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Azzie last won the day on May 30

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About Azzie

  • Birthday 05/16/1993

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    Calcenon City (also, Canadaland)

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  • Discord
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  1. I definitely didn't forget! I'd like to additionally nom @Khrona and @Winter for Sovereign! @smeargletail for our lovely King And @SailorMercury and @𝒞𝓁𝑒𝓉𝓉𝑒 for Queens!
  2. The event has ended! Thanks to everyone who came and participated! Come one, come all! Reborn's annual Summer Social swings into town on Saturday, June 26th! For anyone who's new around here- or just hasn't attended one of our parties before- I'll give you a brief rundown! Reborn has two parties each year- the Winter Revel and the Summer Social. And given that I don't see any snow around (not here, at least- you folks in the southern hemisphere probably have a different story) it must be time for the Summer Social! We'll have music, games, movie showings, and Reborn Royalty, all hosted in a special dedicated party server! So, without further ado... the Main Events! Main Movie Feature: Kiki's Delivery Service Every year we do a group anime movie showing during the party! This year, we'll be watching Kiki's Delivery Service from director Hayao Miyazaki! (It turns out a surprising number of Rebornians haven't seen it yet!) Plus, now that Discord allows up to 50 people in a broadcast, it's easier than ever to join! Below is the description for Kiki's Delivery Service: Risk Reborn Last year's debut event, Risk Reborn is back and better than ever! We'll be improving the game based on last year's test run, with a focus on speeding things up so it doesn't take quite so long. For any newcomers: You might be familiar with the classic world domination game! But isn't the world just a little big? At this party, join with Team Meteor or one of their opposing factions and fight for conquest over a Reborn Map divided into territories! You are the armies and the tacticians! Reborn Royalty The popularity contest returns! Vote for your favorites for Ember King, Midsummer Queen, and Sunlit Sovereign Nominations will open about a week before the party! Anyone can be nominated for any category! Except last years' winners, Marcello, Chxxo, Azzie, Ruby, Posty, Cera and Ceri. We cannot be nominated because we are too cool for your noms. And 5/7 are busy helping with the party anyway. Voting will be done the day of the party! Game Room Curses Battle it out in a free-for-all Q&A as each player stacks up more and more 'curses' restricting how they can type! Spite other players with creative curses to knock them out! These games go so far off the rails it's hard to see where the tracks even were to begin with! Mad Libs We'll be kicking things off this summer with an <adjective> game of Mad Libs, turning these parts of speech into a party of speech! Everyone in the group will get a chance to contribute whatever <adjective> kind of <noun> they wish so put on your <verb ending in ing> hats and get ready to <verb> this stuff up! Party Quirk Battle Royale Everything must be a battle royale and that includes Who's Line's classic Party Quirk game! Everyone is assigned a Secret Quirk to act out in chat while they try and guess the other players' quirks! If your quirk is guessed, you're out! Last man standing is the winner! BNHA fans still don't interact Never Have I Lights dim, the sun's done, but the fun's not! Stay up late with us-- our soul-baring Never Have I sessions are a breath of fresh life into the late night party! What happens here stays here, so make sure to stay tuned for it! Free For All As always, you, our lovcly community members, are free and encouraged to host your own events!, Past parties have had many, including Among Us, Mafia Games, CaH, Jackbox games, and of course the ubiquitous fan favorite Reborn Hunger Games. Our custom Hunger Games setup, made by our lovely Zumi, will be positively coursing through our server and you know we're all curious who's going to become the victors! (And I'm personally going to be watching to see who is a meanie and punts a Shaymin. Just. I just want to talk.) Our lovely DJ G'doots, who never makes us wait for him, is here to spread the greatest tunes this side of Teila Resort! At many of our parties, there is a Reborn Wonder Trade Fiesta going on at the same time! It's a great time to gather up your breedjects and send them off in search of new homes, and see what new Pokemon friends you can find! The splashdown starts on June 26th! Everyone is welcome whether you're a community veteran, a bright and bushy-tailed newbie, or a lurker who's never said a word before! The party is the perfect time to jump in and meet folks! See you there! ♥
  3. Happy birthday, Azzie. Take your time of happiness.

  4. Happy Birthday Azzie! I hope you'll have a wonderful day 😄🎂

    1. SilverAngelus


      Happy Birthday Azzie! I hope you have a sparkling day ahead of you and that you enjoy something yummy~ 😋🎂🎉

  5. Let! Creators! Make! Things! That! Make! Them! Happy! (and be! patient!)
  6. okay it's my turn now! MOTY: Crim, Chxxo, Newt ROTY: Toothpastefairy Sugarpop: Ame, Newt Kawaii: Caddy Auspicious Auth: ICSW, Marcello Most Helpful Content Creator: Cass, for her magic squares guide Memer: Azery, Scythe Profile Pic: Crim Crazy Conspirator: Azery, Ceri Emoji: Crim Himbo: Jarred Needs A Hug: Newt, Ame, Cass Cinnamoroll: Posty, Ice, Ame Madame X: Zumi, Cass Most Likely to Be Auth: Ama, Bibs Wallflower: Dream, Ikaru 2020 Superstar: Crim Impostor: Posty, Ruby Never Gonna Give You Up: Hycrox
  7. Welcome, one and all, to the (slightly late, I'm sorry) nominations for the Reborn 2020 Member of the Year awards! If you've attended our Winter Revels before, this should be familiar to you! But if not, I'll explain briefly. Every year, we open nominations for a variety of categories. You can nominate as many users as you like, for as many categories as you like. However! Different from past years, we have three changes: -Please no nominations that are just "____ for everything!" -Winners of last year's awards are not eligible to win this year for the same category. You're more than welcome to nominate anyone for any other categories, however- while Azery can't be nominated for Smelliest Auth this year, you're all free to call him a big memer! -In past years, we've had an Artist Of The Year and Writer Of The Year award. This year, we decided to do something different. On the day of the party, we'll be opening a Creative Gallery where everyone can post 1-3 things they've made this year that they're most proud of. We're hoping this encourages more people to contribute- there are more forms of creativity than just writing and drawing, and we want to celebrate all the many creative people in our community! Nominations are open as of this posting, and will be open until December 17th. Voting will take place all day on December 18th, and at the Winter Revel on the 19th we'll announce the winners! Voting will take place on Reborn's Discord server, so please join up if you haven't already! Categories are as follows, and this post will be updated as people are nominated! Member of the Year The big, the classic-- this is for the member who's made the biggest splash with the sharpest shine! Nominees: -Cass -Brave -Adrian -Caz -Nicki -Ceratisa -Posty -Crim -Chxxo -Newt -Khrona -Bluetowel -Azzie -Ceri -Arnie Rookie of the Year For the most upstart and standout member who arrived this year! Nominees: -Arnie -Crim -Yume -Cerise -Ceratisa -Toothpastefairy -Newt -Goose -Mercury -Storm Comeback of the Year For the most beloved member who returned to us this year after a long absence! Nominees: -Brave -Sini/Hexagon -Caz -Huggy -Kaito -Soloclus The Carmen Sandiego Award For the face since missing in action that we'd most want to see in the crowd once more! Nominees: -Chubb -Trevore -Kaito -Ice -Skitty -Maelstrom -Neil -Rosesong The Sugarpop Sunbeam Award For the member this year who's been sweeter than any candy store could hope to be! Nominees: -Crim -Nicki -Ruby -Candy -Kyle -Chxxo -Amethyst -Newt -Cera -Starry The K-K-K-Kawaii Award For the super-cutest member who's been around this year! Nominees: -Kyra -Everyone's Pets -Chxxo -Ruby -Crim -Yume -Cerise -Azzie -Ceratisa -Hellscythe -Ama (ZEL) -ICSW -Caddy -Drago -Hexa -Nicki -cass. The Auspicious Auth Award For the most helpful staff member who's been around to help out this year! this is definitely not a thinly veiled performance review. Nominees: -Starry -Ceratisa -Posty -Cass -Abyss -ICSW -Marcello -Amethyst -Cera -Azzie -Brave The Smelliest Auth Award For the auth member who, regardless of conduct, most desperately needs to take a shower! Nominees: -Posty -Brave -Marcello -Zumi -Godot -Azzie Most Helpful Content Creator Award For the member whose mod/videos/walkthroughs have rescued you through the most sticky situations! Nominees: -Icy Tails -Bluetowel -Cass -Lostelle -ICSW Memer of the Year For the member who's posted the freshest, most crispy clean memes this year! Nominees: -90skid -Robotnik -Caz -Ame2 -Kyle -Quinn -Azery -Hellscythe Dorkiest Dork Award This description has been removed due to creative disagreements among the writers of this thread. Nominees: -Bibs -Khrona -Nicki -Soloclus -Cass -Azery -Brave -Ceratisa -Crim The Profile Picture Perfection Award For the member who's had the best avatars around this year! Nominees: -Bluetowel -Posty -Kenneth -Adrian -Hellscythe -Ikaru -Ruby -Fezz -Nicki -Crim -Azzie The Craziest Conspirator Award For the member who just knows, man. Nominees: -Nicki -Node15 -Ricki -Bibs -Ame2 -Azery -Cerise -Soloclus Emoji Excellence Award For the member who's wowed us all with creative use of emoji this year! Nominees: -Sleepy Goblin -Punch -Ruby -Newt -Crim -Candy -Cad Smollest Bean For the member who is just so smol and pure. Nominees: -Azzie -Cerise -Ruby -Chxxo -Bibs -Crim -Caddy Archbishop of Banterbury For the member with the best banter on the block! Nominees: -Nicki -Newt -Brave -Ceratisa -Bibs -Amethyst -Rotherfucking Jorcerer Biggest Grumpy of the Year For the >:(est member around this year! (All in fun, of course!) Nominees: -Cass -Kyle -Godot -Khrona The Pointedest Poindexter Award For the biggest NERD this year! Nominees: -Azery -Kyle -Adrian -Ame -Mindlack -Arkhi -Cass -Swamp -Mercury -Wendel The Hippest Himbo Award For everyone's favourite himbo (or herbo, or thembo)! Nominees: -Alex -Psosty -Kyle -Jarred -Huggy -Brave Coolest Clown in Town For the member that's the entire circus! Nominees: -Zumi -Bibs -Posty -Crim -Hexa -Marcello -Khrona -Jan Most In Need Of A Hug For the member who just really needs a hug right away! Nominees: -The Emotional Support Channel -Cass -Ruby -Crim -Ceratisa -Nicki -Mercury -Cerise -Brave -Khrona -Amethyst -Newt -Bluetowel -Yumi -Tim -Arnie -Ikaru Supportive Cinnamon Roll For the member who is an actual cinnamon roll and always tried to support others! Nominees: -Starry -Bluetowel -Azzie -Cass -Kyle -Mercury -Ceratisa -Crim -Ikaru -Posty -Ice -Amethyst -Gardevoir Most Likely To Be Madame X For the member who has secretly been the primary antagonist of Rejuvenation this whole time. Nominees: -Kyle -Ruby -Azzie -Jan -Zumi -Cass -Caz -Caddy Most Likely to Become Auth For the most helpful member who should totally be on the team! this is definitely not a thinly-veiled screening process. Nominees: -Bluetowel -Huggy -Arnie -Crim -Ama -Bibs -Ikaru Most Likely to Become Champion For the member most likely to take the ranks when another gym leader champion inevitably dies or something! Nominees: -Quinn -Bibs -Brave -Goose -Adrian Most Likely to Take Over the World For the member most poised to overpower society as we know it! Nominees: -Ama (ZEL) -Bibs -Ceratisa -Posty -Brave -Cass Wonderfullest Wallflower For the member whose presence is quiet, but beloved. Nominees: -Caddy -Hellscythe -ICSW -Azzie -Yume -Candy -Punch -Dream -Ikaru -Soloclus -Cerise -Drago -Hexa -Ceratisa -Crim -Starry -Bluetowel -Mercury Most Likely to Start a Religious Cult For the member you'd most quickly offer your soul to in a ritual of deepest darkness! Nominees: -Cass -Sleepy Goblin and Storm -Brave -Bibs -Evi Crystal -Wendel -Godot -Ruby (about Douma) -Caz -Nicki -Khrona -Ikaru Apocalypse 2020 Superstar It's been a year. For the member who's managed to make the most of it! Nominees: -Ame -Kyle -Brave -Ruby -Crim -Caz Most Likely to Have Just Been A Dream All Along What is a dream? For the member who's what dreams are made of. Nominees: -Dream -Mercury -Ice -Bibs -Caz (Jarred) Most Likely to Win the Reborn Hunger Games For the member who's most likely to escape the wrath of Tree! Nominees: -Cerise -Zumi -Tree -Kyle -Chxxo -Aeodyn -ICSW Most Likely to Be Impostor For the member who's pretty sus, tbh. Nominees: -Bibs -ICSW -Caddy -Khrona -Punch -Abyss -Aldo -Kiet -Posty -Ruby -Caddy -Ceratisa -Wendel -Nicki -Goose -Fezz Most Likely to be Adopted by a Staff Member For the member who's likely to find a new parental unit in Reborn's auth team! Nominees: -Cerise -Chxxo -Mercury -Yume -Everyone Who Already Has -Crim -Arnie Most Likely to Win Third Place Self-explanatory. Nominees: -Dream -Azery -Posty -Ikaru -Bibs -Khrona -Storm -Bluetowel -Hexagon Member Most Likely to Never Give You Up For the member who would never let you down, nor run around, nor desert you! Nominees: -Caddy -Bibs -Cass -Skid -Brave -Arkhi -Azzie -Posty -Hycrox -Crim -Nicki -King -Goose I-it's Not Like I Wanted to Win or Anything Award This member isn't tsundere or anything, b-baka!! Nominees: -Nicki -Alex -Cerise -Bibs -Posty -Caddy -Amethyst cass Cna't Spel Awrad Fro thh menber taht jsut dosnt kno hwo 2 wrods! Nominees: -Alex -Storm -Adrian -Lia -Nicki -Wendel -Kam -Cass -Goose -Amethyst Award Award Award Award award award award award award award award award award award award award award award Nominees: -Hellscythe -Mercury -Arnie -Jan -Abyss -Every Staff Member Ever -Ame -Crim -Caddy -The Entirety Of Reborn -Kyra -Bluetowel's Cats -Newt -BIGFriv -Glow -Lumi
  8. (Please note that the bit about Taka wanting to bury himself in the sand and do nothing is courtesy of our lovely Ame and not me!) Day 17 Faith woke Romi the next morning, her cold, wet nose against their cheek. They opened their eyes and the first thing they saw was her, looming over them. The instant she saw Romi wake up she let out a happy bark, and shifted backward to let them sit up. Taka was still sound asleep, but most of his Pokemon- all except Gliscor and Minior- had gathered together with Romi’s around something on the ground. They all seemed puzzled. Romi barely had time to register this before something bumped their leg from beneath the sand, and they rolled quickly and silently out of the way. A small whine sounded, and Faith let out a little bark of laughter as Romi looked back where they had been a moment earlier. Nino shook the sand off his head and shot Romi a wounded look. “Sorry,” Romi said. “Here.” They held out a hand and Nino ran to it, butting his head against it. “Gib,” he whined. The sound attracted the other Pokemon’s attention, and they looked around. Chatot happened to see Romi and Nino, and with a little crow he hopped over toward them. The others quickly followed, and with a grunt of alarm Nino hopped onto Romi’s lap and sat there, looking up at them. “Hey, it’s okay,” they said. To the other Pokemon, who had hurried over to them, they said, “Everyone, this is Nino. He’s a bit shy.” Nino grumbled nervously, but the presence of his Trainer seemed to calm him a bit; he shivered only slightly as Klefki chirped a greeting and Shimmer sniffed him, and when Faith patted his head with her paw he actually looked happy. Romi’s face lit up with pride at their new friend’s courage, and as Nino relaxed a bit Romi was able to say good morning to the other Pokemon, some of whom were trying to get their attention too. “Chatot, what the heck!” Romi turned and laughed softly. Taka was sitting up, and based on the look on Chatot’s face, he had just woken him up. “Morning,” they said. “Morning,” Taka repeated. “Hey, Chatot, did Romi put you up to this?” Chatot clucked with laughter, and Romi shook their head. “That was all him. Everyone else just realized Nino’s out and about.” Nino waved a paw at Taka, and he grinned. “Hey, buddy. Good for you.” The little crowd dispersed then, most of them wandering over to greet Taka, and Nino hopped off Romi’s lap and went to grab a Berry from the pile. After a brief detour to let Taka pet her, Betty went along with Nino, and before long Pokemon and Trainers alike were munching and relaxing. Taka suggested taking off before the sun rose too high, and Romi agreed readily, so they let their Pokemon play while they packed up the Berries into their bags and collected some more leaves for later fires. Faith dove into the pool for one last swim, and Madison and Chatot raced around the trees. “Hey, Ro, when we were talking about Light Shards last night, did you happen to see where the one for this place is? Assuming there’s one here?” Taka asked. Romi shook their head. “I sort of looked, but I didn’t see it. It must be farther along.” They finished packing, and with a few gentle words each recalled their Pokemon to their Balls. Taka scattered the remnants of the fire pit with his shoe, and then they were off, walking slowly around the pond as Romi looked carefully for any signs. Finally, after half an hour of walking, Romi spotted it- a golden glow in the water that didn’t quite match the sunlight’s reflection. They stepped closer, and sure enough, a golden shard gleamed about two feet below the water’s surface. Taka watched Romi peer into the water, the tips of their shoes just barely avoiding getting wet, and made a face. “Is it actually in there?” “Right there,” Romi pointed uselessly. “…Hey, Taka, come over here?” He obliged, standing next to Romi and looking where they were looking, but he still couldn’t see anything. “Sorry, Ro, all I see is dirt. And water.” “No, it’s just- here.” They waded into the pond, not stopping until the water was nearly waist high. “I want to try something.” Taka didn’t miss the implication, and he shook his head. “Romi, I’m not exactly a water kind of guy. I’m pretty sure I’d sink like a rock if I tried to swim.” “You don’t have to swim. I just… what would happen if we both touched it, at the same time? It’s right by my foot, it isn’t deep here.” Romi glanced down, then back over at Taka. “You don’t have to, I just… wonder.” Taka removed his shoes, wondering why Romi hadn’t thought to do the same, and shook his head. “Remember I touched it before and it didn’t do anything,” he said as he waded in. The water was cool, and he bent down to douse his scarf before walking out to Romi. “Good idea,” Romi smiled, nodding at the scarf. “I just wondered if we both touched it at the same time, what would happen. Maybe nothing. Or maybe… not.” “I’m kinda curious too,” Taka admitted. “Where exactly is it, again?” “There,” Romi pointed again, right in front of their shoe. “On three?” “Sure,” Taka said. “One…” “Two…” “Three!” They both leaned forward. Taka watched Romi’s hand and aimed for the same place. It happened quickly. Their fingers brushed together under the water, and then Taka felt something warm and pleasant jolt from beneath his hand and spread through his body. And it may have been a trick of the sunlight, but he could have sworn he saw gold behind his eyes, for a split second. And then the lake was gone, and the gold was gone, and the only proof that it had been there was his and Romi’s soaking wet clothes and a gentle feeling of health settling through him. Romi was watching his face carefully. “What happened?” Taka stared. “Romi… is that what it’s like, every time?” He looked down at his hand again, wonderingly. Romi’s eyes widened. “You felt it?” “I felt something,” Taka said. “It was… warm. And happy. And I saw something golden, for a second. I think it worked, Ro.” Romi’s face broke into a smile. “That’s great. I wondered if maybe it would change anything, but…” “I honestly didn’t think anything would happen,” Taka admitted. “But… Ro, that was incredible. My hand’s still kind of tingling. And I’m just… happy. I’m not sure whether that’s the Shard or just being glad I could actually feel it, though, haha.” The smile of pure wonder on Taka’s face was beautiful. Romi was struck by it. They felt their own face grow bright with the sheer happiness of it. “I’m so glad,” they said. “Me too,” Taka grinned. “I can’t…” He trailed off. “Romi, do you see that?” Romi turned to follow his gaze. A single palm tree, not far off from where they stood- near enough that it must have been part of the oasis. And it was still there. “That’s weird,” he said. “Do you think it was both of us touching the Shard that did that?” Romi frowned. “Why would it just leave one tree?” “I guess,” Taka said. “Maybe it was already here? When the oasis sprung up, I mean? So it wasn’t connected to the Light Shard in the first place.” Romi looked thoughtful. “It does look pretty big.” “It kind of does. Hey, let’s go check it out before the sun dries us off too much.” They took off quickly at first, but both quickly discovered that the added weight of drenched pants- and, in Romi’s case, shoes- made a difference in running, and slowed down. As they got closer to the tree, it was clear that they’d been right about it being ‘pretty big’. It stretched up, and by the time they reached its base the tree towered over them. “This has to’ve been the tallest one,” Taka said, staring up at it. “…I think it’s the one Komala was in.” “I think you’re right,” Romi agreed. “I wonder how old it is.” “Gotta be pretty old, if it’s this big.” Taka leaned against the trunk, looking up at the leaves and fruits far above his head. “It’s a nice one.” “Nino liked it,” Romi said. “I don’t know if he ever really saw a tree before, living in- Taka, move!” Taka frowned. “What’s up?” Romi pointed above his head. “Look.” Taka looked up. The tree- tree?- was bending, arching its trunk as the top stretched closer and closer to the two. Taka scrambled away from the trunk and toward Romi, but the tree simply stretched out further, until the leaves were drooping down and the three fruits- which they could see now had faces- were on eye level. It was smiling at them. “Um. Hi?” Taka said. “Hi,” Romi echoed. “Cuu!” The sound the Exeggutor made was somewhere between a rumble and a roar, with a faint whistle to its voice, and its tone sounded curious. “I’m sorry we took away your oasis,” Romi said. “Yeah, and I’m sorry Komala was sleeping on you yesterday,” Taka added, realizing. “He just really likes to climb, but-” Exeggutor’s face lit up with excitement, and it let out another cry. The ground began to tremble, and Taka stepped back again as the tremor grew to a shake, and then a quake. Sand began to fly around the Pokemon as the quake went on, and both Taka and Romi had to brace themselves to avoid falling over. After a short time, however, the shaking died down, and as the sand settled once more they could see that the Exeggutor had completely unearthed itself. “…Huh,” Taka said. “Well, I can’t really blame you. I, too, would love to bury myself half-underground and do nothing for hours on end.” “You practically have,” Romi deadpanned. Taka looked down and laughed. The sand Exeggutor had displaced was sticking to every inch of Taka’s clothes that had gotten wet. He wasn’t the only one. “I guess we’re all in the sand club,” he shrugged, still grinning, and when Romi noticed how covered they also were, they were set off laughing too. Exeggutor joined in, its laughter coming in heavy waves that nearly shook the ground on their own. Romi grinned. “You’re awfully friendly.” “Torr,” Exeggutor said. Now that he was uncovered from the sand, they could see his tail whipping back and forth behind him, and as if to prove Romi’s point the Exeggutor stuck his faces between the two Trainers and smiled. “Pretty cute,” Taka agreed. “…Hey. Romi, you’re probably gonna tell me I didn’t think this through, but… what if we brought him with us?” Exeggutor’s tail wagged faster. “I mean, he gets along with Komala, and we did kind of just steal his home.” Taka gestured around to where the oasis had been, and turned to Exeggutor. “Would you want to come?” “Torr! Tor!” The great Pokemon shifted from foot to foot in excitement, pounding the sand each time, and he nudged Taka with his faces. Romi smiled softly. “Sounds like he’s already adopted you,” they said. “Haha. All right, big guy, here.” Taka pulled out a Great Ball, and tossed it against the Pokemon’s trunk. Exeggutor was drawn inside, and the ball wobbled once after hitting the sand before it settled closed. “…Wow,” Taka said, after a few moments. “Hm?” “I honestly didn’t expect it to be that easy,” he said, staring at the ball on the sand. “It was kind of an impulse, but… I sort of felt bad for him.” “He probably counted on that,” Romi grinned. “He definitely seemed happy to have some company, and did you see that dance when you asked if he wanted to come?” “Yeah,” Taka smiled. “It was pretty cute.” “It was.” Taka stooped down to pick up the Pokeball, clipped it to his belt, and shrugged. “Well, guess it’s time to get going again.” They set off once more, following the direction of the sunrise and veering north. The coolness from the water on their clothes was a welcome relief for as long as it lasted- which was sadly not very long, in the scorching sun. After a couple of hours, Romi stopped walking abruptly and turned to Taka. “We got off course somehow.” Taka turned to the mountains and frowned. “I thought they should’ve been closer. I guess… that sandstorm the other day, maybe? Or was it yesterday? I’ve completely lost track of time out here.” “I’m not sure,” Romi shrugged. “It kind of blends together. But you’re right, I think it must’ve been the sandstorm.” “Hopefully we didn’t pass the Gym.” Romi’s eyes widened for a moment before they shook their head. “Once we get closer, past the dunes, it’ll be easier to see if there’s anything back that way.” Taka nodded. “Shouldn’t take too long to get back.” Without any further discussion, they stopped heading north and simply focused on walking due east, dodging around some of the larger sand hills and scaling the smaller ones. Shortly before dusk, a wind picked up, and with it, a cloud of sand; fortunately the shadow of the mountain was near enough now that the two Trainers could still use it to guide their way. After a few hours, the wind faded, and Taka and Romi used the last traces of daylight to make camp next to a massive boulder half-covered by sand, near enough to the mountain that only a few low dunes lay between them. This time, when Romi released their Pokemon, Nino was among them. The others seemed to have learned their lesson from the morning; Faith nosed Nino gently and Shimmer whistled in greeting, but they all gave the little Gible space, and in turn Nino seemed relaxed and happy. Taka released his team next- all but one. “Okay, guys, I made a new friend this morning. He’s kind of big. But I think you’ll all get along okay.” He addressed Romi’s Pokemon, too, and they looked to Romi with curiosity. Their Trainer simply smiled. Taka activated the Great Ball. The beam of light shot upwards like a flare, and with a yawn, Exeggutor appeared. “Torr?” “Ko!” Komala had already begun to doze off, nestling up against Gliscor’s tail, but at Exeggutor’s cry his eyes opened. And with clear excitement, the little Pokemon scampered over to sit by the giant’s feet. Exeggutor made a sound- Taka couldn’t interpret it from so far up- and turned his body slightly, Komala sitting patiently as he did. He shifted until the tiny head on his tail was near enough to Komala to see him properly. The moment it did, it began to wag. Exeggutor shifted from one foot to the other in excitement, and Taka stepped out of the way as the great creature bent its neck to bring its heads closer. Komala reached up, and when Exeggutor’s heads were near enough to properly see the little Pokemon, all of them were smiling broadly. He made a sound like a yawn and a rumble as Komala actually hopped, not quite reaching the bigger Pokemon. Taka looked from one to the other before picking Komala up and holding him at eye level with Exeggutor. Exeggutor rubbed his nearest face against Komala’s fuzzy cheek, and Komala purred. “So, uh. I guess you know each other?” “Ko! Ko!” Komala wriggled out of Taka’s grasp and climbed onto his head, and began chattering to Exeggutor. The bigger Pokemon made soft sounds in response, and Taka simply stood there. “Romi, you seeing this?” Romi, who had been grinning since Komala sat next to Exeggutor, walked over to stand near Taka. “Must’ve met last night.” “So Komala knew,” Taka mused. “That makes it easier, I guess. Maybe that’s why he liked us.” Exeggutor hummed, and lowered his faces slightly so that the nearest one could lick Taka’s cheek. Romi burst out laughing. “What-” Taka started, shock and alarm written across his features. A brief pause, and he relaxed, grinning. “Heh. Well, welcome to the team, big guy. Apparently you’re among friends.” “Cu cu,” Exeggutor said happily. They built their fire quickly, and spent the rest of the evening munching on Berries and watching Nino and Exeggutor- Eggs, Taka had taken to calling him- get used to the rest of their Pokemon. It was a surprisingly smooth integration; even apart from Komala, the others were relaxed around the giant, and by the time they settled in for the night Taka began to wonder if he and Romi had been the only ones not to know Exeggutor was there. He turned to ask Romi, but they were sound asleep already. Their hand was loose on the sand- for a change, no Pokemon had ducked under it or on it- and Taka remembered the morning, how they had both touched the Light Shard at the same instant. How Romi had tried, repeatedly, to let him feel its warmth, and how it had worked this time. The memory brought back the sense of wellbeing and happiness, and in his drowsy state he realized that it had been there in the background of his mind all day. As he fell asleep, he made a mental note to ask Romi in the morning why they hadn’t told him Light Shards kept working over time.
  9. Pokemon Reborn: oarental guidance advised

  10. Happy timezone, everyone! As we make our way through November, the staff team at Reborn has been working on a few things to (hopefully) make this community a better place for everyone. To this end... 1. Rules Update! Reborn has been around, in some form or another, for a long time now. And while the rules have undergone some changes over that time, it's been quite a while, and we felt like it was time to take another look at them. People have mentioned that some parts of the rules aren't entirely clear, and we've found a few outdated things and some things which weren't stated, but should be. As a team we've gone over these community guidelines, and come up with a new, improved version! The updated rules can be found here, or by viewing the 'Guidelines' tab under Home. It's a very good idea to give these a read. 2. Forum Cleanup! As well as the rules, the forums themselves are getting a little bit of a revamp. Several sections have been merged due to activity and for the sake of tidiness. As Discord activity grows (10,000 users as of today!) we want to work with the community and make the transition from the forums being a place of active discussion and toward them being more of a support structure for the discord community. If you have any questions about specific forum changes, please don't hesitate to ask! And now we move on to what's almost certainly the most exciting update; 3. Starlight Divide Demo! There was an announcement earlier, but in case you missed it, Starlight Divide's public beta starts on Monday! Starlight is Amethyst's beautiful new tactical RPG, and she and her team have been hard at work preparing this demo for you! (Speaking as someone who's played this demo, it's absolutely amazing and I think you'll all really enjoy it!) Until then, please look forward to it!
  11. Day 16 They resumed their journey toward the tree the next morning, and for a while it seemed as though little had changed from the day before. The weather remained clear, but the tree they sought did not seem to get any closer. Until, after a couple of hours, it was suddenly not the only tree they saw. A second tall, spiky shape appeared, even farther away than the first. Taka and Romi turned to each other at the same moment to point it out, and they both grinned. They kept walking, and a few more trees appeared on the horizon. As they drew closer, and the trees became a cluster of green in the distance, Taka’s smile grew wider and wider. Romi stayed quiet, until at last there could be no more doubt: an oasis lay ahead. Then they too broke into a grin, and picked up speed. Taka was quick to follow suit. “Good thing you didn’t head out on your own for food,” he said. “Especially after that storm,” Romi agreed. “Faith’ll be happy.” “Oh, yeah, keep back if you don’t want to get soaked,” Romi laughed. “I’m not going to stop her.” “Honestly, I’m not sure you could anyway.” “Maybe not.” They reached the edge of the oasis around noon, and the first thing Romi did was let Faith out of her Pokeball. She whooped in delight and threw herself into the pool, splashing Romi and making Taka laugh through his mouthful of Liechi Berry. It was contagious, and Romi sank to the ground, laughing as they clicked the buttons on their Pokeballs to release Madison, Betty and Shimmer. Taka released his own Pokemon, still watching Faith with amusement. The familiar atmosphere set Romi at ease. They munched on a Berry as well, and Faith swam up and watched as Romi refilled their water bottles. They were nearly all empty. It took nearly half an hour to refill them all, and all the while they breathed with quiet relief that they had not run out. Looking around, Shimmer and Betty were gathering Berries, apparently on their own initiative, and Chatot and Madison were playing noisily in the underbrush. Taka was walking around picking up twigs and sticks, and from what Romi could see Klefki was trying to help, slashing at low plants with his keys. Romi ruffled Faith’s hair, passed her a Berry, and went to help collect more food. They gathered as they walked, once more turning their sweater into a satchel for the little fruits. There were fat, ripe Liechi Berries, whose leaves looked useful for tying things, and low bushes dotted with hearty Sitrus Berries. Romi grabbed every one they could find and put them together in the sweater. By the time they reached the pile their Pokemon had been making, the sweater was nearly half filled and heavy with fruit. “Mrr,” Shimmer hummed, tugging on it with her psychic power when she saw Romi. When they held on, Shimmer effortlessly picked Romi up as well. “Now you’re showing off,” Romi laughed. “Okay, okay.” They relinquished their grip, and Shimmer set them gently on the ground with a small giggle. They patted her head, and Betty’s too when she ran over. The three worked together to pick berries until Romi’s sweater was full, and then Shimmer at last set it down next to the pile she and Betty had made. By then, Chatot and Madison had wandered over, and were munching happily. Romi picked up one of the leaves from Chatot’s Liechi. The little bird ignored them completely, intent on his lunch, so Romi took the other leaf as well. They felt pliable and strong in their hands. “Hey, Betty?” “Rade?” Betty asked. “Where’s your medal?” With a little hop, Betty ran over to a tree nearby and bent down. The shiny bit of copper glinted in her buds as she ran back to show her Trainer. “Hmm.” Romi held out their hand, and Betty placed the medallion in it, watching them curiously. They held up the Liechi leaves, looking for a place to thread one through. There were ornamental designs carved into the trinket, but no holes. So Romi instead began wrapping the leaf around it, crisscrossing it and looping it around the second leaf before tying it securely. They hoped the leaf would dry that way. The second leaf they held at either end, showing Betty as her medallion hung from it, tied with the first leaf. Betty squealed, hopping and sticking out her head so Romi could tie it loosely around her neck. They did so, and when they had finished, the wrapped medallion hung nicely on Betty’s stomach. She trilled with delight and ran toward the pool, Romi smiling after her until they felt Chatot’s weight on their foot, and squatted down to pet him. “Hi Romi,” Chatot said. “Hello, Chatot,” Romi nodded. “Good Berry?” The little bird bobbed his head up and down, and Romi laughed softly. Chatot clicked his beak in disapproval. “Sorry,” Romi said. Chatot gave a dignified whistle and leaned closer to be petted more. Multiple sets of footsteps crunched behind Romi, and they turned to see Betty scurrying back, Taka and Klefki following behind her. Taka was laughing, Klefki jingling softly beside him. When Chatot saw them, he nipped Romi affectionately on the finger and flew up to his Trainer’s shoulder. “Hey, buddy,” he said, gently fluffing the feathers atop Chatot’s head. “Hey, guys. Wondered what everyone was doing over here.” “Just getting Berries,” Romi said, gesturing to their pile. “Oh, nice,” Taka said. “Wow.” Madison crowed and puffed out her chest feathers proudly. Shimmer levitated a Berry over and bounced it off Taka’s head until he took it, laughing, and squatted down to give it to Klefki. Shimmer seemed satisfied at that, “Well, I’ve got the fire ready, but maybe I should just bring the sticks over here. It’s a nice spot.” “Where did you set up?” Romi asked. “A bit closer to the water,” he said. “Faith was… helping.” Romi laughed. “Wouldn’t be bad to go check it out, I think Faith would feel better if we were closer.” He led Romi- and Madison, who hopped after them- back to where they’d first entered, where two palm trees stood side by side almost like a gateway up against the grass of the oasis. Komala had climbed up the taller of the two, and appeared to be dozing. Gliscor and Minior were huddled together where the grass met deeper foliage, sound asleep, and Taka had set his fire-pile up near the water’s edge. As he had said, a few of the sticks in the pile looked soggy and wet. Romi smiled. He hadn’t wanted to hurt Faith’s feelings, either. “Looks nice,” they said. “You think? Those two just kind of dozed off, I just worked near them.” He jerked his head toward Gliscor and Minior. Gliscor shifted slightly in his sleep, and Taka grinned. Romi nodded, smiling too. “It’s perfect.” They looked down at Madison, who had followed them over. “What do you think?” Madison squawked and rubbed her head against Romi’s hand. They moved the Berries, Shimmer carrying most of them on her own, and Romi tucked the discarded leaves from the already-eaten Berries into their bag. When they had deposited the food safely on the grass, Romi waded into the pond, and Taka stretched out in the cool shade of the palm trees. After a while, Romi left the pond and began sorting through their bag. As the sun sank lower in the sky and the shadows of the palms deepened and stretched, Faith climbed up on the shore, and Gliscor slowly awoke, poking Minior with his tail when his teammate failed to stir. Minior jolted up with an alarmed hum, and Madison, who was watching, squawked with laughter. Eventually, dusk settled over the oasis, and Chatot hopped over and set the sticks Taka had gathered alight. When Taka noticed, he yawned. "Guess we should eat something," he said, reaching into his bag. From it, he withdrew a weathered-looking clay pot, and set it on the ground. "Here. Romi, pass me a couple of those Sitrus?" Romi did. "From the cave?" They gestured to the pot, and Taka nodded. "Yeah. I picked it up while you were trying to catch Nino. I figured we could try cooking some Berries in it or something, but I haven't been able to wash it before now." “Good idea.” He sliced the Sitrus Berries up and dropped them in the pot, adding a Liechi Berry and pouring in a bit of water before setting the pot among the flames. Faith stuck her nose high in the air and sniffed, squealing with delight at the aroma. Before long, the smell grew strong enough that everyone else, Pokemon and human alike, could smell it too. It was a warm, fruity scent, and it was somewhat familiar to Romi. “This is like at the circus,” they realized, face lighting up. “Hot Berry tarts!” Shimmer was at their side quickly, nosing Romi’s hand with her snout. Romi laughed. “No, it just smells like them. There aren’t any here.” “Let’s hope this is a good substitute,” Taka said. “Here.” He pulled the pot off the fire and fanned it, then stirred. When he withdrew the stick, it held a bit of reddish berry mush, which quickly slipped off and fell back into the pot. “Maybe I should’ve brought a spoon,” Romi said, not quite managing to keep their amusement out of their voiice. “There’s not much need for cutlery in the desert usually,” Taka said fairly. “This’ll have to do.” He tilted the jug and scraped out a bit of the mixture onto a leaf. When he tasted it, he shrugged. “Bit sour, but not bad.” He doled out several more portions, Romi gathering extra leaves when he ran out. They agreed with his assessment, although they thought he might have been exaggerating with the sourness. It simply wasn’t as sweet as it smelled. They all ate in relative contentment. Minior loved the berry mixture, and most of the noise in the clearing was caused by his excited warbling and, after a while, his attempts to make more by repeatedly divebombing a Sitrus Berry that had rolled away from the pile. He and Chatot nibbled at it a bit, but the sand made it unappealing, and enough of the mush got on Minior’s stone shell that he shook himself free of it and pleaded with Faith until she hosed it off for him. Their Trainers and teammates watched, the same fond expression on both humans’ faces. “It’s weird,” Taka commented. “I’ve known Minior for about a year, but he’s never really… played like this. I guess it was hard to let everyone out in the bases, but… still. He’s really come out of his shell.” “How did…” Romi trailed off. “Taka.” They looked over to see him staring right back, a mischievous grin on his face. “Uh huh?” “You didn’t.” “I think I did,” he said, still grinning. “Taka!” They rubbed their face, laughter cracking through their voice. He watched, grin shifting to a softer smile. “Seriously, though, this is good for him. Honestly, I think it’s good for all of us. It’s nice.” “It is.” “I remember you said you used to go camping, how long ago was that? Uh. If you want to talk about it.” “It’s okay,” Romi shrugged. “Mostly when I was little. My parents used to take research trips, and I went sometimes. They taught me a few things, how to light fires, how to recognize Ursaring nests. Not Nuzleaf traps, though,” they laughed softly. “I figured.” Romi rolled their eyes at that. “It was a lot quieter, though. They were studying Pokemon habitats, so we always had to make sure we didn’t scare them away.” “Oh, huh. I don’t know anything about that stuff, but it sounds pretty cool,” Taka said. “Wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t my thing. I kept trying to make friends with the Pokemon they were trying to study.” Romi grinned. “I think most kids would.” Taka chuckled and shook his head. “Did it ever work out?” “Once,” Romi said. “A bunch of Swellow in Sinnoh. They ended up swarming our tent, I think people had been feeding them.” Madison stretched her neck over Romi’s shoulder and Chatot hopped onto their lap. Romi grinned and petted them both. “You two already ate.” “Fea,” Madison squawked, resting her head on Taka’s shoulder instead. He laughed, and gave her a pat. “I think birds are just like that about food, yeah. Oh, hey, speaking of, did you want to save some of that for Nino?” He waved his hand toward the pot. “I was thinking,” Romi nodded. “I’m not sure if he’ll go for it, He seems to like the crunchier Berries. I’ll see, though. This’ll be his first time seeing a pond.” Taka frowned. “Yeah, I guess. I wonder, there’s gotta be some kind of water source down there, for all those plants and Pokemon. Must be pretty deep underground, or we would’ve seen it. But I wonder if he has.” "Hm." Romi’s memory had been jostled at the mention of the cave, and the image of the Light Shard sitting mere feet away from the statue of Arceus came vividly into their mind once again. They promised themself they would bring it up to Taka sometime. They weren’t entirely sure why, beyond a strong underlying feeling that he deserved to know if there was a connection, but they didn’t relish the thought. They still weren’t sure what to make of it themself. Still, there did not seem to be any real reason not to bring it up, and so with a deep breath, they spoke. "Taka, do you remember when we were at that statue, and I saw the Light Shard?" His expression shifted, and Romi couldn’t quite make it out. “Yeah.” “Seeing it so close to the statue, I realized just how much it looks like Arceus’ rings,” Romi said quickly. “Like a piece of them. It could’ve been a piece of that statue, except the statue wasn’t broken and the Light Shard was glowing. They all look like that, I just hadn’t really had anything to compare before.” “...Okay?” Taka frowned. “What are you saying?” “...I don’t know,” Romi shrugged, putting their arm around Madison. The Fearow started, but leaned into the affection once she realized. “Just. They’re there. And it’s probably not a coincidence, because I never saw anything like that before coming to Reborn.” Taka took a deep breath, and then another. “It sounds… Romi, are you sure? Because you know I’m no devout follower of Arceus or anything, but I don’t remember my father or Elias ever saying anything like that. And… they would've. My father would have, anyway. He'd say it's just one more way I'm a disappointment." "It's not." Romi slumped forward a bit. "I don't think he sees them, either. He walked right by one once. It was the first time I met him." "Wait, really?" "Under the Grand Stairway," Romi said. "I just really thought they were such a common sight around here that he didn't bother. But now….he probably just didn't see. No idea about Elias, though." "If Elias saw something that looked like Arceus, he would've told you about it," Taka said, smirking a bit. "So that's… has anyone else seen them?" "I only remember one," Romi said. "Guy in Obsidia Slums. Told me what it was when I went through for the first time. Other than that, I'm not sure." And then, to Romi's surprise, Taka started laughing. "Sorry," he said through his laughter, "it's just… imagining Elias finding this out. It's kind of sad, really, but…" Romi relaxed slightly. "I never thought of that." "He'd make some kind of a speech," Taka said. "And we'd never hear the end of it. He'd want them all converted into shrines. My father would… probably just double down on getting people to leave, really, come to think of it." His laughter died out, and Klefki snuggled against his hand. "I really don't know what they are," Romi said quietly, sincerity in their voice. "They look like Arceus' rings, but they also look a bit like Unown. Don't those create illusions? For all we know, that's what made them." "Ro, I've seen what happens when you touch those things. I don't think it could heal you if it was an illusion." Romi shrugged. "Maybe. I'm just saying we don't know. I don't even really have an idea." "...Me either," Taka admitted. "But is it weird I'm glad it's not just me? That can't see the things, I mean. I don't really care about tradition or anything, but still… I'm glad it's not because there's something wrong with me, or something." "Not weird." Taka smiled softly. "...Thanks. And, uh, thanks for telling me about it. I remember you were acting kind of weird back there, in the cave. I guess it probably freaked you out too." "A bit." "So, uh… why didn’t you say something?” Taka asked. Romi shrugged. “Didn’t feel like the right time. Things were confusing enough in there.” “I guess,” Taka said. “...You could’ve, though. If it was bothering you." "After that, we started looking for Nino, and it slipped my mind," Romi said. "It just caught me off guard. It would've been worse for you." Taka actually grinned. "Romi, I've been dealing with weird Arceus stuff my entire life. Finding out your magic glowing stars might have some connection to it… shouldn't have even surprised me, really, but here we are. Anyway, it doesn't matter. You've been listening to me this whole time, if something's freaking you out you don't have to keep it quiet." Romi had been keeping their eyes on Madison's head in their lap as Taka spoke, and they kept them there still as their face grew warm. "...Thanks. So you're okay?" "What's one more weird happening?" Taka shrugged. "Maybe after everything, we can look into it. Find out what those things are. But for now, I'm really not worrying about it." Romi closed their eyes. "Then I’ll try not to, either.” The dusk had settled softly into night as they talked, and so had most of their Pokemon. Faith had made her way over to lay next between Taka and Romi, and Betty had snuggled up next to the Primarina’s paws. Shimmer was hum-snoring a short way away. Klefki had cuddled up just above Taka’s head. The only one out of sight was Komala- Gliscor and Minior were chasing each other some distance away, Minior’s bright glow a tell- and both Trainers had seen Komala hanging around the same high palm tree since they arrived at the oasis. It was a peaceful quiet, and apart from the distant sounds of Gliscor and Minior, there was very little sound. Until Romi felt a buzz at their side, and a moment later, Nino sprang out of his Pokeball. He sniffed the ground next to Romi’s leg, and then looked up. Romi. Madison and Taka were watching him silently, even the Fearow seeming to understand that Nino was easily startled. The Gible peered at the three of them curiously, tilted his head, and then sniffed the air. “Gib!” Still careful to be quiet, the two Trainers turned to watch as Nino scampered over to the pot, looked inside, and stuck his face in. Madison tilted her head in confusion as Romi shook with silent laughter. It was not a very large pot, and though Nino could stick his nose and mouth inside, the jet-fins on the side of his head prevented him from getting very far in. His little feet kicked in the air and his forelimbs scratched at the pot, until gravity caught up with him and sent both Gible and pot toppling over. He stood up indignantly and pawed at the pot again. When that didn’t work, he sat down and fixed Romi with a piteous look. “Gii?” “Excuse me,” Romi said quietly to Madison, face still pink from laughing. Madison hopped off Romi’s lap, stepped carefully over Faith and Betty, and flopped onto Taka’s knees. Taka began petting her, and she trilled quietly. “Here,” Romi said. They took the same stick Taka had used and scraped out what was left of the Berry goo onto a leaf. Nino sniffed at it briefly, and then with one bite devoured the leaf and everything on it. All that remained was a tiny smudge of pink, on the tip of his nose, and even that was gone a moment later when he licked his lips. “Gible,”: he said, looking happily at Romi. “You’re welcome,” they said, grinning. “If you’re still hungry, there’s some Berries over there.” Nino looked over, considered, and yawned. Instead, he waddled over to Taka, who was watching him with a smile while petting both of the Pokemon on his lap. "Hey," Taka said. "Was it good?" Nino nodded. "Bi gib!" "Nice," Taka said. He held out a hand. Nino sniffed it briefly and then butted it gently with his nose. Taka grinned, and looked over at Romi to make sure they were watching. The surprised smile on his face made Romi smile even more than they had been. "Thanks, little guy," he said. Nino made a happy sound and waddled back over to Romi before yawning again. This time, Romi caught it, and when they yawned Taka did too. "I guess everyone's tired," Romi said, glancing around. “Guess so,” Taka agreed, gesturing toward Gliscor and Minior. “I should probably say goodnight to those two before sleeping, though. And maybe check on Komala. Pretty sure he’s already asleep, though.”. “I can check on them,” Romi offered. “You look… comfortable.” Taka looked down at the sleeping bird Pokemon on his lap, shook his head, and grinned. “You guys are so spoiled. Okay, Romi, thanks.” Romi smiled, too. “Okay, Nino, let’s go say good night to everyone.” With only a little hesitation, Nino followed them. Komala was exactly where he’d been the last time Romi saw him, clinging to the tallest palm tree. Nino peered up along with Romi, and when Romi glanced down, the little Gible was staring at the tree with something like awe. They wondered if it was the first time he’d seen one. “Night, Komala,” Romi said softly, after a few moments. They looked up again to see if Komala heard, but if he did, he gave no sign. So they looked down at Nino. “You ready?” Nino gave the tree one last look, then nodded. They gave the campsite a wide berth as they headed toward where Gliscor and Minior played. Nino, Romi was interested to see, did not seem to mind the dark, despite his cavern’s constant illumination. He scampered ahead, checking out the different plants and bushes while he waited for Romi to catch up. They didn’t hurry, partially out of tiredness and partially out of a lingering worry that sudden movements might startle their newly-courageous friend. Gliscor heard them coming. Minior was chasing him in circles around a little copse of palm trees, and abruptly Gliscor stopped flapping. “Gliscor?” His ears swiveled rapidly, and a moment later he dove toward where Nino sat, waiting for Romi to catch up. Nino’s legs shook as he growled a warning, but Gliscor swooped over him and stopped a few feet away, greeting Romi happily. Minior floated over to join them, and cautiously Nino padded his way over as well. “Hey, guys,” Romi smiled, patting Minior and scratching Gliscor’s head when he ducked low enough for them to reach, “Mimimimi!” “Sco sco!” Romi laughed. “Having fun? Hey, Nino. It’s okay, Minior and Gliscor are friends.” Nino sat next to his Trainer, and the two other Pokemon turned their attention to him. “G-gib?” Gliscor waved a claw, and Minior swooped down to get a better look. He gave a sound that Romi recognized as a greeting, and Nino seemed to calm slightly. “Taka wanted me to tell you guys goodnight,” Romi said. “I think it’s late. You can still play, though.” “Glili,” Gliscor said, turning to Minior. Minior hummed. “Night,” Romi told them. But when they and Nino turned to head back toward the campsite, Minior’s glow followed, and Gliscor swooped overhead. Nino kept close to Romi, not entirely sure yet what to make of the two accompanying them, but he was otherwise calm, and it was a pleasant walk back to the campsite and the fire’s glow. Gliscor landed a few feet from Taka, who had dozed off as he waited for Romi to return, and let out a soft rumble of amusement. It was contagious, and Romi laughed quietly as well. “Okay. Night, guys.” They lowered themself into the sand, only a few inches from Betty and Faith. The sand was soft, and Romi felt a wave of tiredness wash over them. “Night, Nino,” they yawned. “You can stay out here or go back in, it’s up to you.” Nino glanced at the rest of the Pokemon, all sound asleep, and at Minior and Gliscor, and yawned. Cautiously, he nestled into the sand a couple feet away from Romi, and closed his eyes. The sight, along with everything else that had happened that night, made Romi’s heart glow with warmth as they drifted off to sleep.
  12. (Please note the bit about Taka asking to be buried in the sand and left behind was taken straight from the game! Credit as always to the lovely Ame!) Day 15 “Wake up! Romi wake up!” Romi jolted awake. Chatot peered down into their eyes from his perch on their chest, tilting his head as they took a silent, deep breath. A smile twitched at the corners of their mouth, and Chatot let out a warbling laugh. And then Romi heard another smattering of sounds, familiar ones, and Chatot hopped onto their leg as they sat up. Faith, Madison, Komala and Shimmer were all sitting a few feet away, watching Chatot wake Romi up. And every one of them was laughing. Faith’s barks were loudest of all, but even Komala’s tiny yips were easy to make out. It was impossible for Romi not to laugh along. “Good morning to you all, too,” they said wryly. “Chat,” Chatot whistled, looking pleased with himself. “Morning.” “Oh hey, you’re up,” Taka said from Romi’s other side. “Haha, looks like you have an audience.” “You put them up to it,” Romi accused him with a smile. “Only Faith!” Taka protested. “She just wanted to get you up. The rest was Chatot’s idea.” Romi looked skeptically at Faith, and in response the Primarina licked their face. Romi grinned and ruffled her hair. “Okay, I’m up.” They all ate quickly. Madison dug into Romi’s bag and somehow managed to find another bag of PokeSnax, and so Romi passed those out to their Pokemon along with the Berries. They peeked in their bag afterwards, and frowned at Taka. “Running low on Berries.” “I’m getting there too,” Taka admitted. “I was hoping we’d find another oasis by now, or something.” Romi scanned the sky. “If we can’t find one, Madison and I can probably follow the mountain back and stock up. If we keep out of the sandstorms.” Madison squawked curiously. “That’s… is there a reason you took a train out here instead of just flying to the Gym?” Taka asked, realization dawning on him. “Not that I’m not grateful, just… why?” “Don’t know where it is,” Romi shook their head. “And Adrienn said the storms get bad. Xe was right. We can’t fly through that. But if I follow the mountain south, we can probably make it back to get food.” Taka shrugged. “Fair enough, I guess. If you do go, just bury me in the sand and come back for me later.” “You aren’t a Gible,” Romi rolled their eyes. “I have enough to get us through a couple more days. Let’s see if we can get somewhere before that.” “I was going for a Trapinch, but okay.” As it turned out, they were both quite glad Romi had not taken off by the time the afternoon rolled around. A dense sandstorm hit the mountainside, the worst they had yet encountered. It was more dusty than sandy, and while it meant they could breathe well enough, it drastically reduced visibility. Before long they could barely keep sight of each other, let alone the mountain, and when Taka offered Romi his hand they took it without thinking. After that the two Trainers stopped worrying about losing track of each other, and simply focused on trying to get through the storm. The weather did not impede the wild Pokemon, who- as always- seemed especially eager for a battle while the sand was flying through the air. Taka and Romi for the most part tried to evade them, although a few times they encountered Dugtrio who were particularly vicious about not letting them leave without a battle. Those were the only times they separated; after each battle the pair would find each other and continue on together. Eventually the wind subsided a bit, and with it, the clouds of dust it was throwing began to thin out. It was still sandy and unpleasant to walk through or breathe, but at least they could see more than a foot in front of them.They stopped trying to avoid battles. And as they walked, their view became clearer and clearer, until finally Taka stopped. “Hey,” he said, pointing. Romi followed his gaze. A single tree stood against the horizon, far off in the distance. It was a palm, not unlike others they had passed, but it was the first tree either of them had seen since leaving the cave. Romi shrugged, so the two altered their course slightly to head toward the tree. They walked for a few more hours, and the wind died down completely, but the tree they had been heading towards still looked far off. It was not entirely a surprise, at least not to Romi. “Been a long day with that storm,” they said. “I’m tired, at least. Are you?” “I mean, yeah,” Taka admitted. “I guess we should stop for the night, I just… wanted to see if there was food, honestly. But we’re not making much progress.” “Yeah,” Romi said. “We can keep going, but maybe resting wouldn’t hurt.” “Honestly, when you mentioned resting I realized how tired I was,” Taka said, dropping his bag. “Tree’ll still be there tomorrow.” Romi crouched on the ground, dropping their own bag and opening it to dig out some food. Taka released his Pokemon, and once Romi had brought out a small pile of Qualot Berries they released their own as well. Taka added some Leppa Berries to the mix, and together the two Trainers and their teams ate without even setting a fire. When they’d finished eating, Romi told Taka they were going to talk to Nino again, and wandered off a bit. By the time they came back, there was a fire crackling and both Trainers’ Pokemon were lounging around it. Taka was sitting half-asleep next to Faith, Chatot on his shoulder. “How was Nino?” he asked, yawning when he saw Romi. “Seems good,” Romi said. “Excited about that Exp Share, so I guess it’s working. What about you, did you feel it much?” they asked Faith. The Primarina shrugged, yawned, and leaned her head against Romi’s shoulder. They stroked her hair. “That’s good, at least.” Chatot yawned, and Romi caught it. Taka laughed. “Yeah, I guess we might as well all settle in.” “Feaa,” Madison agreed, walking over and flopping down beside Taka. This time it was Romi’s turn to laugh. They got up and began preparing to sleep, and before long both Trainers were nodding off, surrounded by their Pokemon. Romi woke to a snarling sound. It was long and low, and Romi couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from. They could, however, see Minior shining brightly, trying to jab Taka with its starry points, and at last he too stirred and sat up. “Wuzgono- Minior?” Taka rubbed his eyes. “What’s going on?” “You hear that?” Romi asked. The growl kept sounding, and it seemed near. Taka frowned. “It’s Gliscor,” he said. “Is there someone here?” Minior flashed and spun, and Taka shook his head to Romi in translation. “Something, then?” Minior let out a windy cry. There was a thud. Romi felt the Pokemon surrounding them stir and wake as vibrations shook the ground, strong at first but growing fainter. As if enormous footsteps were fleeing. “Kii?” Klefki warbled sleepily. A sound somewhere between a snort and a whine, and Gliscor swooped over to land in front of Taka. He looked quite proud of himself. Taka yawned. “Scared it away? Good job, buddy. Think we should move?” Gliscor shook his head and patted Taka gently on the head with his tail. Chatot clucked softly and Romi laughed. “Okay. Thanks for looking out for us, guys.” Minior hummed, and Gliscor licked his Trainer’s cheek before waving to Romi in a sort of salute. They waved back. “Night, everyone.” “Night, Ro,” Taka said. “Night again, everyone.”
  13. Day 14 Taka woke up early the next morning, He wasn’t sure exactly what woke him, although his racing heart made him suspect he’d been dreaming about Meteor again. He dug his hands into the sand below him and felt its reassuring solidity, the coolness of the grains against his skin. It was calming. The sky above was still a watery deep blue, and Taka tried to settle back into sleep. But he found he could not. If he had been dreaming about Meteor, he didn’t want to fall back into that dream. So he listened to the sounds of morning, distant squabbles of Pokemon and Romi’s rather loud snoring, and laughed quietly at the latter. After a half hour or so he gently shifted out from beneath Komala and Klefki and stood up. “Gli!” Taka looked around for the source of the sound, but saw neither Gliscor nor Minior until he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. Turning, he found Gliscor happily resting on his tail, a sandy hole behind him. “Morning,” he said. “Tired? You can rest, I’m up. Where’d Minior go?” Gliscor pointed up toward the top of the sand dune nearest Taka. Minior, in his stone shell, was sliding down quickly, spinning as he did and making a crooked furrow through the sand. When he reached the bottom, he flew quickly over to join them. “Haha. You two been having fun?” he asked. Minior beeped in agreement, and Gliscor nodded happily. Taka grinned. “Okay, but get some rest for a bit. We’ll probably head out soon.” Gliscor drooped, but when he opened his mouth to protest a yawn slipped out, and Minior flashed his tips in silent laughter. “Morning! Morning!” Chatot landed on Taka’s shoulder, leaning his head against his Trainer’s. “Sco sco,” Gliscor waved, yawning again and flapping over with Minior to rest against their dune. “Night,” Taka called quietly to them. He leaned his head against Chatot’s, and smiled. “Morning. Sleep okay?” Chatot chirped. “Good,” Taka said. He turned back to where Romi and their Pokemon were settled, just a few feet away. He was surprised Gliscor and Minior hadn’t woken any of them with their antics- but then, they hadn’t woken him, either. Romi was sound asleep, Faith sprawled across their ankles and Betty clinging to their arm. Shimmer was curled around the top of their head, Madison had flopped out with her head across Faith’s tail, and Taka could see the little Timer Ball containing Gible in the sand next to them. “Tot,” Chatot said softly. “Yeah,” Taka agreed, ruffling the feathers on the little bird’s head. He went over to his bag and pulled out some Leppa Berries, removing the stems and tossing them into the blackened patch of ash and twigs that had been a fire the previous night. “Hey, Chatot, can you get the fire started again?” Chatot flew over and breathed a wave of heat onto the pile. Unfortunately, there was not enough in the stems to burn for more than an instant before they died down to shriveling blackness, and then ash. Taka shrugged. “Thanks anyway.” He handed the Pokemon one of the berries, and Chatot munched happily on it as Taka continued removing stems and setting the berries aside. A short time later, Shimmer drifted over, Komala once again riding on her back. She hummed appealingly, and Komala reached for his Trainer- or the food, Taka wasn’t sure which. Given that Shimmer was also turning her wide pink eyes toward Taka, he was fairly sure it was treats they wanted. He smiled faintly and held out a handful, which Shimmer lifted and brought to Komala to munch on. The last one she took for herself, with a high bell sound that may have been laughter. Klefki came next, and then Madison, with an excited squawk that woke Romi, Faith and Betty immediately. Realizing it was food that had woken them, Faith and Betty scampered quickly over to Taka, Faith licking Romi’s cheek quickly before she did. Romi looked blearily over at the crowd of Pokemon centered on Taka, and laughed quietly. They picked up the Pokeball in the sand beside them, and Taka was sure they said something to it before they stood up and came over to join the others. “Morning,” they said. “Hey, Ro, sleep okay?” Taka asked, handing them some Leppas. “Here.” “Yeah, thanks. You?” “Pretty well,” Taka said. For a moment he remembered waking up with his heart racing, but shook his head to clear it. “Think I had a weird dream.” “What was it?” Romi asked as they took a bite. “These are good.” Taka shrugged. “Not sure. Something about Meteor, probably. I’ve had a few of those. But I don’t remember this one, so that’s a relief, at least.” “I don’t think I’ve dreamed much lately,” Romi said. “Not since we’ve been out here.” They frowned. It was strange, they hadn’t noticed until now. Taka looked from Romi to Shimmer and raised an eyebrow. “Uh, Ro, don’t Musharna eat dreams?” “Mrr,” Shimmer trilled, nodding. Romi’s face shifted into a smile. “Oh, right. Thanks, Shimmer,” they said. She whistled happily and stole another berry for Komala to eat. “Well, if you want more dreams about running scared, you’re welcome to them,” Taka said. “Speaking of scared, are you gonna try to feed that Pokemon?” Romi shook their head. “He ate a lot last night, I think he’ll be okay in there until we stop. Unless you want to come eat?” they asked the Timer Ball. It shook in their hand, and Romi could feel it tingle before eventually settling down again. “Guess not. That’s okay.” They finished eating and cleaned up their campsite, Romi covering the fire patch with sand and Taka gently waking up Minior and Gliscor before returning them to their Pokeballs with everyone else. When only the two Trainers were left, they gathered their bags and headed off again along the mountain line. Taka and Romi had only been underground for slightly less than two days, but it was long enough that they had begun to forget just how hot it was, walking in the desert. The sun beating down on their heads felt especially harsh, and their periodic stops to battle wild Pokemon usually ended in them resting for a few minutes afterward, to have some water and give some to their Pokemon. “Hey, Romi?” Taka asked, after one such pause. “Mm?” “If you’re ever out here again, word of advice. Don’t wear a scarf.” Romi half-grinned. “Put it in your bag.” “I should,” Taka said. “But it’s been good for keeping the sand out of my face. Even though... I actually haven’t felt so much as a breeze today, have you?” Romi shook their head. “Hope we find another oasis soon.” “Oh, yeah,” Taka said. “Let’s hope there weren’t only those two out there. We’re going to need to get more food and water at some point.” “Unless the Gym’s close,” Romi agreed. “…Or anywhere cooler.” Eventually the sun began to sink once more, and the relief from the heat made them both considerably more cheerful. As a bonus, the frequent resting throughout the day meant they both had energy to keep walking even as the moon rose. Eventually, however, Romi’s stomach complained loudly, and through his laughter Taka suggested they stop for the night. Romi, grinning sheepishly, agreed. The two Trainers didn’t bother to try and cook anything this time, simply setting a small fire and lounging around while munching on Berries wth their Pokemon. Once they had finished, Romi squatted next to Betty and said something quietly to her. She nodded and hugged Romi’s arm, and Romi kissed her head before clicking a button on their waist, and Betty was recalled to her Pokeball. Romi looked up, and saw Taka watching them curiously. He quickly looked away and pretended not to be watching, but Romi caught the motion, and smiled. A moment later they caught themself, and their face became smoothly neutral again. They kept it that way, even as they called Taka and waved him over. “What’s up?” he asked. “You going to talk with the Gible again?” “Yes,” Romi said. “Would you come along?” Taka shrugged. “Sure thing, but why? Pretty sure I freaked him out before.” “Yeah. But- he needs to get used to everyone. And- at least he’s met you. He might be more comfortable.” “I guess. Bringing Betty too?” Taka asked, forgetting to pretend he hadn’t been watching. “They seemed to be getting along,” Romi said. “I’ll bring her out if it goes okay. Or if she just gets excited and comes out,” they added, smiling faintly. Taka grinned. “Sounds good. Hey, guys, we’ll be right back, okay? Don’t go far.” There were sounds of assent from both teams of Pokemon, so the two Trainers began walking along the mountain’s edge. When they had rounded a corner, Romi glanced around them and then sat on a small stone. “This the spot?” Taka asked. Romi shrugged. “Here we go.” They clicked the Timer Ball, and in a greenish beam of light, the little Gible appeared before them. He looked up at Romi, then turned to Taka, and looked back and forth between them quickly. He growled in confusion. “It’s okay,” Romi said. “Taka’s a friend. I wanted you two to meet.” Taka felt a soft rush of happiness at the designation, and smiled. “Hey, little guy.” Gible backed up until their tail was poking into Romi’s ankle, and Romi gently set their hand on his head. He looked up at them, then over at Taka again, and Romi felt the Pokemon’s trembling subside somewhat. “This is Taka,” Romi explained. “We’re travelling together.” Taka crouched down and held out a hand. Gible hesitantly stepped forward, growling softly, and Taka grew tense. But when the little Gible reached his hand, he simply gave a mighty sniff, and sat down. “Uh… Oh, you hungry?” Taka asked. “Gib!” Gible hopped. Romi laughed softly and withdrew a PokeSnax treat from their pocket, passing it to Taka. He offered it to Gible, and the Pokemon dove forward for the treat. Taka let go and snatched his hand back. “Careful,” he said automatically. And to his surprise, Gible tilted his head and nosed Taka’s hand gently, almost in apology. Romi tossed Taka another treat, and this time Gible took it more slowly, grasping the edge in his large jaws so Taka had room to let go before he yanked it backwards and gulped it down. “Smart little guy,” Taka said, looking pleased. “You have a name yet?” “Have an idea,” Romi said. “But I wanted him to get used to me first. And everyone.” “What’s the idea?” “Nino,” Romi said. “Huh. I can see it,” Taka nodded. “What do you think, Nino?” “Gib?” the Pokemon asked. “Mrr.” He turned and scampered over to Romi, and held his mouth open. Laughing, they dropped another treat into it. “...Do you like it, though?” Romi asked. “Is it okay? If we call you Nino?” He nosed Romi’s leg and sat, looking up at them. “Gib!” “Nino?” “Giii.” He opened his eyes and tilted his head happily. “Gib!” “Nino it is,” Romi said. They smiled at Taka, excitement written across their features, and he felt himself mirror it. “Hey, Nino.” Romi released Betty then, and the Roserade began chirping excitedly as she patted Nino on the head and sat next to him. Nino watched her, cautiously at first but then with open interest. The two carried on an unintelligible conversation, which ended when an excited Nino gave Betty a friendly lick and discovered that poison-types taste disgusting. Taka laughed and handed both Pokemon Berries, and Nino ate his while shooting wounded looks at Betty, who had seen the look on Nino’s face and burst into giggles. Romi smiled. It looked like Nino would fit in okay. When they readied themselves to return to the campsite, Nino gently nosed at his Pokeball, and looked at Romi with a plea in his eyes. Romi petted his head gently. “It’s okay. Little at a time, right? Oh, here.” Nino and Betty watched as Romi reached into their bag and brought out an Exp. Share. They both investigated it, Nino quickly stepping back before hesitantly sniffing at the strange metal contraption. Betty poked it. “Here.” Romi held it out to Nino. “Hold onto it.” He shrank back again, looking over at Taka with apprehension. Taka smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way. “It won’t hurt you,” Romi murmured. “If you take it, it’ll help you get stronger without battling. Until you want to.” Betty quickly hopped back, shaking her head, and raised her flower buds like fists. Taka laughed, and though they were trying to be quiet Romi could not help but chuckle too. Nino pondered, tilting his head, and then set a paw on the metal. When nothing happened, he set the other paw on it, and carefully lifted the machine from Romi’s hand. He sniffed at it again, latched on more tightly, and made a friendly sound to Romi. Then, in a burst of greenish light, he was gone, back into the Timer Ball at Romi’s belt. “That went better,” Taka said, looking surprised. “He’s warming up.” “Rose!” Betty squealed, running over and hugging Taka’s pant leg. Romi laughed. “Thank you both,” they said. “I didn’t do anything, but sure,” Taka shrugged, petting Betty’s head. “You did,” Romi said. “I think he’s getting used to you already. He’s warming up.” They held out their arms as Betty hopped over to them, and scooped her up onto their lap when she reached them. “You helped too.” The Roserade chirped happily, and Taka grinned. “You guys, seriously.” Romi smiled, that same bright expression they had worn after coming out of the sandy cave, and it made Taka feel even more at ease. “I’m glad you caught him,” he said. “Yeah,” Romi said. “So am I.” Betty insisted on being carried back to camp, so Romi set her on their shoulders and let her ride spoinkback. She had to lean to see past Romi’s head, but she seemed so happy and smug as she rode that Taka kept breaking into laughter when he looked over. When they arrived back at camp that way, Betty hopped off their Trainer’s shoulders, and Romi was immediately surrounded by a half-dozen more who wanted rides. So they and Taka spent the next half hour entertaining the Pokemon, until Komala tried to beg Romi for a third turn and Taka nearly tripped over Faith and they decided enough was enough, and it was time to sleep. As they made a dint in the sand with their feet, Romi looked over to Taka and paused. “Were you serious about the dream thing this morning? Wanting them gone?” “Huh? I mean, yeah, it’d be nice,” Taka shrugged. “But it’s fine. It’s not constant or anything.” Shimmer floated forward. “Shar?” “I don’t think she’d mind more snacks,” Romi said, looking away. “If you want.” Shimmer nodded her head, which was most of her body, and nosed Taka’s arm reassuringly. He patted her. “Seriously? Yeah. Yeah, sure, thanks!” He sighed. “...Honestly, I was kinda worried about having it again, haha. That’s pretty great, thanks, guys.” The Musharna gave Taka a tiny lick on the hand. “Nightmares suck,” Romi shrugged. “Yeah,” Taka agreed. He felt a pang of worry- hadn’t they said something that morning, about being grateful they weren’t dreaming? He hadn’t thought about it at the time, but… Romi must have been having nightmares too. He frowned. But if they hadn’t been bothering them since they started out into the desert… Taka didn’t want to be the one to bring it up. “So… I guess you’ll just… eat my dreams as I sleep?” he asked Shimmer. “...Ro, it doesn’t hurt, does it?” Romi grinned. “I didn’t even know she was doing it. It’s fine.” Shimmer let out a hum of indignation, and Taka grinned too. “Sorry, sorry. I trust you.” “Mrr,” Shimmer said. Romi continued trying to make the sand more comfortable, so Taka began marking out his own place. He was a bit nearer than usual, hoping to make it easier for Shimmer to eat his dreams as well as Romi’s. Gliscor noticed Taka working on his camping spot and came over to help, and before long both he and Romi were settling in for the night. Shimmer cuddled up between the two, and between Komala cuddling against her on Taka’s side and Faith on Romi’s side, there was something of a bridge connecting the two Trainers. Minior laughed at the sight, and Taka joined in briefly before nodding off. He hadn’t realized just how tired he was. Romi lay awake for some time, holding Nino’s ball in one hand and stroking Madison’s head with the other, but they too eventually nodded off.
  14. (Same disclaimer as last time! Many little bits of Taka's dialogue is taken straight from the game, and all credit for those goes to Ame and not me!) Day 13 The worst part about sleeping underground was, there was no way to tell if it was morning or not. Romi woke up a few times, but the light never changed- it was the same faint warm glow that permeated most of this cave. Each time, they felt wide awake, but they were fairly sure that was the adrenaline, and they could see everyone else save for Gliscor and Minior were still sound asleep. So each time they forced themself to close their eyes again and focus on their Pokemon's breath until the motion lulled them back to sleep. The fourth time they woke, Madison had left her tree and was preening herself, so Romi slipped carefully away from the others and stood up. Madison saw them do so, and tilted her head to one side. Romi held a finger to their lips, and stepped over to pet her. The Pokemon must have understood, forgoing her usual loud greeting to instead stretch her neck out longer so Romi could more easily rub it. It made Romi smile, and they spent some time simply enjoying each other's company. Minior watched them, and he and Gliscor chattered quietly to themselves, but elected to let Romi and Madison have their quiet cuddle. After a while, Madison went back to preening. The timing was well enough; Romi felt their restlessness building, and a headache along with it. So they withdrew a bottle of water from their bag, and sipped on it while they prepared breakfast. All that was left of Romi's initial packed food were a few dried fruit sticks and a disgusting smushed-up sandwich at the bottom of their bag. There were still plenty of fresh berries, and Romi again wondered what kept them from going rotten when they were stored in Trainers' bags. The bag certainly hadn't done anything for the sandwich. But the Berries were nutritious, and Romi had developed a taste for them. They munched on an Aspear Berry while slicing more of the fruits up for everyone else. The smell attracted Gliscor's attention, and he swooped over with a hungry cry. After that, it was more or less open season, with all the other Pokemon waking up and Taka being roused when Komala climbed across his stomach to join his fellows in crowding around Romi for food. "Morning," Romi said. "I'd hurry if I were you." "Fea!" Madison crowed in agreement, a Pecha Berry speared on her upper beak. Taka got up and made his way over. Chatot landed again on his shoulder, still munching, and when Romi handed Taka some chopped berry mix Chatot stuck his head into the plastic dish and stole a piece. "Morning to you, too," Taka said, ruffling Chatot's feathers. "Thanks, Romi." They ate quickly, most of the Pokemon having finished by the time Taka even properly got started. Taka hadn't realized how hungry he was before he had fallen asleep, and fairly devoured his breakfast, sighing with relief when he'd finished. "You go check on the basin yet?" he asked. Romi shook their head. "Well, I have no clue how long it's been, but it's probably long enough by now. Let's check it out." They returned their Pokemon, and were on their way quickly. Taka stopped after a few minutes, and held out an arm. "Look," he whispered. Romi looked. A small bluish tail was sticking out of the basin Romi had filled before, the Gible's face hidden as it ate. Romi's face broke into a smile. It was adorable. It was still a fair distance away, and neither of them wanted to alarm the Pokemon while it was eating. So they crept forward. When they were about twenty feet away, the Gible finished its snack and sat up to smell the air. Taka and Romi froze. The Pokemon did not notice them at first, leaning over the front edge of the basin to look at something on the ground. But it must have known something was there. When Romi took a single step forward a few seconds later, Gible jumped in alarm and skittered out of the basin, quickly disappearing beneath the sand. "It ran off already?" Taka asked, staring after it. "That one must be pretty skittish, huh... well, you have any more snacks? It knows there was food here, it might come back." Romi nodded, and withdrew another bag of PokeSnax from their bag. They didn't bother to be silent anymore as they sprinted to the basin and poured the treats inside. Taka scanned the surrounding area, and when Romi had poured the bag into the basin, he gestured for them to follow him. He led them past the basin, past the nearby sandpit, into the shadow of a large boulder, and crouched down behind it. "It'll be more likely to come out if we're not wandering around, I think." Romi joined him behind the boulder. The ground was hard, but it did offer plenty of cover, and they could clearly see the basin they had just refilled with food. There was little room, and though they both fit in the shadow, it was a snug fit. Romi kept their gaze trained on the basin. They sat there in silence. Neither was sure how long it was, but Romi noticed their backside beginning to get sore before a burst of movement broke the stillness, and the Gible ran for the basin. From their closer vantage point, Romi could see the notched fin that indicated a male- and a very happy one, judging by his little hop before diving again into the bowl full of snacks. They waited until he was busy eating, and then turned to Taka, who nodded. Romi bolted forward. This time, the Gible didn't even finish eating before he took off. He glanced backwards for a moment and then dove into the sand, grumbling as he did. "I'd say something like, let's split up and corner it between us, but as long as it can go underground I don't think it'd make a difference," Taka said. "Maybe there's another way." "I don't think he wants to be caught," Romi shook their head. "It's okay." "No, wait," Taka said. "I don't think you should give up yet. It's probably part of the test." Romi frowned. "Hm. What do you think?" Taka peeked into the basin. "I think... he'll come back to finish this. And we should have a plan." Still looking unsure, Romi reached into their bag and pulled out a package of Pop Rocks. They opened it, and the candy came out as a single clump, hopelessly melted together. They did their best to break it apart before giving up and setting it in the basin with the rest of the PokeSnax. "Bribery?" Taka asked. "We're chasing him around, he at least deserves a treat." Taka shrugged and smiled. "Spoiling him before you even catch him, huh? Sounds like you. Uh, let's give him some space and make a plan." They walked for a bit, eventually stopping a fair distance along the cave wall. They could still see the basin, but they were far enough out that the Gible probably wouldn't worry about them. "I wish I could remember how my father did it," Taka said. "I was pretty young. I think I just wanted to look around. Whatever he did, I wasn't paying much attention." "How long ago?" Romi asked. Taka shrugged. "Ten, twelve years, maybe? I can't believe I blocked all this out before. I think I was about nine or ten." He looked over at the basin. "I still don't regret not catching one, but now I wish I'd paid a little more attention." "Sneaking didn't work, and running didn't work," Romi noted. "I wonder... should we just wait for him with the food?" "Maybe, but... I don't think that's it. I feel like my father would've scolded me more if we needed to stay in one place. He mostly let me do what I wanted, until..." He frowned. "I forget. We went somewhere, and... surprised it somehow." Romi frowned. "How do you... wait," they said. "If you have to surprise them, what about... from above?" They looked up at the various places where sand trickled from the ceiling. "...Maybe," Taka considered. "That might be it. But how do we get back up there, is there a ladder or something? Let's look." The two walked carefully around the cavern, taking their time to look into any small spaces or hidden alcoves where a ladder might be. But when they eventually found themselves back where they had camped the previous night, they were forced to conclude that there were no ladders or stairs of any kind. Romi looked thoughtfully at the nearest sand pit. "...Well, we've got no other leads," Taka shrugged. "Might as well." The two stepped forward and into the sinking sand, and shut their eyes tight as they began to sink again. When they opened their eyes again, they were once again just inside the entrance to the cave system. Sunlight streamed in and made them both blink again. "Okay, I know that's not right, location-wise," Taka said. "...But then again, knowing that this place was for my family, that makes a bit more sense. Let's go." Romi nodded. It did not entirely surprise them, either. The pair went back to the same sand pit they had fallen down twice before, and Romi laughed quietly at how much easier it had become. Taka grinned. “You know I thought we were going to die yesterday?” “Yeah,” Romi agreed. “...So did I.” “And here we are, diving through them like pros now. Still won’t be upset when we don’t have to anymore, though.” Romi laughed again. “No.” They headed up the stairs again, and then the second set, looking up at the white glow from the statues above before once again coming to the Garchomp hall’s entrance. They both hesitated. “Maybe they won’t activate a second time?” Taka suggested. But when they went inside, the torches flickered on again, and they could both tell he was wrong. “...Do we really have to do this again?” he asked. Romi glanced at the statues, then at Taka and the unease on his face, and made a decision. “Come on,” they said. And before Taka knew what was happening, Romi had grabbed his wrist and started running. It made them easier to follow, at least. The statues began moving again, all except the two that Romi had defeated before, but the two Trainers had a head start. They reached the end of the hall before any of the statues got near them. “You okay?” Romi asked, puffing for breath as they stepped into the cavern beyond. “...Yeah,” Taka said. “Thanks, Romi.” “Sure,” Romi smiled. They walked in the vague direction of the statue they had found the previous day. It did not take long to find, even at their slowed pace. Taka paused when he saw it. “Okay, so, it’s… this one? I think?” He gestured to the shallow sand pit nearest the statue. Romi nodded. The image had been frozen into their brain, the view of the statue and the Light Shard as they’d fallen down the sand pit. They were going to have to talk to Taka about that. They were not looking forward to it. “I’ll wait here for a minute so I don’t scare him,” Taka said. “Good luck, Ro.” Romi smiled. “Thanks.” They stepped into the sinking sand and closed their eyes. A moment later, they felt themself land, and a loud yelp of alarm came from in front of them. They opened their eyes. The Gible was sitting in the basin, holding the sticky, Pokesnax-covered ball of Pop Rocks in one claw, and looking up at Romi. “It’s okay,” Romi began, but the Gible had had enough. “Gib gib gib!” He leapt forward, still looking more startled than angry, and Romi sent out Betty to meet him. “Careful, Betty, we want to make friends,” Romi said. “Hey, little guy.” Betty chirped and waved to the little Gible. He lunged forward to bite her, and caught her leg before she could properly evade. She yelped as he latched on- and then looked up at Romi in confusion. He was holding on valiantly, but his jaws were not strong enough to do Betty much damage at all. She kicked her leg and the surprised Gible let go. Romi tossed an Ultra Ball. It shook once, and then the Gible broke free. It looked at the broken halves of the Ball in confusion, and tried to bite one. When his mouth met the cold metal he spat it out, and turned back to Betty with a growl. “Rose,” she said, holding out her medallion to show the little Gible. He peered at it, tilted his head, and then opened his mouth to bite. Betty jumped back, snatching her treasure out of harm’s way, and held out her other hand. A seed erupted from it and smacked the Gible in the face, and while he was roaring in indignation a second seed flew into his mouth, throwing him backwards. Betty looked at the Gible, then at her medallion, and let out a worried hum. She chattered up to Romi, who was watching the Gible but looked down at her when they heard her. “It’s okay, you were scared,” they reassured her. “And he’s okay.” It was true. The Gible rolled up off his back and growled again at Betty. This time, Romi squatted down. “Hey. We’re not here to hurt you.” Betty nodded, and made a chirp that sounded apologetic even to Romi. The Gible glared at them and, keeping an eye trained on them, again grabbed his ball of candy and chomped on it. Betty looked at it curiously. “Sorry it’s stuck,” Romi explained. “It was in the sun.” The Gible finished his snack, licking his lips, and glanced back to the basin. His expression looked uncertain. “Do you want to come with us?” Romi asked. “Travel with us, battle if you want. There’s food, and… I think you’d like everyone.” “Raa,” Betty whistled, nodding. “And you’d get to see more,” Romi added. “Reborn is… beautiful.” The Gible watched them carefully. He looked back again to the basin, where he had found his food, and then back to Romi and Betty. Romi held out a hand toward the Gabite, the other petting Betty’s head, and smiled at him. The little Gible gave a nervous grumble, but took a step toward the outstretched hand. Then another. And another, until his nose was nearly touching Romi’s hand. “Gib?” “Oh,” Romi said. “Here.” They reached into their bag and brought out a fat green Lum Berry, and held it out to the Gible. He sniffed briefly, then chomped down on the Berry. Romi let go hastily, and the Pokemon gulped the rest of his snack down. He glanced up at Romi again, still hesitant, and then stepped forward once more. He touched his nose to their hand and looked up at them properly. His eyes were still nervous, but this time, they were curious, too. “Gi,” he said, and gave a tiny nod. Romi’s face broke into a bigger smile, and they reached once more into their bag. This time, a Timer Ball was withdrawn, and Romi let the Gible sniff it before booping it against his nose. It shook twice, then a third time, and finally settled to stillness. “Rose!” Betty squealed. Romi scooped her up and gave her a little hug. “Thank you,” Romi said. “You did great.” A flash of light emerged from the Timer Ball and the little Gible materialized, chattering frantically and poking at the ball with one claw. “Oh, it’s okay,” Romi began. “It’s just-” They were cut off as the Pokemon hit the button on the outside of the ball and was quickly recalled into it. A moment passed before he materialized again, and this time his chattering sounded more surprised. He pawed at the ball again. It rolled a short distance away, and he chased it, pouncing on it. Again, he was enveloped in light, and disappeared into the ball. This time, he waited a few seconds before emerging again and continuing to play with the ball. Betty giggled, and another voice joined her laughter as Taka walked up from behind where Romi sat. The Gible looked up with alarm, and dove for the ball. Once he had retreated inside, he stayed put. Taka looked guiltily at the still Timer Ball. “Sorry.” “Raa!” Betty trilled, running over to greet him. Romi grinned up at him, too. “Hey, did you help?” he asked the little Roserade. “Ra,” Betty chirped, nodding. “That’s great.” He ruffled her head, and looked up at Romi. “You caught him, huh?” Romi picked up the resting Timer Ball, and nodded. “You know, I’m kind of glad.” He offered Romi a hand, and when they took it, helped them to stand. “Yeah?” Romi looked down at Betty. “Ready?” She chirped her assent, so Romi clicked her Pokeball and she withdrew inside it. “Yeah. I don’t care about tradition or family or anything like that, but it would be sad if this place and that Pokemon were forgotten all together.” He looked around at the empty basins and the half-fallen pillars, and at last to Romi, who had just finished affixing Betty’s Pokeball to their bag and was now inspecting the Timer Ball carefully. At his words, they looked up, and smiled. “Yeah.” Taka felt himself smile too. “So consider this a gift from me. I give you my history, so I don’t have to walk in its shadow anymore.” He found it strangely freeing, to say it out loud. Romi looked again at the ball in their hands, and around at the cavern, and then nodded. “…Thank you. For this.” “Thank you,” he said. “So, you have a name picked out?” “No idea.” Taka laughed. “I’m sure you’ll think of something. In the meantime… we should probably keep going. My father would probably look here, so… mind some company for a while longer?” Romi smiled and nodded. “Yeah.” They sank through one final sand pit, and were deposited once again in front of the entrance to the cave. Already the light coming in from outside was dimming, and they could see the sky growing darker with dusk. Romi’s brows knit together and Taka whistled. “Guess the little guy took longer to catch than we thought,” he said. “Maybe we started late?” Romi suggested. Taka shrugged. “That’s true, time sort of… slipped away in there. It was so weird, not seeing the sun.” He stepped through the entrance and smiled into the last of the day’s sunshine. Romi followed him out. “Yeah. It’s nice.” They looked back at the gaping opening of the cave, and felt an unexpected pang. “…Thanks again.” “You too,” Taka said. “I don’t think I ever would’ve come back here if it weren’t for you. I’m glad we did.” “Me too,” Romi said. They smiled, a warm expression lighting up their face for a moment before they turned away. “Romi?” Taka asked. “Everything okay?” When Romi turned back, their expression was carefully neutral. “Fine,” they said. “We should get going, though. Before dark.” “O-oh, okay,” Taka said. “Yeah, we probably should.” Without another word Romi turned and began walking toward the mountain, north of the cave entrance. Taka followed in silence. He had no idea what had happened to quash Romi’s good mood, but something had. And he found it hurt, somehow. To see them so happy like that, it had been nice. He hoped he hadn’t somehow been the cause of it ending. There were sand dunes up against the mountain, looking in the sunset like golden waves that lapped and froze against the beige stone. As the dusk gathered around them, Romi pointed out a place where two such dunes stood side by side, leaving a small hollow against the mountain. Taka nodded, and the pair made their way over. Taka lounged against the stone and munched on a Pecha Berry while Romi set their bag down and withdrew some water from it. “You okay?” Romi asked, when Taka did not release any of his Pokemon. “I’m fine, I just thought… the little guy might do better with a slower introduction. I think I spooked him earlier.” The corners of Romi’s mouth twitched into a smile, and they nodded. “Good idea.” They unclipped the Timer Ball from their bag and sat carefully in the sand. “Hey, guys?” Shimmer floated over with a curious hum, and Faith and Betty looked over from whatever conversation they’d been having. Madison walked over and sat in front of Romi with a squawk of inquiry. “We have a new member of the team. But I think he’s shy. So don’t scare him, okay?” This drew all of their interest. Faith, Shimmer and Madison sat on the ground, and Betty shifted over to be closer to Romi. “Raa, Roserade!” she chirped, gesturing to the others. Romi clicked the button on the Timer Ball, and Gible appeared in a flash. For a moment, he looked curious. Then he saw the four Pokemon and two humans watching him, and with a tiny roar of alarm he looked for somewhere to hide. An instant later, he was peeking out from behind Romi and Taka’s bags. “Maybe it was too much,” Romi said. “I’m sorry… here.” They recalled Gible, who seemed relieved enough to retreat into the ball, and began bringing out food. “When we’ve eaten, I’ll try again,” they explained. So Taka too let out his team, and the two Trainers and their Pokemon had their first proper dinner since entering the cave. As soon as he was released, Gliscor again scampered over to check on Romi. They laughed, assuring the Pokemon they were fine, and both Gliscor and Taka were relieved. The coolness that had come over Romi seemed to have dissipated, for the most part, and they happily munched on Berries with their Pokemon and laughed again when Taka pretended to steal Chatot’s berry in retaliation for the bird’s theft that morning. With that no longer an issue, Taka found he was quite as happy as he had been back in the cave, and without so many of the complicated memories to distract him. They were there, beneath the surface, but he found he could cope with them and enjoy the atmosphere. When Romi finished eating, they sat and spoke quietly to their four Pokemon for a couple minutes. When they stood again, they approached Taka. “I’m going to take a walk and let him out,” they told him. “Maybe he needs to get used to me. Can you… keep an eye on them?” They gestured to their team. “Oh, sure,” he said. “Uh, I hope it goes okay.” “Thanks,” Romi smiled. “I won’t go far.” They took their bag and the little Gible’s Pokeball and walked around the leftmost sand dune. The moon was nearly half full, and the light it cast was plenty to make up for the sunlight that had almost completely fled from the desert. When they’d gone far enough that they could no longer hear the sound of the campsite, they squatted, and released Gible. Nervously he looked around, but when all he saw was Romi and the open sand, he relaxed slightly. “I brought dinner,” Romi told him. “Here.” They withdrew the same berries the rest of them had eaten, setting them on the ground. Gible brightened, sniffing the Berries before diving for the Pecha Berry and nibbling at it. “My name’s Romi,” they said while he ate. “I guess I should’ve said that before. Is that good?” They gestured to the berries. Gible tilted his head slightly as he ate, still keeping his eyes on them. “Gib.” He finished the Pecha Berry and grabbed another. “Good. I’m sorry about scaring you back there. I guess it was kind of overwhelming, with everyone right there?” “…Gii,” Gible looked down, grumbling softly. “Yeah, I’m sorry,” Romi said again. “I should’ve realized you’re kind of shy. I’ll try and do better.” This time, the Gible sat, munching the rest of his berry, and looked up at Romi. They grinned. The Berry was nearly as big as he was, gripped between his paws. “I just thought… we could get to know each other. One on one. Until you feel better. Is that okay?” “Gib!” He finished the last of his Berry in a single gulp, and did not move to take another. Instead, he sat quietly, still looking up at Romi. There was still caution in his eyes, but there was an openness there too. Romi took that as a good sign, and sat quietly for a few moments. Gible moved an inch or two closer, and tilted his head. Romi smiled again. “I was hoping you’d come with us, but you didn’t seem to want to, and Taka said it was a test… Was it a test, little guy?” The Gible tilted his head again and nosed at another Berry, but did not eat it. “Gible.” “Or maybe you were just trying to get more food before you let us get close,” Romi suggested, the idea dawning on them. Gible looked confused for a single second before looking up innocently. Romi felt a laugh bubble up from their stomach. The little Pokemon jumped slightly at the sound, but stayed where he was. “Sorry,” Romi said quietly. “Well, either way, thanks for coming. There’s not… much new to see, yet. But we’ll leave the desert eventually, and I can show you around, if you want.” “Gib!” Gible said eagerly. Romi smiled. “Maybe we can go to Aventurine. If you like hiding, there’s lots of grass and trees there. Or Tanzan Mountain, maybe. Big caves. If they’re safe.” Gible forgot to be afraid, and scampered close to Romi. “Gii! Gible!” There was so much excitement in his expression that Romi broke into a grin. “It might be a while, but we’ll go there.” They yawned. Gible opened his mouth, exposing all his jagged teeth, and looked up expectantly. Romi realized he was trying to copy them, and smiled again. “Should head back. No idea what time it is. Do you want to walk? I promise, no one will hurt you.” They held out a hand, once again, and this time Gible gently butted his head against it. It was a brief moment of contact, but when it had passed Romi saw a shine of friendliness in the Pokemon’s eyes. They walked a while together, Gible skittering along. But when they came within view of the flickering fire, Gible let out a nervous sound, looked up at Romi, and retreated into his Pokeball. Romi gave it a pat, and walked the rest of the way. "How'd it go?" Taka asked. "Well," Romi said. "He's shy. But I think we made progress." Taka smiled. "Good. I'm sure you'll get along fine." "Were they okay?" Romi asked, gesturing to their Pokemon, still playing happily with Taka's. "After you left, Chatot went over and got them all playing," Taka said. "Think he was bored, but it kept them all busy." Romi smiled. "They're so good." "Yeah," Taka agreed. He yawned, and Romi caught it. They both laughed. "Guess we should rest," Taka said. "Probably," Romi agreed. "...Night, Taka." "Night," he waved. "C'mon, guys, bedtime." Klefki took off toward his Trainer, and the others soon followed, Gliscor scooping Komala off the ground and carrying him over to Taka. Chatot and Madison chattered to each other as they parted ways, and Romi smiled to see it. "Night," Romi told them, lowering themself to the ground and getting comfortable in the sand. Shimmer curled up at the top of their head, Faith again sprawled across their legs, Betty snuggled against their side and Madison tucked her head under her wing next to them. Romi placed Gible’s Pokeball next to their head, closed their eyes and waited, sleepiness washing over them in waves. As the snores of their Pokemon grew steady and silence fell around them, however, Romi felt their tiredness slip into the background. Thoughts floated to the surface, one after another. When they had arrived, and agreed to let Taka come with them, Romi had told themself that whatever flicker of feeling they might have had before was gone now. So much had happened- they had pushed him away, and that was that. And quickly they understood that it hadn't gone, but it would. If Romi didn't let themself think about it, if they didn't look at him more than was necessary, it would be fine. The trouble was, it did not seem to matter what they did. Taka was there, all the time, being sad and kind and funny and thoughtful and sometimes even happy, and Romi was happy. The colours of his humour leaked into Romi's mood and lifted them up. But they had still told themself they had it under control. They could not tell themself that anymore. The way they had been inside that cave- how Taka had been faced with the ghosts of his past, and how he had been strong and confident and determined- they were so proud of him . And even through those complicated feelings, he had been kind- had tried to save their life again, talked to them, included them. He had trusted Romi and trusted himself, and Romi could not remember feeling quite so happy since the day they had stepped onto the train to Reborn City. And like that train, they now felt their feelings racing out of control. It was terrifying. And by now, Romi knew they couldn’t stop it, or pretend to themself that it wasn’t happening. They could only hold onto a thin, desperate hope that it wouldn't blow up in their face.
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