6:17 A.M. June 23, Wednesday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)
Events: The Preliminaries for the Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League have concluded; 105 Trainers and their Pokémon have advanced from Bronze to Silver. A week of celebration followed, marked with events put on by the Indigo League, the Summer Round Robin Cup would begin, crowning the best of each Tier among those that advanced. The battles begin on the 27th. Rhea started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 15 Days.
Mallory grunted while stretching across her bed, shifting her bound purple hair to the side while slowly waking up; Rhea was out of the bathroom and getting ready.
Amira, of course, was fully up and scanning through relevant news; her red hair was brushed, letting it air dry before her Fennekin blew the rest of the moisture out according to her daily routine.
Mallory wasn’t that concerned about her hair—blow it out with the cool setting and be done with it was her philosophy. Gables and Miky slid off, her little prankster crawling under the blankets to get a bit more sleep as she got out of bed to stretch, bikini pressing against her bust with the motion.
“Morning…” she grunted, tilting left and right while glancing at her egg, still in the container beside her bed; she always had to loosen up in the morning—it felt good, but the initial tightness wasn’t great, along with the desire to sleep in another hour and a half that accompanied it.
She was excited to see what her new Pokémon would be—especially when Rhea’s famous mother bred them and with what the woman explained about her mysterious new partner. They just needed another day in the cylinders for some reason, then she recommended they sleep with them.
“Hey!” Rhea chimed, giving her a cute smile; her egg was beside her bed, too. “Today’s the day!”
“Nervous?” Mallory asked with a grin.
Amira frowned, red irises lifting as a sigh left her full lips; her egg was on their small group table. “It’s our first Gym Battle, and against a Leader—Forrest may have a reputation as the weakest out of the region’s High Masters, but that doesn’t mean he’s a pushover; there’s a reason the Encrusted Badge Challenge is so infamous for smashing Trainers because of the financial cost.”
Lori shrugged, adjusting the straps on her shoulders. “I mean, I’ve got the Type advantage; if I can’t do this one, then it just means we should focus on the Aides instead of doing the EBC.”
Amira’s gaze lowered. “... I need to prove to myself that I can do it.”
Mallory pursed her lips at the Rocket girl’s tone, Rhea seemingly having a worrisome internal conversation with her Mawile. She wondered how much of Amira’s drive was focused on her family image, even if it was subconscious … Cass placed similar stressors on herself for her followers; well, that and her complete inability to handle criticism.
Grabbing a few of her items, she moved to the mirror to pull down on her eyes and check her complexion with a groan—she wasn’t blind or dumb and knew that the three of them came from phenomenal genetics that naturally enhanced their beauty, yet couldn’t help secretly comparing herself to others.
She was aware of the flaw, having incredible self-awareness, and being critical of how she acted around others was important to her. It gave her a sense of peace when people were chill, and setting up an atmosphere to let people fit into that mold was a skill she’d learned, and being happy wasn’t that difficult when you surrounded yourself with the right people.
She’d heard a lot about Rhea from Alder since he was good friends with Cynthia. She was probably the cutest girl she’d ever met, and her awkward social skills somehow contributed to just finding new people and asking to be friends, which was funny to her.
Mallory was friendly with everyone but selective about who she allowed to stay in her life, while Rhea was super open, pulling girls into their little circle left and right. Her struggles were so different, too, and somehow, she managed to take all the challenges and brush them off without lingering on them.
On the other hand, Amira was very confident in her social skills yet extremely closed off, utilizing the opposite approach Mallory took. Unlike her, the redhead was super shy, though, which was fascinating.
Amira was gorgeous, classy, and reserved, reflecting the Rocket side of her family. She accessorized in a simple manner that was just enough to be perfect. The little choker, bracelet, fashionable sandals, and how she molded her thick flaming hair or positioned her glasses showed the girl knew how to look good.
Mallory’s mind was pulled back to Lucian’s comment about her being ugly, which set a fire in her chest, just thinking about it. From Amira’s full lips, perfect skin, and carefully sculpted features, she was far prettier than herself, which meant the boy was insulting just about every girl there because few of them could match Amira toe to toe.
The one thing Mallory was always complimented on was, annoyingly, her hourglass figure—that was it. Her aggravating, uncomfortable, overly hyped shape. Shopping was a nightmare, which made it awesome that Amira’s grandfather had a whole industry at his beck and call, giving her the perfect dress.
She smiled fondly at the dress Giovanni had Lyra get them; it was honestly such a thoughtful thing for him to do—everything the Rocket family did was amazing. The hate was overhyped. Of course, clothes went a long way with Mallory.
Most of the time, she’d go out shopping with her old gang, spot this stunning dress, and it’s only like 60 credits! Wonderful! Then, she’d look at the measurements—not wonderful.
The bust and waist? Perfect! Hips? Nope … About 8” too small, or vice versa—a dress would fit her waist and hips perfectly, the bust, on the other hand, way too small.
She wanted to buy a form-fitting skirt? Good luck finding something that isn’t gaping at the waist but has room for her butt.
A pretty, flowy top? Better wear a belt, or she’d look like a pregnant blimp.
What about a button-up shirt? Nada—either too loose and awkward or so tight in the bust; most in her waist size looked like they’d pop buttons everywhere.
Pants? Just looking at a few of Rhea’s friends’ outfits had her jealous. The moment she found a company that produced some that can contain her hips, butt, and thighs while accounting for her long legs, they stopped making them because of the low demand, and she was looking for another the following year. Her leg length also made some dresses practically shirts on her.
No, she was pretty self-conscious about her figure since clothes made up a big part of a person’s life, and in truth, sometimes she could go a bit overboard with gloves, stockings, and the like—she’d learned fashion from her older sister, and she had a style of her own.
She wanted to branch out but was scared to since she’d grown up emulating her sister just to attempt to gain her attention—kind of a stupid thought if she reflected on it now, and purple was hard to match stuff life—red, red went with almost anything, and Rhea’s golden mane gave her so many options.
Purple … you had black, and that was about it. Bright yellow, orange, or green could work, but most of the time, it just made her look somewhat sickly.
Stepping into the bathroom with Gables, Mallory sat her items down to look at her purple eyes before turning to stare at the discolored areas on her back.
Her face was kind of average, in her opinion, and the scar on her back was a big point of concern when she was a girl whenever she had sleepovers or went swimming—it took a lot to even look halfway decent.
Having horrible burn marks that were practically magical and required years of special treatment didn’t help her self-image—especially when seeing Amira and Rhea’s perfect skin. Of course, she’d never touch on that … What good would it do?
One fact drew her mind to the damage—Ho-Oh’s incredible healing light didn’t cure it—a Pokémon so renowned for its restorative energy that it could return the dead. She’d never let it show on the outside, but from what she knew about Legendary and Mythical Pokémon … Would she ever be free from this reminder that she was parentless?
As a child, she would wonder if perhaps she was the cause for their deaths. Did she run out somewhere like an idiot, and they had to protect her? Why was she in a war zone to begin with? Was it their fault for bringing her? The questions silently burned her heart for years.
However, the only thing Grimsley would tell her was that the fire that burned her took her parents, which meant it was from some Legendary or Mythical Pokémon. There was one time when her foster father was ridiculously hammered—of course, there were times he could just be straight funny with how good at acting he was; this hit a little closer to home, though … How she was lucky to even be alive—right … lucky her.
No one would tell all the details, but some magical force was trapped underneath her skin, somehow so attached to her, it was practically linked to her spirit itself or something. She’d lost count of the treatments by Pokémon and doctors, which managed to cover up the radiant pattern to make it look even a little better—at least it stopped the episodes of pain.
It took Alder appealing to Cynthia for something only she could achieve since she was close to all the Sinnoh Legendary and Mythic Pokémon—asking Jirachi to use almost 800 years of charged energy to just remove the pain, and Cynthia noted that it could return at any time.
She just wanted to know who did it to her—who took her parents and scarred her for life—it was something she’d buried deep in her soul over the years—to be whole, like everyone else, and not have to deal with the fear of it coming back.
Jirachi wouldn’t have the power to do that again, but maybe, just maybe, Ho-Oh’s power had strengthened whatever Jirachi did because the Mythical Bird was far, far stronger than the Wish Pokémon.
Cynthia asked her if she wanted to have her sister look into it, but after two years, five to seven years old, in utter pain, episodes flaring off and on, trying to rekindle and finish the task, countless scientists, all ending in crushed hopes for a normal life, she refused—this was enough—no more.
Although, after meeting Rhea’s mother and seeing the miraculous things she could accomplish, Mallory was beginning to think there might be some hope—she just wasn’t quite ready to let it in.
Gables jumped up to her bare shoulder, comfortingly patting her on the head. Smiling, she giggled. Thanks, Gab—I’m just reflecting a bit too much on the depressing part. Look at the bright side; I’ve got two awesome teammates … Lucky me. She meant it this time.
Striping down, she set the bathing suit apart from her new outfit and second bikini and turned the heat up high, letting the hot water melt her troubled mind away while throwing on a song on her new phone and singing along; music was a huge part of her life, and the advanced device Rhea’s mom got for them had shockingly good speakers for being crystal—she had no clue where the sound came from, but it pumped.
Finishing up, she got out and dressed in her new underwear, throwing the previous in the washer while they were out for the day. She took her dress out, grinning at Amber as she proudly jumped up to the counter, ready to help her dry her hair—it was becoming a standard that the Fennekin funnily really put a lot of pride into.
Gables was chatting with Miky as he trudged over, still groggy; the Froakie was trying to hype him up for the match today.
Rhea was humming the song she was singing when she came out. “... as bright as one … Oh! I didn’t know you liked that, too!” She said with a bright smile. “I think you’ve gone through like every genre since Pallet—well, heh, not heavy metal, but that’s more my brother’s thing.”
“I enjoy a good headbanger from time to time,” Lori chuckled, combing through her locks as Amber blew. “So,” she shot a small smirk at Amira, “who do you two think is the best singer in the group? We gotta have one if we’re gonna start a band!”
“A band?” Amira lifted an eyebrow. “Uh, yeah, not my thing.”
“The spotlight?” Malloy giggled, bowing her head for the little fox Pokémon to get another angle. “Sad—because I think you’ve totally got the best voice out of the three of us.”
“I think so, too!” Rhea chimed, pulling up her phone. “I was recording a bit of her singing yesterday morning—I think you were asleep … Check it out!”
“Wait … You did what?” Amira mumbled, eyes widening.
“Yeah, it was just so pretty,” Rhea said, playing the song.
It took a second for Rhea to pull it up, allowing her to finish drying her damp hair. Shifting to the blonde girl’s bed to listen, Amira glared at the unaware blonde-haired girl, trying to not look flustered.
“Oh,” Mallory mumbled, folding her arms while thinking about the lyrics the redhead was singing. “This song—it sounds like the perfect song for you, though.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Amira asked, setting her phone down to come over and listen. “My mom used to sing it to me when I was a kid.”
Rhea hummed. “I’ve heard it before, but yeah, it’s kind of old. I just like the beat, but listening to you sing the words without the instruments really made me think about it.”
“Oh?” Mallory nudged her side with a sly smirk. “You know, to me, this song has kind of a twist to it—it invokes that naivety and innocence in you before jumping into the hook, which is more adult-themed.”
Amira shrugged, mumbling, “Yeah, well—I guess it is kind of a personal thing. My mom used to hum it while we made chocolate chip cookies together to surprise my dad after getting off work.”
““Cute!”” They both squealed.
“I shouldn’t have expected anything less,” Mallory mused, thinking back on the perfect little marriage Silver and Lyra had. “Your parents are sooo sweet to each other!”
“Mhm! Your mom’s the best!” Rhea jumped in.
“Eh … They aren’t your parents,” Amira mumbled. “They’ve got their sides.”
“I bet,” Mallory chuckled, but she couldn’t help another side of envy creeping into her chest and tried to brush it away. Karan and Grimsley were the kind of parents most kids dreamed of—living the famous life, yet their parenting left … something to be desired.
Mallory was often alone, which was why she tried to get her sister’s attention, and eventually, she found friends to help fill that void, but she wanted a good, stable parent she could go to.
Grimsley was great for the unconventional, and both knew their way around the laws, teaching her everything they knew—she lacked those memories of personal time, though … spent baking or hanging out with her parents that didn’t involve gambling or learning the criminal underground.
Predictably, her gaze soon fell on Rhea’s hair ties as she discussed cooking with her dad; it matched the brand her aunt owned—knockoffs were everywhere, but she had no doubt the item actually came from her aunt and was the authentic brand, meaning people would pay bank for them.
Honestly, she could fund her entire Bronze to Gold-tier journey just off selling it. Of course, those kinds of thoughts probably never crossed the innocent girl’s mind.
Mallory nodded, giving Rhea a smile as if she were listening, trying to get the thoughts out of her head. “Oh, yeah! That must have been fun. That reminds me, weren’t we going to see about getting some stuff for Jay to cook something for us tonight—after the battles?”
Rhea’s pearly blue eyes widened with excitement. “Yeah! She was going to show me how to really make an Alolan dish, and Bianca was going to join us on live chat to make it, too; she’s super excited to learn the real way to make Alolan Lau Lau and something called Poke—it requires some of the local fish from there, but she said our Pokémon would love it, too.”
“Both are pretty good, but … I don’t know how you’ll feel about real Lau Lau,” Amira replied, probably trying to get the topic off her singing. “Most of the recipes in Kanto substitute the Alolan ingredients for things we’re more accustomed to—I bet Jay will want to spend the extra money on the actual ingredients imported from Alola, which can be super expensive … especially in a high altitude, distant city, like Pewter.”
“Exciting,” Mallory mumbled, bypassing her comment. “We’ll have to come up with our own song to sing while cooking!”
“Oh, that’ll be fun!” Rhea grinned. “Since it’s Alolan themed, maybe Jay could play something we could learn.”
“Mmh, I don’t know,” Amira sighed, brushing back her hair. “Learning a new, foreign song, cooking, and live streaming with your cousin? Wait…”
Mallory frowned at her tone but quickly caught on, sucking in a breath through her teeth. “... Ah, right, right…”
“What?” Rhea asked, confused eyes darting between them as Nova and Mya poked their heads out of her blankets behind them.
Amira rubbed the back of her neck with a telling smile. “Can we live stream with Bianca and Jay … together?”
“I mean, why … Oh … Muk,” Rhea groaned, running her fingers through her thick blonde ponytail. “Having my family be a secret sucks!”
“Saved! Nice catch, Amira,” Mallory praised, comfortingly rubbing Rhea’s back. “Maybe you can teach Bianca what you learned.”
“Yeah … I guess that works, too,” she puffed out a sad breath, falling back to pull Nova onto her chest to smile at her. “Yeah—and let’s not let the stress of this Gym Challenge get to us! It’ll be scary at first—Mhm, I’m scared, Mya,” she gave the Pokémon a strained grin, “but it’s also exciting.”
Mya folded her arms, giving her Trainer a look that said she was worrying too much before jumping off the bed to hang with Gables and Miky; her little trouble maker was starting to adapt to their group and learning what jokes and games were acceptable. He really had a cute heart that tried to clown around to distract people from their troubles.
“Are you two scared?” Rhea asked, stroking Nova’s fur as she settled on her chest.
“Me?!” Mallory laughed. “Naa! Gables is gonna own! Oh, we’re gonna see the boys today on the way there, right?”
Amira groaned, falling back to the bed beside Rhea, and Amber happily jumped up to sit next to her, Holly jumping out of her pokeball to join the pair. “What do you think Lucian’s going to say when he sees us?”
“That guy?” Mallory smirked. “You know, I think he actually likes you!”
“Huh?!” Amira’s red eyebrows came together, head lifting to give her an incredulous stare. “You’re joking! What about his attitude says he likes me?”
Rhea was right beside her on the issue. “Yeah … uh, saying the things he did—it doesn’t really strike me as, ‘Oh, this girl’s pretty!’
Mallory’s head tilted, winking at the girls. “Classic noble boy rejecting what he really wants, but knows he can’t have because Mommy and Daddy would disapprove! He has to say you’re ugly—he’s trying to close the door and deny it, which leads to…” She hopped up, grabbed her phone, and found the song in three seconds, pointing at Gables.
Amber and Nova bounced on Rhea and Amira’s chests as laughter shook them.
“That’s pretty rich,” Amira wheezed. “Thanks for cheering me up, Lori—wow, if that is true, then—wow…”
Rhea was gasping as Mya climbed up on the table, curiously trying to emulate Gable’s movements, Miky joining and doing a pretty good job after, a bright grin on his pink face as everyone laughed with the increased volume of the singers.
The three of them were singing the song the rest of the morning, playing off each other and getting the notes right, which put Mallory’s mood through the roof with everyone else, tuning into her joke and portrayal of the snooty boy.
They got more and more into it until they were singing at the top of their lungs, probably annoying the neighboring Trainers beside their room, Lucian’s comic-like image in their minds, heartbroken and crying to the moon about his loss.
The song didn’t perfectly match the circumstance, but their imagination made up the rest, and they were having fun; Mallory also enjoyed Amira’s voice, causing her to try and keep it going with the thought that maybe she’d grow more comfortable singing along their journey. It was good enough to probably match Len’s mom if she practiced more.
It seemed to be working because she managed to get her to join in when they left the hotel at 10:30 A.M., meeting up with Jay, Hannah, Sam, and Jade. She roped the girls into bouncing off each other, each taking lines from a popular song they all knew, snapping their fingers to the beat, and drawing eyes as they walked down the street.
Amira was hesitant, but she’d trapped her! She didn’t want to be the only one not participating, which pulled her a bit out of her comfort zone. One step closer to forming a band!
Rhea sent Jason the restaurant they were going to for breakfast, and the trio met them there; Lucian was rather cold and disinterested, obviously not wishing to be with the seven girls, much to Mallory’s amusement—he was so uncomfortable, and Amira caught onto the vibe in an instant, giving her a stare that said she was connecting the dots showing she’d set this whole thing up, which … She’d be right!
She really was kind of petty, and that first comment to Amira, reflecting on every other girl in the room and how he looked at Casey, was something she took personally. It was really hitting dozens of goals she had—spending time with Len again, making Lucian squirm, uplifting her teammate, etc.
She made it a point to pull Lucian into the conversation, giving him small facial expressions to poke at his ego—oh, she was petty—something her foster parents taught her in spades.
Lori probed into what Pokémon they’d gotten from their trip, but even Len was secretive about the info, considering they were rivals. Finally, it came—precisely what she was waiting for. She knew it would come up with this get-together.
“... Hmm…” Mallory mused, setting down her fork and knife after finishing her last berry-filled pancake; kindly, Rhea told the girls she’d pay for everyone before they entered. “Yeah, didn’t Lucian pick a Piplup? Heh, Amira, remember when Mya sent it flying like—right at my face! He hit the barrier and just slid down it…”
Lucian seemed to have had enough of the subtle references of the embarrassing moments. “... It was supposed to be a match between Amira and me—I would have won.”
Len and Jason sat back, withholding sighs, clearly having this conversation before.
“... Yeah,” Len mumbled, “but it is what it is, Man. Next time, we’ll do better.”
“Humph,” his narrowed blue irises slid to Amira, “Why not have a rematch today—Just a one-on-one.”
Mallory was a little surprised; she suspected he’d demand another team match, causing her mind to kick into suspicion mode. Perhaps, embarrassing himself with the public Rocket apology was even more of a thorn in his side than Rhea’s terrifying domination—losing wasn’t as bad as swallowing his pride because he could just make excuses with that.
The five other girls' gave nervous glances at the sudden shift in the light atmosphere Mallory had crafted.
Amira sat back, red eyes meeting the boy’s glare, fingers rubbing the frame of her glasses, secured at her front. “... Aren’t you challenging Forrest in a few hours? Do you really think it’s wise to get into a battle before that?”
“Yeah,” Jason mumbled, scooting back and looping one of his arms around the back of his chair to face his teammate. “We gotta be in the Stadium by 1 P.M. for the Bronze Block.”
Lucian’s eyes were serious. “It’s 11 A.M., and this shouldn’t last more than five minutes—max.” Amira’s jaw tightened at his tone, the other girls’ brows furrowing at his statement. “Plus, there’s a decent field nearby that we scouted out before getting our second Pokémon.”
Len sucked on his tongue, making a noise. “Eh—that’s a bit big—pretty public, too.”
The boy’s lips curled, giving his teammate a slight shrug. “Maybe you’re both right—it’s too much.”
Amira’s tight lips lifted into a smile that didn’t touch her red eyes. “No, it’s fine—like you said, it won’t take more than five minutes, and there’s a Center nearby … I saw it when we were exploring the city yesterday. Are we doing this right now?”
“Why not?” Lucian leered, getting to his feet as the waitress stopped by, noticing they were about to leave.
“Oh, umm … How will you be paying?”
Rhea was about to pipe up when Amira held up her hand with a sweet smile at Lucian; he was still in his ritzy Kalos suit. “I’ll get everyone, Rhea—I understand the Encrusted Gym Challenge can be costly.”
Lucian’s expression fell at the insinuation, but she was already pulling out her phone to transfer the funds. “I can…”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Amira laughed. “I get it … There we go.” she chimed.
“Umm … Thank you for your patronage,” the waitress excused herself with a strained smile as she noticed the atmosphere.
“Aren’t we on a clock?” Amira asked, lifting an eyebrow at the disgruntled boy.
Mallory was impressed. Amira was certainly correct; resting and preparing would be the best action, but she had steel in her, and it wouldn’t back down.
Jay, Sam, Rhea, and Jade were giving each other concerned looks, but Hannah was shockingly on board.
“Holly, and you’ve got this!” Hannah whispered just loud enough for Mallory to barely catch it, giving Amira a confident grin.
It suddenly dawned on her that Amira had picked up a Grass/Fairy Pokémon. … Was that premeditated? He shouldn’t know her Pokémon yet, either—He could be planning on throwing out his new one, too. This will be interesting—He has Piplup for the Gym, which means this must be for something else, but what?
The ten of them shuffled out behind the large group table they occupied, exiting the restaurant and heading to the field, Amira putting on her glasses with a smug, confident smile as the hot sunlight and cool mountain breeze hit them. “How about another bet, Lucian?”
His prideful tone returned as he put a hand in his pocket, free one sliding dark, expensive sunglasses over his eyes. “You’d be setting yourself up.”
“We’ll see—3,000 credits?”
Behind the leading pair, Mallory hummed. Does she have that much? That’s a massive bet after already paying 3k for the Gym—really unlike Amira … I’d probably do the same if someone called me ugly, though. It’s enough to break a Bronze Trainer at this stage—She’s pissed.
Jason hissed, falling behind with the rest of the group. “Yo, we can’t be…”
“Deal,” Lucian replied without hesitation. “Maybe your grandfather will give you a loan.”
Len groaned. “Muk…”
“Don’t you mean your parents?” Amira returned. “Your mother might even call—Oh, that’s a thought; would it be considered charity work if I lost.”
“Oof!” Len winced, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yo—she’s going in.”
“At least no one could compare you to your mother,” Lucian returned, a smile on his lips, but his nose was flaring.
“Woah…” Jade shivered, and even Hannah looked uncertain with the casual poison the two were throwing at each other.
Jason leaned over to Rhea. “Aren’t they taking this a bit too far?”
“Mmh … I mean, he did start it,” she hesitantly mumbled.
Mallory was thrilled, though—Amira’s victory was a win for them all, and maybe it would chop Lucian’s ego down enough to actually notice the ground existed.
The little devil within her was hyped; Gables sent somewhat conflicted emotions about how things were going, but Miky was doing the “Tap In” dance with her.