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EVERYONE: Radiance, Capture On!


New Member
Feb 20, 2020
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Summary: "Reveriena sucks," Eryn Winnet decides upon moving to the region with her toxicroak Tessa. To fit the status quo, she attends a pokémon ranger school and hides her dream of being a champion. Between school hijinks, an underground pokémon battle club, and rumors of a Master Ball 2.0, Eryn learns the difference between being a trainer and ranger the hard way, overwriting her dream in the process.

Warnings: Just swearing.

Chapter 1: Reveriena: Where Dreams Don't Come True
The Reveriena region sucks. Like, it's one of the worst regions in the world, tied only with places like Fiore, Almia, and Oblivia. I claim this on this one fact: pokémon battles are all but illegal in these regions.

I hate it.

My dream is to be Sinnoh's next champion. How am I supposed to do that when I'm stuck in a place where a pokémon ranger is called on me whenever I take out my toxicroak's poké ball?

"This weekend, we expect to see the next migration pattern of vivillon here in the outskirts of Hionit City-"

I shut the TV off. Seriously, every station on the air in Reveriena is either a news channel or some nature documentary. Peace and love and all that, but it's so boring.

"Come on, Tessa," I say to my toxicroak who started yawning minutes ago. I lead the way to my room and immediately boot up my laptop. Noting the time, I spare no hesitation in clicking on one of my most-visited bookmarks. This video never gets old.

A picture of a man in a snazzy white suit and gloves fills the screen. Tessa jumps into the only chair before the laptop and taps the claws on her knuckles on the table, waiting for me to start. I pull up the ottoman near my bed and use that as my seat. I press play and crank the volume up. The video starts up and pans about a stadium chock full of cheering people.

"And we will now bear witness to the match we've all been waiting for: Galar's champion of two tourneys in a row Dominic Viktor versus the trainer that has earned the right to challenge him this year, up-and-coming Yulianna Iomi!"

"I welcome you and look forward to what you bring to the table today. You've shown breathtaking battle prowess so far, but I'm afraid that's all for naught with this match." Tessa and I both lean into the screen as Dominic flings his poké ball out first, choosing his dusknoir. Yulianna sends out a runerigus. "I hope you know that I never hold back. I recall seeing you make it to the quarterfinals last year, correct?"

"And Dominic starts off with his ace! What is he up to?"

The Galar gym challenge is the hypest thing in the world! Had I been born in Galar instead of Sinnoh, I would have taken a jab at it in a heartbeat. Plus, Dominic is my idol. He's everything that I want to be, and his radiance on and off the battlefield made a fan out of me the first televised match of his I caught. Though I admit, during the tournament that I'm watching a rerun of, I actually rooted for Yulianna. She's damn charismatic.

"Herald, shadow punch," Dominic says while adjusting his iconic white gloves. His pokémon swings an arm, causing a fist that looks like it's made of pure darkness to home in on his opponent.

Just as the move is about to make contact, my door swings open and my mom calls out, "Eryn, are you sure you have everything packed?"

Immediately, I pause the video. "Yes," I reply while jutting my thumb at two large suitcases. Tessa's breathing becomes harder, signaling that she's bored already. I reach my hand back and catch hers before she presses play.

"Then hurry up and come down. We should leave as early as we can. It's a five hour drive."

"Okay, okaaay…" Standing up, I close my laptop. Tessa groans before jumping out of her chair.

"Let's go," Mom says before leaving my room.

With a sigh, I put my laptop in my bag which I then sling on my shoulder. My suitcases stare at me, jam-packed with clothing and other personal belongings. I pick up the heavier-by-just-an-ounce one with both hands and tap my foot as Tessa walks in front of me. She stops before the other suitcase, then stares me right in the eye. With an expression even more smug than her neutral one, my toxicroak passes me by without picking it up.

"Hey!" I hear loud thudding, probably her skipping down the stairs. If I had a quarter…

Mom's car horn honking drowns out my exasperated cry. Reluctantly, I pick up my other suitcase and hold my breath as I carry it downstairs.

Once I make it to the car, I find Tessa standing by the open passenger door like a chauffeur. "Very nice." She makes a noise like a cross between hissing and laughter and jumps in the car, still not helping me. On my own, I throw my suitcases into the trunk and take my seat.

As soon as I buckle up, I take out my laptop and open it. I catch the reflection of my new school uniform for a second. A form-fitting black shirt with a dark green vest, both stamped with the school's logo above my heart paired with shorts matching the vest over black tights. Nothing too special. I don't really get why I have to wear it today, but whatever.

Suddenly, I don't feel like watching the rest of the match. My fate will be sealed in a few hours once I get to my new school.

"Have you decided how you're going to introduce Tessa?" Mom asks.

My hand slips into my pocket where Tessa's poké ball resides. After remembering what happened last time I released her in front of someone here in Reveriena, I realize I really only have one choice. I take the ball out and pinch it between two fingers.

"Yeah. Maybe you should take her poké ball after all." If I didn't have it on my person, I wouldn't be seen as some weirdo or whatever. "I haven't had to return her for years, right?"

"No, you have to keep it. What if there's a big emergency and you need to? Just in case, keep it in your pocket." The toxicroak in question just drones a deep-pitched croak of boredom. Mom reassures me saying, "You'll be fine."

I sigh while slipping the capsule back. Mom's right, though. I've known Tessa since I was younger and will always watch over her as she does me. Our unironic best friends necklaces say as much. We take responsibility for each other. My partner croaks and tilts her head back as if to fall asleep.

Trying to brush all my worries under some rug, I ask the one question people love hearing on road trips: "Are we there yet?"


An orange filter overtakes the sky as the sun peeks at me from behind the grand building I dread entering. Mom honks the horn and waves goodbye. I wave back and reluctantly drag my suitcases forward.

"You can at least help me." Tessa meets my eyes and snickers. Curse her.

I make it to the building's doorstep before stopping and glaring at the words spelled out above the entryway. Hionit Ranger School, it reads.

Scoffing, I walk through the front door Tessa holds open for me. Once inside, I spot the welcome desk and approach the woman manning it. I present the acceptance letter I received last month that I pull out from my bag to try to engage in a wordless exchange. Once the lady hands me a card key and sheet of paper, I say, "Thank you."

Simple enough. I read through the paper which just welcomes me and tells me to settle down in my dorm before going to an entrance ceremony in about an hour in the school garden. It recommends that I go out right now, though. Oh well. On the back of the paper is a map of the campus, which I follow to find my room.

The first three floors of the school are classrooms. The fourth floor is for girls' dorms. The fifth is boys' dorms. Then there's the roof. Each dorm is for two people, meaning I will get a roommate. I can't tell if I'm excited or not for this.

At the opposite end of the building from the entrance is a large set of stairs that branch into two along with an elevator. Without thinking, I drift to the stairs. Once I take the first step, I look at Tessa. She nods before breaking into a full sprint up the stairs. I smile a big one before following her lead. Except that I am still lugging my suitcases. My oh, so heavy suitcases. But I know Tessa won't stop just because of that, so, I yank my arms behind me as I stomp up three steps at a time, making sure my luggage doesn't hit the ground (though they hover dangerously above by an inch the whole time).

I make it halfway to the third floor when I'm able to see Tessa's back. Not giving in, I push myself the hardest I can up to the fourth floor as I hear my toxicroak laughing up a storm. I finish the flight by lunging forth with my right leg, then gently putting my suitcases on the hardwood floor.

So damn tiring. Lurching over, I gasp for air and wipe the sweat that starts forming on my face. Once my lungs stop screaming, I look around and see nothing. Just a bunch of doors with numbered plaques on them. And so I smile, possibly smirk.

A few moments pass before I hear someone coming downstairs. The croaking gives it away. Tessa jumps in front of me and shoots a look of annoyance.

"I win," I say. "You went all the way to the roof, didn't you? Well, I stood on this floor first, so I win."

Tessa sneers and pushes my arm. But no, she lost. That is the only answer. "Oh, are you being a sore loser right now? That was cute when you were a croagunk, but now? Nah. Who told you to get so hot and bothered over this?" She punches me in the ribs, but I don't stop laughing and teasing. "You even got a head start, and I was carrying my stuff. Now how did I win? Hm? Hmm?" I cup a hand around my ear to really salt this wound.

Tessa gives me a punch to the stomach that shuts me up. She then takes the suitcases and walks in front of me. Her croaking becomes quiet and extra throat-y, meaning she's purposely being bratty. I return the punch, though surely not as hard as she did it (not that I could to begin with). Saying no more, we walk side-by-side as I squint at the floor map in my hands. Tessa regularly bumps into my hip with hers, which I reciprocate. Soon enough, we find ourselves before dorm 17. One glance at my card key vanquishes any hesitation I have.

With a simple swipe and no fanfare, the door unlocks. We enter and get greeted by a small room with two beds on either side. A huge vanity with large drawers underneath it sits between the beds. The bed to my right is bare; the one on my left has floral-print bedding all set up, meaning my roommate already picked her side.

Tessa kicks my suitcases to the right and flops down on my apparent bed. Without much else to do, I start unpacking. I open some drawers of the vanity to see how my roommate split things. All the ones on my half of the room are empty. The first drawer I open on her side has a sealed envelope and framed photograph both put face-down in it that I pretend I don't see.

I claim what is mine and go through the motions. In the background, I resume play of the championship match we were watching this morning. Once everything is finished, I check the time.

"We should go now." Tessa forces herself to sit up from my bed. "It's not like I really want to do this either. But come on. Maybe I'll finally make a friend in this region."

My toxicroak shakes her head and stretches. I open the door and wait for her to exit first. As I hold it ajar, I finally notice something strange about this room: a pretty big green tub filled with water at the foot of my roomie's bed. Though as it isn't there for me to judge, necessarily, I turn around, walk out, and close the door behind me.

It isn't hard to make my way to the garden. The place sits behind the school, and bushes of blooming flowers form a border around the huge stretch of land. Not that easy to miss. Especially with a group of hundreds of people congregating there. Large speakers pound out some catchy pop song that gets drowned out by chatter, so it isn't anything too fancy. Though this place seems more like a farm than a garden.

I wander around until I spot an area filled with benches and tables. Tessa sits down first, in the middle of a bench for some ungodly reason, so I take a spot beside her. People around my age don the same uniform as me as they dance and mingle. A few cliques already seem to be formed, though their members' common interests aren't that obvious. A few others have pokémon at their side, none of which seem that aggressive. Cross friendly battles off the list. A lot of students wave around some toy that looks familiar.

Some students are scattered with us in the bench area, though none sit within a ten-foot radius of me. My only guess is Tessa, who has a permanent sneer on her face. Unsure of what to do or how to start small talk, I sit patiently and wait for the ceremony to begin.

Finally, an old man takes the small, slightly-elevated stage at the center of the garden. A microphone sits in his hand like a pencil before he taps it and clears his throat. "A big thanks to everyone who has stuck around. To those just joining us, good evening, and welcome to Hionit Ranger School! I hope you're just as excited as I am right now."

A fair amount of students in the crowd whistle and clap. I choose to focus on the two people standing behind the talking man, one by a box full of what looked like high-tech walkie-talkies and holding a clipboard, the other carrying a video camera on his shoulders.

"Again, I will be your headmaster at this school. I hope we all find success in the coming years!" Applause follows. I join in.

Once the headmaster's speech winds down, he says, "Now for the moment we've all been waiting for. Everyone here has earned the right to become a ranger-in-training. Most of us already received their stylers just earlier."

I roll my eyes at the memories I have of the written entrance exam. It basically just tested to see whether or not you were a sociopath, if you had common sense, and if you loved pokémon. Of course I love pokemon. Though I want to be a trainer, not a ranger!

But that's not a choice I can make in Reveriena.

Okay, maybe the test had more nuance to it than that, but my feelings remain. Either way, I keep listening to the headmaster speak. "So to those just joining us, let us test your mettle. Now for our last challenge. Here on campus, we have a herd of wooloo. These wooloo have two different pens that they stay in. When one is being cleaned, they live in the other. We will be cleaning the pen they currently reside in tonight. And we all know how skittish and shy these little pokémon are, right?"

A chorus of murmurs fills the air. Okay, I'm listening.

"Whenever we try to relocate our wooloo, they always roll up and run away, which causes such a hassle for everyone involved. Several of them also experience extreme stress when we have our yamper round them up. So, we need a better, kinder way of moving them about, wouldn't you say?"

Where the hell was this going?

"This is where you all come in! As we have 50 students left waiting for their turn at today's entrance ceremony, there also happen to be 50 wooloo in our care! And as we are here to become pokémon rangers, I say you all rightfully earn your stylers tonight!"

Apparently this school accepts like 300 students every year. Guess if I came out earlier, I would have seen what the other 250 had to do to earn their stylers. Wow, imagine doing this six times like this poor old man did. Sure is a roundabout way of doing this. Also, why the heck does this school have a flock of 50 wooloo?

My peers burst into cheers and whoops and the like at this revelation. I, on the other hand, deflate and sigh. Right, right, of course… This feels kind of gimmicky. The explanation isn't even clear. And it just sounds like free labor.

"If we would all look to my left." The headmaster points as such. "We can just make out our wooloo friends. And to my right, also a little ways away, is the empty enclosure. With each wooloo we move over, we will have a student come up to capture them and calm them down, then guide them to their new pen one by one. Shall we begin?"

Cue applause. I mindlessly join in.

"The first wooloo has been sent out. First up will be..."

A guy jumps up on stage with the headmaster, where he is given one of the walkie-talkies from the box I noticed earlier. And those are the stylers? All I do is prop my head up with my hand and observe the first guy to see what I'm expected to do. I know it from books I looked through for the entrance exam only.


"Eryn Winnet, please take your mark."

At the instructor's command, I step down from the stage and adjust the grip I have on my walkie-talkie. Oh, I'm sorry, my capture styler. It's so clunky. I'm going to drop it if anyone runs into me. It doesn't even have a wrist strap.

The wooloo I'm supposed to capture is already curled up into a ball, rolling around the grass. This is my first time seeing one in person, but instead of excitement swelling in my throat, I heave a sigh. Under any other circumstance, I would have been smiling my head off. That Milo gym leader from Galar has the best gym challenge, no doubt.

With all eyes on me, I hold my breath and raise my right arm, clutching my styler. No one has failed or fumbled at all in their capture attempts yet; I refuse to be the first. Tessa stands very close to me as she gazes at the little wooloo like he's her opponent. Wasting no time, I muster the strength to say, "Capture on!"

A glowing antenna extends from the styler by my command, then a small compartment beside it opens with the press of a button. Out shoots a disk the size of my palm, shaped like a spinning top. It homes in on the wooloo, leaving behind a trail of some glowing energy that smells like sweet scent and feels like floral healing (which I know because we battled a trainer with a strangely hostile comfey before we left Sinnoh at the airport).

I would much rather be shouting, Tessa, step up to the plate! as I fling her poké ball onto a battlefield.

As soon as the disk passes the wooloo, I whip my arm up then to the left, drawing a circle like everyone else before me had. The capture disk copies my movements along the horizontal axis, enclosing the wooloo in the glowing trail. Once I close the line, the trail dissipates before getting drawn again as the disk moves more.

So riveting…

I triy circling faster, like the Wyatt guy that went earlier who received the highest praise so far. The styler makes loops in an almost hypnotic manner. As the wooloo rolls right, I will the capture disk right. The same goes for left, back, front, what have you.

My arm starts to feel like it's going to fall off. But eventually, the wooloo stops rolling around, unfurls, and bleats softly. I take this as my cue to stop and press the big button on my styler, causing the disk to fly back to me, landing in my hand. I walk up to the now-calm pokémon while shoving the disk back into its place. He looks up at me and starts walking once I pet his back.

I guide the little guy to the new pen, hoping Tessa won't do anything to startle him. As we walk off, the instructor says, "A nice job by Eryn. Next to take the stage will be…"

Once the wooloo scampers into the new pen, I close the gate and walk back to my seat. Another person steps up to capture, leaving me to guess what life on campus is going to be like. So far, no one has talked to me. It seems too late to join a group now, so I decide on trying to befriend someone in my class tomorrow, and also my roommate.

The remaining students that still had to go stand in a line by the stage. I count maybe six, seven. The headmaster takes back the microphone from the capture instructor and the burden of calling students up. He says, "Now we have..."

What order are they calling people up by? Certainly not alphabetically, by last or first name. Now bored, I shake the styler in my hand. The display screen lights up when I accidentally touch it, showing my name and the phrase Rank Unavailable with the number zero below it. I can only guess these things are personalized.

The rank thing sticks out to me. Pondering it for a few moments, it turned to minutes that thankfully elapse like nothing. Feedback from the microphone in the headmaster's hands snaps me out of my thoughts. On the field is who seems to be the last person up.

The last student is a girl. She's wearing oddly cute furry blue boots that cut off below her knees, which clash with her uniform and the weather. She also dons a charm bracelet on each wrist that match the earrings peering out from the fringes that don't make the cut in her short ponytail, which reflect the dying sunlight something fierce and blind me whenever she slightly moves her head. She sure has style.

But these things only stand out to me because I avoid looking at what I really ought to be: her capture styler. She clutches it in both hands at her chest and assumes a wide stance with her legs forming a triangle with the ground. It shakes in her tight grip as she grimaces at her wooloo. Does she think she's holding a gun or something? She flaps her mouth open and closed like a magikarp, not saying the two magic words.

I wince for her. Everyone stares at her too, which makes things that much worse. Sure sucks to be shy, especially in her position. I consider whistling to both deflect attention and encourage her, but don't follow through in case it just stresses her out more. I think her name is Julie or something like that.

Strong wind tussles the girl's hair. Her wooloo rolls away from her in the direction he came from. She takes a deep breath, puffing her cheeks for a moment, then calls out in a high-pitched voice, "Capture on!"

Her disk shoots out and surrounds the wooloo. It loops around nice and efficiently, circles drawn much smaller than the ones I drew, though not the smallest ones I've seen today. But as impressive as her capture is, it doesn't change the fact that she's doing it while holding her styler with both hands. So uncool.

Finally, her wooloo stops rolling around and trots up to her. She sighs heartily and walks backwards to the new pen while facing the pokémon, making gestures with her arms for him to follow. At least she can relax now.

"A very nice capture by Julietta." I was close enough with her name. "And with that, we conclude the entrance ceremony. Please eat, socialize, and be merry, but make sure you're all ready for the first day of classes tomorrow. You can check your schedules on your stylers. Let's make the coming year a great one!"

With that, the headmaster and his two assistants take their leave. I reopen my styler menu to see how true his words are. Quickly I find my schedule and memorize the most important things.

Tessa prods me in the ribs and crosses her arms. She then uncrosses them to tug on my vest hood. Agreeing, I say, "Let's hit the hay." I doubt anyone will strike up conversation with me at this point.

We make our way to my dorm without getting lost. The floor is silent except for Tessa's croaking. I open the door and am greeted with darkness; the lights are off and the curtain on the tiny window above my roommate's bed I saw earlier is probably drawn. So it is very likely that my roomie is here already, sleeping. As quiet as I can, I enter and tumble onto my bed.

Tessa follows my exact movements and ends up flopping on top of me. Wheezing yet biting my tongue, I push her off me and struggle to find the small lamp I put on the table I set up beside my bed when I unpacked. To hide my pain, I whisper, "You little…"

Finally, I feel the lamp and turn it on. The first thing I'm greeted with is a lump on my roomie's bed. Her head sticks out from her blanket but is covered with dark hair. Dreading waking her and exhausted beyond belief, I try to find Tessa.

My toxicroak is now behind me. She's lying down, under my blanket with her head taking up more than half of the big pillow. I don't believe her sometimes. "Can you behave just this once?"

The answer I got was her turning to face the wall and ignoring me. Was I the trainer or she? Before I sigh, there is a scratching noise and plastic clacking. "What are you doing?"

I snap my head right. My roommate is sitting up, wiping glasses on her shirt. Once she puts them on and looks my way, I freeze and mentally curse Tessa out. "Sorry…"

"So bright," she mumbles and pulls her hair back. Her voice rings familiar, and once she exposes her sleepy face, I recognize her.

She's that Julietta girl. Is she seriously my roommate?

"I know..."

"Is everything okay?" She yawns and straightens her back.

"That's my toxicroak. Sorry again." Already off to a rollicking good start, aren't we?

"Huh? Oh, then you must be, uh, Eryn, right?" She sits on the edge of her bed.

"Yeah, hey, Julietta, right?" So my most prominent feature is Tessa? Good to know.

"That's me," she sings. What a departure from who I saw when she captured the wooloo.

"Did I wake you?" I hesitate between words.

"No, I, um, no." She could have fooled me. With audible hesitation, she asks, "Wanna talk for a while?"

No reason to decline. I copy Julietta's sitting position except lean back, purposely putting pressure on Tessa. She lazily smacks me. Ignoring that, I say, "Sure. So what class are you in?"

"2-A." I can barely hear her.

How convenient. "Same here."

"Really? That's great." Despite how small it is, her smile is dazzling. Just like her jewelry from earlier.

"Cool, cool." Dead air follows as I scramble to say something, anything else. "You excited for class?"

"Absolutely! I've always wanted to be a pokémon ranger since I was a kid. Now that I have the chance, I definitely going to try my best." Her eyes light up. Good for her. I just smile and nod. "What about you?"

Damn. Either I lie or change the topic. Though, her passion for rangers certainly contradicts her attitude when she captured her wooloo. Trying not to judge, I say, "I can't wait to start class. I just moved to Reveriena a couple months ago and need friends."

"Really? From where?" She weaves her fingers together and kicks her legs in the air. I only then notice the fluffy slippers she's got, as well as the cute nightdress she has for pajamas. She sure dresses loudly for how reserved she seems.

'Si-" Julietta cuts me off again, this time with a yawn. I give a small laugh and say, "Long day, huh?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry," she says through another yawn.

"We can pick this up tomorrow, y'know." I glance back at Tessa.

"You got it. Night…" When I turn back to Julietta, I see she already lied back down. I can tell she's in a fetal position, hugging some lump under her sheet. I assume it's a pillow and turn my lamp off. I swear I hear a splashing noise as I do so, but from where?

I immediately regret my decision as I blindly pat my bed to figure out how I'm going to go about this. Eventually I make it under my blanket and feel Tessa's back against my arm. I don't get a chance to think over today as the sandman whacks me over the head with a hammer.


I wake up lying on the floor, my arm fast asleep, legs hanging onto the bed edge, and back aching like no tomorrow. Tessa is sprawled over the whole of my bed, tucked in nicely and in seemingly deep slumber, her inflating poison sack rising and falling steadily. Damn, this hasn't happened since we got her her own bed back at home. As I try to shake the pins and needles from my limbs, my toxicroak extends her arm and drops my alarm clock on my stomach. So she's awake, huh?

In high alert, I sit up and rub the sleep from my eyes. The clock reads 7:24. Class starts at 8. My heart stops for a moment until I realize that I didn't set my alarm to go off today. "Holy shit." The words slip out on their own as I dart up.

"What?" Julietta rises and reaches for her glasses. Awfully calm.

"It's 7:30." I toss my blanket off and try to sort out the best way to go about this.

"Really? Perfect." She stands and opens a drawer of the vanity, pulling out her uniform.

"Perfect? I wouldn't have pegged you as the type."

"What do you mean? Our classroom is just downstairs, and I don't like eating breakfast on school days."

Then it dawns on me: I live in a dorm now. I guess I'm still too used to catching a bus an hour before class starts. Relaxing, I take a breath as Julietta leaves the room, probably to get ready. As soon as she's gone, I turn to Tessa. "Thanks." She usually was the one who woke me up for school back in Sinnoh. Guess old habits die hard after all. I ignore her cocky smile that reads you owe me for this (I shouldn't have thanked her. I never did just for waking me up) and get ready for my first day at Hionit Ranger School.

When everything is said and done, I find myself inside classroom 2-A. There are 20 desks excluding the teacher's crammed in four rows. Several students are already here chatting. Julietta sits at a desk one away from the window in the back. She waves me down and smiles.

I smile back and go to sit in the window seat to her left. But I stop just as I pass the back of her seat. Out of nowhere, a blue bird jumps out and blocks me from going any further. It stares at me and caws. I recognize it to be a cramorant. Stunned from how strange this is, I witness as Julietta flicks the bird's beak lightly and shakes her head no. This stops Tessa from stepping up after cracking her knuckles.

The cramorant retreats to next to Julietta's leg. She says, "Sorry about that. Ophelia doesn't know you yet, so, uh..." She fidgets and struggles to find the words.

I stare at Ophelia and only giggle. "No problem. Is she your partner?"

As soon as Julietta opens her mouth, a man enters the room followed by a ninjask and waves. He takes the front, so I assume he's our teacher. But he looks really young, like maybe a couple years older than all of us in the class.

The man clears his throat. "Hello, everyone. I hope we're all ready for a great year. I'll be your teacher. My name is Damien Spurr. Feel free to address me however you like. I have no issue with that as long as it is respectful. This is my partner Darts." His ninjask flies a lap around the classroom.

No one reacts to him, so he continues. I catch someone raising an eyebrow at the guy. "Why don't we start with introductions? I'm a pretty open guy, so I have a feeling if I tell you about myself now, I'll just repeat myself in the future ten times over. To spare you from that boredom, I won't say anything right now."

I laugh a little. A few other people do too. "Who wants to start us off? From them, why don't we go in a circle and introduce ourselves, counter-clockwise in a spiral? The same as the direction I draw my loops in." That's a new way of going around the room.

Someone raises their hand. From her, I'll be the fourth person to go. So I listen well and wait for my turn. Here's my ranger school debut.

It's my turn in no time at all. I stand up, prompting Tessa to do the same from the stool nearby she took as her own. I smile and wave. "Hey. I'm Eryn Winnet." It came out as stale as I expected. What else to say about myself? "I just moved from Sinnoh to here a couple months back. So far, Reveriena sure is interesting!"

I'm not making any enemies on day one. But, I don't want to lie. So I just decide to put it all on the plate. One interesting fact about me, coming right up. "This here's my partner Tessa. I've known her for a long while, and we share a life goal." I glance at my toxicroak and nod in sync with her as she puts up her dukes. I then look to my peers and brace myself. From my shorts pocket, I pull out her poké ball and flash it for all to see. Already, some people gasp.

"My dream is to become champion of Sinnoh!"

No one says a word, just stare right through me like I gave them the finger, even Mr. Spurr and Julietta.

Especially Julietta.

Regret immediately consumes me. I miss my opportunity to say more.

Mr. Spurr gives a shaky laugh and says, "That's very interesting."

A guy sitting in the front row opens his mouth to say something, his face twisted in a scowl. I stop him and swallow my pride.

I force a smile and say, "Just kidding!" I follow it with a hard laugh. While shaking the poké ball, I add, "This is just a toy."

The air instantly clears and the mood lightens up. Other people laugh with me, even louder than my obnoxious one. Someone says, "Good one. You got me for a second there!"

My hands curl into fists behind my back, digging my overgrown nails into my palms as I keep laughing.
Chapter 2: Those Who Don't Belong

As everyone continues to laugh, I jokingly bow, bangs flopping down covering a grimace. When I rise, I shrug and offer the best smile I can, then take my seat. The laughter continues for a few more seconds. Once the last person stops, a few people clap, drowning out my sigh.

I give a cocky nod and shoot finger guns at no one. The volatile volcano within me needs to become dormant.

Next up is Julietta. She waits for the idle chatter to die down before flinching from her perfect posture. Why do I feel like I've secured the spot of class clown? Though the small talk doesn't completely go away, not until Mr. Spurr says, "Alright, that's enough. Next person up?"

What follows is absolute silence. All eyes fall on Julietta, who grips the bottom of her uniform vest and stands up as stiff as a concrete beam. The whole time, she's chewing her lip and looking down. Once I count ten seconds pass, she opens her mouth, then promptly closes it tight. She does it again, and again, and again.

Her cramorant stands loyally by her side and jitters. I'm not sure if it is my place to say or do anything. Julietta shuts her eyes, face contorting and shoulders narrowing. Finally, she takes a sharp breath and squeaks out, "My name is Julietta."

More silence follows. Someone forces a cough from the front row. My roommate goes back to chewing her lip.

Mr. Spurr throws her a lifeline. "So, Julietta, what do you look forward to most this year? What does being a pokémon ranger mean to you? And who's that little guy next to you?" Had it been anyone else but this seemingly-uber-friendly man saying it, it would have been condescending and demeaning.

But what's with that second question? It's just a job, isn't it?

"I… I look forward to taking steps to become a ranger proper. I've always wanted to be a ranger since I saw this movie when I was younger-" She cuts herself off with a gasp, then flushes red. "I mean, I just love pokémon. If I can help them, I will. And this is my partner Ophelia." With a caress to her pokémon's head, Julietta takes a stiff bow before sitting back down with her head hung.

Nothing I can say or do will probably help her. Instead I slip out a pack of gum from my pocket and offer her a stick while the person on the other side of her introduces themselves. Julietta takes it graciously and takes one chew before folding her arms on her desk and burying her head in them.

People go on and on with their introductions, right until the person sitting in the middle desk of the front row gets his turn. He stands and says two, maybe three sentences before sitting back down. He says it so quietly that I barely register that he's saying anything.

Right before the next guy goes, he stands back up and faces the class. Loud and clear, he says, "I apologize, but I ask everyone here with pokémon to keep them away from me. I do not deal well with close proximity to them. Especially you."

He points straight at me and Tessa. I do a double take and hear Tessa's croak sustain a stable, deep pitch. "I'm sorry?"

"Thank you." With that, he sits back down, leaving me with my jaw dropped. What the fuck is his problem? He's in a stupid pokémon ranger school. How the bloody hell is he afraid of touching, no, being next to a pokémon? How does this work? Is he sane?

"We've heard what Grayson has to say. Let's respect his request and get along, alright?" Mr. Spurr mostly looks at me, still dumbstruck with my jaw hanging. "I'm sure we've all got our little ticks. Okay, next up?"

I still can't believe that. What a load of bull. Tessa eyes him like he's prey. Meanwhile Julietta puts a hand on her cramorant's back and strokes it. Everyone's just going to go along with that, no comment? There are like five other people with pokémon at their side.

Finally, the last person introduces themselves. Once they sit, Mr. Spurr taps a stick of chalk on the board and doesn't get one stroke drawn before someone says, "Damien, introduce yourself!"

First name basis immediately? What? I guess I suppose he's maybe our age, but still. He's our teacher. Other people murmur in agreement, leaving the man in question to scratch the back of his neck bashfully. "You guys remember what I said earlier, right?" People nod and still look at him expectantly. Though I spot a couple kind of smirking at him. "Alright, I'll give you a quick rundown of myself."

Julietta folds her hands on her desk and sits patiently, quietly. Our pokémon hold a low conversation behind us that only they can enjoy. At least my toxicroak doesn't immediately jump into a battle stance. Yet.

"Well, I guess the big question on everyone's mind is my age. That's usually it. I turned 20 a couple weeks ago." So young? What's he doing with his life? "I'm definitely younger than most people who are in my position and my ranger rank, but that doesn't stop me from charging ahead."

I catch someone rolling their eyes. What is going on? Do people like him or not? And what is his position?

"Truth be told, I've actually accepted the position of ranger base leader at a base not too far from here." Someone whispers something, causing another to laugh. Am I missing something? "It's always been my dream to lead my very own base, so I'm going to give it my all, for sure. Though it won't be operating until I get the okay from a higher up, so until then, I'm here to stay as your instructor." His voice tapered off a bit.

What is that supposed to mean? Someone explain this to me like I'm a baby. I catch wind of someone whispering, "What a joke."

Mr. Spurr continues. His ninjask flies in a circle above us, prompting everyone to shut up. "People like to call me 'Young Gun Damien' because of my persistence and age. I choose to take it as a compliment." Isn't technically an insult? He clears his throat and shakes his head. "But please don't address me as that. Anyway, that's enough about me. Let's get started, huh?"

Someone taps my shoulder, and it's not Tessa. Julietta holds a slip of paper out at me which I take after leaving her hanging several seconds too long. In small, neat handwriting it says, What's up?

Really, I should have been the one asking her that. Her cheeks are still tinged pink. But without wasting any more of her patience, I write I'm completely lost and give it back.

Mr. Spurr says, "Classes usually take turns having the outside field for demonstrations and lessons. Our class has Fridays in one of the three main areas all to ourselves. So until then, we'll be having lectures and small demonstrations in this room."

In my peripherals I see Julietta make a face, then scribble furiously before giving me the note back. Let's talk at lunch is written.

All I do is fold the slip and slide it into my pocket. Mr. Spurr says, "Today, I think we should get the dry stuff out of the way. We'll be going over stylers, how they work, their field use…"

Man, why does Reveriena have to be a non-competitive region? Battles are so much cooler than drawing circles in the air at angry pokémon. With my investment in this topic, I take a notebook out and write down whatever Mr. Spurr emphasises while glancing at the clock above the blackboard every other second.

"The point of capturing pokémon with stylers isn't for glory or power or what have you, as pretentious as that sounds. We do it to preserve nature and help…" Preach it, just not at me.

I mean, I get the gist of it, but don't really see the appeal. I guess someone has to do it, and I guess I'm one of them now. The reason I'm even at this school… I don't feel like mulling it over right now.

The lecture drones on for hours until a bell goes off signaling lunchtime. Mr. Spurr went through the oh, so thrilling history and science behind the capture disk and styler the whole time. I would say more, really, about this if I remembered and took diligent notes. Which I did neither of. Because honestly, I don't really care that much. So sue me for not being valedictorian material.

I shut my notebook as someone stands oddly close to me. Again, it's not Tessa but Julietta. She twists her hands over her stomach as she flaps her lips like she's trying to say something. I stand and offer a smile. "What's up?"

"Um, I… Wanna get lunch together?" She stutters several times.

I mean, I thought that's what she meant in the note, so I say, "Sure."

Julietta stiffly turns around and walks slowly ahead. Ophelia follows her, then me and a begrudging Tessa. Since I didn't bring the school map I got yesterday today (and I certainly didn't memorize any of it), I just trail behind and soak the whole school in, trying to find some glimmer of hope in this place.

A bunch of people clog up the hall by the stairs. I believe the cafeteria is in the basement level. Mindlessly, I walk ahead and weave through the crowd until I finish one flight of stairs, only stopping when Tessa grabs the back of my vest.

And only then do I realize that I'm not following Julietta anymore. Where the heck did she go? The staircase has a couple of students chatting, none of them her, so I go back out to the second floor and look around. Past heads of my peers, I manage to spot a ponytail tied with a blue ribbon bouncing about. Julietta keeps her head almost straight down and tries to walk around the other people, but keeps stopping whenever anyone steps closer to her.

But she doesn't just stop. She actually flinches pretty badly before walking to the other side of the hallway and trying to make it to (presumably) the stairs. I'm not sure what her deal is, but I feel pretty bad knowing that I unintentionally ditched her and left her to have whatever little anxiety moment she's having right now. So I make my way to her as quickly as I can and gently grab her elbow. "Let's go," I say nicer than usual and try to be her guide.

Julietta smiles and visibly relaxes. "Okay."

Together we make our way to the cafeteria, which is packed with other students. After getting our lunches, Julietta suggests we go back to the classroom to eat. I don't feel too strongly one way or the other, so I follow her back to room 2-A.

Once we settle down, I don't even unwrap my sandwich before I feel a gaze piercing through me. It's Julietta, of course, who sits opposite me after turning the chair in front of me around so we share my desk as a table. "Can I help you?" I ask in jest.

She hesitates before twiddling her thumbs. I've never actually met a person as nervous and shy as her. Makes me feel kind of worried that I'll offend or hurt her without meaning to.

"Well, about what you said earlier… Were you really joking about wanting to be a champion?"

The look on her face says it all. Eyes squinted due to how she's puckering her lips, which are trembling constantly. Cheeks flush red from either embarrassment, anger (question mark?), or both. Eyebrows knit, reminiscent of the times my mom was disappointed in me for being "reckless" and "socially tone deaf" as she's put it a couple times before.

Yeah, I must have offended and hurt her without meaning to.

"Why? Is something up?" Now it's my turn to hesitate.

"Oh, no!" she says all too quickly, waving a hand left and right. "I mean, you don't really hear talk about trainers and all that here in Reveriena… But you're from Sinnoh, right? So I guess that kinda… yeah." She says the last part just above a whisper.

"No, no, it really was just a joke! Man, guess I gotta work on my delivery next time, huh?" Good thing I'm a good liar. But I don't know which hurts more, lying to Julietta or lying to myself. Actually, I think the answer is clear. "Sorry if it was in bad taste or something."

"Of course not. I'm sorry."

Damn. It seems that every conversation we've had so far has one or both of us apologizing profusely. I want to be her friend, not her bully. "Uh, what about you? You from out of town or…?"

Julietta looks taken aback. At what, that I asked her a personal question? Come off it, did I offend her again? With hesitation I'm already used to, she responds with, "I'm staying in the dorms because I'm from a different region too."

"You mean you came out here, alone, just to come to this school?" How boring must her home region be? "Like, just to be a ranger? Not anything else?"

"Mm," she hums in affirmation.

"Okay then, tell me about Ophelia." Anything to get away from this topic. I refuse to believe she finds ranger-ing fun.

"She's my partner." Julietta says nothing else and begins eating her lunch. The flow of this conversation is drier than anything I've ever experienced before. Neither of us are brilliant conversationalists of any sort.

Her answer is nowhere near what I want to hear, but I don't dig into her any further; she's not pestering me about Tessa. Speaking of, our two pokémon are eating at Julietta's desk. I'm amazed my toxicroak hasn't picked a fight with anyone yet.

Since the conversation ended way too long ago, we just eat together in only slightly-awkward silence until class starts up again.


"Alright, before we let out for today, I have one last announcement to make," Mr. Spurr—I guess it's okay to call him Damien, but that feels too weird for me—says over people pushing in chairs and packing up. "As per school policy, it is mandatory that everyone joins an extracurricular club. I've just got word that starting today, there will be a club fair held after classes for the rest of the week to help decide on which club you want to join. I recommend checking it out as soon as possible. Have fun while you're here, okay?"

No one really responds, but Mr. Spurr smiles and holds a hand up. "I'm heading the Ranger Apprenticeship Club. Like it sounds, we'll hone our skills beyond what we do in the classroom and get a jump start on experiencing the ranger career. I hope some of you will consider joining."

With that, he takes his leave. A few other students exit the classroom too. Since I don't have any plans for today (especially since I don't really care for exploring Hionit City despite it being where I'm living right now), I hover around Julietta until she's ready to go. "Wanna hang out?" I ask awkwardly.

She nods her head vigorously. "Absolutely."

I lean on my desk and cross my arms as I think. I have no idea what to do for fun around here. I don't even think there is anything fun around here. Maybe Julietta knows something I don't. "Any ideas?"

"Um…" she hums, visibly struggling to come up with something.

As she tries to formulate an answer, I glance around the classroom. It's more or less empty with only a handful of students still here. Of them, I notice that Grayson guy sitting at his desk, reading a book. I'm pretty sure there's a library in this school for that, but that's not even the issue. He needs to get his head checked. There's a lot wrong with him, I can tell.

But as tempted as I am to tell Tessa to go up to him, Julietta brings me out of my sadistic thoughts by shuffling in place and letting out a whine she probably doesn't know she's making. "We can explore campus?"

Not what I expected. Hopefully I didn't sigh in front of her. But I guess that's not the worst idea there ever was. Maybe we can check out the wooloo the school has. "Sure, let's go."

I let Julietta lead the way. Ophelia sticks close to her partner's legs, so I end up following the cramorant. Tessa begrudgingly trails me. Just as I leave the classroom behind, I look back at Grayson. He's glaring at someone's deerling that stands like three yards from him. What an asshole.

The hallways are pretty empty now that classes have ended. Only a few people loiter around. Julietta leads the way to the stairs. She says something, probably our destination, but says it so low that I don't catch anything at all. It seems we're going upstairs.

After we clear one flight, I take a long look outside a conveniently-placed window. From it, I spy the garden area behind the school. Like how it was last night, a huge amount of people litter the grounds. The only difference is that there are a bunch of booths and signs set up with crowds of students huddled around teachers this time.

My thoughts don't linger on it for too long as Julietta waits patiently for me at the top of the next flight of stairs. I only notice this because Tessa whacks me on the back to get my attention. Rather harshly, if I can add. Yeah, and she has manners befitting royalty. Not.

"Sorry." I dash to catch up. Julietta says nothing, just politely smiles and nods. She's probably holding back an insult or complaint meant for me. If I were in her shoes, I totally would feel that way. I need to stop doing things like this since she's definitely not the type to say when things bother her.

We make it to the fourth floor, then our dorm. With no clue as to why but not wanting to upset my roommate any more than I probably have today, I continue to follow Julietta's flow. Once inside our room, I flop down on my bed and close my eyes for a few seconds. Luckily for me, Tessa doesn't use me as a second mattress like she did yesterday.

At the sound of splashing like the one I heard last night, I sit up and look around. Julietta's squatting at the foot of her bed, whatever she's doing obscured by Ophelia. I can only go so long without saying something, but before I even open my mouth, Julietta yelps. Next thing I know, she's wrestling her cramorant's beak open. "Spit out, now," I catch her whisper. "I thought-"

"Uh, everything alright over there?" I can't help but ask. Is she hiding something that I'll regret finding out? Please no.

"Oh, yes, absolutely." This is followed by Ophelia coughing something up. Julietta pokes her head up and gives a sheepish smile while blushing like mad. One familiar zapping noise that I can't quite place a name on right now later, my roomie stands up and shoves her hands in her pockets. "I'm sorry about that. Let's go now."

"Where to?" I say slowly. No, no, pretend that didn't happen. That's probably what's best, for both our sakes.

"How about… the garden?"

"What's there?"

"Well…" She wrings her hands together and bites her lip. "We'll find out when we get there?"

I give an amused laugh and cave in. Maybe she wants to check out the wooloo too. "Sure. I actually saw a bunch of people there a few minutes ago. I guess it's that club fair thing, yeah?"

Julietta perks up and drops her hands to her side. Oh, was that what she wanted to do? She could have just said so. "Is it?" She's not a very good actress. "Well, why don't we check it out?"

Playing along, I say, "I've gotta join a club anyway, right? Why not."

With no trouble at all, we make it to the garden. The summer-not-quite-autumn sun beats down on us and the air is filled with chatter and bleating in the distance. Now I have a good look at the scene before me. A lot of banners sporting club names are everywhere along with teachers boasting about their clubs. In this specialized school, students typically only study here for a year under intensive and hands-on instruction before going out into the world (I do see that being a ranger is an experience-based job), so the student body is nonexistent. What I'm getting at is that it's funny seeing a bunch of adults trying to be hip with the kids to get club members. In particular, I catch a teacher, an older man, riding a skateboard.

Julietta drifts through the area, carefully avoiding places with heavy clusters of people. This results in her skirting the edge of the paved road while whipping her head left and right. Whatever her issue is, I try not to judge and make sure to walk alongside her. "A lot of choices, huh?"

"Yeah." She hugs herself as she walks. Whether she's mesmerized by the clubs or anxious being around other people, I can't tell

"Anything on mind? Light Music Club? Literature Club? A community service club?" All of those seem plausible for her. I'm actually impressed that there are clubs that don't relate to being a ranger.

"Not really…" As she says this, she looks ahead, to the right. I follow her line of sight and see three clubs she can possibly be thinking about. What stands out to me is the club with three wooloo advertising it.

"Hey, let's check that one out." I gently pull her arm and point at the Gardening Club's setup. A large number of people are already there, following a woman giving a small tour of the area. Julietta and I join in and listen to the instructor.

"Every year we have the Gardening Club plant a new row of flowers in the field that we don't have yet, representative of the new graduating class." And she loses me immediately. The teacher drones on as I shift my attention to Tessa, who's holding her head in her stubby hands in sheer boredom. Her and me both.

"This is gonna be a long year, huh?" I nudge Julietta lightly. She flinches and just nods like she has a knife to her back. Oh boy. Tessa punches my side and I kind of kick her foot. She's not the only one bummed about our situation, okay?

"And we can't forget about the wooloo! The Gardening Club is also in charge of taking care of our resident flock regularly, so if you're already smitten by them, this club's for you." The teacher wins me back just as fast. Tessa groans loudly, probably at the pokémon she can look at but not battle. Though I doubt she even wants to battle any of the wooloo; they definitely serve no challenge at all to her.

I don't have any real talents, so most of the other clubs are out of my reach. Either that or they sound utterly boring. Quiz Bowl Club? Give me a break. So I'm ready to sign my soul over to the Gardening Club. Nothing else calls for me. A couple of girls by the teacher are scribbling something down on a clipboard that must be for signing up. "I think I'll join this club."

As I wait for my turn to sign up, I stare at Julietta. Instead of at the wooloo or teacher or anything else nearby, she's gazing into the short distance at another booth. I squint to catch what has her so enamored and am not sure what to make of it.

It's not a booth so much as a foldable table on its last legs with a large paper taped to it reading Ranger Apprenticeship Club. Mr. Spurr leans on the table with his arms crossed. I catch him mid-sigh. A couple of guys walk in front of him, past him, not even giving him a first glance. I hear that a teacher's job ain't easy, but this seems like something else.

Julietta keeps looking his way, eyes boring holes into the banner sporting the club name. Is that what she wanted? I'm not a mind reader and I'm not good at conversing, so getting to know her is going to be a long and bumpy road. I don't think I have the drive to befriend anyone else at this school anymore, so I really want to make nice with her. Even if it seems that her dream is to be a ranger. Reluctantly, I say, "Let's go check out some other clubs."

"Huh?" She wrings her hands together. "Didn't you say that you wanted to join this one?"

So she did catch that. Either way, I suck it up and reply, "Can't hurt to keep looking."

But before I say anything else, I hear a familiar squishy, wet, guttural noise that I haven't heard for a month. Time freezes, as does my heart as I snap my head to the source of the sound, back by Mr. Spurr. Once my eyes settle on the scene, a gross splat followed by a bubbling and sizzling sound out.

And no, the nearby Cooking Club booth isn't sauteing anything.

Why is this happening?

I shut my eyes tight for just a second, my stomach knotting up and sinking immediately. Once I open my eyes, I search desperately for Tessa but find her nowhere near me anymore.

It is her. Of course it is.

A chorus of gasps forces me to look back at where Mr. Spurr is. And there stands Tessa, hunched over and sneering. Darts the ninjask flies high in the air, buzzing something at my toxicroak. Below him is a slowly dissipating puddle of Tessa's sludge bomb, as volatile and sickly purple as it always is. I know for a fact that the patch of grass it landed on is not going to grow back for a long time.

I pinch myself and feel like I'm slipping from reality. The huge group of students forming a circle around the two pokémon, many with their phones out taking pictures and videos, as well as the equal-in-number amount of my peers who run a safe distance away, obviously intimidated by and probably scared of Tessa make me want to disappear. Why now, of all places? She's done a great job of holding herself back from battle so far. This is too surreal. And embarrassing.

This is the worst thing that could ever happen. From now on, I'm going to be labeled as the big bad trainer with a hostile toxicroak. Could I be expelled because of this? I dislike this school, but I have some pride.

My brief fading moment is broken by Julietta shaking my arm. "Eryn, what's happening?"

My social life and standing taking the steepest nosedive in history is what's happening. And poor Tessa, assuming she really doesn't know any better, is caught in the middle of my tumultuous brooding. Someone do something, please.

"Capture on!"

A deep voice cuts the tension in the air, as well as my erratic and dramatic train of thought. I rub my eyes harshly before seeing what's up now.

Standing across from Tessa is Mr. Spurr. He takes a wide stance holding his styler out, the capture disk shooting straight for my toxicroak. Without even thinking, I dash the hardest I can over to them, pushing people out of the way if they become obstacles. My chance of a pleasant life here at Hionit Ranger School is most definitely dead, but I refuse to drag Tessa down with me. If I make it there in time, I might be able to hold her back and convince everyone that she poses no real threat to them.

The last thing both of us need is more stress due to Reveriena's standards.

"Please wai-"

I get cut off by a sharp crackling. Tessa uses sucker punch and swipes the capture disk out of the air. Oh why. Mr. Spurr calls his disk back and readies himself again. I'm pretty sure you get a shock from your styler if the line gets broken by an attack. Tessa, why aren't you behaving?

Darts shoots to right in front of her face and buzzes again. This pisses Tessa off. She charges both her hands and flails around with drain punch, coming dangerously close to both the ninjask and a group of students. Anyone who gets hit by that will be knocked out, no doubt. There's no way that Darts is purposely agitating her, though. Who in their right mind would?

Without warning, Darts uses string shot and ties Tessa's arms to her body like a lasso would. His partner holds a hand out and says, "Let's not do that unless necessary. Stand by, alright?"

Why would he do that? Tessa hates being immobilized more than anything. Any time she was caught in string shot or psychic or any kind of trapping move in the past, she trashed and thrashed until she tired herself out and we lost by default.

And as expected, she started stomping and twitching like no tomorrow. I pray that she'll get tired as soon as possible, but my worries about this only grow as instead of staying bound, Tessa breaks out of the hold with bulk up.

What a weak string shot. Reveriena truly isn't a land of battle.

Mr. Spurr, you can get a better hold of your ninjask, you know? I think he's purposefully setting Tessa off. I squeeze her poké ball in my pocket, contemplating all the possible consequences of showing off me being a trainer.

And I'm not sure how ready I am for them.

All I do is shout, "Tessa, stop it, now!"

She pauses for a second mid-poison jab before Darts hisses something at her. It sets her off immediately.

"Darts, please stand back." Mr. Spurr takes aim. Another sludge bomb whizzes through the air at the ninjask. "Everyone, this doesn't have to be a big scene. I have this situation under control. It'll be safe, I assure you." Darts dodges the poison while it flies past and misses his partner. Luckily no one else stands in the line of fire. Tessa, if you want to paint yourself as a villain, keep it up.

Though I can't really speak for myself. It's not like I'm even trying to hold her back, as much as I want to.

A couple people break away from the crowd. With a little more breathing room, Mr. Spurr shoots his capture disk out again, drawing one large loop around Tessa. Like I would expect, she lunges to break the line with a poison jab. He closes the circle in time to avoid the hit, then steps up to continue his capture.

What should I be doing? What can I do? I'm so out of control and lost outside of battles.

This whole scene ticks Tessa off the most I've ever seen since we moved here. Her poison sac is bloated beyond belief. The people staring at her like she's some animal, the man trying to calm her down against her will, me doing nothing but freezing and telling her to back out…

No wonder she snapped.

"Okay, then." After what feels like an eternity in slow motion, Mr. Spurr winds down and takes a breath. Across from him is Tessa, her croaking now low, her poison sac deflating, and her face less pissy.

He captured her? He did?

With everything back to equilibrium, more people from the crowd disperse. I stay still in my place as I watch my teacher approach my toxicroak and hold a hand out. Like always, she smacks it away and turns around, too prideful to do anything properly.

Tessa saunters back to my side and tries hiding behind me. On her way, a student she comes close to bumping into jumps out of the way like she's some menace.

Great. I branded myself as an alien trainer slash class clown on day one, and Tessa is now a savage beast. Damn it all to Hell.

Even still, it was my fault. I hate that I didn't do anything to even try to help. I'm so sorry, Tessa.

Mr. Spurr approaches me with Darts in tow. "I apologize for this, Eryn. Darts has a track record of being a trickster, and it seems he angered Tessa here." He pats my and Tessa's shoulders. "I hope we can move on from this."

There is no correct response. But he did stop Tessa from having that messy battle she kind of started with Darts. I stutter and say, "Thank you."

"She's rather powerful. Very impressive." As he pays the compliment, he starts walking by us. "But please keep in mind that there aren't any battlefields in Reveriena." So he can see right through us.

But I know there aren't. I appreciate what he's trying to tell me, as well as how quietly he said it, but it's not like I wanted Tessa to do that. And as my partner keeps her head down while kicking the ground in shame, I try to come up with any excuse as to why this happened.

And when I look off the side in my own shame, I see Grayson scowling at me yet hugging himself and shivering like we were experiencing a Sinnohan winter.
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