1: Rhea (Our Blonde, Awkward Bombshell MC!)
2: Lori (Our Sad Unova Girl)
I loosely follow this map as a visual guide; the creator made it in paint?!?! It’s insane! Some errors here and there, but I follow its design for the most part. Areas can be further apart, some cities are in the wrong places or not listed, and the regions aren’t nearly so close. The best map I’ve found, though!
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12 P.M. July 4, Saturday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)
Events: The Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League have concluded; Saria Surge has become the new Vermilion Gym Leader, converting it to a Fairy Gym. It will be open for challenges on the 10th.
Our girl started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 25 Days (24 officially; 25 since getting Maya and Nova).
Rhea kept checking her phone while following Katelin and her brother to the In-Gym Center to swap out some of their Pokemon to help the cobalt-haired woman practice; Alice had transferred to the amber-eyed Trainer’s shoulder to practice jumping between them when able.
Lori wasn’t messaging anything on social media, and, judging by some of the comments she was getting poking fun at her match, Rhea didn’t think she’d post anything. She was happy to be proven wrong, though, when a picture of her and her family eating at some restaurant.
The Unova party seemed to be having a blast, but Rhea had begun to realize how her teammate hid a lot of her emotions behind a mask; the lilac-haired girl was the opposite of her step-sister, who was a hot mess when things broke down.
“Everything okay?” Kate asked, stopping off at a side shop on their way out of Downtown Cerulean to grab a smoothie; Alice gave her a small frown from her shoulder. “Ack… looking at Lori’s profile? Best not to look at those after a loss; most of the time it’s just no-life losers that want to feel big and tough online to get you to respond.”
Sabin huffed when his girlfriend turned an apologetic smile his way after ordering, making Katelin chuckle. “You’re so bad with money… Yeah, I got it—and you’re not wrong—clout chases, generally, who just want you to acknowledge they exist; the highlight of their lives, as sad as that sounds.”
“It is really sad when you put it that way,” Kate sighed, probably trying to redirect the conversation, but her brother wasn’t going to let it slide.
“Mhm… kind of like a girlfriend who can’t keep above the red?”
Rhea winced. “Oof. Got ya there, Kate. Hehe. What do you even spend your money on? Don’t you win a ton of battles?”
Playing with her straw for a second, the woman’s smile became strained. “Eh-hehe… what do I spend my money on?”
“Pokemon,” Sabin replied, pulling out his phone to show her Katelin’s account purchase—most labeled under the Trainer – TM category—and they weren’t cheap buys. “Many of which you never use.”
“H-Hey! Don’t go just logging into a girl’s account just because you know my password!” Katelin barked, snatching his phone to log out, but Rhea didn’t miss the -23,000 credit debt. “I pay every payment on time—my credit is flawless!”
Rhea smirked, looking at her brother. “I wonder how you manage that with an average monthly spending of around 100,000 credits to a 78,000 income, hmm?”
“Right?” Sabin sighed.
Katelin came closer to slide her free hand around his waist to lean against his side as they walked, a happy smile brightening her cheeks. “I’m so lucky you love me; you’re such a reliable boyfriend!”
Lifting an eyebrow at her comment, Rhea laughed as Alice jumped to her shoulder. “I… heh, don’t think that’s great, Bro; I didn’t think you were a simp.”
“Just a simp for me!” Katelin mused, hopping up to peck him on the cheek. “Right?”
Her brother closed his arm around her back, adding a wry smirk while teasing, “You know, Rhea, sometimes I feel like I should put a child lock on her account and manage her money because I have so much trouble with her.”
“Hey! I’m not that bad, and what do you have to factor in; you don’t spend money on anything anyway.”
“Well,” Kate shrugged, “I guess sometimes you buy TMs or Tutoring—heh, you’re so cheap that you’ll have your Pokemon spend weeks learning a Move from a tutor rather than getting a TM, and a child lock—c’mon, babe!”
“Hmm, let’s see…” Sabin began counting on his fingers. “I have to factor in savings for hard times, TMs—that are useful and necessary—food, clothing, Arceus help me with your taste…”
“You like it when I dress up!”
“I think you look good in anything.”
Way to complement and slap her! Rhea internally snickered.
“Where was I… clothing, yeah… Heh, and let’s not forget hotels, gear—the needs of both our Pokemon—Gym Fees and the possibility of losing. We have the eating out budget—”
“I get it!” Kate streamed out a long breath, hanging her head. “I’m nothing but a Leech Life.”
Rhea smiled as her brother bent down to kiss the back of her head. “Yes! Yes, you are! But… one I thoroughly enjoy.”
“Hehe. What’d I say—my simp!” she giggled, hugging him tighter and making their journey slow a little. “So, we heading to the Fly Strip?”
“Yup. You good with flying, Rhea, or did you want to take a taxi out to the woods?”
A suspicious grin moved Rhea’s eyes. “Did… you go through all that to tell me you want to fly using your own Pokemon because you’re low on funds?”
Seeing both Kate and her brother’s strained smiles, Rhea shook her head. “You two are really something! Haha. Fine, but I’m wearing a dress right now, so let’s stop by my hotel so I can swap out the skirt for some shorts.”
Katelin scrutinized her. “Skirt? I thought that was a dress; can it double as both?”
“Hmm-hmm; top-tier Trainer gear!” she proudly displayed, peeling back the folded layers to show them the zipper. “It can be a dress or top.”
“Spill! Where’d you get it?” Kate asked, and Rhea wanted to smirk at her brother’s expression. “Wait… I think I heard Amira say something about the Rocket company?”
“Hehe. It’s probably pretty expensive since they’re custom made; your bank account doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Noo! Sabin—I look good in dresses; don’t I—ones that are rip and weather resistant… hmm?!”
“Ugh… I’ll look into it, but no promises. Okay?”
Rhea wryly shook her head. “You can’t help yourself—simp!”
Laughing and poking at the couple, Rhea discovered a new bit of fun in hanging out with her brother and Katelin without feeling like a 3rd wheel or awkward.
They took the bullet train to her hotel to change into the shorts she’d used the day before for dancing before following the two veteran Trainers to the second nearest designated Fly Field; Sabin checked his repaired flight gear at this location. Rhea felt a bit guilty, it had taken a bit of damage during his fight against the Pidgeot when rescuing them; still, it filled her with warmth remembering her brother’s rescue.
Rhea wanted to groan upon seeing Rovane—her brother’s Aerodactyl—it had almost been a month since she’d last ridden on him; she doubted he’d improved his riding experience in that time, preparing for a bumpy ride.
Katelin pulled out Jace—her Noctowl—to be her own ride, allowing Rhea to stroke his soft feathers and nuzzle her hand.
Strapping in, Rhea was happy to see her brother surprise her with an attachment seat for Alice and Nova on the back, leaving the luggage sack behind; sadly, Mya would be a bit too heavy with both her and Sabin riding on Rovane, once again making the Mawile conscious about her weight.
Her stomach swirled with Nova and Alice screaming for joy as the amused Aerodactyl took to the sky with Katelin behind them; he flew them north to Route 24. Passing over Nugget Bridge was a different experience entirely than the bus trip they’d taken days before, and if that wasn’t enough, Bianca and Hilbert showed up.
Pulling up beside them, the brown-haired Former Champion gave them a grinning salute with his wife floating beside them; Ramus, his Reuniclus, was beside them, apparently practicing his Psychic Flight technique.
“Bi?” Sabin laughed, seeing Jace maneuver Katelin to the Champion’s opposite side to catch the conversation. “Yo, Hilbert. Sense us leaving through our aura?”
“Uh-huh. Bi wanted to make sure Lori was okay.”
Her cousin’s big green eyes shone with concern as Ramus manipulated the air currents to allow them to speak mid-flight;
“Is she, Rhea? I know that must have been rough.”
Taking advantage of the far more stable flight with the Reuniclus’ support, she adjusted her goggles and position behind her brother.
“Umm… probably not, but she wanted to be with her family; Amira and I are going to get cakes for tonight to celebrate their 2nd Gym Battle. Win or lose, we’re making progress, and I lost first, so… heh, it’s not like she’s the only one.”
“That’s a good way to look at it,” Hilbert nodded. “We’ve all been there.”
Bianca creased an eye. “Excuse you! You and Hilda have never experienced a Gym loss; you have no idea what it’s like,” she defended.
“Huh? Hilda and I lose against each other all the time—and didn’t we lose to Iris—wasn’t she a Gym Leader?”
“Not when she was a Gym Leader; you both fought Drayden for your Bronze and Master Encrusted Badges.”
“It’s okay, Bi! It’s okay,” Rhea chuckled, knowing her cousin was quick to try to defend the underdog in any conversation. “We’ll be fine; we’re growing closer as a team.”
“Sorry,” she whispered, rubbing her forehead. “Hearing them laugh at Lori really just… set me off a bit.”
Rhea could see it being rough for her, seeing as her own fan base turned against her when she decided to quit being a Trainer. “Want a hug?”
“Always!” Ramus maneuvered them together. “Thanks, Cuz…”
“Mhm! Now, we’ll have a lot of time together tomorrow in the ruins—oh, are you going to join us, Hilbert?”
He shook his head. “Nope. Hilda was holding down Unova while Iris was gone, but now that she’s back…”
“Oh! Is Hilda going to come and challenge you here?” Sabin asked.
Katelin snickered. “Naa! Knowing that girl, I bet she’s pissed Hilbert got some training in with Gold and wants her own chance with the Legends.”
“On the money,” Bianca laughed, making Rhea shoot a grin in the cobalt-haired woman’s direction.
“If only that transferred to real credits, huh?”
“Oh, shut up, Rhea—heh—I’ll be in the positive this week!” Kate shot back with laughter.
Sabin pointed at her. “I’ll hold you to that, Kate; you know it’s Saturday!”
“Wait! I meant next week!”
“You said this week, Babe.”
“Babe! How am I going to do that unless I bet on matches?”
“I’ll find ya a challenger,” Sabin returned, throwing out a thumbs up.
They all laughed at Katelin’s sigh, likely hoping for a chill evening.
“Fine… I’ll get dinner tomorrow; how’s that, Rhea? I can simp for your brother, too!”
“Haha. Okay. You get dinner tomorrow.”
Leaving Bianca and her husband in a positive mood, they waved each other off to continue to the northern forest; Alice and Nova were enthralled by how everything was smaller than them while flying.
They landed in a clearing, and Rovane and Jace returned to the skies after their Trainers relieved them of their saddles to practice acrobatics. Their arrival caused a stir in the local Pokemon, seemingly well-adjusted to the tourists and humans passing through the area as they gathered to observe.
Alice was already showing off, flipping and jump-kicking the air, yet Rhea was a little confused when Nova looked up at her with big, pink eyes.
Kate bent down with Rhea as they stroked her soft fur. “What’s this cutie want?”
Rhea hummed as Mya settled down next to her spirit to take a nap with a huff; she wanted to fly. “I think Nova wants to practice transforming and get some help with it.”
“What kind of help?” her brother asked. “You talked to Mom about it?”
“Mhm. Nova can only transform into a Glaceon right now, and the duration is increasing as we practice, but she really wants to have her other forms, too.”
Kate scratched under the fluffy Pokemon’s chin. “Hehe. Such a greedy lil’ Eevee you are! You know, you’re super special; 99.999% of Eevee only gets one evolution, and here you are mad you don’t have another in under a month of hatching?”
Nova’s ears drooped, but Sabin’s chuckle brought her gaze. “She’s not saying you’re a bad Eevee; Kate’s just playing with you while trying to put things into perspective. There’s no need to rush things.”
Rhea reached under her little girl’s arms to lift her up and glare at her internal mumbles. “You’re not defective because you can’t turn into a Vaporeon; don’t ever think that!”
“Yeah!” Kate growled, mirroring Rhea’s frown. “You’re amazing, and don’t ever think otherwise, but… heh, if you really want to train with Alice too, I don’t think it would be a problem! Sabin?”
“No. It’s cool. Well, if Rhea’s fortitude can handle it.”
Hugging the hopeful Eevee to her chest, Rhea gave the pair a thumbs up. “I’ll be good. Who are their opponents?”
Sabin and Katelin grinned at each other and motioned at their belts, the blue-haired girl starting.
“We don’t know which Fairy Pokemon Saria’s Gym will favor, so we went with all the Silver and lower Fairy Pokemon we had; I have four, and Sabin has three.”
“Hehe, one of the few types you beat me in,” Sabin mused, “but I guess it’s not that surprising.”
“My cuddle buddies!” Kate defended. “I need to have someone when you’re always off almost getting smooshed by Steelix in Mt. Silver!”
“Oof. Never gonna let that go, huh?”
“Nope! Anyway, ready Rhea, Alice, Nova?”
Her two Pokemon chirped, and Nova’s vision lit up as Katelin retained her kneeling position, taking out a pokeball with a wink.
“I have a special treat for you, too, Nova. I’d like to introduce Tricks to you…”
Rhea gasped as she released a bright, blue-eyed Pokemon with bows, ribbons, and big, fluffy ears. “Ooh—a Sylveon—wow!”
Nova’s jaw dropped open, squeaking in astonishment.
“Mhm!” Katelin giggled. “Eventually, you’ll be able to transform into a gorgeous Sylveon yourself!”
Tricks smiled and waved at her excited Eevee as Alice challenged him to a speed battle.
Some of them weren’t Fairy-Type yet, since they needed to level to get the typing, but since there were so few Fairy Pokemon, any evolution that would become Fairy was allowed in the Gym format, so long as they had a Fairy Move, be it through Egg, Tutor, or TM.
Nova practiced various tactics with Katelin and her brother, who pointed her to various ways she could use her icy breath, the Alolan Vulpix showing a few snow tricks.
On the other hand, Alice tried to learn how to dodge various Moves and close the distance with a few tactics the Silver-tier Pokemon used to keep her at a distance.
The hours passed, and Rhea felt her fortitude falling near the end, calling it near 4 p.m. to get back to the city; they stopped off at a restaurant, and, naturally, her brother paid, causing Rhea to jab Katelin with more teasing remarks regarding her spending.
Looking down at her phone as they finished, quadruple-checking the time via the Events schedule on Cerulean’s website, she was a little sad when only the Hoenn Champion, Steven Stone, showed up to deliver a message that her aunt was required for something else; he would be joining Diantha, Bianca, and her as her proxy to check out the ruins they’d discovered in the morning, though.
They returned to the Gym at 7:15 p.m. for Amira and Yancy’s performance, using Hilbert’s connections to get into a VIP box; the vast stadium now had a hovering platform, held up by four Magnezone, and in the center of Amira and Yancy talking to one another before everything started.
The Fire Stone of Viridian wore a new, red dress, and couldn’t have looked more natural as she laughed with the superstar; from the schedule, Amira would be opening Yancy’s concert; Rhea wondered what they’d be singing, but whatever it would be, Rocket was full in attendance, and it was a maxed out stadium with Misty having a front row seat from her Gym Leader platform.
Hilbert pointed out Lori and her family based on their aura near the front, and she thought she could see the girl having fun with her sister, tossing popcorn at their semi-annoyed mother, and making her fish it out of her semi-exposed bust.
However, silence came on as the lights dimmed for the spotlight to come to Amira; she took a deep breath and stepped forward to face the area Rocket stood.
“Huu-haaa… I’d like to thank Yancy, Gym Leader Misty, and everyone that’s in attendance. We recorded this song before the show, and it will be available on all platforms; all proceeds will go to the Ranger Pokemon Relief Charity.
“I won’t say this is perfect, as Yancy and I were only able to practice a little, but I wrote this about… ahem… about something my mother told me a few years ago… It’s also a tribute to the example she sets for me. It’s, umm… I called it Hero. I hope you enjoy it.”
Rhea’s lips pulled in as she heard the cooing from many women around the stadium, and, once again, she felt a bit of emotion herself at recalling her own brother’s rescue with the Champion showing up to save them from Plasma.
Her emotion only grew as another spotlight centered on Yancy at a piano, and a small orchestra of strings began to play that was followed by a drummer; when Amira started to sing, she saw the redhead stepping forward to draw away the Plasma assassin’s attention, drawing the gun’s barrel away from them.
The displays hovering around the stadium split, making Rhea’s throat catch as she saw Lyra in Silver’s arms, tears running down her cheeks. Amira performed a song written from her heart, and Rhea could feel it after traveling with her for the past month; a song about finding an inner hero to overcome the challenges of the world.
Yancy provided the low vocals from the piano as Amira carried the higher notes, and after the four-minute song, there wasn’t a person sitting; all Rhea heard and saw were tear-stained cheeks and clapping.
Amira wore a soft smile as she looked at the Rocket section, somehow managing to keep a clear throat through the whole performance until now. “I, umm… ahem. I know a lot of people feel the same way about my mother. She’s always been my inspiration, and I couldn’t have asked for a better friend and mom. Thank you.”
More claps followed her exit as she handed off the microphone to one of the backup singers to move to a Magnezone-operated platform that would carry her to the challenger locker room.
Rhea sniffed back her tears with those around her as they watched Lyra disappear from the screen, Zelri teleporting them to meet her daughter in the back, no doubt.
What a beautiful tribute… Lyra deserves it, though; she does everything for Amira.
* * *
Mallory couldn’t hold back, sobbing all over Casey as she hugged her sister; as could be expected, her emotional mess of a sister was already blubbering, as well.
No one had said anything—they knew they didn’t have to—she knew it was stupid to feel sorry for herself, and how idiotic it was to hold onto her mistakes; if it had just been her, it would have been fine, but she’d hurt Rhea and Miky in less than twenty-four hours.
Yet, despite all that, she could resonate so well with her teammate’s song; the years of agony from the burn on her back that made her afraid to go out until her little sister, mother, and father set an example to be strong and push into the public.
Amira and Rhea were the heroes she wanted to be after the two almost took a bullet for her; they were the example that helped her work through her fear of water, protected her in the ice cave, and no matter what she did, somehow the little blonde always forgave her.
It was as if Amira was telling her to buck up, find her inner hero, and jump back in the ring, yet it was so much more powerful than anyone just telling her that.
“I’ll do better, Cass!”
“Me, too, Lori! I’m such a screw-up!”
“Me, too, Cass… Me, too…”
Her mother got up to draw them in. “Aww… you two… I’ll do better, too!”
When Amira left, it took a bit for everyone to calm down, and Yancy gradually moved the theme of the songs to a more energetic theme as they slowly made their way out of the stadium; typically, she would have stayed for the whole thing, but she had to meet up with her team after a performance like that.
Texting Rhea and Amira, Lori asked if they could go somewhere to talk, and Amira returned that she had some plans with her mother, but they could walk the riverside for a bit; she gathered her courage and accepted the offer.
I know it doesn’t have to be said… but it does… It does matter… Thank you, Amira.
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