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Nuzlocke: Dimensional Destruction

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{Monua 24th, 4:35 pm}

{Royal Suite, S. S. Nerida, Canalave City}

In the centuries since the introduction of air flight, it had never gotten particularly popular as a method of commercial travel, due largely to the danger—the sky belonged to too many powerful flighted Pokémon, who, even with the Gab, were difficult to negotiate flight paths and territories with. Particularly dangerous were Hydreigon, dragons which were only outmatched by space flight in terms of altitude. Flight was a popular form of low-altitude in-country travel, when teleportation wasn’t an option, but for getting between countries, travellers were mostly content with ferries and cruise ships. Any given ship was as likely to be carrying businesspeople or Interpol contingents as tourists and holidaymakers—or, in this case, a Head Ranger of Kanto and League Champion of Hoenn.

“You know, if we had waited another week, we could have gotten a regular cruiser that we could have taken our Pokémon on,” Saylee said, wrapping her soft yellow scarf around her neck. With her right arm freshly out of its sling, getting dressed was easier, but she still couldn’t lift it very high or use her fingers very well yet.

“Yeah, but that’d be a week later that we’d be on Archie’s trail, and we’re already a week behind him,” Key pointed out, pinning her eight badges and Champion’s ribbon inside of her pink coat. “We can port our Pokémon in once we get to Canalave, anyway.”

“Yeah… but fair warning, no matter how much of a rush we’re in, if we don’t stop in to visit Mum and Byron when we get there, there’ll be hell to pay,” Saylee warned, pinning her Draconic emblem inside of her dark blue longcoat. It went down to her calves, unlike Key’s, which only went to her thighs. “And not from me. Are you sure you’re going to be okay with jeans and a coat? Are you at least going to put a jumper on under your coat?”

“I have a scarf, too,” Key said, picking up a long white scarf. “Do you think I’ll need it? It’s only Monua.”

“You will need it,” Saylee assured her. “Sinnoh gets way colder than Hoenn. Do you even know what cold feels like in Hoenn?”

“Like that feeling when you turn the air conditioning up too high, right?” Key suggested, staring into the mirror and adjusting her Beautifly hairpin repeatedly.

Saylee gave the pin a Look but didn’t comment, instead going to grab her bag and turning the screen display to the camera on the front of the ship so she could view Canalave City approaching. “Have you got all of your stuff together?”

“Damn, no time for a last soak in the hot tub,” Key sighed, watching Canalave grow closer in the display. “So, where’s your mom live?”

“It’s easy to find,” Saylee promised. “…I think. I’ve only actually been here once, for the actual wedding…”

{Monua 24th, 6:00 pm}

{Canalave Gym, Canalave City}

“Saylee!” Johanna said happily, hugging her daughter tightly. Saylee had seen her mother many times on video calls over the previous two years, but she looked so much more vibrant, with her hair now dark blue and a happy sparkle in her eyes. “How are you doing, sweetie?”

“I’m as good as ever, Mum,” Saylee promised.

“That bad?” Johanna said sympathetically. Saylee laughed. “So, is this the famous Key?” Johanna added, turning to smile at Key. “I’ve heard a lot about you, dear. You two come in and have some biscuits and tea.”

“Thank you very much, Mrs… um,” Key said, lost momentarily.

“My married name is Tougan, dear, but please, call me Johanna!” the older insisted, ushering them inside. “Ron’s out at the gym just now, taking on a challenger, but he’s been looking forward to you getting here!”

Saylee looked around curiously as they walked through the house, which she hadn’t seen since before her mother had moved in. The halls were actually decorated now, with some of Byron’s fossils in wall-suspended displays on the blue walls rather than lying about haphazardly on tables, and the kitchen had been redecorated from slate-grey to yellow. Pinned to the fridge were photos and giffies that Saylee recognized as ones she’d sent to her mother. She smiled at a giffie of her and Blue waving at the camera, then allowed herself to be steered into a seat at the small kitchen table. There was a plate of biscuits and poffin rolls in the middle.

“You guys’ll have to give me the grand tour when Byron gets back,” Saylee said, helping herself to a poffin. “How is it here?”

“You know, the people are lovely and food is so cheap!” her mother said happily, filling the teapot with boiling water. “I’ve gotten very good at baking those poffins. People buy them by the armload to feed to their Pokémon for contests!”

“Oooh, aren’t the contests here different from the ones in Hoenn?” Key asked, picking out a poffin. “What are they like?”

“Well, I haven’t seen the Hoenn contests, I’m afraid, so I can’t compare,” Johanna said, bringing over the tea and passing out cups, “but they’re beautiful. There’s a dress code, both for the trainers and their Pokémon, but the contest halls usually have boutiques where you can have outfits tailored for your Pokémon, and I…”

Saylee took over the job of refilling teacups while her mother chattered excitedly about the contests that she’d entered, basking in the brief mental holiday of thinking about something that was completely non-vital, non-fatal and fun.

They were onto their second pot of tea before the door behind Saylee burst open and an exuberant voice boomed, “They’re here! How are you, Saylee?”

“Hi, Byron,” Saylee said, getting up and accepting a boisterous hug from her stepfather. “How was the challenger?”

“Not living up to their potential,” Byron said, scratching his head. “Hey, is that oran tea I smell?” He put his arm around Johanna, gave her a kiss, then headed for the cupboard with the mugs to grab his. “So, is this your friend Key? We’ve heard a lot about you, kid. Didn’t so much get sucked into the weird stuff that happens around Saylee as jump in headfirst, eh?”

“You say that like it’s her fault,” Key objected.

“I didn’t say it happens because of her, I just said it happens around her…” Byron clarified. “Hey, no judgement, a lot of people’d be a lot worse off if it was happening around somebody else, y’know?”

“Well, there’s an element of choice in it,” Saylee sighed. “I choose not to walk away a lot.”

“Yes, but isn’t that what the geisha said was important about you, dear?” Johanna said, patting her daughter’s hand. “That you never just assume things are somebody else’s problem and walk away. That was why they chose you to protect Ethan and Silver, you remember, back when…” She glanced sidelong at Key.

“Key knows, Mum,” Saylee explained. “About Silver being an avatar. We’ll go visit him in Oreburgh the first chance we get.”

“You’d better, that kid misses you something awful,” Byron commented. “Not that he’d ever say a thing about it, of course, but you can tell he does. He keeps goin’ on about how he can’t wait to show off his new Leadership to you. Well, he’s still an apprentice, but…” He shook his head. “I’d’ve apprenticed him to take over this gym, but I don’t think he was up for that.”

“It’s not that he doesn’t like you, Byron,” Johanna assured her husband, squeezing his hand. “The opposite, I think. He gets embarrassed when people notice that he doesn’t hate them, and you know his feelings about his…” here her tone turned unusually acidic. “…his biological parents are still so complicated. But he calls every day to tell us how he’s doing. You just missed him by an hour, in fact. I’m sure he’ll be very excited to see you again.”

“Okay, my parents run an orphanage, so I’ve grown up around adopted and rehomed kids, so can I just put in that it’s awesome how you two treat Silver?” Key put in. “I mean, Saylee said he’s not actually blood related to either of you…”

“C’mon, what does that matter?” Byron laughed, giving Saylee a hug. “I scored two awesome kids when I got a kind, wonderful, beautiful wife, and they’re already big enough that I don’t have to babyproof all my tools, so that’s a bonus, eh?”

“What, you mean I’m not supposed to try and eat your power drills?” Saylee asked. Byron just laughed and grabbed a biscuit. “So listen, I totally need you guys to give me the grand tour of this place, but after that I really need to go port in my Pokémon from Hoenn… we’re not just here to visit, sadly. We’re on the trail of one of the people responsible for all that crap in Hoenn.”

Johanna and Byron exchanged worried looks. “I’m sorry, Saylee,” Johanna said, “I meant to tell you, but you left Hoenn so quickly and I assumed you’d be bringing your Pokémon in yourself after all that fuss getting into Hoenn and, well… Sinnoh’s been suffering horrible power outages for the past few days. The trans-country teleporters are down because there just isn’t the energy to power them. Human teleportation between towns is shut off, too, mainly because the power outages keep causing random porter blackouts and health and safety means they can’t risk having someone in mid-teleport when that happens. Item porting is still up, though.”

“We can’t get our Pokémon?” Key gasped.

“That’s not good,” Saylee underestimated with a frown. “I mean, human teleportation is no trouble, taking the country on foot is the best way to scour it for Archie anyway, but we can’t do that without our own Pokémon…”

“You can get from town to town safely using the Underground,” Byron pointed out. “Tell you what. We’ll show you around, and then I’ll take you ladies down to the police station to see if there’s any reports or sightings of your master criminal. You never know, they might find the reason for the power outages and have the porters back up any day now.”

{Monua 24th, 7:10 pm}

{Canalave Police, Canalave City}

“There haven’t been any… I don’t know, unusual thefts?” Saylee asked. The Sinnoh police’s photographs of Archie were clear enough and keyed into the facial recognition technology in their security camera network. They hadn’t picked up his face yet, though, and for Key’s sake, Saylee hoped they got to the Aqua Leader before the police did. Key seemed to believe that he could achieve redemption, and if he couldn’t… well, Saylee would quite like to get in at least one punch of her own first.

“Well, a rare water-type was stolen from Professor Rowan’s lab in Sandgem Town,” the officer behind the desk said, scrolling through her computer. “The only witness was one of his assistants, a thirteen-year-old boy named Lucas Hikari.”

“Did he describe the thief?” Key asked quickly.

“He only saw the thieves from a distance,” the police officer reported, “but there were two men… one with spiky hair and some kind of foreign bird, the other with some large, fast water-type and a frilly blue coat.”

“Do you think that could be him?” Key asked, looking at Saylee. “The frilly coat one? I mean, we know he was disguised as Juan, and the fast water-type could be that Sharpedo…”

“It’s a little vague, but he could fit that description,” Saylee said, “and we have no other leads, so we might as well check it out first thing tomorrow. I think we can get to Sandgem fairly quickly by the Underground if the trains are still running…”I hope it’s him, she thought. If this is a real lead on Archie, maybe we can get this done and out of the way before I have to start chasing down Galactic…