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Frontier Town Frontier Town Outskirts

Interesting. So Steven's world had its own Champion Steven too. Maybe Steven was named for him... He'd have to ask him some other time.

"I guess it's more than just being adept for me. Training is about..." What was it Kitto always said... "It's discipline too. Keeping the mind and body sharp." And it was the only routine that gave him a sense of familiarity. Normally he'd be doing it with his team but... it was something, at least. "Back on my world, I had a friend who trained all the time. Not just his pokemon, but he was a good fighter. It rubbed off on me."

He hesistated, studying Steven. Would it be weird to offer? Steven was a trainer too, maybe he'd have some helpful insight. And Blake was always saying how much more you learned training with others instead of alone. "Any chance you have any advice? Trainer to trainer?" Or maybe Steven might be willing to train together...
Steven nodded. "Well, they say the best way to get to know a trainer is to battle them. And I haven't done much training myself since we arrived here."

He wasn't entirely sure why he was suggesting this. He could have just left Koamaru to his lonesome and gone back to town.

Was it something else he remembered about the electrike besides the gala? He couldn't quite place it though...

But it was growing darker. Not exactly the best training conditions for accuracy work. But maybe if things went a little faster.

"If you're feeling up for it, perhaps a training partner is a better target than a pile of rocks?"
Koa hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "It might be nice to have a sparring partner, if you don't mind." He missed Kitto, and his team, more than ever. But it was nice to have another trainer helping him, it reminded him of back home.

Although he did feel bad keeping Steven, and it was getting late. "I'll try not to take up too much of your time. I don't suppose you have any experience working with Electrike or electric types?" He frowned. "Or quadrupeds, by any chance?"
"It's no problem," he reassured Koa with a kindly smile. "I'm the one who offered, after all."

A thoughtful look crossed his face at Koa's question. "Hm, I have some, but not enough to be helpful, I think. Although if you're working on target practice..."

Steven floated over to where Koa had set up his target. "There is something I've been meaning to try," he said cryptically, turning to face Koa. "I've seen this done once or twice before."

Truthfully he'd seen it done many times. His partner back home, Metagross, was able to deflect elemental attacks like fire and water with its telekinesis, Steven was only a beldum, and his grasp on psychokinesis was limited at best, but with electricity, perhaps it would work...

"Koamaru!" he called out, "It's dark, but you should be able to see my eye. Aim right for it!"
Koa perked up, curious. Well, if Steven wanted to try something, he definitely wouldn't deny him the chance. His night vision wasn't too bad, and he could still make out Steven's single red eye in the gloom.

He drew upon that spark, letting it crackle over his pelt and holding it for a moment. "Get ready!" he called. Then he shot a small bolt towards Steven, careful not to put too much into it. Enough for a little jolt but without any real power behind it.
Steven braced himself as Koa charged up his attack. He focused, concentrating not on watching Koa, but on himself and his magnetic field. Almost like holding his breath, he let his field build up, and then right as Koa's attack released with a sharp crack, Steven let his energy go.

The bolt found its target-- Koa's aim was sharp-- but rather than hit true, the primary bolt glanced off of Steven's body and struck the ground in a shower of dirt.

Steven stared wide-eyed at the small crater next to him. Spare electricity crackled gently over the remnants of his magnetic shield, and a triumphant laugh bubbled up from the silence.

"Ah-ha!" He cried, finding Koa's gaze with his own, trying not to look too surprised that his crazy idea had worked. "Good shot!"
Had he...? Steven had somehow managed to deflect it. "Sick!" Koa said, eyes widening as he realized what Steven had done. "That was awesome!" His mind began to run, wondering what else they could do with that. If he could do that with Koa's electricity, maybe he could learn to redirect an opponents...

Steven seemed an enthusiastic enough partner for sparring. "Feel like trying again?" he called. "See if you can do it while moving?"
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Koa's enthusiasm was contagious. "Absolutely," Steven replied, his eye-smile becoming sharper with determination. "It'll be a test for us both. Let's see how you do with a moving target this time."

Steven began to skirt in an arc across their makeshift battlefield, not moving as fast as he could, but enough to give his opponent a challenge. He careful to keep his eye facing Koa as he moved. Not only to see when he might attack, but also to give him a target to focus on.
Koa watched Steven as he moved, then fired a quick shot. To his dismay, it went slightly wide, vanishing harmlessly into the night. He could feel his stamina waning slightly, but ignored the sensation.

Anticipate. A second time, he focused and fired a bolt, this one aiming true, closer to where Steven would be instead of where he was.

"See if you can hit me!" he called, more of an amiable taunt than a serious jab.
To Steven's surprise, Koa's first bolt flew wide, just behind where he'd been. "Focus!" he called encouragingly, more out of habit than anything else. "Deep breath, don't rush. Visualize your target even if you can't see it!"

It was getting harder for him to see Koa as well, but his could feel the electrike charging his next attack. Steven was still moving when the second bolt found its mark. It tagged him square in the flank, and he grated out a noise of discomfort.

He'd been trying to aim back at Koa with it, but the hit packed more of a punch than he was expecting. He barely deflected any of the bolt, let alone where he was attempting to aim. Most of the electricity bounded over his magnetic field, but the blow was enough to stunt his levitation, and he nearly hit the ground from the impact.

"Ha, very nice," he breathed, regaining his balance with a slight wobble. "I'm curious though. Is there a reason you're practicing your accuracy in the dark, rather than during the day?"
Steven's question made him hesitate a moment. He remembered being back there in the dark, the only light a burning wagon and firing blindly at the shadows, missing every time- Koa swallowed. His chest knotted. "It's always useful to be able to aim in low light," despite his best effort to speak neutrally, his voice wavered slightly to his annoyance. Did... did Steven know about the wagon?

"Throw a few shots at me, I'll see if I can dodge," he called hopefully. He'd tell Steven soon but he needed to focus. Focus on something else. Just for now. Not the Rattata.
Steven nodded. It was well and truly dark now, but he knew Koa could see the movement of his eye.

"Okay," said Steven, squaring up with Koa. He hesitated slightly. Koa had asked for it, but was there slight nervousness in his tone? "If you're sure."

Steven began his strafing again, circling around Koa in a wide arc. Then, just as the electrike's attack started to charge, Steven changed course. He darted straight for Koa with a flying tackle.
Koa sprang to the side, wincing with the movement. Steven brushed by him, missing by only an inch. Not bad. But not good enough. He grit his teeth against the pain flaring in his chest.

"Come on, faster!" he kept his voice light, but an uneasy restlessness began to creep over him. That thing had moved much faster than that. If he could barely dodge Steven moving slowly he didn't stand a chance next time. "Is that all you got?" Be ready... He had to be faster.
Steven's tackle had been a near miss-- near enough that Koa hadn't even tried to launch his own attack-- yet it looked like Koa winced when he'd landed from his dodge.

It was dark enough now that Steven wasn't sure if that's what he saw. But Koa's shout erased his doubt. It was almost like the electrike was taunting him.

"Well, it's not but I don't see how that'll help with working on your accuracy--"

But Steven stopped himself short. This wasn't his training session. It was Koamaru's. He was just a guest.

"Alright," he said. "Faster, then."

Forgoing his concentration on his magnetic shield, Steven put all his effort into propulsion. He dove at Koa again and again, each time trying to push himself faster.
Take a break. Koa pushed aside the voice in the back of his mind. He was a pokemon here, not a human, he could surely handle 5 more minutes against a foe not trying to kill him. Besides, that was how pokemon grew, wasn't it? Striving and training hard?

Steven shot past him and he managed to move out of the way, watching for cues from the Beldum's body. The Beldum dove again, faster now.

Koa grinned. "It's good to..." He panted to catch his breath "Have balance. Attack and defend." And he'd managed neither in the fight against that Thing. He couldn't undo it but he could do better next time. Steven needed to be ready if they encountered something like that.

"We all need to be able to defend ourselves a little," he said between snatched breaths. It felt like it was getting harder...

Woosh. Steven swept by again. Koa's heart raced. Yes. This was good. Just a little more...

"We tried to sneak out to Terminal Two on the wagon but..."

Sparks flickered around his pelt. In his minds eye he pictured the Charmeleon, slipping in and out of the shadows, and he tensed. "But we never made it..."

Steven rushed again. Koa remembered the feeling of claws ripping through his fur, that eerie white gaze.

"Some kind of beast attacked us, tore us apar-"

- He lunged, but his body responded slow, his legs trembling ever so slighty with weariness. A stifled cry slipped from him as a small crackle of pain flared through his chest. His mind had a second to process it in slow motion - Steven already moving towards him, his legs too tired to move far enough -

The Beldum brushed by him, not hard, but with him already being worn down he grunted and winced in pain as a stray discharge of electricity sparked off his body and arced at Steven.
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Koa managed to dodge again, but only just. Steven frowned slightly. "Agreed, but..." Koa was breathing way too hard for a few simple attacks. "...There's no need to push yourself like this."

But Koa was already squared up for another round, so Steven turned back towards his opponent and charged again.

Another dodge. "Wait... Terminal Two? You were on that mission--?"

Steven looked over his shoulder as he brushed by. He hadn't known who of their team had ended up going. Laura had said she'd take care of it. He rounded on Koa again, eager to hear what happened of the mission. Steven was already mid-charge when Koa gritted out his next words.

"Didn't make it? What happened--?"

Whatever he was expecting Koa to say, he wasn't expecting that.

"What?! Attacked?!"

Suddenly the whole picture snapped into clarity. Koa wasn't struggling because he was inexperienced; he was injured. Steven's eye widened. It was too late to change course. Koa wasn't going to be able to dodge in time.

At the last second, Steven tried to pivot to avoid the worst of the contact. Except as he sideswiped Koamaru, the contact was enough to send an uncontrolled bolt arcing between them.

Focus shattered, there was no shield to dampen the blow and Steven took the full force of the attack. White hot pain lanced up his side, and he let out an involuntary screech as his vision filled with static. Like a switch being flipped, his levitation failed and he dropped to the ground like a rock, the momentum of his attack leaving a small gouge in the dirt behind him. He didn't try to rise again.
"Steven!" Koa cried out, the pain in his chest momentarily forgotten. He grimaced and limped over to Steven's fallen form. Look what you did. "I'm so sorry," he stammered. "I didn't mean..." Stupid. Stupid, careless...

"Are you alright?"
When Koa arrived at Steven's side, he would find Steven awake and alert, staring hard at the ground. At Koa's approaching footfalls, Steven's eye swiveled to find the electrike, but he made no move to pick himself from where he fell.

"Koamaru," he began, voice was heavy with regret, "I'm the one who should be apologizing. For putting you in danger like that."

Steven's gaze fell back to the dirt, flickers of static dancing across his eye. "I... I knew about the plan for the Terminal Two investigation. I had concerns, and... And I didn't speak up."

Another remnant of static disrupted his eye's display as he stared back at Koa.

"And it got you hurt."
Koa frowned, more intent on making Steven was't badly hurt. Why didn't anyone want to blame the one person who'd suggested the plan? At least Steven seemed mostly okay physically.

He glanced away as he spoke. "It's not your fault. It was my idea in the first place and I chose to go," he muttered. He dug his paws into the ground. "We had to try." He said it half under his breath, then quickly shook his head.

Risky maybe, but did everyone here believe they would always be able to formulate a perfect plan when problems arose? "You didn't do anything wrong."
"No, that's not it." Steven shook his head, finally lifting himself back to his normal levitation. "You're right, we had to try. But we're in this as a team, and I failed in my role."

He seemed no worse for wear, floating just fine, and no lingering effects from the electricity. His mood, however, was still sullen.

"I worked with Laura that night. I had the chance to say we were rushing things. That there wasn't enough back up, or precautions. That we had to do more to protect those who volunteered to go. And I didn't."

Steven fixed Koa with his unblinking eye.

"You paid the price for my poor judgement, and for that I'm terribly sorry."

He waited a moment so Koa would see the sincerity of his words before he turned to hover in the direction of town.

"I think in light of this news, we should call it here..."
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