YEET SHE'S BACK WITH A VENGEANCE LEGGO LEGGO
"So?" Thomas asked when I returned to the waiting room.
"I'm pretty much fine," I said, picking up my healed pokemon from the front desk.
"I mean, apparently I'm depressed, but it's unrelated to my memory loss."
"Ouch. That sucks."
"A bit." I took Def and Hope's pokeballs and thanked the nurse. "I still don't know how I missed Prom's battle, though."
Tossing a pokeball, I waited for Def to appear. "Hey, Def. You know that time Looker said I took ages to teleport to Eterna, but I thought it was only a few seconds?"
"What actually happened?"
"Eh… je ne sais pas…"
"You don't know?"
"It was… You waited a while to teleport, I think. Mais, I tried to speak to you. It felt like you were not there."
"So I… disappeared? For five minutes?"
"Je ne sais pas."
I frowned. "Well. This is alarming."
"Was there anything else unusual in your health?" Thomas asked me.
"I mean, I haven't gotten my period since before time traveling, but–"
We both realized it at once.
"I need to talk to Looker," I said, dialing a number on my poketch and running outside. Def and Thomas followed suit. "And Cynthia."
Within minutes, Looker was up to speed. He brought a bonus natu so that Thomas could join us in Eterna this time – it felt necessary, now that Mesprit had chosen him.
"So you're skipping bits of time?" Looker was frowning. "Strange…"
"Has anything happened to you?" I asked.
"Not that I've noticed. Maybe it has to do with the Adamant Orb?"
"Why, because I touched it and you didn't?"
Thomas looked bewildered. "Dialga and Palkia, the rulers of time and space in Sinnoh mythology, have orbs associated with them," I explained. "When we rescued both orbs from Galactic in Celestic Town, I touched Dialga's orb, and it burned me. Palkia's didn't."
"Because you time traveled? Would Dialga be that upset?" Thomas asked.
"That's sort of why we're here."
Cynthia was amused to find us back at her apartment so soon. She let us in, we introduced her to Thomas, she offered us refreshments and joined us in the living room.
"What would you like to know?" she asked us.
"Well there's… something else popped up," Looker explained. "If – hypothetically – someone were to travel in time… What might happen to them?"
Cynthia laughed. "Oh, I've heard of cases. No need for hypotheticals," she said smoothly, as if any of us thought Looker was speaking hypothetically. "Generally the traveler should be fine, but that depends on the mode of travel. For example, Celebi may take passengers as they journey in time, but if a passenger forces Celebi to take them, there may be consequences."
"Why is that?"
"Dialga… is a strict ruler," Cynthia said. "Palkia allows beings to roam in space at will, and even transcend space through modes of travel like teleportation. Palkia only gets mad if space is damaged – which is to say warped or torn on a fundamental level, not just vandalized on the surface. Dialga, on the other hand, likes to have control of time. Which is why we perceive it linearly, and fairly steadily; humans and most pokemon are locked into a linear experience of time. Some beings, like Celebi, are granted a little more autonomy, but Dialga picks these exceptions on an individual basis."
"What if someone traveled through time without Dialga's permission?" I asked. I doubted the IP had sent in a formal request.
"I can't imagine Dialga would be pleased." Cynthia considered it. "Dialga would probably punish the transgressor."
"How does… How does Dialga go about this?"
"Mm… Dialga would have to find them first. Space isn't his strength. I imagine he would need to contact them almost directly in order to find them."
"Would contact with the Adamant Orb…?"
"That should work too," said Cynthia. "As for the punishment itself, I cannot say. In the few recorded cases of such things, the transgressor slowly lost their mind."
I remembered something. "You said earlier that most humans and pokemon are attached to a linear perception of time," I said. "What if… Dialga… undid that?"
"What if he disconnects you from linear time?" I said. "Maybe not all at once, but maybe a little at a time, so that time doesn't happen quite steadily… Maybe at first you skip a few seconds… and then a few minutes… maybe there are other irregularities, like things going backwards… and things get worse until either you lose it or everyone else thinks you have…"
Cynthia was quiet for a moment, gazing at me in concern.
"That sounds plausible," she said in a low voice. "If that were the case – not that I encourage unpermitted time travel – but if that were the case, I would encourage the person to find a way to anchor themselves to linear time."
"Anchor myself to linear time," I said again once we were outside her apartment. "Anchor myself… to time itself?"
"We do have some time to figure it out," Looker said. "It's only been a few scattered cases so far, right?"
"Yeah, but already I've missed an entire gym match. What if this happens around Galactic?"
"Your pokemon are pretty independent fighters," Thomas pointed out. "And I'll likely be around too."
"Oh, excellent, now you really will be my chaperone."
"We'll be on the lookout for ideas," Looker cut in. "In the meantime… Well, do your best."
"Thanks," I mumbled optimistically.
The calendar in Looker's journal said "regice/registeel/regirock" in the Wednesday slot, but now that we knew these legendary pokemon didn't do anything for Galactic, we were less concerned.
"Which isn't to say we don't care that major pokemon are being kidnapped," I said to Thomas over breakfast, "but we gotta pick our battles."
I was feeling much better, by the way. I'd managed to get out of bed with no major internal struggle, and something in my chest had lightened. It was almost ironic, considering what we'd learned yesterday, but I couldn't complain. I'd missed being happy.
"So now that Hope's a togekiss, are you down to fly to Solaceon?"
I blinked. "What? Why?"
"For the tournament – oh, I guess you could teleport if Def has been there already."
"I – no, he hasn't, I haven't been there since before catching him–"
"Okay, so we can fly–"
"–but I wasn't planning on going to the tournament."
Thomas paused. "Wait, what?"
"I'm not planning on going. It just… I dunno."
"Oh, you didn't go last time?"
"No, I did, it's just… It felt like a waste of time, last time around."
"But you did the Valor Resort Tournament."
"Yeah… That was different. It was the tournament itself that wasn't worthwhile."
"How so?" Thomas asked, frowning.
"It was too lax. It just felt disorganized and too small and overall not worth it." And Lucas hadn't gone to this one, but I didn't say that.
"You can still go, though," I said. "I mean, you should. Don't let me hold you back."
Thomas burst out laughing. "Hold me back?" he repeated incredulously.
"Thomas, what do you mean you only have two badges?" he said in a high-pitched voice. "Thomas, you better have fought the Pastoria Gym and won by tonight. Thomas, if you don't have five badges by the time the tournament begins, I'll bring Maylene down here to fight you."
"I mean – it's just because you can do better than you know."
"Yeah," he said, eyes shining with laughter. "I didn't think I could beat five gyms in two and a half months. I wouldn't have tried, if not for you pushing me."
"That's giving me too much credit," I tried to say.
Thomas cut me off by putting his hand over mine on the table. "Evelyn, I've been earning gym badges twice as fast in Sinnoh, and you're entirely to blame."
"For the badges themselves, maybe," I said. His hand was the same temperature as mine. "You were strong enough a trainer to do it."
"Well, sure. But, point is, you're not holding me back. Far from it," he said, taking his hand back.
"So… Are you going to Solaceon?"
He shrugged. "Maybe. What are your plans, though?"
"I'm… not sure."
Thomas leaned his head to the side. "Why not?"
"I mean… The next badge I'd be going for is Canalave, probably, and last time I didn't go there until January."
"Oh! How come?"
"I just… December is a lot of contests and tournaments and whatnot. I think I focused on that. It's training, anyways, so that seemed like a plus."
"Okay." He paused. "So… do you want to do that again? Or is there another route you'd like to go for?"
"I'd like to do that again, I think… I just don't know what to do in the next week or two besides train. So…"
Thomas didn't say anything, but waited for me to continue.
"…I think I'd like to go to Canalave," I said, surprising myself.
"Canalave it is," said Thomas.
"You don't have to go."
"I'd like to. I don't have the Canalave badge yet."
Frankly, I was glad he'd chosen to stick with me. I know it was kind of implied that he would, but still. I liked having him around.
Thomas left that morning – he was flying with Silver. I was cheating – Def had agreed to teleport me to Twinleaf again, and from there I intended to fly north to Canalave – so I had some time to wrap some things up.
Definite was first. I found a stone shop in Pastoria and – trying not to look at the price – purchased a dawn stone.
"This highkey changes the game," I said as he admired his new swords. "You're bigger, you're a dual psychic-fighting type, there are new physical moves you can pick up–"
"That reminds me," he said. "I have hoped to learn healing moves? C'est ci possible?"
…okay, maybe it didn't change the game that much.
I had a discussion with Coeur through Def. She said she didn't particularly care about evolution just yet. This was tricky, since eevees evolve by accident so easily – Bump into the wrong rock? Evolve. Train in the wrong area? Evolve. Feel happy at the wrong time? Evolve.
Coeurage seemed anxious about the whole deal, which made me doubt that she actually didn't care. Coaxing her into telling me more, I got her to say through Def that she didn't want to decide in case she was wrong.
AND UM. This made so much sense. Last time around, Coeur (as Emmy) kept trying to branch out her moveset. She was an espeon, but she knew shadow ball, she knew grass knot – at one point I found Owen trying to teach her ember, which isn't something an espeon can learn. I thought it was Owen's idea at the time.
"Well, first of all, there is no wrong choice," I said to her, smoothing the fur on top of her head. "Whichever path you take – I think you'll thrive in it. The eeveelutions are different, but not necessarily right or wrong for you. If you want to expand your moveset to include a variety of types, we can do that. That said, we can talk about what you're hoping for and do some research on that ahead of time."
We spent an hour doing just that – she wanted to be fast, and physical, and versatile, and able to take a hit. In the end, we narrowed her choices down, although not definitively. I returned to the shop and bought an everstone for her to hold on to, so that she wouldn't evolve too soon.
One important thing to note: of the final possibilities Coeur had decided on, espeon was not one of them.
Thomas called me at three to say that his noctowl had broken down – which is to say, Silver had strained her wing and they were walking to Oreburgh to spend the night. So my team and I remained in Pastoria.
That afternoon, I went out to the marsh again. Trust came with me as my designated out-of-pokeball partner. We surveyed the destruction left by Galactic's test bomb.
"You know," I said to him, "you could probably evolve any day now."
Trust grinned excitedly. "Mon."
I laughed a little. "Yeah… it's been a while, huh? You evolved so quickly, and now you're finally about to hit your top evolution."
He'd be taller by a little – infernapes naturally stoop, making them appear shorter than they are. But as a monferno he was still fairly small –
"Oh, Arceus," I suddenly realized. "You won't fit on my shoulder anymore."
I started laughing. It was a silly thought – he hadn't ridden my shoulder all that much in a while, because even as a monferno he was a little too big. But it was more the sentiment than anything.
"We've only been training two and a half months, huh?" I patted his head. "You know… I'm glad I got to know you. I mean, I'll probably always miss Bree a little, but you're the sweetest and I love you so much–"
He hugged my legs. I broke his hold so I could bend down and hug him properly.
HI ALL sorry I didn't upload for so long; I assistant-stage-managed my friend's play so I had like zero time this past quarter. But it's summer! And I'm here now! YEEEEE.