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TEEN: Nori Carino: Blade of the Blackout Killer [COMPLETE!!]

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The world's first Pokemon Rehabilitator, Nori Carino's job is to reform Pokemon that treatment facilities and veteran trainers cannot handle, giving them one final chance through his unorthodox take on training. His first assignment? A sadistic Pokemon once owned by a serial killer, which is equally murderous as his former trainer.

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Welcome to the fourth fic (chronologically) of a metaseries! Reading the previous fics in the series should be unnecessary to enjoy this one. However, it will contain references and allusions to plot that's already happened - nothing serious or in-detail, however. As of posting, this fanfic is mostly complete. I actually need to only do the last two chapters. Normally when not writing a longfic, I would wait until total completion before publication. But I figured what the hell. It's been forever since I've posted any stuff, so I may as well just get going.

As also mentioned if you've been keeping up with my posts in Write Today?, this fic is concurrent with Prema Kannagi: Memory of a Ghoul. Certain scenes will be shared between them from different perspectives and the characters will be involved in each others' fics, but they're otherwise separate plots. Reading both will enhance your enjoyment of both, but it's by no means unnecessary. (Yes I could've connected them, but kept them as two different fics for reasons, mostly character-related)

Due to the unique nature of these fics, if you want to read in publication order, here it is. There's warnings in notes a chapter before spoiler spots, that said.
N1 -> N2 -> N3 -> N4 -> P1 -> N5 ->
P2 -> P3 -> N6 -> N7 -> P4 -> P5 ->
N8 -> P6 -> N9 -> P7 -> N10 -> P8 -> P9 -> N11 -> N12 ->
P10-> P11 -> N13 -> P12 -> P13+N14

When you read this, beware of the following:
mostly bloodless carnage, wanton slaughter, mild use of bad words, occasional use of mean words, use of canon characters, occasional slaps to canon, jerkwads, prodding people, and implicit abuse of basketballs.
 
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Slice 1: Unsheathed
A white-hot jet of flame emerged from the mouth of the Pansear, engulfing their creepy opponent's Pokemon. It was their best move, one with which they had won countless battles around their neighborhood. The young girl with pink pigtails stood triumphant, certain that she and her partner had claimed victory with the powerful super-effective attack.

Yet as the flames died out, the other Pokemon was still standing. With a mighty Iron Head, the Pawniard felled his foe. Little Kayla's Pansear lay unconscious on the forest floor.

“You lose,” said the man, smirking darkly from underneath his bushy brown mustache.

Little Kayla frowned. She was the best trainer among the young kids in her neighborhood. Yet this man had trounced her! With a type disadvantage at that! “This is my fault, Pansear,” she apologized to her Pokemon. “I guess I got a little too overconfident thinking we could beat an adult. Take a good rest.”

But before she could recall her Pokemon, the man flicked his wrist and the Pawniard used Iron Head again. This time, he drove the tip of his horn through the fallen monkey's chest, running her through completely.

“No! Pansear!” she cried. “What are you doing to her?!”

The man motioned again and his blade withdrew. He flashed a smile that could chill even the devil's bones as the fire monkey spasmed. “When your Pokemon faints, it dies. That's my rule.”

“What rule?!” cried little Kayla. “Pansear!” She ran up to her Pokemon in despair, desperately searching her pack for a Revive. Finding one, she ground the crystal into dust and forced it into the gash. But this was a wound too great for even the most skilled doctor to mend, let alone a mere item. Her Pansear gave one last smile before her eyes glazed over.

The girl quietly stood, tears pouring down her face. Yet she froze as a shadow loomed from behind. She turned to see the man standing over her, the glint of a machete in his left hand. She was too afraid to move or say anything.

“Your Pokemon is gone,” he said as he raised his weapon. “And now, so are you.”

---​

Nori Carino: Blade of the Blackout Killer
Slice 1: Unsheathed

“No! Turn it off, please!”

Maylene Gavali scrambled out and fell between the seats as she twisted the knob on the vehicle's radio. The teenager to her right cringed as crackling static assaulted his ears. If he hadn't heard this episode before or if it had been anyone but his close friend, he'd have been annoyed at the sudden interruption. But as the situation was, he couldn't help but give his friend a comforting pat on her shoulders.

“Sorry, I guess that was a little graphic, huh?” the young male mused, turning the radio off and resting his arms on the steering wheel. Actually, that was an understatement. “I'm surprised they let that air.”

He looked back to check on his Pokemon, Pachi. Thankfully, the squirrel wasn't roused from his nap by Maylene's shrieks, his bright blue and white fur rising and falling in his slumber.

His friend shuddered. “That was too much. Just...” She self-consciously pulled at her own pink pigtails, a nervous tic of hers.

Nori Carino was sitting in his mom's trailer with his younger friend, ten to his thirteen. It had been his home for almost his entire life, except from the eight months he spent training at Sunyshore Gym. Despite being a mobile home, it was almost always in the trailer park. His mom usually slept in the large bed in the back, which had curtains to cover the area up when necessary. Across from the stove and bathroom was a table with padded seats, which could be folded into a second bed. A third could be pulled down from above the car seats. Dressers and cabinets were tucked everywhere possible, under the two beds and even under the stove.

Maylene crawled back into the passenger seat. “I thought we were supposed to be listening to a crime drama, not a horror!” she griped.

“It is a crime drama, Maylene. It's a dramatized retelling of the story of Lochlyn Nuzzo, the Blackout Killer.” Nori leaned back. “He was a real person, but the victims' names have been changed, of course. He was a serial killer from Northwest Unova who targeted trainers who lost battles to him.”

Maylene growled. “What kind of maniac thinks a Pokemon fainting and losing a battle means you die?!”

Nori smiled. “A stupid moron, that's who. He was crazy, none of his actions made sense. Some say he even killed his own Pokemon when they fainted. Others say he found Pokemon just as sick and twisted as him. He probably would've gotten committed if he wasn't gunned down by a trigger-happy cop.”

“He's dead? Good!” the young girl snapped. “What was his problem, anyway?”

“Who knows?” Not like they could do a psychological evaluation of him now. It was hard to say what was going through Mr. Nuzzo's mind. Different thinkers were often called crazy or even dangerous. It didn't matter if they were right, wrong, or subjective. But then again, he thought differently from other people too. That's why he was a Pokemon Rehabilitator.

That said, Nori got the sense Maylene wanted to get off the subject, so he decided to change it. “Anyway, how's your self-defense lessons been going?”

She perked up in an instant. “Oh, it's great! I've been getting a chance to use them, too! I got in trouble for beating up a bully the other day for calling me ugly-hair, but it was worth it!” Maylene laughed triumphantly. Nori was actually a little surprised her father found the money to put her into those classes, considering he'd lost their house. But no matter how he did it, the lessons were really helping her confidence and independence a lot. “And how's your Pokemon training been going?”

“Pretty good. I've been keeping up with it. Don't want to do Volkner bad, after all.” He didn't have access to the specialized training equipment at Sunyshore Gym anymore, but he'd been finding ways to improvise. Both of his present Pokemon enjoyed battling, and he had to keep their skills, and his, sharp.

Thinking about that made him remember something important. “And also!” he declared. “I'm getting my first official assignment tomorrow!”

“Ooo, can I come see?” she asked, placing her hands together and leaning inward. “I want to know if it's something cool or cute or different!”

Nori had to chuckle a little at Maylene's new attitude. A year back, she was just like him – uninterested in Pokemon and especially journeys, just wanting to do something meaningful with her life. Now that he was working with Pokemon, she suddenly had an interest too.

“It's fine, I'm sure they won't mind. And if they do mind, I'll yell at them until they agree.” He paused. “Worst case, I'll show you after!”

“Woo!” She lunged forward and threw her arms around him. “You're the best, you know that?”

He couldn't help but giggle and blush. “All right, all right, calm down,” he said, gently pushing her away after a pat on the back. It was best if she didn't get too excited where they were sitting. “I'm going to pick it up from Crescent Hills Elementary tomorrow afternoon. There's a park nearby, so you can wait for me there.”

“I'll run over there right after school!”

##########​

He was Nori Carino, Pokemon Rehabilitator. People sometimes called him the Demon Tamer.

There were a number of Pokemon out there with troublesome personality faults. Some of these were nothing more than minor quirks or a bit of unruliness. Other Pokemon were bad enough to be considered a danger to society. Therapist facilities would not accept the worst of them, and they were considered so savage that even the best trainers would have trouble controlling them. Still, it was a sensitive issue, as some felt it was inhumane to contain or euthanize these Pokemon.

That's where a Pokemon Rehabilitator came in. A new position in the world of training, of which Nori was the first, but undoubtedly not the last. It was the brainchild of Jimmy Mackenburg, head of the Officials' Special Trainers Division. A Rehabilitator was – in short – someone hand-picked for having an unorthodox mindset towards Pokemon training. The idea that people who thought differently might be able to handle Pokemon that others could not. If they couldn't help these Pokemon change, nobody could.

It had all started with the Demon, a deranged Nidorina that Nori had a chance encounter with one fateful day last year in August. A series of circumstances, including an accidental wager with Gym Leader Gasha Qian, led him to bond with her and prove that she could change her ways – just enough. He was offered the position in the aftermath, and underwent rigorous (for all the wrong reasons) training at Sunyshore City under Volkner Denzi.

Today was the day he had been waiting for, the day that would make it worth it. He would finally be making a difference in the world. His first task as a Pokemon Rehabilitator awaited him. But there was something he wanted to do before the time came to meet his assignment. That was to relax a bit and see someone he had promised to see today.

---​

It was a clear autumn day, perfect for being outdoors as far as Nori was concerned. He was skateboarding through the streets of Veilstone City on his way to his destination, Pachi following close behind. The electric squirrel was a Pokemon given to him by Volkner, both as a test of his training abilities and a gift. Pachi had been an invaluable partner since February, and he was every bit as important to Nori as the Demon Nidorina.

The original Kannagi Shrine was founded nearly a millennium ago in what is now called Celestic Town. The Veilstone location was its first branch in history and was being personally overseen by the Master of the shrine, Haruto Kannagi. It sat at the former site of the JSPR station that Nori frequently listened to, which had since moved operations to Hearthome. The building contractors and shrine's faithful worked hard to change it into something worthy of their gods. They even put in those slanted overhangs, whatever they were called, around the perimeter to simulate the look. Their being detatched from the building was one of the hints that it never used to be a shrine. Of course, more blatant was a satellite dish cordoned off by a chain-link fence, which was apparently too costly to remove.

A red archway welcomed visitors onto the grounds. A small basin for washing one's hands was located on the right side of the path leading into the building; it was a necessity to clean oneself before stepping inside. While Nori had gone in when it was still the JSPR building, he had not gone in since, nor did he have any interest in doing so. Besides, he had come to visit someone.

He waved to the person standing on the left side of the door, clad in an elegant violet robe with silver trim. Satomi Kurusu was one of the top priestesses in the Kannagi Shrine, who had been present for four generations of Masters. She was a mentor to and a good friend of the future head priestess of the shrine, who was one of Nori's closest (and few real) friends.

“Hey, Mrs. Kurusu!” he greeted her with a wild wave. “Is Prema here?”

“Of course she is, Nori,” she said, turning to the woman to the right. She had vibrant red hair and was dressed in a simpler version of the same robe, looking to be in her 20s. “Kaede? Would you get her?”

“You got it, Priestess Satomi.” Kaede bowed and went inside to do so.

“So, have you been doing well, Nori?” the elderly woman asked, in a casual yet still grandmotherly tone of voice.

He nodded. “Yup! Everything's going fine. Besides this guy at school who wants me to join the battling team. Oh, and running into YAMS the other day, but I shut them up.”

Mrs. Kurusu laughed. Nori had heard that Prema had her own run-in with the youth activist group back in June. They had been vehemently opposed to him taming the Demon, to where they made them the subject of one of their protests. However, he never would've met Prema if it wasn't for Youths Against Mistaken Society. So he owed them in a strange way.

“Those kids' hearts are in the right place,” the priestess remarked. “But when it comes to Pokemon, they wouldn't know the difference between a Squirtle and a squirt gun!”

“You got that right!” said Nori with a chuckle of agreement. “And I know how far you can slide with good intentions.”

“I think the nation knows, thanks to you,” she laughed again. Guilty as charged, Nori thought to himself. “I simply hope he realizes the error of his ways.”

“I don't care if he does or not,” he replied, crossing his arms. That guy, who ironically and incidentally practiced the Kannagi faith, was still a sore spot from Nori's time at Sunyshore Gym. Nori hoped it was behind him forever, but he knew that was just wishful thinking.

“I understand why that you would feel that way. Redemption and forgiveness are two different things!” Thankfully, she got it. Not everyone made the distinction between them. “But I'm sure you didn't come here to talk about bad memories. How goes your work?”

“Just papers so far,” he said. “But I'm getting my first assignment today.”

She gave him a sly but approving smirk. “And you wanted to show Lady Kannagi and get her advice, is that it?”

Nori shook his head, but smiled back. “No, I just wanted to see my friend. But now that you mention it, that's not a bad idea.”

“I am sure she will be an invaluable partner for you, should you wish it.”

“I shouldn't totally rely on her, though.” Given Prema's responsibilities and schedule, he had no doubt that there would be many Pokemon he would have to rehabilitate without her help. On the other hand, it was her initial assessment of the Demon that made Nori decide to defend her from the cops, which eventually led him to where he was now.

“A reasonable assessment,” Satomi said. “Just do not rule it out.”

“Naturally.” He was sure Prema would still help whenever and however she could, and he was ready to accept and ask whenever it was needed. “So how's things been for you?”

“Things have been well, Nori. We are completely settled into Veilstone now. It may be in a different place, but as they say, a place is as sacred as you make it. If you meant myself specifically, it has been business as usual. Lately, I've been overseeing the gardens. The plants have adapted to the soil pretty well.” She paused and chuckled. “Although as you can see, I'm on gatekeeping duty at the moment. Always a good time, as long as you remember to keep your legs and back active!”

“That's good to hear.” He knew very little about shrines. While he was steadfast in his disinterest in religion, he liked learning about them.

The door opened and Prema stepped outside. A teenager of fifteen, about two and a half years older than him. She had forest green hair and calm sea-blue eyes. What made Nori momentarily take pause was her attire.

“Hi, Prema. You're not in your robe?” he asked. She was wearing a purple dress shirt with white frills along the collar and sleeves, along with a matching modest lavender skirt that reached to her ankles. She was also not wearing any of her accessories.

Prema bowed slightly. “My father advised me to wear something more appropriate for casual ventures.” That said, even her informal attire was fancy, maybe even elegant.

He nodded. “Well, thanks for making time for me today.”

“Is that not what friends do?” she asked. Emphasis on asking, as her tone was vaguely hesitant. She compounded it by turning to Priestess Satomi.

“It is, Lady Kannagi. Friends spend time with each other. So enjoy your walk.”

Nori grinned at Prema. “Shall we, then?”

“Yes, let us go.”

---​

A man sat in the gymnasium of Crescent Hills Elementary, unable to contain his giddiness.

He could not believe this promotion when he heard about it. He, a loyal member of the International Police for so long, getting an opportunity to work alongside the Demon Tamer Nori Carino himself! It was great to finally get some recognition for his skills and talents! All it would require was filling reports of Mr. Carino's reports and all such stuff associated with him. It was too perfect and too easy! Even he could fill out those all proper, crossing his Ts and uppercasing his Ps.

The man gazed at what he had been given. A bag with a very special box, made to lock away Poke Balls twice over! Sealed with a key and made of materials that interfered with their dissipating energies. It was not to be opened until Mr. Carino's arrival. Next to it was a cage, where the Pokemon was to be released into. And he could not blame them at all. Despite his urges to take a peek, he knew better. He'd caught that horror flick on the radio yesterday, after all!

Yet he couldn't wait to meet the blade of the Blackout Killer in person, so to speak! He had technically been scheduled to call Mr. Carino at four o'clock, but he wanted to get on with it! He rubbed his hands together. And he whipped out his phone, flipped it open, and dialed up the Demon Tamer on his Officials' radio.
 
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Ah, it sure is nice for me to be able to catch a Nori Carino fic when it’s not hundreds of thousands words in already. Even the simultaneously kind of wacky (from “Official In-Training” to “BLACKOUT KILLEEEEEEER”) yet kind of dead-serious title (no pun intended) has me kind of excited to see what kind of madness is going to be in store with this one. Which seems weird given the subject matter, which actually is pretty serious business for me, but given the rating and what series this belongs to, I don’t expect that it’s going to be one of those fics, if you know what I mean. There’s some safety in that, I think, given that I’m not expecting you to turn this series into a horror show or anything (even as it can apparently go into some fairly dark places in other respects, if what I’ve seen and heard of the previous entry is any indication).

With that said, let’s go ahead and get to it!

I’ll admit that you got me there with what I presume is the “Chapter 0” that you’ve been referring to elsewhere on these forums. That bait-and-switch helped me get off edge a bit, even as it’s all but stated later that the events depicted in that little drama there probably did actually happen, potential revisions and embellishments aside. And even as it did spook me quite a bit even after having that knowledge. I’m not quite sure just how much you were intending to do that, though (even with the presence of a certain character’s perfectly appropriate and relatable reaction afterwards, age be damned). Even with descriptions at a minimum — no doubt to keep that TEEN rating, right? — child murder is nasty business, as is the sudden and brutal death of any character (human, Pokémon, or otherwise), especially in what is quickly revealed to be a tragically hopeless situation.

Meanwhile, I see that a lot of the rest of this chapter is spent recapping events and characters from previous entries in this little “meta-series” of yours. I myself am kind of in a weird position where I’m vaguely familiar with some things (having read a few parts of the “series” here and there), but I’m not completely not aware of all of the little details because I haven’t actually sat down and read each and every story in their entirety. As such, there are things that you mention in your little “recaps” that I’m aware of, such the existence of certain characters and their place in Nori’s life, although there are also references to events in other stories that naturally went completely over my head. And yet, despite me being in that weird and somewhat vulnerable position as far as understanding the universe of this story goes, I can say that I never really felt “out of the loop” or otherwise uncomfortable in that sense while reading, and I didn’t really feel like I had to put too much effort trying to understand things as opposed to me just enjoying what’s going on in front of me.

You see, from my admittedly narrow personal experience with Pokémon fanfic and perhaps even fiction in general, I’ve found that it’s a rare quality for a long-established series to be so welcoming and accessible to someone who has relatively no idea about said series, in the sense that it doesn’t really stress the reader to know things already. Of course, a lot of that is possible here because it seems that all of the stories in this meta-series are self-contained, and that the characters mostly stand on their own in said stories regardless of any character development that may have come about in previous entries. And in this particular case, there is a strong reliance on paragraphs dedicated exclusively to exposition to make that happen. That said, I think that it all feels more natural here than it may have otherwise been because, hey, you do indeed want to know who Nori is and what pretty much his entire life and career revolves around, right? Given that we’ll indeed likely see a lot of that in this story for that very latter reason (among others). It also helps that the actual prose of the exposition is as concise as it probably can be, mostly getting to the point without indulging itself too much in things that may be interesting to write about but may bore a reader looking either for plot or at least something interesting. Speaking of that: I also think it helps that many of the little details mentioned in the exposition are actually indeed rather interesting from a worldbuilding perspective. At least in my case, it all kind of makes you wonder about how the rest of this world works, and makes you curious to see more of what appears to be a step above your typical Pokémon fanfic setting.

(On a side note: how in the world did no one on the official side of things ever come up with the idea of Pokémon Rehabilitation? That seems to be such low-hanging fruit for a monster-based franchise like this. The closest analog that I can find to rehabilitation would be purification in the GameCube games, but then the Pokémon there have literally been brainwashed (or the E-rated version: “had the doors to their hearts closed” or something like that) versus the more ambiguous and nuanced circumstances that would necessitate actual rehabilitation. Perhaps that’s the problem: too much nuance? Too much of a chance for some poor child to take the mental road down to serial killer territory, scarring them for life or something, says some higher-up at Nintendo? Oh well; this is why we can’t have nice things. Except in fanfiction, haha.)

Now, as for the story itself, I found that this first chapter appears to be one of those ones where nothing seems to really happen. Instead, it appears to be one of those ones more focused on character introductions and such. Other than, of course, that little drama in the beginning that’s presumably there to give us a taste of the kind of madness that will come later (because, no question, we’ll be seeing that kind of scenario here again). This is fine for now, I think, but I look forward to some more excitement in later chapters (not necessarily the very next one, naturally, but in reasonably due time). And I’m hopeful that the continued character interactions and worldbuilding will be enough to keep things enlightening — or at least interesting — in the meantime.

A few quick thoughts before I conclude things here:
  • Maylene seems to be fulfilling the “little sister” role she’s been repurposed for here in this meta-series quite well. Innocent but not annoying: the foundation for every good “little sibling” character (rare as they often are in fiction). Plus some not-so-innocent things — in an innocent way, to be clear — to add some actual depth instead of just existing to be cute and innocent. “I’m glad that creep is dead!” she basically says here. Damn, Maylene. I mean, serial killer, yeah, but damn. Are you sure she’s not really Sinnoh’s next Ice-type Gym Leader or something?
  • I feel kind of weird about mentioning something as simple as Nori riding a skateboard, but there’s just something about it that gives off a sense of… innocence, I guess? Like it shows kids, well, actually being kids, which the typical larger-than-life “adolescents-save-the-world” setup doesn’t always lend itself as well to. I slightly got those vibes with the last scene with Nori and Maylene too, as well as what little I’ve read of Official In-Training and Nori’s interactions there with various members of a relatively realistic social pecking order. It’s a strength of your universe and of your writing, I think; something that distinguishes it from your stock journeyfic character beats. Even if that makes your characters more inclined to do some rather stupid things — in painfully realistic and relatable ways — that makes us in the audience who know better shake our heads at their foolishness. But then human beings in general are like that, aren’t they? Naïve, impulsive adolescents are merely even more so, and with a deft hand, there are wonderful opportunities for drama (of the right, non-exploitative sort) and character growth there, as I suspect you know all too well.
  • There’s nothing quite like a religious-type character who’s both unabashedly devout yet also down-to-earth and kind of cool, as Priestess Satomi comes across in at least this one scene here (and at least with Nori, which whom she’s clearly close to; don’t know about with anyone else). Bonus points for also coming off as a cool grandma-type character in addition to all of that (again, at least with Nori).
  • Fun with acronyms is fun. YAMS is a good one, I’ll give you that. Sounds about as ridiculous as most of its members seem to be, haha. At least if Nori’s experiences with the group are indicative of how they treat everyone they don’t like, anyway.
  • I found Prema’s “Is that not what friends do?” to be rather endearing in its sheer innocence, awkward as it also is. Still, just how sheltered does one have to be to feel the need to ask such a question so earnestly, or for one’s “causal” attire to still be as formal as the average person’s nicest regular clothes? “Fish out of water” doesn’t even begin to describe her situation. I’d imagine that she’s a massive target for various unsavory characters outside of the relative safety of her shrine (or at least for merely annoying characters like YAMS, as the narrative helpfully recaps here).
  • That mystery character in the final scene is weird. And not in an endearing, eccentric-yet-still-actually-kind-of-relatable-once-you-get-to-know-them kind of way, but rather in a legitimately creepy kind of way. Like, what exactly is your real business here, dude? And just how long have you been at this, exactly? I mean, it takes effort to get in the position he’s in right now. And as both a member of the International Police and a grown man in what, with this story, amounts to a child’s world to boot, that means he has authority, with all of the power that implies and with all of the potential for said power to be used for some highly corrupt and unpleasant things, to put it lightly. I’m not sure he’d be able to control himself even if he didn’t want to abuse his power, really, based on the childish mannerisms we see him display in this admittedly brief but no less revealing scene. Overall, those vibes… just no. I’m almost anxious to see what he’s really up to just to shake away any remaining feelings that he might be our story’s titular Blackout Killer (which I don’t actually believe, mind you — it’s silly to believe that at such an early stage — but those first few seconds reading that scene had paranoid me on edge a bit).
And that’s about it for this chapter, I think. Expect to see me again, haha, to see where this goes, and hopefully my comments will help provide some insight on what your readers might be thinking, or at the very least what I’m thinking. I can’t let an opportunity to review a Nori Carino fic as it’s being posted to go to waste, after all!
 
Yay, a new story from you! Woohoo! Though considering this is a relatively short introductory chapter, there isn't really much to comment on. It's nice to see that Nori's life is going decently well after what happened in Official In Training, with the usual plot set up at the end of the chapter. Curious to know who plans on calling Nori. I suspect it might be Looker, but I also doubt it. Anyway, keep up the good work! Can't wait to read more!
 
The beginning part is basically Nuzlocke in real life... except that the trainer dies as well...Maylene has a good reason for wanting to turn off.

There were a number of Pokemon out there with troublesome personality faults. Some of these were nothing more than minor quirks or a little unruliness. Other Pokemon were bad enough to be considered a danger to society.
Agreed

Therapist facilities would not accept the worst of these, and they were considered so savage that even the best trainers would have trouble controlling them. Yet it was a sensitive issue, for some thought it inhumane to contain or euthanize these Pokemon.
The last part of the sentence gives me PETA flashbacks

This is a pretty good story so far.
 
Even the simultaneously kind of wacky (from “Official In-Training” to “BLACKOUT KILLEEEEEEER”) yet kind of dead-serious title (no pun intended) has me kind of excited to see what kind of madness is going to be in store with this one. Which seems weird given the subject matter, which actually is pretty serious business for me, but given the rating and what series this belongs to, I don’t expect that it’s going to be one of those fics, if you know what I mean.
The metaseries can get dark, but it's more grounded in its dark-ness. Sometimes, this can be even worse than actual dark fics. This is something in between. Also, consider the first fic was Training a Demon. Not much better than that, arguably.

I’ll admit that you got me there with what I presume is the “Chapter 0” that you’ve been referring to elsewhere on these forums. That bait-and-switch helped me get off edge a bit, even as it’s all but stated later that the events depicted in that little drama there probably did actually happen, potential revisions and embellishments aside. And even as it did spook me quite a bit even after having that knowledge.
Based on a true story indeed.

I’m not quite sure just how much you were intending to do that, though (even with the presence of a certain character’s perfectly appropriate and relatable reaction afterwards, age be damned). Even with descriptions at a minimum — no doubt to keep that TEEN rating, right? — child murder is nasty business, as is the sudden and brutal death of any character (human, Pokémon, or otherwise), especially in what is quickly revealed to be a tragically hopeless situation.
I just didn't feel the need to describe the violence of the fic in graphic detail. Just the acts happening are enough. I decided T was the best way to go, as going up to M would really just have gore for the sake of gore.

Meanwhile, I see that a lot of the rest of this chapter is spent recapping events and characters from previous entries in this little “meta-series” of yours. ... And yet, despite me being in that weird and somewhat vulnerable position as far as understanding the universe of this story goes, I can say that I never really felt “out of the loop” or otherwise uncomfortable in that sense while reading, and I didn’t really feel like I had to put too much effort trying to understand things as opposed to me just enjoying what’s going on in front of me.
Yeah, I try to design the metaseries this way. It's more a collection of smaller fics and some large ones, so I need to make sure new readers can jump in at any point they want. Character development and stuff stays, but you're not missing any context without reading Training a Demon or Official In-Training. Most of the important stuff is mentioned.

(On a side note: how in the world did no one on the official side of things ever come up with the idea of Pokémon Rehabilitation?
If I had to guess, the idea most have is that any strong trainer would be able to make any Pokemon, no matter how unruly, obey by respect. You summed up why in a canon sense, but it's probably similar in a fanfic sense.

Now, as for the story itself, I found that this first chapter appears to be one of those ones where nothing seems to really happen. Instead, it appears to be one of those ones more focused on character introductions and such. Other than, of course, that little drama in the beginning that’s presumably there to give us a taste of the kind of madness that will come later (because, no question, we’ll be seeing that kind of scenario here again).
This is kind of a byproduct I was a little concerned about with splitting the first chapter into two. Originally, this went up to Nori getting the titular Pokemon, but adding more recap pushed it to where I decided to snip it. It's almost a prologue in that regard.

Maylene seems to be fulfilling the “little sister” role she’s been repurposed for here in this meta-series quite well. Innocent but not annoying: the foundation for every good “little sibling” character (rare as they often are in fiction). Plus some not-so-innocent things — in an innocent way, to be clear — to add some actual depth instead of just existing to be cute and innocent. “I’m glad that creep is dead!” she basically says here. Damn, Maylene. I mean, serial killer, yeah, but damn. Are you sure she’s not really Sinnoh’s next Ice-type Gym Leader or something?
As I think I mentioned some times, Maylene has an interesting role. She wasn't originally a canon character in the very earliest plannings, but I decided upon her due to a theme of knowing famous people and not knowing who might turn out famous - Nori himself is such a case, actually. Her eventual role as a Gym Leader also lets me dip her out of the metaseries occasionally. You can see here though the first push towards becoming a Fighting type leader in her taking self-defense courses.

She and Nori have an interesting dynamic where she takes after him to some extent. Little sister is definitely a good description for her role to Nori!

- I feel kind of weird about mentioning something as simple as Nori riding a skateboard, but there’s just something about it that gives off a sense of… innocence, I guess? Like it shows kids, well, actually being kids, which the typical larger-than-life “adolescents-save-the-world” setup doesn’t always lend itself as well to. ... Even if that makes your characters more inclined to do some rather stupid things — in painfully realistic and relatable ways — that makes us in the audience who know better shake our heads at their foolishness.
It's pretty uncommon, yeah. Most fics with youths tend to be journey-based, and because they're often group-based as well, you don't really see things like bicycles, skateboards, etc. And yes, youths can definitely do and think some dumb things. Isn't really mentioned, but for example here, Nori doesn't wear a helmet. He has valid reasons not to (like it taking up too much space), but still, been brought up to him before and he's shrugged it off.

Then you got the fics where the kids are adults in all but name. I go for something of a compromise with Nori and Prema for uniqueness: they're young but in the adult world, giving them sort of an odd position.

- There’s nothing quite like a religious-type character who’s both unabashedly devout yet also down-to-earth and kind of cool, as Priestess Satomi comes across in at least this one scene here (and at least with Nori, which whom she’s clearly close to; don’t know about with anyone else). Bonus points for also coming off as a cool grandma-type character in addition to all of that (again, at least with Nori).
Just wait for the sibling fic with Prema, where Satomi is a secondary character. She's for sure one of my favorite characters to write.

- Fun with acronyms is fun. YAMS is a good one, I’ll give you that. Sounds about as ridiculous as most of its members seem to be, haha. At least if Nori’s experiences with the group are indicative of how they treat everyone they don’t like, anyway.
In-universe, they wanted something that could be said aloud and was catchy. It's mostly the two leaders who are pieces of work; Nariya was a former member who left because of it, as did two others.

- I found Prema’s “Is that not what friends do?” to be rather endearing in its sheer innocence, awkward as it also is. Still, just how sheltered does one have to be to feel the need to ask such a question so earnestly, or for one’s “causal” attire to still be as formal as the average person’s nicest regular clothes? “Fish out of water” doesn’t even begin to describe her situation. I’d imagine that she’s a massive target for various unsavory characters outside of the relative safety of her shrine (or at least for merely annoying characters like YAMS, as the narrative helpfully recaps here).
Sheltered isn't a bad way to describe Prema. It's not completely inaccurate in how she's in something of an odd spot, that said. She's an excellent public speaker and is far from closed off from the world, but has little practical real-life experience and had no real friends until Nori came along. She's by no means awkward, just unsure how she should conduct herself - but she appreciates Nori for how he has no expectations of her unlike (to her) literally everyone else. Definitely don't confuse her for being emotionless either, she just conceals them most of the time.

In fact, the bond between Nori and Prema is pretty much the main plot thread of the whole metaseries, even if it takes a backseat in most of the fics.

- That mystery character in the final scene is weird. And not in an endearing, eccentric-yet-still-actually-kind-of-relatable-once-you-get-to-know-them kind of way, but rather in a legitimately creepy kind of way. Like, what exactly is your real business here, dude? And just how long have you been at this, exactly? I mean, it takes effort to get in the position he’s in right now.
Yes, it definitely seems as if this guy is foolish and irresponsible, even something of a manchild, does it?

And that’s about it for this chapter, I think. Expect to see me again, haha, to see where this goes, and hopefully my comments will help provide some insight on what your readers might be thinking, or at the very least what I’m thinking. I can’t let an opportunity to review a Nori Carino fic as it’s being posted to go to waste, after all!

Good to see you here - was not expecting you as my first review, heh - and look forward to more in the very near future!

---

Yay, a new story from you! Woohoo! Though considering this is a relatively short introductory chapter, there isn't really much to comment on.
It's pretty much the prologue setting things up! Though there's plenty to comment on if you look, as Baku did.

It's nice to see that Nori's life is going decently well after what happened in Official In Training, with the usual plot set up at the end of the chapter.
More of it will be gone into in the next chapter.

Curious to know who plans on calling Nori. I suspect it might be Looker, but I also doubt it.
He is a character who has appeared before!

---

The beginning part is basically Nuzlocke in real life... except that the trainer dies as well...Maylene has a good reason for wanting to turn off.
I mean the guy's name is Lochlyn Nuzzo. :p The intent was to show just how insane a person who actually follows that would be.

The last part of the sentence gives me PETA flashbacks
I imagine there would be Pokemon rights activists in the world. Maybe not to PETA or Plasma (allegedly) extents, but still.
 
Slice 2: Iron Monster
It was difficult for many people to believe that the future head priestess of the Kannagi Shrine could be so close to an outgoing free spirit who had no love for faith. A few members of the shrine had actually condemned it, either privately or to her face. While the rest could not understand, they accepted it for what it was. There were times when Prema herself could not believe it, as eternally grateful she was for their friendship. It was a story in itself regarding how it came to be, and the incidental circumstances made Prema believe the red thread of destiny had bound them together in some fashion.

Her friend dressed himself in dark green jeans plus a simple white shirt. His chestnut colored hair waved not only from the light breeze, but from the bounce in his step. The sparkle in his gentle, deep-red eyes made Prema smile.

Their Pokemon were in equally good spirits. Alongside Pachi floated a tiny pink Pokemon that appeared to be wearing a mask. Shu – her Spritzee – was engrossed in the conversation, even if he was simply listening politely and answering his fellow Pokemon's rapid-fire questions.

"Man, I'm glad we finally get to hang out, Prema!" her friend declared, stretching his arms over his head.

"As am I, Nori." She had been looking forward to this since Nori's return to Veilstone two weeks ago. He had visited prior, but this was the first time they had been able to truly spend time together. "Have you been well?"

"Yup! I got things sorted out with Maylene, for one. She still likes me a lot, but it's more like I'm an older brother to her, which is fine by me." Prema could not hope to understand, but it sounded as though Nori had found a path he was comfortable with regarding his younger friend's precocious crush.

"School's been great. I wasn't sure what to expect, given, you know." He rubbed behind an ear. "But besides being pestered to join the battling team, it's been fine. I've actually joined the club that works on the school newsletter. I'm already leading it, too. I've been using some of the money that Volkner gave me that I saved up to sometimes buy lunch. It's been weird going back to meals at home after eating so well at Sunyshore. But I should be getting my first paycheck at the end of the month, so that'll help. Best of all, ma's not asking for much out of me. She's even been teaching me money management. I figured she knew how to do it, because how else has she been balancing our budget so well when all we have is money from the government? Besides that, I've just been studying, practicing Pokemon, and going on skateboard rides. Oh, and I'm getting my first assignment today. And, that's about all that's been happening the past two weeks."

Prema listened intently and politely. "It is comforting to know your life has returned to normal, Nori." This particularly after his experiences at Sunyshore Gym, where he was subjected to conditions no one should have to live under.

Nori suddenly snapped upward, something evidently on his mind. "Um, sorry. Didn't mean to ramble there. But how about you?" he inquired, a glint in his eyes. "How's things been?"

"It is quite all right that you did so," she assured him on his first point. She was used to listening to others. "It has been as usual, primarily consisting of work at or for the shrine."

The beam that had been on his lips faded just a little. "Well, what about Nariya? You and her done much?" He spoke of the other individual she could consider a friend, one who had joined the shrine in June.

"Yes, we have been speaking."

Nori frowned and rubbed beneath his left ear. "Um, so have you run into YAMS too?"

"Not since three months ago." She was thankful for that.

"You're um, a little quiet. Terse too, I guess. Is everything all right?"

She halted, bowing lightly. "Forgive me. I did not mean to offend or worry you. I have always been more of a listener. I simply do not feel much of my life is worth speaking of."

"I think it is. I'm sure you have a very interesting life, Prema."

She shook her head. "Moreover, it would not befit my station to talk at length." Truthfully, there was a third reason. Hearing about other people's lives was a routine experience for her. It was rare that she got a chance to talk about her own with someone, to the point where she had a little uncertainty.

"I guess you're just modest, huh?"

A faint smile reached her. "I suppose so." They were opposites in that regard. It was a contrast to his being outgoing and possessing a cheer that could well brighten the world around him. "It is good to see you so inspirited, Nori. Particularly after your ordeals earlier in the year."

"Yup. I decided it was time to go back to being, well, me!" he declared with a small hop. "Well, a me with his experiences from Sunyshore, but still me."

He had grown, yet at heart, he was the same Nori she had met over a year ago. Although she was uncertain how to express it properly or why she felt so, she was relieved about that.

"Did you have a place in mind, or did you wish to go where the wind guides us?" Prema inquired. Anywhere would be fine with her. There were in fact a couple places she herself had in mind, yet she decided to save the suggestions for next time.

"I was thinking we could go to Gabbron Park, since we never did get a chance to go there–"

There came an abrupt sound, a repeating series of beeps. Nori patted himself down, retrieving a small rectangular earpiece from his right pocket. He fumbled to get it into his right ear with his nondominant hand, clicking a button on the side when he managed it.

"Hello, Nori Carino," he said. Ten seconds later, he was scowling and yelling, "What?! Already?! I thought it was going to be later on!"

Though not privy to one side of the conversation, Prema was able to understand it at once. She could not help but feel disappointed.

"I'm with my friend Prema right now. As in, Prema Kannagi, of the Kannagi Shrine?" he said, putting his hand on his hip. Five seconds later, he gritted his teeth and stomped a foot. "Fine, fine. I'll come, I'll come," he muttered in disgust.

With a sigh, he put the earpiece back in his pocket. "That was an official. My Pokemon's ready and I have to pick it up before four." He grumbled and crossed his arms. "It was supposed to be at or after four."

If that was how it had to be, there was but one thing to do. "I may accompany you if you wish," she offered.

Nori's eyes brightened and he leaned forward. "Really? You mean it?"

When she gave nonverbal confirmation, he crouched and nearly left his feet. Evidently, he was restraining himself from jumping for joy. It was somewhat cute, actually.

"It's probably not a bad idea anyway, and he said you could."

As Prema had suspected. Although if he had not, she was certain the combination of her position and Nori's insistence would be convincing after showing up unannounced.

"Okay, follow me!" he said, motioning with his arm. "It's not that far from here. It's over at Crescent Hills Elementary."

Prema was aware that offering to come along would make Nori's day, which was why she did so. Yet the truth was she had some personal motivations. For one, she also did not want their walk to be cut short. She enjoyed the time she spent with Nori, as it was time she did not have to be overburdened by scrutiny. Moreover and more selfishly, she had an interest in seeing this Pokemon.

---​

Slice 2: Iron Monster


Veilstone City was renowned for its rugged terrain, from sloped ground to parts of the settlement being built into flattened cliffs. Crescent Hills was one of the latter areas, and was a good spot for a hike in the city limits.

There was a small park near the school which the two passed into. Two women were pacing around the perimeter of the playground while keeping an eye on a group of kids, who were running around playing a game on their phones. A family on a walk was heading down the east trails. A young adult with long dark hair sat around the children's backpacks at one of the picnic tables, typing away on a laptop. Both Nori and Prema turned a few heads, but they received nothing but waves.

"Hi, Nori!" came the shout of Maylene. Waiting here as she promised! She made a daring leap off the playground, landing in a crouch on her feet.

"Nice jump." He applauded her bold entrance. The pacing women seemed about to say something about it, but they didn't.

The pink-haired girl giggled and blushed at the praise. "Thanks. Hi, Pachi! And hi, Lady Kannagi! Didn't expect you here!"

"Hello," the future head priestess replied simply.

"And hi, Lady Kannagi's Pokemon!" Shu spun in the air in greeting. "So is it time?" Maylene asked.

"It's time!" he confirmed. "Let's go."

Nori led the girls to the south over a small footbridge which led to the school. He knew from being around the place a few times that the way into the gymnasium was directly across from there. He knocked at the big blue double door and stepped back. It took only five seconds to get an answer.

"Greetings and met well, sir!" a scruffy European man with an odd accent welcomed him as he flung the door open, nearly slamming it against the outside wall if not for its heaviness. If Nori hadn't stepped away, it would've struck him. The man was wearing a dark gray coat with rips along the seams. His dusty brown hair looked like an out-of-control meadow, complimented by a lazily shaved beard. "Well, no, we meet again!" he corrected himself.

"Er, I don't think we've met before, though?"

The young official glanced around as they stepped inside. The gymnasium was almost like one you'd see at any school: able to double as an auditorium, a volleyball net that could be stretched out, and lines on the floor marking a Pokemon battlefield. There were also basketball hoops and appropriate markings for the game, which was a mild surprise to see. It wasn't that common a sport in Japan.

The man slouched. "Come on, sir! Are you not remembering your school and your principal? Well, your old school. We were there having a speak, and you came by!"

"Vaguely, now that you mention it." His friend Lux had gone missing before an assembly and Nori was wandering around looking for him. Was this guy there? That day was sort of a blur.

"Proper introducing is the order, then." The man bowed, so heavily Nori thought he was going to tip over and headbutt the floor. "My name is called Studd! Agent Studd! Of the International Police!"

Nori stopped in his tracks and scrutinized the man. "I thought I was meeting with a Tomás Martins?"

The guy gripped at his head, fingers pulling on his hair. "Please, sir! Call me Studd!"

"What kind of a name is Studd?" Maylene innocently asked.

"It is my codename!" The man struck a pose. "I, of course, am called Studd because I am a stud!"

At that moment, a foul odor assaulted Nori's nostrils, a mix of grime, food, and bodily fluids that the young official hoped was only sweat. He grimaced and scrunched his nose, giving the man a side-glance to keep it pointed away. "I don't get it, I don't see anything stud-like about you."

"Pah! You only are thinking it because you are a boy who likes girls!" he dismissed before turning to his friends. "A girl can see I am one, as can you two?"

"No, you're creepy and stink," Maylene uncharacteristically said.

Prema softly smiled. "I am certain there is someone out there who sees you as one, Agent," she replied, without a shred of snark or meanness.

Studd clutched at his chest as if he'd been shot. He almost keeled over, too. "Ow. That hurt!"

"I apologize if you took offense. I did not intend any," said Prema with a bow. Maylene only giggled. She certainly did mean what she said. Nori couldn't say Studd didn't deserve it, either.

The boy shook his head at the man's antics. "Anyway, so you're the official giving me my Pokemon today?"

"Not only that, but the one who sees you over!" Studd declared.

Nori blinked. This guy was the one he was going to be reporting to? Well, his Officials' teacher back in Sunyshore did say they usually gave these jobs to the lower ranked ones. So that would explain some of that. He assumed there was a reason this guy became an International Police officer in the first place, but he wasn't seeing it yet.

"That is right, meet your new boss, same as your old boss!" Studd declared. Likely trying to force a reference Nori didn't get. He had an energy that reminded the young official of a friend he met in Sunyshore, Arumi Schrader. Only without any self-awareness.

"Can we see my assignment now?" he asked. He could tolerate this man's attitude, but he felt it would take forever to get to it if he didn't ask. And Prema had limited time to spend with him.

"Oh, but of course! Business time. And let me tell you something, sir! They are starting you off with a doozy!" Agent Studd patted his belly as he let out a hearty guffaw. "I had been unable to believe these ears on my head when I was told of its identity!"

Nori confidently put his hands on his hips and grinned. "Whatever it is, I'm up for the challenge!"

The agent clapped his hands. "Ah, the precise manner of attitude I wished to be hearing from you!" he said. "Very well, sir! Allow me to set the stage, first! I hope that you lovely ladies are ready as well!"

Maylene shuddered a little, clutching onto Nori's arm. Maybe second-guessing coming with him. Prema, by contrast, serenely smiled. "When you are ready, Agent."

"Your first assignment, Mr. Carino, is a Pokemon nearly as notorious as the Demon herself! One that puts the monster in Pocket Monster! A truly wicked iron mon! He was formerly owned by a mass serial murderer all the way over in Unova!"

"A killer in Unova?!" Maylene gasped, full-on clinging to Nori.

The boy shook his head, putting an arm around her. "It's not him," he said, patting her on the shoulder. He was sure about that one. That guy had been dead for over a year.

"After his trainer's death, he was put in the care of a veteran police officer. He killed a criminal's Musharna in their first outing and nearly killed the criminal too!"

Prema frowned, wrapping a palm over a fist in prayer. Maylene leaned into him. Her gaze was fixated on a cage near Studd that was a little over a cubic meter.

Nori asked the obvious, mainly for clarification, "And the cop couldn't get the Pokemon under control?"

"No, sir! The Pokemon even assaulted him, injuring him into his retirement! And this officer had been a forty-year veteran of Pokemon training which I have been speaking of!"

"Connecting with a Pokemon can be a difficult issue," Prema remarked. "It is not as simple as capturing one in a Poke Ball and showing compassion."

"Indeed, Lady Kannagi! Not even talent at battling can mean much!" Agent Studd stated. "This Pokemon is very fortunate, in fact! It was scheduled to have been put down, before Mr. Carino's position came to exist! It has been sitting this whole time for months now, awaiting for his readiness!"

The young official slowly nodded. A Pokemon that would have died if not for him being around. A Pokemon given one last chance at life under his care. "If there's some good to be found in this Pokemon, I'll find it," he declared. Pachi chirruped in agreement.

Shu chirped along with Pachi. The Spritzee's trainer smiled. "Well said, Nori."

"Then without further adieu!" Agent Studd malapropped. He reached into the burlap sack by his briefcase and pulled out a dark box. Fidgeting with his coat pocket, he retrieved a key which he used to open the case. Contained within was an ordinary Poke Ball painted black on the bottom. He carefully extracted it, opened a latch on the side of the cage, and held the capsule inside. In one motion, he cracked it open and removed his hand, shutting the latch as soon as he was able.

A short and shiny Pokemon materialized, primarily black with blood-red arms, feet, and top of the cranium. It was literally head to toe in blades – two sharp nails on its feet, a lightly-chipped horn curved like a shark fin, four jutting out in front of its stomach with razor-blades around its body, and two hands that looked like needles.

Maylene screamed, letting go and taking two tentative steps away. "Is that the Blackout Killer's Pawniard!?"

As Nori was about to assure her otherwise, Agent Studd's jaw hit the floor. "How did you know, miss?!" he exclaimed. "Well, no matter! It makes the introductioning simpler!"

"Uh, Nori! This is a bad idea! I'm sorry, I have to go, bye!" Maylene bolted for the door. Nori initially chuckled a little, before seeing the others' reactions.

Prema had frozen up, staring at the Pawniard with a slightly ajar mouth. The sight of it had rendered her speechless. A disturbing contrast to her somber mood when she first laid eyes on the Demon. Shu was shuddering at her side. A hesitant Pachi reluctantly squeaked something, maybe a hello.

The caged Pokemon snarled in reply and lunged. His bladed arm was unable to get more than a few centimeters out of the cage, but it still sent the two Pokemon scurrying behind their trainers.

As part of his training to become an official, Nori had been taught to read people and – to a lesser extent – Pokemon body language. Yet even if he could not, the thin retinas, the slouched and contorted posture, and rabid snarling could tell anyone everything.

He locked eyes with his first assignment, the Pokemon he would be working with. He showed the Pawniard no fear, but that was not to say he was not worried.

---​

Prema excused herself shortly after they left the school. While she wished to stay with him longer, she stated it was best to return to the shrine sooner rather than later. Her sudden departure struck Nori as being a little unusual, but he ultimately thought little of it. After all, the life of a shrine maiden was probably very busy, and he barely knew much about it. And as for himself, he had his first task, and it started with getting to know the Blackout Killer's Pawniard personally – not from what he heard from the stories.

Nori quickly concluded it was best not to meet (let alone test out) his new acquisition anywhere too public. He thereby decided to head to what was informally known as the city's industrial district. Located in the northwest part of Veilstone, it was home to warehouses, factories, the docks, and the city's power plant. It was usually quiet, but had a lot of open space. One could even find the odd wild Pokemon up there for a battle, if not workers looking to take a break.

It took about twenty minutes of skating to reach his destination. He promptly went to a specific back road, a wide alleyway. There was no particular purpose for going there besides poetic reasons. Before taking out his first assignment, he brought out his zeroth. Pachi was already at his side.

"So, my Demon!" he asked the teal Pokemon in a cheery tone which made her shake her head (albeit with a smirk). "Remember this place?"

The Demon was much larger and fiercer-looking than the average for her species. She was actually the source of a debate at school the other day if she was some modern-day Alpha Pokemon, a prominent thing in those fictional ‘Hisui’ stories although based on a real phenomenon. The debate devolved into an argument followed by mudslinging. The sensible people agreed, however, that just because the ones thinking that learned about something recently doesn't mean they should start applying the moniker to every way-larger-than-average Pokemon.

The teal Pokemon looked around, soon nodding and giving a toothy grin. This was where they had fought a Staravia, and where she tried to escape him. Only he, knowing the place better, cut her off and recalled her. He always wondered if that earned him some respect, although he never felt up to asking her.

Pachi appeared curious. He seemed to ask her about it, but the Demon refused to answer. The squirrel then glanced at Nori.

"Not now," he said with a shrug. "All right, you're out just in case. Ready to meet our new teammate?"

While the Demon grinned wickedly and stood tall, Pachi shook off and motioned to be recalled. "Well, you'll have to meet him sometime," he said, ignoring his Pokemon's request. The Demon shook her head and muttered some words at her panicking teammate as Nori threw the painted capsule before them.

Out came the Pawniard. The first thing he did upon emerging was take stock of his surroundings. After that, his steely gaze turned to the Demon, who sneered back at him. His eyes then fell upon Pachi, who put up his paws and squeaked in defense. Finally, he turned to stare at Nori with his beady yellow retinas.

"So, uh, hi!" he greeted. Pokemon generally knew what humans were saying, even if humans generally couldn't understand Pokemon. "I'm Nori Carino. This is Pachi, and this is the Demon. Welcome to the team!"

There was no response. He'd done something similar when initially speaking with the Demon. It hadn't gone so well, but introductions were proper, right?

"So I guess you should know you're my new assignment. First assignment, actually. I'm a Pokemon Rehabilitator, and I'm here to help you get...um, get nicer, I guess."

His position was difficult and kind of complicated to explain. The Demon actually said something brief as well, but the response was the same as before to both of them.

"I'm sure you have a lot of blood on you. I don't know why you like killing, but you have to stop. If you keep it up, it won't end well for you."

There were so many things he wanted to say. He was terrible at giving these kinds of speeches.

"You like, can still be you! Just ask her!" he motioned to the Demon. "You can change while still being you! But like, you can't go killing things for losing a battle to you. Not everything's life and death. You know? Er, I mean, do you understand?"

The Demon actually started snickering. It brought back memories of when they first met, and he made himself look dumb, but it wasn't funny!

"Shut up!" He stomped a foot and yelled at the Nidorina. "I'm trying, o–"

Suddenly, the Pawniard was in motion, blade drawn back and ready to swing. Pachi chittered in a panic. Nori stepped back at once and aimed the Poke Ball, using his fingers as makeshift sights. However, a clang echoed through the alley as the Demon jumped between them and masterfully parried with her own claws.

The young official reluctantly watched to see what would happen. He held the ball with two hands to keep his aim steady. He didn't have anything to subdue Pawniard yet, so all he could do was get ready to recall him.

The two Pokemon roared at each other. Pawniard swung his other arm only to be blocked again. He lashed out with a stab, but the Demon was quicker and shoved away. Then he whirled around and lowered his horn, lunging for the squirrel!

Nori took that moment to fire. Pachi screeched in terror and got in a crouching position to use Agility, but Nori's aim was perfect. The Pawniard wasn't even halfway there when he was sucked back into his capsule.

"Everyone all right?" he asked. The Demon snorted dismissively, and Pachi shook his head. He smiled at the squirrel. "Sorry, Pachi. Also, try to defend yourself next time," he gently scolded, before correcting himself. "Well, if there is a next time."

The Demon barked an agreement. Pachi whined, but after a small exchange between the two Pokemon, firmly nodded in acceptance. His tail twitched, as it would when prepping Electro Ball, except he didn't actually use the move.

"Well, that went badly." Nori shuffled his feet and leaned against a brick wall. He wasn't expecting the thing to try to murder them right away. Maybe killing was a far bigger part of the Pawniard's personality than he thought. To nobody and nothing in particular, he asked, "So, now what?"
 
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Well, Nori's certainly got his work cut out for him if he's being made to rehabilitate a Pokemon that's committed murders. Also, Prema has a Spritzee! Cute! I'm guessing it's nickname Shu is a reference to its Japanese name. I can totally understand why Prema and Maylene reacted the way they did upon meeting a Pokemon that was owned by a serial killer. If I was in their position, I wouldn't want anything to do with it. I remember Agent Studd being from the crossover story you wrote with my fic, but that's really all I can recall. Did you make him use the world adieu wrong on purpose? Curious to read more and see how Nori'll be able to deal with the Pawniard.
 
Well, Nori's certainly got his work cut out for him if he's being made to rehabilitate a Pokemon that's committed murders.
This is definitely something way more serious than the Demon. A doozy indeed.

Also, Prema has a Spritzee! Cute! I'm guessing it's nickname Shu is a reference to its Japanese name.
I wanted her to have a cute outside-the-ball Pokemon like Nori. Well, in-theory. He isn't out as often becuase of his scents. As for guessing his name origin, you'd actually be wrong. It's a perfectly reasonable guess though (actually slipped my mind), and her real inspiration gets explained in Memory of a Ghoul C2. That said I added that misconception into the explanation.

I can totally understand why Prema and Maylene reacted the way they did upon meeting a Pokemon that was owned by a serial killer. If I was in their position, I wouldn't want anything to do with it.
Oh there's even worse implications about Prema's reaction. Keep in mind, she's all but outright stated to have empathic abilities. A big contrast Nori mentioned was from Training a Demon. The moment she laid eyes on the Demon Nidorina, she was able to tell she wasn't all that bad despite how vicious she was. One look at this Pawniard, though? A much different reaction. Foreboding!

I remember Agent Studd being from the crossover story you wrote with my fic, but that's really all I can recall.
Well, he was technically Looker there, just unnamed. I changed him to Great Value Looker so Nori didn't have more canon character connections, and because I liked the dynamic of Nori and Lars Bunston in MarAwry. Although Studd is different enough from Lars.

Did you make him use the world adieu wrong on purpose?
"Agent Studd malapropped." So yes, absolutely, and outright mentioning in-fic he misused it. I'm not sure if malaprop a verb which has a past tense, but I spent some time looking it up and even if it should be double consonented or not. Aside, malapropism is the noun form.
 
Lochlyn Nuzzo
:wynaut:
I think I've occasionally seen people who think GameFreak should cater to that challenge type, even including it as an official mode.

Then you got the fics where the kids are adults in all but name.
To be fair actual children shouldn't realistically be able to do the things the franchise is based entirely around. ;)


Chapter 1+2

I vaguely remembered Studd but not exactly what he was asking the Principal about originally so I doubled back to recheck.

You know I'm surprised they didn't just try giving the Pawniard to Kallisto at some point considering they trusted him with Xurkitree..
Can't wait for YAMS to find out about this. :D They were already unhappy with "the demon" Nodirina....

I've got a very bad feeling about this. Pawniard better not hurt Pachi.
 
:wynaut:
I think I've occasionally seen people who think GameFreak should cater to that challenge type, even including it as an official mode.
I actually made a double reference. The title of the second chapter is Iron Monster, and Studd refers to Pawniard as an iron mon. But yeah like I mentioned above, you'd have to be insane to follow it in a proper setting.

To be fair actual children shouldn't realistically be able to do the things the franchise is based entirely around. ;)
Very true.

I vaguely remembered Studd but not exactly what he was asking the Principal about originally so I doubled back to recheck.
To be fair he pretty much only showed in a cameo role so far, particularly given I changed the plans for him.

You know I'm surprised they didn't just try giving the Pawniard to Kallisto at some point considering they trusted him with Xurkitree..
To be fair, that was a carefully spun lie. It was dangerous, but it wasn't Pokemon Rehabilitator dangerous - there's a difference between Pokemon given to a good trainer and the madness Nori deals with. Plus it was in-part to make Kallisto even more special

Can't wait for YAMS to find out about this. :D They were already unhappy with "the demon" Nodirina....
Heh heh heh

I've got a very bad feeling about this. Pawniard better not hurt Pachi.
Find out how much worse it gets as the fic goes on!
 
“So! We all just almost got killed by the Blade of the Blackout Killer, and it’s literally our job to dull that blade. Somehow. Now what, amirite guys?”

:LOL:

Nothing like a plot where the odds are utterly against the protagonist, huh? With potentially life-threatening implications, at that. Even when you know that none of our “heroes” (haha) are probably going to become our Blade’s next victim, you can’t help but feel the dire stakes here. Perhaps not so much for the Blade himself, whose characterization pretty much boils down to “serial killer’s Pokémon: do the math”, but it certainly works well enough for his debut and for, again, setting up the very dire stakes on Nori’s end. Because it actually makes me wonder if his first assignment here might actually end up being his first failure. That would certainly be a twist, wouldn’t it? A hard lesson in Pokémon Rehabilitation: some Pokémon just can’t be saved, no matter how hard you try. Although one could just as easily say that’s quite a cynical lesson for one’s first assignment, right? Not to mention quite the downer ending for this story. In any case, I look forward to seeing what the outcome is here, and what we can really expect from the Blade as a character.

And speaking of… characters… we most certainly meet one here in the form of our no-longer-mystery-man Agent Studd. A very strange man who comes across as basically Looker if he were less competent, or perhaps just competent enough to get by while clearly not being quite all there in the head. I mean, he seemed more than a bit too excited to show everyone — “everyone” including a ten-year-old girl, I might add — a serial killer’s former Pokémon as if it were an exotic zoo animal or something (even if an actual exotic zoo animal would probably be less needing of a cage than that Blade, admittedly). Really shows you the completely different headspaces that he and Nori are on when it comes to Pokémon like him.

Meanwhile, you could easily say the same between Maylene and Nori when you consider the former’s reaction, although her own more frightened one is more justified given her weaker constitution when it comes to matters of death and killing, as well as the fact that she’s, you know, ten. I’d imagine that she’d be a solid stand-in for how most random people on the street would react to a Pokémon like the Blade, thus perhaps necessitating Nori’s position as Pokémon Rehabilitator. Prema’s reaction, meanwhile, is far more interesting considering that she’s indeed the reason why a certain other “killer” Pokémon got her own second chance, which I suppose helps give Prema a frame of reference closer to Nori’s that neither Maylene nor Agend Studd have. As you’ve of course already mentioned, though, the difference in her initial response to the Demon versus that of the Blade is significant indeed: one that speaks volumes as to the kind of challenge that Nori will be facing with the latter here.

As always, I’ll be looking forward to the next!
 
“So! We all just almost got killed by the Blade of the Blackout Killer, and it’s literally our job to dull that blade. Somehow. Now what, amirite guys?”
This is pretty apt at describing Nori. Maybe not so casually, but he's certainly not at a loss on what to do either. yet

Nothing like a plot where the odds are utterly against the protagonist, huh? With potentially life-threatening implications, at that. Even when you know that none of our “heroes” (haha) are probably going to become our Blade’s next victim, you can’t help but feel the dire stakes here.
I wanted to make sure the thing had a strong first impression. Prema and Maylene's reactions were planned. I added the attempt to attack through the cage and decided on adding a "first outing" scene to help along with that.

Because it actually makes me wonder if his first assignment here might actually end up being his first failure. That would certainly be a twist, wouldn’t it? A hard lesson in Pokémon Rehabilitation: some Pokémon just can’t be saved, no matter how hard you try.
Heh heh heh, I'll get back to this...

And speaking of… characters… we most certainly meet one here in the form of our no-longer-mystery-man Agent Studd. A very strange man who comes across as basically Looker if he were less competent, or perhaps just competent enough to get by while clearly not being quite all there in the head.
As I alluded to in my response to Juliko, Studd (and Nori) originates from A Marvelous Journey Awry, an alternate world what-if version of one plot beat of her fic. A lot of things were rougher around the time, particularly Nori's personality which was missing a lot of the nuance and positivity aspects, and one of the things was that the guy he reported into literally was Looker. I changed that to what you described: Looker but even less competent.

Meanwhile, you could easily say the same between Maylene and Nori when you consider the former’s reaction, although her own more frightened one is more justified given her weaker constitution when it comes to matters of death and killing, as well as the fact that she’s, you know, ten.
Pretty much! A big part of Nori's character is that he's actually something of an optimist. When the startling revelation is made that yes, the Pokemon he's rehabilitating is in fact from the serial killer he heard about on the radio, all he really does is laugh at how much of a coincidence it is. He perfectly gets Maylene's reaction, yet he's also up for the challenge. After all, another part of his character is not giving up sometimes to an unhealthy degree

Prema’s reaction, meanwhile, is far more interesting considering that she’s indeed the reason why a certain other “killer” Pokémon got her own second chance, which I suppose helps give Prema a frame of reference closer to Nori’s that neither Maylene nor Agend Studd have. As you’ve of course already mentioned, though, the difference in her initial response to the Demon versus that of the Blade is significant indeed: one that speaks volumes as to the kind of challenge that Nori will be facing with the latter here.
That is, until he sees this. He absolutely can read the room, so to speak, and you can bet that we're going to come back to why she reacted that way. Without context on his end it gets him a little concerned, moreso after the first thing it does is try to attack. And well...you'll see where it goes from here.
 
Slice 3: Brand of Style
Nori eventually went back home for dinner. He'd also have to tell his mom what was happening. They got along well despite having their share of disagreements. They had to, given their financial situation and how they were their only family. She'd been very supportive of him, actually being the one who ultimately pushed him into accepting the offer to become a Pokemon Rehabilitator.

The resemblance between Nori and his mom, Ayume Carino, came mostly in their features. They had similar skin texture and hair texture, and the same look in their eyes. However, she had ravenous black hair and earthy brown eyes. His build came from his father's side of the family, a foreign businessman who his mother hadn't known since his conception at a party.

Ayume smiled as he stepped through the trailer door. The scent of canned stew was ripe in the air. Pachi ran up to her immediately.

"It's nice to see you too, Pachi, but this isn't for you." she said, leaning down to give him a pat as he tugged at her pant leg. The little squirrel squeaked, hopping up on the seat to the side. "So how did it go?" his mom asked.

"Pretty good, ma!" he answered. It was pretty good by his standards, anyway. "The guy who gave me the Pokemon is weird and his grasp of the global language isn't that great, but he seems all right. Got my first assignment and got to know him over by the docks." He paused and laughed. "And well, he's gonna need some work."

"As I expected it would," she remarked. "These things will take time."

"Yup. Tomorrow's another day!" There was no time pressure with his assignments. They would take however long was necessary. All he had to do was report in his progress every week.

Ayume stirred the contents of the pot atop the trailer's stove. "Did you get anything else?"

"Oh! Yes, like forms and documents, plus some info on my assignment like the moves he knows. Nothing major, really." Most of it, like his ID and Officials' radio, had already come in the mail. He was still waiting for...well. His tranquilizer tool, for when things got too out of hand.

His mom nodded. "Dinner's just about ready."

"Timing couldn't be better, then." He gave a glance to Pachi, who was looking up at him with eager eyes. Still thinking about food. "I guess I'll get you yours before then." He wagged his bushy tail in delight as Nori went to do so.

He'd feed the Demon after. The young official wasn't sure about feeding Pawniard just yet. It'd be a bad idea to do it in the trailer park, let alone the trailer. Thankfully, Pokemon had significantly lower metabolism in their Poke Balls, so it wasn't going to be a problem if he skipped some meals. It wasn't native to Japan, so he'd certainly have to do some research on the species when he could. For multiple reasons, of course.

After getting Pachi his food, Nori sat down at the table and reached into his pocket. He retrieved a small laminated card with orange sides. His official's ID. It had some basic information along with his name and Personal Official's Number: Nori Carino, SPRT-01. This card was proof of his status as an official and a Pokemon Rehabilitator. The same ID could be displayed on his radio, for that matter.

"Something wrong, Nori?" his mom asked as she placed down their meal. Thick steam rose from both bowls. Worth waiting a minute or two for it to cool off.

"I'm just thinking," he mused, pocketing his ID and leaning against the comfortable cushioned seat. He reached for the hand sanitizer in the window. "I'm the first Pokemon Rehabilitator. The only one so far. I don't have any template to follow."

His mom put a finger on her lips. She always did so when thinking about something, snapping her fingers when she came to a conclusion. "Think of it this way. It also means you have nobody else to live up to."

"Yeah," Nori said, chuckling slightly as he rubbed the cleansing fluid into his palms. "I'd thought about that. But in another way, there's even more expectations upon me. Since I set the standard and define what one is."

"I suppose so. But I know you have what it takes to pull this off." She took a spoonful of the stew, blowing on it before putting it in her mouth.

Very true. Nori had faced far worse adversity at Sunyshore Gym. Truth be told, having come out the other side of that ordeal, the young official felt like he could take on any challenge life dared throw at him.

"Besides," Ayume added with a smirk. "Not many kids your age can say they're earning more money than their parents ever did!"

Nori laughed at the irony. "Hey, you're right! And maybe I can earn enough money to send you to university!"

Ayume looked up at the sunroof. "I never considered that. I suppose it's an option, if you're willing."

"Of course I am! You're my mom, ma!" He lightly bowed, as much as he could while sitting down. "With all you've done for me, I'd be happy to do something for you so you can live a little better!"

"Just remember, I wouldn't ask you for anything." Nori grinned, acknowledging that. It wasn't like she was demanding a portion of his money, just enough to help them get by. "But going back to your assignment. It's something you'll simply have to keep working at. Nobody changes overnight, person or Pokemon."

True, true. Like they said earlier, this was only the first day. As bleak as initial impressions were, it didn't mean things had to stay that way. It was a rough start, but he didn't get along with the Demon at first, either. He had plenty of time to get to know and help his first assignment. He just had to do things little by little.

##########​


Slice 3: Brand of Style

From his eighth year on, Nori would receive special condensed classes so he could better focus on his work. He would be in public education for the remainder of seventh year, through March 2016. He was initially looking forward to that, yet it had become a bittersweet prospect due to enjoying school life at Tobari Central Junior High. Some things hadn't changed. There were still many who found him difficult to approach, exacerbated by his newfound fame. But for once he had a group of friends who both liked and loved him. He had fans and acquaintances. His teachers were good and there was no one like a Tarou Daikoka (let alone a Kallisto Keravnos) around. The events earlier in the year didn't seem a factor in his status, be it due to his new outlook, people not caring or taking his side, or a combination of both.

After his morning class ended, Nori started off towards his clubroom. He always had an interest in the news, having joined the counterpart club back at his middle school in Sunyshore. It was also where he met his bestie, Arumi Schrader. Yet another famous friend of his. Nori had a lot of those, thinking about it. Then again, he now fit in with them.

Nori passed by the principal's office on the way, giving the receptionist a friendly wave. To the young official's chagrin, a tall ninth-year with thin-framed glasses was once again waiting to intercept him in the hallway beyond. He had platinum blond hair styled into two flat sheets behind him and yellow, feline-like eyes.

"All right, what do you want now, Chad?" he spat. He didn't even stop walking, passively bumping by him when the teenager in a white and brown jersey halfheartedly tried to block his way.

"I wanted to ask again if you'd consider joining the battling team, Nori," the captain of it replied with a strong, clear voice. He followed behind, gradually catching up to be in step.

Nori slowed, but did not stop. "This is the fourth time you've asked, and my answer's still the same."

"Nori, I am begging you," a little more humility in his tone. He passively tugged at his brown and white jacket, which had SHOSHA 36 etched on the back. "You've trained under a top Gym Leader and former Elite Four contender – some would say the superior candidate – Volkner Denzi. Moreover, you are familiar with Edward Hankstein – captain of one of the top junior school battling teams in the region."

"Yes, what's your point?" he cut in.

"My point is, you would be an invaluable asset to our team, even if you only came on in an advisory capacity."

Nori stopped in his tracks, putting his hands on his hips. "Are you parroting the coach again?" he asked, deciding to approach the argument differently.

Chad crossed his arms and shut his eyes. "I came of my own accord this time," came the reply. Nori wasn't sure if that was better or worse. "Tobari Junior has always come close, but we've never gone all the way. It's shameful for one of the oldest schools in all of Sinnoh. But I think we have a very good team this year. We might be able to make it with your help. Please, Nori." He lowered his head, pleading with eyes and hands.

"Okay, look," Nori begrudged. He was willing to compromise. "I'd be happy to give advice on the side if you need it, but I'm too busy and don't care enough to join officially. And if you bother me again, I won't give you even that."

Chad's jaw dropped. Nori felt a little bad about firmly shooting him down, but it was what had to be done. He started to walk off after five seconds of not getting a reply, only for Chad to grab at him.

"Do you have no school pride?!" he rapidly cried out. His jaw was clenched tightly, and his lips were pinched together.

Nori forcefully shoved Chad away and sent him stumbling into the wall, in spite of him being much bigger and taller. "I don't care about that, and hands off unless you wanna get hurt!"

"Your actions make no sense!" Chad argued, throwing an accusatory point. "You're letting all that talent and training go to waste, and I know for a fact that battle is something both of your Pokemon enjoy!"

Nori's mouth scrunched as he lowered his gaze. Three of his Pokemon, but that was besides the point. He hated competition. All those people trying to be the very best, with big dreams and not enough talent compared to the veterans or prodigies. But he especially hated that this stupid moron had a point he couldn't refute.

"Hey, cut Nori a break," came a familiar female voice. He turned around to see someone with ear-length beige hair and light brown eyes approaching, coming to stand beside him. She was wearing a white shirt with one shoulder-off, a pastel blue button-front skirt, and white sneakers. "You know he's the president of our club."

Chad snorted and waved a hand in her face. "Twenty thousand P says you only became that to use as an excuse."

The teenager frowned, biting her lip. Channeling her haughty side from her time as an activist, she fired back, "For your information, Chad." She flashed a smile at Nori. "We elected him because he's good at what he does."

Sick of the situation and not wanting to be held up for any longer, Nori decided it was time to stop dignifying it. "Let's just go, Yumi," he said as he started off.

"Yeah."

Even if Chad did have a point, he'd made up his mind. He would let his Pokemon battle on his own time. Besides, Nori wanted to diversify what he did. There was far more to life than Pokemon. He was already a Rehabilitator, so he didn't want to spend the rest of his free time on them.

With a contented sigh at getting away from the situation, he gave his fellow member of the club a happy grin, a bit of warmth reaching his cheeks. "Thanks for that."

"You're welcome, Nori," she replied, brushing some of her hair behind her head.

"Funny," he remarked, giggling a little. "We almost worked together last year, now we actually are."

"Sorry again," she said, nervously returning his giggle and smile.

"Hey, I told you, we're cool," he comforted. "You owned up to it, didn't you?"

"I know, but I still feel bad about how I treated you." She had been a member of Youths Against Mistaken Society. To Nori's knowledge, she and her twin brother left the group after the co-leaders went a little crazy.

"By the way, where's Touya these days? You two used to be inseparable."

"He's with his new girlfriend," she sighed, pressing a hand to her chest.

"Oh. That would do it." Nori ruffled his hair and shrugged. "Good for him, I guess. You spoken with the others since then?"

"No, we cut contact with those two completely." He didn't blame her. She sighed with a little regret. "And, well. Barely spoken with Nariya since she left, either."

It was somewhat ironic in retrospect. YAMS had given him a tough time when he was taming the Demon. When he met Yumi again, he was expecting the hostilities to renew despite their pleasant parting after he'd defeated Gasha Qian. It was a mild surprise to be on good terms with her and her brother, and never in a million years did he expect they'd become friends.

"Nori, one more thing."

"Yeah, what?" he snipped at Chad, whirling around and putting his right hand on his hip. Why was this guy still following him around?!

"Sorry, I almost forgot. There is one other reason I wanted to talk. Someone wants to challenge you."

"You mean like, to a battle? Is it you?"

The platinum blond shrugged. "Now that you mention it, that's not a bad idea." Nori slapped his forehead in frustration. Why did he have to open his mouth? "But no, from Anthony Morris. After school in the arena. Are you fine with that?"

Nori nodded. "Happy to, but not today. I'm going to be busy working with my first assignment." Chad blinked at the last part. The young official started back off before the battling team's captain could yak at him further.

"Do you know who that is?" Yumi inquired, strolling alongside.

"I think I met a Morris, but not an Anthony Morris." There was probably no relation, since that was back in Sunyshore, and if he remembered correctly, they actually idolized him. "It might just be somebody from the team who wants to fight for whatever reason."

"I guess we'll find out when you got time for him, huh?"

Nori smirked and tilted his head. "We? So I take it you want to come watch?"

Yumi laughed sheepishly. "I guess it'll be interesting to see how far the Demon has come. And you."

---​

The newsletter club met in a miniature computer lab next to the library on the second floor of the school. There were three desks besides those the eight machines were atop: a large square one, a smaller rectangular one, and a teacher's desk. There was also an office Nori had never been in at the back. Working with computers was something of a minor source of frustration to him. Although not as technologically inept as he had been, he still didn't share the same passion for them as his peers. At least he knew how to search for things and use a word processor, which was enough to contribute.

When Nori and Yumi stepped into the room, half of the other members were already present. He waved his arm in greeting and said, "Heeey!"

A short ninth-year with teal hair was hunched over one of the computers. He glanced over his shoulder, momentarily puzzled by the noise behind him, until noticing who it was. "Oh, hello." He took a sip from his water bottle.

A young male in baggy black clothing peeked up from behind a Sinnoh Times paper he was reading at the table. His chocolate brown eyes flitted between them. "I uh, er...didn't expect you to arrive...you know..."

"We just ran into each other at the halls, Terrance," Nori elaborated, getting his confusion was over him and Yumi walking in together. "Well, right after bumping into Chad."

The girl next to Terrance crossed her arms. She had wild orange hair and wore long jean shorts, with a blue jacket over a white tank top. Both seventh-years like him. "Remind me again why you didn't join the club?"

Nori chuckled. "I've told you as many times as I've told him, Reiko."

She slammed her palms on the table. "Ugh, I hate that they turned me down, and you just turn them down?!"

He flashed a smirk. "It means you can be a good trainer on your own, Reiko. You don't need to join a battling club or team for that."

"Stupid!" she snapped. "You know my parents won't let me go on a journey!"

Terrance raised his hand. It drew her attention, although it took him a few seconds to start speaking. "There's...more than one way...um...Reiko, you know..."

She sighed as his tongue became entangled. "I know, but I want to have something to work towards. I don't want to battle at a battle spot to battle or whatever."

"I understand. But I know you'll get your chance someday," he assured her. Reiko was really rough around the edges and even downright rude sometimes, but Nori knew enough to see through to the real her. "Like, all the guys at Sunyshore Gym couldn't or wouldn't travel right away."

"That's true, I guess," Reiko grumbled, shaking her head. It was preferable for some to journey while young, yet there were no shortage of adult or even elderly travelers. Nori wasn't sure what the deal was. "Oh yeah," she perked up, vaguely narrowing her green eyes. "Heard you got a new Pokemon, Carino."

Word of it must have spread around. Nori wasn't particularly surprised. He was sort of a famous person, and people did see him going into the elementary school.

"Yup, you won't believe what it is, either." He paused for dramatic effect before taking out the customized Poke Ball. When they stared blankly, he clarified, "The Blackout Killer's Pawniard."

Revealing the identity of his new Pokemon made just about everyone in the room gasp in horror. There was not a single one of them who hadn't heard of the infamous Pokemon thanks to Nori having them listen to the radio drama as a club activity.

The one exception was Mitsu, who was too heavily engrossed in his typing. "Want to write a report about it?" he passively asked without looking away from the screen. Yumi and Reiko both glanced over at him, as if to ask how he could be so calm.

"Not as a news writer," he said, pocketing the capsule. "That would be a conflict of interest. Plus it'd be scummy to write about one of our members without good reason."

The others seemed to agree, but that brought the subject back around to his Pokemon.

"The...Blackout Killer..." Terrance shuddered.

Nori jumped at sudden physical contact. He turned to see Yumi's hand on his shoulder. The teenager pursed her lips and lightly squeezed. "Nori, are you..." She briefly paused, collecting her thoughts before leaning in closer. "Are you sure about this? The Demon was one thing, but she never did anything like..."

"It'll be fine, Yumi. I know I can pull this off." He forced a wide smile, not wanting to worry anyone by saying Pachi nearly got stabbed in their first outing with the Pokemon. No one saw through it.

She let go, sighing. "Okay. But if you get in over your head, stop. You don't want to get into trouble if it..." Yumi clutched at herself, not wanting to finish that thought.

"It'll be fine, Yumi. I promise." He flashed a thumbs up. "I'm trained at quick and accurate recalling. Watch!"

At once, he reached into his pocket, whipped out a laser pointer, took half a second to line up his shot, and shined it on Mitsu's water bottle. He hit his mark perfectly!

The red dot reflecting off metallic green drew his attention. "Wha–!?" The technogeek lashed out reflexively, knocking it off the table. Thankfully, the lid was on tight. Nori couldn't help but laugh, which everyone else – Mitsu himself included – joined in on.

"You really have to pay attention to your surroundings, Chisaka," the orange-haired girl snorted, turning away dismissively. Reiko Azuma was very traditionalist, calling everyone she wasn't close with by last name – in other words, everyone but Terrance Lee.

Mitsu could only nervously chuckle as he retrieved the drinking container from the floor. "I guess so."

"That's good to know," Yumi's muscles untensed, just slightly. "Try not to have to end up having to do that, though."

"Naturally." If he could avoid those situations, all the better. He took off his bag and sat down at the large table with Reiko and Terrance. "But let's get to work."

"Okay," Yumi agreed, joining beside him. It was just five out of their eight members for the moment, but five was enough. The others were likely on the way, anyway.

"For now, let's start discussing possible stories to run," the young official said as he got out his lunch. "Anything come up over the weekend?"
 
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A nice chapter, all things considered. Nori's relationship with his mother is going well, and I do like that he explicitly doesn't mention to her that he took on the Pokemon owned by a serial killer. I wouldn't put it past him. Any mother would definitely oppose the idea of taking on a potentially violent Pokemon, even worse than the Demon. I am admittedly surprised Nori was let back into the journalism club. Or is the newsletter club different from the journalism club? It's been a while since I read the fic so I can't remember. I know his previous club flat-out rejected him after one too many fiascos with Kallisto. It's nice that former members of YAMS got to befriend Nori, especially that Yumi girl. Interested in seeing how that plays out. Not sure why a kid like Chad would be so concerned with school pride to the point of being angry at others about it. Most kids I grew up with didn't care about stuff like that. I know I didn't. But that's more of a me thing, though. Can't wait to see how the rest of this goes!
 
A nice chapter, all things considered. Nori's relationship with his mother is going well, and I do like that he explicitly doesn't mention to her that he took on the Pokemon owned by a serial killer. I wouldn't put it past him. Any mother would definitely oppose the idea of taking on a potentially violent Pokemon, even worse than the Demon.
Oh, he's not hiding it on purpose. She's going to find out one way or another. If he was, it'd be explicitly stated he was hiding it (like he did with not being upfront that Pawniard's first act as his trainer was to try to kill his Pokemon). But his mom certainly knows he's going to get really bad Pokemon. She knew what it'd be like going in, more than Nori ever did. She'll be a little concerned, yet still supportive.

I am admittedly surprised Nori was let back into the journalism club. Or is the newsletter club different from the journalism club? It's been a while since I read the fic so I can't remember. I know his previous club flat-out rejected him after one too many fiascos with Kallisto.
Different school, different club, It would be pretty weird if he somehow went to the same school in both Sunyshore and Veilstone. I mean not impossible, but it's not the case and dialogue (particularly about Eddie and implicitly in how it's different people in the club) reveals that's not the case. Also, it's implict his connection to Arumi is why they made him president.

It's nice that former members of YAMS got to befriend Nori, especially that Yumi girl. Interested in seeing how that plays out.
It is worth noting that Yumi, when protesting the Demon to Nori's face, expressed genuine concern for him. Then you have the whole thing where she and Touya were happy to acknowledge Nori's success and later left the group when it made Louis and Mariko snap. And don't feel bad about not remembering this. It was VERY vague, actually starting out as a hint of something that got cut, and now it's something that's supposed to make more sense in context.

Also heh heh heh

Not sure why a kid like Chad would be so concerned with school pride to the point of being angry at others about it. Most kids I grew up with didn't care about stuff like that. I know I didn't. But that's more of a me thing, though.
School pride is a real thing. I dunno how many took it serious, but I figure in Japan, it would be somewhat more prominent. Chad absolutely does. Naturally besides Nori being Nori, school never did anything to make him feel pride. Tobari is an exception, but...well, he's going to be tore away from it against his will in March.

Also, they're teenagers at this point. Chad specifically is 14 or 15. Not exactly a kid.
 
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Slice 4: Knives are Out
After school ended, Nori hopped on his skateboard and made his way to Gabbron Park, Pachi following right at his side. It was modest in comparison to the others, yet also his favorite simply for being closest to the trailer park. It had a playground, places to sit, and a field to run around in. He didn't need the sporting areas places like Asweil or Crescent Hills had. Nori had always been an outdoorsy type, and felt he'd still be one even if he had a huge mansion. He liked spending time at the park all throughout his childhood, and it was still a good place to relax and let his Pokemon out to enjoy themselves.

It was empty upon his arrival aside from a middle-aged couple in white clothing having a picnic on the grass with their Clefairy and Marill. It would very shortly be filling up with kids who were getting out of school, but it meant he had time to prepare in peace.

He sat down on a bench, put away his board, and took out his assignment's Poke Ball. Nori liked what that serial killer was going for – even they had tastes, he supposed. It sort of matched Pawniard's color scheme. With Pachi sitting beside him, albeit clinging to his side, he cast it down a few meters in front.

The black and red monster emerged. He glanced to his left, slowly sweeping his gaze to his right. He turned around, briefly leering at the picnickers, before pivoting to look back. Silently, the Pawniard lowered his gaze and narrowed his beady yellow eyes.

"So!" Nori declared, though keeping a grip on the capsule. "As you can see, I brought you to the park. Just to relax, you know? Or maybe you can get to know Pachi or the Demon." He gestured to the little squirrel, who nervously laughed. "I think your old trainer only used you to battle, but there's more to life than that."

The Pawniard's response was to growl in irritation. Right after, he started marching over to the couple and their Pokemon.

"Seriously!?" the young official screeched. He was on his feet and following right away, watching his assignment closely for any sudden movements. Unfortunately, he was a little too slow.

The bladed Pokemon suddenly lunged and bashed the back of his blade against the Clefairy's back, slapping it face-first into the dirt. Nori was on it at once, aiming the capsule's beam and recalling the Pokemon before he could do anything else.

The Marill first ran over to its friend, then turned to where Pawniard once was. When he saw nothing, he started huffing and puffing at Pachi. The couple, by contrast, first responded with confusion, followed by surprise upon catching sight of him.

"Sorry!" he beseeched the couple, lowering his head. "I am so, so sorry about this!"

"It's quite all right, Mr. Carino," the man replied, almost seeming to snicker a little. Nori wasn't sure whether to be relieved or even more worried about the competitive glint in the adult's eyes. "We're always up for a battle, even on a picnic." His girlfriend or wife nodded in agreement, also seeming to find the idea fun – to say nothing of their Pokemon. They were shaking their little arms and beckoning Pachi to bring it.

But no. The young official vigorously shook his head. "Sorry, I can't. I mean I can, but I shouldn't. In good conscience, I mean!"

"It's all right, we packed berries and potions, just to be sure," the woman reassured him. "As they say, you're better off safe than sorry."

"You don't understand!" the young official protested, waving the black and red ball in a frenzy. "This Pawniard might try to kill your Pokemon! I can't just have him battle anyone!"

The couple's eyebrows went up in unison. "You brought a dangerous Pokemon to the park?" the man inquired in a low tone.

"I was trying to teach him to relax and enjoy things besides fighting, okay?!" he frantically shouted, in a desperate bid to convince them he was not some crazy irresponsible kid. "Besides, I'm trained to recall him fast if he causes trouble, like I did just now!"

The two exchanged glances. Nori studied them carefully as they leaned in close and whispered. Although he could not make out what they were saying over the breeze, he did notice their shoulders relaxing.

Finally, the man nodded. "Well, you're the professional, here. We understand."

The boy could only exhale in relief at how easily that situation diffused itself. But he wasn't a professional. At least, he didn't consider himself to be one. If he was, he'd already know exactly what he needed to do instead of just winging it. But as long as they thought that, things were fine.

"NORIIIII CARINOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

At the sound of his name being screamed, Nori whirled around. He saw some kids coming into the park, but none of them appeared to have called for him. He peered around warily, wondering who it was.

"Up there!" the woman gestured, pointing to the skies above.

"Is it a bird?" someone joked, only to actually look and say, "Wait, that actually is a Skarmory, huh."

---​
Slice 4:.,.,.,.,.,.,.,Knives are Out


Nori tilted his head to see something large and gray passing above, glimmering in the autumn sun. A person was riding atop, who pulled back on its neck and leaned down. The bird summarily encircled the park before it came swooping to the ground. The rider dismounted as his Pokemon touched down. He was a teenager with a bright blue bandana wrapped around his dark hair. The black jeans looked expensive. Nori's lip curled, and his eyes narrowed at the shirt he was wearing.

"Hello, do I know you?" he carefully inquired. It was rhetorical. Yet from the stylistic portrait of Kallisto Keravnos engraved on the dark orange and pink shirt, he had a feeling this person knew him very well.

"I am Anthony Kerrion Morris!" he bellowed as he performed an exaggerated finger point. "I have a bone to pick with you!"

"But we've never met?" he asked. Standing before him was the guy who wanted a battle at school, he could tell that much. He had a good guess as to what the answer was going to be, only wanting to make sure of it.

"Oh, but I am very familiar with you, bad sir, for your actions in Sunyshore City! For what you did to Kallisto, you shall pay!"

"Okay, stop." This was not the first Kallisto sympathizer he'd encountered, and that first one was already more than he cared to deal with. "Me and Arumi proved–"

"Irrelevant!" Anthony cut in. "For it revealed your true personality nonetheless!"

Nori grit his teeth and rolled his shoulders, swallowing the insult he'd wanted to immediately throw back. He was thankful most people were either uncertain or neutral about what happened in early July. Yet it wasn't uncommon to see those whose faith in Kallisto wasn't shaken or were hopeful he could move beyond what had happened. Then you had kooks like these who thought he put out fake news, or did worse.

"Now, a question. Did word of my challenge reach your ears in the hallway today?"

"It did, but–"

"Very good! Now," Anthony declared, melodramatically raising a finger. He stared right at him and flashed a wide grin. "As we are here. It is an unwritten rule that when trainers' eyes meet out in the wilderness, they must do battle!"

At that last word, Pachi curiously stepped forth, eying his possible future opponent. The metal bird bent down and screeched horribly, right in Pachi's face. The little squirrel (and many others) cringed at the ear-splitting sound.

"Okay, so first?" Nori snipped. He tapped a foot and put his hands on his hips. Pachi tried mimicking his pose, finding it difficult to do so with stubby arms. "We're not in the wilderness. This park isn't even–"

"What is a park but government-handled urban wilderness?!" Anthony cut in.

"Second, that is completely stupid, not to mention dangerous if someone's entire team gets defeated and–"

"That is irrelevant, for any trainer would carry medicine–"

"And third!" Nori snapped, interrupting him this time. He hoped his last point would make the guy shut up. He let it hang in the air for a moment before saying, "What about blind people or those who don't like making eye contact?"

To punctuate it, he turned his back on the guy. His would-be challenger was left sputtering for several seconds before he went quiet altogether. He could hear a bunch of snickering and even outright laughter from the onlookers.

"Also lastly," Nori figured to add as he started to walk off, not bothering to turn around. "I think you made that–"

"Irrelevant! And irregardless," he loudly declared, running out in front and getting directly in the young official's face. "My challenge towards you stands! Battle me, right here, right now!"

"This park doesn't even have battlefields–"

"Then come face me where we can!"

"Seriously, take a hint and screw off!" he yelled, lightly pushing him aside. "Pachi, let's just go. This stupid moron's not going to get it ever." The squirrel chirruped and followed in step as they made to leave the park. So much for any relaxation.

"Come back here you coward!"

Nori stopped in his tracks, taking a deep breath. There was a point in time when that would've gotten him to immediately accept the challenge. But now? He'd grown beyond that.

"I'm not saying I refuse." He pivoted around and put a hand on his hip, chuckling lowly. "I'm saying I'm busy. I was working before you showed up and demanded a battle out of nowhere!"

Anthony took several steps forward until he was once more up in the young official's face. "Then shall Friday afternoon work as a scheduled time for your reckoning?"

"Sure, why not?" Nori threw up his arms. He would accept because he wanted to, not because someone else wanted him to. He added for clarification, "Tentatively, unless my rehabilitating makes me reschedule."

Anthony grinned and rubbed his hands together. "Very good. It shall be set in our middle school arena, a setting most public for your humiliation!" The metal bird cackled by his side.

Nori couldn't believe this guy. "Just remember, it's just as public for you, too," he reminded his future opponent. Part of him also wondered if it was partially an excuse for the junior battling team to see him in action, although he didn't mind giving a demonstration.

"I will not lose to you! For I have been studying your technique!" Anthony boldly declared. "You will be flattened beneath my superior counter-stratagems, inspired by my idol!"

Nori bit his lip, but on the inside, he couldn't help but laugh. Was he outright giving away his plan? He seemed too brash to be lying about it. This was going to be easier than he thought...

"I shall take my leave now. Farewell until then!" With this, Anthony mercifully hopped back on his Skarmory and flew away.

Pachi watched them the whole time until they were out of sight. Sparks leaped from his cheeks. "Can't wait, huh?" he asked, getting a grin in reply. It had been a while since Pachi or the Demon had been able to have a serious battle. And this kook had given them every reason to look forward to it.

The onlookers started to gather around them. "Wow!" a young boy exclaimed, jumping like a Spoink. "So what's your plan, Mr. Nori?"

The young official could only smile. "Just win."

"Want us to help you train?" the picnicking man offered.

He shook his head. "Thanks, but no thanks." He had his own way of getting ready. With a whistle to Pachi, he started off to do just that.

##########​

When Nori entered the clubroom on Tuesday during lunch hour, he was quickly set upon by Reiko.

"Hey, Carino," she said, twirling a finger. "Heard you had a little incident at Gabbron Park yesterday."

"Pawniard?" Maybe that almost-attack would've gotten reported by someone. He set the record straight. "I recalled him before he hurt those Pokemon. The owners even wanted to battle me, but I had to turn them down."

Yumi's hands flew to her mouth. She was in casual slacks and a bright pink shirt today. "Wait, something happened with Pawniard too?!" She ran right over to him as the shock wore off.

Nori ruffled his hair as what they were really talking about clicked. "Oh, I guess it would make sense if you were talking about that guy. But I had that under control, too."

The teenager with light brown hair nearly grabbed at him. She squinted tight. "Nori. What happens if you can't stop Pawniard?" she squeaked. "What if you're too late, and it badly hurts or kills someone?!"

"I..." He trailed off. "Well."

Yumi turned away, her quivering legs almost causing her to collapse to the floor. "I knew it."

"Well, I can't just refuse!" he said, running around to the other side of her. "It's my job! And if I can't do anything, who will?"

Yumi stumbled over to the nearest chair, sitting down at the smaller table. "I know..." she sighed.

"Takao, I think you're overreacting. Just leave this to the expert here." Although she furrowed her brow and tilted her lips down as usual, Reiko nodded at him. "If anyone can pull this off, it's him."

It picked up Yumi's mood, just a little. Not to mention Nori's own. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Reiko." He wasn't expecting that out of her.

"Yeah, yeah." She brushed it off. "Just stating facts, here."

Terrance peered up. "But what about Anthony?"

"What about him?"

"Sh-shouldn't you be getting ready?"

Reiko agreed. "Yeah, he's on the battling team. You better not take them lightly, even if you've beaten Gym Trainers!"

"I know, I know that!" he replied, putting his hands on his hips. "I am getting ready! I'm gonna go train this afternoon!" He wanted to see Pawniard in action anyway, so that would let him defeat two birds with one rock.

"What about your strategy?" the orange-haired girl countered.

"Hey, guys!"

At that moment, two ninth-year girls walked through the door. Adelle Richards had curled blonde hair and was wearing her black hoodie up indoors. Yasmin Paramar had tanned skin and black hair in a short ponytail, dressed in a school uniform. While not mandatory at Tobari Junior, some did choose to wear the brown and white attire regardless.

"Man, you couldn't have timed that better!" he snickered at the entrance of the club's two field reporters.

"Timed what now?" Adelle asked.

"Never mind. So did you get the info?" He'd managed to catch them before school started to ask them to help. As his mentor had taught him, every battle started with knowing your opponent. He was never big on complex planning or crazy technique like some trainers were, but it didn't mean he couldn't prepare. In this instance, finding out what he was up against.

The blonde teenager nodded. "We interviewed some people about Anthony, yes."

"Huh, didn't actually think you'd work that fast. Well then, my part in the club is over until the battle's over." This was certainly going to make school news, and it wouldn't do good to have a conflict of interest. "But before that, what did you find out about him?"

Adelle put down her bag and retrieved her notebook, reciting what she had written. "Anthony Morris is ranked number three on the battling team, behind Emi Pikaru and Chad Shosha. No one was really sure how to answer how he battles."

"Strategy all over the place, then? He claimed to be inspired by Kallisto. It sounds like he's not really getting it." It didn't come as a surprise given he was hard to imitate. Kallisto was something else. He wasn't considered one of the best trainers in the country for nothing.

"His ace is his Quagsire," Yasmin continued. She spoke in a thick accent. Nori could never remember the name of the Indian region it came from. "Other Pokemon of his include Skarmory, Carnivine, and Hitmontop. He is also training a Manectric. It may not yet be ready for serious competition."

So in other words, he was probably not going to see that. "Thanks, guys. Only question now is, what kind of battle he'll want? One on one? Two on two? Doubles?" He put a finger on his lip. "Guess I better prepare for all those possibilities."

"What if he wants three?"

Everyone turned to look at Terrance, then to Nori. The ninth-year duo stared blankly. Yumi froze up, almost begging him to reconsider with her eyes. Even Mitsu stopped typing and stood up to look around the computer.

"Yeah, what if he was waiting until you had three Pokemon?" Reiko asked, tapping her foot.

They had a point. One that made far too much sense. Why would he wait until now instead of challenging him as soon as possible? Plus, three on threes were standard. Nori took a deep breath before answering his clubmates.

"Hopefully he doesn't insist on that. But one more thing," he spoke, eager to change the subject to something more pressing. Something had occurred to him. "Does the Quagsire know, like, Surf or Muddy Water or anything?"

Adelle and Yasmin glanced at each other. "We did not ask about any moves," the latter replied.

Great. He was definitely seeing the ace, so he needed to know. "Reiko? Have you seen him battle?"

"How should I know, I've never bothered with them!" she snapped, slamming a hand on the table, which startled Terrance. "Why's this a problem?"

"Just wondering...for strategy, you know?" That was a lie.

"Well, not like they're uncommon," grumbled Reiko, drumming her fingers along the desk. "You should be ready for them just in case."

Nori covered his mouth, obfuscating his worried groan. She was right. And even if it didn't, there was still going to be something. He would just have to...well. He wasn't sure.

---​

"Just one more hit should do," Nori calmly stated, gesturing to his Pokemon to finish it as he pleased.

Pachi responded in kind by twitching his tail. He did a fancy backflip, batting an Electro Ball directly at their hapless foe. The wild Roselia got knocked two meters away by the force of the impact. It weakly waved its red petals in surrender.

"That's it, I guess," said the young official, adjusting his jacket. The little squirrel slumping said it all, that wasn't very challenging.

They were out in the wilderness of Route 214, as he planned. He'd started off with some battling practice for Pachi and the Demon against any wilds who wanted to accept their challenge. Soon, but not yet, it would be Pawniard's turn. It would be better if he hurt the Pokemon out here than someone's beloved partner. Still not great, but more tolerable.

Pachi abruptly took off running. Nori put a hand in his pocket on instinct, watching as his Pokemon scrambled up a tree. The squirrel plucked an Oran Berry from the branches and threw it down to his opponent. The young official smirked in amusement as the plant devoured the blue tree fruit in a single bite. It nodded its thanks, getting enough energy from that to limp away.

"Could you warn me next time?" he asked, putting his hands behind his back. For a second, he thought Pachi was moving to attack a pissed-off Pokemon or something.

The reply was a big show of teeth and wagging his tail so hard it could serve as an attack. Nori could only chuckle.

That was Pachi's second victory, the first being against a Rhyhorn. Nori had been making a point to choose whichever Pokemon had a type disadvantage in order to push them; for a similar reason, the Demon dueled with a Girafarig and Golduck, overwhelming them with her strength and intensity. She avoided or powered through their Psychic type moves respectively.

"I think it's time we go further!" the young official said with a hop and clap of his hands. When Pachi didn't seem to understand what he was getting at, he elaborated with a double fist-pump. "Into the woods!"

Beyond the beaten path of routes and roads lay a zone of mystery. The Pokemon that lived within these deeper parts of the wilderness were stronger than the ones wandering out more in the open. Of course, they were also far more territorial as well. Despite the danger, it felt like a perfect place to go. The opponents would be far more powerful, it would be good practice to battle in closer quarters, and his assignment would be at less risk of hurting others given their toughness.

The young official marched through the thicket. It was getting into autumn in Sinnoh; many of the leaves were painted reds and yellows, mingling with the evergreens. A light layer of fallen foliage covered the forest floor. Nori stepped carefully to avoid tripping over any hidden roots.

He briefly glanced back to see Pachi was only barely keeping up, wearing a frown on his face as he kept alert. Nori slowed, thinking maybe he was getting a little more excited about the escapade than he should have. His adventurous side was speaking too loudly, he supposed. He walked backwards so that he was closer in step with his Pokemon.

The young official could hear birds and critters all around, although the only thing that jumped out at them were flies. He didn't stray far from the treeline, not wanting to go too deep in. Or to get turned around and lost.

After about five minutes of being in the deeper woods, he heard a low yowling sound. It sounded distressed. An injured Pokemon, perhaps?

"Can you find what that is?" he asked, glancing at Pachi.

Hesitantly, the squirrel nodded. He crept to the right, approaching what looked like a very small clearing, maybe five meters in diameter at most. Pachi cautiously peeked inside.

Only to fall back, wobbly. Nori flinched, reaching for his Pokemon's ball. Whatever was in there did something mind-affecting. He brought Pachi back and had barely reached for another Poke Ball before a red creature emerged.

Four legs, curly hair tuft, five or six tails, purple eyes. Purple? Nori blinked. It was like his head was spinning for a second, but he couldn't let weird things distract him!

"HEY!!" he screamed at it, feeling a sudden pang of anger. He threw down the capsule he had grabbed, and Pawniard emerged. "Come on!"

The little orange-red creature emitted a panicked yelp. With his bearings gathered, Nori noticed it was a Vulpix! Those were uncommon sights in Sinnoh. Groups of them only popped out in the open under special circumstances, whatever they were. But he could think about that stuff later, it was time to fight!

Pawniard snickered lowly at sight of his opponent. Whatever he said or did must have been an informal taunt, because the fox's response was to angrily spit Embers at him. In the forest.

Nori gasped at the wild Pokemon's recklessness, especially as his own evaded and kicked the fox into the clearing. To his relief, the sparks of flame didn't ignite the tree they struck. He hurried in to keep an eye on the action.

He poked in just in time to see the Vulpix spew another cloud of Embers at Pawniard. These struck true, probably for the best since they would've hit dried leaves otherwise, but Pawniard was unabated and got his claws readied.

"Okay, Night Slash." he said. Best to end things as soon as possible before the stupid thing set the forest on fire. To his relief, the bladed Pokemon was all too happy to oblige. To his chagrin, Pawniard swiped at the eyes.

Temporarily blinded, the dazed Vulpix fell back. Its nose was sniffing wildly in attempt to make out their relative location. Pawniard grinned wickedly.

"Uh, Slash?" Nori asked. Pawniard calmly walked out directly in front. The Vulpix reacted and slammed into him. Barely feeling it due to his Steel typing, he carried out the order by sinking a claw into their foe's side.

The Vulpix yowled again, except this time, it wasn't faked. Nori winced, gripping Pawniard's ball tight. If that was a cry for help, he had to finish this fast.

"End it with Iron Head." To his relief, there was nothing cruel or sadistic about it. Pawniard simply smashed his hard head against the Vulpix's temple, completing the Slash in the same motion. It fell back, a noticeable and open wound in its side.

Nori approached at once. When he saw his assignment start to raise a claw to finish the job, he nearly slammed the ball into his face and recalled him point-blank. He gave the wound a quick once over. It didn't seem too deep, thankfully. He considered reaching for a Potion just to be sure, when he heard movement from nearby.

Deciding not to risk sticking around for whatever was coming, he pocketed Pawniard, took out the Demon's Poke Ball just in case, and ran out of the thicket.

---​

The evening air nipped at Nori's body even through his warm clothing. The clouds above were as cold and gray as steel, hiding the setting sun from view. They shed no tears, although the young official was trying to fight off a few of his own.

He didn't get it. Sure, the Demon was excessively violent when he first met her, but she nonetheless only did so when it was time for a battle. The only good thing was gleaning Pawniard would listen to him, but it was all too clear the former blade of the Blackout Killer actually enjoyed hurting others.

Nori's legs started to feel stiff. He was uncertain if it was from all the running or the stress affecting him physically, but did not want to risk a fall. So he got off his skateboard, disassembled it, and placed both halves into his bag.

A question came to mind as he started walking. Was he trained to be that way, or was it in his nature? And if it was in Pawniard's nature, how in the world was he going to deal with it? That didn't work for that cop! Nori wouldn't blame Pawniard either. He hated when others told him how to behave. The Demon even all but confirmed that a big part of why she accepted him was because he let her be herself. So what could he do?

As he dragged through the streets, he soon spotted the old Magcargo Express building on his right. It was here that he met Prema for the first time. If he hadn't done so, he never would've become a Pokemon Rehabilitator. It was her assessment that helped convince him the Demon was worth fighting for, no matter how bleak things appeared. Maybe Mrs. Kurusu was right. Maybe he really did need his friend's advice. She didn't give an assessment upon seeing him for the first time, but maybe she needed time to think about it?

Something caught his attention, making him do a double take. The lights inside the warehouse were on. That was right, the place was undergoing renovations to become something new. He wasn't sure what it was going to be, but his curiosity was urging him to take a peek inside.

Acting on his whims, the boy strolled over to one of the windows. He almost leaped through on instinct to help upon seeing the sight inside: the workers and their Pokemon were strewn out on the floor.

#########
========
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This last scene leads into the plot of Prema Kannagi: Memory of a Ghoul. Look forward to its first chapter soon! This fic is continuing on of course, since the two are concurrent.
 
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Sorry for not getting here more promptly but it's been a very bad year and I go through periods where I can't get as much done.

Just a note in the interests of honesty; recently some very serious crimes occurred in my country and although I'm going to do my best to analyze this story on it's own writing I'd be lying if I said these events have no chance of my influencing my thoughts due to them being somewhat related to Nori's job here.

*
Anyways, nice to see Nori understands writing a story about himself is questionable and that the club backs him on it. I suppose it could be argued a blood-crazed Pawniard being on the loose is important news but that's probably more for a city newspaper than a school club (and I don't know if that sort of thing is allowed to be published in Sinnoh?).

Unsurprisingly, Kallisto's legacy continues to be a pain as plenty of people will decide it was all Nori's fault.

He tapped a foot and put his hands on his hips. Pachi tried mimicking his pose, finding it difficult to do so with stubby arms.
Pachi ♥

Nori is super confident and I suspect Anthony is, in fact, not the pushover he's suspecting.

Yep, he's third ranked battler in the club. Of course there is another way this battle will can go very wrong other than Nori losing, as the whole "wait what if he wants three on three" discussion highlights.


I thought the Vulpix was gonna die there. I still think something's going to, even after Nori's quickdraw training, but I might be pleasantly surprised.
That includes the non-zero chance someone decides it isn't working and Pawniard gets the Old Yeller treatment

And that's an ominous ending, but it seems we'll see where that goes in Memory of a Ghoul.
 
Sorry for not getting here more promptly but it's been a very bad year and I go through periods where I can't get as much done.

Just a note in the interests of honesty; recently some very serious crimes occurred in my country and although I'm going to do my best to analyze this story on it's own writing I'd be lying if I said these events have no chance of my influencing my thoughts due to them being somewhat related to Nori's job here.
Oof, sorry to hear. But, real life sometimes happens. Hey, it'll give you a unique perspective in one regard!

Anyways, nice to see Nori understands writing a story about himself is questionable and that the club backs him on it. I suppose it could be argued a blood-crazed Pawniard being on the loose is important news but that's probably more for a city newspaper than a school club (and I don't know if that sort of thing is allowed to be published in Sinnoh?).
Well for the last point, it's like the Schraders say, you can't stop the press. That said, they probably wouldn't unless something happens to make it news. Nori is taking cues from Arumi in that he recognizes that city and world news are important in a school newspaper, he just doesn't want them writing about him.

Unsurprisingly, Kallisto's legacy continues to be a pain as plenty of people will decide it was all Nori's fault.
On this, I decided it was still going to cause problems after the fact, because well, you don't just walk away from something like that. But I downtoned it so it's not a constant factor. It wasn't in the original concepts. As a side-effect, Nori became much more publicly recognized, which I'm having a bit of fun with too if it's apparent. ;)

Pachi ♥
Still is an adorable little squirrel

Nori is super confident and I suspect Anthony is, in fact, not the pushover he's suspecting.

Yep, he's third ranked battler in the club. Of course there is another way this battle will can go very wrong other than Nori losing, as the whole "wait what if he wants three on three" discussion highlights.
It should also be interesting to note he's expressing this confidence in the first place. It's showing a new side of him, in that regard.

I thought the Vulpix was gonna die there. I still think something's going to, even after Nori's quickdraw training, but I might be pleasantly surprised.
That includes the non-zero chance someone decides it isn't working and Pawniard gets the Old Yeller treatment
Heh heh heh...

And that's an ominous ending, but it seems we'll see where that goes in Memory of a Ghoul.
Indeed. Look forward to it soonish, hopefully.
 
Sorry I couldn't get around to reading this sooner. Work's been killing me this week and I've had a bunch of headaches, too. But this is another good chapter you have here. I laughed whenever Nori tried to refute all of Anthony's claims, and he actually makes a good point about whether eye contact means insta-battle should apply to people who are blind or those who hate eye contact. I know I'd be the latter, being autistic and all. I also love the punchline about someone asking if it's a bird...and realizing Skarmory is technically a bird. Nice spin on an old joke there. It's nice to see Nori training his Pokemon and actually trying to get a handle on Pawniard. I am kinda surprised the old couple was very understanding of Nori hanging around with a murderous Pawniard, especially since it tried to go after them without provocation. Also, I know Nori mentioned his reasons for not catching more Pokemon in Official-In-Training, but considering Anthony's lineup of Pokemon, he really ought to consider catching more Pokemon. Pachirisu knows Grass Knot, which could help against Anthony's Quagsire, but type advantage moves aren't always the be-all end-all solution to everything. Anyway, I'll read your newest Prema story over the weekend, once I have some time on my hands. Great job!
 
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