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Old 05-26-2022, 07:14 PM   #776
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Everything was coming together nicely. Cotton had no objections to the Chimecho's Mystical Fire being used to help with the cooking of the patties, and indeed seemed to enjoy the ensuing aroma. Together, Cotton, Laura, and Isabelle made quick work of the preparations... mostly. Isabelle pointed out that the bacon was all that was left, and subsequently asked where Shelley was. "Ah, she's probably still up in the game room with Vinny," said Cotton. "I'll go and get her down here-"

"No need," came Amy's voice. Cotton turned to face the doorway, to see the Appletun returning with a Torkoal in tow. "I went and got her when you guys were preparing everything else," the Apple Nectar Pokémon explained.

"Sweet, thanks, Ame," grinned Cotton. "Shelley, you know what to do, yeah?"

The Torkoal nodded mutely, making her way over to a cabinet and pulling out a frying pan from within via Psychic, setting it down atop her own shell. Using Psychic himself, Cotton sent the bacon her way, and the Torkoal took over at once, setting the bacon down in the pan, heating up her shell, and emitting puffs of White Smoke that redirected themselves seemingly by magic so as to fly into the pan and envelop the bacon. It wasn't long before the heavenly aroma of frying bacon began to make its way through the house.

"I don't know what it is," Cotton was saying to the guests. "Somehow, some way, Hermione learned that Torkoal smoke works wonders for the taste of bacon, and so Shelley here's been helping us out every time we're eating something that calls for it, and it's freaking delicious." Shelley said noting, but smiled and blushed at the praise as she continued to work her culinary magic with the bacon.

~~~~~

Amamu confirmed that while Basculin were great aquatic predators, they were not invincible. This got Pisces thinking about the numerous aquatic enemies who had bested her before. The Kingler from that day at the beach- Dudley had to evolve into Slowbro to save her. The Crawdaunt who evolved from Corphish just before Pisces could make an extremely crunchy snack of him. And now that she thought of it, she really was extremely fortunate Willa's Gyarados considered her a friend when the fact of the matter was he could swallow her whole if he was so inclined. She blinked at the mention of one of the names Amamu had said. "Overwhat?" she muttered, glancing over at some of her spikier teammates. "Wait, so you're saying Qwilfish can evolve?" she inquired. "That's... that's news all around, I think," she murmured. Once Amamu had finished, stating that she was glad that Pisces had never had to endure such hardship, the Blue-Striped Basculin was momentarily at a loss for words. "That's... I... I mean, thanks, Amamu," Pisces managed to say. "I just... Man. It never really dawned on me before, but we... we Basculin ain't as high up on the food chain as I always thought, are we?" She gave a small, sad chuckle at this. "You gave me a lot to think about, for sure," she said, with a small grin directed to the White-Striped Basculin. "Wanna meet some of the others?" offered Pisces, gesturing with her fin to the other Pokémon elsewhere in the pool. "You ain't gotta worry about them, before you say anything- out of all of us, I'm the one best known for eating first and asking questions later, and well," she trailed off chuckling. "You're safe in here, is my point."

Clarisse seemed shocked to learn what Cursola's parents were, explaining that her understanding was that the typical relationship between Toxapex and Normal Form Corsola tended to be that of predator and prey. "Mom says that a lot of Toxapex think that way, and she doesn't like it at all," confirmed Cursola. "She does like how coral tastes, but she's firmly against hurting Corsola to get it. She prefers to eat Corsola coral that's broken off naturally." The Ursaring then explained that she evolved in the distortion on Springtide Isle, explaining that she was filled with some sort of wild energy in the process that she believed made her get to such a size. Then, to drive home the point about her sharper senses, she revealed that dinner tonight was bacon cheeseburgers. "Ooh, yum!" smiled Cursola. "Springtide Isle, though? Mom's from there!" he added.

~~~~~

"Oh, I'm sure you'll meet Winter if you stick around long enough," said Artemis. "He's a shy one, but quite friendly." The Cryogonal then went on to explain the less than ideal circumstances under which Catharine caught them, holding back on much of the specifics.

"That sounds rough," remarked Decidueye. "I'm glad your Catharine was able to help you out of that situation."

~~~~~

Vinny heard Fortuna out patiently, only looking away when Amy had shown up to escort Shelley downstairs (the Camerupt, well aware of Shelley's culinary prowess by now, had no objections, to put it mildly). Fortuna was quite OK with the fact that Vinny had no concrete information to provide, and maintained that anything was better than nothing- indeed, it wasn't all that well-known that Ghetsis was at large once more. And the Carbink was quite anxious about the prospect of Team Plasma escalating their already lofty goals even further. Vinny shook his head gravely at the mention of the notion of Ghetsis forcibly reforming the Original Dragon of Unovan legend. "That would indeed be disastrous," he agreed. "Fortunately, we find ourselves in the position to at least ascertain the whereabouts and well-being of Reshiram. It's only one of the three, but to reform the Original Dragon would demand nothing less than a complete set, so to speak. I apologize if my speculation has caused youse any undue stress," he added. "When I am able to come up with anything more definitive, I will ensure the news reaches youse."

~~~~~

In the Battle Room, Catharine was greeted by numerous people and Pokémon, with Chip's boundless energy reminding her of her Boltund. She was happy to accept the dinner invitation, stating that if Cotton was already doing the cooking, Laura and Isabelle probably already volunteered to help. She helpfully identified Isabelle as her Chimecho, though the mention of Laura still came without an explanation. "Laura is her Normal Form Farfetch'd," Eddie supplied once Catharine had gone to the PC. "And Gigabite is her Boltund. As for Earthquake, though, I'm not certain, she didn't send out anyone answering to that name. Oh, by the way, Keith, Amy evolved," he added.

"She wha- ah, she found the Sweet Apple," Keith chuckled as he facepalmed.

"Yeah, I'll take the blame for that one," Peeves said somewhat sheepishly. "Reached for a Snoverberry, thought I grabbed a big one."

"Nah, if anything, Peeves, I probably should've told you I'd hidden the Sweet Apple in there."

"Why not just hide it in the fridge, Dad?" asked Maribel. "Amy doesn't like the cold, so surely that would've worked?"

"...I actually did try that at one point," Keith admitted. "It worked right until I happened to catch Amy in the act of unplugging the fridge."

"Oh, my," Willa chortled. "She was determined, wasn't she?"

"It was like trying to keep that Fire Stone away from Leo all over again," Keith chuckled. "Well, I, uh, guess I got an Appletun now," he shrugged.

"Er, Keith?" said Eddie. "I, uh, feel like I can safely assume as much, but I feel the need to ask all the same-"

"Ed, of course you're invited for dinner, too," Keith smiled. "The more the merrier, you know that."
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Old 05-26-2022, 11:21 PM   #777
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No sooner had Isabelle asked after Shelley did Amy return to the kitchen with the Torkoal herself in tow, and Shelley quickly got to work on frying up the bacon, while Cotton explained that Torkoal's White Smoke added a wonderful flavor to it. From the looks on both of Laura and Isabelle's faces, they were smelling that unique flavor already, and couldn't agree more.

"Oh, I bet." Laura replied, divvying up her chopped Berries into appropriate portion sizes. "I wonder if any other Pokémon with the White Smoke Ability can pull off something similar? I know the Centiskorch family can have it, and then I think it's a rare Ability in Heatmor?" she mused aloud. As she did so, Isabelle busied herself taking the bacon off the pan by way of Psychic when it was done, and putting more on. And when, at last, everything was cooked and ready, she moved out into the hallway, sounding off her bell with the utmost enthusiasm.

"Everyone! DINNER'S ON!" she called, loud enough to be heard throughout the house.

At the poolside, Clarisse listened with interest as Cursola explained that while many Toxapex did feed on Corsola, her mother didn't particularly subscribe to that mentality, preferring instead to eat Corsola branches that were already detached-that way, she wasn't causing harm to any Corsola for a snack.

"I suppose that's one way to go about it. Your mother must be very kind." Clarisse admitted. At the mention that Cursola's mother was from Springtide Isle herself, though, Clarisse grinned. "That's pretty neat! Though, the island was scarcely recognizable in the midst of the distortion. A lot of the biomes were all twisted together, from what I heard, to resemble locations from Hisui itself. Where Catharine and I were, the beaches and the Market there got turned into this wild coastland with some rocky cliffs-a fair number of boats got caught up in it all and stuck on the sand, and I actually evolved while trying to help push one back to the water. We ended up finding Amamu's Egg just next to a river on top of the cliffs. The distortion faded not long after, though, so I can't say much more about the other parts of the island." she explained.

Meanwhile, in the pool, Amamu could tell that Pisces was deep in thought about something-and given her admission that she was starting to see that she wasn't quite so invincible as she once thought, Anamu figured she had been ruminating on some prior brushes with danger. "That feeling of being invincible, at the top of the food chain, was one of the harder things for us to let go of. Many didn't make it because they felt it wasn't the Basculin way to turn tail from a challenge." Amamu said. However, what really got her attention was Pisces' surprise at the mention of the name Overqwil. Apparently, Pisces wasn't entirely apprised of the fact that Qwilfish evolved. "Going by your words, I'm guessing there's a different variant of Qwilfish about, too...well, I can't speak for them, but the one in the pool with us now, definitely can evolve-though not too much changes. Their body gets a little bigger, but their spines get absolutely massive. Longer than me, some of them! And as silly as it might look in your head, Overqwil are masters at using them. They have to be in order to evolve, after all." Amamu explained. At Pisces' invitation to go over and meet, some of the others, though, Amamu's response was cut off by the sound of Isabelle's bell ringing. Clarisse perked up at the sound.

"That's the dinner bell, Amamu! Bring your new friend, we're going to go eat!" the Ursaring called, getting to her feet.

"Um, we can bring the others with us, right? I would like to meet them, still." Amamu asked.

Upstairs in the Game Room, Fortuna was put at some ease at Vinny's reassurance that, at least for the time being, the location and continued safety of Reshiram could be confirmed. Though, at his apology, Fortuna shook her head.

"No, no need to apologize on my account. It is best that I not grow complacent. Reshiram's safety is guaranteed for now, but if Team Plasma is becoming active again, that cannot be taken for granted. I will keep a listening ear out for any updates on your end-once again, I thank you for your assistance." Fortuna said. Just then, the sound of Isabelle's bell rang from downstairs, and Fortuna perked up. "That would be Isabelle, telling us dinner is ready. Shall I meet you at the table?" Fortuna asked as she made for the door.

In the Library, conversation had mostly begun to slow down by the time the dinner bell rang, and as such, Bergeron was just finishing up their choice of book when the call came loud and clear-dinner was ready.

"Well, what wondrous timing! I need only look for another Cryogonal at the dinner table!" Bergeron said, as they closed their erstwhile read and placed it back on the shelf, before holding the door open for the Grass-type couple. "After you." they offered.

In the Battle Room, Catharine lightly facepalmed as Eddie was made to introduce a few of her Pokémon for her.

"Ah, my bad. Earthquake is my Larvitar. Generally, the two things that motivate him are food, and a worthy opponent. He'll hardly budge for much else if you don't ask him to." Catharine explained. "And Gigabyte is my Boltund, as Eddie said. He, on the other hand, can hardly sit still except to eat, and given that he evolved on the way here, I'm going to have to raise the house's breakable item event horizon a few feet when I get home." she added. That was about when Eddie mentioned that Amy had found her Sweet Apple and evolved. When Peeves came forward to admit that it was his mistake that brought it out into the open, Maribel asked why Keith hadn't hidden the apple in the refrigerator, since Amy didn't like the cold-to which Keith replied that he had tried that, and had narrowly averted her plan to unplug the refrigerator to get to it.

"Oh dear, she really does sound like Earthquake going after potting soil-nutrient-rich dirt is his favorite thing to eat, so when I buy the bags, I have to keep them padlocked-he'll absolutely raid it when I'm not looking otherwise, and I learned fast that he'll cut the lock with Fire Fang if he can reach it. It's just until he evolves, but still-I can't be buying it on a daily basis." Catharine said, with a sheepish grin.

No sooner had Keith officialized his dinner invitation to Eddie as well did the sound of Isabelle's ringing sound off from downstairs.

"And not a moment too soon! It sounds like they're ready for us down there. Let me get these two out before we head down." Catharine said, releasing Earthquake and Gigabyte, facing her. "Alright, you two, we've been invited to dinner as guests, so I want you two on your best behavior. Gigabyte, inside paws, don't get too rambunctious. And Earthquake, there'll be plenty of food, so no eating out of the plant pots! Get to know some of the other Pokémon, make a friend or two at the table." she instructed each Pokemon. Once both gave an acknowledgment in the affirmative, she turned back to the rest of the group. "Alright-let's eat!" she said, making for the stairs.
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Old 05-27-2022, 05:55 PM   #778
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Laura was willing to believe what Cotton had said about Shelley's smoke affecting the bacon's flavor- indeed, she and Isabelle seemed to like what they were smelling from that already. The Farfetch'd speculated whether anything else with White Smoke might have similar capabilities. "Good question, though I dunno if we'll get to try it out anytime soon," shrugged Cotton. "The family's run-ins with Centiskorch thus far haven't exactly been the most positive ones, so I dunno how likely any of them are to catch one. And Keith does have a Heatmor, though Kyle has Flash Fire."

Following this, Isabelle floated into the hallway and rang loudly, making it very unambiguously clear that dinner was on.

~~~~~

Cursola listened with interest as Clarisse explained about how the distortion warped Springtide Isle. "Oh, wow, that's interesting," murmured Cursola. "I take it the island returned to normal when the distortion faded away, though, right?" he asked.

Pisces listened as Amamu stated that that feeling of invincibility was especially hard to let go of, that the downfall of many Basculin was feeling it wasn't the Basculin way to turn tail from a challenge. That resonated with Pisces- how many times had she gone for the tougher prey first for the sheer challenge of it? Amamu then explained that at the very least, the variant of Qwilfish she was familiar with were capable of evolution, an evolution that mainly meant longer spikes. "So that means Tetro can evolve at the very least," murmured Pisces. "I wonder if both kinds can evolve- Hebenon's already one of the strongest Pokémon on the team, so it's pretty insane to think that he might be able to evolve." Then, when the dinner bell was rung, Clarisse told Amamu it was time to eat, at which the White-Striped Basculin asked if they could bring the others, wanting to meet them. "Oh, that ain't a problem," chuckled Pisces. "More likely one of them will end up bringing us instead. Hebenon, the Qwilfish I mentioned? Dude can use Teleport, he often brings his fellow fish into the dining room with it."

As if on cue, the Normal Form Qwilfish came swimming over, his son and daughter not far behind. "Oh- Pisces, who's your friend?" he asked.

"Hey, Heb. This here's Amamu, her Trainer's visiting," said Pisces. "Can we get a lift to the dining room?"

"Certainly," nodded Hebenon. "My name's Hebenon, Amamu, nice to meet you, and this is my son, Brighton, and my daughter, Tetro," he added, indicating the Lanturn and the Hisuian Qwilfish in turn.

"Hi, Amamu!" Brighton smiled.

"Heya," added Tetro. "Dad, can I challenge her to a battle after we eat?" she asked her father.

"Only if you agree to respect her answer, even if it's no," Hebenon said firmly.

"...Fair enough," nodded Tetro.

~~~~~~

Fortuna insisted there was no need to apologize, maintaining that it was best to not grow complacent, just as the dinner bell rang. She explained to Vinny what Isabelle's shouting had already made evident, and asked if she would meet him at the table. "But of course," nodded Vinny. "No sense in keeping them waiting, now," he added, beginning to make his way for the door- the Scrafty and Barbaracle had long since finished their game of pool and had headed downstairs as well.

~~~~~

In the library, the conversation had mostly died down by the time the dinner bell rang, and so Bergeron held the door open for the Grass-type couple. "Thank you," nodded Decidueye.

"Yes, thank you," agreed Artemis, as the Grass-types headed out the door.

~~~~~

Catharine was quick to explain that Earthquake was her Larvitar, whose only real motivators were food and a worthy opponent. "Ooh," Maribel murmured, her interest piqued by the mention of Larvitar.

In the meantime, Keith's description of the lengths Amy would go to to get the Sweet Apple really did remind Catharine of her Larvitar, as she described how Earthquake would go after potting soil, his favorite food. She had to keep the bags of the stuff padlocked, and even then, the padlocks had to be out of the Larvitar's reach, or else they would get cut via Fire Fang. "Haha, wow," Keith chuckled. "Earthquake does sound like a handful."

"Dear, don't forget, Terri and Laugh should be on their way," Willa reminded Keith as they all headed downstairs.

"Ah, right," Keith nodded. "We invited some friends of ours to eat with us as well," he explained to Catharine. "They should be here fairly soon- they live right here in town. And if Terri brings who I think she'll be bringing, we, ah, we'll be hearing them arrive," he chuckled.

Meanwhile, Meowth and Meowstic had caught up to the group. "Hey, ya didn't forget about us, did ya?" Meowth spoke up.

Keith chuckled. "Hard to forget you, Meowth," he retorted with a grin. "Catharine, this is Meowth."

"And Meowstic," Willa chimed in.

"Pleased to meet you," Meowstic said softly.

"Yeah, nice ta meet youse," Meowth purred.

Maribel, meanwhile, seemed very interested at the sight of Earthquake, and took out her Rotom Phone.

"Larvitar, the Rock Skin Pokémon. A Rock and Ground-type," said Rotom. "Larvitar hatches underground and eats an entire mountai- what- that little- an entire- I can only assume this isn't all at once!" Rotom declared.

"Rotom, be nice," Maribel admonished the possessed device. "Besides, it can't be all at once- Larvitar evolve once they eat a mountain's worth of soil, right?" she asked Catharine. "I always wanted a Tyranitar, so I've been reading up on its evolutionary family," she explained with a smile.
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Old 07-21-2022, 04:50 PM   #779
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I saw the noon sky, look at the snow melt. I left most of my baggage up in a hotel.

While the Masterses and their Pokémon speak with Terri and her crew, Garl lowers his head so that Ysayle can give him the approximation of a hug with her flippers.

"Good to see you, Garl," Ysayle chirps, as Garl regards her with concern.

"Noice face? Is everything okay?"

"Oh, yes! I'm perfectly fine. We were about to have din- uh," Ysayle stops herself, looking quickly in Terri's direction. She didn't exactly want to saddle her new friends with feeding a Tyrantrum...

"Oh, I already ate! Miss Bia says it's rude to send a hungry dinosaur to other people's houses."

"Wise words..." Ysayle remarks.

"Will you and Astrophel be ready to come home after your meal? I can take a nap while I wait!"

"Wait, no, Garl... Astrophel is at the Pokémon Center right now. I don't think that -"

Before Ysayle can even finish her thought, Garl has already lowered himself (gently, so as not to hurt his rider), and has fallen immediately and comfortably asleep, in a position such that Willa can easily dismount.

Ysayle rolls her eyes. "Oh, no... He's not going to wake up until morning..." She looks to the Scolipede and Bouffalant.

"I'm sorry... But is it okay if my friend sleeps here for the night? He's used to sleeping outside, but he's really only active during the day, and it's gonna be hard to wake him before dawn..."


---

A few days after the events of the Casino New Year's Gala...

Sunny skies and calm seas made it a perfect day for water travel, and while Naim the Wailmer was more than happy to ferry his teammates through any weather, a day like this made such a request particularly pleasant. With his trademark baleen grin, he lowers himself at the Sludge Wave docks, allowing the Teddiursa known as Sela to dismount. A pile of gifts, with Alsie underneath, also slowly but surely makes its way to solid ground, the Mudbray carrying the load with the species' natural talent for transporting heavy burdens. Sela rests a paw on her Mudbray friend's side, the pair giving each other sweet smiles as they walk together. With a big belly flop, Naim, too, lands on shore - only, of course, once the land is cleared of his friends, so as not to accidentally squish them.

Following the whale, a skiff arrives at the docks, rowed by none other than the gentleman Bedivere, dressed in fresh, dapper finery, accompanied by Leith the Shadow Sandygast. She seems to still be wearing the bow that the Casino had placed on her, though it appears a bit frayed at the edges, now. Gracefully hopping ashore and tying his skiff to the dock post, Bedivere helps Leith leave the boat with a jolly laugh.

"Ohohohohohohoho, I do so love visiting friends! Perhaps you will be able to have another conversation with Meowth, yes? You did seem to enjoy that..."

Leith nods silently, her eyes scanning the buildings around her with interest. Her gaze then settles on a familiar figure...

"Leith, sweetheart! Ohhhhh, you brought the Predator with you? I've been eager to make his acquaintance after watching him nearly send Oroitz back to the fuckin' Night Mother..."

With an excited whistle, Becky dances her way over, followed closely by a tall, muscular woman of about forty, dark hair slicked back in a tight ponytail, except for a few grey streaks which frame her face. She wears a ratty t-shirt that proudly proclaims "SUCK MY ROCKET" in big, red letters, with a picture of a female Mega Blastoise hydro pumping Team Rocket's Giovanni in the face. Torn jeans, sewn haphazardly with various obscene patches to keep them from falling apart, finished with a pair of dirty, old combat boots. She smells of cheap men's cologne and bitter coffee, with a hint of cinnamon gum. On her shoulder sits a smiling Froakie, who waves at the new faces, while an Alolan Rattata and Nickit peer from behind one of her legs, eyeing Bedivere warily. The presence of five Pokéballs on her studded belt suggest that she's brought one more friend to visit, but said friend seems to be enjoying the comfort of their Luxury Ball for the moment.

"Hm. Becky seems to like you," she comments to Bedivere, with a wry grin. "That can't be good."

"Oh, Miss Rebecca! So good to see you looking as ravishing as ever!" Bedivere grins, bowing to the ladybird, before addressing her trainer. "She and I met before at the Casino, you see..."

"That so..." the woman's smirk widens. "Well, then I know you can't be good, after all I've heard about that absolute trashfire..."

The woman holds a hand out to Bedivere, but before he can bring it to his lips to kiss, she shakes his hand roughly. "Name's Kijo."

"Bedivere. I am ever so pleased to make your acquaintance, Kijo! Ohohohohoho~"

"Yeah, same to you," Kijo chuckles, her voice tinged with gravel. Her eyes travel to Alsie's bundle, and her mouth purses. "Hm, does the King of the Palace expect gifts from his loyal followers r' somethin'? I hope he's not going to be disappointed that I didn't bring shit..."

"Oh, Good Heavens, no!" Bedivere reassures. "This is my custom, and absolutely not required - or even requested - by the Masterses. Please, do not at all feel pressured to bestow gifts as I have. I do this simply of my own accord, because it brings me joy to see the happiness of others! Ohohohohohohoho~"

"Hmph, how noble of you... And what do you expect in return?"

"Nothing at all. Gratitude warms my heart, but I do not expect it, ohohohoho~"

"That's what they all say," Kijo remarks darkly, before approaching the door of the Poisonous Palace and knocking, three times, with more force than probably necessary... Fortunately, unlike the Tyrantrum before her, she doesn't leave any dents. Undeterred, Bedivere merely chuckles to himself, waiting behind her with his own team of Pokémon.
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Old 07-21-2022, 08:40 PM   #780
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Garl and Ysayle reunited, with the Tyrantrum stating that he'd already eaten, to Ysayle's relief. Then, however, to Ysayle's not-relief, Garl fell asleep on the spot, and the Eiscue knew good and well her friend wasn't going to wake up until the morning. Sheepishly she turned to Salazar and Bouffalant, and explained the situation to them, asking if the Tyrantrum could stay the night.

Salazar nodded. "He would be welcome to," the Scolipede reassured the Eiscue.

Bouffalant nodded in agreement. "He made a, ah, forceful first impression," he chimed in. "But we can see he's got a good heart. Besides, I get the feeling Maribel would be practically begging him to stay the night if she could understand the conversation," he added with a chuckle. "She wants a Tyrantrum of her own someday."

Meanwhile, the door to the House of Alph flew open, and a Furret, audibly grumbling, made her way outside. She glanced warily at the newcomers, and opted to zoom right over to Terri, who picked up the Normal-type in her arms as she Coiled gently around the girl, muttering something to her. Terri nodded, then addressed the group at large. "Zoom's just informed me that Perform's berry stew is ready," she said. "He was originally going to come out and inform you all himself, but Zoom didn't want him waking anyone in town up. Already he owes Homer an apology tomorrow," she chuckled. "Everyone, come on. That includes you three as well," she added, smiling at the Masterses. "If you're hungry?"

"Hey, for Perform's berry stew, I'm game," Keith chuckled.

"Indeed, I can hardly pass this up," Willa concurred.

"Yeah! Perform's cooking rocks!" smiled Maribel.

"Come on, then," smiled Terri, leading the others into her humble abode.

"WELCOME, FRIENDS, ONE AND ALL!" Perform's booming voice met their poor, poor ears as soon as they walked in through the door. The Loud Mime was standing in the kitchen doorway, clad in a chef's hat and a vibrant, garish apron emblazoned with the words "KISS THE MIME". He held a ladle in one hand, and his other arm was around the shoulders of Keith's Amped Toxtricity, who grinned and waved at everyone coming in. "DINNER IS... SERVED!" Perform declared, gesturing to lead everyone into the dining room. The table was set, the sheer number of seats and settings indicating that people and Pokémon alike were eating at the table. Terri, her Pokémon, and the Masterses all took their seats- there were sufficient seats left over for Ysayle to choose from. One was between Laugh and Keith; another between Terri and Zoom; the last would put Ysayle squarely between Roxie and a Baltoy.


~~~~~

It was a beautiful day at Sludge Wave Coast, as though the weather itself was warmly greeting the perpetually polite Bedivere. Though it was not he who knocked at the doors, but rather a new acquaintance of his. And very forceful knocking it was, too, but those double doors had seen worse in their day. At first, nothing, but soon, the doors opened up, revealing a Pawniard hovering, the yellow aura surrounding her suggesting the use of Magnet Rise. She was brandishing her blades threateningly at the newcomers. "Identify yourselves!" she snarled.

"Ginny! GINNY!" came a voice from further in the house, as its source came running. "Easy there, Ginny," Keith Masters said. "At ease, OK? We got an old friend here. He turned to smile at the drowned-looking man. "Glad you could make it, Bedivere." Ginny backed off, but still looked wary.

"Wait, what?" came a voice from somewhere nearby- a voice Bedivere might find all too familiar, and indeed, its source phased through the wall separating the entrance hall from the living room, said source being a Dusknoir. "Bedivere, is that you?!" Liliana asked excitedly. "Oh, wow! Keith was saying he met up with you at the Casino the other night, and- and who's your friend?" she added, noticing Kijo.

"I, uh, was just about to ask that myself," Keith admitted. "I don't believe we've met before?" he said to Kijo. "Name's Keith. Keith Masters. Me and Bedivere go way back." He said this, offering a handshake to Kijo.

Meanwhile, a pale purple Jigglypuff with pitch-black void-like eyes materialized out of thin air, Teleporting directly behind the Oricorio without a sound. "Hello, Becky," Lavender said, trademark creepy smile in place.
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Old 07-22-2022, 05:46 PM   #781
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Still trying to define my description, a life with a little spare time for living.

Ysayle bows to both Salazar and Bouffalant, smiling with relief.

"Thank you both," she says gratefully. "He's really quite sweet. There's definitely a reason that Bia keeps him far, far away from my ice sculptures, though..."

At this point, Zoom zooms in to inform everyone that Perform's berry stew is ready, and Ysayle rubs her flippers together, licking her beak with hunger. Though she visibly winces at Perform's loud voice - being without her Ice Face to dampen the sound - she recovers quickly at the delightful scent of fresh stew.

Ysayle does not hesitate to sit beside Laugh - after all, she was the friend who had inspired her visit in the first place. That the "dreaded" Keith Masters would be sitting beside her didn't discourage her one bit - in fact, the Eiscue was eager to get to know him better, and see just how much of Oroitz's ranting and raving was justified. Given how warm (or comfortably, refreshingly chilly, in the Eiscue's case?) her reception was, she had a gut feeling that he would be just as kind and personable as everyone else she had encountered.

Thus, without fear, the Eiscue sits beside Keith, giving Laugh a big grin.

"I'm really excited to try this stew," Ysayle exclaims. "I have to say, though, I'm a bit curious. I know there are a lot of people and Pokemon living here at Sludge Wave Coast, right? It would be a very tall order indeed for Perform to cook for all of them. Who else on the Coast cooks?"Though Ysayle doesn't voice it, her inner thoughts fill of how much it would take to pay or otherwise incentivize one of these chefs to cook for her team for a day... Not that Minerva or Oroitz would ever allow it, but maybe when they were off on some mission...


---

Before Bedivere can identify himself as commanded, and Kijo can do more than raise an eyebrow, Keith tells Ginny to stand down, eagerly welcoming Bedivere into his home. Upon seeing and hearing Liliana, Bedivere snaps his fingers, and Sela removes a package from Alsie's pile, filled to the brim with freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, with a shimmering foil label addressing the package to Liliana, Peeves and Chip. He takes a few steps forward, flinging his arms open to offer a hug to the Dusknoir.

"My dear Liliana, you are truly looking as lovely as ever. Please allow me to extend my most heartfelt congratulations on your sweet little boy. Keith has told me all about him, but I would so love to meet him in person, if that would please you both." He chuckles softly. "And, of course, the proud father, as well - it has been an age since I've seen the dashing Sir Peeves!"

As Kijo shakes Keith's hand with her bear-like grip, Bedivere immediately interjects - "Keith, this is Kijo. You might recognize her Oricorio-Baile, Miss Rebecca, from the Casino, yes?"

Kijo shrugs. "Yeah, I'm just here to drop Becky off, since she's the one who got the invite, so -"

"Oh, do stay!" Bedivere insists to Kijo, while motioning to Sela. "Thank you, Sela dear," he smiles to the little bear. As she toddles back to Bedivere after presenting the package to Liliana, Kijo's eyes fall on her, and it was as if thirty-two years of hard living melted off of her face, and the eight-year-old girl who was lured by Team Rocket with the promise of a Teddiursa had re-emerged. The ex-Rocket immediately tries to conceal her delight at seeing the species, but Bedivere is faster to notice. "I shall take over the distribution of presents. Why not say hello to Kijo, there? I do believe she would like to meet you."

Sela is hesitant at first, gently sucking her honeyed paw with apprehension. Kijo's eyes soften, though she shakes her head. "It's all right, Sela. You don't have to -"

After a moment of consideration, the bear seems to recognize something in Kijo - a certain way she holds herself, her mannerisms, her scent beneath the cologne and coffee - and her eyes light up, the little bear running at full speed to Kijo as if reunited with a long-lost family member. The smiling Froakie on Kijo's shoulder gracefully hops off, seeming to use the moment as an excuse to introduce himself to Bedivere's Wailmer, who seems to be still bouncing around outside, taking in the sights. The Rattata-A and Nickit, however, remain staunchly hidden behind Kijo's leg, moving with the leg to keep space between themselves and the humans they see.

Kijo gently picks the bear up, hugging her with a posture that suggests years of experience with the species. She turns to Bedivere, with a significantly harsher expression than what she had given his Teddiursa. "I know that look in her eyes. She never knew her mother, did she?"

"Quite perceptive of you," Bedivere remarks with a grin, though his eyes flicker with sadness. "She is a recent addition to the team, from the Time Distortion on Springtide Isle. It is not usually my custom to separate eggs from their families, especially across time and space, but..." Bedivere does not elaborate, but Kijo's glare turns less harsh - though she had not gone to the Isle herself, she'd heard the stories.

At the sight of Sela bonding with this stranger, Alsie snorts with jealousy - Kijo, upon noticing this, shifts Sela's weight to one arm, and approaches the Mudbray carefully. Giving her some scritches behind the ears seems to improve her mood somewhat, and Sela's smile to the little donkey reassures her.

Meanwhile, Becky whirls around joyfully to face her eerie friend, opening her wings to encourage the Jigglypuff to embrace her. "Lavender!! So good to see you!!! I have to say, I didn't think Kijo would agree to take me here - and so quickly after that whole Casino business, too - but hey, I sure as hell ain't complainin'!!!"

"Hello," Leith says simply, emotionlessly, to Becky and Lavender, making her way over to the pair.

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Old 07-23-2022, 05:09 AM   #782
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With everyone else seated, the stew was served. There were two pots of the stuff- one of them was still piping hot, while the other, while definitely cooked, had been chilled considerably, and was quite cold, and no prizes for guessing from which pot Ysayle was served. In addition to that, there were slight visual differences between the stew itself, which Terri was happy to explain. "Usually, Perform's berry stew include the slightest hint of Tamato Berry for that spicy kick," she said. "But when he makes it with the intention that it be served cold, he doesn't use Tamato Berries, and instead uses Rawst and Occa Berries. The hot one's made as normal, though," she said, which the team of six that had been brought with her that night seemed appreciative of.

And Ysayle was not the only one to be served the cold stew, either, though Terri and all of her teammates who had accompanied her earlier in the evening, including and especially Luna, went for the hot stew, even the Ice-type Ava. Cacophony, who was still a Toxel at this time, went for the cold stew, as did Vanish, Terri's Shedinja. How exactly Vanish consumed the stew was unclear, but every time someone looked at the bowl, it was clearly getting progressively emptier, so it had to be managing somehow. Willa also went for the cold stew, though her husband and daughter went for the hot stew- with there being a number of takers for it, it was little wonder Perform had made so much of both kinds- by no means was Ysayle being cheated out of a good portion.

Keith gave a smile as the Eiscue sat beside him, and noticed that Laugh did so as well. "A friend of yours, Laugh?" he asked.

"Yes, a new friend, I just met her today at the Tree Grove," the Froslass replied. "This is Ysayle. She has as much an affinity for ice sculpture as I do, if not more- she's very talented."

Keith gave a low whistle, sounding impressed. "And from what Terri says about your own skill with ice sculpture, that's high praise indeed," he stated. "Good to meet you, Ysayle," he added, now addressing the Eiscue.

"To answer your question, Ysayle," Laugh continued, addressing her friend. "Keith's wife, Willa, is a pretty good cook, and also, there's Keith's Slurpuff, Cotton, and his Torkoal, Shelley. In this household, Terri herself is a good cook, and Keep, the Gothitelle over there, she'll often help out in the kitchen as well. Then there's Eddie's Weedle- Hermione is a fantastic chef."

"I can vouch for all of that," Keith chimed in with a grin. "And this might not count, but I remember the time we went and ate at Gavin's place when he had his family over- his mother is an unbelievable cook. Never heard so much appreciative swearing between mouthfuls of food in my life."

"Yeah ya have," quipped Meowth. "Ya just don't know it cuz youse can't undastand Basculin language."

"Heh, fair enough," Keith conceded with a chuckle.


~~~~~

Bedivere reacted to Liliana's presence with a snap of his fingers, at which his Teddiursa presented the Dusknoir with a package full of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Liliana's eye was shining as she beheld the generous gift, and had to resist the urge to devour them all on the spot. "Thank you so much, Bedivere," she smiled, eagerly and warmly hugging the man. "And of course, of course you can meet Chip! He's heard all about you, you know, he'll be happy to meet you, and I'm sure Peeves will be happy to see you again, too."

Keith, meanwhile, was met with a powerful handshake from Kijo, who simply stated she was there to drop off her Oricorio. Which, indeed, true to Bedivere's presumptions, Keith recognized. "Yeah, I recognize that Oricorio, alright," he chuckled. "Was not expecting Lavender to make a friend that night, but then, I've learned to expect the unexpected from that Jigglypuff of mine," he shrugged.

The sight of the Teddiursa softened Kijo's demeanor considerably, and she picked up the Normal-type in a way that suggested considerable past experience doing so. Indeed, just a glance at Sela's eyes, and Kijo seemed to know that the Teddiursa never knew her mother. Bedivere did not deny this, but was saddened by the circumstances all the same- he'd gotten the Egg in the Space-Time Distortion on Springtide Isle. "Ah, yeah, I remember that," Keith nodded. "My wife's Kricketune came from there. Anyways, Kijo, good to meet you, and like Bedivere says, you'd be welcome to come in and stay if you'd like," he offered. He then turned to the Pawniard still floating in the hallway behind him. "Ginny, can you go and fetch Peeves and Chip?" he requested.

"Pawn!" Ginny nodded, saluting Keith before flying off into the house.

Lavender, meanwhile, embraced her friend. "No complaints from me, either," she grinned. "And hello, Leith," she added as the Shadow Sandygast made her comparatively plain introduction. "Come on in, Keith has a friend over, he's been telling us how he lost his eye to Pokémon pirates," she invited them both.

"Ahaha, anyway, sorry about Ginny," Keith chuckled, turning back to his guests. "She means well, she's all about keeping us safe here, but, uh... she's a little much in that department sometimes," he said delicately. "On the upside, I haven't been pestered by door-to-door salesmen in forever," he chuckled. "Ah- but anyways, come in, come in, we're all in the living room," he added, leading the way inside. "We already got someone over at the moment, but the more the merrier, I say." Indeed, as Keith led the way into the first door on the right, there sat, not just Willa and Maribel Masters, but a tall man dressed in very pirate-like clothing, complete with eyepatch and tricorne hat. It was this man who was speaking, momentarily unaware of the others who had just walked in.

"...so there we was, Lily fendin' off half a dozen Galarian Meowth all at once, blastin' 'er Bubble Beam port 'n starboard," the pirate-looking man was saying.

"Port and starboard! Port and starboard! Awwwk!" cawed the Chatot on his shoulder.

"Aye, and holdin' off the boardin' party but good," the man nodded. "Though that left ol' Tom here to grapple with their scurvy captain all by me lonesome, and with nary another Pokémon to me name at the time. Naught but a knife to fend 'er off with. Knife in one hand, the helm in the other, when suddenly, that perfidious Captain Perrserker fakes me out, lands a Slash, and I'll tell ye, t'were a critical hit if e'er I seen one. In naught but the time what it takes ye to blink, I felt a searin' pain, the likes o' which I ain't wouldn't wish on no good man," he said solemnly. "And there she was, evil leer on 'er face, and me right eye speared on 'er dagger-like claw."

"Ah, Tom?" Keith said. "Sorry to interrupt, but we got guests here. This here's an old friend, Bedivere, and this is Kijo- she's the Trainer of that Oricorio Lavender befriended the other day," he added, mainly to Willa, who nodded in understanding.

"Eh? Arrgh, me apologies, then, where be me manners?" the man stated, standing up. "Tom Maelstrom McPhione, at yer service."

"Awwk! Lily!" cawed Tom's Chatot, using a wing to gesture to herself.

"Willa Masters," Willa chimed in. Her gaze lingered for a second on Kijo's shirt, but if she was tempted to say anything about it, she resisted it well.

"I'm Maribel Masters, it's nice to meet you both," Maribel said with a polite smile.

"Heya, Bedivere," Meowth called from another chair in the room. Meowstiic, by his side, meowed in greeting as well. There was also a Hisuian Sneasel in the corner, curled up and snoozing, and therefore, not in any shape to acknowledge the newcomers at that point. The only other Pokémon visible in the room were an Arrokuda and a Blue-Striped Basculin in the aquarium, and they seemed a bit too preoccupied with each other to realize they had further company.

Meanwhile, a few familiar voices could be heard by Sela and Alsie. "Heeey, we've been hoping and braying to see you two again, haven't we George?"

"Too true, Fred- the wait's been unbearable!"

And sure enough, following this pun-heavy introduction, a Pincurchin and Pyukumuku Teleported right next to the Teddiursa and Mudbray. Though before anything further could be said by any of the four, another voice met their ears.

"heh. i know you two've been... urchin for this opportunity, but if you just fall back on the same puns all the time, you'll find yourselves in... quite the pickle."

From around a corner where it didn't seem like anyone could have come without having been noticed beforehand, an Alolan Sandslash, grinning widely, came into view. At the same time, a Dedenne was following him from behind. The Dedenne was clutching a small radio, to which he seemed to be transmitting an Eerie Impulse, which was making the radio play an interesting theme that got the pair of aquatic Pokémon's eyes to light up before they turned to see the newcomer.

"Sans!" exclaimed Fred and George simultaneously and gleefully.

"Heya, Sansy," the Pincurchin greeted Sans warmly.

"heya, fred, george," replied the Alolan Sandslash, before turning his attention to the guests. "so, you two are guests, right? that's hilarious," he said with his good-natured grin. "i'm sans. sans the sandslash. and this is dj skweekz," he added, indicating the Dedenne following him around, playing the music.

"Yo!" DJ Skweekz chimed in with a wink and a thumbs-up.

"he belongs to my trainer's girlfriend," explained Sans. "he walks behind me all the time with that little radio, playing that music for me. it rules," he grinned. "so, i don't think i got your names yet?" he asked of the Teddiursa and Mudbray.
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Old 07-23-2022, 11:30 AM   #783
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They love the taste of blood. I dunno what that means, but I know that I mean it.

Ysayle blushes at Laugh's effusive praise, nodding quite enthusiastically at Keith's comment regarding Terri's opinion of Laugh's skill - her wordless way of expressing that she, too, also felt that Laugh had incredible talent. She offers a flipper for Keith to shake in greeting, before helping herself to the berry stew... And oh, what a stew it was! Homemade, simmered to perfection, yet cooled to the perfect temperature... Even without the spice, it was deeply flavorful and complex. It was certainly a good thing that Perform had made plenty, because Ysayle was already considering going up for seconds!

"You are fortunate indeed to be surrounded by so many talented chefs," Ysayle remarks, thoughtful. "My trainer tries, but... well, she tends to get easily frustrated with the directions, or will forget to set the timer, or will think she can deviate from the recipe so that she doesn't have to go out and buy more ingredients, and, uh..." Ysayle makes a face. "At least when she messes up, she'll order takeout for us, and give her mistakes to Rhubarb. That Gulpin will literally eat anything." Ysayle sighs. "Including my sculptures..."


---

Others might express surprise, concern, or even scoff with doubt upon the assertion that a real live pirate was spinnin' yarns in the Masterses' living room. In sharp contrast, trusting Lavender and knowing to expect the unexpected, Becky's eyes gleam at the prospect of hearing the gruesome story, whistling the first few bars of an appropriate melody in response. Leith, while decidedly less expressive, still nods and follows Lavender regardless.

Kijo shrugs her shoulders at Keith's apologies for Ginny. "Ain't no shame in protectin' what you love, Keith," she says, giving him a bit of a look. "What you might think is too far, some might say ain't far enough. You've got a lotta love to protect, it seems."

"Ah, but are we not a part of that love?" Bedivere grins.

"Hah, speak for yourself," Kijo responds with a harsh laugh. Sela then nuzzles into her shoulder, and she affectionately scratches the bear on the head. "Eh, whatever. Love who you want."

Bedivere's eyes gleam, and Kijo can't help but feel that she has given him permission for something she did not intend. Yet, the moment the feeling strikes her, the drowned man is off to the living room. She sighs, shaking her head. Perhaps she was imagining things...

The guests listen intently to the pirate's tale, silently shuffling in so as not to interrupt, leaving Keith to chime in on their behalf. Kijo nods in greeting, her eyes scanning the room silently, taking stock of the people and Pokémon around her. Bedivere, meanwhile, goes around the room, shaking and kissing hands as appropriate, greeting old friends and new, going to Alsie to grab various wrapped baked goods and treats, each carefully hand-picked and made to their recipient's tastes.

After making the rounds, Bedivere sits down and motions to Kijo, encouraging her to sit beside him. With a defiant glare, she locates the seat farthest away from him, and makes a real point of sitting in it, Sela in her lap. Rather than antagonize the gentleman, however, the show of rudeness seems to intrigue him instead. He snaps to Alsie, who steps over to Kijo, her load considerably lightened. The donkey reaches around to grab an unlabeled package with her teeth, setting it beside Kijo. A mix of gourmet foods, all hand-prepared. Kijo shakes her head, but before she can refuse, her Rattata-A and Nickit come out of hiding to inspect the package, ripping it open and evaluating the quality of the food inside. Both look quite pleased - as does Bedivere.

"Consider it a gift for your two dear friends, if it is your will to refuse it," Bedivere remarks with a touch of mischief in his smile.

Kijo narrows her eyes, but whatever snappy comeback came to mind is startled out of her by the sudden presence of teleporting Pokémon, who seem to be acquainted with Sela and Alsie. Kijo gently lifts the bear off of her, setting her down to play with her friends. Sela gives Kijo's leg a quick hug before ambling off to socialize, the ex-con trying hard to conceal the tugging at her heartstrings. She could feel that drowned man's gaze on her, after all...

"Fred! George!" Sela excitedly joins them, bounding up to Alsie's quickly diminishing pile of gifts. They are soon joined by an Alolan Sandslash and his theme song, broadcasted by the famous DJ Skweekz. "Don't worry about finding yourselves in a pickle... We'll dill with it," Sela retorts with a laugh. "We have gifts for you! We asked Bedivere especially for these -"

As she takes a pile of books off of the Mudbray, she looks confused a moment. "Hm? There are five copies here, not two..."

"For Fred, George, Sans... Alsie and Sela. That's us!" the Mudbray inspects the tags on each. "Looks like all of us get a copy of Punderful Puns with Pun-chlines to Pun-der, Alsie grins. "I guess Bedivere purchased an a-pun-dance of joke books for us, eh, Sela?"

"Oh, and these headphones with lightning bolts must be for DJ Skweeks!" Sela proclaims, making a gift of the headphones - perfectly shaped for Dedenne ears - to the DJ.

---

Meanwhile, outside the Poisonous Palace, Kijo's Froakie hops up to Naim the Wailmer, with a grin to match the jovial whale's.

"Hi, there!" the frog calls out, merrily. "You belong to the Strangler?"

"The Strangler...?" Naim tilts to one side - the equivalent of tilting one's head for a Wailmer. "Oh, do you refer to the incident at the Casino? Truly dreadful business, that... I do apologize on Bedivere's behalf."

"No need," the Froakie hops excitedly. "That's reeeeal ballsy, strangling a man in the middle of fancy digs. Any friend of the Strangler's is a friend of mine! Name's Blackwell!"

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Blackwell!" Naim responds, not quite sure what to make of the eerie gleam in the Froakie's eyes, but still regarding him with the same politeness as he would anyone else. "I am called Naim."

"Name's Naim? Pleasure," Blackwell acknowledges him with a nod of the head. "Whatcha up to?"

"A self-guided tour of the Coast. Do you wish to accompany me?"

"Sure, why not? Mind if I hitch a ride?"

Naim lowers himself so that the Froakie can jump atop his head, and the pair begin to make their way around Sludge Wave Coast, taking in the sights...

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Old 07-24-2022, 04:07 PM   #784
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Keith smiled and shook Ysayle's flipper, and then the eating commenced. Ysayle was far from the only one with a positive opinion of the Loud Mime's cooking, with appreciative murmuring audible all around the table.

Ysayle then admitted to Laugh that her Trainer tries when it comes to cooking, but things had a tendency to go wrong. Which at least meant takeout for all concerned, while Rhubarb got to eat the mistakes. "Oh, that's a shame," murmured Laugh. "It's good that she at least tries, though. Ah- Ysayle's Trainer, in regards to cooking," she added, in response to the inquisitive look she was getting from Keith. "Evidently, try though she might, there's multiple ways things have historically gone wrong."

"Yeah, that'll do it," Keith nodded. "Hell, even the best chefs have their off days," he added fairly. "I remember Cotton once overcooked the burgers one night. They looked like they would power up your Fire moves just from holding them," he chuckled. "I mean, I like mine well-done, but this was beyond that," he grinned. "Ah... I mean, at least our Fire-types ate well that night," he chuckled. "Well, and Crabbe, but then, he's a Swalot, so," he trailed off. "You basically don't need garbage cans when you have a Gulpin or Swalot."

"Ysayle was saying, in fact, that a Gulpin teammate of hers' tends to get to eat the bad outcomes to their Trainer's cooking," Laugh said. "Though she also sometimes eats Ysayle's ice sculptures."

"Oh, no, that's gotta suck," Keith sighed. "I mean, yeah, that's the deal with Gulpin and Swalot- they'll eat anything, and that's no exaggeration. Crabbe once told me- well, through Meowth's translations- about this eating contest he had with an Aron, in which they ate an abandoned city. I've seen him literally consume blocks of concrete with ranch dressing. And, uh, we had more than our fair share of incidents with Crabbe in his early days," he chuckled. "Anyways, Ysayle, to get to my point- give it time, let your Trainer work with your teammate, get her to learn a little self control. Not the easiest thing, but it can be done. In my experience, Gulpin and Swalot are rarely as simple-minded as their predictable eating habits would imply," he said.


~~~~~

Keith nodded at Kijo's words. "I mean, fair enough," he conceded. "Ginny might be paranoid to a real extreme, but in all fairness, sometimes that paranoia's saved lives," he said seriously. "Though at the same time, sometimes that paranoia'll end up scaring good people away, or worse, and that's what I'm looking to prevent. I saw Bedivere approaching through the living room window, so as soon as I heard Ginny getting started, well..." he trailed off.

Once all were inside, Bedivere went around, giving greetings and gifts in equal measure, during which Willa turned to Keith. "You really weren't exaggerating," she murmured.

Keith shrugged. "Told you," he grinned. "Wanna go get it?"

"Certainly," Willa nodded, and she quietly made her way out of the room.

Liliana floated back into the living room, with Peeves and Chip in tow, still holding the box of cookies, which, if anyone looked in, would already seem to have had a quarter of its contents devoured. "...Holy crap," Peeves remarked, looking at Bedivere. "Bedivere? Good to see you again!"

"Oh, this Bedivere?" the Duskull asked, floating curiously over to the drowned man. As he did so, Bedivere would undoubtedly pick up the aroma of chocolate chip cookies, and not just because Chip had eaten some of his generous gift already, either. "Mom and Dad always talk about you, say nice things," the Duskull said, holding out a cloth arm for Bedivere to shake. "My name Chip. Nice meet you, Bedivere."

Once Bedivere had sat down, Tom turned to him, still working on a mouthful of saltwater taffy. Once he'd swallowed, he spoke up. "Mm. Absolutely delicious, and no mistake," he declared. "Thank ye kindly there, Bedivere."

Maribel, meanwhile, had made her way over to Kijo. "If you don't like the food Mr. Bedivere gave you, would you like one of my cookies?" she offered- she too had received delicious fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. "I like your Pokémon," she added, glancing at the pair of Dark-types, though still keeping what she hoped was a respectful distance- she'd seen how nervous they had been coming in, and had no desire to give them any reason to be scared. "My Uncle Gavin had a Nickit of his own- a Shiny one, actually. It's a Thievul now."

Meanwhile, Sela and Alsie came prepared with puns of their own, as well as their share of Bedivere's gifts- five joke books for the pun-loving group, and a pair of lightning bolt-themed headphones for DJ Skweekz. "Yooo, these are rockin'!" DJ Skweekz exclaimed, putting on the headphones at once. "Where's there a mirror? I need to see how these look... Oh! Right! Be right back!" he exclaimed, dashing off towards Maribel.

Evidently, whatever DJ Skweekz was gonna ask of Maribel, he has asked in the past before, for as she saw the Dedenne approach, she smiled, and took out a Poké Ball. "Come out- Morgrem!" she declared. The ball opened up, and in a flash of light, a Morgrem that was taller than his own Trainer materialized.

"Yo! Morgrem, what's good?" DJ Skweekz called up. "Lift me up so I can catch my reflection in the TV, yeah?"

"Sure," smiled Morgrem, reaching down, offering a hand which the Dedenne was quick to climb onto. "New headphones? They look cool."

"Yeah, just got 'em!" grinned DJ Skweekz. And as Morgrem walked over to the large wall-mounted television, which was currently off, he held up DJ Skweekz so he could look into the screen and see his reflection. "...ohhh, yeah. The Skweekz likez," grinned the Dedenne, striking poses as he looked on, seeing how he looked with the headphones. "I owe you one, Morgs," he added as the Devious Pokémon lowered his friend to the ground.

"Nah, happy to help," Morgrem responded.

Meanwhile, the recipients of the joke books were pretty appreciative themselves. "Daaaamn, he got us all joke books, I like this guy already!" Fred stated.

"Yeah, as far as gifts go, this is really one for the pages!" quipped George.

"oh, i know what i'm reading later," grinned Sans, flipping through his copy. "never hurts to have more material. you don't want to be... punderprepared," he chuckled. "so, sela, alsie," he continued. "heard about you two from fred and george. sounds like we all got some common ground. something i can't help but wonder, though, and i'm not complaining about the gift whatsoever, but how'd this bedivere fellow know me and dj skweekz would even be here? we came basically on a whim."

Willa came back into the room at that moment, holding a wrapped gift that did not come from Bedivere. Keith nodded, walked over to her, and together they approached Bedivere. "Bedivere," Keith said. "We knew it was only a matter of time before you took us up on our invitation, so we decided we were gonna be ready."

"I get the feeling it isn't exactly your usual aesthetic," Willa chimed in, noting Bedivere's fancy clothing, "but we're hoping you'll find practical use for it, at least." Indeed, upon unwrapping the gift Keith and Willa presented to him, he would find a thick, fluffy, handmade sweater, blue and white, giving it a definite male Jellicent motif.

"Willa's better with this than I am, but I helped her out any way I could," Keith stated. "With the both of us working together, to say nothing of the help Myrtle was able to provide, we were able to get this done over the course of the day yesterday, and if it's half as good as the sweaters Willa's made in the past, it should keep you nice and warm on a cold day."

"Speaking of which, where is Myrtle?" Willa inquired.

"Are you kidding? Probably hiding from Fred and George, and... Sans? When did Sans get- y'know what, why even question it anymore," Keith chuckled. "But yeah, she's probably upstairs with Noxie, bonding over their shared hatred of puns."

"Actually, she's in the Battle Room," Liliana said. "She's watching Noxie battle Lenny."

"Oh, yeah, I forgot those two were training up there," Keith nodded. "They'll come down afterwards, then- Noxie and Lenny are always hungry after a good battle, and Myrtle'll probably come down just because Noxie does."

~~~~~

Outside, Naim and Blackwell were making their way around Sludge Wave Coast, a self-guided tour of the town. As it was a lovely day, there were more than a few people and Pokémon to be seen out and about. A Parasect sat in the shade of a tree, alongside an Amoonguss whose cap and shields resembled Ultra Balls. A Ditto could be seen relaxing under Keith's pickup truck. But from the southern area of town, a loud musical commotion could be heard. Upon inspection, they could see a small audience having gathered to see a musical act in action. A Normal Form Mr. Mime was banging away on an unseeable yet very much audible drum set; a pair of Toxtricity were strumming away at their chest organs- the Amped one was producing rocking electric guitar sounds, while the Low Key one generated bass guitar sounds, which, while more subdued in terms of outright loudness, nevertheless could be felt. A Kricketune was with them, keeping up remarkably with the tempo with the violin sounds she was producing, and a Kommo-o rhythmically jangled his scales in time with the music.
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Old 07-28-2022, 09:13 PM   #785
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Maybe they're as evil as they seem...

Ysayle shakes her head sadly at the thought of burned burgers... The only thing more tragic than a burger that was well-done, in her opinion, but she does not voice this for fear of insulting Keith. Then again, as an ice type, she generally did not like her food cooked any more than necessary.

Unsurprisingly, Keith has significant experience with Gulpin and Swalot, which Ysayle listens to intently before giving an appreciative nod. "Thank you, Keith... I'll be sure to pass on your advice."

Who she would pass it on to... Well, she wasn't sure. Mr. Oroitz certainly wouldn't appreciate any advice from Keith, and she knew better than to mention him to Minerva. Perhaps if she told Miss Bia, the message would reach them without its origin being revealed... Ysayle ponders this for a moment, as she scrapes the bottom of the bowl with her spoon - the sound signals that she has eaten every last bit of her first helping.

"Is there enough cold soup for seconds?" Ysayle asks, holding up her empty bowl.


---

"If Ginny's scarin' your friends off, you need better friends," Kijo responds to Keith with a harsh laugh. "I wouldn't let some paranoid Pawniard get in the way of visiting folks that matter... Then again, given the kind of folks that used to matter to me, I'm used to dealin' with all kinds of vicious guard Pokemon." She smirks. "I don't think your Ginny's all that bad, considerin'. At least she backs down when you tell her to..."

Meanwhile, Bedivere offers a respectful bow and a delighted grin to Peeves. "I am ever so pleased to see you again as well, my friend," he says, before offering the Dusknoir's sweet-smelling son a gentlemanly handshake. "Ah, and how wonderful to finally make your acquaintance, Chip! Ohoho, you remind me so much of your mother when she was your age... How fast time flies," Bedivere remarks with a wistful smile.

Once the drowned gentleman is seated, Tom offers his heartfelt thanks for the salt water taffy. "Oh, I just knew you'd love it," Bedivere responds, appreciative of the pirate's gratitude. "My dear friend, Professor Ghosttree, is also quite the fan of it, too - the recipe I chose is her recommendation."

Bedivere's eyes flicker strangely, as he turns to Keith. "In fact, I spoke with the Professor recently, after being long away from her side. It was indeed ever so wonderful to hear that she and those she loves are all doing well - but I must admit, the call was not inspired solely by how dearly I miss her, much as I do," Bedivere takes a deep breath, but before he continues, he is very pleasantly surprised by a homemade gift from Keith, Willa and Myrtle. His eyes completely light up at the sight of the unwrapped sweater, which he takes in his hands gingerly, admiring the fabric.

"Oh, what a lovely gift! And it shall warm me both from without and within in these chilly winter days," Bedivere exclaims, holding the sweater to himself, judging the fit favorably. "Worry not whether it fits with my usual attire - I shall wear it with pride regardless, ohohohohohoho~! A thousand thank yous, my dear friends! I shall certainly express my gratitude to Myrtle when she arrives, as well."

Folding the sweater carefully so as to keep it well-pressed and unwrinkled, he sets it carefully by his side, clearly treasuring the thoughtful gesture. "Ah, yes. Anyway... Where was I... Ah, right." Bedivere clears his throat. "I truly hate to bring back a memory which likely causes no small measure of distress, especially so shortly into my visit, but I have been quite busy these past few days, and my sense is that you would be interested in the fruits of my investigative labors." He pauses, turning to both Keith and Willa with a meaningful expression before continuing. "That gentleman - Mr. Oroitz - certainly left his mark on me, in more ways than one! Ohohohohoho~" The drowned man chuckles, good-natured as usual, despite discussing a man he nearly strangled, and who nearly beat him so bloody as to need a trip to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Kijo shakes her head at Maribel's offer, but a hint of appreciation makes its way into her voice. "You keep your cookie, hun. Nothin' wrong with the food, especially if these two like it," Kijo replies, giving her pair of dark types a gentle pat on the head. The A-Rattata sniffs in the direction of Maribel's cookie and, after looking at Kijo for a moment, hops toward Maribel, holding out her paws and making a grabbing gesture - the universal sign for Gimme that. Kijo sighs, gently guiding the little rat back to her gifts.

"Greedy, aincha? She's a kid, and she just complimented you n' Roseo, didn't she? Then again, you'd take cookies from a limbless baby if you could," Kijo chides darkly, but with an odd sort of gentleness. "You got plenty there to eat, Calla. I ain't takin' any."

With the Rattata once again digging through the gifts Bedivere gave them and sharing them with her fox friend, Kijo turns back to Maribel, something the girl said catching the ex-con's attention. "Uncle Gavin? You don't mean Golurkson, do ya?" Kijo's smile becomes slightly more genuine. "I remember him from when I used to do stints at the Nightclubs, working as a bouncer. Always had a bit of a soft spot for him - he's a good kid, far as I can tell. How's he doin'?"

Sela and Alsie both seem pleased at their friends' reactions to Bedivere's gifts, but understandably, Sans questions how Bedivere was able to pick such perfect presents, especially for Pokemon like Sans and DJ Skweekz, who arrived on a whim.

"An excellent question," Alsie responds. How does one buy presents for those whose presence was not reasonably presented as a possibility for this, the present?

We questioned this ourselves, when we first came to know Bedivere, Sela adds. It seemed... unearthly, the way he knew how to always have the right gifts on hand for the right people. We thought he might have some manner of power or magic -

Still haven't ruled that out, Alsie snorts.

More likely, though, it has to do with all the people and Pokemon that Bedivere helps, or has helped - he has many, many powerful connections, Sela explains. Psychics, mediums, powerful spirits, politicians, businessmen... We get all manner of strange visitors, and they all seem to know our Bedivere - they all seem to have some story of how he helped them.

And though he does not expect their help in return, sometimes, they insist, Alsie adds.

More than likely, he used his contacts to predict which presents to buy, Sela concludes. Perhaps that's why he was given that egg... the Teddiursa remarks, looking in the direction of her trainer, taking a moment to glance at his sachel.

---

Upon catching wind of the sights and sounds of Poke-performances, Blackwell immediately points in the direction of the concert with one froggie hand, while tapping Naim gently but insistently with the other. "Hey, hey! They're playing music! Let's check it out!"

Naim nods, though carefully, so as not to cause Blackwell to lose balance. He makes his way over to join the audience, politely positioning himself in the back, given his relative size. The pair bounce and bop along to the rhythm, oddly well-timed with one another for relative strangers - but perhaps it was their shared water typing and unified desire to go with the flow of the melodies surrounding them that allowed them to keep so perfectly in step. Their dancing is sure to turn some heads, but who could blame them for having a good time?

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Old 07-29-2022, 08:44 PM   #786
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Ysayle shook her head, lamenting the burnt burgers (while secretly judging Keith for his taste in burgers at the same time), though nodded appreciatively at the advice, even without knowing exactly how she would pass it on without revealing the source, a conflict that Keith remained quite unaware of for the moment. After this, she held up her empty bowl, clearly desiring seconds- now this, Keith was able to see. "Seconds, huh? No problem," he said- he was able to reach the pot of cold soup, and so helpfully ladled more into Ysayle's bowl. "Might even be enough for thirds, it looks like," he reported, looking again into the pot.

"Or you could take some home with you," Terri offered.


~~~~~

Keith shrugged. "True, she does back down when I say to," he conceded. "Honestly, it's when she doesn't back down that I know there's really something to worry about."

Tom's show of appreciation for the taffy was met with the reveal that Professor Ghosttree had recommended this particular recipe, which segued into the reveal that he, Bedivere, had spoken with her recently. And as good as it was for him to hear that Marion and her loved ones were all doing well (a fact Keith also looked pleased to hear), Bedivere had to admit that missing her was not his only motivation for calling her. Exactly what this motivation was, he didn't yet say, mainly because Keith and Willa had given him their present, which he seemed greatly appreciative of. "Glad you like it," Keith smiled.

Bedivere then continued, however- he hated to drag up what had to be a distressing memory, that memory no doubt being the party at the casino the other night, but he maintained he'd been very busy in the past few days, and was certain both Keith and Willa would appreciate learning whatever he himself had learned. And indeed, he confirmed this to involve, in some manner, that Oroitz fellow from the Casino, the one who had picked a fight with, and subsequently almost got killed by, Bedivere.

Keith and Willa took seats near Bedivere at once. "So, do I take this to mean this has something to do with Minerva?" Keith asked quietly. "Not gonna lie, realizing she's been alive this entire time was... pretty far from expected," he chuckled.

"Indeed," Willa concurred. "It was thanks to my Yanmega's efforts that we were able to learn a little more about what exactly had happened, but I'm certain any further light you can shine on the matter would be greatly appreciated."

"And if we got this wrong and this isn't about her, I'm still curious- what is it you've found out?" Keith asked Bedivere.

Kijo seemed appreciative of Maribel's offer, but turned it down all the same, stating that if her Pokémon were liking the food, it had to be fine. She then chided her Alolan Rattata for begging for the cookie, though with a sort of underlying gentleness. Maribel chuckled at this behavior. "Dad's Appletun and Vileplume can be the same way sometimes," she said. Then, as the subject turned to Maribel's Uncle Gavin, and Kijo asked as to his last name, Maribel's eyes lit up. "You know him!" she smiled. "He's doing good, he lives right here in town, actually. You saw that big Colosseum in the southern part of town, right? He lives in the little house attached to it, and runs Colosseum challenges there almost every day. He tries to not swear around me, but sometimes if he stubs his toe or something, he lets things slip anyway. Apparently, because of him, my first word was 'shit,'" she added in a bit of a chuckled whisper. As they spoke, Maribel's Morgrem returned to her side. She offered him one of her cookies, and he accepted it happily, eating it in short order, and evidently finding it to be quite tasty.

Alsie and Sela explained that they themselves weren't completely sure themselves how Bedivere had the nigh-supernatural foresight to bring gifts for Sans and DJ Skweekz when nobody could conceivably have known them to be here. They did know, however, that Bedivere had made many powerful connections, having helped many people and Pokémon. Many of them offered help of their own in return, all without being asked for it by Bedivere, but sometimes they would insist upon it, and the theory was that he used some of the more psychic of his connections to predict which presents to buy. "Hmm, could be," Fred murmured. "It's not like we don't have psychic connections of our own, right, George?"

"True, Fred," concurred George. "Friend of ours, this Swoobat named Luna, sometimes she gets premonitions. Can't control when they happen or the subject matter, but they ain't failed her yet."

"a degree of randomness that'd drive anyone... batty," Sans grinned. "but yeah, with someone like her around town, i could believe your bedivere knowing similar folk."

~~~~~

Outside, Naim and Blackwell were naturally drawn to the rocking music, and even more naturally began to dance, catching more than a little attention. This went on until the song concluded, the group of sheer musical talent met with uproarious applause.

"BY THE HORNS OF XERNEAS, THANK YOU, ONE AND ALL!" the Mr. Mime bellowed, beaming widely in response to the praise. "IT IS CLEAR AS A YANMA'S WING THAT OUR PERFORMANCE TODAY WAS THOROUGHLY ENJOYED BY EVERYONE PRESENT, AND I FOR ONE COULD NOT BE MORE PLEASED IF I TRIED!"

As things settled down and the crowd started to disperse, the pair of Water-types were approached by the Amped Toxtricity. "Yo, I saw those funky moves earlier," she grinned. "Really got into the tunes, didn't ya? Gotta say, we loved to see it. Ain't seen you two in town before, though," she said. "Anyways, name's Roxie, what brings y'all to Sludge Wave Coast?"
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Old 07-30-2022, 01:59 PM   #787
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...or maybe I only look out the window when it's scenic.

Ysayle's eyes twinkle with delight as her bowl is refilled, her spoon no longer scraping against an empty bowl, but eagerly lifting fresh, cold soup to the penguin's beak. The Eiscue only pauses to listen to the offer of thirds, which she considers thoughtfully.

"I would really appreciate a container to take home! Not that I couldn't eat a third bowl, but it would be out of gluttony rather than hunger..." The comment seems to spark a particularly icy memory, and Ysayle sighs. "Maybe I've been too hard lately on Rhubarb, my Gulpin teammate... I bet if I brought her some of this soup, it would make her happy." With a resolute nod, she turns to Keith. "Yes, if you would give me some soup to go, I'd love to bring it home to Rhubarb. Just, uh... Just, if you could put it in a container that you don't mind losing permanently, since she's likely to eat that, too."


---

Kijo briefly appears disappointed at Keith's words, as if she was somehow offended that Ginny didn't find the ex-con threatening enough to fight her trainer's orders to back down. The former Rocket sighs, hoping that the Pawniard simply sensed Kijo's lack of violent intentions, rather than some overall softening of her demeanor. Kijo's usual line of work demanded an intimidating aura, after all, though she, too, had to develop a good sense to know when to back down... She knew, despite her itch for a good fight, it was for the best that she wasn't coming to blows with the guards at Sludge Wave Coast.

Meanwhile, Bedivere responds to Keith and Willa in a gentle, informative manner. "In truth, Keith, it was... less shocking to me, but no less emotionally impactful," Bedivere admits. "'Tis true I had learned it possible that Minerva still existed in some spiritual fashion, her soul aloft on the spectral wings of Sensu, but this was mere rumor and hearsay in the darkest lands, where no living soul treads. Indeed, up until hearing and seeing Mr. Oroitz and Mr. Lyle's enlightening actions and comments at the Casino, long though I had searched, I had seen not the slightest trace of such tales being true. I had not at all expected, however, that Minerva would still be among the living." Bedivere's eyes darken. "Indeed, I had hoped it not so, for if she has been among the living all this time, her loneliness, her suffering must have been -"

Bedivere cuts himself off with a deep, gurgling breath, seeming to be momentarily gasping for air, smile fixed firmly in place. "...Anyway. You may recall that Mr. Oroitz made reference to the Lady Marion, of speaking with her. He seemed quite convinced - wrongly, but understandably - that I had learned of Minerva's survival from her, and spread this news to others. In my recent conversation with her, my dearest Lady Marion did confirm that, some months prior while I was journeying in the Lands of the Dead, she received an unexpected visitor in the form of a Honchkrow who flew through her window bearing a Nightwatch Identification badge. P-028-O1 Oroitz, it said. Though the crow was identified as a 'free agent' - of or exceeding human intelligence, and given all rights and freedoms thereof - he had, of his own volition, sworn allegiance to C-028-O, the last survivor of Unit 28. Minerva."

Bedivere takes a moment to gather his thoughts, recalling the conversation with his Professor friend. "My dear Lady is a gentle and patient soul, as I'm sure you remember, Keith - so it was quite notable that she described Mr. Oroitz as, quote, one of the most uppity, presumptuous little shits I've ever had the misfortune to deal with in all my years as a Trainer, Researcher and Professor of Pokémon. By the sound of it, he did not only relate the news of her sister's survival with a surprising lack of tact, but went into a rather upsetting rant about all the ways in which my dear Marion had failed Minerva and, by extension, him - a rant which, according to the Professor, taught Mr. Oroitz quickly and effectively that the two sisters have quite the resemblance when the Lady Marion gets angry enough." Much as Bedivere attempts to stifle it, the drowned gentleman giggles with mischief. "Oh, do pardon me, Sir Keith, it is rather cruel of me... But I would so liked to have witnessed Mr. Oroitz flying out of there as fast as his wings would carry him, tail between his talons, as my dear Professor described."

With a few more sputtering giggles escaping the water-logged lungs of the ocean-scented nobleman, he settles to a calmer state, addressing Willa. "My dear, before I go on further, you mentioned having information of your own. Would it trouble you to share before I go on? I would not wish to take up your time with what you already know."

Meanwhile, Kijo makes a bit of an amused face, realizing that she hasn't exactly been watching her language around Maribel... Or anyone else. Looking down at her shirt, she shrugs her shoulders. Too late, and, quite frankly, she wasn't the girl's fuckin' nanny, anyway. Her eyes sparkle with mischief at Maribel's story of her first words. "That right, huh?" Kijo chuckles. "Well, to be blunt, hun, when I was... what, twelve? Thirteen? Is that what you are?" Kijo gives Maribel a careful look, but seems a bit flummoxed as to how to tell the girl's exact age. "Well, since the age of eight, anyway... I was beatin' trainers bloody an' stealin' their ffffffffffreakin' Pokémon, smokin' cigarettes and rollin' dice with Rocket Grunts twice and three times my age. I knew how to cheat at cards, hack a Pokémon Center PC and knock fully-grown men out from behind with a well-placed strike to the head, so... I ain't exactly the type to know what's age-appropriate."

Kijo notices that Calla and Roseo have made short work of Bedivere's gifts, the well-fed pair both taking a seat on Kijo's lap. She takes turns petting them as she continues to speak to Maribel. "Anyway, think yer Uncle would mind if I stopped by to say Hello? Not to disparage your folks r'anythin - they seem like good, upstandin' people a' culture, but, uh..." Kijo shakes her head, lowering her voice and leaning towards Maribel. "That's kinda the issue. I feel like your uncle might be, uh... More accepting of my particular manner of speaking, and I'm afraid your poor mother doesn't speak the kinda French I do."

Meanwhile, Alsie and Sela both giggle at Sans' pun, nodding in agreement that such random visions of the future would drive one batty, indeed. "We'll probably have to get used to that kind of thing ourselves, once Bedivere's egg hatches," Alsie says, with a nod to Bedivere's satchel. "Sela seems to think it'll be any moment, so... We might end up with quite the egg-citing little surprise soon!"

Sela nods eagerly. "I may not be psychic, but I have an egg-cellent sense when it comes to hatchlings!"

"I hear these Psychic Eggs hatch some seriously smart Pokémon Real egg-heads."

"I bet this baby will be egg-stra bright! Sela counters, giggling a bit to herself.

---

At the end of the performance, the Amped Toxtricity approaches Blackwell and Naim, complimenting their dance moves and asking what brings them to the Coast.

"Hi hi, and thank you!" Blackwell exclaims eagerly, hopping with excitement. "Those beats were so sick-nasty, how could we help ourselves? Can't dance to the rhythm if the music ain't right, and sister, it was right as rain."

"It's a real pleasure to meet you, and to enjoy your wonderful performance," Naim adds, flapping his flippers appreciatively. "We are Naim and Blackwell - in truth, we belong to separate trainers, and have only just met, ourselves -"

"Becky dragged my trainer and I here, along with the rest of our crew," Blackwell says, perhaps a bit too honestly, "But hey, I'm glad she did! Didn't realize there'd be a concert."

"As for me, I was not dragged, as such a thing would be quite difficult to do for one of my size," Naim says with a little chuckle. "My trainer, Bedivere, is here to visit Keith, Willa and Maribel - but I, lacking such invitation - though I imagine one is implied - thought to take the opportunity to explore. As Blackwell mentioned, full glad am I that we did!"

"Who're you?" Blackwell asks the Toxtricity, tilting his head.
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Old 08-01-2022, 01:56 PM   #788
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Ysayle seemed to like the idea of taking a container of the berry stew home. Not for herself, but for Rhubarb, as something of a peace offering, an apology for being too hard on her. She only asked that it be put in a container that wouldn't be expected to be returned, since Rhubarb was likely to eat that too. Keith chuckled as Meowth translated this for him. "Oh, I know how that goes," he nodded. "Terri, Laugh, if you don't already have something like that, I got some spare containers, I wouldn't mind running home and grabbing one."

"It's greatly appreciated, Keith, but we have it covered," Terri replied, already getting up. She walked into the kitchen, returning moments later with an old plastic container that had clearly stored all manner of leftovers in years gone by. Still serviceable by the look of it, and it was kept perfectly clean, but it had definitely seen better days. "This should do nicely," Terri stated, setting it down, allowing Laugh to fill it up with the cold berry stew. This still left a little of the stuff in the pot for anyone else who might still want some, but not a lot. The lid snapped firmly into place for the container as well.

Before Terri handed it over to Ysayle, however, she stuck a piece of paper to it, displaying some numbers and Terri's name. "Can you make sure you give that paper to your Trainer?" she asked Ysayle. "It's my PokéGear number. It occurred to me earlier I hadn't given it to her, and I'd quite like for us to stay in touch."


~~~~~

Bedivere confided that the news wasn't as big a shock to him, though no less impactful from an emotional standpoint. He had learned that it was possible that Minerva's soul was still in existence, but to learn that she was outright still alive was beyond his expectations. In fact, he had hoped that to not be the case, due to how lonely she must have been, how much she must have suffered. "Yeah," Keith sighed. "I just... Like... I wish I had been able to be there for her," he muttered. "I have no complaints with how my life turned out, but all the same, y'know?"

"Indeed," Willa murmured gravely, putting an arm around her husband, a display of support that went neither unnoticed nor unappreciated by him.

Getting back on track, Bedivere explained that some months ago, Oroitz had paid a visit to Marion, and the manner in which she had supposedly described Oroitz left Keith looking surprised and amused in equal measure. Bedivere then described how Oroitz had displayed a complete and utter lack of tact in relating the news of Minerva's survival, and subsequently berating Marion for all the ways in which she had supposedly failed Minerva. "Oh good lord," Keith chuckled. "Yeah, no, if the full extent of Marion's anger is comparable to Minerva's, then yeah, you're basically poking a sleeping Gyarados with a stick at this point." Even Willa couldn't fully suppress an amused chuckle at this.

Bedivere then addressed Willa, asking her if she could share what she knew before he continued. "Yes, well, Yanmega returned with an envelope containing log entries from the Lacunosa Nightwatch," Willa explained. "In short, they related the Nightwatch's ill-fated investigation into what appeared to be a cursed Love Teller machine that dispensed illegible fortunes that drove the recipients to kill themselves."

"Minerva apparently went out against orders to destroy the machine after it had claimed so many of her friends' lives," Keith supplied. "Though... she and a friend of hers must have gotten fortunes of their own. There's a lot of detail we're not clear on- like half the entries are redacted in their entirety- but evidently, her friend died, Minerva didn't, and due to an administrative error, the notice was sent out as though Minerva had died. And she... she requested that it not be corrected."

"She had foreseen that I would end up with Keith if she was believed dead," Willa stated. "And she must have thought that that would be what would truly make him happy, and so it seems she sought to allow that to come to pass. And... well... it did in fact come to pass." She then, after a few seconds, turned to Keith. "...it did come to pass?" she asked in a small voice.

Keith gave his wife a reassuring smile. "It did," he confirmed. "It was... kinda agonizing, the whole, y'know, grieving, eventually moving on... but in the end, I am happy with how my life has turned out. And finding out that Minerva is not only alive, but seems to have in fact actively facilitated this in a fashion... yeah, like I said, wasn't expecting that," he chuckled.

~~~~~

Maribel looked astonished as Kijo related the sort of stuff she'd been getting up to since the age of eight. "Whoa," she whispered. "So, were you part of Team Rocket?" she asked, still in a hushed tone. After Kijo asked if she could stop by and say hello to Gavin, Maribel nodded. "I don't think he'd mind, I don't know that he's doing anything in particular today," she said. "Though honestly, if Mom really had a problem with you, she'd have been very clear about it," she added. "And Dad's best friends with Uncle Gavin, so I really can't see him having a problem with you, either," she shrugged.

~~~~~

"Yeah, I bet you wouldn't mind a super smart teammate," Fred chimed in.

"Someone with a truly egg-ceptional intellect," George chuckled.

"Oh, shit, Sans!" exclaimed DJ Skweekz suddenly. "I didn't even realize they were doing the concert near the Colosseum, I wanted to join in on that! Can you get me there?"

"sure thing, skweekz. don't sweat it, i know a shortcut," Sans responded. "sela, alsie, nice to meet you two. we really must do this again sometime, but for right now, omelet you guys get back to your egg puns," he grinned. He led the way back around the corner, DJ Skweekz in tow, and if anyone were to follow and look around the corner even just a second afterward, there'd be no sign of either one of them.

~~~~~

Roxie, meanwhile, was talking to Naim and Blackwell just as Sans and DJ Skweekz walked into view from behind a tree they almost certainly hadn't been behind just moments ago. "fast shortcut, huh?" grinned Sans.

"Yeah, but aw, man, they're done!" sighed DJ Skweekz.

"Actually, we might be doing an encore in a little while," Kricketune chimed in. "I- oh, DJ Skweekz, very nice headphones!" she added.

"Heh, you like?" grinned DJ Skweekz, striking poses to show them off. "Just got 'em now. Some overly generous dude named Bedivere visiting the Masterses."

"Really?" murmured Kricketune. "Well, there's those two Pokémon over there we've never seen before, the Wailmer and Froakie, maybe they're his?"

"The Froakie, maybe, but ain't that Tom's Wailmer?" asked DJ Skweekz.

"No, no, I don't think so," Kricketune shook her head. "Why don't you two introduce yourselves?"

"Sounds like a plan," declared the Dedenne. "C'mon, Sansy!" he added, at which the Alolan Sandslash shrugged, grinned, and followed along.

"So yeah, like I said, the name's Roxie," grinned the Amped Toxtricity in response to Blackwell. "Glad you were digging the tunes, that means a lot to us! This used to be just a family deal- the Low Key Toxtricity on bass you saw and heard is my little girl, Cacophony, and my man, the drummer, none other than the Loud Mime hisself. I don't mind that we're branching out a bit, though- got some real musical talent working with us. Wanna meet the rest of the band?" she offered. "Oh hey, speaking of which, Skweekzy, where were you?" she added, seeing the Dedenne and Alolan Sandslash approaching.

"'sup, Roxie?" grinned DJ Skweekz. "Got a little sidetracked, but hey- worth it, am I right?" he added, showing off his new headphones.

"Aw, hell, yeah!" grinned Roxie, playing a rocking chord on her protrusions as she spoke. "Damn, those suit you! Naim, Blackwell, this here's DJ Skweekz, he jams with us sometimes. And that's Sans there, he belongs to DJ Skweekz's Trainer's boyfriend, think I got that right?" she asked.

"yep," grinned Sans. "good to meet you two. can't say i've seen you two in town before, though. you with that bedivere character?" he asked. "generous fella. came prepared for anything and anyone to be there- had gifts for everyone, including me and dj skweekz," he said, holding up his new joke book, while DJ Skweekz posed some more to show off his new headphones.
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Old 08-06-2022, 02:46 PM   #789
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I ain't waiting, I'm patiently persevering.

Understanding Ysayle's request all too well, Keith offers to provide a container, but Terri has the perfect vessel for bringing soup home to a hungry Gulpin. Ysayle takes it in her flippers with a grateful bow, before Terri mentions having a PokeGear number to give to Ysayle's trainer. The little penguin thinks for a moment, before gently taking the piece of paper and affixing it to the back of her head. At first, this action likely makes no sense, but as Ysayle sets down the container of soup and blows some cold air around her head, the Ice Face her species is known for reforms, with the note encased inside.

"There! That should keep it safe from any hungry Gulpins or from getting misplaced. When I get home, I'll give this ice a good crack and give your information to my Trainer."

Before Ysayle picks up her soup container again, she offers a flipper to Keith, Meowth, Terri and Laugh to shake. "It was a real pleasure to meet you all, and enjoy such a wonderful meal! My compliments, once again, to the chef," Ysayle turns and bows to Perform.

"It'll be no easy feat to wake up Garl, but I think I should be able to manage. I'm sure my Trainer is wondering where I am... Ysayle sighs, somewhat guiltily. Defying Oroitz was one thing, but making Minerva worry was something the Eiscue tried to avoid. "We can send him back tomorrow to pick up Astrophel. Thank you again, for everything!!"

With that, the little Eiscue waddles off, eager to tell Rhubarb about all of the adventures she's had.


---

Bedivere listens carefully to Willa's information, nodding quietly. "After the Lady Marion's encounter with Mr. Oroitz, I am told that she called up the Commander of the Nightwatch to give him an earful... The story he related was similar to the one you described. He also made it clear to my Lady that the irritable Honchkrow's views and admonishments were solely his own, and that Minerva herself, far from feeling spite or vengeance towards her loved ones, harbored only the deepest regret that she could not have been more present in her sister's life in the past few years... and, of course, regret for all the pain she has caused you, Keith. That the ends justify the means seems more than apparent, of course, but..."

Bedivere lowers his head, his grin flickering. "I, too, wish I could have been given the opportunity to be there for her. Had I known..."

Before Bedivere can continue his thought, his satchel begins to shimmy and shake! With joy and delight in his eyes, he opens the pack eagerly, to reveal...

"HAH! Fooled ya!"

A ghostly Zorua hops out of the bag, shedding her egg Illusion. With a proud little prance to the edge of the couch, she hops off gracefully, flicking her tail with satisfaction.

"Don't worry... Your little psychic friend's in good hands. She apologizes for taking her leave of you, but she says she, quote, 'felt pulled toward another who had need of her gifts'... You know how it is."

"Oh, that's quite all right!" Bedivere replies amicably, seeming thoroughly unperturbed by this sudden turn of events - and the bit of trickery, besides. "So, who do I have the pleasure of addressing, then?"

"Name's Nadia," she replies, with a mischievous grin. "Former member of the Lacunosa Nightwatch, Unit 28. If my ears don't deceive me, I hear we're the current subject of conversation..." The little Zorua-H chuckles darkly. "There anything I can help with?"

---

Kijo nods to confirm her former membership in Team Rocket, but her face darkens with seriousness. "It ain't something to be proud of. No matter what fame, power, riches they promise - what good they claim to accomplish - there's no honor in that organization. Never was. Never will be."

Her expression returns to a smile on hearing that there was no reason why she couldn't visit Gavin, though she chuckles a bit at Maribel's assurance that her parents likely wouldn't have a problem with her. "Eh, maybe so. I mean, your Mum... Well, suffice to say, the Turncoat Traitor has allies in the circles I run in." Kijo smirks, giving Roseo and Calla a pat to encourage them to hop off her lap. "Though, even if I ain't spittin' harsh enough to cause her concern, I also know how Mama Bears get, and I know better than to piss a mother off, eh?"

Kijo stands, and with a nod of the head to the trainers gathered. "I'll be sure to come back for the bird," she says, with a quick wave to Becky, before heading out toward the Shiny Hunter's Shack.

---

"Nice to meet you, too!" Sela exclaims, waving a honeyed paw in goodbye.

"Hope you have a crackin' good time," Alsie adds, with a nod of the head.

Just as they say their goodbyes, Alsie and Sela witness the... hatching? Which turns out to be quite the unexpected trick! Alsie shakes her head and mutters something about that damned dark magic, while Sela looks on, wide-eyed.

"I wonder how that lady Zorua managed that... Oh, I simply MUST ask her to egg-splain!"

---

Blackwell and Naim's eyes light up at the offer to meet the rest of the band, the pair eager to meet the makers of such fine melodies. No sooner is the offer extended than DJ Skweekz and Sans appear on the scene, making their introductions. Both water types nod in agreement with Roxie's compliment on the Dedenne's new headwear.

"Hey, hey! Good to meet you both," Blackwell exclaims with a hop. "Naim's with Bedivere, yeah, but I'm with Kijo... You might not know her, since she kinda keeps to herself a lot. But Becky doesn't! You might have met her - she's one of my teammates. Oricorio-B. She loves to dance! I'm sure if she heard y'all rockin, she'd come over and bust a few moves with us... But right now, she's busy hangin' with her buddy Lavender. Y'all know her? She's a nice shade of purple, but that's all I know!"

"Purple is indeed a nice color," Naim agrees, before turning to Sans and DJ Skweekz. "Oh, I am ever so pleased that you all like your gifts! Bedivere and I made a number of trips and had a lot of help to prepare for our visit, and I'm ever so glad to see those efforts pay off! The happiness of others is truly the greatest delight to witness."

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Old 08-08-2022, 01:25 AM   #790
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~snip~
Clarisse nodded to Cursola as the pair made for the Dining Room. "Yeah, we actually wound up standing right in the midst of the Market when all was said and done. Made it easy to catch a boat home, at least!" the Ursaring remarked. She looked towards Amamu, but saw that a Lanturn and a pair of Qwilfish-one of which whose coloration was unlike anything she had ever seen-had appeared in the water nearby, through the apparent use of Teleport by one of them. Clarisse figured they had her teammate's transportation well in hand, and elected to proceed on her own.

Over in the water, Amamu quieted her nerves as Tetro and Hebenon made their way over, considering Pices' thoughts about the idea of Hebenon, the Qwilfish she was less familiar with, possibly being able to evolve. Before she could give much of an answer, however, the pair of Qwilfish and their Lanturn companion were making their introductions, Hebenon introducing himself as the father of Brighton and Tetro in turn.

"Greetings to you three as well. And I apologize, Tetro, but I only hatched recently...I'm afraid I'm not much for battle yet." she answered the Hisuian Qwilfish's request. "With that all said, we shouldn't keep the others waiting." she added.

As the Trainers present began making their way downstairs, Willa mentioned that a pair by the names of Terri and Laugh would be arriving shortly with another guest-and given that Keith indicated that they would be heard before they were seen, Catharine had a sneaking suspicion she knew who that additional guest was.

"Oh, is Gavin coming too? It's been a while since we last saw each other...and a couple of evolutions to boot, at this rate." she said. This was when Meowth insisted upon an introduction, notably in plain English, but with a certain manner of speaking that Catharine couldn't help but feel was familiar somehow, even if she couldn't place it. Meowstic, however, was not possessed of said ability.

"Hello to you too, Meowth, and to you, Meowstic." Catharine greeted with a wave to the pair.

Earthquake gave Maribel's Rotom Phone a half-lidded stare as it expressed its disbelief at the amount of soil that Larvitar supposedly ate.

"I'm going...for two." the Larvitar said simply, evidently quite serious, before joining Catharine at her direction. Gigabyte, excited to eat, was already headed downstairs, though he had clearly taken Catharine's directions to behave to heart after hearing that Gavin would be present, as he kept a far more sedate pace than normal.

Soon, all were gathered in the dining room, and Catharine was salivating at the aromas wafting through the vicinity, all of it promising a delightful meal to be had. She could see her various Pokémon scattered about the room. Gigabyte was putting his best paw forward, seated patiently by the table, though the way his front paws gently kneaded the floor betrayed his excitement. Earthquake stayed close by, though Catharine knew the smell of food had his undivided attention. Clarisse was just lumbering in, with a Ghost-Type resembling a Corsola following behind. Amamu had apparently been teleported in, and was chatting amongst a group of other aquatic Pokémon-notably, a Blue-Stripe Basculin. Catharine breathed a sigh of relief that it seemed the two were friends, despite their mismatched coloration. But that still left her scratching her head as to which of those Pokémon had been the Teleport user. She didn't think any of them were normally capable, but she did recall seeing it among the selection on her last shopping trip for TMs, so it could very well be any of them, she supposed. Bergeron had tentatively claimed a spot at the enormous table, but seemed to be looking around the room for something-or perhaps someone. She noticed Fortuna next to a Camerupt in a black hat, though Fortuna quickly beelined for Catharine once the two caught sight of each other.

Over with Amamu's group, the White-Stripe Basculin decided she would attempt to answer Pisces' earlier musings. "By the way, Hebenon, I know that Tetro will manage to evolve someday, but I'm not sure about you. How good are you with your Barb Barrage? Pisces says you're very strong, so I imagine you must be close." she asked.

Fortuna, for her part, was all business. Catharine, I believe I may have a theory as to the identities of our...adversaries." she said carefully, in a low voice. "I'll go into detail once we've some privacy to ourselves. This isn't a matter to be discussed lightly." she added.

Finally, Laura and Isabelle made their entrance. The former simply made her way to Catharine's shoulder, not built for carrying plates, but Isabelle was happily helping set the table. The sight of so much food only got everyone gathered all the hungrier, and Catharine took her seat by where Gigabyte was waiting.

"Did you two have fun?" Catharine asked her Farfetch'd.

"Sure did! I cut a bunch of onions, and didn't cry once!" Laura said, puffing out her chest. "Those burgers are real good, too. The bacon's White Smoked, and Isabelle used Mystical Fire to help with the patties." she added.

"Good to hear. I do hope Terri and Gavin arrive soon-I'm a half-step from drooling at the smell!" Catharine replied, with a hearty grin.
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Old 08-08-2022, 03:15 AM   #791
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Ysayle took the piece of paper Terri wrote her PokéGear number on and stuck it to the back of her head, which at first confused Keith, until he saw Ysayle blow cold air to reform her Ice Face. "Oh, that is cool," Keith remarked, sounding mildly impressed. All present shook Ysayle's flipper as she made to leave, and as she offered her complements to the chef, said chef took an overly deep bow. "YOUR PRAISE IS MOST APPRECIATED, YSAYLE!" Perform boomed. "PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COME BACK ANY TIME YOU SO DESIRE!"

With all said and done, the Eiscue departed, leaving Terri, her Pokémon, and the Masterses to finish their own food. "Nice Eiscue," Keith remarked as he finished up his own bowl of stew. "Her Trainer's certainly intrigued me, with Pokémon like that Eiscue and that Tyrantrum- seems like a real interesting bunch."

"Somehow I think Ysayle's Trainer would like you," Terri responded with her trademark mysterious smile.

"I do hope she visits again," Laugh remarked. "She's extremely talented with ice sculpture. Terri, I really must show you later, this bracelet she made, it's down in my workshop."

"Am I finally allowed to come down there, then, or are you still working on this big secret sculpture?" Terri asked, grinning.

"It's... still a work in progress," Laugh murmured, starting to blush. "I- you know I don't mean to keep you out of there forev-"

"I know," Terri nodded reassuringly. "I just can't wait to see it, you've been working on it for so long."

"I intend it to be a real masterpiece," Laugh stated. "I want every detail just right."

"Well, I have faith in you," Terri stated, putting an arm around her girlfriend. This elicited a smile from the Froslass, and little more was said until all present had eaten their fill, and goodbyes were being said. It had been quite the eventful evening for Terri, but for the most part it had all turned out well. P28's passing was still sad, but the knowledge that she would be reincarnated as a Ghost-type was there to soften the blow. They had saved lives, they were reuniting Trainers with Pokémon that had been missing for months, and XXXXX had even evolved into a Bronzong. Terri gave a contented smile as she and Laugh got into bed that night. Luna had shared with Terri her premonition before the latter had left for the Nightclub- Terri would make two new friends that day, one of whom was long believed to be dead. And damn if Luna wasn't right on the money again.


~~~~~

Bedivere confirmed that Marion had heard the same story as what Keith and Willa had related just now, when she called the Commander of the Nightwatch to complain about Oroitz. She was also informed that Oroitz's bitching did in no way represent the views of the rest of the Nightwatch; tht Minerva felt no spite or vengeance, but rather deepest regret for not being able to be present in Marion's life... and regret for all the pain she had caused Keith.

"...I forgive her," Keith murmured in response to this, a small smile on his face. "I mean, yeah... the ends justifying the means, I don't... like... I don't like that as a justification for everything, but even so, I can't deny, sometimes it does apply, and, well, I feel like this is one of those times. Sometimes you gotta do a little bad to do a lot of good, and what I have now, well, it's a lot of good," he chuckled. He nodded somberly as Bedivere expressed a wish that he could have been there for Minerva at what had to be one of her lowest points, but before further discussion could come of this, the Egg Bedivere had been carrying around seemed to start to hatch. "Oh, shit- let's get moving, Bedivere, if we get to my truck right now, we can make it to the Hatchery on time-"

This, however, was rendered a moot point as the Egg was unceremoniously replaced with a ghostly Zorua, who had clearly been masquerading as said Egg by way of Illusion. As she spoke to Bedivere, who had no trouble understanding, Keith produced his Pokédex, for this was a new one on him.

"Zorua- Hisuian Form- the Spiteful Fox Pokémon. A Normal and Ghost-type," droned the device. "A departed soul that returned to life in ancient Hisui. This form of Zorua derives power from feelings of resentment."

"I did not know Zorua had a Hisuian Form," Willa stated, eyeing the spectral fox curiously. "Seems every bit as skilled with illusions as a regular one, too."

"Indeed," Keith nodded.

"Alright, translation time," Meowth chimed in, "So dis here's Nadia, she says, and she's a former member o' da Lacunosa Nightwatch. Unit 28."

"Unit twent- wha- that's Minerva's unit!" Keith breathed.

"Keith, the log entries," Willa added. "Was there not a Nadia listed on there?"

"Yes!" Keith nodded. "Yeah, you're right, there was!"

"Nadia," Willa said, addressing the Zorua. "Considering you've been in Bedivere's bag for what I can only assume to be this whole time, I take it you've heard the entirety of our conversation thus far. If there is any further information you would feel comfortable contributing, we would greatly appreciate it."

"I second that," Keith nodded. "Hell, I third, fourth, and fifth it. Doesn't matter how long it's been- Minerva still matters a lot to me."

~~~~~

Maribel nodded seriously as Kijo not only confirmed she used to be in Team Rocket, but stated that that was nothing to be proud of, that Team Rocket as an organization had no honor whatsoever. "Mom and Dad taught me that much," she responded. "Aunt Helena, too- her especially, actually." Following this, she smiled. "I'm glad you're not with them anymore, though- I think you're a good person. And Mom always told me good people deserve a second chance in life."

With all that said and done, Kijo nodded by way of a farewell, stating she'd return to pick up her Oricorio, before taking her leave.

Off to the Shiny Hunter's Shack she went, and as she approached, the muffled sounds of commotion could be heard from within. Quick-paced footfalls, and the repeated sound of a Poké Ball's recall beam, punctuated with the occasional impish giggle of a highly amused Ambipom. "FUCKING DAMN IT, WES!" Gavin could be heard bellowing as Kijo neared the door.

~~~~~

Fred and George looked just as amazed by Nadia's entrance. "Well, that was un-egg-spected," remarked Fred.

"Egg-cellent job on the illusion," George added. "Peeves, Lil, and Chip can do illusions, but that was a whole other level right there."

Speaking of which, the family of Dusknoir and Duskull were still in the room, but for the moment were content to converse with Tom while Bedivere held his conversation with Keith and Willa. The Ghost-types were showing Tom a picture that was hanging on the wall- a beautiful painting that depicted a Normal Form Qwilfish striking an Origin Forme Giratina from behind with Ice Punch, set against the weird and wonderful backdrop of the Distortion World- and relating to him the story behind said painting.

~~~~~

Blackwell greeted Sans and DJ Skweekz, confirming that while Naim was with Bedivere, the Froakie belonged to Kijo, who also owned Becky, the Baile Style Oricorio who was friends with Lavender. "Oh, I know Lavender, alright," nodded Roxie. "Nice shade of purple, yeah, but also the pitch black eyes, bloodstained hands- nobody's dared to ask how her hands got like that," she shrugged. "Teammate of mine, though, and creepy as she is, she's a good friend," she stated.

Sans grinned at Naim's words. "yeah, you're with bedivere, alright. even sound like the guy. really must've had a lot of help, we were just saying earlier, in fact. the guy's gotta have psychic connections or something to know i was gonna haul my lazy back spikes in there when i did. again, not that i'm complaining," he grinned, once again holding up the joke book, before flipping it open to a random page. "heh. oh, i gotta remember that one," he muttered, before flipping the book shut.

"Yo, so, c'mon, if you wanna meet the rest, come with!" Roxie invited the guests, gesturing for them to follow her as she walked on over to the Normal Form Mr. Mime from earlier. She grabbed him in a sudden embrace and swung him around before kissing him and setting him back down. "Perform, these are those rockin' Water-types we saw in the audience earlier," she said. "Blackwell and Naim."

"INDEED!" boomed the Mr. Mime far more loudly than anyone would reasonably expect from a Mr. Mime. "OH, YES, I SAW THE TWO OF YOU ROCKING OUT TO OUR MUSIC EARLIER! AND BY THE HORNS OF XERNEAS, I LOVED WHAT I SAW!" he grinned. "IT IS AN ABSOLUTE PLEASURE TO MAKE YOUR ACQUAINTANCE, BLACKWELL AND NAIM! I AM PERFORM, THE LOUD MIME!" he introduced himself grandly, bowing deeply.


~~~~~

Cursola made her way to the dining room as well.

Tetro looked as though she wanted to argue the point with Amamu- she, after all, had been raring to go right out of the Egg herself. But she resisted the urge and nodded in response to the White-Striped Basculin's words, at which Hebenon nodded approvingly, before the group of fish made their way in for dinner as well.

Keith's eyes lit up somewhat as Catharine speculated on who else would be coming. "Oh, you've met Gavin?" he asked. "Wow, small world. I was actually talking about Terri's Mr. Mime, though Gavin did say he might swing by in any case- we left it an open invitation, we always make enough food for unexpected company. And the way some of our Pokémon can eat, leftovers never go to waste around here."

Hebenon listened to Amamu's question. "If truth be told, Amamu, I don't know Barb Barrage at all," he admitted. "My little girl's learned the move and is doing quite well with it, but any attempts on my part to learn it have consistently failed. It's not even a move I knew existed until relatively recently."

"Huh," Pisces murmured. "Well, shit. Maybe it's just Hisuian Qwilfish what can evolve, then," she speculated. "Amamu here apparently can evolve, but near as I can tell, I can't."

"Really?" Hebenon replied, sounding mildly surprised. "Hm. That may well be the case. I don't think I would mind if I didn't evolve, if I'm being honest- I've always done well in this form- but I know Tetro's intent on evolving. I suppose all I can do at this point is keep trying to help my girl out, and keep trying to learn Barb Barrage myself," he said.

Keith had led the others into the dining room as well, just as a ringtone sounded from the large TV mounted on the wall. "Oh- maybe that's Gav now," Keith remarked, walking over, grabbing a remote control as he went, and pressing a button on this. This cause video feed of a woman who looked to be roughly Willa's age, if not a little older, to display on the screen. "Oh- hi, Sandy," Keith said. "Eddie's staying for dinner, I hope that doesn't conflict with anything you had planned?"

"Oh, not at all," replied Sandy Starmie. "Robert's told me that might well be the case, and in point of fact, I wanted to ask you a favor, Keith- could ZZLZZ also eat with you? She wanted to go and visit Maribel when we got back from shopping, so she's on her way now anyway, and I was thinking this could be a chance for me and Robert to have a dinner that's just, you know..."

Keith nodded understandingly. "Couples need moments like that," he stated. "Believe me, Willa and I both get it. She's more than welcome, Sandy. No imposition at all."

"Oh, thank you so much, Keith," smiled Sandy. "Oh, and Eddie, don't forget to eat all your vegetables-"

"Oh my X-x, Mom," groaned Eddie, burying his face in his hands.

"Just teasing, sweetie," grinned Sandy. "See you and ZZLZZ later, bye-bye!" And with that, the call cut out.

"...So, that's my mother," Eddie said to Catharine. "And from the sound of things, my sister will be here soon as well."

"...and from the sound of things, Terri, Laugh, and Perform are here now," Keith grinned, as the sound of a motorcycle engine could be heard from outside. "Peeves, if you could-" he began to call out.

"On it," interrupted Peeves, the Dusknoir sticking his head through the wall to respond, before withdrawing it. The double doors could be heard opening, and the sound of the motorcycle could be heard all the clearer. Keith and Willa both worked to get everyone to back away from the dining room door and the space in front of it, and the reason why soon became apparent as the door was flung open, and a Normal Form Mr. Mime came riding in on what seemed to be absolutely nothing, though the posture and especially the noise heavily insinuated a motorcycle. Sitting beside him, as though in an invisible sidecar, were a small teenage girl with jet-black hair, as well as a Froslass. The latter took the former's hand and floated them both out of said invisible sidecar just as the Mr. Mime jumped clear. Though nothing seemed to happen visually, the motorcycle sounds continued onward towards the wall, only to be stopped abruptly by the sounds (and thankfully only the sounds) of a fiery explosion. As this died down, the Mr. Mime took a deep bow to scattered applause.

"THANK YOU! THANK YOU!" he bellowed. "YOU ARE FAR TOO KIND TO THIS LOUD MIME!"

"Hi, Keith, Willa, Maribel, Eddie," Terri greeted the Masterses and the visiting cryptopokologist. "Hope we're not late."

"Not at all, Terri," Keith shook his head. "Dinner's gonna be served in just a few minutes. We're still waiting on ZZLZZ- Sandy just called, said she'll be here soon."

"Oh, yeah, I saw her outside," nodded the Froslass, speaking perfect human language. "I saw Gavin walking this way as well."

"Oh, so he is coming!" Keith nodded. "Good, good, the more the merrier. Ah, yes- Terri, Laugh, this is Catharine Park, she had gone to Eddie's lab earlier, and the two of them are gonna be eating with us tonight."

"Pleased to meet you, Catharine," said Terri. "I'm Terri Alph, and this is my girlfriend, Laugh," she said, introducing herself and the Froslass respectively, the both of them offering handshakes.

"What business brought you to Eddie's lab?" Laugh asked curiously.

"AND I," boomed Perform, stepping forward and shaking Catharine's hand with both of his own, "AM PERFORM, THE LOUD MIME! AN ABSOLUTE AND EMPHATIC PLEASURE TO MAKE YOUR ACQUAINTANCE, CATHARINE!"
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Old Yesterday, 07:22 PM   #792
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Nadia clears her throat after Meowth translates for her, her voice switching seamlessly to perfect, human English, in the voice similar to the one P28 often used to imitate her human namesake. "I appreciate it, Meowth, but please allow me to make this easier for you."

The ghostly Zorua nods in response to Willa's assumption that the fox had been in Bedivere's bag the whole time, and that she's been listening in. "Well, that you seem to recognize my name saves me a lot of explanation, and I would be more than happy to share what I know with you, but..." The little fox's eyes narrow as she hops toward Keith, the flames of resentment flickering in her eyes. "I don't want to hear another word about how you wish you could've been there. You don't. You really, really don't. If you and your wife have read the logs I think you've read, certain parts are redacted for. a. fucking. reason."

Nadia takes a step back, and her impish grin returns in full. "But, that's all in the past, you know? Minerva's doing a lot better now. You don't have to take my word for it, though... The Commander's wife used to always say you could judge a trainer by their Pokémon, and I think there's wisdom in that. Perhaps you'd like to know a bit more about them? At the Casino, you likely met Minerva's starter, Sister Bia - the brilliant Bewear extraordinaire, and her grumpy sidekick, Oroitz. They've been taking care of Minerva since about six months after the Love Teller incident, and for a long time, they were all the Pokemon Minerva had... But her team has grown quite a bit since. In fact, you probably know more of Minerva's Pokémon than you realize..." Nadia gives the Masters couple a knowing wink.

---

Little Roseo waves a gloved paw to Maribel before running off after his Trainer, seeming touched by the quote of her mother's that she recited about good people deserving a second chance. If Kijo and Calla were impacted by it, neither showed it - but perhaps that was just how they were.

Kijo chuckles at the sounds that greet her at the Shiny Hunter's doorstep. Calla and Roseo scurry over to the window, both peering inside with great interest. The ex-Rocket, meanwhile, knocks on the door with her bear-like strength, though with enough control to at least prevent her knuckles from leaving a mark.

"OI! The FUCK's goin' on?" Kijo shouts, in a boisterous, yet warmhearted tone. "Y'all monkeying around in there?"

---

"Truly? You are acquainted with illusionists?" Sela's eyes gleam with intrigue. "Do you think they would mind displaying their skills for us?"

"Asking others to perform illusions for you, Sela? Eye can't believe it!" Alsie snickers, though she turns to the Duskull family with a wary gaze.

Meanwhile, Becky and Leith, who both had remained in the Living Area with Lavender, seem enthralled by the fascinating painting, and the story behind it.

Wicked, Becky murmurs, clearly impressed.

---

"Oh, I'm sure she's a great friend! My hands were bloodstained once, too, you know," Blackwell comments, his eyes momentarily widening and emptying, before returning to their usual focus. "Anyway, I keep my hands clean now!"

"There is much to be said for good sanitary habits," Naim adds, grinning. "Perhaps when next we consult Sir Bedivere's myriad of strange acquaintances, we shall ask them for some particularly good-smelling soap."

"Music to my nose!" Blackwell replies eagerly, before the pair head off to meet the fascinatingly loud mime. Though the greeting he gives is far louder than one would expect, the pair of water types seem to take it in stride.

"Hey, hey! Pleasure to meet you! Never met a loud mime before, but I dig it! Name's Blackwell, and my large-n-in-charge companion is Naim!"

"Indeed, allow me to emphatically echo Blackwell's sentiments," Naim adds. "Such a commanding voice you have! Really quite impressive."
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Old Yesterday, 08:42 PM   #793
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Nadia made things easier on Meowth by switching to human language, and while she stated she'd be happy to share what she knew, she maintained in the process that she didn't want to hear so much as another word from Keith about how he wished he could be there for Minerva. Apparently, no, he didn't. The redacted parts of those logs were redacted for a reason. That much Keith wasn't about to argue with, and indeed he said nothing to argue the point further, deciding there would be little good in pressing this issue, but inside he still believed that if he could have done more to help Minerva, then he should have. He'd accepted by now there was nothing he could've realistically done, of course, but that didn't make said inability any easier to swallow.

Indeed, Nadia's grin returned as she stated all of that to be in the past, and Keith decided on the spot to allow it to remain there. He nodded, smiling as Nadia stated Minerva was doing a lot better these days. "I'm happy to hear it," he said. Then, he listened as Nadia described two of Minerva's Pokémon- Bia the Bewear, and Oroitz the Honchkrow. "Yeah, we, uh, we briefly saw them both," Keith chuckled. "It, uh, wasn't something we're likely to forget."

"Indeed," Willa agreed.

Then, however, Nadia insinuated that the Masterses might know more of Minerva's Pokémon than they even realized, which got the couple pondering. Until Willa's eyes widened in realization, anyway. "...does she have a Tyrantrum and an Eiscue?" she asked."

'Wait, you think they-" began Keith.

"It would fit, wouldn't it?" shrugged Willa. "Terri had promised to keep their Trainer's identity secret, and if Minerva didn't want her presence known..."

"I guess that would make sense," Keith nodded. "Well, yeah, if you can judge a Trainer by their Pokémon, I'd be willing to bet Minerva's doing fine, if those are really hers," he stated. "The Tyrantrum kinda... dented our front door trying to knock on it, but was super nice and apologetic about it, we couldn't even be mad. And the Eiscue was nice, too," he nodded. "Ysayle, her name was, yeah?"

"I believe so," Willa nodded. "Laugh showed us that ice bracelet Ysayle had made her, I was very impressed."

"So, are we right, though, are those Minerva's Pokémon?" Keith asked Nadia, making the decision to establish whether they were on the right track before they went any further down it.

Meanwhile, a Weavile with brown fur and pale blue feathers made his way into the living room, and headed right towards the Hisuian Sneasel curled up in the corner. At the same time, a Mightyena with an ice-and-snow look to her fur walked in, sniffing curiously, a Banette seated on her back. The Mightyena turned and tilted her head at the sight of Bedivere, and Myrtle's eyes lit up. She encouraged her friend to walk over to the drowned-looking man. "Hel-lo, Bed-i-vere," Myrtle grinned. "It's good to see you a-gain. This is Nox-ie," she added, indicating the Mightyena below her.

"Hello," Noxie chimed in, head still tilted, nose still sniffing, seemingly uncertain what to think just yet.

~~~~~

"Hey, if you ask, they'll probably be cool with it," Fred replied. "Good people, the whole family. I'd even call them a... sight for sore eyes!"

Meanwhile, Becky, Leith, and Lavender were all paying attention to the story behind the painting depicting Keith and his Qwilfish fighting Giratina in the Distortion World. "Oh, yes," Lavender remarked in response to Becky's murmuring. "It was all before my time, but oh, did I ever get a good look when I'd eat its dreams," she grinned. "Never got to see the whole thing, of course- it tended to be quite rude, waking up in the middle of my snack, and before I could eat enough bits and pieces to be able to piece together the entire battle, Chromium came in, as she does, and it asked her to see if Keith would get me out of there." She giggled creepily. "Quite entertaining to eavesdrop upon, too- trying so hard to stay stoic and imposing, but there was that constant undertone of desperation it couldn't quite quash," she smirked. "And judging by what I'd seen by eating Giratina's dreams, the notion of meeting this Keith myself was... intriguing."

~~~~~

The pair of Dark-types looking through the window would see a blond man chasing an Ambipom around, holding a Nest Ball in one hand, continuously trying and failing to withdraw said Ambipom, who was giggling impishly as he evaded the recall beam. Several Shiny Pokémon were hanging around, nonchalantly watching the proceedings as though this was a regular occurrence. Some sort of small device was clutched in one of the Ambipom's tail hands.

As Kijo knocked, all activity ceased within as both man and Ambipom turned to face the door. "Heh, wait a sec, I know that voice," Gavin chuckled, walking over and then pulling the door open, grinning as he saw who was there. "Kijo!" he exclaimed. "Holy shit, how long's it been?!" As he said this, he deftly reached out with his free hand and swiped the device from the tail hand of the nearby Ambipom, who was distracted by the unexpected visitor. Gavin took a moment to slide open his Poké Rader, nodded his satisfaction that it was still in good working order, at which point he slid it shut and clipped it back onto his belt. "Well, come in, come in," he said, stepping aside to invite Kijo into his home.

~~~~~

Roxie chuckled. "Oh, bunch of us have tried washing the bloodstains out of Lav's hands," she said. "Not only does it never work, but she resists every attempt, violently. Speaking of, also maybe never mention Moon Stones around her. She does not want to evolve, and if she thinks she has to, she will make sure you know it." The Toxtricity chuckled again. "I make her sound like a total nut, but honestly she's more chill than you'd think if you just steer clear of doing things like that."

Perform smiled widely and bowed deeply at Naim and Blackwell's greetings. "WHY, THANK YOU!" the Normal Form Mr. Mime responded. "INDEED, I AM, TO MY KNOWLEDGE, THE FIRST AND ONLY LOUD MIME, BUT, IT IS MY GREATEST WISH THAT OTHER LIKE-MINDED MIMES FOLLOW IN MY FOOTSTEPS!"

Roxie put an arm around her man. "Dude's got nothing against quiet mimes," she explained. "Just so long as they ain't clamming up because they think they gotta."

"WELL SAID, MY LOVE!" beamed Perform. "I OWE ROXIE HERE EVERYTHING FOR SHOWING ME HOW MUCH FUN IT IS TO MAKE SOME NOISE!"

"We've known each other since we were baby mons," chimed in Roxie. "Evolved simultaneously and everything."
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