AGNPH Stories

Pretty in Pink by Arcane_Reno


Author's Chapter Notes:

Pokemon is (c) of Nintendo. No infringement is intended. 

Pretty In Pink

Nothing captured the essence of the word ‘pristine’ like a field of new-fallen snow. Haku’s boots crunched through its top crust with each step, sinking into the softer fluff beneath. The temperature had dropped after last night’s fall, meaning further snow today was unlikely. Good.

Pica, his castform companion for the day, trilled a pleasant, lilting melody as she floated alongside him. Despite the weak rays of sunlight trickling through the familiar shroud above, her snow cloak swirled about her like some magician’s cape.  

Haku grinned at the little creature. “I know you’re okay with anything, but you like the cold, don’t you, girl?”

She bobbed midair, smiling back at him, and warbled, shaking several flakes of snow from her cloak to settle on the ground. He’d yet to see her--or her two counterparts inside the station--change into their other seasonal forms (aside from their default ‘normal’ one). But, Pica always seemed most content wearing her winter skin.

“I suppose it’s easier to appreciate when you don’t have to armor against it.” He gestured to the puffy fabric of his orange windbreaker and thick winter pants, his hands similarly muffled in thick gloves lined with mareep wool. “But, I can’t blame you. This is an exceptionally beautiful day. Not even any wind chill.”

She gave a happy cry as he crunched to a halt next to the greenhouse, peering down at the thermostat set by the entrance. “Negative fifteen degrees celsius--a balmy day in the Orange islands, best get out your suntan lotion!” Chuckling to himself, he opened the door, a blast of warmer air fogging his glasses before he could slip inside, Pica floating in behind him. Haku hurried to shut the door against the elements, keeping as much heat within as possible.

Doffing his gloves and hood onto a table by the entrance, Haku unzipped one of his large jacket pockets, pulled out a weathered g-gear and powered it on. There were newer devices, yes, but the sturdy successor to the popular c-gear proved to be one of the most resilient in harsh conditions, and he’d always had a soft spot for older tech. He began moving along the neat rows of specimen pots, recording changes and sending the data to the station’s server for processing.

Every two meters, a mid-size space heater chugged dutifully away, powered by banks of solar panels arranged protectively around the little greenhouse. Small pipes ran through them, connected to sprinkler heads above the plants, timed to mist melted snow over the specimens at regular intervals appropriate for the relevant group. Pica--her snow cloak evaporated now that they were indoors--ducked behind him each time they passed a heater. Haku gave her a reassuring grin. “I’m nothing but a heat-shield to you? That’s alright. Far be it for me to be un-chivalrous.”

Halfway through their round, a verdant flash stopped Haku in his tracks. He leaned down, inspecting the specimen--1352. A hopeful bud nudging through the soil.

“Well, hello there, beautiful!”

Checking the scanner, he verified the composition: a strain of cereus tetragonus cacti, red cedar, and maize. Quite the mongrel, and yet, it had passed the germination phase. Looking up, Haku nodded at Pica. “If you would be so kind, my dear.”

The castform trilled, and floated down next to the pot. Tilting and reaching with one of her stubby limbs, she tapped the bud.

Haku waited, watching both the pokémon and the plant. Nothing happened. Not a complete write-off, but... Sighing, he logged the data, flagging the specimen as ‘further observation and testing required’. Its nutritional values were on the lower end anyhow, so at the worst, they had a resilient supplement, assuming its combination of enzymes didn’t prove toxic to the human body, like many of the other specimens to pass germination.

Pica warbled a query, and Haku shook his head. “Next one, girl.” They moved on.

The rest of the round proved uneventful, and consumed the better part of an hour. Haku rolled the stiffness from his neck as they returned to the entrance, before putting on his gloves and once more raising his hood, keeping the g-gear in hand. “Ready to check the outsiders?”

His counterpart burbled an affirmative, her smile widening as he pulled open the door. Haku suppressed a shiver as he stepped out. After the relative warmth of the greenhouse, that drop back to negative felt like a swift kick in the tenders. He set a fast pace, compensating via exertion. Pica bobbed along behind him, humming her melody again, once more graced by her cloudy aura.

The ‘outsiders’ were a combination of saplings grown months earlier, then brought into the elements for testing, and sensory equipment monitoring soil, weather patterns, and astronomical data. Various ‘pods’, marked by orange flagpoles he could see from almost anywhere on the base, lay in a scattered semicircle around the station, their position dictated by the requirements of the sensors or plants. Starting at the top of the small hill where the star-tracker and several saplings stood, Haku collected the next round of information, updating the database with each pod’s results from the past week.

Unsurprisingly, none of the saplings showed any growth. One in the final pod, set amongst a small grove of long-dead palms, had frozen solid, its delicately grooved bark gray and lifeless. Haku gave it a farewell pat before shuffling its data to the ‘graveyard’ of the archived specimens.

“Well, fun as this has been, I’d rather like some hot soup. What do you say, girl, time to head in?”

Pica bobbled--which Haku interpreted as a shrug. He shrugged back, and turned to head towards the station, when a soft, bestial groan stopped him in his tracks.

“Did you hear that, or am I going nuts?”

The castform whistled an affirmative, nodding across the grove in the direction of the beach. Another grunting, plaintive cry--the distinct and universal sound of pain.

“What in the world…”

Pica at his side, Haku moved towards the sound, caution warring with sympathy. With the exception of the odd migratory wailmer breaching the deeper, unfrozen waters further out, this island was devoid of life as far as he knew. Not enough food to support a population, only a few bushes containing the hardiest of berries--the sour aspear--which many species wouldn’t eat in the first place. Had something crossed the ice connecting the archipelago to the mainland? Hopefully not a hungry beartic or weavile…

Cresting the ridge separating the grove from the beach, Haku spotted the source of the commotion. Not a roaming predator, but a small, cervine creature, not even as tall as his waist. One of its back legs lay stuck beneath a sizable rock from a lumpy pile--it must have been attempting to climb the pile, not realizing that the rocks lay loose beneath the deceptive covering of snow. Spotting him, the creature gave one of its long, mournful cries, adopting such a look of utter defeat, Haku’s heart melted into a gooey puddle.

“Hey, easy, it’s alright.” Moving slow as not to startle the pokémon, he approached, one hand outstretched. “Where did you come from? For that matter, what are you? You’re definitely not from Kanto.”

Sorrowful chocolate eyes stared back at him, dark nostrils quivered, puffs of labored breath forming a fog around its head. Dun fur covered its back, fading to a cream on its belly down to its hooves. Between perky ears, a bright yellow crest in the vague shape of a flower perched.

“Grass type, I presume?” Halting a few paces away, Haku saw that the small ‘mons leg was bent at an unnatural angle. He winced. “Nasty. But, fear not! You’ve come to the right island… Sort of. I mean, other islands might not have left you in this state in the first place, but, no matter! I’m here to help.” Dotting the snow near the creature, small imprints leading in a trail up and across the island, nearly filled in from last night’s fall, told the tale. “Your friends left you behind, huh? Those blackguards. Stay put, will you? I’ll be back in a tick.” Nodding to Pica, he added, “Keep an eye on our friend for me?”

Pica trilled, floating closer to the foreign pokémon, and burbling out a stream of reassuring gibberish, which, fortunately, the creature appeared to understand, its ears perking.

“Deer. Deerling.”

“Huh. Guess I know what to call you now.” Haku turned away from the jabbering pair and jogged back in the direction of the station. He didn’t have a large supply of pokémon medical solutions, but he could spare some to help this lost nomad get back on its feet.

He was decidedly short of breath by the time he made it home, gasping as he opened the heavy metal door of the research facility, and ducking into its warmth. A pair of trills welcomed him, Exo and Tera, Pica’s brother and sister, bobbing up from their resting places in the station’s common area to greet him.

“Let this be a lesson to you,” Haku wheezed. “Running in sub-zero climates is a bad idea.”


“No, nothing wrong, but we found a friend, one who needs help.” Catching his breath, Haku moved to the small kitchen area, opened the cupboard beneath the stovetop, and rummaged about among the first aid supplies until he found a velcro auto-splint and a super potion. Exo and Tera peered over his shoulder, warbling and bobbing, infected by his excitement. Next, he raided the food cupboard, coming out with a small bowl of species universal nutri-kibble. The castform were incredibly low maintenance, and the supply he had would last for the better part of a year for the three. They could spare it.

“I’ll tell you two all about it when I get back. Don’t worry, Pica is fine.” Waving at the two curious pokémon, he headed back out into the cold, adopting a more moderate pace this time, and making his way back to the trapped visitor.

When he arrived back at the beach, he found Pica floating dutifully next to the small grass pokémon, the pair murmuring softly to one another. Upon his approach, they stilled, fixing him with expectant looks as if to say, “What took you so long?”

“Pardon the wait, folks,” Haku said, kneeling down next to the deerling, who accepted his presence calmly, thanks to Pica’s intervention. “Let’s see about fixing up our friend here.” Gripping the rock in gloved palms, Haku shoved, grunting at the weight of it. It was almost too heavy for him to move, or maybe it was simply frozen to its brethren. But, if he put his back into it…



Grumbling protests, the rock tilted, slid, and tumbled aside, freeing its prisoner. Both the deerling and Pica gave happy cries, and Haku couldn’t resist taking a small bow.

“One of the many services I offer. Now, let’s see that leg.”

The deerling helpfully lifted the affected limb, a shudder rolling down its spine. Haku doffed a glove, hissing at the sudden bite of cold, and examined his patient. The poor thing was slat-ribbed, but didn’t seem to be overly bothered by the cold. Female, and, judging by the tracks, travelling in a herd. Haku passed his fingers over the break, ruffling the downy fur. Good, no broken skin, and overall, not a complete break. He’d still need to set it though. He glanced up.

“Bear with me, darling. I’m afraid I’m a botanist, not a doctor, so this might hurt more than it should.”

“Deer.” The creature braced herself, those trusting eyes closing.

Haku gripped the leg on either side of the break, gritted his teeth, and pulled.


The only reaction from the deerling was a soft whimper and a shiver. Pica seemed more affected, bobbling and warbling distress. Haku whistled.

“That’s some incredible pain tolerance. You really are a hardy one, aren’t you? I guess that’s self-evident given that your species made it through the Calamity.” Most of the grass-types had perished in their natural habitat, either in the fires, or in the bitter cold to follow. “That’s the worst of it though, don’t worry.”

He pulled the splint from his jacket pocket, wrapping it tight, and holding the limb rigid in its natural position. Then, he applied the super potion’s healing mist over the area, marvelling as the worst of the injury’s effects melted away like snow in spring. “That should do it. Try standing on it.”

She did, placing a hesitant hoof down, then gradually allowing her weight to settle. A slight wince, but the leg held, and she let out a happy, “Deeeer!”

“No frisking or jumping about on it, but you’ll be right as rain in a few days, I’ll wager,” Haku said. The incredible pokémon recovery rate would do the rest of the work. “Before you take off though, I have another present for you.” He removed the bowl of food from his other pocket. Some of the kibble had spilled out, and he dumped the wayward pellets from his pocket back into the bowl before setting it down before her. “A feast, as one would never find in this winter wonderland!”

Pica trilled--some kind of explanation or translation. The grass-type leaned down, giving the bowl a cautious sniff.


“I know, I’m a saint. You can tell your friends all about what they missed when you catch up to them.” Haku glanced up at the dark sky--a few gloomy clouds boiling up over the ocean, but otherwise a clear enough day to allow watery trickles of sun through the shroud. He took a seat on the snow next to the little creature as she began to eat. “I guess your herd is migrating in search of food. I’m afraid you won’t find much here, though some of the larger islands might have a better crop of aspears. Once the thaw hits, you’ll be stuck on whichever island you pick though. The ice gets too thin between here and the mainland, you see.”

Pica twittered at him. Haku shrugged. “Just making conversation.”

The deerling looked up at him, munching delicately on the kibble, her soulful eyes full of trust. Haku was sorely tempted to encourage her to stick around, offer him some alternative company to the three castform. But, his supplies weren’t calculated for a variable like this, and she might present other risks--what if she ate some of the specimens, or introduced a disease to an otherwise healthy stock?

“Do you remember the moon, girl?”

“Deer?” A tilt of the head, those long ears wiggling.

Haku chuckled. “No, I guess not. You’re probably younger than my daughter, and she’s never seen it. Me? I was in my late teens when the Calamity happened. I still recall summer nights spent outside, stargazing, looking up at a full, bright moon.” He pointed at the sky, opposite the anemic sun. “Picture a big silver light, hanging there all perfect and round. Pretty crazy, right?”

“Ling. Deerling.”

“They say it was a pokémon who did it, you know. One of the legendaries--Arceus, or maybe Palkia or Cressellia. Perhaps several at once, working together to put the moon in front of that comet, saving the world from obliteration.” He shrugged. “If so, it worked, sort of. We’re still here, right? Not really their fault we still got bombarded with shrapnel.” He’d thought at the time that nothing could be worse than the fires--the sky stained crimson, then pitch from ash and dust thrown high into the atmosphere, occasionally sliced by another falling star.

The deerling’s bowl lay empty, licked clean. She watched him with those deep eyes, nose quivering.

“It’s quite the dog’s breakfast, but, you know what they say--where there’s life, there’s hope, right?” Haku stood, dusting snow off the seat of his pants. “Speaking of, I’m afraid that’s the best I can do for you. I need to be getting back to work.” The words seemed to stick in his throat. “You ought to catch up with your herd.” He scooped up the bowl and the empty super potion. No sense leaving trash lying about. “Come along, Pica.”

“Deer.” The creature took a step towards him, then stopped, tilting her head. “Deerling?”

Haku shook his head, turning away. “Take care of that leg, alright?”

“Castform.” Pica floated next to his shoulder, bobbling, and casting a glance over at the grass-type. “Caast.”

“Deer…” Snow crunched beneath tiny hooves, fading into the distance.

Haku didn’t look back, but his boots seemed to weigh a ton with every step, all the way to the station.




Upon returning home, Haku prepared a meal of canned stew to warm his bones, then absorbed himself in work, poring over the updated datasheets and graphs from today’s collections. The three castform babbled away amongst themselves, Pica obviously sharing their adventures with the mysterious pokémon. He was trying to blot out the image of those expressive eyes. He’d given her a chance dammit! What more could he have done? If she caught up with her herd, and they collectively found a decent food source…

He dove into the sequencing algorithm, referencing the database to find the current starting point for new combinations. The problem lay in finding a strain that could both survive, and thrive, in the current conditions, and also be fit for human consumption. Oh, and of course, they had to sequence into a living seed, incompatibilities aside. Aspears, sadly, had rejected everything he had attempted to combine with them so far, and the berries themselves weren’t enough to solve the issue, as proved by the current shortage. It was a bit like trying every possible combination on a lock until the right one was located. Six months of work, 1398 attempts and counting...

Somewhere in the middle of sequencing, Haku dozed off, jarred awake by the harsh buzz of his holo-transceiver. He rubbed bleary eyes, shoved his glasses up his nose, and glanced over. Sue, the display read. Haku rolled his chair over and tapped the ‘answer’ button.

On the display, a 3D image of his wife appeared, her smile brightening the instant he picked up. “Hey there, handsome. How’re things in the tropics?”

“You know, same old, same old. A lot of numbers, not much change. Still cold.” She’d even put on lipstick today, though its ruby shade paled in comparison to her natural beauty in his opinion--those long dark bangs, the dimples of her smile... “Is there a special occasion I’ve forgotten?”

One eyebrow arched. “It’s your birthday, silly. Though I guess I’m not surprised you didn’t remember. Happy birthday!”

Haku slapped his forehead. “Right, of course! Thanks, hon.”

“Daddy!” A pink blur from the side of the camera resolved itself into Cara, bouncing into Sue’s lap with all the exuberance of her seven years. “Happy birthday, daddy! We had aspear cake for you today, and look what I made!” She thrust a sheet of paper towards the camera; a picture, lovingly rendered in crayon, of two taller stick figures holding hands with a third, shorter one, standing in a green field splashed with flowers, a bright sun overhead. A small brown quadruped stick figure frolicked at their feet.

“Wow, that’s really great, sweetheart! I take it’s that’s us? Did you see a picture like that in one of your books?”

“Yup!” She pointed at the figures in turn. “Mom, me, Dad, and Rocco!” At the last, she trailed off into a fit of coughs, bending over and hacking into her elbow, like she’d been taught. Sue steadied her on her lap, her brow creasing until the fit passed, and the girl could once more sit upright on her own. Over Cara’s shoulder, two filmy wings bounced.

“That’s amazing, sweetie. And what did you do with your jacket?”

“Mommy helped me do that. I was reading about the fairies, and wanted to be one!” She bounced on Sue’s knee, giggling as the two wings sewn onto the puffy coat flapped.

“Yes, and she’s barely taken it off since,” Sue said, with a meaningful look at Haku. She herself was dressed in a white parka, zipped up to the neck. “Not even in bed.”

“Well, fairies have to sleep too.” Cara had previously fought the concept of wearing her jacket indoors, no matter how cold it was. Any excuse to keep her properly layered was a good one. “I met a friend today, you know.”

“What?” Cara cried out. “Tell us, tell us!” Her exuberance dissolved into more coughing. Haku waited patiently for it to pass, before relating the story of his encounter with the new pokémon. He left out the part about feeling like an executioner for sending her on her way into the elements. In the middle of the conversation, the three castform clustered up behind him, peering over his shoulder and joining in with their warbles and trills, making Cara giggle.

After a bit more light banter, Sue patted Cara on the shoulder. “Okay, time to say goodbye to daddy. Mommy needs to speak with him a while.”

“Okay. Bye! Love you!” Cara waved, and slid off Sue’s lap, fairy wings fluttering.

Haku waited a few moments, then said. “That cough…”

“Just a cold. I’ve given her some antibiotics, and Rocco is cuddling up with her at night. It’s getting better, slowly.”

Haku nodded. Rocco, the little vulpix he and Sue had taken in as a companion for Cara, would cheerfully give anything for the girl. “How’s the food holding out?”

Sue wavered a gloved hand. “We’re managing. Professor Birch is making sure we get a ration from the research center every week. Honestly, we’re in better shape than most, I should think. How are things down there?”

“I’m fine, though I wish I could say there’d been more progress. So far, the best I’ve managed is a maybe edible, low-nutrition bud that might not make it outside.”

“And the others?”

“Same. I think I’m the only station to get that far.”

Sue nodded, her brow creasing once more. “Hang in there, handsome. I know it’s tough, but what you’re doing is worth it.”

“I know.” Still. It hurt. “Remember picnics? I’d love to take Cara on one some day.”

“Best get cracking then, Mr. Botanist.”

He snapped a salute. “Yes ma’am!”

That brought a giggle. “Love you, dork.”

“Love you too.”

The display winked off, leaving him alone with the three warbling castform. Haku drew his knees to his chest, rocking slowly back and forth on the chair. It felt like a golf ball had lodged itself in his throat, and he reached a finger beneath his glasses to rub his eyes. Stupid, itchy eyes.

“Happy birthday to me…”




Three months oozed by, days spent logging data, sequencing combinations, and tending the hopeful specimens. The thermostat gradually crawled its way back into the positive, and by the time June rolled about, it was warm enough to begin melting the knee-deep snow.

“You see, this is more like it!” Haku exclaimed to Exo, his partner for the day. “Can you feel the vitamin D revitalizing your soul?”

The castform burbled, his eyes wide as he peered about at the dead palms dripping meltwater, his cloak burst into its bright orange sun form. Similarly, Haku had shucked most of his outer layers, the balmy five degrees allowing him out and about in nothing but a light sweater.

“Today is the day, I can taste it. We’re going to find a success case.” Haku nodded, grinning like a fool as they headed for the greenhouse. Some of the maize strains were showing a lot of promise, and he had particularly liked the look of the one bearing douglas fir DNA. He hummed a tune while examining his little fighters, his mood un-dampened by the lack of change. Most of these had only been a couple weeks in the pot, so it was too early to write them off yet. 2055 attempts and counting...

Many of the outsiders hadn’t survived through the winter, but, Haku made it a point to visit all of the pods regardless. He still needed the sensory data, and moreover, it was respectful! He awarded each living sapling a friendly pat and an encouraging word, and the desiccated ones a solemn nod. They’d fought hard, and their valor was recorded in the annals of the database. The remaining saplings had yet to bear fruit, but, at least some had recorded an inch or two of growth!

“What do you think, Exo,” Haku said, leaning on an evergreen shrub that came up to his waist. “Does this one look tasty? Can you see this on the supermarket shelves?”           

The castform trilled, a small ribbon of flame circling him like a halo.

“No? What about that one over there?” Haku pointed to a thin seedling reaching hopefully to the sky. “Conifers are edible to some species, and with all the berry DNA we’ve added, this might produce something amazing. Why, I’ll bet--”

A rustle and a crunch of snow. Exo babbled a warning. Haku spun about.


“Well, I’ll be a pansage’s uncle!” Haku stared at the brightly adorned creature frisking towards him, her steps light and quick despite the blue velcro wrapped about one hind leg. “How in the world did you get back here?”


Exo whistled a query.

“Yup, this is the one.” Haku knelt, greeting the little grass-type, who didn’t hesitate to prance up and nuzzle his outstretched hand. “The ice is too thin to cross by now, surely. Did you stay here all winter?”

“Deer.” She tossed her head, long ears twitching. Haku could have sworn he saw a hint of satisfaction in that chocolate gaze. It was entirely possible for her to have hidden from his sight, holing up somewhere and surviving off the island’s aspear crop. Small as his corner of the world was, he didn’t exactly explore the island in his free time.

“Stubborn little thing,” he murmured. “Look at you though! You’ve changed! Not evolved, but…” Where once had been a dull brown, the creature was now clad in vivid pink, the yellow flower on her head brighter and in full bloom. A whiff of floral fragrance teased Haku’s nose, promising spring and growth and life.

“Incredible…” Absently, he rubbed between the little pokémon’s ears, her happy cry widening his grin. “You adapted, and survived. This is how your species stuck around until now. A grass-type that can make it through the winter unaided, and… Wow, wow, wow!” The implications were like fireworks exploding in his mind; a new set of variables that changed everything.

Looking the little creature in the eye, Haku took a deep breath, calming his frazzled nerves. “Okay, I know this is a bit sudden, but I need your help… No, the entire world does. Will you come with me?”

The beautiful, rosy-pink pokémon frisked, and nuzzled into his hand.

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”


“Fine. Yes, dear.”

Chuckling, Haku lead his new companion back to the station. He couldn’t wait to show her to Cara.

Chapter End Notes:

Liked the story? Hated it? Please leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts! 

    Date:Aug 29 2016

    A nice little story keep me entertained at work. I do like the whole scientific angle of the story. 

    Date:Feb 11 2023

    It was touching. I assime this is a one shot?

    Date:Feb 11 2023


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