Hidden 8 mos ago Post by wisteria
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The ceremony...



”LEAVE US ALONE!”
jujube

Zaria’s attempt at damage control was less than favorable. Most students continued to whisper, chatter, point, and gawk. How pathetic was she? The noob couldn’t even come up with a decent comeback. Lame!

The two girls tried talking to the bullies, with varying degrees of success... Tim could never do that. In his experience, it only made the problem worse. Instead, he just sat down where he stood, and started bawling. Tears were streaming down his face. He clutched tightly to his Rockruff. This would no doubt make things worse, but he really didn’t know what else to do. He was brought right back to his childhood. And all the kids that made fun of him back home.
Crimson Flame

Others wondered about Tim and was he really such a crybaby? His Rockruff may have had decent typing, but it was thoroughly wasted on such a weak student. He was probably as weak as he looked, and would fair at the bottom of the battle rankings of the academy. In other words, he wasn’t a threat, and many of the students would treat him as such.

But it was all topped off by Antoinetta's grand gesture and declaration against the rest of the students.

Watching her Pokemon keep it together way better than she did, Antoinetta took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. "Then let's make sure we have the last laugh when we get to the top and they're all in our dust," she chipped in to the conversation. She stood up, holding on to the chair so she didn't topple again, and swept her eyes around the room at the bullies.

"You hear that? How can you act like Pokemon masters to be when you can't even act your age? So just watch us. Believe it or not, by the end of the year you'll see us rather differently, as we show you how it's done."
LuckyBlackCat


Those were fighting words, and some would rise to crush that challenge. If their fate hadn’t been sealed before, it was now. The new kids would need to figure out some way to stand out, some way to grab the year by the reins and surpass those around them. It had been declared, whether they liked it or not.

“Enough! That’s enough! You all need to calm down,” Bellamy Herb, keeper of the school orchard, came through. Maple the Meganium immediately sniffed out the crying Tim and wandered to his aid, greeting him with a reassuring snuggle. Immediately, the area was filled with a calming, floral and spicy scent–and just as quickly, the students quieted too. Maple fanned his blossoming petals out almost as though they were feathers, ruffling them smoothly. The Meganium’s presence was exactly what the situation needed, as the angry and hostile emotions from the room began to melt away.

Tim, directly next to the flowery Maple, would feel the silky soft flower petals cool against his skin, while receiving the most benefit from Maple’s abilities to boot. The effect would be quite soothing, and while it wouldn’t lessen the pain of being bullied, it could at least help him feel a little calmer, and a little less anxious moving forward.

“Ganiyu~?” Maple looked up, noticing Zaria then. He thought this small human child with long dark hair looked quite upset as well, and he reached over with his long neck to give her a quick nuzzle of reassurance all the same.

“Now then, I oughta give you all a stern talking to!” Bellamy crossed his arms and shook his head. “I’m disappointed in you all, disrupting and bullying, all the like!” He turned to the transfer students, doing a double-take at Valerie but mostly giving an even, strict glare. Not everyone was at fault here, and it was unfortunate that he had to yell. Bellamy hated raising his voice, but some things couldn’t be helped. “Everyone, be seated and be quiet. And I shouldn’t have to tell you in the first place!” He added, raising his voice to a near boom at the end.

There was silence.

Unbeknownst to many though, there were some others watching…. A small, rather elite duo…

“...” One of them had amber eyes, ash brown hair, and his general ensemble looked name-brand and expensive. And unlike the other students, his pokemon wasn’t outside their pokeball. He was a sophomore like them for sure as this was the opening ceremony for second years, though he certainly seemed older by his presence. Though the transfers may not have known or noticed him at that moment, his name was Masaru Embers, and he was the top student of the sophomore class. With one string of accomplishments after another, a mother who sat in an Elite 4 position, and fortune, Masaru was envied and idolized by those around him. He’d won several televised matches already and there were rumors that a few companies had reached out to sponsor him already for his trainer journey. At this moment, Masaru seemed interested in the transfer trainers, or perhaps disdainful. It was hard to tell since he always seemed to have a smug, a smirk, or nothing at all.

“Oh! Did someone catch your attention? Masaru?” A girl next to him asked. She was pretty, tall with smooth skin and long, rippling, orange hair and hazel eyes. Evelyn Aster, or Evey was another sophomore student who was reputable around the school. As a prefect, she was held to a higher standard of obeying the rules and leading the students, and nothing could have suited her more. Pretty, bright, cheerful, and a skilled battler to boot, it was no wonder why so many students respected Evey. At times, some students swore there was something more sinister and dark underneath the peppy surface, but those were just rude rumors as far as Evey was concerned, if she was at all.

“Not really,” Masaru replied, looking away. “Do you want to train later?”

“Hm? Is that all? Sure! But you’re not even a little curious?” She grinned. “They’re not in our homeroom class, so we won’t get to face off against them later. Caprea’s their teacher, least we can see all their pokemon though. I mean, I didn’t hear about any crazy transfers for this year but...”

“...” Masaru didn’t say anything.

As the final few trickled in and faculty began to usher for everyone to quiet, student pokemon were recalled and most took their seats by the time Principal Poplar arrived at the stage. “If you could all settle down please, we’d like to begin the commencement.” The last sparks of chatter faded while silence filled the room.

“We’d like to begin by....” It was boring, and none of the students were listening. Once this was over with, they could get on with their day. This was PMA, after all, where opportunity shined at their fingertips and there was always something to do if you weren’t in class. There were some who had summer assignments they were rushing to finish, others who wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep in their dorm, those who wanted to explore the campus, everyone had their own reasons. There were the transfer students too, but it was difficult to tell what they were thinking. They were unknown here, after all. Who knew what they were up to?

Mercifully, the speech ended. The applause was thunderous, partially because the crowd was grateful. Finally, the school year had begun.

Students were to go directly to their classes in the Academic Wing, located more towards the West side of the school. They would still need to attend their homeroom, meet their teachers, understand their expectations and coursework. Well, Bellamy would pull Valerie aside and kindly tell her to change her clothes before she attended her first class. But the five of the transfer students, whether they decided to walk together or alone, would find themselves heading through winding corridors or following the scenic outdoor pathways, before eventually settling into Class 2-A of the Academic Wing...

@Ryik@LuckyBlackCat@Crimson Flame@jujube@Ogobrogo
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Hidden 8 mos ago 8 mos ago Post by Ogobrogo
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chaos

cha·​os | \ ˈkā-ˌäs \
noun
: the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system



Valerie was no stranger to the concept of chaos. One might even say that, on a base level, it was the very nature of chaos that so fascinated the young inquisitive mind. She sought to understand that unpredictability that moved every creature at its core. There was no ulterior motive, she was just simply...curious.

So it was that when the amphitheatre erupted into a cacophony of laughter, sneers, and jeers all pointed in her little group’s direction, Valerie fell into observation mode. Humans, despite how superior they as a species like to believe they are, are not above the laws that govern nature’s creatures. They behave in predictable ways in response to chaos.

Take the larger group for example: when confronted with an oddity within itself, a weakness of sorts, they choose to attack. A bygone relic of humanity’s past as predators within the wild? It made sense - eliminating the weak only served to strengthen the overall group, did it not?

When confronted with an attack, it’s natural for a creature to try to fend off its attacker. Just look at Zaria or Antoinetta : backed into a corner with the predator looming above, the prey will often try to appear threatening. Bristling its fur, barking, baring teeth. But fear was hard to hide. The girl shaking in her boots, the other -

Valerie watched as the girl tagged “Antoinetta” got caught in the labcoat and...her heel snapped. She fell to the ground, causing another round of laughter to rise from the peanut gallery. Valerie moved to apologize, but the obviously embarrassed girl stumbled once more trying to get up. As heartless as it may be, Valerie couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see how the girl would react now that she had humiliated herself before the “herd.”

But another of the group demonstrated a rather interesting response. It’s not unusual for prey to flee rather than fight. The boy “Tim” fled in his own way - by sitting down, by shutting off. An emotional flight rather than physical. Interesting. There was some merit to this - crying, at least in human society, tends to elicit a sympathetic response from some with others simply feeling uncomfortable around it. Either way, Tim’s use of it to push away his attackers and draw support was not lost on Valerie. It was fascinating.

There was, among the group, an apparent opportunist. The quiet one, who also demonstrated a more social form of flight by choosing to ignore the attack and appear above it, had seemed to fixate on Munchlax. Valerie had noticed the suspicious pokefood on the chair beside her when she woke up, and judging by the boy’s attempts at slyly sneaking glances at the fluffy pokepillow, she had suspected that he was the one who supplied it. This was, of course, confirmed when the boy marked “Troy” took advantage of Zaria’s outburst to flick a snack right towards Munchlax. Well, Valerie hadn’t overtly spotted it mind you, she was just as drawn to the sudden shout as anybody, but going by the pokesnack’s sudden disappearance, Munchlax munching down despite being pinned, and that oh-so-subtle look at satisfaction that Troy boy was obviously trying to hide, one could draw a reasonable hypothesis.

She’d let the boy have his victory - their little group could probably use one right about now - but she was curious about what he had said. He wasn’t wrong necessarily, there really wasn’t anything that any of them could do to stop the larger group now aside from blatant violence, but she would argue that no response was, in itself, another form of response. Pretending something wasn’t happening didn’t magically make it go away. Of course, Valerie understood the thinking behind it: don’t add fuel to fire. But creatures communicate in more ways than just verbal, and it was a helluva a lot harder to control one’s subtle body language than their words. By choosing to ignore the peanut gallery, Troy only invited them to amp up their attempts at getting a response. Perhaps he had the discipline to resist reacting, but...it was a curious response by itself.

As for herself?



It was difficult for Valerie to really gage her own reaction to this particular moment. She was, to put it bluntly, a freak. At least to her peers anyway. This sort of negative attention was something rather common for the girl. Well, perhaps not quite to this level. She was used to the judgemental stares, rude comments, and all that jazz, but typically people just avoided her. Well, except for some of the more...desperate guys. In any case, it was hard to be objective in her observations of herself. Any response she made would be made with full knowledge that she was analyzing herself. It made having an authentic reaction difficult. Normally, she’d probably go with Troy’s thinking: ignore it, it’s not worth the energy. Buuuut…

That wouldn’t be fun.

As the misfits began to talk amongst themselves, comforting each other and rallying together against the larger crowd, an idea began to form in Valerie’s mind. Only when Antoinetta’s issued her grand challenge to the student body did Val’s play solidify. A mischievous grin contorted the girl’s face. She was just about to put it in motion when an authoritative voice cut through the crowd. It seemed like a member of the faculty had finally decided to get involved. That...complicated the plan. But it wasn’t dead. Not fully. Not yet.

The aroma of a thousand flowery fields hit Val seemingly out of nowhere. It was as if she were adrift in a sea of petals, all her worries being carried away by beautiful waves of dazzling colors. Val spotted the source, a Meganium that was currently nuzzling her crying classmates.

Was it really ethical to use Pokemon to manipulate the emotions of your students, even towards a more calming, relaxed mood? At that moment, Val didn’t care. It was all smooth sailing as long as that Meganium stuck around. And besides, ethics were for nerds.

The Meganium’s trainer, a member of the faculty by Val’s guess, proceeded to scold the now semi-sedated student body. He gave Val a double-take, so she flashed the guy a peace sign. When he finished and finally decided to walk away, Valerie saw her opportunity. The calming scent killed off any bad vibes Val might have had, but her impish impulsives were rooted deep in the girl’s heart. She rose to her feet and stretched her arms above her head before looking around at her group. The grin returning, she addressed them all, fixating on Antoinetta in particular.

“If they’re gonna talk about you, give ‘em somethin’ to talk about. She gets it.” the girl said with a nod towards the green-haired one.

And with that, a fully smiling Valerie looked out at the sea of bright faces before her...and rose both arms up, middle fingers fully extended. She pumped the double Pidgey at anybody who was still gawking before giving an exaggerated bow and plopping back into her seat.

The thought of the student body now having to grapple with the rather odd and complex mixture of the calming emotions brought upon by the Meganium’s scent and the indignity of having a tiny freak flipping them off gave Valerie just an incredible sense of satisfaction. Sure, she might have been spotted by a member of the faculty doing it and might get in trouble later but...worth it. That was Future Valerie’s problem. Right now, she was riding high.

“You guys are fun. We should do this again sometime.” she earnestly announced as she got comfortable in her chair.

It was going to be a good year.

Munchlax, finally free, set his gaze firmly on the Food Giver, Troy. He required more and Troy had made the mistake of identifying himself as somebody with access to food. He was just about to harass the Food Giver for more when Valerie killed the plan by returning him to his Pokeball. Thwarted for now, Munchlax would plot. This boy was sitting on a stockpile, Munchlax could feel it in his bones. He had a target, now he just needed a plan and a crew.

Soon…




After quite possibly the most boring individual the human species had ever created droned on about expectations and future and prestige and some other junk, the assembly came to an end. Valerie was, quite predictably, pulled aside for a little chat with Mr. Bellamy Herb.

He didn’t like her wardrobe, or her little flourish to his lecture.

She didn’t like his stupid haircut, or his audacity to actually take a position as orchard keeper while having the surname of Herb.

Obviously, they were going to get along just fine.

Valerie didn’t get a chance to stick around and go to class with the other transfer misfits as apparently her outfit was “inappropriate for a young lady in this sort of professional environment” or however Bellboy put it. It was no fault of his own, but since he was playing the part of the authoritative adult, Val felt obligated to drop into her own rebellious teen persona, which meant completely clocking out whenever he began to speak. Still, it was a fine line to walk, that between “difficult” and “completely insubordinate”, and if Val wanted to test this guy but not be dismissed from the school altogether, it’d be one she'd need to walk very carefully.

Which meant that she had to go out of her way to return to her dorm room, change, and get back to class.

Which meant that she had to book it.

She arrived at Class 2-A a new woman altogether. Alright...perhaps that was a bit much. She had changed her shirt to a baby blue tee with significantly less holes, her shorts to ones that had a little more length to them (still above the knee though, it WAS summer after all and she’d be damned before she wore pants), and threw on a stain-free lab coat. The bears and goggles stayed though. The school’s handbook didn’t specifically ban either of them and in Val’s eyes, the best kind of correct was being technically correct.

She was also completely out of breath. She sprinted both to and from her dorm to get to the classroom on time. She was an absolute blue white and gray blur. And kudos to her for being able to run so well in...bear slippers. While she thoroughly enjoyed her agent of chaos persona, she really did value getting a good education. So being late to her first class was just absolutely out of the equation.

So out of the equation, in fact, that she somehow - despite the pit stop - managed to be the first of her classmates to arrive. She had to double check that it was the right classroom, but when it absolutely without a doubt was, she had no choice but to head in and wander about. Everyone else was too slow. Way too slow. It was a crime to be that slow. She’d have to fine them. A million bucks. Have fun funding her research nerds.

…despite her urge to be nosy, Val found herself drawn to the window. She looked out and couldn’t help but admire the breathtaking campus. She watched as groups of students went every which way, walking and running over paths and grass. There was no rhyme or reason to each person’s movements. Just pure, majestic chaos.

It was beautiful.





Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by jujube
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Zaria Brightly



"I... don't know... Can you stop bullies from existing? I just got here, and people are already talking bad about me, and I didn't even do anything to them. I already got enough of this in my last school. I didn't want it here. Now it's going to happen again. I just want to be a Pokemon Breeder and raise a lot of Pokemon. Not endure the wrath of other kids...

Rocky let out a few friendly barks, and Tim rubbed the dog Pokemon's head reassuringly. He took a breath, and his eyes went wide. "Oh... um... Oh gosh... I'm sorry... I didn't mean to unload all that on you..."

Zaria shook her head, feeling sympathetic. She had been bullied too, though perhaps not to the extent that Tim had been, she thought. She'd been made fun of a few times at her previous school in a few classes, sure. But for the most part she'd been more of someone who blended in the crowd, really. Cracking a joke here and there, being relatively friendly, but not standing out. She had spent most of her lunches alone, or perhaps in a group of 'friends' that didn't really know her.

Whether their past was similar or not- they had gone through this incident together, the hurt was all too real, and she found herself understanding Tim. "No, no, you're fine," she interjected at his apology. "It sucks, I get it. You shouldn't have to apologize. We shouldn't have to." Maybe the jeering students would stop soon. It was getting hard to think and she was getting angrier. "They're just a bunch of assholes." She wanted to stick up for herself more! Put them in their place! Why couldn't she? "I wish I knew what to do..." She hissed between gritted teeth.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a Combee buzzing around her. "Wha-?" She was confused momentarily, until she realized the bug pokemon was trying to cheer her up. "Oh, thank you..." It had been the other green-haired girl's pokemon. Her name was Antoinetta, wasn't it? Zaria looked over in her direction, just as Antoinetta made another declaration.

I wish... She felt grateful for them sticking up, but a tinge of jealousy all the same. How could they be so strong? Well, I could be too! But when she tried to open her mouth to chime in, no sound came out. Her tears had long stopped, but now she was just left with regret and feeling helpless. That boy from earlier had been right whe he had told her to ignore the others; it irritated her so that she had to admit it. He was still kinda an ass, but I get where he was coming from now.

Another teacher burst onto the scene with their pokemon, a floral, spicy smell filling the air. Zaria stared- the pokemon was clearly rare, with a wreath of golden orange flower petals around their neck. They glimmered with a sparkle that she had only seen once before on a pink Butterfree. Then, did that mean this pokemon was-? Wow, a shiny! She marveled at the pokemon, who made a beeline for Tim. "Ah, well, thank you," Zaria muttered sheepishly as the Meganium gave her a well-intentioned nudge after checking on Tim first. Somehow, she had calmed down so much quicker than she had expected to. No, it wasn't as if she had forgotten what had been going on, but her heart wasn't racing and she felt so oddly yet gloriously relaxed. What is that? Was it the grass pokemon with Tim? Even around her, the chaos began to quiet. It wasn't just her, everyone was feeling a little calmer, apparently. The feeling sort of swelled before ebbing away quietly. At least the noise had finally stopped. Zaria let out a sigh. So was it over...?

Apparently not.

“If they’re gonna talk about you, give ‘em somethin’ to talk about. She gets it.” the girl said with a nod towards the green-haired one.

Zaria really didn't want to hear how she was supposed to be acting, she wanted to get on with her day and just forget about this whole mess. I'm over this whole thing and people telling me what to do, she thought. So when Val made a show of her middle fingers to the crowd, Zaria couldn't help but roll her eyes. Couldn't they just move on? What was the point of instigating any more? But at Valerie's mention of hanging out again, she perked up. A motley group of friends just like in the movies and shows she had seen. "Not the best start off to a friendship, but I'd be cool hanging later!" Why not? What did she have to lose?

Magnet beeped next to her, hovering close. Zaria patted his head before returning him to his ball. In the amphitheatre, other trainers were recalling their pokemon and people were taking their seats as the ceremony began. Squaring her shoulders and sitting up straight, Zaria vowed to absorb every word and syllable that left Principal Poplar's face. Yes, she would be alert and a perfect, model student. After around a minute or so, she assured herself that the first few minutes of Poplar's lecture weren't important. He was just talking about the future and how the school was honored. Zaria closed her eyes, because she could still listen with her ears of course! Her eyes didn't need to be open. Suffice it to say, Zaria nodded off without a care soon enough. Being dark, with the exception of the stage being lit up as formal ceremonies went, it was also the perfect ticket to a nap.

When the lecture was over and the general bustle began to sound as people prepared to leave, Zaria awoke with a jolt. Had she slept through that entire speech? How long had it been? Had anyone noticed? She shook her head, feeling groggy. Class. Go to class. You have to get to your homeroom after this, remember? But... Wait... She paused, thinking.

She didn't know the way to homeroom, come to think of it, she didn't even know the room number! HOW COULD I FORGET? This was the worst of all days, truly. Arceus, she'd have to ask someone around her to help her get to class. How embarrassing was that? First tripping, then seeming like a coward, sleeping through the ceremony, and now forgetting her homeroom.

Well she had to save face somehow. If she addressed the group, then perhaps she could work off what Valerie had said earlier, about them all getting together."Hey! Guys, does anyone want to walk to class together? Tim? Anotinetta? Er, Troy? It'd be kinda nice after everything that just happened," Zaria let out a sheepish laugh. There was strength in numbers, but more importantly, one of these people had to know the way to class! And there was no way she was going to admit that she didn't know the way.

@Ryik@LuckyBlackCat@Crimson Flame

Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by LuckyBlackCat
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Antoinetta wasn't sure what to make of Valerie's grin. On the one hand, it meant at least one person here was unfazed. On the other, could someone who clearly had zero regard for public image be trusted to redeem the situation?

That squirming feeling intensified - and eased as a teacher stepped in, a long-necked Grass type trotting at his side, wafting a sweet, soothing aroma through the room with its ruff of orange petals. From the way Netty's shoulders relaxed, her fears melted away, and the chaos all around calmed, the scent's comforting properties were clear. For her, though, what added to the effect were the memories it brought back of Floaroma's meadows, her former refuge. The place where she'd first met her closest friend, Mellona, who currently hovered around the petals as the sight and smell intrigued her.

Not even Herb's scolding particularly worried her. The five transfers, after all, weren't the ones in trouble - well, Val might be, judging by the teacher's double take at the sight of her. Val, of course, kept that laid-back air that had to be typical of her with or without the soothing scent, eyes flicking around the group and settling on Netty.

“If they’re gonna talk about you, give ‘em somethin’ to talk about. She gets it.”

Netty returned a wavering grin, trepidation trickling through the calm. Now she'd gone and issued the challenge, there was no backing out of it. "Yep! Our accomplishments will be the talk of the school some day. Mine will for su-" She fell silent at Val's, ahem, gesture at the entire room. Ok, that wasn't going to do their reputation any good. Or make the other students any less confrontational. Not that she was in any position to judge, after her own little blunder.

It wasn't long until Principal Poplar made his appearance. Netty hoped the ceremony would be something to focus on, but the droning speech failed to keep her attention. Her thoughts kept drifting to what the school year would be like, and how on Arceus' green earth she and the others would live up to the standards she'd just set.

Once thankful applause marked the ceremony's end, Antoinetta stood and stretched, trying to walk as evenly as possible. She considered heading back to the dorm to change her shoes, but being late to class would get her laughed at all over again. Class 2-A... It dawned on her that she could have become more familiar with the layout of the school. Well, all she had to do was follow everyone else west, and she'd spot the room with no problem, right?

Zaria's suggestion brought a mix of relief and awkwardness. Maybe she knew the way, or one of the other transfers did? "I guess we might as well," Netty replied. "Just, uh, try not to crash into anyone this time."

She might have been stuck with a bunch of misfits, but better to walk with them than with the other students. Even if this made her a misfit all over again.

Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Crimson Flame
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Tim nodded as he listened to Zaria talk. It was nice to talk to someone who understood the difficulty of being bullied. Eevn if it didn't make the bullies stop their taunts... Then the Combee that belonged to the green haired girl began to dance and buzz around them. It was adorable, and Tim giggled at the sight of the three headed bee. Then the Combees trainer issue a challenge to the bullies, and Tim buried his face in his hands. he wanted to blend in and quietly raise some Pokemon. Not be some kind of Pokemon Master or whatever. Why did this girl have to open her mouth?

A teacher intervened just in time to scold the other students. Then a spicy floral scent filled the air, as a Grass type Pokemon nuzzled him. "Awww." Tim cooed as he patted the Grass type on the head, and then also cuddled with it himself. The Pokemon was a Meganium. He was familiar with the species. They gave Chikoritas as potential starters to new trainers back home in Johto. Of course, no one ever chose one. Everyone always preferred Cyndaquill or Totodile. He couldn't imagine why no one would want their own Meganium. They were adorable. What was even more special, was that this one was shiny. It literally sparkled, and it was a much brighter green, with orange flowers instead of pink. Tim was more interested in cuddling with the Meganium, he didn't notice Valerie flipping off the bullies.

Tim felt a lot better after being nuzzled by the Meganium. He didn't want him to go away. Alas, he had to rejoin it's trainer. Just in time for the principal to make a long speech that seemed to go on and on forever. Finally it was over. Now it was time to head off to class. Their class was in room 2A. It shouldn't be too difficult to find. He remembered to bring the map of the school that was provided.

Zaria asked if anyone wanted to walk to class with her. Antoinetta made a comment about not crashing this time. Tim's frowned and his eyes narrowed and he frowned for moment before quickly returning to his usual meek expression. She may have been trying to be funny, but in Tim's eyes, that comment just came across as rude. The girl was already feeling bad about herself as it was, no need to add to it. He didn't dare say anything about it though. Tim sighed. He was expecting to walk to class alone with Rocky in tow, but... he supposed it wouldn't hurt to go with someone... "Um... ok... I'll go with you..."

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Troy

Shiny pokemon are rare, but they are no different from regular pokemon in battles, so Troy disregarded them for the most part. Finding a pokemon up to snuff was hard enough, let alone finding a shiny one of the same standard. Admittedly, some of them possessed a certain aesthetic appeal, though he can't say that about Meganium's shiny variation, with its sickly yellowish hue. Considering the altercation it came to break up as not concerning him, he payed it no mind, instead focusing on the opening ceremony, at least when it finally began. It was full of flowery words that didn't mean anything like "enrichment" and was read off with an unnecessary slowness that was irritating to the point of madness, so basically the exact same as any other school. Troy listened to every single word, and by the time it was finished, couldn't help but think this that this should have been an email. Then again, it wouldn't have been an email worth reading either.

"Hey! Guys, does anyone want to walk to class together? Tim? Anotinetta? Er, Troy? It'd be kinda nice after everything that just happened,"

Truly, an outstanding play by Zaria, excellent in its simplicity and efficacy. In one fell swoop she establishes a rigid dichotomy to alienate all the transfer students into a group of her own making. Her purposes are unclear; preliminary hypotheses include a similar motivation to Troy's own or a simple ploy for... what's the word... Popularity? Social sway? Emotional leverage? Whatever, what ultimately matters is that their current goals seem to align.

Valerie left immediately, but Tim and Antoinetta already agreed to join. Troy stands up, towering over Zaria, giving her what Troy would describe as a flawlessly neutral expression and what others might describe as a look of disdain, not that it's any different from the typical frown he's had on since before he even entered the amphitheater. "I'll join." Seeing as how he was the last among them to agree, he figured everyone was ready already, so he started walking out of the amphitheater. "Let's go." Needless to say, Troy already had the campus layout memorized, so walking alone would be fine by him, but just by adhering to Zaria's plot, he gains the benefit of temporarily becoming the third closest person to Zaria, Tim and Antoinetta in the entire school, a position close enough for them to be useful.

Hmm... Well, third assumes they're counting out Valerie, though fourth isn't much different, so it's a moot point. Antoinetta and Zaria still seem somewhat antagonistic to each other...

The social gymnastics here are starting to get annoying. They should just all become friends already.

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Zaria Brightly



"I guess we might as well," Netty replied. "Just, uh, try not to crash into anyone this time."

Zaria bristled and squirmed at Antoinetta's comment. Though Netty had most likely not assumed any maliciousness, thin-skinned people like herself were torn easily. Still she tried to quip back with cheeriness and a jovial attitude.

"Huh? You're one to talk!" Zaria shot a mischievous smile. "Pretty sure you fell more than me, Antenna! We'll call it even though," she added with a grin. There, that felt relaxed with just enough hint of challenge.

They were joined by Tim and Troy rather shortly, and the group was walking together now. Tim was definitely cool, but Zaria couldn't figure Troy out. Why did he seem so mad all the time? Was that just his face? She didn't for a moment consider it may have been her own biased perception, and instead leaned into the idea that Troy was just permanently angry looking. He seemed like a huge grump, and she would avoid him like her life depended on it at all costs. Hopefully, I won't ever have to partner up with him.

They walked through the school, taking a scenic outdoor path that seemed to be a simple way to class 2A. Realizing that she could take Magnet out once more, Zaria pressed the release button on her pokeball, "come out, Magnet, enjoy the fresh air!" Out came the Magnemite that the New Bark Rangers had sent her, his screws whirling and his magnets gently ticking this way and that. Out of his ball once more, the hyper and curious Magnemite zoomed over to Mellona, intrigued by her three heads. He let out a series of electronic cries, probably asking Mellona all sorts of questions about it.

It was a little funny how similar Zaria and Magnet were, really, as Zaria wanted to chat too while they walked. Both trainer and pokemon were quite talkative. "What a morning, huh? Things got kinda crazy there. But we got to see that shiny grass pokemon. That was amazing! You know, I saw a Butterfree like that once! It was pink instead of purple, and super pretty. Saw it when I was out on ranger patrol." Well, she had seen the Butterfree in a photo on the internet. But they didn't need to know that. They just needed to think she was cool. Doubtless, their heads would be filled with amazing imagery of her being a badass while she was out on the field, Zaria was sure. "Cool, right? What about you guys? Have you guys ever seen shinies before?"



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With an inward wince, Antoinetta folded her arms. Antenna - That had been one of her many embarrassing nicknames back in Sinnoh, often said in a far less friendly way. "Excuse me, I'm pretty sure my name badge reads Antoinetta," she countered. Besides, she'd only fallen because a certain somebody had crashed into her, and then Val had gotten in the way. Now she'd have a reputation as a klutz, all because of others' carelessness.

Walking on tiptoes so she wouldn't stagger, or fall again, she headed outside with the group and let out Mellona. "Hey Mel, let's explore this place properly later." The Combee hovered this way and that, as if making a mental note of the vast range of flowers. As she did, the Magnemite flew up to her, his eye flicking over each of her three heads before he let out several beeps.

"Beee-combeee-beeeee." Mellona responded with cheery cries, buzzes and twirls. She didn't know if Pokemon of other species would understand her body language, an important part of communication for a Combee, but it would help emphasise the message - all three heads worked as one unit. She couldn't help but wonder, were there any other Pokemon like that?

Netty, looking up at Mellona and Magnet, gave a twitch of a smile. Even though she had no idea what they were saying, they seemed to get along great already. If only humans could be more like that... She tried not to think about the less than warm welcome in the main hall just now, focusing on Zaria's excited chatting instead. "Crazy? That's putting it mildly," she replied.

Her eyes widened a little at the mention of the pink Butterfree. Zaria had been lucky enough to see one? In the flesh? Quickly, she put that air of self-possession back up. No way was she letting jealousy show. "Oh yeah, I once saw a Roselia with black and purple flowers in a contest," she answered. Which she had - on TV. Pretending she'd watched the show in the contest hall, though, sounded so much more impressive.

She paused. It wasn't just Zaria's mention of a shiny that had intrigued her, but the way she seemed to appreciate an undervalued Pokemon. Most serious trainers overlooked butterfly Pokemon because of how common they were and their supposed weakness, even though from what Netty knew, they had some pretty decent status moves and were perfect for contests.

"You like Butterfrees?"

There, now she'd said something else that might get her laughed at - but if people did laugh, wasn't that their problem? She'd show them, anyway. She'd show them bugs weren't to be underestimated.

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Zaria Brightly



"Oh yeah, I once saw a Roselia with black and purple flowers in a contest,"

Zaria had never been to a contest in person. Of course not, her father had been much too strict. She'd hardly had T.V., though she had eventually gotten herself a secret smart phone. Having spent countless hours staring wistfully at that tiny screen underneath her covers at night, it was only natural to feel jealous. "That must have been cool," she said lightly, feeling an internal stir. Contests were dumb, she knew that. A ranger wouldn't waste time with contests when they were supposed to be out saving the wilderness and pokemon. Of course not. And she didn't want to be in a contest at all. Not one bit.

As the conversation went on to talk about the shiny pokemon from the assembly, Netty asked Zaria a question she hadn't expected.

"You like Butterfrees?"

A grin spread on Zaria's face, bubbling into mirthful giggles. "Oh, well the shiny was cool, but-" She guffawed, not realizing how hurtful her comments could be.

"-They're just not my kind of pokemon. I mean they're alright! I just wouldn't want one. Ever." She waved a hand dismissively. "They're freaky!" Naturally, she didn't understand how her words could affect Antoinetta, Zaria was just spitting out her thoughts as they came naturally. To her, this was just sharing of opinion and harmless fun, as her oblivious self had not picked up on Netty's apparent love of the bug type. "They're pretty from afar I guess, but if you get up close and see their face, they're just gross," she added with a snicker.

Butterfree of course, roamed the land and rangers saw them commonly. But Zaria figured she wouldn't need to deal with them too often as they could fly away from most danger. When heavy storms, fires, or floods hit, flying types were safe. Not to mention poachers or the like were hardly after pokemon as common as Butterfree either. She was all but grateful that she would never have to handle a strange, hairy, alien-like Butterfree up close.

"Right?"



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And so it was decided that the four of them would walk to class together. They took an outdoor path and everyone had their Pokemon out with them. Even Rocky was casually walking by Tim's side. Tim wasn't very good with small talk. He walked along in silence as Antoinetta talked to each other. Both of them bragging about how they had both seen shiny Pokemon in person. Meanwhile, that Meganium he had cuddled with earlier was the first shiny he had ever seen up close before. These two were Pokemon Rangers, and Coordinators seeing shiny Pokemon up close, meanwhile he hadn't even been away from home before coming into this school. He knew PMA was Elite but the others seemed so accomplished. Now he just felt even more inferior than before.

And then Zaria made a comment about how gross Butterfree were up close. That set something in Tim off. He didn't know what kind of Butterfree she had seen, but the ones he were familiar with were adorable. Both up close and from afar. To hear someone trash a precious Butterfree made him upset.

"Right?"

"Wrong!" Tim interjected. He regretted saying it as soon as the words left his mouth, but it was already out there now. "Butterfrees are adorale... I mean... aren't rangers supposed to appreciate all Pokemon?”


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"What a morning, huh? Things got kinda crazy there. But we got to see that shiny grass pokemon. That was amazing! You know, I saw a Butterfree like that once! It was pink instead of purple, and super pretty. Saw it when I was out on ranger patrol. Cool, right? What about you guys? Have you guys ever seen shinies before?"

"Oh yeah, I once saw a Roselia with black and purple flowers in a contest,"

"That must have been cool,"

"You like Butterfrees?"

"Oh, well the shiny was cool, but they're just not my kind of pokemon. I mean they're alright! I just wouldn't want one. Ever. They're freaky! They're pretty from afar I guess, but if you get up close and see their face, they're just gross, right?"

"Wrong! Butterfrees are adorable... I mean... aren't rangers supposed to appreciate all pokemon?”

"Not necessarily. Their job is to protect all Pokemon, but they need only appreciate the most useful pokemon available to help them do their job." Butterfree are an interesting pokemon, but they're very hard to make work in battle in a way that isn't just an inferior Venomoth. They are both users of the Sleep Powder+Quiver Dance combo. Venomoth are faster, have stronger moves, and are less susceptible to Stealth Rock, while Butterfree have the Compound Eyes ability for a more accurate Sleep Powder. Unfortunately, Butterfree don't have Baton Pass, (unlike Venomoth) and have limiting move options, so it's better off with the Tinted Lens ability (which they both have) anyway. "Butterfree tend to be less useful than Venomoth in battle, though I'm not knowledgeable enough to say whether that translates to a Ranger's job or not." Certainly, Venomoth are found in less places than Butterfree are, and pacifying people or pokemon might be more useful than actually fighting them for a ranger.

Troy turns to Zaria. "Oh, and, to answer your earlier question, I've seen countless shiny pokemon." They're useful currency, so to speak, when trading for pokemon with potential, and many are born every year in the nurseries Troy's father owns. If he had to estimate the number of indaividual shiny pokemon he's seen his father own, it'd probably be in the hundreds if not thousands, though most of them are only obtained for further trading. "You could try trading my father for one. He has a near-endless supply of shiny electric pokemon, and can get his hands on most else, though he's very particular about the kind of pokemon he wants. You'd have to breed a pokemon up to his standards." Troy looks towards Tim. "You said you wanted to be a pokemon breeder, right?


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"You said you wanted to be a pokemon breeder, right?

Tim raised an eyebrow. "Um...Y-y-yes... Why do you ask?" Although after hearing Troy talk about his father, he wasn't sure he liked where this conversation was going. "You know, there's more to being a breeder than just hatching eggs. It's also about raising and caring for the babies. Making sure they grow up happy and healthy. Giving them proper nutrition. All of that stuff. I can't tell you how many innocent baby Pokemon my parents had to take in because so called "breeders" leave them out on the streets without a parent after hatching just because the Pokemon doesn't live up to their standards." He said in a mocking tone, and made air quotes with his fingers on the word standards.

Rocky barked in a agreement. Just to remind people he was still there.


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"You know, there's more to being a breeder than just hatching eggs. It's also about raising and caring for the babies. Making sure they grow up happy and healthy. Giving them proper nutrition. All of that stuff. I can't tell you how many innocent baby Pokemon my parents had to take in because so called "breeders" leave them out on the streets without a parent after hatching just because the Pokemon doesn't live up to their standards."


Troy raises an eyebrow. "It's a good thing it's illegal then." Troy's father went so far as to get a personal daycare. Of course, it's used for more than just the breeding itself. The daycare is constantly brimming with young pokemon, raised mainly by Ditto and the daycare staff. The non-electric types are raised until they can fend for themselves and released into an appropriate habitat, while the rest are put into the power plant programs. It's a nice place, if only because all the pokemon there are family. It's a little mind-boggling to think of how nearly all of his father's pokemon originate from the same Ditto, who is older than Troy himself. The sheer number of pokemon born there over the years total in the thousands, and on occasion the pokemon born there make the trek back to visit. He can't help but wonder how Shuckle's mother has been doing lately.

Back to Tim, he wants to be a breeder, yet the moment someone mentions breeding a pokemon for competitive standards, he brings up a negative experience related to illegal breeding practices. "If you're not comfortable with breeding pokemon for battle, you may want to reconsider your career choice, or at least the current market demands." Maybe this is an instance of culture shock? Unovan values are pretty ultra-capitalist, though producing specific improvements in pokemon is literally part of a breeder's job description, isn't it? Well, Tim's not a breeder yet... "I suppose it would be difficult to breed large quantities of pokemon and take care of them yourself without the proper arrangements. Forget I said anything." Stepping into his father's world, even if just to look around, is quite a big leap. If Troy wanted to breed a pokemon without his resources, it would be a long and arduous process. Maybe it's too much to expect other students to be able to take that step...

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Zaria Brightly



"Wrong!" Tim interjected. He regretted saying it as soon as the words left his mouth, but it was already out there now. "Butterfrees are adorable... I mean... aren't rangers supposed to appreciate all Pokemon?”

Zaria was taken aback by Tim; his reaction was not one she had expected. "Well I never said I didn't appreciate them-" she wanted to defend herself. After all, wasn't it a matter of opinion? She wasn't going to go out and hurt Butterfree just because she thought they were creepy. Normally she was better at spitting out responses, but she was unsure how she felt, as the statement made her feel quite guilty. So would she be a bad ranger if she didn't like every single pokemon? But as she was working it out in her head, before she could say anything else, Troy interjected.

"Not necessarily. Their job is to protect all Pokemon, but they need only appreciate the most useful pokemon available to help them do their job."

Wait, she hadn't expected him to be on her side, if she could have even called it that. But wait. She squinted, thinking. She still didn't quite resonate with what Troy said either. They don't need to appreciate pokemon that are only useful to them, right? I don't think or feel that way. I think rangers just need to be... Troy continued. Zaria kept thinking.

"Butterfree tend to be less useful than Venomoth in battle, though I'm not knowledgeable enough to say whether that translates to a Ranger's job or not."

How did he know whether Butterfree were better than Venomoth in battle or not? That didn't seem completely right, yet he spoke it as if it were absolute truth. To Zaria, Troy seemed too sure of himself, to the point of arrogance. So when he mentioned he had seen 'countless' shiny pokemon and how his daddy had so many shinies, she'd had enough. Ugh, quit acting like such a know-it-all! It was stressing her out, especially his 'suggestion'. What was she even supposed to trade with in the first place? What had been the point of that bogus advice she clearly could not act on? Just ignore it. he's full of himself.

When the conversation moved- as conversations tended to- over to Tim and his aspirations, there were some other points of discussion. Zaria chimed in when she had the chance, eager to share her own thoughts, if only because they kept rattling around in her head, insistent to come out and be heard.

"I think you could get a lot of jobs just raising pokemon for companionship, focusing on making sure they're happy and healthy. I had a neighbor who was elderly, and she had a support pokemon from a breeder, an Ivysaur. He was just incredible with how much he helped her around the house. And his senses were incredible, she never fell when Ivy was by her side... Even if he was kinda dumb looking," she added. "Okay, don't crucify me for saying that. It's an opinion! Having an opinion and not respecting pokemon are different things. Just because I think a pokemon might be ugly, doesn't mean I don't appreciate them. I'm just sayin' it how it is. But it's not just about which ones are the most useful, either! Hear me out."

Zaria paused, hoping to be heard.

"For rangers, I feel like 'appreciation' is more about understanding ecological niche. Butterfree are important pollinators, and they play a huge role in feeding the entire world. Even though a forest may have hundreds of pokemon, those pokemon populations affect environments in unique and important ways. There's a balance, a cycle, and rangers have to acknowledge pokemon under that context more than anything. They're stewards of the wild. I definitely appreciate that."

She shrugged.

"So anyways, you can think Butterfree are cute but they're weird to me! I like big, strong, cool looking pokemon. If I'm going to be a Top Ranger, I'm gonna need a bunch of badasses like me," she laughed, trying to keep the mood light and upbeat. Still, she didn't realize that she had the tact of a Donphan when she spoke about pokemon so shallowly. Definitely something she'd need to work on, for sure, once she was self-aware enough.

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At Zaria's remark, Antoinetta's mouth fell open. "Hey! What's gross or freaky about them?" People said that about bugs all too often. Of course, everyone had a right to like or dislike certain Pokemon, but sometimes it was at their expense, or the expense of those who appreciated them. A memory flashed into Netty's mind, of playing with a Burmy as a child, only for a bunch of kids to spot her and laugh, one of them spraying a stinking Repel all over her and the little grub. "Most people like fuzzy, big-eyed Pokemon," she continued with a scowl, "so why are bugs any different?"

At least Tim had the right idea. "Finally, someone gets it," Netty started, but the ever-pragmatic Troy cut in, weighing Butterfree's battle capabilities against those of other Pokemon. "You know, overlooked Pokemon have their strengths. Which aren't always purely battle strengths," Netty replied. "And it's not just about usefulness to the trainer, however you define that, isn't it about helping the Pokemon grow too? So many people dismiss bugs as useless, without even bothering to train them."

Zaria spoke up again, trying to be helpful by the sound of it, only to go and blurt out how ugly she thought some Pokemon were. Netty cringed, thinking of contest standards, and how the general public's views of Pokemon affected the results. Was there any way around that? Yes, surely there was, as a certain famous Sinnoh coordinator proved. "Ahem, I think you'll find there's more to 'weird' Pokemon than you think," Netty said, making air quotations. "I'll have you know, there's a coordinator in Sinnoh who proves Ghost types are anything but weird and ugly like people usually think. They can be just as stylish as any other Pokemon. And believe me, so can bugs." She put her hands on her hips. "Care to tell me, Miss Badass, what exactly makes a Pokemon cool enough for top ranger standards?"

Mellona, despite her trainer's defense of Bug types, turned and gave the entire group a six-eyed glare. What was with all the bickering? She got it to an extent, her heads sometimes bickered among themselves over types of nectar, but it was always quickly resolved, whereas this argument threatened to escalate. Couldn't these trainers just get along already?

"Beeeee!" She whipped up another mild Gust, this time at the four of them.

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Zaria Brightly



"Ahem, I think you'll find there's more to 'weird' Pokemon than you think," Netty said, making air quotations. "I'll have you know, there's a coordinator in Sinnoh who proves Ghost types are anything but weird and ugly like people usually think. They can be just as stylish as any other Pokemon. And believe me, so can bugs." She put her hands on her hips. "Care to tell me, Miss Badass, what exactly makes a Pokemon cool enough for top ranger standards?"

Huh? I don't get it. Why is she mad? It's just a little harmless banter! Zaria was so confused. She was sure she had already de-escalated the situation with her silly little joke. Okay, perhaps it hadn't been a full joke, as she did prefer 'big cool looking' pokemon. Nevertheless, she really didn't get why Antoinetta was so upset. It was just an opinion, wasn't it? Why take it so seriously? All the same, Zaria was starting to get angry too, but she wasn't ready to deal with the confrontation. Netty was intimidating, as much as she hated to admit it.

So she would attempt to lighten the mood and make amends. As Zaria was confronted with someone who had a problem with her, her nature was to keep de-escalating and not take the situation seriously. Thinking it best to keep it playful, she replied as cheerfully as she could. That way, Netty would know she didn't mean any harm, right? Well, it was a strategy, but it wasn't the right one; nor did she have the social tact to pull it off.

"Ahahaha, please! Who cares? You're taking this the wrong way, there's nothing to worry about!" Zaria reassured her, barely listening to Netty's impassioned words.

Strike one.

"Nobody said anything about ghost or bug types! I didn't say they couldn't be cool. All I said was that Butterfree were ugly and weird. And we can have different tastes! I might prefer a Garchomp to a Butterfree, but that's fine! You're blowing this out of proportion. Just relax!" Of course telling someone to relax when they were upset was a terrible approach, not that she considered that. She thought she was being playful. She was smiling, she was laughing. There wasn't anything to be mad about.

Strike two.

"Anyways, to tell you the truth, I don't care about contests. They're kinda lame? And that's just another opinion you know, nothing to get upset over!" Zaria's voice rose just at the end, though she didn't mean for it to. Things were becoming heated, she was nervous, and it had just slipped out. She immediately regretted it. No she didn't! Contests were vain and useless and all they did was focus on the shallow aspects of pokemon, no matter what anyone said. So she had nothing to regret, right? She was here to be learn how to become a selfless pokemon ranger hero, not some prancing puppet on stage. She had better things to focus on.

"Sooo, can we just move on? I'm done talking about this. Say, Troy, you didn't take your pokemon out at the ceremony, right? What kind do you have? Show us your starter! Inquiring minds wanna know! Haha, right Netty?" Surely, things would lighten up.

But that was strike three.

Just as that happened though, a Gust from the Combee blew over them, ruffling Zaria's hair and clothes. It didn't hurt, just felt like a strong breeze. Magnet seemed to ask Combee why it was doing such a thing, ever curious. The pokemon hadn't quite spent too much time around human adolescents, and was learning all he could about their mannerisms and behaviors. His human in particular smiled quite a bit, but he felt like there was something else behind it. He couldn't quite put his magnets on it, though. Instead he zoomed over to Zaria, asking for pets, which she obliged, before flying back over to Mell to continue the discussion. So far, he could mostly understand her, though some of the cries were harder to distinguish with the three heads and their own colloquial rules.

The little distractions like Magnet and Mell interceding made Zaria think the spat was over. She had forgotten her anger anyways, as she tended to do. Her father's awful temper had made her afraid of turning out like him, so she was conscious of her ire and tried not to give into it. Besides, why be angry when you could just be happy? So she smoothed her hair and patted her skirt, making sure she didn't look too mussed before class. "Ahahaha! That was funny! Your Combee's cool!" Zaria would have never had one on her own team, but Netty didn't need to know that and it was cute enough. I appreciate all pokemon, I'm just not gonna have something lame on my team!

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Troy made a comment about dumping baby Pokemon being illegal. Which, yeah it was... But that didn’t mean their weren’t jerks out there who didn’t do it anyway. His mother and father could attest to that. And then he said something about Venomoth being more useful than Butterfree, which really didn’t have much to do with the current conversation. Why is it all about battles with everyone? There’s more to a Pokémon’s charm than how tough they were.

Zaria said stuff about raising Pokemon for companionship, which was great, and something he definitely wanted to do. Until she made a comment about Ivysaur being weird looking. He knew people had varying opinions about different Pokemon, but Tim personally liked all Pokémon. From the Muks and the Garbadors, to the Jigglypuffs and the Pikachus. There was something loveable about all of them. He couldn’t stand listening to someone trash a Pokemon based on its looks. This time though, Tim held his tongue. Not wanting to cause any more drama than seems to have already started.

Antoinetta defended Butterfree, and got into a heated discussion with Zaria about it. This whole conversation made Tim upset, and Tim wanted to say something positive just to change the feeling. ”Oh... I love contests. They look like fun. But... I could never do one myself." Tim shuddered. ”Why oh why must it be done in front of an audience? People sitting there, judging you. Just waiting for you to fail. Then they laugh at you when you do mess up. Just... ah no!” He soon realized, that probably wasn't the most positive thing to say.

Then he felt a breeze, and saw Antoinetta’s Combee spreading a Gust at them all. It was actually quite pleasant. Rocky felt the need to bark and pant at it though.

”Oh, what’s wrong boy? Do you want a treat? He picked up his Pokemon, and fed him one of his specialy made Rockruff treats he carried with him. “You’re such a good boy! Yes you are!” He cooed.

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The Gust, while not a harsh one, swept Netty's hat askew again. Straightening it and smoothing her hair, strands of which stood up anyway, she sighed. "I was just saying things that needed to be said," she told Mellona, before turning her attention back to Zaria. She appreciated Mel at least, but still...

Nothing to worry about. You're blowing this out of proportion. Just relax. Nothing to get upset over. Netty's face heated with irritation and shame. She'd heard that too often from well-meaning people who talked down to those they tried to help. Was Zaria that naive, or was she being deliberately patronising? "Ugh, stating an opinion is one thing, being flat out insulting about it is another," Netty huffed. In her worked up state, she didn't think over how rude her own tone could be. After all, didn't Zaria need a good talking to? "Say contests aren't your kind of thing, but don't call them lame. It takes creativity, perseverance and effort, on the part of the coordinator and Pokemon, to put on a show the crowd will enjoy."

She turned to Tim, trying to hide how much his words resonated with her. It was all very well to imagine being in the spotlight in front of a huge, cheering crowd. Actually standing there, under the scrutiny of judges and spectators alike, faced with the possibility of letting down her Pokemon, would be another matter. "Ahaha! Like that's gonna happen when it's my turn! A few rounds in, and they'll know better than to laugh. And you can always watch." For all her blustering, a tremble slipped into her voice. The sight of Tim cuddling the little puppy was what she needed, not that she'd admit it, the only hint being a slight smile.

As the spat seemed to ease, Mellona's triple frown softened into a look of concern at her trainer. She continued her conversation with Magnet, giving Antoinetta that worried glance every so often. "Beeeee." Excusing herself, she fluttered down to Netty. "Beeeee?"

Netty patted Mellona's waxy shell. "I'm ok," she reassured the Combee. "More than ok. First official day at a place like this." Grinning, she gestured at the castle and grounds - which, now she got a fresh look at them, seemed a little too grand for her to belong there.

"Anyway, yeah. Moving along," she said, facing Troy, "let's see your starter."

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A pleasant breeze blew in, coming from Antoinetta's Combee. Troy looked its way and held his gaze for the majority of the conversation. There was something really pleasant about a Combee's innocent smile, radiating infectious positivity.

It's a shame this one didn't seem very happy at the moment.

"Say, Troy, you didn't take your pokemon out at the ceremony, right? What kind do you have? Show us your starter! Inquiring minds wanna know! Haha, right Netty?"

"Anyway, yeah. Moving along, let's see your starter."

"No thanks." Troy responded without even looking in her direction, though he did avert his eyes from Combee as attention got drawn to him, putting it onto Antoinetta. It helped that they were next to each other. "Maybe some other time." Revealing Shuckle at this point would be pointless. There's no reason to bring a Pokemon out when it doesn't pertain to battles, training, or routine care, right?

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They neared the class...



After their jaunty stroll outside, the transfers approached class 2A in the large hall of the Academic Wing. There were a pair of students waiting to greet them as they walked down the hall. A girl with long orange hair and hazel eyes, while standing next to her was a boy with nearly black hair and red eyes. Evelyn Aster and Masaru Embers were waiting for the transfer students, it seemed, and though the transfers didn't know them exactly, everyone knew the transfers.

The girl greeted them. "Hey, glad you guys were able to make it!" She beamed. "I'm Evey!"

"Masaru," Masaru said quietly. By contrast, he seemed to be uninterested. But he was here, wasn't he?

The transfers may not have realized it, but as the five new students of the sophomore class, that meant they had not participated in the grade-level annual tournaments the year prior. They were the five new students that had been accepted, from the utmost of selective applicants, and while everyone in the sophomore class had battled each other at least once during their freshman year, no one knew what to expect from the transfers. Especially after the morning assembly. Everyone was wondering how the new kids at school would fair in battle.

And that would bring a whole slew of challengers to them, but that was for another time...

Anyways, it may not have been obvious to them, but Evey and Masaru, bearing the number 2 and number 1 spot in the school respectively, had earned their spots for good reason. They were analytical, sharp, and they scoped out the competition like hawks. Just like they were properly doing now. Because until Masaru had crushed an opponent in battle, he didn't usually assume he could just beat anyone. He had confidence, no doubt, but pokemon battles always had some small luck component to them. So he kept up his guard accordingly. It was the same for Evey, but being on the breeder track, she was also curious about Tim. She knew some about the incoming breeder students, being one of the top students in the program, but she didn't know enough to satiate her curiosity.

"Now listen, about this morning, that must have been terrible when they were making fun of you all. And I'm so sorry about it." Evey bowed her head before looking up again. "But it has to be said, some of you were causing a disruption. We're going to be having other assemblies in the school year, so some of you need to tighten your act. 'Kay?" Her sentence ended with a giggle, as if she thought their antics were funny, but not as if she were laughing at them. Or was she?

"Evey," Masaru spoke up. "Nobody cares about the listening to the rules. You're not here for that either." His eyes locked with Troy's as he spoke. "After all, wouldn't you like to know more about how the new students will fare in battle?" While Masaru wasn't necessarily underestimating Netty, Zaria, or Tim on what they had to bring to battle, Troy had obviously had the most composure during the morning fiasco. He hadn't seemed affected by anyone's jeers or taunts at all, and that had impressed Masaru. An opponent with strong composure meant a challenge, a challenge for him to win. Of course, he'd need to test his mettle against the other transfers as well. But that was for another day...

"Easy for you to say!" Evey snapped. "It's my damn job as prefect to make sure the students know the rules!" Realizing that she didn't sound like her bubbly self, she doubled back to being all smiles, tilting her head and batting her lashes. "Ehehehehe~ I mean, stop being rude, Masaru!" She turned to Tim. "You're a student in the breeding program, aren't you? Is your Rockruff specially raised?" And would it be able to beat her pokemon? No, that was impossible. She was the best breeder at this academy!

It was clear that the two of them were more interested in Troy and Tim, though Netty and Zaria could have commented or shared their thoughts with each other. As Evey and Masaru had stated their interests, the floor was left to the rest of them-- mainly Troy and Tim-- to respond. It was only a few minutes until class, so they didn't have much time to talk, but Tim and Troy had enough time to get a few words in, at least.

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