((Um, yeah. Another Thierry story. Whoo. This one is a prequel. There is no Central Square here, Thierry's still a Sneasel, and this time he's not gonna go downing legendaries. The title is just a working one, so it may or may not change by the end. One more thing... feedback. Writers crave it. Or I do, anyway. I don't want to sound desperate, but it really does help when I find a PM in my inbox that lets me know somebody's reading my stuff. XD I'm not just looking for somebody to stroke my ego, either: constructive criticism makes my day. If you thought my story sucked, or it was so boring you only read three sentences before you fell asleep and broke your nose on the keyboard, then PM me and tell me why. I'll thank you for it and maybe offer bandaids for your nose. So without further ado... here's the actual story.)) It wasn't very often that exciting things happened in the little town of Northvale. Believe me, I'd been living there all my life. It'd been a different story about twenty-odd years ago, in the days of the gold rush, but now that the sparkly veins had been bled dry, any Pokemon heading north had the sense to stop their travels at Frostview City. Anybody who kept going north ended up in Northvale, and once they realized that all we had to keep us entertained was a church and a seedy boozehole, they'd turn right back around again. Still, we were a big enough town to have our problems, and they ended up being responsible for most of the exciting things that did happen around here. Not that this was always a bad thing. Today was the perfect example of that. If Northvale never had problems, then I wouldn't be reading the letter in my hands. But just as sure as I had two feet underneath me, it was there, it was real, and it wasn't a joke. Hey, Thierry! Great news! I found another person who wants to join us in our eternally noble quest to answer the troubles of helpless Pokemon in exchange for money and shiny items. I stopped by your house earlier to tell you about it, but you weren't home, so I just stuffed this note in your mailbox. Your parents already know--sorry, I kinda spoiled the surprise--so get over to our usual spot ASAP! You hafta meet the new guy, and we need to celebrate the official birth of Team Silvertongues. Congrats, Mr. Blackwell, you are now part of a bona-fide rescue team. (Go ahead, say it out loud. Gives you the shivers, doesn't it?) --Aycee "Congrats, Mr. Blackwell, you are now part of a bona-fide rescue team." I whispered under my breath. I was grinning like an idiot, and I'd accidentally punctured holes into the paper with my claws, but I didn't care. Good old Aycee. We'd known each other since we were in eggshells, and forming a rescue team had always been something we'd talked about. I'd never really expected that somebody like me would ever be rescue team material; I was small, scrawny, and lopsided, with my solitary pink ear all long and awkward, even by Sneasel standards. Of course, Aycee always joked that she wasn't rescue team material, either. I always kind of suspected she only did it to make me feel better, though. Aycee was born to be on a rescue team. She was the toughest Raichu I'd ever seen, and fearless to boot. The unknown was an adventure for her, not something to be feared. It was something I'd always admired, but had never really been able to emulate. Only Aycee could be so strong, but so gentle too. Only Aycee was capable of being so scary and so cute at the same time. Only Aycee could be... Aycee. And now she'd finally gone and set our dreams into motion. I let out a quiet chuckle as I tucked her letter away and turned away from my house, feet kicking up snow as I went into a run. It was a path I'd followed countless times growing up; I could probably reach our usual meeting place blindfolded. I headed away from the town, sticking to the winding path that went past the church and up into the mountains. It was only a short distance until the evergreens started growing in thick and wild, and a little bit past that point you'd find the big, dead stump that had been our meeting place ever since Aycee was a Pichu. Sure enough, she was perched on the weathered wood. A Breloom with a red bandana around his neck sat on the ground nearby. So this was our third team member? "About time, Blackwell! If you'dve taken any longer we would have replaced you with a Smoochum." Aycee greeted me with a grin and slid off the stump. "Enoki, I'd like you to meet my best friend, Thierry Blackwell. He's the other member of Team Silvertongues. Thierry... this is Enoki. He's a wandering warrior from the south and he's agreed to stick around for a bit and help us out, since our town technically doesn't even have a rescue team... uh... sorry, mate, I kinda forgot the rest of your story. But you can fill in the blanks for Thierry, right?" The Breloom--sorry, Enoki--chuckled and nodded. His eyes were almost entirely shaded by the brim of his mushroom cap, but the taciturn smile on his face counteracted the dark intensity of his stare. "You got all the important parts anyway, Miss Decii. I come from a long line of warriors. Rescue Team Brelooms. Prizefighters. Dojo masters. Stuff like that. I haven't picked my own path yet, so I figured I'd just kinda wander around, give all of it a shot. I heard Miss Decii here was looking for a fighter, so I told her that I had mastered my family's secret fighting style and would be happy to help out. If I really like the gig, I might stick with it. Dojos are boring and prizefights are usually rigged, so I'm hoping this thing works out. And... yeah, that's the long and short of it." "Enoki... dude. Just call me Aycee. Miss Decii makes me sound like I'm trying to sell cosmetics." Aycee gave her tail an impatient flick, but there was a smile on her face. As absurd as the idea of Aycee peddling lipstick was, I decided not to linger on that thought. "Hey... if you don't mind me asking, Enoki, just what is your family's secret fighting style?" This guy sounded pretty pro. I didn't even have a fighting style, unless "wave your claws frantically and hope the scary thing goes away" counted as a style. Enoki's laidback grin just grew. He didn't say anything at first, just shifted into a fighting stance. He stood on one foot, both his hooflike hands poised for action, then slowly teetered to the left. He took a few staggering steps in an attempt to stay balanced, stumbled over his tail, and quite nearly kicked me in the face as he scrambled to recover. After that little display was over, he fixed me with this earnest little stare. I was spared having to come up with something nice to say, though, when he burst into a laugh. "Like that, buddy? We call that Drunken Fist." I must have been giving Aycee one hell of a look, because she burst out laughing. Team Silvertongue in all its majesty: Aycee the Avon Lady, Thierry the Runty Sneasel, and now Enoki the Booze-Fu Master. Well... it may have been a modest start, but today marked a big step in my life, and a humble beginning was certainly better than no beginning at all.