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Pokemon: Mind and Soul (Retry) [IC / PG / Probably Not Accepting / Co-Hosted by Skaia]

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Team JAA/AJA/AAJ

“I'll... get out of your hair then, ma’am,”

Anneliese leaned in towards Anima as the girl backed off. "Excuse me but is there something the matter?" She asked. "Did this woman cast some sort of spell? You seemed to be having trouble with speaking properly..."

The girl's attention kept being torn from concern over Anima to curiosity of what the woman and Jacklyn were talking about. Eventually though Jacklyn asked something that drew the girl's attention and she stepped closer.

"well, uh, what's a 'professor' then?"

This, too, was something she was wondering. She had heard the term, and had met Sinnoh's professor, as well as the young woman who was meant to eventually take his place when he retired, but he didn't actually know what it was that they did.

This woman seemed as confused by the question as Jacklyn was asking it. "Huh? I...wait really? Can't believe I'm explaining...well, whatever. We research Pokemon. Usually with some specific focus in mind. For the record mine was the culture of Pokemon. But really that's just a fancy way to differentiate between us in general we all do more or less the same things...well, we're supposed to. For instance I raised the Pokemon used to give to trainers starting out and made sure that the Pokedex was updated for this region." She sighed. "Pain in the neck that was, computers are such a hassle..."

She paused as she glanced at Anneliese. "What is it? You look like you've got something to say."

"Oh, well it's just...." Anneliese blushed a little. "I suppose I am simply surprised. I thought outcasts were all short bearded old men or gruff woodcutters or wicked witches with pointed noses and weirdly colored skin..."

The professor stared at Anneliese for a few moments before simply replying, "huh?"

Spoiler

Feel free to talk as much or little to the professor as you want and figure out where you'd wanna go/what you wanna do next


Team QN

“We will keep an eye out for Team Phoenix. But if the champion is missing, how can Pokémon challenges be completed? I would hate for my and Nathaniel’s journey to be cut off so soon.”

"Oh sorry did I worry you! No no that's not it at all. See, our Champion used to go around making sure things were running right and without them, well, things are a lot more hectic these days. But the league still goes on. It just operates like it did when choosing the first champion I suppose. I don't know all the details, never been much for gyms and the like, but if you can beat the Elite Four you can have a crack at becoming the new Champion. Boy, wouldn't that be something. Someone I met at the start of their journey becoming a Champion...." The young man's mind seemed to drift for a bit before an alarm went off.

"Oh! That's right, breakfast, don't want that to burn especially not after you two went outta your way to help. I'll get that set up right quick and you can ask me whatever you want." He glanced outside and shook his head. "I'll have to pack up some for Bobby, he's probably not gonna stop till he's fixed everything that got broke..."

Spoiler

Food! It'll be a standard, if exceedingly large, breakfast. Feel free to ask Billy whatever you want including about the grunt you chased off and the things they stole.

Try and figure out how much more you want to do in the city before moving on so can work out when to introduce Yui's character.

 

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In any other situation, Anima might have felt bad… No, that wasn’t correct. In any other situation, Anima would have felt bad; she would have felt like Jacklyn had overstepped her boundaries, or that Anneliese had gone a bit too far, even if it was only driven by ignorance. Yes, in any other situation, on any other day, Anima would have liked to think that she would have scolded Anneliese, or tried to apologize for her; but perhaps today, and the day before it, had simply just been so weird that her morals were slipping.

She didn’t go so far as to chide, harass, or continue the bullying, of course. It wasn’t as if she desperately wanted to point out that the old woman in front of them could certainly have filled the outcast role on her own, and that she didn’t need to stick to any labels; or that she very well could have been some sort of wicked witch, given her personality. She certainly hadn’t already thought of several other insults hidden behind flattery as well, given how wise the professor must have been in her myriad fields, given that wisdom does come with age.

No, no, instead, she simply sighed, rubbed awkwardly at her neck, and… Spoke up, suddenly feeling somewhat bad for letting the girls loose so easily.

“Er… Well, regardless,” Anima tried to push past the naive-insult that Anneliese had accidentally stumbled into, as she spoke; neither apologizing for it either. “If you put together the PokeDex information for this region, um…” she trailed off, closing her eyes. She needed to move the conversation along before they got bogged down-- And so, she made for the first question which came to mind. “...I have an interest in ghost-type Pokémon,” she explained, squeezing Confi tightly, as if to punctuate the comment with one of Confi’s disgruntled chirrups. “Do you… know of any that may be able to be found, or seen nearby?” she’d ask, tilting her head idly to the side as she spoke.

"Hm?" The professor looked over to Anima, then down at Confi. "Ahh..." Suddenly she walked away from the door. There's noises inside of ruffling paper and things being knocked over. Then she walked out, winced at the sun again, and pushed a stack of papers at Anima. "There's some notes there."

"Thank you," Anima smiled; as happy to have gotten answers, as she was to have, hopefully, defused the situation. "I'll... Er..." she trailed off, glancing blankly at the other two for a moment. "I can't speak for the others, but, I'll get out of your hair now-- Thank you again," she gave a slight bow as she took the papers, and began to back away from the house. She only paused to look back up, as she heard a slight rustling.

“Here,” the professor called out, before nonchalantly tossing a Dusk-Ball her way; which Anima lost no time in catching in the same mess of jumbled items she held both Confi and the papers in.

“Thank you…!” she gave another, more sincere bow this time, before briefly wondering if the others would follow... And resolving that, ultimately, they surely would eventually as she retreated towards the center of the town. It was only once she found a suitable spot, that she plopped Confi down onto the ground, and put the Dusk-Ball with the rest of her trainer-stuffs in her backpack, before finally rifling through the papers with… More interest than she would have liked to admit; though, she had to be careful given the fact that many of these papers felt… Old, as if they had been printed out, or written on ages ago.

Still, for the most part, they were… Actually what she expected from the professor, in contrast to the rest of the woman. “...I see…” she trailed off, reading them very closely as she began to wiggle slightly from side to side. “...It’s theorized that their knack for scaring people comes mostly as a defense mechanism,” she read the words with a slight nod. “Though others instead have seemed to come to enjoy it, it is rarely ever done out of malice, but rather as a way to cement themselves as being,” she continued. “Ooh, now this is interesting…” she cocked her head to the side, trailing under the words as she spoke. “For further research, I’ve listed some locations that may be of interest due to ghost-sightings…” she trailed off, taking note of the locations… And then continuing to read on to the next page.

“Are Ghost Types truly the Dead Returning to Us, or are they Species of Ethereal Beings That Simply Resemble What We Imagine the Dead to Be? Or, How I Stopped Worrying, and Learned to Love the Ghost Type…” she trailed off. “...What a terrible essay name. I have to read this now…” she trailed off; deciding it was interesting enough that she wouldn’t even question why, along with a flurry of actual research notes, answers, and information, she had been handed several printed-scientific papers on the matter of ghost-types as well.

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Jacklyn, pouting as she had attempted to reverse the conversation with a childish "no you" style of question, found herself more interested as the professor had explained just what her profession had actually entailed. The girl cleared her throat as she bashfully said, "well, I guess a professor is pretty cool then." As Jacklyn was about to ask something, curiosity coming over her, she had stopped as Anneliese's comment had caused a similar dumbfounded expression to cross her face as she let out a, "huh?" Staring at Anneliese, getting ready to say something, the girl looked back over to Anima as she kept conversing with the professor. Composing herself once their conversation had ended,  and her curiosity now in focus the girl asked, "does a professor go out and explore to find out about stuff about pokemon?"

The woman's gaze flicked downward for a moment. Then she responded. "Suppose some do."

"And you raise pokemon too, so...does that mean professors are also trainers?"

She groaned. "I guess someone could say that..."

"So...does that mean..." Jacklyn trailed off, pondering what she had heard until she realized the evidence could only point towards one conclusion. Stepping closer, she looked up directly into the professor's face with starry eyes and an incredibly joyous expression. "A professor is like a professional adventurer!?" 

A look of horror crossed her face as she took a step back. "How did you come to that conclusion?" she asked.

Jacklyn, seemingly ignoring the ladies horror, said, "oh man, that sounds so awesome. Rus, why didn't you tell me you had such a cool mom!" 

The Lepash let out an embarrassed sigh as the girl went off. 

Then, realizing what the woman had said though still ignoring her expression about it, Jacklyn said, "well, you go explore places. You train and battle with pokemon. You get to see all sorts of cool stuff and pokemon too. So that's basically an adventurer!"

"I..." she looked over towards Anneliese as if asking for help. Only to find the girl looking wide-eyed and nodding along with Jacklyn. She sighed. "Are all kids so...imaginative these days? It's too early for this sort of thing..."

"Hm, I thought we were already well into the morning." Jacklyn looked up to the sky before saying, "oh, we should probably get to exploring more though." Smiling she said, "thanks for teaching me about a cool job that's out there Professor, oh and thanks a lot for raising Rus too! I still don't really know what you meant by "what's being his trainer" or something, but I'll do my best to figure it out!"

"Yeah...you do that..." at first she seemed she was just going to close the door then she paused. "Oh what the heck, here." She then handed Jacklyn what looked like a bell.

The girl looked curiously at the bell, moving it around a bit in her hand. "Oooh, thanks...what is it?" As she asked, the professor then instructed her to look at the "item dex" portion of her pokedex. Bringing it out the girl used it on the bell to find that it was something called a "Soothe Bell" that supposedly amplified feelings of friendship and fostered bonds between trainers and their pokemon. "Whoa, so something like this exists huh?" The girl put it in her pocket before saying, "thanks a lot professor! I'll be sure to put it on Rus next time we rest...or maybe Cherry would like it? Hmmm...well, I'm sure it'll look cute on either of them, so thanks again! See you again sometime!" Though she had no idea when that would be.

As she began to walk off to meet back up with Anima, Jacklyn said, "man, she was really cool...oh! Right, Anneliese. About what you said," remembering the thing that had halted her train of thought not minutes ago. "Outcasts don't have to be just witches or lumberjacks, anyone could be an outcast no matter what they do or look like." The girl frowned for a moment as she looked off back to the house and muttered, "like even a professional adventurer..." Clearing her throat she said, "so there's nothing wrong or weird about a person being an outcast. Got it?" 

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Nathan had welcomed the distraction of the morning, as terrible as it had been. He was happy that they had stopped the thief from getting away with the egg too. It normally would have left him on cloud nine to have been so useful and to have stopped a real life bad guy. All of it was dampened by the absence of their other—former—teammate, though, a bitter taste in his mouth that the boxer seemed unable to wash away.

He and Belle hadn’t been close… but she was his first friend he had made on the boat. He had mistakenly thought they would become fast friends by the end of their journey. That’s how all the stories showed it was supposed to go; unlikely pairs that somehow stayed together and came out on top of the world. People threatened to quit, they got close for drama, but they always stayed. Except Belle had left. She had left and Nate knew there was nothing that he could do to change that. Life wasn’t a television show and it wasn’t even his place to chase after her. Hell, Nate could admit to himself that he really barely knew the girl beyond a day of travel. He had just… Well, he thought it would be different, that was all.

Nate never imagined his journey would start on such a sad note. Maybe his parents were right. Maybe he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Nate reached for the Poké Ball on his belt and pressed a button to release Peat. The sea-bear cub appeared in a flash of light, snoring noisily, but he perked up immediately when he saw Nate in front of him and growled out an affectionate greeting. “Hey,” Nate said, kneeling down to scratch him beneath the chin. Peat purred. “We’re gonna do some morning training, bud. Just like on the ship. Okay?” The bear cub clapped his flippers together and assumed a battle-ready stance.

Nate turned toward Quinn and Billy. “Is it alright if we do this here?” Nate fished the training pads he put over his hands out of his bag to show them. “I just have him hit pads to warm up in the morning. I figured I can just listen, while you two talk. I’m not… I’m not really in a super talkative mood.”

He beamed at Quinn with a smile that was just a bit too bright. “Great job this morning though! I saw you out there, you were awesome!” 
 

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Quinn was grateful for the food. It was not good to have done so much already without proper nourishment. The same went for Cassiopeia and Normandie, of course. Quinn made sure to keep them in mind. There were a few other things to keep in mind as well given the circumstances. As Billy finished laying out a handsome breakfast with more assorted options than Quinn could count, the first thing thon did was take a plate, load it with all sorts of sweet goodies, and place it to the side. It stood there for a moment of reflection. “To absent friends,” she said. “And, of course, the house spirit.”

Then Quinn grabbed another plate and used it to carry two pieces of white bread and some butter to the table. It was enough for zir.

Billy’s musings still lingered in the air as Quinn ate breakfast. They just had to respond to some of them. “I am trying not to set my ambitions too high,” Quinn said, “especially not this early into the adventure. Truth be told, I would be happy with an adventure by itself, with or without a gymnasium program to give it structure. Cassiopeia and I will do our best, though, and Normandie and any other Pokémon we encounter along the way as repayment for your kindness. However, be warned I have some stiff competition in Nathaniel over there.”

Billy laughed as he looked Nathaniel up and down. “You do look like a tough customer,” he said. After a few more chews, he added. “Well, I don’t know much about adventuring, but way I figure it, you could always aim for a big goal, and if you find you don’t want to anymore, well, nobody will get hurt if you stop.”

“Perhaps,” Quinn said. “But I would not want to wander the afterlife wondering if I could have done more. I would rather my dreams be constantly just ahead of my abilities instead of way off in the distance. One step at a time.

“Speaking of which, we are headed down Route One Oh Two today, to the next town over. Is there anything you believe we should be on the lookout for?”

The first response was a shrug. “Not much to say about it,” Billy said. “There’s a spot that’s pretty marshy, so be careful if you just got normal shoes. Heard there was a pretty tough Pokemon somewhere around there but that might just be a rumor.”

“Are not all Pokémon ‘pretty tough’ with proper training?” Quinn asked.

That got Billy’s attention more than anything else Quinn had said. He leaned far forward in his chair, his eyes gleaming. “I agree!” Billy said. “With love and care, any Pokémon can be tough!” He seemed to realize he was looming over the table, though, and returned to his normal posture. “But what I mean is supposedly there’s a wild Pokémon that’s a lot stronger than it should be for this area.”

“I see,” Quinn said. E looked down at his entirely light clothing and, as Billy put it, “normal shoes” and hoped that the next town had a very good laundry service on offer. At the same time, the idea of a Pokémon worth spreading rumors about was an interesting prospect.

Quinn finished its breakfast quickly. It was difficult to not eat lightly toasted bread and butter quickly. Quinn put zir dishes in the sink and stepped outside. In hir bag was a spooled wire. It looked like a kite wire without the kite because that was what it was. Quinn had snipped the kite off early in her relationship with Cassiopeia for this very purpose. Drifloons fed on the wind currents of the upper atmosphere. The cord was so that Cassiopeia could let Quinn know when she was done.

They were doing okay, supply-wise. Maybe they could get some more berries just in case. Quinn tossed out Normandie and offered her a few of what she had. The Rattfian snatched them up right quick, gobbled them down, and glared at Quinn as though expecting more. “Later, I promise,” Quinn said. The signs in the sky were right, and Route One Oh Two lay ahead.

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Whuff. Whuff. Whuff. A hiss of exhaled air came alongside every flipper-smack that Peat delivered to the pads. Nate was pleased to see that the little cub was starting to get his breathing under control. It was one of the first things any fighter learned; human or Pokémon, Fighting or Psychic type, breathing control was crucial to being successful in battle. 

Nate angled the pads toward the ground to signal for Peat to pause. A flipper froze mid-air, just before it would have struck the trainer’s arm. “Good job,” Nate whispered to Peat quiet enough to not interrupt the conversation going on nearby. “You’re really getting the hang of those breathing techniques I showed you. I can feel the difference in your hits. Plus, look!” He ruffled Peat’s furry head. “You aren’t even winded, bud. See how big a difference it makes? Remember—A.B.S. Always breathe, silly.” It actually stood for always breathe, stupid, but Nate had softened the tone for his partner.

He would never agree with his dad. Kindness had a place in training. 

Peat barked happily and charged forward to tackle him. Nate managed to keep his knees from buckling, but he stumbled backwards. “Whoa!” he giggled, scratching Peat under the chin. “Wish everyone got this excited about training.”

Nate congratulated and praised Peat for another minute before he returned him to his Poké Ball and made his way over to the table. Quinn and Billy were discussing the day's events. He had been listening off-handedly during his training, but now, he felt like a great weight had lifted off his shoulders. “Didja say there had been rumors about a really strong Pokémon on Route One Oh Two?” Nate asked after hastily washing two pieces of toast with a whole glass of orange juice. His notebook had appeared in his hand out of nowhere. “What kind of rumors? Where exactly? Did any of that mention what the Pokémon looked like?” 

Billy rubbed at his chin like it was a magic lamp he was trying to coax the answers out of. “Well that spot of marshy area I mentioned? Seems some folk encountered something stronger than normal around there. Dunno exactly what it was but I remember hearing something about Pokemon being put to sleep. Course not everyone passing through saw it so either it's nothin’ or there's more to it than simply passin’ by."

Nate frantically scribbled all of the information down in his notebook. “Gotcha. Thanks. I’mma look for it and see if I can catch it. I gotta get more teammates if I wanna compete with Quinn to be champion!”

He shoved his training pad and his notebook back into his backpack. “Right, well, guess we’ll be heading out! Thanks again for the hospitality. I—oh crap. I totally forgot!” Nate reached down to his waist and snatched the extra PokéBall the thief had bounced off his head. “There’s someone’s Pokémon inside this. The guy hit me in the head with it before he ran off. Any idea what I should do with it? Should I leave it with you guys?”

Billy took the ball from him to inspect it. He rubbed at his chin again, thought for a minute, then released the Pokémon inside of it. A small orange bug-like creature with gigantic jaws appeared in a flash of red light. It immediately started trying to bite the nearest structure, but thankfully Billy was quick to recall it. “Well. That’s a trapinch in there. Don’t see too many of those around these parts, so I remember when we do. Someone stayed here recently with one. I think she said she was headed for Route One Oh Two when I talked with her. Maybe you could return it to her, since you’re headed that way?”

Nate nodded and clipped the ball back onto his belt. “Leave it to me. We’ll find her.” He threw his bag over his shoulder and looked over to Quinn. “I’m all set. Ready to hit the road?”
 

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Team JAA/AJA/AAJ

Professor Cedar looked over at Anneliese with a resigned expression. Having expected the girl to, like her companions, also have more to ask her. However as the girl was quite literally pulled away from the house by Jacklyn all that happened was Anneliese waved at her. "It was nice to meet you! I hope you are able to get out onto the grass more!"

When they met back up with Anima the girl was reading something that the professor had given her. After Jacklyn spoke to her Anneliese followed it up with, "Oh did you get a new book? It seems to be missing a cover though...is that how books are for people who can't afford the whole thing?"

"so there's nothing wrong or weird about a person being an outcast. Got it?" 

After Jacklyn explained the intricacies of outcastism to Anneliese she nodded along. "I understand now. Thank you for teaching me this lesson. Outcast is not a negative trait, I would never have guessed from the way my parents friends spoke of them!"

She grew silent as they made their way through the small town. The daycare off to the side drew one's eye, especially as there was a man out there seemingly chasing after some Pokemon that had stolen his hammer. However if they continued on past it it would be only a couple minutes before they saw the exit of the town and the start of the next route.

Before they got there however Anneliese had one more question for the two of them. "Jacklyn, Anima...are you two perhaps outcasts as well?"


Team QN

As the duo, hearts slightly heavier at the loss of a companion, bellies full of breakfast, and in one case pockets slightly fuller with a stolen Pokemon in tow, left the town they would quickly find themselves on route 102.

It was around the same length as route 101 however the road did seem to curve more than the previous. Despite the warning of the marshy ground it seemed that most of the route was fine. In fact it resembled the previous in terrain very closely. However at around the halfway point there would be seen a large marshy area where the route split in two around it. The center of said area was home to a large stone statue.

Notably as they took their first steps onto the route they would find that it was quite windy. Perhaps it just happened to be a windier day or perhaps the area itself was more prone to high winds. Whatever the case a certain balloon Pokemon would have to pay more attention than usual to avoid being blown off course.

However before they could truly begin their journey down this route they would see something else.

A girl coming from the opposite direction they were who seemed to be heading straight for them.

Spoiler

Who is this mysterious person? Find out soon! (Or it better be soon....)

Anyway here's the preliminary info, more will be given on the statue once a group actually reaches it.

102.
Description: A more curved route, especially near the center, where the route splits around a large stone statue, with a bit of a marshy center. Area leading up to the center is a bit windy.
Major areas: Stone Statue.

Trainers: Several Youngsters and Lasses with common Pokemon.
Encounters: Grass. Hoppip, 15%. Bellsprout, 15%. Rattata, 25%. Watchhog, 10%. Starly, 20%. Bounsweet, 15%.
Marsh/Statue. Poliwag, 35%. Inkay, 25%. Ducklett, 10%. Bidoof, 30%.

 

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Maybe coming here was a mistake.

Over the last couple days, Bridget had been put through the wringer and then some. After a rather uneventful landing at Korova, things went smoothly at first. Then everything went down the gutter the moment some thug stole her Trapinch! Arthur wasn't just some random creature found out in the streets; he was a gift entrusted to her for this journey! Naturally, she wanted to get him back, and the small group she'd caught a ride with were willing to help. The entire day was spent trying and failing to track him down, then having trouble sleeping because she was worried sick not just about what could be happening to Arthur, but what the faculty might say or do if they found out she let him get stolen so soon after arriving. Which brought her to this morning, and the reason she was trudging her way back the way she came.

Simply put, she was being left behind.

Bridget wanted to stay longer to track down Arthur's kidnapper. Her teammates had offered to catch a replacement pokémon for her instead - an offer she refused - but they were "not going to miss the ferry to help rescue him." Out her only pokémon, and with it any promising prospects of catching a new one, as well as the very people who were supposed to help each other in situations like this, Bridget was doing the only thing she could think to do. Turn around, and go home. As she proceeded on the somewhat windy walk back across Route 102, she'd been making one last-ditch attempt to at least get leads on her assailant, grasping at whatever last threads of hope for this adventure that she could. Up ahead on the path were two youths, probably on their way to the next town over.

Worth a shot, I guess.

"'Scuse me!" Bridget called out to the incoming pair. "You lot seen any shady individuals 'round here? 'Bout so-and-so tall, long red 'air, jacket wiv a bird on the back, maybe bit of an attitude? 'E took my pokémon, and I can't find any leads on the fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-- the fug who did it."

Should mind my language around younger people, especially if I don't know them.

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Anima had only gotten through the first of the journal articles when Jacklyn and Anneliese had arrived; though she hadn’t actually tuned back into them. It was their arrival, in fact, that sparked her flipping through the pages back to some of the research notes, specifically those noting locations and sightings of ghost-type Pokémon. “...So Ruins, huh…? Guess that makes sense…” she muttered to herself, nodding as Confi idly toddled around her silently in a circle. “Ah, but that forest sounds interesting-”

She had only just finished speaking, when Anneliese asked her first question, shaking her head idly as she read the book. “I… Uh… I’m broke, but no, these are some research notes the professor gave me. Scientific papers and journal articles-- the kind of stuff you use when studying for a paper in your English classes,” she tried to explain, smiling gently as she neatly pushed the various papers together into a pile, and tucked them under an arm. After which, she began to take off her backpack, and began the laborious process of finding her journal to stuff the papers into. “They’re on-”

And then, the second question was asked; in response to what Jacklyn had said, no doubt. “Are you two perhaps outcasts as well?” It was phrased in such an innocent way; so much so that it blindsided Anima almost completely. For a second, she stood there in almost complete shock, her smile fading gradually as she realized what had been said, and her movements went slack. For a second, she could only think…

…It’s odd. Hearing someone finally say it.

There was a reason, Anima knew, after all, why she had never felt like she had truly had friends growing up. She had seen groups of friends, and been around groups of friends; they had called each other friends, but she knew there was a reason that she was only ever on the outskirts of those groups. She knew, that there was a reason why she often happened to be left out of things for such innocuous reasons, such as thinking she wouldn’t want to go even if invited. She knew that there was a reason that she knew so much about each and every one of the people she had called friends, as she had listened to their every crisis… And yet they knew next to nothing about her, save her name in return.

And was a reason that she was so curious about a type of Pokémon most often shunned simply for its way of life.

It was just odd to hear someone come out and say it.

It took her a moment, as she carefully placed the research materials back into her journal, and placed them back in her bag, to reply; closing her bag as she manufactured a gentle smile, and nodded. “...I… suppose so,” she replied, in the tone of one who wanted to do anything but speak anymore, as she adjusted her things in her backpack,. “...I’m, uh..” she trailed off, rubbing at the back of her head. “Well, it’s…” she murmured again, as if trying to find the words. “...I’m going to head on. I’d like to get a head start on my training today,” she explained, her voice and tone quiet as she glanced between her companions, waiting for any potential objections, before… Heading onwards.

Not being close enough to hear was generally a good enough excuse not to discuss anything further.

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"Huh?" Jacklyn repeated for the second time in several minutes today. This one, however, was not out of pure confusion or shock from Anneliese's statement as it was before, though. After the question hit her Jacklyn's expression darkened as she couldn't help but glower at Anneliese only to let out a resigned sigh. "Yeah I guess so," practically grumbling the response. Turning a bit more defensive in tone the girl then said, "but you know, all the others were just lame anyway so who'd even want to hang out with them, right?" As she looked around her smile then returned as she said, "and you know, I'm here on the adventure now like a whole bunch of other trainers while they're just twiddling their thumbs at home. So who's the outcast now? So I'm right where I belong! Hahaha!" Jacklyn let out a hearty laugh as she breezed through the subject, getting her adventurous vigor back , nodding along with Anima.

"That's right, there's no sense is just sticking around here. I mean sure this place is pretty cool," in the sense she found it novel how little there actually was here, "but there's a whole rest of the region waiting for us. So, gang, let's go!" And with that the girl marched off through the town, guiding her teammates along. 


It didn't take long for them to get through the small town they had stopped in before getting onto, "route 102!" The girl declared as she looked up from the map on her pokedex. Though she seemed amped to be in a new area it was still just grass and road for the time being. Looking over to her team the girl said, "Anima, I like your vigor from earlier! And I still need to figure out what being Rus's trainer is supposed to be all about, so! I think getting to training is a great idea!" The girl declared, before walking along the grass and the road, only for a wild hoppip to jump out at her. 

With a grin on her face she said, "alright, time to show you just what being a trainer is all about. Let's do this!" Having put Rus back in his pokeball after leaving the professor the girl fiddled around on her belt before pulling one out. Throwing the ball she shouted, "go, Ru- " 

"Bu!" 

"Huh....Oh..." A defeated expression crossed her face as she looked at the now emptied pokeball in her hand, Cherry having come out from it. She had learned in her quest to understand the professor's question, choosing Rus when she wanted to would be a good first step in being his trainer. "I'm gonna need to label these or something- well anyway, Cherry! I choose you!" The buneary jumped at its name being called, then looked to its opponent curiously. "That's our opponent Cherry, so show them what you got!" The buneary pumped one ear into the air, signaling its understanding, before looking forward at its opponent. 

Cherry and the Hoppip stared down each other, only for the Hoppip to hop harmlessly in place. Cherry, in turn, hopped in place as well as if joining in on the grass types frolicking. The two accomplished nothing. 

"Uh, Cherry...what can you like, do?" The trainer asked, not actually knowing what moves her pokemon was capable of. The buneary looked back towards Jacklyn, stopping its splashing about, and cocked its head to the side in confusion at the question. At this moment of distraction, the Hoppip moved in bouncing forward and tackling the shiny buneary in the back causing the Buneary to let out a surprise yelp. "Hey that's cheating! Cherry!" The Buneary hopped back to its feet, a determined look in its eyes. "Alright Cherry let's go...use...uh, tackle?" The Buneary's expression turned to confusion as it looked back to Jacklyn. "Scratch?" It shook its head. "...ember?" It cocked its head. "Hmmmm, what is it...oh, right! Cherry, use pound!" 

The Buneary seemed to understand that, leaping forward and smashing its foot into the Hoppip and causing it to bounce across the ground like a kickball. Then, righting itself, the Hoppip shot forward yet again. Now paying attention to it and with her acute knowledge of how bunny pokemon could move Jacklyn shouted, "Cherry hop! And," The Buneary jumped up getting higher than the Hoppip before hearing, "pound!" Bringing its foot down it smashed into the top of the Hoppip, forcing the pokemon into the ground and bouncing up again. Stunned from the attack Jacklyn gave one last command, "Cherry, knock it out with a Pound!" Complying, the Buneary hopped up and smashed its foot into the pokemon once more, sending it into the tall grass from whence it came. 

A smile crossing her face the girl shouted, "alright way to go Cherry!" The girl walked over and bent down, bringing her palm to the pokemon who met it with its raised ear, the two giving an odd high five to one another. "Starting on a victory is a great way to start your own adventure Cherry, but this is just the first step. So let's keep it up!" 

"Bu bu!" 

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Team JAA/AJA/AAJ

Anneliese wasn't aware of much. She didn't tend to notice when people were upset by something. However she felt something...off about the way that the others had reacted. Jacklyn had said there was nothing wrong with being an outcast and yet they seemed to be bothered by being called such. She couldn't wrap her head around this contradiction and, as the others went off, she brought Roland out and lifted the Rock puppy in front of her.

The little creature glanced down at the long drop and shivered, grabbing onto her arm for extra assurance. "Do you understand what happened?" Anneliese asked the Pokemon despite that he hadn't even been out at the time. And so Roland just looked back blankly. Which Anneliese took as an answer and nodded. "Yes, it is quite vexing to me as well."

A gust of wind caused Annelise's hat to almost fly off and she grabbed onto it. Which made Roland grab onto her one arm tighter. While the Pokemon wasn't the heaviest around it also was heavier than expected and Anneliese tilted over in her attempts to hold him up and the two toppled onto the ground.

Laughter sounded and Anneliese looked up to see a smug looking Youngster. "I thought that I had found another trainer to beat but looks like I just found a clown."

"Oh really?" Anneliese said, not understanding. "Where are they? I've never met a clown before."

The boy didn't seem to know how to respond to that and then said, "I meant you, idiot. We're supposed to battle now don't you know anything?"

"Oh, what a delightful battle declaration is that how it's done here? Very well then I shall accept. I shall 'clown on' you then...is that right?"

The boy sent out his Pokemon, a Bidoof, and Roland shivered back towards Anneliese. "Do not worry, if it hurts just let me know and I will bring you right back."

"Ha, a wussy trainer for a wussy Pokemon." The statement from the youngster caused Roland to narrow his eyes and he Leer'd the Bidoof. Him mocking Anneliese seeming to have temporarily made Roland forget his fear.

And so the battle began. Both the Pokemon simply kept tackling each other back and forth. It was clear the Bidoof was a higher level and thus stronger however Roland's Rock typing gave it a slight upper-hand and it was eventually able to win out in the single move battle.

Upon this victory Anneliese cheered, "You have done it!" and in her excitement she picked up Roland and forgot about the wind. Which then took her hat off this time and sailing towards the grass. "Oh, goodness, come back here you!" she called out and ran off after it.

Spoiler

Anneliese will be in the grass for a bit, and will in the process battle some wild Pokemon. atm Roland will have gained a level and likely another by time she leaves the grass.

Let me know if either of you want anything specific or if either of you head towards the statue.

 

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What did Quinn look for when looking at the sky for banes or boons of fortune? It would have been difficult for Quinn to enunciate. On some level, fortune-telling was always an intuitive process, an internal question to oneself as it was externally to the world. How was one feeling? Quinn had noticed in their brief time as a ghost that most people assumed that the laws of action and reaction were those of the material. But that was not true. The laws were universal. You had to put energy out into the world to get anything back. The same begat the same. So perhaps Quinn carried the energy from the morning chase and the hospitality of breakfast when xe foresaw the rest of the day going just as well.

Quinn and Nathaniel were on the road a ways -- side-by-side, with Cassiopeia on Quinn’s other flank gripping zir hand -- when Quinn’s curiosity got the better of it. “I had to step outside to feed Normandie and Cassiopeia, but you seemed in much better spirits when I returned. What were you and Billy talking about? Or was this simply the mystical power of breaking fast?”

Nathaniel gestured to the extra Pokéball on his belt and said, “Wanted to ask him what I should do with this li’l guy. It's a Trapinch, apparently. It has these huge jaws and kinda looks like an armored bug. Billy told me that the trainer it was stolen from should be on the route we're headed to, so I said I’d find them and return it to her.”

“Trapinch” sounded familiar. It was probably in a list of Sinnoan Pokémon that Quinn had skimmed once upon a time, but he needed to double-check the Pokédex for it now. “Oh, I see!” Quinn said. “That does look like an interesting Pokémon. We will keep our eyes peeled for anyone who looks like they are missing their precious contraband.” After a moment, hy added, “Hopefully they are not as destructive as that Magmortar was, or as strong of a hugger.”

“I can deal with a strong hug. I want to see strong Pokémon.” Nathaniel grinned. “Speaking of, I asked Billy about the rumor he mentioned, too. We gotta explore that marsh area. If there’s a super rare Pokémon there, I want to meet it. It might be the next member of my team!”

Quinn looked down at his shoes and thought about laundry again. “Well, I will try to stay out of your way this time. I know you were excited about seeing a Ratffian before I found Normandie and all those Ratatta,” it said.

Nathaniel waved the concern away. “There is no such thing as ‘dibs’ on a Pokémon,” he said. “The way I see it, you were the right trainer at the right time for Normandie.”

In hindsight, perhaps they had misjudged Nathaniel, Quinn thought. Nathaniel had always been forthright, but Quinn always saw him as struggling against destiny, trying to beat the odds instead of letting the cards fall where they may. Was he not the one obsessed with rare Pokémon? Creatures that needed an extra helping of luck to even find? But no, Nathaniel believed in fate. Maybe it was because he believed in fate that he struggled.

It was an idle thought, though, not worth voicing out loud. Even if Quinn wanted to, by the time he reached the end of it, there were already new things to take in. There was a woman just ahead of them on Route One Oh Two, and she was waving them to her as she approached. “‘Scuse me!” she said. “You lot seen any shady individuals ‘round here? ‘Bout so-and-so tall, long red ‘air, jacket wiv a bird on the back, maybe bit of an attitude? ‘E took my Pokémon, and I can't find any leads on the fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-- the fug who did it.”

Quinn did not answer the question right away, partly because, well, partly because ze needed a moment to parse the woman’s accent, but also because Quinn was shocked at the whims of the universe, dropping everything right into their lap. “What a coincidence,” Quinn said. “Nathaniel and I encountered an egg thief who matched that description this morning. Nathaniel had to tackle him to the ground and got a Pokéball to the face for his trouble.” It felt Cassiopeia tug on their hand and quickly added, “Cassiopeia here was instrumental in slowing the thief down, of course.” Another half-formed thought crossed Quinn’s mind, and this one had more dire consequences, so they felt freer to ask, “Although, what if you are working with that man and are coming after us now looking to resteal the Pokémon away again?”

The woman shook her head. “Not at all. I’m the victim! Took my Trapinch, ‘e did!”

“Is that so?” Quinn said, eyeing Nathaniel’s belt. “That is the Pokémon Nathaniel told me was in that ball.” Eir gaze drifted upwards, trying to meet Nathaniel’s before returning to the woman. “I suppose the Trapinch would not obey you if you were deceiving us, so perhaps it would be best if you summon it with our supervision. Nathaniel?”

Nathaniel handed the Pokéball over and the woman activated it without hesitation. Out sprung that strange orange creature. After a moment to inspect its surroundings, its eyes locked on to the woman’s and it let out a cheerful chattering sound before scurrying over to her side.

“Arfur!” the woman said. “You had me worrie- OW!”

Arfur the Trapinch had clamped his jaws around the woman’s ankles. “Hey, I missed you too, but don’t chomp my wellies!” the woman said, shaking her leg in a vain attempt to release herself. “I don’t got an extra pair, you know that!” She resorted to wedging Arfur’s jaws open by force, and the Trapinch settled for being scooped up into the woman’s arms and some more excited chirping.

The woman said, “Bit of a biter, he is. I really can’t tell you have grateful I am to have ‘im back! If I can do anyfin’ for you lot, just say the word and I’ll do my best.”

Quinn could not help but applaud the reunion, the second one they had managed that morning. Gone was whatever darkness and suspicion fae might have had. “Yes! Fate smiles on us this day. I knew the winds were favorable the moment I stepped outside this morning. It is an omen. Are you also on a Pokémon journey? You should come with us.”

The woman looked at Nathaniel. “If your friend’s alright wivvat, I’d love to come along! I could actually use a new travelin’ group, if I’m being honest. The last one kind of…” She looked down at Arfur. “…kind of left us here?”

“Of course he is alright with that,” Quinn said, now finally getting the gist of the accent. “In another miraculous coincidence, we had to say farewell to a companion of ours this morning as well.” Not that the woman would replace Belladonna, of course, but a third was still welcome. “I will let Nathaniel introduce himself, but as I said before, this is Cassiopeia, my partner and tether. My name is Quinn. I am an artist, fortune teller, new Pokémon trainer, and a ghost!”

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…In a way, Anima almost felt bad for how quickly she had excused herself. But at the same time, there was nothing to do for it but move on, and try to blow off some steam; be that through travel or battle. She nodded along as Jacklyn, behind her, shouted something about this being route 102; it seemed that naming conventions were as simple as Anima had hoped, so for now, there was little risk of getting lost… Until paths split, of course, and then there was only risk of getting lost.

But for now, the path remained unsplit, and so, she walked, Confi in hand. There were many pokemon, and many trainers, as far as she could see; so there was no question as to if she’d be able to find something to train against, and yet…Despite her words, and despite her talk of big-game, she felt little pull towards training just yet. “Further in,” she told herself as she walked. “...We’ll train further in. I’d… Like to get ahead of the others,” she chuckled lightly to herself, as she spoke to Confi; the undead-coral simply chirruping in response, as if to say she understood.

In some ways, Anima could only assume she did.

Still, perhaps because of this, she found herself reaching a strange area around the center of the route rather quickly, where it seemed to split off into two paths which wrapped around a large, marshy center; as if beckoning travelers to go around the marsh rather than through it. And yet, at the center, there was… A massive statue, partially obscured, as if having been sunken into the marsh. It was large and oval shaped, almost like a Clobbopus… Almost. Stranger still, there was someone standing in front of it: a man, with black hair.

Curiosity, of course, killed the skitty; and while there were few more skittish than Anima on a bad day, she was also… Hopelessly curious, and so she found herself stepping into the marsh. It was uneven ground, and unpleasant to step into. Her face instinctively turned to one of disgust as she stepped through, socks soaked in an instant, and she became acutely aware that she would, at the very least, need to change socks and do laundry asap. But that, wasn’t why she had stepped into the marsh, and so she walked up until she was near enough to the man to get a better look at the statue, without looking at him. “Excuse me, uh, sir,” she began, holding Confi tightly as she spoke. “But I, er… Saw you looking at this statue so intently, and wanted to ask, um… do you know what this statue is of?”

The man turned to face her, at her approach; revealing himself to be sporting a gas-mask on his face, though, Anima tried not to show her surprise at this. "Of? Yes. Of course. Of. Course." He said. Then muttered those two words to himself again before speaking up. "But is that really what you should be worried about? Do you know how many contagions are in the air at any given moment? How can you just walk up to someone and talk to them without proper precautions? What if I had the plague?" He looked down and seemed to be thinking. "Do I? I don't think so. But I can't rule it out..."

“...Because I’d, um… Hope that someone with the plague wouldn’t go out in public, for fear of hurting others,” Anima began to reason, trying to sort through his… Strange manner of speaking. If she was an outcast, he was a… She shook her head. “And I know I’m not sick, or Confi wouldn’t have let me out of bed, if that’s something you’re worried about,” she smiled as gently as she could. “Um… Is there a reason you’re worried about sickness and contagion, though? Is there something going around?” she asked, an almost worried tone to her voice. “Should I stop by at the next Pokémon Center for a vaccine…?”

"A reason? Yes, yes there's a reason. A plague?" He laughed, in the barest sense of the word. Letting out an uncomfortably loud and brief "Ha!" before growing silent for a moment. Then, "do you not know? Can you not tell? No, you wouldn't know. No. Know." Like before he muttered these two words again. "You're not even from here....yes, yes. Of course. Of. Course." He seemed to grow a bit anxious and then he suddenly looked at Anima intently. "A trainer. You're a trainer. Which means. Which means, which means, which means....Yes, a battle. We should battle." He nodded and turned fully towards her. "A triple battle. I want a triple battle. I need to do a triple battle."

Anima frowned. She didn’t like… Anything about the way he spoke. It was as if he knew something she didn’t, as if she was in some sort of grave danger, and… As if he was looking down on her, for not knowing as much as he did. So when he mentioned a battle… For a second, she was ready to take him up on it. No matter how scary he looked, she was ready to battle him… Until he mentioned the type of battle, and all excitement seemed to drain from her face. “Er… Sorry, but I don’t have two Pokémon, let alone three,” she explained. “I… Er… I’m hoping to specialize in Ghost Type Pokémon, since they’re the ones I feel the most comfortable around,” she continued, before shaking her head. “But… What is it that I don’t know? That I can’t, um… Tell?”

"Statue?" The man slowly turned to the statue and stared at it. Then. "Ha! Yes. Statue. That's all it is. Of course that's all it is. But is it? Is anything really just what it is? Are you?" He turned back to Anima. "No. You're. Something. Something about you. You're going to be important. How, why, when...." He shook his head, roughly, and his eyes looked more agitated than before. "Keep going. Find out. But no, you shouldn't keep going. You shouldn't find out. If you do, you won't be able to not find out."

Anima frowned, again. “I won’t be able to find out what?” she asked, her voice growing more… Annoyed, than anything else, as she furrowed her eyebrows. “And who are you, anyways, to declare that I’ll be anything of note?” she murmured, voice almost weary of getting an answer. “To declare what my destiny will be?”

"Who am I? Hehehe....who AM I? Yes. How can I really know? Name, I have a name. It's Brady. But that's not who I am, is it?" He stared at Anima for a while. She noticed that he kept tapping his leg over and over, more rapidly as he continued to talk. "Destiny...no, there's no such thing. Just science. Logic. Facts...Yes, science, logic, facts, science, logic, facts." His eyes closed as he repeated this. And when his eyes opened again he seemed calmer. "I don't know what you are here for. But this region. It is...." his voice trailed off. He seemed to be trying to remember something, then asked Anima, "Where am I?"

Anima swallowed uncomfortably. Had she just seen someone experience a mental breakdown…? She shook her head, and nodded. “We’re in route 102, and you just introduced yourself…?” she lulled her head to the side, slightly, unsure. “Are you… Er… Okay?” she asked, voice as unsure as that was a stupid question.

"102...why...why 102...The Professor. Professor Cedar. I...was going to see the Professor." He glanced over at Anima. "Who are you? Did you...did you need something?" He took a step back as if expecting her to attack.

“Ah, be careful…” Anima nodded. “Professor Cedar’s probably in a bad mood,” she advised. “But, er… My name is Anima, and I’m a new trainer. You were staring at this statue, and I came over to ask you about it,” she did her best to explain in as calm a fashion as she could; even if she didn’t fully understand the sudden shift.

"I see...I see." He muttered. Then he glanced back at the statue and began backing away from it faster. "Oh. This. This is...what is it..." Anima could see a bit of panic return to his eyes. He looked back at Anima. "I. I should go. I need to. I need to do something. Something. Some. Thing..." He shook his head and continued to back away out of the marsh.

“I… Er… Don’t see,” Anima replied, before shaking her head. “But, er… Be careful, and er… Good luck, Mr. Brady,” she waved, as she herself awkwardly began to look around. It was only as he wandered off completely, that she turned her attention back to the statue, taking a step towards it… Only to hear a slight ringing in her ears. She frowned, shaking her head rapidly, as she took a step back to clear her head. That did the trick, the ringing stopping as she glanced away, and… With Confi in hand, she took a deep breath. “That’s… Weird,” she murmured, glancing down towards the ground. 

It was only the chirp of Confi’s confusion that brought Anima back to focus, prompting her to nod. “You’re right…” she trailed off, eyeing the Pokemon around them, as a Poliwag seemed to emerge from the marsh, almost as if coming out of hiding. “I think… It’s time we stopped procrastinating, and started training,” she smiled, as she knelt down, and let Confi down to trundle towards their (eventual) foe.

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With Cherry taking yet another victory against a wild pokemon, the smile remained on Jacklyn's face as she cheered, "way to go Cherry! I doubt there's any wild pokemon that could match up to you now." The Buneary hopped up in joy at the praise. 

"Oh my god, it's so cute." Jacklyn and Cherry turned their attention to the source of the voice; a trendy looking girl in a skirt with a lollipop in her mouth who seemed to be smiling at the Buneary. She marched on forward, paying no heed to Jacklyn as she crouched down and grabbed the, now confused, buneary's ears. "And they're so fluffy too, and like seriously where do you get one in this color?" The girl continued to fluff the confused Buneary's ears as she marveled over the pokemon. 

The Buneary remained confused at this invasion of its personal space, though didn't really do much against it, as Jacklyn smiled proudly. "That's right! I'm glad you understand how great my team member is, isn't that right Cherry? After all when it comes to being cute there's no one better on my team then her." Cherry, still unsure of what was going on, knew it was being praised and thus smiled and cried out excitedly. 

"For real, for real. But you know there's no one more 'dorbs out there then my Minchi." A crack could be heard as the girl chomped down on her candy, looking up at Jacklyn. 

"What'd you say?" The girl looked down, locking eyes with the Lass as it was clear what was about to happen. 

Standing up, the Lass walked back before reaching into her backpack and pulling out a premier ball. With a flick of her wrist the ball went to the ground, opening and releasing the Mincino that was inside of it. Jacklyn, furrowing her brow, said, "I see. So that's "Minchi." Hmmm...not bad." 

"Right? Like I knew you'd get it." 

"But don't think that means you've won just yet. Go on Cherry, show her just how cute you are!" 

"Bu!"

"Bet." Lass Sadie challenged Jacklyn to a battle. 

The two pokemon battled each other, though the both of them only knew one attacking move and it was the same move. As such their strategies were entirely one dimensional, in the repeated use of pound, dodge, pound, get hit, pound again. The two pokemon also had a bit of confusion as the two trainers kept shouting about being cute while doing their attacks, or even to "cutely" take the hit and shrug it off. To make matters even more confusing to a bystander, "alright Cherry go for it! Show off what you got!" 

"Minchi, dazzle them with your cuteness!" 

The Buneary then began bouncing around, as if splashing, to no effect. The Mincino, meanwhile, clapped along, offering a Helping Hand to Cherry's display. The two trainers nodded before the battle resumed in earnest. Though the two were evenly matched, in the end it was Cherry who had come out on top by a hair. The Lass called back her pokemon, looking disappointed saying, "losing isn't very cute at all. But your Cherry's pretty cute too, so," the girl tossed Jacklyn a lollipop as part of her winnings, before giving a wave saying, "laters." 

Popping the piece of candy in her mouth Jacklyn said, "that's what I thought." Then proudly looking to her Buneary she shouted, "way to go Cherry! I knew you could do it." The Buneary gave a thumbs(?) up to the girl, though looked wobbly on her feet. "Alright you can take a rest for now." The girl returned her pokemon before looking around saying, "now where did everyone else get off to?" 

As Jacklyn wandered off back onto the beaten path, starting to go up the road again she saw someone coming the opposite side. Jacklyn attempted to lock eyes with the man, but it proved impossible as she couldn't clearly see his eyes under the mask he was wearing. As he passed by the girl just called out, "cool mask," before making her way up to regroup with Anima. 

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Team JAA/AJA/AAJ

After some running Anneliese realized how heavy the Rockruff was feeling and she was forced to pause to send him back into his ball. As she did she lost track of her hat and realized it must have fallen somewhere in the grass.

The girl made her way through it, calling out "Where did you go? Come out come out please," as if the hat could answer her.

She let out a sigh of relief when she found the hat laying in a patch in front of her. However as she approached the hat began to move again. Darting through the grass as though it had suddenly grew legs. She began to give chase but it was clear she wouldn't be able to catch up. "L-Leopold, please help, catch that hat!" she sent out her trust Shinx who looked ready for battle and was confused when he realized his opponent was Anneliese's own hat.

Still he bravely charged forth...and then the hat took off into the sky. "Goodness I didn't know it could do that!" Anneliese said in surprise. "We can't let it get away, I hope it doesn't damage it ...Leopold, Thundershock!"

Leopold looked unamused to be asked to do such a thing but did so anyway. When the shock hit the hat they heard a loud chirping noise and....a bird fell from the hat. It was a Rookidee who had evidentially had the hat land on them and was now laying on its side, twitching with Paralysis.

Anneliese gasped and ran over to it. "Oh my I did not mean to hurt you poor little thing...oh and I do not have any potions with me..." Anneliese looked sadly at the creature, feeling bad for her unintentional attack. It hadn't been a battle and yet she seemed to have hit it with a critical strike.

Suddenly an idea came to her mind and Anneliese brought out her last ball. "A Heal Ball wasn't it? That should fix you right up!" she said as she poked the Pokemon with it. The Rookidee was caught within moments. Almost immediately after Anneliese sent the Pokemon out. "Hello there, I'm ever so sorry for that. But you seem alright now, I can release you if you'd like. I didn't mean to catch you without your consent."

The Rookidee stared at her for a while in surprise then looked away, beak upturned.

"I suppose that means you would like to be let go then." Anneliese said then reached for the ball.

Suddenly the Rookidee sprang up and jumped onto her hand, pushing it away from the ball, and stared back at her before slowly shaking their head and then once again looking away with an upturned beak.

Anneliese was quiet for a while before blurting out, "oh! You want to come with me? Oh that is ever so wonderful! Leopold, look, another new friend!"

Leopold didn't look interested as he walked over and picked up Anneliese's forgotten hat.

Anneliese didn't seem to notice as she got up. "I wish to show the others right away!" she said and hurried off, making Leopold have to run to catch up while carrying her hat.

She emerged from the grass near a marshy area which is where she saw Anima in battle with Wild Pokemon. "Anima, I found a new friend! She was hiding under my hat!"

Spoiler

Seems Roland is still level 3 for now, and Anneliese has caught a new Pokemon at expense of her last item. Will update the doc before posting this.

Feral, whenever in Anima's training you want her to emerge is fine.

Also given last round, Cherry has gained a level so update that Skaia.

 

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Nate struggled to follow the conversation between Quinn and the newcomer. The woman had an incredibly thick accent, and he had no idea what region she must have been from judging off of it. No one in Hoenn or Kanto or Johto sounded like that; he had met or been to all three places at different points in his life. Quinn didn’t sound like that, and she was from Sinnoh. That left Alola, Galar, and, uhh… Nathan blanked. There’s so many regions. How can they expect me to remember m’all? He really had tried to get it down back when he was in school. It was just, well, studying individual climates and weather patterns and the best ways to survive in them had seemed so much more worthwhile than studying the cultures or the names of land masses.

Nate realized he was zoning out of the conversation when he heard Quinn say, “Of course he is alright with that,” while gesturing to him. Wait, what was he alright with?

Oh well. He was sure Quinn wouldn’t agree to just anything on his behalf. The boy seemed smart enough to trust. 

A moment later he pieced together that the new person was asking to travel with them. Nate smiled at her and stepped forward eagerly, offering her his hand to shake. “Yeah! ‘Course you can! Journeys are better with good company, right?” If the woman accepted the handshake, she would find that his grip was firm, and his hand surprisingly calloused for a trainer just starting on his journey. 

Nate would pull his hand back and immediately reach for the Poké Ball on his belt. He clicked the button once to enlarge it to full size, then again to release Peat. The sea-bear materialized in a glow of light and butted his flippers into the ground playfully, rumbling when he saw the newcomer and waddling up to her to push his cold nose into her leg. “This is my best bud, Peat. He’s the only Pokémon I got right now, but he has enough personality for a whole team!” Peat showcased this by rumbling again and blowing a stream of bubbles into the air, showing off his newly learned move. A thin mist of water showered down on the party. “We’re aiming to be champions!”

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“...Now, dodge to the right… Astonish.” Anima directed Confi with a calm voice, eyes narrowed on the battle as she kept her hands clasped behind her. She watched as Confi took the direction in stride, pink eyes diverting from the swirling stomach of the Poliwag in front of them as she tumbled forward in a rightward arc, coming to a stop right in front of the Pokemon… Before letting out a piercing shriek, ghostly aura rushing-forwards in that instant. The Poliwag stumbled backwards, burbling for a moment, before slumping forwards, unconscious.

Anima smiled then, kneeling down as Confi trundled back, patting the Pokémon on the head slightly, and offering some food as a treat in return. “...Thanks for… helping me work out some stress here, Concon. I know they’ve not been… Too exciting to battle so far,” she tapped the Corsola on the head. “But it’s been nice to watch the fruits of our labor. I’m… Feeling better now; it feels more natural,” she smiled, even as the Corsola playfully tackled the palm of her hand. “I know, I know. Let’s do it one more time and see what comes out, alright? Maybe something stronger will pop-up,” she pat the Pokémon on their head, before rising to her full height.

In response, Confi trundled back forwards into the Marsh, standing at the ready, and waiting for Anima’s instruction. “...Look up, and use Astonish,” she instructed, clasping her hands behind herself, as the Coral Pokémon raised her head to the sky-- And screamed. It was a… Novel use of the move, to be sure; in fact, to most people, using the move on the sky might have seemed idiotic. But when your Pokemon was slow…

Anima’s eyes scanned the marsh around Confi, eventually locking into what appeared to be flashing lights darting through the reeds. They were hard to spot, but as they drew closer to Confi, it became much easier to pick them out. “...In front of you, to your right. It’s coming fast-- Harden,” Anima spoke calmly, even as her voice remained low; and despite the quiet way with which it was spoken, it came out so quickly and so naturally that, to her Pokémon, it was as if she had shouted it to the world.

Confi’s surface went a pale white just as a blur of white, pink, blue, and even yellow shot from the depths of the marsh to slam into Confi; a glowing, pink beak attempting to pierce through the Corsola’s undead ‘skin’. “Before it can get away, stun it with Astonish,” she commanded, narrowing her eyes. Confi shrieked even louder, seemingly growing larger for a second as the Pokémon which had attacked her-- An Inkay, she realized-- A pokemon she had seen back home.

Astonish will be weaker here, I think-- Isn’t it Dark Type? And it can hit Confi, so I need to be careful… But what was it Mom used to say about Inkay, if I saw one at the Beach…? To…

“Look away,” Anima narrowed her eyes as the Wild Pokémon rallied itself; lights at the top of its head began to flash various colors. She felt her stomach begin to turn as her eyelids grew heavy, though she didn’t dare look away from its hypnosis. It wasn’t aimed at her, so it wouldn’t hit the right nerves in her brain, but the same wasn’t guaranteed for her friend. She glanced slightly to the side, and for a moment, she worried that their attacker had succeeded, as she saw Confi’s face buried in the water, but… Confi’s back legs peddled idly, pushing up water, marsh, and grass in front of her as she trundled towards her opponent, unabated by the flashing lights!

“...And…” Anima trailed off, eyes narrowing on the Inkay slightly, watching as it kept up the barrage of lights… “...Tackle,” Anima instructed, smiling as Confi was almost pressing up against the (now particularly worried looking) Pokémon, pausing for a second, before looking up and charging forwards with a tiny, screeching war-cry. The impact was hard-- Harder than Anima was expecting, and elicited a small smile from the trainer as she nodded her head forwards. Even still, the Inkay had barely taken the hit before letting loose its own screech, and surging towards Confi at tremendous speed, beak slamming into and pecking away at the Coral Pokémon several times.

She knew Confi would have been fine had this been their only fight; especially having used Harden before the battle had even truly begun, but… “Don’t let the battles before change the outcome of this one,” she instructed Confi as she forced her nerves to settle down. “Wait for the next attack, and… Tackle,” she instructed, as the Inkay reared back for one more Peck-- Only to meet Confi’s forehead in a sudden burst of speed. The Inkay recoiled from the hit, rearing back as if to peck one more time… before falling over backwards, floating in the water, facing the sky as it did so.

“...Alright, up you go then,” Anima smiled, picking Confi up almost as soon as the battle was over, bringing the little Pokémon into a hug. “Thank you… You did wonderful,” she smiled, breathing a sigh of relief, even as the Pokémon's eyes began to droop in her arms. “...Yeah, I guess you’re probably pretty tired, huh?” she chuckled, tapping the Coral-Pokémon's forehead. “But-”

"Anima, I found a new friend! She was hiding under my hat!"

Anima smiled, as she turned to Anneliese, and gave a slight wave. “A-Ah? Another?” Anima looked almost gob-smacked at the prospect, mouth slightly agape. “Already? But you just caught Leopold-” she began, slumping slightly. For a moment, she wondered if she had been going about this the wrong way; after all, she had hardly caught anything, and here one of her companions was with three Pokémon already! But…

Everyone does these things their own way.

She smiled gently as she walked forwards, awkwardly stepping to the right to unstick herself from the marsh as she did so, and… Inadvertently revealing a trail of unconscious Poliwags, which had been conveniently hidden by her silhouette. “What’s, um… What’s the little guy or gal’s name?” she asked, leaning forwards to get a better look at the Rookidee.

Anneliese presented the Pokémon, who turned away from Anima immediately and gazed off into the distance. "This ray of sunshine is Eleanora!"

Anima snickered at Anneliese’s comment, before returning to her full height, and holding Confi parallel to the Pokémon. “I… I see,” she nodded, trying to figure out if Anneliese actually had meant that sarcasm or not, before finally caving to her instinct to deflect. “Sorry, I know this is going to be a weird question, but, did you, er… See a guy with a weird mask on your way here?” she’d ask, staring idly at the ground.

"Mask? Oh, no not at all. I haven't seen any guys actually. Oh except for that young boy I battled but he wasn't wearing a mask....At least I do not think so." She screwed up her face as if trying to remember.

Anima paused for a moment, nodding slightly. “...Good, then. Perhaps he was just a ghost, then, given how strange he was,” she chuckled lightly, looking up to Anneliese with a smile. “A spooky-marsh like this… Seems just the place for someone to haunt, don’t you think?”

"Is that so? The only ghost I knew was in the basement and that was certainly not marshy at all. Oh but I suppose you would know better than I do would you not?"

“You had a ghost in your basement?!” Anima brought a hand to her mouth instinctively as she began to smile. “Oh-- I was about to say we should go find Jacklyn, but you have got to tell me more--” she began, sounding… Excited, well and truly, for what may have been the first time since she had begun this journey.

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It was settled, then! Bridget, who had been left behind by her former teammates, would join up with these two, who had themselves lost a teammate this very morning! She wasn't really one to believe in fate, but if there were such a thing as a serendipitous coincidence, she was certainly staring at it right now. Newly re-equipped with both Arthur and some human companions, the shadow looming over her mind had been cast away, and she was once again eager to see all that Korova had to offer. And to take notes on her discoveries and adventures, of course. As Quinn and Nathaniel introduced themselves and their pokemon, Bridget popped open Arthur's poke ball, returning the creature to his spherical domain, so as to give her new team her full attention.

“I will let Nathaniel introduce himself, but as I said before, this is Cassiopeia, my partner and tether. My name is Quinn. I am an artist, fortune teller, new Pokémon trainer, and a ghost!”

“This is my best bud, Peat. He’s the only Pokémon I got right now, but he has enough personality for a whole team! We’re aiming to be champions!”

"Pleasure to meet both of you!" With an introductory wave, Bridget went on to introduce herself in turn. "You've already met Arfur. And I'm Bridget. I'd like to be a pokemon professor one day, so I came to Korova to do some up-close field research on pokemon and their surroundings. D'you mind if I take some notes on the two of you as well, actually?" Casting an excited glance to Quinn in particular, she further elaborated "I've met ghost-type pokemon after all, but never a human ghost! Not every day you can say you had an encounter like that, now is it?" Then one to Nathaniel. "And watchin' someone fight up the ranks is a great way to learn about the bonds between humans and pokemon! If you don't mind me jott'n down some ideas and feories, of course."

Bridget quickly looked behind her, at the rest of the route going on in that direction. She hadn't really had the chance to explore the rest of what all was in that direction. She was busy having her Trapinch stolen then trying to get him back, so her usual activities had to take a back seat. But now? Now she could get back to doing what she did best! "C'mon, let's walk 'n' talk."

Edited by yui

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It was not every day that a person expressed genuine curiosity at Quinn’s condition, and Quinn took full advantage of Briget’s invitation. He told Bridget about its abduction, how xe was found dead on Mount Coronet, and how only a spirit and Cassiopeia remained. Even when a shorts-wearing Youngster ran up and demanded Quinn battle his brand-new Starly, Quinn’s focus was still mostly focused on her new companion. It was a good thing Normandie was used to fending for herself.

“It does not affect my usual day-to-day activities as much as you would expect. I still walk along the material plane. I still consume food for nutrients, although, of course, more spiritual fare is preferred. Oh, use Tackle!” Quinn called out. Normandie hissed and charged right at the Starly, who flapped its wings in an attempt to escape, but by the time it was airborne, it had extra Ratffian weight keeping it down, and the two tumbled to the ground in a pile. Quinn continued, “Perhaps the part that is most odd to me is the occasional reaction I get. People identify me as strange, which is understandable, but when I explain my situation, it only seems to amplify their assessment. I do not see anything strange about it. You said it yourself. Ghost-type Pokemon exist. Can Human ghosts not also exist?”

Bridget nodded. “You’ve got a really good point! Tho’, ‘sides yourself, all I’ve ‘eard of ghosts is just rumors. Bet everyone’ll fink this’s just hearsay too when I go back an’ tell ‘em about you.”

“I understand,” Quinn said, returning Bridget’s nod. “I do not have a way to prove myself, but I do not have a particular desire for one either. Tail Whip, Normandie, let us make this next hit count!” Normandie was in the middle of dodging the Starly's counterattack but as she ran around the field of battle, she did manage a few cracks with her tail as requested. Quinn said, “Thankfully, I do have other things outside of being a full-time ghost. I have my art. I have this journey.” They broke zir attention completely away from the battlefield and stared at Bridget directly. “What are you besides a Pokémon Professor to-be?”

It took a moment for Bridget to respond with anything more than “Hmm, difficult question, that.” She watched the two Pokémon battle even when Quinn did not. She came up with the answer: “A gym battle fan, I suppose. Dunno how the rest of the world handles ‘em, but in Galar they're a big deal. I’d even bet I’m one of the top fans of my hometown’s gym leader.”

Quinn widened hir eyes. “Oh, your town has a gymnasium as well? Everyone in Eterna City knows the movements of our gymnasium leader, Gardenia. She is surely the city’s foremost celebrity. Even those who do not follow League movements know Gardenia. And why should they not? Everybody sees the influx of fresh young upstarts. We all want to succeed.” Quinn felt herself get a little melancholy, but ey pressed on anyway. “I want to succeed. What I did not have the opportunity for in life…”

But the moment passed quickly. Quinn whipped back around to the battle. The Youngster seemed annoyed and was recalling his Pokémon, but Quinn put a stop to that. “Now, Normandie! Pursuit!”

It was amazing how fast the Ratffian could run when she needed to, glowing with that purple aura as she raced forward to catch the Starly before it could fully retreat into its ball, a snarl so loud that even Quinn had to flinch. But Normandie did let up as soon as all could confirm the Starly had fainted. Quinn was glad for that, at least. “Well done, Normandie!” Quinn said, digging through faer bag. “Come get your reward!”

The Youngster pouted. “It’s not as fun when you’re just battling a Pokémon. I wanted to banter too,” he said.

Only then did Quinn realize just what he had done. “Oh! I apologize. Here, if you go and heal up your Starly we can go again if you like.”

The Youngster wanted to sulk instead. Quinn forewent taking any money from the boy, though. It was the least ze could do. All Quinn could do after that was wish the Youngster luck on finding an opponent who would better respect his time and effort. Yet still, Quinn was happy for the victory. E turned back to Bridget, a smile escaping their lips despite her best efforts. “I think it is time for me to go looking for more Pokémon,” Quinn said. They pointed at the statue off in the distance. “I am going to go this way and see what I can find.”

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Walking up the road, not paying any heed to the conversation the two of her teammates were having Jacklyn said, "oh there you guys are. You'll never believe this! There was some guy with a cool looking mask just now. I wonder if he's also an adventurer?" Before she could get her answer though Jacklyn's eyes immediately shifted to the statue in the center, "Whoa! What the heck is that?" The girl walked on the path, curiously eyeing the statue before walking into the marsh proper. The girl seemed to be bothered by her shoes sinking into the mud at first, disliking how much harder it made it to walk, but shrugged and persevered without much worry. 

Up close and looking at the statue, the girl couldn't help but feel this strange sensation in her head as she tried to figure out just what it was supposed to be. It certainly wasn't a person but if it was supposed to resemble a pokemon she didn't have the faintest idea of which one it would be. It didn't help that she was developing a growing headache, of all the luck, making it harder to figure out anything about it. Furrowing her brow in annoyance, closing her eyes as she put a hand to her chin the girl opened them back up as she thought of something. She then looked back at her map and raised an eyebrow. "Why is there even a statue here?" Jacklyn had grown up in a big city and as such she was very familiar with statues being every which way. She didn't know the purpose of most of them but she generally thought they served some kind of symbol beyond just decoration, or they were some rich person's very expensive decoration for the whole city to see. Not to mention, even the older ones, she still had some idea of what they were trying to depict. Perhaps this was what lead to this sudden insight, though the girl didn't really have anything else to offer. 

Looking back to the rest of the group with a smile on her face she said, "someone take a picture. After all, this is our first major landmark on our journey, so we gotta capture it in a photo right?" The girl winced as her head still hurt, growing a little impatient though her adventurer's spirit still burned brightly. "Oh, I'll take one for you guys if you want too!" 

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Team JAA/AJA/AAJ

“Oh-- I was about to say we should go find Jacklyn, but you have got to tell me more--”

"You wish to know, truly? I was told I should not speak of it but...I am sure they would understand since it is you!" Anima's eagerness seemed to make Anneliese eager as well as she began her tale.

"One of the servants told me about it first. That in the basement lurked the ghost of an old man. At first I did not believe it. After all the house had been built for my parents so why would an old man ghost be haunting it? But I went into the basement after everyone had gone to bed and I saw them! They were dressed like one of the servants and oh so very pale. In the morning I asked the servant about it and as it turns out it was the servants grandfather who used to work there before I was born. They acted very strangely when I asked what happened to him but the servant promised to 'show me' that night." Anneliese frowned. "Sadly I never saw them again, my parents told me that they had to be 'let go' and I never did get to learn anything more."

After telling the story Jacklyn showed up.

"oh there you guys are. You'll never believe this! There was some guy with a cool looking mask just now. I wonder if he's also an adventurer?"

"My goodness how many people wear masks here is this perhaps a fad?" Anneliese said.

As Jacklyn went off to check on the statue Anneliese finally noticed that Leopold was standing there with her hat. "Oh thank you, I was wondering where it had gone off to." She said as she took the hat back from the Pokemon. Quite awkwardly as she was still holding onto the Rookidee. The bird Pokemon seemed to be uncomfortable and yet she didn't do anything to try and get away even as Anneliese tucked her under one arm to put her hat on.

"someone take a picture. After all, this is our first major landmark on our journey, so we gotta capture it in a photo right?"

"My that does sound nice! Er, Anima, could you?" She asked, looking down at Eleanora in her arms.

"Oh, I'll take one for you guys if you want too!" 

"That would be wonderful!" Anneliese said and she suddenly scooped Leopold up as well. The two Pokemon now being pushed together. Leopold looked annoyed while Eleanora looked like she was trying to look annoyed.

Though as Anneliese went towards the statue Eleanora began to squirm more and Anneliese began to hear a ringing noise in her ears. "My, whatever could that be..."

Spoiler

The end sounds like it's setting something up but its not exactly I just wasn't sure where to end it tbh

 

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