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MATURE: Nori Carino: Official In-Training

Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Young Nori Carino is an official in-training, set to become the world's first Pokemon Rehabilitator, to help troubled Pokemon reform. He has moved to Sunyshore City to study under its Gym Leader, but finds trouble in balancing education with training, the Gym Leader's apathy, the expectations upon him, and harassment from various sources. Will he cope, or will he crack?

The third in a metaseries. I'm posting this ahead of schedule compared to my usual "post it when it's completely done", but felt like getting in motion right now.

Expect quite a bit of nasty stuff here, except that kind of nasty stuff. Violence with minor blood (though no gore), swearing including the odd slur, allusions to underage drinking, and abuse implied and shown.

Table of Contents
The Last December at Home (Below)
January of Meetings: First part / Second part / Third part
February of Progression: First part / Second part / Third part / Fourth part / Fifth part / Sixth part
March of Flux: First part / Second part / Third part / Gaiden / Fourth part / Fifth part / Sixth part / Seventh part
April of Change:
May ?????????
June ?????????
Last edited:
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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???????? ??

A group of young males had gathered at Sunyshore City's highest point. They were trespassing on the solar panels that led to the observatory on the highest cliffs. While the city was famous for this source of electricity which doubled as pedestrian transport, some were closed to the general public for being linked to private property, or in this case, safety.

They had brought a cooler up, which had several cans of soda, beer, and a walkie-talkie atop it. Nori Carino glanced at the four others, who all watching with mixed expressions. Some hostile, with at least one greatly worried. It was as though he was urging him not to do this.

A dark-skinned teenager in a white and gold shirt with black trousers walked up and stood beside him. He held a red skateboard plastered with skull decals. "You'd better be ready for this, kid. You know the rules, right?"

He looked down at his feet, one of which was propped on his own board. He slowly nodded. First across the finish line at the bottom, he knew that. A girl was down there serving as the judge. This didn't mean he liked this, however. He hated it. He didn't want to go through with it, but that guy had practically forced him.

This was way too dangerous and they didn't seem to care, or if so weren't speaking up. People weren't allowed on here for good reason - these panels were known to be slippery at times, and it was very steep. And because it wasn't intended to be used by people, the guardrails were inadequate. They were knee high and relatively thin, compared to the usual ones being just a bit shorter than the average person. Just enough so you couldn't step off by mistake, but going down on a skateboard...

"You ready?" asked the teenager.

He wasn't, but they wouldn't care. The boy gazed down the huge slope, wondering how it had come to this.


The Last December At Home
December 28th, 2014

The Veilstone City trailer park was located on the east end. It was divided into six segments where trailers were scattered about: the center, back center, and the four corners. Large outlets scattered about allowed for the vehicles to receive power, for a fee.

Nori Carino was standing just outside his mom's trailer, located in the central area. He was dressed in a light gray jacket with a worn shirt beneath it, simple blue jeans, and black boots. The winter air clawed at his skin, but anyone from Sinnoh was used to it. He wore a black backpack, which contained his clothes and school supplies. He also had a small black and yellow bag at his feet, which had everything else that didn't fit. His Pokemon was tucked away in his pocket. With him were his mother Ayume, his friend and neighbor Rashid al-Bahar, and his friend Maylene Gavali.

He thought back to how this all began in August. He had been returning home with someone he'd just met - Prema Kannagi, a girl who was just visiting Veilstone - when a notorious Pokemon known as the Demon took refuge under his home. He spoke up for the Nidorina in the face of a platoon of police, and unwittingly made a bet with the city's Gym Leader that he could reform it. Doing so and actually defeating her in the battle that followed a week later led to the Officials offering him a position. He accepted at his mom's urging, and the day had come where he would be setting off. He was going to learn from a top official to become the world's first Pokemon Rehabilitator.

"I can't believe you're going..." Maylene droned. She was three years younger than him, friends in spite of the age difference. The pink-haired girl was wearing a long blue and white scarf with a striped pattern, a fluffy white coat, dark blue pants, and simple sneakers. Nori was impressed she walked all the way through the snow to see him off.

"Me neither." He'd known Maylene for over two years now. She was like the younger sister he never had, and vice-versa.

"He will be all right. Won't you, Norcar?" Rashid said, somehow not cold in just a white shirt and jeans. There was also a major age difference between him and his other friend. Rashid was seventeen to Nori's twelve. The boy considered him quirky. Especially when it came to girls in magazines. Despite that, Rashid was the closest thing Nori had to having someone else to look up to besides his mom. Though not like an older brother at all.

To the question, Nori remained silent. He wasn't sure about that. The painful reality was he was going to have to say goodbye to everyone he knew here. Even if it was just for a while, even if he made new friends where he was going, that was going to hurt.

His mom smiled at him in reassurance. She was in a long purple winter jacket that went all the way to her ankles. Nori had never met his dad, though imagined some of his looks came from him. All he got from his mom was his soft skin (or so she said) and how his hair grew the same way as hers. Hers was a full black to his chestnut however, and her eyes a deep brown to his soft dark red. "I know you're going to do well, Nori. You're like me when you put your mind to things. It shows in your report cards."

Rashid nodded. "Yes, you are one who gets bent for leather when you are wanting to."

"It's not grades I'm worried about." Despite what some might believe given his occasional rebellious attitude, Nori was actually a good student. By no means top honors, but just behind. What they said about his diligence was very true. His experience with the Demon proved that. Still, he couldn't have done that by himself. He needed to lean on his mom's and Prema's support. "What I'm worried about is not having you guys around anymore. And, you not having me."

"It is fine. I will not be seeing you, but I know you will be out there, learning how to be working." The tan-skinned teenager smiled goofily and nodded. "We will be cheering you on from far. Knowing you are becoming a man is worth it all to us."

His mom agreed, "You're growing up Nori, and so fast too."

"That helps a bit, but..." He looked to Maylene, whose slumped posture gave away her disdain. Just as he was worried, this was going to be difficult for her. "Maylene?"

The pink-haired girl snapped to attention. "I'm fine," she said, blatantly faking a brave face. "You'll be back eventually, right?"

"Yeah..." This was the hardest part. He was Maylene's only friend. As far as Nori saw it, this was like abandoning her. That was something he hated the very thought of doing. The one thing that eased his mind was that Maylene eventually understood and accepted it. But no matter what the future held, the road getting there was going to be difficult.

He looked back to the others, immediately spotting the tears in his mom's eyes. "What's wrong, ma?" he asked. Calling her that was a habit. "I know, you're sad I'm leaving."

"Yes," she did not deny. "A mother hates to see her child go. But, I'm also happy for you, Nori. I used to worry about your future before, but..." Wiping her tears, she stood firm. "I'm glad you're doing this."

Nori still didn't completely understand why his mom wanted him to do this. The gist of what he did know is that she wanted him to have a better life than she was able to give him. She mentioned something about possibly not being able to afford things anymore, but didn't get how that could be the case.

"But," he said. He wanted to make this clear. "I am going to miss you all. I don't even know how long this is going to be, so..." The papers he signed said he was going to be studying under one of the top trainers in the region ‘until such time that [his] expertise with Pokemon is deemed sufficient’. And with his near total lack of experience, how long that would be was up in the air. It might be a couple months. It might be several years. It all depended how well he did, and how much they expected from him. "...well. I'll try to write you when I can. If I can."

He sighed and looked up. His mom and Rashid smiled, giving him separate nods as if to say it was okay. That made him feel just a bit better about this. Which left one other person, who took the initiative herself.

"Um, Nori?" Maylene shuffled towards him. She twirled one of her pigtails.


Without a warning, Maylene leaned forward and pressed her lips against his for a brief moment. The young girl held her mouth in disbelief at herself. She giggled. "Bye!" With this, she ran off.

Nori was left frozen, and not because of the cold. In fact, he felt his cheeks were about to burn right up.

"Haha!" Rashid gave him a hearty clap on the back. "Congratulations on the girl, Norcar."

That snapped him out of his stupor, but Nori continued to stare blankly. He knew Maylene had kind of a childish crush on him. He didn't do anything, since it'd be really weird given he was twelve and she was nine. Still, he wasn't expecting her to do that! Especially now!

"Well I, uh...should get going soon myself. My bus leaves soon, and...you know..." This was too flustering. She kissed him right in front of his mom and his neighbor and who knows who else saw that! He felt so, so red in the face right now.

His mom patted him on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it too much for now, Nori."

"Yeah..." Not that he could do anything about it right now. Things were going to be really awkward when he saw her again. He gave his mom a hug and slapped hands with Rashid before picking up his carry bag and heading out.

Nori took one last look at the trailer park, and the vehicle he lived in. He wouldn't see it again for a long time. It had been his home since he could remember, and the longest he'd ever been away from it was a week. That was when his mom won a cruise that she hauled him along on.

The boy paused in his tracks.

Bad memories came flooding into his mind. He shuddered. That was the only time he had been far out of Veilstone before this, and he really wished he hadn't. Nori managed to suppress these thoughts, and continued on his way to the bus depot.


December 29th, 2014

Nori made it to the NR Bus station without incident. The Officials had sent him a ticket for the 4:00pm. Everything went smoothly, aside from witnessing some towering woman flipping out over a form she filled being declared invalid. It seemed to be a minor issue. He heard the shrinking receptionist nervously say something about not capitalizing Gloom - as in, the Pokemon. The woman screamed it was an outrage, a waste of time, and threatened she knew a land development person. The only thing stopping the boy from yelling at her was that it happened shortly before boarding time, and that a security guard appeared to be headed to remove her anyway.

The ride went smoothly. Despite the snow-covered roads and even a brief blizzard, the bus kept rolling on. Nori marveled at the sights of Sinnoh's wilderness during the ride, even as the sun had set and others were falling asleep around him. He wondered, is this the kind of thing that traveling trainers get to see regularly? It almost felt like it'd be worth it.

Once the bus arrived at the depot, a cab was waiting to take him the rest of the way. That drive felt as if they had to go from one end of the city to the other. There was little traffic because of how late it was, so it didn't take as long as it could've. It was just past midnight by the time he finally arrived.

He was dropped off before a large two-floored square building with a domed roof. A series of solar panels encircled the silver and red structure, although it was hooked up to the power lines. Though the neon sign over the front door was off, Nori could still see that it read Sunyshore City Gym.

A strawberry blond man with a short mop of hair was leaning against a streetpost in front of the building. He was in an orange blazer over a thick white sweater, with dark brown work pants and black gloves. He looked up, equal parts relief and irritation in his blue eyes.

"Hi, I'm Nori Carino," the boy introduced himself. "I was told to come here. Are you, um, the Gym Leader?"

The man scratched his cheek. He took five seconds to reply. "Volkner Denzi."

"Nice to meet you!"

Nori extended his hand for a shake. It was polite to do that, right? Volkner stared at him blankly, not accepting the gesture. The boy eventually retracted his hand in dejection. Did he not want to? Maybe he was just too worn out. It was late, after all. "So I guess you're the official who's going to be training me?"

Volkner rolled his shoulders, then shrugged them. "Seems so."

"Good to be working with you!" So this was the official who was going to teach him how to ‘train'em like the pros’ (as that guy put it)! Nori may not have been into Pokemon until last August, but even he knew Volkner was renowned as one of the strongest Gym Leaders in Sinnoh, alongside Clint, Flint, or whatever his name was. The Officials had gotten him one of the best teachers possible.

The Gym Leader straightened upright. "In." He pointed at and started walking towards the automatic doors. Nori dutifully followed behind.

Only around a quarter of the lights were on in the Gym. Made sense, that saved power when barely anyone was in there. The entrance lobby was fairly open with a few TVs that were off, a few sofas and tables, some vending machines, and reception desks near each far corner. There was a shuttered concession area on the left with a menu over it. There were fancy-looking yellow doors straight ahead, and two hallways leading off between them and the reception areas.

Nori stood quietly, Volkner not doing anything for about ten seconds. The Gym Leader eventually sighed. "I'll give you a tour."

That would be helpful! Nori smiled as Volkner started explaining. "Lobby. Challengers and visitors can stay here and register to battle. There's concessions too." As he went along, he gestured to each place with a palm. "Public bathrooms and spectator entrances are down the right hall. Challengers come in through the front. Left hall is Gym Trainer's entrances, treatment facilities, supply closets, and administration. Back end of the Gym is restricted. You can't go there."

Nori nodded. He liked exploring, enough that he knew almost all of Veilstone like the back of his hand. But he respected things like private property and restricted areas. Most of the time.

Volkner led him through the big yellow doors. "Here's the Gym's puzzle. Off right now." The room was strange. The sides of the room were higher than the middle, which led down into a 4x4 grid of gears with different colored markings on each. There appeared to be switches on the inside and outside. A pair of similar doors to where they entered were on the other side.

"A puzzle?" Nori tilted his head. "Veilstone's didn't have one."

"Some don't. These and the Gym Trainers are to weed out challengers not worth a Leader's time." Nori tilted his head. There was a lot more to Gyms than he thought.

They passed through into the room beyond. "Here's the battlefield." It spanned both floors of the building. Nori had only seen Veilstone's Gym before, and this was quite ordinary compared to that. The only distinguishing features about this one were the tall pillars on the battlefield. Six in total. One near each corner, plus two along the sides. The latter were closer towards the middle rather than being parallel with the others. The floor was like, well. What you'd see in a gymnasium. There were also a pair of balconies to watch from above on the bottom left and top right corners, from where he walked in.

"That's it here." Volkner turned and left so quick, Nori almost didn't realize. He had to hustle to keep up as the Gym Leader kept moving, towards the doors leading into the left hallway from earlier.

As they emerged, they were in a slightly open area. There was a door leading to a small office here, another vending machine, and two sets of steps that led up and down. "Other floors are staff only. You count as one." The Gym Leader glanced. "Downstairs is just generators and maintenance rooms. Let's go up." Volkner motioned for Nori to follow.

As they went upstairs, Nori spotted a black and yellow humanoid critter wandering about. It had a rounded body and its head looked like an electrical plug.

"An Elekid?" Nori asked. "In the halls?"

"Gym Pokemon. Helps with image and security. They're tame. Just don't provoke them." Nori nodded. He wasn't planning to, though made a mental note to keep his Nidorina in check. "Staff rooms are up here. Just read on what's the door."

They rounded a corner immediately on the left and walked down the halls. Nori took stock of the label plates. Security. Bathrooms. Showers. Laundry. Training room. Exercise room. A couple that read Storage. Balcony, which Nori presumed there were two of as well.

For one room, Volkner did speak up. "Trainer's lounge. Kitchen and food's in here. Don't pig out, don't burn the place down."

Nori felt insulted. "I've been cooking since I was a kid, who do you think I am?"

Volkner didn't even slow down or acknowledge this. He rounded the next corner and continued walking until they came to a room at the end of this hallway. "And here's your room."

"I get to stay in the Gym?"

"It's easier." He reached into his coat and threw a keychain at Nori. The boy nearly fumbled it after making the catch. "Here. Your room, security room, training rooms, front door. Lock up if you go out and no one's here."

The boy looked at it in wonder. His mom never trusted him with a key for the longest time. Now here he was getting a key to a Pokemon Gym of all things! He'd get to stay there, and he'd have his own room too! This was great!

He did a small hop. "So are we gonna get started tomorrow?" he cheerfully asked.

A blank stare. "It's winter break."

"So in the new year, then!"

Volkner sighed and pressed a hand to his forehead. "Can't believe this..." He walked off without giving Nori an answer.

Well, maybe Volkner was just tired. He was too, but was just too excited to let it get to him. He unlocked his door and went inside. It was clearly makeshift, but it alone was bigger than his family trailer. There was a dresser with a mirror, a cot, a desk, a clock radio, and even a whole extra closet! He put his bags down in front of the dresser, and on a whim decided he'd check out the rest of the upstairs before even thinking about sleeping.
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The #1 Deerling Fan!
Aug 10, 2015
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Yay, a new story from you! A fairly standard introductory chapter setting up what's to come, but still good nonetheless. I gotta say, that beginning scene is pretty ominous. But I'm also wondering what Volkner's deal is. I know he's rather blah in the original game, but his attitude irks me (Probably intentional on your part). Why is he so irritated about training Nori? Wasn't he assigned to him? Or was he against it but made to agree? Who knows? Anyway, I'm excited to see how this unfolds.
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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I gotta say, that beginning scene is pretty ominous.
Indeed! It's a thing I didn't show you in your private screening from before.

But I'm also wondering what Volkner's deal is. I know he's rather blah in the original game, but his attitude irks me (Probably intentional on your part). Why is he so irritated about training Nori? Wasn't he assigned to him? Or was he against it but made to agree? Who knows?
I tried to go with a "close to canon" representation from him. As for why he's irritated, well. More on that eventually, but besides the possible stated reason of it being late, one reason to be inferred is that he's aloof, composed, and serious, and now here's this borderline genki boy.
Donate to Pikachu's legal defense fund
Sep 27, 2007
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Ah, the next part of the meta series is up.
*Well, this is the very opposite of a good situation to be in.
*Sounds like something happened on that cruiser...
*Don't make me start a counter of references to capitalizing Pokémon names. :p
*"I know a land developer" is possibly the oddest "I have connections" I've heard yet.
*And Volkner feels very Volkner.
*Oh dear. I sure hope the Demon isn't going to cause any issues with the Elekid...

Not too much to say since it's setting the initial story up now, but I'm looking forward to the rest!

One grammar issue to point out:
He was going to learn train a top official to become the world's first Pokemon Rehabilitator.
Probably meant to be "learn from a top official" or "train under a top official",
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Ah, the next part of the meta series is up.
Expect slower than usual updates. But for now, the prologue is up.

*Sounds like something happened on that cruiser...
Indeed. A plot point for the future!

*Don't make me start a counter of references to capitalizing Pokémon names. :p
It's five. Six if you count subtle pitfalls for critics who focus on those things in non-canonical things not posted here. Five fics, five first chapters, five counts of it. Like usually always, I try to make it mean something. It's also hinting at a flaw of Nori, a fun jab at corporate bureaucracy, and a deeper look into the issue: capitalizing Pokemon names is the difference between, "She was feeling down because of all the gloom" and "She was feeling down because of all the Gloom".

*"I know a land developer" is possibly the oddest "I have connections" I've heard yet.
It's actually a reference to A Move to Adjudicate: a director of land development was mentioned there! It's a bit obfuscated though, since Nori's too young to understand that title. Given that knowledge, the angry woman was likely threatening she knew someone on city council who could get them redeveloped or something.

*And Volkner feels very Volkner.
It's very fun to write Volkner. He gives approximately zero fucks.

*Oh dear. I sure hope the Demon isn't going to cause any issues with the Elekid...
Heh heh heh.

One grammar issue to point out:

Probably meant to be "learn from a top official" or "train under a top official",
Whoops, fixed that. Thanks for the catch. Can tell you exactly how it happened, too: I was using the words "train" and "trainer" too much I felt, so I decided to change that one sentence up. Evidently I only changed it halfway, though. >_<
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Month 1: January of Meetings (first part)
January 2nd, 2015

The glimmer of the sun shining through his window welcomed Nori to a new day. The boy looked at the digital clock in his room. 7:53am. Earlier than he usually woke up, but close enough that he didn't mind pulling himself out of bed and getting ready for the day.

He was still getting used to living here in the Gym. Not having his mom around or being able to go out and see people around the neighborhood or city was a huge change. There was a lot more room in here compared to his family trailer. If he wasn't used to the vastness of outdoors, it might have been overwhelming.

He looked himself over in the mirror on his dresser. He'd cut his chestnut-colored hair before coming here, so it was easy to maintain that. His red eyes held readiness inside their soft irises. He was in his usual clothes. Blue jeans (durable and hardy, good when you can't afford much), a simple shirt (this one lime green), and his favorite light vest atop it - green with a leafy texture. Green was his favorite color. Even his summer jacket was green and black. Satisfied with his appearance, he stepped out into the hallway and made his way to the trainers' lounge.

Once there, he opened a cupboard and retrieved a packet of oatmeal. One thing familiar here was his meals. He still often ate this, along with ramen, canned foods, and other things you could easily cook on a stove. Furthermore, there were snacks in the cupboards. He rarely ever had those at home, and it was often fruit when he did. Not only were those present, but there were had bread, chips, cookies, crackers, granola bars, and even chocolate available. The fridge had the likes of milk, juice, fruit, vegetables, cheese, various meats, and sandwiches - which were delivered to the Gym regularly from a local bread store.

He mixed a bit of cinnamon in with the oatmeal and sat down as it started to heat up. So far, the days had been dull. Thankfully, the clock in his room doubled as a radio. Listening to it, especially radio dramas, was one of his favorite pastimes and one of the few he could do at home. The lounge had a television, but he rarely used it except to watch the news. He made sure to let his Nidorina out for some practice in the training room each day. He even used some of the human exercise equipment himself. Officials had to be in physical shape too, so it helped to compensate for the exercise that was lost by being constrained to the Gym.


Half an hour later after he had eaten, he left the trainers' lounge to use the bathroom. As he was leaving, he heard voices from downstairs. Of course. The holidays were nearly over, so the Gym would be reopening soon. That meant it was finally time for him to start studying how to become a Pokemon Rehabilitator. Volkner had been absent, but he would be back now.

Sure enough, as Nori went down the stairs and stepped into the Gym's lobby, the Leader was there. He was in a black coat with blue lining with an electric yellow undershirt, and matching pants. Volkner was not the only one present. He was addressing three older boys.

"You're awake," Volkner spoke up as Nori stepped in.

"Oh, there's people here?"

In the middle was a dark-skinned teenager with a buzz cut. The tallest of them at around 160cm, he was wearing a white and gold shirt with black trousers. He peered skeptically at Nori with his gray eyes. To his left was a slightly shorter one, distinctly of pure Japanese heritage. He had black hair and brown eyes, and had on a white polo with black slacks. Was he trying to dress formal? His expression was unreadable. The last was a short and stout one with greasy red hair that went to his ears. He was wearing jeans and a black shirt that was too big even for him, which had a red circle with a wing grasping a skull in the middle, and the text DARK NIGHTWINGZ written around it.

"These are the Gym Trainers," Volkner said. He turned back to the trio. "This is who I'll be training over the next few months. I'll expect you to pitch in, too."

The dark-skinned teen arched an eyebrow. "This precious-looking kid?" He shook his head in disbelief. The others were dubious about this too, but he was the most open about it.

"Don't call me a kid," Nori snapped. And precious, too?!

The large one laughed heartily. Nori cringed. He was missing a few teeth. "Well you are a kid, little kid."

"And you're fat!" he fired back.


The other two laughed. The formally dressed one poked his compatriot in the belly. "Well, it is true that you are."

"All right, that's enough," Volkner interrupted. Nori huffed in relief. An argument could've broken out there if he didn't step in. The blond man looked around. "Where's Kallisto?"

The two on the sides gave vacant gazes. They looked to the dark-skinned teen. He shrugged. "Called him last night, and he's still not back from visiting his cousin. He's been training with her over break."

The Gym Leader grumbled. "Great. There go my plans." He paced around for a few seconds before speaking up. "Just prep the Gym for the Monday reopening." He eyed Nori. "You help too."

"Sure," the boy agreed. "It'll be something to do, at least."

"I'll be in the back. Call if you need me." With this, Volkner swiftly started down the hall.

The three Gym Trainers walked up to Nori. He got his guard up physically and mentally. He'd insulted one of them. Well, insulted back. He was ready for a confrontation because of that. The middle one spoke. "So you're the new meat who caught the Demon, huh?"

Nori couldn't believe it. Aside from some self-superior derision in his tone, that was surprisingly normal. "Yup. I'm Nori Carino!" he introduced. "Um." Right, handshake! He stuck out his hand, but the three just glared at it.

"Cut the formalities," the dark-skinned teen said, nearly swatting his hand away. "Edward Hankstein. Everyone calls me Eddie, though. Second best Gym Trainer here."

"Tono Takuma," spoke the well-dressed one. He punctuated it with half a bow.

The large one marched up. Nori could see the irritation in his blue eyes, but didn't concede even a centimeter. "I'm Ollie Gooch, kid, and you better show some respect!"

Eddie snorted. "Tub 'o goo."


Okay, that was creative. Even Nori had to laugh at that one. He didn't feel bad about making fun of the guy, given how hostile he was being.

"So just one word of advice for now," said Eddie. Nori took pause. He was smiling, but it was a fake smile. "You ain't hot stuff. You just got a real strong Pokemon and surprised your opponent. That's all."

"Well, I mean, I know that, but–"

"Good. Remember that." Who was he to say that? Nori grumbled and was about to protest, but Eddie kept talking. "Tono, go test the puzzle with him. Ollie, you start on cleaning the floors and check on the battlefield's condition. I'll go to the maintenance room and check if anything's shorted or damaged."

Ollie groaned, but Eddie had already started to leave. "Fine. Lanturn, help me out with this."

He took a Poke Ball off his belt and sent out a sizable fish Pokemon with a two-sided antenna. Its body was mostly blue, but there was some yellow around its eyes and the bottom of its tail fin. A Water type? Probably Electric too given the Gym's theme. Nori guessed he was going to have it help wash the floors.

Tono motioned for Nori to follow. Right, he had something to do, too. "So, Nori Carino. Are you intelligent?" he asked.

"Well, I get all As and Bs."

"We will see if you can do the puzzle, then."


January 5th, 2015

The first day of Nori's training coincided with the Gym's reopening. But before that, it was his first day at his new school. Nori would be attending West Sunyshore Elementary. He didn't have much attachment to his old school, so he mostly saw this as a chance to make new friends and get a fresh start.

The school was just over three blocks away from the Gym. Much closer than his old school was to the trailer he used to live in. He didn't even have to worry about crossing any streets. Sunyshore City was famous for its solar panels that doubled as overpasses for pedestrians. They weren't ubiquitous; most were in downtown or around other major locations, and not all of them were open to the public. But there were enough to get around easily in those locations, especially during winter given they were heated. If it weren't for the normal buildings, Nori felt it'd look like a futuristic sci-fi city.

All he had to do was get up onto them from the access across from the Gym, follow it north until the third path down, cross a field, and he'd be right there.

It was a Sinnoh winter, so he was hiking through the snow when not on the heated walkways. Nothing he wasn't used to. He used to love exploring around Veilstone. Especially in the winter, to see how different things looked with snow everywhere. As he was passing through the field however, his attention was captured by two boys who looked to be around his age. They both had backpacks on like he did.

One of them was towering over the other. Nori guessed he was nearly 145cm. He had spiky brown hair and was wearing a black hoodie with jeans. He had pulled up the left sleeve, showing an orange skull wristband. The other, nervously pressed against a tree, had indigo eyes and messy purple hair. He had to be like 25cm shorter, maybe more. He was wearing a gray and faded blue sweater, badly contrasted with snow pants that were such a bright red that it seemed the color wanted to leap off the material.

"Uh, what're you doing?" he called out to them.

The taller boy glanced over for a brief moment, which the other one used as a chance to run away as fast as his legs could carry him. "Pft. Ran off," the remaining one muttered. Nori knew full well that there had been bullying going on, but didn't say anything about it. The spiky-haired boy shook his head and turned to face him. "You headin' to school?"

"Yeah. Shouldn't you be too?"

"Gonna cut for a bit. Heard the Scrafty Bastards are gonna be makin' an appearance at the V in half an hour." Oh, them. The metal band kids liked because it let them swear right in front of teachers when talking about it. "Frickin' believe it? Right as school starts. Wanna come?"

Nori shrugged. "Just moved here, so I shouldn't miss my first day. Won't tell anyone you cut, though." Snitches get stitches, after all.

"A'right," the other boy nodded. "Name's Spike, by the way. Solaceon native, but my pops moved here for work."

"Nori Carino. Veilstone native, but I moved here to study."

Spike's mouth fell into an O-shape. "Whoa, THE Nori Carino?"

Nori grinned. Looks like his reputation had preceded him. "Yup," he confirmed. While he'd have liked to chat a bit more with this guy, he had to get going. "Anyway, catch you later."

"Cool. Peace, man."

Spike held out a fist which Nori bumped with his own, before they continued on their separate ways.


"We have a new student joining us today, class."

Nori's first day at his new school started with the teacher, Mrs. DeWood, calling him to the front. She was a slender woman with flowing blonde hair. Though the school did not have a uniforms policy for its students, the faculty wore them: simple white and navy blue outfits that sort of looked like suits, though they weren't.

"Why don't you introduce yourself?"

That was only natural. Nori knew some kids had problems with talking in front of their peers. Even he used to. After he fought a Pokemon battle in front of a hostile crowd at Veilstone Gym, this was nothing anymore.

"Hi, I'm Nori Carino." As with Spike, there were a number of surprised reactions. Some of them began chattering excitedly amongst themselves. "See that a bunch of you already know me. Saves us the time, but I look forward to getting to know some of you."

Despite some incidents at his old school, he was usually considered one of the cooler kids, if one that was hard to approach. The incident with the Demon amplified both aspects. He wasn't actually expecting word of it to get this far, but he had to admit, it was nice.

"Well, why don't you take a seat, Nori?" Mrs. DeWood said. She pointed to one of the two available ones. Up front, second from the left if you were facing the chalkboard. Annoying, but no surprise. Most kids want to sit at the back, including him. It's just cool, and you can do things without everyone else seeing, especially the teacher. The other open seat was in the back, but Nori decided to take the one he was asked to.

He sat down, placing his bag next to him and retrieving the binder from within. Thankfully, a new semester meant he didn't have to worry about joining in the middle of any lessons. He looked to his right neighbor, seeing a black-haired girl in a light blue shirt and capris. She wore glasses, and was looking down at her notebook. He looked to his left, and was momentarily surprised when he saw the purple-haired boy from before there. That was a coincidence, running into him before school.

"Psst, new kid! Nori!"

He turned around to see a red-haired girl behind him. She had on simple feminine clothing along with a sky-blue sweater vest. Her blue eyes were almost sparkling.

"Want to come hang out after school with me and my friends?" the girl asked, a warm smile on her lips.

Already?! He was at least hoping they'd wait until break to talk to him. Not that it really mattered. "The Gym Leader wants me back right away, so I can't."

She was disappointed, but smiled and nodded. "Maybe next time."

Well, at least it looked like he had nothing to worry about on the popularity front. He preferred to get to know some people first before he committed to hanging out with anyone regularly. He didn't want any one-sided friendships or anything. Still, didn't mean he couldn't be acquainted with others, even if they weren't friends.


Later on in the afternoon, Nori found himself standing on one end of the battlefield of the Gym. He was uncertain of why Volkner had called him here, only getting an inkling when he returned with the Gym Trainers in tow. He was carrying a brown plastic bag.

"Kallisto's running late," he said, continuing to walk towards the table situated on the side of the battlefield. The teenagers remained opposite him. "But I want to see how you battle. So get out the Demon. You'll be facing everyone."

"Uh, okay." That was very blunt and to the point. A realization quickly hit him. "Hey, wait! Won't it be unfair fighting all these people in a row with just one Pokemon?"

Volkner reached into the bag. He retrieved a number of small cream-toned crystals and spray bottles - orange and yellow - placing them on the table. "Potions and Revives. A few Paralyze Heals too. We'll use them as we have to."

Well those wouldn't do much for stamina. Still, with how everyone was looking at him expectantly, he'd just have to accept this for what it was.

"All right, all right," Nori said with a sigh. "Nidorina, battle time."

The teal quadruped that appeared was larger and fiercer than the average of her species. There were spikes all over her body; she even had a small horn and knife-like protrusions on her ears. She roared and quickly got into a ready stance, bringing out her sharp claws and flashing her jagged teeth at her opponents.

"I'll be up first!" Ollie boasted, although Nori could tell his voice was breaking a bit under the gaze of the fearsome creature. "Hope you're ready to lose four times in a row! Lanturn, go!"

Out came the Pokemon from a couple days ago. This mildly surprised Nori. He was actually going to use the fish to fight? Well. He wouldn't have sent it out if it couldn't fight on land. It would be silly if fish Pokemon were just helpless out of water, after all.

"Begin," Volkner said. He had a notebook in front of him and a pen in his right hand.

May as well start the fight the same way as usual! In fact, Nidorina was already getting to it, charging right in. She used to do this all the time, even against his orders. Now she did so because it's what Nori usually wanted, but readily listened if he asked or signaled otherwise. They had a dynamic most trainers would consider unusual.

The large teen grinned. "You're running right into our Spark!"

Ollie said this, but the once-Demon was just that much faster. She closed the distance before Lanturn could gather up the energy crackling around its top, smacking it away with a body blow.

The large teen cringed. Quickly getting his bearings back, he sneered at them. "Water Gun, Lanturn!"

"Don't let up," Nori calmly said. "Double Kick."

As the angler fish recovered, it took a deep breath. As it started to lean back, it was quickly met with feet in its face. It hacked, spewing a feeble amount of liquid out. All it could do to defend itself was try to tense up.

"Now Cut." Simply and beautifully executed. In one fluid motion, the teal Pokemon whirled around and sliced the enemy Pokemon right between its eyes. "Now bite it. Right on the antenna thing." That should shut down any Electric moves, maybe.

"Flash! Get back!" Ollie yelped. A brilliant pulse of light burst from their target. It dazzled Nidorina, but in spite of this she almost got the fish as it was hopping back. Ollie was now hyperventilating. "Get away! Bounce!"

Lanturn flopped, propelling itself into the air right as Nidorina was lashing out to Crunch at it again. She looked up and started running in a circle. She glanced over to Nori to convey she was thinking something. Nori gave his approval. Whatever she was up to, he trusted her to make the right choice.

The blue and yellow Pokemon landed a second after and bounded towards Nidorina. It flipped in midair, aimed precisely to intercept her. But she had other ideas. The once-Demon slowed down enough to make this miss, summarily slamming into it with a vicious Skull Bash. The Lanturn flew back into the air and crashed into one of the pillars lining the battlefield.

"Wait!" Ollie tried to protest as his Pokemon fell slack. "You cheap bastard! I wasn't ready for that! I–"

"Nori wins," Volkner interrupted in a plain tone. "Next."

"Son of a bitch!" Ollie stamped a foot as he recalled his Pokemon. He stormed back, crossed his arms, and turned away.

Tono stepped forward next. With a simple nod, he threw a ball onto the ground. A strange black Pokemon appeared. Nori's Pokemon was covered in spikes, but this Pokemon was almost all spikes. Aside from beady eyes and a two-segmented yellow mouth or nose, its body was just a black circular blob with gray-tipped needles sticking out. It curiously had a weird blue can of something tied to its body.

"Pincurchin!?" Eddie gasped. It got Ollie's attention too. Even Volkner seemed taken aback at this strange choice of Pokemon.

"I am thinking defense," the bespectacled teen elaborated. The others understood at once.

Nori was more confused at the Pokemon itself rather than the fact that he chose it. "I've never seen or heard of that Pokemon before."

"You would not. It is a foreign Pokemon."

"Well, whatever it is, the goal's the same. Defeat it!" He clapped his hands and turned to his Pokemon. "Right?" He got a roar of approval from her.

Tono and Eddie exchanged some quick words, showing very mild concern that was ultimately brushed off. Volkner shrugged and once again said, "Begin."

Immediately after Volkner said this, a wave of electricity came from Pincurchin and enveloped the entire battlefield! Nori scuttled back in panic, to the laughter of the Gym Trainers. Mercifully, this only covered where the Pokemon were fighting, and did not appear to be affecting his Pokemon adversely. Yet it had to be doing something.

The former Demon did not immediately rush in. She had started occasionally approaching things with more tact. Nori, seeing no reason not to, told her as he took his position again, "Go on, get in there!"

Tono smirked. "Protect, Unira." A nickname? What kind of nickname was that, though? Nidorina slammed face-first into a translucent globe that appeared around the other Pokemon. Tono pushed up his glasses as she staggered back. "Now, power up with Acupressure."

Unira vibrated as it retracted a number of its needles. Nidorina recovered quickly and socked it right in the face with a glowing purple claw. The strategy quickly dawned on Nori: hit it between the spikes!

Yet Tono was eerily unconcerned. "Zing Zap."

"Get away!" Nori wasn't sure what that was at first, but his instincts took over. Sure enough as she evaded, the needles grew and expanded. She just avoided a direct hit, getting off with just a glancing prickle.

"Now Bubble Beam, Unira." While this...this Pincurchin thing, didn't seem very mobile - it had yet to move from where it started the battle aside from turning - its reaction time was on-point. It opened its maw and spewed a stream of bubbles at Nori's Pokemon which landed true.

This seemed more annoying than painful to Nidorina, who again charged in and started swiping away, ethereal energies within her claws. Tono's eyes went as wide as Voltorbs. Did he pick this Pokemon to deter melee attacks with its prickly body? Is that what he meant by defense? Well if so, it completely didn't matter!

"We need a bigger attack than before. So, Discharge!"

Nidorina didn't have to be told to get back; she in fact sprinted behind the other Pokemon. A massive burst of electricity emerged from Unira. The strange current along the ground seemed to help it spark further. Was that what it was doing? It was so much that his Pokemon couldn't fully avoid the attack. Ultimately, she shook it off.

"Recover, Unira!" There was some anger in Tono's voice. Unira closed its eyes and attempted to focus, only for Nidorina to come up from behind, grab it, and suplex it into the ground. Nori grinned as the spiked creature was wedged.

"Nice one!" he cheered. Using those spikes against it. He never would've thought of that, but knew what to do from here! "Now, finish it with Body Slam." She was all too happy to oblige. Tono could only watch as Nidorina jumped and crashed down on the prickly black thing. It was already barely moving before that attack, squirming in a vain attempt to free itself. But it was completely still afterwards.

"Nori wins," Volkner again said. He peered at the still crackling battlefield. "We'll wait until that fades before we start the next fight." Tono grumbled in irritation, resignedly recalling his Pincurchin while mumbling an apology. "Bring your Pokemon here to heal."

Nori motioned to his Pokemon to do so. Spraying a Potion on the Pokemon picked her up, and made her mild injuries fade into nothing. Nori noted Eddie was giving the other two a scolding, before approaching him.

"Can see why they called it the Demon," he mused. Nori's Pokemon took this as a compliment, cackling. The young official in-training for his part just smiled. "But don't get your hopes up. Those two are nothing compared to me, let alone Kallisto."

"We'll see," was all he had to say.


Several minutes later, the battle between Nori and Eddie was about to begin. The Gym Trainer's Pokemon was a hovering trio of gray spheres with screws through their center, magnets on each end, and single eyes in the middle.

The opening commands were made. "Magneton, Flash Cannon!"

"Cut, Nidorina."

Both of these attacks whiffed. The former Demon evaded a blast of white energy en route to her target, and the magnets just floated aside to make the slice miss. What it was not expecting was the follow-up that Nidorina did on her own, an effective one-two assault with a Shadow Claw coming second.

"Okay, again." Nori said.

"Iron Defense, Magneton!"

The other Pokemon was hovering, but only about a meter off the ground. Nidorina could still comfortably attack it. She whirled and struck with the ghostly swipe again. This time, the attack seemed to glance off as the other Pokemon momentarily glimmered. Was that like that Protect from before?

Before she could follow-up, Eddie gave his next command. "Float up and Tri-Attack!" Well, maybe it could fly after all. This could be annoying. Nidorina kept a watchful eye as the other Pokemon went overhead, energy in the primary colors forming on each of the bodies. Nori knew her patience as intending to dodge at the last second.

Yet she misjudged. The attack came from a very strange angle, just managing to catch her. Unlike the Pincurchin's attacks, this one clearly stung a bit. They weren't going to just roll this one over. That's just how she liked it, however.

Magneton came back down. "Now, Thunderbolt!"

"Move in." As if he had to say that, but he wanted to keep up some appearances that he wasn't letting her lead most of the time. The attack went wide as she started to close the distance.

Eddie was suspicious. "Whatever it's up to, dodge!"

What were they up to? Well it's Steel, so how about, "Double Kick."

Nidorina paused for just a second when she was nearly there, before jumping. Eddie cursed as the evasion completely failed, Nidorina following perfectly. In fact she jumped right over his Pokemon, kicking it twice as she passed by.

"You're annoying," Eddie growled. "So time to slow you down. Lock-On, Magneton."

The magnets beeped repeatedly, and its eyes started to track Nidorina. Was it focusing? Well, that meant it was open! "Nail it with a Skull Bash!" She nodded, lowering her head and building up speed. Even if it was resisted, that was her strongest attack. It'd still hurt!

Except it didn't. She hit with the attack, but all it did was make their foe flinch a bit and bounce it back. "Hahahahaha!" Eddie pointed tauntingly. "Zap Cannon!"

"Keep running, Nidorina!" He said this, but as the sphere of electricity was fired out, it followed her like a homing missile. His Pokemon roared as she was struck by this move. Electricity continued to spark around her after. Paralysis?!

Eddie put a hand on his hip, containing his laughter. "You're so friggin' stupid, don't you know anything? Lock-On makes the next attack home in on the target. Your Demon was not avoiding that one. And a stat boost has a stronger immediate effect, but it lasts as long as the Pokemon's out! That Skull Bash wasn't going to do jack!"

"Oh, shut up!" There was nothing Nori hated more than people making up an excuse to lecture him. "We haven't lost yet!" His Pokemon looked up, snorting in agreement.

"You will lose with this next move! Flash Cannon, Magneton!"

The other Pokemon started to brightly glow. Nori was concerned. Paralysis slows a Pokemon's movements and can occasionally cause them to seize up entirely. How much could the other Pokemon take? Could his Pokemon take this attack?

The beam was fired and he grinned. He didn't have to find that out, as she avoided it anyway! She was moving slower, but still reasonably quickly. "That's it. Now, Shadow Claw!"

Eddie shook his head. "In that case, Lock-On again Magneton." He stood with his arms crossed, as if confident his Pokemon could focus enough and take this blow. Instead, what happened was she sliced it right along two of its eyes. It almost fell out of the air, the third component straining to stop them from doing so. "A critical hit?" Eddie seethed. "Are you fucking kidding me?!"

"Crunch. Pull it down!" The Demon became infamous for a brutal fighting style. It was time to start tapping into it. The teal creature gnashed into the Magneton and threw it to the ground right next to one of the pillars. "Now unleash Double Kick!"

She kicked repeatedly, alternating legs. Because of where they were, the Magneton wasn't being knocked anywhere. It just kept getting hit by the repeated attack.

"Damn it!" Eddie clenched his fists and punched the air. "Thunderbolt to get it off you!"

The two Pokemon lit up as electricity coursed through them both. Nidorina hissed as the attack faded. The Double Kicks came out slower, but more forcefully. Until she paused, tensing up from the paralysis.

"Thunderbolt again!"

There was no response, and Nidorina resumed kicking the Pokemon again. Volkner spoke up, "Enough. This battle's over. Nori wins."

Nidorina kept attacking until Nori plainly said, "Stop." She did so, huffing as she regained her bearings. "You all right?" he asked his Pokemon. She nodded and stood tall, even as she winced from her stiff muscles. Good thing they had healing items on-hand.

Eddie grumbled. "Got too careless...stupid friggin' Demon." He recalled his Pokemon, but his earlier hostility did not fade in the slightest. In fact, it seemed it'd gotten worse. "You got lucky, kid."

Nori shrugged. He was just making excuses. "So is that it?" he asked. Three Gym Trainers, three victories.

Volkner eyed the door. "Probably." He turned his gaze away. At that moment, it opened.

"Sorry I'm late."

The Gym Leader shook his head. "Making an entrance as usual, I see."

A handsome young man with perfectly tanned skin stepped into the arena. He stood at well over 180cm, and was wearing a blue jumper with golden yellow arms and middle, matching warm pants, a white snow hat, and a long orange scarf. The coat was open; he was wearing a v-neck shirt beneath it. Nori could tell he was well-toned just from seeing that much. His hair reached to his shoulders, and was mostly dark orange save for the pink streaks at the tips. He blinked at Nori in confusion. One eye was blue, one eye was purple.

"Oh. Oh!" The realization struck him like a Thunder attack. "You're the one who got picked by the Officials for that new role. Nori Carino, right?"

"Mhm! That's me!" Hey, actual respect around here! He'd take it!

"Kallisto Keravnos." He walked over and stuck his hand out for Nori, a gesture the boy accepted. The Gym Trainer flashed a smile. "Looks like we'll be training together."

"Guess so." He kind of expected his own to overlap with the Gym Trainers. The others had come in for practice over the weekend. It only made sense that they'd be training too.

"Well, since you're here," Volkner said with exasperation, "Get ready."

"Sure, all right." Kallisto walked over to his place on the battlefield, taking off his jumper and handing it to Ollie. Nori and his Nidorina went to get the latter healed. The medicine took a couple minutes to take effect, but she was ready and raring to go after they did.

"Ready?" Volkner asked.

"Sure am." Kallisto took a black and green Poke Ball off his belt. He gave it a light kiss. "This stage is yours, Raitora."

Kallisto sent out a feline Pokemon. It had a round body with short, bulky legs. Mainly yellow, but its front was white and there were black stripes on its back, including its tail. A bolt pattern was etched on its belly. It had narrow black eyes and a button-like nose, round black ears, and a mouth any cat would be proud of.

"Okay, what is THAT?" Nori asked. That's two Pokemon he didn't recognize in one day.

The dark-skinned teen scoffed at him. "You really so dumb you don't recognize this?" Was he supposed to, Nori wondered?

"Relax, Eddie," Kallisto lightly scolded, holding up a hand. His fellow Gym Trainer huffed, but nodded. The fit teen turned to explain. "Raitora, evolved form of Kotora. It's uncommon. Japan-native, but it's not usually found in any of the four major regions. He's my best partner."

That made sense. So far in his school geography classes, he'd learned about Sinnoh, Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn. There was more to the country than just those, though. They'd learned about some common Pokemon in those regions, so no wonder he didn't know about this. It certainly did exist though, since it was here!

Volkner nodded. "All right. Last match. Begin."

Whatever it was, like before. Goal is the same. Win! "Head in with a Crunch, Nidorina."

"Match it with your own, Raitora!"

The two Pokemon barreled towards each other, each simultaneously biting into the other's side. Nidorina snarled and glared at her opponent, sinking her teeth further in. The Raitora didn't openly react to this, save for a smile. Five seconds later, he jerked his head and released. Nidorina was hurled away several meters, managing to roll to her feet.

"Follow through with a Noble Roar, my friend."

As the once-Demon was recovering, her opponent took a deep breath. As she was turning around, Raitora bellowed mightily at her. She cringed, shutting one eye as she braced herself against this. Even Nori had to wince. It was as though one Pokemon was attempting to assert dominance over the other.

This only seemed to anger the teal creature. The moment the roar stopped, she came rushing in ready to strike. Both of her claws became enveloped in dark energies. Nori nodded.

"Ice Fang!" Kallisto commanded. "Block those Shadow Claws!"

The feline Pokemon flashed its two cuspid teeth, which began to lightly fog the air around them from their coldness. Nidorina swiped once, and he twisted his face to guard against it perfectly. She came in from below with the second strike, but Raitora twisted again and blocked that too.

"Poison Jab," Nori said quickly, trying not to miss a beat. His Pokemon reacted just as fast, poking the other Pokemon in the gut before it could react. The tiger Pokemon took a step back, but Kallisto appeared ready.

"Confuse Ray, Raitora!"

Nidorina's ears twitched. She shut her eyes right as her opponent's eyes and the bolt on its belly began to gleam eerily. Whether that was on instinct or just hearing the attack called, she avoided that one.

"Now, Slam!"

Blindly, Nidorina lunged towards Raitora to deliver a headbutt. But the electric tiger jumped, swinging his tail out as he did so. The teal Pokemon was flipped back into a tumble.

This thing was strong! Powerful enough to match Nidorina in a contest of strength. Well if it was going to be that way, they could still use speed and try to overwhelm it.

"Circle around it!" Nori advised. "Go in for another Crunch!"

But Kallisto had other ideas. "Now, Raitora! Earthquake!"

The feline jumped up and down. Nori braced himself as soon as he heard the order, but his Pokemon couldn't do so or jump over it in time. She stumbled as the ground shook around her and the rest of the battlefield, getting tossed around like a ragdoll. The boy was surprised this was causing no damage to the arena or building.

Kallisto nodded. "Grass Knot next!"

Raitora stamped his front right foot as Nidorina was getting to her base. Vines and grass burst from the floor in front of her, ensnaring her in a tangled mess of plants. Irritated, Nidorina yanked and was able to free a front leg with a single pull, but the others proved more stubborn. They were already out of time.

The handsome teen held out his palm, fingers outstretched. "Okay Raitora, SWIFT BOLT!"

Was it going to charge in? "Batter up," Nori said, making a swinging motion with a clasped fist. "Shadow Claw."

His Pokemon nodded as she freed her other front leg, getting the attack ready. Sure enough, the Raitora cloaked himself in electricity and burst forward like a bolt of lightning. He left afterimages in his wake as he rushed towards the ready Nidorina.

She swung her claw out and connected dead on. But it didn't impede her opponent at all. She was run through, getting knocked back towards Nori. The once Demon struggled to get up, faltering. She shoved herself up with a paw up out of sheer defiance...before falling back down.


She was barely conscious in that her eyes were open and still had that paw up, but her only movements were breathing.

"Kallisto wins."

The Demon was beaten? Just like it was nothing? They always beat whoever challenged them. They always won, even if they gave them a good fight. But they lost. More to the point, they lost so easily. He wasn't expecting their first loss to be this bad.

Kallisto stood neutrally, maybe a bit awkwardly. Volkner looked over to Nori. The sheer disappointment was written all over his face. The three others' mocking was merciless.

"Just like that! Suck it!" said Ollie, as if he was the one who won.

Tono agreed. "That's our Kallisto. Far better than you ever will be."

"What'd I tell you?" said Eddie. "You're nothing, kid."

Nori lowered his head. They didn't have to pile on like that. They gave Kallisto high fives while continuing to mock him, and even his Nidorina. His Pokemon grumbled. He could tell she wanted out of here just as much as him.

Without a word, he recalled her and walked out of the arena.


Nori ignored the calling from below. All he wanted to do right now rest and think about this.

As he was heading to his room, he saw a small figure sitting next to his door. A squirrel Pokemon. Mostly white with a blue streak on its tail and ears, and yellow cheeks. Sinnoh's resident pika, a Pachirisu. It was about to bite into a berry. Nori recognized it as a Razz Berry, something he picked a lot of last year to help feed his Nidorina.

It tilted its head. As if sensing his mood, it stood up and ran over. It let out a small jolt of electricity, lightly frying the berry. It bit the yellow-orange fruit in half and offered one piece to Nori.

Strange. He squatted down and accepted, if only to be polite. He wasn't that hungry, but decided he should eat a bit anyway. He popped it into his mouth. Not bad. He gave a nod to the Pokemon before opening the door, heading in, and locking it behind him.


A/N: No, Raitora's not a fakemon - and as an aside, can I just say I hate that term? It sounds so dumb. It's one of the unused Gen 2 Pokemon, which was technically an unused Gen 1 Pokemon. I always wanted to use a couple of them in fanfiction, and Kallisto is the type of character who fit for doing so. Its moveset was inspired by similarly built Pokemon, save for its signature Swift Bolt, which is just electric Extremespeed.

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The #1 Deerling Fan!
Aug 10, 2015
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Sorry it took me so long to comment on this. Another good chapter as always! Not much going on here, other than Nori getting used to his new surroundings, a new school, meeting new people (Still want to kick Eddie in the nards, though. Such a jerk), all that stuff. I have to admit, I didn't expect you to use one of the unused Gen 2 Pokemon of all things here, but I always like stuff that's unpredictable, so you do you. I definitely like the idea of Swift Bolt, and I'm curious to see what happens next, though I do already have a general idea, since you showed me snippets of the story in our PMs. Anyway, this was great! Good luck on the next chapter!
Donate to Pikachu's legal defense fund
Sep 27, 2007
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*A big guy named Ollie...Laurel and Hardy reference or am I paranoid because the Pokemon anime dub apparently made one recently?

Minor error to note:
Ollie groaned. but Eddie had already started to leave.
The first . should be a ,.

It would be silly if fish Pokemon were just helpless out of water, after all.
Poor, poor Goldeen...

*Feels like Nori got rather lucky against Eddie with that critical, really.

*Nidorina is still a bit crazed, it seems, what with pummeling the defeated Magneton.

*Rather amused by a beta Pokemon appearing, heh.

*Swift Bolt...seems to be from the TCG, maybe?

*Yep. I had a feeling Nori would lose to the last one, especially after Kallisto got hyped. I imagine Volkner would crush "the Nidorina formerly known as Demon", too, but it didn't come to that.

The Demon was beaten? Just like it was nothing? They always beat whoever challenged them. They always won, even if they gave them a good fight. But they lost. More to the point, they lost so easily. He wasn't expecting their first loss to be this bad.
Ah, Nori. I think his earlier wins made him overconfident in Nidorina's power. Good to get that now before his overconfidence happened at the worst time, though.

*The rest of the junior trainers in this Gym seem like jerks, but I guess a Leader like Volkner whose field of craps to give is ever fallow would realistically end up with that.

Sinnoh's resident pika
I love the idea people think of the clones this way in-universe.

*What a sweet little Pachirisu.
...why do I have a sense of odd dread?

*Ah, Swift Bolt is a new move.

Well, Nori's got a "fun" little issue to deal with, considering the Junior trainers except Kallisto (who may still turn out to be a jerk; I never rule that out) all dislike him and Volkner is 100% Volkner and apathetic about pretty much everything.
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Another good chapter as always! Not much going on here, other than Nori getting used to his new surroundings, a new school, meeting new people
The original name for the month was January of Meetings.

(Still want to kick Eddie in the nards, though. Such a jerk)
Being the main antagonist tends to lean characters towards that, in some instances anyway.

I have to admit, I didn't expect you to use one of the unused Gen 2 Pokemon of all things here, but I always like stuff that's unpredictable, so you do you.
*Rather amused by a beta Pokemon appearing, heh.
Raitora is an excellent Pokemon that really should've made it in. It helps to make Kallisto stand out more too. Similarly, that's why I brought out Pincurchin for Tono - rare you get to see Pokemon like that in fanfiction, let alone on battle. Still looking for a chance to use Falinks, though...

I definitely like the idea of Swift Bolt, and I'm curious to see what happens next, though I do already have a general idea, since you showed me snippets of the story in our PMs.
A number of scenes and things have been added/changed since your birthday preview! Look forward to it!


*A big guy named Ollie...Laurel and Hardy reference or am I paranoid because the Pokemon anime dub apparently made one recently?
There are/will be references in this fic, but that's not one of them. The idea for his name started from the "tub 'o goo" nickname. So his name would be O. Goo_____. I settled on Gooch as his last name, and I chose Ollie because it went together with Eddie.

Poor, poor Goldeen...
Indeed, so I go for a balanced approach. Some media/fics just don't bother with the issue of fish Pokemon on land (making sense in the games' case for balancing). Some fics take realism to the point of where you rarely see them because obviously they'd be useless. In my fic, they're certainly at a disadvantage, but training - like Ollie's Lanturn or Gasha Qian's Tentacruel - can see them overcome it altogether.

*Feels like Nori got rather lucky against Eddie with that critical, really.
Hax is a very real thing. Shadow Claw is a high critical hit move, that said. Related aside, Nidorina had Slash in her moveset too before I realized it isn't learned. That's why she has Cut of all moves.

*Nidorina is still a bit crazed, it seems, what with pummeling the defeated Magneton.
Pretty much! Still developed enough so that she'll listen to Nori to stop.

*Yep. I had a feeling Nori would lose to the last one, especially after Kallisto got hyped. I imagine Volkner would crush "the Nidorina formerly known as Demon", too, but it didn't come to that.
You may get to see your theory put to the test eventually!

Ah, Nori. I think his earlier wins made him overconfident in Nidorina's power. Good to get that now before his overconfidence happened at the worst time, though.
I actually pondered including the opening scene of the next chapter as the end of this one, which goes a bit more into detail about his feelings about this. I ultimately decided to end it where I did, since it puts some focus on the Pachirisu by having it at the end.

*What a sweet little Pachirisu.

...why do I have a sense of odd dread?
Heh heh heh heh heh...

Well, Nori's got a "fun" little issue to deal with, considering the Junior trainers except Kallisto (who may still turn out to be a jerk; I never rule that out) all dislike him and Volkner is 100% Volkner and apathetic about pretty much everything.
He certainly has his work cut out for him, beyond his Official's training.
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Month 1: January of Meetings (second part)
January 6th, 2015

At school the next day, Nori was set upon by multiple groups at recess and lunch. All of them wanted to hang out or be friends with him. He was able to excuse himself by saying he was too worn out from battling. It wasn't untrue. A few of them expressed jealousy he even got a chance to have battles. The school had a strict no-Pokemon policy on school grounds. Between that and homework, those that owned Pokemon didn't have much chance to play and fight with them.

When he got back and heard the Gym Trainers' voices in the arena, Nori went straight to his room. He was still feeling down about yesterday. It wasn't losing that bothered Nori. He expected to at some point. It was how badly he lost that was getting to him.

The Demon had been called one of the strongest wild Pokemon ever seen. She'd taken on many high-leveled opponents by herself even before she met Nori, and only seemed to get better with him. They didn't do anything wrong or different this time. Yet they got stomped by Kallisto like it was nothing. Just when he was starting to enjoy battles a bit, he was dealt a harsh reminder of why he never liked them. It was part of why a journey was never appealing to him. You just couldn't stand up to people at that level, and there were too many waiting at the end.

Nori went over to his desk. He opened his textbook to try to get some math homework done. It went slowly. He was good at the subject, but there were too many thoughts in his mind to properly focus. It was almost a relief when there was a knock at his door.

"Hey." The boy cringed. It was him. "Mind if we talk for a bit?"

Nori stood up. He considered this. Well, one good thing. He was in a way glad it was him and not anyone else. If he didn't answer this, someone else might come by. He reluctantly stood, unlocked the door, and opened it.

Kallisto stepped inside. He took a moment to appraise the room. "Nice setup you got here. Clean too," he said. After a moment's thought, he ruffled his hair awkwardly. "Sorry for yesterday. Volkner said we had to go all out, so that's what I did. No hard feelings?"

Nori sighed, nodding just enough to be perceptible. Yeah, he knew that. He shouldn't blame Kallisto for this, or let this get him down for too long.

"Most people go all out in battle, excepting cases like a Gym Leader adjusting their team for a newer trainer. Know you were giving it your best, too." He was. That's what made it so frustrating. He did his best, and it wasn't even close to enough. His Nidorina had taken on all manners of powerful Pokemon, but Kallisto and his Raitora were just too strong.

"Sometimes though?" The fit teen paused. "You just meet people who are better than you. More experience, more skill, sometimes even more luck." He twiddled his fingers. "Just means you need to train harder yourself, that's all."

Train harder. That's what he was here to learn about, how to train Pokemon. Was there some super secret technique Kallisto was using that he learned from the Gym Leader? No, no, he wouldn't have beaten the other three otherwise. To be stronger. To be able to battle well with all these Pokemon he would be helping.

The orange and pink haired teen extended his hand again. "You did good. Looking forward to battling you again sometime."

The boy reluctantly accepted the shake. But he had to ask. He figured he may as well. "How are you so strong?" It never hurt to ask something, as long as it wasn't a stupid question.

Kallisto shrugged. "I'm not that strong, really. Still got a ways to go and things to get better at. Not perfect at everything."

As if. Nori rolled his eyes at that non-answer. He beat the Demon. The Demon that beat everything else. He beat it like it was nothing, and he's saying he's not that strong? Yeah, right. He was just being stupidly modest.

"Anyway, spoke up for you, so you got the day off."

"Really?" He needed that after yesterday. He was going to dig in his heels, but it was nice to know he wouldn't have to do that. "Um, thank you."

"Not a problem." Kallisto flashed a grin and thumbs up. He went to step out. "Me and the guys will be out in front of the Gym waiting for challengers. Eddie's trying to work on his skateboard stunts. Come by if you want to hang out, okay?"

"Sure," Nori said, though he had no intention of doing so. Not with those other three there...


January 11th, 2015

The rest of the week passed by eventlessly at the Gym and at school. Nori welcomed that. School was just school, and what he had to do for training was nowhere near as stressful as having to fight four trainers in a row.

On Wednesday he had to do some physical stuff. Simple exercises and a lap around the arena. Being an outdoors person already, he did good there. Thursday was some written stuff, mostly about Pokemon, geography, and history. Some of it was basic material even a six-year-old would know, other questions were way above his grade level. He knew some of it from his own research when working the the Demon or hearing it on the news, and he just guessed with the others. He had no clue how he did. Friday was sparring using the Gym Pokemon. He didn't know what he was doing, but won over half of them. This included one battle where he used that Pachirisu, who was very eager to get into it. They even managed to defeat the Luxio they were up against.

Half of Saturday was spent watching the Gym Trainers and Volkner face off against challengers. He'd done this a couple times on his own, but this was the first time he was explicitly told to do so. Five trainers stopped by that day. Two had to do the puzzle, and one was completely stumped by it. The time limit expired, and she was dismissed very rudely by Tono. Two came for battles with Gym Trainers. Ollie fought a young boy from Canalave City, but Kallisto stepped up to face a 20-year veteran who came over from Alola. The resulting 3-on-3 battle was nearly as one-sided as his own encounter against the head Gym Trainer. Finally, he watched Volkner battle a challenger from Batalson Island who'd beaten Eddie on Tuesday, defeating the leader in a narrow match and earning a Beacon Badge.

On Sunday, Nori was asked to come to the arena. He hadn't spoken to his mentor after that; Volkner had quickly returned to his private area of the Gym. He was almost always there when not tutoring him, facing a challenger, or out of the building altogether. Nori cheerfully told him, "Good battle the other day!"

Volkner went "hmm," at this. He was holding a remote with a knob and three buttons.

Nori tilted his head. "Was it not good to you?"

"No, it was. Just don't get enough of those." His lack of enthusiasm ran counter to his words.

The Gym closed early on Saturdays and Sundays. Even Gym Leaders needed time off, and to be able to do maintenance that couldn't be done overnight. Of course, there was no day off for Volkner today. In fact, it looked like he - or more likely, the Gym Trainers - had been busy. Scattered all over the arena were a number of oversized dartboards with lights above them. Some of these were stationary, some looked like they could move.

"So what's this?"

"Target test."

"I mean, I guessed that." Why would there be targets scattered around Gym if not to hit them? "But what do I have to do?"

"Get out your Pokemon."

"Okay." He brought out his Nidorina. She looked around, just as confused as he was. She eyed him, and he shrugged to express his own uncertainty.

"The targets will light up. Hit them before they turn off."

"You get that?" he asked. She nodded and grumbled. The former Demon loved to fight, to the point of being labeled a violent psychopath by some. She went all-out in every fight without exception. Asinine things like this always annoyed her, though she'd come a long way of not even wanting to bother with them at all. "Yeah, I know. Don't get it either,"

He glanced up, seeing that the Pachirisu, an Elekid, and a couple Magnemites were watching from one balcony. Eddie and Kallisto were watching from another. Nori never minded performing in front of others.

"Well, if you're ready. Go." Volkner pushed a button on the remote.

A simple, stationary target on the far side. The light over it was green. "Okay, get it." Nori ordered for posterity, although his Pokemon was on the way already. She gave it no quarter, hitting it with a vicious Shadow Claw as she got near. Nori was impressed the thing held together. Pokemon training tools were made of sturdy stuff.

Two more lit up in its place. Nidorina hit the first before Nori even spotted it. The second was on a pillar, very low. The teal Pokemon slid towards it as she got near, nailing it with a kick.

"There's three," he said. pointing to them all. Two moving horizontally and an elevated third. His Pokemon set off towards them. The first she hit while running beside it. From there she darted towards the second. The third was positioned a ways behind the device the target was sliding on. Instead of going around, she jumped through, hitting the target on the way and continuing without pause or switching direction. She leaped and hit the third.

"Another three!" Way more spread out! The teal Pokemon was on them right away. She hustled over to the nearest one, slashed it, and continued towards the vertically moving second. It was at its apex when she got close, forcing her to do another high jump to hit it.

As she was halfway to the last one, an irritating buzzing noise reverberated through the loudspeakers. The lights over all the targets went red, and all the moving ones stopped. What happened?!

"Time's up," Volkner said.

Nori shook his head at himself. "Gotta warm up first." They needed to get used to this.

Volkner pressed another button on the remote. "Reset and try again."


On their eighth attempt at it, they finally appeared to find their grove. Nidorina was zipping around taking out targets at a maddening pace. It was not just raw speed, but maneuverability in being able to turn on a dime. Tono and Ollie had joined the others on the balcony. Nori could overhear some of their impressed murmurs.

As they finished the eighth wave, his Nidorina instantly spotted the first (and only) one of the ninth. A single target sliding vertically half the battlefield away. With no hesitation, she ran towards it and did a mighty backflip, barely catching it with a nail on her back leg. They'd learned just contact was enough, no need to strike it hard.

"Three of them!" Nori pointed. All clustered together, one moving. His Pokemon noticed and rushed towards them. She punched one close to ground level as she was going by, jumped to slash at the moving one, slashed at another he hadn't seen on the opposite side of a pillar, and rammed her head into the final one.

Immediately after she had done this, more lit up. "Three more!" Nori yelled. "All over the place!" Two were on opposite sides, and the third was way off to the side.

By now, his Pokemon was beginning to strain and pant heavily. They'd had breaks in-between, but fatigue still built up. The side one was the closest, so she got that first. She was just about to reach the second one when all the lights buzzed and lit up red.

Volkner said the obvious. "Another failure."

"Well what can I say?!" Nori snapped. His Pokemon collapsed to catch her breath, too tired to be angry herself. "We were hitting them as fast as we could! And Nidorina doesn't know any ranged attacks!" With how short that time limit was, that was the only way they could've hit them all! Nidorina used to know Poison Sting, but it fell into disuse due to being weak. It was often easier and more effective to just close the distance on any ranged attacker.

"Excuses," Volkner replied. "This can be balanced for that."

"Just how fast were you expecting her to be?!" She didn't slow down at all, and she was a very quick Pokemon!

The Leader grumbled and waved him off. "Forget it. We'll try again in a few days. Think about why you failed here." Before he could say anything else, the Gym Leader stormed away shaking his head and muttering to himself.

Nori stamped a foot. How was he supposed to figure this out?! This was stupid! And he was supposed to do it again? From the sounds of it even if he did teach Nidorina a ranged attack somehow, it'd just be adjusted to be just as hard. Was there something to this? Was he just dumb and not getting it? Or was this just impossible? The boy growled. This was frustrating and made worse by that vagueness!

"Come on," he swiftly marched over to his Pokemon, helping her off the ground. She blinked, looking up at him in surprise. She snickered in approval, seemingly amused at his anger. "Let's take a rest and get some food."


January 12th, 2015

Needless to say, Nori had trouble focusing at school the next day. He'd always been good at learning things and getting good grades, though he was never considered a nerd. This was the first time he was doing bad at something. What if that continued? What if it bled into his schoolwork? What if next year, or even this year, he started doing bad on all his classes? The Officials wouldn't have a place in them for a stupid moron.

Nori liked to eat lunch outside if it wasn't too cold. Today was chilly, but by no means unbearable for a native Sinnohite. He was sitting against the building overlooking the sports field, away from the snow. The Gym had meals in the lounge, and Volkner had been allowing him to have a sandwich and drink from there, and a snack from the concession stand each day. This was alien, and he still couldn't quite believe it. His school ‘lunches’ for the past three years, if anything at all, was just a fruit or granola bar. A girl he knew used to share her lunches with him, when they were still friends. He was popular enough that others would occasionally do the same, but never counted on that.

Nori closed his eyes. He didn't want to think about her. He looked up and found he wouldn't have to. Spike was approaching him. Nori found out he was in the same class too; that empty seat he saw on his first day belonged to the tall boy with spiky brown hair. Today he was in a brown leather jacket and jeans. "Sup, Nori!" he greeted, his uptown Solaceon accent coming through. "Wanna play monkey in the middle?"

This was the first time he was being directly invited to an activity. The other kids had been giving him his space up until this point, for better or worse. It wasn't the most principled thing, but he didn't want to come across as a square or a loner. "All right," he conceded. He couldn't use the excuse of eating since he was almost done. He popped the last bite of his chocolate bar into his mouth, stuffed the trash in his lunch bag, put that into his backpack, and followed.

"So who's the monkey?" he asked. A nasty thought occurred, and he threateningly fired back, "Better not be me."

"Nah," the other boy shook his head. "It's that crybaby, Lux."

As they went out into the snow-covered field, Nori spotted a mixed gender group surrounding a boy. They tauntingly chanted in a surprisingly coordinated fashion.

"Monkey in the middle! Monkey in the middle!"

He recognized the nominal monkey at once. It was his next seat neighbor. The boy with messy purple hair didn't even have his sweater on. He was desperately trying to keep warm with one arm while trying to grab the thing they were throwing - a plush Buneary - with the other.

"Stop it! Give it back!" Lux cried. He tried to lunge for the doll, only to slip and fall before he even got off the ground. Nori winced as the others burst into laughter.

He reluctantly took a spot around the circle. For now. "Why do this, anyway?" Nori asked. Lux stood and stumbled towards the girl who had it. She held it over his head and threw it to someone else when he tried to jump.

Spike grinned. "Cuz' he's a girly crybaby, and it's fun to see him cry!"

Conveniently, the plush reached his hands at that point. "No, it's not!"

This was going way too far in the first place, and if that was their only reason, that just made them stupid pathetic bullies. He marched up to the purple-haired boy and thrust the plush into his hands.

"Go, quick," he urged. When Lux did not move, he pushed him. "Now!"

To Nori's relief, he took the hint and ran off. Some people tried to grab him, but most were too stunned or fixated on him to do anything. None chased after Lux. Nori glared around the circle, his gaze coming to rest on the flabbergasted Spike. The brown-haired boy strutted up, regaining his bearings along the way.

"Hey, what'd you do that for?" he asked, crossing his arms.

"Look, I'm fine with a bit of teasing, especially if someone deserves it." He didn't mind seeing a self-superior egoist get theirs. "But this is too much for too little." What did Lux ever do, besides being easy to get a reaction out of?

Spike pfted, shaking his head with disappointment. With a wave of his hand, he said, "Thought you were cool. Wasn't expectin' you to be such a softy that you'd stand up for a pansy like that."

Nori smirked and took a step forward. "I stood up for the Demon against the cops," he boasted. "Think I won't stand up to you?"

Several kids went ‘Ooo’ at this. Spike's jaw nearly dropped. He narrowed his eyes. "You threatenin' me?"

"What if I am?"

Spike replied by lightly shoving him. Nori shoved back with all his might. The larger boy went stumbling back. He scowled and gritted his teeth as he regained his footing.

"You asked for it, softy!"

In a flash, Nori bent over, grabbed some snow, and flung it into the bully's face as he was approaching. Spike blindly stumbled towards him. Nori grabbed onto his jacket and landed a punch square in the eye. The taller boy grabbed his coat and landed a punch on his cheek. The other kids erupted into cheers, some supporting him and some supporting Spike.

They traded blows for five seconds until Spike tried to take command. Still holding on, he attempt to pull Nori down with sheer strength. Nori kept his balance and swung a leg out. Spike was not expecting this and tumbled down facefirst. Nori reacted quickly, delivering a kick to the ribs. He squatted down and shoved Spike's face further into the snow.

"Teacher!" came a shout. Nori looked up briefly, and sure enough.

"Lux must've told on us! Run!"

Whether that was true or not didn't matter. Nori didn't have to be told twice to take off running.


January 16th, 2015

Nori escaped any trouble from that incident. He was concerned that Volkner was going to get a call, or a teacher was going to pull him aside one day. But when the rest of the week passed without incident, he felt in the clear.

That was just from the faculty, though. His classmates started being more wary around him. As if he was going to explode on them for any little thing. He could only sigh to himself at that. Right back to usual so quickly. Popular as he was back at his old school, he didn't have a lot of real friends. There was the younger Maylene. Before he met her, there was a girl his age he was really close with. One day in fourth grade, she asked him to join her on a journey. He was stupid and said some harsh things, and that was all it took to destroy that friendship.

Stuff at the Gym had been going smoothly, aside from three more failed attempts at the target test. Besides that, it was basic things with no serious battles. But there was something he had been meaning to do at school for a while. He resolved to do it today as the final bell rang, following behind a person he wanted to have words with as they were hurriedly leaving as always.


Lux turned around, dropping his bag in a panic. "Y-Yes? What?"

"You really snitch on Monday?" he firmly asked.

"No!" Lux snatched up his bag and held it in front of him as if it were a shield. "I just ran back to class. A teacher might've saw me and put it together, but I didn't tell."

Good enough for Nori. "Okay," he nodded. "But you do know what they say, right?"

Lux quietly nodded. "Snitches get stitches. Spike made me learn that..."

"All right." That was just a rule around the playground. Nobody likes a tattletale. Nori found they're often kids who consider themselves better than everyone else, anyway. Plus it made sense. Why expose someone for the sake of it? That's just being a stupid jerk. If Lux really did do that...well, regularly, Nori would get why he was being bullied. As far as he could tell though, that was a one-time excuse at best.

"Um." Lux looked away sheepishly. He started shuffling his feet. "Thanks, by the way. Sorry for not saying sooner."

He smiled. "Happy to help."

"I heard you fought Spike." The purple-haired boy sighed. "You must be tough..."

"I learned a few things from an old neighbor back in Veilstone." Raymond Pulsar, a former member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force. A funny old guy who had lots of stories to tell. "Plus I, uh," Nori rubbed the nape of his neck. "I have been in some schoolyard fights before." He wasn't exactly proud of that. It was part of why he didn't have so many real friends, people found him hard to approach. The boy hoped he wouldn't end up reestablishing that reputation here.

Lux seemed to laugh a bit at that, though it could as well been a nondescript vocalization. The two were quiet for a moment.

"Well...bye." The purple-haired boy abruptly hurried off.

Nori blinked. Was it something he said or did? Well, no matter. He could always ask next time, if he was curious. He started out himself.


January 17th, 2015

On Saturday, the target test was set up again. They had been periodically trying throughout the week. Nori and Nidorina attempted to clear it once more today, with no success. They got to the eleventh wave on the sixth attempt only to lose milliseconds before Nidorina hit the last target. From Volkner's expression, it seemed they were still a ways from the end at that. The seventh was an early failure on the fifth wave.

Their conversation had been at a minimum, but Volkner was always sure to say that word after a loss. "You've failed again."

Nori sighed. He was more defeated than angry at this point. This was their fifth go at this, and they were making no headway. "You don't need to rub it in."

"You shouldn't accept it, either."

"I'm not accepting this!" he protested, throwing his arms back. "It's just...I'm trying as best I can!"

"If you're failing these tests, you're not trying hard enough."

"What do I need to improve on?"

"We've been at this for a couple weeks and you don't know that?"


Volkner started to walk away. "Maybe you aren't cut out for this after all..."

Nori grabbed him by the jacket to prevent this. "I am!" He punctuated with a stomp. "I want this! So I'm not giving up! I'll do it as many times as it takes!"

His Pokemon snorted in agreement. The boy swore he saw a fleeting smirk on the Gym Leader's face. "A good answer. I take back what I said, then."

"I...I see." Okay, he wasn't expecting that to actually work. "But can you answer my question? What wasn't I doing right?"

Volkner eyed him. "That's something to figure out for yourself." Great, he was still being vague. He couldn't fix the problem if he didn't know what the problem was. What angle was the blond man taking with this training?

There was a light crash. Both turned to see that Nidorina had physically shoved one of the targets over. "Looks like your Pokemon's done. We'll try again next week." The Gym Leader started to leave. Nori recalled his Pokemon before she could vandalize things any further.


Nori turned to see the Gym Trainers approaching, wishing at that moment he had kept his Pokemon out. They were being led by Tono, who was the one who had delivered the insult.

"I beat that test on my very first attempt," he bragged. He turned to the others and let out a haughty huff. "Faster than any of the others, in fact."

"That's cause you're a nerd, Tono," Eddie snipped. "You're good when it comes to this stuff. You're lacking in other areas, though." He chuckled mockingly, causing his comrade to push his glasses up in annoyance. The dark-skinned teen shrugged. "But yeah, he's right. This is pretty bad, kid."

"Took me only four tries," Ollie bragged. "Same as Eddie."

"Yeah fatty, but part you left out is you blundered into it on your eighth attempt, and I got it second go then."

"Hey! At least I understood and got it!"

A shrug. "Yeah, true. He's too slow to even know."

"Guys, cut him a break," Kallisto sharply cut in. Ollie and Tono backed right off. Eddie glared back at the fit teen, but nodded in acceptance. "We all learn at different paces. There's been a few things it took even me a while to learn."

"And what attempt did you get it on?" Nori cynically asked.

"Second try, second attempt." he shook his head. "Told you, I'm not perfect at everything."

Nori again rolled his eyes. Second isn't that much worse than first. "And lemme guess: you guys won't help, or will just be stupidly vague too?"

The others snickered and laughed. Nori for a moment regretted asking that, even if this was the exact response he expected. To his shock, Kallisto smiled. "Actually, sure," he said. "I'll let you know the trick." The others opened their mouths in protest, but he kept talking over them. "The targets speed up as you go faster. You need to pace yourself. Go too fast and they'll get too fast."

"Kallisto!" a shocked Eddie yelled.

Tono and Ollie were similarly aghast. "Why would you ever tell someone like him that?!" the former asked.

To this, Kallisto turned to them and explained his reasoning casually. "Don't forget, we're all training together here. There's no reason not to give him some help if he wants it." He shrugged. "Or needs it. You're supposed to figure that out as your Pokemon gets tired and slows down. But well." He looked back at Nori with a chuckle. "Your Pokemon only has one speed."

Slow down? How was he ever supposed to figure that out?! And how much sense did it make? He got by most Pokemon battles by attacking and attacking and never letting up. It made sense, people just couldn't keep up and counter. And it's not like he was mindlessly going all out, either - he'd wait for openings. Was this some obtuse lesson? What did this ever have to do with battling or training or anything?

"You're very lucky Kallisto took pity on you, kid," the dark-skinned teen barked. "Better thank him for this."

"Yeah, trailer boy! Thank him!" Ollie said.

"I was going to," Nori snapped. He knew his manners. What did being from a poor upbringing have to do with anything here? "So thanks, Kallisto."

Kallisto nodded. "Not a problem. Figure out a strategy and keep at it. You'll get it eventually."

Yeah, he just had to keep trying. Still, with how the lights could be random, that could be hard to prepare for. Even thinking on his feet, there'd be situations like when they were all way across the room from each other where it'd just be impossible.

"Anyway, looks like you're off for now. Want to hang out in the lounge with us?" Kallisto invited. "We're about to watch a movie."

"No, I think..." Nori paused. He pressed a hand to his head. "I want to think about this some more."

Eddie gave him a funny look. "Suit yourself." He had derision in his tone, but ultimately didn't seem to care one way or another.

Kallisto nodded. "Just remember, it's good to take breaks from time to time. Push yourself too hard, and you'll just burn out." With this, the quartet left the arena.

He knew that much. Still, this wasn't the time to take a break. With a sigh, Nori sat on the bleachers to consider this some more. This was all just too much.

From first grade until fourth, Nori had a dear friend named Claris Willins. She was a child actress, yet chose to be friends with him despite being a poor boy from the trailer park.

She once mentioned that her schedule gave her no time for herself. That was why she wanted to get away from everything for a while. That's why she wanted to go on a journey. Go to school to work. Come back. Work some more. Only get to relax at night. Was this what she was going through?
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Sep 27, 2007
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There aren't in order because I read the chapter yesterday but other things came up and I didn't write the review until now.
*So further evidence Kallisto's the mature one of the Gym trainers. Presumably part of the reason he's the head Gym trainer though I'm not sure Volkner cares enough to select for that or if it's just because he's strongest.
*Volkner sure is...Volkner. The guy who always feels like he's rather be anywhere but here doing anything but this.
*So Nori didn't know what he was doing but still won over half his matches. I can only assume Volkner's junior trainers are just that bad due to having such an apathetic teacher.
*I doubt it's intentional but I imagine Nidorina's snicker having a sort of Muttley laugh.
*I really do find Nori and Nidorina's relation interesting. I can't recall many if any other Pokémon fics where a non-rebelling Pokémon acts this independently from it's trainer in battles or battle-like circumstances. That said Nidorina still has obvious anger management issues to work on.
*Ah, snitches get stitches. That never causes corruption problems at all! Too many adults never grow out of that mindset.
*You know, Nori's fight with Spike makes me wonder if the Pokémon world would have different schoolyard bullying problems. The scrawny nerd might have a Scyther or something. Might be why this school doesn't allow Pokémon.
*Nori is not exactly on a winning streak, is he? I tend to assume that's an important part of training, actually. Make sure they can cope with failure. People who never have to fail or deal with consequences sometimes react poorly when it finally happens.
*Insidious little test, but it makes sense as the kind of thing you would need to teach a trainer.
...It's probably a good lesson for a rehabilitator, too. Nidorina was sort of a rush job where he had not choice but to get it done quickly, but in a lot of other cases I imagine patience would be vital.

So, Nori has to get his Nidorina to pace itself, deal with potential problems at school, and most of the other Gym trainers still dislike him. What a grand time he's having!
It will be interesting to see what happens and the buildup to the ominous opening scene.

A sentence correction:
"Yeah fatty, but part you're left out is you blundered into it on your eighth attempt, and I got it second go then."
Should probably be "the part you left out" or "the part you're leaving out".
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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*So further evidence Kallisto's the mature one of the Gym trainers. Presumably part of the reason he's the head Gym trainer though I'm not sure Volkner cares enough to select for that or if it's just because he's strongest.
*Volkner sure is...Volkner. The guy who always feels like he's rather be anywhere but here doing anything but this.
Given Volkner, it could be either or!

*So Nori didn't know what he was doing but still won over half his matches. I can only assume Volkner's junior trainers are just that bad due to having such an apathetic teacher.
Not necessarily. Keep in mind Nori beat Gasha Qian too, and all the Gym Trainers have been said to be good trainers. Battling isn't all skill. That aside, Nori *does* have a general idea of what he's doing. You might already be able to see the direction I'm going in for this, in fact.

*I doubt it's intentional but I imagine Nidorina's snicker having a sort of Muttley laugh.
More like a delighted one. Almost like the kind a villain might do when a hero proves to be just like them. Except it's in a positive, bonding sort of context.

*I really do find Nori and Nidorina's relation interesting. I can't recall many if any other Pokémon fics where a non-rebelling Pokémon acts this independently from it's trainer in battles or battle-like circumstances. That said Nidorina still has obvious anger management issues to work on.
It really stands out, doesn't it? In fact, it does stand out in-universe as well.

*Ah, snitches get stitches. That never causes corruption problems at all! Too many adults never grow out of that mindset.
That can be said about a lot of childish things, sadly.

*You know, Nori's fight with Spike makes me wonder if the Pokémon world would have different schoolyard bullying problems. The scrawny nerd might have a Scyther or something. Might be why this school doesn't allow Pokémon.
An interesting thought! Throw Pokemon into the mix, and bullying can take on very different avenues.

*Nori is not exactly on a winning streak, is he? I tend to assume that's an important part of training, actually. Make sure they can cope with failure. People who never have to fail or deal with consequences sometimes react poorly when it finally happens.
*Insidious little test, but it makes sense as the kind of thing you would need to teach a trainer.
...It's probably a good lesson for a rehabilitator, too. Nidorina was sort of a rush job where he had not choice but to get it done quickly, but in a lot of other cases I imagine patience would be vital.
Let's say for now that I have things planned for this. :D

A sentence correction:

Should probably be "the part you left out" or "the part you're leaving out".
Whoops, fixed up the you've. Not having 'the' before 'part' was intentional, though. Non-standard dialect thing.
The #1 Deerling Fan!
Aug 10, 2015
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Alright, another good chapter as usual. Good to see Nori making a new friend in Lux, though I am curious as to why the latter is so shy. I still don't like Tono and Eddie, as they're just being needlessly rude to Nori, even ordering him to thank Kallisto. I hate it when people do that, as I've been through that many times before. But that's just me, and I know you have plans for them. I'm curious to see how this plays out. Good to know Kallisto is willing to lend a helping hand, even if he seems a bit on the unintentionally insensitive side, what with saying he's not perfect but still very close to being such. References to the Claris one shot at the end are a nice touch. Anyway, good job! I can't wait to see what's next!
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Alright, another good chapter as usual. Good to see Nori making a new friend in Lux, though I am curious as to why the latter is so shy.
Hm, twice you mentioned that now. I didn't actually have much planned to explore this, but came up with an explanation for later. Also, they aren't friends yet, but yeah. Should be obvious even without your preview that's where it's going.

I still don't like Tono and Eddie, as they're just being needlessly rude to Nori, even ordering him to thank Kallisto. I hate it when people do that, as I've been through that many times before. But that's just me, and I know you have plans for them.
It was Ollie and Eddie who were ordering him to thank Kallisto. Though Tono is needlessly rude, too. Just in a different self-superior sort of way from the other two. And they dunk on each other sometimes too, so it's not limited to him.

Good to know Kallisto is willing to lend a helping hand, even if he seems a bit on the unintentionally insensitive side, what with saying he's not perfect but still very close to being such.
Characters of his archetype, or really people who have it all perfect even in real life, can kind of be that way.

References to the Claris one shot at the end are a nice touch. Anyway, good job! I can't wait to see what's next!
Fun behind-the-scenes: that was much more vague at first, or some bits not in at all. But the summer one-shot and sorting out exactly what happened in it allowed me to expand it better. The Claris allusions really ended up helping.
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Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Month 1: January of Meetings (third part)
January 19th, 2015

Nori never minded going to school; he felt it was the opportunity to learn for his future. Despite now being set to become a Pokemon Rehabilitator, he found himself looking forward to school more often. It was the only chance he had to get away from the training at the Gym. He thought he was going to enjoy learning to become an official, yet it was nothing short of frustrating. He could only relax in the evenings, and by then he was often too tired to do anything. The parallels to what Claris said she went through were not lost on him.

Yet school was nothing he hadn't seen before. After what happened the other day, he was sure he wasn't going to get trouble from anyone. Plus he could relax at recess and lunch.

He found himself lost in thought during the afternoon, particularly when the teacher briefly left. What was he going to do when he got back to the Gym? It probably wouldn't be the target test, as that was a weekend thing. So what would Volkner - or the Gym Trainers - have in store for him today?

"Okay, class." He was brought out of it by Mrs. DeWood reentering the room. Nori so far considered her a decent teacher, besides being too distracted to pay attention to students who needed help. The blonde woman was wheeling a cart into the room. "We're going to be doing something a little different in Science period."

Different? That sounded great to Nori. He hated monotony. He was the type of person who'd try something different just for the sake of it.

"Today, we're going to be dissecting flowers." She picked up a bag from the lower shelf of the cart and placed it on her desk. It was stuffed with all sorts of colorful plants that Nori couldn't identify. Atop were several containers. "You'll need to separate and identify each part of it correctly."

This was very different. They'd been learning about cells, with a bit of Pokemon biology stuff mixed in. Plants had been touched on, but barely. Did something happen that necessitated a lesson change, or was this leading into something?

"We only have enough for half the class, so you'll be working in pairs. If you're in an odd column, partner up with the person to your right. If you're even, to your left."

Guess that meant he'd be pairing up with Lux. He looked over, smiling and nodding at the other boy. A cacophonous symphony rang out as desks scraped along the floor. Most met in the middle, although Nori had to move his all the way over.

The teacher continued to give instructions, almost shouting over the noise. "There's scalpels, tweezers, and containers up here. Work in those so you don't make a mess. Make sure to label everything."

As their desks met, Nori motioned to Lux. "Let's go get our things," he said. The purple-haired boy didn't answer, just anxiously staring at the cart. "Um?" With a shrug, Nori went to get it all himself.

The containers were clear plastic boxes around ten centimeters deep. Each had a paper towel and a sheet of unlined paper in them. The tools were held within individual cup holders. He grasped one of each between his fingers, grabbed a pink flower which he placed in the container, and took it back to their desks. He put the tools to the side and the rest in the center.

As the chairs were attached to the desks, Nori squeezed in on the right. He rolled his shoulders and stretched his legs out as he made it into the seat. This was actually convenient he thought. It would be a good chance to talk about what happened.

"So hey, why'd you run off the other day?" he asked.

The other boy again didn't reply. Nori continued to look at him inquisitively. After several seconds, he relented with a sigh. "I didn't want to take any more of your time."

"I mean you really weren't. I wasn't in a hurry or anything." If anything, it was time he didn't have to spend at the Gym. "I don't mind talking."

Lux hummed. It was more of a groan.

"Anyway, we should get started here." Nori looked in the container. Some sort of rose? Maybe? "Ugh, I don't even know where to begin with this," he admitted. He knew as much about flowers as he did about tax stuff. "I guess we should look in our textbook."

He retrieved the turquoise book from inside his desk. It was awkward to have the book open with the container in the way. "Mind having this on your desk so the book can be on mine?" The faintest of nods. Nori scooted the container over and flipped through to where they had left off. Sure enough, he found it a few pages later. The anatomy of a flower. The diagram wasn't showing the same type of plant, but it was close enough.

"Okay." He rotated the textbook vertically and brought the container back near the middle. Nori scrutinized the flower with uncertainty. With a shaky hand he reached out and picked it up with the paper towel. "I guess one to hold it steady, the other to take it apart. You want to do the dissecting? Or should we trade off?"

"Just stop, okay? Please."

Lux pushed the container towards him, knocking the textbook off the desk. Nori nearly dropped the flower trying to fruitlessly catch it.

"I know you're only doing this because the teacher made you. I always get left out of these things unless the teacher makes someone." The other boy turned away, refusing to face Nori. "So you don't have to pretend you like this."

"Jeez, what's your problem?" the chestnut-haired boy snapped. He couldn't help it. He put the flower in the container and tried to speak with less anger. "Of course I don't mind this."

"You're just saying that."

"No. I'm not," he insisted. "Why would I?"

"Because you're a cool kid and I'm not. You're the Demon Tamer, and I'm nobody."

"So?" Nori craned his head with a smirk. When his humorous irreverence didn't take, he spoke more earnestly. "Lux, look. I know you're really unpopular for whatever reason."

The purple-haired boy buried his face into the desk. "Because I'm short, quiet, girly-looking, cry a lot, and because Spike's a cool kid and he says so."

Nori blinked. "Okay." He was not expecting a self-conscious outburst. "But that doesn't bug me. Height doesn't matter and you'll grow taller, there's nothing wrong with being quiet, or being girly. Crying..." That was touchy. It really depends on how often he cried. "Well, it's okay to cry sometimes. And what about Spike? Screw him."

Nori deliberately said that last part louder and looked out to see the reaction. The tall boy glared, but didn't otherwise respond.

He picked the fallen textbook up. "So come on. If nothing else, let's stop making a scene and get to work." It wasn't lost on Nori that the little spat they were having over nothing had drawn like half the class' attention. He tried to inject some enthusiasm, "Nothing to do but do it. All right?"

Lux exhaled, slowly looking up. Nori watched carefully to see his expression. His partner wasn't smiling, yet he wasn't frowning either. He counted that as a victory. And come to think of it, his face was kind of feminine. Part of it was his hairstyle, too.

"...okay," the purple-haired boy eventually conceded. Nori himself breathed a small sigh of relief. He was worried there, and not just at the prospect of doing everything himself. Lux leaned over and pulled the container closer. On seeing the flower, Lux faintly smiled. "I'll dissect if you want."

"Sounds good," Nori agreed. "Don't really trust myself. But let me know if you want to switch, okay?"

That settled that. They set to work as if the incident between them hadn't even happened.


January 20th, 2015

"Did you really mean all that yesterday?"

As lunch hour rolled around on Tuesday, Nori found Lux calling out to him before he could leave. He didn't want to rush, so half of the class had already left by the time he was ready to. The purple-haired boy remained seated in his desk the whole time. Nori almost didn't catch his words; he spoke up as Nori had nearly made it out the door.

He returned and stood next to his next seat neighbor. "Of course I did," Nori said after a few seconds. "I mean what I say and say what I mean."

Lux sighed and stood to his feet. He gazed out the window, looking at nothing in particular. "A lot of people hate me, you know..."

"Well, I think you're all right." He was good-mannered. So far, Lux had been one of the few people who'd treated him like a person and not as a big celebrity or something. That in itself was a big plus. Come to think of it, he could be a good friend. He threw that notion out there without hesitation. "I actually wouldn't mind being friends with you, you know."

The other boy frowned. "Really?"

"Lux..." He really didn't believe him. Was he so beaten down by bullying that he didn't believe anyone could actually like him? What should he say about this? No, better keep it simple and to the point. A simple and sharp, "Yes."

The purple-haired boy continued to wear a worried, skeptical look. Nori reached out and patted his shoulder. "I mean it."

Lux sniveled. He snapped forth, latching onto Nori. "Thank you..." he squeaked, burying his head in Nori's shoulders and sobbing lightly.

Nori, while surprised, returned the gesture with one hand and patted his friend's head with the other. "It's okay," he said comfortingly. Nori looked around. Everyone else had left the classroom, even the teacher. Good thing nobody saw them hugging. But he wouldn't care if anyone did. Well, okay. Maybe a little.

"So," Nori said, breaking it off. Better stop now because of it. "Wanna eat lunch together?"

"S-sure, okay!" Lux replied with a delighted grin. "I know this good, quiet spot, too." Nori could see there was still disbelief on his face, but it was more positive. As if he never thought it could happen.

As the two new-found friends set out, a thought occurred to Nori. This was actually very close to how he met Maylene. He saw her being bullied, pushed those bullies around, and that's how they became friends. Funny, making another friend the same way.


Nori had a bounce in his step as he returned to the Gym after school. He would've walked home with Lux, if not for his friend's mother picking him up from school. His home was evidently within walking distance given how they first met, so doing that in the future or even walking to school together wasn't out of the question.

As he returned, the boy noted the unusual number of vehicles in the parking lot. Usually at after-school hours, there would only be Kallisto's white convertible, the various vehicles of the Gym's staff, and a few more depending on if there were challengers or people who came to watch Gym battles. Today, it was packed full. There were even cars parked along the roads. He'd seen this at the Veilstone Gym, but never here.

Nori entered to find a large gathering in the lobby. He navigated his way through to the staff corridor, which was blocked off with a chain. He hopped over it and made his way to the stairwells where he found the Gym Trainers chatting, all smiles.

"Hey guys!" he greeted. His curiosity about what was going on didn't affect his cheerful mood at all, and it came through in his tone.

Eddie turned, sneering at him. "What're you so happy about, kid?

He did a spin. "I made a friend at school today!"

"Ha!" Ollie snorted. "Took you this long to meet someone at school? You some anti-social dweeb?"

"I mean, a real friend," he clarified. "I've met people, just haven't made friends with any until now."

"Ass-kissers?" asked Eddie.

"None of those yet." Thankfully. Eddie nodded. There had been plenty of people trying to get in his good graces back home, even if they'd previously been jerks or indifferent to him. It was all Nori could do to try to be polite, but he couldn't help but call some of them out.

But putting that aside. He addressed the quartet. "Anyway, you guys seem happy yourselves!" Even Eddie only seemed annoyed at him for a moment. There was something in the air. "Does it have something to do with why there's so many people here?"

Kallisto put it simply. "It's exhibition day."

"What's that?"

Tono glared at him. "Really?" he asked, deadpan. "You do not know about the Sunyshore Gym's exhibitions?"

Ordinarily Nori might have snapped at that insult, but he was feeling too good to care about it. "Nope! What's it all about?"

The head Gym Trainer explained. "Every 20th of the month here, the Gym's open for anyone. You can challenge the Gym Trainers or Leader in unofficial battles. We battle each other sometimes too. You know, putting on shows for the crowd. The floor's open for anyone who wants to have it out in front of spectators, too. We even get out-of-towners who drop by for this."

That explained things! Trainers could be crazy about loving to battle. Sometimes they'd fight each other for the fun of it, nothing on the line but the chance to hold victory over another.

"We got the day off from school for this!" Ollie boasted with a laugh.


"H-hey!" the pudgy teenager stammered. "You're supposed to be jealous, stupid!"

He got that was the intent, but he didn't really feel jealous. In fact, he felt glad for them, if getting a day off school's what they liked. "So, where's Volkner? Is there going to be any training today?"

Tono pointed at the door. "He is in there supervising."

"Oh, that's right," Kallisto spoke up. "Volkner said to tell you that you don't need to participate if you don't want to, barring anyone challenging you. But he did say you have to watch."

Eddie chuckled. "Who knows? Maybe you'll learn a thing or two."

Nori allowed the insult to bounce right off. "Maybe I will."

"You shall," said Tono, "If you pay attention to Kallisto's upcoming battle."


After putting his backpack in his room, Nori decided to head to the balconies to watch the battles. He wanted to get a feel for what this exhibition day was like before jumping into it himself. And he knew full well if he was down there in the crowd, he'd get all kinds of challenges from people wanting to test their mettle against the infamous Demon of Veilstone. It was a common occurrence back home; some people even came knocking on his trailer looking to battle. At least his mom was good at turning them away if he wasn't interested.

Nori stood with the Pachirisu from earlier and an Elekid, as two Magnemites floated on either side of him. He had made it just in time to see Volkner walking to the center of the battlefield. "This will be a three-on-three battle," the Gym Leader said. "Select your Pokemon in advance. No switching. The first Pokemon will be sent out double blind."

The opposing trainer - one Yuuta Johnston - looked to be around Kallisto's age. Apparently, he was a challenger looking for some informal payback. He had wild green hair, being dressed in jeans as well as a white and blue sweatshirt. He chose his three Pokemon with no hesitation. Kallisto took longer to decide, around half a minute. He picked one immediately - probably his Raitora, Nori figured - and another shortly thereafter. He mused three different Pokemon for his last slot, before making a decision.

"All set?" asked Volkner. When he got nods from both of them, he stepped back. "Then start."

"Spaghetti, go!"

"Oricorio, the stage is yours."

Both trainers threw out their first Pokemon. Nori recognized Kallisto's Pokemon right away. He hadn't seen the elegant bird colored red before, but it came as no surprise given he'd seen it in two other colors before. The other was a walking, writhing mass of blue vines. Two of them were longer and thinner with red tips. Two beady eyes peered out from the darkness within.

"Hey!" Yuuta complained. "You changed it! That's not an Electric type!"

"I don't have to strictly use Electric Pokemon," Kallisto calmly said. "I hope you didn't select your team based off that assumption." From how the other trainer slightly hunched over, clenched his fists, and scowled, Nori figured he did. It was true, though. Actually, as far as he knew, the only person in the Gym to only have Electric types was Ollie.

Kallisto turned to the intrigued crowd. "Oricorio is a Pokemon found primarily in the Alola region." He would occasionally interact with the audience like this when obscure things came up in battle. "Depending on the nectar it consumes, its type and the type of its Revelation Dance move will be different." Kallisto had told Nori that this made the dancing bird a useful asset to his team. When he was forced to go monotype it would be another Electric type, and also a Flying type at that. But it could otherwise be Psychic, Fire, or Ghost depending on his needs. "Also–"

"Would you hurry up and get going?" Volkner asked.

Kallisto snapped to attention. "Sorry."

"That's fine!" Yuuta said. With a furious point, he wasted no time in launching the first attack. "This actually makes things easier! Spaghetti, Ancient Power!"

Mysterious rocks and stones with patterns rose out of nowhere around the Tangrowth. It launched them towards Oricorio, which proceeded to evade them with two simple hops to the right.

The head Gym Trainer nodded his approval. "Good dodge. Now give him an Air Slash!" The bird swung out its wings twice, sending out two blades of visible air. One made clean contact, and the Tangrowth actually dodged into the second one.

Yuuta cringed, but he and his Pokemon were ultimately unabated. "Head towards it!" A second later he added, "And use Poison Jab!" To Nori's - and from the gasps, a good chunk of the crowd's - surprise, Spaghetti didn't lumber there. It shoved its vines into the ground and vaulted towards the dancing bird.

If Kallisto was surprised by this, he didn't show it. "Incoming, Oricorio!"

The red bird scuttled away to avoid the body blow, but was in no position to avoid the follow-up. The mass of vines reached out and poked it with one of its long vines, the tip of which was glowing purple.

Kallisto nodded. "Mirror Move!" Oricorio chirped strangely, as if speaking some incantation. Abruptly, its wing tips began glowing purple. There was no doubt, Nori knew a Poison Jab when he saw it. It reached out and smacked the Tangrowth, which immediately started to recoil in pain. Oricorio looked back at its trainer, who motioned his approval to get some distance.

"Damn it! Are you okay, Spaghetti?" It shook itself, no, and shook again. The second was more of a shudder. "That poisoned, didn't it?!" Using a Pokemon's move against it? That was very different. Yuuta grit his teeth. "We're gonna get you for that!"


The battle raged on. Kallisto's Oricorio had no trouble defeating the Tangrowth. The challenging trainer sent out a Sudowoodo next which actually managed to bring down the dancing bird. The faux tree would itself take one of Kallisto's Pokemon's moves and use it against him, in this case Icy Wind. Of all the things for the head Gym Trainer to send out next, Nori was not expecting a Ludicolo. It easily dispatched the Sudowoodo, leaving Yuuta's Gliscor to take on it and whatever Kallisto had left.

The battle had been surprisingly even so far. Both Pokemon were suffering from persistent damage: Ludicolo from poison off a tail strike, and the Gliscor from a Leech Seed. Rain had been summoned, thankfully localized over the battlefield. Sudowoodo had managed to land one Icy Wind before going down, and the flying scorpion with the speed advantage had evaded a couple of attempts at the same move from Ludicolo. It had taken a vicious Bubble Beam however, and despite landing a couple Wing Attacks and a Night Slash itself, Ludicolo still had fight left in it.

"Time to end this!" Yuuta declared with a growl. "Swords Dance!"

Kallisto nodded. "There's the opening. Energy Ball, Ludicolo!" As the flying purple Pokemon began to spin around while grinding its claws together, the...dancing yellow, frog thing formed a bright translucent green sphere between its hands. Kallisto's Pokemon threw it with precision, but...

"Too late! It's over!" The Gliscor finished executing the move and took off, just getting a glancing blow. Kallisto flinched at this turn of events, but took it in stride with a smile. His opponent mustered all of his bluster and pointed fiercely. "Scorpio, ACROBATICS!"

Scorpio started to zip all around its foe in a stunning display of aerial maneuverability. The head Gym Trainer closed his eyes and smiled. Nori at that moment knew it was indeed over, but couldn't tell how it was going to end.

Kallisto opened his eyes. "Now, Ludicolo! Turn around and Hydro Pump!"

Yuuta was struck dumb as his Pokemon was blown out of the sky by a massive torrent of water right before it hit. "Wha-!? How?"

Kallisto placed his hands behind his back. "Your Pokemon kept approaching from behind whenever she used that move or Wing Attack. She was being too predictable." Nori himself picked up on its consistent approach, yet not the implications. Now that Kallisto mentioned it, he slapped his head for not realizing sooner. You need to mix it up in a real fight, so it should apply to Pokemon too.

"It's...not over yet!" Yuuta insisted. He shakily pointed at his Pokemon rising in defiance. "We can still go on!" The purple-blue Pokemon was pulling herself up with her claws, using one of the pillars as leverage while keeping a watchful eye on her opponent. Indeed, it seemed Kallisto hadn't quite won yet.

That was, until the Leech Seeds sapped away at her, draining what little stamina she had left and causing her to collapse.

"Kallisto wins," Volkner stated with a plain gesture.

"And that," came a voice from behind Nori. "That is how intelligent people battle."

The Pokemon were more startled than Nori was at Tono's abrupt appearance. In particular, the Elekid and Pachirisu immediately went on guard, electricity crackling from them both before they saw who it was. "Uh, sure?" the boy said.

"Battles are about brains. Mindful strategy will always prevail over mindless strength."

To this, Nori could only lightly smile. "Well, I beat you with strength, didn't I?"

Tono scowled. "Don't get so cocky. Your Pokemon gave you the edge in battle, not your skills." His haughtiness returned as he chuckled to himself about something. "You are a fool if you think you can rely on that forever."

"And you're stupid if you think I don't know that! Besides, didn't your ‘mindful strategy’ backfire in our battle?" he snapped. The Gym Trainer cringed, not having a retort. "Strategy is important, I know that much! That's why I'm training here!" Right?

Tono inhaled and exhaled. "So long as you realize that much." At this, he left.

Nori shook his head. If this kept up, tomorrow couldn't come soon enough. Actually, it couldn't anyway. He couldn't wait to see Lux again.


January 21st, 2015

From that day on, Nori and Lux hung out all day at school. The latter liked to spend lunch hour near the kindergarten classrooms. As the youngest students only had half-days, it was quiet and empty save for the two of them and the odd student who passed through from the outside. They spent their breaks getting to know each other.

What Nori appreciated was that Lux was interested in hearing about the rest of his life, not just the Demon. He was happy that he found someone to be friends with who was kind and accepted him. Lux just seemed happy to have a friend.

"Can I ask you something, Nori?" Lux suddenly said at one point.


The purple-haired boy pressed his index fingers together. "Why did you help me?"

There it was, the question he was surprised he hadn't been asked sooner. He put it simply. "I didn't want to do nothing. You were freezing, and they were being dumb." The boy shook his head. "They had no reason to do that, it was too much. I hate those kinds of bullies. They're the worst. Wasn't the first time I stood up to one of them."

Lux slowly nodded. "Were you..." He spoke up, hesitantly. "Bullied yourself?"

Nori blinked at the perceptiveness. "A little," he admitted. "Most stopped bugging me when I yelled or hit back. I'd even stop others' bullies sometimes. But there was this one rich kid, Tarou Daikoka. He hated me. Probably still does. Long story."

"No wonder you're so tough," Lux remarked. "You had to be."

"Guess that's one way of looking at it." He shrugged. He got in trouble sometimes for fighting back (or doing worse), but it was worth it. "Well, enough about me for now. How about you, Lux? What's your life like? And your family?"

The other boy nodded. "My mom's a civil engineer and my dad repairs vacuum cleaners. I'm just, well. Me. I don't think I'm very interesting."

"Heh. I'll be the judge of that," Nori declared, getting a small laugh from Lux. He patted his friend on the shoulder. "I think everyone's interesting, once you get to know them."

Lux smiled. "I guess."


January 22nd, 2015

The conversation on Thursday was mainly about hobbies and interests. "So what do you like to do, Lux?"

The other boy quickly shook his head. "Nothing, really."

"Come on!" he encouraged. "You have to like something. What do you like?"


"Who doesn't like those? What else?"

"Pokemon, I guess," he said more quietly. "And um..." Nori leaned in closer. "Promise not to laugh at this?"

"I won't."

Lux blurted it out quickly. "I like flowers."

"Really?" Nori had to swallow a chuckle at that. It was at the irony rather than making fun of him, but he said he wouldn't at all. "I bet Monday was actually really fun for you."

"Um, it was. But well, what do you like?" Lux waved it off and changed the subject.

"Oh." If he wanted to, he was fine with that. "Well, I like going outdoors and exploring! Haven't been able do that here, though. I like science, and I like helping people. Oh, and I also like listening to the radio."

Lux's eyes lit up, "Really?" he marveled. "I like the radio too. I really like the radio dramas."

Nori grinned. "Me too! They were all I had back in the trailer. I still do. Been following one called Crime by Starlight lately."

"That's my favorite!" Lux grinned back at him. "They really left off on a cliffhanger with Tybalt last time, didn't they?"

"Yup. Can't wait to see what happens next." Something decisively in common! They were going to have fun talking about this.


January 23rd, 2015

On Friday, Nori decided to do something different. He invited Lux to come see the Gym with him after school. Lux accepted, telling his mom as she came to pick him up. She eyed Nori for the longest time, but reluctantly allowed it, saying she'd come get him at around 6pm.

As they got in the doors, Volkner was waiting just inside the lobby. The Gym Leader's eyes narrowed as they fell upon the purple-haired boy.

"Who's this?" he harshly asked.

"Lux. He's my friend." What, did he think he brought a criminal or a spy here? That's what it sounded like he thought.

"Why's he here?"

Nori's hands balled up. He exploded into a rant. "What, am I not allowed to spend time with my friends? Is there something wrong with showing a friend around the Gym? Is that not allowed, or is it something else? I have to start training when I get back from school every day! Everyone else–"

"Ugh, whatever." Volkner waved a hand repeatedly to dismiss them as he walked away. "Just don't make this a habit."

After he left, Lux turned to face Nori, mouth slightly open. All he could say was, "Wow." Both awe and awkwardness in his tone.

Nori rubbed his neck. "He's an okay teacher, but..." He huffed, considering this. It was good to get things off your chest. And he trusted Lux to listen. "...he can be frustrating at times." Truth be told, he wasn't expecting yelling to work. He was ready to storm off and figure out something else to do. But he wanted to hang out with Lux today, one way or another.

He thought. After a moment, he motioned to sit. May as well hang out in the lobby for now. It was empty aside from the staff. There were cushioned chairs, plus tables if they wanted to eat. Nori gave a wave to the receptionists and concessions clerk, who all returned the gesture.

"Have you ever been in a Gym before?" Nori asked.

Lux shook his head. "Not since I was six and watched my big brother here."

"You have a big brother?"

"He's ten years older. But he left four years ago to go journey in other regions." The purple-haired boy looked down. "He and my parents had a big fight before that. So I haven't heard from him since."

"That's part of why I don't like journeys. You have to leave all your friends and family behind. I couldn't do that." Nori closed his eyes. He abandoned Claris by not joining her on hers, but there were other reasons.

"I do miss him."

"I'd miss everyone too. Actually, no," he corrected. "I do miss everyone. Everyone back home...I still wonder how they're doing." He hadn't had the chance to write any of them. How was Maylene, his mom, Rashid, and everyone else he knew doing? Were they thinking about him sometimes, too? The chestnut-haired boy lightly smiled at his friend. Without him, he'd feel much worse. "But, at least I have you here."

Lux smiled back, nonverbally expressing he shared a similar sentiment. At that moment, a thought occurred to Nori: he was likely Lux's first real friend. He shuddered thinking about what it would be like without any.

"What is this?"

The voice of Tono cut in. Nori turned with a grumble to see the Gym Trainers on the approach from the right hall. Kallisto's eyes were wide in surprise. Eddie and Ollie were both sneering, whereas the bespectacled teen was giving them an empty yet hostile look.

Eddie stepped ahead of the pack. "You brought a chick here?"


"What?!" The two almost spoke at the same time, but Nori's was more delayed. "No! Lux is a guy, first of all! Second, why's it a big deal that I brought a friend?"

The four took pause, exchanging glances. Ollie was the first to speak. "Really? That's a guy?"

"What do you mean, really?" Did they want to see Lux's wiener as proof or something?

Eddie raised his palms in defense. "Believe you," he said, adding the most insincere chuckle Nori had ever heard. "Thought he was a chick, that's all." Understandable given Lux's appearance, but he didn't get why they were making such a fuss.

"Yeah, he looks like a fa–"

"All right!" Kallisto interrupted Ollie mid-word. "Calm down guys, it's no big deal."

The pudgy teen huffed. "Fine."

"If you say so." Tono didn't show any physical reaction.

Eddie shrugged. "Sure."

Kallisto nodded and flashed a smile. "Go have fun with your friend. We'll be hanging out in the arena if you need us." He motioned for the three to follow.

As soon as Nori was sure they were out of earshot, he growled in frustration and lightly stamped a foot. "And now you've met the guys." He made no attempt to hide how he felt about most of them. Lux was fixated on the hall they had gone down. "Something wrong?"

"That was Kallisto Keravnos..." the purple-haired boy said with wonder.

"Yeah, it was."

"You get to train with him?"

Nori sighed. "Had to fight him and he crushed the Demon without even breaking a sweat." He looked around. Still no one here except them and the staff. But to be sure, he spoke his next words quieter. "To tell you the truth, I feel so worthless compared to him."

That was something he hadn't told anyone. He barely told it to himself. But he felt comfortable telling it to Lux. His friend wouldn't make fun of him for it.

"I know what that feels like..." Because of that. He was so nice and put up with so much bullying himself, that Nori felt he could fully trust him not to mock him for this. "But, I know you're very strong yourself, Nori." Lux reached out and touched his shoulder with assurance. "Don't feel bad. Even my big brother had trouble with him, and that's when Kallisto was a pretty new trainer himself."

Yes, that did make sense. Nori had forgotten. While he was nowhere near as strong as Kallisto, he had little to be ashamed of. He was still good. Better than most trainers at his level were. Just not crazy cheater good.

"You know, that was really nice."

"What did I do?"

He looked his friend in the eyes. "That was some nice encouragement, Lux. It helps a bit." He returned the shoulder pats. "Thank you."

"Well, I didn't do that much, I just..." Lux giggled lightly, his cheeks turning flush red.

Nori looked up at the clock on the wall. 3:51pm. "So!" he said, standing to his feet. "Wanna go upstairs? Most people can't go to that part of the Gym!"

Lux nodded. "Okay."

He wasn't sure if he was allowed to do this or not. But he figured it was better to apologize later than ask for permission now. Besides, Volkner was hard to reach when in his private area.

As they went up the stairs, Nori gave Lux a small tour. "Up here's a bunch of staff stuff. There's training rooms for people and Pokemon." He gestured to the lounge. "Gym Trainers hang out over there." He opened the door and briefly showed his friend around. "I live and sleep in a room just down the hall. Let's head there."

They continued to walk through the halls. When they rounded the corner, Nori saw a familiar blue and white squirrel wandering about. As it spotted them, it came hustling over.

"Oh, it's a Pachirisu!" said Lux.

It quickly reached them, jumping around the two with joy. "Yeah. Some Pokemon roam around the Gym. Volkner said it was an image thing. Security too."

Lux squatted down. It turned around and waved its tail. The purple-haired boy held out a hand, which the squirrel playfully whapped. "Wow! He's so cute!" So it was a he? He hadn't learned of the gender differences for Pachirisu yet, but supposed Lux must have. "Is he yours, Nori?"

"No, but he sure does like me." The Pachirisu rubbed his cheeks against Lux's. "Seems to like you, too."

The other boy stood. "I like Pokemon. I'd like to own them myself, but...well. Mom and dad aren't keen on it."

Nori took a guess. "Because of your big brother running off?"


"Heh, funny," Nori remarked. "Opposite of my ma. She used to insist I get into Pokemon. I didn't want to, but, well. I did anyway." Nori still in some ways couldn't believe he was here with the Demon when he wanted nothing to do with Pokemon half a year ago. He flashed Lux a thumbs up. "I'm sure you'll be able to have them eventually. Not like your parents can keep you from it forever."

Lux looked up a bit, but his expression didn't change. "I wish I could sooner, though."

"Yeah, I can get that." Lots of people get into Pokemon as kids. Starting out as an adult isn't unheard of, but most adults either step back from Pokemon or make a career out of them in some way.

Nori decided to change the subject. "Anyway, you know what happens today, right?"

Lux took a moment to realize. "Oh! New episode of Crime by Starlight!" he said. Nori nodded and grinned. That was the other reason he wanted to hang out with Lux. So they could listen to their radio drama together. "I almost forgot about it!"

Nori unlocked his door. "Yup! And it starts soon!" Every other Friday at 4pm, with repeats periodically from there. They went inside in eager anticipation.


January 31st, 2015

The rest of the month flew by for Nori. School became enjoyable with Lux to hang out with every day. The stuff at the Gym had become a routine, for better or worse.

The Gym was closed on the last two days of every month. This was to allow more thorough maintenance and repairs to be made to the Gym that couldn't be done on half-day weekends. As Volkner was taking these days off himself, Nori had no training scheduled. In fact, the Gym Leader gave him authority to oversee the maintenance crews and make sure they were doing a good job. He had a bit of fun going and yelling at the adults from the balconies.

As Nori ate his lunch, the door creaked. He had left it open to make sure the workers were actually working instead of looking at their phones. Nori alertly turned, not noticing immediately due to the one responsible being so small. But the Pachirisu quickly spotted him and came bounding onto the table. Nori had to push his bowl of chicken soup aside as the squirrel carelessly allowed his tail to go wherever.

"Hey...no." He held his tuna sandwich over his head as the Pokemon sniffed at it. Bread and ramen together was a delicacy back home, and he hadn't yet gotten used to it being so readily available here. The Pachirisu peered at him, eyes wide. "You really want some?" he asked.

The squirrel's tail started swishing. Pokemon could eat people food okay most of the time, as he learned. A squirrel that likes fish, though? Not questioning it further, Nori pulled a piece off and placed it down. With a squeal, the Pachirisu snatched it and scurried to a corner of the room, where he sat nibbling at it.

He polished off what was left of the soup and sandwich, rinsed the plate and bowl he used in the sink, and sat in one of the sofa chairs. Soon after, the door opened again. The boy looked over his shoulder and sighed a bit when he saw who it was.

"What are you doing here?" Nori asked. The Gym Trainers had the day off too. Everyone else had chosen to do whatever else instead of coming in to train, and Kallisto wasn't here earlier. Why was he here now?

"Eh." The handsome teenager took his coat off. "Had a moment and was in the area, so I thought I'd stop in."

Well, it was nice that he came by to say hello, but Nori wasn't sure how to feel about this. He and Kallisto weren't really friends. They might be able to be, if not for the other Gym Trainers.

Kallisto sat on the large sofa. There were three comfy places to sit in the lounge: the one-seater Nori was on, the two seater across from him, and the sofa that four of them could cram into. "So, you've been at this for a month now," the heterochromic teen stated. "Nice to have a couple days off?"

Nori was silent. He decided to lay his thoughts bare. "More nice I get a break from those guys." Kallisto was reasonable, at least.

The teen nodded. "Yeah, sorry about them. They can be a little..." He paused, and Nori cut in.

"Rude? Egotistical? Stupid?" All of the above?

Kallisto just laughed. "They're good at heart, at least. Can't deny their skill, at worst."

If they were good at heart, Nori hadn't seen any of it. They even took snips at each other and rarely Kallisto, some of which was mean-spirited rather in good fun.

"How about your training? How's it coming?"

Again, he decided to just say what was on his mind. "Pretty bad," he admitted. "Still haven't gotten the target test down, and the other stuff's getting hard. How am I supposed to know Galarian books from a hundred years ago?!"

Kallisto leaned back, placing an arm on the sofa. "I thought so," he said. "Volkner can be aloof like that. Plus he likes to throw you in the deep end and see if you can swim or not."

The deep end.




"Something wrong?"

Nori opened his eyes. "Never mind," he said, untensing. Dumb metaphor. "I've been doing okay so far. But I don't know if I can keep this up. Especially if he's not interested like you said he might be." The Gym Leader certainly was acting indifferent towards him at times. That would explain a lot.

"From what I know, you're an assignment from the Officials for him." That would make sense. Nori guessed even officials would have to do weird things sometimes. "He probably doesn't care for some of things they want him to teach you. Wish I could do something to help."

Nori lowered his head. When he first got here, he was excited. He was going to train under the best Gym Leader in the region, which meant he would be able to get the best help available. But none of that meant anything if Volkner wasn't willing to train him.

Kallisto abruptly stood with a snap of his fingers. "Got it! Want to train under me?" The slightly chiseled teen walked over. "All the guys do it. I'm always willing to help those who need it. I can't help with everything, but I should be able to teach you a thing or two about battle. Eleventh grader too, so I can help with school too. How about it?"

He was offered a handshake. Training under Kallisto. If he was good enough to defeat the Demon, he would know how to train Pokemon. Even the Gym Pokemon had trouble with Nidorina; she'd beaten them all in sparring matches except Volkner's Luxray. The Leader wasn't willing to teach him Pokemon strategies or training techniques yet. Here was Kallisto offering to do just that.

But no. Nori shook his head. If he did this, it'd just be like giving up and taking the easy way out. "Sorry," he said. "Do appreciate your help sometimes. But I'm fine for now. Don't need it, or want it."

Kallisto frowned in dejection, but nodded. "Think about it. Offer stands." He started towards the door, grabbing his coat. "Anyway, all I wanted to talk to you about. See you." He waved.


Kallisto left, and as soon as he was gone, Nori cursed himself. He didn't regret his choice. Yet part of him was wishing that he had taken that offer on the spot. This was too much. He had to balance school with training, all while dealing with a Gym Leader who didn't care and Gym Trainers who seemed to want to make his life miserable. Nori was one not to back down from adversity. Whether it was the authorities with the Demon, a popular rich kid trying to ostracize him, or just a tough test in school, he always rose to the occasion and got the job done.

This time was different. This time it seemed that no matter what he was doing, none of it mattered. He was making no traction or going in circles with the training. And he couldn't do anything about the Gym Trainers. They wouldn't stop, and he couldn't get physical with them when they were so much bigger and more numerous.

For the first time in his life, Nori Carino was worried that he wouldn't be able to succeed.

Didn't mean for this to run long. But when you have a recurring plot thread centered around a day of the month, it's probably a good idea to show the first instance of it.
The #1 Deerling Fan!
Aug 10, 2015
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(Copy-pasted from FFN)

Man, the more I read about Eddie, Ollie, Tono, and Volkner, the more I grow to hate them. What is their problem? It seems like the former three get off on picking on Nori every chance they get for little to no reason, even picking on Lux and making a big deal of him bringing a friend to the gym. And considering the ominous opening scene in the beginning of the story, I'm kinda scared of what's to come, though in a good way. I'm especially surprised that Volkner didn't seem to take Lux's appearance at the gym too well. What's so bad about showing someone around the gym? Or does it have something to do with Lux's brother having battled Kallisto before? I can't say I blame Nori for feeling awful every time he goes to the gym, as the last paragraph of this chapter attests. I know I wouldn't want to be stuck with people like them. At the very least Kallisto seems to be trying to be nice to Nori and reach out to him. I kind of wish Nori had accepted his offer to train him. But hey, you probably have plans for this.

Anyway, getting to learn more about Lux is a treat! I am curious as to the history behind his brother's argument with their parents and why they were so against him leaving on a journey. But yeah, I'm already liking Lux a lot, and I found his bonding with Nori over a radio drama to be really cute and genuine, as I always made friends through common interests (Namely anime and manga, and the occasional video game). I hope we see more of Lux later in the story. Plus, I've been in Lux's shoes throughout my early school years, often getting picked on because of being a weird autistic kid who wouldn't shut up about Pokemon and anime and could be kind of annoying. Him feeling like nobody will ever truly like him because of who he is hurt me in the feels. I kind of wanted to jump in there and hug him. Anyway, another good chapter as always! I can't wait to read more! Have a good day!
Donate to Pikachu's legal defense fund
Sep 27, 2007
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*Not surprising from Nori's history he'd end up befriending Lux. Someone everyone else is again? Similar to "the Demon", in fact.
*I actually found myself checking Training A Demon to see if "Crime By Starlight" was the show from that opening scene, but it didn't seem to specify.
*Here I'm wondering if the others have a hidden good side or if Kallisto's just a bit too nice. I suppose we'll find out.
*And we see the dark side of Volkner's hilarious from the outside apathy.
*So it seems Nodirina can't beat Volkner's ace, like I guessed.

But no. Nori shook his head. If he did this, it'd just be like giving up and taking the easy way out.
Ah, Nori.
I can't shake the feeling Nori's on a collision course with his own pride right now, and it won't be ugly if he doesn't turn away in time. Looking forward to what happens next!
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Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Man, the more I read about Eddie, Ollie, Tono, and Volkner, the more I grow to hate them. What is their problem? It seems like the former three get off on picking on Nori every chance they get for little to no reason, even picking on Lux and making a big deal of him bringing a friend to the gym.
Given one line, they pick on just about everyone. With varying degrees of meaning it. As for the latter point, you'll see.

I'm especially surprised that Volkner didn't seem to take Lux's appearance at the gym too well. What's so bad about showing someone around the gym? Or does it have something to do with Lux's brother having battled Kallisto before?
"Why are you trying to relax? We have work to do."

Anyway, getting to learn more about Lux is a treat! I am curious as to the history behind his brother's argument with their parents and why they were so against him leaving on a journey.
I'd make an explanation, but I'm unsure if I'm going to have time to explain it in detail in-fic or not. It gets touched on later. So for now, make an assumption! It may well be a correct one.

But yeah, I'm already liking Lux a lot, and I found his bonding with Nori over a radio drama to be really cute and genuine, as I always made friends through common interests (Namely anime and manga, and the occasional video game). I hope we see more of Lux later in the story.
Well, I will say that you can look forward to more of him! He's been a delight to write, and a huge contrast to the guys at the Gym.

Plus, I've been in Lux's shoes throughout my early school years, often getting picked on because of being a weird autistic kid who wouldn't shut up about Pokemon and anime and could be kind of annoying. Him feeling like nobody will ever truly like him because of who he is hurt me in the feels.
A sad reality about some people in that situation.

*Not surprising from Nori's history he'd end up befriending Lux. Someone everyone else is again? Similar to "the Demon", in fact.
You know, that never occurred to me. It actually makes sense on one account though, so I might explictly go with it.

*I actually found myself checking Training A Demon to see if "Crime By Starlight" was the show from that opening scene, but it didn't seem to specify.
Not specified, but it's a different one. It was actually a reference that got mostly changed.

*And we see the dark side of Volkner's hilarious from the outside apathy.
Not caring is sometimes the worst thing.

*So it seems Nodirina can't beat Volkner's ace, like I guessed.
She's Gym Leader's ace level strength on her own. In a more even match...

I can't shake the feeling Nori's on a collision course with his own pride right now, and it won't be ugly if he doesn't turn away in time. Looking forward to what happens next!
Pride before the fall, and whatnot? A very fair observation to make and think of!


Status report: been out of it despite trying to work on month 3 stuff. Going slow, for reasons. I'll probably throw out some month 2 before the end of the year, though, so look forward to that.
Given power
Aug 20, 2007
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Month 2: February of Progression (first part)
February 1st, 2015

"Noticed you and that Pachirisu get along well."

On the morning of the first day of the new month, Nori was approached by Volkner in the halls. He had barely left his room when the Gym Leader accosted him. The aforementioned Pokemon was walking with the blond man, but immediately ran over and hugged Nori's leg.

"Well," Nori spoke, while peering down at it. "It's more he took a liking to me."

"I want you to train him."

"What?! Why?"

"What do you mean, what?" the blond man asked. "Don't like it?"

"No, I just..." He again eyed the Pokemon, who was beaming ear from ear at this news. Nori had to admit, he had a really silly reason for being uncomfortable. "I feel like such a cliche walking around with an electric rodent."

"Just do it," Volkner said with a light grumble. "It's the least cliche thing you can have here."

Well, that was also true. Shinx and Elekid were extremely common choices of Pokemon in Sinnoh. Jolteon was popular everywhere for being related to Eevee, and Pikachu moreso to the point of people not even being sure why it was so popular. Magnemite had its fans. Compared to the other Sinnoh native Pokemon, a Pachirisu would be a strange pick for an Electric type.

One thing remained on his mind. "But you didn't tell me why yet." Why spring this on him all of a sudden?

"Most trainers' Pokemon are caught early. They raise them and grow with them. This won't apply to most of yours, but you need to learn this skill in case you need it."

That did make sense. It didn't occur to Nori, but he'd be taking a very different path from almost every other trainer. They go out on their journey, find what they want to catch, and catch them. They get to raise the Pokemon from humble beginnings to mighty battlers, and probably fail at the very end to some overpowered veteran anyway. But not Nori. He would be getting Pokemon who probably had a lot of experience already, like his Nidorina. The opportunity to raise something from the start was certainly going to be uncommon for him.

"Well, I'm up for this! How about you?" He knew this was a rhetorical question, and just wanted to see how the squirrel would react. It did so by scampering up his body and sitting on his shoulder. He cringed, feeling like even more of a cliche at that. Lucky only Volkner was around to see. "Thought so," he said, with a bit of nervous apprehension.

"His ball's here." Volkner held out an ordinary Poke Ball. "You'll be graded on this."

Of course. He should've expected that. "Got it!" He clapped his hands. He wasn't unhappy about this, just a bit uneasy of how things would go. "Well, let's go..." His stomach chose that moment to remind him that he hadn't had breakfast yet. "Um, eat first. Then let's to the training room! Get some practice in."


February 2nd, 2015

Nori broke the news to Lux during lunch hour the next day.

"So he really is your Pokemon now?!" the purple-haired boy asked, his eyes nearly sparkling.


"That's so cool!"

"Only you'd say that about a Pachirisu." Nori chuckled, but this made Lux groan. He reassured him, "I don't mean it badly at all. Makes you who you are. You like cute Pokemon and aren't afraid to admit it. I like that, not being anyone but you no matter what. Just like I can say you're my friend, screw anyone who doesn't like it!"

Lux sheepishly smiled. He wiped an eye. "Thanks, Nori. Umm..."

He held out his arms. Did he want to hug right now? "Not now," Nori waved off. There were too many people around, including a girl who was walking up behind Lux. "Er?"

"Hey Nori!"

"Hey, uh...?" Who was this? Red hair, blue eyes...

"I'm Jamie! I sit behind you, don't you remember?"

"Oh, oh yeah! Sure." He only vaguely recognized her. She was wearing girlish clothing; even her pink jacket had frills and a flower decal on it. "What's up?"

"Wanna come see something cool?"

"See what?"

"That old cabin!" What old cabin? Before he could ask, she kept talking on. "It's with me and some of my friends."

"And me," said a taller boy who came walking in from behind. Nori scowled at the sight of the boy with spiked brown hair. He spared Jamie a side-glance. "Overheard 'em, and I ain't missin' this."

"Spike!" Lux gasped, immediately standing behind and holding onto Nori.

"Relax, crybaby," Spike assured, waving him away. "Not here for you."

"Well um, sh-should you really be leaving school grounds?" Lux said this to everyone. Neither Jamie or Spike gave him an answer, so he looked to Nori.

He shrugged. "It'll be fine. It's lunch, we have time." He looked up the clock. Fifteen minutes into lunch. "I think. So it sounds okay to me."

Jamie put her hands together, nearly beaming. "Great! I'll tell the others, and we'll leave right away!"

Nori turned to his friend. "Okay, let's go check out whatever this is, Lux."

Spike scoffed. "We were only invitin' you, so–"

"Hey, Lux is my friend, and screw you if you don't like it!" He looked back at his friend with a grin. "Either we both come or neither of us does!"

He was loud enough that Jamie actually overheard. She had been excitedly chattering with three of her friends over in the field, and she shouted back. "He can come, too!"

It only hit Nori at that moment that Lux might not want to come. He sort of passively volunteered him. But he could amend that. "Well, you coming?" Nori asked. Lux could say no. What mattered to him was that they were giving him a chance to.

But Lux did agree. "I guess..." He sounded tentative, but was willing to try this. Nori was relieved to hear this. That meant Lux wouldn't have to be by himself, nor would he if these people turned out to be undesirable.


The group left the school grounds and headed to the northwest. There were seven of them present. Besides them, there was Jamie's best friend Kelsey, and two others in her circle named Arty and Marie who appeared very close. They talked about various things along the way, although none that gave any clue to their destination.

As they had entered a lightly wooded area, Nori found himself walking alongside Jamie behind the others. "So Nori, you never told me," Jamie asked.

"Told you what?" He tilted his head.

"I asked you the first day at school if you wanted to hang out, but you never told me."

"Oh." That was technically true. Truth be told, she'd slipped his mind. She never brought it up again, so he assumed she didn't care that much. Guess he was wrong. "Well I guess I am now, aren't I?" She'd invited him on something, and now here they were, hanging out.

Jamie giggled at this. She reached out and grabbed his hand.


"Uhhh..." She was holding his hand. They were holding hands!

"Let's go out!"

"W-why!?" Nori stuttered.

He was trying to get away, but she kept her grip tight and pulled him a bit closer. "You're smart and cute. And cool, too."


"Not like, hot. But you are cute." She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.

Nori felt all the blood rushing to his face at once. He didn't hate this. But this was so much and so fast! One minute he was being invited to something, the next he was being asked out? Jamie was pretty cute herself, but this was too sudden! He had no idea how to handle this!

He begged for a way to get out of this for now. There had to be something, anything! He looked ahead at the others, noticing Spike lightly shoving Lux around. An excuse!

"Uh, hey!" He broke free and hustled on ahead. Spike swiftly turned around and put up his hands defensively.

"Relax, man. What's the deal? Just teasin' him."

"It looked more than that to me!" Not to mention his tone. Spike sounded more insincere with every word that was coming out of his mouth.

"Chill, man, chill." The tall boy chuckled.

Kelsey, a blonde girl who had a matching outfit to Jamie, gave assurance. "We were just talking with Lux. I'll make sure Spike doesn't bug him. Just go do your thing, okay?"

He sighed. Was that the point of this? To get Jamie alone with him so she could tell him she likes him? He would've preferred if she was just up front. He gazed at his friend. "Were they just talking, Lux?"

His friend nodded. "Y-yes..."

"Okay, good." He looked back at Jamie, who was holding her hand out. He still needed some time to process this. He'd need to spend more time with her to figure if he could like her too. "Well, I came here to see that cabin, so let's go." He smiled at Jamie. "For now." May as well keep the door open. For now.

This was enough to make the two girls smile back, and lead the way to their destination.


"There it is."

Jamie pointed down. They had come to the edge of a cliff overlooking a remote beach. There were a few trees around; they had to trudge a bit of urban wilderness to reach here. Nori figured it was about a 15 meter drop to...the ocean below.

"The old cabin."

"Gonna run away cryin'?"

"No...I'll be fine..."

The waves were crashing against the base of the cliff. They looked like they wanted to reach up and grab them, pulling them into their cold murky depths. And it was winter, so the water would be even colder. And the ground was slippery. They could easily fall from here and drown. This area was remote, and none of them had their Pokemon because of school rules. There'd be no one to help them except whoever lived there.

"What's wrong?"

Lux's concern brought Nori out it. "Nothing!" he yelped. "It's nothing."

As if sensing his weakness, Spike grinned maliciously. "Heh, you're not scared, are you?"

"No, I'm not!" Yes he was.

He took a deep breath. Just look at the cabin. It appeared old, maybe built over a hundred years ago. The wood was rotting, covered in moss and seaweed. There were holes in it that looked like they'd been patched over. Some of the windows were boarded up, and those that weren't were broken or just not there. The door stood out as the one thing that looked new, but even it looked like a makeshift piece of wood.

It didn't look very impressive, really. "What's so scary about this cabin, anyway?" he asked.

"You can't walk to it. You have to go by water or air," Jamie explained. "They say an old sea dog lives in it."

"I hear he catches Remoraid and eats them raw," said Kelsey.

A quivering Lux nodded. "I hear his Sharpedo eats anyone who gets too close."

"Pft. Probably just some tryhard." Spike laughed it off. The bully scratched his head. "Did hear even the cops want nothin' to do with him, though."

Nori was offered the binoculars by Lux. He had good eyesight, but gave them a look anyway. With them he noticed something he hadn't before. Instead of a eye-hole, knocker, or horseshoe, there was a set of teeth that looked like it came from some marine Pokemon on the rickety door. As he was trying to get a better look, it swung open.

Everyone gasped. "There he is!" Jamie quivered. Nori passed off the binoculars to her.

A figure emerged from the cabin. He barely looked human. He was wearing a brown full body coat and hat that were in tatters. He had a visible hunch and was walking with a cane made of bones. His gray mustache and locks looked more like a mesh of wires than hair. His face was shriveled up like a raisin, and his skin was an ashen gray. As he walked, Nori noticed one of his arms was prosthetic.

It went deathly quiet. No one around Nori dared make a sound. Nor did they move. It was like a Hypno had come along and entranced them all. Well, more precisely. They were scared, but they didn't want to look away.

What happened next happened in an instant. Arty's nose started to twitch. He vocalized, trying to hold it in. "Arty, no!" rasped Marie. The pink-haired girl tried to cover his mouth, but it didn't help. He sneezed. Loudly.

The sea dog immediately turned to face them. His visage contorted so much that looked like a monster.

Screams echoed around him. The others turned and ran. Nori was knocked over as Spike's huge form collided into his. He himself screamed as he lost his balance. The horrifying reality flashed through his mind at that moment. He was falling! He was going to fall into the ocean!

He fell. He felt like he was falling forever. This was it. This was how he was going to die. Drowning in the waters of another city, if not worse. He wished he'd listened to Lux. He wished he had never come along on this and just stayed there with him. He was falling,

He fell and finally hit his destination. He felt the coldness envelop his side. He immediately snapped to.

He had hit the snow.

Nori noticed seconds after that was still looking at the sea dog. The old man continued to glare at him. The boy stood, not taking his eyes off the man. His feet felt grafted to the ground. What was he going to do? The boy knew he couldn't defend himself, but the sea dog could only hurt him with a Pokemon. Or a gun. He wouldn't do either of those. Right? The coated man gave no answers and took no action, only continuing to glare.

Eventually, Nori turned and left, disinterested in waiting.


It took Nori a while, but made it back to school. Kids were still in the fields and playground, so it was still lunch break. A crowd of about fifteen to twenty people had gathered, including some familiar faces.

"Nori!" Lux was the first to notice him, followed by Jamie.

"You're alive!"

The crowd descended upon him. Lux ran in front, incidentally blocking Jamie who looked like she wanted to give Nori a tight hug. He swiftly found himself surrounded by his peers, from classmates to first graders. A barrage of questions came towards him.

"What happened?!"

"You okay?"

"Did you get away from the sea dog?"

"What did he do?!"

"You're not hurt, are you?"

"Nothing," Nori had to nearly shout to be heard over them, but once he did, they listened intently. "He just kept glaring at me without doing anything and I eventually left."

The crowd burst into awe intermixed with cheering. Nori could make out a few individual comments.


"You're like, a badass!"

"You stared him down?"


"You sure showed him, I think!"

A ringing interrupted this, cutting through the schoolyard. Nori huffed in relief. So this was what it meant to be saved by the bell. Any more of that, and he was going to be more flustered than he was with Jamie. He motioned to Lux and started out towards their classroom.


February 3rd, 2015

Nori sat at the desk in his room, scribbling away at a piece of paper. He was writing a letter to his mom about what had been happening over the past month. He asked her how she was doing. He told her about the Gym, and how things were much harder than he thought. He talked about Volkner, Kallisto, and the other Gym Trainers, not holding back his opinion on the latter. Of course, he made sure to tell her all about his new friend Lux, and mentioned Jamie as well.

Eventually, he laid down his pencil. Was that good? It was his first time writing a letter, so he wasn't sure. Maybe he could come back to it later. He'd have to write something to Maylene, too. He could mostly write the same things about the Gym and Lux, but of course he wanted to say more to her. That kiss was still on his mind from time to time...

Well, more importantly. He'd have to figure out how to send the letters. At least there was someone he could ask for help...

"Hey, Mr. Denzi?" He managed to catch him in the halls. The Gym Leader gave an empty stare that suddenly made Nori a bit afraid to ask this. He pushed through anyway. "Um, I wanted to send this letter to my mom. And another to my friend Maylene. But I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

Volkner's reply was swift and simple. "Just put it in an envelope, write the address and postcodes in the middle, and the return address in the top left." He paused, scratching his cheek. "I'll give you the stamp."

Yes, stamps. You needed those. That'd help if Volkner could get him those! But, there was another problem. "I don't know their addresses, though. Or their postcodes."

"Look it up."

"How am I supposed to do that?"

Volkner's reply was to turn and leave, shaking his head all the while.

"Hey! Don't walk away!" Volkner didn't respond, leaving Nori to ponder things as-is.

The addresses. He knew the streets they lived on, but that wouldn't be enough. What was he supposed to do here? Would he just not be able to mail them, unless they mailed him first? It looked that way, with Volkner not being willing to help him with that. The boy sighed.


One other person he could ask came to mind. Nori thankfully managed to catch the orange and pink haired teenager in the lobby as he was leaving for the day. He wanted to bring this up when none of the other Gym Trainers were around. He was worried they'd give him no end of harassment for something like this.

"Um, Kallisto?" he spoke up to get his attention. "I want to send letters to my mom and a friend of mine, just to let them know how I'm doing. But I don't know how. I know their street names, but not their address or their postcodes. Can you help me?"

As soon as Nori finished speaking, he cursed himself. This was silly. Kallisto said he'd be willing to help him with things. But something like this? It was too dumb. There was no way he'd do this.

Yet to his surprise, the head Gym Trainer smiled. "Sure thing, Carino. I'd be happy to help you." Nori nearly cheered. Yes! He'd actually be able to do this! Kallisto placed a finger on his chin. "Well. I know you lived in a trailer park, and I don't know how that works."

At once, the boy deflated. "I don't know either!"

"But!" and with this he raised his finger. "Got an idea. Does your friend know where you live?"

A nod. "Yes, she does."

"You can send her both the letters and tell her to deliver the other to your mom. That should work."

"It should!" Yeah, it'd be perfect!

"You said she lives on a named street?"

"I do! She lives on Okaiwa Avenue!"

"Okay." Kallisto turned to go somewhere, only to immediately stop on sight of someone. Nori recoiled. Tono was still here?! Kallisto greeted his fellow Gym Trainer warmly. "Hey, was just about to come get you. Carino needs your help with something."

Tono, help him? The two eyed each other, just as confused.


Kallisto borrowed Tono's laptop to bring up a map of Veilstone. He typed Okaiwa Avenue, zoomed in, and much to Nori's surprise, brought up a view of the street. You could do that? Suddenly, he found himself wondering who made these and what sorts of things they found incidentally.

"I do not understand why you will not simply send an email," Tono suddenly spoke up, mildly irritated.

Nori gave the honest truth. "We don't have an email. Neither does she. I don't even have a computer." They couldn't afford anything like that. Maylene was only slightly better off. She lived in a house, but had only basic things. She did have a computer, but her dad never let her use it.

The bespectacled teen sighed. "Ridiculous. How could you live without one?"

"Uh, I just do?" What kind of question was that?

As they were speaking, Kallisto had been slowly panning through the view of the street. "Do you see her house?"

Nori pointed. "Yes, it's that one there." It looked like an old picture. It didn't have a boarded up window, for example. But he'd recognize where Maylene lived anywhere. It was the only brown one on the block, so it was easy to remember.

"3320." Kallisto clicked something, and nodded. "I'll just write the postcode down for you." He scribbled it down on a piece of paper. "There, that's her full address."

"Great!" Nori clapped his hands and lightly bowed. "Thanks, you two!" They really did him a huge favor here! He was surprised Tono even helped him too. He wasn't even rude. The most he did was make that dismissive comment. Maybe he'd have to change the letter a bit in his regard.

"Anytime, Carino."

"You are welcome, I suppose."

With this, Tono got his laptop and the two Gym Trainers departed through the front doors. Nori smiled, and this time he couldn't help but cheer. He was actually going to be able to do this! Right as soon as he finished writing the letters.


February 5th, 2015

At school that Thursday, the students were asked to come up in front of the class and tell what they wanted to be when they grew up. This made no sense to Nori, this was a question you'd ask first graders. Who'd know exactly what they wanted to be at this stage of their life? Okay, besides weird edge cases like himself.

"Andrea Angel." They were going in alphabetical order by last name. The first to come up was this girl Nori couldn't describe as any way other than strange. She was dressed in all black, was wearing a spider armband, and had pale white hair and blue eyes.

"I'm thinking of becoming a Pokemon researcher," she said. Okay, that was fair enough. Lots of kids his age liked Pokemon. And you could really make a career of that. The teacher wrote something down before calling the next person.

"Lux Blomgren."

Oh, hey! Nori looked over to his friend with a grin. The purple haired boy stood nervously. He stepped out from his desk, legs shaking. He glanced out at the class, blurting out his answer without going to the front.

"I don't know."

Lux jerked down and buried his face in his arms. Several kids snickered. Nori sighed. It was hard for many people to perform in front of others. He wished he could reach over and give his friend a pat of reassurance. But he was too far away, plus everyone would see. The problems with sitting up front...

Mrs. DeWood had a light scowl on her face as she jotted something down. "Spike Caras."

With a proud grin, the tall boy powerwalked up front and center. He boisterously placed his hands on his hips. "Well, for starters, I want to go on a journey when I can." Nori had to roll his eyes at this one. Typical. "Besides that, music. Wanna be just like the Scrafty Bastards."

A few kids laughed. Nori included. It was immature, sure, but he couldn't believe Spike actually said that. The teacher scolded him. "That is an inappropriate word to use."

"Hey, it's their name!" Spike laughed as he went to sit back down. He gave Nori a glance as he passed by, as if daring him to do it too.

"Nori Carino."

His turn next. The boy stood and stepped in front. This would be his second time speaking in front of the class after his first day here. Like before, it was nothing to him.

"So um, I guess with me it's not what I want to be but what I'm going to be. So I'm going to be the world's first Pokemon Rehabilitator. That means I'm going to train Pokemon with serious issues that can't be handled by facilities and places like that. I'm already training to do that every day after school, over at Sunyshore Gym." Nori paused for just a second. Well if Spike was challenging him to be defiant, he could do that. "I also think this question's stupid,
because who really knows what they want to be–"

"That's enough. Sit down." Ah well, he tried. "Jerry DiCarlo."

As Nori sat down, his attention was taken by Lux looking over at him. There was envy in his indigo-colored eyes, but not of the negative kind. "You're so good at ta–"

"Quiet down!" the teacher snipped. Lux cringed in embarrassment, again falling into his arms. Nori eyed the teacher in annoyance. Why was she so riled up about two kids whispering to each other? Another reason why it was better to sit at the back...he'd just have to talk to Lux later.


Every day when Nori came back from school, Pachirisu would be waiting for him in the lobby. He would be greeted with a nuzzle or leg hug before they went up to his room. He'd put his school stuff inside, get Nidorina's Poke Ball, and come down to the Gym to start training.

Today he had been given free time to do whatever he wanted, as long as it was Pokemon related. Nori wanted to take the chance to get his Pokemon some exercise. He was about to send out Nidorina to join him and Pachirisu in running a couple laps around the arena, when the Gym Trainers approached.

"Hey, Carino," greeted Kallisto.

"Hey." It was nice to be greeted politely for once, but as he had been learning, they rarely approached him to just talk. They always wanted something. "Uh, what do you guys want?"

"We came to talk!" shouted Ollie. Well, yes. That much was obvious. But what else?

Tono rolled his eyes at his chubby companion and clarified. "We were just wondering why you are keeping your Pachirisu out of his Poke Ball."

He stepped towards them. "Because, he likes being out of his Poke Ball!"

Eddie snorted and shook his head. "You don't need to get so defensive."

"We're just saying. I know you were worried about your image and looking like a cliche. Having him out of his Poke Ball won't help with that." Kallisto lowered his head slightly. "Sorry if it came out wrong."

So they were just looking out for him? In their own twisted way. Nori had vented about this the first day, but as the week went by, he found himself getting used to it. Besides, another thought had occurred. "I mean, I've accepted having him," he said with a shrug. "May as well accept that if it makes him feel better."

The leader of the Gym Trainers smiled in approval. "It's a good way of thinking."

"Yes, I have to agree," agreed Tono, much to Nori's surprise. Tono was saying something positive? "Respecting your Pokemon is a praiseworthy trait."

"I think it's retarded."

Kallisto looked over at the chubby teen. "Ollie–"

"No, he needs to hear this!" He stomped up and got in Nori's face. The chestnut-haired boy didn't even flinch at first. "Here's the rule! Image matters!" Nori did have to take a step away at this point as saliva started flying into his face. "We do things and don't do things because of our image, and don't even try to lie! I know you do it too! You're gonna look like some idiot ten-year old walking down route with an electric rodent on your shoulder! No one'll take you seriously!" He waved his fist. "You need to show your Pokemon who's boss!"

Nori looked the others with a huff. Kallisto and Tono both shrugged. Eddie motioned as if to say it was all his. He breathed in before replying. "You're not making yourself look very good by saying all this that way."

The others nodded in agreement. Ollie gritted his teeth. "Oh yeah? Well I bet I could kick your dumb little rat's ass!" He faced the Gym Leader. "Can I do this, Volkner?"

The blond man actually was in the arena, albeit engrossed in some sort of electronics magazine. "Go ahead," he said, not even looking up from it.

"Ha! You're going down like a bitch, bitch!" Ollie punctuated this boast with a hearty laugh before strutting to the other side of the battlefield. Kallisto nodded to Nori before leading the others to the bleachers to watch.

Okay, a battle. Nori wasn't planning on this, and he didn't like his chances. No matter how much potential it had or training it was given to be a Gym Pokemon, Pachirisu was still inexperienced in actual battle. While it was true that there was only one way to get that experience, Ollie was still a Gym Trainer. And they wouldn't get any quarter from him.

The hefty teen twirled as he sent out...some sort of pancake Pokemon? It looked insane. It had two small fins and a wide yellow tail. "Stunfisk is a Ground type! You don't got a chance!"

This fish thing was a Ground type?! Great. "You're using basic type advantage," he said with a sigh. "That's nothing to brag about." Ollie twitched. Given the Gym's theming, it was likely part Electric too.

Pachirisu was ready, if uncertain. There was no one judging, which was fine by Nori. He didn't see the point of them in a non-official capacity. People just did it to feel important, as far as he knew. Plus it'd spare him from hearing the inevitable at the end of this.

"Let's crush'em quick, Stunfisk! Mud Shot!"

Here it came, the first Ground type move. "Look out!" he warned his Pokemon as the other fired the attack off. Pachirisu peered up and saw it. He yelped, just barely managing to hop away from the goopy ball. "Focus!" he told it. He was a bit slow to dodge there. Now what could they do in return? "Um, Quick Attack?"

Stupid Ground types. Half their options were gone here. Still, the blue and white squirrel charged in for a body blow at great speed. The Stunfisk didn't even attempt to dodge. Nori saw Ollie smirk, but it was too late.

"Revenge is a bitch!"

The flat Pokemon lashed out, whipping Pachirisu with its entire body. The squirrel cried out as he was sent tumbling across the ground.

Ollie pumped his arms. "Mud Bomb again! Hit this time!"

There was no chance to avoid this. Pachirisu was just getting to his feet when it landed, knocking him right back down. Nori hummed in frustration. What could they do here? All they had was Quick Attack and Super Fang! And Sweet Kiss, maybe.

"Again! Mud Bomb again!"

Damn it. "Come on, Nori. Focus..." he mumbled to himself. He looked to his Pokemon, but Pachirisu didn't even try to avoid this, getting knocked down yet again. That's right, he had to tell Pachirisu to dodge, otherwise he wouldn't do so! He wasn't like Nidorina. As little sense as it made!

Pachirisu pushed himself up. He was standing, but barely. Anything more than a light breeze could end this, though. "Try to get in close," he said.

"Uh-uh!" Ollie wagged a finger. "Finish it with Thunderbolt!"

That was it. It was over. The pancake-like Pokemon tensed and let loose with a burst of electricity. Even if he told his Pokemon to dodge, Pachirisu was in no condition to do so. He could only watch helplessly as his Pokemon's entire form was lit up by the powerful attack.

As it faded, Pachirisu remained standing for several seconds. He eventually shook himself off and appeared invigorated? What happened? Why didn't that work? Nori was dumbfounded, left to scratch his head. As was his opponent.

"Volt Absorb?" Kallisto called from the stands.

"Shit!" cursed Ollie. "Muddy Water!"

Wait, they were still in this! "Pachirisu–" His words died in his throat as he saw the attack that was coming. A wave of brown water a couple meters high, being thrown right towards them!

Nori screamed, scurrying to the side. "Run! Take cover!" Pachirisu ran, but it was hard to avoid a wave crashing across the entire battlefield. The squirrel was trying to get behind a pillar when he got swept up. And it was coming for him too! Nori ran as fast as he could, but there was just no escape! He heard the liquid getting closer, and eventually, it splashed against him.

"Ha ha! Pussy!"

Nori stopped at Ollie's taunt. The wave didn't sweep him up, it didn't wash him away. He didn't even feel anything. Did it get smaller? He looked down at his feet. They were waterproof, but were covered in grime. Ugh. That was going to be a pain to clean. But there was something more concerning. His Pokemon had been washed up right next him. He needed one look to tell Pachirisu was unconscious. "Oh no."

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Ollie threw his arms in the air and started jumping. "OH YES! I did it! I won! You're the best, Stunfisk!" He ran over and slapped his Pokemon's tail, as if giving a high five.

Nori stamped a foot. "Well, like I said!" he yelled. "It was Ground against Electric and I had no way to counter! Are you happy you won an unfair fight, jackass?"

"Your Pachirisu knows Grass Knot."

"Huh?" He looked to see it was Volkner who had spoken. He was looking up from his magazine, a look of utter disappointment on his face. "I didn't know that."

"Oh." Ollie realized it too. If Nori had known that, his choice of Pokemon wouldn't have been so perfect. He quickly regained his demeanor, nearly doubling over as he pointed. "But hahaha! You're completely retarded if you don't even know your Pokemon's attacks! Haha! I beat you! Suck my dick!"

The other Gym Trainers spared him no mercy either, ranging from Kallisto giving him a blank stare to Tono's utter disgust. "You need to use your brain," the bespectacled teen said, patting his black hair.

"Fuckin' dumbass," Eddie said. "First rule of Pokemon battling, learn their moves."

Even Volkner got in on it. "You also completely quit and let your Pokemon get beat. You lose every battle you don't try in."

Kallisto was glancing away. Eventually, he spoke up as well. In a neutral tone. "I don't mean to pile on, but he's right. It wasn't fair to your Pokemon to just leave it out there like that."

That much, he could admit. He cradled his injured Pokemon in his arms for a moment. "I'm sorry, Pachirisu," he whispered. "I'll...try to get better. For your sake." For now, he did bring the squirrel Pokemon back to his ball.

Nori looked up to see Volkner was leaving, and Ollie was dancing over to him. "Was I so good you just gave up?"

"Screw you." Nori tried to push him, but Ollie kept his distance, blowing a raspberry.

"Quitters can't win! Stupid!"

"I know that!"

"And yet you quit." Tono's words were dripping with venom.

"Stop it!"

"Guys–" Kallisto tried to play mediator, but it was falling on deaf ears.

"I don't think he's stupid at all," Eddie sarcastically declared. "I think he's smart, actually! He knows when to give up! Because he knows he'll never be better than any of us!"

Nori marched over. "Say that to my face!" he yelled. He had to start fighting back. In fact, he was ready to punch Eddie when Kallisto jumped up and interposed.

"Calm down!" he ordered. "All of you!" The other Gym Trainers' eyes went wide, all of them nodding. "Now, Nori–"

"Don't even bother!" he cried out. "I know! I'm bad. I'm just a new trainer who happens to have one very strong Pokemon. She does most of the fighting for me. That's why I'm so bad with Pachirisu." He was a strong-hearted person. He'd put up with a lot of crap in his life. But this was just too much. He could barely fight back against any of this.

He didn't notice Kallisto walking over. He only realized he was even there when the older boy reached out put a hand on his shoulder. "I was going to say, you were right. That really wasn't a fair fight for you." He looked at the back doorway. "I think Volkner only let Ollie do it to teach you how to deal with a harsh loss."

"I know how to deal with it." He hated failure. He hated messing up. He'd recovered from a lot of things before. All you can do is just pick yourself up and keep going. Maybe try to fix things if you can. As he tried to by saying, "I could do without all the insults, though."

Eddie snorted. "Just a bit of trash talk. Relax, you wuss."

Kallisto glared. "Leaving that aside," he said, not even caring to dignify it. "No matter what happens with your Pokemon Rehabilitator job, you're very likely going to end up having to be a trainer. When you do that, you're going to run into a lot of people who are just better than you. All you can do against those people is train harder and come up with a strategy to win. You can't let setbacks get you down."

Nori could only nod at that. He never wanted to be a trainer. He wanted to do something meaningful with his life. That was part of why he ended up becoming a Pokemon Rehabilitator. It occurred to him that he might have to be a trainer anyway by doing this, but his experiences here were validating just about every reason why he hadn't wanted to become one. How could he match up against people who'd been at this longer than him?

"And Ollie," Kallisto said, taking on a far harsher tone. "Pushing around someone doesn't make you a good trainer. It makes you a bully. Stop. You're going too far with that attitude of yours, and disgracing us Gym Trainers."

The pudgy boy sighed and lowered his head. "Yes, man...sorry about that, Carino." He said this, but it was clear he didn't really mean it.

He turned to the other Gym Trainers. "You two good too?"

Eddie nodded. "Okay."

"Said my piece," Tono replied.

"It's settled then." He looked back to Nori. "Want to grab a bite to eat with us? We're headed to Wet Rock Diner. My treat."

"I just want to lie down."

He received a funny look for that, but Kallisto shrugged. "Get some rest if you have to, then."


February 6th, 2015

Nori managed to catch Volkner in the morning before heading to school. He only sporadically was able to do so, and the boy was thankful he had been able to today. "Hey! Mr. Denzi!" he called out. The blond man turned, arching an eyebrow. "I uh, was thinking. I want to visit my friend Lux today after school. Is that fine?"

He didn't get a reply right away. The Leader stared at Nori blankly. Did he say something wrong? "Should I have asked that?" Nori worriedly asked.

"You can call me Volkner."

Oh. That was it? He was just being polite by calling him Mr. Denzi. They did say not to be so formal the first day here. Gym Leaders were often called their first names after all.

Still, it didn't answer his question. "But, what about Lux?"

Volkner sighed. "Do what you want."

"Thank you!" The boy could only grin at this.


The idea had come to him on a whim last night. He did not want to hang out around the Gym after what happened yesterday. No doubt he was going to be subject to no end of mockery. He brought up the idea to Lux at school. His friend was fine with it. He was actually very excited. A new Crime by Starlight would be airing today too.

Lux escorted Nori to the parking lot, where his mom was waiting. She was driving a blue station wagon. The family resemblance was clear - she had the same dark purple hair and indigo eyes as his friend did. She was in a white-gray business suit with a gold colored tie.

"Hey, mom!" Lux said. The windows were down, so he didn't have to open the door. It did make Nori wonder why she had them down when it was so cold, though. "Can Nori come over and play? He got permission!"

Nori rubbed the nape of his neck. "I kind want to get away from the Gym for a bit," he explained his situation. "If that's okay, um, Mrs. Blomgren."

Like this morning, he asked an adult something politely and got silence in reply. Unlike this morning, the adult's mood was very much readable. She was leering at him in disgust. "I never liked you," she said.

"Hey, what?!"

"That husband of mine thinks it's good that Lux has a friend. If I had my way though, he'd have nothing to do with you." Lux's jaw dropped. Nori could only listen as she flew into a rant. "Pokemon trainers are worthless human beings. They serve no purpose in society except to achieve their own self-centered desires. They warp kids' minds and think it's okay to be a drifter instead of having a good proper well-paying job and starting a family."

The chestnut-haired boy had heard enough. "What's your problem, lady?!" he yelled, marching up to her.

Mrs. Blomgren nearly swatted him, but he avoided her swing. She did however level a finger in his face. "You will watch your mouth, young man! There's no way I'm letting a filthy trainer set foot in my household!"

"But I'm not a trainer–"

"You use the beasts, so you are! Come on, Lux!"

"Y-yes, mom." He hastily entered the back seat, not daring to look at his friend at all. He hadn't even closed the door before his mom slammed on the accelerator. The tires of the car screeched as she sped away.

Trainers are worthless. He used to have that point of view. He got over it, but could he have ended up this way if he hadn't met the Demon? No, no, probably not. Mrs. Blomgren seemed to have a grudge against Pokemon themselves, and Nori never went as far as to deem the entire profession of training as useless - just often futile. But is that how he came across to others?

Then there was Lux. Was he never going to be able to see his friend again? Just because his mom didn't like him for helping Pokemon? What was her problem?

Nori growled. He wanted to scream. He would've if so many people weren't watching this unfold. Among them were Jamie and her friends. He didn't want to deal with this right now. He didn't want to deal with anything. The boy stormed away from the school.

Another case of a scene that should exist getting bigger than expected, in this case the letter one. If it's rougher than the others, that's because it was added last-minute. Otherwise am mostly satisfied with how it turned out.
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