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MATURE: Nori Carino: Abyssal Despair

Poor Nori. He's really got his work cut out for him, what with having the Qwilfish that killed a celebrity foisted on him, especially now that he knows Prema's dad was friends with Pete Stephens. Knowing Prema, she'd probably still be on his side, what with their history together, but for all I know you could totally throw me for a loop and have the opposite happen. I am curious as to if there's a deeper reason why Jirou seems to hate Nori beyond the fact that he doesn't share his religious beliefs. Can't wait to read more

(I tried to post my review on here yesterday, but the site was undergoing maintenance, so I was only able to do so today)
 
Poor Nori. He's really got his work cut out for him, what with having the Qwilfish that killed a celebrity foisted on him, especially now that he knows Prema's dad was friends with Pete Stephens. Knowing Prema, she'd probably still be on his side, what with their history together, but for all I know you could totally throw me for a loop and have the opposite happen. I am curious as to if there's a deeper reason why Jirou seems to hate Nori beyond the fact that he doesn't share his religious beliefs. Can't wait to read more

(I tried to post my review on here yesterday, but the site was undergoing maintenance, so I was only able to do so today)
  • A cruel twist indeed. Of course, what will come of it?
  • Jirou may or may not be gone into here.
  • Hopefully more soon...
  • Ah, the inconvenience of maintenance.
 
Chapter 6: Keen Observation
Made a couple edits to the prologue and first two chapters.
  • I tone Pete Stephens down a bit, and also have him talk about Sinnohian Qwilfish a bit more for the sake of viewers in and out of universe, namely saying they're endangered and making clear that Hisui is fiction.
  • Added a small bit to Manna's thoughts on a Pokemon Rehabilitator.
  • To avoid redundancy with the above change, Nori's thoughts on what one is also get changed and point out that yeah, being a good trainer doesn't mean you can get every Pokemon to obey, via Pawniard's history.
  • Changed the reason Terrance is in the news club to being because you have to join a club at Tobari Junior and it was the first to accept him.
  • Modified the bit about Terrance being elated over working on the article to better fit some themes and because it was clunky as it was.
  • I changed a little bit of the lines surrounding the battling team to account for some stuff coming in future chapters. Namely, mentioning Nori still has a couple supporters there as a bit of foreshadowing.
  • Minor tweak in C3 to have Nori speak a line asking about which news Studd is talking about.

It was thirteen months ago when Prema Kannagi met Nori Carino. There were a number of disgruntled members of the shrine who would say that he had barged into her life. Those who found favor in him, including Prema herself, would say something to the same effect. However, they would use a more positive term and place the emphasis upon the curtains he opened. Moreover, the circumstances behind their first meeting as well as their second could be called nothing short of fate. There was no one in her life quite like Nori, and she was as thankful for him as he was for her.

It was obvious from the moment she saw her friend standing before the door of the shrine that something was troubling him. He was tense, wary, and not direct as he often was. Her reaction to the reason behind this had been reflexive. She had not intended to show her shock so overtly, let alone worry him further. With haste, she folded her hands and lightly bowed.

“Forgive me,” she beseeched, albeit in a hushed tone. He only contracted further, wincing in dread, before she scooted closer and reassured him, “It is okay, Nori.” It was all she could think to say.

“Nothing about this is okay,” he fussed, clutching at himself and gripping the capsule tighter. He was wearing an orange and white t-shirt with beige-colored cargo pants. “I have a Pokemon that everyone is going to hate, and it’s aquatic on top of that!”

That was true. His phobia aside, Prema knew that it was an ordeal to train water-dwelling Pokemon to adapt out of water. The shrine’s own Priest Warutsu – one of her battling instructors and the former Gym Leader of Celestic Town before he was given the duty of heading the original shrine – had a number of such Pokemon, including an Overqwil.

“Did you want my help with training?” she speculated, albeit with a measure of unease. For all intents and purposes, he was more skilled and learned than she was. But if he needed support, she would be willing to do her best. After all, part of her duties were to help Pokemon and trainers in need.

“I…guess if you can? Want?” With a hum, he rubbed his chestnut-colored hair with the tips of his fingers. He was as uncertain of it as she. He leaned toward her. “Actually, I wanted you to be there when I meet her for the first time.”

For her to perform an assessment, no doubt. However, there were a few visitors scattered about. Truth be told, Prema had been keeping an eye on them to make sure they were not prying. “Perhaps doing so here would not be best.”

“I know,” he replied, shuffling his hands. “What about our spot?” He glanced over his shoulder at the tree line.

Their spot? It took her a moment to realize what he meant. There was a forested trail behind the shrine where Prema often went to get quiet and fresh air. It was off limits to most individuals. The first time they went there together was when their bond deepened, and when they learned they could trust each other with anything. It was effectively a private place for them to speak, in lieu of Nori entering the shrine.

“It could work,” she admitted. “However…” She made a sidelong glance at the shrine. There was a problem which made it not ideal.

“But what?” he asked, apparently none the wiser about the flaw in his plan.

Prema cleared her throat. Nori fidgeted with uncertainty over her hesitation. She opened her mouth, stopping when she felt a prickle on her neck. This should have been easy to explain, so why was she faltering? She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and attempted to address him as if she were giving a speech to a crowd. “When we raise and bond with Pokemon, we must be aware of their preferred habitats.”

“Yeah, that’s going to be a problem,” he cut in. So he had already realized. Prema looked up at him, the tension in her loosening. “I don’t know if they’re trained out of water, and they’ll probably be more comfortable in it anyway. But I…you know how I do there.”

“Yes. Forgive me. I did not mean to imply pressuring you.” Prema could not claim to have a phobia, but she was aware of many who did. She was aware that it was not necessarily simple to overcome them. Even hypnotherapy had flaws and limitations, not to mention that suppressing traumatic memories (if they were the root cause) was not an avenue some wished to pursue.

“I didn’t think you were.” He tilted his head back and eyed over his shoulder. “Besides, the only water I see here is back there, and well. It’s too small and that’d ruin the purifying stuff.” He chuckled.

She could not help but frown. There was nothing funny about using the chōzu-ya. Besides the issues he was aware of, he would be in all sorts of trouble if he were to do so. Why even consider something as that?

“It was a joke.” He shrugged and smirked. Prema could admit she had trouble with those. “If I can avoid it, I’d like to try. If not…”

He trailed off. Prema guessed what his next words would be. “There will be nothing to do but do it?” It was a mantra of his.

Nori raised a thumb. “Exactly,” he said with a grin before standing. He stretched his arms over his head, placed his hands together, and cracked his knuckles. “We should get moving if we want to get this done.”

Prema did so as well. “Yes, let us go.” Visiting their spot would no doubt attract attention in itself, but it would only be a matter of time before word of his assignment spread. He had not explicitly said so, yet Prema inferred he wished to enjoy these moments of peace before that happened. “We will simply need to let our Pokemon know.”

“So they don’t get worried, right.” He turned to them and shouted, “Hey, Pachi!”

The pair halted their play at once. Pachi hurried over after a short exchange, with Shu not that far behind. Her Pokemon was quick for his species, even if he was not deft.

“Me and Prema are gonna go see You-Know-Who,” Nori told Pachi as the squirrel sat wagging his tail before them. “Just letting you know, so you don’t worry.”

Pachi looked back at Shu, and Shu at Pachi. The two nodded in unison and widened their eyes. The former put his paws together while the latter batted his eyelashes. Together, they made a plea.

Nori rubbed his head. “What?”

Although Prema could not understand the words of Pokemon without the use of her abilities, which involved focus and meditation, theirs were clear enough given the context. “It appears that they wish to accompany us.” It was of little surprise that they had an interest in meeting Qwilfish as well.

Her friend scratched his left cheek and adjusted his hair. “Yeah, it’s a good idea,” he admitted as he stretched to the tips of his feet. He suddenly dropped. “I think. Right?” He spun to her for answers.

She folded her hands. “The presence of other Pokemon would more than likely be beneficial. In particular, since you are this Qwilfish’s new trainer, meeting a Pokemon that is attached to you might help put her mind at ease.”

“Then that’s even better.” He clenched his fists and threw his elbows back. “Let’s go!”

Nori started off with swagger. Prema could not help but giggle a little, especially as the two Pokemon marched right in behind him. Despite what others might believe, she felt that deep down, he had a certain purity of heart. It was a little endearing, actually. She dutifully followed behind him and the Pokemon.

If taming a Pokemon was as simple as throwing a Poke Ball, being compassionate, and having talent at raising them, Nori’s position would not be necessary. The truth was that there were ones who required a more specialized or creative touch. Evidently, the Officials had thought that this Qwilfish was such a Pokemon. Prema had to admit that she was curious as to how they had come to that conclusion.

---​

Their spot, as Nori had referred to it, was a small grove in the trail behind the shrine. Since it was the middle of October, the forest floor had red and yellow leaves scattered about. Many more were periodically drifting down from the canopy. Prema was uncertain who had been cleaning them up prior, but if it was not by the Pokemon of the forest, it would be something for them to do later on into the season.

The only notable feature of their spot was a fallen tree along one side, which provided a place to sit. There were a few chutes of grass and some small stones in the dirt of the semicircular clearing. It was otherwise nondescript.

“Well, we’re here,” said Nori as he glanced all around them. “I guess we shouldn’t waste any time getting ready.”

Prema nodded her approval. “When you are prepared for it, Nori. There is no need to rush yourself.”

He looked at her, then at their Pokemon. Both Pachi and Shu nodded at him. Shu even chirped a short tune. It was of little surprise to Prema. Shu was always the type to care for others, particularly those close enough that he could call them a friend.

It brought a light beam to the Pokemon Rehabilitator’s lips. “Thanks, guys,” he said. Nori retrieved Qwilfish’s capsule. His gaze momentarily went to a dip in the ground. “Puddle, no, won’t work,” he mumbled. Prema had considered the possibility. As he had realized as quickly as he thought of it, none of their Pokemon could use a Water-type move to do so. With no more hesitation besides a whisper of, “Here we go, Nori,” to himself, he gave the ball a gentle underhand toss.

As the ball sailed to the ground, Prema readied herself. As a diviner, she was familiar with the dilemma before them. All aquatic Pokemon are capable of breathing oxygen. Some believed this was a gift by the master of the ocean, if not the Original One so that they might live on the surface with humanity. Yet much as one born above the surface needed to learn to swim, they needed to learn to move on dry land. It was an ordeal for both the Pokemon and their trusted trainers (if they had one), with no single solution even among members of the same species.

It was one of those Pokemon that emerged before them. Qwilfish immediately flopped to the forest floor like a falling Cherubi. She was a female, judging from the length of her spines. As she desperately wriggled in attempt to move, squealing all the while, Nori’s mouth fell agape and his chest caved inward. He looked helplessly at the sight before them. His cherry-like retinas were clouded over. Prema felt her pulse start to quicken. Before either of them could react or say anything, their Pokemon sprang into action.

With a crescendoing chirp, Shu flew to the side of Qwilfish. Pachi was following until Nori shouted, “Wait, it could be dangerous!” His Pokemon stopped instantly and shouted to hers, and before Prema could think about doing the same, Shu was over there.

The pink bird squawked concern as Qwilfish tried to right herself. When she saw the Spritzee right beside her, she let out a gurgle. Her body stiffened and she sucked in air. She let it out almost instantly with a cry, the force making her bump into the Fairy-type.

When her friend began to falter and sputter, Prema took a step forward. “Shu!” she shouted.

Nori threw out an arm, aimed the Dive Ball, and fired the beam to recall his Pokemon. His reaction was swift and likely instinctive. His aim was precise, even while Qwilfish was flopping as if she was using Splash. He cut a striking figure before rushing to the aid of the injured Pokemon; Prema was only a half-step behind.

Pachi was the first to reach Shu, but they were there less than two seconds later. Prema scooped her Pokemon into her arms. “He is suffering from poison. Only a minor case,” she assessed. It was most likely the Poison Point ability that had caused it. Shu was tougher than he appeared, but that did not mean it was a pleasant feeling.

“Do you have an Antidote?” Nori asked.

She shook her head. “No. I have Pecha Berries, however.”

Her friend nodded and pulled a small vial of yellow fluid from his right pocket. “I’ll use mine anyway, since my assignment did this.”

Prema reached into the inner pockets of her robe. “No, it was my suggestion that our Pokemon be out.” She had considered the possibility of injury, and surely Nori did as well. However, she should have warned Shu sooner.

While still cradling Shu, she held the pink berry in front of his beak. He wasted no time leaning forward and snapping it down in one bite. It took about eight seconds for the effects to take hold, first easing the pain, then neutralizing the toxins as the enzymes rapidly broke them down.

“Jeez,” Nori muttered. “What you were thinking, rushing in there like that?” Pachi seemed to echo the same sentiment, although he expressed it with far more compassion. He came running to her and looked up at Shu.

“Shu, I know you were only trying to help,” Prema consoled, patting him on his tuft. “I am relieved that your injury was minor. Yet it might have been far worse if she had chosen to do something more drastic.”

Shu groaned and turned his gaze away. He quietly chirped an apology.

“That being said,” she said, gently lowering him to the ground to see his friend. “I am relieved that you are okay.”

Pachi patted Shu on the beak, while giving what sounded like advice. The two Pokemon hugged, with the squirrel giving the Fairy-type a hearty clap on the back. It made Prema smile, but Nori had turned off to the side. He was staring vacantly at the sea-blue ball, which he held in front of his face.

“Nori?” She approached him. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. But I recalled her on impulse,” Nori admitted what Prema had expected as he pocketed the capsule. He rolled an ankle and sighed. “Probably not good to send her out again right away. So much for meeting her. A girl, you said?”

“Yes, she is female. I believe recalling her was the correct decision.” It was to her understanding that he had been trained to recall his assignments at the first sign that they might endanger innocents.

Shu repeated his chirps. Prema understood what he was attempting to convey from hearing the pattern before and his languid posture. She translated. “Shu apologizes, as do I. I should have warned him as you did Pachi.”

Her friend shrugged and smiled. “I guess having them out did hurt after all,” he found a bit of humor in the situation.

Prema chuckled. “I suppose so. Again, I apologize.” She folded her hands and bowed lightly.

“It’s fine, no use stressing. Anyway, what did you think?” he inquired, putting his hands together. “Even if it was like, for fifteen seconds.”

It was brief, but more than enough for her to go on. “I sensed no malice from her,” Prema stated. The priestess was uncertain of how else to put it but simply, “She was frightened and confused.”

He straightened his posture and put his hands on his hips. “I thought she would be,” he boasted with a broad smile on his lips.

Prema blinked slowly. “You did?”

Nori nodded. “Prema, I’m trained in reading Pokemon too. Not like you, but still. I saw the video, she looked scared and lost even then, and being abandoned would hit anyone hard.” He placed a hand on the back of his head and glanced up at the canopy. “Glad to know I was right.”

The video, yes. Prema had not watched the program in question, but she had heard of the events. So he knew what to expect from this meeting based on logic and instinct. Was she mistaken about why he had asked for her aid? What was with his sudden confidence and boisterous demeanor?

“Nori,” she asked, again folding her hands and pressing them against her stomach. “Forgive my asking, and I would like to make clear that I do not mind if there is no practical reason for your showing me her. But I am curious as to your intentions in coming here to do so.”

“Hey, there’s a couple reasons!” He raised a thumb and winked. “It wasn’t just to come see you. Even though that was part of it.”

“As I thought you had,” she paraphrased his earlier words. He had implied as such. “If I may help in any way, please do not hesitate to ask.” It was her duty not just to a Pokemon in need, but as a friend.

Nori’s arms went slack. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. Like with helping me train her if I really need it.” That was an idle supposition on her behalf, although one she was willing to commit herself to if requested. Nori thought for a few moments before asking, “I guess I should, since you’re offering. Did you sense anything peculiar from her? Anything that stood out?”

Prema gently closed her eyes. “I was unable to get enough of a read on her.” If there were any intricacies to the emotions of Qwilfish, they were being drowned out by her panic. “Anything I say would be speculation.”

“Well, what’s your speculation?”

She shook her head. “It would be unbecoming of me to make too many assumptions about an individual.” Prema was not about to judge this Qwilfish based off one meeting when she was not of sound mind. “That said, I will say that I believe the cause of her distress was due to the circumstances. Shu exacerbated the issue, but did not change the result.”

Nori turned away. “Yeah,” he conceded. “A middle of a forest with two people and two Pokemon, far away from where she was. I at least hope they talked to her before sending her to me, but I don’t know their protocol with that. All I know is she was caught in the lake by the camerawoman, so if she went from there to here…”

Prema did not respond as quickly as she wished. It was difficult to tell Nori this. She did not want to offend him, so she chose her words carefully. “When you next meet with her, it would be for the best if it was in an environment more suited for her.”

He hung his head. “I know,” he said quietly, folding his hands over his sternum.

She walked in front of him, a meter apart. “I understand that it will be difficult for you.”

“It will be, it will be. But!” he chimed in, waving his right hand in tune with his words. He paused for two seconds, a finger raised before he dropped it and turned away. “I’ll…figure something out that’ll work for us both.”

The priestess smiled and nodded. “I know you will, Nori.”

The encouragement brightened his face. “Thanks, Prema,” he said, giving a light bow of his own. “Appreciate you doing this.”

“You are welcome, although I believe my presence caused more harm than good for the reasons we discussed.” She had yet to actually do anything to help besides give positive reinforcement. Granted, sometimes that was the best thing you could do for someone.

“Don’t be silly, you did plenty good,” he told her. “I wanted someone around just in case anything bad happened, and you’re the only one I can ask to do this stuff.”

“In case anything bad happened to you, I see.” That was sensible. He asked her for a second opinion as well as a safeguard. It was now all in perspective. “Then I am glad to have helped.”

He looked down the trail. “I guess we should head back, now that we’re done.”

“Yes,” she concurred. “Shu, let us go.”

The four of them set out once more. The Pokemon chattered excitedly. As they went back onto the trail, Nori had a question for her.

“Do you think she’ll be fine?” He pressed his index fingers together. “Qwilfish with me, that is.”

Prema again did not reply straight away. That was difficult to answer. There was no guarantee. He was certainly aware that not every Pokemon would accept anyone. Just because he had tamed the Nidorina known as the Demon and made significant steps with the Pawniard once owned by the Blackout Killer did not mean he could gain the trust of anything. That was not what she was worried about, however.

“Prema?” Nori paused in his tracks, his widening gaze locked on her.

“I was thinking of how to word it,” she made it clear. “I believe that she should be if you put in the necessary effort. But will you be able to care for an aquatic Pokemon like her?” Would he be fine with Qwilfish, in other words?

“I don’t know,” he quickly and openly admitted. “I’ll just have to try.”

Prema approved. Sometimes, that was all a Pokemon Trainer could do.

---​

“Do you think he will, friend?” Shu asked Pachi.

“Of course!” the squirrel boasted. Nori was a great trainer, even if he, or a ton of other people really, didn’t seem to think so. But there was something else. “Eee, by the way. Did you understand what the spiny sphere was saying?”

Shu flapped his wings in front of him. “It sounded like hums and screams to me.”

“I thought it was kind of like bipping and booping.”

“It did sound like it now that you say it!” Shu squeaked a giggle.

Pachi twitched his tail. It wasn’t like Pokemon all spoke the same language; they had four common ones in fact. So Shu didn’t know hers either? It was a long shot anyway. Pachi would’ve loved to help Nori out with some words to their new Fenadh, but would he be able to? Did she know any of theirs?
 
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Huh, Prema took that better than I expected. Though knowing her, she probably would have kept a cool head regardless. This was a nice chapter, showing them trying to help the Qwilfish and getting a feel for her personality and so on. I admit I didn't expect to see Shu and Pachi's dialogue translated, and I have a feeling you're gonna use that for something important. Great job as always!
 
Huh, Prema took that better than I expected. Though knowing her, she probably would have kept a cool head regardless. This was a nice chapter, showing them trying to help the Qwilfish and getting a feel for her personality and so on. I admit I didn't expect to see Shu and Pachi's dialogue translated, and I have a feeling you're gonna use that for something important. Great job as always!
- Detail you glossed over, Prema didn't take it with a cool head at first. She quickly recovered, but it's telling.
- Well, they tried to help and get a feel for her personality. Didn't work.
- Oh, believe me, it's very important. This is just a small tip of what I'm going to get into in this fic.
 
Well, that still went a bit better than the first time he called out Pawniard. Progress.(y)

Translated Pokéspeak! I don't recall that happening in your previous fics outside when Prema was talking to hers in Memory of a Ghoul.
 
Well, that still went a bit better than the first time he called out Pawniard. Progress.(y)

Translated Pokéspeak! I don't recall that happening in your previous fics outside when Prema was talking to hers in Memory of a Ghoul.
Well, better and worse at the same time. He couldn't do anything and someone actually got hurt, but it was probably an accident.

And yeah, the translated speak is new here. It's the warning shot of things to come.
 
Chapter 7: Mindful Family
Yumi Takao came from a traditionalist, if not a very strict family. They lived with their paternal grandparents, ate and did things as a family, spoke the country’s language at home, and were expected to follow Japanese values to a certain degree. They also always needed permission to go out or bring friends home. If they did go out, they were expected back by 5pm, or earlier if asked. Anyone staying over was out of the question.

This made it difficult to hold friends, at least in the sense that most people consider friends to be. It was not like these values were uncommon, but it was rare for them to be so heavily enforced in this day and age.

It was because of this that she understood her twin brother’s motives. But what he wanted to do was crazy. She first heard about it on Tuesday, and only now did she muster the courage to speak to him about it.

“Touya,” she started. “About what you–”

His right hand flew forward and caught her lips, preventing her from saying more. “Ailmay atyay oolschay,” he said.

Yumi tried to protest. She raised her arm and counted the days. Tonight, tomorrow, the day after, then Monday. That was too long. But Touya gave his head a firm shake. Not now, he mouthed in plain English before glancing at the door. She had unwittingly closed it, which made them look secretive.

She had told them that she wanted to show him a video as the pretext for stepping away. She needed to convince their grandpa it wasn’t anything he’d enjoy. Yumi didn’t think their family would try to listen in, but…there was the time they understood them talking Babigo.

Another example of how traditional their family was had to do with the fact that she was born nine minutes before her brother. Their parents expected her to behave like the older sibling because of it. They only did so if needing to put on an air. In practice, they were always equals to each other. Yet she wanted to be the older sister now. She wanted to tell Touya that what he and his girlfriend were planning was a bad idea. But would he listen to her pleas?

Yumi shifted the subject. “Sanae-chan is a great girl,” she remarked. As she did so, she staggered over to the desk where her tablet was resting. She wasn’t sure what she would look up, but it had to be something. Their parents’ filters limited the options at home.

“She is great,” Touya happily sighed. She heard the bedsprings squeak as he jumped onto the bed.

“You’re lucky to have found her.” She was glad, but also worried. She had been with her brother since conception, but if they went through with their plan… “I wish…”

She only mumbled her thoughts aloud, but Touya answered. “It is because you never acted on your crushes in any way, big sister,” he teased. “Like with Carino-sama.”

The blood flew to Yumi’s face, bringing with it a heat that made her worry she was going to start sweating. “Well I…there was…” she stumbled over the words. It was so embarrassing to think about now. “There was never a good moment back then. It was just passing, too!”

“Yes. Things went wrong because of Louis-san and Mariko-san.” He sighed. “But you got over it. Now you’re friends, right?”

“Y-yeah…” She bit down on her lip hard. It was a good thing she had her back turned as she browsed. She still liked him, just for different reasons. But she wasn’t going to admit that. Not to anyone. Maybe she had a chance with him back then, but she’d just get laughed at now. At best. She was almost stupid enough to confess during their walk earlier, but she managed to internally talk herself out of it.

“Just don’t be afraid of rejection,” Touya consoled.

“Like you’re one to talk,” she snipped back playfully. Her fingers flowed idly as she browsed.

He smirked. Sanae was the one who had confessed to him. “Well, the right person will find you someday, big sister.”

Yumi doubted that would ever happen. There was still that quiet stigma from being in Youths Against Mistaken Society. Plus, she wasn’t anything special. That was the other problem with making friends. Few people, let alone boys, wanted to give her the time of day. It was not that she had any regrets. She still owed a lot to YAMS, especially Louis. She met Nori–

She blinked. That wasn’t the thought she had intended to jump to. But his name was on the screen. In her reverie, she had opened a news site. He was in the news!

“Touya, look!” she gasped, clutching at her heart. Her brother was on his feet and over her shoulder in a flash.

“Eh!?” he vocalized as she raised the tablet, so he could see better.

The sensationalist title screamed out to the world in big bold letters: KROOKODILE TRACKER’S KILLER GIVEN TO CONTROVERSIAL OFFICIAL NORI CARINO

“No, no, no…” she whispered. Her throat felt like it was being squeezed, and her heart seemed to stop. That was the Pokemon he was rehabilitating?!

“Click in!” Touya said, unwittingly in English.

She tried, missing the link the first two times. Not only were her thoughts elsewhere, her fingers had started to cramp. She eventually managed it. The article was in plain English, but it was like reading a foreign language. She couldn’t process any of it. How could this happen? What was happening?!

Nori said that he was getting a new Pokemon to rehabilitate, but why did it have to be this one?! What were the Officials thinking?! Were they thinking at all?! And that news article! And all the–

“Yumi-kun! Touya-kun! What are you doing?!” came the impatient holler of their father from downstairs.

“Oh, we had better get going,” grumbled Touya. This was how their parents were. It was only going to get worse once the rest of the family arrived tomorrow. Yumi had no choice but to close up the tablet and go back to the family room.

She needed to talk with Nori about it. She had to, no matter what! She would go over to his place tomorrow, but that was when the rest of the family was coming over. And Sunday was when they had family activities planned, namely picnicking and boating at Shiroisuna Beach. No getting out of it. So first thing in the morning at school on Monday. Two and a half whole painful days to wait. Until that time, she could only pray nothing bad happened.

##########​

It was just after 8pm and Nori Carino found himself alone with his thoughts.

He lived in the trailer park on the east side of Veilstone City. His friend Rashid had told him that his mom was out getting groceries, so he had the vehicle to himself. It was just the two of them; there had never been any other human male in the house for any extended duration. Which he liked. His mom managed what little money they got from the government well. Even though Nori had his own income now, he was saving a lot of it on her advice.

The trailer was not necessarily a quiet place, which was something he sorely missed from having his own room in the Sunyshore Gym. However, it was nevertheless a private place. People sometimes yelled outside (or loud enough to be heard through their own trailers) or come to the door, but he could tune them out. There were drapes for every window, even the windshield. He wouldn’t be surprised if they had to make use of them soon.

His first meeting with the Qwilfish had been brief, but he had learned a lot from it. None of it looked promising. Never mind the fact that he was going to have to take her…to her natural environment. The Officials had assigned him a scared and confused Pokemon dealing with severe trauma. How could he handle this?! Wasn’t mental health stuff something that special facilities were supposed to take care of? Between his first assignment and now this, it almost felt like they were trying to set him up to fail!

The boy huffed. “No, no. No, Nori,” he said to himself. They wouldn’t do that. They spent a lot on his training. Unless it was because of the problems he caused during it? He put his elbows on the table he was sitting at (which folded into his bed). His head fell into his hands, covering his squinted eyes. That might be possible…

“But no. Even if it’s true, you have to try.”

Try. Maybe he was overthinking things and worrying about things that weren’t there. One thing was for sure. If he didn’t try, this Qwilfish wouldn’t have any hope at all.

He felt a tiny paw on his leg. He looked at the floor to see Pachi beside him. The squirrel squeaked and gestured to the capsule on the table.

Nori gave a blank stare in reply. “Wha…?” he let out, involuntarily. His worries were making it difficult to process the meaning. Not that it was ever straightforward when speaking with Pokemon. At least they had a knack for getting people’s intent, but it didn’t work the other way around for some stupid reason.

Pachi stood tall. He motioned with his tiny arms. To himself, to Nori, to the capsule while speaking. When the boy still didn’t understand, he started chittering something in a loop. Three syllables. He pointed at himself at the first syllable and at Nori with the last. Words? Nori knew you could tell by syllables sometimes, but Pokemon had their own words for the most part.

“You’ll help me?” he guessed. Maybe that was not exactly what it was. But it was the only thing he could think of that made sense in the context.

The worst that could have happened was Pachi saying no and going into further charades to try to get his point across. But the squirrel seemed to say yes, and besides that, confirmed with his body language. Reading others was actually part of Nori’s studies, but he didn’t need it to understand the squirrel’s eyes lighting up and a nod.

“Thanks. I could use all the help I can get.”

Pachi leaped onto his lap and wrapped his tiny arms around Nori as best he could. He returned the hug. The Demon might be willing to assist as well, come to think of it. Definitely not Pawniard. The sadistic Pokemon would just make things worse.

It was at that moment that he heard the lock slide open. Nori got his guard up in panicked instinct, only lowering it upon seeing his mom. He could spot her flowing black hair and dress anywhere.

“Hey, ma.” He often called her that out of habit, even though he’d outgrown his rural accent.

She was stooped and rigid, and she stamped lightly with each step. Her brow was wrinkled, and she had her lips pursed – maybe biting them in her mouth. His mom locked the door behind her and turned to him. Her brown eyes were somewhat reddened. She cleared her throat roughly. “I heard what they threw on you this time,” she said, tossing her gaze at the new Poke Ball.

He could see it from the moment she walked in. Worry and frustration. “Yeah. Stupid reporter. I guess that saves needing to explain, at least.” Hearing it on the news wasn’t how he wanted her – or anyone – to find out.

Pachi hopped off Nori to greet her. She gave the electric squirrel a pat before sitting across from her son. She crossed her arms and leaned back as Pachi climbed over and sat to her left. “Figured it was something like that.” After a moment, she tilted her head. “You didn’t say anything to her?” she asked for clarification.

“No, she was hiding up a tree when I met with Mr. Martins.” That was not where he was expecting someone to conceal themselves. He would have to start paying closer attention to stuff like that from now on. That and/or get the meeting place moved. “I just said I had no comment and walked away.”

“Good,” she huffed. “This is bad enough with that twisted report. We don’t need them twisting your words.”

He thought it would be a good idea to put out a statement, just not at the time. Nori had been aware of the gravity of the situation from the moment he was told of his assignment. But it was only now starting to sink in.

“I don’t like this.”

“Me neither,” said his mom. She leaned over the table. “Damn Officials. Are you sure you can handle this, Nori?”

She picked up on the big problem. A lot of people knew about his phobia, courtesy of several incidents where it was exposed. But only two others in the world knew why he felt that way. His mom was there when he fell overboard on that cruise ship. He would have drowned if it wasn’t for that wild Pokemon. He only told the story to one other person after another incident where he nearly drowned. Lux Blomgren. A very, very good friend of his who was torn from his life. Arumi was his best friend, Prema was his most trusted, and the news club were the ones he saw most regularly, but Lux would be all three if he was still around. Maybe even more than friends, considering something he noticed in a birthday letter Lux had sent him.

But there was no point in thinking about hypotheticals or things beyond his control at the moment. She asked a question, so he answered honestly. When he shook his head slightly, his mom’s hands flew to her hips. “Then you should have said no.”

“I tried. They wouldn’t let me.”

“Shit,” she cursed under her breath. “Is it fine out of water?” His mom held her breath.

“I tried checking when I went to see Prema earlier,” he confirmed. “It wasn’t good. She started gasping and panicking right away. I had to recall her fast because she hurt Prema’s Pokemon. It was an accident when she puffed up and touched her Spritzee.”

She repeated her curse, this time louder and accompanied by striking the table with a palm. Pachi actually jumped at the sudden sound. “So what now?” she said, throwing up her arms and shaking her head.

“I…” He swallowed. “I’ll manage, I think.” Hope. “But…”

“But what?”

He had been thinking about it, and dealing with his phobia wasn’t what he was dreading the most. No, there was something worse. He knew what to expect with that, but not with this. The mere thought of it made his throat tighten and his skin itch.

His voice got caught in his mouth at first. He grunted and groaned before explaining. “A few people in the news club are big fans of the Tracker. I’m worried what they’re going to think. And others.” Prema was just one person. And it wasn’t like he could use the shrine as a haven even if everyone there supported him. And there was a chance the most important person there wouldn’t, though he wasn’t going to tell his mom that part yet. He just hoped that it wouldn’t get in the way of him and Prema’s friendship.

“Nori, if they think poorly of you because you’re doing your job, it proves they aren’t really your friends.” She got up and put a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve been through worse. You can make it through this.”

He stood up and into a hug from her, although he felt so physically drained all of a sudden that he could barely return it. She was right: he could handle the worst-case scenario better than Qwilfish’s natural environment. But she was missing the point.

“I know, I just don’t want to lose them,” he remarked as Pachi hopped down and joined in on hugging them. Nori had always found it hard to make friends, so losing any for any reason always stung. And he’d lost way too many for stupid reasons. Some, like Lux, weren’t even his fault. It was like he was cursed, or had the worst luck ever, or both.

“Better you know now than later,” his mom said, clapping his back and releasing him.

He groaned, half in agreement and half in frustration, as he picked up Pachi. He wished school still happened on Saturdays in Japan like it did decades ago, just so he could find out sooner. Instead, he had two whole days to get through before he could see the club and see where they stood. Even though the young official wanted to make the most of the weekend, he was not confident about making much progress or changing anyone’s mind so soon.
 
This was a pretty short chapter, and a breeze to read through. It's nice that we got to know a little bit more about Yumi. I do wonder what the deal is with Touya and his girlfriend? It's also nice that Nori is able to confide in his mom about what's been going on with the Qwilfish. I can totally relate to Nori's frustration with losing friends or being unable to keep them for some reason or other. I've lost a few friends throughout my life, and a lot of it was because they just moved on with their lives and we just didn't keep contact. Can't wait to read more. Keep up the good work like always!
 
This was a pretty short chapter, and a breeze to read through. It's nice that we got to know a little bit more about Yumi. I do wonder what the deal is with Touya and his girlfriend? It's also nice that Nori is able to confide in his mom about what's been going on with the Qwilfish. I can totally relate to Nori's frustration with losing friends or being unable to keep them for some reason or other. I've lost a few friends throughout my life, and a lot of it was because they just moved on with their lives and we just didn't keep contact. Can't wait to read more. Keep up the good work like always!
  • Keep in mind basically every chapter in this fic is short. There's still just as much content, I just divide it up more.
  • Yeah. Most certainly the biggest thing I drop in here is her infatuation with Nori. Well, officially drop. There were signs as far back as the previous fic if you read into some of her actions and behavior.
  • Well, let's sum it up for you. Yumi heard about what happened on Tuesday. From Touya's pig-latin, you can draw the conclusion that when Nori walked into the club in the first chapter (not prologue) and saw Yumi looking at an email - it's now reasonable to say it was from Touya. She didn't seem to react well at the time and seemed eager to hide it. Now we're hearing more about it, and she's thinking it's crazy, and "because of [her family's values]" she understands it at least. With all that, let's hear your theory! :)
  • If he wasn't able to talk to his mom about it, there would be a lot of cause for concern.
  • Some of the events of Official In-Training, not to mention the Claris incident , definitely hit Nori hard. But what you might've glossed over - or might've not - is that Yumi was lamenting not being able to make friends from her end. And yeah, I feel that too; part of the inspiration behind it is from me, after all.
 
Chapter 8: Decisive Thoughts New
It's the fourth birthday of this series! If you don't count Marvelous Journey Awry, but that's more like a noncanon prototype. Had to update for it when I noticed. Kind of a good chapter for a birthday update I feel given the callbacking and expositing here, as well as a new perspective.

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Before he went to sleep on Friday, Nori had considered his course of action for the weekend. He had come to two conclusions. The first was that he needed to take Qwilfish somewhere where she would feel comfortable. That meant…water. He didn’t want to. But the second thing he admitted to himself was that the sooner it was out of the way, the sooner he could stop dreading it.

After breakfast, he stepped out into the crisp morning air. It was a pleasant day, at least. The sun was out, and there were only a few scattered clouds in the sky.

“Greetings, Norcar!” He looked to see his next door neighbor, Rashid al-Bahar, who was taking out his garbage. The older tan-skinned teenager was clad in a white shirt and plain blue jeans. “How are you doing today?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” he insisted for some reason. His reaction was somewhat spontaneous.

Luckily, Rashid wasn’t the type to push and ask questions. “Good!” He clapped heartily. “So how goes the rehabilitation?”

Nori winced at the logical follow-up question. Even Rashid, with all his airheadedness, would be able to see through that reflexive movement. He gave an honest answer. “Well, I’ve made good progress on Pawniard. I haven’t started on the new one yet.”

“I cannot blame you, friend.” Rashid patted him on the back. He was privy to Nori’s phobia despite not knowing the context. And if that was not a factor, even he would realize how screwy this was. “It is good you are fine because of it. I am hoping it stays that way.”

“I’m not confident. Oh!” Speaking of which, he had an idea! “Rashid, would you mind if I used your phone internet for a bit later on?”

Nori owned a laptop, which had been a birthday gift from Volkner back in July. He didn’t have any sort of internet, so at home, he could only use it for writing articles and playing some card or logic games. But his neighbor had shown him a trick that let him get internet from a phone. A hotspot?

Rashid rubbed his ragged black hair. He considered the question for far longer than Nori was expecting. “Well, okay,” he conceded. “But it must be quick. I have limits on data.”

“I’ll just need to check my email,” he assured. The site wasn’t that big. He would prefer to check it from the comfort of home, or as close to it as he could get, rather than going to a public place.

“Oh, that is easy then.” Rashid stood tall, proud to be of help to his famous friend. “Would you like to check now?”

“Later on,” he said, waving off the offer. He had a plan for today, one he had been thinking about all night, and he didn’t want to be tripped up by anything there. “I have to feed my Pokemon now.” It would be a good chance to brief the two on the situation as well.

Pachi already knew about Qwilfish, so there was no need to have him out for this. The squirrel was eating in the trailer anyway. It helped that he ate with his hands, so there wasn’t much of a mess to clean up. But the Demon was more sloppy and there was no way Nori would let Pawniard out inside. For all the progress he had made, he was not that confident the bladed Pokemon would cooperate.

The Demon Nidorina, as she used to be called and what Nori effectively adopted as her nickname, was a huge specimen. On top of that, her spines were more pronounced, her teal body was muscular, and she even had a prominent horn when most of her species wouldn’t even have a little one. By contrast, Pawniard was more average, aside from a chip in his horn. The red-and-black Pokemon almost always wore either a psychotic grin or an arrogant smirk, but it wasn’t uncommon for him to have a plain cold expression. Which is what he had upon emerging.

The Nidorina took a step away from her comrade and turned her nose up at him. Pawniard only chuckled and rolled a blade. Both had been infamous for their violence as a wild Pokemon and willful helper to a serial killer respectively, but their personalities and how far they would go set them apart.

“Well, we have a new teammate,” he said to the two.

Both turned to him with interest. Pawniard had a sick grin plastered on his face, whereas the Demon stood more neutrally.

“I can’t introduce you now, though. But she’s a Qwilfish who…” His throat dried up. “Probably accidentally killed a celebrity.”

Pawniard reacted by cackling and clanging his blades together in applause. It didn’t completely surprise Nori. What did was the Demon’s response. He was expecting her not to do much but give stoic acknowledgment, so it was disconcerting when she squinted and gave an aghast bark.

“She’s not like Pawniard here!” he sputtered in a desperate bid to clarify. The last thing he needed was having his Pokemon to turn against her. “She got abandoned in Johto and’s really scared!”

That got the Demon to tentatively ease up, but she muttered something while rolling her eyes and stamping a paw. Pawniard, however, huffed and shook his head while scraping his nails against the dirt.

“Just don’t scare her if and when you meet her, okay?” he requested of the two.

The Nidorina nodded and said something that was probably “yes,” before shooting a glare at Pawniard. With a chuckle, he half-turned away and flippantly waved at her. He then winked at Nori and added something more that made the Demon growl.

Well, he wasn’t planning on it, the latter especially, but it seemed they both agreed for the most part? “Anyway, time for breakfast.” He picked up the feed bag and poured some out for the Demon, then Pawniard. He also set out some nuts and lettuce; the red and black Pokemon wasted no time gobbling up the latter.

As he watched them eat, Rashid walked over. “So, how will you go from here?”

He glanced at his older friend, somewhat surprised he was taking an interest. “Well, Maylene has one of those little portable pools. I was thinking of borrowing it so Qwilfish has something to sit in.” He could handle that much. As long as he stood far enough back.

Rashid rolled an ankle and looked away. Nori turned around, only for Rashid to speak up. “Why do you not use the bathtub?”

Nori’s eyebrows lightly raised. He hadn’t thought of that! And that could work. It still wouldn’t be a lot, and it’d be way more convenient than trying to find their pool, dragging it out, and filling it up. Plus, it’d be way more private!

“That…” He spun back, at a loss for words. How did he not think of something so simple?! Sure, he didn’t have a bathtub in his trailer, but still! Maylene’s place should! He slapped both sides of his face. He needed to focus here! “Yeah, that’s easier. Ugh, why didn’t I think of that?! Thanks, man.”

Rashid made a goofy salute. “I am glad to help you!”

He nodded and smiled. Help. Nori knew he was going to need as much help as he could get for this one. So he’d take it from any source. He turned to see that the Demon had already finished eating. Pawniard looked over and shook his head while enjoying the rest of his meal.

Nori laughed a little. Food was food to the Demon, and she was often quick to finish so that she could get into training. “Well, we can get a bit of practice in. How’s that thing coming along?”

She answered by shrouding her front claws in a ghastly black aura. She swiped one and then the other, maintaining the typed effect for a few seconds after.

“A new move?” asked Rashid.

“An old one,” he said. “Just different.” She’d always known Shadow Claw since he caught her, but they’d been practicing to make it even better. She might not have had much move variety for her level of strength, but the Demon was very good at using the eight or nine moves she did regularly use.

“Well, I have to get back inside. Good luck today, my friend.” Rashid clapped him on the shoulders.

“Thanks, Rashid. I’ll be by tonight or tomorrow for the email thing.” He nodded and saw his friend off before turning back to the Demon with a hand on his hip. “Okay, once Pawniard’s done, we’ll run a bit around the trailer park before I leave to do that thing.”

The Demon stretched in anticipation and looked over at the Dark and Steel Pokemon. Pawniard visibly slowed down as her gaze fell upon him. He methodically pierced a kibble with his claws, traced it around his mouth, and flicked his tongue out to take a lick. She barked in annoyance, to which he shrugged and popped it in his mouth, chewing loudly with his mouth open.

The thought of just going despite Pawniard not being finished eating occurred, but Pachi would want to join in too. And he wasn’t about to leave Pawniard unattended under the watch of just Pachi or his mom. So he just patted the teal beast.

“Don’t let him get to you.” She huffed, but continued to shoot daggers at the Pokemon which once belonged to a serial killer. Pawniard snickered at her and continued to eat slowly. “And don’t waste too much time,” he mediated. There were limits. With a calm response, a nod, and a wave of his claws, Pawniard resumed eating at a normal pace. That made the Demon roll her eyes. She pointed, Nori gave a thumbs up, and she went off on her own. He trusted her, and he’d get his exercise later.

He watched her disappear around the bend. It was a good thing he wasn’t being graded on how well Pawniard got along with his other Pokemon, because they both hated him for different reasons. Though today was mostly going to be about his new assignment. How would his other Pokemon take to Qwilfish? And what would Qwilfish herself think of them once they finally got a chance to talk?

##########​

It was a nice cool day. Pachi liked those. When it was too hot, he sometimes wished he could shed his fur. But it was nice. The sun wasn’t even in the sky.

When he heard they were running, he went out as fast as he could! It was good not just for training speed, but practicing moving quick too. The crimson blade didn’t join them, which didn’t rustle his tail at all. So Nori had to stay and keep watch. It was just him and his friend, two Akeresa having fun! Well, her friend was actually growling and grumbling. Not really having fun.

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong, Demon?” he asked her.

Her harsh eyes glared at him for a fleeting second, but she kept her eyes on what was forward. “That epafasu pisses me off,” she explained. Demon spoke in a rough voice, but also a strong and regal one. It was strange comparing the two! They didn’t have a word, but people did. What was it, Jukatopes? “Don’t like calling things rekuradh, but that’s a damn rekuradh.”

“A what?” There were words in their languages that couldn’t be easily translated.

rekuradh,” she repeated. Hey, fun little fact! Capitalization was important! Lack thereof was too!

“Rrr-ekk-uhr-add.” He sounded the word out. “What’s that? And what epafasu?” He didn’t see any animals around here that could be annoying her.

“Your species is from land, don’t you know anything?!” she snapped. “Didn’t your friends or family teach you the language before you got yourself caught by some greedy manh?”

“I was born from an egg in the Sunyshore Gym and raised there!” he bragged, trying not to puff out his chest too much because they were still running. “It’s the first I’m hearing that term!”

“I should’ve known from your verb order.” Pachi whined a bit, but mostly teasingly. Saying things like ‘Nori loves us!’ was accepted, even if the standard way was literally ‘Nori us loves!’ Demon explained, “It’s a term of familiarity that means one who is not welcome. And I mean that Pawniard thing!”

“Ohhhh. I learned a new word!” He liked learning new words, no matter what language they came from! “And I agree. He’s mean!” He wouldn’t go as far to call him epafasu though! That was too rude!

“He’s a psychopath.” Demon was always super blunt. “He’d fakynota things for the fun of it.”

“vv-ack-ein-oht-ah? What’s THAT?” That’s two words he didn’t recognize just now!

Demon was much less belligerent about explaining this one. In fact, she was a little angry. “The act of killing slowly and painfully. Often used as punishment for bad rekuradh no less.”

“That’s awful!” he cried. Who would do that?!

“The wild life can be hellish, Fenadh.” Pachi smiled a little on hearing that word. Not a friend, but the next best thing. It was nice to hear her openly say that to him. “Maybe you’re lucky you didn’t have to experience it.”

Pachi asked, “Did something happen to you?”

“You’re nosy.” She growled. Pachi always wondered about his friend. She had to have a big history before she became the Demon, right? But she wasn’t willing to talk about it. Instead, she changed the subject. “Carino’s got a new Akeresa.”

Pachi smiled that she called him that instead of leader or something. It was a start! Now she just needed to call him Nori! “Yes, I met her. She seems okay.”

Demon stopped so suddenly that Pachi almost crashed into a green metal cylinder while trying to react and stop too. “What?” Her tone was deadpan. “Are you sure your head’s okay?”

“It’s true!” Pachi insisted, clapping his paws. “She’s a spiny sphere, they called her a Qwilfish. But she’s very scared. Her trainer abandoned her, and she accidentally killed a famous manh.” That was all he got from their meeting and overhearing Nori and Prema. She was mostly screaming and wheezing when they met, and he couldn’t understand any of her words.

“Well, it better be a damn accident!” Demon loved to fight, but she hated murderers who do it on purpose. And well, a lot of other stuff. But she had a big problem with it for some reason.

“It’s true! It’s true!” He did a little dance. Nori repeated things for emphasis a lot! He could too!

Demon’s eyes rotated. “I’ll see for myself.” After a second, she stomped a paw. “And thought of something.”

“What did you think of?” he asked, swishing his tail.

“Carino fears water. Those spiny spheres are aquatic.” As expected from Demon, she knew what species he was talking about! “That’s a problem if she isn’t used to being out of it.”

Pachi knew that. But he’d come to change his mind after some thinking! “I’m sure he can handle it! He’s Nori! He can do anything!” He did get that crimson blade Pawniard thing a little under control! When he met that mean Akeresa, Pachi thought he was a goner for sure! He was still mean, and he still killed and hurt stuff, but he wasn’t hurting them. Physically, at least.

The big spiked beast turned her snout up. “If you’re trying to cheer me up with your naive optimism, it isn’t working.”

“But we gotta believe in and help and support Nori! He’s our friend! You agree, right, friend?” He leaned in. “Fffffffriend?” Demon called her friend at least once before! He wanted to hear it again!

She shoved him away with a paw. “Not saying it, you rodent.”

“Hee hee!” It was funny just how she could be sometimes. Didn’t they have a word in another human language for that too? Sundery? Anyway, he clapped his paws. “But if he needs help, we should help!”

“Already said I would. Now shut up and run.” She crouched and started running again without waiting.

Pachi was right behind her, using some of his super speed burst (Nori just called it Agility) to keep up and do some tricks. That was a nice talk. He hoped he cheered her up a little talking about stuff! It did for him, too! They were gonna do this!

##########​

Louis knocked at the door of his girlfriend’s apartment. It opened after five seconds. She must have been waiting.

“Glad you’re here,” Mariko said. “We need to talk about Carino.”

Louis nodded as he stepped inside. Her parents were thankfully tolerant of their activism, so they could openly discuss it. “Yes, I’ve heard the news about his new Pokemon.”

“I think now’s going to be the best time to take action,” she said as they went to the living room. “Since you know as well as me that people are going to want to fight him.”

Louis did not answer straight away. He considered it as he sat down. “Yes, you’re right,” he admitted. “We’ll have to pay him a visit soon. And the sooner, the better.”

“Talking like me now,” Mariko snorted.

“As you are thinking like me.” He had to resist a quick kiss on the cheek because of her parents. Not because they did not accept it, but Mariko reserved intimacy for when they were alone. With that, they began discussing possible avenues of attack.
 
Got a bad feeling Pawniard might cause problems with Qwilfish but for the moment he seems to mostly be making sarcastic and possibly deeply unsettling comments, and he does seem sort of loyal towards Nori based off the previous story.

Nice seeing some dialogue elaborating on the Pachi/Demon romance companionship.
It seems Pachi is even more sugary sweet when you know exactly what he's saying.

...thinking about it, Pachi is going to be pretty much the only Pokémon Nori has without some sort of behavioural problem or troubled history (at least for now). At least he'll always be a bright ray of sun poking through the clouds.
...I hope.

It also sounds like Nori's going to having a meeting with Louis and Mariko soon,.
 
If there's one thing I definitely like that you're doing with this story in particular, it's giving focus to the Pokemon themselves and showing what they're like outside of hanging with Nori. It's a good way to show their personalities and have them bounce off of each other, what with Pachi being a naive child and Demon being more cynical and jaded, but still having some morals in regards to stuff like killing. The last scene is definitely ominous, and I'm scared to think what they plan to do in regards to Nori and the Qwilfish.
 
Got a bad feeling Pawniard might cause problems with Qwilfish but for the moment he seems to mostly be making sarcastic and possibly deeply unsettling comments, and he does seem sort of loyal towards Nori based off the previous story.

Nice seeing some dialogue elaborating on the Pachi/Demon romance companionship.
It seems Pachi is even more sugary sweet when you know exactly what he's saying.

...thinking about it, Pachi is going to be pretty much the only Pokémon Nori has without some sort of behavioural problem or troubled history (at least for now). At least he'll always be a bright ray of sun poking through the clouds.
...I hope.

It also sounds like Nori's going to having a meeting with Louis and Mariko soon,.
  • Well, we're not seeing his dialogue yet, so you'll just have to wait and see what it's really like. Is your theory correct?
  • I definitely went in that direction for Pachi. Although hilariously since you mention a romance, if I had gone through with the work a lot of this language stuff was originally intended for (or if you saw the prompty prompts), it'd be implicit that Demon is basically chaste. Though it comes up here later anyway.
  • That's pretty assumptive to think he'll be the only one.
  • Heh heh heh.

If there's one thing I definitely like that you're doing with this story in particular, it's giving focus to the Pokemon themselves and showing what they're like outside of hanging with Nori. It's a good way to show their personalities and have them bounce off of each other, what with Pachi being a naive child and Demon being more cynical and jaded, but still having some morals in regards to stuff like killing. The last scene is definitely ominous, and I'm scared to think what they plan to do in regards to Nori and the Qwilfish.
  • This is a story about the language barrier. Of course I have to show them interacting and their insanity. Plus a (dropped) aspect of MarAwry was to have Pokemon that would stand out heavily against MarJour's mons. Only now is this being realized.
  • Though it isn't unknown here so far either. There was the scene in MoaG where Prema speaks with Taiyoko.
  • Mm, Pachi is probably more optimistic and inexperienced than naive. Keep in mind that he was angry with Kallisto way back when. He may have no experience in the wild, but that also brings him closer to human society. It also kinda ties into the above, he's much brighter than you might expect.
  • Makes you wonder what happened to make her that way, doesn't it?
  • What will Louis and Mariko do indeed.
 
Chapter 9: Vocal Divide New
Maylene Gavali used to live in a nice house on the south end of town, until her dad lost the place due to gambling debts. They now lived in a two-storey danchi, and actually closer to where Nori lived. It was only fifteen or twenty minutes away by skateboard from the trailer park. The units had just enough living space to be comfortable, but there was no mistaking they were compact. They apparently had to get rid of a lot of their stuff and pack much of the rest into closets and storage rooms.

The small parking lot was fairly empty given the time of day. Nori stopped and looked over the brown and gray building. It wasn’t much, but he’d love to live in one of these. Though little could match living in the Sunyshore Gym, he had his own room and everything. It was like a special mansion!

Maylene resided in an upper floor unit, 205. It was actually the fourth unit down, because people were crazy superstitious about the number four. Nori chuckled to himself as he thought about that; Qwilfish was his fourth Pokemon, and he wasn’t scared! Well, not like that, anyway. He was about to pick up Pachi when the squirrel started to jump up the steps himself. With a nod of approval, he followed. Pachi already knew what the right door was, so he stood in front of it, his tail swishing as Nori knocked.

It took half a minute for him to get an answer. He heard the door unlatch, and as it opened, he was greeted by a balding man with unkempt pink hair. He was hairy and wearing a muscle shirt and sweatpants.

“Ah, it’s you. Didn’t say ya were comin’ by,” Mr. Gavali said, scratching his leg. Nori was never sure what to make of the guy. Maylene loved her dad a lot, and he did stuff like pay for her self-defense lessons. But other things like his hygiene made him wonder about the guy.

“Sorry, this was sort of thought up on the spot,” he admitted, shuffling his feet. He leaned forward. “But it’s okay if I can come in to see Maylene, right?”

“Yeah, sure,” he conceded. “Just make your rat don’t make a mess.” Pachi squeaked a word, probably confused by being called a rodent.

Mr. Gavali turned and went back inside, not holding the door. Nori caught it before it shut, held it open for Pachi, and entered before locking it behind him. He took off his shoes out of courtesy and hung his black and dark green jacket on the coat rack before entering the living area.

His younger friend was lounging on the couch in front of the television. Her hair was pulled back into a single ponytail that curved slightly to the left. She was too engrossed in the show to notice him, which, judging by the explosions and hot-blooded shouting, was probably a mecha anime.

“Maylene,” he called to get her attention.

She turned her head. “Nori!” she said, sitting up and slapping a palm beside her. “This is good, come watch!”

He did so, even though he didn’t understand a lick of what was happening besides it looking cool. The only reason he knew it was Gundam was because he saw it all the time at the manga cafe. He wasn’t that well versed in pop culture; most of what he knew about came from his friends or what he randomly picked up.

Eventually, the show shifted to commercials, after which Maylene leaned back. “This is a brand-new series! It just started a couple weeks ago!”

“I see,” he said. This was probably a rerun. He went to Daikatsu enough to know that new episodes of the series were out on Sundays.

“So what’re you here for?” she asked, swinging her legs. “Just came to say hi?”

“That’s part of it.” He rolled his shoulders. “Actually, besides just hanging out for a bit, I was hoping I could use your bathtub. Or your pool if you still have it.”

Maylene tilted her head. “Huh, don’t you got a shower at home?”

“I do, but I need a bath for my Pokemon. And don’t worry, it should be fine!”

“Oh, for your Qwilfish?” Nori felt the blood drain from his face and the air leave his lungs. She’d heard?! Mercifully, she nodded a second after. “Okay. But I gotta ask daddy. DADDY!” Nori winced at she shouted louder than the people on the show. “Can Nori use the bathtub?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he grumbled from his room. Nori arched an eyebrow, more than a little perturbed at the ease, until he said, “Just don’t make a mess.”

That was a given. He gave his friend a quick hug of appreciation. “Thanks. You guys eaten?” He glanced at the clock.

“Just breakfast at eight. Daddy hasn’t cooked yet.”

“Then I’ll make lunch when I’m done.” He was hungry too.

Maylene returned his gesture and hugged him right back. “Thanks! But be quick, Gundam’ll be back on soon!”

He laughed. “We’ll see.”

---​

The bathroom in Maylene’s place was super compact. There was enough space in the beige-walled room for one person in the entrance room, two if you squeezed or sat on the sink counter. Sliding open the door to the tub itself revealed that it wasn’t much better. It was full size, but there was just over a meter of space beside it. Not a lot of room if Qwilfish decided to attack. But it would have to do.

He twisted the knob, and the tub started to slowly fill with cold water. Pachi pressed his paws to the wall and discharged. Then he jumped in. Nori flinched as stray droplets splashed his dark blue jeans.

“Was that really necessary?” he asked, putting his hands on his hips and talking like his mom did. Pachi usually cleaned himself like any common squirrel, with dirt baths, licking himself, or spitting into his hands and rubbing them over his body.

His Pokemon, who was rolling around to soak himself, stood at his scolding. He whined and bowed his head. He waded to the edge to climb out, though Nori stopped him.

“Fine, it’s fine,” he droned, waving a hand. “Not like you can take it back, just point to it to ask next time.” Now he’d have to dry Pachi off.

With a hop and a peculiar squeak that Nori had heard often enough to know it was a thank you, Pachi did his business as the tub filled. He was a great and loving Pokemon, but Nori could admit, he could be a bit impulsive. He went to the entrance room and opened a cabinet. Cleaning supplies were on one side and the towels were on the other, separated by the pipes. But no gloves.

The boy grabbed a white towel and returned. Half a minute later, his Pokemon climbed out. Nori knew that Pachi’s instinct was going to be to shake himself off, so he threw the towel over his Pokemon as he landed on the bath mat.

Pachi eeped. Nori said, “Dry yourself on that.”

He would’ve done it himself if there had been rubber gloves, but there weren’t. And he didn’t favor touching an Electric-type with something that could get staticy. Sure, it wouldn’t be dangerous, but it’d still be annoying to get zapped every few seconds.

As Nori expected, Pachi had enough dexterity to do so. When the squirrel was done, he looked up with a dopey buck-fanged grin. Nori laughed at the sight of him.

“Your fur’s a mess,” he pointed out. Pachi tilted his head in confusion. Nori tentatively pressed a palm against him. He flinched at the static, but was able to pick him up and take him over to the mirror.

His Pokemon’s jaw fell open and he screamed. His shiny white fur was all over the place! Nori laughed again as the squirrel wriggled free and began to frantically brush himself with his paws. That was way too adorable.

He checked the tub again, and it was full enough to do what he needed. He turned off the tapw and retrieved the capsules from his front left pocket. They were all different, so it was easy to tell which was which. Pachi’s was a normal Poke Ball, Pawniard’s was painted black on the bottom, the Demon had a Great Ball, and now Qwilfish with the Dive Ball. He put the other two away and held his new assignment to his cheek.

“Okay,” he whispered, more to himself than for her to potentially hear. “Water this time. Let’s do this.”

His arm shook as he held the capsule over the tub. It wasn’t his aquaphobia, he could handle this much. It might have been the cold. He had chosen to wear an old lime green shirt with a few holes in it, in case it got ruined. But no, it was mostly nerves. With a, “You have to do this. So nothing to do but do it, Nori!” to himself, he cracked open the capsule and released her into the water.

Qwilfish immediately went rigid upon materializing in the tub, though it was not a proper Harden like before. She looked down and fidgeted with her tail fin, maybe realizing she was in her environment this time. With this, she started to relax until the moment she noticed him. She swam to the far side of the tub and bumped the faucet. The pufferfish emitted a strange sound of panic, like a balloon deflating while you pinched and stretched the bottom of it.

“Are you okay?” he asked. He didn’t dare lean in to check; he actually took a step back. But he tried to sound as comforting to her as he could.

She stared at him. Then she started talking. It sounded like a series of rapid creaking noises.

“Sorry about earlier. I didn’t know you weren’t used to land,” he said, first things first. “I’m Nori Carino. I’m your new trainer, I guess.”

She interrupted with even more of those sounds, even faster. Her body expanded and contracted as she practically hyperventilated. Asking questions? Ranting? Having a panic attack?

“C-calm down!” he raised his palms and squatted a little in case he needed to take cover. Why did this room have to be so small?! Maybe he should’ve asked for the pool after all, but it was too late for that. “Just take a deep breath, try to relax.” He followed his own advice too, for that matter.

She shut her eyes and started to splash with her tail. Was she throwing a tantrum or something? Or panicking worse? He had no idea what to say or what to do about this! Who said you can learn to fully understand Pokemon in time, anyway? Even if that was true, it was time he didn’t have. Luckily, that’s why he had someone to vouch for him.

“Hold on.” He sprang for the entrance room, shutting the door behind him just in case. The electric squirrel had just finished drying himself off and seemed to have been too busy to pay attention to their conversation. “Hey, Pachi?”

The squirrel looked up at him and cast the towel aside. He squeaked and stood with his tail raised.

“Can you talk to her?” he asked. It was that simple. Let a Pokemon talk to a Pokemon. Nori was trained by the Officials enough to at least get what Qwilfish was feeling. Someone who could fully understand could do the rest.

But Pachi did something Nori wasn’t expecting. After a long blink, he turned away and shook his head.

“No?” That was pretty clear. “What do you mean no?!”

Pachi chittered away. He realized the problem with that after a second, and started pointing at his head.

“You?” Nori asked.

Pachi shook, no. He tilted his head as far as it would go and tried to point to the top of his head. Was his Pokemon playing charades with him? The only thing on top was…

“Your ears?” They jutted out from his head, the surrounding fur a sleek and bright blue. “I mean, she was speaking quiet. Is she, um, out of hearing range?” He was unsure of the technical term.

The squirrel hummed and put a paw on his chin. He then stood on his toes and stuck out his tongue. Nori thought he was about to do an akanbe gesture, but he didn’t pull down his eyelid. “Tongue? Mouth? I don’t get it.”

The squirrel huffed, pacing back and forth. The language barrier sucked. Eventually, Pachi stood in front of him. He squeaked two syllables and pointed at himself. He repeated what he said. From the way he held the squeak, it was like it had a long E sound at the end. But it wasn’t Nori’s name, since the first part wasn’t right. Come to think of it, it actually sounded like…

“You? Pachi?” The squirrel nodded. That was why the squirrel pointed at himself. He was saying his own name. “What about you?”

Pachi shook his head. “What do you mean, no?” He shook his head more vigorously. “Do you mean, no?” He nodded, yes, it was no.

Nori chuckled to himself. This had to look insane. It arguably actually was. If only Pachi could actually talk. Pronunciation was apparently the big problem when it came to Pokemon learning to do it. Their mouths and languages were simply too different and vice versa (with the added problem of hearing in people’s case).

Again, the squirrel gestured to his ears. “Ear.” That was easy. And he finished by sticking out his tongue. “Tongue,” he repeated.

Pachi nodded, then repeated his actions in a loop. Pointing and saying his name, shaking his head, pointing to his ears, then his tongue.

“Pachi no ear tongue.” Something about him and ears and tongues in the negative. He said the phrase out loud several times in hopes it would help. “Pachi no ear tongue, Pachi no ear tongue, Pachi no ear–wait!” Was that it? Hearing? Tongues? “Pachi does not hear tongue. Are you saying she’s speaking another language you don’t understand?”

The squirrel hopped, closed his eyes, and squealed with joy. He came forth and gave Nori a hug on the leg, patting it in a sort of congratulatory gesture. The language barrier sucked even more than he thought. This was the first he was hearing that Pokemon had different languages among themselves. But it made sense that they did. People had their own, and though the governments established a global language for cross-regional battling and business, things like Japanese and German still existed and saw use.

“Well, can you give it a try anyway?” he requested. “Like we say, you don’t know unless you try. Maybe she just isn’t talking in your language?”

It took only a second of thought before Pachi agreed. Knowing his Pokemon, the odds were that he really didn’t know and was just going to try his best.

---​

Nori needed help! If he needed help, all Pachi could do was try! He wasn’t sure if he’d help or make things worse, but Nori was counting on him!

Having grown up around people, Pachi would call himself pretty fluent in their common language. So he heard and understood many of the words, even if he couldn’t speak them. That was the big problem with Pokemon speaking human language. Either way, they always understood words from people with their heart as long as it made sense in their language. Like when a person said Pokemon, a Pokemon like him would understand Akerasa. But it only worked that way for them hearing people, or manh as they sometimes called them in terrestrial. Not the other way around or between their languages. But Nori was right! Maybe she did know their common language and just wasn’t talking it!

Nori opened the door for him, and Pachi came face to face with the bathtub. He learned about something new today! It was a handy little water container for taking a swim and getting clean! But he couldn’t see over the side of it where he was. He waited for Nori to give permission this time.

His friend appeared to realize too from the way his eyes and feet went. “Sorry for leaving you,” he apologized to their new Fenadh. Pachi hoped she would turn out to be a friend like Demon was, and not like that killer. “I have someone who might be able to talk to you here.” He turned and raised his thumb.

Pachi hopped onto the ledge, causing the Akerasa to suck in water to increase in size and attempt to glare. But the spiny sphere which they called a Qwilfish shivered as their eyes met. She started talking, but the rhythmic sounds held no meaning to Pachi. His ears picked up six, maybe eight different syllables?

So Pachi did the only thing he could. He spoke a basic phrase that almost every species who lives above ground knows: Syl A'ruKo umt? Or literally translated word by word, “you this language speak?” Used as a polite greeting, especially with the aquatic and underground, sometimes as a formality with flying things. There were many replies to it from confirming fluency to knowing only basic words. But the spiny sphere only floated silently, looking like a ghost hit her with a light of mind delirium.

Once again, she said words in her language. The underwater language? He heard some of Volkner’s Pokemon at Sunyshore Gym speak it! Usually when they were making jokes between themselves from how they laughed after. All he knew about that was there were two main dialects.

Pachi looked up at Nori, who was standing in the door with his hand on the handle. With a shrug, Pachi tried waving and smiling. Those were universal, right? A friendly smile could tell anyone you were happy and friendly!

He nearly fell back when the spiny sphere grew to twice her usual size and let out a screech of distress. She sprayed out salty-smelling water from her lips, which missed him entirely. But it would hit–

Pachi heard Nori scream and that was all it took to make him act. He jumped off the ledge, moving backwards yet flipping forwards. As he was doing so, he focused his electricity and tucked his tail inward. He formed an orb infused with his swiftness, and as he spun, let his tail bat it directly at their attacker. “STOP!” he screeched with as much authority as he could.

There was a loud bang followed by the sound of crackling as the attack made direct contact and surged through the water. He didn’t bother to look back. He just turned around, pulled on the half-shut door, and went to check on his friend.

“Nori! Nori! Nori!” he called. His friend was standing, drying his head with the same towel he had given him. His breathing didn’t sound good. He was even coughing a bit.

“I’m fine, I’m fine!” he insisted, peering at him from over the towel. His friend was shaking and Pachi even thought he saw his eyes were crying. Nori gave himself one last pat down before looking over at the bathtub. “What–AHHH!!”

Nori nearly accidentally kicked him as he dashed to the side. He picked up the spiny sphere called a Qwilfish. She was at her usual size and she wasn’t moving. The attack had beaten her just like that!

“Pachi, why did you do that?!” he cried out, trying to shake her awake. “I don’t have Potions. What now? What now, Nori? Ugh!”

“I’m sorry! I didn’t want her to hurt you, Nori!” Pachi squeaked, embracing his leg. He hoped that the gestures and the distress in his tone would carry his meaning to his friend. He didn’t mean to upset him! “I don’t know why she did that! I was just talking! And trying to protect you!” When that Pawniard tried to attack him he wanted to run, but Nori said to defend himself! So he did! Even if it was defending Nori!

“Hey!” came the shout of the pink-haired parent of Nori’s friend. He sounded funny, like how an Akeresa would hold a sound if they couldn’t make a long or hard consonant to represent the opposite one. “{Impolitely asking what is happening}” It was so bad, Pachi only got his intent.

“Nothing!” Nori yelped and put his arms up, accidentally dropping the spiny sphere into the water. “It’s fine! It’s under control!” he shouted.

“If you made a mess, {clean it}!” came the slurred reply. Pachi double-checked, it was only water. But his friend’s eyes were locked onto what was floating in the water. He had no words.

Pachi again jumped on the ledge and lowered his head in shame. “I’m sorry,” he said again, not just to Nori, but also to Qwilfish.

From his friend patting him on the head, at least he wasn’t too upset about it. Nori asked, “What are we going to do now?” It was a good question. If only they had the answer.

##########​

Nori hung out with Maylene for a couple of hours after that disastrous meeting. He didn’t blame Pachi for attacking, he knew it was a protective instinct. But it was going to make things way worse with Qwilfish. Why did she try to attack?

He made Maylene and her dad lunch as promised – miso soup and tuna sandwiches. The thought of staying the whole day had occurred, and they would probably have let him. But no, he told himself. He needed to get going. First to a Pokemon Center, then he wasn’t sure where.

Maylene ran up and threw her arms around him as he went to leave. Nori gasped, not at the suddenness, but at how tight her grip was. He was only able to reciprocate with his hands; she was pinning his arms! “Bye, Nori! See ya later!”

“See ya…” he squeaked out. He knew she was taking self-defense courses. But that was like a martial artist’s death grip or something. Pachi looked up at them, tail slack and front teeth showing.

She released him with a giggle. Nori had to shake his head afterward, but there was warmth in his face and a sheepish smile on his lips that he was glad no one else was around to see. That was a good hug. Nori might have been an only child, but Maylene was like a little sister to him. She looked up to him, and it always felt good to know that someone did.

There was a spring in his step as he walked through the entrance hall with Pachi by his side. He grabbed his shoes and leaf-patterned coat and sat down to put them on. With that, he opened the door and stepped out into the fresh air.

His mood soured the second he stepped outside and saw who had been waiting for him in the parking lot.

He had only seen her a handful of times and had never met her in person, but he knew who she was. The auburn-haired teenager, who wore jet black jeans and a black-sleeved cyan jumper, certainly knew him as well. And from the icy blue eyes and colder sneer on the face of Emi Pikaru, it was clear she wasn’t here to talk pleasantries.

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As a quick aside, the Pokemon language idea is recycled from an unwritten fic. Breaks canon in some ways but it just made sense to me. There's too much to go over in a notes section, I basically reused it here to make the easy solution not so easy - or so that I wouldn't have to force conflict to rule it out. Thus, why language barriers are one of the themes here.

Quick terrestrial premier: pronunciation is syllabic in vowel-consonant order (can have two consonants if it goes soft->hard). Soft consonants can start words, hold the sound. Capitalization is important and there's no start of sentence rule; i.e. lowercase p is a b-sound, A is like acorn and a is like apple. No strong syllables. Untranslated words are a stylistic choice or if they convey a complex meaning. And actually very technically, terrestrial has no standardized written language.
 
When it rains, it pours. Louis and Mariku, Emi, Qwilfish problems, and at this rate probably negative media attention.

I think this was literally the first time Pachi has been anything other than The Best, though one can understand his reflexive defense, something a certain other cute electric-type who will remain nameless often fails at.
 
I was going to make a joke about Maylene watching Gundam: The Witch From Mercury since that's the newest Gundam series that's out now, but since Official-In-Training takes place during the year 2015, and this story takes place not long after that, that wouldn't be possible, so I can only assume it's Iron-Blooded Orphans instead. Onto the story itself, Nori finally figures out why there hasn't been much progress with the Qwilfish, and things go about as well as you'd expect with a Pokemon that's constantly scared of everything. I'm kinda worried about what this Emi Pikaru girl is going to do. I did notice one error with Mr. Gavali's sentence here "Just make your rat don't make a mess" you probably meant to add the word "sure" between make and your. Nothing a bit of editing can't fix. Another good chapter like always! Can't wait to read more!
 
When it rains, it pours. Louis and Mariku, Emi, Qwilfish problems, and at this rate probably negative media attention.
Just Nori things at this rate.

I think this was literally the first time Pachi has been anything other than The Best, though one can understand his reflexive defense, something a certain other cute electric-type who will remain nameless often fails at.
He is certainly better than the rat. Although even when Pachi is being not The Best, he's still pretty good, right?

I was going to make a joke about Maylene watching Gundam: The Witch From Mercury since that's the newest Gundam series that's out now,
Yeah. I think I mentioned, I asked you for MarJour's year, you didn't think of one except that it's modern, so I went with the year it was first published. It was kind of important for Official In-Training since I kept track of the days thoroughly there.

but since Official-In-Training takes place during the year 2015, and this story takes place not long after that, that wouldn't be possible, so I can only assume it's Iron-Blooded Orphans instead.
I thought it would be a fun detail (and fitting for Maylene with how I wrote her), and IBO was indeed released in October 2015. Actually similarly, back in Official In-Training in June part 3, there's a bit where Tono is playing games on his 3DS. No names are mentioned there, and it may be confusing since they're based off Japanese release. But they all line up like here. Actually for your amusement, here's the bit in question so you don't have to look it up. See if you can figure them out. :)
He was working on finishing up his hardest difficulty playthrough of the most recent in his second favorite strategy role playing game series, before the new one released on the 25th. He hoped to be able to finish all three campaigns there before August 20th, when his favorite SRPG series' latest game would be out, followed by the eighth in his favorite traditional one getting an expanded port on the 27th of the same month. And those were just the RPGs. Even without school and Pokemon training, it felt like he'd never have enough time to play them all.

Onto the story itself, Nori finally figures out why there hasn't been much progress with the Qwilfish, and things go about as well as you'd expect with a Pokemon that's constantly scared of everything.
Oh, there's definitely reasons for it. Is it really fear? Who can say. Not like the narrative is letting you see what Qwilfish is really saying/thinking at this point. Might be twists to come!

I'm kinda worried about what this Emi Pikaru girl is going to do.
I mean, she was a minor character in BotBK. As a quick refresher for your sake before the next one: she's the second-best on the battling team, she's Chad's close friend, and she was pissed after Anthony stepped back although reigned in at Chad's behest. Also, she got very briefly mentioned in chapter 2 here (3 on AoE). So, those are your things to think about.

I did notice one error with Mr. Gavali's sentence here "Just make your rat don't make a mess" you probably meant to add the word "sure" between make and your. Nothing a bit of editing can't fix.
Hm, weird how it got through all my layers of checking. But I'll fix that when I can, thanks.
 
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