Breaking Down

by spitfirepanda

Chapter 20: Trials of God

“I never thought sleeping on the floor of a cave could be so restive,” Rarity said as she and her friends sat in the back of a large transport truck. They hit a bump and she was almost thrown from her seat. She gripped the overhead handle tighter and steadied herself. “This truck is a bit rough, though.”
“It’s designed to transport groups of Pokémon Rangers when responding to emergencies in the wild,” Cynthia replied. “This truck is for first responders, and would normally be hauling a trailer filled with supplies behind it. It was the fastest method available to us at the mountain.”
“It’s a fine way to travel,” Applejack said as she braced herself against the seat. “We use trucks all the time on the farm. Not ones as big as this normally, but a slightly bumpy ride ain’t never hurt nobody.”
“Our poor Pokémon are still all tuckered out,” Pinkie Pie said as she hugged her sleeping Popplio close.
“They fought very hard,” the human Fluttershy said. “They were very brave.”
Ashley purred in her sleep on the seat next to her partner. The two Rowlet were perched on a wooden pole in a cage that was screwed into the floor near the drivers cab. Gem was curled up next to their cage, her bandaged tail twitching slightly and her claws flexing from time to time as she dreamed of battle. Nara was the only one awake, but barely. His eyes drooped and closed from time to time as he tried to pay attention to the conversation.
“I’m so happy everyone agreed to this cruise,” Pinkie Pie said as she jotted down party ideas on a notepad. “I just know it’ll be good for all of us!”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Rarity said. She pulled her bag out from under her seat and began rearranging the sewing materials that had been thrown about by the last bump. “Some fun and relaxation is just what we need. I’d love some time to draw up a few clothes designs.”
“You’ll have plenty of time to do whatever you want on this trip,” Cynthia said. “We have a day to spend in Canalave. Our ship leaves early tomorrow morning.”
“And you’re sure it’s alright if we come along like this?” the pony Fluttershy asked. “Those humans sure looked at us rather… strangely.”
“Though they weren’t unkind,” Sunset Shimmer added.
“No, they were very kind. It felt wrong turning down the potions they offered. They seemed a bit confused when I told them that they wouldn’t be effective.”
“It will be fine,” Cynthia said, smiling reassuringly. “I’ve spoken to the Elite Four of the Sinnoh region, and Professor Rowan. I’ve explained the situation. We have their full support. No one will question the five greatest trainers in Sinnoh, much less one of the foremost Pokémon experts in the world. The rangers and police officers we met at the mountain are safe with your secret, as well. Any suspicions they have will be small compared to their gratitude for your service. I want all of you to relax, enjoy yourselves, and give your bodies some time to heal.”

“So, who’s doing what first?” Rainbow Dash asked as the group climbed out of the truck several hours later.
“Shopping, of course,” Rarity said as she and Gem began walking down the street. “Anyone who wishes to join us is welcome. Otherwise, I’ll see you girls later.”
“I read that there’s a great library here,” Twilight Sparkle said. “I think I’m going to see it for myself.”
“I can show you the way,” Cynthia said. “I’ve got some studying of my own to do before my meeting with Steven.”
They walked off down a side street and disappeared around the corner.
“I’m gonna hit up the party supply store!” Pinkie Pie shouted happily.
“I’m gonna perform tricks for passersby outside of the party supply store!” Leon cheered. Pinkie Pie began skipping down the road in the direction Rarity had gone, her Popplio walking on his flippers just behind her as a passing couple watched in fascination.
“I’ve got some whiddlin’ ta’ do,” Applejack said, her voice still tired. She had once again taken the brunt of the enemy attacks. They had encountered over a dozen grunts on their way to aid Sunset Shimmer who had been more than happy to send their Pokémon after human targets.
So eager were they to ignore the normal rules of battling that the girl’s own Pokémon had found it almost impossible to draw enemy fire. Rainbow Dash had been able to outrun most of it, and Twilight Sparkle had been able to block attacks with telekinesis. Applejack had been the easiest to hit, and had been targeted as such. Once she began throwing punches and shrugging off Pokémon attacks, she was the most threatening. Either way, she had been forced to absorb the majority of the enemy’s brutality, especially after Twilight Sparkle had tired. Poe hadn’t been strong enough to pull her out of harms way. Applejack had stood over her friend, blocking attack after attack while Rainbow Dash fought her way over to evacuate Twilight to a safer place. If it weren’t for the sturdiness that her magic provided her with, she wouldn’t have stood a chance. Even then, she’d received a number of bite marks, cuts and large bruises.
“You take it easy, AJ,” Rainbow Dash replied as her friend took a seat on a nearby bench. Applejack sighed as she withdrew a knife and a hunk of wood from her bag.
“I’m going to stay with Applejack,” Fluttershy said as she sat down next to her friend. “We’ll keep an eye on the truck, while keeping our ‘Keldeo’ friends company.”
“I guess Nara and I will go find something to eat,” Rainbow Dash said. “Do you guys want us to bring you anything back?”
“Some ice cream would be nice,” Applejack said. “Don’t feel like anythin’ fancy today, and I’m sure Pinkie’s gonna have some good food at the party. Plain vanilla is fine.”
“Get me a scoop of strawberry, please,” Fluttershy said.
“I’ll take one too, please!” her pony counterpart said, sticking her head out of the back of the truck. She stuck her head back in, listening to a noise that the girls couldn’t make out. “And Sunset wants some chocolate with sprinkles.”
“What do our Pokémon friends want?” Rainbow Dash asked as she looked down at Nara.
“A crushed, poffin sundae please!” Archi hooted from a nearby tree.
“I’ll take one with extra Cheri Berries,” Ashley purred. She stretched out on the bench next to Fluttershy and curled up. “Wake me when you get back.”
“I’ll have what Ashley has,” Nara said, excitedly. He was already running down the street. Rainbow Dash jogged to catch up to him, and they continued on their way.
“It feels good to get some exercise when I’m not being attacked by something,” Rainbow Dash said as she and her Chimchar jogged through Canalave City.
“Yeah, fighting is fun and all, but I’d rather be here eating ice cream with my friends,” Nara said. He paused in the street, suddenly stricken with shock at his own words. “I mean, it’s not like I’d ever give up fighting. Never! I’m gonna be a big, strong Infernape someday but…”
“Don’t worry about it, buddy. Action might be a way of life, and one I’m particularly fond of, but eating ice cream with your friends is just as great!”
Nara perked up at her words. He smiled, nodded his head, and dashed down the road once more. Several minutes later they were standing in front of an ice cream stand on a street corner in the city’s trade district. People busied themselves from building to building, buying goods to be shipped to other regions or stacking crates into trucks to be delivered to other parts of Sinnoh.
“We’re in the heart of modern society. I bet Rarity’s happy. It feels kinda nice, doesn’t it Nara?”
“Chimchar,” Nara said after a second. He was focused on the food behind the glass in the man’s stand. There were two buckets of multi-colored beans standing next to a basket of pink poffins. Rainbow Dash smiled as she realized her friend hadn’t really heard what she had said.
“What are those beans?” she asked the ice cream vendor.
“Poké Beans,” the man replied. He was a friendly middle-aged man in a big grey sweater jacket. “Fresh from Alola. Would you like some for your partner there?”
“Yeah, though I’m ordering for two other Pokémon, as well. Give them all some beans, please.”
“Of course, maam. What can I get for you?”
Rainbow Dash placed her order and soon they were back on their way to their friends. Nara helped carry the other Pokémon’s deserts, while using his tail to carry his own food. He carefully licked the beans out of his cup, and squealed in delight at their taste. Rainbow Dash carried a sack full of carefully packaged cups filled with ice cream for her friends.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have this crazy journey to go on?” Nara said after a few minutes. “I mean, battling is fun and all, but…”
“That’s the second time you’ve said that today,” Rainbow Dash replied. “Is something wrong?”
“N-no, it’s just…”
“It’s ok to be scared, Nara. It’s ok to not want to fight. No one will think any less of you.”
“My dad will,” the Chimchar said, his voice sad.
The two paused at a streetlight, waiting for the traffic to stop so they could cross.
“Your dad isn’t you, and you’re not him. Besides, I don’t see him around here anywhere. It’s not like he’s here to scold you for doing what you want.”
“No, but his words are always with me. I think about them every time we go into battle. Our group, the Pokémon who were sent to accompany you on your journey, our parents are all high ranking soldiers in the armies of God’s Breath. Leon’s mom is even a Champion. My brothers and sisters and all of my cousins are all really strong and they love to fight. I like action too, but… Can I tell you a secret?”
“Of course,” Rainbow Dash said, placing her bag of ice cream down on the ground. She kneeled next to her friend to listen better.
“I get kinda scared, sometimes,” Nara said, a look of embarrassment on his face. His hands and tail drooped, almost letting the food he was carrying touch the ground. Rainbow Dash lifted his hands and looked him in the eyes.
“It’s ok to be scared, and it’s ok to admit it. I’ve had to tell my little sister this on occasion. It’s true for her and it’s true for you. Whatever comes next, we’ll get through it together, no sweat.”
“You really think so?”
“Naturally! I haven’t been properly scared since I realized how awesome I am, but that doesn’t apply to everybody. Nor should it. So long as you’re with us, just be yourself. That’s all we ask of our friends. Now let’s go eat some ice cream!”
“Yeah,” Nara said, as he wiped away a tear with his forearm. The crossing light turned green and they were on their way once more.

“These all look so fun!” Pinkie Pie said, excitedly as she hunted through the isles of the store for the best party supplies. “The goodies here are all Pokémon themed, and some even look like fictional Pokémon super heroes!”
“You’re basket is quite full, miss,” the elderly clerk said from the check out counter as Pinkie made another round through his store. “Are you planning something big?”
“Nah, just something fun for my friends and I. We’ve had some pretty wild adventures lately, and things have finally settled down for a bit. I’m planning on celebrating with my girls and our little Pokémon buddies!”
“I hope you enjoy yourselves, miss,” the man said as he bagged Pinkie Pie’s purchases a few moments later. “And thanks again, for Route 210. My sister lives up there in Celestic Town and said the Pokémon are calmed down quite a lot now. That warms my heart. People and Pokémon were meant to live in harmony, you know.”
He paused for a second as Pinkie Pie pulled some cash out of her purse. God’s Breath had given them quite a bit of money, and if for any reason they needed more all they had to do was ask. The clerk wiped a tear from his eye as Pinkie Pie handed him the money, then he gently pushed her hand away.
“It’s free, miss. No need.”
“I do have quite a few things,” Pinkie Pie said in surprise. She looked back at the four shelves she had emptied out. “Are you sure?”
“You know,” the clerk said, pausing for a second as he considered his words. He had a slow, careful way of speaking. “There were rumors that those violent Pokémon were recruiting others and would be moving south. If they’d done that, the whole area would have been cut off. Folks were real worried about what would have happened if they’d cut off the areas around Mt. Coronet, especially with all the news of more violent groups sprouting up around Twinleaf and Sandgem. Pokémon are powerful creatures, miss. Our society relies on their help to succeed. If they really wanted to do some damage, there’s not a lot we could do to stop them without our own Pokémon backing us up. The Pokémon in the wild outnumber the ones living with humans and… It just wouldn’t have been good, you see.”
“There are a lot of really good people and Pokémon in the world,” Pinkie Pie said. The man’s hands had gripped into nervous fists as he explained the fears of his society. She placed her hands over his and smiled. “Don’t worry, mister. Things always work out in the end. The bad guys lose and everyone learns from their mistakes. Life is resilient like that.”
She left the money on the counter, assuring the man that she had plenty more where that came from, and left the store with her goods. The sun was shining and Leon was standing outside, balancing a playful Rattata on his nose. Leon jumped, throwing the Rattata in the air, and blowing a bubble to catch it just before the surprised Pokémon fell to the ground. The people cheered and so did the Rattata. Leon bowed as he popped the bubble and his impromptu partner leapt to the ground.
“Is that your Pokémon?” a woman in the crowed asked. She wore a long, brown jacket over a tidy business outfit. Several other people were dressed in similar fashion, but most of the onlookers were dockworkers from down the street.
“Yup!” Pinkie Pie replied. “He’s my partner. His name’s Leon.”
Leon clapped his flippers and barked happily, refraining from using human speech around strangers.
“He’s quite skilled! I have some berries here that I’d like him to have, if he’s interested.”
Leon barked again in thanks as Pinkie Pie took a paper sack from the woman. It was full of Oran Berries.
“Thank you so much!” Pinkie Pie said.
“Hey, your little friend is a Popplio, right?” a dockworker asked.
“He sure is!”
“You should head over to the second pier, then. Some of my co-workers say they saw some Brionne near there. No idea what those Pokémon are doing so far from Alola’s waters, but they stopped for a break here in Canalave.”
Leon barked again, even more excited than before.
“My friend says yes,” Pinkie Pie said, interpreting his cries thanks to Sunset Shimmer’s spell. She thanked the man for his tip and ran off down the street, Leon close behind. Minutes later they were at the docks, slightly short of breath and surrounded by busy dockworkers. Men and women rushed about the piers, moving crates and taking count of their stock. Pinkie Pie asked one of them about the Brionne that had come to rest in the harbor. She was pointed to the end of the docks, to an empty space where no ship was anchored. A group of Pokémon was playing there, while passing dockworkers tossed them berries and Poké Beans.
“They’re here!” Leon yelled, happily. He jumped off of the edge of the pier and into the water below, diving below the docks at high speeds to swim to the Brionne on the other side.
“Wait up!” Pinkie Pie cried as she ran along the walkway. She arrived just as Leon poked his head above the water in the middle of the playing Pokémon.
“Little Leon!” one of the Brionne shouted. She lifted the Popplio into the air and tossed him playfully. The other Brionne caught him in a tight hug. He blushed slightly, but he was smiling just as brightly as the Brionne that embraced him.
“It’s so good to see you!” another Brionne said as the hug released and they began to greet him properly.
“Is that your human friend?” a third Brionne asked. “What region is she from? Why is she so pink?”
“Because I’m Pinkie Pie!” the girl said as she sat down next to several Brionne on the pier and draped her legs over the edge. “Are these Pokémon your friends, Leon?”
“I’m his big sister, Laurie!” said the Brionne next to Pinkie Pie. She had a star shaped mark around her left eye that Pinkie suspected was marker, but it was pretty so she said as much and received a hug in return.
“I’m his big brother, Lucas,” said the Brionne next to Laurie. He was larger than the rest, but only slightly. Pinkie Pie asked if he was strong and he said his physical attacks were the best in their colony.
“He’s also the slowest,” teased another Brionne from the water. This one was thin, with a seaweed bracelet wrapped around her flipper. It had patterns in it made from sparkling stones that shined in the sunlight. “I’m Leon’s second big sister, May. Thank you for taking care of our little brother, Pinkie Pie!”
“No problem my Pokéfriends. He’s done a great job of taking care of me too, ya’ know.”
The Brionne cheered. Pinkie Pie and Leon stayed with them for an hour, and Pinkie got to know all of them by name. It was a joyful reunion.
“Why are you guys here in Sinnoh?” Leon asked after his colony had finished a third uplifting song. The dockworkers that had gathered to hear the music were dispersing, talking happily amongst themselves as they left their breaks and went back to work.
“We’re headed out to sea,” Laurie said. “We’re going to God’s Breath to join the military effort. The princesses aren’t taking any chances. They’re going to be entering a new world that’s already full of danger. The armies of Equestria are gathering too, just in case.”
“So, they expect something as terrible as last time?”
“Neither the High Council, or the princess are sure. It could be a big conflict, or it could just be nothing at all.”
“There’s also the threat of Arceus,” May said. “Word has it, the god is watching your group pretty closely.”
“I wonder if that’s what I felt in the mountain,” Pinkie Pie mused. “It was like there were eyes on me all the time, especially in that final cave. We never saw anything, though.”
“You seem like a great person,” Lucas said as he put a large flipper on Pinkie Pie’s shoulder.
“You all seem really great, too!”
“We’re going to have to leave in the morning, though. Can we spend the rest of the day with Leon?”
“Of course! In fact, if your colony is interested, I’ve got a party planned for my friends and I tonight. We’d love it if you were there.”
“Me too!” Leon said, excitedly.
“In fact, we can have it right here at the docks. So long as we clean up after ourselves, I don’t think anyone would care.”
The Brionne cheered. With her idea a hit, Pinkie Pie began explaining how the colony could begin preparing for the party on their end. She explained her ideas, some of them she had just thought up, and the part was set. Leaving the joyful Pokémon with a bag of supplies, Pinkie Pie skipped her way out of the docks and back to the truck where her friends awaited her.

“So, we’re going to a party with a group of Brionne tonight?” Cynthia said as she sat next to Sunset Shimmer in the truck. Pinkie Pie had returned moments before with the news, and was outside explaining her ideas to her friends.
“Looks like it,” Sunset Shimmer said.
“Pinkie Pie talked like she understood the Pokémon’s words. That’s a very unique trait. Incredibly rare.”
“I can understand them, and my human counterpart can, too,” Fluttershy said. “That’s due to our magic, though.”
“It’s not that I doubt Pinkie. Pokémon are incredibly intelligent creatures. They can get their points across to us, even without words, but Pinkie Pie spoke as if she had carried on a full conversation.”
“She had,” Sunset Shimmer said. “I enchanted her and the others, giving them the power to speak to Pokémon and understand their language.”
“But how?” Cynthia asked, surprise and curiosity finally overcoming her desire to respect her new friend’s secrets. “I don’t mean to sound rude, but… What are you?”
“I’m a unicorn pony,” Sunset Shimmer said, casting the spell that took down the illusions around Fluttershy and herself. Cynthia’s eyes widened in surprise.
“I’m a pegasus pony,” Fluttershy said, shyly.
“We’re not Pokémon, but we are friends with them and we do have a mission to help them. The girls outside are all one hundred percent human, just like you. Together, with the Pokémon that have chosen to help us, we are trying our best to fix the rift growing between humans and Pokémon.”
“If you know the root of this problem, then I must ask you to tell me what it is. It’s spreading here and in other regions. I must know what I can do to help.”
Sunset Shimmer and Fluttershy shared a reserved look.
“We’re not really allowed to tell you that,” Fluttershy said after a moment. “I’m not even sure we’re the best qualified for it.”
“Then who is?”
“I can give you the power to speak to Pokémon,” Sunset Shimmer said. “You can ask them yourself, if you want. Though, you may not like what they tell you.”
Cynthia removed a pokéball from her belt and looked at it for a minute in silence.
“I want to understand and help the Pokémon of my world,” she said, still looking at her pokéball. “I want to speak to those Brionne and hear their words.”
Sunset Shimmer closed her eyes, focusing her magic on the spell she needed. It was an old one, meant to break language barriers so ponies could understand each other better. It hadn’t been widely used in centuries. Twilight Sparkle had given it to her from her own collection.
Cynthia was bathed in light for a moment. When the spellcasting was complete, she held up her hands and stared at them.
“I don’t feel different.”
“You aren’t, except you can understand the speech of Pokémon now,” Sunset Shimmer said. “It’s not perfect. You’ll still hear their normal cries mixed in with their words, but you’ll be able to understand them most of the time. The Pokémon we’re traveling with are different, though. They can already speak human languages.”
“Thank you,” Cynthia said, as questions ran through her mind. “I’ve got much to think about with my new… ability.”
“Use it well. I’ve revealed Fluttershy and myself to you. I’ve given you a power you’re not supposed to have. Our mission was simple observation and reporting. We’ve broken those rules, now.”
“You didn’t have to do this.”
“It’s something we’ve been discussing today,” Fluttershy replied. “Sunset Shimmer’s been laid up in this truck and I’ve been keeping her company. We decided that we want to trust you and, well, the humans of this world deserve a say, too. Please be responsible with this information. Don’t tell anyone that we’re not Keldeo, and don’t rush to action based on what you learn of the problems facing the wild Pokémon of your world.”
“Thank you,” Cynthia said. She stood up and turned to leave. “I promise, I won’t let you down.”