After an hour or two of searching, the triplet stumbled upon their quarry. It took a lot of extensive searching through the torn planks and fallen walls of northern Alomomola, but finally Rionna was within sight. It was purely by accident; huddled around her ball, Rionna had been taking a nap under a partially built stairway when Chulo accidentally collapsed one of the stairs and nearly landed upon her body below. Her first reaction was to stumble back, and for this error she suffered a lump to the back of her head courtesy of the rotted wood.
Payapa looked over her opponent carefully. There didn’t seem to be any immediate, obvious tricks. Rionna was a scruffy child. A tough, yet quiet, Riolu. She wore a tattered little poncho (which Payapa’s parents would have loathed to see within 20 feet of either of their children), and perpetually carried with her the only other possession to her name, her prized toy ball. It was remarkably sturdy despite the beatings it frequently took from Rionna, her brothers, and Payapa. It wasn’t a looker, but it was a fun toy, and that was what mattered to the children.
Rionna wasn’t very pleased to have been woken up from her nap in such a way, but this simply said to Payapa that this girl wasn’t going to be much of a challenge for her hide-and-seek prowess. If she couldn’t even take a successful nap in a good hiding spot, how on earth was she to find such a Kecleon of stealth? After a little bit of chit-chat, Rionna learned of both the reason they sought her out and of the wager on her head. She agreed to play the game. Payapa became suspicious.
Eventually, the question had to be asked. Rionna was the one to do it. “So, which one of us is ‘spost to seek first?”
“Well, you’re not gonna find me, so I might as well go first. That sound all righty with you?”
Rionna stood in silence for a few moments. Chulo and Gail looked at her with slight apprehension. Eventually, Rionna replied. “That’s fine. But what if you find me? Is it my turn to seek then? Or do we end the game?”
At this, the tiny Kecleon laughed. It was a little rude and a little obnoxious, but the idea that she should lose the game was so absurd that she was unable to contain it. Chulo looked on with unease, but Rionna maintained her proud stance. Payapa cut off her laughing upon realizing the others did not find it quite so hilarious, and then fumbled around for her next words. “Well,” she started, “I wanna finish this game ‘fore my sister gets out here. So if you can find me before... hmm.” Payapa looked toward the sky, briefly calculating the time. “If I can’t find you before about noon, then we’ll just end the game and ya’ll win the bet. Kay?”
This sounded plenty fair to Chulo, but Gail seemed annoyed by the suggested longevity of the game. “That’s way too much time! Anyone could find her by then!”
Rionna spoke before Payapa could protest. “I think that sounds fair. In hide and seek I usually like to both... hide and seek, but I’m okay if you just want me to hide.”
This was not what anyone had expected to hear from the Riolu. Least of all, Payapa. That Rionna should agree so easily was disconcerting. It made her reconsider the order the game should be played in. “Yanno what,” she said, sauntering up to Rionna, “I think I actually wanna hide first. I happen to like it more, and if we’re gonna only be doing one round here to pick the winner, I wanna do the thing I like best. That a problem?”
Rionna clutched her ball momentarily, then eased up a bit. “That’s okay with me. I’ll look for you.”Perfect,
Payapa thought. I don’t even have to do the boring part. I bet I can find some sweet hiding spots today. But which one is the best?
The next course of action was to put Rionna in a dark shanty to count loudly and away from the others. Chulo and Gail scattered in opposite directions, and Payapa immediately sprinted off when the count began. She wasn’t terribly speedy, but she could move it when she wanted. Playing with Rionna had helped her reflexes quite a bit. There was hardly another child so physically adept in the entire bay, counting even those children of the dojo she passed on her way to the shanties. Rionna was strong and sharp.
Still, Payapa was confident in herself.
Part 3 of "Complementaries"