2024-04-28: Here Comes a New Challenger!

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  • Cutscene: Here Comes a New Challenger!
  • Cast: Luna Meitner
  • Where: Fuschia City, Safari Zone
  • Date: April 28, 2024
  • Summary: After encountering the likes of Solaris using Pokemon in battle, Luna decides it would be a good idea to study pokemon and how they fight more carefully. She retreats to a somewhat familiar environment to evaluate her Meditite's combat potential, but soon realizes there is another pokemon making an evaluation of their own.

The hot dessert air shimmered around Luna as she prepared herself. Hard baked ground, dry and cracked, crunched beneath her boots as she stretched. Near-intolerable warmth filled her lungs as she breathed in deep, and she could already feel cooling beads of sweat rolling down her forehead, tracing lines around the flexing muscles of her arms and legs.

The so-called desert was a recreation, of course. An artifice conjured up by Nede's advanced symbology, a tribute to part of a long-lost region of their world that had been known as Hoenn. If she lost herself in the fantasy, she could almost forget the feeling of the intense Symbological magics manipulating the space, providing heat, moisture, changes in temperature, and a million other details that produced patches of sparse vegetation and dry, arid winds that swept dust and sand across the plains. Almost.

Still, she could not deny it reminded her overwhelmingly of home. Not a perfect recreation, but... nothing would be.

Investigating the craft and power of Nede's Symbology had only been one part of her visit to Nede's Safari Zone. She had declined the tour, preferring to strike out on her own. (The staff had strenuously advised against this, but she had ignored their cautions.) Instead she had struck deep into the heart of the Safari Zone, hopefully well away from any of the common tour paths. She did not want any interruptions for what came next.

The area she had selected was a large, flat region studded throughout with boulders. Her backpack, pouches, spear, and bow were all stacked together in the shadow of one boulder. (She /had/ deigned to offer a flat reassurance that no, she was not there to /hunt/ the pokemon.) In the distance, on one side of her, mountains loomed, and on the other, she could just barely make out the start of grassier plains.

Luna herself was dressed in the garb she normally wore while traveling through Nede. A black crop top that left her arms and stomach bare, showing off dark, tanned skin; lean, toned muscles in her arms; and a honed set of washboard abs. The red buttoned shirt she normally wore open over this was tucked away inside her pack for this exercise. Black cargo pants covered the equally lean muscles of her legs, and were tucked into a pair of black boots. It offered freedom of movement, with the utility of extra pockets. Perfect for staying ready and alert for action. Her long, dark reddish-brown hair she had secured into an extra tight braid, but it was otherwise left to hang all the way down her back. She had the long, pointed ears of a Nedian but, of course, was not one herself. And as she finished her stretching, her dark green eyes turned to her...

Well, 'pokemon' was certainly one word to use. A Meditite, she had come to learn, who stood about 2 feet tall, body covered in mostly light blue fur with patches of white, and a rounded head that came to a point. His serious, determined expression often mirrored Luna's own. (He did, in fact, have a Serious nature, but Luna had not yet progressed to the point where she might care to learn that fact, much less to appreciate it.)

He had approached her after she had taken a trip along the path winding its way through Nede's Mt. Moon, pantomiming some spearwork she had used to attempt to intimidate two hikers into standing down their ridiculous dispute: tossing a rock into the air and splitting it, mid-flight, between them. Rather than having its intended effect, they had patronizingly called her... called her...

... well, nevermind that.

But while it had failed to intimidate her intended target, it seemed to have made an impression on this Meditite, who had beseeched her to follow along. Luna... still wasn't sure why she had agreed to the arrangement. Simple curiosity, perhaps? It was certainly a novel experience, was it not? She was not unfamiliar with the concept of training an animal to act as, say, a hunting companion, or to domesticate an animal to use it for the resources it could provide.

But those animals did not possess a will or a desire to join another, beyond the base instincts requiring the formation of a pack. To be /impressed/, on the other hand... was something altogether different.

Was it, perhaps, simply her desire to follow her father's directive? She had been instructed to learn the secrets of this new yet fractured star called Energy Nede, after all. It was plain to see that pokemon were ingrained deeply in their culture, so to understand Energy Nede at all, she would, inevitably, need to understand their pokemon. That was part of the reason she had come to the Safari Zone, to understand other parts of Nede that could no longer be visited, and how they exercised their Symbological to manipulate the environment.

Yes, perhaps that was part of it. But that was not /all/ of it. Her trip had multiple purposes, after all. And the secondary reason spoke to the last reason she could think of for allowing Meditite to follow her.

She recognized something of a... kindred spirit, though she would never express such a sentiment out loud. Meditite had been impressed by her skill with a spear, and then had demonstrated his own fledgling powers, levitating for a short moment of time. When she had then cautioned Meditite that he would need to work hard to keep up with her... he had accepted.

Those reasons would have been enough on their own to pique her interest. But now, the discovery that Solaris had resorted to battling with these creatures, at least on Nede, compelled her to study this style of combat further. While she was, of course, confident in her combat prowess, the fact remained that these creatures were new and alien to her, and it would only benefit her in the long run to understand them better. It would certainly aid her in her mission to counteract Solaris' movements, in any case.

And so here she was, in an environment that was... if not familiar, at least comforting, regarding the pokemon she had... permitted to follow along with her. She had heard many terms for how people regarded their pokemon: Friends, companions, pets, assistants...

She could not decide how she felt about Meditite, yet. Nor did she know how the small pokemon truly viewed her. But yet he was there, stretching and limbering up, following her motions.

Time enough to figure that out later.

"Very well," she said, as she stopped her own preparations. "If you wish to train under me, I must first assess your existing combat abilities." The toe of her boot dragged through the rough ground as she slid her foot back, and brought her arms up in front of her in a defensive posture. "To that end, you will attack me."

Meditite's eyes widened in shock, disrupting his normally stone-faced expression. "Medi, meditite?"

"If you are concerned, do not be. I am sturdier than I appear. If I am to train you, I must be able to understand how you fight. Strike at me with the intent to hit, but not to maim or kill. This is called sparring, and we will be doing quite a lot of it."

"Medi..." Meditite studied her warily for a moment and then nodded. He slid a foot forward, bringing his arms up into a ready position. "Med, medi, meditite!" He sprang forward, body twisting as he whirled his foot around to strike.

Luna deftly moved an arm to block the kick. The impact jarred her; the force traveled up and down her arm as her muscles strained to keep it in place. Meditite bounced back, knees tensing as he prepared for a second strike, but Luna held out her other hand. "Hold." She stood upright, rubbing at the back of her arm for a moment to reduce the stinging sensation. "I see..."

Meditite paused, brow furrowing a little in concern. "... Medi?"

"No. You did exactly as asked. It was I who was unprepared." Luna shook her arm out and took up her stance again. "Again."

"Medi!" Meditite prepared himself, then ran forward. He made to repeat his earlier attack but at the last moment changed directions, crossing in front of Luna and doubling back to kick from a different direction.

Luna's eyes tracked the movement and she brought her rear arm up to defend her inside guard. It stung, still, but she was prepared, and the block held firm. "Good instincts, to attack from a different direction."

Meditite dropped down to the ground, hopped back, and then leapt up high, dropping down on Luna with another kick. Luna stood her ground but blocked high. From there he dropped down to the ground, now considerably inside Luna's guard and sprang forward. His palm shimmered with force as he drove it into Luna's stomach, sending a ripple of energy outwards.

There was a gasp of expelled air as Luna stumbled back, grabbing at her stomach. "H-hold," she choked out. She inhaled deeply to center herself as Meditite withdrew several paces back.

Eventually, as Luna got her breathing under control, she looked at Meditite, contemplating. "... You exploited the differences in our size to bring yourself closer to my guard than a more traditional opponent would be able to." It took her a moment to realize that she was smiling as she said that, and she let out a short, but genuine laugh. "Good. But remember to follow through with your back foot when you deliver a strike like that."

"Medi!" Meditite scampered back and resumed his fighting stance, looking at Luna curiously. "Di?"

Luna resumed her own fighting stance with a nod. "Yes."

They continued like that under the hot, simulated sun. Once Luna got a better feel for Meditite's movements, she slowly started testing his defenses, and they started to comfortably trade blows back and forth. He, too, was sturdier than he appeared, and after a time Luna found herself just... enjoying the exchanges back and forth. Meditite was a novel opponent, requiring quick thinking and new strategies to avoid their attacks, while striking at such a small and mobile opponent presented its own challenges.

But Meditite was benefitting from the exchange, too. Luna had years of finely honed combat experience that she could use to study him and his movements. She could offer feedback, and she could push him, test his limits without overwhelming him. Which, it seemed, was exactly what Meditite had wanted by following her.

Though it was but a first sparring session, Luna found it to be... fruitful.

And not unenjoyable, as well.

"Hold," she said finally, after they had been going for a while. She held out a hand to emphasize the point and Meditite stopped, nodding. Luna reached up to wipe sweat off her brow. She could go for some time longer, of course. She had trained under exactly these conditions for many years, and could continue for much longer, but these were not battle conditions. Training demanded breaks, and rest. One did not temper a sword by beating it senseless.

And Meditite had not trained under the same conditions she had. Not yet, anyway. He was breathing hard, his fur damp with sweat, and Luna thought he might continue to exhaustion if she allowed him to. So she didn't. She stood, and walked over to her pack, putting out a water skin and food alike. There was dried venison for herself, and for Meditite... berries seemed to be the preference, though Luna was still learning flora of this world. She sank down into the shadow of the boulder and Meditite came to join her. Together, in amiable silence, they ate and drank, and rested, both sitting cross-legged.

Far off in the distance, a pair of birds of some kind let out joyous cries as they danced around each other in the air, but other than that, the desert was silent.

Eventually Luna rose to her feet. Meditite did the same, and they resumed their sparring. As the new session got underway, however, Luna felt a presence teasing at the edges of her mind. She held out a hand to Meditite as she withdrew her mind into itself. Out loud she simply said "Don't" as she turned to face the source.

On top of the boulder that Luna and Meditite had just taken shelter under for their break, stood a new pokemon. He stood about two feet tall, with blue fur and a vaguely canine head that had a band of black fur around his eyes. The eyes were closed, but he was facing Luna, and she felt a presence trying to probe at her thoughts even as she hardened her mind to resist them.

"There is only one I would allow to know my mind. Desist."

The Riolu opened his eyes and beheld Luna, then narrowed them. "Lu." He sprang from the top of the rock, charging at Luna and then leaping high into the air to lash out with a kick. Luna easily stepped back into a fighting stance, raising one arm to guard against the strike. Riolu dropped down to the ground and sprang forward with a punch, but Luna pivoted sideways, letting the Riolu fly past her.

"I have no quarrel--"

"Medi!" Meditite charged past her, pursuing Riolu, lashing out with a low kick. Riolu stepped back to avoid it, and then returned with a punch, which Meditite quickly blocked.

Irritation and anger swelled within Luna as she watched the two pokemon fight. "I do /not/ need to be--" She paused, though, as she noticed how fluent the exchange between them was, both pokemon easily able to strike and defend against each other on even footing.

While her and Meditite's sparring session had proved useful, she had recognized early on a certain fundamental flaw. While the exchanges between them had been novel and interesting, they were less than likely to prove of use to either of them in the types of fights they may wish to engage in. She could teach Meditite, but he would need a true sparring partner to progress.

She watched as Meditite readied an attack, his open glowing with energy. At the right moment he struck forward, back leg extended to drive as much force into it as he could. It struck true, a wave of energy rippling over Riolu's body as it made contact, and the pokemon was sent flying back. Meditite started to advance, but Luna spoke up.

"Hold there, Meditite."

Meditite paused, looking to her, and then nodded. He kept in his ready position but did not advance further.

Luna approached the Riolu, who was slowly getting to his feet. He looked up at Luna and growled, getting ready to launch another attack. "Riiiii...." he threatened.

"I do not intend to fight you further," said Luna, holding her empty hands up to show that she was not about to strike.

Riolu's eyes narrowed further. "Ri! Riolu!" He pointed up at Luna with one hand, and then raised the other to the side of his head.

She could feel Riolu's presence trying to read her mind again, and she shook her head. "No. I will not permit this. But I have a proposal for you."

Dropping both hands, Riolu's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Ri?"

"This Meditite witnessed my proficiency with a spear and elected to follow me. I believe he recognized the rigor I apply to my training and wished to study from my example."

"Medi," affirmed Meditite. "Medi meditite."

Riolu looked to Meditite, and his expression turned from suspicion to curiosity."Ri, rio?"


The canine pokemon looked to Luna again but was silent, looking at Luna expectantly.

"My offer is this. I can train Meditite, but for him to truly progress, he will need an opponent of his own calibur to train with. I judge you both to be of similar skill. I believe you could both benefit greatly from training with each other."

Riolu raised a hand to his head again, but did not attempt to read her thoughts again. But Luna could infer his meaning.

"No. If you wish to know my mind, you will judge it by my actions, not by my thoughts. That is the offer I am making to you. Train with Meditite and myself, for both of your benefits, and you will be able to observe me to judge my character. And should you find me lacking, you may leave at any time."

Not that she would ever consider herself to be lacking, by any measure. But she did not yet know how these pokemon perceived the world; it was not a stretch to imagine there was some quality she was not aware of that they might want for.

Riolu folded his arms as he studied Luna, then looked between her and Meditite, contemplating silently for a long few moments. Finally, he nodded, dropping both arms to his sides. "Ri."

"I will take that to be assent. Good. I am Luna Meitner." She looked to Meditite. "Please instruct our new companion in sparring. Now that we have a proper training partner for you, I wish to observe both of you in an evenly-matched fight."

She took a step back and watched as Meditite instructed Riolu, and the two of them began to spar.

This certainly made things more interesting than she had been expecting, and Luna was curious to see where it might lead.