This is a sequel to Xanthic Growlithe Contract.

(x)

The story so far:

Elliot left home like every other ten year old to become a trainer. He collected the eight badges of Kanto over the course of a year, but not in time to attend the Indigo Plateau, and wound up receiving an offer by a researcher under Bill to go to Johto.

But it's not that simple. Things happened.

And when he went to leave in Vermillion, he was met by an older boy, who offered to make him a member of the League if he would stay. Who told him what that was, and what it meant.

And so Elliot left for Johto.

He currently has six pokemon, his growlithe Howler, a mightyena named Din, a murkrow named Caw, a jigglypuff named Discord, a spearow named Sono and a persian named Prowler. The pokemon have their own peculiarities, some more obvious than others. Some past details: Howler is Elliot's starting pokemon. Discord can use uproar and can't sing. Caw was traded to Elliot for a meowth, and has had at least two trainers before this. Prowler was captured as a persian. She claims to have never belonged to a trainer and to have lived wild in the northern mountains, however, she has a scar from a head injury. Caw is confident she was trained, and other sources seem to support this.


Chapter One: A Fresh Start

(x)

Elliot disembarked and gaped at the new world.

The buildings were mixed. All of them were wider and a bit less tall than he was used to, more squares than rectangles. Some – houses, he guessed – were incredibly rustic-looking, simple and traditional. Others were completely modern, like the sleek Pokemon Mart he could see off in the distance. The two things clashed jarringly.

He checked the map, feeling almost relieved to look at something simple and familiar. He was in Olivine. He found the Pokemon Center on the paper, then traced the road back to where he was. Not too far.

He started walking, the spaced wooden plank flooring of the dock feeling unsafe under his feet, like he might somehow slip between the inch-wide cracks if he wasn't careful. It didn't help that his walk was unsteady after the time he'd spent on the boat, and he felt like he might fall at any moment. Once he was off that he was plunged into a crowd, the swirling multitude giving him the sense of looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. He slowed, wobbling dizzily. He focused on the ground under his feet, watching the buildings of the street out of the sides of his eyes. In his peripheral vision, they were the same as in any town in Kanto.

He walked, buffeted by the jostling mass of people around him, until he came to a corner. The map had said to turn there. He did.

He saw the Pokecenter in the distance. Focusing on that he started to hurry along the sidewalk, blocking out everything around him as much as he could. Finally he reached it and stepped through the doors.

It was like stepping into another world. Or back into the real one. The Center was the same as it had been in Kanto, exactly the same. Chairs and couches and tables, trainers sitting around alone or in small groups. Two near the door were discussing the city's gym leader (if you don't have a fire pokemon it's practically impossible) and a Joy was standing behind the counter.

Elliot had been told to identify himself to the Nurse Joy when he got there, so he walked up and did so. She smiled at him, nodded when he finished, and then asked him to follow her. They entered a side room where the Joy picked several gadgets off the wall.

"Here in Johto, trainers carry something we just call pokegear. I understand it's not in common use in Kanto," she said. This was an understatement: it was not in any kind of use in Kanto. "But it's really little different than what you should be used to. You're familiar with phones?"

Elliot nodded. "Yeah."

"The pokegear can function as a simplified version, a portable one. It won't transmit images, but you can call someone and talk anywhere."

It didn't show images? Elliot thought. But – how were you supposed to talk to someone if you couldn't see them?

"It also has a digital map that tracks your position, a clock, and can be upgraded to add new – well, you're from Kanto, so don't worry about it." She smiled kindly at him and handed the item over. She held up the next thing. "This is the Johto model of the pokedex. Johto is a bit more wild, and, well, certain items may occasionally not work, so we use more robust models. If you'd be so good as to trade in your current pokedex…" Elliot handed it to her and received the other one. It was the same color as his old one, but was designed slightly differently.

"Now, you may find Johto to be a bit…different than you're used to. There's a lot more diversity here. Or so I'm told. So, take your time, and don't feel you're under any pressure to buy new items or experience some of the more…niche activities of our region. Don't try to jump in if you're not sure you're ready."

Elliot nodded.

"And remember," she said, "if you feel like you want to return home, you can leave at any point."

(x)

Return home. No, he couldn't do that. Elliot had left the Center and gone out, trying to get used to Johto. He looked at the buildings, the people…it was all different, alien. But that, that was okay, he could handle it. After everything he'd seen, this wasn't so bad, he told himself.

He saw all sorts of people. There were even little kids playing at the beach with a pokeball on their waists, ones four or five years younger than him. Kids that young with pokemon, as trainers…it'd never be like that at home. And adults too, lots of adults were carrying a couple pokeballs too, not just older teens. And a lot of them had pokemon out as well, a dizzying array of pokemon Elliot had always considered incredibly rare – phanpy, togepi, smeargle, sunflora… and many of them were decorated somehow, with ribbons and sunglasses and cloth pouches swinging from around their necks. The people were no less varied, wearing clothing of all kinds and styles, with hair colors ranging from the same unremarkable brown of his own hair to bright greens and light blues. The variety even extended to the pokeballs they carried, many of which Elliot couldn't recognize.

And the buildings. He'd never seen so many different kinds of buildings before. They were all kinds of shapes and designs. Some were barely taller than him and others stretched up into the sky. One, a big tall rectangular building, jutted up between the city and the ocean, the top gleaming faintly in the afternoon sunlight. That was the lighthouse, he knew that from the map he'd poured over on the boat. Something about it bothered him, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

He didn't go anywhere in particular, just wandered slowly. It was a lot to take in, that was all. But after a few hours, he was hugely relieved to return to the familiarity of the Pokecenter. It was just it was so…

So strange. It made him feel scared and homesick. He didn't know why, he just did.

But he'd get used to it, he thought. He had to. He wasn't going home. Not to a place like that, not now. Johto was different, but that's why he'd come. A place where it wouldn't be the way it was in Kanto.

(x)

The food served for supper at the Center was no less strange than the rest of the city, some kind of soup. It didn't taste bad exactly, just odd. Elliot ate it cautiously, in small spoonfuls.

A clutch of trainers across the table to his right gulped it down, talking happily.

"No way, you really got one?"

"Yeah." The girl's voice was proud. "You wouldn't believe how hard it was. Dunno why, but Silph's not letting it out of Kanto. Weird, huh? I mean, since when have they not wanted us to buy their stuff? It was super expensive to get even after I found someone, the guy charged me like you wouldn't believe!"

"You sure it'll be worth it?" said a boy to her left. "Seems like it's a big risk, going through so much trouble for something you've never tried."

A girl on her right nodded. "You haven't even seen it work once. What if you paid all that money for nothing?"

"But c'mon, you know what they're saying about it. I just had to get one."