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About Azzie

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  1. What's your favourite fangame you've ever played?
  2. (Warning for mention of suicide. Also, essentially all of Taka's dialogue from that part (regarding everything in Beryl Ward) is lifted straight from the game, so credit for that belongs to Ame and not me!) Day 3 Romi awoke with a surprising amount of weight on their legs. When they opened their eyes, Faith was sprawled out across their feet. Betty was nestled into the crook of their arm, and Madison had spread her wings out across all of them. Shimmer, seeming to enjoy the warmth, had curled up above Romi’s head. The sun was well on its way up, although without moving and disturbing their sleeping Pokemon they couldn’t tell exactly what time it was. It was only a few moments before they decided they would have to anyway; the circulation in their legs had been cut off, and both of their feet were asleep. They wiggled, but nobody woke. It wasn’t until they reached out and gently patted Madison's wing that the Fearow moved, and she woke up slowly, stretching her feathers out and nearly poking Romi in the eye with one. “Morning, Madison,” Romi said groggily. The gentle commotion was enough to wake everyone else- except Betty, which didn’t surprise Romi. She had run around quite a bit the previous day, after all. But it was easy enough to gently slide their arm out from under her and greet the other three members of their team. Romi stood up carefully and looked over to Taka’s campsite. They could see Klefki clearly, glinting in the morning sun, and what looked like Chatot hopping about. They approached, and held back a chuckle. Taka’s Pokemon were all awake, even Komala crawling up a nearby tree. Taka himself, however, was not. Gliscor waved drowsily to Romi when he saw them. “It’s okay, you can sleep,” Romi told him. “Thank you.” “Scor,” Gliscor murmured, already settling down on the leaf pile- next to Minior, who seemed to be asleep already. Romi grinned and gathered up the last of their belongings. Chatot, they noticed, was watching them warily, but he didn’t seem as confrontational as the night before. Romi figured they’d take that as a good sign... unless it was just because Faith wasn’t staring back. When they had finally gathered everything, and Betty had woken up and wandered over to see what her sisters were doing, Romi went back over to where Taka lay, still sound asleep. They took a step toward him- then stopped, and looked down at Chatot. “Hi. Can you wake him up?” Chatot considered this, and tilted his head toward Romi. “Tot?” “Um. Please?” Chatot bobbed his head. With a couple of hops, he was in front of Taka. “Chat. Wake up! Wake up!” “Nnnghwizit” Taka muttered. “Wake up!” Chatot repeated with a squawk. Taka groaned and opened his eyes. As soon as he took in his surroundings and remembered where he was, he bolted into a sitting position. “What time is it?” Romi pulled out their Pokegear. “About eight.” “Yeah, we should move on,” Taka said. “Thanks, Chatot.” He gently patted Gliscor and Minior awake. “Time to eat, guys.” The promise of food woke them quickly, and before long they were all chowing down on the Tamato Rolls Romi brought out and drinking from the cool pond. When they had finished, Romi petted each of their Pokemon. “Gotta go now, so back in your balls for now, okay?” They all made sounds of assent, so Romi clicked each of their Pokeballs and returned them to their belt. They knew almost at once that Taka must have done the same, because it was quiet again, in a way it hadn’t been since they had arrived at the oasis. “Man, I’m gonna miss this place,” Taka said. “But it’s too open. Not really a good place to stay hidden.” Romi nodded. “Well, here we go.” They began walking, and when they were passing the Light Shard Betty had found, Romi pointed it out. “There,” Romi said. “...There what?” Taka asked. “Grass?” “No, the Light Shard,” Romi grinned. “Like I said yesterday.” Taka looked from them to the ground with a frown. “That wasn’t some weird joke?” The grin slowly slid from Romi's features. “This isn’t?” The two looked at each other, confusion in each face, as it slowly dawned on them that neither was trying to make a joke. “You seriously don’t see it?” Romi asked. “Gold, glowing, about waist high?” “Romi, all I see is that tree,” he said. “You’re kind of freaking me out. What’s a Light Shard?” They were silent for a few moments. “...Never mind,” Romi shook their head. “Let’s go.” They put their hands to the dusty golden star. A pleasant warmth ran through their body, and Romi felt the faint ache in their muscles ease. They also felt an immediate sense of confusion. The sun seemed to be shining more harshly on their skin the moment they touched the Shard, and when they looked up, the tree they had been standing beneath was gone. The entire oasis was gone. “...What just happened?” Taka asked. “You saw that too, right? The entire place just… gone?” Romi nodded. It did not particularly surprise them. “When you touched that… thing I can’t see. It was real though, right? It wasn’t just a mirage? If it was just a mirage, we couldn’t have…” He dropped his bag and brought out a bottle of water. "The water’s still here.” Romi continued to stare, not entirely hearing him. Since coming to Reborn they had seen a lot of strange things, but an entire pond and several trees disappearing at once was perhaps the strangest yet. And it felt… bad. In a way they couldn’t explain, it hurt them to see the oasis gone. And what about the Finneon? They found themself worrying about them, too. “Sad,” Taka said finally. “But probably good, really. No chance of her finding the campsite now, anyway. At least we got some food.” But Taka was staring where it had been, too, and Romi wondered if it bothered him, too. The thought that it might made Romi feel worse, until they caught themself thinking it and briskly shut it out of their head. “Yeah,” Romi muttered. “We should go.” The day was fortunately free of sandstorms, but that did mean that the sun beat down intensely on both of their heads as they walked. Taka once again questioned his sanity in wearing a thick scarf into the desert, but he left it where it was. After the spook he’d gotten that morning, he was happy for whatever comfort he could find, and the scarf was a comfort, even if it was also making him about ten degrees hotter. The scarf was not the only thing that made him wonder about his sanity. Something had happened that morning, back at the oasis, and he had no idea what. He’d tried a few times to bring it up with Romi, but every time he had, they had shrugged and changed the subject. He could tell it had spooked them, too, though. They’d thought he was joking, about not seeing the thing. And he couldn’t console himself by saying Romi was the one seeing things, because that oasis had certainly disappeared as soon as they’d touched… whatever it was. He wasn’t sure how long they’d been walking for when Romi stopped and frowned at something on the ground. They bent over and picked it up- and Taka laughed. A package of Cotton Candy. “More?” Romi asked. “I think there’s someone throwing them off Beryl Bridge. That’s gotta be it, right?” “But look. It doesn’t even look melted. How?” Romi raised an eyebrow at the clear plastic of the wrapping. “What do they put in this stuff?” “Well, it revives fainted Pokemon,” Taka grinned. “So probably not just sugar?” “I guess,” Romi took a last look at it, then slipped it into their bag. Taka was quiet after that, uncharacteristically so. Romi wondered about it. At first they were content to simply let him be with his thoughts, but when an entire half hour had passed without him saying a word, they decided to ask. “I was just thinking about that guy. You remember that guy that was with me and ZEL when we fought in Beryl? Back then, people were saying you killed him.” Romi froze, but Taka didn’t seem to notice. “He wasn’t the friendliest guy. He never seemed to stick around that much, and he argued with Sirius all the time. But still… you wouldn’t do something like that, right?” He looked, and Romi closed their eyes. “I… didn’t. But in a way it was my fault,” they said. They opened their mouth to say more, but in the next moment the ground rumbled, and a pair of Dugtrio sprang up, one on either side of the pair. They were easily dealt with- Betty and Klefki quickly sent them tunneling away. Taka found he wanted- needed- to hear more, to understand what had happened. But Romi’s concentration, or maybe their courage, seemed to have been used up. Taka watched them as they walked, and they seemed to be deep in thought- but they didn’t look happy. It was the first time the idea had occurred to him, that their quiet could be from nervousness, or something other than simple choice. “So what’s your secret,” he asked finally. “Is it why you don’t say much?” Romi looked surprised for a moment, then shook their head. “Just don’t always have much to say.” There was a pause, then they continued. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know him. Corey, I mean. But… he was a Meteor. Hurting people. So I didn’t think. It didn’t matter. Not until after.” “What happened?” “He was found out,” Romi told him. “Heather was there. He blamed me. Then we fought, in the Gym. He flooded the gym with poison gas, and I told the police where he was. And then he… jumped.” Taka frowned, but he found himself relieved by the answer. “But you didn’t kill him.” “Maybe not. But I didn’t think, either.” Taka shrugged. “It sucks. But sometimes thinking’s hard, y'know?” Romi nodded. It was. The rest of the day passed uneventfully, for the most part. The heat had tired them both out, so the setting of the sun was a great relief. They could find no shelter- not even a boulder this time- so when it grew too dark to see they stopped and made camp where they were. Taka pulled some twigs out of his bag, and grinned. “Glad these stayed too, at least.” He let Chatot out, and the little bird Pokemon chirped in disappointment when he saw there was no battle awaiting him. “Sorry, bud,” Taka said. “But can you help with the fire again? There’s a seed in it for you.” Looking considerably happier, Chatot opened his beak and the pile of twigs erupted into flames. “Good boy,” Taka grinned. “Here you go.” Chatot took the Miracle Seed and nibbled at it intently, not reacting when the rest of Taka’s Pokemon joined him outside of their balls. Romi followed suit. Faith, when she saw that there was no battle to be had and no water to rest in, gave Romi a wounded look and climbed onto their lap. Romi laughed, and Shimmer nudged Faith with her snout. The sand was just as hard as it had been before, but Romi had brought some of the palm leaves, which had miraculously not been crushed by their bag. Faith jumped to one immediately and began cleaning the sand out of her fur. Romi fell asleep almost instantly, Taka noticed, and this time they hadn’t even bothered trying to make their Pokemon a place separate from them. Shimmer made a soft humming sound in her sleep, not unlike a purr, and Taka wondered if the Musharna's presence was why Romi was sleeping so well. Refreshed from their stint in their Pokeballs, Minior and Gliscor played while the others settled in for sleep. The rapidly moving light from Minior was a bit disorienting, but Taka figured it might help keep the other wild Pokemon away. And he'd certainly slept through worse. “Night, guys,” Taka murmured, taking one more look at the stars before closing his eyes.
  3. Day 2 Romi woke up to a loud screech shortly before dawn, when the darkness was thinning and the stars looked slightly more faint against the sky. Romi sat up stiffly. Every muscle in their body hurt. Taka was standing against the boulder, looking into the distance. He looked alert, but thoughtful, and when he heard Romi's movement he looked down. "Morning." Another Pokemon cry rang out, one Romi recognized as a Marowak. Taka shrugged. "They've been going for a while now, surprised you slept as long as you did." "So'm I," Romi mumbled. "Guess we should head out before it gets too hot." They dragged themself to their feet and brushed the sand off their clothes. "Good idea," Taka agreed. "What time is it, anyway?" Romi checked their Pokegear. "5:30." "Okay." He grabbed his bag from atop the boulder- Romi hadn't noticed it up there before- and scooped sand onto the last coals that remained. Then he nuded the dim Fire Stone out of the sand with his shoe. "You still want that?" Romi picked it up and looked at it critically, then pocketed it. "Might as well." They swung their own bag, which felt twice as heavy as usual, onto their back. "Wait," Taka said. "Shouldn't we eat first? Most important meal of the day and all that?" He looked downright alarmed, and Romi fought back a laugh. Then their stomach let out a low, treasonous gurgle, and they conceded the point. They ate as they walked, Qualot sticks and bread cut off a loaf Romi brought out. After a rest it seemed to help more than the sandwiches had done, and even Romi began to feel a bit more energetic. It was nothing to how alert Taka seemed, however. After an hour of walking Romi could not help commenting. "Must've slept well." "Better than the night before," he agreed. "But also I was scouting around and I found this bag of Pop Rocks in the sand. They were kind of melted together, but still good." "...You ate them?" "Hey, the bag was sealed, and food's food. Sorry. Next time I'll leave you some." This time Romi did laugh, and Taka grinned. "But seriously, how did they even get out here?" The pair encountered another sandstorm just as it was beginning to be hot again, and they found it helped the heat a bit, though the tradeoff was that it was harder to breathe. It was worse than the one they'd encountered the previous day, stinging their hands and faces until Taka thought to wrap his scarf around his nose and mouth. Neither dared speak as they walked, and so it was without words that they decided to forgo stopping for lunch. So they trudged on, through the sand and wind, occasionally getting surprised by a Pokemon hiding behind the sand's veil. Time seemed to lose all meaning. Until suddenly, the sandstorm grew thinner, and they saw something unbelievable beyond it. Taka saw it first, stopping and reaching out to get Romi's attention. When he saw them looking, he pointed slightly north, and Romi followed his gaze. They looked back and Taka nodded, and they adjusted their course. Green in the desert was not to be ignored. It was not long before it came into greater view, the sandstorm diminishing until it was no more than a calm breeze making ripples across the ground. A clump of green in the near distance, lush and bright against the dull tan and reddish sands. It looked like a small forest. They picked up speed. The closer they got, the more unbelievable it looked. Not only were there trees, but grass growing, and colourful spots that looked like Berry bushes. And when they were almost upon it, they could see the reflections of water, shining on the underside of the palm trees. They both ran after that. "Is this real?" Taka asked when they were both standing at the edge. What they had come upon was a thin grove of trees and deep green bushes, surrounding a clear pond that reflected the sky. Tiny Finneon darted below the surface of the water, and bright berries dotted some of the bushes. Romi was staring with open wonder. At Taka's words, Romi tentatively reached forward and touched the grass. It felt cool and solid and real, and it continued to do so when Romi plucked a blade and rubbed it between their fingers. Taka took that as a good sign, running up and rubbing the bark of a tree. Romi squatted at the shore, opening their bag and withdrawing the empty Fresh Water bottles they had used over the last two days. When they leaned forward to fill the first one, however, a spark of blue light flared at their waist, and with no more warning Faith appeared next to her Trainer. "Priii!" she cried, diving into the water and completely soaking Romi. When she resurfaced a few moments later, Romi and Taka were both laughing, the former watching her affectionately. She swam to their side and chirruped happily, and Romi ruffled her hair. "I guess she smelled the water," Romi told Taka. "Hey, Faith." "Hey," Taka greeted her. The Primarina waved a flipper in his direction before diving back into the water and swimming quickly off to investigate something that had caught her eye. "I guess this would be a good spot to let our teams out," Taka thought. "Uh. If you want." "Good idea," Romi said. They went a bit farther along the water's edge to give Taka more room, and clicked the three still-closed Pokeballs. Betty, Shimmer and Madison appeared. Madison squawked in confusion, and Betty looked around as if to locate the threat. Romi crouched down to reassure them, and quietly asked if they wanted a stretch and some food. Betty immediately ran off to explore, and Romi grinned as Madison and Shimmer discussed the matter before heading over together to investigate one of the berry bushes. They looked over at Taka, surrounded on all sides by his own Pokemon. He was laughing as Chatot sat on his head and Komala clung to one leg like a tree, while Klefki, Minior and Gliscor took off on their own to look around. Faith poked her head out of the water, saw the happy humans and Pokemon, and whistled. Romi had their hands full keeping an eye on Betty. Faith couldn’t go far, and they knew Shimmer would keep Madison out of trouble. But Betty was excited, quick, and the little Roserade blended well into the leaves she was investigating. So Romi kept their eye on her as they collected water in their empty bottles, and when they had finished they called out to her to not go far. Madison, clearly misunderstanding the instruction's intended recipient, flew over to land in the water near her Trainer. Her beak was purple with berry juice, and she dipped it in the water before turning to preen herself. Betty, however, poked her head out from behind a tree, and ran over to Romi. “Raaa,” she trilled. “Rose!” And she took one of Romi’s hands in both of her own flower buds and attempted to pull them toward the tree. “What’s up?” they asked her, and with a glance to make sure Shimmer was still nearby- she was- they followed Betty. When it was clear Romi was coming, Betty let go and ran ahead. Romi understood why a moment later. On the other side of the tree, half-buried in the grass and earth, was the golden glint of a Light Shard. “Good find,” they told Betty, picking her up. She cuddled into their arms and rested there as Romi brought her back to where the others were. Shimmer was floating next to Taka’s Gliscor, who had ventured over and was having some kind of conversation with her. On the ground next to Shimmer was a decent-sized pile of berries. Taka came over at almost the same moment. “Oh, that’s where- oh hey, good idea,” he said, noticing the berries. Shimmer hummed with pride, and Gliscor nodded, smiling. “I can’t believe this is all out here,” Taka shook his head. “How does it even keep growing, with all this desert around?” “Oasis,” Romi shrugged. “And Betty found a Light Shard over there.” “A wha?” Taka asked. Romi frowned. “Light Shard. Glowing gold thing?” “...Okay, sure, ” Taka said. “Anyway, I got my water refilled, but maybe I should get some of those berries too.” One of the berries floated up and hovered in front of Taka’s face. Shimmer turned to him and trilled a question. Taka and Romi both grinned, and Taka took the berry from the air. “Thanks.” “I can help too,” Romi offered. As it turned out, the other Pokemon were also happy to help, especially with food. Even Faith, who did not want to get out of the water, reached a few Pecha Berries that were hanging over the pond, and then supplemented them with some pretty rocks she found. Clearly proud of herself, she deposited them all on shore and then watched as the others hunted for Berries and twigs to use for a fire. The rest of them searching together managed to find about as many as Shimmer had; she seemed to have been plucking from every bush she saw. At last they put the full pile together and split it in half, and then simply rested. The sun began to sink lower in the sky, and Romi began gathering their water bottles together. But when they looked back at Taka, he shook his head. “There’s lots of shelter here, might as well just stay until morning.” As the night fell around them, Romi pulled out their used Fire Stone and fashioned a little pile of twigs around it, like a tent. They took some of the stones Faith had brought and set them in a ring around the twigs. It looked like more of a campfire than the crumpled sandwich wrappers of the previous night had, and it hadn't even been lit yet. Taka was doing something off on his own, Romi wasn’t sure what, but they were not at all bothered by the chance to be alone with their Pokemon. Faith had pulled herself up on shore and was napping after her afternoon swim, and the others were hopping around nearby. It was a comfortable quiet, free of the awkwardness that sometimes filled the silences between Romi and Taka as they walked. As Romi blew on the Fire Stone, willing it to heat up and ignite the twigs, they heard some small hops behind them, and Madison’s neck stretched over their shoulder to see what they were doing. “Fea?” “Careful, Madison, I’m trying to get this fire going.” They took another breath and watched as the stone glowed brighter under the air. Madison chirped, and Romi felt her head leave their shoulder. They fanned the air with their hands, trusting their Pokemon to get back safely. Several things happened then. A sharp gust of wind blew from behind Romi, the fire stone glowed brightly, then stopped as it, the twigs, and the rocks went flying in the wind. The rocks rolled only a few feet, but the twigs were scattered, and the Fire Stone landed somewhere in the underbrush. “Roww!” Madison crowed proudly. Romi turned around and saw her, wing outstretched and looking at them hopefully. “Madison, you- oh,” Romi realized. “You were trying to help. Thank you. It was just a bit too strong,” The Fearow hung her head, and Romi ruffled the feathers on it. “It’s okay. You’re a good girl. I can fix it anyway.” Madison leaned into the petting, then hopped off and began collecting the twigs she had blown away. Romi quickly put the rocks back, then went to search for the Fire Stone. Eventually they found it, glowing dimly against some ferns, and brought it back to the small fire pit. There was already a fire going. Taka sat next to it, Chatot on his shoulder. When he saw Romi he waved. “Oh, nice, you got some wood too?” “How-” Romi held up the Fire Stone. “How did it start?” “Chatot did it,” Taka said, leaning his head against the little Pokemon. “Guess I forgot the little guy knows Heat Wave.” Chatot puffed out his chest. “Oh.” Romi looked at the dim stone in their hand and pocketed it. “Good job.” Madison spat out her beak full of twigs and looked sadly up at Romi. They squatted beside her and kissed her head. “You did a good job too.” The fire was much stronger than the previous evening’s, and the food much better. They left Romi's rations untouched and instead grilled berries over the fire, for themselves and all of the Pokemon. Despite the small fire, everyone managed to gather around it, even Faith wiggling over to investigate when she smelled the cooking fruit. The Pokemon did not seem at all uncomfortable with each other, although Romi had a distinct and unpleasant feeling that Chatot didn’t like them. They couldn’t be sure, but it seemed that every time Romi looked his way, the little bird was staring at them. It could have been Faith, though; she was more subtle, but more than once Romi caught her making faces at Chatot. Romi quietly told her to cut it out. It wasn’t long after he finished eating that Taka finally began feeling the weight of tiredness settle over his shoulders. The lack of sleep and the long trudge through a heavy sandstorm had taken their toll, and the gentle weights of Komala in his lap and Chatot on his shoulder, both dozing, made him even sleepier. He looked over at his cohort. Romi was scratching something in the dirt with their finger, their Musharna- Shimmer, her name was- watching intently. Taka tried to make out what they were drawing, but he couldn’t without disturbing his Pokemon. Romi looked at Shimmer and said something quietly to her, and she made a low whistling sound, gesturing at the drawing with her snout. Since they had arrived at the oasis, Taka had mostly been concerned with gathering supplies and resting, but it had been difficult not to notice the change in Romi. They had always seemed- not exactly tense, but more focused. If Taka had no idea what he was doing, Romi was the opposite; they always seemed to know exactly what they were doing, and never really wavered from that, nor lingered for longer than was necessary. They were kind, certainly; the very fact that they kept showing up to heal what Team Meteor tried to destroy was proof enough of that, and he could see their concern for their Pokemon in the way they battled. But there had always been an intensity to them, and Taka could see absolutely no sign of that intensity now. Since they had arrived at this oasis, surrounded by their Pokemon, Romi seemed… relaxed. And watching them interact with their Pokemon, it made him smile. Reminded him a bit of himself. Taka felt Komala shift in his lap, and he petted the little Pokemon between his ears. He understood how Romi felt. Being surrounded by his Pokemon was calming, and it helped take the edge off his fear of Team Meteor catching up with him. Actually… “Hey, what do you think of letting our Pokemon stay out tonight?” Romi looked up from their drawing, and considered it. “What if wild ones attack?” “Gliscor and Minior are nocturnal, they’d let us know,” Taka said. “Besides, most of ‘em are asleep already anyway. And I think they like being out with us.” He grinned at Komala in his lap. Romi glanced around them at their team cuddled up against them, then over to Taka with his own, and smiled. “Think they do.” “Great,” Taka said. “And if anyone comes, we’ll know about it. You’ll look out for us, right?” He reached behind him to where Gliscor sat, and rubbed his head. “Sco sco,” Gliscor said, tucking his head under Taka’s arm. “Thanks, buddy.” Minior floated in front of Taka and spun, glowing faintly yellow and making a sound like wind in a cavern. Taka held up a hand, and Minior gently flew into it. “High five.” Romi laughed, and Faith stuck her head on Romi’s lap at the sound. Arranging to sleep took longer than the night before, but it was much nicer, too. Each arranged leaves in a soft pile, some distance apart, along the water’s edge. Romi set four smaller piles next to theirs, and showed Faith, Betty, Shimmer and Madison where they could cuddle in. Taka simply made his own pile larger, and set down his scarf for Chatot. With nobody staying awake, they doused the fire, Faith happy to sing water to it until it was nothing more than a patch of mud. Minior discarded his stone shell and hovered over Taka’s pile of leaves like a beacon, shining enough light for them all to see to get into the makeshift mattress. Taka reached up and patted him. “Night, Minior. Thanks again.” He flopped onto the leaf pile and then helped his other Pokemon settle in next to him. Klefki and Komala cuddled against his side, and Chatot settled quickly on the scarf. Gliscor stood on his tail next to the leaf pile, looking alert and proud. “Thank you, too, Gliscor,” Taka said. “Night guys. Night, Romi!” The sight of Taka there, surrounded by his Pokemon and smiling up at Romi, made their heart skip a beat. They smiled back, reflexively, before turning away. “Night.” They held up their Pokegear and hurried to their own leaf pile. Faith heard them coming, and whistled a question. “I’m fine,” Romi told her. “Night, guys.” The leaf pile was much softer than the desert sand had been, but it was a long time before Romi got to sleep. Their mind was buzzing and their stomach was full of conflicting emotions, and in the end they fell asleep with two thoughts in the foreground. The first was about how the leaves were somehow more comfortable than the sofa at Agate Circus. The second was, ‘I thought I was over this’.
  4. Happy Birthday 😄, i hope that you will have a great day 🙂🍰

  5. Day 1 The train ride to Tourmaline Station was uneventful. Romi was the only passenger, as the train station was not officially back in business yet; the only trips being made were to gather supplies and carry the construction workers to where they were needed. And now, on Adrienn's instruction, to give Romi a lift into the desert "on City business". Romi had wondered about that part, at first; they didn't know why Adrienn hadn't simply told the engineers that they were after a badge. But they didn't bother questioning xem about it; the Fairy Leader was busy enough as it was. Instead they had simply stocked up on supplies- their bag was stuffed with sandwiches, berries and Pokemon medicine- and got on the train. Less than an hour later, the train slowed, and Romi felt themself tense- but nothing happened other than the engineer opening the door and checking to see if they were off yet. It was hot . Reborn was almost always warm, anywhere that wasn't in the vicinity of Ametrine Mountain, but this was something else entirely. It reminded Romi slightly of Pyrous Mountain's thick, choking heat, although the desert air felt drier and didn't carry the volcano's scorched chemical smell. But the swirling sand in the air made it just as unpleasant to breathe, as they discovered after their first gasp left them coughing. By the time they had cleared their throat of sand, the train was gone and the gate had closed behind it. Romi wondered if they would clean the tracks every time the train passed through, once the trains were officially running. They looked around; the city wall was behind them, a mountain to the east, but little else that they could see. They took only one step before they heard a voice, muffled but unmistakable. "I hoped you wouldn't come." They turned quickly, and sure enough, there he was. Taka Alcantara, child of Team Meteor's mastermind Solaris. And likely runaway, judging by his disheveled appearance. The anger and indignation that had been building since Romi heard his voice ebbed at the sight of him looking so miserable, replaced with a feeling of worry and something else that was too tender to go near. Romi recalled their anger- really, how dare he ambush them like this?- and brushed aside the grim edge to the comfort that settled over their shoulders as they glared at him. "Romi, I'm- I'm so sorry. I have to stop you here. If I don't... they're probably already- or she's- watching us from somewhere. I don't have a choice anymore!" He rubbed his face. "As if I ever did." He was nearly in tears. The twinge of worry grew and flared, but Romi shoved it down with a vengeance. He was still trying to go back, to pretend. Romi's hand found first Faith's pokeball, then Betty's, and they clutched both in comfort for a moment before moving to release the latter onto the field to meet the Gliscor Taka had chosen. The battle was somewhat subdued. Neither Trainer displayed their usual level of skill, both unused to the terrain and weather, and both distracted. By the time it was ending Taka could only sigh. "I can't win. Not against you." He recalled the defeated Klefki, who reached for his hand with one key before returning to his Pokeball, and looked out over the horizon. "...And not against them." Romi was still angry, but the battle had made it impossible to smother the concern they also felt. Returning Madison to her Pokeball, they simply followed his gaze. Nothing they could think of to say felt right- nothing expressed both their anger and the way it blended, somehow, into compassion. So they chose, as they often did, to simply say nothing at all. After a moment Taka looked over at them. "So I guess that's it. I- This'll probably be the last time you have to deal with me. Sorry, again..." He looked down and scuffed the sandy stone platform with his shoes. And then his despondent expression shifted to one that was almost thoughtful. He looked back to Romi. "I never had a choice, but you can. You've always been standing up to us. And you've always been winning. You're gonna keep doing that, aren't you?" Romi had not been expecting that. And they felt the pressure to say the right thing warring with their other instinct, which was to be entirely honest. They had been fighting Team Meteor almost as long as they had been in Reborn, but so much of that time had been incidental. For a long time it had been other people driving the movement against Meteor, Romi only getting involved by the chance of being nearby when things broke out. It hadn't been until the mess in Beryl Ward that Romi had felt any personal drive to oppose Meteor beyond fear, of what they had done and what they were capable of doing. When they had seen what Meteor had done to the Tangrowth, and to Heather, the determination to protect others from them had finally taken root in Romi's heart. And as they fought, against Meteor and against Taka, that drive had only grown. But the fear had not gone; it had grown, too, and been mixed again with pain from all the things Team Meteor had taken. And in this moment Romi felt all of that hit them in full force. "I. Hope so." "Not what I expected to hear, honestly, but what else is new? I never thought anything could change, but here you are. You rocked the boat and I've fallen right out of it. And yet you're still not sure." Romi flinched at his words. "So where does that leave me? When I go back a failure again, I won't get another chance. And you... you'll keep fighting anyway, whether you're sure or not," Taka realized. Again his face turned thoughtful. "...Romi, can I come with you?" Not for the first time that day was Romi surprised. Both by Taka's request and by the clarity of their decision. They were still angry- they needed that anger- but they didn't hesitate for a moment. They nodded. "Wait, really?" There was nothing but disbelief in his eyes now. Romi nodded again. "Okay, so here's the plan. I've got absolutely no clue. So I'm just gonna follow you, okay? I'll try not to get in your way. If I can find somewhere safe to hide, I think I'll lay low there for a while. Maybe long enough that I'll get off that woman's radar. After that... who knows?" He shrugged. "I never thought I'd make it this far, I have no idea what comes next. But there's gotta be somewhere." "Yeah," Romi agreed. He seemed surprised. "I'll keep an eye out. And in the meantime, I kinda took a bunch of healing items from base before they sent me out here... so I can help you out whenever your Pokemon need healing. Like maybe now, before we head out?" He hopped off the platform and squatted before clicking a Pokeball, and Minior appeared. "Here you go, bud," he patted the Pokemon before spraying it with a Potion he pulled from his bag. Minior twirled gently before Taka recalled him. Next came Gliscor, and once Taka had sprayed him he dove into the sand, rolling around in obvious glee, and with an amused sigh he let Gliscor keep playing while he treated first Klefki, then Komala and finally Chatot. Chatot hopped onto Taka's shoulder and made clicking sounds with his beak, watching Gliscor, and Romi chuckled. The sound drew Gliscor and Chatot's attention, Gliscor stopping to see who had laughed and Chatot simply turning to look at them before turning back. "Hey guys, we're going with Romi for now, okay?" Taka asked the two. "Romi, here, take some heals for your team." "Gli." Gliscor rolled about in the sand some more, completely unconcerned. Romi accepted the offered Potions with a nod of thanks, and brought out first Faith, then Betty and Madison. Primarina, Roserade and Fearow watched the others as Romi sprayed them down with healing salve. Shimmer, who hadn't battled, came last, the Musharna blinking up at Romi as they petted her. Romi briefly made the introductions, although none were truly needed. These Pokemon had battled each other often enough. "Awesome," Taka said. As Romi recalled each of their team and prepared to head off, they wondered again why they had accepted. They hadn't brought enough supplies for more than one person, they weren't even sure where the Gym was, and they were still angry. But there had only been one real choice. And once made, Romi was immediately sure it had been the right one. It had been the closest thing Romi had ever seen to hope on Taka's face. ~~~~~ Tourmaline Desert was scorching hot, a fact with which both Taka and Romi were well acquainted by the end of the day. It had been a lot of trudging, fanning themselves off, and adjusting their clothes to keep sand out of their eyes, and more than once both of them had gotten a foot stuck in a patch of softer sand and nearly twisted an ankle. And through it all had been the unrelenting sun that beamed down oppressively. At least their pace was comfortable, each finding the periodic pauses to deal with wild Pokemon enough of a rest that they could continue walking otherwise. By the end of the day, though, a new fact was making itself known to them. Tourmaline Desert was hot by day , but as the sun sank gently behind the mountains, the air cooled to warm, then comfortable, and then chilly. And the wild Pokemon that had been so abundant throughout the day retreated, though neither saw where they went, and Taka and Romi began to notice Flygon and Cacturne instead against the fiery horizon. Taka seemed comfortable enough, but Romi grew cold, and after one battle with a pair of Hippopotas they withdrew a sweater from their bag. "Hey, you okay?" Taka asked them. "It's cold out here at night. I mean, I’ve only been here since yesterday, but last night was pretty cold. You all good?" Romi nodded, pulling the sweater over their head. "Okay, cool. By the way, do you have any food in there? I don't actually know what time it is, but I'm kind of hungry. Aren't you?" Romi paused, then opened their bag again. About a minute later, they brought out a pair of paper-wrapped sandwiches and handed one to Taka. "S'not much." "Hey, it's better than nothing," he replied happily, ripping off the wrapping and opening his own bag. "Here." He held out a bottle of Fresh Water, and grinned as Romi took it. "Thanks." They carefully unwrapped their own sandwich and sat down in the sand to eat it. Taka shrugged and did the same. The pair ate mostly in silence, each too hungry after the long day to devote any energy to conversation. Taka finished first, and sat quietly drinking his water while Romi finished their sandwich. When that was finished, Romi gathered up both sandwich wrappers and stuck them in their pockets, and the two carried on. The horizon dimmed, and stars appeared in the clear sky. The two continued walking, and the moon rose, a thin crescent of opal against the deepening blue. But it was not enough to see by, and eventually Romi stopped and turned to Taka, who was trailing slightly behind them. "Should we stop?" they asked. "Uh. Here?" Taka looked around and saw nothing but open sand. "There's... no cover, they could find us... Do any of your Pokemon know Flash? We could get somewhere safer." Romi thought about it, then shook their head. "What about this?" They pulled out their Pokegear, and aimed it toward the ground. A faint white glow poured out from the screen. "Again, better than nothing," Taka shrugged, and they continued walking. After another hour, however, they were forced to admit defeat. The only thing they had found that wasn't sand or wild Pokemon was a boulder, roughly as tall as Romi and twice their height across. Taka immediately gravitated towards it. "This'll work," he announced, inspecting the boulder and the area around it. "Not as good as the ruins, but it'll hide us a bit. Come check it out!" Romi did, shrugging. It looked like any other boulder to them. Taka slung his backpack onto the ground beside it and sat up against it, stretching his legs out. "Man, I didn't know how tired I was." Romi was tired, too, though they didn't want to admit it. They stood against the cool stone, letting it support them as they reached into their bag and withdrew a Fire Stone. “What’s that for?” Taka asked. “It should keep us warm,” they replied. Fire Stone was set aside as Romi withdrew the paper wrappers from their pocket and arranged them in a small circle on the sand. They placed the Fire Stone within the circle, and looked back to Taka. “Stand back.” He stepped back, still watching curiously, and Romi took a deep breath and blew on the stone. The papers erupted into flames, and Romi stepped back as well. “...Well, gotta admit I didn’t see that coming.” Taka said, staring at the small fire. “Where do they teach you that, anyway?” “Camping,” Romi said, a hint of a smile on their face. “I bought a few for the trip.” “I mean, someone might see it, but… better than freezing to death, I guess.” He yawned. "I'll take first watch," Romi said. "Wait- really? Uh. Okay, thanks. Wake me up when you get tired." He unwound his scarf once and tucked the end under his head like a pillow, then curled up against the boulder. "...Dang, this sand is hard ." Despite that, it was less than ten minutes before Romi heard a quiet snore, and looked down to see Taka sound asleep. They smiled for a moment. The night passed without any sign of either danger or comfort, for either of them. Taka jolted awake several times, sometimes with a yell, and every time he did so it startled Romi, who kept awake by tending the fire. The low flames kept them warm enough, and it seemed to discourage the lurking Pokemon from approaching, but it was not an easy task to keep it going. Romi, who had not been camping since early childhood, kept accidentally letting the fire die and having to relight it. And fanning the Fire Stone was itself tiring. When Romi caught themself nodding off for the second time they woke Taka, who despite waking up on his own several times was not an easy person to rouse. He slept through whispering, calling and nudging his foot, and did not wake until Romi carefully shook his shoulder. He yawned. "Oh hey. Thanks, Romi." They were not sure exactly what time it was, or how long it took them to get to sleep. Later, Romi was fairly sure they had not so much fallen asleep as passed out. But their sleep was dreamless, and they did not especially notice the discomfort of the ground as they slept.
  6. Taka's on the run from his old team and the woman who's corrupted everything he ever knew. Romi's looking for a Gym Badge, a Key, and answers. What happens when they end up as travel buddies through a large, confusing desert? Hijinks, probably. This is my 2020 Camp NaNoWriMo project, a sort of pseudo-novelisation of the Tourmaline Desert portion of Reborn. Except AU, because it's also a prequel to my other AU fanfic, which I will eventually stick in this thread once Tourmaline Travels is completed. (I wrote out of order, it wasn't a brilliant move on my part, but in my defense the other one was supposed to be a oneshot at first. Anyway.) I'm planning on posting a chapter per week until it's completed. Assume spoilers for everything up to and including Titania's Gym, and also be warned that I'm not holding back at all on the cheesiness. Cheesy is fun, read at your own risk. Without further ado... Index: Ch. 1 (Day 1) Ch. 2 (Day 2) Ch. 3 (Day 3)
  7. Hello everyone! The staff here have been brainstorming ways to make our community a better place, and notably, one thing keeps coming to our attention. A lot of the warnings people receive are for repeat offenses, often within a short span of time. Given that the purpose of a warning is to discourage people from repeating the action they were warned for, it's brought up questions of if our warning system is really as effective as it could be. So after some discussion, we've decided to implement some changes to our warning system. As of now, if a user breaks a rule, they receive the regular number of warning points as detailed here. While that warning is active, each subsequent repeat of the same offense will accrue one more warning point than the last. (For example, a second use of derogatory language within the 90 day warning period would be worth 2 points, a third would be 3, etc.) Repeats of the same offense after the warning points expire may or may not accrue the extra point, at the moderators' discretion. This is so we can decide on a case-by-case basis; nobody wants to punish anyone for honest mistakes, but sadly there are times when people just refuse to change their behaviour and need a reminder to take the rules seriously. To supplement this, we're slightly reworking the way accumulated points work. Currently the system is: 3 active points: muted for one week on Discord, content moderated on the forums 5 active points: unverified on Discord until the warning points expire 7 active points: muted and content moderated until the warning points expire. What we're implementing instead is: 3 active points: muted and content moderated for one week 5 active points: muted and content moderated until the active warning points expire 7 active points: ban We're hoping these changes will encourage people to take warnings more seriously and learn from mistakes, and to make the server a better place for everyone. With all that info out of the way, I hope you all have a lovely timezone and thank you for being part of Reborn!
  8. What' your favourite Magic card and why? Do you have any songs you think everyone should hear? Current favourite TV show? Favourite overall FFXIV expansion/chapter/arc/i don't actually know what the correct term is
  9. They all look excellent! ♡ Nim and Aelita are adorable, Keta looks 100% Done and Madelis looks fashionably wicked
  10. Zumiii ♥ What's an art project this past year that you've had the most fun with/enjoyed the most?
  11. In light of recent developments I must also nominate @Ruby Red for "three komalas in a trenchcoat"!
  12. Merry Christmas everyone who celebrates! And Happy Wednesday everyone else! 💖

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