A note from Fuggmann

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"That should be everything, Professor," the smartly-dressed intern standing before Nigel Birch's desk closes his binder. "We've moved Miss Jenning's Trumbeak to aviary section five, which is the least populated. Since then, Mister Mudahar's Staraptor and his clique have calmed down."

Seated behind his desk, Professor Birch sighs. "That bird…" He mumbles, thinking of the aforementioned Staraptor and his foul attitude. "I'll have Medicham, Flygon, or someone else straighten him out. Matt," He addresses the intern before him. "Make a note on Mister Mudahar's profile. If his pokemon can't behave, then he's going to forfeit his place at our ranch and be forced to purchase private boarding. This is the second time one of his pokemon has acted out."

The young intern nods rapidly. "Yes sir," he says, then his brows furrow. "Professor? Can't you ask Lab Trainer Birch's or Lab Trainer Henson's pokemon to keep an eye on things? It seems like your pokemon are forced to play peacekeeper rather often…"

Professor Birch has to suppress a grimace at Matt's question. "I would, but Brendan and Lee are very picky with their pokemon. Neither of them has more than six yet," Nigel scratches his short beard and sighs. Oh, if only… Nigel finally got clearance from the ever-so-finicky Pokemon Rangers to camp out and observe a natural Sitrus grove near Verdanturf, and all this nonsense is cutting into his prep time! A pokemon trained by either Lee or Brendan would quickly rise to the spot of ranch Alpha and keep the peace. He can already imagine a Swampert's bellow and a ground-shaking thud putting an end to any drama.

While Nigel thought of the Mudfish Pokemon, given that most of the lab is in a tizzy over the battle that aired in Lavaridge today, he knows Matt's thoughts are probably focused on a certain golden fox.

'For a man scared to death of drama, you sure find yourself mixed up in it a lot, Lee.'

As if cued in by his thoughts, Nigel's computer bings, and glancing up at it, he sees a new Logs Update email from Lee with a number of attachments to it. .

"Anyway, thank you for sorting everything out Matt," Nigel smiles. "Please close the door behind you."

Smiling widely back, the aide bows out and shuts the office door as he goes.

After waiting for a moment, Nigel opens the email — which is devoid of any text as usual —, then clicks the first attachment and leans back. 'I'm glad my predecessor had the office soundproofed, Nigel thinks to himself. 'Lee's been throwing a lot of curveballs lately.'

"Log twenty, day ninety-three." Lee's voice begins from the first recording. In the background is the sound of distant conversation, and Lee's voice reverberates as if he's standing in a cave.

"I realize these logs are probably going to arrive a bit later than usual considering that we're currently traversing the Valley of Steel. At first, the four of us considered using the desert which would have been about two-and-a-half weeks to Lavaridge assuming no complications, but when we came to the crossroads between the desert and the valley, we decided the valley was the better option for a few reasons. One, Zinnia knows how to get through the valley in a little over a week, and two, Brendan and I want to hunt for new pokemon."

"Brendan is doing fine considering that he has three active battlers on his team, but Vulpix and Grovyle are having to do all of the heavy lifting due to Corvi's absence. I… still haven't officially released him. I want to give him more time. He's too complex a pokemon to just leave for no reason, and I get the feeling deep down that I'll see him again one day so that I can ask why."

"Anyway, onto what I was originally talking about. The Valley of Steel is home to a number of powerful pokemon, many of whom would make excellent team members based on Type and what role they would fill in the team. I'm still lacking a bulky fighter, and I hope that a trip through the valley will fix that. I've updated my 'wanted list' as well and I'll attach it to the email I send with this recording."

"During our time here, I've gone out and approached a number of wild pokemon while trying to be obvious with my intent to expand my roster. I made sure to keep a respectful distance away with either Vulpix or Grovyle at my side, along with an empty pokeball in my hand. So far, though… There've been no takers. I did briefly consider trying to capture a monstrous Magnezone that attempted to attack us, but thought better of it after the injuries he inflicted on Brendan."

Nigel sharply inhales and pauses the recording. "What?" He hisses to himself. The date on the recording is weeks ago, and he was never informed of this? Neither Lee nor Brendan ever said anything about being injured! Taking a deep breath and keeping his suddenly short temper in check, Nigel resumes the voice recording and crosses his arms.

"Brendan is fine, thankfully. He pulled quite a few muscles in his legs and back lifting himself out of Magnezone's Gravity attack to pull Zinnia to safety, and he'll be spending the remainder of the trip being carried on poke-back. From what I can tell, he'll make a full recovery. He said he'll be giving you a call about the mess once we're in Lavaridge."

The Professor exhales slowly, letting his temper ease. Brendan did indeed call home as he usually does once or twice a week to recount their adventures, but evidently, his son left out some very critical details. "What am I going to do with that boy…"

"During the whole fiasco, we did run into a familiar face. Do you recall the huge Manectric in my earlier logs? Her egg hatched, and apparently, she felt it prudent to track us down all the way in the valley to give her son to me." There's a short pause in the recording. "I'm certain Brendan will give you a call about this, so I won't bore you with details. Like his mama, Electrike is quite large, and while I would love to raise him... I've already got Shinx to care for. Taking care of two cubs, raising a battling team, traveling, and performing independent research all at once is quite a lot of work, so I've taken the liberty of giving Electrike to Brendan. I think it'll be a good test for him, as I've recently begun teaching Brendan the finer points of zoology, nutrition, and... I guess not animal psychology, but non-human psychology to aid in raising his pokemon. Naturally, he's taken to it like a Goldeen to water, and a hardy baby to raise will be the perfect opportunity to apply what he's learning in a practical way. Of course, I'll be on standby in case anything happens, but I doubt that Brendan will need anything more than a finger pointed in the right direction every now and then."

"As for my team, things are progressing as normal. Due to the volatility of the valley's pokemon, we haven't been able to get much more than basic training in, as anything more than mild noise and lights irritates the locals. I have to say, the Valley of Steel is an exceptionally hostile place, both in terrain and wildlife. Never before have I seen pokemon so aggressive and raring to battle. More than once while out hunting for a prospective new team member, we've had to bow out and cut our losses when a pokemon clearly too powerful for any of us stepped forward, spoiling for a fight."

There's another short pause in the audio. "During these nights where there is little going on, most of our time has been spent meditating on where we want our future training to take us and how to best get there. Grovyle already has a superb mastery of Leaf Blade and X-Scissor, and both moves utilize the leaves situated on his wrists. He can also channel both moves into the claws on his hands if needed, but it's not terribly practical unless his leaves have been sheared or burnt off mid-battle. He's most familiar molding Grass TE, and with a bit of creative application, can even alter the size and shape of his wrist-blades. He can't do this with X-Scissor quite yet, but he's getting there. I considered having him attempt to channel his attacks through the long leaf on his head, but discarded the idea later as Sceptile lacks that leaf, and Grovyle is so heavily reliant on kinesthetic learning that he quickly builds habits and muscle memory. I don't want him to get into the habit of using a feature of his body that he won't always have. With that in mind, our focus going forward will probably be on expanding his available repertoire with new slicing attacks like Night Slash."

"Considering the Lavaridge gym uses Fire pokemon, I'm also thinking about using a TM to round out Grovyle's arsenal. We still haven't used the Rock Tomb, Bulk Up, or Shockwave TMs given to us from our gym battles, and Grovyle would benefit greatly from a projectile like Rock Tomb to shut down Ice, Flying, and Fire Types. It'd also introduce him to Rock TE, opening further doors down the line."

"Shinx is still growing like a weed, as I've said in past updates. Not much has changed with her. In the next few weeks, I'll be weaning her off of her bottle and introducing her to solid food. Her introductory training is moving along with minimal hiccups, though we haven't been able to do much with her here in the Valley due to how sensitive the local Magnemite are to atmospheric electric charge. She is getting squirmy and frustrated with being stifled, but she's kept her acting out and mischief to a minimum."

"Vulpix's abilities are definitely beginning to plateau on the physical side. I don't know where she stands in comparison to other examples of her species, but she's been able to reliably fight middle and occasionally final evolutions looking for trouble out here. Granted, she's fighting most of these battles with a type advantage, considering many of the wild pokemon around here are Steel-type, but I've watched her stumble pokemon that must weigh a ton at minimum with her Quick Attack."

"On the non-physical side, we're beginning to hit roadblocks there as well. Vulpix' pyrokinetic abilities continue to improve at a steady rate, and although her firepower is superb, we're running into issues with her focus and stamina. These two critical factors are being outpaced by her power, and although I can help out on both fronts via telepathy, the amount of stamina and mental computing power that a human can contribute to a superpowered fox is a drop in the bucket. In our efforts to mitigate the focus issue, we've been trying to deconstruct moves that contain inbuilt 'programming.' As things stand, Vulpix must manually direct every part of an attack that is functioning outside of the normal parameters of an established move. Redirecting Embers doesn't take much, but redirecting Embers and having them chase two different targets requires a noticeable increase in focus. We've kept this to ourselves thus far, but something as intensive as charging Convergence leaves Vulpix practically paralyzed. The more complex the move becomes, the more mental resources it takes to ensure it actually fires off without a hitch. We need to figure out what's missing from these custom techniques, and how to integrate that innate programming that other moves seem to have. Or maybe we're overthinking it? Is it just repetition until it becomes muscle memory? This is what we'll be focusing on for a while."

"Also... regarding the study you mentioned? The one regarding the telepathy between Vulpix and I? Once our group gets to a good resting point in our journey, which I imagine will be after this gym, I'll be reaching out to you regarding your trusted contact. Over the last few weeks, I've been digging deep into the extant theories about telepathy and the various nuances in how a relationship develops between individuals who frequently utilize telepathy. I can't say that my search has been particularly fruitful, as telepathy is an absolutely indispensable tool in pokemon battles for the ones capable of using it, and I suspect that much of the information that exists is not being shared in order to keep a tactical advantage over other trainers. Part of me understands it, and the other is frustrated that important studies like this are being kept private. Vulpix and I have been collectively mulling over our dynamic, particularly in regards to the advice that Zinnia gave me in Slateport."

"According to Zinnia's words, both the ones she said aloud and the ones she didn't, the trainer should be the undisputed leader in the relationship between humans and pokemon. Now, I think this is colored a bit by her specialty in Dragons, as I've noticed that her team has a very definite pecking order to it, but part of me wonders how valid that is when it comes to the dynamic shared by myself and Vulpix. Vulpix herself is insistent that Zinnia doesn't know what she's talking about, and makes some valid points, though I'm worried bias might be influencing her opinions. Despite that, Vulpix has certainly stepped back and held my hand less when making critical decisions. If your contact can offer any insight, then we'll be glad to participate in this study."

"That's all for this one. Lee, out."

Nigel rubs his chin as he digests the man's words. "Huh. Guess we're moving that study back up…" He hesitates. "I don't think I've ever really considered that telepathy would be more than speaking brain-to-brain..."

He starts the next recording.

"Log twenty-one, day one-hundred-one…" Lee's voice comes through with a troubled sigh. "Please excuse any brevity, Nigel. I've got a lot on my mind."

"We arrived in the town of Lavaridge yesterday after an all-night march. The day before that, we happened across an Octillery in a watering hole that I suspected was contaminated. Octillery was displaying a number of symptoms consistent with heavy metal poisoning, and after wearing him down, I captured him and everyone agreed to shorten our remaining two day trip to Lavaridge with a hellish pace so Octillery could receive proper treatment. I'm happy to report that Octillery is in the care of the Pokemon Center and is expected to make a full recovery. Once he's lucid, I'll be extending an offer for him to join my team. Octillery isn't a pokemon on my wanted list, but I very much would like a Fire type counter on hand that isn't Vulpix."

Lee sighs once more, and in the background of the recording is the faint sound of furry paws sliding over denim.

"All day today, and I suspect for probably a while longer, my studies have taken a detour into the psychology behind evolution anxiety and research into Ninetales." Lee hesitates again. "Yesterday, I had an impromptu meeting with Mura Moore, the Gym Leader here in Lavaridge. To make a long story short, he wants a custom Fire technique for his granddaughter's pokemon in return for a grade one, purity one Fire Stone."

"I never even considered the possibility of Vulpix evolving this early, let alone with the best stone possible. I've only done some basic searching to get an idea on evolution stones, their prices, and how much the quality actually affects the resulting pokemon. Fire stones are some of the most expensive stones due to the danger associated with their mining and how they're in huge demand for Growlithe owners. A gee-one, pee-one demands... Hundreds of thousands of credits at a minimum. In fact, I think the only stones more expensive are Dawn Stones, which only form naturally during the nightless summers of the north pole, and only on the very tops of specific mountains at that."

"The benefits would obviously be undeniable as Vulpix is beginning to hit limitations that we've been struggling to overcome, but at the same time, she's anxious about the idea. She... doesn't want to outlive me. Much of what I found in my initial research about Ninetales is mostly mythological lore, as the sheer rarity of Ninetales, combined with a seemingly species-wide introversion, makes getting concrete facts a nightmare. The only common report is that the average Ninetales lives for several centuries. I don't know if the thousand-year lifespan is real or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is. It's not only me that Vulpix has to worry about outliving, either; she's worried about everyone else as well. I know for a fact that Vulpix has become a fixture in my life, and losing her would be like losing... everything all over again. I suspect… that might go both ways. In an effort to help her make the most informed decision possible, I'm diverting as much of my free time as I can to researching the Vulpix and Ninetales species."

"Between that, we'll be keeping to routine training and visiting Octillery as he recovers. I have no updates or breakthroughs to inform you of on that front currently."

"That's all for this one. Lee, out."

'An interesting look back into Vulpix, even if that was more Lee venting than anything.' Considering he already knows the choice Vulpix makes, Nigel continues on and clicks on the next recording before leaning back into his chair.

"Log twenty-two, day one-hundred-nine." This time, Lee sounds much more relaxed.

"Two days ago, after much debate, soul-searching, and days upon days of research, Vulpix decided to make the leap and evolve," Lee laughs quietly. "It's... it's been something. I'm not even sure where to begin. I suppose first, there's the excitement of having a pokemon evolve. I was beyond thrilled, and so proud of Grovyle when he evolved, but this feels different. I suppose that Vul- Ninetales reaching her final, mature stage has an assuring permanence to it. Of course, I took the liberty of giving her a very thorough physical and documented all of my observations. I'll include some scans of my notebook along with this recording. Who knows, maybe the stiffs at the Hoenn Academic Board will up the lab's funding in return for my findings?"

Nigel grins to himself. He can't help it. Something about his usually serious and pessimistic Lab Trainer speaking with such an upbeat tone just makes the professor want to smile. "Wishful thinking about the board, Lee..."

"Besides that, there are also the mental changes Ninetales has undergone…" Nigel hears the ruffle of shuffling paper in the recording. "Some of what was shared between myself and Ninetales is rather personal, especially her reason for evolving, so I won't be going into that in the recording here. The first and most profound change within her is the new crystal clarity in her telepathy. I think I described it before? If not, then telepathy with Vulpix always involved a level of guesswork, as sometimes the words she was trying to convey would get garbled or skewed with her non-human comprehension of certain concepts. Now I can hear her word for word! It's incredible! Her telepathic power, precision, and range have increased to such a degree that she can reportedly pick out Brendan or Zinnia from across the entire town. It's… astounding, simply astounding."

Nigel can almost hear the smile on Lee's face. "Heh. We have some work to do on the physical side of her psychic abilities. We began working on refining her other telekinetic abilities back in Slateport. Since neither Vulpix or Ninetales are true Psychic-Types, it took a bit of time to get that off the ground and it's been slow going ever since. Before her evolution, Ninetales could reliably lift about twenty pounds with telekinesis and manipulate her load with a degree of clumsy dexterity. Now? Ninetales... I don't even know just how strong her telekinesis is, but clearly we have quite a bit of work to do with regards to control, as she accidentally ripped a door right out of its frame."

A growl comes from somewhere nearby in the recording.

"Love, there's no shame in needing improvement! Knowing you, you'll get it in no time."

The growl tapers off into a huff.

"Where was I? Ah... Her physical and pyrokinetic abilities have also taken a significant jump, so significant that I hesitate to put a number to the amount. As a Vulpix, I estimated she could drag around a half-ton worth of deadweight if her paws could get enough traction, and as a Ninetales that strength has probably doubled. I'll be taking up an offer from the Lavaridge Gym to use their equipment to get exact numbers, but I'm spitballing a solid two-times increase since I can sit on her back and she barely even notices my weight. Doing so isn't very comfortable, mind you. Muscles like steel make for a rough bareback ride."

Again, there is a huff, but this one sounds much more amused.

"...Love, a phrase like that can only be misconstrued if you're looking for things to misconstrue," Lee clears his throat, sounding embarrassed. "Anyway... I don't have a number to put to the pyrokinetic side of things, so we'll be testing that later. Also, Nigel? That psychic expert you mentioned? After both Brendan and I secure gym badge number four, I'll be reaching out to you for that study on telepathy. With the new clarity between Ninetales and myself, there have been a lot of personal revelations that… are difficult to put into words. If you didn't ask me to be perfectly candid in my audio logs, I likely would have excluded this part."

"Ninetales and I had a heart-to-heart talk shortly after her evolution. Telepathy… at least our telepathy, goes much deeper than just words, images, and emotions. I say this with the utmost seriousness."

"I know Ninetales better than I know myself. Much better than I know myself. It is no exaggeration to say that I know everything there is to know about her. I know for a fact that she knows me better than she knows herself in turn."

Nigel's spine tingles.

"Yesterday we had a short conversation regarding our relationship and the dynamics therein, as her evolution, the circumstances behind her choice, and the newfound ease of communication caused a shift between us. It's difficult to explain, but something fundamentally changed. Telepathy between her and I has always been... intimate, but the bond that exists following her evolution is magnitudes deeper."

Lee is silent for a handful of seconds.

"I'm... aware that relationships like the one you're likely thinking of right now exist in a... legal gray area that the Pokemon League tactfully refuses to touch or draw attention to. Our relationship is not heading in that direction and likely never will, despite what her joke a minute ago might make you think. We both agree that there would be little to gain and potentially much to lose in doing so, but then, neither is the relationship that we share completely... Well, platonic? It is platonic, but at the same time, it's not? I don't know how to describe what we even have." There's a frustrated sigh. "It's certainly not romantic. Being keyed into each other's thoughts, emotions, and often physical sensations, is much less romantic than some trashy books might make it seem. The stories always seem to gloss over things like intrusive thoughts, involuntary reactions, and the annoying poke to the brain that occasionally wakes you up when your partner gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom."

"This isn't a round peg, square hole situation either. Hell, this is like replacing the peg with a tesseract in the peg and hole metaphor. There isn't a word for what we have due to how complex all the factors are, and as such all we can really do is wing it, and promise to be understanding if someone missteps." Lee once more pauses, leaving several seconds of silence in the recording. "Ninetales isn't overly concerned about this, but we discovered that we can't disconnect anymore."

"What?" Nigel's brows raise in surprise before furrowing in renewed focus.

"The telepathic connection between myself and Ninetales has been actively sustained for... geez, months now. I don't have any kind of psychic talent, so this is just me describing it as best I can. See, before her evolution, Ninetales and I kept the telepathic connection going constantly and while doing so, there was a distinct termination point between myself and her. As time went on... that termination point became blurrier and blurrier. At the time of this recording, the termination point is completely gone. Somewhere in the 'middle' is an indistinct gradient where there is no telling which side belongs to who. Now, don't misunderstand this as some kind of problem! I certainly don't want the connection to be broken, but I want to understand it and what it means for myself and Ninetales. It's for that reason that I would like to move the priority of that telepathy study up."

Nigel barely has the presence of mind to pause the recording before he slumps back in his chair. With a sigh, the professor opens up his drawer, taking out a bottle of aspirin while eyeballing the half-full glass of water on the corner of his desk. "Arceus dammit, Lee," he curses, dropping his face into his hand. "You're going to make the lab so much money at the cost of my sanity…" He raises his head again and stares at his desk phone. "I'm going to need a better psychic specialist. And someone who knows how to manage relationships like this." Ruminating for a moment longer, he presses play once more.

"I had more to say, but my train of thought is still a little fuzzy even two days after Nine's evolution. Octillery is slated to get out of the Center in the coming days, then I'll begin training with him in earnest in preparation for our Gym challenge. While Flannery isn't an insurmountable opponent, I think it would pay to properly respect her and her pokemon's capabilities."

"That's all for this one. Lee, out."

Nigel sighs, finally uncapping the little bottle of aspirin before tossing two capsules in his mouth and grabbing the glass of water on his desk to wash them down. The water is unpleasantly warm. Once both pills have hit bottom, the professor clicks on the final recording of the email.

"Log twenty-three, day one-hundred-nineteen."

"Our gym battle will be bright and early tomorrow, so today we're taking it nice and easy today so that we're rested up. With Octillery's release from the Pokemon Center, the wake of Ninetales' evolution, and Grovyle mastering a new move, I've actually got a fair bit to report in this log. I apologize if the last one was just a long string of rambling about Ninetales."

"Anyway, I know I said Octillery wasn't on my shortlist and wasn't my preferred Water-type, but he's thoroughly changed my mind. Part of me still wants a Vaporeon, but I won't be terribly upset if that doesn't happen this League year. After making a thorough recovery, Octillery has proven himself to be a very competent pokemon, if one I'm still trying to figure out how to best sync with."

"First off, I didn't realize just how wide a variety of techniques are available to Octillery as a species. At the time of this recording, Octillery knows Wrap, Headbutt, Water Gun, Octazooka, Psybeam, Gunk Shot, Rock Blast, Charge Beam, Aurora Beam, Signal Beam, Ice Beam, Bullet Seed, Focus Energy, and Lock-On. Good Lord above it seems like he has a move for every situation. Naturally, we tested all of them, and I was surprised by a lot of the findings. Due to some preconceived notions, I expected Lock-On to work much like slapping a magic lightning rod on the enemy so that attacks would home in on them. Lock-On working like a reversed Detect is not what I expected, but I can understand it. Octillery is already an adept shot so Lock-On is unfortunately less useful than I expected. Sitting still and focusing all of your brainpower on a ballistic calculation is definitely a devastating advantage when it comes to long-range combat, especially when trying to hit an evasive or flying target, but in the range of typical pokemon battles, Lock-On is unfortunately just too situational. Ice Beam, Gunk Shot, and Octazooka open the door to some real shenanigans, and to maximize the tactical applications of Octillery's techniques, I've been working with him to hammer out some subtle cues on how to apply each move. It's... amateur stuff that won't work on a more experienced opponent after the first time honestly, but voice inflection and delays between words combined with Octillery's sheer variety should hopefully win the day in most cases."

"While he is not lacking in the power department at all, Octillery's mobility leaves something to be desired. Maybe this is just a weakness on my part, as I freely admit that I'm used to having the fastest pokemon on the field. Either way, some of the maneuvers that we have been working on are defensive in nature, like using Ice Beam to erect obstacles and walls, or using a low-power, quickly cast Signal Beam to blind the other pokemon long enough for us to make a play. I'll still be exploring mobility options for Octillery, but in the meantime, we will make do with what we have."

"Personality-wise, Octillery is quite the intellectual. The first day we went out to train, he astounded me by drawing a pictogram to detail part of his internal anatomy, as I was wondering why his species were considered to have "rock-hard" heads. Using that pictogram, he made it clear that he has a pressurized subdermal sack that he fills with water so that he can use his own head as a bludgeon. The intelligence neatly explains why he was so miserable in the Pokemon Center; he was sitting there bored to tears as they weren't mentally stimulating him. I went out and got him a number of puzzles and brainteasers for him to play with in his downtime. Though... he seemed a bit indignant when I told him I didn't get the most difficult ones. Regardless, he's happy if he's got something constructive to do. He's integrated quite well with the team and enjoys the company of both Grovyle and Ninetales. Understandably, he's a little standoffish with Shinx, what with being a Water-type and all, but he's yet to be outright rude. Due to his innate intelligence, I was a little startled to realize that he can't read. I guess it makes sense now that I really think about it. Ninetales can read because I can, and she knows what I know. Corvi could read... which further confirms my theory that he had a prior trainer. I never realized that Grovyle always required Ninetales to read for him if I wasn't around, and I feel like a bit of a jackass for it. Either way, I'm rectifying that mistake by offering both Grovyle and Octillery lessons. Grovyle was... less interested than I expected, but Octillery jumped at the chance. After a few nights of tutoring, Octillery is already beginning to pick up on things."

"Ninetales... Where do I even begin here? It's clear to me that to actually get hard numbers on her current capabilities, I'm going to need to consult some League specialists with especially heavy-duty equipment. That's a can of worms that we'll open when we get there. I'd say more, but I'm afraid even naming a Fire attack around here will bring that lady ranger and her Togekiss running. It's still too early in her evolution to know if my baselines are accurate, or if any observed growth is just residual, but I'll be keeping an eye on everything anyway."

"Grovyle has been spending the last week or so perfecting Rock Tomb and Night Slash. Since Rock Tomb was learned via TM, he started off at a passable level, but 'passable' isn't good enough for Grovyle, and he's back to the grind. For all his grace and finesse, he can certainly hurl a boulder with the best of the brutes. We've also been experimenting with using Rock Tomb to alter the terrain around us into something more favorable. Since Grovyle can speed along and change direction on a dime, additional obstacles aren't really a concern for him. Another interesting application we've tried testing is using the stones generated by Rock Tomb as shields of sorts. Due to his unfamiliarity with Rock TE, the stones aren't exactly the most sturdy, so that one's on the back burner for now, but it's always a possibility for the future."

"In regards to all of his other abilities, Grovyle continues to excel and push himself to newer and greater heights... I really hope I'm not making a mistake by deciding to let him participate in the upcoming Gym match, but Grovyle needs a win he can be proud of. He's continuing to grow in response to near-daily training and his tailored diet. I believe the typical example of his species is roughly three feet tall, with Grovyle now approaching approximately three-foot-four. His muscle development continues to remain nice and even."

"In other news, I've been modifying the diets and general workout routines of my team. Ninetales' evolution and the potency increase of her psychic abilities have necessitated a drastic increase in her caloric intake. Before her evolution, Ninetales was already eating twenty-two-hundred calories in a standard day, with twenty-six to twenty-seven-hundred on days when we have intense training. Her dietary mixture has changed only a little, though going forward I'm sparing no expense in picking the best ingredients. Her brain is the focal point of her Psychic TE, and I'm taking steps to limit any sort of strain caused by her newfound abilities. Specifically, I want to be sure that Ninetales is getting enough omega-3s, magnesium, calcium, vitamins B1, B9, B12, D, E, and various neural amino acids to promote cognitive health. If Ninetales has a blood-brain barrier similar to other, more common pokemon who utilize psychic powers, then the quality, abundance, and balance of these compounds in her food are paramount... I realize that might be some biology jargon, so let me explain a little."

"Around the brain of most creatures, there is a layer of protective, semipermeable cells that separate the brain from general blood circulation. This is called the blood-brain barrier. These cells are selective in what gets to be transported into the brain, and how much of what gets to go in at once. This is to protect the brain from pathogens and toxins in the blood. I'm simplifying things a lot, otherwise, we'd be here all day. Due to the nature of these cells and the limited amount of compounds they allow to pass at a time, the quality and balance of what is actually going into the brain can make all the difference in the world. If Ninetales wants to hang with the best psychics, then she needs a proper balance of the good stuff. With that in mind, Ninetales had been upped to thirty-three hundred calories on a standard day, and I'm not discounting the possibility of her requiring four thousand or more on an especially intensive day."

"Grovyle's menu has remained largely the same with a few variations for taste. Like Ninetales, his caloric intake is increasing, but it's a slow uptick."

"Octillery needed an especially careful amount of thought put into his diet. As I said before, mammals are where I'm most comfortable, and devising a menu for a cephalopod took some thinking. A standard dish for Octillery is looking to be roughly twenty-eight hundred calories daily spread across two meals. I've selected an array of fatty fish, clams, enriched seaweed, caviar, and crustacean meat served raw with added supplements, Sitrus slivers, and seasoning to taste. This was all selected to try and emulate what his species would eat in the wild, and I think I did a fairly decent job considering he digs into his food with gusto."

"Having to make such a large amount of food each day is becoming laborious, but it's something I do happily. On that note, though, this is going to become a problem with the addition of more team members, especially team members who might be human-sized or larger. I've been looking into the possibility of getting a portable pokeblock maker to produce high-density food... but the ones I actually want, the ones that use Silph space-bending tech to cook and condense high volumes of ingredients all in one go, are so damn expensive... If the check I get from Silph for our TMs bounces, Aarons is a dead man."

"Shinx is pawing at my leg and starting to use her claws, so I better cut this short. My baby here is definitely starting to grow out of her infant phase, as I noticed that she's been more and more interested in the food the rest of the team is eating as time goes on. Her grasp on human speech is getting better and better by the day, and to my chagrin, her emergent personality is… Ugh. She's turning into a troublemaker with her best pals Electrike and Goomy. Oh, baby girl… Stay a cute kitten for a while longer, please?"


"Ah...That's all for this one. Lee, out."

With the last recording over and his aspirin finally kicking in, Nigel grumbles and opens the first document on the email: Lee's notes on Ninetales.

After a brief moment to load, the professor is shown seven scanned pages filled to the brim with notes and anatomical sketches. Ninetales' weight, height, the measurements of all her limbs—tails included—and countless other details are written in small, excited lettering. Lee must have burned through half a pen of ink in his haste to put every single thought in his head on these pages. He even went as far as to sketch the fox's rough skeletal structure, noting that everything was done by hand and shouldn't be considered accurate... then he wrote down that each of Ninetales' tails has exactly sixty vertebrae and that he counted the bones in each tail by touch alone.

There is practically no one else on the face of the earth that could get away with touching every single one of a Ninetales' tails and live. The Academic Board is going to have an absolute heyday with this.

Moving on down, Nigel opens up the updated 'wanted list'.

No particular order. Wanted for battle/research/both

Latias/Latios - Wishful thinking
Hippowdon (Maybe)
Alolan Vulpix/Ninetales (Clear with Ninetales first)

Some were removed, some added, which was all pretty well in line with what Nigel was expecting. But at the same time… "Really shooting for the stars there, Lee," Nigel clicks his tongue, focusing on the name 'Zoroark'. "I don't think a Zoroark has been publicly seen in decades. Finding a Latios would be easier."

Nigel glances over at his desk phone with a grimace. Reluctantly, he reaches over, picks up the receiver, and slowly dials a number he knows by heart, but sorely wishes he didn't. Holding the phone up to his ear, it rings once, twice then—

"Yo! If it isn't Nigel boy himself!" A chipper voice, one forced to speak loudly through the din of what is obviously a party in the background, addresses him by name. "You never call! What's the occasion? I'm here at the LaGoodra, a little place I had built just a stone's throw away from the Battle Tower! Do you want in? I can arrange for an air taxi to be in Littleroot in twenty minutes! Best Salamence-sized hangover of your life!"

"Scott, can you cut the crap for five minutes?" The professor grumbles. "I've got a study I should be preparing for, I can't goof off to hang out at a sports bar you built on a whim."

"The LaGoodra is a sophisticated establishment that happens to serve a good drink to enthusiastic clientele. It's not a sports bar," Scott scoffs.

'Right. Sure…'

"Anyway, what can I do for the esteemed Regional Pokemon Professor?" Scott asks. "You never call me for anything fun," he whines, "so what could it be?"

Nigel grunts. "You recall that study on telepathy that I was talking about a few weeks back? The one involving Lee Henson?"

"Sure do!" Nigel can definitely hear Scott's grin. "What a battle he had today, eh? We played it on the big screen in here, and I bet you could hear the cheers from the other side of the Battle Frontier!"

Ignoring Scott's attempt to strike up a longer conversation, Nigel soldiers on. "In light of some new info I've been provided, I don't think the specialists you wanted to loan me will be good enough anymore. Can I borrow Anabel?"

A note from Fuggmann

Below are the names of some patrons who got to view this chapter early and felt like signing it. A huge thanks to them and everyone else who supports this story and everything else I write.

WiseKitsune, speedyzman13, Dicloniuslord, Peter D., Latscry, Remi C, Emil Colby, Malecoda, Emeraldleafeon, That1sungod, Drew6, Arcaryx, Dusks_Lantern, Kurt, Gavinfoxx, Aegi (swaos), Spice_King, Zaphir, Derpydude9001, Nithalys, C&C, AMeek, KingDeDeDe11, Hiniko,

Ciaran Mulllen, TamaleBoi, xydra22 , Moxie, Strongraider101 Siver110, JustALurker, Rakkis157, Planetace, Green0Photon, monoman335, Grey, Moo, Tzeneth, GreenPhoenix, Sazquash, Ash The Kitsune, Nelson, CMDR Dantae, Javidom, Frogsamurai, bleachorange, Murtaugh, TitaniumPhoenix, Straven, Fabhar, ShaRose,Berusella, Chaz, Miho Chan, Timmser, Tyric Gaias, Paul O.K., 7enebriss, MidnightJayguar, Soup, Thelon, Skrubstar, Autocharth, Moonlit Chaser, Drackdan, Lucaman_P, Buff Alex, BrokenOlive, creativityfails, IAmYourKingAndMaster, MintSoul, Berd, Silo, Pgarhwal, Maladictus, Nikolaj K, SleepyKamo, Mephis, M0och, Cat, Cynicals, Tim M., Spasminos

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    a half-thought creative ago

    hijack! because somehow nobodies has hijacked your comment yet, get some rep!

    the reminder about the move gravity being a thing and Lee's move making talent makes me wonder if he [with a talented enough Pokemon as that is half his ability to make moves] could make a gravity based rail gun sort of move? and if such a thing is even possible it could use 2 other TE's! as in producing a projectile [preferably metal or stone] and maybe with the TE programing adding some flying type to make air move out of the way of the projectile and avoid friction slowing it down!

      Spacyjoker1 ago

      More like psychic TE than flying or even electric TE, that sounds more like a blow dart gun than a rail gun(magnets needed for acceleration)

      a half-thought creative ago

      the thing is, gravity is a psychic type move, what i meant is flying being used to move the air to lower fiction, although i guess the assumption that flying TE would allow to do that doesn't make perfect sense.


      edit: i just realized i never said in the original comment that the modifications needed to gravity to make a gun would be to 1 make it effect a much smaller area, and 2 to make it point sideways, which isn't guaranteed to be possible, it feels obvious but that's because i already thought of it i guess?

      Spacyjoker1 ago

      Although near impossible one thing that could be done to do that is maybe ground TE could be used to make it as sheer a surface as possible by condensing I don't know say rock tomb to have it be affected less by friction and also make it more dense. At that point it just turns into a cannon though

      a half-thought creative ago

      smart! with that you'd only need 2 TE's to make such a move work

      but wait, what if barrier could be made into a: 1, moving object, and 2, affected by gravity, then you could have a pure psychic high speed projectile, that does come with the issue of not being effective against dark type pokemon.

      so yeah the 2 type version works better even if it means the main fox wont be able to use it.

      unless its a 2 mon move? like our grass lizard and fire fox working together to destroy an enemies defense.

      edit: actually octillery can learn both psychic and rock moves, so depending on if pokemon in this story can learn moves they aren't explicitly allowed to learn in the games then he could do the gravity cannon!

    UndeadFoxxy ago

    Have some rep for the hijack

    I think Lee would have a wonderful time if he got some time to interact with a Mew and it's control of TE, he could find out so many things because of it

j0nn0 ago


*edit* Ninetales puts up yet another flag. Either way it goes, it’ll be amusing. 

*editx2* I pop back into the comments again and i find it amusing how the topic readily steers towards pokephilia every time intimacy is even hinted at. Feel free to tack on here or join the numerous recurring comment threads below, but I’ve mostly said my piece in previous chapters and i feel it bears repeating occasionally - intimacy is about knowing and being known by another. It is a bond, a closeness between two or more participants in knowing the other. Intimacy isn’t just sex, though it is often equated with or during the sex. 

Sex can be an act of pleasure, communication (intimacy), power, or a myriad of other relationships. Meanwhile intimacy is more accurately defined as a gradient of closeness between two parties. The following cover some of the more general categories but there are plenty more -  you can be strangers (no intimacy), enemies (intimate but negatively so), acquaintances (neutrally being aware of and recognizing eachother), friends (knowing more of eachother such as likes/dislikes and other stuff while enjoying eachother’s company), best friends (more of the prior with higher valuations), family (varies due to familial circumstance but it can range from deadbeat father to dad of the year, you get the gist)…

Then there’s Lee and Ninetale’s relationship. They are so closely bonded, so intimate with eachother’s being, that they are more akin to halves of a whole in the truest sense. Should one lose the other, their own psyche, their sense of individuality, could be irrevocably shattered with how much of eachother they now embody. In that light, what is sex but a mere act of the flesh when their own mentalities can meld as one, where one’s mind becomes nigh indistinguishable from the other?

Bobbles ago

That big dumb bird is SUPER going to Pokemon jail.

    SunnyShim ago

    Was somewhat hoping to see a possible zorua or zoroark in the team since first found this story. Always loved it and is one of my favourites and could be pretty interesting with its personality and traits. Not likely to find one is Hoenn though.



McPedro ago


Love the wanted list of pokemon, too, wonder who's going to be next to join the team.  Come on, Kangaskhan!

    Pandemonious_Ivy ago

    +1 Kangaskhan. (Or Ursaring, for similar archetype coverage)

    Mammalian- so fits Lee's general specialty- but different enough in physiology that there's still plenty to learn/experiment with. More than that, this latest fight shows that he really needs some bulk on the team. If Corvi comes back narratively as the "knight tank" then Kanga/Ursa can fit as the more "berserker tank" build.

    Also Ursaring opens up the slim but distant possibility of an Ursaluna appearance, which could be all sorts of thrilling depending on execution.

      Tread Carefully ago

      For a bruiser, how about a Bewear?

      Honestly, I'm still stuck on Mienshao. It's always been on his list, and it can abuse the hell out of Baton Pass since it can learn moves to raise literally every stat and gets the Regenerator ability. He could just make his own bruiser mid-battle!   For that matter, make two!

      After Wattson ticked him off so much with his Agility → Baton Pass trick, I think that'd be absolutely perfect for him.

      Fuiren ago

      Second league season over in Unova? Get that Meinfoo and a Zorua while at it? (There is that population of Zoruark nearby the victory road area in Unova, and a couple populations of Mienshao.)

Juppie ago



I'm a little surprised Lee doesn't want a smeargle for research. I guess the ditto works just as well.

Other team options speculation:



Alolan sandslash



Alolan Golem

    Fuiren ago

    Huh, Alolan golem would be fascinating actually, and his first “elemental” mon that has very different biology.

    Gold Aegis ago

    Aggron is my favorite Pokémon, I would be so down for Lee hopping back to the valley quick to grab an Aron or Lairon

      Yohao ago

      Lee had two opportunitied to get an Aron/Lairon/Aggron, so I don't think he'll get one, which is sad, it's a really interesting pokemon.

      Golem at least is kind of a tortoise, they might have some kind of biological similarities at least lol

      Nidoking/queen would be nice, it's my favourite Gen1 pokemon, but I don't Lee would be too comfortable with a poison type, he already had some reservations in using Gunk Shot in Octillery's fight against Arcanine, so having poison as the one of the main weapons of a pokemon probably wouldn't be too attractive for Lee.

      I would like to know why Lee wants a Persian and a Purrloin/Liepard they are nice but hardly would be on my list to get if I got isekaied in the pokemon world.

      Hippowdon would be nice ! They have a special place in my heart cause it was my first shiny I ever caught without any cheat code lmao

      And Galvantula is an absolutely must have in my book, they are so cute !!! I would also add Charjabug/Vikavolt as well.


      Zecheos ago

      The persian and liepard lines are felines and so is Lee's speciality and he is fond of them.

      Arkus0 ago

      Personally I think the og Persian is fricking awesome and would love to have one if I got isekaid

      Steelflame ago

      He was a big cat specialist, Persian/Liepard are basically physiologically as close to a big cat from our world as possible, being near analogues to earth Cougars/Lepards. They also don't have any "extreme" biological copmonents, like fire sacs or photosynthetic cells or whatever crap a pokemon can end up with that defines them to having a type other than normal. For any single pokemon who'd most accurately represent the translation of his Earth expertise into how it translates to a pokemon, they would do so, and as a result, show a benchmark comparison of what a normal Persian/Liepard vs HIS would be like, showing explicitly the value of his research field.

      Juppie ago

      I'm pretty sure he wants the Persian and a Purrloin/Liepard because they are big cats. And he worked with tigers. And he does really like the swift agile melee combatant.

      I tried to give some big wall options and aggron is one of them that hasn't a terrible character, but i still can see have a very combative nature. Also it's just really cool.

      Galvantula would give him so area hazards he lacks

    Linksxdx ago

    I would honestly add lavatar to that list and maybe dratini both have heavy hitting evolutions and in lavatar’s case would be a weird as hell Pokémon to work out since it’s 2nd state follows insects more than mammals

Tread Carefully ago

A pokemon trained by either Lee or Brendan would quickly rise to the spot of ranch Alpha and keep the peace. He can already imagine a Swampert's bellow and a ground-shaking thud putting an end to any drama.

While Nigel thought of the Mudfish Pokemon, given that most of the lab is in a tizzy over the battle that aired in Lavaridge today, he knows Matt's thoughts are probably focused on a certain golden fox.

Why would they be fantasizing about their aces being at the ranch? What circumstances could possibly lead to Brandan or Lee travelling without them?

In fact, I think the only stones more expensive are Dawn Stones, which only form naturally during the nightless summers of the north pole, and only on the very tops of specific mountains at that."

Hehe, looks like Corvi's going to be stirring up a lot more trouble than he thought  

    GhostlyLight ago

    I present to you Ash Ketchum. Yes he keeps Pickachu around, but he routinely leaves his pokemon when he changes leagues. His Charizard alone would stomp most Gyms unless they got serious. And you could motivate him for five minutes.

    It is apparently very common to leave some of your pokemon, when you switch leagues, even your aces.

    Though yeah personally I rarely change out my starter for anything else, it is good to have as a security measure

      Tread Carefully ago

      And Grovyle → Sceptile will eventually be able to stomp plenty of gyms by himself. But Grovyle isn't Lee's "ace," let alone his starter, and they aren't switching leagues anytime soon anyway.

      Imagining Ninetales or Marshtomp being sent there is just a completely irrational fantasy to have. It'd make WAY more sense to fantasize about Mawile Intimidating (or seducing) troublemakers into behaving themselves.

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