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Flannery in Reborn - The Tale of a Firehead [Last defeated: Dounia]

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Spoiler

Anxiety was at its highest level. Ame’s last words had awakened extreme horror in Flannery’s mind. Seized by panic, she headed straight toward the exit of the Grand Hall and went down the stairs in Opal Ward four steps at a time. She had to find back Vulpix at all costs.

 

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Flannery: “I can’t believe it, that’s absolutely horrible! I would have never imagined that one could mistreat her. I can’t allow myself to let this happen. Hold on Vulpix!”

 

Her fear became more and more intense. She stepped up the pace to Peridot Ward, heart pounding. But as she got closer to the western district of the town, her fear turned into rage.

 

Flannery: “Vulpix. Wherever you are, I give you my word. If I ever find out you’ve been hurt by anyone, I’ll take the law into my own hands. Any abuser will be hunted and turned into ashes. I won’t show any mercy for them if that happened like that! It will be my justice! MINE!”

 

Twisted by dark thoughts, Flannery kept running in the direction of Grandview Station where she noticed that several policemen were doing on-site investigations. Many of them were busy removing the rubble and securing the area. They were actually looking for people who could have possibly survived the accident. Affected by this recent tragedy, Flannery couldn’t prevent herself from shedding a tear in front of the station in ruins.

 

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High-ranking Police Officer: “Stay brave, my friends! What you do here today may well be the most decisive task of your life. The fate of many families is depending on it. Don’t give up, focus on the survivors!”

Flannery: (*sigh* It wounds my heart so much… all these people killed for nothing… there are no words for this. I wish I could avenge them all. And yet… I feel so small and insignificant in the middle of it. This is hard. Really.)

 

This became way too much for Flannery. Seeing all those policemen scouring the wrecked building in search of missing passengers made her very uncomfortable. Unable to bear this kind of vision any longer, she turned her eyes away. At this very moment, she noticed that the access to Lower Peridot Ward wasn’t under surveillance anymore.

 

Flannery: (Hm. Looks like the way is open again. Hopefully, Vulpix is wandering somewhere over there. If she did, so I’d better catch up right away!)

 

Trying the whole for the whole, Flannery took advantage of the distraction to sneak through the wire fence and continue her searches in the austere streets of Reborn. Further, she found herself in the middle of an intersection. Having no idea of which path to follow, the ambassador reflected for a long time but couldn’t really make up her mind on the direction she should take.

 

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Flannery: “Well. Let’s think about this. If there’s really a water treatment center around here, so it must certainly be located close to the lake. Maybe I can find Vulpix there… or maybe not… but if there are weird people in town… and what about Julia’s Gym? Aaah! I don’t have any idea of where to go! This is too damn confusing!”

 

Flannery was hesitating. Unable to make a decision, she gave it a lot of thoughts in vain. After two minutes of deep reflection, she ended up trusting her luck instead.

 

Flannery: “I don’t know why, but… I think I’ll just go left. We’ll see where this will lead me anyway.”

 

Her decision was made, Flannery followed the path on her left, passing behind Grandview Station in the process. But as she did, she saw a couple of policemen who were thoroughly examining the road, the train tracks to be more precise. Out of curiosity, Flannery moved closer to them discreetly.

 

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Policeman 1: “In any case, I’m sure of one thing. This ain’t me who put this here!”

Policeman 2: “Potions and Pokeballs have no legs. This kind of stuff must definitely belong to someone.”

Policeman 1: “Yes, I don’t doubt it. But who?”

Policeman 2: “I would like to know.”

Policeman 1: “Maybe we should drop it off at lost and found in Jasper Ward. I’m sure that’s what the Chief would have done anyway.”

Policeman 2: “Yeah, you’re probably right.”

 

Following the conversation closely, Flannery looked at the ground, where the policemen were investigating. To her great surprise, she recognized a large part of the stuff she had brought with her before leaving to Reborn. Hyper Potions, Sitrus Berries, Pokeballs, White Herbs… everything was here, scattered on the floor. The warm-hearted redhead then spoke timidly to make them aware of her presence and claim back her supplies.

 

Flannery: “Um… hello, sirs. I think it’s my stuff.”

 

The two men turned their head toward the ex-Gym Leader almost simultaneously with a strict expression on their face. Having no idea of who she was, they asked Flannery for her identity.

 

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Policeman 1: “Huh? Who are you? What do you want from us?”

Policeman 2: “Identify yourself!”

 

Flannery immediately pulled her trainer card out of her pocket in response to the men in uniform.

 

Flannery: “I’m Flannery Moore, the ambassador of Hoenn in Reborn. I have a warrant to investigate the starter thief which has happened today in the Grand Hall. Ame sends me!”

Policeman 1: “Let me check… ah yes, of course! Please, accept our apologies, Madam Ambassador! We didn’t realize it was you! It’s an honor to meet you!”

Policeman 2: “Yes, sorry. We’ve been sent here upon a request from the Peridot Gym Leader. Me and my colleague have received reports that a Vulpix has been lost in this part of the city. Your Vulpix, I guess. Therefore, we started to comb the town in order to find a clue or a lead.”

Policeman 1: “And the least we can say is that the searches haven’t been very successful. Well… until now. By the way, we ignored that these items were yours.”

Flannery: “Julia came to inform you, you said? That’s a good point. And keep cool, there’s nothing wrong about it. So… can I take my supplies back?”

Policeman 2: “Uh… yes, you can. However, I would love you to give us just a little more time, so we can take a look at your items for a more accurate examination before to give them back to you. If you have no objection, of course.”

Flannery: “For sure, I don’t have any! In fact, you and I are here for the exact same purpose. If there’s anything useful you can find, so it will be all good for me too.”

Policeman 2: “Excellent! Don’t worry, this shouldn’t be too long.”

 

Without further ado, the two policemen examined meticulously the equipment of the firehead in hope of finding some clues. And luckily, they managed to put their fingers on something rather interesting concerning the Pokeballs on the ground.

 

Policeman 1: “Oh! Hm… just out of curiosity… how many Pokeballs have you brought with you before your arrival? I’m talking about unused Pokeballs, of course.”

Flannery: “That’s good you ask me this question; I remember it perfectly! I’ve exactly brought three Pokeballs with me.”

Policeman 1: “So this should confirm what I’ve thought all along!”

Flannery: “Huh? And what exactly were you thinking about?”

Policeman 1: “Look! Haven’t you noticed yet? There are not three, but four Pokeballs here. Also, they’re all empty.”

Flannery: “Really? But… wait a minute! In this case… could that mean that…”

Policeman 1: “…that one of those Pokeballs was containing a Pokemon? Yes, probably.”

Policeman 2: “Of course, we have to assume that those Pokeballs are yours and haven’t been lost by another trainer. But according to the present circumstances, I would put this scenario aside. Let’s not lie to each other, anyone passing here would have inevitably seen and picked up the rest of this stuff anyway. But since it’s not the case, we can only conclude that nobody came here already but us, which means that we’re certainly the first persons who set foot in this corner of the city since the accident.”

Flannery: “So that’s definitely Vulpix Pokeball! There’s no doubt about it!”

Policeman 2: “I think too. Plus, I’ve noticed something else.”

Flannery: “What is it?”

Policeman 2: “Did you bring four berries with you by any chance?”

Flannery: “No, five.”

Policeman 2: “Hm, interesting… we could imagine that a Pokemon was here and used it. But this time, however, nothing is certain.”

Policeman 1: “Why not? After all, Sitrus berries are known for their healing virtues, and everybody knows that Reborn is still full of stray Pokemon. Maybe one of them saw it and ate it by instinct of self-preservation.”

Flannery: “Yes, I see what you’re getting at. But let’s suppose an instant that this Pokemon was Vulpix. She could very well have taken one berry to heal herself shortly after the train crash.”

Policeman 1: “Uh huh! That could make sense indeed!”

Policeman 2: “Yes, maybe. But unfortunately, even if she did, none of this will actually tell us where she went afterwards.”

Flannery: “*sigh* You’re right… but at least, we’re now sure that she’s somewhere in town. If we continue to look around, we’ll eventually find her. I know it!”

Policeman 1: “Yeah. That being said, it will probably be better with another person in our ranks. Once she had informed us, Miss Wilde said she would be back to assist us in the investigation.”

Policeman 2: “Absolutely. She headed back to her Gym shortly after that. And while we’re at it, let me tell you that it’s been an hour since she didn’t show up again.”

Flannery: “Yikes! That’s quite a long wait indeed… well. You know what? I’m gonna go to her Gym myself. If you tell me exactly where it’s located, maybe I can get her to come out.”

Policeman 2: “That depends. Do you have a map?”

Flannery: “Physically, not. However, I have my Pokegear on me. I hope that should do the trick.”

Policeman 2: “Excellent! That’s even more convenient!”

 

Not wishing to waste more time than necessary, Flannery hurried to turn on her Pokegear and selected the map application. This way, the two men could show her the route to follow to reach the Neo-Circuit Power Plant, Julia’s home. After that, Flannery could take her items back with the authorization of the young patrollers. Then, she thanked them warmly for their precious help.

 

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Flannery: “Here we are! That’s much better this way! Thanks again! You guys are awesome!”

 

One of the officers answered to her timidly with a red face.

 

Policeman 1: “Oh, you know… after all, we’re just doing our job.”

Flannery: “And you did it more than well! You can count on me to find Julia and come back with her. I’ll try to join you as soon as possible.”

Policeman 2: “That’s okay! Meanwhile, me and my colleague will continue to follow the rails. With Grandview Station out of service, there shouldn’t be any danger for us at this point.”

Flannery: “Ahah, thank you all! Well, I have to go. See you later!”

Policemen 1 & 2: “See you later, Madam Ambassador!”

 

Having nothing else to add, Flannery headed straight in the direction of Julia’s Gym to get some additional assistance for the searches. On the way, she had the opportunity to challenge some random trainers obsessed by battles. Obviously, the fierce Fire Type trainer managed to easily beat them all, one by one, using only Torkoal as her fighting partner. But as she kept cumulating victories in the cramped quarters of Peridot Ward, Flannery started to feel hungry.

 

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Flannery: “Arr… my belly… it hurts when I walk. I should have checked if they weren’t selling some snacks in the Grand Hall before leaving. How dumb I am!... Arr… I’ve never done well with hunger…”

 

The rush of Flannery appeared to be harder than expected. Her stomach was tearing her apart. She didn’t eat anything since early morning. The simple fact of putting one foot in front of the other was enough to wake up this unpleasant prickling sensation in her lower abdomen at any time. Also, the oppressive atmosphere which was reigning supreme in Peridot Ward didn’t help either. Fortunately for her, the Gym wasn’t too much further. After a few more steps, she finally reached a big yellow building surrounded by satellite dishes and generously decorated with ribbons and gold-plated stars: Neo-Circuit Power Plant.

 

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Flannery: “Finally!... Well. That wasn’t really hard in the end.”

 

Intrigued, she took a look up to see the ornaments on the factory. Flannery allowed herself to comment Julia’s taste in terms of decoration.

 

Flannery: “Hm, yeah. For a power plant, we can say that the decoration is pretty… unique. But hey. At least, there’s no risk she goes unnoticed over here. I hope she’s still inside.”

 

Wishing to alert Julia of her presence, Flannery knocked on the glass door several times. She waited patiently outside in hope of being heard by the Electric Type Gym Leader.

 

Flannery: “…”

 

But nobody came. Consequently, the redhead knocked on the door again, but in a more frantic way this time. Once again, nothing happened. Obviously, this seriously started to get on the nerves of the ambassador.

 

Flannery: “Grrr! For the sake of everything that is holy in this world, what the hell is she doing? It’s gonna be more than five minutes that I’m hanging around in vain! I’m beginning to wonder if she’s really here in the end.”

 

This endless wait was actually playing with the impulsivity of the feisty trainer. More determined than she ever was, Flannery run out of patience. She finally decided to leave the scene without the Peridot Gym Leader by her side.

 

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Flannery: “Sorry, Julia. You may have gotten all the time in the world, Vulpix doesn’t. See you around!”

 

Disappointed by Julia for not having kept her commitment to the end, Flannery turned on the heels and rejoined the railroad to the West to catch up on the two policemen. For her, it was just out of question to waste time unnecessarily at such a critical moment. At this point, even one single miscalculated decision could be enough to trigger a disaster. Once she made it to the train track, the redhead looked to the South. The two patrollers weren’t here anymore, so she decided to walk along the rails to the North. Fortunately, as she went up the road, she could see two silhouettes in uniform appearing in her sight of vision.

 

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Flannery: “Ah! Here they are!”

 

She squinted and noticed that they were both on their knees, just as if they’ve found another lead.

 

Flannery: “Great, it looks like they found something else. I should better join them, that might be important.”

 

Flannery’s thoughts couldn’t be more correct. What she was about to discover was going to surprise her even more. When she reached the place where the policemen were standing, she felt cut short almost instantly.

 

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Policeman 1: “Oh gosh! This time, I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to find something like that! But like really, really not!”

Policeman 2: “So am I! If that’s human work, so I prefer not to imagine what was floating around in their head when this happened!”

Policeman 1: “We’re probably looking at the rest of a recent turmoil scene. At least, I know how to recognize one when I see one.”

Policeman 2: “I don’t doubt it. The real question is: ‘Who could have done such a thing?’”

 

Flannery was here, behind the two police officers. From where she was, she could see a big burn pattern next to the intersection of the rails. There also was some red hair dispersed next to it. It didn’t take long for Flannery before she realized that something seriously wrong had happened at this specific location. Moreover, she had all the good reasons to believe that Vulpix was involved in this story too.

 

Flannery: “Oh my god! This is Vulpix hair, I could recognize it from thousands! What happened to my angel?!”

 

The policemen both turned toward Flannery and saw her at the last moment. She looked very distraught. Having noticed that she didn’t show up with Julia by her side, they asked her some questions.

 

Policeman 1: “Ah! Hello again, Madam Ambassador! Did you manage to meet the Peridot Gym Leader?”

Policeman 2: “Greetings! Yes. Why isn’t she with you?”

Flannery: “*sigh* Sadly, I don’t know. The doors were closed when I arrived, so I couldn’t go in.”

Policeman 1: “That’s a shame. Really.”

Policeman 2: “Too bad, indeed. Having a Gym Leader by our sides would have ensured us great protective support for the searches.”

Flannery: “I agree with you. But hey… well, let’s talk about what you’ve found instead. What are these burn marks on the ground?”

Policeman 1: “That’s what we’re trying to find out. But if you assert that the hair is actually Vulpix hair, so I would say that this isn’t the work of a pyromaniac.”

Policeman 2: “I think too. Everything leads to believe that Vulpix could be the one who set the fire herself. But for what purpose?”

Flannery: “If you claim there was turmoil here, so maybe she struggled and wanted to defend herself. I know her well, she’s way too sweet for attacking anyone on sight. Plus, when Ame told me that the mistreatment of stray Pokemon was commonplace in Reborn, everything was already all clear in my mind.”

Policeman 1: “Hm… Pokemon fighting against people. That could be a valid explanation. Also, in ordinary battles, the terrain is rarely that affected by attacks of this kind.”

Policeman 2: “Bah. When Pokemon are separated from their trainers, there’s no holds barred anymore. If no one is here to keep them under control, so it’s more likely for material damage to occur in the heat of the moment.”

Policeman 1: “And considering the present amount of wreckage, that must have been very hot over here!”

Policeman 2: “Yeah. Looks like it was the case in the end!”

Policeman 1: “And most importantly, nobody’s here anymore. Which means that we can’t do much but making assumptions about the eventual outcome of these events.”

Policeman 2: “I will say more: at the current point, nothing can confirm us that this confrontation is really over.”

 

While the policemen continued to examine what finally appeared to be a crime scene, Flannery had the eyes stuck on the red hair on the ground. As she paid close attention to everything the policemen were saying, she couldn’t prevent herself from imagining the worst. Her growing confusion wasn’t invisible to the eyes of the couple of men.

 

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Flannery: “This is terrible! If everything happened like you said, so the situation might be even worse as we speak! If none of this is really over, so we’d better move on. You heard me? We have to do something right now!”

Policeman 2: “That is the main problem from the beginning. Haven’t you seen yet? From here, the road splits in two different ways, and as a matter of principle, I always go where my colleague goes. If you’re feeling up for this, you should go a path separate from ours. That way, we’ll search faster.”

Policeman 1: “That’s what I was thinking too. At least, now that you’re back, we can advance the searches more easily.”

Flannery: “Sounds logical to me! Well. In that case, I would propose that you go inspect the alley right there. For my part, I will try to follow the rails to the north.”

Policeman 2: “As long as you’re sure you can handle it without any assistance, that should be a good plan. I just hope you know how to defend yourself.”

Flannery: “No worries, I have my Torkoal for that. And believe me, I’ve never been so self-confident in my entire life!”

Policeman 2: “Good, good. In that case, there isn’t much more to say. Good luck, and don’t forget to always be on your guard out there.”

Flannery: “Well. I’ll be on my guard, then! Thank you!”

Policeman 2: “Excellent!”

 

The two officers looked at each other while the intrepid redhead was leaving away.

 

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Policeman 2: “So? Here we go?”

Policeman 1: “With pleasure, colleague!”

Policeman 2: “Great! Let’s show this city who are the true rulers of Reborn!”

 

Thus, Flannery and the couple of investigators went their own separate ways. Animated by the only desire to be together again with Vulpix, the redhead pursued her path straight to the North. She kept looking around to be sure that nothing suspicious was occurring, and hoped she could find another lead in her walk. Sadly, there was nothing more than houses with crackled facades. Additionally, the whole area was strewn with glass fragments and barrels full of dirty water. For Flannery, it was as if a huge part of Reborn’s toxicity was concentrated in Peridot Ward.

 

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Flannery: “I’m missing Hoenn already. Seriously, how can people live happily in a place like this? I feel like the further I go, the more my moral goes down. This is really destabilizing!”

 

The tormented ambassador kept walking, a hand on her stomach. She could feel the hunger becoming more and more invasive. Then, as she was looking forward, Flannery saw something next to one of the street lights on her left. For some reason, this seemed to intrigued her a lot.

 

Flannery: “Hey! What’s over here?”

 

Without wasting time, she rushed to the street light next to the rails to determine what it could be. This discovery made her shiver from the inside out.

 

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Flannery: “What is this? Is that… blood?!”

 

There were exactly five bloodstains close to each other on the ground. No hair, nor burn marks. Just blood. To eliminate any doubt about that, Flannery kneeled and leaned over it. While she was inhaling slowly, she could feel a stressful smell of hemoglobin going to her head progressively.

 

Flannery: “Oh Lord! What happened here?”

 

The senses of the Fire Type trainer were awakened like never before. Then, she stopped uttering a single word. This iron oxide emanation seemed to have muffled her, plunging Flannery into a deep state of fear and silent anxiety. All this was enough to convince her that the worst has probably happened.

 

Flannery: “…Vulpix… What did they do to you?”

 

Then, suddenly, the face of the young lady changed to finally adopt a more severe aspect. In the space of a moment, she clenched her fists, stood up, and glanced angrily at the sky. Little by little, her fear wore off to slowly give way to anger.

 

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Flannery: “RRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!”

 

Blinded by a destructive desire for vengeance, Flannery burst into a loud cry of rage. So loud that it could be heard by anyone across Peridot Ward.

 

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Policeman 1: “*Gulp* You… you heard what I heard?”

Policeman 2: “*Gulp* And how! I would bet my hands that something wrong is happening.”

Policeman 1: “This voice… I’ve never heard such a screeching sound in my whole lifetime! I can’t even tell whether it’s a human voice or a Pokemon voice. Look at my arm, I have goose bumps just listening to it!”

Policeman 2: “Same for me, this literally turned my stomach upside down. And honestly, I doubt that it’s a distress call.”

Policeman 1: “Distress call or not, we can’t afford to ignore it. We must find out what this is about!”

Policeman 2: “*Gulp* Okay. So, let’s go now!”

 

While the policemen hurried toward Flannery’s direction, the latter was boiling on site in the manner of an erupting volcano.

 

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Flannery: “You bastards! You dared hurting a member of my family! If you’re seeking for violence, so be it! You’ll have what you get! I’ll gut you, burn you, and smash you all!”

 

Surrounded by wrath, Flannery raced full speed ahead in the westside quarter of Peridot Ward. Her darkest thoughts have reemerged all at the same time. But this time, it was enough. In her rush, she swore to herself to track down and eliminate all the perpetrators of this outrage to the last. To hell with the law enforcement! For her, nothing would be better than taking the law into her own hands and administer justice in her own way. Her fury had reached such a high point that she didn’t feel affected by hunger anymore. Nothing could stop the devouring wrath of the incendiary woman. Until this moment when Flannery saw a building with a blue roof. The type of building she used to visit when she needed to purchase healing supplies during her career as a Gym Leader in Lavaridge Town.

 

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Flannery: “Hey! Wait a minute! Isn’t that a Pokemart we have there? If people ever saw weirdos around here, so maybe I can get some useful information from them. I’d better go in.”

 

In order to put all the chances on her side, Flannery decided to get inside the small shop. Naturally, the display cases were poorly filled, just like the street outside. Only some low-end commodities were available. Without wasting time, Flannery talked to the shopkeeper behind the counter. She had to know if anyone had noticed something unusual today.

 

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Shopkeeper: (…Oh! Another customer?)

Flannery: “Hello mister!”

Shopkeeper: “Hello madam! What can I do for you?”

Flannery: “Well, I…”

Shopkeeper: “All my apologies! If you’re looking for common candies, I regret to announce you that we haven’t any more. We’re out of stock, but don’t panic. We shall get another delivery no later than tomorrow.”

Flannery: “That’s not why I’m here! All I need is witness statement. Have you seen a Vulpix outside?”

Shopkeeper: “Oops, my bad! I thought you wanted to buy something. Anyway… you’re looking for a Vulpix in town, you said?”

Flannery: “That’s it! I lost her and it’s gonna been a while since I’m running around in Peridot Ward to find her back, but without success. I thought maybe you’ve seen her passing through here.”

 

The young cashier rubbed his chin as he tried to remember what happened next to the Pokemart recently. And, indeed, he has noticed something that might be useful to our dear redhead.

 

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Shopkeeper: “Let me remember… ah, yes. I could eventually have seen a Vulpix passing outside the store, now that you mention it.”

Flannery: “For real!? You’ve really seen a Vulpix? Where did she go? Please, tell me!”

Shopkeeper: “Yeah, I mean… I’ve seen a Vulpix, but let’s say that… it wasn’t alone.”

Flannery: “What do you mean ‘It wasn’t alone.’? What did you see exactly?”

 

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Shopkeeper: “If my eyes didn’t lie, there was someone running near the shop earlier. It was a very young person, almost a child. A little girl with pink hair combed back. If I’m not mistaken, she looked like she was holding a Vulpix in her arms. Maybe your Vulpix?”

Flannery: “A little girl with pink hair… hm, that doesn’t sound familiar to me. In any case, I don’t believe our paths have crossed already. Could you tell me when she was walking by the shop?”

Shopkeeper: “This happened an hour ago, if I remember correctly.”

Flannery: “Yikes! So, it seems like I’m arriving too late to catch her.”

Shopkeeper: “Well, maybe not entirely!”

Flannery: “Huh?!”

Shopkeeper: “If it can help you, I have all the good reasons to believe that this person who’s left with your Vulpix is actually the same person who has cleared my stock of common candies. For what I purpose? I don’t know. But one thing I’m sure of is this: I’ll see her again soon. Very soon!”

Flannery: “Ah yes, I see. She’s a sort of regular customer, isn’t she?”

Shopkeeper: “She definitely is! Everytime she came here, it was either to purchase common candies, or rare berries, or both. By the way, I’ve already noticed that she often used to come and go multiple times in this district in particular. Consequently, I would bet my glasses she’s living somewhere nearby.”

Flannery: “All right, thank you for letting me know. This will certainly help me in my searches! But… I still have two questions for you.”

Shopkeeper: “Which ones?”

Flannery: “These ones. What’s the name of this girl and what are those common candies for?”

Shopkeeper: “Uum… well… unfortunately for you, I don’t know what her name is. In fact, I think she never really told me anything about her. Perhaps she wanted to keep her identity hidden. I can’t really say.”

Flannery: “Oh! Too bad. Thank you anyway.”

Shopkeeper: “You’re welcome. However, I can tell you a lot of things about common candies.”

Flannery: “Really? So, what am I supposed to know about them?”

Shopkeeper: “Not much, except the fact that they have the special property of keeping Pokemon’s training under control.”

Flannery: “’Keeping Pokemon’s training under control’? I don’t get your point. Could you be more explicit, please?”

 

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Shopkeeper: “Hm… how shall I say?... In Reborn, those candies are commonly used by trainers to optimize their Pokemon’s strength without ever letting them succumb to excesses of power. This way, a trainer who regularly gives common candies to his Pokemon will never lose the respect of his team. Let me reassure you, they have all been tested and clinically approved without any damaging consequences on the organism according to some very recent researches. But on the other hand, I also heard that if you let your Pokemon abusing it, this can result in a significative loss of their strength and fighting talents, making them weaker and more frail than usual. All without exception!”

 

This explanation didn’t take long before to trigger something in Flannery’s mind. For obscure reasons, this type of side effect didn’t sound so unfamiliar to her. All this story started to puzzle the redhead. Then, after a brief moment of silence, she said the following words to the shopkeeper in front of her.

 

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Flannery: “Great… very well… Yeah, put like that, I guess this is indeed clearer to me. Thank you again for all those precisions, mister. I think I’ll need it by then.”

Shopkeeper: “Pleasure is mine! Meanwhile, I hope you’ll manage to get your Pokemon back.”

Flannery: “You can count on me for this! I’ll find this girl, and no matter what happens, me and my Vulpix will be reunited.”

Shopkeeper: “Excellent! Try, however, not to be too impetuous with this kid if you meet her. From what I’ve seen, she didn’t look like she was animated by evil motives.”

Flannery: “If you say so… Well. I suppose I’ll know what to think of her when we’ll confront each other face to face. Anyway, thanks again for the info! Bye!”

Shopkeeper: “See you, madam! And good luck!”

 

Having no more questions in reserve, Flannery exited the Pokemart. The redhead now had a better idea of who she was going to deal with. As she looked carefully around her, she tried to guess where Vulpix could have been taken.

 

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Flannery: “Okay. So, let’s think for a moment. If I wanted to keep a low profile in a big town, where would I hide? This person must have gone to a discreet location somewhere here. Let’s see…”

 

Then, as she made a few steps in the north side alley, she could see several wooden shacks crammed together. Potential hideouts maybe?

 

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Flannery: “Hm… I can’t see any entrance to these houses. It’s as if someone had sealed them very recently. Maybe they’ve planned to… uh? Hey!”

 

Taking a closer look to the shacks, Flannery noticed that there was still one that wasn’t sealed. Intrigued, she came near the mysterious residence.

 

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Flannery: “Look at that! If this isn’t a good hideout we have there, so I definitely don’t know what it is. Well, is that open? I’m going in.”

 

Choosing to trust her feminine intuition, Flannery grasped the door handle, turned it and pushed it inward to penetrate into the secret property. And there, right in front of her, at her great surprise, Vulpix was here, lying on a big black sofa. The moment she set a foot inside the house, the Fox Pokemon got up and turned to Flannery suddenly.

 

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Vulpix: “Vulpix!?”

Flannery: “Vulpix! You’re here!”

???: “What’s up again? Who is it?”

 

But as the sparkling young ambassador was about to get to her precious Pokemon, she was rapidly stopped in her haste by a little girl with long candy pink hair: the child the shopkeeper was talking about earlier. She was wearing a long sleeved cyan blue shirt with a large white collar, dark blue pants, and grey shoes. The curious kid looked very determined to prevent the ambassador from entering her home. Having no idea of who she was, nor what was happening here, Flannery only had one thing in mind: taking Vulpix back.

 

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Flannery: “I’m the trainer of this Vulpix. Would you be kind enough to let me pass, please? I’m here to take her back.”

???: “I don’t know you. Who allowed you to come in? This is my house, you’re not invited! Do you even know who I am?”

Flannery: “No sorry, I don’t have any idea. Could you move out now?”

???: “Don’t even think about it!”

 

The sassy attitude of the little girl was getting on Flannery’s nerves. The fiery woman didn’t even care about knowing who was this girl standing in her way. All she wanted was to return to the Grand Hall with Vulpix.

 

Flannery: “Rrrr…”

???: “You don’t seem to be in the mood to know who I am, do you? Great, I’ll tell you anyway! I’m a little girl who enjoy kicking the ass of those who like bringing disorder in town. I’m the one who will put an end to this suffering for all those poor ill-treated Pokemon. I’m the one that all the bullies around should fear. And you? Which category do you belong to?”

Flannery: “You’d better not comparing me to these vermin who pollutes the streets outside, okay? I know which category I belong to, so hear me out, kid. I’m a strong Pokemon trainer, a famous Gym Leader of Hoenn. And my name is Flannery. What’s yours?”

???: “Mine is Dounia. Dounia Pastor. I’m here to save and protect homeless Pokemon in Reborn. This way, they won’t get persecuted by thugs and malevolent people anymore. If you’re really what you are, so what are you doing here?”

Flannery: “I’m here to have my Pokemon back. And contrary to what you think, this Vulpix is not a homeless Pokemon. It has a master. Me.”

Dounia: “Ah, I see!... So… you’ve come all this way just to take your Vulpix back. That’s it?”

Flannery: “Yes, that’s it! Now please, let me pass.”

 

The little damsel took her eyes off the intimidating redhead and looked like she was thinking about it. After some seconds of silence, she finally answered to her.

 

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Dounia: “Tsss. Don’t take me for a fool. I know the truth behind your intentions. And I perfectly know what you’ll do next if I let you pass. You won’t trick me that easily, you know!”

 

Obviously, Flannery felt profoundly offended by this scathing statement. She replied back to Dounia’s remarks in a more and more aggressive tone.

 

Flannery: “Excuse me!? But this is the truth! I was sincere from the beginning! You heard me? I’M SINCERE, GOD DAMNIT!!”

Dounia: “See, you’re getting upset now! Such peaceful creatures don’t deserve people like you!”

Flannery: “How dare you judge me like that?! You’ve got some nerve to say this! You know nothing about me!”

Dounia: “You’re not gonna earn my trust if you keep screaming all the way, I can promise you that! I may be a novice trainer myself, but I know how to use my sense of discernment. And by the way… I also know how to defend myself.”

Flannery: “Ah, really? So, prove me you’re right!”

Dounia: “Oh, but that’s precisely what I intended to do. You aren’t the first one who tries to impress me. You won’t be the last either. And if you really want to leave this place with Vulpix…”

Flannery: “…”

Dounia: “…so well. You’ll have to take me down first!”

 

And then, in the heat of the moment, Dounia pulled out a Pokeball of her pocket. Right after that, the Fire Type specialist seized Torkoal’s Pokeball in response to the fearless little girl. Flannery and Dounia were about to confront each other in the middle of a merciless battle hidden from the public view. In reality, they knew well that this build-up of impetuous reactions couldn’t end other than through a victory of the best trainer.

 

Spoiler

 

 

Despite all the strategies used by Dounia to weaken Flannery’s Torkoal, the Coal Pokemon finally managed to beat his two adversaries without fainting. Therefore, the victory was won hands down by the ex-Gym Leader of Lavaridge Town.

 

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Flannery: “And you? What do you think of this?”

Torkoal: “Tooorkooooal!”

Dounia: “My… my Pokemon. How did you… no… it wasn’t supposed to happen like this!”

Flannery: “Now you know! Nothing is planned ahead in a battle. I won, so you have to respect my request. And I’m asking you to let me pass, please.”

 

The two battlers both called their respective Pokemon back. The kid still couldn’t believe it. For her, it was a hard blow to take. Always on her guard, even in defeat, she refused to allow the redhead to go further. She held her position and stared at Flannery straight in the eyes.

 

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Dounia: “You… you…”

Flannery: “Hm?”

Dounia: “You… you shall… not… pass.”

 

Then suddenly, Dounia kneeled in front of the redhead, covering her face with her arms, as if she was afraid of getting hit.

 

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Dounia: “Please, don’t hurt me.”

Flannery: “Could you listen to me just for one second, please? I’m not your enemy. All I want is just to be with my Pokemon again. I’m not asking for anything more, I promise.”

Dounia: “How? How can I know you’re not lying to me? How can I be sure you’re not just telling me what I would like to hear?”

Flannery: “Just ask and see!”

Dounia: “Eh?”

 

Right after that, Flannery winked at Vulpix and talked to her.

 

Flannery: “Hey you! Don’t you recognize me? My dear?”

Vulpix: “Piiix!”

 

Vulpix replied to her mistress as she was jumping of joy on the sofa with a big smile on her face. Dounia, who was witnessing the exchange between Flannery and the Fox Pokemon, ended up believing her and allowed the fire girl to walk up to the couch without saying a word.

 

Vulpix: “Vulpiiiiix! Vulpiiiiix!”

Flannery: “Ahahah, I’m so happy to see you. Come here, sweetheart!”

Vulpix: “Piiiiiiiiix!”

 

And so she did. Vulpix jumped into the arms of her beloved trainer under the fascinated gaze of the little girl, rubbing her head against the chin of the gorgeous damsel. Happiness had found its place again in the heart of the firehead who was holding her furry partner tight against her. But in spite of this moving reunion, Dounia felt bad for having been so wrong about Flannery. Ashamed of this erroneous judgement, she tried to apologize, eyes riveted on the floor of the house.

 

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Dounia: “Um…”

Flannery: “Yes!?”

Dounia: “I… I’m sorry. I was wrong about you. The moment I saw you, I thought ill of you. And frankly…”

Flannery: “…”

Dounia: “…I regret. I’m feeling so dumb now.”

 

For her part, Flannery had absolutely no hard feeling towards the little girl. In fact, she could easily understand why she was acting like this. She accepted Dounia’s apologies.

 

Flannery: “It’s all right, it’s all right! If it can reassure you, I myself have seen how rude and provocative some folks could be when I arrived in town, and I fully understand your reactions. I forgive you everything.”

 

Flannery’s compassion went straight to the heart of the pink-haired child.

 

Dounia: “Really?! I mean… um… thank you. This is kind of you.”

 

Without showing it directly, Dounia was relieved to have met someone who could comprehend her, even if she still felt a bit unsettled by this inopportune visit. But as Flannery was caressing the back of Vulpix, she noticed that there wasn’t any wound on her. Yet, she was convinced that her Pokemon has been assaulted earlier. Consequently, Flannery asked Dounia for explanations.

 

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Flannery: “…This is strange... There’s something I do not understand.”

Dounia: “What don’t you understand?”

Flannery: “In fact, I’ve been following the trail back to Vulpix from the Grand Hall. In my way, I’ve seen several things that made me believe that she has been aggressed in town.”

Dounia: “F-for real? What sort of things?”

Flannery: “Well… burn marks on the ground, Pokemon hair… and most importantly… blood near the rail track. I was then persuaded that she has been mistreated.”

Dounia: “Oh my God!”

 

The little girl was astounded to hear such a testimony. Looking closer to Vulpix, Flannery could hardly imagine that her Pokemon was a victim of an assault, her body being entirely woundless. And yet, Dounia still had a lot to tell to Flannery about the recent events that have occurred in Peridot Ward.

 

Dounia: “Uh… may I say something about that?”

Flannery: “Of course. What do you want to say?”

Dounia: “I just wanted to tell you that… your sense of deduction… is really good.”

Flannery: “Heh?!”

Dounia: “You can think anything you want about this story. And yet, all of this has actually happened. There really were people in town who did it. I mean… abuse of Pokemon. Abuse of YOUR Pokemon!”

Flannery: “What?! But… I don’t get it. Vulpix looks perfectly okay. She’s okay, isn’t she?”

Dounia: “Yes, she is. But what I meant to say is that there are a few things you should know about her before leaving. I can explain you everything. You just have to listen to me. Perhaps afterwards, you’ll also understand why I’ve been so unwelcoming when I saw you coming in earlier.”

Flannery: “Really? In that case, I’m all ears. I can’t wait to hear your argument.”

Dounia: “This is not an argument. This is a testimony. Are you willing to hear it?”

Flannery: “And how! My Pokemon are my family! If something wrong had happened to one of them, so I must discover what it was. Tell me everything!”

Dounia: “Very well!”

 

Thus, Dounia was about to explain in detail how her way and the one of Flannery’s Pokemon have crossed each other. She was ready to reveal the truth about the whole case. However, this isn’t with a smile on her lips that the kid was sharing this turbulent experience with the ambassador.

 

 

==================================================================================

FLASHBACK SCENE

==================================================================================

 

 

It’s about 4 p.m. in Reborn. The rain has stopped, the streets are dark, and the atmosphere is tense. Two hours have passed since the accident in Grandview Station. While Flannery is actually in the Grand Hall to have her Torkoal examined, a curious little girl with pink hair who was barely 12 years old is currently wandering all alone in the narrow streets of Peridot Ward. Her name was Dounia. She was combing the entire district on her own. A sort of daily ritual she used to repeat for two weeks now.

 

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Dounia: “Nothing to report today, good! It seems like things have calmed down since the last time. The least we can say is that this decision of cutting ties was by far the best I’ve ever taken. When I think about it… I still hear her saying: ‘The world is full of danger; you don’t know what you’re getting into. Your place is here with me. Your fate is already all written, you’ll be exactly like me someday. You’ll realize it as you’ll grow up.’ And I say ‘NO’! To hell with the fate! This is not how I’ve wished to make my life. If we all choose to foolishly wait the promised day to wake up in the same boat, end up the same way and get lost in the mass from generation to generation, so there’s no way to think about it any longer. My choice is made, and I have no regrets. Plus, it’s not as if every new passing day didn’t have anything useful to teach me anymore. I know it, I feel it. I did what I had to do.”

 

The strange kid looked like she was grumbling about a recent disagreement with a close relative, probably one of her parents. She was heading home from under the bridge of Opal Ward and was looking around to be sure that nothing wrong was occurring in town. Then, suddenly, a few meters away, she saw a group of boys standing in circle near the rail track intersection. They were three: a dark-skinned youngster with a backward red cap, an older man with old dirty clothes who was carrying a big grey rucksack, and a thin man with blond hair dressed in red and black who was probably in his early twenties. They looked like they were surrounding and intimidating a small orange Pokemon with a big red tail split in six: Flannery’s Vulpix. Intrigued by what was happening, Dounia came closer discreetly to not draw the attention to herself. Well… at least, not for now. She silently witnessed the scene.

 

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Vulpix: “P-pix…”

Thug 1: “If you don’t do exactly as we say, you’ll really have a bad time.”

Thug 2: “Exactly! You’ll really have a bad time!”

 

Upset, the blond man turned towards the man with the rucksack in a nasty way.

 

Thug 1: “You stopped repeating everything I say?”

Thug 2: “But I’m not repeating everything you say. Chill out, bro!”

Thug 3: “Lol!”

 

Then, shortly after this interlude, he turned towards Vulpix again, looking at her from above impatiently.

 

Thug 1: “Well. I won’t repeat myself forever. If you don’t kindly come say ‘hello’ to the man with the bag, I’ll be very angry. You wouldn’t want it to happen, do you?”

 

Vulpix didn’t feel safe anymore. Aware of the danger which was bearing down on her, she disobeyed. The Pokemon of the ambassador faked out and tried to escape by running to the northern section of the rails. But the kid with the red cap saw her fleeing at the last moment, and stretched his leg on Vulpix side. With quick reflexes, he blocked her route and kicked her in the muzzle.

 

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Vulpix: “Ow!”

 

He sent Vulpix flying backward and watched her landing on the back. The three ill-intentioned boys took advantage of this state of weakness to come even closer to the Fire Pokemon. Then, the youngest of the gang spoke the following words in a haughty tone.

 

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Vulpix: “…”

Thug 3: “What? You said something? Nobody told you to look both ways before crossing the street?”

Thug 2: “This poor little thing has clearly not received a good education from his parents.”

Thug 1: “Seems so. Just imagine what they would think of him if they ever saw him like this.”

Thug 3: “Ahaha, such a goofy boy!”

Thug 1: “Hm. Perfect! Since you’re so stubborn in your mind, so let us help you to get your head straight, okay?”

Dounia: “Don’t even think of it, dude!”

Thugs 1 & 2 & 3: “What?!?”

 

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Suddenly, out of the blue, Dounia showed up and made the three boys aware of her presence. Frustrated by their disgusting behavior, she caught their attention by saying a few words to them.

 

Dounia: “You there! What are you doing here? Aren’t you ashamed of bullying a harmless Pokemon? Leave it alone!”

Thug 1: “Go away, kiddo. It’s a grown man’s playground here. What we’re doing with that thing is none of your business.”

Thug 2: “You heard him, kiddo? Go back to the toy box!”

Dounia: “Excuse me, but this is actually my business! And between you and me, you look more out of place in Reborn than I am. Peridot Ward doesn’t need some braindead morons who spend time to mistreat and humiliate stray Pokemon in the streets when they see them. My advice: go throw yourself off a bridge instead, this is will make you better.”

Thugs 1 & 2 & 3: “!!!”

 

Visibly irritated by the vitriolic words of the candy-pink haired little girl, the thugs moved slowly to Dounia with a stern face. One of them asked her to repeat what she said.

 

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Thug 1: “Hm. Can you repeat, please?”

Thug 2: “Yeah. We didn’t hear you well indeed.”

Dounia: “Well, if that’s what you want. Hey, dummies! Why won’t you take a dip in Azurine Lake? You’re ugly. Nobody loves you.”

Thug 3: “How do you know that nobody loves us? You met our relatives?”

Thug 1: “Haha. You’re a funny one. You come here, insult us and tell us our business. But you. Look at you. You’re all alone here. If I were you, I would make myself even smaller than I already am.”

Thug 2: “I agree, you shouldn’t talk to strangers this way. Showing us disrespect could be enough to get you into trouble. Serious trouble.”

Thug 3: “Let’s talk about you. Who the hell are you to judge us like this?”

Dounia: “Do you want to know me? Marvelous!”

 

Without hesitating, the brave little girl took one step towards the hooligans, puffed out her chest, and made her famous speech of presentation in front of them.

 

Dounia: “I’m a little girl who enjoy kicking the ass of those who like bringing disorder in town. I’m the one who will put an end to this suffering for all those poor ill-treated Pokemon. I’m the one that all the bullies around should fear. In other words… I am your worst enemy!”

 

Silence became absolute as Dounia finished to introduce herself. The three boys looked at each other in a dumbfounded manner. Then, shortly afterwards, they all burst out laughing.

 

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Thugs 1 & 2 & 3: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

 

Meanwhile, Vulpix was back on her feet again. She got up and saw the three men answering to Dounia from behind.

 

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Thug 1: “Hahaha, I can’t get enough of it. This is priceless! You thought you were an avenger or what?”

Dounia: “Yes. That’s exactly for this very reason that I walk down the different quarters of Reborn every day. In case you didn’t know yet, there are people in this neighborhood who want to make this town a better place for all the Pokemon. And you, what have you done to help? Nothing! You don’t do anything to be appreciated. You’re just putting up roadblocks for nothing. If nobody is here to take out people like you, so who will?”

Thug 1: “The answer is simple: no one. No one is ever going to change that, I assure you. And this ain’t you, nor the police, nor the Reborn Champion herself who will do anything against it. They have other doggos to tame anyway.”

Dounia: “Just so you know, every dog needs a master. You are dogs, I am your master!”

Thug 1: “*yawn* I don’t know about you, but seriously, I’m getting tired of this conversation. Children giving lessons to adults. Usually, we only see things like this in movies. Stop dreaming, sweetie. You’re better than this.”

 

This verbal back and forth between Dounia and the gang leader was getting longer and longer. During this time, Vulpix had regained consciousness. She followed the conversation closely and was getting tired of the derogatory attitude of these scoundrels. While the man dressed in black and red was in the middle of the conversation with Dounia, the Fox Pokemon could feel her own fire burning inside of her. Willing to make the thugs pay for their bad behavior, she prepared a Fire attack. Two of the boys nearby saw Vulpix behind at the last moment, mouth wide open. She was ready to unleash fire on these cowards, which didn’t fail to worry them.

 

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Thug 2: “Uuh… bro. We have a problem out there.”

Thug 1: “Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. Don’t worry guys, I’m gonna fix it right away.”

Thug 3: “Um… I think he was talking about ANOTHER problem, actually.”

Thug 1: “Tsss. Well, very good. So, what do you want, guys? I hope it’s…”

Vulpix: “PIIIIIIIIIIIIIX!!”

 

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But as the dumb guy was turning around, Flannery’s Pokemon was finally launching a Flamethrower at them. The moment the flames emerged from her mouth, the two stooges threw themselves to opposite directions to dodge Vulpix attack, leaving the blond guy alone inside the burning fire jet. Dounia saw the whole scene taking place before her eyes with silent satisfaction and a vicious smile on her face. Justice was done. But when the fire was dissipating, the man dressed in black and red reappeared in the middle of the scene, totally black. He was covered with soot. His hair has curled because of the heat, and his leather jacket was all carbonized. He didn’t look happy at all.

 

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Thug 1: “…my… my jacket…”

Thug 2: “Is that okay, bro? Are you hurt?”

Thug 1: “…my jacket… my beautiful jacket…”

Thug 3: “*Gulp*”

Vulpix: “Piiiix!”

 

Shortly after that, a frightening silence engulfed Peridot Ward. The man with blond hair was furious. His gaze quickly slid away from his fuming outfit. He glanced at Dounia violently, giving his henchmen the following orders.

 

Thug 1: “They must not leave this place alive.”

Thugs 2 & 3: “…”

Thug 1: “You! Seize her!”

Thug 2: “Your wish is our command, bro.”

Thug 3: “Don’t worry, we’ll make it quick.”

Dounia: “Eh?!”

 

In a fraction of a second, the two minions pounced on Dounia and grabbed her by the arms, holding her prisoner. Her feet weren’t touching the ground anymore. She was immobilized in the air, struggling frantically by moving her shoulders to break free but to no avail.

 

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Dounia: “Grrr! Get your hands off of me, you brutes! Let me go!”

Thug 3: “You’re not so tough now, are you?”

Thug 2: “Stop resisting, sweetie. You’re not going anywhere.”

Thug 1: “Good! That’s one problem solved. Now, let’s get rid of the second.”

Dounia: “Huh? What? Wh-what are you going to do?”

Vulpix: “Vulpix?”

 

The man covered with soot was enraged. He felt offended deep within his soul, and threw a demonic glance at the Pokemon of the ambassador. This attack was more than a humiliation to him. It was a signature for a death warrant. In a horrific moment of inspiration, he pounced on Vulpix and grabbed her by the muzzle to prevent her from unleashing another Fire move. His hatred had turned him into an even more cruel individual.

 

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Vulpix: “Mmmm! Mmmm!”

Thug 1: “Rrrrh! So, what now? You wanted to be a rebel? We can both play at this game, you know.”

Vulpix: “Mmmm! Mmmm!”

 

The man clenched his fists harder on the jaw of the poor Fox Pokemon, he was animated by nothing but hatred and aggressivity. Vulpix had her eyes close, squeaking in agony because of the sharp pain in her muzzle.

 

Thug 1: “So tell me? What do your flames taste like? Hm?”

Vulpix: “Mmmm!”

Thug 1: “ANSWER ME! WHAT DO YOUR FLAMES TASTE LIKE, YOU SHITBAG?”

 

In the way of an insane torturer, he brutally shook the nose of the defenseless Pokemon in all the directions. Dounia couldn’t stay quiet in front such an unbearable sight.

 

Dounia: “Leave her alone, dirty prick! You have no right to harm this Vulpix!”

Thug 2: “You, shut up! Nobody asked you to open your mouth!”

Thug 1: “I do whatever I want here! I have every right in this town! YOU HEARD ME? EVERY RIGHT!”

Dounia: “Arrh…”

Thug 1: “Bah, whatever. In any case, there won’t be anyone left to testify about what happened here. Perhaps would you like me to show you a short live demonstration of my power, don’t you?”

Dounia: “Rrrr! What a coward you are! This is easy for you to threaten people who can’t fight back. If that’s what you want, so come at me! My head is hard!”

Thug 1: “Oh, come on, kitty cat. Did you really think I was talking about you?”

Dounia: “Uh, what?... *gasp*”

 

Without showing any ounce of mercy, the fearsome individual raised his free fist in the air, high above Vulpix head.

 

Vulpix: “MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!”

Dounia: “NO, WAIT! DON’T DO THAT!!”

Thug 1: “TAKE THAT!!!”

 

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Consumed by incredible violence, he beat Vulpix and hit her several times in the head and the ribs with beasty and uncontrolled movements. Flannery’s Pokemon couldn’t do anything but taking all the beatings inflicted to her. For Dounia, it was the apogee of chaos. The abuse to Vulpix was such a horrible thing to attend on that it almost had triggered an emotional shock in her mind. All her senses have been simultaneously awakened. Her touch, her taste, her hearing, her smell, and above all, her sight. Terrified and revolted at the same time, she struggled with all her strength. She was so disturbed and used so much energy that she ended up losing her sanity in her efforts.

 

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Dounia: “RAAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaaAAAAhhh!!!”

Thug 3: “Hohohooh! Don’t be so feisty, girl!”

Thug 2: “Calm down, baby! You wouldn’t want my bro to give you the same treatment, do you?”

 

Then, in the heat of the moment, Dounia swung with all her weight to finally reach the hand of the street rat with her mouth. The little she-devil used this opportunity to beat him to the bones. She sank her teeth so deep in his flesh that he immediately let go of her and screamed out in pain.

 

Thug 2: “OOOOOOOOUCH!!!”

Dounia: “Pffeuh! It tastes like feet!”

 

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While the man with bag was screaming all his being, Dounia used her free hand to land a heavy punch in the face of the boy with the red cap in a second. Completely stunned, he lost his balance and fell on the ground unconsciously. With nobody around to detain her, Dounia was free again.

 

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Dounia: “Raaah, that was about time! Well. We have to hurry now!”

 

Even before the two gangsters could regain their senses and catch her again, Dounia took advantage of the confusion to pull a Pokeball out of her pocket and threw it high in the sky.

 

Dounia: “Togedemaru! Come at me!”

 

Dounia’s Togedemaru took shape right in front of her. She needed the help of one of her Pokemon to put an end to this madness once and for all and save Vulpix as quickly as possible.

 

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Dounia: “Use Rollout and knock out these three boys in one blow!”

Togedemaru: “Togedemaru!”

 

The Roly-Poly Pokemon took up battle position and bristled up his dorsal spikes. As soon as he saw that Vulpix was in danger, he curled up and gained momentum before to leap straight in the air. Immediately after, he accurately hit the two marauders at full speed before to finish his race in the back of the head of the torturer with the burned jacket at full power.

 

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Togedemaru: “Maru! Maru! Maruuuuuuuuu!”

 

The amazing fighting partner of Dounia successfully knocked out the three evil-doers by himself. Thus, he managed to put an end to the pain inflicted on the poor Fox Pokemon.

 

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Dounia: “Excellent! You did an amazing job here, my boy! You’ll have a snack when we’ll be back home, I promise!”

Togedemaru: “Togeeee!”

 

The area was safe again. The three aggressors weren’t going to do any harm for a moment. Out of danger, Dounia called Togedemaru back to his Pokeball. Then, she moved close to Vulpix. She was very worry for her.

 

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Dounia: “Oh… poor girl. Why did they do that to you?”

Vulpix: “…”

Dounia: “Heh?”

 

But Vulpix wasn’t able to respond to her. She was all shaking on the ground, unable to utter her name any longer. Her belly, her back, her ribs and her head were totally covered with bruises and hematomas. Dounia felt very affected by what she was seeing. For her, the strain was becoming too much. She had difficulty to hold it in and almost shed a tear next the paralyzed Pokemon.

 

Vulpix: “…”

Dounia: “*snif* How can people be so mean with such an adorable creature? All this human stupidity is nothing more than… than human stupidity. They didn’t have the right to do that to you. Not them, nor anyone.”

Vulpix: “…”

Dounia: “Hold on, sweetheart. I’ll save you!”

 

Without losing any time, Dounia leaned over the Fox Pokemon and picked her up. She was holding the weakened Vulpix in her arms with one hand under the legs to prevent her from falling and pressed the Pokemon against her chest. She could feel the heart of the small being pounding against hers. The emotion was so intense; it was like a spear stuck in the bust of the caring child. Even if she still had a chance to reverse this situation, the mere fact of seeing Vulpix motionless and wounded was breaking her apart. Just before she left, Dounia threw a fierce glance at the unresponsive boys on the ground.

 

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Dounia: “You… you have no idea how lucky you are. I could tear you into pieces and end your life here if I really wanted to. But fortunately for you, and unfortunately for me, my priorities are somewhere else. When all this story will be behind me, I will pray every night that someone will find you again and make you pay. I hope this day will come. You’ll see, you’ll all endure the same fate. The same suffering!”

 

Preferring not to stick in the streets of Peridot Ward any longer, Dounia turned on the heels with Vulpix in her arms and walked away to heal her at home.

 

Vulpix: “…”

Dounia: “Don’t worry, honey. It will be alright. I won’t let you down, you can trust me.”

 

Thus, Dounia left the area and ran away, leaving the three boys behind her. She stepped up the pace alongside the rail track and rushed to her house located to the western part of Peridot Ward. As she did, Vulpix turned limp and was more and more unresponsive. Her head was hanging off out of Dounia’s arms in the manner of a spineless puppet. This made the heart of the child become heavier, her muscles were still vibrating. But as she was passing near the Mosswater Factory, Vulpix sneezed. Blood spurted out of her battered nose.

 

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Vulpix: “Tchi!”

Dounia: “*gasp* Oh my gosh! What was that?!”

Vulpix: “Tchi!”

Dounia: “Oh no, my goodness! This ain’t a good thing at all! Things are going bad. Things are going really bad!”

 

The respiration of Vulpix became more and more wheezy and irregular. She was losing a lot of blood and struggled for air. Her muzzle was particularly banged up. Dounia quickly pulled out a handkerchief of her pocket and wiped the bloody muzzle of the poor Pokemon to stop the hemorrhaging.

 

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Dounia: “My poor girl. Your situation is much worse than I believed. You need urgent medical attention! I must hurry before it gets worse for you!”

Vulpix: “…”

 

Anxious at the mere idea of losing Vulpix, Dounia raced at incredible speed and came across the western quarter before the empty gaze of the customers in the local Pokemart. She and Vulpix were almost arrived at home.

 

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Dounia: “You won’t suffer anymore, I promise!”

 

She made her way between the other neighboring wooden shacks before to finally reach the front door of her house. Without even catching her breath, she moved ahead, opened the door, and closed it as soon as she came in. Then, she put Vulpix on the black sofa. Right after that, she opened a cupboard under the sink to pick up something that could help Vulpix to forget her agony and make it disappear.

 

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Dounia: “Let’s see. Hm… where did I put that thing?”

 

She stayed crouched down for a while next to the sink while Vulpix was weakly moving her legs in the air, losing her strength and her mind little by little. Fortunately, Dounia managed to find the famous miracle product she needed.

 

Dounia: “Ha! Gotcha!”

 

Relieved to have found the coveted medicine in time, she walked serenely to Vulpix and uttered kind simple words to comfort her.

 

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Dounia: “Hey. Vulpix. Honey. Sweetheart. Can you hear me?”

 

Vulpix wasn’t able to speak anymore. It was as if she was muffled by the pain in her muzzle.

 

Vulpix: “…”

Dounia: “You will survive, my girl. I have here a special beverage for you. A miracle cure of my personal composition. One sip should be enough to make you forget your pain as well as all this madness you have endured until now. This turmoil, this rage. This surge of violence will be like a bad dream far behind you, you’ll see. You’ll be strong and healthy again.”

Vulpix: “…”

Dounia: “Stay relaxed. It will be alright. Just open your mouth as big as you can, and let me proceed. The rest will sort itself out.”

Vulpix: “…hhh…”

 

Trying her best to obey Dounia’s instructions, Vulpix opened her mouth slowly but progressively. Once her mouth was open enough, the little girl hurried to drop the mysterious liquid under the tongue of the Fox Pokemon. The moment she felt the medicine getting down her throat, a warm and invigorating feeling seized the fluffy creature from the inside. Dounia made sure that Vulpix drank the whole content of the vial she had in hand. When the vial was empty, she delicately stroked the sweet fur of the wounded Pokemon and kissed her on the forehead.

 

Dounia: “*smack* You’ll see. The first effects should appear in approximately half an hour. Meanwhile, I will prepare a few more vials in case the pain would show up again. I also have biscuits if you want some. Until then, try to hold on. Think about happy things. Let the negative outside, just inhale the positive.”

Vulpix: “… … …”

 

As she felt on the verge of a comatose state, Vulpix took note of Dounia’s advices. She tried to evacuate all the bad vibes from her fragile spirit, stopped struggling against the pain, and did her best to forget everything of those recent visions of aggressivity. Where she was now, there was no reason to feel bad anymore. Serenity was here. Silence was here. She felt supported again. She felt protected again, far from vile, mean individuals, because she trusted her new protector. The healing process was ongoing. And among all the pictures Vulpix had in her head, only one seemed to still have an importance to her.

 

Vulpix: (…Flannery… Flannery… my trainer… wherever you are… don’t cry for me… I’m… I’m safe now…)

 

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==================================================================================

FLASHBACK END

==================================================================================

 

 

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Dounia: “Now you know.”

 

That was the end of Dounia’s narrative. Flannery couldn’t believe it. She now knew the whole story about the Pokemon she was holding in her arms. But this discovery had nothing to do with a matter of rejoicing. When she realized what Vulpix has really been through, the redhead could barely speak.

 

Flannery: “So… this is true, isn’t it?”

Dounia: “Yes.”

 

The expression on the face of former Gym Leader had changed, sorrow progressively took shape on it. She fell silent and looked at the little Fox Pokemon without blinking. The more she stared at her, the higher the emotion rose in her heart. Flannery never looked so sad in her entire life.

 

Vulpix: “Vul… Vulpix?”

 

The Fire Pokemon could feel that her mistress wasn’t doing well. She robbed her nose against the left cheek of the damsel to comfort her but to no avail. Flannery broke down and sobbed as she strongly embraced her furry partner. She felt guilty for not having been around in time to protect Vulpix during the aggression.

 

Vulpix: “Piiiix!”

Flannery: “*snif* Forgive me… *snif* …forgive me, Vulpix!”

 

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Flannery loved her Pokemon more than anything. The simple fact of knowing that Vulpix has been beaten and mistreated had totally shaken the distraught lady. She felt bad and didn’t manage to overcome her sadness as she was squeezing her beloved Pokemon even stronger against her chest. Overwhelmed, Flannery crouched down on the floor and curled up upon Vulpix in the manner of a protective mother who wanted to keep her children safe. Dounia silently attended on the embrace between these two beings.

 

Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

Flannery: “…my baby… *snif* …I love you…*snif* …I love you so much… You are the jewel of my life… and I swear it on my own life… I won’t leave you alone again… Never… *snif* …If only I was there earlier, so none of this would have happened to you…”

Vulpix: “Pix!”

Flannery: “…Vulpix… my dear…”

 

Time and space both seemed to be in suspension around them. Vulpix, who had her curled locks against Flannery’s chin, passed the head between the arms of her mistress and licked her cheek as a sign of affection for her. It was as if she wanted to prevent other tears from rolling down the pretty face of the fire girl. They felt comforted by the osmosis that emanated from these cuddles. This helped the kindhearted trainer to calm down. Shortly after that, Flannery came back to her sense, more refreshed than before.

 

Flannery: “*sigh* …I feel better. Thank you for always being by my side, Vulpix. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

 

Flannery was relieved to be reunited with Vulpix again and passed her hands along the fluffy back of the Pokemon. Having noticed that she was smiling again, Dounia wished to add a few words about Vulpix state. Flannery had to be informed about one last important information before heading back to the Grand Hall.

 

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Dounia: “Good. So… may I speak, please?”

Flannery: “Hm? Oh yes, for sure! What do you want to tell me?”

Dounia: “This Vulpix you’re holding in your arms. She has been through a lot, you know. She has suffered serious damage. Because of it, I had to use a treatment that was powerful enough to deal with this damage. And meanwhile, I allowed myself to do some tests. Side effects have well and truly occurred in the end.”

Flannery: “What side effects are you talking about? What did you exactly give my Pokemon?”

Dounia: “I gave her the same product that I used to administer to all the Pokemon trapped between life and death. A special medicine which can eliminate all forms of ache at the cost of a reinitialization of their fighting abilities.”

Flannery: “Oh lord! That sounds totally hallucina… wait… WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?”

Dounia: “This process was not without consequences. After checking it myself, I can even confirm that Vulpix can’t use the offensive moves she once had. However, and luckily, two of her other capacities have been spared during the healing: Will-O-Wisp and Grudge. The rest of the attacks have been replaced by those commonly learned by a newborn Vulpix. I had to tell you before you leave. Just imagine what would have happened if you’d challenge someone in town with her in your team. I thought it was better for you to let you know now rather than let you realize it by yourself during a battle. You understand?”

 

Flannery did not answer right away. Instead of it, she got up and stared at Dounia with big eyes full of wonder. This discovery sounded like an earthquake inside of her head. She recalled that the way Torkoal has been healed in the Grand Hall was exactly the same. Obviously, Flannery started to have serious interrogations about the identity of the young healer.

 

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Flannery: “…”

Dounia: “What’s happening? You’re alright? Why are you making that face?”

Flannery: “Um… in fact, I… this is interesting you let me know that. I’ve actually met someone in the Grand Hall earlier. A nurse. As soon as I arrived in Reborn, my Torkoal was already in very bad shape, covered with bruises and all. And guess what, she used the exact same method as yours to heal him. Forgotten attacks, invisible wounds, healings stronger than death… it’s as if the whole same story was repeating itself. In short, I got the impression that you’re a little like her, but… younger.”

Dounia: “Hm.”

Flannery: “I know it sounds like a naive observation, but I have this feeling that you two have a lot in common. Have you already met before?”

Dounia: “So you met her, right? You saw how she could be sometimes, didn't you? So, tell me. What do you think of my mother?”

Flannery: “Y-your mother?!?”

Dounia: “Yes, my mother. The nurse of the Grand Hall is my mother. I left her shortly after we had some conversations together. She and I had a dispute two weeks ago. It’s a family matter, so I prefer not talking too much about it.”

Flannery: “Well, this is surprising to me! I didn’t know Nurse Joy had children.”

Dounia: “And yet, here I am! But basically, she and her colleagues are all the same. In her case, she simply made use of my findings to stand out from the mass and make a name for herself. Her talent in particular is quite debatable, if you know what I mean.”

Flannery: “What do you mean by that? I have difficulty to understand. Didn’t you get along well together? Why did you leave? And what are these findings you’re talking about?”

Dounia: “The miracle cure that serves to save agonizing Pokemon, of course. That was my idea. Me and only me have discovered this new concept of healing! Necessary ingredients, medicinal properties, tests… I was the one who did everything to make it work. Without me, I doubt my mother would have had the same reputation she has now. She didn’t do ANYTHING by herself. Do you think an instant she would have mentioned my name to her clients after she made her famous ‘miracles’? No. Nothing. Nothing at all!”

Flannery: “Wait, what? You’re telling me that it’s you who created this remedy to prevent Pokemon from dying?”

Dounia: “You’re surprised, right? Yes, this is me. In fact, I’ve always loved playing with mother’s tools to imitate her and become a nurse myself since I was little. Providing care and saving lives have always been two things I was passionate about, and I wish I could make it my profession. But when I saw who my mother really was, I began to wonder if I shouldn’t find my way more independently. Afterwards, I’ve decided to cut ties with her.”

Flannery: “And you’re sure you couldn’t have done it differently? I mean… I’m not against your decision, but leaving and cutting ties might be a little excessive in your case.”

Dounia: “No, it was necessary. The first time I showed her what I was capable of, she pretended to be mystified by my talent. I could feel it. In reality, she just waited the appropriate moment to claim my childhood work as hers and brag about it. One night, I went and spoke to her. I told her out loud what I was thinking of the way she was, just to let her know how arrogant and cocky she was becoming. Thereafter, the situation has… escalated to put it mildly. Rather than listening to me, she systematically changed the subject of the conversation by telling me that she had plans for me and that my fate was already all written. The worst joke I’ve ever heard. When she said that to me, I felt outraged, so I’ve decided to live my life in another way to escape this homogenization she tried to drag me in. That’s what I did! The next day, I woke up earlier than usual, I brought some stuff that could be useful to my getaway, I left a note on the fridge, and I fled while she was sleeping. After that, I didn’t hear from her again.”

Flannery: “Wait! You ran away?!”

Dounia: “Absolutely. I ran away. And if you want my opinion, I had more to gain than to lose by doing so. I much prefer finding Pokemon in town and save them rather than waiting for them to get banged up before I could heal them. I found my place, whether mom likes it or not. People are free to think what they want about me, I’m an action girl. And I have no regret about my decision.”

 

The situation described by Dounia seemed slightly disturbing to the redhead. Despite the admiration Flannery had for the young healer for being so audacious and ambitious, she still had difficulty to totally agree with her decision, but didn’t make it known. Consequently, she wasn’t biased against anyone. But as the conversation was moving forward, Flannery felt a sharp pain spreading in her stomach. The hungry damsel didn’t ingest anything since the early morning. She visibly was in a weakened state.

 

Flannery: “This is one heck of a story you have there! I respect you for your initiative. Well, just don’t mind if I appear impolite, but… I’m starving. I didn’t eat anything for hours and I feel like I could black out at any time.”

Dounia: “I saw that, you’re not looking comfortable, I can read it on your entire body. Anyway, you don’t seem to be the type of person who eats a lot, am I right? Take a seat on my couch, I must have a little something left for you.”

Flannery: “Thank you, Dounia. This is kind of you!”

Dounia: “You’re welcome!”

 

The ambassador moved to the sofa with Vulpix in her arms and sat. She put down the Pokemon next to her with an air of exhaustion. Meanwhile, Dounia picked up a biscuit packet which was hidden under the glass table. She seized it, and went back to her guest, handing her the packet.

 

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Dounia: “Take it! You can get as many as you like. I took these biscuits with me when I left from the Grand Hall. They are cinnamon flavored, my favorite taste.”

 

At the mere sight of the biscuit packet, Flannery’s eyes were sparkling again. She, who had empty stomach during all this time, was finally going to satisfy her hunger temporarily. She took the packet and pulled two biscuits out of it. Then, she put one in her mouth. The treat had a sweet perfumed taste which reminded Flannery of the old homemade cakes that her grandfather used to bake in Lavaridge Town when she was younger. As soon as she swallowed the treat, she ate the second one right away. After a few seconds of degustation, she turned to Dounia with an adorable smile.

 

Flannery: “This is so delicious! Thank you again for offering.”

Dounia: “You’re welcome! It’s all natural to me, you know. Making both Pokemon and people happy helps me to feel good about myself.”

Flannery: “I feel you! Thanks again!”

 

The Fox Pokemon was attracted by the scent of cinnamon as well. Vulpix was getting hungry too. She squeaked as she was pointing the nose at the packet.

 

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Vulpix: “Pix! Pix! Pix!”

Flannery: “Yes, honey? What do you have? Are you hungry too?”

Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

Dounia: “Be reassured, you can give her one. They are made for human AND for Pokemon.”

Flannery: “Really? Oh, thank you!”

Dounia: “My pleasure!”

 

Vulpix raised the head in the air while Flannery was pulling a third biscuit out of the packet and hung it above her. The redhead looked at her tenderly and gave her the coveted snack. She saw her savoring the treat with one tear in the eye. The fact of knowing that all her Pokemon were back again was rekindling her from the inside. Even if she didn’t show it directly, Flannery was still particularly shaken up by the tragic testimony provided by Dounia. Then, after she noticed that the luminosity was declining, Flannery looked through the window. The sun was going down.

 

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Flannery: “*gasp* Good gracious! It will be night soon!”

Dounia: “Yeah, seems so! Looks like time has passed pretty fast today. If it wasn’t so small here, I would have gladly proposed you to stay with me tonight. But in the present case… well, you see what I’m getting at.”

Flannery: “Don’t worry for me. I’ve already planned to go back to the Grand Hall at the end of the day anyway. I just hope you’ll still be able to survive on your own.”

Dounia: “I can handle it myself, don’t worry. Also, the little fight we had earlier made me realize that I still have a lot of work to do before to be a good Pokemon trainer, which is a thing I’ll have to prioritize too. Because if I can’t protect myself, how we’ll I be able to protect the ones I love?”

Flannery: “Hahaha! You sound like me when I was your age. You’ll be successful, I’m sure of that!”

Dounia: “Thank you! This is kind of you to encourage me. I’ll try my best! However… I would appreciate even more if you didn’t tell anyone that you saw me here. Since the day I left, I do everything I can to remain anonymous and I always carefully cover my tracks for fear of being unmasked by the police. They would drag me back to the Grand Hall if they knew who I am.”

Flannery: “You have my word, Dounia! Also, while we’re at it, and if it can make you feel better, let me tell you that I saw some policemen earlier. They were busy more with the recent incidents that have occurred in Reborn today than anything else. No offense, of course! As a result, I think you can sleep peacefully tonight.”

Dounia: “Is that true? Hm. So, maybe… maybe she preferred keeping it for herself in the end. In fact, I think that’s precisely what she did. Whenever she found herself in difficult situations, mom never was the type of person who asked for help to anyone. And since I didn’t hear of her for quite a while, I will probably never know if she ended up accepting my decision or not.”

Flannery: “Do you insinuate that you will never see her again?”

Dounia: “Honestly, I don’t want to disappear from her life either. Maybe I’ll come back to her someday. But for now, I prefer to keep some distances. This conflict is still way too fresh for me. Promise me you won’t say anything to her!”

Flannery: “Not one single word! I’ll keep secret our encounter, you can trust me!”

Dounia: “Thank you, Flannery!”

 

Ready to head back to the Grand Hall, Flannery rose from the sofa and called Vulpix back to her Pokeball. Thanks to the precious help of her new friend in Peridot Ward, Flannery’s searches were over. She moved to the exit of Dounia’s residence and thanked her one last time.

 

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Flannery: “Thank you again for your help, Dounia. Me and Vulpix owe you a lot for what you did. I hope we’ll meet again someday.”

Dounia: “I hope too. Until then, take care of yourself! And above all, try not to be too extreme with Vulpix rehabilitation. She has really been through a lot!”

Flannery: “Thank you for the reminding, I’ll be careful. Good luck! Bye!”

Dounia: “Good bye, Flannery!”

 

After they waved goodbye at each other, Flannery went out of Dounia’s hideout and made her way back to Opal Ward to keep Ame informed about what happened in town this afternoon. The ambassador had the situation under control again. She crossed through Peridot Ward, pleased to have found Vulpix back in one piece, although a reeducation was going to be necessary to her. But as she did, she saw the policemen she met earlier standing next to the rail track. The two men accosted her and questioned her as she was appearing in front of them in the dark street.

 

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Policeman 1: “Oh! Madam Ambassador! This is you!”

Policeman 2: “Glad to see you again, madam!”

Flannery: “Glad to see you too, misters. How were the searches on your end?”

Policeman 2: “Well… unfortunately, there’s nothing really successful to report.”

Policeman 1: “Yes. Plus, we’ve been scared less than one hour ago. We heard a very shrieking sound which came from the opposite of the town, so we thought someone was in danger here.”

Flannery: “Really? Shrieking sounds, you said?”

Policeman 2: “Absolutely. Shrieking sounds.”

Policeman 1: “Perhaps you’ve heard it too, haven’t you?”

Flannery: “Hmmmm… no, sorry. I didn’t pay attention to it. Anyway, I have good news to share with you!”

Policeman 1: “Huh! Really? What sort of good news?”

Policeman 2: “Wait. Did you find another track leading to your Vulpix by any chance?”

Flannery: “Even better! I found Vulpix herself!”

Policeman 1: “Ah, excellent! For real?”

Flannery: “Yes, for real!”

Policeman 2: “Congratulations! That is very good news indeed!”

Policeman 1: “And, uh… without being intrusive… what’s her condition? Is she all right?”

 

Since Flannery had promised Dounia to keep her out of it, she changed some details in her interpretation of facts by pretending to tell them where and how she found her Pokemon back.

 

Flannery: “This took me some time, but I followed the trail back to one of those big buildings behind me. This is an old lady who’d have found her roaming in the street. From what she told me, Vulpix was very weak so she took care of her while I was walking around the city.”

Policeman 1: “I see. And… how is your Pokemon doing now?”

Flannery: “She’s not a model of well-being, but she can still stand on her legs. She has been pampered until I arrived, but I doubt this is will be sufficient. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to a Pokemon Center and find a nurse.”

Policeman 2: “No problem, madam!”

Policeman 1: “Don’t you wish us to accompany you?”

Flannery: “No, thanks. This is very nice of you to offer, but I think I can do it on my own. That being said, I appreciate your kindness. You can count on me to give Ame your regards when I’ll see her.”

Policeman 1: “Oh! Hm. Well, this is… this is fine. Please, go ahead!”

Flannery: “Thank you again!”

 

Without further conversation, Flannery ran up to the Grand Hall to make a report to Ame while the two policemen were looking at each other in an odd way.

 

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Policeman 1: “There’s something strange about her, don’t you think?”

Policeman 2: “Maybe. I don’t know. Somehow, I always believed that all the women in this world had a piece of mystery inside of them.”

Policeman 1: “No, that’s not what I mean. There’s something suspicious about this girl. She’s hiding something to us. I know it. My detective instinct tells me so.”

Policeman 2: “It tells you what? What’s on your mind?”

Policeman 1: “Um… I don’t know how to explain that. This is hard to describe. I just thought she was acting weird, that’s all.”

Policeman 2: “Really? I don’t believe she is. And then, if she really managed to find this Vulpix, so it’s probably better to consider this case as closed. Don’t you agree with me?”

Policeman 1: “*sigh* Yes, probably. I don’t know what’s going on with me. I suppose this story has pumping too much of my energy for today.”

Policeman 2: “I feel you. Well, we should go back to Jasper Ward. The chief will certainly want to know what happened here.”

Policeman 1: “I’m coming with you, colleague. Plus, I hate patrolling in this quarter at night.”

Policeman 2: “And so does the rest of us!”

 

Tired of their hard day’s work, the investigators both returned to the police station in Jasper Ward to get some rest. As for Flannery, she was continuing on her way to Opal Ward. Not surprisingly, the effect provided by Dounia’s small snacks was short-lived and faded away. The hunger soon awakened again and pulled down the steadfast redhead in the stomach. But Flannery refused to give up, she held on. For her, this growing starvation was nothing compared to what Vulpix and Torkoal have lost.

 

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Flannery: “Argh… my belly… the hunger is too much… arrh… that fucking hurts… hmpf… hmpf… I… I can’t stop… I have to keep going!”

 

This wasn’t enough to stop and put down the tenacious fire girl. She kept up the pace from Peridot Ward to Opal Ward with one hand on her abdomen, as if she was trying to prevent her guts from coming out of her belly. Then, she finally made it to the stairs leading to the Grand Hall. She climbed the steps one by one in a very uncomfortable stance. In the meantime, night had totally fallen.

 

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Flannery: “Here we are! We made it!”

 

Relieved to be done for today, Flannery passed through the gate of the dark building and teetered slowly toward the elegant Champion who was waiting beside the main office of the Grand Hall. Ame, who had noticed the decrease in energy of the ambassador, talked to her in a worried tone.

 

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Ame: “Flannery! You’re alright?”

Flannery: “I… I’m fine, thank you. I… I found Vulpix back!”

Ame: “Amazing! Really amazing! You’re definitely a lucky girl, you know.”

Flannery: “For sure I know, haha… um… uh… I don’t see Victoria. Why didn’t she come in?”

Ame: “We received a special call from her shortly before you arrived. She told us she won’t be able to come back until tomorrow in the morning. In fact, boats aren’t allowed to sail on the lake after a certain hour, and her intervention in Apophyll Academy took her more time than she expected. This explains why she won’t return to the Grand Hall tonight.”

 

While Ame was explaining the reason for Victoria’s absence, the belly of the redhead began to gurgle very loudly. So loudly that Flannery blushed with shame in front of the Reborn Champion.

 

Flannery: “Oops… sorry… you have no idea how hungry I am.”

Ame: “Yeah, I heard it. Sounds like you need to regain your strength too. Fortunately, everything is ready for you downstairs. While you were out, I took the opportunity to arrange a private dinner on the floor below, just for you and me. The staff and I have also applied some space planning in your name. You’ll have all the time you need to tell me your adventures over supper. Shall we go?”

Flannery: “With pleasure, Ame! I’ll follow you!”

 

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Having nothing more to say, Flannery and Ame crossed over the counter and went downstairs together to the lower floor of the Grand Hall. Basically, this place was exclusively restricted to Ame’s administrative staff. There were several tons of warehoused paperwork as well as several desks with computer which were operating at full power nearby. In parallel, a large glass table was occupying the center of the room with two white couches placed at each end of the table. That contrasted sharply with the bureaucratic atmosphere of this place, but Flannery didn’t seem to bother much about it.

 

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Ame: “Here we are! I hope you don’t mind for the lack of organization. Me and my employees still have a lot of work to deal with and I couldn’t afford to make major rearrangements either.”

Flannery: “This is not a problem for me, really. I already appreciate enough that you invited me for dinner, so as long as there is plenty of good food to eat, it’s all good for me.”

Ame: “Yes, you’re right. Please, take your seat!”

 

The two ladies sat down opposite each other. On the table, two big plates were displayed. There was rice, fried fish, as well as a copious salad made of various sorts of vegetables mixed in a bowl. After they made themselves comfortable, the dinner could finally start. Flannery, who was tired of all this wait, swallowed the whole content of her plate and bowl in just a few minutes. Thankfully, there was enough to satiate her. Since she finished her meal faster than Ame, the redhead used this opportunity to tell the Champion that she unfortunately didn’t manage to catch the starter thieves, since she had spent the rest of the afternoon to explore Peridot Ward in order to find Vulpix back. Obviously, she also gave Ame her own version of the facts concerning the conditions in which she had found her Pokemon.

 

gLoJXKH.png

 

Ame: “…Yes. Yes, I see. Yeah, I must admit that was unexpected. Really. And to be honest, I feel bad for you. You really had a sad day in the end.”

Flannery: “You know. It could have been worse. But all in all, you’re right. I feel like my emotions have been stretched to their limits today. Frankly, I don’t believe I would have been able to hold on if one of my Pokemon had passed away.”

Ame: “Poor girl. This must have been a lot to take for you.”

Flannery: “My head and my heart will remember it forever. This feeling… when you discover that those you loved the most have been hurt or assaulted… it spreads through your whole body and soul. And you can’t do anything against it. When I held Vulpix against me once I found her in Peridot Ward, I realized the chance I had to have her by my side again. I realized how sensitive and vulnerable she could be. That she needed me to survive. To be happy. So don’t wait until it’s too late! People who love their Pokemon must protect them and keep them closely. They must never, ever, forget that the moment they had together can be so very precious.”

 

The manager of the Grand Hall felt concerned by Flannery’s words. They were so full of truth that Ame stopped speaking and started to meditate on the adventures she lived herself with her own Pokemon before to become the responsible of the Reborn League. Then, she spoke again.

 

Ame: “*sigh* If only everyone in Reborn could listen to you, you’d certainly influence a lot of mentalities. I myself tend to be so engrossed in my work that I sometimes lose sight of these values you exposed so well. I realize it now.”

Flannery: “It’s never too early to tell your Pokemon you love them, you know.”

Ame: “I know, Flannery. I know.”

 

Ame was pensive. She looked down and stared at her empty plate for a short time. Then, after another sigh of nostalgia, she stood up from her couch and asked Flannery to do the same.

 

Ame: “Well, alright then. I still have one last thing to show you. I guess after such an eventful day, you must feel particularly exhausted, am I right?”

Flannery: “*yawn* You got it! And honestly, beside the Grand Hall, I don’t have any place in mind where I could stay and spend the night.”

Ame: “Be reassured, our doors are wide open for you. You’ll have a good night! *wink*”

 

vAVal2R.png

 

Flannery smiled at Ame in response. The white-haired Champion had not finished to surprise her. Shortly after a waiter came and cleared the table, she turned heels and motioned the ambassador to accompany her. Then, the two girls left and walked through the narrow corridor of the basement. They entered one of the side rooms. Flannery couldn’t believe what she was seeing. In addition to the private meal with Ame, the generous manager of the league had taken the liberty of rearranging one of the offices and turned it into a bedroom exclusively reserved for the hosting of the fiery guest.

 

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Ame: “Here we are! This is not much, but I hope you’ll like it.”

Flannery: “This is very generous of you. Thank you Ame! I just hope, for my part, it wasn’t asking too much of your employees.”

Ame: “You’re welcome, Flannery! And don’t worry about that. This office was actually occupied by one of our oldest chartered accountants. But since she left, it wasn’t of any use for us afterward. Therefore, the staff and me have moved the furniture to another room and brought some extra furnishings to turn this place into a guest room. This looks like a makeshift shelter, I admit it, but I hope you’ll appreciate it anyway.”

Flannery: “Honestly, I find it pretty well-organized for a makeshift shelter. And as long as there is a bed I can sleep on, I’m fine with it. This room is exactly what I needed to conclude this tough day.”

Ame: “That’s good to hear! Yes, I’m sure you’ll feel like a charm tonight.”

Flannery: “I think too. Thank you again, Ame!”

Ame: “You’re welcome! Well. You don’t mind if I leave now, do you? Opal policemen will be back soon, and I need to prepare myself before to hear what they have to say concerning the accident case in Grandview Station. We can talk about that tomorrow if you’re interested.”

Flannery: “For sure I am! Despite what we’ve seen today, I’m still hoping that people managed to make it out alive. But since the chances for this to happen are very low… hm… I don’t know…”

Ame: “We’ll find out soon. Well. My apologies, Flannery, but I have to go now. Rest well! And have a good night!”

Flannery: “Good night, Ame!”

 

Ame went out of the room hastily to meet the policemen at the upper floor while Ame closed the door behind her. In the end, Flannery was relieved by the final conclusion of this hellish day. All these meetings, these moments of sadness and anger… it was a lot for her. But now, she felt at peace with herself again, trying to forget the negative to better inhale the positive. Then, as she found herself alone in her room, she grabbed Torkoal and Vulpix Pokeballs on her belt and made them appear in front of her. She wished to be with them just one last time before going to bed.

 

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Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

Torkoal: “Torkoal!”

Flannery: “Hello, sweeties! How are you doing?”

Vulpix: “Piiiiiiix!”

Torkoal: “Torkooooooal!”

 

Flannery looked at her teammates for a moment with a tender gaze. Their presence was still the only thing that could comfort her after all these hardships. In return, Torkoal and Vulpix looked at their trainer from above with a happy face. The beautiful trainer came closer to them and confessed to her fiery partners to get rid of those last oppressive thoughts which were haunting her once and for all.

 

Flannery: “Torkoal… Vulpix… my dears. I would like to apologize for what you had to endure today. What happened to you is all my fault. I wish I could have made things different.”

Vulpix: “…”

Torkoal: “…”

Flannery: “I was so afraid for you. You are so precious to me. If you died, I think I would have never got over it. Will you forgive me?”

 

The pretty ambassador still felt terribly guilty for not having protected her Pokemon in time. Convinced that none of that would have happened if she had stayed in Hoenn, she felt crushed by her own culpability. But there was no grudge in the heart of her partners. They all trusted their trainer. In spite of all these vicissitudes and shock treatments they have experienced, the empathy of the two Pokemon for Flannery was still the same even after that.

 

Vulpix: “Vulpiiiix!”

Torkoal: “Torkooooal!”

Flannery: “Oh…”

 

Vulpix and Torkoal nodded and motioned the young lady to come closer to them. There also was a special gleam in their eyes which wasn’t unfamiliar to her. Flannery could see it every time she felt sad or depressed. Without further ado, she moved to them and kneeled. Then, her Pokemon came to her in turn, trying to climb on their mistress to get some hugs. Unable to resist such an adorable request, Flannery leaned over them and embraced them with love.

 

Vulpix: “Piiiiiix!”

Torkoal: “Toooor!”

Flannery: “*snif* I’m so happy to be with you! My dears!”

 

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Tears began to roll down the sweet face of the passionate goddess. But those had nothing to do with sorrow or desperation. Those were tears of relief. Tears of consolation. Tears of joy. The kind of tears that fall when people realize there’s still someone left by their side to support them after they had tasted the harsh reality of a ruthless world. Flannery could feel the wheezing breath of Torkoal against her neck while Vulpix was licking her cheek as a token of her affection for her. The emotion was flooding into the room of the ambassador. She sighed one last time, as if the rest of her sensitive memories has been allayed. Then, after she found some inner peace, she called her Pokemon back to their Pokeballs.

 

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Flannery: “Thank you!”

 

For them and for her, it was the end of this cuddle session. Tired like never before, Flannery sluggishly walked toward her bed to get some sleep. She felt way too exhausted to think of anything else. But suddenly, Vulpix went out of her Pokeball by herself and took shape next to her before to leap on the bed precipitately. She then turned to Flannery and yapped nervously. It was as if she was asking her permission for something special. That seemed to be very important to her.

 

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Vulpix: “Piiiix!”

Flannery: “*gasp* Gracious! What do you have, Vulpix?!”

Vulpix: “Pix! Pix pix pix pix pix! Vulpix! Vulpiiiiix!”

 

She saw Vulpix jumping and running on the bed. The Fox Pokemon looked particularly stressed. Against all odds, it didn’t take long for Flannery to understand the reason of her concern.

 

Flannery: “Aaaaw! I got it! You want to sleep with me, that’s it?”

Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

Flannery: “Haha, great! So be it! You can sleep with me tonight, sweetheart.”

Vulpix: “Piiiix!”

 

Always benevolent concerning the well-being of her Pokemon, Flannery gave into Vulpix request and allowed her to go to bed with her tonight, which seemed to really please the small furry quadruped. Thus, Vulpix got out of the bed to leave some place to Flannery, so she could crawl into it. The kindhearted human made herself comfortable between the fresh sheets carefully made up by Ame and her staff. Once it was done, Vulpix joined her right after that and curled up on Flannery’s tummy. The passionate trainer uttered the following words to her Pokemon as she was stroking her fluffy back.

 

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Vulpix: “*purr* *purr* *purr*”

Flannery: “My precious… I’m so relieved to have you with me again. For you, I would have crossed this whole world and overcome all the obstacles. From now on, I swear we will never be separated. Not ever again!”

Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

 

After these words, Flannery stretched the arm to the light switch located on the wall next to the bed.

 

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Flannery: “Good night, Vulpix!”

 

With one wave of the hand, she pushed down the switch and turned off the light. The night was finally going to be real. Sleep progressively took over the redhead who was about to release herself in the soft bed of her new personal chamber. Without even worrying on what tomorrow was made of, she fell asleep. Meanwhile, Vulpix was here, comfortably installed on the abdomen of her dear mistress. After noticing that Flannery wasn’t awake anymore, she yawned silently and tried to fall asleep in turn. The dark veil of the night had extended all over the city of Reborn. Ignoring everything of what was happening outside at the present time, the Fox Pokemon tried to focus on her breath. She freed her spirit and let it go through the ebb and flow of this nocturnal tide to better join her lovely trainer in dreamland. A day ended as a new one was about to start.

 

Vulpix: (Thank you, Flannery!)

 

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POKEMON TEAM

Spoiler

torkoal.gif

Torkoal/Male/Level 14

Nature: Naive/Ability: White Smoke

Held Item: None

Moveset: Rapid Spin/Smog/Protect/Overheat

 

vulpix.gif

Vulpix/Female/Level 5

Nature: Jolly/Ability: Flash Fire

Held Item: None

Moveset: Ember/Tail Whip/Will-O-Wisp/Grudge

 

QUICK LINK TO NEXT EPISODE

 

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Well that was certainly a very very VERY long read but an enjoyable 1 as well. I liked how you mad Dounia and the Nurse Joy at the Grand Hall related. I like how her team as of now is kind of like cutesy. I'm glad Vulpix is back though. Was worried for the little fox Pokemon. Can't wait for the next episode to come out whenever that will be! 😄

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I only started reading Flannerys story today and I was so immersed in your writing, that i couldn't stop. It is a really good story so far and I like the way you combine the story of Reborn with your own. Especially the last three chapters got me emotionally. I was so glad that Torkoal didn't die and that Flannery managed to get Vulpix back. I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. Keep up the good work 😊

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Thank you all for your comments, this is really heart-warming to me! After all the time I spent on this, I'm glad you still enjoyed the story 🙂

And yes, this is a particularly long episode, but I wanted to make it so, because I wanted to draw a line on Flannery's Pokemon loss once and for all. Plus, I hope you enjoyed the battle against Dounia as well as Dounia herself. You can see her like a Heather software running on a young Nurse Joy hardware if you want. Well, to be more serious, Dounia has a rebellious nature by default, but is also very helpful with people who deserve her services, and most importantly, with vulnerable Pokemon. Also, you got it @J-Awesome_One! I originally planned to make her have a team based both on the cutesy theme and medical theme, which explains why she has Happiny as her ace Pokemon. And it's not over, I have more plans for her in the future of the run. Otherwise, I would have not revealed things about her past like I did. But in her case, being cute can be very misleading and lethal for her enemies. The three thugs of the flashback can testify!

 

17 hours ago, TheVentusX said:

I only started reading Flannerys story today and I was so immersed in your writing, that i couldn't stop. It is a really good story so far and I like the way you combine the story of Reborn with your own. Especially the last three chapters got me emotionally. I was so glad that Torkoal didn't die and that Flannery managed to get Vulpix back. I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. Keep up the good work 😊

Thanks! This is very nice from you! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the childhood arc too! I admit that the beginning can be very morose at first sight, but then, things become milder and milder, and I couldn't resist to develop it even more overtime. Since I like to insist on the psychology of the characters, I have a tendency to illustrate it with screenshots, so it's more easy for the reader to guess what the protagonists and antagonists have in mind, especially during long episodes 😄 Even if the story includes sad moments from time to time, I have to say it myself: I hate bad endings, but I hate linear stories even more. This is why I couldn't resist to make connections with various elements from Flannery's past as well as include some details from the manga, especially with Winona who can be quite supporting and protective at times. Since she's supposed to be Flannery's best friend, as well as my second favorite PokeGirl, I had to include her in the story too!

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Shadow Defender.... Shadow Rysing.... Whatever my name is at this point..... here...

 

This chapter was a welcome distraction. I enjoyed how you implemented an OC like Dounia, (I assume it's an OC) and tied her into the story while making her relevant. I wouldn't have ever guessed where that ability would of come from, so... Expectations subverted. Nicely done! Aside form that, Vulpix is safe! Yay! 

 

Good job on this episode. Now, the wait for ep. 18 begins...

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Thank you!

 

Yes, that was a lot of upstream work! And sincerely, I'm glad to be finally done with it! Also, since the creation of this episode included 88 edited picutres, plus one original character with a custom battle made entirely with RPG Maker XP, plus 34 pages of read on Word, plus an investigation part where the logic had to be kept from beginning to the end, plus Dounia's flashback that could have been put in a different episode, plus a bumpy return to computing studies, I definitely assume it was a work worthy of 3 months of wait. And even for myself, this episode was a thrilling experience, because in addition of making the story progress, I myself went further in Reborn as the player with my favorite Pokemon character. So I guess you trust me if I tell you that all this makes me feel good! Things are getting better and better as I keep writing and imagining the next part of the story. So, don't worry too much about the sequel. It probably won't have everything the 17th episode had. Apart from that, I will ensure that Dounia's prayer will be satisfied (Just like the expectations of the reader if you know what I mean 😉).

 

You'll see, Flannery is always on top. She never disappoints 😄

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B65UAJx.png

 

Spoiler

Today begins a new day in Reborn. Peacefulness was at its peak in the bedroom of the ambassador. While the night was taking off its dark cape and withdrew to leave room for the luminous dress of a new dawn, Vulpix, who had just woken up, moved towards her dear mistress and rubbed her snout against Flannery’s cheek by purring. The stunning lady awakened in turn slowly. The night was serene for her and her Pokemon.

 

Vulpix: “*purr* *purr* *purr*”

Flannery: “Hm…? What’s that? Who is… Oh! Vulpix!”

Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

 

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The Fox Pokemon smiled as she was seeing her trainer opening her eyes quietly. The redhead sat up straight and yawned loudly before to come back to herself. She then realized that she wasn’t at home in Lavaridge Town anymore. Her memory returned quickly enough though.

 

Flannery: “Fwaaaaaaaaaaaah! Well, where are… oh yes, that’s true! I forgot that we are in Reborn now. With everything that happened yesterday, I could barely make the difference between what is a dream and what is real. This is incredible!”

Vulpix: “Pix!”

Flannery: “All right! So… what time is it?”

 

Flannery looked to her left to see time on the clock of her room.

 

Flannery: “9:15… excellent! At least, I feel in shape for today. I hope that’s the same for you too, sweetie.”

Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

Flannery: “Ahah, I’ll take it as a yes. So be it! Let’s get going! We have a long day ahead of us!”

 

Never in lack of energy after a good night’s sleep, Flannery jumped out of her bed with Vulpix by her side, already fully clothed. The red-headed woman and her fiery vixen were both ready to start their very first day in Reborn together. After she did some stretches, Flannery went out of her dormitory and walked to the main room of the Grand Hall basement to take breakfast with Vulpix behind her. Once there, Flannery saw two bowls filled with PokeFood next to the couch on which she was seated last night for dinner. There was also a copious meal made of various cereals and fruits displayed on the table with a hot drink in a cup. Flannery’s mouth was watering at the mere sight of her plate’s content.

 

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Flannery: “Well! Now that’s what I call organization! Have you seen that, Vulpix? They prepared the meal for everyone!”

Vulpix: “Piiix!”

Flannery: “Plus, it smells so very good! Seriously, that’s so nice of Ame to care about us like she did. She’s really a cool girl! By the way… speaking of Ame, where is she? I don’t see her around.”

Vulpix: “Vulpix?”

 

Indeed, Flannery had noticed that Ame was not present to welcome her. There was no place set for the Champion at the other end of the table. For what reason? Flannery had no idea.

 

Flannery: “Hm… she’s not here. Did she leave? I can’t see her anywhere.”

Vulpix: “Pix?”

 

Then, remembering that Ame had a major role to play in the smooth running of operations in the Grand Hall, Flannery said to herself that maybe her absence was due to some important business she had to deal with.

 

Flannery: “Oh, nevermind. Ame must probably have a lot of work to handle at this time. Who knows? This might take a while. She would have certainly not set the table for us if it wasn’t necessary. Anyway, I hope nothing serious has happened.”

Vulpix: “Vulpix.”

Flannery: “Okay. I don’t believe we will get faster responses if we keep standing here forever, right? Come on, Torkoal! It’s time to get up!”

 

Preferring not to waste time waiting in vain, Flannery grabbed Torkoal’s Pokeball and liberated him, so he could enjoy his breakfast in company of Vulpix.

 

Torkoal: “Torkoal!”

Flannery: “Breakfast is served, my darlings. Enjoy your meal!”

Vulpix: “Piiix!”

Torkoal: “Torkooooal!”

 

Without further ado, Flannery and her Pokemon started to savor their meals. There was enough to satiate them. They all ate and drank without worrying about what was awaiting them today. Then, as Flannery was emptying her cup and her plate, she asked herself and made the summary of what she did as well as what she was exposed to yesterday.

 

fx0clFl.png

 

Flannery: (Well. Yesterday was one hell of a day, to say the least. Between that train accident near the station, the unexpected encounter with Dounia, the rescue of Torkoal and Vulpix, plus my registration for the League, there was a lot of things that had happened in one day! And besides, I’m still wondering if Jacques couldn’t have managed to make it out in the end. Hm… Jacques. All this story is kind of strange, when I think about it. We were all together in the same wagon, then shortly before the accident occurred, he left, and I didn’t see him again. It’s as if he knew in advance what was going to… no. No, this can’t be possible… this can’t be possible at all. Maybe that was just a coincidence. Hm… something doesn’t fit with my thought on this matter. I should go up and see if Ame can’t tell me more about this report from last night.)

 

While Torkoal and Vulpix had their heads nestled into their bowls, Flannery began to find herself in total confusion. The more she tried to seek a rational explanation to the potential survival of Jacques, the more she felt worried. She needed some clarification to disperse the fog that was surrounding this case concerning him. Once her Pokemon were fully satiated, Flannery made them return to their respective Pokeballs. Then, without further delay, she stood up from the couch, left the table, and walked up to the stairs at the back of the room to reach the ground floor. But unfortunately for her, Ame was nowhere to be found in the Grand Hall. Only a few staff members were standing next to the counter of the main office. The firehead felt a little dejected by it, she wanted to find out more about the fate of the victims of the accident. Out of curiosity, she asked one of the employees to know where Ame could have gone. They replied to her by saying that she went out to reexamine the accident scene, accompanied by several policemen. They said she would come back within the hour. But Flannery wasn’t the type of person to stand around idle and passive. She wanted to make good use of this time span that was allocated to her. This is why she headed towards the exit door, left the Grand Hall and decided to initiate the rehabilitation of Vulpix by challenging some trainers on the Opal Bridge until Ame comes back. But as soon as Flannery came out, the mere sight of the brownish waters of the lake that was surrounding the city was enough to cut off the major part of her dynamism.

 

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Flannery: “*sigh* This lake… look at this lake! I wonder how people in Reborn managed to come to that. That’s just too damn depressing. I’ve never felt so disillusioned since the day I witnessed the death of the Mt. Chimney. How can we remain indifferent to such a soulless sight? All this is beyond me. I sincerely hope that I’ll be able to return to Hoenn someday.”

 

Flannery was homesick. For a few seconds, she felt like she was punished for having turned back on her duty as a Gym Leader in exchange of more freedom. But it was too late to regret anything. She had to move forward and deal with what she had left. As she regained awareness of her current situation, she raised her head and went down the stairs leading to the Grand Hall with a more spirited mind, making her way to the western part of the Opal Bridge. Just like Julia told her when she first arrived in Reborn, this bridge was very frequented by the local trainers. The redhead then assumed that she had to prove her worth to them. But once she reached the foot of the large stairway, she got interrupted quickly in her run by a little black boy in casual red clothes. A keeper of the bridge.

 

crSTiat.png

 

Youngster: “Hey! You there! You’re not allowed to pass here! Go away!”

 

This cold reception did not seem to please Flannery a lot. She asked him the following question in a fractious tone.

 

Flannery: “How’s that ‘I’m not allowed to pass here’? What’s so special with this place? And who are you to tell me what to do?”

Youngster: “This place behind me is the Opal Bridge, a meeting point for the trainers of the neighboring districts. I’ve never seen you around and there’s no place for visitors out there. Now be nice and get out of here!”

 

But none of this happened. Instead of it, Flannery simply pulled her trainer card out of her pocket and brandished it briskly in front of the brash boy.

 

Flannery: “All right, so how about this? Can you tell me what that is?”

Youngster: “Uuuuuh...”

Flannery: “Did you really think I’ve come all this way just for the sake of visiting?! I’m here to take on the Reborn League!”

Youngster: “Hm… well. Maybe I misjudged you in the end. But you’ll know soon enough that here more than anywhere else, average trainers never last very long. We have no time nor interest to fight against the weak on the Opal Bridge.”

 

As soon as the youngster said these words to Flannery, the blazing woman seized one of her Pokeballs, imbued with devouring determination. She was ready to send Vulpix into battle.

 

Flannery: “Don’t worry about that, kid. I have the means to prove you that I’m not one of them.”

Youngster: “Okay, I accept your challenge! Come to me, I’m waiting for you!”

 

The two trainers threw their own Pokeballs in the air. A battle was about to start. The Pokemon of the challengers both took shape at the same time next to the foot of the Opal Bridge. Flannery’s Vulpix was going to face a Bellsprout. Obviously, because of the advantage of Fire Type against plant-based Pokemon, it didn’t take more than one round for the little vixen to defeat her adversary and trigger the win in favor of the gorgeous firehead. The fight ended almost as soon as it started without any surprise on Flannery’s side. The same, however, couldn’t be said for the other challenger who was staring at the fuming body of Bellsprout with astonishment.

 

Wg032Mp.png

 

Flannery: “Game over. Did you need something else?”

 

Flannery’s opponent was actually shocked by this unbalance of power. Disgusted and flabbergasted by such an amount of strength, he swallowed his pride, called back his Pokemon, and stepped back to the wall side while Flannery did the same with Vulpix after she stroked her on the crest.

 

Youngster: “Okay, so… fine. You can pass. Please, don’t hesitate to behave as if you never saw me. I’m not gonna bother you anymore.”

Flannery: “Thanks. That was a good battle. Keep at it, you’ll do better next time.”

Youngster: “Yeah. Maybe.”

 

Thus, Flannery climbed up the stairs of the Opal Bridge, waving at the boy behind her without turning back. Despite her victory, the last remarks of the redhead towards him were tinged with subtle irony. Actually, Flannery had some mixed feelings about this battle. She, who expected a minimum of resistance from the part of her adversary, felt somewhat annoyed by his lack of tonicity. And this annoyance was going to be even more prominent as Flannery continued to chain confrontations of the same level farther along the bridge. Even with the considerable power loss of Vulpix and Torkoal, she could beat anyone almost instantly without spending too much effort in it. All this unpleasantly reminded her of the last battles she used to hold in her gym in Lavaridge Town some days ago.

 

Flannery: (*sigh* Seriously, is that everything this town is made of? I’ve come a long way for a challenge. But where is the challenge when nobody knows how to fight properly?! I know I shouldn’t play too hard because of what happened to Vulpix and Torkoal. But really… so much disinterestedness is almost offensive to me. I wonder if this kid I’ve met earlier didn’t simply lie to my face in the end.)

 

Frustration began to mingle with the thoughts of the young fire girl. But after she realized that there might be advantages to carry out easy battles in the current circumstances, she calmed down and tried to relativize. Her thirst for epic fighting shouldn’t blind her to what was really essential to her and her teammates.

 

Flannery: (Hm… On the other hand, that would be silly of me to complain for so few. Combats may be painless here, I suppose that’s still the best option for helping my Pokemon to regain their true power. After all, it would be a shame to waste two years of undisputed success simply because I was too pretentious, right? *Sigh* What a fool I am!)

 

Then, in a solemn moment, she closed her eyes and bent her head forward with one hand on her heart, as if she was praying on the top of the bridge.

 

Flannery: (Grandpa… please forgive me… I… I apologize for having given in to my temerity. For having thought all of this. For having tried to be someone I’m not. I… I will continue to respect your precepts till the end. For the well-being of me and all my companions. I’ll make it so. I promise. I must… be myself.)

 

Humility and self-discipline were two values that Flannery’s grandfather had long tried to instill in her in the past. According to him, it was probably the hardest lesson to teach his granddaughter. Indeed, it wasn’t rare at all for the latter to lose sight of those fundamentals principles and get carried away by the impetuosity of her senses, especially in moments of rage and high anxiety. Then, Flannery finished her prayer. Not wishing to be too demanding of herself, she acted wisely and temporarily put aside her delusions of grandeur to keep a more moderate pace of training for her and her Pokemon. Thus, she continued to move forward on the big structure overlooking the Grand Hall, more reasoned and serene than before. Up there, she fought against some other trainers to expedite the rehabilitation of Vulpix. She tried her best to maintain this harmony between humbleness and obstinacy. But suddenly, as Flannery was ending a battle against another trainer of the bridge, her attention was immediately caught by the sound of a cracking whip that was echoing farther away.

 

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Flannery: “Heh?! What was that?”

 

The sound kept repeating itself several times in an irregular way. By focusing more on it, Flannery could also hear swearing and distress calls of Pokemon. The noise came from the other side of the bridge.

 

???: “…pathetic… …useless… …told you… …raaaah…”

???: “…zigzag… …zig… …zzzi…”

 

The cries of the Pokemon became weaker and weaker, but the crack of the whip didn’t stop. Something wrong was going on nearby. Fortunately, Flannery’s sense of hearing was flawless. She quickly noticed that something was amiss. The last words she could identify weren’t reassuring to her though.

 

???: “…zgi… …gzag… …ag… …gg…”

???: “…authority… …good for nothing… …teach you a lesson… …into the lake…”

Flannery: “What’s happening again? It seems like there’s movement out there. I’d better hurry, that sounds bad!”

 

This agitation had awakened a bad feeling in the spirit of the redhead. Without further ado, she rushed up to the eastern area of the bridge, fearing the worst. And sadly, her fear was soon be proven right. Once on site, what she saw there hit her like a bombshell. Three boys in a corner of the bridge were actually brutalizing a defenseless Zigzagoon.

 

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Zigzagoon: “…ag… …ig… …zzi… …zag…”

Thug 1: “So you refuse to obey me, that’s it? Hang on a second. We’re not finished with you yet, my friend!”

Flannery: (*gasp* Oh God! What the hell is going on here?!)

 

While she just arrived, Flannery could barely speak. A blond man, followed by his stooges, was hitting the helpless Pokemon with his belt because it disobeyed him. Too weak to fight back, Zigzagoon took the blows, surrounded by his aggressors. Fortunately, just before the cruel torturer could do more harm to the Raccoon Pokemon, Flannery intervened.

 

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Flannery: “Hey, you there!”

Thugs 1 & 2 & 3: “!!!”

 

The group of boys turned towards the upset redhead. The ex-Gym Leader ordered them to leave the poor Pokemon alone.

 

Flannery: “Yes, you! I’m talking to you! You’d better stop harassing this Zigzagoon right now! If you don’t, you’ll have deal with me too!”

 

These words were enough to draw the attention of the ill-intentioned trio. While the boys were staring at Flannery, they progressively made the link between her and the girl who was accompanying Julia yesterday. The exchange that was about to come was going to be very tense.

 

Thug 1: “So… what do we have here this time?”

Thug 2: “Wait a minute, bro! I think I’ve already seen that face somewhere before.”

Thug 1: “Oh, really?”

Thug 3: “Yes, me too! She was in the street the other day. A weird punk with a firework-like haircut.”

Thug 1: “What? Oh yeah, that’s true! Thank you guys for reminding me!”

 

During this time, Flannery watched the three scoundrels silently without batting an eyelid. Also, she noticed that the boys she had in front of her perfectly matched the description she got from Dounia when the latter had explained her how she had rescued and found back Vulpix in the street. Except this time, the man who was attacked by Vulpix was wearing a blue jacket and had a burn scar above the nose, probably due to the Fire move unleashed by Vulpix.

 

Thug 1: “Yes, I remember you. You are the one who was roaming around with the Peridot Gym Leader yesterday in the afternoon.”

Flannery: “Correct!”

Thug 1: “I should have known.”

 

Flannery’s blood began to boil as the vile individuals were about to taunt the audacious firehead.

 

Thug 1: “Well. So… why did you come here? You’d better answer now, I hate when people interfere with my business.”

Flannery: “What? You yell at stray Pokemon and treat them like trash. And you dare call it a ‘business’?! This is gratuitous violence, you mean!”

Thug 2: “Do you have some hearing problems or is that in your habits of not answering questions? My bro asked you why you came to us. Answer him!”

Flannery: “Why did I come to you, you said? I was on the Opal Bridge to train my team, to compete with people around in order to prepare myself for the Reborn League. And what do I hear from the other side of the bridge? A Pokemon who screams in agony because it’s beat to death with a belt by three retards. This is to put an end to these atrocities that I came to you.”

Thug 1: “I see, I see. So, if I understood correctly, you want us, the retards, to stop hazing this useless cripple. Is that what you came for?”

Thug 3: “Pffff. Here we go again. Another namby-pamby activist who’s come to do her preaching about how to treat Pokemon in Reborn.”

 

While the situation was about to flare up again, Zigzagoon regained consciousness little by little and listened to the conversation closely. By chance, with the exception of two marks on his face, his wounds were only superficial. He got back on his paws and stealthily approached the gang leader who was in the middle of a clash with Flannery.

 

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Thug 1: “What we do with this midget doesn’t concern you. As far as I can see, you’re not a cop, so find yourself something better to do. Plus, we don’t have much love for foreigners. So be nice, and back off.”

Flannery: “Excuse me? For your information, nobody needs to be a cop to serve justice. And sorry if I contradict you, but what you do with this Zigzagoon is part of my concerns too. There’s nothing that could justify mistreatment. This is a crime, and all crimes must be reported and punished.”

Thug 1: “Yes, so what? What are you going to do now? You’ll punch me in the face because I was being too strict to command his respect?”

Flannery: “Respect isn’t commanded, it’s earned. And to be respected, you must be respectable first. The word ‘strictness’ does not seem to have the same meaning for you and me, pal.”

Thug 3: “Woohoo! It’s firing live ammunition here!”

Thug 2: “Don’t say that! I don’t want you to give them any ideas, huhuhu.”

Thug 3: “Lol!”

Thug 1: “Tsss. Stop making a fool of yourself, girl. You know nothing about me.”

 

But even before this face-to-face could be taken any further, as everybody was focused on the discussion, Zigzagoon dashed towards the hands of his torturer at full speed.

 

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Zigzagoon: “Zigzagooooooon!”

Flannery: “*gasp*!!!”

Thugs 2 & 3: “Huh?!”

Thug 1: “What?!”

Zigzagoon: “*chomp*”

 

Even before Flannery and the boys could realize what was happening, Zigzagoon took the blond guy by surprise and snatched the belt out of his hands. Too terrified to look back, the Pokemon fled.

 

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Thug 1: “HEY, YOU! COME BACK HERE! GIVE THIS BELT BACK TO ME RIGHT NOW, YOU FILTHY TRASH!”

 

But nothing happened. The scared Pokemon ignored orders. Endowed with extraordinary speed for a normal Zigzagoon, he rushed down the stairs in only a few seconds while his aggressor saw him fleeing from the top of the bridge in anger.

 

Thug 1: “IF I EVER CATCH YOU, I SWEAR I’LL FUCKING WRECK YOU!!!”

Flannery: (Don’t even think you can, dude!)

 

The man released his rage at the top of his lungs, frustrated and overtaken by this reversal of situation. But he also was way too preoccupied by Flannery’s presence to start a chase across the city. The valiant damsel was ready to deal with him and used this opportunity to trigger him in turn.

 

Flannery: “And you, what are you going to do now? Settling your scores like a man, or chasing a Pokemon who has no will to fight?”

 

This question immediately caught the attention of the young man who sourly turned toward the redhead. Without further delay, he rejoined her, surrounded by his cohorts.

 

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Thug 1: “Should I understand by this that you have scores to settle with me? If so, I’m your man. You and I can still play this little game for a long time, if that’s what you want.”

Thugs 2 & 3: “Huhuhuhuhuhu.”

Flannery: “Rrrrrh!”

 

The sardonic attitude of the impertinent trio did not cease to consume Flannery from the inside out. For her, there was nothing worse than seeing someone refusing to admit his wrongdoing.

 

Thug 1: “You know what? You remind me a lot of this little girl I’ve met yesterday. A kid with candy-pink hair. She pretended to act like an avenger. You know, the type of person who loves deciding what’s right and wrong.”

Flannery: “Because you think it’s right to use violence to be heard? That it’s necessary to be vile and cruel to make a name for oneself? Is that what you believe in?”

Thug 1: “Yes, I do. And I maintain my position on it. If you think otherwise, that means you know nothing about real, everyday life. This whole world we live in has nothing to do with a living fairytale. It’s cold and merciless. You just have to look around to figure it out.”

Flannery: “What do you mean by that?”

Thug 1: “The truth that everyone refutes. If man can dominate and bend the world to his will, so it did not come possible by chance. He must use this opportunity to benefit the best possible advantages. This is why we exist. Everything belongs by right to humans. Everything must contribute to indulge his self-centered satisfaction and amusement. He has means to do so. If you reject this concept, so you condemn yourself to remain a weak link in the food chain. Many people in town refuse to admit it. They’re just good for waiting the day when all that is dear to them will be wiped out before their eyes.”

Thug 2: “POPOPOOOOOO!!! WELL SAID MY BRO!!!!”

Thug 3: “BAM!!! TAKE THAT IN YOUR FACE, BITCH!!!!”

Flannery: (I’ve never heard such absurd, meaningless rubbish in my whole life. This does not justify uncivilized behavior in any way. Why are these people so mean?)

Thug 1: “May Arceus have mercy on you and your naive soul.”

Flannery: (Those words… it’s as if I was hearing my father talking in front of me. How can we be so full of disregard? This is not fair… This is not fair…)

Thugs 2 & 3: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

Flannery: (This is… not… fair.)

 

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Flannery was in a vulnerable situation. She didn’t know what to answer and felt like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Without knowing it, she was getting mistreated in turn. Not physically, but psychologically.

 

Thug 1: “Now you know. There are no neutral people in Reborn. There never was one. Just the dominants, and the dominated. As for this girl I was talking about earlier… Well, let’s say that fate was surprisingly kind to her. She escaped us. Yet we had all the elements in hands to make her pay for her insolence against us. But at least, this Vulpix got what it deserved.”

Flannery: “What!? A… a Vulpix?!”

Thug 1: “Absolutely, a Vulpix!”

 

Flannery suddenly exclaimed as the man in front of her was about to mention his misadventures with Vulpix. The redhead then paid close attention to the twist of this conversation.

 

Thug 1: “This wild animal was one hell of a troublemaker. Disobedient, unruly. Kind of like this Zigzagoon you saw some minutes ago. Also… oh, whatever. There’s no need to tell you the rest of the story.”

Flannery: “What is the rest of the story? What did you do next? Speak!”

Thug 1: “Do you really want to know? Fine. I broke her. I’ve made sure she could not use any other move again. For example, the jaw she now has will no longer allow her to spit fire.”

Flannery: “…”

Thug 1: “After that, we never saw her again, and this for our greatest delight. Right, guys?”

Thug 2: “Yes, bro!”

Thug 3: “For sure, bro!”

 

A strange sensation took possession of Flannery as the three scoundrels thought they were done with Vulpix. Her discomfort faded away to make room for a subtle mix of maliciousness and silent contentment. Flannery lowered the eyes and smirked nervously.

 

Flannery: “*giggle*”

Thug 1: “Hm? Why are you laughing?”

Thug 2: “She’s weird, don’t you think?”

Thug 3: “I agree! And without knowing why, this doesn’t reassure me that much!”

Thug 2: “For real? What do you think we should worry about?”

Flannery: “*giggle* Hahahaha!”

Thug 1: “Come on, babe. Tell me what’s so funny. I’ll see if it makes me laugh too.”

 

Flannery regained her composure softly and uttered the following words to her enemies.

 

Flannery: “*sigh* Sorry. I’ve got a little emotional these days. It’s just that… um…”

Thug 1: “Hm, yes?”

Flannery: “It’s just that… despite everything you said to me… I believe you.”

Thug 1: “…Was that all? Is that the only cause of your hilarity?”

Flannery: “Pffuh! Not at all! In fact, I believe you, because everything you told me…”

Thug 1: “…”

Thugs 2 & 3: “…”

Flannery: “…I knew it already.”

Thug 1: “What?! But…”

Flannery: “And this same Vulpix…”

Thug 2: “Oh no!”

Flannery: “…you abused and treated like trash…”

Thug 3: “I don’t like it at all, guys!”

Flannery: “…YOU’RE GONNA EXPLAIN YOURSELF TO HER NOW!”

 

In a show of wrath and passionate impetuousness, Flannery grabbed Vulpix Pokeball with one quick motion of the arm, unhooked it from her belt, and sent it high in the sky to make the Fox Pokemon appear beside her. Dread immediately spread across the face of the bad guys who stepped back. None of them expected to see Vulpix again in full health. Furthermore, none of them even knew that this Pokemon belonged to someone, which made the surprise effect even more impressive. As for Vulpix herself, she recognized her assailants as soon as she saw them. She felt agitated and peeved just by looking at them.

 

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Vulpix: “VULPIIIIIIIIX!!!”

Thugs 2 & 3: “AAAH!!”

Flannery: “Steady Vulpix, steady! I’m here at your side!”

Vulpix: “Pix?”

 

Realizing she wasn’t alone anymore, Vulpix calmed down and moved closer to her mistress. Flannery could finally handle her conflict settlement as she wanted.

 

Flannery: “I suppose this is THIS Vulpix you hinted at, didn’t you? She has a master! Me!”

Vulpix: “Vulpix!”

Thug 1: “This little creep… How is that possible?”

Flannery: “So? What does it feel like to meet the same Pokemon you’ve hurt yesterday afternoon at the top of her form again?”

Thug 2: “Shit, bro! Why did it have to come to this?”

Thug 3: “We’re all screwed, I told you!”

Thug 1: “Stay back, guys! I’ve got everything under control.”

Thug 2: “Uhh… you’re sure you…”

Thug 1: “I said: ‘I’ve got everything under control.’!”

Thug 2: “Hm. Okay. But be careful. This story doesn’t amuse me much anymore.”

Thug 1: “Chill out, guys. I know what I’m doing.”

 

The leader of the gang ordered his companions to stay behind before to continue the discussion with Flannery about the Fire Pokemon. With Vulpix and Torkoal on her side, Flannery was holding all the aces to make the tide turning in her favor.

 

Thug 1: “You! How did you know in advance what I did to your Pokemon? Who told you about that? Answer me!”

Flannery: “You’re not in a position to ask me anything anymore. Plus, that would be too long to explain, and I clearly have other things to do with my time today.”

Vulpix: “Piiiix!”

Thug 1: “You fucking…”

 

In the heat of the moment, Flannery interrupted the young man, giving him the ‘not so fast finger’ before he could pronounce another curse.

 

Flannery: “That being said, I don’t want revenge. And it’s never too late for you to redeem yourself for bad behavior, you know. Of course, this won’t repair the errors you committed, but I’m sure Vulpix will appreciate a lot if you did.”

Thug 1: “You have something in mind, haven’t you? What do you want from me? Spit it out!”

Flannery: “One word. Say it, and I’ll arrange for you to soften your penalty when you’ll be dragged through the authorities in the Grand Hall, you and your little friends.”

Thug 1: “No, really?! And what is that word you want me to say?”

Flannery: “’Sorry’.”

 

As strange as it may seem, Flannery was ready to temporarily put aside her differences, provided that the man in front of her accepted to recognize his wrongdoing and apologize to Vulpix. Meanwhile, the Fox Pokemon waited patiently for a response, standing next to her dear trainer.

 

Thug 1: “Okay. So… you want me to apologize. That’s what you want from me?”

Flannery: “Yes, I insist!”

Vulpix: “Piiiiix!”

 

But what she was about to hear was far different from what she expected.

 

Thug 1: “Oh, if you insist…”

Flannery: “…”

Vulpix: “…”

Thug 1: “…What the hell are you thinking?! Go to hell, I’ve nothing to tell you! I have no apology for this trash who set fire to me and my jacket! And I refuse to surrender! Now fuck off! I’ve seen enough of you!”

Thug 3: (Oh my God! What’s the matter with you, bro?)

Thug 2: (Bro… are you serious?)

 

Nobody was talking anymore. Only the sound of the waves splashing against the foundations of the bridge could be heard. The blond-haired boy remained firm in his position, and refused to recognize his faults. For him, the call of resentment was stronger than the voice of reason. Vulpix understood well what was happening, and felt sadness coming up. But Flannery didn’t want to see her teammate getting overwhelmed by the despicable words of the young man. She kneeled beside the Pokemon, stroke her at the crest and whispered sweet words to her.

 

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Flannery: “Don’t let it get to you, Vulpix. You’re not what he said. You’re not a trash. You’re… you’re…”

Vulpix: “*snif*…p-pix…”

Flannery: “…you’re… you’re my treasure… and I will never let anyone tell you otherwise… you heard me… never!”

Vulpix: “…pix…”

 

Flannery managed to prevent Vulpix from being demoralized. After she kissed her on the forehead, she made her return to her Pokeball and whispered some additional words to her as she covered her mouth with Vulpix Pokeball.

 

Flannery: “You’ll finally have the justice you deserve!”

Thug 2: “Huh? What is she doing?”

Thug 3: “She talks to her Pokeball.”

Thug 1: “Wow. I didn’t know you had the mind of a child. I now realize that I was dealing with a wimp from the beginning. Seriously, talking to your Pokeball… How old are you? Grow up, girl! You’re so disappoin… hey! Why are you looking at me like that?!”

 

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But this time, that was one provocation too many for Flannery. Tired of this dark comedy, the redhead got a rush of blood. Her eyes were injected with flames, fuelled by nothing but wrath, hatred and desire for vengeance. She moved towards the blond guy in a slow and intimidating gesture.

 

Thug 2: “Uh… bro? I think we need to go somewhere else.”

Thug 3: “Me too. All this story makes me sick to my stomach as we’re staying here.”

Thug 1: “Are you afraid of facing reality with me, comrades?”

Thug 3: “What? But… What is it supposed to bring us at this point? After all, she just asked for one apology.”

Thug 2: “You’re not yourself anymore, bro. We should better stop now. I have a bad feeling about this.”

Thug 1: “You…”

 

The Pokemon persecutor didn’t move an inch as Flannery was getting closer and closer to him, the eyes on fire and the fists clenched.

 

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Thug 1: “You, there! You want me? Come and get me!”

Flannery: “Rrrrr!”

Thug 1: “I warn you, I’m not gonna back off! You don’t scare me at all!”

Flannery: “Grrrrrrrr!”

Thug 1: “I’m not afraid of you!”

Flannery: “Grrrrrrrr!”

Thug 1: “I’m not afraid of you!”

Flannery: “GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!”

Thug 1: “I’m not… afraid… of…”

Flannery: “...”

Thug 1: “...you.”

 

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But it was too late to run away. Flannery stopped right in front of the provocative boy. He could himself feel the temperature soaring around him, but tried his best to not let any emotion appear. Anything could have happened in the next few seconds. And then, while the suspense was at its highest point, the beautiful and dangerous redhead said the following sentence.

 

Flannery: “There must be thousand reasons why I shouldn’t crush your head.”

Thug 1: “…”

Thugs 2 & 3: “…”

Flannery: “But I can’t see any.”

 

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At the most unexpected moment, Flannery lashed out suddenly. In her most ultimate rage, she threw a powerful punch in the face of the arrogant torturer. All the hatred and all the malevolence the redhead was forced to accumulate since her arrival in Reborn had gone off in her act in the form of one devastating shock wave. So devastating that it made the souls of the rest of the band shaking, as well as the souls of all the citizens who were standing nearby. The violence of the shock was so huge that both the jaw and the nose of her enemy had imploded under the only blow struck by the firehead. For her, this applied force was like a return to sender. A price to pay for having make innocent Pokemon suffering in town. The fist of justice!

 

Thug 3: (Oh my God! This strength… she must have certainly managed to crush his skull indeed! For a moment, I felt like she punched me as well! That’s fucking insane!)

Thug 2: (Holy cow! What the hell is going on with that chick?!? My heart’s racing like never before! I think I would have much preferred to get hit by a truck rather than taking such a punch!)

Flannery: “This masquerade… is over!”

 

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Flannery looked breathless and febrile beside the wicked man who was laying down on the ground with crooked teeth. His face was all swollen. After she regained her sanity back, she gave an evil eye at the street rat and the youngster without blinking. The two boys shivered with terror as they looked back at the firehead. Then, a few seconds of silence later, she told them the following words.

 

Flannery: “I won’t punish you. I think you learned your lesson.”

 

The two guys didn’t move at all in fear of offending the susceptibility of the redhead. Then, without warning, Flannery turned heels to the West.

 

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Flannery: “The fate of this man belongs to you now. You can do whatever you want with him, I don’t care. Just don’t ever get in my way again. And if I ever catch you harassing anyone, whether you’re in town or anywhere else…”

Thugs 2 & 3: “*gulp*”

Flannery: “…you know what will happen to you next. Well, I got to go. I have more important things to do. Farwell!”

 

In a moment of unforeseen magnanimity, Flannery left the scene without turning back, sparing the other members of the gang in the process. There was no reason for her to stay anymore. She did what she had to do. Then, as the ambassador of Hoenn was moving away, the blond man opened his eyes slightly and progressively. He was gasping feebly, the head facing the paved floor, unable to move. The shock had stunned him so much that when he tried to speak, he sounded like a sleeping zombie.

 

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Thug 1: “Huuuuuuuuuu…”

Thug 2: “B-bro? Are you okay?”

Thug 1: “Huuuuu…”

Thug 3: “Damn! You’re in pretty bad shape, man. You gave us quite a scare, you know. This time, I really believed you were going to… uh… bro?”

Thug 1: “…”

Thug 2: “Hey, bro! Can you hear us?”

Thug 1: “…”

Thug 2: “Speak! Say something!”

Thug 1: “…”

Thug 3: “Oh, no!”

 

But there was no response. Whereas the young man had just regained consciousness for a short time, he fainted again under the eyes of his concerned friends. An evil wind was blowing on them while Flannery was heading back to the Grand Hall to change her mind. She felt somewhat troubled by this incident and the way she lost control of herself.

 

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Flannery: (*sigh* What have I done? That’s just crazy! I can’t remember the last time I was push to such a point of break like this. Dounia was right about those guys. No matter how hard I tried, there was no way to get anything constructive from a conversation with them. And the way this dude behaved with Vulpix when I asked him to apologize… what he said to her… that was unforgivable, I couldn’t let him go after that. He insulted my Pokemon. He insulted me! And yet, even after what I’ve done, I’m still not at peace with myself. Please, grandpa. Get me out of here!)

 

Inside of her, Flannery had difficulty to distance herself from this sordid case. She felt hurt and mentally trapped by the vicious gang. It was as if she came to realize she unconsciously gave them what they expected from her: responding to violence with more violence. But it was too late to erase the traces left by her indignation, Flannery had to bear the consequences of her actions till the end, even though it wasn’t an easy task to handle. Her uneasiness kept following her to the stairway of the Opal Bridge, then vanished when she went down the steps in slow motion. But as she did, she saw two men in uniform waving at her from downstairs: the policemen she met yesterday in Peridot Ward. Without wasting time, Flannery hurried to rejoin them. They looked like they wanted to say some brief words to her.

 

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Flannery: “Good morning sirs! How can I help you?”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Policeman 1: “Nice to see you again, Madam Ambassador! We were just talking about you!”

Policeman 2: “Good morning, Miss Moore! Yes, you couldn’t have come at a better time. The boss of the Grand Hall would like to speak with you. She’s waiting for you inside.”

Flannery: “Wait… Ame is back?”

Policeman 1: “Absolutely! While you were gone, she went to Grandview Station to examine the scene of the crash by herself. One half of Opal Ward police forces has been requisitioned to escort her and ensure her security. On the same occasion, the Chief in Jasper Ward has ordered some of us to be present too. We may belong to different police units, it’s still the entire town that is affected by this disaster.”

Flannery: “Yes, I do understand. And… what did you find out there?”

Policeman 2: “We would have gladly shared what we know with you, madam. Alas, we vowed to keep silent about some details in public spaces. You should go to the Grand Hall as soon as possible. Ame wants to provide you some specifics on this affair in private.”

Flannery: “Very well! In that case, I’m heading to the Grand Hall right now! That’s where I intended to go anyway. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!”

Policeman 2: “Pleasure is ours, madam!”

 

Thus, on the advice of the two police officers, Flannery rushed up to the Grand Hall at full speed. She was finally going to get more information about the accident in the station. But while she made her way to the big black building, the two men in uniform glanced at each other with concern. One of them seemed worried about something.

 

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Policeman 2: “Colleague… I got to know. What do you think was this big ‘BOOM’ that shook the city earlier?”

Policeman 1: “I can’t tell. But whatever it was, I heard it too! Those weird vibes are still resonating inside of me as we speak!”

Policeman 2: “This noise… that was so weird. It was as if someone had triggered a mini-nuke or something like that. But this time, I don’t see any smoke plume on the horizon. I wonder what it could have been.”

Policeman 1: “Hm… maybe we should have questioned the ambassador.”

Policeman 2: “Probably. But hey, I think it’s a little late now. That being said… it would not surprise me if she actually knew anything about it.”

Policeman 1: “Ha? Do you think she could have something to do with this explosive noise?”

Policeman 2: “That’s a possibility. But… I don’t know. I’m not certain of that. Well, whatever. The sound came from the top of this bridge. We should go check it out, just to make sure that nothing wrong had happened up there.”

Policeman 1: “I agree. Let’s find out together, colleague!”

Policeman 2: “For sure, colleague!”

 

And so they did. Out of curiosity, the two investigators climbed up the stairs of the Opal Bridge in hope of identifying the impact noise caused by Flannery during her recent and tumultuous conflict settlement. For her part, the pretty redhead went back to the Grand Hall to discover the details of the much-awaited report. She seemed eager and impatient to know more about this accident.

 

Fqe3rTF.png

 

Flannery: “Finally! Perhaps we’ll get more information concerning this investigation in the station in the end! If Ame sends policemen looking for me in town, so that must be really important! Lord, please tell me there are people alive!”

 

The heart burning at the idea of hearing something positive from this report, Flannery run up to the entrance of the Grand Hall and pushed the doors in her haste, so she could rejoin Ame who was waiting patiently next to main office. The tension was high, the ex-Gym Leader was standing in front of the Reborn Champion. Flannery was ready to be informed.

 

axHEGdV.png

 

Ame: “Ah, Flannery! You’re here! How are you doing?”

Flannery: “Hello Ame! I’m doing fine! I did some training on the bridge behind the Grand Hall. Since you had things to do this morning, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to gain some experience.”

Ame: “And you were right to do so! I mean… that was certainly the best thing to do while I was gone! Also, I would like to apologize for not warning you in the first place. You were sleeping so deep that I didn’t want to wake you up.”

Flannery: “That’s okay, staff members already told me about it. In all cases, I knew you’d eventually show up to discuss the yesterday’s report with me. A couple of police officers also accosted me earlier. They said you went to the railway station this morning. So, did you find something out? What’s the news?”

Ame: “Um…”

 

Flannery didn’t take her eyes off Ame. Her gaze was unflinchingly fixed on the lips of the Champion. She was waiting nervously for the latest information on this case to be revealed. However, the white-haired woman seemed to be less quiet than usual. The final outcome of this report was about to come in.

 

i9K4hsM.png

 

Ame: “Well, I suppose there is no point in trying to hide anything from you, right? Shortly after I let you in your room last night, I went to meet the officer who was in charge of the investigation, as well as a few of his men. They said that, despite all the efforts spent to clear away the rubble and find people who were still alive, unfortunately, the number of survivors is… hm… uh…”

Flannery: “…”

Ame: “…zero.”

Flannery: “Oh.”

 

Flannery’s eagerness declined suddenly when she discovered the dramatic rate of survivors. None of the passengers could be saved. The heart of the redhead became flooded by silent sorrow as Ame kept providing further revelations to her.

 

NvDbmjl.png

 

Ame: “When I heard this, I felt terribly upset, although I didn’t really expect anything reassuring to come from such a misery at this time. This announcement got stuck in my head for hours and kept haunting me all night long. I was thinking that I couldn’t content myself only with what I heard, which is why I decided to return there this morning to put my mind at ease. Several policemen of various districts have come and accompanied me, as well as the best orderlies of the Grand Hall.”

Flannery: “And? What did you see there?”

Ame: “Um… that’s hard to admit, but the facts were as they were disclosed to me last night. The police had managed to remove most of the debris that were lying in and out of the station. But the rest was absolutely horrible to see. There had to be at least fifty lifeless bodies that were pulled out of the train. The damage was so considerable that we could not identify the victims properly.”

Flannery: “This is terrible! I don’t dare imagine what it must feel like for their families.”

Ame: “You’d better not think about it. All these deaths, these shattered dreams and various projects that have gone up in smoke… there’s no word to describe the scale of such a tragedy.”

Flannery: “*sigh* I believe you.”

 

The poor redhead was depressed by the overall result of the accident. It only took a few words to wipe out all forms of hope in her mind. But as Flannery’s moral was lowering drastically, Ame still had one additional thing to reveal to the caring damsel.

 

Ame: “That being said, there’s something else that I would like to mention in your presence, Flannery. Something that caught my attention and that I still can’t explain. I figured it out when I was on site this morning.”

Flannery: “What do you mean? Is there something else you want to let me know? What is it about?”

Ame: “It’s about Jacques!”

Flannery: “*gasp*!!!”

 

Flannery raised her head rapidly as soon as Ame quoted the name of the Reserve Gym Leader. Obviously, such a sudden reaction did not fail to startle the Champion.

 

qeT2T9H.png

 

Ame: “Wow! You’re surprised, Flannery?”

Flannery: “Uuh… yes. Yes, I am. To be honest, I actually was hoping that you had something to say about him. Because in my mind, I didn’t know if he was dead or alive.”

Ame: “Hm, I see. Sorry to disappoint you, but… I still have no answer to this question. Well… at least, not officially.”

Flannery: “Why ‘Not officially’? Why do you say that?”

Ame: “Purely and simply because even after having scoured the wreckage of both the train and the station, no one has been able to identify a body similar to Jacques’ body.”

Flannery: “Really? The policemen didn’t find him yet?”

Ame: “No. They didn’t. Also, something struck me last night. It’s just a detail, but a detail we can’t afford to ignore anymore.”

Flannery: “What is it? Ame please, tell me everything!”

Ame: “I’ll tell you. In Reborn, all the Gym Leaders, wherever they go, are always carrying at least one duplicate of their respective badge on them. The same rule also applies to Reserve Gym Leaders. The thing is, I remember having seen Jacques carrying it when we left the hotel in Lilycove City together. Additionally, even in the heat of an explosion, Jacques’ badge is made of materials that can hardly be destroyed.”

Flannery: “Ah, okay! I think I understand! Do you know what this badge is made of?”

Ame: “If I’m not mistaken, it’s mainly made of chromium and carbon with gold-platinum engravings at its center. The type of trinket which can withstand very high temperatures, if you know what I mean. And despite a whole afternoon of search, no one was able to find the badge or a body of the size of Jacques. Though, admittedly, finding such a little thing in this mess is as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Flannery: “I don’t doubt it. But… if Jacques couldn’t be found among the passengers, so that means he wasn’t in a train at the time of the accident!”

Ame: “You got it! And yet, I highly doubt he was as lucky as you when Torkoal saved you. Which brings us to the following question: how did Jacques escape from the accident?”

Flannery: “That’s a good question, indeed. But even if he managed to get off the train in time, there’s another question that bothers me.”

Ame: “What is it? Express yourself, Flannery!”

Flannery: “If he survived… so why didn’t Jacques come back to the Grand Hall?”

 

Flannery and Ame were both in deep reflection. But the more they were trying to make assumptions, the more they clouded their minds.

 

Js1W0QU.png

 

Ame: “Hm… I don’t know. All this sounds a little fishy to me. In any case, the hypothesis that Jacques might be alive can no longer be put aside. And between you and me, I’m starting to wonder if he didn’t know in advance what was going to happen at our arrival.”

 

Then suddenly, in the middle of the discussion, Flannery turned pale with terror.

 

Flannery: “What… y-you… you think that… do you think that Jacques could have…”

Ame: “…betrayed us? Well, let’s say that it’s not impossible. But for the moment, I prefer not giving credence to this scenario until we find him back. Jacques may have joined the Reborn League one year ago, I barely knew him. He’s always been timid and distant, even with me. Therefore, I really don’t know what to think about it.”

 

Flannery’s throat was tightening, tortured by doubt and fear of being misled by the so-called ‘Reserve Gym Leader’. And yet, deep down, she still refused to believe that Jacques could be evil.

 

pwrbjFU.png

 

Flannery: “B-but… I don’t understand. He seemed like such a good person when we were together in the train yesterday. I can't bring myself to believe that he tried to kill us. You hear me? I can’t! Jacques is not a murderer!”

Ame: “I don’t know what to say, Flannery. Anyway, before seeking to understand why he didn’t come back, it’s probably best to find out how he managed to escape the accident first. Who knows? Maybe an answer will beget another one. And if so, maybe we’ll know more about his motives. Well… if he has any, of course.”

Flannery: “*sigh* You’re probably right. It sounds like I’ll have to keep an eye open on this case too in the end. I just hope that all this story is nothing but an improbable combination of circumstances.”

Ame: “Don’t bother with it! Remember, Flannery, you already have one mission to fulfill. Furthermore, I know Jacques was living with his grandmother in Beryl Ward. Even after the day of her death, he never left the house. If this section of the town wasn’t so rife with danger, I would have gladly allowed you to do some exploration out there. But in the end, I think I’ll just let the police unit of Beryl Ward take care of that. If Jacques is not there, so I really don’t know where he could have stuffed himself. And while we’re at it, I would like to maintain what I told you yesterday. Regardless of whether he’s dead, alive, or guilty, if Jacques doesn’t come back to the Grand Hall by 4PM tomorrow, his name will be irremediably removed from the list of the Reborn League members.”

Flannery: “Oh, hm… okay. If you say so. I do hope that the police will find him back before it’s too late.”

Ame: “I hope too, Flannery. By the way, now that I think of it, it will be hard for us to broadcast breaking news to the rest of the world with our current lack of means.”

Flannery: “How’s that? You mean… to inform families and victims’ relatives?”

Ame: “Yes, that’s what I mean! Because of our recent budget restrictions, all our channels of communication are in a pitiful state. We could always count on our postal services, but that would be ridiculous. It would take too long, and we don’t have enough Flying Pokemon to deliver newspapers and letters to everyone!”

 

All of a sudden, the last words pronounced by Ame revived the promise that Flannery made to Winona before her departure.

 

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Flannery: “Flying Pokemon… letters… *gasp* Oh my God! That completely slipped my mind!”

Ame: “What are you talking about, Flannery?”

Flannery: “Winona! I’ve promised to write to her on my arrival! With everything that has happened today and yesterday, I totally forgot to do it!”

Ame: “Oh, this! Don’t worry, it’s never too late to keep her informed. Also, I’m sure we do have some carrier Pokemon left to send her a message from you.”

Flannery: “Yes, that’s what you told me during the council yesterday. So… you’re using carrier Pokemon for mail delivery. That’s it?”

Ame: “Absolutely! Pelipper to be exact! They are the best Pokemon for this type of mission. Thanks to them, there’s no need to use public transport anymore. However, it requires an average of six hours before one of them could reach Hoenn. But hey… that shouldn’t be a problem to you, I guess.”

Flannery: “Nah, it’s not. As far as Winona knows that I arrived in Reborn and that I still remain in one piece, I’m good with that. She’s always been very protective of me, and I can’t afford to leave her with no news. She would be worried sick otherwise! Do you see what I mean?”

Ame: “Oh, sure I do! Plus, with our faulty channels of communication and Grandview Station out of service, we’re literally cut off from the outside world. Consequently, giving her a sign of life is without a doubt the least you can do at the present time.”

Flannery: “Excellent! Well, I’ll get on with it right away!”

Ame: “Great! You must have something to write in your chamber. Don’t hesitate to go there if necessary. You’ll find envelopes in the bookcase next to your desk. Once you’re done writing your letter, give it to me. I’ll make sure to send it to the person in charge of postal services after that.”

Flannery: “Thank you Ame! Thank you so much!”

Ame: “You’re welcome, Flannery!”

 

After she warmly thanked Ame for her sympathy and helpfulness, Flannery walked to the staircase leading to the lower floor. She went across the staff room and headed to her bedroom hastily. Once there, she sat behind her desk. There was a pen as well as an unused paper sheet on it. Without wasting time, she took the pen and started to meditate on what she was going to write.

 

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Flannery: “Let’s see… How can I formulate it?”

 

It was more complex than it seemed. Flannery had to choose her words wisely to not awaken a feeling of panic in the heart of the angelic damsel. She then decided to get to the essential by voluntarily obscuring everything that was related to the train accident and Jacques’ disappearance. After careful consideration, Flannery’s thoughts finally began to spread on the paper.

 

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This concluded Flannery’s message. Right after she signed the letter, she stood up and picked up one of the envelopes that were stacked on the upper part of the bookcase. She wrote her name as well as Winona’s on the front of the envelope, put down her pen of the table, inserted the fresh written words in the envelope, and closed it immediately.

 

Flannery: “Hop! Finished!”

 

After that, Flannery ran out of her room and went up to the upper floor. She headed back to Ame who was waiting for the faithful redhead to return. Flannery gave her the letter.

 

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Flannery: “Tadaaa! Here it is!”

Ame: “Excellent! I’ll make sure to send it to the service concerned. You can count on me!”

Flannery: “This is so kind of you to help me with it, Ame.”

Ame: “Oh, you know. That’s all natural for me to do you this favor. Well, so… what are you going to do now?”

Flannery: “What am I going to do? I’ll go to Peridot Ward, of course! I still have to rescue the starters that those terrorists have stolen yesterday. If I ever see them, I will have no mercy to them. I promise!”

 

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Ame: “I don’t doubt it. However, I’m afraid you’ll have to handle this case alone if you go now. In fact, Victoria contacted me earlier this morning. She told me she had to stay in Apophyll to take care of her mentor, Kiki. Apparently, Kiki would have faced some unanticipated health problems last night. Because of that, don’t expect to see Victoria in the street in the next hours.”

Flannery: “Jeez! I hope it’s nothing serious. Did she say something else by the way?”

 

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Ame: “No, nothing more. Fortunately, we’re never short of human resources in Reborn. To remedy this lack of means, I’ve personally made contact with Florinia, the Gym Leader of Onyx Ward. She’s supposed to assist you with Julia to disrupt the group responsible for the destruction of Grandview Station. If I were you, I would take a look around Mosswater Factory. This is where your meeting point is.”

Flannery: “Excellent, another Gym Leader in the band! I think I’m gonna like it! And yeah, no problem! I’ll join them as soon as possible! Thank you for everything, Ame!”

Ame: “You’re welcome, Flannery! Good luck!”

 

There was nothing else to say. Flannery was ready to strike a major blow in the plans of the group that assaulted Grandview Station yesterday. The redhead considered herself sufficiently trained to properly go into action against the mysterious organization with her two Pokemon. And thanks to Ame, almost all the questions she had in mind had finally found their answers. Only the mystery of Jacques’ disappearance remained unresolved. But solving this mystery wasn’t part of the fire lover’s priorities. At least, not right now. As Ame was about to confide Flannery’s letter to the person in charge of postal management in town, the hot-blooded woman dashed towards the exit door of the Grand Hall, galvanized at the idea of carrying out her very first mission against evil forces in Reborn. There was nowhere to hide anymore. The fist of justice was about to hit one more time.

 

Flannery: “Here we go! Let’s beat up some villains again!”

 

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To be continued…

 

POKEMON TEAM

Spoiler

torkoal.gif

Torkoal/Male/Level 15

Nature: Naive/Ability: White Smoke

Held Item: None

Moveset: Rapid Spin/Smog/Protect/Overheat

 

vulpix.gif

Vulpix/Female/Level 15

Nature: Jolly/Ability: Flash Fire

Held Item: None

Moveset: Ember/Baby-Doll Eyes/Will-O-Wisp/Grudge

 

 

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It's about time justice got served on a silver plate! Thug numero uno really had that coming. Vulpix can be at ease now ^_^

 

Plot twist: Jacques jumped off the train at the Tourmaline Desert to pet the Absol seen in the intro of Reborn and now he's stuck there

 

Btw, I love the editing you've done. The burn/smoke effect is cool :3

Mystery Dungeon!

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On 1/15/2020 at 10:59 PM, SilverAngelus said:

It's about time justice got served on a silver plate! Thug numero uno really had that coming. Vulpix can be at ease now ^_^

 

Plot twist: Jacques jumped off the train at the Tourmaline Desert to pet the Absol seen in the intro of Reborn and now he's stuck there

 

Btw, I love the editing you've done. The burn/smoke effect is cool :3

Mystery Dungeon!

Thank you for the warmly feedback! ^^

 

Yes, that was delightful to me too! I wanted to do this since episode 15 and I've put more time than I should have in the conceptualization of this clash. I think it was worth the writing indeed! Flannery has often been pictured and shown as a shy girl with a hot temper who pretended to be someone she wasn't, but she's never been caught in the act of violent outburst. In the end, Dounia's wish came true, and Vulpix has been avenged! Everything is now as it should be. But regardless of who you are, nothing last forever. We may eventually hear more of Zigzagoon in the future. When I said he was fast, I insisted on it. Anything can happen in a written run 😉 As of episode 18, Jacques' fate is now the biggest mystery of the story. Who knows, maybe the police will find clues concerning him in Beryl Ward. Anyway, if you managed to guess what happened to our Reserve Gym Leader, so you're probably sounding my mind at this very moment! And yeah, Vulpix must be loved and cherished at all cost (Protecc Vulpix!). As for the visual effect, you got a point here! The smoke surrounding Pokemon defeated by Flannery is actually blurred flames that I edited and darkened with an desaturated filter by using Gimp. My biggest work on it was principally the shock waves emitted by Flannery's fist. I cropped the sparks of Luxray from Pokemon Mystery Dungeon (Luxio Tribe) when the latter was about to strike the fatal blow to the player and his teammate, and I turned it purple. The attention to detail was required for this part. And on the other hand, Flannery had to honor the promise she made to Winona. The Flying Type Gym Leader will probably be reassured now, and maybe she'll send news to Flannery as well 😉 I don't banish the possibility for her to possibly find her own Reserve Gym Leader, so we could eventually expect something great from Winona. Even if it means she will... oh, nevermind.

 

The work on episode 19 will probably start this week, so keep your fingers crossed until then 🤞

 

PS: Confirmed fact, Fern will appear in the next episode.

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