B2 — 40. Rylee, A Good Fit?


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:

Grant Woodley, Jan L, Name Pending, Brandon Stiles, Alexander Getty, Thrusk, Thomas, Shadowfax1333, Paisleyhaze, and my other Patrons!

5:45 a.m. July 11th, 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.  Our girl started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 32 Days (31 officially; 32 since getting Maya and Nova).

Stretching under the sheets as the soft alarm went off, Rhea felt her Buneary shift against her belly; Rhea figured she’d changed to her side, displacing Alice at some point during the night.  Cracking open an eye, she spotted the time: 5:45 a.m.

Yawning, she worked around her mouth and forced herself up.  They’d set their alarms fifteen minutes early since they didn’t know exactly what to expect today after Ash’s declaration last night—none of them had worked on a farm.

Amira was already up and getting ready, as per usual, and, taking her groggy bun to the bathroom—snatching her phone—she greeted her other two slowly rousing girls.  Getting ready while casually scanning any morning news, she saw that Ash had sent them Melanie’s address around 1 a.m.

What the legend was doing up at that time was beyond her, but she supposed it had something to do with the harvest; his team could do a lot of things normal people couldn’t, and if traveling with Ash had taught her anything over the last few days, everyone wanted his attention.

She wondered if that’s what it was like for most Champion and Legendary-tier Trainers.  It was a lot less of a sprint and competition to have a strong Trainer’s focus back home, but everyone there was at least Master-tier, so that wasn’t a good base of reference.

Unzipping the skirt part of her Trainer suit, she put on shorts instead, keeping the far more durable top before allowing Amira to fuss with her hair; she returned the favor, crafting the redhead’s locks, and Lori was next.

They managed to be out of the hotel at 6:38 a.m., yet they were far from the earliest risers; dozens upon dozens of men and women were already bustling about the village, bringing out the equipment and finishing up breakfast.

Rhea was beginning to feel a little squeamish upon seeing so many Pokemon and people knowing exactly where to go and what their jobs were; she was totally out of her element.

“You… don’t think they’re going to have us drive one of those things?”  she asked, eyeing a colossal machine on the road.

Amira giggled and shook her head.  “No.  You need a license and training just like driving a car.  I doubt we’ll actually be participating in any of the main harvest activities.”

“I don’t know…”  Lori mumbled, petting a sleepy Roxie in her arms.  “Ash did say we’re helping on the farm.  Pikachu is going to meet us at Melanie’s house?”

“That’s what Ash said,” Rhea returned, taking out her phone to scan through a few apps.

Passively chatting with her two friends as Nova and Alice talked to the other Pokemon, Rhea checked what was tending on the various news stations.

Paldea was hitting the majority of the headlines, and there was even talk about the ability for other regions to participate in the University Programs the region had.  Unlike the United League, Paldea’s school-focused region came with a focus on Pokemon battles after general education, and the age limit for students to bond to their first was still fourteen years old.

From the commentary she was seeing, the major disconnect and conflicting portion of Paldea was its more lax age restriction.  Some regional scientists believed they were being anti-science in how they handled the statistics for long-term health problems associated with kids that bonded too early.

Yet, when Rhea gravitated toward more of the researchers that she knew worked with her mother, they came with a somewhat hopeful perspective after seeing many of Paldea’s own research findings and program.

The University Program incorporated an eight Gym challenge, much like every other, that gave you the possibility to face the League Board, yet that was the qualifier to be seen as a Master within the region.

In order to have a place on the Board, it took eighteen Encrusted Master Badges from a rather unusual system the region had created, involving traditional Badges, earning five Titan Pokemons’ respect, and the five regional misfit factions, collectively known as Star, proving to every side of the community you had what it took to lead.

Very few ever obtained every badge to challenge the current Champion Chairwoman, and Paldea citizens boasted that Geeta was as powerful as Cynthia, Red, Leon, or any other regional Champion.  The claim was met with heavy skepticism.

Rhea couldn’t say if it was true or not since she’d never met the woman nor heard much about her within her own Master community.  She had heard that the region had some funny business when it came to time, yet it hadn’t particularly interested her to dive into.

Similarly, there was speculation on the actual power-scaling and capability of each Gym and these delinquents—whom some called Skull wannabes—but that was common across every region.  Naturally, each one wanted to believe they had the strongest.

Rhea found it interesting that Geeta publicly stated two days ago that they were open to having a number of various other regions involved in the United Leagues put their system to the test; their Battle University was open to all ages over fourteen, and nearly every student exited near Silver-tier, which, if true, could put into question the current scientific consensus.

It was a national experiment that had many other regions reject it outright due to the ethical nature of the process—the futures of kids were on the line—and the professors that spearheaded the region had a lot of questions surrounding their history.

The process of organizing each region in accepting Paldea’s challenge would still take a bit of time, but Rhea thought it would be cool to travel to a region she hadn’t heard a whole lot about; she had so much ahead of her that it filled her with excitement.

Swapping over to Pikabook, she smiled as more pictures of Jade and Cami popped up, enjoying a night out in the festival.  Rhea hoped Rylee would be a good fit to finally make the woman’s dream of completing the Bronze challenge a reality, and couldn’t help but feel it was destined to happen after everything that lined up for her to be with her little sister at this moment.

Now, it was time to meet this new girl they’d be spending the day with and who would be their boss in this volunteer effort.

They arrived just outside a rather decently sized house that had three levels and came in a more ancient Johto design with its sliding panel doors and aesthetic.  Dozens of various baby Pokemon, such as Pichu, Cleffa, Igglybuff, Togepi, and Elekid were playing in the yard.

Alice’s ears stuck up as they moved toward the door to knock, communicating that she heard someone out back; however, when they reached it, they found a note taped on the front that said for them to go around back.

“Huu-haaa.  Guess we missed Melanie, huh?”  Lori asked as they rediverted to the side of the house.

All of the baby Pokemon rushed over to greet their own, causing Miky to hide behind Mallory’s leg, which was ironic, considering he was a bit older than the rest of their Pokemon; he did grow up in a more secluded portion of Viridian Forest, though.

Their soft conversation died down upon hearing shouts coming from the back as they rounded the side, and what they discovered made them come to a halt.

A girl around their age was wearing a white robe, wielding a Honedge as she made repeated swinging motions; her hair was brighter than her mother’s, appearing almost neon-blue and shining in the faintly lit morning light.

Rylee didn’t seem to notice them, and Rhea recalled from her history books a similar outfit worn in the distant past, during Kanto’s Feudal Era.  Sweat slicked the girl’s red neck as she yelled, “Four-hundred… forty-five!  Four-hundred… forty-six!”

Lori scooted closer to Amira, whispering, “What’s she doing?”

“Kendo,” Rhea answered.  “It’s something Kanto used to do like… a long time ago.”

“It’s still practiced here and there,” Amira nodded, pointing out Pikachu beside the girl; the electric rat was mirroring Rylee with a stick.  “We shouldn’t interrupt them until they’re done.  It seems like a morning ritual.  My mother and I used to spar in the morning…  She never let me win.”

“Oof.  Holding onto that, huh?”  Lori mused, studying the precise motion and form the blue-haired girl took in her practice swings.

Rhea smiled.  It took a lot of discipline to do something like this, and it was interesting to see other people’s hobbies; the fact she was doing it with a Honedge could also be a part of that story, and she wanted to hear it.

In amusement, they watched a bunch of the baby Pokemon run to a nearby pile of sticks to find their own, and Alice joined them; naturally, her Buneary wanted to show that she could do anything, and Nova swapped with Mya when the Mawile asked if she could give it a try.  Gables, Miky, and even Roxie ran over to bite a stick to swing around, copying Rylee.

It was cute seeing her inspire so many Pokemon to join in the exercise, and Rhea wondered how many she could do.

“Four-hundred… fifty-nine!”


“Four-hundred… sixty!”


“Oh…”  She paused in her slashes as a bunch of the babies ran in front of her to follow her lead.  “Hehe.  You guys don’t typically join me for morning practice swings… and who are you five?”  she asked, loosening her grip on her Honedge to bend down and pet Alice’s head, folding back her ears.  

“Bun-buneary!”  Alice shouted, doing really quick and uneven swipes to display her awesomeness.

“Ho-ho.  Very good, but try… just a little bit slower,” she whispered, getting up to accept her Honedge.  “Like…”

The Pokemon must have been talking, and Rylee likely heard from the Sword Pokemon that they were standing at the edge of the house because she stiffened and turned around; Rhea felt a bit bad when her cheeks flushed and she cleared her throat.

“Yo!”  Lori greeted, holding up a hand.  “Cool hobby.  Honedge swinging a typical morning thing?”

“Ahem…  How long have you been standing there?”

“Not that long,” Rhea returned, walking forward with teammates.  “Hello, Pikachu.”

“Pika-pi!  Pi-pi-pi!”

Rhea giggled as he began making quick jabs and feints with his stick, causing the other Pokemon to clap and cheer.  “I knew a Master Bug-Type specialist that has also trained in kendo.  Master Samurai.  Do you know him?”

She wasn’t quite sure why the girl would be embarrassed about the practice—it’s not like she’d be flustered having people see her taking care of all the plants in her house or going out hiking, yet Rylee sounded a bit flustered going over the topic.

“No, uh… only a few online videos.  So… you’re here to help with the nursery?”

“Nursery?”  Lori asked.  “Uh, I thought we were going to be helping in the fields?”

Rylee sighed, seemingly attempting to hide her flustered cadence with exasperation.  “Ash didn’t tell you anything, huh?  Typical.  We have a lot of Pokemon that require food, and they have a habit of going to dangerous areas if they’re not watched.”

“Makes sense,” Rhea chuckled, crossing her arms and seeing a lot of the baby Pokemon running after Alice as she showed off her speed.  “I think this could be fun.  We can come up with a lot of games—Alice loves games, heh, as you can see.”

“She also hates to lose,” Amira noted with a sad smile.  “We have to make it fun for the rest of the teams, so why not allow her to be the captain of one and Pikachu the other.”

“Pika-pi-pika,” the electric rat nodded.

Lori got out her phone and started playing some music.  “We can have a dance party, too!”

“That works,” Rylee whispered, clearly trying to dodge anything to do with her kendo; Rhea just wanted to learn more about why she found it so interesting.  “We will need to split up, though.”

“Why?”  Lori asked, pausing her tunes.  “Hold up…  How many nurseries are in this place?”

“Uh, there’s a few…  But, well…”  Rylee held up two fingers.  “Two of our typical workers at the other nursery locations called in sick, so, if two of you could help cover those locations?  I’ll show you where they are and check in when I get a chance…  Uh, what are your names?”

“I’m Rhea,” she smiled, holding out a hand.  “I guess I can handle this one since Alice seems to be starting games already.”

“Fine by me,” she said, shaking it; the girl had quite a few calluses, showing she worked hard at her hobby.  “Catch you in a bit.”

“I’m Amira.”


Rhea watched them leave, finding her elbow behind her back before turning around to see her companions’ Pokemon run after them.  She stared at the hovering Honedge, and he stared back, Pikachu and Alice doing their typical hand-bumping game to decide who would pick the field side in the tag-war game.

“Umm.  Glad to be working with you.”


Breathing in and out, her gaze shifted to the two groups that were forming—naturally, Mya took Pikachu’s team in the game of tag—and, after a second, they were off.

Alice chose the left part of the small field behind the house, having a rather confident-looking Cleffa near the back that acted as a jailor, while Mya’s imposing figure sat at the tail-end of Pikachu’s side.

Her bunny dashed after Pikachu, as the electric rate sent some kind of electric bolt that split into a wave to zone the fast Buneary, and Alice grabbed a nearby Igglybuff, tossing her out of the paralytic pulse.

It was a zig-zag across the field, utter chaos abounding as Rhea smiled and observed; weak Moves flying back and forth, she wondered if this was okay because the backyard was kind of getting a little messy.

Alice raced after Pikachu, his tail wagging left and right in a taunting way that pushed her Buneary to go faster; they ran up the dais and wall, transferring to the rafters, and Alice was forced to evade Pikachu’s reverse leap, somehow creating an electrostatic jump pad midair.

The Buneary dove under his acrobatic slap, knees sliding across the well-polished floor before using the corner to retreat as the electric rat pursued, sending weak electrostatic balls that curved to follow Alice—she loved it.

Of course, the end result was all of Alice’s child teammates getting left to the terror of the walking calamity that was Mya, chasing screaming and laughing babies around the field before tossing them back for her own teammates to haul to jail.

In the end, Pikachu delivered a rather sound, areal twist tail bonk to Alice’s open-mouthed horror, unable to dodge the final strike—round one, Pikachu and Mya!

Eyes continuing to wander, she grew a bit curious about what she assumed was a backyard training dojo, similar to what the Martial Artists used, and noticed a wooden practice sword similar to what she’d seen in the history books.

A half-smile lifted her lips upon shifting over to the wooden dais to examine the left-out item; it had to be Rylee’s, and it brought her mind back to the eccentric Bug Master.  Samurai had long abandoned his name, vowing to bring back the noble tradition of the past to face all challengers with honor.

Honedge watched her carefully, but Rhea knew better than to touch someone else’s things, especially something that seemed so precious by its use.

The thing that cracked Rhea up was Samurai’s Everstone-given Metapod, who he claimed was the strongest in the world, having every Ability, and made multiple trips into the Dream World, obtaining untapped, unimaginable powers of the highly adaptable Bug-Type.

He certainly was a character whenever they had Master parties, boasting his invincible Cocoon Pokemon; everyone else thought he was kind of crazy to not evolve the Pokemon to Mega, but he had his trusty and mighty Syncro-Burst.

Then again, people also said the same thing to Ash, Red, Yellow, and Chase about their own Pikachu, and look how incredibly powerful they were.  Rhea had grown up in a world rife with the out-of-the-ordinary, and she was part of that herself.

Breathing out a soft sigh, she got up and went to her Pokemon, asking if the baby Azurills wanted to try to play hit the human with water; naturally, the mischievous children jumped at the opportunity to soak a human.

Honedge watched her carefully as she moved to the place his Trainer had been and closed her eyes, calming her breaths and closing her eyes; focusing her mind’s eye, she let the pulses of Aura each Pokemon released pass through her as they waited for her thumbs up to start the barrage.

“Huu-haaa.  Huu-haaa.”

In… out…  Remove sound, touch, smell, noise, taste…  Feel the spiritual vibrations that echo through the atmosphere.

It first came with a sixth sense, knowing others were around her without knowing exactly where, yet with every breath, a clearer picture formed until she could see all the little Auras in a short, 5-meter radius.

The thumping of her own heart was the only thing left, slowing bit by bit; she gave the signal when the last beat hit her ears, and the sparkling illumination of the Pokemon energies welled up within the babies’ Auras.

She drifted to the side, bending and swaying to the predicted, thin jets of water, in a total state of serenity that Ash had helped her to understand over the past few days.  Unlike the ball exercise, where she had to predict where the sightless object would be based on others’ Aura movement, with this, she felt like a flowing brook, smoothly dancing around the Pokemon attacks.

It was dazzling, seeing in a 360-degree angle—if in a limited range—able to follow every string of water that arched within her perceptive field; she was in a dream, her body swaying to an unheard melody that directed her in a way to evade the simple jets.

Rhea wasn’t sure how long she spun around to the Auras’ pulses, yet, when she opened her eyes, all the baby Pokemon were watching her, and she almost tripped upon seeing Rylee studying her from the side of the house.

“O-Oh!  Heh, uh…  I suppose we’ve traded places,” she laughed, cheeks flushing a little and now understanding what it was like on the flip side.  “I was just doing a little…”

“You can use Aura?”  Rylee mumbled in disbelief, short-clipped fingernails digging into her palm.  “You were using Aura.  Weren’t you?  You were sensing where they’d attack…”

“Yeah… I’m still not very good,” Rhea rambled, smiling, cheeks rosy as she tried to explain herself.  “It takes me a lot of time to get into the swing of it, and way easier to do standing still.”

Rylee’s mouth became a line, glaring at her before growling, “You can’t be Bronze-tier.”

“Uh.  Excuse me?”  Eyebrows coming together, she glanced at Alice and Mya, who were trying to decipher their conversation.  “I know it’s a bit unusual, but…”

“No.  You can’t be.  I’ve been trying to sense Aura since I was ten…  Ash tried to teach me once, too.  He said I’m on the right track, but… but that’s way too advanced for anyone that’s not at least a Master.”

Rhea forced a smile and shrugged.  “Eh-heh.  I mean, my dad did start me out when I was five, and I’ve been able to sense Pokemon pressure since like… twelve?  It’s harder with weaker Pokemon, but Ash has really helped me bridge that over the last few days.”



“Mmgm…  Battle me.”

“Ugh.”  Rhea puffed out a long stream of air, rubbing the back of her neck; this was not the type of reception she was expecting to get, and, judging by the Honedge’s Aura, he wasn’t exactly on their level.  “I suppose Alice could…”

“No, your Mawile,” Rylee heatedly interjected.

“Wha…  Mya, hold up…”  Alice crossed her arms, scowling at the Mawile as she puffed up her chest and licked her jowls, showing a wicked smile.

“Are you scared?”  Rylee asked.  “Amira said she was the first Pokemon you battled with, so she would be the strongest.  You can’t be Bronze-tier and use Aura.”

“Why are you suddenly mad at me?”  Rhea hissed, rubbing her arm.  “It’s not a big deal; almost everyone I know can use Aura to some degree.”

“Not… a big deal?  You can’t use Aura!  You were just trying to show off or something—did Ash put you up to this?”  she mumbled, bewildering her as her confrontational attitude increased her blood pressure.

“No!  Can we just talk…  You’re scaring the kids…”

“Just battle me!”

“What will that prove?”  Rhea questioned, truly lost with how them battling and Aura even connected.  “Look… Mya could hurt your Pokemon.”

“Is that what your Aura sense tells you?”  she challenged.


“You’re Muking lying!”

Biting her lower lip, Rhea threw her hands in the air, seeing Pikachu’s sad expression, yet he let it go on for some reason.  “Fine…  Alice, sorry…”

“Bun-bun…”  Her bunny huffed as she returned to her pokeball for Nova to exit, having more of the attitude to help bustle the baby Pokemon off to the side.

“Pew-pew…  Pwe?”



By the interaction, Rhea got that Pikachu felt like this was something they had to play out, and so she stepped away, crossing her arms and frowning at Rylee as her Honedge came between them.

“If you do have Aura, then you’ll be able to predict Knight’s attack!”

What kind of logic is that?  Maybe if he was attacking me, but I guess she doesn’t want to go that far?  Mya… don’t put a lot of power into it—let me give you the amount.

“Mawile!  Maw-maw.”

Rhea scratched her temple as the Honedge flickered with shadows, showing Rylee had never been in an actual battle or how it worked—they hadn’t even said start—but it didn’t matter.

Mya…  Shadow Punch.

Darkness enveloped Mya, and she appeared behind the Ghost Pokemon, her black fist driving it to the ground and shattering its energy matrix in a single blow, cracking the walking stone he landed on.

Silence followed as Rylee’s eyes defocused, clearly not realizing what had just happened.

“Haaa.  We should probably go to the…”

“I knew it…”  Rylee walked over to her Pokemon and lifted him up, still glaring at her.  “You aren’t Bronze-tier.  You lied.”

“Huh?!  I can show you my Trainer Card!  Why are you so pissed at me…  I didn’t do anything to you…  I just wanted to be friends.  Ugh…”

“I’m going to the Center…  Watch the babies.”

She stormed off, face red with anger that Rhea couldn’t understand.

“Pika-pi…”  the electric rat sighed, motioning that he’d go after her.

Breathing out her stress, she walked to the dais to sit at the edge, suddenly depressed.  What’s her deal?  Sure, Aura is cool—hard to master, though…  I’ve been practicing for over twelve years!  It’s not something an argument should be started over.  Maybe she isn’t a good fit for Cami and Jay.

She tried to calm down over the next hour, sending a heated text to Ash about the incident; he returned it, saying he’d talk to her, but Rhea didn’t know how he could smooth things over.  Rylee snapped at her for basically nothing at all, and they’d held back to not hurt her Pokemon.

After another hour, Alice replaced Mya, and Rhea followed the baby Pokemon into the dojo to find their food; she wasn’t sure when she was supposed to feed them because the girl that was supposed to be guiding them had run off.

It had been such a great start to the day, and now it seemed utterly ruined.

Thirty more minutes and Rylee returned, Honedge held against her chest; she met Rhea’s gaze before walking to the dais to sit practically on the opposite side.  Ten minutes passed before she spoke.

“I’m sorry I lost my temper…”

Rhea’s hands tightened against her lap, and tears were starting to form in her eyes against her will; she didn’t want to get emotional, but it had come out of nowhere.  “Why did you snap at me—I didn’t do anything—and all I wanted to do was get to know you…  I thought the whole Samurai thing was cool.”

“Like I said…  I’m sorry…  It’s just…  Ugh!”

Rylee fell to her back to stare up at the bright sky, her silence bringing the sounds of chirping Pokemon and distant machines into the foreground.

“It’s…  Frustrating.”

“Uh-huh…  It doesn’t mean taking it out on me is going to do anything but make me frustrated, too.  Do you hate me now?”

“No…  I envy you,” she grumbled, turning her back to Rhea, staring at the fence surrounding their property.  “You grew up in a place where you could have everything you wanted?”

“Everything I wanted?!”  Rylee shifted again to look at her at the heat that entered Rhea’s voice.  “You don’t know anything about me—about my life—don’t think you do!  It’s… far from what everyone seems to think…  You have no idea how lonely I was… how trapped,” she sniffed.


Rhea turned her own back to the girl, rubbing away her tears as Alice shouted at the neon-blue-haired girl, tears coming to her own eyes as the Buneary connected with her heart, Nova sniffling a bit, too.

“Haaa…  I’ve tried to learn Aura to help Knight… but it’s really rough due to my genetics, Ash says.  I can…  He thinks everyone can.  It’s just… hard, and it’s not fair others can learn it so easily.”

“What makes you think it was easy?”  Rhea huffed, still drying her damp cheeks.  “Amazing girls like Amira and Lori can’t do it, either… but they’re so much better than me at so many other things.

“Amira has the most beautiful voice, not to mention she’s smart and classy.  Lori’s super outgoing and fun to hang out with… she can dance and lighten the mood, plus she has all this dark web stuff down.  Aura’s cool, but it’s not something you should start a fight over…  Samurai stuff is cool, too.”

Rylee puffed out a long stream of air, allowing a few more seconds to pass before speaking again.  “Knight’s previous Trainer dreamed of being a knight… heh, ironically, he grew out of that stage fast and didn’t really like losing to Pidgey with Knight, so…”

“He abandoned him?  That’s terrible…”  Rhea whispered, still hiding her puffy and red face.  “So, you’re trying to make his dream come true?”

“Kind of both our dreams…  I guess—it’s complicated…  Some of the local girls thought I was silly for liking Samurai Adventures.”

Catching the underlying tone, in translation, she was bullied for it.

“Samurai’s TV series?”

“Heh…  Yeah.  He was funny, but when things got serious, he always stood his ground and saved the day…  His Blind Aura Slash was always something I wanted to do, and seeing you just… just dodging everything… moving like him just…  I’m sorry.”

“Huu-haaa.”  She squeezed out a few more tears while pounding the deck with her fist; Rhea could feel her sincerity melting her heart.  “It still hurt that you just attacked me like that,” she mumbled, “but… I can start over if you promise not to snap like that again.”

Rising back up, she smiled over at her, seeing tears in the girl’s own eyes.

“S-Samurai aren’t supposed to cry…”

“Hehe.  That’s stupid.  Didn’t Samurai cry at the end of the 5th season?”

“You saw it?”  she asked, looking stunned.

“Eh-heh… I saw a meme about it, but my point still stands!”

“Haha.  I suppose it does… but that was a totally different scenario.  He lost his best friend and had to bring the evil Ronin, Master Beedrill, to justice.  I cried like… for three days straight after that episode…”  she choked, seemingly about to relive the experience.  “The soundtrack of Samurai Adventures was the best…”

“Hehe.  I’ll have to watch it sometime.  Umm…  Can you show me the practice swings you did earlier—how to do it properly?  I know, heh, Samurai got on Jason one time when he tried to mirror him…  Something about technique.”

Rylee gave her a watery-eyed, dubious look.  “You really know Samurai?”

“Yeah!  He stops off all the time in my village.  He’s a little weird, heh… and Metapod can be a bit of a ham at times with his String Shot, but in a good way.”

“Uh-huh?”  her lifted eyebrow asked her to continue.

“Well… heh, he likes to make random art with his silk before Samurai shows his skills and cuts it.  It’s generally of Metapod as some kind of hero, mirroring scenes in the show, I think.”

“That’s true!  I thought it was a rumor.”

“I swear on my life!”

“That’s so awesome…  I wish I could meet him.”

Rhea took out her phone.  “I can send him a Pikabook request to see if he’d be down to stop by.”

“For real?!  N-No…  I know he’s busy shooting the 7th season in Hollywood,” she flusteredly replied, smoothing back the few loose pieces of her bangs behind her ears.

An impish smile lifted Rhea’s lips.  “You totally want to meet him…  Let’s just send a little message…”

“No, wait!”

“Done!  Oh, let me get your number so I can forward it to you when he does reply.  It may be a day or two; his account is managed by someone else during weekends—don’t ask me why!”

“Eek…  I don’t want to annoy him,” she tentatively grumbled, scratching her neck.

“Bah!  He’s generally cool meeting fans, and it will give him something to brag to my dad about—‘your daughter watches my show!’ ”  she said, taking on a deeper voice that made Rylee laugh.

“Wha-heh.  B-But you don’t?!”

“Hehe.  Shh!  He’ll think I do since I messaged him, and he’s pestered me about watching it for years.  He’s funny like that.”

“Wow…  You do come from a totally different world.”

“Mmgh…  It has its perks… sometimes.  Sword lessons?”

“Eh-hehe.  Do you really want to try swinging around a stick all day… getting sweaty, and messing up your makeup?”

“I’m, heh, guessing that’s something other girls said to you?  Also, I don’t really wear that much makeup, so…”

“Oh?  Humble, I see.”

“Just a fact!”  Rhea laughed.

Rylee got up and began leaning left and right.  “It’s not bragging if it’s true, I guess.  Okay!  Step one, limber up.  Oh, and thank you, Rhea…  You and your Pokemon for watching the kids while I threw a tantrum.”

“Self-reflection!  I hear that’s pretty good,” Rhea grinned.  “Although, you’ll have to get Alice a treat for her to forgive you; she’s a little bit of a stinker.”


Rhea gave a helpless shrug.  “Don’t deny it!”

“Bun…  Bun-bun…”

“Ice cream?”

She nodded.

“Heh.  Thought so.”

Rylee laughed with her, going into their indoor freezer to pull out a big tub of the desert, yet, to Alice’s disappointment, the shares were only a single scoop between all the excited baby Pokemon—that included her, but Rhea couldn’t compare her to these egglings—she was so grown up and mature.

The hours of the day passed, and Rhea was surprised at how earnest and hardworking Rylee was; she had a bit of a temper, for sure, but the girl was quick to put any bad feelings behind her, which Rhea liked.

She was very defensive about Knight, and Speedo—her Slowpoke—had a rather tragic story about being left in Power Dam; his Bronze-tier Trainer had snuck away from her party one night to skinny dip with some boy they’d battled earlier, only for the pair to be swept below the deceptive waters and drowned.

Speedo walked the entire way to the shores and found his Trainer’s body, staying with it until the Rangers discovered them; he felt like he’d failed her, and it had taken some years for Rylee to convince him that he could be bonded with another Trainer—thathe wasn’t to blame.

Each of the Pokemon around them had similar tragic stories regarding their Trainers, some heinous, and others due to their Trainer’s spirit being forcefully snatched from them by death.  It was hard to think of which was worse, the sudden shattering of their world or the slow fracture of the bond they shared with their Trainers until they were abandoned on the side of the road, forced to separate by their Trainer destroying their pokeball.

The whiplash Rhea felt from their earlier conflict faded the more she got to know Rylee and how compassionate she was; she’d worked with and supported hundreds of Pokemon, successfully seeing them return back to the wild.  True, she had her own insecurities, but she was self-aware of them and tried to make up for the incident.

When 7 p.m. came around, Rhea had gotten the swing of the basic technique Rylee taught her, shocking the girl at how swiftly she picked it up; of course, given whatever her mother had done to her, Rhea figured she absolutely had advantages, yet there wasn’t anything she could do with how she was born.

When Jade privately texted her, asking what she thought about Rylee, Rhea had to think about how to respond; the chat Jay and Cami had with her were short, and they were going to chat a few more times throughout the week before she decided to join, but there seemed to be a connection drawn, because—to Rhea’s surprise—Cami was also a fan of Samurai Adventures.

7:46 p.m. – Rhea:  She comes with some edges but has a heart of gold; she really cares about Pokemon, and so long as she doesn’t feel judged, I think she’d be a great fit.  Also…  Help her understand the in and outs of Battling because she needs help.

7:49 p.m. – Jade:  Haha!  Will do.  My sister’s so hyped!  Thanks for everything you’ve done for me, Rhea.  Really!

7:51 p.m. – Rhea:  What did I do?  You guys are already amazing!

7:52 p.m. – Jade:  Maybe we are!  BUT!  You helped all of us gain the confidence so that we believe we are.  Thanks for being our friend.

Nose burning, Rhea sniffed and coughed, confusing Amira and Lori as she waved goodbye to Rylee; they’d be returning to the road tomorrow.

7:53 p.m. – Rhea:  Thanks for being my friends!  You have no idea how much it means to me.  Hope you have a fun time on the train!”

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