6:04 A.M. June 18, Friday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)
Events: The start of the 2nd week in the Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League Preliminaries. 3rd day of the Round Robin Summer Indigo Cup. Four days after Ho-Oh’s Viridian appearance, healing everyone.
Rhea rolled to her side with a groan, taking a few minutes to get up; Amira was awake and finishing her morning routine at the mirror outside of the bathroom, and Amber was still getting a bit more sleep on her bed.
Untethering Nova’s grasping paws and scooting away from Mya, sleeping beside her since she didn’t need to be on guard for the night, Rhea carefully got out of bed with a yawn.
Doing a few light stretches, she glanced around the dully lit room with a soft giggle upon catching Mallory and her Pokémon, restless sleepers as always.
Her long purple hair was styled with pins for the night, pulled up to keep out of the way, exposing her neck. Her blankets were off, showing off her bikini and ample curves while lying sideways on her bed, Miky draped across her, Gables on her left leg.
Rhea carefully put the blanket back over Nova and Mya’s sleeping forms, allowing them to rest a bit more while she got ready. Amira and Amber said good morning to her as she took out her morning products, heading into the bathroom.
It didn’t take her long to finish; Amira enjoying cold showers was a plus since it left plenty of hot water for Mallory and her.
Once out of the bathroom, she saw Amira on her phone, the holographic screen showing Gardenia City’s map to better familiarize herself with their surroundings.
She was a little taken aback when Amira looked down at Amber before whispering, “Hey, Rhea … Amber says she’ll blow-dry your hair if you want.”
“Hmm?” Memories of online celebrities flashed back inside Rhea’s mind. “Thanks, but, umm … I heard air-drying was the healthiest way?”
Amira chuckled, shaking her head. “They used to believe that, but Viridian University recently came out with a study that shows blow-drying, if done at the right distance and temperature, can actually cause less damage than letting hair air-dry.”
“Why?” Rhea asked, pulling around her damp hair and giving a slight frown. “Wouldn’t no heat be better?”
“Hmm,” Amira folded her legs the opposite way, setting her phone on the arm. “One sec, let me think about what I remember about the study…
“Mmh, right,” she mumbled, glancing at the wall, “Each strand of your hair is essentially a tube with an inner cortex and a protective outer layer called a cuticle, held together by delicate proteins. When the cuticle layer is perfectly intact, then your hair is gleaming and doesn’t tend to break, but too much heat can cause damage to the cuticle by trapping water inside the cortex and actually causing the water to boil … not pretty, huh?”
Rhea slowly nodded while taking a seat across from her. “Right, but isn’t that a reason not to blow-dry?”
Amira giggled. “I’m just telling you what the research found. However, if using a hairdryer at the right distance and temperature, it can help it be much healthier because when your hair comes in contact with water, it swells. The longer the swelling goes on … say, for two hours, which is the usual time it takes for hair to dry, the more pressure it puts on the delicate proteins that keep your hair intact, causing more damage.”
“Eh,” Rhea gave her a forced grin, “if both ways hurt your hair, then what’s the right way to do it?”
“Mhm,” Amira nodded, and Rhea realized Amira was actually opening up a lot more than usual, “the researchers found that you should first let your hair dry to about 70 to 80%, then blow-dry it with the coolest setting, keeping it about 6-inches away at all times.”
“Huh,” Rhea gave her a bright smile. “Thanks for the tip! Yeah, I’ll try it out. So, I should wait for another hour or so?”
Amira shrugged, fiddling with her glasses attached to her dress front. “I mean, that’s just what’s been recently discovered; my grandmother usually sends me some of those tips when new studies come out.”
“Cool!” Rhea whispered, thinking back on the sharply dressed and beautiful redhead that Amira got much of her looks from. It was a bit interesting, seeing as Giovanni had black hair and Lyra brown, but the red strain pulled through on Ariana and Silver’s side. “Yeah, I’ll give it a shot.”
Amber chirped a happy response, and Amira reached down to scratch behind her ears; the fox’s flames turning to tufts to enjoy the affectionate touch. “She wanted to learn more about how she could help me in the morning and wanted to see if you wanted to join us.”
Mallory groaned, rolling over, sending Miky flopping onto his stomach; she cracked open an eye with a yawn. “Yeah … I’ll join, too, if it’s not too much trouble. Man, hair takes forever to dry, though.”
“Right?” Rhea chuckled
The fire fox answered in the affirmative, and they both thanked her again.
The purple-haired girl took a bit longer to get up, pulling Miky into a hug while closing her eyes again. “... Five more minutes,” she yawned, closing her eyes.
Amira and Rhea smiled, returning to their phones.
Rhea took the opportunity to pull up PikaBook, catching up on everyone’s progress and what’s new with her family.
Jason’s group was still trekking through Viridian Forest to find Jason’s 2nd Pokémon; he hadn’t had much luck yet, and the signal in the areas they were going was spotty, forcing them to rely on satellite instead of towers, which didn’t always work that well, depending on the weather.
He managed to get a few cool pictures, his mother commenting all over them, talking about how good they were. Rhea added her own comments and liked a few that showed off some Pokémon she hadn’t seen before. She was a little surprised at the variety Viridian held, but it was massive, and travel between regions had exploded in the last century with all the new inventions.
Swapping over to Sam, Hannah, and Jade’s linked profile, a smile curved Rhea’s lips; she adjusted her skirt while shifting to a better position.
The three girls were on a winning streak since returning from Viridian Forest and their training session; they went from constant losses to dominating the competition, and not just with their new Pokémon. Their confidence was on the rise.
Sam was still experiencing the pressure in her chest, but Ho-Oh’s rejuvenating energies that night seemed to help her a lot, and the same could be said for Hannah. Their Pokémon were getting along great.
However, Jade was having a much rougher time; the crew had to plan their travel time around her since her little Pichu required a lot of her energy to keep stable.
Mimi was worried about how demanding her needs were, but Jade kept telling her how much the little girl meant to her; they’d get past this trial together and rise up like Lyra told them they could! Lyra had joined their PikaBook profile and was adding messages of encouragement that really kept the pair motivated.
That being said, the group made sure to get their three daily battles over early in the day, giving them an accurate estimate of how far Jade could travel.
She saw a DM from Jade that put a small frown on her lips.
6:17 A.M. Jade: Hey, Rhea! Umm, I just had a question…
6:19 A.M. Jade: So, I’ve been really sore since bonding with Mimi, not that I really mind it since she’s wonderful and needs my energy, but I’m just wondering if there’s anything I can do to make it a little easier because last night it was kind of hard to fall asleep.
6:43 A.M. Rhea: Umm … I totally get it. Eh, really, there isn’t much you can do, from my experience, other than keeping your Pokémon in their pokéballs when you know it might be getting too much. Although, I think if you keep them out longer, it may hurt in the short-term, but if it’s not unbearable, then it strengthens your fortitudes faster. That’s my advice, anyway.
6:44 A.M. Jade: Oh, thanks for the reply, Rhea! Yeah, that makes sense … actually, it kind of connects to something Lyra told us. We’re getting stronger!
6:44 A.M. Rhea: Yeah! Keep it up; I’m cheering for you!
6:45 A.M. Jade: Sweet! We found our next opponents! TTYL and wish us luck!
6:46 A.M. Rhea: You got this! Tell me how it went once you win. ;)
6:46 A.M. Jade: Sure thing!
6:47 A.M. Jade: One more thing. Depending on how much energy I use in these matches, we’re getting closer to Dark City; we’re pushing hard! So, umm, will you guys be around?
6:47 A.M. Rhea: Umm … we’ll probably be there or heading up to Pewter tomorrow, so maybe. Let me know where you are tomorrow.
6:47 A.M. Jade: Sounds good! TTYL, for real this time! Lol.”
Backing out to the overview of her notifications, she caught sight of a message Bianca made to her mother’s profile last night that snatched her interest.
10:11 P.M. Bianca: Hey, Aunt Christie … I got the new Dream Device you were working on, and I’m eager to test it with Kayla as the medium to enter the Dream World, but I’m a little confused about the instructions you sent on how to calibrate it to enter the proper zone. You have any suggestions? @Mom @Great Grandma Carolina
She’d heard stories about Masters entering the Dream World for specific purposes but was a little surprised to see Bianca doing it. Her cousin was probably doing it to help Rhea’s mother with a project since she was so busy between breeding the team she’d planned for Rhea and doing something with Lusamine after the woman woke up.
Earlier that day, Bianca commented about Hilbert being away with Ethan. They traveled north to the Sinjoh region to push Hilbert’s fortitudes more in a place that was actually challenging for Champion-tier Trainers.
That left Bianca alone for a few weeks to get more cooking and research done; she’d been practicing with psychic flying recently, too, after Sabin mentioned it to her. Bianca was a bit flustered about the question, saying she was practicing it with Hilbert, but it’s harder than Sabin thought to travel long distances between towns like that.
Rhea shot her a quick DM.
6:48 A.M. Rhea: Yo, cuz, what’s up with you going to the Dream World?
Bianca didn’t respond, meaning she was probably already within the Dream World; she’d be gone for probably several more hours before waking up to cook for herself. The indicator showed her cousin was offline, too.
Figuring she would respond when up, Rhea swapped to Nova’s Move list that her mother sent her; she had to come up with some kind of combination they could do for the Rookie Contest.
Adaptability - Always Active
Run Away - Always Active
She had an idea of what she wanted to do, but they hadn’t practiced it at all, which wasn’t great; Rhea concluded that they should probably do something a bit more manageable in the showcase stage.
Splitting the screen, Rhea accessed her personal Pokédex Account that she created when Mallory bought them their Team Subscription, adding the Moves and Abilities her Pokémon had for easy reference when going up against opponents. The App would sync with her account and give her tips when putting in their opponent. Some comments could be pretty trolly, but the site did a decent job filtering them out and suspending toxic people.
Rhea had only seen Top-Tier Matches in the Contest scene, mainly following three individuals; she liked going back and watching her aunt’s performances, too.
There were relatively few Grandmaster Contests, and they only took place every four years, changing hosting regions since they had to make sure the few contestants that qualified were adequately prepared and available for the showdown, which meant it was a huge event that drew in crowds around the world.
She noted that they had a lot more Moves than their competition would; it was practically guaranteed, yet executing them in a showy manner would be new to them. Of course, Rhea wasn’t expecting to win; she just wanted to give it a shot, and Contests wouldn’t be the biggest focus on her Bronze-tier journey, but since a contest within their bracket was nearby, she thought it would be good to give it a go.
Rhea went to a highly viewed and rated What You Should Know video on PokéTube to get the general layout of what she should expect from a Rookie Contest. The recordings of her aunt’s Contests were a part of an older format; she’d first experienced it when she was five years old.
The Contests she usually watched were in the Hyper and Master-tier, but the video explained so much more than she realized about the formats.
Overview: The PAC, A.K.A. Pokémon Activities Committee, oversees everything related to Contests. They organize sponsored and community-paid events to draw in contestants while developing the rules by which Trainer and Pokémon were judged.
Effect Additions: The use of Ball Capsules and Seals were commonplace these days for Hyper Contests but very expensive for most Trainers below that Rank unless you are a successful Battle Trainer. Adding effects to your pokéballs doesn't come cheap.
Qualification Parameters: Each Tier of Battle Trainer is placed within their own bracket to make the contests more competitive and fair.
Bronze-tier: Rookie Contests.
Silver-tier: Rookie to Normal Contests.
Gold-tier: Rookie to Super Contests.
Platinum-tier: Rookie to Hyper Contests.
Master-tier: Rookie to Master Contests.
High-Master+: Rookie to Grandmaster.
Bronze-tier Contests are typically held once a week since only a few competitors enter at this rank, choosing to focus more on advancing their Tier to enter Silver and Gold, with most Trainers finding only Super Contests netted you enough earnings to make a living.
Bronze has incentives for contestants to appear since the competitions precede the anticipated Friday Hyper Contest as an opening act. Silver Normal Contests may get your foot into the door to have an edge when jumping into the Gold Bracket, having fans may help boost your public ranking.
Contest Styles: The four styles of contest determine what Trainers are expected to perform. All Contests have a Loser’s Bracket to offer a way back into the fight. The styles are as followed:
Battle Styles: These Contests run in a series over a few weeks, with contestants being paired at random. Trainers can enter into six categories: coolness, beauty, cuteness, cleverness, toughness, and Star League, comprising every type.
1st Stage - A light show of a Pokémon’s Skills to get the crowd and judges attention, which nets a bonus score that could help tip the scales if the battle points are close in Stage 2.
2nd Stage - A match designed to bring out the performance in a Trainer and their Pokémon. Many League battles could be called performances, but the Battle Format is solely intended to favor the Trainer that manages to knock out their opponent’s team. On the other hand, Contests are about the style in which a Trainer can sway the heart of the masses. A desperate, beautiful gambit that loses a Trainer the match could win them the contest.
Drama Styles: The art of the performance within a theater of story-telling and passion. These contests are generally done by teams of three to six Trainers who craft something memorable for the masses to judge in a series of competing plays.
Opera Styles: The combination of song and theater, Trainer and Pokémon, displaying a show of passion that competes with its fellows to win over the crowd.
Concert Style: Less about the story and more about the hype; bands come from all over the region to be noticed and build a name for themselves in the Contest community.
Battle Format: Each Style has its own number of Pokémon and Trainers that can compete, but all but the Battle Style are reasonably flexible on the numbers that participate.
Rookie Contests (Nickel Keys):
- Single Performance is the only format. Only one Pokémon is allowed to compete within a Contest.
Normal Contests (Bronze Keys): Solo and Team are two different Contests to avoid fortitude issues.
- Single Performance
- Double Performance (Solo): A Trainer may only use two Pokémon and cannot swap them out for the next series of matches within the same Contest. One backup replacement may be selected before the start of the competition.
- Double Performance (Team): Two Trainers that each use one Pokémon; each can designate one substitute.
Super Contests (Silver Keys):
- Single Performance
- Triple Performance (Solo): A Trainer may only use three Pokémon and cannot swap them out for the next series of matches within the same Contest. One backup replacement may be selected before the start of the competition.
- Quadruple Performance (Team): Two Trainers that each use two Pokémon; each can designate one substitute.
Hyper Contests (Gold Keys):
- Quadruple Performance (Solo): A Trainer may only use four Pokémon and cannot swap them out for the next series of matches within the same Contest. One backup replacement may be selected before the start of the competition.
- Hextuple Performance (Team): Two Trainers that each use three Pokémon; each can designate one substitute.
Master Contests (Platinum Keys):
- Full Performance (Solo): A Trainer must use all of their Pokémon and cannot swap them out for the next series of matches within the same Contest. One backup replacement may be selected before the start of the competition.
- Full Performance (Team): Two Trainers that each use all of their Pokémon; each can designate one substitute.
Grandmaster Contests (Gem Keys):
- Full Performance (Solo): A Trainer must use all of their Pokémon and cannot swap them out for the next series of matches within the same Contest. One backup replacement may be selected before the start of the competition.
- Full Performance (Team): Two Trainers that each use all of their Pokémon; each can designate one substitute.
To advance within each Contest Rank, a Trainer must win Key Showcase Events, which are primarily community-driven that the PAC organized.
The Contest App allows the audience to vote on individual performances, which would then be used to send holographic globes of light from around the stadium, symbolizing the various colors each contestant chose, showing how their performance was met by those supporting the show, giving a visual indicator above their head as to who won the most hearts.
Three Judges are selected by PAC, given 30% of the total heart count, which is used to counter any kind of cheating and give honest reviews. They were often featured on the PAC website afterward, explaining their views on the matter.
Each Judge is given 10% of the total vote, allowing them to provide a portion of that to both contestants that they felt earned a specific score. If they gave one pair a 4%, the other would get a 6%.
An online voting award is typically given for those that received the most general populous votes, granting Ribbons, which allowed them to enter other competitions for more money, starting in the Hyper Contests.
At the end of the night, the community champion is then given a Royal Key of their respective Rank, and once they receive three, they can enter the Ameliorate Showcase, where the best of their peers perform to be named victor, rising to the next Rank.
Trainers begin competing at every rank, but at Bronze-tier, you may not have the Moves or the connection to your Pokémon to really draw out their potential, which means many Trainers wait until they are Silver or Gold-tier to even begin competing.
Rhea's mind was reeling a bit after watching such an in-depth article and didn't really want to focus on it, but her aunt once said that Contests are an excellent place to further build your team’s skills in ways battling can lack.
It incentivized you to discover unique, out-of-the-box ways to use your Moves in order to not only do damage but look fabulous while doing it. Contests were a challenge because you focused on knocking out your opponent and putting on a show, which was more important than one might think in real-world combat.
If you could put on an act against someone trying to kill you, and be able to keep cool while under pressure, then the mind games could help you edge the victory in a battle you usually would lose.
Your ability to put on a mask of confidence is essential since it can keep an opponent on the defensive and cautious of you, even if you’re on the ropes. The opposite was true, as well, which meant you had to learn where to put on that performance, and Contests were the perfect stage for building that skill.
Hoenn may have started Contests, Kanto and Sinnoh improved upon them, and people hated to admit it, but Kalos brought the spark that led to the current universal format. It had been a girls-only competition in Kalos, but it expanded into the universal system they had today after men’s activist groups fought to have entry fifteen years ago.
Rhea’s attention moved from the video to her awakening Pokémon, gradually waking up as she watched the video.
Nova was the first to poke her head out of the covers, giving her a weak good morning while stretching out and yawning. She swiftly hopped down to join her in watching the video, tail wagging as she settled into Rhea’s lap.
Mya was still fast asleep, enjoying her rest time.
Amira was engrossed in looking up some news about Rocket while Mallory got ready.
She finished the video, discussing a few things with Nova about what they should expect, and had Amber help dry her hair; in truth, it did feel a lot better doing it the way Amira suggested, even if it required more time and effort.
Rhea combed out her hair with Amber’s deep breaths, producing a surprising force that wasn’t too hot.
Once finished, they got ready to head down to the Contest Hall.
Stepping out into the partly cloudy morning, they were met by a soft chilly breeze; they had climbed quite a bit in elevation from Pallet, but it would be a much steeper hike to Pewter.
Amber, Gables, Mya, and Nova walked a bit behind them, keeping pace while the girls carved a path for the four to have room while not getting accidentally run over because of their size.
They were having what appeared to be a cheerful conversation about what to expect, with Nova proudly leading the discussion, having watched the video with Rhea.
Rhea had been a bit shocked to learn that Holly and Miky, Amira’s Comfey and Lori’s Impidimp, had actually gotten into a good talk that lasted well into the night, and so the two were soundly sleeping within their pokéballs.
Mallory sparked up the next conversation about the types of items they could rent or purchase within the field. “So, what are you two going to buy?” She asked. “You can get balls or blocks of wood or bricks, you know, to show your Pokémon’s skill and stuff for the first stage.”
Rhea hummed, shaking her head. “I’m still trying to figure it all out, but aren’t we competing with one another,” she asked with a weak chuckle. “We should surprise each other!”
“True,” Mallory laughed. “I’m thinking about something pretty cool with Gables. It’ll be fun, and do you think we should rent some outfits, or do you think these are pretty nice?” She asked, glancing down at her dress.
“Hmm … I mean, they are super cute, to begin with, but maybe we could rent some accessories or something,” Rhea commented.
Rhea and Mallory glanced at Amira’s concerned face, looking down at the Gardenia City Contest website. “You both know that registration for the Rookie Contest closes at 8 A.M., and there’s going to be a big crowd flooding the area,” she mumbled, noting the already bustling streets.
“Eh … 8 A.M.?” Rhea mumbled, pulling up her own phone to get the time.
A puff of air hissed out of Mallory’s teeth. “Oof … 7:13,” she confirmed. “Yeah, we should probably hurry; we’ll have time to check out nearby shops after we register.”
The clusters of people and their Pokémon around the small city drew Rhea’s eyes; it was still so new seeing so many people in one place, but it just gave her more energy. A lot of these people would be at the Contest, seeing as today had a Hyper Rank Battle Contest, followed by a Super Rank Drama Contest to close out the night.
Their own Pokémon drew many looks and whispers from several groups, pointing at Mya, Nova, Gables, and Amber; their party certainly was noticeable, being Shiny and having unique colors. Rhea hoped it might give them a little bit of an edge in the Contest.
The closer they came to the Contest Hall, the tighter the throng of people got, especially since the sidewalks weren’t nearly as wide as Viridian’s.
Mya soon had to return to her pokéball, and Rhea was forced to carry Nova. It was surprising how many people had flocked to the city considering the League Spring Cup 2nd Preliminaries were going on, but she had to remind herself it wasn’t the actual start of the competition yet, and people mainly went for next week’s pre-celebration before the Round Robin Tournament began.
It was 7:30, and the Contest District of Gardenia was packed, stores bursting with activity; the Rookie portion of the Contest would start at 5 P.M, preceding the Hyper, yet the area was crowded.
The Gardenia Contest Hall was massive, able to hold up to 8,000 people; considering it was a popular and easily accessible site considering the transportation methods close to Viridian, it was no surprise.
They passed through the building’s doors at 7:40, spotting the signs that pointed them to another area for registration.
* * *
Nova looked up at the vast entrance hall of the building they’d entered, Rhea setting her back down. Dozens of Pokémon she’d never seen before were out, walking around, and they were much bigger than her.
Mya soon joined her, grinning while eyeing the powerful Pokémon around them.
“What do you think, Nova? That one has to be in Gold-tier, right?” She asked, pointing at a Venomoth. “How long do you think it will take for us to get to that level?”
Nova slowly shook her head, hurrying to keep up with Rhea. “Umm … I don’t know, but yeah, we’ll have to see what they can do in their battles. We’re going to stay and watch, right?”
“Mhm!” Rhea cheerily responded. “We’ll watch the Drama and Battles. It’ll be fun to see what kind of combinations they can do. Tonight’s supposed to be a Hyper Rank Solo Quadruple Performance. You two excited?”
“Yeah! I am!” Nova exclaimed, noticing how well-groomed the Pokémon around them looked; of course, she was super cute, too. She had taken exceptional care at cleaning her fur before they left.
Mya folded her arms, studying a Persian walking away from them. “I am, too, but I can’t help but notice everyone’s so incredibly weak compared to Franky and Zelri.”
Gables chuckled, hopping beside them. “C’mon, you can’t compare someone to those monsters!”
Nova’s pink eyes lit up, moving to Mya. “Oh, don’t you remember Conny, Lyra’s Azumarill? She was just … so, so beautiful!”
“Yeah … I got the feeling she wasn’t someone you’d want to cross, though … and from what Amira’s told me about her...” Amber mumbled, adding a forced smile.
Mya shivered, rubbing her sides. “Yeah … well, she’s one of the few Pokémon that I don’t really want to fight … so … yeah.”
They passed through some glass doors and into a new room, causing the hall noise to instantly die down, but Nova could still easily pick up on the conversations outside with her sharp hearing. The area was filled with many chairs for people to sit and wait, but no one was currently present except for the woman behind the desk.
Rhea went up with Mallory to register.
It wasn’t two minutes into the process when a new blonde-haired girl came rushing to the door, carrying a Pokémon that Gables identified as a Bounsweet. Nova could understand most of human speech with the words she’d learned while still an egg; Rhea’s mother had played recordings that she could hear through her shell that allowed her to learn a bit.
The girl was wearing shorts and a baggy T-shirt, hair somewhat a mess from running here. “I … I’m not too late,” she panted, glancing between them.
“Huh … an Alolan accent,” Rhea noted, shaking her head. “No, it’s 7:54, so you should still have time. We’re just finishing up.”
“Thank Arceus!” She sighed, jogging over with a weak smile. “We got carried away watching some of the Preliminary Loser’s Bracket matches; Kanto has some awesome Trainers!”
“Yeah?” Mallory chuckled. “I’ll have to go back and look at some of the highlights.”
“Totally worth it!” She chimed, still sounding a bit breathless. “My name’s Jayline, but you can call me Jay … umm, is there a form or something … ah, thanks,” she mumbled, setting down her Pokémon to grab the pen and paper the women behind the desk offered.
Nova turned her attention to the tiny, round Pokémon. “Hi! I’m Nova.” She turned her head to point at the others. “That’s Mya, Gables, and Amber. Only Gables and I are entering, though.”
“Hello,” The Bounsweet replied with a bright smile. “My name’s Poppy. Jay and I come from Alola, the Lush Jungle territory, and it’s really different here; it’s so, so big!”
Nova had no clue what the Lush Jungle territory was; the others gathered around them, yet they seemed content letting Nova take the lead. “That’s cool. I come from an egg and a lab,” she replied, causing Amber and Gables to giggle. “So, what’s it like where you’re from?”
“Oh, a lab? You do look way too pretty and clean to be a Wild Pokémon,” Poppy replied, glancing between them. “In fact … all of you look so pretty and handsome to come from the Wild. No scars or signs of malnourishment. That’s pretty awesome!”
Her smile fell a little, four leaves on her head drooping a bit. “Uh … well, where I’m from, it’s a bit rough. You got pretty rough Bosses that are always fighting for territory; their parents are pretty tight, too, so if you try to stick up for yourself or someone else, then things can get rough for you.”
“Sounds like a place I’d like!” Mya grinned, her second mouth peeling back as her wet tongue slid across her large fangs.
Gables folded his arms, head tilting a bit. “You don’t seem to have any scars or anything; in fact, you look really healthy and pretty yourself.”
“Thanks!” Poppy grinned. “Yeah, I had really protective older sisters that took care of me; in fact, Jay’s parents bonded with them to keep us together.”
“Aww, that’s nice,” Amber whispered. “What about your teammates; where are they?”
“Eh … well, you see…” She looked away, expression turning forced.
“Oh, no. Did something happen to them?” Nova asked with concern, ears folding back.
“No, no, nothing like that!” She said, leaves rising in protest. “No, it’s just … they kind of backed out of coming to Kanto at the last minute, and so … we’re kind of solo right now.”
Mya’s head cocked in confusion. “You can do that?”
“Sure,” Poppy shrugged, stem shifting to the opposite side. “Why not? I mean, we gotta find some people when we get to the Bronze League, but that shouldn’t be that hard.”
“Ah, good point,” Amber nodded. “Although, isn’t it rough traveling alone? You can’t really go off of the path too far.”
“Mmh … I mean, it hasn’t been all that bad,” Poppy mumbled. “Maybe we’ll have to run away at some point, but so far, we’ve been doing pretty good. There were some tough Kanto Trainers we’ve fought, though. My parents were pretty strong and taught us how to take care of ourselves and each other.”
Nova sat down, tail wagging a bit. “That must have been really nice. Most of the wild Pokémon we’ve met haven’t been all that great. We fought this Nidorino that was horrible.”
“Yeah, it can be like that,” Poppy mumbled, looking up at her Trainer. “Oh … I think they’re finished registering.”
Sure enough, Rhea told her they were going to head to the dressing area to know where they needed to go; they had to be here by 4 P.M. She had also learned that there were only six Rookie contestants.
They said goodbye to Amber as Amira took her off to visit some stores while Rhea, Mallory, and Jay checked out the female dressing room.
Heading inside, they found the three other girls chatting to one another, apparently teammates. The three were pretty well dressed, but Nova’s attention was more on their Pokémon as Rhea engaged the Trainers in conversation.
Rhea knew precisely what they were since she liked to look up cute Pokémon.
Nova had to agree; they had really well-maintained appearance and seemed to have applied some kind of oil that made them a little shiny, giving them a similar effect as Gables, Amber, Mya, and her.
She dashed forward with a charming smile as they cut their whispered conversation to stare at the advancing party. “Hello! I’m Nova. So, we’re going to be going into the Contest together?”
She couldn’t quite see the Ralts’ eyes behind her thick, bowl-cut green hair but noticed her pretty red pinkish-red horns as she folded her arms, turning to them with the others. “Nova, huh? That’s an … interesting name,” she mumbled, voice and tone somewhat imperious. “Mine is Jewlya, and this is Rina,” she said, pointing to the Igglybuff, “and Whimsy,” directing their attention to the Smoochum.
Gables rubbed the side of his head. “Huh … Jewlya, Rina, and Whimsy. Okay, so have you three been in a competition before?”
“Indeed, we have,” Jewlya noted, head tilting back a bit to show one of her deep red eyes. “What … are you two, though?” She pointedly asked, pointing at Mya and Nova.
Nova sat back, tail going still while turning to face Mya. “What … do you mean? I’m, umm … I’m an Eevee … doesn’t everyone know what an Eevee is? We’re super cute.”
All three of the girl’s mouths curved into a smirk. “Uh-huh,” Whimsy giggled.
Jewlya held up a hand as Nova felt Rhea getting a bit uncomfortable and a bit annoyed while talking to their Trainers. “Now, now, girls; we shouldn’t make fun of their defects.”
“What’s that … what about me is defective?” Mya growled, large jaws opening in a snarl.
“Yeah…” Nova mumbled, looking down at herself before turning her head and moving her tail around to look at it from various angles. “I’m gorgeous … everyone says so.”
The Igglybuff released a sad chuckle. “I’m sure they just don’t want to hurt your feelings, Dear. Have you seen the knots in that scraggly mane or the way you’ve licked yourself? Someone needs to help you,” she said, holding a hand up to her mouth. “I’m just saying, the judges and crowd will be able to tell.”
“Huh?!” Nova’s eyes widened, swiftly looking at her fur and brushing out her black mane. “I … I don’t see anything wrong…”
“You don’t,” Poppy huffed, glaring at the three. “They’re just blowing smoke like a Salandit. Shouldn’t you three get back to adding more oil to shine a bit more? You’ll never out sparkle Gables like that.”
The three glared at Poppy as Gables chuckled, holding out a paw for the plant to smack it with one of her leaves. “Got ‘em! You might wanna check that swirl on your head, too; I think it’s a bit off. A defect?”
“W-What?” Rina mumbled in shock, eyes shifting in panic.
Jewlya huffed, motioning for the three to retreat as their Trainers turned to leave. “You’re fine, Rina. Let’s leave these losers to prepare for defeat.”
“W-Why is everyone being so mean?” Nova asked in shock. “Can’t we be friends?”
“Tch, with them?” Mya snorted. “I’d rather bite myself.”
“Ditto,” Jewlya sniffed, exiting the room.
Nova’s ears sagged, tail pressing against her left side as she stared at the floor. “I was trying to be nice. Why did they say we’re defective?”
Poppy walked over to pet her side. “It’s okay; they’re just jealous of how pretty you are. They have to put on products and stuff to try and match your natural shine.”
Gables smirked. “Lori says they’re the classic mean girls. Start poking back, and they run with their tails between their legs.”
“... I just wanted to make more friends,” Nova mumbled; she could feel Rhea thinking the same thing.
* * *
Rhea reached down to pick up Nova, feeling her hurt and confusion; apparently, the Pokémon hadn’t been much sweeter than their Trainers. They didn’t have to make passive-aggressive comments, but they started out making fun of how Jay was dressed, asking if she planned on competing while looking like a rough Ranger bum.
Mallory snickered. “Yeah, they’re totally shaking in their heels; if they stayed any longer, then they probably would have collapsed.”
Jay rubbed the back of her neck with a weak chuckle. “I mean, those girls were from Kalos, right? I’ve heard some things from you Kanto folk about the region.”
“Eh … sadly, no,” Lori sighed. “No, they’re from my region, Unova, which is why they didn’t poke at me and ran when I got involved; they have famous Contest winners as family members.”
“Huh … sad their attitude is so Muk because they’re not bad looking on the outside,” Jay mumbled. “Anyway, I’m gonna go get ready; heh, I just woke up late, threw on my clothes, and booked it down here.”
Rhea glanced down at her phone as it went off. “Yeah … umm, wait … uh, our teammate found a good breakfast place she wants us to join her at. Want to join? If you don’t have anyone around and you need some help with something, you can text or call me. Mind sharing contact info?” She asked with a hopeful smile.
“Hmm,” she folded her arms under her small bust with a brilliant smile. “You know, it wouldn’t hurt having someone that knows the region on dial. The League foreign support sucks here!” She groaned.
“Right?!” Mallory mused. “It’s always busy and has a wait time, but that could be because of how many people are flooding Kanto right now.”
“True,” Jay shrugged. “Alright, uh … yeah, sure, thanks for the offer, Rhea!” She said, pulling out her phone. “Man … the Rotom recall sucks … I just can’t get used to these phones. Umm … I can join you guys for breakfast before heading back. Yeah, let’s do it.”
Yes! A new friend!
She felt Nova cheering up in her arms while talking to Poppy.
“Oh, and it’s my treat!” Rhea added with a grin, pressing the proper motions she’d preset on her phone to transfer her contact info onto Jay’s phone; once she accepted, her number was transferred back to Rhea’s.
“Mmh … alright, alright,” Jay relented, eyeing her crystal device. “I do need to conserve as much money as possible since I’m alone. By the way … that’s a crazy-looking phone. Which company do I need to sign my soul away to get one of those?”
Rhea giggled. “Umm, it’s a Silph model that should be coming up on the market in several months.”
“Huh … I guess you got the contacts,” she chuckled. “Gah, just give me back my Rotom phone!” She cried with a sad smile.
Rhea and Mallory laughed, leading the way to the address Amira sent them.