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Old 04-26-2021, 01:34 PM   #1
Prof.Enigma
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Scraggy New Fizz City: The Metropolitan Zone



New Fizz City stands as a shining beacon of hope and prosperity for the world of Fizzy Bubbles. Built on the shores of Cape Effervescence over two centuries ago, the city started root as a trading port which fell into great prosperity during the industrial revolution. The port town attracted people from far and wide in search of a better life, quickly growing into a diverse and bustling metropolis sprawling for miles across the land and stretching way up into the clouds. As the modern urban center of Fizzytopia, New Fizz City boasts significant high-rise development, widespread use of cars and motorcycles, and one of the most extensive transit systems in the world; from its subway and commuter trains to the world-famous yellow cabs that shuffle along the city streets, there is just about nowhere you can’t get to in the city.

Famed for its vibrant neighborhoods and unparalleled culture, New Fizz City is a proud cultural melting pot where you are sure to encounter trainers from every walk of life. While city folk have a strong sense of community you will find them just as welcoming to outsiders, although tourists are advised to keep out of certain districts after dark with growing poverty giving rise to increased crime and gang activity. While green spaces are hard to come by in the concrete jungle, many species of Pokemon have learned to adapt to urban life. Resident strays have a certain street smart about them making them valuable companions, provided you can win their trust. As the locals will tell you, the city that never sleeps holds adventure on every street corner. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!


Downtown - The Business & Commercial District

Downtown reply in Slate Gray
Downtown is the bustling financial center of New Fizz City and its most urbanized area, with historically laidback zoning restrictions giving rise to the tallest high-rises in the city. The biggest, busiest and most crowded area in the city, downtown it is a hive of activity for both shoppers and businesspeople alike; even if you're not mesmerized by the city's soaring skyscrapers and monuments, you'll be blown away by its flourishing arts, food, and fashion scenes. From famed museums and art galleries to world class sporting venues, you could live a lifetime and not experience all the amazing things downtown has to offer.

Municipal Plaza: The beating heart of the city, Municipal Plaza holds many of the buildings necessary to keep New Fizz ticking, including its city hall, banks, hospitals, schools and universities. The headquarters of both the New Fizz Police Department and the Fizzytopian Investigation Bureau are also present here. What the plaza lacks in wild Pokemon it more than makes up for in human activity - you’d be hard pressed not to get swept up in adventure strolling through Municipal Plaza.​

Commercial Boulevard: For those who love window shopping and spending major bucks, Commercial Boulevard is a great place to start. Lined with stores as far as the eye can see, if you’re looking for a particular item you can bet you’ll find it here. Even if you don’t have a goal in mind, browse the shop window displays for long enough and something is sure to steal your attention. The city council endeavors to keep wild Pokemon away from Commercial Boulevard, but that hasn’t stopped strays spilling out from its back alleys. ​

Amity Gardens: Spanning hundreds of acres, Amity Gardens is a popular meeting point among tourists and locals alike, offering much needed respite from the city hustle and bustle. The gardens make up for the city’s lack of green space and then some, boasting botanicals from around the world and a number of artificial lakes where swimming and fishing are permitted. Although urban Pokemon often spill out into the park, Amity Gardens boasts a more rural assortment of Pokemon found nowhere else in the city.​

Battle Tower: Behind the city’s most impressive skyscraper you’ll find one of the world’s most state-of-art battle facilities, the Battle Tower! With a number of play formats to choose from, challengers are tasked with battling their way to the top of the tower, facing increased difficulty at each level. Plucky trainers are awarded useful battle items depending on how far they progress. Make it all the way to the rooftop and you’ll face the mysterious Tower Tycoon – but beware, they haven’t lost to a challenger yet!​

Central Station: Explore the region’s largest subway system, the flowing arteries of the city that never sleeps. Almost as old as the city itself, the urban dungeon exists beneath an expansive succession of support arches. All tracks lead through Central and will take you wherever you need to go, whether that be the colorful districts of uptown or the far reaches of city limits. The station is complete with one section of non-working subway cars taken over as a hangout by local youth subcultures; journey deeper into these decommissioned tunnels and you’ll discover an ecosystem of underground Pokemon.
Uptown - The Culture & Entertainment Districts
Hoodlem Reply in Orange
Hoodlem is economically poor and the most deprived of the five boroughs in New Fizz City, characterized by its run-down housing projects, pockets of small-time businesses and shops that have presumably failed shortly after their establishment. Although the district has industrial roots, it has been experiencing gentrification over the last few years with tourists seeking to escape the downtown hustle in favor of this urban shangri-la. Abandoned buildings and decrepit warehouses are a common sight in Hoodlem, overrun with wild Pokemon that give even the local street gangs a hard time.

Alto Bridge: One of the world’s longest suspension bridges, Alto Bridge connects Hoodlem and neighboring districts with downtown New Fizz. It is considered a historic staple of the New Fizz City skyline, transporting commuter car traffic underneath and touristic foot traffic above. Standing before its incredible arches with city skyscrapers rising in the distance will inspire a sense of grandiosity, just watch out for strong winds and swooping flying-type Pokemon!​

Rockabout Row: Located directly under the Alto Bridge overpass, you’ll find the most down-and-divey bars New Fizz City has to offer. Rockabout Row is packed with every type of scene from biker bars to punk warehouses - just be prepared for sticky floors, tagged bathrooms, and dubious clientele. Where many bars in the city discourage bringing Pokemon, the grungy hangouts of Rockabout Row encourage it, often sporting fighting cages where patrons can partake in a battle or a bet.​

Kickflip Park: Grab your board, throw on your baggy pants, and tuck the hat down as low as it’ll go – you’ve just arrived at Kickflip Park. Situated deep in the Hoodlem ghettos, the skatepark is loaded with ledges, ramps, pipes and plenty of bowls which are used for battling as much as skating – stick around long enough and you’re bound to be challenged by a resident youth or stray Pokemon. Just be sure to check out of there by nightfall when the park becomes a popular meeting point for criminals and street gangs.

Neon East Reply in Yellow Green
As you walk up the stairs from the dark underground subway, give your eyes a minute to adjust to the bright pulsating lights of Neon East. This futuristic district looks like something from a page of cyberpunk fiction, blocks covered in flashing billboards and holographic signage that blanket your field of vision; it’s said on a clear night the glow of its colorful multi-storey shops and arcades are visible all the way from the high-rise balconies of downtown! With unparalleled nightlife and entertainment, Neon East is a thrilling location to visit, as well as an interesting and vibrant place to live for those of means.

Sparkling Strip: You’ve heard New Fizz is the city that never sleeps, now meet the venues that are keeping residents up. If you’re looking for a night on the town Sparkling Strip is the place to be, from glitzy rooftop bars with swimming pools to underground raves which go on until sunrise, there’s a scene for every style. Pokemon are usually only allowed out in VIP areas, so you’ll need to rub shoulders with the right crowd if you want access to this privilege.​

Florescent Funfair: Tucked away in the high-rises is one of Fizzytopia’s most popular fairgrounds, with all the typical trappings from carousels and bumper cars to waltzes and a tunnel of love. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or spectator, the fairground offers something for everyone – although only the truly fearless should take on the Dazzler, a rollercoaster that reaches as high as the tallest skyscrapers with a 250km/h drop speed. The florescent lights and high-voltage machinery are a magnet for city-dwelling electric-types.​

Grey Matter Labs: The tallest tower in Neon East lays host to a thinktank of the world’s most renowned professors and inventors. Grey Matter serve as an incubator for the city's startup scene, and are behind many of the district’s technological leaps. Resident geniuses are close to a breakthroughs in a range of fields, from fossil revival to dream monitoring. What they are short on however is subjects to test their experiments – volunteers will be handsomely rewarded.
Bohem Reply in Deep Pink
If you want to get away from the traffic and crowds to kick back with the more beatnik populace of New Fizz City, head on over to Bohem. Years ago, artists seeking affordable housing, open studio space, and a lifestyle away from the mainstream metropolis seeped into this deteriorating industrial district and gave it new verve. They converted the abandoned warehouses into lofted art studios, independent galleries, and coffee shops buzzing with character. Visitors are invited to pull up a chair at the local coffee shop or stroll through its galleries, where you’ll meet all manner of artists, musicians and creative types.

Artisan Avenue: The streets of Bohem are a blank canvas for the city’s most talented street artists; where this creative expression culminates is the aptly dubbed Artisan Avenue. The colourful street is closed off to road traffic, giving creatives free rein to brighten up abandoned storefronts, turn corrugated gates into canvases and cover entire apartment blocks in provocative murals. You’ll find the avenue sprawling at any given time with artists selling their crafts as well as a lively assortment of street performers, their acts occasionally interrupted by curious stray Pokemon.​

Milcery Patisserie: Follow the waft of fresh baked pastries to what is considered the best (and most photogenic) coffee shops in town. The Kalosian inspired patisserie may be small, but its owners are big on serving some of the best pastries you’ll ever see. Customers flock from around the globe bringing all sorts of colorful tales with them, just be sure to arrive during off-peak times since it's tough to land a seat. ​

The Foundry: Not all art in Bohem is just for show, this metalwork makerspace is living proof of that. The Foundry is a multi-floor warehouse where metal is melted and poured into specially shaped molds to produce valuable items and special Pokeballs. If you’re looking to whet your welding appetite, metalworkers are often in need of an apprentice for the day. The high temperatures at The Foundry are suited to stray fire-types who take refuge in its lofts, often coming down to lend their firepower to the welding process.
Alderboro Reply in Khaki
Amidst the urban jungle you’ll also find a little pocket of history, Alderboro faithfully evoking the spirits of days long gone. Alderboro is the last remnants of New Fizz City before it was new, drawing both locals and tourists alike to its nostalgic, almost enigmatic charm. The neighborhood’s narrow winding streets are lined with attractive green spaces as well as cafes and shops passed down through generations, offering a perfect place to while away the afternoon. You’ll find time seems to move much slower in Alderboro.

Trader’s Bazaar: A bustling marketplace packed with food, clothing, and knick-knacks you’re not likely to find in the city’s shopping malls and boutiques. Beware of some of the dodgier vendors advertising fake items as genuine artefacts. If you're lucky, however, you may just find a gem amongst the junk.​

Remembrance Park [Shadow Area]: New Fizz City wasn’t always a land of peace and prosperity – as a reminder of its feudal era, a shrine was erected to forever remember citizens lost. Surrounding the shrine is a beautiful sakura-lined cemetery spanning acres of land. Despite its size, the graveyard is meticulously cared for and while peaceful for the most part, has its share of ghostly stories and tragic tales.​

Little Kanto: A vibrant and densely populated neighborhood founded by immigrants of Kanto and its neighboring regions – foodies and tourists come from all over for a taste of authentic sushi, ramen or famous fried Farfetch’d. The busy sidewalks are packed with souvenir stores, bubble tea shops, and markets selling everything you’d expect to find in the faraway region it pays homage to. There is also an abundance of green spaces where locals can be watched practicing traditional martial arts, stick around and they might be willing to teach you a move or two.
Fizzby Harbor Reply in Light Sea Green
The largest natural harbor on the Fizzytopian Coast and its busiest waterway, Fizzby Harbor welcomes thousands of ships carrying millions of metric tons of cargo from around the world each year. The harbor is also serviced by several cruise lines, commuter ferries, and tourist excursion boats; if you ask around you might just find a captain offering a sightseeing tour or a job on their boat. Further down the wharf, Fizzby Harbor is archetypical of a seaside funfair, with several attractions and a ferris wheel, though the promenade at night is a sight for sore eyes to drown their sorrows on.

Cape Effervescence: The main tourist draw of the harbor district, Cape Effervescence’s undersea vents leave the waters bubbly, but not chaotic enough to hamper swimming. While its coral reefs died long ago due to ongoing sea traffic pollution, water-types and other seafaring Pokemon can be nevertheless found in abundance. If you want a calm area to just fish and watch the ships go by, look no further. And don’t forget to record your catches! The cape’s famous fishing hut gives out prizes for the biggest or best catch of the day.​

Victory Island: Just a few miles out at sea lies Victory Island, one of the city’s most popular attractions. The island is home to a great monument depicting the hero who brought peace to New Fizz City and their partner, Victini. It is foretold that the mythical Pokemon still resides on the island and will at rare times appear to visitors to grant them insatiable fortune – to this point, budding Pokemon trainers often come here to train before exhibition matches. Be warned that the island Pokemon have a competitive spirit making them tough to contend with.​

Fizz City Sewers: Pinch your nose and take a manhole through to one of the oldest and most intricate sewer networks in the world. Every day, Fizz City Sewers transports billions of gallons of wastewater from homes, offices, stores, and factories to water treatment plants out in the city limits. It is also an interesting place to explore unto itself, the dark narrow walkways home to all kinds of lost treasures and sewer Pokemon. Explorers should keep out of the sewers in rainy seasons as fast flowing waters can flood passages at a moment’s notice, the fetid water often carrying disease.​
New Fizz City Limits - The Industrial Districts
Fizzy Power Co. Reply in Dark Orange

Situated on the far outskirts of the city, Fizzy Power Co. carries the burden of not just New Fizz City’s power usage, but much of the wider region’s electricity supply. Operated by skilled technicians and a workforce of hardy electric-types the Power Plant has proudly kept city lights on without an outage for over fifty years. Other than those that work at the Power Plant, many electric Pokemon can be found mooching off the excess electricity and occasionally wreaking havoc. Surrounding the plant is an electromagnetic field which is reported to trigger evolution in certain species of Pokemon.


State Landfill Reply in Dark Sea Green

A vast and hilly expanse composed of trash heaps and compacted vehicles stacked to the nines, you can guarantee that any and all waste from the city will eventually find its way here. Naturally the landfill has become a habitat for poison-types, with the hazardous chemical waste sent from the neighboring power plant birthing all sorts of toxic Pokemon. Why a tourist would visit here is a mystery, although the rumors of thrown out treasures may be enough for you to brave the stench.


Sunder Island [Shadow Area] Reply in Pale Violet Red

Once an island town with a sizeable population and booming economy, Sunder Island was plundered into catastrophe when its nuclear power plant went into meltdown. The radioactive island was evacuated and its bridge to the mainland closed off for good; but today the Sunder Island exclusion zone isn’t devoid of life. Its abandoned tower blocks have been overrun by lush forest and home a collection of wildlife, as well as descendants of Pokemon that were left in the city when its residents fled the nuclear fallout. Exploring the island offers an eerie look at what our cities would look like if humans vanished off the face of the earth.


Fizzytopian Rail Reply in Dark Khaki

In its heyday the Fizzytopian Rail was one of the world's most popular train lines, now it for the most part lies decommissioned following an incident where a powerful Pokemon wrought havoc on its tracks. The now defunct railyard is home to many steel-types which can be found burrowing in its empty train carts or feeding off of scrap metal. A walk down the train tracks offers views of some of the city’s best graffiti art, just don’t stick around for nightfall when crime and other mysterious goings on are commonplace.


Fizzby Freight Yard Reply in Dark Cyan

Situated on the outskirts of Fizzby harbor, Fizzby Freight Yard stands as the region’s largest shipping and trading operation. The complex specializes in oil refinery and distribution, though warehousing is also an important element of business. The freight yard is a playground for all kinds of urban Pokemon, and if you’re willing to weather its cold-storage warehouses you’ll find them swarming with ice-types. Its docks become a hotspot for organised crime and illegal shippings under the cover of night, although officials have yet to mount enough evidence to book anyone.

Last edited by Prof.Enigma; 05-29-2021 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 04-26-2021, 01:35 PM   #2
Prof.Enigma
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ZA of NFC and ZU's

Zone Admin Prof.Enigma;
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Old 04-26-2021, 01:36 PM   #3
Prof.Enigma
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Record Book of NFC

Myahoo:
Spoiler: show

Adventure Start:
Spoiler: show

"Yeah, so this is where I got the stuff I used to make the...ear...thing." Aiden gestured at the ear cuff attached to his right ear with a tilt of his head. "Mostly the materials and workspace, but you probably saw some of that from inside, huh?"

"Sure. Some of it." The vocal pattern his Rotom put together came through loud and clear from the ear cuff. Of course, Hint sounded dubious. "But why are we heading here now? Are you planning to put something else together?"

"Ehhh, sorta?" Aiden shrugged and tapped the pocket containing Hint's Pokéball. "I kinda wanna see if someone knows how to make Pokéballs like yours, so I can stick Kaito and any additional members in them. Because team theme." The last was said wryly with the implication of jazz hands.

Hint snorted. "And if no one can?"

"Well, at least we'll know." Aiden hoped that wasn't the case, though. For all that he was treating it lightly, the idea of putting his entire team into futuristic-looking Pokéballs had gotten into his head and stuck. Hard. Even if he had to make the Pokéballs himself, which he should be able to do once he got a chance to see how Pokéballs were actually put together and assuming that the futuristic look was mostly detailing, he'd absolutely do it, just to be able to, one, say he did it, two, for the aesthetic, but mostly so he could match them all to Hint's.

He ducked into the door to The Foundry and glanced around for someone working on Pokéballs. Hopefully, they'd know a thing or two about Hint's Pokéball and be able to point him in the right direction.


Update 1:
Spoiler: show

Breaking through into the large, multi-story warehouse felt like stepping into a furnace, the temperature creeping up a few notches as sweat trickled down your brow. The workers were climatized to the heat and then some, sparks flying as they busily put their welding talents to work, casting all sorts of nondescript parts before your eyes. The cacophony of grinding and hammering is enough to mute your entry, although two of the metalworkers must have paid mind, finishing stoking one of the kilns before ambling your way. Removing their faceguards the two looked almost identical in every way sans for age, faces dappled in freckles with fiery red hair tied back in ponytails; the younger of the two’s hair was curlier on closer inspection and not near as long.

“Welcome to The Foundry, kid,” The welder in his twenties declared, “I’m Fouco and this is my little brother Fuego. We don’t own this place but we’ve been workin’ here since near enough kids! We can help out with any of your metalworking needs!” You gingerly pass over your Rotom's cyberball, black with pulsating yellow lines evocative of a computer’s motherboard. The metalworker’s brow furrows in confusion as he handles the ball, while his teenage brother’s eyes light up with enthusiasm.

“Hmm… That’s a tall order kid, y’know it’s not the sort of ball you can just up and weld, it requires cybernetic enhancements to work properly,” you feel a sense of deflation as he hands it back to you, until the younger of the red-haired pair pipes up.

“What about that new CAD system, big bro? There are instructions on building these sort of balls on there. Imagine if it works, we’ll be the first independent ball makers to offer ‘em!”

“Emphasis on the new, little bro – it just came in last week, so I’m not so sure about testing it out on a customer.” A brief back and forth between the siblings ensues, the younger of the two practically begging at this point, desperate to put his welding skills to work on a ball outside of The Foundry’s typical fare.

“Okay fine.” Fouco relents, “But you’d be using it at your own risk, knowing that if you make a single mistake the ball could very well wipe the captured Pokemon out of existence - if you’re willing to take that risk my brother Fuego will show you the ropes.” Surely the older brother was joking, right? What will you do?


Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

It was hot in the Foundry. And noisy. Which was really to be expected from a space like this, what with people actually putting things together and hammering metal and all. Aiden resisted the urge to pant as he spotted a pair of metalworkers heading in his direction. They took off their faceguards on the way over, revealing matching freckled faces and red hair tied back and out of the way. Probably relatives, if he had to guess.

"Welcome to The Foundry, kid," the older one said. "I'm Fouco and this is my little brother, Fuego. We don't own this place, but we've been workin' here since near enough kids! We can help out with any of your metalworking needs!"

Aiden quirked a grin at him as he dug out Hint's yellow Cyberball. "Nice to meet you guys. I was, uh, hoping you--or someone--could help me make a set of these? Like, maybe five of them? For a whole team, y'know." His grin widened and went sheepish as he passed the Cyberball to Fuoco, while Fuego's eyes lit up.

Fuoco took Hint's Cyberball with a furrowed brow and examined the glowing lines. "Hmm. That's a tall order, kid. Y'know, it's not the sort of ball you can just up and weld; it requires cybernetic enhancements to work properly."

"Ah." Aiden took the Cyberball back and tucked it away, shoulders slumping a bit. Well, that sounded like the idea was a bust, but he probably shouldn't be surprised; not like he'd ever heard about Cyberballs in any other region, after all. He barely heard the beginnings of Hint's consolations over the noise in The Foundry when Fuego broke in.

"What about that new CAD system, big bro? There are instructions on building these sort of balls on there. Imagine if it works; we'll be the first independent ball makers to offer 'em!"

Aiden glanced over at Fuoco and heard Hint fall silent in his ear.

"Emphasis on the new, little bro--it just came in last week, so I'm not so sure about testing it out on a customer."

Very new system, then. Fuego slowly wore his older brother down, a sequence of events that Aiden was...actually really familiar with, though usually from within the situation instead of watching it from the outside like he was now.

"Okay fine," Fuoco finally relented. "But you'd be using it at your own risk, knowing that if you make a single mistake, the ball could very well wipe the captured Pokémon out of existence." What? Aiden choked in surprise and almost missed the rest of Fuoco's words. "If you're willing to take that risk, my brother Fuego will show you the ropes."

Aiden cleared his throat. "Uh, does, does it have to be done on an occupied Pokéball? The process? Because, to be honest, I was planning to do it on some new 'balls and then just transfering the Pokémon in afterwards," he explained. "Mostly because I...don't actually have that many Pokémon yet." He ducked his head sheepishly and peered up at the brothers. "I, uh, brought a few empty Pokéballs? Three regular ones and a pair of Premiers, since I didn't know if there'd be a difference." And also so he knew what kind he'd have to get his hands on afterwards. Regular Pokéballs, he could continue to sneak from Melissa, but Premiers? He was already a bit worried that she'd notice she was abruptly out of them.


Update 2:
Spoiler: show

The look on your face as you consider the risks of a botched ball elicits a chuckle from the older sibling, and another when you try to scoop together what few Pokeballs you had spare as exchange. “Looks like there’s a lot the kid could learn from you, Fuego.” Fuoco says with a grin, “Why don’t you show him around?”

The younger sibling nods curtly, finding you a faceguard and protective overalls before ushering you on a tour of the makerspace. You first approach a roaring furnace, its intense warmth threatening to blister skin even beneath the protective layers: “This here is the forge, a type of hearth we use for heating metals which are moulded into special Pokeballs. We require the firepower of a Pokemon for this process, and oftimes if we’re creating a ball with special properties - like say a Ghost Ball - we’ll have a Pokemon imbue the type energy into the melted ore.” Rotom’s eyes lit up, as though itching to possess the appliance.

You amble down the production line to a press, one of the workers using it to hammer sheet metal with impressive force, “Once the metal has cooled down enough we’ll place it in a special mould. The Foundry uses a hydrolic press for shaping the metal, although hammers or even tough Pokemon are sometimes needed to finish the job.” He moves you down to machine that was engraving, cutting and marking sheet metal with careful precision, “Once we’re happy with the shape and density we use a laser cutter to trim away the unwanted edges. Again, it’s not uncommon for gifted Pokemon to lend a hand with this process.”

The tour finally takes you to a welding block, sparks showering your guard as one of the labourers joined a pair of metals, beside him a fire-type using a concentrated burst of flame to emulate the same process. Fuego snags a Pokeball from the end bench; grey, hollow and unfunctional. “But that just leaves you with an empty shell, right?” He remarks, catching it in the air, “This is where we transfer the ball to our printer, where we surface mount all of the various microprocessors, components and connectors onto a printed circuit board. The ball you are after is unique as it features processors on the exterior as well as interior – it’s a delicate process, but our new CAD system should have no problem handling it.”

“Then it’s just a quick paint job and voila, you have yourself a fully functioning Pokeball!” He had switched the empty shell with a finished product which he tosses a few times with a wide grin. Your head was spinning from the impromptu tour, wondering perhaps if you should have searched the shops at Commercial Boulevard or even the Trader’s Bazaar for something readymade. Fuego takes you to a cluttered desk space to talk business, stretching his head as he draws up a materials list: “The base Pokeball shell will be molded with aluminium, then nickel is used in the circuit board components of the Cyberball. I can’t guarantee the CAD system will be capable of producing five of ‘em though, you’ll have to wait and see when you boot it up.”

“We can offer the raw materials and equipment hire at $200 per ball, or if you have Pokemon capable of helping with the heating, pressing, cutting and welding processes I’ll knock off an extra $50 per process, per ball. You hear that – if you are capable of helping with all of those stages I’ll give you the balls free of charge!’ It was an enticing offer for sure, provided you were confident your Pokemon had the diverse range of abilities necessary to get the job done.


Reply 2:
Spoiler: show

Fuoco apparently thought Aiden's reactions to losing a Pokémon to some kind of glitch was funny as the guy laughed at Aiden as he scrambled to offer up an alternative. At least he let Fuego show Aiden around.

But, first, there was protective equipment because getting burned or catching on fire was bad for business. Aiden dutifully suited up and followed Fuego to a furnace.

"This here is the forge, a type of hearth we use for heating metals which are molded into special Pokéballs," Fuego explained. "We require the firepower of a Pokémon for this process, and oftimes if we're creating a ball with special properties--like say a Ghost Ball--we'll have a Pokémon imbue the type energy into the melted ore."

Hint hummed consideringly in Aiden's ear. Aiden dropped his voice, so that Fuego hopefully wouldn't hear him 'talk to himself' and asked, "What?"

"Nothing." Aiden rolled his eyes and tried to radiate unimpressed. It didn't take long for Hint to cave. "It looked like it'd be interesting to see how it worked from inside. That's all."

"Please don't." A possessed forge? Granted, the only things he knew Hint had possessed were a computer and the special ear cuff-slash-hands-free device Aiden'd made for it. It'd probably also possessed whatever the NFCPD wanted it to when it still belonged to them...but that wasn't exactly something it probably wanted to do for itself. "...or, at least wait until we have the other Cyberballs before you go wreaking havoc on their machinery."

Hint sniffed. "I'm not going to wreak havoc; I know you want to be able to come back here. I just thought it'd be interesting to see the insides and then get out."

Aiden let the topic lie and turned his attention back to Fuego and the...giant flattening machine in front of them now. "Once the metal has cooled enough, we'll place it in a special mold. The Foundry uses a hydraulic press for shaping the metal, although hammers or even tough Pokémon are sometimes needed to finish the job."

He then moved on to a machine that was engraving, cutting, and marking sheet metal with exact precision. Probably computer-guided, if Aiden didn't miss his guess. "Once we're happy with the shape and density, we use a laser cutter to trim away the unwanted edges. Again, it's not uncommon for gifted Pokémon to lend a hand with this process."

Fuego led them over to a welding block, sparks showering Aiden's protective equipment as someone welded a pair of metal pieces together with a Fire-type working parallel to them. Their tour guide picked up a Pokéball from the bench and showed it to Aiden. Grey, hollow, not functional. Aiden grimaced. "But that just leaves you with an empty shell, right?" Aiden nodded as Fuego tossed the Pokéball into the air. "This is where we transfer the 'ball to our printer, where we surface mount all of the various microprocessors, components, and connectors onto a printed circuit board. The ball you are after is unique as it features processors on the exterior as well as interior--it's a delicate process, but our new CAD system should have no problem handling it.

"Then, it's just a quick paint job and voila, you have yourself a fully-functioning Pokéball!" Fuego swapped the unfinished Pokéball for a finished one that he tossed into the air a few times with a wide grin. Aiden grinned back, though he was frantically parsing through the info dump for the most relevant information.

Okay, okay. So, first, heat the metals and maybe infuse energy for Type balls. Then, press into a mold with the hydraulic press. Trim away the excess, then set the circuits on the inside, and the outside for Cyberballs, paint and done.

Put like that, it didn't sound like so much, but Fuego still had more to say. He led the way to a cluttered desk space and started jotting down a list, as he spoke. "The base Pokéball shell will be molded with aluminium. Then, nickel is used in the circuit board components of the Cyberball. I can't guarantee the CAD system will be capable of producing five of 'em, though; you'll have to wait and see when you boot it up.

"We can offer the raw materials and equipment hire at $200 per ball, or if you have Pokémon capable of helping with the heating, pressing, cutting, and welding processes, I'll knock off an extra $50 per process, per ball. You hear that--if you are capable of helping with all of those stages, I'll give you the balls free of charge!"

Aiden could feel himself deflating as Fuego went over the business details. Materials, he'd be willing to track down and dig up--he'd done it before--but labor costs? Readily-available raw materials? He didn't have an official Trainer account, let alone Trainer cash. And the Pokémon he did have weren't exactly suited to metalworking. He could hack Melissa's account again, risk catching her attention to steal the money, but...to be honest? He'd rather put in the work himself now.

...except the Pokéball thing. It wasn't like she was using them at any rate she'd really notice, anyway.

He flashed Fuego a quick, polite grin. "Yeah. That sounds awesome. I just..." Aiden tried to run a hand through his hair, but bumped into the faceguard. He made a frustrated noise, let his hand drop, and shrugged. "I don't think I can afford it right now." He sighed. "Thanks for the tour." He turned to go.

"Wait." Aiden stopped, blinking in surprise. Hint sounded...angry? "Are you...what are you doing."

Aiden glanced back at Fuego and shot him an apologetic smile, gesturing that he was taking a call before turning his back and lowering his voice. "What do you mean, what am I doing? We don't have any money. None of the Pokémon I have are suited for this kind of work--"

"What about me?" Hint demanded.

"What about you?" Aiden returned, exasperated. "You're an Electric-Ghost and you don't exactly have the kinds of moves that would work for this."

"I'm an Electric-Ghost that possesses machines," Hint snapped. "I'm pretty sure I'm 'decently suited' for at least one part of this kind of work."

Aiden paused, mouth open to argue back, as he processed that fact. Hint was a Rotom; Rotom could possess machines. Wasn't he just thinking about how Hint would probably like to possess more machines?

"And, before you turn back to Fuego, I'd like to remind you that we picked up a tiny Bug recently who I know knows Fury Cutter because I asked him," Hint emphasized. There was a pause before it reluctantly continued, "Not to mention, Melissa's meddling Gothita...suggested that Kaito and Dust pick up Incinerate and Iron Tail, respectively, the last time she contacted me."

Aiden slowly turned back to Fuego, probably looking a bit dumbfounded. Apparently, he might have been better equipped for this than he thought, though he wasn't sure how he felt about how that Gothita kept manipulating things behind her trainer's back. Even if it was to his benefit, it was...more than a bit unsettling, if he was being honest.

He pulled himself together and coughed sheepishly, rocking back onto his heels. "So. I maaaay actually have the Pokémon to do this thing. I just...didn't realize I did?" He hoped Fuego didn't read too much into that, though anything he read into it was...probably true.


Update 3:
Spoiler: show

Short on cash and skilled labour, you rack your brain for ideas to subsidise the cost of the goods down to zero. Lucky enough you had a voice in your ear to lend a hint, the Rotom not only determining itself compatible with the industrial grade furnace but offering up suggestions for each subsequent stage in the production line. With a plan of attack you gingerly approach the counter, Fuego impressed by your genius all the while oblivious to the little voice in your head: “Fantastico! If you want to get your Pokemon instructed and ready at each stage in the production line, that should speed up the process some,” he adds with a grin, weighing and handing you the aluminium alloy for the heating step. “I should mention, me and my brother have a huge order of Sports Balls to fulfill for the city Parks and Recreation department, so we’ll have our hands full most of the morning. If you get stuck just yell out!” The idea of being left to your own devices with such specialist equipment is enough to send your stomach contracting into a tight ball, although he wouldn’t have put you in charge of anything you couldn’t handle. Right?

Throwing caution to the wind you amble to the furnace, its heat coaxing fresh sweat out from your glands onto your shirt. With Hint taking the reigns you hope he’ll require little instruction, the spectre jolting from your earpiece to the kiln ahead. The fiery machine swallows his essence whole, sparks flying up and down its surface as the Rotom hacks into its circuits with little resistance. The appliance quickly flickers an orange hue as Rotom’s possession takes shape, a red field of plasma giving form to a pair of arms. Completing the transformation, a rod-like protrusion rises from his apex as a pair of red eyes blink open, the giant Rotom-Heat grinning feverishly. Firing up the kiln in preparation for your raw materials he tests his new Overheat function, an inferno swilling around his belly eliciting a belch of smoke. You realise this isn’t the desired reaction as Hint falls into a wheeze, fumes seeping from the cracks in his door like a burning oven... With the coughing fit too much to handle Rotom’s door swings open with incredible force, a whole corner of The Foundry going up in a puff of smoke! The haze settles quick enough, as does Hint’s coughing indicating whatever was lodged up inside him had made an escape. You get an idea of exactly what as a pair of zoom into view, skidding around the factory floor like a pair of roller skates knocking over materials and equipment left, right and centre. The sudden burst of flame had activated their Steam Engine ability based on the velocity they were traveling, giving you and Hint the tough job of pinning them down and snuffing them out!

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show

"Fantastico!" Fuego said, grinning and weighing some metal. "If you want to get your Pokémon instructed and ready at each stage in the production line, that should speed up the process some." He handed Aiden the metal. "I should mention, me and my brother have a huge order of Sports Balls to fulfill for the city Parks and Recreation department, so we'll have our hands full most of the morning. If you get stuck, just yell out!"

Aiden gaped at Fuego as the redhead left him to his own devices with barely even a backwards glance. What? He stared at Fuego's back. Really? Fuego didn't even pause as he walked away. Really?

"Really?" he said out loud.

"Clearly, yes," Hint said dryly. "Now, c'mon. Let's get to that forge and get started."

Aiden made his way back to the furnace in a daze, mostly stunned that Fuego was leaving some random stranger to the Foundry's probably-very-expensive, relatively-new electrical Pokéball-making system. Was he not worried at all about Aiden possibly breaking it? Or stealing it? Or...any of any number of things that he couldn't think of right now because, again, what?

"Hey. We're here."

Aiden blinked. Oh. Yeah, they were. "Right. So. How're we doing this? D'you just"--he made a sweeping gesture from his wrists--"whoosh and go in or...?"

"Pretty much," Hint said. "Keep an ear out, alright?"

"Mhm."

There was a soft crackle in his ear and then a streak shot from the edge of his eye into the forge, Hint's aura disappearing into the machine for a beat as it hacked the machine. A few sparks flickered across the surface of the forge before it started glowing red, a pair of arms and some kind of horn taking shape as Hint blinked its eyes open. It grinned and Aiden couldn't help grinning back at Hint's clear delight.

"Alright. Firing up the forge...now," Hint told him, the ear cuff's translator function working just as well as ever. Even from where Aiden was standing, he could feel the Heat grow as Hint did...something, fire or heat glowing in Hint's...approximate abdomen area before it let out a belch of smoke. Aiden backpedaled a little further, but paused when Hint wheezed.

"Are you okay?" he called back, but Hint didn't seem to hear him as it coughed explosively. Almost literally actually, smoke billowing out as the forge's doors slammed open. Thankfully, it seemed like The Foundry had an effective ventilation system, the haze clearing quickly and Hint's coughing settling.

Through the smoke, a pair of--were those lumps of coal on wheels? What the heck? Aiden watched them zoom around. Were they Pokémon? He stared some more as they crashed into things and kept going. Well...whatever they were, they were zipping around, knocking things over, and basically making a nuisance of themselves, so he and Hint should probably try to catch them.

"Uh, should we...?"

"Yes." Aiden shook his head to try to get focused. "Um, try--can you still Electroweb stuff like that?"

"I should be able to, I believe," Hint replied, just a bit doubtful.

"Well, try it, but if you can't, try a Confuse Ray."

"Right..."

Aiden rolled his eyes. Just because their first actual fight together hadn't gone exactly...well didn't mean they couldn't do better this time. Then again, it didn't necessarily mean they wouldn't do worse either.


Update 4:
Spoiler: show

Your production encounters a snafu as quick as it’s in business, the coal monsters birthed from Hint’s tummy fired up and skating circles around the Foundry, leaving a fiery chain of destruction in their wake. The metalworkers pay little mind, as if this type of chaos was part and parcel of life in the factory. It was decidedly up to you to stop them in their tracks and get manufacturing back up and running; with shaky confidence you work up a strategy to snuff out the Rolycoly duo before they send the whole warehouse up in flames. Hint doesn’t miss a beat as he spins an Electroweb in one of the troublemakers’ bearing, the catch looking something like a hockey puck flying into a goalpost. The sparks danced up and down its rocky hide as it skidded and struggled against the net for naught. That was one down with one to go, the Rotom-Heat already attempting to tail the loose Rolycoly as it bounced off corrugated walls knocking over all sorts of inventory, stacks of cardboard boxes left in cinders. Hint is eventually able to find an opening as it lobs a Confuse Ray ahead of the Coal Pokemon’s next fix, sending its tiny brain into a stupor! Still unwilling to decelerate it dizzily careens about the factory floor, workers jumping out of the way as its trajectory became increasingly unwieldy. Rotom is too sluggish to dodge in its new form, falling on the receiving end of a Heat Crash which sends it skidding despite his newfound resistance. Your eyes dart back to the ensnared Rolycoly, gyrating at such a velocity it was beginning to wear away the electrically-charged webbing. With Hint’s hands full you pore over your surroundings noticing several fire extinguishers dotted around the warehouse…

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show

It's only after Aiden decided to round up the runaway coal...bikes that he glanced around at the metalworkers and noticed that they barely reacted to the possible-Pokémon making a mess of the place. Maybe he should've let them be? But...a mess in the factory didn't exactly seem like the safest thing, so he'd catch them and figure out what to do afterwards.

Hint managed to spin up an Electroweb and tangle up one of the coal bikes, bringing it to a stop. It then turned to the other, lobbing a Confuse Ray at it and hitting it dead on! Though...

"Uh, that was supposed to be Confuse Ray if you missed with the Electroweb," Aiden had to point out. "FYI."

"Then be clearer next time," Hint returned distractedly, taking a moment to shoot Aiden an exasperated look before turning back to the battle only to get bowled over as the Confused coal bike ran straight into it. Aiden winced as Hint skidded backwards from the hit.

"Sorry!" he called, but he wasn't sure if Hint heard him, having its hands full trying to keep the coal bike in one place and all. He glanced over to check on the tangled coal bike, feeling a bit useless right now, and winced again at the sight of it wearing away at the Electroweb keeping it down. Well, shit, that wasn't good.

He scanned the nearby supplies, looking for anything that might help stop the two coal bikes, and spotted the familiar shape of a fire extinguisher. He looked back at the coal bike and the scorched trail the pair left through the nearest supplies. Popped out of the oven, left things burned in their wake, looked like coal on wheels...

He grabbed a fire extinguisher and scanned the instructions. Hopefully, he could figure out how to work it quick enough to actually help and that it was actually effective against the bikes.

He checked on the tangled-up bike. That one first, then the one Hint was grappling with. Just in case he missed.


Update 5:
Spoiler: show

While managing to snare one of the coalerskates its double was still wreaking all sorts of havoc; teeming with velocity and vitality they would continue to plague production if you didn’t act fast. The foundry was fortunately stocked to the nines with fire extinguishers, a lightbulb flickering above your head as you hoist one from its housing. You make a beeline for the webbed Rolycoly now inches from escape, sparks waning as its threadbare prison put up diminishing resistance. It was your first time extinguishing a fire, the handle jammed at first squeeze before you take notice of the instructions printed on its side, locating a safety pin which you unpin. With one eye closed you take aim with the nozzle and the extinguisher goes off, dousing the trapped Rolycoly in firefighting foam. The super effective chemical agent smothers the pest for a clean knockout, now you just had to track down its twin! Hint gives you an indication, emitting a loud clatter as the foe pelted forth a volley of Rock Blasts, dents forming on its housing with each hit. While slightly irked it hadn’t been ordered to defend itself, the Rotom-Heat is happy to play sitting duck for a while longer as you follow the scorched trail to the second Rolycoly and rinse and repeat your dousing effort. Rotom gained two levels!

With the extermination efforts a success it was time to resume manufacturing, the furnace clog-free as Hint fired her back up. You grab the blocks of aluminium and place them in a crucible which fits snuggly into the Rotom-Heat’s shelving. The door closes shut as Hint gets to work, Overheating the raw materials to molten steel. You give the crucible a moment to cool down before prizing it with a pair of tongues, carefully lugging to the nearest workbench for the hammering stage where you encounter Fueco, brow furled in concentration as he juggled a stack of hammered materials for his tall order. “It looks like you’ve done a great job so far!” he finds time to complement, “Now you just need to hammer down the metal, cut it to shape and weld it together! Grab me when you’re finished and we’ll boot up the CAD system!”

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show

Aiden hurried over to the coal bike working its way free of Hint's Electroweb and aimed the nozzle at it. He tried to squeeze the handle, but it wouldn't go, leaving him scrambling for a moment before he figured out that he had to pull the pin. Yanking it out, he aimed at the coal bike again and squeezed, firefighting foam shooting out of the nozzle and smothering the coal bike under a small pile of the stuff.

Aiden glanced down at the fire extinguisher and then at the knocked-out coal bike. "Huh. Good to know."

Behind him, there was a loud clatter as some kind of Rock attack ran straight into something metal. "Take your time," Hint called over sarcastically. "I'll just continue being a punching bag for a bit."

Aiden rolled his eyes and headed over to where the other coal bike was attacking his Rotom. "You don't have to take the hits. You can defend yourself, you know."

"Oh, of course. Why didn't I think of that?" Hint replied and clearly would've been rolling its eyes if it hadn't been keeping them on the still-moving coal bike. Its voice went frustrated. "I still need you to tell me how to do that, remember?"

"I'm gonna make it a free-for-all this time," Aiden muttered under his breath as he extinguished the other coal bike. "You need the practice anyway."

Hint shot him a sullen look and motioned at the metal blocks. "Let's just...get this going."

Aiden set the fire extinguisher down and then tetris-ed the blocks of metal into a crucible that he shoved into Hint's oven, nearly getting his fingers clipped by the doors as Hint snapped them shut. He shot Hint a glare of his own and then settled in to wait for the metal to melt, the silence eventually going from stubborn to comfortable as Hint Overheated the metal.

When it was done, Hint popped the oven doors open and Aiden grabbed a pair of tongs to move the crucible to a nearby workbench. Only when he'd set it down on the workbench did he notice that Fueco was also working nearby.

"It looks like you've done a great job so far!" Aiden glanced back at the mess of coal bike and fire suppression foam on the floor behind him. Was he talking about that or the molten metal? He wasn't sure, but he smiled uncertainly anyway. "Now you just need to hammer down the metal, cut it to shape, and weld it together! Grab me when you're finished and we'll boot up the CAD system!"

"Yeah, you got it." Aiden nodded at Fueco and turned back to his own project. Hammering, cutting, and then welding. Right. So that was Dust with Iron Tail, Tase with Fury Cutter, and then Kaito with Incinerate.

He called the rest of his Pokémon out and quickly went over what he needed from each of them. "Okay, so, Dust, we need to hammer this metal until it matches the mold, so use Iron Tail on it until that happens. Tase, use Fury Cutter to trim off the edges once Dust is done with it. Kaito, use Incinerate to weld the pieces together." He glanced over the trio. "Everyone good?"

Dust glanced pointedly around at their surroundings and then gave Aiden a flat look, while the Growlithe-that-was-Kaito yawned widely. Aiden wasn't sure where Tase had gone, but he hoped the Joltik hadn't gone far.

Aiden sighed. "Let's just...get this over with."

---

OOC: Hint goes from Lv. 28 to 30.


Update 6:
Spoiler: show

While not without its hitches you had a pot of molten metal cooling and just a few more steps to go until your product was finished. You summon three more of your Pokemon to the factory floor, forming a neat assembly line as you passed down careful instructions to hammer, cut and weld. The ragtag team accept their assigned tasks with varying degrees of interest, leaving nothing for it but to hope for the best and watch the work unfold before you. The Alolan Vulpix was first up, hobbling onto the workbench with a look of pure discomfort; the high temperatures of the Foundry were decidedly more suited to her Kantonian cousin. With the Iron settled in its mold it was time to hammer it to shape, Dust’s Tail flickering steely silver as it swung to and fro like a mallet. Batting a few misses the Snowpix eventually finds her rhythm, leaving you with a batch of evenly pressed shells. Still a bit jagged around the edges, it was up to Taze to trim it down to size. The goods tower over the incy wincy Joltik allowing him to scuttle across them with ease, incisors Cutting away with masterful precision. With the dimensions matching the blueprints, you connect the top and bottom half of the five shells like jigsaw pieces – the parts now just needing welding into place. Right on cue Kaito lends a breath of his firepower, Incinerating the joints and hinges until they were as good as fused! While lacking internal circuits and a fresh lick of paint, the shells were starting to resemble regular Pokeballs. It had been a hard slog, eliciting more buckets of sweat than you cared to know – but soon enough you would have your own handmade collection of Cyber Balls to show for it. Vulpix, Joltik and Zorua gain one level!

“You’re finished!” Fueco grins, “Let’s fire up the new CAD machine!” He ushers you to what resembled a mangle of a supercomputer, a vending machine and a classic arcade system in a corner of the Foundry, a wide berth from any sparks and flames. Its surfaces were coloured a mix of pastel blues and pinks with the Silph Co. logo adorned on its front side. The redhead places the half-baked Pokeballs into the system and plugs it in for the first time, the screen flickering on with an 8-bit whir:



“The software needs a minute to boot up but the steps from there are pretty simple. Just select the colours you’re after and presto!” the metalworker leaves you with an idle wait screen as he returns to his business, the loading bar moving at a Slugma’s pace. You’re eventually brought back from your reverie by a loud beep, the screen now presenting a list of options and requiring a prompt to continue.

Code:
Colours available: Red, Blue, Green and Yellow.

Newer software available for this system. V.2.0 features printing capabilities for Aqua, Orange, Violet and Majenta Cyber Balls.

Press Y to install upgrade.



Reply 6:
Spoiler: show

Dust gingerly stepped up to the workbench, looking disgruntled, and hammered away at the metal, clearly taking his frustrations with the heat out on the materials, until they had a bunch of half-spheres in a pile next to him. At the end of it, he was drooping and panting and Aiden felt even worse about bringing the Ice-type out in this environment.

He reached out and scratched at the base of Dust's ears. "Nice job. You can get outta this if you wanna."

Dust shook his head and breathed out a Shard of Ice to lay on. "These're for us, right? I wanna be the one picking the colors for my Pokéball; not you."

Aiden huffed a laugh. "Yeah, alright. If you're sure." He turned back to the half-spheres as Tase skittered across their surfaces, Cutting the rough edges off and leaving scrap metal littering the workbench. The Joltik disappeared from sight once he was finished; Aiden hoped he and Hint didn't get into any trouble while he was finishing with these Pokéballs. He then matched up each top half with its corresponding bottom half and offered the appropriate edges to Kaito for the Zorua-masquerading-as-a-Growlithe to weld the two halves together.

By the time all five Pokéballs were put together, Aiden was panting and beginning to feel a bit lightheaded from the heat. An Ice Shard landed at his feet, Dust flicking his tail as he and the rest of his Pokémon gathered round to see the empty shells.

"Now what?" Kaito said, looking up at Aiden.

"Uhhh..." Aiden looked at Fueco, who glanced over and grinned.

"You're finished! Let's fire up the new CAD machine!" Fueco ushered them to some...vending-machine arcade-system thing set some distance from anything that might spit sparks or flames at it. It was pastel pink and blue and had the Silph Co. logo stamped large on its front. Fueco placed the half-finished Pokéballs into the system and plugged it in, the machine booting up with an old-arcade-sounding theme.

"The software needs a minute to boot up but the steps from there are pretty simple," Fueco told him. "Just select the colors you're after and presto!" He heads back to his work, leaving Aiden staring after him as the machine slowly loads its software.

"...He seriously doesn't think I'm gonna do anything to it, does he."

"Or the order he's working on is more important," Hint pointed out, floating nearby.

"Why's it going so slow?" Tase squinted up at the loading bar.

"Probably because it's a mess," Dust said dryly.

Kaito yawned and curled up against Dust's side. "Wake me up when we can actually pick our colors."

"Sure," Aiden absently replied, turning to the screen as it let out a loud beep. "Okay. We got red, blue, green, and yellow as options at the moment with the possibility of aqua, orange, violet, and magenta if we install the upgrade."

"Red!" Kaito immediately said, voice muffled because he didn't bother raising his head.

"I want aqua." Dust peered up at the screen, not wanting to hop up onto the machine and its dubious-looking stability. "Can I have aqua?"

"I want green!" Tase piped up.

Aiden glanced around for one of the brothers, wanting to ask if anything will happen if he installs the update, but he couldn't find either of them from his vantage point. He turned back to the machine. "Alright. Guess we're going with a different color for each 'ball."

He pressed Y and hoped he didn't just break the machine.

---

OOC: Kaito goes from Lv. 8 to 9. Tase goes from Lv. 8 to 9. Dust goes from Lv. 4 to 5.



Update 7:
Spoiler: show

With a beep and a boop the machine was booted and ready to go, its software capable of printing the stock standard Cyber Balls with ease. But what’s this? With an Up-Grade to the contraption’s circuitry you could get your hands on the rare Aqua, Orange, Violet and Magenta variations. The offer is too tantalising to refuse and in throwing caution to the wind you tap Y on the keyboard to proceed with the installation. The system lets out a high-pitch whir in response, the pastel pink character behind its glass bobbing enthusiastically. A file icon drifts across the screen before being swallowed by the virtual duck, its sharp shapes smoothing out.

Code:
Up-Grade initialising… Integrating Curves… Routing Neural Networks… Obfuscating Covariance Matrices… Malware detected in Up-Grade… Scanning dubious.exe for viruses… BZZZTTT
The machine starts to shake violently, the sprite shifting form once more; an antenna protrudes from its ovoid head as it detaches from its body, eyes blinking into yellow and black rings similar to a bulls-eye. The corrupted character looks about ready to seizure as the system flashes erratically, sparks dancing up and down its surface. You’re given no time to react as the machine lets out a immense shockwave, the burst of energy washing over you and your teammates as you brace for impact.



You open your eyes to find yourself unharmed, for the most part. You look to your hands to see them made up of pixels, lacking any discernible depth. Your new environment was just as two-dimensional, nothing but pink gridlines on black in every direction. You catch eye with Hint just a few grids away, equally nonplussed as he bobs to your fix. The Rotom had been simplified too, evocative of a character from a retro arcade game. Suddenly a chiptune melody breaks the silence, heralding the voice of your mischievous captor.

Code:
You’re in my world now, bzzt!

You want your Cyber Balls? Let’s play a game!

Win my games to earn prizes. Win two games and progress to the next level.

Win two more games to face the final boss and win your freedom!

Lose and you’ll be trapped in cyberspace forever, bzzzt!
Four pixelated spheres render ahead of you: red, blue, yellow and green. It seemed that by interacting with one of the balls you would warp to the first level, where you would play for the corresponding cyber ball and inch closer to freedom. Which colour will you choose first?


Reply 7:
Spoiler: show

The machine started whirring, the little Porygon icon bouncing as a file icon drifted across the screen. The Porygon icon swallowed the file and its edges smoothed out, going from a regular Porygon to a Porygon2. Aiden huffed a laugh at that. Appropriate.

He watched a bit anxiously as the machine listed out its status, heart jumping as it declared that it found malware in the upgrade.

"Shit."

"What?" Hint drifted closer to see the screen.

He didn't get a chance to reply. The machine started to shake violently, the sprite changing once more, but Aiden didn't exactly look too closely; he was backing away from the machine, searching for someone who could possibly help figure out what went wrong. Which meant he was facing away from the machine when it emitted a burst of energy, only catching his team's exclamations of surprise as the shockwave washed over them.

When everything seemed to be calm again, Aiden cautiously cracked an eye open, dropping his arm and staring wide-eyed at his new surroundings. Pink gridlines on black everywhere he looked. Looking down at himself, it looked like he was made of pixels, too. He spotted Hint bobbing several squares away, but no Kaito, Tase, or Dust. Heart dropping, he spun in a circle and confirmed it. No Zorua, Joltik, or Vulpix. Well, shit.

Right as Aiden was going to start searching for his team, a short tune came from nowhere before something or someone spoke. "You're in my world now, bzzt! You want your Cyber Balls? Let's play a game! Win my games to earn prizes. Win two games and progress to the next level. Win two more games to face the final boss and win your freedom! Lose and you'll be trapped in cyberspace forever, bzzzt!"

As whoever that was signed off, four spheres rendered in front of him, in colors matching those of the original Cyber Ball options. Assuming this worked like a video game, picking one would take him to the appropriate level and the color he picked would be the one he got.

He glanced to the side as he caught movement in the corner of his eye, Hint floating up alongside him. Or, well, as much as he could when it looked like they were restricted to the grid.

"Did you see where the others went?"

Hint shook his head. "Hopefully, they didn't get sucked in, but it's entirely possible they did. It's not like that energy wave was particularly discerning."

Aiden pressed his lips together. "Then, we should probably go for the colors they wanted, just in case. Since, if I could hear from inside here, that's probably what I would do."

"Best case," Hint pointed out grimly.

"I know." He...didn't really want to think about the worst case scenario. Also, their frickin' captor stole one of his Cyber Balls; he absolutely caught that. Moving towards the red sphere, he called out to the general area, since he assumed their captor would be watching/listening in. "My team better be around or I'll find some way to make you regret it. And I better get that fifth Cyber Ball back, too!"

Mike was gonna kill him. If their captor didn't get to it first.


Update 8:
Spoiler: show

Imprisoned in a world of pixels and polygons there was nothing for it but to play the mischievous captor’s games and win back your freedom fair and square. You could only hope that your wider team were had been spared the same fate, back within the warm corrugated walls of The Foundry safe and sound. It seemed unlikely the trickster would be so merciful; it had duped you out of a Cyber Ball, after all. Once conferring with Hint you move toward the red orb in jagged steps, tapping it with the quadrangular limb where your hand might usually be. It reacts to your touch instantly, emitting a beep as your party are enveloped in white and warped from the lobby in the blink of an eye! All you can do is hold tight as you hurtle through cyberspace at lightspeed – if your pixelated body came with a stomach, it would no doubt be churning from motion sickness. You pass through a kaleidoscope of flashing colours at growing speed, the intensity forcing you to shield your vision.

Soon enough you come crash landing into a similar, yet different, world. You were plunged into a maze of sorts, lined with blue fences and littered with white dots. There were several pixelated ghost Pokemon patrolling its corridors from what you could see: a Duknoir, Gengar, Mismagious and Golurk. You look down to see yourself sat atop a giant yellow ball which seemed to blink to life the same time as you… It was Hint! He had come into possession of the spherical character, sporting a mouth the size of a trash compactor that made up for his lack of discernible arms and legs and then some.

Code:
Zorua hunt better in a pack, man!

Eat as many white energisers as possible while avoiding the detection of the ghostly sentries. Bzzt!
The cryptic voice fades to the aether as Hint readies for your instruction, prompting you to pore over the maze in efforts to discern the most optimal routes, spotting a cage in its centre with a familiar friend locked inside. Kaito looked blockier than usual but his snarl was unmistakable, the stakes of the game all of a sudden a whole lot higher…

Play this web version of Pac-Man and a post a score of 2,000 or more to pass the level!


Reply 8:
Spoiler: show

Once Aiden got close enough, he tapped the red pixelated Cyber Ball with his...blocky arm, a beep sounding as white wrapped around him and sent them warping to the first level. A dizzying array of colors sped past him and he had the weirdest feeling that he'd feel motion-sick...if he wasn't made up of pixels at the moment. The lights flashed faster and got brighter, forcing him to raise an arm to cover his eyes.

When his vision cleared, he was perched atop something, looking out over some kind of maze. Blue fences and white dots everywhere he turned with a set of four Ghost Pokémon patrolling the corridors. Aiden squinted at them. A Gengar, a Dusknoir, a Golurk, and...a Mismagius? Weird.

He glanced down at the...yellow ball he was apparently perched atop, which stirred to life as he watched. A familiar set of eyes blinked open.

"Well. This is odd," Hint said as best he could when he was basically just a head.

"No hands," Aiden agreed, looking back at their surroundings. There was...something about this layout that struck him as familiar, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

Their captor's voice came from overhead. "Zorua hunt better in a pack, man! Eat as many white energisers as possible while avoiding the detection of the ghostly sentries. Bzzt!"

"...did that make any sense to you?" Hint swiveled, looking around.

Aiden frowned, looking over the maze to plan possible routes. "I think...maybe?" Blue fences, white balls, a yellow head, and four Ghosts. His eyes widened. "Oh! It's Pac-Man!"

"The game?" Hint spun around. "Okay, yeah, I can see it."

Aiden's gaze caught on the cage in the middle of the maze. Was that...? He squinted. A blocky black-and-red quadruped seemed to be sending a frustrated snarl at its surroundings.

"We need to head to the center," Aiden told Hint. "Kaito's there and it looks like wherever we are broke his Illusion." He glanced over as movement caught his eye. "And here comes the Dusknoir. Time to go."

Hint went.


Update 9:
Spoiler: show

Were you in a video game induced dream? Or had life ended with the explosion at the Foundry? Both theories were more plausible than the strange reality you had found yourself stranded in. Having figured out the mischievous captor has plopped you into a game of Pac-Man there was nothing else for it but to play, or else risk the Tricky Fox Pokemon corralled in the maze’s centre being locked away forever. With the four ghouls on your fix the Pac-Rotom springs into action, mouth flapping open and close as he zoomed down the corridor, greedily hoovering up energisers and racking up points. Dusknoir was hot on your tail leaving no room for hesitation nor error, the pixelated Reaper Pokemon matching your speed and trajectory perfectly. While you could go on evading for a while longer, the Mismagius appears from around a corner to intercept. With a foe in either direction, there was nowhere left to run or hide, game over looking surely inevitable – until!

Hint swallows one of the larger energisers and the music shifts tempo, the enemies flushing a shade of blue as they make a break for it! The hunters just as quickly became the hunted with the Pac-Rotom sucking both into his vortex belly and making a beeline for the Gengar. While able to eat the fleeing Ghost/Poison-type in no time the ability is fleeting, the remaining Golurk returning to its usual colouration and shifting back into aggressor mode. You had the hang of the game now though; with more quick evasion and another giant energiser, Hint is able to overcome the final spectral sentry and clear the level!

Code:
High score!

Perhaps you’ll make it out alive after all? Bzzt!
In a flash you’re returned to the lobby, the red sphere in your hand with Kaito safely inside. You obtained a Red Cyberball That wasn’t so hard, with a choice next between blue, yellow and green you would be advancing to the next level before you knew it. So, which will you chose?



Reply 9:
Spoiler: show

They sped down the marked paths, Hint hoovering up the little white balls and...racking up points somewhere by the little bell sounds he wasn't paying much attention to. Aiden checked behind them and spotted the Dusknoir hot on their heels.

"We're...not exactly losing it," he told Hint, though it couldn't really reply between making split-second decisions and eating the little white balls.

Of course, that was when the Mismagius turned the corner and trapped them between two ghosts.

Aiden flinched backwards with a yelp and Hint had to pause for a second so he didn't fall off, but, if they managed to get out of this, Hint was probably gonna yell at him for not paying more attention to the other ghosts. He recovered his balance as Hint raced straight ahead, aiming for a white ball that looked bigger than the others, clearly hoping that they would function just like the ones in the actual Pac-Man, and the Mismagius in front of them went blue the moment Hint closed his mouth around it! Yes!

They raced after the Mismagius, taking it out of the game, and then spun around to chase after the Dusknoir. Aiden urged Hint on, glancing around to plan their next target and spotted the Gengar not far away. He pointed it out to Hint as it ate the Dusknoir and they raced after the third ghost, both aware that the white ball probably wouldn't last much longer. They managed to get the Gengar before things went back to normal, but the Golurk went right back to chasing after them the moment it returned to its normal colors. They dodged around the maze until Hint could eat another of those larger white balls and then ran down the blue-shaded Golurk.

As Hint closed its mouth around the last ghost, their captor's voice came from somewhere above them. "High score! Perhaps you'll make it out alive after all? Bzzt!"

There was a bright flash and they were back at what probably functioned as the game lobby. Hint was back to its floating, pixelated, Rotom-self and--Aiden glanced down at his hand--they had the Red Cyberball! Probably occupied, but Aiden was gonna check in a minute.

Hint gave the impression of a raised eyebrow over its flat look.

"Yeah, yeah, I know." Aiden waved it off sheepishly. "Should've been paying more attention."

"I can probably get out myself, assuming I can dodge past the--I assume--Porygon-Z, but I'm pretty sure you guys can't," Hint pointed out. Somewhat pointedly. "And we mostly need you to ensure we can get out, so..."

"Try not to take stupid risks," Aiden finished more seriously, nodding in agreement. He tossed the Cyberball in his hand before Hint could say anything more and Kaito materialized in a red flash. The Zorua was just as pixelated as the two of them and very grumpy as he looked around.

After a moment, he huffed, "Where are we? Last thing I remember is the machine malfunctioning and getting bowled over by a wave of energy before ending up in that cage."

Aiden rubbed the back of his neck, which was weird because the whole...pixel thing made it look like it shouldn't be possible but he managed it anyway. "Um, yeah, about that..."

"We got sucked into the machine and now have to play three more games with the captor before they'll let us out," Hint explained, deadpan. "Oh, and they stole a Cyberball."

"Three more games?" Kaito glanced around and frowned. "Oh, for Tase and Dust and the extra?"

"Yeah," Aiden sighed. "They grabbed all of us and all the Cyberballs, so we're stuck until we win their game."

Kaito frowned some more. "I'll hop back into the 'ball and then you guys should get going. Who knows what the others'll be stuck in."

That said, he returned himself and Aiden exchanged a look with Hint as they turned to face the Cyberball lineup once again.

Hint shrugged. "He has a point: faster we go, faster we get done and faster we get out of here."

"I know," Aiden sighed before changing the subject. "Tase said green for him, right?"

"I think so?" Hint frowned. "Red for Kaito, green for Tase, and...aqua for Dust?"

"Sounds about right." And he reached out for the green pixelated Cyberball.

Claiming 1x Red Cyberball for my Zorua.


Update 10:
Spoiler: show

In spite of a landslide victory the games were getting to you, and they were only just getting started! Casting the feelings of inertia aside, you gingerly select the green orb, which on touch propels you and your electrified companion into lift off once more. The array of colours speed through your peripheral at blinding speed as you travel lightyears to the next world in the cybernetic series, a two-dimensional setting not dissimilar to the one that came before. In spite of his miniscule and pixelated stature there’s no mistaking him, Tase bouncing up and down just a stone’s throw away. It would be easy enough to reunite with your furry friend, if not for the horizontal road with racecars, trucks, and bulldozers speeding along it. It appeared the Joltik would have to wade through opposing lanes of traffic to avoid becoming roadkill. Once past the road, there was a strip of river with logs and friendly Squirtle granting passage, when not taken by the current’s undertow. Through jumping on the swiftly moving logs and the backs of the drifting Pokemon, it would not take long for the Joltik to reach its safety. Not the sort to pass up on an opportunity to taunt its captors, the mischievous Porygon-Z pipes up yet again, its crackly voice permeating throughout the blocky cyberscape.

Code:
 

Why did the Joltik cross the road?

Who knows? It was squashed like a bug before anyone could ask! Bzzt.
Play Frogger and get three Froggers Joltik across the road, then share the result in your reply!


Reply 10:
Spoiler: show

The green Cyberball emitted a beep as Aiden tapped it, the same white flash from before blinding him and then the same dizzying array of colors flashing past. This time, though, they landed outside. Or, well, a semblance of outside if everything was two-dimensional and there was minimal shading.

Aiden blinked the spots from his eyes and took stock of their surroundings. There was a river in front of them with sets of Squirtle and logs heading downstream. A strip of grass. And then a road with cars, trucks, and...was that a bulldozer? Aiden glanced incredulously over at Hint to check if the Rotom was seeing this also, but it didn't seem to be paying attention to that. It was squinting at a little yellow pixelated arachnid bouncing up and down on the far side of the road.

Their captor spoke from overhead, once again heralding the beginning of the game. "Why did the Joltik cross the road? Who knows? It was squashed like a bug before anyone could ask! Bzzt."

Aiden felt his heart jump, even as he shot a scowl at the sky. "It thinks it's funny, doesn't it."

"Probably," Hint replied distractedly. "You give him directions, while I watch the traffic? Or will you actually pay attention if you watch the traffic this time?" Hint eyed him skeptically.

"I can pay attention," Aiden shot back and then considered the layout of the level. "But you should probably do the traffic watching. You can hover, after all."

"Alright." Hint circled until it had a good vantage point. "We start...now!"


Update 11:
Spoiler: show

The next challenge was underway, Tase crossing the busy highway with the ease of his own spider web while Hint droned above, keeping an eye out for any surprise shifts in the traffic flow. Standing just a few pixels in stature, the vehicles were like huge freight trains by comparison - one misstep and he’d be unceremoniously flattened beneath their tyres. No such steamrolling occurs to your relief, the pair reaching the virtual waterway where the bouncy bug finds passage on a drifting log, a friendly Squirtle then rafting him through the final stretch. It was quite the breeze, much to the abductor’s chagrin. You then feel your body discombobulate again, your growing party zooming back to the lobby with a Green Cyber Ball in hand.

Code:
Two down two to go. BzzT. But fear not!

ThiS is tHe lAst vIdeo gAme wOrld. Bzzzt.
Something seemed even more unhinged about the Porygon-Z than usual as its sentence stifled in parts; perhaps losing to you at so many turns was taking its toll. Just as the Virtual Pokemon forewarned, the set of orbs ahead are replaced with four new colours signalling your advancement to the final stage: magenta, cyan, aqua and violet. You knew the drill by now, selecting your preferred choice and warping to the final video game world.

In a dizzying flash you had traded cyberspace for outer space, captaining a starship of questionable sophistication. Sat in the captain’s chair of a vessel taken straight out of science fiction, you were joined by a crew of your Pokemon, which included Dust the Vulpix! It appeared that the objective of this level was not to free your captive Pokemon, but rather free yourselves. Peering through the viewscreen into the pixelated galaxy ahead, an entire alien armada was homing in on your location and fast! The fleet of Magnezone, Metang and Ferrothorn were lined in a meticulous formation; it would be impossible to evade, so there was nothing for it but to punch your way through. Hint being the technopath in your ranks possesses the ship, soon enough having all of its systems manned with shields and weapons initialising. You brace against the arms of your chair as the interstellar dogfight wheels into motion…

Play Space Invaders and get a score of 1,000 or more, then share the result in your reply!


Reply 11:
Spoiler: show

Between Hint's overhead view and Aiden's 'street'-level view, they managed to get Tase across both the highway and the river without...anything happening to the tiny arachnid. The moment the Joltik reached their side of the riverbank, there was another flash of white light and they were returned to the 'lobby,' Aiden holding a Green Cyber Ball like he had been after the last game level.

"Two down, two to go. BzzT. But fear not!" their captor said. "ThiS is tHe lAst vIdeo gAme wOrld. Bzzzt."

Aiden exchanged a wary glance with Hint. "Is it just me or did that sound...not good?" he asked, voice pitched low even if that...probably didn't matter since he agreed with Hint on just what their captor probably was.

"Can't do anything about it right now anyway," Hint muttered back. Aiden nodded grimly and tossed the Green Cyber Ball to release Tase. A moment later, he sent Kaito out too.

"Just missing one more," Kaito said after taking stock of who was here now.

"What happened?" Tase skittered up Kaito's front paw, clinging despite Kaito's reflexive attempt to shake him off, so he could perch on the Zorua's head. "Where's the warehouse and the humans and the heat? And Dust, where's Dust?"

Aiden ran a hand through his hair. "We got sucked into the machine from earlier and our kidnapper wants us to win two more games in order to get free. After stealing a Cyber Ball," Aiden finished sourly, still frustrated about that. One for each of his current team that didn't have one, one for the Aerodactyl that got away, and one more for whoever would round out his first six. That was the plan, at least. Of course, now...well. He'd be happy with five if they all managed to get out of here whole and hale.

Tase hummed thoughtfully. "So, one for Dust and one more against...the kidnapper?"

"That's what we figure." Hint glanced at the lineup of pixel Cyber Balls, everyone else following its gaze. The lineup now consisted of magenta, cyan, aqua, and violet.

"Dust said aqua for him," Kaito reminded them, eyeing the lineup warily. There was a beat of silence as they all considered the pixel Cyber Balls. "We should hop back into our 'balls and get going. Who knows how long it'll keep us or Dust if we don't keep going?"

"Right." Aiden returned Tase and Kaito and tapped the aqua Cyber Ball, closing his eyes through the whole white-light-color-tunnel thing that he didn't need to see a third time. He did, however, open his eyes the moment he heard Tase, Kaito, and Dust(!) exclaim in surprise. They were on what looked like some kind of sci-fi space ship's bridge with Aiden seated at the captain's seat, Tase on radar/navigation, and Dust, Hint, and Kaito at loose ends.

"Uhhh, this doesn't look good," Tase said, staring down at whatever was displayed on his screen.

"If whatever you're seeing is the same as the view out the window, then, yeah, I very much agree," Aiden said, staring wide-eyed out the, for lack of a better word, windshield at the literal army of Magnezone, Metang, and Ferrothorn lined up in formation facing them. "Hint?"

Hint glanced back at him. "Take over the ship?"

"Take over the ship." Aiden tore his eyes away from the window to glance at Kaito and Dust. "We'll catch you up if--when we win," he told his Alolan Vulpix. "But, in the meantime, find something to hold on to and hold on." If this was going to be anything even close to video game aerial combat, they were gonna need to.

Collecting 1x Green Cyber Ball for my Joltik.


Update 12:
Spoiler: show

In a galaxy far far away, you find your team manning the helm of a starship heading into enemy space. This would be the virtual villain’s last-ditch effort to trip you up in arcade fashion, leaving you no time to strategize as the alien armada encroach on your vessel. In melding with the ship’s circuitry, Hint takes no time putting his new toys to work: raising shields, initialising weapons and firing up propulsion systems. You hold onto your seat rests as the engine gives an 8-bit roar, accelerating the ship at intense velocity and setting the space battle underway.

An impassable formation of Magnezone were lined up to meet your approach, the Rotom punching an opening with a well-timed photon blast, corkscrewing through the debris left behind. The field of Metang were up next with more warning to return fire, your shields beginning to falter under the incessant showering. The sentient ship meets their assault with another photon blast, clearing a pathway to escape while sustaining heavy damage. Hurtling in range of the last line of offense, it looks like the ship’s safeguards might be reaching breaking point. A blaring claxon warns you to brace for impact as shields go offline, a deafening crash rocking the spaceship. Everything that wasn’t strapped down starts spiralling into the microgravity; the force pinwheels your teammates about the hull, an impact that would tear the breath from your lungs if you had any. Ruptured air hoses hissed oxygen into the cabin, swaying like a cluster of Ekans whose heads had been severed. Hint wrestles for control of the failing ship and in the nick of time propels a volley of torpedos which set off a chain of detonations – taking out the Ferrothorn fleet with it. With the alien army decimated in a dazzling explosion, the ship has room to safely jump to warp speed and away from the calamity – your high score flickering on the black canvas, much to the captor’s chagrin.

You had grown all too accustomed to the feeling of hurtling through cyberspace, as familiar with the lobby as your own living room as you pocket the Aqua Cyber Ball and make your way to choose the final colour on offer. Sensing your touch, it sends your party zooming to the last level – bearing an uncanny resemblance to a televised game show. You and your reunited friends were stood behind a podium with a bright red buzzer. The audience welcomed your sudden entrance with applause, dozens of Porygon bobbing in their seats, spinning their legs excitedly. Your host? The crazed captor itself! The cheering reaches its crescendo as the Porygon-Z glides onto the set, donning a bow tie and a stack of question cards as it readied to quiz you and your teammates.

Code:
So you are a gifted gamer, but how is your general knowledge? Bzzt.

If yOu can outSMart mE then you mIGht win yoUr fREEdom yet! BzZzt

1. Which two abilities negate the effect of Follow Me?
2. Which Hoenn Pokemon was once capable of changing genders upon evolution?
3. How many Pokemon evolve through learning a move?
4. Which ability is identical to Soundproof?
5. Put these moves in order of which goes first: Crafty Shield, Obstruct, Smart Strike, Beak Blast, Baby-Doll Eyes
6. Which Sinnoh Pokemon had their types changed between generations?
7. Which manmade Pokemon is the strongest?


Reply 12:
Spoiler: show

Hint immediately raised the shields, warming up the weapons and the engines, as the rest of them braced themselves for...whatever maneuvers Hint would end up pulling. Ahead of them, a formation of Magnezone blocked their way.

"Initiating combat," Hint announced before accelerating towards the Magnezone, a photon blast obliterating the entire formation into debris. It spun the ship around the mess and then they took fire as they went up against a field of Metang. Their guns flashed, clearing a path through the Metang, and they slipped past, turning to face the last line of attack.

"Just the Ferrothorn left," Tase told them, clinging to the navigation panel.

Warnings blared as something rocked the ship and Kaito went to check the nearest panel. He winced. "And our shields just went down."

The entire ship jolted as they took a hit, sending Kaito and Dust flying through the air with shocked yips, scrabbling for some kind of grip before they hit the walls. Aiden clung to his chair as Hint fought to stabilize the ship.

"I don't think the ship's gonna last much longer," Aiden warned Hint.

"I know. I'm working on it," Hint replied, sounding as though it was gritting its teeth. It sent a volley of torpedoes at the Ferrothorn, setting off a series of explosions that took out the fleet, and they darted away, jumping to warp speed the moment they were clear.

This time, Aiden immediately sent out all of his Pokémon the second his vision cleared and showed the lobby again.

Dust shook his coat out as he landed and sat down to do some grooming. "That was absolutely terrible flying, Hint."

"I'd like to see you do better," Hint shot back, glancing over at Aiden to check that they got the Aqua Cyber Ball like they were supposed to.

Kaito scratched at an ear. "Well, we got everyone back now. What color are you planning to go for next, Aiden?"

Aiden ran a hand through his hair and turned to the Cyberball lineup. Magenta, violet, and orange. Orange was right out, which left magenta or violet for the Aerodactyl. He studied the two for another moment. "Probably violet."

"Purple for the purple, flying dinosaur?" Tase asked from his perch on Kaito's head. "It matches. What are you gonna do about the last one?"

Aiden grimaced. "Not sure, but I'll figure it out when we get there." He walked over to the violet cyber ball and then paused. "Did you guys wanna stay out or--?"

"Out," Dust said flatly. Kaito nodded his agreement, while Tase exchanged looks with Hint before shrugging.

"Alright then." And he tapped the violet cyber ball.

When his vision cleared, he found all five of them on what looked like the set of a TV game show, standing behind a podium with a bright red buzzer. The audience clapping in welcome consisted entirely of Porygon with a Porygon-Z acting as the host.

"Do you think that's our kidnapper?" he asked his team in an undertone, watching the Porygon-Z glide across the set.

"At this point, I think I'd be more surprised if it didn't show," Hint replied. Kaito bared his teeth for a moment, while Dust flattened his ears in annoyance.

The Porygon-Z turned to them. "So you are a gifted gamer, but how is your general knowledge? Bzzt. If yOu can outSMart mE then you mIGht win yoUr fREEdom yet! BzZzt."

Aiden relaxed a bit. General knowledge trivia. Should be fine, right? As the Porygon-Z started listing off the questions, he realized that no, it really wouldn't be. And, really, he should've expected it.

"...I wish I had a Pokédex," he muttered, at an absolute loss and already starting to fret about the consequences. If they lost, what would the Porygon-Z do? Keep them here? How would they get free?

Hint rolled its eyes and turned to the rest of the party. "I've hacked a database before, so I can answer...let's go with most of the questions."

The others exchanged glances. "Better than the rest of us could do, so..." Kaito gestured for Hint to go ahead, Tase skittering away from the buzzer.

Hint took its place before the podium, nudging Aiden gently out of the way, and dove in. "Stalwart and Propeller Tail negate Follow Me. Azurill used to be able to change genders upon evolution; no idea why they stopped. Eleven Pokémon evolve after learning a move. Cacophony is a theoretical Ability once proposed for Whismur, Loudred, and Exploud, but it was determined that they had Soundproof instead; it doesn't seem like there's much of a difference between them, but I'm not a researcher. It would go Obstruct, then Crafty Shield, Baby-Doll Eyes, Smart Strike, and finally Beak Blast. Mime Jr. and Togekiss had their types changed upon the discovery of the Fairy-type, if we're talking about purely Sinnohan discoveries; otherwise, the Kantonian Mimes, Toges, Clefas, Rills, and Ralts lines all changed with the discovery of Fairy-types. And, finally, I would say Mewtwo is the strongest manmade Pokémon."

Turning away from the podium, Hint drifted back to the rest of the team. "Hopefully, that's good enough, but I wouldn't be surprised if it used the ambiguity in the questions to get us."

"Then we'll fight our way through and make it regret taking us in the first place," Dust snarled quietly in response, watching the Porygon-Z carefully.

Collecting 1x Aqua Cyber Ball for my Alolan Vulpix


Update 13:
Spoiler: show


Code:
Welcome ladies and gentlebots to a very special episode of–
“Porygon’s Pop Quiz!” The artificial audience scream back in unison.
Code:
Today we will find out just how tiny and primitive human brains really are – give a warm welcome to our contestants from the organic world: Team Aiden! BzZZzt.
The droves of Porygon offer another round of cheer, legs whirling as they amp up with excitement. While you fancy your chances in a game of trivia, the questions come at you in rapid fire – confidence waning with each one. Without a Pokedex to fact check you were relegated to guesswork, a lifelong sentence in the pixelated prison as good as sealed. As luck would have it you had something better than a Pokedex, the Rotom’s antennae whirring as he gathered intel from the World Wide Web.

The game show quickly turns into a battle of wits between the two cybernetic Pokemon, the Rotom buzzing in and reeling off answers faster than the Porygon-Z can throw questions. The points screen ahead of your podium was climbing with each correct ding, and soon enough it feels like you might hit a home run. That is until the speakers emit a sad buzz on the penultimate question, indicating your lucky streak had run its course. The audience were growing to root for Hint, emitting disappointed whimpers as your scoreboard is marked with a cross.

Code:
 You seem to have forgotten about yourself! BzZzt.
The Porygon-Z spins its head and flails its arms in wacky fashion, egging the audience into laughter while Hint sinks behind the podium in a mangle of irritation and embarrassment.

Code:
Rotom were once thought to have retained their ghost-type when possessing appliances, but it was later discovered that they acquire the typing of their appliance – since your base form remains the same, perhaps we could let this one slide. What do you think, audience?
The revved-up viewers erupt with agreement, the host nodding as it flips to the final question card. It was a strange show of mercy from the host, who had been playing anything but fair up to now. You weren't about to argue with free lifeline, focus falling on the final question and your ticket to freedom. The strongest manmade Pokemon? Even without Hint’s knowledge bank, the answer was indisputable. It was common knowledge that Mewtwo had been cloned in a lab using the DNA of the mythical Mew; at the time it was considered the most powerful Pokemon in existence, still holding that title as far as manmade Pokemon were concerned. Your team buzz in and confidently shoot off the final answer, a resounding ding indicating success.

The viewers erupt into their biggest rapture yet as a Violet Cyber Ball emerges from a prize podium, meanwhile the host’s smile cracks – seeming so sure there were no manmade Pokemon stronger than itself. This triggers what you can only equate to an existential crisis, eyes twitching as the gameshow around it falls into critical error. The audience start to lag in their seats, the speakers emitting a piercing whir. The holographic studio starts to flicker in and out of existence like a broken lightbulb, a reaction to the creator’s increasing instability. With the world collapsing around you, your pore over the surroundings desperately for any sign of cover. The walls seem to vanish by themselves, giving way to an infinite black abyss, feet landing on familiar pink gridlines. Fixing back on the audience, the droves of Porygon don't look so friendly anymore as they start glitching out too, turning on your party. While you were ringfenced below with no option but to battle your way out, the Porygon-Z was swelling in size above...

Code:
 BzzZZZzzt

syntHEsizing gravity
buiLding Probability MatricEs


Reply 13:
Spoiler: show
"Welcome, ladies and gentlebots, to a very special episode of--"

"Porygon's Pop Quiz!" the audience yelled back, like any other studio audience.

"Today, we will find out just how tiny and primitive human brains really are - give a warm welcome to our contestants from the organic world: Team Aiden! BzZZzt."

The Porygon cheered again, legs spinning like fans as the Porygon-Z turned to read off the questions to them. Hint stepped up to the podium and then the two were off, the host shooting questions and Hint answering just as fast, the points on the screen climbing like a firework.

"They're really good," Tase said from Aiden's shoulder, startling the trainer.

"I'd hope so," Kaito replied darkly, glancing at the crowd. "I don't really like our odds, if things go south."

A loud buzz brought their attention back to the two computer-inclined Pokémon, Hint's grimace a good indicator as to what happened if anyone hadn't figured it out already. The crowd groaned in disappointment as a cross marked the scoreboard.

"You seem to have forgotten about yourself! BzZzt," their captor declared, head and arms spinning. The audience laughed at it, while Hint muttered, "It's not like I'd typically look myself up when I had access."

"Maybe you should've," Dust replied tartly, but he was clearly as worried as everyone else.

"Rotom were once thought to have retained their Ghost-type when possessing appliances, but it was later discovered that they acquire the typing of their appliance," the Porygon-Z explained. "Since your base form remains the same, perhaps we could let this one slide." Hint tilted its head. Weird. "What do you think, audience?"

The audience agreed and they moved on to the last question while Aiden exchanged looks with his Pokémon. That was...unusually generous for the Porygon-Z; what was it planning now? Kaito grimaced and tilted his head towards Hint and the Porygon-Z in a "we probably have to wait and see" gesture, which Aiden agreed with, even if he didn't like it.

Hint buzzed in their last answer and a ding sounded, a Violet Cyber Ball emerging from the prize podium. The crowd went wild, but Aiden and most of his team were watching the Porygon-Z and spotted its smile crack. Its eyes started twitching, the audience lagging in their seats as the ubiquitous computer-error whine sounded throughout the area. The game show stage flickered, the walls dropping to reveal the pink gridlines of the game lobby, and Aiden backed up a step. Dust eyed the audience as they turned towards them, baring his teeth as Kaito did the same to the swelling Porygon-Z. Hint retreated until the three of them formed a barrier between the digital Pokémon and Aiden.

Tase tilted his head as motion caught his attention. There was a kind of ticker tape scrolling under the Porygon-Z that his teammates hadn't noticed. Had that always been there or was something going on? He read through it again. Weird that only some of the letters were big...

He paused and frowned, feeling like he was missing something. Wasn't there something about...about...

"Hint? Do you remember when you showed us something on the computer about stories?"

"I don't think now's the time, Tase," Kaito called back at the same time that Hint replied, "What about it?"

"Wasn't there some kind of trick with capital letters?" Tase scanned the text again. ZZZ. H, E. L. P. ME help me oh shit. "It reads 'help me,'" he muttered and then raised his voice in a panic, "Guys, it's asking for help!"

"By kidnapping us?" Aiden demanded as the others hesitated. He glared at the Porygon-Z, fists clenched to hide their shaking. "What the heck kind of help do you need that you'd kidnap people to fix it?"


Update 14:
Spoiler: show

You were in the endgame now, the boss growing to gargantuan size while its drones homed in on you in a collective fit of fury. Something about its cryptic droning catches Tase’s attention – in reading between the lines, he deciphers a hidden cry for help. The virtual villain had some nerve after dropping you in the pixelated prison, fists shaking as you make it clear that helping it out is the last thing on your mind. Your protests fall on deaf ears, its seizure only intensifying...
Code:
optiMAL WARfarE
NOrmalizing TesselatINg protoCOls
syNThesizing RevOLvers
Your rage does nothing to stem the impending swarm of Porygon, the aggressive audience swallowing you up in a sea of pink and blue – and for the first time, you feel grateful that you can’t feel pain as they chip away at your team with a barrage of Tackles. The ramming does more to tickle than bruise, and yet with the number of aggressors in the double digits, the damage starts to rack up. Hint and Tase are able to wriggle their way to freedom thanks to their small and nimble bodies. Dust and Kaito on the other hand attempt to muscle their way out, the sheer size of the invasion making such a feat easier said than done. Their attempts to nuzzle their way through the cracks in the formation are met with Thundershocks, sparks dancing up and down their singed fur. While you were bent on taking down the crazed captor overhead, it seemed you need to deal with the drones first. With the cybernetic crowd more smothering than a Black Friday Sale at Celadon Department Store, it was time to coordinate a retaliation.


Reply 14:
Spoiler: show

Ummm." Tase tapped his right foreleg against Aiden's shoulder, the way a human would tap their nails against a desk or table when uncertain or impatient. "It says there's malware in its system and it's not in control."

"Are you kidding me?" Aiden was trying not to let the terror of getting eternally trapped in a computer system overpower his mind, so he let it make him angrier. "The only reason we're even in this situation in the first place is because we installed the damn upgrade that would let us get extra colors?"

"Aiden!" Hint snapped as they were crowded backwards by the Porygon. "Be pissed off later. Orders now!"

Not that Aiden actually got a chance to try anything before they were actually attacked by the Porygon. He instinctively flung his arms up in front of his face as the Porygon Tackled them, only to frown as the expected pain didn't happen. Instead, he...seemed to be losing energy?

Tase glanced at Hint, who grimaced at him, and then surveyed the crowd of attackers. Spotting a way through, he leaped off Aiden's shoulder and called for Hint to follow him, skittering and dodging past the Porygon to emerge on the other side. No one else seemed to have managed, though, so they hovered uncertainly on the outside of the mob.

Dust and Kaito snapped and snarled at the Porygon surrounding them, trying their best to push through and getting Thundershocked for their troubles. Kaito jerked back as he took another Thundershock to the snout and growled, "This isn't working!"

"Obviously," Dust snarled back before yelling over his shoulder. "Aiden! A little help?"

Aiden peeked through his arms, flinched as he took another Tackle to his side, and then dropped his arms to survey the situation. "Right, right. Sorry. Umm, Dust, Powder Snow your half of the Porygon. Kaito, use Pursuit on your half?"

Kaito rolled his eyes, but nodded his agreement, as did Dust. Hint yelled from its position outside the mob, "What about us?"

"Uh, Electroweb them from behind?" Aiden winced as he took another Tackle to his side, waving an arm at his unprotected side.

"Right." Hint nodded, while Tase chirped, "You got it!"


Update 15:
Spoiler: show
Hint offers the voice of reason needed to snap you from rage and onto the immediate threat ahead, and behind, and about every other direction. You were suddenly drowning in a sea of Porygon, a sweeping offense required to stem the tide and provide the necessary breathing room to deal with the malfunctioning boss above. Your vulpine teammates are first off the bat, Dust expelling a gust of Powdery Snow that sends the swarm back peddling, their spinning joints seizing up with frost. Kaito opts to muscle his way free with brute force, fur enveloping in dark energy as he rammed the nearest drones – Pursuing the dispersing Porgyon for good measure. The thunderous twosome were next up, spinning Electrowebs and casting them out wide like sailor’s fishing nets. The webbing works to corral the pixelated Porygon, their waning resistance met with nasty jolts of electricity. Hint, Kaito, Tase and Dust gain one level!

With the drones barely putting up a fight, you can’t help but wonder if your crazed captor was just buying itself time. Its growth spurt settles at about fifty storeys high – though a few thousand pixels would be more apt. Its booming voice continued to permeate through cyberspace, Tase tapping away at your shoulder as he drew hidden meaning out from the nonsense.
Code:
GRAvity iNegraTING
CHEcking dATa COllection
DEconstructing ACCuracy ProcESSes
Before the mite can even reel off an interpretation, your ears prick to the sound of Hint going haywire – a million different processes running through his head all at once. Once the initial information overload clears, the Rotom sports a wry smile as it appears to have tapped into the system's mainframe, acquiring the power needed to set itself on par with the titanic technopath. The buff couldn’t have come a moment sooner, the Porygon-Z thrusting its arms and tail forward as it begins charging a Tri-Attack, globules of fire, ice and electricity swelling above, large enough to wipe out your entire team in a fell swoop!



Hint is now able to change appliance forms at will. On top of this, choose ONE power up to activate:

Get big – allows Hint to grow to gigantic size
Multiply – allows Hint to duplicate into an army
Action Replay – allows Hint to choose a new ability and use every conceivable move


Reply 15:
Spoiler: show


Dust inhaled and blew Snow Powder over the sea of Porygon, forcing them back and making their joints frost over. Kaito Pursued them as they retreated, slamming into them and throwing them further back. Hint and Tase then cast Electrowebs out like fishing nets, catching and corralling the Porygon into a contained huddle.

Aiden then caught his breath as his team regrouped around him, turning to face the Porygon-Z to see why it didn't just smash them all while they were distracted. And had to follow its body up because it was now a gigantic, godzilla-sized boss.

"What the fuck?" he blurted out in disbelief, staring up at their opponent. "How're we supposed to fight that?"

Tase, who'd skittered back up to Aiden's shoulder, opened his mouth to read off the Porygon-Z's hidden message, but Hint abruptly started whirring like an overworked computer.

Aiden eyed the Rotom warily. "You doing okay there, Hint?"

"Uh, it mentioned giving us cheat code access?" Tase offered.

Kaito tilted his head to one side and flicked his tail. "I don't think Hint'll appreciate getting blind-sided by that. Even if it's useful."

Dust snorted. "It can be as pissed as it likes once we get out of here, so long as we get out."

"Ow." Hint blinked a few times and shook its head, expression going disgruntled for a moment before it clearly set the feeling aside. "I, uh, think it gave me the ability to swap between the traditional Rotom appliances at will and either go godzilla, become my own army, or pick something else and use every move."

"I'd go with the last," Aiden immediately said.

Hint shot him a skeptical look, though it was Dust who asked, "You sure? Because, honestly, I think I'd prefer having a giant Pokémon between us and the other giant Pokémon."

Aiden hesitated for a moment longer and then nodded. "Alright. Go big instead and Sucker Punch it. Then Charge and hit it with a Thunderbolt."

Hint goes from 28 to 29.
Kaito goes from 11 to 12.
Tase goes from 11 to 12.
Dust goes from 11 to 12.


Update 16:
Spoiler: show

Inches from GAME OVER you are handed a lifeline in the form of an unusual power up; somewhere deep within the enemy’s subconscious you had an ally, enabling Rotom to hack into the matrix and even the odds some. With the elemental beam about to raze your entire team from existence, Hint sets his grow spurt into motion without delay. His antenna looks more like a radio tower as he meets the foe’s colossal stature, electric ectoplasm emanating from his body like an immense thundercloud.

With the Tri-Attack fully charged Hint has a split second to deliver a decisive Sucker Punch, disrupting the foe's aim and sending the technicolour beam hurtling into empty space. You are given a much needed moment of respite as the two giants prepare their follow up assault, the cybernetic kaiju Locking On to its target while Hint Charges his batteries, sparks the size of lightning bolts flying from his exterior, shoring up his special defences. With a slight speed advantage Rotom is first to break into attack, letting loose his excess electricity. The Thunderbolt cuts crazy zig zag patterns against the black canvas, followed hotly by a cracking boom. The Porygon-Z reels as the sparks run up and down its body, its seizure intensifying from the sizeable hit. The enemy isn’t about to let up, lifting its ovoid limbs to form a Shadowy Ball which it sends careening forward. Hint is given no chance to dodge due to the foe’s advanced targeting, the projectile socking him point blank for a devastating blow! While the clash of titans was only just getting under way, it is clear Porgyon-Z has gained a slight early lead. You’ll have to pull out all the stops to pull the game back. What will you do?




Reply 16:
Spoiler: show

Hint immediately leaped forward, Sucker Punching the gigantic Porygon-Z and sending its attack wide. Both retreated for a moment, electricity sparking off of Hint as it Charged up and their captor appeared to focus in on Hint. A moment later, a Thunderbolt shot across the field, slamming into the Porgyon-Z who retaliated with a Shadow Ball. Hint grimaced as it backed off, smarting from the last attack.

"Aiden?" It didn't turn to look at him, but its voice was expectant.

The four of them separated from where they'd huddled together, hoping none of the stray lightning bolts hit them. Dust scowled at his coat, but clearly decided to give it up as a bad job for now. Kaito shook himself and tried in vain to get his fur to lie flat, while Tase just skittered around, collecting the lingering electricity in his teammates' fur.

"Yeah, yeah, gimme a sec." Aiden grimaced, glancing at the rest of his team. "None of you guys have any"--he gestured wordlessly at all of them--"group moves, do you?"

The three of them exchanged looks, before Kaito and Tase shook their heads.

"I think I'm the only who has something," Dust mused, his fur thankfully lying flat after Tase's attentions, turning back to Aiden. "But it's Howl and I doubt that'll be helpful when most of Hint's attacks aren't...physical."

"True." Aiden frowned and looked back at the stand-off. "I guess we'll just have to hit hard and fast, for the most part." He raised his voice to make it clear he was talking to Hint. "Try a Confuse Ray and then a Signal Beam and a Dark Pulse."

"Confuse Ray, huh?" Hint considered that while it eyed its opponent. That'd be nice to land, as would a Thunder Wave. It thought for a moment. Maybe next round.



King Gidorah:
Spoiler: show

Start:
Spoiler: show
It had been quite a while since Hugo had been to New Fizz City. Truthfully, he had been trying to lay low and stay out of the limelight since the incident at the Power Plant those many years ago. But New Fizz City was governed by a new regime and some sweeping changes had been made to the city. Certainly nobody would be looking for him now, right? And even if they were, he could easily blend in with the huge throngs of people.

Hugo had never visited the real Kanto, but he had always wanted to. Legend says that the relationship between Pokemon and humans originally developed in Kanto many, many years ago, and Kanto was often considered the “birthplace” of Pokemon. But it was leagues away. New Fizz City’s Little Kanto would certainly be just as exciting.

Hugo wandered through the street, shoulder to shoulder with many other visitors. The air was thick with the smell of Kantonian delicacies and fried food, the sky illuminated by bright neon lights beckoning tourists to visit specific restaurants and shops or to buy a certain product. Hugo took it all in. Hugo enjoyed the hustle and bustle around him. Sometimes he liked to be able to be alone in a crowd like this. It’s strange how that worked, isn’t it? Surrounded by tons of people, yet still feeling completely anonymous at the same time. People shopping and eating; the sounds and smells of life surrounding him. He was ready for whatever he may find here. Or what may find him.

Update 1:
Spoiler: show
It felt like years. It had been years. Your last time in New Fizz had been a bittersweet one, a trip to the local Power Plant that had gone awry in more ways than one, and yet, had also provided you with one of your strongest companions.

Now, you're looking to start over, much like the very city itself has. Away from the noisier, more metropolitan side of New Fizz, you find yourself instead being pulled toward a much more picturesque sort of neighborhood - Little Kanto.

You tell yourself it probably isn't too different from the real deal - your surroundings looks authentic, or at the very least quite traditional. You haven't spotted any egregious mistakes either, like Slowpoke Tail sellers from Johto trying to pass them off as genuine Kantonian delicacies. The scents, in fact, are just as much part of the area's appeal as the sights. A far cry, and a welcome one, from the drab and austere Power Plant you found yourself trapped in last time.

"You sir, are a scam!"
"Oh, so now you insult my cooking and my honor?!"
"Indeed I do, sir! A thousand times if I must!"

The commotion seems to come from a nearby food stall on the side of the main street. A small crowd is starting to gather, as it always does at the slightest suggestion of drama.

"How dare you call this filth traditional fried Farfetch'd?! It is a crime against the palate!"
"Preposterous! What would I call it then, if not exactly what it is?!"
"Again you mock me sir? You think I would not be able to tell genuine Farfetch'd from common Ducklett?!"

The angry customer at the heart of this scuffle - undoubtedly Galarian, from accent to posture - is leaning over the counter, face red and contorted in rage behind his rather impressive gray moustache. From where you're standing you can't quite catch a glimpse of the cook's face, but you can't imagine he looks much happier...

"YOU! Kind sir!" The customer suddenly turns to you after briefly scanning his surroundings. "Would you be so kind as to help us settle this?"

The whole affair seems vastly exaggerated all things considered... Is this something you even want to be involved in?

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show
The crowd that had gathered turned simultaneously to face Hugo who was suddenly thrust into this awkward encounter whether he liked it or not. So much for laying low. These sort of things always seemed to happen to Hugo. Why was that? Why was it always so hard for him to fade into obscurity? He was always the one who got pulled into these situations. Almost as if someone, or a perhaps multiple people, were intentionally coming up with especially complicated scenarios for him.

Nah, that’s just crazy talk.

Nevertheless, the cook, the mustachioed gentleman, and the crowd were looking to Hugo for a reaction. He didn’t really want to make waves and get involved…but he was pretty hungry after all. The Farfetch’d…or Ducklett…or whatever it was did smell quite tasty; Hugo’s stomach growling in response, beckoning him to settle the matter. It was the right thing to do after all, right? These guys asked him for his help. Common courtesy would indicate that he really should lend them a hand. It was innocent stuff, where was the harm?

“Who? Me? Well, I don’t know. I don’t really want to get in the way here.” Hugo was pretty good at faking incredulousness. Seem unwilling and maybe this can go off without a hitch. “But I mean…if you really need my help, I suppose I could give it a try. Please know that I’m no culinary expert. But if you’re asking me to participate in some kind of taste test…perhaps provide me will a full meal at absolutely no cost to me…then I guess I could help.”

Was that too direct? Probably.

Update 2:
Spoiler: show
You briefly wonder if some cosmic, handsome entity is constantly pulling the strings of fate to guide you into either precarious or simply frankly improbable situations, but the thought quickly disperses in the face of potential free lunch. It's worth a shot, at least.

Under the watchful eye of the small crowd, you bravely approach your destination, appetite in hand, ready to fell whatever cooked beast crosses your path. As you stand inches away from the food stall, the man with mustache whispers something close to your ear...

"In the name of honest cooking, expose this culinary fraud and I will pay you $1000 directly from my own pocket!"

You finally get a good glimpse of the man running the business. A balding middle-aged man whose features seem decidedly Kantonian, he doesn't look nearly as angry as you'd have expected, but instead a mixture of defiant and desperate.

You fully expect to get an earful, at the very least, from the wandering chef; after all, future business can't be looking good with the Galarian gentleman's serious accusations. But instead, he silently rolls up his sleeves at the sight of the new "customer" and dutifully accepts the challenge. He turns his back to you and gets to work; in a matter of minutes, the delicious scent of fried meat and vegetables fills the air once more.

In the blink of an eye, the man spins back around and deftly places a steaming plate in front of you, complete with chopsticks. The smell is incredible, and you can't fault the presentation either - perfectly-fried cutlets seasoned with herbs and sesame seeds, with a side of leek rings. You're more than ready to dive in, but once you grab the chopsticks, you notice a small piece of paper stuck between them. There's writing on it...

*Pretend it's Farfetch'd... please*

For a brief moment, the entire main street seems to fall dead silent as your chopsticks slowly descend upon a slice of fried meat...

What will you do?...

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show
Hmm. So the cook was a fraud after all. The thought of the thousand dollars was certainly appealing. Even more appealing than the steaming plate of…whatever…was put in front of Hugo. Sure it looked and smelled amazing, but it was ultimately just some unknown meat at this point. He hoped it was Ducklett, but he wasn’t really sure. The thought made his stomach turn a little bit.

But he looked at the chef. The man seemed kindly enough, certainly less aggressive than the Galarian making the scene. The weight of the situation weighed on Hugo; he realized he held the man’s fate in his hands. Say it was Farfetch’d and the man could continue to make his living. Out him as a phony in front of all of these people and potentially ruin his business and perhaps even his entire livelihood.

Hugo thought back on the Power Plant. On the decisions he made. The lives he changed forever. That was a dark side of Hugo…a dark side he had made a lot of progress toward keeping under control. He didn’t want that person in control again.

Not right now, at least.

He scooped the chopsticks up – discretely hiding the secret message – and had at it. Fortunately, it tasted even better than it looked. Despite not knowing what exactly he was eating, he certainly was enjoying it.

“Oooh, yes. So tender. Much flavor,” Hugo spoke between bites, rice bits falling from his overfull mouth. “I would say perhaps this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted! My tastebuds are screaming with pleasure! THIS IS A CULINARY MASTERPIECE INCAPABLE OF BEING SURPASSED! OH MY GOD! I WANT TO FALL TO MY KNEES AND WEEP OPENLY AND REJOICE!”

You know, really hamming it up.

Hugo felt the eyes on him and regained his composure.

“Ahem,” he coughed. “This is most certainly Farfetch’d.”

He turn to the mustache man.

“And I will not hear any more of YOUR slander, sir! Verily!”

He shot a hopefully subtle wink to the chef.

Update 3:
Spoiler: show
You decide to side with the chef, even with written proof he’s a sham. A curious decision, passing up on free money and the chance to expose a fraud – but you can’t say you regret it.

The food is admittedly delicious, if unidentified, and how often do you – who by your own admission just want to blend with the shadows – get to put on such an outrageously bad performance in front of a live crowd? Still, your last line at the very end seems to settle things: you catch a brief glimpse of the Kantonian’s expression of relief and a full frontal display of the Galarian man’s sheer disbelief and anger.

“THIS IS PREPOSTEROUS! I shall… I shall write the absolute sternest of letters to the National Board of Culinary Arts about this,” the gentleman promises. “By Zacian, you have not heard the last of me!”

With that, he briskly turns around and storms off; soon, the crowd disperses, the matter summarily settled by your… unexpectedly convincing performance.

“Must’ve served you fried ham instead of Ducklett by mistake,” grumbles the chef in a raspy voice once everyone’s left. “But thanks. You can keep the rest.”

*You obtained 1x Leftovers!*

“Get your ass over here,” he suddenly tells you, motioning for you to join him inside the stall. A dubious request, which could definitely have been worded better; the man picks up on your hesitation and clarifies. “Look, you helped me out of a tough spot, so I wanna cut you a deal. We both stand to gain, I swear.”

As he keeps talking, you pick up the faint scent of alcohol in the air. The man doesn’t appear to be ostensibly drunk, but he’s definitely been drinking recently… Do you take him up on his offer, or move on to find adventure elsewhere in Little Kanto?

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show
Hugo realized why he couldn’t blend in with his surroundings. Because he did this to himself. He always seemed to take it to one extreme or the other, rarely the middle ground. Probably some kind of underlying prognosis there. Ah, well.

Hugo watched as the man stormed away, having promised we hadn’t heard the last of him.

“Phew, good thing we’ve heard the last of him,” he said, turning to the cook.

Despite doing the Kantonian a solid, Hugo was a little surprised at the gruffness with which he was received. Certainly there’s something to be said about being selfless and not doing good deeds for the sake of the reward or adoration, but even so, Hugo still felt a bit slighted. He packed the Leftovers away, sure to use them another time, and joined the chef – and his somewhat abrasive attitude – within the stall.

Hugo eyed the various ingredients – many of them unidentifiable – and cooking apparatuses that the cook had accumulated. Quite impressive for a street vendor. Something told Hugo there was something out of the ordinary about this gentleman. That there was more than may meet the eye. This, of course, was confirmed when he approached Hugo with an unspecified proposition.

“As a general rule,” Hugo began to explain, “I don’t typically accept shady offers from random street people, especially when they don’t really even hint at what they’re getting at.”

Today, however, Hugo was feeling especially bold.

“But what the hell? Why not? Tell me what you have to offer me, my friend.”

He picked up the scent of alcohol.

“And how about pouring one for me?”

Update 4:
Spoiler: show
With understandable reservations, you nevertheless decide to join the chef inside the stall. It is remarkably well-equipped, even if he seems to be selling Ducklett for Farfetch'd. In fact, there is definitely a great amount of care on display here, from the razor-sharp, high-quality kitchen knives to the impeccable organization of every pot and pan. The dissonance is definitely curious - if this man is so serious about cooking, why is he fooling his customers?

The man - whose demeanour has changed drastically from forcibly polite to rough and bitter as soon as the crowd dispersed - looks at you with a very annoyed expression as soon as you ask him for a drink. His eyes rapidly shift to a large bottle of cheap, store-bought whisky before turning back to you.

"I don't need the help of someone who loves alcohol as much as I do. Either keep off the bottle and be useful or take a hike," he dryly replies as he slumps back into a small wooden stool, shoulders dropped in defeat.

"Sorry. Sorry about that. It's just..." He half-heartedly points to a worn-looking white bandanna pinned to the wall just above the miniature refrigerator in the corner. "I used to be phenomenal. My name is Edogawa; I was a big deal back in Kanto, y'know?"

He reaches for the whisky bottle on the ground without getting up and shakes it in front of his eyes.

"Fell into ruin because of this. Even nowadays, any money I make off this miserable stall doesn't last me a day. So that's why I need you - and sober."

Finally, he gets back to his feet, reaches for the old bandanna and straps it around his head.

"I intend to get back into the culinary spotlight with my legendary dish! The greatest fried Farfetch'd recipe in the world - the Edogawa CLIMAX!*" he declares with sudden determination, punching the air in dramatic fashion. "Thing is, I... I need you to buy the ingredients. They ain't cheap, and I don't trust myself to spend the money where it needs to be spent, if you know what I mean."

With that, he grabs a dirty envelope tucked away on the small shelf beneath the counter and hands it to you.

"There's $3000 in there. I know where I'd be spending it tonight; that's why I need you to spend it *properly* instead. Go to the market at the end of the main street; I need you to buy me a handful of very spicy berries, a couple of sweet ones and, most importantly, a live, healthy Farfetch'd, best one you can grab from the lot on sale. That money oughta be enough."

As if sensing a need for reassurance, he finally adds...

"You stand to make a nice profit if we pull this off. You gotta trust me on this... 'cause you're really my only hope at this point. So... you in?"

You stare at the envelope in your hand, weighing your options. Helping out this weird fellow is definitely a choice, or you could try and milk a more solid deal out of him before hopping aboard. And then there's the other option: you've just been handed a clean $3000 in hard cash, after all...

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show
Alcoholism is no joke. Hugo couldn’t help but feel pity for the chef – now identified as Edogawa – upon hearing his story The man seemed like a pain, not really someone people would want to be around too much – but still, Hugo could sense the legitimate despair and disappointment in his voice. Alcohol had taken his dream and his sense of dignity from him, and here he was, reaching out to Hugo for help. $3000 was a lot of money, definitely too much to be trusting to who was relatively a total stranger. The whole situation reeked of booze and desperation. Hugo decided he would try and help the man out.

He took the envelope of cash from the man, eyeing him carefully.

“I will help you,” he said to Edogawa. “But I’m not going to do it for free. Fair is fair, right? We can come to a mutually agreed to price later. Consider the cash, and whatever I come back with, as collateral. But understand this. I don’t want to get into any funny business here, is that clear? I’ve already had my fair share of…unsavory activities in this town and the last thing I need is to draw more attention to myself.”

Tough talk coming from the guy who really hammed it up just a few minutes ago, but still, here we are.

“Whatever you’re planning to “pull off,” I want you to know that if things go sideways, you may be on your own here. Good? Good.”

Hugo headed off down the street, cash in hand.

“Berries and the duck…berries and the duck…” he repeated to himself so he wouldn’t forget.

Update 5:
Spoiler: show
You might not have expected things to turn into a (far)fetch quest, but here you are, $3000 of someone else's money in hand, and running errands for a drunkard.

Finding where to go turns out to be pretty easy: all you need to do is keep going along the main road, moving in the opposite direction of every passerby carrying bags of groceries. You do notice several small bars open for business on both sides of the road as you go along, validating Edogawa's point that distractions were plentiful for someone with his problem.

The local market is yet another marvelous tribute to Kantonian tradition. The smell of cooked food that filled the street is replaced with a mixture of different scents, from fresh fruits and vegetables to the more... unique odors. In fact, many people gather here to sell not just produce, but also live Pokemon from the region - a girl roughly your age displays three healthy-looking Kantonian Ponyta behind a small fence, while others have Pidgey, Bellsprout and the obligatory Magikarp for sale. You can't spot any Farfetch'd sellers right away, but the market is rather large and considerably crowded, so perhaps a walk around the place is in order.

"Excuse me? Kind sir? Yes, you! How would you like some genuine Rare Candies straight from Celadon City? Just $2000 each, guaranteed to pep up your precious Pokemon partners!"

"STEP RIGHT UP, STEP RIGHT UP, BEST OLD RODS STRAIGHT FROM CERULEAN! GUARANTEED TO CATCH NOTHING BUT MAGIKARP OF THE LOWEST LEVEL! IT'S THE GENUINE THING!"

"Slowpoke Tails! Slowpoke Tails! Slowp - no sir, they are not from Johto, it's a very common misconcep - wait, come back!"

"Fresh Berries! Oran, Pecha, Sitrus and many more! Come and see, try them for yourself!"

The last merchant you pass by finally says something worth your time. You stop, recalling your shopping list, then take a glance at the elderly woman's stall. There are rows of Berries, in a multitude or colors, shapes and patterns, each letting off a unique fragrance.

You take out your checklist to review what kind of flavours the chef requires for his Edogawa CLIMAX!, but before you can place your order, you hear a familiar voice coming from behind.

"My my, what a lovely collection of Berries you have, kind lady! Here, take this. I would like to buy... all of them."

The Galarian man from before stands proudly next to you, pretending to not even notice your presence. The triumphant smile he sports is evident even beneath his gentlemanly moustache.

"That's it, yes. In paper bags, naturally. One must be mindful of the environment, after all!"

Once the old lady finishes bagging every last one of her Berries, leaving the wooden baskets completely empty and her pockets completely full, she hands the haul to the Gentleman, who visibly struggles to hold everything but not once losing his pretentious smile and posture.

"Top of the morning to you," he adds with a polite nod, before shifting his gaze to you ever so briefly. "You get nothing. You lose. Good day sir."

With that, he starts walking away... What will you do now?

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show
Hugo was seething. How had this arrogant dandy usurped him and taken all the berries? Had he been following Hugo this whole time? Or worse, watching him while he had been conversing with Edogawa? He had said that it wouldn’t be the last they saw of him, yet for some reason, Hugo thought they had certainly had seen the last of him.

“Well,” Hugo said half to himself, half to the man, “I guess we hadn’t seen the last of you now, have we?”

Hugo could cut his losses now, he realized. He could take the money and run and no one would know the wiser. Or he could skulk back to Edogawa, give him his money back, and move on his merry way, finding peace in his conscience that he had at least tried to help the down-on-his-luck chef, but hey, some things just aren’t meant to be, right?

Or…

“No, I don’t think I lose, you THIEF!” Hugo shouted, raising his voice. “That’s right. You’re a thief. You think you’re so smart. So slick. You’ll just swoop in and buy all the berries. Well, you’re a thief and a coward. Put your goddamn money where your mouth is, you small, petty man. Get over yourself. The food – the Farfetch’d, and it WAS Farfetch’d – was good. You disagree? Well wait until you find out how unimportant and insignificant your opinion is. Get a life and stop going around, hassling all these people in the name of “culinary excellence.” We all know you’re trying to make up for your own sorry insecurities, taking out your own frustrations with yourself on these vendors, trying to grasp onto some semblance of superiority.”

Hugo was intentionally raising his voice and making another scene. This man had an ego and Hugo knew he could get out a rise out of him.

“So hand over the berries. I will reimburse you what paid for them and then you will go on your way and I won’t pummel you into the ground. And if you don’t, well then I’m going to have to take them from you.”

Hugo reached for one of the Pokeballs that hung from his waist, waiting for the next move.

Update 6:
Spoiler: show
You reason that the only way to revert the situation is to publicly embarass the man so badly he will have no choice but to stop and defend his honor. Even if you have to make yet another scene, which is becoming a little bit of a trend in your time here in Little Kanto.

"Have you no manners, young man?!" Suddenly yells a nearby vendor.

"That is no way to talk to your elders, you rabblerouser!" declared an old woman in the crowd, holding a shopping bag and looking disgusted by the aggressiveness of your words.

"If the gentleman paid for his Berries he's more than entitled to them!" Says another.

"Children these days have no education whatsoever! It's their parents' fault, obviously!" Adds yet another passerby.

The Galarian man does indeed stop, but when he turns to you he keeps smiling, emboldened by the impromptu public support.

"See, boy? You should know your place. I did nothing wrong, unlike that crook who has no respect for food. Why you aligned yourself with that scoundrel is beyond me, but as the most renowned food critic in Galar, I have sworn to uphold the values of culinary arts to my dying breath!"

He raises the berry bags as high as his frail muscles allow, in an act of provocation.

"You are nothing but a bully. Holding a PokeBall in your hand knowing mine are full to do the same. No doubt you're looking to assault me with some ravenous beast before I have time to defend myself! Shame, shame!"

Before you know it, several people in the market have gathered around you, many stepping in between the two of you with outstretched arms.

"You'd do well to get lost, punk. Before we call the cops on you," growls a middle-aged man in defiance. "Threatening a gentleman like that will get you in trouble around here. We might be foreigners in New Fizz, but we always respect our elders."

It seems your plan has backfired. Outnumbered and with the crowd rallying against you, you reason it's best to step away for now and gather your thoughts; something tells you that you'll be seeing the Galarian man again soon enough, but he's right there...

As you begin to backtrack, you happen to spot a tiny stall at the far corner of the precinct with four or five birds kept in a shoulder-high cage behind a young woman. Those are definitely Farfetch'd! The vendor seems completely oblivious to the commotion; in fact, she is staring blankly at nowhere in particular...

Would it be better to give up for now and head over to her stall and at least cut a deal for a bird, now that you missed out on the Berries? Or do you instead fight against the current and attempt to take the Berries from the Galarian man by force, despite the opposition of everyone involved?

Reply 6:
Spoiler: show
As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. Hugo tried to do something to benefit the people of this conclave, and was met only with being villainized. But no matter. If that’s how they wished to play this, so be it. Hugo raised his hands in surrender and slowly backed away.

“Fine, fine. Have it your way,” he announces to the crowd. “If those are the rules, those are the rules.”

He narrowed his focus on the food critic.

“But you said I hadn’t seen the last of you. But it’s YOU that hasn’t seen the last of ME! You’ll get what’s yours, sir. I assure you of that.”

Slowly, Hugo backed away from the crowd and eventually they dispersed. Instead, he stumbled upon the Farfetch’d vendor who seemed a bit oblivious to what was happening, but hey, under these circumstances, that was probably to Hugo’s benefit.

“Um, hello, miss,” Hugo said, trying to force politeness though he was still steamed from his interaction with the crowd. “Those are certainly some lovely birds you have there. They look very…”

Think of the right word, think of the right word.

“…feathery.”

Nailed it.

“I’ve been tasked with procuring a Farfetch’d for a friend. Well, not really a friend but more of a…well, a total stranger to be frank. But I told him I would give him a hand with something that seems very important to him. I’m not much of a Farfetch’d expert myself, but I was hoping perhaps you would be able to give me a hand…?”

And then…

Update 7:
Spoiler: show
The vendor seems completely oblivious to your presence for a long while after you address her. It isn't until a bit of a commotion starts up behind her that the woman snaps back to reality, spins around and yells.

"CUT IT OUT! NO, NOT "CUT", DON'T CUT! STOP IT!"

She hangs head in defeat then lumps her body over the counter, as if dead.

"Arceus take me. Please, make it end..."

It's only then she notices you standing right there, and immediately springs back up, clearing her throat.

"U-uh... Welcome!! We got the finest Farfetch'd in all of Little Kanto! All of Big Kanto too! Y'know, the other Kanto. The place. Best ones there too. But here!"

The woman is probably about your age, has light brown hair, wears large glasses and a red bandanna on her head. She sighs loudly and half-heartedly motions to the birds behind her with her head.

"How many you need? Please, take all of them. End my misery..."

She takes off her glasses and tries to clean them with the even dirtier apron she's wearing.

"Look, sorry, I know this is unprofessional. But they're driving me nuts! They're fighting all the bloody time, especially those two! They all smell, they're loud, their excrements are everywhere... heck, I don't even eat meat!"

Glancing over her shoulder, you spot the two birds she's referring to. A Kantonian Farfetch'd stands in a samurai pose, without twitching a muscle, holding its leek like a katana in its sheathe ready to be drawn; its gaze is fixed on a Galarian Farfetch'd standing across it, also in its own battle stance, in turn holding its larger leek like a zweihander. Six other Farfetch'd surround them, excitedly waiting for the epic clash, making a ruckus as they encourage the display of violence about to happen. The moment is tense, you can almost feel the bloodlust in the air...

"You get a leek for free for each bird you buy," suddenly interjects the woman, who swoops in to take the warriors' weapons from their grasp and casually places them on the counter, ruining the moment. "It's this crap I gotta deal with every day - please, buy either of them, I beg you!"

But suddenly, as if only then remembering she's running a business, she clears her throat again.

"$6000 each. Won't find cheaper in Little Kanto! Won't find more expensive either, but hey, monopoly!"

Well then...

Reply 7:
Spoiler: show
Hugo eyed the situation. Clearly this woman was in way over her head in trying to manage this gaggle of sword-wielding ducks. He needed to bring one back with him, that was for sure, especially after having been usurped on the needed berries. He didn’t see his Galarian nemesis nearby, but knew he needed to act swiftly should he be lurking. The asking price was high, though. $3,000 was all he had been given, and each Farfetch’d was double that. He would have to spend his own money, and was he really willing to do that for someone who was essentially a stranger? Not to mention that he would still need to get his hands on the berries…somehow.

Even so, Hugo thought he may have a little bit of bargaining leverage here. This vendor was practically begging Hugo to take these birds off her hands. It was evident that they were wearing her down with their quackery, so perhaps Hugo could seek to exploit that.

But which Farfetch’d did he need? Kantonian? Galarian? This was Little Kanto, based on Kanto, one would assume that it would be a Kantonian Farfetch’d. Then again, Galarian Farfetch’d were known for being more muscular…more meatier. Perhaps that would do better for what was needed? Hugo wasn’t sure.

“Well,” he said to the lady, “they certainly are a lively bunch, are they? It looks as though those two are about to tear this place down. How are you going to stop them?”

He paused for a moment, feigning pensiveness.

“You know, actually you may not need to. I would be happy to take them off your hand.

Both of them.

But for $6,000 total. A little buy-one-get-one, if you will. Your asking price is a bit steep and it’s pretty clear to me that these two have some…behavioral issues that need to be worked through. I will take them both of them, but you need to meet me halfway.”

And then….

Update 8:
Spoiler: show
The birdkeeper (well, maybe not "keeper", really) gives you a blank stare.

"... That's a complete rip-off and you know it. You're trying to take advantage of my predicament to force me into poverty, you monster!"

Just as she says it, the commotion behind her gets louder. Peeking over her shoulder, you see that the two Farfetch'd have starting brawling, the Kantonian form slashing away repeatedly with its katana-like leek, while the Galarian variant ripostes with violent swings of its big leafy plant.

Hay and feathers fly everywhere, and the woman starts sneezing uncontrollably.

"For that *achooo!* price I can only *achoo!" give up one of them or I *achooo!* won't make it to end of the *achooo!* month!"

Amidst her allergic storm of suffering, she musters the strength to bend her knees and nimbly grab each of the dueling ducks by the legs. Hoisting them high, one in each hand turned hopelessly upside down, she makes her final offer.

"One for *achooo!* $4500. Best I can *achooo!* do for you. So take your *achooo!* pick already!"

The two birds continue to try and slap one another with their wings even while upside down in the woman's grasp, flailing rather pathetically in their desperate attempt to settle whatever feud they have.

"By the way, I'm kinda curious, *achooo!* what are your acquaintance's plans for *achooo!* the stupid bird? It’s only gonna *achoo!* give ‘im trouble, as you can tell…"

As she poses the question, the two Farfetch'd stop struggling for a very brief moment... almost as if wanting to hear the answer too.

Well?...

Reply 8:
Spoiler: show
Suddenly, Hugo was overcome by a wave of guilt. He always knew that eating meat meant eating…well, something living. But he never really had to look his meals in the eye; he always chose to ignore that part. But now here, with these two feathery combatants staring at him…and with him knowing what his intention was…well, Hugo was having trouble coming to grips with that.

“Well, uh…I mean…he intends to…cook…them…”

Hugo could barely get the words out, feeling immediate regret as he said them. He realized it was time to do an about-face.

“Okay, look,” he said to the woman and the birds, “I can’t go through with this. I wanted to help this down-on-his-luck chef…I still want to help him…but I don’t think I can help him this way. And you…you seem to hate what you’re doing. You don’t even eat meat; you said so yourself. Let me help you too. I understand you need to make ends meet, but…I mean look at these two. Look at all of them. They’re alive. They want to live. Let me take this money back to Edogawa…I will help him some other way. And you…you need to let these birds go. They deserve to live…to fight…rather than to end up as someone’s lunch. I will help them. I will help you find something else to do…something more fulfilling. I know this all sounds crazy. I know you’ll say “there’s just no way” and that you don’t even care about these birds because they drive you crazy. But deep down…I think you do…otherwise you wouldn’t be a vegetarian.

Please. Let me help them. Let me help you. Let me help Edogawa. I don’t know how, but I just know that this is what I need to do.”

Update 9:
Spoiler: show
The birds' eyes widen as they hear of their intended fate. The woman doesn't look nearly as surprised - you reckon a large portion, if not all, of the birds she sells probably end up in a frying pan.

"I... I can't just let them go! Sure, I don't like them, but they're my livelihood! People pay well for this kind of Pokemon, it's not like I'm selling Pidgey. If they're gone..."

Suddenly, a voice speaks up from behind you. It sounds frail and tired, but friendly.

"I might be able to help..."

Turning around, you see the old woman whose entire Berry stock was purchased by the Galarian gentleman.

"Sorry, I was eavesdropping. You might not have any respect for your elders, young man, but it seems you're not all bad..." She turns to the Farfetch'd saleswoman and smiles. "That lovely gentleman bought everything I had. I think I might have more money than I know what to do with right now, but money won't help my back pain or plant new Berries to sell at the market for me. So your conversation had me wondering..."

As she listens, the girl drops the two Farfetch'd who, instead of resuming their battle, simply stand by listening to the exchange - likely keen to find out if they end up cooked or not.

"I could use someone young to help me plant and harvest the Berries I sell. With my whole stock gone it's going to be harder work than ever... Care to help me out, lass? I'll pay you for your troubles, and you won't have to be surrounded by feathers and excrements all day long. Well, there's still manure, but at least it's not bird droppings," she concludes with a coy smile.

"I-I... Well, I..." The girl stammers, eyes shifting from the Berry saleswoman to you and then to her birds. "I... That's too generous of you! Are you... absolutely sure?"

The elder nods almost immediately.

"If you'd like. You seem like an honest, hard-working girl... And these old bones can't farm at the pace they used to."

You can see the birdkeeper tear up for a brief moment, but she manages to hold it in at the last second and turns to you, clearing her throat.

"I don't really hate them, you know? They get on my nerves all the time, sure, but... every time I sell one, I wonder if I did the right thing. Even if they up in the hands of some famous chef... So you promise me," she says, unintentionally raising her voice at the end "promise me you won't chase after them. I'm letting them go... But you have to, too. I'm sorry about your chef friend, I am! But these are my conditions. It's the only way I can leave this stall with my conscience clean!"

With that, she takes off her apron and turns to her flock.

"You heard that, right? You're free to go. I... I hope you have a good life!" she says, voice trembling slightly. "It's... Well, it'll be a longer life than if you stayed, that's for sure. So... Well, get going! I want you to leave the market in an orderly queue, you hear that?!"

Almost in unison, the birds squawk in agreement, in an uncharacteristic display of obedience. One after another they fly up to the counter and leap down to the other side, each one landing in front of you and giving you a salute before marching in a straight line across the market. Bystanders look on in disbelief at the strange display, but none dares lay a finger on the newly-freed birds. Then, once they leave the market grounds, each of them clutches their leek in their beak and flies off towards their new life. The last to leave are the two rivals, who turn to look at you and the girl one last time with a grateful, if conflicted look, before going on their way...

You may have just done a mighty good deed, helping several lives in the process. And for your troubles, you are rewarded with zero Berries, and zero Farfetch'd.

With nothing left to do at the market, your only option seems to be returning to Edogawa empty-handed; maybe you can, in your own words, help him some other way, but it seems his Edogawa CLIMAX! masterpiece is nothing more than a pipe dream at this point.

Making your way back along the main street, you realize it's already dark. There are far fewer tourists than there were when you first left Edogawa's food stand, since many of the business venues have closed for the day... Were you in the market that long?

"Well well. Have you learned your lesson, insolent boy?"

The familiar voice makes your blood boil the second you hear it. Sure enough, up ahead is the Galarian gentleman, still dragging his sacks of Berries along the road, too proud to ask for help or simply leave them behind. And with how few people there are on the street at this hour, it's not like he could ask for help even if he wasn't being a self-important idiot.

"Culinary excellence - nay, culinary honesty - will never be erased by petty frauds like you and your Ducklett-cooking friend. That is why you return empty handed! Now run along child, it's almost past your bedtime!"

Well now.....

Reply 9:
Spoiler: show
In many things in life, there comes a point where one must do a cost-benefit analysis of the situation in which they are in. Here Hugo was presented with what certainly looked like a ripe opportunity. The old bastard – who for some reason keeps referring to Hugo as a child; senility, perhaps? - alone on a dark street, precariously dragging along that which he more or less stole from Hugo out of spite. On paper, it would seem very easy for Hugo to strongarm the guy, give him what he has coming, and get on his way.

Too easy.

Hugo was no Wile E. Coyote. He wasn’t going to be goaded into another trap. Every time Hugo tried to do something heretofore, he was undercut. He didn’t get the berries. And the Farfetch’d – while he was happy they were able to go free and in doing so, essentially sabotaged his own quest to help Edogawa anyway – he had nothing to show for it.

Was Hugo frustrated? Absolutely. But let’s consider how this could go. He tried to stand up to this guy previously, in the name of defending the innocent. What happened? The citizens revolted against Hugo. Sure they weren’t around now, or so it seemed, but if Hugo made a move on the guy, it could almost be guaranteed that the cops (who this guy probably has in his pocket) or someone else would leap from the shadows and Hugo would be on the receiving end of some frustrating twist of fate. No, no. Hugo wasn’t about to let this anvil fall on his head.

Hugo knew that in life the bad guys win. A lot. Probably more than the good guys do. And most of the time, they get away with their behavior with no repercussions whatsoever. This was probably one of those situations. Cynical? Sure. But that’s life, and that’s most likely what was going to happen here. Hugo had done a lot trying to help Edogawa, but some things just weren’t meant to be. Should he risk his skin any further to help someone he barely knew for a reward to be named later? The costs were outweighing the benefits.

“You win,” he said to the man, shrugging. “I don’t need this. I’m out of here.”

And he walked away.

Update 10:
Spoiler: show
Enough is enough, you say to yourself. Right from the start, you have been thwarted time and time again in your earnest attempts to help a Kantonian chef fallen from grace. How can something as simple as going grocery shopping on someone’s behalf else go so spectacularly wrong at every turn? If there’s any consolation to be had, it’s that you helped a young woman follow her dreams and a whole flock of Farfetch’d find their way to freedom. But Edogawa is no closer to recreating his legendary recipe, and you can’t seem to rid yourself of the single most obnoxious Galarian man you’ve ever met (perhaps the first?) no matter where you go.

So, you do the only rational thing you can at this point. You quit.

Congrats on finishing your adventure, I hope you had a terrible time!

“Yes indeed, run away like the fraud you are! I cannot wait to see you and that vile man begging on the streets for Ducklett leftovers in a hopefully-near future! Culinary justice will always pre- ugh!...”

A sudden loud thud cuts the man’s diatribe, followed by nothing more than complete silence. Though music to your ears, it is unquestionably curious. Part of you might hope he had a sudden stroke and bumped his head on the concrete floor, but as you turn around, you witness the next best thing.

“Faaar…”

The Galarian gentleman lies on the floor face down, knees bent as if in prayer, but in reality knocked out cold. On his head rests a big leafy stalk, held firmly by a black wing. A familiar-looking Galarian Farfetch’d looks straight at you with a nonchalant expression, not moving one inch from its spot!
The two heavy bags filled to the brim with berries, which the man had hoarded to prevent you from buying them, have been dropped to the ground, some of the precious fruits scattered all about. But as you move to grab them, Farfetch’d finally decides to move, blocking your path with its weapon!

“Fetch’d!”

It seems that, in return for defending your honor, the bird is now looking to collect – having been separated from its lifelong rival in their newfound freedom, it would appear Farfetch’d is in search of a new one. And in true knightly fashion, it won’t just let you swoop in and steal something that was – regardless of intentions – rightfully purchased: it’s time to prove your worth!

Reply 10:
Spoiler: show
FINALLY.

HALLELUJAH.

REJOICE.

You couldn’t describe Hugo’s feeling as anything short of total euphoric elation. The old loudmouth had finally shut the hell up, and had done so in a fairly violent and well-deserved manner. Hugo wanted to be the one to do it, but he need not risk his own hide once again in New Fizz City. So the sound of the Galarian Farfetch’d leak colliding with the man’s skull was music to Hugo’s ears. And the berries. Well, there they were, ripe for picking.

But not so fast. The Galarian Farfetch’d, as they were notoriously known, was a bird of honor, after all. While it was clear Farfetch’d realized the “gentleman” was a total blowhard, it was also not about to allow Hugo to simply collect on work he did not do. Hugo was apparently still going to have to prove himself, not to his constant foil, but to Farfetch’d himself.

Without saying a word, Hugo nodded in both understanding and as a sign of respect. “If that’s how this needs to be,” he thought to himself, “then so be it. It’s the least I can do, after all.”

He pondered for a moment, which partner should he choose? Farfetch’d of the Galar Region were quite different from their standard counterparts. Despite being a bird, they had shed their Flying-type for Fighting. Hugo had an idea.

He grabbed a Luxury Ball from his waist and released Zubat. The Poison-type emerged, fluttering skittishly about in the evening air. The Farfetch’d seem unmoved, only eyeing the bat as she flapped about.

“Okay,” Hugo said to his quacking opposition. “You want this? Then let’s do it.”

He took his position opposite the duck, Zubat between them.

“Zubat! Aerial Ace! And follow it up with Supersonic!”

Update 11:
Spoiler: show
Although you understand the bird's mindset as far as the battle itself is concerned, it is nevertheless strange that a Pokemon recently granted its freedom would willingly return to a human whose intentions involved ultimately cooking it. Still, the task at hand is simple and straightforward enough - if you want the Berries, to at least have something to give Edogawa, you're going to have to earn them.

You call out your Zubat, a fast and nimble Pokemon that might just be ideal to counter Farfetch'd and its more sluggish movements as well as counter its Type. The bird, however, remains unfazed at the sight of your choice of partner, firmly gripping its vegetable sword like a two-handed claymore. Its eyes narrow, and the battle is on!
Zubat strikes first, dive bombing towards the floor before making a sharp turn at the last second and speeding mere inches above the floor straight toward Farfetch'd, a difficult flight pattern more resembling a swallow than a bat. Owing to its swift nature, the move is supposedly unavoidable, but Farfetch'd eyes remain narrow and fixed on the incoming threat, allowing it to Detect the upwards strike that follows at the last second - in a rather impressive and anatomically improbable display of skill, the bird bends backwards, bridging its body as if it were a movie stunt, and Zubat flies past it, ever-so-narrowly missing the mark!

Farfetch'd attempts to capitalize on the surprise dodge to hold Zubat for a Brutal Swing, but by the time it regains its posture to perform the grab, your Pokemon has already flown out of range. The flightless bird can't follow, and Zubat retaliates with a high-pitched soundwave that induces a powerful migraine on Farfetch'd; its eyes glaze over and the warrior seems completely out of it...
Suddenly, before you can mount any sort of offense, something hits your Zubat from behind. You can barely see the move, but then you realize that's because it was air itself that struck your companion, razor-sharp like an invisible blade. But the author of that Air Cutter can't possibly have been Farfetch'd...

... except it can, just not the Galarian one you're battling!

Jumping into the fray with its katana-like leek in its mouth, the Kantonian variant you also set free - and bitter rival to your current opponent - looks to fight alongside its lifelong enemy! The smaller, quicker Farfetch'd looks at Zubat and then at you, greeting you with a challenging grin. But why? And what are you going to do now, in this unexpected 2-on-1 scenario?

Reply 11:
Spoiler: show
Hugo was a bit surprised to see the return of the Kantonian Farfetch’d as well. Despite what appeared to be on the surface a very bitter rivalry with no love lost, it seemed that the two birds harbored respect for one another, to the point of coming to each other’s defense. Knight and samurai, samurai and knight. They came from two different worlds, but at their heart, much of what they stood for was the same and it appears they have chosen to stand together in this.

While Hugo could respect their sense of honor, he still had berries to collect. So what was one more duck, at the end of the day? If he could go through one, he could go through two.

Zubat, of course, would not be able to handle both Farfetch’d on her own, however. While she carried certain advantages over the Galarian Farfetch’d, many of those dissipated in comparison to the Kantonian Farfetch’d. Hugo needed balance. What Zubat provided in terms of speed and evasiveness, Hugo decided he would need to make up for with pure, brute strength. With Zubat caught between the two ducks (one of which seeming a bit dazed thanks to Supersonic), he tossed a Pokeball in the center.

Croconaw emerged. The Water-type faced the Kantonian Farfetch’d, its head tilted downwards but its eyes locked on the bird. And the eyes hated. Zubat remained focused on the Galarian counterpart.

“So,” Hugo said, addressing the Kantonian Farfetch’d, “you want to be the hero. Well in that case, you’ll have to slay the beast.”

Croconaw, without moving, glanced its eyes toward its trainer.

“Do it.”

Without missing a beat, Croconaw slammed one foot on the ground and let out a ferocious roar, before immediately becoming engulfed in a white glow.



But it was Feraligatr that emerged. The beast snarled hungrily at the bird before him. The struggle between waterfowl and crocodilians continues.

“ZUBAT! Go after the Galarian one! Hit it with Wing Attack! Hit it with Zen Headbutt!”

“FERLIGATR! Take the other one! ICE FANG! IRON TAIL!”

Update 12:
Spoiler: show
Deciding to even the odds, and then some, you send out a ravenous Croconaw into the the field, which promptly removes the self-imposed lock on its potential to achieve its true form.

The Kantonian Farfetch'd glances sideways at its dazed companion, and in a somewhat unexpected display of selflessness, moves to position itself between its Galarian counterpart and the two foes before them. Zubat strikes first, the nimbler of your two Pokemon, but while it takes aim at the Confused enemy, the Kantonian samurai's positioning makes it impossible to land a direct hit. Instead, the Wing Attack is blocked expertly by an upwards swing of the katana-like Leek - an expert Aerial Ace even Zubat could stand to learn from - while the subsequent Zen Headbutt manages to hit, but once again the wrong Farfetch'd, who continues to shield its ally.

Feraligatr growls ominously; unlike Zubat it doesn't have to worry about the roadblock, because its target is the Kantonian Pokemon. Seeing it reel back from the bat's headbutt, the apex predator moves in for the kill. Surprisingly agile for its size, Feraligatr dashes toward the stunned Farfetch'd, fangs glowing white; Farfetch'd's superior Inner Focus allows it to regain composure at the last second, however, though all it can muster is to kick up a cloud of dust into the incoming beast's eyes. The haphazard Sand Attack proves invaluable, however, causing the temporarily blinded Water Type to narrowly miss its murderous bite! Still, a vicious swing of its iron-like tail sweeps the Kantonian Farfetch'd, striking it in the chest and sending it flying and crashing into the still-dazed Galarian variant.

Snapped out of its confusion from the sudden impact, the black-feather knight rises to its feet and stares in disbelief at the fainted rival at its feet. Quickly putting two and two together, a flame of revenge ignites in its eyes. Its body becomes engulfed in harsh light and, as if cloaked in divine light, it suddenly dashes straight at Feraligatr, the surprise Sky Attack hitting the much larger foe and dealing critical damage! Still, even the almighty blow fueled by rage isn't enough to knock out the fundamentally much stronger Water-Type, and the gasping Galarian Farfetch'd is still left facing two opponents in the end.

Enjoy overwhelmingly favourable odds now, what will you do? Is it time for the coup de grâce?

Reply 12:
Spoiler: show
”We don’t have to do this!” Hugo yelled to his quacky opponent. “YIELD!”

He knew that would get him nowhere, however. The duck duo were rooted in principle; there would be no giving up. Hugo would have to go through them. And he knew that’s how they wanted it anyway.

They were proving to be a formidable pair, though. Despite Zubat’s speed and Feraligatr’s power, they were managing parry each blow as best as they could. Were they not both such deft combatants, Hugo would have made quick work of them. But it was evident that their time training together – and against – one another had created a strong chemistry between them. Their battling styles complemented each other very well. Perhaps he could get one of them (or both…) to join his side when all was said and done.

But all complimenting aside, Hugo was in this to win it at this point. He was certainly grateful to have the old bastard silenced, but he was not going to let this opportunity slip through his fingers.

He stared down the Galarian Farfetch’d. He had landed a substantial Sky Attack on Feraligatr, but he seemed to be getting a bit gassed. Two-on-one was never easy, even for the most skilled warriors.

“Have it your way, then,” Hugo announced. “Zubat, go after it with Brave Bird and then recover with Roost!”

Feraligatr stood by, waiting for his command almost motionless, in that really creepy way that alligators do right before they launch for the attack.

“Feraligatr, power up with Dragon Dance and then bring down the Waterfall!”

Update 13:
Spoiler: show
With one of the Farfetch'd down and out after its valiant display of teamwork, only the Galarian specimen remained standing, although barely so. It leans heavily against its leek, short of breath and legs trembling, but refuses to stand down. Obliging it, Feraligatr loosens its muscles in a dance-like motion before lunging forward surrounded by raging waters, while Zubat takes inspiration from the actual bird in front of it (even though it's blind) and homes in on Farfetch'd enveloped in wind energy.

Unable to walk, let alone dodge, the knightly Pokemon has no choice but to take both attacks head-on simultaneously. An explosion follows, it always does, and when the smoke settles the bird is completely motionless on the ground, lying atop its previously-defeated rival-turned-partner.

*Feraligatr gained 1 Level!*
*Zubat gained 4 Levels!*

You're glad it's the dead of night, or else all that commotion would've drawn a crowd no doubt. Before you an move in to grab the Berry bag, however, and as if on cue, a familiar voice calls out to you.

"Oi oi! Buddy! Took ya long enough!" His speech is slurred, but well before he comes into view, you can tell it's Edogawa. When he finally draws close enough for you to take a proper look, you notice he's stumbling a bit. "Look at that! Ya work slow as hell, but I can't deny you get results - a whole sack of Berries and two juicy-lookin' Farfetch'd! Even knocked out that pompous Galarian bastard on his ass too!"

He passes right next to you, almost bumping into you as he does, and you can smell the scent of alcohol quite easily. Edogawa leans over the two birds, sizing them up and looking quite pleased.

"Finally, my Edogawa CLIMAX! can be recreated and my honor restored! Ya did good, uh, Fred. I guess you can 'ave a couple berries from the bag as payment, but don't get greedy on me."

Was this the agreement?... What will you do?

Reply 13:
Spoiler: show
Hugo was having second thoughts about…well, everything. He had initially wanted to help Edogawa, who he felt had hit some hard times but deep down, had the right intentions. Now, not so much. Alcoholism was a disease; that much Hugo knew for sure. But that doesn’t give alcoholics free reign to be asses to the rest of us. Actions do have consequences. Edogawa claimed this was going to restore his honor…but how, exactly? He makes food people want to eat, but then immediately eliminates any goodwill he developed with more drunken nonsense? And besides, as much as Hugo hated the food critic, taking the berries from him was stealing; there was no other way to phrase it. And where exactly is the honor in that?

And at what cost would it come? Of everyone involved in this tangled mess of a situation, only the Farfetch’d seemed to have any shred of humanity (ironic, no?) that deserved Hugo’s help. Handing them over to Edogawa was certain death. They didn’t deserve that, certainly not for Edogawa or for the food critic, and he had promised to help get them out of this meat market. Besides, they came back to help him; could he really just leave them now?

“Mr. Edogawa, I’m sorry, but this business relationship we have going on here, it’s just not going to work out,” Hugo said, his voice full of disdain. “The berries are there. Sure. You’re right. But I didn’t buy them. He did.” Hugo gestured vaguely at the critic, still unconscious probably. “Taking them now would be theft,” he said, emphasizing the last word just a bit louder in case anyone was nearby to hear. “I haven’t touched them. And I’m not going to touch them. I’m not your mule. If you want them, you can steal them yourself.”

He looked back at the Farfetch’d pile.

“As for the birds, well, they’re already criminals.” This was true; they assaulted the Galarian, unprovoked. Hugo had not asked them to, so technically he was not responsible for their actions. “They beat this man into the ground, and I need to see that they get what they deserve. Consider this a citizen’s arrest. The birds are and will remain in my custody. You can try and take them…”

Zubat let out an ear-piercing screech. Feraligatr glared at the cook, licking his crocodilian lips hungrily. Right on cue.

“…but I wouldn’t, if I were you.”

Hugo positioned himself and his Pokemon, shielding the Farfetch’d from Edogawa.

“I genuinely am sorry that I couldn’t help you, Edogawa. But the help that you need is much greater than what I can provide. I hope you someday you get it, but I’m not going to let anyone else get hurt.”

He took the pouch containing the money that Edogawa had given him and tossed it back at the man’s feet.

“Now you need to leave.”

Update 14:
Spoiler: show
Hearing your intentions, Edogawa stares at you in silence for a long while, the sake likely making it harder to process the information at normal speed. Once it seems to register, his expression changes into one of pure anger.

"You... filthy traitor! These birds are the key to my redemption! I will cook them into the most magnificent Kantonian dish anyone has ever tasted... You can't take this away from me! Not now! We had a deal!!"

He almost trips as he turns around to face you directly, pointing an accusatory finger in your general direction.

"You're a monster! Laying the Farfetch'd and the berries at my feet only to deny them at the last second! You... you wanna laugh at my expense too, don't you? Just like that food critic! I... I won't be laughed at anymore! One dish... THIS dish! It's all I need to get out of this vicious cycle, and you know that!"

He frantically searches within the confines of his traditional Kantonian robe, and retrieves two red and white spheres from inside; however, he fumbles the toss, and once the creatures emerge from their Balls, they almost crush him under their weight. A Snorlax and Muk stare you down, the declaration of war now abundantly clear.

"I'm sorry, uh, Ben, I liked you an' all. But I need this breakthrough! Just enough money to get back on my feet and drop the devil's drink - you growin' a goddamn conscience at the last second ain't gonna keep me from my dream!"

You doubt Edogawa is in much of a state to form a cohesive battle strategy at this point, but even acting mostly of their own accord, you can tell both of his Pokemon are going to be a considerable hurdle if you decide to engage them...

What now?!

Reply 14:
Spoiler: show
Hugo really needed to work on making friends. Or being a better judge of character. Actually, both.

Edogawa was pretty inebriated at this point, as he made abundantly clear. But Hugo didn’t know if that intensified or neutralized his threat level. Sure, it may hinder his ability to form a coherent strategy, but it can also just make him more reckless and dangerous. Especially considering he had unleashed two fairly powerful Pokemon in his defense.

Through Hugo’s experiences with his own Muk, as well as what he knew about Snorlaxes, both were known for being bulky but also for their fairly diverse movepool. Hugo would have to hit them hard, but also be prepared for any number of counterattacks they could retaliate with. Feraligatr could match either of them, but Zubat? She was fast, but much smaller in comparison. Could she fare against them? Well, I guess we would find out. Her aggressive fluttering and hissing toward the opposition made it very clear that she was not intending to sit this one out. Feraligatr, meanwhile, stared down the Snorlax with hunger in his eyes. So. Much. Meat.

“Alright then,” Hugo said to Edogawa, his voice barely above a whisper. “I guess we’re going to have to do this the hard way.”

“Zubat! The Muk! Hit with Aerial Ace! Hit it with Zen Headbutt! But BE CAREFUL! It can use Electric and Ice and Rock attacks! Hit and then get the hell out of there!

Feraligatr, take the Snorlax! Hit it with another Iron Tail! Go for the head with Crunch!”

Update 15:
Spoiler: show
Edogawa stands across the dimly lit street from you, four Pokemon standing in between. Regardless of how capable he might be to battle adequately, you know he must be no joke if, in his rare moments of sobriety, he was capable of raising both a Snorlax and a Muk.

Zubat, the fastest of the group, moves first; despite its lack of eyesight, it can move adeptly in the night guided by sounds. As a result, it maneuvers adeptly across the air, going for the same move it had already used against Farfetch'd with little difficulty! The bat slams into Edogawa's Muk... and vanishes from sight, engulfed completely by the massive pile of living sludge.

"Bahahah! I usually feed it the rotten leftovers of anything I couldn't sell at the stall, so imagine how hungry it must be for fresh food!"

Muk doesn't look the least bit fazed by the Zubat's intrusion; you wonder if it even noticed. But it must have - because moments later, it discharges a violent Thunder upwards. Once it slithers slowly out of the way, Zubat's unconscious body can be seen lying on the floor, smoke rising from it... The vicious electrical attack, combined with the previous damage from Brave Bird and the fatigue from the earlier fight with the Farfetch'd were too much to endure altogether.

Feraligatr, in turn, is entirely focused on the gargantuan Snorlax in front of it. Fearlessly - hungrily even - the predator dashes forward, striking its opponent with a hardened tail across the rotund belly. Snorlax is forced back a few steps, but something tells your its fat must have softened the blow somewhat.
Looking to keep up its momentum, Feraligatr aims straight for the head as if looking to decapitate the opponent right there, maw wide open for a close range Crunch. Snorlax, however, doesn't remain idle for long, holding the Water-Type's jaws open with its bare hands, inches away from its face. Then, using its overpowering Strength, it lifts Feraligatr and tosses it overhead, your companion's back hitting the concrete floor hard.

"Bahaha, a Trainer getting his ass kicked by a chef! Come on Greg, it isn't too late to give up and just give me the birds!"

Despite not issuing a single order to either of his Pokemon, it's clear Edogawa has raised them very well. Feraligatr is still raring to go, but unless you have another partner on standby, the number's game is in your opponent's favor now. Is this how the Farfetch'd felt when it tried to fend off your two Pokemon all by itself?...

Reply 15:
Spoiler: show
Not an overly surprising outcome. Zubat, despite her eagerness to keep up the fight, simply was not powerful enough to try and take on the Muk by herself. She fought valiantly, but she need to rest. Hugo recalled her to her Pokeball.

Fortunately, he had a backup plan. He pulled a ball and released Tyrunt. The Royal Heir Pokemon quickly surveyed the situation and let out a fierce, but relatively high-pitched roar. He was just a child after all.

“Alright, Tyrunt, read to fight?!” Hugo asked.

The dinosaur looked over its undersized shoulder back at its trainer, and shook its head with a resounding “No.”

“What?! What do you mean “no”?! I really need your help here.”

Tyrunt glared back at his trainer, giving him a look that said “you know what you need to do.” Hugo took the hint.

“That? Look, man. We don’t have time for that right now, but I promise we can do it lat—”

The Tyrunt snarled at Hugo, as if to say “just do it.”

“Alright, fine! If that’s what it’s going to take, I’ll just do it, damn it.”

Hugo cleared his throat. And then softly began to sing this song, getting louder as the notes became more dramatic.

Tyrunt cheered happily. This was his psyche up music. He noticed a puddle nearby left over from Feraligatr’s Waterfall. He stomped his foot on the ground, but the water didn’t ripple. He stomped again, still nothing. Frutstrated, he stomped a third time, and it shook…boy, did it ever. Because much like had happened with Feraligatr, the excitement triggered something in Tyrunt…




So much so that Tyrunt evolved into Tyrantrum!

The newly evolved Despot Pokemon let out a terrifying roar, causing even Hugo to jump in startle. Meanwhile, on the other side, Feraligatr rose to his feet, energized by the evolution of his longtime rival and friend, positioning Muk and Snorlax between the two reptiles.

Internally, Hugo rejoiced.

“Let’s do this! Feraligatr, another Waterfall on Snorlax! Tyrantrum, go for Muk with Psychic Fangs!”

Update 16:
Spoiler: show
To say you managed to event he odds would be an understatement. Spurred on by Feraligatr's own evolution, Tyrunt achieves its gargantuan final form as well, which in turn ignites the alligator's spirit to stand back up and continue the fight. Even Edogawa, in his drunken state, seems shaken by the sudden tilting of the odds, but after throwing the two Farfetch'd another side-eyed look, he decides not to stand down.

"Bah, you're all flash!"

Deciding to prove the opposite, Tyrantrum marches toward Muk, each step making the ground beneath its clawed feet tremble, crakcs appearing on the concrete as it goes. Sword-sized fangs glowing with violet energy, the prehistoric king snaps his jaws around Muk's body, gnawign away viciously and causing the Poison-Type to almost dissolve into a hundred particles, before coalescing back together with a pained look on its... "face". Where Tyrantrum ripped away part of Muk's sludge body, however, a cloud of sickening Poison Gas begins to emanate, and even the mighty Dragon winces as he inhales it. Tyrantrum is Poisoned!

"Hah, there ya go! Drench that lizard!"

As if on cue, Muk spits out a shower of violet droplets into the air, which rain down on Tyrantrum - you immediately recognize the technique as Venom Drench, realizing what it means...

Meanwhile, Feraligatr and Snorlax continue their evenly-matched struggle; the large bear attempts to grab the Water-Type for another Strength, but your companion hits it square in the chest with a powerful water-covered charge, causing Snorlax to flinch. Despite the violence of the hit, the Normal-Type doesn't lose its footing, instead reeling back from the blow but immediately tilting back forward and using its momentum to land a bone-crunching Iron Head that almost knocks Feraligatr off of its own feet! The two fighters seem to match one another perfectly power-wise, but fatigue is starting to set in on both sides...

What will you do now?

Reply 16:
Spoiler: show
Hugo’s Tooth Brigade was holding their own against Edogawa’s Muk and Snorlax, but the battle raged on and both lizards were being to show wear. While Feraligatr suffered some direct hits from the powerful Snorlax, Tyrantrum was being worn down through poison and stat reductions.

Though Feraligatr was able to go toe-to-toe with the Snorlax, the bulkiness of the opposing Pokemon made it challenging for Hugo to find a weak point. He was confident that Feraligatr would be able to overpower Snorlax; the question was how though. Hugo racked his brain. He needed to utilize Feraligatr’s natural, evolutionary instincts. When crocodilians go in for the kill what is it that they do? They do the “gator roll.” Okay, now we’re thinking. And Feraligatr had taken some nasty hits from the Snorlax already, plus he had gone through the battle with the Farfetch’d so his HP was teetering. Ah ha! It all seems so clear now.

“Feraligatr, use Flail!”

As for Tyrantrum, the clock was ticking. If Muk didn’t take him down on his own accord soon, the poisoning certainly would. The urgency was upon them, but the Venom Drench had wreaked havoc on his ability to attack. Unlike Feraligatr, Tyrantrum wasn’t able to rely on Swords Dance or Dragon Dance to bring him back to the baseline. So if you can’t get back up, why not bring your opponent down?

“Tyrantrum, use Tail Whip!”

Arguably the most frustrating part of all of this was that Edogawa didn’t even have to do anything here. He could retire to his own drunken stupor while letting his Pokemon handle the fight on their own. That irritated Hugo greatly. Not to mention that all of this started because Edogawa had sent Hugo on a wild goose chase. Why exactly couldn’t Edogawa have gathered these ingredients himself? Perhaps the reason Edogawa was never able to get the help he needed was because he somehow was always getting everyone else to do the work for him, allowing him to drink and slack off. Enabling the behavior, really. Well, Hugo had enough of that. He wanted to put an end to this. And he wanted to do it now. Time to go all out. Overwhelm the opposition.

“CORNER THEM! GIVE THEM ALL YOU’VE GOT! FERALIGATR, THRASH! TYRANTRUM, THRASH!”

Update 17:
Spoiler: show
Despite Edogawa's state, his Pokemon still provide a formidable challenge. More importantly, this isn't simply a friendly sparring match - the lives of two Farfetch'd are on the line, and while the prospect didn't seem too terrible at first, given how badly you wanted to help out the chef, that idea is now intolerable. Not only have you formed some sort of bond with the birds after releasing them from captivity, Edogawa himself proved incapable of holding on to his resolve, giving in to his inner demons once more despite your efforts to help him get back on his feet. Simply put... he doesn't deserve it.

The fight has been dragging on for a while, especially for Feraligatr - who had to fight the Farfetch'd duo before engaging Edogawa's Snorlax. Fatigue has started to set in, but you realize you can use it to your advantage! At your command, the Water-Type lunges at Snorlax, flailing about with his clawed arms, striking seemingly at random but easily connecting against the bear's ample frame. Fueled by a burning fighting spirit that only grew more intense under the hardships of the back-to-back battles, Feraligatr pummels Snorlax mercilessly, the latter much too slow to block or dodge the incoming strikes!

Meanwhile, Tyrantrum, stumbling slightly due to the nauseating effects of the poison running through his veins as well as the venom shower's debilitating effects, attempts to even the odds somewhat. Cracking it like a whip, Tyrantrum snaps his massive tail in the air, causing Muk to instinctively flinch at the sound. But is it enough to balance the scales?...

"Ya think... Ya think that is enough to... Ugh!"

Suddenly, a loud thump is heard, and Edogawa falls silent. Looking in his direction, you see the Galarian gentleman, who had himself been knocked out up until moments ago, holding on to the Berry bag and standing over the unconscious chef.

"Well, he was becoming quite insufferable," the food critic says with a coy smile, even if he is visibly struggling to catch his breath after swinging the heavy bag. "Go on, do finish the job!"

As if on cue, Feraligatr and Tyrantrum join forces, rushing at the opponents simultaneously and unleashing a violent barrage of strikes with their claws, tails and fangs, in a terrifying display of power. When their rage subsides, Snorlax and Muk lay on the ground motionless, trampled by the draconic pair and completely out cold, much like their Trainer!

*Tyrantrum gained 4 Levels!*
*Feraligatr gained 4 Levels!*

The Galarian gentleman looks at the battlefield, then at you. He nods rigidly, but clearly enough that you can see it even in the faint light of the breaking dawn.

"I... suppose you saw reason at the last moment. Or, should I say... you saw this man for what he truly is - beyond redemption." The food critic clears his throat, noticeably choosing his words carefully. "I believe... hm, yes, a sort of apology might be in order. I might have... misinterpreted your intentions. Am I right to assume that, rather than the culinary fraud, it was the hopeless drunkard you intended to aid? If so, I... suppose that is commendable. Pity - if he'd been able to break away from his vice, with your help, he... well I dare say he might have become a decent Kantonian chef."

He finally stops talking, thank Arceus, and points to the two birds only now beginning to regain consciousness.

"I believe you are not done with them. For the sake of chivalry, I will remove myself from the premises and ignore the barbarian act of violence they inflicted upon me." He bows respectfully and begins to walk away, dragging the Berry bag with visible difficulty. "I suppose I should return these, too."

As he ever-so-slowly walks away, you turn your attention to the Farfetch'd. Their attention is not on you, however, but instead one another. Leeks raised high, their eyes sparkle with fighting spirit, and perhaps a hint of resentment toward one another - their brief companionship over, they now seem to blame one another for their collective loss against you, and are more than ready to let their weapons speak for themselves.

Will you intervene?

Reply 17:
Spoiler: show
Well, that certainly was an unexpected turn events. Going into this, Hugo never would have thought that he would have been fighting with Edogawa and siding with the obnoxious critic. Okay, well, fighting with Edogawa wasn’t that surprising. Despite Hugo’s wish to help him, it turns out that the alcohol wasn’t making him a bad person; he was a bad person to begin with, the alcohol simply exacerbating the issue. But Hugo never would have thought he would be defending – and being defended by – the overly verbose Galarian. But that’s what makes life interesting, right? No person is all good or all bad, and we’re certainly not always who we appear to be at first.

But with that out of the way, Hugo still had the dueling ducks to deal with. Despite their begrudged respect for each other that they had demonstrated in their interactions with the non-Hugo humans, they were back at each other’s throats. It was clear to Hugo that this would go on in perpetuity until one – or both – of them was dead. That is, if they were left to their own devices. Hugo promised the Farfetch’d dealer that he wouldn’t go after the birds, but the birds came back to him. He couldn’t take them both with him; they would continue to try to tear each other apart, and generally just be a huge pain in Hugo’s ass. He would need to separate them.

Gingerly, he stepped over Edogawa, still snoozing soundly next to his likewise-unconscious lard monster and pile of sludge. Feraligatr and Tyrantrum followed. The lizards were exhausted, but could still hang in there for a bit if needed. Truthfully, Hugo planned to use them only for emphasis.

They approached the Farfetch’d duo, who barely noticed them. That is until Tyrantrum let out a fiercesome roar. That got their attention.

“Alright, listen up,” Hugo said. “This needs to stop. Whatever it is between you two that is driving you to act like this, you need to move past it. But it doesn’t seem like that’s something you’re going to be capable of handling on your own. So, that’s where I come in. You’re both fierce competitors. I could certainly use one of you on my team. But only one of you, because I don’t have time to be washing the blood off leeks and feathers regularly. Whoever comes with us can expect a lot of adventures and training, refining our craft to be the very best (like no one ever was). Whichever does not come, I am more than confident that you will be to hold your own place in the world, just as you have so far.

So, which of you will it be?”

Update 18:
Spoiler: show
The bickering duo stops as soon as Tyrantrum lets out its mighty roar, senses on high alert. But as it turns out, all you require is their attention for a brief moment.

The birds listen intently, and when you finish, they are clearly left conflicted. Sure, they owe you their freedom, but stepping in to help against Edogawa was their way of returning the favor. Other than that, fighting one another in the back of that stall at the market was the only life they'd ever known - your offer only extends to one of them, and tempting as it sounds, it means turning their back pon their lifelong rivalry. Fact is, despite their apparent hatred towards one another, neither has ever seriously injured the other so far, indicating this may simply be a case of constant, unrelenting oneupsmanship rather than genuine mutual ill will.

And so, both hesitate. Fighting is in their blood, and they've seen firsthand what you can do. They seem to understand how much stronger they can become under your tutelage, but something is holding them back - is it worth joining a powerful Trainer and become stronger if that means leaving behind the only adversary you truly want to surpass?

The Farfetch'd exchange a glance, and after a moment, they nod. And then... both take a step forward at the same time! They hold out their leeks in your direction, presenting their counter-offer. Either you train them both, accepting to bring their unending rivalry and all it entails into your team, or neither will join you.

And with that, what will it be?

Reply 18:
Spoiler: show
A begrudging respect, after all. Hugo could not necessarily say he was surprised. The only way to sharpen steel is with steel, and apparently the Farfetch’d realized that if they ever wished to really maximize their battling capabilities in their eyes, they needed the other around to push them there. Yin and yang. Opposites, but part of the same whole.

So while it was Hugo who had presented them with a choice, it was he who must be the one to make a decision. Not only did he question where it was worth it, but more importantly, could he even do it? He lived an adventurous life, constantly being thrown in increasingly more complicated situations. Would he still be able to do while simultaneously dealing with two squabbling birds at every turn? Would they become more liability than asset?

Then again, if he couldn’t handle it, what kind of trainer would that make him? Sure, they were hot-headed, but had he not dealt with worse? Rhyperior, Gyarados, and of course the two hulking reptiles standing right behind him just to name a few. That’s what this was all about. If he could handle the others, he could handle the Farfetch’d. And if not? He may as well not even be in the game.

And besides, how could you argue against having both of these birds at your side? They appeared to be just, driven, and loyal. Could you ask for better characteristics in a war partner?

Hugo realized he had made his decision.

“Well,” he said addressing the ducks with a smile, “I guess I choose violence.”

He reached into his bag and pulled out a Flying Ball and – in lieu of a Fighting Ball – a Timer Ball. He tossed them gently toward the Farfetch’d; Flying Ball toward the Kantonian, Timer Ball toward the Galarian.

And then he waited.

Update 19 Finisher:
Spoiler: show
At the end of the day, this is a rare opportunity even for seasoned Trainers. As such, despite their constant animosity towards one another, you decide to go ahead with the counter-offer.

Neither Farfetch'd flinched as their respective Balls snapped open, pulling them inside. And three mild shakes later, each device clicked shut precisely at the same time.

*Congratulations! You caught a Level 10 Male Kantonian Farfetch'd and a Level 10 Male Galarian Farfetch'd!*

You retrieve both Balls, only to immediately hear a familiar voice coming from a few feet away.

"Oh... Ooohhh, it hurts so much..."

You glance over your shoulder. Edogawa appears to have regained his senses, in more ways than one, and is clutching his head where the Galarian gentleman struck him.

"Ooh, this is the worst... The hell am I doing out here?!"

Saying you feel sorry for him, after what he put you through, might be a bit of a stretch - who's to say how you feel about the man other than yourself? - but there is definitely something to be said about how quick he is to sober up. Must be used to it by now, after all... Still, the combined headache from the blow and the hangover must be monstrous, in any case.

"Oh, you're here too? And what's with that look, anyway? Don't just stand there, help a man up will you?!"

It's only then that the truth of the situation appears to dawn on him. You see him looking around, first at your Tyrantrum and Feraligatr, then at the fainted Snorlax and Muk, before sighing loudly.

"... I messed up again, didn't I? Out on the street in the middle of the night, flat on my ass and my head feeling like it's about to split open..." Edogawa looks at you, utterly dejected. "Don't bother saying anything. I can put two and two together, and listening to someone else would only make my headache worse."

Edogawa takes off his apron and drops it on the ground.

"I'm done. I... I gotta get my head straight. Can't keep calling myself a chef as long as I can't even get my act together." He sounds honest, even if you still have your doubts. "Listen kid... I might need help. Not sure Little Kanto's where I'll find it, but hopefully somewhere else in New Fizz. And I guess what I wanna say is... I'd like to see you again. You went the extra mile for me and I screwed up. Still... In a year's time, think you could come back? I'd like to see you then - and you can tell me yourself whether you think I changed or not."

He walks - or rather, stumbles - his way over to you and holds out his hand... Only to pull it back in immediately afterwards.

"... No. Handshakes are for friends, for equals, right?" Instead, he takes a step back and bows, cursing under his breath as the motion is enough to make him sick. "I'm so sorry. But I'll turn things around - you have my word. So... come see me again, if you have time."
With that, he recalls his companions and walks away, leaving you with just your Pokemon as the sun begins to rise over New Fizz City. This chapter of your journey is over - but who knows if your path will ever lead you back here?



*Your adventure is now over! Hope you enjoyed it. Looking forward to updating you again in the future!*

Reply 19 Transition to Neon East:
Spoiler: show
Despite the frustrations experienced in Little Kanto, Hugo ultimately considered it a success. Looking back, he had actually accomplished quite a lot. He assisted the Farfetch’d saleslady follow her dreams, he freed a flock of ducks on the block for slaughter, he helped the Galarian food critic learn not to be quite such a jackass all the time, and, perhaps most of all, he hopefully put Edogawa on the path to getting healthy. Hugo believed Edogawa when he told Hugo he realized the error of his ways, and was optimistic he would get himself healthy.

Hugo would see him again someday.

And of course, Hugo came away from his excursion with not one but two new partners; two Farfetch’d he affectionately referred to as the Knight and the Samurai. Lifelong rivals they had been, and so they shall remain. That is, if they didn’t drive Hugo completely off his rocker with their feathery squabbling first.

Despite having only been in Little Kanto for a relatively short period of time, it left Hugo exhausted. He took a room in a nearby New Fizz hotel and crashed hard. He woke later (Hours? Days? He wasn’t really sure), but despite having slept deeply, he didn’t feel rested. Hugo had gone through quite a lot in recent months whether it was here in New Fizz, the Arboreal Cradle, even taking up shop at the Evenfall Academy Gym – where he knew he would have to return soon enough. He was a bit burnt out, to say the least. He went to Little Kanto to relax, but there wasn’t too much of that to be found. He decided then and there to really just play the tourist and experience New Fizz as it was advertised. He wanted to have some fun.

He had heard much about the Sparkling Strip. The bright lights, the parties. Hugo wanted to lose himself for a little bit, and this seemed like the perfect place. So he cleaned himself up – it had felt like days since he had showered – put on his party clothes and headed toward the strip. Pokemon weren’t seen too often without having an “in” with the VIPs or so they say, but Hugo brought his Pokeballs along with him anyway.


Just in case.

Update 20:
Spoiler: show
Little Kanto left you exhausted, despite your initial expectations. You need to unwind, which is only fair, and so your next destination becomes almost obvious.

Before you, a sprawling district filled to the brim with leisure spots spreads in all directions. People stroll around with happy, carefree looks on their faces, and you just know you made the right choice in coming here!

You've geard there is just as much excitement happening underground as on the surface, and you feel you're almost spoiled for choice. As if sensing your newcomer status, however, a woman's voice speaks to you from behind.

"Good evening sir!" You turn to see a lady in her forties with a dark blue uniform adorned with a light blue shooting star pin on her jacket, along with a name tag that reads "Clarice". Come to think of it, you did spot a couple other people walking around with the very same outfit. "You seem to be a bit lost. Could I perhaps interest you in some of our more popular activities?"

She smiles warmly and hands you a brochure, containing a map of the Strip and highlighting some of the venues.

"We get a lot of newcomers, so if you're ever lost, feel free to approach any one of my colleagues around on the streets; we're all here to help guide you to the best possible experience! So, let's get started."

Clarice points to the map she gave you.

"After dusk is when Sparkling Strip starts to come to life, even if the real fun doesn't begin for a few more hours. I'm of course talking about the unforgettable parties that take place in the underground level of many of our esteemed establishments. But to kill time until then, I would suggest you either go for one of the world-famous cocktails at Hard Regirock Café over here, or flirt with lady luck at Jirachi's Casino over... here," she concludes with a smile.

So, will you check either establishment for now, or go explore Sparkling Strip on your own?

Reply 20:
Spoiler: show
”Hello Clarice,” purred Hugo in his best Hannibal Lecter voice. Did Silence of the Lambs exist in this universe? Hugo turned to the camera and shrugged. Wait, what camera?

Hugo cleared his throat. “Well, yes! Hello! Thank you! I must really look lost, don’t I? There certainly is a lot going on, though so thank you for trying to point this old cowpoke in the right direction, partner!”

Blank stares. Internally, Hugo screamed. He screamed inside his heart, to be precise. A very odd person, was Hugo. Some days he could be calculating and brutal, some days a literal clown.


“Anyway, those are seem pretty intriguing options you’ve laid out here. The casino…that certainly has some appeal...”

And it did; in reality, Hugo never felt like much of a gambler, at least not when it came to money. ”You work too hard to blow all your money on those damn lottery scratch offs!" his grandfather used to say to him. Strangely, he would say it to Hugo when he was a child, and had no job, money, or scratch offs. Even so, Hugo carried the lesson with him even now. Maybe his grandfather knew something Hugo didn’t.

“..but the Café has quite the reputation as well. And to be honest, I could use a drink.”

Hugo had always seen people wearing those “Hard Regirock Café” t-shirts all throughout Fizzytopia. They were wildly popular, at least for a time, and Hugo had always wanted to check it out and see if it was worth the hype.

“Really, I need to loosen up a bit. The Café sounds perfect. I guess I’ll just…head that way then.”

And he did!

Update 21:
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Ultimately, despite the unquestionable appeal (and history, for better or worse) of Jirachi's Casino, you realize that maybe holding on to your life savings and just chilling out with a drink might suit your current needs better at this point.

Moving around in the Sparkling Strip is surprisingly easy, even with the growing number of people strolling about as the "fun hours" of the district approach. You have little trouble finding your way around, and besides, asking any other guide for further directions would never be as fun - unless New Fizz Guide convention determines they must all be named Clarice, in a similar vein to all the nurses and policewomen of this world.

Hard Regirock Café. Its fame preceeds it, and numerous establishments around Fizzytopia bear the same name, but if the brochure is to be believed, this is the original one - thriving here well before New Fizz City was even called "New".

Beneath the world-famous neon sign is an open door welcoming all patrons, no guard standing beside it. Confident in your choice of destination for the early evening, you boldly step inside... only for a loud alarm to sound as soon as you pass through the door.

"Excuse me sir." A man's voice calls to you, deeper than you thought humanly possible. A staff member walks toward you, coming from within the café, and by the size of him you could swear one of his parents is the Battle Tower. "I must ask you to leave your PokéBalls here at the entrance. I will see them returned to you once you desire to leave."

The giant of a man blocks your path, massive palm outstretched in waiting. His expression is not aggressive - simply that of a man slighty tired of having to remind patrons of the same thing all the time.

"If you please, sir. We ensure their return."

Reply 21:
Spoiler: show
This should have been expected, to be honest. The Sparkling Strip was known for their very strict Poke-policy. To be able to use them, you had to be invited. Otherwise, no dice. Even so, Hugo was reluctant to actually turn them over. Despite his desire to just relax for a bit, Hugo had a knack for finding himself in precarious situations. Leaving himself with essentially no protection left him feeling uneasy. Just in case, you know? With Clarice nowhere to be found and with having to (temporarily) surrender his Pokemon, Hugo would be completely on his own. It had been a long time since that had been the case.

But hey, rules are rules, right? Sometimes you had to play ball to get what you want, he told himself.

“Oh, of course!” Hugo responded, slightly feigning politeness. “Just give me one second here.” He fumbled at the Pokeballs at his waist which were slightly obscured by his jacket, rummaging through his pockets, generally just exuding his own general clumsiness. “Sorry about this. Just been in kind of a crazy headspace these past few days. Still just a bit out of sorts.” He smiled a pained smile and the giant man.

After a few moments, he was able to collect himself. “I really hope you don’t lose these. I’m sure there’s some sort of tracking device right? These mean a lot to me, so please be careful with them.”

He handed the Pokeballs over to the bouncer. All five of them.

You don’t want to know where he hid the sixth.

Update 22:
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Uncomfortable with the idea of being left entirely unprotected, you decide to try and fool the behemoth; feigning clumsiness, you end up delivering only five of your PokéBalls, concealing the last one in parts unknown. You hold your breath while the man looks silently at the Balls you did relinquish, and in the end, all he gives you is a silent nod before moving to the side.

First hurdle seemingly overcome, you finally step into the café proper, and it is totally worth it. The place is large but welcoming at the same time; to your left are several tables for either two, three or four people, most of them taken already. To your left is the bar itself, with a long mahogany counter lined with several rotating chairs and, luckily, plenty of empty seats. The sheer number and variety of drinks on the glass display behind the bartenders is frankly astounding.

To further compound the atmosphere, at the far end of the Café sits a man playing on a grand piano, and an obviously talented jazz singer lends her voice to create just the perfectly relaxing mood. Maybe not the kind of music you would expect given the establishment's name, but all in all, there is little cause for complaint.

"Good evening sir!"

Another staff member approaches you, though this one definitely closer to your age and build, and unquestionably friendlier than the gentleman you met at the entrance.

"My name is Lector, I'll be your waiter for the evening. Should we find you a seat? I'm sure we can accommodate a table for one, so you may relax and enjoy our famous dishes." The man is all smiles as he points to the tables to your left. "Of course, if you prefer, you may also take a seat at the counter over there and order your drinks directly to the bartender."

So, what will it be?

Reply 22 ( finishing reply ):
Spoiler: show
“Your, uh…your name….is Lector, you say? That’s certainly…unique!” Hugo forced a cheery smile. Yet below the surface, he wanted to vomit. Heavily. For such a renowned establishment, they certainly made an odd choice for maître d’ with this one, but hey, maybe it was just an unfortunate coincidence. Hugo could only hope so.

But it was time to unwind. Let’s not focus on what we cannot control, and instead focus on what we can, right? The restaurant certainly did not lack for charm. The soothing sounds of the pianist and singer helped Hugo ease himself a little bit, and he decided to just go with the flow. Though the bar looked as though it could be a bit of fun, Hugo thought he deserved a little preferential treatment. Some me time, some would say. Perhaps a separate table would be the better choice.

“Hm, well, Hannib-…Hector, wait, sorry Lector, I think a table for one would be fine.”


Some people had trouble eating alone. Being alone. Hugo didn’t like to be without his Pokemon for protection and camaraderie, but he also had no issue doing things alone that others preferred to do in groups. The introvert in him, I suppose.

“This certainly is a very lovely place. The singer, she’s very lovely. Who is she? Does she work here all the time?”

Hugo was a bit entranced by her, keeping his eyes on her as he began to follow Lector to wherever he was being led.

“Oh and hey, by the way, you’re totally not a cannibal right?”

He said it jocosely. He hoped it would be taken as such. Or maybe that Lector wouldn’t hear it at all.



Faiyaa:
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Adventure Start:
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Gary let out a deep sigh as he walked down the street in the Municipal Plaza. It wasn’t very often that he left his research expeditions in the mountains or across the seas for a more urban setting, but his reason for being in the region’s capitol city was strictly business; he had just finished a meeting at the Fizzytopian Gym League headquarters where he reported on his findings at the Typhon’s Depths Gym over the past several months.

Now that his business was complete, Gary was walking down the street idly as he prepared to depart back for his home. While he was no stranger to the city life, the Azalea Town native had always lived in small rural villages, spanning over the decades from his hometown to his years getting a degree in Humilau City, and even his time since moving back to Fizzytopia had been spent on the isolated mountainside of Mt. Zephyria. He wasn’t exactly a hermit, but there was an element of comfort in being isolated within nature for him.

As his mind wandered, Gary began to look around at his surroundings. It was a bustling city all right, but he noticed signs and advertisements everywhere. Surely there was a lot more to take in than he gave the city credit, but he had just never put in the time to look around. “That’s it,” he thought as he began to let his curiosity take over, “I think it’s time I see what all there is to offer around here.” True to his self, Gary immediately began to think about the Fizzby Harbor. He had heard rumors that there are some good fishing spots in the area, but never had a chance to check them out before. Making up his mind, Gary hopped on the subway and set course on the route for Cape Effervescence.

Update 1:
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While the subway train clattered to its destination packed shoulder to shoulder with passengers, you ponder what the big smoke might have in store for a small town sort. It was business that had led you here, although with gym duties out of the way you didn’t see the harm in paying a visit to the city’s famed harbour district to catch a familiar bit of blue. Before long the tram comes to a whirring break, doors sliding open allowing a drove of tourists to spill out. You amble behind at a more leisurely pace, hit by a familiar waft of sea salty air as you climb up the subway stairs, albeit tainted by the fumes of passing ships. Their foghorns cut through the ambiance of creaking boats and cawing Wingull, music to your ears compared to the cacophony of downtown traffic.

Cape Effervescence was a sight to behold even on an overcast day; the harbour was a bite from the land, its coarse sandy coastline dotted with barnacled rock poking out against the briny surf. In the shallows small children could be seen splashing about with juvenile fish Pokemon, while further out hundreds of boats bobbed and creaked, tugging on their moorings to the piers. With a dull sky the sea had given up her blue, the stones showing no russet colours and the ships taking on the monochrome look of old movies. On a sunnier day the Cape’s stretch of sand would be entirely obscured by vacation goers in their multicoloured board shorts and bikinis, a hustle and bustle you are kindly spared of as you make a heading.

There did still seem to be commotion afoot as you inch closer, a crowd swelling at the far reaches of the cape surrounding what appeared to be a large blue blimp dappled in black. Straining ahead you see it’s not a blimp at all but a beached Wailord! It lets out a low groan as what looks like black tar seeps from its blowhole region down to its eye, thrashing wildly against a pair of trainers and their Pokemon's attempts to push it off the shore, knocking them and much of the crowd off their feet in a fell swoop! Their rescue efforts were going to get someone hurt, the growing mob only working to exacerbate the Wailord’s stress. What will you do?

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show
Being crammed inside a crowded subway car was not Gary’s cup of tea, but after bearing with it for a few minutes, the train finally came to a halt at the harbor according to the electronic sign overhead. Gary let out a sigh of relief as he filed out of the car alongside a myriad of tourists and the familiar scent of brine greeted him as it wafted down the staircase. A big grin formed on his face as he ascended into the daylight. He couldn’t help it; being around the ocean always put Gary in a good mood. The overcast sky didn’t seem to bother him too much either, as that was actually his favorite kind of weather. Things were looking picturesque for Gary as he gazed across the harbor at the fleet of merchant and fishing ships coming and going. The beachgoers all seemed pretty at ease and enjoying the scenery, which was what Gary intended to do as well, until a large gathering around a much larger object caught his eye.

Even at a far distance away, it was easy for Gary to identify the gargantuan Float Whale Pokemon, said to be one of the largest species of Pokemon in all of existence. The first red flag that lit up in Gary’s mind was that it was beached on the shore, never a good thing for an ocean-dwelling giant, and he knew that the situation could become incredibly dangerous for the Pokemon’s health if not dealt with quickly. Without a second thought, Gary’s legs already began to bring him closer as he hurried over to investigate. As he got a closer look at it, Gary could spot an incredible amount of sticky black tar all over the poor whale, making the situation that much more critical. There were a handful of people fruitlessly attempting to push the Wailord back into the ocean, but as it thrashed about uneasily, Gary knew it wouldn’t be so easy to move something that weighed nearly 900 lbs. Gary immediately began to wrack his brain for solutions on how to clean it up and get it back in the water, and he cursed himself for not bringing along one of his stronger powerhouse Pokemon like his Torterra or Blastoise to be able to do some heavy lifting.

First things first, the tar needed to be taken care of, or else even if it was in the water, it could become sick and crash ashore again. “There, there,” he greeted the Wailord softly as he stepped to the front of the crowd and carefully approached the creature. He made sure to keep a safe distance from its struggling, but wanted to be close enough for it to fix its attention on him. “We’ll get you cleaned up and back out in the ocean in no time, but I’m going to need you to settle down, okay?” Fortunately for Gary, he had the ideal partner with him to execute his plan.

“C’mon out, Pickle!” Gary called as he tossed a Luxury Ball into the air. After a brief flash, a fluorescent green Pyukumuku with yellow spines appeared before him. The shiny Pyukumuku gazed up at her trainer before turning her attention to the big blue whale as Gary picked her up and held her in his arms. “Alright Pickle, let’s start off by Soaking the Wailord in water. Then I want you to suck up and Purify the tar covering it. Lastly, it looks like it’s been through a rough time, so I want you to Split some of its Pain away, okay?” Gary then focused on the next part of his plan. He pulled out an empty Pokeball and held it at the ready. This part would only work if Pickle was able to successfully calm the giant first, but if she did then Gary hoped to call the wild Pokemon inside of the Pokeball and then quickly swat it into the ocean. He knew full well that it was highly unlikely to capture the Wailord, but the cost of one measly Pokeball was worth the trouble of moving the massive Pokemon back to safety.

Update 2:
Spoiler: show
While troubled skies were a welcome sight a troubled sea dweller was not. With an affinity for all things aquatic and a degree to show for it, you’re quick on the scene for closer assessment. Without the cool of the ocean the beached Wailord was Thrashing and kicking up sand with snowballing anxiety, requiring a delicate touch to return to open water. In a sudden brain wave you bring Pickle to the fray, barely sizing up to the Float Whale's eye which elicits several laughs from nearby bystanders. They would see soon enough that big things often come in small packages as the Sea Cucumber Pokemon begins its hike up the blimp-like creature and gets to work Soaking it down. Pickle’s sticky membrane allows her to fasten on as the Wailord flails with diminishing resistance, the water soothing its dried-out skin some. A pair of nearby trainers follow your lead, their Dewott and Corsola shifting from ploughing efforts to hosing the Wailord down with gentle Water Guns.

Although the crude oil runs off in some places it’s just as stubborn in others, demanding Pickle’s Purification technique to finish the job. The Wailord didn’t seem to mind as the little Pyukumuku got between all the tight crevices and sopped up the impurities, not dissimilar to the symbiotic cleaning stations that existed for the species in the wild. Spectators who had initially scoffed at Pickle were now cheering her on, one of the two trainers clapping you on the back as he made for an introduction. “I’m Elijah and this is my sis, Renee.” She smiled at you and her brother warmly before fixing back on the task at hand. The pair of outwardly avid beachgoers looked like they could be twins, sharing the same matted surfer hair and sunburned completion.

“That purification technique is pretty handy, huh. We were thinking once it’s safely off the beach we could use our Pokemon create a current out to the open ocean. We could really use your help purifying the path if you don’t mind getting a little wet. Say, where did that little thing get to?” The Wailord was all of a sudden wriggling like an upstream Magikarp, Pickle inadvertently finding her way into one of its tickle spots! The tremors while muted by the sand are almost enough to knock you off your feet, while the Pyukumuku’s sticky mucous fails to keep her fastened as she bounces about the Float Whale’s back like a bouncy castle. She finds stability lodged in the Wailord’s blowhole, the gigantic Pokemon sensing the blockage and unclogging with an almighty Water Spout! Plan averted, the Pyukumuku is sent flying into the clouds before careening back down at even greater velocity. While the species were known for their resilience, it would be kind to spare her such a death-defying drop. What will you do?

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show
While troubled skies were a welcome sight a troubled sea dweller was not. With an affinity for all things aquatic and a degree to show for it, you’re quick on the scene for closer assessment. Without the cool of the ocean the beached Wailord was Thrashing and kicking up sand with snowballing anxiety, requiring a delicate touch to return to open water. In a sudden brain wave you bring Pickle to the fray, barely sizing up to the Float Whale's eye which elicits several laughs from nearby bystanders. They would see soon enough that big things often come in small packages as the Sea Cucumber Pokemon begins its hike up the blimp-like creature and gets to work Soaking it down. Pickle’s sticky membrane allows her to fasten on as the Wailord flails with diminishing resistance, the water soothing its dried-out skin some. A pair of nearby trainers follow your lead, their Dewott and Corsola shifting from ploughing efforts to hosing the Wailord down with gentle Water Guns.

Although the crude oil runs off in some places it’s just as stubborn in others, demanding Pickle’s Purification technique to finish the job. The Wailord didn’t seem to mind as the little Pyukumuku got between all the tight crevices and sopped up the impurities, not dissimilar to the symbiotic cleaning stations that existed for the species in the wild. Spectators who had initially scoffed at Pickle were now cheering her on, one of the two trainers clapping you on the back as he made for an introduction. “I’m Elijah and this is my sis, Renee.” She smiled at you and her brother warmly before fixing back on the task at hand. The pair of outwardly avid beachgoers looked like they could be twins, sharing the same matted surfer hair and sunburned completion.

“That purification technique is pretty handy, huh. We were thinking once it’s safely off the beach we could use our Pokemon create a current out to the open ocean. We could really use your help purifying the path if you don’t mind getting a little wet. Say, where did that little thing get to?” The Wailord was all of a sudden wriggling like an upstream Magikarp, Pickle inadvertently finding her way into one of its tickle spots! The tremors while muted by the sand are almost enough to knock you off your feet, while the Pyukumuku’s sticky mucous fails to keep her fastened as she bounces about the Float Whale’s back like a bouncy castle. She finds stability lodged in the Wailord’s blowhole, the gigantic Pokemon sensing the blockage and unclogging with an almighty Water Spout! Plan averted, the Pyukumuku is sent flying into the clouds before careening back down at even greater velocity. While the species were known for their resilience, it would be kind to spare her such a death defying drop. What will you do?

Update 3:
Spoiler: show
Pickle was in a real pickle. Sent hurtling toward the heavens and back down at an even greater pace, you have just a few precious seconds to break her fall. Thinking on your feet you bring Artemis onto the scene, built for this sort of mission as young as she was; the species had an innate knack for getting a moving prey into their gullet and a rescue of this nature would be no different. With a squawk she took to the skies and made a beeline for her freefalling teammate. It seems an impossible distance to cover but she folds her wing feathers to break into a swift glide, opening her maw in preparation for the catch. In the nick of time the Cramorant successfully intercepts, the Pyukumuku lodging safely in her gullet. The impact is enough to knock her out of flight, breast puffing up as she Stockpiles energy to cushion the fall. To your relief the pair land safely against the sand, the light shock enough to dislodge Pickle from Artimis’ throat. Artemis gains one level!

“Way to go, li'l bird!” Elijah and Renee were jumping with enthusiasm, the wider mob of beachgoers breaking into applause. Your work wasn’t over just yet though, Pickle just as quickly returning to her Wail’ washing post with a renewed sense of caution. To your relief there are no further hiccups and it’s not long until the beached blimp is looking good as new. Pickle gains two levels! With the Wailord settling down and the wider rescue team seemingly satisfied with the clean-up effort, they begin making preparations for the next phase of the plan.

“I’ll bring the boat around and meet you in the shallows, then we’ll escort it out to the ocean and see if there’s anything else we’re needed for out there.” Renee calls her Dewott over while Corsola waddles to Elijah’s flank, the siblings about to head to the nearby jetty. “You okay doing what you gotta do to get the Wailord into the water?”

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show
Gary breathed a deep sigh of relief as he watched Artemis the Cramorant swoop through the air and catch the plummeting Pickle before she splattered the ground below. As the sea bird regurgitated the already slimy sea cucumber from her throat, the surrounding crowd broke into applause. “Great work, Artemis!” Gary called out with a grin. Before the shiny Pyukumuku could return to her task at hand, her trainer gave her a quick examination to ensure her wellbeing. “Are you alright, Pickle?” he asked. The Pyukumuku swiftly nodded and exclaimed “Pyuu!” and Gary was impressed at her mental fortitude after such a close call. Pyukumuku were hardy creatures however, and were built to be tossed around from time to time.

As Pickle slowly squirmed her way back up the Wailord’s body, Gary called out to her, “Be careful up there!” Fortunately the Wailord seemed to have calmed down a bit, so Gary had a feeling his plan was working to an extent. However, even though the whale was cleaned up a bit and in higher spirits, the job was far from over. There was still the matter of getting the half a ton creature back into the ocean so it could be free to return to its natural habitat.

Renee and Elijah announced to Gary that they would escort them from the shallows back out into the open ocean and asked him if he could handle the Wailord. “Leave it to me!” he replied, hoping to follow through with his Pokeball strategy. Fortunately for him, he had an ace in the hole, stockpiled up and ready to go. “I’m gonna need your help for this, okay Artemis?” he asked, turning to the Cramorant. She looked back up at her trainer inquisitively. Once Pickle’s work was finally done, Gary returned her to her Luxury Ball for a well-deserved rest and continued with his plan. “I’m going to throw a plain old Pokeball at this Wailord, not expecting to catch it or anything. I need you to catch the ball before it breaks out and Spit it Up into the ocean as fast as you can, got it?” Artemis’ expression was blank, but nodded anyway and prepared herself as Gary procured a vacant Pokeball from his bag, ready to throw it.



DannyDrawsAlot:
Spoiler: show

Start:
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"New Fizz City?" Danny asked as he read over the text Ritchie had sent him a third time. There was a newly constructed city that seemed to have just popped out of nowhere, and Ritchie had wanted them to head over there together, but there was no time, so Danny went on his own. Ritchie was tangled up in his own adventure anyway. So, looking over the city map, Danny decided to head over the Rail Yard, because trains are fucking awesome machines, that he needed to study so he could build his intellect. There's no point of something existing and him not knowing about it, after all.

So he set out to the rail yard. Once he get there though, he was disappointed. The rail yard was already defunct. Some random powerful Pokemon ravaged the whole place, but it was gone now, at least, that's what the brochure said. The rail yard, due to the high amounts of mechanical technology and iron that had been left over, the yard had become a home for Steel types, likely the Aron species was dominant, as they were known to eat iron, and a run down railway is an iron buffet. The rails led down, leading to brightly graffitied walls, the art was, to be put simply, both revolting and stunning.

After reading to the bottom of the brochure, Danny found out that there were crime and gangs around at night.

"They could be dealing in Pokemon, illegally." Danny thought aloud. "Well, looks like I got something to do."

Update 1:
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Revelling in ideas of illegal activity busts, you amble down the disused track leaving the city a shrinking silhouette in your wake. The railroad had been out of operation for longer than you cared to know, its slats splintered and rails rusted. While semi obscured by fallen leaves and unwieldy thickets it still leaves a clear enough route to lead you to the abandoned train station itself. Leading up to the structure were several disused trains, hollowed out bodies that had completely rusted over, their orange tinge only disguised through layers of graffiti the both beautiful and ugly. One of the carts begins to stir, the echoes something clattering reverberating through its hollow shell; it was known that much of the site had been guttered by hungry steel-types.

The railway station was a vast cavity, choked in vines and overrun by wild. You make your way through corridors of cracked flagstones out of which weeds protrude and moss lingers. Smashed windows provide scarce light and ventilation, a must hanging in the air making it uncomfortable to linger in one place for too long. You break through to the central terminal which was something akin to a locomotive graveyard, trains and other equipment left to rust and fade out of memory. Tattered posters showed a glimpse of what used to be of the place and graffiti encapsulates and engulfs the walls, the city’s street gangs attempting to claim their territory through spray paint by the looks of it. You imagine the railway station held a certain grandeur in its prime, however a truly different sight beholds you now with not a soul in sight – or at least you thought, a commotion on the adjoining platform sending you on high alert.

You follow the racket to a defunct terminal where the carcass of a colossal Aggron was lay bare. Its steel carapace was showing signs of rust, its rib cage cracked open with a small creature rummaging inside. You cautiously inch closer, a pair of rubbery pants coming into focus while its wearer scavenged below. With much of the railyard’s valuable metals guttered and sold off, it appeared the residing Steel-types themselves were next on the chopping block, although why a stray Pokemon would be the one looting was anyone’s guess. It only takes another footstep to spook the Scraggy jumping to its feet and dropping the scrap it had foraged. Realising you were unarmed it quick enough puts on a nasty snare, stuffing what loot it can in its trousers before lunging into attack! You’re given no time to react as it Headbutts you in the gut, knocking you off your feet and winding you in the process. He was claiming ownership of this territory leaving you to either fight or flee.

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

Flicking away the brochure from his hands and proceeding down the defunct rails, Danny and the Drizzile on his shoulder both gazed at the walls, admiring the beautifully constructed artworks splattered across the wall. While the art itself was great, what it was depicting was gruesomely disgusting. The railway itself got worse as he went down, vines and thorns spiraling and sprouting all around, cracked flagstones covered in moss and spiky weeds, the broken, derelict windows providing dappled light, making the railway have a weird, eerie glow. There was a musk that perpetuated through out the station, the plants giving off a moldy, disgusting smell. Everything about this place was disgusting, that was for sure.

"This place definitely was filled back in the day." Danny thought aloud, and Drizzile nodded silently, agreeing. Danny kicked a plastic bottle that lay on the graveled floor, kicking up stones along with it, making a noise in the silent yard. "But there's no one here n- What was that??" Danny's eyes darted from side to side. He heard a noise. Lizzy jumped off his shoulder and pointed towards a terminal, which had a colossal Aggron carcass. The noise was coming from there, that's for sure.

"You think, Liz?" Danny asked his Drizzile, which nodded in return. "Well, okay." Danny jogged over to the terminal, and got a better look of the corpse. It was a gruesome sight, to say the least. The iron plating was rusted, old and dusty, its stomach completely open, the rib cage open to the air. Danny inched closer carefully, spotting a Scraggy rummaging through the Aggron's corpse! Was it looking for scrap metal? Why would a wild Pokemon need iron? Danny reached forward, his foot stepping forward reflexively, crunching the gravel underneath, and alerting the small yellow scavenger. Turning around quickly, pulling up its shed skin pants, it Headbutted Danny in the stomach!

"Ouch!" Danny yelped in pain, clutching his stomach with his right hand. Lizzy dashed to his side, readying a Water Pulse, forming a ball of water in its green palm. She was ready to defend her trainer.

"Oh damn, guess we have to fight."

Update 2:
Spoiler: show

The abandoned railyard was not so abandoned after all, the Scraggy in your midst warning you to back off its turf by means of brutal force. The headbutt sends you reeling, Lizzy instinctively dashing to your aide as the coughing and spluttering leaves you tongue tied. Her species’ usual nonchalant expression was replaced with a look of true grit as she prepared a retaliation, Water molecules beginning to swell within her green paw. A second later she propels the Pulse of energy forward, travelling down the disused terminal at breakneck speed and striking Scraggy head on. The lizard is sent bowling, crashing into the Aggron carcass in a loud clatter, its collected scrap spilling across the platform as its pants slip down to its knees. The warning shot isn’t enough to deter the Scraggy who pulls up his pants and fires off a menacing Snarl, the look alone enough to inflict damage on the water-type and leave her special attack debuffed to boot. With no time for retaliation, the scrappy foe rushes its target before coming into a skid, delivering a Low Kick which is successful in sweeping the Drizzile clean off her feet! On all fours and in close quarters, the two fighters begin to wrestle for the upper hand, morphing into a ball of blue and yellow with punches and kicks flying every which way. You determine the Scraggy is surprisingly strong for its size and would have the upper hand in bareknuckle combat if left unchecked. Feeling the air return to your windpipes it was time to volley up some orders, the reptilian riot just about getting started.

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show

Danny could barely breathe, but luckily, Lizzy was smart enough and knew what to do. As he coughed and hacked, Lizzy threw her hand forward, shooting the Pulse of Water directly at Scraggy, Danny watching the blue orb shoot through the air and strike the Scraggy head on, which sent it flying, barreling and hitting the Aggron carcass, its collected scrap metal scattering all over the ground with clangs and clicks. Finally, air travelled back in to Danny's lungs, but before he could call out to Lizzy to do anything, Scraggy was already back into action, scrambling its sagging pants upwards, letting out a deep, dark, menacing Snarl, the sound energy imbued with dark thoughts, which blasted Lizzy back, and the Scraggy quickly followed up with a Low Kick, causing Drizzile to topple over and crash to the ground. Now that both the reptilians where on all fours, they began a rough fisticuffs, devolving into a slapstick like ball of blue and yellow flashes of color.

"Alright! Let's do this." Danny said, gazing at the fight from the corner of his eye. Quickly, he grabbed a shrunk Pokeball from his pocket, tapping on it making to grow to normal size, and throwing it upwards, the blue energy inside zapping to the ground and slowly forming shape.

"Drizzile! Strike Scraggy with an Ice Shard! And once you get an opening, blast 'em with another Water Pulse! And you, Helioptile! Surf!" Danny ordered in one quick line. The Sun Lizard soon materialized and got to work, concentrating water energy and building up the wave it prepared to shoot forward.

Update 3:
Spoiler: show

One-on-one battles seem to be the norm everywhere in the world, but they definitely aren't a *rule*. Case in point, since your Drizzile seems to be struggling against the wild Scraggy, you simply decide to call on a second Pokemon to gang up on the yellow fellow.

The mess of limbs is suddenly broken apart by the appearance of an ice spire that propels Scraggy backwards, giving Drizzile just enough breathing space to follow it up with another Water Pulse!

Although the Ice Shard at such close range was unavoidable, the nimble lizard manages to arch its back and narrowly dodge the blue orb, but there is nothing it can do to fight back the tidal wave summoned by the second element of this now-handicap match - Helioptile's Surf pushes Scraggy back, sending it tumbling back until it crashes into the deceased Aggron's metal armor!

*Drizzile gained 2 Levels!*
*Helioptile gained 2 Levels!*

In a show of remarkable resilience, however, the wild brawler gets back to its feet despite its accumulated injuries. Staring around the battlefield now, and realizing it is summarily outnumbered, Scraggy suddenly turns around and runs away, hastily disappearing behind the dead steel colossus! You prepare to give chase, but are suddenly stopped by a spotlight shining on you and your team, and a voice calling out to you from a loudspeaker.

"This is the Police! Surrender yourself immediately!"

It seems there's been a massive misunderstanding here. Are you going to stand your ground and try to explain yourself, or instead make a run for it before the authorities move in to arrest you?

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show

His orders had been a success! At least, most of them? Ice Shard had hit as perfectly as it should have, forming a cold solid spire that shot at Scraggy, propelling it backwards, which gave Lizzy space to throw a Water Pulse at it. Scraggy was smart though, so it dodged the Water Pulse this time around, but it was an exercise in futility, as Soliera had already collected enough water molecules to cause a giant wave of water, which crashed down on Scraggy, washing it backwards, crashing it into Aggron's metal carcass.

"Yeah! That's the stuff guys!" Danny cheered, and walked over, expecting Scraggy to be knocked out, or at least disoriented enough for the capturing. Scraggy was a lizard after all, and seemed in need of a purpose - He's ripe for the picking. Or so Danny thought, as the Scraggy quickly scrambled itself up, and with it realizing it was outnumbered, it took off, disappearing behind the Aggron's corpse.

"Hey! Get back here!" Danny yelled after the Scraggy, getting ready for a chase, and was about to take a step forward, only for a bright light to shine from above, highlighting him and his Pokemon.

"This is the Police! Surrender yourself immediately!" Danny heard, and damn, he wasn't expecting this!

"Oh shit! It's the fuzz! We gotta split!" Danny said, raising both his hands in the air, his two Pokemon doing the same, as he slowly turned around, directly facing the light, before running off and following the Scraggy, wherever it went.

Helioptile grew to level 15!
Drizzile grew to level 18!

Update 4:
Spoiler: show

As soon as you're about to beat Scraggy, the cops show up - typical! So obviously, you decide to make a run for it, deftly evading the law as only a hardened criminal would.

... Wait, are you actually guilty of something? Why are you running away again?

You ponder on these pertinent questions as you dash along the deserted railway, trying your hardest to spot the Scraggy as you go. But before you can answer these questions for yourself, something leaps at you from the left, appearing from behind the broken carcass of a Ferrothorn, and tackles you to the ground!

You hit the floor hard, then find yourself pinned to the floor by a rather large, angry-looking Growlithe baring its fangs mere inches away from your face! From the corner of your eye, you spot Helioptile and Drizzile nervously assuming battle positions; clearly, they're thinking the same as you: can they move fast enough to get Growlithe off of you before it bites your face clean off?...

"Well done boy," you suddenly hear. A male voice, coming from your right. Still trapped beneath the trained dog, you shift your gaze to meet the voice - you've seen this man before on TV!

"Alpha-1, this is Looker. Fall back; target neutralized. Over."

The middle-aged man drops to one knee and stares you in the eyes with a dead-serious expression.

"You and I need to have a talk, bud. Fleeing the scene doesn't do you any favors."

Despite your current predicament, you still have your Pokemon standing by for instructions. Do you try to talk things over with the famous Looker, or will you attempt another daring escape?

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show

"Wait a second, I'm not actually guilty, right?" Danny thought aloud, and Drizzile looked at him while running, giving him a shrug. But pondering would only be a waste of time, so Danny barreled down the deserted railway, his legs barely giving out despite him never working out in his entire life, must have been adrenaline? Scraggy was getting harder to follow as Danny and his Pokemon continued to give chase. Out of nowhere though, something tackled Danny to the ground, it appearing from behind another corpse, this time a Ferrothorn. Needless to say, it wasn't much different than was the Scraggy encounter, but this time, it was a Growlithe.

As Danny came back to his senses, he stared at the Growlithe atop him. It was larger than the average one, and its teeth were mere inches from his face, it growling with clear bloodlust in his eyes, it seemed ready to tear Danny to shreds. Lizzy and Soliera both assumed battle stances; ready to smack the Growlithe off, Lizzy even charging up another Water Pulse.

"Well done, boy." A male voice said, startling Danny, and Danny looked over, it was a policeman.

"Lizzy, stand down." Danny said dryly, and the Drizzile obeyed, dropping the pulse of water it had collected.

"Now, whoever you are, get your dog off me, or I'll do it myself." Danny growled back, ready to punch the dog off of him if he wasn't careful. "I'm not talking till that happens, so take your free time if you like."

Update 5:
Spoiler: show

The situation is as dire as nonsensical. One minute you were battling a wild Scraggy, the next you were intentionally running away from the police despite having done nothing wrong, and now you're talking back to a famous police detective with a Growlithe literally breathing down your neck. Such is the life of an honest Trainer...

Looker doesn't look the least bit impressed with your threats, considering you're lying on yout back with a fire-breathing dog pinning you down. As far as he's concerned, it's over - Growlithe has the high ground.

Still, negotiating with criminals is part of his training. He whistles and motions with his head for the dog to step aside, then lights up a cigarette. Growlithe does as instructed, its gaze shifting from you to your two Pokemon companions, clearly not trusting them to stand down as well.

"Tell you what punk. I'll give you chance."

He points over to the nearby Ferrothorn carcass with the burning tip of his cigarette and exhales a cloud of smoke.

"This ain't the first time we spotted your lizard friend scavenging around, but it's the first time I had the pleasure of meeting the human thief behind it all. So here's the deal: you tell me why you've been ordering your Helioptile to steal iron from the railway and I might just shave off a couple years from your sentence."

There seems to be a huge misunderstanding here; has the Police mistaken that wild Scraggy for your Helioptile?!

Looker looks at you in silence. Growlithe growls at you in warning. Everyone in this scene is so aptly named.

What will you do now?

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show

Looker lit a cigarette, much to Danny's disgust, as he watched the tip glow with smoke rising from it. After some time, he called out to his Growlithe to let go, and the dog did as instructed. Danny at first wanted to just lay on the ground, he was tired as fuck, but he got up and dusted himself off, and rushed over to his two lizards, who glared at the Growlithe, which the Dog Pokemon was sure to reciprocate.

Danny laid back and listened to what Looker said, watching him smoke and not really listening. He could just feel Looker's blackened lungs, really, Danny hated smokers. As he focused on the glow of the cigarette, Looker droned on, but then something caught Danny's atttention. Reversing back a few moments mentally, he replayed what he had heard Looker say:

"This ain't the first time we spotted your lizard friend scavenging around, but it's the first time I had the pleasure of meeting the human thief behind it all. So here's the deal: you tell me why you've been ordering your Helioptile to steal iron from the railway and I might just shave off a couple years from your sentence."

"Say what now?" Danny thought. Looker thought Soliera was a thief? How dare he? Danny picked up the whimpering Helioptile, who had a look of pure horror on her face.

"Listen here mister." Danny said, his fists clenched, his expression and voice grave. "No one calls me a criminal. No one calls my Pokemon a criminal!" Danny yelled at him, pointing aggresively. The Helioptile which had taken refuge on his shoulder glared at Looker, clearly agreeing with what Danny had just said.

"it was a Scraggy that did it, not Helioptile. Believe it or not, you can run from the police and be innocent."

Update 6:
Spoiler: show

Looker seems decidedly non-enthused by your attitude. You keep up your defiance, backed up by your undeniable innocence which, with every word and action, seems to become less and less relevant to your cause. Cooperating with the local authorities is probably best for any young Trainer looking to get somewhere in life, but you're not about to concede here. You were unjustly accused, after all.

"Here's the deal, bud... Even of you were innocent as far as stealing the railway iron is concerned, which I doubt it, you sure as hell are guilty of a bunch of other stuff. So I'm not sure what kind of immunity you think you have, but by Arceus have you been making a lot of questionable decisions since I met you."

Looker whistles, calling Growlithe to his side.

"Got a bunch of my men around the railway, just in case you were thinking about escaping again, like "innocents" do. So here's what we're gonna do: you and your lizard are tagging along with me - you're gonna help me find that other Pokemon you say is the real culprit. If we do, you'll have proven your innocence. You say a Scraggy did it? Then it's about time you start putting your money where your mouth is and help me track it down."

Looker pauses for a while and grins at you.

"Unless you wanna keep doing things your way. I can tell you're dying to have a swing at me. What's it gonna be, tough guy?"

Embers escape Growlithe's mouth, as it keeps shifting its gaze between your Helioptile and Drizzile.

Looker is getting straight to the point now: are you going to cooperate with the police that falsely accused you, or are you going to keep resisting?



Spiny Shell:
Spoiler: show

Start:
Spoiler: show

Sil breathed deeply, tasting the salty air on her tongue. Beside her sat her partner Pokémon Hailstone, an Alolan Sandshrew, who was also enjoying the briny breeze. It was rather pleasant out, what with the refreshing wind and marine layer shielding them from the glaring rays of the sun and keeping them cool. A perfect day to explore the wharf, or perhaps go on a Wailord-watching boat ride.

However, the two were not interested in any of that. They had come to New Fizz City’s harbor for a very specific purpose: to catch a Water type Pokémon to cover Hailstone’s glaring weakness to Fire, as well as add a new friend to the team. Now, where to find such aquatic Pokémon?

Sil sat down next to Hailstone before pulling out a map of the city from her bag, gingerly holding it as it had already become damp and fragile from all the salty sea-side air. After studying the map carefully for a bit, the two learned that there were three main locations in Fizzby Harbor: Cape Effervescence, Victory Island, and an entrance to the Fizz City sewers. It seemed that Victory Island would be too frot with battle-hungry Pokémon for such rookies as themselves--Hailstone couldn’t even summon a weak Ice attack yet (though he was getting close)--that it would be a poor idea to travel as of now. And neither were willing to brave the disgusting and dark depths of the sewers, so it seemed their only option was Cape Effervescence. Hopefully the Pokémon in this touristy area wouldn’t be too tough.

Sil slid the map back into her bag, frowning a little as the wet paper tore a bit along one edge, before standing up. Hailstone stood up as well, stretching out his back and legs. Fortunately, the two were rather close by.

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

With Hailstone in tow you set a course for New Fizz’s famed promenade, Cape Effervescence, although you could easily be excused for thinking you had taken a wrong turn. Pocketing the sodden map you get a first glance at the stormy seascape, a far cry from the photos in the travel brochures. Under the dull sky the water was dark, lacking the speckles of light that come with a sunny day, the wood of the promenade rainsoaked closer to black than brown. The pier was forlorn in the cold waves, the usual flood of tourists displaced with only a handful of fishermen dotted few and far between. Even the most seasoned trawlers had dared not venture down the stilted jetty to the ocean’s edge, monstrous black waves rearing up and lashing out with white foam claws. You decide to give it a wide berth too, following the safety of the coastline down the cape in hopes of chance encountering an aquatic Pokemon that wouldn’t give your Alolan Sandshrew a hard time.

Soon enough you encounter a fisherman with quite the struggle on his hands, rod bending as he reeled with all his might. The seasoned angler allows the rod to unravel easing the pressure some, just as quickly snapping it back in hopes of tuckering the catch out. Your gaze follows the wire down to the foamy surf which was beginning to swell under the mass of the creature; whatever was hooked was close to surfacing! The fisher catches your presence in his peripheral, a strained look on his face as he hauled with the last of his might... “Kid – think ya could – help me out here?”

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

Unfortunately, it seemed that the pleasant weather was only the calm before the storm. The gentle sea breeze was quickly replaced with strong gusts of wind, whipping the waters into a frenzy that devoured the far end of the wharf, while freezing droplets of rain pelted everything that wasn’t covered like icy spears. The pier was devoid of people--it seemed Sil was the only person who failed to check the forecast for today--outside of a few fishermen whose livelihoods were more important than getting soaked. They hunched over their rods, attempting to stand steady in the rough weather.

Sil frowned with displeasure as she hadn’t exactly prepared for such a wet and freezing day, but the excited squeaks of Hailstone dissuaded her from calling their Water-type search off. At least one of them was enjoying the weather.

The two of them made their way along the cape’s coast, making sure to stay as far away from the monstrous waves as possible lest they get swallowed by the water and swept out to sea. As they wandered along the shoreline, they spotted a fisherman fighting fiercely with his catch, lines of tension carved into his face, his exposed knuckles pale white from the stress of holding onto the rod so tightly. As they gazed at the end of the line, the two realized that whatever the fisherman had hooked was close to surfacing judging by the rising dark mass in the water--and it seemed he was almost out of strength!

Catching the two out of the corner of his eye, the fisherman called out. “Kid – think ya could – help me out here?” he asked Sil in desperation.

“Of course, whatever you need us to do,” Sil responded, before turning to Hailstone nervously. She hoped that whatever the fisherman had caught would be a friendly Pokémon, but judging by the thrashing in the water it seemed whatever was about to surface was none too happy. And it wasn’t exactly uncommon for upset wild Pokémon to take their aggression out on whoever was unfortunate enough to anger them.

“Maybe… maybe use Defense Curl now just in case whatever comes out of the water decides to attack us” she said to her partner. “And if it does actually go on the offense, could you counter with a Scratch, or possibly even a Crush Claw if you can muster it?”

Update 2:
Spoiler: show
You are quick to come to the fisherman’s aide as he bends to and fro with increasing difficulty, hoping whatever lay at the end of his line would be a lively match for your starter. The ‘shrew preps ahead by Curling into a ball, working to obscure his soft underside and shore up his Defences. The surf was starting to bubble and rise sending your stomach into knots, doubts rising on whether you had bitten off more than you could chew. With a final heave the catch emerges in a sea salt eruption, its dark silhouette flying overhead and crashing on the promenade with a heavy thud. You wipe the spray from your eyes to get a closer look at the… Rock? It had a slippery sheen as water ran off its surface but there was no mistaking it, the fisherman had trawled up nothing more than a boulder. The seasoned angler blinks, just as nonplussed as you.

“Hmph. Looks like the fish get to live another day while I spend another day of mending fishing lines!” With a chuckle he just as quickly sets to packing his tackle and leaving the choppy ocean behind him, the feeling of failure lingering long after he departs. As soon as Sandshrew anticlimactically unfurls from his defence though, the rock starts to rumble. The vibrations can be felt reverberating down the boardwalk until a sole Binacle emerges from the boulder with a pop. Its furrowed brow looks especially cross from having been unceremoniously prized from its underwater refuge, Mud Slapping the nearest body which just so happens to be Sandshrew! Hailstone squeals as dirt gets into his eyes, sweeping in blindly with a Scratch which only manages to clip the foe’s neck. While their species usually came in pairs, it looks like this plucky Binacle is confident in taking you on singlehandedly. What will you do?

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show

Hailstone prepared himself for whatever the fisherman had hooked by curling tightly into a ball, protecting his vulnerable belly as he did so. As the Sandshrew buffed his defense, Sil watched nervously as the fisherman struggled fiercely with his catch. The surf bubbled around the rising dark mass, and the fisherman gathered all his remaining strength before giving a final tug on his fishing rod. The creature burst out of the salty brine with quite a splash, rising high into the air, the two humans watching as it climbed upwards before crashing loudly on the boardwalk.

It was...

a rock.

A grey rock, to be specific, with some seaweed anchored to it and a few holes where seawater and sandy muck slowly drained out. It seemed Sil and Hailstone had not come across a fisherman, but a rockman.

The angler shook his head in defeat. “Hmph. Looks like the fish get to live another day while I spend another day of mending fishing lines,” he chuckled, before packing up his tackle box and walking off in defeat.

Sil watched him go, before turning back to the rock and sighing softly, feeling a strange mix of both failure, for they had not encountered the Water-type they were hoping for, and relief, as Hailstone would not have to face a difficult foe. Hailstone slowly unfurled himself, feeling his back unstiffen from the release, a bit disappointed that their journey had led them to a rock, albeit a rather nice one even if it was a little plain.

However, just as Hailstone uncurled fully, the rock began to rumble, sending tremors all along the boardwalk. As the rumbles reached their climax, in a sudden burst of sea foam a lone creature popped its spiky head out from one of the larger holes, a rather cross look on its face. It narrowed its eyes even further, looking for who was responsible for tearing it from the cozy ocean floor, before spotting Hailstone. Faster than either Sil or Hailstone could react, it flung a clump of mud and silt directly at the Sandshrew’s eyes, connecting with a splash of supereffective goop.

Hailstone stumbled back, squealing and clawing at his face in an attempt to get the gunk out, already feeling it harden from the cold of his icy scales. Through the fog of pain, Hailstone vaguely remembered Sil’s orders, before lashing out blinding with his claws in the hopes that he’d Scratch this strange Pokémon. He felt his claws connect, but unfortunately it was only a glancing blow across the creature's neck.

Sil stared in shock, before overcoming her surprise and scanning the unknown Pokémon with her Pokédex. It appeared the grumpy creature was a Binacle, though there was something off about it. According to the picture, there should be two barnacles but only one popped out, a Mono-nacle if you will. Despite missing its apparent twin, the lone barnacle looked confident in its battle skills and glared fiercely at the two of them.

Sil worried at the situation. With the mud in his eyes, Hailstone’s vision was severely reduced and he would have trouble connecting his attacks, as the Binacle was surprisingly mobile despite being anchored in rock. In a bit of panic, Sil shouted “Hailstone, maybe use Mist so that barnacle can’t lower your accuracy any more!” That would shield the Sandshrew from any more obscuring gunk, but it didn’t solve the present problem of the swiftly hardening mud currently in his eyes. Hailstone did technically know Powder Snow, but he could never successfully summon the light snowstorm; though, with the freezing rain pelting everything, maybe it wouldn’t be as difficult now. “See if you can Powder the area with Snow and strike everything around you, and if the Binacle hobbles in close for an attack, use the thumping of the boardwalk to direct where your Crush Claw will go!”

Hopefully Hailstone wouldn’t freeze her along with the barnacle.

Update 3:
Spoiler: show

Your first battle was off to a trying start, the unlikely catch gaining the upper hand through element of surprise. While Sandshrew efforts to wipe the gunk from his eyes you rack your brain for a battle strategy, orders carrying through the rainy pitter patter as you attempt to turn the tides. With his vision still hampered, Hailstone is first off the bat spinning into a breakdance which kicks up enough icy vapour to blanket the esplanade in Mist. The lone barnacle would have a hard time debuffing your stats so delivers some old-fashioned brute force, water molecules swelling around its face-hand as it smacks the Mouse Pokemon with Liquidation. The soggy strike sends Sandshrew skidding, albeit with less momentum than what a two-handed Binacle could deal. Water runs off Hailstone’s body as he picks himself up, the backsplash clearing his vision enough to open his eyes a slit. While the surrounds were still a blur he breaks into another summersault, kicking up a widespread flurry of Powder Snow which weathers away at the enemy’s rocky hide, parts of its rain-soaked surface freezing over. The ocean dweller fires off a shivery grimace, tapping into its Ancient Power to lob orbs of rocky energy Hailstone’s way. The barrage pelts Sandshrew’s igloo body a fair deal, the Alolan shaking off the hit before homing in with his heightened senses of smell and hearing. With the target coming into focus Hailstone delivers a Crush Claw which strikes true, the barnacle reeling before snapping back with a close quarter Water Gun. The dousing sends Sandshrew flip-flopping down the boardwalk, cleaning out his eyes at least as he wearily pushes back to his feet. With the battle taking its tole on both Pokemon it would be hard to pick a winner, synching victory would take everything you’ve got.

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show

Hailstone curled up into a ball and began to rotate faster and faster, spreading the icy vapor that arose from the rain droplets hitting his body out over the promenade, enveloping it in a protective Mist that would prevent the Binacle from causing any more stat drops.

Realizing that it could no longer rely on debuffs to turn the tide of battle, the grumpy Pokémon summoned a surge of water around its face, before slamming into Hailstone at a surprising breakneck speed, striking him with a Liquidation. The Sandshrew skidded across the wooden planks like a curling stone, the water sliding over his body and enabling him to open his eyes slightly.

Hailstone picked himself up, wincing a little at the pain as he slowly shook off the remaining droplets of water, before once again curling up and spinning, this time kicking up something with a bit more bite than mist. The frenzied flurry of Powder Snow struck the Binacle and caused some of the more soaked parts of the rock to freeze over with a shimmering layer of ice. The Pokémon shivered, its ugly face scrunched up even more in a grimace, before it reached down to its primal roots. Several orbs of rocky energy appeared beside the Binacle, before taking the shape of Ancient fossils, slamming into Hailstone with quite a bit of Power. Despite the blow, the Sandshrew’s mind was clear enough that he could get a lock on the barnacle’s position through hearing and smell, and he retaliated with a Crushing blow from his Claws. However, this also brought him rather close to the Binacle, who unleashed a close quarter Water Gun that sent the Sandshrew skidding once more. He slowly picked himself, weary and panting heavily from the exertion.

The toll of the battle was evident on the two Pokémon, who had resorted to glaring at each other as they paused to regain some of their strength, giving Sil a bit of time to strategize. The blows of the Binacle had crashed down on Hailstone like a tsunami, she thought, wearing him down frightfully quickly. Perhaps the key to victory wasn’t purely through brute force...

Sil looked over the Binacle for anything that might give her an idea, before focusing on the icy sheen that glimmered where parts of its body had frozen over.

“Hailstone,” she called out, “try to freeze the Binacle with more Powder Snows! If it unleashes a watery attack, try to see if you can freeze the water, and thus it too. If the barnacle goes for a more solid approach, blast it with the powdery gust while it prepares the attack.”

Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to bet everything on one move, but hopefully the successive gusts of icy flurries combined with the cold rain would be enough to freeze the Binacle solid, or at least freeze it to the boardwalk.

Update 4:
Spoiler: show

With the battle of the boardwalk pressing on both fighters were showing visible wear and tear, the scrappy Binacle proving a tough match even without its partner in crime. You concede that brute force might not be the be the easiest route and rely instead on your wits, even if it meant putting all your Exeggcute in one basket. Making note of the visible frosting up Binacle’s stalk you plan to double down on the sub-zero submission, hoping to chill the enemy into defeat. Hailstone nods affirmatively, bracing himself for impact as he weathers another high pressure Water Gun from the goose barnacle, this time managing to hold his ground against the slippery boardwalk. Shaking off the wet he cartwheels into retaliation, carpeting the field in another layer of Powdery Snow. The temperature starts to drop a few notches, numbing your face and extremities even from a spectator’s distance. That was nothing - at the epicenter of the icy tundra the frostbitten foe screeches in discomfort, hoping to wash away the snowy coat with its Liquidation while slapping your Sandshew silly in the process – but Hailstone denies it the chance with another icy flurry, the Powder Snow sending the swell of water around the Binacle’s face to below freezing! With the Binacle looking something like a frozen popsicle you had it teetering on the brink. It wouldn’t take much more to finish it off or even attempt capture, provided the cold didn’t take it first. What will you do?

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show

The Binacle launched another powerful jet of Water Gun, the high-pressured burst of water a glittering arc of spray despite the overcast lighting. It seemed the barnacle was hoping that the jet would knock down the Sandshrew again, giving it an opening for a follow-up strike. Hailstone, however, had braced himself for the surge by using his short tail to stabilize himself against the boardwalk, and managed to hold his ground against the torrential onslaught. Once the surge died down, Hailstone shook himself off before curling up into a tight, icy ball. He rotated faster and faster, kicking up a flurry of Powder Snow and blanketing the immediate area in a frigid layer of light snow. The air temperature dropped and Sil shivered as she felt the bite of the cold, numbing her face and extremities despite her considerable distance from the battlefield. If she was cold at this distance, she thought, then certainly the Binacle must be absolutely freezing considering it was the focus of the snowstorm.

An ear splitting screech of pain came from the iced Binacle, lying half buried in snow, confirming her suspicions. It looked more like an upside down icicle than a Swanna barnacle, its grumpy face contorted in an expression of agony and rage so pure Sil feared the Binacle would melt the snow just from the blazing heat of its anger. Unfortunately for the Binacle, its wrath wouldn’t be able to melt the snow, so instead it opted to wash it away with the power of a Liquidation, as well as punish Hailstone for pelting it with freezing flurries. Just as the wave of water surged to its peak around the barnacle’s face, however, the Sandshrew unleashed another burst of frigid snow, and this time the onslaught was enough to freeze the Binacle solid.

“Yes! Good job Hailstone!” Sil shouted. It looked as though the frozen, popsicle-esque barnacle was now weak enough to attempt a capture. Sil slid her bag off her back, and rifled around for the lone Diveball (1/1) she had bought expressly for this purpose. Curling her fingers around the ball, she lifted it out of her bag and took aim.

Hopefully she wouldn’t miss.

Update 5:
Spoiler: show

It was down to catch or KO and with your team short on diversity you decide squarely on the former. Throwing caution to the wind you brandish a Dive Ball, one eye closed as you take aim on the frostbitten target. Your pitch isn’t bad for a rookie, arcing through the rain and striking the lone Binacle on its stem. Any sense of suspense is fleeting however as the ball unceremoniously ricochets off the target and down the promenade without so much as cracking open. The Dive Ball holds it momentum as its bounces off into the distance – while dumbfounded at its failure to activate, you’re not about to let your only one slip off into the murky depths. With Binacle going nowhere fast, you follow the special pokeball’s bearing down to where the promenade met with the beach, the sand wet and compact and doing nothing to slow the runaway item. It eventually comes to a stop against a small, capsized sailboat being hauled in from the waters by a woman in her mid-twenties. She was deceptively strong for her size, rainboots planted firm in the ground as she tugged at the rope mooring the vessel with all her might. She wore a pair of rainsoaked dungarees atop her bathing suit, hair tied in a tight ponytail sans for the few wet strands clinging to her face and neck. You pocket the Dive Ball for later use before turning your attention to the girl, who raises her hands in exasperation.

“My boat- look at what that thing is doing to my boat!” she yells, “Think you could help me dislodge it before it causes any more damage?” You notice the hull is pockmarked with punctures; poring over the damage you see a familiar face rear its ugly head, the Binacle snickering before disappearing back into the hull like the sort of Whack-a-Diglett game you would find in an arcade. Through some coincidence you were face to face with the Binacle’s other half, it would stand to reason that if capturing them separately didn’t work you might have better luck by reuniting them. How will you react?

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show

Sil closed one eye and took aim, holding her arm steady before chucking the Diveball straight at the Binacle. She and Hailstone watched as it arced swiftly through the pelting rain and struck the barnacle right on its long arm-stem part, the suspense heavy in the air as they held their breath. However, to their shock, the ball’s capture mechanism didn’t activate; instead it ricocheted off the frozen Pokémon, bouncing down the boardwalk towards the beach and gloomy ocean at a nerve racking pace. With no time to ponder the ball’s failure to activate and too fearful to lose it to the murky depths, the two of them raced after the runaway ball, nearly falling down as they ran at top speed across the slippery rain-soaked wood.

The ball skidded towards the edge of the boardwalk, and Sil and Hailstone watched in horror as the Diveball fell off, bouncing forcefully on the hardened sand which did little to slow its roll down the beach at breakneck speed. Fortunately, all was not lost as the ball came to a crashing stop against an overturned sailboat, the soaked vessel being dragged ashore by a very frustrated and waterlogged woman. Her rain soaked ponytail bobbed about with each pull and her teeth were clenched so tightly with strain that she could probably crush diamond between them. Too desperate to re-obtain the runaway Diveball, the two of them ran past her, the woman too busy tugging on the rope to notice their panicked rush, before finally reaching it. Sil gingerly held it in her hands, fearful of dropping the ball and losing it to the hungry waves, before pocketing it and turning her attention to the stressed-out woman, who threw up her hands in frustration.

“My boat--look at what that thing is doing to my boat!” the woman shouted. Turning to Sil and Hailstone, she said “Think you could help me dislodge it before it causes any more damage?” The two of them turned their attention to the capsized vessel, which they now noticed was riddled with holes. As Sil inspected the extent of the damage, Hailstone stepped forward and began to sniff the entrance of one of the punctures, squeaking quizzically at the strangely familiar scent. Before Sil could ask the Sandshrew what was puzzling him, a hideous and grumpy looking, albeit familiar, face burst forth from the hole--another lone Binacle!--before disappearing back into the depths of the hull with a snicker.

Hailstone squeaked louder and more confidently as he turned and gestured towards the boardwalk.

“You think this Binacle is the partner of the one we just fought?” Sil asked, and Hailstone nodded in response. Perhaps the Diveball didn’t work because the two hands of the Binacle were seperated, Sil thought. “Maybe we have to bring them together for the capture mechanism to activate,” she said to the Sandshrew.

Sil turned back to the woman. “Yeah, I think we might be able to dislodge the barnacle. Hailstone, could you please plug all of the holes except one with Ice Shard?” she said. Blocking almost all of the holes would hopefully make their job easier; now onto actually removing the bothersome barnacle.

Sil bit her lip nervously. Hailstone was weakened from his battle with the first Binacle and she had no healing items, while this barnacle looked fit as ever. She glanced down at the Sandshrew, who was lost in thought, but before she could ask him if he felt that he was agile enough that he could avoid all of the Binacle’s attacks, he began to dig in the sand. Unsure if she should interrupt him with her question, she watched as he took the sand he dug out and patted it into two small, irregular-looking spheres, freezing the leftmost one. Hailstone then proceeded to roll them together before looking at Sil.

Surely she would get it.

Sil bent down and patted Hailstone’s head. “I know we have to bring the two together--I just said that, silly. The question is how. I don’t know if you can outlast this Binacle after the fight with the first. Do you think you could avoid all of its attacks?”

Unfortunately she didn’t.

Hailstone shook his head--Sandshrew had sacrificed agility and speed somewhere along their evolution for a hard, protective shell. He would have to take a few blows, and his hard shell wouldn't be of much use considering how weakened he was. But fighting wasn’t the only way they could coax this barnacle out of the boat.

He dug another ball out of the sand, this one much larger than the other two. He tapped it before assuming a human-like pose and made a few high pitched squeaks.

“That’s me?” Sil asked. Hailstone nodded.

He then tapped the smaller, unfrozen ball and made a few more squeaks, before rolling it to the largest ball.

Sil’s brow furrowed. “You want me… to talk to the Binacle in the boat… and convince it to dislodge and come to me?” He nodded again. Now she was getting it.

The gears started to turn in her head. The two Binacle clearly didn’t like being separated. That was probably why the first one lashed out, and the second one most likely attacked the boat to get the sailor to return to the shore, closer to its lost partner. Perhaps she could convince this one to dislodge if she promised to bring it to the other Binacle.

Sil stared at the boat. She feared it wouldn’t go over well if they/when they brought the Binacle to its partner that they had just finished fighting. Hopefully the two would be happy enough reunited that they could overlook the fact that Hailstone had turned the first one into an icy popsicle.

Update 6:
Spoiler: show

“I think the little guy could be onto something…” the girl with the sailboat muses, “I only noticed the leaks on my boat shortly after taking her out, so the Binacle couldn’t have drifted far from the jetty before that. I wonder if the storm separated them?” It was merely conjecture, but Hail’s instincts were as good a lead as any as you work up a plan to unify the two halves. First up, you’d need to peg down the second Binacle who was popping in and out of view with a look of unbridled mischief. With a few breakneck jabs, the Snowshrew sends a volley of Icy Shards raining down on the capsized vessel like darts against a dartboard. The sub-zero spines plug all but one of the holes, giving the Binacle nowhere to hide as you clear your throat and ready diplomacy efforts. While much is lost in translation the Two-Handed Pokemon comes to an understanding in time, cheeks puffing at the mere mention of its sibling. It seemed bringing them back together would be easier said than done, until a methodical thud and skid from behind breaks your reverie…

Lo and behold, it was the other Binacle! Still semi-frozen it was digging its claw in the sand and lugging its rock housing down the beach with all its might. It would stand to reason that the sea dweller had been on your tail from the second it began to thaw, bent on revenge. The moment it spots its sibling though its vendetta seems to dissipate, the frosted Binacle making a beeline for the vessel instead. The family reunion is a little more hostile than expected, the Binacle in the rock attempting to yank its other half out of the vessel – met by a comical backslap in retaliation. The back and forth slapping and screeching is near impossible to decipher, but you get the impression that the two Binacle had reach an impasse regarding their lodgement; the Binacle latched to the boat had felt the call to adventure when the sailor passed by while the other was a stubborn homebody, content in the safety of its quayside refuge. If there was one thing they could agree on it was that being separated wasn’t working well for either of them – although perhaps you had a solution that would satisfy both parties, sating one’s appetite for adventure while offering security to the other. You’d need to split them up first though; it would be difficult to get a word in edgeways between their fisticuffs.

Reply 6:
Spoiler: show

The sailor watched Hailstone’s little skit and his frustration at his trainer with a bemused and curious eye, before piping up, “I think the little guy could be onto something… I only noticed the leaks on my boat shortly after taking her out, so the Binacle couldn’t have drifted far from the jetty before that. I wonder if the storm separated them?” Sil nodded. While it was a guess, it was an educated one at that, and the only lead they had.

She glanced at Hailstone, who nodded before readying himself. With a quick wave of his paws, the Sandshrew swiftly flash froze the rain and water vapor in the air into chunks of ice that glittered and sparkled despite the gloomy sky. With surprising speed, he hurled each Shard of Ice at every hole but one as the Binacle dove into the hull for safety, each frozen dart hitting their mark with surprising accuracy. With all holes but one now plugged, there was only one entrance and exit to the hull, and the Binacle could no longer hide itself amongst the plethora of holes, forced to remain by the sole opening. Now with the Binacle effectively trapped, Sil walked toward the only opening and cleared her throat before crouching down.

“Um… hey there little guy,” she said, in an attempt to get the Binacle’s attention and coax it out of hiding. At the sound of her voice, the Binacle popped its head out of the hole and gave her a stern glare, its pouty face curling even further down into a frown. However, despite its clear annoyance, the barnacle did not retreat into the hull of the boat, instead opting to watch the strange human with wary eyes.

Sil slowly held up her hands in an attempt to appear non-threatening--the Binacle seemed to be on edge after the volley of icy spikes that nearly skewered it. “I’m not going to hurt you, okay? I just want to talk,” she said to the Pokémon, whose hostile expression seemed to soften a little even if it couldn’t fully understand her.

“I know Binacle come in pairs,” she said, “but you’re here all alone. It’s clear you've lost your other half.” The Binacle tilted its head a little. Sil wasn’t sure how much was getting through, but it looked like the Binacle understood some of what she said.

“We,” Sil gestured at herself and Hailstone, “just had a run in with another singular Binacle that was anchored to a rock. One that seems to have a scent pretty similar to yours, according to Hailstone’s nose.” Hailstone squeaked a couple times to the Binacle, attempting his best to clarify what Sil was saying. Slowly, the barnacle’s face lit up as it realized its partner wasn’t so lost after all.

“Why don’t we take you to it?” Sil said, extending her hand to the crustacean. The Binacle nodded and--

THUD!

The group turned their heads to the source of the loud sound, staring in shock. Standing dramatically defiant in the rain, and shivering due to the cold stemming from the glistening chunk of ice that encased half of its body, was the other Binacle. Face wrought with anger, the barnacle dragged itself across the sand with its claw, hellbent on getting revenge on Sil and Hailstone for turning it into a popsicle. However, the Binacle’s vendetta swiftly evaporated as its gaze fixed upon the second Binacle in the boat, and the Pokémon darted surprisingly fast towards its missing partner.

The three observers, expecting a touching reconciliation, were quite shocked when the reunion took a more hostile turn. The rocky Binacle scowled as it attempted to pull the other one out of the boat, before getting smacked in response. There was a moment of silence as the two glared at each other before all hell broke loose as the two descended into slapping and screeching at each other, their faces puffed out and grumpier than ever.

While it was hard at first to figure out what the Binacle were arguing over, through a bit of Hailstone translating with more clumps of sand, Sil learned the two had come to a disagreement of sorts. The barnacle attached to the rock preferred to remain in the refuge of Fizzby Harbor, safe and steady, while the barnacle in the boat yearned to travel the world and saw the sailboat as an opportunity for adventure. Their desires were at opposites with each other, but they couldn’t function apart, and they couldn’t figure out a compromise.

But maybe…

Sil pulled the Diveball out of her pocket, staring at the wavy ocean pattern, the gears turning in her head like hyperactive Klink.

Pokémon trainers explored all over the world, right? And their Pokémon could choose to remain in the safety of their Pokéballs. Perhaps she could convince the two Binacle to join her and Hailstone on their journey around Fizzytopia. The more adventurous one would be able to explore the world while the homebody would still have the benefit of security.

But first, they had to separate the two fighting crustaceans; they were currently too distracted with their argument that any attempts at talking to them would be fruitless.

Sil turned to the Sandshrew, who seemed to be thinking something similar. “Hailstone, could you please Dig between the two Binacle without actually hitting them? You might be able to break up their fight that way. Then I can come in and make my offer,” she said.

Update 7:
Spoiler: show

With tensions rising you opt to drive a literal wedge between the feuding family. Hailstone shovels at the sand until he’s completely burrowed, homing in on the slap-happy siblings and sandwiching between them. While a hide clad of ice and iron offers some buffer from the smacks the Sandshrew looks in visible discomfort; he’s spared of any further beating soon enough as the space driven manages to free the Two-Handed Pokemon from its frenzy, allowing you to step forward and sheepishly state your case. The language barrier was tricky to bypass but this wasn’t your first rodeo, the pair quick enough deciphering your words and gestures. They lock eyes with each other in unison, huffed-up faces slacking as they seemingly agree to set aside their differences and take up your offer of sanctuary. The siblings then join hands in a sort of handshake, the one in the rock yanking the other out from the boat without resistance, finding it a place by its side. In spite of its resting grimace, the Binacle appears content in its restored unity, one of the pair elongating to tap your Dive Ball before the other can change its mind. The ball cracks open and swallows the Binacle in a flash of light, giving off a slight tussle before coming to a stop, a resounding click indicating success.

You caught a Lv.11 Male Binacle It knows the EM Helping Hand and TM Liquidation!

Sandshrew gained 3 levels!

“You two make quite the pair of mediators,” the woman with the boat giggles, “I’m Atla by the way, what are your names?” She offers a handshake before returning to her boat, taking advantage of its capsized position to mend the punctures caused by Binacle proper. Shuffling underneath the vessel she becomes so absorbed in the repairs you almost wonder if she’s forgotten your presence, in two minds whether to wait for her to resurface or just be on your merry way. She appears to sense the uncertainty as she slides out from under the boat with an adventurous smile on her face.

“The storm looks to be passing,” she remarks, catching some of the gentle pitter-patter in her palm, “I’m thinking of taking her back out if you cared to join? I’m a wreck diver you see, and storms have a tendency to shift the ocean floor around, unearthing all sorts of hidden treasures.” With another feat of strength Atla tips the boat back to its upside, before rummaging through its lazarette and handing you and your teammates each a Fresh Water. It was true that the troubled skies were starting to ease off, its clouds wringing out the last drops of rain. The choppy surf below had calmed too, the clamour of crashing waves replaced by the gentle bob and creak of sailboats tugging on their moorings; with a seasoned navigator and a water-type teammate in your midst perhaps an expedition out sea wouldn’t be so daunting after all.

“So, what do you say? It’s the least I could do for your help saving my boat!”

Reply 7:
Spoiler: show

Hailstone flexed his tiny claws; while his ancestors might have lost the Ground typing long ago, he was still adept at Digging. Scratching rapidly at the sand, he swiftly burrowed between the two arguing Binacle, wincing a little as he surfaced, feeling the sting of their slaps even through his tough icy and steely hide. However, despite their blows, Hailstone managed to wedge himself between the two barnacles, stopping their fight in the process. Now, with an opportunity to get an ear in, Sil cleared her throat to get their attention before giving her offer, hoping that she wouldn’t appear too nervous; she hoped she wouldn’t just cause another rift in their relationship.

“It’s, uh, clear the two of you are at an impasse,” she said. “One of you wants to go out and explore the wider world; the other wishes to remain safe and secure in the harbor. And I can tell you two can’t function without each other, so you can’t just go your separate ways. You guys are stuck in a situation where neither of you are happy, right? But… um... I think I have a solution that will satisfy you both without splitting you guys up.” ” She paused to let her words sink in with a bit of translation help from the Sandshrew.

“You see, Hailstone and I want to explore all over Fizzytopia. And, um,” she turned to the Binacle in the rock, seeing its face form into a frown at the mention of exploration, “D-despite how scary and, uh, not-secure that might seem, we’ll still have some stability and safety. There’ll probably be lots of inns and hotels and such that we can stay at. And, if he chooses too, Hailstone can return to his Pokéball for security, resting time, and, uh, so on.” She held out the Diveball to each Binacle. “While I’ve never been inside a Pokéball, I’ve, um, heard they’re very comfortable… and they can even carry heavy Pokémon, or items that the Pokémon hold, like a, uh, rock,” she said. Hailstone gave her a nudge; now was the time to make her offer. “What I’m getting at here is… my solution for you both, is, um…” she coughed nervously. “Would you two like to join me and Hailstone on our journey?” she finally said.

The two Binacle seemed to deflate as they digested her words and locked eyes with each other, the fight long behind them. Slowly, the two grabbed each other in a handshake-like motion, before the Binacle in the rock pulled the other out and gently placed it in the rocky hole beside it. One of them reached out and tapped the Diveball, the sphere opening with a click and swallowing the Pokémon in a burst of blue light.

The Diveball made one shake... two shakes... three shakes… CLICK!

The sailor chuckled. “You two make quite the pair of mediators,” she said. “I’m Atla by the way, what are your names?” she asked before offering a handshake. “The Sandshrew is Hailstone,“ Sil said, trying not to wince at the woman’s iron grip, “And I’m Silver, but you can just me Sil for short. As for the Binacle… um… I think we’ll call them Limestone collectively. Lime for the one in the boat, and Stone for the one that was anchored in the rock.”

Atla nodded, before returning to her boat, mending the holes created by the Binacle. She ducked under the vessel to continue her repairings, the minutes ticking by in an awkward silence. Sil fidgeted uncomfortably, fiddling with the hem of her shirt, unsure if Atla had forgotten she was there. However, just when she thought about leaving, Atla reappeared from under the boat with a wide grin on her face.

“The storm looks to be passing,” she said, looking up at the light grey clouds, “I’m thinking of taking her back out if you cared to join? I’m a wreck diver you see, and storms have a tendency to shift the ocean floor around, unearthing all sorts of hidden treasures.”

Sil looked out over the ocean. It did seem like the last drops of rain were falling, and the foreboding grey clouds were giving way to a patchwork sky of blue and white. And the waves had calmed down too, gently lapping at the shoreline sand...

As she mulled it over, Atla opened a storage container and handed her, Hailstone, and Limestone a Fresh Water each. Sil stared at the bottle in her hand as her thoughts tumbled about in her head; with both a Water type and an experienced diver on hand, maybe such an expedition wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.

“So, what do you say?” Alta said with a cheerful smile, “It’s the least I could do for your help saving my boat!”

Sil looked over at Hailstone and Limestone, who all had an adventurous glimmer in their eyes, even the homebody Binacle. It seemed like they had all made up their minds.

“I think we’ll take you up on your offer.”

Update 8:
Spoiler: show

“You will?!” She grabs your hands in enthusiasm, “Thanks so much Sil, I’m not sure if I could have braved going alone!” Those final words linger for a moment but it is much too late for second thoughts, the diver making final preparations to set sail. It was a modest boat compared to the countless others moored about the pier, yet it was sound and seaworthy enough to take to the waters. Your party find comfortable seating at the front of the deck while Atla parks herself at the stern of the vessel, tugging the engine’s pull string until it grumbled to life. The propeller pushes the boat out from the docks from there, setting course for the open ocean.

From out sea you had an amazing view of the cape, the fishermen dotted about its coast looking like small Durant. It was a bumpy ride as your vessel sliced through the waves in eruptions of foamy spray, a school of Lanturn diving in and out of the water beside you in curiosity. The visibility beneath was improving too, several Dragalge wading inconspicuously through the fields of seaweed. After about ten minutes or so the city’s signature skyline was nothing but a shrinking silhouette, and a wide berth from all the seat traffic several bleached but lively coral beds began to carpet the ocean floor. The boat’s propeller comes to a halt and an anchor drops down into the trenches with a thud, keeping the vessel from drifting.

Atla lends a hand zipping up your wetsuit as well as finding a pair of fins close enough to your size, which you wrestle on like a great pair of Empoleon flippers. You then each heave on the oxygen tank which tug at your back like a rucksack full of bricks, the strap of your masks snapping against the back of your head as the deck suddenly looked a whole lot blurrier. A small air gauge dangles from the tanks fastening to your waist, its dial fixed on 200 bars of oxygen allowing for about an hour of marine exploration. In lacking a pintsize stock of scuba gear for Hailstone, it looked like he would have to keep watch on the surface; Limestone on the other hand would be more than comfortable peddling alongside you, having grown up in these same waters. Atla thinks it prudent to bring company along for the dive too, brandishing a Net Ball which she lobs down the deck, cracking open with a shimmer reveal a Dewpider; the skittish bug looked a match for your scuba gear as it crawled up the diver’s body and gave her an affectionate nuzzle, soaking her with its water bubble in the process.

“I’ll go after you, to make sure you don’t hurt yourself of course… It’s not hard though!” Her reassuring smile helps to ease your nerves some, “You just have to put in your breathing apperatus and fall into the water back first!” Shuffling to the edge of the boat there was nothing else for it but to let go of your inhibitions and take the plunge...

Reply 8:
Spoiler: show

As soon as Sil gave her answer, Atla’s face broke out in a wide smile and her eyes sparkled with happiness.

“You will?!” She grabbed both of Sil’s hands in a tight grasp, barely able to contain her joy. “Thanks so much Sil, I’m not sure if I could have braved going alone,” she said, and Sil felt a knot of worry form in her stomach at her words.

“I’m not sure if I could have braved going alone…” I thought she had experience in wreck diving? What am I getting myself into? Sil thought. She glanced down at Hailstone, who looked similarly worried. But despite their concern she couldn’t muster up the courage to call off the dive, Atla’s glee making her feel guilty at even the thought. And, at any rate, it was too late for that now--Atla was already setting up the final preparations to set sail.

With a strong yank, the diver tugged at the engine’s chord until it roared to life and the party sped out from the docks. While the boat was rather modest compared to the luxury liners anchored near the pier, the newly formed group still found comfortable seating at the front of the deck.

From their perch, they had a fantastic view of the coastline--the fisherman dotted along the seafront like tiny Durant, a streak of white where the surf met the shore, the twinkingly city skyline rapidly disappearing behind them. However, the amazing views weren’t limited to the distant shore and city. Right below the boat, they got a view of a school of Lanturn, their glowing lures like stars in the night sky, who leapt out of the water, just as curious as they were, and a few Dragalge wading between the seaweed, nearly indistinguishable from the kelp forest. As they sped out further a few beds of coral began to appear, bleached but still lively, a plethora of fish Pokémon swimming about them.

Finally, the boat’s propeller whirred to a stop, and the anchor was lowered into the depths, a softened thud rising from the waters. Atla handed Sil a wetsuit, helping her to zip it up, as well as a pair of relatively fitting flippers, which Sil awkwardly tugged onto her feet, waddling around like an Eiscue as she went to pick up the heavy oxygen tank, which weighed down on her back. She fitted the mask over her head, the lens a little blurry and scratched from use, before attaching the air gauge to her wrist, the needle hovering at roughly 200 bars of oxygen, providing about an hour of exploration. Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps) for Hailstone, Atla lacked a Sandshrew sized and shaped scuba outfit, so he was constrained to keeping watch from the boat. Limestone, on the other hand, would be more than happy exploring these waters considering the two Binacle had spent their entire life swimming around here. However, Limestone would not be the only Pokémon assisting them; with a flick of her wrist, Atla tossed a Net Ball that opened with a net-like flash, and a small spider Pokémon that looked uncannily similar to the scuba gear burst forth. The Dewpider swiftly skittered up onto her shoulder, giving the diver a little nuzzle with its water bubble.

She flashed Sil a reassuring smile before providing some instructions, “I’ll go after you, to make sure you don’t hurt yourself of course… It’s not hard though! You just have to put in your breathing apparatus and fall into the water back first!”

Sil nodded, before turning to Limestone. “You guys have experience with this area right? Could you please jump in first and lend a Helping Hand if Atla, her Dewpider, or I need it? Thanks.”

The Binacle hobbled to the edge, lugging their rock with them, before peering into the blue. Seeing that it was clear, they leapt into the ocean with a spray of foam and water droplets. The two surfaced a bit ways from the boat (the mechanics of how a mystery considering their attachment to the heavy rock) to give her and Atla some room. Lime felt his excitement bubble up inside him, not only would they explore part of the reef, he and Stone would also have a chance to be super helpful too. Stone, however, frowned with concern; he knew how hectic the ocean could get.

Once Limestone settled, Sil waddled to the edge of the boat, feeling the Butterfree flutter in her stomach, and turned around, preparing for the plunge. With deep breath, she steadied her nerves, put on her breathing apparatus, and then took the plunge.

Update 9:
Spoiler: show

With a last breath of fresh air, you slip off the boat and into the deep blue. Bubbles rush off the rubbery wetsuit as your ears fill with the hum of ocean, muffling the caws of Wingull flying overhead. While your hearing was dulled your vision was clear, goggles providing a perfect view of the reef below. Your eyes widen as the coral glistened in muted tones against refracted flecks of sunlight, a far cry from a tropical reef yet still was teeming with its own assortment of wildlife. Eager to get a closer look you give your flippers a kick, turning your head in awe as a school of Mantine intercept your marine decent. One of the Mantyke brushes past Limestone - struggling to paddle in tow due to his rocky anchorage – who shakes a claw scoldingly while the juvenile stingray glided out of sight. Closer to the seabed you make out a few well-camouflaged Octillery slinking from beneath one rock to another.

“Pretty cool, huh?” exclaims Atla in a muffled tone, “Looks like the walky-talkies built into our scuba masks are in working order too, even your Pokemon should have no problem hearing your commands. Now, let’s head this way.” She ushers you to follow her into the deeper trenches toward a fissure in the seabed, the Dewpider on her flank proving more adept beneath the water than above it. Kicking your flippers as fast as you can to keep up, you find the colourful and lively atmosphere of the shoals replaced with gloomier fixtures, bits of broken coral and fish bones sending shivers down your spine. You continue to submerge until you uncover a rusted frigate, choked in seaweed and strewn with colonies of Binacle not dissimilar your own. The warship had been lost to the murky depths long ago by the looks of things, and yet still evoked a feeling of mystique. Atla paddles excitedly to what looks like a hatch, giving the door’s wheel a budge to no avail. She ushers you in for a closer look, wiping away some of the slime from its surface to reveal a set of instructions:

Turn the wheel clockwise and counterclockwise to the correct three-digit increments to open.​

You notice from there that the wheel featured numbers from 001 to 999 inscribed in a circle, similar to a dial you might turn to open a safe. “Look below,” Atla points to an inscription below the wheel, “It’s either a crudely written poem, or a riddle of sorts. Perhaps it’ll give us a clue on how to open this hatch?”

The Emperor commanded his ships to sail Right,
The armies Left swiftly on their Transport,
And in their Discipline were sent Right to a watery grave.​

“Well, I’m stumped – does this mean anything to you?”

Reply 9:
Spoiler: show

SPLOOSH!

A blast of bubbles flowed off Sil’s wetsuit, rushing towards the surface as she dove in. The water muffled her ears, dampening the squawks of the circling Wingull soaring high above the water. Her eyesight, unlike her hearing, wasn’t reduced, the goggles allowing for clear view of the reef below despite their wear and tear. Sunlight dappled the coral, muted in color due to their bleached condition but still teeming with a plethora of aquatic Pokémon. Sil kicked a little to get in closer, watching in awe as a school of Mantine and Mantyke swam past. One of the stingrays, a small Mantyke, bumped Limestone, the Binacle struggling to keep up with their hefty rock. Lime scowled after the Kite Pokémon as it swam into the deep blue while Stone just shook his head. Sil smiled to herself at the two, before her attention was drawn to the seabed, some Octillery in her peripheral shifting their camouflage as they glided across the rocks.

“Pretty cool, huh?” Atla said, her muffled voice coming from a speaker in the mask. “Looks like the walkie-talkies built into our scuba masks are in working order too, even your Pokémon should have no problem hearing your commands. Now, let’s head this way,” she said, gesturing towards a wide fissure in the deeper trenches ahead of them, her little Dewpider agilely swimming ahead of her. As they descended deeper and deeper, the reef gave way to a more foreboding atmosphere, with broken corals and stark bones replacing the lively Pokémon from the shoal, sending shivers down Sil’s spine; now she sort of understood why Atla was afraid of going alone. She glanced over at Limestone, however, if either Binacle was afraid, they didn’t show it, not even the worrywort Stone.

Soon, out of the murky waters a sunken frigate appeared. The ship was so covered in seaweed and Binacle colonies reaching out into the gloom for marine snow that it was hard to see the actual boat underneath, rusted and rotted due to years and years of lying at the bottom of the trench. Atla scanned the outside of the boat, before swiftly paddling to what appeared to be a hatch, free from the choking seaweed and barnacles. The diver tried to twist the door’s wheel but the hatch didn’t budge, even with the assistance of her Dewpider. The two looked over it once more, before the diver wiped away some of the grime. She gestured to Sil and Limestone, pointing at an inscription on the door:

Turn the wheel clockwise and counterclockwise to the correct three-digit increments to open.

Wrapped around near the edge of the wheel, Sil noticed, were numbers from 001 to 999, similar to the dial of a lock or safe. Atla then pointed at something scrawled beneath the wheel. “Look below,” she said, “It’s either a crudely written poem, or a riddle of sorts. Perhaps it’ll give us a clue on how to open this hatch?”

The Emperor commanded his ships to sail Right,
The armies Left swiftly on their Transport,
And in their Discipline were sent Right to a watery grave.

“Well, I’m stumped – does this mean anything to you?”

Hmmmm… Sil thought. The capitalized directions, right and left, seemed to be indicators of which direction she should turn the wheel: right first, then left, and then right again. However, she was puzzled by the capitalized nouns: emperor, transport, and discipline. None of them seemed to share anything in common. Maybe it’s based upon the number of letters in each word, Sil thought, but that seems a little too obvious. It has to be something else, but what exactly… ?

Sil’s train of thought was interrupted as she watched Limestone awkwardly swim over to the wheel. Lime wrapped his head claws on the wheel, and with a discussion too muffled by the water to be heard by the observers, Stone also reluctantly placed his head claws in a similar position opposite Lime. Paying no heed to the inscription, the two attempted to open the door to no avail. No matter how hard they twisted and tugged, the door wouldn’t open. However, despite their failure, Sil was still impressed by their handiness--they were in sync, more like the hands of a person rather than two independently-minded Pokémon.

They certainly live up to their category, the Two-Handed Pokémon, Sil thought.

Category… category… category… wait a minute! Two of the words inscribed on the hull door, emperor and transport, are Pokémon categories. Maybe it’s connected to that!

“I, uh, think it might have to do with Pokémon categories.” Sil said. “You see, I'm, uh, from Sinnoh, and, one of the starters from the region’s top professor is Piplup, and its final evolution is known as Empoleon. During gym matches and such on TV, the announcers will state some information about the challenger’s Pokémon, including their category.”

Sil pointed to the words scrawled under the wheel, feeling her confidence build. “Empoleon is known as the Emperor Pokémon, and I know Lapras is the Transport Pokémon--you can find them in Sinnoh’s Victory Road, that’s how I know,” Sil said. “But who's the Discipline Pokémon? I suspect it might be a Water type considering both Lapras and Empoleon are both Water types, but beyond that… wait, my Pokédex. I could search by category.”

She looked at her left wrist, where a small waterproof screen linked wirelessly to her Pokédex was. With a few taps on the touchscreen, she brought up the search function and typed “Discipline Pokémon” into the search bar. A few seconds later, the results flashed on screen. There was only one entry for Discipline Pokémon...

“Dewott--that seems to be our third Pokémon,” Sil said. “Empoleon the Emperor Pokémon, Lapras the Transport Pokémon, Dewott the Discipline Pokémon… how do those connect to numbers?”

Sil glanced back down at the screen on her wrist, before her eyes focused on the little number towards the top of the screen, 502, Dewott’s Pokédex number. Several quick taps later she brought up the pages for Lapras and Empoleon, and took note of their Pokédex numbers too. Maybe that’s what she was looking for.

“I think,” Sil said, getting her thoughts in order, “I think we need to first turn the wheel clockwise to 395, then counterclockwise to 131, and then clockwise to 502.”

Sil paused for a moment as she glanced at the gauge attached to her right wrist.

“Atla, how much time do we have left? And, um, after we unlock the door, do you think we’ll have a shot at breaking it off using our Pokémon? Maybe I’m paranoid, but I’m a little afraid of it shutting on us and locking us in. Maybe my Binacle could smash the hinges with Liquidation.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

High above the trench, a boat bobbed on the waves, with only a lone icy Sandshrew as its passenger.

Hailstone sat near the edge of the ship, peering into the deep blue below, lost in thought. After the diving party had disappeared from his sight, he had spent a few minutes tossing Ice Shards into the water to distract himself from his worry, watching them sink into the sea like frozen missiles, but his concern got the best of him.

He scratched absent-mindely at the life vest awkwardly fitted over him. He figured the group had swam down to the deepest of trenches, having watched them slowly descend downwards into the pit of the sea, too dark and deep for him to see from the surface. Even Dewpider and Limestone, despite their Water typing, might not be able to handle whatever swam in those waters.

...

He hoped their dive would be uneventful...

Update 10:
Spoiler: show

While Hailstone was relegated to minding the deck, unstimulated as he idly skimmed shards above – the scuba divers were decidedly overstimulated, stumped by the warship’s riddle below. You rack your brain as precious time ticks on, wondering if you would have to blast the door open through brute force. Soon enough a brainwave hits and the encrypted message becomes clear as water. Your smartwatch has no problem functioning under the extreme conditions, churning out the increments needed to twist the wheel and open the hatch. Atla seems a little sceptical at first, an err of caution as she followed your directions, twisting away against years of rust. You feel a sense of satisfaction as the door unbolts on the third turn, granting passage to the sunken ship’s innards.

“Well aren’t you a bright spark,” Atla grins, manoeuvring herself above the hatch in preparation for descent, “We still have plenty of air left, about an hour if I had to guess. Don’t worry Sil, we’ll be in and out in a jiffy.” Lime was decidedly sold as he peddled ahead, Stone shooting a look of protest as he’s pulled along for the ride. You take the Binacle’s flank, curious at least to see what lay at the end of the dank tunnelway. On entry you’re swallowed by pitch black, the diver flicking on a pair of flashlights and passing one back to you to restore your vision.

The narrow passage brings you to a hull shrouded in algae, a rotting skeleton of rust and decay. It must have been a fine vessel in its heyday - fitted with sophisticated sonar equipment and weapons stations - but the ship lay quite forgotten in its demise, bit by bit becoming a part of ocean floor which eroded it relentlessly. In a century’s time it wouldn't even be a memory. While it was an eerie setting Atla was simply awestruck, setting her Dewpider to scour the crevices for lost treasures. The first trinket that catches their attention is the ship’s wheel, noticeably damaged with six spokes and just four handles, stubs where two had been lost. There was a compass fixed to one side of the wheel, resembling the eye of a familiar Pokemon... It would be worth a pretty penny even in its condition, the forager removing it from its axle and strapping it to her side. Beside where the wheel had been you notice a captain’s log, still barely legible after all the years:

The boss’s plan to awaken Kyogre was a success and soon the world will return to its beginnings.
All dreadnaughts have been commanded to return to the Hoenn region immediately.
I pray the sea grants us safe passage – even from this far off land we feel ripples of the ocean’s wrath.​

“DEWY!” Bubbles rush from Atla’s mouth, her exclamation snapping you from your reverie. She was visibly shaken, one hand covering her mouth while another pointed ahead. You follow its direction to what looked like an old Bewear trap, no doubt sprung by the scavenging spider. Its metal teeth were clamped tight, the Dewpider within showing visible resistance from the inside. It appeared the Galarian Stunfisk wasn’t about to let up easily, you’d need to pry it open from the outside or else risk aquatic arachnid becoming fish food. What will you do?

Reply 10:
Spoiler: show

Below the boat and the Sandshrew, the two divers racked their brains as they tried to solve the riddle, the clock weighing heavily on their minds as their oxygen slowly depleted.

Sil felt panic bubbling up inside her every moment she breathed, and in a moment of desperation entertained the idea of just bashing open the door, studying the hinges for a weak spot. Fortunately, a bolt of inspiration from Limestone gave her the brainwave she needed, and probably with more air than she should, she hastily told Atla of her idea. The diver gave her a skeptical look, or, at least it looked skeptical--it was hard to tell due to the mask--but cautiously followed her lead anyway, slowly placing her hands on the wheel beside Sil’s. The two divers turned the dilapidated object, struggling a little as it scraped and grinded against the years of rust.

CLANK!

As the wheel clockwise to 502, it unbolted with a satisfying clang and a pop. The door swung open with an ominous grinding sound, a gateway to the dark unknowns. Atla and her Dewpider swam over the hatch, preparing to enter. “Well aren’t you a bright spark,” she said, “We still have plenty of air left, about an hour if I had to guess. Don’t worry Sil, we’ll be in and out in a jiffy.” And with a kick of her flippers, the diver swam into the ship, her Dewpider darting alongside her.

Sil and Limestone followed their lead, swimming in hesitantly after them. Lime was twisting every which way with excitement trying to take in everything he saw--not much, considering the darkness--while Stone tried to sink deeper into his rocky home, frowning with disapproval. Sil swam beside the two and tried to give Stone a reassuring smile through the mask. Once the darkness closed around them, Atla turned on a pair of flashlights, handing one over to Sil.

The claustrophobic hallway opened up to the hull, rusted beyond repair, the area covered in a green carpet of algae. Despite the severe state of decay, from what Sil could see the ship appeared to have been quite the vessel during its sailing days, decked out with all sorts of interesting tech. However, now it was pitiful, forgotten and left to rot in despair at the bottom of the ocean. An eerie setting to be sure, the gloomy atmosphere making Sil’s (and Stone’s) stomachs twist in nervousness. Atla on the other hand was fascinated, her Dewpider scuttling over and in every crevice for hidden treasures. The little spider scanned the hull before it swam excitedly over to the ship’s wheel, pointing to a fancy compass embedded in the wood. Atla slowly removed it with delicate hands and showed it to Sil and Limestone, the tool reminding them of a certain Ghost type, before fixing it to her side.

As Atla and her Dewpider swam off to a different area of the room in search of more treasure, Sil and Lime, with Stone along for the ride, inspected the wheel some more. It was severely damaged, missing two of its six spokes, and the wood was rotted beyond repair. Alongside the wheel, as pointed out by Lime, was the captain’s log book, still legible despite the conditions:

The boss’s plan to awaken Kyogre was a success and soon the world will return to its beginnings.
All dreadnaughts have been commanded to return to the Hoenn region immediately.
I pray the sea grants us safe passage – even from this far off land we feel ripples of the ocean’s wrath.

Kyogre? Beginnings? What does this all mean? Sil thought. Her curiosity was only heightened by the look of concern that crossed Lime’s and Stone’s faces as they read the log alongside her.

“What do you guys make of th--”

“DEWY!”

Sil and Limestone spun around in panic to find Atla frightened and visibly shaken, one hand over her mouth, the other trembling and pointing at something ahead. Sil flicked her flashlight over to where Atla was pointing at, her light illuminating an old Ursaring trap. Suddenly, the trap thrashed around violently, and Sil realized that it wasn’t a trap but (according to her Pokédex) a Galarian Stunfisk. Between its sharpened teeth Sil could see the Dewpider struggling to free itself, too large to simply slip between the jaws of the Trap Pokémon.

Knowing that was too dangerous for a human to try to pry apart the jaws, Sil turned to her partner Pokémon, who were watching with a mixture of horror and rage on their faces. They had to act fast. Racking her brain for ideas, Sil sputtered out something akin to a command.

“Quick” she said, panic creeping into her voice, “strike the Stunfisk with a Liquidation to stun it! And then, um… once you’re in close, then try to pry open its jaws and lend a Helping Hand to Dewy! If you can’t open the Stunfisk’s jaws wide enough for Dewy to escape, uhh… then maybe, maybe try to coat the Dewpider with a Sand Attack to trick the fish into thinking its mouth is full of only sand--hopefully it will reset and give the Dewpider enough space to escape. Once Dewy’s free, swim away as fast as you can!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

Blissfully unaware of the struggle going on down below, Hailstone slowly grew tired of his icy antics. There were only so many icicles one could fling into the ocean before the whole thing got boring. Understimulated, he wandered all around the boat in search of something to do and distract him from his fears, but came up empty-pawed. Flopping down back at the front of the boat, he sighed as his stomach grumbled in displeasure, though whether that was due to hunger or due to the Butterfree in his stomach, he could not tell.

All he could do now was pace nervously back and forth.

Update 11:
Spoiler: show

Your torches fix like searchlights on what can only be described as a scene from a deep sea horror, the Stunfisk’s teeth jam shut as the Dewpider wriggled and wrestled helplessly within. It was powerless to escape so perhaps you could lend a hand from the outside – fortunately, you had two. The Binacle paddle inbound in a rare show of bravery from both parties, bonking the metalic mudfish on the head with a Liquidated arm. The predator reels, baring its teeth at the Binacle which glisten like Metal Claws before snapping down against their boulder. Bits of pebble break away as Limestone barks in discomfort, remembering to take their opening and sandwiching themselves within the creature’s jaws. With one pushing against the base and the other the roof, they proceeded to pry the fish’s maw open like a jack. This gives the imprisoned Dewpider the Helping Hand needed to Lunge to freedom, the teeth raking against its abdomen but leaving it for the most part unscathed. The Galarian breed scowls and emits a earsplitting Metal Sound, most of the remaining portholes shattering, the sound travelling much faster than above surface. In losing its catch it sets its sights squarely on Limestone, less appetising but a meal all the same. With enough force the metal jaws could pulverize the rock to dust, the more cautious of the pair greeting its sudden advance with a Sand Attack. The bits of mica spat up from their rocky home are enough to stop the predator in its tracks, sand infiltrating its trap and sending it into a coughing fit.

“We’ve got it on the ropes Sil – one more show of strength ought to scare it off. Dewy, trap the trap in a Sticky Web – then follow up with a Liquidation of your own!” While close to eaten alive, the watery web spinner confidently obliged for the sake of its two rescuers, who were now the predator’s sole target as it veered in for another attack. What will you do?

Reply 11:
Spoiler: show

Limestone paddled as swiftly as they could to the spider-in-distress and its captor, who seemed less concerned with the barnacles as it did with securing its meal. As they got close, however, the Stunfisk glared fiercely at them, squinting in the harsh light of the torches, unsure if they were rescuers or another predator coming to steal its freshly-caught prey. Irregardless, it seemed that the Stunfisk was prepared to fight back fiercely.

In a surge of bubbles, Lime coated himself in a torrent of water before he slammed down hard on the Stunfisk like a fist, catching the fish off guard with a blow to the side. Staggered by the Liquidation, the Trap Pokémon flashed its metallic teeth before scraping them across Lime and the boulder like Metal Claws in retaliation. Both Binacle let out a squeal of pain as bits of broken rock sunk to the shipfloor, their cries sending a bolt of fear into Sil’s heart. However, they swiftly steeled themselves and seized the opening and wedged themselves between the mudfish’s jaws, their tough claws clashing against the steel teeth. The two of them winced as they struggled to keep the hungry fish’s jaws from closing in on them, and with a Lunge, Dewy shot out from the Stunfisk’s maw a little cut and bruised from its ordeal.

Enraged that its quarry had escaped it, the Galarian fish let out a piercing screech like the Sound of grinding Metal. The harsh sound echoed all throughout the ship, shattering whatever glass remained. Sil grimaced in pain and covered her ears, seeing Atla do the same out of the corner of her eye. She looked over at Limestone, who seemed dazed having been so close to epicenter of the auditory assault. The Stunfisk noticed this as well, cautiously approaching in preparation for another devastating bite. Stone, however, was aware enough to halt the Stunfisk’s advance with a spray of Sand, the Attack sending the fish into a coughing fit.

With the Stunfisk momentarily distracted, Atla called out to Dewy. “We’ve got it on the ropes Sil – one more show of strength ought to scare it off. Dewy, trap the trap in a Sticky Web – then follow up with a Liquidation of your own!”

The little spider paddled high above the mudfish and unleashed silvery, Sticky Threads from its spinnerets that wrapped around it, entangling its stubbing fins and jaws. Surging like a tidal wave, the Dewpider then slammed into the Trap Pokémon with a Liquidation. The Stunfisk gnashed its teeth at its assailant, but the Dewpider swiftly swam out of reach, leaving Limestone to be the only suitable prey nearby. Already anticipating what was going to happen next, both barnacles quickly Withdrew into their rocky home as they tried to paddle out of biting range. They nervously glanced over at Sil for further instruction, only the tips of their heads visible as they peeked out over the stone.

“You guys did great,” Sil said, hoping the nervousness in her voice wasn't noticeable. “Now chase it off with a duel Mud-slap Water Gun combo!”

Update 12:
Spoiler: show

The predator sets sights on a new prey as it swims inbound, trap snapping. Both Lime and Stone Withdraw into their rock and reel back, evading the first bite while the second and third do nothing but break off a few pebbles, not the sort of sustenance the mudfish had in mind. It considers the Dewpider again only to find it vanished from the dank hull entirely, the crawler creeping down from the ceiling, spinning it in Sticky threads before it can pry its jaw back open, tussling as its ensnared in Webbing as easily as a Cutiefly. This creates an easy opening for the Binacle, popping up from its shelter with a handful of Mud each, taking turns to Slap the foe silly and send it bowling toward the port side of the hull. The pelting fuels it into a rage, tearing the web to bits against its Metalic Claws which continue to snap until they latch onto both of Limestone’s heads! Before their branches can be snapped in two they Gun a torrent of Water directly against the foe’s face, the Dewpider surging in like a tidal wave and dealing a Liquidated beatdown to its exterior. The gang up tactics are too much for the Stunfisk to stomach as it releases its latch and slinks off into the darkest reaches of the ship. Binacle gained two levels!

You give the Binacle pair a hi-five for a fight well fought, one of the hands passing you an Aqua Ball prized from the predator’s mouth, likely the bait used to lure Dewpider in. “Nice find Sil!” Atla swims in for a closer look, “This frigate must have been one of Team Aqua’s – they disbanded about a decade ago if memory serves, I guess the ship must have sunk before that, huh.” The ocean had not been kind to the vessel, a decade of rust and ruin leaving it a ghost of its former self. With oxygen stores at a generous level the wreck diver is keen to exit out through the rear of the ship, coaxing you into an apprehensive follow. The hull opens up to a wide set of corridors, Atla testing the doors at either side to find them jammed shut; dejected, she returns back to the doors you entered from, only to find those locked too. You were boxed in completely, but how?

“Uhm… did the door lock on itself?” the diver starts to panic as she wrestles with its handle, meanwhile you shine your flashlight about the sunken hallways in search of clues out. If luck is on your side, you might just stumble upon on a way forward that would save Limestone puncturing a hole through one of the ship's bulkheads.

Can you find the hidden key tucked away in the shipwreck's passage?

Reply 12:
Spoiler: show

With a flash of its metallic teeth, the Stunfisk snapped at Limestone but its fangs clamped down on only water and bubbles as the barnacles Withdrew into their rocky home. Not about to let a meal escape, the mudfish lunged forward again, its teeth striking hard rock. Clearly unsatisfied with pebbles for lunch, the Stunfisk mashed its fangs again, only to be rewarded with more earthen disappointment. As if it couldn’t get any worse for the Trap Pokémon, Dewy struck from the ceiling, tangling the fish in Sticky Webbing. The Stunfisk wiggled about in desperate panic, attempting to unravel itself. Sensing an opportunity, both Binacle popped out of the rock, flinging clumps of Mud, the gunk Slapping the unfortunate Bewear trap across the face. Enraged at the mucky assault, the fish thrashed and tore at the webs with its sharp teeth, ripping them to shreds with the power of a Metal Claw. Its rage unsated, the fish gnashed its teeth until it bit onto Lime’s and Stone’s heads, the two barnacles too slow to recede to safety. Panicking, they unleashed a coordinated Water Gun, the close quarters blast sending the mudfish careening backwards, straight into a full force Liquidation from the Dewpider. Too overwhelmed by the battle and its appetite lost, the Stunfisk grumbled to itself as it swam off to the darkest depths of the ship to nurse its wounds.

After the predator slinked off, Limestone swam back to Sil, who realized she had been holding her breath the whole time. Lime was beaming, a dirty Pokéball clamped in his claws, while Stone looked as though he was recovering from a heart attack. She took their prize from Lime, before giving each Binacle a hi-five.

Atla swam up to her, eager to see what the barnacles had brought back. Sil wiped the grime off of the Pokéball, a blue and black one with a white stylized A on the top. She held it out to Atla.

“Nice find Sil!” Atla said, looking over the ball. “This frigate must have been one of Team Aqua’s – they disbanded about a decade ago if memory serves, I guess the ship must have sunk before that, huh.”

Team Aqua… ? Sil thought. The name was familiar--she remembered it from her youth--but she couldn’t place it. But there was no time to dwell on that now. Atla was already swimming away towards the back of the boat, keen on leaving considering their oxygen levels. Sil and Limestone followed hesitantly after, Lime casting a disappointed glance towards the front of the hull while Stone looked relieved that their adventure in the ship was coming to a close.

A series of corridors greeted them as they exited the hull. Atla swam eagerly to the far end, pressing against the doors only to find them locked. Disappointed, the group swam back the way they came, only to see that the doors they entered through were similarly jammed.

“Uhm… did the door lock on itself?” Atla said, panic creeping into her voice as she desperately tugged on the handle. While Atla wrested with the door, Sil tried to find an alternative way out, shining her flashlight all over the corridors as she attempted to keep her breathing steady despite the fear clawing her stomach.

After a few minutes of panicky searching, she noticed that something sparkled as the light hit it. Filled with a glimmer of hope, she called out to Limestone.

“Lime, come with me--I think I saw something over there,” she said, gesturing to a spot by two pieces of rubble on the right hand side of the corridor. “Stone, while we’re exploring around, can you try to punch through the weakest looking door with some Liquidations?”

Update 13:
Spoiler: show

With the intrepid divers boxed in at every corner, optimism starts to deplete as quick as oxygen. Atla was wrestling against the handle with all her might, the door not giving an inch in return. You desperately pore over the debris for any aide to your escape, your torch light uncovering a glint of something shiny… an old key! You swim inbound and scoop it up, before long finding its accompanying padlock. The lock feels stiff as you jig the key left and right, eventually unbolting. The bulkhead door emits a low groan as you lean against it, resisting as you kick your flippers to apply more force. Limestone waves for you to stand clear, socking the door with an impressive show of Liquidated force which blasts it clean off its hinges! Sudden daylight breaks through the crevice, your eyes straining to adjust. Peering ahead it seems the ship’s corridoors came to an abrupt end, the frigate seemingly split in two from its crash with the stern of the ship buried several metres away, driven down into the sandy seabed by its own tonnage. It was an eerie sight, but one you need not dwell on as the open ocean was mere inches away.

“That’s twice you’ve saved our necks!” commends Atla, “I reckon that’s enough excitement for one dive, let’s make our ascent back to the boat.” You had only turned to face Atla for a second, but in looking back toward the ocean you are greeted by an entirely new panorama; a lush carnival of corals and sponges painted every colour of the spectrum, dancing under flecks of golden sunlight. You twirl on the spot to find both Atla and the dreadnaught vanished. Your eyes dart around the surroundings desperately, familiar yet different somehow – livelier and more pristine. Limestone appears to share your suspicion, they knew this stretch of seabed like the back of each other’s hands and could tell something fishy was afoot. It seems the safest option may be to resurface and regroup back at the boat, until a soft crying steals your attention – travelling through water as clear as through air. The sobbing was emanating from a pink coral with a white base just a few metres ahead of you. It had its back turned away and didn’t seem to be aware of your presence. While you had your own problems to contend with, perhaps the coral could shed some light on what was going on around here?

Reply 13:
Spoiler: show

As Sil swam to the sparkling curiosity that caught her eye, she could hear the muffled sounds of Atla wrestling desperately with the door handle, the noise a nerve wracking reminder of their ticking time bomb. Luckily, as she came closer to the shiny object with a kick of her flippers, she saw that it was a key! She scooped it up as quickly as possible, clenching it tightly for fear of dropping it with her shaky hands, and swam panickingly to the door opposite the one they entered, the rusted padlock an invitation to salvation. Jamming the key into the lock with enough force to rattle the door, she fiddled with it against the years of rust and her own nerves.

Click!

The padlock unlocked with a relieving click and tumbled to the floor in a dramatic fashion. Sil leaned against the door, finding it stiff and unyielding even after she kicked with force. Her breath came in panicked, ragged gasps as panic began to set in, until Limestone tapped her shoulder and gestured to give them space. She swam aside and watched nervously as the barnacles slammed into the door with a Liquidation, the hinges creaking in protest as the door was blown backwards by the force of the blow. Sunlight illuminated the hallway, the corridor opening up to the wide open ocean--it seemed the boat was broken in half, jagged metal peaks standing starkly against the bright blue. Atla and Dewy paddled up beside her, and the group of them swam to freedom.

Sil and Limestone took the lead as they swam towards the surface. “That’s twice you’ve saved our necks!” Atla piped up a few ways behind them, “I reckon that’s enough excitement for one dive, let’s make our ascent back to the boat.” Sil turned back to give her a smile, but when she did so, she noticed something strange. Atla and Dewy weren’t there. Panicking, she turned about every which way, and noticed something even stranger. The backdrop of dull seabed and broken ship was replaced with something more colorful, the seabed a canvas of jewel tones, lively corals glittering under the sunlight in a rainbow of shades. But, despite its beauty, Sil couldn’t help but feel the sight was unsettling. Limestone shared her suspensions, both their faces contorted in confusion and concern.

Wasn’t the seafloor covered in bleached white corals? Sil thought. And where’s Atla and Dewy?

She turned to ask Limestone what they should do next, but her train of thought was interrupted by a soft crying sound. Scanning the area for the source of the sound, she spun a circle, spotting a soft pink and pale white coral from which the sound emanated. She gave Limestone a worried look, before paddling in to investigate.

Update 14:
Spoiler: show

Your escape from the shipwreck’s clutches had somehow left you spirited away in an entirely new coral bed, unsettling as it was dazzling. With panic taking rise, you find yourself drawn to a weeping sea dweller who perhaps harboured an explanation to the mysterious goings on.

It's coming… She cries on your approach, in a language you understand as clear as day. She waddles on the spot to face you, the unmistakable visage of a Corsola with tears as black as tar seeping down her face. It’s frightening enough to nearly send you tumbling into Limestone, who look just as disconcerted despite their hardy temperament. The coral doesn’t seem to notice your unease as it repeats itself again.

It’s here… Look up… It’s here… You oblige, as wary as you are of taking your eyes off of the unsettling sea creature. Your gaze follows the seabed up to the surface, nothing peculiar about the Squirtle grazing on kelp, nor the stray Tentacool drifting in the undertow. Your ears prick to the hum of a propeller, following the sound to a large silhouette approaching fast from the distance. It was an immense sea vessel, slicing through waves with increasing difficulty.

There was no mistaking it, the dreadnaught you had been trawling through shed of a decade of rust and algae. The engine’s vibrations could be felt as it drew close, dappled sunlight illumining several pockmarks down its glistening exterior, like the wounds of a great sea battle. Oil and fire were hissing from its ruptures as it creaked and moaned against the choppy waves above. It was clear that it could stay buoyant no longer and it was falling right toward you! The hull eclipses all sunlight as it loses altitude at increasing velocity, its vast surface area robbing you any chance of escape. There was nothing for it but to close your eyes and accept your fate…

“Sil! Sil!” The nightmare was over. Your open eyes to the original seascape, its gloomy trappings more inviting than you could have ever imagined. “What happened?! The three of you were just staring into empty space.” The ship was as wrecked and dormant as it had ever been, a decade of wear and tear added back onto it in the blink of an eye. Was this all a hallucination? Had the pressurised oxygen gone to your head? You don't have long to chew on these thoughts before something starts to stir ahead, an inconspicuous bleached rock emerging from the sandy seabed, as though it had been released of its gravitational ties. The coral suddenly sprouts a set of translucent branches, its red eyes blinking open and dawning on your party like menacing searchlights.

You took away everything from me… I will unleash worse on you…

The Galarian Corsola emits a Night Shade that momentarily swallows your camp in darkness, Dewy tumbling rearward while Limestone hold their ground through the weight of their anchor, albeit reeling from the surprise attack. Inches from escape you have a new enemy in your midst, one that seems bent on sending your dive crew to a watery grave! What will you do?

Reply 14:
Spoiler: show

Sil and Limestone paddled to the sobbing coral, hoping that they could shed some light on where they were and what was happening. But, as they approached…

It’s coming…

A woman’s voice emanated from the pastel coral, filled with fear and dread.

Sil narrowed her eyes at the colorful clump.

That couldn’t have come from coral, could it? she thought. She gave Limestone a puzzled glance, but neither noticed her, clearly preoccupied as both their faces were wrought with fear as they stared at the source of the sound.

As if on cue, the Corsola spun around, pitch-black tears streaming down her distraught face like droplets of tar, standing in stark contrast to her pastel pink and white. Sil, startled by such a sight, instinctively kicked away from the coral, nearly slamming into Limestone in the process.

The Corsola took no heed, repeating her eerie mantra, her mouth twitching unnaturally as she formed the words.

It’s here… Look up… It’s here…

Sil looked around every which way, feeling terror claw at her, expecting to see some horrifying monster emerge from the abysmal depths. But she could spot nothing of note, only Squirtle munching on kelp while Tentacool drifted on the current towards the open ocean.

But then…

Whrrrrrrrrrr.

It was the unmistakable sound of a boat propeller slicing through the water, somehow ominous despite the mundaneness of the sound. Sil and the barnacles turned to the source of the noise, spotting a large dreadnought limping through the waves. The ship’s side was scoured with holes, oil dripping from the ship like black blood as fire surged from the gaps in its hull. It was the sunken dreadnought, albeit not sunken, years of rust and wear gone from its metal body. As it approached them, the propeller gave its last push before puttering out, and the ship began to sink… right on top of them! Its hull too wide and the trio too paralyzed by fear to vainly attempt to swim, all they could do was close their eyes and acce--

“Sil! Sil!”

The voice of Atla cut across the comms, the sound enough to jolt Sil and Limestone out of their nightmare, returning them to the gloomy dull seabed, a surprising comforting sight compared to what they had just witnessed.

“What happened?!” Atla cried. “The three of you were just staring into empty space.”

Sil panted heavily as her heart thumped in her chest, feeling suddenly claustrophobic, too disturbed by the… hallucination to respond. She looked over at the dilapidated ship, far from the wounded beast it was just a few seconds ago, tamed by the sea and time. She felt a wave of relief wash over her. It wasn't real. It wasn't real. Perhaps it was just the slowly depleting oxygen levels, or ocean madness getting to her head.

“I think…” her voice trailed off as some movement caught her eye. A bleached white rock slowly emerged out from the seabed, sand trickling down its form as electroplasmic branches sprouted forth from a set of holes on its back. Beady red eyes stared unblinkingly at the dive party, narrowing as they filled with hate.

You took away everything from me… I will unleash worse on you…

The ghostly Corsola began to glow purple, before a wave of shadow surged towards them, enveloping them in blackness. The Night Shade slammed into both Dewy and Limestone, sending the water spider tumbling back. Glaring at them, it seemed the Coral Pokémon was readying another attack.

“Quick!” Sil shouted, feeling panic take root. “Limestone stop her with a Liquidation!”

Lime nodded in affirmation as he prepared to strike, enraged that the Galarian Corsola would dare attack them despite their innocence. They didn’t cause this! But, Stone frowned and shook his head at his partner, sinking a little into the rock to signal that he would not attack.

The Corsola was grieving--she was suffering--and, while wrong to lash out at innocent passersby, Stone was still sympathetic to her plight. As she had said before, she had lost everything, even her life by the looks of her otherworldly appearance. Perhaps body slamming her into submission wasn’t the way.

Stone looked around at the dive party, at Sil paralyzed with fear, at Atla and Dewy, and at Lime, before turning back to the grief stricken coral.

If diplomacy could work with him and Lime, perhaps it could work with this Corsola as well.

Update 15:
Spoiler: show

With oxygen stores ticking away there was just one thing keeping you from the surface, an undead coral with a score to settle. You quickly rally your Pokemon into defensive manoeuvres with the hope that, once calmed down, the Corsola could perhaps be reasoned with. The task would prove easier said than done as the pair of Water-types snapped back with a Liquidated assault, the hardy foe shouldering the hits with relative ease before Sapping away their Strength and replenishing its health back to full. With a sinister grin it continued its widespread assault, bleached hide flickering blinding white as Powerful Gemstones burst outward. Lime and Stone wince against the pelting while Dewy lets out an high pitch screech, hanging on by the skin of his teeth.

“I think we’re outmatched…” Atla exclaims with a look of pure dread. While her form had bleached and crumbled, harbouring a decade long grudge had left her mind more powerful than ever, albeit completely unhinged. With a loud rumble the tail end of the ship begins to shift from behind the Corsola as her Psychic powers begin to manisfest.

Do you know how it feels like to have the life squeezed from out of you?

With a look of intense concentration, the Corsola heaves tonnes of iron from the sandy seabed like it is weightless, sand running off its corroded surface as it rises from its slumber. She was about to bring your nightmare to life, having revenge on humankind in the most poetic way imaginable. You are unsure whether to fight or flee at this point, until you catch something wriggling in the corner of your eye… the shifting sand had seemingly unearthed something from the seabed: a clump of seaweed, tugging against what looked like an anchor wrought red with rust. Having been trapped beneath the vessel for years it was making feeble attempts to wrestle free, but appeared to be missing something... What will you do?

Reply 15:
Spoiler: show

The duo, or, more accurately, trio of Water types charged at the creepy coral, smacking into it in a Liquidation assault in the hopes that they might knock some sense into her. The Corsola was thrown across the seafloor, but tanked the hits nonetheless, shaking them off with a fiendish look on her face as her ethereal branches glowed pink. Sapping the Strength from Limestone and Dewy like an undersea vampire, the Corsola healed away the damage the two sea dwellers had just dealt her. Her vigor restored, a mad wicked grin spread across her rocky face as she began to approach them. Glowing white gemstones erupted from the seafloor as her body flashed blinding white, a flurry of sand thrown up by the currents, obscuring the ghostly Pokémon so that only her beady red eyes could be seen, glowing through the haze.

Sil drew a breath and anxiously balled her fist, waiting for whatever the Corsola would launch at them. Several tense moments passed, Dewy and Limestone too nervous to try and strike the Corsola shrouded by the sand cloud. And then, like glittering meteors, the Powerful Gemstones burst from the cloud, scattering the sand as they sped towards the opposing Water types. Lime and Stone winced as the rocks scraped across their rocky hide while Dewy let out an agonized screech. The water spider looked to be on the brink, several deep cuts and scrapes from the jewels visible on its frail limbs.

“I think we’re outmatched…” Atla said, her voice full of dread. Sil looked towards the surface, wondering if she could possibly reach Hailstone, but as she turned back to the manic coral, she realized that even a four-on-one with the igloo shrew included was still an uneven fight--in the Corsola’s favor. It seemed that years and years of harboring her grudge had increased her strength--including her mental capacities--tenfold. Her body overflowing with Psychic power, she held up her stubby legs as the rusted ship began to shift and shake.

Do you know how it feels like to have the life squeezed from out of you?

A furrow appeared on the Corsola’s rocky visage as she began to concentrate, the hefty boat rising ominously out of the depths, sand trickling down the metallic leviathan’s rotted hide. It seemed unreal, like a scene out of a movie. But this wasn’t a movie. This was a nightmare brought to life, and it seemed like they were running out of options to wake up. Sil was too caught up in the panic, unable to decide whether to fight or flight. As she frantically looked around for anything that could give them an edge, something caught her eye. It appeared to be a rusted anchor, wrapped in seaweed, desperately struggling to free itself from underneath the boat. It looked like a certain Pokémon… a familiar Pokémon...

“Atla… Atla give me that compass you found! I think that anchor thing over there is a Dhelmise--and I think your compass is its eye!” Sil cried. She then turned to Dewy and Limestone. "Do you think you guys could get the compass to that anchor over there?"

She hoped this would work.

Update 16:
Spoiler: show

With your best offense doing little to subdue the gnarly cnidarian, it seems there’s no escaping this crushing demise. A resounding creek cuts through the ocean hum as the ship’s stern edges closer, enveloping your dive crew in shadow. There was just one glimmer of hope left, shining through the rust of a shattered anchor which was wrestling for sweet freedom. Inches from a watery grave your party spring into action, Atla setting any doubt aside as she unfastens the steering wheel and pitches it ahead.

Limestone elongates for the catch, both hands reeling back like a trebuchet before catapulting it at the wayward seaweed. Without any eyes or ears to speak of, the entity appears to sense its missing half hurtling inbound; the sea tangle wraps around the wheel in mid-air, using its momentum to free its anchor from the seabed and unveil its finished form; with its sole compass blinking to life the Dhelmise spares no time in taking aim on your crazed captor, stealing her attention with a decisive Anchor Shot.

That’s enough folly from you, young madam!

Who- who are you?

I happen to be the captain of this fine vessel – and I must kindly ask this harlequinade cease and desist!

Wha- You’re the captain? So this is all your fault?!

Balderdash! It was a sea monster that fated her untimely demise, though she put up quite the fight I’ll have you know – now if you wouldn’t mind, my crew and I have a course to return to, so kindly hand over the ship so I may make the necessary repairs!

You’re going fix- no- you’re NEVER getting this ship back! I’ve waited too long for my revenge!

What ensues is a psionic tug of war between the two Poltergeists, the colossal dreadnaught rocking to and thro as each tried to claim ownership with equal conviction. Neither were about to let up, although the outcome made no difference to Atla who didn’t seem intent on sticking around.

“C’mon Sil– now’s our chance!” the diver wasn’t wrong; with the lost souls of the forgotten shipwreck locked in fierce combat, they would pay little mind if your party were to slip away. She scoops up her weary web spinner in preparation for a quick ascent, although it comes to realisation that with the two incapacitated comes an opportunity to get through to them, perhaps helping them wrong this right. Will you bring your mediation skills back into play, or leave the spectres to squabble for an eternity?

Reply 16:
Spoiler: show

The Corsola was far more powerful than she looked, shrugging off both Limestone’s and Dewy’s attacks as if they were a gentle sea current. She recovered with a Strength Sap before tearing them apart with a Power Gem. Knowing that they posed little threat to her, the bleached coral resumed her advance, swallowing them in shadow as she lifted the ship’s bow off the seafloor. It seemed there was no hope, the coral’s vengeance all but guaranteed. Her wicked smile twisted even wider.

With death slowly but steadily approaching, Sil desperately looked around for anything, anything that could serve as a distraction or give them a needed edge over their ghostly foe. Her eyes homed in on a struggling anchor, no, Dhelmise, tugging desperately to free itself from the bottom of the ship. But there was an issue the Dhelmise was missing its lone eye. And it just so happened that the compass Atla picked up was identical to the eye of a Dhelmise. If they could get that compass to the possessed anchor…

Sil quickly explained her plan to Atla, the diver hesitantly agreeing to the hairbrained scheme. She loosens the compass from her belt and tosses it to Limestone, the Binacle stretching to grasp the instrument between each of their heads before hurling it at the Dhelmise. Despite lacking eyes, the Pokémon appeared to sense the compass hurtling towards it, the green seaweed reached towards the eye, the momentum enough to free the ghost from the ship.

With its sight restored, the Dhelmise crashes into the Corsola with an Anchor Shot.

That’s enough folly from you, young madam!

Who- who are you?

I happen to be the captain of this fine vessel – and I must kindly ask this harlequinade cease and desist!

Wha- You’re the captain? So this is all your fault?!

Balderdash! It was a sea monster that fated her untimely demise, though she put up quite the fight I’ll have you know – now if you wouldn’t mind, my crew and I have a course to return to, so kindly hand over the ship so I may make the necessary repairs!

You’re going fix- no- you’re NEVER getting this ship back! I’ve waited too long for my revenge!

The ship rocked back and forth as the two ghosts attempted to take it from the other. Despite their opposing goals, they both seemed to want the boat just as much as the other. Without intervention, they would probably be locked in this tug of war for all of time.

“C’mon Sil– now’s our chance!” Atla said, eager to escape while the two Pokémon were occupied. She picked up Dewy and prepared to ascend to the surface.

But Sil was a bit hesitant about leaving the two poltergeists. Maybe the battle knocked some sense into them, maybe she could try talking to them. She got through to Limestone, maybe she could get through to the Corsola and Dhelmise.

Update 17:
Spoiler: show

As you swam up to the surface you couldn't help but feel that maybe you could talk both of them to cease their fighting. You mulled over these as you kept rising to the surface, but then you heard a huge creaking groaning noise coming from the dreadnaught below you. The boat rocked far enough to one side that it rolled over onto a different side pushing it in a different direction as the two Pokémon were still locked in their tug of war with the ship...

But something caught your eyes as you looked back, underneath the broken parts of the dreadnaught you could see something glimmer with color. A color that looked vastly out of place within the barren wasteland that was once left from the reef...
Wait.. could it potentially be?...

You'd have to swim back down to actually confirm your suspicions on what this is that you saw, That would mean putting yourself back into harm's way between the two spirits who could still be seen to be warring... But, if this is what you thought it could be, there is a slim chance you could put the spirit of Corsola to rest. You'd have to grab a piece of this and you would have to show the corsola this. But you could do it and it could mean that this tug of war ends with no casualties to anyone else.

Atla noticed you weren't within her peripheral vision anymore and stopped to look back down at you,
"Sil? Sil?! What's wrong? We have to get back to the surface!"
Sil then looked to where your gaze was focused upon and gasped " Is that what I think it is?? "

Will you continue your ascent to the surface or will you go back down to attempt to stop the two warring spirits?



Maskerade:
Spoiler: show

Start :
Spoiler: show

To hell with all this bloody noise...

Blake made his way along the bustling main street of Little Kanto, hands in the pockets of his old black trenchcoat. He'd decided to start his search for Ray, his son and wanted criminal in two regions, in the newly reformed New Fizz City for one very simple reason.

There's more shit for him to steal here than anywhere else.

Tracking down his own son on behalf of the police... He'd never dreamed it would come to that. But it had.

Kid's a menace. And it's my goddamn fault... If I hadn't been so busy playing hero for them, I would've realized sooner that I was raising a criminal under my f***ing roof!

That wasn't all. Ray, for all his faults, was a brilliant Trainer, and had amassed a very powerful team through a succession of successful robberies. Blake, in turn, had spent the better part of the last two years drinking his sorrows away, neglecting to train even a single day. Simply put, he feared in his current state, he might be weaker than his own son.

It's the only bloody reason I'm here to begin with. So let's see what you got.

He finally stopped, arms crossed and a frown on his face, gazing at a nearby group of martial artists and their Pokemon, who were known to gather in that part of Little Kanto to practice. He might be rusty, but Blake was still the "Hero Maker of Galar"; he had an innate eye for talent, and observing these fighters might just reawaken his own fighting spirit. And who knew? If there really was a "master" among those martial artists, he might even learn something entirely new, although he doubted it. Whatever helped in his inevitable clash with Ray...

So he stood, and watched.

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

With a son estranged to a life of crime it had become your raison d'etre to hunt him down and bring him home. You would scour every corner of the Earth if you had to, the seedy underbelly of New Fizz seeming a good enough place to start. Beneath its facade of peace and prosperity the metropolis was rife with criminal activity, from petty theft to bank heists and illegal trading. Even Little Kanto in all its serenity was a known foothold for Kanto’s mafia syndicates; it was no secret Team Rocket were running protection rackets across many of the neighbourhood’s small businesses. While the trail felt warm you delay your reconnaissance for now, coming to a pause in one of the ethnic enclave’s green spaces.

The park spanned several generous acres amidst the urban sprawl, freshly mowed and adorned with benches, ornamental trees, flowers year-round and water fountains in a clear lake that was stocked with Magikarp. There was a traditional shrine on the lake’s bank with architecture evocative of Johto’s Ecruteak City, local elders and monks lining up to pray. Perhaps more to your fancy were several groups congregating to practice martial arts. Once a fighting-type master, you had more than a few black belts under your belt – but said belt had grown tight around the waist thanks to an unhealthy liquor dependence. From the sidelines you hope to reignite the flame that had petered out with the loss of your boy, putting you in better stead for the inevitable faceoff.

To the park’s east you notice a faction of Kantonian elders practicing fluid, graceful standing movements. Their meditative flow was an art passed down through generations, each sequence working to channel the energy around them; some of the Pokemon in this camp were harnessing the chi to propel Vacuum Waves into the air. To the west was a contrast like night and day, a pair of younger fighters engaged in a fierce fisticuffs surrounded by a mob of rowdy spectators. The mixed martial artist’s footwork is a tap dance to his challenger’s heavy stomping routine, and two minutes of pops to the face later they were floored! While the young’uns appeared of Kanto descent their city attire and modern fighting-style implied they held onto their heritage by a thread. They were accompanied by a more urban assortment of fighting-types who were practicing Power-Up Punches in the same fast fury. Having seen the sorts of martial arts on display, which camp will you trade blows with?

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

As an old Fighting-Type Gym Leader, it was heartwarming to see so many younger Trainers devoted to martial arts. As a man who knew he was himself still far from a master, it was inspiring to see men almost twice his age still dedicated to perfecting the craft.

Maybe coming here wasn't such a stupid idea after all.

Blake kept watching from afar. The kids' technique was all-around sloppy, but he wasn't much better at their age. The age where raw power was the only thing that mattered. Undeniably it did, to an extent - but in due time they would learn the need to find a balance. Even he, well into his forties, and all the more so after the last two years of neglect, still struggled to achieve that perfect equilibrium.

That's why I never mastered that move. The move I invented - how pathetic am I that I can't even master my own creation?

And so, instinctively, his gaze shifted to the elders. Power, he'd had plenty of in his prime. The same power that now eluded the old martial artists in their advanced age. But they'd found what he still lacked - the inner peace thst came with mastery of those arts. Inner peace he hadn't felt in... who knew how long.

"You guys would do well to watch too," he muttered as he tossed his three Balls to the ground. An Infernape, Meditite and Pancham appeared and took the former "Hero Maker's" side.

RED DEVIL was the only Pokemon from the old days that Blake had kept. It had always been his ace, and most importantly, his closest friend. As of late, his *only* friend. Even so, for all its overwhelming power and speed, there was still something it lacked - the same thing that eluded Blake, and which stopped them from mastering their special move. The Infernape glanced at the scene before it and grinned, immediately realizing why it had been called - Blake was giving it one of *those* lessons where he didn't even talk.

OVER MIND was unquestionably the most spiritually inclined of the group, a firm believer in unlocking hidden potential through the power of meditation. Its abilities were undeniable - even before joining Blake, the Meditite had stood up to Primal Dialga and lived to tell the tale. Even so, it was still young, and its concentration waned constantly. It stood to learn much from the elders simply by observing; sensing this, it sat solemnly on the ground, legs crossed, and watched.

BLACK FIST was the youngest of the group, a troublesome Pancham thar used to hang with a rough crowd of Scrafty and Krokorok but was recruited by Blake after the man sensed its latent potential - saving it from a future life of crime, something he couldn't do with his own son. The Pancham's eyes instinctively shifted to the group of youngsters practicing their Power-Up Punches, but Blake placed his hand atop its head and rotated it back towards the elders. Meditative training was far from exciting, but it was something the unruly Pokemon needed far more than any other kind of practice.

"Shut up and watch. We can all stand to learn from those old timers."

Part of him wanted to approach the group and ask for their guidance. But only a small part - thebrest of him was too proud to move. He wasn't a pupil anymore, dammit.

Update 2:
Spoiler: show

With two remarkable yet opposing fighting styles on show, you find your gaze gravitating to the slow and graceful martial arts. You’d had your fill of power in your heyday but inner strength was what your heart yearned, so with that you forgo the mixed martial artists and make a beeline for the tai chi masters. Red Devil, Over Mind and Black Fist would benefit from the lesson too, joining you on the grassy knoll as you spectated from a cautious distance. The elders’ emphasis on slow breathing was noticeable closer up as they repeated the routine, acting in concert with their environment and guiding it, rather than avoiding, controlling, or working against it. While your pride kept you at arm’s length your Pokemon ogled with great interest; Infernape and Meditite were quick learners, memorising the steps and itching to put them to work. Infernape and Meditite learned Vacuum Wave! While Pancham was just as eager he was decidedly less spiritually attuned, the panda cub’s mock punches more evocative of the neighbouring MMA camp, failing to project any spiritual force behind them.

The master at the centre of the class eventually breaks out of her flow, locking eyes with a gentle smile, “We have a new pupil in our midst.” That had to sting. “I sense a powerful fighting spirit within you, but it has been twisted by turmoil. Perhaps you would like to join our practice to aide in clearing those blockages. If so, repeat my steps and have Infernape and Meditite follow your lead. I would like to see what you’ve got.” Despite her years the Kanto native had a youthful energy about her, it would be unwise to underestimate her on appearance alone.

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show

As it turned out, RED DEVIL and OVER MIND were both remarkably fast learners. It spoke to their prodigious talent - which in Infernape's case came as no surprise to Blake, but he was glad to confirm that Meditite held similar hidden potential. As for BLACK FIST... its focus had always been different. It hit first and asked never.

Inevitably, they were noticed. Worst still, Blake was addressed as a pupil; clearly the elder was oblivious to his reputation abroad, his prior occupation as a Gym Leader or his side stint with the police as Galar's "Hero Maker". Maybe all she saw was a self-important, washed-up drunkard. Maybe that's all that was there to see.

Despite Blake's annoyance, his Pokemon seemed much more inclined to accept the old woman's offer - RED DEVIL and OVER MIND stepped forward almost immediately, perhaps sensing somethin special about the elder. Even BLACK FIST joined them, and so Blake was left with little alternative but to play along.

Besides, he remembered the steps.

There was a damn good reason I was never any good at this. Why I was always more like this Pancham than the Meditite. Back then I didn't see any merit to the spiritual side of fighting; I wonder if things had turned out differently if I wasn't so narrow-minded. Maybe we would've even been able to master the Roaring Punch...

"Greetings *sensei*. Didn't mean to interrupt your training..."

He could've recalled his Pokemon and left, but he'd been arrogant his entire life. Now, he'd lost both his jobs and, more importantly, his son. This wasn't about his pride anymore. So, he approached the old woman and took the appropriate stance, rotating his arms like she showed him.

Or what he thought in his mind to be a decent approximation, anyway.

"I was always shit at this stuff, " he admitted. Decorum wasn't Blake's strong suit either. "How am I doin'?"

Update 3:
Spoiler: show

It takes every bone in your body not to walk away from the impending schooling while you still had a morsel of dignity. It then strikes you that said dignity had left you somewhere in your downward spiral, shifting to the appropriate stance therein. Twisting your arms to and fro feels clunky at first, your mind doing everything but calm as you effort to mimic the master’s slow and graceful flow. She seems unphased by the profanity as she slips in to make small adjustments, tapping the underside of your slacked arm then jabbing the base of your spine and coaxing it to straighten. The elder appeared to hold masterful expertise over human pressure points, the rapid knocks seemingly pushing you into perfect formation.

“You are quick to learn the physical aspects of martial arts, yet still, I sense the spiritual aspects are escaping you,” she gestures to Red Devil and Over Mind, eyes closed as they gracefully drifted through the steps with a look of pure zen. “Perhaps the best way for this lesson to sink in would be for you to fight together as one…” Tailing on a cryptic note she gestures two Pokemon to the centre of the class, a scrappy cream and red fighter with arms adorned with baggy fur sleeves, and a serious blue and black fighter with steely spikes on the backs of its forepaws. The Meinfoo and Lucario would make an even match for your fighters in both size and stature, following their sensei into fighting stance.

“I want you to move in tandem with your Pokemon, while you and I will not exchange blows our Pokemon will. The exercise is intended to benefit mind over body but nonetheless, I’d like to see the full range of your team’s skills, not just the steps I have taken you through today. No verbal commands, just fighting movements, like so.” Without warning she leans into a lunge, arms bending before cupping in a circular motion. Her Pokemon followed the movements to the letter, channelling their chi into a pair of Aura Spheres and propelling them at your allies’ feet as a warning shot. The unprovoked assault catches your party off-guard, the elder giggling playfully as she invited you to retaliate.

For this battle you’ll have to act out the move through martial arts rather than verbal commands. You can order two attacks per Pokemon, which can be the same attack as demonstrated or different. The moves don’t necessarily have to be fighting-type either.

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show

Despite his innate stubbornness and acquired bitterness, Blake wasn’t stupid. He knew, well before he’d met her, that the old lady was a master; he even knew what made her such, and that it was precisely what he’d always lacked. But his way of doing thing shad been good enough up until that point, so he’d never cared much.

But now “good enough” ain’t gonna cut it anymore…

Somewhere along the way, he’d lost that spark that no Fighting-Type expert should ever lose. That almost mandatory drive to seek perfection. Now he was asked to find it again, and to finally master a style that he’d never cared for in his hubris.

Always thought I could handle things full-force with a Single Strike and be done with them. But that was only because I was never patient enough to commit to another way of doing things. A bullet can only travel in a straight line – water flows and adapts, and Arceus knows I need to adapt… or fall by the damn wayside.

RED DEVIL grinned in silence, sensing something stirring within Blake. The elder’s challenge would be nothing they couldn’t handle; after all, fight each other had been part of their training regimen for decades. They were two sides of the same coin, knew every habit, every move the other made. The ape stood on a single leg with the other bent, arms spread outwards waving slightly for balance – one of his preferred battle stances.

OVER MIND was different in that it hadn’t known Blake for long, and the full potential of its Psychic powers was yet to be unlocked. When it was, reading its Trainer’s mind would come effortlessly, but until then, it could only pick up a faint hint of his intentions through his movements – this challenge would unquestionably be harder for the Meditite than the Infernape.

The opponents had been chosen already, and rather fittingly – a dignified Mienfoo stared OVER MIND down, while a magnificent Lucario looked silently at RED DEVIL, intense and unreadable. The warning shot, in the form of two perfectly coordinated Aura Spheres, only served to accentuate the difference between the elder’s elegant methods and Blake’s brutish ones. Still, it was a challenge, and he’d rise to meet it.

“Mouth shut and keep watchin’ kid.” Blake looked at his Infernape a few feet away, but continued to address the Pancham close to his leg. “Laugh and I’ll kick your ass.”

With a sudden motion, he threw his right fist forward without wind-up, and RED DEVIL almost instantly bolted forward, fast as lightning, to deliver its trademark Mach Punch. As Infernape approached the solemn-looking Lucario, Blake then crossed his arms in front of his chest, and RED knew he was signaling for a combo – if the first move hit, he’d follow up with a point-blank Crossfire!

OVER MIND watched on, as it always did, absorbing knowledge of the tandem’s fighting style. They really knew one another remarkably well to be able to fight without speaking. When Blake turned to face it, the Meditite felt strangely inadequate. There was no way it could perform as flawlessly as the prodigious Infernape.

“Get over yourself.”

The single, dry line was so brutally direct that it snapped OVER MIND out of its spiral of self-doubt completely. Blake was right; this wasn’t about the Meditite alone, this was about them. Not that long ago it had marched forward all on its own to take on Primal Dialga, just to prove to Blake it could handle itself – but it couldn’t, and it fainted miserably during the battle. It was frankly a miracle OVER MIND had survived the clash against the god, but since then, its resolve to stay by and learn from Blake had only strengthened. Now was the time to show it – not the strength of its fists, but the strength of their bond.

Blake extended his right arm, keeping his hand open, and slashed the air as if it were a sword. Then, in the same motion, he rotated his body slightly and threw his left palm forward, outstretched. The human’s motions were clumsy by the Meditite’s standards, but they were mercifully crystal clear in their message – target Mienfoo, move in close with a Psycho Cut, then string together a Force Palm with the opposite hand using the swing’s momentum. In a rare instance, OVER MIND smiled – he may be a brute, but Blake knew what he was doing. Thank Arceus for that.

“Go get ‘em”, the middle-aged man muttered to himself.

Update 4:
Spoiler: show

While the master bends in perfect harmony with her Pokemon, it takes the ally side a while to get into step; the more in sync the Hero Maker and Red Devil became, the more out of sync Over Mind was pushed. The burgeoning mind reader struggles to get into your head, and subsequently out of his own. This results in him receiving unprotected blows from the opposing Meinfoo, struggling to parry the Force of its Palms with his lithe limbs. The Lucario rushes Red Devil with the same technique, but the ape strikes first with a right hook Punch at Mach speed. While throwing the Aura Pokemon off, it doesn’t stop the pair trading blows with intense ferocity, neither really showing the upper hand – that is until the Infernape’s gauntlets burst into flame, unleashing a wicked Cross Fire which sizzles against Lucario’s block forcing him into retreat, the fresh breeze tinged with the smell of burnt fur.

Over Mind’s defeat in the city’s temporal calamity plays over in his mind like a movie reel, giving the opponent free reign to deliver left hook after right. It takes a few choice words to snap him back to reality, following your lead and striking the aggressor in the shoulder with a Psycho Cut. The point-blank chop almost knocks the Martial Arts Pokemon clean off its feet, a backwards roll repelling it out of harm’s way. The opposing sparring partners took their master’s flank and fell into another mediative flow, channelling their fighting spirit with masterful Focus and sending it Blasting down the lawn. Infernape attempts to dodge, the sluggish ball of energy managing only to clip his tail. The Meditite instead goes to rebuff the attack with its Force Palms, triggering an explosion which sends him tumbling down the hill like a ragdoll. While the fight looked like it could go either way at this stage, the dissonance between your teammates was starting to show. The elderly lady shoots you a wry smile before shifting into another fighting stance, following the steps for an Aura Sphere and directing both Pokemon to take aim on your Infernape.

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show

For a completely silent battle, this was proving to be more exciting than Blake had expected. Infernape and Lucario in particular seemed to be evenly matched, separated only by \RED DEVIL's more favourable Type.

OVER MIND, in turn, was struggling to keep up. It was to be expected, considering it hadn't been with Blake for nearly as long, and this exercise demanded a remarkable degree of coordination. Nearly knocked out cold by the collision between its Force Palm and the enemy's Focus Blast, it had fallen to the ground and still couldn't get back up. But the Meditite refused to yield. With fire in its eyes, it watched as both Lucario and Mienfoo launched perfectly synchronized Aura Spheres at RED DEVIL...

Those can't be dodged. RED could probably muscle its way through one of 'em, but not two. Best we can hope to do is...

It was a long shot for a number of reasons. First, he needed OVER MIND on its feet; next, he needed to convey his instruction quickly, and silently, to the Meditite, hoping it understood him; finally, it required his partner to flawlessly pull off a move it had only literally learned some minutes ago.

And so, Blake took his stance. The same one the four of them had seen the elder perform from a distance earlier - and fortunately, OVER MIND noticed it.

Vacuum Wave. Best case scenario we can push one of the Spheres into the other and make 'em both pop. If not, maybe we can steer them off-course long enough for RED to... Huh?

The Infernape wasn't moving. It stared at the incoming projectiles with a look of uncharacteristic peace, rather than its usual smirk. Without instruction, it bent its knees slightly, legs far apart for a wide basis, clenched its right fist next to its body and focused. The air around its knuckle sizzled with invisible energy; a blueish aura then escaped the gauntlet like a swirling mist...

R-Roaring Punch?!... Dammit you idiot, you ain't ready!!

Sure enough, seconds later, the blue aura burst and dissipated, vanishing into thin air, untamed and lost. RED DEVIL fell forward on its own, well before the Aura Spheres reached it, utterly exhausted and powerless to continue.

"RED! Goddamnit!" shouted Blake, unable to remain silent any longer. Rushing his movements, he urged OVER MIND to hurry up and release the Vacuum Wave.

The Meditite witnessed the whole scene, and something clicked. Despite its appearance, RED DEVIL wasn't invincible. Wasn't unreachable. Formidable, yes, but there it was, lying on the ground... And OVER MIND... wasn't!!

With every ounce of its strength, the Meditite got up, and with a firm movement, thrust both palms forward, hurling a mass of air straight at the Aura Spheres from a perpendicular angle, looking to push them away.

RED DEVIL, meanwhile, remained on ground, mostly unaware, all the fighting spirit it had collected onto its fist now gone, wasted...

Regardless of what happened next, whether or not Meditite could protect Infernape by countering the orbs, one thing was crystal clear in Blake's mind.

"We can't continue. We forfeit."

Update 5:
Spoiler: show

The sparring match was revving to a blistering pace and the opponents weren’t about to let up; Over Mind cast aside, the fighting-types only have eyes for Red Devil, the bluish Spheres of Aura bowling down the lawn at breakneck speed. The martial monkey makes no attempt to escape, eyes resting as it leaned into a technique of its own design – untested, the punch blows up in his face. The Infernape collapses in a pile against the freshly razed grass, the globules of fighting energy passing over him completely. While the Meditite efforts to redirect the projectiles it fails in its endeavour too. Lucario and Mienfoo look utterly nonplussed, the female elder sharing their reaction until her lips curl into a smile, a strange glint of knowing in her eyes. The battle was over before it had truly started, your adrenaline subsiding leaving utter deflation in its place. Infernape and Meditite gain one level! Your forfeit is met with no objections on her part, waving her Pokemon to stand down as she paces to the passed-out primate.

“I thought you seemed familiar”, the elder remarks cryptically, “Now, I am sure of it – please, come join me at the shrine. There is something you must see there.” The shrine she alluded to was fixed at the centre of the park, nestled behind a cluster blossoming sakuras and a tranquil pond only disturbed by its splashing Magikarp. The traditional Kantonian architecture was a stark contrast to the surrounding tower blocks; perhaps a tour would offer the serenity needed to clear your collective heads. So, will you entertain the old crone or slink away in embarrassment?

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show

Blake approached RED DEVIL at the same time as the elder, dropping to one knee. BLACK FIST followed, but it was clear by its overall demeanour that the Pancham was more than just disappointed - it was angry at Blake for throwing the match away. The Galarian man was aware of his Pokemon's opinion, of course, but mostly just shrugged it off - in due time, and with age, BLACK FIST would learn to pick its battles too.

"We said we'd do it together, RED... Why the bloody hell would you go at it by yourself?..."

OVER MIND walked over to the group as well, limping and looking utterly dejected by its failure. By all accounts it should have done better, even if its bond with Blake wasn't as long-lasting as RED DEVIL's. It had battled and survived fights against both Primal Dialga and the self-entitled Eldritch Champion... why was it no match for a regular Lucario and Mienfoo?!

It was then that the old woman made a surprising remark, unsettling even. Because Blake took pride in his memory as much as his training skills, and the woman had just insulted them both in the span of a few minutes.

"I'm, uh... pretty certain we've never met before, sensei. Trust me, I'd remember an old badg... warrior with your talent. I mean."

That being said, her offer was not only friendly, but sensible. It stood to reason that a temple for martial artists would hold means to heal them after their training sessions, and both Infernape and Meditite needed it. Blake, in turn, could stand to take a load off after being so summarily reminded of his shortcomings, while BLACK FIST would certainly benefit from a peaceful atmosphere and less hot-headed company for a while as well.

"We'll follow; not sure what it is you wanna show me that this beating hasn't already, but fine."

Update 6:
Spoiler: show

Humiliation hangs in the air as defeat starts to sink in; the match was over before it had really started, your teammates robbed of the chance to demonstrate their potential. While you can’t help feeling the sensei has you confused with someone else, you decide to entertain her offer – if only for a chance to salvage some lesson from the disastrous schooling. She bows farewell to her students, most dispersing to the bustling city streets while others made for the temple. With her Pokemon drawing line, she ushers you to do the same, leaving the razed battleground behind and with any luck, the lingering sense of failure.

“You are welcome to call me Sensei, but my real name is Sen Hime, or Sen for short. Which is not that far from Sensei, now that I think of it,” Sen has the sort of playful demeanour that many lose in their later years, wearing a smile more often than not. She makes a point to escort you past the mob of mixed martial artists, their fighting style a complete juxtaposition to her’s.

“A people without the knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots,” She remarks, “Our descendants fight with the energy of the big city but they forget their ancestry; fighting for them is entertainment, where we came from it was a way of life.” She leaves you to chew on that thought as she guides you through a traditional Torii gate and into the temple grounds. You are greeted by the cloying aroma of sakura trees, blossoms coating their branches like pink frosting. The grounds were bustling with monks and spiritually inclined Pokemon, some chanting prayers while others sat in deep meditation.

“This temple exists as a reminder of the old ways, our roots in Kanto. It changes like the seasons, but at its heart remains the same – come and see.” She pulls you through the tranquil bustle to an ornate pillared structure. Soft candlelight illuminates its entrance, a fog of incense attacking your senses as you gingerly approach. The room has all the typical trappings of a place of holiness, lined with statues of Pokemon held sacred in the shared lore of Kanto and Johto – leading to an odd wooden box which seems notably shabbier than the rest of the fixtures. There were all sorts of offerings piled up in front of the unusual monument, from berries to gold coins.

“This shrine came from our homeland; it is not unlike the one in Johto’s Ilex Forest. Please, take a closer look.” She shoos you forward eagerly. Before you can step any further you are overcome with a strange sensation, triggered by merely locking eyes with the shrine. The feeling of inertia is not unlike that of the singularity at Dialga’s Gate. It was said that the trace energies lingered about the city to this day... but here, and now? Such thoughts were impossible to hold onto as the dizzying feeling intensifies and your vision starts to blur – memories of past, present and future playing over in your mind like a movie reel. You feel your legs give way as the ground falls from beneath your feet…

Mysterious Location

You come to with a weary groan, crawling to your feet and batting away the dust. Your mouth is dry with thirst, the weather all of a sudden humid, like you had been cast into a different climate altogether. It felt like waking up from a deep slumber, your mind taking a moment to recollect what had happened the moments before sedation; Red Devil, Over Mind and Black Fist appear equally nonplussed. You were spread about a deserted street, rows of traditional Kantonian houses on either side topped with thatched, pointed roofs reminiscent of a bygone era. There was a still silence in the air, the local taverns and bath houses shuttered without a soul in sight. Beyond the street you were surrounded by rolling hills littered in autumn foliage, and not a skyscraper to be seen. It was clear you weren’t in the big city anymore.

A beat of rapid footsteps breaks the silence, setting your team on high guard. The sound reaches a crescendo and a Riolu and Mienfoo break onto the scene, each sporting a green armband. The speed of their sprint sends the alley up in dust, the duo vaulting up onto the roof as a means of avoiding your unintended roadblock. They were gone as quick as they came, paying you no mind in their hurriedness. The noise of their footsteps against the rafters seems to stir a local proprietor out of hiding, dressed in traditional Kantonian garb and sporting a look of trepidation.

“What the hell are you doing outside my tea shop? Did you not hear that we are under siege?!”

Reply 6:
Spoiler: show

His homeland of Galar had its share of silly tales, mutts holding swords in their teeth and all that nonsense… but good ol’ Kanto had always been in a league of its own as far as mystic crap was concerned.

“Nice box,” he managed to say through his teeth in a poor effort to sound respectful. From what little he’d come to know of Sen Hime, Blake doubted she would mind his lack of effort. “I mean, shrine.”

As per her insistence, he approached the supposedly holy artifact, OVER MIND inclined to do the same with much more conviction than its master. BLACK FIST, too young to know the concept of “pretending to care”, rolled its eyes and yawned loudly. But then…

This again? I’ve felt this before… This aura…

The Meditite felt it too, Blake could tell. A powerful energy emanated from the unassuming wooden object, something that reminded them both of…

Dialga?!

Before he could make any sense of it, his head started spinning, a rush of unwanted and uninvited memories came flooding through his mind and, for some reason, he felt himself falling down into an invisible abyss…

----

“Ugh… The bloody hell was that?...”

His head hurt, but for someone who’d just fallen into a void of nothingness, thankfully nothing else did. He could stand, and walk, but he couldn’t make sense of any of this.

We ain’t in Little Kanto anymore…

Mercifully, all three of his companions were there with him – looking every bit as confused. Everything around them was different, alarmingly so. It was as if… all of New Fizz had suddenly been styled after that small historical center where he’d just had his ass handed to him by a cheeky old woman.

Cutting his thought process short, a noise in the distance made him tense up. RED DEVIL, seemingly healed, and OVER MIND both assumed battle stances, clearly having heard it too, while BLACK FIST simply continued to look around in awe, oblivious to any commotion.
Before long, a Riolu and Mienfoo came into view, running side by side at incredible speed. Barely paying them any attention, the duo casually leaped over them and continued to run along the rooftops of the funny-looking buildings, making a ruckus as they went. RED DEVIL, whose senses were the sharpest, clearly noticed the green armbands they wore, but Blake too caught a quick glimpse of a green blur as the Pokemon rushed through.

“… hear that we are under siege?!”

Wathcing the two Pokemon vanish into the distance, Blake only paid attention to the very last words spouted by the nearby man in a weird attire, but they were enough to peak his interest, as if everything else going on wasn’t strange enough as it were.

“Oy oy, ‘scuse me mate! Yeah you, the bloke who dresses funny! The hell’s all this about some siege? And where’s Sen Hime? Old hag was ‘ere a minute ago.”

OVER MIND shot him a side glance in disbelief. How much more rude could Blake be to a complete stranger?...

Update 7:
Spoiler: show

Being flung through space and time only one thing was clear... you weren’t in Little Kanto anymore. The befuddlement is only exacerbated as a pair of passing Pokemon leave you choking in their dust, drawing the attention of a grumpy old proprietor. He studies you with a furrowed brow, the elder’s name eliciting a huff on his part.

“Sen Hime?! I assume she is safe behind the fortifications of her castle – you should watch how you speak of a child of noble birth!” Your words seem to leave a nasty taste in the villager’s mouth; he seems all too content in returning to his safe refuge and leaving you to contend with the impending invasion alone, until he hesitates at his doorframe.

“Come inside. We may not be warriors, but the people of Celadon are not the sort to turn our back on a stranger, especially in a time of war.” You gather there must be some legitimacy in his cause for concern for him to be so insistent on helping you, and his invitation does come with a chance to get to the bottom of this unravelling mystery. Brushing the dust away you follow him through the sliding doors to a traditional tearoom, decked with quaint floral arrangements and traditional ink paintings. There are no seats to speak of but small alcoves featuring thick, woven straw mats where it was custom for patrons to kneel, the accompanying tables standing no more than a foot off the ground. The elder offers you a pew as he sets a teapot to boil.

“So tell me, which province are you from? You speak with an unusual tongue and you are clearly not one of the warlord’s men – the Saffron soldiers wouldn’t be caught dead in your unusual garb.” It was difficult to know how to play such a strange situation, the prickly stranger’s offer of refuge from whatever war was waging in the village was tantalising, but perhaps your time was better spent actively searching for a way back home. Will you stay for tea and gather intel, or head back out to the dangerous streets?

Reply 7:
Spoiler: show

Blake’s eyebrow rose instinctively. How was he the one who dressed “unusually”? Coming from some guy who dressed like he was in a bloody medieval fair, no less?

He felt a sudden urge to shake the man violently and order him to stop playing games, but something about all this was off in how… “right” it felt. Like none of this was staged. The props were too realistic, and especially the attention paid to the outdoors scenario. And what had the man just said?

“… Celadon?”

And some nonsense about Sne Him being a young girl in a castle? He struggled not to give away his confusion. If he was being played, well, he had an Infernape next to him, so the charade was only going to go so far until the other man realized he could end up hurt, hopefully. And if all of this was somehow real, well…

“Beg your pardon for askin’, but I seem to have hit my head pretty hard a little while ago. What year is this again, and why are you, uh… “under siege”?...”

He tried his hardest to sound natural. But between the weird effect the shrine had on him, the old hag’s disappearance, the sudden change of scenario and this talk of war between Celadon and Saffron, thousands of miles away from New Fizz City… There was only so much an old Gym Leader like him could interpret on his own before flipping out. He’d always punched better than he talked, and only Arceus knew how badly he wanted to punch someone right now.

Update 8:
Spoiler: show

With the guise of a head injury you begin probing the Kantonian for clues about your whereabouts, or whenabouts. The elder seems dumfounded, face contorting with each question.

“Year?! You must have hit your head hard boy, it’s 1909!” he sighs, setting the table with teacups and easing into a seat as he contemplates the days gone by.

“These are strange times to be alive... I never would have imagined living to witness our feudal era collapse with a new emperor rising to create an industrialised nation state, unafraid of colonisation from the west.” He spat with his last word, likely not privy to your Galarian heritage. “The feudal lords answer to the emperor now, but they are as cruel as before. All except for the lord of Celadon – he has a soft heart and cares more for his people than war or power.” There was a sense of pride in his voice now, which seems to just as quickly taper off into despair.

“The other lords do not believe he has the conviction to realise the emperor’s vision. If the warlord of Saffron marches on our village, they must mean to bring him to heel. Whether his men plan to kill our great leader or simply capture him, I cannot say-” The tea maker is silenced as the steady drumbeat of foot soldiers sends your teacup to a wobble. Then comes the war cry of men and ‘mon. What starts as faint murmurs becomes an all-encompassing ruckus, a cacophony of cannonballs and colossal Pokemon. Loose dust begins to seep from cracks in the ceiling and even with the shutters tight, the acrid smell of gunpowder envelops your nasal cavities. The sounds of war were closing in, and yet it seemed the armies would pay little mind to the quaint refuge.

The earth continues to shake for some time still, the invaders moving in with little resistance – their numbers too great to stir either of you from hiding. A sudden whir nearly knocks the aged proprietor from his seat, the kettle coming to boil. As quick as it had come the cacophony drops to a deadly silence, the rhythmic marching replaced with the weary moans of fallen victims. Perhaps you had waited out the storm for long enough, what will you do?

Reply 8:
Spoiler: show

The hell?...

Things made less and less sense the more the man tried to explain. Somehow, not only had Blake ended up in Celadon City of all places, now he was supposed to believe this was 1909?!

Before he could protest against the deluge of nonsensical crap he was being fed, something outside began to stir. In fact, it was more of a storm than a stirring. A cacophony of sounds none of which Blake could interpret as a good omen filled the house, accompanied by tremors that shook the very foundation of the building and nearly sent everyone to the ground.

RED DEVIL and BLACK FIST both instinctively raised their knuckles, while OVER MIND, more collected, glanced around the house visibly confused. However, it was the moaning and crying which followed the commotion that finally made Blake snap.

"This is ridiculous. The hell's going on here? I'm supposed to believe I landed in some ancient historical warzone?" Rage was beginning to well up inside him. "OLD WOMAN! ENOUGH OF YOUR TRICKS!"

His shouting was, of course, for nothing; "Sensei" either couldn't or wouldn't listen, and nothing about his situation changed.
"Shit. Look, stay here, we'll go see what happened. And uh, thanks for the tea."

With that, the Galarian native walked back outside, accompanied by his Infernape, Meditite and Pancham, mentally bracing himself for the worst in case any hostile presence still lingered behind after all that...

"Listen up all of you. Find anyone badly hurt, lemme know. I'll go take a look around."



Lilblucorsola;
Spoiler: show


Start :
Spoiler: show
"Mm, something sure smells good~"

It had been a long time since Jess last visited the big city, and the scenery certainly seemed to have changed in her absence. New structures paved over old as the place grew more and more industrialized over the years, barely resembling its old self as businesses steadily developed and expanded their empire; grand and imposing skyscrapers towering even taller than she remembered. While all the constructs appeared unfamiliar now, the congestion however remained the same - and this time she hadn't the aid of her sturdy stone steed to help navigate the urban waters and part waves of people with ease.

"Hey, a Sphynx? Isn't that only mythological? Oh, and hey! Riddles! I love those! Rocky, you don't mind a little sand, do you?"

Though the memory was far-off and faded, Jess could vaguely recall having but a handful of friends with her that time, whom she'd endeavored to entice away from argument over their destination by suggesting an educational expedition to a historic archaeological site in the surrounding desert - few of which were enthused by the notion. In fact, as she struggled to recollect some of the blurred faces, she was sadly sure a couple of those companions were no longer with her. ...In turn though, her team had truly grown tremendously in size since then - and while some may indeed have come and gone throughout her life - those who remained were among her most trusted comrades. She too, had matured considerably compared to back then. While a part of her missed those young and wild days of charging headfirst into the unknown - halcyon turning hectic at the drop of a hat - today she was just here to enjoy a light excursion with a number of her newer recruits. Seeking not adventure, but simply a peaceful afternoon of good eating and entertainment.

For that purpose, her goal was to make her way past the hustle and bustle of the main commercial metropolis to the Bohem district, whose quaint coffee shops apparently boasted some of the best pastries in town. Traversing by foot was made more difficult, however, by the sheer amount of attendees she had to keep track of. By her side drifted Blueberry the Drifloon, who had excitedly proposed the trip in the first place. ("Blue" - there was a name that also tickled a strange sense of nostalgia for some reason.) Now the proud owner of a newly opened café herself, she had come to scope out the competition *ahem* perform some field research into improving her recipes. In her hearts she held a picnic basket filled not with food, but two young female ghosts: a Liltwick and Mimikyu, the latter of which looked a little disappointed to be here without her brother as well, pouting plainly for all to see. The fact Jess's squad had become so massive by now meant some members would unfortunately have to be left behind, and Blue's husband Waffle had volunteered to stay and mind the store along with their son. While Pan had been down recently about failing his first battle against a rampaging hat witch, he was feeling a bit better after his success in subduing an unruly sheep in his subsequent attempt; and so had urged his mother and sisters to go on without him to treat themselves for the day, without having to worry about striving to "cheer him up" anymore. Truth be told he had little interest anyway in learning how to cook himself, whereas Patty "needed the experience" - bouncing back to his old teasing behavior as proof of recovery. (Plus, Jess suspected a part of him didn't want to be stuck alone for too long with his younger sibling either, given the rather... "overzealous" level of affection and attachment she'd been exhibiting towards him.)

So today had turned out to be a girls only outing, as beside Blueberry hovered another two of her sugary staff associates: a Vanillite and Milcery, who had eagerly tagged along as a bonus for their hard work (the latter of which had herself originated in an eerily reminiscent eatery environment). In Jess's own arms cuddled the last colleague in their party: a cheerful Pichu who kept enthusiastically clambering up on her trainer's shoulders and head to get a better look at the huge high-rises. Enormous apartment complexes eventually gave way to warehouses converted into galleries and creative studios, signaling arrival at the artisan neighborhood. The Pichu's ears perked and nose quivered as a delicious aroma wafted past, attracting all their senses as they followed the fragrance to the nearest bistro with available outdoors seating. Upon finally finding an open space to accommodate such a large group and being politely shown to a table, Jess keenly scanned the menu, seeing some similar takes on classic dishes as Blue's but also a few new offerings she'd never tried before. After confirming everyone's selections, Jess inhaled a deep breath when the waiter came by to take their order before listing off one by one:

"For drinks, we'll have three Lilt- Litwick Hot Cocoas, a Nutty Buneary Frappé and Poppin' Pachirisu Float, Miltank Mix au Lait, and Lilligant Floral Tea please. Can we then get a Dugtrio Sandwich Trio, Eiscue Caprese Salad, Cheesy Rowlet Pizza, Piquant Pikachu Curry, Yummy Yamper Pasta, Gratin a la Pumpkaboo, and some Rainbow Oricorio Popcorn? For dessert we'd also like to try the Fluffy Eevee Pancakes, Combee Waffles with Honey, Burnt-Caramel Vulpix Sundae, Swablu Shaved Ice, Pikachu Fruit Flan, Decorated Alcremie Cupcakes, and a Ribombee Chocolate Cake. ...Erm, if it's not too much trouble."

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

Something smelled good as you passed by shop facades familiar and new with a colourful cast of Pokemon in tow. It had been years since you last stepped foot in the big smoke, the return not brought on by some call to adventure but rather the prospect of a lighthearted ladies lunch. Milcery Patisserie promises to deliver just that, its rustic-chic, exposed-brick interior instantly transporting you away from the city hustle. The café was bustling with sounds of ambient jazz and idle chit-chat and like the pit crew on a track, staff were quickly and efficiently shuffling guests through the ordering process. Upon finding seats your table is waited on not by a human server but one of the café namesakes, a Milcery at your service with a notepad in hand. The waitstaff were distinguishable by accessory only, a strawberry sweet lodged in the corner of this one’s forehead where a hairclip might typically be worn. A creamy bead of sweat forms on the waitstaff's brow as it efforts to jot to the speed of your order, feigning confidence with each growing list item. It calls over a few colleagues to confer, a star sweet Milcery asking you to repeat parts of the order while a berry sweet Milcery tried to decipher its colleague’s shoddy handwriting. A short back and forth ensues – Miruku even helping serve as interpreter – until customer and waitstaff are in total agreement and your order is sent off to the kitchen.

Their diligence appeared to have paid off as your drinks were served shortly thereafter, the Milcery correctly noting which beverage belonged to who as they made rounds with glasses and mugs of all shapes and sizes. The presentation couldn’t be faulted, each mug adorned with intricate artwork and delectable toppings. You all take a moment to soak up the sights and scents before going in for a taste. The party’s exclamations of approval are decidedly premature as each beverage carries a peculiar aftertaste; the marshmallows of the Hot Litwick Cocoa came with a burnt tinge, while the berries of the Miltank Mix au Lait were frozen solid, the Poppin' Pachirisu Float gave a nasty shock when held and the cookies in the Nutty Buneary Frappe were as hard as hockey pucks, threatening to chip a tooth! The slights could perhaps be forgiven if not for the Lilligant Floral Tea, colour draining from its drinker’s face with a taste so foul that it’s spat out immediately. It seemed strange a café that consistently topped the must-visit lists could botch an order so badly, and this was before your food had even arrived. Being in the hospitality business provided much of your company with an empathy for these sorts of mishaps, but perhaps for the sake of the other customers you ought to speak up. What will you do?

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

Jess could see their server struggling to keep up with the ever increasing list of items, and so made a considerate effort to speak as slowly as possible in order to give the poor thing a chance to catch up. A dollop of nervous sweat rolled down the Milcery's forehead as she called over a few of her cohorts for assistance, and Jess couldn't help but coo at how each sported a different adorable accessory like a hairclip (reminding of the cute waitress outfits her own Sewaddle had stitched for Blue's waitstaff). Miruku hovered over to help act as translator, having her own experience with waiting on a particularly large party (not to mention similar sloppy handwriting).

Eventually they managed to correctly convey each Pokémon's preference and instructions were quickly relayed to the kitchen. Shortly after their beverages were brought out, each accurately assigned to the right requester with picture-perfect presentation. Everyone exclaimed in delight as they eagerly sampled the lovely-looking drinks - only to discover something seemed a bit... "off" about the taste. Patty and Mimi wrinkled their noses at the slightly burnt hints in their cocoa, as Miru herself picked out the marshmallows to discover the bottoms were mostly brown and black rather than white, charred as dark as the chocolate itself. Kimball meanwhile attempted to nibble on the cookie toppings in her frappé, finding herself unable to even crack a corner beyond the cream tufts. Jess blinked as she warily tested the berries in her own milkshake, which were also frozen stone cold. The only one who didn't seem to mind the mistake in her delivery was Momo, who giggled as the sudden burst of static tickled her cheeks, tingling with excitement over the extra punch to the Pachirisu-themed float.

Jess puzzled over how bizarre it was that a business which boasted such a charming atmosphere and supposed 5-star popularity could bumble an entire order this badly (and before even getting to the main entrée course). Being incredibly shy as she was, Jess was resigned to let the surprisingly shoddy service slide and not raise a fuss over it, but the moment Blue raised the teacup to her crossed lips and took an unsuspecting sip, they pursed immediately as if having just swallowed a sour patch. The dye drained instantly from her face until she resembled a teru teru bozu, spitting out the offending liquid with an indignant sputter like acid rain. Unable to stand for such an insult to chefs everywhere, the Drifloon's culinary compulsiveness kicked in as she determinedly rose up to demand to speak to the manager (in a rather loud and abrasive tone, much to her children's embarrassment) and learn the root of the problem, before her trainer could even endeavor to calm her. Jess sighed, recognizing there was nothing she could do to stop the busybody balloon from insistently butting in and fixing the issue herself if she had to. So much for their peaceful "ladies' luncheon"...

Update 2:
Spoiler: show

There was naught for it but to hang your head in embarrassment as Blueberry literally huffed to the counter. If words could kill, the Milcery on the receiving end of the Maître d's rampage would have keeled over by now, shrinking to the size of a puddle before slinking off to the back room to find someone - anyone - better equipped to deal with the situation. The answer came in a comely blonde woman in her mid-thirties, her smile doing everything to hide her visible exhaustion. While the Drifloon’s blustering is for the most part incoherent, the manager is able to decipher the nature of the complaint quick enough, apparently not the first concerning spoiled beverages of late. She makes a beeline for your table before lowering her head in flustered apology.

“Je suis désolé… I am terribly sorry!” she starts in an elegant Kalosian accent, “We had our third barista quit and my husband, he is managing both food and drink orders. Let me go speak to him, I will replace the drinks right away – they are on the house, of course.” She rushes through to the kitchen and for a moment it seemed the small hiccup wouldn’t mar your sisterly outing, even Blueberry beginning to deflate to her usual size. The calm is fleeting though, the relaxing ambiance drowned out by a shouting match at the rear of the café.

“I’m tellin’ ya honey IT WASN’T ME!” his voice boomed over the chatter of patrons and then some, the local city accent a stark contrast his softly spoken partner’s. The quarrel is enough to intrigue the bulk of customers into complete silence while you sink deeper into your chair. “Someone’s sabotaging the drinks orders and I’m not talkin’ about the coffee machine going haywire!” You peek across to the kitchen and through the serving hatch where the young chef could be seen behind countless order tickets, red in the face as he raised his hands in exasperation. While you could hardly discern the wife’s rebuttal it had apparently done nothing to cool his jets, the chef pâtissier tossing his hat on the floor with a grunt and giving it a firm stomp before storming through the front of house and out the doors. The woman gave chase until the doors swung shut in front of her, picking up the trodden chef’s hat and bursting into tears, each and every Milcery meanwhile devolving into panic mode. While an introvert’s nightmare turned real, you can’t help wondering if you should, uh, do something?

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show

Jess could only attempt to hide her head helplessly as Blue huffed and puffed straight to the service counter, inflating irritably as the receiving victim of her matronly wrath shriveled in turn. The poor verbal punching bag practically melted into a pile of putty from the balloon's scathing outburst, before retreating to the back room to find someone in charge to help bail her out of the situation. She soon returned with a lovely fair-haired lady who, despite her polite demeanor, clearly showed signs of stress and fatigue. While it was difficult to decipher the Drifloon's exact dialogue (which was perhaps for the best), she quickly grasped the gist of the grievance and hurried over to Jess's table with an apologetic bow, evidently having dealt with this kind of unfortunate incident before.

"Je suis désolée…" It was Jess's turn to mentally translate, remembering at least that much from her Kalosian language lessons in school, before the woman caught and corrected herself anyway. "I am terribly sorry! We had our third barista quit and my husband, he is managing both food and drink orders. Let me go speak to him, I will replace the drinks right away – they are on the house, of course."

Satisfied by the remedial response, Blueberry nodded in approval as the manager promptly hastened to the kitchen. The Drifloon began to deflate back to normal, and Jess breathed out in relief, hoping nothing else catastrophic would occur to put a dent in their day off...

"I’m tellin’ ya honey IT WASN’T ME!"

Jess froze as a brash, obviously local accent bellowed out from the back, slicing through the stillness and startling the younger members of her party. The clash continued between the thunderous storm and his gentle but persistent partner, causing several other patrons to stir and crane their necks to see what the ruckus was about. Through the hatch the husband could be seen standing behind countless expectant tickets as he threw his hands up in the air, face fully flushed from frustration.

"Someone’s sabotaging the drinks orders and I’m not talkin’ about the coffee machine going haywire!"

Jess shamefully slid down further in her chair, as even Blueberry appeared a bit uncomfortable as the colorful argument completely drowned out the ambient atmosphere. The Drifloon looked guiltily at her distressed daughters as Patty covered Mimi's ears to protect her baby sister's sensitivities at least, while Kim and Miru exchanged nervous glances. (Momo meanwhile continued to simply sip on her soda, blissfully unaware of the chaos ensuring around her.) Though they couldn't make out much of the rest of the mumbled conversation, the wife's reply definitely didn't win the man over as he ripped off his white chef's hat and flung it to the floor, stamping flat with his foot for good measure. He then proceeded to stalk right out the door, leaving his stunned spouse behind as she gingerly lifted the compacted cap and began crying. The image almost reminded Jess of a certain animated comedic skit between an adorable married couple - inadvertent insult over faulty food and remorseful chase turned running gag - only with roles reversed. But this was no laughing matter as the Milcery swirled in a flustered flurry, unsure what to do as the remaining customers murmured tensely to themselves, wondering if they should leave or not given the supremely awkward air; not to mention the fact no one seemed to be manning the stove anymore.

Mortified at having ultimately made such a huge scene after all, Jess was tempted to just leave advance payment for the meal and strive to sneak away unnoticed, but Blue shook her head, determined to right what she had wrought. Calling out cooking gaffes was one thing, but she certainly hadn't meant to stoke any flames to instigate marital strife. Being wed to her own business associate herself, she understood how devastating losing one's other half in both personal and professional affairs could be.

Hovering over to the sobbing mess, she contritely offered out a handkerchief before pointing towards the kitchen, then at herself, gesturing to her supporting cast as well. Sensing imminent confusion, Jess inhaled deeply as she cleared her throat and steeled her confidence, speaking up softly to explain.

"Hi, uh, I'm really sorry we caused so much trouble for you and your husband... Um, if it would help, my Drifloon's actually a pretty good cook so she can take over the orders while you look for him. She also runs a café, and some of the staff is here too so they can help out as well. Maybe we can also try to figure out what's causing the issue with the drinks?"

Update 3:
Spoiler: show

The lovers’ quarrel had left the kitchen deserted and front of house in disarray, the waitstaff melting under unsurmountable pressure. Dollops of cream splattered across the carpets as they ricocheted from wall to wall in hysterics, doing nothing to abate the piling order tickets and customers’ wearing patience. It would be just as easy to pay and dash but a collective sense of duty compels your lunch party to don their chef hats instead. In that moment the jilted maître d’ forgets to sob, blinking in disbelief.

“You and your Drifloon would really help me? Merci, merci beacoup!” Her foreign affectation requires no translation as she wipes away her tears and grabs your hands in a gesture of unbridled gratitude, escorting you out of the chaos and through to the kitchen which would serve as your work station for the day. The state-of-the-art appliances were a café owners' dream, if not for the sorry state left by the chef pâtissier’s sudden exit; the worktops were a mess of flour and dough, littered with uncooked pastries and half-decorated cakes. The stoves had boiled over and a distinct scent of burnt pastries causes your nostrils to wrinkle, black fumes seeping from cracks in the ovens.

With Blue assembling her team to familiarise with the kitchen you’re led to the drinks station, the apparent root of the problem. “Where are my manners?” the busybody exclaims while taking apart the equipment, “I don’t think I ever introduced myself, my name is Malori.” While exchanging pleasantries you leave no stone unturned, inspecting everything from blenders and roasters to steamers and stoves; giving even the ingredients a taste test you find them nothing but delicious and fresh, a stark contrast to what had been served up a short while prior. It was all very peculiar, a sentiment Malori seems to share as she curses in her local tongue.

“All working à la perfection”, she utters in sardonic laughter, “The moment you show someone a problem it often just magically fixes itself, huh? I want to believe my husband is telling the truth, but he has been out of sorts ever since the accident...” The maître d’s gaze seemed to wonder off with the tail end of her sentence, a trauma she was alluding to still paining her to this day.

“The year we opened the patisserie was the worst year of our lives. But for me, getting this café off the ground became my only distraction. Patrick on the other hand, I think he resents all the time I put into our business. It has been eating away at him for years and I fear that this time he won’t come back.” The woman fell into tears against the kitchen top, louder than before despite the racket of a kitchen in chaos. It was difficult to discern how to console her but perhaps actions would speak louder than words. With order tickets stacked to the nines, helping clear the afternoon rush seemed like the best place to focus efforts; Blue bobs to the ticket bar right on que, roles divided and raring to go:
Code:
2x Combee Waffles with Honey (1 with extra honey)
1x Happy Snorlax Loco Moco
Code:
1x Gratin a la Pumpkaboo
1x Dugtrio Sandwich Trio
2x Happy Snorlax Loco Moco
Code:
3x Cheesy Rowlet Pizza (1 gluten-free base)
1x Dugtrio Sandwich Trio
1x Yummy Yamper Pasta
2x Eevee Latte (both with soy milk)
Code:
5x Decorated Alcremie Cupcakes
5x Lilligant Floral Tea
Code:
3x Eevee Latte (1 with almond milk)
Please describe how you would restore order to the kitchen and beat the lunchtime rush through the help of your team, in as simple or detailed terms as you wish. Imagine the patisserie has all the typical trappings of a five-star café.

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show

Upon receiving a sign of salvation from the very one who had "sabotaged" her business, the woman brightened and thanked profusely in her native tongue, grasping Jess's hands to lead the embarrassed girl and her group to the kitchen - which was, frankly, a disaster. Flour coated the counters like a heavy snowfall, with wads of raw dough and unfinished pastries piled high. The stoves were bubbling to an overflow and black smoke billowed forth from the ovens, as the overwhelming odor of something burning attacked all their senses.

Blue and her team immediately set to work tidying up the space to a usable - if not at least semi-recognizable - degree, as Patty quickly cleared away ruined pots and pans with her TELEKINESIS before replacing with clean utensils, whilst Mimi enthusiastically COPYCATed her sister's movements (unfortunately making even more of a mess until Blue hurriedly intervened and handed her youngest daughter a coloring book and crayons to keep her occupied). Meanwhile the maître d’, who introduced herself as "Malori", showed Jess the inner workings of the disobedient drink device. Despite taking the appliance apart entirely to examine its guts and even sample the ingredients, which tasted fine and fresh, they could find nothing apparently wrong with the machinery.

"All working à la perfection," Malori chuckled sarcastically. "The moment you show someone a problem it often just magically fixes itself, huh? I want to believe my husband is telling the truth, but he has been out of sorts ever since the accident…"

Her words trailed off at that point, misty eyes sliding off into the distance. Again, Jess was too shy to ask for further details, but it was clear she was recalling some sort of deep pain in her past.

"The year we opened the patisserie was the worst year of our lives," she continued with a heavy sigh. "But for me, getting this café off the ground became my only distraction. Patrick on the other hand, I think he resents all the time I put into our business. It has been eating away at him for years and I fear that this time he won’t come back."

Remembering her husband's seething rage as he ran away, she burst again into tears as she laid her head upon the tabletop and proceeded to sob uncontrollably. Having little experience with relationships, let alone the courage to try and console, Jess nervously determined the best they could do for now was make it through the afternoon rush so she could at least cry in peace and get all the emotions out. Blue rolled up her strings and approached the ticket window to glance over the orders, before clapping her hearts for attention and barking out to assign roles.

Pointing to Miru first, she instructed the experienced waitress to go out and get the rest of the staff calm and under control with her AROMATHERAPY, as well as explain to the customers the hold-up and please ask for their patience. Shifting into professional mode, the Milcery nodded and headed out to herd up the horde of hysteric blobs currently bouncing off the walls and ceiling, smearing everything in off-white cream. Seeing as a second extra server wouldn't be necessary so long as Miru could effectively handle the situation outside, Momo was to remain on-call in the kitchen and lend a HELPING HAND where needed. She and Kimball were thus delegated to decorating duty; though there weren't any dessert requests at the moment that specifically required a frozen touch, Kim could at least AUTOTOMIZE the process of plating to finish dishes faster in timely fashion, yet still ensure the appearance was exquisitely attractive as befitting a five-star restaurant.

As for Jess herself, she couldn't boast much culinary confidence other than aiding to ready the rice and pasta, so was content to simultaneously struggle with wrangling the soda contraption into producing satisfactory results. Though she didn't know much about making coffee or tea either, having familiarized herself with its components she felt the system seemed simple enough for her to understand. Meanwhile, Patty eagerly went to join the balloon at the bench in expectation of helping her mother with the main courses. Blueberry smiled awkwardly however and denied needing assistance, patting her eldest and suggesting she go play with Mimi for now to keep watch and make sure she didn't get into any trouble. The candle's flame drooped as she pouted in obvious disappointment to be stuck with babysitting, frustrated at being brushed off so easily when it came to a matter of public pride. She knew her own cooking skills sucked, but how was she going to get better if she wasn't permitted to practice? ...More than that though, she just wanted to spend some quality time with her parent. Truth be told she was feeling somewhat snubbed lately in favor of her little brother, who'd been pampered like a prince while going through his "funk" (and admittedly the addition of another baby in the family only intensified her feelings of being ignored). Watching her mum hum happily as she began CUTting up vegetables for the gratin, the left out Liltwick decided to vent her annoyance by booting the beverage apparatus in PAYBACK for robbing her of today's chance to just enjoy a nice meal with her mom.

Update 4:
Spoiler: show

With the café’s untarnished review score (and owners’ marriage) at stake, the ragtag lunch party put their culinary skills to work in efforts to return the kitchen to ship shape. With a touch of Telekinesis the workspace was scrubbing up well, allowing its newest recruits to fall into their assigned roles like Ducklett to water. And those not assigned a role, well. While Mimi was happy enough with her crayons, Patty’s feelings of neglect begin to flare up. She pays little mind to the sister she was tasked to supervise - the Mimikyu beginning to colour outside of the pages and onto the floors - as she lets her pent up emotions get the best of her with a kick to the drinks station, a small Payback for ruining her day.

As one of the restaurant's namesakes, Miruku bobs through to the front of house to rally its agitated attendants. A chemical reaction sets off within her essence as she deploys a Therapeutic scent to the already delectable Aroma of pastries and roasted beans, calming the nerves of her creamy colleagues. With an encouraging pep talk and a kitchen back in order, the waitstaff settle down and return to bussing the tables. The calming scent must have rubbed off on the patrons some too, most accepting the wait time while those in a rush politely cancel their orders and go about their day.

Back in the kitchen the pots, pans and surfaces had been scrubbed to a sparkle and its staff were functioning like a well-oiled machine. Blue was Cutting vegetables with michelin star precision, as much comfortable in this kitchen as her own. While no frozen dessert orders had come through, Kimball had proven quite the capable cake decorator, Momo lending a Helping Hand here and there too. The Vanillite would also fall onto dish duty between orders, blitzing through piles of dirty plates with the Automation of a high range dishwasher. And while no confident kitchen hand yourself, with some practice you get the hang of the beverage station, wondering if the talk of tampering had been hearsay after all. Ticket orders were disappearing before your eyes and the little chefs were soon enough able to work at a more leisurely pace. Hours seem to fly by with the activities providing their own flavour of fun and team bonding, if not quite what you had bargained for.

“That’s the lunchtime rush all cleared!” Malori exclaims with delight as a few tables shuffle out, “I think it’s time you had something to eat too, no? Please take your pick of anything you like.” With the café starting to quiet down your team take up Malori’s offer and start to wrangle up lunches of their own, having built quite the appetite from such honest, hard work. Bellies rumbling everyone’s lunch orders were soon accounted for, except for Patty and Mimi, who you come to realise have been missing for hours...

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show

With a plan firmly in place, Jess and her Pokémon swiftly set about getting the pastry shop back in proper order. Miruku made her way to the front of the store and emitted a comforting fragrance to her fellow cream mates, calming them considerably as she informed her friends were currently covering the kitchen and not to worry. Anarchy subsided as the waitresses all assembled once again under a new leadership, who proceeded to further explain the situation to any remaining patrons - most of whom understood and decided to wait patiently, whilst others who had somewhere to be politely withdrew instead.

Meanwhile within the kitchen Blue was taking full charge with such skill and expertise it was as if she herself were several chefs at once, juggling almost all orders simultaneously with ease. Chopping, slicing, dicing, boiling, broiling, baking - the balloon bobbed from task to task without even breaking a sweat, clearly at home in her element. Even Kim with her enhanced speed found herself having trouble keeping up with the Drifloon's indomitable energy, barely processing plates as fast as the cook finished frying them. She and Momo felt the heat and pressure driving them half-crazy as they scrambled to arrange eggs on the many Moco Locos, drizzling gravy and carefully drawing Snorlax's slant eyes atop the ground beef patties. (Incidentally, in all the hustle and bustle amidst the chaos of the kitchen, none seemed to notice Patty and Mimi hadn't made a peep in quite a while...)

As they began to clear orders one by one though, the gang discovered a steady rhythm and relaxed as they fell into their regular sync, with Kim even finding time to quickly scrub the dirty dishes piling up beside the sink in between tickets. When it came time to decorate the desserts, she did her best to meet the standards of her boss's scrutinizing inspection, utilizing her own vanilla swirl as a reference. Though the exacting examiner wouldn't permit anything less than perfect to pass, the Vanillite's practice with serving soft serves certainly came in handy when handling the pipette. (Meanwhile Momo assisted by heaping bountiful helpings of honey on the Combee Waffles - whilst also helping herself to a smotheringly sweet mouthful here and there.)

As for Jess, she found herself experiencing relatively little issue with operating the drinks machine, puzzling if perhaps the ruined results from earlier were simply a fluke after all. By the time the lunchtime rush had cleared, surprisingly zero complaints had cropped up and the final customers departed full and satisfied, safely leaving 5-star review scores intact. Malori in the meantime had fully recovered her composure and thanked the group for rescuring her restaurant's reputation, allowing free further use of the facilities to finally fulfill their own food cravings. Blue promptly whipped up some quick lunches for her and the kids, starting with some Dugtrio Sandwiches as appetizers to snack on whilst waiting for the main courses. (Since Kim couldn't handle hot meals anyway she got started first on the second round with simply enjoying an Eiscue Caprese Salad.) With the dining area now empty and expectedly quiet until dinnertime, Miru returned to the smell of deliciousness as Blue also offered her some Rainbow Oricorio Popcorn to share with her cohorts - as a treat for working so well together and managing to keep the communications side under control. Soon Momo was munching happily on a platter of Pikachu Piquant Curry, and Jess was just about to fork into her Yummer Yamper Pasta when Blue pulled a fresh Rowlet Pizza piping hot from the oven and called for Mimi - only to receive no answer. Strange, the vegetable soup she had lovingly prepared for Patty was also sitting untouched, gratin growing cold in its Pumpkaboo bowl...

Glimpsing around anxiously, her mother's instinct alarmed as she started to panic, bouncing all over the countertops as she cried out for her lost babies, checking even inside the cupboards in case they were playing Hide-and-Seek. Her colleagues strove to try and get her to calm down as Jess nervously looked towards the beverage station, recalling she last saw the pair near there. There was Mimi's coloring book splayed open on the floor, with crayon marks leading outside the lines and onto the clean white tiles - but no sign of the avant garde artist or her supposed supervisor. The girl gulped as she glanced back to the hyperventilating inflatable, who was breathing in and out of a brown paper bag provided as she went back and forth from the size of a grape to a beach ball within seconds; this time being the one to burst into hysteric sobs upon losing not just one - but two of her loved ones. Jess's other Pokémon watched in concern as their normally strict but level-headed employer collapsed in on herself, deflating dramatically and crumpling into a crying raisin. Unsure how to help, they shook their heads when Jess questioned to indicate they had no idea where the missing Liltwick and Mimikyu might have gone to, having been too preoccupied with their own duties. Possessing no other leads, Jess turned desperately to Malori in hopes she might have witnessed something despite her own emotional outburst at the time.

"Ms- er, Mrs? Malori, you wouldn't happen to have seen where my Lilt- Litwick and Mimikyu went, did you?" She stammered and winced internally at the Freudian slip, realizing she really had to get used to the candle species' proper pronunciation around others (especially humans), let alone carrying a conversation with confidence. "They're Drifloon's adopted children you see, and it's not like them to wander off like that without telling their mom first..." More quietly, she added: "Well, Mimi maybe since she's still young, but Patty should know better by now. I can't imagine how they could've just vanished since we were in a confined space all this time, but I'm afraid if anything bad happened to them while we weren't looking..."

Update 5:
Spoiler: show

If only she could see her doting mother now. Blueberry was bounding and rebounding from cupboard, countertop and pantry in search of the strayed sisters, phasing into every nook and cranny to no avail. There were no drippings of wax, no scribblings of crayon, nothing so much as a trace of their last whereabouts. Deflating like a leftover party decoration, there was nothing else for it but to flag the disappearance with the jilted cafe owner, despite what struggles were bearing down on her already. Before she can even respond a movement behind you steals away her attention, colour draining from her face as though she’d seen a ghost. You could only hope so, spinning around to investigate.

All work and no play makes Pat a dull man!
All play and no work makes Pat a dull mon!​

The childlike voice permeates through the very walls, fading into laughter as the lights and appliances flicker on and off with a mind of their own. Malori releases a high pitch shriek as the crockery comes to life before your eyes, an unseen Poltergeist releasing pots, pans, plates and cutlery from their gravitational ties and into a kitchen whirlpool. Its invisible ebbs and flows paid little mind to the kitchen staff as you duck to avoid the wayward cookware. Some of your teammates weren’t so lucky as the spiral turned with dizzying intensity, a saucer wedging into Kimball’s head while a teacup scoops up Momo and pulls her into the swirling vortex like an amusement ride. A flustered Miruku enters the scene to check in on the holdup, only to be met by the swing of a runaway rolling pin! Against the strobe lighting you peer into the eye of the storm, spotting an ornate tea set dissimilar to the contemporary cafe fare. Malori was wide eyed and shaking as she covered her mouth in terror; fixated on the teapot and cups above all else, there is a peculiar sense of knowing behind her blue eyes. Were the girls playing tricks? With sharp knives revolving a hair's breadth away, the supernatural goings on felt far from child’s play. It seemed behind the spiralling crockery there was a new presence in your midst. Or rather, a presence that had been there all along. What will you do?

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show

Before Malori could even reply, something seemed to catch the woman's eye as the color faded fast from her face, and Jess spun around to see what could've whitened her expression to such an extent. A sing-song voice rang out, elated and elevated in pitch like a child:

All work and no play makes Pat a dull man!
All play and no work makes Pat a dull mon!​


The lilt giggled and lights began to blink on and off as Malori screamed, stimulating silverware to seemingly waken and rise at the alarm's sound, swirling violently into a vortex formed in the center of the room. Pots and pans flew haphazardly everywhere, as Jess desperately dodged sharp knives and forks whilst a loose plate even lodged into Kim's forehead like a discus; soft frozen fresh fortunately more slighted than significantly harmed. As the slurred slush struggled in an attempt to remove the foreign topping, a cup simultaneously swooped down and scooped up Momo, who squeed with delight as the container spun her around like a twirling tea ride. Meanwhile Miruku re-entered the kitchen after distributing the colorful corn treats to her cohorts only to find a scene of complete chaos once again, barely ducking to avoid a surprise strike out by a rolling pin - battering up against the wrong kind of batter.

Seeing this, Blueberry stretched out one of her strings and snagged the wooden instrument as it whizzed by, still straining the other to cling onto a cupboard handle to prevent being sucked into the cyclone herself. Squinting into the middle of the maelstrom, she spotted a strangely decorative drinking set which seemed to be the source of the supernatural wind, which Malori's horrified gaze was fixated on as well. The balloon's beady eyes narrowed as she glared at what she assumed to be their uninvited ghostly guest's vessel. Whatever this mysterious, mischievous manifestation was after, Blue at current didn't care the least bit as it clearly knew something about where her girls had gone to. The presence invoking Patty's name was a big mistake, as she'd make the pot spill its liquid guts if she had to in order to bring her daughters home safe. Focusing her energies in an effort to DISABLE the dancing china, the mad mother released her hold and sailed straight into the eye of the storm with a primal war cry, angrily raising the blunt club above in preparation to smack and shatter the porcelain poltergeist, threatening to chop off its head if it didn't reveal the location of her children - or else release them from whatever prison the kidnapper had spirited them away to - right this instant.

Update 6:
Spoiler: show

It was a culinary cabaret! Momo squeaks with delight as she’s pulled into its gravitational well, your buffeted teammates meanwhile failing to see the fun in it, least of all Blueberry with a supposed kidnapper at the thick of the calamity. Her motherly instincts fire her up like a hot air balloon, one string tied to the kitchen fixtures while the other fastened around a stray rolling pin, primed to pulverise the porcelain poltergeist. Where others were rightly spooked, the Driftloon bobs right into the epicentre of paranormal activity. There’s a short battle of willpower as she Disables the puppetry one piece of tableware at a time, a wayward kitchen knife succumbing to gravity seconds before it can burst her bubble. You cover your ears against the ensuing clang and clamour, the Pichu springing from her cup and escaping a crash landing in the nick of time.

To everyone’s surprise the tea set falls with the rest of the crockery, a few of its cups and saucers shattering entirely while others were preserved with minor chips and cracks. The decoy teapot had been brewing something though, its essence spilling out over the tiled floor. You peer past the ceramic mosaic to no ordinary black tea puddle, but what appeared to be a window into another world. Whatever ethereal entity had the kitchen spellbound was no longer in the room with you, likely on another plane entirely. The ripples made it impossible discern where exactly, although you notice a faint candlelight flicker amidst the shadowy abyss.

“That tea set...” Malori murmurs, still visibly shaken. She lowers herself into the debris and examines one of its chipped cups contemplatively. “I know it, it was up in our attic – older than the property itself, we think. Our boy – Remi, against his father’s wishes would sneak up there and play with it. He was such a strong willed little boy...” The maître d's mind was clearly elsewhere, she’d be no help to your rescue efforts in such a fragile state. It seemed few of you would be on that note; the liquid anomaly seems only to react to Blueberry’s touch, it was a passage laid exclusively for the undead.

Reply 6:
Spoiler: show

Like some kind of culinary ninja, Blue darted and dodged projectiles as she dispelled each one, stopping a sharp silver blade in its tracks right before it skewered her into a fruit kabob. A mother on a mission, she had no time for nonsense as she sternly pulled the plug on Momo's ride, the panicked Pichu preemptively abandoning ship to avoid capsizing. Whilst Jess had been covering her ears against the grating sound of so much glass and ceramic breaking, she quickly extended her arms and caught the little one as she leapt overboard, shielding her sensitive hearing instead.

Blue continued to battle on through the storm, however when she reached the center and prepared to strike, to everyone's surprise the targeted tea set dropped dramatically with barely even a tap, shattering to pieces on the floor beside its fallen brethren. The pot itself split open entirely, pouring its murky contents all over the clean tiles. Like a dream, the drink seemed to swirl and ebb, opening up into pitch darkness. A black hole leading to a milky way galaxy, with wayward candlelight twinkling somewhere beyond like a distant star.

"That tea set..." Malori spoke up softly, hardly a step above silence as she gingerly bent down amongst the broken wreckage and fingered the fragmented remains. "I know it, it was up in our attic – older than the property itself, we think. Our boy – Remi, against his father’s wishes would sneak up there and play with it. He was such a strong willed little boy..."

Blue however wasn't paying attention, for as soon as she saw the faint flicker of flame she knew Patty must be somewhere within the well - meaning Mimi was surely there too - and she'd stop at nothing to get both her own girls back home safe and sound. When Kim and Miru hovered curiously over though (after the latter assisted the former in extricating the external object imbedded in her and reshaping to satisfaction), the portal didn't seem to react to their presence at all. Puzzled, Jess knelt down as well and placed her palm on top of the puddle, which rippled slightly to her touch as any normal water would, but contacting only cold solid surface underneath. Testing tentatively, Blueberry dipped half a heart into the liquid like a phantom fondue, steeping for but a moment before pulling back. Confirming that indeed, only ghosts could pass through the gate into the unknown.

The thought of one of her Pokémon going alone on such a journey to who knows where made Jess incredibly nervous though, reaching out to tug on the Drifloon's string to prevent her diving in recklessly. Blue mulled for a moment, before floating over to the girl's bag and fishing around inside, retrieving a spare Pika Doll - the same one Patty had planned to use in her Trick-or-Treat performance display for Halloween a few years ago, but didn't get a chance to due to her younger brother's interference at the time. Cradling the reminder close, she planted a kiss on the plush's forehead in parental blessing, BONDing her DESTINY to the doll. Returning to Jess, she handed the toy to her trainer with a smile, indicating that they'd be able to tell she was okay so long as it stayed standing. If the figure fainted, then...

Before Jess could ask what to do if such an event did occur, Blue flew to the pool and waved back with a reassuring beam, descending without warning into its depths. Jess watched in helpless horror as the space swallowed her friend whole, realizing it was impossible for her to follow as she and her remaining comrades regarded each other anxiously. There was nothing they could do but simply wait and see, praying for her to return. Much like a special media scene from her memories, of the moon looking on from above and singing a lullaby of encouragement to the lonely rabbit, as she struggled to obtain a flower for her love...

While a worried Kim and Miru continued to circle the wormhole in an attempt to angle their view so they could still catch a glimpse of their brave boss, Momo slid down from Jess's sleeve with the substitute, propping the likeness of her own model up as she determined to keep an eye on it and make sure it didn't move even an inch in the downward direction. Meanwhile, Jess glanced at Malori, who was still gazing solemnly at the porcelain in pensive meditation. Clearly she knew something about what was going on, and so steeled herself to strive to pry as much information as she could out of the woman.

"Sorry, I know this must be painful for you, but could you please tell me more about your son and what this tea set meant to him? Anything you know could possibly help us find out what happened to the children, so that no one else gets hurt..."

Update 7:
Spoiler: show

The thought of sending the dead zeppelin on an ethereal expedition solo is enough to put your nervous system into overdrive. The decision requires no deliberation on her part, although sensing your worry she leaves behind a lifeline in the shape of a Pikadoll Bonded with her Destiny. You watch on as her strings and body melt away into the swirling blackhole, no telling where she was going and when she would ever return. You refuse to let these thoughts linger, probing Malori in efforts to shed some light on the hauntings.

“Patrick was right…” She sobs, “Right all along and I dismissed him, called him crazy. You see our son, our beautiful boy… He passed away the year we opened this café… We were passing over the Alto Bridge, the heavy construction work must have been disturbing the local wildlife, as a powerful Pokemon broke onto the freeway…” It pained her to go on, but it was easy enough to fill the blanks from there. “These strange goings on, they only started to happen in the past few months. It seems the more Patrick and I would argue with one another, the more things would go haywire. I wonder if the poltergeist is taunting us, feeding on our suffering... Why else would it bring that tea set down here?” You do your best to console her, peering into the paranormal portal all the while, wondering if Blueberry might happen upon the answer to any of these questions…
Spoiler: show


Sinistea Patisserie
The darkness weighs heavily on the balloon as she drifts on through to the other side. What materialised before her was a shadow of the cafe in every way, a mirror match taking on the monotone look of old movies. The kitchen fixtures were in a sorrier state than the one that came before, not just messy but dirty. Blue could barely count all of the health code violations, from undead Rattata scurrying in and out of holes in skirting boards to undead Grubbin feasting on spoiled ingredients in the pantry. It was a chef’s nightmare realised, although her spirits lift upon finding a clue amongst the clutter. There was no mistaking the only shred of colour in the room as Mimi’s haphazard doodling, the entire kitchen wall her canvas without any adults to supervise her. The colourful mural featured stick drawings of all her friends and family… and what looked like the reanimated teacup. Blueberry inflates with fresh resolve, following the crayon as it trail off into the front of house. Her senses pique to childlike play on the other side, a familiar nursery rhyme filling the eerie silence...

‘Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker's ‘mon
Bake us a cake as fast as you can!’​


The usually lively front of house was decidedly dead: shutters down, chairs stacked on tables and a door sign turned out to ‘closed’. The only flicker of illumination came from a candlelight that was unmistakeably Patty’s. Sitting in the kids’ area, the three children were giggling in unison, blissfully unaware of the mother’s presence. They were throwing a tea party, piping hot beverages for the girls and empty cups for the stuffed toys filling the vacant seats – save for one which had a teacup suspended above, belonging to seemingly no one. The vessel turns on the spot revealing a lacy pattern resembling a face, its childlike smile animating with laughter. They seem older than Pan but younger than Patty, if Blue had to hazard a guess. On being the first to notice the balloon in the room, the chipped cup’s smile cracks. It comes to her realisation that the tea’s behaviour may be more mischievous than sinister, but having been sent worried sick, she would be well within her rights to stop the child’s play and scold the naughty children. What will she do?


Reply 7:
Spoiler: show

With nothing to do but wait and worry, Jess questioned Malori in hopes of finding out more about the situation. The woman sobbed as she responded:

“Patrick was right… Right all along and I dismissed him, called him crazy. You see our son, our beautiful boy… He passed away the year we opened this café… We were passing over the Alto Bridge, the heavy construction work must have been disturbing the local wildlife, as a powerful Pokémon broke onto the freeway…”

Her voice choked as it trailed off, and Jess didn't need the details to imagine how horrific the experience must've been for the poor lady.

“These strange goings on, they only started to happen in the past few months. It seems the more Patrick and I would argue with one another, the more things would go haywire. I wonder if the poltergeist is taunting us, feeding on our suffering... Why else would it bring that tea set down here?”

As she continued to cry, Jess did her best to comfort despite not knowing how. Unfortunately it felt like her probing hadn't provided many answers either, increasing her guilt for piling on stress needlessly. Still, she was determined to press further in case any other useful information cropped up that could potentially help.

"Can you remember anything specific that triggered the hauntings? Please, try to think back..."


...Meanwhile, as Blueberry descended into darkness, her gaze was met with a monochrome mirror image of the surface world above, like a scene straight out of a grainy old movie. Rather than the homely picture of a '60s sitcom though, the kitchen was even more in shambles than the one she had left behind. The balloon wrinkled her snout at the sudden overpowering stench of death and decay, signaling the first of numerous flagrant red flags any sane health inspector should shut down a facility for: including Rattata scurrying across the floorboards and ghostly Grubbin greedily munching on rotten food covered in mold. Swiping her heart across the counter, she frowned at the thick layer of dust collected on it, forming a filthy film. Amidst the grey and grime though, she spotted a splash of color on the back wall, completely coated in chaotic doodles as the artist abandoned all reserve without anyone around to scold her for indulging inspiration. Whilst Blue would've normally tutted at such unruly behavior, she swelled with joy and pride to take in what was obviously her Mimi's multicolored masterpiece, especially on realizing it depicted a happy family portrait... To the side though where the Mimikyu had added in stick figures of her friends as well, in the corner there seemed to be a crude caricature of a smiling teacup... Strange.

Spying a squiggly line of crayon leading from the drawing to the doorway, she curiously followed to the front of the house, where she heard childlike laughter coming from in the form of a nursery rhyme:

‘Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker's ‘mon
Bake us a cake as fast as you can!’​

In the center of the boarded up room flickered the only source of light, which Blue immediately recognized as belonging to Patty's flame. She breathed in relief to observe her sister sitting beside her, both crowded around a tiny table with stuffed plushes occupying other seats. Before them was spread a dainty tea party set, with steaming freshly made brews for the gals whilst their "guests" enjoyed a make-believe matcha. At the head of the gathering was presumably sat their host, who seemed to take the idea of an "imaginary friend" to a whole new level as their cup hovered magically in mid-air above the seat. As the container spun around though, a face of lace appeared to emerge on the porcelain, revealing itself as the singer of the silly tune. Its cheerful grin quickly quirked upon noticing their new arrival though, clearly exhibiting the same kind of innocently shameful expression Pan would present when caught doing something naughty. Some maternal instinct in Blue sensed perhaps the stranger's motives weren't sinister after all, as she glanced at the giggling girls who looked perfectly relaxed and having a grand time, still oblivious to their parent's presence. A part of her didn't want to disrupt her children's fun, but at the same time she still wasn't sure if she should trust this mysterious entity yet...

After a moment of frozen staring, she raised a string to her lips in a silent "shushing" motion, miming a zipper across for emphasis. Her eyes narrowed dangerously, making her still lingering suspicion known as she nodded dubiously for the festivity to continue - for now - but she would be watching very closely as she MINIMIZEd her mass in order to blend into the background, floating up to the rafters in order to keep a careful eye on the proceedings...


Update 8:
Spoiler: show

Faced with a choice of reprimanding or embracing her missing girls, the Drifloon decides on neither. She shrinks down to the size of a blueberry and vanishes into the background, a fly on the wall able to gather intel on the Sinistea without risk of spoiling the child’s play. While nonplussed at first, the cleft cup goes back to conversing with the girls who remain none the wiser.

‘Ahem. More tea, Ms. Cake, Ms. Cake?’ it asks in mock elegance, eliciting giggles down table. The balloon spies on the play for some time, listening into all sorts of light chit chat. The small talk eventually moves onto the Sinistea’s history with the Patisserie’s proprietors, the balloon’s ears piquing with interest.

‘The poor papa and mama lost their boy. That’s why I moved in upstairs, I gotta stay until I fulfill my purpose!’ Before it can reveal what said purpose was, a ding from the kitchen oven interrupts their conversation, signalling the completion of a bake foreshadowed in their nursery rhyme. While Patty offers to fetch the dessert she had so dutifully assembled, the Poltergeist obliges with their shadowy levitation trick.

Bobbing in on a silver platter came an Old Gateau. While the presentation was on the sloppy side, it came with a surprisingly delectable aroma, although having seen the state of the kitchen it was sourced from is almost enough to draw the balloon out of hiding. Before the kids can even cut into the cake, a loud rap startles them from their seats. There was a forceful wrestle with the door and upon realising it is bolted closed, a mob of ghouls phase on through anyway; it was a Gastly, Haunter and Gengar, all topped with a fedora and wicked smiles stretching from ear to ear.

‘Well lookie here’, the Gengar sneers, ‘You think you can just open a business in the underworld without tellin’ nobody?’ The mobsters scan the premises for an authoritative presence and upon realising there is none, dawn on the children with toothy grins. ‘Let’s see here… a teacup, a candle, and a Pikachu cosplayer?’ Gengar’s lackies erupt into laughter.

‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to!’ Chuckled the Gastly.

‘Who do you think you’re talkin’ to!’ the cup squeaked in a fleeting moment of courage, their voice cracking as they raised it, only eliciting more laughter.

‘So you’re the boss around here?’ Gengar goads, his tone taking a more menacing turn, ‘A fancy place like this, you’re gonna need to cough up some protection money, or we don’t need to tell ya what’ll happen…’ the racketeers circled in on the trembling cup, Gastly baring its fangs menacingly while Haunter pumped a floating fist into a floating palm. What will the minimised mom do?

Reply 8:
Spoiler: show

More confused than concerned by the menacing mother's bizarre behavior, the sentient beverage blinked in bewilderment as it watched the petite party balloon sail up to the ceiling, bemusedly shrugging its handle before returning attention to its blissfully ignorant audience.

"Ahem. More tea, Ms. Cake, Ms. Cake?"

It politely offered, putting on a pretend posh accent. The girls giggled as they gladly accepted refills on their drinks, continuing on with the conversation they had clearly been in the middle of when their unknown eavesdropper arrived. Shamelessly eager to listen in on her children's idle chitchat, Blue thus craned in closer, especially curious as the dialogue turned to the stranger's relation to the café owners above ground.

"The poor papa and mama lost their boy. That’s why I moved in upstairs, I gotta stay until I fulfill my purpose!"

Before it could elaborate further though, a chime from the other room announced the completion of the cake aforementioned in the teacup's tune. Patty clapped her hands in delight, ready to witness the results of her handiwork.

"Oh, there's the cake done! Thanks so much for letting me use your kitchen; Mom never lets me near the stove without supervision, especially when making food for guests... She still doesn't think I can cook on my own, but I want to practice so I can prove to her I can make something good to serve customers too..."

The Drifloon deflated slightly upon hearing how hard her daughter was working in secret to try and impress her, guilt growing in her conscience as the candle offered to retrieve the baked confection from the convection oven herself, but her host shook its head with a smile. Showing off its own specialty, the dark slab of plum dessert came magically floating in on a silver plate, depositing on the tablecloth with a whimsical flourish like an enchanted scene out of a Disney movie. While the bloated block appeared a bit plain and lopsided (perhaps resembling a chunk of solid brick rather than something edible), a surprisingly delicious aroma arose from the dish up towards the roof where the Drifloon was hiding. (Although remembering the sorry - if not highly unsanitary - state of the facilities the sweet stemmed from nearly drew her out for a different reason.)

Just as Patty was about to proudly slice into her masterpiece to provide sufficiently large sample portions for the patient taste testers, a loud sudden banging at the entry startled the three out of their seats. Someone seemed to be forcibly trying to turn the knob from outside to no avail, and upon realizing the door was barred shut the intruders simply ghosted through instead, grinning mischievously as the trio of gangsters tipped their fedoras in mock greeting.

"Well lookie here," the leader Gengar sniggered, glancing around the mostly empty setting as it sought to pinpoint the source of the scrumptious scent. "You think you can just open a business in the underworld without tellin’ nobody?"

Taking in the images of the terrified tots at the table, the group guffawed at such a pitiful sight.

"Let’s see here… a teacup, a candle, and a Pikachu cosplayer?" The Gengar snickered again, as Mimi took particular offense to being called a pale imitation of her idol (who more accurately was only at a pre-evo stage to begin with).

"They don’t make ‘em like they used to!" Its Gastly lackey cackled in contempt, as the first target of the insult puffed up bravely in order to defend its newfound friends.

"Who do you think you’re talkin’ to!"

It piped up with as much bold pluck as it could muster, pitch unfortunately cracking like its rim in the process. The mug squeaked meekly in embarrassment as the elder ethereals merely burst into derisive mirth again.

"So you’re the boss around here?" Gengar grilled with an intimidating leer, its interrogee shrinking in fear under its ominous shadow. "A fancy place like this, you’re gonna need to cough up some protection money, or we don’t need to tell ya what’ll happen…"

The three threatening ghouls encroached on their prey, Gastly revealing its glistening teeth whilst the silent bruiser Haunter beside it smacked a disembodied fist into its palm. As the cup cowered with dread, Blue bristled crossly, deciding enough was enough; it was time to break up this fight before the poor little beaker got beaten. How dare these delinquents gang up on a small, defenseless child? She would teach them a lesson to pick on someone their own size... Or so she thought, as she charged at the Gengar in rage only to bounce harmlessly back, barely impacting beyond a mosquito bite - or at best a pea shooter - absently swatted away without even being noticed by anyone amidst all the tension.

Mimi, on the other hand, was about to make her own ire known as her eyes glowed with fury like burning hot coals, wriggling serpentine shades seeping from beneath her cloak as she couldn't stand to see her companion in distress.

"No. Bully. My. Friend."

She hissed, beginning to angrily approach the mob; but Patty held onto her sister's rag, staying the Mimikyu's wrath momentarily as she raised a finger to her lips, mutely indicating to shush and keep calm for now (as well as distant for the baby's own safety).

"Wait, I've got a plan," she whispered quietly. "Can you use VOODOO BUGALOO to make a copy of Gengar? I'll hold onto it and ALLY SWITCH into the center, then use CONFUSE RAY to trick them into thinking they're still attacking us when really they're hitting the doll. I'm also gonna blow a SMOG as cover so we can escape, so stay clear until I give the signal for the two of you to hold your breath and run, okay?"

Update 9:
Spoiler: show

The innocuous tea party had taken a sinister turn with the entrance of three uninvited guests. The macabre mobsters have its trembling host ringfenced and while this enough to elicit some maternal protection on Blueberry’s part – an intervention in her shrunk state is about as impactful as her namesake. Mimi meanwhile readies to unleash her own personal brand of hell on the bullies, Patty able to tug her back to her senses as she hatches a more tactful retaliation. The Disguise Pokemon reluctantly obliges, shadowy limbs recoiling and instead conjuring up a Voodoo doll with an uncanny resemblance to the Gengar, topped with its signature fedora.

Patty prizes the plush with a waxy paw before vanishing on the spot, recombobulating in the thick of the ghoulish gangsters. The foes are given no time to process the Ally Switch as the Candle Pokemon’s bluish flame goes off like a flashbang, emitting a point blank Confuse Ray! This is enough to spur the befuddled enemies into a blind fit of retaliation, their Payback hitting about everyone but their desired target. The three erupt into a cartoonish ball of violence with kicks and punches flying every which way. With mischief sufficiently managed the voodoo doll is deployed, making its way around the scrum like a loose sock in a tumble dryer.

'Yeeeooow!' The Gengar yelps, a result of punching himself in the gut. While shouldering some crossfire, Patty burns up a cloud of Smoke as a Screen for her escape.

'This way!' Sinistea squeaks amidst the distraction, making a beeline for the kitchen. With the slightly rattled Litwick oozing through the fracas the group are quickly accounted for and out of harm’s way, the teacup giving the kitchen door a psionic slam for good measure.

'That won’t hold ‘em for long, then they’re gunna be real mad!' Sinistea remarked, illustrative eyes darting about frantically. While the puddle to the mortal world appears active, the chipped cup seems hesitant to take it.

'I’m not sure I can close the gate in time… if we go now, they might follow us into the human world…' Its teeny mind appears to be ticking at overtime, swirling essence clouded in doubt.

'You should go ahead,' they decide finally, 'It’s me they’re after.' It was a valiant gesture, but the fragile poltergeist would be pulverized facing them alone. While easy enough to accept their sacrifice (after all, they couldn’t exactly die twice) with a few minutes to spare and a kitchen stocked with all sorts of potential tricks and traps, perhaps there was another way to scare off the ghoulish gangsters. What will you do?

Reply 9:
Spoiler: show

With Gengar's duplicate doll in hand, Patty prepared to set her plan in motion as she popped suddenly into Sinistea's place, leaving the confused crooks no time to react before blasting them with a burst of disorienting light. Half-blinded by brightness, the baffled ghouls bumbled their way around in desperate search of their target, striking everywhere in a frenzied rage but at the actual culprit. Patty smirked as she set the fedora-wearing figure free, letting it bounce about like a pinball amidst the cartoon cloud of punches and kicks.

"Yeeeooow!" Gengar yowled as he socked himself straight in the stomach, which the candle took as her cue to make haste and escape. Nodding to her companions from across the room, they heeded the signal to temporarily stop their breath as smog billowed forth from her flame, filling the air with a thick blackness. Hearing Sinistea squeak out, she followed the sound to the safety of the kitchen, ducking and weaving between the continued chaos. Though she ended up bumped a bit here and there, thankfully she wasn't too bruised by the time she made it through the doorway, which Sinistea slammed firmly behind her (more to keep the smoke from spreading than any measure of effectiveness against incorporeal intruders).

The trio took a quick breather to sigh in relief, before glancing frantically about for further options. The puddle portal on the floor shimmered invitingly to indicate it was still available, yet the cautious cup seemed wary to trust the stability of its own creation - or rather its rate of destruction.

"I’m not sure I can close the gate in time… If we go now, they might follow us into the human world…" The flustered mug rattled as it racked its thoughts for a solution. ...After mulling for a moment, it resolutely made up its mind and turned to its companions with conviction. "You should go ahead. It’s me they’re after."

Despite the look of determination on its face, Patty could tell the teacup was trembling in terror at the idea of facing three huge scary thugs alone. Before she could say anything though, Mimi shook her head and put her foot down first.

"No. Leave. Friend. We. Play. Together. We. Stay. Together. And. Fight. Together."

Patty smiled at her little sister's surprisingly strong sense of loyalty, nodding in agreement.

"She's right, we're not going anywhere. We'll figure out a way to beat these guys, don't worry. We just need to come up with a strategy..."

Scanning the surroundings, an idea began to formulate, inspired by a film she watched with her family during Christmas once. While she hadn't been too impressed by it back then, her younger brother had been fascinated by the number of creative booby traps the kid protagonist utilized to chase off a couple of criminals, and had taken to trying out several of his own inventions on his unsuspecting older sibling. Though it wasn't exactly a pleasant memory, she considered perhaps taking a page from his mischievous personality might be beneficial in this situation. In fact, she was reminded of another stunt he pulled around Halloween once with her own held item...

Closing her eyes and convincing herself to think like a miscreant, she summoned her Bubbling Cauldron before her. She balked a bit when she realized the size and mass though, as it wasn't a weight she could easily lift with her limited psychic abilities, let alone be able to balance on top of the entry (the latter of which was probably a pointless endeavor anyway, seeing as the specters could and would likely just phase through the wood again). Another flash of recognition occurred to her though as she turned to Sinistea, recalling the POLTERGEIST's proud display with the cake.

"Hey, you were using Ghost energy to lift those plates earlier, right? Can you show me how to do that? I want to hold this over the door and dump it on those bullies as soon as they bust in. ...Granted, I haven't tested its effects much, but hopefully it should put some hurt on them - especially if I just drop the whole thing on their heads once they take form."

She grinned, starting to get into the groove of sinister scheming as she then eyed her sister's Mummy Bandages, which were wrapped securely around the baby's body like a harness. (Indeed, their mother used them sometimes to keep the child from wandering off too far - although clearly it didn't work in this case.)

"Mimi, I'm just gonna borrow your bandages for a sec, okay?"

The puppet blinked in puzzlement, but nevertheless spun around to assist as her sister hurriedly loosened the linens. Once unraveled, Patty then carried on with another odd request:

"Now, can you make a SUBSTITUTE?"

Again, the Mimikyu cocked her head curiously, but did as directed and shut her eyes, concentrating a quarter of her health into crafting an exact copy. Patty swiftly draped the dressings over the doppelganger, so that the image was virtually identical to any undiscerning eye. The candlestick stepped back and admired her handiwork, before revolving again to address Sinistea.

"Take Mimi and go hide with her in the cupboards. I'm going to stay inside the oven, and when those guys get near the doll, can you use your own abilities to make the bandages wrap around them instead? Then, I'll set the cloth on fire with a FLAMETHROWER. If you see anything else useful in the cabinets - knives, forks, whatever - try to use them to make a racket so we can scare 'em off. We'll show those big dumb brutes not to mess with us!"

...Meanwhile, Blueberry had been listening at the keyhole, and swelled with pride (mixed with some concern) at hearing her eldest daughter take charge and conjure up such a clever - if perhaps dangerous - plot. Still, she would lend as much support as possible to their efforts to make sure the getaway was successful. While there wasn't much she could accomplish in this current diminutive state, she'd do her best to at least DISABLE the opponents to buy time, or else die defending her children.



PikaGod:
Spoiler: show

Start :
Spoiler: show
Karmas walked through the harbour looking at his phone, a very confused look plastered onto his face. When he looked up how to get to Cape Effervescence, it looked pretty easy to ge to the Harbor and then make your way to the Cape. So of course he may have already messed up those simple instructions.

"Where the hell is the Cape?" Karmas asked himself, his voice growly with frustration.

From atop his shoulder, his Pidgey chirped. A fairly new addition to his team, Karmas hadn't even managed to come up with a name for the little bird. That was actually part of the reason he had decided to come to the cape. It seemed like it would be a nice place to bond with his new teammate. And as an additonal plus, the Cape was near water which meant that Poisson would be able to go for a swim, which was always nice for the little pufferfish.

"Yeah I know little bird dude," Karmas said, addressing Pidgey, "We'll get to the Cape soon, just as soon as I find the danged place."

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

With Cape Effervescence selected as the destination of choice to take your first adventure with your Pidgey partner, the two of you start your trip in the area most visitors find themselves passing through first: the Fizzby Harbour. Home to a number of resident liners, there was always plenty of people milling about the place, be that alighting or boarding the various vessels or simply in the area for the oceanfront experience. This didn’t help to make the place easy to navigate, though, with your bearings rather difficult to find for a while - that is until you follow a throng of tourists and spot a series of signposts for the Cape and its numerous different leisure spots along the way. At the sight of this, you quickly alert the Tiny Bird Pokémon on your shoulder and head in that direction at once.

Before long and with the hustle and bustle of the harbour a mere murmur behind the two of you, the road comes to an end with a number of picnic areas and a footpath that continues its way along the coast. To the left of the snaking path, the ocean’s waves crash against the rocks and you spot a number of Pokémon in and about the rockpools formed atop. In one, a Clobbopus and a Mareanie appear to be having a squabble whilst a Pyukumuku watches on from the sidelines. In another, a lone Seel basks, facing off into the distance with a wide grin on its face. In the sky above the two of you, the Wingull wheel and screech with abandon.

“Excuse me? I don’t suppose you could help me...” a voice pulls you away from admiring the seafront view. Turning to meet the word’s owners, you find yourself standing in front of a slender, glamorous looking woman in a billowing sarong and wearing a large sun hat. Though the shade from her headwear obscures her face slightly, you can see that she looks rather distressed and she keeps glancing down towards the tide below. Given that the two of you have just met, you can continue along the cape or choose to offer your assistance to this uneasy lady.

What will you do?



Raves:
Spoiler: show

Start :
Spoiler: show
New Fizz City. Following the collapse of Dialga's Gate suddenly, and the subsequent climactic battle many trainers were forced into against the progenitor of said chronospacial anomaly, the city itself seemed to reawaken and blossom into something spectacular and vast, with nobody effectively wounded or hurt in the aftermath, and all was well with the world, figuratively.

Hundreds of miles away from the booming city, at the outpost at Loch Bygone, there was little activity, as several major residents had vanished, searching for the one person who hadn't returned from what many were calling the Final Singularity. Indeed, the Dusknoir and her entourage had ventured to one of her missing trainer's good friends to look for clues and to beseech their aid, while the Swampert had corraled his Abomasnow companion and wayward Buneary to rumours of a spooky maze, leaving just a handful of pokemon remaining, idling. One such pokemon stood staring at the sky above, and did not budge or react one iota when a sudden flash emanated from behind her, and a familiar yet seemingly antiquated voice emanated into her mind. The Gothitelle did not smile, for the emotional energy from the source of the teleport was far from wholly positive. Nevertheless, Paine merely closed her eyes. and gave a silent sigh before addressing the fellow psion telepathically. No voice of her own, but time had led her to properly hone on her communication.

"Asclepius. It has been too long...I take it you request our presence?"

Silence. The Gothitelle opened her eyes at the pokemon who stood there, and gave a small chime. The response received was simple and to the point.

"Then the four of us shall venture and reunite with our wayward ward...for all the time they have left."

Another flash emanated as the psychic types made contact with the scant few at the lake, and were off on important business.

---

It was in front of the tallest tower in the area, and a strong contender for the entire city, that the human stood there, eyes oddly blank as he stared listlessly at not much in particular. He had been told to wait there, and so he obeyed unquestioningly, very abnormal behaviour for the subject in question. Grey Matter Labs, home to some of the world's smartest bastards, boffins and debatable buffoons. A flash from behind him didn't faze him in the slightest, and while the Gothitelle said nothing of the sort, the pain in her eyes at the sight of the Astral Body pokemon's trainer was enough to answer her suspicions.

Asclepius said nothing, but merely motioned the psychic forth, towards the entrance while he drifted to Alex Blackhall and took the man's hand in his own.

"Walk with us," the fairy said telepathically. "Within, we'll find what was lost..."

Wordlessly, the human nodded, and slowly followed his two pokemon, completely vacant. What had happened in the Singularity would have been enough to drive the most stable of minds to madness, and the trainer hadn't escaped unscathed at all, least of all due to the circumstances behind how he ended up there. For the other pokemon of his trapped in the midst of time's collapse though, he had to learn quickly how to adapt, and instead of losing his mind to the events within, Asclepius had embraced them. Not just figuratively either, as he saw in the reflection of the windows at the entrance the Gardevoir he had became.

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

Home to the finest brains in all of Fizzytopia and rising higher than any other building in the sky-scraper filled Neon East, Grey Matter Labs was known far and wide for the innovative ideas, marvellous minds and tantalising technologies that have originated within this towering laboratory. Today, you find yourself arriving at the main entrance to this complex of knowledge, perhaps not in the best state for learning right now but led onwards through the revolving glass doors nonetheless by Asclepius the recently evolved Gardevoir and Paine the Gothitelle as they flank each of your sides.

The lobby looked just as fancy as the outside of the building with a large fountain at its centre, adorned and embellished with various Pokémon and plants from around the world. Around the large space, small meeting areas were set up with a mixture of strange shaped chairs and beanbags. Along the sides of the room, at least ten elevator doors open and close as numerous people important looking people go in and out, up and down. Between these doors and located alongside a corridor opposite the entrance, an information desk is manned by two similarly dressed employees. Seeing you, the uniform-clad man and woman talk quickly between themselves before returning to their seats behind the long desk to resume their work. Along the corridor, you notice a series of green decals shaped like arrows to direct guests through the complex.

“Good afternoon sir, how many I help you today?” The woman seated behind the desk across the lobby from you calls over to you and your humanoid companions, her voice thick with the sweetened tone of customer service. Not receiving any response from you in your listless state, she points towards a large illuminated map of the ground floor and visitor-friendly areas as a way of helping you to help yourself if you so choose.

“If you would prefer to explore and see things for yourself, just follow the arrows on the ground through the rear of the lobby just here to find the different visitor areas.”

What will you do?

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

The entourage entering the labs, the two psychic types were nevertheless stoic as they and Alex headed to the front desk as most ordinary people would do, the human unable to comprehend too much. The decor of the main entrance hall was impressive to say the least, with numerous meeting spots like small cafes littered around the place, unusual seating arrangements considered, and a number of elevators shuttling various people of varying intellect and specialised fields of knowledge up and presumably down the building. It was almost certain to the psychic types that there would be basements to the laboratories, but their objective was the information desk. Man and woman quickly discussed between themselves, likely choosing who got to address the vacant trainer, as decals on the walls pointed visitors in the right direction.

The woman greeted the group in a tone that rippled with artificial sincerity, classic customer service as she inquired on how they could support the visitor today. Silence from Alex met her, and the woman geatured towards a map of the ground floor and general visitor areas before proffering the idea of exploration. Alex remained silent, though his eyes at least could muster a blink of acknowledgement of some sort. Thusly, it was down to his pokemon to try and convey discussion. Paine looked at the Gardevoir, and nodded to him, given that the fairy type was the expert in the happenstances of the situation. With use of his telepathy the green-haired pokemon could indeed communicate enough.

"We wish to locate someone skilled in the fields of mental trauma, and someone who knows something about temporal distortions. Our trainer is currently a little...indisposed, and we feel it would be prudent to seek the wisdom of someone who has knowledge of this, so as to try and return him to his senses with professional help," the Gardevoir stated, eyes with a faint cyan tint as the psychic type projected his request. There would be time for sightseeing later.

Update 2:
Spoiler: show

With the telepathically imbued words of your Gardevoir an unexpected surprise to the desk clerk, she appears to stand taller behind the desk to get a closer look at the supposedly indisposed man who's Pokémon had brought him here to Grey Matter Labs. Surveying the three of you with a rather bemused look upon her face, she finally addresses you as a collective:

"I don't know how much of their studies looks into... " the young woman's eyes dart to you before she continues, "...mental trauma but we have a wonderful team of scientists who would love nothing more than to talk the back legs off a Dialga with their studies into the temporal."

Once she had addressed you all, the young clerk left her position behind the desk to walk around to the side you were standing at. Once stood before you, she quickly turned on her heel to face away from you, appearing to grab something from a contraption fixed onto the desk at the visitor side. At a closer glance, it looked like one of those sorts of ticket dispensers you might encounter in a deli but not necessarily a renowned place of learning.

"Without an appointment, I'm afraid I can't just let you wander up to their office but if you take this, I'll send for you when somebody from the team arrives. I'm sure they'll be rather..." she paused briefly before continuing, choosing to go with her original thought after a quick deliberation, "...excited to meet you. Now, feel free to take a look around - I'd particularly recommend 'The Dome'."

Having done as much for you as she can right now, the young woman returns to her original position behind the desk and begins to type numbers into the dialling pad of a telephone before firing a thumbs up across the desk to you all. With ticket in hand, the three of you wander towards the rest of the ground floor visitor centre to kill some time. As you leave the information desk, it quickly becomes clear what The Dome is. Just beyond the lobby and through a revolving door, you find yourselves walking into a humongous glass atrium with an elevated pathway hugging the entire edge of the space. Below this boardwalk, a veritable jungle of plants grew in every direction and you can see Pokémon of all different varieties going about their day-to-day activities in this simulated paradise. In the centre, a small watering hole seems to be the chosen spot for those in need of a cool down or a drink.

"Blip! Bug!" A small voice comes from further along the pathway and distracts those of you who are present from the splendour of the space. A somewhat alarmed looking bug Pokémon seemed to be calling out to the three of you, motioning downwards to something happening below with its antennaed head.

What will you do?



TheKnightsFury;
Spoiler: show


Start :
Spoiler: show

Xander stumbled down the street, haphazardly dragging himself to another dull lit bar. His hoodie was steeped in a mix of pungent alcohol that had failed to reach its intended destination. Hood pulled up over his head, Xander did his best to conceal the shame and pain. Zigzagoon darted ahead of him, the Dark type was back in its element, Rockabout Row reminding it a lot of its old home, The Devil's Playground. Impidimp clung to his back, the malicious imp was the only one benefitting from Xander's downward spiral. His fall from grace occurred a couple of weeks after he'd helped to save the Arboreal Cradle from corruption. He'd become a hero of the highest calibre, a knight in shining armour. However there were parts of that adventure that were still revealing themselves. His memories had started to return, memories of what he'd done while under the control of the Mindbender. While he hadn't done so consciously, Xander's hands were used to commit unspeakable acts. He'd struggled to sleep since the memories had started to return, the only way he could was to drink until he passed out.

He'd sacrificed so much to save the Cradle, yet he'd managed to lose himself. At the end of the day, the Mindbender had still won. While he didn't manage to corrupt the Cradle, he did manage to corrupt Xander. Who was he now? How could he take pride in his achievements when he knew the horrible crimes he'd also commited? Xander threw himself at a nearby garbage can, chest heaving as he emptied his stomach into it. Wiping his mouth on his already filthy sleeve, Xander spat at Zigzagoon. "Find us a fight Zigzagoon, pretty sure one of these bars is meant to have cage fights." Pokemon or person, inflicting some pain might relieve some of his own.

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

Your recent outing at the Arboreal Cradle, all the way on the other side of the Fizzytopia region, had left you a shell of your former self. Struggling to make it through each day, you take refuge where you find some, however briefly – be it alcohol or violence. What would your father Jarde say if he saw you like this?

No matter. Parental advice isn’t what you’re looking for at the moment. Half-blinded by rage and anguish, you feel a desperate need to take it out someone, and almost out of instinct, your order your Galarian Zigzagoon – a local resident – to find you a suitable place. Not that it’d be difficult to do so in Rockabout Row to begin with, something made all the more evident by the fact that Zigzagoon literally stops ten steps away from you, pointing at a nearby establishment’s front door with its snout. Even before you ctch up to the Pokemon, you can hear the commotion inside the building, but that doesn’t deter you – quite the opposite. Following Zigzagoon’s advice, you push the door and it opens without any resistance.

The heavy scent of alcohol permeates the air; you might have grown more accustomed to it as of late, but even by your current standards, the stench is over the top. A large, crowded bar reveals itself, patrons talking and singing loudly everywhere you look, glasses are tossed to the ground quite frequently, and nobody seems to give a damn about the latest customer making his way inside. If anything, you look just about as bad as the majority of those present anyway.

“Hey, you there,” suddenly yells someone to your right. It’s the bartender, a bald man in his forties with an apron dirtier than your own sleeves, with a stern expression and arms crossed, looking your way. “You look like shit. What can I get you?”

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

Being in Rockabout Row was just like being back home in the Devil's Playground for Zigzagoon. While his trainer wasn't exactly behaving like himself, Zigzagoon was in his element. It didn't take long at all for him to carry out his orders, a nearby establishment looked to provide the exact distraction his trainer sort. Xander steadied himself before entering, he'd been turned back before and knew he had to show he was still in control of himself. Having gathered something resembling composure, he pushed through the doors into the crowded bar.

The air was thick with the stench of alcohol, if he was sober it would probably be enough to turn his stomach. A myriad of regular bar sounds berates his muddled mind, smashing glasses, loud conversation and some terrible singing. The bartender was onto him quickly, calling him to the bar. "I guess I fit in then", Xander replied with a friendly jest. "Fizzybrew if you've got it, or maybe something a little stronger? I'm also looking for a bit of action, nothing high stakes just need to work out some frustration." He didn't want to fight to save anyone. He didn't want to be a hero, heck, he didn't even believe it was possible to be a hero anymore. He just wanted a fight with a clear winner and loser, although he had no intention on being the later. Impidimp was scrambling around manically. The amount of misery in the bar was almost too much for even it to handle. It was like a drug to the reborn gremlin, his pupils dilating as he inhales deeply through his flared nostrils.

Update 2:
Spoiler: show

The bartender's eyebrow raises at your reply, and the man remains silent for a bit. Then he turns his back to you to face the large assortment of bottles on display, and picks one you can't quite recognize.

"... Fizzybrew stock's being withheld at the source. Some issue with brand names or whatever. But you don't seem picky, so here, this'll work."

He pours a honey-coloured liquid into a large glass and slides it across the counter, because of course he does.

"Don't bother askin' for ice, got none. Dilutes the good stuff." He then points with his head to the noisy crowd behind you. "If you're just lookin' to get so beat up you forget your own name, that's easy, pick a fight with any one of 'em. Been four days since the last decent brawl anyway."

He grabs a dirty rag from beneath the counter and starts cleaning the empty glasses scattered around. He seems to not be paying you any further attention, until he suddenly speaks up again.

"... Of course, if you're looking for something more intimate and less crowded," he motions with his head again, this time to a large man with sunglasses barring the way to a small door on the far wall of the bar. "Just tell that gentleman my name and he'll let you through. Might be worth your time."

After a moment of silence, the bald bartender chuckles.

"... What? My name? Not telling you. But some of these gents might, most are old patrons. Maybe you can get it out of them, if you're feeling... persuasive."

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show

Xander scoffed as the bartender explained that Fizzybrew was currently out of circulation. "Of course it is", Xander spat, "bureaucrats around here think they need to keep a tight wrap on everything. Xander accepted the strange liquor though, he'd drink just about anything at this point. As he threw it back, gritting his teeth as it burned its way down his throat, he listened to the bartenders reply to his question. To his surprise the bartender was more than happy for him to start a brawl in his establishment. While the idea of throwing down with the person closest to him was tempting, Xander wasn't sure it would be a Pokemon battle he'd be starting. Impidimp would likely love to see Xander get knocked out, he did in his former life at least. Thankfully there was another option. If he could discover the bartender's name, he could gain access to a private area of the bar, a much better opportunity.

Trouble was getting the name. In his drunken haze of a state, words weren't his strongest...... thing. He'd likely have to rely on bribery rather than trickery. He looked through the crowd, looking for someone likely to be privy to the knowledge he was after. Maybe someone on the older side, not only would that make them more likely to be a long time customer, they also might be a bit more forthcoming and approachable. "Zigzagoon you need to help us out. I know I'm asking a bit much in a place like this but I need you to find someone... not horrible? If that's too big of an ask, maybe look for someone gambling? We might be able to play for information."

Update 3:
Spoiler: show

Given your options - an all-out brawl that would never be a fair fight or a secluded area where you could let loose to heart's content - you figure you might as well put in the extra effort. Well... not you exactly.

Zigzagoon smiled at your request, and you can't quite tell whether that's because he enjoys being relied on, or if the prospect of helping you get into a fist fight is just that appealing to him. You have some strange companions. The black-and-white critter walks away, nimbly moving between drunkards with surprising agility, somehow avoiding being stepped on or tripping anyone over. Meanwhile, you turn your attention back to the rest of your drink.

"Seems you really want in," says the bartender with an amused voice. "Well... not that you asked for any, but here's my advice: pick your battles as carefully as you pick your liquor. You didn't even ask me what I gave you to drink before gulping it all down..."

After an intentional moment of pause, he chuckles again.

"... Kiddin'. If I was spiking my customers' drinks, I'd probably be out of a job, especially in this lovely neighborhood."

Finally, Zigzagoon approaches again, Impidimp noticing his return first. The critter points with its nose in the direction of a faraway table, where three men in their seventies seemed to be playing some sort of game. Neither of them looks friendly per se, but the fact they're all more focused on playing rather than drinking is somewhat reassuring - at the very least they might be more sober than most of the other patrons.

"Oh, them? Sure, give it a try. They've been hanging around my joint for years. Think you'll get lucky?" asks the bartender teasingly. He seems to be having fun at your expense, especially since he could always just... well, outright tell you his name. Come to think of it, isn't that another option?

So, will you approach the old trio, or maybe try to force a straight answer out of the man in question himself?

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show

Zigzagoon was relishing the opportunity to put his skills to good use and he continued to see success. A trio of older gentlemen were parked at a table towards the back of the establishment. They appeared to be playing some kind of game, although it was one he didn't immediately recognize. Perhaps he could pull up a seat and worm his way in. The bartender provided a quick bit of information on his targets, confirming they were regulars. "Well then, let's get over there." Xander slammed down the rest of his drink, a bit more liquid courage would surely come in handy.

He stumbled his way across the room, bumping shoulders with other patrons. Zigzagoon weaved through their legs, while Impidimp remained clinging to his shoulders. The Dark type inhaled deeply, absorbing some of the negative energy that was streaming off of everybody. "Behave yourself and keep a low profile with these guys, don't need you blowing it." Xander was wary of the Pokemon whose fate had been tied to his own. He feared that he wouldn't be able to stop Impidimp from becoming the same murderous, malicious Grimmsnarl that he'd once fought to the death with.

As Xander neared the table, he grabbed a nearby chair and dragged it noisily alongside him. "Mind if I pull up a stump?" Xander chimed as he reached the table. "Not sure how much longer my legs can hold me and I could use a distraction. What are you playing there?" He slumped into the chair, letting out an audible moan as his ass hit the seat.

Update 4:
Spoiler: show

Your choice falls on the aging trio and whatever game they're playing. As you make your way over to their table, you bump into several patrons, one of them randomly yelling "sod off, I told you it ain't Ducklett!!" in slurred speech for whatever reason.

The men don't seem to notice you approach at first. It's only when you invite yourselfninto the fold that they dare to acknowledge your existence, although notnas visibly upset at the intrusion as you might have expected at first.

You glance over the wooden table to find an old, worn-looking deck of cards and a set of several marble dice. The elders, all of them sporting unkempt grizzly beards and smelling of booze, have their eyes on you as you go on without being invited. When you're done talking they exchange silent glances, before one of the men finally decides to break the ice.

"Howdy stranger. Name's Pitt."

"... Norton."

"I'm Durden. I’d tell you to take a seat, but no point now… New around these parts, I reckon?"

The man of fewer words, Norton, points with two fingers at the items on the table, but says nothing else. Pitt steps in to clarify.

"He's glad you joined us. Says to pick a game, since you're the new face."

Durden laughs in his raspy, tired voice and further explains what they mean.

"We lot don't know many games. We've been sittin' at this here table for years each night playin' just one of two - Liar's Dice and Driftveil Hold'Em. So... make your choice, kid!"

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show

Xander was shocked at how easily he was accepted at the table. He'd half expected to be told to fuck off as soon as he sat down but to his surprise the older men were quite welcoming. They exchange a quick glance amongst themselves before turning their attention to him, introducing themselves. Pitt, Norton and Durden, strange names.....

"Nice to meet you fellas, you can call me Harvey." Xander had taken to not using his real name recently. He changed it up with each new establishment he entered. He didn't want to develop a reputation. Impidimp let out a snicker, amused by his trainer's antics. He was invited to join in the games the men were playing, being given two choices, a game of dice or a game of cards. Both had the potential for shady tactics. Loaded die were always a risk, while a smooth operator could easily manipulate a card game, whether it be counting or tricks up the sleeve. He wasn't afraid to lose, it wasn't money he was after, it was information and losing might even make them be a bit more forthcoming. That said, he'd feel much more comfortable with the cards.

"How about a game of Driftveil Hold'Em?" Xander/Harvey replied. "Might take me a while to pick it up but it's all in good fun right? Unless we're wagering?" They hadn't mentioned anything about money yet, none of them seemed to be flushed with cash. Zigzagoon leapt up onto Xander's lap, eyes locked on the deck of cards.

Update 5:
Spoiler: show

You decide to take the old men up on their offer for a card game. Durden seems the most pleased, and is quick to grab the deck and shuffle - for someone in his seventies, he handles the cards with surprising dexterity, tossing them across the table to each player nimbly and without hesitation. Still, if what they say is true, you suppose that playing the same game every night for years on end would make you proficient regardless of age...

Impidimp peers over your shoulder to see what you got, while Zigzagoon paces around your legs somewhat impatiently. You came here to throw fists, so why are you throwing cards?

"Have you ever played a game of Driftveil Hold'Em where you didn't wager?" asks Pitt as he peeks at his hand.

"I mean what else would we do with our pension?" adds Durden with a coy smile.

Norton, however, doesn't seem as jovial as the other two. He's yet to even pick up his pair of cards and his eyes are firmly locked on you.

"... What are you after?"

His tone is dry, but not overtly challenging. If anything, it sounds more curious than threatening, despite Norton's overall less friendly vibe than the other two.

As you ponder on what to answer, wondering when to make your move, you take a glance at your cards. Since you’ve laid out the challenge, you might as well run with it for now – besides, the longer you spend on trivial matters like this, the more pent up frustration you feel, and for someone who only came in here to throw down, they sure are making your life difficult… why would that be?
Spoiler: show

So, how's it gonna be?

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show

"hmmm' Xander pondered. He wasn't exactly flushed with cash right now and with his limited experience and muddled mind, his chances of winning here were slim. He also didn't want to spend his whole night anchored to this table, he wanted action! "I'm afraid I'm a bit low on funds at the moment, but how about I wager some items and in return, you wager some information. I'm trying to get into the VIP area but I need to know the bartender's name. If I win, how about you tell me the name?" Xander swung his bag of his back, digging through it for items he didn't care too much about. Plenty of berries and a couple of held items such as a Stainless Gear, some Never-melt-ice and an Icy Rock. He wasn't sure if the older gentlemen had much use for them, but they could always pawn them off.

Having suggested the stakes of the game, Xander accepted his two cards. A Jack and a King, two high cards. He could only assume it was a decent hand. Not knowing any of the rules yet, he figured he'd just follow suit and pick it up as he went. He cracked a big grin. He knew he would never be able to keep a straight face, so instead, he figured he'd try and maintain the opposite. React pleased to everything, even if the cards weren't in his favour. Impidimp and Zigzagoon were growing impatient, neither liked sitting still for too long. "Ahh, what do I do now?" Xander questioned.

ADVENTURE TERMINATED


Last edited by Prof.Enigma; 04-29-2021 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:41 PM   #4
Prof.Enigma
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Record Book of NFC 2

GrassyGlide:
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Start :
Spoiler: show

Argyle and his partner, Wisewoods were looking for something to do in New Fizz City. Having lived on the outskirts of Goldenrod, Argyle was no stranger to large, bustling metropolises. Though he probably wasn't as big a fan as unhinged urban development as some others might, he did enjoy the energy these urban centers housed. Such centers were home to the hopes and dreams of thousands, if not millions, of people and Pokemon. Argyle could not help but feel a type of kinship for all beings simply due to the fact that all living beings at their core had all sorts of dreams and hopes. Perhaps people and Pokemon did not all share the same hopes, but they hoped nonetheless. That process of hoping and the feelings that came along with it was what connected all living beings according to Argyle. Still he did prefer the simplicity of a setting that was more in tune with nature and farther removed from the trappings and complexities of modern life. He did believe that all you need for a happy life was nature and a true sense of community, everything else was extra. Nevertheless, these metropolises did offer countless opportunities for adventure and Argyle and Wisewoods were not ones to refuse such opportunities.

"Are you ready for some fun?" Argyle asked his Pokemon.

"Let!" Wisewoods chirped back excitedly.

"Who knows what this city has in store for us? I wonder what kind of Pokemon we can find around here. Who knows maybe we can find us a new friend? Perhaps a water-type or ground-type to complement your weakness. Or maybe another grass-type?" Argyle said. He quickly followed up with, "But where should we go first? I hear there's quite a bit of different places to see in the city. Let's see now, I was particularly interested in visiting Remembrance Park to get a historical understanding of the city, but I kind of want something a bit more slow-paced."

"Row," Wisewoods interjected seeming to agree with the last sentiment.

"Oh you know what, we're right by Amity Gardens in the downtown district. That seemed like a relaxing place to visit. We can take a nice stroll and enjoy the rare patches of green and artificial lakes in this major city. What do you say, Wisewoods?" Argyle asked.

"Let!" his partner flapped his wings in agreement, then took his place on Argyle's left shoulder.

A couple minutes later, Argyle and Wisewoods were in the gardens. It reminded the two of the National Park close to Goldenrod city in some ways. They took a look around at the plethora of flora and the artificial lakes. People and Pokemon were out and about. Some were sitting on the grass or the benches while others were swimming. Some had taken up fishing and others were taking their time slowly walking through the numerous paths. Argyle and Wisewoods looked at each other and shared a smile. "Looks like we made the correct decision in coming here," Argyle said, "I can just feel that today's gonna be great day!"

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

Enjoying a nice day in the park with Wisewoods, you get the experience of all the natural activities New Fizz City has to offer. Well, you will, as having just arrived you're reminded of the National Park near your home. Johto's parks and mountains were one of its claims to fame, besides the impressive monorail system in Goldenrod. In a lot of ways, New Fizz City felt incredibly similar to you. A sense of nostalgia, even if this place was entirely new to you.

Noticing the variety of activities that people are partaking in, you wonder what the best course of action would be. The lakes were filled with being fishing, the paths walked on by city folk enjoying a day with nature. People and their Pokemon were running through the vast fields, or sitting on the benches and enjoying the scenery.

With so much to do, it was hard to figure out a focal point on where to go. Then, you notice a signboard decorated with flowers and drawings of butterfly Pokemon. You could see a picture of a butterfree and a vivillon on it, with some detailing. Walking up and reading it, you see that there was a tour of the botanical gardens today. Specifically a Butterfly Pokemon Garden, where a variety of beautiful bug Pokemon would fly around.

Wisewoods chirped up, the Rowlett intrigued by this. It felt similar to the Bug Catching Contest of the National Park, but at the same time laid back with the ability to enjoy nature around you at your own pace. This certainly felt like the best thing to enjoy New Fizzy City at first, before making your way the Remembrance Park.

What do you do?

Reply 1:
Spoiler: show

As Argyle and Wisewoods looked around the park, Argyle noticed a beautifully colored signboard. From afar, he could make out a Butterfree and a Vivillon drawn on it. The sign had managed to pique the interest of his partner Rowlet as well. So, the two naturally went up to the sign to get a closer look. The sign contained details on a tour of the Butterfly Garden.

Argyle and Wisewoods independently mulled over this a bit. Argyle was not particularly fond of most bug-type Pokemon, but he did enjoy some of the more beautiful ones such as Butterfree and Vivillon. The people who made the sign knew how to grab people's attention. What's more, this was quite reminiscent of the Bug Catching Contest of the National Park, back home. Argyle had never actually participated in it, but he figured that this would have a similar feel to it minus the competitive nature of the contest back home. Argyle concluded that this would be a good way to ease into life in New Fizz City. It gave him an opportunity to slowly get to know the city while doing something that still had a home-like feel so as to prevent any potential feeling of homesickness as opposed to a rather abrupt change of lifestyle and scenery that perhaps another event may have offered. Argyle would participate in this botanical garden tour. Now, all he had to was check that Wisewoods was on the same page.

He turned his head to his left and saw a sparkle in his Rowlet's eyes. Clearly, he was enamored by the butterfly Pokemon pictured on the sign. "What do you say, buddy? Want to take the tour?" Argyle asked.

"Rowlet!" his pokemon chirpped back.

"Alright then, let's go head to the meet up spot for the tour," Argyle responded. He took another look at the sign committing to memory instructions on how to get to the meetup spot. Then, the two were off.

Update 2:
Spoiler: show

Deciding on taking the tour, you head over to the meet-up spot listed on the sign. Along the way, you notice that a few trainers are gathering around one of the lakes. Seems there was a fishing competition that was about to start, but it didn't really concern you at this time. You and Wisewoods had already decided on taking the tour. It did, after all, feel like a good way to ease yourself into the environment.

Arriving at your location, you stand before a large greenhouse. A few other people have gathered around, mostly parents with small children. You notice two other trainers, both of them pretty young. They probably had just arrived here themselves and wanted to look around for something to do. You understood that feeling, experiencing it yourself at the present moment.

A few more people shuffle into the area, filling the small plaza to about a brim. A woman dressed in white appears from the greenhouse and speaks loud and clear for everyone to hear.

"Welcome everyone to the Amity Gardens Butterfly Garden Tour! My name is Angelica, and I will be your tour guide for today," she shouts, drawing in the attention of everyone at the plaza. "If everyone could please file into a singular line, we will begin the tour momentarily."

"Today we will be featuring ourButterfree, Beautifly, and Vivillon! All of them have been raised here with loving care, with each room suited to their various environments from the rest of the world. From Alolan Tropics to Kantonian Forests, we will experience a large variety of flowers and trees as well," she explains, enchanting the crowd with various information. The children all seem enraptured by her speech, most of them never leaving the city before.

"Now, let's come along!" She exclaims and begins to lead the group inside.

You enter the building and notice the first room to be a mild forest. Small wildflowers are growing around the trees and peaceful air to the room. Small speckles of sunlight trickle in from above, the tree cover making this shaded forest perfect for a variety of Butterfly Pokemon to thrive.

Looking in the trees, you could see a few Silcoon in a nest, waiting to evolve into Beautifly. One such Pokemon hung over the Silcoon, wanting to protect them from any potential harm. Butterfree was flying over the crowd, with a few flying to greet them. High above in the air, you could see a few Vivillon dancing about, the multiple types enchanting the children.

"Our Butterfree is incredibly friendly, so they might get close and touch you. Please don't freak out, and treat them gently. While Butterfree is native to Kanto, they have made homes in all the regions across the world. The only region that doesn't have an active Butterfree population is Hoenn," Angelica states, swing the crowd with her information.

One such Butterfree comes up to you, intrigued by your Rowlett. It lets out a small, happy cry, greeting your Rowlett. Looking at it, its wings were bright and shimmering, and the Pokemon itself was quite friendly. With a small wave, it flew away towards some trees. Following it with your gaze, you notice something strange in the trees. There was a group of purple Pokemon that looked similar to a Silcoon. It seemed that Angelica hadn't noticed it, and it wasn't in any of her explanations.

What do you do?

Reply 2:
Spoiler: show

As Argyle and Wisewoods made their way to the meet-up spot for the tour, the duo walked past a fishing competition that was about to start. It reminded him of the famed fishing guru that lived on the edge of Lake of Rage back in Johto. He would judge trainers' Magikarps based on size and give out rewards. Argyle couldn't help but smile. Here he was thousands of miles away from Johto, yet the offerings of New Fizz City didn't seem all that different from his native land. Perhaps it hinted at a shared commonality of all people and Pokemon regardless of region. At least, that's the conclusion Argyle would draw.

The pair finally made there way to the entrance of a large greenhouse. That was where the sign had said the tour would start. Soon enough a lady, Angelica was her name, appeared before the small congregation consisting mostly of families, a couple of young, new trainers and, of course, Argyle and his partner, Wisewoods. Angelica proceeded to give information regarding the Pokemon and flora found inside the greenhouse.

Once inside, Argyle was pleasantly surprised to find the first room to be a forest. Back home, one of his favorite things to do was to go walking in the Ilex Forest. It helped him relax and pass time. Not to mention that it was in the Ilex Forest where fate would have him meet his partner, Wisewoods. As Argyle reminisced about Johto while also maintaining a gentle focus on the information that Angelica was espousing, he made sure to look around and take in the environment as well. As he was observing a Beautifly vigilantly watch over some Silcoon, a Butterfree gracefully swooped down and greeted Wisewoods. As the two seemed to quickly become friends, the Butterfree whisked itself away, making its way towards some trees. Argyle followed the butterfly's line of flight only to notice Silcoon-like cocoon Pokemon. However, they had distinctly different colors than Silcoon. While the cocoons the Beautifly was watching were white, these cocoons were clearly purple.

Argyle quickly whipped out his Pokedex and pointed it at the group of cocoons. The Pokedex quickly lit up and beeped:

"Cascoon. The Cocoon Pokemon and an evolved form of Wurmple. Cascoon's body is made of silk. It sits motionless as it prepares itself for evolution. Once its body hardens and begins to crack, it will start to evolve into Dustox."

Dustox? Argyle thought, That's not a butterfly Pokemon if I'm not mistaken. To be sure, he pulled up information on Dustox in his Pokedex:

"Dustox. The Poison Moth Pokemon and the evolved form of Cascoon. When this Pokemon flaps its wings, it releases a dangerous toxin into the air that can make others sick."

Argyle took a moment to take this information in. Clearly out in the wild, Dustox and Beautifly could be found in the same locations. After all, both evolved from Wurmple. However, the wild had its own ecosystem and ways of balancing the system. Thus, both Pokemon could coexist peacefully. This greenhouse might be a different story. The greenhouse is a controlled environment specifically for butterfly Pokemon. Argyle did not know what the effects of another Pokemon species, particularly one capable of releasing poisonous dust with a flap of its wing, would have when introduced into the environment. It didn't seem like Angelica took notice of these Pokemon. Perhaps she was aware and didn't consider it an issue or perhaps she just didn't see them. Argyle decided to raise his hand, hoping that Angelica would pause her explanations and accept a question from the audience. He was planning to ask her about the Cascoon and whether they posed a threat to the greenhouse.

Update 3:
Spoiler: show

Using your quick wits and your Pokedex, you were able to deduce there was a group of Cascoon that had taken up residence within the greenhouse. Trying to alert the tour guide, you raise your hand in the hope that she'd noticed during her explanations. Raiding your hand as high as you could, it seemed that you were noticed as she had stopped her explanations.

"Oh, yes! What his your question?" she asked you in an encouraging tone.

You then proceed to tell her about the Cascoon you saw taking up residence in the garden. A few of the children in the group look puzzled at the question and start chattering and questioning what a Cascoon was. While you could see her face, Angelica's silence was enough to paint a picture.

"Okay, so, Cascoon is the other evolved form of Wurmple. They evolve into Dustox, which is incredibly dangerous to the ecosystem of this room. Usually, when one of our Wurmple evolve into Cascoon, we relocate them to our moth room," she stated, the last bit a little under her breath.

"Well, it's time for a more interactive part of the tour. If there are any trainers here, I would like to request your help in detaining and relocating these Cascoon. I'll see if I can try and swing a little read with my manager as well," she stated, ushering the pedestrians to a small corner of the area.

Looking over, you could see it was a small benched area surrounded by flowers that she sits the group in. She then gives the n and the two trainers that were with you earlier. One of them brings out a Cyndaquil, looking to be a Johto native as well. The other brings out an Oshawott, looking to be someone from Unova. Since you were the one to spot the Cascoon, they looked at you for the go-ahead.

What do you do?

Reply 3:
Spoiler: show

Riiiiight..., Argyle thought as he nodded while listening to Angelica, Relocate them to the moth room, huh?

Argyle wanted to take what Angelica said at face value but it seemed to him that she was clearly just trying to save face. If this happens more often than not, shouldn't they have staff on hand to just relocate the Cascoon without harming them, Argyle continued his thoughts, but she wants to have us trainers take care of it? At that point, there wasn't much Argyle could do about his current situation, so he stopped thinking on this.

As the rest of the group relocated to a small benched area, Argyle took a good look at the Cascoon he spotted earlier. Unlike the Silcoon that had a Beautifly protecting them, these Cascoon seemed unprotected. Hopefully it would remain that way and make Argyle's life easier. He was also concerned that the other Pokemon in the room might somehow get tangled up in the battle. They had to do a good job isolating the battle off from the rest of the Pokemon. Argyle adjusted his attention to the two trainers that were left with him. "Looks like it's on us to move them," Argyle started, "Unlike the Silcoon that had a Beautifly watching over them from earlier in the tour, these Cascoon seem to be without a guardian. That will hopefully make our lives easier. I'm just worried that the other Pokemon might get caught up in the middle of this, so let's just try to keep the battle as isolated as possible, ok? Also go easy on them, it's not their fault they evolved in the wrong place." Argyle then addressed the Cyndaquil's trainer, "I hope you and your partner can control their flames. Last thing we want is starting a fire in this greenhouse."

He turned to his own partner and said, "I know you can do this, but remember to go easy on them." Wisewoods nodded in agreement. "Alright then, Wisewoods, start things off with a Peck attack," he ordered. Just like that, his Rowlet took to the sky and began approaching the cocoon Pokemon. It also served as the unofficial signal for the other two trainers to start.

Update 4:
Spoiler: show

With your advice given to the other trainers, they give you a nod that they're ready. You then give Wisewood the order to use Peck, the Rowlet goes in at the group of Cascoon. The impact of the peck dislodged the purple cocoon and causes it to get knocked out. Seems that it wasn't all too powerful now, was it?

You could see the other trainers give their pokemon their orders. The Cyndaquil uses a Flame Wheel, managing to perfectly hit one of the other Cascoon without causing the whole place to go up in flames. The Oshawott uses Razor Shell, which cuts the silk holding the cocoons up and dazing the last one. This was pretty easy all things considered. Angelica claps as you three finish subduing all three, trying to impress the children.

For his efforts, Wisewoods has gained a level!

"Good job you three! I'll have those moved to the moth room before they wake up, don't worry," she states before pulling out a pocket radio. She states a few codewords into it and then puts it away. She then turns to address you and the others once again. "I'll see if I can swing a reward for all of you with my manager at the end of the tour."

She then turns back to the group and starts to corral them back along the path. You were at the exit of the room at this point, and she looked ready to go towards the next room. At the corner of your eye, you could see something white and fluffy. Turning your head, you see a cocoon-like pokemon staring at you. It looked like it was covered in confetti, and it looked at you in awe. Did this Pokemon want to come along with you?

What do you do?

Reply 4:
Spoiler: show

Wisewoods made quick work of the task at hand, which wasn't all that hard to begin with. He was able to cut down the Cascoon with a single gentle peck. Argyle sighed in relief as it all went smoothly. Wisewoods promptly flew back to his trainer and assumed his regular perch on Argyle's left shoulder. Argyle petted his Pokemon and congratulated him on a job well done. Argyle observed the other trainers make relatively quick work of the task as well, with the Cyndaquil using Flame Wheel and the Oshawott using Razor Shell. Once all three were done, Argyle turned his attention to Angelica.

After Angelica finished congratulating the trio of trainers and mentioning a potential reward, she assumed her duties as tour guide and wsa trying to usher the tour group into the next room. Argyle was about to take his place towards the back of the group as they entered the next room, when he caught something white in his peripheral vision. He turned around to notice a pair of eyes glistening with awe poking out of a white cocoon-like body. The Pokemon was clearly mesmerized by Argyle and his partner Wisewoods that Argyle could not help but blush a little. With his eyes fixated on those of the Pokemon, his hand slowly reached down for a Pokeball. Then, he proceeded to gently toss the Pokeball towards the cocoon. At that point all Argyle and Wisewoods could do was wait to see if they were going to step into the next room with another friend.

Update 5:
Spoiler: show

You throw the Pokeball, hoping to see if a new friend will come and join you. Well, it sort of ends up happening that way. You see the Pokemon headbutt the ball back to you, a little sad that you'd just through the ball without even trying to interact with it. The Pokemon comes out of the bushes and reveals itself to be a Spewpa. The Kalosian bug looks at you with wide eyes, seeming to want to come along with you to finish the tour.

Before you make a decision, you hear Angelica calling out to you. Something about how people aren't supposed to wander around the area while the tour was going on. Giving a slight not to the SPewpa, you and Wisewoods run into the next room. It felt bad not being able to give it a proper answer, but you didn't want to get in trouble for sure.

Entering the next room, the smell of saltwater hit your nose instantly. You notice palm trees and tropical flowers across the room, as well as an artificial ocean in a sense. It was more a small pond that washed against a small beach. You could see Butterfree flying around here as well, but their wings looked a lot different. As soon as you caught up to the group, you could hear the tail end of hearing Angelica explaining the differences that these Pokemon can have from region to region. While the room was pretty cool looking, it ultimately wasn't as eventful as the last one. You to hear shuffling behind you every so often though, and sometimes swear you see the Spewpa behind you.

"Alright everyone, we're about to enter our last area! I did mention it before, but this is the moth room! It is pretty dark in there, but we did set up lights along the path that will allow you to see it still!" she happily explains as she leads everyone into the room.

Entering the room, it was much colder than the previous rooms. It felt like you were in a moonlit forest, with small glowing mushrooms. You could see the likes of Dustox, Venomoth, and Frosmoth all flying in the air. There was a certain grace and elegance to the room that the previous rooms had. Looking around, you could see a Mothim resting on a branch, looking protective over a group of Wormadam hanging from the branches. There were Venonats playing by a pond, and a group of Snom looking at the children.

As Angelica began bringing up each species in the room and giving their characteristics, you hear a loud noise.

"CASCOOOON!"

The entire group stops as the noise filled the room. There you could see Cascoon you had previously encountered. It was pretty mad, considering what you did to it was a little rude. The Pokemon is known to hold grudges, and seeing you again probably awakened that grudge. Before anything else could happen, the Spewpa from before jumped in front of you. It seemed it wanted to battle with you, to see if you would be a good trainer for it.

You have the ability to battle the Cascoon with the Spewpa! It's Lv. 9, and knows the moves Tackle, String Shot, Stun Spore, Harden, Protect, and MT Bug Bite.

What do you do?

Reply 5:
Spoiler: show

The ball floated momentarily into the air before it collided with the Pokemon. Argyle and Wisewoods watched with slight surprise as the Pokemon headbutted the ball back to Argyle and then jump out of the bushes. Argyle had taken the look of awe in the Pokemon's eyes to mean that it was fully onboard with joining Argyle's team. Clearly, that was not the case. Argyle thought back to how he had met Wisewoods. Argyle had sat under a tree and meticulously laid out berries that would draw the Pokemon's attention. They had spent the afternoon enjoying the Ilex Forest and the berries. Only when it was time to go, the Rowlet had indicated it wanted to travel with Argyle. Argyle shook his head. Bonding with Pokemon takes time and effort, he thought, a Pokemon isn't gonna be drawn in completely simply cause he or she watched you take down a Cascoon.

Angelica's voice interrupted Argyle's thoughts. Before he could mull on this even more and consider approaching the Spewpa, he was being directed into the moth room. All Argyle could do was nod to the little Pokemon as he moved onto the dimly lit room. Argyle and Wisewoods shivered a bit as they entered and then looked around to take notice of the various Moth Pokemon such as Frosmoth, Venomoth and Dustox flying around. The trainer-Pokemon pair really enjoyed the aesthetic the room was going for. It was probably their favorite room so far. Too bad their enjoyment was interrupted by a cry: "CASCOOON!"

Argyle quickly spun around to locate the source of the sound. It was the purple cocoon from the butterfly room. Oh no, Argyle thought, it's mad at us from before. I can't really blame him though. Argyle had been happy that the incident in the butterfly room had been taken care of by a single Peck. However, as is the case in most things in life, it did not turn out to be that easy. The Cascoon was out for revenge and it didn't seem like saying sorry would be enough. Argyle let out a sigh and was about to tell Wisewoods to get ready, when he noticed a white flash in his peripheral vision. Moments later, the white flash was standing in front of him. It was the Spewpa from before. Argyle smiled. "Looks like you want to get a feel for partnering up with me, huh," he asked the Pokemon. The Spewpa turned to lock eyes with Argyle and nodded. Despite the slight tinge of sadness in the Pokemon's eyes from earlier when Argyle had jumped the gun and tried catching it, it seemed like the Spewpa still had respect and admiration for Argyle. Argyle was not about to let the Scatterdust Pokemon down. "Alright then," Argyle said, "Let's do this! Start things up with a String Shot to slow down the Cascoon as much as possible and follow it up with a Tackle."

It seemed like the Spewpa was waiting all its life for this moment. The Pokemon was quick to engage in battle and start spewing out sticky strings.

Update 6:
Spoiler: show

Seeing the Spewpa's determination, you allow it to fight with you. You quickly give it orders against the Cascoon, and the cocoon with you nods. The Kalosian bug lets out a String Shot, spewing stick thread all around the Cascoon to lower its movement. Well, bad news there, the thing is pretty immobile already so it doesn't seem to mind all too much about the movement restrictions. In return you could see its soft cocoon start to harden up, a sort of grey outlining washing over it before dispersing. With the defense increase, it would be more of a challenge on taking the Pokemon down.

This doesn't deter the Spewpa, who hops forwards before hitting the Cascoon square on with a Tackle. You could see small bits of what looked like papery glitter fly through the air, making for a dazzling display as the attack connects. The force of the move pushes the opposing bug type back a little bit, but it firmly stands its ground. . Your allied Spewpa looks a little surprised but hasn't given up at all. This was a battle it felt it could win.

The Cascoon, though, has hatred in its eyes. If the Spewpa was going to stand in the way of its revenge, so be it. It focuses a strand of its cocoon into a long, thin needle and imbues it with poison before firing it off at the Spewpa. You could see it sting the Spewpa pretty hard, but luckily it manages to avoid getting poisoned from the move. It looked like both of them were pretty matched, one offensive and the other defensive. You needed to find a way to piece the Cascoon's defense.

What do you do?

Reply 6:
Spoiler: show

As soon as Argyle finished ordering the moves, Spewpa started spewing strings to wrap the Cascoon. Argyle wasn't really sure what he was expecting that to do. He was hoping to imprison the opposing Cocoon Pokemon in a string casing so it would have restricted its movements furthermore. There was one problem with that plan: Cascoon was already a cocoon, so another layer of strings wasn't going to do much. Oh well, Argyle thought, You live and you learn. As much as he tried to play it off cool, he couldn't help but feel embarassed and think if the Spewpa was thinking "I'd be fighting better if I were by myself." Of course, Argyle knew better than to dwell on such thoughts, so his embarrassment was only momentary as he quickly shifted his focus back to the battle at hand. He watched as Cascoon used Harden to boost its defense followed by Spewpa connecting with a Tackle. While the defense boost definitely helped Cascoon stand its ground, Argyle could feel that the battle could be won. He looked towards the Spewpa and the Scatterdust Pokemon seemed to be thinking the same thing.

That's when Cascoon hit back with a nasty Poison Sting attack. As Spewpa reeled in from the blow, both Argyle and Wisewoods winced. Luckily, the Pokemon was not poisoned. However, Argyle's confidence from when Spewpa had landed the Tackle moments ago was starting to slip. Here he was in a new land, battling with a Pokemon he didn't really know. Perhaps it was too early to say anything, but Argyle was still under the impression that he did not start this battle off well. There was ample reason for Argyle to feel flustered by the situation. Rather than dwell on all that, all Argyle could do was try to do better now.

His partner Wisewoods, perched on Argyle's left shoulder, let out a cry in support of the Spewpa. The Spewpa turned around to acknowledge the support. In that brief moment, Argyle saw the fire in the Pokemon's eyes still burning. This affair was far from over. Wisewoods' chirp reminded Argyle that he could at any point in time ask for the Pokemon's help. In fact, it would make this whole thing much easier, but that would perhaps make for the Spewpa never forgiving him for stealing its moment. Still, it was a comforting thought to know that if ever the situation got too dire that Argyle had an escape plan.

Now, Argyle started considering what to do next. He could ask Spewpa to boost its defense with a Harden of its own. After all, the Poison Sting hit pretty hard. Argyle was not sure whether Stun Spore would be useful or not. While paralyzing the opponent would be beneficial, he knew from the Pokedex info on Cascoon that its ability, Shed Skin, gave it the chance to heal itself from paralysis among other statuses. It didn't seem like the gamble was worth it to him; Cascoon shedding off the effects would have been more likely than it not being able to attack due to paralysis. "Alright then," Argyle said, "Use Harden yourself, followed by a Protect. Then, hit the Cascoon with a Bug Bite!"

Argyle and Wisewoods watched on.

Update 7:
Spoiler: show

Analyzing your opponent, you give the Spewpa its orders to tackle the Cascoon. Well, a tackle in not the Pokemon move sense. Anyways, you at first watch the Spewpa harden itself, using its confetti-like skin to turn its soft, fuzzy hide into a solid, hard coat. The Cascoon eyes with interest, seeing the Spewpa copying its strategy. This doesn't really go well with the Cascoon at all. It decides that if it can't piece your defenses, it could try its luck whittling you down. It uses another Poison Sting, trying to fish for a chance of poisoning the Spewpa. You watch as the silken needle flies in the air, but luckily you thought about that ahead of time.

A bright blue light appears, washing over the area before centering in on the Spewpa. A blue, protective barrier surrounds it, and the Poison Sting harmlessly bounces off, protecting the Spewpa from harm. THe Cascoon's eyes fill with shock, not expect its attack to be protected against. With that came an opening, and Spewpa was going to take advantage of it.

You see powdery confetti fly through the air as the Spewpa lunges towards the Cascoon. It's aw was wide open, and filled with a greenish, bug-typed light. The Spewpa bites down on the Cascoon, causing the purple cocoon to wince in pain. It's obvious that was a hard-hitting, direct hit. It was obviously not dealing with the pain well and began to wince in pain at the attack. Its strength was faltering, but it still had a fight left and immediately retaliates with a Tackle. It gets so momentum going, and slams the Spewpa into a tree.

Your foe's on the ropes, but Spewpa is cornered. If you play your cards right, you might be able to finish the battle soon! What do you do?

Reply 7:
Spoiler: show

Argyle was amazed at how angry and frustrated the Cascoon got when Spewpa pulled a Harden of its own. Argyle was aware that the Pokemon was upset from earlier, but the fact that it was that angry caught Argyle off guard. This one sure knows how to hold a grudge, Argyle thought to himself. Meanwhile, the Cascoon fueled by the anger of having witnessed Spewpa copy its strategy fired off another Poison Sting. Last time around, Argyle and Wisewoods had both winced as they saw Spewpa take the hit. This time, neither were afraid. Argyle had guessed that the Cascoon would try to be on the offensive rather than the defensive and had asked Spewpa to Protect itself. Fortunately, Argyle proved to be correct. Spewpa formed a blue shield in front of it as the Poison Sting was incoming. The blue light fended off the Cascoon's attack and Spewpa came out of it unscathed.

What's more, as the Cascoon recoiled with surprise at the defensive maneuver, Spewpa had an opening to land a direct hit on its foe. It launched itself towards the purple Cocoon Pokemon and bit down on it. The Bug Bite caused the Cascoon to wince with pain. Argyle, having winced with pain himself as Spewpa took the Poison Sting earlier, could only imagine how much Spewpa's attack had hurt the opponent. It seemed like victory was near.

In retaliation, Cascoon Tackled hard into Spewpa. The Spewpa's cry of pain as it slammed against the tree pierced Argyle's contemplation of victory. True, Cascoon had taken a good chunk of damage from Spewpa's earlier attacks, but Spewpa had suffered its fair share of damage as well. Only a moment ago Argyle had been confident that the battle was basically over. Now, he was getting worried that the battle was lost. Was he to go on the defensive or was he to go all out offensive with the hopes of finishing the battle now? It was a tough choice and his indecisiveness made him anxious.

I could try boosting Spewpa's defense again or trying another Protect, he mulled, but what if Cascoon's caught wind of our strategy and expects us to do so? Then, the foe can use that opportunity to boost its own defense. Better to get a hit on the opponent instead of letting it setup freely. But what if the attacks Spewpa has are not enough to finish off the Cascoon? Then, will I regret having not asked Spewpa to boost its defense if Cascoon hits back with a Tackle or Poison Sting? Would those be enough to do Spewpa in? Argyle shook his head in frustration. He couldn't get caught up in thought; he needed to act. Easier said than done, he had no idea what to tell Spewpa to do. It was quite a nerve-racking experience. Argyle who was typically calm, or at least liked to think of him as such, was the dictionary definition of flustered. As he was debating what to do, another thought crept into his mind. A dark thought filled with self-doubt. "Look at you struggling in this simple battle to decide what to do. Do you think this bodes well for your future?" it seemed to taunt Argyle.

Right when Argyle was getting trapped in that spiral of overthinking things and self-doubt, his partner Wisewoods gently pecked him on the head. It was the slightest of pecks, but that was enough to nudge Argyle back into the moment. He looked over to his left shoulder and nodded in thanks to his friend. Whenever Argyle seemed to find himself overthinking things and doubting himself, his Rowlet was there to assure him. This nudge that Wisewoods gave him helped cleared up any doubt he had. With confidence he said, "Spewpa! Let's try and finish this now. Hit that angry cocoon with a Tackle and then a Bug Bite!"

Still in the corners of his mind, that shadow of a doubt hid waiting for an opportunity to pounce again.



Alpine64:
Spoiler: show

Start:
Spoiler: show

Alan walked along the streets of the Downtown. He was amazed at the pure size of the district. Since he had never exited Lavaridge Town before coming to New Fizz City, he had never actually experienced city life. This caused him to feel quite anxious, but excited. Alan had no idea where to go first. There was however a certain building caught his eye, the Battle Tower

"Talon, we're gonna train up to battle there." Alan pointed at the tower since Talon was walking along side him. The Torchic seemed happier than usual which is to be expected since they were in a new place for once. He decided to put Talon back in it's ball and walked along the streets of the district. After a while, he ended up in the Amity Gardens since he was just wandering around without anywhere he wanted to go. Alan sat down in the grass. He then released Torchic and patted it's head.

"Do you like this place?" The Torchic jumped multiple times and begun running around the garden. Alan smiled and watched it. It bumped into a few people since it wasn't watching where it was going. Alan just sat there and took in the fresh air. There wasn't much pure fresh air when he lived in Lavaridge since it was so close to Mt. Chimney. Getting distracted by the garden itself, he lost track of Talon.

"Talon? Where are you? Come back!" Alan begun walking around, slightly panicked. Something pecked at his on of his legs. It was Talon.

"Hey, don't make me worry like that. I think you should go back in your ball." He then returned Talon to it's ball before sighing and walking around the garden again

Update 1:
Spoiler: show

You'd already set yourself a goal to achieve in New Fizz City. You pointed out the Battle Tower to your Torchic, expressing your intentions to battle there once you were strong enough. You weren't going to get strong enough just by walking around though, you needed to do some training. Amity Park was a good a place as any to get some training in. There were wild Pokemon here and where there were wild Pokemon, there were sure to be other trainers. Your calves ache as you surge up a hill, but once you reach the top you find yourself with a great view of the sporting field below. While it didn't appear to be in use for a particular sport at the moment, a small group have gathered in the middle, eyes fixed on a battle that is currently taking place.

You walk down onto the field, watching the battle as you get closer. A scrawny young teen in baggy clothes commands his Pokemon, a Scraggy, as it makes quick work of his opponent's Zigzagoon. A Low Kick sweeps the Normal type of its feet and it doesn't rise from its position. One member of the crowd, an elderly gentleman, raises his arm towards the young boy, declaring him the winner. A young girl rushes out to scoop up her unconscious partner, before quickly rushing away with tears in her eyes. The boy smirks as Scraggy returns to his side, offering his trainer a fist bump which he readily accepts.

"Alright whose next?" The boy calls out to the crowd, "that's two wins in a row for me today, who wants to help me get a hat trick?" He looks around, eyes searching for his next opponent. Then he spots you. "You there, Stretch, can that Torchic of yours fight or what?" It seems you've been called out, would you accept the challenge, this kid's Scraggy seems formidable.




blu3shift:
Spoiler: show

Adventure Start
Spoiler: show
Quote:
Originally Posted by empoleon dynamite

 Downtown - The Business & Commercial District

Downtown reply in Slate Gray


Downtown is the bustling financial center of New Fizz City and its most urbanized area, with historically laidback zoning restrictions giving rise to the tallest high-rises in the city. The biggest, busiest and most crowded area in the city, downtown it is a hive of activity for both shoppers and businesspeople alike; even if you're not mesmerized by the city's soaring skyscrapers and monuments, you'll be blown away by its flourishing arts, food, and fashion scenes. From famed museums and art galleries to world class sporting venues, you could live a lifetime and not experience all the amazing things downtown has to offer.
Amity Gardens: Spanning hundreds of acres, Amity Gardens is a popular meeting point among tourists and locals alike, offering much needed respite from the city hustle and bustle. The gardens make up for the city’s lack of green space and then some, boasting botanicals from around the world and a number of artificial lakes where swimming and fishing are permitted. Although urban Pokemon often spill out into the park, Amity Gardens boasts a more rural assortment of Pokemon found nowhere else in the city.
"...Great, we're lost, aren't we?"
Elijah stared at his Pokédex with a puzzled expression on his face, panning and zooming the pixelated map on its screen with multiple furious taps, swipes, and pinches. Epoch, his Porygon, expectantly stared at him as it hovered by his side. It was about midday and he was roaming the sidewalks of New Fizz City in search of somewhere to stay for the night.

Yep, definitely lost. For some reason, Elijah's map wasn't showing his location at all, which probably wouldn't have been a problem if he hadn't been so confident in the shiny new gadget that he had bought in preparation for his journey to Fizzytopia. Tall towers of glass and steel reached for the bright blue sky above him, casting imposing shadows that seemed to stretch as far as he could see. While he was used to navigating the many twists and turns that major metropolitan streets had to offer, having grown up near Castelia City, the sheer scope of New Fizz's many intertwining roads and neighborhoods practically gave Elijah a headache. There was quite possibly no way that he could figure out where he was going without considerable effort on his part, and it wasn't helping that not even a day had passed since he stepped off of the plane that he took from Unova to get here in the first place.

When Elijah looked back up, he was both surprised and relieved to see what looked like a park that stretched on for miles. Finally, somewhere I can rest, he thought, setting aside his worries about being lost in an endless maze of concrete. He had been walking for hours—longer than he ever thought that he could handle—and he was more than ready to take a break, especially because it meant that he could get his bearings in the midst of all of this unfamiliar territory.

"Hey Epoch, let's try to regroup at the park. I'm wiped, and we could definitely use the time to figure out just where the hell we are." Elijah said to Epoch, both of them proceeding to cross the street to Amity Gardens.


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Update 1
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- In a strange new region you find yourself in a somewhat familiar setting. Having grown up outside the towering cityscape of Castelia City in the Unova region, you were no stranger to the concrete jungle. That said, New Fizz City was quite a bit larger than Castelia and you were having trouble wrangling your newly purchased technology. Whether it be by fate or sheer luck, you finally find yourself in a place where you can relax. After hours of pounding the pavement, you look up to spot a vast expanse of greenery, nestled into the heart of the city. You carefully avoid traffic as you cross the round, passing through the gates as you make your way into Amity Gardens!

The park is quite busy at this time of day, the midday sun hangs over head, casting a warm light across the gardens. Large trees provide shady retreats for those looking to keep cool. You watch a pair of Skwovet chase each other through the branches of a large oak tree, while a child's Yamper spooks a flock of Pidove. You continue to follow a winding path through the park, until you come along to a small lake. An old man sits on a bench, tossing bread crumbs out to a trio of Ducklett who hungrily snap up the offerings as they hit the water. Looking around, you spot a number of other benches, one in particular seems well positioned in a nice shady spot under a tree. Perhaps it would be a nice spot to sit down and collect yourself? A quick break could be exactly what you need.


Reply 1
Spoiler: show
Amity Gardens was actually kind of big. Really big, in fact. This became apparent to Elijah as he exhaustedly trudged down one of the many trails that cut through what seemed like a vast ocean of green. The skyscrapers of New Fizz City quickly faded into the background as numerous trees of all kinds of shapes and sizes took their place—Elijah wagered that some of them had been there from the moment that the city was founded if their size told him anything. While the park provided him a comforting respite as he continued to aimlessly wander the endless metropolis, Elijah was still very lost—and it wasn't helping that he was starting to feel a little lonely, even if he had a Porygon accompanying him.

Thankfully, that loneliness was quickly cast aside as he ventured deeper into the park. Trainers, citizens, tourists, and Pokémon dotted the sunlit landscape around Elijah—he noted Skwovet darting through trees and some kid's Yamper trying to scare off some Pidove as he shot an occasional glance at his Pokédex just to see if it somehow picked up a GPS signal or whatever it was that let this silly thing know what its current whereabouts were. Elijah sighed as it still came up blank—it looked like he was stuck with doing this the hard way. Maybe there was some sort of landmark nearby that he could spot on the map?

Eventually, Elijah arrived at a small lake surrounded by a few benches. It wasn't exactly the best thing to work with, but at this point Elijah happily took the opportunity, nearly collapsing on an empty bench situated under a moderately-sized tree as he attempted to collect himself. Epoch settled by his side a few moments later, expressionless as always. It wasn't until Elijah sat down that he noticed an elderly man feeding a few Ducklett some bread crumbs. A thought briefly crossed his mind to ask if the man knew where he was, believing that he had probably come to this park several times over the years, but he quickly decided against it, instead focusing on figuring out which lake in the green space marked "AMITY GARDENS" on his Pokédex's map was the one that he was sitting next to. It was probably for the better, anyway—the man seemed to be content in the serenity of the park, and Elijah didn't want to disturb that.


Update 2
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- You welcome the opportunity to take a break and collect yourself, settling down on the bench. The shade from the tree was greatly appreciated by both yourself and Epoch, who peered over your shoulder as you desperately tried to make sense of the map. Amity gardens had a number of lakes, which didn't make things much easier. You look around to see if you could spot any significant landmarks, something that might appear on the map. Squinting, you can just make out a large log cabin on the far side of the lake, almost concealed by a pair of large willows. Scanning over the map, you search around each of the lakes to see if any having a building located near them. Sure enough, one of them does! A quick drag of the figure across the lake from the building finally reveals your location. Breathing a sigh of relief, you begin to relax when a rustling above you catches Epoch's attention.

A shadow descends from the branches, landing atop you as you go into a startled panic. Epoch whizzes around, trying desperately to dislodge the ambusher. It scrambles all over your body, managing to avoid your flailing arms. It isn't until a booming voice cuts through the air that the attacker stops.

"Malloy I told you to stop attacking the hobos!" A large, robust man stomps across the grass, scowling at the Teddiursa that quickly leaps away from you. The bear cowers as the man staunches over him, his blonde mustache shaking with frustration. He sports a white shirt and deep green pants, while a ranger's badge adorns his chest. "I'm sorry sir but you can't sleep there, you'll have to move along. I'm head ranger Woody, Woody Johnson. I'm in charge of making sure Amity Gardens remains safe and clean, although that's proving difficult at the moment given how short staffed we are. Sorry about Malloy attacking you, homeless people making him nervous, now, how about you get back on the streets?"

Was this guy for real?! Sure you were a little lost and didn't exactly have somewhere to stay, but you weren't some street bum!


Reply 2
Spoiler: show
Huh, that wasn't so bad, Elijah thought to himself as he dropped a marker on his Pokédex's map. It had only been a few minutes since he had started trying to piece together his whereabouts, and at this rate he could probably plot a route to the nearest hotel or Pokémon Center so that he could get to work preparing for the journey ahead. He turned to Epoch and managed to get out a "well, we've got one problem tackle—" before something dropped down from the tree above and sent him into a frenzy with a surprised yell.

Survival skills turned into survival instincts as Elijah struggled to shake off his assailant in between rapid adrenaline-fueled breaths. Epoch, conveniently following Elijah's last statement to the letter, attempted to assist him by repeatedly trying to knock off whatever it was that had suddenly ambushed its trainer, only for its efforts to prove futile as the attacker consistently avoided every counterattack from both parties. Was this how it was going to end? Elijah didn't want to think about his journey ending before it even started. He might as well be de—

"Malloy, I told you to stop attacking the hobos!"

The Teddiursa that had ambushed Elijah hopped off of him and returned to its trainer, who had somehow managed to arrive in the midst of the duo's panic. "I'm sorry sir but you can't sleep there, you'll have to move along. I'm head ranger Woody, Woody Johnson. I'm in charge of making sure Amity Gardens remains safe and clean, although that's proving difficult at the moment given how short staffed we are. Sorry about Malloy attacking you, homeless people making him nervous, now, how about you get back on the streets?"

...What? "Hobo"? He'd been sitting on that bench for five minutes! What was this "ranger" even talking about? In fact, what kind of ranger was he? Elijah didn't see any Styler on Woody, nor was he aware that they actually owned Pokémon—did his friends not tell him about this? Was this guy just a park ranger? What's with the mou—

Elijah took a moment to distract himself from his racing thoughts to focus on the situation at hand. He was apparently mistaken for being homeless? Why? He probably looked a little worse for wear from the beating that he took from "Malloy," and he was probably bleeding a little, but appearances aren't everything, right? Surely this Woody guy, being "head ranger," would be able to figure that one out. He'd have to defuse this situation just as quickly as it started if he didn't want to run into any more trouble. Elijah took as deep of a breath as he could in his panicked stupor and attempted to explain himself.

"S-Sorry offic—sir, I'm, uh, a little, um, lost? I j-just got here from Unova and my dex's location thingy wasn't d-doing its thing and I've b-been trying to find a hotel or something..."

At least it's better than nothing, Elijah thought as he shakily rose from the bench, arms raised in an instinctual attempt to show that he meant no harm. His Pokédex laid on the ground to his side, having been knocked out of his hands earlier due to his scuffle with the Teddiursa.


Update 3
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- There was clearly some confusion here that needed to be cleared up. Although its a bit of a mumbled mess, you manage to convey the fact that you're not some homeless person, you're a new trainer from a different region.

"Ahhh a Unovian? Should've figured you weren't a hobo when I saw your Pokemon, rarely see a hobo with a Pokemon, other than the occasional Rattata or a Joltik buried in his back." Woody chuckles to heartily to himself. "Jeez, I hope you've got some money up your sleeve if you're looking to crash in a hotel, New Fizz City hotel rates are really high at the moment. Tell you what though, maybe I could give you a place to stay." Woody thrusts his hand out, pointing towards the cabin you'd spotted on the far side of the lake. "The Ranger's Station has a few spare beds at the moment, its no hotel sweet but I'll let you crash free of charge if you lend a hand around the park. As I said, we're short handed and I've just about lost it."

In a matter of minutes, Woody had gone from calling you a hobo to offering you a job and a place to stay. He seemed pretty stretched and stressed at the moment, perhaps that's why he seemed a bit off? A bed in a central location was a good place to start, giving you a good foothold to further explore the city. Surely the jobs Woody needed doing wouldn't take too long, then you could get back out and look around some more.

"Well don't keep me waiting all day kid, you want the job or what?"


Reply 3
Spoiler: show
"Ahhh, a Unovian? Should've figured you weren't a hobo when I saw your Pokemon, rarely see a hobo with a Pokemon, other than the occasional Rattata or a Joltik buried in his back."

Woody's statement of realization was like music to Elijah's ears. Glad that's over, he thought as he sighed in relief. While he and his Porygon were definitely a little worse for wear, at least he didn't have to make any new enemies right out of the gate—even if it was apparently really common among beginning Trainers from just about every corner of the globe—and that he could safely take off from the park and find himself a place to prepare himself for the road ahead. Resolving to do just that, Elijah bent over, reaching for his Pokédex buried in the grass when the park ranger standing next to him chuckled and continued to speak.

"Jeez, I hope you've got some money up your sleeve if you're looking to crash in a hotel, New Fizz City hotel rates are really high at the moment."

Of course. Amidst his rush to get to Fizzytopia in the first place, Elijah hadn't even thought about checking how much it cost just to have a roof over his head for the night. Last time he checked, he only had 3,000 Poké to his name—probably not nearly enough to get a room without going into overdraft, and possibly not even enough to grab some camping supplies for his trek across the region. He inwardly scolded himself—how could he have been so woefully unprepared? The situation felt oppressive, and Elijah knew that if he didn't speak up soon, then he'd probably actually become the hobo that he was just being mistaken for.

"Tell you what though, maybe I could give you a place to stay. The Ranger's Station has a few spare beds at the moment, its no hotel sweet but I'll let you crash free of charge if you lend a hand around the park. As I said, we're short handed and I've just about lost it."

...Or not? It seemed like Woody was one step ahead of him—and his offer was practically irresistible. Almost every single one of Elijah's needs were guaranteed to be dealt with if he helped keep things in check around Amity Gardens—a deal that was sweet enough that he would have immediately offered to shake on it if his hands weren't filthy from his impromptu battle with Malloy. In lieu of all formalities (there was no way that Elijah could ever be formal in this state), he decided to agree with just his mouth instead of using his hands.

"Sure, I'm game. What do I need to know?"


Update 4
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- "Excellent", Woody exclaims, "welcome aboard probationary Amity Park Ranger." He digs into his pockets and pulls out a spare badge, as well as a small walkie-talkie. He lightly tosses the pair of items to you. "The badge will allow others to recognize you as a Park Ranger, for better or worse. We don't have a great deal of power, although not everyone knows that. Sometimes you can bluff your way to a resolution, just remember where caretakers, not law enforcement. If you find yourself in a real pickle you can get me on the talkie, its range should reach to every corner of the park. Now, as for the tasks I need done, you can do them in whatever order suits you, once they're done you can head over to the Ranger's Station and we'll set you up with a room. The gardens on the west side of the park have gotten a bit wild and unruly, give them a good weeding and trim back the shrubs, they're should be a garden shed with some tools to help out. There was a concert up by the north lake last night and no one has cleared up all the rubbish. If it isn't cleared up soon we'll be knee deep in Pokemon scrambling in from the streets for scraps. Finally, we've had reports of vandalism down near the South Gate. See if you can't clear things up a bit and keep an eye out for potential suspects, radio me if you get a lead."

Malloy, who had briefly disappeared, makes his presence known once more. Rather than dropping out of a tree, the Teddiursa approaches you with a rather sorry look on his face, a trio of Sitrus Berries cradled in his arms. "Ahh, looks Malloy has brought you a gift as an apology for his actions earlier. I'm sure they'll prove useful." The bear drops the berries at your feet before scampering back to his trainer. "Good luck kid, now get to work!" Woody huffs as he turns and heads off to complete his own tasks.

You now have three tasks to complete, the question was though, where should you start?


Reply 4
Spoiler: show
Elijah caught the badge and walkie-talkie, almost instantly affixing the former to his black T-shirt. If the to-do list that Woody gave him was any indication, his work for the day wouldn't be a walk in the park—especially since the walk was long and the park was gigantic—but it was definitely worth it if it meant having an opportunity to get his hardly prepared self back on track. Besides, the exercise was definitely good for him; he was probably a bit out of shape, and the exhausting trek to the park definitely supported that claim.

Proceeding to clip the walkie-talkie onto his belt, Elijah thought over the three things that he'd have to tackle for the day. It was probably a good idea to take care of whatever this "vandalism" was last, since he'd need to stick around for a while to suss out whoever was behind it. He also wasn't super confident in his lawn care abilities, so he definitely wasn't raring to take care of the west side of the park right away. It seemed like taking out the trash was the best thing to start with—it didn't require a lot of effort, which was convenient for Elijah because his legs still felt a little like jelly, and recovering from a losing battle cut short wasn't doing him any favors.

Speaking of that losing battle, it looked like Malloy wasn't feeling too happy about it either. Elijah was momentarily taken aback by the Teddiursa offering him a few Sitrus Berries, but immediately figured out what his intentions were as Woody called attention to the Little Bear Pokémon's apologetic gesture. It wasn't enough to gain Elijah's trust, seeing as he was still dealing with the stinging pain from the incident, but he accepted it anyway, stashing the berries in his bag and quickly uttering a "thanks" in response.

With all of the formalities covered, it was finally time to get to work. Today was going to be a long day, and it would be even longer if he just stood there. As the head ranger turned to return to his duties, Elijah started towards the north side of Amity Gardens, Epoch in tow.

Obtained Sitrus Berry (x3)!


Update 5
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Pocketing the gifted berries, you pull up your map once more. Now that you knew where you were, getting around the park was surely going to be easier, not easy, just easier. It doesn't take you long to locate the north lake where the concert was held and you soon head off down the path. The terrain is relatively flat and you cover ground quickly. Pedestrians shoot looks at you as they pass by, eyes drawn to the shiny badge on your chest.

By the time you reach the north lake, you almost begin to regret agreeing to help. They're is rubbish everywhere! It seems the people of New Fizz City aren't the most eco-friendly. Most of the smaller trash cans spread around the clearing are overflowing. The smell of rubbish was already starting to get to you, a slight breeze ensuring its blown straight towards you. A ways off, there appears to be a small maintenance building. A pair of large skip bins rest against it, one for general rubbish, the other for recycling. As you walk out onto the clearing, a gang of Murkrow take flight, taking with them a small collection of shiny metal bits they'd picked from the scraps. There was a lot to do here and with limited hands, you had your work cut out for you. Epoch looks around, just as confused as you are as to where you should even start. Perhaps the maintenance shed contained some equipment that would make your job a bit easier and a bit more hygienic? As you look over the mountain of waste that awaits you, you notice a couple of piles of trash start to shake. Woody was concerned that the rubbish would draw in Pokemon from the streets, perhaps it was already too late?


Reply 5
Spoiler: show
Elijah knew that trash-picking wasn't exactly going to be an easy task, but this was absolute garbage, in both senses of the word. The sheer scale of the mess left behind by the crowds of what must had been Trashstock 2021 was nothing short of breathtaking—in a literal way, because Elijah couldn't handle breathing in the fumes for five seconds at a time without nearly gagging. Was this enough to get whoever booked this venue fined? Probably, but that wasn't the temporary park ranger's issue. What mattered here and now was to clean up this literal wasteland before the city's wild Pokémon made it even more of a dump.

...Well, that would've mattered here and now if Elijah had anything to work with. His bare hands could only do so much—at most, he'd be limited to picking up a few pieces of trash at a time to one of the several trash bins dotting Amity Park's many trails. He'd probably need one of those fancy trash pickers and a few dozen garbage bags if he wanted to even make a dent in this before sunset. He thought back to what he saw on his way to the concert grounds: gawking pedestrians, gnarled trees, maintenance shed... perfect! Woody made it sound like there weren't many people tending to the park at the moment, so Elijah could probably walk over and get something to make his job easier.

He was about to turn around and go back south when he saw something stir amidst the sea of waste. Shoot, there's something here, he mentally noted, turning to his Porygon. Epoch, let's see what you've got. Elijah whipped out his Pokédex and checked Epoch's moves: Conversion, Conversion 2 (he was about to question why there were two of them before he checked the move descriptions), Recycle, Sharpen, Tackle... he might be able to work with this.

"Okay Epoch, I hate to do this but can you stay behind and make sure that nothing makes a mess? I have to go grab some tools. Go for a Sharpen and Tackle if you have to defend yourself. You could probably try Conversion 2 if things get too rough. I'll be back before you know it, I promise."

That is if Epoch could know it—for all Elijah knew, the Porygon couldn't do anything but follow the directions that he gave it. This wasn't necessarily a bad deal but he felt a little cheated, especially when he recalled the incessant speeches about "the bond between you and your Pokémon" that he'd get from just about every Trainer that he bumped into. Maybe he'd be looking into getting that upgrade that his friend mentioned later on when he was ready for it—didn't they say something about "improved AI?"

Again, this was a different topic for another time. Elijah was on a mission and nothing was going to get in his way, even if it meant even more fisticuffs with whatever was hiding on the way back—although he'd prefer not to do that, he was already exhausted from the events that had transpired over the past few hours. Turning around and setting his sights on the trail behind him, he began to retrace his steps towards the maintenance shed that he saw earlier, hoping that his completely immaculate and totally sound plan wouldn't fall apart.


Update 6
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- A somewhat monumental task was ahead of you and you were for the most part, ill-equipped to handle it. Thankfully, there was a possible solution nearby, the maintenance shed. Sure, it probably wouldn't have everything you needed and it was still going to be a lot of hard, disgusting work, but anything would be better than handling the discarded waste with your bare hands. While you backtrack to the shed, you give Epoch some clear and explicit instructions. The man-made Pokemon seemed to take in the instructions, but how it carried them out was yet to be seen.

It only takes a minute to reach the shed and you breathe a sigh of relief when you turn the handle and the door opens. Sure, it probably should've been locked, but you were grateful it wasn't. The contents of the shed are fairly sparse, although you spot a couple of things that could prove incredibly helpful. A wheelbarrow, a rake, a shovel and even a pair of thick rubber gloves! The short trip surely proved to be beneficial, but you shouldn't waste time, there was no way of knowing what sort of trouble Epoch had gotten himself into.....

Epoch hovered around the clearing, eyes darting from pile of trash to pile of trash. Suddenly, something catches its attention so it floats over to get a closer look. A pair of Rattata are pestering a lone Trubbish, tearing at its bag. The Poison type tries to get away from the annoying rats, running to another pile of trash. It starts to consume the waste but it isn't long before the Rattata catch up and begin to pick at it again. Epoch isn't sure what to do. It had instructions to defend itself, not others. So it just sat there, watching on as the Trubbish was continually abused by the pair of Rattata.


Reply 6
Spoiler: show
Getting to the shed was thankfully the easiest part of the day so far. Elijah let out practically all of the breath that he didn't know that he was holding as he slowly opened its creaking door, watching as light streamed into its dark, dusty interior. A wheelbarrow, rake, shovel, and a pair of rubber gloves glinted in the sunlight, catching his eye. The shovel and rake were covered in spots of rust, worn from years of use, but they sure as hell could get the job done and that's all that mattered to him. In fact, he could probably get Epoch in on the cleanup effort—after all, trying to do something of this caliber alone is a challenge in its own right. It would be like drinking with no cup, or reading a book without light, or a Pokémon trying to battle without its Trainer...

Elijah suddenly realized the mistake that he had made. What if Epoch was getting pummeled by one of those Murkrow that he saw earlier? What if Epoch was attacking someone else? What if Epoch was stolen?! He hadn't even left the city yet and he was already being incredibly careless as a Trainer. With a sudden rush of energy that he sorely needed, Elijah quickly dumped the tools that he saw earlier into the wheelbarrow, swiftly grabbed its handles, and sprinted out towards where he left his Porygon in a frenzied blitz. He hadn't even noticed that he left the door open in his effort to leave as quickly as he could.

Panting as he arrived at the worryingly welcoming trash heap, Elijah fervently scanned his surroundings for Epoch, eyes flicking back and forth until they eventually landed on a magenta-and-blue mass floating about twelve feet in front of him. Phew, it's safe, he thought as he let out another sigh of relief. What was it doing? Hopefully it hadn't gotten itself into a fight—

Before he could finish that thought, a trash bag zipped out from behind the pile that Epoch was hovering over, followed by two flashes of purple a few seconds later. Elijah quickly identified the trash bag as a Trubbish, being all too familiar with them back home in Castelia, but it took him about fifteen more seconds to realize that the purple was a telltale sign of a Rattata or two, and his Pokédex confirmed it. He went over to check as the Trubbish dashed to another spot, Epoch already one step ahead of him as it floated over to where he was standing. Were they... attacking the Trubbish? It was hard to see, but it definitely looked like it was taking a bit of a beating. He continued to watch the feud with abject curiosity when realization struck him.

Wait, don't rangers protect wild Pokémon? That's kind of my job now, isn't it? Elijah thought. He wasn't quite sure if he was mixing up Pokémon rangers with park rangers, the classes that taught him about the former role being nothing but foggy memories in his mind at that point, but he didn't care. Park rangers were stewards of nature, and if he was going to fill those shoes, then he was going to fill them well. He looked at Epoch, who was continuing to stare at the Trubbish. Why wasn't it even trying to intervene, anyway?

...Right. Elijah told Epoch to defend, not protect. The Porygon was a computer program, so it only did what he told it to. He'd have to tell Epoch what to do again if he wanted it to fight those Rattata.

"Epoch, let's take care of those Rattata!"

The Porygon emitted a dissonant chord that all but told him that it was having trouble understanding what he was telling it to do.

"...Okay, Sharpen, then Tackle those two Rattata. Keep it up until I tell you otherwise or they're knocked out. If the Trubbish attacks you, then you're allowed to fight back as well. Don't kill anything."

Arceus, I sound dumb, Elijah thought to himself. Was that last sentence even necessary? After all this was over he'd definitely take some time to learn how to talk to Epoch.


Update 7
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Loading up the wheelbarrow full of rusted tools, you race back to where you had left Epoch. Out of everything that could've possibly happened in your absence, this wasn't the worst. Your orders had been followed to the letter, it hadn't engaged any of the wild Pokemon because none of them had been to bothered with it. As you arrive on the scene, you take a moment to absorb the situation. The Trubbish was trying to feed on the garbage, however a pair of what you soon identify to be Rattata, seem intent on badgering the poor Poison type. The living trash bag tries to avoid them but does little to actually fight back. You're now left to determine whether it was your place to step in and stop this violence. The Pokemons' presence would surely make your job a touch more complicated. Rangers were meant to protect wild Pokemon, but did that also extend to Park Rangers? In the end you figure you've got a duty to protect the park and at the moment, Trubbish is included in that.

You give Epoch some more explicit orders and finally it clicks into action. It adjusts its programming, the edges of its body becoming sleeker and sharper. With its attack boosted, Epoch zips forward, tackling one of the Rattata as it lunges in to tear at the trash bag. It rolls back a ways but its partner takes the opportunity to attack. It leaps at Epoch, fangs bared, but then at the last moment it recoils in disgust. What just happened? Epoch doesn't seemed to care and quickly tackles the Rattata that tried to attack him, sending it stumbling towards its partner. As Epoch floats back towards you, you notice it seems to be emitting a strange Stench. Speaking of stenches, the Trubbish seems to be getting a little fed up as it has begun to emit a poisonous gas. The gas could quickly fill the surrounding area, with both the Rattata and Epoch in the field of its reach. Despite this, the Rattata don't look like they're going to go away that easily and quickly regain their feet and prepare for their next assault.


Reply 7
Spoiler: show
Initially, Epoch seemed to have taken its commands in stride, sharpening itself and then tackling one of the Rattata with a level of precision that only a computer could achieve. This briefly soothed Elijah's worries that his first battle would end in disaster, but his nerves were struck once again when the Trubbish of all things released a cloud of gas that seemed to instantly cover the immediate area. In addition to that, Epoch had hardly affected the Rattata that it tackled, and it seemed to immediately get back up, somehow cringing at the Porygon in the middle of its attempt to fight back. This battle was getting a little too rough to handle, and things might have gotten worse if Elijah didn't do something.

"Epoch, get out of there!"

The Porygon floated back to Elijah, responding to his request to flee from what looked like a losing battle. It smelled awful, probably from the Trubbish stinking up the place, but he'd save getting to the bottom of that one for after he dealt with the cleanup. Both of them needed to regroup, and fast—Elijah didn't know how far that gas was going to spread, and those Rattata were still tenaciously attacking the poor Trubbish. He turned to the supplies that he had just grabbed from the shed and set his backpack down next to them, beginning to think about what he could use to help calm things down.

Shovel? No, bludgeoning a Pokémon into submission was the last thing that he wanted to do right now. Sitrus Berry? What good was healing someone if they were just going to get steamrolled anyway? Poké Ball? That would probably make whoever it hit even angrier, and he was not in the market for a teammate that absolutely hated his guts. No matter what angle he approached the situation from, Elijah couldn't really think of anything in the midst of all the chaos, but if he didn't do something fast, then the trash wouldn't be the only thing taken out today.

It seemed like letting Epoch keep going was the best plan of action, but not without some preparation. Elijah handed one of the Sitrus Berries that he grabbed earlier to Epoch (who was somehow able to hold it), and started thinking about how it could defend itself. From what he saw on his Pokédex, the only way it could deal any sort of damage was through a mere tackle, so he had to make sure that it was strong enough to do some damage. He also needed to make sure that the Porygon could handle whatever was in that gas, so maybe using one of those "conversion" moves was in order?

"Okay, let's try another Sharpen and Tackle. If you get hit by the poison, use Conversion 2 so that you aren't weak to it," Elijah ordered his Pokémon, throwing his surprisingly useful gadget back into his pocket. Dissatisfied with his plans but accepting that this was probably all that he could do without endangering himself, he watched Epoch move back towards the battleground with bated breath.


Update 8
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- With the Trubbish emitting a possibly harmful Poison Gas, you decide to call Epoch away for a moment. Its a smart play, as the gas spreads quickly and quickly consumes both of the Rattata, concealing them and the Trubbish from view, for now at least. This gives you a moment to consider your options. Whacking the Rattata with the shovel was a bad idea, catching them was likewise out of the question. Epoch was the only solution here but with its limited attacking options the Porygon would have trouble dispatching them quickly. You decided to stick with it, giving the programmed Pokemon a Sitrus Berry to hold should his health drop to dire levels. It sharpens some more as the Poison Gas begins to dissipate, boosting its attack further.

Once the Rattata are back in view, Epoch rushes in to deal with them once more. The first Rattata the Porygon strikes is already looking rather unwell, the Poison flushing through its system already beginning to take its toll. It doesn't take the hit standing still however as Tackle clashes with Tackle. Epoch's attack boosts prove the diverse as he quickly overpowers the rat, driving it into the dirt. It struggles to regain its feet and as it does, it decides this fight isn't worth its time anymore. It turns and scampers away, shaking violently every few steps as the poison takes hold.

Epoch gained 2 levels!

The other Ratatta is a different story. While Epoch was dispatching its friend, it has been busy further troubling the Trubbish. It appeared to be suffering from poison as well, although it was handling it remarkably well. Perhaps it just had more GUTS than its friend? It bites the Trubbish, tearing at its already damaged bag. As the bag tears, some Acid Sprays from the wound, dousing the Rattata, weakening it somewhat. Epoch would have to be careful dealing with this Rattata, it looked like it could deal some real damage!


Reply 8
Spoiler: show
Epoch handled its next set of actions like it was nothing, crashing into one of the Rattata after sharpening itself once again. Elijah inwardly cheered as the rat fled, having held up his own against a Pokémon for the first time. Soon enough, he'd be able to do this without even batting an eye, the thought of mastering something that he didn't even know that he could handle prior to today exciting him. The other Rattata, however, was going to prove to be a bit more of a challenge; it looked tenacious enough to not go down without a fight. Elijah was about to order Epoch to attack again when he heard two beeps ring from his pocket. What was going on with his Pokédex? Curious, he took it out from his pocket and tapped on a flashing symbol that he hadn't noticed before.

Code:
↩ BATTLE LOG
-------------
[ ^ View earlier logs ^ ]
Epoch's Trace copied TRUBBISH's Stench!
Epoch used Sharpen!
Epoch used Tackle!
RATTATA flinched!
RATTATA was poisoned!
Epoch gained 2 levels!
Epoch is now at level 7.
RATTATA's Guts boosted its Attack!
...Huh. Guess I should really pay more attention to this thing, Elijah pondered, looking over the "battle log" that was on the screen. Not only did it explain why Epoch smelled awful, but it was also telling him what his opponents were up to and giving him a heads up whenever his Pokémon were getting stronger. He'd probably keep tabs on it in the future whenever he found himself in the middle of a heated battle. Another line of text popped up at the bottom of the log, prompting Elijah to keep reading.

Code:
Epoch learned Psybeam!
What the hey?! Wasn't that move, like, insanely powerful or something? Elijah pulled up Epoch's move list just to make sure that he wasn't hallucinating, and sure enough, the Psychic-type move was sitting there at the bottom like it was your average everyday attack that every Trainer knew that Porygon could learn. It kind of felt like cheating, and he wasn't entirely comfortable with that, but an attack was an attack, and it was probably the best option that he had to finish off the other Rattata. He figured that it would be safer, too—with every move that the Trubbish was making, it was becoming way more dangerous to stick with close-quarters combat.

"Epoch, use Psybeam on that last Rattata!" Elijah yelled, pumped but ready to end the fight. All this litter wasn't going to clean itself up, after all.


Update 9
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Having ignored your Pokedex until now, you're surprised to find some valuable information on it once you open it up. It confirmed a few things you already suspected, like Porygon tracing Trubbish's Stench ability and the second Rattata possessing the Guts ability. It also informed you that upon leveling up, Porygon had learnt a new move, Psybeam. The Psychic type attack was somewhat of a surprise, but it was certainly helpful as relying on Tackle was starting to feel a tad redundant. You felt a little uncomfortable using the newly acquired move, but it was really only natural for a Pokemon to get stronger by battling.

Epoch follows its new orders, preparing its new attack for the first time. It gathers energy at the point of its nose before firing a beam of glistening psychic energy at the Rattata. The attack causes the Rattata to issue a pained screech as it proves to be quite effective, likely helped by Trubbish's Acid Spray lowering the Rattata's special defense. If it wasn't obvious to start with that the Rattata were looking for an easy win, it is now as the second Rattata realizes that sticky around just isn't worth the hurt. It quickly rushes off in the same direction as its friend. With both of its attackers now gone, Trubbish can finally go about its business in piece. It happily continues to consume the garbage, completely ignoring your presence. It didn't seem to pose a threat to you or Epoch and it was cleaning up some of the garbage, maybe you should just let it be?

Trubbish couldn't clean up all this mess though, even a Garbodor would struggle to scoff all this down. You'd have to get to work now. It wasn't as simple as collecting all the rubbish and dumping it in the skip bins either, you'd have to sort out all the recycling. Perhaps there was an easy way to identify what needed recycling?


Reply 9
Spoiler: show
"...Whoa."

That was the only thing that a dumbfounded Elijah could say as he watched Epoch fire off a Psybeam at the remaining Rattata, the latter scurrying away after it realized that sticking around to harass the Trubbish was absolutely not worth the effort of trying to hold itself up in battle. He'd come out on top, even if it was a bit of a hollow victory—a far cry from his mild distaste for Pokémon training just a few months earlier, which made his win all the more sweeter. The long road ahead of Elijah seemed shorter as he watched Epoch return to him, realizing that he had a knack for battling that he didn't realize that he had.

Basking in his own light didn't really help anything right now though except for his mood. Like he'd been reminding himself throughout the fight, there was a ton to clean up, and not a lot of time to do it in. The Trubbish that he spent the past while defending had happily returned to shoveling waste in its mouth, which looked like it could help, but that hardly made a dent in the sheer amount of trash lying around. Elijah looked over the tools that he had brought from the shed once again. It was obvious what the gloves were for, so he put them on immediately. He could probably use the rake to pull together piles of trash, and the shovel to scoop them in the wheelbarrow, which he would then wheel over to the closest empty trash can he could find so that he could dump all of it in there... if there were any. Elijah looked around for something that he could use, spotting a massive dumpster at the maintenance shed that he got the supplies from right next to... one for recycling...

...Right. There was probably a whole bunch of stuff to be recycled, too. How was he going to figure that out quickly? Sorting through all the trash just to make sure that everything goes into the proper one wasn't easy, and the fact that he had to do a lot of it in addition to the two other tasks on his to-do list wasn't helping. He'd have to figure out how to easily single out everything that could be recycled, and throw it in the right container, like a living computer...that he just so happened to have, actually!

"Alright Epoch, here's our new game plan. I'm going to go get those dumpsters from over there—" he pointed to the maintenance shed "—and then I'll dump some trash in this wheelbarrow to put in them. Can you figure out what I should recycle from it every time I fill it up and put it in the one for recycling?"


Update 10
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- You decide to let Trubbish continue to feast, every bit of rubbish it consumed was less for you to worry about after all. There was plenty to go around though and you now had to deal with the monumental task of sifting through it all. You pull on the rubber gloves as you prepare to get to work, explaining to Epoch how you'd go about the task. You head over to the dumpsters by the maintenance shed and attempt to pull them. Unfortunately you lack the strength to move them more than an inch as the wheels don't exactly like moving in the long grass. A shame, bringing them closer to the rubbish would've made life a bit easier. Fortunately you still had the wheelbarrow. Heading over to the closest collection of trash, you grab the rake and pull it into a pile. Epoch then throws himself into the pile, his programming somehow allowing him to determine which items could be 'recycled'. You load up the recyclable items with the shovel and quickly wheel them back to the large bins, tossing them in the one clearly labelled as a recycling bin. You then race back to grab the leftover trash, repeating the process except this time tossing it into the general waste bin.

One pile down, countless to go.....

It is grueling work but somewhat rewarding. You can take pride in your achievements as you slowly but surely turn the cesspool back into a spotless clearing. You cross paths with the Trubbish occasionally but it doesn't seem too concerned about you cleaning up all the rubbish. By the time you're done, your back is starting to ache and your shirt is soaked in sweat. You load all the tools back into the wheelbarrow and prepare to return them to the shed, only to find the Trubbish blocking your path. For a moment you're concerned that the Poison type is finally ready to fight, however that doesn't seem to be the case. Instead it tosses a couple of things at your feet. An apple core, likely the Leftovers of someone's lunch, as well as a broken TM disc. The disc seems to be missing a shard and the label is worn, but perhaps it could be repaired somewhere in the city? The Trubbish then looks up at you like its waiting for something. Did it want to come with you? Perhaps you could catch it if that's what you wanted, if not though, maybe there was a way for Trubbish to be of further use to the park?


Reply 10
Spoiler: show
Taking care of all of this trash was quite possibly the worst thing that Elijah had ever been through, but it was also immensely satisfying to see everything cleaned up in the end. The north side of the park looked absolutely spotless by the time that he was done—there wasn't a single wrapper, can, or ticket left on the ground by the time that he was done. He made sure of it too, asking Epoch to do a quick survey of the land just in case he missed a spot. So far, so good; Elijah's back was absolutely killing him at this point but he was already prepared to move on to his next task—some lawn care on the west side, if he recalled correctly. He'd probably remember it while he brought the tools back to the shed.

He made it about halfway before he hit a roadblock in the form of the Trubbish from earlier. Elijah recalled crossing paths with it a few times while he was cleaning up, but it didn't look like it cared all that much, so it was a bit of a surprise to see it intervening. Was he about to get himself into another battle? Did it want something from him, or was it here to say thanks for saving it earlier? It was probably the latter, because it offered him two gifts in the form of Leftovers and a broken TM. It definitely didn't look like much, but Elijah was grateful anyway, picking up the two items and storing them in his backpack (he'd probably have to use the Leftovers before it rotted away too). It wasn't until he looked back at the Trubbish when he noticed that it was... waiting for something? He wasn't sure what was up: it couldn't be hungry because it had plenty to eat during his cleanup session, and he'd already established that it didn't want to battle. Which only left...

It wants to join me, doesn't it?

Elijah wasn't exactly sure what to do. Having a second team member definitely wouldn't hurt, but was he ready for it? He wasn't sure if he proved himself back there, and he wasn't supposed to... uh, catch anything as a ranger, was he? Is this even what the Pokémon wanted? Would doing this result in some weird divine entropy thing that would prevent him from possibly catching anything else in the park?

...Wouldn't hurt to try. Elijah pulled a Poké Ball out of his backpack and crouched down as well as he could to try not to look menacing. He recalled those Plasma goons that were running around back in Castelia ages ago talking about treating Pokémon as equals, and while they were obviously more than a little off their rocker, it kind of sounded like the right thing to do. Steeling his nerves, he glanced at the plasticky red-and-white orb that he was holding in his left hand and then looked back at the Trubbish.

"Are you, uh... asking me to join my team?"

This was either the silliest thing that Elijah had ever done or he was about to hit one of the first big milestones in his Pokémon training journey.


Update 11
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- Was this it? Your first capture? Trubbish had certainly caught you off guard. Sure, you'd helped get rid of those Rattata that were pestering it, but did that really warrant such a moment? The Poison type had been rather nonchalant the whole time, it hadn't even bothered to acknowledge you until now. As a Park Ranger, were you meant to capture Pokemon? Well you were really only a casual Park Ranger, you were a full-time trainer. Maybe this was meant to be?

You pull out a spare Pokeball, holding it in your left hand as you question the Trubbish's intentions. The Trubbish looks into your eyes, what was it looking for? Maybe it sensed your apprehension, because it gives a shrug of its bag like one would shoulders and turns, walking towards the skip bins. What a strange little Pokemon. It didn't seem intent on going anywhere, there was a good supply of garbage for it to feed on still and it was certainly doing the park a service. Woody was worried about not having enough rangers to keep the park clean, perhaps he was a little closed minded? You knew where to find Trubbish if you wanted to, perhaps once you were certain of your intentions. There wasn't much point standing around thinking about it, you could think while you walked. You return the tools to the shed, watching as Trubbish scrambles up into the loaded bin, letting out a joyful screech as it drops into a treasure trove that only a Trubbish would love.

One task down, two to go. Where to next?[/COLOR]


Reply 11
Spoiler: show
...Yeah, should've seen that one coming. Elijah probably just hadn't been assertive enough to catch the Trubbish—either that or it just wanted to throw him for a loop. He'd probably try to be better about that going forward: in fact, he resolved himself to catching the next Pokémon that just so much as looked like it wanted to be trained. So what if he screwed up? He could probably fare well with just Epoch if things really went south. For now, though, there wasn't really any use in waiting around. Elijah tossed the Poké Ball back into his backpack and continued to move towards the shed to put everything back where it belonged... wait, was that door supposed to be open?

Never mind that. Elijah still had some work to do. What was next... weeding and trimming bushes on the east—no, west side? That sounded right. He'd probably need something to cut things with, so he glanced around the shed to find the right tool for the job. There was bound to be something in here like there was for all that trash-picking.


Update 12
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- although you fear you may have made a mistake in your hesitation, you resolve to do better next time. The next time an opportunity like this presented itself you'd grasp it with both hands and secure your first capture. You switch focus back to your next task, gardening. You were already in the shed, it was probably worth checking for more tools to help out. Sure enough, after a bit of searching you find something that may be of some use. A pair of old hedge clippers, coated in rust but they would work with a bit of effort. After a quick check of the map you hit the path once more, Epoch following you closely as you head off to your next chore.

Woody had really undersold the condition of the gardens, if you could even call them that at the moment. The bushes were wild and overgrown. Weeds had spread wildly between them, their prickly stems would prove a pain to pull and you were already beginning to regret leaving those rubber gloves behind. You look around and find the area to be quite quiet. This would be a lot of work for you to handle on your own, but perhaps there was a way to get more hands on the job? Trubbish had certainly made cleaning up the rubbish a little easier, perhaps their were some Pokemon around that could help you clean up the garden? You'd need something to help trim back the bushes as well as clear away the weeds. A large copse of tightly knit trees rests off the far side of the garden, a nice sheltered location for Pokemon to hide in. You could get straight to work and try and complete the task by yourself or you could take a chance and try and find some help. The choice was yours.


Reply 12
Spoiler: show
If there was supposed to be a garden here, Elijah didn't see it. What he had imagined to be a few sporadic weeds and some bushes that looked just a bit unkempt turned out to be a chaotic mess of thorns and leaves everywhere. The rusty pair of hedge trimmers that he had grabbed from the shed would have barely been able to prune a mildly overgrown shrub as is, so trying to use it to cut down... whatever was happening here would be pretty much impossible. Epoch wouldn't be much help either, unless repeatedly slamming into a bush or shooting lasers at it with its mind counted as trimming it. How was he going to solve this problem? He couldn't just ask for help when the park was already understaffed as is.

Hey, wait a second, Elijah thought. Asking another ranger for help was definitely out of the question, but a Pokémon could probably tear through these plants in a way that these hedge trimmers couldn't have ever achieved, even by instinct if that Trubbish from earlier was anything to go by. He'd already established that Epoch couldn't really make a dent in the garden, so he'd probably have to... catch something else. He still wasn't fond of the idea as he still wasn't confident about who he wanted on his team or how whatever he caught would see him...maybe he should just bring something on temporarily to see if it would be a good fit for him?

Elijah was overthinking things again. He had promised himself earlier that he'd just catch the first thing that he saw that looked like it wanted to come with him, and he wasn't one to break promises. Inwardly sighing, he looked up and spotted a densely wooded area on the other side of the ruined garden—a perfect place to find a new hire. Mentally preparing himself for whatever came next, Elijah weaved his way around the garden and entered the forest, trying not to worry about if he made the right decision or not.


Update 13
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- finding some Pokemon to help was a good option, however you were still unsure about capturing another team member. You'd sworn to yourself that you'd catch the next Pokemon you encounter, but what if it wasn't a good fit? It wasn't uncommon for a trainer just to befriend Pokemon, hell, Pokemon Ranger's didn't catch Pokemon at all, although they had means of controlling Pokemon for a time. You would just have to play things how they come and hope that when the time to capture a Pokemon presents itself, it feels right. As you weave through the garden, you notice Epoch pauses to analyze the weed that has taken hold. Strange behavior from the man-made Pokemon but its not the first time it has acted odd.

After a brief pause for Epoch you make your way into the small patch of forest. It is eerily quite, not exactly what you needed right now. Either the Pokemon here were really good at hiding or there just weren't many here right now. You and Epoch spread out a bit, keeping within sight of each other while expanding your search radius. Eventually you get an alert from Epoch, the Porygon has found something! You race towards it, finding it near the base of a tree. A large weed similar to those found in the garden has been growing near the base of the tree, however its end its quickly approaching. A trio of Weedle feverishly feast on the spiny plant, not at all worried about the barbs that would've stung your hands numb. They seem to have a big appetite and a taste for the weed, you even knew where they could find a banquet of it. If you could lead them back to the garden, they could take care of the weeds, essentially cutting your workload in half! The only trouble would be getting them back there....


Reply 13
Spoiler: show
For all that nature had reclaimed this section of the park, the forest seemed uncharacteristically silent. Elijah heard his shoes collide with the dirt on the ground as he pushed onward, the trees composing a leafy canopy that provided some much-needed respite from the afternoon sun that had been beating down on him all day. Epoch was... doing its own thing, completely of its own accord? Elijah was told that Porygon couldn't do that, actually—something was up with Epoch and he knew it, but he let it slide. It seemed to have gotten the memo, searching for something just as intently as he was. Hopefully it was something that he could take advantage of for the task at hand.

Elijah was intently staring at a particularly large oak tree when he heard a ping from behind him, causing him to yell in surprise. What in the world was that thing doing?! He turned around to discover Epoch staring at a weed that looked an awful lot like the ones that had taken over the garden being eaten by what looked like a bunch of worms with spikes on their heads. Those were... Weedles, right? He'd heard a ton about them from the trainers that he bumped into online—they were apparently really common outside of Unova and were poisonous, sort of like the Venipede that he'd see crawling around on the sidewalk sometimes. They seemed less threatening than the bugs that he was used to, which was probably a good thing, actually. Besides that, they were absolutely devouring that weed like it was nothing, not only meeting but passing Elijah's expectations.

Wait. Is that why they call them Weedle? Who's the comedian that thought of that one?

Never mind that. Elijah just needed to lead them to the garden, and then he could get to work with the admittedly very pitiful tools that he had on hand. Bugs liked fruit and berries, right? He hoped so, because that was the only kind of food that he had on hand at the moment. Asking Epoch to give up its Sitrus Berry (who thankfully immediately complied without any more of its own weirdness), he dug his fingers into it, tearing it into pieces that he could use as a breadcrumb trail of sorts to lead them to the destination that he had in mind for them. He then scattered the items behind him as he headed back towards the garden, hoping that the Weedle would follow suit.

Now that he was thinking about it, Elijah knew a lot more about Pokémon than he thought. It probably just came with the territory of growing up in an area with an active League presence, though.


Update 14
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- Although Epoch's behavior was odd, acting of its own accord was something you considered to be outside of its programming, this time it had paid off. You'd found some free labor, these Weedle would surely make quick work of the weeds. In order to lead them back there, you request that the Porygon give up the Sitrus Berry you had gifted it earlier. It complies without issue, as you would expect. Tearing the berry up into smaller pieces, you lob a couple of pieces towards the Weedle who are just finishing up their snack. The smell of fresh berry is enticing and a welcome change of flavor from the weed. They fight over the pieces but it is a harmless quarrel, there was plenty more to go around after all. Once you know you've got the Weedle interested, you turn and continue to drop a trail of the berry behind you.

Epoch monitors the situation as you weave your way back to the garden, the Weedle seem to be following without issue. They're a bit hesitant as you break from the cover of the trees, but once they see the garden and the feast that awaits them, their little eyes light up. The charge into the garden and quickly get to work, munching away at the weeds that you'd been tasked to clear away. That couldn't have gone any better. With the Weedle working on the weeds, you just had to put the rusty old hedge clippers to work and trim back the bushes. Hopefully by the time your done, the Weedle will be as well. Epoch hovers above the Weedle, intent on keeping a watch on them.


Reply 14
Spoiler: show
While Elijah wasn't too thrilled with wasting a perfectly good Sitrus Berry, his plan to use it as bait to lead the Weedle to the thorny garden that he was trying to clean up worked flawlessly. He wasn't sure if they'd be able to cover the entire garden, but they'd at least make quick work of most of it, which took a load off of all the lawn care that he was about to do. Epoch was still doing... whatever it was that it was doing, which still vaguely alarmed Elijah, but not to the point where he'd freak out about it.

Those bushes weren't going to get taken care of if Elijah didn't step in, though. Unfortunately, the worn rusty metal on the hedge trimmers that he was holding looked barely sharp enough to snap more than a few thin branches, but he'd probably manage. It was the sharpest thing that he could find, and if push came to shove he could probably find something else to work with. Sighing at the amount of work ahead of him, Elijah walked into the gardens and proceeded to groom the shrubbery with the hedge trimmers, hoping that he'd have a much easier time here than at the concert grounds.


Update 15
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- With the Weedle working it was time for you to get started on the trimming. The first couple of hacks with the rusted hedge clippers are a struggle. After a while though, the rust seems to wear off a bit and they become slightly easier to use. Your height makes trimming the bushes somewhat easier, being able to reach the tops of them where a shorter person would struggle without a ladder. You occasionally check on Epoch and the Weedles, however all seems fine on that front. Under the watchful eye of the Porygon, the Weedle were making quick work of the spiky weeds, growing themselves as they consumed more and more.

You were nearly done, one bush to go. Your forearms were starting to cramp and your hands were starting to blister, but relief was in sight. The Weedle were just about done as well. With the weeds all but cleared, one of the Weedle decides to give something else a try. A small green and pink plant nestled by the edge of the garden. Epoch watches as the Weedle attempts to consume the plant, only for it to make a grave mistake. That wasn't a plant, it was a Pokemon! The plant-like Pokemon's pink eyes snap open as it is woken from its slumber. The Weedle lets out a horrified screech, drawing the attention of its companions. They race from the half eaten weeds to confront the Pokemon their pal had awoken. Whatever it was the Weedle had disturbed, it was pissed. It swings small scythe like leaves at the Weedle as it works itself into a frenzy. Suddenly the Weedle are sent souring through the as little Pokemon hits them with a devastating Leaf Storm! A powerful move from such a small Pokemon. The Weedle seem to have no intentions of holding their ground, instead they pull themselves up into a tree with a sticky String Shot. You watch as the trio dangle back and forth from a branch, then suddenly begin to glow. Their bodies swell as they become cased in a hard protective coating. It seems through helping you they'd eaten enough to evolve into Kakuna! With the Weedle gone, you can't be blamed for hoping the little plant Pokemon would calm down. Not a chance. Now that its been awakened it seems to be locked in a state of fury. It leaps at Epoch, sickle like leaves clawing at him with a Fury Cutter.

You managed to make it through most of this job without confrontation, now when you were nearly done, this happens. Epoch was already under assault, you'd have to act quick before his opponent gained too much momentum.


Reply 15
Spoiler: show
Thankfully, it turned out that bush-trimming was way easier than trash-picking. So easy, in fact, that Elijah wondered why he even thought that the latter was going to be the easier task a few hours ago. That didn't mean that it wasn't going to take a lot of time and effort, though—by the time that he got down to the last bush, his arms were shaking like they were about to fall off from all of the work that he was doing. Bringing the Weedle over was also a really smart choice, seeing that there wasn't a single weed left for as far as he could see. In fact, they were still hungry, seeing as one of them had started to nibble on a plant at the edge of a garden. He'd probably need to get them back to the forest soon so that they couldn't cause any more harm to the garden that he just what the—

In what seemed like an instant, the "plant" had awoken and sent all three of the Weedle flying through the air like they'd been caught in a storm of leaves. It was a sight that was equally as shocking as it was mesmerizing, the Pokémon showing an impressive display of strength for something that small, but it wasn't as mesmerizing as the three Weedle suddenly evolving into Kakuna right above Elijah's head. Guess that's one liability down, he thought as he was momentarily distracted from the infuriated Grass-type, returning his attention to it right as it rushed to Epoch to land a well-placed Fury Cutter in the midst of all its rage.

Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap...

"Epochtacklethatthing!!!"

Elijah didn't waste any time, reacting before he even processed what he was looking at. What was that thing anyway, and why did it have the nerve to give Epoch the slip when it wasn't even doing anything?! Whatever it was, it was going down, no matter what weird trick it was about to pull.


Update 16
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- The small plant Pokemon the Weedle/Kakuna had awoken appeared to be a little bit of a powerhouse. That was a worry, Epoch had managed to beat the Rattata but they were weak and Trubbish had helped out a bit there. Scrambling, you order Epoch onto the offensive. The programmed Pokemon charges into its attacker, colliding with it as it lands another Fury Cutter, this one stronger than the last. If was allowed to continue with the Fury Cutters, the attack would only keeping getting stronger. You had to work out what this Pokemon was so that you could find a way to stop it......

A familiar beep breaks your train of thought. Your Pokedex! You'd neglected it during your last battle and once you finally opened it, you were given the information you needed to gain the upper hand. You flick the device open and it promptly spurts out information, including the identity of your mystery assailant. Fomantis, the Sickle Grass Pokemon. It sleeps during the day while undergoing Photosynthesis, viciously attacking any Pokemon that dares disturb its slumber. Well that explained why it was acting so aggressively at least. The Grass type flings itself wildly at Epoch once more, cleaving through the air with another Fury Cutter. Epoch swivels to the side, avoiding the attack at the last moment as Fomantis cleaves a branch off of one of the bushes. Missing may have reduced the power of its attack, but its anger doesn't appear to be dissipating. It begins to glisten with energy, preparing another Leaf Storm like the one it had used to send the Weedle packing. Epoch seems rather concerned, an attack like that could deal a lot of damage.


Reply 16
Spoiler: show
As Elijah struggled to regain his bearings, he watched as Epoch rushed to collide with the attacking Pokémon as it responded with another Fury Cutter. This thing was strong, and it was only getting stronger. If it kept attacking like that, there was no telling how much damage it could deal to the polygonal bird. He'd have no fighting chance if he couldn't figure out what—

The Pokédex beeped in Elijah's pocket yet again. Did Epoch learn another new move or something? Even amidst the chaos that was unfolding in front of him, Elijah wagered that it was worth a check, reaching into his pocket and flipping it open. It immediately displayed the Pokémon's name, type, and a brief description... oh! Of course he'd forgot about the device's main feature of cataloging every Pokémon that came near it, having been so caught up in all of this labor that he simply didn't have time to really think about it. Fomantis, Grass type... native to Alola? No wonder he didn't know what it was; the Unova League hadn't even allowed anything from that region last time he checked. The Pokédex also mentioned that it slept during the daytime, which explained why it was so grumpy.

This Fomantis probably wouldn't back off though, as much as it probably wanted to go back to sleep. It had thrown another Fury Cutter at Epoch, who had thankfully narrowly dodged the attack. Elijah would have to figure out how to exploit its weaknesses if he wanted to make it out of this mess without his Pokémon getting knocked out. Grass wasn't weak to Normal, though, and whatever attack that Epoch could fire off wouldn't help, either... but Epoch didn't have to be a Normal type, could it? Conversion 2 was a bit of a big risk since Epoch wasn't even getting hit with a Grass-type move, but it could provide it with the edge that it desperately needed.

"Epoch, use Conversion 2 and follow it up with Psybeam!"

It didn't hurt to throw in the strongest attack that the Porygon knew. Elijah just hoped that it would be able to survive long enough to use it.


Update 17
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- The fiery Fomantis was certainly a puny powerhouse and a strong attack like Leaf Storm would likely be devastating for Epoch. Thankfully you think quickly, Epoch's greatest skill was being able to change its type! You order the programmed Pokemon to use Conversion 2. The Porygon flashes as it initiates the program, inputting the type of the last move that hit it, Bug, and changing its type to one that resists it. You watch as Epoch's color changes to a bright red, signalling that it had converted into a Fire type! Fire was perfect, not only would it resist Bug, but it would resist Grass as well. Fomantis launches the barrage of leaves which slam into Epoch, driving it back through the air. The attack still stings but not as much as it would've if the Porygon had remained its original typing. The attack seemed to be even more forceful than it was when Fomantis had attacked the Weedle, but how? Leaf Storm was a strong attack but it reduced the user's Special Attack, it should've been getting weaker each time it used it.

Epoch fires back with a Psybeam, the laser sniping the Fomantis in the chest, sending it tumbling through the dirt. The little Grass type scrambles back up and rushes towards Epoch, sickle arms swinging as it launches a Leafage at the man-made Pokemon. The attack does little to the makeshift Fire type but it doesn't look like Fomantis plans on backing off anytime soon. Epoch was well positioned defensively, it was just a question of whether his defenses could outlast the Grass types offensive assault.


Reply 17
Elijah watched Epoch nervously as it used Conversion 2, intensely hoping that it would somehow switch its type over to something that would give it some sort of advantage over the rampaging Fomantis. Thankfully, against all odds, whatever random number doohickey that it had invoked had given the Porygon the Fire type, and Elijah's Pokédex confirmed it, much to his relief. The Pokédex also happened to confirm that the "Fury Cutter" move the Fomantis used was a Bug-type move, which didn't make too much sense to him but he shrugged it off. Moves were weird sometimes and it was a miracle that he managed to remember quite a few of them today—it was probably just a side effect of him studying a little too hard to apply for his trainer ID a while back. He'd definitely have to brush up on these things during his downtime so that he didn't get roughed up by a move that he should have definitely seen coming.

Speaking of moves, the tenacious Fomantis fired back with a Leaf Storm, obviously completely unfazed by Epoch's bolstered defenses, who returned the attack with a Psybeam. The former was definitely getting stronger for some reason, and Elijah wasn't sure why. If he could just help Epoch tough it out and land enough hits before the pint-sized powerhouse managed to overpower the newly-christened Fire type, then he'd be able to win this. Psybeam might have been pretty strong, but it wasn't quite enough to lead him to victory. Elijah needed something stronger, and he needed to do it fast.

As the Fomantis finished up a... whatever a "Leafage" was, Elijah had already settled on a plan—a very familiar plan, but considering the amount of moves that Epoch could do any damage with, it was worth a try.

"Let's try another Sharpen and Tackle! Try to tank those hits!"

Hopefully nobody noticed the slight twinge of nervousness that had somehow wormed its way into his orders. This battle was getting very dicey.


Update 18
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- You were learning, slowly but surely. That said, you couldn't help but feel like you were a bit behind other trainers. It would take time for you to learn and memorize the myriad of moves that Pokemon could pull off, something you'd have to do if you were going to be a good trainer. Fomantis had already thrown a few interesting moves at you, placing you on the back foot, but you decide to stick to a familiar strategy to try and wear the Grass type down. You order Epoch to use Sharpen, but as it goes to use the move, something goes wrong with its programming....

"Error detected", your Pokedex beeps, "Porygon's attack has been lowered." What? Lowered? Sharpen was meant to increase its attack! "Source of error located, Porygon has Traced the ability Contrary. Contrary makes stat changes have the opposite effect." If Epoch's ability had changed to Contrary, that meant Fomantis had to have that ability as well right? Perhaps that was how it seemed to be getting stronger?

Fomantis slashes Epoch with another Fury Cutter, the attack isn't very strong yet and Epoch's Fire typing means he barely registers the damage. As the Fomantis lands back on the ground, the Porygon pursues, slamming into him with a Tackle. The attack is weakened due to the stat drop, but any damage was good damage at this point. Fomantis strikes again with its Fury Cutter, this one having a little more sting about it. Watching closely, you notice the Grass type is beginning to pant from exhaustion. It was still furious, but perhaps its endurance was beginning to wane?


Reply 18
Spoiler: show
Okay, so far, so good. Epoch had been taking the battle in stride, despite being taken by surprise earlier on. In fact, that Sharpen seemed to... do nothing? That seemed like the opposite of right. Apparently Elijah's Pokédex seemed to concur (somehow), because it called itself to his attention with a beep, obviously alerting him to something important. Let's see here... Epoch Traced the ability "Contrary..." which reversed all stat changes... you've got to be kidding.

That was a thing that could happen?! Why didn't he notice that before? This Fomantis was definitely getting on Elijah's nerves. Infuriated, he forcefully shoved the Pokédex back into his pocket and glared at the Fomantis. If it's a battle that it wanted, then it was going to get that battle. Even if it landed an extremely well-placed Fury Cutter, almost like the one that it had just dealt to Epoch, he was ready to see this battle through to the end, even if something really weird happened in the middle of it. Epoch still only knew two ways to attack, but that was definitely enough to get the job done.

"Alright, two can play at that game, bud. Epoch, let's give it another Psybeam."


Update 19
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Fomantis was proving itself to be relentless, but you could feel it begin to spark a fire within yourself. Its determination to beat you only made you all the more determined to beat it. You just had to keep wearing it down, surely it wouldn't be able to last much longer? Tackle wasn't a great option now, but thankfully Epoch had an move that didn't rely on its attack stat. The Porygon follows orders, quickly charging and firing another Psybeam. The attack looks like its dead on target, but then......

SWOOP

Out of nowhere a Spearow drops in, sweeping Fomantis up with its talons. This must be what a Fomantis's nightmare looks like as the tiny Grass type that had just been trying to destroy you flailed helplessly in the Flying type's talons. It stood no chance of fighting back, especially after it had expended so much energy fighting you. The Spearow Pecks at its prey, weakening it further. It lands in the same tree the Kakuna are taking refuge in, on a branch a bit higher up than the recently evolved Bug types. That was a bit of an anticlimactic ending. You were now free to quickly finish the trimming bushes so you could head off to your final task. However the shrill cries of the Fomantis would probably be a bit distracting, the Grass type still struggling helplessly in the talons of the Spearow. Epoch looks at you, emotionless as always, but you get the feeling that he is unsure how to proceed.


Reply 19
Spoiler: show
The next few seconds were a blur. Epoch fired off a Psybeam, the Fomantis had begun to defend itself, then something swooped in, grabbed it, and took off, landing in the same trees that the Weedle evolved in.

...Wait, what?

Elijah's tunnel vision faded as he stopped to make sense of what had just happened. He was staring down a Spearow (at least that's what his Pokédex told him) pecking at the Fomantis that he was battling not even a minute ago. How... convenient? He couldn't help but stare at the scene unfolding above in confusion as he trimmed the last bush, the shrill cries from above demanding his attention. Did... he win? This sure didn't feel like winning. It sure didn't feel like losing, either.

In fact, who was even on his side here? The Weedle helped him clear out the weeds, but they also had set off the Fomantis. Did they even know that it was a Pokémon? The Fomantis started attacking his Porygon, but was it doing it out of blind rage? The Spearow helped him take out the Fomantis, but didn't it just want to rest? Shouldn't he have just walked away from the battle entirely? Epoch looked concerned as well, probably. Elijah wasn't too sure about it, but considering the amount of times that all of these computers started acting like they had a mind of its own today, it was definitely a possibility. Whatever was happening, it was getting out of hand. He felt like whacking that tree out of frustration, but he knew that it would just make him a target instead.

Elijah briefly contemplated just walking away and dealing with the next thing that he had to work on. This was an absolute mess, and letting nature take care of itself was definitely the path of least resistance. But wasn't he supposed to clean up messes? This seemed like it would get even worse if he just let it happen, and he still kind of a responsibility to protect the wildlife in the park. Didn't he just say to himself that he was going to see the battle through to the end, anyway?

"Uh... I think we should do something about this," he said, turning to Epoch. In what seemed like the next in a long line of risks that he took today, Elijah decided that he'd take on the Spearow too, even if he was admittedly getting battle-weary. The Fomantis was probably still going down, but at least he'd have the satisfaction of actually triumphing over it instead of having his last hit stolen by something else. That was still up for debate, though—it was probably just as tired as him. He'd probably cross that bridge when he came to it. "Let's Tackle that Spearow and hope for the best."

Was that "Contrary" thing still in effect? Elijah hoped not, but he was about to find out. Besides, whatever ability that the Spearow had would probably give him some sort of edge.


Update 20
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- of course there was a twist. Of course you weren't allowed to just finish the battle. Had you won? Surely that counts as a win by default? You can't stop thinking about it as you finish off trimming the last bush, the cries of the Fomantis causing your hair to stand on end. You consider your allegiance here, but eventually you come to the realization that your allegiance is to yourself. You'd promised yourself you'd see this battle to the end and Spearow had prevented that.

A decision made, you order Epoch to attack the Spearow. The programmed Pokemon rushes through the air as you contemplate whether its ability had reset or if it still had Contrary as its temporary ability. Epoch has nearly closed the gap before Spearow spots it. Not wanting to be disturbed, it dances around on the branch, flicking up a barrage of feathers to try and deter the would-be savior. It as this moment that you thank your lucky stars, as it seems the ability Epoch traced from Fomantis is still in effect. Rather than deter the Porygon, the feathers only seem to strengthen it. Epoch slams into the Spearow's chest, causing it to utter a pained caw as its hold on the Fomantis is broken. The tiny Grass type falls through the air, landing on the grass with a soft thud. It lays there, barely moving, a stark contrast to the frantic Fomantis who was trying to tear you apart mere minutes ago. It was hurt and in no small amount of pain, it needed help.

The Spearow glares angrily at Epoch, it had cost it a snack. It lunges forward, Pecking the Porygon. Epoch isn't sure how to proceed, it had done what you'd asked of it, Fomantis was freed but there was no way it could continue to battle. The Porygon could feel strength surging through its system. It had already taken a bit of a beating though and Spearow was fresh, was this a fight worth sticking around for or was it time for a tactical retreat?


Reply 20
Spoiler: show
Epoch was fast, but the Spearow was faster, the latter quickly reacting by dancing around in a flurry of feathers... Feather Dance? Elijah mentally congratulated himself for figuring that one out. If he kept this up then he'd probably not suck at this by the end of the day. Apparently Epoch's Trace hadn't worn off either, the effects of Contrary coupled with the Feather Dance allowing it to crash into the Spearow with the force of... two Porygons? Three Porygons? He wasn't entirely sure how much that stat change did, but it sure did something because the Spearow was startled enough to let go of the Fomantis, allowing it to plummet to the freshly-manicured garden below with a very worrying thud. The Spearow also retaliated with a Peck aimed directly at Epoch.

That... wasn't good. The poor thing had already been through enough for the day, and by the looks of things it probably wouldn't see the next if he didn't do something about it. Epoch was also looking a little worse for wear despite finding some newfound strength in the midst of battle. And on top of all that, Elijah was really tired of all this battling. Again, the thought of bailing crossed his mind—he wouldn't get anything out of this, but on the plus side he'd finally be able to take a breather from all this fighting. Then again, that Spearow seemed pretty agitated, which probably meant that it wouldn't let him go without it chasing him down and pulling him back into the fight anyway.

Elijah didn't really have a choice here, did he? He begrudgingly decided to keep fighting, knowing that eventually something would give, freeing him from the clutches of these endless shenanigans. Hopefully it wasn't anything on his side, but knowing his luck so far he wouldn't be surprised if his Porygon got knocked out during battle. There was also the Fomantis to worry about—one misstep and that thing would be today's dinner. Status moves were off the table, too—he didn't even want to know what would happen if Conversion 2 made Epoch weaker against the Spearow, even if he had a hunch that it wasn't even affected by the ability. This was definitely a good plan in the—

Wordlessly but visibly, Epoch prepared a Conversion 2 with the intent of following it up with a Psybeam.

...Okay, something was definitely up with that thing. Elijah would probably have to ask about it later. For now, he silently tossed one of his remaining Sitrus Berries to the Fomantis' side, hoping that it would at least have enough strength to eat it.


Update 21
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Fight or flight? Fleeing from Spearow would be a risky move, the bird was fresh and would surely be able to pursue. Pecks to the back of the head weren't your idea of a good time. You do your best to come up with a plan, but Epoch seems to have other ideas. The Porygon had been acting weird all day, but this was next level. After taking a Peck from the Spearow, the Pokemon's programming decides that another Conversion 2 is the best course of action. As you stand there shocked, Epoch runs the program, shifting its type to something that resists Flying this time. The Porygon glistens as a silvery sheen spreads across its surface, signalling a shift to Steel type. Seems like Epoch's programming was proving to be pretty precise. The Spearow pecks at the Porygon again but is met with harsh resistance. A point blank not only deals a powerful blow, but skittles the Spearow's mind. The confused bird has no idea what is going on, it flaps around haphazardly, doing its best to orientate itself towards its target. The Spearow rushes at its target with Fury, however the attack doesn't hit Epoch.

thunk

Spearow smashes into the trunk of the tree, knocking itself out. How fortuitous! Epoch floats back down towards you, stronger and more experienced from the frantic battling.

Epoch gained 2 levels!

Meanwhile, you've managed to lob one of your remaining Sitrus Berries towards the critically injured Fomantis. It takes a while for it to comprehend the gesture, but it soon manages to pull itself close enough to the berry to eat it. The nutrient rich treat manages to give Fomantis enough energy to pull itself up, but its clear that its injuries are beyond what the berry can heal. If it was left in this condition, it would be easy pickings for the next predator to spot the easy meal. Epoch stares at the Fomantis, its programming perhaps telling it that it had yet to finish the fight. So far the Porygon had won when its opponent had fled or been knocked out, perhaps there was another way to wrap up a fight?


Reply 21
Spoiler: show
For a Pokémon that apparently had no form of sentience, Epoch was very adept at using its skills to its advantage. Scarily adept, in fact. Somehow it had flawlessly converted itself to the Steel type and delivered a point-blank Psybeam that almost immediately knocked out the Spearow. Elijah hadn't seen a display of strength this powerful... well, ever, actually. If he was having any doubts about this Porygon being different earlier, then they were more than put to rest at this point. This was next level—

Beep-beep.

Speaking of next level, apparently Epoch had leveled up again, if Elijah's beeping Pokédex had any say about the matter. He took it out of his pocket for what seemed like the hundredth time today and glanced at the screen.

Code:
Epoch gained 2 levels! Epoch's level is now [9].
Epoch learned Agility!
You're doing great so far.
Keep it up.
Uh... what? Epoch leveling up wasn't out of the ordinary, but that message at the bottom was. That sure wasn't Epoch saying that, because it was too busy staring at the Fomantis that had just eaten Elijah's Sitrus Berry. It definitely wasn't anything else installed on the Pokédex either, considering that he hadn't installed anything that could possibly interfere with the battle log... right? He'd have to chew out his friends later, maybe they just pulled a weird prank on him. It definitely wouldn't be out of the ordinary for at least one of them.

Anyway, the Fomantis wasn't doing so hot. Despite the berry healing it enough to at least stand up, it was obviously not getting any better from its near-fatal encounter with the Spearow. It needed some extra care: something that Elijah wasn't able to provide at the moment. Leaving the park to get it to a Pokémon Center didn't seem like a good idea—he was still on duty and he still had work to do. He definitely didn't have another way to heal it either, and if he just let it lie there then it was bound to get picked off by something else. There was only option left, and neither he nor the Sickle Grass Pokémon were going to like it.

...This is going to be a temporary solution. I'm taking it to get it healed, then I'm going to release it later.

Subconsciously holding his breath, Elijah took a Poké Ball out from his backpack, wound back, and threw it... only for it to land in front of the Fomantis' feet.

It turned out that his aim wasn't exactly the best thing either.


Update 22
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Things only got weirder as Epoch rejoined you. An alert from your Pokedex contained more than just an update on the Porygon's level and moveset. An additional message was cause for some concern, had your Pokedex been tampered with? It could've been a harmless prank, courtesy of one of your friends, or it could be something else at work....

After looking Fomantis over, you realize the only place that could treat the damaged Grass type would be a Pokemon Center. The only issue was that you didn't have time for that right now. You still had to stake out the vandals and there was no telling how long that would take. Epoch would probably appreciate some treatment as well after all it had been through today. You couldn't just carry Fomantis around until you could get to the Center, you'd have to capture it. You were sure the Fomantis would resist, but it was weak and there wasn't any other option. You select the red and white ball from your bag. You'd almost used it earlier on the Trubbish, but now you found yourself nervously lobbing it towards the Fomantis. Your aim is shocking and you wonder how on Earth trainers get so accurate with these contraptions as the ball skids along the grass, stopping a couple of inches in front of Fomantis. The Grass type takes one look at the ball before glaring up at you. Were you serious? Times like this were when you wished you were psychic, what was going through its mind? It shoots a quick look at Epoch before surprisingly lunging forward to tap the button of the ball with it's sickle like leaves. The ball pops open and a red light draws the little Pokemon inside. It snaps shut before shaking back and forth violently. After a short struggle it settles and a resounding click signals a successful capture!

Congratulations! You've caught a lvl 7 Female Fomantis! It knows the Egg Move Leaf Storm!

You'd done it, your first capture! Even if it wasn't permanent, it was still a milestone worth celebrating. Perhaps not for too long though, you still had one task to complete, hopefully the vandals hadn't already been and gone....


Reply 22
Spoiler: show
If Elijah had to be honest, he didn't expect his first catch to be like this. That Fomantis seemed pretty beat up and distrustful of him, and he wasn't really catching it. It was more like he was just... keeping it safe until he could get to a Pokémon Center. Sure, it might have been a cause for celebration, but was it really celebrating if he didn't feel like he won? He didn't even hit the Pokémon with the ball, it just kind of caught itself in what seemed like... pity? Accepting that it was the only way for it to get healed like he did? Either way, if he wasn't celebrating then his Pokédex was, its screens filling up with all kinds of information about the Fomantis that he just caught. It... no, she had an "Egg Move" of Leaf Storm, a detailed description about her species... did he really need to know what a Fomantis' footprint looked like? Whatever, he probably wouldn't be looking at that screen again unless she was going to be a permanent member of his team, which was about as likely as him... wait, no, he was actually a Trainer now...

Whatever. Two down, one to go. He just needed to take care of this vandalism problem and hopefully not get interrupted like the last two times, then he'd be in the clear. He needed to hurry up, too—from the looks of things sunset was probably going to be in an hour or two, and he didn't want to end the day being this close but yet so far from accomplishment. He also needed to return the hedge clippers that he'd been holding to the maintenance shed; there were probably some cleaning supplies that he could use in there, too. Not to be deterred, he picked up the hedge clippers that he'd somehow dropped during battle as well as the Fomantis' Poké Ball, which he stashed in his backpack. He then set off back towards the maintenance shed, keeping an eye out for any closer facilities that he could make use of instead.


Update 23
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- overloaded with information on your temporary team member, you realize it is getting late and you really needed to get a move on. You stash the hedge clippers in your backpack and quickly hustle back towards the maintenance shed. You know the route like the back of your hand now. You here some rustling in the bins as you reach the shed, seems Trubbish was still gorging itself, its appetite seemed to be insatiable. You quickly dump the rusty hedge clippers and search around for some cleaning supplies, unfortunately the shed's bounty seems to have run dry. You would just have to hope that you could catch the vandals before they can cause too much damage.

You head off down to the south end of the park. The sun would likely set within the hour and most of the park's patrons were making their way home at this point. As you near the South Gate, you notice from a distance that the trees seem to have some added decoration. The decoration is unmistakable, white toilet paper drapes from the branches, discarded rolls lay littered across the grass. Were you too late? As you get closer you're relieved as you spot the culprits. Two kids, likely in their mid to late teens, were still launching rolls up into the branches of the trees. Both sport leather jackets with a large silver skull emblazoned on the back. They were both rather unkempt, one a boy with long black hair hanging over his face, the other a girl with bleach blonde hair pulled back into a messy ponytail. There were no Pokemon in sight, but that didn't mean they didn't have Pokeballs on them. With the two Pokemon on you being in a weakened state, it was probably a good idea to avoid dragging the pair into a battle. Neither of them had spotted you yet as you conceal yourself behind a nearby tree, how should you proceed?


Reply 23
Spoiler: show
The trip to the shed was almost a waste of time. Elijah hadn't found anything to clean up whatever this supposed "vandalism" was, but he at least was able to return the hedge clippers to their rightful spot. The Trubbish was still gorging itself on all the trash that he had cleaned up hours earlier, which was surprising since it had probably eaten like five times its body mass at this point, yet somehow it was the least strange thing that had happened today. Remembering to close the door behind him this time, Elijah moved towards the south side of the park while a battered Epoch followed.

The trees near the south gate were... strangely decorated, to say the least. Stripes of white were draped over them haphazardly, almost like a pitiful TPing attempt. In fact, that's what it actually was: as Elijah approached, he was able to distinguish the perforations in the long strips of paper that waved in the wind. It was thankfully a far cry from what Elijah was anticipating—he did NOT want to figure out how to deal with graffiti without anything to clean it with. It looked like the culprits were there, too—a boy and a girl, probably just a bit younger than he was, emptying their entire supply of toilet paper into the canopy above. They certainly were textbook examples of wrongdoers, both sporting messy haircuts and leather jackets proudly boasting shining skulls. Were they part of a gang or something? Elijah was aware of Team Rocket and Team Plasma through the many history lessons he sat through at school, having witnessed the latter's shenanigans himself, so it wasn't out of the question.

Either way, there would definitely be trouble if he confronted them directly. There didn't seem to be any Pokémon nearby, but the two vandals probably had some on them, which would probably end in disaster considering the only ones that he had on hand were pretty roughed up as is. He'd have to find a way to shoo them off without getting into a fight, which was easier said than done because they were pretty dead set on messing this place up. Maybe there was a way that he could exploit their weaknesses or something? Whatever it was, he couldn't see one right away.

It was probably a good idea to stay back and get a grip on the situation. Taking cover behind a tree, Elijah watched the pair of troublemakers intently, trying not to be seen. Hopefully he could try to find a way to get them to leave without trying to be assertive, because he was definitely not good at that and that would just set them off anyway. If he could only call in some backup...

Wait, wasn't he handed a walkie-talkie earlier? He must have forgotten in the midst of all of the chaos of the day's events. Trying to be as quiet as he can, he held down the button on its side and started talking.

"I think I just found the vandals, but my Pokémon got seriously roughed up earlier. Can I get some backup? I'm at the south gate."


Update 24
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Upon spotting the vandals, you quickly put together that they must be affiliated with some gang. The matching jackets was a dead give away. That meant they were definitely not the types you wanted to mess with. With engaging them in battle being an incredibly risky and reckless play, your left to consider your minimal other options. It is at this point that you remember that Woody had given you a walkie-talkie, to be used in exactly this sort of situation. You scramble to pull the communication device from your bag, holding down the button and praying to Arceus that the noise isn't loud enough to catch the attention of the vandals. Eyes fixed on them, you wait patiently for a reply, not that you're left waiting for long.

"Excellent work kid, knew I picked a good one. I just sent an alert to the local police, they should have a patrol nearby but you'll need to keep the vandals busy for a few minutes for them to get there. Don't risk your Pokemon, think on your feet, I'm sure you can pull something off."

The walkie-talkie falls silent, the vandals still have no idea where you were. They looked to be running low on toilet paper, they'd likely be moving on soon. If they were gone before the police got here, they'd likely get away with it. You had to distract them, but how? A battle wouldn't work, not without putting your Pokemon in real danger, but perhaps there was something else you could do to keep them around for a bit longer?


Reply 24
Spoiler: show
"Roger that."

Thankfully, a response came quickly, even if it wasn't in the form of backup. Woody had apparently sent the police to catch the vandals red-handed—while Elijah was raring to deal with them himself, he figured that letting the cops handle them instead was probably the better idea for him and his Pokémon. He just needed to keep the duo distracted long enough for them to get busted, which was a task easier said than done because it looked like they were running out of toilet paper fast. If they took off now, there was no telling where they'd be next.

Think on my feet, huh... Elijah looked down to see if there was anything by his feet. Was that a rock? Probably? It was hard to tell what was on the ground next to him in the fading daylight, but it sure felt like it could make a sound if he dropped it somewhere... or threw it. It wasn't exactly the safest thing to do, but it was probably worth a try. Aiming behind the skull-jackets, he lobbed what he was holding into the air, intending to distract them long enough for the police to arrive. Hopefully he had a better aim this time...


Update 25
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- this was a tricky situation, yet you feel instincts start to kick in. You had to keep the pair of vandals here until the police arrived, but they looked like they could turn tail at any moment. Your hand fumbles around at your feet, grabbing what feels like a small rock. If you could lob it up and over the vandals, the clash of it against the path might just draw their attention, at least for a moment, giving you an opportunity to come up with something else. Cocking your arm back, you let the rock fly. As it leaves your hand, you can't help but feel like you might've made a mistake. Your attempt at throwing a Pokeball not long ago was laughable and now you were trying to accurately throw a rock? What could go wrong? It whizzes awkwardly through the air, rising nicely. Then it starts to drop, quicker than anticipated. The projectile drops like a, well, like a rock, heading towards the worst possible location.

Thwack!

"Ahh fuck!" The young boy screeches as he grabs the back of his head, fresh blood spilling from the split in his head. The girl scrambles around stunned as to what just happened. Looking around she spots the rock you'd thrown, stained with the blood of her partner in crime.

"Isaac are you alright? Where the hell did this rock come from?" She scans the area, her eyes hawk-like as she attempts to locate you. Your chest shakes as your heart and lungs work over time. Huddled behind the tree, you pray to Arceus that the pair don't locate you.

"Ahhh, I'm alright", the boy claims. Using some of the remaining toilet paper, he wraps it around his head before holding it in place with a black beanie that he pulls from his pocket. "Whoever it was has to be close by Taylah, let's find them and beat the shit out of them!"

Things weren't looking good for you. The pair were angry and on your scent, if you didn't do something soon, they'd likely find you.


Reply 25
Spoiler: show
So that was probably the worst thing that Elijah could possibly do.

The good news was that he had somehow managed to hit something with his impressively bad aim. The bad news was that what he hit was one of the vandals. Somehow, in his attempt to stop a crime, he had accidentally all but committed one instead. It looked like it had hit pretty hard too, if the blood trickling from the wound on the boy's head and his subsequent screaming were anything to go by. This was bad, and it was probably going to get even worse.

...That and they were definitely on his trail, even if the two weren't exactly sure where the rock came from. If he was caught, he'd be in for one hell of a fight, and in the state that he was in it was pretty obvious that he'd be on the losing side. He needed to do something, and he needed to do it fast.

Could he just bluff and try to pretend that he was a legitimate park ranger who was concerned for their health? That was a bad idea and a half, considering that they'd suss him out within a heartbeat with how thoroughly they were searching for him. Maybe he could throw something else to try and confuse them? Not in a million years if his horrendous aim had anything say about it. What if he just turned around and ran? That would probably get him spotted faster.

There wasn't really a way out of this, was there? If things got super bad, he could probably try to stall them with Epoch, but it probably wouldn't be able to keep them at bay for long. It was still better than nothing, though—a strategy just sane enough for Elijah to give his Porygon the Leftovers that he had stored in his backpack earlier. For now, though, he'd have to wait it out in his hiding spot behind the tree, preparing for the worst.


Update 26
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- What could you do? They were going to find you, sooner or later. The best you could hope for was later, late enough for the cops to be here to stop them. When they did find you, you knew you were going to be in for the biggest beating of your life. You needed to at least be prepared for the inevitable and to that end, you decide to give the Leftovers that Trubbish had gifted you to Epoch. The Porygon accepted the item and immediately began extracting the energy from it. With the Pokemon's programming slowly repairing, you hope that you can hold out long enough for it to make a difference.

Peering out from behind your hiding spot, you notice the situation is getting considerably worse. The pair have been searching near some trees nearby and have reached a point of frustration that drives them to the next level. The girl digs into her jacket, producing a scuffed up Pokeball, the red half of the ball worn and scratched. With a flick of her risk she releases an odd pink Pokemon. It looks vaguely canine, however it seemed to prefer being bipedal. "Snubbull", the girl snaps, "give this a sniff and see if you can pick up on the scent, we need to catch this bastard." She tosses the rock you'd thrown to her Pokemon, who gives it a good smell. It then sniffs around in the air, trying to pick up and eliminate the myriad of smells it must be experiencing. Despite the scent of the blood on the rock, it appears the Pokemon has picked up on your scent as it now glares straight towards the tree you're hiding behind. "Ha, he's got the scent, that way!"

They're heading straight towards you!


Reply 26
Spoiler: show
Those vandals were definitely on edge, if the events that had unfolded previously weren't enough already. The boy—Isaac, if Elijah recalled correctly—had been scouring the nearby trees despite what must have been the world's worst headache, and the girl, Taylah, looked like she was getting fed up with the fruitless search for the person who had stoned her cohort in the back of the head. At least they were still confused about it; if Elijah could manage to keep a low profile long enough then he believed that he could get himself out of this mess without a scratch.

...That was what he thought until Taylah dug into her jacket and released an uncharacteristically petite magenta canine—a Snubbull, if what she was addressing it by was any indicator. She instructed her Pokémon to sniff out the culprit from the rock, which Elijah didn't believe would actually work until it glared directly at the tree that he was hiding behind, immediately followed by the troublemaking duo giving chase.

Welp, I'm screwed.

Elijah frantically took off from behind the tree, hoping that it would at least buy him enough time for the cops to arrive. Isaac and Taylah would definitely give chase, but it wasn't like they weren't doing that beforehand.


Update 27
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- The jig is up, you'd been made. A couple of seconds head start was the best you could hope for at this point. You leap from your hiding spot and proceed to run as fast as you can, Epoch trailing behind you.

"There!" Isaac shouts, "there's the bastard that stoned me! Get him!" The pair pick up pace in pursuit, Snubbull struggling to keep pace with the gang affiliated teens. You weave back and forth between trees, doing your best to make yourself as hard a target as possible. Epoch beeps wildly, alarmed by the situation. You find yourself running circles of the area, not wanting to lead them further into the park as that would mean taking them further from the police you were hoping were getting close. You shoot a look over your shoulder and to your surprise, only Isaac is still chasing you. Where was Taylah?

As you round a couple of trees, you're forced to stop dead in your tracks as Taylah and her Snubbull leap out in front of you. "No where to go you Torchicken. Get ready for the beating of a lifetime." She clenches both fists as she approaches, you can hear Isaac's footsteps getting closer behind you. Then, suddenly.....

"STOP RIGHT THERE! DROP TO YOUR KNEES AND RECALL YOUR POKEMON!" Your head swings over towards the gate where a pair of Police Officers a surging towards the three of you. A Growlithe and Electrike bound out in front of them. Taylah and Isaac shoot each other a look and Taylah quickly recalls her Snubbull.

"You're going to regret this punk, no one screws over the Silver Skulls." Taylah spits at you before her and Isaac make a run for it, heading deeper into the park. They likely wouldn't get far, the two police canines that were in pursuit were gaining ground quickly. One of the officers runs after the pair, while the other approaches you, pulling out a notepad.

"Looks like we got here just in time, guessing your Elijah? You did a great job, are you alright? Before I let you go I'll just need to grab a quick account of what happened."


Reply 27
Spoiler: show
Elijah's feet were on fire and his heart was pulsing. He raced for as long as he could, pure adrenaline coursing through his veins as everything became a blur. All that he knew was to run, run like the wind, don't let them catch up, don't let them leave. It did strike him as odd when he only saw Isaac chasing him when he shot a glance behind his shoulder, but it didn't matter because if he stopped to think then all of it would be over and he'd lose everything. Elijah rounded a corner and stumbled, tumbling face first into the dirt below while Taylah jumped out of the bushes to catch him in the act. There was no escape, he'd been cornered, he should have thought this through, sirens wailed in the distance, he turned his head...

Thank Arceus, the fuzz had finally arrived.

Flashlights blinded Elijah as two officers rushed onto the scene in an instant. It was pure sensory overload: yelling, Pokémon burning and sparking, footsteps running, lights flashing, a faceful of pain. He couldn't make heads or tails of the situation and his overworked instincts weren't working in his favor. His dilated eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness that had returned as one of the officers gave chase, taking the light with them. His heart slowed as his breathing steadied, feeling an odd sense of safety after one of the worst scares that he'd experienced in the 18 years since he was born.

"Looks like we got here just in time, guessing you're Elijah? You did a great job, are you alright? Before I let you go I'll just need to grab a quick account of what happened."

A police officer approached Elijah as he pushed himself off of the ground and back onto his feet. They grasped a notepad, probably full of notes and sketches that told stories of crimes long past. Not tall, not short, gender unknown—it was hard to tell who they were in the fading twilight. A strip of toilet paper fell from a tree just behind Elijah, crumpling on the ground in a messy pile of white, probably less so than whatever he looked like after the climactic chase. They wanted answers, and Elijah was more than happy to divulge them, even between shaky breaths.

"I- I was trying to take care of some vandalism in the park, found those two throwing toilet paper into the trees, tried to distract them long enough for you to arrive but accidentally hit one of them in the head, had to make a run for it, I think they said something about the 'Silver Skulls...'"

He spoke rapidly but slowly enough so that the officer could understand him. Epoch hovered nearby, staring at Elijah.


Update 28
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- As the sun sets, you give the police officer a rundown of the events from your perspective. You'd caught the vandals in the act, called for help, accidentally cracked one's head open and then ran for your life until just now. You also made sure to mention the name of the gang that Taylah had let slip, the Silver Skulls.

"Ahh yes, one of the upstart youth gangs that have been spreading out of Hoodlem recently. Normally they keep to their district but recently they've been branching out, looking for new territory and trying to make a name for themselves. You're lucky you only stumbled onto some vandalism, they've been known to get up to much worse than this. We'll probably only be able to keep them overnight and slap them with a fine, not that they'll be able to pay it. I'd probably avoid Hoodlem for a little while, these gangs hold grudges. Thanks for your assistance." The officer heads off to catch up with his partner, who'd likely secured the two criminals by now. As if on cue, Woody pulls up in a golf cart, Malloy perched on his shoulder.

"You look like you've had a long day kid, hop in, we'll worry about the mess in the morning." Exhausted, you hop in alongside Woody, Epoch nestles down on your lap. Its a rather quiet drive back to the Ranger's Station, Woody sensing you needed a bit of time to calm down. The accommodations at the station are modest, a small kitchen, a living room with a fireplace and decent size television. Most of the space is taken up by the bedrooms, one of which Woody directs you to. A small single bed, a wardrobe and a desk is all you find in the small room. "Bathroom is the room next to you, why don't you throw your bag off, I'll make you a cup of coffee and you can give me a run down of your day." Woody was being surprisingly compassionate compared to what he was like when you first met him this morning. Perhaps he felt bad that he'd put you in danger? It wasn't just you though, your Pokemon had been through a lot as well, perhaps Woody could help with that?


Reply 28
Spoiler: show
Apparently, the Silver Skulls were one of the many gangs that had been spreading from New Fizz's slums. That wasn't as bad as Elijah thought that it would be, but they were apparently still a formidable opponent judging by the officer's warning to stay away from Hoodlem. He wasn't planning on it, anyway; that was the perfect place to get robbed, beaten up, and exploited, and he did not want to go there as someone who'd probably easily end up affected by all three of those categories. As he waved the policeman off, Woody pulled up in a golf cart, offering him a ride back and calling off the toilet paper cleanup work. Elijah immediately took the offer without thinking: he'd had enough ranger duties for one day.

As he climbed in the golf cart, Elijah realized just how utterly tired he felt. He'd been toiling all day, cleaning up messes all over the expansive park, walking a stupidly far distance several times, and getting nearly beaten into submission twice. Epoch was also... tired too, apparently, judging by the way it settled down in his lap. Do computers even sleep? Elijah mentally added that to the growing list of mysteries centering around his Porygon, hoping that he'd be able to get to the bottom of them at some point. He leaned back in the seat as the vehicle started moving, grateful that he finally had some time to breathe.

The ride to the station was a little bumpy, but ultimately serene, the park under the cover of night providing an odd sense of comfort to Elijah. The station itself was equally as cozy to him, even if the accommodations there weren't exactly inviting—after all that time working outside, having a roof over his head was exactly what he needed. Woody showed him around the place—a central area with a kitchen and living room, his very temporary suite with just the bare essentials, and a bathroom right next to it. The head ranger was just about to leave to make some coffee when Elijah spoke up, realizing that he still had some loose ends to tie up.

"Hey, before you leave, can you do me a few favors? My Pokémon got pretty beat up out there, do you think you can heal them up a bit? I also found this broken TM earlier and I was wondering if you could do anything with it."

Elijah recalled Epoch into its Poké Ball and handed Woody the items related to what he was talking about—the shards of the broken TM and his two occupied Poké Balls.

...Wait, there's also that Fomantis problem, actually...

"One more thing, please let me know if the Fomantis does anything weird. I don't think she trusts me."

As much as he wanted to move on, Elijah wasn't too sure about the Fomantis. He was thinking about releasing her earlier but the thought of holding onto his first catch was kind of... growing on him? He didn't want to have a Pokémon on his team that didn't really appreciate him though, especially this early on, so he was still kind of on the fence about it. He'd definitely cross that bridge when he came to it, though—that bathroom seemed mighty appealing to him after a long day of not using one and he was planning on using it as soon as Woody left.


Update 29
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- Before Woody heads back to the kitchen, you quickly ask whether he can do anything to help the two worn out Pokemon you have in your possession. In preparation you recall Epoch into its Pokeball and thankfully Woody gives you a positive answer. "Of course, one of the local Pokemon Centers gave us their old healing machine when they upgraded recently, I'll give them a quick run through on that overnight and they should be right as rain come morning. You'll have to fill me in on this Fomantis situation, sounds interesting." Woody leaves you to relieve yourself, taking the two Pokeballs from you. He also takes the broken TM, although he doesn't exactly seem confident about it.

By the time you emerge from the bathroom, Woody has the fire lit and a cup of hot coffee for you. He also produces a couple of leftover pastries, hardly a healthy dinner but free food was free food. "I did a quick check over the clearing and garden earlier, they both look fantastic, you did a better job than I thought you would. I can't afford to pay you, we're over budget as is but perhaps you can make use of this?" Woody produces a small plastic card which he hands to you. "That's a Transport Card, as a city employee I get free transport anywhere in the city. Taxi, boat, train, you can even use it to borrow one of those bikes from the kiosks you see littered everywhere. Figured it would help you get around the city a bit faster. I don't really use it, never go too far from the park anyway. As for the TM, its beyond anything I can pull off. You could always try finding a shop, maybe even the Foundry?"

Woody directs you to some soft lounge chairs spread out around the fireplace. As you sit down, Woody produces a copy of the local paper. He rifles through it before pulling out a section which he tosses to you. "Give this a look over, might interest you. I might have you run the odd job for me to keep the roof over your head, but consider yourself free to roam the city most of the time. I know you're meant to be a trainer first, not a park ranger."

Looking at the section of the paper, it seems to be different jobs around the city asking for assistance. Grey Matter Labs was looking for test subjects. The Foundry was having issues with some of its furnaces. A researcher was looking to run a species survey off the Cape, while another researcher was calling for urgent assistance on Sunder Island.

It had been a long and eventful first day in the city. You could feel your eyelids getting heavier, despite the work of the caffeine in the coffee. There was still so much more of the city to explore, at least now you had somewhere to spread out from.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

This concludes this chapter of your adventure. I am more than happy to keep updating you if you wish. You're welcome to time skip and 'explore the city yourself' before picking a new area to head off to. Two of the items you obtained during this adventure are plot device linked to this zone and cannot be used elsewhere, details below:

Broken TM- May be restored but requires the work of an expert, you should be able to find a few throughout the city.

Transport Card- Simply a way for you to get free and quick transport around the city.


Reply 29
Spoiler: show
Elijah stared at the dark elixir in the mug that he was holding in his right hand. A bit too bitter, a bit too hot, but pretty much anything tasted like a divine gift from the heavens at this point. A half-eaten pastry was lodged in his left hand, its jelly-filled innards gleaming in the light of the fireplace a few feet away. It wasn't the healthiest food out there, but after all of the exercise that he put himself through today it was what he deserved to eat. The lounge chair that he sat in wasn't exactly luxurious, either; it was a little firm and it sort of rocked back and forth depending on the way that Elijah sat in it. Taking a swig from the coffee mug, he sighed and rested it on the table next to him, swapping it for a copy of the New Fizz Herald that Woody had given him earlier.

Is it really this easy to get some work? Elijah wondered. It seemed like all of the odds were against him earlier—he must have had like 175 emails telling him to go find somewhere else to work at this point—yet here he was, opportunities falling on top of him like a prejudiced Teddiursa from a particularly shady oak tree. It kind of struck him as odd, actually—he was more than capable of pulling his own weight as he learned today, so why was he being immediately rejected by everything that he had applied to in the past? Something was definitely up with that, and he was going to find out one of these days.

For now, however, he simply relaxed, basking in the warm glow of the fireplace. Elijah had actually accomplished something today, even if it wasn't in a way that he expected. He'd found a place to stay while he got settled in Fizzytopia, he powered through his first couple of battles, and he... might have caught his first Pokémon? It was... kind of fun, actually. Maybe being a Trainer wasn't as awful as Elijah thought it would be.

Despite all of the closure that he'd received, there was just one more question burning at the back of his mind that he had yet to answer. Taking out his Pokédex, he tapped on the "map" icon and watched as it zoomed in on Amity Gardens. A blinking blue dot was positioned directly on top of an overhead view of what looked like the ranger station.

You've gotta be kidding me.


---


"Ugh, what time is it?"

Sunlight streamed from the many windows that lined the walls of the living room. Distant voices blended together with the chirping of bird Pokémon and the rustling of trees in the wind. Charred logs sat in the darkened fireplace which had been burning brightly just last night. Elijah had apparently fallen right to sleep in the chair reading the classifieds page, evident by the unfolded newspaper resting on his lap. Stirring, he glanced at the screen on his Pokédex, which was helpfully displaying the current time: 11:30 AM.

Either he had some jet lag to take care of or he was seriously tired last night; probably the latter after all of that hard work. He looked back at the table to see two Poké Balls that hadn't been there last night, probably his own Pokémon that Woody had healed last night. Might as well get that one out of the way, too—he picked one up and opened the first one to reveal Epoch, obviously in a way better shape than the last time he saw it. His Pokédex beeped—"COMMUNICATION ERROR", it displayed in bright cyan letters. Strange, maybe Epoch was behind whatever was happening to his Pokédex? That sounded like something to look into. Elijah's eyes then moved to the second Poké Ball on the table.

...Yeah, a promise is a promise. Better release her before she starts getting antsy. He grabbed the second Poké Ball and opened it, hoping that he wouldn't get immediately attacked as soon as the Fomantis materialized on the floor. As the energy arcing from the Poké Ball faded, a familiar sight laid before him. Pink body, leafy arms, giant bud on her head: there she was, in the flesh. (Did plants even have flesh? Biology was weird.) It looked like she was alright, even if she did look kind of tired—the Pokédex told him that Fomantis were a nocturnal species, so it wasn't hard to see why.

"Okay, enough stalling, let's get you released."

Elijah looked over the Poké Ball, examining its circumference for some sort of button that would release the Pokémon that was bound to it. It didn't look like there was one; the two halves of its surface covered in uninterrupted smooth plastic. How do Trainers do these things, anyway? He was about to try looking at his Pokédex instead when he felt something poking at his shin.

The Fomantis was at his feet, staring at Elijah like it wanted something from him. It almost looked like it was making the same face as the Trubbish from earlier, even if it was kind of hard to tell with the lack of a visible mouth. Maybe it didn't want to go? He did save its life, after all...

"Are you telling me that you're, uh—"

Elijah didn't even finish that thought before the Fomantis nodded decisively. That was enough of an answer for him—she was officially his Pokémon, then. Elijah tried to hide his excitement, but he couldn't help cracking a smile at the thought of catching something that was actually his for once. He was moving on up as a Trainer already; at this rate, he'd have a full team by next week.

...of course, he couldn't just stay here forever. He looked back at the newspaper, looking at some of the possible odd jobs that he could take on. Be a test subject, fix some furnaces, survey some Pokémon, something happening on Sunder Island...

Okay, this was actually a little too much to think about for now. Elijah jotted down some of the jobs that he could take up in his Pokédex's notes app, intending to look at them later. He knew what he wanted to tackle first: getting that TM fixed. There were probably some repair shops downtown that he could make use of while he thought about where to go next.

"Alright, let's roll! I've got a few things that I want to do today, so we should get around to them as soon as we can."

With that, Elijah grabbed the Transport Card and broken TM as the Fomantis climbed onto his shoulder, walking out the door with Epoch following behind him.


Update 30 (Transition to Commercial Boulevard)
Spoiler: show
blu3shift- If you needed anymore proof that your first day of work was exhausting, waking up just before noon was a sure indicator. Having slept half the day away, you quickly rise and get your stuff together, including the two Pokeballs that Woody had left for you. Epoch was in much better shape, his programming having fulling recovered, while Fomantis seems to have come to a bit of a realization. She's tired, Fomantis are generally nocturnal, but she's also thankfully for everything you'd done for her. Looks like she'd be sticking around after all. The newspaper had given you a lot of options to pursue, but right now you wanted to start with something small. You had a broken TM that you still hoped could be repaired. There were plenty of shops around, particularly out on Commercial Boulevard which was conveniently close by.

You head out of the Ranger's Station, Fomantis sits perched on your shoulder, eyes closed as she goes about absorbing the sunlight that streams down on you. Epoch follows close behind, time would tell whether the Porygon took issue with not being your only Pokemon. You make your way out of the park and follow some signs directing you towards the Boulevard.

There is an overwhelming number of shops, a lot of which appear to be high end and out of your price range. There seem to be a number of smaller shops tucked into the alleyways and as you pass one, a sign with a disc on it catches your interest. Swerving down the alley to get a better look, you read the sign above the door.

Taz's TM Emporium

This was exactly what you were looking for! It didn't look very busy. Through the window you can spot a single employee standing behind the desk, spinning a TM like a top, likely out of boredom.


Reply 30
Spoiler: show
Petal? Too clichéd. Flipside? Nah. Slice? That's silly...

Elijah pondered about what he would call his new Fomantis as he headed towards Commercial Boulevard. The Fomantis perched on his shoulder basked in the sunlight between the towering skyscrapers that had intimidated Elijah earlier, while Epoch trailed behind as it always did. The walk was thankfully very uneventful, only lasting about fifteen minutes—a far cry from the time that he spent getting turned around yesterday. Streets lined with window panes and workers quickly turned into massive shopping centers and restaurants as he crossed into the commercial district.

Everything here looked expensive. High-end boutiques practically screamed at him through various windows to try on various brightly-colored clothes and steakhouses proudly boasted their top-of-the-line food. Elijah didn't have all the money in the world, so finding a place to get the broken TM repaired was easier said than done. Eventually a peek down the various alleyways in between buildings bore some fruit; a lit sign advertised Taz's TM Emporium. This was a boon for him, especially since it looked like it wasn't really busy at this time of day.

The store wasn't really much to write home about, but it still impressed Elijah. Rows of brightly-colored discs lined various shelves around the store, each one containing some sort of move that various Pokémon could learn. He also spotted some vinyl records perched in various places—apparently TMs came on those, too? Strange. He stopped gawking at the store's impressive collection as he approached the counter, where a very likely bored sat twirling a TM on the desk—probably Kaz, if his intuition served him well.

"Hey, I found this broken TM lying around a while back. Do you think you can fix it for me? It looks like it might be a bit beyond repair, but I think it's worth a try."

He dug into his backpack and placed the pieces of the TM on the counter, hoping that at the very least he'd be pointed in the right direction if it couldn't get fixed.


Update 31
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- Intrigued, you enter the store, a bell gently ringing as you push through the door. It was only a modest little store but it was well stocked with glimmering TMs. You make your way to the front desk, approaching who you assume to be Taz. He looks up from the disc he is spinning as you open your mouth, explaining how you'd found a broken TM and were hoping he could fix it. He stares blankly at you, before accepting the disc, giving it a look over. The label is faded, but he produces a small magnifying glass that he uses to get a better look at it. It's at this point his eyes light up. He looks at you, then back at the broken TM. It is only then that he opens his mouth.

"Hmmm the damage is pretty bad, it would take a fair bit of work to get it fixed up. The repairs would probably set you back $250 as is. Although, I'd happily relieve you of it and let you help yourself to a couple of TM's from the bargain bin if that's of interest to you." You had two options, pay to get the TM repaired, or exchange it for two TM's from the bargain bin that Taz has just gestured to. For some reason you get the feeling that Taz would like to get his hands on the TM. "So kid, what'll it be, fix or swap?" It seems Taz is getting a tad impatient, only making it more of an oddity that he is interested in the broken TM.


Reply 31
Spoiler: show
Initially, Elijah was set on digging through the bargain bin in the corner. It would have been the better choice for a beginning Trainer like him; it wasn't like he was going to end up using some super-powered attack right out of the gate. But the more that Taz stared at the broken disc, the more that Elijah was fascinated by it. Judging by the way that the store owner was looking at it, whatever was on there was seriously good. Maybe it was completely worth the money after all. He checked his bank account on his Pokédex to make sure—how did his funds go up that high?! He'd be able to easily afford the repair.

"You know what, I'll take it, it seems like it's a pretty good find. I've got the cash for it," Elijah said, taking out his wallet. "How long will it be until it's ready?"


Update 32
Spoiler: show

blu3shift- You couldn't help but feel like Taz was doing a bad job of concealing the value of the broken TM. He likely hoped the $250 price tag to fix it would be enough to push you towards taking up his alternative offer. To your surprise though, your bank account had significantly more in it than when you last checked. You inform Taz that you'd like to have the TM repaired and transfer him the money, his face says what his mouth doesn't, he is pissed. "It'll take a few minutes, be patient."

He stomps out to the back of the shop, leaving you to browse the shop. The shop is suddenly filled with an odd odor, likely Taz melting down whatever he is using to repair the damaged disc. You head over to the bargain bin the store owner had pointed out before, if you had the cash, why not buy some of the bargain TMs while you were at it? Unsurprisingly, most of the TMs are rubbish. A mountain of False Swipe TMs, although they're reasonably priced at $200. You do managed to find a couple of gems though, an Aerial Ace TM marked down to $400 and a Double Team TM for just $500. You weren't exactly privy to the normal prices of these TMs but if they were marked down, that had to mean they were cheap right?

Taz reappears from the back of the shop, repaired TM in hand. He grabs a fresh label out from under the counter, fixing it over the old one. "There you go, a TM Zap Cannon. A lucky find kid, now is there anything else, it is time for my lunch break." Taz is all but ushering you out of the store, if you wanted to make anymore purchases, you'd have to do so quickly before moving on.


Reply 32
Spoiler: show
As Taz went to the back of the store, Elijah looked towards the bargain bin. Maybe it was worth a look while he was waiting? It wouldn't hurt, especially if he found a deal too good to pass up.

The bargain bin was, well, exactly what Elijah imagined that a bargain bin in a TM store would look like. He wasn't sure what the value of these moves were, but judging by the sheer abundance of some of them, they were probably there for a reason. There were a few things that stuck out to him, though: False Swipe for $200, Aerial Ace for $400, and Double Team for $500. Something told him that they were absolute steals that he probably wouldn't be able to find again. In fact—

"There you go, a TM Zap Cannon."

It sounded like Taz was done. Peeling himself from the bargain bin, Elijah walked up to the counter to collect his TM. The yellow disc on the table reflected the store's ambient light beautifully, almost like the TM itself was glowing. He could practically tell how powerful it was from a distance. Why would anyone throw something like that away?

"A lucky find, kid, now is there anything else? It's time for my lunch break."

Correction: Taz wasn't just done, he was done. The sheer irritation that underscored his voice all but told Elijah that if he stayed in the store any longer he'd probably have security called on him for being a public nuisance. As much as he wanted to take advantage of the bargain bin, it was in his best interest to hightail it out of there before he started infuriating the man in the counter even more than he was already. Grabbing the restored TM with an apologetic "thanks" and storing it away, he left the store just a little bit more on edge than he was when he walked in.

So, where to next? Elijah looked over his notes from earlier. He didn't want to take on something with too much manual labor, his arms still feeling sore from all of the cleanup work from yesterday, so that ruled out the Foundry. There was no way that he'd be exposing himself to anything dangerous, which meant that the test subject thing and Sunder Island were also out of the question. That left the survey job at Cape Effervescence, which sounded exactly like what he needed—a way to take in the sights without completely wrecking himself in front of a gang or something. He was probably at a disadvantage due to his general lack of Pokémon knowledge, but he could probably do a little brushing up on the way there.

Turning to find the nearest subway station (there was bound to be one in an area this dense), Elijah started down the street, transport card in hand.


Update 33 (Transition to Cape Effervescence)
Spoiler: show
BluShift

With your Transport Card in hand, you set out to look for the subway to take a ride to Cape Effervescence. Fortunately, this didn't actually take you very long as you came across a City Map posted upon a billboard and you easily located where you were and where you needed to go.

Not much after you found the map, you soon found yourself within the Central Station, one of NFC's largest subway stations spanning the whole region itself. Despite being as old as the City itself it didn't look to be, Polished and clean floors, Large Archways that support the whole section, and pretty fast-moving ticket lines to the appropriate stations.
You took a small glance at the signs above the ticket lines to see which one you needed and then stepped into line. After presenting your transport card to the Rotomi dispenser, it printed a ticket for you and you passed through the rotating barrier to the Cape Effervescence Station.

The train didn't take very long to pull up to the station, opening up its doors and allowing instream of boarding passengers and an outstream of exiting passengers. Looking around as you boarded, the Train was relatively clean and even smelt pretty nice, although it did have a pretty notable scent of sea salt and sand.
Within two minutes the Train got back up and started to move back out of the station, starting out slow but then building up into a pretty nice speed.
Once the train left the tunnel you could look outside and watch the City grow small in the distance, and watch the ocean and bay grow larger as you approached it.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The train started to slow down as it pulled into the above-ground station at Cape Effervescence, an electronic voice came upon the intercom thanking the passengers for choosing Central Station and to have all exiting members leave from the doors in the front of the train and wished everyone a wonderful day.

As you left the station you heard a woman's voice let out a stream of profanities, and you looked for the source of it.
The source of the foul-mouthed profanity came from a woman in a white lab coat bent over an opened suitcase with a bunch of paperwork spilling out across the ground along with vial casings, While a Zorua giggled mischievously along with a Gengar.

She looked up and started to direct her attention to what appeared to be her two pokemon, "PENUMBRA, AKUMA! HOW DARE YOU TWO LITTLE SH~" Her next words were cut off abruptly as she gathered herself for a moment and then sighed exasperatedly.

What would you like to do next?


Reply 33
Spoiler: show
Elijah felt like he was in a different city entirely as the train pulled into the station at Cape Effervescence. Gone were the dimly lit tunnels of the densely-interwoven subways of downtown New Fizz, replaced with a breathtaking view of the sea beyond. Bubbling waves from the endless silken fabric of the deep blue ocean crashed against the walls of the harbor in the distance while numerous tourists and fishermen crowded around a hut in the sand below. The sand and surf provided a perfect backdrop for what was a new beginning for Elijah. This didn't mean that his purpose for arriving at the cape was lost on him, however. All he had to do was find the researcher who had posted the ad—

"PENUMBRA, AKUMA! HOW DARE YOU TWO LITTLE SH—"

Elijah had descended the steps leading out of the station to find a dark-skinned woman in a lab coat fumbling with her Pokémon, papers and lab materials spread out all over the pavement around her. Any air of professionalism around her was quickly cast aside as she sighed in exasperation, her colorful language indicating that she wasn't exactly having the best of days at the moment. It was totally understandable; the sheer amount of work that Elijah was doing yesterday made him feel the same way. He would have thrown in the towel on the spot if it wasn't for the promise of not having to blow his entire bank account on a hotel room afterwards.

Anyway, this seemed to be the person that he was looking for—"Krelia," if he recalled correctly. He approached the woman with an apologetic yet curious expression on his face, obviously a little troubled over walking in on her dealing with a couple of rowdy Pokémon.

"You, uh, don't happen to be the one that posted the ad in the paper yesterday, are you? I heard that you needed help with a species survey."


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BluShift

Krelia nodded and quickly gathered up her paperwork and vials and shoved them back into the suitcase.
Then she sent a dirty look that seemed to express to her Pokémon to behave or else!, and after that look she dusted her coat off and redid her hair bun, temporarily letting her long mahogany hair loose while she combed it out with her fingers and then tied it back up into a tight bun.

"Indeed I am, Quite Surprised to see my Help Request to be answered so quickly, that I haven't even gotten all of my stuff properly set up at the Cape.
You see I just got here yesterday and well, New Fizz City is rather huge when you're new. I had all sorts of trouble at the offices, I proposed to do two things, the city officials want simple survey documentation of how the pokemon species that are in the bay are doing, meanwhile, I wanted to get permission to gather DNA samples of these said Pokémon to aid in a personal project I am in the midst of working on."

Krelia then extended her hand out to you, " So, what's your name? I also want to let you know that I currently Do Not have your reward ready for you once you help me finish this survey, simply because my package that was sent by my brother from home has gotten lost along the way and the Mail Carrier system hasn't recovered the package yet."

As she spoke to you, her Gengar shifted upon its feet and then began to stare rather... oddly at you from Krelia's left side, while her Zorua stared from the gap between her legs, looking up at you with a genuine curiosity


Reply 34
Spoiler: show
Huh, she's new here, too? Guess the presses work fast around here, Elijah thought as he shook Krelia's hand. The look that her Pokémon gave him (he wasn't sure if it was Penumbra or Akuma) sent a really vague chill down his spine, but he ignored it. He had to stay professional talking to someone as a potential volunteer.

"Name's Elijah. I just got here yesterday, too—you wouldn't believe what I had to go through just to get a roof over my head last night."

Okay, mostly professional.

So, what was the deal again? Take count of the Pokémon in the bay? That didn't sound hard. Sure, he probably couldn't name everything in the National Dex and he'd have to walk for a really long time, but it was a walk in the park compared to... yesterday's walk in the park. He'd be able to fill out that Pokédex and learn something in the process too, which seemed like a pretty important thing to do as a Trainer. Elijah briefly considered getting a head start by taking out his Pokédex to figure out what the one next to her Zorua staring at him was, but decided against it—that was also bad form.

Speaking of staring, Epoch had taken interest in the two Pokémon, eyes pointed directly in between them. Elijah didn't question it; at this point, anything went with that Porygon. That thing was more of an enigma than anything else in his life, and that was saying something. Thankfully, his Fomantis (which he still had to come up with a name for) wasn't acting out of line: she had impressively stayed perched on his shoulder the entire time, soaking in the sunlight that covered Cape Effervescence.

...Anyway, a deal's a deal. This definitely wouldn't hurt him...

"I'll take you up on the job. What do you need from me?"

...Hopefully.


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BluShift



Noticing your eyes and your shiver, Krelia looked to her side and gave the Gengar a slight smack on the head,
"Akuma, Behave. I swear you and Penumbra are little devils"
Turning back to you she clasped her hands together and you saw happiness well up in her eyes as she began to speak about what she, and in turn, you would be doing here within the Cape.

" To put it simply I need someone to manually write down, input, and take pictures of the Pokémon along with DNA samples of said Pokémon of the area with me. We have to log out the data on paper for the City I will log the data I need in this handy device-

Krelia reached within her lab coat and pulled what looked to be a modified SilphCo. SilphScope and a few unusual discs.

" I took and made this from an old broken SilphScope of mine from back then and modified it to act as a scanner and load data onto these discs. Now I know we have apps for these things on rotomi phones and printers etc. etc. But get this. My~ device- Krelia did a little dance as she said this

"My device can log information for us underwater and allows us to actually work underwater at our leisure, with the disc's being waterproof. So in short we are going to be exploring the coastline with the rockpools, then we will be taking a submarine ride down to the bottom of the bay where you and I will set out with another scuba diver Instructor to research the Pokémon underwater

Now you won't actually have to worry much about battling nor really doing strenuous work, because I've got loads of Pokeblocks and poffins that we will be using to lure in the Pokémon and to allow us to safely get close. IF we encounter trouble, Akuma here will be following us underwater outside of his Pokeball. But Penumbra will be here above land allowing us to cast illusions for us to escape. If all else fails I have borrowed a few Pokémon from my brother that will allow for us to combat the pokemon on land and under the bay."

As Krelia talks, explaining things to you Penumbra the Zorua comes out from in between her legs to sniff you, and Akuma the Gengar decided he was no longer interested within you and started to get into a staring contest with "Epoch"

It sounds like she took a lot of things into account and made sure that her help would be able to help her regardless of their previous experiences.


Reply 35
Spoiler: show
Okay, so the big purple one is Akuma, and the Zorua is Penumbra. Good to know, I guess, Elijah thought as Krelia reprimanded her Pokémon. Getting their names down was far from the most important thing at the moment, but if he was in a pickle then knowing which one was which would help a bunch. He watched as Krelia turned back to him to explain what she needed him to do.

"To put it simply, I need someone to manually write down, input, and take pictures of the Pokémon along with DNA samples of said Pokémon of the area with me," she started, aptly rattling off her expectations for Elijah. He wasn't sure about the "DNA samples" part, but the rest seemed like something that was completely within his ballpark. It wasn't like there was a catch or anything, right?

Elijah was instantly proven wrong when Krelia pulled some wacky goggley thing out from under her lab coat. "I took and made this from an old broken Silph Scope of mine from back then and modified it to act as a scanner and load data onto these discs..." She explained as she danced excitedly in place. What the hell was this woman talking about?! A "Silph Scope"? "Rotom Phones"? Printers?! Krelia's technobabble made Elijah's head spin at a million miles per hour as he struggled to comprehend what exactly "her device" did in the first place. Her voice became nothing but noise as he stared at the gizmo and back at her, almost missing her mentioning something about researching Pokémon underwater wait what?!

Yeah. Scuba diving. Swimming. Underwater. He could totally handle it. It wasn't like he didn't know how to swim or anything.

Arceus help me, I'm about to take my first swimming lesson today, Elijah's intrusive thoughts echoed as he silently considered whether he made the right choice coming here. Maybe being endlessly tested on, or being exposed to a whole bunch of fallout, or fixing things up at the Foundry wouldn't have been as dangerous as whatever he had just walked into. But whatever, he was beyond the point of no return, and he probably should have seen this coming considering that he was at the beach and all. He'd have to fake it until he made it.

Krelia went on to mention something about how her Pokémon would assist the researching duo in case things got hairy, but Elijah didn't care; his attention was almost entirely devoted to steeling his nerves in preparation for literally diving into the unknown. This was also going to be a long day.

"U-uh, sure thing, when do we get started?" Elijah asked Krelia, covering up his nervous demeanor as Akuma and Epoch stared at each other intently.


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BluShift


Krelia smiled and tucked her Silph Scope away, and picked up her suitcase and started walking to the direction of the shoreside restaurants and food joints.

"We will start in about an hour from now, I was going to go grab some food and then scout out the rock pools. Are you hungry?
I've already budgeted more than enough money to feed myself and anyone else and pay for the scuba suits too!
We have sometime before we need to start diving into the bay, which I was going to spend prepping and then studying the pokemon along the shoreline

Krelia started to walk further and further away from you, kind of forcing you to follow, but Penumbra and Akuma had no difficulty tagging behind their trainer, in fact, Akuma seemed to be quite literally _tied_ to Krelia's shadow... How odd. You wondered why that would be. But you really couldn't afford to dally on it at the moment. Taking a big breath and gulping down the nervousness you felt, you followed Krelia as she started to browse items on a menu at one of the local joints, A food truck.

" You don't have to be afraid of not knowing how to swim ya know~

Krelia startled you by practically reading your mind, how she was able to do this, you don't know... Maybe perhaps you were too visibly nervous about the thought of diving for the first time ever in your life...

" I have hired a local friend of mine to help out whoever my assistance turned out to be, in terms of being a diving buddy. You see I can already swim pretty adaptively and back home used to be known for being glued to the water. But I didn't know if the person who would answer my Help Request, would be able to swim or dive on their own or not so I took a two pidgey with one geodude situation and hired my Subnautican friend who already teaches diving lessons."

Man, this woman really did think a lot of things through...


Reply 36
Spoiler: show
Now that Krelia mentioned it, Elijah was feeling kind of hungry. He hadn't had anything to eat since last night, and even then all he had was a throwaway pastry funded by a supposedly miserable parks & recreation budget. That wouldn't have nearly been enough to get him through all of the research that he was about to do, much less somehow manage to make it through whatever this scuba diving thing was without suffocating. That part still scared the living daylights out of him, but he couldn't just walk back on his own commitment. Vaguely reluctant, he followed Krelia towards a nearby street, hoping that his nerves wouldn't get the best of him.

While Krelia led the way, Elijah wasn't deterred from fixing up any loose ends, however. Akuma still kind of mystified him—what was that Pokémon? He recalled seeing it before, but its name eluded him. Figuring that he'd be able to sneak a quick scan in while nobody was looking, he fired up his Pokédex and pointed it at the purple figure moving alongside the researcher.

A Gengar, huh? Elijah was surprised that he hadn't recognized it earlier, considering how much he kept hearing the name being thrown around by practically every Trainer he'd ever met. It seemed to track, too; Akuma was practically attached to Krelia's shadow, just like the Pokédex entry implied. He once again made a mental note to really get those foreign Pokémon down whenever he had the time; if he recalled correctly, he'd be running into Pokémon from every known region here. That part would definitely come later; by the time that he looked back up, Krelia was already at a food truck. He couldn't quite make out just what it sold, but he'd be happy eating anything right now.

He was just about to speak up when Krelia mentioned his inability to swim. How the hell did she figure that one out? Elijah had gone to great measures to remain professional throughout this entire ordeal and she still managed to read him like a book. Did she have any Psychic types on her team, hidden somewhere where he couldn't see them? Was she psychic?! Maybe he just tried too hard to act like nothing was wrong and looked suspicious anyway, but considering his Fizzytopian track record so far, he wouldn't be surprised if she managed to pull a fast one on him; this place was full of surprises.

Nevertheless, Elijah still had a stomach to satisfy—maybe even three, he didn't really know if Porygons or Fomantises actually ate anything or if they just... absorbed energy or whatever. Awkwardly dodging Krelia's explanation, he tried to shift the topic to the food truck.

"Uh-huh... did you say that you had enough money to cover my lunch?"


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BluShift


"Of course I did, I have more than enough. What kind of person takes a trip out into an area and doesn't plan out their meals or money?"
Krelia stopped a food truck that seemed to catch her attention, mostly Asian food with this truck. Krelia was absorbed in the menu and was debating internally if she was feeling this for lunch.

Noticing you being a bit lost on the matter, Krelia turned back to you and pulled out her wallet, taking out several bills and putting it into your hands
"Here, go find something that you want to eat, and I made sure that there's enough for you to get a full meal and then some. That includes food for your Porygon and Fomantis... if they want to eat that is"
She then pointed over to the walkway overlooking the bay where several benches and tables were set up for the public " When you've gotten your food, or are finished eating, I will be over there, and take as much time as you want. I'm in no rush to get this job done."

Krelia then reached down to the ground and picked up Penumbra who was suspiciously smirking while lifting his rear leg to disrespect the food truck owner and then took him to a different place to do his business without causing trouble. Effectively giving you some space from both her and her pokemon so you could gather your thoughts and decide what you wanted to get to eat. Doing a quick rundown of what the average full-sized meal cost at the food truck you were currently standing in front of, and then the money she gave you, she indeed gave you enough, in fact, she gave you enough to buy three full-sized meals if you were to assume that all the trucks and stands had about the same priced food ranges.


Reply 37
Spoiler: show
Somehow, Krelia's bold statement seemed hypocritical. When Elijah took the money, he noticed her eyeing the menu on the food truck that they were standing next to, engrossed in it like she didn't really know what she wanted. He didn't really say anything, though; she probably didn't want to be put on the spot for it like he was with his very lackluster survival skills. For now, it was time for lunch, and he had just about enough to grab three meals for his entire team if he wanted to—the only question was if they wanted to. He turned to Epoch while trying to keep the Fomantis on his shoulder in view.

"So... are any of you hungry?"

No response. Epoch just kind of floated there like they always did and the Fomantis was asleep, soaking in the sunlight. Silently wondering if there was a "quietest team" award, Elijah looked up and down the street to see what he coul