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Thread: ClicheStorm 2 (PG-13)

  1. #26
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    Chapter 5: The Stragglers

    April 11
    Aspertia

    The last few weeks of winter and the first weeks of spring into April were busy, although they were unable to leave Aspertia just yet. Rosa and Hugh had to focus hard on their studies, to get through them in time to qualify for the end-of-year exams early. The school and hospital officials came to an agreement not to worry about testing Nate until fall, to see if he needed to be enrolled in school. For now, he sat in on various classes and studied on his own, both to prepare for the journey ahead and to see if he could fix his mind further.

    Cheren was busy with finishing his own studies in Aspertia as well as serving some time in Lenora's Gym as one of its Trainers so that he could prepare to take over the position from her. The plan was for Lenora to shut down her Gym on April 20th and for Cheren to open his on the 21st. With that in mind, Nate, Rose, and Hugh started training their Pokemon at the start of April, out on Route 19, in hopes of being prepared to challenge Cheren when he started..

    This would not go as planned.

    It started early one Saturday morning. Hugh came into the kitchen, greeting Vino who was enjoying a sunny patch on the floor. At the dining table, his parents were watching the news and discussing about getting the house repainted. His sister was shuffling around in her slippers and pajamas still, checking the cupboards and the pantry. “Don't know what to have for breakfast?” he said, grabbed a bowl and spoon for come cereal.

    Violet shook her head. “No, I already ate. You're the one who's up late.”

    “At least I’m already dressed.”

    She shrugged and went back to digging past cans. “I wanted to do some baking, but I can't find any berries. I could make something else, but, I really wanted to try that poffin recipe Grandma sent us.”

    “I would help you with it, but it's not much of a poffin without berries,” their mother said. She worked at a restaurant a few blocks over, a job that kept her there for many hours. But she nearly always cooked or baked with Violet when she had a day off like today, something the girl looked forward to.

    That didn't seem like a big problem to Hugh. “I saw some berry bushes earlier this week out on the route. If we went out there now, we should be able to pick them.”

    Violet's eyes brightened. “Oh, will you take me out there?”

    “Of course, but not in your pajamas,” he told her.

    She laughed. “Okay, I’ll get dressed! Thanks, you're the best.” She then went back to her room.

    Their mother got up from the table. “That's great. Then I hope we can make one your Snivy will like. I'd better check the recipe and see how many you two should get.”

    An hour later, Hugh, Violet, and Vino left the house. Violet had brought a sun hat and a basket lined with a flower-patterned cloth with her. Although it was breezy, it was still a beautiful morning to be outside. “Are there berry bushes very far down Route 19?” Violet asked.

    “Not that far,” he said. “There's a ledge past the first patch of tall grass, and the bushes are growing just past that.”

    “That's good.” They walked quietly down the street for a couple of blocks, but then Violet smiled at some thought. “Hey, you know what? We should have a picnic out on Route 19 sometimes before you and your friends leave Aspertia. We won't get to do that this summer with all of you gone.”

    Picnics weren't exactly Hugh's idea of a good time. But his sister and Rosa liked them; they usually went up to the overlook, at most the side of the pond on Route 19. For Violet's sake, he could tolerate one more before getting down the serious business. “Sure thing. And if our parents don't mind, we might even take a day to go over to Flocessy for that. I hear they have a nice park.”

    “That'd be fun! I'll have to make a special lunch for that.”

    And that was another very good reason to go along with it. “Whatever you want to make. You might even get a taste for traveling doing that.”

    “Oh,” she clutched her basket tighter, looking down. “Well, it might be fun for you guys, but I’m not sure I want to travel like that. Maybe get another Pokemon but,” her voice trailed away as she spoke, but she must not have wanted to seem gloomy as she looked back up and tried to smile again. “Actually, I wanted to stay here when I get older, and learn to be a great chef like mom. I can make lots of people and Pokemon happy that way.”

    Even as she tried to put a brave face on it, Hugh still hated seeing her sad like that. He knew other guys his age that might gripe about girls her age, especially little sisters, as being annoying. Sometimes he did get annoyed at what she did, but he could never let that feeling stay. He needed to protect her and make her happy. Because after what happened a few years back, Hugh knew he couldn't forgive himself if he let her get hurt like that again. Yes, leaving her would make her a little sad initially. But in the end, she was trying to be happy for him and he wanted to redeem himself from his first big failure.

    To keep the morning from being too gloomy, he accepted her change of topic. “I'm sure you can. You make me happy any time you say that you're going to bake now.”

    Violet laughed. “I know, because you still try to eat things before they've properly cooled down. I swear, one of these days you're going to burn all the tastebuds on your tongue away permanently.”

    Hugh put on a look of mock horror. “That must be the worst fate ever! But some cookies just taste best hot from the oven.”

    “I can't imagine how that would be when they scorch your mouth.” But her smile let him know that she wasn't mad at him.

    Aside from fighting a few wild Pokemon on the way (Vino made short work of them), nothing much happened on their way to the berry patch. Violet went immediately to searching through the bushes for ripe berries, checking on how many of a kind there were before picking a bunch. Apparently the poffin recipe didn't need a lot of berries, but she wanted to try several varieties to see how they all were. Hugh tried to get Vino to pick out a berry he liked for his poffin, although the Snivy seemed not hungry and indifferent to most. He did try to pull a Nomel berry from a small bush hiding in back of the area, so Hugh pointed his sister out to that one.

    “Wow, I didn't think Nomel grew well around here,” she said, looking over the bush. “I wonder how these all got planted here. I hope they don't belong to someone else.”

    “I don't think anyone owns this land,” Hugh said.

    “Still... well, I might be able to get enough for one poffin.” She started picking through the branches.

    While she did that, Hugh continued to keep an eye on things. There was another kid who had come onto the Route to fight wild Pokemon with his own. Taylor, he thought it was. Probably the best battler for the kids under ten, but more because he kept his Lillipup despite his losses where other kids might release a Pokemon after a loss or two. It was a real shame that they'd give up on a Pokemon so soon, so Hugh rather liked Taylor. Once the kid actually thought about how and why he battled rather than just doing whatever because training Pokemon was a way to be cool, he might actually be a decent competitor. For now, it was hard to even call him talented.

    Then a man came out of Aspertia's gatehouse. He seemed quite odd because he was trying to be inconspicuous in an all too conspicuous manner. Wearing an outfit that covered him from head to toe in black or gray, with even a black scarf tied around his face and over his black hair, he might have done well in hiding if it were night and if he tried to stick to the shadows. Instead, he was here out in the sunny morning, walking openly along the route. Maybe he was just someone who liked to dress up in costume? But it seemed a strange time and place to be doing that.

    The man went over to Taylor and challenged him to a battle. That was fairly normal; Trainers often battled each other when they got close (especially if eye contact was made), which was part of why Hugh was staying out of the area Taylor was training in. On watching them, Hugh noted that the Patrat and Rattata that the would-be ninja had seemed quite strong. But they were still low level Pokemon, so it wasn't that exciting of a battle to be an audience of.

    At the end of it, though, things took a turn for the worse. The man had won, keeping his Rattata at his side. The Pokemon was still in a posture of readiness, waiting for an order to attack. “Face it: you're not worthy of being a Trainer,” the man said.

    “What a jerk,” Hugh muttered to himself. Sure, Taylor wasn't great, but he was just a kid. His efforts couldn't be brushed aside after a single loss, especially when he gave more effort than his peers.

    “I, I'm trying,” Taylor said, clutching his Pokeball to his chest and stepping back.

    “Trying is not enough,” the man said, coming towards him. “You and that Pokemon would be better off if you handed it over to me, so do that, right now.”

    Creeping alongside him, the Rattata made a threatening, if squeaky, call.

    “Hey, jackass!” Hugh snapped, stomping through the grass to get between the man and Taylor. “You've got no right to be doing that to anybody, especially not a kid! You're no better than those pompous idiots that were in Team Plasma.”

    “Don't you dare talk bad about us!” the man yelled, glaring at him. He then realized his mistake and tried clumsily to get past it. “I mean, Team Plasma. You can't even see the noble ways of us, I mean, them. You...” he struggled a bit to find his words.

    That just incited his anger further. “You're one of them? What hole did you crawl out of? Plasma's been dead for two years.”

    “Not dead, just...” he clenched his fist. “Whatever, Rattata, after him!”

    “Vino!” Hugh called.

    He didn't even have to call out an order. The Snivy bolted forward, catching the Rattata before it even got close, slamming it into the ground, and then hurling it with a backflip back at the would-be thief’s feet unconscious. It disappeared half a second later, and Taylor's Lillipup had taken care of the Patrat. Landing on his feet, Vino gave the Plasma grunt a threatening look, although not nearly as vicious as the one the Rattata had.

    Coming closer, Hugh felt like rearranging this guy's face. Normally the end of a Pokemon battle signaled the end of an argument, with no aggression continued. But to hell with politeness and decorum. If he was authentic, this guy and any others from Team Plasma didn't deserve that. “By your own logic, now you don't deserve to have those Pokemon you have,” he said. “So why don't you do as you say first and let your Pokemon go free? Then I have something I need to know from you.”

    “My duty to fulfill our mission is more important than that,” the man said. Then, he took off running to the east.

    Without even thinking about it, Hugh ran after him. “Hey, get back here!”

    “Hugh!” Violet called out, but he hardly paid attention. The members of Team Plasma had disappeared and gone into hiding after their downfall. This was his first real chance at a break in the case.

    -+-

    Rosa spotted Nate and Ruby coming out of the Pokecenter, so she stopped and waved to him. “Hey, Nate! Good morning!”

    “Good morning,” he said, sounding cheerful. “You heading out to train today too?”

    She nodded. “Yeah, I've got time for that, and to get my homework done tomorrow easily. Want to come with me? Maybe we can go further out today.”

    “That would be good,” he said, turned to walk north to the gate. Rosa followed beside him, with Bard going over to ask for a hug. Nate picked the Oshawott up and carried him. “I believe these two are getting too strong to get good experience nearby anymore. Although I wish I had the means to test their intrinsic talents better so that we knew where they would be naturally strong and weak, and then adjust their training around that.”

    Huh? Rosa tried to think through that, but it didn't sound right in her head. He spoke it like it was a natural thing. “What? You sound more like you're talking about a Pokemon video game, not actual training.”

    “Oh, well, I guess,” he said. In his arms, Bard also seemed puzzled. He took off his shell and tapped Nate in the forehead with it. “That's what I would have done before, but then they weren't this close,” He gently pushed away Bard's shell before patting his head and putting him down. Then Nate sighed.

    “No really, what is it?” Rosa asked. Sometimes he could be so moody. Sure, he was her friend, but at times like this she wondered how much she really knew about him.

    “You wouldn't believe me, just like the rest,” Nate said, shaking his head. “Don't mind it. To you, it's not that important anyhow.”

    “Aw come on, you don't know that,” she said, moving ahead so she could cut him off. “Just tell me what's bothering you.” When he still seemed uncertain, she added, “I trust you. No matter how weird it is, I'll believe you.”

    “You should be careful saying things like that,” he said. “We only met a few months ago, after all. You could get in real trouble believing in someone so blindly.”

    Rosa shrugged. “Maybe. But, I have a hunch. I don't think you'd lie to me.”

    At Nate's feet, Ruby looked up to him, then rubbed her head against his leg as a sign of support. He sighed again, then looked her straight in the eyes. “Rosa... I remembered more about where I came from. Actually, I knew some of it from the start, but then... the place I came from, there were no Pokemon. The only place you could find them were in video games. My mind got scrambled getting here, but when I remembered about Pokemon, it was what I had learned in those games, not with flesh and blood Pokemon like these two. Not only that, but the way I got here was through one of those games.”

    It was a crazy thing; the world was more complex than a video game, after all. But, she'd already said that she'd believe him, and he didn't seem to be lying. “Wow, so you already know what's going to happen because you're in a game you played before? That'll be helpful! That is, if you remember in time.”

    He shook his head. “Not quite that. The game wasn't one I've played. But when I hear of experience or levels, I'm more familiar with the numbers and formulas used in the game. I have no clue if those are reliable here.”

    “Yeah, you might want to be careful of that.” She noticed a boy run by from the gatehouse, but didn't pay heed to it. She tilted her head at Nate. “Well, that is pretty weird and I can see why the doctors and them all would think you were crazy. But if that's what you say, that's what I'll believe until there's proof otherwise.”

    “Thanks.” Nate said. “Do you think...?”

    “Rosa, Nate!” Violet came running from the gatehouse, looking scared. There was a basket of berries in her hand, but other than her expression she didn't seem hurt.

    “What happened?” Rosa said, turning to her friend. “You seem pale.”

    “It's Hugh, I'm worried,” she said, looking back to the gatehouse. “There was this man dressed all in black out there bullying Taylor, and he seemed to be from Team Plasma. He was even trying to take Taylor's Lillipup, but Hugh and Vino beat him, then they took off towards Flocessy chasing after him. I don't know if he really was a Plasma, but if he is, they used to never travel alone. Taylor said he was going to tell the police, but Hugh could be in trouble. I was taking a risk just coming back here alone because of the wild Pokemon, as I couldn't come with him.”

    “Hugh's good, but that would be trouble if he runs into a group like them,” Rosa said. Then she grabbed Nate's arm. “Come on, let's go after them! We can't waste time.”

    “But,” Nate started to say, but Rosa didn't wait to hear him argue against it. She ran to the gatehouse, with Bard soon in a hopping run to keep up with her. Nate and Ruby decided to run after them.

    “Be careful!” Violet called after them.

    Rosa ran through the gatehouse, avoiding crashing into a man watching the electronic bulletin. She then headed out on Route 19, taking a right to follow it to Flocessy. Thankfully, any wild Pokemon seemed to scatter on seeing them come through like that. But as they reached the cliff that stood just outside of Floccesy, Rosa slowed down. There weren't any signs of Hugh. How far ahead had they gotten? The road to the next town was a straight shot, but what about Flocessy itself?

    And it wasn't just that question bothering her. It was quite some distance between Aspertia and Flocessy; not as much as between other towns in Unova, but it had been maybe fifteen or even twenty minutes that she'd been running. It was a bit much; how much further could Hugh and the possible Plasma thief go? Hugh didn't lose his temper often, but Rosa could imagine how he would blow up at the guy.

    Nate and Ruby finally got up to her side. “That's the town ahead, right?” he asked. “We can ask around there if they've seen him. There isn't any other way to go, after all.”

    “Yeah. Sorry for running right off, but it's Hugh.”

    “It might have been good to think a moment, but as it is, we might still catch up to them,” Nate said in encouragement. That was cheering.

    “Hey kids!” a voice called from above. Looking up, they saw a man in a long yellow coat and wild red hair. “What's the commotion?.”

    “We're not sure,” Rosa called back. “But we're looking for a friend who probably just passed by here, chasing a man in black. Did you see them?”

    “Can't say that I have.” Then, the man jumped down off the cliff, even though it had to be twenty feet up at least; a Volcarona and Braviary followed him. “Something this way agitated one of my Pokemon, so I came to see. But it's not like I can understand them exactly.”

    Now that he was down here, Rosa recognized him. “Oh, Mr. Alder?”

    “Are you all right, old man?” Nate asked looking at him in disbelief.

    “Right as rain,” Alder said, smiling. “You're only as old as you feel, you know. And please, don't bother with the mister. Now you two,” he gave them a critical look, both the teenagers and the two Pokemon with them. “You're both Trainers, but novices at that. Did you just start out?”

    “Well, not really, but sort of,” Rosa said. “We've been doing some training, but we weren't going to start out from Aspertia until later. It's just...”

    “Our friend Hugh has gone after a man who tried to take a boy's Pokemon,” Nate interrupted. “We thought we'd catch up to them in this town.”

    He turned serious at that, nodding. “Is that so? I shouldn’t delay you then. Rather, I’ll ask around about them too. Come on.” With that, Alder waved to his two Pokemon and headed into town with them.

    “Who's that?” Nate asked in a quiet voice as they entered Flocessy.

    Rosa seemed surprised at the question, but then must have remembered what they had talked about earlier. “Oh, that's Alder; he was the League Champion of Unova for many years, off and on. He's so well respected that if something happens to the current Champion, he's the first one they ask to take over, always. I had heard that he lived around here, but I’ve never met him.”

    With Alder's help, they started talking to the townspeople. They could certainly confirm that Hugh and the thief had come through, but although the pair had spent some time running through town, they had already left. It didn't sound good, but in hopes of finding Hugh, the search continued onto Route 20. There, through some trees, Rosa heard some voices. “This isn't what we're supposed to be doing, that's what I’m saying,” a woman hissed.

    A man answered, sounding winded. “That punk... chased me... all the way... from Aspertia. We should do something...”

    Trying not to call attention to herself from the people talking, Rosa waved her hand high and got the attention of Nate and Alder. She then went between the trees carefully, trying not to make noise. The woman spoke again, getting louder. “But this? We shouldn't just change tactics on a whim.”

    And there, in a small opening on a footpath, was a man dressed all in black and gray, like Violet had said. With him were a woman dressed similarly and Hugh and Vino lying on the ground near them, not moving. The man of the pair was sitting on a stump “What was... I supposed to do? I tried every trick in the book and couldn't shake him. Since he's here, let's do it.”

    “And escalate this?” the woman said as Nate and Alder joined Rosa. “Honestly, recklessness got Team Plasma decimated and we don't need more of it. We'd do better just to take his Pokemon and leave him at this point.”

    “Call the emergency number to get some back-up here,” Alder said. After he gave a signal to his two Pokemon, he stepped out onto the pathway. “You'd do better to give up at this point,” he told them. “I’ve heard enough to know that you two are behind the recent string of Pokemon disappearances around here.”

    The woman tensed, clenching a fist. Then she glowered at the man. “We're not saying anything,” she said. “Except this: the two of us will not admit defeat, unlike a certain traitor long ago.”

    Oddly, Alder seemed to understand that. “You weren't there; I was. And I don't believe you understand the situation.” He had his Pokemon keep an eye on the two thieves, then checked on Hugh and Vino.

    It seemed like a bad end, Rosa thought, but as long as Hugh survived, it could still turn out all right.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  2. #27
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    @3D922: That was the first five minutes of the game, more or less! Minus the vision of Nate's, obviously.


    Chapter 5 is a mix of various events in the early game. Alder still jumps off of cliffs to get where he's going (sort of like I do in games where it's possible). That's part of his awesomeness. This game, he does that right as you meet him coming into the second town. He then invites you to his house, but then there's something you need to be doing (which comes into play later).

    I do not like Flocessy's name. It gave me such trouble learning to spell it, because I keep thinking 'floss'. And it kind of has that 'second town dullness' that most of the series has. There is stuff that happens in a nearby area, but not in the town of Flocessy itself. It's got a nice little clock-tower garden and Alder lives there.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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    Chapter 6: On the Trail of a Missing Legend

    April 11
    Flocessy Town

    The police wanted to ask them questions, but they did get Hugh and Vino sent to the hospital and Pokecenter respectively first. Rosa didn't feel like they'd done much. But, maybe they had acted fast enough to save them from something worse, like Hugh losing Vino. Once the interviews were done, there was a surprise when Alder invited them to his house to talk for a little while.

    Alder's house was warm and sunny, decorated with fabrics of bright colors and patterns. But it was all natural and not overwhelming, a kind of style that had originated in a region southwest from here. He offered to share lunch with them, chatting while cooking up some sausage, peppers, and onions. Rosa and Nate helped out a little while their Pokemon got acquainted with the ones Alder kept around.

    “Do you think those two were really from Team Plasma?” Rosa asked as she finished up with the onion. “Because I thought they'd broken up two years ago.”

    “They're likely stragglers who have evaded capture, but are still stuck in the past,” Alder said. “Although there aren't many, they aren't the only ones. Most of the organization is either serving sentences or living with rehabilitation support. Plasma looked harmless on the outside for a long while, but inside they had a ruthless core that damaged a good many of their members as well as those on the outside. A lot of them had no idea what to do when things fell apart because it had taken over their lives.”

    Taken over their lives? The Plasma members had seemed on the fanatical side, and they were hard to understand. “That sounds bad, and tough on them,” she said. “I didn't think they were hurting themselves.”

    “There were a few very corrupt members that hurt everyone else, taking advantage of their belief in the group,” Alder said.

    “What did they meant about a traitor?” Nate asked, thinking as usual. “And, you were there when they fell apart?”

    Alder nodded. “Of course; it's pretty well known, some parts of the story at least.”

    “I'm not from around here,” he explained, rubbing his head. “And, I’ve been dealing with some kind of brain damage, so I really don't know.”

    “Sorry to hear about that,” Alder said. “A kid like you shouldn't be dealing with something like that. It's a long story, but if you'd like to know...”

    “Yes, it's important to why I’m here, I believe,” Nate said.

    The former Champion looked him over again, then smiled and turned back to stir-frying the vegetables. “If you're serious about finding answers, I don't mind sharing them. As I said, it's a long story and I don't know all of it, but... there was a young man in charge of Team Plasma. He had been a few years older than the two of you now, but his life had been carefully controlled by the more malicious members of Plasma. But even living under such a corrupted influence, he was a good person of a pure innocent heart. And there aren't many that I'd describe that way; he really was something special.

    “Part of their plan was for him to travel around Unova gathering Gym Badges, for reputation in the public eye and proof of his dedication to his cause. On that journey, he met with many people, including myself, that opened his eyes to his real ideals, and the truth behind his situation. It was difficult for him to accept this, but eventually he did.”

    “Oh, you're talking about when Hilda, Hilbert, and Reshiram defeated N and Zekrom?” Rosa asked. “We told Nate about that.”

    Alder nodded. “That was what happened. That defeat was something he couldn't fool himself with, and he accepted it with grace. I think relief too, as the doubt caused by his inconsistencies were cleared up when he accepted that he didn't have to go as far as to separate humans and Pokemon. That is what the stragglers from Plasma would consider a betrayal, I believe. But, the real betrayal was just after that, when Ghetsis, the one who had been manipulating N, lost his temper at that defeat and took it out on him. I didn't see that myself, but I heard about the aftermath of it on N; it had been a deep blow psychologically, but even so, he had real friends to help him and he'd matured enough that it didn't cripple him entirely.”

    “I hadn't heard all about that, but I only saw what was on the news,” Rosa said. “Bianca told us some of it a while ago, because Nate's trying to find Hilda. She had something to do with why he's here now...” she looked to her friend, whose mind seemed to be wandering again. “Although we're not sure why. It's a weird situation.”

    “It's starting to sound that way,” Alder said. “You're after Hilda? I hope you can find her; it's a shame that she managed to disappear and nobody realized it until too late. She had a lot of friends and talked with many of us often.”

    “She was here,” Nate said, still with his mind off in space or something. “She came here to see you... the week before she disappeared.” He looked over at Alder. “What did she talk with you about?”

    “She saw me that soon before she was gone?” Alder asked. “Well...” he paused, focusing on making lunch for a few moments before answering, “I don't think it was anything important, but I remember that. It was... in June, early June. I might be able to pin down a date if I look at some things. When she was here...”



    Hilda seemed energetic as usual, even though she'd lost the Championship a few days ago. “Iris and her Pokemon did a great job, and I held onto the title for a year,” she explained, taking the moment to brush her Cinccino's long fur. “And I had more challenges than you did your last year, so I'm pretty happy with it. Of course, about a quarter of them were from Cheren before he got all serious about school.”

    “He's still improved a lot,” Alder said. “I think he can make it.”

    “Yeah, me too.”

    “Then what are your plans now?” he asked. Curious about it, he added, “I've heard a rumor that you can understand Pokemon clearly like N did. Make use of that?”

    Hilda shrugged. “I can understand them, because of a gift. I thought about using it while we were working on undoing the damage done with Plasma's propaganda, but I’ve been holding off on letting a lot of people know. Maybe I’ll do research someday by talking to Pokemon and hearing out their side of things, to report to everyone else. But not now. I want to keep traveling, all over the world! There's so many neat sights and places I'd like to see.”

    Hearing that reminded him of traveling the world in his younger days. It had been great, an experience he'd never forget. “That's a great thing to do when you're young. You can get a lot of insight into the world by seeing it in different places.”

    “Yeah,” she said, although not quite as excited as he expected. “The thing is, I can't leave Unova right now, so I can't get myself all excited about it quite yet.”

    “Why not? You don't have responsibilities to stay.”

    “Actually, I do,” she said, glancing over at Kyurem, who was looking through a book nearby. “N and Hilbert are still out of the region with Zekrom and Reshiram and until they return, Kyurem needs to stay. And I don't want to leave him to that himself right now.”

    “Things are quiet, but until we know what happened to Ghetsis, I don't want to leave even for a little while,” Kyurem said. “You may as well tell him about Keldeo.”

    She nodded. “Right! Since we're free now, we're going to explore around and see if we can't figure out where Keldeo is. The other three defenders and Meloetta still say that they can feel his presence but haven't encountered or heard from him in the past two years. As he's a native to Unova, Kyurem can sense Keldeo too, but can't pinpoint him either until we come close to each other.”

    “This would be a good time to focus on that,” Alder agreed. “Actually, there's a place just a few minutes walk close to here that is important to him, and the other three. Would it help if you went there?”

    “Possibly,” Kyurem said.

    “It'd be neat to see,” Hilda added.



    “I didn't notice anything wrong with them at the time,” Alder said. “So that was the week she disappeared? How do you know?”

    Nate had his hand on his forehead. “I remember something she had told me, just now. But it wasn't much, most importantly that.”

    “Are you okay?” Rosa asked, worried that he might have another headache.

    “Mostly,” he said, putting his hand down. “Don't worry. That place you showed her, mind if we go see it?”

    “No trouble to me,” Alder replied. “We can go after lunch.”

    When they were done eating and making some quick clean-ups, Alder led Nate and Rosa to a small almost hidden trail that ran alongside his house. One way seemed to lead to the ledge they had first seen him on, but the opposite way went into the woods north of Flocessy. It was a nice area, leading to a really beautiful meadow in the woods. The spring wildflowers were going nuts here, making the green of the grass almost hard to see. Tall trees blocked out sight and sound of the town. With some wild Pokemon playing at one end of the meadow and others singing and calling in the trees, it was a surprising example of nature's beauty.

    But it wasn't just the pretty setting that set this meadow apart. Across from the path, there was a massive boulder standing alone. At twenty feet high and with steep sides, it didn't seem like something that'd be easy to climb. There were four large marks on the side of the boulder facing the path, marks that seemed strangely like the cuts of very sharp swords in a crisscrossing pattern. But these marks were so large that it couldn't be any ordinary sword to mark it like that.

    “Wow, I didn't think the rock would be this big!” Rosa said, running over to touch it. The lowest point of the slashes came to her eye level.

    “It's been here for thousands of years,” Alder said. “They've proven it with dating the material recently. But the part that's only legend for certain, maybe real... it is said that at this place, Reshiram and Zekrom acknowledged three great heroes who were Pokemon. They raised up these three to become fellow guardians of the land, Virizion, Terrakion, and Cobalion. The three swore an oath to protect the Pokemon of Unova by slashing the rock with their newfound power. Sometime later, the three of them were joined by a fourth swordsmon, Keldeo, who had helped with rescuing many Pokemon from a massive fire that had been started by humans during a war.

    “That incident caused the original three to turn against humans and for a time, they led a war against us. But the twin dragons forced a truce, allowing Virizion, Terrakion, and Cobalion to set aside certain places to be for Pokemon alone. The three swordsmons have guarded these places ever since and are rarely seen by humans. But the fourth, Keldeo... he was never bitter against humans. He took to traveling through Unova, still following the oath he swore by adding a fourth mark here. He would defend weaker Pokemon from whatever endangered them, but he avoided using his skills against humans as much as he could. And then in recent years, there was an incident...”

    When he trailed off, Rosa turned to them. Alder had come up by the boulder, but Nate seemed to be half listening and half looking around the meadow. Interested, she asked, “What kind of incident? I heard that something had happened to Keldeo. I remember when Cheren and Hilbert came to Aspertia to talk to Tornadus about it. But I didn't hear much but rumors after.”

    “Meloetta had been kidnapped and sold to a genetic scientist, then Keldeo was captured trying to rescue her,” Alder said, looking up at the rock. “His powers as an immortal were stolen from him. They were held captive in an area of the Virbank Complex for twenty-five years. Those two boys did rescue them, but then it took an even stranger turn when Keldeo was taken by... a mysterious but powerful stranger. Hilda said that the other legendaries of Unova can feel the presence of his power again, but don't know where he is. Maybe her disappearance is linked to his.”

    Feeling hopeful, Rosa smiled. “Oh, so if we find one of them, we might find the other. Isn't that great, Nate?”

    But Nate seemed to be overtaken by a strange mood, like when he had been on the overlook. He had been asking about this and Alder had said no one was sure what happened, but Nate now spoke as if he was experiencing a strong memory. “Keldeo was missing for twenty-five years, only to be found and lost again. They still sense him because he was sent back in time by that stranger to be reborn around fifteen years ago ago. But the new one's power was buried deep, only to start budding when the old one was freed, so it was always hidden, barely in the open now.”

    And then he kept talking.



    Lightning broke through the darkness, illuminating an empty field in a forest. A boulder with slashes crisscrossing it stood at the edge of the small opening. Thunder rumbled the trees, and then a second bolt of lighting struck. This time, there were two figures standing before the rock.

    Keldeo backed off, still growling. His mind was hazy and it was slow to think through things. But in the smell of this person, he found something that he did not trust. Some instability, some corruption... linked to an incredible amount of power that would be difficult to tame even with a stable mind. Normally in a rain like this, he would be at his most alert. Maybe he even was now. But the strangely aged body he was in slipped in the mud, making his stance weak.

    “You really have been ruined, so now you must not trust anyone,” the person said. He looked human, but couldn't be human. The lightning glared off his green ponytail, as well as the white and black scales on his arms. Although it was dark and raining, he brought out a device and placed a Pokeball in it. “But why would you trust him? Is it just because he was one of the ones who rescued you? From what I know, he was only seeking glory.” The device clicked and the Pokeball went inactive.

    Without any more warning, Keldeo felt a sharp sickness in his body. The disorientation was enough to make him collapse into the mud, struggling to breathe. Whatever the Pokeball technology did, it had been supporting him in a way that was gone now.

    The young man gasped and dropped down onto his hands and knees, ignoring the mud getting on him. “Keldeo? What happened. Oh, you're still weakened. But I can do something about that.” He raised his hands over Keldeo, a green glow appearing beneath him. “I just hope this doesn't go wrong... I want to set something right for once. I'll restore your power.”

    And his energy changed, bringing back a familiar power that brought clarity and depth into his mind. Keldeo looked up and wondered what was going on. Why had he been depowered, and who was this person repowering him? He could recall Meloetta sitting by him, holding his head in her lap and hugging him. Everything else...

    He didn't have time to consider it all, as this body could no longer support him. He died physically, but his spirit emerged, still healing. But could that process be completed like this? Uncertain of what else to do, Keldeo submitted himself to the mercy of the world. There were powers greater than his, and they would guide him in the right direction.



    Like before, Nate's speech ended in pain for him, making him close his eyes tight and cover his eyes. But Rosa and Alder had already come over to him. “Careful, don't hurt yourself,” Alder said, taking his arm.

    “Did one of those premonitions happen again, Nate?” Rosa asked.

    “Ugh, what was I talking about?” Nate asked in a strained voice.

    “He should still have some medicine from the hospital for this,” she told Alder.

    The older man nodded. “Good. Let's bring him back to my house; I can spare a room for him.”

    Back at Alder's house, they put Nate in a guest room; Rosa found his medicine while Alder closed the curtains to block out the sun. Ruby was determined to stay with him, and neither of them would deny the Tepig that. “Thanks for watching over him,” Rosa said to Alder later on. “I'll let the people taking care of him know that he's here, but I’d really better get back to Aspertia to talk to Hugh's family, if they don't know yet.”

    “It's no trouble,” Alder said. “But when you two are closer to heading out, you might want to stop by again. I might have some things to let the two of you know.”

    “Sure,” she said, smiling. But, there was something on her mind. “Although with what happened today... do you think it's possible that Nate is actually Keldeo?”

    “What makes you think that?” he asked, with interest instead of doubt.

    Rosa put her hand to her cheek. “Well, it's a weird story, but... you know a bit of it already. Nate showed up in Aspertia back in December, with a really scrambled memory and intelligence. He even forgot almost entirely about Pokemon, but then turned out to know a whole lot about them. The doctors thought it was an accident with Teleport, and that might be part of his current problems. But even though he doesn’t remember much, he knew right off that he was supposed to find and help Hilda somehow. Now we know that she was looking for Keldeo when she disappeared, so maybe she found him but something else happened. I don't know. But what he just remembered, who else would know about it other than Keldeo and that mysterious person?”

    “Hmm... it's a possibility. We know that the legendary Pokemon can take human forms if they choose, and if he's been like this the past fifteen years as he suggests, that would explain why nobody could find him.” Then Alder shrugged. “But it's just a theory now. Are you going to help your friend with his search for Hilda and himself?”

    She nodded. “Of course. I haven't known him for long, but I still want to help him.”

    “That's good. But don't let him know of this theory of ours just yet. Wait until he remembers for himself. If seeing the rock triggered memories, then other places around Unova might trigger more.”

    “That's the plan!” Rosa said, feeling optimistic. While this theory didn't explain why he talked about playing Pokemon video games and recalled entering this world through one, the idea seemed compelling. It could even link back into what he saw at the overlook, as he would feel a natural affinity to water (thus receiving the sign as a forgotten truth).

    It could almost be anything as it was now.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  4. #29
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    I dunno about it being anything, Rosa, but it could be a lot of possibilities.

    More stuff that doesn't happen in game. Well, you can get to Pledge Rock, although there's not much to do unless you have Keldeo. So what is going on with Nate? You'll just have to read on and see.

    You might recognize who shows up in that flashback with Keldeo. He's got a very particular description. Also, there's some more info on what happened to Hilda. Not enough to say much about yet, but this is part of my trying to smooth out the uneven pacing of this game's plot.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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    whaaaaaaaaaat

    Did you just suggest that Nate could be Keldeo? Just....argh

    Can't wait for the next chapter either way, keep it up!

    Check out the forum World Beyblade Organization! It's a huge forum with over 85,000 members dedicated to the hobby of Beyblading! You can sign up here!

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    Yay, Clichestorm! More conspiracy theories... I wont even attempt to connect the dots. I'll just wait for the next chapter.
    I have:
    Platinum
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    White 2

    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

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    So. More conspiracies. Nate is Keldeo? Inserted psychic visions? previously unkown psychic potential? If he was Keldeo then he would have been transported outside the series... Of course, it's possible that Alder and Rosa are merely drawing incorrct conclusions.

    And wow. Haven't commented on this in a while.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

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    Chapter 7: Creepy Sunkern Eyes

    April 14
    Aspertia

    It was a foggy morning when Nate knocked on the door to Rosa's house. He looked for a moment at the windchime nearby. Structured like a double helix, it had two golden spirals each holding onto a number to thin metal chimes. In the center, there was a golden chain with several prismatic crystals along it. It was quite pretty with a delicate sound.

    Rosa's mother answered the door. “Good morning, Nate,” she said, opening the door for him. “Come on in for a little while. You too, Ruby.”

    “Thanks,” he said, giving a small wave as he came in. “I came to meet up with Rosa here so we could head out together.”

    She nodded. “Sure; she's in her room at the moment getting things today. Rosa, Nate's here!”

    “Okay!” she called. “I'll be there in a bit.”

    She chuckled. “She said she was ready last night, so hopefully she won't be long. I do have something I want to give you before you head out. Here you are Nate.” She handed over a box.

    The blue and gray cover surprised him. Was it really that? He opened up the box and found a new Xtransceiver inside, a black and gray model that seemed masculine in design. “Really, are you sure about this? I hope it didn't cost a lot.”

    “Don't worry about it,” Janine said. “I’m sure it will be valuable to you, not only in making calls but also in keeping track of your Pokemon and many other things. I've got it connected to our account so it was practically free; I just made sure to put on some apps that are useful to Trainers. Activate it and we'll make sure my number and Rosa's are in the address book.”

    While they were checking it out, Rosa came in with her travel bag. Bard was riding along on her shoulder. “Oh hey, like your present?” she asked, coming over to sit with them. “I need to get your number in mine, in case we get separated or something.”

    “Sure, this will be a big help,” Nate said, shifting through the screens so he could find his number. “Are you ready to head out?”

    “Yeah!” she said, followed by an equally excited cheer from her Oshawott. “I mean, we're not really heading out yet, but it's the start. Bye Mom; we'll be seeing you in a week.” She then hugged her Mom.

    “See you then, dear,” Janine said.

    On her other shoulder, Bard crowed, “Eeee shoo!” and blew a kiss at Janine.

    She laughed. “Thank you Bard; I'll miss you too. You two watch out for each other, and be sure to treat your Pokemon well.”

    “We will,” Nate said, ending up with a hug from Janine as well. Then they headed out of the house to trek across Aspertia to Route 19.

    A block away, they came across Violet pacing around in front of her home. She acted surprised when Rosa greeted her, then came up to them. The fog swirled with the movement of everyone. “Oh, are you two headed out?” Violet asked. “Could I ask a favor of you?”

    “Sure, what is it?” Rosa asked. Although she'd do whatever Violet asked without needing anything in return. The two girls often helped each other and just because she was leaving was no reason to stop.

    Violet smiled. “Thanks. I was going to make sure Hugh had a map of Unova on his Xtransceiver, but I thought he'd stick around to say goodbye this morning. But, he was gone well before the rest of us were up. Here, you two can both have a copy too.”

    “I don't remember if I got that,” Rosa said, turning on her Xtransceiver to check. “But sure, if we have it, we'll make sure he does too.”

    “Great!” As it turned out, Nate's new model did have the map on it, as part of the app package he had gotten with it. But Rosa's didn't, so she got it from Violet's. They could transfer it to Hugh when they caught up with him. “I hope you get some more great Pokemon to travel with.”

    By the time they reached Flocessy again, the fog had thinned greatly. Flocessy was an oddly mixed town. There were modern apartments that housed many who worked in Virbank or even Castelia, but there were also older houses like Alder's which were a motley collection of many styles and fashions. In the middle of town, there was a large park with a showy flower garden and a squat stone monolith that had a clock face on each side.

    In the northern part of town, up a large set of stairs that led to a higher plateau, they found Alder outside his house, running his Pokemon through some exercises in his front yard. “Hello!” Rosa called out. “How's it going?”

    He gave them a big smile and a friendly wave as they stopped by the fence surrounding his yard. “Hello, you two. It's going just fine. You doing all right? How about your friend?”

    Rosa lifted herself on the edge to the fence. “We're good; we're heading out for a few days to work with our Pokemon before Cheren opens up his Gym. Hugh's much better, although he took off before us.”

    Alder had come over to the fence by them; the gate was already open. “Well that's good news to hear. I heard some news about the two thieves we caught then. Like I thought, they seem to be former Plasma members working on their own. They were plotting on disrupting Trainers in this area to continue their work. Once word got around, I heard of other young Trainers who had been pressured by them to give up training. But with them out, that should be over with.”

    “Well it's good to know they were stopped,” Rosa said.

    “Right, that's the important thing. Well since you're here, why don't you stay for the morning?” Alder winked. “Might even learn something new while you're at it.”

    “Sure, that'd be great!” Rosa said, dropping back onto the ground. After all, Alder was recognized throughout Unova as a master among Trainers even when he wasn't officially with the Pokemon League. Anything he had to teach would certainly be valuable. She entered the yard with Nate.

    “Just don't put your expectations too high,” Alder said, walking back to the center of the yard with them, where his Bouffalant was standing and chewing on grass. “Many of the secrets to good training can be summed up simply to never forget the basics and always treat your Pokemon with love.” He looked back to them, watching Bard on Rosa's shoulder and Ruby walking beside Nate. “And just looking at your two Pokemon like this, I can tell you're taking good care of them. They're nice and alert, trusting you a great deal already.”

    “Alder,” Nate said, in his serious tones again, “they seemed to start very trusting and caring. Is this common? Because I hardly had Ruby with me for ten minutes when I had one of those headaches, and she was concerned enough that she stayed by my side and wouldn't return to her Pokeball until I told her that it was gone. I'm not sure how she could have connected with me so quickly.”

    “Well you are right in that it was quick with you two,” Alder said. “Most Pokemon will want you to prove yourself before putting full trust in you as their Trainer. But then, she might be a highly caring individual and there are some times when a Pokemon and human will connect almost immediately because their personalities mesh well.”

    Nate looked down at Ruby; in Rosa's opinion, Ruby smiled back as she wagged her tail. “I really do appreciate her being like that,” Nate said, his voice warm now.

    “It's good to be friends with them,” Alder said. “But there's a lot more to it than just that. Have you two battled each other yet?”

    “Oh, no we haven't,” Rosa said. “I hadn't thought about doing that.”

    He nodded and stepped back, pointing them to the yard. “Then how about you give it a try? I can revive whichever Pokemon falls, so don't be afraid for them. And mine will be polite and just watch.”

    “Are you okay with that?” Rosa asked Nate.

    He nodded and headed away to face her. “Right. People have told me that it is traditional for Pokemon Trainers to battle each other, to get to know each other. And we know that we're here to help each other, so it's fine. Right Ruby?”

    “Gru ta!” the Tepig replied happily, briefly hopping up on her hind legs.

    On the other end of the field Bard whirled around, flinging his shell up into the air and catching it as he stopped. “Shaaa!”

    Alder laughed at that with them. “Good to know they're friends as well. On your mark, ready?” He glanced at both of them and on seeing their nods, he swept his arm out dramatically. “Begin!”

    -+-

    Pinwheel Forest

    “Another win, good,” he mumbled, making some notes on his tablet.

    “Yeah, well I was going easy on you,” the teenaged boy who had faced him insisted.

    “Much to the contrary, I think,” he said, taking a moment to heal up one of his Pokemon. Then he swapped out the Magnemite for his Elgyem. “Now, mind if I ask you a few questions about how you work with Pokemon?”

    The boy gave him a quizzical look. “What, so are you one of the quiz people? Who are you?”

    He tapped his stylus against the tablet. “My name is Colress, and I'm a scientist. Asking questions is a basic foundation of acquiring knowledge. Now then, how often do you speak to your Pokemon outside of battle?”

    Showing himself to not be of a scientific mind, the boy did not seem to recognize any significance in the question. But at least he answered it. “Outside of battle? I tell them how they're doing in training, but you don't need any more.”

    “Mmhmm,” Colress acknowledged getting the answer and tapped 'Seldom' on his form. “Do you keep your Pokemon outside of its ball when not battling or training them?”

    He snorted. “No, that's just for girls and sentimentalists.”

    Such a boorish answer, indicative of a narrow-sighted person. “Must hold on to the pretense of masculinity, is that it? If it suits you. No, that wasn't a question on the list. Do you give your Pokemon items or boosters to make them stronger?”

    “No, those are scams,” he replied. “I knew a guy who was cheated out of nearly ten thousand Poke for a cheaply made accessory that hardly did anything. I ain't a fool.”

    “Caution can be a wise course,” Colress said, writing down 'nothing' for all item and booster related questions. “Okay then... how often do you train your Pokemon? I'd prefer an hours per week rating, if you can guess your average.”

    “Uh...” he thought about it. “Well I have a part-time job and I’ve stuck with school rather than going on a self-study route. I guess about eight hours a week? Cause I do a little training in the evenings, but mostly on off days like this.”

    “All right,” he said, marking the third lowest group. As he was finding things, that still put this guy in the casual Trainer group. “Is there anything particular about your training routine?”

    “Most Trainers don't like revealing their secrets,” the boy said, frowning.

    Colress waved away that concern. “Most 'secret' methods are really no different from what is commonplace. But if you're really touchy about it, a general idea of how you go about things will be fine.”

    “Oh, in that case, I mostly battle wild Pokemon and Trainers around here.”

    “Nothing really special,” Colress murmured as he checked off one of the boxes that didn't require extra notes.

    “What'd you say?” the boy asked, unsure if he should feel insulted.

    “It's for the sake of science,” he said. “Nothing personal. How do you choose which Pokemon to use on your team?”

    “I just take ones I like from around here.” After giving a moment of extra thought, he shrugged. “I mean, if one of mine is losing too much, I’ll let it go and look for another one. I'm not one of those jerks who keeps Pokemon in digital boxes. I learned about that mistake a couple of years back.”

    Colress tapped his stylus against his chin before starting on notes. Novice mistakes there, but he was finding them to be extraordinarily commonplace. Hearing that Team Plasma had indeed influenced the way people in Unova thought about Pokemon, even in such a small way... well, he hadn't been a part of them back then, but it would still help even with the re-aimed efforts.

    “I think I get the picture,” Colress told the boy. “Thank you for the battle, and for answering my questions. It's been useful.”

    “Right, I hope so,” the boy said before heading off. “Weirdo,” he added, in a voice he probably thought couldn't be overhead.

    Colress put his hand against his ear; of course he heard, he was wearing an earpiece that amplified and filtered sounds, as well as eyeglasses that could record and magnify what he saw. The insult didn't bother him. For his whole life, he had been set apart thanks to his intelligence and thought patterns. Since he understood that as well as why others would be jealous, their attempts at stings meant nothing.

    In fact, he was more concerned about the interview results. He caused his computer to replay parts of the battle on the tablet. “Unsurprising answers from him,” he said to himself. “With no attempt to strengthen his Pokemon and little effort into their training, combined with switching those that lose battles, he will never be a strong Trainer.”

    “Beh,” the Elgyem said, shaking his large head.

    “Exactly.” Colress added the recorded battle and the interview to his files, then checked on how his sorted experimental groups were coming along. “At this rate, I'll have hardly anyone outside the team in the set that trains battling Pokemon with an emphasis on socializing with them. I would have thought there'd be more of them out here, but those I’m finding that do the socializing are among the most casual battlers. That won't give me enough data.”

    The Elgyem came over and touched his shoulder. “Lessa shei ai.”

    “Now if only they really had translators,” he grumbled. Then he looked to the Pokemon. “Yes, I'm socializing with you, but I’ve already told you, science is not firm unless there is a wide range of data available. I suppose I could track down the current Champion and interview her. It may be a rumor, but it may be true... a girl who knows the heart of dragons... but I’d prefer to see a more novice Trainer of the right qualities. That way, I could follow the rise and fall of all of the case studies outside of the team set over current time.”

    But to get more cases, going to interview the Champion seemed a decent enough idea. And since his approach wasn't entirely scientific (as he was simply traveling around and battling others to find subjects), he might still find the right Trainer for the case study. He just hated that it had to rely on luck.

    -+-

    Once Ruby was healed up and released back onto the yard, Bard went over and hugged her, startling her again. “Oshooo...”

    “They're both of the same level, and you're both of the same level as Trainers,” Alder said. “So you know what went on?”

    “I was using only Tackle, so Bard was doing damage the whole time?” Rosa asked.

    Nate crossed his arms over his chest. “The field was uneven because Water trumps Fire and I know Bard has a Water type move. She gave me a chance by not ordering it, but I was playing cautious and took one round too many of having Ruby reduce Bard's defense.”

    “Well yeah, we could have won with Water Gun,” Rosa said. “But I didn't think that was fair.”

    “It's not that it's unfair, as it's a viable tactic that most Trainers would take advantage of,” Alder said. “You were going easy on him. Although doing that would have cut down the amount of the fight I could watch, so that was some help with seeing how you two are. Don't be afraid to use natural advantages. An unfair fight would be if you had used one of the training methods that are illegal within the Pokemon League, such as Pokeball data manipulation and overworking the Pokemon by too much training. But Nate does have the right idea. At this stage, neither of you has a lot to work with in your Pokemon and how you can train them, so simple things like typing can win or lose a battle. But you also need to judge how much risk to take with things such as stat reducing; he could have won if Ruby got a chance to attack back. In time, you may be able to trump the type system through other means, although it will remain important.”

    Rosa felt a little embarrassed. “Oh, so it'll be better now to fight at our natural best no matter what? Okay.”

    “We were planning on getting some more Pokemon on this trip,” Nate said. “Is there a place ahead that'd be good for that?”

    Alder considered it. “You two were working on the Pokedex project, right? In that case, it'll help you most to look everywhere. But beyond that, you can head down that road to route 20. Follow it around the pond there; it's a bit of a pain, but well worth it as then you can reach Flocessy Ranch. I've heard of and seen all sorts of Pokemon around there, so it'd be a good place to expand your team. Trainers gather there too, so it should help you greatly.”

    “That sounds like a fun place,” Rosa said. A ranch... did they keep work Pokemon around? What kind of things did they ranch? Were there any cowboys? It'd be fun to look around. “Thanks Alder! You've been a big help.”

    “Just doing what's right, helping out you young Trainers,” Alder replied, waving them off. “You two have a good time, and take good care of your Pokemon.”

    “Of course, thank you,” Nate said, waving back. With that, they headed off to route 20 and the ranch.

    -+-

    As it turned out, Route 20 was a pain because of how the land lay around the pond. There were a pair of ledges on the side of the water going up about eleven feet total in a way that would be hard to climb up. With that was a slope going completely around the pond to meet with the ledges at the top. And the pond itself was a good three acres across. There was also the wooded area to the south of the route, where they had encountered the two Plasma thieves.

    Fortunately, there were patches of tall grass all along the slope, giving them plenty of opportunities to catch Pokemon. Unfortunately, many that they saw were of the Grass type. Nate caught one, mostly to register it fully with the Pokedex. “It's a Sunkern,” he told Rosa. He read over the status screen on his Xtransceiver. While it didn't give numerical stats, he found that looking at the status screen could jog his memory and give him numerical stat tables from when this had all been a game. Quietly wondering why he had memorized such data, he added, “Not very strong, but I suppose people might like it.”

    Rosa was crouched down in a patch of shorter grass, still a bit pale. “It's absolutely creepy,” she said with a shudder. “Didn't you even look at it? It was a big sprouted seed with big soul-sucking eyes and a slim little mouth. That's just... it shouldn't be natural!”

    “Careful what you shout around here,” Nate said. “Maybe you don't like them, but you'll hurt the Pokemon's feelings.”

    She put her head down, sighing. Then she got up. “Okay, okay. I'm sorry! Just, let's not team up... maybe we should move to the ranch.”

    Later on he could come out here to register a few more Pokemon. Although, he was going to have to find a way to earn more money, at the rate he was going through Pokeballs for this project. “All right. Let's go.”

    “Finally,” Rosa said in a soft voice, then took a deep breath and headed back into the grass. They got most of the way through this patch when a Pokemon jumped out at her, making her squeak and trip backwards onto her butt. Then she got a good look at the one that had startled her; it made her smile. “Hey, look at that cutie! It's a Bug Pokemon, I'm pretty sure. Bard!” She got back onto her feet.

    Nate paused and looked at the Pokemon she had her eye on. At first, he just saw a number of green leaves wrapped close together. It made him wonder if he was seeing the right one. But then it reared up, showing a yellow insect head and four of six legs. So it was a Bug. Maybe she had an eye on it because it could combat the Grass types she was afraid of. Although, Nate hoped that wasn't the only reason.

    It wasn't long before Rosa threw a Pokeball at the Bug. Unlike the Sunkern which had taken three Pokeballs and some coaxing, this Pokemon accepted being caught in one try. Rosa clapped and ran over to get the Pokeball. “It's a Sewaddle!” she said happily, looking over the status screen. Then her mood plummeted. “Uuhhh...”

    “What is it?” Nate asked, although he felt that he knew what.

    “She's a Bug and Grass type,” she said, now uncertain. “I mean, I knew it had leaves, but it seemed like it was wearing them instead of growing them. But what if it gets more leafy when it grows? Then it might be spooky.”

    He came closer to her. “Then how about you give her a try, at least for a little while? You know, if you're going to be a traveling Trainer, you can't freak out every time there's a Grass Pokemon around. I mean, Hugh has one, and lots of Trainers on the way will also have them. And this one is only half-Grass. You could work on that while training her.”

    Rosa still looked nervous. “Um, I guess that might work. I don't know... I always thought that I'd never train a Grass Pokemon. But then there will be a lot out there. I try to be nice around Hugh and Vino...”

    “Give her a try, just a few days,” he encouraged her. “What'll you nickname her? Make it something nice that you wouldn't be afraid of.”

    She looked at the Pokeball again. “Maybe a few days. Um... I'll call her Angel. Angels can't be bad.”

    So with Ruby, Bard, and Angel along, plus a few Pokemon that Nate was thinking of releasing once he got them healed up, he and Rosa arrived at Flocessy Ranch. A tall wooden arch greeted them, leading into a fenced in area where the land had been cleared. Past a second fence, there were a number of woolly Pokemon that had yellow heads and tails tipped with sparking blue orbs. The name Mareep came into Nate's head on seeing them, as well as a positive feeling. Maybe he'd used them in his games before. With them were a group of regular sheep as well, more brown than the Mareeps and lacking the tail orbs.

    Rosa noticed the sheep and Mareep too and went over to the fence where one of the latter was standing. “Oh, they're so fuzzy up close! Hi there.” She hopped up onto the fence and leaned over to pet the Mareep. Then there was a loud snap; Rosa yelped and fell backwards off the fence.

    The Mareep stiffened, startled as well. “Maaaahh!”

    “Are you okay?” Nate asked, moving closer to her.

    She sat up. “Ow, it shocked me. That's some powerful static.” Then she got up. “I'm okay. More surprised than anything.”

    “Don't go hurting yourself on the first day, Rosa,” another voice called over. Hugh was coming their way from the area with the ranch house and barn. “Especially not in such a silly way.”

    “Well I just wanted to pet the Mareep,” she said. “And why'd you take off so early this morning? Violet wanted to say goodbye to you and I thought all three of us were going to travel together.”

    “You know why,” he said, although Nate didn't really know what they were talking about. “I have important business to do and I don't want to waste time. It's been so long as it is. But I knew you were avid on going traveling too, Rosa, and I felt uneasy about you being out there alone. Nate's going to be with you, though, so I’m sure you two will be fine.”

    Rosa huffed. “I would've liked to know that sooner. I was looking forward to us all being together.”

    Hugh scratched his head. “Look, I’m sorry, but I could be getting into some dangerous stuff. You're just after a missing hero, you know, so that can't be as bad.”

    “We're after a girl who was the League Champion and she still managed to disappear without a trace,” Nate said. “That could be dangerous. Oh, and Violet wanted to make sure that you had an Unova map in your Xtransceiver.”

    “I think I do?” he replied, turning on his unit and checking. “That would be standard, you'd think... oh geez, no I don't. I already knew this area, so I wasn't concerned.”

    “We can give you one,” Nate said, setting up his unit to send a copy of the map to Hugh's. “It'd be easier if I had your number, though.”

    “Sure, thanks,” Hugh said, sending a contact so that the transfer to go through. “And since you're here now, how about I battle you? I want to make sure you can keep Rosa safe.”

    “I can handle myself,” Rosa insisted.

    “Given some training, I’m sure anybody looking to hurt her would have to think twice,” Nate said. “But all right, I’ll battle you.”

    Hugh had been the one to offer it, after all. Even though he should have remembered the basics, like Alder had been saying. Vino was a tough Snivy, it seemed like, but a couple of Embers and a Tackle brought him down.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  9. #34
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    Taking game events out of order still! Not by a lot, just shuffling how they happen. The event with Alder doesn't happen until after you finish what's going on at Flocessy Ranch. And really, all he does at this point is teach you about type advantages with the Grass-Fire-Water triangle. He's apparently taken up teaching novice Trainers, as a couple of kids hang out with him.

    I think it would have been appropriate to have non-Pokemon sheep at the ranch too. It would fit in well into overall world-building for the Pokemon series. Although, I admit that they probably don't want to directly discuss the issue of food chains and what people actually eat in games made with kids in mind. Not that the kids I know would mind knowing what people eat there (even if it was Pokemon), but others might get upset at the idea.

    I like picking up a Sewaddle early in the game, even if I don't end up keeping it for long. They're good for the early game, as long as you watch out for Fire and Flying Pokemon. On the other hand, I haven't really used Sunkern all that much.

    To reviewers of the last chapter: I love conspiracies!
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  10. #35
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    Hello peoples. I read CS and finushed this, and I must say, this is awesome. No errors that I see.
    I think I might know who Nate is but I hate spoiler tags so I'll PM it. Besides, it might be too spoilery.
    Grav
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    Quite inactive, but still available. If you have a fanfic that no one wants to review, PM/VM me and I'll give you a hand.

  11. #36
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    Chapter 8: Back at the Ranch

    April 14
    Flocessy Ranch

    In the barn, the ranch had a healing machine that visitors were allowed to use freely. They healed up their Pokemon there. Before heading out again, Nate checked on the Pokemon he had caught on the way here. Along with the Sunkern, he had a Purrloin, a Patrat, a Pidove, and a Lillipup. That gave him a full party by legal standards, and because he couldn’t add any more Pokeballs to his Xtransciever's Pokeball holder. But other than Ruby, he didn't feel like taking any one of them permanently. Maybe he would scout out what was in and around the ranch, then decide which Pokemon to keep or recapture.

    “So what did you two come all the way out here for?” Hugh asked.

    “What do you think?” Rosa asked, smiling and friendly with him once again. “We're going to train our Pokemon too, and catch some more to help us out. There just aren't a lot of Pokemon close to Aspertia and any we could get there are also available on that route. I don't know what I want to catch, though.”

    “We could consider the Gyms nearby and start preparing,” Nate said. “We know Cheren is going to be running a Normal type Gym. Is there another Gym in the area?”

    “There's a Poison type Gym over in Virbank, which isn't that far off,” Hugh said. “I’m focusing more on getting past Cheren at the moment, although the Virbank Gym will be rough on Vino.”

    Rosa brightened. “Oh, so we'd want to look for something that can handle Normal Pokemon and Poison? That doesn't sound too hard. Let's go... oof! S-sorry!” She stumbled back after turning and crashing into someone who was coming into the barn.

    “Oh, I'm sorry, about that,” the man said. “Both of us should've been paying more attention, huh?” The Herdier beside him barked.

    “Yeah,” Rosa said, then looked at the Herdier. “At least I didn't trip over you, sweetie.”

    “Honey!” A woman wearing a cowboy hat came into the barn. “Have you seen my partner around?”

    “No, I thought she was with you,” the man said.

    She frowned. “Oh drat, she must have wandered off. Hey kids, have you seen another Herdier around that has a collar like that boy there? I seem to have lost track of her.”

    “Can't say that I have, but the two of us just arrived,” Nate said.

    “How could you lose track of your Pokemon?” Hugh said, getting oddly angered. Nate couldn't remember him getting mad about much, but apparently he had blown up at the thief earlier. “Don't you care enough to keep an eye on them? Something seriously bad could have happened. I'll help you look, but you'd better take more responsibility.” He then ran out of the barn.

    “Whoa there, it can't be that serious,” the woman said, but he was already gone. “Huh, that boy didn't seem like a sensitive sort, but maybe it's a sore spot or something. I would look, but I need to get back to watching the sheep and Mareep.”

    “We'll help look for your Pokemon too,” Rosa said. “So it's a Herdier with an orange collar like that?”

    She nodded. “Yup. She doesn't have a nickname, but she'll usually come to Herdier. I don't think she would have gotten far.”

    “All right, then it shouldn't take long,” she said.

    “You both work at this ranch?” Nate asked, before heading out with her. “Are all the Mareep here with the ranch?”

    The man shook his head. “Not all of 'em, just some. But you can tell the ranch ones because we keep them with Pokeballs and they have the same sort of collar. If they don't have the collar, you're free to catch them. That goes for any of the Pokemon around here, not just the Mareep.”

    “All right, thanks,” he said, then left the barn to meet back up with Rosa.

    For a few minutes, they searched around the pen where the sheep were. It seemed that the Mareep were helping to keep track of the sheep. There was a chance that the missing Herdier had left through the main gate, but Nate didn't think that was likely. After all, they would have encountered her on Rotue 20 and she would have stood out among the Lillipups there.

    “Hey, there's a path behind the house,” Rosa pointed out after it was apparent that the canine wasn't in with the sheep. “Maybe she went back there.”

    “Could be harder to search in the trees,” Nate said. He glanced around, eventually seeing the black haired Hugh a short distance off. “Hey Hugh, we're going to look in the woods back there.”

    He looked over, then headed there with them. “Good idea. The Herdier would have been easier to spot in this area, so if she can't find it, it must be up here.”

    “Why'd you snap at the rancher like that?” Nate asked. “It wasn't like this Pokemon was kidnapped.”

    “It might have been,” Hugh said, frowning. “Every Trainer has got to be responsible for their Pokemon. It's not like she lost a small Pokemon in the tall grass. Something bad might have happened.”

    'But it might not have,” Rosa said. “Still, I wonder where she got to.”

    In the wooded area, they split up to search faster. There were a few other Trainers back here, but they hadn't noticed any particular Herdier around. From this, Nate didn't think it was anything bad either. People would notice if someone was trying to hurt a Pokemon, or if it had gotten hurt by some other means. A Pokemon just wandering around wouldn't be anything remarkable to these people, even more so for one common to the area.

    Then he heard a sharp bark in the woods, like a warning. Nate changed the path he was on and headed for the sound. Rosa had the same idea, as he heard her call, “Herdier? Is that you?” from nearby before he saw her. They met up and came to a small opening in the trees, where they could hear the Herdier growling.

    And there was a Herdier there, her black and brown fur a little dirty but otherwise well kept. She wore an orange collar marking her as belonging to the ranch, and she was in a posture that suggested a warning that she might attack although she didn't want to. And facing her in disgust was a man wearing a black and gray outfit, a scarf and hood disguising his identity. He looked exactly like the two Team Plasma thieves from a few days ago.

    “Back off, you pest!” the man said, looking like he wanted to kick the Herdier but didn't want to risk getting bit either. “You have no business in interrupting my business.”

    “Grrrrrr,” the Herdier retaliated, also holding back on attacking.

    “Hey, what are you up to?” Rosa asked.

    “It has nothing to do with you!” he said, glancing at them but keeping most of his attention on the Pokemon. “Now do us both a favor by taking this Pokemon and then scram.”

    “Are you with Team Plasma?” Nate asked, just in case.

    “How do you know about that?” he asked. He clutched something that chinked to his chest. “Or do you know? Two years ago, we were betrayed, by our own leader. But we haven't given up yet! We're going to come back in a big way and no one will stand in our way.”

    “You can't be serious,” Rosa said. “Team Plasma is gone, and you're just out to cause trouble like the other two.”

    “Wait, you know about them? We're not causing trouble; you wouldn't understand. Argh, but why do you have to be causing me problems with this scruffy pest...”

    The Herdier barked in warning again. She definitely didn't like him.

    “Fine, I give up!” He threw something at Nate; he barely got time to bring his hand up to block it before it hit him in the face. “Take it and leave me be!” He then bolted through the trees.

    “What's going on here?” Hugh asked, finally arriving.

    “There was one of those guys dressed like the ones who got you the other day,” Rosa said. “I mean, from Team Plasma. And he even said so! But he got away from us. Herdier, are you okay?”

    The Pokemon walked over to them, relaxing and seeming more friendly. “Ruff.” She came up and sniffed Ruby, who sniffed back.

    “From Team Plasma?” Hugh replied. “I knew there was trouble from the stragglers, but there shouldn't be any more. Maybe there's more to this than we thought.”

    Crouched down, Nate finally located what had been thrown at him and picked it up. It was a laminated card labeled 'Flocessy Ranch', with a keyring punched into one corner. On one side, there was a bar code; on the ring, there were five keys. “He had this. Either of you know what it is?” When neither of them recognized it, he tucked it into the pocket of his shorts. “Well let's get the Herdier back. Come on, girl.”

    The Herdier was cooperative and followed the three of them back to the Mareep and sheep pen, where the ranch woman was back on watch. “Oh hey, there you are!” she said happily, petting her Pokemon when she came back to her side. “Thanks for finding her, y'all.”

    “No problem,” Rosa said.

    “Actually, she was after someone who could have caused you trouble,” Hugh said. “There's some members from Team Plasma lurking around lately; who knows what they would've done. You'd better increase your security or something.” Then he headed back into the wooded area.

    “Some guys from Team Plasma?” the ranch hand asked. “That can't be right. But we should be able to lock things up a little tighter while remaining open.”

    “We think he took this,” Nate said, taking the card out of his pocket and handing it to her. “What is it?”

    She looked it over, then frowned. “Oh...oh! Wow, that could've been a big mess. This here is a key into the computer system we have that keeps track of all the animals and Pokemon. And what you see here ain't all to the ranch; we've got some much bigger pens with more livestock and work 'mons out beyond the woods. If someone had this, they might have stolen any of 'em, or even all of 'em. We might not have even noticed. Huh.”

    “Maybe Herdier saw him take the card and went to keep him from getting away,” Rosa said. Then she knelt down and hugged her. “You're a good Pokemon.”

    The ranch hand smiled. “Aye, that's my partner. She's smart, so she must've known the key going missing would be big trouble. You might've saved everybody's jobs, Herdier.” She petted the Pokemon again.

    The Herdier barked, happy to have helped it seemed.

    “And thanks again to you three for helping her out,” she said. “I ain't got much, but here, I’ll give you both some Great Balls. Have fun around here, just don't worry the animals.”

    -+-

    April 15

    Rosa sat cross-legged on the ground, back in the woods behind the ranch house. She had spent some time training Bard. But now that she had a second Pokemon, she needed to train her as well. While she had connected quickly with the Oshawott, this Sewaddle... she just wasn't sure yet.

    A few feet from her, Angel was crawling on the ground, searching around. Sometimes she chewed on some grass. Then she came across a young green leaf that had fallen off a tree. With little chirping sounds that were barely audible, the Sewaddle seemed to examine it carefully from both sides. Then she curled around and began dextrously sewing it to her leaf cloak with her own silk.

    Well that was kind of clever, Rosa thought. So she wasn't actually growing those leaves, but using them to cover her body. But how did Angel keep the leaves so green and soft? If she tried to make clothes with leaves, then Rosa knew they'd get ugly brown and dry after a few hours. She was still a cute Pokemon, so maybe it wouldn't be that bad.

    Once Angel uncurled herself with her new leaf in place, Rosa got up. “Okay, enough of a break,” she said. “Let's go try you out in battle.”

    The Sewaddle hesitated, then followed after her slowly. They stirred up a few battles against Lillipups and a Mareep. Obviously, Angel wasn't nearly as strong as Bard, so Rosa often had the Oshawott actually finish off the battles. The Sewaddle seemed to be doing all right, but when she demonstrated her first Grass move, Rosa couldn't help but shiver a bit. She could almost forget and think that Angel was just a Bug Pokemon, but that wasn't right.

    Then something exciting happened: they came across a little rodent Pokemon with blue fur and a sad-looking face, bouncing on a ball at the end of its long thin tail. “Oh my gosh!” Rosa squealed. “An Azurill!”

    Startled, the Azurill fumbled off its ball, then bounded away in a fright. Nearby, Angel scrunched under her leaf cloak at Rosa's voice. Bard gave a worried sound and tapped the Sewaddle on the back, trying to coax her out.

    “Oh, sorry, so sorry,” Rosa said, trying to tone down her excited smile. “I always liked the look of an Azurill. So round and bouncy, and it's extra cute when it hops. Too bad I scared that one off, but maybe there'll be another around.” She leaned over and scooped up Angel. “Sorry, I'll try not to be so loud all of a sudden,” she said. “Let's go looking for it!” She headed further into the woods, followed by Bard.

    After a few minutes, they came to a stream wandering through the woods. It was clear, flowing gently to the southeast now that the winter melt-offs had passed. Here, she could see three Pokemon. At the bank of the river close to where she was, there was a yellow Psyduck that was scooping up mud and patting it on the top of its head. Close to it on a rock in the stream, there was a Pokemon unfamiliar to Rosa; it was a blue and black one, almost canine from the shape of its head and ears but standing on its hind legs comfortably. Not quite, actually. It was standing on one foot, with the other held up in front of it while it balanced on the small exposed portion of the rock. And in the water, there was a blue orb that was like the Azurill's.

    Rosa was caught in indecision looking at the three Pokemon. She wanted to know what the one on the rock was, so it'd be nice to catch that one. But, she liked Azurills and Marills, so she could coax out the one in the water to trying catching it. Not only that, but Psyducks were nice too, even if she didn't understand why this one was piling on mud. Maybe it thought that would help against the Mareep that were common around here?

    Or, she could catch all three and decide which ones to take later on. Rosa set Angel back down on the ground, then came out of the trees. “Hey there! I'm just starting out looking for more Pokemon and...”

    The Pokemon on the rock shifted its position, then backflipped to the other side of the stream. It was out of reach unless she wanted to cross the water. The one in the water, turning out to be a Marill, popped its head above water, then swam off. That left the Psyduck, who dropped its wingful of mud and looked back at her. “Psy?”

    Well that decided which one to go after first. “Yeah, I want to try you out on my team,” she said. “What do you say? Let's go!”

    After giving it a few hits from Angel, Rosa was able to successfully capture the Psyduck. It turned out to be a male. “All right!” she said. “Thanks Angel. I think I'll call this one Buddy, cause he's a muddy buddy.” She giggled, then looked over at the mystery Pokemon. It was still standing on the other bank, looking at her. “Mm, let's go back and get healed up,” she said to Angel and Bard. “I'll be back.” Then she recalled her other two and ran back to the barn.

    While she was waiting for a turn to use the healing machine, Rosa activated the Pokedex and searched through it for the other Pokemon. It turned out to be called a Riolu. And, it was a Fight type Pokemon. That would be useful for fighting Cheren, she thought. Once her current team was healed up, she ran back to the stream.

    The Riolu was back on that rock, eyes closed. Rosa grinned. “Oh, Riolu, won't you come with me too?” she asked.

    Opening one eye, the Riolu considered her. Then it closed its eye again, focusing on whatever it was doing. Maybe it wasn't in a mood to fight. Or maybe she needed to do something more to impress it.

    “I'm sure we'd have lots of fun,” she said. When it didn't react, she added, “Oh, I could get you a berry if you're hungry.” That still didn't work. “Please?”

    Since it didn't seem inclined to let her try to fight it, Rosa focused on what was in the stream. Maybe there was a more cooperative Azurill or Marill around. She touched the surface of the stream, trying to lure one out of the water. But what she got first was a big serious looking fish Pokemon, a blue striped Basculin. She used Buddy to fight it, managing to catch it as well. She ran back to the barn, nicknamed her new Pokemon Finn (as it was another boy), then ran back to the stream. While she wasn't able to convince the Riolu yet, she did manage to get a curious Azurill to come out of the grass and battle Finn. That had been a close call, as Finn had nearly knocked her out. But Rosa managed to catch the Azurill too.

    Coming back to the stream for a third time, Rosa found the Riolu was watching her now. “Are you gonna be any more cooperative?” she asked. “Because with Misty in my party now, I've only got room for one more Pokemon. Please?”

    The Riolu looked at her for a moment longer, then waved down the stream.

    Rosa looked and saw another rock. “What, you want me to join you?” She set her bag down and then hopped out to the rock. The Riolu twisted its ears towards her, turning on its one foot to face her. “It's not that baaa...aaahh!” Her shoe slipped on a wet patch and she fell into the water with a large splash.

    The Riolu dove into the water, looking her eye to eye below the surface. But Rosa's feet found the muddy bottom and she was able to stand up. The stream wasn't that deep. A moment later, the Riolu surfaced as well; it was too short to touch bottom, but it was able to stay in place there.

    “No worries!” Rosa said, grinning and splashing the water. “I'm a good swimmer. This water's pretty nice, actually.”

    Shaking its head, the Riolu swam to the closest bank to climb out. But Rosa wasn't going to let it get away that easily, even if she didn't mind being dunked. She took one of her Pokeballs and released whichever one it was. It turned out to be Buddy the Psyduck; his head was still caked in moist mud.

    “Don't let it slip away!” Rosa said.

    The Riolu huffed then, moving faster than the Psyduck, knocked him out while Rosa was getting out of the stream herself. It did turn to face her then, paws on its hips. It seemed to be ready to fight now.

    “Okay, but I'm still going to try getting you,” she said, then released the Azurill Misty. Unfortunately, that didn't help much. Misty knew Splash and one weak attack move, so she was soon knocked out as well. Finn the Basculin had a bit better luck, lasting two rounds before the Riolu knocked him out. But it was looking worn down; it couldn't take much more.

    She thought about releasing Bard, but he might knock the Riolu out before Rosa had a chance to capture it. Instead, she released Angel. “Slow it down.”

    Crouching down and trembling, the Sewaddle threw some of her silk at the Riolu's legs. It did make it harder for the Riolu to move. Not wanting to lose it, Rosa threw a Pokeball at the Riolu. Those had worked just fine on the rest. But, the Riolu broke right out of it. Rosa felt determined not to give up at this point, not after it had knocked out half her team (admittingly the half that she had yet to actually train). She took one of the Great Balls that the ranch hand had given her and used that instead.

    The ball rolled for quite some ways before it clicked with success.

    That night, she met with Hugh and Nate to camp out in the wooded part of the ranch with them. The Riolu was being sulky; she poised herself on top of the pole that supported one of the tents, watching over them. “It's good to know that she's going to be strong right away,” Rosa said. “But I didn't expect River to give me that much trouble catching her.”

    “She's going to be a glass cannon for a while,” Nate said. “Are you sure she wanted to be captured?”

    “Well she didn't break out that second time,” Rosa said. “Do you want to leave? I can let you go.”

    The Riolu tensed at the question, then shook her head. Maybe she hadn't meant to get captured, but it seemed like now that she was, she was going to stick around.

    “Thank you,” Rosa said, smiling but feeling a bit worried. Had she gone about it wrong? It was too bad she couldn't really talk to the Pokemon.

    “What do you mean by a glass cannon?” Hugh asked, after adding a new log to the fire. “Wouldn't something like that explode if you tried to use it?”

    “I can't think of a glass kind of Pokemon either,” Rosa said, looking back at her friends.

    “It's...” he thought for a moment, trying to word it. “It's an expression. A glass cannon is a fighter who relies on speed and power, but ends up with frail defenses as a result. So yeah, River can hit hard, but will have a hard time taking hits herself.”

    “Oh, one of those video game things?” Rosa said. And come to think about it, she did get knocked out several times today while Rosa was trying to train her up. “I supposed I’ll have to be careful of that now.”

    “You need to be careful about the type spread of your team,” Hugh said. “Over half of them are Water types.”

    She shrugged. “So? I like Water Pokemon.”

    “They're all going to have the same weaknesses,” he said. “And it will make it even harder for your team to fight certain kinds, like Grass or Ice Pokemon. It might help you to release redundant Pokemon, such as the same types who use the same kind of moves.”

    “Um, well at least I got them for the Pokedex,” Rosa said, looking away as she felt herself get embarrassed. Alder had been talking about stuff like that just this morning, but she'd only been thinking in terms of individual Pokemon and matches, not her entire team.

    “What kind of Pokemon have you caught?” Nate asked Hugh, thankfully deflecting the focus of the conversation from her.

    “Nothing,” he said. “I'm going to stick with Vino for now and get him strong. Although I was thinking of getting a Pidove shortly. They're useful. What about you?”

    Nate shrugged. “I caught a number of them just for Pokedex registry; released most of them, but I did keep one for my team.” He pointed over to where a Mareep was apparently snoozing nearby. “That's Snapper over there. I spent about two hours watching a group of Mareep that didn't belong to the ranch, trying to figure out which one I wanted. Snapper was the one who stood out to me.”

    “Wow, that's some dedication,” Rosa said, impressed. “I didn't think to watch the Pokemon that long.”

    “Well it's not like I could,” he stopped suddenly, then bit his lip and shook his head.

    “Isn't a snapper a kind of fish?” Hugh asked. “An odd name.”

    Rosa laughed. “It makes sense to me! Cause their static makes loud snaps.”

    “That's pretty much it,” Nate said. “I think, for taking on Cheren, I'm going to give it a try with these two. I need to focus on Snapper for a time, build him up to match Ruby's level.”

    “Sounds like you two are getting prepared well,” Rosa said.

    But, she had to decide which of her team to keep and which to release. It didn't seem right to store them away in digital boxes, even though the option was there and said to safe. If Rosa had to decide, she'd rather them go free than to stay in a computer. She looked over their moves and statuses.

    Reluctantly, she decided not to keep Misty the Azurill. She had Splash as one of her moves, which was pretty much useless in battle. Plus she seemed weaker than the rest, needing more training time to come up to match their power. Rosa knew she'd be keeping River for challenging Cheren (something that gave her a shiver to think about... it was hard to believe that she was contemplating this so soon, even knowing that he'd have a lower level team than usual). And she knew she'd keep Bard, as he'd earned a place firmly in her heart.

    That left Buddy the Psyduck, Finn the Basculin, and Angel the Sewaddle. Rosa thought for a moment that having so many choices, she might be able to give up on the Sewaddle. But, her types were both different from the rest, which made her a better choice to keep. Buddy, unfortunately, had similar moves to Bard. Finn at least had something different. So, she was going to let go of Misty and Buddy. Maybe Finn; she's work with him for a little while and see what he was like.

    Still, it seemed sad to realize that she'd have to be more careful with picking up the Pokemon she liked. Maybe if she found some mixed type Pokemon, she could still work mostly with her preferred Water types.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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    The ranch is the first place where you actually run into the new Team Plasma in-game, with this little missing Herdier event. The guy doesn't fight you, but he does try to hit you with a Frustration TM. Actually, it doesn't seem like he's trying to kidnap the Herdier to me. The way he acts, it's more like the Herdier caught him doing something else and chased him down. It's not clear what the guy is up to. But Hugh takes the incident far more seriously than the ranch workers do.

    There does seem to be a lot of Water types in the ranch, for being a grassy and woody area. You can't really pick up Basculin at this point (so Finn won't be staying, sorry), but anything else mentioned here is entirely possible to get when you first arrive. Also, it was made a little more obvious over on fanfiction.net with the story description, but Rosa likes Water Pokemon a lot.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl View Post
    You can't really pick up Basculin at this point (so Finn won't be staying, sorry)


    Wait- female protagonist catches a Blue-Striped Basculin, and isn't going to keep it. Why does this sound so familiar.

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    “And it will make it even harder for your team to fight certain kinds, like Grass or Ice Pokemon"
    I'm fairly certain you meant Electric there.

    And there's two distinct methods of training here. There's Rosa's "catch eveything interesting" style, and Nate's "catch only a small number" style. That was about four Pokemon to one? Even if Nate caught more and released them, philosphy difference right there.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

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    Awesome fic. May I be added in the PM list?

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    Chapter 9: Cheren's First Challengers

    April 21
    Aspertia

    It was an exciting day for them, but for Aspertia it seemed like more or less another regular day. Rosa came back with Nate on the day that the Gym officially opened. While there was a notice on the electronic board in the gatehouse, there wasn't much in town about it. “You'd think there'd be some celebration for the city getting its own Gym,” Rosa said.

    “Maybe there'll be one later,” Nate said. “It is still daytime and most people would be at work.”

    “Right, I hope so. Cheren worked really hard at his studies and so he deserves this.” They kept walking along the street to the school, where the Gym was stationed until the League could buy up a space to build one. That is, if they decided to do that.

    After going around the school and through a gate, they ended up in the old playground where Cheren had set up. He was there in one of the painted battlefields, talking with six of the students from the regular school. There was a statue from the Pokemon League at the edge of the playground, with a screen that would list the current winners. Since it had just opened this morning, it was an empty list.

    “This is extra credit, so you need to still keep up on your regular classes,” Cheren was telling the two kids. “I'll be expecting all of you who opt for this to do well. Hmm, what is it?”

    “Someone's here,” a girl said, pointing to them. “Hi Rosa!”

    “Hello!” she said, waving back.

    Cheren turned to them and smiled. “Ah, it's you both. I was expecting to see you. Nice to see that you managed to be my first challengers. That is what you're here for, right?”

    “Of course,” she said, smiling. “We're all going to do our best.”

    “Great,” Cheren said, reaching down and picking up a machine. He spoke briefly to his two student Trainers, “Okay, you all pay attention to this,” then turned to them. “First things first; I need to scan your League ID cards and the Pokeballs to the team you'll be using. Right now, we're only accepting low-level challenges, but I'm sure that's no issue.”

    “Sure,” she said, handing over her card, then taking out the three Pokeballs to her team.

    “The ID checks gives you their badge count and registration data,” one of the boys said. “And the Pokeball scan makes sure all the Pokemon are legal and healthy competitors.”

    “Exactly,” Cheren said. “So it says Rosa has three Pokemon and no badges yet. What's that mean for you?”

    “That she has to defeat two of us before she can challenge you,” the boy replied.

    “Good,” he said, handing back Rosa's team. “Sorry about using you guys as an example, but we're all settling in here. Okay, you handle Nate, and two of you stay in the fields to challenge her. Rosa, I’ll be at the back of the playground when you're ready.”

    “Okay!” she said as she headed over to the nearer of the two battle fields. One of the boys and one of the girls headed over to act as her opponents.

    “May I scan your ID and Pokeballs?” the boy who had been assigned that duty asked Nate.

    “Sure,” he said, pulling out his card to hand over. This was a part of the process for every Gym, so it was something to get used to.

    “Okay, well,” the boy looked back to the grounds when he was done, “I know you heard, but since it's your first time in the Gym, I gotta tell you that you need to defeat two of us to challenge Cheren. Okay?”

    To humor him, Nate nodded. “Sure, thanks for telling me.”

    The boy grinned. “Good luck. You're gonna need it, especially against the Leader.”

    Nate then headed for the other battle field where two other kids had decided to be his opponents. He had his Mareep Snapper lead against both of them. As Rosa had found out first hand, Mareep had a potent static associated with their wooly coat. On physical contact, an opponent Pokemon could become paralyzed. It didn't happen with every hit, but it happened often enough to be of good use. If he really needed to paralyze, Snapper had a move for that as well.

    As the kids didn't have many Pokemon, Nate was able to beat them readily. When those battles were done, he looked across the playground to see that Rosa had gone ahead and challenged Cheren. He wasn't sure how long she'd been in the battle, but Bard was fighting a Lillipup. The Oshawott hit the Lillipup with a Water Gun, but then was knocked out with a Tackle. Not only that, but it seemed particularly powerful, even enough to knock Bard back behind Rosa.

    She seemed worried from the way she nearly dropped her next Pokeball. But then she called out her Sewaddle. The little Bug trembled at first, but hurried over obediently when Rosa called for an attack. But Cheren had healed up his Lillipup, so the biting attack didn't do much. Especially not compared to the powerful tackle that knocked into Angel.

    But it didn't knock her out. Angel held on bravely, biting the canine again. She couldn't resist a second tackle and was knocked out. Cheren bowed his head. “You did pretty good, but not good enough. Sorry Rosa.”

    “What, we lost?” Rosa asked, seeming shocked. “Um, wow, you really are great even with restrictions, but...”

    “You'd better go to the Pokecenter,” Nate suggested. He glanced over at Cheren. “Mind if I go with her?”

    “You're free to come and go as you need,” Cheren said, nodding. “You'll need to be rescanned when you come back in.”

    “Sure,” Nate said, then took Rosa's hand and walked with her back to the Pokecenter.

    It wasn't the first time that Rosa's team had been wiped out, Nate reflected. Maybe it was just doing so against Cheren, who she surely wanted to impress still. They came into the Pokecenter, which had another Trainer at the Pokemart counter but few others. So Rosa's four Pokemon were able to get immediate care.

    “Oh, hello Rosa,” the nurse said. “What's wrong?”

    “I, I need to get my Pokemon healed,” she said, handing over a couple of the Pokeballs.

    “Of course,” the nurse said kindly, taking them and putting them in the machine while Rosa got the others. “It's nice that your boyfriend came over with you.”

    “We're not dating,” Nate said calmly. “Just helping each other out.”

    “Ye-yeah,” Rosa said, then turned to him. “Wow, I always knew that he was a great Trainer, but it was something else to actually go up against him! I hoped I had a chance because he just had two and he didn't attack right off. But then both of them became so powerful. Am I just not good enough to win that?”

    “I don't think it's like that,” he said. “It's his duty as a Gym Leader to give every person who comes to him a challenge, even those of us who are his friends.”

    “Here you go, Rosa,” the nurse said. “Your Pokemon are all better. What about you?”

    “Yeah, they could use some healing,” Nate said, handing his two over. Not as much as Rosa's needed, obviously, but coming up against a strong opponent, he could use every edge he could get. Then he turned back to Rosa. “And that was just one try. We can go back to the ranch and train up some more.”

    “I could,” she said. “Thanks. But, don't you want to try today too?”

    “Yeah, I was going to head back. Don't let him see you discouraged; your spirit is one of the best things going for you.”

    That did the trick and she smiled. “Aw, okay. We'll make ourselves strong and come back.”

    The nurse then came back with his Pokemon. “And here you go. Oh, and if you're friends with the Gym Leader, there's going to be a celebration of the opening up on the overlook this evening.”

    “Good, that's what I was hoping to hear,” Rosa said. “If that's so, maybe we'll just try training on Route 19 for today, so we don't have to go all the way out there and back.”

    “Have a good day, both of you,” the nurse said. Then she winked at Nate. “And you take good care of Rosa, young fellow.”

    “We're just friends,” Nate said, but bowed to her. “Thanks.”

    On the way out, Rosa sighed. “Aah, why do they all think you're my boyfriend? It's not like you're the only boy I’ve ever hung out with. I wonder if Mom said something.”

    “Probably just some gossip that's hard to kill,” he replied. “Don't let it get to you.”

    “I guess. But I do like having you as a friend, don't get me wrong about that.”

    “I like having you as a friend too,” he said, giving her a smile.

    Back at the Gym in the playground, Nate rescanned his ID and team so that they knew he hadn't changed any of it on them. Rosa wasn't battling now, so she didn't have to. Since he'd already beaten two of the student Trainers, Nate went straight to the back of the playground where Cheren was waiting. There was another Trainer there, the red-haired girl who had been at the Pokemart counter. Because of that, Nate and Rosa had to watch that battle (Cheren won), then wait for Cheren to heal up with the Gym's healing device.

    Then, it was time. “All right, I’m ready to challenge you now,” Nate said, giving him a friendly nod.

    “Good, I was looking forward to fighting you,” Cheren said, returning the gesture. “As your mind has begun to clear, I want to see what you're really like as a Pokemon Trainer. So then, do you believe in your Pokemon? Then give your best effort to battling me. Declare your Pokemon. I have two.”

    “I have two,” Nate said. According to what he'd read, this was traditional battling etiquette that had its strongest hold in the Pokemon Leagues.

    “Then let's begin,” Cheren said, releasing a Patrat.

    Like he'd been looking for during last semester finals, Nate recalled, but whether that was related to this wasn't important now. He called on Ruby. If he worked at training her for a few more levels, then she'd evolve and gain a Fight typing and move, which would be valuable in a match like this. But, that would be overdoing it. He believed that his team could do this now. Although, Rosa's talk about her match lingered in his mind.

    Cheren called out a move named Work Up. In the data lists he'd memorized in another world, this was a stat boosting move that would counter the stat dropping move Ruby knew. Having a split second warning of what Cheren was doing, he had the Tepig simply tackle the Patrat. It was a little stronger than Ember here; a second tackle took out the Patrat.

    When Cheren had to swap out, Nate opted to swap Ruby for Snapper. Trainers like Cheren wouldn't put their strongest Pokemon out first, that was how he thought of it. The chance of paralysis would help in this second match, as the Mareep came up against the Lillipup that had taken out Rosa's team. Cheren started with Work Up again, so Nate stuck with an electric attack. When the Lillipup attacked, it made a powerful hit against Snapper, but not enough to knock him out. It also didn't activate Static, so Nate healed up his Pokemon in the same round that Cheren did.

    The next attack by the Lillipup did activate Static, causing it to suffer from paralysis. But it also knocked Snapper out. Keeping calm, Nate called Ruby back out and had her finish off the Lillipup before it could get past its paralysis to hit her. “Good work, Ruby,” Nate told her. “I need to tell Snapper the same later on.”

    “You really are the tactical type,” Cheren said, coming over to him. “Well done; you've already grown a lot as a Trainer, even from when you and Rosa set out to train a couple weeks back. And here's proof of your victory: the Basic Badge.” He handed over a small metal, like a decorative pin without the pin backing. It was set in gold, with a red and black centerpiece that made it seem like the spine of a book.

    “Thanks,” Nate said, taking it. In a way, it didn't look like a lot. But in this world, it held such great significance, earning its holder the respect of humans and Pokemon alike. And it was from a battle that was much more difficult that then those he'd gotten from other young Trainers around Aspertia and Flocessy. It made him excited to think of what challenges lay ahead.

    Cheren put his hand to his chin. “Interesting that you should make it as the first Trainer to earn a badge from me, when it's likely thanks to you that I got the chance to be a Gym Leader.”

    “How would it be due to him?” Rosa asked, coming over. “Congratulations, Nate! You need to give me some tips now.”

    Nate laughed, “I already did.”

    Cheren laughed too. “Well it's not like Nate could recommend me or anything. But, you remember how you asked me to help teach him about Pokemon? I actually did a lot of thinking and researching to figure out how to do that, and I wrote an essay about it that I sent to an academic journal for students. Seeing that essay led Lenora to considering me, asking my teachers for projects I done for my League related courses and such. So yeah, if you hadn't come along like you did, Nate, I wouldn't have been a person considered.”

    “I hadn't thought my being amnesiac would have such a positive effect on someone else,” Nate said, scratching his head. “But hey, I think this job came to a good guy.”

    He shrugged. “Maybe you don't see it, but it is going to keep me busy. It's a good busy, though. Oh, and Rosa, I noticed something in your battle,” he turned to her. “I hadn't expected to see you with a Grass Pokemon, with how you feel about them.”

    “Oh, you remembered that?” Rosa said, turning slightly pink. “Well, I decided to give her a try because, you know, it's not like I can avoid them all the time. I'm still not sure about her, sorry.”

    “But you're trying,” Cheren said in encouragement. “And, I think she's starting to open up to you. Bianca would be able to read her better than me, but I saw how that Sewaddle hung on like she did. Some Pokemon will hang on in determination for their Trainer. She was working hard for you. Make sure that she knows you appreciate that.”

    “Okay, I'll do that,” she said.

    -+-

    That night, Rosa and Nate came back to Aspertia's school yard for the celebration about the Gym's opening. There were a good many people here, from the students who were acting as the Gym Trainers and their families to other Gym Leaders, even some friends of Cheren's like Bianca. “Hi you two!” the blond haired girl said happily on seeing them, waving them over. “Hey, I heard that Nate was the only one who managed to get the badge today despite a lot of people trying to challenge Cheren. Congratulations! Did you treat your Pokemon for it?”

    “Sure did,” Nate said. He had bought them some Pokemon treats from a local store, although they ended up buying Rosa's Pokemon some too so they didn't feel left out. “Thanks, although I hadn't heard about being the only one.”

    “There were some close matches,” Cheren said. “Especially in some of the higher level challenges later in the day, when my high level Trainers were out of class. I'm pretty sure I’m still within bounds, though I'll know for sure in the first week review later on.”

    Nate nodded. All Gym battles were taped, although they were kept private in League files until the challenger authorized them being released to the public site. It was through that that he had been able to find records of most of Hilda's battles in the League, to try and figure her out. He had gone ahead and allowed for his tapes to be publicly accessible, as it didn't seem harmful.

    Thinking of her, he decided they should be kept up to date, since they were her old friends. “I had some things to tell you about Hilda, not a lot,” he said. He then told them about how they'd determined that she'd disappeared within a week of visiting Alder, and that she had been actively searching for Keldeo at that time.

    “Keldeo, huh?” Bianca said.

    “Oh yeah, and there was something you were saying about him,” Rosa said. She had her Basculin Finn in her arms, a habit she'd gotten into for reasons Nate didn't know. “Do you remember, when we were at that big rock? You said that Keldeo had been reborn around fifteen years ago but his powers got buried so deeply that no one could sense him until recently. And that it's likely that even the legendary Pokemon wouldn't realize where he was until they came in direct contact with him.”

    “If he's been reborn, I'd check places around bodies of water, like the coastline or the rivers,” Bianca said. “Because most legends you hear of him, he loves being in those places.”

    “That'd be a good place to start,” Cheren said. “You might have some trouble identifying him. But then, maybe your Pokemon will be able to notice something that you can't. Or even some of the other legendaries might help, if you could find them. I used to know Meloetta, and traveled with her for a while. But I let her go when she asked, so I don't know where she is.”

    Bianca nodded. “She's probably in a place with a lot of musicians again. Oh, and I traveled with Victini for a long time, but he asked to head out on his own after Team Plasma fell. If you find them and let them know what you're doing, they might be willing to help you too.”

    “You both traveled with legendary Pokemon?” Nate asked. It was surprising. He'd known that Hilda had been under Kyurem's protection, but hadn't heard about them too.

    “Well when the lands become troubled, the guardians will come alert and seek to help solve things,” Bianca said. “It happens in many other lands too. Many legendary Pokemon have sworn oaths to protect their homelands and they will do what is necessary to help bring peace and stability back.”

    “Still, it'd be better to focus on your given quest, to find out what happened to Hilda and help her back home,” Cheren said. “But should you come across another of Unova's guardians, it wouldn't hurt to ask for their help, or even just their blessing.”

    -+-

    As the party continued, Rosa went to talk to various people she knew. Nate felt a bit of loneliness at that. Who had he known? Would he meet them again? But then a thought came clear to him, that there was no way that he wanted to go back to his old world. There was something…

    It wasn’t utter destruction, but it might as well have been. Everything that was familiar was gone or changed greatly. There were dangers that, long ago, would have been unthinkable. There was talk of the end of the world, dangerous to look into. While he had been close to one person, that person too was changed beyond recognition with the collapse of order. There was no reason for him to stay, other than to wait for his own end.

    ..more of a feeling than anything else, but the pain of that was almost more than being lonely at this party.

    But that was behind him. He needed to be here now. Nate tried to strike up a few conversations with others, but having only been here for a few months, there weren’t many that he knew.

    At one point, he met with a man wearing a green bandana over his head. “Well I have Pokemon, but I’m a breeder more than a battler,” he said, patting the head of a Girafarig that was by his side. “I take in endangered species and try to help their numbers build. Most of the ones I raise eventually go into adoption or to Safari Zones.”

    “That sounds like a good cause,” Nate said. “How long have you been doing that?”

    “About two years, which isn’t long but I’ve already gotten high marks.” He smiled. “I even was able to give a couple of Pokemon over to the Pokestar Studios, in order to make movies. I hope they get used for films that make people think about how they interact with Pokemon.”

    “I wouldn’t know much about that,” he said. “I hope they treat them well. Pokemon are intelligent and loving creatures, from what I’ve seen, so we need to respect and love them.”

    “Yeah,” the breeder said, but he seemed distracted in a sudden thought. “Look, don’t take me the wrong way, but you remind me of someone, or maybe it’s your words. Can you, um, understand Pokemon?”

    Puzzled by the remark, Nate shook his head. “No. But I try my hardest to understand them. I was involved in an accident that messed up my mind a few months back and I had to relearn a lot, even about Pokemon.” He shrugged. “I guess I see them in a different light, especially when my Tepig here has been so supportive of me.”

    “Te oink!” Ruby said, wagging her tail. She kept close to him, while Snapper wandered around checking other people out.

    “I see,” he said, a little disappointed.

    And then something came to Nate. It was like his premonitions, but not quite. There was a connection here to someone important.



    The route was lit primarily by moonlight, since the lights by the daycare didn’t extend to this area. He walked down the dark route, coming from the cave where they were gathering Pokemon they had liberated from others for health checks. Maybe it was a little dangerous to be walking out so late, but he needed to be in the next town by morning.

    While walking by a low ledge, he came upon a surprise: Lord N was lying on the ground nearby, looking up at the stars. He knew the young King was out on a mission, but they had not been told that he’d be in this area. “My lord?” he called, stepping up onto the ledge.

    N sat up to see who it was. If he’d been anyone else, the knight would have thought him upset or sad from how he looked. But was he? N was a special person and he’d heard from others that he wasn’t like anyone else. “Oh, it’s one of you. Are things going well?”

    He nodded. “Yes, things are going smoothly.” He wondered if he should dare ask, conflicted between respect and sympathy. The latter won out. “Are things well for you? You seem troubled.”

    “Do I?” He got up. “Don’t mind me. I was just… I released the Pokemon that were assisting me a short while ago.”

    That puzzled him. Then again, quite a few things about Plasma had puzzled him since he’d joined a month back. But they were doing the right thing, he believed. “You did? Why? I heard you were to win the Championship to get the people to listen, but most Trainers keep their Pokemon along the way, to keep building their bond.”

    N was quiet for a moment, then said, “I’m aware of it. But even if I must do this, I can’t stand to see the Pokemon in pain. So once they’ve helped me, I’m letting them go back to their lives. That way, they don’t have to suffer.”

    So things like ordinary battling hurt Pokemon? Recalling his younger days when he’d tried to make his way through the League, he felt bad about not considering that. “Really? Should I let my Pokemon go too after they help me with a mission?”

    “No, you keep yours,” N said. “Your missions won’t be as difficult on the Pokemon. Keep them until I can call on the legendary dragon to order everyone to release their Pokemon.”

    “All right, then I’ll be careful with them,” he said.

    “Good, it’s good to hear that from you.” However, he still seemed troubled, not looking at him while talking.

    “Are you sure you’re okay?”

    “I’m letting these Pokemon have their freedom,” N said. “Then why did she seem so sad and upset to leave me? And then there was that Trainer in Accumula; the Snivy seemed so excited to be with her, happier than I’ve seen any Pokemon. And what did she mean by calling that boy Kyurem? It couldn’t have been…” he shook his head. “What is the meaning of this, Hilda? Humans and Pokemon… I feel like not a part of either of them, just on the edges of both, between them. But I will save them, and make this world better.”

    “My lord?” On one hand, he could see some Pokemon being unhappy to leave a Trainer they liked. But that’s not what N had been talking about before, nor the ones who had recruited him into Team Plasma. What was really going on here?

    He looked surprised to realize that he was still there. “Oh… don’t mind me. I’m just thinking out loud. Things are certainly different out here. Your Pokemon are doing a big favor to us all by helping you now, so treat them well while you have them.”

    He nodded. “I will. I’d better move on to get in place for the next mission. Take care, my lord.”



    It seemed real, like the other two visions he had seen. Had it been a memory from this guy? Nate glanced around, then lowered his voice to ask, “Excuse me, but were you a part of Team Plasma?”

    The breeder paled, drawing back a little. “Ho-how did you know? Please don’t tell anyone; I came back to my childhood home to start my life over, but no one here knows that I was a part of it.”

    “It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone if that’s what you want,” he said. “Did you know their leader?”

    “Lord N,” he said quietly, with reverence. “Not really, but I did speak with him alone once. Maybe it wouldn't be important to you, but his words influenced me greatly. I remember, when things first fell apart, many of us didn’t know what to do. People were being arrested and everything that we had been building towards had just fallen apart in minutes. There were some people who were getting bitter about him. But even at that point, I believed in him. I still do.”

    “What was he like?” Nate asked, although he was almost certain that he just saw it. Maybe if he knew more about this too, he might get closer to figuring out what happened to Hilda. How he didn't know, but his intuition suggested it was good to pursue.

    “He isn’t like anyone I’ve ever known, before or since,” the breeder said, reminiscing with fondness. “I mean, you hear people talking about others having good hearts, or even pure hearts, but things may not be as they appear. But N had a pure heart, and I can say that with absolute certainty. He wanted to help everybody live in a better world, and never wanted to see another suffer. I wouldn’t admit it back then, but he didn’t really understand the world.”

    “Few people can understand the world,” Nate said. Although once he said it, he wondered why. It was something he felt and yet knew that someone his age was unlikely to realize it fully.

    The breeder scratched his head. “Possibly. Maybe it’s better said that he didn’t understand the normal world. He grew up without a lot of people around him, and for a while lived with only Pokemon in a forest. He thought there was only one proper course to life. So when he acknowledged that he had been wrong in that and agreed to stop his pursuit of the cause, I could understand why. But there were a lot who were angry about it.” He shrugged. “I don’t know where my colleagues have gone. When they started talking of him as a traitor, I ran away alone. I was really lost for a while, not knowing what to do with myself. But I remembered that one time I was able to talk with him, and he said that Pokemon need to be treated well.”

    “So you ended up taking up breeding to help them out,” Nate guessed.

    He nodded. “Right, and I’m happy with where I am now. Sometimes I wonder what Lord N is doing now. Later I heard that he had gone into hiding with his twin brother Hilbert, and they were going to learn things from the legendary dragons. Maybe we will see him change the world someday, in a different way then he intended back then.”

    “That might be interesting,” he said. “Hey, thanks for telling me that.”

    “No, thanks for listening without judging me,” the breeder said, bowing his head with relief. “I’ve been scared about people learning what I did but… not yet, but maybe I can tell other people in the future. There is something about you that reminds me of him. Maybe you might meet him too someday. I hope you can find your memory.”

    Nate nodded in thanks. He wasn’t sure how useful knowing this would be. But the puzzle wasn’t clear yet, so anything might be a piece to it.

    -+-

    By the time the party was over, it was late. Janine had invited Nate to stay over at their house in a guest room; Rosa was sleeping in her old room for tonight. Well, not sleeping yet. Bard was asleep, curled up on one end of the bed. River was doing her balance exercises on the end of Rosa’s bed; she wasn’t sure what the Riolu was doing with this particular exercise, but she did it often. Finn was back in his Pokeball, as he seemed to prefer sleeping there.

    And Angel was on the lamp near Rosa’s bed, partway up the post and looking up at the light. “Careful,” Rosa said, putting her hand on the Sewaddle’s body. “You shouldn’t hurt your eyes by looking directly at the lightbulb.”

    “Sshhufff,” Angel replied, letting go of the post and dropping into Rosa’s hand. She righted herself as the girl brought her closer and sat up on the bed. Then she started snuffling Rosa’s hand.

    “Are you really starting to like me like Cheren thinks?” Rosa asked. “You did really well, he even said so. You’re at least getting used to me, it seems, cause you don’t try to hide when I get loud as much.”

    Angel looked at her, then licked her forelegs and started cleaning the hood of her leaf clothes. Since she didn’t have a lot of room balancing on her hand, Rosa put her down by the pillow. Angel even gave her a little lick on being put down.

    “Aw, thanks,” she said. “You’re nice, at least. And you’re still not too much like a plant.” She paused. “I don’t know. I know other girls think the flowery Grass Pokemon are so pretty and elegant, but I’ve always been spooked by them. It’s not like I was attacked by some rogue Grass Pokemon or something. Because my Mom works in Pokecenters, I've met a lot of Pokemon and not all of them were nice. And my Dad is a photographer; he works for a big magazine in Castelia, but he goes all over the world to get pictures of nature, really deep in the wilderness where most people wouldn’t dare go. When he comes home, sometimes he takes me out on a hike to see wild Pokemon. But no matter how many Pokemon I met, I was always scared by the Grass types.”

    At that point, Angel paused in her cleaning and looked up at her. “Tssil.”

    “Wish I knew what you guys meant,” Rosa said, plopping down on her pillow. “Most girls would say they were scared by Bug types, but that doesn’t bug me about you. Or they’re scared of Ghost or Dark types. I got teased sometimes because I didn’t like Grass types. Oh, but don’t take me wrong. I’m getting to like you too.”

    She sighed, then sat back up to turn her light off.

    “Well, we’ve got to get back to work and toughen up so that we can beat Cheren too. Maybe I’ll ask Nate what level his Pokemon are and we’ll aim for that. I just hope Cheren isn’t disappointed in me. I thought that maybe, if I got the badge from him first, then he’d get more interested in me. Ah, but he was friends with Hilda, wasn’t he? Maybe he likes her better than he says.”

    Rosa tried to put that out of her mind for now, but she had an uneasy night.
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    One of the things I loved in the sequels that was story-related is the Memory Link scenes. The scene with the breeder is the first one you can access; it triggers N's old Pokemon to appear in the wild, even if you can't get to them until you pass Castelia. Actually, I was able to adapt that scene pretty easily to match up with a scene in the first ClicheStorm, which was great. Some of you might even know which Pokemon N is talking about.

    Also, Cheren is a tough Leader for being the first. Work Up + Tackle + Normal Pokemon is brutal if you let them stay a couple of rounds. One of the NPCs in the school even comments that your best tactic is probably just brute strength (speed helps too, as does Static). Even if you pick up a Riolu, the first Fight move it gets is Counter.

    Although, last time I played, I had transported a Frillish egg as soon as I could... and that still wasn't easy because Cheren's Pokemon have Bite! Apparently, the harder version of his Gym battle includes a Pidove, although it doesn't seem to have a Fly move to counter Fight Pokemon.

    As for last chapter's type confusion, I keep thinking that Ice resist Water when it resists Ice... bleh. I'll try to fix it later.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl View Post
    Although, last time I played, I had transported a Frillish egg as soon as I could... and that still wasn't easy because Cheren's Pokemon have Bite!
    I hear that. I had the same problem with my Drifloon in Aspertia Gym. It's not just Cheren, either- every single Pokemon in that Gym has Bite. Well, obviously, the Pidove in Challenge Mode wouldn't, but still.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl View Post
    One of the things I loved in the sequels that was story-related is the Memory Link scenes. The scene with the breeder is the first one you can access; it triggers N's old Pokemon to appear in the wild, even if you can't get to them until you pass Castelia. Actually, I was able to adapt that scene pretty easily to match up with a scene in the first ClicheStorm, which was great. Some of you might even know which Pokemon N is talking about.
    I thought it was pretty interesting myself, seeing how I always assumed that the Memory Links would be as a simple recount of the events, rather than an actual sequence playing in your head.

    Pricilla noooooooo D:

    EDIT: Hmm, actually the scene took place in Chargestone Cave. If you wanted to be really accurate, you could shift it to Pricilla dying outside the cave instead and move the setting to its original location.

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    Of course, using Counter on a +1 Tackle is pretty much a guaranteed way to win. At least, against one of them. Waiting until you get Force Palm works too.

    And as you said, Paralyzing it via T-Wave or Static is a perfectly valid strategy too. As is (for some people I know) resetting until Ember Burns it.
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    Ok, I've got a conspiracy theory brewing here... Keldeo appeared 15 years ago. I forget how old Rosa is, but I'm sure she's around that age. Rosa's parents mentioned Keldeo and gave Rosa an artifact of his. It seems possible that Keldeo visited Rosa's parents and reincarnated as Rosa. This would explain her love for water pokemon. Am I onto something here?
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    The Dark Confusion. Keldeo is quite important to this story, so it seems. Is Nate a Boy from the real world that entered the World of Pokemon or, He's Keldeo? Never mind, don't answer that. I'll be patient. Anyways, I do have some question! (Beware of Spoilers)Since in Pokemon Black and White 2, Team Plasma is using Kyurem's power to rule Unova, and the world. But, if Kyurem is in Team Plasma's Clutches, What of Hilda? Did Team Plasma do something to her? Why is Keldeo everywhere and yet nowhere? Questions......


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    @Ga'Hooleone: Right Pokemon, but wrong scene. The scene here relates to when N initially released Priscilla; note the remarks on a cave and a daycare being nearby, plus it taking place at night. As for the canon scene, I don't think I recognized the cave they used. Been a while since I saw it (considering doing a third playthrough...)

    to 3D992 and Dormant: Good questions. It will get more confusing next chapter!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl View Post
    As for the canon scene, I don't think I recognized the cave they used. Been a while since I saw it (considering doing a third playthrough...)
    It was Chargestone Cave.

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    Oh, the noooo part was referring to her getting released. That's why I said if you wanted it to be more accurate you could change it to her dying.

    See here: http://serebii.net/black2white2/memorylink.shtml
    The picture in the flashbacks is a shot of the first Memory Link you encounter, which involves N and the breeder/grunt in Chargestone Cave (you can see the sepia rock which was one of the magnetic rocks on the right there).

    This is all nitpicking of course, like I mentioned I still enjoyed how you pulled off the scene greatly.

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