B2 — 33. A New Goal Set

PoV:

1:  Rhea (Our Blonde, Awkward Bombshell MC!)

Pokemon Map: 

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!

I’d like to thank my patrons for continuing to support me:

Bob, Roni Free, Brunoid, Falxie, Justin Timothy, Martynas Samsonas, Eyes Wide, and my other Patrons!


12:07 a.m. July 6, Monday, 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 27 Days (26 officially; 27 since getting Maya and Nova).

Standing in front of her hotel door, Rhea took a deep breath and smiled down at her Buneary.  Alice pupped her fist with a determination glowing in her pink irises that made Rhea giggle; she wholly thought that her Trainer had just gone through a human Gym gauntlet, and perhaps she had.

Right…  Let’s be as honest as we can!  We’re a team, so I have to rely on Amira and Lori like we rely on each other.  Wait, Nova!

Her Eevee’s ears popped up within her pokeball, making Rhea giggle at being able to tell the gut reaction from her Pokemon as she interpreted why she’d called her name.

Yeah!  We were supposed to meet with your mom tonight—before all this happened… plus they have the who Mewtwo thing…

Nova chirped her response, and Rhea interpreted it that she’d rather have a fresh day to be able to get to know her mother; she wanted to get to know the woman that birthed her, similar to how Rhea felt about her mom.

Texting the Former Champion, Rhea asked if it was possible to reschedule their playdate for tomorrow, apologizing for missing the time; she was surprised by how instant the response was.

12:08 a.m. – Elaine: We’re looking forward to it!  Just let us know, and we’ll be right over; everyone is a bit busy today anyways, and your aunt said we shouldn’t bother you after your mother called.  Hope you have a fantastic night!

Glad it worked out, Rhea returned a smiley face emote and thumbs up; there was never enough time in a day.

Nova, Mya, and Alice kept close to her spirit as she brought her phone up to the reader to open the door, yet it clicked moments before reaching the scanner, and Lori’s shining face filled Rhea’s vision as she swung it open—possibly just getting out of the shower.

“Rhea!  You have no idea, eh—have you been crying?”

She caught Amira brushing back her hair while leaning forward to look past Lori from her bed at the girl’s sudden change in cadence.  Amber sat beside her, flicking ears probably the reason they’d known she was outside.

“What happened, Rhea?”  the redhead asked, standing up and setting down her phone.

Trying to put on a smile with her tight lips, Rhea shook her head; a weight suddenly hit her chest, making her hesitate.  “Umm… mmh-mmh.  It’s okay—Alice…”

The Buneary’s ear smacked her thigh, crossing her arms and glaring up at her.

“Haaa…  Yeah, I know,” she mumbled as her Pokemon urged her to move beyond the discomfort—she didn’t like to start drama—and Amira and Lori had just gotten off dates that seemed to go really well.  “Umm.  Let me first hear how your guys’ day was!

“I know—I promise, Alice,” she reassured her beady-eyed Pokemon.  “I’m not throwing in the towel.”

Lori forced a chuckle while pulling her inside and guiding her to the bed while throwing the door shut, causing a commotion.  “Okay, I’m totally interested now—what has Alice all in a tiff at ya?”

“She’s holding back her feelings,” Amira translated, offering a sad smile as the Buneary, Lori’s Rockruff, and her Fennekin converged to talk.  “I have experience there.  Everything okay, Rhea—well, heh, obviously not, but we’re here—don’t force yourself until you’re ready.”

“Seriously!”  Lori huffed, collapsing back on her bed; she was already in her night bikini, ready to snuggle into bed.  “I’m so exhausted…  Oh, but you have no idea how insane Kekoa is—he ate fire from a Marowak—fire!  Literally—bone and all; ate it—I was like, what?!  Then just brought it back up—oh, but what’s up?”

Rhea’s belly shook with laughter.  “You don’t sound exhausted.”

Amira held up her hands in agreement.  “That’s what I said, and she’s been talking non-stop the entire time—through the shower door.”

“Ugh… I’m sooo tired,” Mallory groaned, snatching a pillow before dropping it on her face.  “Ahhh!  How can it go from so chill to so intense in like… no time at all!”

“Chill!”  Amira hissed, glancing at the walls to see if they’d bothered their neighbors.  “C’mon, Lori…  Let’s put a pin on it for a second.  Rhea?”

The Unovan girl coughed and tossed her pillow off the bed, pulling her violet hair out from under her back to drape across her chest.  “Right!  Right!  Lay it on us, girl!  We borrowing your bro’s Mismagius to curse someone tonight?”

“Huh?”  Rhea choked another laugh.  “You’re ridiculous, Lori!  I’m not cursing anyone.”

“Aww.  No fun,” she moaned.  “I used to pretend with my sister’s Ghost Pokemon all the time—mostly on her—at least, heh, I think I was pretending,” she mused.  “I could make a call if you want…  Oh, I could call Snicky—Dad’s Absol—he’s always up for a good cursing!”

“I’m good!”

“Fine…  Seriously—all joking aside—what’s up?”

Rhea growled, scratching the side of her head at the look Alice gave her, and the sensation she got from her Mawile and Eevee was the same after her previous declaration—she didn’t have this feeling of impending dread before, though—what if they thought it was weird having a part Pokemon freak in their group?

Nova shot back that she wasn’t being fair; she should have more faith in her teammates as she’s always telling them to have.

You’re right…

Pulling her golden locks around, Rhea dropped onto the bed next to Lori, staring up at the ceiling.  “Just as, you know, theoretical…”

“Wonderful grammar,” Amira chuckled.  “Yes?”

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Lori waved her hand in the air.  “Pfft!  Get out of here.”

“Haaa-ha-ha.  Umm, so… I found out that I’m…”

“Mhm?”  Lori pressed, legs rising into the air as she hoisted herself up to look at her.

Rhea closed her eyes, relaxing her muscles while letting go of everything and preparing for an impact.  “I’m… not completely human.”

Silence stretched for a few seconds before Lori laughed.

“What’d I tell you, Amira—total Alcremie in disguise—she’s too sweet to be anything else!”

“Huh?”

Rhea’s vision cleared as she looked at her smiling teammates, stunned by their back and forth.

“Mmh.  True, Rhea is super sweet,” Amira hummed, “but you can’t discount her nickname.  I still put my credits on at least some part Swablu in there—she’s too fluffy and cute to not…”  she trailed off as Lori winked.

“Total Alcremie!  I’m telling you—you know it—fluffy, cute, always friendly, and looking to bring positive vibes.  She can’t stand sour atmospheres—because she’s made of sweets!  It’s perfect—I’ve cracked the code!”

Amira shrugged.  “I’m just saying—Swablu for cuteness isn’t so Farfetch’d, and we have to consider her aura aspect and eating habits, so…  Lucario and for eating…”

“Alcremie!”  Lori sang.  “She only eats sweets!”

“I… don’t just eat sweets,” Rhea mumbled, at a total loss with their playful smiles.

Lori hugged her.  “What’d I tell you!  Total sweetheart!  You can’t think we haven’t thought your mother didn’t put some kind of Pokemon DNA in you—”

“RNA,” Amira corrected, giving her a small, encouraging smile.  “It’s used to modify existing genetic code.  Did… you think we wouldn’t like you if you turned out to have some Pokemon in you?  I’m not completely convinced my mom’s not part Pokemon—she’s too much of a Tauros to not be.”

“True!”  Lori snickered before pausing as her comparison clicked.  “N shot!  Your Mom’s a total babe—an adorable Cleffa that must be protected—like Rhea!”  she added, drawing her into another hug.

“You don’t know how bull-headed and impossible my mother can be underneath all that Cute Charm she fools everyone with,” Amira mumbled.

Just catching up to the ridiculous conversation, Rhea gently pulled away from Lori.  “You… don’t think I’m weird—you thought I was weird for not eating as much as you…”

“What?”  Amira shook her head, eyebrows drawing together.  “No.  We were worried about your health, which is not the same as thinking you’re weird.”

“Right?”  Lori huffed.  “Hmm… Okay, Amira, I’m starting to see the Morpeko in her now.”

Amira threw up a hand in confusion.  “What are you even talking about now?”

“No, you’re right—terrible comparison—unless it’s eternal Full Belly Mode,” she hummed with a thoughtful nod as she settled down, expression becoming somber.  “Did you really think we would toss you to the curb for something that silly…  After you literally saved my life?  Do I come off as that much of a Toxel?”

Rhea rubbed her arm, falling to the bed again.  “It’s not that…  I just feel weird—maybe it’s just me projecting, which is not Swablu or Alcremie…  Maybe I’m the Toxel.”

Amira transferred to Lori’s bed, sandwiching Rhea with Lori on the other side.  “It sounds like you’ve gone through a huge roller coaster and don’t know what to think.  Why don’t you explain it to us?  We’re here for you, hehe, whether we can capture you in a pokeball or not.”

Lori’s eyes widened as if her brain had exploded at the sudden revelation.  “Amira… Galaxy brain!  Could we bond with Rhea?!  Her Pokemon, and ours… and—whaa…”

“Shut up,” Amira sighed, grabbing the pillow she’d tossed off to smack her face with it.

“No, I’m like, freakin’ out here—that’d be sick—she could ship herself anywhere!”

“It’s called a plane, stupid,” Amira dryly returned.

Rhea chuckled; her dread really did sound kind of silly now.

“I’m sorry…”

She found her watery eyes drying up as Amira rubbed her knee with another encouraging smile; it was as if she was pulling strength from her two traveling companions, and their concern was genuine underneath Lori’s jokes and Amira’s pointed jabs.

“What’s really eating you up?”  the redhead whispered.  “It takes a lot to break you down.”

“Right?”  Lori mumbled, shifting to search her face.  “I’m usually the mess—well, Cass, typically—but you know what I mean.”

All the stress was pulled out of her as Rhea eased back with Lori and Amira, staring up at the hotel ceiling while explaining everything she’d learned; she glazed over the Mewtwo part to keep her promise to her mom but told them about everything else:

The Victini core, legendary and mythical RNA, her parents revealing their past, the damage she could be causing those around them, Ash, and how challenging it was for her to accept what her parents confessed.

Their Pokemon cuddled around them as the hour went on, and Nova swapped places to lay on Rhea’s stomach; there were so many things eating her up inside that she didn’t know where to start, so she ping-ponged between topics, answering short questions, but her teammates became relatively quiet besides showing her their encouragement.

When she finished, it felt like she was empty—it wasn’t necessarily good, but the pain was gone—now, she was looking for answers, and her first thought was her brother.

“Sabin doesn’t know,” she whispered, closing her eyes and breathing a long puff of air.

“I’m so angry at my parents, but… I get it, but there’s no way I can leave Sabin in the dark… yet it’s not fully my secret either, and I know my parents are scared…  I don’t know—I’ve always wanted to be normal—to fit in, and… I guess they gave that to me by not telling me.  I don’t know.  Haaa.  I’m all kinds of messed up.”

Amira was the first to digest the stream of information, and her voice carried a wistful tone that felt like the cool breeze and waves she’d experienced on the cliff with her parents.

“I know what it’s like to have criminals as family… people I love more than… well, heh, more than I can say—and you know… they’ve done terrible things.  It took me a while to come to terms with everything I was bombarded with, you know?”

Rhea glanced over to see her teammate’s sad smile.  “Really?  You always looked so composed and stunning online.”

“Oh, I wasn’t going to let them know they were getting to me.”  Amira rolled her eyes and sucked on her inner cheek for a second.  “You have no idea how many times people threw every crime Rocket did at me… like Pin Missiles, and they landed.

“Why?  I don’t know—they were hurt or just looking for a reaction from me—clicks—I guess… and it did hurt… a lot,” she whispered, puffing out a hot breath and blinking back tears.  “I know what it’s like to be treated like an object—people looking for a quick credit at my expense or hurting me to feel better about themselves… like they took down Rocket themselves.”

Rhea bit her lower lip, feeling the indignation in wanting to defend her friend from the emotions in her voice; she hadn’t known Amira for that long, but she knew how hard it was for her to talk about herself since it could be used as a weapon against her.

“All I know is my grandpa and grandma, though…  Heh.  My overprotective and overbearing family… who work to make the world a better place.  I don’t know the people in the videos or reports… I just know my classy grandma and grandpa—not the monsters others tell me I should see them as—it’s not who they are to me, and so… I’m the delusional, pampered, Fire Stone princess… with a throne of corpses to sit on.”

Lori hummed.  “Wow.  That’s pretty crazy…  People always want to get in your business, telling you what to think or feel.  You know, I used to get bullied in school?”

“You?”  Rhea asked, unable to believe the tall, outspoken, and social magnet could get pushed around by anyone, yet, at this moment, she could feel a hidden vulnerability the violet-haired girl didn’t show. 

“Mhm,” she mumbled, scooting back to tap her heels against the bed.  “I used to take a lot of weeks off from school… and some girls hated how much attention I got since I was adopted by two League members.

“Amira may be the delusional, pampered, Fire Stone princess, but I was the parentless, neurotic, big-chested girl that got pampered and always scored low on tests—stupid, big-chested Lori, who was only good at dancing… and getting simps to shill for her.  I was kind of a freak.”

Amira chuckled.  “I’d say I’m glad you’re one of us rejects and not a perfect country sweetheart, but I’d be lying, because you totally are the glue that keeps us stable!”

“Stop!”  Rhea brushed it off.  “Haaa.  Grandpa calls me his Swablu because I’m his innocent, puffy cloud in the sky—untainted by the world,” she grumbled.

“What’s wrong with that?”  Lori asked.  “The city-fast-life is overrated, overpopulated, and nasty!  I think you’re perfect being you—you don’t need to conform to some image the world has of what a girl should be—including us!”

Rhea gave her a confused frown.  “Huh?”

Amira snickered, nudging her side.  “She’s saying, with the whole boyfriend thing and kissing that she was teasing you about.”

“Yeah—Muk me!”  Lori huffed, punching the air.  “You do whatever you feel natural or want to do—everyone out there thinking girls are somehow less because they’re virgin kissers or anything else—Muk those judgy losers.”

Rhea didn’t know if they were joking or not at this point, but it did help; this was the first time she’d had real female friends her age, and it was different than it was with Jason.

She knew other girls from various regions and called them friends, but not in the traditional, online sense of constantly talking and hanging out; it was more like my parents know your parents sort of thing, and we can chill when around, but nothing like Bianca and her did—although, she wasn’t sure that counted since they were cousins.

She didn’t know how to really act around them, so she was trying to learn and adapt as she went—maybe she didn’t need to, though—she could just be herself; the only reflection she’d had on what girls did was from online sources and what she heard from Masters, but Master friends weren’t the same thing she saw in shows.

If Rhea looked back, she could see there was a fear within her about what she should do with her teammates to fit in—the fear of losing—holding them back or the projections people on Gossip had toward her group, yet they were girls going through their own problems, too.

Heart warming as their words sunk in, Rhea’s daze started to lift; Amira and Lori were her friends—real friends—and this was what that felt like.  She could confide and trust them, but that didn’t mean everything they said was right, such as Lori’s teasing or Amira suddenly acting like her mother, creating a conflict within her chest.

“Ha-ha-ha, yeah—Muk, Lori!”

“Hey!”  the Unovan girl cried.  “Let’s not go crazy—I said I’m sorry—you know, is that the first time she swore, and about me?!”

Amira lifted an eyebrow, deep in thought.  “I’m fairly confident she’s sworn before, but… I can’t think of another time off the top of my head.  Huh.  Congratulations on the infamy, Lori; the first to get a sweet Swablu to curse.”

“Ugh!  I wave the white flag—I’m so tired.  Feel better?”

Sora snickered.  “Mhm.  Thanks, Amira, Lori—I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s weird.”

“No problem,” Amira returned, returning to her own bed to sit across from her.  “By the way, personally, I think you’re the least weird out of us.”

“Wait…”  Lori’s eyebrows drew together.  “Does that make me the weirdest?”

Amira shrugged.  “You sing and dance randomly on the trail—in the street… in the shower.”

“How do you know?!”  Lori challenged.

“Uh… I can hear the water flying around and deal with the complaints,” Amira sighed, running her fingers through her hair.

“What?  No!”  she grumbled, rubbing her neck and looking away as Rhea laughed.  “Is my voice that bad—you really get complaints?  Mission failed.”

“Well, when it’s in the morning—no matter how good your singing is—you’re going to get people annoyed; it’s called being considerate.”

“True,” Lori nodded in guilt.  “I am kind of inconsiderate at times—but you said my singing was good!”

“Did I?”  Amira doubtfully hummed, directing a sly smirk her way.  “I remember saying ‘no matter how good your singing is’… not that your singing was good.”

“Oof.  Well… I suppose if we’re comparing, Rhea blows me out of the water, and you’re practically in a different universe.  No!  I am the weak link!”

“Stop it!”  Rhea huffed.  “I think you sound great in the morning; it gets me pumped, and you listen to so many genres that I find new favorites all the time.”

“Aww,” Lori sniffed, scooting over to hug her.  “You’re so precious; I love you—I won’t let anyone have you!”

Forcing a chuckle as the comment brought to mind another Trainer.  “Eh-heh… let’s not go full Green here and want to turn every strong Trainer into her Pokemon.”

“Ooh!”  A twinkle brightened Mallory’s eyes.  “If I threw a Master Ball at you…  Eh?!  Alice—”

Rhea’s little Buneary jumped out of her pokeball to separate them as Nova returned; the bunny hopped up and down while fuming, willing to box as Alice punched the air—all her Pokemon totally rejecting the idea of the Unovan girl taking away their human.

Giggling while calming her Pokemon down, Rhea held her bunny against her chest while looking between her grinning teammates.  “What about me damaging you two?  I’m hurting you—so, shouldn’t we pause things to handle that?”

Lori’s damp locks whipped left and right with her head.  “And leave you to yourself—Muk no—you can’t get rid of us that easily, girl!”

Amira nodded.  “Didn’t you tell us Ash could help you?”

“Are you… okay with that?”  Rhea mumbled, absently playing with Alice’s tufts.  “I know it’s kind of last minute, but…”

“You kidding?”  Lori streamed out a long sigh.  “If there’s one thing you suck at, Rhea, it’s that you can’t relax and go with the flow; you’re always so worried about everyone else—like your brother and us—after learning all that muck!  C’mon!”

She bent back to grab her pillow to hold up.  “C’mon—punch it—get that frustration out!  Oh, or do you want to scream in it—I always like a good scream—Amira?”

“Punching… or yoga.”

“Figured…  So, what will it be, Rhea?!”

“I think we’re dodging the question!”  she laughed but could see their point.  “Umm, I’ve kind of been a runner or swimmer… hiking, rock climbing…”

“Mukin’ country girls and their athletic stuff,” Lori groaned, pulling the pillow to her own face to fall back and scream into it.  “Next thing you’ll be telling me, we need to go rope some Miltank…  I’ve never milked a Miltank—I’m scared, Rhea!”

“You’re impossible,” Amira mused, throwing another pillow at the giggling girl.  “Haaa.  I know you’re scared, Rhea, but I’m just glad I have an explanation as to why I’ve been so weak lately, and… to be honest, I do feel a bit intimidated by your own growth—

“In a good way,” she added at Rhea’s concerned frown.  “I’ve never felt inferior before, which is good for me—I know, it sounds weird—but it helps me ground myself.  Thank you, Rhea.”

“Really?”

Lori let go of a pent-up breath.  “For real.  You’re amazing, Rhea, in so many ways.  I’m glad we got put into a team—random, too—heh, not that I believe that.”

Amira gave a meaningful nod.  “I’ve never felt like a team… or that I could have real friends, but you proved me wrong, Rhea.”

“What about me?!”  Lori balked.

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“Mmh.  I’d say… an acquired taste, I guess,” the redhead said with an apologetic smile.

“Heh, classy way to say I’m terrible!  Sorry for being so pushy, guys—I know I can push boundaries too far,” Lori mumbled, playing with her bikini strap.

“You mean well,” Rhea chimed.  “I know you’re a good person, Lori.  We all have our faults, right?”

“Right!  But we’re totally a team, and we cover each other’s bases—speaking of—have you two ever been to a baseball game?”

Rhea shook her head.  “Not much into the whole sports thing like my brother; I like exploring outside more.”

Amira jabbed her thumb in her direction.  “I’m with her—fishing, rafting, flying—all good activities.”

“Crazy people—flying?!”

“Wingsuit flying?”  Rhea asked with shining eyes.

Amira held up her hands with a strained grin.  “Okay, I haven’t done anything that crazy, but… I’m not against it.”

“What even is that?”  Lori mumbled.  “Having a Flying Pokemon carry you around?”

“No…”  Amira returned, brushing aside the topic.  “In any case, I’m completely fine with Ash joining us to help you learn how to control this Pressure Helping Hand combo you have; plus, it really is a fascinating and amazing ability.”

Rhea hadn’t expected that response, catching her off-guard as Lori followed it.

“Just call it what it is—awesome!  Rhea’s a total blonde babe powerhouse superhero—total package, girl—I’m telling you, let me make you some socials, and you’ll have a following that’s insane!”

Amira gave her a dull look.  “Did you forget the part about Rainbow Rocket—and why would anyone want a ton of people hounding them about their personal life.”

Lori pointed a finger and smirked at the redhead.  “Spoken like a girl born to the limelight!”

“What does that have to do with anything?  It doesn’t change the fact people are noisy and toxic.”

“Facts,” Lori agreed.  “However, it can also be nice to see a positive comment among the trash; there are two sides to the coin, and you get influence—look what I did to Cerulean with a single post!”

 “I wouldn’t call that…  Haaa, never mind,”  Amira sighed, smiling at Rhea as she followed the conversation while petting Alice and suddenly realizing the sneaky bunny had stolen Nova’s turn.  “I want to be friends with you, Rhea, even… if it means I need to be friends with this social media dance freak.”

“Guilty!   I’m just another degenerate from the streets over here.  Also, totally with her—oh, but just between us,” she whispered with a smirk, “can’t Amira be a bit of a high-class, snooty Persian sometimes?  It’s not her fault—the poor girl must walk among the rabble.”

“Is that right?”  Amira huffed, but she was smiling.  “I can be a bit of a Persian, but you forgive me, right?”

“Always!”  Lori grinned.  “You forgive me for being a showy Oricorio!”

“And me?”  Rhea asked, happy to join the roast.  “A Muk downer—a Skuntank?”

Amira and Lori looked at each other before the redhead and Unovan girl answered, and both ended in laughter.

“I think Lori had it right the first time.”

“Alcremie to the end!”

“C’mon—I can be mean!”

“Girl, I don’t know the definition then!”  Lori snickered.  “If you want a roast—the best I got is a Sobble, but then you turn into Mukin’ double-o-chill when the heat comes—seriously—you are the coolest girl I know under gunfire.”

Rhea wasn’t so sure about that, but she was happy to participate in the conversation; she could be a little Sobble—that was cool—and Sobble was cute, too!  Although maybe that wasn’t the best thing.  Yet, Persians were pretty, like Amira, and Oricorio were also enchanting, like Lori, so perhaps it worked out.

Joking a few more minutes, she noticed it was getting beyond late at 1:42 a.m., and they had a battle with Sam’s group—dubbed the Wooloo Girls—tomorrow.  A contest that she hadn’t told her teammates about; informing them, Lori and Amira were completely in favor of the contest.

Having overcome all her fears, Rhea set her resolve and finally opened up to the real emotion festering within her chest.  “Lori, Amira…”

Her teammates settled into bed as Nova swapped places with Alice and Amber turned off the lights, providing a little with her flames so everyone could get situated.

“Mhm?”

“What’s up?”

“I want to make Rainbow Rocket pay for everything they did to my family…  I want to get strong enough so I can when they break through again.”

In the dim light, she saw Lori’s expression tighten, fingers reaching around to rub her back.  “I…  Yeah, I’m with you 100%…  I need to get stronger, too.”

Amira hummed, staring up at the ceiling from her back.  “Rainbow Rocket hurt my family’s image and did a lot of terrible things that my grandpa is blamed for…  I hate them, too.  I won’t lie—I’m more pissed at Plasma, though, but I’m with you.  I have to show my mom I’m strong enough to take care of myself… or she’ll never stop worrying about me.”

Rhea wasn’t sure that was how it worked for mothers, but she resonated with the sentiment.  “So… what if I said I wanted to get strong enough that we’re Gold-tier by the next League—bypassing Bronze and Silver?”

“Wow… big jump, huh?”  Mallory whispered, swapping to her side.  “That’s a huge step from us losing Bronze Encrusted challenges to suddenly doing Gold-tier.  I’m all for dreaming big, but… can we do that?”

A long puff of air shot through Amira’s nose.  “It’s… not as impossible as it seems; in fact, it’s fairly on-point for most Champion or Legendary Trainer stories, and Rhea does have the added bonus of this Pressure Helping Hand and Victini core… with her mother’s insane Pokemon support—Nova, being an absolute beast.”

The Eevee chirped from under Rhea’s covers, already wrapped around her leg.

“Still, it’s going to be rough, and it really depends on what we can learn from Ash.”

Rhea smiled, stroking Nova’s fur with her free foot as she recalled everything she’d heard about—as her aunt described him—the most tenacious and unpredictable Trainer in history.  “I have faith in everything I’ve heard about the first Alola Champion.”

“Wait—I thought no one was the Alola Champion,” Lori mumbled, scratching Roxy behind the ears; the Rockruff was making a bed out of the girl’s soft stomach.

Amira’s head shifted left and right on her pillow as she positioned her hair for the night; Amber had taken to copying Nova, enjoying the comfort of snuggling against the redhead’s legs.  “He turned down the governing position like Kanto’s Legends, but, technically, he is the Alola Champion.”

“Huh.  The more you know… and you really think he has nothing better to do than travel with us?”

Rhea shrugged.  “My dad suggested it and seems to think he will… I don’t know.  All I can do is ask.”

“I guess so…  Crazy.  Well, night!  I’m beat…”

Rhea was tired but felt a tad guilty about taking up the full night; the world didn’t revolve around her.  “What about your dates?  Lori…”

“No way she’s asleep,” Amira mumbled, lifting up on one elbow to look as Amber poked her head out to light the room, yet all they saw was the peaceful Unovan girl’s chest rising and falling at an even pace.  “Unbelievable.”

Giggling, Rhea pulled her phone off the wireless charger and sent her friends a text, delaying their meet time to noon; she needed the rest and informed Amira so she could change her alarm time.

Amira promised there wasn’t much to talk about; it was a pretty standard, enjoyable date, which had Rhea biting at the bit—she didn’t know what standard even meant in real life—her parents went on dates, but they were Grandmasters, and that wasn’t standard.

Unfortunately, she would have to wait, and Rhea gradually let the dream world draw her in; she’d made it through another day.


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