“Frankly, I’m not sure,” Kenza said, frowning as she rolled the plate shard around in her hands. Perhaps today really was the day she’d meet the maker. At least then she could live in comfort knowing that her earnings over the years would all be transferred to her family. The friends she’d made over the years might not be the most trustworthy, but they were loyal and understood each other better than others who didn’t know what it was like to have to wipe blood off blistered hands to prevent frostbite in the biting winter airs.
A scrambling sound from the hallway put Kenza on alert, and she let out a relieved sigh when she saw that it was just Derrick. A broad smile broke across her face at news of a key, and Kenza was just about prepared to jump for joy when the door to the cell was unlocked. “Thank god. I thought I was going to have to die in there,” she admitted with a shudder, helping Mistletoe to her feet and exiting the cell quickly.
Bouncing on the tips of her feet, Kenza felt blood rush through her stiff muscles. It may have just been a little over half a day of inactivity, but even that was too much for someone who was always on the move, always counting on performing her best to survive.
“Lead the way,” she told Derrick, eyes set. Kenza saw a clear chance at survival now, and she’d be damned if anything took her eyes off it again.
Fur brushed up, Korie watched Evian leave with satisfaction, relieved that she wouldn’t have to deal with his pompous demeanor. Alright. First to the Pokemon Center to get everyone healed up, she thought, turning and jogging back to the city.
Coriack’s streets seemed a little more lively in the afternoon, the sun shining happily as children ran around the streets and adults talked among one another. The trainer district saw a little more hustle-bustle as well since trainers were now walking about and exchanging words rather than going and arriving in town. Since there was almost never a line at the Pokemon Center, Korie was in and out in around three minutes, picking up some berry pots as she passed the Pokemart inside the center as well as some starter seeds: one each of Cheri, Chesto, Pecha, Rawst, and Sitrus berries. These berries were promptly planted and watered with the help of Korie’s cheerful Lotad before being happily tucked away into her bag.
“Alright. Off we go for some more training,” Korie said to the blue-and-green Pokemon, about to straighten up and be on her way when she felt a pang of hunger in her stomach. “Well, after food,” she amended, leading the way to the nearby convenience store. On the shelves were a range of goods, both local and imported. Helping herself to a to-go turkey sandwich and a small box of granola bars, Korie also picked up some individually packaged poffins for her Pokemon.
“Pretty sure Daigh like spicy poffins. Any preferences for you?” Korie asked, looking down at her Lotad. The Pokemon’s vigorous head-signing of “no” at the thought of a spicy poffin prompted Korie to pick out some sweet poffins for the water-type. After paying and exiting the shop, Korie found a bench in a nearby park and called her Charmander before doling out food.
Yet another expense of being a trainer, she thought with a sigh as she started on her sandwich, watching her Pokemon enjoy their meal. Don’t trainers earn money through battling? Maybe I should give that a try.
After finishing their meal, the sun was now an hour or two from sunset, reminding Korie how close nightfall was. “Let’s give river battling another try,” she said, leading her Pokemon in the direction her Pokedex pointed her. Halfway through the trip Korie figured that she no longer required a map to guide her and put the Pokedex away, keeping her eyes on the road as her Pokemon walked beside her after having finished off their poffins. Pidgey and Pidove sang from the trees with the rare Chatot chiming in for a fanciful chord of birdsong as the trio of trainer and Pokemon passed beneath them.
“I think that’s the stream,” Korie said to her Pokemon when the faint sound of rushing water graced her ears. Laetus grinned and bounced from one side to the other on his legs as Dei sniffed in acknowledgement of their arrival. Before they could pass the final round of bushes, however, a buzzing noise caught Korie’s attention.
“Hold on — is that a Combee nest?” she asked, eyes wide as she spotted a largish golden brown structure on the ground. Walking closer and peering through the bushes, she could see the Combee drones buzzing back and forth with happy smiles on their faces. “Combee honey is said to attract Pokemon… Dei, Laetus, what do you two think about an impromptu hive raid?”
A happy bounce and determined nod later, Korie and her Pokemon sprang out of the bushes towards the hive and the happy Combee. Their smiles faded as the intruders approached their hive, eyes following the trio carefully as they neared.
“Combee aren’t as territorial as Beedrill, but I doubt that they’d give up their honey without a fight,” Korie murmured to her Pokemon.
Taking the hint, Dei leapt forward and launched a gusty Smokescreen that immediately engulfed the clearing. Taking advantage of the smoke, the Charmander rushed forth, shooting succinct Embers at every Combee he came across as to knock them out.
“Alright, Laetus. I think this is your cue as well. Let’s try some Astonishes with under the cover of the smoke?” Korie whispered to the water-type, keeping her voice at a minimum as to not give away her location. The Lotad nodded at his trainer, flouncing forwards into the smoke. Further thudding of Combee hitting the ground told Korie that both of her Pokemon were doing a good job, and the girl grinned at how well her Pokemon were managing to work together.
Creeping forwards through the smoke, Korie spotted a fainted Combee and walked over, inspecting the honeycomb Pokemon closely. Three hexagons stuck together with a black stripe to designate it as a true bee, Korie thought, gently lifting one of the bug’s wings with a finger. A little more sturdy than it looks, but that’s expected with its weight. Well over a few pounds of honeycomb with… Korie grinned as she righted the Pokemon on the ground. Honey!
Shuffling through the items in her backpack, Korie found an empty plastic container that previously served to hold berries. Holding the Combee over the container, Korie gave a few gentle shakes until gravity pulled the golden ambrosia from the Pokemon’s hexagons in sweet syrupy dollops into the container below. When she’d gathered roughly two cups of honey, Korie set the Combee down again, arranging the resting Pokemon such that its wings. were straight and ready to fly once it awoke before closing the lid of the plastic container and placing it into her bag. Standing, Korie whistled sharply to summon her Pokemon, and the two came bounding over through the now-fading smoke.
“Alright, time to make our quick getaway!” she said with a grin, returning her Lotad and waving her Charmander into a run beside her. Just as they were about to exit the clearing, a deafeningly loud buzzing noise started up behind Korie.
Whirling around, Korie was horrified to discover that the Vespiquen had emerged from the hive, its buzzing wings dispersing the remaining smoke within seconds as its red eyes glared at the trainer and her Pokemon.
“Arceus, run!” Korie shouted, scooping up the Charmander besider her and making a dash for the trees. Every step she took, however, only seemed to serve to bring the hostile Pokemon closer, the buzzing growing louder behind her.
From his place on his trainer’s shoulder, Dei launched what cannonball Embers and fiery new Dragon Rages he could at the approaching Pokemon, but arrival soon became imminent. The Vespiquen — in one final burst of speed — flew up and landed in front of Korie, scattering dust and leaves on the forest floor around it.
In the face of the large Pokemon’s glowing red eyes, Korie froze. Was she about to die? At the very least, not Dei, she thought, returning her Charmander in a hasty but shaky motion just as the Vespiquen whirred forwards into motion, only to be met head-on by a wall of solid blue steel.
“Wha—” Korie said, eyes widening as she looked up to see a hovering bipedal steel Pokemon whose third and final evolution everyone who had the faintest interest in steel-types recognized: Metang.
“Metang, Metal Claw,” a cool voice called from the bushes as the hovering steel-type immediately charged forth, knocking the Vespiquen back. A familiar black-haired boy emerged from the bushes, eyes as unimpressed as they were earlier that day when he’d beaten the gym leader without batting an eye.
It’s the boy from the gym! Korie thought, mouth open as she watched the boy step forwards, his eyes focused on the battle yet relaxed all the same.
“Metal Sound,” he ordered calmly, his Metang immediately rubbing its limbs against itself to produce a sickeningly shrill scratching sound that caused Korie to duck down in alarm, hands going instinctively to cover her ears. Beside her, the male trainer remained composed and calm, eyes focused on the ongoing battle. Another order was issued during the screech, and the Vespiquen finally gave up chase, leading the recovering Combee that had come over to watch back to the nest.
“Th—thank you,” Korie said, straightening up shakily and looking at the black-haired trainer. The boy’s eyes glazed over her, and a curt nod was sent her way before the boy’s back was turned and his feet carrying him back into the depths of the woods.
“W—wait!” Korie shouted, running to catch up to her silent savior. “I didn’t get your name,” she said, panting lightly as she came to a stop in front of him. The boy looked at her for a second cooly, his face inscrutable, before his mouth opened.
“Altain. Altain Reimer,” he said. A smile broke across Korie’s face, but Altain was already taking his leave.
“Nice to meet you, Altain!” the girl shouted after him, waving at his back. “I’m Korie Meagher!”
What a loud girl, Altain thought, sighing as his Metang came to a slow hover beside him, an inquisitive look on its face. “Good job there. We’re making progress,” he told his Pokemon as they continued into the woods.
“Thank you, I will!” Korie called back to the Pokemon Center nurse that had seen her out of the center. A happy smile hung on her face as she walked into the streets, the sun barely managing to break the surface as dusk approached. Well, I guess it’s dinner now, Korie thought, frowning and pulling out her Pokedex to check.
A quick search revealed all the nearest restaurants around, the nearest being a friendly burger bar named after its iconic mascot, a Semisear. To Semisear’ed Burgers we go, Korie thought, creative thoughts about how a Semisear could work a grill filling her head as she walked over.
Entering the bar, Korie was relieved to feel some light air conditioning. No oven-air from the grill here, thank Arceus, she thought as she was seated at the bar. Picking the shop specialty off the menu — Korie always figured that if there was one surefire dish, it was the one the restaurant advertised most — the girl handed her menu to the waiter with a polite “thank you” before looking around the quickly-filling restuarant. Well business as usual around—wait, is that?
A head of familiar gravity-defying was bobbing up and down, seated beside a glum-looking, curly-haired young man who seemd rather glum for a boy with a burger in front of him. I’ll hold off on greetings. Wouldn’t be polite to interrupt a meal, especially considering that he’s not alone, Korie thought, turning back around and waiting for her order, eyes wandering up to the flat screen broadcasting the last region championship battle above the bar.