Heart Combination

AutumnLeafeon

Beginner Trainer
Join Date
Feb 21, 2019
Posts
18
AKA
Autumn
Gender
Female
Time Zone
Mountain
Hello! I’m Autumn. Thank you for showing an interest in my story here. After years of collecting dust, I’m happy to be once again working on this fanfiction. This story has been through a lot, Despite only having the first handful of chapters actually written, but I feel it has come out better on the other side.

I originally started brainstorming this story after an accident that had left me blind, having a lot of unexpected time suddenly on my hands and not much to do in it. I had been a Long time fan of Pokémon in General, and I found myself occupying some of my time with thinking of creative ideas of an adventure a character could have. I had no prior experience with writing fanfiction, had only dabbled in role-playing, but enjoyed the process of creating new ideas and imagining where I could take the story. Fast forward to the miraculous invention of Siri and voice over on a smart phone and my creative possibilities were finally at my fingertips. Literally.

So, it may not be perfect, there may be some mistakes that slip by me or the helpful members of my family editing my story for me, but I hope you can enjoy the adventure nevertheless. I gladly welcome any and all feedback, comments, or constructive criticism. And without further ado, I’ll let you get on to chapter one...

__________


Chapter One: Beginnings​



Mouthwatering smells of warm bread, cinnamon, cooking eggs, and syrup filled the little kitchen in the Hall household, creating a warm and rather comforting atmosphere. At the little round table in the middle of the room, a small seven-year-old girl sat in one of the mismatched chairs, her legs pumping rhythmically as she kicked her bare feet back-and-forth excitedly. She was currently occupied by stuffing bite after bite of sticky cinnamon raisin french toast happily into her mouth, making wonderful content sounds of pleasure as she did so. She was getting syrup all over her face in the process of eagerly taking each bite, much to her mother's chagrin.

With a soft click of her tongue, Eleanor moved over to the kitchen sink, letting the current slice of bread continue to cook on its own while she ran warm water over a washcloth. Walking over to her daughter, careful to step over the Persian sprawled out on the floor like a rug next to the table, she began to clean the sticky mess from her cheeks and chin, smiling down at her little girl with a look of playful exasperation in her eyes.


Grinning cheekily up at her mother, Alarin attempted several times to put another piece of French toast into her mouth whenever the damp cloth was moved away for any length of time. When this would happen, her mother would use her other hand to move the fork away, say softly, "I don't think so," gently tap the end of her nose, and continue to clean her face.


They looked very similar to one another, despite the difference in their ages. Both were slightly short of stature, with slender limbs and long fingers. Both had unblemished skin that was all cream and roses. Their hair hung straight and thick to just between their shoulder blades, perfectly framing faces with layers of bangs that brought out the angular edges and highlighted the thin shape, and was a light blonde in color. Their eyes were a beautiful bright green with circles of caramel around each pupil, almond shaped and framed with long pale lashes. If Alarin was just a few years older and her mother didn't have so many laugh lines around her eyes, they probably could have passed as twins.


Catching the last bit of syrup deftly with her damp washcloth, Eleanor Hall quickly turned back to the stove to save the piece of french toast in the frying pan before it could be burned. She used a fork to quickly and skillfully hook the edge of the bread and move it over to a covered dish that would keep it warm. Lifting the glass lid, she set it inside and covered it up again. Alarin sat watching this for several moments, a silly grin playing on her face. About the same time that she started to eat her french toast again, her mother turned off the stove with a click and began to clean up the mess from the countertops.


"Hey mama?" The little blonde-haired girl abruptly asked around a very full mouth, cheeks bulging slightly with the surprising amount of breakfast held behind them. She then proceeded to state a question which was unintelligible past the french toast, causing her mother to turn around, with her eyebrows bunched together and a frown tugging down the corners of her mouth. Abruptly, the girl started to work on swallowing her mouthful, clearing a path for her voice.


Eleanor gave her head a gentle shake that made her pale hair sway slightly, moving the frying pan over next to the sink and filling it with soap and water before collecting the covered dish and bringing it to the table. Setting it down with a soft sound of glass on wood, she took her spot across the small round table and began to serve herself some breakfast. "You know speaking with your mouth full isn't very polite Alarin," she said after a moment, lifting her eyebrows as she poured syrup onto the slices of sweetened bread.


Tucking her chin against her chest, Alarin's cheeks flushed a soft pink of embarrassment before her voice came again, softer than before. "I'm sorry..." At this, her lower lip popped out in a gentle pout.


Her mother hesitated for a moment, considering the protruding lip before she broke into a tender smile, reaching out to gently brush her fingertips along her daughter's cheek and gently pushing back in her pout. "I'm not angry sweetie." She soothed. "Put that away and ask me your question."


Glancing up from beneath her lashes to truly gauge the sincerity of her mother's words, Alarin studied the gentle smile she was receiving for a moment before she felt satisfied. But first, she made sure that her mother went back to focusing on her breakfast, watching her until she had taken a few bites of french toast. Then the child nodded her head in acceptance, opening her now clear mouth to once again ask her question in a more understandable fashion. But before she could even make a sound, they both heard something that made their bodies freeze, heads tilting at exactly the same moment. On the floor, the Persian’s crimson eyes opened, and he lifted his head from where it had been propped on one of his paws, large rounded ears twitching. It was almost as if someone had a television on in another room, the door shut and only the sound of muffled voices barely distinguishable by their base creating a hum. After a moment, the sound vanished, leaving them to wonder if it had ever happened.


A slightly confused look blossomed onto Eleanor's face, drawing her eyebrows together and creating a small crease in her forehead. After a moment, she looked towards her daughter. "... What was that sound?" As she received a slight shrug of shoulders from Alarin, the slender woman got up from the table, quietly walking over to the kitchen sink and leaning up on her tip toes to peer outside through the window.


"... I guess it was noth-" she started to say, but her voice was abruptly cut off by the sound repeating itself. This time, it was much closer and clearer than it had been the first time. As she listened, she realized it was the sound of someone shouting, frantic and urgent. She listened again, trying desperately to make out the words. In her chest, her heart started beating harder, reacting instinctively to some unrealized trigger. And then...


"Eleanor! You must take Alarin and run! You have to get away!" The voice was abruptly saying as it received clarity, becoming louder as it continued to grow closer and closer, as if the person were running at full speed.


Alarin frowned with confusion as she realized it was the voice of her uncle that was screaming. Looking quickly over at her mother, she got down from her kitchen chair and slipped her small hand into her mother's, receiving a gentle and reassuring squeeze in return before beginning to be gently tugged towards the front door of their small cottage. She followed as quickly as she could, hearing the soft padding of paws that signaled Persian was following, and her bright green eyes turned to look up at her mother's face. "Mama, what does uncle Joshua mean?" She asked in her small piping voice, feeling the slight stirrings of fear blossoming into her stomach and making her body quiver, even though she wasn't sure why she should be afraid.


Giving her daughter's hand another squeeze of reassurance and doing her utmost to hide the fear that was starting to tug at her own body, Eleanor looked down at the little girl holding onto her hand with a gentle smile. "I'm sure it is nothing too serious Alarin."


But as they finally reached the front door, it quickly became evident that it was quite serious. As her mother reached her slender fingers for the doorknob, it was suddenly twisted from the outside and shoved open quite violently. It was all Eleanor could do to not get hit by it. On the other side of the door stood a man, his face flushed and sweaty with pieces of his blond hair sticking to it, breath coming out in pants and barely able to speak coherently anymore. There was a soft gasp of surprise and Alarin glanced up in time to see her mother cover her mouth with one hand for a moment before she reached for the man, gripping his shoulder.


"Joshua! What's the matter?" She asked in a voice that slightly trembled, clearly frightened by the sight of her brother in such a state.

Shaking his head vigorously, Joshua took the hand from his shoulder and gripped it tightly, using it to start tugging them away from the house. Almost incomprehensible in his state of panic, he was barely intelligible as he said between gasps of air, "We have...to run! It's... it's terrible!" As he spoke, he continued to tug them along behind him.


Struggling not to trip and fall to the cobblestone street, Alarin felt her eyes widen with panic and she tried to blink but found it impossible. Instinctively, she began to move her head from side to side, green eyes flickering around her in an attempt to see what had scared her uncle so badly, uneasiness making her body tense. She did notice smoke in the air, drifting lazily towards the sky in dark clouds, floating between the screams of what seemed to be many people.


"Joshua! Tell me what's going on!" she heard her mother ask shrilly, her fingers tightening painfully around Alarin's. She could somehow tell that her mother wasn't going to admit to the fear that was inside of her, striving to protect her daughter from it. But Alarin could sense it and it made her want to scream.


Slowing only very slightly, Joshua cast a panicked look over his shoulder at his sister and niece, "... Attacking the village... there is a... a Kang-" His voice was effectively cut off by something very large and heavy landing on the cobblestone street in front of them with a crunching of rocks. All three of them instinctively ducked, cowering away from the massive creature that had landed in front of them. Peeking out from between the fingers of her hands that she had thrown up over her face, Alarin felt her breath catch in her throat and her heart begin to pound against the inside of her chest in a way that was more strong than fast.


Standing in front of them was a massive Kangaskhan, her white and tan body tense as she stood with her muscled arms slightly held out from her body, mouth open partially as she sniffed heavily at the air. Her golden yellow eyes were nearly obscured by her wide dilated pupils as she stared one by one at each of the humans in front of her, long tail giving a few sporadic twitches. Quite suddenly, without any warning or indication that it was going to happen, she swung one of her heavy arms through the air, slamming her clawed paw into the side of Joshua's head. The force of the blow lifted his body and Alarin watched in horror as he flew through the air, slamming into the house next to their's. His body hit the ground with a hollow sounding thud and didn't so much as stir.


"No! Joshua!" she heard her mother scream, watching as her body lurched upwards, pulling herself to her feet and placing herself between the attacking creature and her daughter. Whimpering, unable to keep her eyes from returning again and again to the body of her uncle, Alarin forced her knees to unbend, unconsciously moving her body forward and gripping at her mothers apron strings with trembling hands. She could feel through the fabric of her mother's t-shirt that she wasn't the only one trembling.


She wasn't entirely sure what happened next, but Alarin was first aware of a buildup of sound from the Kangaskhan that suddenly tore from her body in a roar so loud she felt it vibrating in her bones and making her teeth chatter. She had just thought about covering her ears, even going so far as to lift her arms to do so, when she was suddenly assaulted with a different sensation: pain. It started on her forehead and flashed in quick succession across her right eye and cheek, down her throat and onto her shoulder, finally ending at the lower part of her ribs and onto her hip. As she fell to the ground, she was dimly aware of her mother screaming. As she strained to see what was happening, she could only see slightly from her left eye. A small gasp escaped her lips at the sight of blood stains, her blood, on one of the Kangaskhan's paws and arms, the same arms that were wrapped around her mother, crushing the life out of her body... Vision growing dim and gathering darkness on the edges, she watched as the Kahngaskahn opened her mouth once again to shriek, dropping the lifeless form of Eleanor from her bloody arms before Persian slammed into her with a screech of his own, claws raking the other Pokémon.

"...Mama...," she whispered, just as the shrieking started.

With a strangled gasp that threatened to become a scream, seventeen -year-old Alarin Hall's eyes flew open quite suddenly. For several long minutes, she simply stared unblinkingly up at the low ceiling above her bed, barely aware of the fact that her hands on either side of her body had twisted the blanket into unmoving fists. Her heart was pounding, much like it had been that day of the attack and her mind was struggling to comprehend how she came to be here, laying on a comfortable bed, head on a pillow, when seconds before she had been crumpled on the ground, bleeding and in so much pain...


A sudden loud beeping somewhere to the left of her head finally broke past the fuzzy barrier and made her start painfully, a small cry of alarm managing to squeak out of her throat as she sat up suddenly, moving her eyes quickly to locate the source of the sound. Her bright green gaze fell on the small black box sitting innocently on the nightstand, next to her bed, the alarm clock proudly proclaiming it was 7:30 in the morning by wailing in ever increasing volume. For a moment, she didn't quite understand and instead cast her eyes around the room, blinking owlishly.


"... It was... just a dream." Rin whispered softly to herself, rubbing her left hand across her eyes and down her cheek, sighing heavily as she silently told herself that it had also been a memory... That didn't make it any better.


Before she could let herself be absorbed by thinking about the past, she made herself methodically pull the blanket off of her body, place her bare feet onto the wooden floorboards after swinging her legs over the edge of the bed, lift her hands high over her head to stretch, and cheerfully say to the sunlight peeking in through her window, good morning!"


It seemed to help a little bit, even bringing a small smile to twitch up the corners of her mouth. Not wanting to let this new energy die off, allow the nightmare to creep back into her thoughts, she quickly pushed off of the bed with a soft creak of metal springs and began to prepare for one of the biggest days of her life.


"Starting with the alarm clock." she said as she happily bent down and tugged the cord out of the wall, the alarm dying out with a piteous wail.


But as she moved into her bathroom, pulling off her pajamas and turning on the hot water of the shower, Rin found that she couldn't help but think about it. Every now and then, she caught herself staring down at the right side of her body, or touching her right cheek, and especially staring at her right arm. For a long moment, she looked at her reflection in the mirror, contemplatively studying the pinkish white trio of scars that ran down the right side of her face, cutting across her eyebrow, eye and cheek before sliding down her throat and cutting deeply into what was left of her shoulder. She could picture the scars traveling down onto her ribs, deepening at her hip... But by now the steam had grown too thick for her to make them out clearly in her reflection. Sighing deeply, she turned resolutely from the counter and deposited herself beneath the stream of hot water of the shower and focused her thoughts on cleaning up.


Silph Co. had made extraordinary progress in technology since it's humble beginnings in Kanto. They had gone from creating pokeballs that could store the energy of creatures within small spaces, make lenses that would allow humans to view invisible Pokémon, all the way to recently beginning the development in hopes of perfecting the art of robotics. At the time, they hadn’t yet begun human testing with the latter, so it had been somewhat of a surprise when scientists swarmed the little village of Starpointe after the devastating attack of a half mad Kangaskhan. Once there, they had teamed up with the doctors already on the scene to rescue the little girl who had lost not only her mother and uncle, but her right arm, eye, and hip. Using never before seen technology from the large corporation, they wired both a new arm and eye to the girls brain and nerves, miraculously giving her both her sight and mobility once again, using her as an excuse to test their newest technology. They then left it up to the doctors to give her an artificial hip and finish stitching her back up, silently hopeful at the prospect of their success.


‘If only they had been able to fix the scars...’ With another heavy sigh, Rin, The child that had been in the spotlight, shut off the now lukewarm water and reached for a nearby towel.


Skin dry, her thick pale blonde hair brushed free of tangles and blown dry into a straight sheet that fell gently to the middle of her back, Rin quickly collected the outfit she had laid out for herself the night before, pulling on the comfortable jeans and sliding the soft blue shirt into place, tugging on the three quarter length sleeves until they were to her liking, she collected a belt from the back of the chair where her clothing had been resting and buckled it into place, taking a moment to run her fingers over the stitched flower pattern. Then she tugged on her hair, freeing it from the back of her shirt, before she sat down on the edge of her bed to pull her socks and shoes on to her feet. Taking one last look around the room, she finally picked up her backpack waiting for her at the foot of her bed and slid it onto her shoulders. With it's comforting weight settling into place, she made her way downstairs and into the kitchen.


Pausing at the bottom of the stairs, Rin was hit with a pang of longing as she looked around at the kitchen, the same round table in the center, crowded with too many chairs, lacy white curtains in the window above the sink, a cracked pale blue vase overflowing with wildflowers... Things hadn't changed that much since her mother had died. Not even after her aunt, uncle, and their two children had come to live with her. They had originally wanted to take her to live with them at their home in Dawnport City, but had decided to stay in Starpointe instead, following a near hysterical breakdown on the part of Alarin, who had panicked at the idea of leaving the only place she had memories of her mother, and the doctors advising them against forcing a move, fearing a critical mental breakdown.


The little family of four had only left the week before, wanting to move back to their hometown of Dawnport to make the necessary preparations for their twins to begin the process for a Pokémon journey for each of the boys. Rin had insisted that they not be concerned with leaving her behind, explaining to them her own plans. She was going to be taking a journey of her own, the news surprising her aunt and uncle greatly. She was surprised herself, making such a decision after struggling with a phobia of Pokémon. But she had worked through the problem just enough to have been able to make a resolution after discovering a package from her mother in the attic, several days before she had made her announcement.


A small cardboard box with her name written on it had caught her attention as she was sorting through a carton of summer clothing that had been stored in the attic space, curiosity overcoming her at the sight of the unfamiliar object. Unfolding the top of the box, she discovered three wrapped presents with her name written in her mothers handwriting printed on cute Pokémon themed tags. Hesitating for only a moment, Rin opened the first box to discover the very belt she now wore, the accessory accompanied by a picture of her mother when she was younger, wearing the belt adorned with a few Pokéballs and lovingly hugging a Meowth. Written on the back of the photograph was a short note from her mother expressing her desire that one day her daughter would know the joy of journeying with Pokémon partners of her own. Her resolve of never going on a journey had wavered, steadily crumbling away over the next several days as she constantly read and reread her mothers wishes.


Taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm the sudden explosion of butterflies in her stomach, Rin grabbed the last of the apples, headed out the front door and carefully locked it behind her. Pausing to look out over her village, the spot where her mother and uncle had been killed, she said softly under her breath, "happy birthday mom..."


Without another word, she lifted her chin and squared her shoulders, taking her first steps on a journey that would come to be known as one of the most life-changing Pokémon adventures in history.
 
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Moxie

Veteran Ditz
Rainbow Rocket Grunt
Join Date
Nov 2, 2018
Posts
773
AKA
Daam
Gender
Male
I have to say I really enjoyed reading this! The insane amount of detail you went into for each portion of this is pretty astonishing. It really helped me picture the atmosphere and scenery that you were trying to get at.

The tone shift was also handled really well. The cozy start really made me lower my guard only for that middle portion to jolt me. I can't say it was the smoothest transition to the present, since the tone shifted again before fluctuating? It kind of made me confused since I didn't know what I was feeling as it was solemn at some point before shifting to optimistic before shifting back. But the flashback/dream was handled really well.

I'm really excited to read more if you continue to update it here ^^
 

Bunnie

litle creacher
Rainbow Rocket Grunt
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Dec 2, 2018
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550
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bed
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Female
omg, that was really good! i love your descriptions, it felt like i was there with the characters. I'm so curious about which pokemon Rin will choose, definitely looking forward to the next part!
 

Resolute

To the beat of his own drum
Rainbow Rocket Grunt
Cult Classic
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Nov 1, 2018
Posts
757
Location
Southeast PA, previously Northcentral
AKA
Ben, Res, Baguettes, Baggy
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Male
Time Zone
EST
WOAH! Definitely did not expect that to go in the direction it did. This kept me reading all the way to the end. I'm excited to see what happens in the next chapter! :joy:
 

AutumnLeafeon

Beginner Trainer
Join Date
Feb 21, 2019
Posts
18
AKA
Autumn
Gender
Female
Time Zone
Mountain
Aww! All Of you, thank you so very much! It was such a Pleasant surprise to read over all of your comments. I really appreciate the feedback and support!

I’m happy to hear that my descriptions come off as immersive and not overwhelming, that‘s something I worry about sometimes. And honestly, I also need to work at the mood of the moment and not shift it around to erratically. But I’m glad most of it was smooth.

Again, I really appreciate the feedback! And I am definitely planning on posting more of this story. I’m happy that I’m not the only one excited about it. :D
 
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AutumnLeafeon

Beginner Trainer
Join Date
Feb 21, 2019
Posts
18
AKA
Autumn
Gender
Female
Time Zone
Mountain
Chapter Two: Professor Pine​


A gleaming yellow sun had just been beginning to crest the ring of mountains that surrounded the Timber Valley when Rin had taken her first steps through the village. It created a soft golden light that made a decent effort of warming the early spring morning as well as to dispel the shadows that were attempting to prolong the night. In these shadows, dustings of frost clung to cobblestones or blades of grass, glittering faintly in the light before the sun inevitably melted it away.

Timber Valley was created by a ring of mountains that held within the circle of its arms not only the small village of Starpointe, but the massive Forest known as Timber Wood and the appropriately named Starry Lake, the star shaped body of water taking up a third of the valley. The valley itself was situated in the south eastern corner of the Arion region. It was a nearly complete circle of mountains that surrounded the bowl like valley, with a single canyon creating a break at the northern most point. The lake took up the southern third of the valley and was surrounded by a large meadow. Starpointe Village itself was nestled between two points of the star on its eastern bank. That left the last two thirds of the valley to be covered by the large trees in a blanket of evergreens, a road connecting the canyon to the village creating a pale scar that cut through one side.

The valley was also fortunate enough to have its very own professor that had decided to settle in the small village rather than seek out a large city to live in. This caused enormous relief to the inhabitants of Starpointe who wanted to travel on a Pokémon journey. It saved them the trouble of having to travel to Goldust City, the home of the other Professor in the region, in order to receive their partner. Rin happened to be one of these people.

Enjoying the chance to be able to stretch her legs in the crisp morning air, she was rather grateful that the butterflies knotting in her stomach would be settled sooner rather than later. As she walked, she contemplated who she would decide to choose as her partner. This was a very serious decision, seeing as the one she chose would be there for her entire journey. And she didn't want to end up with a partner that would one day change their shape into a form that would dredge up lingering terror. Every now and then, she would be pulled from her thoughts to respond to greetings or gestures from some of the other early risers in the village.

One man, who was on the large side and sported a bald head, didn't hesitate to call out to her with, "Starting out on your journey then, Alarin? I wish you the best o' luck in selecting your partner and safe journeys to you."

Rin politely nodded to him and his Simisear that was perched on his shoulder, smiling at them. She watched him for a moment as he turned to unlock the door to his bakery, assailing her nose with the smells of already baking bread. He and his Pokémon made a delicious tasting orange roll and she was almost tempted to stop and purchase one. But the fluttering in her stomach quickly pushed those thoughts aside. It had been quite the effort to take a few more bites of the apple she had grabbed earlier before she had finally given up and offered it to a more than willing Zigzagoon that she came across.. She was quite grateful she hadn't given into the temptation when a few moments later the large Pokémon laboratory came into view and her stomach attempted to do a back flip. Staring up at the wide white walls of the building, her attention was drawn by movement near the front door. A man was standing there and after a moment, she felt the corners of her mouth drawn up in a smile as she realized it was none other than the Pokémon professor himself.

Professor Augustine Pine was young in comparison to a lot of the other professors, barely entering his late 20s. He stood well over six feet, but whenever he was asked about just how much, he always changed the answer with a cheeky grin. He usually seemed to be smiling, his favorite expression. This made his green eyes dance as if he were privately enjoying his own joke. His hair matched his eyes, only slightly darker in the green coloring, and was kept in a relatively short cut. At this moment, his head was bent slightly towards a small pink Pokémon that was often perched on his shoulder. This Pokémon was quite lovingly known as Nugget, and was a miniature Slowpoke. She was usually found with her body draped casually across her owners’ shoulder, her tail dangling down his back, tiny front paws gripping a loop of cloth that the professor had sewn into his lab coat to make sure she didn't fall off. Her wide dark eyes, which were normally staring vacantly into space, were currently quite riveted on her trainers face as he spoke. She then quite suddenly, which was an accomplishment, turned her head to look at the approaching Rin, A dopey smile spreading slowly over her face. Noticing, Professor Pine lifted his own eyes to smile quizzically down the road. When he spotted her approaching, he suddenly broke into a brilliant smile.

"Hark! Is that a potential trainer coming down the road to visit us, Nugget?"" Pine cried happily, knowing full well who it was coming towards him. With only three long strides of his long legs, he closed the distance between himself and the young woman. Reaching out, he gathered her right hand into both of his own, smiling warmly down at her. He didn't seem to notice, or mind, the fact that that particular hand was robotic. But this was just part of the professor's character.

Smiling up at the professor, Rin felt some of the anxiety and nervousness ebb out of her body by the perpetual bubble of euphoria that seemed to surround, and indeed emanate from, the man. She always felt that way when she came here, which had been a very frequent thing before she'd been convinced of starting out on a journey.

"Good morning Professor,” she responded in her soft voice, reaching into her pocket as she did so and pulling out a piece of dried pineapple. This she lifted to Nugget, politely placing it inside the Slowpoke's mouth and gently closing it. "And good morning to you too Nugget." She added, smiling at the look of surprised delight that entered the Pokémon's eyes.

"And a good morning to you as well Rin." The professor responded in kind, eyes sparkling at the treat she had brought his Pokémon.

Rin felt another piece of anxiety vanish at his use of her informal name. She hadn't really gone by Alarin since her mother had died, the use of it reminding her too much of her loss. The other people in the village hadn't made the transition, having been around when her mother was alive. But the professor had come at a later date and quickly accepted calling her Rin without question.

Nugget added her own squeaky greeting in a slightly muffled voice, unwilling to relinquish the hold on her treat. Pine laughed delightedly, releasing his hold on Rin's hand and reached up to give his partner an affectionate scratch behind one of her ears. He nodded his head after a moment and his smile seemed to become brighter.

"Nugget is right. Are you ready to come into my laboratory to take the first steps to become a Pokémon trainer?" he asked, tilting his head a little and lifting both of his eyebrows.

The excitement peaked within her and Rin felt a smile blossom into new life upon her lips. "I thought that was why we are both here." She said, taking a stab at making a joke. It had a desirable effect on the professor, who tilted his head back slightly and laughed. Turning on his heel, he gestured for her to follow him through the open double doors of his laboratory.

"I do believe that is correct." He responded with another chuckle, glancing to the side when the young woman started to follow him in a quick step. For every one step that he took, she had to take almost three.

The room that they entered was small and square shaped, with a table against one wall with a complicated looking computer on top of it, a row of cupboards and drawers against the opposite wall, and a machine that healed Pokémon situated in one corner next to a doorway. Walking over to one of the cupboards, professor Pine opened it and began to pull out various items, occasionally muttering something to the Pokémon on his shoulder. As she waited, Rin stood quietly to one side of the room, looking around curiously. She spotted a small deck of cards situated on the end of the table and smiled. It was Magikarp's Go Fish. It was something that she and Nugget had done together, helping her to overcome her fear of Pokémon and getting to know the professor at the same time. In retrospect, she was extremely grateful she had come to this place on that day five years ago.

Clearing his throat, Professor Pine was able to draw her from her thoughts of the past and pull her attention to him. He had made his way over to another smaller table in the room, a cardboard box set on top of it, and was gently gesturing her to come over. Allowing one final glance of fondness for the game, Rin stepped across the room and closed the distance between them. Glancing curiously at the box for a moment, she then focused her bright green eyes up at the man she had come to consider a father figure. Smiling when their eyes met, Pine began to talk.

"I'm sure you know quite a few useful things about Pokémon, considering you have been coming here frequently over the last five years. I know that you are aware of how to use potions and healing items, the differences between the vitamins, how strong each pokeball is, which types are effective or not against other types, things like that. I want to talk to you about what you will find useful on your journey, things that will give you information. For example, “at this point, he reached into the box on the table and pulled out a much smaller flatter box and handed it over to Rin, "your Pokedex."


Fingers fumbling for a moment at the edge of the box, Rin felt her breath catch as she finally managed to get her fingernails under the lip and remove the top of the box. Sitting nestled amid soft styrofoam was a sleek thin electronic book, it's tough outer shell a light blue in color. Finally releasing the breath she had been holding, she reached inside to pull out the Pokedex. It was fairly lightweight, with a camera on the front cover and a port near the bottom where the charger could be plugged in. Pressing a small latch on the side, the top part popped open to reveal a space where a trainer card could be placed on the underside of the cover and a blank screen that took up most of the inside of the device. There was a small button to the side of the screen that Rin pressed, and the machine powered on, flickering into life. The menu appeared on the screen with the following list: Pokémon information, map, messages, camera, item information, and customization.. Fascinated, she tapped the screen where the button for item information was located, watching in amazement as another list appeared that had every item a trainer could use arranged in alphabetical order.

Blinking, she quickly looked up at the professor, "I... Uh, thank you!" She whispered, pressing a button on the screen that said “back” before closing her new possession.

"You are welcome. I'm guessing I got the color right then?" Pine responded with a wink, satisfied when the girl nodded her head. "You'll be able to send me messages should you feel like it, using this latest version of the Pokedex, as well as anyone else who has a similar device. To record Pokémon information, you simply point it at the Pokémon in question. I am issuing you with a challenge to fill out as many pages as you can."

Nodding her head once again, Rin decided to test out her Pokedex on Nugget, opening her device once again. Pointing the camera in the Pokémon's direction, she listened as a computerized voice then proceeded to say:

"Slowpoke. Slowpoke are amphibious creatures of notoriously dim intellect. They take a long time to respond to outside stimuli; it takes as much as five seconds for them to process pain. Their tails are particularly numb to pain, as it takes more than a day for them to feel when they have been bitten on their tail. Although they are generally seen as being extraordinarily stupid, they are very gentle and caring, as well as skilled anglers. Unfortunately, they are easily distracted and forget what they were doing. Although many view Slowpoke as largely useless creatures, many folktales surround Slowpoke, including the belief that their yawns cause rain."

Glancing up at Nugget, she lifted both of her eyebrows at the description that had been given. "I hope she doesn't yawn often when she is inside then," she said, causing the professor to burst into laughter. He reached down to lovingly pat his Pokémon on the head. She looked rather indifferent, still working on her piece of dried pineapple.

"Well, on that note," Pine managed to say between chuckles, "I think that it is time for me to show you where you will be able to select your own partner."

There was the feeling of swallowing butterflies once again as Rin followed the professor to the doorway at the back of the room, her hands slippery on the Pokedex still clutched tightly between her fingers. She hadn't received any answers to what would be available and the idea of facing the unknown was enough to make anyone nervous. When the professor paused just inside the doorway, she felt as if her stomach had tried to do a barrel roll. Lifting both of her eyebrows in surprise, she looked up at the man next to her for answers. He smiled at her once again, gesturing to another open doorway at the end of a short hallway.

"Through that door is where I keep all of the Pokémon I have caught, or bred, and study. I usually keep them in outdoor enclosures, but have brought them inside this morning for your perusal. I will be in here if you need any help, have any questions, or have made your decision," he explained, touching a door to his right that had a bold ‘STUDY’ printed on it. "I figured that you would rather go alone and select by yourself then have me fluttering around you making you nervous and coloring your decision,” he added, noting the slight look of confusion on the young woman's face.

Rin felt slightly better after this explanation, grateful once again that she hadn't decided to travel to Goldust to have this same discussion with Professor Spruce, and nodded her head in understanding. "Thanks Professor." She said genuinely before turning to continue down the hallway alone, feeling her excitement start to peak once more.

Behind her, unseen, Professor Pine subtly crossed his fingers and offered a silent prayer for her success.
 

Moxie

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I have never seen anyone sum up people complaining about evolutions not looking as cute, as articulately as you. All the praise in the world for that.

Your detailed descriptions are honestly even better than the last chapter! I can pretty much picture the geography of the location just by your detailed, vivid, yet easily understandable descriptions. It really does make it a joy to read since you're pretty much crafting up a town map from your words itself and I'm actually starting to keep track!

I'm also really glad you addressed that she needed to get over her fear of Pokemon. I was actually wondering why Rin would want to go on a Pokemon journey after that incident...I'm glad I didn't bring it up last chapter lol

My favorite part of this chapter was definitely when she got her Pokedex. I was shocked at how much effort you put into differentiating it from other Pokedexes along with personalizing it so that it didn't seem repetitive. Just reading that paragraph made me obscenely happy for one reason or another.

AND AAAAA CLIFFHANGER! I was curious on what the three starters were! Something to look forward to I suppose.

I know this chapter was a lot more calm and more slice of lifey, but I enjoyed this a lot more than the first chapter! I'm really excited to see where you take this story Autumn ^^
 
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Bunnie

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"And she didn't want to end up with a partner that would one day change their shape into a form that would dredge up lingering terror." YES THAT'S A LEGIT FEAR RIGHT THERE ;o;

i'm really enjoying this story, your writing is very polished, and your hard work really shows. Not much happened here, but it was still a great chapter and i loved the way you described professor Augustine, i enjoy reading your descriptions in general ^^

Miniature Slowpoke must be so cute btw asdygfiyakjb .w.
i can't wait to find out which pokemon Rin will choose as her partner!!
 

Resolute

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I can't wait to see what the starters are going to be like! are they going to be fused Pokémon like the ones you mentioned before? 👀
 

AutumnLeafeon

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Sorry for such a long delay! Getting the flu sucks. >_<

Honestly, you guys are motivating me to keep working on this story! Thank you so much for the support and the feedback! Moxie, you actually made me blush. I’m glad to hear that my descriptions aren’t too over-the-top or complicated.

Bunnie... I really want a miniature Slowpoke. Ha ha! I think that would be adorable! XD

Ah, hybrid starters? Hmm... How about I finally post the next chapter so that I don’t leave you guys hanging anymore and finally answer that question.

__

Chapter Three: Heart Connection​


The first thing she noticed was the height of the ceiling over her head, generously supplied with skylights. The next thing to catch her attention was the numerous wide windows that lined both walls to her right and left in an unbroken line from corner to corner. Beneath these in similar lines were fenced off square spaces with mesh netting secured to poles that provided sufficient barriers between the enclosures. And finally, behind each of these walls were several different varieties of Pokémon. At first glance, she saw some enclosures had signs on them stating if the inhabitants could be selected as starters, others saying that they were for breeding purposes only, and others that simply said off-limits. Making notes of which ones were which, she started to walk slowly through the room.

The first area to catch her attention was full of fluttering bodies, another mesh net also across the top. She saw Pidgey playing with Pidove and Fletchling, while Starly and Spearow looked haughtily on. She also saw a couple of Ducklet pecking at some seeds in a feeding trough, one of them that was particularly aggressive chasing off a rather hopeful looking Tailow. Rin smiled as she watched them, a few even showing some interest in her. Making a mental note to come back this way, maybe to check on some of the more timid acting birds, she moved away to the next enclosure.

Studiously ignoring the pen with Nidoran milling inside, she wanted to avoid anything that remotely resembled a Kangaskahn, she peeked through the mesh at a brightly colored group of Pichu that were playing a game of hide and seek in some hollow logs that had been placed in their area. Crouching down to watch a few minutes of the game, she saw one of the Pichu with spiky ears pounce happily on a Minun he had discovered trying to hide behind a tree stump. Giggling and squeaking, the two wrestled around for a moment before one of them noticed her watching curiously. With another flurry of squeaking they quickly rushed over to the edge of their enclosure and peered up at her. Giggling, Rin poked a few of her fingers through the material, enjoying it when both of the electric Pokémon began to investigate and play with her fingers. Several more abandoned the game of hide and seek to see what was going on and she ended up having to stick her other hand's fingers through the mesh. This got quite the reaction, the shiny silver metal of her robotic arm something they had never really seen before. A Plusle was the first who was brave enough to place one of her paws on the finger closest to her. When nothing bad happened, she let out a few squeaks of surprise and curiosity, moving on to explore the other fingers.

Several happy minutes went by in which Rin was able to scratch a few of the Pokémon behind their ears, wiggle the fingers of her metallic hand for general amusement, and consider quite possibly choosing one of these electric rodents. But she had to keep reminding herself that she hadn't even seen half of the laboratory's occupants yet. With a reluctant sigh, she drew her hands away and got to her feet. As she turned and walked away, she thought she could feel several pairs of eyes staring at her back in a somewhat accusing way...

Rin happily spent a long time wandering through all the different enclosures, putting her Pokedex safely into her backpack as she did so. She saw several different varieties of both types and species ranging in a large spectrum. She actually was startled into laughter as she watched a group of Abra that were concentrating on lifting twigs off the ground with their psychic powers. One of them got so excited when his lifted into the air that the stick suddenly shot straight into the middle of his forehead, sending the poor thing tumbling backwards.

What she thought were Sandshrew and Togedemaru lay curled into tight balls and bunched together as a group to take a nap. A Machop was showing off to a group of friends by smacking his fists into a rock and creating cracked dents. Several Squirtle and Merril were happily blowing bubbles into the air and letting Whooper attempt to pop them. A small group of Caterpie slowly munched on a pile of leaves, one jumping back in surprise when they accidentally bit a Sewaddle

She had just started considering returning to the electric enclosure when something strange caught her attention. On the other side of a pen that held a group of Hoppip floating around lazily was an area that was fenced off with what looked like glass instead of mesh. Curious and slightly confused, Rin made her way quickly over to the anomaly. Placing one of her hands against a wall, she was surprised to discover that instead of glass, her fingers were touching a very smooth plastic. She also noticed that where her skin touched it sent a small wave of multicolored lights through the surface. Eyebrows lowering slightly, her bright green eyes flickered around the inside, trying to discover what was being held in such a different environment.

Nothing. There was absolutely nothing behind the plastic barrier. Just in case she had missed something, she quickly moved her gaze down to the floor and quickly scanned it. Still nothing. Growing more confused by the minute, she then looked up towards the top of the enclosure. Completely empty. "Huh..." She said quietly, again moving to study the floor of the box. She nearly bit the end of her tongue as she jumped back in surprise. A dark purple ball had suddenly appeared right in front of her face, pressing itself up against the plastic, large eyes open wide, fanged mouth open in a ridiculous grin with its large tongue pressed up flat against the barrier. At the sight of her startled expression, it suddenly began to laugh, pulling its face away and grinning at her. Several other Ghastly appearing behind it and beginning to chuckle. A few other ghost Pokémon also appeared, but Rin was barely paying attention to them. She stepped back away from the plastic wall and turned away, quickly walking down the wide room.

Barely aware of her surroundings, Rin tried to control the shaking in her body, gripping her elbows and pressing her arms tight against her stomach. Rationally, she was aware that they had just been having fun, playing a trick on her. But the fright she had received was enough to rattle her and cracked open the door to the nightmares she had tried to lock away. After she had gone several yards, not really seeing the Fennekin or the Purloin she was passing, the young woman finally came to a slow stop. She waited in silence for several seconds, staring up at the ceiling high above her head, barely moving a muscle. Then all at once, Rin let out the breath she had been holding in a sharp huff, saying as she did so, "you're never going to become a good trainer if you don't get over this."

Taking a deep steadying breath, she lowered her gaze once more and began to look around, trying to regain her composure as well as her location and confidence. For a moment, she was distracted by the sight of brightly colored Chatot flapping around a multitude of perches when she noticed a solitary figure curled up in the corner of the neighboring pen, the only one in the entire area. Intrigued, as well as regaining some of her curiosity, Rin walked over to the mesh netting and squatted down, hoping to get a better look and understanding why this particular Pokémon was alone.

He was primarily grey in color, with black on his muzzle, face, and paws, a canine shape to his body. He was positioned in such a way that his chin rested on top of his front feet while the rest of his body lay sideways, back legs spread out to one side. His ears, small and pointed, were pressed tightly against his skull. After a moment, she saw his pink nose twitch as if he were checking her scent. She thought his species was Poochyena, but there seemed to be some differences that didn't add up with her memories. For one thing, there appeared to be two crescent white ridges in the middle of his back, making the fur stick up slightly in front of them. For another, there were a few black or cream-colored stripes on his back and tail. She could also see that the fur visible on his belly was a reddish brown in color.

Leaning back on her heels slightly, Rin felt herself become more confused when she also noticed that the Poochyena seemed to be refusing to open his eyes, even to make sure there was a stranger outside of his enclosure. Even when she saw his ears shift when she made a sound, his eyes still didn't open. Glancing towards the small door next to her between two sections of mesh, she felt as if she were being pulled into standing up and unhooking the latch near the handle.

Opening the door with a slight creek, she stepped through into the enclosure and gently shut the door behind her. With careful deliberate steps, she approached the small creature laying on the ground. He didn't move when she sat down carefully only a foot away from him, though his body tensed. Rin silently studied him for several seconds before extending her left hand, holding it only an inch or so away from the pink nose. It twitched several times as he sniffed, but he still made no motion to open his eyes to look at her. Dropping her hand back into her lap, Rin found herself content to simply watch the little Pokémon, allowing herself to be absorbed by the mystery of him.

"One of my assistants found him in the forest," a voice suddenly said behind her a few minutes later, causing Rin to start almost painfully and twist her body to look behind her.

Professor Pine was standing on the other side of the wall, watching her with a sheepish expression upon his face. "I didn't mean to startle you. I noticed you come into the enclosure and was... curious," he admitted, his expression changing to one of a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

Trying to slow the rapid beating of her heart, Rin quietly smiled at him, glancing back down at the Pokémon in front of her, as if she couldn't look away for too long. "That's all right Professor... Why is he alone?" she asked, a slight croak to her voice from not using it for so long. She noticed that the sound of their voices had caused the Poochyena to finally lift his ears to listen to them. Even with the sudden appearance of the professor, he still hadn't opened his eyes. This, along with the subtle differences in his body, had created an unshakable curiosity in her.

"Because he is completely unique," Pine said in a matter of fact voice, earning a quick confused look from the teenager. Sighing heavily, he folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the mesh wall with one shoulder. "To start from the beginning, I sent out one of my assistants to the forest to collect some berries. While she was exploring a patch of bushes in search of low growing fruit, she discovered our friend here. He was badly injured, bleeding from cuts across his face, legs, and stomach, and was nearly dead when he was discovered. She quickly brought him back to the laboratory and we worked together to heal his injuries. I noticed several differences with his body, as I am sure you have, and proceeded to scan his body. Originally, I was thinking that he was just a Poochyena that had adopted a difference in appearance, like what people refer to as shiny Pokémon. But when the scan was concluded, I discovered the real truth behind it..."

When his voice trailed off, Rin looked over towards the tall man and felt rather surprised when she saw that he was frowning. In all the time she had known him, she had never seen his mouth turned down for anything. Even when she had shown up unexpectedly after lunch, or when she caught him napping after a long day of research, a slight smile was always turning up the corners of his lips. Now however, his expression was dark, and his head was turned away from her, looking up towards the ceiling.

"When this poor Pokémon was still developing inside of his egg, someone used very precise instruments to cut out segments of his DNA, destroying them... or storing them away for future use. They then inserted DNA from other species into the missing places. Essentially, this single Pokémon contains the DNA of five completely different species."

Rin felt horrified at the idea that anyone would want to tamper with a life, cutting sections of his being away and inserting that of a stranger. The shock was so great that she felt herself begin to cry, tears sliding down the left side of her face. So overcome with emotion was she, she reached out again with her left hand and gently placed it on top of the Pokémon's head. He jumped slightly but didn't move away.

"W-Why would someone do s-something like that?" she whispered brokenly, gently rubbing the velvety ears.

"Power... Perverted curiosity... Attempting to create the ultimate fighting machine... There have been several such sick people in the world," Professor Pine said in a disgusted tone. “I’ll probably never discover the motivation behind whoever did this...”

"They're wrong t-to do that..." Rin then whispered, leaning her head closer to the soft creature beneath her hand. "I'm s-sorry little one. I won't let them hurt you again."

All at once, the eyes opened up, looking straight into hers. They were a vivid clear blue. He stared up at her with such an earnest expression, she felt as if they were riveting her to the spot and looking into her soul all at the same time. In that instant, something silently passed between them, forming a bond that would forever tie their lives into one. And she knew, they would never be parted again.
 

Moxie

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Another beautifully done chapter~ I honestly look forward to these updates Autumn ^^ so I’m glad you’re motivated~

I loved the idea of the different species of Pokemon in pens rather than the traditional “pick out a ball” because it provides the Pokemon’s personality in a way.

The way you wrote Pichu and caterpie were both adorable that I was so close to awwwing out loud. Never thought I’d aw because of a caterpie =.=

I’m surprised by how much I feel for Rin already only after 3 chapters, like my mood sunk when she started shaking which was probably the intended effect but sure didn’t feel great XD

A testament to your descriptive skills really were when you introduced the Poocheana. I could actually tell you were talking about a poocheana just by your description alone over 100s of other Pokemon. God I hope the poocheana is okay ;; this kind of reminds me of the Eevee being tested on by team rocket plot line.

Another solid chapter which I enjoyed reading a lot ^^ and yikes the flu. I hope you feel better now and if you don’t, then I hope you feel better soon ;;
 

Bunnie

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yes yes, it's back!! ^^

i enjoyed these pokemon scenes soooo much, you created such a perfect atmosphere ;o; i felt like i was there with Rin, observing the pokemon! and the scene with Ghastly was so good, i felt Rin's curiosity and then her fear so intensely.

i feel so bad for the little Poochyena, but i'm happy to see that Rin chose it, and very interested in seeing how those two will get along! I'm also really curious about how it will do in battle :o
 

AutumnLeafeon

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Ha! Well, that last chapter was probably one of my favorites that I’ve written so far. I really enjoyed picturing all of the different Pokémon and how they might act. I really like the idea of having several different Pokémon to choose from, so I wanted to reflect that with having a professor that specializes in breeding. :)

And yay! I’m happy to hear that my story can invoke actual feelings, that’s nice to know. Even if they weren’t the greatest emotions to feel, I think it’ll help connect with the characters better. Which sounds like it is happening. And it doesn’t sound like you guys are opposed to that either, so... XD Hopefully all of the positive emotions will come across as well in the future!


———

Chapter Four: Final Preparations​


The day had become golden in the time that it had taken Rin to discover and choose her partner, illuminating the laboratory brilliantly through all of its numerous windows. It made her blonde hair nearly white when she would pass beneath a pool of light, the silver halo it created dancing around her head. This was disrupted often however, seeing as she kept ducking her head down to peer at her Pokémon. Every time this would happen, he seemed to sense her gaze and blue eyes would meet green, staring at one another for immeasurable amounts of time. Then she would giggle, his tail would wag, and their eyes would both turn forward once again.


It had been an easy, natural, and instinctive gesture for Rin to extend her arms in the enclosure and gather the Poochyena mix into them, whispering as she did so, "Would you like to go on a journey with me?" Her answer had been a soft huff and a warm tongue swiped across her cheek.

And he had remained in her arms since, looking around interestedly as they made their way back through the laboratory, her pointing out some of the other species of Pokémon to him.

All of them, big or small, seemed to be a surprise to him each and every time he would look to where her finger was pointing. She soon discovered that they were a surprise to him because he had never opened his eyes before. Her appearance and sorrow had affected him to the point where he finally wanted to view the world around him. Now, each time his brilliant blue eyes were turned in her direction, she couldn't help the surge of humble gratitude that flooded her.

They had just passed by the last of the enclosures when the professor turned to the right and opened a door that was labeled with a large OFFICE on the front of it. He politely gestured for Rin and her companion to enter first, saying as he did so, "Go ahead and take whichever seat you would like.”

As girl and Pokémon entered the room, it didn't take long for both of them to agree on a comfortable looking armchair situated in front of an expansive desk. Cradling the Poochyena in first one arm and then the next, Rin slipped her backpack from her shoulders and placed it next to the chair before sinking onto the cushion, gently placing her new companion onto her lap. He rather quickly situated himself in such a way as to be able to turn his head back and forth in order to look between the two humans as they talked, which he did after interestedly watching Pine as he moved around the desk and sat in another chair. Rin couldn’t help but notice that the little gray canine leaned away slightly from the professor, though she didn’t understand why. He didn’t seem too know why either, showing in the way he continually glanced at the man and tipped his head to one side a little. What ever the reason, she hoped he would relax soon.

Settling back into his chair, the professor smiled warmly at the pair, running one hand through his short green hair for a moment before saying, "Now that you have made your decision, one which I wouldn’t have let any ordinary trainer choose, it's time to get the final pieces into place so that you two can hightail it out of here." As he spoke, he reached into a drawer and pulled out a thick piece of paper and a pen. The latter was tapped briefly on the surface of the desk before he continued. "I think we should start in that direction by filling out your trainer card. Sound good?"

Rin nodded her head and smiled softly. "I think that is a good idea," she said in agreement, a little embarrassed that he didn’t think of her as an ordinary trainer.

Nodding his head, Professor Pine clicked the pen and began to write. "Trainer's name is Rin Hall," he said first, mischievously giving her a playful wink while she herself felt another rush of gratitude towards this man. He turned his eyes back towards his writing and continued to talk out loud as he moved the pen over the smooth surface of the paper. "Your age is seventeen... And your birthday is the 27th of October."

As he reached the next section however, he hesitated and glanced up once again. But instead of looking at Rin, he was studying her Poochyena, eyebrows lifted. Then he very carefully wrote the next portion. "I think, for the sake of simplicity, we will put your starter as a Poochyena mix. Is there a name you would like to give him?"

At first, Rin had opened her mouth to ask what specific species her Pokémon was made of. But the question was enough to give her pause and made her mouth slowly close. For a long minute, her bright green eyes flickered over the creature in her lap, trying to decide on a name that would be suitable for him. As she studied him, she noticed more details of his differences she hadn't initially seen in the enclosure. The first of these had actually been when his head was turned towards the Professor, listening intently to the sound of the pen scratching away and the words he was speaking. The backs of his ears were both a dark and rich plum color, the shading just beginning to spill over the back of his neck in an uneven v pattern until it began to blend with the natural grey and faded away completely. Where this coloring ended, a brilliant white stripe as wide as two fingers traced along the length of his spine, ending several inches out onto his bushy tail, just before the black coloring at the end.

Pulling her thoughts back from the distraction of examining him when his brilliant blue eyes turned towards her, a look of curiosity within them, Rin hunted for the names that she had been thinking of, momentarily dropping her gaze to the faintest of brown coloring each of his toes.

"Toby?" she asked, looking up into those startling blue eyes.

Her response was a very evidently wrinkled muzzle and a soft snort.

She tried again. "Casper?"

This time she got a small growl followed by another snort.

"Okay. What about... Liam?" she continued, unable to help releasing a small giggle despite getting her names shot down.

A very simple but intent stare met this suggestion, his pointed ears turning back.

Going on the assumption that this was clearly a no, Rin thought for another couple of seconds before another name drifted to her, remembering her mother’s Meowth she had owned as a girl. The same Meowth that had evolved into the Persian That had fought so desperately to save her life, only to succumb to his wounds and later die. The memory temporarily wiped the smile from her face, something close to an ache hitting her in the chest.

"Salem?" she tried, a nostalgic smile finally turning up the corners of her mouth.

All at once, the Poochyena's ears flew up and his expression seemed to become more intent at the same time. Slowly, he tilted his head slightly to one side. It was silent for several seconds before he suddenly huffed. Quick as thinking, he then placed his front paws onto her stomach as he arched his body to plant a lick squarely in the middle of her chin. He then sat back and proceeded to look rather proud of himself, maybe even a little bit smug as well. His tail started up a steady rhythm, thumping the side of her leg and the arm of the chair in turn.

Laughing softly as she proceeded to wipe off her chin with the sleeve of her shirt, Rin returned her gaze up to the professor.

"Salem seems to have won." She then gave a very generous ear scratching to the newly christened Salem.

"Salem it will be then," Pine finally managed to say after his own bout of laughter subsided, scratching the entry down onto the card. He made a few final notes, tapped something into the keyboard on the computer next to him on the desk, wrote a series of numbers across the top of the card and then held it out to her.

"You should be able to put that in the front of your Pokedex with the new design that they have. Congratulations Rin."

Gratefully accepting the rectangular piece of paper that would officially make her a trainer at last, Rin took a moment as she fished her Pokedex from the front of her backpack to let Salem get a chance to sniff it before she slid it into place on the inside cover. "Thank you, Professor," she said gratefully, running her eyes for a moment over the glossy piece of paper and his precise penmanship for a moment before shutting the device and slipping it back into her bag.

The site of her starter Pokémon's name and species had reawakened her curiosity from just a moment before. Running one of her fingertips across the middle most of a trio of dark stripes that cut their pattern in a crescent around each of Salem’s forelegs, she found herself with an opportunity to finally ask the question that had been burning in her from the moment she had first met him. "Um, professor? ... what species exactly make up Salem's DNA?"

Pine looked up from where he had been putting the pen away in the drawer and seemed slightly surprised. Shutting the drawer with a soft thud, he straightened up in his chair and nodded his head. "A very good question to ask." He seemed to be absorbed by his thoughts for a moment, eyes growing distant as he thought over her question. There was no need to find a file with an exact list printed on it. He had had that knowledge burned into his memory the instant he discovered it. With a soft sigh, he leaned his long arms against the surface of the desk, supporting his weight on his elbows.

"As I'm sure you have already surmised, the majority of his DNA consists of that of a Poochyena. I believe that was what he was meant to be originally, what he was inside of his egg,” he started. “The second greatest amount of data comes from the genetics of a Houndour. Smaller in quantity, but still playing a factor in his structural design are both the DNA of a Lillipup and a Growlithe, both with equal parts... And the last piece of the puzzle, as it were, and the most surprising to me is the small amount of DNA that comes from a Stunky. Quite the mix of typing he has there," The Professor concluded with a gentle smile.

As each different species was named, what they had contributed to the Pokémon sitting in her lap became evident one by one. Different aspects of his body structure clicked into place and finally made sense, completing the picture as a whole. Smiling gently, Rin gathered Salem into her arms once more and planted a kiss on the top of his head, right between his velvet ears. "Perfect," she said simply, the tempo of his tail increasing as he nuzzled himself up beneath her chin.

"I wouldn't have let you take him as a partner if I didn't know that you felt that way," Pine said seriously, though the smile was still present in his features.

Rin studied his expression for a moment before she smiled herself, burying her face into Salem's soft fur. "I know... Thank you."

•••​

Rin and the professor stood in the open doorway of the laboratory several minutes later, the first with her backpack squarely situated on her shoulders once more and the latter with his arms folded across his chest as he had started asking any final questions before she would finally leave. Both of them had paused for the moment however, watching as Salem got his first chance to romp around the grass.

Having finally relaxed, he was happily and curiously attempting to sniff every square inch for minute details, but was quickly discovering that much of it smelled the same. Every now and then, a blade of grass would accidentally insert itself in one of his nostrils, resulting in a bout of sneezing. After about the third time this occurred, Nugget, Who had been brought outside after being collected from a cushion in the main room,slowly lifted her head from her front paws to quietly make a comment to the other Pokémon.. Whatever she had said, it caused Salem's ears to fly up and his expression to change to that of surprise. After a moment, he carefully lifted one of his own front paws and rubbed it against his nose on the side that the grass had been invasive. All at once, his expression changed to that of delighted surprise and he quickly sprinted over to the Slowpoke's side and seemed to launch into a series of questions, tail moving about a hundred miles a minute behind him, rocking the back half of his body slightly.

"It looks like Nugget can give some good advice," Pine commented with a slight chuckle, enjoying the site of the once broken Pokémon starting to become so full of life.

Rin felt herself smiling warmly, Green eyes flickering up to look at the professor. "It's because she has such a good trainer."

The professor looked surprised for a moment, before his expression melted into another smile and he slowly shook his head a few times. "Ms. Hall, you will one day discover that it has to do with the Pokémon and their own personalities too."

As her expression took on a thoughtful quality, he decided to ask the final questions before letting her go. As much as he enjoyed having her here and being able to talk with someone openly, especially about beings such as Pokémon, he shouldn't keep her much longer if she were to make any progress out of the valley today. "Are you sure you have everything that you need? What about pokeballs? Do you have enough healing items? Do you have enough food?"

Rin thought carefully over the supplies she had in her backpack that rested on her shoulders, going over everything twice just to be safe. She shook her head slightly and widened her smile. "I discovered a box that my mother had planned on giving me three years ago for my birthday. It had healing items, pokeballs, berry containers, and even a few accessories for Pokémon. I'm pretty much set on those grounds. As for food, I have a small stove and some dehydrated food that I can cook. Besides Professor, I'm sure there are a lot of people on the way and in all of the cities and towns that I will pass that wouldn't mind giving me something to eat."

"Fair enough," Pine responded, feeling some of the anxiety lift from his shoulders. "Are you also sure that your arm and eye are functioning properly?"

At this, she gave an experimental rotation of her robotic arm and concentrated on moving her similarly robotic eye. Both of them moved smoothly. "I made sure to have them in top shape status a few days ago. I'll get them checked out when I reach Goldust City."

Giving a nod of approval at her words, the professor finally had to admit that there probably wasn't anything that he himself could do more to help her. She had the items, she had the Pokémon, and she even had the right kind of attitude. He wouldn't be surprised if in the end she decided to become the Pokémon Champion. Sighing, he opened his arms wide to give the teenager one last hug before she would leave. Rin gratefully stepped into them and wrapped her own arms around his middle, giving him a gentle squeeze. There was a moment of silence before he finally patted the back of her head affectionately and they stepped away from each other.

"Be sure to keep Nugget and I updated on your progress."

Rin laughed, wiping away a few tears that had begun to spring up in her left eye. "I promise," she said simply, finally turning away and walking over to her Pokémon.

The Poochyena was watching her with concern and interest, tilting his head slightly as he peered up at her with his bright blue eyes. She smiled at him in reassurance before opening her arms. Salem didn't hesitate as he sprang into them. Fighting the feeling of breaking into tears, she held him close to her chest as she began to walk away, pausing only to give one last wave over her shoulder to the man and his Slowpoke that were waving back to her.
 

Moxie

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That was a really cute chapter. It was a lot less packed in content, but Salem's introduction and personality just made the chapter for me!! I half expected him to be kind of weary of Rin and it might have been a better narrative arc even though it's been to death but I really like him so far!! I can't wait to see him and Rin travelling.

aaaaa this chapter was just so bubbly and I really liked how you made the start of the Journey a lot more formal than it was meant to be, making it seem like it was a whole lot of paperwork so a normal kid wouldn't be able to just write it up. Can't imagine how 10 year olds would manage to be approved to be trainers.

Just wondering what makes Rin so special as a trainer though, besides the uh...attack. Or is it her robotic parts? That part was lost to me a bit.

Overall that was a sweet read!! I can't wait to keep reading
 

AutumnLeafeon

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10-year-old trainers? In my region? Never! Ha ha! You actually have to be 14 to travel through Arion, but I haven’t brought that up yet anywhere. That’s part of why Rin mentions that she was going to receive her starting gear three years prior to this. She would’ve been 14 at that time.

Yeah, this chapter was more of an establishment of the beginning of Salem’s personality and clarifying his unique DNA structure. He probably would have been uncomfortable with someone else, but I touch on that briefly in a later chapter. He has his own reasons for trusting her... But! Spoilers! Shh!

... I guess it was a little unclear why the professor thought Rin was acceptable, true. I suppose it mostly stems from the fact that he has seen her develop over the last five years. He knows her strengths and weaknesses, her kind understanding, knows of the pain and emotional struggles she faces and understands that her and Salem have both been scarred, Both physically and emotionally. He might also know something that he didn’t divulge, but that’s a secret to reveal another time... ;)

But, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
 

AutumnLeafeon

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Chapter Five: Spinerak Attack​


It was almost a strange sensation when the sound of crunching along a gravel path melted away into the sound of dirt shifting beneath her soles. It made her heart give a slight squeeze as Rin realized that the change in sound meant that she had just left the invisible boundaries of her village. For a moment, she simply stood and absorbed the feeling, taking a deep refreshing breath before she started walking once again. By her side, happily stretching his leg muscles, Salem noticed her reaction and let out a soft inquiring bark. She smiled down at him, understanding his question in some way.

"It's been a long time since I've left home," she explained quietly, watching the puzzled expression that blossomed across his face. "The village is what I consider to be my home."

His blue eyes flickered over his shoulder, staring for a moment at the thing she had called a village and home. He then let out a soft snort as the understanding escaped him, finding the evergreen forest in front of them more interesting. As he turned his attention back to it, Rin noticed that there was movement ahead of them. A small brown body was wriggling in a patch of grass a few yards from the boundary of the first trees, tiny squeakings and chirps floating to them. After a moment, the creature paused and abruptly stood up on its hind legs, squinting suspiciously at them. It was shaped like a long rodent, covered in a short brown pelt and almost looking like he was wearing some sort of vest. Rin carefully reached for her Pokédex and just as carefully opened the cover, pointing the small camera towards the creature.

"Watchog, the lookout Pokémon," the device chirped happily, showing a duplicate image of the Pokémon on its screen. "There are luminescent compounds in Watchog's body that allow its stripes and eyes to glow. It uses this ability to threaten predators. Its cheeks can hold a large amount of seeds, which it collects and spits at its opponents. Watchog possess night vision and can view its surroundings in the dark."

Glancing up, Rin watched as the Watchog gave it's yellow markings a few flashes in their direction before it bent down once more and gathered a small pile of seeds it had apparently been gathering and rather hastily stuffed them into its mouth. Cheeks bulging, it landed on its front paws and ran hastily into the forest, giving its tail a few more warning waves. As she watched it disappear, Rin had the feeling that the Pokémon hadn't been as small as she first thought it was. It made her grateful that it hadn't decided to attack them. As she looked down at Salem, she could tell he was having similar thoughts. Sliding her Pokédex into a pocket on her pants, Rin found herself wondering when they would be able to finally have their first battle.

Most of the afternoon quickly slipped by in blissful moments of peace, occasional conversation drifting between the two partners. There had been a brief explosion of excitement when the idea of battling and training had come up, quickly followed by a bout of Salem trying to find anything and everything that would take him on in a fight. One eventful moment even resulted in him attempting to climb a tree to get at a Pachirisu that was apparently scolding him from one of the top branches. It had taken a bit of quick thinking on Rin's part to convince him that it really wasn't worth it.

Currently, he still seemed to be sulking slightly over the lost opportunity. Squinting up at the sky for a moment, Rin decided to try an idea that might cheer him up. Finding a soft patch of grass only a few feet from the side of the road, she slipped her backpack from her shoulders and settled it onto the ground, unzipping a few of the pockets. This seemed to rouse some curiosity in the Poochyena mix and he quickly began investigating with a series of sniffs.

"I think it's time for lunch," Rin said by way of an announcement, pulling out a small propane stove, a few packages of dehydrated food, and a large bottle of water. She took a moment to study the labels on the sides of the packages before deciding to ask Salem's opinion. "Do you think we should have rice and vegetables in cream sauce," she held out the first package, "or pasta in tomato sauce and cheese?" she held out the second package.

Salem squinted between the two packages, apparently trying to decide which sounded better. After a moment, he lifted a paw and placed it onto the one containing the rice.

Laughing, Rin gave him a scratch behind the ears, "Good choice." She then proceeded to measure out the appropriate amount of water into the small bowl on the top of the stove and turned on the heat to get it boiling. She then ripped open the bag and poured the contents inside, putting a lid on top of the whole thing when she was done stirring. She then sat back to wait while their meal cooked.

Salem watched the stove for a while with evident curiosity, but seemed to grow bored after some time had passed by without anything eventful occurring. Rising from his seated position, he took to sniffing around their temporary camping spot. As he was interestedly investigating the roots of a nearby tree, the pokédex let out a happy pinging sound. Reaching into her pocket, Rin opened the cover of the light blue device and watched as the screen flickered on and notified her of a new message. Pressing the small envelope icon on the screen, it pulled up her message in an instant.

Dear Rin,

I know you must not be very far on your journey yet, but I’ve been working on a new program that compiles team data and I was able to produce some new information for your device specifically that will allow you to keep tabs on your team and the different moves they have an understanding of. I put a special tweak in the programming so that it would recognize Salem and some of the possibilities of the attacking moves he might know. Go ahead and test them out when you get the time. I do hope that it works for you! Let me know if there are any problems.


Best of luck, Prof. Pine"


Following this message, she noticed an icon that said download program. Giving it an experimental poke, she watched in amazement as her device returned to the home screen and proceeded to add Team Information to the top of the list. Eager, she excitedly pressed this button and was quickly prompted to enter the data of her first Pokémon. Assuming this meant pointing the camera at Salem, Rin lifted the Pokédex until it was able to see her Pokémon. After a few moments of scanning and thinking, information appeared on the screen. It listed all of the different DNA strands that made up her Pokémon and then proceeded to string out a list of possible moves it was likely he would know.

Wanting to test a few of them out, Rin lifted her head and called softly, "Salem, want to do some training?"

Her words received an instantaneous reaction, the Poochyena mix spinning around on the spot and quickly trotting over to her. His head was tilted slightly in a way that she was quickly becoming used to, long tail twitching.

Accepting that response as an affirmative, Rin Took another peek at the list in front of her and selected an interesting sounding move. "How about you try out howl," she suggested, glancing back up at Salem to see his reaction.

He was looking rather thoughtful, eyes slightly distant. After another moment, something seemed to click into place and his small angular head tilted back. His howl was pitched high and was haunting as it started out low before wavering higher. As it tapered off into silence, he looked expectantly at his trainer.

She smiled brilliantly at him and gave him several approving nods. "Excellent! You did that perfectly," she praised, causing a slight embarrassed shuffling of paws.

Glancing around, Rin quickly picked up a few branches scattered around their temporary resting spot and stuck one end of each of them into the ground. It looked rather silly, but it made for good target practice. "Try using bite on one of these branches," she then suggested, again watching him as he thought about it.

It didn't take him as long this time to understand her command and the Poochyena mix quickly sprang forward at the first stick. Halfway there, he opened his jaws to reveal his pointed fangs before they were suddenly hidden again in a quick snap of teeth and twig. As he spit the broken pieces of his properly demolished target out of his mouth, Salem again looked intently at his trainer. He appeared to be alive with excitement, blue eyes brighter than normal.

Rin responded with a scratch under his chin and praised him, saying "good."

She had already chosen the next move from the list and therefore didn't hesitate when she said, "let's give a leer to the next one." She indicated the next twig with a gesture of her hand.

Salem seemed a little confused by that one and took longer in thinking over it. Eventually, his eyes narrowed in a glare that practically melted the bark off the branch as it was visibly dropping its defense.

Without hesitation, Rin continued on to say, "now use ember."

With growing amazement, she watched as her partner again opened his maw and a flickering light began to grow in its depths. Then all at once, a small ball of fire shot out from between his teeth and completely engulfed the top half of the stick.

For a long moment, the two of them simply stared at the partially glowing remains of the stick, Rin in amazement and Salem with something close to thrilled excitement. Seemingly as one, their heads turned to look at one another.

"Amazing," Rin breathed softly, causing a look of respect to come across her Pokémon's face. He walked over to her purposefully and gently rested his chin upon her knee. She began to run her fingers through the thick fur of his neck before a sudden hissing sound caused both of them to jump.

"It looks like lunch is demanding to be eaten," Rin commented, turning to look at the small stove where the food was cooking.

She reached over and turned off the heat and used her robotic arm to pull the lid off, releasing an explosion of steam. Salem quickly lifted his head and watched intently as his trainer got out two bowls and a spoon. She swiftly divvied out the appropriate portions and began to blow on the steaming rice to cool it off. As she did so, she carefully poured a small amount of water into the stove and turned the heat back on at the lowest setting, planning on boiling off the food residue.

When the food was sufficiently cool, she placed one of the bowls in front of her partner. He sniffed it for several seconds before glancing back up. Rin scooped out a spoonful of creamy rice and vegetables, which Salem was waiting for her to do, and placed it into her ready mouth. This seemed to be more than enough for the Poochyena mix and he promptly began to eat the contents of his bowl.

The meal passed in quiet serenity as they ate their fill of the delicious rice, spending time just simply enjoying being with one another as they allowed their stomachs to settle. Rin made sure to clean out everything before setting it aside to dry. They simply sat and listened to a few birds calling back and forth to one another for several minutes before moving on. With a soft sigh, Rin stirred and began to collect her things to replace them in her backpack, breaking the spell that had overcome them and made them want to sit like statues.

"Time to get a move on," she said as she got to her feet, settling her backpack into place on her shoulders. Snorting in agreement, Salem proceeded to tackle the last remaining branch, breaking it in half before trotting after his trainer with his tail held high into the air, streaming behind him like a banner.

•••​

As the sun finally began to descend through the sky and the world became lit in twilight, Rin felt that it had been a productive day despite the fact that only a few things had actually happened. They had been major enough events that it had filled out the day and made it one she wasn't going to be forgetting anytime soon. Preemptively preparing to stop for the night, she began to look for a likely camping place that would be off the road but not require them to need to use force or constructive means to get to it. As she searched, she thought about the little Pokémon by her side.

He had been thrilled to finally get the opportunity to flex his attacking prowess when an unlucky Snivy had hissed at them and raised his tail menacingly. Quick as thinking, Rin had shouted the first attack to come to her mind. Being a super effective move, ember had been the best choice. The grassy snake had been quick in calling the retreat farther into the trees, flames still flickering along his tail. Smiling at the memory, she turned her green eyes down for a moment to cast a fond expression at her partner who was at this moment so full of pride and excitement, she could practically see his aura glowing.

Stifling a sudden chuckle that threatened to burst from her, she quickly glanced up towards the forest again. Almost immediately, she caught sight of a small clearing a dozen or so yards down the path. It was almost as if a giant hand had plunged into the edge of the forest and scooped away the trees, leaving an almost perfect half circle. There was a soft layer of grass as well as a cluster of berry bushes that made the entire scene very inviting. Picking up the pace slightly, Rin eagerly made a beeline straight for it, Salem only a few inches behind.

By the time they had made it to the small clearing, the light had decided to increase its rate of vanishing. It left just enough illumination for the trainer and her Pokémon to clear away a few branches and straighten out the sleeping bag Rin produced from her backpack. As she began to undress and locate her pajamas, it gave Salem just enough time to investigate the bush laden with ripe fruit before she called him over from her position inside of the sleeping bag. Making his way over to her, he took a moment to sniff her empty shoes before proceeding to crawl onto the spot near her head. They looked at each other for a long time as they allowed their bodies to relax, erasing the weariness of the days events. Turned onto her left side, Rin was able to place her metallic hand protectively onto the mix's back. He readjusted after a moment, lifting his head to allow one last yawn before his eyes finally flickered shut. Smiling, Rin quickly followed him into a state of relaxed unconsciousness as the world grew dark around them.

In the world of her dream, she walked slowly through the laboratory once again, studying the various enclosures that held all of the different Pokémon. But as she walked, she slowly began to realize that something was wrong. The Pokémon she saw now were not the happy creatures she remembered seeing earlier, but instead seemed to be crying over the bodies of companions or hiding in the corners of their cages. Many of them were strange and distorted combinations of several species. She saw as one and then another, and another of them snarled at her, clawing at the mesh walls and slicing them to pieces. With cries of joy, they sprinted for her with mouths open wide. Heart leaping into her throat, she ran for a door that stood open welcomingly, offering safety. Only a few inches from it, it quite suddenly slammed shut with a resounding crash.

Startled awake for the second night in a row, Rin kept her eyes tightly closed as the sound of her own harsh breathing filled her ears. Quietly as she could, she slowly controlled her breathing back to a normal volume and rhythm, consequently allowing her heart to decrease from its rapid pace. It took several minutes before she was satisfied with the results and finally opened her eyes. Salem hadn't been disturbed by her nightmare, still deeply submerged in his own dreams that made his legs twitch. She watched him for a little while, absorbing the peace his presence brought to her. Finally, she felt as if she were ready to fall back to sleep. Rolling as carefully as she could onto her back so as not to disturb her partner, Rin was suddenly seized by a flood of shock and something leaning towards terror as she finally noticed the bright eyes of the creature not two inches away from her face.

It took only a split second for the lime green spider Pokémon to realize that its cover had been blown and it reacted by spreading its bright yellow legs wide and emitting a high-pitched screech before throwing itself down upon her face. Vivid pink mandibles clicking menacingly, it lunged its face downwards towards her exposed skin. All of a sudden, it vanished behind an explosion of gray fur that barreled into it, sending it spinning through the air to land with a thunk against a nearby tree before falling to the ground. Rin took the opportunity as it lay flailing on its back to sit bolt upright. Salem didn't even twitch to look in her direction as he stood rigidly between the sleeping bag and the flailing limbs, blue eyes locked onto the Pokémon that had attacked his trainer. His lips were curled back in such a way as to expose his fangs and wrinkle his muzzle, a growl rumbling in his throat. Infuriated by the unexpected attack, the spider flipped its body upright and scuttled backwards in a half circle to face its attacker, screeching loudly once more. Rin didn't have to grab her Pokédex to know what it was, having heard many a bird trainer complain about their sticky webs. Spinerak, the poisonous web spitting spider Pokémon.

Scrambling to collect her scattered thoughts, Rin focused on the stiff hackles of her Pokémon. Some clarity seemed to return to her and she found herself shouting, "Salem, bite it!"

Reacting instantaneously to her command, the Poochyena mix dug his claws into the ground as he launched his body forward, mouth open wide. His teeth closed down around one of the yellow legs, causing it to crumple up against the green body next to another leg that had already been injured by the sudden tackle. The Spinerak let out a hiss of pain before turning its head to bite into Salem's side. Yelping at the painful attack, he jumped backwards away from the spider. It then proceeded to spit a string of sticky web towards him, But he was quick enough to jump out of the way before it could entangle his body.

"Ember," cried Rin as she realized that the attacking Pokémon would be susceptible to it, her memories flickering back to the information she had received from those other trainers.

Opening his jaws in response, the flickering light was briefly seen for a moment within his mouth before the flames shot towards the Spinerak, hitting it squarely in the side as it turned to scuttle to a better attacking point. Screeching as the fire blackened its abdomen and legs, it decided to use another sticky string shot. Salem didn't move as quickly this time and his legs were shrouded in the move inhibiting substance, slowing him down and causing him to stumble. Seeing its chance, the spider suddenly rushed forward to deliver another serious bite.

"Quick, use ember again," Rin shouted as she felt her heart give a frightened squeeze.

With only inches to spare, Salem launched another ball of fire straight into the Spinerak's face. The clearing danced with the light of the fire as the spider came to an abrupt halt, twitching and screeching with the pain of the fire rapidly engulfing its head. After several long painful moments, the screeching died away and it slowly toppled backwards onto the ground, all eight of its legs curling up against its body as it let out one final hiss.

With spots of light swimming in her vision, Rin hastily pulled herself from her sleeping bag and stumbled over to Salem. She tried not to glance in the direction of the crumpled spider, her face still itching where its legs had been. With fingers that slightly shook, she began to remove the sticky string that was clinging to Salem’s legs, throwing it towards the forest. As the last of the web fell away and she tossed it into the trees, her Pokémon quietly walked over to the stiffening body and gathered it into his jaws. Just as silently, he walked off into the trees with only a slight rustle and came back a short time later with his mouth empty. Rin quickly gathered him into her arms and hugged him tightly to her chest, his body quickly reciprocating the affection by nuzzling against her, tucking his nose beneath her chin.

"Thank you," she whispered quietly as she returned to the sleeping bag and gently crawled back inside, still holding him close to her. Her response was one soft bark before she pulled the sleeping bag up and over both of their heads, protecting them from the world for the rest of the night.
 
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Moxie

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Awesome as ever~ Like I did prefer the earlier chapters, but this chapter did kind of introduce the relationship between Rin and Salem even more. That ending fight with spinerak was awesome imagining a tiny spinerak being that dangerous is kind of hard to believe though

Always fun to read Autumn!
 

AutumnLeafeon

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Chapter 6: Taste of Victory​


Crisp morning air somehow seemed to find its way around the defenses of the sleeping bag hiding the partners beneath its canvas and cotton. It was still somewhat cold as it gently kissed the end of Rin's nose with its chill. As a way of waking someone up, it was rather effective, though it did have a tendency to make them feel as if they had just gotten to sleep only moments before. As Rin blinked several times in a confused sort of way, Salem lifted his head with his nose twitching at the unexpected intruder. He then made a sound that was something close to a groan before it broke into an almighty yawn. This caused the young woman to grumble in protest of the stench and made her feel more optimistic about getting out of the sleeping bag.

"Good morning to you too Salem." she said in a husky voice as she proceeded to throw her body as quickly as she could from the warmth of the sleeping bag.

Goosebumps exploded along her arm and legs, the cooler than normal air finding her exposed skin and giving it a tickle. Clapping her hands together a few times, Rin grabbed for her backpack and the clothing she had stored away. Dancing from foot to foot, she managed to get on her denim pants without falling backwards. She then tugged her night shirt over her head, allowing for even more goosebumps before she managed to stuff that away and pull on a soft cotton long-sleeved white t-shirt. Pulling on a windbreaker jacket, she sat down on the end of the sleeping bag to do likewise with a pair of socks and her sneakers. Rummaging around in another section of her backpack, she collected a brush and hair tie, fastening her blonde hair into a long ponytail behind her head. Returning the brush to its pocket, she then turned towards the opening in the sleeping bag and gently prodded the lump that was Salem. He grunted once before wiggling his way out of the bag, pausing a moment to stretch his body, shake out his fur vigorously, and give another almighty tongue curling yawn. He then turned towards Rin and gave her a sleepy wag of his tail.

"How are you feeling?" she asked genuinely as she gave his chin a scratch, thinking about the terrifying battle from last night. Salem had been bitten rather badly after all.

He seemed to think about it for a moment before wagging his tail once more. Not entirely convinced, Rin decided that she wanted to diagnose him herself. She patted one of her legs to call him over and began to inspect the area where the Spinarak had bitten him. She gently rubbed away some sticky residue in his fur before carefully parting it to examine a bump on the skin below. It wasn't all that bad, not even a hint of blood, so she brushed his fur back into place. She then gently patted his back before turning her attention to other matters.

Digging around in her backpack once more, Salem quirking his head with renewed curiosity, she retrieved one of her bowls. She then hefted herself from the sleeping bag and made her way over to the berry bushes, the curious Pokémon trailing behind her.

"Time for some breakfast before we move out," she said, plucking ripe juicy fruit from the branches and collecting it into her bowl.

Once she had a plentiful amount, she walked back over to her sleeping bag and sat down once more. Pulling out her water bottle, she washed off the berries before picking up one and offering it to Salem. He sniffed at it for a moment before taking it between his teeth and setting it on the ground next to him. He then took an experimental bite and seemed to enjoy it so much that he collected the rest of the berry into his mouth and quickly snapped it up. Only a moment later, he was looking expectantly up at his trainer and running his tongue over his lips. Rin giggled before giving him a small handful to eat. While he busied himself with consuming his portion, she began to eat some for herself. Together, they enjoyed the gush of sweet juice across their tongues, the two of them happily worked their way through the entire bowl. Feeling refreshed and satisfied, they collected the sleeping bag into the backpack and started off down the road once more, making their way towards the next town in their journey.

The morning and most of the early afternoon passed by with little excitement, birdsong accompanying them as the partners conversed quietly and enjoyed their surroundings. Salem had at one point darted into the trees for a moment, coming back shortly thereafter with a branch laden with hardy root like berries that reminded Rin of carrots. Together, the two of them shared the fruit. Shortly after this discovery, when the shadows beneath their bodies were starting to lengthen in the opposite direction, they received an exciting surprise.

The sound of dirt and rocks crunching under slim bicycle tires reached their ears long before they caught sight of the actual bicycle. When it finally came into view, Rin was immediately drawn by the sight of the girl riding it. She was short and almost painfully thin, with hair the color of an open orange flame and skin that was nearly completely obscured by numerous freckles. The girl seemed to spot the pair shortly after this and increased the tempo of her peddling. As she got close enough, she abruptly skidded to a stop and sat panting for several seconds while her bright blue eyes danced with excitement. Rin and Salem slowly came to an uncertain stop, the latter's nose twitching and sniffing even though there were still several feet between them.

It was the redhead that broke the silence first, cutting Rin to the chase as she opened her mouth to offer a greeting. "You a Pokémon trainer?" she asked in a thick southern accent that made her words slightly hard to understand.

Blinking slightly in surprise, Rin hurried to jump past the greetings as well, in order to catch up with the thread of the conversation. She smiled at the girl and attempted to use her naturally friendly demeanor to help with keeping things light and comfortable. "Yes, I'm a trainer. My name is Rin and this is my part-," she was suddenly cut off by an explosion of giggling from the other girl and watched in bewilderment as she then proceeded to quickly get off her bike and carefully lean it against a tree.

Skipping back over to the pair, the girl’s face split into a grin that nearly went from ear to ear. When she came to a stop, she ended with a small bounce.

"Name's Anna an' I am a trainer too," the girl said rather quickly, looking even more excited than she did before. One of her small hands suddenly darted for her belt, plucking off a shiny red and white ball attached to it. For a moment, she rolled it between her fingers as she seemed to be thinking. "Wanna have a battle?" she then asked eagerly, her confidence appearing as a visible cloud around her.

Rin took a few moments to try and absorb Anna's words, the girl spoke so fast. To buy herself some time, she glanced down at Salem. The Poochyena mix looked about as thrilled as if another Spinarak had challenged them to a battle. The small wrinkle above his nose quickly made up her mind.

"We would love one," she said, glancing back up at the hyper overconfident girl.

There was a flash of something close to triumph that shown in Anna‘s eyes, and she quickly did a pixie hop to a spot that was several feet away from the duo. She then spun on her heel and raised her Pokeball into the air above her head.

"Time for our victory list to get longer! Come on out Rosie!" As she said this, she pressed in the button on the side of the Pokeball and tossed it into the air. It arced gracefully for a moment before opening on an invisible hinge, a beam of bright red light shooting out and beginning to condense into a lithe shape. After a few moments, it took on the shape and colors of a beautiful creature.

Primarily green, it had a similar appearance to that of a small lady that was wearing a crown and holding two bouquets of roses, one red and one blue. It regarded the other trainer and her Pokémon for a moment before suddenly striking a pose that was eerily similar to the one Anna made about the same time.

Quietly, Rin retrieved her Pokédex and opened it, pointing its accurate camera towards the new Pokémon. It thought for a couple of seconds before displaying a picture of the green creature, but in a more dignified pose.

"Roselia, the Thorn Pokémon. Those raised with clean water are said to grow more vividly colored flowers. Hidden within these beautiful flowers on their arms are concealed toxic spikes, don’t even think about picking them,” the Pokédex informed her happily, also displaying information that this was a grass and poison type and adding useful links to healing items for any poisoning if something like that should happen.

Anna tittered softly as she watched Rin, a look of smug superiority appearing on her freckled face. In front of her, her Roselia had managed to adopt a similar expression and was directing this at Salem. Apparently, they were far above using a Pokédex to gain information.

Rin ignored the negativity, focusing more on her excitement and nervousness at the prospect of her and Salem's first trainer battle. She had studied some of the books about the formalities of battles and was harboring a small feeling of hopeful confidence that she and her Pokémon alike would do well. Carefully putting away her Pokédex once more, her gaze flickered down towards her partner.

"Ready for this?" she asked him, satisfied when his own eyes turned up towards her and he offered a single bark and a flash of his teeth.

"Alrighty then. We will have a one on one battle since both of us only have one Pokémon. The winner will receive 300 pokédollars from the loser," Anna began to trill quickly, her words tumbling over each other in her excitement, "Sound fair?"

“Sure,” Rin responded politely before nodding to Salem.

She couldn't help but smile slightly as she watched her partner strut forward with his bushy tail lifted high into the air above him. He walked a few feet away from his trainer before he stopped, planting his paws squarely into the ground and lifting his chin in a challenging posture. Without waiting for a word from her own trainer, Rosie danced forward a few feet as well, shaking her rose blossom in a way that was probably supposed to be menacing, but came off rather cute. They stared at one another across the distance of only a few feet, muscles ready to jump into action at a moments notice.

"Rosie use poison sting!" Anna said so quickly that the words became one, throwing her arms forward in a dramatic gesture.

Reacting to her command, the Roselia folded her arms together quickly before opening them wide, sending a small spray of poisonous barbs flying through the air. Hissing as they pierced through the air, they headed straight and true for Salem's heart. Reacting quickly, he leapt sideways. The first two barbs whistled past harmlessly, ruffling his fur lightly. The next pair managed to graze his shoulder, scratching the skin and taking a few strands of hair with them. The last and final barb hit the area a few inches below his shoulder with a soft thud and a sharp yelp from Salem.

Feeling dizzy at the sight of her partner in pain, it took Rin a few moments to respond. "Use your teeth to take the sting out so that you don't get poisoned. Then let's try a bite!" she said quickly, though not as quickly as her opponent, fearing that despite her swift effort, he would still end up poisoned.

Responding to her words with a slightly surprised expression, Salem quickly bit down on the poisonous spike and swiftly pulled it out. Letting it drop to the ground, he then exposed his fangs in something that looked similar to a toothy grin. Digging his claws into the dirt of the road, his body rocketed forward towards the rosy Pokémon. She stumbled back a step in surprise, mouth opening as if she wanted to say something. Before she could react, the gray blur of the Poochyena mix was upon her, sharp teeth snapping as he brought them together in a bite in the middle of her torso. Wailing In pain, the Roselia swung one of her thorny arms towards the spot right between Salem's ears. He smoothly sidestepped the blow and stumbled forward with the momentum. He quickly took advantage of the opportunity to give her another bite on one of her flailing legs.

Looking like she wasn't happy at all, Anna stomped a foot on the ground. "Shake it off and use razor leaf!" she said fiercely, still confident that she had a victory under her belt.

Rosie responded almost immediately, plucking several of the leaves from her apparently many layered skirt and tossing them into the air. Using her ability to control plants, she sent these flying through the air with a worrying whirring. Salem didn't have time to get out of the way this time. The leaves flew towards his body and left several cuts across his cheeks, muzzle, and forelegs in their passing, only to fall harmlessly to the ground a few feet behind him. Even though he gritted his teeth together as if restraining a whine, Rin was still able to see through his brave face to the evident pain the attack caused. But despite the hurt they had caused her partner, the leaves had served to give her inspiration.

"Salem, use ember!" she cried, hoping that the fire would be as effective against the grass as it had been against the spider.

Anna tossed a skeptical and scoffing expression in her direction, eyebrows lifted slightly. After a moment, she rolled her eyes and said, "Don't be stupid, Poochyena isn't a fire type, it's a dark ty-" Her voice abruptly cut off as if she were choking and her blue eyes threatened to pop out of her head with how wide they had gone.

The reason for this became apparent when Salem's black muzzle opened to reveal a flickering light behind his teeth. This quickly became a small flame that jumped from his mouth and flew directly towards the equally stunned Roselia, slamming directly in the middle of her chest. Almost immediately, the flowery Pokémon began to wave her arms through the air, beating at the flames that licked across her body. Unfortunately, the only purpose this served was to give the fire an opportunity to set her rose bouquets aflame.

Gradually, as the last of the flickering flames finally began to wink out of existence, Rosie began to slow in her frantic motions, lithe body swaying unsteadily. Her eyes started to close ever so slowly and she very daintily crumpled to the ground, hitting it with a soft rustle of leaves. From this position on the ground, completely unconscious, she began to smoke ever so gently.

For several long seconds, there wasn't anything else that moved or made any sound. Then all at once, Salem huffed rather loudly and sat down, running his tongue across one of the cuts scratched on the side of his muzzle, tail wiggling ever so slightly. It was all Rin could do to keep from bursting into laughter at the sight, especially when Anna stomped her foot in a dramatic sort of fashion and made an angry grab for her pokeball. She returned her fallen grass Pokémon to it in a bright red beam of light before clipping it back onto her belt.

" Good battle. I really like your Pokémon." Rin said in a soft voice after a moment, smiling gently.

Anna responded with a sour glare and a toss of her head that made her curls bounce. She then proceeded to stomp her way over to Rin and shove some money into her hand. Without a word, she whirled around and quickly retrieved her bike, swinging her leg up and over. After a moment, she let out a noise that sounded like a Meowth that had just been sat on and threw her hands up towards the sky.

"I HATE LOSING!" she howled angrily.

Together, Rin and Salem stood slightly dumbfounded as they watched the girl pedal furiously away, leaving them in a slight cloud of dust that was kicked up by her bike tires. As one, girl and Pokémon turned their heads to look at one another for a handful of heartbeats before Rin finally began to laugh and Salem snorted several more times as he wiggled happily. They made their way over to the side of the road, sitting down in the grass so that any injuries from the battle could be healed. Stuffing the money into her backpack without a second glance, Rin retrieved a box of potions and pulled one out.

"Good job for winning. You were amazing.” she said warmly to her partner, smiling down at him before holding up the small spray bottle. "Want me to take care of your cuts for you?"

Eying the bottle doubtfully for a moment, Salem allowed for a muted bark, holding quite still as the medicine began to be sprayed across his injuries. With a power that only this sort of technology could provide, the cuts sealed themselves rather quickly, becoming thin scabs or vanishing altogether. It also seemed to tickle, for the Poochyena hybrid squirmed slightly beneath its ministering, wrinkling his nose and hissing between his teeth in a manner that sounded almost like laughter.

"There, feel better." Rin muttered soothingly, dropping the used potion inside of her backpack before slipping it back onto her shoulders and collecting her partner into her arms and administering a generous scratching. He let out several happy barks that had his trainer laughing again.

After a few moments, she was able to catch her breath, and Rin had a sudden revelation, looking down at Salem quickly, relief washing over her in a sudden torrent. "You know, I just realized something." She laughed, the little Poochyena mix cocking his head to one side with evident interest. "Part of your DNA is a poison type. That barb Rosie threw at you earlier wouldn't have poisoned you even if she had wanted it to! You're immune!"

Salem wasn't entirely sure what she was talking about, but he mostly understood that his trainer was happy about him in some way. So instead of hurting his head trying to figure everything out, he twisted around in Rin's arms, put his front paws onto her stomach, and gave her a customary lick on her chin. She was just going to have to accept that as his answer.
 
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AutumnLeafeon

Beginner Trainer
Join Date
Feb 21, 2019
Posts
18
AKA
Autumn
Gender
Female
Time Zone
Mountain
Chapter Seven: Timberfall Town​





The sheer excitement of the battle they had just won propelled Salem with enthusiastic energy almost the entire way to the next town. His tail was held high, his pawsteps light and almost worthy of a dance as he wove in and around Rin's legs, occasionally twirling on the spot to chase his own tail or release a few happy barks. The entire show had his trainer laughing with him. She was rather excited herself, but she was rather surprised he had enough energy left over to make it almost the entire way to Timberfall, the way his enthusiasm had him bouncing all over the place. As it was, Salem was panting rather heavily by the time they got to the little town nestled in the space between the mountains.



Timberfall was a rather beautiful little place, those who had founded it working the natural walls of the mountains into flat Multi-tiered surfaces that left most of the natural formations in place. The town was almost perfectly round in shape as a whole, with a wide central street cutting across the middle in a straight line. Coming in from the south side of the town as they were, Rin and Salem were met with a view of neatly symmetrical buildings to either side of them, lined up and thatched with matching wooden shingles. To the left, all of the roofs had been painted a vibrant red in color, while to the right, the buildings all sported brightly white tops. Directly in the center of town, beautifully manicured and tended to, a circular park dominated the area, a favorite gathering spot for the locals. From her experience with looking at maps of the region, Rin knew that when looking upon the town from an aerial perspective, the entire thing resembled a giant pokéball.



Several stores and a grocery dominated the main street as far as Rin could tell, all connected by long wooden sidewalks. A few people were walking along these, conversing amiably with one another or looking down at tablets or phones in their hands. Several more people were mingling in the park, a few children playing with a frisbee as their parents looked on.



An older man noticed Rin and Salem at one point and called out a greeting to them, hurrying over and offering his hand for the young woman to shake. She excepted it politely, noticing that Salem had pressed himself to her leg with nervousness as the man approached, taking a small step to hide himself behind her. She felt sorry for him. This was probably more people than he had ever come into contact with in his entire life. Admittedly, she was nervous herself. Strangers were always unpredictable, especially with scars and a history like hers. The man didn't seem to notice, or politely chose not to comment, but welcomed the newcomers warmly to the town and hoped that they would enjoy their stay. Rin thanked him, but was more comfortable when he finally walked away. Salem through all pretenses out the figurative window and finally whined, pawing urgently at her leg until she picked him up.



"it's OK Salem. He was just saying hello," Rin soothed, gently rubbing at a spot on the Poochyena mix's chest to help calm him down. She could feel his heart pounding behind his ribs. Concerned, she cast her green eyes around at the nearest buildings, relieved by the sight of a familiar looking structure with a red roof and a symbol of a pokéball set above the Doublewide automatic doors. With a small sigh of relief, the young woman made a beeline for the Pokémon center, hoping that getting away from the curious onlookers would help both her and Salem collect themselves.



The automatic doors open smoothly with a soft hum at Rin's approach, causing Salem to press back against her stomach a little more tightly, sweet smelling cool air washing over the pair. Continuing to rub small circles into the soft fur beneath her fingertips, Rin cast a quick look around the room she had entered into, her shoulders responding by relaxing to the floral smell that hung in the air. She noticed that the Timberfall Pokémon center was not very large, but was kept spotless and orderly with precise attention to detail. The majority of the room was dedicated to several overstuffed red couches and armchairs, with a few tables arranged around them with stacks of Pokémon related magazines on top. Several vases of flowers and a few potted plants were decorating the small space, making it feel cozy and inviting. A long desk cut across the entirety of the room close to the back wall, separating the last third of the room from the waiting area.



A woman with a pretty heart shaped face and tightly curled brown hair lifted her head to look towards them almost as soon as the doors had opened, smiling welcomingly at the pair. Rin took notice of her and returned the smile with a timid smile of her own but was quickly distracted by sudden movement at the ground level. Stopping automatically, she watched several little Pokémon begin to dance in her direction, waving minute arms and releasing joyous sounds of welcome.



Each of them was very small, with green colored bodies and colorful flower petal skirts. On either side of their heads, a pair of reddish pink flowers completed the image, making them look very tropical and rather adorable. Rin relaxed almost at once as the little flowery Pokémon began to dance around her legs excitedly, smiling more comfortably now.



"these are Bellossom Salem,“ she explained in a quiet voice. "They're very friendly. The professor has one that he let me play with."



Salem gave her a sideways glance for a moment before he sniffed in the Direction of the Bellossom, His tail giving a very tiny tentative wiggle which made his trainer smile. Giving the little mix a more substantial pat on his chest, Rin carefully maneuvered around the still dancing grass types and made her way over to the desk.



"Welcome to the Timberfall Pokémon center! I'm Elizabeth. How can I help you today,“ the Pokémon nurse greeted Rin as she made it to the counter, the smile widening in a way that made a dimple pop out in one cheek.



Again, offering another timid smile, Rin responded with a quiet, "hello. I'd like to get my partner checked out and healed up if that's all right.“ And much to said Pokémon's chagrin, he was then placed on top of the counter.



"Of course! Do you have a pokéball that you would like to use,“ Elizabeth responded politely, brushing back part of her brown curls that had fallen into her face.



Rin found herself hesitating with her mouth partially open, momentarily confused by the question. Then she was thinking hard and fast, thoughts spiraling backwards to the professor's office. She remembered vaguely receiving a blue and white colored ball from him, a comment made about his assistant using it to transport Salem. But she had simply put it into her backpack without much thought about it beyond that. She wasn't even sure she remembered which pocket she had put it into specifically.



"Umm... well, he has a pokéball, but I've never used it before," she explained, blush coloring her cheeks.



The confused expression that had begun to grow on Elizabeth's face vanished at once, a look of understanding replacing it. "Oh, that's all right. I have a couple of regulars that I treat that don't enjoy going into their designated pokéballs either. I can treat your partner just as well without it," she reassured, holding out her hands in a request for Salem.



Salem was having none of that. He stubbornly planted his feet and attempted to hide using any part of Rin he could gain access to. Rin Felt sorry for him, but she equally felt sorry for the nurse who had to deal with him in his nervous state.



"Sorry," she gasped, catching the little Poochyena mix before he could jump off of the counter. "This is his first time in a Pokémon center and strangers make him really nervous."



Elizabeth looked rather concerned, but clearly understanding, as she watched Rin hug Salem a little tighter to her body. Then an idea seemed to occur to her, lighting her expression and she quickly reached under the counter, pulling out a jar filled with multi colored marble sized balls that rattled against the glass. Rin caught a momentary glimpse of a happy looking Cleffa printed on the label before the nurse had the lid off and had scooped out one of the spheres.



"That's quite alright," Elizabeth soothed, holding out the ball towards Salem. "Some Pokémon trust more easily than others. But others need a little encouragement. Young Pokémon, like yours, just need to be shown that it's not just their trainer that cares for them."



Rin wholeheartedly agreed with Elizabeth and she again felt a small sense of wonder that she had been able to connect with Salem so easily. She wondered why that had been. Pulling her thoughts back to the present, she lowered her face to the level of her Pokémon and whispered into his ear soothing words of encouragement, comfort, and love. She noticed out of the corner of her eye that Elizabeth was looking at her with something a kin to approval on her face before the nurse once again offered the treat.



Pausing thoughtfully with his head halfway pushed beneath Rin's arm which he had been attempting to hide behind, Salem flared his nostrils as the scent of the treat finally reached his nose, lifting his head slightly to get a better look at the purple ball that was being offered to him. Slowly, his head withdrew from his hiding spot, a tentative wiggle trembling through his tail. Rin smiled encouragingly as the little Poochyena glanced up at her, giving him a little nudge with her arm. Hesitantly, Salem took first one and then another small step away from his trainer, occasionally glancing up at Elizabeth as if to make sure she wasn't planning any sudden movement, stretching out his neck furthest of all, his nose practically vibrated with the amount of sniffing it was doing. Carefully inspecting the woman's fingers, Salem took one last quick glance up at the smiling face haloed by brown curls before hesitantly picking up the treat and quickly retreating again, setting the ball in front of his paws and taking an experimental nibble, much like he had done before with the berries he had been offered. And like that instance with the fruit, the little K9 discovered that he thoroughly enjoyed the food, the rest of the purple treat vanishing with a swipe of his tongue and a few quick crunches. Then he was very intently looking up at the nurse behind the counter, all worry melting away as he stepped towards her in hopes of getting another treat.



"Oh, baby Pokémon are so adorable," Elizabeth crooned, gently picking up Salem and offering him another crunchy ball from the jar. "I love that moment where you can earn their trust. It makes my job ten Times more enjoyable!"



"They make being a trainer ten Times more enjoyable too," Rin agreed, smiling warmly as Salem temporarily turned his attention away from the jar of treats to give her an admiring look. The glance didn't last long, the crunchy Pokébites, as the label proclaimed, were enticing enough to have the Poochyena mix's attention only a moment later.



But Elizabeth's look lasted a little longer, a joyous expression brightening her face. "Well," she said, pulling a couple of the brightly colored treats from the jar and putting them into a pocket in her white coat. "I’ll take him into the back and check him out, feel free to wait here or get yourself a bite to eat at the café next-door. They have excellent sandwiches."



"Thanks, but I think I'll just wait here," Rin admitted, silently adding to herself just how much the idea of being separated from Salem made her uncomfortable. Which was surprising how things had changed in such a short amount of time. She had barely begun her travels, had only met Salem the day before yesterday, and already he had become an inseparable element in her life.



Blinking thoughtfully, the girl didn't quite catch what the Pokémon nurse said to her next, but saw the woman collect one of the Bellossom and head into a back room, crooning softly to both Pokémon. Rin lingered at the counter for a moment, taking a deep breath to calm her sudden nerves, and then carefully traversed the excitable remaining Bellossom to sink into the cushions of one of the plush red sofas pushed up against the wall of the front room. She fidgeted for a moment, tapping her fingers against her other hand, curling and flexing the toes of her right foot, and even tugging on the end of her ponytail, before releasing an explosive sigh and picking up one of the magazines on top of the low black coffee table in front of her.



"Viva Contesta" the title proclaimed, a girl in a beautifully done up dress posing on the cover with her Linoon, a glossy pink ribbon tied in a bow around the Pokémon's neck, her tail swishing happily behind her. Contests weren't what Rin would consider to be her cup of tea, but she flipped open the cover to an article raving about Pokéblocks and the supposed boosts they gave to different attributes that contest judges were looking for. The concept was interesting enough, but Rin really wasn't about to believe that mixing up certain berries would make a Pokémon appear more beautiful, or cute, especially not the angry looking Snubbull the writer had decided to feature in his article. Grimacing slightly at the pink Pokémon, the teenager snorted as she snapped the magazine closed, setting it back on the table. She had just turned her attention to a much more promising looking magazine that had a photograph of a Raichu dodging around the whipping vines of a Bayleaf when the front door to the Pokémon center slid open and a young man stepped through, followed closely by a rather beautiful blue quadrupedic creature with a ribbed crest around her head and a fin shaped tail. On cue, the flowery Bellossom cried in renewed excitement, dancing their way over to the newcomers.



The young man beamed at the greeting he was receiving, crouching down to offer up a round of pats to each Bellossom. Studying him from across the room, Rin had to guess that if she were standing next to him, he wouldn't be much taller than her five and a half feet. He had thick curly dark brown hair and an olive complexion, with a muscular stocky build that made him appear older than he actually was. The well-worn appearance to his shoes and the backpack settled onto his shoulders probably was a good indication that he was also on some sort of journey himself. The Pokémon at his side, a Vaporeon she thought, led her to believe that he was another trainer.



"Hey Bells, Flit, Lily, Dawn," he was saying, revealing that this wasn't the first time he had been inside this particular Pokémon center. "Where's Fleur and Elizabeth," he continued on to ask, glancing behind the counter and then sweeping his gaze around the room, quickly settling on Rin who immediately felt guilty for staring and dropped her eyes to her hands.



"Oh, hey. I didn't see you there, sorry."



Rin glanced up momentarily from beneath her lashes, receiving a warm smile from the young man, the expression crinkling up the corners of his eyes. He stood, circling around the Bellossom and a couple of overstuffed arm chairs that were between them, making his way over to her and offering his hand. She hesitated for a moment, glancing up into eyes the color of dark chocolate, before extending her own hand and placing it in his for a shake. His expression grew slightly confused for a moment, and she saw more than felt him flinch briefly, his eyes quickly flickering down to her hand before he released her fingers and took a step back, looking up into her face once again. The backs of his legs bumped into his Vaporeon, the water Pokémon having followed closely behind her trainer, and he quickly released a short huff of surprise, receiving a musical trill in response that had him looking down quickly. For some reason, his cheeks colored slightly pink. If she had to guess, Rin would wager that his embarrassed response had something to do with his unexpected contact with her metallic hand



'Haven't had that response in a while.' Rin found herself sighing inwardly, unconsciously curling her hand into a fist. It had been years since she had received her robotic limb and she had had to get use to the reactions from the other villagers in Starpointe, especially her aunt, uncle, and cousins that had come to live with her for a time and interacted with on a daily basis. Things had calmed down after a few years, after her scars had healed enough and the site of a robotic prosthetic wasn't quite a novelty anymore. She had gotten used to it, barely thought about it anymore. She had been sheltered, in other words. But she couldn't blame this stranger, not when she put herself in his shoes. She probably would have the same reaction...



"...S-Sorry, I didn't mean to... Uhh. What I meant was... I'm Andrew," the young man then stammered, breaking her out of her inner dialogue.



He turned a slightly darker shade of pink win Rin met his gaze again, making her feel slightly guilty about her initial negative reaction. Giving her head a small shake, she mustered up another smile, lifting her shoulders in a small shrug. "There's nothing to be sorry about. It's different, I get that. There aren't a lot of robotic limbs in the world after all. I'd be just as surprised as you if I were in your place."



Andrew seemed slightly taken aback by her honesty, his mouth dropping open with a faint pop. Then he blinked twice quickly, snapping his mouth shut before self-consciously coughing into his hand and glancing away, sliding into the armchair just behind him. "Yeah, you can say that again," he chuckled nervously, finally meeting her gaze once more. "I just wasn't expecting it, you know? Silph prosthetics are really rare to come by, especially so close to the edge of the region. I hear they're really expensive. I've never met anyone with a robotic replacement before, just heard about them on the television..." His voice suddenly trailed off, his chocolate colored eyes widening. "Hang on. Are... Are you Alarin Hall?"



Rin blinked, surprised, and then had to fight to keep a small grimace from blossoming onto her face. "Yes," she admitted, "but I prefer to be called Rin. And you said your name was Andrew, right?"



"Yeah," Andrew said excitedly, a grin spreading over his face. "Wow, Cool! I can't believe I'm getting the chance to actually meet you. My family and I prayed for you and talked about you for a month straight after we saw the news reports on TV. I was only nine at the time, but I remember them talking about the attack and doing a new surgery procedure. They were talking about using robotics to give people back their limbs and vision and I talked about how cool it would be to become an android. I thought I’d be able to shoot laser beams and have guns for hands...” finally pausing in his stream of unbroken words as he noticed that Rin's face had turned a bright red, and his Vaporeon had placed a halting paw onto his leg, Andrew settled back into his chair with a huff of his own embarrassment. "Sorry. I'm talking way too much. I tend to do that when I get excited."



Pressing the palms of her hands against her hot cheeks for several moments, it took Rin a few attempts before she was able to find her voice again. When she did finally manage to speak, her voice was somewhat strangled, almost as if she were fighting off tears. "Thank you. I... I'm glad you told me that." Then she managed a teary laugh, Glancing away is she wiped the tears from her cheek with the sleeve of her shirt. "Did you really want to be able to shoot laser beams from your eyeballs?" The idea sounded ridiculous.



It was Andrew's turn to go a little red in the cheeks, but he covered his embarrassment quickly by releasing a boom of laughter. "Yeah. Pretty silly, right? But I had this character in a comic book that could do it, so I was convinced that it was the coolest superpower."



The idea made her give her head a little shake, but Rin found that her smile stayed in place. She was just starting to relax around Andrew, moving past her natural shyness, and had even begun to consider asking him more about his Vaporeon when the smile was abruptly wiped from her face by his next statement.



"Thinking about it, I bet that having a silver arm and scars makes you self-conscious though," he said thoughtfully, not noticing the sharp look his Pokémon gave him. "Do you ever feel that way?"



"Well, if she didn't before, she does now. I thought mom taught you better manners."



With her cheeks once again burning with embarrassment, Rin glanced quickly over at the speaker, her gaze quickly finding Elizabeth who had stepped out from behind the counter, unnoticed by either trainer, giving Andrew a scolding look. But Rin's attention quickly went to the Pokémon the nurse was holding, Salem's expression one of concern as he looked between his trainer and the newcomer. After a moment, he whined urgently, squirming until Elizabeth stooped down and set him on the floor. As soon as paws hit tile, the little Poochyena mix was darting across the floor, making a beeline straight for Rin. She was ready for him, holding out her arms and catching him as soon as he leapt, hugging him close to her and using the opportunity to let him sniff and lick at her cheeks to hide her flushed face.



"Wh-what," Andrew stammered in surprise.



Elizabeth clicked her tongue at him. "Of all the brothers I could've gotten, I had to end up with an insensitive one."



The flowery Bellossom at her feet agreed, emphasizing each sound she made with an emphatic bob of her head. Andrew's aquatic quadruped also chimed in, sighing heavily.



Then the nurse did her another favor, smoothly diverting the conversation away from the painful subject to allow Rin the opportunity to catch her breath, turning her attention back to her brother and once again narrowing her eyes. "So, Andrew. I'm sure you weren't planning on shaming our mother when you decided to come. Why did you pay me a visit," she asked, relaxing her expression somewhat as she waited for an answer.





Andrew was a little slow on the uptake, looking as if he wanted to apologize once again, and was still looking somewhat mortified as he opened his mouth at first, still focused on Rin. Then his Vaporeon very deliberately leapt into his lap, effectively taking his attention away from the young woman and causing him to blink rapidly, gaze focusing on to his sister. "What? Oh! Yeah, Why I came, right," he finally blurted, catching up to the conversation and reaching for a small sling hanging from his shoulder and across his chest that Rin hadn't noticed before. "After I picked up my team from the day care center, the owner told me that they all had been standing around this when he went outside to get them."



The 'this' he was talking about turned out to be a light-colored oval a little larger than the size of a football that Elizabeth pulled out from inside the fabric, the object drawing everyone's attention.



Curious as to what exactly it was, Rin glanced between the siblings, managing to speak after clearing her throat. "Is that an... egg?"





"Yes, It's an egg," Elizabeth confirmed, glancing briefly towards Rin before once again looking back at the oval object cradled carefully in her hands. "But this isn't just any egg. It's a Pokémon egg." She then looked towards Andrew. "Who's is it," she asked, almost immediately looking towards the Vaporeon casually curled up in his lap.





But Andrew just shrugged in response. "The daycare manager didn't know. They were all crowded in close, so he couldn't tell if one of them in particular was protecting it."





"I see. And you're bringing it to me because..." Elizabeth fished, raising one eyebrow.



"Well," Andrew began, looking as if he were feeling somewhat uncomfortable, "I just had my application to enter the league challenge excepted. I am only allowed six Pokémon to be registered for the entire competition. It's basically against the rules to have seven Pokémon with you. And when that egg hatches, I would end up having seven Pokémon with me. I don't want to risk being disqualified and I really don't have the time to spare for a baby at the moment. I was hoping either you could raise it, or you knew of someone who would be willing to hatch them."



Elizabeth finally sat down in one of the armchairs next to her brother, cradling the egg in her hands and looking thoughtful. "Okay,“ she finally sighed, giving her head a shake. "What could I expect it to hatch into?"



Andrew's grin turned into a contemplative expression, his head tilting slightly to one side. "They are either going to be an Eevee, Joltic, Sandile, Skiddo, or Rufflet. I had Emboar with me for some special training," he admitted, giving his shoulders another shrug.



Elizabeth wrinkled her nose delicately. "I’m really hoping it's not a Joltic. I don't do bug Pokémon. But the egg feels heavy enough that I don't think it would be a tiny bug, but you never can tell with Pokémon," she admitted, beginning to slide the egg back into the sling when a thoughtful expression suddenly crossed her face. After a moment, she looked excitedly at Rin. "hey, I've got an idea! Why don't you take the egg," she said, offering the cloth wrapped egg as she did so.

Rin, in turn, blinked with surprise before abruptly squeaking, "what? Oh, I... I couldn't take something so important from you."





But Elizabeth waved off such a flimsy excuse, laughing. "important? No! I don't have any emotional attachment to this egg. One of Andrew's Pokémon seems to have had a little bit of fun while he was off doing whatever it was that he was doing, so I was going to end up with this egg one way or another. But I wasn't planning on keeping the Pokémon for myself. They are going to be adopted by a trainer someday, so why not have that trainer be you? It would save me the trouble of having to look after it, what with my own Pokémon to take care of and the center to run on my plate. And it will give you the opportunity to experience what Pokémon breeders have to go through, not to mention you'll get a new team member out of the deal.”



Everything she was saying made perfect sense, sound logic all the way around, but Rin still found herself hesitating a little. Yes, the idea of taking the Pokémon egg with her on her journey sounded exciting, she was burning with curiosity to know what was inside. But it was a decision that would impact not only her journey, but Salem's as well. She couldn't imagine a future in which she would force the Poochyena mix to travel within the confines of a Pokéball, nor could she imagine him voluntarily making that change. They both enjoyed being with one another too much for that to happen. And any new Pokémon on her team would affect him just as much as it affected her. So, she carefully bit back her acceptance as she looked towards the Pokémon sitting in her lap, catching his gaze as he also looked to her curiously.



"What do you think Salem? Should we take the egg along and hatch ourselves a new friend?"



All eyes turned towards the little gray K9 as he seemed to be contemplating the question posed to him, his head tilted slightly as he looked up at his trainer. Then his blue eyes turned towards Elizabeth, studying the object she was holding out. Everyone seemed to be making such a big deal over such a silly thing, at least that was his opinion. Or at least, that was what his expression said as he looked back to Rin with a soft snort, wiggling his tail to get his point across.



As Rin released a giggle to his response, Elizabeth nodded her head. "That settles it! This egg is yours. Take good care of it," the nurse said happily, settling the egg into Rin's hands before any other objections could be raised.

As she cradled the egg protectively in her hands, Rin couldn't help but smile. She was fairly certain that she was going to have quite the interesting message to send to Professor Pine before she went to bed that night.


——————————​


Hey everyone! As you can tell, I’m not dead! Yay! :D


My apologies for my abrupt disappearance, my husband and I suddenly had a lot of life-changing events drop onto our plates one right after another and my priorities shifted. We’ve moved quite a long distance, my husband has a new job, and we are expecting a baby! Between packing, moving, finding a new place to live, unpacking, getting settled, getting sick, doctors appointments, and my husband settling into his new job, just to name a couple of things, my story got put on the back burner. With things finally settling down again and my writing interests being addressed once more, I found myself stumbling across Rin and Salem’s story safely saved in my word processor. It only took a little bit of skimming over what was there to rekindle my interest in continuing on.

So here we are! I hope you enjoy the fresh chapter and are looking forward to even more. I am at least planning on continuing this adventure, even if things get busy soon enough. :)
 
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