ear, "I can't believe this..."

"Father..." Thatcher trembled.

A moment of silence drew over following this. The same people who overheard our conversation on the state of the building...and actually, everyone in the cafeteria, had halted their own talks and eating to stare at the incident. No one but me seemed to notice the gawking, and if they did, did not seem to mind or care. No one but me seems to be in the state of mind to break it.

"So!" Or not. Mr. Li cast off his sorrows and returned to the chipper attitude he had exuded prior to all this. Reika and Thatcher nearly leaped out of their skin. "What can I get you?"

"W-w-w-well..." Thatcher tried to say, again holding his head. Though in a darkened room, the beads of sweat were like a parade on his cheeks. "The...we're here...because..."

"It's all right, son," his father soothed. "I can already tell by the look on your face what you're thinking."

"Y-you...you can?!" Thatcher took this worse than anything I've seen...well, ever, besides Maribel Capdevila's defeat at the hands of her hated rival. Hands still locked, he twisted his elbows to try to shield himself with them. He tensed up, as if he were waiting for the trap to open beneath him.


The reaction at the transparent bag offered was almost comical. Thatcher momentarily forgot his inhibitions to stand in shock and relief, arms and fingers sort of halfway between slack and their prior panicked position. "Here you go. Some more sandwiches for you and your friends."

A pause. I don't know how to say this any other way, except my friend has forgotten anything from language to basic motor skills. It was Reika who bailed him out, taking the somewhat large bag from her friend's dad.

"Feel free to call or drop by here any time if you want something else!"

Thatcher replied with a snivel. "O-okay. If...if you say so...father..."

"Thanks, Mr. Li." Reika gave a wave, juggling sincerity and concern.

I...am completely confused. I followed along as you noticed. Enlightenment about the history between my friends only served to raise more questions than answers.

"Fritz, was it?" I was about to set off to follow, but was called back. I paced a small circle to stand before him again, wondering what it could be for. "Fritz Westmyn?"


"Thomas Li." He extended his hand, this time without a bag in it. I gave him my own, and though his grip was slack, shook on our formal introduction. Once the passive observer, I was now the focus of his attention.

"Thank you for looking out for Thatcher," he said with sincerity. "He's never had someone like you in his life that he could look up to."

I kept a polite silence, absorbing this information. I never realized...that might be the case until now. There's Maribel Capdevila, but she's more an idol. She's not someone who could be a presence in his life. I knew he might view me as someone to look up to. But I never thought I'd be the only one.

Bravado fading as they sulked out of sight, Thomas let out a deep sigh. "I do what I can for my son. Like this, and making sure Reika was with him here. But I regret I wasn't able to do more to help him. He's had very little opportunity between my work as a traveling chef, Tia's work as a computer technician, and the illness."


"Oh. Never mind." He snapped up and backpedaled. "Please don't bring it up to him, okay?"

"If you say so..."

I might not bring it up to him, but now he's got me wondering. I should hustle out and join them though, just so they don't think much of my delay.

An illness that Thatcher had. Hmm.



That was the first thing my senses detected on opening the door outside. What were once soothing rays to my friends are now a harsh, unrelenting shine. It's less noticeable for Reika given Thatcher's obvious and apparent despair, but she looks just as helpless as him.

"You...you g-got to tr-travel...the world. Why?" Thatcher sniveled, eyes welled up. "Wh-why w-would you...give that up? Why...?"

Reika held her mouth open, the only thing managing to escape being air. Even as she approached, her whispers, "I've never seen Thatcher like this before. Ever," could be debated more as sorrowed breath. "I'm really worried, Fritz."

"I'm sure he'll pull through." If he made it through what I saw last weekend, he'll live through this. If I've inferred any tiny detail about him since meeting him, it's that he doesn't let things keep him down. "But there's got to be a way to cheer him up."

Let's think here. This isn't nearly at the level of the breakdown he had when Maribel lost. Still, at the same, it feels...a little more fundamentally deep. I'm hoping that my initial instinct is right, and this won't remain as a dark cloud hovering over his head. He hasn't let results of said contest bother him...wait, that could work.

"Hey, I got an idea."

Reika leaned forward in interest. "What?"

"Let's go take him to see a Pokemon Contest." I'll admit, it isn't the most innovative solution. It's so simple, it's a little stupid. If not that, it's certainly foolish to suggest it to someone who hates them.

"That would be for the best, wouldn't it?" She admitted this without any sort of pain or remorse. She twirled her ponytail a little. "I can't think of anything else. Can you?"

"No," I shook my head. Maybe there is something more, but it's better to strike when the iron is hot. "The least we can do is support him by offering." The worst that can happen is that he says he doesn't feel like it.

Reika closed her eyes in serenity. "Hey...Thatcher..."


What? Oh. With a gesture of the hand, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed individual in swank clothing drew near. His blemish protection glistened in the sun's light.

"Who're you?" Reika asked. She tried to demand it, her mood not shifting as fast as she might like.

"One of Aporon's goons," I explained to her. I rustled my hair...besides Edgar the one time, the meetings between my friends and harassers have been nonexistent. "What do you want, David?"

"Nothing," the prep plainly stated. "But you had better come see this." He has a peculiar stoicness in his visage. A disturbing blend of association, anger, scorn, and indifference. "It is not for anyone's sake but your own."

"For his own sake?" Reika yelled. There it is, that didn't take long. She clamped her crutch in a deathgrip and made a fist with her free hand. "What's that supposed to mean?"

That's what I'm wondering. Maintaining my cool, I thought aloud, "What could be that important?"

"Hmph." Not going to give me an answer. He's just going to scoff like he usually does. He may not be as bad a person as I initially thought, but this quirk I could do without. The prep said, "It's better that you see with your own eyes." Pft.

"F-f-fa-Fritz." Thatcher was paying attention? His wallowing gave way to curiousity for my circumstances. He was still sobbing a bit as he pondered, "What...what could be...?"

"I don't know," I told him, "But I don't like how serious he sounds."

With David leading the way, the four of us began to march. Reika was struggling to retain pace on her crutch. Actually, screw it. I'm tired of this. "Can you tell me what it is and what we are doing, for once?"

"The battlegrounds," David informed, not acknowledging my frustrated tone for better or worse. "I would elaborate further, but by the time I finish the explanation, we will already have arrived. As we have just now."

Here we are. I have never seen so many people here to watch...what? It's not a battle...a Pokemon battle at least. Several familiar faces are among the crowd, including Aporon, Muriel, Teiko, Teikō, Cinque, Carlie, Andrew, Varick McGrody, and the guy who wanted me to go to the greenhouse. Most of all is Premala, having stepped forth...no really, forget that. What?

Thatcher's mouth hung slightly ajar at the spectacle. "Is...is that...?"

"What's going on here?" I demanded. "What's Phoebe doing?"

David snorted. With pure venom, he explained, "My thick-skulled brother went beyond too far with his actions."

Wait, "Edgar's your brother?"

"It is difficult to believe, but it is the truth. He is my full brother." I honestly never would've guessed they were related, let alone by full blood. A fact that seems to irritate this haughty prep, too. They look and act nothing alike. "Do you recall the little joke we made last Saturday? He used her adverse reaction towards that prospect as a means of insult."

"He's insulting her for making out with someone she hardly knows in front of four other people? What the hell kind of logic is that?"

"Inelegantly worded, but asking precisely what I did. Nevertheless, it sent her over the edge."

"What in the fuck?" Reika exclaimed.

"You see?" I yelled at his ugly face, "You see what your jackass 'training' has done?"

Remaining cool, David responded, "Edgar has been read the riot act, if that changes anything. There are lines to be drawn, and he overstepped those boundaries." Just the riot act? Ugh, that really doesn't mean much. He gazed out at the scene with regret. "Thus far, she has expressed her distaste towards us for treating her as we did, yourself and her sister for not being there for her, and everyone else on campus for not stepping in."

"But then why is she going after Premala?" Of all people, I don't know why someone who she's never interacted with - to my knowledge - could be a target of delirious wrath.

"I am uncertain of the specifics on that one," a just as confounded as I am David said. "It might be best to ask her yourself."

Is that really a good idea? God. But I guess there's nothing else I can really do. If she is pissed off, she's going to come confront me sooner or later. And waiting may only make it worse. May as well try to get it out of the way now...entailing walking right in there...and getting it done...just like this...

"Um...hey," I awkwardly greeted.

"You!!" The expected result. Screw it. Let's cut right to the chase.

"Phoebe, what's wrong?" I asked, trying my best to show concern. Well, I mean, more concern.

"Everything!! No thanks to you!!" she cried, pulling harshly on her headwrap. "I thought we were going to be friends! Best friends! But you weren't there for me when I needed you!!"

"It's a difficult situation to handle," I interrupted her rant. She at least isn't too far out of it to give an ear to my reason. "I can't do everything, and I can't be everywhere." I paused to let this hang over her...it seems to be working, because she isn't angrily reacting. I barely noticed Premala smiling to me in approval, but paid it little heed. "Just because one retarded jackass says stuff because you didn't want to kiss me doesn't make it true and doesn't mean anyone else buys his bullshit."

"I...wouldn't have minded!" What in the-what? "Not in front of them...but I did like you! You...you didn't even give me a chance though! You didn't even want to get to know me..."

"That's not true."

"It is..." Her hands balled into fists, barely containing tears. Sorrow. It's progress, at least. "And then...SHE comes in!!"

Oh, never mind. Phoebe pointed with such object fervor that it felt like she was trying to project a blast of wind her adversary's way. "Is that what this is about?" I turned to Premala in annoyance. "What've you been telling her? Telling everyone?"

The robed girl shook her head. "I have told them nothing," she said. "People tend to judge with their eyes and not with their mind."

Ugh, too true. But we need to clear this up. If not for her, then for me. "Phoebe, there's nothing going on-"

"Stop lying! I know you kissed her and liked it!" For god's sake, really? A seething, but ponderous Phoebe strutted forth with fervor. "You! You think you're better than everyone else! Well, you're not!" Premala remained unflinching. She...never really struck me as the egotistical type. Again, she pointed right at Premala. "I challenge you!! To see who's better for Fritz!"


"If you will it. I accept."

"WHAT???" What the fuck?! "H-h-hold on. Y-you're not ACTUALLY going to-"

Premala grabbed me by my shoulders - firmly but gently. She flashed a soft smile. "Do you trust me?"

"To tell you the truth...no."

"Mm." You know what they say about honesty. Premala nodded. "I understand. Frisco. I will show you that you can."

That's it? I'm supposed to just take her word and have done with it? What the hell? I stomped over to my friends and David. Not gonna lie. I'm in a hysteria quite similar to Phoebe's.

"Ugh!! This is ridiculous. This...this is insane! What did I do to deserve this?!"

Reika rolled her eyes. "Fritz, I warned you! You brought this all on yourself!"

"No!" I protested. "It's not my fault!"

"Yes. None of the fault here lies with you." Wait, David is...defending me? Did I walk out of the cafeteria into some alternate universe? I'm confused. "Aporon chose you for the tournament not to get back at you for anything, but to secure his victory. All this we have been putting you through was simply a test."

"A test?"

He blinked. "I've said too much already. You'll find out soon enough." Guess that slipped out. "Anyway, when that approach failed to fulfill the double purpose of spurring you on, we hoped you two would become good friends. With our duress providing extra motivation for unity." David went on to stare out into the space beyond the two people waiting to square off, as a few people stepped in to make the preparations. "It may have panned out. But Edgar ruined any chance of that happening. This incident is cause of he alone. Phoebe's reaction could not be helped."

"It could've been helped if you stopped him!" I shouted.

He countered quickly, "We would have done so if we were there to witness the incident."

"You...you what?" He opened his mouth- "Oh, forget it. Never mind. God..."

...damn it. Just when things were looking up, this happens.

"Well...I guess there's no getting out of this," I grumbled. God. Wish I could just ignore this and walk away. But I may as well find out what the more desirable of the two - and I use that term loosely - comes through. I walked up a few feet from her, "So, what are you going to do?"

"I will be using my Spoink. My Leafeon. And my Tropius," the mysterious girl told me. "We'll see how things turn out."

"You're...actually battling her?" And two grass, and nothing really in mind? "That's really not helping my tensions, you know."

She smiled at me. "Frisco. Relax. Everything will be fine." She walked towards me. I took some steps back, but she accelerated enough to touch foreheads.

"I promise you."

She'd better be right. I stepped back and stood by myself close to the action, a side view from the center. Premala turned back to Phoebe, one of her Pokemon resting in her hand. The way they sent them out contrasted - Phoebe violently threw her capsule onto the ground, whereas Premala - I'd say shyly but she's anything but - opened hers up manually.

With a roar, a furry fulvous otter emerged. Tribal-markings line its face, including a slice above its eyes and black stripes over its face. Its front side from its neck to its belly is a lighter tone, though with two spots outside its gut. The creature's stubby arms - barely reaching out from the tube resting on its shoulders and just wedged below its two pirouetting tails - have dull dorsals on their back sides. Phoebe's Floatzel...

Premala's Pokemon is far simpler to describe. It's like a taller, more slender Eevee, except its tail is like a crinkled leaf, its ears are like crinkled leaves, it has a cowlick like a crinkled leaf...a few crinkled leaves are even sticking out of its body for good measure.

"No, no, wait! Not that one!"

Phoebe reflexively recalled Floatzel and sent out a different Pokemon simultaneously. This tiny blue arachnid was far less intimidating. It has two round orbs with pointy nails sticking out the side of its face - slightly sharper than the ones beside its sneering jaw. Its tail is comprised of several flattened spheres with demon-like horns jutting out. Legs are kind of tiny, though...and the turquoise mask it wears across its forehead is fairly absurd. How does it see out of that with those tiny eyes?

Premala seems to have no problem with this abrupt switch. "Are you ready?" she calmly asked.

"You bet I am!" Phoebe declared. "Skorupi, Poison Sting!"

Raising its tail high, the bug scuttled forward with intent to jab it into its foe. Leafeon deftly dodged and...no, that's actually it. It just dodged.

And that took Phoebe out of things. She paused in place. So did her Pokemon. And um, everyone else, except for Premala and her Pokemon. She simply smiled a little cheekily, and I think her Pokemon did as well.

"Poison Sting again!" Phoebe said, with a little less gusto. Again, this was met with a simple dodge and no follow-up attack. This elicited a more immediate and emotional reaction. "ARGH!!! What do you think you're doing?! That's not funny! Skorupi, stop it with Scary Face, and Poison Sting!"

Skorupi narrowed its mask whilst snarling, and went in for a third go. But Leafeon was not at all deterred by this glare, and simply made a third dodge. Premala nodded in acknowledgement.

"Please..." she softly spoke, "Magical Leaf."

With a serene wobble, the attack loosed from the Pokemon and quickly homed in on their target. The glowing folioles - already glancing in nature - did very little to affect their target.

"What was that all about?" Phoebe asked, trying to exude her rage, but natural curiousity taking precedence. She quietly commented to herself, "That didn't affect Skorupi much."

Premala shook her head. Then smiled as if to say her next move would, "Grasswhistle."

And it did. Unlike the likes of Sing, Grasswhistle is closer to Supersonic in how it's out of the range of human hearing. It's becalming to those that do hear it, to the point of where it can induce sleep. And Skorupi appears to be one of those species affected, as it slumped to the ground peacefully. I would say Premala then stared off into space, but her eyes were closed.

"WE'RE NOT PLAYING SLEEP IS KNOCK OUT!!" screamed Phoebe. "NOBODY EVER DOES!!" True enough. Everyone who does play like that quickly changes their mind when they meet the likes of my Tangela.

"I see." Premala nodded. "Then, Leafeon. Aromatherapy."

Seeing a Grass-type Pokemon release powder isn't anything unique to me especially with my Tangela, but...wait, what did she just-?

"What do you think you're doing?!" I demanded. Waking up her opponent? Her response was a quick smile.

"It is okay."

I don't understand her at all. The radiant dust washed over Skorupi. The scorpion twitched upon catching scent of the fragrance, before hobbling to its feet - a little groggy, but otherwise normal. But really, this isn't overconfidence. What's she up to?

Phoebe took it as an insult. "Don't underestimate us! Skorupi, SWALLOWCUTTER!!"

That's...reason enough!? Swallowcutter is a bit of a weird - and advanced - Flying move. The user tries to confound the target with speed, followed by slashing. It's not unavoidable by an attentive and/or quick target, but it's tough. Leafeon...seems to be neither. Ow. Skorupi's approach was a little slow, but once it was there, it quickly whipped its tail around at blinding speeds. The only sign that it hit was Leafeon going stumbling back.

"We're hitting that Poison Sting!!" Phoebe yelled, and with its opponent still reeling, the little crawler did. The injection was a little sloppy, but it got the job done. And Premala, is...smiling right now?

It hit me just before it happened. The sun is glistening high above the battlefield, nary a cloud to obstruct it. Though Leafeon was momentarily sated by the toxins entering its system, Leaf Guard kicked in. A green aura, much like the photosynthetic power of an Energy Ball, surrounded the wound. When it faded a few seconds after, it was like it wasn't even there.

"Huh!?" Phoebe was dumbfounded by this development. So much so that she didn't notice Premala gesture.

In response, Leafeon dashed toward its opponent at a high velocity, and with the distance (or lack thereof) between them gave no time to react. It was a gentle, but forceful impact. Premala said after a moment's hesitation, "...Hidden Power." This manifested as a ring of colorless spheres which surrounded the small fox. They were freed at the same moment after a brief charge, remaining in perfect formation as they struck their target. Which seems to have done a lot of damage...

"No..." Phoebe protested, as her Pokemon struggled to remain up. "It's not over yet! It can't be! Poison Fang!!"

Premala sighed sadly. "Leafeon, Energy Ball. Okay?" Her Pokemon carried out the order, halting its foe's advance en route. Phoebe started to panic over this development.

"Dig...you have to retreat Skorupi!!"

Leafeon didn't let them get that chance. Another Quick Attack, and that was all it took. Skorupi slumped over for the second time in the battle, but this time, for losing the will to go on.

"That's..." a startled Phoebe began, "How did you do that?" I swear she sniveled a little while bringing Skorupi back, mumbling an apology under her breath.

Her next course of action was to send Floatzel out again. "It's okay. You may have the type advantage, but I can still hit you hard! Floatzel, Razor Wind!"

The brown mammal began to twirl its two tails like a helicopter. Wonder if it could take off into the air with those. Anyway, the attack began as a mere breeze, but some distance away became a speedy dust devil. Leafeon attempted to evade this, but was barely caught by the move. It disappeared with a puff, leaving only a few scratches on the verdant fox. Phoebe cheered.

"Yes! Now, hit it with Aqua Jet, then Ice Fang!"

Floatzel...must've been getting some training, because it's a bit faster than when I fought alongside it. A recovering Leafeon had no time to react to this rush, or Floatzel chomping into its side. Condensing air from its frozen incisors leaked from the weasel's maw. As it was struggling to get up...

"Ice Fang again!"

Premala groaned a little. "Leafeon, protect yourself with Magical Leaf." Out came the shimmering petals, but this time...they encircled Leafeon instead? Whoa.

"No, no! Stop, Floatzel! Stop!" Between its trainer's frantic shout and its own reaction, Floatzel slammed on the breaks just in time. It prevented itself from running smack into the attack, but couldn't respond to it being fired its way right after. Unlike Skorupi, it took this attack way worse. Premala silently looked to Leafeon, which went on to prep for the move again.

"Agility to get away!" Phoebe shouted, and with that her Floatzel's footspeed increased dramatically. It was enough to get away from a second volley of the attack, which summarily failed to keep track of its target, faltering out pitifully. It's a helpful move and aimable unlike say, Quick Attack. But it does wear on the user if used excessively. "So now...Razor Wind a second time!"

Another bout of the attack. Premala and Leafeon, however, don't seem to be willing to throw in the towel. The fox scampered just out of range of the wild whirlwind, before Premala said, "Try Energy Ball." It hurled out a photosynthetic sphere which caught the weasel on the side, then...what what WHAT? After concentrating, it turned a flowing, glistening laser comprised of sparkling white energy on its foe. A few of the more astute people watching - including myself - gasped at this. Phoebe gasped when it hit her Pokemon and rendered the already tired-Pokemon unconscious.

I had to run up to her regarding this. "Fai-?! R..." I whispered to her, unable to say my words. I wasn't expecting it to have that of all things. I really...okay. Pokemon have a lot of types - over twenty in fact - even if part of the world turns a blind eye to some of them some of the time. And this one...forget it. I'll explain some other time whenever it's relevant.

"Yes," she confirmed, getting back to reality instead of my own musings. "It required much effort...but it was able to learn the move in the end."

A quivering Phoebe had dropped to her knees. She could hardly believe what was happening. She was as listless as her fainted Pokemon as she recalled it. The almost broken girl rasped, "It's...not...over...yet."

"It's three-to-one!!" some random person with good hearing yelled.


Even when facing an opponent in a match, Premala's demeanor was the same as always. "Phoebe..." she spoke, unbridled concern in her voice. I can sort of respect that, strange as it sounds.

"Shut up!!" But Phoebe took it another way. The delirious girl leaped up and ripped a sphere out, nearly tearing her strap in the process. In her eyes, I see complete hatred. "It's not over yet! I still have one left! Face my best and strongest Pokemon!! Incendooh!!"

Released from the capsule was a strange ursid Pokemon with a small grin and beady eyes. Much of its wildly ragged fur is a scarlet color, with a lighter patch around its midsection. By contrast, its limbs, ears, and part of its backside are an umber tone. On its two legs, it's about two and two-thirds feet tall. And I don't know what it is about it, but it almost looks...forgotten? Huh?


"Uh-oh?" I barely held back the urge to scream aloud. "What the hell does 'uh-oh' mean?!" Isn't stopping me from screaming in a whisper, though.

Premala stared at it for a moment. "As part of my training..." She paused momentarily. "...that is, my travels, I studied a number of fauna and habitats across this country." The two of us examined the red bear carefully. If Phoebe didn't let it out of its ball just now, it could be considered an unreleased Pokemon. Good lord, what the hell was that, Fritz? Premala continued, "However, I am unfamiliar with this one."

"Hmm..." I can fix that. "Let me scan it for you."

I retrieved my scanning device from my back pocket. If it were anyone else, I'd be hesitant. But here, I'm not really worried about Premala potentially recognizing it. To be honest, I think she already knows where I'm from. I just get the feeling. I never did tell too many people my given name, so...

Fire Type

Nicknamed the Flame Bear. Much of the hair fibres covering this Pokémon are a shade of red: auburn and brick among the two most common singular colors. The darker the hair, the more resilient the Pokémon is to its own flame. Black patches are indicative of one of two things: singed hair, or flame-retardant patches. The natural points for the latter include the hands, the feet, the tips of its ears, and the spiked hair on its back. Tiny pores on these body parts are where it expels the fire it generates. They can grow up to 1.0m, and have a mass of around 15kg.

It is one of the 27 official starter Pokémon of Japan. As with most of them, due to monopolization by the Japanese government, Incendoohs are uncommon in the wild. These Pokémon are curious, and fascinated with their own fire. A blast of it is as much a show of affection as it is an attack, although this is a trait that breeders have attempted to suppress. Wild Incendoohs especially are captivated by the glow of flame in darkness, and have been known to wander near campfires.

Unlike their evolutionary relatives, Incendooh strongly prefer to attack with their limbs, rather than their flame. It is theorized that this is a behavioral adaptation, so that sparring comrades would not burn one another.

Premala expressed appreciation. "I see," she said. "Thank you. I feel a little more confident now."

"I don't know," I said in response. "It is a Fire type."

"I will be fine."

I stepped back again, though am closer to the side I guess I'm backing. The two Pokemon had begun to circle one another in lieu of commands. Despite her reassurances, there does seem to be a solemn look in Premala's eye. Her Pokemon is keeping a bright face, but its subtle motions are a hint to its condition. Phoebe is remaining defiant to the adversity, whereas her battler appears a little antsy.

It doesn't have to wait much longer though, as Phoebe clenched a fist in determination. "Incendooh, Defense Curl and Fire Ball!" she ordered.

The small bear curled up, shrouding itself in flames. It bounced up and made a gravity-defying tackle aimed directly at Leafeon. Reminds me of Flame Wheel and Swift. Never seen that before, but it's definitely not innovated by her. The toll of battle already wearing on the fox, it took the attack dead-on. And then...

"Incendooh, THRASH!!"

Some people might think something just under three feet - even if it is a bear - might not be able to hit hard. But this little monster swung its body out with enough force to leave no question to its power. The last shred of doubt surely evaporated when it smacked Leafeon halfway across the field, instantly putting its lights out.

Premala took this as if it were an inevitability, approaching her downed friend calmly and squatting beside it. "Thank you Leafeon, for a job well done." she said, stroking the battered Pokemon soothingly. I swear it looked up at her for a moment before she recalled it. Phoebe adjusted her headwrap, a bit of security entering her visage. Sparks are coming out of her bear's body...it didn't seem impatient once the matchup started, but the wait then and now seems to be driving it up the wall. And I don't know if Premala taking her time is purposeful...

...nah, probably not.

A bit of thought did go into her next selection...for some reason. If it wasn't for the tiny little nubs to its sides, one could easily (if gruesomely) say this is a severed head of a boar. If one examined close, its ears could be spotted pinching the small crystal between themselves. The elasticity of its coiled tail is blatant; this little guy (gal?) called Spoink had difficulty getting still at first, though it did eventually do so. You know. Because if it couldn't stop moving, that would be stupid on numerous levels.

"Hehe!" Phoebe chuckled. Almost giggled. Weird to see her happy all of a sudden. "Here's a surprise for you! Incendooh, Pin Missile!"

Turning its back on its foe, the messy hair on the ursid's back began to stand on end. Tensing up or gathering power much like my Nidorina when it uses Poison Sting, it expelled several spine-like projectiles at a high velocity towards Spoink.

They failed to notice that Spoink had been gradually pulling itself down. Right before it was hit, Premala's Pokemon released the tension, rocketing itself high into the air. What's more, it's about to fall on Incendooh.

Phoebe wasn't taken aback at all at this development. "Avoid it, and hit it with a Fire Punch as it comes down!!" she fired off with poise.

The flame bear took two steps back, simultaneously getting out of the way of the high height stomp and getting into the wind-up position for the attack. Spoink naturally whiffed it's GOT SHOCK WAVE?!?!! It did not land from the Bounce plain and simple; instead, an expanding ring of electricity burst out along the ground upon impact. And much like anything that can't hide in the air, there was no dodging this. Phoebe's Pokemon managed to carry out its command a split-second before it got zapped.

Incendooh got the better of the trade, but the two Pokemon jumped back into action at the same time, trading a Headbutt and Zen Headbutt respectively. It was Spoink who got the better of this one.

"You're trying to take the fight up close?" Phoebe asked. "That's nice, but it's not going to work! Show them your Charm, Incendooh!"

After realization and a motion from Premala, Spoink's body begin to shimmer mysteriously, but it was too late. On catching sight of the sickeningly adorable display, the pig lowered its guard. Spoink did regain its composure shortly after the act had ended and a determined grin came over Incendooh, but its motions had far less vigor in them than prior.

"Good job. Now, Wild Charge!" Electrical energy crackling from its pores, the bear barreled forward right into a Psybeam. Guess they forgot that Psychic-types often carry special attacks as well. Phoebe began to panic again. The follow-up Power Gem from Spoink only nicked its foe as it rolled aside to avoid it, but still did damage.

Unfortunately, it was enough damage to cause a raging inferno to sweep over the bear's body.

All at once, all the joy in the world seemed to funnel into Phoebe. "All right, Blaze!!" she said with a leap and fist pimp. "Now Incendooh should be strong enough to knock out your Pokemon in one hit, hussy!!"

Premala folded her hands. "Skill Swap."

Before it could even register, two spheres barely on the spectrum wafted out of each Pokemon and into the other. I think after that, a surge of energy that's just off connected the two for a moment. I think that's how it works, and the Pokemon's motions said as such.

"Gah!! Did you honestly...teach it that...just for that?!"

I turned to her, wanting to know the very same question. She smiled and told me, "You know the answer already, do you not?" Well...that's true. A move like Skill Swap isn't something you use all the time, but it's good to have around. And you're thankful when you can use it. Still...wow. I was not expecting this. Even in higher levels of battling, this is rare. Who the hell is this girl?

"Fine!! It doesn't matter then! We're still going to beat you!" Phoebe pulled her headwrap, a tic I surmise from one of our training sessions that she does when ready to make a bold move. "Incendooh, HEAT WAVE!!"

Like that. Incendooh focused hard. It tensed every ounce of its frame to the absolute limit, quivering under the duress. It looked its foe dead in the eye, and with a roar...what in the hell? Is that steam? A massive cloud of steam? The flame bear's scream went shrill with panic and frustration, and it flailed around a little as the gas escaped its body.

"No!!" shouted Phoebe as her Pokemon nearly fell over in exhaustion, "That's all wrong!! But...that...also works!!"

Okay...this is the first time I've seen Heat Wave backfire like this...and judging from just about everyone else's looks and even Premala's, it's the first time they've all seen it too. An unpracticed or hard-to-use attack can go wrong...but something like this, what the hell?! How did that line up?! It's a rhetorical question, I know. What's important is the downwind is gently carrying the botched attack towards a terrified Spoink, and neither it or its trainer knows what to do.

"Tropius can still handle it, right?" It'll be awkward for all of us if she loses this. I don't know what that attack is going to do, but it can't be any good.

Premala ponderously nodded. "Tropius is among my most dependable friends. Perhaps the most. There is no doubt in my mind it would be able to."

"That's good." Now that made me breathe a loud sigh of relief. "You better be ready to do that."

Still having been thinking, something came to Premala at that moment. She flashed me a flirty grin. "I did not say it was forced, however." Turning to her Pokemon, she encouraged, "Spoink, this will be difficult, but please...Bounce as high as you can."

Is she actually going to...she is!! With far more power than before, up went the springy swine. Up, up, and over the scalding cloud! I've seen pigs fly before, but watching one falling with style is way cooler. Phoebe and Incendooh froze in fear.

"Dodge, In-Incend-...INCENDOOH!!!"

That was Phoebe's reaction, spouting an order too little too late, and cried out as her Pokemon was nailed. How much does that guy weigh? Unimportant, I guess. Because Spoink carried enough girth to instantly knock out the ursid when landing on it.

My teammate in the tournament again fell over in her mental state. She looks really distraught...she's on her hands and knees, like she wants to curl up and die. She missed recalling her defeated Pokemon three times, until getting it right the fourth time.


Uh? That was the rough verbalization of a cross between a wail of depression and cry of frustration. She scrambled to her feet and ran off crying...for a small-framed person, Phoebe has an amazing footspeed. An unlucky group of people just near the battlefield's exit got bowled over by the girl, who was barely slowed by this.


Premala sighed sadly. The sigh of a person who did something they had to do, despite not wanting to do so. The sigh of someone displeased with a particular outcome. She approached and stood before me. "Frisco," she almost apologized, before another sigh escaped her breath. She took her leave just as abruptly, albeit not with as much haste.

And that's that.

No one is doing anything, saying anything, or even sure what to think.

I'm just standing where I am. Everyone else is standing where they have been.

This awkward silence was...out of all things, broken up by Aporon. He smugly looked over to a concerned, but ultimately unimpressed Muriel. "I never thought your sister was as screwed up as you."

"You're the one who screwed up, Aporon!" she fired back. "If my sister hates Fritz, how are they going to be able to team together?"

Like a ton of bricks, it hit him. I hate to admit it, but as bad as these circumstances are for all parties involved, it was worth it to see his stunned expression. Completely priceless. The king of the school cut down to size. As the crowd began to disperse, I approached my mentor for the tournament. "She's right, you know."

"Look," he said, devoid of any of his usual bravado. David approached with a nod, my friends following behind. Returning the motion with a robotic wave, Aporon reassured, "I'll take care of it. Somehow..."

The two of them left while whispering to each other; I use that as a loose term. Aporon's stressed rasps probably could've been heard several meters away, and his body language was apparent for the whole world to perceive. That left my friends and I on our own.

Thatcher and I looked at each other. We synchronously sighed and lowered our heads. We were in the same boat for once...this day had gone from good to bad for us both in moments. I mean, first we find out Thatcher's father is working here for his son, and then this happens. As for Reika...I peeked over to her. She has know idea what to think or what to do anymore. I really don't blame her; the only thing I can think of doing is to pray nothing bad comes from any of this.
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Well...this chapter was clearly something now wasn't it?

I liked the chapter due to multiple reasons, one of them being just how chaotic it became. The chapter started out with a peaceful day for Fritz and the group...so of course it has to go to hell eventually, it's a rule of thumb. This is followed by that introduction of Thatcher's dad, working as a cook for the cafeteria. Now I tell you, it might be one of the most prestigious schools and everything but seeing your dad work in a cafeteria in order for him to pay your fee still falls heavy on someone and I wonder how poor Thatcher's going to deal with that.

Then came the thing I didn't see coming, honestly I didn't think this would happen to Phoebe and I felt really bad for her too considering I really really liked her, but I guess the good part about this is that in a way we saw a different side of her that we hadn't been able to see before...though it seems more...chaotic for lack of a better term. Also, interesting on how you used a fakemon, totally copying me there *shot* but I liked Incendooh and it seems like a fire starter I'll definitely want.

We also got to see Premala fight, and she has a very interesting fighting style too, kind of a peaceful style that relies on simple and more basic attacks but can grow tougher if need be, so it was nice to see that as well.

Now I just wonder how all this is going to come back to bite Fritz in the next chapter.
Heyo! Here's my post-awards review. Normally I'd write more, but I've been so busy lately that I'd never get around to a proper review, so here's more or less a copy/paste of my judging. I was more critical in judging than I normally am in reviews, so keep that in mind.

There definitely seems to be a big and interesting story going on, but to be honest, I find myself waiting for something to happen that I can easily connect with other story elements. Things seem to be coming together, though. I really like the world you've made, and the elements that separate it from canon are made really clear and expressed quite well.

As far as characters go... I don't know. Cronus is a great antagonist, and the odd supporting characters that pop up here and there are fun, but I'm not a huge fan of the main troupe. Thatcher is kind of interesting and Reika reminds me almost exactly of a girl I know IRL, but other than that I'm not terribly impressed. Their mysterious pasts come across a little forced, but maybe that'll be explained when they're actually revealed. As for Fritz, I feel like he's a little too... cool. He just seems to roll with stuff a lot. It's like he doesn't feel a ton of emotion. This doesn't make him terribly entertaining, but I like his personality anyway.

I'm not sure what to think about the whole present tense thing (especially since it varies), but I do love me some well done first-person. The description is good, but can get a little over the top when describing Pokemon. This is especially true when half of the time I still have no idea what kind of Pokemon Fritz is looking at even after a paragraph of details. Pretty solid, grammar and spelling-wise.

Like I said, I hope this doesn't come across as too harsh. If you have any questions or want examples, then just say the word. I should also probably mention that I've been reading for a while without saying anything, and also I haven't gotten to the latest chapter yet :p Looking forward to more.
An enjoyable new chapter, that I FINALLY have the free time to read through. I like how it started off as a good day for all parties and everything changed quickly, Thatcher's father working there is interesting. I have to wonder, does Thatcher's frustration come solely from his father working there to pay off his tuition? I know Thatcher seems to be really distraught about it, but if that's solely the reason it does seem a bit over-the-top to react in such a way. I guess he doesn't take embarrassment too well, does he? And that whole traveling the world and illness thing, it raises some questions that I expect to be answered in the future. Just standing by and waiting for em', naturally I have to say I enjoyed the confrontation between Phoebe and Premala. I wasn't very invested in either girl at first, because I found neither interesting but the fact they both have the hots for Fritz is something I actually didn't see coming. I thought Premala did perhaps, but Phoebe didn't strike me as having a thing for Fritz. Let alone to the point where they would both go at it to prove their worth to him.

I enjoyed the battles, I expected Phoebe to lose, she was a bit out of her mind at the moment and consumed her own frustration to the point where there's no way a win could have come her way imo. She was destined to lose that battle when it came right down to it, Premala's Eevee evolved into a Leafeon and we dive into her personality at bit. Her seemingly being a bit empathetic of Phoebe and even healing the sleeping Skorupi. Swallow Cutter seems to be Aerial Ace, correct? I know Aerial Ace's Japanese name is Swallow Cut so I was curious if that was your intent? Plus the lines about not missing seem to hint at it being as such. Premala even didn't have to utilize all three of her Pokemon and I loved her characterization. We saw more dimensions and sides to her character, it was entertaining and there was more to her overall in this chapter. She's calm and cool, very composed and confident in herself. Phoebe, she struck me as a shy wall flower before so this was a drastic personality shift.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter seriously now, so much going on. So many things going on at once with the tournament, distraught Phoebe, Premala, Thatcher, the rivals(Ina, Cronus, etc.) and it's quite something you've built on well.
Well, I'm back after a half-year from hell. That all said, this is half-good, half not-my-best-work due to rust. Since it was half-written at the time.

Stellar Flaze:
This is followed by that introduction of Thatcher's dad, working as a cook for the cafeteria. Now I tell you, it might be one of the most prestigious schools and everything but seeing your dad work in a cafeteria in order for him to pay your fee still falls heavy on someone and I wonder how poor Thatcher's going to deal with that.

Yeah. It'll definitely have an effect at him.

Then came the thing I didn't see coming, honestly I didn't think this would happen to Phoebe and I felt really bad for her too considering I really really liked her, but I guess the good part about this is that in a way we saw a different side of her that we hadn't been able to see before...though it seems more...chaotic for lack of a better term. Also, interesting on how you used a fakemon, totally copying me there *shot* but I liked Incendooh and it seems like a fire starter I'll definitely want.

Actually, it's not technically a fakemon, it's Honōguma - originally set to be the Fire starter of Gen 2 before being abandoned altogether. Even its moves I derived from Teddiursa and Cubchoo's (such as Charm and Thrash). Only thing that I made up is its name (Incendiary + Winnie-the-Pooh)

I flipped back and forth between making further reference than I did. "If Phoebe didn't let it out of its ball just now, it could be considered an unreleased Pokémon" was one such line, as was it being a starter.

We also got to see Premala fight, and she has a very interesting fighting style too, kind of a peaceful style that relies on simple and more basic attacks but can grow tougher if need be, so it was nice to see that as well.

Pretty much. I was trying to go for something that would really fit her personality.

Now I just wonder how all this is going to come back to bite Fritz in the next chapter.

You get to finally find out!! FINALLY

There definitely seems to be a big and interesting story going on, but to be honest, I find myself waiting for something to happen that I can easily connect with other story elements. Things seem to be coming together, though. I really like the world you've made, and the elements that separate it from canon are made really clear and expressed quite well.

Well, I haven't shown it much so far, but I know how to make shit get real..

Thatcher is kind of interesting and Reika reminds me almost exactly of a girl I know IRL, but other than that I'm not terribly impressed. Their mysterious pasts come across a little forced, but maybe that'll be explained when they're actually revealed.

You really have to focus in on the relationships between the characters to best appreciate them. At this point in time at least. This particularly applies to the main trio. Like, Thatcher looks up to Fritz, which the latter is actually pretty unfamiliar with on a personal level. Part of Reika's past will be revealed this chapter, and it'll be made clear why exactly she chose to be evasive on it. And part of Thatcher's was in 2-9.

Another thing about this fic is that there's a plethora of teeny-tiny little details you can gather - that was part of the Atlas before they killed that section. These include things you can spot about the characters, so if anything seems sudden or out-of-place, make of a note of it.

As for Fritz, I feel like he's a little too... cool. He just seems to roll with stuff a lot. It's like he doesn't feel a ton of emotion. This doesn't make him terribly entertaining, but I like his personality anyway.

Fritz is kind of a unique protagonist. It's notsomuch I'm trying to have him come across as emotionless, but moreso composed and clear-headed. He also has sort of a more neutral personality when it comes to observation, most of the time anyway. He does have his limits though, a good case being the first part of 2-6.

Premala though, on that note, she I am having to try to come across as not feeling a ton of emotion.

I'm not sure what to think about the whole present tense thing (especially since it varies), but I do love me some well done first-person. The description is good, but can get a little over the top when describing Pokemon. This is especially true when half of the time I still have no idea what kind of Pokemon Fritz is looking at even after a paragraph of details. Pretty solid, grammar and spelling-wise.

Yeah. There's a few huge paydays on the present-tense thing planned, if that means anything.

Like I said, I hope this doesn't come across as too harsh. If you have any questions or want examples, then just say the word. I should also probably mention that I've been reading for a while without saying anything, and also I haven't gotten to the latest chapter yet :p Looking forward to more.

I am interested in knowing some of the reasons as to why Aporon is such a good villain, for future reference.

Bubble Frog:
I have to wonder, does Thatcher's frustration come solely from his father working there to pay off his tuition? I know Thatcher seems to be really distraught about it, but if that's solely the reason it does seem a bit over-the-top to react in such a way. I guess he doesn't take embarrassment too well, does he? And that whole traveling the world and illness thing, it raises some questions that I expect to be answered in the future.

It will indeed. It's something I actually wasn't originally planning, but I decided it would work and create an interesting dynamic. And it partially keeps in my present-theme of defying academy fics' traditions, as the omnipresence of a character's parent(s) isn't something that's usually possible.

I have to say I enjoyed the confrontation between Phoebe and Premala. I wasn't very invested in either girl at first, because I found neither interesting but the fact they both have the hots for Fritz is something I actually didn't see coming. I thought Premala did perhaps, but Phoebe didn't strike me as having a thing for Fritz. Let alone to the point where they would both go at it to prove their worth to him.

Kissing him kind of out of nowhere pretty much qualifies as her having a thing for him, as well as much of 2-8. :p Phoebe was intended to be a bit more sudden, though the signs WERE there.

Premala's Eevee evolved into a Leafeon and we dive into her personality at bit. Her seemingly being a bit empathetic of Phoebe and even healing the sleeping Skorupi. Swallow Cutter seems to be Aerial Ace, correct? I know Aerial Ace's Japanese name is Swallow Cut so I was curious if that was your intent? Plus the lines about not missing seem to hint at it being as such.

Yeah. I exploded a few moves into two different moves. Aerial Ace is still out there, but it's more akin to Acrobatics. You'll see another example in this chapter.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter seriously now, so much going on. So many things going on at once with the tournament, distraught Phoebe, Premala, Thatcher, the rivals(Ina, Cronus, etc.) and it's quite something you've built on well.

Well, you can finally read it! Finally.


Chapter 2-10: The Ends and Means

The first morning class after that weekend looks to be an interesting one for me indeed. It would be the first time I, or perhaps most people would have seen Phoebe since the outburst. As I lean against this wall in solitude...nay, even as I was heading to Tactics class, I felt as though something was set to happen. We'll see now though if my instinct is correct, I guess, since Mr. Baiaz has stepped up to speak.

"Good morning, class." He's dressed as sharp as always, and has that confident tone in him. Well, I haven't really talked about class all that much, but James A. Baiaz often seems like he's playing everything by ear, despite his penchant for planning. It's uncommon, but not unknown for him to be serious as such. "I hope you've all been training hard for the tournament. Today will have very big ramifications for it."

Hushed chatter immediately started up. I haven't been keeping up with the rumor mill, so all I can really do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

"Things have been shaken up, so listen carefully." He paused, perhaps for dramatic effect? No, that's just stupid. "I will be blunt about this. The tournament will not be in a Multi Battle format. Today, each pair of trainees will battle each other. Only the winner will go on to participate in the tournament."


My instantaneous response was to storm over to Aporon, who was casually lounging a little ways away. He met my glare with an inquisitive smile.

"What the hell, man?! You did this, didn't you?"


Really?! "This...this is just...why? This is wrong...on many levels..."

"I know it is."

I mean...hold on, what? The honesty in his voice is disturbing. After what happened, he just sets things up to screw her further. But he's being honest, up front, and yet at the same time solemn.

"Just because I can flex my muscles like this doesn't mean I like to do it." Aporon elaborated, reading my confusion. He scanned the room, letting out a deep sigh. I scanned it as well, yet saw no sign of my former partner...or Muriel, come to think of it, anywhere. He shook his head. "I hate to say it...but Phoebe is just not salvageable at this point."

But. But he's right. I know he's right, but I don't know what I can say in response. But this is still wrong. "But...but what about Edgar?"

"Heh." Wha-!? Nearly leaped out of my skin at Lawrence's lechrous giggle. "Not hanging out with us anymore." I guess...indeed, only he, and David, who's currently sporting a frustrated guise, are accompanying him.

I attempted to speak up again, yet Aporon spoke first. "It can't be helped," he shook his head once morefs. "All there is to do is take her out, and we can put this behind us."

"But what if she beats me?"

Instantly regretted those words. It started as a snapping spin to face me, but gradually mutated into a full-on glare.

"That won't happen."


The Tactics Class has its own set of battling stalls comprising of a dozen small, enclosed arenas on the east side of the building. Small benches sit on the sidelines, but they're quite rudimentary otherwise. Not to understate their worth, of course; stylistically speaking they're far above the makeshift partitions outside (speaking of which, some participants were choosing to use those).

There's really not all that much to say about the place itself. The walls are almost entirely lined with black covering, a sort of protection from the scars of battle. The arenas themselves are actually about half as long as the ones outside. Never mind what I said before. While a bit cramped, it just looks manageable for anything that isn't like a Steelix, and there is, much like the main battlefield in this class, a generous amount of vertical space.

"So how is this going to work?" I finally asked. We'd been standing around for a while, not really doing much of anything. Granted, some of it was the wait, but regardless.

"Well," David began, "The teacher did not explicitly state how the battles shall be conducted. I suppose we could have any sort of battle we choose."

"How about two each, then?" Aporon proposed.

"Sure, as long as it's one at a time." Well, never mind what I said before on third thought; we probably COULD fit in four. But I don't feel like it between thinking up a strategy and what to do.

My mentor for the tournament nodded. "That sound okay to you?"

Phoebe is opposite me. I was wondering if she was actually going to show up, but she did. Unfortunately. Gone was the somewhat nervous, worried, quiet girl I had known. Absent is the neurotic, obsessive, desperate female. Here stands...I'm not sure what to call this. She's visibly forcing herself to look forward, that much I can tell you.

After a while, she produced a Poké Ball and replied, "I don't care. Let's just do this."

She summarily sent out what, if I am not mistaken, is a walking flower? Okay? It really doesn't look very threatening, but on the other hand, looks can be deceiving. With a slap-happy smile on its patchwork face, you know it knows no fear. Or perhaps ignorance is bliss. Well, I guess I'll match it with my own Grass type. Let's go.

The two Pokémon sized each other up. Without orders, the sunflower took to flexing. Tangela just stared back. Neither Phoebe nor myself seem comfortable about this.

Lawrence suddenly spoke up. "Come on!! One of you make the first move! Then get to some, heh, action!!"

The first move...hm. Well, maybe I didn't think this all the way through. This is a plant I'm facing, so like many non-biological things, powder isn't going to do me much good. There's something else I can exploit, but it's a bit brutal. More than I'd like to do here.

"P-Petal Blizzard...Sunflora..."

"Tangela, LEAF STORM!!"

I had to abruptly respond to Phoebe's unenthusiastic command. The two tempests of florets and folioles respectively emerged from their wielders and were sent on a collision course. My own Pokémon's attack was far stronger, though, forcing its way through the buds it met. A respectable number of them got through to Tangela regardless, but Sunflora took nearly the full force of our attack. With an instinctive signal, Tangela reached out and bound its foe.

"Slam it! Slam it baby!! YEAH!!!!"

Ignoring the commentary, I...uhh...damn it, I need to teach Tangela some more moves. Um, "Throw it, I guess." With what is the amorphous creature's equivalent of a shoulder shrug, my Pokémon whipped the Sunflora across the room. "Now ram into it?" Whatever works.


"Wait, WHAT?!!" Tangela tried to slow down, but it was too late. Sunflora started to shake violently, as its leaf hands glew with a bright, yet sickly light. Summoning all its strength, it managed to score a direct hit. The parasitic move weakened Tangela considerably...thankfully, it's not as winded, but I have to be careful now. Damn.

I gave the signal for Tangela to fall back, as Sunflora stood attempting to recover from being flung into a wall and using that attack. Better to finish it from a distance.

"Take it out with a strong Power Whip!"

Hearing the command, Tangela brought out a couple of vines. It wrapped them together, and swung for the fences with them. And the flower leaned back to duck under the attack?

"Sunflora, Nature Power!"

Oh...WHAT?! I guess using Nature Power on a hardwood floor, at least in this instance, is...damn it, no time!!

"Tangela, spin your vines around to deflect it away!"

The wave of splinters descended upon Tangela, but the blue beast executed my command perfectly. Carrying out the earlier command, it lashed forth the vine and brought it down on the sunflower. And that's all she wrote for it in this battle.

Phoebe robotically recalled Sunflora, and sent out Incendooh in its place. Well, I may as well recall Tangela, and not just because of the type disadvantage. Holy crap, that was closer than it should've been. It didn't take me any time to decide on my choice for this matchup. I gave the green and red ball a toss, choosing Huntail for this.

"Incendooh, Wild Charge..." Phoebe didn't even hesitate at this. Damn. Huntail tried to avoid this by slithering away, but Incendooh simply adjusted its trajectory to make contact. Well, how about making my defense an offense? It's close, so...

"Water Gun!" At such a close proximity, the red bear had no chance to react. The blast nailed it dead-on, sending it back a couple meters. "Now use Screech, then Bite it!" While still reeling from that move, Incendooh was dazed by the supersonic squeal my serpentine Pokémon emitted. Left open, it stood no chance at blocking or evading the follow-up.

"Augh...Rolling Kick." Phoebe was beginning to show a bit of frustration. Which is good, I guess. What's not good is how this somehow worked to drive back Huntail. A clean, solid hit that knocked the eel several feet away.

"Now as we practiced, Incendooh..." A dense plume of steam emerged from the little beast's pores? Again?! That's gotta be some sort of actual move. Maybe. I don't know! What I do know is, this isn't good! Well, I guess it may have exhausted it, it can't have that much in it, right? But shit.

Okay. I guess there's no way to go above it like Premala did the other day. Can't do anything to blow it away, and I'm not sure if I can shield Huntail. Argh...well, maybe...it looks like the only way out is in.

The Pokémon had been backing up as I was thinking, but perked up as I shouted, "Huntail, SWIFT!!" The eel coiled and sprang itself up a few feet. It seemed to defy gravity for a moment as it lurched back, then violently rocketed towards Incendooh. Seemingly spinning out of control, but in reality homing right in on its target. It went into the steam, but didn't spend long in it. And with the collision that followed...

"Water Pulse!"

Just like that, it was all over. Huntail spewed out a watery ring, and nailed Incendooh with it. The bear took a few steps back, shuddered with a tiny cry, and flopped over unconscious.

With an exasperated sigh, Phoebe recalled her fallen Pokémon. She then left without so much as a word.

Just as quickly, Aporon approached me with a look of disapproval on his face. His expression defied his actions, however; he gave me a pat on the back.

"You did good," he said. Though in his voice, a third emotion came through. One that I'm not so sure I like.

I asked, "Can I go now?" I really don't want to stick around here too long. In fact, I began to move towards the door-

"Not so fast." Damn it David. What the hell do you want? I turned to face him impatiently. "Don't go wandering off. We have a meeting scheduled for this afternoon during midday break."

"You mean lunch."

"Whatever you wish to call it." I looked to Aporon, who nodded to confirm what I was told. "We will depart as soon as the bell rings. It is of utmost importance, so do not go wandering off."

"Fine, fine."


I used my free time to just relax and take my mind off things. And by the way, remember that cool break room I heard about before? A lie. A complete fabrication. There was a study room though, which was nice and quiet, and served much the same purpose. It was even padded with soundproof walls, so the noise from next door, which is sort of a practice area, didn't pierce through.

As planned, the four of us went to the nearby Sunny Cup Café for lunch. It's cozy to say the least, and has as bright an atmosphere as its name implies. The four of us sat at booth in the middle of the establishment, just one of many in a row. It seems it has a bit of a following among the students at the school, as we're not the only ones around our age dining here. The food's quite enticing, but the purpose of my being called here is lingering. I can't really eat while something like this is on my mind.

"So." My sharp tone cut through the air. Lawrence nearly gagged on his meal, a commendable feat considering it consisted of noodles. I paused until he managed to get it down. David and Aporon stared at me intently. Not mincing words, I put my concern quite simply, "I know you're doing this for a reason. What is it?"

"Just-" Lawrence hacked. David smacked him on the back a couple times. "Just a little somethin'...hehe."

Aporon nodded. "Something I've been thinking about for a while, actually. Not exactly little, either."
Retaining his confidence, he took in a deep breath before he spoke his next words, "I've always wanted to put together a team of this school's best battlers. A group of elite trainers who would stick together and watch each other's backs. Ever since I came here. With this being my final year at Rukh's, this feels the best time to pull it off."


"We'll call it, the Four Forces."

He already has a name? David nodded in affirmation. Apparently privy to the plan, he elaborated, "It shall consist of you. Myself. Lawrence. And of course, our leader. Incidentally, we each represent the top of our year, so to speak."

"And heh, the teacher'd be our manager!!"

"That's..." Something else. "That's cool, but-"

"Think about-"


Interrupted once more, I felt the sudden urge to shout that all of a sudden. It garnered the silence I was looking for, at least, though I guess it more qualifies as a commotion. Whoops?

"Um..." Not that that it bugs me too much, but there is something about what they said that bothers me. "Where did you get that idea from?"

"Like I said, I always wanted to." I can't put my finger on what exactly doesn't add up about this. As a whole, I mean. That doesn't really give me any ideas, either. Aporon curtly nodded. "Think about it, please. You can work at your own pace from now on, to show that we're real about this."


Lawrence answered for him, "Really really!!"

I'm not sure how to feel about this, but I'll take it. Standing to my feet. "Okay...I'll think about it." Under my breath, I let out my concern, "I guess."

"Are you not going to finish your meal, Westmyn?"

I looked back. "You've given me some food for thought."


I made my way back onto the school grounds with a sigh. I really had been given a bit to think about. So Aporon wants to form this coalition that he calls "The Four Forces". I really don't get why I'm being invited into this, given our less-than-equitable terms and my freshness to their group. And besides, what happens after this year? And the year after that? I mean, it's an interesting proposal to say the least, but is it something I really want? Hm. Wait a minute-...

From afar, I eye a group of people gathered near the lake. On further inspection...hey, one of them's my friend! I hustled over to greet her.

"Oh, there you are, Reika," I stated with genuine glee. She looked just as happy to see me too, relieved even. The crowd had formed a circle of which she was in the middle of, as well as, "Elyna?"

I quickly pieced it together. Or at least, I'd like to say that. I'm completely baffled here. Rustling my hair, I awkwardly asked, "Uh, what's going on?"

"Oh, I'm just having a friendly chat with Reika!" Elyna declared, a spitting sarcasm being used to emphasize the nature of the conversation. "We're best pals after all, especially with our...shared history!" She purred evilly over her last two words.

"For the love of god," I sighed in exasperation. I span to my chubby friend...I'm not really mad at her, but I am a little annoyed. "Reika," I began, not veiling my frustration, "How is it that so many people don't like you?"

"I don't even know who she is!" she protested in bewilderment. Sincerity. Yet also showing signs of being parlay to a exasperating new experience. "I've never even met her before in my life!"

With a condescending tone, Elyna chuckled, "Oh, honey." Her grin became more wicked. "That little story I just told you, about my 'friend'?" she laughed, marking her last word with air quotes. "That was about me! I was the one who was snatched away by some senile group of men who thought it'd be a greeeeat idea to try and force me to take over a branch of the Silph Corporation!" In a flash, a seething rage washed over her. "Are you starting to understand the problem? Just a little bit?!"

"Wha-?" I mouthed. A realization is slowly coming to a recoiling Reika. She continued to stand as strong as she could though, keeping a defiant face before adversity. Me though...my expression is simply puzzled.

"Oh! There it is! She's starting to understand!" Elyna offered a golf clap leaking of venom. She then turned her attention to me, shifting to a more cordial tone of voice. "Although...Fritz? You didn't know? I suppose that's understandable. You probably wouldn't have heard of this, given where you live farther out in the country." Um, okay. I live farther out in the country. Works for me. "And of course, it doesn't surprise me one bit that Reika hasn't told you about this! I mean, have you even heard about her or her family? Do you know who she is?!"

Her family? The day Reika and I met, I thought...no. There can't be any relation there. I shook my head, "No."

Over my friend's protests, Elyna explained, "Reika's mother is Akemi Easton, who at the time of these events was merely a lowly worker at the Devon Corporation." Yeah, definitely no relation. Elyna dramatically paused. Reika held her breath. "But now? She's been promoted to a major executive officer of a new branch in Saffron City."

I blankly stared back. "So?" I asked, deadpan. Reika was completely caught off-guard by this. I don't think I've ever seen her more surprised.

Elyna raised an eyebrow. "So. My mother was an executive on the Silph Company branch."

Again, an idle look. "Soooo?"

She frowned. "So, her mother is an executive of the new Devon Industries branch!"

"Yeah, you told me that. So?"

"Oh...honey," Elyna said, patting me on the cheek as she did so. "You're so naive," she said with a sigh. "The heir of Devon Industries decided to expand out of Hoenn. And in doing so, began to move in on Silph Company territory."

I didn't even bother to ask again. I just tapped my foot impatiently.

"Apparently, in the last few months of my mother's life, she did not notice this. And when she died, her division suffered, and Devon took advantage of it. Combined with Silph's general inexperience with corporate competition on a larger scale, they practically died on their own." Elyna explained, without a shred of sympathy. Even stressing the part about the suffering. With a sneer, she continued, "In order to save their precious company, the Board decided to virtually abduct me from the island my mother had ABANDONED me on as a baby."

Elyna looked off into the heavens, the kind of gaze one does when thinking back to an earlier, happier time. Her wrath subsided...at least, momentarily. She chuckled sadistically. "Of course. When I did finally get to start doing anything, I fired all of the idiots and put the only sane man, who never wanted to take me from my home, in charge of the division. He managed to sink Devon in to a deep enough hole that they're only just now crawling out of it. With her mother leading the charge!"

That didn't last long. "And now?" she declared, "I'm going to take care of Devon, her mother, and her. Permanently this time."

"So her mother's company was...or rather, is your rival company," I calmly noted. I sighed with a shake of my head. I'm not leaving my friend out to dry here! With a shrug and flippant smile, I said, "Big deal. It's not like Reika did anything herself, did she? I mean, how would you like it if people judged you based on who you were born to?" I flubbed realization, before adding a brutally sarcastic, "Oh wait..."

I peered at her with a deranged pity and mocking grin. Maybe it's not the wisest of moves, but at least I'm aware of it. Reika, after a lot of hesitation, added, "That's right!"

"Fritz!" That didn't set her off as much as I thought it would, yet she was clearly annoyed. Ignoring Reika, she scolded, "What does it matter to you?! It's not like she's a real friend. I mean, you didn't even know anything about her or anything! I had to tell you everything you know now! Why try and defend her?!"

"From what I've seen, you wouldn't know what a real friend is," I idly replied. That's what was bothering me earlier. I've always had a suspicion, but. "Like, you say you're Aporon's friend, but then why do I never see you two hanging out?"

I turned to Reika, who was trying her best to remain strong. "As for why I'm defending Reika...that's what friends do for each other. Don't they?" I asked with a bright smile. "They help each other out when they're in need. For why she never told me about her life, maybe it was a sensitive subject?" It's a guess, but one I'm not really concerned about. She had her reasons.

"Oh, yes. You've found my weakness. My ice cold heart doesn't know the true meaning of friendship!" If it were possible to physically show sarcasm, I guess what I'm seeing would be it. "What next? Are you going to suggest hugging it out and hoping that I'll suddenly learn the error of my ways?" she scoffed. "Outside of that craziness...I had lots of friends. Before I was tore away from my home. I had a family. I didn't need the mother that abandoned me or the world that let her. I was content with the citizens of Shamouti and Lorelei." She appeared lost in thought momentarily, thinking back to a more pleasant time.

"As for Aporon...well," she started again with a small roll of her eyes, "It's possible I exaggerated a teensy bit. He's more of an acquaintance. We like each other enough to coexist..." Hm. Was wondering about that. "Reika though...she can't even defend herself! She's fallen back on you to deal with her battles. As for why...I doubt it really. She's probably just ashamed of the fact that her mother works at Devon Industries of all places. I wouldn't be surprised if she had mommy and daddy issues though." She sneered.

"I didn't ask for his help!" Reika snapped, returning the expression. Clear conflict was swirling within her, as she subsequently turned to me and apologetically said, "But thank you."

I smiled and nodded. I'm not sure how to reply to Elyna though. "Shamouti..." I mused. It's a place I'm familiar with, but I've never actually been to. "My friend told me that the people there kiss the people who visit?"

Elyna stiffened a bit. "Those are dirty rumors," she growled. "The only reason people say that kind of thing about us is because there are a finite number of people on the island, forcing us to date visitors. If you don't like it, you shouldn't visit."

Well, I'm a little glad I didn't then. I nodded all the same. Reika laughed at this. "No wonder you ended up on Shamouti! If that place is full of skanks that throw themselves at everyone, it's no surprise your mother went there!"

Okay...haha, I can't help myself. It's crude, but it's funny and maybe true. "Maybe getting taken away was for the better, then?" I asked. I mean, she implied she didn't know her father and maybe that he isn't known at all. With a shrug, I added (almost like a muse), "Maybe. Her friends may have been like that, at least? Surprised she's not like that too."

"For the better!" Reika confirmed. What are we even doing? "Maybe her mentor even bent over to get torn apart by-"

"Shut. Your. FUCKING. Mouths." The clearing has gone deathly silent. Shock and awe are a plague infecting everyone observing. Reika peered around, shuddering at the complete shift in mood.

"How..." Elyna quivered, "HOW DARE YOU?!" I can feel the vehement wrath she's exuding in my veins. I've...seen only two things more acrimonious, and never thought it possible for a human to be this incensed. "She...she was a good woman. Don't you fucking DARE disrespect her memory by slandering her that way. Or I swear to every god above, I will end you both. I will make sure your lives at this school are nothing more than a miserable existence that would make you LONG to be dead. Cronus might not be a real friend, but I can assure you, he would gladly make it his LIFE'S MISSION while at this school to RUN YOU INTO THE GROUND." Jesus christ. This tumult is like...an entire angry mob. Her tremorous left hand is inching towards her hip...

"What do you-" Reika squeaked.

"What part of shut up do you not understand you ignorant twit?! I am talking now, and you will listen, and you will understand. She died. She was tore apart by a Kabutops. If you ever so much as speak badly about Lorelei's memory again, your lives will effectively end. I will gladly use every last ounce of my influence to bury you in a mountain of shit, that you can't escape. You won't be able to find a job working as a garbage man!"

"Look, we're sorry Elyna. We didn't know," I nervously protested. This mood swing is way too disturbing. Her head looks like it's about to explode. "Just, just calm down, okay?"

Psychotic laughter.

Deranged laughter.

"HA! Sorry?! Tell me." She's...now calm? Not in a good way. With a smile filled with malice, she asked, "Would you like to learn why they call me the 'Ice Princess' around here?"

"Because...you specialize in Ice Pokémon?" I asked. I'm sure about that, if she trained under an Ice master and commented on the type's alleged majestic nature. Under my breath, I couldn't help but stated, "I don't know how anyone could possibly consider you a princess, though."

Reika had been trying to retain a bright face. And it looks like she's let her guard down, damn it. She mused, barely audibly, "That would explain ice. Though I was thinking frigid spoiled bitch."

A playful laugh. "Oh, how clever!" she sarcastically congratulated. "Yes! I'm an Ice-type user. But you know...I think I've had enough of you two. Why should I bother wasting my influence when I can just end you, here and now? I'll bury you in a coffin of ice!" She grasped two of the balls from her hip. She brought up her hands and curled them back. I instinctively responded to this by putting my hand in my pocked to grab one of my own Pokémon...not bothering to check what it could be.

"If you ever defrost, I'll consider us-"

"Hello, Frisco. And Reika." Things have gone silent again. Another person has entered the scene; this female with dyed-green hair and clad in a violet robe known as Premala Amani Yuhawlah. The last person I was expecting to show up, and from the looks of things, one that no one else thought to see here either. She turned to the white-clad girl. "Elyna Dragomir as well." Her radiant cool was sticking out like a sore thumb...probably the only thing making it less than it could be is my subsequent ease. But everyone else is holding their breath. "Is there something wrong?"

"Oh nothing much really. I'm just going to freeze these two solid. You know. The usual really." Elyna went from casual to sarcastic over the course of her words.

Premala nodded, absorbing the information. A battle with Elyna...I'm having second thoughts here. My Pokémon are doing all right after this morning, but they're not in top-form. Not even close to being able to take on one of the school's top three. Only one thing to do, then, I hope. I hastily shuffled over to the new arrival. She smiled to herself as I confided, "Elyna's really mad at us. We didn't mean to make her like this, but...she was going after Reika, and..." My voice trailed off.

"Hm." Premala closed her eyes. I could tell right away - that's her when she's in deep, deep thought. Other people...might not have caught on at all. And it doesn't look like any have.

Without warning, a sly (for her standards) smile appeared on Premala's lips. Something I'd never seen out of this mysterious girl who has eyes for me. "Elyna," she started, with a faint touch of creepiness in her voice. "I know you have had to put up with a lot in your life. It has been full of stresses and obstacles to overcome. One example, there was the incident that made you transfer from your old school..." She paused in sorrow, or perhaps pity...or perhaps allowing the Ice Princess to think about this?

Elyna snapped to attention. She zeroed right in on Premala, wide-eyed. "I...Y-You..." Completely speechless? How the hell did she...? Wow. Holy crap, more silence. And I've never seen so many jaws hit the ground at the same time. Ever. Elyna deflated, barely bringing forth a venomous glare. "Isn't this cute..." she taunted. "Your little girlfriend swooped in to save you." Premala smiled a little more, making Elyna cringe a bit. "Ugh. Fine." She replaced her Poké Balls and turned to leave. The crowd gave her a wide berth.

"But don't think that this is over, Fritz. One day, there won't be someone here to save you..."

As Elyna left and the crowd began to disperse, the next thing I was made aware of was a pair of arms tightly wrapping around me. I mumbled some thanks under my breath - albeit sincere. She must have heard it though, as her grip tightened.

"What the hell..." Reika could barely force out. "What did she...oh, whatever." Though I guess the reaction was not for the reason I expected. She stared at me for a moment, before demanding, "Well?"

"Well, what?" I said, as I was released from the hold.

"Aren't you going to say anything?"

"...no?" Well, maybe. "I guess though I do want to know, how did this even start?"

Reika grumbled. "She just came up to me here and wanted to talk. I didn't have anything better to do, so I agreed. She then went into this ridiculous story about her birth, or whatever, out of nowhere. I reacted like any normal person would, she called me stupid for not realizing something allegedly obvious, and that's about when you showed up."

"Anything else?"

"Elyna is a dramatic person," Premala chimed in. "However, the story she told is the truth. If an exaggerated one."

The three of us proceeded to share an awkward silence. Premala merely politely waiting. Reika again looked at me as if I had something to say, though I had nothing to say. She eventually sighed.

Reika asked, "So how has your day been?"

"Well, it's been interesting. Let's put it that way." Yes, I do believe that's an appropriate way to sum it all up. "Where's Thatcher, anyway?"

"He wanted to be alone for lunch," Reika told with a sigh. "I'm not sure where he went, but he's probably in his room."

"May as well go see, then." Lunch is only halfway through, and it's not like there's anything better to do. "Want to come with us, Premala?" I offered.

The robed girl shook her head. "I apologize. I have to speak with Dean Finkerton regarding a particular issue. However. If you need assistance, I would be more than happy to help you after."

Well, that's okay. I gave her a nod as she made her way to her destination. Here's to hoping it goes well. Here's to hoping Thatcher isn't too down about stuff. And here's to hoping Elyna does not want to take her vengeance so soon.
All right. It took me longer than it probably should've considering this chapter is actually shorter than others.

Anyways, I really liked the chapter, at first I had to go back and reread some of the last chapter because it's been a long time, but after that I was able to just sit down and read carefully. As usual your chapters always include a lot of changes in regards to what happens to the characters and there's always something new to see.

This could be a problem in a sense since it could be kind of hard to keep track of everything that happens to each character, so I'd recommend trying to lower the twists down a bit and such. Other than that I liked Fritz's little squabble with Elyna, even if her character just seemed like a freaking psycho this time around.

I also like how you've been given Premala more attention, it's obvious by now that she is far more important in these matters than the situation lets on.
Again, probably a bit rusty here, so there's probably more typographical mistakes than normal. But here we go.

Anyways, I really liked the chapter, at first I had to go back and reread some of the last chapter because it's been a long time, but after that I was able to just sit down and read carefully. As usual your chapters always include a lot of changes in regards to what happens to the characters and there's always something new to see.

This could be a problem in a sense since it could be kind of hard to keep track of everything that happens to each character, so I'd recommend trying to lower the twists down a bit and such.
Kind of what happens when you take a huge break like that, unfortunately. I have things planned to help with that, though.

Other than that I liked Fritz's little squabble with Elyna, even if her character just seemed like a freaking psycho this time around.
She pretty much is at times, really. This just made it all the more blatant.

I also like how you've been given Premala more attention, it's obvious by now that she is far more important in these matters than the situation lets on.
Yeah. Very interesting fact - she wasn't originally planned, but she turned out to be one of the more fun and interesting characters to write. While also filling in a few important blanks that I had in the story.


Chapter 2-11: Those Who Pursue Glory

The day of the tournament is finally upon us. Friday, May 25th.

Today, those on their first year of this course will begin facing each each other in one-on-one matches. Each of these trainers has been mentored by a student on their third year of this course. As for those in their second year of the course, such as Elyna, David, and Lawrence, they were apparently in charge of managing the tournament. And in regards to the latter two, I had a question for them as we sat with Aporon, waiting for my opponent to be officially announced.

"So who do I have to face first?"

The lecherous nerd of the group nearly had a seizure attempting to conceal his giddiness. "I dunno!! Hee hee! But you're gonna crush'em! Crush'em like a bug!"

"Calm yourself, Lawrence," the prep said with a raised hand. For once, his formal clothing actually sort of fit. Neither response actually did much to answer my question, though.

It was Aporon who gave me the information I had asked for. Sort of, "We haven't found out who is going to be facing who yet, Westmyn. We'll find that out in a few minutes."

"Well, then let's go over the possibilities," I said. I always do like to think about my opponent and what they're capable of before I go into a battle, if it's practical. "Who may I have to face?"

"The main threat is going to be Muriel's mentee, Korum Anaberal," Aporon stated without an iota of hesitation.

David followed this up with, "It can be stated that he is a trainer who prefers hallowed Pokemon."

"So Darks and Ghosts. Got it. Anyone else?"

"What are you talking about?" Aporon asked, "I've been focusing on making you a better trainer, not what anyone else has been doing."

I sighed. Well, he has a point, but still, knowledge is power. "I don't suppose either of you know anything?"


"I only saw fit to study the biggest hurdle you may face. No other mentor in the tournament comes close to Muriel's level." David was well-organized in his reply to this question, as though he had anticipated it. "But worry not. I have done everything I can to ensure your success when it comes down to that."

"Not gonna make a difference if I can't get that far."

"You're overthinking things," my mentor for the tournament said. "Just relax. You'll be fine, as long as you don't make any mistakes. Be prudent."

There's those four Ps again. "What about planning?"

"Don't be a smartass!" he snapped. The jock-like crown jewel seemed about ready to launch into a rant...and here comes a raven-haired girl?

"Excuse me," she addressed with a respectful bow. "Your match is scheduled to begin."

Huh. "That was quick."

"As I asked." Aporon's wrath instantly subsided. "Let's go."

"Give'em hell!"

"Good luck."

I looked back at David, and mumbled, "Luck is for losers and the unprepared." Though on the other hand, it's better to be lucky than good. Kind of a wash. Sigh. Shake of my head. I somewhat pointlessly whispered to Aporon, "So what can you tell me, if not about our opponents?"

No response. We merely continued to being guided by the student to the battlefield. And only as we stepped inside, did he finally speak up, "This first round is a one-on-one match." Our opponents were already waiting for us, a tall blonde girl with a long face clad in nondescript clothing, and a short redheaded boy with a confident smirk in a black shirt and blue jeans. "Pokemon choice is very critical in these kinds of matchups-"

"Way ahead of you," I interrupted, waving him off. It's as though he completely forgot my saying so before. I'm no stranger to this situation, and I know careful thought has to go into them. I employed that process when I fought him during the school's sabbatical due to the fire, and I'll employ it here as well.

Let's see here. Tangela and Nidorina are the two obvious choices. But...I'm sure my opponents are well aware of their prowess as well. Eevee is probably out of the picture. Even given its psychotic reaction before, I'm not so sure I can trust it to do the same again. I'd rather see what Vespiquen could do before unleashing her upon my opponents, let alone in a confined room where flight is not really an option. So my choice is clear.

A long dragonfly burst out before my opponent. Its body is primarily red, though its green head is the noteworthy exception. Two horn-like antennae are atop its head. I was ready for just about anything, really, and a bug is certainly one of the less dangerous things that I could be up against. Meanwhile, the emergence of the electric sheep seemed to throw my opponent off a bit.

Guess they were expecting something else! Perfect!

Still, it wasn't that big a deterrent to his mood. He quickly talked this over with his mentor in the span of five seconds.

"This first round match between Fritz Westmyn, representing Cronus Aporon, and Yujo Toni, representing Ki Asugi, is now underway!" And with that having been said by the third-year student who nobody cares about gave the signal to start the battle, my opponent leapt right into action.

"Yanma, Sonicboom!"

That could be bad if it's powerful. "Mareep, move in!"

That action serves a double purpose. The first is to avoid the attack. While a battle shout did not pierce the air, the deafening sound of wings cracking at 1225km/h sure did. This generated a spinning blue and white crescent; a larger and wider blast led the pack, followed by several smaller arcs. Luckily, the dragonfly didn't follow it up with a kicking backflip. The second, getting nearer will allow Mareep to use its electrical attacks with better accuracy.

"You're not gonna win that easy!" he yelled. "Yanma, daze it with Flash, and Sonicboom again!"

The entire body of Yanma momentarily gave off a dazzling white light. By the time it faded, the bug had already moved and fired the next blast. This one, we couldn't properly respond to. My Pokemon was hit by the piercing blasts, yet shook it off and seemed ready for more. Taking them back a bit, and making me breath a sigh of relief.

"Hope your aim's good today," I mused to myself. I'm not concerned, it'll just eliminate any uncertainty. With swagger, I shouted, "Thundershock!"

"Dodge it!"

Look at this guy, with his Pokemon who has to be explictly told to just dodge. And...Mareep's aim is off, but because that dragonfly evaded with an agile lateral flutter, they didn't seem to notice.

"Now, Quick Attack!"

Got'em. "Wait for it..." I said, Mareep standing ready as if it were bracing for the blow. A proactive feint? Or just Mareep's style? Whatever! "And Cotton Spore!"

Mareep shook like a dog drying itself, loosing a fair amount of the fleece on its compact body. The green-faced insect ran right into this sticky fluff, no time to respond. Clinging onto it like gum, Yanma was not only plagued by immediate discomfort, but a fair amount of the spores stuck to its wings. It tried to escape, but the added weight made any flight improbable.

"What? No!!"

I swung my arms out and clapped my hands together. With them crossed, I swung them back out again. "Mareep, THUNDERBOLT!"

And that's it! From point blank, even Mareep couldn't miss. The Yanma convulsed as it was lit up by the attack, lying still after it was finished.

I looked over, perhaps for some sort of approval from Aporon. What am I doing. Instead, what I saw was him in conversation with the other mentor and the third year. Aporon gestured to me, politely giving me my leave with a wave of his hand. I opened my mouth to ask what he was talking about. Then I remembered...it doesn't particularly matter to me.

I barely even paid the formal announcement of my victory heed; it was almost presented as an afterthought, or something she (the one overseeing the match) nearly forgot about.

...I had just about made it out of the room when another individual hustled out before me. Sort of a calm and sophisticated looking fellow, he kept his hands firmly in his black trousers. He stared at me for a few seconds, before raising his hand in salute.

"Hello," he dispassionately spoke up, "Are you Apollo's new pet?"

Apollo? I wonder why he could...oh, Aporon would be the Japanese romanization of Apollo, wouldn't it? Interesting. Never made that connection before, though it could be a coincidence. Sophisticated indeed. As for his question, "I wouldn't say new," I replied with a rub of my head. After all, I had been under his tutelage, even if it had been on-and-off, for over a month. "Nor would I say pet." God...I freaking HOPE that isn't the case. Because if it is...god.

He stared at me for a moment with gleaming emerald eyes. All things considered, I'm not sure what to think of this guy right now. His dirty blonde hair flowing to the nape of his neck seems incongruous, but it could just be me. Though either way, the last few times an unexpected face approached me out of nowhere, it totally ended well. So I can't help but be a little wary as he probes me...

He abruptly turned to the battlefield. "You did pretty good actually. It's obvious that you've managed to train your Pokemon very well thanks to that reaction time, though it seems to lack in the speed department a bit," he noted, scratching his chin and nodding his head. That's um, about right? Mareep has speed and accuracy issues, so I thought to compensate by training it in the durability and reaction ends. It seems to be better at those, anyway.

"I can definitely see why he would pick you. Well, aside from probably torturing you. I think it's a case of watching over someone that could grow to surpass him. This way, he watches how you grow instead of letting someone else train you."

"Maybe..." I mumbled. But really, I don't know about that, between being told I was chosen for his victory and the whole thing about the group of four. Still, I don't know about-

"I'm Markus Lake," the guy said as he extended his right arm. Thank god. Somebody normal for once! Why can't they all be like this? I accepted his hand and shook. "I'm battling under Edison Glad's stead, though I don't think you've heard his name before."

"Edison Glad," I mused. That's the guy who...I have no idea. Wonder if Aporon would know...wait, that'd be stupid to ask like this. Plus he's still chatting with those people. "Can't say that I have, no..." I said as I turned back, shuffling my feet a bit. I get the feeling I should know him, somehow. But I have an excuse, "With that torture and everything else, I haven't really gotten to know as many people as I hypothetically should."

To this, he looked back at me while nonchalantly waving his hand. "It's okay. I wouldn't know him either if he hadn't chosen me, honestly," he amazingly shrugged simply, before tapping his chin in thought. "Oh right...how's Phoebe doing?" he worriedly asked, the first clear emotion he'd expressed. "I heard about what happened before, I don't know her very well. But I do kind of know the kind of person she is, she's nothing like her sister."

Before I could answer, he grinned. His prodding transitioned to a scratch. "Though, I did hear a lot about you since the competition started..." he said and abruptly halted. He said nothing for a few moments, After a moment of hesitation, Markus continued, "But I can understand how bothersome it is. Though don't worry, I don't believe gossip anyway. Only 1% of all gossip is true."

Gossip? Having been notable around here since fighting a Gyarados and pissing off the school's most popular student the first day, recognition isn't surprising. With fame comes some gossip, but, "Well, there often is an element of truth behind gossip," I neutrally noted. "It's just that the details often get mangled. It's-" Wait...what could he be referring to? I vacantly blinked, but didn't let it bother me. Because, "Well, you really can't let gossip get to you."

"As for Phoebe, I don't know." I still feel really guilty about how things turned out there, and it showed in my tone. "I haven't heard much since the incident. Even when we had to fight our partners, all I got was that she really didn't want to face me at that moment." I sighed. "It's terrible what happened, but I don't know what to do."

I sighed a second time. I'm still uncertain what to think of this Markus. It may just be natural caution, but who can say? I peered over my shoulder to see what Aporon was up to. Still chattering away...but by his returning my glance, I suppose he's noticed I'm in a conversation of my own.

It was something that Markus seemed to notice as well, but paid it little mind. He looked over the battlefield. "Sorry to bombard you with all these questions, I'm a bit of a curious fellow, you see." What the hell is that supposed to mean? He turned to me with a simple nod before smiling. "Also, you can lower your defenses. I mean, it's not like I'm some sort of evil mastermind. And honestly, this whole competition isn't really that important when you look at it...though I guess you had the bad luck of ending up with our resident 'hotshot', or at least for now," he shrugged and leaned back.

Mmm...that is a good point. Nothing was promised, really. And single elimination tournaments can result in one person meeting a bad matchup or something and being left unable to advance, regardless of their actual level of talent in relation to everyone else.

"Oh, you took long, buddy," Markus suddenly spoke up. I looked down to see a small, bipedal black and blue Pokemon tugging at his jeans. This Riolu held two small bags of cookies, one of which he grabbed and opened up. He subsequently tossed one of the tiny pastries in the air, catching it in his mouth. Noticing the look I gave him, he apologized, "Sorry about that, I have to eat sugar from time to time 'cause my levels are low..." He retrieved another one, "Cookie?" he offered, "I find that eating something sweet can be quite relaxing."

"Thank you," I said, accepting his gift. Strangely enough...I did indeed relax at this. Not necessarily at the prospect of sugar, though. "Hypoglycemia?" I queried, before taking a small bite. As I chewed, I examined the Riolu. It has an intriguing relationship with its trainer, I guess is how I'd put it.

"Yeah, it's a curse," he confirmed with a nod as he bit into another cookie, "I was specifically adamant of getting to eat these before my first match. Wouldn't wanna faint in the middle of it or something." He smiled, "Well, at least they helped you relax a bit...though can I ask you something particular regarding your Pokemon?" He pointed down at his Poke Ball as the Riolu sat between us, happily munching away at the cookies. I gave a shrug of confirmation, and he went on, "Why is it that you haven't evolved most of your Pokemon? I don't condone it...actually, it's interesting, considering everyone is always itching for their Pokemon to evolve."


Well, that would've taken me off-guard, if I hadn't thought about this very subject a few times recently. "Well see, if I evolved Tangela, it wouldn't be as agile. I'd have to train it all over again. I'm not sure what I want my Eevee to be yet. But it's probably too early to evolve. Same for Nidorina, I guess." Actually, the latter has occurred to me on a few occasions, but the Pokemon seems to be doing well as-is.

"As for Mareep..." I continued, retrieving its Poke Ball and examining it, "I guess it isn't experienced enough, yet. I only received it a few days before I came here." Mareep...I have had Pokemon before that I've been close to, some of which came to me under very similar circumstances. It's a bit of a unique case, though. A pleasant one mind you, that makes one smile on the inside.

His expression said he understood my logic. "Looks like the competition's gonna get rougher," he noted, still eating the cookies.

"Naturally." Well, unless the seeding is all screwy. Assuming it wasn't random to begin with.

...Muriel Palmoni just marched through the hallway beyond. She was followed behind by Korum Anaberal. The former's eyes were pointed forward, but the latter's peered in. On catching sight of me, he flashed a malicious smile, training his gaze on me for the brief moment I was visible. I shook this off, before turning back to Markus.

"By the way, do you have a Poké Gear or an XTransceiver or something?" Markus asked plainly. "You look like someone I'd want to stay in contact with," he said with a nod.

"Uh...well, no," I hastily shrugged. "They have haven't been something I feel I could get much use out of." I feel as though I should have one, though that's a perfectly valid excuse as to why I don't. After all, I can talk to anyone here in-person, and there's only two people I know both in a position to own such a device and are on friendly terms with me.

"Well, you never know when you might need it," Markus nodded his head sagely, before pocketing his device. He then looked at his watch and grinned. "I should probably get going before my battle starts," he said before lifting his shirt slightly, revealing the five Poke Balls that were strapped to his belt. "Just remember, you have more than just one opponent here," he smirked, before holding his fist out towards me. "And if we have to battle, which I hope we do then I won´t go easy."

After a moment's thought, perhaps in mild awe, I bumped Markus' fist. Although more with respect than enthusiasm. I nodded as I saw him off.


Didn't do much for the rest of class. I think I just needed a break after all that's happened lately, really. Even if it was a small one. The bleachers in the other room made for a fantastic place to get some rest. Surprising how few people seem to realize this was an option, though at least two others were up there too. After the bell signalling the end of class woke me up, I found myself accosted on the third floor as I was leaving class.

"Well, I wasn't expecting to see you two waiting here," I said with a smile to the two people before me, who were waiting near the base of the stairs.

"Well, what else are friends for?" Teiko rhetorically asked as we began to walk and talk. Maybe we're not as close as friends like I am with Reika and Thatcher, but hey, we're still friends.

Teikō was also present, of course. "How goes the tournament?" he asked, a bit of excitement in his tone. Albeit that doesn't say much, as he seems like an excitable guy in general.

"Pretty good," I confirmed. "Met a guy named Markus Lake, and fought someone named Yujo Toni. Won, of course."

"Wish I were in that class with you."

I blinked at Teiko's statement. "You're into battling? Didn't know that."

"You never asked," she replied, to-the-point. "My goal is to be a professional battler. I've also considered being a gym leader. Fairy types are my specialty, so it'd be logical." I never was a fan of specializing in a single type. But it would make sense, particularly if she wanted to settle down with her boyfriend. You can't exactly travel if you want to have children. At least, not if you want to be a good parent, anyway.

"Right!" Teikō chimed in. "Been meaning to ask you, Fritz. Have you met Graham Fragarach yet?"

"No, who's he?"

We were on the first floor now. Teiko paused for a moment to look over at something on the opposite end of the indoor Student Square, before giving an answer, "Someone we know who happens to be in that class."

More insider knowledge than my sorry excuse of a mentor ever could give. Fantastic. But the question is, "What year is he in?"

"Second year!" So possible opponent. "He's like, super tough and stuff. He's got a wicked, sick nasty Gliscor you should be careful of!"

"Noted, thanks."

So let's go over things thus far. I know of three opponents. Korum Anaberal, who uses Dark and Ghost types. Markus Lake, who uses a Riolu. And Graham Fragarach, who uses a Gliscor. Haven't heard of that Pokemon before, but I could look it up later. I haven't checked to see how many rounds of the tournament there's going to be. I suspect six or seven, maybe eight.

"Oh. Fritz," my thoughts were interrupted. "Hear what happened with Premala and Elyna this morning?"

"No. What happened, Teiko?"

"They had a battle. Elyna won it."

"...I see." That's not good. That's all that needs to be said. Not good. Even Teiko knew it. Damn it. Not good at all.


Pushing that out of my mind...Thatcher's problem the other day...he told us he was stressed. He didn't want to go into the specifics of exactly why, but they were not lost on Reika and I. Just because we knew why though, didn't mean we knew how to stop it. Still, the most we could do was be there to support him, which Teikō and Teiko decided to throw their hats in too.

"Hey, Fritz. You two?" Reika said as we stepped into his room, recognizing them from before. Teikō was a bit startled by her snappiness.

"What, yes?!"

"Wasn't expecting you two to actually come in," she commented, if a bit idly. Reika was leaning back on the bed. Thatcher was slumped over at a desk. The two were more than a little bored. I sat next to Reika, as Teikō took up a standing position near Thatcher.

Teiko walked out in front, as if to address us, "Figured we could make plans for the weekend. The five of us could hang out. Be nice to get out once in a while."

Disregarding the fact that some of us do. Thatcher seemed to be as well, as he looked up while adjusting his glasses. "That's...that sounds like...it might be...a good idea. But...but what can we..." he trailed off, unsure of what to do.

Guess Teiko hasn't thought that far, as she's mostly at a loss herself. Nice. But she had one suggestion, "Go see a movie? Maybe?"

"Ugh." One that Reika didn't seem to like. "Nothing worth watching these days."

"That's true." Teiko sighed in agreement.

"Nothing's happening at the contest hall either..."

"Good..." Reika mouthed under her breath.

"What, huh?"

"Oh," Reika stammered, on being heard by Teikō, "I was...my leg...still not completely healed. I can't want to do anything too physical because of it."

Teiko put a finger on her lips. "Maybe just lunch, then?"

"Well..." I interrupted, a bit forcefully. There was a problem with their plan to begin with. "Whatever you're doing, I can't be a part of it." My friends waited curiously to see what I had to say, and thus I wasted no time in telling them, "The tournament's continuing over the weekend. I don't know exactly when I'll have to have matches, so..."

"Really?" Teiko asked. "Then I'll have to come watch." She kept her composure while elaborating, "Been wanting to see how you battle since hearing how you fought Cronus." Looks like Thatcher's not the only friend of mine I'm a role model to.

"Y-yeah...I'll...I'll be there to support you..."

"You could be my next artistic inspiration, too!!"

Reika merely sighed. "Well, not that I have anything better to be doing. I hate crowds, though..."

Having people you know watching is pressuring to some, but it almost makes me feel at home. It at least spurs me on to do a better job. "Thanks guys."


The day flew by quickly, and before I knew it, it was tomorrow. And so soon in the morning, I was walking in-step with the rest of the Four (Three?) Forces sans manager, towards the outdoor battlegrounds, where various second-round matches were scheduled to take place for the school's entertainment.

"So, did you do any research on my opponent this time?" I asked. Certainly, they might've considered it


"We did not."


Lawrence? Holy shit. Instead of a stern annoyed answer or almost casual dismissal, he goes and does something actually helpful? Very nice! Color me impressed.

"Today!" Lawrence hyped up, "Today you'll be facing Ryosuke Eichi DeMonte! He's a bit of a crazy fellow, you see. Real nutjob. Got a case of schizophrenia. He hears voices in his head! They talk to him, they understand! Ryosuke's got a bunch of different Pokemon, with no clear patterns to them. But his best is what he calls his savior. A Messiah, even. It's a Pidgeot, and it's really really strong. Better watch out for it. Nah, who am I kidding. YOU'RE GONNA KICK HIS ASS!!!"

The other two looked at him, wide-eyed. The shock is mutual, it seems. David broke the silence. "How did you find this all out?"

"Got my ways, hehe."

"Well, there you go," Aporon grumbled. He's simultaneously giving Lawrence a look of disapproval, one that he doesn't even seem to notice. "Happy now?"

"Yes," I said, with sincerity that annoyed the hell out of my mentor. "Thank you, Lawrence. Know anything about his mentor?"

"Heh. Heh. Don't sweat it! And his mentor's Tori Asakura! Just some dumb nerd who can't hope to wrangle. Nonfactor. Got saddled with Ryosuke by default. So don't sweat it!"

I'm not sure whether to call that good or bad. It means this guy may well have some natural talent on his side. But I guess we'll find out soon enough.


Just like the last big event set up here...which was actually more impromptu, the outdoor battlegrounds had been set up as one large battlefield. There were no fences set up, nothing to obstruct the views of the battles to come. I got to sit back and spectate for a bit. No one I was familiar with participated, but I made sure to take brief notes on those who I did see. Just to be sure. These were presented as more traditional three-on-three battles.

Before long, my match was up. Despite the intel I had been given, Ryosuke certainly didn't look the part. He dresses in casual blue jeans, a red vest with dark undershirt, and even has a spiffy looking hat. About my height, his eyes and hair are as dark as the other. His mentor didn't even bother to step out with him.

The first Pokemon I sent out was Nidorina, who was poised and ready for battle. The first Pokemon our opponent sent out...was like Nidorina, except not. Certainly, the familiarity was there, violet skin tone aside. This male specimen varied greatly in how it was much larger, had a thick tail, armored chestplate, and a long, sharp horn. Oh, and Nidoking is bipedal too.

Still, size isn't everything. In fact, I swear there's a smile on Nidorina's face, even in the face of this adversity. Meanwhile, as ferocious as this beast incarnate could potentially be, it seems a bit reluctant.

The signal came to start the battle, and so came the opening exchange.

"Nidorina, Fury Swipes!"


Neither Pokemon wasted time, charging headforth towards the adversary. But mine got the better of the exchange! She could evade with greater ease than her larger, evolved, male counterpart.

Ryosuke twitched slightly. "STRENGTH!!"

But...alas, the power game is where they've got us. The resulting attack wasn't so much of a move as it was the fully evolved DNA mismash simply outmuscling his opponent with sheer force, knocking her back a considerable distance. Nidorina didn't back down in the slightest from this threat. She landed on her feet, and looked like she was about to Body Slam-

"Fonsu, STRENGTH!!"

God. Another toss away. This one with considerable more oomph behind it, sending further away and to the ground.

"Poison Sting!" we both commanded at once. Each Nido shook to loose some spikes, and each fired them out at their opponent, with my own having to get to her feet before she could return fire. Neither did much.

"How about...try DOUBLE KICK!"

"Ugh..." He just keeps coming. So much for that initial thought. "Dodge it and use Cut!" Nidorina obliged, squatting beneath the foot of her adversary, and making a vicious slash as it passed over her. The results...weren't very impressive. Mind you it worked well, just not as well as I had hoped. Nidorina had to stumble away from the other leg, and another Double Kick saw her uncharacteristically falling back.

She might be able to handle it, but this is getting us nowhere. Time for an abrupt switch, bringing back Nidorina just as it was about to be hit by a Horn Attack (causing the Nidoking to get stuck in the dirt). It's partially a ground type, so let's go, Huntail!

The eel burst out of the ball with wild vigor and a silly grin. Our opponent looked stricken by the exotic Pokemon for a moment. A moment that I used to command a Water Gun, catching him and his Pokemon off-guard. A few of these should be enough to take it down, so let's keep it up.

"Huntail, WATER PULSE!"


What the hell kind of order is...oh. I guess it's a fancy...no, that's not the term. What's the term...specific way of telling it to dodge?


What? Why would he do that?! I gave a motion to Huntail, who quickly slithered in and Clamped down on the creature. Fonsu (?) the Nidoking tried to Fury Attack it off, but it was to no avail. It just had to sit there and...

"THUNDERBOLT!!" Ryosuke nearly had a seizure screaming. I resisted the urge to scream myself as ten thousand volts of electricity shot through Huntail, still latched onto the Nido. We need to get back, and fast!

"Water G-"

"Strength! Double Kick!" Ugh. Well, it sent us back, didn't it? As for how it looked, if you've ever dropped a soccer ball and kicked it away, that's essentially what Fonsu did to Huntail here. I don't know if it has much more left in it after that...so we have to make our next shot count.

I gave the command for a Water Pulse, just as Ryosuke gave one for another Thunderbolt. This burst of lightning cinched it...but Huntail got the Water Pulse off!! It may be out like a light, but its final blow sailed through the air, and splashed against Fonsu. The brute staggered back a few steps, then rolled over unconscious.

Huntail still has a lot of training to do. The score remains even at least, and Nidorina is back out for a second bout. Meanwhile, our opponent has sent out...umm...okay. Imagine a aquamarine squid with a spiky spiral-shaped sandy shell on its back. It has four large fangs in its mouth, one to each diagonal. Of its ten to a dozen tentacles, two seem to function as legs, and two as arms.

"This..." my opponent answered for me, "This is the Omastar, known as Rasen-Sama. You shall feel its divine wrath with...HORN ATTACK!!"

Divine wrath? Don't tell me it has moves of that type? Well, may warrant using Tangela if so, but let's see what it can do for now. And because why not, "Skull Bash it, Nidorina!" and she's off and running.

The Omastar is quick though?! You'd think that heavy shell would slow it down even just a bit, yet it just smoothly dodged our blow and landed its all in one motion. Almost instantly after, Ryosuke had called for an Icy Wind. Fighting through the blast, but obviously suffering its effects, Nidorina moved in for a Double Kick.

"Withdraw, Rasen-Sama!!" The sea creature retreated into its shell, protecting itself from further abuse. Nidorina tried kicking the shell, her efforts not amounting to much. She stopped and glared at it. A malicious smile spread across her, as her front right paw began to radiate with toxic essence...she's up to something.

"Spike Cannon! Ancientpower!" Or, that could happen. The two attacks hit one right after the other...only serving to piss her off. She rushed in, aiming to land that attack...only for the Omastar to dodge again. She tried to bite it, and it made another evasion. It even got out of the way of her throwing her entire body at it in frustration, by pole vaulting with its tentacles. Damn. Maybe I should recall her before-

"As they say, Rasen-Sama, HYDRO PUMP!!"

Something like that happens! A huge, high-pressure blast of aura came flooding out of the sea creature's maw, sending Nidorina tumbling back several meters. She clawed her way back up...but fell back down and lay still. Shit, that thing is strong.

Got one left, and it's Tangela. Maybe I should've sent it out sooner, but a little late for that. As soon as it did come out...

"Spike Cannon!"

"Spin your vines to deflect it!" Hey, if it worked once before, I figured I may as well make it an integral part of our strategy. Right? Not a single needle got through.

"Submission maneuver, Rasen-Sama!"

"Begin your charge...and Wrap it up!!" The ancient sea creature was sauntering forth with intent to ensnare Tangela with its tentacles, only for Tangela to ensnare it in its tentacles. It tried to get out of this with a Hydro Pump. Tangela practically ignored the shot, and blew away the hapless Omastar with a Solarbeam.

Now the score's one apiece. Tangela's in good shape, so it should be able to handle...wait, that's right. What Lawrence told me about this guy...and his team. His best Pokemon.

"Feast your eyes on our savior..." he taunted, as he send out a particularly large bird of prey. Razor-sharp talons, a peach-colored underbelly against dusty brown feathers, and blood-red plumage that ran all the way down its back, this thing looked poised to kill. "The Pidgeot, Iesu!!"

Well. No one said this tournament was going to be easy. Except Aporon. But what the hell does he know? I looked to Tangela, giving a firm nod of confidence which it returned on cue. There's no time to play around here. It's time to bring our A-Game. Maybe our B-Game. Whatever we want to bring, it better be serious.

"UP!!" screamed Ryosuke, and so went his bird. A surface-to-air fight, eh? Should've brought my Houndour with me, but I digress. I gave a signal, and Tangela went on the move. There was no purpose behind this, other than to keep it a moving target. Have to stay on our toes, be ready for anything, like...like...

"Down! Quick Attack!" Like that! And god damn is it indeed ever quick. Tangela didn't seem hurt too badly, at least. Ryosuke gave a shout, and Iesu followed it up by swiping its wing across the ground, kicking up some dust which went right into Tangela's eyes. He gave the word for another Sand Attack. Tangela instinctively send out a cloud of Stun Spore...but this simply missed. "Left! Quick Attack!" Argh.

This guy is running circles around me. It's almost like he's toying with us. "Tangela," I called out. Let's see how he likes this! "Leech Seed!"


Tangela's aim was better this time, yet the Pidgeot dodged it. "Sleep Powder!" Let's see if it can keep dodging.

"Up!" Okay, I guess it can. "MIRROR MOVE!" Wait, what?! You are JOKING. That thing radiated with a white aura for a moment, and from it produced a cloud of green spores, much like Tangela had. Its flapping wings sent them right at my Pokemon, no chance to react.

You know. Because if you breath in the powder, and I guess Tangela does surprisingly breath, it takes effect. It's not going to suddenly stop working one day all of a sudden. God damn it, what are we...what is he doing? Now is not the time to play a musical instrument...


...so whatever it was, it woke up Tangela? A catchy tune too, I guess. Whatever. I ordered a Leaf Storm, which barely nicked the Pidgeot, before it took flight once more.

"WHIRLWIND!" Tangela saw the flapping bird, and went on the move. It easily got out of the way of the dust devil that tore through the area where it once stood. "WHIRLWIND!" Tangela rolled out of the way to escape the second blast. "WHIRLWIND!" This time, the bird, instead of aiming where we were, it aimed where we were going to be. Before I could react, Tangela itself reacted, bringing a vine into the ground and swiveling around. "WHIRLWIND!" Fourth time was the charm, sadly. Tangela was caught up in the blast, whipped around, and slammed into the side of the school.

My Pokemon groggily looked up at Iesu. This isn't good...we need to find a way to neutralize their advantage. And I think I know how, "Pull yourself up!" I said. Tangela realized the full extent of my command when it tilted up and saw a pole sticking out of the side of the building. Reaching a pair of vines out, it used this to get up on the roof of the building.

More than a few whispers started up. This is definitely a type of battle you don't see every day. But being this high up, means we can do a few things...like...


"Solarbeam, Tangela!" The laser was loose. No reaction time allowed, they ran right into it. And...through it. Tangela had anticipated that though, and sidestepped the charge.

"They're telling me...MIRROR MOVE!!" Oh for fuck's sake. "Get down here, Tangela!" Another unorthodox way to avoid an attack, but one that worked. Tangela did of course have to deal with landing from that jump, but it was better than taking a Solarbeam.

"Now...the voices are saying...heh heh..."

"What? What's so funny?!" I've had just about enough of-


The Pidgeot began glowing. Okay. Best way to avoid this would be to slingshot out of the way...but what to use as leverage? Tangela ran back out towards the battlefield proper, but alas. It was no good. That thing finished its charge before we knew it, burst into crimson flames shaped like a heavenly avianoid, and smashed into Tangela. The impact was so fierce, it kicked up a cloud of dirt and sand. Nothing we really could've done about that.

When the dust settled...YES! Tangela taking a hit like a boss! It's still up! Maybe it just got clipped, maybe it was natural durability shining through. Who cares!? Still alive, baby! The crowd, and just about everyone but Ryosuke was awestruck. He just gave his next command.


Like I said before, I've had just about enough of this. "Power Whip!" Tangela, just as frustrated as I was (and it's a rarity to see it like this), completely ignored the dirt and just swung for the fences. Literally - it eyed the stack of fences and tried to hit Iesu into them. It smacked the bird pretty good, which got the hell out of there in short order.

"SKY ATTACK!! Once again, Iesu! Finish it off!"

"No way!" I countered. "No way you're getting that off! Tangela, grab it!"

The vines lashed out and wrapped around the talons of the brown bird. A good tug was all it took to make it lose control, and Tangela put the exclamation point on its attack by essentially suplexing it backwards into the earth. Before its trainer could get another word out...

"Tangela, DOUBLE-EDGE!!"

My Pokemon sprang up and reeled itself in, violently colliding with the Pidgeot and sending both into a tumble. The mass of noodles was right back on its feet, and added insult to injury by slamming it down one more time. And the Messiah lay still. We've done it. Round 2 complete!!

"Ghk." My opponent clutched his skull. His fingers twitched, popping his hat off. His knees trembled and his fingers dug into his hair, as he made some of the strangest sounds I've ever heard escape a human being's vocal cords. Akin to a cross between gargling, choking, and exhaling. And then he blacked out?

Did I...

Did I just...give him a brain aneurysm? Did...was the shock of losing that great? What? People stopped their clapping to look on in various shock and confusion. A few rushed to his aid. Oh, hey, Aporon. Maybe I have a problem of my own to attend to.

"Westmyn. Question."

I shrugged. "Shoot."

"Why the hell were you using Mareep before?"

Whoa. Touchy. And a day late too. Keeping my cool though, "I was training it, and wanted to see the fruits of its success. Not bad, huh?"

"But in that sort of situation? It was a huge risk to use it!" Aporon scolded. "What if it was a Ground-type you were up against?"

"What if I used Tangela," I cheekily countered, "And it was a Fire-type I was up against?"

He paused, grumbling a bit at his logic being crushed. "Fine. But what was the deal with using Tangela here, when you knew his last Pokemon was going to be a Flying-type?"

"What if I didn't know?" If Lawrence hadn't told me, I wouldn't have known. "What if I had used Mareep and it couldn't get the job done against two strong foes after another?"

"But you did know."

"I know. And I knew Tangela could do it." I hadn't bothered to recall the Pokemon, and it thusly by my side. I gave it a pat on the head for a job well done.

Aporon's gone silent. I guess that means he's run out of things to complain about. Whatever reason he has to do so. Shrug. I walked away, and got a considerable distance from him, before I heard, "Do you really think you know as much as you think?"

I turned around to find him having caught up. Retaining my flippant and casual attitude, I replied, "Well, maybe I know some things that you don't."

"That's where you're wrong." And so the veil is pulled back once again, revealing the hideous guise beneath. Say whatever you want about this guy, but you could fill a black hole with his ego. "There is nothing that you have that I don't have."

"A girl in love with me?"

Aporon took a few steps back in complete shock, like I hit him with a brick.

"Ooo. Did I hit a nerve there?" Wow. Was not expecting he'd be so bothered by that. Let's ride it. "The most popular student in the school and it's so-called crown jewel. And he can't even find the right girl." I regret nothing. "The university's favored son. He can handle Pokemon well, but not the opposite sex. Hell, he has problems with the same sex. He let a subordinate get out of hand and can't wrangle another, both of which he damn well seems to need, because it seems to me he can't get anything done without a troupe of people to hide behi-"


I don't know what it is that I do, what David was referring to in the past about me being the only other person able to get under his skin to this extent. But it's there, and it's making him seethe. "You clearly didn't learn anything from the battle we had!"

Now that's not fair. I think I learned plenty. If it wasn't for that, I'd say I may not have gotten back into the groove enough to do well in this battle. Aporon took a deep breath to compose himself. He paced back and forth. We'd stepped away from things with our movements, yet were still managing to make a scene.

Aporon sighed, and leveled with me (in tone and posture). "Forget about that stuff. If you keep going the way you're going, you're going to lose the tournament!"

"Because I didn't use the Pokemon you were expecting in a couple battles?" Seriously. What else does he want from me? I don't get it. I added, "And who said I even cared about winning?"

He ignored my defiance this time. "But you do want to succeed as a battler, don't you? That's what this tournament is about! Not me! You!"

Standing strong.

"Westmyn," he stated, completely sincere (if harsh), "You're good. That's why I chose you to represent me. But you're not as good as you think you are." He thought for a moment, gave a nod, and stated, "I think you need a reality check."

I looked to Tangela, who seemed to be on the same page as me. "You want to go again?"

"No," he shook his head. "Someone else wants a shot at you." That someone else stepped out behind me. Clad in white clothing, her hair is in a single braid pulled over her shoulder to rest at the front. Her eyes are a deep violet, and adding an N to that word still keeps the description accurate. I had seen the embodiment of hot rage before, and now before me was a frigid one. A wicked malice had infested every facial muscle in the Ice Princess' body. Aporon looked to Elyna, and with a point of his finger, issued the threat.

"And I hope this time, you'll learn your lesson."
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Ok, great battle scene. I especially like the dialog before and after, basically I just like your dialog in general. Very nuanced according to the characters which really gives the characters so much depth. This is something I really need to work on, and you're the master at it.

West's skills during battle are evident. Really liked this chapter.
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