Thread: Rough Skin
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Old 04-06-2016, 04:47 PM   #10
DaveTheFishGuy
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Winter was always rough out in the open sea. Storms could build up far out from land, growing in intensity with no land to disrupt their absorption of water from the ocean below. Waves could build for hundreds of miles before breaking on a distant shore, and hurricanes could slurp up more and more moisture to become continent-spanning forces of destruction. Even here, in the tropical Sapphire Islands, the bite of winter swept up from the Glacier Islands far to the South, bringing the temperature down to levels that made the natives shiver, while breakers rolled in from the open sea, their icy bite closing beaches and forcing people inland, or at least indoors.

...not that this was much if you were raised in Sinnoh, of course. Dave was more than comfortable in this weather. In fact, in Pastoria City this was pretty decent even for a Spring or Autumn day, let alone Winter. By this time of year, ice would have encased the Great Marsh and locked the town in snow. The fisherman was happy outside, though most of his Pokémon had retreated to the safety of their habitats, be they the forests, the mangroves across the bay, or the interior of the Rough Skin herself. They weren't as used to these temperate climes as he. The core members of his team remained, willing to brace the occasional chill in the air. It was on one such day, sky overcast, but not threatening rain, that the trainer was outside, double-checking the submarine's exterior panelling. She hadn't been to sea for a while, and wouldn't until the waves had settled down, but it never hurt to make sure she was weather-proof.

Angua's bark was the first thing that caught his attention. The Houndour's keen nose was almost always how he knew that someone, or something, was approaching. Shimmying down the ladder he'd been climbing, he turned, walking over to the Fire-type as she stared at the forest across the plain, focusing on the small path that ran through it. Aside from crossing the mangroves, it was the only way to reach the mooring site by land, and so was the obvious path any visitors might take. He reached down, petting the hellpup behind the ears, calming her down and causing her to sit, though a low growl still rumbled in her throat. As they watched, a figure appeared between the trees, slowly crossing the field toward their position. As it got closer, it became obvious that it was another man, if older than the fisherman. Maybe late thirties. His appearance was a little ragged, but fitting for someone who spent a lot of time on the road, certainly not rough, or homeless, a trenchcoat and a deerstalker protecting him from the elements. As he approached, he removed his hat, revealing a face lined with stubble, lank, dirty-blond hair blowing back in the sea breeze. "Dave Wells?"

The fisherman blinked, almost surprised that his name was known. Angua's growl deepened, but a quick look quieted her. "...that's me." he replied, cautiously, a flash of purple caught the corner of his eye - he didn't have to turn to know that Jason had just appeared on the gangway behind him. The Croagunk wouldn't be menacing toward the trainer, or intimidating... just there, flexing his muscles with the rhythmic croaking that showed his breathing. "But you appear to have me at a disadvantage, sir." he added, able to sense movement all around him. Carrot sidled up to Angua, nuzzling against his girlfriend and yawning softly, the Luxio's fur giving a brief flash of blue electricity. He didn't even have to look up to know that somewhere, amid the overcast sky, the red-capped gaze of Rincewind would be silently observing too. He had good friends.

The man chuckled, not seeming phased by the three Pokémon at his back. And why should he? Houndour, Luxio and Croagunk, though the right shape, were hardly intimidating in stature. But that was why his powerhouses were out of sight. Not only was Rincewind covering the sky, but a pastel-green lump of rock down on the beach would be discovered to be Detritus' Tyranitar-hewed shell if disturbed, plus the huge bulk of Tethys rested offshore. "My name... call me... 'Sundance'." he replied, earning something of a snort of derision from the fisherman. "I take it you get the reference." he added, with a slight grin at his features.

"You could say that. That movie was one of the few things that bought my father and I together." Dave replied, clearly bristling, and not just from the chill in the air. "...not like we saw eye-to-eye on much else." he added, muttering a bit. "So, 'Sundance', what brings you all the way out here? Don't exactly got a lot of visitors, and you're a hell of a ways off-course if you're lost. Nearest town's a good five miles along the coast." he asked, tilting his head a bit.

The stranger chuckled dryly, unfolding his arms for a small bow. "Rest assured, Mr. Wells, I am not lost. I sought you out entirely deliberately. I've heard tales of your exploits, especially your little, ah, début in the Desert of Illusion. Averting such a catastrophe could only have been achieved by a skilled trainer. With skilled Pokémon." he explained. Dave grit his teeth. He was proud of his work in the Arcane Realm, but he was getting sick of being made out to be some kind of hero. He'd just done what anyone in his position would have. "In particular, I heard that your Remoraid possesses uncanny aiming ability, even for its species."

That caught his attention. "Suzi's a good shot, that's true enough. What's it to you, Sundance? ...wait, no, don't tell me." he muttered, raising one hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "You're using the pseudonym Sundance because you're some kind of master of accuracy, right?" he asked, his inner cynic leading him down the path of logic. Another dry chuckle from the other man's lips proved his suspicions.

"Very good, Mr. Wells. Yes, I pride myself on being the finest Pokémon marksman in the whole of Fizzytopia. I have a reputation, which affords me certain... benefits." Sundance replied, somewhat cryptically. "So when I hear of some new up-and-coming trainer with the potential to rival me, well, that won't do. I have to seek them out and see how I measure up to them. Preferably with me on top." That grizzled face was now smirking dangerously, causing the hairs on the back of Dave's neck to prickle. "So, Mr. Wells, I come to issue a challenge. We have ourselves a little shootout. Not at each other, but testing our Pokémon's aiming abilities. Our two best sharp-shooters try to see who's most on-target."

The fisherman nodded, even if he wasn't too sure about this situation. Twin growls now sounded behind him, Carrot and Angua voicing their suspicions in harmony. he cast an eye over his shoulder, shaking his head just a bit to warn them off, cutting the noises in their throats. This could be interesting... and he had all his exits covered. Almost fifty Pokémon surrounded the area, even if some were less loyal than he'd like. Even if this guy was fully-loaded, that only meant six. "...sure, I've got an idea of who to use." he replied, relaxing slightly. "But not up here. My candidates are... limited in their movement." he nodded down the coast of the cove, around from the Rough Skin's moorings to where the ground sloped down into a beach, just before the tangle of Mangroves. "Down there." As he turned to lead the way, he looked back at the duo at his back, speaking softly. "Get the word out. Have Suzi and Trevor meet me down there as soon as possible."

The pair of mammals nodded, before darting away. Carrot shot back up the gangway, likely to clamber down into the hold and use the submarine's external doors to communicate the message to anyone inside. Angua darted ahead, down to the beach, no doubt seeking any aquatic messengers of her own. "But of course, an even playing field is only fair. If you're using the Remoraid I heard of, forcing it to fight on land is hardly balanced." Sundance replied as the two walked down the coastal slope. "Not that it matters, of course. I guess it'll just determine how little you lose by." he added, causing a flash of heat to sear down Dave's back, the lad shooting the older man a glare.

"Guess there's only one way to find out." he replied softly, the two soon reaching the beach. Sure enough, his messengers had done their work, his chosen sharp-shooters resting in the surf. A pale blue fish, fins arranged to be reminiscent of a gun's grips, mouth at the very front for maximum aim, bobbed alongside one of similar origin, though more vertically oriented, a grasping tail beneath and a turret-like head atop, held steady with a fanning dorsal fin down its back. He smiled at the two, knowing their bond went deeper than mere biology - he knew that the Remoraid and Horsea were something of an item, even if he wasn't too sure as to the full extent of their relationship. Still, he suspected that whatever it was, it would help out with this challenge. "Well then, Sundance, here's my two competitors. Now how about yours?" he asked, turning back to the visitor.

The stranger looked over the two, tilting his head. "Huh. I thought for sure you'd have evolved your Remoraid by now. Maybe it isn't as powerful as I thought." he muttered, causing Dave's eyes to narrow, Suzi mirroring the expression. Withdrawing two PokéBalls, Sundance tossed one to the ground, and the other into the surf nearby, releasing his chosen shapshooters. At his feet appeared a large, fuzzy arachnid, golden fur sparking with electricity as its many eyes looked around the area. The water housed another arthropod, this one unfolding its segmented body, but the main feature was the absolutely ridiculous claw sticking from the side. Dave stared at it - the creature resembled a Crawdaunt, but with a far larger appendage. He recognised the Galvantula at Sundance's feet, but this other Pokémon was new on him. Possibly a Kalos native - he was still getting used to the new discoveries. He slid out his PokéDex, flipping the turquoise device open, and scanned the crustacean with it.

"Clawitzer, the Howitzer Pokémon. The evolved form of Clauncher. Water-type. Their enormous claws launch cannonballs of water powerful enough to pierce tanker hulls. By expelling water from the nozzle in the back of its claw, it can move at a speed of 60 knots." the machine reported in that smooth, almost smug way that PokéDexes are wont to speak in. Dave closed the database, an eyebrow raised. "Blimey, that's some speed." he muttered, at which the huge shrimp snapped its huge claw closed with a loud CRACK! "Well, you certainly seem to have me outgunned in terms of raw power, Sundance. But we'll just have to see if that can translate to accuracy." Dave afforded himself a small smirk at that, the barbed comment causing the other man to blanch a little.

Wordlessly, the visitor swung a pack from his shoulder, opening it to retrieve a box, which he set down on the sand. Pressing a button, the construct swiftly unfolded, exposing its contents. Dave had to tilt his head to work out what it was, but snorted a but once he had - a small, but obviously fully-functional, clay pigeon launcher. The machine spun a large barrel-like chamber, six slots dotted around the centre, each filled with small discs. It tilted up and down, before stopping, settled on a trajectory. "I designed it myself. Well. I had input on its design. Capable of launching over 500 metres at up to a 75 degree angle. Able to be aimed manually or set to random. To give us an even playing field, of course. There's no way my Pokémon could be trained to follow it if it changes angle and force every shot." Sundance explained, producing a remote from his pocket that clearly operated the device. "We'll take turns. Galvantula, then your Remoraid, then Clawitzer, then your Horsea. Each target scores a point. First team to fall three points behind the other loses. Sound fair?"

The fisherman mulled it over for a moment, gaze turning to his pair of Pokémon. Both fish nodded, which he returned. "Sounds fair." he replied. "I think we're ready, so feel free to kick things off whenever you'd like."

Sundance grinned, looking to his Galvantula. "Rapid Thunderbolt as soon as you can." he said, the spider nodding in reply, the hairs coating its body bristling and sparking with electricity. Raising the remote, both the trainer and his Pokémon looked over the bay, where the turret was aiming. "Pull!"

At that, Sundance pressed the remote, causing one of the discs loaded into the machine to fire outward at a steep angle. The shooter immediately rotated so that it was primed for the next shot, while Galvantula's bright, beady eyes took in the trajectory, the height, the wind, and the arachnid flashed as a small jolt of voltage left its body, streaking through the air before striking the target, causing the disc to shatter into dust with a flash of light. Dave, and both his Pokémon, gaped slightly at the display, before the fisherman caught himself, looking down to see Sundance smirking at him. He'd never seen a Thunderbolt attack used so briefly... or so quickly. This might actually be tricky.

"Well. This'll be interesting then." he murmured, looking to Suzi. "But nothing we can't handle. Ready, love?" he asked, the remora giving an affirmative click in response as she turned to look over the bay. "Alright then, let's try a rapid Water Gun. Pull!" At the command, Sundance pressed the remote again, the turret casting another disc out over the water, at a lower angle this time. Suzi reacted instantly, eyes locking onto the target and releasing a burst of water from her mouth. Rather than the usual torrents he was used to seeing from her, this was a small, almost bullet-like shot, streaking through the air to close fast on the clay. It wasn't a clean hit, but the burst hit with enough force to snap a good third of the pigeon off, sending the rest to splash into the water below. "Yeah!" Dave yelled, pumping a fist, before looking over to Sundance, who nodded reservedly.

"Not bad for a beginner. But you'll need to improve your technique if you want to win this." he replied, before looking down to his Clawitzer. The arthropod looked back, bright yellow eyes flashed behind a black, mask-like stripe. "Pull!" Another disc was sent firing out at a fairly neutral angle, around 45 degrees. The Water-type brandished its outrageous claw, training the appendage on the flying target's path, before loudly snapping shut. The impact sent a blast of water outward similar to Suzi's but oh-so-much stronger. The orb was almost solid as it streaked outward, smashing the disc dead-centre and shattering it into pieces that rained into the water. The execution was smoother, faster, more impressive that Suzi's attempt, causing the fisherman to gulp slightly. What other Pokémon did Sundance have, if this hulking brute was one of his best snipers?

Shaking off the momentary nerves, the younger man looked down to his second choice, smiling warmly at Trevor. If the small seahorse was cowed by the larger Water-type's display, he didn't show it. But then the Horsea line was a draconic lineage - whether Trevor knew that or not, he couldn't say. But he'd always had much more attitude than his body should be able to hold. The fish simply nodded in response to an unanswered question, knowing what he had to do. "Pull!" Dave said, and yet another disc was slung out. Again, this one was low to the deck, almost skimming out over the water. Trevor puffed up before releasing a blast of water similar to his comrade's, a small, bullet-like like shot that streaked after its target... only to miss by mere centimetres. The small orb of water splashed into the water, followed by a larger impact as the disc sunk as well, leaving the fishy trio stunned. The Horsea slumped a little in the water, gaze lowering in embarrassment, before his girlfriend nuzzled up to him with a reassuring click. Trevor nodded, puffing back up, red eyes narrowing in determination before casting them back to his trainer. Dave simply smiled, flashing the seahorse a thumbs-up. "Don't worry bud. You'll get the next one, I know it." he said, causing Trevor to nod.

The trainer then turned his gaze back to Sundance, bracing himself as the older trainer simply held up a finger on one hand, while the other remained a closed fist. "One-nil to me, Mr. Wells. Better get your team up to spec, or this'll be the fastest challenge I've ever cleaned up." the older man smirked, causing Dave to grit his teeth, suppressing a small growl in the back of his throat. "Pull!"

And thus it continued. Disc after disc was fired out into the bay, each one being nailed by a bullet-like blast of water or jolt of electricity. Trevor's form improved instantly, not letting his unlucky first shot get him down, and the score was held for a good few rounds. True to Sundance's word, every release was at a different speed or trajectory, no two being entirely alike, and yet all four Pokémon were able to keep pace. Suzi and Trevor had a few wobbly hits that merely clipped the pigeons and snapped parts off them, but they still counted, keeping them in the running.

There was a change in fortune about fifteen rounds in, though Dave was too focused on the action to pay attention to how many turns had been taken. Sundance's Clawitzer was preparing to take a shot, bringing that massive claw to bare, keen eyes watching for the movement it knew was coming. "Pull!" cried the older trainer, and the turret fired a disc out... almost straight up, the machine hitting its 75-degree apex. Clawitzer's eyes widened as it worked out the trajectory, and leaned backward to attempt a more vertical short. But that huge arm overbalanced it. The snap of its closing exoskeleton echoed out, a blast of water shooting up... and missing the disc by a good metre as it descended, plunging into the drink just offshore as the crustacean rolled backward. It soon righted itself, the only damage being to its pride as it looked to its trainer, abashed. Sundance's glare could have cooked the huge prawn where it stood, causing Dave to roll his eyes. No matter how well-trained, Sundance still clearly wouldn't tolerate failure from his Pokémon.

"I guess that makes us level again." he said, simply, earning a glare of his own, a small smirk curling on the fisherman's lips. He was slowly figuring the sharpshooter out. "Pull!" he called, and Trevor soon obliterated yet another target. Again, things went back to being steady, but the fisherman could almost sense Sundance's frustration. He got the feeling the stranger was used to doing opponents in completely by this stage of the contest.

Things went back and forth - Suzi missed a shot a couple of rounds later, but was swiftly followed by another blunder from Clawitzer. More good luck followed a few rounds later. It was Galvantula this time, caught off-guard by a near 0-degree shot from the turret. The disc skimmed the surface of the water, before splashing down for good just before the bolt of electricity could catch up. The spider shrunk inward a bit, legs folding as its trainer's glare burned down on it, while Dave afforded himself a small fistpump. He considered asking the obvious, but given how quickly the other man's face was moving toward thundering territory, he decided against it.

The minutes ticked by, but both his Pokémon seemed to have found their form. Neither of them missed a single disc for the next few rounds, while Sundance's selections seemed to be struggling. Next to slip was Clawitzer again. The launcher released its disc at a fairly neutral angle, but much faster than usual. By the time the crustacean had taken aim and fired, the target was way out of reach, the shot falling a few feet short before the pidgeon plunged into the drink. Dave didn't even have to look to know that Sundance's face would be a mask of incandescent rage. But he did anyway. Clawitzer was almost cowering as its trainer stared down at it, causing Dave's building smirk of contentment to stifle, the fisherman's brow furrowing instead.

There was a heart-stopping moment a few minutes later when Trevor missed another shot, the turret firing just too flat and too fast for the Horsea to track properly, not even managing to launch his attack before the clay dropped into the water with a muted splash. Dave simply smiled reassuringly at the Horsea - while there was a vast amount of skill involved in this... 'game', there was an almost equal measure of luck. Sundance smirked for a moment, before the next shot was lost by his Galvantula, a fast, high-angle shot going just too quickly for the spider to hit, even with its increased vision. During the contest, Dave had wondered why his challenger was using the arachnid, discretely checking his PokéDex before realising that some Galvantula had the Compound Eyes ability, increasing their accuracy, even for powerful attacks like thunder.

Ultimately, it was a strange, slow shot that decided the match. It was a neutral 45-degree angle, but the disc fired much more slowly than normal. Clawitzer, trying to make up for its earlier mistakes, overcompensated. A blast of water streaked through the air a couple of metres in front of the projectile, which dropped into the water with a loud splash. Dave raised both fists into the air in silent triumph, while Suzi and Trevor both gave delighted twirls in the water. Turning, the fisherman froze instantly. Sundance was giving his Pokémon a Look, the capital L being most justified, while Clawitzer was just numb, going limp on the floor. He couldn't help but feel sorry for the oversized shrimp. Well, until that glare was turned on him. "So. Uh. I guess I win." he offered, attempting not to cower backwards under the older man's glaze.

"No. This... this isn't possible. No-one beats me at this game. This is MY game, with MY rules!" the stranger exclaimed. The hairs on the back of Dave's neck were right up. He could sense that the other guy's sanity was beginning to slip. Desperate men could take desperate actions. "I can't let you win, Mr. Wells. And there's only one way to make sure that no-one will hear of this. Galvantula! Discharge both of them."

Dave's eyes widened in horror as the Bug-type's fuzz sparkled, a stream of electricity blasting outward to land between Suzi and Trevor, lashing out to strike both fish for crippling damage. "No! Stop, that's not fair!" he protested, aware that he sounded like a six-year-old. But he didn't care. His friends were being hurt. Both Water-types recovered, smoking a little, but they were stronger than their evolutionary stages were letting on. Two pairs of eyes narrowed. They were spent from their contest, and injured to boot, but they weren't prepared to take that lying down. Both mouths opened, disgorging twin Bubble Beams onto their aggressor, the streams of aquatic power bursting and popping around Galvantula to cause the chelicerate to stagger backward, pedipalps flailing.

"Weakling! Clawitzer, Sludge Bomb!" Sundance called, his other Pokémon raising that ridiculous claw into the air, snapping it a few times to release a salvo of poisonous projectiles. Suzi took point, her mouth opening to release a stream of wet earth, which was mirrored by her beloved. The Mud Shot and Muddy Water washed away the incoming explosives, causing them to detonate in mid-air or in the water around them, while their attacks carried on to strike the huge shrimp, binding its legs and washing into its eyes, affecting its speed and precious accuracy.

A feral-sounding growl tore from Dave's throat. There were few things that could anger him, but seeing such a devious assault launched upon his friends was one of them. "It's over, Sundance. You lost. I won't brag. I'd never heard of you before a few hours ago, who would I tell? Just go. Take your Pokémon and what pride you can muster and leave, before I have to get serious." he muttered, calm and flat like the surface of the sea before a monstrous hurricane swept in.

The other man merely sneered. "Boy, you don't even know who I am. None are allowed to be better than me. Accept your fate. Galvantula, Thunder. Clawitzer, Dragon Pulse. He commanded. Both Pokémon readied their attacks, the spider sparking dangerously while the shrimp levelled its monstrous claw again, before both released immense amounts of energy, one as a huge blast of electricity while the other emerged as a multicoloured, dragon-shaped stream, closing quickly. Both fish shrunk back against each other, defiance in their eyes as the attacks bore down impacting so hard as to kick up spray and steam.

But as the smoke cleared, it was clear that there was... nothing there, just empty water. A few metres away, the surface rippled, the two fish reappearing, having managed to Dive to safety. Slowly, they approached the shore again, but there was something in their eyes, matching the anger of their trainer. Their exertions in the accuracy contest had improved their strength, and this unexpected attack was pushing them to their limits. Limits that they had to extend by any means necessary. And only one way was an option. Both Water-types looked to each other, before nodding... and glowing.

All eyes were on the duo now. Sundance's, his Pokémon, and especially Dave. His oldest friend and her chosen partner were both enveloped in a bright white glow, their forms becoming indistinct as they morphed and warped. Trevor remained relatively similar, his form becoming longer and bulkier, his snout lengthening, his fins becoming more jagged and spiky, but Suzi was becoming quite a different animal. Her compact, streamlined form folded in on itself before erupting outward again, a large head rearing up while several long tentacles sprouted from below her body, trailing in the water. As the glow faded, Trevor was still recognisable, the merely a larger, meaner version of his previous form, but Suzi was entirely changed, the levelling her cannon-like snout toward the shore.

Dave's face split into a wide grin, which he turned on Sundance, who seemed to have lost his nerve. "For a minute there, I thought we were in trouble. Well, there you are Sundance. That Remoraid you heard so much about has evolved at last. Along with her boyfriend." he stated, feeling more confident than ever. "Shame you didn't run when you had the chance. I don't even need to order them now. They can take care of you all by themselves." Before the stranger could even issue a command, both newly-evolved creatures acted. Suzi puffed up, the Octillery's snout flaring as she exhaled a burst of flame that spread wider and wider, becoming a star-like shape that billowed outward. The Fire Blast slowly moved toward Sundance's Galvantula, but that wasn't all. Trevor exuded a gout of flame himself, a vicious Firestream blasting from the Seadra's snout to help the huge, fiery construct rocket along, faster than the spider could react. A scream of pain tore from the Bug-type as it was enveloped and roasted, hairs scorched and body cooked. When the flames died down, the Electric-type was limp on the ground, smoking gently, out of the fight.

Seeing what happened to its comrade, Clawitzer brandished its huge weapon toward the duo as they turned their gazes to him. Trevor looked to his girlfriend, before twisting his snout in as close to a smirk as he could get. A blast of almost black water left his mouth as he used Suzi's species' signature move, the Octazooka washing over the crustacean and affecting its already-compromised accuracy even more, ink washing into its eyes and nearly blinding it. Its claw wavered, sliding back and forth impotently, which Suzi took full advantage of. Several dark green orbs left the Octillery's mouth, arcing through the air to rain down on the later Water-type with a series of explosions, the Seed Bomb ravaging the oversized shrimp as the two living artillery pieces waged war. This proved to be just too much, the prawn slumping to the deck alongside the cooked Galvantula, both of Sundance's sharpshooters dispatched in as many minutes.

At this display, Sundance was actually shaking, stepping backward to run right into a rock that had not been there a few minutes ago. A large, square, stratified, pastel-green rock. Turning, the drifter regarded it for a moment before trying to walk around it. A feat which was rendered impossible as a claw shot out of a hole at its base, gripping his ankle. The man grunted, struggling weakly against his binds as the rock rose up, Detritus' imposing face appearing next to the claw, giving a defiant roar to his trainer's aggressor. Dave stepped up to the other human, Suzi slithering out of the water to squelch across the sand, enjoying being able to move by herself on land for the first time, while Trevor remained in the water, still bound to it, as he would be for his entire life.

"I should really thank you for giving them both the push they needed. But I won't. There's a reason I stay away from people. I'm not a nice person, at least to other humans. You could probably call me a sociopath." the fisherman stated, voice barely above a whisper. "Now. You've had you game, and lost. You've tried to attack me, and failed. Leave now, or I'll have Detritus Rock Wrecker you over the horizon. This is, by the way, the Crustle the killed the Beast in the Desert of Illusion. That rock's part of his hide, part of his prize. Or compensation. He's been through far worse shit than dealing with a piece of scum like you." He never raised his voice, not even once. That was probably what sent a shiver down Sundance's own spine.

The stranger nodded, wrenching his foot free of the Rock-type's relaxed grip. "Alright, I'm going. But this isn't over, Mr. Wells. Someday I'll get you back for this... humiliation." he spat, before hurriedly recalling his fainted Pokémon and dashing away, leaving his miniature clay pigeon launcher behind. The four watched him scramble back up the slope and across the plain to the forest, and out of sight. As he vanished, the orange streak of Hyper Beam rained down from the sky above, impacting just behind the fleeing figure, Rincewind clearly having some parting words of his own to share with the interloper.

Exhaling loudly, Dave allowed himself to slump against Detritus' rocky shell, the Crustle supporting his trainer easily. Wiping a sheen of sweat from his brow, the human looked down at the sensation of something against his ankle, Suzi having dragged herself closer and starting to crawl up his leg. Reaching down, he scooped the cephalopod up in his arms, giving her a squeezing hug, which she returned, arms wrapping around his body. "Nice going, love. We've both come a long way since Pastoria, huh?" he asked. His oldest friend has now achieved her final form. That was some kind of milestone, at least. He offered Trevor a small nod, the Seadra returning the gesture. He still had some growing to do, and he had something stashed in the Rough Skin's hold that could help with that... when he was ready.

Setting the mollusc down, he let her slide back to the water to rejoin her beau. "You two go relax. You've earned it." he said, both nodding in understanding before sinking out of sight into the depths of the bay. Detritus grunted behind him, causing Dave to reach back and run a hand along that green shell of his. Their greatest adversary was now a piece of his friend's being There were few better parallels you could draw for maturity and growth. But he still had a long, long way to go. "Thanks man. Stay alert, yeah. Just in case." he muttered, the Crustle's shell shaking in a nod before his head and claw withdrew into it. As the fisherman began to walk back toward his dwelling, Angua and Carrot appeared at his sides as if from nowhere. He knew they'd have his back if they needed it. But they hadn't. This time. Both rubbed up against his legs as he walked, causing him to chuckle dryly as he headed home, another milestone reached. One of many.


{Congratulations! Your Suzi evolved into Octillery!}

{Suzi learned Gunk Shot!}

{Suzi learned Rock Blast!}

{Suzi learned Constrict!}

{Suzi learned Octazooka!}

{Congratulations! Your Trevor evolved into Seadra!}

{Trevor learned Hydro Pump!}
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