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Generated: May 15, 2019 11:56 PM
Post last updated: May 15, 2019 11:56 PM
if the moon walks out, the sky will understand
Fabulous Dusk in Pokemon Alola
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It's night, and Dusk is flying; she needs to return this library book before bed, and she's left it until the last minute, trying to read as much as she can before she turns it back in, but now she really does need to give it back and go to sleep.

Suddenly there's a huge golden ring hovering in the air in front of her, filled with a weird rippling pink-purpleness; she tries to stop, but that's hard, in midair, and there's not enough room to dodge, either.

She goes through, and she's in the air above an unfamiliar island.

The library isn't going to get its book back on time, looks like.

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As soon as she goes through the portal, it vanishes behind her as though it had never been there. The sun is still up, as though just before sunset, and the air is pleasantly warm. The sky is clear and cloudless, although she can see some unfamiliar birds off in the distance if she looks. The sea sparkles a brilliant aquamarine, and the faint taste of salt can be tasted at the edge of every breath. There's a couple of buildings by the beach, and a path heading off further into the island, but that's all she can see from her vantage point. 

Even if she looks all around here, there's no sign of whatever transported her here.

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She does look around, not expecting much, and then swoops down to the buildings on the beach.

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She lands in front of a wooden house. It's got a pine-green roof with solar panels, and a decorative red fence. Around it are a couple of smaller outbuildings, and there's a hard-packed trail between them. No one seems to be outside, but that's hardly a surprise given the hour. There are lights on inside showing through the square pane windows, and voices talking within.

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She knocks on the door.

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There is the sounds of a chair moving, and then footsteps. The door opens, and beyond it stands a man in a lab coat, cap, and green-framed sunglasses. It looks a bit ridiculous, but it doesn't clash as horribly as one might expect from the description alone.

"Hey there! Good afternoon! I'm professor Kukui. Can I help you?"

He says it easily, with a smile on his face. Behind him, if Dusk looks closely, is an aquarium with several odd and colorful species of fish swimming within.

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She blinks, a little startled at the outfit, but recovers quickly enough.

She's sorry about the interruption, but she was just teleported here and is going to need help getting home; can he tell her how to get to the police, or whoever she should talk to about it?

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If he looks surprised by her appearance, it doesn't show. The telepathy, though, that one gets a small reaction. 

"The police would definitely be the ones to talk to if you were teleported against your will. If you want, I'd be happy to lend you my Pokédex to make a call, but they have a station up in Ike town if you want to speak with them in person."

Permalink Eye

...she doesn't know what a Pokédex is, but if it's like a phone she can't use it, she can't talk the regular way. She should be able to find the town if he points her in the right direction, though.

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"Ike town's just up to the northwest of here, thataway. If you can't use a normal phone, though..." He trails off for a moment, thoughtful, and then turns to look back into the house.

"Lillie, do you remember where I put the Rotomdex?"

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"It's in your room. Just a moment, I'll go grab it." It sounds like a young girl's voice, which is proven accurate a few seconds later when she emerges carrying an oddly shaped red plastic-and-glass contraption with what looks like eyes and feet.

"Here it is, Professor."

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"Great!" he says, sounding pleased. Turning back to Dusk, he says "If you want to make a call, Rrotom should be able to understand your telepathy without a problem."

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"I'll be at your service! Zzt!"

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Um?

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"Wait, professor, did you really just tell me to get them without explaining anything at all?"

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"Hey now! Sorry 'bout that, miss. Guess I surprised you? See, there's this Pokémon inside your Pokédex called Rotom... It's the next generation of Pokédexes, but it's only complete once Rotom has gone into this body specially developed for it! It's a whole new way to communicate. I was so excited, I forgot that there's only a few of these beauties out in the world so far."

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...what's a Pokémon.

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"Rotom is! It doesn't usually look like that, though, it's a Ghost-type Pokémon hiding out inside the Pokédex."

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And out of the Pokédex rises... something. The Rotom, apparently.

"Zzt! Rotom, Rotom!"

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It sinks back into the Pokédex, and then says "Zzt! That's me, Rotom!"

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And they, what, have a magical girl who makes those, or something? She guesses she might not have heard about that.

She should probably just go talk to the police, though. It's very late where she was, she's pretty tired.

Permalink Eye

"No, there's no magic needed. Even Ghost-types like Rotom here have eggs with a ditto involved. I think this guy here's from Unova? If you don't want to though, that's fine; I guess it would be weird to try to use a phone for the first time in a crisis. Have a safe trip."

Permalink Eye

What a weird guy.

She takes off and heads in the indicated direction.

Permalink Eye

The sun is just starting to pull below the horizon, and it dyes the entire sky a brilliant red-orange. Despite this, it's still bright enough to make out Ike town even without the lights, and from there the police station is fairly simple to spot. There's some more of those strange seabirds from earlier, but nothing bothers her as she flies.

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She lands outside the police station and heads in.

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A couple of people on the street turn to look at her, surprised.

"Hello!" Says the receptionist at the desk. "How can I help you?"

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She got teleported here a little while ago - maybe fifteen or twenty minutes, not long - and she needs someone to call Winona for her and help getting home. And someplace to sleep, it was late at night where she was, she's pretty tired.

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The woman nods, types something onto her computer, then pick up a phone off the desk. "What's her number?"

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339-555-9618, and please tell her Dusk is okay but got teleported here.

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The call rings through to voicemail, and it's not the one dusk recognizes. It sounds sorta like Winona, but the name is different and the voicemail message isn't at all what she remembers it being set to.

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She interrupts before the receptionist can speak: That's not her, must be a wrong number.

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"You sure it was the right number? That's 339-555-9618?"

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Yeah - yawn - that's it, it's easy to remember 'cause it's all multiples of three.

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"Well, unconsenting teleportation is still a crime. Are there any details you remember; did you catch which Pokémon they used to transport you, or did you see anyone nearby who could have been the trainer?"

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She has no idea what a pokemon is, but she didn't see anybody around on either side. There was a portal thing, it looked like this and appeared in the middle of the air right in front of her.

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The woman blinks confusedly at the first part, but sees the outfit Dusk is wearing and nods to herself. "It'd be more helpful if you were willing to break character, but we shouldn't need it for a simple report. I've never heard of a Pokémon move like that, much less one capable of teleporting you that far. I'll put out a notice and see if any of the other branches have heard of anything of the sort."

She thinks back, and then continues, "The Pokécenter should have some rooms open. We don't have that many visitors in the spring for the island trial. Take a left on main street, walk 3 blocks, and it's on the right. You can't miss it."

Permalink Eye

...okay. She'll come back in the morning and maybe they can get some of the confusing stuff straightened out then. Thanks.

She switches to her moth wings before heading out to look for the Pokécenter.

Permalink Eye

Once more, she gets more than a few odd looks on the street, but its a fairly quiet town and no one actually goes so far as to comment on her appearance.

Just like the receptionist said, there's no missing it. It's large, red, and has the words "Pokémon Center" proudly emblazoned on the front.

 

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She goes in.

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The lobby is fairly empty, but there are some groups conversing on benches and tables. They have out exotic animals; strange birds and rats and - wow, that's an enormous butterfly. A bit odd looking, too. At the front desk, there's a person with something similar to a nurse's outfit; her nametag proudly proclaims her to be "Nurse Joy." Next to her is a strange, pink and white creature that seems stuffed until it moved.

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She can't help staring a little, but shakes herself out of it after a moment and approaches the desk.

Hi - she was teleported here a little while ago, and it's the middle of the night where she's from and she's very tired, and the lady at the police office said she could sleep here?

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"Certainly! Let's see... room 13 is free." She reaches behind the desk, pulls out a keycard with the number 13 on it, and hands it over. "Your telepathy and costume are quite impressive."

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Thanks.

She finds room thirteen and flops directly into bed, making a blanket for herself rather than bothering with the covers. She's up at a reasonable hour in the morning, and goes back to the lobby to see if they serve breakfast here or she's going to have to figure something out by herself.

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They do! It's nothing fancy - some cereals, a waffle machine, eggs - but it is, apparently, free and available to everyone.

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A bowl of cereal and some eggs later, she heads back to the police station.

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In the day, there are plenty of people on the streets, and not all of them are perfectly polite; there's definitely some muttering and gossip, although most don't seem mean-spirited at a cursory listen.

At the police station, there's a different receptionist, but he seems to have been briefed by his coworker.

"There aren't any reports of that kind of a teleportation move on record, but getting anything beyond the standard pop is rare enough that that's hardly surprising. I put out a notice; if any further cases pop up in the United States, we'll know about it."

Permalink Eye

Okay.

This is - maybe pretty weird - but she's not actually sure this is the same world she was in. She's never heard of pokemon before and the people here have really weird pets and also it's kind of strange for people to stare at magical girls as much as people have been staring at her. And Winona's phone number didn't work.

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"You... 'don't know' what a Pokémon is, because you're a magical girl from another world with an unheard-of teleportation move. Of course the psychic with the crazy cosplay outfit is part of a prank. Look, I get it, you want to have some fun, I was a kid. But don't waste police time and resources on it, please. It's the story of the boy who cried Houndoom; the more resources we have to spend on people who mess around, the less we have whenever people actually get in trouble."

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...okay.

She goes back to the Pokecenter and asks the nurse how long she can stay, and whether there's a library around someplace that she can use.

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"There's no time limit, although we will be getting more crowded in a month or so when the summer trainer rush starts to hit Memelene. The library is 3 blocks south on main street, then turn onto Oavenuenue for 2 blocks; it's on the left, with the green rooftop."

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Thanks.

Library. Is it crowded? A bored librarian is usually good for even weird questions.

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It's a nice warm spring day, and more importantly for those in academia, it's morning. The library has only a few guests.

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She looks for a reference desk or, failing that, just whoever's manning the checkout.

Hi! She has some kind of weird questions, can the librarian help her?

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There's just the checkout. The librarian looks maybe 19 or so and has a cup of coffee in front of them, but despite clearly not being a morning person they're not unfriendly. He startles for a moment at the telepathy, but rights himself then replies.

"Certainly. What can I help you with?"

 

Permalink Eye

She got teleported here last night, and she's not sure she's in the same world she was to start with, and she needs to figure out how things work here. Maybe starting with 'what's a pokemon' and 'do you really not have magical girls here' but there might be other stuff, she's not sure yet.

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"Okay, I definitely don't have enough coffee for this, it's way too early in the morning. Um. For the first one, you'd want "The Evolution of Species" by Professor Rowan and "Sinnoh Myths and Legends" by Champion Cynthia and Professor Carolina, for starters? Or maybe some children's, books, depending? And I have no idea where our works on magical girls would be, or even what one would be."

Permalink Eye

She's a magical girl. You can tell by the fact that she looks almost but not quite human, and also the part where she's using magic to talk. If he's never heard of them before that's pretty good proof that they don't have them and she's in a different world, they're not that rare in hers.

She should probably start with the childrens' books; can he recommend something?

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"The Children's section is over thataway. It's been a while since I had to recommend anything over there. Maybe 'Cock-a-doodle-do, dodou?'"

He takes a swig of coffee, then starts. "Wait, what do you mean, from another world? Like what DevonCorp was developing? That's not just an elaborate costume, you really aren't just a psychic? I..."

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She's never heard of DevonCorp but yeah, she's really from another world. Here, watch - she changes her wings from moth style to owl, and changes her skirt and the ruffles of her sleeves from starry indigo to sunset orange.

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“I. Uh. Wow. Do you mind if I..” he says, pullling a red and white sphere off his belt.

Then he frowns, and corrects himself. “Do you mind if I send out my Noctowl to look for illusions? It’s uh, bird - birds are Pokémon with feathers - about a foot and a half high. And I should probably find a Dark-type Pokémon, to prove you aren’t an ordinary psychic; Dark-type Pokémon are conventionally immune to all Psychic-type attacks. Maybe a Rattata?”

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She's not going to attack anybody, but, sure? She has another spell, and she's a little curious whether that will count as an illusion, but her clothes and wings aren't.

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He presses a button on the sphere, and out comes a red shape, which quickly fades into another one of these strange animals. “Come on out, Hoot. See through any illusions with a foresight.” 

”Owl, Owl, Noct.” Obediently,  the brown bird’s eyes glow, but it then turns quizically towards the librarian. “Noctowl?”

“Uh. Wow. It’s really not an illusion?”

”Noctowl Noct.”

He seems a little faint. “Uh. Wow. I’m so not qualified for this.”

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Well, she tried talking to the police and they thought it was a prank, so it seems to her like he's doing pretty well so far.

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He’s silent for a moment, and closes his eyes. Then he opens, them, and shakes his head. ”Nope, not dreaming. I can never manage to do math in those. Uh. Welcome to Alola?”

He seems kinda shaken, but he’s still more than capable of getting her some books. When he arrives at the children’s section, something clicks, and instead of toddler books he pulls something from a bit older age category, titled ‘So you want to be a Pokémon Trainer.’

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She thanks him, and finds someplace to sit.

So, what do people who want to be pokemon trainers need to know?

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About Pokémon, apparently!

So, you want to be a Pokémon Trainer, huh? Chances are, you're coming up on your 11th birthday, and you're so excited you just can't wait another minute to get started on your island trial. Still, before you get started, there are some things you need to know!

Index:

Chapter 1. How do I catch a Pokémon?

Chapter 2. What kinds of Pokémon are there?

Chapter 3. Why can I only have 6 Pokémon?

Chapter 4. Why can't I use this Pokémon in a battle?

Chapter 5. The Island Challenge.

Chapter 6. Pokémon in a everyday life.

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"How do I catch a Pokemon" is a little concerning. She skims that chapter, just enough to confirm that it is what it says it is, and then skips to the next one.

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The chapter on catching Pokémon talks a lot about how to properly throw pokéballs, but surprisingly also mentions that you should stick to capturing Pokémon near trails, as the ones further out tend to not want anything to do with people! There's some detail on guessing where you might find certain types of Pokémon, but it cautions that Pokédexes are generally better than books

There are 18 documented types of Pokémon! Arranged alphabetically, they are: Bug, Dark, Dragon, Ice, Fairy, Fighting, Fire, Flying, Grass, Ghost, Ground, Electric, Normal, Poison, Psychic, Rock, Steel, and Water. According to the book, all Pokémon have 1 or two types, and have an easier time learning and using attacks (or moves) of their type! It also gives a helpful chart of their relative strengths and weaknesses.

It talks a bit about common traits, but from the way it's phrased it should be clear that this is in fact a vast oversimplification.

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And it just takes as given that the most important thing about pokemon is how they fight; that's kind of disturbing.

She reads on.

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The book seems to consider it such obviously basic knowledge that it's not worth explaining, but a moderately attentive reading of the work and the examples it chooses for its explanations will make it fairly clear that this book is primarily concerned with people who seek to become Pokémon trainers, which as described in the book appears to be a particularly popular sport that also segues into a few related careers like ranger, police officer, field research, and gym trainers, whatever those are. There are no examples from the military, but whether that's because this is a kids book, because wars are different here, or if they have a genuinely different career path is not particularly obvious.

According to the book, the reason is complex politics, although it will gloss over many of the details! 

A few hundred years ago, most countries didn't have any limitation on the number of Pokémon! This was because up until about 500 years ago, having more than one or two pokemon that you personally befreinded was basically unfeasable due to the primativety of apricorn carving (the earliest forms of Pokéballs) at the time and lack of modern food supplies. As such, they were largely unprepared for the troubles of the time, where people would capture and imprison whole groups of pokemon, and force them to do their bidding. The nobles of many nations would often have entire armies at their beck and call. 

However, multinational cooperations between ethical and practical reform groups ended up changing that. It was horrible for the Pokémon involved, and contributed to the ability of evil elites to opress the average citizens. They rolled out the reforms by vote and law in willing countries, and soon the limits spread to the entire world. While some groups resisted for a while, even rare and powerful Pokémon are less powerful than normal ones if the latter are willingly cooperating and willingly trained, not to mention being more difficult to obtain. 

The limit of 6 Pokémon isn't a universal one, but it's standard for most of the world, including all of America. Setting the limit at 6 Pokémon helps ensure that people don't capture more pokemon than they can care for and get along with. Most people, even including many trainers, won't ever reach this limit, and instead focus on working to help few of their best freinds draw out all of their potential!

It scrupulously avoids going far into details, but this case it seems far more clearly to be because of the intended age range (7-10, the cover helpfully adds).

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Well, that's better than it could be, apparently.

Next?

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There are many reasons that you can't use a Pokémon in a battle, and while most are self explanatory, many people don't see them coming ahead of time.

By far the most common reason you wouldn't be allowed to use a Pokémon is if they're too young. Even if they want to battle, you aren't allowed to use them in any match with monetary stakes, and there are strict rules for what kinds of training matches are allowed.

The next most common are Sky and Water battles. In these, only Pokémon capable of navigating the terrain are allowed, which rules out many common groundbound pokemon that people often rely on for advantages, including most Electric-type Pokémon.

Some tournament formats also have limitations on what Pokémon are allowed to compete. It's generally not overly obvious except at high levels of competition, but not all Pokémon are equally powerful, so some leagues try and ensure that every Pokémon species has a place where it can compete!

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Straightforward.

What's "The Island Challenge"?

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The island challenge is is a tradition of the Alolan Archipelago. It's a coming of age ceremony for Pokémon Trainers, and can be begun at age older than 11. The goal of the challenge is to become the strongest trainer on the archipelago, but in modern times it's more of a rite of passage. In it trainers travel all 4 of the islands, and complete various trials before challenging the trial captain. Not all of the challenges are Pokémon battles, but they all test valuable skills for Pokémon trainers like survival, item location, and tracking. Often, these trials involve testing some skill against powerful Totem Pokémon. After the trials are complete, participating trainers face off against the island Kahuna.

Participating candidates are given a special amulet to indicate their ongoing participation. 

Permalink Eye

Huh, interesting.

Obviously only one person can be the strongest trainer on the archipelago at a time; does the book say anything about ending the challenge in other ways?

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Yeah, it mentions that people can drop out at any time, but that most serious trainers tag out after defeating all four Kahuna and then losing to the final trial. The final trial takes place on Mount Lanakila, where they have to defeat all four Kahuna's in a row without them holding back. If they succeed, they are acknowledged as an island challenge champion, where they either go on to further challenges or attempt to challenge the current ranking island champion for the title of #1.

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Makes sense.

And, arguably the most interesting chapter: Pokemon in Everyday Life.

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Despite the name, it's not principally concerned with civilian use of Pokémon, although it does sort of touch on them; instead, it mostly just talks about the Pokéride system as used by Pokémon Trainers in Alola.

Tauros are one of the most popular Pokérides available, and for good reason. Tauros are extremely fast and strong enough that wild Pokémon usually won't mess with them, which makes them ideal for getting around on land in a hurry, and they can smash through many obstacles in an emergency situation. they aren't the easiest Pokémon in the world to ride, but the ones available for rides go through special training, so unless you hurt them or they get badly spooked it's very rare for riders to fall off.

Stoutland aren't as fast of Pokérides as Tauros, but they are easier to ride on and have better senses, so they're very helpful for tracking down items - especially rare herbs or mushrooms. They also tend to be less noisy and intimidating, so they won't scare away wild Pokémon if you want to encounter them on the trip.

Mudsdale are perhaps the rarest land-based ride. They're extraordinarily easy to ride, but they're not that much faster than a human, so they tend to only get called upon when a trainer needs help carrying a heavy load or the terrain makes other rides impossible. Thanks to their earthen nature and high defense, Mudsdale can easily traverse even the sharpest and most dangerous grounds without injury.

Lapras are the primary water-based transportration Pokémon, and for good reason. While they're only native to the region during the summer, they can easily survive year round with food and several pods have lived in the archipelago full time for hundreds of years. They are very smooth swimmers, and can readily carry reasonably heavy objects across water for hours on end. Their high intelligence also makes it much easier for them to understand complex directions and means they almost never lose track of where they are on long journeys even if their rider gets completely lost.

Sharpedo aren't as easy to ride as Lapras, and have difficulties with extremely long trips, but in terms of fast travel they can't be beaten over water. Unencumbered, their ability to jet seawater out of their back allows them to propell themselves to speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour, and a single human's weight is not enough to seriously encumber that.

While they're rather rare as Flying-type Pokémon go thanks to their large diet, relatively late maturity, and small clutch sizes, Charizard is one of the most powerful fliers in the world, and the skybound transportation of choice for most of Alola. Most Flying-type Pokémon re stronger than they look, but even with the aid of the "Fly" HM, smaller birds such as Pelliper and Toucannon have issues with carrying a human being for very long. Charizards have no such issue, and are generally more both stronger and calmer than their main flight-based competion in Alola, Fearow. Their draconic ancestry allows them to easily keep riders warm even in cold air, such as those near Alola's mountain peaks.

People don't usually ride on Machamp, but they are still a standard part of the Pokéride system in Alola. Machamp are extremely strong, making them well poised for lifting objects. They, much like humans, are bipedal, so a path cleared by a machamp is almost always safe for Human transit, and they are well equipped to deal with falling rocks, cave-ins, or blocked paths.

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Huh, okay. That's not really relevant to her, but she does take note of the fact that they don't have as much flying capacity as they'd like, so she might be able to get a job doing that.

She returns the book to a cart to be shelved and goes back to the checkout desk.

Permalink Eye

It’s been a little while; the librarian is back at the front desk, but he’s got another coffee and he’s reading something on a tablet.

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She goes up and taps on the desk, that being somewhat less startling than unexpected telepathy.

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Whatever it is he’s reading, he’s fairly engrossed and doesn’t respond instantly.

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She gives him a bit, and then taps again. (She really doesn't want that coffee to end up on the tablet.)

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He doesn’t hear that either, but he then takes a sip of his coffee and sees her. After he finishes his drink. He sets both down.

”Hey, what else can I help you with. Was that what you were looking for?”

Permalink Eye

It was helpful, yeah. She's not really sure what to do next, though - she's not sure whether it's likely enough that the police can help her get home that she should be trying to figure out how to convince them that it's a real problem, or whether there's something else to try, or whether she should just be figuring out how to get by here. She does want to go home if she can.

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He shakes his head. “I’ve been reading through news and journal articles, but the only thing I’ve been able to track down about travelling between universes is some highly theoretical treatises way above my physics and math education and some work by Devon Corp with something called infinity energy that they were planning to use on the meteor last year before they found another solution. It’s not impossible that someone else is sitting on something that they aren’t ready to publish, but I have no idea how I’d go about finding anything out about that.”

He frowns, pausing to think for a moment. “The university here isn’t exactly cutting edge, and it’s not like there are any companies like Devon Corp based around here that might have a division on the topic. The only people with that kind of resources to throw around are the Aether Foundation, and they’re principally a Pokémon rights organization. If you want to be taken seriously and the police can’t get you in touch with anyone, you probably want to talk to Professor Kukui.”

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The guy in the house on the beach? He was okay, she might just go talk to him unless there's a good reason to try the police again first.

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“You’ve already met him? Yeah, he can be a bit eccentric, but he’s a world famous scientist; he’s almost singlehandedly responsible for putting Memelene island on the map. He’s usually fairly busy, but with something like this he’d at least know who to go to.”

Permalink Eye

That sounds like a good place to start, then.

She'll be back probably tomorrow or the next day, if Professor Kukui doesn't happen to be able to get her home right away, if he thinks of anything else she should know or anything. She really appreciates the help.

Permalink Eye

“It’s not a problem. Hardly how I expected my morning to go, but I haven’t been this excited in a while.”

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She heads out and flies back to the beach. Knock knock?

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The door opens.

”Oh, hi, how can I help you?”

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Hi, uh, she's looking for Professor Kukui but if he's busy she might be okay too? She has a weird problem and the librarian she asked about it suggested she try here.

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“If it’s a problem specifically for my husband, I probably won’t be much use, since he I have different areas of focus, but I’m willing to try. Worst case scenario, I can pass on a message.”

She blinks, and then continues.

”Er, you can hear me, you don’t need me to think loudly back, right?”

Permalink Eye

Yeah, she can hear her.

This is a very weird problem, and people keep thinking it's a prank, but she can prove it if she needs her to - she was teleported here last night from another world; hers doesn't have pokemon and has magical girls instead. She needs help getting home, or at least figuring out whether she can get home.

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The woman looks briefly annoyed, then she brightens up, and it’s blatantly clear she’s fighting a losing battle contain her excitement. “Well, even if they didn’t know, you’ve come to the right place. Interplanar transit is my specialty; I head a division of researchers at the Dimensional Research Lab over in Heahea city. We tend to deal more with Ultra Space, but I’m sure we can figure something out. Do you have any idea how you got teleported?”

Permalink Eye

Awesome.

There was a giant ring, looked like this, appeared in midair right in front of her. She couldn't stop fast enough and went through it and then she was here; there wasn't anybody around on either side that she saw. If that's the kind of thing a pokemon could do, it was probably a pokemon; it's not literally impossible that it was a magical girl's spell but spells aren't usually that powerful and it'd be really weird for one to target her like that, she's not anybody special. 

Permalink Eye

“That’s almost certainly a Pokémon, then. I’ve never heard of that particular kind of portal, but...” She pauses, pulls out a tablet, and fiddles with it for a moment. “It looks awfully like a more stable version of an Ultra Wormhole,” she says, turning the tablet towards Dusk, “and whatever Pokémon is behind it is almost certainly a legendary of some sort, and our knowledge on those can be spotty. It sounds like the work of Palkia, but I’ve never seen that before, so for all I know it could just be some undiscovered Pokémon from yet another universe.”

Permalink Eye

She still doesn't know much about pokemon, but sure, that sounds plausible enough to her. What does that mean about her chances of getting back?

Permalink Eye

“It’s hard to tell without specialized equipment, but I know what I would say given certain results. Best case scenario, your home universe is readily adjacent to ultra space and we can probably get you a temporary portal home within the week. More plausibly, it’s a whole different set of universes, and we need to get some specialized equipment together; it might also be neccesary to search by trial and error for a bit. If that’s true, Devon Corp might be able to help us out, but they’re markedly more cagey about the details of their wormhole now that the threat of the meteor is less imminent, and we’re looking at months.

If you’re less lucky, we might have to hire some people to track down whoever sent you here, which seems likely to involve finding a way to get someone to the spear pillar who can get Palkia’s attention, which is supposedly pretty hard at the best of times but if it really sent you here it might have an interest. That’s not my forte, I honestly how no idea how long that would take and it might depend on what Pokémon sent you. Worst case scenario, Arceus forbid, is that something strong is blocking off travel to your home universe and nothing we can do will send you home. The fact that you arrived here makes that pretty unlikely, and as far as I’m aware only Arceus could stop it if Palkia got involved, but theology is hardly my strong suit and I definitely don’t know how it relates to interdimensional wormholes. Scriptures don’t tend to talk much about that, for some reason.”

Permalink Eye

She'll probably be okay for a few months. That's a long time to leave Winona and Julie thinking she ran away or something, but it doesn't sound like it'd be easier to get a message there than it would be to get her there, is that right?

Permalink Eye

"It's definitely possible that we might be able to get a portal of some variety sooner than we get one safely traversable by people, so you might be able to send a message, but I doubt our internets or cell services will be cross-compatible and it seems unlikely that whatever location we manage to get open will be ideal for letters."

Permalink Eye

And she doesn't actually have a phone with her, either. Maybe she could just, like, yell, once they have a portal? That's pretty rude to do to random bystanders but it could work.

Permalink Eye

"It would probably be worth a shot, at the very least. I've never heard of a portal coming apart due to psychic powers - Ultra Space portals definitely don't, but those generally also are fine for people to cross. If you want, we could head over now and see what we can figure out!" 

As she finishes saying that, she catches hold of herself, and says, "...And I might have just realized that I didn't even introduce myself, much less offer any proof that I'm as qualified as I say I am. My name's Burnet, if you want to look me up."

Permalink Eye

She'll check her out at the library later but she'd rather go try stuff right now. And her name is Dusk.

Permalink Eye

"It's nice to meet you, Dusk. Would you be comfortable taking a Charizard - er, a large, winged Pokémon, give me a moment and I'll pull up a picture - or should I buy some tickets for a boat? Or, wow! Are those wings functional for flight? I wouldn't assume so, the wingspan wouldn't be large enough for something mechanical, but on a Pokémon they would be and I'm not sure how that paradigm carries over."

Permalink Eye

She can fly with these, yeah. And take a passenger, with her other spell; it makes things, including hot air balloons.

Permalink Eye

"Are your hot air balloons magically fast? It's a fairly long trip even on an express boat, which is why I usually fly or stay overnight."

Permalink Eye

Balloons aren't - like, if she's pulling it it goes as fast as she does, but she's not that fast either. Riding a Charizard will probably be okay.

Permalink Eye

"All right, I'll call us a lift. Unless they're busy, a Charizard should be here in 10 minutes or so, and they're rarely that busy."

Permalink Eye

Cool.

 

Does Professor Burnet want her to explain magical girls or show her her magic or anything, while they wait?

Permalink Eye

"I'd love to hear about it. Honestly, it sounds like it'd align more with Kukui's specialty than mine, unless I misunderstand, but it's not every day you get a chance to learn about extraordinary powers from another world."

Permalink Eye

Okay.

So, magical girls are regular humans who got magic. It's always girls, and always between the ages of eight and sixteen - she got hers a little after her thirteenth birthday and hasn't had it quite a year yet. About one girl in fifty gets magic, and it's pretty much random; it does run in families but only a little bit. The basic magic that all magical girls get is that they can change their appearance however they want; magical girls have to look a certain amount of not-quite-human, and a girl who gets magic isn't a magical girl until she's done that, and then once she has she can't go back. Once she's done that, though, she can change her clothing, too, and she gets her spell or spells, which are different for each girl and always have a theme; Dusk's theme is 'things that aren't quite real', which is pretty abstract as they go - other girls she knows have force and water and art and fire and healing and things like that.

Permalink Eye

"Wow. Feel free to tell me to slow down if I get out of hand; I'm told that can happen sometimes, and this is one of the most fascinating things I've encountered.

"Do you know why it's only girls? As far as we can tell, there aren't any differences between genders that are nearly pronounced enough that I would expect to have a Yes/No disparity; Psychic powers tend to show up slightly more often in females than in men, but that's not usually readily noticeable without doing lots of statistics and is easily confounded by external variables, and while Aura is even rarer and less understood it also shows up in both genders, and we don't know if the observed skew towards male users is even real. That's true for most Pokémon as well; I'm only aware of a handful of  species with notable sexual dimorphism for their capabilities, out of about 800 known species, and even these aren't usually as extreme as what you describe.

"Do you know if the running in families is due to genetic? I assume you don't know the exact cause, but if all magical girls have some special gene that could be fascinating.

"Are the specialties prescriptive, and there's a way of determining what they are, or descriptive?

"How does looking inhuman relate to the magic? Does it matter if the way humans as a whole change how they look?"

Permalink Eye

She doesn't know why it's only girls. It is the case that whatever gives them magic has opinions, though - magical girls' magic gets better or worse depending on how pretty they are, by a standard that isn't their own and is consistent from one girl to the next - so maybe it's something like a person picking who gets magic and they don't like boys, that's a pretty common theory. It might be a little genetic but it's definitely not only that; a magical girl's identical twin has a little over 50% chance of becoming a magical girl too. There are people looking for genes that affect it but as far as she knows they haven't found anything yet.

She doesn't understand the question about specialties. For looking different, it goes based on what someone looked like to start with; it's dangerous to look too far from that. There's plenty of leeway for changing around normal features that any human has, and actually you can't be a magical girl at all if you only make changes that small, but for example a girl who changed what race she looked like would have to be a little more careful than a girl who didn't about what other changes she made, even if they ended up looking the same.

Permalink Eye

“That... is fascinating. If I had lived in your world, I think I definitely would have focused on that, even over the interdream. I have no idea what would cause that, beyond some being’s preferences, and as a scientist that kind of puzzle is almost irresistable.

Let’s see if I can rephrase the question on specialties. How do you learn what your specialty is; is there some way to tell ahead of time the difference between Light and Vision? Or do those kind of overlaps not tend to happen?”

Permalink Eye

She wouldn't expect someone who got a light spell to also get a vision spell, yeah. It could happen, but there'd be a different theme to it instead of either of those, like revealing or something, and both the spells would be tilted toward that.

Permalink Eye

Their ride arrives. Charizard are really quite big; the fire on their tail isn’t even uncomfortably warm near the midsection, and although the scales do radiate some heat of their own the riding gear seams insulating enough.

Permalink Eye

Burnet thanks the Charizard, and receives a perfunctory nod; she climbs on its back with practiced ease.

Permalink Eye

Big.

Hi, can you hear me?

(She follows Professor Burnet, less gracefully and with some flapping of wings; once she's settled she switches to her more-streamlined moth wings.)

Permalink Eye

It might have nodded? It’s hard to tell.

 

Permalink Eye

“Heahea City, please.”

The Charizard flaps its wings, and pushes off the ground. It ascends rapidly, heading off east-southeast. It’s nowhere near as fast as a plane, but it seems to have no difficulty clearing a hundred miles an hour.

Permalink Eye

Dusk tries to keep track of landmarks, insofar as there are any, and otherwise mostly just hangs on.

Permalink Eye

It’s over the water, so there’s not much in the way of landmarks, but even at less than a thousand feet up it’s still possible to see the next island before leaving Memelene totally behind, and the other distance away from any islands is even short than that.

Permalink Eye

She's much happier having the option to get back under her own power than not. Also: pretty.

Permalink Eye

It really is! The ocean is especially nice, and the wind would be a bit chilly if not for the Charizard but with it is quite nice. There are more of the strange seabirds, which by now she can probably guess are Pokémon, but they don’t bother the Charizard or any of its riders

Permalink Eye

 

Did Professor Burnet have any more questions?

Permalink Eye

Some! Most of the rest of what she wants to know about magic seems to clearly run into opportunity costs, most notably given how much more efficient at it she'll be once she has a portal and access to scientific literature from Dusk's homeworld, but she does still have some questions on that and on the differences between the two worlds. She's also trying to make it clear that she's willing to answer questions, but it's surprisingly hard when she has so many things she wants to know and an hour-long flight!

"Aside from Pokémon and magic, what differences have you noticed between the worlds? There's probably plenty more there just isn't context for, but I take it non-magical girls don't tend to have anything like our occasional psychic or aura user? Did democracy catch on for you, too? For us, America, Russia, China and Japan generally counted as the most powerful countries; what kind of political organizations does your world have? Does your magic let you understand me, or did you somehow pick up our spoken language really fast? Do you also make use of your inter-dream zone? Does anyone in your world have any idea how it was created?"

Permalink Eye

Aside from magical girls nobody has magic at all, yeah. Her world has democracy, and she's still a little spotty on history but America is important, and Europe kind of in general; Japan is popular but she doesn't think it's especially powerful. Burnet is speaking the same English she's used to, except for the pokemon references. She's never heard of an inter-dream zone or anything that might get called that, so they probably don't use it at all and might not have one. A lot of people think her world was made by a god - people in her world are mostly monotheistic - but as far as she knows there isn't anything besides magical girls and swarms that isn't explained pretty well by science.

Permalink Eye

She nods along, fascinated, and then starts. If she had been walking, she might have tripped, but thankfully this method of locomotion is far less reliant on her grace.

”You’re world has the same countries and language as we do? What... how? Even the alternate timeline of our world has some fairly major differences, in language and locations and population density even at  the limited data we had, and that was still somewhat surprising in how similar things are. This makes no sense from random chance. The only explanation I can think of is designer’s intent, which would suggest your world was also created by Arceus, but doesn’t explain why every world but yours has Pokémon, and only yours has magical girls.”

She frowns for a moment, even more confused. “What kind of thing can’t be explained by science? The one doesn’t make sense at all.”

Permalink Eye

She has no idea, about the language; it seems pretty weird to her, too.

Science can explain pretty much everything, like she said. It doesn't have a solid theory about why magical girls started happening all of a sudden, though, or where the magic comes from, or much of anything about swarms.

Permalink Eye

“So magical girls just started appearing? That definitely points to them being artificial, even if the rest of the evidence somehow didn’t, yeah. What is a swarm, then, as near as you can tell?”

Permalink Eye

Yeah, magical girls started appearing a couple hundred years ago, and swarms started appearing just before that. Swarms are pretty weird; they start out as a group of palm-sized black shapeshifting things that are slow and kind of stupid, and if you leave them alone they get faster and a little smarter and a lot meaner and eventually merge with each other to make bigger versions of the same thing. If you leave them alone long enough they can get really huge, and those ones are called kaiju; one of her grownups is a coast paladin and fights kaiju that form in the ocean and attack ships.

Permalink Eye

“Huh. We sometimes have Pokémon attacks, either in groups or just a few particularly powerful ones, but those are almost always people’s fault. They aren’t  great at going after the specific people who are responsible, so we usually have to stop them, but there’s almost always a provocation and usually not that far out of proportion. I wonder kind of affect having random, life threatening attacks at random across the globe would have; I imagine your world has international organizations that help ensure cooperation in dealing with them?”

Permalink Eye

She doesn't know much about that but she thinks it's mostly by country, even big kaiju don't usually need more than a couple paladin teams to take them down. There's probably treaties and stuff, though, yeah.

Permalink Eye

“Maybe I’m misestimating the scale of these threats, then. It probably helps that they seem to form in international waters.”

 

Permalink Eye

There’s an island coming up ahead; not as big as Memelene, but still pretty large. The Charizard starts to shed some altitude.

Permalink Eye

They form in other empty places, too, but they don't particularly cross borders or anything, yeah.

Is that the place?

Permalink Eye

“This is Akala Island, yes. You can’t see all of it from here, but that’s Heahea city to our south. My lab is on the eastern edge of the city, out of easy view behind that hill.”

Permalink Eye

Cool. She's never been in a real lab before.

Permalink Eye

The Charizard sheds its remaining speed and lands out front, gently. 

Permalink Eye

“Thank you for the excellent flying!” She dismounts with the ease of long practice, and reaches out as though to offer help dismounting before remembering that Dusk has wings.

The lab is actually fairly fancy. It’s beige and white, but has windows and an automatic glass door of an unfamiliar blue color. It’s mostly flat, but not squat.

Permalink Eye

“Charizard! Char Chari, za cha.”

Permalink Eye

Thanks.

She switches wings again and glides down, gawking a little at the architecture once she's down.

Permalink Eye

“Za Chari.”

Task accomplished, it flies off to the northeast.

Permalink Eye

"We'll probably be taking the same Charizard back, unless someone else ends up needing transportation to Memelene first. Most of the equipment we'll want is on the second floor."

The doors slide open as she walks up, and open onto something like a lobby. There's someone at a desk, apparently to sign people in, a few seats and benches, a couple of potted plants, a door, and an elevator. Burnet seems to be walking towards said desk.

Permalink Eye

Dusk follows, still looking around curiously.

Permalink Eye

It's less impressive than the exterior, although still fairly pretty and orderly.

"I thought you had the day off, Professor."

Permalink Eye

"I did, but then this was more interesting. Sign me in, plus one guest; goes by the name of Dusk. We shouldn't be more than a couple of hours, possibly even less than that."

Permalink Eye

"Alright. Anything else?"

Permalink Eye

"I think that's it."

Burnet then goes towards the elevator and presses the button. It comes down and the doors open; it's empty. She steps in.

Permalink Eye

Dusk continues following; she switches back to moth wings before entering the small space.

Permalink Eye

The elevator goes up, and opens onto a hallway. 

Permalink Eye

Burnet walks out, heads down past a conference room, and stops by a door with a sign helpfully saying 'Director Burnet's Office.'

The office has two different bookshelves, some chairs, and a desk with a computer of a model Dusk has never seen before and some papers messily scattered on it. Burnet sits down at her desk and types something.

"Could you describe the portal that you came through again? I'll see if we have any recorded matches."

Permalink Eye

Sure.

She makes a miniature model of it on the professor's desk: Like that, but big enough for her to fly through comfortably, and she might have the exact colors slightly wrong. And the outlines are from her spell, not actually part of it.

Permalink Eye

She nods, types up a description, puts a few keywords into a search bar and clicks a few of the links that come up. After 5 minutes of searching, she looks up from her screen.

"It doesn't match anything we've encountered. It's superficially like an ultra wormhole, but it's flat and has a barrier to define its edge. Bronzong's dimensional shifting doesn't look anything like that, and it's not one of the spirit world portals that Pokémon like Dusknoir favor. The edge rules out a reverse world portal, but if I'm being honest so is the fact that it brought you here, reverse world portals very emphatically only go there. It's almost certainly not one of the lake guardian's portals, especially since we don't even know for sure that they have one, and I'm entirely certain its not an inter-dream portal. Unown aren't known to have the power to pull that off at all, and if they did it would take enough of them in the area that you couldn't help but notice them. The only Pokémon we have on record with the power to make a portal that looks like that are Palkia and Arceus, neither of which is likely. Add in that the ring is pretty clearly artificial and it looks like we're dealing with humans.

"On one hand, this means we probably can't just reuse whatever brought you here in the first place; whoever brought you here seems to have gone to some lengths to ensure they weren't discovered, so it seems fairly unlikely that we'll be easily able to turn them up, and while I'll have some people keep checking it's looking unlikely that this is some undiscovered Pokémon. On the other hand, if someone else can make it, then there shouldn't be any reason we can't do the same here; it might take a while to figure it out, but now that we have a proof of concept it's pretty exciting. If you're up for it, I'd love to run some tests to see if there's anything we can figure out about the method, but if you'd prefer not to I'm much more confident we can figure it out ourselves eventually."

Permalink Eye

She's probably up for it. What's involved?

Permalink Eye

“Depends on what you’re up for, but we’d want to check for radiation, typed energy, infinity energy, all of which we can do by harmless scans of varying times. We’d want to look for any still-warped space, although even natural wormholes don’t tend to leave that much residue. Some tissue sample might let us figure out traits of your world of origin, but it might not. We’d definitely want to check to see if we can detect your magical powers, but if our standard psychic-and-ghost sensors draw a blank we’d have to make something custom for that rather than just doing it today.”

She trails off, trying to think of anything more, then starts.

”Unless magical girls have special resistances, we you’ll probably want to check out a hospital some time soon to make sure your world isn’t different enough that you’re missing critical vaccinations or other disease immunities.”

Permalink Eye

She nods along until Professor Burnet mentions going to a hospital, and then goes tense and wary.

Permalink Eye

Burnet is not good with people. She has, however, just spent the last three months with Lillie, and is trained to not ignore cues and evidence from the world around her under any circumstances.

”Are you alright? I’m sorry if I broke some kind of taboo or similar from your home. Was it... referring to the building from that sentence?”

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Doctors aren't - safe, really - with kids who don't talk, where she's from. And she doesn't know that they are here, either.

Permalink Eye

The first thing Burnet wants to do, as shock and horror attempt to take control of her face, is comment on how awful that is. She tries to stop herself - They know how bad it was, they don’t always know you aren’t horrified by them, even when you explain adults who have been being nice suddenly changing can be awful - if she hadn’t  known with Lillie, she wouldn’t have been able to. As it is, some of it still shows on her face, but she manages to bite down on the reassurance that no one at the hospital is like that. That’s not what she needs to say.

”If you don’t want to go the hospital, no one is going to force you. If something does go wrong, a Pokémon center should be able to handle almost everything, and almost everyone here is immunized anyway; for all but the most infectious diseases, we pass the vaccination rate for herd immunity. Some other kinds like Tetanus that aren’t interpersonal might be an issue anyway, maybe, but it’s not common anyway and we do get cases like that anyway so it won’t be unprecedented.”

Wow, that was no much not what you needed to say. B-, and only that high due to effort.

Permalink Eye

She's still a little tense, but: Okay. Thanks.

Permalink Eye

“I’d say anyone would, but that’s not true, I guess.”

Burnet struggles to continue, but this is something that has to be said.

”Your current caretakers are treating you well now, right? Or should I be arranging a permamant residence, or sending you back to your world away from them?”

Permalink Eye

 

She likes her grownups. She wouldn't have asked to go back if she didn't.

Permalink Eye

At that,  a genuine smile appears on Burnet’s face.

”That’s good to hear. It sounded like that, but... that’s not something I can live with just assuming. I’m glad you found some people who you can trust.”

 

Permalink Eye

She nods, but still seems stressed.

Permalink Eye

It’s probsbly best not to dwell on it, she decides. Instead, she pulls out her Pokédex, and makes a call.

 

Permalink Eye

It rings twice, then they pick up.

”Hey, professor. Did something come up? I thought it was your day off.”

Permalink Eye

“You know how it always is, Akela. Life just has a way of surprising you with interesting things.”

Permalink Eye

“Better than being bored. What can I do for you?”

Permalink Eye

“I’ll be coming by the main lab in a few minutes, with a guest. Please get things ready for a full examination. We’ll be starting with the passive sensors. Oh, and ask around if anyone’s got a list of all the unconfirmed portals we have, those don’t seem to be in the normal database anymore.”

Permalink Eye

“Understood.” 

The phone call hangs up.

Permalink Eye

Burnet puts away the Pokédex, and turns to Dusk.

”Anything else last minute you’d like to ask about or do first, or should we save questions until you have some idea what kinds of machinery you’d want to ask questions about?”

Permalink Eye

 

Second thing.

(Her wings twitch, perhaps nervously.)

Permalink Eye

The building is hardly small, but Burnet turns out to be right about her prediction of how long it would take to get there, even keeping pace with Dusk. When she opens the door about 4 minutes later, it’s to an enormous room - no, pair of rooms. At the center of the first is a set of desks, each with whta looks like an extremely high-texh desktop computer, and on the walls are massive displays. Some are maps, with colored in areas that Dusk probably can’t identify, some are displays of various holes in space (none match hers),a few have some complex mathematicsl equations on them, with parts highlighted and scientists in labcoats arguing in front of them. The other room is less visible through the strange window, but is filled with various unfamiliar machinery. The floor is a black and white, almost checkerboard tile pattern, and there are a few dozen people within. A few start at her appearance, but most are busy with conversation or work.

Permalink Eye

“Hello Professor. Are they the guest you mentioned?”

If Dusk could hear the conversation, this woman is clearly Akela. 

Permalink Eye

“Yeah. She goes by Dusk, and she’s apparently from another universe altogether. Those wings aren’t faked, and she has demonstrable powers that would be really hard to fake by being psychic.”

Permalink Eye

“Is this a prank? No. Uh, wow. You’re serious. How’d it happen?”

Permalink Eye

“Interdimensional portal, apparently. Doesn’t match anything on records, but that’s unsurprising since it also looks manmade. Purple-pink portal, gold ring delineating the edge of the portal; dropped her off in the air above Memelene island.”

”Would you mind showing them the portal you went through?”

Permalink Eye

She instantiates another copy, at full size this time, and repeats her explanation that it appeared in midair, too close for her to stop before she went through it.

Permalink Eye

“Wow.  I know it was probably pretty stressful to find yourself in a different world, but that’s hard to seperate from how cool I find it, so I’m sorry if I say something insensitive here.”

They turn to Burnet.

”I dunno if that’s manmade. Item-assisted, maybe, but I wouldn’t count on that either. You know how hard it is to make both ends of a portal at range, and if the rings were solving that problem then their teleportation is still unexplained, since non local teleporting is almost as hard. Pokémon are much better at that kind of detail work.”

Permalink Eye

“If they can- no, that’s not right. I was about to say that if they could appear their machinery in other dimensions, then teleportation of them isn’t implausible, but that’s evidence against my theory, isn’t it. I’ll have to cast our net wider, then.”

Permalink Eye

Akela smiles.

”Do you think we should start with the precision dex scanner?”

She gestures into the next room one of the simpler machines. It has a little booth, and what looks sorta like a high-tech camera facing the entrance.

Permalink Eye

“It’s probably safest to start there rather than anything more fragile, although the space-time mapper would be fine.”

Burnet heads across the room, pulls out a keycard, and swipes open the door. 

Permalink Eye

-that'll open from the inside without a card, right?

Permalink Eye

“Yes, it will; it’d be a gross violation of safety codes otherwise. There’s also a fire exit in the back right corner, over there.”

Permalink Eye

“Seriously? You didn’t even go over lab safety before you got here?”

She turns to Dusk.

”So. Rules of Lab. Always keep track of emergency exits - there’s one in the lab, back right, and one just across the hall - and make sure you have a clear path out. Make sure to stand clear of any moving machinery at all times. We don’t have anything fast here, but it’s a bad habit to get into and even getting only slightly injured is a bad thing; you’ll only run into that here if we end up using the Rotator, which is for stress testing some of our portal machines and won’t come up. No playing around, no food or drink, no loud noises or other distractions for people operating machinery.”

Permalink Eye

“It didn’t come up. I got excited, and usually the only people I get to talk about are already in the field. Sorry about that, Dusk, that could have been unsafe.”

Permalink Eye

Okay, she can do that.

Permalink Eye

The scanner doesn’t feel like anything, and it’s done in three seconds. Apparently, the results it got were completely unprecedented, to the point that Akela calls over two more specialized scientists from the next room, and they in turn get lost in a flurry of conversation. It’s not easy to make sense of all the jargon, and their excitability seems to be losing some of the words there, but it’s possible to catch words like “no solosis-based microbial strains at all” and “like an entirely new type, no, more than that” and “wing structure doesn’t match anything on record” and “at least a dozen new thesis from this alone.” If Dusk is particularly interested, they’d probably be willing to give more than that, but they aren’t going to be volunteering much.

Permalink Eye

“Up to do the space-time mapper? It’s the blue platform over there. It checks for lingering dimensional anomalies; we probably won’t get much out of it due to how clean that portal looked, but there’s almost certainly something.”

Permalink Eye

Sure. Also Professor Burnet might want to explain her shapeshifting before those guys jump to too many conclusions about her wings.

Permalink Eye

“Right. Kalua, Timothy, you should probably be aware that Dusk can shapeshift; not as much as a Ditto or a Mew, but she wasn’t born with those wings.”

Permalink Eye

One of them - it’s hard to say which - turns to her, interrupting his commentary on chemical compositions.

”We can tell. It’s hard to map much of anything from the DNA without more specialized equipment, but it’s definitely all wrong for the wings, we’re able to notice that from a glance. The structure’s still entirely foreign; I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that it’s entirely less accurate than a Ditto’s transformation, since they usually need an example to copy exactly for detail work and  these wings are complex in all the wrong ways for that. It seems to be closest to Mothim’s wings, in structure, but even that’s obviously not a perfect match.”

Permalink Eye

They're based on a moth from her world - the Dingy Cutworm Moth, they're usually just different shades of brown - but she doesn't have to copy anything and wasn't trying for an exact match, yeah.

Permalink Eye

The display for the space-time mapper is fairly innocuous. According to its sensors, the open air above the platform is slightly curved beyond the effect of gravity itself, but any detail beyond that requires quite a bit of specialized knowledge that Dusk doesn't have.

Permalink Eye

She gets onto the platform.

Permalink Eye

"Definitely didn't travel through Ultra Space, then, not that there was much doubt. There's an unprecedented pattern, but it's hard to say whether that was from the portal or just the characteristics of your native dimension. Whichever it is, we could definitely identify it in another sample, but that's significantly less useful if we don't know which it is."

"Huh. I didn't know you could do that."

Permalink Eye

She can switch wings and give them a feather, if something that's part of her but didn't go through the portal would be useful to look at.

Permalink Eye

"And that bit has nothing on it. Even when an Ultra Beast repairs itself, the new bits still carry the same Beast Boost with them, but your feather has nothing of the sort. I've never seen anything like it."

Permalink Eye

"Mind looking over here, Professor? I swear there's something here, but I can't isolate it."

Permalink Eye

"Let me see... I don't know. That seems pretty suggestive of a connection, but if there's any ongoing connection it's too faint to pick up with. We should definitely send this off to the labs to see if the computers can sort out the gravatic junk, but there's just not enough detail there."

Permalink Eye

"Right."

Akela turns and presses something on the monitor, then pulls out what looks vaguely like a cross between a normal cellphone and what Burnet used earlier. They press a few buttons, then hold it to their ear. Unless Dusk has good hearing and is listening in, they'll only hear one side of the conversation.

"Yes, I'm serious. No, we've actually found someone who travelled between universes, I just forwarded the scan. Yes, I realize what this means, I work here too. Thanks, let me know if you turn up anything."

 

Permalink Eye

“I think that’s all we’re going to get from the Axis. Hmm.”

She looks around, consideringly.

”The Silph Scope would be next, I think. If it can’t pick up your magic, then it probably can’t get us anything those two haven’t picked up already, but anything it can’t get on your magic probably can’t get picked up by anything else we have unless I really misunderstand how it functions.”

Permalink Eye

Dusk switches to the machine the professor indicates and goes through her repertoire of magic.

Permalink Eye

After they fiddle with it, it picks up something that seems to satisfy them whenever Dusk does something’s with magic.

 

Permalink Eye

Burnet is on her Pokédex, typing something. 

“Dusk, how much information do you want being known? This is big enough that people all around the world will be interested in working on it even without appeals to sympathy, so there’s no need for personal details if you don’t want on that score, but I know some people who would appreciate the fame rather than being bothered by it. We could also try and keep things here if you really don't want the story getting out, but it might take a bit longer and this kind of a project involves enough people it might get out anyway."

Permalink Eye

"Why do we need to get anyone else involved? Our lab is more than big enough for this project."

Permalink Eye

"You know as well as I do how important interworld transportation could be; just because we could handle it by ourselves doesn't mean we should mindlessly imitate Devon corp. Besides, we could hardly keep it from getting out if she wants it to, and it'd be pretty rude to try unless that was what she wanted."

Permalink Eye

 

She doesn't especially care either way, unless people might bother her about it.

Permalink Eye

"Some people definitely would, if we told. Depends on how much bothering is too much, I suppose. This is one of the few cases where releasing only part of the information won't help, unfortunately, because if word gets out that there's someone in Alola from another world your wings make you a standout candidate. How much does attention bother you? An international release could cut time down by probably up to a month, but its entirely possible that we'd figure it out first anyway and you'd definitely get at least some attention no matter how little we leaked unless we avoid international work altogether."

Permalink Eye

It's not really how much bothering, it's what kind. If they just want to talk to her that's probably fine, if they won't leave her alone that's not as fine, if they try to make her do something that's not okay at all.

Permalink Eye

"Some people will definitely bother you, but will probably leave you alone if you can tell them no forcefully, and might want you to do things, but the latter probably won't be much worse than you'd get for someone finding out you have magic."

A pause, and then.

"If you look like a trainer, then I think most of the idiots will back off as well. Your world doesn't have Pokémon, but the default assumption for people will be that it does, and otherworldly Pokémon could be more intimidating to go after than even a professional trainer."

Permalink Eye

She'll think about it - she's not sure she could keep up appearances as a trainer properly, and if they already know she has magic it shouldn't be too hard to scare them off with it.

Permalink Eye

"That should work fine, especially if we don't release your information along with the data. There's not much more we can do here just yet without the portal itself to study."

A couple of the people there are clearly interested in learning more about her world, but they also have a ton of new data to look over and hypotheses to falsify and she isn't actively expounding on it, so unless Dusk wants to talk to them or stay around a while they probably won't talk to her.

Permalink Eye

Unless Professor Burnet seems to be ready to lead her back out, she'll stick around for a little while.

Permalink Eye

Burnet steps out into the hallway to make a few calls.

Permalink Eye

After it becomes clear that she's not going to immediately leave, a few of them ask questions.

"Could you show us the portal you came through, again?"

Permalink Eye

"How does your magic work?" asks another, which a few more scientists also express interest in.

Permalink Eye

She makes another copy of the portal, and a model of the area she was flying over for good measure, with a comment that it's only as good as her memory. She explains her magic again, too, continuing to leave out the most sensitive details.

Permalink Eye

After maybe 20 minutes, Burnet seems to be done with all her calls.

"Feel free to tell them off whenever you stop wanting to answer questions, they'll live on that one. There's no need to leave before you want to, but they also shouldn't be trying to keep you all day if you're not genuinely interested."

Permalink Eye

She doesn't have anywhere else to be, it's fine.

Permalink Eye

Then people will continue to have questions for as long as she’s willing to entertain them! The lab doesn’t have an enormous population, but they are very enthusiastic about learning even when it’s cross discipline. They’re also willing to answer questions of hers, and might have a wider knowledge base on that front, but they won’t default to it. 

Permalink Eye

Burnet seems able to find things to work on, even if it is allegedly her day off. At some point she’ll interrupt to ask Dusk about accommodations and if she needs anything she doesn’t have available.

Permalink Eye

She's got a room at the Pokecenter, and her magic means she doesn't need much else, but she appreciates the concern. She is going to need lunch at some point, though.

Permalink Eye

So will the scientists! They seem to not notice it, but apparently this is a common enough issue for them that there’s a rotstion of who’s job it is to go and get orders from nearby restaurants for those who don’t pack lunches. There are menus available; the cuisine appears similar to home, but many names of fruits are a bit off normal and meat seems significantly more expensive, even if she’s not ordering out from one of the fancier options available, and eggs are similarly priced up but not to the same degree; there’s correspondingly a lot more dairy, soy, and beans of various sorts to fill thr cuisine gaps. A few other types of plants seem less in evidence, although if  Dusk looks through it doesn’t seem like anything familiar is completely unheard of. Heahea city is fairly large, and seems to have a wide variety of available restaurants.

Most of the scientists are handing over cash for their orders.

Permalink Eye

“I’ll cover Dusk’s meal,” she says. To Dusk, she continues “Don’t worry about price; I’d prefer it if you didn’t buy something just because it was expensive, but you won’t come close to breaking the bank even if you wanted to skip these places and go somewhere really fancy.”

Permalink Eye

Akela snorts. “Understatement much?”

Permalink Eye

She looks through a few menus and picks something. (The third thing in the third section of the third menu, incidentally.)

Permalink Eye

Her order is taken; The restaurant in question looks French, or at least stylistically similar, and the third order down is some kind of sandwich. It's the genre that would have meat back home but is instead a substitute.

If she's tasted something similar from her homeworld, the flavor is surprisingly similar to what she would expect, but the texture is different; it's close, but slightly-off recreation seems to be dismissed in favor of a unique texture that's good on its own merits. The sandwich isn't terribly big, but it's protein dense and more filling than it first appears.

Permalink Eye

She eats, with a perfunctory sort of focus.

Permalink Eye

No one comments on this!

Permalink Eye

If Dusk doesn't get bored or desire to do something else first, Burnet will be finishing up at about 3:30.

Permalink Eye

She can answer questions until then, or occupy herself with her magic if the scientists somehow manage to run out.

Permalink Eye

They lose quite a bit of steam as various scientists hit the limits of Dusk’s knowledge in their feilds of choice or get called away to do various bits of actual work. By around 2:30 there are only a few people left, and not long after that Dusk is free to work on her magic uninterrupted.

(This gets some more people interested in watching, but no interruptions.)

Permalink Eye

“Unless you want to stay longer, I’ll be headed back to Melemele Island now. There’s no reason you can’t stay later if you want to, though; I’m sure one of the others who work out of Melemele would be willing to ferry tou back, or at least call you a ride of your own.”

Permalink Eye

She's ready to go back, yeah. Will they need her here again?

Permalink Eye

“Probably not until we have a prototype ready. Maybe if there’s some new equipment breakthrough, or devon corp desides to share its stuff, but almost certainly not unless those happen. You’re welcome to stop by, but we should have everything we need from you to figure it out.”

Permalink Eye

Okay. She'll stop by Professor Burnet's house every couple days to see if they have anything, if that's all right.

Permalink Eye

“That shouldn’t be a problem. We don’t tend to be busy enough that you’re likely to interrupt a meeting or the like.”

When Burnet calls another Charizard, it’s clearly not the same one as before.

”Seems that someone did end up heading over to Melemele before we went back. Well, that or they didn’t want another flight today.”

Permalink Eye

“Charizard. Char Chari.”

This Charizard is a good half a foot larger than the last, and its skin is a lighter orange except near the flame itself.

Permalink Eye

Hi, she sends.

Permalink Eye

“Zard!”

That’s definitely a response.

Permalink Eye

Cool!

Can Pokemon usually understand humans? She can't understand the Charizard, particularly.

(She mounts up; no reason to hold the trip up with chatting.)

Permalink Eye

Burnet mounts too.

"Most Pokémon you'll meet will understand People just fine; I would be really surprised to find one working in a human interfacing industry that couldn't. If I'm remembering my courses right, the current consensus is that almost all Pokémon thus far discovered can learn to understand human speech, although not all Pokémon do so equally easily and not all languages are equally simple to learn; the chief exceptions seem to be those who don't do much in the way of hearing. Sign languages and writing tend to be harder, but plenty of them can pick that up too. That's not to say it's impossible that we could discover some Pokémon that's cognitively incapable of it, or couldn't invent a language that only humans could pick up, but that's not generally applicable.

"Speaking is a different story, due to how their vocal cords and natural languages function; it's rare to have a Pokemon capable of directly communicating in a human language without doing so telepathically, and most of these occurrences come from a select few species like Chatot and Meowth."

Permalink Eye

Neat. This does kind of suggest that Pokemon are people, though - animals in Dusk's world can't 'hear' her at all, and with rare exception can't understand anything but extremely simple language.

Permalink Eye

"From context, I assume Animals are something superficially similar to Pokémon from your world? Here, the only people who deny that Pokémon are people are a few reactionary political groups and some hyper-traditional religions, and even then it's as much a political claim as an actual belief."

Permalink Eye

Huh, how Professor Burnet said it it sounded like people mostly didn't think Pokemon were people. Animals are kind of like Pokemon, though, yeah - they're what her world has for living things that aren't humans or plants. They mostly aren't very smart, and they're less - magical? She's not sure whether they think of things like the Charizard's flame as magic, but animals don't have things like that - and they don't have types. And she hasn't seen any really small Pokemon, yet, really small animals are pretty common. The kind of moth her wings are based on is smaller than the first section of her index finger.

Permalink Eye

“In addition to Pokémon and humans and plants, we also have fungi, archaea, and some people say viruses count as well.

”As for magic... Pokémon aren’t, not in the way the term is used in this world, but I’m not sure if we would consider it magic if it wasn’t part of our everyday life.

“There are species of tiny Pokémon, like Joltik; some are even microscopic, like many types of Solosoids. Most Pokémon are at least the size of... no, you wouldn’t have Caterpie. At least the size of my forearm, maybe, and usually significantly bigger.”

Permalink Eye

Dusk has no problem spending the trip talking about animals - she doesn't have a whole lot of personal experience, but she's watched plenty of documentaries and read plenty of books.

Permalink Eye

Pokémon species are hardly Burnet’s area of specialty, but she does know a lot of them from courses and osmosis from her husband’s work. It turns out that there are far more species of animals than Pokémon, but a lot of that comes from insects and fish. It also turns out that a surprising amount of Pokémon correspond at some level in appearance, function, and / or name to animals from Dusk’s world, and to a level that Burnet thinks is somewhat implausible to be simply convergent evolution. Not all Pokémon correspond to animals, though; there are quite a few that are plants or fungi, and plenty don’t correspond to any living organism - particularly Ghost-, Rock-, Steel-, and Fairy-type Pokémon, but with a smattering of other typed examples as well.

Permalink Eye

The similarities are definitely weird, but not weirder than the language and countries being the same. Or not much weirder, at least. It's still pretty weird. (Ghost, rock, steel, and fairy Pokemon are also kind of weird, but not the same way.)

Permalink Eye

It’s not that weird to Burnet! For her, Pokémon are the baseline. The wind is just as convenient on the way back, despite them heading in the opposite direction; if Dusk is paying more attention, she might rralize that it stays with them even whenever the Charizard banks. After about an hour or so, the Charizard comes in for a landing on Melemele island by Burnet’s house.

Permalink Eye

A man and

Permalink Eye

A girl are

Permalink Eye

out in front of the house, alongside a strange looking dog.

Permalink Eye

Hello again.

Permalink Eye

“Hello! Sorry about misunderstanding your confusion yesterday. It’s not every day you fail to notice you met someone from another world.”

Permalink Eye

“H-hi.” It’s almost more of a squeak, and immediately afterward her cheeks go red with embarrassment.

Permalink Eye

That's all right, she hadn't figured it out yet then either.

Permalink Eye

“Do you have a safe place to stay and a source of food? You seem alright, but it’s not the kind of thing I like to leave up for assumptiom. I don’t know what you would call them, without Pokémon, but for us that kind of free short term housing is usually handled through the Pokémon Centers.”

Permalink Eye

Yep, that's where the police sent her. Her world doesn't have things like that so much but churches do it sometimes.

Permalink Eye

“I’m glad to hear it.”

Permalink Eye

“Charizard.”

The Charizard flies off, in the same direction the first had arrived from.

Permalink Eye

Thank you, she sends, before the Charizard gets out of range.

Permalink Eye

“Zard I.”

Permalink Eye

Lillie’s bag wiggles, a little.

Permalink Eye

Hm?

Permalink Eye

Lillie seems to be trying to keep hold of the bag, but it it quickly proves fruitless; she rushes inside quickly.

Permalink Eye

Dusk's telepathy conveniently doesn't need line of sight. Is Lillie okay?

Permalink Eye

“I’m fine!”

She sounds kind of nervous, though.

Permalink Eye

All right. She's not upset about it, whatever it is, but she'll leave Lillie alone about it now.

Permalink Eye

Neither Burnet nor Kukui will talk about that, unless Dusk pushes.

Permalink Eye

He will chat a bit about other things, though, if she's willing. "It's fascinating to think about how our world and our relationship with Pokémon must seem, if you didn't grow up with it. What do you think of it so far?"

Permalink Eye

It's... different. She's not sure whether she should be comparing it to how her world's humans treat animals or how they treat each other - probably not quite either, really. The thing where they capture wild Pokémon is really weird regardless, but it seems to work okay from what she's seen.

Permalink Eye

"I suppose we're lucky you didn't stop by a few centuries ago. Things... weren't great, in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it was worse before that."

Permalink Eye

It's not like her world is always great, either. They seem to be doing okay.

Permalink Eye

“That’s reassuring.”

Permalink Eye

Lillie comes back out of the house, devoid of bag.

Permalink Eye

Yeah.

Anyway, she might go for a fly, if they don't need her for anything else?

Permalink Eye

"No, have a nice evening!"

Permalink Eye

And off she goes!

She flies around for a bit - politely greeting the local bird 'mon when she flies near them - and eventually heads back to the Pokecenter for dinner, which she'll take out to eat while she watches the sunset if they let her.

Permalink Eye

One particularly aggressive Pikapek will go after her, but it's not particularly dangerous and will leave her alone if she leaves its little "territory."

The staff at the Pokémon Center will allow that, but they ask that she be sure to return the trays afterward. 

Permalink Eye

Of course.

She does, once she's done, and then - she's tired, but she's not sleepy just yet. She heads back out to overfly the town and see if there's anything interesting and low-key going on.

Permalink Eye

If she's subtle, she might see some people in skull masks skulking around in back alleys, but they aren't doing anything at the moment. There are a few Pokémon battles going on, but nothing really impressive; a couple of Wingull are fighting over some bread at the beach.

Permalink Eye

She's not trying to sneak per se, but owl wings are quiet and people rarely look up, especially when they aren't used to the possibility of magical girls. What are the masked people up to?

Permalink Eye

They’re chilling in the back alleys, talking. They don’t have any weapons on them, and aren’t selling drugs or anything at the moment, but it might not be clear how much of that is due to a different world. It’s fairly obvious that they’re a gang of some sort.

Permalink Eye

The lack of weapons doesn't mean much, if Pokemon do most of the fighting. She finds an inconspicuous perch near one of the bigger groups and watches for a while longer.

Permalink Eye

They don’t notice her, but they fail to do anything overly nefarious all evening; if she stays around to an hour, they’ll break up and head off.

Permalink Eye

She's yawning a little sooner than that, and heads back to the Pokecenter to sleep.

 

In the morning - late morning, she might miss breakfast entirely - she heads over to the library again.

Permalink Eye

There’s a different librarian at the desk today; she seems a bit more startled by Dusk’s appearance.

 

Permalink Eye

She leaves her alone and checks out where yesterday's pokemon book came from to see if there's anything else interesting there.

Permalink Eye

It's a youth books section, but in addition to the usual fiction suspects (some of which might have titles and covers that look vaguely familiar, but nothing she'll actually recognize), there are differences from the equivalent sections of her world. There seem to be several genres devoted entirely to Pokémon and Pokémon training at some degree of remove, as well as sizable influence in other bodies of work, and a greater selection of mythology and biology.

Permalink Eye

- ooh, Pokémon biology, maybe there'll be some interesting things to copy. (Conveniently the library book she was returning when the portal appeared is on estimating point values of mods; she's still going to be really careful about it, but it won't be as risky as it could be.)

Permalink Eye

Most Pokémon seem to have mostly recognizable biology, but there's plenty of outright bizarre and useful stuff if you go looking. There's no way a Pikachu's cheek punches should be able to hold that much static electricity, much less convert it into lightning bolt attacks, or a Charizard's oil to burn so hot, but somehow it functions all the same.

Permalink Eye

Neat. Some of the most interesting stuff she doesn't think she can duplicate without risk of going cryptid, or at all - the locals might not think of it as magic, but some of it obviously is - but some of it is just a matter of different materials, or that combined with new physical structures: she doesn't have much use for a flaming Charizard tail, but it looks like she could make one if she did, maybe with less heat output but at least the basic idea anyway.

She takes notes, both of things that seem familiar enough that she can guess whether they're safe and things that aren't, taking a break midway through to go see if making her moth wings out of Mothim-wing stuff will let her fly with them.

Permalink Eye

It will. They seem a fair bit stronger, and the structure is different internally. It's not just a scaled up version of an insect wing, like the ones from the late Carboniferous, but it does share some internal resemblance to match the external ones.

Permalink Eye

Excellent. She does a few circles in the air over the library before heading back in.

Permalink Eye

Oddly enough, people seem to find her appearance a bit less strange, but it's hard to say whether that's time, selection bias, or an actual difference in reaction to the new wings.

Permalink Eye

Huh. Nonmagical people aren't usually all that sensitive to aesthetic, but it's a pretty sudden change to be just time and familiarity.

She goes back to her book, anyway, and after a while goes to ask the librarian what she'd need for a library card.