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From Everland to Reborn ~ A fairytale themed run [Last defeated: Adrienn]


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kakr594.gifFrom Everland to Reborn ~ Episode 83Akakr594.gif

Now, the promised episode... It's actually ~1/3 of an episode I wrote but since the episode was long I said "why not post them back to back" (As someone who isn't fond of reading, this is preferable to getting a yuge block of words). So Episode 83B will be coming tomorrow if I finish editing images on time lolol

This one finally ends the Zorua subplot. Yeah since we're quickly approaching Pokemon Reborn's end, I gotta start tying all the loose threads...

 

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Europa acted as though she was obliged to be our hospitable host. She guided us to a train car, which she said we could use to rest up until Brenda eventually came back. We thanked her and went inside it.

The first thing Archer did was to lie down on one of the benches.

“I’m so tired, though it’s not even close to night yet,” he said. “I’ll have to take a nap if I want to be awake for the party.”

“It’s not like it’d make a difference whether you are awake or not,” I said for the sake of saying, but was also making myself comfortable on a bench, and let Zorua and Pikachu sit on my stomach. The ointment was numbing the ache of my burns, so I felt I could sleep nicely if it was now.

“Look who’s talking. You barely even talk when you’re awake.”

“Well, I’m also going to take a nap. After that wild train ride, and all the walking we’ve done in the heat, that’s the thing I want to do the most right now,” Taka agreed.

“What? Why are you guys all so tired? I can’t relate,” Julia said.

“You run on coffee, not on actual physical endurance,” Archer replied.

“Ehh, bummer. What am I going to do while you all take a snooze?”

However, everyone was too tired to make anymore reply, so Julia left us be and exited the car.

 

I don’t know how many hours passed since I fell asleep, but I was woken up by the sudden increase in volume of the chatter outside. This was quickly followed by Julia’s completely loud shout, which scared off the two pokemon who were sleeping on me.

“Everyone, wakey-wakey! Right now! You don’t want to miss the sight outside,” she said, and then, since everyone didn’t seem to want to move from their places, she went from bench to bench to shake us awake.

“Come, Vanini, Tacos and you too, Archie,” she said and pushed us.

 

There was nothing outside. Or that’s what I thought initially. The sun was setting, but there was some blurry shadow zooming from one side to the other and, really, in every direction.

“Look up,” Julia said.

I did as instructed, and saw a black thing far up in the sky, but coming down to where we were. It’s blurry shadow grew larger and more defined as it made its descent to this sandbox. As it got closer, I could discern that it was a large dragon pokemon. Not as large as Candy’s Rayquaza, but quite large nonetheless.

Once the dragon made a touchdown, not without exposing us to a cloud of sand, its trainer and a pokemon jumped off of it. Their backs were facing us, but whoever the redhead was, I had never seen someone’s hair as tangled and uneven as the bundle that was sticking out of her white cap.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, it’s Zekrom,” Julia said jumping and shaking me by my arm.

“Hello, I am back,” the redhead said. “This is Brenda and Ren for you!”

The two of them twisted their upper bodies in opposite ways so that both their faces were finally visible. Their arms were stretched out, one in our direction and the other away from each other. Brenda’s face and arms were covered in freckles, and her eyelashes and brows were barely visible against her sun-tanned skin. Ren, on the other hand, was in a contrasting blue color. I had never seen this pokemon before, but Julia told me it was a Lucario.

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Their show didn’t end there, however. Zekrom sent an electric shock down to the ground, making the sand behind them explode and shower us yet again.

They kept the pose for a few more seconds, but eventually she broke down to the floor. Ren didn’t, and just stretched his back and rotated his torso a couple of times.

“Ay ay, my back hurts,” Brenda complained.

“What’s this weirdo?” I asked Europa, who was grinning at her and clapping.

“Shh, do her a favor and just clap,” she said.

“Eh? Weirdo?” Brenda said, raising her head. “Hmmm. That’s not the response I was going for. When I did this at the Alolan beaches, the kids really liked it.”

“Y’all, this is Brenda and her pokemon, Ren,” said Europa. “Brenda, these are Vanilla, Taka, Archer and… eh, Julia?”

Julia was now attached to Zekrom, hugging him. Zekrom seemed not to know what to do and just growled softly.

“New faces! I guess my farewell party will be fun after all,” Brenda said, standing back up and clapping the sand off her hands.

 

Brenda unloaded the food items from Zekrom’s back one by one, showing off each item as though all of them were her absolute favorite food.

“Brenda, were you able to find a water source?” Stethoscope asked once she was done unloading. This made Brenda’s beaming facial expression cloud up.

“Well, those muddy ponds on the south east are still there, but other than that, I couldn’t find anything, sorry.”

“It’s okay, thanks for trying to help.”

“But! I did find two caves, one south-east of here and another one somewhat west. I didn’t get off Zekrom to check them out, but maybe they have water hidden inside,” she said with renewed enthusiasm. “If I weren’t leaving tomorrow, I’d have gone exploring in them, but alas. Maybe you can send a group to check those out.”

Stethoscope sent a meaningful look our way, especially at me.

“I think we can work that out,” she said.

 

Temperature began to drop as quickly as the sun was setting on the horizon. I always found it ironic that daytime in the desert was scorching hot, yet we needed to light up a fire to keep warm at nighttime. As it was necessary, Europa, Bill and Al started building a campfire for us to sit around. Julia volunteered to help out, but Taka pulled her away from it and instead gave her a cushion to sit calmly on.

When it was dark enough, Europa asked everyone to sit down. It was time to start the party.

“Tonight we’re bidding farewell to our dear friend Brenda,” she said. “Y’all new peeps won’t know this, but Brenda’s spent a month with us and boy did she help us out. First she brought us that magical medicine from the ‘abroad’ which was, and I ain’t exaggerating when I say this, a true blessing for our damaged skin. Then, her mighty strong pokemon helped us move the train cars a lil farther apart so we could have more space to live. Ah, and she’s been mighty helpful bringing us water and other stuff from Reborn City. Not having to carry or pull heavy stuff in the heat has been a nice vacation for us. As for water, she’s also helped us look for a permanent source. Even though that wasn’t fruitful, it’s the intent that matters, y’know. Someone wanting to help us, the outcasts of Reborn City. We’re mighty thankful, for real.”

“Well, you guys let me stay here while I surveyed the region. Help and get help, that’s how it should be. Am I wrong?” Brenda, and Ren who was sitting next to her, stretched an arm towards Europa and closed their hand and paw into a thumbs-up.

“If that ain’t true. Anyways, that’s enough talking and not enough eating. Let’s get feasting, friends!”

“Yeah! Let’s eat!” Brenda said.

She pulled out a party popper from what seemed like thin air, popped it and showered us with glimmery confetti. Bits of it fell into the fire, making a satisfying sizzling sound.

 

We stood up to place food on our plates and sat back down to eat.

Julia sat next to Brenda, and didn’t miss a beat to ask her some questions.

“So you’re leaving, huh? Where are you going?” she asked.

“I’m headed back to Unova, my home region,” she said. “It’s been 2 years, I think, since I left. It’s about time I show my face there.”

“You’re from Unova! Zekrom is from Unova too, right? How did you two meet? How did you catch him? Have you-”

Before Julia could finish asking all her questions pertaining to Zekrom, Taka stood up from his cushion and walked over to Brenda.

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pretend there's food on those tables uwu

“Is this yours, perchance?” he asked, showing her the pokegear-like thing we had found in one of the train cars.

Brenda took a look at it under the dim light of the campfire. Then, she widened her eyes and checked her pockets, which were apparently empty save for a few coins and another party popper.

“Ahaha, it seems I’d dropped my X-transceiver and didn’t even notice,” she said. “I don’t get signals unless I’m in Unova so I totally forgot about its existence.”

Just as Taka returned the device to her, Ren stood up and started sniffling him. Both he, and I, who was watching from a distance, found it weird, but the lucario eventually found what he was looking for. Zorua had apparently burrowed in Taka’s red scarf, but was pulled out of it by the tail. Ren screeched and laughed, holding the little fox. Zorua, on the other hand, didn’t seem all that pleased to be held in the air by his tail.

“What. Wait, really?” Brenda said and stood up. She took the Zorua on her arms. “Zo, is that you?”

“Zo?”

Ren patted Zo’s head but the fox turned around and bit his hand. The two pokemon shouted at each other.

“Yeah, that’s you alright,” Brenda laughed.

“Do you know this pokemon?” Taka asked.

“Yeah, she’s the pokemon of my… friend,” she replied. “I’m actually looking for him, but had no luck in all the regions I’ve visited so far. That’s why I’m heading back to Unova. How mighty funny it’ll be if I find him there, after spending 2 long years looking for him everywhere abroad, don’t you think?”

“A friend who’s gone missing for 2 years?” Julia jumped in her seat.

“I hope you find him,” Taka said.

“Yeah, me too... obviously,” Brenda said to Taka, and then looked down on the pokemon she was holding. “Hey, Zo? Are you looking for him too? I can’t guarantee we’ll find him there, but if you’d like, we can look for him together in Unova.”

Zo seemed pleased with the proposition. She snuggled on Brenda’s chin.

I was finally able to put 2-and-2 together on the mystery of this Zorua. She had been trying to go back to Unova by crossing Tourmaline Desert, and then passing through Hoenn in a Northeast direction. That would’ve taken her ages on her 4 feet, but that just spoke to me of her determination.

Pikachu sat on my lap and snuggled me. He also seemed pleased that Zo was finally on the path to find her trainer.

 

The party just consisted of us eating food while talking, and Brenda showering us with confetti every once in a while when we least expected it. Julia seemed never to run out of questions to ask Brenda, and she in turn seemed never to run out of patience to answer every one of them. Taka and Archer were talking with the three veteran campers, but I wasn’t seated close to them so I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Stethoscope went back to her train car after serving herself a plate of food. I just sat by myself with Pikachu, eating some and feeding him some.

“Mummy girl, why don’t you sit closer with us?” Brenda said to me.

Mummy girl? I was puzzled for a second, before I remembered that I was practically covered in gauze.

I moved an inch towards them. Brenda laughed but Julia spoke before she could say anything more.

“Hey Brenda? I’d like you to give you a haircut. Can I? Please, please.”

“A haircut? This late at night?” I said. Sure, Brenda’s hair was a mess, but I wouldn’t trust Julia to cut my hair in broad daylight.

“Oh, so you noticed?” Brenda said. “This past 2 years I’ve been cutting my own hair to save money, but I really didn’t know what I was doing most of the time. Besides, traveling with Zekrom makes my hair poofy because of the abundant static electricity.”

“I’m great at giving haircuts,” Julia said. “I could even give them blindfolded. Want to try?”

“Y-”

“Let’s just do it like normal, if you must,” I interrupted. The last thing we needed right now was someone bleeding from the neck.

“Oh? You’re giving Brenda a haircut?” Europa said, taking notice of us. “Stethoscope has scissors and blades. I can pick some up for you.”

 

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While everyone was getting hyped for just a haircut, I stood up from my seat to get some more food and drinks. Archer was there also, and he laughed through the nose when he saw me approaching.

“Who doesn’t make a difference whether they are awake or not, now?” he said.

“Oh, shut up.”

I grabbed some more meatballs and walked over to the bowl of potato salad, which seemed to be from the pokemart Meals-to-go section, but was still quite delicious.

“So the tangela-hair girl is getting a haircut? Why don’t you get one too?” he said. “I’ve always found it curious how you keep your hair that long, despite it probably getting in your way… I assume… during fights.”

“That’s the reason I keep it long,” I replied.

“What? What’s the reason?”

I frowned at this showcase of slowness.

“You assume it gets in my way, and so do most of my opponents,” I said. “But that makes their movements predictable. They go for the hair, and that movement makes their stance open up. That makes it easier for me to deal them a blow to knock them out.”

“Huh, that sounds just like you. Do you ever think of anything other than fighting or rebelling?”

I was slightly annoyed that he answered in a belittling tone, when I had been courteous enough to answer his question. I don’t know why I should’ve expected anything else from him, though.

“What do you mean?” 

“A few days ago, you mentioned that you couldn’t achieve what you want to achieve as a one-man army. Are you planning to return to Everland? To continue being a criminal?”

“I’m not obliged to tell you my plans.”

Perhaps that response was too close to an affirmative answer than I should’ve produced. In any case, that made Archer fall silent. I thought he had put an end to the conversation, and took the opportunity to add a few cherries to my plate.

“You could’ve left Everland and your turbulent past behind,” he said after a moment. “Yet you choose to keep dragging it as if it was dogshit stuck to your shoe.”

I motioned to say something reactive, but he cut me off.

“But tonight we’re having a party, and it would be a shame if it ended on a bad note because of us. Just forget everything I said.”

Archer grabbed a napkin from the table and headed back to his seat. Even if he hadn’t asked me to, I was determined to forget his existence for the rest of the evening. 

 

I sat back down, in a fowler mood than usual, to watch Julia cut through Brenda’s hair with bold strokes. The process took time- a long enough time, fortunately, for my mood to recover to baseline.

The end product wasn’t a professional cut, but her hair looked much healthier and lighter than before. Brenda looked pleased with her new hair, so it was good enough, I thought.

Pop! Brenda got us off-guarded again, pulling on the string of her party popper. Julia recovered from the scare and clapped her hands while laughing. 

“My scissor-hands are itching,” she said and glared at the two boys.

They got her message, and started running away from her and a possible mystery haircut. The two were complaining about being chased, but their voices which were mixed with laughter didn’t sound convincing at all. 

Ren, Zo and Pikachu perhaps misunderstood what was happening and joined the game of chasing one another.

On the other side of the campfire, Europa scolded Bill for eating the piece of cake she’d kept for last. Bill said that he hadn’t eaten it and blamed it on Al; however, Europa wouldn’t listen. Al didn’t talk, but wiped a bit of cream from the corner of his mouth.

Pop! Brenda popped another one in front of my face, startling me. She laughed at my reaction.

They really were having a blast. We were.

 

VANILLA RATES: REBORN CHARACTERS

Spoiler

Will update in Episode 83B since they're a set uwu

 

QUICK LINK TO NEXT EPISODE

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Yay! Party and someone who owns a Legendary Pokemon! I feel like this hasn't been updated in months. Has it been that long? Well anyways, great episode as always. Or should I say 1st part of an episode. Can't wait for the rest of them to come out.

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Just now, J-Awesome_One said:

Yay! Party and someone who owns a Legendary Pokemon! I feel like this hasn't been updated in months. Has it been that long? Well anyways, great episode as always. Or should I say 1st part of an episode. Can't wait for the rest of them to come out.

When I posted my April Fools post, this showed:

Spoiler

805900424_ScreenShot2021-03-31at10_09_02PM.png.5f68c57076ceff9e849f3b808f971783.png

And I was like, "geez Forums, I don't need to be reminded of how un-often I update this thing"

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49 minutes ago, Candy said:

 

“Oh? You’re giving Brenda a haircut?” Europa said, taking notice of us.

I'm taking notice of a certain reference.

 

Julia hugging Zekrom seems to be highlight of this half-episode for me. Also I can't imagine her glaring. She's always so peppy!

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5 minutes ago, SilverAngelus said:

I'm taking notice of a certain reference.

 

Julia hugging Zekrom seems to be highlight of this half-episode for me. Also I can't imagine her glaring. She's always so peppy!

Hmm I don't remember a haircut reference but maybe I did it unintentionally lol

 

And this was what I imagined Julia's glare would be like:

Spoiler

34fe69afc0b52afd667347638f021256.gif

 

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Thank you for reopening Sasha's death's wound.....

Also Zekrom here to remind us of which path is the right one

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I feel I'm missing a few references... 

I already struggled recalling who the new characters were... Who's Sasha again? For me haircut screams Pikachu... 

It's interesting how Vanilla is part of the party and still isn't quite in it. 

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20 hours ago, Mindlack said:

I feel I'm missing a few references... 

I already struggled recalling who the new characters were... Who's Sasha again? For me haircut screams Pikachu... 

It's interesting how Vanilla is part of the party and still isn't quite in it. 

lol Sasha's not from this story (Corso's reacting to my reply to Sol)

Hair related stuff reminds me of that one time Aster and Eclipse painted Vanilla's hair with cheapass paint lmao

 

Also, I did say back-to-back but no one works on the weekends so let's say if I upload the rest today we're gucci

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6 hours ago, Candy said:

Hair related stuff reminds me of that one time Aster and Eclipse painted Vanilla's hair with cheapass paint lmao

That’s what I meant when I associated haircuts with Pikachu. I’m still surprised because I don’t remember Vanilla actually retaliating (while she punched Cal, didn’t she?). 

 

 

6 hours ago, Candy said:

Also, I did say back-to-back but no one works on the weekends so let's say if I upload the rest today we're gucci

We may be willing to consider forgiveness for this inaccuracy if you upload this episode before two months^^

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kakr594.gifFrom Everland to Reborn ~ Episode 83Bkakr594.gif

HA! As back-to-back as you gon' get, frendos

 

The next day, we woke up when the sun was already quite high up in the sky. My blisters were miraculously mostly gone. That ointment from the ‘abroad’, as Europa called it, wasn’t hyped for nothing.

Yet, we couldn't just idly lie on the dusty and sandy train seats forever. We had to make arrangements to go exploring the desert once again, as though we hadn’t had enough of that already. I was in a fowl mood because of that, while I removed my bandages one by one.

“You don’t seem to have had a good night’s sleep,” Taka said when he saw me. “I know the seats aren’t the most comfortable things, but I’d say they’re much softer than the ground.”

Even though he said that, his eyes’ dark circles didn’t seem to have lightened up overnight.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the train car, Archer was trying to wake Julia up. She had had too much fun last night, apparently.

We left them and went outside. Al and Bill were there, but neither Brenda or Europa were anywhere to be seen.

“Good morning, peeps. Europa’s busy waking Brenda up,” Bill said. “She’s always terrible at waking up. That’s why we wanted to end the party early, but well… I guess we can’t be unreasonable when the one being celebrated is the one who wants to keep partying until dawn.”

Pikachu hopped off my shoulder and scurried to where the other pokemon were doing morning exercises with Zekrom.

About half an hour later, Julia sprang out of our train car, followed by Archer. At least it was comforting that I wasn’t the most tired-looking out of our group.

Another ten minutes, and Brenda jumped out of her car together with Europa.

“Oh hi guys! Sorry for the wait,” she said. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yep, we’re ready,” Julia shouted.

“I was thinking that maybe I could bring one of you up Zekrom with me, so that I can show you all where the caves are.”

Julia’s arm shot up instantly.

“Me, me, please please pick me,” she said, hopping.

She was obviously the only one volunteering from our group, so up she went not without screaming like Tarzan all the way.

“God, Archer. How many cups of coffee did you give her,” I said.

“Bold of you to assume I even poured it in cups,” he replied.

 

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One hour later, when Zekrom’s tour of the desert was over, Julia told us that since the caves were in roughly opposite directions, we could check one first, come back and then check the other if it was necessary.

“Brenda thinks that it’ll take us at least a day of walking to and from each cave,” she said. “It’d have been much faster had we any flying or dragon types that could fly us all over, but alas.”

I somewhat regretted not asking Candy to come with us, for Rayquaza would’ve been large enough to carry all 5 of us to those caves. However, it was no use lamenting things, especially when it was probably my storming out of her shop that scrapped the chance of bringing her with us.

“I peeked the insides of the caves too,” Julia continued. “The one in the east seemed to be much larger than the one in the west. The one in the west seemed like a small rocky cavern, so maybe it’d be useless to go to that one. The one on the east was quite sandy, because it’s pretty much covered with sand? I don’t know how to explain it.”

“Well, we can check that eastern cave first. We can think about whether we’ll go to the other one if we don’t find water on the first try,” Archer said.

So our course was settled, and that meant it was time for Brenda to leave.

“Good luck, friends,” said Brenda, as she got on Zekrom and pulled Ren up. “I hope you’ll successfully find water. It was great meeting you all, even if it was just for one night.”

“Bye-bye, Zekrom! And Brenda and Ren and Zo. Hope we meet again someday,” Julia said, waving with her whole arm.

“Good luck finding your trainer, Zo,” said Taka, also waving but more modestly.

“Thanks for everything,” said Europa.

Zekrom took off and, in just a few seconds, they had turned into nothing but a speck in the blue sky.

“Well, we should get going too, if we want to make it to that cave before day change,” Archer said.

“Good luck, and a thousand thanks for volunteering to help us,” Europa said and the three of them waved at us.

 

I hadn’t missed traveling under the scorching heat, at all. It was worse this time, because I no longer needed to bother Bambi with the task of carrying me places, so I had to rely on my two legs and shoes that weren’t optimal for walking on the sand. However, just as it had happened on the first day I had arrived in Tourmaline Desert, the exhaustion started to increase to the point that I could no longer be bothered by the mild discomfort of my feet.

“We should rest a little before continuing on,” Archer suggested when even Julia was falling silent.

“Ack, I think I didn’t drink enough coffee for this,” Julia said as she collapsed on the ground. “My head hurts from the heat.”

“I think it’s more of a coffee crash,” Taka said.

“Staying hydrated is important, especially in the hot desert,” Archer said, filling our cups with water. “And I’m not saying that because I’m biased.”

“Whatever, as long as you don’t give the coffee-addict anymore coffee,” I said and took a sip from my cup.

We resumed walking when the sun was starting to set. This time we didn’t take any more breaks but we kept drinking water whenever necessary. While the temperature gradually went down, Julia’s energy seemed to return.

“Yesterday’s party was quite fun, didn’t you think? I just wished I could’ve cut some more hair. It’d been a while since I last did it… I think the last time was when I was still a student in OTS. I used to cut Rini and Amy’s hair. Tania wouldn’t let me touch hers, though.”

“Well, I honestly expected the haircut to be worse than what it was in the end,” Taka said.

“Really? Do you think that?”

“Yeah, considering it was dark out, I was pretty impressed by the end result too,” Archer added.

“I’m so very flattered! Does that mean you two will let me cut your hair?”

“Uhh, no thanks,” Taka replied.

“My hair is good as it is. Maybe when it stops looking good, alright?”

Julia pointed her lips but accepted Archer’s answer for not being a plain “no”.

“Scary how flexible the definition of ‘good’ can be,” I whispered to myself.

“But I honestly would love to cut Vanini’s into a bob of sorts,” she said, not very subtly eyeing me.

“Forget it,” was my reply.

“Vanilla’s hair should be left like that,” Archer said. “It completes the look, from the back.”

Taka snorted at this, but Julia begged to disagree.

“Well, I think she’d look just as cute in a bob,” she said, sulking.

“I don’t think that was Archer’s point, but it was a dumb point either way, so just ignore him,” I said.

“Scary how flexible the definition of ‘dumb’ can be,” he said, and smiled when I glared at him.

 

AFtA67c.png

It had already been hours since sunset when we arrived at the mystical, possibly-water-containing cave. We nearly missed it, too, because it wasn’t so much a cave “covered in sand” than a giant hole in the sand, which was difficult to discern in the dark.

The inside of it was dark, not only because it was nighttime, but also because it was a cave. Fortunately, we had an electric-type Gym Leader and a water-type trainer with a Lanturn, so we could light our path pretty well. 

“I don’t know why, but this place feels eerily familiar,” Taka said, probably to himself but I heard him because I was walking next to him.

Yet, even with the plenty of lighting, we couldn’t predict that there were quicksand pits on our way. Archer got stuck in one and let go of the Lanturn he was holding.

“Careful. It’s quicksand,” he said. I could tell he was trying to sound calm, but his voice broke near the end, signaling his emotion was far from it.

“Archie, no! We won’t let you sink*. Take my hand,” Julia said, extending a hand to him, but the weight of them threatened to also drag her into the pit, so Archer let go of her hand.

When his calves were half-burrowed in sand, I clicked my tongue and asked Pikachu to grab him with his long arms, like he had done with Shelly when she nearly fell through a large fissure in Iolia Valley. That was effective. With Julia and Taka pulling on me and me keeping a tight grip on Pikachu, we finally managed to drag him out of the quicksand.

“Thanks guys,” Archer said between panting. “It’s so scary to get stuck in one of those.”

“Your Pikachu was so great, Vanini,” Julia patted Pikachu’s head, and he squeaked with pride.

Archer looked at them two, then glanced at me but said nothing. Instead he told the rest to line up and follow his lead.

The farther we went into the cave, the more it seemed like it was built by man. I could tell because, in contrast to the sand-covered entrance, the parts we were now passing had ancient engravings on the walls. They varied from words in a language I couldn’t read to drawings that I couldn’t decipher the meaning of… save for one. That is, when we went down a flight of crumbly stairs, we found a large wall with a painting of one Pokémon I recognized.

“Arceus,” Taka said.

“Arceus? You mean the god?” Archer said, taking a good look at the picture.

I wouldn’t forget the pokemon god, for I had fought it, albeit a bootleg version of it.

“I think I am piecing out why this place feels so familiar to me,” Taka told us. “I’ve been here before. I came here with my father.”

That grabbed my attention. 

“What? I wouldn’t have chosen a place with quicksand pits to bring my kid to, but I guess your dad was quite a character?” Julia said.

Indeed. What could Solaris have possibly brought Taka to such a remote, literally deserted place for? If it were a Team Meteor base, I would’ve expected to have run into grunts already. Perhaps it was another “sacred” place, like the one we found under the Grand Stairway? In any case, I was going to find out what it was, regardless of whether we found water on the way or not.

“He was a… character, in a sense,” Taka replied, looking at me.

“Do you remember if you found water here?” Archer asked.

Taka shook his head.

“My memory of this place is shaky at best. I think my father said he was leaving me some treasures that I could come get them anytime I wanted, though.”

“Doesn’t sound like it’s water-related, then.”

“But we should check what those treasures are,” I said, perhaps a little too eagerly.

Archer and Julia seemed surprised to find me unusually motivated to continue the exploration, but we allowed Taka to make the ultimate decision.

“Sure, why not?” he said. “I doubt it’ll be anything worthwhile, but we’ve come all the way here. We might as well finish checking the place out.”

 

The cave was more convoluted than I expected, perhaps in an effort to make it difficult for intruders to find Taka’s treasure. However, we eventually made it to what clearly looked like the gates to a “sacred” place.

By the time we got there, though, we were exhausted. We had been walking most of the day and night, and it was then way past midnight. We decided to call it a day and find the treasure room when we awoke.

Julia never had any trouble falling asleep, and this night was no exception. Archer, too, fell asleep pretty quickly due to exhaustion.

I thought I’d be the only one having trouble going to sleep, but Taka was also kept awake from anticipation. Given only the two of us knew Solaris, we were the only ones that could expect something more than water or old gadgets covered in sand. 

“What do you expect we’ll find?” Taka whispered to me.

“It beats me. However, I hope it’s something useful. Like a secret Solaris doesn’t want anyone except you to know.”

Taka thought of his response for a minute.

“I think you’ll be disappointed if that’s what you expect,” he said. “My father has always been a transparent man. Honest in what he wants to do, and honest in telling others why he’s doing the things he does. I think I have many more secrets I’ve kept from him, than he’s kept from me.”

“For such an honest man, I don’t think I’ve heard him talk much about himself or his organization,” I said. “Most of what I know about Team Meteor’s aims, I owe to his grunts and admins, but not to him.”

“That’s because you never asked him. If you did, I’m sure he’d have told you.”

I didn’t say it but I had a hunch that however honest he might be with his son, he wouldn’t extend such charitable hand to his enemy.

“Do you know why Team Meteor was destroying the city?”

“Something about wanting to drive people away? Because Solaris and Lin think Reborn City has desecrated the holy stuff that is beneath the city?”

“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t know about Lin. I’ve never understood what she has in mind, and- if anything- she’s corrupted Team Meteor’s means and ends,” he said. “But yeah. What pretty much happened was that the Champion of Reborn created the League and advertised it across the world like some kind of fairground. She closed up the old city's wounds, hiding the Citadel again, which upset my father and everyone who revered our world’s creator. What Team Meteor wanted, at least when my father was the sole leader of it, was to destroy the city and return things like they were before.”

“Well, whatever Team Meteor’s aims are or were, they’re not relevant to me.”

“What?”

“From the very beginning, I’ve only battled you all because I wanted to gain strength, and at the time, siding with the Gym leaders seemed to be an efficient way to do so,” I explained. “I was nothing but an outsider who meddled in Reborn’s politics… at least until your father’s garchomp sliced through my friend. Since then, Team Meteor became my personal enemy too.”

We fell silent, but I had my suspicion that Taka wasn’t planning to leave the conversation there. As I expected, he eventually woke his body up, and sat looking into the void that surrounded us.

“You told all of us the story of how you met your little Pikachu. Ever since I learned that my father was responsible for his death, I’ve been meaning to apologize to you. I’m sorry, on behalf of him.”

“Why do you apologize? You shouldn’t treat yourself as an extension of your father. He’s responsible for all the evil he’s done to me and others. That’s not something that would change because you apologized.”

“I… Perhaps I’ve been alive too long,” he said. “I don’t really know if I’m my own self or just an entity that’s just repelling my father.”

“Who knows?” I shrugged. “But if I were repelling that psycho, I wouldn’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Taka chuckled.

“A psycho, huh? That’s true. He must’ve become one along the way. Otherwise, I couldn’t explain how he could kill people and pokemon with such ease,” he said, and I could sense irritation in his voice when he said the latter part.

He then threw himself back to the ground.

“I know when he became a psycho. In his youth, there was a time when he didn’t want anything to do with the shrine keeper family duties, which were to protect the meteor and the keys that led to it. ‘Every young person tends to mistake their way,’ he told me, and he wasn’t the exception. Because of that, though, a robber snuck into his home to steal the crystal keys, and killed his parents, my grandparents, in the process. That must’ve triggered something in him. When he narrated the way he incapacitated the robber until he killed him at last… he seemed to take pleasure in describing every detail of what he did. Even if the robber had done a terrible deed… I wouldn’t take pride in stooping to the same level as them.”

“I see.”

I said no more than that, for I wasn’t qualified to preach about mercy given that I had rarely shown any to my enemies. Besides, the thought of equating myself with Solaris was too reprehensible to voice out loud.

“He thinks the ends justify the means. That whatever happens to Reborn City is its own fault, for insulting our forebearers' culture. Even if he kills innocents with the PULSEs to get the crystal keys, he considers those dead people and pokemon as necessary sacrifices. Maybe he can have such a mentality because he’s a psycho like you said,” he continued. “But I could never sink into that mindset. I hated setting up the PULSEs and protecting them while they destroyed Wards and forests. I hated seeing the pokemon fleeing their homes, only to fall through fissures or die entangled in the thick vines.”

“That just means that you’re more of an individual with opinions and values than you give yourself credit for,” I said while taking a large yawn.

“Thank you,” Taka said, and it made me cough.

“Uh, it’s nothing.”

Taka laughed, even though I hadn’t said anything funny.

“You might not understand it. I’ve always felt like there was a weight on my shoulders… that I had to be a certain way, just because I was born as my father’s son. In fact, my father hired a woman to have me, so honestly my purpose by default was to keep his legacy and pass it on to future generations,” he said. “But these past days, I’ve felt like I could forget who I was, or rather, forget who I didn’t want to be. Traveling and exploring the desert with people who didn’t care who I was, playing games, building a campfire and talking about random things that aren’t related to the future of this region… All was new to me and yet felt so natural, as though this was what I should’ve been doing from the beginning.”

He took a pause here, probably to make up his mind to say something he couldn’t take back later.

“I’m forever grateful. I’ll never regret making the decision to leave Team Meteor, even if it’s just because that allowed me to experience ‘fun’.”

“I see… But why do you tell me that? You should say that to the other two. They’ve pretty much taken the lead in this trip.”

“I’ve been talking to you the past hour, because I wanted you to get to know me better,” he said. “Isn’t that how Julia said one makes friends?”

 

The next time we awoke- and I say this because we couldn’t tell whether it was morning or not due to the darkness of the underground- our bodies ached as usual but we were ready to continue the exploration.

It didn’t take us long to find the room of secrets. That was to be expected, for the gates that looked important really turned out to be, and just beyond them we found a doorway adorned with golden bricks. I wondered whether those bricks were made of gold, and if so, whether that alone wouldn’t amount to a “treasure”.

When we had taken some steps inside, the torches that were placed on the walls lit up by an act of magic, practically blinding us folk that had gotten too used to the darkness. The space was not the treasure room, yet. It was a room, however, and full of statues that were modeled after garchomp.

SJGkZTg.png

“I’m guessing Solaris was in charge of the decorations,” I whispered to Taka.

“Yeah,” he replied kind of absent-mindedly, but with furrowed eyebrows. “But I don’t know… Something about this room makes me feel uneasy.”

“You aren’t the only one,” I said. I could feel Pikachu was shivering on my shoulder, and no amount of patting was enough to make it go away.

We started walking through one of the two paths that were separated by a row of columns, but just as we got close to one of the statues, Taka gasped.

“I remember now, everyone, run!”

We were bewildered by that, but even more by what happened next.

The garchomp statue began vibrating on the spot, and dislodged itself from the wall. Then, it raised one of its bladed arms and swung it down full force. It would’ve hit Archer’s head, had he not tripped and fallen backwards.

“Archer, hurry we have to go,” Julia said and pulled his arm, but he was immobile as though the garchomp statue had exchanged life forces with him.

The statue raised its arm again, and swung it down to the man who was sitting on the ground.

Except, I sent out Bambi to run against it and block the blade with his antlers. Bambi pushed through, and the statue fell down. Its fall, though, activated the next couple of statues, and they started slowly creeping towards us.

I looked at Archer, who even after what happened, was still on the floor with his eyes wide open. He looked at me, too.

“Do you want to die? Hurry up and get out of here, idiot,” I said to him, and sent out more of my party so that we could deal with the next wave of statues.

Archer finally snapped out of it and scurried away with Julia.

“Vanilla, what are you doing? Come,” Taka said from the doorway.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll fight them all,” I replied. “These monsters must be guarding the treasure. I’m not retreating until I’ve seen it!”

“Vanilla, don’t be stubborn. You’re vastly outnumbered.”

On Taka’s saying this, I noticed that there were other statues moving on the other side of the row of columns, and they were also headed my way.

“You cowards can watch from the safety of that doorway,” I said, and did not hear or respond to anything else Taka said. I was too busy to do so, since I had to command my whole team of pokemon at the same time.

We weren’t doing too badly at first, but as my teammates lost energy, we began losing ground. There just were too many statues.

“Your team can rest now,” Archer said, startling me. When I glanced behind, all three of them were standing with their pokemon out of their pokeballs.

“Huh, so your pants dried up?” I smirked.

“That thing just caught me off guard, that’s all. They aren’t actually a threat,” he said. “After all, they’re just whimsy pieces of metal.”

Then, he commanded his Sharpedo to jump onto a statue and crush it with its jaw.

 

The statues went down three by three, until we were standing among nothing but metallic shells.

“Great! Now we can head to the next room,” Julia pointed out another doorway. “I hope that one isn’t full of other dragon statues. That’d have no end, literally.”

There was only one way to find out. We headed into the next room, and it, too, lit up automatically. This one was not full of statues, as Julia had theorized, but it did have a few of them, this time made of stone. Most of them were half-buried in the sand, and if not, broken into pieces that made it impossible to tell what pokemon they had been modeled after.

“This one says something about a ‘guardian legacy’?” Taka said while poking one of the statues. “I don’t know what’s that about, though.”

We searched the room some more, and found a few items that were also mostly buried in sand. I picked up a pink stone, and looked closely at it. It wasn’t a gem, but it wasn’t just a regular stone either.

“That’s a Medichamite,” Taka said.

“What?”

“A Medichamite.”

“Whatever that is, it appears that this room is the treasure room,” I said, making no effort to hide my disappointment. “Nothing of worth, no water. It seems this was a massive waste of time.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Julia said, jumping. “It was a fun adventure! It reminds me of when my friends and I would look for hidden treasures when we were young. We’d find coins on the floor, an earring, or a pair of broken glasses… anything, really. But it was fun because we’d find them after exploring.”

She then threw herself between Taka and I and placed her arms on our shoulders.

“A Ward like Peridot or Onyx, back then, felt so huge. Yet, the world was even more huginormous, with so many more fun places to explore! So I had a blast looking around this cave, even if we didn’t find water after all.”

“Yeah. It’s not all lost, anyway,” Archer said. “We still have that other cave in the west to check out, so let’s head back.”

Archer and Julia walked towards the exit.

“Here,” I said to Taka and offered him the Medichamite. “Whatever it is, it’s a treasure your father left you.”

“Actually, I won’t be needing it. You can keep it.”

“I don’t have a use for a plain rock either.”

Taka scratched his chin.

“Do you happen to have a Medicham?”
“Yeah, why? Is it an item for Medicham?”
“It won’t be useful as an individual item, but maybe it’ll be down the road if you get a bracelet to go with it. So yeah, keep it.”

Taka brushed my hand and told me to come. The other two were already entering the statue-less statue room. I put the stone in my bag and ran after them.

 

*Some internet peeps say sand is denser than human body so you can't sink in quicksand. I think that's true but we all know you can actually fall in the quicksand pits in Reborn so that's why I've kept it unrealistic.

 

VANILLA RATES: REBORN CHARACTERS

Spoiler
  • Taka (+2): 4/10 I'm not saying why
  • Julia (+1): 5/10 She cheered Taka up after a disappointing treasure room

 

QUICK LINK TO NEXT EPISODE

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Yay! Another episode! More adventures and a better Taka/Vanilla friendship? :o Also, yay... again! Future Mega Medicham! I can't wait for the next episode. No matter how long that's gonna take. xD

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9 hours ago, Candy said:

The inside of it was dark, not only because it was nighttime, but also because it was a cave.

I feel like this sentence is redundant2.

9 hours ago, Candy said:

Archer got stuck in one and let go of the Lanturn he was holding

So the idea was to carry a 22 KG FISH through all the cave!?

9 hours ago, Candy said:

“Yeah, why? Is it an item for Medicham?”

Oh no Vanilla, a MEDICHAMITE is an item for Haxorus, isn't it obvious?

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18 hours ago, J-Awesome_One said:

Yay! Another episode! More adventures and a better Taka/Vanilla friendship? :o Also, yay... again! Future Mega Medicham! I can't wait for the next episode. No matter how long that's gonna take. xD

I thought the only blastoise would be mega in Vanini's team because I'd forgotten medicham can mega-evolve lol Lowkey one of the two reasons I needed to include Sugiline Cave in the story xP

 

10 hours ago, Corso said:

I feel like this sentence is redundant2.

19 hours ago, Candy said:

It's more a product of my lame sense of humor :blobsweat:

10 hours ago, Corso said:

So the idea was to carry a 22 KG FISH through all the cave!?

19 hours ago, Candy said:

Archer is ripped cause he's practically a marine 🤔

But most importantly, u gon tell me this:

Spoiler

1797577263_2db71b4c75b2973bdcdd1d15b5ae3ffbcopy.thumb.jpeg.835a0ee8325e0bc96557f4e26fd34e60.jpeg

feat. Jotaro as Archer cause I can only mediocre-photoshop things 😅

is more fun than this:

Spoiler

2db71b4c75b2973bdcdd1d15b5ae3ffb.thumb.jpeg.e763c42e0db11ec11cfe497ef65141c9.jpeg

I wasn't sure they'd have packed flashlights when they weren't planning to go exploring in a cave...

But even more importantly than most importantly, is this a Jojo reference?

 

10 hours ago, Corso said:

Oh no Vanilla, a MEDICHAMITE is an item for Haxorus, isn't it obvious?

It's prolly an item you use to meditate but she ain't no monk

 

On 4/5/2021 at 12:54 PM, Mindlack said:

That’s what I meant when I associated haircuts with Pikachu. I’m still surprised because I don’t remember Vanilla actually retaliating (while she punched Cal, didn’t she?). 

I think she would've done them in but she got distracted by their lovely costumes xD I think she gave Aster enough punishment, not so much Eclipse

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On 4/6/2021 at 1:30 AM, Candy said:

“Here,” I said to Taka and offered him the Medichamite. “Whatever it is, it’s a treasure your father left you.”

“Actually, I won’t be needing it. You can keep it.”

“I don’t have a use for a plain rock either.”

Taka scratched his chin.

“Do you happen to have a Medicham?”
“Yeah, why? Is it an item for Medicham?”
“It won’t be useful as an individual item, but maybe it’ll be down the road if you get a bracelet to go with it. So yeah, keep it.”

I guess, Vanini is going to have (finally) a Mega Pokemon in her team. Sweet. Will she also have some Z- moves as well?

 

On 4/6/2021 at 1:30 AM, Candy said:

“A psycho, huh? That’s true. He must’ve become one along the way. Otherwise, I couldn’t explain how he could kill people and pokemon with such ease,” he said, and I could sense irritation in his voice when he said the latter part.

He then threw himself back to the ground.

“I know when he became a psycho. In his youth, there was a time when he didn’t want anything to do with the shrine keeper family duties, which were to protect the meteor and the keys that led to it. ‘Every young person tends to mistake their way,’ he told me, and he wasn’t the exception. Because of that, though, a robber snuck into his home to steal the crystal keys, and killed his parents, my grandparents, in the process. That must’ve triggered something in him. When he narrated the way he incapacitated the robber until he killed him at last… he seemed to take pleasure in describing every detail of what he did. Even if the robber had done a terrible deed… I wouldn’t take pride in stooping to the same level as them.”

I love, how you portrayed Solaris personality here, as I could see his intentions, killing to archive his goals at any means. But it also scares me a little, if I would picture him snapping at others. I'm glad, Taka didn't take after him in some aspects.

 

On 4/6/2021 at 1:30 AM, Candy said:

“You might not understand it. I’ve always felt like there was a weight on my shoulders… that I had to be a certain way, just because I was born as my father’s son. In fact, my father hired a woman to have me, so honestly my purpose by default was to keep his legacy and pass it on to future generations,” he said. “But these past days, I’ve felt like I could forget who I was, or rather, forget who I didn’t want to be. Traveling and exploring the desert with people who didn’t care who I was, playing games, building a campfire and talking about random things that aren’t related to the future of this region… All was new to me and yet felt so natural, as though this was what I should’ve been doing from the beginning.”

I often feel sad, that we haven't got a chance to meet Taka's mother. Being born for that purpose. Ouch... It does feels like he existed for only the legacy, similiar to Luna. Seeing him now expiring new things and having freedom puts me a smile here. Great job Candy.

 

On 4/6/2021 at 1:30 AM, Candy said:

“I… Perhaps I’ve been alive too long,” he said. “I don’t really know if I’m my own self or just an entity that’s just repelling my father.”

It sucks, if you know that 😔💔

 

So that's all for now on. For someone, who had started this back in 2017 and till now... I'm very impressed for that. You put so much love in your writing despite the hiatus.

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7 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

how you portrayed Solaris personality here

Thx for your comments :p but just clarifying that Solaris' part was Ame's work that I just added what I thought Taka would feel towards.

 

Crazy how long I've been writing this lol I'm not known for keeping motivation and/or focus for long

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  • 5 weeks later...

kakr594.gifFrom Everland to Reborn ~ Episode 84kakr594.gif

Remember the last time when I broke an episode into two parts because I felt it was too long for 1 episode? Yeah, me neither.

This is super long and took me even longer to write because the last 1/3 of it was hard to write for some reason. But it was necessary. Because here we close one more character arc. I'm on a roll uwu

And we finally finish Tourmaline Travels™️ Vanilla Edition. If all goes according to keikaku, next episode will be VS Tania 🏳️

Also, the real reason I'm posting this today is that I was feeling especially lucky today:

Spoiler

MGBCO0A.png(Idk if y'all know this but at least in Japan, 777 is called lucky seven and it's lucky for some reason)

 

As we had planned, we returned to the “train town” to catch a break before we headed back out to the west. Stethoscope was out talking with Europa and Al when we arrived. We told them that we had been unsuccessful in finding water in the eastern cave, but Europa told us not to be let down by that. I assumed she was saying that so we wouldn’t scrap the plan to visit the cave on the west. Or maybe I was just irritated and thinking badly of people more than usual because of the amount of walking in the heat I had to do. 

It turned out that we had to delay our next exploration by one full day because of a sandstorm. I wasn’t happy about wasting another day, since I was already itching to battle Titania and leave the desert for- hopefully- ever. Julia caught on my irritation and came up with an idea that was rather sound, surprisingly.

“How about we all have a battling tournament today?” she suddenly asked.

Until then, we were just lying or sitting on our train car seats doing next to nothing. I stood up from my seat without saying a word, but speaking with my action.

“A tournament? Amidst a sandstorm?” Archer said. “The point of us postponing the exploration is so we can avoid getting hit on the face by gusts and sand.”

“Well, I’d rather get hit than sit on my butt all day.”

“I’d be up for it,” said Taka, also standing up.

“Aha! It’s 3 vs 1, majority wins! Let’s go, Archie,” Julia pulled on Archer’s arm, and though he looked far from pleased, allowed himself to be pulled outside.

Taka and I followed them. My hair flew everywhere when we were out. Such were the gusts that we’d have to battle in.

The first matches were Julia vs Taka and Archer vs me. Pinning a water type trainer against an electric type Gym leader didn’t appear fair, so that is how those match ups were decided. It was cool with me, for I didn’t mind crushing his team for a warm up.

He walked over to the other side of the field and sent out his first pokemon. I did the same.

“It’s on,” I said, and spit the sand that flew in when I opened my mouth.

 

RCGVJdK.png

Although Archer’s team wasn’t weak persay, I could tell his pokemon weren’t used to battling much. They still tried their best for their trainer, but they couldn’t match many of my pokemon in speed or power. Even though the rain, which was summoned by Pelipper’s Drizzle, gave them advantage to boost attacks, it wasn’t exploited well. Admittedly, the rain itself was more of a sprinkle of water than actual rain, so perhaps it wasn’t all that exploitable in the first place. The pokemon seemed helpless when there was no type advantage, perhaps because they were used battling Team Magma’s fire type pokemon. And that was perhaps where Archer slacked the most, since he judged it wasn’t necessary to battle more trainers with teams that contained other typings.

“You aren’t called the hope of Reborn for nothing,” Archer said when he was defeated. “I must admit your pokemon are trained with utmost care.”

 

Next on the list was to beat Julia, who defeated Taka with her flashy and exploding pokemon. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to watch her match and plan accordingly. However, that was the same for her too, as she had watched my match with Archer.

I had battled alongside her in Fiore Mansion, but this was the first time since I battled her in the first Gym that I was rematching her.

“I can’t believe it’s been so long since I battled you. Remember when you were baby, Vanini?” she said as she shook her pom-poms to cheer for herself, probably. “But I won’t go easy on you. Let’s start booming everyone and everything!”

 

mzmd9pN.png

Julia’s pokemon, though also coordinated by a single typing like Archer’s, were more varied in their strengths. Some were quick jolts of electricity, while others were tanky and tormented my team with status conditions. If I was not careful, she would’ve sent all of my pokemon to ghost town with Explosions. I’m sure she was planning on it, because every time she had the chance to, she did, and when she was prevented from it, she jumped up and down and screamed “Vanini, why’d you do that!” or “No! My boomies!”. I slightly regretted that this tournament hadn’t been held while Brenda was here. I was sure she’d have enjoyed getting showered by the sand for a change, and here the showers were non-stop given the sandstorm and Julia’s explosions.

In the end, we were both on our last pokemon, and… I knew what she would do, but I had no way of avoiding it this time.

“Kaaaaaaa”

Her Electrode shone as brightly as the sun, briefly blinding everyone present.

“Boom!”

Her shout was muffled by the noise of the explosion, and we were almost blown away by the hot wind. We felt, rather than saw, what had happened.

My pokemon fainted a split second faster than her Electrode, crowning Julia as the winner of this mini-tournament.

I called my pokemon back and Julia did the same after hugging her Electrode, despite its being too large to wrap her arms around.

“Good game, Vanini! That was fantagreatastic!” she ran over to where I was standing. “It’s been so long since I had such an exciting battle!”

I held out my hand to shake hers, but she ignored that and jumped onto me.

“That was quite literally an explosive battle,” Taka said.

“Yeah, although now I want to take a bath,” Archer said. “The first battle splashed me with water, and the second’s explosions showered me with sand. I feel sticky as though I’d been to the beach.”

“Tough luck. Clean water is the one thing we don’t have,” I said. “But perhaps you could go diving in the muddy ponds that Brenda mentioned.”

Archer looked at me like he was unimpressed, but Julia responded before he could say anything.

“No need for that! Tomorrow we’ll find clean water and everyone will be able to take as many baths as they want.”

 

Tomorrow came, and we set out west. 

“If we don’t find a water source in this cave, we’re giving up, alright?” I said, mostly to Taka. “I can’t spend my whole life going from cave to cave, digging holes and sinking into them, for a water source I’m 99% certain doesn’t exist in this desert.”

“Notice how you said 99% and not 100%? That means you do believe there’s a chance,” teased Julia.

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’m rather surprised you’ve kept up with it for this long. I thought you’d give up when we didn’t find water in the other cave.”

“I don’t back up on my promises, as long as I can keep them.”

We walked in the sand for I don’t know how long, but however long it felt, it felt shorter than when we went to the cave in the east. I wasn’t sure whether it was because this new cave was closer to the train town, because we were getting used to the heat, or perhaps because my blisters were pretty much gone by this point, and so I didn’t have to be in pain every time I moved.

 

We entered the cave, but were disappointed even before exploring it.

“It’s a dead-end!” I couldn’t help but shout.

Everyone else, who weren’t used to me shouting, looked my way, which made me slightly embarrassed.

We scanned the surface of the big wall on the farthest end of the cave, hoping that perhaps we could dislodge some rocks to reveal a hidden tunnel which would allow us to continue the exploration. It was, unsurprisingly, a futile attempt.

“It’s hard to see anything with this dim light, but I don’t think there’s anything else to this dead-end,” Archer said. “It’s too bad. Maybe I’ll take a plunge into the muddy water after all, like Vanilla suggested yesterday.”

The latter part of his speech made Taka chuckle. Julia, though, was still desperately looking for something on the wall, as though she hadn’t heard a word Archer said.

“Julia, it’s no use,” Archer said, pulling her sleeve.

“There’s other walls too. Maybe those have a hidden switch in them and it’ll open up a whole dungeon,” she said.

“Come on, this isn’t a video game. Why would there be hidden switches in a natural cave like this?”

Julia suddenly stopped moving, but then slowly leaned on Archer’s shoulder, perhaps meaning to whisper something. Yet when she spoke, she did in a very audible volume.

“That’s what they want you to think,” she said.

Archer lost balance after being shouted on the ear, but he caught himself in time not to crumble on the floor.

“Who is ‘they’?” he asked, but received no reply.

Anyway, in order to satiate Julia’s incapability to simply give up, we spent a little more time searching walls for possible hidden switches.

“Maybe if I send Electrode out and boom this wall-”

“The cave’s going to collapse on us. Please don’t,” Archer replied quickly.

On the opposite wall, Taka and I began quietly searching its ragged surface.

“This is dumb,” I said to Taka.

“Well, I think if we do this, we can confidently tell Europa and the others that we searched thoroughly. It’s not all bad.”

 

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We spent a few more minutes like this- wasting time- in silence, when suddenly Taka stopped moving and wondered aloud:

“Vanilla? I think I’ve noticed something odd.”

I walked over to where he was, and checked the portion of the wall he was staring at.

“Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s a hidden switch.”

Taka laughed.

“No. I don’t mean on the wall. I meant something odd in general,” he said. “The cave is dimly lit. We haven’t had to use Julia’s electric type pokemon or Archer’s Lanturn to lighten up the space this time.”

We looked at each other. We were indeed in the dark, but it wasn’t pitch black. I could see Taka’s face lifting up, for example, and I followed his example.

The ceiling was quite high up, maybe about 10 meters from where we stood, but we could clearly see that there were a couple of small holes, through which enough light was pouring in so as to not make us fumble in a void.

What did that mean for us?

“That means there’s another exit to this cave, even if it’s so high up we’ll have trouble reaching.”

“Another exit to this cave? Where? Where?”

Julia heard Taka and came rushing over. However, she knitted her eyebrows when she saw the wall in front of us.

“False alarm? I don’t see any switches or exits there.”

I pushed Julia’s chin upward, so that she would see what we had seen.

“Oh! Those tiny holes up there? Well, what’re we waiting for? Let’s go, let’s go! Archie!” she said and ran to bring Archer to our wall.

Meanwhile, I looked up to the ceiling again. That was quite some distance, and, while I was confident about my endurance and strength, I wasn’t as sure that I could climb a wall this perpendicular to the ground. We also didn’t have any rock-climbing equipment at our disposition (author: not yet, at least), for we hadn’t precisely come to the desert to climb rocky cave walls.

“I think I have an idea that might be a little more realistic than to have all of us climb with our bare hands,” Taka said.

He sent out his Alolan Exeggutor. The tall pokemon’s head didn’t quite reach the ceiling, but it did come quite close. Its leafy head shook and sometimes hid the little light we had.

“Exeggutor can bow his head down and then stand back up right. We should do that one by one, so that our weight is tolerable to him. How does that sound?” Taka asked.

“Brilliant!” Julia replied on my behalf, though Archer didn’t seem all that happy about the idea of being swung upward by a palm tree. However, given our situation, it was pretty much that or nothing.

Taka went up first, for he knew his pokemon best and had the best chance to get to the top. He would have to stay on top of Exeggutor’s head for a while, though, because the small holes were, of course, too small for an adult human to crawl through. We had to wait while Taka and his pokemon assiduously worked to enlarge them.

I thought I was impatient, but Julia beat me on that front.

“Maybe if I climbed up and sent out Electrode-”

“You’ll blast the top of the cave, yes, but it’ll rain down on us,” Archer cut her off. “Please don’t.”

 

Eventually, Taka climbed the remaining portion of the cave and exited it. His voice, upon seeing what was on the other side of that ceiling, was the most animated I’d ever heard come out of him.

“Everyone, there’s vegetation up here. We might actually find water here!”

Vegetation? Why should that be an indication of a tangible water source? Even when we were treading through the desert, we saw shrubs here and there and the occasional palm tree... which may have just been Exeggutors in disguise. But there were shrubs, and that didn’t mean anything in the desert, so why would it now?

I soon answered my own question, when the palm tree pokemon carried me on its head.

The top of the cave was grassy, but they were not ordinary shrubs that grew in the desert: they were much more leafy. Moreover, that was not the only kind of vegetation in this part, for there were also trees of the species that I hadn’t seen growing in the sand.

“See?” Taka said, smiling triumphantly.

Julia came third, and I gave her a hand to help her climb up the remaining stretch. As soon as she saw how green the outside was, she started jumping, cheering and rolling on the ground.

“The grass is so nostalgic,” she said.

“Even though we really haven’t been in the desert for that long,” Taka said. “I agree with the feeling.”

The last one to come up was Archer, who, on being swung upwards, screamed so loudly that it echoed. Perhaps he wasn’t fond of heights, and if that was the case, he should have said something. We would have definitely gone exploring without him, after all.

When he was crawling through the hole, I could see he was quite shaken by the ride. It was to the extent that he almost slipped when crawling through the hole, and would’ve either smashed into Exeggutor’s head or, worse, fallen all the ten-some meters down. Fortunately for him, I grabbed both of his arms and pulled him through.

“Yay, Archie, you made it,” Julia cheered, but the guy wasn’t all that happy to have made it, it seemed.

He glared at me, which I thought was awfully rude under this circumstance.

“What’s that look for? Fine. Next time I’ll let you slip and slide down,” I said, throwing my hands in the air.

“No, that’s not- I didn’t mean- My bad,” he despaired, and upon clearing his throat, said this: “Thank you, for helping me up.”

I was taken aback by his expression of gratitude, as were Taka and Julia. I could feel their gazes burning my back, or perhaps that was nothing but the sunheat. Yet, they were silent, probably eagerly awaiting my reply. 

“Ew.”

On hearing my reply, Julia audibly sighed.

“Vanini! Why must you ruin the mood like that!” she said, but I was already walking away at a fast pace.

 

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We explored the place a little, took a short rest and explored again. While the vegetation, and, as we later on found, the non-desert-native pokemon that inhabited the place, were promising signs of finding water, we still couldn’t find the actual thing... out in the open, that is. We found a hill adjacent to the plane we were on, and it turned out to be another cave. This one was pitch black inside, but as soon as we entered it, we knew we had found what we were looking for.

“That sound… I’m not hallucinating, right?” Julia asked.

“No, I hear it too. There’s no mistaking that sound,” Archer replied.

“A waterfall?” Taka said.

Julia and Archer sent their pokemon to create some light. The glistening, flowing water reflected it in its very familiar wavy manner.

“We really found it,” I whispered, but before I even finished that short sentence, Julia and Archer jumped into the water. They didn’t even take a second to take off their clothes.

“What are you doing? You’re going to soil the water,” I scolded them. “I’ll be damned if I have to drink from that.”

“Vanini, don’t you see we have a waterfall? AKA an endless supply of fresh water! It shouldn’t matter if we bathe in it a bit.”

“I can’t describe how great it feels to finally be sand-free,” Archer said.

“You two also join us,” Julia said, her silhouette waving at Taka and me.

“No thanks,” I said. “I came to find the water source, and that’s done. Let’s go back to report it.”

“Come now, Vanilla. I’m sure a little refreshing splash of water won’t hurt,” Taka said. “Maybe just wash your hands and face? You don’t have to go all the way in.”

He walked a few steps toward the little pool of water, and looked back at me. The light from Archer’s Lanturn shone on his face, and I felt all the forces of peer pressure working on me.

“Fine, fine! I’ll just splash my face and that’s it.”

I walked with large strides to the pool, squatted in front of it and started to wash my hands while Taka slowly entered it and exclaimed about its cold temperature.

 

Suddenly, Julia appeared from underneath my hands and pulled me into the water. I honestly thought that was the end of me… for real this time. I didn’t know how to swim, and the pool was too deep for me to ground my feet on. 

I splashed to keep my head above water, but not for long. In one such swing of my arms, I hit someone else’s arm.

“Calm down, Vanilla,” I heard Archer shout as I hit his arms several times. “The pondside is literally behind you”

What rescued me from drowning was Pikachu- who perhaps should now be called the fisher of sinking people- who held me up and out of the water from the safety of dry land. He then lowered me back into the water but made sure I could hold the rocky surface first. I coughed some and took a little time to calm my breathing.

“What the f*ck, Julia!” I shouted when I could at last. “You nearly drowned me.”

“I’m so sorry Vanini, please forgive me. I didn’t think you’d freak out in the water.”

The only thing I could see of Julia’s face was the reflected light from its dampness, but her voice sounded remorseful.

“This is the third time since I came to Tourmaline Desert that I thought I was a goner, and we have barely been here a week,” I sighed.

“I’ll never do it again, I promise.”

I took a few more breaths. The water’s temperature seemed to drop during the silence that enveloped us until I spoke to crack the ice.

“I’m not fond of swimming. There are no mermen in my family,” I said.

“Everland isn’t precisely known for lakes and rivers. It’s not surprising that you wouldn’t know how to swim,” Archer said.

“I didn’t say I don’t know how to swim,” I snapped back, more due to a reflex than anything, really, and it cost me dearly. Of course, Archer would follow up thus: “Well, do you?”

“No,” I said, gritting my teeth.

I thought he would laugh or at least make fun of me for this mishap, but for whatever reason, he just shifted the focus of the conversation away from me.

“I’m not proficient at swimming either, but it’s not that hard to keep oneself afloat. I just use my feet and legs to push water down, or sometimes to the sides when I want to move a bit.”

“Come to think of it, this might be the first time I’ve bathed in something larger than a bathtub,” said Taka. “Until recently, Reborn’s Azurine Lake was contaminated so it was impossible to swim in there. And before it was contaminated, my father didn’t really bring me there because there was no reason to.”

“What? So you haven’t swam, not even in a swimming pool, Tacos?” Julia asked.

“Unfortunately.”

“That’s a big bummer, and yet again your dad sounds like a weirdo, sorry. I mean who doesn’t go swimming with their child?” she said, quickly regaining her spirits. “I went swimming all the time, meanwhile. My friend, Amy, she’s always been this water-crazy girl. She liked everything about water. Like the taste of water (I know, right?), water type pokemon, painting with watercolors, and of course, swimming. She had a swimming pool at her house so Rini, Tania and I usually went to swim there after school in the summer months… and I said ‘had’ because Tania kinda broke the pool… oh, you were there with me, right Vanini?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah! So, as I was saying, Tania practically kaboom-ed the pool because her Excadrill went Earthquake! And a lot of the water came rushing into their living room… but I guess you could say that she made yet another pool, because their living room became a second pool. Double the fun!”

“The ones that got a mini-tsunami must not have appreciated it as much, I think,” Taka said. I saw his face turn towards me for a second there, probably because I knew what he was referring to. Julia knew too, but she was unaware that Taka did through his father.

 

We spent what I imagined was about an hour in the pond. 

Since we figured some of our non-electric pokemon would also enjoy a bath, or at least a break out of their pokeballs, we sent all of them out. Pikachu wasn’t fond of water, it seemed, as were Julia’s electric type pokemon (though their dislike was most likely a consideration towards us, so that they may not electrocute anyone) and still others from mine and Taka’s team that had type disadvantage to water. Those opted to either talk or play in the darkness of the cave or to exit it completely and run around in the small park outside, sometimes with the wild pokemon that showed any interest in the strangers that were trespassing their territory. 

Julia, Archer and Taka splashed each other with water while I opted to sit on the edge of the pond so that my dress could dry off. The drying process was sometimes delayed by Julia, who occasionally left the pond and jumped into it from the elevated ground next to the cascade, making a large splash upon contact with the water. She called it “Aquaboom*” and nothing I said could discourage her from repeating it at least a dozen times during our stay.

 

When we were finally ready to leave- though I was the only one of our group that was dry- our pokemon came back into the cave running and making all sorts of alarmed noises. Pikachu pulled on my dress and I followed him to the exit of the cave.

Peeking at the outside, I quickly understood what the cause of their commotion was. There was a helicopter dropping some people off. If the helicopter’s large decal of the letter “M” wasn’t sufficient to inform us that it was Team Meteor, the greyscale uniforms of the grunts did. 

Yet, that was not all. Just as I planned on fighting the grunts, yet another person exited the helicopter. This person wasn’t wearing the Team Meteor uniform. In fact, her appearance was so much more recognizable than when I saw her last, that one look at her from this distance was enough to make me pull away from the cave’s entrance.

“Jasmin is here,” I told Pikachu. “But what? Does this mean that she’s joined Team Meteor?”

The other three approached me and I grabbed Julia by her hair, lest she go outside and be found by the grunts that were clearly scanning the place.

“Ouchie, Vanini. Why are you pulling on my hair?” she complained.

“Shhh. Team Meteor is outside.”

This, of course, had the most impact on Taka.

“Oh no. She’s found me already. I’m done for,” he cried.

“She hasn’t found you yet. And she won’t find you, if we quickly think of a plan,” I said.

Team Meteor perhaps had come all the way here looking for Taka. That wasn’t a farfetched supposition. Yet, Jasmin being part of that search group made me suspect that he wasn’t the only one being looked for, and, if I was right, I was painfully unprepared for it. I hadn’t yet found a way to win a man-to-man fight against her, given her weird magical ribbon on her head, and I wasn’t as optimistic as to believe that Pikachu faking her out would also do the job this time. Hence, coming up with a plan to leave this place without being noticed was as important to me as it was for Taka.

“There’s one addition to Team Meteor,” I informed them, and allowed them to take a peek outside. “The girl in the red top and white pants. That’s Jasmin Agrabah. Long story short, she’s looking for me to force me to return to Everland. Her hairband is actually a magical ribbon that she can manipulate to her liking. I want to avoid her if I can help it, and Taka wants to avoid Team Meteor from finding him as well. So let us think of how we can achieve that.”

To be honest, even before we started thinking at all, I didn’t feel confident about devising any such plan. We were in a cave which only exits were the one we were standing by, and the two practically underwater ones that I assumed must exist so that a river could flow. I didn’t think we could use either of the underwater exits, because I couldn’t ascertain for how long we would have to hold our breaths in order to get out, even if our pokemon could dive with us.

Yet, not thinking about a plan just because our escape seemed hopeless was most likely not a good idea either. 

“Ma’am, there’s an opening here,” said a grunt just outside. “I believe I hear a cascade from within too.”

I took a peek outside, and saw that Jasmin was now headed this way. Unfortunately, that meant time was already up. We couldn’t even get the chance to think of a plan in the end.

“Never mind. I guess we can only wait for the inevitable.”

I slid my hips down to the ground.

 

[Insert picture I forgot to make of Julia, Archer and Jasmin so y'all can see why Julia commented on Jasmin's hair]

“Julia, follow my lead,” Archer said out of nowhere, and with equal spontaneity left the cave with Julia. I barely had time to lift my face up and see them leave, but when I sprang up to run after them, Taka stopped me.

“It’s too late. We’ve got to trust Archer on this one,” he said, and I bit my lips with frustration.

“Don’t move!” I heard a grunt shout at the two.

I dared not peek anymore, for I was sure they were close enough to see me if I did. I supposed Archer and Julia stopped in their tracks, since no one else repeated the order.

“My my, there are people in this deserted place. I guess she wasn’t sending us on a fool’s errand after all,” I heard Jasmin say. “You two. State your names.”

“I’m Archer Woods and this is-”

“Julia Wilde, captain of cheer and all things bubbly and bright! Also, gym leader of Peridot Ward. Nice to meet you! I hope you don’t mind me complimenting your great taste in hairstyles. I think we could be good friends.”

“We’re here in Tourmaline Desert to enjoy our honeymoon,” Archer said.

“Wha- oh… yeah! We’re husband and wife,” she said, and I heard some exaggerated, unnaturally loud kissing noises which made me sick.

“So forget what I said. I’m Julia Woods. Hehe, it’ll take me a while to get used to my new last name.”

I face-palmed at how they were messing up so early into this, but Jasmin apparently didn’t mind playing their game. She must’ve seen through their lie, but chose to ignore it.

“Archer Woods… huh? I recall that last name, and seeing those bushy eyebrows, I now know from where,” she said. “Weren’t you part of the Everland Police a couple of years ago? I remember seeing you in one interesting trial.”

“Yes, I was,” replied Archer. “And you are Miss Jasmin Agrabah, one of Chief Agrabah’s daughters.”

“I am. Very well. What a coincidence that we’ve met here. So you chose to come to Reborn City out of all places. I mean, sure, it’s an affordable city to live in, but it must’ve been quite the downgrade after spending all your life in Everland.”

“Hey! Reborn City is now very pretty, okay? We’ve made it so very pretty, even after all the destruction that ahem Team Meteor ahem caused. That makes it more valuable than the natural beauty of your Everland,” Julia said.

“I can agree somewhat with that. Nothing compares to what has many a time been called paradise or utopia, but Reborn City has improved exponentially since my arrival here about half a year ago. We must give credit where it’s due.”

I heard Julia growl at this, but she said no more. It was Archer’s turn to speak.

“I’m surprised to see you so well accompanied,” he said, most likely referring to the Team Meteor grunts.

“Ah, them? I’m only joining forces with them for now, because we could strike a most advantageous deal,” she said. “We’re searching for two fugitives together. One of which you might remember the name of.”

“Who are you searching for?”

“Vanilla Leiderhosen,” she said without missing a beat. “She was finally found out to be the leader of the Defiance, just like you had found her to be. We raided her base and found fingerprints and notes, and we have more than one direct witness that will testify in court as soon as she’s back. My job has been to search for her and forcefully bring her to Everland for a proper trial, but, as you can imagine, it’s too much work for a single person to be going around the entirety of the Reborn region looking for her. It’s even worse, though, because the one person I relegated half the work to turned out to be a betrayer too. That’s my luck, I guess. Anyway I finally resorted to striking a deal with Team Meteor, who has a better understanding of where she currently is.”

“Why do you tell me this? Isn’t it confidential information, especially since you seem to have come to Reborn undercover?”

“There’s practically no need for me to be undercover anymore, given that this region is in the middle of a civil war of sorts, and I have allied myself with the side that is dominating. I told you all this because you were once a loyal member of the Everland Police, and I’m sure you’d be happy to know that your bravery in court, which cost you your job and residence, was not in vain.”

I wondered what kind of deal Jasmin could’ve struck with Team Meteor. She must’ve given or promised something in return for intel on my location. The only thing that I could’ve thought Team Meteor to want in return was the 4 jewels, but Ruby was with Heather and Amethyst was with Radomus, leaving me with none currently. 

Yet, I needed not think about it for long, because Jasmin answered part of my question: “I said I was looking for two fugitives. The other person I’m looking for is Taka Alcantara. Part of my deal with Team Meteor is to find him and return him to his father. Do you not happen to have seen Vanilla or him around these parts?”

I held my breath. I couldn’t wait to hear a flat denial to come out of Archer’s mouth, but also I couldn’t refute that this was the perfect opportunity for him to take revenge on me. If worse came to worst, I would take advantage of the darkness of this cave and fight Jasmin. Perhaps I would have to drown her in the pond, but I wondered whether I would succeed in the attempt or she’d drown me instead.

“No, we haven’t seen them, right?” Julia answered on Archer's behalf.

“No, we haven’t.”

“Really? That’s odd. I thought that woman was earnest when she told me they were in this part of the desert,” Jasmin said. “Such a shame that I’ve come all the way here for nothing.”

“It’s really too bad! I wish we had good news to give you,” Julia said.

“It is what it is, then.”

There was a pause here, and for a brief optimistic moment, I thought that maybe Jasmin would leave now. I was wrong, of course: she was only thinking of what tactic to use. 

“The other part of my deal with Team Meteor was to somehow discourage Vanilla from fighting them. It appears that she’s grown too strong and already spoiled many of their plans,” she said. “To that effect, I gave them her ex-lover. I don’t know how much bargaining power he’ll have, but I figured they could find that out by themselves.”

It was apparent that the tactic she chose was to directly lure me out by triggering me. Yet, what she didn’t know was that it would be an unsuccessful attempt.

“They’ll eventually know that he doesn’t hold any such bargaining power,” I muttered. “I don’t care about him at all.”

“In any case, I also wanted to get rid of him so it all worked out,” Jasmin said, sounding too jolly.

“Vanini’s ex-lover?” Julia exclaimed. “Uh, I mean, why did you want to get rid of him?”

“He was the traitor that wasted my time. I had no use for him anymore.”

The conversation, I thought, would end there. Jasmin had already told them about her motives for coming here, the deal she struck with Team Meteor, and in return, Archer and Julia had told her that they hadn’t seen either of us. What else could there be to talk about?

 

“Mr. Woods?” said Jasmin after a moment of deliberation.

“Yes?”

“Wouldn’t you give me a hand in looking for Vanilla? If you find her for me, I guarantee you'll be given your Everland citizenship back. I’m sure you miss your friends and family, and your comfortable home.”

“Taka,” I whispered when Jasmin finished talking and Archer hesitated to give a reply. “I’ll show myself now and lure them into this darkness.”

“No, don’t do that,” he said, desperately fumbling around my dress until he found my arm and clenched it. “If they find us, there’s no way we can escape.”

“They came on a helicopter. There can’t be more than 10 people in total. I didn’t see that many when I checked,” I said. “I’m sure we can take them on. I can count on you and Julia to fight the grunts, and I’ll be Jasmin’s opponent.”

Taka’s grip would not soften for a moment.

“Calm down, Vanilla. At least wait for Archer’s answer.”

Archer’s answer did come, eventually.

“I do miss my family and friends back there,” he said. “If I ever find Vanilla and the other fugitive, I’ll be sure to take them to you.”

There was a pause following his statement. 

I was thrown out of my rhythm so much that I wasn’t even sure what I felt was actually relief. Taka, however, did feel it, for he released my arm.

I was not the only one caught off guard too. Jasmin didn’t speak for a time, which was long enough to make me wonder why Julia wasn’t saying anything either. When she broke her silence at last, she laughed.

“I thank you for your diligence,” she said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have to search this place fully, and that means we need access to that cave behind you.”

My heart jumped. I wondered what Archer would say to save our skins this time.

“We just came from there, and we didn’t see anybody. There’s only a little cascade of water that has accumulated into a small pond.”

“You must be telling the truth about that. Otherwise I couldn’t explain why you’re so soaked in the middle of the desert,” she said. “However, you couldn’t call me a proper police officer if I took a person’s word for it and didn’t do the searching myself, could you?”

“But I’m a fellow officer. You can trust me,” Archer said with despair.

“I was with him too. We saw nobody,” Julia concurred.

“You were a police officer, Mr. Woods. Now, let a current one do her job.”

 

We knew when Jasmin entered with her pack of grunts, because the cave lit up substantially. I didn’t know whether it was her pokemon, but a large canine pokemon followed her, probably attempting to sniffle out our smell. We couldn’t hear anything she, Archer, Julia or the grunts said, however, because our hearing was completely drowned out by the sound of water. Our vision, too, was limited and mostly blurred out, so all we could do was watch their shadows moving from one corner of the cave to another.

When Taka saw that Jasmin would likely come into the cave regardless of what Archer and Julia said, he grabbed my hand and ran to the pond. I resisted, since I could tell that his plan was to dive in there and hide from our pursuers, but I didn’t like the idea of diving without a pokemon to support me. He didn’t give me time to send out anyone, however, and pulled me so strongly that I practically fell into the water yet again.

He guided me- because I would’ve otherwise drowned- to the other side of the small cascade. Behind the falling water was just enough space for our heads to poke out, and we remained there with as much of our heads under water as possible.

Jasmin and her grunts searched the cave for at least half an hour, but at last, she gave up and ordered her grunts to retreat. When the lights went out again, we waited a little longer to be safe, and then exited the body of water.

“Taka! Vanini! She’s gone, so you can come out,” Julia was shouting when we were far enough from the cascade to hear a thing.

“We’re here,” Taka said.

“Oh! I’m glad to hear your voice, Tacos! I was beginning to think you hid yourselves in the water and drowned.”

“That’d defeat the purpose of hiding,” I said. 

“To be honest, I thought you two would be goners when she entered the cave,” Archer said. “And you definitely would’ve been, had she not chosen an unsuitable companion for the search.”

“What do you mean?”

“She brought an Arcanine. It’s standard for police officers here to have Growlithes, so I’m a little knowledgeable on them. They’re exceptional for finding things in dry climates, but it can’t sniffle through water. Miss Jasmin probably didn’t expect to find water in the desert, though, so her choice was just unfortunate. Or rather, fortunate for us.”

Before his explanation, I had assumed that Taka had chosen a very appropriate hiding place, since I thought the water would help quench our smell. But what’s done is done. With all the constant bad luck that follows me around, I had forgotten I could get lucky sometimes. 

“Well, I’m glad that's over with. I’m tired from one thing after another,” I said, lifting Pikachu to my wet shoulder.

“Yeah. I’d like to take a nap now. That conversation with Jasmin sure exhausted my nerves,” Archer said. “Let’s return to Train Town.”

 

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I followed Archer out of the cave and was blinded by the sunlight. Yet, I believed I had to speak up right then and there, or else I might never get the chance to.

“Wait Archer,” I said, still unable to see him.

“What is it?”

“Why did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“She could’ve lifted your exile order. You could’ve gone back home,” I said. “Yet you denied knowing where we were. Why would you do that?”

“I told you before. Reborn is now my home, so Miss Jasmin’s proposal didn’t have the power she thought it had on me.”

By then my eyes had recovered enough to see him. His expression didn’t betray dishonesty, but I was still in disbelief.

“Did you do that to make me indebted to you? I won’t think of repaying my debt, just so you know.”

I thought this would anger him, but he kept his serene composure.

“No. Not at all, in fact. If anything, I felt I was repaying a debt by trying to protect you and Taka from Miss Jasmin.”

“A debt? What debt?”

“I’m still not done repaying it,” he said.

“What debt?” I asked again.

“The debt I have for being an ass to you for this long,” he said.

This, of course, was unexpected to me. He had been acting strange- unusually friendly- these past few days, but this was just way too weird for me to withstand. 

Since I wouldn’t speak, he asked me a question to fill the silence.

“Vanilla. What do you do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?”

This was a strange, entirely unconnected question, which added to my growing suspicion that Archer was losing his mind.

“Would you care to answer my question?”

“I do training, I guess.”

“What sort of training?”

“Exercising. One can never do too much of that, if one is to be prepared to fight anyone. Ever since I’ve come to this region, though, I’ve scarcely had time to train my own body, and I’ve lost fights that I could’ve otherwise won. The time has instead been spent fighting Team Meteor or training my pokemon team.”

“I see,” he said. “But don’t you think that's odd?”

“What part of it is odd?”

“That you call that a hobby.”

“I don’t call that a hobby. I just said I do training.”

“What about the arts- drawing, writing, perhaps? Playing games? What about gardening or shopping?” he said, and upon suddenly approaching me, asked. “What about anything that doesn’t relate to fighting or the Defiance?”

I took a step back, for I’d rather take my distance from a man whose mental state I couldn’t vouch for.

“There’s no time for idle things such as those,” was my reply.

 

I didn’t think I had said anything extraordinary, but that sentence alone silenced Archer. He looked severely distraught for whatever reason, as though he had just witnessed his mother being killed. At last, though, his composure returned, and he spoke again.

“Sorry. That was so predictable, so you, that it was somehow surprising,” he said, shaking his head. “Fine. I’ll tell you what feelings have haunted me these past days. I think that my actions today will then be self-explanatory.”

Archer cleared his throat and started pacing.

“Ever since I found out that you were one of the leaders of an organization that had stolen our weapons, killed our co-workers, and destabilized the economy of the Underworld, I painted you as my enemy. This was encouraged further when you cheated me in court and when I was exiled for accusing you of treason without foundation. You were the enemy I was justified in hating.”

“This story again? Don’t you get tired of repeating it like a broken record?”

Archer raised a hand. He was not done speaking, it seemed.

“When you beat up my Aqua gang friends, when you stole all our bikes, when you punched my jaw, I confirmed that you were my enemy. I tried to keep blindly hating you, by demeaning the good things you did, and exalting your shortcomings. But…”

Here he took an unnaturally long pause, and I took the opportunity to search where Julia and Taka had gone to. It may sound incredible, but I would’ve actually appreciated Julia to cut into our conversation with one of her random ramblings. Yet, it appeared that they hadn’t even exited the cave.

“But what?” I asked, because the silence and his staring were uncomfortable.

He sighed. “But these past few days, camping with you, talking, playing, and going on explorations together… I can no longer be blind. Even if I could downplay your involvement in the employment workshop or in saving this region back when you were nothing but an extrapolation of Vanilla Eterna, the Defiance Leader in my mind, the reality is, I can’t do that anymore. Not now that I got to know who you are as a person.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m still the same person I was when I was Leader.”

“Perhaps you are, but I had misjudged you,” he said. “I met you almost a year ago, in Lapis Ward. That means you have spent a year or even more in this region, fighting the terrorists and bringing this region back to prosperity.

“Yet, during that time, you also never forgot about the Defiance. You still want to go back to Everland to accomplish what you were prevented to do. At first I thought of this as yet another reason to fuel my hate, for even now, I’m still an officer at heart. However, I now think differently; it’s more like you’re suffering from a curse.”

“Suffering from a curse?” I laughed through my nose. “You’re definitely losing your sanity, if you think that my wanting to rebel against Everland’s Status Quo is some act of magic.”

“I said it’s like a curse, not a real curse. Listen, Vanilla. You’re young. You have so many things you could be doing, instead of breaking the law, causing social instability or killing people. Yet, all you think about is how to solve Reborn’s problems or how you can get stronger to fight in Everland. Judging whether to keep your hair long on the basis of giving you an advantage in fighting, or not having a single proper hobby… if it isn’t a curse, a curse of being brainwashed by the people in the Underworld, then what is it?”

Now he was touching a subject that I wasn’t just going to listen quietly in.

“I haven’t been brainwashed,” I shouted. “You wouldn’t know anything about the Defiance, or what I thought or didn’t. Don’t talk as if you knew it all.”

“Sorry, perhaps I have chosen the wrong words, but I will still think how I think. Vanilla, you’re the type of person who tries to do the ‘right thing’ regardless of your personal feelings. Otherwise, I couldn’t explain why you saved me from the sinkhole or the garchomp statues two days ago, and from slipping down the cave earlier today, despite hating me. They definitely found a perfect candidate to exploit: they only needed to convince you that their side was ‘right’.”

“Objectively speaking, the oppressors are always in the wrong, so they didn’t have to convince me of anything. If anything, the one being brainwashed is you, who still thinks the Everland Police has any justification for insisting on oppressing the Underworld.”

This had the effect I had intended. Archer looked stunned for a moment and fell silent. 

I looked behind me, toward the cave, wondering if the reason why Julia and Taka still hadn’t exited the cave was because they were listening in to our conversation, without being seen by either of us.

“You are right,” Archer said, bringing my focus back to him. “I don’t know which side is right, if there’s a right side at all. I’m not an expert in politics, but only one who used to be a police officer, though I’d always thought I was an above-average thinker. Yet, there’s a limit to what I can conclude through just thinking, and how society should operate is way out of my scope.”

He took a deep breath and smiled.

“But one thing I know for sure is that, from the very beginning, I was wrong in deciding that you were my enemy.”

I opened my mouth to say something, but he talked over me.

“Perhaps I owe you an apology, since you wanted me to keep hating you. I’m sorry. But I can’t keep hating you as if you were my nemesis, when I now see you as a victim of your own self-righteousness and naivety.”
Now I could speak.

“Here I was hoping you’d have something worthwhile to conclude,” I said. “Are you trying to offend me? Self-righteousness and naivety? You might think you’re an above-average thinker, which, frankly, I doubt is the case, but you certainly are below-average in your word choice.”

Archer laughed at this, but said that he had chosen his words carefully. He then stretched out a hand, and he probably intended for me to shake it.

“I hope you and I can start fresh. Just because we were enemies at one point, it doesn’t follow that we need to keep being enemies for life. From my part, at least, that won’t be the case.”

I looked down at his hand, but scowled.

“Well, I’m not obliged to change my mind just because you changed yours. I don’t shake hands with my enemies.”

“Ahh, Vanini! Why must you ruin the mood like that?” Julia exclaimed, finally leaving her post inside the cave.

Taka followed her outside too, and commented a few words that implied they really had been listening in to our conversation from just behind the cave’s entrance.

 

And though I had to listen Julia endlessly complain about my behavior towards Archer, who, according to her, was trying to become friends with me, I was relieved that we could finally return to train town, tell them the good news about the water, and be off to do what I had originally come to Tourmaline Desert to do: battle Titania.

 

*Aquaboom is the best Julia slang I’ve ever come up with and I felt like a genius when I did.

 

VANILLA RATES: REBORN CHARACTERS

Spoiler
  • Julia (+1 -1 +1): 6/10 The tournament was nice, but she almost drowned me, but also she tried to persuade Jasmin not to go in the cave
  • Taka (+1): 3/10 Didn't just look after himself, which he could've well done, but pulled me with him to the hideout under the cascade
  • Archer (+0.1): 2.1/10 I'm feeling charitable

 

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4 minutes ago, J-Awesome_One said:

That was a real good read. Kind of expected Archer to turn good here too. Can't wait to see Vanilla take on Tania though! I need to see some Pokemon battling!

The reason why I wrote Jasmin’s back story was because she’d make a sudden appearance here and I didn’t want y’all to be like, Who?? But then I hiatus’d for 2 months+ so it had zero effect anyway 😂

There was going to be Pokémon battles for the tourney but Online Play wouldn’t cooperate and then I thought I could make it more exciting and explosive  by writing which is what I did xD

The next episode I’m adding a bit of extra non-canon bit to Tania, which I’m pretty excited to write. But that means we might be saying some goodbyes...

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Sorry Vanilla, you lost to Julia, return the badge.

 

8 hours ago, Candy said:

They’re exceptional for finding things in dry climates, but it can’t sniffle through water.

This is actually brilliant!

 

I believe Archer is just quintuple-crossing and is still an enemy,

 

Aquaboom: Electric type, 70 bp, this move is super effective on ground types. Introduced in gen 9.

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This chapter was amanzing after I put the pieces of the past chapters together. It was worth it😁

 

But I'm glad, the group are now safe from Team Meteor... For now...

 

16 hours ago, Candy said:

“We’re here in Tourmaline Desert to enjoy our honeymoon,” Archer said.

“Wha- oh… yeah! We’re husband and wife,” she said, and I heard some exaggerated, unnaturally loud kissing noises which made me sick.

Lmaaaooo, I just died from laughter there. That's now my new OTP. Julia x Archer🤣🤣🤣🤣

 

Also Jasmin joining Team Meteor now? Why does it reminded me a little of Fern now? And her trading her booyfrieend just to catch Vanini? What a backstabbing Salazzle.

 

14 hours ago, Candy said:

The reason why I wrote Jasmin’s back story was because she’d make a sudden appearance here and I didn’t want y’all to be like, Who?? But then I hiatus’d for 2 months+ so it had zero effect anyway 😂

I do remember her backstory, so it didn't had any zero effect on me. Don't worry about it. 

 

But I'm worry for Alladin now, though he does deserve punishment for what he being the cause as well for Vanini's reasons. 

 

Spoiler

Also could Team Meteor have now a PULSE- Articuno, since Alladin has one in his team; being experimented and that means they'll give us the same treatment like Team Neo Plasma did with Opelucid City in BW2?

 

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10 hours ago, Corso said:

Sorry Vanilla, you lost to Julia, return the badge.

*sad vanini noises*

 

10 hours ago, Corso said:

This is actually brilliant!

Glad you found it brilliant because it was a last minute ass-pull xD I thought dogs couldn't smell through water, but then I googled and found out they can (for example, dogs that smell dead people that have sunk in a lake or something). So I thought about how to make this still work cause if Vanini and Taka get caught it's bye-bye Tania's Gym. 'twas one of those times I had to go for plot-driven rather than character-driven stuff 😓

 

10 hours ago, Corso said:

I believe Archer is just quintuple-crossing and is still an enemy,

Vanilla agrees

 

10 hours ago, Corso said:

Aquaboom: Electric type, 70 bp, this move is super effective on ground types. Introduced in gen 9.

Julia approves 👍

 

2 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

This chapter was amanzing after I put the pieces of the past chapters together. It was worth it😁

Glad you liked it! Cause I was berry subtly leading up to it in the whole Tourmaline saga. I think I managed not to crash the landing

 

2 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

Lmaaaooo, I just died from laughter there. That's now my new OTP. Julia x Archer🤣🤣🤣🤣

Julia approves xD

 

2 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

Also Jasmin joining Team Meteor now? Why does it reminded me a little of Fern now? And her trading her booyfrieend just to catch Vanini? What a backstabbing Salazzle.

In her backstory I hinted that she wasn't in love with Aladdin (she received a love letter from him but didn't care) and only dated him cause he'd be useful (Vanini had a crush on him in their school days). Besides I guess she thinks Aladdin backstabbed her first which her ego wouldn't allow lol

I might post a side chapter about Aladdin being taken hostage by Team Meteor some time in the future, which will feature Aya who's seen zero action for a longass time in-game and in-story. I was waiting for this episode where Vanilla becomes aware of what happened to Aladdin to be posted before I wrote that one.

 

2 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

I do remember her backstory, so it didn't had any zero effect on me. Don't worry about it. 

I tend to assume everyone has as bad a memory as I do lol 

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7 hours ago, Candy said:

In her backstory I hinted that she wasn't in love with Aladdin (she received a love letter from him but didn't care) and only dated him cause he'd be useful (Vanini had a crush on him in their school days). Besides I guess she thinks Aladdin backstabbed her first which her ego wouldn't allow lol

Oh, these facts. I might read them again😂

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I do remember Jasmine having this weird Sylveon mutation and that she used it to cheat in a tournament, and that initially she thought the world (and her father's job) was simply catching criminals at first but then she discovered court trials are much more complex.

 

I have bad memory, but that is mostly for physics, important things to do and mails to answer to.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This may be my favorite chapter of FEtR to date. So many great events happening at once! Julia's acting is top-notch.

 

Also, I agree with Corso. Give back the first badge to Julia, Vanini. xD

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