A dark gray sky rumbled above what seemed to be a palace made entirely out of ice, a Froslass and a Vileplume standing on top of the castle.
“Polaris…it’s time to put an end to you and your villainous ways!” the Vileplume declared, pointing at the Froslass. “Give up now, and we don’t have to fight!”
Polaris chuckled, raising a hand to her mouth. “Ohohoho…you are really quite an idiot, aren’t you, Violet? It’s one thing to take on someone you have a type disadvantage against, it’s another to take them on all alone!”
Violet grit her teeth, looking at Polaris squarely in the eyes. “My team has nothing to do with this! It’s for their own safety they stay behind, anyways!” she argued.
“Oh? And is it for your own safety that you’re taking me on without anyone to help you?” Polaris asked, tilting her head with the ghost of a smile.
“I can handle you alone! Are you going to fight, or do you just want to talk?” Violet snapped.
Polaris grinned sharply. “Oh, I’m more than ready to fight. I hoped you’ve enjoyed your last moments, dear Violet!”
The sun rose up over Treasure Town, the numerous shop-keepers waking up and preparing for another day. A Bellossom was working away at restocking the Kecleon Bros’ store, humming to herself as she worked.
“Hey! Cherry!” a rough voice called, prompting her to look to the front of the store. A Vigoroth and a Slowking stood at the entrance, the Vigoroth hopping from foot to foot with a grimace on its face.
“Oh! Team Slacker!” Cherry responded, running over to the front. “I’m sorry, I’m still restocking the shelves, we aren’t open yet…”
“Can you hurry up and restock, then??” Vigoroth asked. “We gotta set out on a mission! C’mon!!”
“Hey, calm down,” Slowking told his partner, resting a hand on his shoulder. “The dungeon will still be there in a few minutes.”
Vigoroth grunted, folding his arms and impatiently tapping his feet. “Fine, fine, just hurry up!!”
“Excuse me, you two,” spoke a new voice, followed by a Roserade with a blue ribbon around its neck entering the store. Cherry’s eyes lit up, a smile on her face.
“Rosemary!” she greeted, waving. “I haven’t seen you in a while!”
Rosemary nodded, smiling in return. “It’s wonderful to see you, Cherry. Mind if I help you restock?”
“Oh, sure! I just need to restock the Technical Machines and berries at this point,” Cherry answered, gesturing to the boxes.
Rosemary wasted no time in aiding her with restocking the store, Cherry silently thanking whichever mythical Pokemon sent her to help.
At last, the last of the store’s stock was on the shelves, and Cherry hurriedly handled Team Slacker’s business.
“Thank you! Please come again whenever you need anything!” she said, waving the two off before slumping over the counter.
“You okay?” Rosemary asked, stepping toward Cherry’s side.
“Guhh, I hate people who come in early and demand I hurry up with restocking,” Cherry responded, rubbing her eyes. “Retail is absolutely terrible…”
Rosemary patted her on her shoulder. “There, there. Actually…Cherry, I need to talk with you for a moment.”
Cherry raised her head, blinking in confusion. Rosemary folded her arms, looking away. “…have you seen your older sister at all, lately?”
“Violet? Hmm…” Cherry hummed in thought. “I recall her saying she might be gone for a while, she needed to find more Gummis for her shop. She didn’t specify where she was going, though…”
Rosemary slowly blinked, shifting her gaze to the floor. “…I see. I was hoping she’d still be around…”
“I’m sorry!” Cherry quickly apologized. “Were you planning on asking her on a date, or…”
“Oh, no no,” Rosemary said with a shake of her head, raising her eyes back up to Cherry. “There was something I had wanted to talk with her about, but it can wait until she returns. In any case…have a good day, Cherry.”
Rosemary left the store, Cherry watching her leave with a worried frown on her face.
Meanwhile, at the palace of ice, Polaris hummed as she floated, a small ball made out of ice with a black stripe running across its middle in her hands.
“Duke, dearie, I believe Violet’s made her last mistake,” she spoke, entering a room where a Crabominable was pouring over a book. It looked up, eyes wide as his gaze fell on the ball.
“Oh man! You caught her?” he asked, scuttling over to look at the ball.
“Indeed! Store this in a safe place, and take care not to hit the button in the center of it,” Polaris confirmed, handing the ball over to Duke. Duke just nodded, running away to store the ball while Polaris approached the north end of the room. Several similar balls were stored in a case of ice, all virtually identical to each other. She casually picked up one, tossing and turning it over.
“Duke, which one was this again?” she called.
Duke quickly scuttled back, glancing over Polaris’ shoulder. “Oh! That’s the Primeape that we broke out of jail that one time!”
“Hmm…where do you think would be a good place to set this one free?” she asked, a grin forming on her face.
“Uhh…I dunno, somewhere where there’d be a lot of Pokemon?” Duke suggested. “Maybe like Oran Forest? That’d cause a lotta trouble, right?”
“Exactly!” Polaris agreed, setting the ball in Duke’s claws. “Set that one loose for me, will you?”
Duke nodded, hurrying out of the castle and toward Oran Forest.
Rosemary sighed as she strolled into a base. It was sparsely decorated, with a few tables, some couches, and some odd pieces of machinery. The only Pokemon there were a Lurantis, an Eevee, and an Ambipom. The three were chatting, pausing when Rosemary entered the base.
“Did you find out where Violet is…?” the Lurantis asked, quietly.
Rosemary shook her head, leaning against a wall. “Her sister said that she’d be gone for a while, and she didn’t know when she’d be back. It might be a stretch to say, but…I think she went off to fight Polaris.”
The Eevee bristled, lashing her tail. “We told her not to go and fight alone! She can’t be acting like this, ice attacks will…Polaris will…”
“Maple…” the Ambipom whimpered, resting a hand on the Eevee’s shoulder. Maple sighed, tail drooping.
“Sorry, Dupli. I’m so frustrated with her, she’s acting like a child…” she muttered.
“Cress, where’s Sorrel and Lilac?” Rosemary asked, looking at the Lurantis.
“Oh! They’re out looking for missions and stuff at Wigglytuff’s Guild! They said they might be back–”
“Rosey, darling, we’re back~” hummed a soft voice. A Florges and a Lilligant strode into the base, the Lilligant holding a bunch of papers.
“Oh! Sorrel, Lilac, what did you find?” Rosemary asked, turning to face them.
“Unfortunately, mostly some item fetching missions. We were a bit too late to find any good criminal hunting ones,” the Florges admitted, the Lilligant setting the papers down on one of the tables.
“So we might not need to do anything big today?” Cress asked, tilting her head.
“We never know,” Maple spoke up, padding over to Sorrel and Lilac. “Stay vigilant, all of you, especially now that Violet’s MIA.”
“Um,” Dupli spoke up, wringing both sets of hands, “if you guys want, I could try to pretend to be Violet, it wouldn’t be any trouble…”
“No, Dupli, you don’t have to!” Lilac assured, shaking her head. “…though it would be interesting to see you look like Violet…”
Rosemary sighed, shoulders sagging. “Well, we might as well do one of these missions, I don’t want to stand here all day…”
Rosemary, Lilac, Sorrel, and Cress filed out of the base, Maple and Dupli seeing them off.
The sun was high in the sky as Cherry talked about TMs with a Miltank, holding up one for Rock Smash.
“This one will let you destroy walls in a dungeon, but it’s not recommended for use in a fight. Now, if you want a stronger move–”
Sirens suddenly cut through the air, interrupting Cherry. She quickly looked outside the store, watching several Magnemite and Magneton go running through town, red and blue lights flashing.
“Huh? What’s going on…?” Cherry murmured.
One of the Kecleon brothers scurried over, tiny wings flapping in a panic. “According to Lieutenant Magnemite, a criminal Primeape has been sighted in Oran Forest! It may try to reach town!” he explained, voice high-pitched.
“Wait, what?!” Cherry gasped, hurrying to the front of the store. Though the initial stream of Magnemite and Magneton was thinning out…one Magnemite seemed to slip away from the rest of the group, seemingly diving into a bush. Odd…why would a Magnemite go there?
“…I need to take my break now!” Cherry called to the Kecleon brothers, hurrying out of the store and following after the Magnemite. She ducked into the bush, stumbling to a halt. Just behind the bush was a cliff, a staircase built into it spiraling down towards…something. She couldn’t see what just yet. Carefully, Cherry stepped down the stairs, bracing herself against the cliff wall.
“Oran Forest?” Rosemary’s voice rang out, Cherry freezing in her tracks. “I had no idea…we’ll go right away, cadet.”
“Thank you, bzzt!” the Magnemite responded. “Other Explorer Teams may be dispatched, bzzzt! Do not be alarmed if you see other Pokemon, bzzt!”
“Of course,” Rosemary answered. Magnemite and Rosemary walked out of what was likely an alcove of some sort, the two stopping upon seeing Cherry halfway down the steps. Cherry yelped in surprise, shrinking in on herself.
“I-I’m sorry, I was just…I didn’t mean to eavesdrop…” she apologized.
“No, no, Cherry, it’s okay!” Rosemary quickly assured. “We just…well, I didn’t think we’d run into you like this, but…”
Three other Pokemon stepped out behind Rosemary: a Lilligant, a Florges, and a Lurantis. They looked at Cherry in confusion, Cherry returning the confused looks.
“Rosemary? Who are these people?” she asked.
“This is Lilac, Sorrel, and Cress. We are, technically, an exploration group under the name Magical Leaf, but…well, there’s too much to explain right now. Cherry…please come with us to Oran Forest,” Rosemary asked.
“W-What? Why?” Cherry questioned.
“We need help. We’re down to four members with Violet going missing,” Cress spoke up.
“Dearie, we won’t pressure you to join us,” Sorrel quickly cut in. “But…your sister was part of our group. We need your help for this mission alone, and then you can be done with us.”
Cherry hesitated before nodding. “O…Okay. I’ll go with you guys to Oran Forest.”
Rosemary sighed in relief, holding a hand to her chest. “Okay, then let’s go!”
Cherry could hear the cries of Pokemon as she followed Rosemary and the Magnemite deep into Oran Forest. Once in a while, a Pokemon like a Starly or a Wurmple would run past the group, expressions of terror on their faces.
“A-Are we going to be okay? All these Pokemon are running away…” Cherry asked Rosemary.
“We will, with your help,” Rosemary assured. “However, we might…need you and Cadet to stand back for a moment before we fight the Primeape.”
Cherry just nodded, not wanting to pry further. The group eventually reached a clearing in the forest, the Primaeape holding a Caterpie by the neck.
“Drop that Caterpie!” Rosemary shouted, firing off a Magical Leaf. The attack hit Primeape’s fist, prompting him to react in shock and drop the Caterpie. It took off running as fast as it could, disappearing into the bushes.
“Ed the Primeape, you are under arrest!” the Magnemite declared. “You are wanted for several counts of robbery!”
Ed snorted, rolling his eyes. “Oh? And what are you gonna do about it?” he questioned. “You can’t do anything to me, pipsqueak!”
“They might not be able to do anything, but we can!” Rosemary declared, stepping forward. “If you come with us peacefully, no one has to get hurt today.”
Ed burst out laughing. “Are you serious? I’m out of prison, and no one’s gonna take me back!” he declared.
Rosemary huffed, taking out some sort of colored stone. Lilac, Sorrel, and Cress followed suit.
“Girls, it’s time to dress up!” Rosemary declared, holding up the stone.
Pillars of light enshrouded her, Lilac, Sorrel, and Cress, and Cherry had to cover her eyes. When she could open them again…they were now dressed in colorful uniforms. Rosemary was dressed in a vibrant blue, a grin on her face.
“We are Magical Leaf!” she declared. “By the power of nature, we’ll put an end to you and your destructive ways!”
Ed growled, simply charging at the group with his fists swinging. “I don’t care! I’ll use Brick Break until none of you are left standing!!”
“Sorry, dear Ed, but you won’t knock us down that easily!” Sorrel declared, now decked out in purple. She waved her arms, a pink aura forming around the group. “Fairy Shield~!”
Ed’s fist collided with Rosemary’s, and she simply smiled. “Oh? Was that meant to be a Brick Break? I barely felt it!”
Ed stumbled back, eyes wide. “What the…?!”
“Now, take this! Body Slam!” Rosemary shouted, throwing herself at Ed and colliding hard with him. He snarled, stepping back and looking around. A red-dressed Cress took the opportunity to leap at him, a blade glowing bright purple.
“Poison Jab,” she said, striking him in the back. Ed shrieked, whirling to punch Cress.
“You little…I’m going to pound you into paste!!” he declared.
“Energy Ball!” a yellow-clad Lilac shouted, striking Ed in the back as well. He stumbled forward, wheezing in pain.
“Alright, now Violet, move in for the final blow!” Rosemary called, turning around. She froze, eyes widening, and Cherry raised a hand to her mouth.
“Rose, he’s getting back up!” Lilac warned as Ed started to push himself up. Cherry darted forward, closing her eyes tight as her flowers lit up.
Ed cried out as he was struck by dazzling rays of light, hitting the ground with a heavy thump. Cherry opened her eyes, seeing Ed lying on the ground.
“Is he…okay?” she asked, tentatively stepping near him.
“He’ll be fine, we only knocked him out,” Rosemary assured before facing Cadet. “Cadet?”
Cadet zoomed toward Ed, wrapping cuffs around his arms and legs. “I will contact Chief Magnezone to retrieve him ASAP. Thank you for your help in arresting him, Team Magical Leaf!”
“You’re welcome,” Sorrel answered, smiling. “Let him know we’re always willing to help if we must.”
In another flash of light, the outfits on Rosemary, Sorrel, Lilac, and Cress disappeared. Rosemary yawned loudly. “Oof…transforming like that always takes a toll out of me…”
“We should head back,” Lilac piped up. “We gotta report to Maple and Dupli.”
Rosemary nodded, turning to face Cherry. “Cherry…I can’t thank you enough for helping us. I forgot for a moment that Violet was gone…do you mind coming with us back to our base?”
“Of…Of course!” Cherry responded, nodding firmly.
The group proceeded back to Treasure Town, Cadet waiting by the unconscious Ed.
At Rosemary’s base waited an Eevee and an Ambipom, the Eevee’s tail wagging as she smiled.
“Well done, girls!” she praised. “I’m proud of you all!”
“Thank you, Maple,” Rosemary thanked, leaning against a wall. “We didn’t get too badly hurt, but…we wound up dragging Violet’s sister with us into the fight.”
Cherry took a nervous step forward, waving at Maple and the Ambipom. “Hi, there…”
Maple stepped toward Cherry, tilting her head. “So you’re Violet’s sister? Well, it’s very nice to meet you! I’m Professor Maple, on record I technically lead Magical Leaf but Violet and Rosemary run the show.”
She hesitated, ears drooping. “Well…before Violet disappeared, anyways. Did she ever tell you about us?”
Cherry shook her head. “I always thought she sold Gummis for her shop. She never mentioned any of you…”
Maple sighed, ears standing up straight again. “Violet has a good heart, but…she seems insistent on this whole ‘Keep everything a secret no matter what’ thing regarding us. I can’t tell you why for the life of me,” she said.
“I’m…I’m Dupli!” the Ambipom spoke up, a stutter in their voice. “I help Professor Maple in the lab!”
“I’m Sorrel, I handle support in battle. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Cherry~” Sorrel explained.
“My name is Lilac. I kinda help do most of the damage in a fight,” Lilac said. “Nice to meet you!”
“Call me Cress,” Cress greeted. “I joined the group last month. It’s nice to meet you.”
Cherry nodded in turn to each of the Pokemon. “I’m Cherry, Violet’s younger sister. I work at the Kecleon Brother’s store. It’s nice to meet you all!”
“Now that introductions are out of the way…” Lilac began before flopping down on a couch, closing her eyes. “I’m going to sleep for like…five hours. Wake me up when I’m needed.”
“Sleep well, Lilac,” Rosemary responded.
“So what happens now?” Cherry asked, folding her hands together. “Do you…want me to join your group?”
“Only if you want to,” Rosemary replied. “We don’t force anyone to join. We could use your help, yes, but it’s up to you.”
Cherry paused, looking at the ground for a minute. Eventually, she raised her head, a determined expression on her face. “…I want to join Magical Leaf. I want to find Violet and bring her home, and ask her why she kept all this a secret from me.”
Rosemary smiled gently. “Then welcome to Magical Leaf, Cherry.”