Interlude 1 Part 4: Inspiring a sister
“Come on, rookies! Your opponents wouldn’t go down by themselves” A Thyplosion shouted to the many young Pokémon in the combat practice area.
“Not if they’re just a bunch of puppets” Anna mumbled for herself.
They were practicing in honing their moves half of the afternoon after some theory in the morning, the boring part of the day. Her other teammates were doing the same thing in other parts. Given that Karla has her condition that she can only use the most basic moves, she spent less time in the practice and more in other types of training.
An hour later, they stopped and reviewed what they were lacking. In their case, for Valerian: he had some precise attacks, but he had to work in the power of them; for Jeff: the power of his moves was good, but he had to focus in what he was doing, instead of how much damage he would cause; but for Anna: “You have skills and discipline; I hope you don’t turn into your sister” The Thyplosion said.
She tensed from those words, but she did her best to hide her emotions, although her teammates noticed that. When they returned to their common room they found that Karla was reading about a book of medicinal herbs. They hopped up to their beds and rested. Anna had the head low emotionless, or so she believed, but her heart was burning like the sun.
“Man, how long do we have to keep smashing puppets?” Jeff asked. “I lost count of how many I’ve destroyed”
“You already know why we have to” Karla pointed.
“But you didn’t have to fight all the time”
“Well excuse me if my condition possesses a problem for you”
“Enough guys” Valerian intervened. “We’ve already talked about this; she’s training in her own way and what she can learn will help us”
“Hmpf, fine” Jeff just laid off.
“*Sigh* It’s been months since we were accepted” Valerian said after a while.
“The assumption of Jeff was correct after all” Karla said without raising her eyes from the book. “We’ve surely impressed them”
The events of those days were quite interesting from their perspective. First, they convinced Jeff’s parents to let them join the guild. The fundaments of Karla, the reasons of Valerian and Anna, and the insistence of Jeff combined were enough to let the Mudkip go.
Second, they passed two weeks practicing a little in the same city, since Jeff was left in the care of the Hypno after their parents met him as well as Valerian and Anna; in the same abandoned warehouse they’ve fought the thief.
Third, when they traveled to the guild city, the main nerve of all the guild’s activities in the Savitaran continent, the tension was something they couldn’t easily hide. Even if they prepared to at least cover the basics, they felt it was still not enough. The only ones who weren’t showing it were Karla, since she learned how to mask them better; and Jeff, given that he was going relaxed. The test they did weren’t easy for anybody of their age. In a way, the guild was showing them in what they were getting into.
So far, the tests involved in finding a certain object hidden somewhere in the city, stopping a raged Gabite and a few more. They managed to complete all of them in a reasonable time and reported back to an assigned evaluator. The results came in the afternoon posted in boards in the main plaza. They saw that they were in the media of the postulant teams that were accepted, enough for their relief.
Since then, they began their formation to become a strong team that could accomplish any mission assigned to them as well as to serve the people on their land as previous teams did it before them. However, that didn’t mean that they didn’t have complications along the way. Karla’s behavior wasn’t very helpful when it comes to interact with other teams. Jeff, on the other hand, was a bit problematic when it comes to something that he didn’t like to do: study; making his teammates to scold him. And in the case of Anna, her problem was family related.
“Anna, are you okay?” Valerian asked.
She shocked her head. “N-no, I’m fine” Her voice wasn’t agreed with her thought.
“You got angry with the last part the instructor said to you” Jeff commented. “What did he mean by that?”
“Your eyes deceive you” Karla said, looking to her. “It clearly means something, and it hurts you”
“I’m going to take air” Anna stood up and headed out.
“You could have said that smoother” Valerian commented.
Karla shrugged and kept reading.
Without warning, Jeff headed out as well. It took him a few minutes to find her at the roof of a store, her favorite place to hide when she didn’t feel right. He already knew how to climb up after watching her various times. He found her looking to the walls of the city while the sun was about to hide in the mountains. He approached to her side and looked to the walls as well.
“Want to let it go?” Jeff asked, surprising her.
“Jeff!? H-how did you get here?” Anna asked looking to him.
“Watching you, what else?”
“Anyone else knows?”
“Nope, just me; so, are you going to talk?”
“*Sigh* I just don’t feel in the mood”
“When you’re like that, you’re never in the mood”
She kept quiet for a while.
“Anna, the instructor mentioned that you wouldn’t be like your sister; why it affected you?”
No answer from her.
“We can stay here all the night and I won’t move until you tell me”
“You’re that persistent?”
“Equally as you”
She looked back to the walls and huffed. “This better stays between us”
“Don’t worry; I’ll keep my mouth shut”
After another moment of silence, she told what she was holding. The reality was she was part of pure bread Rockruff – Lycanroc family. Aside of her and her sister, she has two brothers older than them. The oldest one had evolved in a Midday form; the second one, in a Dusk form; and her sister, in the Midnight form.
Her midday brother was part of an elite guard in the Claytren kingdom, bounded by honor and tradition, very strict. Her dusk brother was less stressing, but discipline and focus were part on his area of expertise that it was the bureaucracy. But her midnight sister was an issue. In essence she was like Jeff, but much more complicated: she followed her own rules, had a tone of superiority that didn’t conceded with her actual experience. In short, she became a trouble maker.
As Anna told Jeff, her sister joined the guild with a very unbalanced team. They barely passed any test they were assigned to do, their relation was in the border of the disaster, and they caused quite a mess in the city some time ago. These and other things made that team one of the worst the guild had. To make things worse, no actual team wanted to take responsibility to complete their training, a normal process in the life of a team in that guild, after a few incidents.
So they were assigned to one of the few independent teams that worked with them as a way to recognize them as part of the guild. Most of the time those teams were given the most problematic cases to deal with, somehow as a way to disincentive them. The issue was that those who assigned them were not actually part of the guild; just administrators and some of them didn’t share the same principles as the guild does.
If that wasn’t enough, they put them with another team who were rivals with. And those teams were assigned to two of the most wanted former bandits and a hinolian. Anna suspected that it was some kind of revenge to them, since all other explanations didn’t make sense.
In any case, the team that took care of them had a complete nightmare in putting them together for at least half a year. Her sister didn’t mentioned all in the letters she sent only to her parents and her, but that team made them work in some dangerous missions, the ones they were specialized. The next couple of months, her rebel behavior was diminishing, as she was learning in the real hard way that teamwork not only was essential for the success of a mission, but for their survival as well.
The change was extremely difficult. Any other team would have given up on them, but they kept pressing, until the point that they were able to actually teach them a few tricks. Even so, they still had a long way to go, but they were making progress, progress that didn’t reach others ears.
“That’s why I’m so pissed” Anna said. “They know nothing about my sister now; just that she’s still a living disaster”
“And why you shouldn’t tell them? That’ll shut them up” Jeff suggested.
“With what? My sister is kilometers away from here”
“Then why I saw her arriving two weeks ago?”
“W-what? How did you know it was her?”
“You did a full description of her; I was hearing it while you were talking”
“A-and what is she doing here?”
“They supposed to tell us in two more days, but the anniversary of our guild is almost here; they called the teams to join in the celebration and get ready for some competition”
“How did you learn that?”
“Well, let’s just say… if you search it, you find it; I tend to do that when I have nothing else to do, a hobby”
“You’re scary sometimes, more than Karla”
“Not scary, I’m just bored”
“Can you check where she is?”
“Easy task, but should better see her when we’re free in those days, not before”
“Okay, okay… thanks”
“Why? Don’t teammates help each other?”
“That wasn’t happening with Karla a while ago”
“But I am right?”
“Maybe… We should go to dinner, it’s almost nighttime”
“Yeah, I was getting hungry anyway”
The next day, as Jeff promised, he found where Anna’s sister was staying. She, her team, the other team and the team in charge of them were near the Researchers’ main building. It was far but reachable. He also found a way to get there unnoticed. With that information, she waited two more days when the celebration of their anniversary would start. She was getting impatient and every hour felt like an eternity for her.
When the day came, Jeff helped her to get there early in the morning. Even in that hour, there were Pokémon walking in the streets. After some turns, sprints and climbs, they reached the apartment. Instead of knocking the door, they infiltrated using an opened window. Anna was sniffing the air near the doors, trying to get her sister’s scent. In the sixth door of the second floor, she found it.
She opened the door, hoping that she would see her sister, but instead, the apartment was empty.
“Where’s everyone?” She asked.
“Dunno, but there’s some stuff from them, look” Jeff pointed to a group bags.
She sniffed a little more and found the bag of her sister. It had some minor cuts and dirt stuck to it. ‘I guess they’ve been through a lot’ she thought.
“Maybe we should try in another opportunity” Jeff suggested.
“Hold up, let me put this first” Anna took a small letter from her neck fur and put it into the bag.
“Nice one, you came prepared”
“I don’t think prepared; I was thinking to give it to her face to face”
“Well, I hope you have the chance to meet her”
In compete silence they returned to their apartment. When the celebrations started, Anna was looking around, hoping that she could see her. So far, there was no sign of her; something that was strange for her, because she was the first one to enjoy those kinds of things at her fullest. ‘Where are you?’ she thought. Then she started to walk through the city, with Jeff following her at some distance behind.
Her search led them to the combat area where they were been practicing. Sneaking to it, she saw a Druddrigon, a midnight Lycanroc and a Togetic against a Heracross, a Mismagius and a Raichu. Near them, there were a Riolu, a Scyther and a Murkrow watching.
“Keep that left flank covered” The Scyther ordered with his blades crossed.
“Working on it” The Heracross said as he was charging another attack.
“I need some help here” The Raichu alerted when she was getting cut off.
“Guys!” The Togetic shouted as he was deep in trouble.
“Get back here!” The Druddrigon ordered to his teammates as he blocked an incoming attack.
“Sarah, you have a window now; use it” The Riolu ordered.
‘Wow, mi sister looks amazing’ Anna thought as she was watching the combat practice. However, something wasn’t right with her. She looked more distracted, but not as she was in her imagination. From her face, she deduced she was troubled by something. ‘What’s going on with her?’
In that distraction, the Heracross hit her like it was nothing, unbalancing her. The Murkrow halted the fight and told them to rest as the Riolu was approaching to her sister.
“Something wrong?” He asked.
“N-nothing; I was thinking on something, that’s all” She said.
“Hmm, we’ll go to vigilante’s tower after the sunset; there you can talk freely”
“Can you not use your Aura thing to see my emotions?”
“I don’t need to use it when I know you”
‘The vigilante’s tower’ Anna thought. She learned that the tower was built more than millennia ago and it was so tall that you could see the road reaching the mountains in the distance. In all its time, it suffered modifications, extensive reparations and few people in guard duties. The only way to get up without the help of a flier or using the stairs was a pulley system installed some years ago that could get anyone from the surface to the top.
“They’re going to that tower?” Jeff whispered.
“Ga-mpfff” Anna almost screamed if Jeff didn’t shut her muzzle and got her out. “Pff, what are you doing here?”
“At this point you don’t need an answer; so… are you going to follow them?”
“Yep, but I don’t know how we should get up there”
“That’s why we have our other teammates; Karla maybe knows how that whole thing works”
“I don’t want to involve them in this”
“It’s your family and this is your pretty good chance to talk to her; maybe Karla will have some issues, but she cannot deny you this, I’ll make sure of that”
“Don’t you think you’re getting into too much trouble?”
“Relax, trouble is my second name”
She rolled eyes, but smiled for the commentary. If there was something Jeff was good at was to make anybody smile by only being himself, even if sometimes he was being annoying. They returned to their room and explained what they were about to do. Valerian was relatively easy to convince, but Karla wasn’t interest of helping them, as Jeff expected to happen.
So to obtain her full cooperation, he took all the books from her and annoyed her until she would break. And for someone as stubborn as her, he didn’t go lightly. Finally she surrendered and accepted to help Anna.
At sunset, they arrived at the base of the tower. They waited at some distance from it, hidden in a wagon with a blanket on it. Minutes later, they saw the midnight Lycanroc and the Riolu going inside the tower. From what Karla suspected, the pulley system would take four minutes to ascend, being a little slow.
When they were sure the duo was at the very top, they entered the tower. Aside of the wooden platform they took, there was another one, given that some reparation materials were moved in one and the workers in the other. Anna stepped in and Karla instructed how they should manipulate it. The tension made her unaware of what was happening until she realized she was going up. Looking up, she deduced she was close to reach her destination. She felt she was shaking and she already knew the reason: she didn’t tell her that she joined the guild.
The moment the pulleys stopped, her heart was beating fast. ‘Okay, this is it’ she thought and began to move, slowly. There was a few stairs she had to climb up before reaching a door to the exterior. On her way, she saw it was opened. In complete silence, she approached to it, hiding in the left wall and peeked. She saw the Riolu sat at top of the small wall in the border and her sister, with arms crossed and looking to the distance. She heard them talking and it wasn’t a pleasant conversation.
“I just can’t” Sarah said. She sounded like she was afraid.
“Sarah, we’ve already talked about this; you’re ready now” The Riolu said.
“Y-Yeah, and the last time I said that to myself, you ended rescuing me with Jack from being a mashed Lycanroc; admit it, I’m a failure”
‘Failure? That’s something she never says to herself’ Anna thought worried.
“Different is better than failure” The Riolu pointed.
“No, it’s not” Her voice was starting to break. “You guys knew from the very start that we are nothing but a bad batch”
“And you started to improve yourselves”
“Tch, improve? All other teams around us are better than mine and the other one; they had time to strengthen their bonds and we started to realize it too late; accept it, we never meant to be in the guild”
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore; *sob* *sob* I only wanted… I only wanted to prove that I was strong, that I could handle by myself… reality is very cruel sometimes when it comes to teach you a lesson” She started to cry in silence.
The Riolu stopped talking, thinking how to approach to her better. Anna couldn’t believe what she was hearing. If there was something her sister would never accept was defeat. But now it would seem she was falling apart. Without thinking, Anna was approaching to them. She was not going to allow her sister to give up and she would make sure she would never do it.
“My sister would never give up; not even when everyone was against her” She said.
The Riolu and Sarah turned around, causing surprise in him and left her sister speechless. Anna only focused on her, with determination on her face.
“A-Anna?” Sarah asked in disbelief. “W-What are you doing here?”
“Seeing my sister again; or… that’s what I’ve expected”
She kept quiet and looked away with tears still in her eyes.
“Sis, this is not you; from what I remember, you never cared of the opinion of others”
“Maybe… because I didn’t want to hear anything”
Anna climbed up the small wall and sat. “What happened to you?”
“Well, I… I-I…”
“Sis, instead of fixing your mistakes, you let them take control over you”
“I wasn’t aware of them; our brothers were right all along and I didn’t listen to them”
“But you’re listening to them now; although that doesn’t mean that you have to completely change like they want”
She grabbed her head to force her to look to her eyes. Anna felt strange that she inverted the role of the older sister. “When I came here, I thought of seeing my reckless, brave, and strong sister; the one I’ve admired for years to tell me about her missions; not encounter a scared Rattata”
“A-Anna, you don’t understand…”
“Then tell me; you know that no matter what you have to say, I’ll always listen to you”
“Sarah; if my life has taught me something is that sometimes, showing your weakness is your very strength” The Riolu said.
“I remember that talking… *sigh* are you sure?” Sarah asked a bit worried
“Upside here, with no ears to hear anything you wouldn’t normally admit; I guess you have the chance, if you want to do it”
She looked to him, then to Anna and sighed. She wiped what was left of her tears and sat, leaning her back to the wall with her younger sister on her side. Firstly she introduced Alex as the leader of the team that was assigned to continue their formation. Then she told what happened to her team over the months they were with them. Each word, each phrase, each moment was extremely difficult for her to say when she began. Instead of only saying the good things, she also told the bad ones that surpass the others in a proportion of two versus one.
As Anna could understand, her sister made terrible mistakes because of who she was and also saw horrible things that made her doubt the whole thing. Sarah though it was an easy job where she could put her talents in use, but some missions required more than brute force and recklessness. She learned all of that in the hard way.
When Sarah finished, she went silent. The moon has already made its appearance. Anna looked to it for a while, then to her sister.
“Then you’re in a better position than them” She said.
Sarah slowly raised her head.
“You said you don’t have strong bonds with your team, but you built them anyway; and from all you told me you’re more prepared than any of the others, even if you had to run for your life sometimes”
“Even if you think you failed, you earned something from them; I remember something one of my friends said to me: from failure we can learn; from success, we only repeat the same thing; if I put in a balance everything, your teams grew more than all the other teams combined”
“That’s a little exaggerated”
“But you can’t deny it contains some of the truth” Alex pointed.
“Yep, remember what you said to me before joining the guild? Never let anyone tells you what you can or can’t do, because we are what we choose to be” Anna said.
“*Sigh* Heh, kind of ironic that I don’t follow my own advice, right?”
“Not much if you’re lost” Anna stayed quiet for a moment. “Um, are you afraid of something now?”
She looked to Alex, then to Anna for a while and sighed. “The competition of tomorrow; we’re been practicing for quite some time since we arrived, but I don’t have much hopes that we can defeat them”
“And why not?”
“Because of what I’ve already told you and they’re better prepared”
“But they don’t believe you’re better”
“And that will be our advantage” Alex said.
“What?” Sarah asked surprised.
“Zack was supposed to mention it in our last strategy session; but the fact that, as you mentioned, the two teams are the same in the eyes of everyone is a weak point; and if they still believe that, you can use it to defeat them”
“He’ll fill you with the details”
“See sis? You’re not done yet; you can still teach the a lesson and slap all those non-believers with your experience”
Sarah looked to Anna for a few moments. She felt she had a part of their brothers, speaking in that way and her enthusiasm she showed various months ago. A smile with tears appeared on her face. She picked up Anna and hugged her strongly. If there was one member of her family that she could really count, no matter what, it was Anna. Releasing her, face to face again, she grinned.
“I’ll make sure that all those blasted fools will receive their medicine” Sarah said convinced.
“Now you sound like your old self” Anna said happy.
“Thanks to you and Alex” She wiped her tears, feeling that a heavy burden was lifted. “By the way, why are you in the guild city? Shouldn’t be back home?”
Anna laughed nervously as she remembered that Sarah was still unaware of what she did. “Em… well, you see…”
Sarah crossed her arms, expecting some kind of mess. “What did you do?”
“Eheheh; funny story, I joined the guild not long ago”
“Eh, you…” Sarah face pawed herself. “You telling me… you have a team, and you’re training?”
“Ah, that’s sums it all”
“For the love of… did our family knows this?”
“Only our parents; our brothers think that I’m in some kind of academy”
“Let me guess, it’s because of me?”
“*Sigh* Alright, I’ll let it pass because you’re mi sister and you lifted my mood; just better start to learn what are you getting into”
“I’ll be fine”
“Should we get down? We’re been here for quite some time now” Alex suggested.
“Yeah, tomorrow I need to be with full energy” Sarah said.
The next day, the combat competition started. Anna and the rest of the team were only watching the matches where her sister was participating as she asked. So far, as she heard in the night, the two teams were acting like they were still divided, but scoring victories with some difficulty. Since the act was completely natural, no one suspected a thing from them. Around her, she heard that the group had luck in getting that far, but it would run out eventually. She kept quiet and concentrated in the battles.
The presents were surprised when both teams reached the final match. They thought that some of the training of the Shadow foxes actually paid off, but without teamwork, their chances to win were minimal.
Sarah with her group took positions. She looked to Anna and showed to her a quick grin. The Togetic noticed that and asked in a whisper.
“What are you looking?” He asked.
“Someone I’m going to make happy and I will not fail” She answered.
“And that someone is…”
“My sister; I’ll do whatever I can to win this fight”
“All of us, you mean”
“I know, but together this time with our heck of a surprise”
“Heh, time to introduce our new selves”
Anna heard how the people was betting for the opposite group, trained by one of the best teams in the guild. There were a few words of concern from her team about their odds, but she didn’t listen. She was already spoiled of what would happen and preferred to not mention anything, although Karla was suspecting something.
When the fight started, each side was attacking with their moves, trying to catch the other with the low guard. Then the opposite group began to make Sarah’s group fight with each other, spreading discord among them; and they acted as if they fell for it. Since everyone was aware of their divisions, they believed it was another of their discussions. Anna was quiet, wondering when they would drop the veil.
Then, when one from the opposite group approached to an arguing between the Togetic and the Mismagius and was close to attack them, both charged their attacks and, unexpectedly, launched to him, knocking him out. The public went silent as it was supposed to be an arguing, it ended in a trick. The others saw the opportunity and stroke while they were distracted. They defeated three more, with the last two regrouping.
‘All of them are quite shocked’ Anna thought looking around. ‘This is what happens when you turn your backs against my sister’. The last two Pokémons, a Haxorus and a Combusken, were trying to holding their ground against their opponents. Being the pair too powerful to be defeated in one strike, Sarah’s group focused in attack in pairs to determine weaknesses in their combat style, while they kept some of their strength.
Once they determined which, they used the old tactic of “divide and conquer” and kept their enemies separated while they were turning to attack them. Even in there were some complications between them to coordinate, they managed overcome them and knock them down.
The six Pokémon were panting hardly to catch their breath, but when they recovered a little, they noticed the silence present in those around them. When they looked all the spectators, they saw muzzles and mouths opened mixed with surprise, incredulity and negation. The only one who was actually happy about that was Anna and her teammates looked to her.
“You knew about this?” Karla asked.
“Partially, I knew they had a trick to make us believe that they didn’t change, but I didn’t know how they would beat them” Anna answered.
“Well… they turned us all upside down” Jeff admitted. “The worst teams did actually something right”
“Even so, this was what some people call a surprise attack” Karla commented. “I’m curious how they would act if they have to fight in equal conditions”
“But you can’t deny they’re progressed in something” Valerian said.
“In that we agree”
Anna was still seeing her sister, who looked back and smiled. She felt that Sarah won for her, to make her happy and proud. And she did it. Much later, in the afternoon, both sisters enjoyed the rest of the day. There were other competitions in the next few days and a couple more before the midnight Lycanroc got back to work; so in that time, she taught Anna a few tricks she learned by herself that could be useful, even how to use a staff, although it could be difficult in that moment.
The next days passed flying as Anna and her team also participated in small competitions. Sarah was looking from the distance how much she grew in the past months. She was pleased of what she was observing and glad that her team was more balanced from the beginning. She would need them.
The day Sarah had to leave; she gave Anna a green scarf with a team’s badge on it. When she asked of whom team belonged, she only said that someday she would find out, but not yet. In the night, in her bed, she glanced for a while the scarf, thinking of what things she would encounter in their first real mission and beyond.
PLW - NPC - James
Hint: Keep in mind that the original Shadow foxes haven't spoke anything about their continent at fullest to anyone, so anything that happens there, stays there.
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Story and Characters belongs to me