1: Lori (Our Unovan Dark-Loving Trainer!)
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4:50 a.m. July 20th, Monday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)
Events: Rhea and the girls have decided to push toward Silver-tier instead of the Bronze Bracket they’re on. Our girl started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 41 Days (40 officially; 41 since getting Maya and Nova). Today is Lori’s and our group’s first Silver-tier Gym Battle against Sabrina, The Rookie Crusher, of all Gym Leaders!
Lori lay awake through the night, Miky draped over her stomach, with Terri nestled against her side as she stared up at the dark ceiling; Roxie and Gables kept silent company—they could sense what was coming—it hurt, but everything told her the heartbreaking truth would happen soon, no matter today’s results.
Shauntal rested beside her; aggravatingly, her spooky, dorky, and bookworm sister had been right—she couldn’t sleep. They’d had a talk about her concerns the day before with Ash when Amira and Lyra watched Terri; this wasn’t the way she wanted her journey to go, and part of the fault was hers.
I’ve made such a dumb mistake, Lori whispered to her Pokemon, rubbing Miky’s head, and the two offered her their support. Miky’s pulling away… and if he stays with us, he’ll continue to doubt himself. I can’t do anything right…
A tear fell down her cheek as she breathed out the hot stress in her chest; it hurt, but everything she was trying wasn’t working; it wasn’t up to her in the end.
She’d opened up to Rhea and Amira about her traumatic past and a bit about her doubts regarding the battle with Sabrina, yet there was always something else to eat her up inside—all she wanted to do was hit a club and dance away her emotions—she couldn’t do something that selfish, though.
What really struck her little Impidimp was the battle with their Wooloo friends—it was everything—Holly saving him time and time again, the amazing speed devil that was Alice, and returning to the battle against Misty with the laughter from the crowd.
It wasn’t as if anyone made fun of him or was down on him for his performance; they didn’t need to since Miky was watching and comparing.
Trying to strengthen him up by having him out all the time—the sacrifice Roxie and Gables made in allowing him to be out on his own—was crushing his little heart. He didn’t want to be the one holding his team back… something Lori resonated well with, something he picked up on.
Gables sent her a gentle spiritual nudge, asking if there was anything else they could do, and a melancholy smile crossed her face, sucking in air.
Like what Ash and my sister told me, the best thing we can do is give Miky a spectacular parting that he can be proud of… So, I’ve put everything into this battle. Miky will be able to hold his head high, having earned our first Silver Encrusted Badge against one of the hardest Gym Leaders in history. Miky will be the reason we make it to the League… He’ll set our foundation, and then we have to let him go…
Becoming restless, Lori got up at 4:56 a.m., before Amira even stirred, and her sister awoke like the ghost she was—never truly sleeping, Lori swore—and offered her an encouraging nod.
“Want me to watch Terri and Miky while you go take a shower?”
“Thanks, Shanny… I’m working through it,” she whispered, trying not to let the fire rise to her nose as she carefully transferred the imp and legendary to her sister’s arms. “Does it always hurt like this when you feel your spirits drifting apart?”
Shauntal stroked Miky’s head. “The fact he’s trying to hide how he feels from you tells you that he’s grown to love you… and sometimes, splitting up is the best thing for both parties—it’s because you love each other that you go your own ways…”
She reached over to rub her knees. “It’s never easy to walk away… Let him go. It will be alright. It’s going to hurt for a bit of time, but nothing heals the past like time. It’s just a part of growing as a Trainer, and yes… we are human and make mistakes. It’s your friends who you’ll need when the time comes, so let down those walls… It’ll be okay, Mallory. It will be okay.”
Getting up while trying not to cry since it would wake up the others, Lori nodded, unable to speak, and took her clothes that were laid out beside her bag to the bathroom, drawing her trembling bottom lips.
Entering the showers, she played a song from her phone in the corner and sat against the corner of the enclosed space, letting the hot water run down her as she let go of the tears so they wouldn’t crush her later that day. The music pulled the liquid from her eyes, letting the tingles and fire break through the cracks in her walls.
All the extra attention she’d given Miky had only served to make him feel more inadequate, and she was lost as to what she was supposed to do; Gables and Roxie tried their best to cheer him up and let him know he was a part of the team—it just wasn’t working for some reason—and it kept Muking with her head.
Ash said Miky loved the experience, but he wasn’t a battle-loving Pokemon; he was simply a big fish in a small Pokemon community, and it took this journey with her for him to understand this wasn’t the life he wanted—he opened up to Pikachu about it, and the part that hurt the most was that he hadn’t come to any of them.
She knew Ash was just trying to ease the torment he could see in her Aura, which was sweet, yet she knew the real reason. In a way, Miky felt betrayed that she hadn’t prepared him for the battle against Misty—the humiliation—and, if she were being honest with herself, she did take it too lightly compared to Amira.
The most painful part was that Miky didn’t even stir from her emotions, which showed how far he’d already pulled away from her; not only did she not prepare enough, but she’d transferred her ability to mask her emotions to the Impidimp.
Knowing Amira would likely get up soon, Lori prepared to exit the shower, staring at the wall as her two Pokemon comforted her; if he’d told Pikachu he didn’t really feel like continuing on with them would be the best decision for her, he’d already made his choice.
She couldn’t help feeling a little betrayed, as well, and she hated it; Lori grew up with people talking behind her back in school regarding her medical leaves from school, and never wanted to make someone feel like something was wrong with them.
We have to be strong! Lori internally repeated more for herself than Roxie or Gables; she was glad and sad that her Aura shield that Ash said she’d naturally cultivated to not worry her parents hadn’t been broken through by Rhea yet. I’ve done everything I can to prepare for this battle… We have to win.
Freshening up by the time the redhead came into the showers with a few early risers from the dojo, she hesitated before going out as Amira asked, “Do… you need some help developing a plan?”
Lori chuckled and shook her head, feeling the needles digging into her heart as her sister’s previous words hit her in the face with Gables’ jab to her spirit. “I came up with a… On second thought… Sure. Heh. Mind if I tell you what we did while you shower—I know some people are kind of skittish about talking to people while bathing.”
“That’s fine,” Amira responded, taking her second bikini in with her to swap out with the one she wore. “I figured you had something in the works since you did all that gambling. Haha. I was a little interested in…”
“Little Mew?! Are you in there—Mariah and you together?” Lyra called, bouncing in with her unbound brown locks. “Oh! Hey, Lori.”
“Mom. Chill,” the redhead ordered, much to a few of the women’s amusement. “You can sense our Aura, so sit tight and don’t think about coming in here!”
“Aww. Okay… I’ll wait my turn. Good luck, Lori; I know you’ll do wonderful! My little Mew loves to help in her own way, so don’t be too hard on her.”
“Mom, don’t be a Zubat…”
“Going!” she sang. “Conny’s making breakfast sandwiches.”
“I’m gone! I’m gone!”
Lori couldn’t help but laugh at their relationship. “Lyra really is always happy, isn’t she?”
Amira forced a groan. “She’s… special, I’ll say. Anyway, I apologize for the interruption,” she said, getting into motion to wash Amber, Serenity, and Mariah in her unusual habit of only using freezing water. “You were going to say?”
“Yeah… umm. As for my plan… Miky learned two new Moves from being out and all the help everyone did in powering him up: Fake Tears and Bulk Up.”
“That’s excellent,” Amira congratulated. “Heh. I know the cold water is hard, Mariah, but I promise it will feel wonderful once you get used to it… That’s it. It helps set the mood for the morning. Ahem. Sorry. What about the TMs you were going to buy—Protect?”
“Bingo!” Lori chimed. “I made about 60k credits through the gambling—I actually tried, heh, really hard to balance things to not get kicked out—and felt leaving with the 60k I earned would be too much.”
“Which is where Ash comes in,” Amira finished with a short chuckle. “You fed his losing streak and eventually gave up, looking frustrated when you lost half your earnings. Right?”
“Yup. 30k credits got me enough for what I saw on the cheapest TM website I could find in Saffron—most sell it for 50k, but I got it for 24k with a 40% overstock discount…”
Lori explained her plan, going over her new TM, and how she wanted to use it. Amira couldn’t believe the luck of finding such a powerful TM for that cheap and offered a few more points of advice that, as usual, was solid, yet, of course, the redhead discovered what she’d left unsaid.
Leaving the shower while squeezing the excess water out of her thick crimson locks, Amira’s critical stare told her she wasn’t happy. “You only had 31k total when you left that gambling trap… 24.5k for both TMs and 6k for Silver-tier Encrusted Badges… Lori, if you lose…”
“Hehe. I won’t!” she laughed, brushing it off. “I can always make money, remember? Gambling dens are my scene!”
Amira bit her lower lip and studied her. “Hmm. I get the feeling you’re not telling me everything…”
Discharging another sigh as Roxie jabbed her spirit, Lori closed her eyes and leaned against the wall. “Miky’s… going to head to Melanie’s when we’re done—it’s what he wants—Ash has already talked to her, and we talked yesterday that we’re going to have one big last party to send him off by beating this Gym and celebrating.”
The color drained from Amira’s face, making the emotions in Lori’s chest stir, and some of the women getting ready in the area paused to reflect on their own complex feelings about parting ways with Pokemon; it was this kind of reaction that Lori didn’t want. Still, she had to face it, or else she’d never shake what festered inside her heart.
Not saying anything in the following silence, Amira processed the information and then moved to hug her. “I know you love him… You’ve tried to make it work. You have Gables, Roxie, and Terri, but just know we’re here for whatever you need, too, Lori. It’s a solid plan… It’s solid.”
Chest fluttering a little, somehow she had a few more tears in her shriveled heart, and she returned the hug. “Thanks for that, Amira… I’m, heh, so scared I’ll mess this up again. How can I win when I feel like he’s pulled so far away from me? It’s only the Master—our Poke Ball that is keeping things functioning.”
“Lori… Share your heart with him, and I’m sure you’ll make it through today,” Amira encouraged, whispering in her ear. “It’ll be alright, and I’m sure—look who it is.”
Pulling away, she found Rhea standing in the doorway with all four of her Pokemon out like the amazing Trainer she was; she seemed to have connected the dots from what she’d heard, and Nova came over to nuzzle her leg, offering her own support.
“I’m sure it hurts a lot,” she said, breathing to control her own tears and giving a confused Lulu to Amira so she could hug her. “Miky’s tried hard and must be hurting, too—we’ve all seen him trying—whatever we can do to help. I know it’s not much, but know that we love you both.”
Lori sniffed and choked, feeling Roxie and Gables breaking down from the outpouring of love between their teammates. “You’re all… too nice. Thanks. I think it’ll be okay,” she said, repeating the propaganda of her sister. “It’ll be okay…”
Gathering herself, she thanked them again and cleaned up her cheeks, Lori told them she wanted some time to process things with Miky out in the city; they should save all their energy for after the battle because they were going to win.
Practically oozing empathy, the blonde super-trainer let her go with another teary hug, and she went to collect Miky and Terra to wander the city. As always, Shauntal wordlessly knew her plans, handing Terri to her as the little fighter woke up, fairly groggy after training so hard the previous day with the whirlwind of a Buneary and brick wall of a Mawile who shockingly ran the Kubfu out of energy.
Leaving the dojo with a few parting words to Christie and Lyra to walk the park path Shauntal and she had taken the previous day, Lori smiled down at her resting Legendary Victini-themed Wushu Pokemon in her arms before looking at Miky, trudging along beside her.
“Miky… I know it’s been a rough journey for both of us this last month.”
He forced an awkward grin, scratching the back of his head. “Imp-id-imp…”
“Hmm. I’m sure it is a lot different than Viridian Forest,” she said, swallowing the lump in her throat and dagger in her chest. “You liked some of the Pokemon around the Farmsteads?”
“Im-dimp,” he shrugged, his face turning into a frown while turning to the joggers and their Pokemon using the path they were on. “Impidimp…”
Gables and Roxie reached out with their spirits to offer their own words, and their emotions let her interpret him better than she’d been able to for over a week.
“I know you don’t hate being with us,” Lori mumbled, shifting a sleeping Terri to scratch her tingling arm. “Are we sad you want to go? Of course, but… we also know you want to try something else. I want to give you the best send-off, though,” she chuckled, trying not to let her voice break. “Sometimes Trainers and Pokemon don’t… connect, and it doesn’t mean we don’t like each other…”
Not going how she wanted, Mallory cleared her throat and paused to kneel to his level; he wouldn’t look at her, feeling as if he’d failed them, and she knew she couldn’t do anything to fix how she’d failed him for that—their defeat to Misty had been too much—and his sad and teary eyes remained on the dirt.
Lori reached out to rub his head, letting it sink in as reality; he was moving on, even if she didn’t want him to walk away. “It’ll be alright, Miky. Huu-haaa. We love you, no matter where you go, you’ll be in our hearts, and it’ll hurt for a bit of time… but it will be alright. Will you give me the chance to show you that you are more of a champion than you think… one more time before you go?”
He looked up at her and nodded, liquid falling down his cheeks as he said he’d trust her, and that was the real trouble; she’d betrayed his trust in putting him against Misty, and there was no repairing that, but at least she could help him leave on a positive note.
“Okay. We’ll win… I promise,” she choked, bringing him into her other arm to hug him against her chest. “Let’s give it our all one last time. I know you’ll find what you want to do after this—and it’ll be okay.”
Heart spilled, she went to the city to show Miky around Saffron and have a good morning one last time with her 500 credits, draining it to less than 70 on food, games, and giving Gables and Roxie 50 credits to find something to give him as a parting present. Terri didn’t quite understand what was happening or why Miky was going to be leaving but enjoyed all the activities they did.
Gables came out to tie a red ribbon around Miky’s neck that he bought—it was cheap, only 15 credits—but was what he most wanted to get his teammate, and the Impidimp seemed to like the fashion statement as it fluttered in the wind as he ran.
Roxie chose a simple red gem that made the Impidimp cry a little, and Lori learned through her Rockruff that he’d talked a lot to her about his awesome Sableye leader back in Viridian Forest, and she knew it would make him happy.
Miky hugged both of his teammates, thanking them for both the gifts and how much he loved being with them; Lori promised to give him hers when they won, exciting the Pokemon, and he hugged her, making her choke up when Roxie and Gables communicated that he was trying to say he did love her for his name and the experiences she’d given him.
Finally ready to face the truth, Lori let it settle in her heart and promised him to make this a battle he wouldn’t forget—in a good way—and if he trusted in her one last time, she’d give him something he could have to show his friends back in Viridian Forest.
He nodded, and she returned him to his Poke Ball; Terri jumped down to walk beside her, big eyes taking in the colossal size of the city. Lori wanted to put a lot of love into her new baby legendary, and she knew she’d need the fluffy fighter to help heal, but right now, she had to put everything into this match.
Making her way to the stadium near the city’s center, she looked down at her phone as she went through the unread messages throughout the day from more people than she thought would make contact.
7:23 a.m. – Mom: Ugh! I’m stuck at work with all the paperwork from the Plasma Muk. Shauntal’s been keeping me updated. Life sucks, and nothing hurts more than a bond breaking down… for both parties. Let me know, and I’ll kidnap Will to have him teleport me down if you ever need a way to break into a party, but I’m sure Cass will have you covered there. I love you, Lori. You’re strong, but you’re allowed to be weak sometimes. Love, Mom.
7:45 a.m. – Sam: Yo, Lori! We’re all watching. Sabrina?! Insane, girl! You’ve got more Steel than us. Miky’s going to kill it! Uh… it’s going to be Miky, right? We all think he’s gotta be your choice. He’s just the perfect fit! Can’t wait to see him shine!
7:56 a.m. – Len: You always were ballsy, Lori, but Sabrina, off the cuff? Heh. I’m sure it’s going to be a party. I know things are rough right now. Give me a call sometime tonight. Cool? I’d say good luck, but let’s be honest, you were never the type to lose twice in a row—gambling or not! Catch you soon.
7:56 a.m. – Rhea: We’ll be going into the stadium early since Amira’s afraid someone might steal our seats. Apparently, some group has been forging tickets, and it can cause a headache if we don’t get there to make sure things are sorted.
We’re a team. We’re here for you no matter what! I wanted to say I’m sorry I didn’t see how hard you were struggling (<– deleted that a few times wondering if I should say it). I know you’d hate me saying that since you don’t want me to blame myself, but we are a team, and it doesn’t matter. I’m here for you! I didn’t see it. It’s a fact. I can’t fix that. So, I’ll do better!
<3 Amira’s telling me to keep it short, but I can’t. I’m sorry… You’re my friend, and you’ve been through so much pain. I want to take some of that, like… Pain Split, or something… I want to share it and help you. Great. I’m crying again. Sorry. I suck… Haha. Gah! Just stop… Stop…
I probably shouldn’t write this when emotional. You’ll win! Amira didn’t tell me which secret weapon TM you spent a fortune on, but it was super-solid! We’ll prepare a big party for Miky tonight! Lyra is setting up a big party, she said. Aaahh! I said I would stop! Stopping! Send!
7:57 a.m. – Rhea: dksjoeks
7:57 a.m. – Rhea: Miss-click! Sorry!
7:59 a.m. – Amira: Rhea’s a hopeless mess, as usual. What are we going to do with her? I don’t think I need to say anything you haven’t told yourself. I’ve bet 5k on your win.
That last part made Lori choke up a laugh; it was probably the best thing the redhead could have told her, being so against betting and how tight she was on money—she trusted her.
8:11 a.m. – Shauntal: You have a very fun group, Lori. They’re good for you. I’m an expert at fighting Psychic Specialists—as you know from my many losses to Caitlin. I sent your plan to her—just an FYI—and she sent back this…
8:03 a.m. – Caity: Your sister is evil, is all I have to say. Sabrina will see through it, but she is facing the woman in Silver-tier? She can’t give her Pokemon too much advice, so… as the de facto ‘Psychic Legend’ as Alder likes to say… Sabrina is doomed, and she’ll love the forethought. Cheers.
Haha. Isn’t that something? I love Caity. I’m just surprised I found her not lost in the Dream World! Isn’t that something? Oh, I need to call her! And… she’s probably sleeping again. Typical. Bottoms up, as Dad says, Sis! Love from your big sister! I’ll be crashing the party in the ceiling; hope Sabrina doesn’t mind!
She rolled her eyes; it was so typical of her unpredictable ghost-fanatic sister to take her plan to the strongest Psychic in the world—and probably the only one who was Sabrina’s superior. The last two messages hit her the most, though.
9:07 a.m. – Cass: Hey, Sis! So, guess what? I already took a flight to Saffron! Tonight—after whatever you have going on—we’re really going dancing! I know you haven’t been clubbing for over a month, and that KILLS me inside! It’s like you’re not even my sister! Also, the whole Cerulean thing was NOT what I’m talking about. Also, help me ambush Shanny! We’ll get her dancing this time! Oh. And turn that uptight priss of a Psychic to Muk! Love you!
9:21 a.m. – Dad: Shauntal’s been doing her part in being the family spy, as you figured, I’m sure. Has she roped you into a two-hour discussion on her next book? She won’t stop bouncing ideas off me, but she does know how to puff me up with her characters. As we say…
When no one cries, it wasn’t love.
When one cries, it was love.
When both cry, it is love…
Bottoms up, (dance in your case) let’s forget tonight; it’s never easy to walk away, but let him go… it will be alright.
Lori wanted to curse at how many people were saying it would be okay, but it touched her every time she heard it. She wanted to tremble and hide—but all the words and support brought her closer to the Gym.
She couldn’t fail him—not again—and the pressure wouldn’t ease; her bottom lip trembled when she felt Miky draw a little closer, tears falling from his own eyes when reading her father’s message.
Sometimes, things just didn’t work out, despite how they felt about each other, their paths through life had split, and that was alright. Standing before the Gym, she breathed out a sigh and smiled.
Give me one last battle to end your career on a high note, Miky… It’ll be okay.
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