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Bulba the Great!
2nd March 2012, 9:14 PM
Hi all! For those of you unfamiliar (make that everybody), I'm Bulba the Great! I frequented these forums in my youth, and wrote two fanfictions, part of an ongoing story arc. The first two are completed, and if you want you may read them at the following links:

One of Many (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=49347)

Destined (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=49696)

I now present to you, after a near five year hiatus, the next part of this story. Please read and enjoy, but most of all, comment - I would like to write if not as a profession, at least as a regular hobby, and always look to improve.

Without further ado, here is chapter one!

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

The lighthouse stood in solitary opposition to the blood red sun setting on the wide horizon. A harbor bell rang from across the sea, hollow and without echo. Sitting alone on the battered, weathered dock, a lean figure tossed a stone over the water and watched it break the magnificent streams of color reflected from the sun.

His hair was a brilliant shade of magenta, a striking departure from the rest of his appearance. He was clad in a suit coated with intricate patterns of murky blues and grays, which blended easily with the jetty in the fading light. The only other defining feature that separated him clearly from the beaten stones around him was the gleaming opalescent holster fixed around his waist, a gun jutting out from one side, the other bearing three miniature orbs, half-red and half-white.

A barely audible rustle to his left was enough to cause his gloved hand to shift adroitly to the side of his belt containing not the gun, but the spheres. He removed one, allowing it to enlarge in his hand, an unseen energy pulsing from it.

“Show yourself.” Out of the shadows stepped a second figure, this one female. She was adorned in the same cloudy colors as the man, although her outfit was clearly a mass-produced uniform. A shape half her size skulked behind her, hovering about a foot off the ground, its four wings beating furiously but silently.

“Gabriel, the boy has been spotted.” The man stood at once, stepping to the same level as his subordinate. The ball remained ready in his hand.

“You’re sure it’s him?” The girl nodded. “I see. Where is he?”

“He’s heading this way, as you predicted. The city has been set for his imminent arrival. Once he’s passed through the second gates, he’s ours.” The man nodded, a hungry look in his eyes.

“Good. I’m trusting you’ve secured the western perimeter as well. The last thing we need is for him to escape into the Battle Frontier, where his potential allies will be dense.”

“We have every exit carefully monitored, sir.” The man returned his gaze to the expanse in front of them, his electric blue eyes seeing further than the disappearing sun.

“Return to your post, Natalia. And alert me when he arrives. I’ll be in the lighthouse, likely. Waiting.” The girl saluted, a gesture he did not return, and turned to her partner.

“Come on, Crobat.” The winged creature flared up, opening its wide mouth to reveal deadly-looking yellowed fangs. It puffed its body, the rubbery purple skin expanding. She grabbed one of its stubby, half-formed feet and turned to say a parting sentence to Gabriel, but in her three seconds of distraction, the man had vanished without a sound. She frowned, used to his enigmatic ways but still disappointed. “Let’s go.” She tugged at her Pokémon and the misshapen silhouette of the two rose twenty feet in the air and glided slowly toward the city overlooking the water.

…................................................. ...........................

“Low kick, now! Now, now, now!” Alec Gideon was impatient. His Machop’s reflexes were far too slow, and it was for that precise reason he’d lost against Whitney, he just knew it. The short, ash-colored creature was sweating profusely, trying to obey his trainer’s orders under the weight of the brace that was pulling at every one of his tiny muscles.

“Machop...Ma...” it panted, dropping to the ground and extending its leg in a feeble attempt at an attack. Alec groaned, yanking his rucksack from the ground and closing the distance between him and his shuddering Pokémon.

“The point of the Macho Brace is to make you work, Machop! It’s supposed to increase your muscle mass by at least ten percent! And until you show better results than that dismal failure against Happiny, you’re keeping that on. Now here...” He produced a zippered green bag and pulled out a Super Potion. “Drink this. We’ll take a break, but don’t think you’re getting out of push-ups every half hour. Got it?” Machop nodded wearily, propping himself into a sitting position and taking the medicine with shaking hands.

Alec Gideon hated to lose, because it was simply not an option in his family. For generations his fathers had made significant advances in the history of the Johto region, and each son the Gideons produced was always followed by the question, “Will he live up to his father?” Because of this, Alec had every moment of his life mapped out for him, to the point where it had all become too much for him. After three years of technical school, Alec dropped out and left his house a disgrace, with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his family’s most precious heirloom, stolen and now hidden in the deepest pocket of his rucksack.

“Now according to the map...Olivine City is still eleven miles from here. We’ll make it by nightfall if we factor in dinner and training. You done yet?” Machop was not finished with his drink, but he nodded just the same, crushing the orange container and tossing it aside. Alec scanned around. Route 28, though showing signs of population with its scrubbed picket fences and neatly laid gravel road, was currently deserted. A baby Rattata, its amethyst fur just sprouting and its front teeth barely protruding from its lips, crawled nervously across the path to its mother. The Raticate locked eyes with Alec and bared her massive incisors, stamping her three-toed feet and snarling. The trainer merely grunted. He threw his bag back over his denim-clad shoulder and produced Machop’s Poké Ball. “Off we go.” Machop reduced to a thin beam of glowing reddish light, pulled into his container with a gentle click. The trainer took a deep breath and began again on his long trek from Ecruteak City.

He knew he wasn’t an advanced enough trainer to even attempt challenging Morty, the Ecruteak Gym Leader renowned for his symbiotic relationship with Ghost types. If his luck had run out against the Normal-type Leader Whitney, he felt the only other gym his Pokémon might fare well at was the Olivine Gym, its owner specializing in the Steel type. The journey straight from the city of Goldenrod to Olivine was long, though; he and his Pokémon had been walking without stop for five days straight, only pausing for brief two-hour naps.

The boy had taken no more than a dozen paces when his Poké Gear began vibrating, ringing at a high intensity that could only mean a phone call. Rolling his eyes, he unhooked the device from his belt loop, expecting another pointless update on the adventures of his friend Tim and his Geodude. The number was blocked on his screen, which caused him some confusion. He was under the impression Poké Gears could identify any number. He answered hesitatingly, waiting for the caller ID to kick in, but the screen, instead of displaying the image of his caller as was custom, went blank.

“Alec Gideon?” The voice was male, soft and smooth.

“Who...is this?” Alec was not in the mood to be played with, not having eaten since eleven.

“My identity is of no importance.” Of course not. “You have something I greatly desire, and it is my wish that you surrender it without a fight. However, I know your family and I know the blood that runs through your veins. Cooperation from you is unlikely. So do me a small favor? Take care of yourself.” Alec was utterly bewildered. He had very low tolerance for mind games.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? Show yourself and tell me what you actually mean, or I’m hanging up.” The man on the other line seemed prepared for this abrasive response. Suddenly, the video clicked on; but it didn’t display a face. All Alec could make out was a body. Dead or alive, he didn’t know. He struggled to keep his face calm, knowing his caller could see him. “Who is that?”

“This is the person that gave us your number! Be sure to thank her, if you ever meet up with her again.” The figure shook and let out a noise that seemed somewhere between a croak and a shrill scream. Alec recognized it, his heart skipping a beat. It was his best friend from grade school, Amber Janson. She had called him yesterday after years of silence, and Alec hadn’t picked up. It had seemed random and uncalled for at the time, but Alec was fast to make the connections in his head.

“I understand this girl was once very precious to you. She will be kept alive until we meet. But until then...” A shadow passed the screen. A large, winged Pokémon, nothing distinguishable other than its cruel golden talons and crimson plumage, plunged into the image and grabbed the frail body ruthlessly. “My Pokémon, of course, are very accident prone. So better sooner than later, no?” A click was heard off-screen - mechanical, cold, chilling. “The choice is yours. When we meet tomorrow--” The Poké Gear went blank. Alec shook it, sweating profusely.

“When? Where? Where are you??” He didn’t know whether to be more frightened of encountering this man or...not. He didn’t want to think what would happen to Amber if she was left to the mercy of the man armed with both Pokémon and, it seemed, a gun. Should he go to the police? No, only ordinary people needed their assistance. This was his problem and he would handle it his way. He produced three Poké Balls, his hands still trembling ever so slightly. The spheres opened, and three small, humanoid figures materialized slowly from the plasma-like energy the balls produced.

“I need you to be my eyes and ears for me. Keep on alert. We’re going to reach Olivine before nightfall. We have to.” The three Pokémon nodded obediently, not questioning their trainer. Alec gathered himself, took a swig of water, and shouldered his bag again. “Let’s go.”

…................................................. ...........................

“Ladies and gentlemen, the S.S. Helen will dock in Olivine Harbor by nightfall. Please be sure your luggage is together for departure. We hope you have had a pleasant voyage and that you enjoy the rest of your time on board. Thank you.” A click was heard, and then a short series of beeps. “Lord, this has been a long trip. I’m getting too old for this, Terry. I can’t even stand half the people on this boat. It’s hard enough smiling at them at meal time, let alone making small talk about their absolutely captivating adventures through the wondrous and magical land of Unova. Give me some of that. What is it, Fuchsia’s Best?” Evidently, the captain had not pressed the correct button.

Chase Tang sighed and beat his forehead three times, attempting to clear his head. He couldn’t help agreeing with the captain. This had been the voyage from hell. Aside from seasickness, which he had gotten over after vomiting into the small sink in his cabin three times, the trip had simply lasted too long - nine days now. He had become so jaded by his time at sea he had resorted to frequenting the casino with his companion. The trainers aboard had all proven far too inexperienced to pique Chase’s interest in battle, and Logan was more than happy to relax the vigorous training style her friend lived by for a day or two.

Chase was a handsome young man, going on twenty and growing into manhood well, sporting a dark eleven-o-clock shadow on his otherwise fair features. His off-white hair hung loosely about his face, and his eyes burned with an intensity that more than enough females found alluring. There were secrets there that few could guess at.

In the four years since starting her journey, Logan Clements had become almost unrecognizable from the carefree girl with flowing blond hair and soft, forgiving features. Her hair was cut short to her shoulders now, and although still attractive, her face had a hardened, world-weary expression, her robin’s-egg eyes distant and veiled.

“I’m telling you, it’s the third from the top right!” Chase ignored his partner’s advice and went with his instinct, flipping the card second from the left. His instincts sucked. With a sinking feeling, Chase stared at the glowing miniature Voltorb under the card and nodded, bracing himself. The red-and-white globe was pulsing angrily, letting out angry metallic screeches and bulging dangerously.

“You were right, I should’ve picked the--” Chase’s lamenting was cut off by a blinding light and a series of explosions as the game self-destructed. All eyes turned to Chase and Logan’s station. Although the conceit of the game was to detonate when the challenger lost, it was still highly embarrassing to admit defeat in such a manner (and to wear the loss in the form of slightly singed eyebrows). The pair didn’t say a word, but it was agreed that the game was finished. Logan wanted to finish packing and Chase had lost the majority of his savings. Before going back to their room, they decided to allow their Pokémon one final venture around the ship’s luxurious promenade deck.

As they exited the room, smoke followed them into the hallway. Logan looked down both directions of the corridor before beginning the thought she’d been biting back since breakfast.

“You know that today--”

“I know what day it is. Trust me, I know.” Chase didn’t seem terribly interested in discussing the significance of the date, which Logan seemed to find rude.

“I know you never liked him, Chase, but in the end...well, he didn’t turn out to be awful--” Logan’s voice shook a little bit.

“Actions speak louder than words. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to relive--”

“But we got to! Chase, he didn’t mean for it to happen! There’s no denying that, you just can’t! Think of what he did for Tra...” But Logan grew silent. Chase seemed incensed by her final sentence, walking slightly faster down the richly-panelled hallway.

“He didn’t help Tracey much in the end, did he? And I will never forgive him for what he did to Sceptile. Never.” Logan’s eyes were watering, but this sign of weakness seemed to irritate her companion even more.

“He was still an honest and brave person, and that needs to be honored, Chase.” They had reached the elaborate mahogany door that led out to the large, open space between the ship’s funnels, specifically designated for trainer battles and recreation.

“Logan, you don’t celebrate someone’s death. Especially not someone who...you know.” Chase reached down to his belt and produced six Poké Balls, prompting Logan to do the same. Begrudgingly she released her party alongside his, not satisfied with the tactless ending to their argument. Chase solved all his problems by turning to his Pokémon. He was kneeling down next to his smallest team member. It was lime-green and serpentine, with intelligent bright-red eyes and a pure white underbelly. It stood on tiny hind legs, but it was clear without the support of its long tail it would collapse.

“Do you know how hard it is, looking in his eyes sometimes? All I see is his father.” Chase gently stroked his Servine’s smooth head and stood, facing his other teammates. “Alright, guys, we’ve got til nightfall. Let’s let loose!”

“Chase...” Logan’s voice was gentle, pleading. He looked at her with a fierce expression that clearly stated, “Not now.”

“Last one to the pool’s a rotted Slowpoke tail!”

…................................................. ...........................

“It’s too dark to read...Magby, use Will-o-wisp.” Alec was getting nervous. Night had fallen without consequence, but he was still hoping against all odds that the wooden post bearing a battered sign in front of him announced his arrival to Olivine City. A snore sounded out in the night. Magby had fallen asleep in the two minutes since the traveling party had stopped.

The miniature cherry-colored creature was curled in the fetal position, its beak-like mouth wide open and emitting wisps of smoke. Alec rolled his eyes. He had a strong suspicion Magby slept only when out of the confines of his Poké Ball, and wasted his precious free time in the sphere running and exerting all of his energy on pointless activity. Any time he was actually needed, he was exhausted.

“I swear to Arceus...” Alec produced his water bottle and shook it close to Magby’s ear, letting a drop escape onto the ground next to him. The Pokémon’s eyes snapped wide open and he sprang to his feet, absolutely terrified, shooting sparks of flame into the night. Realizing he had been tricked again, his demeanor shrank and his bulbous head lowered in humiliation.

“Magby, Mag maa,” he apologized frantically.

“I just need to check that we’re not lost. Can you use Will-o-wisp to light up this sign?” The trainer’s voice was not unkind, but direct and anxious. Magby nodded and tightened his stubby hands into fists, emitting a low humming sound as his internal fire lit. His whole body seemed to illuminate translucently in the falling dusk, and with a puffing of his chest he produced the specter-like flames needed to light the sign. They hovered just above Alec’s head, blue and purple streaks of excruciating heat to the touch that somehow chilled the surrounding air, making Alec draw his coat a little tighter to his body as he peered at the peeling sign, leaning forward to read it. His body sagged.

“Olivine City, five miles. What time is it?” he asked to nobody in particular, producing his Poké Gear and flicking it on. According to the miniature icon that represented his movement on the map function, they were right on top of the massive seaside city. He stared out into the night, his hazel eyes screwed in confusion. He could see lights to his right, but couldn’t judge how far, nor whether there were enough to constitute a population.

“There’s something weird going on. The light was useful, Magby. You can put it out. Well, we’re gonna have to pick up the pace, that’s all. Push-ups!” He and his Pokémon dropped to the ground instantly, mechanically pumping their arms to get blood flowing freely. Machop finished last, the Macho Brace tugging against his slender muscles. Alec sprang to his feet, pulling his denim jacket straight and giving each of his partners a piece of RAGE candy bar, devouring his portion. “Alright, let’s jog the next mile! We’re making good time, but it could be better.” He took off, leaving his partners to follow in his wake.

…................................................. ...........................

Olivine, it seemed, had experienced a blackout. It had been just out of sight, hidden in the gloom of the night. The lights Alec had seen belonged to a small, privately owned farm devoted to breeding Miltank and cultivating its milk. The worn travelers had stopped in for a brief pick-me-up, against Alec’s better judgment.

“Thanks for the Moomoo Milk, sir. We were running low on supplies, and times being how they are, you know.” Arthur Redding, patriarch of the ranch, shook Alec warmly by the hand.

“Just promise me you’ll treat your Pokémon slightly easier, Mr. Gideon. That poor Machop was nearly buckling from that dreadful brace.” A smile split his scrubby gray beard, revealing several decaying teeth. “Now I’m sure they’ll have an opening at the Inn, I’m friendly with the owners. Drop my name if you want a discount. Now you just take care, young man.” Alec turned to leave, but before he could take his first step he felt Mr. Redding’s hand on his shoulder, calloused and firm. “Be on alert, too. That call you mentioned...sounds to me like you should enter that city on your guard. Rumor is, Team Skye is gathering strength again, worse than before, and if that was them...just keep your friends close. Goodnight!” He laughed jovially and the cabin door swung shut. Alec stood in the thick night, listening to the gentle hum of a Ledyba nearby.

Impulsively, he grabbed a Poké Ball from his belt. He released an olive-green, horned Pokémon, who shivered slightly from the cold but stared up at her trainer intently. Her horn was the same size as her rocky, sleek body, and peering out from sunken, scarred sockets, her eyes dilated, adjusting to the dark.

“Seems Team Skye is the likely culprit for that call earlier. I want you to keep me company to Olivine. Just you and me, Larvitar, just like old times. You in?” The lizard-like creature nodded, puffing her chest in importance.

The hike to Olivine was long and uneventful, excepting Larvitar’s brutal pummeling of a sleeping Farfetch’d in an effort to defend her trainer. Just as Alec’s stomach gave a lurch in hunger, a sweeping archway came into focus just to their left.

“Larvitar, look! The entrance. Finally.” The cry of Wingull could be heard even where they stood. The smell of sal****er enticed Larvitar; she took a step forward, nose extended curiously.

“Larv...tar...” she whispered in wonder.

“Come on, Larvitar. Let’s find that inn Mr. Redding told us about.” The gate was unlocked and unguarded, which Alec found unusual, but he was too tired to care at this point. Not fifteen feet away from the gate was a towering set of very solid-looking oak doors. Alec shook his head. “Well-protected, this city.” With Larvitar’s help, he pushed the creaking doors open and the two took in the view of Olivine, a harbor city that extended uphill from the seafront. Not much detail could be picked out from the door; the blackout seemed to be a serious one. The only light in the gloom came from a lighthouse standing alone on a crumbling cliff which jutted out over the water. A rustling sounded overhead as they stepped into the city. Alec glanced at the stone overhang he had just passed under. Perched atop it, still and silent, was a Xatu, its brilliant green down barely breaking the black engulfing the city. Its eyes were trained on Alec.

“Where’s the inn in this town?” he asked aloud, not expecting an answer but more to keep the eery silence broken. Xatu spread its patterned wings and soared into the night without a backward glance. Alec looked at Larvitar, who shrugged. “Let’s take a look around, then. Even with a blackout, things are too peaceful.” Trainer and Pokémon stepped into the unknown, oblivious to the eyes watching their every move.

From inside the lighthouse, Gabriel watched Alec advance into the city that had been awaiting his arrival for fifteen hours. Beside him, head buried under its broad wing, a Pokémon stirred.

“Ready yourself, Mandibuzz. We’ll be joining in on the proceedings this time.” The vulture’s right eye snapped open, glinting in the blazing light emanating from the center of the circular room. It crooned, flaring its wings and lifting its head. Gabriel paced to the far edge of the room, stroking the ancient wall and allowing himself a smile.

“The plan nears completion.” His Pokémon screeched hungrily.

To be continued...

Shadow Lucario
2nd March 2012, 11:15 PM
Here we go! Review time!


to the point where it had all become to much for him.

I expect it was a case of typing too fast. It would be too. Homonyms can be quite tricky sometimes.


“My identity is of no importance.” Of course not.

Ha. Trolled.


It was his best friend from grade school, Amber Janson.

Hey I used the surname Janson! You're right. Great minds do think alike!


In the four years since starting her journey, Logan Clements had become almost unrecognizable

Wait, wait, wait! But just a minute ago...


Logan was more than happy to relax the vigorous training style he lived by for a day or two.

Perhaps typing too fast again?


The hike to Olivine was long and uneventful, excepting Larvitar’s brutal pummeling of a sleeping Farfetch’d

There you go!


Perched atop it, still and silent, was a Xatu

Those things are creepy!

Now that was a first chapter. I'm not sure if this is a sequel to one of your other fics, but I like how you start in the middle of the journey. Just like you, Johto is my favorite region. I love it so much. You've done it justice today. There were VERY few mistakes. Hell, I think there was only two. For some reason Alec reminds me of Might Gai from Naruto. Oh yeah, the crazy workouts! Poor Machop...The description was excellent and your characters had great personality for a first chapter. I expect to see more great things come out of this fic.

Bulba the Great!
6th March 2012, 5:48 PM
Hey I used the surname Janson! You're right. Great minds do think alike!

What's ironic is for some reason, according to my computer that's a misspelling. I know for a fact it's a common surname, so suck it technology. Hahaha.


Now that was a first chapter. I'm not sure if this is a sequel to one of your other fics, but I like how you start in the middle of the journey. Just like you, Johto is my favorite region. I love it so much. You've done it justice today. There were VERY few mistakes. Hell, I think there was only two. For some reason Alec reminds me of Might Gai from Naruto. Oh yeah, the crazy workouts! Poor Machop...The description was excellent and your characters had great personality for a first chapter. I expect to see more great things come out of this fic.

Thank you so much! I've been rusty on the writing front, and it's nice to know I can still form some semblance of an exciting chapter. I've been outlining like crazy, laying out the railroad tracks, so I'm hoping it continues being engaging! I don't know Naruto all too well, so I hope I'm not unintentionally plagiarizing a character!

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I WOULD like some more feedback before I begin working on Chapter Two...things to improve, etc...to anyone else out there willing to brave this...

diamondpearl876
15th March 2012, 4:15 AM
Hi, I found your fic through the review exchange thread and thought I'd leave a review for it. Hope you don't mind.

To start off with, you didn't start off with anything particularly exciting, but it was mysterious and interesting enough to keep me wanting to read. You also were very good about describing your characters and the setting around them. Little details such as saying that the lighthouse was solitary compared to everything else and that the sun was blood red really set the scene, so good job there.


“Machop...Ma...” it panted, dropping to the ground and extending its leg in a feeble attempt at an attack. Alec groaned, yanking his rucksack from the ground and closing the distance between him and his shuddering Pokémon.

You need a space after the first ellipses in the dialogue. This appears with every ellipses I saw, so be careful about that. Your grammar/punctuation is otherwise good. Also, the "it" afterward should be capitalized, since "it panted" is not a speech tag like "it said" would be; it's the beginning of the next sentence.



Alec Gideon hated to lose, because it was simply not an option in his family.

One thing that stuck out was your ability to show things, and your apparent desire to unnecessarily repeat things by telling them. We can already tell that Alec hates to lose, since he calls his past gym battle a "dysmal failure" and he is training his Machop rather harshly due to the fail battle. You have to trust your reader to pick up the small details about your character that you show them, and not tell them directly. It's sufficient enough to just say: "Losing was not an option in Alec's family."


“When? Where? Where are you??”

Only one question mark is still needed at the end there. It seems that you were trying to emphasize his questioning by adding another question mark, but the emphasis is already made present by the amount of questions he's asking.

There were secrets there that few could guess at.

The repeated “there” sounds awkward and seems to serve no purpose.

Anyway, your characterization and dialogue were probably the strongest parts about this. Every character introduced, no matter how much screen time they had, had some part of them revealed. And the dialogue was always very realistic and true to the character personalities that were shown. I look forward to seeing more.

Bulba the Great!
5th April 2012, 3:21 AM
Thank you so much for jumping on so early, DP876 (That's what I'm calling you from now on :D) I promise I'm not dead, just busy with a very long run of a college show. I'm still writing, but there are lots of backstories and character bios to mash out. Lots of good ideas for the future of this fic - if I can get a good following!

Thank you so much for reading, guys!

Bulba the Great!
7th May 2012, 6:06 AM
Almost done Chapter Two...I have a few odds and ends to connect in the broader timeline.

For anybody curious, I write characters with celebrities in mind. I constantly picture Diana Aggron as Logan, Hunter Parrish as Chase and Logan Lerman as Alec.

My Tumblr post gives a nice visual of this.

http://hogwarts92.tumblr.com/post/22720279007/when-i-write-fanfics-i-imagine-actors-as-my

Bulba the Great!
13th May 2012, 3:39 AM
Chapter Two

The Inn was locked, dark and seemingly deserted. Alec tried in vain to open the decorated marble door for a third time before exhausting his efforts and glancing nervously around him. Something was definitely not right. Everything he had read about Olivine City boasted the hospitality offered to first-time visitors. It had been a favorite vacation spot of his parents; his mind wandered fleetingly to the seafront cottage they had owned before the split. He couldn’t remember whose hands it had passed to after the divorce, but he assumed it still belonged to the Gideon name. His mind was brought quite vividly back to the present as a crash sounded inside the vacated Inn. He backed away from the door, transfixed.

“Arceus’ plates...this place is insane. Did we miss something? It’s like a ghost town...” His reptilian companion Larvitar, head reaching no higher than her trainers’ knees, looked perplexed. “I say we head for the sea cottages on Route 40. My parents’ place might still be there, and it might actually show some signs of life. This place definitely isn’t.” Overriding his last few words, a loud clicking sound broke the silence to the left of the Inn. The pair froze, listening intently. It was an instinct ingrained in both of them to attack first and leave the questions for later.

“Chip Away!” Without further urging, Larvitar leapt towards the source of the noise, the small diamond-shaped openings in her hard body tightening and producing hardened shrapnel which blew harsh holes into the dumpster and tin trash cans perched against the Inn wall. A shadow swept out of the graffitied container and flew into the engulfing darkness.

“Another flying type. Birds just rub me the wrong way. In the future, Larvitar, make sure you keep your focus constant through the attack. The point you aimed at was not where you ended up hitting.” Larvitar nodded, blinking its maroon eyes and stifling either a protest or a yawn. Either would displease Alec. “In any case, let’s just find a place to stay for the night. Indoors, preferably. The stranger on the phone didn’t say where he intended to meet, but I get the feeling he’ll find his way to us. If anything’s happened to Amber...” Alec shuddered involuntarily. He hated the feeling of uncertainty and couldn’t shake the suspicion his every move was being monitored.

Astonishingly, five blocks down, the Gym was brightly lit and functioning. The only light in the wall of pressing darkness, Alec and Larvitar couldn’t help but stop and take stock. The Olivine Gym was very nicely adorned, perhaps the most decorated building in the city. The outside was set with glistening precious gems, diamond being the most prominent. A stainless steel marquee loomed above the great door, carved with a full team of Steel Pokémon: A Steelix, towering high over the rest; perched on the iron spikes jutting from its neck was a Skarmory, its wings flared, eyes gleaming and fixed directly towards approaching challengers. An Aggron was crouched on all fours, its sharp horns aiming forward. A Klinklang and Magnezone hovered just above Steelix’s arched tail, and below them a Scizor was poised to strike, its marked claws raised high over its pointed crown. Alec looked down at Larvitar.

“Shall we?” Without waiting for affirmation, he cracked the door open. The inside maintained the same balance between beauty and ruthlessness. The cold steel door opened into a soaring corridor, well-lit and warm, if a bit narrow. The hall led to a small check-in chamber, beyond which Alec assumed the arena itself stood. The desk was deserted, the chamber drafty and uncomfortably hushed. Larvitar, who had been breathing freely in short, rattling gasps, seemed to become aware of her loud presence and silenced, looking to her trainer for answers.

“Hello?” Perhaps the receptionist was in the restroom. A soft humming sound slowly emerged from behind a small door he had not seen initially to the right. Alec glanced at his Pokémon, dumbfounded. His better instincts told him to get out and put distance between himself and the city. “I think we should get out of here, don’t you?” Larvitar nodded, glancing nervously at the red light pulsing gently above the gym’s entrance. With a final glance at the empty room, Alec pushed his shoulder against the heavy door leading to fresh air.

“Is that a challenger?” A quick clicking announced the return of the gym’s receptionist, a pretty woman in her mid-twenties with flaming ruby-red hair pulled up in a quick but becoming bun. She looked disheveled - her glasses were askew and she was slightly out of breath, but she looked delighted to see Alec and his Pokémon. Her sudden appearance left Alec completely nonplussed, glancing at Larvitar before answering.

“Well, we were just...looking around. How does the gym still have power?” Perhaps he had skipped a few formalities, but his instincts were telling him to get answers. A shadow of concern crossed the female’s face.

“The gym always has backup generators. It is the most well-funded building in the city. Isn’t it beautiful?” She gazed at the endless ceiling and back down at Alec, smiling. Instantly he felt more at ease, his breath quickening slightly. There was something about her upturned mouth that felt reassuring.

“It is a very nice structure. Do you know what caused the blackout? And where is everybody? Is the gym still open for business? What about the Inn?” This all came out in one breath.

“That’s an awful lot of questions, sir! Why don’t I show you and your Larvitar around the battle area, and then I can address your concerns. One at a time,” she added, with a slight giggle. Alec looked at Larvitar, who still seemed uncomfortable. Seeing his hesitation, the woman smiled again, spreading her arms and taking a step toward Larvitar. “I’m sure your Pokémon would find this arena exciting. It’s got the best furnishing in the entire Johto region. It’s kept spotless!” She opened the far door leading to the battlefield, indicating inside.

“It can’t hurt to look around, right?” Larvitar looked unconvinced. She was always first to suspect and last to trust. Turning away from the open door, she let out a rude noise of disapproval.

“Larvitar can be so stubborn, can’t they? My boyfriend lives right near a colony of them. The trick is finding their soft spot. Does she have a nickname?” Alec shook his head. “Well, I suppose I’ll just have to tell Jasmine you’re not interested. This would be the ideal time to battle, though - when there’s nobody else lined up behind you, vying for her time.” The girl turned, closing the gym door with a sigh. She looked so upset that Alec stopped her.

“We’ll take the tour.”

…................................................. ...........................

“Passengers will see the amazing Olivine Lighthouse on the starboard side of the Helen. Arrival is now just under ten minutes, and all on board should report to their assigned docking stations. Thank you for choosing a ULC Line Ship for this voyage. It’s been an absolute pleasure.” The captain’s voice highlighted the irony in his final statement.

“Everything’s set. The Inn has our room ready and warm. I also booked a great lunch at the seafood place that guy with the earring was talking about, so tomorrow’s meal is set as well.” Chase was already reverting to his old regimented schedule as they neared land, the schedule Logan couldn’t stand sometimes. It took the spontaneity out out of the adventure she and Tracey had so innocently sought five years ago. “What’s the matter, are you still caught up on that one piece of raw Frillish from last year? We can always go with a buffet or something instead!”

“No, no, seafood is great. Can you double check your bag for my travel log? I swear I left it in my nightstand but it’s been missing since last night.” Chase threw his bag on the bed and opened the outer pocket.

“I thought you’d never ask. I’m surprised it took you this long to notice, actually.” He produced a thick, faded leather-bound book. The front was peeling, but the label still read clearly - in a neat scrawl on the olive cover was written: Tracey Morgan, Kanto Region, 2004-5. Logan reached instinctively for it. “It’s out of date, you know. By a good five years.” He handed it over. Logan opened to the inside cover, her eyes searching wildly. “The picture’s still there, don’t worry.” Chase grabbed his bag, zipping it up and shouldering it, heading for the door.

“Chase...”

“Logan. We both have serious baggage. The thing is, you dwell on it. You’re living in the past, like you’re in some kind of vacuum. He’s gone, and for good this time. I loved him too, and I keep him close every day.” He indicated the necklace tucked inside his jacket - a simple red chain with a fragment of metal hanging from it. Engraved in the copper was a strange symbol - one that neither understood but both respected with absolute faith. “But I don’t let it consume me. Life is going on around you, and everything’s changing but you. You’re an adult now, and part of that responsibility is accepting life for what it is and learning to enjoy it.” Logan’s bright blue eyes were wide, confused. She gently closed the book and turned her back on Chase, busying herself with her luggage. He did not pursue the subject any further. Staring at his companion for a moment, he nodded and left the room.

Logan pulled the log out and turned to the picture inside: the last photo ever taken of Tracey Morgan. She stared sadly at the image, knowing behind the smiling eyes looking at her was loss, sorrow, and knowledge that he must die - soon. The boy, fifteen, was laughing at some last-minute comment Chase had made before the camera went off. The two were sitting lazily outside a tent, a Bulbasaur nuzzled in Tracey’s lap, asleep. The other Pokémon - a Skarmory, a Manectric, a Quilava, and a Trapinch - were sleeping as well, although the Manectric’s head was cocked and seemingly alert.

“Miss?” A porter had poked his head in the still open door. Logan hid the journal and turned, flustered. “Sorry to disturb you, but you need to take your belongings to your docking station. We’ll be landing quite soon. You do know your docking station, don’t you?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Can I help with anything?” He took a step into the room.

“No! No no, I’m fine. Thank you, sir. Don’t worry. Blitzle Lounge. I’m going.” The young man, startled at the finality in her tone, nodded and waited by the door while the blonde threw her bag together and rushed by, thanking him with averted eyes.

…................................................. ...........................

Deep in the gloom that enveloped Olivine, the Inn stood silent and innocent-looking, the windows dark, the doors locked. Inside was contained the majority of the city’s inhabitants, most somber and unmoving, all fight exhausted after sixteen hours’ worth of struggle. Standing in a wall around the perimeter, Team Skye members remained stone-faced, passive to any and all protests still sounding. Flitting among the rafters were hordes of Golbat, Pidgeotto and Murkrow.

“I’m warning you, sir. I’ve tipped the police in Ecruteak City. They’ll be arriving via helicopter any minute now.” Nobody was convinced by the words spilling nonstop from the Inn’s owner, Henri Perrineau, because all communication out of the city was completely cut off to the citizens. He continued denouncing the team, however, perhaps because there wasn’t much else to be done. The police force in the city had been completely silent, rumor spreading that the building had been infiltrated weeks ago, all true police officers removed silently. Stealth had been the team’s way as long as public memory could recall, at least since its rebirth.

“The task we have set out to accomplish is near completion. Patience, friends. We can all go back to our lives in a matter of hours.” The speaker, a tall, broad-shouldered woman with a strong jaw and dainty nose, stood at the top of the Inn’s main staircase, a Swellow clutching her padded left arm.

“If we’re not in any danger, like you claim, then why are we being held like this?” said an older man, his hair gray at the temples and the stubble coating his hollowed cheeks white. The woman nodded, and a Golbat landed lightly on his back, wings flared and mouth wide open, cavernous, fangs prominent.

“It is most essential our target be captured. It should be enough for you that you all remain unharmed. As long as you all comply, we shall remain merciful.” The gray wall of uniforms tightened ever so slightly around the perimeter.

“I’m not ‘complying’ a second longer! This is ridiculous! What are you gonna do to us if we don’t? We’ve got Pokémon same as you! Go, Barboach, Skiploom, Baltoy!” A girl whose long pigtails stood at odds with her mature face produced three Poké Balls and raised them toward the woman on the stairs. A few others who had still been shifting restlessly took the cue, red-and-white spheres emerging from jackets and belts, faces set. The time had come for action. The Skye grunts seemed relieved that the relatively calm nature of the room had finally been broken.

“Now we’re getting somewhere.” The Swellow on the woman’s arm spread its azure wings, cawing in delight.

…................................................. ...........................

The door slammed shut behind Alec and Larvitar, the noise echoing relentlessly in the cavernous stainless-steel room. The architecture was magnificent; on either challenger’s side stood a raised platform, accessible only by the narrow stairs to the far right. Jutting from the middle of the shining, unbroken expanse of silver were two archways, one reaching up to rake the ceiling, the other half that height. The room was windowless and, one the entrance was shut, completely inescapable.

“This is incredible. So much bigger than Goldenrod’s...” Alec said, staring at the thirty-foot ceiling. Larvitar allowed a cry of wonder to escape, trotting to the middle of the field.

“The room is leakproof, of course. Self-cleaning. It gets cleaned and polished three times a day, and after every battle, to maintain a flawless appearance.” Alec noticed the panels along the walls and ceiling, no doubt concealing the nozzles of the cleaning device. The woman had not moved from the door.

“Spectacular. So, where’s Jasmine in all this? You said I could challenge her?” Alec reached out to touch the closer of the broad archways, finding it surprisingly warm.

“Jasmine will not be joining us.” Alec turned, curious. The girl was wearing an odd smirk and was reaching for her belt. “It’s just us, Alec. Why don’t you hand that bag over and be a good boy?”

…................................................. ...........................

Unease was growing among the passengers. The Helen had docked fifteen minutes ago, yet nobody had entered or exited the ship. The Olivine skyline was dark, only lit by the majestic lighthouse at the cape.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a blackout of a complete city!” remarked Chase, making his way through the mass of bodies, suitcases, and Pokémon clamoring to exit the closed-off ship. Logan nodded, fiddling restlessly with her bag. Chase had been arguing with an officer standing by the exit. “He says there are some communication problems with the mainland, and until they make contact they can’t release us.” The exasperation in his voice was apparent, although he had been keeping a forced tone of calm since his accusation in the cabin.

“We’ll be off the ship soon, Chase. I know you just want to be on land again.”

“Yes! I feel so trapped on the sea. I’m not a water person,” he laughed, seating himself gingerly between Logan and the large pile of bags spilling to the floor. A loud hiss told him he had sat on a Glameow, who promptly tore into his exposed skin with delight. Chase yelped, throwing the cat a good fifteen feet away from him. It landed delicately, turning its intelligent gray face to him and turning its nose up, swaggering away to find its trainer. Chase sat, wincing and letting out a cry.

The waiting continued. Nobody seemed exactly sure of any details, although more than a whisper was being spread that the ship was not under its captain’s jurisdiction anymore. After a third failure to produce concrete answers and a second run-in with Glameow, this time accompanied by its very haughty trainer, Chase had had enough. He stood up, running his fingers through his unkempt hair.

“I’m going out there.” Logan looked at him, bewildered but not entirely surprised at his brash decision. “Will you cover me?”

“What does that mean, exactly?”

“Just create a distraction. I’ll sneak up on the deck and see what’s what.” Logan looked hesitant.

“Chase, this is a very well-watched ship. I don’t think that’s wise to do alone...”

“I won’t be alone.” Logan placed a steadying hand on his shoulder as the ship lurched suddenly and Chase pitched toward his friend. The lights in the Blitzle Lounge extinguished. The only source of it that remained emanated from an Ampharos, its tail glowing phosphorescent light. Logan could just make out Chase’s frame in the dark. “Logan? I think you’d better come with me.”

…................................................. ...........................

“Why do you want my bag?” Alec asked. He was frantically scanning the room with his peripheral vision, seeking escape without breaking eye contact with this woman. The smile that had been so reassuring before was suddenly terrifying, hungry and ruthless. The room, so elegant and simple, was suddenly a fortress with no means of escape. Larvitar padded forward, seeking to place herself between Alec and this new opponent.

“Return Larvitar to its Poké Ball, please. We don’t want any accidents occurring.” Larvitar, insulted, puffed out her chest and flexed her tiny but well-defined muscles.

“Do you really think I’d be that stupid?” Alec did reach for his belt, but neither of the orbs he produced were Larvitar’s.

“It would be pretty foolish to try fighting your way out. See, we’re locked in. The only way out is through that door and only by my signal will my friends open it again. So I’ll ask you again, Alec. Please give me the bag.” This was said very slow and soft, falling on Alec’s ears like birdsong. Alec shook his head.

“Battle me for it.” The girl chuckled.

“Of course, being a trainer, to you everything is an opportunity to battle. We don’t see things that way. Do you really think, given the circumstances, your Pokémon would want to battle?” Larvitar launched a Chip Away attack at her, screeching at a very high treble. A blur of violet swept down from the high rafter and broke the attack with an emerald light a good meter in front of the girl. “Thank you, Crobat. Fighting really is not one of your options, Alec. Do you need to speak to your friend again? Amber, was it? Would that convince you?” And everything clicked into place for the boy.

“You’re from Team Skye. Who was it that called my Poké Gear earlier? It wasn’t you - did you have one of your minions make the call?” The girl laughed, a sweet, tinkling sound that didn’t fit the situation in the least. Her Crobat hovered just in front of her left shoulder, daring Larvitar to attack again.

“You’re not in a position to be asking questions, young man. Yes, it was my team that contacted you. You certainly didn’t waste time answering the summons. We didn’t expect you until tomorrow.” Alec was silent, unable to formulate a good plan of attack while speaking. “Don’t try any funny business, really. It’s so tiresome when they fight back.” An explosion sounded from the outside, and an alarm began in the distance. The woman sighed, touching her ear lightly. “And of course, that’s what they all do.” Alec threw his remaining apprehensions aside and took the momentary shift of attention to release Machop and Magby. The girl barely registered their appearance; she seemed to be receiving a report through her earpiece and her eyes were to the floor. Her brow furrowed, she glanced up just in time to let out a shout as Machop and Larvitar jumped at her, pinning her to the floor.

“C’mon, Magby!” Alec had finally formed an idea. He ran to the pillar he’d been examining before and looked up at the panel on the wall adjacent to it. “Magby, can you climb this?” His confused Pokémon shook its head, and Alec knew that scaling a smooth steel pillar wasn’t exactly at the top of the volcano-dweller’s list of talents. The girl was putting up a vicious fight to reach her belt, her Crobat swooping furiously at the mess of limbs, unable to get a clean hit without damaging its trainer. Alec turned urgently to his new project.

“We’ve got to heat this pole up, Magby. We need to get this whole room hot. Aim as high as you can on the pole and use Heat Wave. And don’t let up, whatever you do.” There was a violent clang from across the room - Machop had been overpowered by Crobat. The vampire was now bashing him repeatedly with its four wings, yellowed fangs and bloodshot eyes flashing dangerously. Alec snapped his gaze to the girl, who was standing again, kicking Larvitar repeatedly until it fell, unconscious. She reached again for her belt. “Magby, now!” Alec felt the area behind him shoot up in temperature and moved his body to block his partner from the Team Skye leader. Very suddenly the tides had turned back to her favor, and she was now cocking a gun, pointing it directly at Alec’s forehead.

…................................................. ...........................

The explosion had been created at a point not too far from the Olivine Gym. Through sheer number of bodies, the captives had overpowered their oppressors, and the Inn was finally showing signs of life. Innocents and gang members alike were pouring from the smoke-filled interior, their eyes screwed up as they attempted to gain sight in the murkiness of the outside. A shrill fire alarm was sounding, insignificant in the pressing black that surrounded the building. Disoriented, bodies stumbling freely through the street in front of the Inn, citizens fought to reclaim their city.

“Electivire, Flash!” Near the entrance to the Rite Price Convenience Store, a blinding beacon lit up - a tall, tiger-like, lithe creature had released a pool of light from its forked tail, illuminating the confusion. The creature’s trainer was one of the vocal rebels from earlier - the lean older man with graying hair - and he was finally taking charge of the scattered people. “Who’s the leader of your group?” he demanded, grabbing one of the gray-clad members of Team Skye. The burly man sneered and wrestled free of his captor’s powerful grip, throwing a punch in response. The older man blocked it and swept the feet out from under his attacker, going to pick him up by the collar.

“Preston, look out!” screamed a female voice. He turned just in time to see the Murkrow aiming a brilliant pulse of purple and blue matter in his direction.

“Ursaring, Protect!” he called, ducking behind another of his Pokémon, a beefy, broad-set grizzly creature with a low tolerance for foolishness. It blocked the sea of dark energy and roared, not waiting to be ordered to shake its heavy fur and launch a counterattack. In five minutes, the two sides had rapidly adjusted to their new surroundings and the skirmish was becoming a full-fledged brawl, with absolutely no order. It was very difficult to distinguish friendly and malevolent fire. Preston released three more Pokémon, his eyes searching. With no sign of Jasmine or the local authority, it was his battle to win. Another explosion sounded in the direction of the ocean. It echoed through the night, causing the briefest of reprieves in the fight. The square-jawed woman with the Swellow called out from high above, riding her Pokémon above the sea of mayhem.

“Do not investigate, I repeat, do not investigate! Stick to your task,” she yelled, guiding Swellow down to tear at a young boy. Preston, now riding on the back of his handsome chestnut Sawsbuck, launched himself in her direction, cradling a tiny blue creature in his arms.

“Call them off, miss! Call the team away from this madness or they’ll suffer the consequences!” She leered at the man’s thin frame, pulling her Swellow up again, blood dripping from its talons.

“And what would they be?” The blue creature in his arms stirred, glowing brilliantly and turning to face the loud female voice. Preston lifted it slowly, all attention drawing to the blinding new source of light. It was a Manaphy.

To Be Continued...

Sid87
13th May 2012, 3:59 AM
A shape half her size skulked behind her, hovering about a foot off the ground, its four wings beating furiously but silently

I read far enough ahead at this point to know this is a Crobat; I thought Crobats were a least as big as a person. But I could be wrong.


She grabbed one of its stubby, half-formed feet and turned to say a parting sentence to Gabriel, but in her three seconds of distraction, the man had vanished without a sound.

HOLY CRAP IT'S BATMAN. :)


Rolling his eyes, he unhooked the device from his belt loop, expecting another pointless update on the adventures of his friend Tim and his Geodude.

Nice touch on the trope there. Is Tim's Geodude perhaps in the top percentage of Geodudes? ;)


Should he go to the police? No, only ordinary people needed their assistance.

Curious...why does he not consider himself "ordinary"? Intriguing.


“But we got to! Chase, he didn’t mean for it to happen! There’s no denying that, you just can’t! Think of what he did for Tra...” But Logan grew silent. Chase seemed incensed by her final sentence, walking slightly faster down the richly-panelled hallway.

“He didn’t help Tracey much in the end, did he? And I will never forgive him for what he did to Sceptile. Never.” Logan’s eyes were watering, but this sign of weakness seemed to irritate her companion even more.

I'm assuming this is what I missed in the first two stories? Or is this something else of which that we'll be filling in the blanks?


The miniature cherry-colored creature was curled in the fetal position, its beak-like mouth wide open and emitting wisps of smoke. Alec rolled his eyes. He had a strong suspicion Magby slept only when out of the confines of his Poké Ball, and wasted his precious free time in the sphere running and exerting all of his energy on pointless activity. Any time he was actually needed, he was exhausted.

This is a really interesting concept I've never personally seen explored. I've always imagined that pokemon in their balls were basically kept in some kind of energy stasis. To think that they are not only conscious but active in there? That's really original and creative. Nice touch!

Speaking of Magby, without going on to quote it, I really liked the description of Will-O-Wisp. It had a nice creepy flair to it.


And so I certainly like this as an opening. I'm excited to see what is new that I'll be getting backstory on as the characters unfold as opposed to what is stuff I missed out on from the earlier stories. Absolutely add me to any PM list you have going.

Sid87
13th May 2012, 12:11 PM
Almost done Chapter Two...I have a few odds and ends to connect in the broader timeline.

For anybody curious, I write characters with celebrities in mind. I constantly picture Diana Aggron as Logan, Hunter Parrish as Chase and Logan Lerman as Alec.

My Tumblr post gives a nice visual of this.

http://hogwarts92.tumblr.com/post/22720279007/when-i-write-fanfics-i-imagine-actors-as-my

Wow, I actually don't know who any of those people are.

By the way, I read chapter 2 And no one can say that that chapter was boring. Whew. A lot of stuff going on there!

-I like the quick changes in setting; I think it set up an even greater sense of urgency and turmoil with how quickly I, as the reader, was thrust in and back out of every scene, and it left me worrying for the characters in a "wait, I wasn't done with them, where are we going?!" kind of way. It all felt very quick and very rushed.

-Honestly, the Tracey/Logan/Chase stuff...I had to read that about 4 times to get the identities right. They are all gender-neutral, but the one I think is the MOST manly is actually the girl; the one that is most girly is the dead guy; and the one named for my cousin's dog is the living guy. Heh. I was having a really hard time keeping them all straight, but it is only 7am, so...I'm chalking it up to sleepiness.

-Team Skye abducted a whole town AND an incoming cruise liner just to lure Alec into a trap? That's pretty extreme. I wonder what they want of his so badly...

Sidewinder
14th May 2012, 5:24 PM
Finally made it here. Let the exchanging begin!


The lighthouse stood in solitary opposition to the blood red sun setting on the wide horizon. A harbor bell rang from across the sea, hollow and without echo. Sitting alone on the battered, weathered dock, a lean figure tossed a stone over the water and watched it break the magnificent streams of color reflected from the sun.

First off, great decription right off the bat. I felt like I could picture this scene quite easily. Description goes a long way to providing an intricate and visual reading experience, and I can tell this is an area where you're not lacking at all. Good job!


His Machop’s reflexes were far too slow, and it was for that precise reason he’d lost against Whitney, he just knew it.

I like that bit a lot as well. Putting limitations on a Pokemon's power is important, along with showing how they naturally grow stronger and more skilled over time. Showing that Machop has more to learn shows that the characters are flawed, which is great.

I like Alec so far, especially the fact that he's bound by family honor and expectations. That's a real dynamic that's taken place in my own life, which is probably why I've latched on to Alec more than anyone else introduced in the story so far. Larvitar is an interesting addition as well, as I've only ever seen its final form in fics. Granted, they are powerful once they evolve, so I'm looking forward to see the struggles and weaknesses associated with it since it's still so small. Using Will-o-wisp to light up the sign was nice; I enjoy fics that have Pokemon use their abilites to help their trainers with different objectives.

Another portion that was nice to me was your description of time. He noticed that Olivine was eleven miles away, and your description of day turning to night was well recieved. It would take several hours to reach somewhere that far without transportation, and I'm glad you are using real time to show that distance equals time. I'm so tired of fics that show their characters crossing seventy miles in a day on foot. Your approach is a welcome and realistic touch.


“Arceus’ plates

Pretty sure there should be an s after the apostrphe


This would be the ideal time to battle, though - when there’s

That 'would' being underlined threw me off a bit. You might consider using italics to put emphasis on specific words. The story was flowing quite nicely until I hit that part.


Alec snapped his gaze to the girl, who was standing again, kicking Larvitar repeatedly until it fell, unconscious.

You might consider adding genders to the Pokemon. It helps readers get more involved with the story; I found myself wondering whether Larvitar was male or female as this was taking place.

Besides that, one part I did like was the violence against Larvitar from the girl. It's something I rarely encounter in most of the fic's I read. It makes sense for it to happen, and it's a nice realistic touch. I think there is a correlation between readers thinking of Pokemon as animals, and not wanting to hurt them IRL. The thing is though, they are that world's version of animals and in our own world, that sort of thing happens daily. It's nice to see that you're not bound by that particular situation of 'POKEMANS ARE FRIENDS, WE DONT HURT THEM EXCEPT SLIGHTLY IN BATTLE'...hope that makes sense, lol.

Team Skye huh? I've never heard of them before in the anime or games, so I'm assuming this is an organization of your own design. Primarily using flying types in an interesting way to go. I'm struggling with what their motives could be, which can sometimes be a good thing, but I am hopeful that more of their story will be revealed in coming chapters. Unless it already has in your previous fics?

I really liked the ending of chapter two culminating with the kid raising the Manaphy up. To be honest, it's not a Pokemon I know very much about. Obviously from the way the kid is talkin, the Manaphy can change the course of the battle. Which I was confused about at first, but then it made sense to me when I realized that it's a legendary. After reading chapter two, I can say that my interest has shifted to Logan and Chase; I'm looking forward to learning more about this Tracey person who has died (?), and the implications on that and their decision making. My focus is still on Alec however, and I'm excited to see how his struggle against the woman is going to turn out. I doubt he's going to die this early in the story, but it would be a nice touch if he did; I can say that I'm hooked whether he gets killed and if he doesn't. All in all, I've loved what I've read so far and I'm surprised this hasn't recieved more attention. Add me to the PM list please, as I'm eager to read the next chapter.

diamondpearl876
20th May 2012, 7:03 AM
“Another flying type. Birds just rub me the wrong way. In the future, Larvitar, make sure you keep your focus constant through the attack. The point you aimed at was not where you ended up hitting.

I don’t really like the use of the underlining here. Italics might have emphasized your point better, but this could just be personal taste. I’ve personally never seen underlined words in fanfiction or real books before.


The desk was deserted, the chamber drafty and uncomfortably hushed. Larvitar, who had been breathing freely in short, rattling gasps, seemed to become aware of her loud presence and silenced, looking to her trainer for answers.

I’m not sure why, but I particularly liked this piece of description. You really provided a good tone of the sense of being alone and everything being creepy/uncomfortable.

All in all, another good chapter. I really love your writing style, no doubt. Your description is always good and effective, and your dialogue is very realistic and appropriate for each characters’ personalities. It was also a nice touch to include how well-funded and how well-furnished the gyms are. They’re considered the most important buildings ever in the city, which seems realistic… even if I wouldn’t particularly agree with putting pokémon gyms on the top of a priority list when it comes to money. ;p Also, I’ll be interested to see where everything goes. Everything’s a mystery at the moment and I like it that way.

My only complaint is that maybe too much is going on and it’s only chapter 2. You seemed to have jumped right into all the action without fully introducing your characters and such. I understand you want to hook readers in with action, but it seems like a bit much. You have no exposition and this worries me.

Bulba the Great!
20th May 2012, 8:47 PM
Alright, time to take a crack at all this wonderful feedback you guys have given :)


One thing that stuck out was your ability to show things, and your apparent desire to unnecessarily repeat things by telling them. We can already tell that Alec hates to lose, since he calls his past gym battle a "dysmal failure" and he is training his Machop rather harshly due to the fail battle. You have to trust your reader to pick up the small details about your character that you show them, and not tell them directly. It's sufficient enough to just say: "Losing was not an option in Alec's family."

Ooh, good point. See, I wrote that description of Alec in my first ever character outline for him. I guess I was just indulging myself by copy and pasting it into the story. I'll keep that in mind for future introductions!


I read far enough ahead at this point to know this is a Crobat; I thought Crobats were a least as big as a person. But I could be wrong.

This is true, but the actual body size is probably much smaller; I always assumed the entry was reckoning wingspan into its big size.


Nice touch on the trope there. Is Tim's Geodude perhaps in the top percentage of Geodudes?

The very top percent. Haha I'm playing through SoulSilver again and being constantly reminded why I SHOULDN'T accept other trainer's numbers.


Curious...why does he not consider himself "ordinary"? Intriguing.

He doesn't have any superpowers or anything, haha. Alec likes to think he's stronger than most people though, it's completely a mental thing - he wants to prove himself stronger than his family whom he abandoned. It's a complex thing which will continue to haunt him.


I'm assuming this is what I missed in the first two stories? Or is this something else of which that we'll be filling in the blanks?

It's a mixture of both. This story will reference characters and occasionally situations that are written about in my previous works, but also situations that occurred in the four-year gap between Destined and now. Don't worry; everything shall be explained in time :)


Honestly, the Tracey/Logan/Chase stuff...I had to read that about 4 times to get the identities right. They are all gender-neutral, but the one I think is the MOST manly is actually the girl; the one that is most girly is the dead guy; and the one named for my cousin's dog is the living guy. Heh. I was having a really hard time keeping them all straight, but it is only 7am, so...I'm chalking it up to sleepiness.

Alright, ready for the complete character web? Actually, hold on. I'll make a separate post and put a link to it at the top.


...so I'm looking forward to see the struggles and weaknesses associated with [Larvitar] since it's still so small.

It's actually something I love to write about with Alec's Larvitar, something I'm trying to keep constant, that Larvitar is tiny but imagines itself to be as big as its final form. It's very much a Napoleon complex with her :P


Pretty sure there should be an s after the apostrphe

This is actually something I debated for a long time. My name is Chris, so anytime I would pluralize my name I added 's. But my English teacher told me that apparently the extra 's' is not needed, just an apostrophe. But then apparently the rules changed recently? I dunno. It's a weird area of grammar that I despise.


That 'would' being underlined threw me off a bit. You might consider using italics to put emphasis on specific words. The story was flowing quite nicely until I hit that part.

How interesting that you and dp are both so irked by that. I'll avoid underlining in the future - it stems from the fact that I handwrite all my drafts first, so when I want to emphasize something I underline it. I'll translate those to italics in the future ;)


You might consider adding genders to the Pokemon. It helps readers get more involved with the story; I found myself wondering whether Larvitar was male or female as this was taking place.

I usually do use gender pronouns - the only time I try to use 'it' instead is to differentiate the actions. For example, in the quote you provided, the Team Skye girl had done the kicking. So it would've read "Alec snapped his gaze to the girl, who was standing again, kicking Larvitar repeatedly until she fell, unconscious." and I didn't want to create confusion about who was unconscious. Does that make sense? Probably not.



Team Skye huh? I've never heard of them before in the anime or games, so I'm assuming this is an organization of your own design. Primarily using flying types in an interesting way to go. I'm struggling with what their motives could be, which can sometimes be a good thing, but I am hopeful that more of their story will be revealed in coming chapters. Unless it already has in your previous fics?

Team Skye is my own creation, and have appeared in previous works of mine. Their backstory is minimal, because basically the team became a disbanded wreck near the end of Destined - they're re-formed now, with new leadership and entirely different goals. They're more hardcore and basically kick more butt this time around. All you really need to know is they're the 'new Team Rocket' and their focus is always flying types.


To be honest, it's not a Pokemon I know very much about. Obviously from the way the kid is talkin, the Manaphy can change the course of the battle.

Minor clarification, Preston is an adult. And yeah, basically this is one of my favorite cliffhanger ending to chapters, the reveal of a very powerful Pokemon. Don't worry, though, Manaphy isn't a deus ex machina, just kind of an arrival of a cavalry of sorts.


After reading chapter two, I can say that my interest has shifted to Logan and Chase; I'm looking forward to learning more about this Tracey person who has died (?), and the implications on that and their decision making

I'm glad you're warming up to Logan and Chase; as you can probably tell, they're left over from my previous works. Again, you can read their backstory on my character web, but a lot of their story will be told in flashback and what's most crucial is how Tracey's death has affected them. This will be very important, mainly because of how close this issue is with my personal life; a very good friend of mine passed away to cancer last week, and its effect on everyone who knew him has been insane. Everything in these three character's pasts will be explained in a chapter or two, don't worry. I'm not that cruel to just continuously reference nonexistent past events :D


My only complaint is that maybe too much is going on and it’s only chapter 2. You seemed to have jumped right into all the action without fully introducing your characters and such. I understand you want to hook readers in with action, but it seems like a bit much. You have no exposition and this worries me.

Ohhh don't worry. In a chapter or two you'll regret asking for more exposition :P This IS, of course, the beginning of a story; the catalyst of things to come. The main story is yet to begin. This big confusing battle is just the tip of the iceberg and a nice little way to bring out the best and worst of the main players before things calm down a bit and all of their backstories are explained. So just hold on!

Thank you so much for the feedback, guys. Seriously it helps so much.

Alright, time for a character web. Hopefully it will be helpful, not confusing.

Bulba the Great!
20th May 2012, 10:33 PM
Alright, so to ease your pain a little, here's a complete comprehensive of things you need to know in order to continue reading without your brains hurting.

First, a character list of important players.

From One of Many

Tracey Morgan

http://i45.*******.com/sno29l.jpg

Tracey lived in Pallet Town with his best friend, Logan. He left home at age 14 with a Bulbasaur. He initially began a badge quest but soon found himself in danger from Skylar, head of Team Skye, who was hunting the Skarmory he had captured at Cerulean Cape. Skylar accidentally caused Tracey's death, which ended One of Many. Mysteriously, he returned to life in time to join Chase Tang's journey in Destined. His return to life was never explained...until now. He was alive when last seen at the end of Destined. His second death has yet to be visited. In the convoluted love triangle forming between him, Logan, and Chase, Tracey seemed to be winning. He had a Bulbasaur, Manectric, Skarmory, Quilava, and Trapinch before his [2nd] death.

Logan Clements

http://i48.*******.com/5f5j4y.jpg

Logan left Pallet Town with her best friend Tracey at the start of One of Many. Initially described as beautiful, carefree, blonde and basically perfect, she has deteriorated slightly by the timeline of Earth, Air, Water, Fire. She started with a Squirtle, and was also on a badge quest until the fateful night of Tracey's homicide at the hands of Skylar. She attempted to shield Tracey and ended up snapping her spine, which due to the advanced technology of the Pokemon world was correctable, although now her spine is mostly artificial. She is scarred by the absence of Tracey, living mostly in the past. She and Chase have been on and off romantically involved since Tracey's second death. They are returning from the Unova region. She was last seen in Destined with a Squirtle, Beedrill, and Magikarp.

Skylar

http://i50.*******.com/kd0i1f.jpg

Skylar was the initial leader of the group known as Team Skye. Introduced at the climax of One of Many, he seemed at first to be a one-dimensional villain, ruthless and cruel. After his unintentional murder of Tracey, his hardened outer shell broke to reveal a man who lost his wife when she died in childbirth, also losing his child. He is seen imprisoned in Destined, and shows remorse. Team Skye is kept alive by his lieutenants who are trying to free him, but he is lynched by an angry mob before anyone can save him. Although he is deceased, his name is used often by the new generation of Team Skye present in Earth, Air, Water, Fire by the new leader, Gabriel.

Vincent

Vincent was a nasty piece of work who acted as a foil to Tracey in One of Many, a powerful trainer who challenged Tracey to battle a few times. While irrelevent to the main plot of Destined, he crossed paths with Chase and challenged him to a battle which culminated in Chase's Sceptile draining life energy while struggling to defeat Vincent's Charizard. He sent his condolences. In the four years since Destined, he lost his life, an event which will be further explained in Earth, Air, Water, Fire.

From Destined

Chase Tang

http://i46.*******.com/288d4h.jpg

Chase is from the Hoenn region. Destined began with his travels in the Kanto region being the sole focus. He is challenging Will of the Elite Four to a battle at the beginning of Destined, and in the aftermath of the battle he meets Tracey and Logan. Due to a dream he had the night before, Chase suggested they travel together, saying it was 'destined'. While for the duration of Destined he is a lighthearted but powerful trainer, his character shows maturation. This process has completed by the time of Earth, Air, Water, Fire. The deaths of Tracey and Sceptile have hardened him and he is prone to snapping, although his sweet nature can still shine through. He was last seen in Destined with a Sceptile, Banette, Absol, Drowzee, Nidorino, and Tyrogue.

Sceptile

Chase's first Pokemon, it evolved to its final stage and proved its fierce dedication to Chase while battling Vincent. In a last-ditch effort to win, it pushed beyond 0 hit points in battle, draining from its life force to bring Charizard down. It is given a year to live at the end of Destined, and has deceased since.

Other things to know

At the end of Destined. a portal was seen opening to the human world, our world. This caused a massive war between the Pokemon world and ours, none of which was seen. Through flashback, stories will be told from this massive event. Tracey and Vincent both lost their lives in this war.

This will be updated if I missed anything. Cheers!

Bulba the Great!
7th June 2012, 10:59 PM
Just letting everyone know summer has kicked into full swing for me, I've been away from my computer and writing a lot but I've got a really good opener set up for Chapter Three. I think it's gonna be a really good chapter, Chapter Two was a bit of a mess, three should be a little more linear. Hopefully I'll be posting it soon!

Sid87
8th June 2012, 12:12 AM
Just letting everyone know summer has kicked into full swing for me, I've been away from my computer and writing a lot but I've got a really good opener set up for Chapter Three. I think it's gonna be a really good chapter, Chapter Two was a bit of a mess, three should be a little more linear. Hopefully I'll be posting it soon!

I hope so, too. ;) Take your time, and I'm sure it will be worth the wait.

Bulba the Great!
13th July 2012, 8:10 AM
In case anyone is slightly curious, I am nearing the end of my editing process for Ch. 3. This has been a wild ride, with several rewrites. Expect it by the end of the week!

Bulba the Great!
19th July 2012, 4:50 AM
Chapter Three

February 8, 2007

“Don’t sweat it, I’ll check it out. Buena probably just left her equipment running again.” Elijah Pahria chuckled as his partner Jesse climbed the spiral staircase to the floor above them. Not much had happened in the way of excitement since he had been promoted to chief of night watch security at the Goldenrod Radio Tower, and it was a pleasant feeling being in the position to order others to investigate strange noises for once.

“See anything?” he called out. Jesse didn’t answer immediately. “Jess? Anything up there?”

“Yeah, I think it’s just a microphone feedback thing. I’m not gonna pretend I understand these devices very well.” Elijah nodded, smiling and allowing his heart rate to slow again. Another false alarm. “Could you come help me turn this thing off? It’s gonna bug me ‘til I figure it out.” But of course. Jess was completely hopeless when it came to technology. The head of security scanned his floor, dark and empty, and ascended the stairs. Jesse was pushing buttons at random behind Buena’s station, a high-pitched whine emitting from her soundboard. Elijah was no great shakes at this kind of equipment, either, although he would never admit it. All he could think was perhaps pulling the plug would be the cure-all solution.

“What was that?” He heard a crash from the floor he had just left unattended. He immediately bolted, cursing his amateur mistake. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, his heart pounding, his eyes landed on the five figures in ski masks, all training their weapons on him. Jesse came puffing down the stairs a moment later, not registering the danger until a warning shot whistled past his left shoulder. “Jesse, don’t do anything rash-” Elijah hadn’t even finished when his partner barreled straight toward the group, gun drawn. Six rounds of artillery flew into the portly young man, stopping him cold. The sixth weapon belonged to a tall, lean figure who had just come up the stairs. He alone was unmasked, and he scanned the floor with a calm serenity.

“Well, what an unexpected surprise! Fancy seeing you here, Elijah.” His small mouth twisted into an almost genuine smile. He lowered his gun, striding into the cavernous room. “It’s awfully dark up here. How do you see?” He flicked a switch on the wall, illuminating the scene: six against one, a body between them, blood seeping through the cracks of the hardwood floor.

“Gabriel, what are you doing? This will land you in jail!” Elijah took a step toward his fallen partner, his face torn between anger, grief, and bewilderment. Another bullet narrowly missed its mark, landing instead in a piece of recording equipment, causing a rainfall of brilliant crimson and gold sparks.

“Don’t shoot, Myles. He’s not dangerous.” Elijah’s mind was working in slow motion, his expert reflexes dulled at the sight of Gabriel in a common gang, dressed in midnight blue and chuckling quietly. He took another step toward the scarlet pool of blood, gun locked on his assailants. Six on one wasn’t good odds, every fiber of his being told him he was already dead. His only hope was tripping the alarm across the room - beyond his arm’s reach, but not his weapon’s. He shifted his aim, hand shaking more than slightly, a bead of sweat falling from his glistening forehead.

“Clear out of here, Gabriel. I’ll give you time to escape before I trip the alarm.”

“I’m afraid I need to retrieve a piece of very valuable machinery, first. Come now, Elijah, don’t do anything rash.” A shot sounded out, followed immediately by another. “DON’T. SHOOT!” Gabriel’s scream was a half second late. Sky-blue eyes met their twins before Elijah collapsed, the alarm sounding shrilly. Gabriel yelled, fury and anguish rising above the loud siren. He threw his gun to the ground, running to catch the unintended victim. The shooter, a female figure, eyes wide and fearful, lowered the revolver and approached cautiously.

“Gabriel, I didn’t mean - he shot, and I...” Gabriel ignored her, cradling the blonde head of the fallen guard. When reinforcements arrived, the other thieves were long gone, but their leader was still on his knees, unmoving and stone-faced, unable to forgive himself for his brother’s death.

…................................................. ...........................................

Two years later, Gabriel Pahria could be barely recognized as his former self. The figure standing in the center of the weathered lighthouse was still lean, but his shoulder were broader, his stature straight, composed. His hair had changed from thick chestnut to reedy, damaged crimson. His eyes, though still a piercing blue, were hard, unyielding. His back, visible upon removal of his fitted gray jacket, was covered with scarlet flames, black smoke billowing to either shoulder blade and a magnificent golden phoenix erupting from the center, climbing his spine to the base of his neck. Gabriel stared silently at his struggling guest.

“All I require is one simple call. That’s all I need you to do. I would think you want this man’s assistance, wouldn’t you?” Jasmine, Gym Leader of the Olivine Gym, was bound with two other bodies to the bottom of the pedestal that normally held the beacon that guided ships through the endless sea outside. She alone was conscious, although her Ampharos had only just been knocked out after safely leading the S.S. Helen to her destination. The other body belonged to a girl named Amber she did not know, the live bait for Alex Gideon. She hadn’t moved for a good five hours.

“Why don’t you call him like you called that poor boy?” The man kneeled down in front of her, looking calmly, directly into her eyes. Up close, Jasmine couldn’t help but appreciate his soothing scent, like cinnamon. She held his gaze, unflinching.

“Only gym leaders know the code for Elite assistance in their cities, Jasmine.” His volume had not raised, but his voice was quiet, deadly. It was all she could muster to hide her surprise at this precious knowledge. This code had indeed been in effect since the cunning false alarm that had led to the trapping and brutal murder of Lance, the former Champion.

“I don’t...know what you’re talking about.” She was seized with sudden inspiration, and added, “There might be something in the gym, a hidden switch or something that can summon him, if you’d just...”

“My most trusted colleague has thoroughly searched the gym already. There is nothing. No, you are the keystone to my efforts, Jasmine. One call. Get Will to this city on the wings of his precious pet, and everyone goes back to their blissful lives. Scout’s honor.” Although his eyes were narrowed and his face was pulled in a cool smile, the gym leader gleaned sincerity in his oath. While the wheels in her head raced, a rustling overhead caused her to gasp. A shadowy winged creature soared in through the open window, landing roughly on the dusty ground in front of its trainer.

“I thought I told you to guard the Inn, Mandibuzz. Unless...” The sorrel vulture’s baleful gaze confirmed his suspicions. Gabriel turned back to Jasmine, his manner agitated, his cool attitude evaporated completely. “Call the number and spare the citizens of Olivine from an agony quite unlike anything they’ve experienced before.” He held the gym leader’s own Poké Gear up to her face, his blue eyes drilling into hers. Jasmine made her decision, glancing quickly at her Ampharos, deflated and lifeless. She dialed the number.

.................................................. .....................................

“Just put it on the floor and back away. Don’t put anyone at risk, Alec. Don’t be foolish.” The gun was aimed quite steadily at the young man, its owner eyeing the rucksack slung over his shoulder. Alec didn’t move, prolonging the time his Magby could complete his task. “This isn’t a game, boy. The foolishness ends now.” Alec licked his dry lips, tightening his grip on his bag, the one lifeline he had left.

“What do you want from me?” He already knew the answer; he only owned one unique item. A bullet roared past his cheek, the shot shattering the air, sound following action a half second later.

“I’m not playing around, Alec. I can just as easily take the bag from a dead body. You get twenty seconds before the next shot. Think it over. Don’t abandon your Pokémon.” She kicked Larvitar’s small body onto its back, the large eyes closed, unconscious. A shiver passed involuntarily through Alec’s body, charging up and down his spine like a shock - ironic, considering the room was getting very hot. The girl had also noticed the climb in temperature, and her eyes flicked to Magby, bent on heating the pole behind Alec.

“Crobat, stop that Magby.” The vampire bat, intent on drawing blood from its current victim, released Machop and sped toward the humanoid, glowing red creature behind Alec. A click and release of a loud, screeching whistle told Alec that the woman’s orders had come too late - the fire alarm had been triggered by the intense heat emanating from the pillar. Every body still moving froze at this sound, and Alec watched as the Team Skye leader realized her folly. A sudden torrent of water crashed into the room from all sides, meant for efficiency - but in the lockdown, it spelled death. Alec returned Larvitar and Machop to their Poké Balls, then dashed to the pillar which Magby was clinging onto desperately, trying to escape the spreading flood.

“Excellent work, Magby. You’re exempt from cardio tomorrow.” Magby seemed more focused on avoiding a thorough soaking than Alec’s promise, and gratefully returned to its Poké Ball in a streak of crimson light. Alec turned at a shriek from across the room. The woman was drenched, staring in horror at her Poké Gear, which was shooting great streams of golden sparks in every direction.

“What have you done? We’re trapped in here!” Alec stared. “This door is locked from the outside! Nobody would be stupid enough to lock themselves into a self-cleaning box! I have no way to alert my team!” This was a massive flaw in a plan Alec had thought to be close to genius.

“Well...where are your teammates? Shouldn’t they be right outside?” Water was climbing at an alarming rate, already soaking Alec up to his knees. For all his training, he had never been great shakes at swimming. The woman yelled in frustration.

“They’re all five blocks down, dealing with complications. They won’t even hear the sirens -” She kicked her now useless Poké Gear ten yards - “because they’re going off everywhere.” Alec was very white, his heart beating somewhere much higher than usual in his chest.

“I’ve sentenced us to death.”

.................................................. .....................................

Chase and Logan had been separated. After fighting their way through the wall of Team Skye members barring exit from the Olivine docks, they and a handful of trainers had battled their way through the dark streets of Olivine, ringing with the mixed brutal cries of human, Pokémon, and three separate alarms. A small explosion had both split the friends in two different directions, and caused inconvenient injuries - Chase’s right eye was clamped shut, blood pouring freely from a gash above it, and Logan felt as though her ears had been lobbed off - everything sounded muffled, distant.

“Watch behind you!” cried a thirty-some-year-old man fighting next to Chase. Before he could even react, a bright violet arm shot past him, connecting with a skull somewhere over his left shoulder. Nidoking, looking more fearsome than usual due to four scarlet tears across his horned face, dashed past his trainer, presumably to finish what he’d started.

“Servine, Leaf Tornado!” Chase shouted, ordering his small reptilian companion forward. He thought he could make out Logan’s sheet of platinum hair, and he was taking as many shortcuts as possible to reunite with his companion. The grass snake produced a flurry of glowing jade leaves from the beige collar around its neck and whipped up a strong wind, sucking them into a cyclone that towered above the action. Before release, however, a Swoobat tackled it head-on, causing the attack to fizzle out. Chase, disoriented, his vision clouded, kicked at the icy-blue bat and bellowed Logan’s name. But of course, she couldn’t hear him.

She was within earshot, but her ears were now ringing, and she was resorting to acting purely on impulse and sight. To her left, an older man with grey hair was lying prone on the ground, a miniature aqua-blue creature standing between him and a very tall woman, a Swellow and Staraptor circling their prey. The little blue imp had projected an orb around itself and its master, but the repeated attacks were wearing it down - Logan could see its tiny body heaving with the effort.

“How hard is it to break one Protect? Bring it down, Swellow!” The woman was weary of the fight, eager to finish the resistance before word reached Team Skye’s leader. He had enough on his hands without the swarm of bodies and small explosions littering the once-peaceful cobbled streets of the city. Although its endurance was incredible and its offensive powers were massive, Manaphy was still buckling under the onslaught of bird Pokémon. Preston was out cold, unable to command the legendary through this insanity. The female towering over them touched her ear, brow furrowed. She nodded, a small smile appearing on her wide face.

“Look to the skies!” The code for Team Skye that great fortune had occurred was, in this instance, also a command. Her loud voice boomed across the street, carrying over the mass of growls and screeches. Although very dark, all eyes glancing upward could see the magnificent white creature closing in on the fighters.

“It’s Will! Champion Will has arrived!” Nearly all fighting ceased, foe and friend alike awed by the beautiful wide wings of Lugia spread above them.

.................................................. .....................................

Alec was on top of the lower steel arch now, completely soaked and examining the box that had set the hoses off in the first place. There was no visible cease trigger, which seemed an unsafe oversight on the architect’s part. The water was at his feet, although he was now nearly touching the high ceiling. The woman (whose name he still did not know, which seemed odd given the circumstances) was banging frantically on the door, having sent the rest of her bullets into it already, her gun floating uselessly twenty feet away from her. Simply put, the system was too perfectly designed to double as a deathtrap. Alec mused that perhaps Jasmine secretly headed a mafia group with a penchant for torture, his mind stressed beyond the point of sanity.

“Open, goddammit!” The woman was now having difficulty hitting the tall doors, as they were currently completely underwater. Alec gave up on the box and dove into the water, numbly registering everything inside his pack was probably useless now. He swam to the Team Skye leader’s side and kicked the door, unable to avoid her accusing stare.

“Since it’s likely we’re not going to be heard...can I at least know why you were ready to kill me? Or hear your name, or something.” Alec had given up hope, his only source of happiness being that his Pokémon were safe in their balls, although he wasn’t quite sure what happened to the creatures when their owner passed away. Would they still be bound to their Poké Balls? The woman hit the door once more before turning all her energy to staying afloat. Her eyes, once devoid of the I’m-going-to-kill-you expression, were really quite pretty. She examined Alec’s face before speaking.

“Natalia. My name’s Natalia. I’m not entirely sure why I’m telling you, but.” She sighed, surprised at the calm she was experiencing. How ironic that water, so gentle and yielding, would now slowly press her out like a flame.

“At least our Pokémon are safe.” He wasn’t sure who he was trying to reassure more, himself or Natalia. She seemed to be in her own world, though. Something was odd about her face - it was blurring slightly. Perhaps Alec’s vision was going first.

“I was raised on the sea,” she said quietly. Alec did not know how to respond. The water was now pushing them into the ceiling. Natalia’s long hair was hanging in great strands across her face, fallen from the tight bun.

“I’m sorry for causing this. For trapping you here, and being the last person you talk to before...being the guy you die with.” This was all Alec could think to say. Breathing was becoming difficult. In the cold water, Natalia’s face had transformed - it seemed the left side of her face had been caked with heavy, quite realistic make-up. Revealed now were a series of angry burns, spreading from her ear to the left eye, not deep or scarring, but glowing slightly as if still fresh. It occurred to him to ask about them, but that was when his head plunged under and never resurfaced.

.................................................. .....................................

Gabriel was clinging onto his Gliscor for dear life, still not completely at ease with flying. It was curious that the leader of a group so taken with the skies be afraid of heights, but he never said a word to his teammates, and nobody ever asked. It had been quite clear even from the lighthouse which direction he was headed - only one area of the city was lit. Swift as his Pokémon was, he still urged it forward, feeling impatient - he was positive he could see Lugia from where he was.

On the ground, efforts had redoubled on both sides - Team Skye seemed determined that as little opposition remain as possible when Will joined the fight. Chase was down four Pokémon, depending entirely on his Nidoking and Torkoal to defend him. He was locked in combat with a surprisingly young-looking member of the team, wide-eyed and sandy-haired, which contrasted terribly with the degree of desperation displayed on his round face.

“Torkoal, Sludge Bomb!” The small tortoise was completely at odds with her winged opponent and the crowded battlefield - her body was easily a quarter the size of her surrounding peers, and the long crack running widthwise across her coal-colored shell betrayed her prowess on the battlefield. She let out a high squeal and a putrid mass of foul, muddy sludge exploded from the red core of her shell and raced toward the Unfezant hovering twelve feet away. Its reflexes were sub-par, and the attack caught the bird’s right wing, causing it to spiral in midair.

“Air Cutter!” Before the damaged Pokémon could respond, a voice rang out from the front of the Inn. “The clouds part! From the lighthouse’s direction!” This didn’t make much sense to Chase, for he couldn’t see much, and definitely couldn’t see any clouds, but his opponent’s eyes snapped reverently to the skies. Cries of support rang out from across the broad street, for Gabriel had arrived, as promised. Not fifty feet above the wounded, increasingly few moving shapes loomed the two wide-winged beasts Lugia and Gliscor, each mounted by men of wonderful power. A scream rang out, snapping Chase’s attention back to land; Torkoal had been flipped onto her back by a Golbat, who was leeching energy from her in a haze of violet venom. Nidoking stumbled twenty yards away, fighting to keep the upper hand against two Fearow and a Skarmory. Above, Lugia and Gliscor met, a bright light radiating from the Psychic Pokémon’s core. Everything was running together, and Chase’s one good eye was starting to mist over.

Logan had been backed against the wall of the Inn, cornered with the now-revived grey-haired man from before. Her hearing was slightly improved, enough that she could puzzle together sentences. Her Houndoom was fighting tooth and nail alongside the man’s Manaphy, but the woman with the Swellow was relentless. The temporary lull had ended, and the only thing anyone could do was continue hoping Will, their Champion, would make things right.

.................................................. .....................................

Natalia, alone with her thoughts, water clogging every sense, Alec’s body floating lifeless next to her, allowed a few happy memories to play through her confused, waterlogged brain. One that continued to surface was her father, young, eager and clever, looking her in the eyes during his second wedding.

“Talia, remember one thing. One thing,” he slurred, alcohol having slightly impaired his speech, “Our family? We’re survivors. Your grandmother, bless her heart, lived through three wars, and the purge, and she’s still going strong. Your new mother,” (here he hiccoughed, his eyes still steadily focused on his daughter), “has survived two stabbings and an abortion. You are blessed with luck.” He stumbled and laughed, the moment broken, embracing his daughter.

Two years later, and Natalia couldn’t help but allow her last thought to be, “Well, dad. You were wrong.” As she slid out of consciousness, the doors to the gym broke open.

To be continued...

Sid87
20th July 2012, 2:30 PM
Chapter Three

It's been a while! I'll probably have to keep referring back to the previous chapters for reference. :)


“Don’t sweat it, I’ll check it out. Buena probably just left her equipment running again.” Elijah Pahria chuckled as his partner Jesse climbed the spiral staircase to the floor above them. Not much had happened in the way of excitement since he had been promoted to chief of night watch security at the Goldenrod Radio Tower, and it was a pleasant feeling being in the position to order others to investigate strange noises for once.

So is that Jesse speaking there then? Since she's the one going to examine the noise? I was a little unclear. Elijah seems kind of like a jerk; a middling worker bee who gets a little authority and lords it over his staff. Will he be a regular, or is this just a nice little fleshing out of a minor character?


“What was that?” He heard a crash from the floor he had just left unattended. He immediately bolted, cursing his amateur mistake. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, his heart pounding, his eyes landed on the five figures in ski masks, all training their weapons on him. Jesse came puffing down the stairs a moment later, not registering the danger until a warning shot whistled past his left shoulder. “Jesse, don’t do anything rash-” Elijah hadn’t even finished when his partner barreled straight toward the group, gun drawn. Six rounds of artillery flew into the portly young man, stopping him cold. The sixth weapon belonged to a tall, lean figure who had just come up the stairs. He alone was unmasked, and he scanned the floor with a calm serenity.

Alas, Jesse. I hardly knew ye. A portly man whom I originally thought was a woman and then was gunned down in a foolish act of heroism.


“Gabriel, what are you doing? This will land you in jail!” Elijah took a step toward his fallen partner, his face torn between anger, grief, and bewilderment. Another bullet narrowly missed its mark, landing instead in a piece of recording equipment, causing a rainfall of brilliant crimson and gold sparks.

Two problems with the bolded line:
1) It reads as if it is describing Jesse's face.
2) Considering the narration is affixed to Elijah, it's odd to have his face described. You generally wouldn't be describing your own face. I would change that to just "his EMOTIONS torn between..."


“I’m afraid I need to retrieve a piece of very valuable machinery, first. Come now, Elijah, don’t do anything rash.”

Watch out for overusing certain phrases (especially from different characters...if one character repeats things, it's his gimmick, but if a few people do, it reads as the writer's own voice). This is the second usage of "don't do anything rash" already.


“Gabriel, I didn’t mean - he shot, and I...” Gabriel ignored her, cradling the blonde head of the fallen guard. When reinforcements arrived, the other thieves were long gone, but their leader was still on his knees, unmoving and stone-faced, unable to forgive himself for his brother’s death.

Hmmm. Curious!


Two years later, Gabriel Pahria could be barely recognized as his former self. The figure standing in the center of the weathered lighthouse was still lean, but his shoulder were broader, his stature straight, composed. His hair had changed from thick chestnut to reedy, damaged crimson. His eyes, though still a piercing blue, were hard, unyielding. His back, visible upon removal of his fitted gray jacket, was covered with scarlet flames, black smoke billowing to either shoulder blade and a magnificent golden phoenix erupting from the center, climbing his spine to the base of his neck. Gabriel stared silently at his struggling guest.

Okay, so now we're on this Gabriel guy pretty hard. What happened to Alec, Logan, and Chase? I miss them. But getting entirely new characters is a good way to refresh the reader after the delay between chapters.


“I thought I told you to guard the Inn, Mandibuzz. Unless...” The sorrel vulture’s baleful gaze confirmed his suspicions. Gabriel turned back to Jasmine, his manner agitated, his cool attitude evaporated completely. “Call the number and spare the citizens of Olivine from an agony quite unlike anything they’ve experienced before.” He held the gym leader’s own Poké Gear up to her face, his blue eyes drilling into hers. Jasmine made her decision, glancing quickly at her Ampharos, deflated and lifeless. She dialed the number.

This was a tense chapter. The murder of Lance? Will we see/hear any more of that? It has piqued my curiosity. Do we know Alex Gideon yet? Is he related to Alec, or did you typo here? And Will...do we know him? I don't quite recognize that name. I might just have forgotten some stuff.

Gabriel is obviously a bad guy, but...is he really? Jasmine thinks he is sincere in wanting to spare the citizens...but she could just be overly trusting. Where are the rest of her pokemon besides Ampharos?


“Crobat, stop that Magby.” The vampire bat, intent on drawing blood from its current victim, released Machop and sped toward the humanoid, glowing red creature behind Alec.

There ashould be another comma between "glowing" and "red".


“Well...where are your teammates? Shouldn’t they be right outside?” Water was climbing at an alarming rate, already soaking Alec up to his knees. For all his training, he had never been great shakes at swimming. The woman yelled in frustration.

Another overusage of an odd term; this is the second time someone has referred to themselves as "no great shakes" at something. Just watch out for those. :)


“Servine, Leaf Tornado!” Chase shouted, ordering his small reptilian companion forward. He thought he could make out Logan’s sheet of platinum hair, and he was taking as many shortcuts as possible to reunite with his companion. The grass snake produced a flurry of glowing jade leaves from the beige collar around its neck and whipped up a strong wind, sucking them into a cyclone that towered above the action. Before release, however, a Swoobat tackled it head-on, causing the attack to fizzle out. Chase, disoriented, his vision clouded, kicked at the icy-blue bat and bellowed Logan’s name. But of course, she couldn’t hear him.

I'm having a hard time following the action here, as it is all very harried and quick. Which is not a bad thing, because I feel like Chase a bit in the narration: very frazzled and frustrated and trying desperately to cling to what's going on. If that's what you were shooting for, then good job. But I still got kinda lost on what the red arm and the skull were, as well as who Nidoking belongs to.


She was within earshot, but her ears were now ringing, and she was resorting to acting purely on impulse and sight. To her left, an older man with grey hair was lying prone on the ground, a miniature aqua-blue creature standing between him and a very tall woman, a Swellow and Staraptor circling their prey. The little blue imp had projected an orb around itself and its master, but the repeated attacks were wearing it down - Logan could see its tiny body heaving with the effort.

I might like this section better if it was just attached to Chase OR Logan, and not shifting between them. I think it would do a better job showing the confusion and disconnection between them if I wasn't privy to both of their internal processes. But then, I'm kind of a stickler against omniscient narrator. :)


“It’s Will! Champion Will has arrived!” Nearly all fighting ceased, foe and friend alike awed by the beautiful wide wings of Lugia spread above them.

Oh, that's Will. A Lugia AND a Manaphy already, huh? I'm actually slightly disappointed in the scene with Manaphy because it's reveal last chapter seemed like a big deal, but here it's kind of irrelevant.


Alec was on top of the lower steel arch now, completely soaked and examining the box that had set the hoses off in the first place. There was no visible cease trigger, which seemed an unsafe oversight on the architect’s part.

LOL. Okay, I like that line. He's in imminent peril, but his brain is rejecting that and instead attacking a faulty architect. I just really like everything about that line. Funny and realistic.


“Natalia. My name’s Natalia. I’m not entirely sure why I’m telling you, but.” She sighed, surprised at the calm she was experiencing. How ironic that water, so gentle and yielding, would now slowly press her out like a flame.

Good imagery there.


Gabriel was clinging onto his Gliscor for dear life, still not completely at ease with flying. It was curious that the leader of a group so taken with the skies be afraid of heights, but he never said a word to his teammates, and nobody ever asked.

That's an interesting touch. Not sure if it will ever end up being relevant, but it's a really nice insight into the character.



-I do like the battles as a flurry of hard-to-follow action, as I already pointed out. It really put me in the middle of the scene and made me feel as lost and desperate as the characters. that said, do be careful that they aren't overly confusing like I found the first few moments of Chase's battle to be.

-I feel like with Natalia and Gabriel, we're introducing a lot of tragically tormented psuedo-villains. That's not necessarily bad--and, in fact, it's good to give the characters some depth--but it feels a little thick right now. Not everyone needs to have a background sob story.

-I liked the line about hoping Will would make things right because it rings of desperation and false hope. I can't read that line and not think that Will is going to falter or just somehow fail to live through on the promise he represents.

-I was sad to see Jasmine so easily jobbed off to Team Skye, but that's okay. I would at least like to have seen her defeat since she's a relevant gym leader.

-Again, the Alec stuff while in mortal peril was handled really well. I particularly dug that sequence. He is the main character, yes, but he's also the most engrossing to me. He is young, smart, and entertaining. And hopefully not drowned. :)

Keep it up!

Bulba the Great!
30th September 2012, 10:13 PM
Hey guys,

So, here's my dilemma. (This is about to become a very whiny post, I already sense it. Am I twenty therefore should be far more mature than this? Hell yeah. Do I care enough to stop? Probably not.) I love writing. I really do. But I also want to be able to improve as a writer. What really sucks is that this world I am writing in, this "Pokemon for those above ten but not in college", is like the smallest demographic ever. I love the characters and world I am writing in, but outside of a Pokemon Message Board, nobody gives a crap, therefore I can't exactly take this to a mentor and have him criticize it for me. I am very busy, as we all are, and it feels almost redundant to state writing takes a lot of commitment, as we all know that, but it's EXTREMELY disheartening when literally four people in the world care enough to read your writing, and only maybe one of them is actually reading it out of the goodness of their heart, not because they're hoping for criticism on their own work.

Is this hypocritical? Yes. Very. I'm guilty of not doing enough of my own reading. And I apologize for that. I just have gotten very frustrated lately that in the only place somebody might actually enjoy my stories, they still barely stay afloat.

Literally after the response to Chapter Three I haven't had the heart to even start Chapter Four. And I had big plans for this return to my created world of Pokemon.

Sorry, maybe I just need more sleep.

Sidewinder
1st October 2012, 8:46 PM
Well, I was ambling through the board and saw your post and decided to comment on it. Please don't take anything I say the wrong way, as I'm only trying to help out. It seems though with your post you are answering quite a few of your questions.


but outside of a Pokemon Message Board, nobody gives a crap, therefore I can't exactly take this to a mentor and have him criticize it for me.

Are you saying that you can't take this to an actual author/writing teacher and have him/her give you notes on it? That's somewhat small minded because fiction is fiction, it doesn't matter if it's Pokemon centric, or Digimon, or even vampire related fiction. The writing is what matters, and ninety-nine percent of the time, people that actually have experience being an author or advisor on writing won't care what the subject matter is. If the point of your writing is to improve as an author you should take it to someone with actual experience who can give you real advice, the fact that your story is Pokemon oriented won't matter


but it's EXTREMELY disheartening when literally four people in the world care enough to read your writing, and only maybe one of them is actually reading it out of the goodness of their heart, not because they're hoping for criticism on their own work.

I almost agree with you on that, but I just can't. If I post a chapter of my fic and just one person responds, that's enough for me. Hell, I've had people respond who don't even have fic's out there so I know they're replying because they just want to. I apologize that you haven't had as many responses to your fic as you've wanted, that sucks, especially if you've been working as hard on this as you say you have, but at the same time, you have to think that if anyone reviews at all, that does mean they care. If they're only reviewing on the hope that you review them back, it's still a review, so count yourself lucky. They're are a few fic's on the board that have 5+ chapters and haven't gotten a single reply. I am pleased and honored for every shred of praise or criticism, good job or that was terrible, that I can get my hands on. Sure, some of them probably only review because I review their fic's in return, but I know that some review because they actually like my story. The thing is though buddy, that takes time, and you have to be patient.


Literally after the response to Chapter Three I haven't had the heart to even start Chapter Four. And I had big plans for this return to my created world of Pokemon.

The quoted portion brings me to my next and last point.

Why are you writing this story? Do you just like to write? Are you writing this because you want to see where the characters go? Or are you just writing for people to respond with their own thoughts on your imagination? All of the three are decent reasons for writing, and personally I subscribe to the second. I've had my story in my head for several years and one day I decided to just write it out. I adore my characters and I really love the story I've created. And I can honestly say that I would keep posting it even if no one gave me any more reviews. Hell, if this site went down I'd keep writing it on my laptop until it's done. I have no intention of being an author at all, I just want to see where my story goes, period. From what I see from you it seems like you want to take writing a little bit higher than the level of being a hobby, which is wonderful. From what I've read of your work so far you seem to have talent. What I'm getting at is maybe you need to decide what you're writing for. If your goal is because you just like to write, then just do it. If your goal for writing is to follow your characters and see where their adventure takes them, just write. If you want to see responses for your effort, in all honesty you are going to have to review other people's work pretty regularly, that's just the way it is. It takes time to build up a base to where people review because they love the story, and until you get to that spot, you're going to have to review to get them. I know you know that, but still.

And if you're writing because you want people to read your work and give you praise or criticism, and you're not getting what you want here, then maybe you should take your fic to another board, or stop writing Pokemon Centric stuff altogether. You're talented buddy, and I'm sure you could write about anything you wanted and it would be an engaging read. What you're doing right now is actually infinitely harder though. You said it yourself. Pokemon fic's have a very small fanbase when compared to other genre's, so to be honest you're doing something a lot harder than anyone who writes a crime thriller or serial killer drama. You actually have to expand your imagination to the extreme to write a story that people will enjoy because of the subject matter involved.

If your last post was just so you could vent, I apologize and ignore everything I just said. I'll tell you right now though, from now on if you put out a chapter I'll review it. I gave you one review a few months ago and after reading over it a moment ago, I want to do another for the rest of the chapters. You don't even have to review my fic in exchange. I'm going to review your's because you want it, and because so far I'm enjoying the story. So you'll have at least one response for every chapter you put out. Pm me when it's up, and I'll get it done. Good luck buddy :)

Bulba the Great!
2nd October 2012, 6:10 AM
Wow. Sidewinder, that was absolutely the kindest response in the universe. Thank you, an infinite times over.

I apologize if my above post comes across as selfish or angry. Think of it more as the more articulate word vomit from a guy struggling through Junior Year of College and averaging four hours of sleep a night. I absolutely intend to continue writing, but also to keep reading, any chance I get. It's an important part of writing - reading others' work, getting in their head. I just need to get back to my characters.

Again, though, SW, thank you for helping me put things in perspective. Even if I'm writing for a one person audience, that's enough. :)

Sidewinder
3rd October 2012, 4:33 AM
Wow. Sidewinder, that was absolutely the kindest response in the universe. Thank you, an infinite times over.

I apologize if my above post comes across as selfish or angry. Think of it more as the more articulate word vomit from a guy struggling through Junior Year of College and averaging four hours of sleep a night. I absolutely intend to continue writing, but also to keep reading, any chance I get. It's an important part of writing - reading others' work, getting in their head. I just need to get back to my characters.


No problem buddy. Look, I know how it can be when you write something and are so proud of it that you want to see what other people think of it too. Hell, sometimes I write stuff with people in mind on how they will react to it. I understand what you we're going through and I can appreciate what you said, so I hope the following review lets you know that I'm here and I really like what's going on in your world.


Again, though, SW, thank you for helping me put things in perspective. Even if I'm writing for a one person audience, that's enough.

I'm really happy you said that buddy. Kudos to you


Review for chapter three as promised


“Yeah, I think it’s just a microphone feedback thing. I’m not gonna pretend I understand these devices very well.” Elijah nodded, smiling and allowing his heart rate to slow again. Another false alarm. “Could you come help me turn this thing off? It’s gonna bug me ‘til I figure it out.”

That's some good realistic speaking there. I see a lot of fic's that actually have a lot of trouble with producing natural flowing dialogue like the quoted portion above. For example, you can hear the edge in his voice that slightly betrays his fear. Even though he's allowing his heart rate to slow, personally I feel like he's still somewhat uncomfortable. The "'til" you used was a nice touch of slang there that made me think he has a small accent too. You accomplished quite a bit with those sentences involving this character; nice work.


“What was that?” He heard a crash from the floor he had just left unattended.

Hmm, that reads kinda weird. You may try and rearrange it so it looks something like this

"What was that," he asked himself as he heard a crash from the floor he just left.

When you phrase it the way you did it makes it seem like a disembodied voice is saying that when obviously the intent is for it to come out of Elijah's mouth...you dig?


Six rounds of artillery flew into the portly young man, stopping him cold.

Wow, this is escalating fast lol

My only gripe is that I would have liked a little more visual involved. Say, how the blood hit the walls as the bullets exited his body, the sound his skull made when it smacked into the floor. descriptions like that can really ramp up the violence level to a nice scary place. If that's not where you were wanting to go, forgive me for saying anything. My assumption though since this is a more mature audience oriented Pokemon Fic, that you have no problem making the lighter side a little darker. I hope that makes sense lol


He flicked a switch on the wall, illuminating the scene: six against one, a body between them, blood seeping through the cracks of the hardwood floor.

See, that's what I'm talking about. That was a very impressive visual


Two years later, Gabriel Pahria could be barely recognized as his former self. The figure standing in the center of the weathered lighthouse was still lean, but his shoulder were broader, his stature straight, composed. His hair had changed from thick chestnut to reedy, damaged crimson. His eyes, though still a piercing blue, were hard, unyielding. His back, visible upon removal of his fitted gray jacket, was covered with scarlet flames, black smoke billowing to either shoulder blade and a magnificent golden phoenix erupting from the center, climbing his spine to the base of his neck.

You're no rookie, I know, but always remember to show, not tell. Usually this kind of physical description dropping irks me, but you did it rather well. I was able to form a solid picture and now it is firmly planted in my mind, so good job. I'm sure you know though that you can introduce these kind of physical characteristics gradually over time, and allow the reader to make their own suppositions. Personally, I like it sometimes when I form an image of a person, just to have the author make my mind form a new one. The quoted portion above worked great this time, just keep that in mind, ya' know


“Crobat, stop that Magby.” The vampire bat, intent on drawing blood from its current victim, released Machop and sped toward the humanoid, glowing red creature behind Alec. A click and release of a loud, screeching whistle

The quoted portion above illustrates another instance where I think you should separate the dialogue and the action of a different character with a space. For some reason it just reads slightly weird. Example:


“Crobat, stop that Magby," she shouted.

The vampire bat, intent on drawing blood from its current victim, released Machop and sped toward the humanoid, glowing red creature behind Alec. A click and release of a loud, screeching whistle

See, at least to me that reads easier and makes sure everyone knows exactly who is speaking and who they're speaking to


The grass snake produced a flurry of glowing jade leaves from the beige collar around its neck and whipped up a strong wind, sucking them into a cyclone that towered above the action.

Once again, my hat is off to you for that lovely description. I doubt I could have made that sound any better. Good work


Nearly all fighting ceased, foe and friend alike awed by the beautiful wide wings of Lugia spread above them.

LMAO, I bet the fighting stopped. I'm thinking that maybe I'm needing some backstory here, but if he has a Lugia then holy ****. If this is the Will I'm thinking of, I don't remember having a Lugia. Obviously that means nothing if it's the same Will, you can write whatever you want, and either way I'm intrigued. But is there perhaps any backstory you could layout for how he obtained one?


her gun floating uselessly twenty feet away from her.

Gun floating? Is it plastic? As a gun enthusiast that seems kinda odd to to me. Care to elaborate?

Anyway, that was a very well written and fun chapter for me. For the most part the descriptions were spot on, the length was perfect, and I continue to be entranced by your colorful wordplay. I'm waiting for the next chapter with bells on, so PM me when it's up because I'm eager for more

Bulba the Great!
18th January 2013, 8:07 PM
Hwaa? A new chapter?? I thought Bulbs had abandoned this story forever!

Never fear, I haven't. I was very busy this past semester - writing a show with a group of friends and workshopping it. But the time has come to post a new chapter in the continuing world of Earth, Air, Water, Fire! Please read and review - I am quite anxious to hear your thoughts!

Chapter Four

Will, Champion of the Johto Region, leapt from the long neck of his trusted companion. Lugia roared, flaring its wings and staring longingly at the shrinking figure in the dark sky. Gabriel had chosen to retreat, giving the cowardly order to his teammates before turning in mid-battle and fleeing. The remnants of Team Skye were now left leaderless and confused, and the dark figures were running in every direction.

“Preston! Preston!” For lack of the presence of the city’s current appointed Gym Leader, Will was determined to find the next best thing - the retired one. He had caught a brief glimpse of the man’s graying hair and tired face before clashing with Gabriel, but it had since been swallowed up in the confusion. A small gray-clad figure crashed into Will, running frantically in an escape attempt. Will caught the arm of the Team Skye member, looking into her face. She must have been a child - no more than sixteen. He hesitated, then softened at her terrified face and let go. She stared for a moment in awe, breathing heavily, then turned, escaping the scene of the crime. She ran with a limp. Will sighed, returning to his search. The streets of Olivine were a wreck, with great chunks of pavement cracked or scorched, the nearest streetlight bent in half.

“We’ll have to start the rebuild tomorrow. We just poured half our funds into rebuilding Ecruteak, and now this.” Will turned. Tall, well-built but graying, and eternally exhausted, J.T. Preston stood a few yards away from his old friend. Will grinned, running to greet the man. They embraced briefly, gripping each other’s arms in solemn air. They took in the desolation and, after a moment, began laughing - not out of mirth, but at the absurdity of their meeting grounds.

“I’m glad to see this city still has somebody to help in a time of crisis,” Will muttered, “It helps these days. Team Skye isn’t the only group poisoning Johto right now.” Preston nodded, glancing about the ruined streets before replying.

“Gabriel gets more lethal by the day, though, Will. He’s after something new. I’m not entirely sure what. But I think it has to do with Ho-oh.” Will sighed.

“When does it not? He needs to be headed off, and soon. Where was Jasmine in all of this?” Preston shook his head.

“Nobody knows. I suspect she was captured though. Where she’s being held is anybody’s guess.” A stray Golbat zoomed by, possibly newly abandoned by its master - there were no Team Skye members in the near vicinity, only Olivine citizens, numbly picking at the ruins of Main Street. Will ran his fingers through his long violet hair, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses before screwing up his eyes and peering at the long sprawl of the seaside city.

“She could be anywhere. I suppose the gym wouldn’t be a bad place to start the search, though. And we really should find her. Arceus knows we don’t need a lost Gym Leader to add to the list.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” The two surveyed the damage one last time before Will turned to his partner, running his fingers over its long neck. He returned Lugia to its ball, quickly strutting back to Preston.

“Shall we?” The two set off in the direction of the gym. “Oh, and Preston. The Manaphy! Where on earth did that come from?” Preston grinned.

“That’s a story for another time.”

…................................................. ........................................

Alec was floating in a salty mass of water. The boy blinked his sea-green eyes in confusion, quite certain he had not been seabound a second ago. Everything before this moment was a blur, so instead he turned his focus to what he did know. He began treading water and spun once, surveilling the surrounding area. He saw his family’s cabin, once built by his great-grandfather and now owned under his father’s name, in the distance. He opened his mouth.

“Grandma? Mom?” His voice echoed across the lake, dying in the silence. This was bizarre. He turned once more before beginning to kick himself back to shore, moving his newly developed arms in the stroke his grandmother had taught him, the freestyle. He felt the current grab him and before he knew it he was being smashed into the sandbar that led from his sea cottage. Submerged and uncomfortable, Alec’s mind raced wildly. What on earth is going on? Everything was unfamiliar. He heard a calling in the distance.

“Alec? Alec!?” The voice was unfamiliar to him. It was male, but it couldn’t be his father...his father had been missing for two years...

“Grandpa? Is that you...?” He was aware of somebody shaking his shoulders, but there had been nobody, not a single figure on the horizon...Alec slid out of consciousness again.

The fifteen-year-old’s body was laid carefully on a stretcher by Preston, who directed a team of Chansey to move the boy to the ambulance waiting outside. The gym had been discovered locked from the outside and, in a bizarre twist, the sole building in the city with power. Once the outer layer had been breached, the arena had also been locked with no guards - although it was true that all of Team Skye seemed to have disappeared within a moment. Once the doors had been broken open, the rescue party was met with an alarming surprise - a cascade of water that spilled through the entire beautiful waiting area and out into the charred streets of Olivine, taking the rescue party with it. Two bodies had washed out, one male, one female, both unconscious. Paramedics were on hand almost immediately, and the woman was revived rather quickly.

“Gabriel?” she had asked while staring blurrily at Will. In her waterlogged mind, his long hair and sharp features were very similar to her superior’s. She blinked several times, and then the reality of the situation hit her. She reached up, touching her face gingerly, feeling the luminous burns and beginning to heave. Preston led the Chansey to examine the boy’s lifeless body, leaving Will to deal with the retching female.

“This boy looks familiar. I think he may have had a cottage by mine once, a few years back. He’s certainly got the features to be Pippa Gideon’s child. He used to play with my Teddiursa.” The girl coughed, sweating slightly, trembling, staring at the boy’s body.

“His name’s Alec.” But that’s all she would give. No further details about the situation, why two people had chosen to take a swim in the Olivine City Gym. The two were carted to the emergency room of the Pokémon Center, leaving Will and Preston with still more questions and very few answers.

Natalia stared at the inside of the ambulance that was carrying her and felt her eyes well up, but did not know why she was crying. She had cheated death, and for that she was grateful, but she couldn’t help the nagging feeling that she had betrayed Gabriel twofold: One, for not capturing the boy or his possession, and two, for allowing herself to question whether she was right in following the man to begin with.

.................................................. .......................................

Alec blinked once, twice; he was looking up into the concerned face of Olivine’s only specialist in human injury, Evan Sonclair, his spectacles perched on the very edge of his thin nose. The young man tried lifting his head, but found it made the room spin.

“I wouldn’t try that lad; not yet.” The elderly gentleman stood, giving Alec some breathing space and crossing the room to the two men lurking in the corner; one with a shock of long, violet hair and the other taller, with hair grayed at the temples. With his limited supply of energy, he turned to look beside him; the bed that would normally have been blocked by a curtain in the two-person hospital room was in plain view, and he gasped at the sight of the woman. The last face he had seen before passing out had been that of his attacker, attractive but damaged, and now it was lying about two yards away from him, apparently unconscious. Alec tried forming words but found his brain inhibited immediate voluntary reaction from his clenched jaw.

“I know you probably have a lot of questions right now, Alec, but you’re in a very fragile state. We’ll try to clear things up for you as much as we can. Of course, many things only you know the answer to, but we can fill you in.” The purple-haired man was speaking, walking slowly to his side and kneeling beside the bed. He smiled at Alec’s inquisitive eyes, a warm smile that made the young man feel slightly appeased. “Hello. Mr. Gideon, isn’t it?” Alec nodded slightly, all he could muster.

“Maybe now isn’t the best time, Will...”

“He’ll need answers eventually, Preston. We really can’t waste time, either. We need to figure out what Gabriel’s after, and we need to hide this boy from harm.” He turned back to the figure next to him. “We found you passed out in the Olivine Gym, Alec. Apparently drowned...your lungs were filled with water. Dr. Sonclair reversed the effects well enough, but he said there may be some memory loss. Do you remember what happened to you?” Alec paused, his brow furrowed. He nodded, looking at the bed next to his.

“That’s a good sign, sir.”

“It certainly is. Alec, I apologize for whatever jeopardy you were put in whilst in that room with this Team Skye member. She was discovered in possession of a gun. It seems you were actually quite lucky, in one sense at least.” He smiled meaningfully at the youth. “Do you know much about the organization of Team Skye, Alec?” Alec shook his head, but seemed eager to listen. This man called him by his first name, which he quite liked, treating him like an equal. “The team itself has existed in the Kanto Region for ages, at least three generations. It was founded by a woman named Ilana Pond, and has changed hands several times. It temporarily went under about three years ago, when its leader Skylar was charged for murder and imprisoned. But apparently the team itself remained at large; attacks began about six months later, organized by a man named Gabriel.” Alec felt a stir at his side; the woman had shifted, a shadow spread across her face. He suspected she was not as asleep as she appeared.

“This really is a lot for him to have to process, Will, he’s still recovering...”

“He needs to know, Preston! The most dangerous thing to do in this world is travel without knowledge. Gabriel is a young and aggressive man, Alec. I wouldn’t put it past him to organize an attack on Olivine at the scale of last night’s debacle.” This was news to Alec, that there had been conflict outside the walls of the gym. “For a long time he’s been leading organized attacks focused, it seems, on the manic desire he has to control the legendary bird, Ho-oh. Team Skye, if you haven’t figured out from their namesake, has always been intent to control the skies. It seems their sights have finally raised the highest they can possibly reach - towards the sun. For Ho-oh is known through the continent as our lord and savior. To try and control this particular creature is an insanity beyond one we would have credited even Gabriel with.” Alec’s eyebrows knotted in confusion. He opened his mouth and spoke before Dr. Sonclair could silence him.

“Why does he need Ho-oh so badly? And it can’t be impossible to capture...don’t you have a Lugia?” Will smiled, but placed a hand on Alec’s right arm, silencing him.

“We don’t know his motives beyond the simple explanation that it’s the most powerful deity known in the Johto region. And while it’s true I have partnered with Lugia, I would never proclaim to be its master, and certainly it helps our bond that I am a psychic, a power I am certain eludes Gabriel. Now, Alec. Just nod, yes or no. In the gym area, did Natalia try to get something from you? Information, or an item?” Alec nodded. Will shot a concerned glance to Preston. The man stepped to Will’s side, looking down at Alec with a pained expression.

“The attack on the city was no doubt a diversion to lure you into her trap. It seems Team Skye has been watching you for some time.”

“Rainbow wing.” Both men stopped short at Alec’s uttered words.

“I beg your pardon?” Alec sat up, much to the displeasure of Dr. Sonclair, and stared with urgency into Will’s eyes.

“They were after my bag. I know why...I own a Rainbow Wing.”

.................................................. .......................................

Chase and Logan sat in the lobby of the Pokémon Center, completely healed and refreshed from the scars of the previous night’s battle. They had been instructed by Will to wait, as he wanted to properly check in with them before leaving his rounds. Servine was curled up on the bench next to Chase, eyes closed, apparently resting. Logan bit her lip, absent-mindedly petting Houndoom’s small, horned head and staring at the poster across the room from them. Angry dark shades of crimson and gold flashed the logo for the Pokémon World Championship, which certainly would have interested Chase on any other occasion. He, however, seemed checked out, despondent. His eyes were shut, his head resting on the whitewashed wall.

“After Will’s talked to us, I need a sleep. A proper sleep.” That seemed a reasonable request to her, although why he was so tired when he’d spent a good two thirds of the cruised sleeping was beyond her. He sighed, his eyes opening and looking directly ahead, not at Logan.

“Chase...can you please tell me what’s wrong?” Chase didn’t respond immediately, carefully choosing his words.

“Maybe we need to stop travelling together, Logan.” She did not respond immediately, but felt tears move behind her blue eyes, which she knew he wouldn’t appreciate. Her chest moved in slow, controlled breath three times before a response came out.

“How could you possibly say that? Look, I know, I’m sorry I’ve been a wreck lately. But...after everything we’ve been through...Tracey wouldn’t have -”

“Yeah, well that’s the problem.” Chase looked at her for the first time that morning. He had a hardness in his eyes, one that unfortunately often occupied the once-genial face these days. “With us, it’s always about him. For good reason, he brought us together. He’s the reason we met. But...he’s gone, Logan. And I’ve accepted it, and I don’t know that you have. I need to move on in my life, I need...” He slowed, closing his eyes again. “I need a break.”

“Chase...”

“I was at the top of my game before I met your guys. Traveling with you was incredible, life-changing. We’ve been through so much, we’ve been through a war, love, loss, all that. But we’re past that now. And when I travel with you, it’s like these...ghosts just prevent me from doing anything worthwhile. Nothing earth-shattering.”

“But Chase, we have to keep together, Tracey said so, you’re -”

“I know, I know, I’m destined to...” Their argument was interrupted by the sliding door of the hospital wing. Will and Preston emerged, both faces set.

“Can you two come with us, please?” Will reached a hand out. Chase and Logan, stunned, stood without saying another word, following his lead. The tension between them was palpable, but it would have to wait. Houndoom and Servine followed nervously.

.................................................. .......................................

“But I’m still confused...why is he after you?” Chase was running his fingers through his soft white hair, staring at Alec in disbelief.

“That’s not the issue right now, Chase. Above everything else, Alec needs protection. I can’t travel with him myself, I have far too many duties to tend to in this region.”

“But why not just like...keep him here? Or I dunno, put him in disguise or something?” Will shook his head.

“We’re not going to hold this boy prisoner. He must be allowed to travel the region just as freely as any unconcerned trainer who has the fresh promise of adventure in his heart. I simply want to make sure he is protected from any further attack. Preston has agreed to travel with him -”

“I’m telling you, I’m fine on my own, sir, I don’t need anyone to travel with me!” Alec was sitting in his hospital bed, fully dressed and alert.

“While that is admirable, it’s foolish to think that, Alec. Gabriel is capable of many awful things you couldn’t possibly imagine. I understand that you prefer the solitary life, but you need a guard. Which is why I called you two.” Will looked at Chase and Logan.

“Why them? They don’t know crap about my life! What are their qualifications?” Will smiled gently.

“Chase and Logan were integral to the victory we won against NeoEarth last year. You owe them your life, Alec. If there are three people I would put my faith in above everything else, it’s the three that stand here before you.” Alec looked unimpressed at the figures in the dimly lit room. Preston, tall, with the build of a once impressive man, now slightly gone to seed, his face slightly hollowed and his hair graying. Chase, lean, not much older than himself. Logan, who was admittedly very pretty, did not seem capable of any extraordinary skill. Truth be told, Alec would have trusted anyone but the three people Will had selected.

“Will, he doesn’t seem to want to travel with us. And really, I came here for intense training. I don’t want to be slowed down by some kid -”

“How much older than me are you, three years? Don’t act all grown up.” Alec despised very few things more than being talked down to. Before Chase could respond, Will spoke again.

“You don’t think you need protection, Alec? Very well. Go on, leave. Maybe you can catch up with that Team Skye woman.” He pointed to the empty bed next to Alec. Natalia had disappeared in the three minutes Will and Preston spent outside his room, without a trace. Alec paused nervously, looking Will hard in the eye before nodding.

“I get it.” Chase looked angry.

“Will...” Will had moved to whisper some instructions to Preston and silenced Chase with a graceful hand. Logan caught his eye, shaking her head slightly.

“I think it’s best to listen to Will on this, Chase. We owe him just as much as the rest of the world.” Chase merely grunted, looking at Alec without pleasure. Alec seemed no happier with him. Will stepped back, allowed the new group to size each other up.

“I have some investigations to conduct, friends. I’ll leave you here. Preston, look after them, please.” He shook hands with Preston, and nodded at the children. “Best of luck. Alec...keep it safe.” He turned, walking out of the room. Questions began pouring out of the three youth’s mouths instantly.

“Where’s he going?”

“Where’re WE going?”

“What’s happening?” Preston spoke over them all. Chase and Logan, who had never heard him speak, were surprised at the authority in his quiet, soft voice.

“Let’s discuss this over lunch, shall we?”

.................................................. .......................................

Natalia ran a clean twelve miles outside the radius of Goldenrod before pausing, her chest heaving. Escape had been near impossible, what with the security systems back up and running, but slipping out of tight places was a specialty of hers. She gasped the clean air and fell to the ground, her body spent. She ran a hand over her hot face, wiping sweat and pausing as she felt the scars. She grunted and felt her waist for any salvaged equipment from the flood. Nothing - it seemed the hospital staff had stripped her of everything, including, she realized with a heavy heart, her Pokémon. She glanced back toward the walled city. She would have to return.

“Gabriel...why did you abandon me?” She heaved, suddenly feeling the full weight of the previous night’s events. While her brain was screaming at her to rest, she couldn’t allow herself to - she needed to make contact with her leader as soon as possible. She touched her scarred face again, feeling the burns, raw as the day she had gotten them. She climbed to her feet, taking one, two steps uncertainly before beginning a steady jog back to the place she had just tried so desperately to escape from.

Soaring through the sky two miles above, clutching his Mandibuzz’s scrawny back, Gabriel Pahria stared down at his faithful servant and grinned. She was exactly where he wanted her.

Sid87
19th January 2013, 1:55 PM
FIRST OF ALL, I had previously missed your lamenting on this back in the fall and the back-and-forth you and Sidewinder had. I apologize for not seeing it and sharing my thoughts with you, but Sidewinder did an absolute knock-out job with his opinions on the matter. And absolute commendations to you because I have seen people on here have basically the opposite reaction that you did and just be immature and aggressive about it.

Also... whew, it's been a LOOOONG time since an update here, and I don't quite have the time RIGHT NOW to catch up on the past, so I may ask a lot of questions I should already have an answer to. I hope I don't come across as stupid or forgetful.


Lugia roared, flaring its wings and staring longingly at the retreating figure in the dark sky. Gabriel had chosen to retreat, giving the cowardly order to his teammates before turning in mid-battle and fleeing.

There's a slight overuse of "retreat" there. Try to find a different choice if the same thing is going to be used in such quick succession.


A small gray-clad figure crashed into Will, running frantically in an escape attempt. Will caught the arm of the Team Skye member, looking into her face. She must have been a child - no more than sixteen. He hesitated, then softened at her terrified face and let go. She stared for a moment in awe, breathing heavily, then turned, bolting. She ran with a limp.

I like this moment. I wish you would have described the girl a tad more, even though it was just a brief encounter. It's sad to think of such young people getting caught up in such an organization, but that really is how the world works all over. Good insight.


“We’ll have to start the rebuild tomorrow. We just poured half our funds into rebuilding Ecruteak, and now this.” Will turned. Tall, well-built but graying, and eternally exhausted, J.T. Preston stood a few yards away from his old friend. Will grinned, running to greet the man. They embraced briefly, gripping each other’s arms and laughing at the absurdity of their meeting grounds.

I don't love the laughing here. Think about it... if real-life terrorists just attacked the town you live in, and you saw an old friend, would you laugh and basically think "Oh man, remember how we used to play together?". No, you'd probably both be thankful the other is safe and asking if the other's family is okay/hurt. And, if you are people in positions such as these two, you'd immediately go about helping the injured and scared around you.


Alec was floating in a salty mass of water. The boy blinked his sea-green eyes in confusion, quite certain he had not been a second ago.

Did you miss a word there? He hadn't been WHAT a second ago?


The fifteen-year-old’s body was laid carefully on a stretcher by Preston, who directed a team of Chansey to move the boy to the ambulance waiting outside. The gym had been discovered locked from the outside and inexplicably with power.

The little near-death dream sequence was nice. It was a touch of backstory that built up some mystery, and it wasn't too saccharine or stereotypical. Good job. I don't like that last line there, though. I get that it means the gym still inexplicably had power, but it reads really awkwardly. "The gym had been discovered locked from the inside, and--somehow--it still had its power running" might be smoother.


“Gabriel?” she had asked while staring blurrily at Will. In her waterlogged mind, his long hair and sharp features were very similar to her superior’s. She blinked once, twice, and then the reality of the situation hit her. She reached up, touching her face gingerly, feeling the luminous burns and beginning to heave. Preston led the Chansey to examine the boy’s lifeless body, leaving Will to deal with the retching female.

I might have misunderstood how large the gym arena was, but assuming I did not... a room THAT full of water crashing out when the doors were opened would have swept up, injured, and possibly drowned whoever was on the other side. Don't forget nice realistic details like that.

I like the scene with Natalia waking up. Very nice and well-detailed. But I don't like the "luminous" burns. That makes it sound like they're glowing. Heh.


“It certainly is. Alec, I apologize for whatever jeopardy you were put in whilst in that room with this Team Skye member. She was discovered in possession of a gun. It seems you were actually quite lucky, in one sense at least.” He smiled meaningfully at the youth. “Do you know much about the organization of Team Skye, Alec?” Alec shook his head, but seemed eager to listen. This man called him by his first name, which he quite liked, treating him like an equal. “The team itself has existed in the Kanto Region for ages, at least three generations. It was founded by a woman named Ilana Pond, and has changed hands several times. It temporarily went under about three years ago, when its leader Skylar was charged for murder and imprisoned. But apparently the team itself remained at large; attacks began about six months later, organized by a man named Gabriel.” Alec felt a stir at his side; the woman had shifted, a shadow spread across her face. He suspected she was not as asleep as she appeared.

“This really is a lot for him to have to process, Will, he’s still recovering...”

“He needs to know, Preston! Gabriel is a young and aggressive man, Alec. I wouldn’t put it past him to organize an attack on Olivine at the scale of last night’s debacle.” This was news to Alec, that there had been conflict outside the walls of the gym. “For a long time he’s been leading organized attacks focused, it seems, on the manic desire he has to control the legendary bird, Ho-oh. Team Skye, if you haven’t figured out from their namesake, has always been intent to control the skies. It seems their sights have finally raised the highest they can possibly reach - towards the sun. For Ho-oh is known through the continent as our lord and savior. To try and control this particular creature is an insanity beyond one we would have credited even Gabriel with.” Alec’s eyebrows knotted in confusion. He opened his mouth and spoke before Dr. Sonclair could silence him.

That really is a LOT of exposition just spoon-fed to the reader, but I don't see WHY Alec "needs" to know this. How is it relevant to him? He was attacked, yes, but other than explaining this backstory to the readers, I don't get why Will would go into this. We're told Alec NEEDS to know, but not given any reason why.


“We’re not going to hold this boy prisoner. He must be allowed to travel the region just as freely as any unconcerned trainer who has the fresh promise of adventure in his heart. I simply want to make sure he is protected from any further attack. Preston has agreed to travel with him -”

That... is really as good of a reason to stick all these characters together as any. I actually kind of like this setup. How do Chase and Logan know Will, though? He has to know they are safe and extremely competent, otherwise, he's really just endangering THEIR lives by sticking Alec with them. I'm just curious as to how they know each other.

Also, since I missed it earlier... Will is a psychic? How is that? Is that a thing in your story? Are there other people with powers?


“Chase and Logan were integral to the victory we won against NeoEarth last year. You owe them your life, Alec. If there are three people I would put my faith in above everything else, it’s the three that stand here before you.” Alec looked unimpressed at the figures in the dimly lit room. Preston, tall, with the build of a once impressive man, now slightly gone to seed, his face slightly hollowed and his hair graying. Chase, lean, not much older than himself. Logan, who was admittedly very pretty, did not seem capable of any extraordinary skill. Truth be told, Alec would have trusted anyone but the three people Will had selected.

Oh, there's my answer.


-All in all, not bad. Just don't forget to think about what REAL reactions to things would be (Will and Preston running into each other, the water from the gym, etc) because without it, sometimes things come across as a bit cartoon-ish.

I actually do like how all the characters got together after being dispersed for so long. Chase right now seems like the stereotypical "I am too cool for this stuff" likable jerk, but I did enjoy his interactions with Logan previously, so I look forward to their dynamic going forward.

Shadow Lucario
19th January 2013, 5:03 PM
It's great to see that you did not give up on this. I love it when a writer will dedicate themselves to their story and continue no matter what. Just get to writing whenever you can. School can be tough on both the body and the brain. Even if you only have ten minutes I think that's perfectly fine. You've already shown dedication to this.


Will, Champion of the Johto Region, leapt from the long neck of his trusted companion. Lugia roared, flaring its wings and staring longingly at the retreating figure in the dark sky. Gabriel had chosen to retreat, giving the cowardly order to his teammates before turning in mid-battle and fleeing. The remnants of Team Skye were now left leaderless and confused, and the dark figures were running in every direction.

I love this opening. I think it has to do with how well it was worded.


She stared for a moment in awe, breathing heavily, then turned, bolting.

I don't know why, but this word just sounds awkward here. Usually when I think of bolting I think of a jolt, a quick, sudden movement. I don't know. It might be because I haven't gotten much sleep lately.


And we really should find her. God knows we don’t need a lost Gym Leader to add to the list.

I think you mean Arceus. Gawd! If you couldn't tell, I was joking.


“We found you passed out in the Olivine Gym, Alex. Apparently drowned...

You missed the key you wanted.

Overall an excellent return. More questions, but few answers. It's a good way to go about it in the beginning. Like I said, I liked seeing your dedication to this story. Let's hope it'll stay and we'll get more. Near death, questioning, and the start of an adventure (kind of); a great setup chapter. Keep it up. Until next time.

Bulba the Great!
29th January 2013, 2:45 AM
Wow, thank you guys so much for pointing out such glaring errors - the sleep deprivation was clear in my lack of edits in this one.

To Sid87 -


I don't love the laughing here. Think about it... if real-life terrorists just attacked the town you live in, and you saw an old friend, would you laugh and basically think "Oh man, remember how we used to play together?". No, you'd probably both be thankful the other is safe and asking if the other's family is okay/hurt. And, if you are people in positions such as these two, you'd immediately go about helping the injured and scared around you.


I kept this moment, although I expanded upon it. I was recently in a play where two characters were fighting with their child, before ultimately slapping her. She ran off, and there was stunned silence, and then inexplicably both began laughing. It's a really weird human response, but sometimes it happens - when bizarre situations occur, sometimes there's nothing for it but to laugh. When I saw West Side Story on Broadway, there was more than one nervous laugh after Tony was shot.


Did you miss a word there? He hadn't been WHAT a second ago?

Wow, ultimate brain fart. Thank you ahaha.


I like the scene with Natalia waking up. Very nice and well-detailed. But I don't like the "luminous" burns. That makes it sound like they're glowing. Heh.

There's a reason they glow...that will be addressed shortly :)


That... is really as good of a reason to stick all these characters together as any. I actually kind of like this setup. How do Chase and Logan know Will, though? He has to know they are safe and extremely competent, otherwise, he's really just endangering THEIR lives by sticking Alec with them. I'm just curious as to how they know each other.

Also, since I missed it earlier... Will is a psychic? How is that? Is that a thing in your story? Are there other people with powers?

The explanation for both of these questions can be found in my previous fanfics - but basically, in a nutshell, in Destined, Chase challenged Will to a Pokemon battle - thus both winning his respect, as well as discovering he had a psychic connection with his Pokemon, which gave him a huge advantage in battle.


Chase right now seems like the stereotypical "I am too cool for this stuff" likable jerk, but I did enjoy his interactions with Logan previously, so I look forward to their dynamic going forward.

Chase has been going through quite a lot of turmoil - which will come to the surface more next chapter. He's basically covering his true intentions - he's not as much of a jerk as he seems.

Now for Shadow Lucario -


I think you mean Arceus. Gawd! If you couldn't tell, I was joking.

Actually, that was a very good catch - in my universe, the 'God' is Arceus, and I've used the term 'Arceus knows' before. Consistency is key!


You missed the key you wanted.

Oops!

Thank you for the positive response after such a long hiatus! I would like to know - at this point, which characters intrigue you most? Which seem too "Gary-Stu"-ish? The last thing I want is generic characters.

You guys are the best.

Bulba the Great!
3rd June 2013, 10:37 PM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Five

“She seems useless,” Alec observed bluntly, gazing at Logan’s stony face as she scooped olives onto her plate at the salad bar. The new team of travelers Will had put together was out for lunch at Olivine’s hottest restaurant, The Swanna Station. Preston had found a table near the ruined Main Street, and was currently using the facilities, leaving Alec and Chase to put in their first real effort at getting to know each other.

“You haven’t seen her smile.” Chase still looked distinctly unhappy with the circumstances Will had placed them in. Alec, although also displeased with these new conditions, was at least attempting to make sense of his new companions.

“So, what, do you two have a history together, or...?” Chase turned his head sharply and stared at Alec, sizing him up.

“Yes. Kind of. Well, yes. It’s a long story.” Alec took a bite of his steak.

“I’m all ears. You’ll have to tell it quick, though,” he added, as Logan picked up her plate and headed toward their table.

“Now’s not the time,” Chase muttered, leaning back and taking an overlarge gulp of soda. The two watched Logan’s return in silence, uncomfortable tension abound. Chase stood and pulled a chair for Logan, who flashed the faintest shadow of a smile at him.

“Thanks,” she said, sitting and placing her plate neatly in front of her. Chase returned to his seat.

“You can cut this silence with a knife,” chuckled a voice. Preston had returned from the bathroom. The man sat at the head of the table, folding his hands together and looking at the young adults in front of him.

“We want some answers,” Chase said, the other two nodding in agreement.

“I’ll tell you as much as I know.”

“For a start, who are you?” Alec leaned forward, most curious about the older man, who looked harmless but was certainly the biggest cipher in the group.

“I guarantee you my answer would do nothing but bore you. Joseph Thomas Preston, former gym leader of the Olivine Gym. Now in retirement.” He said nothing more, and after a moment Logan spoke up.

“Don’t you have a family, sir?” Preston’s eyes flickered to her, then around the room twice, returning to the girl only after a prolonged stare at the lighthouse through the window.

“No.” He drummed his fingers on the table, took a breath, and changed the subject. “Look, my story isn’t important right now. What is important, kid, is what’s in your bag.”

“What, the Rainbow Wi...?”

“Shh!” Preston snapped his head around to the tables to their direct right and left, and back to the children. “Do not name the item right now. But tell me,” the man leaned in, prompting the others to do the same, “How did you come to possess it?” Alec’s face darkened.

“It...it belonged to my father. See, my family has a long history in Ecruteak City. My granddad oversaw construction on the towers and shrines for Ho-Oh. I dunno when exactly the...you know...came to him, but it was eventually passed on to my father. And, well, I have it now.” Alec was not comfortable going into specifics with these strangers. He couldn’t tell them how his father was ashamed of him, how he had stolen the Wing from him before running away.

“Why does Team Skye want it so badly?” Chase asked. Preston sighed.

“This is guesswork, Chase. Will and I believe Gabriel, their leader, has a personal need to connect with Ho-Oh, beyond the need of the team. He has been ruthless in his search for the deity, and owning an item that would allow such a connection to it...well, it would certainly give him power unheard of.” Alec gripped his bag, which was lying at his feet.

“I knew it was special, but...I didn’t think it would like, threaten my life.” He stared down at his feet.

“Well that’s why we’re here, Alec. We’re going to protect you from him.” Chase grunted. “It’s very important that we do,” Preston said, locking his eyes onto the white-haired trainer and frowning.

“I just don’t know why someone else can’t take it and like, lock it up or something.” He looked at Alec, who raised his eyebrows.

“I’m not giving this to anybody.” Preston seemed to have expected this answer.

“Alec said as much to Will earlier. It’s not our place to take a family heirloom from Alec, and honestly, Chase, I’m disappointed in your response to this situation.” Chase looked bewildered.

“What?”

“Will recommended you and Logan with the highest of praise. And he mentioned your had an excellent sense of humor. Which I have yet to see.” Chase slumped back.

“Yeah, well, people change.” Logan looked away. “People change a lot more than you know.”

“You might want to work on your public image a bit, Chase. People expect you to act more like a hero.”

“Wait a second. Will said something about you two helping him save the world or something,” Alec said slowly. “I don’t see how that’s possible.”

“Why not?” Chase snapped.

“You just don’t seem...like heroes. You look pretty lame.” Chase kicked the empty chair next to him in a flare of anger. Composing himself, he folded his arms.

“Well, thanks. We do pretty well for ourselves, it might surprise you to know.”

“These two were integral to saving us all, Alec.”

“We had help.” Logan had not spoken for some time and her voice made the three men start. She had a steely look in her eyes. Chase shook his head very slightly, looking her deep in the eyes.

“These two, Alec, were essential to the peace restored to this land during the battle with NeoEarth three years ago. You do remember that, don’t you?”

“I’m not a five-year-old, I remember. But didn’t that happen over in Kanto? I just heard the broad outline, I never really heard names, or...” Despite his best efforts, Alec had become quite engaged in the conversation, and tried to cover this interest with apathy. “It all seemed kinda dumb, anyway.”

“Tell that to the entire armies of people out to destroy everything in their way,” Chase retorted. Preston held his hand up.

“It was not ‘dumb’, Alec. Three years ago, Karen, now-deceased member of the Elite Four, opened a portal that had been closed a long time in our world. A portal, between our world and a world that never should have existed. A world where humans lived without knowledge of Pokémon. And with assistance from a gang of loyal followers, Karen led an invasion of this world. An invasion that was soon responded to.” Alec’s eyebrows knotted together.

“This other world, Alex, NeoEarth, was made up of people who had no Pokémon to assist in their daily struggles. So they invented technology to aid in the areas we use Pokémon for. Meaning their response to violence...is very different than ours. They had weapons beyond imagination, weapons none of us were prepared for. They poured into our land and began to defend themselves. Many people died, Alec. Kanto became a mushroom cloud of violence and despair. There seemed to be no hope for a victory on our side. Then...” Preston’s voice caught.

“I offered what I could to assist in the battle. The gym leaders and Elite Four members were beacons of hope to the people, you understand. But one man arose to lead us all...Will. But even he couldn’t hold the tide long. Not without assistance. That’s where Chase and Logan came in.” Chase and Logan both shifted, looking anywhere but at Preston. He plowed on, nodding toward the two.

“Without their help, Alec, Kanto would not exist as it does today. Neither would Johto or any other regions. This world would be barren and inhabited only by humans.” Alec gaped. “These two helped save Pokémon from extinction.”

…................................................. ....................................

The Pokémon was configured most bizarrely; the ten-year-old girl standing in front of it had never seen another creature like it. It was tall, taller than her, with mottled brown feathers that clutched to its round, small body in the semblance of a puff ball. Its long tan legs ended in large, awkward feet which were only out-weirded by the identical stalks rising in the opposite direction from its body - two long necks, each capped with an intelligent head. She reached out to touch, to confirm the reality of two brains, two beaks, four eyes. It snapped at her, more playful than anything. She shrieked nonetheless.

“It’s okay, Nat-ta-ta. It’s not going to hurt you.” The girl’s father was standing a safe four yards behind her, not trying to interfere with her first wild encounter but ensuring she was on the right track. “Now you remember what Professor Elm told you. You don’t have to try capturing it, but at least try battling it, eh?” The ruby-haired girl played nervously with her big glasses and produced her very first Poké Ball.

“So I just send him out?” Her father nodded kindly. She felt the orb grow warm in her palm, which frightened her - so much that she dropped it, pulling back a pace or two. She began breathing heavily, staring wide-eyed at the Doduo’s two faces. It crowed, one head cocked in query at her, the other spinning, searching for danger.

“Don’t be frightened, Talia. Be strong, like your nan. Think of nan, honey. C’mon, you can do this.” His soothing words were interrupted by a shadow overhead. The roar of an engine slowly faded into existence. The man’s kindly expression fell in fear, turning skyward. Doduo squawked and bent its legs, springing in one jump into the surrounding foliage.

“Daddy, what is it?” Natalia was petrified, unsure of everything. A dark shape emerged high above the clearing, followed by another.

“It’s Team Skye, Nat, we need to run for cover! The raids have started again!” He grabbed his daughter, sprinting for the shelter of their hotel. The little girl on his shoulder stared at the sky, seeing very clearly silhouetted against the clouds cruel, sleek black planes tearing through the sky. All was silent save for their engines and her own pounding heartbeat.

“Daddy, daddy, we have to go back! I left Chikorita!” Her father stopped for an instant; the planes were closing in.

“We have to leave him for now, Talia. We’ll go back!”

Fourteen years later, Natalia knelt in the shade of the last grove of trees before the open stretch to Olivine City, staring longingly at the Doduo running across the plain. She felt a rush of desire, desire for freedom, for her father, and most importantly, for the two Pokémon she had never seen since that day in the forest. She felt a rush of air behind her and stifled an exclamation; Gabriel had just come to a safe landing five yards from her. Mandibuzz folded its wings and stared greedily at Natalia with beady amber eyes.

“Sir.” She looked down, choosing subservience in this moment, although her stomach was churning and for the first time, she did not feel safe around her leader.

“Tell me. What did you assure me I could trust you to receive?”

“The Rainbow Wing, Gabriel.”

“You insisted that you could persuade it out of the boy, that doing so would be preferable to my forcing it from him.” Natalia’s eyes remained resiliently fixed on his weather-stained boots. “So, where is it?”

“The boy still has it. I failed my task.” Mandibuzz flapped its wings and cawed viciously, aggressively. The man looked for a moment as if he might murder; then, he paced for a good minute or two before approaching his servant. He placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Natalia. I need you to do this for me. Get that Wing from the boy. At whatever cost.”

“But how...?” He slapped her face on the side with the burns that still glowed after three years. She recoiled, feeling the sting of his gloved hand on her damaged cheek. Mandibuzz shrieked in aggression.

“Find a way.”

…................................................. ....................................

Preston looked from face to face, his story finished. Alec seemed to be so full of questions he was simply rendered speechless.

“I think...I’m going to get another plate.” Logan stood, indicating the salad bar.

“Stay here, Logan.” Alec was looking at her in an entirely new light. Neither she nor Chase seemed interested in speaking about their part in the fight against NeoEarth. Preston sensed this and came to their aid.

“Now, of course, the question becomes, where do we go from here?” Alec answered this immediately.

“I want to challenge the gym leader. No question.” The gray-haired man shook his head wearily.

“That isn’t an option, Alec. The gym is closed for repairs and Jasmine is still being treated from her time in captivity. We can return in a month or so, but for now, Olivine Gym is not an option. Besides, remaining in this city after recent events is highly unadvisable. Keeping a steady move on will keep Gabriel off our trail.”

“That’s ridiculous. I came here to challenge the gym!” Alec pounded the table, agitated.

“There’s nothing that can be done, Alec. Staying here is highly dangerous.” Chase cleared his throat.

“I came to this region to train. And I’ll protect you, man, but we need to compromise a bit. I want to head to Mt. Silver and do some head-on work with the Pokémon in there. You’re welcome to come along.” Preston examined his hands for a moment before responding to this request.

“As the senior member of the group, I would like to propose traveling to Mahogany Town.” Alec’s body tensed.

“Why...?”

“I want to learn more about the item we are protecting, Alec. There is a man who lives in Mahogany, Ben Locke, who is an absolute expert on the legends and lore of the great lord of the skies. It would benefit everyone to meet him and learn more about you-know-what.” Alec looked confused.

“Do we really need to worry so much about this? It’s literally just some old relic my family kept on the mantlepiece.” Preston looked grave.

“That’s what Gabriel hopes you think, Alec. He wants you to think this item isn’t worth protecting with your life.”

“Look, if you want our help, you follow our rules, and that means going to Mt. Silver.” Chase said, his voice firm and his shoulders squared. He looked to Logan for support.

“I think we should go to Mahogany Town, Chase.” Chase looked stunned and betrayed. Before he or Alec could speak, Preston cut in.

“Vote on it. All those in favor of Mahogany Town?” He and Logan raised their hands. Chase stood his ground.

“Mt. Silver.”

“Stay here!” Alec growled, standing up. Preston looked out the window.

“I would advise against that option, Alec.” The three turned to look where the older man’s eyes rested. There was a figure standing in the shadows of the broken storefront across the street. Alec could just make out ruby hair and the slim waist of the girl with the burned face from the gym. His face turned ashen. After a moment, he turned back to Preston.

“I vote Mahogany Town.”

…................................................. ....................................

“I’m heading out, I think,” Logan said, her long blonde hair swinging as she poked her head through the door. Chase, half naked and mid-shave, turned to look at her bemusedly.

“Where are you going? It’s not even eight yet! The Unova sun has yet to rise!” Logan smiled coyishly.

“Don’t you worry about it, sir. I’ll be back soon.” Chase caught her wrist before she slipped away.

“Aren’t you going to say goodbye?” He grinned, pulling her in for a kiss. She pulled her head away, laughing.

“You’ve got shaving cream all over, stupid. No kisses for you.” She pushed him away.

“I’m only shaving because you don’t like your men with beards, which is dumb.” Chase stroked the clean skin on his left side. “I think I grow a pretty good one.”

“Only you think that,” she teased.

“Can’t you just stay here a little longer?”

“Noo, I gotta go!” She was bouncing on the heels of her feet.

“At least have the decency to tell me where you’re in such a hurry to go!”

“If you must know, I’m visiting Tracey. I haven’t seen him in ages.” Chase’s face fixed.

“Ah, yes. Well.” Logan sensed the change in mood.

“Now don’t get like that. You’ve got training today, anyway. Aren’t you meeting with Bruno in like half an hour for some sparring rounds with Nidoking?” Chase nodded.

“For a little bit. But then he’s gotta meet with Erika. She’s still getting her bearings, you know, the promotion’s been tough on her. Not everyone can just step into the Elite Four. We’re gonna be done by, like, three.” Logan came closer to her boyfriend.

“Well then you can pop over to Tracey’s later. I think that’s what Vincent’s doing too. We can have a big party! Bring Snivy, I’m sure Bulby would be pleased to meet her!” She kissed him gently on his newly-shaven cheek. Chase forced a smile.

“Okay.” She turned happily, heading for the door. “Hey, Logan, how do I look?” He struck a pose, flexing his pecs, winking and wiggling his eyebrows in his best impression of a bodybuilder. Logan shook her head, amused.

“Ridiculous, Chase.” She blew a kiss and was gone. Chase’s face instantly turned stony. He turned, pacing from the bathroom to the bedroom, picking up his Poké Gear and placing a call. A familiar face appeared on the screen.

“Hello Chase! To what do I owe the honor?”

“She’s only getting worse. She just told me she’s heading to his place. She told me I should stop by later.” There was a silence on the other end.

“Is this her first time since we last spoke?” Chase shook his head.

“No. She’s been making a lot of calls to unlisted numbers recently. I checked her Poké Gear last night. I’m really worried.”

“Well I’ll arrange to have her intercepted before she gets there. I don’t think she should come home after this, though. I think I may need to take her for the time being.” Chase nodded.

“Thank you, sir.” The screen went blank, Professor Hume’s face gone. Chase ran his fingers through his hair, heading back into the bathroom to finish his shave. He didn’t know how to continue putting on a game face to Logan when the truth would need to be revealed eventually. That Tracey Morgan had been dead for three months seemed to have gone completely over her head.

Shadow Lucario
4th June 2013, 9:15 AM
Joseph Thomas Preston, former gym leader of the Olivine Gym. Now in retirement.”

I think that can be all one sentence. The pause doesn't feel right to me. There's nothing wrong with it. I'm just offering a suggestion.


“How did you come to possess it?”

Because of the commas before this point, how should be lowercase since it's still the same sentence and not the start of a new one.


“It’s very important that we do,” Preston said, locking his eyes onto the white-haired trainer and frowning.

This should be the start of a new paragraph since it switched speakers. I know that you probably wouldn't want to space it like that for personal reasons, but again, it's mostly a suggestion on my part.

Just as I told you in our PM, the chapter did not disappoint. No major mistakes and a little plot progression makes for an excellent return. Hopefully since you're out for holiday it means more chapters. Please? Anyway, the characters were great this chapter and while it was difficult at times to follow who was saying what I think I got it. It doesn't hurt to have a Chase said, Logan shouted, Preston whispered here and there. It won't deter from your great writing. It will enhance it. Great job on this chapter. Keep it up. Until next time.

Bulba the Great!
28th June 2013, 9:49 PM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Six

-2002-

There was a great amount of commotion outside. Cameras were flashing, people were shouting, helicopters were whirring. An outside observer might have thought that either there had been a fire or a death at the Gideon home on 43rd and Vine. Inside the large house, a boy ran to the window, looking out.

“Juju? What’s going on?” Alec was restless, anxious to discover the reason for the media outburst. He was used to the occasional news crew of six or so visiting to interview his grandfather, or when he was staying with his father having to join him for tours, but never before had he seen this amount of people focused on his family. Juliet, the newest in a long line of sitters for the young boy, pulled him away from the clear glass against his will.

“Stay away from there, Alec. Your mother will deal with this.” He looked up into her eyes, a difficult task (Juliet was a tall woman), and narrowed his own.

“Why can’t I ever know what’s going on, why can’t I?” Juliet sighed, bending down to Alec’s level. She held his gaze steadily, warm brown eyes meeting glassy jade.

“These matters just don’t concern you, sweetie. Come, let’s go feed Sunkern.” Alec ignored her outstretched hand.

“Is this about Pop-pop’s new thing? The invention?” Juliet did not answer, instead standing and peering out the window for herself. Alec did not like this and kicked her in the sweet spot of her lower left leg. He regretted the kick immediately; he liked Juliet very much.

“Ouch! Alec, stop this! Do you want me to take you to your father’s?” Alec shrank instantly, shaking his head and looking at his toes. “Your grandfather’s changed the world with this creation. People are getting excited! Life is going to be very different for you from here on out, Alec.”

“But why? Why does it have to be different? I don’t like different.” Juliet did not seem to have an answer for this. Footsteps sounded in the next room. Alec moved to the door immediately.

“That’s your mother. Let’s not bother her,” she called, but it was too late. Alec ran out of the room, colliding head-on with Pippa Gideon. She let out a noise of agitation, looking to Juliet to handle her son.

“I don’t have time for this today, Alec.” She continued her trajectory to the front hallway, sidestepping the seven-year-old’s small form.

“Tell me what’s happening!” He crossed his arms, stubborn and hurt at his mother’s indifference.

“Juliet, please handle him. I can’t deal with petulance today.” She strode out of the room, and when Alec attempted to follow, Juliet grabbed his arm. She stroked his angry tousle of dark hair and hugged him in an attempt to pacify the boy.

“Your mother’s very busy, Alec. The Poké Gear is causing excitement, all over, people are excited, and -” Her speech was interrupted by shattering glass from the room they had just vacated. Juliet shrieked and threw the door open, looking into the library. The window had been destroyed, and in the center of the foyer was a dark rock, surrounded by shards of glass. Alec made to pick it up and Juliet stopped him cold.

“What is it?” he asked, incredulous.

“Don’t touch it. Someone just threw that rock.” The boy looked up at her with wide eyes. “Alec, with such fame comes danger. A lot of danger. Your family name is very well known, and there are a lot of angry people in this world, people who are angry because they aren’t famous like you.” She hugged the boy to her chest. “But don’t worry. I will always protect you.” A breeze swept through the broken window.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Night crept over the broken Main Street of Olivine City. The maintenance team was already at work to restore the concrete walls and pillars. A Houndoom wandered the dark street outside a cottage on the outskirts of the city. Much to Preston’s insistence that they move as soon as possible from the city, Logan and Alec had refused to sacrifice the chance to sleep in a secure location once before beginning the long trek to Mahogany Town. Preston had rolled his eyes and muttered his misgivings, but allowed them into his tiny seaside cottage and set up makeshift beds in his living area. The older man was now bustling about in his kitchen, preparing a nightcap for everyone before turning in. Logan was helping him make tea, leaving Chase and Alec to aimlessly look through Preston’s relatively large collection of achievements on his mantle.

“Winner, Johto Pokémon League, 1982. Winner, Johto Pokémon League, 1984. Arceus’ Plates...” Alec muttered. Chase grunted.

“He’s pretty good,” he admitted, looking from the picture in front of him to the man now instructing Logan on proper brewing methods of ginseng. Preston had been an impressive looking man in his younger days. The photograph, dated to his first Pokémon League win, showed a man with longer hair that curled with a gentle grace down past his chin, landing just at his shoulders, a strong jaw, high cheekbones and a muscular frame.

“You can sit down, if you’d like,” Preston called, glancing over his shoulder at the boys. While his face had softened a bit, his eyes were still sharp and Alec could now appreciate that this man, at least, deserved his respect. The two boys sat on the single couch in the living room. Chase was watching Logan pour hot water into four cups.

“You ever been in love?” he asked Alec. Alec was taken aback by this sudden question. It took him a few seconds to stutter an answer.

“I...uh, well, no. I don’t think. Should I be?” Chase’s gaze lingered on Logan. He shook his head.

“It’s a lousy thing to be in,” he answered, fiddling with a Poké Ball-shaped coaster on the coffee table.

“I disagree,” Preston said, entering the space from his kitchen, carrying a tray with tea and chocolate-covered almonds. He offered the bowl of almonds to the boys, which Alec accepted but Chase did not. Logan followed with a plate of soda bread, still warm. “I was married nine years, and it was worth every second.” He produced a picture from his pocket, showing it to Logan first, then the boys.

“She’s beautiful,” Chase said, looking in awe at the photograph. Married-Preston was slightly older than League-Winner-Preston, and he also sported a graying beard, although he couldn’t be more than thirty. The woman standing next to him had long blonde hair, almond-shaped blue eyes, and a small red mouth that curled up at the edges, locked in an eternal sweet smile. “What happened to her?”

“She was killed.” Logan let out a small breath, and Chase lowered his head, sorry he had asked. “Five years ago, this May. She was captured and tortured beyond sanity by a member of Team Skye who was looking to receive a large ransom from me. When I paid it, she was returned to me, but she was gone. I tried to find her help, I sent her to a hospital, but...” He folded the picture up and put it in his pocket. “She was my life. It was after she passed I chose to retire.” There was an uncomfortable silence, which Preston seemed to have expected. “I apologize, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Preston -” Logan placed a hand on his shoulder, which he shook off.

“Now don’t be ridiculous. My memories of her are wonderful and that’s all that matters. Love is excruciating. But when you get it right, it’s sublime. It’s the clearest, purest feeling you’ll ever experience. You look in her eyes and you see the man you can be, not the one you are.” The children stared at him in silence. “I forgot sugar!” he exclaimed, turning abruptly to stride quickly back into the kitchen.

…................................................. ....................................

-2006-

Rain sprayed against the tall crystal windows in the dining room. Alec was perched on the loveseat, his large green eyes reflecting the stream of glassy droplets roaring outside, making beautiful patterns on the window - ripples and rings, lines and shapeless splatters, all working their way down to the muddy ground below. A flash of lightning silhouetted the new tower being built in Ecruteak City ten miles away, the largest and most expensive project his father had ever commissioned.

“Alec? Are you ready to go?” The eleven-year-old turned to look at his keeper. Juliet had been working for his family for five years now, and she still looked every bit as beautiful to him as she had the first day she had crossed the threshold, on a day very similar to this one.

“I’m not going.” This had been his response for the past three months, but he knew it would do no good to continue living in denial; like it or not, his mother had paid for a full four-year admittance to technical school, which she insisted would put some sense into him and make him ‘more like the men of the family’. His dream of training Pokémon had long since vanished, but he did not like the finality of someone deciding his future for him so certainly.

“I’m not going to try to convince you it’s the best opportunity in the world. I know where your heart is.” She paced over to the window seat, reaching out for the boy’s hand. She sat beside him, leveling their eyes to each other. “But you know that my time here is done. Unless you want to be alone in a house with your mother, school is better than nothing. Right?” Alec did not answer. They sat in silence, watching the rain fall.

“Don’t go, Juliet,” Alec said, not looking at her. She smiled sadly.

“I have to, Alec. I have another family already that I’m going to be working for. A girl this time,” she said, smiling very slightly despite her best efforts. Alec knew she had always longed for a daughter. He tried to feel happy for her, he had been trying for a week to let go of his only long-term friend. It was difficult.

“But you’re the only reason I’m ever happy.” Juliet’s face fell. She felt the next words coming before he said them. “I love you, Juju.” She let go of his hand and looked him hard in the eyes.

“I have enjoyed my time as your guardian, Alec. Very much so. But you need to meet some people your age. This is probably for the best.” She stood up, tousling his hair. “We need to get you a girlfriend, young man.” She laughed, a wonderful laugh that reached her eyes, the most beautiful sight Alec knew. He smiled, broken inside that she hadn’t returned the sentiment.

“Can you help me pack for school?” Juliet nodded.

“Only if you’ll help me pack as well.” She said it with a smile, but there was sadness unspoken from both sides.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

The night was old by the time Chase and Logan fell asleep on the floor, a safe distance apart from each other. Preston had retired to his bedroom, and Alec was left alone, staring out the window at the sliver of moon hanging in the velvety blue sky. A shadowy figure crawled across a streetlight that was flickering on the corner. Alec started at this, but breathed again when he realized Logan’s Houndoom was still on self-assigned sentry duty. Seated next to the young man were Larvitar, Magby, and Machop. Preston had encouraged releasing the Pokémon from their capsules for a night, allowing them to sleep in a nice, snug shelter for once. Chase’s hand was resting on the Servine to his right, hugging it close to his body. Logan was using her Leafeon as a pillow to no objection.

“When the sun rises, we’ll go out for a jog. Alright?” Machop nodded immediately, while Magby and Larvitar vocalized their consent. The noise seemed to be enough to stir Logan out of her light sleep. She stirred, rolling over and rubbing her forehead, opening the soft blue eyes and staring around the dark room.

“Alec? Why are you awake?” She adjusted herself to a seated position. Alec looked from her to Chase’s prone figure and turned back to the window.

“Can’t sleep. It’s kinda hard to, ever since that attack.” He was surprised he even allowed himself that honesty. Something about Logan’s hair and quiet voice reminded him forcibly of Juliet. She ran her fingers down her bare arms and yawned.

“Well that stinks. Want some company?” Alec genuinely had no answer for this question. He had no idea what he wanted.

“I think I’ll be okay. I don’t want to interrupt your sleep pattern.” Logan’s eyebrows narrowed slightly, and she looked at Alec with a hard, scrutinizing look, so similar to his old guardian’s. She lifted herself, walking over to the chair by the window and pulling it around so she was sitting, facing Alec.

“Talk to me. I’m wide awake now. My sleep pattern has been a joke for the past few years anyway.” She crossed her arms and sat back, expectant. Alec looked around, glancing at the shadows falling across the kitchen counter, the polished coffee table with the remnants of tea, and the dark void where Preston’s room extended beyond the moonlight.

“I don’t like traveling in groups, honestly. I can fend pretty well for myself. I really don’t need anyone, and if Will hadn’t assigned me to you guys, no offense but I would’ve taken off on my own a good day and a half ago.” Logan nodded, respecting Alec’s honesty and taking him in slowly before answering.

“I don’t like traveling much, in general, anymore. Not for a while. If it weren’t for Chase, I’d probably have ended my journey a long time ago.” Magby sneezed, singeing Preston’s plain cream-colored curtains. Alec looked over at the sleeping nineteen-year-old.

“What’s the deal with you two, anyway? Chase looks at you like he’s in love, but you guys fight all the time...but you sound like you’ve been together for years.” Logan seemed taken aback at the mention of Chase’s loving gaze.

“We...it’s complicated. We met...through a friend. And he was really what kind of glued us together. And then he...well...” Her eyes were full of tears, which seemed out of the left field to Alec. He looked away, uncomfortable with this fresh display of emotion.

“I didn’t mean to make you cry,” he muttered. Logan shook her head, wiping her eyes.

“I’m sorry. No, I’m being silly. Chase and I traveled for a good time after Tracey, and we dated, on and off, but we’re not...it’s just...”

“Who’s Tracey? The glue you mentioned?” Logan nodded, taking a deep breath.

“Tracey was my best friend. He was...he was my everything. We just got each other. We could talk for hours with each other, but we could also just sit around for hours not talking, and that would be okay too. We were inseparable. Got our first Pokémon together, traveled together, challenged gyms together. After a certain number of...events, we met Chase. And Tracey seemed to think we were all meant to travel together, that we were destined for greatness as a team. And then...well, then the war happened. And Tracey...um, well, he...” This seemed to be too much for Logan, but she shook her head, sniffed, and continued. “He was taken...from us. He was gone. And the war ended, and we tried to move on. Chase and I stopped traveling for a period, we lived together, I saw someone for my...grief...but well, settling down isn’t for Chase. We all deal with death differently, I guess.” Alec nodded, taking this new information without further questioning. They lapsed into an uneasy silence.

They made small talk for a little while longer, Logan allowing herself a smile only once. She eventually fell asleep in the chair, succumbing to an exhaustion that seemed to exist eternally for her. Alec waited until six and slipped out of the cottage with Magby, Machop, and Larvitar for their morning run. He took a quick glimpse back at Logan’s sleeping figure before leaving, curled up in a ball in the armchair, and allowed himself a small smile. He quite liked her, much more than the other two. She seemed to understand and see things clearly.

“Lar, tar!” Larvitar was impatient, running small circles in preparation for their exercise.

“Alright, alright, let’s go!”

…................................................. ....................................

-2006-

“Alec? Are you going to wish me goodbye?” Juliet was standing at the door, holding onto her one bag of valuables, her thin frame silhouetted by the bright morning sun shining behind her. Alec did not turn from his computer, choosing to play silent with her in this final moment. She took a step into the room.

“Your mother wants you downstairs for breakfast in fifteen minutes. No exceptions, she says.” She looked wearily around the room, taking in the posters, drawings, and portraits hanging on the walls. Alec’s bulletin board, where he kept pictures of his favorite childhood memories, was bare. It seemed he had decided to clear it in anger at her leaving.

“Tell her I’ll be down after I shower,” he mumbled, in a voice that wasn’t quite his own.

“You can tell her that yourself, young man. It’s about time you learned to face the woman yourself, you know.” Although Juliet was serious, her mouth twitched. One more beautiful smile before she was gone forever. Alec turned around to look at her, despite his best efforts, needing to take in everything about her one last time.

“I’m going to miss you,” he said. She did not answer, merely crossing the room and dropping her suitcase, stretching her arms out to him. He allowed her to pull him into a tight embrace, and they simply stood, hugging, for a long time.

“I’ll miss you too,” she whispered. And then she was gone. Alec watched her walk to her car out the window, watched the vehicle pull away, carrying the one person who’d ever loved him. He walked to his bulletin board, ran his hands over the empty cork surface, and went to his desk drawer, producing a picture and a thumbtack.

“Goodbye, Juju.” And he pinned a single picture to the board, one of him and Juliet snapped on his seventh birthday. She had her arms wrapped around his shoulders, and both were laughing. His younger self had cake all over his face, and had managed to smear some on her nose, too. His mother’s stern voice floated from the kitchen.

“Alec, come down for breakfast in the next ten minutes or it’s going in the trash.” Alec closed his eyes, exhaling slowly. Life would be very different from here on out.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Forty five minutes of intense cardio had proved too difficult for Magby, who was now being carried in Alec’s arms as the jog through the docks of Olivine Harbor continued. Larvitar was far ahead, determined to outrun her trainer, and Machop was huffing and sweating behind Alec by a good ten yards.

“Ten more minutes, guys, then we’ll head back.” Alec’s eyes were fixed on the lighthouse, apparently the place where Amber and Jasmine had been discovered tied up shortly after the attack on the city. He intended to investigate the place before heading back. His Poké Gear rang twice before he noticed and called for a halt, putting Magby down and running in place as he picked up. Preston’s face appeared on the screen.

“What’s up?” Alec asked, disconcerted at the distressed expression on the older man’s face.

“Where are you? Why did you leave the cabin?” Alec shrugged, relaxing a little when he realized the ex-Gym Leader was simply being a worrywart.

“It was a nice morning. Wanted to go for a run.” Preston did not seem impressed by this answer.

“Alec, there are people out to find and steal from you. You can’t just up and leave! Who knows who could be prowling the streets for you right now?!” Alec shook his head, putting his finger on the power button, ready to hang up. “Come back, Alec. Please,” Preston pleaded. Alec looked around the empty streets.

“Dude, nobody’s coming for me. Okay? I think they all up and left a while ago.” He remembered the shadowy figure he had seen at the restaurant the other day and shook that memory from his head. Nobody was out to get him today. He waved at the screen and turned off his Poké Gear before Preston could get another word in. He pocketed his Poké Gear and chuckled, scanning the horizon and bending down to pick Magby up. Magby was staring beyond his trainer, eyes wide, frozen stiff.

“Magby? What’s up?”

“Alec?” His heart stopped. A female voice had broken the silence from directly behind him to his right. He spun around. The girl from the gym lockdown stood in front of him, holding a gun leveled to his head.

Sidewinder
8th July 2013, 3:00 AM
Hey man. Sorry it's taken me so long to get to your new chapters. Have had some personal stuff going on and been away from everything online for awhile. However, as I promised you so long ago, I will review every chapter you post. I meant that and I intend to follow through. Hope you're doing well!

Chapter 4


She must have been a child - no more than sixteen.

Probably would go over better if you had just said, 'She was a child - no more than sixteen.' Obviously she's a child if she's sixteenish, it just sounds like you're trying to doubly reaffirm it to us. Get it?


They took in the desolation and, after a moment, began laughing - not out of mirth, but at the absurdity of their meeting grounds.

That was very lovely wordplay. Not only az brilliantly reasonable reaction to the situation, but it was very well written. Nicely done


staring at the boy’s body

as she stared at the boy's body? that may read better


that it’s the most powerful deity known in the Johto region.

Ho-Oh is? I thought it and Lugia shared that title? Unless there is something I missed, or maybe Ho-Oh is different in your verzion of the mythology?


I own a Rainbow Wing

AND THE PLOT THICKENS!



“Maybe we need to stop travelling together, Logan.”

Traveling


He must be allowed to travel the region just as freely as any unconcerned trainer who has the fresh promise of adventure in his heart.

Sounds a little bit too preachy and scripted. Didn't really seem organic and natural, if you see what I mean.



Natalia ran a clean twelve miles outside the radius of Goldenrod before pausing, her chest heaving.

Twelve miles? Is she an olypic level athlete. It seems a little hard to believe that someone could do that, even if they are at peak physical conditioning. Hell, I couldn't do that, and I run 3/4 of a mile every morning before work

Overall I enjoyed the chapter. Some lovely description and some nice backround info on some important players. I might suggest to maybe cut down slightly on the character shifts. I know you're working with a lot of characters and only have limited space to work with them, but if you tone down more on the shifts between characters, it actually makes me feel more for the characters that you are focusing on. Hope that makes sense lol

Chapter 5


The Swanna Station

Clever



“I guarantee you my answer would do nothing but bore you. Joseph Thomas Preston, former gym leader of the Olivine Gym. Now in retirement.”

I love the matter of fact attitude; works really well with the character. Not sure if I was supposed to, but that dialogue made me laugh lol


“Alec said as much to Will earlier. It’s not our place to take a family heirloom from Alec, and honestly, Chase, I’m disappointed in your response to this situation.” Chase looked bewildered.[QUOTE]

Actually, I think that's really reasonable for him to say. There's no need to for him to be disappointed if it's for the greater good and solves the immedeate problem. Screw if it's a family heirloom if there are millions of lives at risk

[QUOTE]
“This other world, Alex, NeoEarth, was made up of people who had no Pokémon to assist in their daily struggles

Was this in the previous fic? If so, I need a link because I feel like I've missed out on a lot. and I'm digging it



The Pokémon was configured most bizarrely; the ten-year-old girl standing in front of it had never seen another creature like it. It was tall, taller than her, with mottled brown feathers that clutched to its round, small body in the semblance of a puff ball. Its long tan legs ended in large, awkward feet which were only out-weirded by the identical stalks rising in the opposite direction from its body - two long necks, each capped with an intelligent head. She reached out to touch, to confirm the reality of two brains, two beaks, four eyes

The description of Doduo felt a tad bit lengthy to me but you painted a gorgeous picture. Really, someone who's not familiar with Pokemon at all would have no problem seeing it clearly. Kudos!



“That’s ridiculous. I came here to challenge the gym!” Alec pounded the table, agitated.

Doesn't he have bigger stuff to worry about?

Chapter 6



“Why can’t I ever know what’s going on, why can’t I?” Juliet sighed, bending down to Alec’s level.

Age appropriate and worthwhile question. Really realistic and well places. I liked that quite a bit and could see it quite well in my head


“Five years ago, this May. She was captured and tortured beyond sanity by a member of Team Skye who was looking to receive a large ransom from me. When I paid it, she was returned to me, but she was gone. I tried to find her help, I sent her to a hospital, but...”

It seems like that may have been a bit too easy for him to share. Believe me, I don't know the character that well at all, but I'm married myself, and if that had happened to my wife, not only would I ever be able to talk about it, but doing so would cause me considerable strain. I'm not saying that the story doesn't mean anything or help the story, but it also is an opportunity to show more emotion from Logan


Logan was using her Leafeon as a pillow to no objection.

I liked that bit as well. I've always imagined the eveelutions as very dog like. Maybe I was able to respond to that really well because I use my great dane as a pillow all the time and she never reacts, but either way, it was nicely done


Forty five minutes of intense cardio had proved too difficult for Magby, who was now being carried in Alec’s arms

Good chance to mention some description of Magby that I thought was missed. How hot his/her body tempature is and how it makes him switch arms holding him/her. you dig?


The girl from the gym lockdown stood in front of him, holding a gun leveled to his head.

That cranks **** up a notch

Anyway, the only thing I like about not reviewing so many of your chapters until now is the fact that I got to read three in a row. Though there were some things that I believe could be worked on, I really enjoyed myself and what you've come up with. Keep up the good work and I promise I'll be more prompt with my reviews from now on

Seanferno
9th July 2013, 9:51 PM
I am so jealous that people actually read your fanfics. I have had 1 read...

Bulba the Great!
5th October 2013, 5:08 PM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Seven

Preston hung up the Poké Gear, furious. Logan and Chase were sitting cross-legged on his couch, she alert and attentive, he blearily rubbing sleep from his eyes. Seven was far too early to wake up, considering the amount of sleep Chase had gotten in the past week.

“So where is he?” Logan asked, sounding worried, although Chase couldn’t understand why it mattered one way or the other. The boy seemed perfectly capable of defending himself if he was attacked for whatever reason. The sun was just starting to become bright and irritating, peeking through the window and throwing streaks of light directly into Chase’s squinted eyes. Preston crossed to the window, peering out onto the street, seemingly checking for danger, which Chase found to be a foolish precaution.

“I think I saw the Bait and Tackle shop behind him, which would place him right in the heart of the Harbor area. I think he’s probably heading for the lighthouse, because of its involvement in the lockdown.” He ran his hand through his graying hair, sticking his tongue in his drawn, stubbled cheek and pacing away from the window, glancing distractedly at his shelf of trophies.

“Should we go looking for him, then?” Logan asked, standing and reaching for her bag. Preston held up a hand, rubbing his forehead and looking down at the device still in his hand. He strode to the door, opening it and sticking his head out, checking left and right. He produced a Premier Ball from his pocket, the orb pure white and glistening in his calloused hand. Without a word, he released a great eagle, all scarlet and sea-blue feathers, sharp talons gripping his left arm with a tight yet gentle firmness. Fierce crystal-blue eyes met its trainer’s seafoam gaze, searching for instruction.

“Search for the boy. If he is in danger, you protect him. If the danger is too great, you know what to do.” The bird let out a surprisingly beautiful, soft caw and flapped its great wings, the eight-foot wingspan brushing up against the walls and knocking the dusty curtains into the windows. It swooped across the threshold in a flurry of feathers, and Preston watched his companion shrink rapidly into the rising sun.

“Why are you so worried about this kid? I don’t think the people who are after him are even capable of getting back into the city at this point. He’s not a child, he said so himself.” Chase had not moved from his spot on the couch; he was still hoping to get another two hours of sleep.

“We were charged with his protection by Will! Of all the people to listen to, it’s him!” Chase snorted derisively, shifting lower into the cushions of the couch, fiddling aimlessly with the cushion in his lap. Logan shot him a look that killed and moved to the door, her Pokémon following, Houndoom obediently clinging to her right side. Preston turned, shutting the door behind him.

“I want to go out looking for him,” Logan said, more of a statement than a request. Preston shook his head slowly, looking at Houndoom distractedly.

“No,” he murmured. Logan made to protest, but he continued, “Chase is actually partially right.” Chase sat up at mention of his name, alarmed that his derision was well-placed after all. Logan took a step back in confusion, staring at Preston. “Alec doesn’t want to be coddled like a child, and if we treat him like we don’t trust him he’s never going to see us as anything but overbearing authority figures. The little I’ve learned about him tells me he only listens to people he trust. So we need to show him some trust.” He paced away from the door toward the kitchen. “Let’s eat breakfast, shall we?”

“But...you just sent a Pokémon to trail him…” Logan said, nonplussed.

“Well,” Preston said, a smile flickering behind his eyes for the first time that morning, “He hasn’t seen my Braviary yet, has he?”

…................................................. ....................................

-1998-

“Tracey?” Logan’s heart was beating so fast and so high it would leap right out of her throat. She and her best friend had been out exploring the forest to the south of Pallet Town for hours; they had entered right after dinner. The once inviting trees, so pretty and vibrant with leaves of burnt sienna, copper, bright orange and green, were now scary and foreboding, casting deep shadows and creating giant, gaping black chasms amongst the dark trunks. Tracey had chased a Spearow with giddy excitement and left Logan quite alone in the giant mass of brush and vines. A dark shadow caused the bushes to her left to shift. The eight-year-old girl shrieked.

“Logan?” Tracey’s voice sounded far-off, strained. Her worst fears confirmed, Logan instantly calibrated herself, looking in the direction her best friend’s voice had come from. He called again, seemingly from the opposite direction. His voice echoed through the forest, bouncing left, right, north, south, every direction. Logan began running, breathing hard and fast, to her right. All she could hear was the sound of her pounding heartbeat, the gasps of air she took in every few steps, and the echo of her friend’s voice fresh in her ear. A tree branch snagged at her tangle of waist-length blonde hair, pulling and snapping as the girl continued running, her self-concern thrown away. A vine shot up, tripping the girl, and Logan was on the ground as fast as she had started running.

“Ouch!” she cried in pain, tears stinging the corners of her enormous blue eyes. She looked for the source of the plantlife that had painfully seized her ankle. It was the extended foot of a Bellsprout, which was now snaking its long roots toward her, a hungry sense of mischief playing in its small, beady eyes.

“Sprout…” it uttered, its yellow head bobbling perilously on its slender brown body. Logan scrambled backward, trying and failing to get to her feet. It was getting so dark.

“Tracey!” Logan cried desperately, “Tracey, where are you?” The Bellsprout was snaking closer, its wide pink mouth opening, revealing tiny but sharp black teeth. Tracey and Logan had been warned in school about the carnivorous family of Bellsprout and its evolutions, but it was so difficult to be threatened by the little colorful creature...until it was standing so close, its grip tight and green saliva dripping so venomously. A crashing sound broke through the trees behind Logan. She and Bellsprout both turned, confused. A cawing mixed with a small boy’s laughter added onto the crashing, and a large tawny Fearow, a wingspan of some six feet and its neck long and crooked burst through the foliage. Tracey Morgan was riding on the back, his face alive with excitement.

“Logan, that’s dangerous!” he shouted, pointing at the Bellsprout frozen with its mouth open and roots entangled around the little girl.

“Yes I know, dummy, where were you?? Isn’t THAT dangerous?” she asked, eyeing Fearow’s sharp beak and talons.

“Oh, this guy? He’s harmless, we were just playing with his kids, he’s got a whole nest of baby Spearow.” Tracey seemed overjoyed, talking very fast with no break between his words. Logan pulled at Bellsprout’s tendrils in vain, her legs trapped fast.

“A little help, please?” she said, her teeth gritting against the mounting pressure on her lower legs. Fearow flapped his wings, drawing himself up to full height and towering over Logan and Bellsprout. Tracey kicked at his dark-feathered mount and Fearow shot forward, screeching shrilly at the Grass Pokémon. Bellsprout shrivelled, accepting defeat and shrinking into the long shadows now being cast across the whole forest, shooting one last hungry look at Logan. Tracey hopped gracefully off the back of the gigantic bird, petting its neck and smiling.

“Where did you wander off to?” he asked, nodding meaningfully at the Fearow, who crooned and took off, leaving the children quite alone in the small clearing. Logan was trembling, massaging her ankle and glaring at Tracey, whose expression went from joy to astonishment very quickly. “What did I do?!”

“WHAT did you do?” Logan shrieked, standing for emphasis. She had peaked in growth a little earlier than her friend, and the extra half inch allowed her to feel tall and intimidating in this moment of anger. “I turn my back for two seconds and you’re running off after a spare Pokémon that could be luring you to your DEATH for all I know, without even telling me? I was terrified, Tracey, I thought…” The girl stopped very suddenly, and Tracey saw that her rage had ebbed, giving way to tears. Tracey was alarmed.

“What?” Logan hurried forward, grabbing him and holding tight.

“I thought I had lost you. I’m never losing you again, Tracey. It’s gonna be just you and me, forever and always.”

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

The gun remained pointed at Alec for a solid minute of tense silence before anybody moved. Magby was frozen, shivering in his owner’s arms, large black eyes popping, magenta arms clutching at every inch of Alec available.

“You can’t shoot me,” Alec said, believing this only as he said it, “You’re not allowed.” This did seem to be true; with all this mania involving Team Skye - the lockdown, the hunt for the Rainbow Wing, the street battle - after all was said and done, he was still alive and unscathed. “Your boss doesn’t want blood on his hands.” Natalia lowered the gun very slightly, taking a breath.

“I’m sorry for the mess at the gym,” she said. Alec noted she had avoided his statement completely. Tactful. “I don’t want you getting the wrong impression of me.” Alec began laughing.

“Oh, okay. She says as she lowers her gun,” he said. Magby squirmed at the mention of the g-word. “What impression am I supposed to be getting?” He tried to appear calm, in control, but his eyes betrayed this illusion as they shot in every direction, searching for an escape. The girl had changed since last Alec had seen her: her face was pristine and smooth now, all the nasty scars and burns neatly covered with makeup. The nice clothing she had worn in the encounter at the gym had been forsaken; she was now wearing what Alec could only assume was her uniform - a jumpsuit that was all teals and grays, clearly meant for agility more than extravagance. A crystal symbol gleamed on her left breast, a crest: A large, angular ‘S’, crafted to resemble a bird with wings bursting from the top, a tail sprouting from below. She pocketed the gun, putting her hands up in the clear open.

“I just want to talk with you, Alec.” Machop had placed his small body between Alec and Natalia, attempting to look fierce but unable to mask the sweat gleaming on his ashen body. His tiny stub of a tail was tense, quivering, his gray teeth gritted. Larvitar, however, seemed to have disappeared. Alec assumed she had burrowed away somewhere; she did this as a defence mechanism, digging a hole and waiting for danger to pass over.

“Talk to me about what? I’m not going to give you the Rainbow Wing.”

“I don’t expect you to. Let’s be honest, all cards on the table. If I wanted that wing from you, if I really wanted it, I would have gotten it by now.” Alec had no retort for this. She did seem to present a good point. The sun rose a little higher; a flock of Pidgeot flew overhead, punctuated by one splash of color, an eagle with splendid red-and-blue plumage.

“Well then...what could you possibly want from me?”

“It’s not something I want from you. I want a chance to explain my actions, I feel that you deserve that. Gabriel doesn’t even know I’m here, if he knew...Alec, he doesn’t want to hurt you. He only wants to see Elijah again, if he -” She was abruptly cut off by a massive blow to the back of the head. Larvitar hadn’t hidden after all, it seemed; she had crept around the periphery of the scene and taken a massive slab of stone from the wall to their left, smashing it over the head of the Team Skye member, who had passed out immediately, uttering only a small “Oh,” before sliding to the ground, blood trickling from the open wound where stone had connected with skull. The ground was now coated in scarlet, her ruby red hair mixing almost too perfectly with blood. Larvitar stood proudly, sternly over her body, her chin up and her eyes narrowed to slits, staring down at her prey.

“Larvitar!” Alec cried in a mixture of shock and gratification. This certainly solved a lot of problems. Larvitar dropped the slab of rock, pacing back to her owner and crossing her miniscule arms, expecting praise. Alec laughed, placing Magby on the ground and reaching down to shake Larvitar’s tiny hand. “Job well done, miss.” Machop came up beside her, patting her back, to which Larvitar responded with a snarl. She was standing taller than usual, her chest puffed out, clearly thrilled with her revenge on this woman who’d threatened Alec. Although he was thrilled to have dodged the bullet with this encounter, Alec glanced around, hoping nobody had noticed the brutal clubbing that had just occurred.

“Mag, by!” his companion muttered, staring with wide eyes at the girl lying prone in from of them. Alec picked Magby back up and backed away, slowly.

“I think we should head back, guys.”

…................................................. ....................................

-2005-

The sun was newly risen over Celadon City. Brilliant red-and-orange rays shattered the dark sky, bleeding across the tall hills surrounding the city. Tracey, Logan, and Chase had pitched a tent on the hill overlooking the Celadon Gym the night before. Light streamed across the cheap blue canvas, pouring in through the tiny opening at the top where the two flaps of a door converged. The stray beam of light shot through the peaceful dark of the tent, burning Logan’s face. Her right eye opened, sky-blue and dilating very quickly at the barrage of searing white light.

“Arceus’ Plates!” she yelped, sitting up very quickly. Heaving, her chest moving rapidly with fresh breath, she looked around. Bulby, Tracey’s first and absolute favorite Pokémon, was sleeping with a deeply content smile, his head nuzzled into the electric green fur of Rikelec (Tracey’s Electrike). Her eyes fell on Chase, the fifteen-year-old boy she’d only met yesterday. He was sound asleep, drool escaping his mouth in liberal amounts, his limbs splayed everywhere. Tracey’s sleeping bag was empty, his bag open and significantly emptied. She heard a clattering from outside, and as her senses awoke, she became aware of the wonderful musky scent of fire.

“Good morning,” Tracey said with a gentle smile, his eyes leaving the fire briefly to take in Logan’s disheveled (yet somehow still appealing) appearance, her long blonde hair tangled and her wristbands halfway up her arm.

“Morning,” she replied, returning the smile. She yawned, stretched, and winced at the new sun. She paced over to the fire, appreciating the added scent of scrambled eggs with a gentle “Mmm” and sitting a body’s width away from her best friend. She closed her eyes, sleep still heavy on her mind.

“Chase still asleep?” Logan nodded, rubbing her legs for warmth and burying her head between her knees. For a moment, the only sounds were the spitting of the fire and the crackle of eggs on a pan.

“What do you think of him?” Logan asked, voicing the question that had been hanging in the air since meeting the young trainer the day before. Tracey did not respond immediately, prodding at the eggs and reaching for a stack of plates, laying them by his feet.

“He’s pretty cool! He’s an amazing trainer, obviously. And he seems to have a pretty great sense of humor.”

“He’s cute, too,” Logan said, her face still between her legs. The fire popped.

“You think so?” Tracey scooped up the pan and started doling the eggs in equal proportions for fifteen - himself, Logan, Chase, and all their Pokémon. Logan lifted her head, looking sideways at her friend and then toward the tent, now fully illuminated by the morning.

“Yeah, he’s not bad on the eyes.” Tracey laughed - not a completely genuine response, Logan thought. The tent flap opened and Logan’s heart jumped - luckily, it was just Bulby, alert and seeking his trainer.

“Shar!” he exclaimed, leaping over to the plate of eggs set out for him. Tracey smiled, a real smile this time, and rubbed his partner’s head. He got up, going over to the makeshift ‘table’ set out on the ground - a tablecloth Tracey had nabbed before leaving home. Logan followed him with her eyes only, too comfortable in front of the fire to get up. Tracey produced his Town Map from his vest pocket, unfolding it and laying it out in front of him.

“You’re not jealous, are you?” Logan teased.

“What?” Tracey had not intended this to come out as a yelp, but squeak he did. Logan picked up her plate, toying with her slightly charred portion of eggs and sausage.

“Well, he’s a legend,” she said, still mocking but gauging Tracey’s reaction with interest all the same. “Two losses, ever? In his life?” Tracey snorted, which he attempted to cover with a cough. “What?” He turned to look at her.

“You don’t think that’s true, do you?” Logan shrugged.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Tracey didn’t seem to have an answer for this. Bulby let out a burp. He had eaten his own plate of food and, seemingly unsatisfied, moved on to everyone else’s. Tracey let out a groan and ran over to the now-cleared plates.

“Bulby! That wasn’t all for you!” He moaned and bent down, picking his small sea-green friend up and hugging him in spite of the trouble he’d caused. Bulby looked guilty, lowering his large red eyes and letting out a quiet noise of apology, nuzzling his head into Tracey’s chest.

“Do you have more supplies? Chase hasn’t eaten yet,” Logan said, looking again toward the tent. Tracey placed Bulby down and ran his fingers through his long dark hair.

“Yeah. I can get some rolls going or something. I hope you’re happy,” he said admonishingly to Bulby, laughing to show he wasn’t too overly upset. Bulby yawned in response, stretching his stubby legs and hobbling back to the tent for a post-meal nap.

“Don’t feel obligated to cook anything else! Chase has had to fend for himself for years, I’m sure he’s got something to hold him over.” Tracey merely shook his head in response, kneeling down in front of the food container which was a few feet away from Logan’s seat by the fire.

“No, no, I don’t mind. We’re three now. Forever and always.” The steely way he said this made Logan slightly uneasy.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Alec returned before Braviary did. Preston was making eggs Sunnyside Up for everyone (except himself - ‘I’m watching my cholesterol,’ he announced morosely), busying himself with spices and margarine for the biscuits in the oven, when there was a knock on the door.

“Would one of you get that?” he asked, sweating slightly from the heat surrounding him on all sides. Chase was the one to answer the door, his Nidoking answering the door with him, great purple arms flexed and ready to defend his trainer if there was trouble. When Alec’s auburn hair and denim jacket appeared through the crack in the doorway, Chase rolled his eyes and opened it all the way.

“Nice of you to join us,” he said, stepping back to let the boy in. Alec was slightly out of breath from running (only slightly - he had been cardio training for six months, after all) and didn’t seem happy to see Chase first at all. He crossed the threshold and immediately shut the door behind him.

“Great to see you, too,” he responded, cuffing Chase on the shoulder and walking to the window, peering carefully through the closed curtains. Logan was on the couch, Leafeon napping quietly in her lap, a game of chess set up on the table in front of her.

“It’s my turn,” Chase said, returning to the couch and reaching for a black rook, choosing to act as though Alec had never been absent or present at all, looking only at Logan.

“Alec, I was just wondering where you’d gotten to,” Preston said in a would-be-casual voice. Alec stood in front of the window, nonplussed. He had expected a great deal of panic from all three; well, from Preston and Logan. The conversation they’d had on the phone did not match the relaxed atmosphere permeating the room now. He looked from Preston, sifting oatmeal for himself and humming, to Chase, whose eyes were tired but concentrated solely on the chessboard in front of him, to Logan. She had not uttered a sound or acknowledged Alec’s presence at all, which frankly surprised him. Well, why should she, he thought, she barely knows you. She’s not Juliet.

“Well, I’m glad you weren’t worried about me…” he announced to the room in general, not sure who to speak to. Logan moved her bishop three squares diagonally. “Nothing happened out of the ordinary,” he continued uncertainly, “I certainly wasn’t attacked by a Team Skye member, or anything…” Logan quivered but did not look at him. Alec was suspicious at everybody’s attitude. There was a gentle tap at the window. Preston slammed his pans down immediately and ran into the living room, pushing Alec away from the window and pulling the curtains back.

“Braviary!” he exclaimed, pulling the latch on the window and opening it up so that his splendidly-colored Pokémon could fly in, wings brushing the frame. Alec narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

“There was a Braviary flying overhead back there when that gang member was pointing a gun at me.” Logan let out a cry, and immediately it was as if a spell had been broken. Preston looked sharply at Alec, shutting the window hard and carrying Braviary over to its perch, eyes trained on the young boy. Logan leapt from the couch and ran to Alec, pulling him into an embrace.

“A gun?” Preston asked, incredulous, “Who was it? Surely not Gabriel himself?”

“No,” Alec said, his voice muffled by Logan’s body, which had him quite enveloped, “it was that girl who tried getting the Rainbow Wing from me at the gym. She said she wanted to explain something, I don’t remember exactly. But she had us cornered.” Logan pulled back, her light blue eyes trained on Alec. “Larvitar saved the day, really. She hit the girl over the head, knocked her out.” Logan put her hands over her mouth, stunned.

“And you’re okay? You aren’t hurt at all?” Alec shook his head, looking to Preston, who was deep in thought.

“Does the name ‘Elijah’ mean anything to you?” he asked the older man, who was rubbing his darkly stubbled cheek in distracted, jerky movements.

“Elijah?” He frowned, his forehead creasing. “No, no I can’t say that has any significant meaning...Elijah…”

“We were scared to death, Alec. Weren’t we, Chase?” Logan said, looking over to Chase, who was still sitting on the couch, although he was finally looking at Alec and not the stupid chessboard. He nodded slowly, begrudgingly.

“Elijah…” Preston was hitting his forehead, as if trying to jog memories that simply weren’t coming. Logan was still very close to Alec, checking his body for any sign of injury.

“Logan, stop fussing over him like you’re his mother,” Chase said. Alec had no complaints, in fact he quite enjoyed being so near her. Logan calmed him in a way nobody had since Juliet. Preston seemed to have made up his mind.

“We’re going to have to get to Mahogany Town as quickly as possible, and we should leave now, children,” he said.

“We’re NOT children,” Chase said immediately, sharply, glaring at Preston. The older man sighed.

“No, you’re right. I apologize. Sirs and miss, we have to leave as quickly as possible. I don’t know exactly what Gabriel’s next move will be, but that girl from the gym, Alec, her name is Natalia and she is dangerous and one of his most trusted teammates. If he keeps sending her to deal with you, Alec...he’s got something bigger happening. He’s moving, orchestrating something...and he must be doing it now, while we speak, or I think he would be seeking you personally. Pack your things, chil - everyone.” Alec shook his head.

“You know what? This is my problem. I’ll deal with it on my own, I don’t want to put you in danger.”

“Thanks,” Chase said. Logan made a face at her friend and shook her head fiercely.

“You’re not going anywhere, Alec. I’m never losing you again. It’s gonna be the four of us, for now, and it’s going to be that way for a long time. You hear me?” She had his head in her hands and she held it still and looked deep into his eyes. Alec nodded numbly, aware of Chase’s eyes staring at the two of them. “Good. Let’s get moving, then.” There was a great flurry of movement; Alec suddenly became aware of the fact that there were a great deal of Pokémon in the room who had been watching the conversation quietly, awaiting a verdict on the group’s next movement. Chase’s Nidoking began bossing the rest of his Pokémon around, commanding Servine to roll up the sleeping bags with Logan’s Blastoise, who did not take kindly to direction. Preston grabbed a massive bag resting against the wall and crossed swiftly to the kitchen, pulling last-minute provisions from the cabinets.

“I’ll take you all through the Olivine mountain range, it’ll be much safer that way. It’s not a well-known path, the tunnels to Ecruteak. I doubt even most mountain climbers know about it.” Chase, Logan and Alec were snapping their bags shut, and all Pokémon were returned to their Poké Balls, with the exception of Logan’s Houndoom, who insisted on remaining by her trainer’s side until they were safely out of Olivine. Logan pulled on her pale teal sweater, Chase his scarlet-and-black jacket with an extra-large collar.

“We’re ready to go when you are, Preston,” Logan said, hoisting her bag onto her shoulders. Preston scanned his house one last time before nodding, confident he had packed everything essential. Pulling on a brown rawhide jacket, he shouldered his massive bag, nearly Houndoom’s size, and opened the door.

“Off we go,” he said, waiting for the three children to exit before extinguishing the lights, and suddenly the living room that had been crackling with life and warmth ten minutes earlier was dark and silent.

Bulba the Great!
19th October 2013, 6:23 PM
Probing questions for anybody who chances to read this, because this will help me with future chapters:

-Who is your favorite character?
-Who is the most intriguing character?
-Whose story do you think this is?
-What do you predict happening from here?
-Do you feel Pokemon are being utilized heavily enough?

If you guys could at least consider these questions, it would help me a great deal!

Bulba the Great!
23rd October 2013, 12:44 AM
http://i42.*******.com/34xrtya.jpg

This is a doodle of the Team Skye logo I drew in class the other day, the one I described in Chapter Seven. For reference.

FlamingRuby
25th October 2013, 5:20 PM
Just a quick question--do you have to have read the other two stories to understand this one?

Bulba the Great!
25th October 2013, 5:25 PM
No, if you look back on the first page I have a quick comprehension guide of characters from my previous stories, but it's all straightforward and doesn't require past knowledge :)

FlamingRuby
25th October 2013, 7:15 PM
Okay--that should make reviewing easier...

Description: Very nice--I love the attention to detail you have--it really makes Olivine City (and your other locales) come alive

Characters: I love how each of the characters has their own unique personality--Machop and Magby and the water bottle were my favorite parts

Plot: I'm very intrigued by what adventure you have planned for this ensemble--will it have anything to do with Team Rocket's return?

Score: ;025; ;025; ;025; ;172;

A very promising start, but I'm sure once the story gets rolling and my questions are answered, it'll be even better.

Shadow Lucario
26th October 2013, 5:49 AM
Alright, sorry this took so long, but here is the review I promised.


Seven was far too early to wake up, considering the amount of sleep Chase had gotten in the past week.

I can't handle this much truth right away! Ease me into it!


He’s not a child, he said so himself.

I don't know why, but I feel a semi-colon would work better here instead of a comma. Just me though. Nothing wrong here.

An excellent chapter in all regards. The description was amazing as it always is. Larvitar's attack on Natalia was surprising and amazing. I always knew she was a great Pokemon. They're setting out so I assume the action is going to be kicked up a few notches pretty soon. When that happens, I'll be here to read it all. Great work as always. Keep it up.

Bulba the Great!
26th October 2013, 7:43 PM
Description: Very nice--I love the attention to detail you have--it really makes Olivine City (and your other locales) come alive

Characters: I love how each of the characters has their own unique personality--Machop and Magby and the water bottle were my favorite parts

Well shucks, thanks :)

Plot: I'm very intrigued by what adventure you have planned for this ensemble--will it have anything to do with Team Rocket's return?

It was my intent when I first created Team Skye that they be the answer to Team Rocket - TR has disbanded completely, but that hasn't stopped evil from permeating the Tohjo continent.

Score: ;025; ;025; ;025; ;172;

A very promising start, but I'm sure once the story gets rolling and my questions are answered, it'll be even better.

Thanks, Ruby! Glad you enjoyed.


An excellent chapter in all regards. The description was amazing as it always is. Larvitar's attack on Natalia was surprising and amazing. I always knew she was a great Pokemon. They're setting out so I assume the action is going to be kicked up a few notches pretty soon. When that happens, I'll be here to read it all. Great work as always. Keep it up.

Thanks so much, Lucario. Expect big things from Larvitar, and soon. The action is definitely going to be on a steady increase. I do apologize for the confinement for the cabin for a few chapters - it is indeed something that was meant to make the reader, as Chase does, feel restless and want the action to begin again.

Chapter Eight is actually quite close to finished. Expect the first (official) Pokemon battle, finally.

Sidewinder
29th October 2013, 5:02 AM
Logan and Chase were sitting cross-legged on his couch, she alert and attentive, he blearily rubbing sleep from his eyes

That sentence felt weird to me. Especially the 'he' and 'she' portion. I'm not sure how to explain other than it seemed somewhat impersonal and it didn't really flow well. It's odd, I can see why it didn't work in my mind, but its difficult for me to type up. Hmm, weird. Take from that what you will


He ran his hand through his graying hair, sticking his tongue in his drawn, stubbled cheek and pacing away from the window, glancing distractedly at his shelf of trophies

Too many commas in my opinion. Try running the different thoughts together at least once to cut down on the breaks. When you come across moments where commas are required, trying reading the passage out loud and pay attention to the pauses as it can really shed light where you should take a break and when you shouldn't. You dig?


Logan’s heart was beating so fast and so high it would leap right out of her throat

I feel like it would read better if you put, 'Logan's heart was beating so fast that it felt like it would leap right out of her chest.'

Your version sounds odd to me for some reason


She looked for the source of the plantlife that had painfully seized her ankle. It was the extended foot of a Bellsprout, which was now snaking its long roots toward her, a hungry sense of mischief playing in its small, beady eyes.

I was able to picture that quite clearly and you displayed the situation quite wonderfully. Nicely done


dark-feathered mount and Fearow shot forward, screeching shrilly at the Grass Pokémon. Bellsprout shrivelled, accepting defeat and shrinking into the long shadows now being cast across the whole forest, shooting one last hungry look at Logan

That's the kind of description I want to see. Very nicely done. Excellent wordplay and great visuals. Kudos!


Machop had placed his small body between Alec and Natalia, attempting to look fierce but unable to mask the sweat gleaming on his ashen body. His tiny stub of a tail was tense, quivering, his gray teeth gritted

I liked that bit as well. I liked how you tied his sweat into the emotional feelings. Tis a very hard thing to do and can come off very weird if not done correctly but you did an awesome job. When you think of fear, or concern, or anger, there are physical symptoms that go along with those physical states. I'm glad you paid attention to that


a tablecloth Tracey had nabbed before leaving home.

That seems almost unbelievable. Really, grabbed a tablecloth before leaving? He doesn't seem eccentric enough for that to work. Actually, he seems so level headed that it doesn't seem likely that that's something he would grab before he left. It's one thing if he picks one up along the way, but to make that something he actively sought to grab just felt a little odd to me


(except himself - ‘I’m watching my cholesterol,’ he announced morosely),

That bothered me a little bit. If you're making eggs (or anything really), unless you add an ingredient to combat certain parts of it, it doesn't change the amount of cholesterol. It doesn't matter if he's making them Sunny or Scrambled, the amount of cholesterol stays the same



“You’re not going anywhere, Alec. I’m never losing you again. It’s gonna be the four of us, for now, and it’s going to be that way for a long time. You hear me

Aww, that was sweet. I liked that. Very genuine and believable


It’s not a well-known path, the tunnels to Ecruteak. I doubt even most mountain climbers know about it.”

If I recall, that's not part of the games or the anime. I'm excited for you to take this because you have a chance for pure creation there. Which could end up being a lot of fun if you do it the right way. I love it when writers take an established region and add in little twists. I'll be watching the evolution of this. Stoked

Bulba the Great!
2nd November 2013, 10:23 PM
Now that's the sorta feedback I'm talking bout!


That sentence felt weird to me. Especially the 'he' and 'she' portion. I'm not sure how to explain other than it seemed somewhat impersonal and it didn't really flow well. It's odd, I can see why it didn't work in my mind, but its difficult for me to type up. Hmm, weird. Take from that what you will.

Hm, I see what you mean. That's some cliche writing going on, anyway - not particularly coming from any personal need to write it that way.

Too many commas in my opinion. Try running the different thoughts together at least once to cut down on the breaks. When you come across moments where commas are required, trying reading the passage out loud and pay attention to the pauses as it can really shed light where you should take a break and when you shouldn't. You dig?

Thanks for bringing this up, I've begun to notice sentence structure is a bit of a recurring problem for me anyway. That actually really helps, a lot.

I feel like it would read better if you put, 'Logan's heart was beating so fast that it felt like it would leap right out of her chest.'

Your version sounds odd to me for some reason

Hm, yeah...dunno what I was thinking when I first wrote that.

I was able to picture that quite clearly and you displayed the situation quite wonderfully. Nicely done

Theenks!

That's the kind of description I want to see. Very nicely done. Excellent wordplay and great visuals. Kudos!

Aw, shucks.

I liked that bit as well. I liked how you tied his sweat into the emotional feelings. Tis a very hard thing to do and can come off very weird if not done correctly but you did an awesome job. When you think of fear, or concern, or anger, there are physical symptoms that go along with those physical states. I'm glad you paid attention to that

This is where it helps me to be involved in theatre while writing dialogue/actions - I try to picture the characters living the scenario. I'm glad it worked for you :)

That seems almost unbelievable. Really, grabbed a tablecloth before leaving? He doesn't seem eccentric enough for that to work. Actually, he seems so level headed that it doesn't seem likely that that's something he would grab before he left. It's one thing if he picks one up along the way, but to make that something he actively sought to grab just felt a little odd to me

What an interesting and dead-on observation about Tracey. I had to go back and reference some of my old writing for this flashback - this one actually takes place right before a scene that is part of "Destined", and therefore is influenced by my older perceptions of characters. My original conception for Tracey back in "One of Many (my first story, of which he was the lead) was actually a lot more similar to Alec - he ran away from home, and a lot of the stuff he took with him was nicked from his parents. So technically, Tracey would have stolen the tablecloth - this is an inconsistency with how the characters developed. I'm really glad you picked up on that, though.

That bothered me a little bit. If you're making eggs (or anything really), unless you add an ingredient to combat certain parts of it, it doesn't change the amount of cholesterol. It doesn't matter if he's making them Sunny or Scrambled, the amount of cholesterol stays the same

Wow, my bad. This was a wording error - what was meant by that sentence was, Preston was making eggs for everyone, except himself. Hahaha I don't think there's some secret art to cooking eggs without cholesterol! Geez, major screw-up on my part. My apologies.

Aww, that was sweet. I liked that. Very genuine and believable

I'm really glad you liked that. I was trying to find a sort of 'key phrase' to characterize Logan's perceptions of situations, and I honed in on this idea that for her, everything wraps up nice and neat, and people stay together 'forever and always.' This causes some delusion on her part, but it's also a very sweet sentiment I think. I really like writing for Logan. Which is funny because when Tracey was around, Logan really tended to be a drag to write about.

If I recall, that's not part of the games or the anime. I'm excited for you to take this because you have a chance for pure creation there. Which could end up being a lot of fun if you do it the right way. I love it when writers take an established region and add in little twists. I'll be watching the evolution of this. Stoked

Yeah, this is completely new. The geography of Johto is something that I've always had kind of figured out in my head, based off the in-game map but extending geographically beyond the set barriers in-game. You can go surfing to the right of the lighthouse in the game, but the standard 'map limitation' rocks block you from going much further. I picture the shore extending into a vast mountainscape, which leads up Northeast to Ecruteak. You'll see in the next chapter, which will be posted very soon!

Thanks, Sidewinder. You rock!

Bulba the Great!
2nd November 2013, 11:24 PM
And lo and behold, Chapter Eight is complete!

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Eight

“I think we’ve gone far enough,” Chase said, throwing his bag to the ground and staring defiantly at the backs of Logan and Preston’s heads. At least those two had stopped; Alec, who was about a half mile ahead on the rocky mountain trail, was either too far to hear or too stubborn to listen. Two hours of climbing seemed to be more than enough for Chase; he was definitely the worst for wear of the travelers, having slipped and fallen more than once.

Preston had rushed the group across the bulk of Olivine’s landscape by sticking to the waterline - by staying on the beach, they reached the rocky cliffs to the east of the city by mid-afternoon without major incident, although here had been one minor scuffle with an extremely territorial Kingler (“He was BEGGING me to attack,” Alec would later claim in defense of his choice to sic Machop on it). Soon, however, the coarse sand gave way to smooth purple-and-green jetties, slick and slippery with seaweed.

“I’ve tripped, fallen, bruised, and scratched myself enough for one day. Let’s make camp,” Chase insisted. Logan looked to Preston for a response. The older man glanced at the sky, back towards the immense stretch of viridian sea where they had come from, and ahead to the treacherous stretch of great black rocks, which they had only begun climbing.

“How much longer til we reach the caves?” Logan asked. Preston had described a beautiful cavern of immense size and comfort nestled in among the rocks, although Chase very much doubted such a place existed and had said as much. Preston shielded his eyes.

“Judging by the size of the lighthouse from here…” Preston trailed off, doing some mental calculations. Logan glanced around at the expanse of city stretched below them to the left. Olivine had seemed so big down among the cobbled streets; from here, it looked quite unremarkable. A long stretch of shops ran along the Main Street and the harbor, but otherwise, it seemed the majority of the population had migrated south to the cottages along the sea on Route 40, similar to Preston’s house. “At least another five hours. Let’s rest,” Preston called, loud enough for Logan and Chase, but again Alec’s rapidly shrinking silhouette seemed deaf.

“Alec!” Logan called. No response. Preston shook his head, producing a Poké Ball and pulling it back. He froze, then lowered his arm again.

“Ah, he’ll figure it out. Come on, help me set up camp.” Preston pulled his heavy bag from his back, letting it fall to the ground with a thud. He massaged his shoulder blades, wincing at the knots embedded in his muscles. Chase caught up with Logan and the broad-shouldered man. He did, indeed, look the worse for wear, scrapes and tears coating his face and pale arms. Logan walked to him, reaching for his left arm, which sported an angry purple bruise ringed with yellow.

“Do you want first aid?” Preston asked, glancing up from his rucksack. Chase shook his head, closing his eyes and sighing. Logan gently touched each of his wounds, kissing the bigger ones tenderly.

“There. That’s better, right?” she said. Preston looked away from this very personal moment, busying himself with crackers, apples and other snacks he had packed in the rush to leave.

“We’re going to need to find some way to replenish after tomorrow. I packed enough supplies for the climb, but not the entire journey,” he said, privately admonishing himself for this oversight. Logan and Chase knelt down to help with the unpacking process.

Alec seemed to realize he was not being followed eventually, and his dark-haired figure reappeared on the stony landscape after ten minutes of near silence in the group. “Somebody could have told me!” he exclaimed, hopping nimbly from a boulder and dropping his olive satchel by Logan’s pearly white one. Preston coughed in a rather exaggerated manner, exchanging an amused expression with Logan. Alec took a seat on the makeshift picnic setting Chase, Logan, and Preston had produced, Preston’s laugh not lost on him.

“Which do you prefer, ham or turkey?” Preston asked. Alec shook his head politely.

“I don’t eat white bread. It’s fine, I brought my own food.” He produced a RAGE candy bar and a powdered protein mix, which he proceeded to dump into a thermos of MooMoo Milk. Chase watched with an amused expression, Logan and Preston with polite interest. Alec looked up. “What?”

“Why are you so particular about what you eat?” Logan asked. Alec shrugged, averting his eyes.

“None of your business,” he said quietly. Chase rolled his eyes. Preston had produced a book, what appeared to be a journal of some kind, and was peering through it with a slight frown.

“What’s that?” Logan asked, trying to read over Preston’s shoulder.

“A journal I kept the last time I hiked through these mountains. That was a long time ago, though. Before I even became gym leader. I was just a gym trainer under Eddard at the time.” He turned a page. Alec leaned forward eagerly, taking a large bite out of his power bar.

“How did you become gym leader? I’ve always been fascinated. I know how to become a member of the Elite Four, you need to beat the League Championships of at least three different regions, and then -”

“Four,” Chase interrupted. Alec looked at him, nonplussed.

“Hm?”

“Four league championships. You need to beat at least four region’s tourneys, plus face off against the already existing Elite Four and champion.” He seemed slightly bitter as he said this, a scowl darkening his fair features.

“Chase was very close to achieving this status,” Logan said softly, “he’s won three championships and fought two of the current Elite Four.”

“And then I began my failing streak,” Chase said. He stood up, walking away about six yards and staring out at the sea. Alec stared, jaw slightly dropped. Logan crossed to her friend, rubbing his shoulders consolingly and whispering to him quietly.

“To become a gym leader,” Preston began, attempting to patch up the sudden wound in conversation, “You just have to beat one league championship and then you express interest in training. The training is the most important part. It’s all very well to have the raw talent of a trainer, but what a gym leader must also be capable of is intelligence, ability to assess an opponent’s exact skill level, and be willing to act as the head of the respective city he is assigned.” Alec was enraptured.

“What’s training like?” Preston grinned at his thirst for knowledge.

“Apprenticeship first,” he said, “You become an apprentice of a current gym leader, preferably of the type you’re interested in focusing on. Then you’re put through some endurance tests. And -”

“Can I battle you?” Alec blurted out. Preston blinked, taken aback.

“I’m sorry…?” he said. Alec had a hungry look in his eyes, a spark of ambition and determination that reminded Preston forcibly of himself at Alec’s age.

“I just...well, I came here to challenge the Olivine Gym. Before anything happened, that’s why I came to the city. I can’t battle Jasmine while she’s recovering, so…” He stood up. “You’re the next best thing, right? Preston, I challenge you to a battle!” Preston let out a bark of a laugh, which took Alec by surprise. He stood up as well, highlighting the physical disparity between the two, rather like an Alakazam looking down at a Kadabra, flaunting its experience.

“I stepped down from the mantle for a reason. A man can become weary of endless battling, among other things. But I don’t see the harm in a seaside evaluation of strength. Now, you can of course battle me, but you understand an ex-gym leader is no different from any other traveling trainer?” Alec nodded, fists balling together in excitement, clenching and unclenching. Preston smiled, taking his brown rawhide coat off, revealing his once-great figure framed by a deep green button-up shirt. “Well then, Alec. Mr. Gideon. I accept your challenge happily.”

…................................................. ....................................

-2004-

The cottage door slammed, signaling the end of J.T.’s workday. “Is that you, Joe?” called a female voice from the bedroom. J.T. strode through the living room, observing the drawn cream-colored curtain and lightly touching his trophies upon the mantle.

“Does somebody else have the key that I don’t know about?” he mused, drawing a chuckle from his wife. He looked in the mirror set above the table in the corner, rubbing his stubbled cheek and noticing the bags around his eyes. I need to get more sleep, he thought, slapping his cheeks a few times to rouse himself. Carrie appeared, radiant as ever, at the door to their bedroom. She had changed into her nightclothes, soft silk emerald material covering her petite body quite modestly. J.T. met her halfway, kissing her by the open entrance to the kitchen. She had to stand on tip-toe to reach his lips.

“Any good challengers today?” she asked. J.T. turned to hang his rawhide coat on the hook next to the mirror in the corner, letting out a release of pent-up frustration in response.

“There was one somewhat-competent trainer. Young guy, he was dressed quite oddly. He had blue hair!” He went into the kitchen, Carrie trailing behind him, a smile spreading across her face. “He was a mono-type trainer, only used Flying types. His father’s Emerson, the leader in Violet City.” He reached into the fridge, searching for the half-gallon skim milk he always kept near the back (‘for maximum refrigeration’ he said).

“Who won?” Carrie asked, leaning coyly back against the kitchen island.

“Who do you think?” he replied, shutting the fridge and going to the corner cabinet to pull out a glass. His eyes caught Carrie’s bright blue ones and he paused. “What do you need to tell me?” he said, putting the milk down and crossing to her, concerned.

“Joe...I’m pregnant.” Tears came immediately to his eyes, and the tall man pulled his wife into his arms, hugging as much of her small body as he could.

“How?” he asked, gasping this through a sob. He pulled back, looking into a face full of joy, relief, and excitement inches from his own. She shook her head, blonde curls washing across her shining face.

“I don’t know, Joe. I...I really don’t know.” J.T. was not content towering over her wife; he knelt down, level with her stomach, and kissed it, overjoyed.

“Doctor Shephard said…” he began, but she interrupted immediately.

“He doesn’t understand either. He said it didn’t make any medical sense, biologically I’m not capable, it just...I don’t know, Joe, but it’s true Joseph, it’s coming, a baby IS coming…” she choked out, her small mouth stretched into a wide grin, tears spilling freely down her round cheeks. J.T. stood again, grabbing her waist and lacing his fingers with hers, pulling her into a loose, exuberant dance around the kitchen, kissing her mouth, her cheeks, her forehead.

“I love you. Arceus’ Plates, I love you so much Carrie Preston.” She squeezed his hand, beaming. The Prestons spun around the room for another ten minutes before retiring to the bedroom, where they would stay up all night discussing baby names. J.T.’s choices were radically different from Carrie’s; he wanted ‘Scott’ or ‘Meghan’, she preferred ‘Alec’ or ‘Emily’. The argument, they decided, would be revisited in five months, when it might be possible to determine the child’s gender.

Team Skye took Carrie three months later. Her husband would never meet the miraculous, beautifully impossible child.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

The great mahogany tree that held the majority of the planks making up Team Skye’s daily meeting place shook ever so slightly as a large tawny creature landed gracefully. Mandibuzz had returned from its hunt, a message clutched in its beak. Although most trainers communicated by Poké Gear these days, Gabriel insisted his team members rely solely on their Pokémon to relay messages to one another.

A new practice introduced during Gabriel’s regime was the construction of tree-dwellings, portable, dependable, and easy to relocate day to day. “It brings us closer to the heavens,” he would muse as the boards were placed and secured carefully. This newest one was located just outside Ecruteak City, quite close to the clearing where Gabriel had first come into verbal contact with Alec Gideon.

“Gabriel, Natalia’s sent word!” called an older man, pulling the paper from Mandibuzz’s mandible and examining it. August was a seasoned member of Team Skye whose experience with the group dated back to the days of Skylar. His white beard and crinkled eyes were misleading; the man had the youth and vigor of a man much younger. His beady brown eyes stared greedily at the paper, aching to read the words written by Natalia (he was quite fond of her), but the paper was immediately snatched up by an elegantly clad arm. Gabriel was notoriously quick to respond to a summons.

“Thank you, August.” The leader patted the elder on the back and walked to the Mandibuzz, stroking his bird’s soft feathers without a word as he read the message from his subordinate.

“What’s it say, Phoenix?” August whispered reverently, eyes averted. On occasion, usually when he was angry, Gabriel insisted he be referred to as ‘The Phoenix’. The lean man shook his head, crumpling the message and looking out over the grassy plain, lost in thought. His eyes were shards of glass, cold, sharp and unwelcoming. Presumably the message had not been a good one.

“It’s all very well. This just proves what I should have realized long ago. When you want something done, do it yourself.” Gabriel paced, not betraying to his teammate that he was not quite as comfortable with the twenty foot altitude as he pretended. Other members of Team Skye emerged from the simple cabin constructed at the back of the platform. Gabriel observed them with casual indifference, the most important action being the wheels turning in his head. He opened his mouth to speak, then paused.

“What?” August encouraged. Gabriel spread his arms to the heavens.

“The clouds part,” intoned the eight members of his gang. He smiled slightly at this, and addressed his team as a whole.

“Your fellow teammate, Natalia, has yet again failed to do what is asked of her. Let this be a lesson to all of you. Luckily, her part was very small and quite insignificant to our larger goal. We can proceed without her.”

“But sir, isn’t the Rainbow Wing part of the ritual?” said a female voice. Gabriel glared at Isabel, who never seemed to know when it was appropriate to speak.

“Eventually, yes, we will need it. When that time comes I will retrieve it myself. But there are other pieces of the puzzle that must be brought together. Angelica is at this moment investigating the legend of the beasts of the Burnt Tower. As soon as we receive her message, we will move operations into the city.” A hand shot up from the group. Brodie, who had been sitting lazily in the shade of the cabin, stood up, a message in his hand.

“My apologies, Gabriel, sir. This came from Angie earlier. I meant to give it to you, but no offense, I didn’t want to disturb your studies.” Gabriel had been spending the day researching, peering over ancient tomes and whispering to himself in his private quarters. The magenta-haired man’s nostrils flared, but he did not attack Brodie.

“Give it here, then,” he whispered, beckoning. Brodie stood up, eyes glued to Gabriel’s bright blue ones. He placed the message in his leader’s hand, his own shaking very slightly. Gabriel gave him a steely smile. “Thank you, Brodie.” The younger man sighed. It appeared the Phoenix was in a good mood today. Just as he turned his back, Gabriel glanced at the note and whistled. Mandibuzz swooped down from its perch above them, grabbing Brodie by the leg and pulling him into the air. The poor youth, startled, let out a shriek, limbs flailing. The remaining members of the team fell silent, staring.

“Make no mistake. This is what happens when I don’t get what I want, when I want it,” Gabriel said. He advanced on Brodie, who was hanging upside down a body’s length above the already elevated platform.

“G-Gabriel...please…” the young man stammered. Gabriel’s right hand struck Brodie’s cheek with incredible speed, leaving an angry red patch. He turned to survey the rest of his team with agitation.

“Angelica has discovered the key to our success. Pack up camp, quickly. Ecruteak will be ours before nightfall.” Mandibuzz dropped Brodie, and as he stood, wiping himself, stammering apologies, Gabriel turned to look out on the just-setting sun. “Oh, and remember.” He reached out his arm for Mandibuzz, not looking back. “Not a soul gets hurt.”

…................................................. ....................................


The rules decided on for the match between Alec and Preston were very simple: Three Pokémon apiece, Alec was allowed substitutions while Preston was not. “If I were a gym leader, I would assess the level of experience you have and adjust my Pokémon’s levels accordingly, but, well, I’m stuck with what I have,” Preston had apologized, allowing Alec to choose the three that he would be facing. After a small debate Chase agreed to referee.

“Are the rules clear?” he asked both trainers. Alec nodded, Preston grunted. He had a hardened look, and suddenly years had stripped off his body; echoes of the powerful man Alec had seen in old pictures were now evident. “Oldest chooses first,” Chase stated, looking to Preston. The aged man presented a Great Ball and tossed it nimbly onto the rocky terrain that Alec had chosen for the battle. In an explosion of red energy, a great hulking form appeared - exactly Preston’s height, entire body coated in short cocoa fur, Ursaring landed on the battlefield. She extended her gigantic paws, each white claw five inches in length, and let out a guttural snarl.

“And now, the less experienced trainer,” Chase continued. Alec shot an angry glance his way; he should have asked specifically for Logan to monitor. He had chosen the Normal-type specifically for his first challenge; if he could beat Whitney, he could beat an Ursaring.

“Machop, don’t let me down!” he cried, throwing Machop’s Poké Ball. The small gray humanoid appeared, getting a good look at Ursaring and allowing one split second of terror to flit across his simple face and large red eyes before fixing it into a look of grim determination.

“Round one, begin!” Chase called, taking a seat on the rock behind him.

“Ursaring, Swords Dance!” Preston said immediately. The massive bear raised her long claws, extending them and slashing the air, sliding them nimbly across one another, sharpening them and honing her attack power.

“Machop, Low Kick like we’ve worked on!” Alec yelled almost immediately, hoping to make Ursaring lose her bearings before the battle began proper. Machop maneuvered his way towards the figure three times his size, his face fixed in a frown of concentration. About a yard from the bear he dove, feet-first, letting out a cry.

“Protect!” Preston said, calmly observing Machop’s form and demeanor without taking his hands from his pockets. Ursaring swept her bulky arms in front of her and growled, a low, sonorous noise that filled the entire battle area. A jade shield enveloped her body, seconds before Machop could attack her stumpy legs with all his might. Instead, the small figure crashed into the bubble, yelping and flying in the opposite direction, Ursaring quite unscathed.

“Aerial Ace,” Preston said, not allowing Alec reaction time to his last move. Ursaring sprang into the air, lifting her right arm and extending her claws for a downward swipe. Alec bit his lip, quickly flashing through all of Machop’s preventative strategies. If Aerial Ace hit, he didn’t think his small companion could survive the Flying-type move; he had been so focused on raising Machop’s muscular strength he had forgotten to worry about defense.

“Karate Chop!” he commanded, hoping perhaps he could meet Ursaring blow-for-blow. Machop, still on the ground and clutching his left knee, pulled his arm back and tightened his muscles when CRASH, Ursaring slammed into him. Gravel flew from the immediate impact site, causing Alec to flinch and Preston shielded his eyes with his arm.

“Machop is unable to battle,” Chase said almost immediately. Alec yelled out involuntarily. He knew Chase had called correctly, though; Machop was definitely out of the game. His limbs were splayed in angles at odds with the alignment of his prone body, eyes shut in a grimace. Ursaring stood over him, staring down at her fallen opponent with little sign of fatigue. Alec produced Machop’s Poké Ball and pulled his newest team member back with a beam of scarlet light. “That’s Preston one, Alec zero,” Chase reminded everyone.

“That wasn’t necessary,” Alec said through gritted teeth. Preston raised Ursaring’s capsule.

“Return,” he said. The bear disappeared instantly, causing Alec to frown.

“You don’t have to do that!” he uttered, looking at the ex-gym leader angrily.

“Ursaring is my oldest Pokémon, Alec. I’ve had her for twenty years. I think maybe it might be a little better to use some of my slightly less experienced teammates on you. No offense meant,” Preston said, and he meant it. Alec shrugged.

“Whatever.”

“Can we continue, please?” Chase asked, arms folded. Alec nodded.

“What’s next?” the boy called to Preston. The man produced a regular Poké Ball and tossed it into the air. An elegant four-legged Pokémon appeared, unfamiliar to Alec up until Preston had shown it to him: Sawsbuck, native to Unova, apparently. Right, Grass-type, he thought, recalling Preston’s quick description of all of his Pokémon and their types. He assessed the stag’s long, fuchsia-leaved antlers and clean brown fur.

“Go, Magby! Let’s hustle!” Magby appeared ten feet away from Sawsbuck, lying fast asleep on his back. Alec groaned; of course he would be taking his afternoon nap right now. The tiny red creature figured out the situation quickly enough. He opened his droopy black eyes and let out a squeal, hopping up and waving his arms, apologizing profusely to his trainer.

“Round two, go!” Chase announced impatiently.

“Sawsbuck, Nature Power!” Preston reacted immediately; his reflexes were impressive in battle, Alec realized. His mind was blank, and he tried frantically to snap himself into the same energy the older man was emanating.

“Magby, Flame Burst!” was the boy’s answer. Sawsbuck had glowed a bright pearly white, shaking its head and kicking the ground with a hard black hoof. Nature Power was a move unfamiliar to Alec, but he suspected it was a grass move. Much to his displeasure, just as Magby finally released a searing wave of fire from his tiny body, gigantic rocks flew in every direction into the small bobble-headed creature.

“Nature Power is a rock move?” he said aloud, frustrated.

“It transforms, based on the Pokémon’s surroundings,” Preston explained. Magby was buried, the rocks covering him at least twice his size and weight. Sawsbuck had been singed by Flame Burst and was recovering on its own time as the trainers spoke. It pawed the ground restlessly, eyeing the pile of rocks Magby was trapped under.

“Inactivity from a Pokémon for more than a minute is considered forfeit,” Chase called. Preston shot him a look, knowing completely that this was not a rule.

“Magby, break free! Fire Punch your way out!” Alec called. There was a rumbling sound under the rocks, and a bright orange light emanated from the core of the pile. Logan came up behind Chase while the battle raged, putting a hand on his shoulder.

“Be nice to him, Chase. He’s clearly not an Elite Four member, but he’s developing. Let him learn,” she said.

“I’m being completely impartial, honestly.” The young man’s soft brown eyes met hers and she saw truth. “I don’t particularly care who wins,” he muttered, “the old guy’s just better.”

“Horn Leech!” Preston ordered. Sawsbuck charged at Magby, now freed, lowering its magnificent head and pointing its long red plant-covered antlers right at its target, Magby’s creamy dew-drop shaped belly. A green energy pulsed between the horns, and Magby’s eyes widened.

“Fire Punch!” Alec called, biting his lip and wishing he’d worked with Magby on his speed much more than he had. The little fingers clasped, the fist pulled back and ignited, but Magby never even got a chance to swing at his opponent; Sawsbuck picked the Live Coal Pokémon up and tossed it, the green light enveloping Magby and extending in long coils back towards the stag, absorbing hit points rapidly. The diminutive figure hit the ground, knocked cold by the attack.

“Round two goes to Preston, to everyone’s surprise,” Chase announced. Alec kicked a small rock at his feet, sending it flying, and grabbed Magby’s Poké Ball. This is impossible, he thought, looking at Preston incredulously. The man was petting his Sawsbuck calmly on the head; he wasn’t even breaking a sweat. For years of inactivity, he was incredible.

“Who are you?” he said, very quietly. Preston locked eyes with him across the field, smiling with his eyes and returning Sawsbuck to its red-and-white home.

“I wonder what his final Pokémon will be,” Chase said, leaning back and looking up at Logan. “He used to be a Normal-Type leader, right?”

Logan shook her head, unsure. “I hope he uses his Manaphy,” she said, staring intently at the final Poké Ball in the tall man’s hand.

Chase’s eyes widened. “Say that again?”

“He had a Manaphy, or at least he did during that battle on Main Street,” Logan told her friend, taking a seat next to him. Chase’s mouth fell open, and he looked at Preston in a whole new light.

“How does a man like him get a legendary?” he wondered aloud.

…................................................. ....................................

-2008-

“How about you, anything new and exciting happening over in Ghost Town?” Preston asked, chuckling. He had his Poké Gear extended in front of him, the face of Morty the Ecruteak Gym Leader illuminated on the screen. Morty allowed a small smile, shaking his head.

“No, I can’t say we’re having any luck on the reconstruction effort with the Burnt Tower, and somebody’s been snooping around the new one, somehow they’re getting past the sages guarding the area.” The gym leader sighed, and Preston appreciated the bags that had formed under his already tired-looking eyes. “I wish you’d come back to the force, J.T. We could really use you in the reconstruction effort.” The war had not affected Johto nearly as much as the neighboring region where it had begun, but there was still much to be done to restore everything to peace after Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire had purged the land of evil.

“I’m doing everything I can, Morty. I just...well, you know,” he said. “If you’d like, I’ll come to visit next week. After the anniversary.” Morty nodded.

“That would be very helpful. I send all my love to the family. Tell Carrie’s mother she’s still missed by everybody who knew her in Ecruteak.” A beeping noise interrupted them. “Is that you?” Preston checked his home screen.

“No, I think you’re getting a call, Morty,” the older man said. Morty glanced downward.

“So I am. Ech. Alright, well, I’d better take this. Talk soon, J.T.” There was a click, and Morty’s face disappeared, leaving Preston sitting alone in his very empty house. He sighed, staring down at the blank device and tossing it lightly between his large hands. It had been four years since Carrie died, and as autumn crept over Olivine City he felt more than the seasonal chill; this weekend would be the exact date of her passing.

He stood up; now would be a great time for a walk, he mused, glancing out at the darkening sky. If he did a lap around the beach, it would give him his daily exercise and allow himself to release the tension that had been building in his body all week. This would also be an excellent opportunity to do some grocery shopping. He turned on the spot, taking in the living area as the fading sun cast long shadows across the rich hardwood floor and lumpy couch he would have replaced long ago if it hadn’t been Carrie’s favorite. Not an inch of this room had changed since her passing, not even the oil painting of an elegant Dewgong leaping out of the sea, flecks of seafoam and crystal water droplets frozen in time. Preston had always hated the painting, but now that she was gone it was the most beautiful thing in the world to him.

He left the cabin dark and deserted for his run, a ritual he had only begun last year. It helped unburden his mind of dark thoughts that sometimes threatened to overwhelm him. He passed by the Gideon’s cottage; it, too, was empty. I really must call Pippa and see what she’s up to, he reflected, turning his eyes out again to the horizon, where the sun was just touching the water. Ruby red drifted into salmon pink, crossfading with the hazy blue sky that then became dark, velvety indigo. The stars were going to be quite visible tonight, he could tell. The older man’s eyes tracked inland, observing stray pieces of driftwood and Tentacool heads bobbing in the water, coming to rest on an oddity he had not seen before, stuck in the sand with water licking its rounded end.

It seemed to be an egg of some kind, but it was nothing like Preston had ever seen before. The exterior was translucent and crystal-blue, with flecks of gold lurking closer to the core of the object. The core was a warm red, pulsing intermittently, the orb wriggling very subtly with every pulse. It looked almost like a fire captured in a solid casing of freshwater, and Preston found he couldn’t take his eyes off it. He walked to the water’s edge and turned his head in all directions, checking to see if he was alone.

“What are you?” he asked softly, crouching down and reaching his hand out. The egg seemed to sense his calloused hand, lurching and rolling into the sea again. He grabbed it, rescuing the object from being whisked into open water. The orb was warm to the touch, which was odd because the evening was rather chilly. Preston stood up, looking around for some explanation of what this egg contained and how it had ended up on the edge of Route 40.

“Let’s take you home,” he said, clutching the warm round sphere to his brown jacket and shielding it from the cold.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Contrary to Logan’s prediction, Preston had released his Braviary for the final round. Alec, glad that Preston had allowed him to request the Pokémon he would be facing, had thrown Larvitar into the arena, confident that she at least would prove a somewhat even match for the experienced trainer.

“Rock Slide!” he yelled, eager to prove that he could turn the tides of this battle. Larvitar narrowed her eyes, frowning in concentration and digging her stubby green feet into the ground, launching herself at a large boulder by her side. The boulder shattered into piece, which she hurled at the large red-and-blue eagle.

“Double Team,” Preston said, not missing a beat. Braviary flapped its wings and shrieked, blurring and suddenly sending shadowy blue images in either direction. The Pokémon became a wide blur that spread for fourteen feet in the air; Larvitar had lost her target. The rocks spun uselessly back to earth, not connecting with the Flying type. “Superpower,” Preston continued. He considered taking this back; it would certainly end the battle, and he felt slightly guilty steamrolling all of Alec’s Pokémon so quickly. The boy could not help the disparity in their experience levels.
This doubt was hampered by the impact of Braviary’s feathered body with Larvitar’s hardened rocky shell. The bird had dive-bombed into the Rock type with wild abandon; Larvitar screamed, her body plowing into the earth. Braviary coasted back into the air, screeching victory. “Larvitar!” Alec shouted, panicked. The small creature was prone, eyes shut in pain.

“Round three also goes to Preston. Larvitar is unable to battle. What a surprise,” Chase said, tacking the last part on for his own amusement. Alec glared at him, wanting nothing more than to punch his smug face into a pulp. Chase’s face was not smug, though; in fact, his expression was more surprised than anything. His eyes were fixated on Larvitar’s damaged body, which Alec turned his own eyes back to. Larvitar had stood up again; her olive-green body was glowing. Beams of light shot out from the jagged holes in her stomach and chest, and her mouth opened, letting out a noise of disbelief.

“Looks like your Larvitar’s evolving, Alec!” Preston announced, smiling with his eyes at the young man. Alec stared with confusion at his Pokémon’s body, now white and morphing. It seemed the ex-gym leader was right: Larvitar was well on its way to transforming into a Pupitar.

Alec let out a groan. “Does she have to?” he asked.

Preston frowned, confused. “I beg your pardon?” Chase and Logan had stood up and were coming closer to behold the magnificent metamorphosis that was evolution. Everyone seemed happy for Larvitar except Alec, whose face was twisted in disgust.

“This is the worst day of my life.”

Bulba the Great!
9th November 2013, 8:20 PM
I would like to stress that the questions I asked a little ways above this chapter would really help me a whole lot in the writing of future chapters. If nothing else, those questions I would like considered.

Glover
10th November 2013, 7:20 PM
... You summoned me, oh Great and Leafy one? *Snicker*

Well, anyway, here I are. Let's se what I can pick apart to pieces and dash hopes and dreams. Mwa. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.


“You’re sure it’s him?” The girl nodded. “I see. Where is he?” Need a couple of line breaks there, or so I was taught, since you're showing the words of Person A and the action of Person B


“We have every exit carefully monitored, sir.” The man returned his gaze to the expanse in front of them, his electric blue eyes seeing further than the disappearing sun.

“Return to your post, Natalia. And alert me when he arrives. I’ll be in the lighthouse, likely. Waiting.” The girl saluted, a gesture he did not return, and turned to her partner.

Here as well, it should be grouped more like

“We have every exit carefully monitored, sir.”

The man returned his gaze to the expanse in front of them, his electric blue eyes seeing further than the disappearing sun. “Return to your post, Natalia. And alert me when he arrives. I’ll be in the lighthouse, likely. Waiting.”

The girl saluted, a gesture he did not return, and turned to her partner.

Person B's speech and action, Person A's Speech and actions, and then Person B's actions again.

Also, props for usage of a Crobat in the opening scene. I liek Crobats, you see.


Gabriel, but in her three seconds of distraction, the man had vanished without a sound. Don't you hate those kind of people?



“The point of the Macho Brace is to make you work, Machop! It’s supposed to increase your muscle mass by at least ten percent! And until you show better results than that dismal failure against Happiny, you’re keeping that on. Now here...” He produced a zippered green bag and pulled out a Super Potion. “Drink this. We’ll take a break, but don’t think you’re getting out of push-ups every half hour. Got it?” Machop nodded wearily, propping himself into a sitting position and taking the medicine with shaking hands.
I'm beginnign to think I'm not gonna like this Alec's training styles. I do like your usage of the MAcho Brace as an anchor weight, though.

And Whitney... you know, I never had any trouble with her, in any of the games. Although my sadly unfinished attempt at writing did involve a trainer getting punked by the Clefairy, probably something along the lines of a battle story I saw on Facebook (for a laugh look up the Level 35 Clefairy, it involves Cute Charm, Minimize, Ingrain ((via Metronome)), a Full Restore, and Stored Power) but I digress... got milk?


Alec Gideon hated to lose, because it was simply not an option in his family. Yes, I think I'm gonna really not like this guy.

Also, I think it makes more sense as Alec Gideon hated to lose; it was simply not an option in his family.


Alec dropped out and left his house a disgrace, with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his family’s most precious heirloom, stolen and now hidden in the deepest pocket of his rucksack. The poor, disgraced, unloved little... prick.


A baby Rattata, its amethyst fur just sprouting and its front teeth barely protruding from its lips, crawled nervously across the path to its mother. Oh, please tell me he's not going to order Machop to...


Machop reduced to a thin beam of glowing reddish light, pulled into his container with a gentle click. *Whew*


“This is the person that gave us your number! Not so sure about the excamation mark, either.



No, only ordinary people needed their assistance.
Well that certainly says a lot about Alec's ego. Namely, that its approximately 350% of the size of an obese Wailord


“Ladies and gentlemen, the S.S. Helen will dock in Olivine Harbor by nightfall. Please be sure your luggage is together for departure. We hope you have had a pleasant voyage and that you enjoy the rest of your time on board. Thank you.” A click was heard, and then a short series of beeps. “Lord, this has been a long trip. I’m getting too old for this, Terry. I can’t even stand half the people on this boat. It’s hard enough smiling at them at meal time, let alone making small talk about their absolutely captivating adventures through the wondrous and magical land of Unova. Give me some of that. What is it, Fuchsia’s Best?” Evidently, the captain had not pressed the correct button. Honesty: 1
Customer Appreciation: 0



“He didn’t help Tracey much in the end, did he? And I will never forgive him for what he did to Sceptile. Never.” Has me piqued. Me thinks that if I'd read the other two, I might have a better clue as to what the heck they;re talking about, but I don't know that for sure. If I'm right, you'e still left enough of a hook for me as a new reader without ruining the suspense of information. So good for you. Just don't drag it out too long, or I;ll have to dribble my Ditto on your face. Kay?



The miniature cherry-colored creature was curled in the fetal position, its beak-like mouth wide open and emitting wisps of smoke. Alec rolled his eyes. He had a strong suspicion Magby slept only when out of the confines of his Poké Ball, and wasted his precious free time in the sphere running and exerting all of his energy on pointless activity. Any time he was actually needed, he was exhausted. Interesting insight to the Pokeball, be curious to read more into your headcanon on them. And I think I'm going to like your magby... yep yep.


Team Skye is gathering strength again, and the antagonists have a name now. Let's see what these people are up to. Nothing good, I suspect.


excepting Larvitar’s brutal pummeling of a sleeping Farfetch’d in an effort to defend her trainer. Cute.

----

For anybody curious, I write characters with celebrities in mind. I constantly picture Diana Aggron as Logan, Hunter Parrish as Chase and Logan Lerman as Alec.
I have no idea who any of those people are... does that make me a bad person? Cause really hope it does!


“Arceus’ plates...t That's a new one to me. But I kinda like it.

perched against the Inn wall. A shadow swept out of the graffitied container and flew ove the usage of perched and a flying type. Nice unrelated parallellism.


“Larvitar can be so stubborn, can’t they? My boyfriend lives right near a colony of them. The trick is finding their soft spot. Does she have a nickname?” Alec shook his head. “Well, I suppose I’ll just have to tell Jasmine you’re not interested. Non sequiter... how'd we go from Larvitar to the battle, I thought this was just a tour?

... A Crobat in the opener and a steel type gym... I wonder...


Henri Perrineau, because all communication out of the city was completely cut off to the citizens. He continued denouncing the team, however, perhaps because there wasn’t much else to be done. Intriguing name, but not sure the However should be there since the perhaps is right next to it.

Also, what happened to a good old fashioned Pidgeotto with a hastily scrawled note?


We’ve got Pokémon same as you! Go, Barboach, Skiploom, Baltoy!” Its Discipline you lack, I suspect


“Jasmine will not be joining us.” Alec turned, curious. The girl was wearing an odd smirk and was reaching for her belt. “It’s just us, Alec. Why don’t you hand that bag over and be a good boy?”

As I suspected, how about a heck of a battle right here?

And where is Jasmine in al of this?


“Yes! I feel so trapped on the sea. I’m not a water person,” he laughed, seating himself gingerly between Logan and the large pile of bags spilling to the floor. A loud hiss told him he had sat on a Glameow, who promptly tore into his exposed skin with delight. Chase yelped, throwing the cat a good fifteen feet away from him. It landed delicately, turning its intelligent gray face to him and turning its nose up, swaggering away to find its trainer. Chase sat, wincing and letting out a cry.
Poor Galmeow. but if it ever evolves, please feel free to squash the thing...


“We’ve got to heat this pole up, Magby. We need to get this whole room hot. Aim as high as you can on the pole and use Heat Wave. And don’t let up, whatever you do.” He's going for the sprinklers, maybe? Good boy!


“And what would they be?” The blue creature in his arms stirred, glowing brilliantly and turning to face the loud female voice. Preston lifted it slowly, all attention drawing to the blinding new source of light. It was a Manaphy.

Let's see how you write the legendaries then.

---

Alright, so to ease your pain a little, here's a complete comprehensive of things you need to know in order to continue reading without your brains hurting.

First, a character list of important players.

*Snip*

First off, speaking as someone who's made this mistake, info dumps between chapters, not the most preferred method. Sure, lots of books and oublished authors have done it, but a good many of them don't... because they're supposed to be announcing the characters in the story.

And the problem, at least for me, wasn't so much the introduction of the characters themselves, its that they're not sticking and they're not memorable, yet. Lotsa words, no actions, and the dialogue isn't exactly clear as to who's doing what. I don't like the "he said She Said He replied They did" stuff either, its sounds an awful lot like " She sells seashells by the seashore" but you need it here, we're getting lost in who's doing what.

Part of the problem is where you introduced them; into a setting where there's nothing they CAN do, other than sit on a Glameow, and there's really nothing you can do to change that until you get them off the ship. Right away, I connected (and disliked...) Alec and his PKMN team. I pretty much pegged Natalia in the gym, though more as a hunch than relatability but these two on the cruise ship, its like throwing puddy at a wall, its not sticking to the wall. Best suggestion, when they get off the ship, get them and their Pokemon doing something defining for each of them (if you haven't already, I'm writing this as I go) and do an almost re-introduction. You don't need to repeat the backstory you've told so far about Tracey being dead, and how Logan doesn't want to give him up, and how the other guy (See? I can't even remember his name.) would rather Dialga just remove that part of the timeline altogether, but get them doing something the way you started Alec.

Also, I still don't know who any of those real-life people are, but she's cute. Rowr.

“Could you come help me turn this thing off? It’s gonna bug me ‘til I figure it out.” But of course.

Needs a line break in there before but, I feel.


Six rounds of artillery flew into the portly young man, stopping him cold. I'm assuming that Jesse is the portly young man, but the last gun mentioned was his so the reader is kinda waiting for him to be the first to shoot. Also, and this is just a cultural thing, but you've done this a couple of times with gender neutral names (Logan...) "Jesse" I've met people of both genders by that name. But "Jess", at least around me, is only used to abbreviate the feminine form. Possibly, because around me he ratio of male to female is 1 to 12, but something to keep in mind when you're writing in a forum where a people form any state or country is going to potentially read it.


“Gabriel, I didn’t mean - he shot, and I...” Gabriel ignored her, cradling the blonde head of the fallen guard. When reinforcements arrived, the other thieves were long gone, but their leader was still on his knees, unmoving and stone-faced, unable to forgive himself for his brother’s death.

…............................................ ..... ...........................................

Two years later, Gabriel Pahria could be barely recognized as his former self. The figure standing in the center of the weathered lighthouse was still lean, but his shoulder were broader, his stature straight, composed. His hair had changed from thick chestnut to reedy, damaged crimson. His eyes, though still a piercing blue, were hard, unyielding. His back, visible upon removal of his fitted gray jacket, was covered with scarlet flames, black smoke billowing to either shoulder blade and a magnificent golden phoenix erupting from the center, climbing his spine to the base of his neck. Gabriel stared silently at his struggling guest. I love it, the whole section is very well writtem, great insight to Gabriel. Not sure the front of the chapter is the best place for it?




trapping and brutal murder of Lance, the former Champion. Well, that certainyl tells us what we need to know for the story, but you might want to go back over THAT little detail, since you're killing off (have killed off) one of the more prominent Gen1 characters.

Also, most code systems actually have two codes: the "I need help" code, and the "I need help but you're probably gonna need the really big stick" code. Especially since putting in a code o sommon someone to a trap is going to defeat the purpose of a code...


A click and release of a loud, screeching whistle told Alec that the woman’s orders had come too late - the fire alarm had been triggered by the intense heat emanating from the pillar. smart man.


“They’re all five blocks down, dealing with complications. Well, here's a complication for you...


Alex Gideon
Alec...wha?
She kicked her now useless Poké Gear ten yards ... Are these things not Wrist phones? Doesn't Alec have one that... you know... your BOSS called him on? Surely the redhead can remember SOMEONE's phone number?


“I’ve sentenced us to death.” Doubtful, if you could; you know, swim...


She was within earshot, but her ears were now ringing, and she was resorting to acting purely on impulse and sight. To her left, an older man with grey hair was lying prone on the ground, a miniature aqua-blue creature standing between him and a very tall woman, a Swellow and Staraptor circling their prey. The little blue imp had projected an orb around itself and its master, but the repeated attacks were wearing it down - Logan could see its tiny body heaving with the effort.

Sweet, a not ovewrpowered Legendary doing, well, normal things. I could kiss you, but, well, that would be weird, and require matter dissplacing teleportation and well... [/sarcasm]


“How hard is it to break one Protect? ...You've ever had the pleasure of battling a wild Meditite in a video game, have you?



“It’s Will! Champion Will has arrived!” Nearly all fighting ceased, foe and friend alike awed by the beautiful wide wings of Lugia spread above them. And let's see how this one plays out...


Gabriel was clinging onto his Gliscor for dear life, still not completely at ease with flying. It was curious that the leader of a group so taken with the skies be afraid of heights, but he never said a word to his teammates, and nobody ever asked. i find it ironic that the man afraid of heights is clinging to a Pokemon reonowned for NOT ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO "FLY"



On the ground, efforts had redoubled on both sides - Team Skye seemed determined that as little opposition remain as possible when Will joined the fight., That's probably a good idea, when one is knowingly about to face a LUGIA.

Also, enjoying the slight sleight of hand here, I'm betting Skye is slightly more interested in a Lugia than what Alec has to offer, unless his prized possession is a Silver Wing...


Chase was down four Pokémon, depending entirely on his Nidoking and Torkoal to defend himWait, the Nidoking was his? I didn't get that impression, though it was the old guy's. The way the story read, i"finishing what its trainer started" almost makes it sound like Nidoking was doing what the guy behind Chase (So that
s his name!) was attempting to do, but that didn't make sense either.


Not fifty feet above the wounded, increasingly few moving shapes loomed the two wide-winged beasts Lugia and Gliscor... Gliscor aren'tt hat big. Not that an RC plane couldn't take down an F16, but that would probably require said RC plane going through an air intake...


And that sentance structure doesn't make much sense. I think there should be a comma after shapes.

You know what I'm wondering? This is a steel type town, right? Pewter city is full of trainers with Geodude, right? Ghost types abound in Ecruteak, no? So where are all the Magnemite? Magneton? Flying Pokemon who can learn DISCHARGE?


the doors to the gym broke open. That took longer than expected. Fire Alarms even in a gym where you don't want them dousing someone's beoved Charizard, should override the any lockouts almost immediately unless someone's stuffed a desk in front of the door.

---

Will, Champion of the Johto Region, leapt from the long neck of his trusted companion. Lugia roared, flaring its wings and staring longingly at the shrinking figure in the dark sky. Gabriel had chosen to retreat, giving the cowardly order to his teammates before turning in mid-battle and fleeing. The remnants of Team Skye were now left leaderless and confused, and the dark figures were running in every direction. Okay, so maybe I was wrong, or is Gabriel simply changing the field of battle?


“I’m glad to see this city still has somebody to help in a time of crisis,” Will muttered, “It helps these days. Team Skye isn’t the only group poisoning Johto right now.” Preston nodded, glancing about the ruined streets before replying. interesting...


“Gabriel gets more lethal by the day, though, Will. He’s after something new. I’m not entirely sure what. But I think it has to do with Ho-oh.” Will sighed.

“When does it not? He needs to be headed off, and soon. Where was Jasmine in all of this?” Preston shook his head.

Okay, wrong bird.


retching I'm familiar with that being speled Wretching, but I looked it up to be sure. Thanks for teaching me!


No further details about the situation, why two people had chosen to take a swim in the Olivine City Gym. clever


Gabriel twofold: One, for not capturing the boy or his possession, and two, for allowing herself to question whether she was right in following the man to begin with. If it makes you feel any better, Toots, you're now a lot closer to that backpack than you think you are... Lots of things go missing in Hospitals, you know...


“Rainbow wing.” Both men stopped short at Alec’s uttered words.

“I beg your pardon?” Alec sat up, much to the displeasure of Dr. Sonclair, and stared with urgency into Will’s eyes.

“They were after my bag. I know why...I own a Rainbow Wing.”

Welp, right concept, worng bird...


a good two thirds of the cruised cruise



“I was at the top of my game before I met your guys. Traveling with you was incredible, life-changing. We’ve been through so much, we’ve been through a war, love, loss, all that. But we’re past that now. And when I travel with you, it’s like these...ghosts just prevent me from doing anything worthwhile. Nothing earth-shattering.”

“But Chase, we have to keep together, Tracey said so, you’re -”

“I know, I know, I’m destined to...” Their argument was interrupted by the sliding door of the hospital wing. Will and Preston emerged, both faces set. Oh dear, that "D" word... Destiny. So often abused in Pokemon fic. You've done so well with Manaphy, Lugia didn't really do anything but be a large bird, so don't blow it now. Phht!


“But why not just like...keep him here? Or I dunno, put him in disguise or something?” Will shook his head. Realizing you won't have read my first comment yet, but Will's action shoulkd not be coupled to whichever person is saying this.


it’s the three that stand here before you.” There's four people in the room. One of them is talking to Alec, the other is Alec, so who's the thrid person Will's referring to? or are they being haunted by Tracey's ghost?


Natalia ran a clean twelve miles outside the radius of Goldenrod before pausing If that girl can run from Olivine to Goldenrod, what the farfigneuton'd heck is she doing in Skye? The girl should be running cirlces around Mr. Bolt!
---
And because I read comments (Although I think Sidey coverede everything I'd have said)



I like the scene with Natalia waking up. Very nice and well-detailed. But I don't like the "luminous" burns. That makes it sound like they're glowing. Heh.
There's a reason they glow...that will be addressed shortly Scorched, by a Ho-Oh, the feather of which is in Alec's backpack...


The explanation for both of these questions can be found in my previous fanfics - but basically, in a nutshell, in Destined, Chase challenged Will to a Pokemon battle - thus both winning his respect, as well as discovering he had a psychic connection with his Pokemon, which gave him a huge advantage in battle.


This, bad thing. COver it in the story. I felt confident enough in Will's speech and theirs about "The War" And "I trust my life" scenes, but others disagree, so details in the story, please.

---

“This is guesswork, Chase. Will and I believe Gabriel, their leader, has a personal need to connect with Ho-Oh, beyond the need of the team. He has been ruthless in his search for the deity, and owning an item that would allow such a connection to it...well, it would certainly give him power unheard of.” Hmm, Ho-Oh are not know for being Recreationists, although it did give new life for the DOgs, so what if ELijah is stuffed and mounted somewhere?


“Well that’s why we’re here, Alec. We’re going to protect you from him.” Chase grunted. “It’s very important that we do,” Preston said, locking his eyes onto the white-haired trainer and frowning. Seperate paragraphs between Ches and Preston's lines


“Alec said as much to Will earlier. It’s not our place to take a family heirloom from Alec, and honestly, Chase, I’m disappointed in your response to this situation.” Chase looked bewildered. Why? Not knowing its an eirloom, The top two places I can think fo putting it is Indigo Plateu and the vault under Mt. Silver... there is a vault under Mt. Silver, isn't there?


“You might want to work on your public image a bit, Chase. People expect you to act more like a hero.” No, actually, I'm kinda expecting him to act like a prick.

Logan's gonna have to wake up soon, she can't keep relying on other people claiming how epic she is. Even if her head is in the clouds, she must've fought pretty well in Olivine if Will recognized them.


“It was not ‘dumb’, Alec. Three years ago, Karen, now-deceased member of the Elite Four, opened a portal that had been closed a long time in our world. A portal, between our world and a world that never should have existed. A world where humans lived without knowledge of Pokémon. And with assistance from a gang of loyal followers, Karen led an invasion of this world. An invasion that was soon responded to.” Alec’s eyebrows knotted together. Ooh! Cool concept. Not sure I'd read it, but I love the concept.

Although we've now crossed into a realm of "Logan and Chase being mega super awesome heroes. Be careful where you tread...


...Poor Natalia...


“As the senior member of the group, I would like to propose traveling to Mahogany Town.” Alec’s body tensed. Well, that's sorta on the way.


He looked to Logan for support.

“I think we should go to Mahogany Town, Chase.” Chase looked stunned and betrayed. Before he or Alec could speak, Preston cut in.


You need to respace your lines here, too. I count three seperate lines He looked, "I think" and :Chase looked"

And personal taste, but I wouldn't be against your finding a way to mark flashback as flashbacks, its kindajarring to get halfway intoa scene and find a dead guy still has a house... Although the first tip-off was Logan being coy.


“Thank you, sir.” The screen went blank, Professor Hume’s face gone. Chase ran his fingers through his hair, heading back into the bathroom to finish his shave. He didn’t know how to continue putting on a game face to Logan when the truth would need to be revealed eventually. That Tracey Morgan had been dead for three months seemed to have gone completely over her head. Okay, now I'm confused. She seemed to be aware of this on the cruise ship, so if this is a flashback, we REALLY need to find a beter place for it...



“Your mother’s very busy, Alec. The Poké Gear is causing excitement, all over, people are excited, and -” Her speech was interrupted by shattering glass from the room they had just vacated. Juliet shrieked and threw the door open, looking into the library. The window had been destroyed, and in the center of the foyer was a dark rock, surrounded by shards of glass. Alec made to pick it up and Juliet stopped him cold.

“What is it?” he asked, incredulous.

“Don’t touch it. Someone just threw that rock.”
That seems rather unplausible, I don't think Alexznder Grahm Bell was stoned for the telephone... and the Apple guy certainyl was nto stoned for improving it... that's allt eh Poke Gear is, a smartphone.


Poké Ball-shaped coaster on the coffee table. I'mma gonna be a amartaft, but how well does setting your drink on something round actually work?


Magby sneezed, singeing Preston’s plain cream-colored curtains. Alec looked over at the sleeping nineteen-year-old. And that would be why I named one of my Magby Plasthmatic


“Lar, tar!” Larvitar was impatient, running small circles in preparation for their exercise.

“Alright, alright, let’s go!” Well, alright, I'kll give Alec some credit, if his Pokemon do enjoy the training session, despite his nearly killing his Machop


Forty five minutes of intense cardio had proved too difficult for Magby, who was now being carried in Alec’s arms as the jog through the docks of Olivine Harbor continued. I thought Magby had a free pass, or have we skipped a day? Or did Alec count that day he spent in the Hospital as the skip day? The prick.


“Dude, nobody’s coming for me Of course they're not coming, they're already here.

---

he trust trusts


The Bellsprout was snaking closer, its wide pink mouth opening, revealing tiny but sharp black teeth. I'm pretty sure they're pearly silver, but anyway, since it ts attached to her leg, why isn't Logan using Low Kick, or Stomp? Use the other foot!

"Let's play with a Fearow! That sounds liek fun! yeah!



“It’s not something I want from you. I want a chance to explain my actions, I feel that you deserve that. Gabriel doesn’t even know I’m here, if he knew...Alec, he doesn’t want to hurt you. He only wants to see Elijah again, if he -” And I like being me sometimes.


“Larvitar!” Alec cried in a mixture of shock and gratification. This certainly solved a lot of problems. Larvitar dropped the slab of rock, pacing back to her owner and crossing her miniscule arms, expecting praise. I want that Larvitar. but tell me, how did it reach Natalia's head? It doesn't come up to her shins?



“You’re not going anywhere, Alec. I’m never losing you again. It’s gonna be the four of us, for now, and it’s going to be that way for a long time. You hear me?” well, at least she's not attached to "foreve and always"


-Who is your favorite character?
-Who is the most intriguing character?
-Whose story do you think this is?
-What do you predict happening from here?
-Do you feel Pokemon are being utilized heavily enough?

-Haven't got one yet, but Alec's Pokemon are all in the running.
-Potentially one of two, Poor Logan's coping has me intriguedm because I've been in similar loss, bu also see 3)
-Gonna go on a limb here, and say its still Natalia's to tell. We've told about everyone's so far except hers. And while you you have most of my predictions to date up in my review, the only thing left I see is figuring out why a Ho-Oh singed her, and finding both her closure (probably in/through Alec) and Gabriel's own closure.

But don't change the pace of the story for them, and don't close them up in flashbacks, the way you have the others. Don't let me influence the story, or anyone else. let's jsut keep going and see if I'm right?

-Pokemon should not HAVE to carry a Pokemon story. If anything, they should be characters, and you've doen pretty well at that. I might like to see more than snippets of Chase and Logan's teams, but they realyl aren't main characters.


Team Skye took Carrie three months later. Her husband would never meet the miraculous, beautifully impossible child. quick Math, Preston stepped down how many yaears ago? and how old are the current characters... probably not one of them...


“Oldest chooses first,”

“And now, the less experienced trainer,”
Ouch...




---

“Do you want first aid?” That's an odd way to phrase it.

I seemd to have read throguh CH8 without stopping much, so I'll go back and read it again, but I'm gonna post this now so you have it to work from.

Again, don't let us dictate the story, unless that's your intention. We can Mad Lib all we want, but this is your story, and it wouldn't be fair to you, or to the characters if we started dictating the story for you. If that makes sense.

One other one, I really don't think you needed to tell us right aqway how the Manaphy came to him. IIs not an integral part of the story as a Pokemon, and the backstory doesn't show any sign of plugging in usefully. So leave it a mystery to us, and call it a day.

Bulba the Great!
10th November 2013, 8:38 PM
Glover, you are a god among mere mortals. That was an incredible catch-up marathon read that you just accomplished.

I shall humbly take most of what you say without comment, and answer a few of your (remarkably thorough) critiques!


Let's se what I can pick apart to pieces and dash hopes and dreams. Mwa. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

All my hopes and dreams have indeed been ruined. I'm never writing again. :P

Need a couple of line breaks there, or so I was taught, since you're showing the words of Person A and the action of Person B

Yes! Thank you for addressing this. Ironically, this is a lesson I've finally learned the hard way in my creative writing course this semester. All these years WASTED writing dialogue/actions the incorrect way.

Also, props for usage of a Crobat in the opening scene. I liek Crobats, you see.

Me too! LeafGreen was my first experience using one and I loved it. Vastly misunderstood creatures, Crobat.

Yes, I think I'm gonna really not like this guy.

I'm iffy on Alec. I am trying so hard not to make him a generic Ash Ketchum wannabe but I also don't want people to HATE him. But I'm glad you find him interesting, at least.

Well that certainly says a lot about Alec's ego. Namely, that its approximately 350% of the size of an obese Wailord

Quote of the day.

Has me piqued. Me thinks that if I'd read the other two, I might have a better clue as to what the heck they;re talking about, but I don't know that for sure. If I'm right, you'e still left enough of a hook for me as a new reader without ruining the suspense of information. So good for you. Just don't drag it out too long, or I;ll have to dribble my Ditto on your face. Kay?

K.

... A Crobat in the opener and a steel type gym... I wonder...

Hm?

Also, what happened to a good old fashioned Pidgeotto with a hastily scrawled note?

Lolz. Carrier Pidgey are long forgotten today.

Poor Galmeow. but if it ever evolves, please feel free to squash the thing...

Preaching to the choir, here.

First off, speaking as someone who's made this mistake, info dumps between chapters, not the most preferred method. Sure, lots of books and oublished authors have done it, but a good many of them don't... because they're supposed to be announcing the characters in the story.

And the problem, at least for me, wasn't so much the introduction of the characters themselves, its that they're not sticking and they're not memorable, yet. Lotsa words, no actions, and the dialogue isn't exactly clear as to who's doing what. I don't like the "he said She Said He replied They did" stuff either, its sounds an awful lot like " She sells seashells by the seashore" but you need it here, we're getting lost in who's doing what.

Part of the problem is where you introduced them; into a setting where there's nothing they CAN do, other than sit on a Glameow, and there's really nothing you can do to change that until you get them off the ship. Right away, I connected (and disliked...) Alec and his PKMN team. I pretty much pegged Natalia in the gym, though more as a hunch than relatability but these two on the cruise ship, its like throwing puddy at a wall, its not sticking to the wall. Best suggestion, when they get off the ship, get them and their Pokemon doing something defining for each of them (if you haven't already, I'm writing this as I go) and do an almost re-introduction. You don't need to repeat the backstory you've told so far about Tracey being dead, and how Logan doesn't want to give him up, and how the other guy (See? I can't even remember his name.) would rather Dialga just remove that part of the timeline altogether, but get them doing something the way you started Alec.

Yeah, I wasn't trying to just pass this information between chapters, it just hadn't worked its way into the story yet. As I said, all the relevant background information about characters WILL be revealed through the coming chapters. It's a lot of baggage to sort through.

Also, I still don't know who any of those real-life people are, but she's cute. Rowr.

Don't I know it. Look her up; her name's Britt Robinson. Gorgeous girl.

I'm assuming that Jesse is the portly young man, but the last gun mentioned was his so the reader is kinda waiting for him to be the first to shoot. Also, and this is just a cultural thing, but you've done this a couple of times with gender neutral names (Logan...) "Jesse" I've met people of both genders by that name. But "Jess", at least around me, is only used to abbreviate the feminine form. Possibly, because around me he ratio of male to female is 1 to 12, but something to keep in mind when you're writing in a forum where a people form any state or country is going to potentially read it.

Hmm, fair point. Jesse was almost verbatim described/conceived due to my love of Bruno Kirby's character in "When Harry Met Sally", so I guess it never struck me as odd that a man be named Jesse, or "Jess"

I love it, the whole section is very well writtem, great insight to Gabriel. Not sure the front of the chapter is the best place for it?

Hmmm, interesting. I guess I could change the placement...

Well, that certainyl tells us what we need to know for the story, but you might want to go back over THAT little detail, since you're killing off (have killed off) one of the more prominent Gen1 characters.

I kinda wanted it this way; certainly I can go into more detail about the power changes in the Elite Four/Gym Leaders, but I kinda found it irrelevant as it's casualties from a war. Maybe I could clear this up? Idk.

Well, here's a complication for you...

Welp, the 'x' vs. 'c' key fiasco strikes again.

Sweet, a not ovewrpowered Legendary doing, well, normal things. I could kiss you, but, well, that would be weird, and require matter dissplacing teleportation and well... [/sarcasm]

Ahaha, the words are enough.

...You've ever had the pleasure of battling a wild Meditite in a video game, have you?

OH TRUST ME, I have. The little blue bastards...

i find it ironic that the man afraid of heights is clinging to a Pokemon reonowned for NOT ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO "FLY"

Yes, well.

Also, enjoying the slight sleight of hand here, I'm betting Skye is slightly more interested in a Lugia than what Alec has to offer, unless his prized possession is a Silver Wing...

SO close, but so wrong.

... Gliscor aren'tt hat big. Not that an RC plane couldn't take down an F16, but that would probably require said RC plane going through an air intake...

Very valid point.

You know what I'm wondering? This is a steel type town, right? Pewter city is full of trainers with Geodude, right? Ghost types abound in Ecruteak, no? So where are all the Magnemite? Magneton? Flying Pokemon who can learn DISCHARGE?

Jasmine has them. But where's Jasmine...out of the equation :/

I'm familiar with that being speled Wretching, but I looked it up to be sure. Thanks for teaching me!

;)

Oh dear, that "D" word... Destiny. So often abused in Pokemon fic. You've done so well with Manaphy, Lugia didn't really do anything but be a large bird, so don't blow it now. Phht!

Cut me a break, the last story I wrote was entitled "Destined"! Trust me, it's not a whole bunch of weird prophecy chosen one prophecy stuff. Just...just...okay?

Scorched, by a Ho-Oh, the feather of which is in Alec's backpack...

You are a very smart person.

Hmm, Ho-Oh are not know for being Recreationists, although it did give new life for the DOgs, so what if ELijah is stuffed and mounted somewhere?

Well, not quite. In this canon, Ho-oh is THE GUY. Like, the almighty one. This will become abundantly clear in good time.

No, actually, I'm kinda expecting him to act like a prick.

I'm so glad this expectation had been created.

Although we've now crossed into a realm of "Logan and Chase being mega super awesome heroes. Be careful where you tread...

What they did will be shown. And they aren't superheroes.

...Poor Natalia...

RIGHT that's what I'm sayin!

And personal taste, but I wouldn't be against your finding a way to mark flashback as flashbacks, its kindajarring to get halfway intoa scene and find a dead guy still has a house... Although the first tip-off was Logan being coy.

Yeah, I'm thinking about going back and at least indicating "Flashback", at least as a placeholder until I figure out the precise timeline beyond 'pre-war, post-war, pre-death'

Okay, now I'm confused. She seemed to be aware of this on the cruise ship, so if this is a flashback, we REALLY need to find a beter place for it...

Yeah, it's definitely flashback.

I'mma gonna be a amartaft, but how well does setting your drink on something round actually work?

AHAHA meaning the coaster is round and has a Poke Ball design...wording failure at its finest.

And that would be why I named one of my Magby Plasthmatic

Clever.

I'm pretty sure they're pearly silver, but anyway, since it ts attached to her leg, why isn't Logan using Low Kick, or Stomp? Use the other foot!

I was taking a slight artistic liberty to make Bellsprout more sinister. And yeah, Logan using Low Kick would CERTAINLY dispel the superhero worry.

I want that Larvitar. but tell me, how did it reach Natalia's head? It doesn't come up to her shins?

Very strong thighs.

-Haven't got one yet, but Alec's Pokemon are all in the running. Okay, I can get behind that.
-Potentially one of two, Poor Logan's coping has me intriguedm because I've been in similar loss, bu also see 3)
-Gonna go on a limb here, and say its still Natalia's to tell. We've told about everyone's so far except hers. And while you you have most of my predictions to date up in my review, the only thing left I see is figuring out why a Ho-Oh singed her, and finding both her closure (probably in/through Alec) and Gabriel's own closure.

But don't change the pace of the story for them, and don't close them up in flashbacks, the way you have the others. Don't let me influence the story, or anyone else. let's jsut keep going and see if I'm right?

See, I already have a Gabriel flashback story set, so you may hate me in a few chapters. I'm so glad you like Natalia though. She's awesome. One of my two favorites to write for.

quick Math, Preston stepped down how many yaears ago? and how old are the current characters... probably not one of them...

There is NOT going to be an "No, Luke, I am your father" twist. Preston and Carrie were married fourteen years in the past, five years she's been dead, putting the 'impossible child' at five, even if it lived.

I seemd to have read throguh CH8 without stopping much, so I'll go back and read it again, but I'm gonna post this now so you have it to work from.

Thank you for posting! I would like to know more of your thoughts on this chapter, if you ever have time, but this has been...more than adequate, haha!

One other one, I really don't think you needed to tell us right aqway how the Manaphy came to him. IIs not an integral part of the story as a Pokemon, and the backstory doesn't show any sign of plugging in usefully. So leave it a mystery to us, and call it a day.

The importance in that flashback was more to set up precisely what was happening in Ecruteak, which will be important later. Plus, Preston post-Carrie.

Bulba the Great!
10th November 2013, 9:16 PM
Well then, here we are. Any and all thoughts are appreciated!

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Nine

-2005-

“Didn’t I tell you it was beautiful here?” Chase said, stretching his legs out in front of him, shutting his eyes peacefully and allowing a sigh of relief.

The war between NeoEarth and their own world had escalated to extreme levels of chaos, with entire cities being decimated - Saffron City had been razed to the ground, the Steward murdered and many other horrifying details that were piling so quickly that each new piece of news was just another grain of salt in the open wound. The Elite Four and Gym Leaders of Kanto and Johto were rallying an army to fight back against the militia of tanks and helicopters and other awful pieces of war equipment the people of NeoEarth were using, and a draft had been issued - Chase’s name included. This was all too painful and frightening for the fifteen-year-old, and with his Sceptile weakening every day he finally got Tracey, Logan and his girlfriend Kira to agree Kanto was no longer safe. Earlier in the month the four youths had stolen away from the entire continent, traveling southwest to Chase’s home country, Hoenn.

“I can’t help feeling like they need us back there…that we’re deserting,” Logan had said hesitantly when they had climbed onto the S.S. Charlize to set sail. Now, however, the young blonde-haired girl was blissfully unaware of war and pain, lying on a beach towel between Chase and Tracey on the sprawling beach outside Slateport City. She nodded in agreement with Chase’s statement, eyes closed in a beautiful world between sleep and consciousness. Kira had gone to purchase some Soda Pop from the sporting goods store further inland.

“If there’s one thing Hoenn’s known for, it’s the scenery.” Chase was allowing himself to tan again, as he had gotten frightfully pale during his time in Kanto. The sun felt amazing on his skin, and he let out another breath of relief. “I really missed this view,” he continued, opening his left eye very slightly to check on his Pokémon playing up on the tall dunes between the beach and the harbor city beyond. Absol was digging with his wide furry paws for some treasure or other. Nidorino was attempting to prod Sceptile into a sparring match, but Sceptile seemed beyond the ability to play - his eyes were jaundiced and saggy, his jade skin papery and hanging off his dreadfully thin frame. Tracey followed Chase’s gaze, staring at Sceptile and sitting up very quickly.

“Chase,” he began, but Chase didn’t need to be alerted; he had already noticed that his first Pokémon was staggering, falling before any of its teammates could help; Absol tried to catch him but Sceptile was rolling head over tail down the dune, crashing into the sandy base with a giant cloud of grit and dust.

“Sceptile!” Chase cried, jumping up from the towel, fearing the worst. The doctors had diagnosed his companion with a year to live almost exactly fourteen months ago; Chase had felt his luck wearing thin for a long time. Sceptile was lying prone in the sand, his once-muscular and sleek body now bent at odd angles, his long neck outstretched and his tongue hanging loosely from his open pink gums. He was emitting a high screeching sound of absolute agony.

Kira was found and the medics summoned, and Sceptile was pulled in the Emergency Care Ward in the Slateport Pokémon Center as quickly as possible, oxygen administered and many other tubes and wires hooked onto the Grass Pokémon. Only Chase was allowed in the room with his Pokémon, leaving Tracey, Logan, and Kira to wait outside, Kira pacing with her hands on her face.

“I wish I could help him,” the tall brunette girl said, staring through the single window at her boyfriend and biting her bottom lip so hard it drew blood. Tracey had his arm around Logan, who had her eyes shut, trying and failing to close the pain out. He stroked her long blonde hair numbly, his dark blue eyes staring but not truly taking in the world around him.

Chase spent a half hour in the room with Nurse Joy. The time stretched so slowly that when the white-haired youth emerged, Tracey was startled to register that it was barely dinner time. “How is he?” he asked, looking warily at Chase’s haggard expression.

Chase shook his head numbly. “He’s dead.” Kira rushed to the trainer’s side, grabbing at his arm and taking his head on her shoulder. Tracey and Logan leapt up, horrified.

“Oh, Chase…” Logan said, reaching out to take his hand and stroke it. Chase pulled away from everyone, choosing to stand alone at the window into the ward, his forehead attached to the glass.

“This is all his fault,” Chase said. His voice was level, devoid of emotion. Tracey and Logan exchanged glances. They knew he was talking about Vincent, the last trainer Sceptile had been used in battle against. “If he didn’t exist, Sceptile would be alive right now.” Kira went to wrap her arms around his waist, but he shrugged her off again, walking further away from his friends.

This was a true statement; Vincent, who had set off from Pallet Town at the same time as Logan and Tracey, had challenged Chase to a battle fourteen months ago. It culminated in a battle between the two boys’ starting Pokémon, Sceptile and a Charizard. Sceptile had put up a good fight, but eventually passed out...only to stand back up, going into what was referred to later as ‘Adrenaline Rush’, a rare condition a Pokémon occasionally passed into during battle. Essentially, Sceptile drained at its remaining years of life in an attempt to win the battle for his trainer. “Don’t get hung up over him, Chase,” Tracey advised, looking at the floor. “Sceptile wouldn’t want you to.” Chase was silent, his back to them.

“Chase? Can we get you something?” Kira asked. Chase again did not answer, his shoulders shaking through his jacket. Tracey registered that the boy was crying, sobs wracking his body, and chose to pointedly look anywhere but at his friend.

“Don’t forget, there’s still Snivy,” Logan said quietly, who unlike the others was staring straight at Chase, moving slowly toward him. Sceptile had been encouraged to mate before passing away, and Chase brought him to a breeding center, where the lizard met a very gentle Serperior he had taken a liking to. An egg had emerged a month later, soon hatching into a male Snivy, bearing little resemblance to his father, although Chase insisted he had Sceptile’s eyes. Chase turned around, eyes wide, cheeks stained and rosy.

“Snivy?! Do you think,” he said, his voice quivering, “that I could EVER look at that snake as anything other than a cheap knockoff of his dad?” Chase’s voice rose with emotion, and he clutched at his face, letting out a yell of anguish. He collapsed, rocking back and forth, all control forsaken for pure emotion. “I can’t, I can’t, how can I go on?” he asked, looking up at his friends with red eyes; they were all looking at him now. “How can I keep going without him? Sceptile was my baby, he was my best friend, he was my everything,” he said, words tumbling out now. He was cut off by Logan, who pulled his head to her chest and held him, rocking slowly with him. Tracey and Kira joined on, and the four trainers huddled in a single mass, not another word spoken.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Chase stood with his arms crossed, apart from Preston, Alec and Logan. He had to respect the way Alec conceded defeat to Preston; after his shock at Larvitar’s post-loss evolution, Chase had expected protests that Pupitar could continue the battle. Instead, Alec quietly returned the Pokémon and bowed his head slightly at Preston, accepting the ex-gym leader’s superior skill.

“Aren’t you happy for Pupitar?” Logan prompted, startled at the level of apathy Alec was exhibiting.

He nodded, his eyes on the ground, and kicked a small rock so that it skipped, ricocheting down the inclined slope the group had made camp on. “I’m just worried,” he said after a while. Preston had begun packing their equipment back into his large bag, and Chase stood torn between helping the older man and speaking with Logan and Alec.

“Worried? Why?” the blonde girl asked gently.

“Larvitar has been working toward evolution for ages. She was so sick and tired of being smaller than her opponents, she wanted to feel more on their level. But...this middle stage is so frustrating.” He kicked another rock. “Pupitar is so...limited. It can’t move! Not properly.”

Logan nodded in understanding. “I know that feeling. I had a Weedle, once. When it evolved, I felt so trapped using a Kakuna. It didn’t have any of the mobility or offensive power of its first form. But I just had to...play to his strengths. You know?” She had noticed Chase standing at a distance and turned to him for support.

“Pupitar will be great,” was all the young trainer could muster.

Preston stood up, hoisting his traveling bag over his broad shoulders and calling out to the three youths. “We should keep moving. At least get to the first cave of the tunnels by nightfall.” Logan and Alec nodded, but Chase frowned. “Do you have a problem with this plan, Chase?” Preston asked, nonplussed.

“Can’t we enjoy the seascape one last time before shutting ourselves in a cave for three days? We never even got to see Cape Peridot, I hear it’s gorgeous.” Chase looked to Logan for support on this; he was annoyed to find her looking at Alec.

“Is it safe to spend any more time out in the open? Especially as it gets dark, Chase, with those people out looking for Alec,” she said.

Preston stared at the Olivine sea in the distance, thinking. “Alec, do you particularly feel like going to the cape?” he asked. Alec shook his head, and Preston nodded. “Me neither. Chase, if you and Logan want to go swimming, you may. I’ll take Mr. Gideon to the Purpleheart caves. If you have trouble finding your way back tonight, call my Poké Gear.” Chase looked for approval from his friend, but Logan looked torn.

“Will you be okay?” she asked Alec.

Alec looked at Preston. “I’ll be fine. Seriously. Why’s everyone so worried about me?”

“We were assigned to keep you safe, Alec. You are our priority,” Logan said.

“He’s fine, Logan, he just said so. Come on, let’s go before the sun sets,” Chase said impatiently. He stepped away from the mountains, looking expectantly at Logan.

“There’s a shortcut to the water further east. If you go left, far left,” Preston said, pointed emphatically, “you’ll find the water comes in from the cliffs where the lighthouse sits.” Logan looked at Alec one last time.

“I’m fine,” he said. Logan nodded, turning and finally moving toward Chase.

“We won’t be too long,” Chase said, beginning to walk in the direction Preston had motioned, “Just enough time to...sort things out.” He turned, looking to Logan and beginning the descent.

“You’re not worried for them?” Alec asked Preston as they watched the fair-haired teenagers fade like shadows into the surrounding dark rocks.

“No,” Preston said simply. “Now let’s get moving. The sun’s going down. Is the Rainbow Wing safe?” Alec nodded. “Good. After you, sir.”

…................................................. ....................................

-2006-

“We have to go back to Kanto,” Chase said, watching Kira’s face carefully. The two were out to dinner for the first time in a month, and Chase had dressed up to commemorate this occasion; he was wearing a well-tailored corduroy jacket, hunter green button-up and black bowtie, with suspenders to boot. The same could not be said for Kira, who still looked nice but had hardly dressed up; she hadn’t even broken out her signature carmine purse that accompanied her for all occasions. This news didn’t seem to surprise her. She was drumming her fingers and twitching her left leg restlessly, and merely nodded at Chase’s announcement. “Okay, Kira, what’s wrong,” he said finally, voicing the question that had been building up for the past two weeks. Since the two had settled down together in a nice apartment in the Lavaridge Springs community, she had been growing increasingly cold.

“Why do you have to go back this time? Is it destiny related?” she asked, avoiding his question.

“Tracey had a dream -”

“Oh, of COURSE he had a dream. And dreams mean everything, don’t they?” She uncrossed her legs, looking fiercely at Chase, who was bewildered at her response.

“Bad things are happening in Kanto, very bad things. You know that, it’s why we left. But Logan and Tracey both have roots there, Logan’s family is still there, and well, yes, Tracey had a dream. But it was a special dream.”

“Oh, yes, a special dream, well I guess that is reason to throw ourselves back into the fire.”

“In this dream,” Chase continued, “Arceus came to visit him. He said it spoke to him, Arceus’ voice was inside his head, and he told Tracey we’ve run away, we’re meant to go back to Kanto and we will end the war.” Kira snorted. “It told Tracey he had to die,” Chase said, and the mood shifted slightly. Kira stopped looking derisive, at least. “Why would he make that up?” he asked finally.

“I’m not saying he made anything up, Chase. I had a dream last night that I adopted a Growlithe. That doesn’t mean I will.” Chase made to respond, but she cut him off. “Look, Chase, you can go if you want. Really. It’s your choice. But me? I have a life here, now. A good job. A reliable network. And I’m not giving that up.”

Chase opened his mouth, and shut it again. He played with the napkin in his lap and stared at the ziti in front of him. Silence stretched until he finally said, quietly, “What changed, Kira?”

“What?”

“We had a really good thing going. For like a year, I really loved you. I didn’t care why we broke up the first time, I was just...happy. You left Kanto behind for this, for us. What’s changed that you won’t go back?”

Kira sighed, looking long and hard at Chase before responding. “That’s the first time you’ve said the word ‘love’ to me in a month, Chase. To me, specifically. You say it all the time to Tracey, to...Logan.” There was special emphasis on the female’s name. “But sometime last month, you stopped saying it to me.” Chase shifted his weight uncomfortably in his chair. She knew, she had caught on finally. “You don’t want me to come back with you guys,” she said, inferring the unsaid wish Chase had made.

“That’s not true,” Chase said, but they both knew he was lying.

“I think you should go to Kanto, Chase. Go with your friends. Okay? I’m giving you permission.”

“Kira…”

“But Chase, Logan doesn’t love you. She likes you, a whole lot. But her heart belongs to Tracey. So please do me a favor, and choose someone else to devote yourself to. Because some girl out there deserves you. You’re a wonderful guy,” she said, and her voice was many things at once, but it was not sad. Chase felt as though he’d been slapped in the face repeatedly, and met her words with silence. He stood up, eventually.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” he said, and Kira smiled.

“Many things have changed, but your small bladder never will,” she said, and for some reason, this of all things brought tears to her eyes. “You don’t have to come back, Chase. I can pay for myself.” Chase took Kira’s hands, and got down on his knees in front of her, kissing both hands.

“You’ll always be my first love,” he said, and he meant it. Kira nodded.

“But not your last,” she said. Chase stood up, and buttoned the top button of his jacket. “Call me sometime, will you?” she continued, as he made to leave. Chase turned, nodding and smiling gently at Kira.

“The moment we get back.”

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Peridot Cape was gorgeous, and strangely empty. For being such a well-known tourist attraction, Chase supposed the recent scare in the city was keeping people from visiting the surrounding areas as well. The beach seemed to extend for miles on either side, shooting straight out to his right and curving gently northward to his left.

Logan and Chase stood for a long while, just staring out at the water, until Logan spoke. “What are you thinking?” she asked, looking at Chase’s face, framed by the fading day’s light.

“I’m thinking we should have stayed in Hoenn,” he said, staring in the approximate direction he knew his homeland was located.

“What makes you say that?”

“There was a lot we left behind when we came back to fight in the war,” Chase said. “Tracey died because of us. If we had stayed home...well, he’d be alive. Kira might not hate me.”

Logan reached out, taking his hand and squeezing it. “Kira doesn’t hate you, Chase. And as for Tracey...well, I think he knew he was going to die.” Chase was afraid she might start crying, but she didn’t. He wondered what had changed; even the slightest mention of Tracey would have reduced her to tears two days ago. “And Chase, if we hadn’t come back, Kanto wouldn’t exist. I don’t think any of our world would. Johto would probably be gone at this point, too. Maybe even Hoenn,” she continued, staring out at the point Chase had been staring. “We had to come back. And that’s that.”

“And you don’t hate me for bringing us to Johto? I know you were enjoying Unova, and I know you hate being dragged around while I do my thing,” he said, looking at her. She looked so different from when he had first met her; her hair was still its beautiful flaxen color, her eyes still swimming pools of turquoise, but there was distance in her eyes now.

“I don’t hate you, Chase. I could never hate you,” she almost whispered, holding his hand tighter.

“Well, then. That settles it. There’s only one way to move forward from here,” Chase said solemnly.

Logan moved closer to him. “What’s that?” she asked gently.

“Race you to the beach!” he cried, pushing her into the sand and bolting forward, causing Logan to sit, dumbfounded, staring in disbelief at her friend before she started laughing, her face flushing. He turned back, picking up a pile of sand and throwing it in her direction, his face lighting up in a smile that Logan hadn’t seen for more than a year, and then he turned and ran, arms flailing, toward the sea.

“No fair, you got a head start!” she shrieked, pushing herself up, feeling sand everywhere, on her jeans, her sweater, grits between her soft hands, and launching herself, pounding her feet against the coarse sand, but Chase was already at the waterline, throwing his jacket off and looking back at his friend, his mouth split into a wide smile.

“No way the water’s warm enough to swim in,” he said as Logan joined him in the shallow depths of the beach. Logan could feel the chill of the cooling autumn seawater on her bare feet, and she nodded agreement.

“We’ll just have to surf,” she said, grinning at him. The two stood in the water together for a second, breathing the salt air and just looking at each other, until Chase bolted back up the beach to their small pile of bags and shoes, pulling a Poké Ball from his bag and one from Logan’s, jogging back to the water’s edge and handing her the red-and-white sphere.

“After you, m’lady,” he said, indicating out to the expansive sea. Logan threw her orb, releasing her Blastoise right into the water. The large turtle Pokémon seemed momentarily disoriented, but then it let out a deep growl of approval and dove into the swells, paddling through its home environment with a deep smile of contentment on its face.

Logan turned to Chase. “And you, Mr. Tang,” she said, her eyes bright. He let out Starmie, its cerulean body and pink plating a departure from the traditional purple the starshape Pokémon was known to possess; a ‘shiny’, Preston had called it. The two trainers climbed onto their Pokémon and began a leisurely swim that would extend into the night.

…................................................. ....................................

Alec and Preston reached the entrance to the tunnels by nightfall; the last light of the day was dancing on the surface of the far-off sea. The way in was hidden; Preston had to show Alec the way the opening was cleverly concealed behind a sparse crop of brush (“Limber pine”, Preston called it) that grew specifically in mountain ranges; stunted, mostly branches with little green. Nevertheless, the bushes were positioned in a way that from even ten feet away, the gaping hole in the side of the mountain couldn’t be seen.

“You first,” Preston said, glancing around to make sure they were quite alone. Alec climbed around the bristly plants uncomfortably, cutting himself more than once and grunting a few times, but he disappeared swiftly and totally into the Purpleheart Tunnel, as Preston had named it. The older man followed, the last rays of sunlight catching in his light hair, illuminating more than ever the flecks of gray. He adjusted the plants behind him so that the tunnel was thrown into complete darkness.

“Do we have a flashlight, or something?” Alec asked, pulling out his Poké Gear and using the small light embedded in the top to look at Preston.

“Oh, we have better than a flashlight.” He released an Electivire, a great golden tiger-like creature that stood at eye level with his trainer. “Electivire, give us some light.” The Pokémon growled, rubbing his two black cable-like tails together, producing a shower of sparks that crackled and spit. Eventually a low humming resounded steadily through the tunnel, and Electivire glowed, illuminating the entire cavern.

For it was a cavern. Alec had been expecting some small, dingy, winding tunnel that had lots of dirt and unpleasant things. Instead, his jaw dropped at the majesty of the place, high-ceilinged and quite clean, the walls shining and reflecting Electivire’s light almost like glass. Deep veins of tyrian purple ran through the cobalt walls, and if Alec squinted he could make out faint traces of gold in the floor.

Preston stepped up beside him. “Nice, isn’t it?” he said, his deep, quiet voice resonating nicely in the wide space.

“This is amazing,” Alec said, turning on the spot in wonder. Preston smiled, looking up, and something about the way the light hit him revealed a man ten years younger.

“Well, this is as far as we said we’d go until Chase and Logan return. Let’s get a little further in, and we can set up sleeping bags and the like.” Alec nodded in agreement, still astounded by his surroundings. The two set up camp, Electivire lighting the area for them until Preston could send his Ursaring to fetch some branches of limber pine, which Alec then had Magby ignite, the orange embers spreading into a deep red fire. Preston pulled some loose smooth boulders from the cavern into some semblance of a circle around the fire and set a pot over it. “Now watch this,” he said, his eyes crinkling in a smile. The gray-haired man produced a Manaphy, the tiny blue imp filling the pot to the rim with crystal-clear pure water.

“Where did you get a Manaphy?” Alec asked, stunned. Preston merely smiled, shaking his head slightly. “Seriously, isn’t Manaphy super rare?” Before Alec could push the topic any further, Manaphy was back inside her Premier Ball, and Preston had moved the conversation away from the mystery.

“Logan was right on point back there, Alec.” The boy blinked, not quite sure what Preston meant. “Part of being a successful trainer is learning to play a Pokémon’s strengths, and how to cover for their weaknesses. The type match-up is only the first of many parts. Pupitar is going to be a completely different creature from Larvitar, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless.”

“I know that,” Alec said, slightly frustrated, “I’m not a toddler. I HAVE learned things, you know.”

Preston raised his eyebrows. “You have? Then you know that Pupitar will absolutely be able to sense you lack of faith in her ability.” Alec lowered his gaze. “And won’t that work wonders for her strength.” The boy nodded in glum response. “I’m not trying to tell you off, Alec. I just thought maybe the words of a retired gym leader might be -”

“No, this is helpful,” Alec said, his voice meek. “I never considered that Pupitar might feel she’s let me down somehow.”

Preston shifted so that his hands could stretch closer to the fire, rubbing the rough skin together. “You remind me a lot of me at your age, Alec.” Alec look surprised. “Oh, you’re certainly more headstrong. A little more reckless. But your eagerness, your commitment, your spirit...very similar.” Preston scratched at a spot on his leg, staring at the fire.

“I don’t have your skill,” Alec said.

“No,” Preston agreed, smiling. Alec’s face fell slightly; he’d hoped Preston would deny this statement immediately. “But nobody does until they’ve been a gym leader, seen and learned from so many different faces and battles.”

“I see,” Alec said. He rummaged through his bag, pulling out a water bottle and taking a prolonged sip.

“You know, Alec, I felt my heart skip a beat when Will first told me your name.”

Alec swallowed the water, considering this. “Why?” he asked finally, perplexed.

“Carrie wanted to name our child Alec, if it was a boy,” Preston answered softly.

“Was Carrie your wife?” Alec asked, knowing the answer already; Preston nodded. The boy looked the man full in the face for the first time, taking in the haggard stubbled cheeks, the bags under the eyes, the thick eyebrows and strong jaw; the eyes that only lived when they smiled. It was a face full of sadness, but also warmth, kindness.

“You said...IF it was a boy...did the baby turn out to be a girl?”

Preston smiled with his mouth, but his eyes remained gray and reserved. “I never met our child. Team Skye got to her first.” Alec did not know what to say to this; he reached hesitantly to pat Preston’s arm, but thought better of it. “You also grew up for a while right down the street from me,” Preston said. “Your grandmother used to borrow Teddiursa from me so you could have your fun with a Pokémon before you could legally own one.

Alec let out a noise of understanding and recognition. “Ursaring! THAT’S the Teddiursa from the beach?” Many things clicked for the young man at this moment. “You’re the tall guy with the pretty wife!” Preston smiled, nodding.

“She was beautiful.” The two sat a while by the fire in mostly silence, Alec reeling over the revelation. A falling stalactite and the scuttling of a Paras by the northern fork of the tunnel broke the energy of unspoken words swimming between the two; suddenly, Alec stood up.

“It’s been so long. Where are Chase and Logan?”

Preston reached into his bag, looking for his Poké Gear. “Here, call them,” he said, handing Alec the device. The boy took it, considering for a moment, before handing it back.

“I don’t want to interrupt...whatever they’re doing.” Preston raised his eyebrows again. “Treat others the way you want to be treated, I guess,” he continued. This elicited an impressed nod from the older man, who put the gear back in his bag. “So, you’ve seen some interesting things, huh?” Preston nodded, smiling and leaning back against the luminous boulder behind him. “Tell me the top five best battles you’ve ever had.”

Preston chuckled, running his right hand through his graying hair. “Where to begin?”

…................................................. ....................................

-2006-

Air was rushing by Chase’s stubbled face; he was falling, falling, forever falling, the ground far below yet immediately in front of him. He was going to crash! Wait a minute, he said, reason catching up with him, I don’t have stubble, I’m sixteen, I can’t GROW sexy old man stubble. “This is all a dream!” he yelled. A red-haired man sped past him, mounted on a six-winged fiery beast.

“If this were a dream, you’d be waking up right around...now!” the man said in a high, cold voice. Chase didn’t wake up; he kept falling in his old man body. The ground sped up at him, and then impact was made; except the ground wasn’t solid, in fact it was water. He was in the water! But I don’t have any way to stay afloat, he realized, Where’s Logan when you need her? Right on cue, the blonde-haired girl surfed up beside him. Chase realized neither he nor Logan were soaked; in fact, the water didn’t seem to be made of water at all.

“Can I catch a ride?” he shouted through gulps of water that wasn’t wet. Logan nodded, extending a beautiful pale arm and pulling him on her floatation device. Chase realized with a relief his body wasn’t old anymore, but he still had a beard. He and Logan floated along the dry sea wordlessly, although he had many things he wanted to say to her.

“Kira says you don’t love me,” he said, looking at his friend. Her eyes were larger than he remembered. Logan shook her head, her hair suddenly much shorter.

“I don’t love you. I love Tracey.” Chase’s heart skipped a beat. It skipped several beats, actually. In fact, his heart stopped beating altogether.

“You can’t love Tracey,” he complained, pointing to a motionless body floating just beyond his reach, “Tracey’s dead.”

Logan shook her head again, her expression not changing. “You were never supposed to come back to Kanto, Chase. You’ve killed us all.” Her hair grew long again, but suddenly it was deep ruby red, and her face sagged and grew agitated, as if a fire had ravaged it.

“We don’t deserve to be loved,” the girl with the burnt face said in a hollow voice, reaching out and grabbing Chase, pulling him towards her; he thought they were going to kiss, but suddenly he was passing through her body, burning with her, the flames excruciating.

The boy woke up still screaming and sweating, as if on fire. Logan was lying next to him, wide awake, watching him anxiously. “Chase? Chase? Are you alright?” Chase sat up, leaning over and throwing up on the bit of floor Logan wasn’t occupying. His face was drenched; he grabbed it immediately.

“No beard,” he said with a relief. His next thought was of Tracey, and he jumped up, looking around the tent wildly. Tracey was a small distance from him, curled up with Bulby and Quilber (his Quilava) wrapped in his arms. Logan placed a hand on Chase’s shoulder, brow furrowed in concern.

“Were you having another nightmare?” she asked, turning him to look at her, feeling his forehead. “Your fever’s breaking, thank goodness.” Chase shook his head wildly. Tracey stirred, disturbed by all the noise that was atypical of three a.m. in the deep south of Fuchsia City, the only area of Kanto completely removed from war. The three travelers had arrived in Kanto yesterday not via ferry, but by a small private biplane rented under Kira’s name.

“Chase? What’s wrong?” Tracey asked, rubbing his eyes. Chase was breathing slower, but his eyes jumped and he yelped at the sound of Tracey’s voice.

“Oh, thank god, you’re alive,” he said, kneeling down by his younger friend’s side and hugging him. Bulby coughed, rolling over and continuing his peaceful slumber.

“Of course I’m alive, why shouldn’t I be?” Tracey asked, alarmed. Logan was frowning at Chase.

“No reason, no reason. Sorry for waking you guys,” Chase muttered. He looked at the pile of vomit that had just recently parted with his stomach. “Do you want me to clean that up?” he asked guiltily.

“Chase...what happened in the dream?” Logan asked, her arms crossed and her eyes clouded, confused and afraid. This was so unlike Chase, who had been a complete wreck the past two days. Chase shook his head, going into his bag for some cleaning equipment. Logan bent down next to him, and Tracey crawled across the floor, so both trainers were looking Chase in the eye.

“Is it about Kira?” Tracey asked gently, not pushing. Chase shook his head, averting his eyes and going to scrub the floor.

“Why were you worried Tracey was dead?” Logan prompted.

Chase sighed, leaning back so that he was sitting on his heels. “It was a really bizarre dream, guys, I don’t think it meant anything. But...Tracey was floating. We were in the water, Logan, and Tracey was kind of...dead, facedown, hair swimming all around him, just beyond our reach.” Logan put her hands to her mouth. “It was lame,” Chase added, not looking Tracey in the eye. All three of them knew that Tracey held a great deal of store by dreams ever since his visit from Arceus.

“Did anything else happen, in this dream?” Tracey said, ignoring the detail about himself. Logan shot him a cryptic look.

Chase shook his head. “No, not really. Well. You told me we shouldn’t have come back,” he said, looking at Logan. “You said we were all going to die.” Tracey and Logan were silent. “Like I said...it was just a dream.” He couldn’t help feeling he had just borne witness to some sort of vision of the future, and the next morning did nothing to assuage his fear.

The three awoke to screams, flames, and the whirring of motors. Shells lit up the sky behind the Safari Zone. Fuchsia City had officially entered the war.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Logan was a little ways ahead of Chase on the water, her Blastoise leaving Chase and his Starmie in its wake. The sky was almost too dark to see, save the many stars that were out, gems set in a velvety blue display, blazing forever in the endless night. Quite a bit of time had passed since leaving Preston and Alec; neither of them thought anything of it.

“Keep up!” she called back to Chase, who let out a moan.

“I can’t, Starmie’s tired!” he said, his voice breaking slightly.

“Yeah, yeah...Starmie,” Logan muttered, smiling in amusement and squeezing Blastoise’s shell gently with her legs, whispering “Slow down a little, bud,” in his ear. Chase’s wet mess of light hair soon floated up behind her, and soon they were side-by-side.

“YOU have the luxury of sitting on Blastoise’s back,” Chase said, spitting out a stream of seawater.

“Well, come on, then,” Logan said, shifting over. “There’s room for two.”

“Coulda said that a while ago,” Chase grumbled, grabbing onto the turtle’s shell and hoisting himself up. He shivered in the cool night, wringing his shirt out in chunks, dripping water everywhere. The young man motioned to Starmie that it could go swim on its own for a while. “It’s FREEZING!” he said, shaking his head and spraying water all over Logan, who cringed, laughing.

“Stop!” she cried. Chase obeyed, after one final flourish.

“We’re a long way from shore,” he said once he was satisfactorily dry. “We should probably go back soon.” The two did not show any indication of following this suggestion.

“Chase?” Logan asked after a while. The boy turned his stubbled face, which had been focused on the lighthouse, to his friend.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Yesterday, you said you wanted to stop traveling with me. That I’m too caught up in the past. Is that...did you mean it?” Her blue eyes pierced, searching for the truth.

“I...I don’t know...if it’s the best idea,” Chase said, choosing his words carefully. “I think at this point you know how I feel for you. And I don’t think you’re ever going to move past Tracey.” Logan made to defend herself. “Don’t. I feel like things are just moving in circles with us, like a song on repeat. I love you, you love someone else, they’re unavailable...you settle for me.” Silence.

“Chase…”

“I don’t mind being second best. I could live with that, Logan, I could live my whole life with you knowing I wasn’t your first choice. But I don’t think...you could. I think you need to find somebody you love as much as...somebody you love,” he finished. Logan’s eyes were wet.

“That’s unfair, Chase. You’re...you’re putting a lot on me.” Her hand moved to touch his, but he pulled away. More silence passed. Chase heard a gentle sloshing sound that signaled Starmie’s return.

“We should head back,” he said, dipping his toe into the water to test the temperature again, making to swim back to Starmie. “Starmie, over here!” he called. No response. The lapping sound was closer, now, and there was definitely a form in the water with them, bobbing closer very fast.

Chase suddenly recalled a dream he had experienced vividly two-and-a-half years beforehand. He reached up to touch his bearded face in horror, and looked at Logan, then back at the water. There was a dark shape floating toward them, a body. Dirty-blonde hair spread from the skull, the clothing loose, the skin clammy. Chase felt a chill go down his spine that was quite unrelated to the night air.

“Tracey?” he whispered, petrified.

Glover
11th November 2013, 5:11 AM
Glover, you are a god among mere mortals. That was an incredible catch-up marathon read that you just accomplished.

Well, I suppose a magician should never reveal his secrets, but aside from keeping odd hours of the night, this is what my laptop screen looks like. 10983

And yes, my laptop does have a seperate VGA port, think what I could do with SIX windows!!!

---

“I’ve tripped, fallen, bruised, and scratched myself enough for one day That's what YOU think...


“How much longer til we reach the caves?” I'm gonna go out on a limb and say "too long"


“Somebody could have told me!” They did, you're a chump.


“I don’t eat white bread. It’s fine, I brought my own food.” He produced a RAGE candy bar and a powdered protein mix, which he proceeded to dump into a thermos of MooMoo Milk. I'm not sure that qualifies as "food", but hey, some people need their sawdust...


“How did you become gym leader? I’ve always been fascinated. I know how to become a member of the Elite Four, you need to beat the League Championships of at least three different regions, and then -”

“Four,” Chase interrupted. Alec looked at him, nonplussed.

“Hm?”

“Four league championships. You need to beat at least four region’s tourneys, plus face off against the already existing Elite Four and champion.” He seemed slightly bitter as he said this, a scowl darkening his fair features.

“Chase was very close to achieving this status,” Logan said softly, “he’s won three championships and fought two of the current Elite Four.”


Intriguinging. You and I had similar theores on League admittance.


“Can I battle you?” Alec blurted out. Preston blinked, taken aback.Very "Ash Ketchy" moment there. prepare to be polishing rocks with your face...


“It’s all very well. This just proves what I should have realized long ago. When you want something done, do it yourself.” Welp, she's written off...

Not literLLY, but looks like she's no longer his most trusted agent...


Gabriel turned to look out on the just-setting sun. “Oh, and remember.” He reached out his arm for Mandibuzz, not looking back. “Not a soul gets hurt.”Interesting that you'd say this, considering that you tried to drop a guy form a mandibuzz two minutes ago.


he had been so focused on raising Machop’s muscular strength he had forgotten to worry about defenseThis seems aout right,


“Machop is unable to battle,” Chase said almost immediately. ... and so does that.


Nature Power was a move unfamiliar to Alec Me too.

---

-2005- I approve


but Sceptile seemed beyond the ability to play - his eyes were jaundiced and saggy, his jade skin papery and hanging off his dreadfully thin frame. Tracey followed Chase’s gaze, staring at Sceptile and sitting up very quickly. Poor thing,


Kira was found and the medics summoned, Who's Kira?


“Snivy?! Do you think,” he said, his voice quivering, “that I could EVER look at that snake as anything other than a cheap knockoff of his dad?” OUCH. But probably.


But...this middle stage is so frustrating.” He kicked another rock. Proving once again he;s a short-sighted rainer. One, Pupitar have a much needed Defense in his team. Two, the fact that they levitate means speed. Three, I've always seent he little leg protrusions as foot pedals... not unlike those of a motorccle. They lean, forawards, and there's enough mask to grab onto...

And at least in the anime, Pupitar can be very fast. A good defense is never ale to actually be hit by anything.

Look at me, rambling like Alec can even hear me.


But I just had to...play to his strengths. You know?” Which is, what exactly? Spin the Bottle, Perhaps?


“We won’t be too long,” Chase said, beginning to walk in the direction Preston had motioned, “Just enough time to...sort things out.” He turned, looking to Logan and beginning the descent. Gee, I seem to remember Alec saying that... and then he was Introduced to Natalia, and a pair of gentlemen by the names of "Smith" and "Wesson".


“Tracey had a dream -”

...the tailor Mottel Kamzoil


“Oh, yes, a special dream, well I guess that is reason to throw ourselves back into the fire.”

I'm with the new girl on this one.


“You’ll always be my first love,” he said, and he meant it. Kira nodded.

“But not your last,” she said. Chase stood up, and buttoned the top button of his jacket. “Call me sometime, will you?” she continued, as he made to leave. Chase turned, nodding and smiling gently at Kira.

“The moment we get back.”

Love this scene, touching and well written. But even if his body touches soil, he'll never be back.


“And you don’t hate me for bringing us to Johto? I know you were enjoying Unova, and I know you hate being dragged around while I do my thing,” he said, looking at her. She looked so different from when he had first met her;Really enjoying this look into relationships on the road in a Pokemon world. We don't get that much.


Logan threw her orb, releasing her Blastoise right into the water. The large turtle Pokémon seemed momentarily disoriented News article, the Olivine Times "Blastoise drowns in sea."
In all seriusness though, with as attentive as you are aout Pokemon being new to their surroundings, drowning seems like a valid concern,


“Do we have a flashlight, or something?” Alec asked, pulling out his Poké Gear and using the small light embedded in the top to look at Preston. What could be better than a flashlight?


. “Electivire, give us some light.” The Pokémon growled, rubbing his two black cable-like tails together, producing a shower of sparks that crackled and spit. Eventually a low humming resounded steadily through the tunnel, and Electivire glowed, illuminating the entire cavern.

Clever detailing, but I aska gain, what's better than a flashlight? For one, you can club Zubats with it.

And doesn't Magby know Flash?


“I know that,” Alec said, slightly frustrated, “I’m not a toddler. I HAVE learned things, you know.”

Preston raised his eyebrows. “You have? Then you know that Pupitar will absolutely be able to sense you lack of faith in her ability.” Voice of reason



Preston smiled with his mouth, but his eyes remained gray and reserved. “I never met our child. Team Skye got to her first.” Alec did not know what to say to this; he reached hesitantly to pat Preston’s arm, but thought better of it. “You also grew up for a while right down the street from me,” Preston said. “Your grandmother used to borrow Teddiursa from me so you could have your fun with a Pokémon before you could legally own one. Its a small world, after all...


“We don’t deserve to be loved,” the girl with the burnt face said in a hollow voice, reaching out and grabbing Chase, pulling him towards her; he thought they were going to kiss, but suddenly he was passing through her body, burning with her, the flames excruciating.

that'll be Natalia. I'm enjoying the cross stitch you've got going between the characters


“I don’t mind being second best. I could live with that, Logan, I could live my whole life with you knowing I wasn’t your first choice. But I don’t think...you could. I think you need to find somebody you love as much as...somebody you love,” he finished. Logan’s eyes were wet.


If only you knew what he'd done for you,

and he's still dreaming...

Bulba the Great!
24th November 2013, 7:20 AM
I'm not sure that qualifies as "food", but hey, some people need their sawdust...

Surprisingly, some people do live this way. *coughmysixthgradehistoryteachercough*

Intriguinging. You and I had similar theores on League admittance.

I just figured it was time somebody lay out the formal rules of league acceptance. Glad we see eye-to-eye!

Who's Kira?

Hmm, perhaps I should have set her up better? I did introduce her with the descriptor of "Chase's girlfriend", but I do suppose she seems to come from a bit left-field for those who have only read this story. She's a carry-over from Destined. I just didn't want to BORED anyone with too much exposition!

Proving once again he;s a short-sighted rainer. One, Pupitar have a much needed Defense in his team. Two, the fact that they levitate means speed. Three, I've always seent he little leg protrusions as foot pedals... not unlike those of a motorccle. They lean, forawards, and there's enough mask to grab onto...

Ahahaha a use sure to come in handy, that motorcycle idea.

Which is, what exactly? Spin the Bottle, Perhaps?

Oh my god I'm laughing so hard.

Gee, I seem to remember Alec saying that... and then he was Introduced to Natalia, and a pair of gentlemen by the names of "Smith" and "Wesson".

Nothing good ever happens when you wander off in this world.

...the tailor Mottel Kamzoil

I could kiss you.

Love this scene, touching and well written. But even if his body touches soil, he'll never be back.

Quite perceptive. Tis very true.

Really enjoying this look into relationships on the road in a Pokemon world. We don't get that much.

I'm glad you find them interesting; I certainly do.

News article, the Olivine Times "Blastoise drowns in sea."
In all seriusness though, with as attentive as you are aout Pokemon being new to their surroundings, drowning seems like a valid concern,

I'm not writing that out of the realm of possibility...

Clever detailing, but I aska gain, what's better than a flashlight? For one, you can club Zubats with it.

VERY valid point.

And doesn't Magby know Flash?

Will-o-Wisp; surprisingly can't learn Flash.

that'll be Natalia. I'm enjoying the cross stitch you've got going between the characters

So glad you picked up on that. Dreams can be telling...

and he's still dreaming...

Not exactly.


Thanks for the time, Glover!

Bulba the Great!
24th November 2013, 7:33 AM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Ten

Purpleheart Tunnel’s first antechamber echoed with ritualistic grunts and shouts, quite alien to the usually silent cavern. Alec was in full-blown workout mode; Preston watched with amusement as the trainer pumped out set after set of push-ups, squats, crunches and planks, Machop keeping pace next to him. The small gray Pokémon was again locked into the Macho Brace, crying out every now and again. Preston couldn’t help pitying him slightly; the tears gathering in his wide eyes, the sweat pooling around the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.

Preston was writing in his journal, making new notes and observations about the landscape, when a ringing interrupted the sounds of Alec and Machop’s routine. Alec stopped mid-squat, blinking at Preston, disoriented.

“Is that you?” Preston asked, referring to the two bags lying by the fire. Another ring cut through the cave, and Preston swiftly crossed to the bags, Alec wiping his forehead and allowing himself a long swig of water from the bottle Machop held up for him. The trainer let out a long exhale and handed the bottle back, allowing his Pokémon a grateful sip as well.

“Who is it?” the young man asked.

Preston shook his head, digging fruitlessly through Alec’s bag. “Where do you keep your Poké Gear?” he asked.

“That’s not mine that’s ringing,” Alec said, still catching his breath, “someone must be calling you.”

Preston paused, a shadow crossing his tired face. “Who would be calling at this hour?” he wondered, shifting his attention to his own large rucksack. He produced his Poké Gear, a slightly older model than Alec’s, and looked at it, frowning. “Oh, it’s Logan.” He hit a button, allowing the video screen to light up. Alec, whose face lit up at the mention of Logan’s name, crossed so he could see the screen as well. The pale face and piercing blue eyes were unmistakable; however, her expression was quite foreign, a mixture of terror and disgust.

“Preston?” she asked. Her voice came out unnaturally high.

“Logan, is everything okay? Do you need help finding the tunnel’s entrance?” Preston looked quite alarmed at the haunted expression on the girl’s face.

“No...no, um...Preston, Alec, I think...I think you need to come to the cape,” she said, looking to her right; Chase’s voice could be heard in the background. Logan muttered something to her friend offscreen and nodded, passing the Poké Gear to him. The young man’s bearded face was haggard, his eyes dead.

“Preston, we were out swimming, and...well, we found something by the lighthouse.”

The lines on Preston’s forehead deepened in concern at this statement. “What did you find, Chase?” The camera shook, the picture blurring in a jerky, disorienting manner as Chase turned it downward. Alec caught a brief glimpse of pale pink beach, dark water lapping at a jetty that extended into the sea, and the Olivine Lighthouse in the top right corner, until finally the image focused again on its new target. Preston glanced warily at Alec, whose expression changed from mild curiosity to absolute shock.

Stretched out on a jet-black rock, limp, swollen and soggy, was Amber Janson’s body. Her skin was mottled and clammy, her lips blue, her eyes open, empty. She was unmistakably dead.

It took half an hour to sprint from the tunnels to the halfway point Chase and Logan agreed to meet at. This window of time seemed both freakishly quick and nightmarishly long to Alec. Images kept flashing through his head of his years of tech school with Amber. These were mixed with a ghastly composite image he had created in his mind; the last time he had seen her, alive and bound on the floor of the Olivine Lighthouse, but soaking and pale, her eyes empty, already dead, her soul long gone. Preston jogged at a safe distance behind the young man, allowing him space to absorb the loss of his childhood friend.

Chase and Logan’s silhouettes were barely visible in the dusk, but it was near impossible to miss them amidst the slate-and-ebony rocks they had come to rest on. Alec slowed down when he caught sight of them, and for one brief, hopeful moment, it seemed the only bodies present were their living ones. As he drew closer, his eyes caught on the prone, waxy figure lying on a flat ledge behind them; it seemed they had carried Amber from the beach.

“Alec!” Logan jumped up, her eyes trained warily on the boy. He certainly did seem younger; the death of his childhood friend seemed to have caused a temporary digression in maturity - his eyes were wide, unsure, lost-looking. Logan ran to him, pulling him into a gentle embrace, patting his back. Chase walked to meet Preston, who had stopped a respectful distance from the body. The two turned away from the scene; a sob broke the silence behind them.

“Where exactly did you find her?” Preston muttered, his voice level.

Chase stole a glance back at the embracing pair and shuddered. “Her body was floating face down about a half mile off the cliff-face where the lighthouse is. I didn’t know who or what I was seeing at first...we pulled her body onto Logan’s Blastoise and checked for signs of life. And...well, obviously…” He trailed off.

Preston ran his fingers through his hair. “Do you think she was murdered? If I’m not mistaken, this was that girl Gabriel had tied up in the lighthouse during the raid…”

“She must have been. Her neck is bent in a really weird way, it looks like it’s been broken. And there are bruises all over her arms. Honestly, I’m surprised she held together so well...her body, I mean.” Alec and Logan had moved to join them; Alec appeared to have calmed down. His face was pulled into a sort of grimace, but there was no sign of tears.

“We went to school together,” Alec said, although he was fairly certain he had mentioned this to every person in the group at some point. Logan rubbed his back, Preston gripped his shoulder, and Chase attempted to appear sorry, only somewhat successful.

After a moment of silence for the deceased girl, Preston looked to his right, toward Olivine.

“Somebody’s going to have to take her body back to the city. I hate to delay our journey any longer but...it’s really the only decent thing to do.”

“I’ll go,” Alec said immediately.

Preston looked sharply at the youth. “No you will not. You need to be kept away from major cities as long as possible. Shake Gabriel off your scent.” Alec frowned at this, but Preston had turned his eyes to Chase. “I think it’s clear who it needs to be.”

Chase immediately protested. “Why me? Why not…” But the dots had all connected in his head; Logan wouldn’t leave Alec alone, not with her ‘Forever and Always’ policy. “Fine, okay. I’ll take the body. But I won’t like it.”

Preston nodded, giving Chase an appraising look. “Very good. I think I’d better go with you, though,” he said cautiously, looking at Logan and Alec, wheels turning in the older man’s head. “Yes, I’ll have to. They’ll want a figure of authority to explain the situation.”

“I’m a legally grown man, you know, I’m turning twenty in May,” Chase said dryly, but Preston ignored him, crossing instead so he stood in front of Alec, who was staring with morbid fascination at Amber’s soggy pale body.

“Alec,” he said, again taking the young man’s shoulder, “listen to me. The man who brutally murdered this girl is after you. I’m so sorry for your loss...trust me, we’ll take care that she is well taken care of. But, listen to me, are you listening? You have to hide. You and Logan, and that item in your bag...take Logan to the Purpleheart tunnels, and stay in there until we return. Okay? Promise me.”

Alec still stared silently at the body, but he nodded his head. His normally sea-green eyes had muddied, clouded over so they seemed to be a deep brown, almost black. Preston squeezed his shoulder and turned to Logan, but found she and Chase were talking softly a safe distance away. Preston cleared his throat and Logan jerked, looking guiltily at him.

“You two had your time to talk at the cape. We need to get moving, and now, while we at least have the cover of dark. This business shouldn’t take half a day. Chase...” He beckoned to the young man, who looked at Logan before crossing to stand with Preston. Logan quietly aligned herself with Alec. “Good. I suppose...yes, I’ll carry the body.” Preston said this quietly and delicately as possible, glancing at Alec, who made a point to stare at the mountains in the distance.

Preston scooped Amber’s body up in his strong arms, quickly and cleanly, and began walking toward Olivine City, Chase in tow. “We’ll be back by morning,” the older man promised, turning back to look at Alec and Logan. “Logan?” The blonde’s weary gaze met his. “Keep him safe,” he said, and Logan was surprised to hear a slight quaver in his voice, as of fear. This, more than anything, scared her. The tall man turned back, his powerful silhouette loping towards the city, strangely lopsided with Amber in his arms. Chase waved grimly at his friends before following a good ten yards behind.

If he or Preston had been more observant, they would have noticed the shadowy figure dodging out of sight just as they reached her hiding spot. Natalia watched the two walk by from behind a large stone formation, eyes wide. Gabriel had not told her about Amber Janson’s death. His words echoed through her head: “Deception is an art, only to be used sparingly as a means to an end.” She had been confused at this, so he clarified, “Don’t lie to somebody if you want their undying trust and devotion. Lie, if you must, to get what you want. But also do not be so foolish as to ever truly trust somebody other than yourself. Trust is weak. Lying is cheap. Simple enough for you?”

This withholding of truth, that he had murdered an innocent girl, was the first time he’d ever deceived her...or was it? Did he not trust her with the truth? He shouldn’t, she thought bitterly. I don’t even trust myself with it.

…................................................. ....................................

-2000-

Natalia glanced at her watch before stealing into the house; she was an hour later than she had intended. Fortunately, her parents seemed to have retired to bed early; there hadn’t been any lights on upstairs, even in the guest room, in which her grandmother had taken permanent residence. She padded across the foyer light as a Skitty, her senses alight as they always were recently; ever since her father had taken ill her paranoia had escalated to extreme heights. She placed her coat on the rack in the small welcome room and entered the main house, the door clicking ever so slightly as she turned the greasy knob.

She was met at front landing by the family’s Poochyena, Shadow, who yipped twice. “Shh, shh, hi Shadow, hey there,” she said, bending down to pet her, placing her hand on the dog’s muzzle and stroking her grizzled coat of grey-and-black fur, causing the Pokémon to close her yellow eyes and kick her back leg involuntarily, satisfied.

“Talia?” croaked a male voice. Natalia froze, panic shooting through her entire body. The hall lamp switched on, throwing warm orange light across the sickly face of her father, who had apparently been waiting in the kitchen for her. She stood up, her palms clammy and her heart racing. Shadow pawed at her leg for more attention; Natalia ignored this.

“Hey, dad. Sorry I’m late, I -” Her words were cut short as he pulled her into a tight embrace.

“I missed you today. It was a bad one,” he said, and she could hear it in his voice; it was thick with phlegm and disease. She also caught a whiff of something strong on his breath: cough syrup or alcohol, or (as it was likely), both.

“I missed you, too, Dad,” she said, reaching her thin hands up to take his beefy arms and pull back, looking critically at his sagging face. “You look fine to me,” she lied.

“Did you get your paycheck today?” he asked, turning the kitchen light on and leading his fifteen-year-old daughter to the kitchen island.

Natalia paused, hesitant to answer. “No, um, Jacob paid me in cash again,” she said, producing a large wad of money. Her father tried to whistle; his chapped lips couldn’t produce the noise, so he clucked his tongue instead.

“My little Nat-ta-ta, making all the money! And under the counter, now that’s smart,” he said, touching his nose and crinkling his eyes conspiratorially, “you’ve always been too smart for me, Talia. I suppose that’s why you’re working in a lab and I’m not.” He sighed, placing the money on the counter and counting the bills. Natalia watched his face carefully. “This really is a lot of money, Arceus’ Plates! All this for opening Tympoles up?” His small eyes looked at her.

“Yeah, Jacob pays good,” she said quietly.

“Well, I’ll owe him a big old favor when I get my strength back,” her father said, his mouth cracking into a smile, his fat cheeks forming the two wonderful dimples that usually filled Natalia with warmth; now they made her feel nothing but misery. “Bad day for you, too?” he asked gently.

Natalia’s eyes were shiny with tears. “Yeah, just...probably the weather or something. I don’t know,” she said, eyes focused on the patterned floor.

“I know what you need.” Her father crossed to the cabinet by the sink, producing two mugs. “Some hot cider with cinnamon.” Natalia’s face broke into a grateful smile, and she nodded. Her father always seemed to know how to cheer her up. He pulled some cider from the fridge while Natalia found the cinnamon in the back corner of the spices rack, and the two converged again at the counter.

“Hey, dad?” she said, her voice shaky.

“That’s my name,” he said, smiling broadly, his eyes sparkling.

“I love you,” she said, burying her head in his shoulder. He rubbed her back gently.

“Hey, hey, let it out,” he said soothingly. Her small body shook, her long ruby-red hair getting caught in her mouth as she cried. “What’s wrong, honey?” he asked, frowning slightly. She looked into his warm brown eyes and swallowed a lump in her throat. She took off her glasses to rub her eyes dry, silent. “Is it a boy? I know you don’t like talking about boy stuff with us,” he said, teasing.

“It’s nothing,” Natalia said, adding another lie to the growing pile of deceptions she’d used in the past two months. But she didn’t have the heart to tell her father the truth, that she had been caught stealing from Jacob, that she’d been unemployed the past month, that she’d needed to continue stealing for her father’s welfare. She looked him in the eye, the look of genuine concern and affection on his face making her sick.

He can’t ever know the truth, she thought. She took a sip of her cider.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

“Do you really want to go back to the caves?” Alec asked, stumbling slightly on a loose patch of gravel. “I don’t. They’re nice to look at and all, but they’re so stuffy.”

Logan sighed but did not answer. She looked at him for a long time, studying his face as they continued climbing uphill. “How are you dealing? With...Amber, it is?” Alec nodded. “Amber’s death. When Tracey died...I was an absolute MESS.”

Alec’s ears perked up at this; Logan had seemed uncomfortable discussing the subject of Tracey earlier. He supposed the death of his old friend had opened a new window of opportunity as far as dead people were concerned. “How did you deal with the pain?” he asked.

Logan shook her head. “I honestly don’t remember much from those months. Something snapped, I think, for a long time. Chase hasn’t really been helpful at filling in the blanks,” she said, shrugging. “Talk to me, Alec. I care about you, I want you to feel like you can trust me.”

Alec tugged at his jacket sleeve. “I do...trust you,” he said hesitantly. “I just...don’t want to think about it, I guess? Death is weird for me. It’s like, she’s dead. We were friends, once, and then we weren’t. And I mean...I don’t know. Tell me a story.” Logan looked quizzically at him. “Not a sad one. A fun story,” he added, and Logan suddenly marvelled at his understanding that dwelling on grief does nothing more than dig a grave of depression deeper and deeper, until the outside world becomes unreachable.

“Okay...okay, well. Hm. Well,” she said, smiling a little, “I’ll tell you one about Tracey. Chase is in it, too! See, we travelled through Kanto mostly, before the war. Chase had just begun his first real attempt at growing a beard.” She laughed. “He was dating a girl named Kira at the time and she hated the ‘beard’. She also didn’t like travelling, so Chase would have to return to Celadon City once every week, as well as nightly video dates on his Poké Gear. Kira got on Tracey’s nerves. So, one night, as a prank, Tracey made sure Chase was distracted...he asked Chase to cook dinner for once, and Chase…” She shook her head, beaming now. “Chase could not cook. Arceus’ Plates he was awful. Anyway, so while Chase was doing that, Tracey and I stole his Poké Gear and brought it into our tent. Kira called; it rang three times before Tracey decided to pick up. And he said, ‘Oh, Chase is busy. He’s shaving his beard because he knows you hate it.’” Logan’s smile was infectious, her eyes alive with excitement. “Well, Chase heard our voices and came in, fuming that we stole the Gear from him. And Kira saw he still had that stupid patch of hairs and began yelling, and they both began screaming about the most...mundane things. Chase was red in the face,” she said, giggling.

Alec smiled. “And?”

“And?” Logan looked nonplussed. “Well...and it was really funny!”

Alec laughed charitably, although Logan could tell he had not actually found the story amusing. The two had reached Purpleheart’s entrance, still hidden by brush and the added dark shadows of night.

“Here we are,” Alec said, pulling a branch aside to reveal the entrance. His eyes shot to the right suddenly. “Did you hear that?”

“What?” Logan asked, looking around. Alec continued staring at a spot beyond sight. “Come on, Alec, let’s go! Preston said -”

“I know. Alright, let’s go.” Alec’s Poké Gear rang. They both stared at his bag for a long moment, allowing it to ring. Alec pulled the phone out, frowning. “It’s...it’s not a video call.” He put the device to his ear, eyes narrowed. “Hello?”

“Who is it?” Logan asked immediately. Alec waved her off, plugging his left ear and listening.

“I miss you, too,” he said loudly, turning and walking a few steps away from the entrance. “It’s my mom,” he whispered to Logan. “Go on in and set up your stuff. The fire should still be functional.” Logan looked concerned, but Alec took another few steps away. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” he said, looking at Logan and gesturing impatiently for her to go inside.

“Five minutes,” Logan said, and she didn’t move until Alec nodded begrudgingly. Appeased, the blonde girl climbed inside, her own Poké Gear outstretched, its flashlight application switched on. Alec watched her enter the tunnel completely before sprinting away from the entrance, out of hearing range.

“What do YOU want?” he asked.

“I hear you discovered your friend (Amber, was it?) washed up on the beach, dead.” Gabriel’s musical voice floated from the Poké Gear. “I want you to know, that was not me. As we continue to negotiate -”

“I’m not ever negotiating with you,” Alec said firmly.

“...the ownership of the Rainbow Wing,” Gabriel continued, unperturbed, “I want you to feel you can trust I won’t kill anyone.” The special care he took to say ‘kill’ made Alec uneasy.

“Who told you about Amber?” Alec asked.

There was an amused sigh on the other end. “Alec, you ask all the wrong questions. Why not ask, ‘what next?’ ‘What do you want from me?’ ‘What’s your master plan?’” The man’s voice laughed, and what was unsettling was how normal it sounded; he didn’t sound unhinged or crazy in the least. Alec heard another noise come from the same area as earlier.

“You sent someone to get me,” Alec said, peering around carefully.

“No, Alec, I did not. I don’t even know where you are right now,” Gabriel said innocently. He sounded honest...Alec paused. There was definitely a crunching sound coming from his right.

“I don’t know what you wan -” Alec’s question was cut short by a streak of purple as a Crobat shot by him, grabbing his Poké Gear, swooping around in a circle and returning to its red-haired owner. Natalia stood, eyes focused on Alec, a look of complete empathy on her face, hands held up, empty.

…................................................. ....................................

-2002-

Natalia’s father was dying; that much had been clear to her since the beginning of the year. It did not come as any less of a shock when it was announced he had twelve hours to live at the hospital. The seventeen-year-old girl was led into his ward at the Blackthorn Hospital by his nurse, her stepmother at her side. Claudia was Hector Solos’ third and final wife, a woman with curly orange hair and too much make-up. Natalia had never liked her much, and the lack of support the woman provided for her father had sealed the deal; she had made the decision upon the announcement of his imminent death. Natalia was going to run away.

“Nat-ta-ta, is that you?” His voice was almost a whisper. His skin was yellowed, his eyes unfocused.

“It’s me, dad, and Claudia’s here too,” Natalia said. She hung back; she did not enjoy seeing her father in this state. Her stepmother rushed to his side, reaching out and grabbing at his now-thin hands. Hector had lost upward of eighty pounds in the past year, another side-effect of his illness. His skin hung in great folds around the neck and arms.

“How are you, boo?” Claudia hugged his head to her chest.

“I’ve been fatter,” he replied, his eyes locked on his daughter, a hint of the old sparkle in his small black eyes. He shook his wife’s clawing hands off his and reached out for his daughter. “C’mere, Talia, don’t hang in the shadows like that.”

Natalia took a hesitant step forward. “Did you get my card?” she asked quietly, taking her glasses off and wiping her eyes. Her father nodded, smiling weakly and indicating his powder-blue pillow.

“Wouldn’t be able to sleep without it,” he chuckled, the chuckle erupting into a round of coughs, his chest heaving and his head shooting off the pillow. He clutched at the surgically white blankets and writhed in pain.

Claudia shot an angry look at Natalia and looked back at her husband. “Take it easy, now, honey,” she said, but he shook his head.

“Claudia, leave me with Natalia, please.” Both women’s ears perked at this; it was the first time he had used Natalia’s proper name in a very long time. Claudia stood stiffly, reaching out and stroking his balding head before walking out of the room, throwing a look over her shoulder at Natalia. “Come closer, dear,” he said, his voice a whisper.

Natalia came to his side, bending down so that their eyes were level. “So...you read everything in there?” she asked hesitantly.

Her father nodded. “That was very brave of you to tell me, Talia. And I have to say, I have never been prouder of you.” His chapped lips split into a genuine smile.

“You aren’t angry at me? I stole from a lot of people, dad, isn’t that bad?”

The fading man shook his dead, eyes staring at the ceiling. “Way I see it, Laurie, there’s too much bad in the world to live a purely good life.” Natalia quietly ignored the fact that he had called her by his first wife’s name and grabbed his right hand, just the gentlest of touches. “It was noble of you to do that for me, focus on the good in your actions, Ana.” The name of his second wife.

“I’m just worried, dad, I’m so worried, I’ve been stealing all this for you, it’s become a habit, what if it doesn’t stop? What if -” she stopped to swallow, choking back tears, “...what if, this is just step one? When you’re gone…” She steeled herself. “When you’re gone, what if I keep stealing, get worse?”

Hector Solos coughed again. A dribble of saliva was caught under his lower lip and dripping down his chin; Natalia reached for a tissue, dabbing at it gently, wondering if he was still hearing her.

“Talia, I know you.” This was nothing more than the barest of breaths, his lips hardly moving. He reached and held her face in his hand; she closed her eyes, burying her face in his shrunken grip. His next words were very clear. “You’re a good person.”

“Am I?” she asked quietly.

He had fallen asleep; he would never wake up to answer that question.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

The Olivine police station was still experiencing a rather high amount of cleanup activity, dealing with the aftermath of the Team Skye siege a few days beforehands. When J.T. Preston, the city’s former gym leader, walked in the front entrance with a wet, pale corpse and a white-haired youth in tow, there was a general outcry by the officers on duty, as well as from the people milling about the damages counter.

A report was filed and Amber’s body was rushed to the coroner immediately. After making certain the homicide had not, in fact, been committed by Preston or Chase, Officer Reinhart informed them Amber’s death was officially the police’s business, and that the two were free to go.

“Do you really think it could’ve been anyone other than Gabriel, Reinhart?” Preston asked.

The officer shook his head. “It’s hard to say. Official record is that the girl was held captive in the lighthouse, and that when the building was investigated after Team Skye’s attack, Gabriel and the girl were missing. Jasmine was unconscious, tied up and bruised. She has no recollection of anything occurring after a certain point in time, at which point Gabriel and Amber were both still present.” Reinhart sighed, stroking his dark goatee and adjusting his cap, looking at the two men apologetically and shrugging. “We’ll let you know if we find anything out.”

And so Chase and Preston began the trek back to the Olivine mountains, Preston insisting they keep a brisk pace.

“It’s such a shame, about Amber. That poor girl,” Preston said, shaking his head, keeping his gray eyes focused on the dark cliffs in the distance.

Chase nodded, burying his hands in his pockets. “I feel bad for Alec,” he said. Preston raised his eyebrows. “What?” Chase asked.

“I think that’s the biggest show of compassion I’ve heard from you so far, Chase.”

Chase looked at his feet. “Yeah, well.”

The two made good time to the base of the rocky slopes, mostly in silence. Preston kept glancing at Chase, who seemed determined to avoid the older man’s gaze.

“Chase, do you mind if I say something?”

Chase shrugged. “I can’t stop you.” He kept walking, his muddy white trainers pounding on the crumbling rocks with unnecessary force.

“Why the act? You insist on keeping this facade of anger and irritation and heard-headedness towards everyone. What are you guarding?” Chase didn’t answer. “Nobody human is as hard as you’re being toward Alec, and frankly you haven’t been too kind to me, either.”

Chase stopped walking. Preston followed suit, studying the younger man’s blank face. “Is it Logan? You two seemed to have a lot to talk about when you left for the cape,” he said, again waiting for any response from the trainer.

The mention of Logan’s name seemed to trigger something; Chase’s jaw clenched, cheekbones drawn and nostrils flaring. “I don’t have to tell you anything,” he said.

“No, you don’t,” Preston said simply.

“Okay, it’s just, Logan. Logan,” the young man said, her name carrying ten emotions at once. “We’ve been travelling together for almost five years now. And I’ve been there for her through everything. We watched the entire war, we survived it together. We’ve been to Kanto, Hoenn, Unova, and now Johto. We’ve dated, we’ve...you know...kissed, more than kissed, SUPER kissed,” he said, adding a gesture for emphasis, eliciting a chuckle from Preston, “and after all that, it always comes back to Tracey. She loved him, in a way I don’t think she’ll ever love me. And he died, and, well, that was very sad, but some small part of me, some evil part of me thought, “Well, now he’s out of the picture.” And everything should’ve been great. But then she started pining for him. And then we found you guys,” he said, pointing to Preston, “and now, oh of course, now it’s all about Alec. ‘Let’s protect Alec, what does Alec think, are you okay with this, Alec?’ And, well…” he trailed off, looking guilty, but setting his face and saying it, “When do I get my turn?”

Preston’s face had softened during the story, and Chase avoided eye contact, afraid to see pity etched into the man’s lined face. But when he looked up finally, all he saw was a face full of understanding. “Chase, when was the last time you hugged someone?”

This was not the response Chase had expected at all. “Um...I don’t know? What?”

“I figured as much.” Preston reached out, taking Chase’s shoulder with his broad hand, and much to Chase’s astonishment, pulled him into a hug. Chase did not reciprocate, too surprised at this uncalled-for embrace.

“Chase,” the older man said gruffly, “I know how you feel.” He stepped back, smiling, his eyes flickering with warmth. “You know, they say that to be happy, the average person needs to have real human contact a minimum of five times a day. It lets you know that you’re not alone.” This struck Chase as very deep and very unnecessary. “You are a young boy -”

“Man,” Chase corrected immediately.

“...sorry, man, a young man in love. And that can be quite difficult.” Preston’s eyes crinkled. “Because girls can be real *****es sometimes.”

…................................................. ....................................

Natalia had not done a thing to Alec this time; no guns, no threats of attack. She merely stood, her hands up, Crobat hovering next to her, and requested that Alec follow her a safe distance from the Purpleheart Tunnels. Alec obliged, more curious than anything. Something seemed to have changed about her, almost imperceptibly; she seemed stronger, more in control of her actions. She was also no longer wearing a Team Skye jumpsuit; this had been discarded in favor of a very pretty, if plain, white sun dress, which seemed out of place in the autumn air, but as Alec reasoned, I’m not a girl, what do I know?

The young woman stopped near a small lake embedded in the rocky slopes, a pool collected from rainwater and high tide that seemed to siphon into the sea eventually. A lone Remoraid swam circles in the pool, its pale blue scales shimmering, oblivious to the humans standing a few yards away. Moonlight refracted off the water in a very pretty way, causing Alec the smallest of half smiles before he looked back at Natalia; her cocoa-brown eyes staring at him steadily. She really was very pretty, although he knew her face was a constructed mask of make-up; he remembered what he had seen underneath.

“How’s your head?” he asked, suddenly remembering the brutal pummeling his now-Pupitar had given her. She reached up, touching her flaming ruby hair and patting the scalp area.

“Gabriel healed it up,” she said.

Alec froze at mention of his name. “Your wonderful leader killed my only friend from school. Is killing kids a thing for you guys? Just some casual pastime?”

Natalia shook her head very fast at this. “No, Alec, and it’s very important you know this; he did NOT kill Amber. He left her to join the fight in the city.”

Alec cocked his head, confused. “Well then how did she…?”

“I think she killed herself, Alec. Jumped from the lighthouse, or something. Just speculation.” Natalia seemed quite sure of her answer, so Alec allowed this to pass, figuring he would come back to it later.

“Gabriel said he hadn’t sent anyone to find me.” His hand went to his belt, gently tracing his Machop’s Poké Ball.

“Well, no, he didn’t. He was telling the truth, Alec.” It still felt odd to the young man to hear his name from her lips; villains don’t say your name so kindly, he thought. “I came on my own. I’ve been trying to talk to you for some time, Alec, because I need to warn you. This is me talking; Gabriel does not want me personally interacting with you, he calls me ‘too sympathetic’. Ever since I failed to get the Rainbow Wing from you at the gym, he’s been hesitant to trust me with anything. He made me swear not to meddle, actually.”

Alec narrowed his eyes. “Why?”

Natalia shook her head. “I don’t know. But Alec, I have limited time. He thinks I’m stealing fresh supplies from Ecruteak; he’ll get suspicious if I’m gone more than a certain number of hours.”

Alec still was not sure if he trusted this woman. But she didn’t seem to be armed…

“Prove you don’t have any weapons,” he said, his grip on the Poké Ball tightening. Maybe he would just sic Machop on her anyway. Natalia spun, showing there were no concealed pockets on her sun dress, keeping her hands up. “Okay. What do you need to tell me?”

“Alec, it’s something you need to tell me. Is there anybody in the world that you would put your absolute faith in, hands down?”

Alec’s answered immediately, without hesitation: “Myself.”

Natalia nodded, choosing to look at the small lake other than at the young man. The stars blinked gently in the ripples caused by Remoraid, burning intensely in the velvet black sky. The moon was partially covered by some clouds; in its weak light, Natalia could see herself reflected dimly in the pool. She looked away; she hated her reflection.

“That’s not enough, Alec. Gabriel’s influence is wrapped around the entire region. People fear him, and fear is what drives every single human motivation. Nobody is a hero, when given the chance; we all have a little coward in us. There’s too much bad in the world to live a purely good life,” she said, her hand twitching involuntarily. “Only a true friend and ally will fight to defend you. And you will need someone to fight with you, Alec, when the time comes.” A ripple of fear crossed her own face, although of what Alec could not be sure.

He took her words to heart. Do I know anyone I could trust completely? His mind jumped to his travelling companions; immediately it was swarmed with images of Chase’s snappy attitude and bitter glances when it came to Alec. Chase was strong-willed but selfish. If presented with the chance, Alec didn’t think Chase would fight the better opportunity. Preston certainly seemed concerned for Alec’s well-being, but what had Alec done for the old man? He had felt perfectly fine leaving Alec to go back to the city; there was no doubt to the boy that Preston had higher concerns than a fourteen-year-old. Logan...her beautiful blonde hair swam through his mind, so like Juliet’s...she seemed genuinely invested in his well-being, staying with him when the others didn’t. She was frail, yes, but…

“Yes. There is one.”

Natalia nodded, her eyes darting around nervously, her light skin looking especially peaky in the moonlight.

“Good. As you continue to Mahogany Town, or wherever you’re going, stick close to this person. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, of course, that would be unwise, but...also remember to keep your chosen ally in the know. Gabriel can be very persuasive. He has a strong following in Ecruteak, especially in the local areas. Don’t trust anyone you don’t have to.” Her Crobat beat its violet wings, clicking and narrowing its bloodshot yellowed eyes.

“How can I trust you, then? That you’re not going to sell me out? You were totally all about Gabriel the first time we met.” Natalia’s eyes filled with tears. She said nothing, only extending her left arm up and wiping her face with the back of her hand. The careful make-up was wiped away, revealing the ugly, charred mess of glowing flesh coating one side of her skull. Alec fought every impulse not to cringe, but his disgust was evident all the same.

“Gabriel is an angry person. Once, early in our time together, I failed to carry out his orders word for word. He shouted and screamed for what felt like forever, and then...it was dark out, and we were at a large camp with a fire. He…” She choked back a sob; Alec saw her face twist in anger, frustration, revulsion. She looked miserable, as if she hated herself for saying this to the boy. “He shoved my face into the fire. You don’t want to trust me? I understand. But if you think, for a second, that I enjoy working for him…”

A shout rang across the rocky landscape. “Alec?” Preston’s voice rang clear, a half-octave higher than normal; it seemed he was very worried. Manaphy’s glowing body could be seen from a half-mile away. Apparently Preston and Chase had returned from their journey into the city. Natalia’s eyes widened and Crobat’s wings flared.

“Remember what I said. Trust no one,” she said. She was gone before Alec could speak a word.

“Logan, he’s over here!” A female voice, shrill and concerned, shrieked Alec’s name in response. Crashing and spouts of fire could be seen near Manaphy; it seemed Houndoom had helped in the search for the missing boy. Alec looked at the spot Natalia had last stood, hugged himself against the chill of the night, and stepped onto a high rock by the lake. He shouted out for Logan, waving his arms.

After a stern telling off by Preston, which Alec had expected, Logan suggested the group finally enter the tunnels as one unit, which Chase rolled his eyes at. The four set off, Alec making sure to stand close to Logan, reflecting on Natalia’s words. Her soft hand reached out, grabbing his and squeezing as they walked. She smiled at him, a smile he partially reciprocated, his eyes glancing at Chase, who was staring determinedly forward. Alec smiled fully at Logan; he was certain he had chosen right.

…................................................. ....................................

Crobat landed on a ledge high above the entrance to Purpleheart Tunnel, clear out of sight and sound to any in Alec’s party. Natalia crawled to the nearest tree, her chest still heaving from the emotion of her meeting with Alec, eyes darting around wildly, before she let out a high, specific whistle. A rope ladder was let down silently and immediately, and a man with reedy crimson hair descended from the treetops.

“Natalia,” Gabriel said, his voice almost a purr. “I hope the meeting went well.”

The young woman ignored this, producing a mirror and looking into it, angling her face so that the luminous burns were in focus. She began the careful and tedious task of concealing this great scar to the outside world. Gabriel waited a full minute before growing impatient and slapping the mirror from her hand, causing her to grab his wrist, hissing. She immediately regretted this impulse. Gabriel shook free, very still for a long moment.

“I take it he believed you, then, that you were there on your own free will?” he said, choosing to ignore this outburst of aggression. Natalia looked at her hand in horror, not sure where her sudden surge of anger came from.

“Yes, he did,” she answered softly.

“And the bit about the scars? I liked that bit, myself,” he said, smirking slightly. Natalia merely nodded. “So you have his trust?”

“As much as he’ll trust anyone. He certainly seems like he will be opening up to his friends a little more after my warning. He looked frightened. I think he really does fear you, Gabriel.” We all do, you bastard, she thought silently.

“Then we can soon target the three he’s travelling with. I need you to do some sleuthing for me, Natalia. None of the other members of our team can know; they all think I’m punishing you. Find what each of that group has lost, and then the game gets really fun,” he said. His face was aglow with excitement at this prospect. “You’ve done well, Natalia.” He took her face in his hand, stroking the burned area; she flinched. “We really ought to get those burns fixed, they don’t do you any favors,” he said critically.

“Am I allowed in the shelter tonight?” Natalia asked despondently.

Gabriel shook his head. “That would let the team know I had already chosen to forgive you, Natalia. What kind of respectable leader does THAT so easily?” He shook his head, smiling at her naivete. “I’m sure you’ll find somewhere to make camp,” he said, gripping the rope ladder. He chuckled. “That poor kid. Alec Gideon really thought you were helping him. I wish I could’ve seen his face.” And with that, he disappeared to the night.

You’re a good person, she heard her father say, his words ringing through her head. She stared in the direction of Purpleheart Tunnels for a long time before pulling out her mirror and make-up, rebuilding her broken face.

But who will rebuild me?

FlamingRuby
24th November 2013, 3:15 PM
I'm a bit confused by your first scene--what year is that heartbreaking scene supposed to take place in? And which of all these years is considered the present? Jumping around between all those times made it a bit hard to follow the action.

Bulba the Great!
24th November 2013, 4:35 PM
I'm a bit confused by your first scene--what year is that heartbreaking scene supposed to take place in? And which of all these years is considered the present? Jumping around between all those times made it a bit hard to follow the action.

Hm, yes, I'm not sure which chapter you're referring to that has the heartbreaking scene, but this is something that I may go back and rectify today - upon Glover's request, I have begun giving distinct timeframe hints between the past and present. The present timeline is 2009. Generally speaking, anything referring to Tracey and Logan and Chase is '05. I will edit the chapters today with timeframe indicators.

Glover
26th November 2013, 5:59 AM
the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


I feel like this doesn't read as well as it should. Makes sense to me, but I find mysrlf trpping across it as i read it. Either

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer. This seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


or

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all of thisto please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


And in either case, "trainer" is a bit repetetive. A different noun for Preston might help to further distinguish Preston.

And I say again... that poor Machop. I wonder though is when he evovles into a Machampo, is that beltgonna be what hangs from his waist? a badge of honor, an "I Told you so" something too weak to slow him downany more?



Alec wiping his forehead and allowing himself a long swig of water from the bottle Machop held up for him. Needs to be wiped, not wiping. "Wiping" is good in cases where there's multiple actions following, but in that case, "Wiping his forhead and allowing himsel..." would be set apart in commas. Otherwise, it just needs to be in past tense like the rest of the story.


Preston paused, a shadow crossing his tired face. “Who would be calling at this hour?” he wondered, shifting his attention to his own large rucksack. He produced his Poké Gear, a slightly older model than Alec’s, and looked at it, frowning. “Oh, it’s Logan.” He hit a button, allowing the video screen to light up. Alec, whose face lit up at the mention of Logan’s name, crossed so he could see the screen as well. The pale face and piercing blue eyes were unmistakable; however, her expression was quite foreign, a mixture of terror and disgust. And I kinda feel like the part about Alec should be a seperate paragraph, but I'm not sold on that notion. Others want to chime in?

Anyone?

Bueller?


tretched out on a jet-black rock, limp, swollen and soggy, was Amber Janson’s body. Her skin was mottled and clammy, her lips blue, her eyes open, empty. She was unmistakably dead. Ah. Yes. I forgot about her, glad to see you wrapped that little plot point up.


the death of his childhood friend seemed to have caused a temporary digression in maturity say wha? badly worded, but death usually has the opposite effect in a person...


Chase immediately protested. “Why me? Why not…” But the dots had all connected in his head; Logan wouldn’t leave Alec alone, not with her ‘Forever and Always’ policy. Ah,but technically, she said "For a very long time" not "Forever and always." See my last review, I thought that was kinda telling, but maybe it was just a goof...


“This really is a lot of money, Arceus’ Plates! All this for opening Tympoles up?” ...doing what to Tympoles? Dissection? I'm not up on the wolrd o biology, what in the world could they want to be dissecting an army of Tympoles for?



“I miss you, too,” he said loudly, turning and walking a few steps away from the entrance. “It’s my mom,” he whispered to Logan. ...don't fasll for it... don't.. Logan, no... don't you...


“Five minutes,” Logan said, and she didn’t move until Alec nodded begrudgingly. Appeased, the blonde girl climbed inside, her own Poké Gear outstretched,

... she fell for it...


“I hear you discovered your friend (Amber, was it?) washed up on the beach, dead.” Gabriel’s musical voice floated from the Poké Gear. “I want you to know, that was not me. As we continue to negotiate -” "Amber, was it?" should be in commas, not parentheses as an aside of his main speech. I can totally hear Gabrial saying that to Alec as a touch of humanity or "See, I am your friend" but if ihe's saying it aloud, then commas. And if he's not saying it, then there's no need to mention it aat all.

Getting odd signals from Gabe.On the one hand, I can see him lying about things, but on the other, he could've and didn't kill the Sky agent by thowing him off the treehouse, and he felt (feels?) remorse that his own brother was caught in the crossfire. So even though I cans ee him lying about killing someone, I'm not sure I can see him killing Natalia. But if he didn't, then who did?


heard-headedness hard-headed


Team Skye jumpsuit; this had been discarded in favor of a very pretty, if plain, white sun dress, which seemed out of place in the autumn air, but as Alec reasoned, I’m not a girl, what do I know?

Nothing. But as a trainer white sundresses, as a rule, are not something one goes hiking in.


Alec still was not sure if he trusted this woman. But she didn’t seem to be armed… says the man fingering a Pokeball...


Nobody is a hero, when given the chance; we all have a little coward in us.... what are you setting up for?

Bulba the Great!
2nd December 2013, 5:13 AM
I feel like this doesn't read as well as it should. Makes sense to me, but I find mysrlf trpping across it as i read it. Either

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer. This seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


or

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all of thisto please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


And in either case, "trainer" is a bit repetetive. A different noun for Preston might help to further distinguish Preston.

Note duly taken. Must've had a massive brain fart on that sentence, haha

And I say again... that poor Machop. I wonder though is when he evovles into a Machampo, is that beltgonna be what hangs from his waist? a badge of honor, an "I Told you so" something too weak to slow him downany more?

Assuming he evolves all the way...

Ah. Yes. I forgot about her, glad to see you wrapped that little plot point up.

Glad you remembered her! I was afraid she would be forgotten, all the way back from Chapter One.

say wha? badly worded, but death usually has the opposite effect in a person...

Well, NOT ON ALEC. :D

Ah,but technically, she said "For a very long time" not "Forever and always." See my last review, I thought that was kinda telling, but maybe it was just a goof...

Well, she's certainly learned her lesson in the current timeline, but that doesn't mean she hasn't said it a myriad of times in the past.

...don't fasll for it... don't.. Logan, no... don't you...

... she fell for it...

Dammit, Logan.

"Amber, was it?" should be in commas, not parentheses as an aside of his main speech. I can totally hear Gabrial saying that to Alec as a touch of humanity or "See, I am your friend" but if ihe's saying it aloud, then commas. And if he's not saying it, then there's no need to mention it aat all.

It was meant to be spoken, so yes, it should be commas. Good point.

Getting odd signals from Gabe.On the one hand, I can see him lying about things, but on the other, he could've and didn't kill the Sky agent by thowing him off the treehouse, and he felt (feels?) remorse that his own brother was caught in the crossfire. So even though I cans ee him lying about killing someone, I'm not sure I can see him killing Natalia. But if he didn't, then who did?

I'm glad he's intriguing you so much :)

Nothing. But as a trainer white sundresses, as a rule, are not something one goes hiking in.

Well, it's not a PERMANENT change!

... what are you setting up for?

Mwahahahahaha


Thanks for reviewing, Glover!

Bulba the Great!
2nd December 2013, 5:17 AM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter 11

-July 27, 2007-

Another shell sounded in the distance, debris careening in every direction from Viridian City, followed by the roar of hundreds of wounded Pokémon, angry, pained, desperate. Logan was shielding her eyes, her body curled up as small as possible in Tracey’s arms. The two were sitting on a shelf of slate that towered high above the Indigo Plateau, where the Seventh Major Collision was taking place.

The war had been raging near on two years now. On one side, NeoEarth had trained its soldiers in all forms of hand weapons - machine guns, grenades, an awful deadly gas that turned the body white as bone before death. War planes and helicopters sped through the sky, muddy tanks plowed across the torn, burnt Kanto soil, destroying everything in their wake.

On the good side, Pokémon were the strongest assets. Soldiers on the Pokémon world had a rudimentary understanding of weaponry, but nothing as advanced or lethal as NeoEarth’s methods of killing. Still, the war effort was strong in Kanto. A battalion of men and women soared through the air on Pidgeot, Fearow, Salamence, Flygon - anything with wings. Will had mobilized a fleet, led by his own magnificent mount. Lugia served as a constant beacon of hope wherever it appeared, its great off-white body and soothing cry causing cheers to erupt whenever it was close.

On ground, Bruno and Koga were leading their own forces - Bruno with a great mass of Steelix, Onix, Rhyperior, Golem, and other massive walls of defense and brute strength. Koga chose quicker creatures of stealth - Arbok and Venomoth, Drapion, Scolipede and Seviper. Koga was also in charge of chemical warfare, utilizing all of his Poison Pokémon’s strengths. A special unit of Vileplume and Weezing were used to pour poison gases and powders across enemy lines. Lance, the Elite Four’s Champion, had gone missing, which was worrisome on top of the news that Karen had in fact been working against her own world for years. She had last been spotted flying in an enemy helicopter above Saffron City a full six months back. Rumors were abundant that she had personally murdered the Steward herself.

The death count showed no signs of slowing. Chase had joined the fight as Will’s personal Lieutenant. From her seat, Logan could see Lugia’s form darting about in the distance; she felt a tightness in her chest, knowing Chase was sitting beside Will on the great white creature, that any second he could be thrown off, or shattered into a million pieces with a grenade, or...she had lost count of the predicted deaths she had imagined Chase falling to. Try as she might to prevent them, these were the gruesome images that pervaded her thoughts, awake and asleep. She shivered, although the plateau was quite warm; it was midsummer.

“Look,” Tracey said suddenly, pointing towards Lugia’s large figure. It appeared to be moving toward the two friends; its shadow was speeding across the silvery mountainscape of Victory Road, away from the ashen battlefield. A helicopter flew over Tracey and Logan’s heads and they both ducked automatically. This had become second nature to the trainers. It kept moving, though, another machine of war to tear their world apart. Lugia took the machine down with a precisely-aimed Hyper Beam and continued on its trajectory towards the cliff.

“I think Will’s coming our way!” Logan exclaimed. She let out a cheer, as anyone in this war did when Will brought his attention to him or her; this also meant a glimpse of Chase, so rare these days. This excitement was quickly destroyed as she realized the implication of Will’s sudden leave from battle. One look at Tracey’s grim face confirmed her fears, his eyes clouded and his face steely. She gripped the arm of her sixteen-year-old friend and felt her heart pounding so hard it might break through her chest or explode. “He’s not coming...for you, is he? Not now, not today?” Tracey kept his eyes locked on the winged Pokémon, not answering.

Two nights ago, Tracey had been visited in his dreams by Arceus again, this time with the most ominous news yet: His life was now to be counted in days. Tracey had recounted the dream word-for-word to Logan, Chase, and Will:

“It was pure white, empty, just as it always is. Just me and Arceus, everything glowing and echoing. Arceus’ voice came to me, in my head, same as last time. ‘Tracey, the time has come for this war to end. This world has been scarred beyond reckoning, almost beyond salvation. Only one creature can save it now.’” Tracey looked at Will, who nodded, his scarlet eyes wide but understanding. Logan was pale, clutching Tracey’s arm. “He told me I have to climb Mt. Silver. At the very top is the altar where it was done last time.”

Legend had it in the ancient lore of Kanto that the first war, the Great Dividing Day, had been ended with a sacrifice made to Ho-oh. Only with the blood of an innocent upon the altar did Ho-oh descend from the heavens and light the Sacred Fire, the one that purged the impure from the land and left only those who would live harmoniously with Pokémon. Those who were corrupted but not beyond redemption were left with great burns and sent into a separate world, one without Pokémon, where they could live greedily but apart from the creatures they had abused.

“Arceus wants you...it wants you to be the One?” Will asked slowly. He had been kneeling beside Logan, still dressed for battle, his right arm still bleeding profusely from a bullet wound.

Tracey nodded, his eyes distant, his voice hollow in response. “This is what I was brought here for. This is what I was meant to do. ‘When the battle is lost...you must win it.’ That’s what Arceus said.”

Logan still heard these words echoing through her head, they were always ringing in her ears, and she spoke them aloud now, taking Tracey’s hand in hers and squeezing tight. She put her head on his shoulder. Lugia had arrived, landing as gracefully as was possible on the ledge; its right wing was damaged.

Chase leapt off first, staring at Tracey but not saying a word. War had not been good to him; it had hardened him almost beyond recognition. His head was shaven, several wounds pouring fresh blood from his scalp. His eyes, usually soft and welcoming, had become glassy copper-colored marbles. He had lost a bit of his left earlobe, something that could be fixed eventually but for now made his head appear lopsided.

Will followed, dressed in full riding gear and sweating profusely, his usually well-pampered violet hair hanging lankily around his ears. He strode toward Tracey gravely, afraid to be the one to speak the words.

“It’s time,” Tracey said, the only one able to articulate it. Will hesitated, but nodded very slowly, eyes lowered. Logan whimpered, but stood strong, squeezing Tracey’s hand.

Will swallowed and looked Tracey in the eye sadly. “There’s really no other way, at this point, Tracey. Without Ho-oh to restore the equilibrium...Kanto will be gone. Everyone and everything you know will be gone.” His voice shook with emotion. “I’m so sorry it has to be you, Tracey. I’ve told you before, I will gladly sacrifice myself…”

“Arceus said it had to be me, Will. It’s okay. I’ve accepted it.” Tracey’s hand twitched slightly, but his face betrayed nothing.

Chase remained silent, but walked slowly so that for the first time in months, he was standing side-by-side with his old companions. A siren rose out of the valley, and the Pokémon League building suddenly collapsed under its own weight below, causing a tremor to pass through the entire plateau.

Will cleared his throat, steadying himself before continuing. “Do you know the way to the summit of Mt. Silver?” Tracey nodded, and Logan stepped closer to him, eyes welling up. “Lugia and I will take you as far as we can, Tracey, but the legend says the Noble One walked the last part of his journey alone.”

“We’re going with you,” Chase said, finally speaking. Logan nodded emphatically, clenching her jaw and inhaling deeply, reaching her hand out for Chase’s. He joined the two, and they stood hand-in-hand, staring at Will and Lugia, and beyond them, at the great clouds of smoke issuing from the broken plateau. Another grenade shredded through the earth, causing more pungent smells and billows of that foul mixture of dirt and blood.

Tracey did not argue with his friends. He had been very calm about his ultimate fate up to this point; he seemed to finally be on the verge of collapse at this gesture from them. His deep-blue eyes locked with Chase’s amber ones, then with Logan’s sky-blue gaze, and the young man blinked rapidly, contorting his face in a way that might restrain tears. He gasped for air, which was enough to make Logan pull the two young men in for a long embrace that lasted until the next massive explosion. A Skarmory flew into an outcrop of rock not too far from them, dented, smoking, its eyes lifeless.

This seemed to ignite a new urgency in Will. He spoke, his voice hesitant but hurried. “We have limited time. Is there...well, is there anything you’d like to do, before...? One last moment with us,” he said quietly. Tracey looked at the Elite Four Member for a long time, thinking.

“Let me see my parents,” he said. This was too much for Logan, who began shaking hysterically. Chase, however, seemed strengthened by this request.

“You heard what he said,” the white-haired youth said quickly to Will, who seemed confused at this statement. “Let’s go.” The man nodded, beckoning to the three to join him on Lugia’s broad plate-covered back.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Preston was still furious at Alec for wandering off.

“I can’t seem to leave you alone for five minutes without you disappearing,” the older man said, his voice edged with tired frustration. He had spent a good half hour patrolling for the young trainer.

“Look, I don’t care if it was Will or Ho-oh or Arceus itself who told you I need you to look after me. I can manage on my own! Look!” Alec said, indicating his unblemished body. “I am FINE, okay?” The oddly assorted group had finally entered the Purpleheart Tunnels, and much to Chase’s irritation, Preston insisted they begin the long trek through the tunnels immediately, without rest.

“I don’t know why we couldn’t just sit down for five minutes,” Chase said darkly for the fourth time. Preston moaned in frustration, choosing to stare straight ahead as he continued leading the group forward.

“If I recall, this tunnel leads downhill for another three miles, before it begins twisting in a spiral that eventually leads out right beyond the National Park, and from that exit we can sneak through Ecruteak virtually undetected,” Preston said, trying to force calm back upon the group. He glanced down at his hand-drawn map of the tunnels, thankfully legible in the light Electivire was providing.

Logan was walking next to Alec, stealing glances back at Chase on occasion, as he was trailing very far behind the rest of the group. “What did your mom have to say that was so urgent, Alec?” she asked gently, trying to create civil conversation. Preston thanked her privately, as his own tolerance was very low. He had not slept for running on fifty-seven hours now.

“Oh, she was just checking in, you know…” Alec said evasively. He had decided not to mention Natalia’s warning to anyone except Logan, and he could only do that in private. Logan seemed to sense the deception, but even as she frowned and opened her mouth, Chase let out a cry behind him.

“What’s happened?” Preston asked quickly, looking around. Electivire stopped walking in front of him, the light bouncing quietly between his two black cables of a tail.

Chase seemed to have slipped on the smooth floor that had emerged in the last half-mile; the beautiful crystal cavern at the cave’s entrance had given way to an earthier, less jagged trail after a while. The young man was lying on his side in the fetal position, clutching at his knee. He was letting out a wonderfully colorful string of words in his pain.

Preston pushed past Logan and Alec, kneeling next to Chase. “Let’s have a look,” he said gently, reaching out. Chase shook his head stubbornly.

“Show him your knee, for Ho-oh’s sake!” Alec said bitterly. Preston did not look good; his face was haggard, collapsing from fatigue, the bags under his eyes more pronounced and his skin a distinct gray color. That he was being as patient as he was with Chase was astonishing to the fourteen-year-old boy, whose own temper was very short.

“I don’t have to show it to him, I’m fine,” Chase said, moving to get up.

“Well then why did you make such a SHOW out of it?” Alec asked, his fuse burning ever closer to explosion.

“I’m sorry we’re not all as hardy as you, you ignorant prick!” Chase barked. Logan inched closer to Alec, trying to stand between the two boys. “No, don’t shield him! What’s the matter with you, Logan? Why defend him? All he has done,” Chase said, pushing Preston out of the way to get closer to the auburn-haired youth, “is cause trouble! Why didn’t HE have to drag a dead body all the way down to that bleeding city?” he asked loudly to Preston, although his eyes were still trained on Alec like a hungry Mightyena.

“Please, Chase,” Logan said rationally, reaching an arm out, but Chase snarled. “You’re tired, everyone’s tired, please…” she pleaded.

“We’re tired because of him! Why are we doing all this? Because he’s got this stupid Rainbow Wing, why can’t he just give it up? Why’s it so valuable you can’t give it to somebody who can actually protect himself?” Chase asked, pacing dangerously close to Alec. He looked quite frightening at this proximity.

“I didn’t ask for this!” Alec said, shaking free of Logan’s trembling grasp. “If anyone’s to blame, it’s Will! He threw us together!”

Preston had closed the distance between himself and the group again, arms out. “Look, Chase, Alec, we can take a break, just lower your voices, please.”

It was too late; Chase had launched himself at Alec, pushing Logan out of the way, toward Preston. The two began punching and kicking each other; they were surprisingly an even match. Chase’s extra height was evened out by Alec’s hours put in on push-ups. Logan shrieked and Preston shouted, but neither of them could get close to the fighting boys.

“Chase!” Logan yelled. Chase had grabbed Alec, slamming him into the wall. The ceiling trembled; it seemed the area they were in was not quite as stable as Preston had promised. A few rocks fell from the low tunnel overhang.

“That’s enough,” Preston said in a forced calm, motioning to Electivire to break the fight apart. The large tiger-like creature roared, causing an unfortunate side-effect; its sonorous voice seemed to hit a sour note with the loose rocks surrounding the group, and suddenly a great cascade of boulders collapsed from all around, the ground crumbling as well. It seemed the tunnel also had a hidden basement; the floor was now giving way.

All was chaos for one awful moment, bodies clutching and voices screaming frantically. When the dust settled finally, the quaking dying out, there was a giant hole in the tunnel floor. Alec and Chase were on the original level, peering around, disoriented. Logan and Preston were nowhere to be found.

“Logan?” Chase called, peering into the dark pit. It was very hard to see; Electivire seemed to have fallen with the other two. There was no response. “Great! This is just GREAT. Who knows how far down that pit goes?” Chase said, his face red.

Alec stumbled on something in the dark. He reached down clumsily, groping for a few seconds in the dark before standing again. “This is useless,” he said, reaching for his belt and producing Magby’s Poké Ball. “We need light.”

“I’ll do it,” Chase said automatically, but Alec had already released his awkward bleary-eyed Pokémon.

“Magby, give us some light,” he said, and Magby bleated feebly; it seemed he had been having quite a good nap. After a slight delay, his small body glowed translucently, and the familiar purple candles of Will-o-Wisp ignited, floating eerily just beyond his tiny crimson form. The light, though not nearly as bright as Electivire’s, showed Alec what he had stumbled upon: of all things to be left behind in the split-up, Preston’s journal with all his sketches seemed to have parted ways with its owner.

“That’s convenient,” Chase muttered, crossing so that he could peer at the dog-eared pages with Alec. Alec was tempted to hoard the journal to himself, but hesitantly left his arms outstretched, hoping that perhaps this small form of peace offering might dissuade Chase from further outbursts.

“I think he had a map of the tunnel system in here,” Alec said, leafing through the intricately detailed notes in Preston’s handwriting. A picture fell from the front of the journal.

Chase caught it before it could hit the ground. “I think this is his wife,” he said, peering at the faded photograph. “She definitely looks familiar.” He held it up so Alec could see. Certainly the woman in the photograph had curly blonde hair, although she looked a little older than in the picture on Preston’s wall. There was no mistaking her, though; Preston was in the photograph as well, his gray eyes alive with laughter, his arms wrapped around his wife’s waist. Chase felt a twinge of sadness for Preston, running his fingers over the picture before tucking it back into the pages of the book in Alec’s hands.

“We need to find them,” Alec said, which Chase agreed with instantly.

The older of the two peered down into the deep hole that had recently opened and shouted Logan’s name once more. It was a long time before his echo returned, quite alone. Chase looked at Alec grimly, and Alec in response peered at the journal.

“I think there’s actually a way down to that level,” he said suddenly. He pointed forward, into the unknown, causing Magby to gulp.

Chase looked down to where he hope very much Logan was lying and nodded. “Let’s go,” he said.

…................................................. ....................................

-July 27, 2007-

Will, Tracey, Chase, and Logan landed in the small cemetery just outside Pallet Town after twenty minutes of flying. Tracey leapt off Lugia’s back before the Pokémon even reached ground, racing to the plot where his parents had been laid. His face was pale and his azure eyes wide, but he seemed emboldened at the sight of his parents’ final resting place. The cemetery itself was quite peaceful, a stark contrast to the deafening destruction and gray devastation existing just miles from the area. Somehow Pallet Town had remained safe from the raids; it seemed the town was too small and quaint to be considered worthy of attack.

Will and Chase hung back by Lugia, but Logan stepped forward to join Tracey. She had known his parents quite well, almost as well as her own, and she stood a respectful yard’s length back from Tracey with her head bowed. Amidst the headstones and grave markers, standing side by side were two engraved monuments to Mark and Bethany Morgan. Tracey had chosen the inscription himself.

Mark Morgan, 6/2/1962 - 8/6/2005
Bethany Elinore Morgan, 5/14/1965- 8/6/2005

You were brave, and strong, and true.

The graves were adorned with flowers and vines, and below the inscription was a symbol similar to the one he wore around his neck every day since their passing: A crude flame, out of which rose a simple ‘V’. Tracey had never explained the significance of this symbol, but he clutched the necklace around his neck now, speaking softly. Logan had one eye open, peeking at her best friend, completely lost for words.

Will’s Poké Gear rang abruptly, and Will stared down at it, silencing it quickly. He cleared his throat. “Tracey, um...well, I think we really ought to go.” Chase shot him a nasty look, but Will shook his head, holding the phone up him. Chase’s eyes widened. “Tracey?” Will asked, slightly louder. Logan stepped forward, lightly touching the long-haired boy’s shoulder. He started, looking around at his childhood friend, his vision blurred.

“It’s time,” she whispered.

As Lugia began the long journey to the peak of Mt. Silver, Logan looked at Tracey. He was glancing back at Pallet Town, the place he had known as home for sixteen years. The rolling green hills surrounding it, the flower beds, the simple tile-roof houses...he searched out and found what had once been his house, still just a few doors down from the Clements’ residence, pointing it out to Logan.

“Somebody else has lived there for two years,” he said flatly. Logan nodded sympathetically. “Logan, when I die...just make sure whatever’s left of me goes with my parents. Please.”

“Of course,” she said hoarsely. Pallet Town shrunk down to the size of a postage stamp, and Tracey looked away.

Chase and Will were further forward on Lugia’s wide back, staring straight ahead. Will’s eyes were glowing a pale crimson, his mind synced with Lugia’s through psychic energy.

Chase was very pale. “So we might have some company on the mountain?” he asked in a would-be-calm voice. Will nodded slowly. The Poké Gear had borne a startling message from a number unknown to Chase: Karen has been spotted with some accomplices near the summit of the mountain. Be very careful. “Who sent that message?”

“A very good friend of mine, used to be gym leader at Olivine City. He’s been leading a recon mission through the tunnels of Mt. Silver, keeping it safe for the moment. With any luck, he’ll be able to track down and obstruct Karen before we get there.” Will did not sound confident in this notion. Chase swallowed, looking back at Tracey. The trainer seemed to have retreated into himself, barely moving and staring aimlessly to his right.

“We’re almost there,” he called back to his friend, but Tracey did not respond. Logan took his hand, squeezing it. She locked eyes with Chase, who looked away uneasily. The two had not spoken in a long time.

“Get ready,” Will muttered, tightening his focus on Lugia and leaning forward, sending the Pokémon into a shallow dive. Mt. Silver loomed ahead, its majestic purple peak capped with snow. Logan had never seen a place she feared more.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Logan opened her eyes, coughing. Everything was dark, and very warm. She was partially buried under rocks; only her feet and right arm were uncovered. She blinked several times, but could not see through the cold stones pressing in on her face, which felt broken.

“Tracey?” she called deliriously, before correcting herself. “Alec? Chase?” There was no response. She tried feebly to move her other limbs; only the uncovered arm was able to budge. “Help,” she said, not able to raise her voice. She inhaled quite a large amount of dirt and coughed again, beginning to panic.

“Logan?” a hoarse voice called. It was Preston. She attempted to respond, but her voice seemed to have given up. She passed out for a time.

Eventually she felt herself being lifted from her rocky tomb by a pair of strong arms, and a warm liquid was poured into her mouth, sensation beginning to spread throughout her body again. She tried to sit herself up, but the same strong arms held her down.

“Just relax, Logan,” came Preston’s calm voice, and she obeyed. A wet but very soothing towel was pressed to her forehead, and after a time she felt she trusted her senses enough to open her eyes. She had to blink several times to convince herself she wasn’t blind. Preston’s lined face swam in front of her. He smiled gently.

“Welcome back,” he said. Wherever they were, there was a very bright light source closeby. It took another few blinks to realize it was Electivire, who seemed quite unscathed from the fall. Preston, however, looked terrible; his face was coated in dirt, a wound was pouring blood liberally on his left cheek, and it seemed something had happened to his right leg; he was sitting on it rather awkwardly.

“What happened?” she asked groggily. Preston smiled, although this one did not reach his eyes; he pulled the towel back out from the bowl next to him and placed it on Logan’s forehead.

“We fell,” he said simply, which made Logan frown. “I neglected to tell you three about the basement level of the tunnel, that there are some areas that are susceptible for cave-ins.” He shook his head apologetically. “That ridiculous fight Chase started with Alec...it was enough, I guess. We fell about thirty-five feet, by my estimation, so honestly we’re quite lucky to be as well-off as we are. Unscathed.” Something about the way he said this made Logan uncomfortable; she tried to get a better look at his leg, which he strategically shifted underneath himself. “Unfortunately, the fall seems to not be as kind to technology,” he said, producing a pile of splintered circuits and glass, all that was left of his Poké Gear.

Logan looked down at herself; she suppressed a cry when she saw the state of her beautiful sapphire-blue cardigan, ripped in several places. “Where are Alec and Chase?” she asked.

Preston shook his head slowly, looking up. “They didn’t come with us. Neither did my journal with all the maps, so there goes our chance at finding the straightest path back to them. If they’re smart, they won’t go searching for us, because we could be walking circles in these tunnels for weeks. If they follow the maps, and you and I follow a general bearing of northeast, we should actually make pretty good time to the exit.” Preston sighed. “But I don’t trust that either of them will know to do that. Knowing Chase, he’ll insist on trying to find you.” He smiled again at Logan, who closed her eyes, knowing he had made an eerily accurate estimate of Chase’s personality.

“Am I okay to walk?” Logan asked after a time. She opened her eyes; Preston was rummaging through his big bag, looking for something. His gray eyes looked her up and down critically.

“I think you would be, quite okay, yes,” he said softly. He pulled a long plank and multiple bandages from the rucksack. “Myself, on the other hand…” he muttered, finally extending his right leg. Logan gasped; his leg was shattered, the shin too flat and bleeding in many places. In one such spot, she thought faintly, it seemed bone had broken through the skin.

“Preston!” she exclaimed. He poked at it glumly, wincing and blinking several times, breathing evenly.

“I’ve had worse,” he muttered, beginning to bandage the lower leg. Logan felt a sudden surge of affection for the man; he had made sure she was fully awake and well before tending to himself. She struggled up to help with the bandaging process.

After splinting his leg and testing it gingerly, Logan helped Preston stand up, shouldering most of his weight, his strong arm draped around her shoulder. She stumbled a little, and Preston pulled away quickly, leaning instead on the wall.

“You can’t hold my weight,” he said, and Logan frowned.

“You’re not walking -” she began, but he shook his head, smiling.

“Have you forgotten we have Pokémon?” he asked, his eyes crinkling. He released his Sawsbuck, who shook his long antlers and pawed at the rocky ground uneasily. “C’mere, boy,” he said, pulling himself over to the stag and throwing an arm over his chestnut back. “Help me get on, and then we’ll just go at a nice, easy pace,” Preston said to Logan. He looked guilty. “I would offer you a ride, too, but...I don’t think Sawsbuck is THAT strong.” The Pokémon snorted indignantly. but Logan shook her head.

“It’s fine,” she said, cupping her hands and, with Electivire on the other side, helping Preston climb onto the deer’s back, his right leg hanging lamely over the side.

“Now we just have to figure out where northeast is,” Preston said, but Logan’s head jerked up quite suddenly.

“Do you hear something?” she asked, looking around, curious. The two trainers and Pokémon stood in the cavern for a moment, listening.

“It’s coming from down there,” Preston said, pointing to the left and frowning.

“Could it be Alec and Chase?” Logan asked hopefully, but Preston shook his head.

“It sounds female,” he said, his brow furrowing further. “Well, I don’t suppose we can resist the temptation to investigate,” he said, smiling wryly at Logan, who returned the gesture. He whispered for a moment in Sawsbuck’s ear, patting his soft head, and then turned to Logan. “Well, miss, you lead. Let’s go!”

One floor up, Alec and Chase continued walking along the path Preston had drawn out for himself in his notes. There was very little conversation; the two seemed to agree on one thing, that neither had much to say.

Magby stumbled a little bit, his stumpy legs growing tired from the extended walk over uneven terrain; he had never liked exercise much.

“Maaaag,” he complained, looking at Alec with droopy, exhausted eyes.

“Not much farther,” Alec said, although he himself had no idea whether the passage to the basement was three feet or three miles away.

“So, you have a Magby, Machop, and Pupitar,” Chase said, finally deciding to attempt civil conversation. “Where’s your starter Pokémon?” Alec blinked, not seeming to understand the question. “You know, your starter? The first Pokémon a trainer gets at the start of his journey? You must have gone to Professor Elm,” Chase said, attempting to prompt response.

“I never got a starter. I never even got League Certification,” Alec said. Chase looked stunned.

“How? What? ...why?” the white-haired boy asked.

“My parents...did not want me to be a trainer,” Alec said tersely. “I had to make my own money to buy my first Poké Balls myself, after...after I left home,” he continued carefully. “And nobody ever gave me a Pokémon. I had to wrestle with Larv...Pupitar myself, it was not too fun,” he said, grimacing at the memory.

“Oh...well, I’m sorry,” Chase said, looking forward and continuing to walk. Alec and he exchanged glances several times, Magby standing between them, squealing unhappily.

“What was your first?” Alec asked. This seemed to strike a bad chord with Chase, who frowned.

“I...um, well I come from Hoenn. I was given a Treecko. Here, look,” he said, rummaging through his pockets for a picture. He produced an old, ripped polaroid, which Alec took, squinting to see in the light.

“That’s adorable,” he said, his eyes running over the little ten-year-old Chase and his lime-green lizard Pokémon, the Treecko’s big yellow eyes sparkling and its red mouth opened in a toothy grin. “What happened to it?” Chase remained silent. “Wait a second…” Alec peered closer at the photograph. “Chase, um...your hair…” Alec looked back and forth between the photo and the nineteen-year-old version of Chase, confused.

Chase snatched the picture back from him. “Let’s keep walking,” he said.

“Sorry…” Why was Chase’s hair in the picture jet-black? Alec wondered silently, staring intently at the back of Chase’s head, covered in snow-white thin hair. “That’s not natural,” he muttered, only loud enough that Magby could hear next to him.

Thirty feet below, Preston and Logan had pressed eagerly in the opposite direction towards the echoing voices. The tunnel walls glowed in this section with some phosphorous plant; it was really quite arresting.

“There’s more than one,” Logan whispered as the voices became clearer.

“All female,” Preston observed. After a moment: “Actually, no. One male.” There seemed to be an opening in the wall to their left ten yards ahead; Electivire’s light certainly stopped quite suddenly at a certain point.

“Who could it -” Logan began, but Preston held up his hand, listening. He motioned forward silently, touching a finger to his lips to indicated silence. They crawled forward softly, Sawsbuck doing his best to be silent on the rocky floor.

“...would seriously let us down like that, really,” said an alto voice, silky and calm.

“I was only doing what Gabriel asked,” said another, this one younger sounding. Frustration was quite apparent in her voice.

“Gabriel told us everything, how you turned against him, how you offered to HELP THE BOY protect the Wing?” Here was the one male voice Preston had heard. The ex-gym leader exchanged eager glances with Logan; she made to move forward, but he shot his hand out, scaring Sawsbuck, who let out a whinny.

“Dammit, Sawsbuck,” Preston hissed. He and Logan froze, but so had the voices in the other room.

“What...was that?” asked the lower female voice. “Go and check for me, Brodie.” Silence, and then a sandy-haired wiry figure emerged cautiously, staring around, eyes drawn immediately to Logan, Preston, Sawsbuck, and Electivire, frozen like a Deerling in headlights.

“Hey, uh...Amy, we have a problem,” he said, his voice quiet.

“What is it?”

“Two trainers, an Electivire, and a Sawsbuck. One of ‘em’s old and crippled, and the other looks ready to cry,” he said, not in a mean way.

“Well then,” came the low voice. “That’s easily fixed.” Preston looked at Logan, eyes wide. “Invite our neighbors in, why don’t you?” it said sweetly.

…................................................. ....................................

-July 27, 2007-

The wind whistled across the snowy trail that led treacherously to the shrine atop Mt. Silver. Will had landed two miles back, making a small camp, waiting cautiously with Lugia, insisting he should hang back just in case of ambush. His friend (Preston, he had been called) had apparently managed to apprehend Karen’s company, although Karen herself was notably absent from the group he had intercepted. “Just keep your eyes open,” he reiterated before shaking hands with Tracey.

The boy marched forward, pulling his blue cardigan tighter to his body and squinting his eyes against the repeated agonizing knifes of air being shot his way. Logan and Chase were right behind him, both gravely silent, watching their friend carry on. Tracey was surrounded by his Pokémon: Bulby, Rikelec, Quilber, Skar, and his unnamed Trapinch. Skar he was carrying; the Skarmory was blind and had never been given the proper medical attention needed to fix the retinal damage.

Logan gasped; the gigantic wooden shrine had finally emerged ahead of them, still a half-mile up, but definitely too close for Chase and herself to follow anymore. The legend had clearly dictated the final steps were taken by one person only. “Tracey…” she said softly. The boy had stopped walking, his back to his friends.

“I guess this is it,” he said, turning around. His face was flushed, determined. It seemed he was beyond remorse at this point, ready to finish the journey. He stepped toward Chase, gently placing Skar on the ground and extending his hand to the young man. “Chase, I’m so glad our paths crossed. Whether we were actually ever meant to travel together or not, I know we met for a reason. Here,” he said, reaching up and unclasping the necklace with the symbol on it. “Old family heirloom. Do me a favor and wear it every once in a while.” He smiled, a crooked, unsteady gesture, but a genuine one.

Chase reached out slowly, taking the necklace wordlessly. He looked at Tracey for a long time before pulling him into a hug. “Thank you,” he said. Logan watched, biting her lip, awaiting the inevitable.

Tracey crossed to Bulby and the rest of his Pokémon next. He knelt down and took Skar’s head in his right hand and Trapinch’s sturdy shell in the other. “I’m gonna miss you guys,” he said in an unnaturally high voice. He passed over Quilber, who would be making the final ascent with him. Manectric was next; the quadruped Pokémon observed him, stony-faced as ever, glaring at his trainer, as if chastising his decision. “Don’t give me that look, bud. You know it’s meant to be.” Rikelec was unconvinced, but allowed Tracey to pull his blue-and-yellow body into a long hug. Finally, Tracey turned to Bulby. “You and me, pal, to the end,” he croaked, his voice suddenly broken, finished. Bulby’s large green eyes were full of confusion.

“Shar?” he asked, pawing at Tracey’s arm. Tracey kissed the Pokémon’s forehead and pulled himself away, standing and looking at Logan.

“I don’t have anything to give you,” he said blankly. The boy had very few personal possessions, Logan knew. With one fluid movement, he produced the solution: he pulled his blue cardigan from his thin body, draping it instead around his best and oldest friend. “Take care of everyone, won’t you?” he asked, pulling back and looking her in the eyes.

Logan nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Tracey pulled her into a hug, which lasted for an eternity, the two clutching tighter and tighter. It was the kind of embrace that transcended spoken words; there were none that could adequately sum up the years they had spent together. Logan couldn’t let him go, so instead she looked him in the face and leaned forward, truly kissing him for the first and only time, fully, deeply. Chase looked away.

“Thanks,” Tracey said finally, when the kiss broke. Logan smiled, and then began laughing, long and hard, until Tracey joined in. The two embraced again, and then they stopped. The boy pulled away, smiling, and his eyes flooded at last. “Hey. It doesn’t end here. We’re friends forever...” he started, and Logan finished.

“...forever and always.” She blinked, wiping away the tears.

Tracey stepped away from his friends and Pokémon, staring up at the shrine. “Well, here goes nothing,” he said, shrugging. “Ready, pal?” he asked his Quilava. The lithe fire creature nodded, padding to stand by his trainer. “Then let’s end this war,” he said. And he began walking. Bulby tried to run after him, crying out, but Logan grabbed him, pulling the frog into her arms. The boy walked, stumbling once or twice, but keeping a steady pace to the top of the mountain.

A shadow stirred behind the shrine, and Logan’s jaw dropped in terror. Karen was awaiting Tracey calmly atop the peeling wooden structure. She must have doubled around the mountain away from the rest of her team, and now she awaited the boy with folded arms, long silver hair flying in the wind.

“Tracey!” Logan called, unable to restrain herself. She began to run forward, but it was Chase who restrained her this time.

“We can’t do anything for him now,” Chase said, his voice determinedly calm. Tracey had stepped onto the shrine, Quilber right behind him, the flames on the Pokémon’s back throwing the old shrine into sharp relief. Karen was standing in full view of the trainer, and Logan and Chase could hear her cold voice speaking to Tracey in snatches over the cold winds.

“We need to help him, Chase” Logan said urgently, reaching for her belt. Chase grabbed her hand, shaking his head.

“Legend says the One HAS to be alone,” he said, but Logan stepped on his foot.

“Screw the legend, dammit, Tracey needs his friends,” she said firmly. She jerked forward, beginning to run up the hill, Bulby still cradled in her arms. Tracey was yelling something, although she couldn’t hear what.

Everything was suddenly very hot. Quilber had unleashed his strongest move, Eruption, raining flame and destruction upon the shrine and the surrounding rock formations. Karen shrieked, and then everything went silent. Nothing moved except the yellow fire for one long moment, and then the flames exploded, creating a blinding white light around the shrine. A single piercing cry rose above everything, horrible and beautiful at the same time, and Logan backed away, her heart stopping.

“...this phoenix rises up from the ground, and all these wars are over…” Chase uttered reverently behind her.

And from the pyre, Ho-oh emerged, resplendent in all the colors of the rainbow, gold sparks shooting in every direction. The bird was massive, at least Lugia’s size, and twice as magnificent, twice as terrible. With a single act from one sixteen-year-old boy, Ho-oh flew for the first time on earth in thousands of years, crying out. The mountain was trembling. The deity looked down upon the bruised and broken world it had come to restore, spreading its wings, rising into the sky.

And Ho-oh opened its eyes just as Tracey Morgan closed his for the last time.

Bulba the Great!
5th December 2013, 9:18 PM
http://i41.*******.com/2vvmi9u.jpg

If anybody is curious, this is a rendering of the symbol I talk about in Chapter Eleven - Tracey's necklace.

Pink Harzard
6th December 2013, 12:50 PM
You asked me to take a look at your story, so here I am.
First thing I would like to say. Your discriptions, they are wonderfull. It's a huge flaw im my writing so I have the feeling I learn a lot upon reading your story.
The story overall is pretty interesting and realistic as well.

I don't have a good review about the chapters that have been reviewed. So I will start with the most recent one.

(BTW, I'm Dutch so the change is higher that I miss grammar mistakes)






Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter 11

-July 27, 2007-

Nice to give the exact day when it happens.


Another shell sounded in the distance, debris careening in every direction from Viridian City, followed by the roar of hundreds of wounded Pokémon, angry, pained, desperate. Logan was shielding her eyes, her body curled up as small as possible in Tracey’s arms. The two were sitting on a shelf of slate that towered high above the Indigo Plateau, where the Seventh Major Collision was taking place.

This realy gives me the feeling that the reader is in a warzone. Nicely done.


Lance, the Elite Four’s Champion, had gone missing, which was worrisome on top of the news that Karen had in fact been working against her own world for years. She had last been spotted flying in an enemy helicopter above Saffron City a full six months back. Rumors were abundant that she had personally murdered the Steward herself.

You mean with the Steward the guy at the gate who is always thirsty?


A helicopter flew over Tracey and Logan’s heads and they both ducked automatically. This had become second nature to the trainers. It kept moving, though, another machine of war to tear their world apart. Lugia took the machine down with a precisely-aimed Hyper Beam and continued on its trajectory towards the cliff.

So the helicopter kind of ignored Lugia and flew further? Good that Lugia blasts it down. What could the goal of the helicopter have been?


Two nights ago, Tracey had been visited in his dreams by Arceus again, this time with the most ominous news yet: His life was now to be counted in days. Tracey had recounted the dream word-for-word to Logan, Chase, and Will:

“It was pure white, empty, just as it always is. Just me and Arceus, everything glowing and echoing. Arceus’ voice came to me, in my head, same as last time. ‘Tracey, the time has come for this war to end. This world has been scarred beyond reckoning, almost beyond salvation. Only one creature can save it now.’” Tracey looked at Will, who nodded, his scarlet eyes wide but understanding. Logan was pale, clutching Tracey’s arm. “He told me I have to climb Mt. Silver. At the very top is the altar where it was done last time.”

Arceus who appears in your dreams? That is like getting a mission from God. Nice to show the explanation of Tracy's dream in a flashback.


Legend had it in the ancient lore of Kanto that the first war, the Great Dividing Day, had been ended with a sacrifice made to Ho-oh. Only with the blood of an innocent upon the altar did Ho-oh descend from the heavens and light the Sacred Fire, the one that purged the impure from the land and left only those who would live harmoniously with Pokémon. Those who were corrupted but not beyond redemption were left with great burns and sent into a separate world, one without Pokémon, where they could live greedily but apart from the creatures they had abused.

I love mythologie and this one is pretty cool. One little thing. I suspect that Natalia's weird glowing burn wounds are from Ho-oh's fire. But the myth says that the ones who got burned end up in a another world.



“Arceus wants you...it wants you to be the One?” Will asked slowly. He had been kneeling beside Logan, still dressed for battle, his right arm still bleeding profusely from a bullet wound.

Tracey nodded, his eyes distant, his voice hollow in response. “This is what I was brought here for. This is what I was meant to do. ‘When the battle is lost...you must win it.’ That’s what Arceus said.”


I still don't get why Tracey is the one. Aren't his friends good enough as a sacrifice?


Lugia had arrived, landing as gracefully as was possible on the ledge; its right wing was damaged.

No need for gracefulness Lugia, its war.


Chase leapt off first, staring at Tracey but not saying a word. War had not been good to him; it had hardened him almost beyond recognition. His head was shaven, several wounds pouring fresh blood from his scalp. His eyes, usually soft and welcoming, had become glassy copper-colored marbles. He had lost a bit of his left earlobe, something that could be fixed eventually but for now made his head appear lopsided.

Good way to tell how war changes a person in character and looks.



“If I recall, this tunnel leads downhill for another three miles, before it begins twisting in a spiral that eventually leads out right beyond the National Park, and from that exit we can sneak through Ecruteak virtually undetected,” Preston said.

I often have the feeling that the places in the games are too limited. Good to see you've added new places.


Logan was walking next to Alec, stealing glances back at Chase on occasion, as he was trailing very far behind the rest of the group. “What did your mom have to say that was so urgent, Alec?” she asked gently, trying to create civil conversation.

Alec needs to trust someone but meanwhile he is lying to the same person. Good going kid -_-


“Oh, she was just checking in, you know…” Alec said evasively. He had decided not to mention Natalia’s warning to anyone except Logan, and he could only do that in private.

So he is planning to tell her. He will better do it fast, before it is to late.


He was letting out a wonderfully colorful string of words in his pain.

What a way to tell he is swearing.
I would use colourful instead of colorful. But I think you write American English while I do Brittish English.
O, and maybe put a comma between wonderfully and colourful. So it will be:

He was letting out a wonderfully, colourful string of words in his pain.


“Well then why did you make such a SHOW out of it?” Alec asked, his fuse burning ever closer to explosion.

Watch you temper kid.


“I’m sorry we’re not all as hardy as you, you ignorant prick!” Chase barked. Logan inched closer to Alec, trying to stand between the two boys. “No, don’t shield him! What’s the matter with you, Logan? Why defend him? All he has done,” Chase said, pushing Preston out of the way to get closer to the auburn-haired youth, “is cause trouble! Why didn’t HE have to drag a dead body all the way down to that bleeding city?” he asked loudly to Preston, although his eyes were still trained on Alec like a hungry Mightyena.

O great. The group members are realy loving eachother.


“Chase!” Logan yelled. Chase had grabbed Alec, slamming him into the wall. The ceiling trembled; it seemed the area they were in was not quite as stable as Preston had promised. A few rocks fell from the low tunnel overhang.

Better watch out. What if the cave collapses?


“That’s enough,” Preston said in a forced calm, motioning to Electivire to break the fight apart. The large tiger-like creature roared, causing an unfortunate side-effect; its sonorous voice seemed to hit a sour note with the loose rocks surrounding the group, and suddenly a great cascade of boulders collapsed from all around, the ground crumbling as well. It seemed the tunnel also had a hidden basement; the floor was now giving way.

I warned you.


The older of the two peered down into the deep hole that had recently opened and shouted Logan’s name once more. It was a long time before his echo returned, quite alone. Chase looked at Alec grimly, and Alec in response peered at the journal.

A good way to start to accept eachother. Getting stuck in a situation and work together to solve it.


Mark Morgan, 6/2/1962 - 8/6/2005
Bethany Elinore Morgan, 5/14/1965- 8/6/2005

You were brave, and strong, and true.

Maybe the gravestone tekst flows better if it is like this:

You were brave, strong and true.


Will’s eyes were glowing a pale crimson, his mind synced with Lugia’s through psychic energy.

That is pretty impressive. Looking in those eyes sounds kind of scary to me.


We fell about thirty-five feet,

How much is that in meters?


“Unfortunately, the fall seems to not be as kind to technology,” he said, producing a pile of splintered circuits and glass, all that was left of his Poké Gear.

Not good.


“I think you would be, quite okay, yes,” he said softly. He pulled a long plank and multiple bandages from the rucksack. “Myself, on the other hand…” he muttered, finally extending his right leg. Logan gasped; his leg was shattered, the shin too flat and bleeding in many places. In one such spot, she thought faintly, it seemed bone had broken through the skin.

That looks very bad. He must be in a lot of pain.


“I’ve had worse,” he muttered, beginning to bandage the lower leg. Logan felt a sudden surge of affection for the man; he had made sure she was fully awake and well before tending to himself. She struggled up to help with the bandaging process.

I realy like this man.


Magby stumbled a little bit, his stumpy legs growing tired from the extended walk over uneven terrain; he had never liked exercise much.

That poor thing is being captured by the wrong trainer.


“Wait a second…” Alec peered closer at the photograph. “Chase, um...your hair…” Alec looked back and forth between the photo and the nineteen-year-old version of Chase, confused.

Chase snatched the picture back from him. “Let’s keep walking,” he said.

“Sorry…” Why was Chase’s hair in the picture jet-black? Alec wondered silently, staring intently at the back of Chase’s head, covered in snow-white thin hair. “That’s not natural,” he muttered, only loud enough that Magby could hear next to him.

I've heard once that your hair can become white because of extreme stress. If that's true, could that be the case?


“What...was that?” asked the lower female voice. “Go and check for me, Brodie.” Silence, and then a sandy-haired wiry figure emerged cautiously, staring around, eyes drawn immediately to Logan, Preston, Sawsbuck, and Electivire, frozen like a Deerling in headlights.

If you think it could't getting worse...



“I don’t have anything to give you,” he said blankly. The boy had very few personal possessions, Logan knew. With one fluid movement, he produced the solution: he pulled his blue cardigan from his thin body, draping it instead around his best and oldest friend. “Take care of everyone, won’t you?” he asked, pulling back and looking her in the eyes.

But that's the same one that got heavely damaged when Logan fell down with Preston.


A shadow stirred behind the shrine, and Logan’s jaw dropped in terror. Karen was awaiting Tracey calmly atop the peeling wooden structure. She must have doubled around the mountain away from the rest of her team, and now she awaited the boy with folded arms, long silver hair flying in the wind.

Of course she had to stop him at the last moment.


Everything was suddenly very hot. Quilber had unleashed his strongest move, Eruption, raining flame and destruction upon the shrine and the surrounding rock formations. Karen shrieked, and then everything went silent. Nothing moved except the yellow fire for one long moment, and then the flames exploded, creating a blinding white light around the shrine. A single piercing cry rose above everything, horrible and beautiful at the same time, and Logan backed away, her heart stopping.

Kill yourself and your enemy in a Eruption to make the sacrifice succeed. Clever.


“...this phoenix rises up from the ground, and all these wars are over…” Chase uttered reverently behind her.

And from the pyre, Ho-oh emerged, resplendent in all the colors of the rainbow, gold sparks shooting in every direction. The bird was massive, at least Lugia’s size, and twice as magnificent, twice as terrible. With a single act from one sixteen-year-old boy, Ho-oh flew for the first time on earth in thousands of years, crying out. The mountain was trembling. The deity looked down upon the bruised and broken world it had come to restore, spreading its wings, rising into the sky.

And Ho-oh opened its eyes just as Tracey Morgan closed his for the last time.

That was impressive. Very impressive.

I realy enjoyed your story. Please keep it up.
And I hope you can do something with my review.

~Pink Harzard

Sidewinder
11th December 2013, 12:15 AM
Sorry it took me so long buddy

Chapter 8


Soon, however, the coarse sand gave way to smooth purple-and-green jetties, slick and slippery with seaweed

I liked that sentence. It was easily to visualize and painted a pleasant picture. Nicely done


“Do you want first aid?” Preston asked, glancing up from his rucksack

That sounded a bit too out of place and official for me. I feel like it would work better if you put something along the lines of 'Want me to take a look at that?', or something along those lines. I just think it would read better


He stood up as well, highlighting the physical disparity between the two, rather like an Alakazam looking down at a Kadabra, flaunting its experience.

That made me laugh. Cute


“Does somebody else have the key that I don’t know about?” he mused, drawing a chuckle from his wife

I've literally said almost the exact same thing when I've come home to my wife lol. Very realistic and funny touch


“I love you. Arceus’ Plates, I love you so much Carrie Preston.”

I have a little bit of a problem with that. Obviously the two of them are close, and earth shaking news like this would draw them even closer together, so when he says her full name it almost became kind of impersonal in a way. I feel like it would work alot better if you used something like, 'Sweetheart', 'Baby', or something along those lines. It goes even further to show their closeness. You dig?



“Whatever.”

“Can we continue, please?” Chase asked, arms folded. Alec nodded

Whatever? omg what a child lol



“How does a man like him get a legendary?” he wondered aloud.


Hmm, I wonder too!


seemed happy for Larvitar except Alec, whose face was twisted in disgust.

Does he think that Larvitar's personality will change somehow perhaps? Or does he just hate its evolutions? Hmm

Chapter nine

I'll go ahead and tell you now that the time shifts are really getting to me. I'm beginning to get confused and a little disoriented with the characters. I know why you're doing them and obviously its important to show past events to explain the actions of the characters now, but if you do it in such a way that it confuses the readers, it works against you. I might reccomend dropping flashbacks in instead of breaking story and focusing on a specific year. Even doing that intermittently will help with not having to keep up with randomly occuring years. I say this because unlike a book that you read quickly or all at once, when you have to wait for updates for sometimes weeks, you start to forget when the events happen and you focus so much on the date that as a reader I forget what you're writing entirely. Flashbacks triggered by words or objects though are much easier to keep track of and remember. Make sense?


‘Adrenaline Rush’, a rare condition a Pokémon occasionally passed into during battle.

Very cool idea, I like it. I hope to see more of this


Sceptile was my baby, he was my best friend, he was my everything,”

That was actually surprisingly and believably emotional. Kudos!


“Pupitar is so...limited. It can’t move! Not properly.

That makes sense as to why he was disappointed now. Though it is surprisingly shallow of him


The beach seemed to extend for miles on either side, shooting straight out to his right and curving gently northward to his left.

Excellent description there, but I stumbled on 'seemed'. If he can see it going for miles, then it goes for miles. I'd take that word out


The way in was hidden; Preston had to show Alec the way the opening was cleverly concealed behind a sparse crop of brush (“Limber pine”, Preston called it) that grew specifically in mountain ranges; stunted, mostly branches with little green. Nevertheless, the bushes were positioned in a way that from even ten feet away, the gaping hole in the side of the mountain couldn’t be seen.

I know I'm harping on it but your description is actually improving wonderfully from chapter to chapter. Be proud of that sir


Chase, pulling him towards her; he thought they were going to kiss, but suddenly he was passing through her body, burning with her, the flames excruciating.

The dream sequence felt a little hasty but it was very well written and showed me more of the inner workings of Chase, which I liked a great deal. He's more complex than I originally thought. Not that I thought he was a blockhead or anything, but I liked the emotion of the sequence. Good job

Chapter Ten


The small gray Pokémon was again locked into the Macho Brace, crying out every now and again. Preston couldn’t help pitying him slightly; the tears gathering in his wide eyes, the sweat pooling around the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer

I liked how you intermingled the description with the actions of why he was going through it. A nice roundabout way for description and one that's lost on a lot of people. Great job!


Stretched out on a jet-black rock, limp, swollen and soggy, was Amber Janson’s body. Her skin was mottled and clammy, her lips blue, her eyes open, empty. She was unmistakably dead.

You may consider cutting out the last sentence. Obviously she's dead. It's almost like you're trying to make sure we're following you


o you will not. You need to be kept away from major cities as long as possible. Shake Gabriel off your scent.” Alec frowned at this, but Preston had turned his eyes to Chase. “I think it’s clear who it needs to be.”

I'm starting to feel like Preston may be the only one with any brains. The rest of them just bumble around a bit much and rely more on emotion than cleverness. Which isn't a bad thing at all, as emotion can lead you to where you need to get, all I'm saying its nice to see Preston using his noggin


This withholding of truth, that he had murdered an innocent girl, was the first time he’d ever deceived her...or was it? Did he not trust her with the truth? He shouldn’t, she thought bitterly. I don’t even trust myself with it.

That was a really honest thought. I have more respect for him after that, even given the circumstances


“It’s my mom,” he whispered to Logan.

LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE


kissed, more than kissed, SUPER kissed,

Betrayed her age there. I love how true to life you've made them. I remember the point in my life where I thought of kissing and SUPER-kissing. Lmao that was awesome buddy


Because girls can be real *****es sometimes.

Once again like I told you before. If you're against putting swear words in entirely, then just dont use them at all. Swearing is a really good way to emphasize points and get a message across, but when they're censored like this it really causes me to stumble and break the mood I get into while reading the story. Pay attention to that


But if you think, for a second, that I enjoy working for him…”

For stuff like this I would put the word 'second' in italics instead of underlining it. Looks kinda odd when you underline it


Gabriel shook his head. “That would let the team know I had already chosen to forgive you, Natalia. What kind of respectable leader does THAT so easily?”

That seemed a bit too comically grandiose for my taste. I felt like Gabriel is a bit more stern and serious than that

Chapter Eleven


an awful deadly gas that turned the body white as bone before death

Done some reading on Sarin gas, have you? Hussein used it on the Kurds during the Desert Storm era. Awful, nasty stuff.


On ground, Bruno and Koga were leading their own forces - Bruno with a great mass of Steelix, Onix, Rhyperior, Golem, and other massive walls of defense and brute strength. Koga chose quicker creatures of stealth - Arbok and Venomoth, Drapion, Scolipede and Seviper. Koga was also in charge of chemical warfare, utilizing all of his Poison Pokémon’s strengths. A special unit of Vileplume and Weezing were used to pour poison gases and powders across enemy lines. Lance, the Elite Four’s Champion, had gone missing, which was worrisome on top of the news that Karen had in fact been working against her own world for years. She had last been spotted flying in an enemy helicopter above Saffron City a full six months back. Rumors were abundant that she had personally murdered the Steward herself.

Brilliant description and just plain awesome. I loved how you used the well known characters and played to their strengths. I hope you go into more of these battle scenes later as they are incredibly interesting. War and fighting (as you know from my fic), are extremely entertaining to me


or shattered into a million pieces with a grenade

I see what you're going for here but it was a little too exaggerated


“Show him your knee, for Ho-oh’s sake!”

You mention Ho-Oh and 'Arecus's Plates' quite a bit as a metaphor for us using God. I'd love to see more eventually about the different religious belief systems and their doctrines later on. You work it in so casually that it sounds really good. Just be careful not to go overboard



“Get ready,” Will muttered, tightening his focus on Lugia and leaning forward, sending the Pokémon into a shallow dive. Mt. Silver loomed ahead, its majestic purple peak capped with snow. Logan had never seen a place she feared more.

That was an extremely gripping portion. It called forth an almost morbidly hopeful excitement in me. I loved it


We fell about thirty-five feet, by my estimation, so honestly we’re quite lucky to be as well-off as we are. Unscathed.”

35 Feet? That's taller than the ceilings of most department stores. It's too unbelievable that they would come out as they did because a fall from twenty feet can seriously injure, if not kill


I had to wrestle with Larv...Pupitar myself, it was not too fun,” he said, grimacing at the memory.

I'd love to hear that full story lol. Sounds fun


And Ho-oh opened its eyes just as Tracey Morgan closed his for the last time.

That was sad lol. Ouch! I'm surprised by how emotionally tearing that was

Bulba the Great!
13th December 2013, 1:28 AM
You asked me to take a look at your story, so here I am.
First thing I would like to say. Your discriptions, they are wonderfull. It's a huge flaw im my writing so I have the feeling I learn a lot upon reading your story.
The story overall is pretty interesting and realistic as well.

You're awesome. Thank you!

You mean with the Steward the guy at the gate who is always thirsty?

Ahahahahaha that made me laugh so hard. No, I wish I meant him. It's a throwaway comment - I guess I should have established this, the 'President' in the Pokemon world is the Steward. Kinda like Denethor in LOTR. Not a huge deal but I should have clarified, nonetheless.

So the helicopter kind of ignored Lugia and flew further? Good that Lugia blasts it down. What could the goal of the helicopter have been?

To join the battle of course! Big war machines = bad to Lugia.

Arceus who appears in your dreams? That is like getting a mission from God. Nice to show the explanation of Tracy's dream in a flashback.

Yeah I don't mean to be TOO overtly religious. I'm not a religious guy. But...yes. Arceus...is God.

I love mythologie and this one is pretty cool. One little thing. I suspect that Natalia's weird glowing burn wounds are from Ho-oh's fire. But the myth says that the ones who got burned end up in a another world.

Mmmm not necessarily. That's what happened to the burned people...the FIRST time...

I still don't get why Tracey is the one. Aren't his friends good enough as a sacrifice?

Arceus' demands must be met!

I often have the feeling that the places in the games are too limited. Good to see you've added new places.

I'm glad you aren't crucifying me for departing from canon :P

Alec needs to trust someone but meanwhile he is lying to the same person. Good going kid -_-

Well...yeah...

So he is planning to tell her. He will better do it fast, before it is to late.

Indeed, he really should!

What a way to tell he is swearing.
I would use colourful instead of colorful. But I think you write American English while I do Brittish English.
O, and maybe put a comma between wonderfully and colourful. So it will be:

He was letting out a wonderfully, colourful string of words in his pain.

Hmm I don't think that's a grammatical rule. And I'm American, (WISH I was British), so yeah in America it's spelt 'colorful'

O great. The group members are realy loving eachother.

Right? Best friends.

Better watch out. What if the cave collapses?

I warned you.

Ahaha you should travel with them!

Maybe the gravestone tekst flows better if it is like this:

You were brave, strong and true.

Hmm, you're right that would flow better. Story time: That is a very personal inscription for me. A good friend of mine, whom I acted with for a long time, passed away last year. The theatre we used to work together at had a 'theme song' of sorts, where we requested that we be granted the ability to be brave, and strong, and true. So those were the words used for him: To be brave and strong and true. The commas I put were used because that's how it's laid out in the song. BUT It's a grammatical error. My b.

How much is that in meters?

Very much. As Sidewinder pointed out...perhaps too much?

I realy like this man.

Me TOO!

That poor thing is being captured by the wrong trainer.

Indeed, Alec is very active. Magby is more like me :P

I've heard once that your hair can become white because of extreme stress. If that's true, could that be the case?

(Read Chapter Twelve)

But that's the same one that got heavely damaged when Logan fell down with Preston.

Yeah :/

That was impressive. Very impressive.

I realy enjoyed your story. Please keep it up.
And I hope you can do something with my review.

~Pink Harzard


Seriously, this means so much. Thanks, Harzard!


Sorry it took me so long buddy

Hey, it's good to have you back!

Chapter 8

I liked that sentence. It was easily to visualize and painted a pleasant picture. Nicely done

Thanks :]

I've literally said almost the exact same thing when I've come home to my wife lol. Very realistic and funny touch

Oh thank god. I am merely conjecturing about married life with Preston and Carrie...I'm glad to hear it's at least somewhat realistic.

I have a little bit of a problem with that. Obviously the two of them are close, and earth shaking news like this would draw them even closer together, so when he says her full name it almost became kind of impersonal in a way. I feel like it would work alot better if you used something like, 'Sweetheart', 'Baby', or something along those lines. It goes even further to show their closeness. You dig?

Hm, good point. I mean, it's meant to be something kinda cute, like appreciating the entire existence of someone by stating their full name. But come to think of it, I don't know how often that happens in real life. Good catch.

Whatever? omg what a child lol

Yeah he's rather petulant.

I'll go ahead and tell you now that the time shifts are really getting to me. I'm beginning to get confused and a little disoriented with the characters. I know why you're doing them and obviously its important to show past events to explain the actions of the characters now, but if you do it in such a way that it confuses the readers, it works against you. I might reccomend dropping flashbacks in instead of breaking story and focusing on a specific year. Even doing that intermittently will help with not having to keep up with randomly occuring years. I say this because unlike a book that you read quickly or all at once, when you have to wait for updates for sometimes weeks, you start to forget when the events happen and you focus so much on the date that as a reader I forget what you're writing entirely. Flashbacks triggered by words or objects though are much easier to keep track of and remember. Make sense?

Hm, duly noted. I'm trying to keep them all focused around one focal point with each chapter - 6, the story was Alec and Juliet. 7, Logan and her 'forever and always'. 8, Preston and Carrie. 9, Chase and his departure from and eventual return to the war. 10, Natalia's father. 11, The day of judgment, as it were. But I'm sorry if you're finding it jarring. ...you probably won't love my next chapter.

That was actually surprisingly and believably emotional. Kudos!

Oh thank god. Otherwise it just comes off as maudlin.

That makes sense as to why he was disappointed now. Though it is surprisingly shallow of him

Well, Alec is fourteen...he's got some growing up to do.

Excellent description there, but I stumbled on 'seemed'. If he can see it going for miles, then it goes for miles. I'd take that word out

Ah, yes, thank you. Very good point.

I know I'm harping on it but your description is actually improving wonderfully from chapter to chapter. Be proud of that sir

You're too kind :]

The dream sequence felt a little hasty but it was very well written and showed me more of the inner workings of Chase, which I liked a great deal. He's more complex than I originally thought. Not that I thought he was a blockhead or anything, but I liked the emotion of the sequence. Good job

I realized Chase was coming across too surface, and it was actually totally my aim to 'deepen' him with these flashbacks, so I'm glad you felt so. Dream sequences I always try to make feel...jarring? Because dreams ARE disjointed and quick and skip right to the good bits.

I liked how you intermingled the description with the actions of why he was going through it. A nice roundabout way for description and one that's lost on a lot of people. Great job!

Thanks again!!!

You may consider cutting out the last sentence. Obviously she's dead. It's almost like you're trying to make sure we're following you

Bahaha note taken.

I'm starting to feel like Preston may be the only one with any brains. The rest of them just bumble around a bit much and rely more on emotion than cleverness. Which isn't a bad thing at all, as emotion can lead you to where you need to get, all I'm saying its nice to see Preston using his noggin

Preston is absolutely the most practical and learned. Imagine if these young adults were traveling on their own...they'd walk around crying and bumping into walls all the time.

That was a really honest thought. I have more respect for him after that, even given the circumstances

I'm glad you enjoy Gabriel so much. Really, because I'm constantly worried about making him too...not likable.

Betrayed her age there. I love how true to life you've made them. I remember the point in my life where I thought of kissing and SUPER-kissing. Lmao that was awesome buddy

Haha yeah Chase tries to act so grown up but he's almost as lost as Alec, and it shows through sometimes.

Once again like I told you before. If you're against putting swear words in entirely, then just dont use them at all. Swearing is a really good way to emphasize points and get a message across, but when they're censored like this it really causes me to stumble and break the mood I get into while reading the story. Pay attention to that

I totally get that. Ironically, this was NOT intentional censoring. I FORGOT until the chapter was published that Serebii auto-sensors. The full word exists still in the draft. I could show you if you'd like. Which is a shame, because that word made such a nice punchline.

That seemed a bit too comically grandiose for my taste. I felt like Gabriel is a bit more stern and serious than that

Hmm...he DOES have a grim sense of humor. But perhaps not that much?

Done some reading on Sarin gas, have you? Hussein used it on the Kurds during the Desert Storm era. Awful, nasty stuff.

History class IS good for something! Haha it really is awful.

Brilliant description and just plain awesome. I loved how you used the well known characters and played to their strengths. I hope you go into more of these battle scenes later as they are incredibly interesting. War and fighting (as you know from my fic), are extremely entertaining to me

And so DIFFICULT to write though. Ironically, this is the reason the story has taken so long to be told...because writing battles and wars are so difficult.

You mention Ho-Oh and 'Arecus's Plates' quite a bit as a metaphor for us using God. I'd love to see more eventually about the different religious belief systems and their doctrines later on. You work it in so casually that it sounds really good. Just be careful not to go overboard

I will tread carefully.

That was an extremely gripping portion. It called forth an almost morbidly hopeful excitement in me. I loved it

I'm glad it moved you!

35 Feet? That's taller than the ceilings of most department stores. It's too unbelievable that they would come out as they did because a fall from twenty feet can seriously injure, if not kill

Well, Preston DID say it was miraculous...maybe I'll check out the physics of falling and not dying again.

I'd love to hear that full story lol. Sounds fun

It's possible you might...we haven't heard from Alec's past in a while. I thought you hated flashbacks :P

That was sad lol. Ouch! I'm surprised by how emotionally tearing that was

Thanks so much, Sidewinder! Seriously so nice to have you back.

Bulba the Great!
13th December 2013, 1:36 AM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Twelve

-1991-

“It just all seems so trite to me, it leads nowhere. It’s an interesting concept, but the ending doesn’t match up,” said Emerson, adjusting his tiny spectacles in agitation. J.T. rolled his eyes; he knew the older man only wore the glasses during these regular book club meetings so that he might seem more academic. The powerfully-built man was sitting across the room from Emerson in a circle of comfortable chairs in a very nicely furnished, warmly lit room.

The Violet City gym leader had a great affinity for reading, and after several conversations with his close network of friends, began an open book club held every other week in the Violet City Meeting House. J.T. had been attending regularly for a half year upon invitation from his friend Will, who was perhaps the youngest member in attendance.

“Maybe dystopian novels just aren’t your cup of tea,” J.T. mused, the corners of his mouth twitching. This elicited chuckles from several other members of the group. Emerson frowned, but kept his tongue, instead allowing others to lead the conversation about the book that had been suggested at the last meeting by Desmond.

“But what about that beautiful sentence, right at the end? When that poor man falls eight stories…what is it…? Ah, here: ‘And as breath left his lips, he felt his body broken, and one final thought crossed Kieran’s mind: I don’t understand.’ How does that not move you?” Desmond asked, and several others nodded sympathetically, J.T. among them.

“Well, that’s just the thing, isn’t it? It seems manipulative, it’s just so...so maudlin!” Emerson began, quite irritated now, his glasses flashing, but he was interrupted. The door behind him cracked open, and a woman with a small face and plump cheeks framed by tightly curled blonde hair and a high-necked black sweater sidled into the room apologetically. Emerson seemed quite disconcerted. “But who are you?” he asked, his thin eyebrows knitting together in confusion.

The woman smiled warmly, and J.T. felt his heart stop. “I’m sorry, I’m new. This IS Emerson’s Book Club, right? Reading Broken Things by Huswell?” Emerson nodded once, still nonplussed. “Hi, everyone. I’m Carrie, Carrie Phelps. I’m a friend of Jamie’s?” There was a general murmur of consent; Desmond stood, going to take Carrie’s coat. She thanked him, looking around the room and taking in its occupants.

“Well...um, well, welcome, Carrie…” Emerson said, quite flustered. It was perfectly clear he disapproved of the interruption. “Why don’t you take a seat...there’s an empty one between Will and J.T. over there,” he said, pointing across the room. Carrie’s eyes flashed to J.T., who smiled at her, his gray eyes alight.

“Will?” she asked, crossing to J.T. and taking his hand.

“No, no, I’m Joseph. J.T., if you like,” he said, standing to offer his own seat, forgetting there was an empty one beside him.

“I’m fine right here, Joseph,” she said, chuckling and sitting down beside Will, who was also smiling. J.T. returned to his seat, slightly embarrassed, beaming nevertheless.

“Well, I’m glad everybody is so happy,” Emerson said agitatedly, clearly ready to continue his rant about the flaws inherent in the book being discussed. “Can we continue, please?”

“Yes, sir,” Carrie said, feigning rapt attention. J.T. stifled a laugh. Carrie winked at him, leaning forward and appropriating a very somber expression.

Emerson adjusted his spectacles and crossed his legs. “Well then, where was I?”

“He hates all aspects of this book,” J.T. whispered to Carrie, anxious to keep her attention on him. Her eyes flashed his way and she leaned very slightly toward his armchair.

“To be honest, I haven’t read it. I came to suggest a book for next week,” Carrie said, and J.T. noted she was very good at talking out of the side of her mouth while keeping her head forward. He leaned closer to her.

“Really?” he muttered, “What book?” He felt Will staring at him in amusement, but he kept his attention to the blonde woman.

“Ever read Water-type Down?” J.T.’s eyes widened in excitement and he nodded rapidly. “It’s good, isn’t it?”

“The best!” He did not want to seem overeager, but she had just named his absolute favorite book, which very few people seemed to know even existed.

She smiled and looked at him, her pale blue eyes meeting his gray ones. “Why don’t you take me for coffee and we can rave about it together?”

J.T.’s heart skipped a beat. He could see Will’s face vaguely beyond Carrie’s; the psychic winked at him, pointing at Carrie and flashing the thumbs up. Go for it, he mouthed, nodding in encouragement.

“I...I would like that very much,” J.T. stammered.

“Could we?” Emerson asked. He was frowning over his glasses at J.T. with the sourest of expressions, visibly unimpressed.

“Yes, sir,” J.T. said. Carrie snickered and he felt his heart leap.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

With Preston’s injury, escape had not occurred to either him or Logan as a viable option; instead, the two had allowed the gray-clad wiry man confiscate their Pokémon and escort them into the smaller pocket of the tunnel he had come from. It was dimly lit by warm red lamplight, but after his eyes adjusted, Preston could make out the dimensions of the chamber well enough.

There were three other figures in the room, two women and a Crobat, clearly unconscious, its wings draped sadly around its violet body in the corner of the stony recess. Preston started at the sight of the younger of the girls. It was the same ruby-haired Skye member who had been pulled out of the Olivine Gym with Alec, who had held the boy at gunpoint by the harbor. She was sitting with her knees pulled protectively to her chest, her eyes wide and her face bloodless. She alone was not dressed in gray-blue uniform; instead a stained white dress hung limply around her thin limbs.

“You,” Preston said, disoriented by the look of distress on her face; she was in company of teammates, after all. She didn’t look to be on the best of terms with them at the moment.

“Where’s Alec?” she asked immediately, and Preston was surprised to hear genuine concern in her voice. Before he could answer, the other female voice cut through the dim cave.

“You’re NOT in a position to be asking questions, Natalia.” Standing over Natalia was the woman Preston attributed the deeper voice to; Amy, her partner had called her. She was impossibly tall, at least six-and-a-half feet by Preston’s estimation, and as such her figure seemed stretched disproportionately. Her face was long and angular, her complexion dark. She had applied bright ice-blue lipstick to her thick lips, which contrasted garishly with the precisely cut black bangs that ended at her eyebrows. Her eyes were black and sharp, calculating.

“But of course,” she said, sweeping Preston over quickly with her cold eyes, lingering a moment on his splinted leg, “Will would assign Joe Preston to Alec’s protection. It’s been a long time since I’ve laid eyes on you, Joe.”

The familiarity of the way she addressed him made Preston uneasy. Her male partner seemed confused as well. “How do you know this guy, Amy?”

The woman smiled, and it wasn’t a kind gesture. “Well, Brodie, I was surveillance on this guy back during the hunt we were doing for Skylar. In ‘04.” Preston felt his blood go cold. “I helped capture his poor wife. I was there to witness the beautiful descent into madness as we tortured her for information.”

Preston lunged and fell to the ground for his effort; his leg was not capable of holding his weight. Logan ran to his side immediately, but he refused her help. He was heaving, his gaunt face pale. His bandage was beginning to bleed through. He regained his composure, pushing himself to an upright position and glaring at Amy, a vein pulsing in his temple. “Did you do it?” he asked levelly after a time.

“Do what?” Amy asked innocently.

“Were you the one,” Preston began quietly, “who branded the Skye logo onto her back. The one who ripped her hair out, kicked her ribs in? Did you drive the chutes up her fingernails personally? Did you -” He stopped here, shaking with suppressed rage. Brodie looked just as shocked as Logan at this information, his jaw dropped. All eyes fell on Amy, who was smiling calmly.

“Now Joe,” she said coyly, “Do I look like a woman capable of that kind of violent behavior?” Preston continued staring at her, his breathing ragged. Logan realized in horror that he was very close to passing out. Amy turned to Brodie. “You did take their Pokémon, correct?” Brodie nodded, indicating the bundle of Poké Balls in his arms. “Good. But just to do the job perfectly,” She pulled out a gun, pointing it at Preston, its silver barrel catching the light of the lamp lit at her feet. “Gabriel would want them out of the way for the next stage of his plan.”

Brodie stammered. “Would The Phoenix like that? I thought he said that nobody gets hurt-”

“These two...quite dangerous people, I’m sure, at some point,” Amy started, shaking her head at the injured old man and the scared blonde girl, her blue lips curling upward, “are part of Alec Gideon’s pathetic ‘guard’. He must be in the cave somewhere. If we removed the opposition and delivered the Wing to Gabriel, do you really think he would care if a few people died?” Logan was inching toward Preston, whose forehead was dripping, his eyes trained warily on the gun.

“Look at her hands,” he muttered to Logan, who seemed to find this an odd request. She looked all the same.

The hand holding the gun was like the rest of Amy’s body, slender and dark. But the other hand was gloved in sleek forest-green leather. Logan frowned, looking at Preston, more than a little worried about his sanity in his present state. “Why does that matter -” she began, but she was interrupted.

“Oh, shut UP,” Amy said, her eyes rolling. The bare hand cocked the gun trained on Preston’s forehead. “If you must know, I only watched your wife’s torture. A shame, really. I would’ve liked to say I took part in the removal of both Prestons from our world.” She smiled at this prospect, finger tightening.

Logan shouted, “NO!” but not before the woman pulled the trigger. Logan slammed her eyes shut just in time, the last image burned in her brain Preston’s weary face frozen in disbelief. She heard the body hit the ground with a sickening crash.

…................................................. ....................................

-1995-

Will was helping J.T. into his newly-purchased tuxedo; the thirty-five-year-old man had never worn such fine clothing and was unfamiliar with the feel of a form-fitting vest and coat. The two were in the small groom’s suite that had been rented at the Victory Inn in Violet City, along with Morty and J.T.’s childhood friend Jesse.

“You feeling up to this? Not gonna back out?” Jesse asked, stroking his grand black mustache and chuckling heartily. He had been hitting J.T. with quips like this all weekend, poking fun at the fact that he had been a bachelor for thirty-five years. J.T. did not answer, but then again speaking would be quite difficult at this moment; Will was working furiously at the burgundy-colored bowtie around his neck, constraining the air allowed into his lungs.

“He’s gonna be fine,” Morty said, his cool fuchsia-colored eyes trained calmly on the setting sun outside; the wedding was to take place at sundown. The decorations were all in order on the lake. Will had arranged everything exactly as his friend had requested: a wedding on the water, a smooth glass deck erected over the small body of water surrounding the Sprout Tower. There were a large amount of canopies and arches laced with delicate cream-colored flowers: white chocolate roses, whipped-butter Jaboca berries, patience ivory tulips. Lights and lanterns were erected everywhere, poised to be lit at the arrival of dusk.

“Of course he’ll be fine,” Will said, still attacking the ribbon around J.T.’s neck. Finally he succeeded at tying the bow, letting out a cry of victory and patting down the gym leader’s lapels. “There,” he announced, and stepped back to admire his handiwork. J.T. did look very pale, but otherwise quite becoming. His long, dark brown hair was brushed and neatly party back so the curls were not quite as prominent; the product covered up the gray hairs that were beginning to creep in at the roots. His strong jaw was covered with the faintest of stubble which only served to highlight his strongest features, throwing shadow on his high cheekbones and smoothing out the slight lines that were beginning to form around his mouth. His jacket fit his broad form quite well.

“Feeling good,” J.T. said, putting his hands in his pockets and looking himself over in the mirror, shaking his head slightly and adjusting his position to a more confident stance. “How does that look?” he asked, patting his hair on the right side. His groomsmen burst out laughing.

“Sexy as ever,” Jesse said, his thick belly shaking with mirth. J.T. allowed himself a grin as well, realizing how ridiculous he was being.

“Carrie’s going to love it,” Will said, smiling fondly at his friend. J.T. sighed, nodding and checking the clock on the mantle.

“Almost time,” he said. “Is there anything we haven’t done yet? One final, wild thing we need to do before I’m committed forever?” The four exchanged glances, frowning and giving this great thought.

“Haven’t gone skinny dipping with Carrie,” Jesse said hopefully. J.T. shot him a dirty look and his youngest friend smiled apologetically. He had an often-articulated soft spot for the gentle blonde from the book club, the one that his good friend happened to be marrying in half an hour.

“Know what we need to do?” Morty said, his voice so different from the other men’s, soft, never more than a silky whisper.

“What’s that?” Will asked eagerly.

Morty smiled mischievously. “Burn the bachelor pants.” J.T. blushed; it was common knowledge that the man owned a set of ridiculous Horsea-covered flannel pants that he wore at every available opportunity when alone in his apartment. The others laughed again and lunged at the groom’s suitcase, digging for the horrid pants. J.T. grudgingly allowed Jesse to torch the pants with his Growlithe, the final step of acceptance that he would never be alone again.

Night fell, and the lamps were lit. The lake glowed with gorgeous golden light, the lanterns glowing exquisitely and illuminating the glassy still water. A thistled arch stood in the middle of the clear extension off the waterfront, a live band comprise entirely of string instruments to the right. The waterside echoed with excited voices, every seat on the transparent deck filled. The body count for the wedding was relatively small; J.T. and Carrie had mutually agreed to limit the wedding to family and very close friends. “And everyone from the book club,” Carrie had insisted, pointing at the name she had pencilled onto the very small list.

“Fine,” J.T. had muttered, rolling his eyes and adding Emerson to the queue of people to invite. Emerson was sitting near the back now, his spectacles flashing in the lamplight, peering back at the tent which contained the bride, groom, and the wedding party.

J.T. and Carrie were very careful not to look at each other. J.T. was near the front of the enclosed space, peering out, Will over his shoulder. Carrie lingered toward the back with the bridesmaids and her parents, and although the groom had made sure to shield his eyes when his fiancé entered the tent, Jesse immediately assured him she looked radiant in her vermillion dress.

“I think it’s time,” Will whispered, slapping his back. “Good luck, kiddo.” He extended his arm, indicating J.T. stand behind him. The flower girl, Carrie’s little cousin Laura, was hopping up and down anxiously in the back, spilling purple petals everywhere. J.T. took a deep breath and resisted the urge to look back at Carrie, remembering their promise that neither would lock eyes until the wedding.

“Let’s go,” said Lance brightly behind them. It was traditional that a wedding be officiated by a Pokémon League member, usually the city’s gym leader, but in special cases like this, when an actual League Official was being married, the Champion himself was summoned for the ceremony. Emerson had been very bitter at his exclusion.

Jesse and Morty walked out first, followed closely by Will, who winked at J.T. before exiting. J.T. clenched his fists, took a deep breath, and emerged from the tent, smiling nervously at the crowd and singling out his parents in the front row, his father leaning heavily on his cane and waving merrily, his mother tearing up. He made his way across the glass deck, feeling each step reverberate off the water. He took his place next to Will slightly to the left of center, awaiting the bride with mounting excitement.

Carrie was led in by her parents, Kevin and Michelle. She had been quite insistent that both walk her down the aisle, atypical to the traditional wedding in Johto, where the mother alone traveled with the bride. J.T. felt his heart skip a beat when he finally laid eyes on his fiancé. She looked resplendent, her figure covered in scarlets and crimsons like a…

“Like a phoenix,” Will said, grinning, reading his best friend’s mind.

“This is a dream,” J.T. muttered back to him, still awestruck. Will laughed and patted his back.

“Til the end?” he asked.

J.T. smiled. “Til the end.”

The ceremony was supremely quick, a heartbeat, perhaps the one that had been skipped over moments before. Lance did most of the talking, but Carrie and Will had agreed they would write out their vows.

“Joseph Thomas Preston,” Carrie said, her eyes sparkling, clasping his calloused hands and squeezing, a familiar squeeze that set J.T. at ease. “Everyone who knows me knows that my life has been all over the place. No stability, no rhythm, no...structure. I was a wild child,” she said, grinning, and the Phelps guests especially tittered in amusement at this, “that is, until I met you. You are my rock, Joseph, you are the gravity that keeps me from floating into outer space. You are kind, you are charming, you are smart, Arceus’ Plates you don’t know how rare that quality is.” Another laugh from the guests. “And above all, Joseph, you are good.” She smiled, her voice breaking and her eyes sparkling for an entirely different reason. “Thank you for marrying me.” A sigh from the audience.

J.T. squeezed her hands, sensing his time had come. “Caroline Scarlett Phelps,” he began, reaching into his breast pocket to pull out his carefully written vows, his hands trembling. He realized his reading glasses had been left in the groom’s suite, and he felt panic overtake him. “I left my glasses in my room,” he whispered, squinting at the card.

“Can you remember what it says?” Carrie asked gently. J.T.’s heart was pounding and he stared blankly at the paper, looking back at Will for support. Will only shook his head, raising his eyebrows over his horn-rimmed glasses and looking expectantly at his friend.

“Screw it,” J.T. muttered after a moment, Carrie’s eyes trained on his. “Okay, so, this is from the heart,” he said aloud, addressing the audience, throwing the card over the side of the deck and retaking Carrie’s hands. “Carrie. My life up to this point has been full of wonderful friends, family, and Pokémon. But...but that’s it! I was alone, for thirty years I was alone, and I was fine with that. ‘When’s J.T. getting married,’ I was asked this every holiday. But I was fine with it. Until the day I laid eyes on you. When you walked into that book club, I suddenly realized how truly alone I was, because you weren’t part of my life. Carrie, you…” He trailed off, his own voice shaking with emotion. Carrie gave his hands another squeeze. “You are my everything. You give me purpose, a reason to wake up every day. I look in your beautiful eyes and I see the man I can be, not the one I am. You are the reason I will never be alone again.” He beamed, his gray eyes lighting up in a rare fully-engaged smile. “Thank you for marrying me.”

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

“Did you hear that?” Alec asked quickly. The path he and Chase were traveling along had been gently sloping downward for the past ten minutes, and according to Preston’s map, at the next turn there would be a way into the lower tunnel. A great cracking sound had echoed from that general direction, and it made Alec’s blood chill; he knew a gunshot when he heard one.

Chase had gone very white. “That’s not one of our weapons,” he said.

Alec frowned. “Well, I hope not, unless you think Preston was secretly hiding a gun in his coat...that wouldn’t surprise me, come to think of it,” he said after a moment of consideration.

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Chase said quickly. Alec shook his head, still confused. Chase’s lips had dried; he wet them slightly before speaking again. “During the war, I heard more guns firing than I would ever wish on anyone. I think you know this, guns weren’t really a thing before the war. Our side’s weapons were...kinda lame, really. If we didn’t have Pokémon NeoEarth would have creamed us in two days. And, well, during the war...our side got ahold of some of their weapons, learned how to use them. How anyone could want to use machinery designed to kill is beyond me.” He shuddered although the cave had not changed temperature.

“So, what…” Alec prompted after some time.

Chase shook his head, his voice soft.“So that was the sound of one of THEIR guns. NeoEarth’s guns. It just doesn’t sit right in our world.”

Alec considered this, then: “Well, still! It’s a gun! Somebody just freaking shot a gun in the same cave as us!” He and Chase looked ahead in silence, waiting to hear more noise.

“Do you think we should...check it out?” Chase asked after a while. Before Alec could answer, the ground underneath them began to shake.

“Oh, for Ho-oh’s sake, is it another cave-in?” Alec cried, but he was saved a verbal answer by a practical one. A group of several Lairon were storming from the direction of the gunshot, icy blue eyes wild and solid silver armor flashing in outrage.

“Lovely,” Chase said, and he reached for his belt.

“What are you doing?” Alec asked. He had already scooped Magby’s small warm body up into his arms, ready to run, the duck-footed creature shaking his arms in excitement.

“Were you actually going to run away?” Chase asked, astonished. He had Torkoal and Nidoking’s Poké Balls in his right hand, Heracross’s in his left.

“Were YOU going to fight them?” Alec yelped, staring at the furious rampaging creatures, clearly shaken up by the foreign sound in their tunnels. Chase scoffed, throwing his own Pokémon into play and standing his ground. Alec took a deep, calming breath and put Magby down, not about to be one-upped by the older trainer.

“Machop, Magby, let’s do this,” he said, producing Machop’s Poké Ball. There was an enormous roar, and the cave wall up ahead exploded. In the cloud of dust and rubble that billowed out from the breaking point, another dozen Lairon and Aggron swarmed out. Chase looked at Alec, wishing he had a slightly more experienced trainer fighting by his side. If there was one thing he missed from the war days, it was having Will fighting by his side in perfect synchronization.

“You take the left, I’ll take the right?” he asked, understanding it was basically his fight to win. Alec glared at him.

“I’LL take the right,” he said, being difficult for difficulty’s sake. Chase gritted his teeth but complied, not needing petty arguments at a moment like this; the first group of Lairon were seconds away.

“Torkoal, Overheat! Nidoking, Earth Power, Heracross -” he began, and Alec interrupted him.

“Magby, Smokescreen!” The miniscule red creature puffed his cheeks, producing great clouds of black smoke. In seconds, Chase couldn’t see three feet ahead of him.

“GREAT, Alec, just perfect!” he yelled, biting his lower lip to avoid yelling. He had no idea what was happening now; they were fighting blind. An ominous crashing and roaring announced the arrival of more stampeding cave-dwellers.

“I’m sorry!” Alec called out bitterly. He and Chase stood, united but separate in the darkness, and steeled themselves, waiting for the wave to hit.

…................................................. ....................................

Logan screamed, squeezing her eyes tighter and covering her face, sobbing uncontrollably. That poor man, she thought, Preston’s frightened face still burned into her memory. She prepared herself for her own fate, her body tense and her breathing restricted, expecting the second shot to be as agonizing as the first had sounded. She whispered Tracey’s name and waited.

Moments passed and all she could hear was grunting and angry growls. She allowed herself the tiniest of glimpses at the area directly in front of her. Amy was wrestling with the ruby-haired girl who Logan had completely forgotten about. Brodie lay unconscious on the ground by the exit to the tunnels, and suddenly Logan realized whose body she had actually heard.

“Natalia, let GO of me!” Amy roared, twisting the other girl’s arms so that she was bent into submission in front of the tall figure, who had not relinquished her gun. Natalia cried out and there was an ugly cracking sound - it seemed her shoulder had been dislocated. Logan’s heart pounded and she looked to her left. Preston was lying prone, but she saw no signs of a bullet wound.

“Preston,” she said, taking his shoulder and shaking. He moaned, his eyes fluttering and a shadow crossing his lines face. “Preston!” she said, her voice shrill, relief spreading through her body. A scream echoed through the cave and Amy’s gun flew across Logan’s blurred vision; it seemed the woman had been disarmed.

“Logan,” Preston said firmly, his eyes snapping open, “get the Pokémon.” He pulled himself up, wincing in pain at his leg. Logan hesitated, looking at the continued wrestling between the Skye members. Natalia now seemed to have the upper hand; she had Amy in a headlock. Preston nudged Logan urgently and Logan started her way, slowly and quietly, away from her companion and toward Brodie’s motionless body.

“Come ON!” Natalia shouted, kicking Amy’s long legs out from under her. Amy fell, her limbs flying, and let out a snarl. Logan chose each step carefully, trying not to draw attention to herself. Brodie’s lanky body was strewn face-down across a jagged rock, blood seeping gently from his temple. Logan checked his pulse; he was still alive, the beat steady. Stealing furtive glances back at the fighting, she kneeled down, scooping up her own Poké Balls along with Preston’s.

Amy screamed; Natalia had stepped on her gloved hand. Tears filled the uniformed woman’s eyes, and she uttered one final curse before falling unconscious. Silence pervaded the room.

“Clever, targeting the wounded hand,” Preston said finally. Natalia had fallen to her knees, long flaming-red hair falling over her face. She was clutching her dislocated shoulder, trembling. Preston had pulled himself into a sitting position. Logan stood up and crossed to him, handing him his own Pokémon. “Thank you,” he said. “Can I see your shoulder?” he asked, reaching toward his bag, which was just beyond his reach. Logan grabbed it for the older man, surprised at its weight, dragging it to his side and crouching beside him, eyes trained warily on the Skye girl’s shivering figure. “Natalia, is it?” Preston said kindly. Natalia was proving unresponsive, holding herself and looking down.

“Maybe we should knock her out, to be safe,” Logan said uncertainly. She had no reason to believe the girl was worth helping; at this point, it seemed more worthwhile to return to the main tunnels and renew the search for Alec and Chase.

Preston looked the injured girl over for a long time before speaking. “We can’t just leave her without taking care of the shoulder. She saved us from a pretty certain death; the least we can do is return the favor. And healing is the only way I know how,” he said, reaching into his bag for the remainder of his supplies. “Does it hurt?” he asked conversationally, heaving himself up to a sitting position and looking inquisitively at the girl who was quite possibly lethal.

Natalia nodded slowly, her deep brown eyes lifting and looking incredulously at Preston. “You know who I am,” she said blankly, shooting a swift glance at Logan before refocusing her gaze on the man’s kind face.

“I do,” he said, pushing himself up and shouting in pain. “Logan, help me move,” he said, reaching out. Logan took his arm, helping the tall man stumble over to the area Natalia was crouching in. The girl showed signs of discomfort, but did not move.

“Why aren’t you leaving me?” she asked in astonishment. Preston shook his head, reaching out and grasping her shoulder gingerly. She shouted immediately; Preston recoiled, putting his hands up in a gesture of goodwill.

“You must not have many decent people on your Team if you think I would just leave you like this,” Preston said, reaching toward her shoulder again. Logan seemed just as confused as Natalia.

“Preston,” she said, not bothering to keep her voice down, “She’ll be fine, let’s go.” Preston ignored her, kneeling down with difficulty and looking Natalia in the face. The girl’s attempt to remain stone-faced crumbled; the pain was too much.

“Do you trust me?” Preston asked steadily.

“I don’t have any reason to trust you,” she said slowly. “I don’t trust anyone.”

Preston smiled slightly. “Well, that’s certainly one way to lead your life.” Logan failed to see the humor in the situation. “This might hurt a little,” he said, and he turned to Logan. “Can you give me that loaf of soda bread we packed in the blue container?” Logan obeyed hesitantly, handing the cold bread to the older man. “You look like you need this,” he said. He broke off a small piece, offering it to Natalia, who did not accept.

“Do you think I’m an idiot?” she asked derisively.

Preston shook his head. “No.” He offered the bread again. She reached out slowly with her good arm, staring at the doughy gift and frowning. “You eat it,” he said helpfully. Natalia did so, her eyes fixed sharply on Preston, as if searching for betrayal in his calm gray eyes.

“Thank you,” she said stiffly.

Preston handed her the rest of the loaf. “Now, bite down on this but don’t chew. We don’t want you biting your tongue off. That would bite,” he said, smiling in apology at his own small pun. Natalia did as he said.

“Preston,” Logan began, but in one fluid movement, the man had grabbed hold of the girl’s shoulder at the collarbone with one hand and pulled at her injured arm with another. In one great, resounding snap, Natalia’s shoulder was popped back into place. She let out a muffled scream through the soda bread, her eyes widening in shock.

“There,” Preston said, clasping his hands together. “Now you can eat the rest,” he said, looking Natalia over for further injuries. The girl ate hungrily, although her eyes never ceased darting between Preston and Logan.

“Could you help my Crobat? He was banged up pretty badly by Brodie,” the girl said after a time. Preston looked at the violet bat’s motionless form and nodded, reaching into his bag for medication.

“Preston!” The man turned his head to Logan, who looked positively livid. “What are we doing?” She was looking in disgust at the ruby-haired girl, taking in the tattered sundress and badly made-up face.

“We’re helping a girl who helped us,” he said simply.

“She said you know her,” Logan said, not backing down.

“I do, in a manner of speaking. This is that girl from Team Skye who keeps tracking Alec for Gabriel.”

Logan gasped, now positively repulsed. “How could you? What are you doing, associating with someone who’s been trying to hurt Alec?”

Preston shrugged. “I’m helping a girl who helped us,” he repeated.

Natalia stood up, drawing all focus back to her. She was scuffed and bruised, but it seemed she had sustained no other serious injury. “It’s true, I worked for Gabriel,” she said shakily, clasping her right hand with her left demurely. “But that part of my life is over. He betrayed me, he threw me out and left me to fend for myself in the harsh elements. I’m...I’m deeply sorry for everything I’ve done, for all the pain I’ve caused Alec,” she said. Preston heard absolute sincerity in her quiet voice.

“That’s actually the worst lie I’ve ever heard,” Logan said impatiently, looking to Preston for backup. He seemed interested in hearing the rest of Natalia’s defense.

“Look, I haven’t led a wonderful life. I’ve fallen in with the wrong people, made wrong choices at least a hundred times, but...well, Gabriel always said, to everything there is a balance. My choices kept me alive. And...well, I think now is the time for me to change. To begin repenting,” she said softly, shivering and hugging herself.

“Repenting?” Preston asked.

“I want to do what I can to help. I have information, I know Gabriel. I can protect you from him, I can help protect Alec. I only want the best for him.” Again, Preston recognized truth in the girl’s voice.

“You were burned, back at the gym,” Preston said. Logan let out an ugly noise which he ignored. “Were they able to fix it, at the hospital?”

“My face has been like this for a long time,” Natalia said, touching the left side of her face involuntarily. “Gabriel pushed me into a fire once. It’s just a fact of life, by now. I do what I can not to draw attention to it.”

A shadow crossed Preston’s face. Although she had made all the right inflections, kept her eyes evenly on his and touched her cheek in the correct, sad way, the ex-gym leader knew a bald-faced lie when he heard one.

…................................................. ....................................

-2004-

Chase was still on a high from his date with Kira; the two had gone ice skating at the Vermilion City Skatium, and after walking her home he had decided to venture into the Diglett’s Cave, perhaps do a little training with his Pokémon. He was whistling, his spirits lifted. The whole world seemed brighter, the boy felt invincible, and very little could change his mood. Grovyle strode beside him, his short green legs trotting at twice the speed his trainer’s did in order to match pace.

“This girl’s pretty special,” Chase said, winking at Grovyle, who merely shook his head, having seen Chase flip for girls twice as pretty as Kira and grow bored with them a week later. The fourteen-year-old ran his fingers through his black hair, humming and staring at the darkening sky. The clouds were a little thicker than he would have liked; perhaps it was going to rain. “You don’t believe me, do you?” Chase asked, his face falling slightly.

“Grooove,” Grovyle said, ignoring his trainer’s question and indicating the entrance to the Diglett’s Cave, eager to begin a fast-paced session of training. Chase held up his hand suddenly, shaking his head slightly and listening.

“Do you hear that?” There was a scream, a piercing, sustained one, coming from the rocky area just beyond the cave entrance. Chase looked at Grovyle in distress, and in unspoken agreement the two began running towards the source of the noise. They made their way around the gigantic boulders and walls that separated Diglett’s Cave from the rest of the grassy route beyond, halting when they reached company.

The sight was dreadful; a blonde woman was being accosted five-on-one by men in blue uniforms bearing a big ‘S’-shaped insignia. They had her pinned to the grassless ground, arms behind her small back. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” she shrieked, kicking one of them wildly.

“You know exactly what we’re talking about. But no matter,” said one of them calmly, a red-faced man with blunt features, “We have ways of making you talk.”

“Leave that woman alone!” Chase yelled, throwing caution to the wind. Grovyle sighed, understanding there was no turning back and calling the police now. The blunt-faced man turned slowly, rigidly, to face the young black-haired boy.

“No! No, leave, get away from here!” the woman yelled, clutching her stomach and locking eyes with Chase, shaking her head frantically. Chase took a hesitant step forward, unsure of what to do. “You don’t know me, don’t do anything stupid for me!” she shouted. She received a blow to the head, effectively silencing her. The man with the flat red face looked Chase over critically.

“Tie him up, too,” he said in an ugly, steely voice. Before Chase knew what was happening, he was knocked over the head from behind; apparently there had been more than five gang members. He blacked out.

When Chase came to, he was tied to a jagged stone, his arms wrapped far behind his back, his mouth gagged. A great group of blue-uniformed men and women were surrounding the woman from earlier, who was not attached to anything but bound all the same. The sky was dark, and a fire had been lit in the center of the mass of bodies. A red-haired man was standing over the woman, apart from the rest of the group. The flames lit him so that he looked positively demonic. Chase struggled, but could not move his body even an inch; out of his periphery he saw that his bag and Poké Balls were lying abandoned by another black rock with a bunch of other assorted goods.

The woman looked positively dreadful. Her emerald dress had been ripped open in the back; her flesh was charred and raw, a crude ‘S’ pulsing in the angry welts across her shoulder blades. Her curly blonde hair was partially gone, entire sections of her scalp bare. Her face was pale, empty, her eyes blank.

“So only Will knows how to harness the power of the legendary birds, that’s what you’re saying,” the man said slowly, smoothly. He had an icy-blue stare that seemed to penetrate the woman’s very white skin.

“Yes,” she said, her voice hollow.

“You MUST know, your husband and Will are so inseparable, the man practically sleeps with the psychic. Preston MUST have been told the secret at least once! How do we capture the birds?” The woman remained silent. The mention of her husband seemed to have rattled her.

“That’s all we’re going to get from the girl, Gabriel,” belched a deep voice from the mass of gang members.

“Oh, we’re just getting started.” The man nodded to a reedy, thin man with nervously clasping hands at his right shoulder. “Get the chutes,” he said, leering. The man nodded, his bulging eyes sparking with sudden energy. “Amy, bring the boy here,” he said, his eyes stabbing into Chase as he glanced the boy’s way. A dark, impossibly tall woman towered over Chase, bending down and untying his hands, shoving him roughly forward, so that he was mere feet away from the fire.

“Not the boy!” the woman shouted. This alone seemed to motivate her. She placed her hand on her stomach, and Chase noticed in horror that there was a gentle bulge beneath her hand. This woman was nearly a mother.

“Here they are, Gabriel,” said the reedy man, his voice quite anxious. Chase locked eyes with the woman, who looked positively terrified now that she understood what the next step of the torturing process was. Chase watched numbly as they kicked the woman, tore at her, as Gabriel drove the bamboo chutes up her fingers...the woman was a ghost, nothing more, and Chase could do nothing, still bound and gagged, lying powerless not two yards away.

“Maybe we should torture the boy, too, maybe that will loosen her tongue,” Gabriel said quietly.

“No, Gabriel, the boy doesn’t matter,” said a rational voice behind him.

“Do you want to find the birds, Skylar?” the red-haired man said impatiently.

“Yes…” The level voice again.

“Then let me do things my way,” Gabriel growled. He looked down at Chase, smiling, a very nice smile which terrified Chase more than anything else so far. He reached delicately for Chase’s bound hands, smiling still more broadly. He bent down to the boy, looking him in the face.

“I don’t mean to cause pain when it isn’t necessary,” he said somberly, “but in this case...it absolutely is.” He fingered the chutes delicately, his icy blue eyes fixed on Chase’s hands. The next two hours were beyond pain; they were insanity, all spots and red flashes, splinters and screams and searing hot pain.

The next thing Chase Tang remembered was awakening in a cool white room, a man in a lab coat sitting across from him.

“How are you today, Chase?” He had a very welcoming voice. Chase flinched at the sound of it.

“Where...where am I?” he asked, trembling.

“This is the Vermilion Psychiatric Hospital, Mr. Tang. You’ve been here for a month. Don’t you remember?” Chase noticed his hands were shaking. He looked down at them; they were quite as he remembered, not a blemish or scar to be seen. “I’m Dr. Hume,” said the man, looking expectantly at Chase. “We’ve had regular sessions together for two weeks. Surely you remember…”

Chase had lifted himself from the couch he had been sitting in, crossing to the single mirror hanging above the minty-green potted plant in the corner. “Chase,” Dr. Hume said quietly. But Chase merely gasped, staring in awe at his reflection. His face had remained quite intact; still roguishly handsome, with a soft chin and long nose, soft brown eyes. But his hair was what caught his eye.

It was pure white.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

“Leaf Tornado, Servine!” Chase called in a last-ditch effort. Despite the best efforts of both boys, the flux of Pokémon that continued attacking had reached insane heights, forcing both trainers down to one Pokémon: Chase, his Servine, and Alec, Pupitar. The horde was thinning, though: it seemed at least that the Lairon were retreating, many turning from the fight and burrowing back into the dark recesses of the tunnels. Servine glowed his signature jade color, releasing a frenzied storm of thin, jagged leaves from the collar around his neck at the silver-backed opponents.

“Pupitar, Chip Away!” Alec said half-heartedly. His worst fears had been confirmed: Pupitar was slower than her previous form, and this was royally messing with the boy’s battle tactics. Pupitar seemed overwhelmed, her large white eyes watering slightly and her diamond-shaped gray body wilting under stress.

“Use Roar,” said a familiar voice. Alec raised his eyes in disbelief. Standing on the other side of the remaining Lairon and Aggron were five figures, two of which were Pokémon. The taller of the creatures, Electivire, pumped his large meaty fists together and released a cry that was less deafening than the one that had caused the cave-in, although apparently far more lethal. Immediately the wild Pokémon scattered, all thoughts of attack put out of mind in desperation to escape the screeching noise emerging from the big yellow tiger-like form. When the room was still again, all sounds of battle dissipated, Chase and Alec looked at each other. “Seriously, neither of you thought to use Roar?” Preston’s soft voice sounded weary. “How long have you been a trainer, again, Chase?” The two boys ignored the older man.

“We made it,” Alec muttered in a small voice, looking from Chase to Pupitar, who seemed relieved and slightly frightened of her trainer.

“Yeah, we did,” Chase said, kneeling down next to his reptilian companion. “Thanks,” he whispered to Servine, and then, looking up: “You too.” He stood and crossed to Alec, reaching out a hesitant hand. After a brief, awkward handshake, the two turned their eyes to the figures on the other side of the room.

“You survived,” Alec said bleakly. Logan seemed fine, although Preston looked like he needed immediate attention: the man was pale, dust filling the lines on his face. His right leg was in a rough cast, and he was leaning on his Sawsbuck for support. Alec exhaled, his heart rate slowing in relief from the battle, before his eyes landed on the third person in their group. “You,” he said, his eyes narrowing. Natalia was standing behind Logan and Preston, still dressed in her sundress from the encounter outside the tunnels. It seemed she was working very hard to go unnoticed, lurking in the shadows.

“Alec, I was so worried!” Logan cried, stepping forward and then sprinting to close the distance between herself and the boys. She pulled Alec into a deep hug, her eyes falling on Chase behind the boy and smiling weakly at him. “Hey,” she said softly, pulling back, her robin’s-egg eyes looking Alec over for injury. Chase returned Servine to his Poké Ball.

“Alec, Chase, it’s good to see you found your way,” Preston said, his tired voice breaking from the effort. Chase held up the small journal he and Alec had been taking turns interpreting. “Ah, yes, I’m glad you figured that out,” he continued, his eyes falling on the book. Upon Chase’s look of confusion and Alec’s of rage, he followed their eyes to Natalia and nodded. “Alec, I believe you know Natalia already. Chase, Natalia, Natalia, Chase,” he said, indicating the two should meet. Chase did not move. “Natalia’s going to come with us out of the caves.”

“This is a joke, right?” Alec said, looking to Logan for confirmation.

“No, he’s gone mad,” Logan whispered, shaking her head and glaring at the ruby-haired girl. Natalia pulled at her dress and locked eyes with Alec, her fierce gaze too much for him. He looked back at Preston, incredulous.

“I think he has,” Alec replied, shaking his head indignantly.

“I’m confused,” Chase said slowly. Preston urged Sawsbuck to move forward, reaching a hand back for the Team Skye girl.

“Chase, this is Natalia. She has tried to kill me twice, she’s the one from the gym who works for Team Skye. For Gabriel.” Alec’s voice shook. “Seriously, Preston, you aren’t serious, right?”

Preston shook his head. “Alec, she’s told me she’s sorry, and I believe her. She wants to help us. To help you.”

Alec hesitated, looking at Logan, who had taken his hand. “Help me what?”

Natalia cleared her throat. “I can speak for myself,” she said softly to Preston, stepping forward. Alec, Chase, and Logan stared. “Um, hi. Alec, I know you have no reason to trust me. Nobody ever has any reason to trust anyone, right? But...well, I do want to help you. I’ve wanted to for a long time now. Gabriel has a plan, Alec, one that you can’t stop. Or at least, you couldn’t.” She took a deep breath. “You don’t have to trust in me. But trust in this: I want Gabriel dead just as much as you do.”

Scaldaver
16th December 2013, 10:14 PM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

The lighthouse stood in solitary opposition to the blood red sun setting on the wide horizon. A harbor bell rang from across the sea, hollow and without echo. Sitting alone on the battered, weathered dock, a lean figure tossed a stone over the water and watched it break the magnificent streams of color reflected from the sun.

His hair was a brilliant shade of magenta, a striking departure from the rest of his appearance. He was clad in a suit coated with intricate patterns of murky blues and grays, which blended easily with the jetty in the fading light.

...Wow. I've never been one for description because it's rarely used so well, but this... wow you're articulate. I can envisage what you're saying perfectly, showing you are a true wordsmith who's obviously devoted much time to this. This juxtaposes my story so well, considering I never describe the characters at all.


opalescent

Words Scaldaver needs to look up to understand count: 1


A barely audible rustle to his left was enough to cause his gloved hand to shift adroitly to the side of his belt containing not the gun, but the spheres. He removed one, allowing it to enlarge in his hand, an unseen energy pulsing from it.

Nicely described, and would be a shock to any non-Pokemon fans!


adroitly

Words Scaldaver needs to look up to understand count: 2


“Show yourself.” Out of the shadows stepped a second figure, this one female. She was adorned in the same cloudy colors as the man, although her outfit was clearly a mass-produced uniform. A shape half her size skulked behind her, hovering about a foot off the ground, its four wings beating furiously but silently.

“Gabriel, the boy has been spotted.” The man stood at once, stepping to the same level as his subordinate. The ball remained ready in his hand.

My only gripe here is that it's uncertain who's talking or being referenced: Either the woman or original man could have said 'Show yourself', and I've no clue what man is talked about, or where he stands from, where he was, etc...


You’re sure it’s him?” The girl nodded. “I see. Where is he?”

“He’s heading this way, as you predicted. The city has been set for his imminent arrival. Once he’s passed through the second gates, he’s ours.” The man nodded, a hungry look in his eyes.

This is slightly clearer than before, though I'm not 100% upon first reading whether the girl was talking originally.


“Good. I’m trusting you’ve secured the western perimeter as well. The last thing we need is for him to escape into the Battle Frontier, where his potential allies will be dense.”

“We have every exit carefully monitored, sir.” The man returned his gaze to the expanse in front of them, his electric blue eyes seeing further than the disappearing sun.

“Return to your post, Natalia. And alert me when he arrives. I’ll be in the lighthouse, likely. Waiting.” The girl saluted, a gesture he did not return, and turned to her partner.

“Come on, Crobat.” The winged creature flared up, opening its wide mouth to reveal deadly-looking yellowed fangs. It puffed its body, the rubbery purple skin expanding. She grabbed one of its stubby, half-formed feet and turned to say a parting sentence to Gabriel, but in her three seconds of distraction, the man had vanished without a sound. She frowned, used to his enigmatic ways but still disappointed. “Let’s go.” She tugged at her Pokémon and the misshapen silhouette of the two rose twenty feet in the air and glided slowly toward the city overlooking the water.

I'm reviewing this as I read through, and I currently like the effect of not describing how the people say things, though I think for the sake of knowing who's talking it may have been helpful. That said, it does add delightfully to the air of mystery.



“Low kick, now! Now, now, now!” Alec Gideon was impatient. His Machop’s reflexes were far too slow, and it was for that precise reason he’d lost against Whitney, he just knew it. The short, ash-colored creature was sweating profusely, trying to obey his trainer’s orders under the weight of the brace that was pulling at every one of his tiny muscles.

I don't know why, but I think it would flow better if the speech was a line above 'Alec Gideon was impatient', if anything to not indicate the speech and that phrase are completely, directly linked (whereas 'Alec shouted impatiently' etc would have been better). I'm also finding it hard to visualise this brace: Machop is both under its weight but the weight is pulling at its muscles...

As a side note, not really a problem per se, but I thought Machop to be more green than ash-grey.



“Machop...Ma...” it panted, dropping to the ground and extending its leg in a feeble attempt at an attack. Alec groaned, yanking his rucksack from the ground and closing the distance between him and his shuddering Pokémon.

“The point of the Macho Brace is to make you work, Machop! It’s supposed to increase your muscle mass by at least ten percent! And until you show better results than that dismal failure against Happiny, you’re keeping that on. Now here...” He produced a zippered green bag and pulled out a Super Potion. “Drink this. We’ll take a break, but don’t think you’re getting out of push-ups every half hour. Got it?” Machop nodded wearily, propping himself into a sitting position and taking the medicine with shaking hands.


Woooow I hate this guy. He better either turn around or get brutally mauled by that Machop: either way I'm good. Okay, kidding, that's a bit over the top, but if you're intending to make this guy sound stern to the point of annoying, you've done well.


Alec Gideon hated to lose, because it was simply not an option in his family. For generations his fathers had made significant advances in the history of the Johto region, and each son the Gideons produced was always followed by the question, “Will he live up to his father?” Because of this, Alec had every moment of his life mapped out for him, to the point where it had all become too much for him. After three years of technical school, Alec dropped out and left his house a disgrace, with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his family’s most precious heirloom, stolen and now hidden in the deepest pocket of his rucksack.

Okay, so now he has a reason to be a bit mean, but let's hope he gets over that. The only problem here is that it sounds like Alec has a great deal many individual fathers: 'For generations his fathers had made' - I think this could easily be re-worded, though.



“Now according to the map...Olivine City is still eleven miles from here. We’ll make it by nightfall if we factor in dinner and training. You done yet?” Machop was not finished with his drink, but he nodded just the same, crushing the orange container and tossing it aside. Alec scanned around. Route 28, though showing signs of population with its scrubbed picket fences and neatly laid gravel road, was currently deserted. A baby Rattata, its amethyst fur just sprouting and its front teeth barely protruding from its lips, crawled nervously across the path to its mother. The Raticate locked eyes with Alec and bared her massive incisors, stamping her three-toed feet and snarling. The trainer merely grunted. He threw his bag back over his denim-clad shoulder and produced Machop’s Poké Ball. “Off we go.” Machop reduced to a thin beam of glowing reddish light, pulled into his container with a gentle click. The trainer took a deep breath and began again on his long trek from Ecruteak City.

I like the detail of the Rattata and its mother, but I'm noticing how there hasn't been a single descriptor of speech anywhere I can remember... I suppose, however, that this does add to the feeling of the main character being quick and efficient.


He knew he wasn’t an advanced enough trainer to even attempt challenging Morty, the Ecruteak Gym Leader renowned for his symbiotic relationship with Ghost types. If his luck had run out against the Normal-type Leader Whitney, he felt the only other gym his Pokémon might fare well at was the Olivine Gym, its owner specializing in the Steel type. The journey straight from the city of Goldenrod to Olivine was long, though; he and his Pokémon had been walking without stop for five days straight, only pausing for brief two-hour naps.

I'm not sure 'symbiotic' is the best word here: unless Morty actually lives off his ghost Pokemon, that is. Perhaps you mean symbolic? Apart from that, this was a good way to fill us in on the way Alec is and fill in the past.


The boy had taken no more than a dozen paces when his Poké Gear began vibrating, ringing at a high intensity that could only mean a phone call. Rolling his eyes, he unhooked the device from his belt loop, expecting another pointless update on the adventures of his friend Tim and his Geodude.

Is his Geodude in the top percentage of Geodude?




“Who...is this?” Alec was not in the mood to be played with, not having eaten since eleven.

The ellipse indicates he is highly scared/curious, and shouldn't be there if he's just annoyed. Also, without knowing the current time, 'since eleven' is meaningless


“My identity is of no importance.” Of course not. “You have something I greatly desire, and it is my wish that you surrender it without a fight. However, I know your family and I know the blood that runs through your veins. Cooperation from you is unlikely. So do me a small favor? Take care of yourself.” Alec was utterly bewildered. He had very low tolerance for mind games.

The way this guy talks seems to jump about a bit - the rhetorical question seems out of place.



“This is the person that gave us your number! Be sure to thank her, if you ever meet up with her again.” The figure shook and let out a noise that seemed somewhere between a croak and a shrill scream. Alec recognized it, his heart skipping a beat. It was his best friend from grade school, Amber Janson. She had called him yesterday after years of silence, and Alec hadn’t picked up. It had seemed random and uncalled for at the time, but Alec was fast to make the connections in his head.

The first exclamation mark is a bit out of place - it either makes the man sound overly joyous or bitterly frustrated. Also, it would be nice if we had a passing remark as to why he didn't pick up, but I'm sure this absence is indicative of inviting mystery, so I'll stay reserved on that one.


“When? Where? Where are you??” He didn’t know whether to be more frightened of encountering this man or...not. He didn’t want to think what would happen to Amber if she was left to the mercy of the man armed with both Pokémon and, it seemed, a gun. Should he go to the police? No, only ordinary people needed their assistance. This was his problem and he would handle it his way. He produced three Poké Balls, his hands still trembling ever so slightly. The spheres opened, and three small, humanoid figures materialized slowly from the plasma-like energy the balls produced.

Okay, this is either highly dumb or stupidly egotistical - if you intend to show this then well done, but if this is just a way of getting Alec to save the day, there would have been other ways (ie, the man on the phone saying he'll kill her if he rings the police). The ellipse makes him seem sophisticated and cunning, yet his previous speech juxtaposes this.



“Ladies and gentlemen, the S.S. Helen will dock in Olivine Harbor by nightfall. Please be sure your luggage is together for departure. We hope you have had a pleasant voyage and that you enjoy the rest of your time on board. Thank you.” A click was heard, and then a short series of beeps. “Lord, this has been a long trip. I’m getting too old for this, Terry. I can’t even stand half the people on this boat. It’s hard enough smiling at them at meal time, let alone making small talk about their absolutely captivating adventures through the wondrous and magical land of Unova. Give me some of that. What is it, Fuchsia’s Best?” Evidently, the captain had not pressed the correct button.

Comedic explanation of events juxtaposed by the seriousness and brutality of what we just read, making it seem unlikely this would really happen, making this sound rather forced.


Chase Tang sighed and beat his forehead three times, attempting to clear his head. He couldn’t help agreeing with the captain. This had been the voyage from hell. Aside from seasickness, which he had gotten over after vomiting into the small sink in his cabin three times, the trip had simply lasted too long - nine days now. He had become so jaded by his time at sea he had resorted to frequenting the casino with his companion. The trainers aboard had all proven far too inexperienced to pique Chase’s interest in battle, and Logan was more than happy to relax the vigorous training style her friend lived by for a day or two.

I like this passage - it gives decent insight into recent events and explains Chase's psyche pretty well.


Chase was a handsome young man, going on twenty and growing into manhood well, sporting a dark eleven-o-clock shadow on his otherwise fair features. His off-white hair hung loosely about his face, and his eyes burned with an intensity that more than enough females found alluring. There were secrets there that few could guess at.

In the four years since starting her journey, Logan Clements had become almost unrecognizable from the carefree girl with flowing blond hair and soft, forgiving features. Her hair was cut short to her shoulders now, and although still attractive, her face had a hardened, world-weary expression, her robin’s-egg eyes distant and veiled.

“I’m telling you, it’s the third from the top right!” Chase ignored his partner’s advice and went with his instinct, flipping the card second from the left. His instincts sucked. With a sinking feeling, Chase stared at the glowing miniature Voltorb under the card and nodded, bracing himself. The red-and-white globe was pulsing angrily, letting out angry metallic screeches and bulging dangerously.

“You were right, I should’ve picked the--” Chase’s lamenting was cut off by a blinding light and a series of explosions as the game self-destructed. All eyes turned to Chase and Logan’s station. Although the conceit of the game was to detonate when the challenger lost, it was still highly embarrassing to admit defeat in such a manner (and to wear the loss in the form of slightly singed eyebrows). The pair didn’t say a word, but it was agreed that the game was finished. Logan wanted to finish packing and Chase had lost the majority of his savings. Before going back to their room, they decided to allow their Pokémon one final venture around the ship’s luxurious promenade deck.

Again, I like this for the information is presents, in a detailed yet entertaining way. Although the idea of an exploding game seems a tad far-fetched, so does letting ten-year-olds battle with godly animals, so whatevs.


As they exited the room, smoke followed them into the hallway. Logan looked down both directions of the corridor before beginning the thought she’d been biting back since breakfast.

“You know that today--”

“I know what day it is. Trust me, I know.” Chase didn’t seem terribly interested in discussing the significance of the date, which Logan seemed to find rude.

“I know you never liked him, Chase, but in the end...well, he didn’t turn out to be awful--” Logan’s voice shook a little bit.

“Actions speak louder than words. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to relive--”

“But we got to! Chase, he didn’t mean for it to happen! There’s no denying that, you just can’t! Think of what he did for Tra...” But Logan grew silent. Chase seemed incensed by her final sentence, walking slightly faster down the richly-panelled hallway.

“He didn’t help Tracey much in the end, did he? And I will never forgive him for what he did to Sceptile. Never.” Logan’s eyes were watering, but this sign of weakness seemed to irritate her companion even more.

“He was still an honest and brave person, and that needs to be honored, Chase.” They had reached the elaborate mahogany door that led out to the large, open space between the ship’s funnels, specifically designated for trainer battles and recreation.

“Logan, you don’t celebrate someone’s death. Especially not someone who...you know.” Chase reached down to his belt and produced six Poké Balls, prompting Logan to do the same. Begrudgingly she released her party alongside his, not satisfied with the tactless ending to their argument. Chase solved all his problems by turning to his Pokémon. He was kneeling down next to his smallest team member. It was lime-green and serpentine, with intelligent bright-red eyes and a pure white underbelly. It stood on tiny hind legs, but it was clear without the support of its long tail it would collapse.

“Do you know how hard it is, looking in his eyes sometimes? All I see is his father.” Chase gently stroked his Servine’s smooth head and stood, facing his other teammates. “Alright, guys, we’ve got til nightfall. Let’s let loose!”

I think this foreshadowing is well-presented and adds a truck-load of mystery to this couple. I like how you didn't specify what was being said at all times, like a proper discussion, for the sake of the audience - this adds to the realism.



“Last one to the pool’s a rotted Slowpoke tail!”

...What? Where did that come from? If it came from Chase or Logan, a bit of pre-preemptive evidence for this out-of-place statement would have been helpful. For example, saying how Chase's features changed as he tried to take Logan's mind off topic before he says this would have worked, etc.




The miniature cherry-colored creature was curled in the fetal position, its beak-like mouth wide open and emitting wisps of smoke. Alec rolled his eyes. He had a strong suspicion Magby slept only when out of the confines of his Poké Ball, and wasted his precious free time in the sphere running and exerting all of his energy on pointless activity. Any time he was actually needed, he was exhausted.

It'll be interesting to hear what this world's inner Pokeball is like, if you care to elaborate.



“Magby, Mag maa,” he apologized frantically.

This is the first descriptor of speech to stick out to me (ie, that I've noticed). Just sayin'.


“I just need to check that we’re not lost. Can you use Will-o-wisp to light up this sign?” The trainer’s voice was not unkind, but direct and anxious.

I like that little detail there, just telling the readers that this guy isn't as heartless as we've been lead to believe.


They hovered just above Alec’s head, blue and purple streaks of excruciating heat to the touch that somehow chilled the surrounding air, making Alec draw his coat a little tighter to his body as he peered at the peeling sign, leaning forward to read it.

There's a lot of information in this sentence and sounds a little drawn out and difficult to read - especially: 'blue and purple streaks of excruciating heat to the touch that somehow chilled the surrounding air'. I reckon that needs a tad of reworking.


“There’s something weird going on. The light was useful, Magby. You can put it out. Well, we’re gonna have to pick up the pace, that’s all. Push-ups!” He and his Pokémon dropped to the ground instantly, mechanically pumping their arms to get blood flowing freely. Machop finished last, the Macho Brace tugging against his slender muscles. Alec sprang to his feet, pulling his denim jacket straight and giving each of his partners a piece of RAGE candy bar, devouring his portion. “Alright, let’s jog the next mile! We’re making good time, but it could be better.” He took off, leaving his partners to follow in his wake.

At the beginning of the paragraph I was going to comment on how nice Alec was appearing, then how odd it seemed he said get a move on and began exercise, then that he's nice for sharing candy, then how hench he is for outspeeding Pokemon. In short, I quite like this paragraph as, once again, you display information very well!

Also...
It trains by lifting rocks in the mountains. It can even pick up a Graveler with ease.
Though small in stature, it is powerful enough to easily heft and throw a number of Geodude at once.
It hefts a Graveler repeatedly to strengthen its entire body. It uses every type of martial arts.
All of these are Pokedex entries for Machop. In short:
JUST HOW HEAVY IS THIS BRACE?!


patriarch

Words Scaldaver needs to look up to understand count: 3


“Just promise me you’ll treat your Pokémon slightly easier, Mr. Gideon. That poor Machop was nearly buckling from that dreadful brace.” A smile split his scrubby gray beard, revealing several decaying teeth. “Now I’m sure they’ll have an opening at the Inn, I’m friendly with the owners. Drop my name if you want a discount. Now you just take care, young man.” Alec turned to leave, but before he could take his first step he felt Mr. Redding’s hand on his shoulder, calloused and firm. “Be on alert, too. That call you mentioned...sounds to me like you should enter that city on your guard. Rumor is, Team Skye is gathering strength again, worse than before, and if that was them...just keep your friends close. Goodnight!” He laughed jovially and the cabin door swung shut. Alec stood in the thick night, listening to the gentle hum of a Ledyba nearby.

Although this guy sounds fairly awesome, he's insanely irresponsible for doing nothing much when hearing a little girl is being tortured and that an evil group may want to capture a similarly aged boy except for expertly saying 'Watch out... Something might be up...'


Impulsively, he grabbed a Poké Ball from his belt. He released an olive-green, horned Pokémon, who shivered slightly from the cold but stared up at her trainer intently. Her horn was the same size as her rocky, sleek body, and peering out from sunken, scarred sockets, her eyes dilated, adjusting to the dark.

“Seems Team Skye is the likely culprit for that call earlier. I want you to keep me company to Olivine. Just you and me, Larvitar, just like old times. You in?” The lizard-like creature nodded, puffing her chest in importance.

Although I couldn't ID the Pokemon off the bat, well done for mentioning who it was later: some writers assume everyone will know, confusing some readers.


“Let’s take a look around, then. Even with a blackout, things are too peaceful.” Trainer and Pokémon stepped into the unknown, oblivious to the eyes watching their every move.

Firstly, Alec makes himself sound like James Bond. Second, despite him expecting to be rushed etc, he's still oblivious to being watched. It just seems off to me.


“The plan nears completion.” His Pokémon screeched hungrily.
Good job on bringing back the fact that his Pokemon was there, or this may have come off as cliched!


To be continued...
Speaking of cliched...

Look, all the errors I nit-picked were pretty minor - you're a brilliant writer who expresses yourself expertly: I like all the characters and their potential elements to the story, I like the way all the Pokemon have obvious personalities and differences, and I think the only way you could go wrong is to
a) make the plot too cliched, or
b) make some of your characters, namely the man on the phone and Alec, too unbelievable or change their outgoing personalities too often. If you want to make them sound spontaneous, try and establish a pattern early on.

Keep up the good work!

OnceUponATime
17th December 2013, 12:39 AM
Chapter 7


"The little I’ve learned about him tells me he only listens to people he trust."

"Trust" here should be "trusts".


The girl had changed since last Alec had seen her: her face was pristine and smooth now, all the nasty scars and burns neatly covered neatly covered with makeup.

"Neatly covered" is used twice here, obviously accidentally, so I'd go back and delete one of them.

Just two little things I noticed. :) Good work, Bulba! I'm really enjoying this!

Bulba the Great!
28th December 2013, 10:18 PM
Thanks, Scaldaver and OuaT! A very heartfelt thank you, indeed.

I hope you find the story intriguing enough to read to Chapter Thirteen!

Which I am publishing now!

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Thirteen

-July 27, 2007-

Natalia was attempting to cut a neat circle in the glass window guarding the entire contents of the jewelry store in Saffron City. She had been hand-chosen by Gabriel along with seven other members of the gang he had formed since Team Skye’s disbandment (they went loosely under the name ‘Pariahs’, a pun based around Gabriel’s last name). Natalia had seemed nervous before the mission began - likely because she had never stolen professionally before this night. Gabriel had proclaimed his faith in her ability, though, and and because of his confidence she agreed to lead the break-in.

“Just keep at it, slow and steady,” Gabriel whispered, taking her arm gently as the hand clasping the box cutter shivered. The patrolling policemen had already been taken care of, their thick bodies dumped carelessly in the alley two stores down. Saffron Jewelers’ location was an ideal business opportunity for both the jewelers and the gang stealing from them - it was nestled in the shadow of the Silph Corporation building, which Gabriel planned to target next.

Thievery was all too easy these days. With shells landing and bullets flying freely as rainfall, stores were open seldom and at odd hours, most employees choosing to stay in the (relative) safety of their homes. The Silph skyscraper, a prime target, was heavily damaged but still standing, a mere shadow of the splendor it possessed in its pre-war days. The doors were boarded up and the building only opened when the Elite Four needed to hold emergency meetings. Its function as an authority hotspot was all Gabriel needed to add it to his list of areas to hit quick and hard. That job would be all up to him; he only relegated smaller jobs to other members of the gang.

Natalia let out a gasp of relief, holding the perfect circle of glass she had just detached from the window. The hole was barely big enough for her slim figure; Gabriel would never be able to pass through. “What now?” she asked, placing the glass carefully to the side and reaching back to pull her hair up, tying the flowing sheets of ruby-red into a tight ponytail. A great crunching sounded in the distance, followed by an explosion, and the far-off silhouette of Mt. Silver was illuminated eerily in the darkening sky.

“This is your mission, Natalia,” Gabriel said smoothly. “You decide.”

Natalia looked him full-on, eye to eye, breaking the Pariahs’ invisible rule that Gabriel was not to be looked at. “I’m gonna go in,” she said, searching his icy blue eyes for affirmation. He did not move a muscle, but she found approval from her leader and nodded, taking a deep breath.

“Just be sensitive. Motion sensors,” her leader reminded her.

“Of course. Like I’d forget that,” she muttered, remembering all too well the first time she’d tripped off an invisible ribbon of detection. Gabriel glared at her, intolerant of insolence. Natalia chose to begin her careful climb into the darkened storefront.

“Gabriel, look at Mt. Silver,” Amy said quickly, her low voice full of urgency. Natalia had one foot through the window but she pulled back to look as well. In unison, the gang gasped, swore, and shouted their shock, for the mountain seemed to be igniting.

“What is that?” Natalia asked, removing herself completely from the hole and going to stand with her seven teammates.

“It looks like NeoEarth has finally spread its fire to Johto…” mused Herzel, Gabriel’s brutal right-hand man, his heavy brow narrowed so that his black eyes disappeared completely in shadow.

“I don’t think that’s it…” Natalia said. The flames were frighteningly beautiful, a magnificent spectrum of bright blues and crimsons ultimately consumed by searing white and pale gold. A scarlet streak shot through the inferno, pulling it out from the mountain, toward Kanto. Gabriel maintained a stony face, calculating as he stared at the spectacular incendiary display.

“Ho-oh,” he whispered, his voice filled with awe, not fear. He lifted his arms and seemed to reach for the flames, which looked to be rippling over the entire region, rapidly spreading further and further outward.

“What’s happening?” Amy asked, parting her thick lips in wonder, her eyes widening as the flames roared toward Saffron.

Gabriel was smiling maniacally. “Ho-oh has come to save us all. His flames...the purging flame from the legend. He’s come from the heavens to end the war.” The area was getting very warm, the speeding inferno closing in.

“What if they burn us?” Natalia asked in panic. “Gabriel, we have to take cover -” And all was engulfed in fire. Natalia felt the flames lick at her, searing her flesh, devouring. She screamed; the torture would not end, the fire was not killing her, but it wasn’t passing her over, either, as the legend had said it would. The crackling of the flames and Gabriel’s joyful laughter rang in her ears, consuming, pressing in on her. The pain was too much, and she passed out for a time.

“Talia?” Her father’s voice sounded so welcoming to her ears, finally drowning out the roaring sound that had been ringing through them for so long. Hector Solos stood before her, ten years younger than he had been at the point of death, fat and healthy-looking. He reached his arms out, and Natalia ran forward, disbelief turning to joy as she ran into her father’s arms, allowing the thickset man to engulf her frail, burnt body. He stroked her ruby hair and chuckled, whispering her name over and over.

“Why did you leave me?” she asked, looking up at his wide face and searching for the answer.

Hector sighed and did not answer. “Why did you keep stealing?” he asked after some time. Natalia looked around, trying to gather up a response for the man, although she knew he was nothing more than a whisper, a memory she had stored in her subconscious. She told him as much, which made her father frown. “You’re avoiding the question. I’m dead; why are you still stealing? Look at what almost happened to you, Talia.” She shivered at this; she had missed the sound of his voice wrapped around her name.

“I think it’s karma, dad -”

“Darn tootin’, it’s karma!” he said immediately, frowning. “Maybe this fire was meant to knock some sense into that twisted head of yours.”

Natalia did not like this dream version of her father. “I couldn’t stop stealing, dad. It was the only thing I could do to maintain structure in my life,” she said quietly, averting her eyes. When she looked back up, her father had turned into Gabriel, whose eyes were narrowed.

“You’ve killed us,” he said, and he burst into flames, his scorched arm reaching out and slapping her burned face without warning.

PAIN.

Natalia opened her eyes and found she was screaming. Her eyes could not see, she was blind. Her face was on fire, she felt the left side melting, twisting, blackening, as if coals were set in it, glowing eternally. She felt a strong set of hands grasp at her, shaking her forcefully. “Natalia.” Gabriel’s voice hit her ears uncomfortably, sounding sharp and unnatural. She continued shrieking, the agony increasing. Gabriel slapped her, sending a fresh pain searing through her damaged flesh. She blinked away tears, understanding that she could now see light at least, and vague shapes/

“Gabriel…” she croaked, her throat dry. She suddenly realized the fires had destroyed her clothing. She was very naked and exposed, and this set a new reason to scream in her. Gabriel’s hand clamped over her mouth. His hand felt very cold against her burning face.

“Shut up. Stop screaming,” he said. Natalia blinked again, her vision clearing further. Gabriel’s face swam into focus. She began to pick out details, dark ashen colors attacking her newfound vision. Gabriel appeared to be unscathed, although he, too, was naked, his lean muscular body shining with sweat and a fine layer of soot. Natalia squirmed, making to cover herself. “Don’t,” he said sternly. “There’s no point. We’ve all been exposed.” The fact that he said ‘we’ve’ gave Natalia hope - it had felt as if she and Gabriel were the sole survivors of Ho-oh’s flames.

Natalia moaned and blinked away the tears of pain. Her face was still throbbing on the left side. She reached up to feel it, pushing Gabriel’s hand away. It felt like leather, stripped raw and burning angrily. Natalia gasped. Gabriel squinted down at her, his familiar cinnamon scent drifting across her nostrils, calming her ever so slightly. “You’re burnt,” he observed, frowning. Natalia let out a noise of derision, to which he shook his head, pressing a finger to her chapped lips. “You’re burnt,” he insisted, gingerly stroking the left side of her face. She yelped at this.

PAIN.

“Gabriel?” asked a husky female voice from very far away. Natalia shook her head, feeling everything swimming, unsteady. Gabriel locked eyes with Natalia, nodded, and stood, turning to walk away.

“Don’t leave me,” Natalia said softly, but he was gone. She lifted her head and finally took in her surroundings. Saffron City looked mostly the same, but in grayscale; the flames had not destroyed the city any more than the machines NeoEarth had deployed. Instead it seemed to have covered the city in a fine layer of charcoal. The jewelry store window remained intact apart from the circle she had cut into it mere seconds ago...or was it days? The sun was high overhead.

PAIN.

Gabriel was bent over a naked female body, and at the sight of his back, Natalia gasped. It was destroyed, melted and charred by the Sacred Fire. It was shining in the sun, bleeding and very raw, the burns glowing an almost beautiful rose color. It took Natalia a moment to absorb this new sensory information before another detail leapt out at her. There were only two people in the street around her. Only Gabriel and Amy, no others. Where was Herzel, where was Dominic, where were Bonnie and her good friend Claire?

“Where is everyone?” she asked, and her face exploded again, every nerve alight.

“Gone,” Gabriel said, taking Amy’s charred hand and observing it, not looking back at Natalia. “They’re all gone. Ho-oh killed them.” His voice betrayed no emotion, just fact. Natalia felt her heart sink. What does this mean, she thought, her mind spinning and spiraling, everything falling away.

“How are we still here?” Amy asked, wincing in pain.

“Arceus knows,” Gabriel mused. Silence rippled through the streets like the purging flames that had decimated the Pariahs. “Legend says the flames killed those beyond salvation, passed over those who were pure, and branded the imperfect ones, sending them away.” He reached over his shoulder, touching the shining burns on his back. “There it is, then,” he said flatly. He smiled ironically at Natalia. “We’re imperfect,” he said, raising his eyebrows. He stood from Amy’s side, walking away from her dark naked body and yelling very suddenly. Natalia felt her face again, understanding the burn was not ever going to heal.

PAIN.

“Mark of the impure,” she whispered. She felt her body shudder. Why, she asked silently, staring up into the deceptively bright blue sky. Why let us live?

“Nobody can live like this,” Amy gasped, grabbing at her cracked, bleeding hand which now resembled a cruel talon more than human appendage. Natalia nodded in agreement, a new feeling rising in her chest.

“How could you do this to me?” Gabriel screamed, glaring at the sky, his arms parted in wonder. Natalia closed her eyes, shutting it all out. What kind of creature does this? she thought, shuddering in revulsion. Her face throbbed in response. PAIN.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Alec rolled over, staring at the fire he had helped build before he and Logan were given leave to sleep. The group had been taking shifts for the past few hours to allow some peace for each companion, although Alec noted Preston had neglected to assign himself any rest time. Much as he seemed to believe Natalia’s rubbish about penance and sorrow, the older man did not appear to trust her enough to leave her unwatched. Alec could see him sitting a stone’s throw away, speaking quietly with Chase while Natalia sat against the wall, staring longingly at the fire.

“Logan,” Alec whispered, keeping his eyes on Preston to ensure the ex-gym leader couldn’t hear. “Are you awake?”

“Yeah, I can’t sleep,” Logan responded after a beat. Alec smiled, glad to have her company.

“The old man looks terrible,” Alec said, referring to Preston’s pallid skin and the bags extending longer and darker under his gray eyes.

“It’s not our fault he’s not sleeping,” Logan’s voice said. Alec turned his eyes to her. She was staring straight up at the low tunnel ceiling, her shoulder-length blonde hair spread out over her Leafeon, who was again acting as a mint-green pillow for her trainer.

“What are we doing, Juliet?” Alec asked her after a silence.

Logan turned her head but kept her sky-blue eyes up. She seemed to be upset about something. “What do you mean?”

“We’re rushing our way through this tunnel with a Team Skye member so we can...what? Meet some crazy guy in Mahogany Town because he’ll know what to do with my family heirloom? Why?” It was apparent Alec had been meaning to say this for a long time.

“It’s something to do,” Logan said after mulling this over. “Would you rather do something else?” she asked, finally looking at Alec.

“Yes,” Alec said, nodding repeatedly for emphasis. Logan looked at him for a while. “What?” he asked finally. Logan liked to communicate through silence a lot, which didn’t help Alec in the slightest.

“That’s the second time you’ve called me Juliet today,” she said quietly. Alec’s eyes closed slowly, his face flushing. “Who is she?” She paused, then: “...was she?”

Alec had seized up in embarrassment at this revelation. “I’m so sorry, Logan,” he said. He looked over his shoulder, checking on Preston, who was now offering some almonds to Natalia. “Juliet...is wonderful. She was my babysitter,” he said meekly, ashamed he’d ever needed a caretaker. Logan watched him carefully. “You remind me a lot of her. She was like a second mother...better than my real one,” he admitted. It amazed him that Logan allowed something in him to open up so readily.

“What happened to her?” Logan asked gently.

Alec watched Machop curled up in his sleep a few feet away, his small body shivering despite the fire. “She left. A better job came around, I guess.” Alec clenched his fists. “That’s when my parents sent me to school.” He said the last word with utter distaste.

“Why did you leave school?” Logan prompted.

“I...well, I ran away. I couldn’t, I just couldn’t do it. I…” Alec swallowed. “I wanted to find Juliet. I knew she had a place in Goldenrod City with her...husband. I thought, maybe she would take me in. Let me train my Pokémon, become who I wanted to be, not what my parents wanted,” he said bitterly.

“You sound so much like Tracey,” Logan said almost absently. She froze, regretting the statement immediately. Silently, the realization sank in for both of them; each was merely projecting their lost loved one on the other. Logan’s clear blue eyes watered and she turned away, burying her head in Leafeon’s warm body.

Alec didn’t want to stop talking, no matter how bizarre his relationship to the girl might be. She provided him comfort. “I met Natalia a third time,” he blurted out. “A time I didn’t tell anyone about.”

This caught Logan’s attention. She sat up, before looking at Preston’s stooped body through the darkness and lowering herself again. “When?” she hissed.

“When I told you my mom called me,” he said miserably. He recounted the real reason he’d wandered off the other day in explicit detail. “And she told me,” he said finally, Logan’s eyes trained intently on the young man, “that I needed to choose one person I can trust. Besides myself,” he added.

Logan looked surprised and touched. “You chose me?” she asked, smiling despite herself.

“No, I chose Gabriel,” Alec said dryly.

She laughed softly, reaching a hand out for the trainer. “I promise you chose well,” she said quietly, smiling at him.

“Well, I hope so!” he said, chuckling, glad at the chance to laugh.

“That’s still really weird though,” she said, frowning suddenly and looking across the cave at Natalia. “I can’t figure her out,” she continued, biting her lip. “She keeps saying she hates Gabriel...but then why did she work for him for so long?” She shook her head. “Something doesn’t add up with her. Call it a feeling.”

Alec nodded. “When I first met her, I was so convinced she was this sweet woman...she’s a REALLY good liar. I don’t know why Preston trusts her,” he said sourly. “It’s definitely making me wonder about him. Why does Will think he’s so dependable, anyway?” Logan shook her head. Silence stretched again. “Let’s play a game,” Alec said after a time.

“Your choice,” Logan said, grinning.

“Okay. Screw, marry, kill. Me, Chase, and…” His mind went blank. “Tracey,” he said finally. Logan’s smile disappeared. “Sorry...bad choice,” he muttered. “Bad game.”

“Let’s sleep,” Logan said, barely audible. Silence fell again, punctuated only by Logan’s Houndoom whimpering absently in her sleep.

…................................................. ....................................

-July 27, 2007-

“Open it up. Just...I want to see your face,” were the words Roy Gideon said. Alec understood the true meaning behind them: Just open the thing, we don’t have all day. I have a business to run. His father feigned a look of excitement, which Alec supposed was the most he could hope to get from the man. The newly-turned thirteen-year-old boy hesitated before ripping open the olive-colored wrapping paper, not caring enough to save the pieces.

It was a black box, small but heavy. These did tend to hold the best gifts...Alec felt his heart swell against his better judgment. He looked at his father, the man’s sea-green eyes trained on the box in anticipation. Alec exchanged glances with Amber, his ‘bring one friend only’ choice, who nodded encouragingly. “Open it, dude!” she said, just as curious as her friend. Alec shook his head, took a deep breath, and opened the box.

“See, it’s the latest model,” Roy said, grabbing the Poké Gear from the box and shaking it for Alec. The boy’s heart sank. “I got it straight from the factory. It now has an instant messaging extension, look.” The auburn-haired man demonstrated accordingly. Alec watched in silence, listening to his father extol the beauty and value of this newest upgrade. Eventually the man sensed the boy’s lack of interest. His voice grew steely. “You don’t like it.”

Alec pushed himself back in his chair, the front legs leaving the floor. The waiter serving them shot him a dirty look from across the dark, narrow room and Alec settled down quickly. Roy had taken Alec and Amber to the Sinnoh Garden, a restaurant unique to Mahogany Town that contained the finest delicacies from the Sinnoh region. It was quite nice, quite rich, and quite dull.

“Why don’t you like it,” his father pressed, trying to control his voice. He was gripping his fork rather tight, and Alec swore he could see the man’s wide nostrils flaring.

“He didn’t say he doesn’t like it,” Amber said, danger in her loud voice. As much as she tried to keep peace and calm, it did not take an awful lot to awaken the girl’s irritable core.

“No, Amber, don’t try,” Alec said, folding his arms and looking defiantly into his father’s eyes. “It’s true, I don’t like it. In fact, I think it sucks.” His father leapt up.

“Roy?” came a familiar strong voice that made Alec’s heart swell painfully. Striding towards the Gideon’s table were two people; one, a very tall man with close-cropped chestnut hair, a strong jaw, and a very broad chest. The other was Juliet. Alec suppressed an immediate cry of delight.

The boy’s father took a calming breath, adjusting his jacket and extending a hand, his thin mouth curving into a smile so wide and forced it seemed his face might break. “Hello! Juliet, what a pleasant surprise! I didn’t realize you were in the area.” She took the man’s hand, looking across the table to Alec and winking, her soft brown eyes twinkling. “And this must be your boyfriend?” The muscular man extended his large hand, shaking Roy’s as well; he seemed to have a very firm grip.

“This is James -”

“Call me Jim,” the man cut in, smiling warmly. Alec felt his heart deflating quite rapidly. Boyfriend?

“James,” Juliet said again, wrapping her willowy arm around his waist, “And actually, he is now my fiancée.” She beamed, and Alec noticed she did, indeed, have a sapphire-set engagement ring on her pale hand. His heart crashed to rock-bottom with a thunk. “So Alec,” the woman said, turning her attention to her old friend, “happiest of birthdays.” She gave him one of her familiar, beautiful smiles, the kind that hurt to look at for too long. Alec thought he might be sick. But, he thought, she remembers my birthday…

“Got a new kid to look after these days?” Roy asked. Juliet shook her head, exchanging an excited look with James.

“She’s got a kid of her own coming,” James said, touching her stomach proudly. She touched his large, tan hand and hugged it to her, nodding happily. Amber grabbed Alec’s hand under the table, squeezing very hard.

“We’re hoping it’s a girl,” Juliet said gently. Alec had a very sour look on his face. He remembered she had always longed for a daughter. Amber clamped tighter on his hand, leading Alec to wonder if she was trying to help him cope or merely trying to crush his fingers. Either was possible with her.

“Fingers crossed,” Roy said, his cheer sounding almost genuine.

“Who’s this?” Juliet asked, indicating toward Alec’s straw-haired friend who was gripping his hand so tightly. Amber had been stony silent, as she was apt to do when strangers presented themselves to her.

“Um, this is…” Alec said, struggling to find his own voice, eyes focused on Juliet’s gently swollen stomach. “This is Amber, she’s a friend from school.” He said this accusingly, as if it were Juliet’s fault he had ever gone to technical school in the first place.

“A ‘friend from school’, eh?” his old guardian said, smiling knowingly. Alec felt his blood boil. She couldn’t possibly think he was even remotely interested in Amber. A scream sounded at the front of the restaurant.

“Look at Mt. Silver!” a man’s voice yelled. There was a flurry of movement in the dimly-lit area, and a great mass of bodies stood almost in unison, pushing toward the large glass windows that looked out on the mountains. James shielded his fiancée from the stampede, infuriating Alec.

Roy looked vaguely concerned, although he showed no interest in investigating the source of the urgent voices ringing through the Sinnoh Garden. “What’s all the commotion?” he wondered aloud.

“Is it getting warm?” Amber asked simultaneously. Alec did notice the rapidly rising temperature, although he had thought this was due to his jealous rage over Juliet and her muscular boyfriend. I could have muscles like that if I tried…

“Flames! Flames from the mountain!” shouted their waiter, running away from the window toward the kitchens, knocking chairs over. Roy moved from behind the table very quickly.

“What’s he talking about?” Juliet asked, peering toward the window. The roaring crackle of incineration hit their ears just as the scarlet flames shot through Fractal Avenue, quick and unstoppable. The windows seemed unaffected, but somehow the fire passed straight through, engulfing everything and everyone in flames.

All was screams and chaos. Alec fought to see, coughing and choking, grasping for Juliet. Amber was crying somewhere to his right, Roy screaming. Why aren’t the flames killing me? Alec wondered vaguely. He couldn’t see, the fire was filling his vision, his ears, his mouth, pouring down his throat. He felt a hand grab his arm. “Juliet?” he called. “I can’t see!” Everything was red, white, and hot. It was too much for Alec’s thirteen-year-old body. The boy blacked out, still calling his old protector’s name.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

“They’re not sleeping, you know,” Chase said, his eyes glancing darkly at Logan and Alec’s motionless bodies by the fire.

“Yes, I know,” Preston said, not looking up from his journal. “Were you expecting them to?” He turned a page, squinting to read in the dark shadow that threatened to engulf himself, Chase, and Natalia in their vigil away from the fire.

“I guess not...still, everyone could use the sleep,” Chase said, a little louder perhaps than he had to, his head turned toward the fire. He could swear he saw Alec shoot him a dirty look.

“We still have a ways to go before reaching the exit, I think,” Preston said, still poring over the yellowed pages of his book. A card slipped out from the back cover, one that Chase had not seen while he and Alec were in possession of the journal. “Oh, for Arceus’s sake,” Preston muttered, fishing around in the dark for the small piece of paper.

“What is that?” Chase asked, nodding toward the card.

“It’s nothing, really,” Preston said, hastily sliding the card back in between the pages of the journal. Chase tilted his head forward, eyebrows raised. “It’s my wedding vows,” he said finally, unable to shake Chase’s curious look. “It’s so dark in these caves,” he continued quickly, clearing his throat and looking back down at his own writing and glancing longingly at the fire. “Had I just accepted they wouldn’t sleep anyway, maybe I would have chosen different seating arrangements.” The graying man shifted uncomfortably on the flat rock he was leaning against. He let out a sudden gasp of pain.

“Are you okay?” Chase asked, snapping his head back from Logan. Natalia also looked up, her cocoa eyes glittering anxiously at the noise that Preston had emitted.

“It’s this leg,” he groaned, reaching down to touch his heavily bandaged right leg. “I can’t keep going like this. I need to treat it.” He went to undo the bandages, his fingers fumbling uselessly.

Chase grabbed the older man’s calloused hands. “Preston. I think you need to sleep. Have you seen yourself?” He was referring to the man’s pale face, sunken cheeks, and heavily shadowed eyes. “You haven’t slept since we left your house. C’mon, you need to. Your body needs to heal!”

Preston shook his head insistently. “No, I need to stay alert. Will told me to protect you children. And I need to make sure she doesn’t do anything against her word.”

“For the last time, we are young adults. Logan and I are of age. I can drive a car. Okay? I can keep an eye on everyone, including Natalia.” Preston shook his head again, stubbornly fighting exhaustion.

“I promised on my father’s name I wouldn’t try anything,” Natalia said, standing up with Chase. “I really think you ought to rest. The last thing you need is to get sick. Come on,” she said, reaching an arm out.

After several more pleas, Preston finally allowed himself to be carried to the fireside, where Alec and Logan had fallen completely silent. After carefully lying him down on some padded blankets and pillows, Natalia re-dressed the man’s leg, returning the favor he had granted her the other day after rescuing her from Amy and Brodie. Chase helped where he could, although medicine was foreign to him. Preston looked ready to pass out.

“We’ll get you to the hospital first thing in the morning,” Chase said, realizing silently he frankly had no idea what time it was; he had not used his Poké Gear in ages.

“Keep an eye...I’m trusting you, Chase…” Preston said deliriously. It did not take any further persuasion to convince the man to sleep. He finally closed his eyes, his hollowed cheeks releasing tension and his brow lifting peacefully. Natalia and Chase returned to the sentry post Preston had erected away from the fire.

“He really needs a doctor,” Natalia said, a note of genuine concern in her voice. Chase nodded, looking curiously at her for a long moment before averting his gaze. “What?” she asked.

“You seem so...normal. I mean, Preston treats you like an equal but a potential threat. Alec and Logan hate you. Everything I’ve heard about you...well, makes you seem like a terrifying killer. You don’t come across that way.”

Natalia threw a small rock into the darkness, listening to its echoing trajectory through the tunnel before looking back at Chase. “I’m not normal,” she said despondently. The two sat in silence. Logan’s Houndoom barked once.

“Oh, that reminds me!” Chase said, a complete non sequitur. He released his Nidoking, the tall purple beast flexing his strong arms and pounding a stumpy foot on the ground. “For extra security,” he said upon Natalia’s questioning look.

“Ah, yes,” she said. She understood the true need for ‘extra security’. It was a long time ago indeed when she would have questioned why everyone was frightened by her. Nidoking took a stoic step away from the two, puffing his chest and beginning his silent vigil.

“Do you play chess?” Chase asked after some time. Natalia frowned, unsure of the young man’s angle.

“I do. I mean, I did,” she said, looking at him searchingly. “Once upon a time. It was my favorite game,” she added.

“Thank you!” Chase said excitedly, his eyes lighting up. “It’s a guilty pleasure game of mine. I play with Logan, but it bores her. I have a board…care to play?” Natalia wore an expression of extreme skepticism. “To pass the time!” he continued, already reaching into his bag.

“Why not?” Natalia said finally. Chase set up the board on the tunnel floor, producing a bag with red-and-white pieces and pouring them out. Natalia felt a surge of nostalgia at the sight of the game pieces.

“Want to be red or white?” the young man asked.

“Red,” Natalia said immediately. She had always chosen red when playing with her father (‘just like your hair!’ he would always say fondly.)

“Good, I’m always white,” Chase said cheerfully. Natalia’s eyes lingered on his unnaturally-colored hair and wondered if he always chose his player color for the same reason as she did.

“I haven’t played for a long time,” Natalia warned. Chase nodded, setting his pawns in a protective row in front of his king.

“I’ll guide you through,” he promised. “I didn’t always play, I started about five years ago,” he said conversationally, handing a pair of rooks to his opponent. “I spent a long time in a hospital, the doctor there taught me how to play. It helped me pass the time,” he continued. Natalia remained silent, looking at the faceless queen he handed her and remembering her father’s warm voice, saying ‘No, no, my Red Queen, you can’t move your knight that way!’ She smiled at the memory.

“I’ll start,” Chase said, already engrossed in the game. He moved a pawn two spaces. “So, why did you agree to come with us?” he asked, looking up at the Team Skye member, his soft brown eyes merely curious.

“It’s not exactly like I had a choice -”

“But you did,” Chase interrupted, “Preston told me what you did to those two teammates of yours. He had an injured leg and Logan can’t fight to save her life. You could’ve taken them and escaped easily.” Natalia moved a pawn one space. “But you didn’t,” Chase said, pressing. He moved his right bishop out three spaces, thought better of it, and moved a knight instead.

“I was done with Team Skye. With Gabriel. All the awful things he’s done, I just...I feel bad for Alec -”

“Doesn’t everybody?” Chase muttered, rolling his eyes. Natalia gripped a rook. “You can’t move that yet, all its pathways are blocked,” he said.

“Oh, right. Well, okay. Yes, I felt bad for Alec and all the pain we’ve...I’ve put him through. Gabriel has exiled me from Team Skye...so I meant it when I said I want him taught a lesson. I’m going to help you defy him!” Chase did not respond; he was staring at the board, deep in thought. “Preston listened to my story and seemed to trust my honesty, he said everybody deserves a second chance.” She moved another pawn.

“Did he give you a big speech about hugging?” Chase asked sardonically. Natalia cocked an eyebrow. “Never mind,” he said, taking her pawn with his knight. “Bad move,” he added, smiling.

“I told you I was bad at this,” Natalia said, returning the smile.

“Well, if Preston trusts you, I guess that’s good enough for now,” Chase said. It shouldn’t be, Natalia thought darkly. “Why is Alec so special, then?” he asked, almost involuntarily, his eyes suddenly locking onto her face.

“Well...I mean, Gabriel has a plan, a big plan involving Ho-oh. Everything he’s done, everything he was planning on doing, was about Ho-oh. The Rainbow Wing is supposedly an essential part of controlling the Pokémon...remember back in Olivine City, Champion Will arrived on that Lugia he’s somehow tamed...that was because Gabriel wanted to commune with its brethren. He was...obsessed,” she admitted. She went to move her queen, but Chase grabbed her hand. She flinched at the touch of his warm fingers, and he quickly broke the contact.

“Can’t move her yet,” he said gravely. “You say this all in the past tense...isn’t Gabriel still after Alec? And Ho-oh?”

“Ah, well...see, when I say he kicked me out...I think he disbanded the group. Amy and Brodie were telling me as much in the caves,” Natalia said, glancing nervously at Preston. She knew he alone could catch her in a lie. “I think the Team finally realized how crazy the man’s plans were.”

“Why did you join Team Skye, if you hate Gabriel so much, if you think he’s crazy?”

Natalia contemplated telling the carefully fabricated story she had rehearsed an exhausting amount of times with Gabriel, or the complete truth. “I was in a...very complicated relationship, two years ago. His name was Shawn. He was beautiful...long, sandy hair, these real soulful eyes. Not too intelligent, but he loved me. I always said I was smart enough for both of us,” she said, smiling slightly, her deep brown eyes distant. “But he did love me. Or...I thought he did. He discovered, one day, what my face really looked like. He was...revolted. He couldn’t stand looking at me. He kicked me out, leaving me quite friendless. I’m not good at the whole friend thing,” she said quietly, clutching at her arm. “He told me, “You’re not worth loving.”” Chase whistled. “Yeah, he was real friendly. Well, I was out on the street. I was alone, very truly. That’s where I met Gabriel. I...I joined Team Skye because Gabriel was the only one who would have me,” she whispered. She moved her left knight three spaces. Well, mostly truth is a stepping stone, she thought.

“What’s wrong with your face?” Chase asked after a spell. Natalia looked at him, a searching look that made him feel quite naked. There was an intelligent, piercing quality to her gaze that was difficult to avoid. The girl reached up slowly, wiping the left side of her face slowly, revealing the angry red burns concealed underneath the mask. She waited for the revulsion, the hatred.

“Gabriel did this to me,” she said quietly.

Chase blinked. “And?”

“Well, Shawn was right, wasn’t he? I look like a freak.”

Chase moved a pawn forward. “You look fine to me,” he said simply.

Natalia stared at him. “Look at me!”

He obeyed, taking in her long, straight ruby hair, the way her angular face melted on the left side, the olive skin and arched eyebrows drooping like wax. The burns glowed faintly.

“I am looking at you,” he said. “And it’s your move.”

…................................................. ....................................

-July 28, 2007. Early Morning.-

“What about the two that were with him? And his Pokémon?” Preston asked, squinting at a dark shape for a moment before ascertaining it was a charred piece of war machinery, nothing more. He and Will had been scanning the battlefield, or the remnants of a battlefield, ever since Ho-oh’s fire engulfed the continent the night before. The incident would forever be remembered as “The Day of the Ashes,” or less elegantly, “The Purge.” All members of the Pokémon League Official Task Force that were able were combing the area of the final battle for burn victims.

Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire had done many things - the rift between NeoEarth and their own world was closed, presumably with all the worlds’ inhabitants returned to their rightful sides. Many people had ceased to exist - it seemed they had been vaporized by the flames. Others, like Will and Preston, had remained completely unharmed. But a third faction seemed to exist, a small percentage of people Ho-oh had been unsure about. They were left damaged, burnt horribly and disfigured. Karen and Lance were still completely absent, although the search was still underway.

“Tracey’s Pokémon died with their trainer, as is wont in such a case. Logan and Chase escaped relatively unscathed, though traumatized. The girl, in particular, seems to have...snapped?” Preston cocked his head. “I understand she was very close to Tracey. It’s possible she’s just unsure how to handle his loss,” Will continued, stomping on a piece of still-burning equipment.

“I guess that’s to be expected,” Preston said, trying to recall his immediate reaction to the death of his wife. “Is she seeing someone?”

“Dr. Hume is looking after her.” Will sighed, glancing around the charred remains of the Indigo Plateau. He and Preston had not slept for nearly three days, although the graying ex-gym leader looked far worse for wear than Will, who somehow still managed to look resplendent. “Where do we begin? How do we rebuild from here? Ho-oh’s flames reportedly only destroyed the immediate battle areas. But they killed people all over. A rough estimate put out this morning,” he said, scanning his beat-up Poké Gear, “says about ten percent of our population is gone. Just...gone.”

Preston bowed his head. “All those people...Ho-oh just decided they were beyond redemption?”

Will shook his head numbly. “All we have to go off of is the legend. The impurities were cleansed. Ho-oh just chose who lives and who dies. But these...burned people. Burnt, excuse me. That’s a new phenomenon...legend never said anything, not, not about that.” He shuddered. Koga’s daughter Janine had been found burnt, all her beautiful violet hair destroyed. “He marked those who can still be saved,” Will said hollowly.

“Well,” Preston began, before stopping himself. He was beyond words at the moment. He dug his boot into the ashen ground absently, running his fingers through his hair. “Did any of you see Karen on the summit?” he asked finally, realizing he had never found her while scanning the area.

Will’s face fell. “Well...apparently, she was waiting for Tracey at the shrine. Chase says Tracey started the fire almost as a defense. I think...Preston, I think it’s pretty clear Karen was our enemy.” Preston nodded silently. “Right under our noses,” he finished sadly.

“I don’t suppose we should tell anyone. Let them think she’s still missing, like Lance.” Will did not respond. “Or should we?” Preston asked, looking searchingly at his friend.

“We can only wait for so long. The entire structure of our government will be changed, Joe. The Steward is dead, the Champion is missing...Karen is gone, four gym leaders out of commission…”

“Four?” Preston asked sharply.

“Yes. Erika is already preparing to be sworn into the Elite Four, for the time being. Her assistant Nikki is prepared to take the Celadon Gym...but if we count Janine as unfit to continue...Emerson was confirmed dead two days ago, and Pryce…”

“What about me?” asked a shaky voice. Will and Preston jumped. They scanned the field wildly, looking for the Mahogany Gym Leader. “Right here,” said the ancient voice from behind them. Pryce was buried underneath the empty shell of a NeoEarth helicopter, his entire lower body hidden. “I didn’t want to interrupt,” the old man said, his bruised, lined face breaking into a smile. His shock of white hair was mostly gone, as was any color he had once contained in his skin.

“Arceus’ Plates!” Will yelped, indicating to Preston. The two immediately hoisted the burnt aircraft off the old man’s broken lower body. Preston looked away in revulsion. The fire had done its number on Pryce; his lower body was essentially a ravaged charcoal mess, melted and twisted beyond hope of repair.

“Guess I was judged salvageable,” the man prompted feebly, reading Preston’s mind.

“I’ll call the medics in immediately!” Will said, grabbing his Poké Gear. Preston touched his friend’s arm, shaking his head. “What?”

“He needs immediate help. These burns...do they hurt?” Preston asked, pulling out his first aid kit and kneeling beside the withered old man.

“I think? I can’t really feel them,” Pryce said hoarsely.

Preston snapped the kit open, producing a tube of gel. “You’ll be in a wheelchair forever,” the graying man said, squeezing a large amount of gel onto the left leg and beginning the painful process of treatment.

Pryce closed his eyes, wincing and breathing unevenly.“What were you saying about the government?” he asked after a while. Will didn’t answer, staring at the final product of Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire.

Preston knew Pryce was very interested in politics, but this seemed an odd moment to discuss them. “Just relax, Pryce,” he said softly.

“Will I be removed from my gym?” Pryce asked, his raspy voice shaking nervously.

“There’ll be a vote. Before anything else is decided, I think we’ll need a new elected leader,” Will said hesitantly. Both Preston and Pryce turned their heads to the Elite Four member instantly. “What?” he asked, nonplussed.

“It’s going to be you,” Preston laughed, capping the tube again. Pryce’s legs were still grossly unfit to look at, but at least the very long healing process had been triggered.

Will blushed but did not speak. “It could be anyone in the Elite Four,” he said finally.

“I nominate Karen,” Pryce said wryly. Will laughed in spite of himself.

“My vote goes to Will,” Preston said, his gray eyes locking with his friend’s magenta ones. “Will, the Lugia Master, Will the Champion.”

“Thanks, Joe,” Will said gratefully. Preston nodded brusquely. “I would gladly vote for you, you’re more the leader…”

“I’m not a leader,” Preston said very firmly. “I’m retired. I’m a healer now. It’s going to be you, I know it.” Will smiled.

“Well, now that the lovefest has ended,” Pryce said, his voice barely above a whisper, “can we work on getting me out of here?”

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Preston was having a very vivid nightmare. He saw Carrie, broken, pale, delirious and very pregnant, lying in a hospital bed, her eyes bleary and unseeing.

“Don’t let them hurt the child,” was all she muttered, over and over. Preston tried to reach her, but there was a large break in the ground between them, empty space between his world and hers.

“Carrie, I’m coming,” he tried yelling, but he was silenced by a half-man, half-bird with piercing blue eyes and crimson feathers. He had long legs that ended in cruel black talons, and his face was elongated, ending in a pointed beak.

“The only way across is with my help,” the man/bird said in a cold voice, fire springing out of his back.

“Carrie!” Preston yelled, ignoring the beast and trying to jump the void. She was so far away...he was never going to reach her...his leg snapped in the second before the leap, and the crippled man tripped, falling into the negative space separating the lovers forever…

“Preston, we need to get you help,” said a voice, a male voice, from far away. Preston screamed, his leg on fire. Two sets of arms were tugging at him, pulling him back to reality. Reluctantly, painfully, Preston opened his eyes. Alec and Logan had him by the shoulders, pulling him upright. Chase was kneeling in front of the man, concern etched into his soft features.

“Natalia,” Preston croaked, staring around wildly.

“Down here,” said a female voice. Preston blinked incredulously once, twice, staring at his leg. Natalia was bent over the broken limb, tending it as best as she could. “It’s inflamed,” she said, throwing the bloody bandages aside and dabbing at the leg with a wet cloth. Preston released a guttural yell, eyes watering. “That won’t help anything,” Natalia admonished, looking up at the man’s pale, sweat-covered face.

“We need to get him to the hospital,” Logan said, exchanging glances with Alec.

“I need to get to Carrie,” Preston said frantically. Natalia’s face darkened.

“Preston, we’re going to use your Sawsbuck. Okay? We’re going to…” Chase’s words were drowned out by another scream from the older man, who was beginning to hyperventilate.

“We can’t do this,” Natalia said impatiently, “not with him conscious.” Preston’s heart pounded heavily in his chest. Natalia’s carefully made-up face was screwed up in concentration. “Alec, knock him out.”

“No!” Preston yelled.

“What?” asked the youth simultaneously..

“I’ll do it,” Natalia said quickly, getting up and grabbing a rock. “I’m so sorry,” she said, and Preston felt a blunt object club his head. Everything swam, his vision going dark. Good, he thought fleetingly, now I can see Carrie again.

…................................................. ....................................

Pink Harzard
29th December 2013, 5:32 PM
Well, I had a good Christmas and I'm here for a review ^^
*sips some leftover glühwein*
So, let's begin:




She had been hand-chosen by Gabriel along with seven other members of the gang he had formed since Team Skye’s disbandment.
Some criminals never know when to stop.


The patrolling policemen had already been taken care of, their thick bodies dumped carelessly in the alley two stores down. Saffron Jewelers’ location was an ideal business opportunity for both the jewelers and the gang stealing from them - it was nestled in the shadow of the Silph Corporation building, which Gabriel planned to target next.
Killing police and target the Silph building, this sounds pretty serious.


Thievery was all too easy these days. With shells landing and bullets flying freely as rainfall, stores were open seldom and at odd hours, most employees choosing to stay in the (relative) safety of their homes. The Silph skyscraper, a prime target, was heavily damaged but still standing, a mere shadow of the splendor it possessed in its pre-war days. The doors were boarded up and the building only opened when the Elite Four needed to hold emergency meetings.
The after-war chaos is pretty visible.


A great crunching sounded in the distance, followed by an explosion, and the far-off silhouette of Mt. Silver was illuminated eerily in the darkening sky.
Wait. It is still war?
And wasn't that the Eruption caused by Tracy's Quilava to sacrifice himself for Ho-oh?


“Gabriel, look at Mt. Silver,” Amy said quickly, her low voice full of urgency. Natalia had one foot through the window but she pulled back to look as well. In unison, the gang gasped, swore, and shouted their shock, for the mountain seemed to be igniting.
Or maybe Mt. Silver is a volcano. Just kidding, it was Tracy


“I don’t think that’s it…” Natalia said. The flames were frighteningly beautiful, a magnificent spectrum of bright blues and crimsons ultimately consumed by searing white and pale gold. A scarlet streak shot through the inferno, pulling it out from the mountain, toward Kanto. Gabriel maintained a stony face, calculating as he stared at the spectacular incendiary display.
Ho-oh. *le nod*
What a beautiful discription of the flames.


“Ho-oh,” he whispered, his voice filled with awe, not fear.
Great minds think alike :p


“Arceus knows,” Gabriel mused. “Legend says the flames killed those beyond salvation, passed over those who were pure, and branded the imperfect ones, sending them away.” He reached over his shoulder, touching the shining burns on his back. “There it is, then,” he said flatly. He smiled ironically at Natalia. “We’re imperfect,” he said, raising his eyebrows.
That explains. But they still have a change to become a better person, being not killed. That is what I think.


her shoulder-length blonde hair spread out over her Leafeon, who was again acting as a mint-green pillow for her trainer.
That sounds so cute :3


“What are we doing, Juliet?” Alec asked her after a silence.
Juliet? Is he reffering to Romeo and Juliet or did I miss something?


Logan liked to communicate through silence a lot, which didn’t help Alec in the slightest.
xD


“Juliet...is wonderful. She was my babysitter,” he said meekly, ashamed he’d ever needed a caretaker. Logan watched him carefully. “You remind me a lot of her. She was like a second mother...better than my real one,” he admitted. It amazed him that Logan allowed something in him to open up so readily.
O, that Juliet. So cute. Logan reminds him of her. :3


“Become who I wanted to be, not what my parents wanted,” he said bitterly.
Very good. Alec doesn't look like a jerk now, but like someone who wants to pursue his dreams.


“You sound so much like Tracey,” Logan said almost absently. She froze, regretting the statement immediately. Silently, the realization sank in for both of them; each was merely projecting their lost loved one on the other. Logan’s clear blue eyes watered and she turned away, burying her head in Leafeon’s warm body.

Alec didn’t want to stop talking, no matter how bizarre his relationship to the girl might be. She provided him comfort.
Indeed a weird relation. Don't tell Chase.


“No, I chose Gabriel,” Alec said dryly.
Haha.


“Okay. Screw, marry, kill. Me, Chase, and…” His mind went blank. “Tracey,” he said finally. Logan’s smile disappeared. “Sorry...bad choice,” he muttered. “Bad game.”
Bad boy. Making such a stupid choice.


“Open it up. Just...I want to see your face,” were the words Roy Gideon said. Alec understood the true meaning behind them: Just open the thing, we don’t have all day. I have a business to run. His father feigned a look of excitement, which Alec supposed was the most he could hope to get from the man.
A Froslass is warmer than this father is.


“See, it’s the latest model,” Roy said, grabbing the Poké Gear from the box and shaking it for Alec. The boy’s heart sank. “I got it straight from the factory. It now has an instant messaging extension, look.” The auburn-haired man demonstrated accordingly. Alec watched in silence, listening to his father extol the beauty and value of this newest upgrade. Eventually the man sensed the boy’s lack of interest. His voice grew steely. “You don’t like it.”
No sh*t, he doesn't like it.


“Call me Jim,” the man cut in, smiling warmly. Alec felt his heart deflating quite rapidly. Boyfriend?
More dissapointment on his birthday. I feel bad for Alec.


“Look at Mt. Silver!” a man’s voice yelled. There was a flurry of movement in the dimly-lit area, and a great mass of bodies stood almost in unison, pushing toward the large glass windows that looked out on the mountains. James shielded his fiancée from the stampede, infuriating Alec.
I hope his dad gets burned. O, that doesn't sound nice from me. *crawls in the shame-corner*


.................................................. ...................................
What? No results of the fire? Cliffhanger...


“Thank you!” Chase said excitedly, his eyes lighting up. “It’s a guilty pleasure game of mine. I play with Logan, but it bores her. I have a board…care to play?” Natalia wore an expression of extreme skepticism. “To pass the time!” he continued, already reaching into his bag.
Extra points for mentioning one of my favourite games. I wish I could play with him. My chessplaying is rusty however.


“Want to be red or white?” the young man asked.
Isn't it black and white? Or does the red and white combination represent the Pokéball?



“What’s wrong with your face?” Chase asked after a spell. Natalia looked at him, a searching look that made him feel quite naked. There was an intelligent, piercing quality to her gaze that was difficult to avoid. The girl reached up slowly, wiping the left side of her face slowly, revealing the angry red burns concealed underneath the mask. She waited for the revulsion, the hatred.
Poor girl.


Chase moved a pawn forward. “You look fine to me,” he said simply.

Natalia stared at him. “Look at me!”

He obeyed, taking in her long, straight ruby hair, the way her angular face melted on the left side, the olive skin and arched eyebrows drooping like wax. The burns glowed faintly.

“I am looking at you,” he said. “And it’s your move.”
And hereby I present Chase the award for accepting people who are treated as outcasts. Chase is a example for many people.


Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire had done many things - the rift between NeoEarth and their own world was closed, presumably with all the worlds’ inhabitants returned to their rightful sides. Many people had ceased to exist - it seemed they had been vaporized by the flames. Others, like Will and Preston, had remained completely unharmed. But a third faction seemed to exist, a small percentage of people Ho-oh had been unsure about. They were left damaged, burnt horribly and disfigured. Karen and Lance were still completely absent, although the search was still underway.
Looks like there is still a lot of work to do. And a legendary who is unsure about people. That is new for me.


“Tracey’s Pokémon died with their trainer, as is wont in such a case.
Hm. Isn't it want, instead of wont? I'm not sure myself.


Ho-oh’s flames reportedly only destroyed the immediate battle areas. But they killed people all over. A rough estimate put out this morning,” he said, scanning his beat-up Poké Gear, “says about ten percent of our population is gone. Just...gone.”
So many died O_O?


“We need to get him to the hospital,” Logan said, exchanging glances with Alec.

“I need to get to Carrie,” Preston said frantically. Natalia’s face darkened.

“Preston, we’re going to use your Sawsbuck. Okay? We’re going to…” Chase’s words were drowned out by another scream from the older man, who was beginning to hyperventilate.

“We can’t do this,” Natalia said impatiently, “not with him conscious.” Preston’s heart pounded heavily in his chest. Natalia’s carefully made-up face was screwed up in concentration. “Alec, knock him out.”

“No!” Preston yelled.

“What?” asked the youth simultaneously..

“I’ll do it,” Natalia said quickly, getting up and grabbing a rock. “I’m so sorry,” she said, and Preston felt a blunt object club his head. Everything swam, his vision going dark. Good, he thought fleetingly, now I can see Carrie again.

…................................................. ....................................
Preston...


Well this chapter explained a lot and gave a good cliffhanger too. Please make Preston survive.

Glover
29th December 2013, 9:01 PM
Well, this will be the third time I try to review this, hopefully the forum software is not hungry today...

My apologies on not getting back sooner, I have a story in my head, and 19 pages later, the main character has so far managed to go from her bedroom to the forest behind her house and back home with an implied stop at a supermarket... This would be why I stopped writing mmy last fic when it turned into a big hairy uncontrollable monster... And heads up, I will be asking you to take the time to flip through it for me!

---

On the good side, Pokémon were the strongest assets Not fond of the "good side" I think you're trying to paint the "Pokemon world" as good vs. evil, but its too blunt. And I think the harder part is actually that I keep trying to read "On the other hand" since you are comparing the two sides of the war.


knowing Chase was sitting beside Will o Lugia are big, but they aren't that big. Most ridibng Pokemon see the trainer straddling the shoulder, not the back. Weight balancing being the primary reason, and I think Lugia actually use those spinal plates for maneuverability if your puuytting someone back there. Cwertainly room for a second person behind Will though on its neck.


“You heard what he said,” the white-haired youth said quickly to Will, who seemed confused at this statement. “Let’s go.” The man nodded, beckoning to the three to join him on Lugia’s broad plate-covered back. Ah, you are putting them up there... I'll shut up then.


“Show him your knee, for Ho-oh’s sake!” Alec said bitterly. Preston did not look good; his face was haggard, collapsing from fatigue, the bags under his eyes more pronounced and his skin a distinct gray color. That he was being as patient as he was with Chase was astonishing to the fourteen-year-old boy, whose own temper was very short. Careful, Alec, you're starting to show actual concern...


“Magby, give us some light,” he said, and Magby bleated feebly; it seemed he had been having quite a good nap. After a slight delay, his small body glowed translucently, and the familiar purple candles of Will-o-Wisp ignited, floating eerily just beyond his tiny crimson form. Still lovign the inguinuity of this


“I think he had a map of the tunnel system in here,” Alec said And here I thought he was navigating on wits alone... cheater.


Alec said tersely. “I had to make my own money to buy my first Poké Balls myself, after...after I left home,” he continued carefully. “And nobody ever gave me a Pokémon. I had to wrestle with Larv...Pupitar myself, it was not too fun,” *Like*


and the other looks ready to cry,” he said, not in a mean way. How do you NOT say that in a mean way?


(Preston, he had been called) Again, Parenthesis. I thinkmost of us figured out who it was back when you said "Olivine Guym leader," but you would've gotten away with "His friend, Preston"

Why is Karen always the bad guy in these kinds of stories?


“I don’t have anything to give you,” he said blankly. The boy had very few personal possessions, Logan knew. With one fluid movement, he produced the solution: he pulled his blue cardigan from his thin body, draping it instead around his best and oldest friend. “Take care of everyone, won’t you?” he asked, pulling back and looking her in the eyes.

Logan nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Tracey pulled her into a hug, which lasted for an eternity, the two clutching tighter and tighter. *sniff*

---------------------------------------------------


We fell about thirty-five feet, by my estimation, so honestly we’re quite lucky to be as well-off as we are. Unscathed.”
35 Feet? That's taller than the ceilings of most department stores. It's too unbelievable that they would come out as they did because a fall from twenty feet can seriously injure, if not kill

I was gonna say something but I saw Sidey already had. Personally, when I see the floor giving out, I see Logan and Preston as much floor surfing as I do anything. An outright fall of thirty-five feet would kill, but a fall with ground under them not three feet away wouldsignificantly cut the drop, I think,,

Props by the way on the sacrifice, I get hesitant about such setups but you really executed it well. I was afraid that Ho-Oh would be Tracey, but I'm glad it wasn't.

----

Reading Broken Things by Huswell?” I see what you did there...


“Ever read Water-type Down?” On the other hand, I fervently disapprove of Pokemonification of random concepts purely for the Pokemonification of it. Watership Down is purely a reference to a location. Make it about Buneary, if you must, but the book title really should stand. (Assuming you are talking about the right book...)



“Now Joe,” she said coyly, “Do I look like a woman capable of that kind of violent behavior? ...Maybe?


The hand holding the gun was like the rest of Amy’s body, slender and dark. But the other hand was gloved in sleek forest-green leather. Logan frowned, looking at Preston, more than a little worried about his sanity in his present state. “Why does that matter -” A man calling himself Pheonix now having employed possibly two people who've been touched by the Phoenix?


Logan shouted, “NO!” but not before the woman pulled the trigger. Logan slammed her eyes shut just in time, the last image burned in her brain Preston’s weary face frozen in disbelief. She heard the body hit the ground with a sickening crash. poor guy


Morty smiled mischievously. “Burn the bachelor pants.” J.T. blushed; it was common knowledge that the man owned a set of ridiculous Horsea-covered flannel pants that he wore at every available opportunity when alone in his apartment. The others laughed again and lunged at the groom’s suitcase, digging for the horrid pants. J.T. grudgingly allowed Jesse to torch the pants with his Growlithe, the final step of acceptance that he would never be alone again.



Like a phoenix, My initial first thought was "too much", but that thought was quickly replaced by another, that what if Arceus, or the Unown or someone has been seeding Preston's past with clues all along? I wonder, f Preston ever had a chance to connect the dots?


Chase shook his head, his voice soft.“So that was the sound of one of THEIR guns. NeoEarth’s guns. It just doesn’t sit right in our world.” ...Pardon? Is Chase talking about the different of a Flintlock "pmpth" vs the sharper retort of say a Glock or what? Because physics is physics.


Alec considered this, then: “Well, still! It’s a gun! Somebody just freaking shot a gun in the same cave as us!” Oh my God, Alec is the one who is getting to the important detail!


“Oh, for Ho-oh’s sake, is it another cave-in?” Alec cried, but he was saved a verbal answer by a practical one. A group of several Lairon were storming from the direction of the gunshot, icy blue eyes wild and solid silver armor flashing in outrage.
I'm not sure which I'd rather, Lairon coming at me or a small earthquake...

Lairon in Johto? Were there ever Aron in the FR/LG maps or is this just one of your transplants? I only ask because I'm thinking Ryhorn would've done the same gig


“Magby, Smokescreen!” The miniscule red creature puffed his cheeks, producing great clouds of black smoke. In seconds, Chase couldn’t see three feet ahead of him. ...Ta Da!


That poor man, she thought, That is not remotely close to the first thing I would be thinking if the person beside me, wehom I had previously thought of great respect for putting me before him, someone who was my only real hope of gettting out of this cave, was shot. Even someone who's been through a War, you bond to certain brothers and you can't just compartmentalize their deaths as part of the war the way anyone else dieing could be.


“You must not have many decent people on your Team if you think I would just leave you like this,” Preston said, reaching toward her shoulder again. Logan seemed just as confused as Natalia. Worth framing


“Preston,” she said, not bothering to keep her voice down, “She’ll be fine, let’s go.”
Logan must be deaf. Nice contrast between the to lines, by the way


the Diglett’s Cave Drop the "the" there, Digglett's Cave is a formal title.


“We have ways of making you talk.” That line is just begging to be written in a german dialogue. Dad always tossed that line around and I have no idea what its a reference to but 18 years of "Ve haff vays of making you talk" gets to ya.


How do we capture the birds?” Well, here's a hint, Gonzap, this ain't it. Unless you happen to know a collector in the Whirl Islands...


the flux of Pokémon that continued attacking had reached insane heights, Typical of these two, always seeing a fight where there shouldn't be one. ITS A STAMPEDE GENIUSES, GET OUT OF TEH WAY


Pupitar, Chip Away!” Alec said half-heartedly. Actually dissapopinted here. For all the fuss and bother of "Oh no it evolved" I was hoping to see Pupitar's premiere battle to be more than coming into it halfway


“Use Roar,” said a familiar voice. Alec raised his eyes in disbelief. Standing on the other side of the remaining Lairon and Aggron were five figures, two of which were Pokémon. More battle mechanics issues... So let's have the Pokemon who previously caused a Cave-in simply by saying his name to now belt it out in an intensidfied, almost painful attack form, In the cave and direct it at Pokemon who are already running for their lives from an alien and threatening noise...

---
Oh look, a wild chapter appeared while I was writng this!


She had been hand-chosen by Gabriel along with seven other members of the gang he had formed since Team Skye’s disbandment Umm... No *ship* Dick Tracey? I think we knew this already...


(they went loosely under the name ‘Pariahs’, a pun based around Gabriel’s last name). again with the parentheseses


Hector sighed and did not answer. “Why did you keep stealing?” he asked after some time. Natalia looked around, trying to gather up a response for the man, although she knew he was nothing more than a whisper, a memory she had stored in her subconscious. She told him as much, which made her father frown. “You’re avoiding the question. I’m dead; why are you still stealing? Look at what almost happened to you, Talia.” She shivered at this; she had missed the sound of his voice wrapped around her name.

“I think it’s karma, dad -”

“Darn tootin’, it’s karma!” he said immediately, frowning. “Maybe this fire was meant to knock some sense into that twisted head of yours.” "Hi, my name is Hector Solos, I'm Karma.

This is me taking back most of the things I've said about this whole Ho-Oh destiny thing. I offically love your verson of sentient, soul awakening fire. This Ho-Oh is cool.


“Nobody can live like this,” Amy gasped, grabbing at her cracked, bleeding hand which now resembled a cruel talon more than human appendage. Natalia nodded in agreement, a new feeling rising in her chest. Called it!


“What are we doing, Juliet?” who?


ogan watched him carefully. “You remind me a lot of her. She was like a second mother...better than my real one,” he admitted. It amazed him that Logan allowed something in him to open up so readily.Nevermind!


“Well, if Preston trusts you, I guess that’s good enough for now,” Chase said. It shouldn’t be, Natalia thought darkly. “Why is Alec so special, then?” he asked, almost involuntarily, his eyes suddenly locking onto her face. This needs broken up. Different thoughts, different people.


“Ah, well...see, when I say he kicked me out...I think he disbanded the group. Amy and Brodie were telling me as much in the caves,” Natalia said, glancing nervously at Preston. She knew he alone could catch her in a lie. “I think the Team finally realized how crazy the man’s plans were.” Keep digging, sistah...


Natalia contemplated telling the carefully fabricated story she had rehearsed an exhausting amount of times with Gabriel, or the complete truth. “I was in a...very complicated relationship, two years ago. His name was Shawn. He was beautiful...long, sandy hair, these real soulful eyes. Not too intelligent, but he loved me. I always said I was smart enough for both of us,” she said, smiling slightly, her deep brown eyes distant. “But he did love me. Or...I thought he did. He discovered, one day, what my face really looked like. He was...revolted. He couldn’t stand looking at me. He kicked me out, leaving me quite friendless. I’m not good at the whole friend thing,” she said quietly, clutching at her arm. “He told me, “You’re not worth loving.”” Chase whistled. “Yeah, he was real friendly. Well, I was out on the street. I was alone, very truly. That’s where I met Gabriel. I...I joined Team Skye because Gabriel was the only one who would have me,” she whispered. She moved her left knight three spaces. Well, mostly truth is a stepping stone, she thought.
And this.

Natalia contemplated telling the carefully fabricated story she had rehearsed an exhausting amount of times with Gabriel, or the complete truth. “I was in a...very complicated relationship, two years ago. His name was Shawn. He was beautiful...long, sandy hair, these real soulful eyes. Not too intelligent, but he loved me. I always said I was smart enough for both of us,” she said, smiling slightly, her deep brown eyes distant. “But he did love me. Or...I thought he did. He discovered, one day, what my face really looked like. He was...revolted. He couldn’t stand looking at me. He kicked me out, leaving me quite friendless. I’m not good at the whole friend thing,” she said quietly, clutching at her arm. “He told me, “You’re not worth loving.””

Chase whistled.

“Yeah, he was real friendly. Well, I was out on the street. I was alone, very truly. That’s where I met Gabriel. I...I joined Team Skye because Gabriel was the only one who would have me,” she whispered. She moved her left knight three spaces. Well, mostly truth is a stepping stone, she thought.


Chase moved a pawn forward. “You look fine to me,” he said simply.

Natalia stared at him. “Look at me!”

He obeyed, taking in her long, straight ruby hair, the way her angular face melted on the left side, the olive skin and arched eyebrows drooping like wax. The burns glowed faintly.

“I am looking at you,” he said. “And it’s your move.” Blind. Side.


But a third faction seemed to exist, a small percentage of people Ho-oh had been unsure about. They were left damaged, burnt horribly and disfigured People who still had a purpose in life.


Janine had been found burnt, all her beautiful violet hair destroyed. “He marked those who can still be saved,” Will said hollowly. Why did he torch the Daddy's Girl?


“Arceus’ Plates!” Will yelped, indicating to Preston. The two immediately hoisted the burnt aircraft off the old man’s broken lower body. Preston looked away in revulsion. The fire had done its number on Pryce; his lower body was essentially a ravaged charcoal mess, melted and twisted beyond hope of repair.
Somehow, I have to wonder how much was Ho-Oh and how much was fire+metal helicopter=microwave


He had long legs that ended in cruel black talons, and his face was elongated, ending in a pointed beak.
What I said earlier about Tracey...


“No!” Preston yelled.

“What?” asked the youth simultaneously..

“I’ll do it,” Natalia said quickly, getting up and grabbing a rock. “I’m so sorry,” she said, and Preston felt a blunt object club his head. Everything swam, his vision going dark. Good, he thought fleetingly, now I can see Carrie again. A Grass type with Spore, or Sleep Powder on Preston's belt, that will be used as a guerney, and she goes for the rock...

typical

Bulba the Great!
3rd January 2014, 11:09 AM
Just some fun I've been having while collecting and compiling information about my main cast: I've been picking underscoring from LOST (my absolute favorite show) that I feel fits each of the characters. Music is such a nice way to define the essence of a person, not capturing every single thing about them, but perhaps their most prevalent characteristics. Tell me if you think these work.

Consider:

Alec Gideon

http://i44.*******.com/11bpzpw.jpg

http://youtu.be/5z5B-zCfC6s

Tracey Morgan

http://i43.*******.com/2cdu88h.jpg

http://youtu.be/A_btA1bS53w

Chase Tang

http://i43.*******.com/2njjz7n.jpg

http://youtu.be/sdAf6Kk2ejQ

Logan Clements

http://i41.*******.com/208cnck.jpg

http://youtu.be/D-loc0eW_aQ

J.T. Preston

http://i41.*******.com/jb34wl.jpg

http://youtu.be/t0RqDWZnTUA

Gabriel Pahria

http://i42.*******.com/w0mlur.jpg

http://youtu.be/YAcajVxX4q4

Natalia Solos

http://i41.*******.com/v7f4nm.jpg

http://youtu.be/1xTtDxzcr-E

Chapter 14 should be ready in one or two days. It's all written...I just need to transcribe.

Bulba the Great!
10th January 2014, 1:13 PM
And wasn't that the Eruption caused by Tracy's Quilava to sacrifice himself for Ho-oh?

The very same. Only see, the Eruption sparked a much BIGGER fire...Ho-oh's Sacred Fire.

Or maybe Mt. Silver is a volcano. Just kidding, it was Tracy

Yes, this.

What a beautiful discription of the flames.

Why thank you! *blushing*

That explains. But they still have a change to become a better person, being not killed. That is what I think.

mAyBeEe

O, that Juliet. So cute. Logan reminds him of her. :3

Sweet in a very twisted way. I agree.

Very good. Alec doesn't look like a jerk now, but like someone who wants to pursue his dreams.

Good. Don't need our hero looking like a jerk!

A Froslass is warmer than this father is.

Ahahaha agreed. Roy Gideon will not be winning any father of the year awards.

I hope his dad gets burned. O, that doesn't sound nice from me. *crawls in the shame-corner*

Alas, simply being a dick does not mean one gets burnt, or else pretty much four people would escape unscathed.

Extra points for mentioning one of my favourite games. I wish I could play with him. My chessplaying is rusty however.

Mine too! I used to play all the time though. I got second place in my fifth grade tournament :P

Isn't it black and white? Or does the red and white combination represent the Pokéball?

Ding ding ding! Bingo.

And hereby I present Chase the award for accepting people who are treated as outcasts. Chase is a example for many people.

Chase is pretty cool in this regard.

Hm. Isn't it want, instead of wont? I'm not sure myself.

Actually, look up that word usage. It's a separate meaning from the word 'want'.

So many died O_O?

Yhhheah...Ho-oh is ruthless.

Well this chapter explained a lot and gave a good cliffhanger too. Please make Preston survive.

Oh, don't worry. I'm glad you're worried for his well-being, though.

Thanks for the review, Harzard!



My apologies on not getting back sooner, I have a story in my head, and 19 pages later, the main character has so far managed to go from her bedroom to the forest behind her house and back home with an implied stop at a supermarket... This would be why I stopped writing mmy last fic when it turned into a big hairy uncontrollable monster... And heads up, I will be asking you to take the time to flip through it for me!

Naturally!

Not fond of the "good side" I think you're trying to paint the "Pokemon world" as good vs. evil, but its too blunt. And I think the harder part is actually that I keep trying to read "On the other hand" since you are comparing the two sides of the war.

Hmm, fair point. I was trying to go from the sort-of 'narrator is biased from the Pokemon world side', but maybe that's too specific a lens.

Careful, Alec, you're starting to show actual concern...

He can do that, on occasion.

How do you NOT say that in a mean way?

Apparently, the way Brodie did it.

Why is Karen always the bad guy in these kinds of stories?

Dude, just look at her!

Props by the way on the sacrifice, I get hesitant about such setups but you really executed it well. I was afraid that Ho-Oh would be Tracey, but I'm glad it wasn't.

Hmm...yeah that'd be bizarre.

On the other hand, I fervently disapprove of Pokemonification of random concepts purely for the Pokemonification of it. Watership Down is purely a reference to a location. Make it about Buneary, if you must, but the book title really should stand. (Assuming you are talking about the right book...)

Who's to say, though, that Water-type Down had anything to do with its namesake? Could be a completely different story about Water types being taken down in battle :P

A man calling himself Pheonix now having employed possibly two people who've been touched by the Phoenix?

sYmBoLiSm

My initial first thought was "too much", but that thought was quickly replaced by another, that what if Arceus, or the Unown or someone has been seeding Preston's past with clues all along? I wonder, f Preston ever had a chance to connect the dots?

Veeeery interesting theory.

Lairon in Johto? Were there ever Aron in the FR/LG maps or is this just one of your transplants? I only ask because I'm thinking Ryhorn would've done the same gig

Artistic license. I like the Aron line better. So sue me.

That is not remotely close to the first thing I would be thinking if the person beside me, wehom I had previously thought of great respect for putting me before him, someone who was my only real hope of gettting out of this cave, was shot. Even someone who's been through a War, you bond to certain brothers and you can't just compartmentalize their deaths as part of the war the way anyone else dieing could be.

Yeah, but Logan REALLY meant it. 'That poor man' meant in the most possible empathy. :P (Logan just has an interesting outlook on life.)

That line is just begging to be written in a german dialogue. Dad always tossed that line around and I have no idea what its a reference to but 18 years of "Ve haff vays of making you talk" gets to ya.

Bahahahaha

Typical of these two, always seeing a fight where there shouldn't be one. ITS A STAMPEDE GENIUSES, GET OUT OF TEH WAY

Glover, I might have to insert you as a character in this story.

Actually dissapopinted here. For all the fuss and bother of "Oh no it evolved" I was hoping to see Pupitar's premiere battle to be more than coming into it halfway

Ah, but see, Alec didn't WANT to use Pupitar. Trust me, big things coming Pupitar's way.

"Hi, my name is Hector Solos, I'm Karma."

His college nickname.

This is me taking back most of the things I've said about this whole Ho-Oh destiny thing. I offically love your verson of sentient, soul awakening fire. This Ho-Oh is cool.

Well shucks! I think so, too.

People who still had a purpose in life.

Ding ding ding!

Why did he torch the Daddy's Girl?

Hmmm why DID he?!

Somehow, I have to wonder how much was Ho-Oh and how much was fire+metal helicopter=microwave

The world may never know.

A Grass type with Spore, or Sleep Powder on Preston's belt, that will be used as a guerney, and she goes for the rock...

typical

Look, Natalia goes for practicality.

Thanks Glover!

Bulba the Great!
10th January 2014, 1:26 PM
Trivia: This chapter was completed two weeks ago, but has been undergoing the most amount of editing I've ever done. I hope it's not completely illegible at this point. I've ripped my hair out a lot over this guy.

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Fourteen

-2009-

“Would you hold still?” Amy said to her partner impatiently, although she herself was wincing at the many bruises Natalia had inflicted on her in the vicious hand-to-hand combat they’d engaged in earlier. Embarrassed to have come off worse in a physical fight, she was barely able to contain her frustration, forcing calm upon herself as she gingerly dabbed at Brodie’s bleeding forehead. The two were still in the small chamber off the main tunnel where they had been interrogating their teammate.

“I will if you just -” he said through gritted teeth, jerking wildly at each touch of the ripped cloth, “-be more...gentle…” he managed.

Natalia had escaped, somehow, along with Preston and the blonde girl. Amy couldn’t shake the suspicion they’d left together. “She took the gun, too,” Brodie had moaned after regaining consciousness in a pool of his own blood.

“I didn’t think she had that much fight in her,” Amy said, her voice shaking dangerously, “she never struck me as the physical type.” Brodie gasped. “Oh shut up, you can’t hurt that much, it’s just a scratch,” she snapped. Brodie clamped his jaw shut. “What’s Gabriel going to say when we tell him?” she asked with sudden urgency.

“Do we have to talk to him?” Brodie asked after a pause. He looked quite nervous at the prospect of admitting failure to the man who had dangled him upside-down twenty feet off the ground just for forgetting to deliver a message.

“Of course we do,” Amy said impatiently, already producing her Poké Gear. Gabriel insisted he only be disturbed with calls for real, serious problems...this was definitely one of them. Amy raised her finger over the device, allowing it to hover over Gabriel’s number. Her hand was shaking slightly. “We have to call him,” she said, convincing herself just as much as her teammate. She pressed the call button. Brodie stared anxiously at the screen of the machine as it rang for their leader.

Gabriel’s face appeared, barely lit, looking rather hollowed and corpse-like with the shadowed relief thrown on his tight face. He looked irritated at the interruption. “Why are you calling me this time, Amy?” he said quietly. Brodie already regretted everything, despite the fact he himself had done very little that could be blamed for their failure. Gabriel just naturally had that effect on people.

“Gabriel...it’s Natalia. We intercepted her in the Purpleheart Tunnels. It seems she was tracking Alec Gideon independent of your orders.” Gabriel’s face betrayed no emotion. “We interrogated her, of course,” Amy proceeded with care, “until...we were interrupted. It was Joe Preston, that retired gym leader? We tortured his wife?”

“Yes, I remember,” Gabriel said, no change in his tone, although somehow Brodie felt his blood run cold at the sound of the man’s silky voice. “Was he still with Alec?”

“No, it seems they were split up. And well, I tried to -”

“She tried to kill him,” Brodie offered helpfully. Amy hissed at him, her neck tightening, showing an angry vein pulsing below her delicate chin.

“You tried to...what?” Gabriel asked. A sudden outbreak of barking was heard off-screen on Gabriel’s end. “Deal with them,” he said, looking off-screen.

Amy frowned. “What was that?” she asked, her ice-blue lips pursing together.

“Don’t avoid my question,” Gabriel said, unphased. Amy brushed the perfectly-cut black fringe away from her eyes and glared at Brodie, who shrugged in defense. She bit her lip, thinking her answer over carefully. “Well…” Gabriel pressed. More barking and snarling off-screen. “I specifically said no deaths,” Gabriel said, his voice barely a whisper and yet causing Brodie to flinch as if he had yelled.

“Gabriel, the man was already injured. Honestly, why not? He’s just an obstacle at this point, a distraction -”

“Or a valuable tool,” Gabriel said, his gloved hand rising dismissively. “How many times do I need to remind you? It’s in our nature to manipulate. Humans are infinitely manipulative, but they cannot be -”

“Foolish if killed by a fool,” Amy finished, nodding. “Gabriel, why don’t you ever just talk like a real person?” But his words were always true, or had been up to this point. Gabriel stiffened at her words. Brodie’s jaw dropped in awe of her brashness.

“Find them and bring them to Ecruteak,” Gabriel said finally, glancing off to his left. “The plan is so close to fruition. Ascension day.” His face glowed eagerly.

“But Natalia, Gabriel, I think she’s with them -”

“Natalia is of no concern to me,” Gabriel said, his clear blue eyes seeming to pierce straight through the screen at his subordinates.

“Boss, you didn’t see her in action back there, she had me knocked out in two seconds flat,” Brodie said urgently.

Gabriel shot the lanky man a look of disgust. “I know her weaknesses,” he said simply. “I will use them to our advantage when the time comes.” He shot another eager look off-screen. “Natalia is exactly where we need her to be,” he promised. And then, before Amy could protest: “Get them to Ecruteak.” Without a second glance he terminated the link, leaving Amy and Brodie to puzzle over a blank screen.

“What were those noises that kept distracting him?” Brodie quipped. Amy stood, stretching her long limbs and shaking her head. “Could they have been Pokémon?”

“I don’t know. Probably. We can talk about it on the way,” Amy said, staring at her Poké Gear.

“On the way…?”

“They have at least a half day advantage on us,” Amy said steadily. “If we’re going to catch them, we need to leave now.”

…................................................. ....................................

“But the maps say…”

“The maps are wrong, Alec,” Chase snapped, pointing at the solid wall in front of the group. The stone glistened innocently in the flickering light provided by Houndoom’s Will-o-Wisp. Alec had offered the use of his Magby again, but Magby seemed to disagree with the choice, yawning and shaking his misshapen head. “This is a non-negotiable solid wall, it in no way resembles Preston’s maps.” He indicated to the page in question, which showed the continuation of the tunnel to a winding, ascending path, ending in a chamber that led to the exit.

Chase pounded his fist against the slippery stone barrier in frustration, looking back at his companions: Alec, peering at Preston’s journal in confusion; Houndoom, pacing restlessly, her dark eyes staring balefully at Chase; Logan and Natalia leaning against Preston’s Sawsbuck, the older man carefully arranged and fixed to his Pokémon’s back. “The map’s done all it can do,” the bearded young man said, looking at Logan. She avoided his gaze.

“Well, we’ll have to find our own way out,” Natalia said.

“How do we do that? We’re deep underground and we’ve hit a dead end, if you haven’t noticed,” Alec said hotly.

“Look, I know a bad situation when I see one, and this man is going to die if we don’t get him out of here in the next six hours,” Natalia retorted.

Logan was sponging Preston’s forehead with a rag, attempting to stem the fever that threatened to consume his body. “Can we call someone?” she asked, no one person specifically coming to her mind.

Chase, however, began laughing. Alec stared at him, utterly bewildered.

“Chase...what’s so funny…” Logan asked slowly.

Chase continued laughing and held up his Poké Gear, pushing it toward the low ceiling, standing up on tip-toe. “If I can get the reception for it...I know exactly who to call.” He walked away from the wall, slowly searching for a reception area. “Aha!” He made a show of browsing his contacts for a specific name.

“Who could he be calling?” Natalia asked. Nobody answered her.

The Poké Gear rang four times before being interrupted by a male voice. “Chase! Oh thank Arceus, I was just about to try calling you again.” Alec, who was closest to Chase, could make out Will’s graceful torso on the video screen, his scarlet shirt and navy-blue vest unmistakable. “I kept calling for Preston, but his Poké Gear appears to be -”

“Broken,” Logan said immediately, leaving Natalia with Preston’s body so she could stand closer to Chase. “We...had an accident, it’s entirely shattered. Mine, too.”

“That’s unfortunate...hello, Logan, it’s nice to see you well,” the Champion said, smiling unevenly at the girl as she came into view. He seemed distressed and distracted. “Is Preston with you, then?” he asked, peering closer at the small screen. Logan and Chase both hesitated.

“He’s...well, we don’t know exactly how bad it is, but he’s hurt his leg...and he’s gone unconscious,” Chase said finally.

“But you do know how bad it is,” Natalia hissed from Sawsbuck’s side, her arms stretched protectively over Preston’s limp body.

“Who is that?” Will asked, but Natalia did not move forward, instead shrinking further into the shadows. Chase and Logan shrugged.

“Will, it is pretty bad,” Alec said, also stepping into the Poké Gear’s line of sight, his green eyes wide in the dim light.

The Champion did not seem happy with this development. He clasped his hands together, wringing them and muttering to himself. “This is a very bad time for anyone to be unavailable,” he said finally.

“What do you mean?” Logan asked, nonplussed. Will looked back at the screen, moving his mouth but not making noise.

“Will?” Chase asked, shaking the Poké Gear. The image flickered. “I’m losing reception,” the trainer said through gritted teeth. He held the device higher, smacking it in frustration.

“Where are you?” Will’s voice cut in through the faint static sounds now emanating from the machine.

“The Purpleheart Tunnels!” Alec said loudly.

“Okay...tunnels…” Will said, frowning and closing his eyes, muttering again, adjusting his glasses. “Okay. Chase? Keep Preston safe, please. We need him far too much to lose him. I’ll see you soon.” The Poké Gear shut off.

“See us soon?” Logan said. “He’s not coming to get us, is he?”

“Sounds like it,” Chase said, smiling slightly. He had forgotten the sense of hope Will’s presence inspired. Natalia did not seem so heartened by the news.

“We should make ourselves easier to find,” Logan said assertively.

“How?” Alec asked. The three stared at the blank stone wall, stumped. Chase opened his mouth to speak, frowned, and shook his head.

“Broadcast a homing signal from your Poké Gear.” Natalia said, stepping toward the ghostly light surrounding Houndoom. Alec and Logan looked coldly at her, but she ignored them, her face set.

“How...do I do that, exactly?” Chase asked.

Natalia took the gear in her small hands, showing Chase the big orange button at the top. A look of embarrassed comprehension crossed the young man’s face. “Does anyone have a ground-type Pokémon? Or one that can use dig?” she asked, handing the device back to him.

“I do,” Alec said slowly, taking a step away from the Team Skye member.

Natalia observed this protective movement sadly and nodded. “Use it to burrow up. Maybe it can reach the surface and take Will to us.”

“Why are you helping us?” Logan asked, her blue eyes scanning the girl suspiciously. Alec took a step closer to her.

“I have my reasons,” Natalia said, averting her gaze from Logan’s cold stare.

“It’s a good idea,” Chase said, he alone looking at the ruby-haired girl and acknowledging her like a human being. “Do you have any better ones?” he shot at his friends. Logan and Alec had no answer for this. “Then do as she says,” he said.

Logan looked imploringly at Alec, who bit his cheek and kicked at the packed earth floor. Chase lifted his Poké Gear and hit the emergency homing signal embedded in the phone, staring defiantly at Logan.

“Logan?” Alec asked.

“Do you want to be found? Will is probably going to arrest you, or something,” Logan said to Natalia.

“I know,” was the girl’s only response.

“Do it, Alec,” Logan said tersely. Alec reached for Pupitar’s Poké Ball. “I don’t understand you,” she said flatly, staring at the older girl, her eyes flickering over the stained white sundress.

“Don’t hurt yourself trying,” Natalia said, retreating back to Sawsbuck, laying a gentle hand on Preston. “It’s not possible to understand someone who doesn’t understand herself,” she said quietly.

…................................................. ....................................

-2005-

Chase moved his knight in final triumph. “Check. MATE,” he said, grinning.

Dr. Hume chuckled, shaking his head and reaching out, toppling his king over. “You got me,” he said, standing and turning to walk away.

“Don’t you want to play another?” Chase asked, reaching out instinctively. The older man strode behind his desk, taking out a folder and scribbling something on the front. “Guess not,” Chase said, packing the pieces away in disappointed defeat.

“Chase, I think it’s time you went home,” the doctor said, crossing to the front of his desk and leaning against it, holding the folder out to the fifteen-year-old.

Chase stared at it dumbly. “Really? I’m...you think I’m ready? I’m...better?” Dr. Hume chuckled, adjusting his large coat so it didn’t interfere with his legs as he took a seat at the edge of the table. “Why are you laughing?” Chase asked.

“Chase, nothing was wrong with you. All you were suffering from was temporary amnesia and shock. Now, look. You’re clearly remembering things! You’ve mastered the complicated game of chess.” Dr. Hume stroked his bushy white beard. Chase quite liked it; he was planning to grow one as soon as he was able. “You remember your family’s names?” he asked, peering at Chase over his square glasses.

“Mary, Rory, Jonathan,” Chase recited, picturing very clearly his mother, father, and brother.

“Excellent. Yes, I think it’s time we get you out of here,” the old man said, jumping from his desk and handing Chase his file. “Here’s all the records of our sessions. As a sign of faith. Just in case you need any assistance remembering! You have my number, yes?” Chase nodded. “Good. Not that I don’t believe you’re completely ready to take the world by storm, but just in case.” The doctor winked.

“Oh, this is going to rock!” Chase said, standing and pumping his fist. Dr. Hume smiled, turning to walk back to his desk. “Dr. Hume, um...if you don’t mind my asking...since I’m no longer a patient, really…” The doctor turned again, deciding just to plant himself in one place until Chase left the room. “What exactly happened to me? I know I remember everything, my past, my Pokémon, my family...but…” Chase touched his hair delicately; it outshone the doctor’s own thin hair in its colorlessness.

Dr. Hume shook his head, sighing. “Chase, when you were found, you were bruised, wounded, and unconscious...and also quite alone. If you can’t remember what happened to you...nobody can.” Chase sensed the man was not being entirely truthful with him, but he accepted the answer all the same. Something about the sad smile Chase gave him made the doctor cry out. “Ah! Yes! Before you go,” he said, reaching into his desk drawer, “these should help.” He offered a small bottle of pills to the boy.

Chase took them hesitantly, staring at the label. “Antidepressants?” he asked warily.

“They help the memory,” Dr. Hume said, smiling.

Chase did not entirely believe it, but he took them all the same, reaching out to shake the man’s hand. “You have my Pokémon and stuff?” the boy asked. “And don’t I have to sign some papers, or something?”

“Once you’ve packed everything,” Dr. Hume said, smiling. Chase nodded, turning to leave. “Oh, Chase? One final thing.”

“What?”

“Remember what I told you, two sessions ago? We were talking about your relationship to Kira, how you were worried she wasn’t going to love you enough, not like this.”

Chase nodded slowly. “And you told me, ‘You will always be searching for love. Don’t expect it from someone when it isn’t there.’”

Dr. Hume nodded, impressed. “And you worried your memory was getting worse! Just remember that, Chase. You’re a remarkable man, and when the right girl comes along...you’ll know it.” He smiled gently. “Close the door on your way out.”

…................................................. ....................................

Later that day…

“Mom, I’m free!” Chase said excitedly, looking at his Poké Gear. He was indeed out of the hospital, enjoying the bright almost-white sky of a warm summer day, the feeling of grass beneath his off-white trainers and the wind rustling his hair. The boy’s mother and father stared at him from their webcam, physically continents away from their son. A side-effect of being in a Kanto hospital: visitors from Hoenn were not often expected.

“Honey, I’m so relieved,” his mother said, his father shaking his head in agreement.

“Dr. Hume said you’re all set?” his father asked, his bald head flashing in the bright light of the Tang’s kitchen.

“Yes! I’ve already called Kira, I think we’re going to patch things up. I feel great,” Chase said, grinning. “Like, I could take on the world,” he continued, his mind racing with his newfound freedom to do things. “I could skydive! I could enter a Poké-race! I’m starving. I could eat a Ponyta.”

Mary Tang frowned. “You’re sure you’re okay?”

Chase shot her a goofy grin. “Yeah? Why?”

Rory agreed with his wife’s concern. “You seem...very cheerful,” he said, glancing uncertainly at his son’s soft features.

“Well, yeah! I’m gonna take on the world!” Chase shouted happily. “Hey, you know what?” he asked. His parents shook their heads, eyebrows raised. “I’m gonna call Will. Challenge him to a battle.”

His parents exchanged worried looks. “Will...of the Elite Four?” his mother asked.

“Yeah! Why not, I’m basically the greatest. Look at my track record!” Chase grinned again. “Look, I’m gonna do that now.” He went to hang up.

“No, no, Chase!” His mother reached out, concern leaving her face to be replaced by tender adoration.

“What is it, ma?” Chase asked, clearly anxious to call Will.

“It’s so rare we get to see your face,” Rory said, his expression softening as well.

“I love you guys!” Chase said, smiling at his parents. He waved. “Talk to you soon.” Before they could protest, he hung up. The boy stretched his long arms, squinting in the sunlight and turning to his Pokémon, who were blinking expectantly at him: Grovyle, Nidorino, Tyrogue, Absol, Banette, and Drowzee. “If we’re going to fight an Elite Four member, we’re going to need to train,” he said.

Grovyle raised a thin green arm, voicing concern.

“Oh, Arceus’ PLATES, you’re right! I need to call the guy first,” Chase said, laughing. His Pokémon exchanged worried glances, ones that were lost on their trainer.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Pupitar had eagerly eaten through the wall of the tunnel, presumably heading upward to find Will. Natalia was again re-dressing Preston’s leg, using her rudimentary medicinal skills as best as she could, leaving the three younger group members to sit in a huddle around Houndoom, who seemed to enjoy the attention, especially when Logan stroked her sweet spot just below her right ear. The Pokémon was showing definite signs of fatigue from such a prolonged use of Will-o-Wisp. Alec had offered Magby’s help again and Magby had refused again just as quickly.

“I wonder what Will wanted,” Logan said, scratching Houndoom’s ear. Nobody had an answer. “You know, Tracey’s parents had a Houndoom just like this,” she said.

Chase released an anguished yell and stood, stomping away from the light, toward Natalia.

“What’s his problem?” Alec asked.

Logan shook her head. “I don’t know.” She continued preening her Pokémon, watching Chase’s stooped figure.

“What happened?”

Logan looked at Alec, confused. “Happened...when? What?”

“You told me Tracey died, but never mentioned his family. How did they take it?” Logan froze. “You don’t have to tell me,” Alec said hastily.

“No, no, it’s just...Tracey’s parents died, about a year before he did. Maybe more. He visited them right before the end. He had siblings, too, they’ve gotta be...Arceus, Courtney might be six by now.” Logan shook her head, resuming her gentle, rhythmic strokes of Houndoom’s fur.

“I wonder how my parents would react, if I died,” Alec said.

Logan looked up sharply. “Why would you say something like that?” she asked, incredulous.

Alec shrugged. “Just wondering,” he said honestly.

Chase had reached Natalia’s side. “Need any help?” he asked.

She looked up at him, her brown eyes searching him for an ulterior motive. “I...I think I’ve got it under control,” she said.

“Where did you learn so much about...medicine stuff?” Chase asked.

Natalia laughed; something happened to her face when she laughed that made Chase’s stomach lurch pleasantly. Her eyes lit up and it seemed as if years of hardship lifted from the made-up face, exposing a radiant, youthful joy. “I wouldn’t say I know all that much about ‘medicine stuff’,” she said. Her face darkened as it settled back to neutral. “I worked in a lab, a long time ago. I picked up a thing or two about basic anatomy.”

“A lab? Well, geez, why didn’t you become a scientist, or engineer, or...something?” Chase glanced back at Logan and Alec; he felt Logan’s eyes drilling into him.

“If only,” Natalia said. She was still staring curiously at Chase. “Why did you come over here? Why not stay with your friends?”

“I needed to check on Preston,” Chase said shiftily, staring quickly at the older man, whose hollowed cheeks were glistening with sweat.

“He’s hanging on, bless him,” Natalia said. “He’s a fighter, this man.”

Chase nodded in agreement, leaning in closer to investigate; Natalia jerked back, breathing in sharply. “What’d I do?” Chase asked, bewildered.

Natalia hugged herself. “People who get that close to me only ever want to hurt me,” she said.

Chase looked at her for a long moment, his expression full of empathy, pity, and a hard emotion Natalia could not identify. The boy reached out, touching her unblemished cheek. She recoiled, but he reached forward, gently taking her cheek again. “Hasn’t anyone ever kissed you?”

Natalia did not move; she seemed trapped between a lie and a truth, her tongue caught. She was trembling but she did not look away. She held his gaze steadily, her eyes moving quickly back and forth, looking into him. For the absolute briefest moment, Chase’s eyes flickered in the direction of Logan and Alec, and then soft brown eyes met deep, cocoa-colored ones, and Chase leaned forward.

Several things happened at once: Chase and Natalia’s lips met and they pressed into one another; Logan, who had been watching, yelled out, because the Team Skye members from her time with Preston in the tunnels were lurking in the shadows behind Sawsbuck, gearing up to attack their teammate; and also the ceiling exploded in a beam of powerful orange-white light.

“What the...what?” Logan shrieked, shielding herself just in time. Debris flew everywhere; boulders, dust, shards of crystalline exotic iodes from the floor above. Sunlight streamed into the tunnel, hampered only by the giant silhouette of a Lugia. Will had arrived.

…................................................. ....................................

-2007-

“Tell me how you’re feeling, Logan.” The doctor Chase had recommended, Lionel Hume, was sitting across from the sixteen-year-old, whose robin’s-egg eyes seemed completely lost.

“Scared. Alone. I...alone. The thing is, doctor, I knew who I was with Tracey. He and I...got each other. I don’t know. I don’t know! I don’t know who I am anymore.”

The doctor took a note. “Well, we’re going to help figure that out. Tell me about your family, your home life,” he said, his voice calming in its own raspy way.

“Well, um, my mom and dad...were busy a lot, when I was a kid. Mom was always interested in my schoolwork, and she seemed very happy to hear I wanted to train Pokémon...Dad didn’t mind, I guess. He seemed confused as to why I didn’t have many other interests...no, like, favorite bands, or anything. Which wasn’t true, anyway.” She stared at the ceiling. Dr. Hume said nothing, simply writing furiously. “My favorite band was Quagsire 7,” she said absently.

“So you spend a lot of time on schoolwork?” Dr. Hume prompted.

Logan laughed hollowly. “No, not at all. Tracey and I would go out to the forest a lot, play with the local Pokémon...I spent more time with him than my parents,” she confessed.

“Of course.”

“I don’t want to forget him. I know that’s why I’m here. He’s dead, but he’s not gone,” Logan said firmly.

“Logan, of course we don’t want you to forget him. We just want to help you...remember. And appreciate your time with him. And then...ultimately...to let him go.”

…................................................. ....................................

Six months later…

“She’s better, but not entirely. At this point, I think it’s better she travel and get her mind off things than anything else,” Dr. Hume said, standing outside the hospital, giving Chase a quick up-to-date on his companion. “You’ll be okay with her?” he asked.

“Of course. More than okay,” Chase said.

Dr. Hume took in his former patient’s healing battle wounds, the white hair creeping back to its long, unkempt state from his military buzz cut. “Good. Excellent. Just give me two minutes more with her.” He retreated to the waiting area, where Logan awaited the doctor anxiously.

She stood up from the cushy blue chair by the door when he walked in. “Is Chase here?” she said eagerly.

“Yes, he’s waiting outside.” Dr. Hume said. She immediately went for the door. “Now, Logan, a final word?” She turned back to the older man. “It’s advisable you travel with Chase, at least for a while. He’s someone familiar, yes?” Logan nodded. “Good. Now remember what we talked about. It seems clear you will always need someone to care for. That’s ‘your thing’, right? Someone to pour yourself into, because you just have so many feelings in there!” He laughed uncomfortably, clearing his throat. “Chase may not be that person. It might not even be a person. Perhaps a Pokémon. They can be very therapeutic.”

Logan seemed to have zoned out, as she had heard all of this before. “Can I go?” she asked, looking outside.

Dr. Hume sighed. “Yes, of course. You have my number.” He opened the door for her. “Good day, young trainers,” he said, giving a final familiar wave to Logan and Chase before closing the door with a click.

Chase looked his old friend over, taking her in; her long curtains of blonde hair, red cheeks, and sky-blue eyes were just as familiar as ever. Logan seemed elated to see him; she greeted him with a long, passionate kiss. “Let’s run away,” she said, breaking away from the boy and grasping his jacket.

“I...hello yourself!” he said, stunned. What did they do to her? he wondered.

“I don’t like Kanto anymore,” Logan insisted, looking up at her friend. “Let’s go somewhere...exotic. Where we’ve never been.” She kissed him again.

“Um...wow, okay. Okay! Let’s go somewhere.” Chase glanced warily at the hospital. I hope they actually helped her, he thought, biting his cheek.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Alec surveyed the damage Will had created by ordering the Hyper Beam that blew a hole through the ceiling. Logan, Chase, and Natalia seemed fine, although the latter was skulking in the shadows. Preston remained prone on Sawsbuck’s broad back; the Pokémon looked quite shaken up, pawing the ground restlessly and throwing his magnificent head back, snorting. Houndoom’s light had extinguished, although the sun streaming through the Lugia-sized hole overhead rendered the added light unnecessary.

The wall broke open to Alec’s right; his Pupitar emerged, a triumphant look in her face at having succeeded in her task. “You did well,” he told his Pokémon, reaching out to stroke her cold gray shell. Pupitar looked at him, incredulous; she had not heard a compliment from her trainer for a long time, especially not since her evolution. Alec pulled out her Poké Ball. “Rest,” he said tersely, looking at Will, who was dismounting Lugia already, hurrying to check on his old friend.

“Tar…” Pupitar said quietly, allowing herself to reduce to a concentrated red beam of energy, shrinking back into the orb.

Alec simply stared in awe at Lugia; he had never seen it before. The oft-overshadowed kindred of Ho-oh, the rumor had always been that Ho-oh ruled the heavens while Lugia presided over the earth; so it had been until the creature met Will. The story went that the Psychic had proved so synchronized with the Pokémon that Lugia had forsaken its post in the Whirl Islands to remain close companions with the now-Champion of the Elite Four.

Lugia seemed to sense Alec’s wonder, slowly turning its head and giving him an appraising look, taking a step forward and puffing its chest, letting out a deep, earthy wail that pierced Alec’s heart, making him long to laugh and cry at the same time.

“Lugia…” the boy said, reaching out.

“Alec, move,” Will said tersely. He and Chase were carrying Preston’s body through the sea of dirt and rock coating the area. Logan was right behind, carrying two Poké Balls, presumably having just returned Sawsbuck and Houndoom. Natalia was still hanging on the periphery of the area. “Here’s the situation,” Will said, carefully fixing Preston across Lugia’s neck, “there’s been a meeting called together of the Official Pokémon League committee. Something ominous is occurring in Kanto, something we don’t entirely understand, but it sounds extremely dangerous. And we need Preston at the meeting.”

“I thought he retired?” Alec said, moving so he was aligned with Logan, off to Lugia’s left.

“Yes, well, it might be time he came out of retirement,” Will said, glancing around the cavern. “Who is that?” he asked Chase, pointing to Natalia. She was kneeling over two bodies Alec had not noticed before.

“She’s a member of Team Skye,” Logan said, her hand clamping around Alec’s. “She’s been traveling with us through the tunnels because Preston thought it was noble, or something.”

“She’s tried to kill me,” Alec said blankly.

Will squinted, trying to make out her face. “The one from the siege, from the gym?” the Psychic asked. Alec nodded. Will folded his arms.

“Well, look, Preston’s been unconscious, and she didn’t hurt us! She helped us!” Chase said. Logan shot him a look that very clearly indicated exactly how much she had seen before Will’s arrival.

“That’s true…” Will said slowly. “What’s she looking at? Hey, you there, what are you looking at?”

Natalia stood quickly, turning and putting her hands up. “Fellow teammates,” she said, pointing to the gray uniforms. “They must have tracked us through the tunnel.”

Logan alone seemed to register what this meant. “Did you knock them out...again?” she breathed.

Natalia shook her head, her eyes fixed quietly on Will. “No, only Amy. Brodie was already knocked out by the explosion.” She took a step forward. “Should I...come quietly, then?”

“Don’t arrest her,” Chase said quickly.

Will cocked his head. “Preston trusts you…” he mused.

“Chase!” Logan hissed, but Will seemed to have already decided.

“Come with us. But I’m not leaving anything to chance.” He stepped forward, producing from his belt a pair of handcuffs. “As Champion of this region, thus head of the police force, I must insist you wear these. But once Preston is revived, and that will be quickly,” he said, looking at his friend, a shadow crossing his face, “he will likely make a case for you.”

Natalia seemed to expect no less. She stepped forward with a look that almost seemed gratified, proffering her wrists. Will, surprised at how calm and willing she was, locked the cuffs around her arms. They hung off her. “You need a decent meal,” he said, smiling very slightly. Natalia did not smile.

“What about these two?” Logan asked. She and Alec were still looking apprehensively at Amy and Brodie.

“I’m afraid I don’t have room on Lugia’s back. Let’s just leave them here, I’m sure they won’t hurt anyone.” All eyes snapped to him, incredulous. “What, I’m kidding! Get a sense of humor,” Will said quickly, looking at Lugia, his eyes shining a deep crimson color.

“What the…?” Alec asked, startled.

“He’s a psychic, remember? He can communicate telepathically with his Pokémon,” Logan said patiently.

“Oh, right,” Alec said, his wonder at the Champion’s prowess renewed.

“Lugia will take all of us to Goldenrod. My Espeon will bring these two to Officer Jenny,” Will explained, already releasing his Pokémon and pulling out his Poké Gear to message the head of Goldenrod’s police branch.

Logan gasped with joy at seeing the Pokémon. “Your Espeon needs to meet Leafeon when we get to the city,” she said, beaming and petting the violet-colored lynx. Espeon purred, closing her pale eyes and cocking her head in pleasure.

“I’m sure she will,” Chase said impatiently. “Will, we need to go.”

“Of course. Everyone, climb on! There should be room on Lugia’s back...I’ve carried some of you before,” Will said, smiling at Logan and Chase. Espeon crossed to Amy and Brodie, glowing a bright saffron and extending the glow to the two bodies. In a flash, all three figures were gone.

Eagerly, Alec clambered onto the giant creature’s back first. Chase and Logan followed, Logan immediately sitting beside Alec on the plate-covered area just between the wings. Chase offered a hand to Natalia, who was having difficulty climbing with her hands bound.

“He kissed her,” Logan said in Alec’s ear.

The boy’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Right before Will arrived. I’m beginning to think you and I are the only ones she hasn’t tricked yet.”

Alec looked at Natalia, the girl’s ruby hair falling loosely across her olive-skinned face and bare shoulders. “She’s not a good person,” he said carefully.

“I know. But you are,” Logan said encouragingly, squeezing his hand. “And we’ll just stick together, you and me.”

“Forever and always,” Alec said, reading her mind. The two watched Natalia sit down unsteadily beside Chase.

Will climbed on last, checking to make sure Preston was secured. “Watch him. And her,” he said to Chase. Natalia lowered her eyes. “Alright, everyone. Hold on tight!” Lugia spread its gigantic wings and Alec gasped, his young face filled with amazement as the bird lifted off, leaving the earth it guarded behind.

…................................................. ....................................

-2008-

“Aaah! Congratulations!” Logan screamed, hugging Chase and jumping up and down. The trainer had just defeated his umpteenth opponent in the Unova League Championships, thus qualifying him to move on to the final four. “Two more battles, and you’re the winner,” she said, kissing him and feeling the stubble of a new beard sprouting on his face.

“Lucky break,” Chase said, grinning and stroking her long blonde hair.

“Lucky? You’ve worked hard to get this far,” Logan admonished, hitting him playfully. “If only Tracey could see you now,” she said proudly.

Chase nodded, pulling at the necklace around his neck. “He’s always with me,” he said softly.

“There’s our winner!” called a voice. Mary and Jonathan Tang had come to support Chase in the big tournament, flying all the way out to Unova despite Mary’s reluctance to travel. “I told your father if he didn’t come, he’d be missing out,” she said, pushing Logan aside so she could smother her son with kisses.

“Mom,” Chase protested, glancing around the enclosed waiting area; luckily, most people were still in the massive Vertress Conference stadium. Chase was the spitting image of his mother; both had soft features, gentle brown eyes and prominent, handsome noses. Jonathan took more after his father, his hair strawberry-blonde instead of black, although he, too, had inherited a large nose. He patted Chase on the back, laughing good-naturedly. “You’re smothering me!” Chase yelped.

Logan took this opportunity to slip away, glad to escape. Since the war, she had discovered a growing anxiety around crowds; the tournament was an absolute nightmare. Any chance to be alone was taken gladly by the teenager. She looked over her shoulder; Chase was too buried under congratulations to notice her disappearance.

“Good,” she said, breaking into a run through the tight blue corridor, desperate to breathe fresh air. Finally, sunlight glowed up ahead; the girl burst through the glass emergency exit, feeling warm summer breeze whip around her face.

Despite the hot and humid summer, not a day went by for Logan without pulling on Tracey’s deep blue cardigan, hugging it closely to herself. She breathed deeply, enjoying the liberation. The immediate area surrounding the massive silver stadium where the Unova League was being hosted was very well tended. Beautiful firs and oaks towered impressively on the opposite side of the fenced-in area. Through the branches, Logan could hear the twitter of Pidove and the hum of Cottonee and Leavanny. Unova contained so many Pokémon unique to its region; already she and Chase had captured quite a few, although Chase was insistent none would permanently join his team.

“I’ve already got everyone I need,” he’d said firmly.

Logan glanced around, alert; it seemed she was quite alone. She pulled out her Poké Gear, turning it on, her fingers hovering over the keyboard. Checking once more to be sure she was not being watched, she dialed the number she had seen advertised on the television last night. The screen remained blank; it seemed this number was audio-only. She placed the device to her ear.

“Hello, please hold for Madame Geller,” droned an electronic voice. Logan hopped the fence, holding the gear to her head in growing anticipation.

“Hello, may I ask who is this calling?” came a voice laced with a mysterious, untraceable accent.

“Logan Clements. You said in your ad on TV you can speak with the dead?”

“Madame Geller can commune with those passed beyond our world, it is true,” she said.

Logan’s heart leapt. “How much would I have to pay to speak to someone?” The line went dead. Logan frowned, looking at her gear; she was out of the receptive area. She had taken only a few steps into the forest; she could still see the stadium to her right. “Damn,” she uttered. “Someone needs to patch the reception on these things.” Suddenly, a wave of guilt hit her. After all the hard work Dr. Hume went through to prevent this, she thought.

Chase had heard her uttering Tracey’s name absently one too many times for comfort and given Logan a stern talking to last month. “The most important thing to remember is that he is gone,” Dr. Hume had pressed when Chase had insisted she call him. “Tracey is gone, Logan, nobody can reverse that.”

A mewing sound broke Logan from her thoughts. An Eevee limped out from under the trees, its right paw bleeding. “Oh, you poor thing!” Logan cried, reaching out to pick the tiny brown creature up.

“Eeeee!” it cried out, withdrawing clumsily; it seemed the damaged paw had been bitten, from the way the blood was matted and concentrated in spots.

“I won’t hurt you,” Logan promised, stepping forward again. The Pokémon’s large black eyes blinked at her warily, although the creature did not retreat further. It crouched, trembling, whimpering softly. “You poor thing,” Logan said, very slowly kneeling down in front of it.

The Eevee licked its paw, yelping at the pain. “May I?” Logan asked gently; Eevee flinched. “Shh, it’s okay,” she said softly, reaching slowly into her bag and pulling out a Full Heal. “This might help,” she said, offering the potion to the Pokémon.

Eevee’s ears flattened, its lips curling suspiciously. “Hey, hey, shh, it’s okay!” Logan said soothingly. The Pokémon hesitated; her voice seemed to be warming it up, at least enough to stop hissing. “I’ll take care of you,” the girl whispered. “Come on, little guy -” Eevee mewed. “Girl?” This was met with silence. “Girl,” Logan concluded, pushing the potion toward the creature. “It’s safe.” Eevee stuck her pink tongue out, carefully lapping at the liquid.

Dr. Hume’s voice echoed in her head: “You’ll need somebody to take care of.” She hadn’t understood this cryptic message until now. Eevee’s bright black eyes stared up at her, glistening with gratitude. Here is somebody I can take care of, she realized, her heart swelling.

Logan’s Poké Gear rang. Oh, now I have reception, she thought, pulling out the device. Chase’s number. She answered, the boy’s face pressed into the full screen.

“Logan! Where’d you go?” he cried. “The tournament isn’t gonna wait for you!”

The girl smiled. “Coming, Chase. Stop being such a worrywart.” She stood up, looking down at Eevee. “Oh, and I think I’m bringing a friend.” Eevee mewed.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Preston blinked slowly, clearing his blurry vision. There was a very bright light overhead; it took several more blinks to understand he was merely staring at a fluorescent hospital lamp. There were several forms in the small room with him, all blurred silhouettes to his weary eyes. It took him several moments to understand that his leg was no longer ailing him. Where before it had felt as if a knife had been lodged permanently in his shin, biting through his hamstrings, now his leg merely throbbed dully every few heartbeats, almost a memory of pain more than the actual sensation.

“Preston?” came an anxious voice. Preston winced; it had been a while since he’d experienced sound. He opened his eyes, struggling to see through the sleepy film of fluid from the tranquilizers. A form close by stepped suddenly closer to the bed. The man had long violet hair, horn-rimmed glasses, and very pale skin at the moment.

“Will!” Preston cried, exalted to see his old friend. He became very aware of his surroundings at this moment; he was in a hospital wing only meant to house one person; the room felt crowded with so many visitors. Preston counted five, and suddenly his tired face split into a smile. “Does this feel familiar to anyone?” he asked, pushing himself upright.

“Sorry?” Will asked, confused.

“Well, not too long ago, you and I were in a hospital room with these very same people,” the older man said, indicating Alec, Logan, Chase, and Natalia. “Although she wasn’t in handcuffs.” Preston frowned at this. “Why is she in handcuffs? You haven’t arrested Natalia?” he asked.

“Well, no,” Will said, “not exactly. I didn’t know whether we could trust her.”

“I think you can,” Preston said. He took Will’s hand very seriously. “Take the cuffs off her, for Ho-oh’s sake.”

Will obeyed this request; Natalia massaged her wrists. “How’s your leg?” she asked softly.

Preston smiled. “I think it’s better, thank you. Anybody feel like catching me up to speed?” Everybody looked at one another, not sure what to say. “Don’t all jump at once,” Preston said dryly.

“Well...um, your leg was pretty bad,” Alec said from the furthest point of the room; he and Logan were standing together. “Logan dressed it, and we...well, we tried -”

“Natalia helped,” Chase interrupted. Logan shot him a look. “She actually did most of it,” he finished.

“Yes, well,” Logan said. “And our Poké Gear was broken in the fall, so Chase used his to call Will -”

“And I came to pick you up immediately. Nurse Joy’s looked at your leg and patched it up pretty seamlessly. You may have a limp for a while, but the bone was reset, bonded, and the skin was regrown. The miracle of modern medicine,” Will finished, smiling.

Preston nodded, taking in the information and releasing a tired sigh. “I feel as if I’ve just run a marathon,” he said shakily, leaning his head back.

“You said you had something to ask Preston,” Chase reminded Will.

“Ah, yes. Well...Preston, if it isn’t too much to ask…”

Preston repositioned himself so he was sitting completely, his legs tucked under the sheets but everything else upright. “What is it?” he asked, sensing the trepidation in Will’s voice.

“Well...the Official League Council is meeting shortly in the Radio Tower, Joe, and...well, we need everyone present. It’s urgent, apparently, and we’d like it if you were there.”

“Will, I can’t -”

“Erika’s gone missing,” Will said. Chase and Logan started at this; they were both on friendly terms with the Elite Four member. “We need someone to sit in her stead at the meeting, someone who can be trusted. Please, Joe.” Will leaned forward imploringly.

Preston rubbed his stubbled cheeks, running his fingers through his graying hair and keeping his eyes fixed on Will. “I retired, Will. I’m too old for this, I came back for the war, but -”

“Pryce is twice your age; eighty-five and still going, Preston,” Will said abruptly. “I know you feel your time with us is past, but you have an obligation as a capable trainer and prominent presence in the community to help us when we need you.” He stood up for effect. “It’s not right to hide when we need you most,” he said steadily.

Preston looked at his old friend for a long moment without speaking, wheels turning in his head. “Alright,” he said finally. “One final time.” Will smiled. “I better get a hell of a sendoff,” Preston muttered, shaking his head. This is crazy, he told himself. J.T. Preston, what have you gotten yourself into?

…................................................. ....................................

Bulba the Great!
20th January 2014, 9:29 PM
As I've continued pinpointing my characters, charting out backstories, etc., I figured I would share with you the latest addition I've made to my chart...

If any of you are unfamiliar with the MBTI Chart, I highly recommend doing some research into it - some really fascinating stuff with lots to say about human nature, and honestly it really helps me because once I've nailed down the Myers-Briggs type for each of my characters, I know precisely how each will react to certain situations.

This is the Website with a rundown of the basics. (http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/)

Also I've added birthdays. Not as exciting, but.

SO:

Alec Gideon - B. July 27, 1996. ESFP
Chase Tang - B. May 6, 1990. ENFJ
Logan Clements - B. July 18, 1991. ISFP
J.T. Preston - B. February 25, 1960. INFJ
Natalia Solos - B. February 2, 1985. INFP
Gabriel Pahria - B. June 8, 1981. ESTJ

Chapter 15 is complete and I'm doing some minor edits. Hope you guys enjoy these next few chapters!

Bulba the Great!
27th January 2014, 7:42 PM
After a long wait (well, relatively long as of late), here is Chapter Fifteen!

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Fifteen

-2009-

Alec gazed up at the Goldenrod Radio Tower, remembering its architectural grandeur from his visit to the big city not two weeks earlier. It feels like a lifetime, he reflected, trying and failing to remember his life pre-Olivine. Since becoming aware of the vast importance of the Rainbow Wing to Gabriel’s mission, becoming aware of the fact he was hunted solely for possessing an item, his life had been chaos.

It felt as if he’d been strapped into a roller coaster; an image suddenly came to mind of himself sitting at the front of a long line of cars that were all the colors of the rainbow. Beside him sat Logan, behind him, Chase. Preston’s deep voice narrated the twists and turns of the coaster, and ever looming at the end of the track was a wide, dark tunnel with a tall facade - a grotesque face in the likeness of Gabriel, his mouth wide, ready to engulf the car. Natalia, of course, sat at the power box, finger poised to flip the switch connected to speed and direction at any point.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Logan asked, mistaking Alec’s reverie for admiration of the Radio Tower. The boy blinked, his sea-green eyes slowly re-focusing on reality. Preston and Will had led the group to the building which would play host to the Official Pokémon League Council as they discussed whatever danger was currently plaguing the continent.

“My friend Jesse used to work here,” Preston said, admiring the massive black spires of the tower itself, which rose up behind the building containing the offices and equipment essential to the maintenance of Johto’s popular audio programming. Night’s rest had done everyone good, but none moreso than the former gym leader. His face had regained some color; his cheeks looked less hollowed and the man’s deepset gray eyes now seemed to swim with energy and focus. He walked with a cane-assisted limp, but otherwise he seemed to have made a full recovery.

“The meeting’s on the top floor,” Will said from Preston’s left.

“I want to join in,” Alec said abruptly.

Preston gave him an appraising look. “Well, of course. We were going to include you whether you liked it or not, Alec.”

The boy blinked in surprise; this was not the response he’d expected. “Really?”

“Yes, of course. The council will want to talk to you about the Rainbow Wing, I expect,” Preston said, shifting his gaze to Will, who nodded.

“What about us?” Chase demanded, stepping forward.

Will surveyed the young man, along with Natalia and Logan. “These meetings are meant for League Officials only. I suppose I could make a case for you, Chase...all the help you lent me during the war. But Logan...and especially you,” he said to Natalia, “you’ll probably have to wait outside.”

“I’m coming in,” Chase said immediately, his mind made up before Will had even finished speaking. Logan looked incredulously at him.

“I want Logan to come in,” Alec said, reflecting on Natalia’s stressed insistence he keep those he trusted close.

“I should be allowed in,” Logan agreed, looking imploringly at Preston, sure that he at least would see reason.

“Why can’t they all come in?” Preston asked his friend. “It’s only fair.”

“Look, the council won’t approve, okay? The meeting shouldn’t take long,” he promised, choosing to look slightly to Logan’s left instead of directly at her.

Alec and Logan both began protesting, but Preston shook his head warningly. “It’s Will’s decision,” he said. He ran his fingers through his hair distractedly. “Alec, Natalia, can I have a word?”

Natalia, who had been standing a few lengths away from the group, looked surprised at her inclusion in Preston’s request. She nodded, convening with Alec and the tall man a safe distance from Will, Chase, and Logan.

Alec looked back at Logan, eyes wide in apology. The blonde girl’s face was set in a determined neutral, but he sensed deep hurt at her exclusion.

“What’s the matter?” Natalia asked Preston. Alec shifted his attention to the older man.

“Nothing is the matter, per se. I just wanted to warn both of you.” Natalia and Alec’s faces displayed identical expressions of confusion.

“About what?” Alec asked, alarmed.

“Well, Alec, when we go in there...I know this council. I worked with these people for fifteen years. They will want to influence your decision on what to do with the Rainbow Wing. They’ll want to take it, although Will and I both think, and will defend this, that the Wing is your family heirloom...your birthright. So, when we’re in there...don’t hesitate to defend yourself.”

“I won’t,” Alec said, taken aback.

Preston smiled, the rare smile that reached his eyes, and slapped Alec’s back. “Spoken like a man,” he said proudly. His face shifted back to neutral, regaining its grave solemnity. “Natalia, the council will also likely vote to have you arrested. Even Will, although at least he’s not supporting punishment, wants to exploit you for information about Gabriel.”

“I won’t give it, I’ll lie,” Natalia said automatically.

“I’m aware,” Preston said evenly.

“And that’s fine with you?” Alec asked, suspicion clouding his young face. What is this man thinking? he thought, scanning Preston’s face.

“Alec, Natalia has as much right to her secrets as you and I do. She’s done some bad things, and in her own time she will atone for them. But who are we to force her to do anything?”

Natalia looked gratefully at the graying hair and stubbled cheeks of this almost-stranger who believed in her more than anyone since her own father. “If they demand to question me…” she began, but Preston shook his head.

“You’re granted radio silence,” he promised. Alec shook his head, dumbfounded.

Will had called the head of security to let the group into the tower, leaving Logan and Chase to deal with one another, alone for the first time since entering the Purpleheart Tunnels.

“Why are you leaving me out here?” Logan asked, looking determinedly at the river that ran across the Goldenrod Plaza instead of at her old friend.

“I want to be in on the meeting. It’s not my fault you’re not invited,” Chase said shortly.

“You’re leaving me alone with her,” Logan hissed, turning her head to look at Natalia, the Team Skye member speaking conspiratorially with Preston and Alec.

“Look, Logan, you need to chill out about Natalia. I think Preston’s right about her...the girl’s not a saint, but -”

“Oh, of course you’d say that!” Logan burst out angrily.

Chase recoiled. “I...what?”

“Look, I saw you kiss her. I understand, I get it, I haven’t been here for you, I’ve been too caught up in my own problems, but seriously? Letting her suck you in with those big brown eyes and pouty lips? ‘Oh, I’m such a damaged soul,’ she’s a snake, Chase, a criminal who’s tried to kill Alec and who works for a man who kills for sport! How could you?” Logan’s voice was rising with emotion.

“What, you think I did it out of some sort of revenge?” Chase laughed humorlessly, shaking his head. “Look. I can’t get over you. I probably never will get over you. But it’s abundantly clear that you will never reciprocate feelings to the same level I have. What does that mean for me? Do I give up? Do I just stop hoping that one day, somebody or something will make me feel nearly the amount you do? I like her, okay? And unlike you, she shares many of my passions and interests! Natalia is a person. She’s intelligent and intuitive, and unlike you, she’s able to look outside of herself and care for other people. Her life is ten times worse than yours, but instead of complaining about it night and day, she devotes herself to - look, to helping us escape the tunnel, to taking care of Preston.” Chase was pacing now, clearly unloading years of frustration. “If anybody is being fooled here, Logan, it’s you, sucking yourself in with lies and judgments about other people that allow you to feel better about yourself.” Logan began to speak, but Chase plowed on, unstoppable. “Tracey’s dead, he’s been dead for two years, Logan. Two years is an awful long time to remain trapped in the past.” Logan’s eyes were swimming with angry tears.

Will returned from his call, oblivious to the confrontation of epic proportion taking place. “It’s time,” he called, indicating to Preston, Chase, and Alec. “They’re letting us in.”

“Give her a chance,” Chase muttered feebly, his rant cut short.

Logan was trembling, crossing and uncrossing her arms in effort to contain her frustration. “Can I say something?” she asked steadily.

“Go ahead,” Chase said.

“I’m sorry,” she said, completely sincere, unfolding her arms and holding them out to Chase. He cocked his head in surprise, accepting the embrace and holding onto her a moment longer than was necessary, allowing her to bury her head in the crook of his neck, as she always did when they were dating. Logan sniffed, pulling away and placing her hands on Chase’s chest. She looked at Natalia. “I...I’m not giving her a chance, Chase. I can’t. But I am sorry, for everything I’ve ever done to hurt you.”

Chase nodded. “Okay.” He walked away without further comment, joining Preston, Alec, and Will at the glass doors to the tower.

“Will you be alright?” Preston asked, concerned, looking at Natalia and Logan.

“We’ll be fine,” Natalia assured, not moving any closer to Logan.

“Yeah. We can check out the National Park, Alec says it’s nice!” Logan said with a false cheerfulness.

“Good. Take your time,” Preston said, smiling gently. The Radio Tower doors opened smoothly.

“Enjoy the meeting!” Logan said. She and Alec joined eyes. Be careful, she thought silently. Alec seemed to hear her, nodding and smiling at her reassuringly. He waved and then the men were gone, the doors shutting behind them.

“Shall we?” Natalia asked after a long silence.

Logan looked at the girl’s carefully concealed burns and limp white dress, the cocoa colored eyes full of pain and deceit. “Let’s do this,” she said resignedly. The two began walking steadily away from the tower, neither girl looking at the other, shut completely in their own worlds.

…................................................. ....................................

-1989-

“Alright, then, sir. You ready to meet the lot?” The man speaking was Olivine’s current gym leader, Eddard, who was turning fifty-three in August and gearing up for retirement. J.T., who had been Eddard’s apprentice for some time now, was preparing to be sworn in as the city’s next gym leader. His nerves had rendered him quite pale, but otherwise the young man looked strikingly like his mentor at the moment - he had grown his dark brown hair long and allowed stubble to coat his strong jaw in an effort to impress the older man.

“Ready,” J.T. said, his broad shoulders tense and heavy brow furrowed.

Eddard opened the doors into the Olivine Meeting House, where the full force of the Tohjo branch of the Pokémon League Council was congregated. As was tradition, all were seated in a Poké Ball-style formation - a circle of simple chairs, twenty-one in all, with one stool situated in the center for the Champion to occupy. To Preston’s left were seated all the Kanto gym leaders; to his right, the Johto. The four corners of the circle were filled by Elite Four members Bruno, Agatha, Lorelei, and Lance.

The room was rather warm, which J.T. found comforting - he was more than slightly intimidated standing in a room full of legends. Eddard had done his best to prepare his successor for this moment, but it was much easier learning about the Tohjo hierarchy than it was occupying it.

“Eddard!” a friendly voice cried. All side conversations ceased as J.T. felt twenty pairs of eyes turn toward the pair representing Olivine. The friendly greeting had come from Willow, the Azalea Town gym leader. She was an elegant older woman with cropped gray hair, possibly the oldest figure in the room, although Agatha could likely contest the title.

“It’s about time,” said a spectacled man J.T. knew to be named Emerson. “Talk about ‘fashionably late’.”

“We hit traffic,” Eddard said, which evoked hearty chuckles from many people, especially a portly man J.T. recognized as Chuck. The Olivine Gym was two blocks away from the meeting house and it took at most two minutes to travel from one place to the other.

“Is this the boy?” asked a stooped, balding man clutching a cane - Pryce, the Mahogany Town leader.

“He’s beautiful,” cooed Cresta, the Cerulean leader famous for her polygamous lifestyle.

“I’m twenty-nine...” Preston said to Pryce, indignant at being called a boy.

“Well isn’t he wonderful,” Emerson said dryly.

“Can we get a move-on?” asked a silver-haired pretty woman J.T. knew as Ecruteak’s new leader, Karen.

“Sit down, Eddard,” said a grave voice. Champion Theon, who had been lurking peripherally outside the circle, suddenly crossed to the center of the gray room, indicating to Eddard’s seat between Pryce and Chuck.

J.T. averted his eyes reverently; Theon was known through the land as the most powerful and ruthless trainer in three generations. Eddard squeezed J.T’s shoulder, leaving his apprentice and seating himself easily among his peers. J.T. felt very alien, feeling the most important figures in Tohjo giving him a full evaluation. I should have dressed better, he thought, watching Emerson’s eyes linger on his carelessly cuffed sleeves.

Theon seated himself, crossing his legs and looking at J.T. appraisingly. The man had not moved two steps from the door; it seemed his legs were frozen. There was no chair for him, J.T. noticed, which only increased his anxiety. “Well, come into the circle, then,” Theon urged.

J.T. took a deep breath, closing the door behind him and moving slowly into the circle, his feet dragging as if bound by a String Shot. He knew everyone was watching, some more fondly than others - he didn’t think Emerson was capable of smiling. The walk felt treacherously long, although by the time he reached Theon’s seat in the center, he couldn’t have taken more than a dozen steps.

“Is this the only reason we’re here?” asked a loud voice - Sansa, the Celadon Gym Leader, was well-known for permanent ear damage caused in infancy by a Loudred.

“Shh,” warned Dogen, the fighting guru of Saffron City, staring intently at Theon’s steely gaze.

Theon seemed to be making a full appraisal of the replacement Eddard was offering. “Remind me your credentials, Joseph?” It was clear he knew them quite well; it seemed he was testing J.T.’s awareness of his own ability.

“Winner of four World Championships, sir. Johto, Kanto, Johto again, and Sinnoh.”

“Oh, I remember you!” said a dark-skinned man with small eyes - Flint of Pewter City.

“Yes, yes, J.T., right?” asked Claire the dragon tamer. J.T. nodded, grateful at the woman’s warmth. She smiled encouragingly.

“He certainly looks different with that hair,” Cresta said approvingly to Dogen.

“You will, of course, need to sign all the proper forms and decide on the type of Pokémon you wish to specialize in before we make this official,” said Theon slowly. “He has completed his apprenticeship with you, right?” he asked Eddard.

The Olivine Gym Leader nodded, smiling. “With flying colors,” he said proudly.

“Very well. He’ll do nicely, I think,” Theon said, allowing a rare smile. “What type were you considering for your focus, Joseph? Will you continue your master’s excellent work with Ground types?”

“Well, sir, I wanted to train Normal types,” J.T. said, locking eyes with Norman, the Goldenrod Gym Leader. “But seeing as Johto already has a gym with that specialty, I think I might…”

“Well, that’s nonsense,” Theon said dismissively. “Train Normal types and don’t apologize. We can have two gyms of that nature. I believe you’re considering moving to Hoenn soon, anyway, isn’t that right?” he asked the blue-haired man.

“That’s right, Theon, sir,” Norman said respectfully.

“Then it isn’t an issue. Right, then, thank you very much. You may stay as we continue the meeting and observe the conduct of a standard council session. Alakazam, create a chair for this man,” Theon said, releasing the golden Pokémon and indicating the space between Eddard and Pryce, the latter of which moving his chair aside to make room.

“Thank you, sir, so much,” J.T. made to bow to the four corners - standard fare in a meeting, Eddard had said, one bow to every Elite Four member, who in him or herself represented the four main elements of earth, air, water, and fire. This tradition was of course more significant when the Elite Four had actually conformed to Ground, Flying, Water, and Fire type-Pokémon, but it remained in practice out of respect to ancient ritual.

“Hold on,” said a quiet voice, a dark-haired man in a black suit whom J.T. identified as Giovanni of Viridian. “He hasn’t taken the oath.”

“Yes, yes, where’s your sense of honor, boy?” Emerson snapped.

“Oh shut up,” Claire said, rolling her eyes.

“Joseph?”

“J.T., sir, or Preston, if it pleases you,” J.T. said quickly.

“Preston, then,” Theon said, appropriating the one name J.T. would be referred to officially as a gym leader, “I’m sorry, son, it slipped my mind. The oath, please.”

J.T. swallowed. “Yes, of course, sir.” He felt his hand slide to his pocket, where he had the entire oath written on notecards. He glanced at Eddard, who nodded encouragingly.

“To this great tradition of our world, I pledge myself,” he recited, wracking his brain to recall the exact wording without resorting to cards. “I pledge to encourage and challenge trainers to become their best selves in this beautiful Pokémon-gifted paradise. To the good of the people and their safety, I pledge myself.” He ran his fingers through his thick hair, straining. Eddard mouthed ‘Arceus’. “To the trifecta of our deities - to Lugia, master of earth, Ho-oh, master of sky, and Arceus, master of all, I pledge myself. Fealty and honor are my priority. I, Joseph Thomas Preston, pledge myself to the Tohjo Pokémon League.” He bowed deeply to each member of the circle.

“You forgot the line about dignity,” Emerson said crossly.

“Let it GO,” said Claire sharply.

Theon shook his head at Emerson and slowly began clapping for J.T. The other league members joined in, politely applauding their newest member. Eddard beamed at his successor.

“Thank you, Preston. NOW you may sit.” Theon nodded at Alakazam, who conjured a chair from thin air with his spindly, clawed fingers. J.T. sat, thankful to remove himself from the spotlight. Eddard clapped him on the back. “Now, I open the floor to any announcements or complaints from Tohjo,” Theon said, business again as usual.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

Preston put a hand on Alec’s shoulder; the boy looked apprehensive. “Just stick to your guns if the Wing comes up,” he said, smiling. The men had reached the top floor and were standing outside the Radio Tower’s meeting room.

“I’ll be alright,” Alec promised, his dark eyebrows knitted together in determined stolidity.

“Well then. Are you ready to meet the lot?” Preston asked. Alec nodded. “Let’s go, then,” he said, looking to Will to bring them in.

“You have no idea how much I appreciate this, Joe,” Will said, putting a hand on the door. “If there’s anything I can do…”

“I’ll think of something,” Preston promised, smiling gently. He looked at Alec, whose hands were balled into fists, and was again forcibly reminded of himself at a younger, bolder age. “Let’s get this over with.”

Will opened the door, revealing a pure-gold room with a long table, twenty-five chairs set up along the perimeter, twelve on each side and one at the head of the table on the far side.

“Here’s the man of the hour,” Pryce called, although which of the four entering the room he was referring to was anyone’s guess. Preston surveyed the room, reflecting that the council had changed radically in the twenty years since he had been sworn in. The few that remained had aged tremendously - some showed it worse than others, Preston among the unlucky bunch, although Pryce and Blaine were possibly the worst offenders. How people like Claire and Surge retained their youth was beyond him.

“How are you all?” Will asked, taking his seat at the head of the table. There were many murmured, generally positive responses to the question; all eyes remained glued on Alec, Chase, and Preston.

Chase had just given a small cry of recognition; he had just laid eyes on Nikki, the new gym leader of Celadon City.

“Do you know her?” Preston asked.

Chase nodded vigorously. “She was Erika’s second-in-command back in the day. I didn’t realize she’d been promoted.” Nikki was a gorgeous young woman with long, silky dark hair, amber eyes and striking elegance; she was giving Chase a very curious look. “I may have asked her on a date once,” he admitted sheepishly to Alec.

“She’s hot,” was the boy’s response. Preston chuckled, shaking his head.

“Well? Are you going to introduce us?” Pryce asked.

“Where are my manners? Everyone, this is Alec Gideon. Mr. Rainbow Wing,” Will said. Whitney gave a nod of recognition; Jasmine leaned forward, putting her arms on the table. There were still red marks on her wrists where Gabriel had bound her last week. “And you all know Chase Tang. He was my lieutenant during the war.”

“Was he any good?” Surge barked, chewing his tobacco incessantly.

“The best,” Will said very seriously. “That’s why I brought him in.”

“Where’s Logan?” Nikki asked automatically.

“She’s, um...well, she’s outside somewhere,” Chase said hesitantly.

“Hm. We’ll catch up later, I guess,” Nikki said, her striking features darkening in vague disappointment. “Phoebe and I will take you guys out for lunch or something.” Phoebe was Nikki’s girlfriend; Chase had figured that out the hard way.

“Nice to see you back at the table, Preston,” Claire said, smiling at her old friend. “Well, if you were sitting at it,” she added.

“Yes, yes, sit down! Alec, let me introduce everyone,” Will said, standing and indicating to his left. “Here we have Koga and Bruno. Kanto Gym Leaders: The Harrisons from Pewter City - Forrest, Brock, and Flint. Misty, Cerulean City. This is Lieutenant Surge, head of the Vermilion Gym. Nikki representing Celadon City. Sabrina, from Saffron. This is Janine, Koga’s daughter, she’s been Fuchsia’s gym leader since her father moved up. Moving across the table,” Will said, his eyes twinkling as he shifted to the right, “this is Blaine for Cinnibar Island, and rounding out Kanto is Blue from Viridian City.” He took a deep breath. “Johto! This is Falkner, Violet City. Meet Bugsy, our youngest leader, he’s Azalea Town’s keeper. You have battled Whitney, Goldenrod’s very own. Morty, from Ecruteak.”

“Fun fact, Will and Morty were groomsmen at my wedding,” Preston whispered to Chase.

“...Jasmine, Preston’s own replacement. Chuck of Cianwood, Pryce of Mahogany, who is celebrating his sixty-fifth year as gym leader, and of course, Claire. Blackthorn’s proudest.” A woman with square glasses and a forbidding air cleared her throat. “Ah, and of course, Lorelei, recently re-integrated back into the council after an early retirement.”

“That was a mouthful,” Preston observed.

Will laughed, taking a sip of water and indicating to the one empty chair beside Lorelei. “This is supposed to be Erika’s spot. Today, Joe’s butt will have to do in her stead.” This elicited a few chortles. “Everyone, move down and around...yes, there, good. Preston and Alec, here, and Chase, you can sit across from them.” He indicated the three seats closest to him.

The men took their seats, Chase beside Nikki, Alec sandwiched between Preston and Claire.

“Hello,” the blue-haired woman said pleasantly.

“Hi,” said Alec, breathless. Preston chuckled; Alec seemed to be completely overwhelmed in the presence of so many celebrities.

“How much did Will pay you to be here, Preston?” Chuck asked, beaming heartily at his peer.

Preston shook his head amusedly. “No amount of money could get me back in this seat again,” he said firmly. “Although, I do miss the banquets,” he admitted.

“Joe is here because he wants to help,” Will said.

“Admit it, you miss us,” Morty said, drawing more laughter.

“All this excitement with Gabriel and Team Skye has forced me outside again,” Preston said carefully. “And that’s why we’re here, right?” The laughter stopped.

“Well...no, Joe, actually...no,” Will said slowly.

“But then why am I here?” Alec asked, bewildered.

“The Rainbow Wing is certainly an issue to be discussed,” Will said, “And maybe we should get to that first. Alec, could we see the Wing?”

Preston suddenly began laughing; many eyes turned to him in confusion.

“Is something funny, Preston?” Koga asked, crossing his thin arms and frowning.

“Well, ‘Wing’ sounds awfully like ‘ring’, doesn’t it?” Preston looked at Will, expecting the humor to strike his friend as well. “Old Professor Tolkien would get a kick out of this,” he said, his face falling as he realized he was alone in the joke. “Morty, you read Tolkien, right?” he asked. Morty shook his head.

“What are you talking about?” Bruno asked, perplexed.

“Oh, read a book, for Arceus’ sake,” Preston said crossly. He wished Emerson were still alive; since his death, the council had become increasingly pervaded by non-readers. “I’m bringing the book club back when this is all done,” he muttered.

“Anyway...Alec, the Rainbow Wing?” Will asked, shooting a furtive glance at his old friend before turning back to business. He moved his violet eyes to Alec, peering over the frames of his glasses.

Alec hesitated; his hands clutched his green bag protectively. The Wing was the one item he had to remind him of his grandfather, Preston remembered; the boy had told him it made him feel stronger knowing it was always with him. Chase kicked Alec’s shin under the table. “Ouch!” the boy cried out.

“What are you waiting for?” Chase asked.

“Remember what I said,” Preston whispered encouragingly.

Alec’s fingers trembled as he opened his bag, reaching deep down below the clothes and items, medicine and protein powder, to the hidden inside pocket at the bottom. The younger members of the council leaned forward, anticipation mounting; Forrest made a noise that sounded somewhat like a Swinub.

“We’re all friends here,” Will reminded gently.

Suddenly the Wing was held aloft; Alec seemed to have bitten the bullet, pulling it out quickly and proffering it so all the room could see. Many people gasped; Bugsy stood to see it better. Morty’s face was uncharacteristically alive, pulled back in intense interest.

The Wing was stunning; ‘Wing’, of course, being a misnomer, the item was in actuality a preserved feather, just one that had fallen to earth during Ho-oh’s cleansing all the thousands of years ago. Enclosed in a perfect transparent gem casing, the Wing shone with every color on the prism, the primary colors being scarlet and gold at the core. The feather seemed to glow, pulsating slightly with an otherworldly light.

“Arceus’ Plates…” Nikki breathed, transfixed. Brock and Whitney were crying slightly at its terrible beauty.

“Now I see why Gabriel wants it,” Chase said in awe.

“I want to keep it,” Alec said stubbornly, lowering the Wing so it was still visible, but held protectively to his body.

“Not a good idea,” Sabrina said immediately. “If Gabriel wants something, he won’t stop until he gets it.”

“Remember Jesse?” Morty said across the table to Will.

“Jesse?” Claire asked.

“It happened in this building,” Whitney said softly.

“Jesse was one of our very good friends, growing up,” Preston said levelly. “He worked as a security guard here. Gabriel, before being the official leader of Team Skye, was part of a small group of miscreants who almost all either were or are members of Skye. He came here to steal...something, I don’t know what,” he said, his eyes down, his voice catching.

“He killed two people, Jesse and his own brother, to get what he wanted,” Will finished. The council remained silent for a moment. “Alec, I know I told you it was your right to keep that Wing. But...from everything that’s happened to you in the name of secrecy...look at Joe’s leg! That girl you’ve been traveling with, the one that works with him, is a known criminal who’s been arrested twice! The Wing is dangerous and too many people want it.”

“Natalia’s been arrested?” Chase asked.

“Later,” Preston said quickly.

“Natalia? Solos? Skinny girl, red hair?” Jasmine asked, horrified. Chase nodded. “She’s the one that knocked me out and dragged me to the lighthouse. You’re traveling with her?”

Alec looked at Preston, who frowned, nodding slowly. “She’s proven herself trustworthy.”

“Trustworthy? Oh, Joseph,” Morty said, shaking his head. “I forgot how gullible you can be.”

“Gullible?” Preston repeated indignantly.

“How do you know she’s not still working for Gabriel?” Claire asked.

“Preston, she’s got those burns on her face,” Alec said urgently.

“Burns?” Will asked sharply. “She did...you’re right,” he said slowly, recalling the first time he’d laid eyes on the girl outside the Olivine Gym.

“Burns...like mine?” Pryce asked. “Or hers?” he continued, nodding at Janine.

“Possibly,” Preston said. “But that doesn’t mean anything.”

“She got those burns in a fire,” Chase said defensively.

“Ho-oh’s fire,” Nikki clarified darkly. “That proves it, then, she’s been marked corrupt by Ho-oh itself, she must be bad! What other proof do you need?”

“But what if she isn’t?” Preston asked, standing for emphasis. “What if those burns signify a deep importance, potential to do great acts of good? Lookat Pryce. Look at Janine! Maybe they were a little morally unsure before the war. But since being marked, they’ve become pinnacles of goodness and virtue.”

“They were never members of Team Skye,” Morty said quietly.

“Have her arrested. If she’s good, she’ll get time off for good behavior,” Blaine said fairly.

“But,” Preston began, but Morty stopped him.

“Joseph, what if Gabriel meant for her to join you? What if she’s part of his plan?

…................................................. ....................................

Natalia glanced to her left nervously; Houndoom bared her fangs menacingly, jowls quivering. Logan was walking on her other side, staring forward determinedly as the two made their way through the Goldenrod National Park. The park was stunning, surrounded on all sides by tall, well-tended trees, guarded carefully by unobtrusive but secure wire fencing. Sunlight streamed through the lime-green canopy, the beams of light occasionally broken by Ledyba and Hoppip fluttering about lazily. Great patches of dark forest-green grass reached up past Natalia’s ankles; thankfully, the tall grass was mowed down in sections so that trainers might cross through easier.

Logan had headphones stuffed into her ears, listening to music at an incredibly loud volume, so that Natalia could hear every pulse of the driving beat and strings that mixed beautifully with guitar - the signature of Quagsire 7.

“Who’s your favorite member?” she asked finally. Logan did not answer. “Of the band?” she asked, louder. A nearby Pidgey squawked angrily.

Logan looked determined to maintain her silence, but finally she pulled a bud out of her ear. “What?” she asked shortly.

“My favorite’s Adam,” Natalia said, smiling.

Logan stared at her. “You listen to Quagsire 7?”

Natalia nodded. “Mhm! My dad took me to one of their concerts when I was thirteen. Before he got sick. They’re pretty great,” she said, glad at the opportunity to speak freely without fear of crucifixion; Logan at least looked at her without a sneer now.

“Tracey and I went to one when I was seven. We had to go all the way to New-”

“-Bark Town?” Natalia asked. Logan nodded inquisitively. “August 1998? The Victory Tour?”

“Yes!” Logan said. “You too?” Natalia bobbed her head up and down, a smile spreading across her damaged face. “We must have been at the same one. That’s unbelievable. The power of music, huh?” She smiled too, impressed.

“Who’s Tracey?” Natalia asked innocently.

Logan’s smile shriveled; her face tightened and the familiar look of disgust returned to her face. “You don’t need to know that,” she said.

“Okay. Sorry.” Natalia felt her heart sink; she had been close to getting the answer, she could feel it. Give it time, she thought patiently. Logan had placed the earbud back, closing herself off. This is worse than jail, Natalia reflected, looking between Logan and Houndoom, her unassigned guard. At least in jail, you’re actually alone in the silence.

A Stantler came into view in front of them on the flower-strewn path, calmly grazing on some onion grass. Logan gasped. “Oh! Oh I’ve always wanted one of them! Gah he’s so cute!”

Natalia looked at the quadruped, taking in its handsome tawny fur and crooked horns. “Not exactly what I’d call cute…” she muttered.

Logan didn’t seem to hear her. She removed her earbuds, wrapping them around her newly-repaired Poké Gear and reaching for her belt. “Stantler are Normal type…” she said to herself, sighing and glancing at the Poké Balls around her waist. “Let’s see how this goes. Houndoom, watch Natalia.” She pulled a Great Ball from her belt and held it up. “Gurdurr, go!”

Houndoom paced circles around Natalia, who had taken a seat on a park bench, her dark brown eyes glittering with excitement. There was a certain thrill that came with any attempt at capture.

A gray humanoid creature emerged, one which Natalia had never seen before. It seemed rather formless, similar in appearance to the Machop line but softer, as though made of clay. Its face was offset rather strikingly by a large red nose, like a Tamato Berry. On its shoulder it carried a rigid metal beam which made for a very foreboding aura. It gritted its teeth, which were gray and coarse as cinder blocks.

“Gurdurr, Brick Break!” Logan called authoritatively. Gurdurr picked up its weapon with both hands, swung it lazily and effortlessly twice, and wound up. Stantler continued chewing, not bothering to move; it didn’t have to. Gurdurr’s attack was aimed at its trainer.

“Logan!” Natalia shouted, and Houndoom instantly bolted to her trainers’ side, barking angrily.

“Gurdurr, no!” Logan cried in exasperation.

Natalia pulled a Poké Ball from her dress pocket, getting up and running to Logan’s aide.

“Crobat, go!” The purple bat emerged excitedly, having been cooped up a little longer than was enjoyable. But Logan had already returned her Pokémon, sadly staring at the Great Ball. Stantler, annoyed by the noise, snorted and began a quick trot in the opposite direction.

“Crobat, Air Cutter!” Natalia called, but by the time the attack was released, the Stantler had run away, leaving Logan standing in forlorn silence. Houndoom nudged her head against Logan’s hand while maintaining firm eye contact with Natalia. “I’m sorry it got away,” she offered.

“It’s alright,” Logan said, returning Gurdurr’s ball to her belt. “I was stupid to try using my Gurdurr.”

“What was wrong with it?” Natalia asked.

“He doesn’t trust me as his trainer. Despite all my accomplishments, because I never completed a badge quest in Unova, where I caught him, I guess…to him, I’m nothing special.” Logan said the last three words with a certain reluctance.

Natalia returned Crobat to its Poké Ball with a gentle woosh and looked around. “Are there any landmarks you know of that we could hit -” But Logan was already pulling her earbuds back out. “Wait.” Logan complied. “Look, I know you don’t trust me -”

“Spot on,” Logan said.

“...but I want you to. I can help you with your Pokémon, let’s do a trust exercise, okay?” Natalia said tentatively.

“Like a game? I can’t stand games. What, like chess?”

“Not exactly. Look...I - I know what you’re going through, with your Gurdurr. My Crobat was the same way, for a long time. Can I...can I try something? It might increase your...compatibility.”

“I’ve tried everything, okay? Treats, massages, vitamins, battling…” Logan shook her head.

“Team-building games? Like the berry toss?”

Logan nodded again. “Everything.”

Natalia seemed emboldened by this word. “I promise you haven’t tried this. Building trust with a Pokémon...it’s not just about being qualified to guide it in battle. He had to believe you’re not holding anything back, that you’re just as dedicated to the cause as he is,” she said, echoing the words of Amy, who had taught her this lesson.

“I’m listening,” Logan said, unplugging her ears again.

“Do you have a Psychic Pokémon?” Natalia asked, thinking of Amy’s Xatu.

“I do, actually,” Logan said, her hand drifting hesitantly to her belt.

“That makes this easier. Does it know Psychic?” Logan nodded. “Okay. I’ll walk you through this...if you’d like.” Logan still seemed unsure. “I want to help,” Natalia insisted.

“I guess I just don’t know why,” Logan countered.

“Do you question everyone’s actions this much?”

“No, you’re special,” Logan said.

“Thank you,” Natalia said softly, bruised by the coldness of her words. “Look, I understand you think I’m still going to hurt Alec somehow. That I have some big master plan. But...I’m asking you to just let me help you with Gurdurr. If anything else, it helps pass the time.” Don’t get in too deep, Natalia, she warned herself.

Logan sighed, a deep, cleansing release, as if expelling a great amount of toxic air. “Alright. Let’s do this.” She released her Kirlia and Gurdurr, crossing her arms. “Work your magic.”

Natalia shivered. Gabriel had said these exact words to her not a week ago in reference to Alec.

…................................................. ....................................

-1998-

“I’m sure you’ve all noticed the empty seat in our circle,” Lance said, continuing his long strides around the room; although since becoming Champion he had adopted Theon’s ‘round table’ practice, he had gone a step further, gathering the council around a physical table. He had yet to sort out exactly where he himself was placed among the ranks, however, as his former spot in the circle was now occupied by Karen, who had been promoted from Gym Leader to Elite Four recently. Ecruteak had turned from Dark-type to Ghost in the transfer, and the new gym leader (Morty) was now lounging comfortably in the Ecruteak chair.

“Where’s Giovanni?” Willow asked, concerned. J.T. glanced around; indeed, the Viridian seat was unoccupied.

“Is he running late again?” Flint asked, shaking his head disapprovingly.

“That’s not the issue,” Lance said, and it was clear this worried him - sweat was glistening on his large forehead. “I’m afraid Giovanni has left the council...for good.”

J.T. frowned. “What are you talking about?” he asked, exchanging a worried look with Will, who was sitting next to him at the east point of the circle.

“We have on good word from Koga that Giovanni is the mastermind head of a criminal empire.” There was a ripple of heads turning and worried whispers from the council as all bodies turned to look to the Fuchsia City Gym Leader.

Koga crossed his arms, his stern expression unchanging. “I have eyes and ears in many places, as most of you know,” he said, his low voice barely raised but every word landing in the tense silence, all eyes glued on him. “Giovanni never kept it a secret he enjoyed power, and after our discovery he was smuggling goods from Silph last year, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Word is, he’s headed a group of peons calling themselves “Team Rocket”. An insider told me he is conspiring to capture your experiment, Blaine.” In unison, the group looked a Blaine, whose eyes widened in shock.

“Mewtwo? But it’s not amenable for training, we tried -”

“And now Giovanni will try again. This Team Rocket could be a real threat to us, and I think Theon would want -”

“Well Theon’s not here,” Lance said sharply.

Koga stopped himself, lowering his eyes to his fishnetted hands. “Apologies, Lance, sir.”

Will leaned in towards J.T. “I think Lance is in over his head, here,” he whispered. J.T. nodded, watching the Champion warily.

“In happier news, we have a newcomer to the council,” Claire said brightly, her intent of distraction clear.

“Oh, yes, how rude of me. You’re all, I’m sure, familiar with Brock, Flint’s oldest son,” Lance said, mopping his forehead with the corner of his black cape.

“Now hold on,” Emerson said, frowning.

“Yes, let’s continue talking doomsday,” Claire said dryly. Pryce seemed quite delighted at the prospect. “Welcome to the council, Brock, dear.”

“Thanks,” Brock said, smiling at the older woman. “I think you all know by now Dad and I will be sharing Gym Leader duties, so that Dad has time to get to know his other children,” he continued.

“How many is that, now?” Chuck boomed jocularly.

“Brock is the first of twelve,” Flint announced proudly, “with number thirteen on the way. Cheaper by the baker’s dozen,” he said, grinning.

“Now that’s how you raise a family,” Chuck said.

“Preston, you’re married to Carrie for what, three years now?” Emerson asked, peering over his small spectacles at J.T.

“Just about,” J.T. said, feeling the question coming already.

“When are you two going to get started?” Emerson asked.

“We...we don’t know,” J.T. said, his stomach lurching unhappily at the subject. It had been asked so many times, and always the same answer had to be given.

“You’d be a wonderful father, Preston,” Willow said kindly. Claire, Sabrina, and Erika voiced their support for this statement.

“Maybe one day,” he said, smiling a smile that did not reach his eyes. He raised his eyebrows, shaking his head. “I don’t know,” he said again.

“Team Rocket,” Pryce said, attempting to steer the conversation back into matters that interested him.

“Yes, yes,” Lance said, his posture going rigid as he began pacing again.

“Why don’t we take an interim?” Will suggested gently. This was met with much enthusiasm.

“Let’s do that,” Lance said, clearly relieved. “We’ll meet back here in ten minutes.”

Bulba the Great!
27th January 2014, 7:43 PM
And Part Two...since one post apparently was too long.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

“Break’s over, everyone,” Will said, poking his head into the recess chamber outside the Radio Tower’s conference room. He smiled and withdrew, allowing Pryce to wheel by in his chair.

“So, I am allowed to keep the Rainbow Wing, right?” Alec said once more as he and Preston began their way back into the meeting room.

“The council voted on it, thirteen to ten, you saw,” Preston repeated, smiling at Alec. “You can keep it. On the one condition -”

“No, I’m not sharing it with the members of the group for ‘safety’,” Alec said stubbornly.

“We’ll talk about it,” Preston said bracingly, settling down at his place near the head of the table. He looked around at the council still milling about; Chase and Nikki were chatting amiably, Claire kindly asking Alec about his Pokémon. The older man leaned toward the head of the table, where Will was frowning over a chapter of Mind Over Matter. “It’s really worth a read,” Preston said.

“Hm? What?” Will asked, marking his spot and looking up.

“The book I was talking about earlier. The Lord of the Rings. It’s a carry-over from the NeoEarth Renaissance.” Right before the Purge, a group of culturists from their side acquired a large amount of literature, art, and film from NeoEarth, so that they might learn how the other half lived. “The mythology alone is worth the time. I would have the book club read it, but seeing as it collapsed after the war -”

“We’ll talk about this later, Joe,” Will said, watching Misty and Brock take their seats and clearing his throat. “And we’re back!” he said brightly, giving Preston an apologetic look before turning his attention to the council. “Now we really have to address the actual reason we’ve convened today. Important as the Rainbow Wing issue was, the bigger problem is actually gaining momentum in Kanto. Janine?” He turned to Koga’s daughter, sitting and gesturing to her.

The girl shared Koga’s strong features; she was dressed in similar attire as her father, a loose-fitting full body suit with a hood pulled over her head. She stood, surveying the room. “Some of you may recall a time before the war with NeoEarth when one of the most prominent criminals in Kanto was a boy named Otenchi. He used the moniker ‘Blade’ often.” Chase and Nikki gasped, as did most of the leaders from Kanto. “He was presumed dead, killed by Ho-oh’s flames during the Purge, as he was absolutely silent after the war.”

“Isn’t that what happened?” Chase asked, his eyes wide.

“Unfortunately not. Much to my surprise, yesterday I was paid a visit at the Fuchsia Gym by a tall bald man with three scars across his face. Otenchi was radically changed by Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire, given the same physical disfiguration I was gifted.” She lowered the hood, revealing a bald scalp shining with angry red burns and welts. Alec winced; the burns looked identical to Natalia’s. “He and I had mixed in some criminal operations in his early days...most of you know my criminal record. He returned to Fuchsia, no doubt hoping he had re-found an ally in me now that we looked the same.”

“He’s alive?” Nikki asked, horrified.

Janine nodded. “And full of even more anger than before. He has joined forces with Domino, a surviving admin from the days of Team Rocket.”

“Rocket...I haven’t heard that name in a decade,” Preston said quietly.

“They’re recruiting, rather successfully, for a massive-scale project. What their ultimate goal is...I can’t say. But when I refused to join, he flared up in anger. He cut me,” she said, her hands touching her abdomen unconsciously. “He said nothing of their plans. He simply told me to fear for the citizens of Kanto.”

“That sounds like him,” Chase said grimly.

“I pose this question,” Will said, standing. “As Champion, it’s my absolute duty to look into this. Who will come with me in this investigation? Who will come with me to Kanto to drive Otenchi and Domino back, before it’s too late?”

Preston stood immediately; it took him a moment to realize Alec had, too. “What about Gabriel,” he said firmly. Alec clearly had the same question.

“Joe, Gabriel...really hasn’t done anything, in a while,” Bruno said, looking over Koga’s head at Preston. “Team Rocket coming back...now that is ominous.”

“But Team Skye is here! They’ve been back!” Preston said, incredulous.

“Rocket’s more dangerous,” Surge grunted.

“Joe, I would never dream of leaving Johto unprotected,” Will said evenly. “Why do you think you’re here?”

“What?” Preston asked blankly.

“You want Preston to take your place here,” Alec said, connecting the dots first.

Will nodded. “A temporary Champion title. Head of police force, etcetera. I wouldn’t trust anyone else as much as you to keep Johto safe,” he said to his old friend.

“That’s a great idea,” Morty said.

“It really is. Come on, Joe!” Claire agreed.

“My dad would be so pissed right now,” Falkner said, grinning; Emerson had never been good at hiding his animosity towards Preston.

“Look...Will, I can’t. I can’t do what you do! I don’t know how to make life or death decisions, I lead with what feels right, not what is right! I’m not a leader,” Preston said.

“I know, I know, you’re a ‘healer’,” Will said, rolling his eyes at his friend’s own words. “Kanto needs me right now, Joe. And Johto...I think Johto needs you.”

Preston looked at Alec. The boy seemed as unconvinced by Will’s words as he was.

“You’ve done it before,” Jasmine said.

“That was gym leader duties. Being in Will’s position...having everyone’s well-being in my hands!”

“I think he’s being selfish,” Pryce whispered to Blaine; everybody heard him.

“I’ll do it,” Morty said. Preston looked at his friend, surprised; Morty was normally very passive in situations like this. “If you’re going to be so stubborn, Joe, I’ll do it. It can’t be too tough, right? Plus, chances are if Gabriel attacks anywhere, it’ll be in my city. Ho-oh, the Tin Tower? Yeah, I’ll do it.”

Will looked hesitant. “Hm…”

“Why do we even need this? Aren’t you just going to pop over to Kanto real quick and do what you’ve always done?” Chase asked.

Will looked at Janine. The girl swallowed, shaking her head slightly. “I guess Janine doesn’t want to tell you the part she conveniently left out.” Will pulled off his horn-rimmed glasses, polishing them delicately.

“Will…” Lorelei said, looking unnerved by the leader’s hesitance.

“Apparently, Domino has learned how to control Mewtwo.”

…................................................. ....................................

“I sometimes worry that everyone hates the person I’ve become,” Logan said. Kirlia’s eyes glowed a bright turquoise, penetrating directly into her trainer’s mind, scanning it. Natalia had taught the trust method verbatim from Amy’s lesson: tell a truth, have a Pokémon scan your brain, and confirm it was honest. A back and forth for even half an hour went a long way in softening a Pokémon towards its trainer. Indeed, Gurdurr did seem warmer towards Logan, even after only ten minutes.

“I know that feeling,” Natalia said softly.

Logan looked at her, having forgotten the older girl was there. “Kirlia is basically acting as a lie detector,” she said slowly.

“Exactly,” Natalia said, nodding.

“Tell me a truth,” Logan demanded, turning Kirlia on Natalia.

The ruby-haired girl froze; she had not expected this. “I don’t think that’s necessary,” she said hastily.

“Yes, I think it is,” Logan said. “You want me to trust you? You gave me the system. I’m just using it. Tell me the truth. Kirlia will know.” Natalia stared, folding her hands together protectively. “Do you really want to help Alec?”

“Yes!” Natalia said emphatically. Kirlia moved the pink protrusions on her mint-green helmet, her eyes glowing again. The Pokémon nodded. Truth.

“Do you really hate Gabriel?”

“Yes,” Natalia said, venom in her voice. Truth.

Logan narrowed her eyes. “Did you say something to Chase to turn him against me?”

“Never!” Natalia said. Truth. “Look, I don’t like interrogation. Please? Gabriel did this to me. A lot. Can we at least take turns, or something?”

Logan tapped her foot, arms crossed. “Fine. But I’m going to keep asking you blunt questions.”

“Fair. Okay. Who was Tracey?”

Logan frowned. “Why does it matter so much to you? Tracey was...my other half.” Truth. “Are your burns from Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire?”

Natalia automatically touched her face, torn. “Yes,” she admitted finally. Truth. “Would you die for Tracey?”

“He did for me. So...yes. Arceus’ Plates, why are you asking me this? That’s my question.”

Natalia opened her mouth.

Logan’s Poké Gear rang. She pulled it out, looking down at the glossy new screen. “We aren’t done,” she said to Natalia, hitting the answer button. “Hello?” she said, turning the video chat on. Chase’s face appeared.

“Hey. We’re done,” he said, not looking her quite in the eye.

“Oh. Okay, cool. Meet us in the National Park?”

“Done,” Chase’s voice said behind her. He, Alec, Preston, Morty, Will, and Will’s Espeon were standing behind the girls, apparently having just teleported.

“Hi,” Logan said breathlessly, closing her Poké Gear. Gurdurr raised his steel beam in defense. “No, no, Gurdurr, it’s okay. These people are friends,” Logan told her Pokémon. Reluctantly, the red-nosed creature lowered his weapon.

“Since when does your Gurdurr listen to you?” Chase asked, surprised.

“Well...um, she helped,” Logan said, pointing reluctantly to Natalia, who had backed away slightly, afraid of the verdict the council had reached about her.

“Do you need to interrogate me?” the girl asked Will.

Preston shook his head. “Radio silence, remember?” he said, smiling.

“I really need to leave as soon as possible, Joe,” Will said hastily. “Not to rush you or anything, but...do you know what you’re doing yet?”

“Yeah, what are we doing?” Alec asked. “We don’t really need to go to Mahogany Town anymore.”

“But you are staying with us,” Preston said strictly. “That Wing only stays with you if you agree to keeping us as your guard.” Alec nodded glumly.

“Don’t look so thrilled,” Logan said. Chase snorted; the two locked eyes for a brief moment. Chase looked away.

“Natalia, however, is free to go,” Preston said kindly to the Team Skye member.

Natalia seemed at a complete loss. “Go where?” she asked, genuinely unsure.

Preston frowned. “Well...that’s up to you, isn’t it?” he said, scratching his stubbled gray cheek. “You must have someone to go to.” Natalia was silent.

“You could always come with us,” Chase offered.

“Yes, but come where?” Logan asked, pointing out the lack of decision made on that front.

“Morty, sir...could I challenge you to a gym battle?” Alec asked. “At the Ecruteak gym, right?” Natalia’s head snapped up quickly at this.

“Of course,” Morty said, pleased at the challenge. “Come to my humble abode,” he said, his smooth voice playful. Alec laughed, his fists clenching in excitement.

“Okay. That’s all sorted out. Good. Do you need me to take you guys?” Will asked, his need for action infectious.

“If you wouldn’t mind?” Preston asked.

“Why can’t Kirlia take us?” Morty asked, indicating Logan’s small humanoid Pokémon.

“She doesn’t know Teleport,” Logan said immediately, used to the question.

“Ah, yes,” Morty said.

“Let’s go, then!” Will said, putting a hand on Espeon’s head. Preston, Morty, Alec, Chase, and Logan gathered around Espeon, Logan hastily returning Gurdurr and Kirlia to their Poké Balls.

“Are you coming, Natalia?” Chase asked. Logan shot him a searching look.

“I don’t know…” Natalia said, pulling at her long red hair.

“Come with us, Natalia,” Preston said, extending a hand. “It would be our pleasure.”

Natalia felt tears before squeezing her eyes shut, stepping into the circle around Espeon.

“Ecruteak City,” Will reiterated to his Pokémon.

Preston took Natalia’s hand, squeezing it tight, smiling reassuringly at her. “You can trust me,” he said gently.

It’s not you I’m worried about, Natalia thought.

Espeon let out a shrill mew, glowing a pale scarlet and enveloping everyone, so that suddenly the only noise in the National Park was the hum of a passing Yanma.

…................................................. ....................................

Knightfall
8th February 2014, 8:38 PM
Well, I came into this story not knowing what to expect. I had seen this story on the forums for some time, yet I never was intrigued enough to read it until now. And my, my, what a story it is.

I’ll begin with a compilation of my thoughts of the story so far and then move on to a review of your latest chapter.

The story is great so far. Alec, as a main character, is well-rounded. He’s the hero in possession of an artifact that can help control Ho-oh, and he treats that fact with the respect it deserves. He knows that he’s likely to be in danger because of it. However, he has his drawbacks as well. He’s stubborn, often over-confident, and he’s still a kid for the most part. He has a ways to mature, but, these qualities, in my opinion, only add to the realism of the character.

Anyways, while I do like the way you choose to start out the story --a fast-paced action sequence in Olivine City. You do a good job at introducing the characters and the general conflicts, however, this leads into one issue I had with this story.

You are in a rare position to have a story that is one in a series, and naturally, the events and characters of the prior stories make an impact in this one. However, I have not read the stories that came before this, so that left me somewhat confused to see the terms “NeoEarth” and expecting me to know who Tracy was and the events around him right off the bat. I admit, I had a difficult time getting through those parts because I had little context to go on. That also extends to Team Skye and their purpose originally.

But! This is where your writing skills come into save the day. Over the course of a few chapters, I pieced together the general background info and was able to make sense of most of it. While I am still fuzzy on the exact reason why that whole conflict between NeoEarth and the Pokémon Earth took place, I now know enough to understand the scenes. Team Skye was a bit easier to figure out as their goals and backstory are plentiful in the text.

I do like how you format your chapters. Jumping back to the past multiple times a chapter was at first a bit frustrating to me as I didn’t know who these people were, but I grew to like them. The scenes going through the experiences that lead to Tracy’s death, Preston’s wife and their marriage and her eventual torture, and Natalie’s past and Ho-oh’s purge by fire are very well done and are sequenced in at the right moments. While some might tell you that having too many scenes per chapter creates for an unfocused atmosphere, you manage to keep the story’s focus.

So, moving onto the actual plot so far. Granted, I’ve not read many Trainer stories, but I know that the formula of giving a main character an artifact of power somehow, be it family heirloom (See Frodo from Lord of the Rings and of course, Alec) or finding it by chance (See, partner Pokémon from Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, and countless other heroes who find stuff) is one that’s tried and true. While it can easily be seen as cliché, you make it work well with Alec (And trust me, I’m a similar offender with my character. xD)

Basically, we have Team Skye, lead by the mysterious Gabriel, wanting to control Ho-oh. I assume their final goal is world/region domination of some sort, right? I don’t remember if they made their final intentions clear or not. The only way to control the god-like legendary bird is to possess the Rainbow Wing, which young Alec has because it’s a family heirloom. When said Team tries to ambush him at Olivine, they fail and Alec is assigned guardians while Skye’s tactics get more brutal and clever. At least, that’s how I see the basic plot outline so far. And, it’s good. Add in all the interesting characters and a healthy dose of background info for each and you’ve got yourself a promising story.

The chapters are well written and you know when to include the action when there’s been an ample amount of character development and dialogue. That’s one thing I really enjoy about this story: you always keep the plot moving in some way. Even though, technically, the characters haven’t ventured that far from Olivine (They got to the caves and then they spent a few chapters in there before getting rescued.) So, I suspect there’s still a lot more to this story than what I’ve seen so far. My opinion on the story so far is that I quite enjoy it.

Especially with the most recent developments in Chapter 15. So, let’s get rolling with that.

First off, I am pleased you opened with Alec’s thoughts. It’s good that you explored his confused thoughts a bit and sheds a bit more light on him. And then there’s Preston and Alec’s conversation. I’ve failed to mention so far how much I enjoy Preston as a character. You make his dialogue and behavior very organic. He fits the “older mentor” type perfectly, and even then he has very human flaws and tragic memories.

Now, I have my own theories on how the conflict with Natalia being in the group is going to go, but I’ll remain silent for now. I will say that you’ve done a great job in fleshing her character out to the point where I am not certain where her loyalty is cast. Between her and Preston, I’m not sure which character I enjoy reading more. Both of their pasts are equally emotional and you do an excellent job in making their current actions and personalities reflect their development.

Moving on. While I said I enjoyed the flashbacks of Preston’s past, I am really intrigued in how you display the League government. Seemingly every story has a different take on how the Pokémon League runs the region and how much power they have, and I like how you display yours. Despite how close Kanto and Johto are, I’ve never seen them (or their government) act so unified as you have them here. So yes, even though the council scenes weren’t all that exciting, I was genuinely intrigued in how their political system worked. It’s just my opinion and I am weird in that way in looking into what seems like background information, but it helps build the world in my eyes.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t read the previous installments, but Chase and Logan are the two least compelling characters for me. Granted, you flesh them out and develop them just as well as the others. Preston, Alec, and Natalie all seem to be made for this story. Their stories are fresh and while a lot are told in flashbacks, they contribute to the current action. However, Chase and Logan’s pasts, when they come up, are all about Tracy and the conflicts that happened in the past installments. That isolated me a bit from them, unfortunately. So, while I think they’re sound characters, I do not believe that they are a perfect fit here. It may be just me and my feelings towards them, but anyone who hasn’t read your past works might know what I am talking about here.

So now, the final parts of the chapter. It might be just me, but I feel that the sudden revelation that Team Rocket is apparently revived came out of nowhere. You don’t seem to build it up at all, unlike Team Skye. While the apparent threat of Mewtwo being controlled by one of their former admins is intriguing, I can’t help but feel that it was hastily put in. Perhaps if you had foreshadowed them more during the story I could see it as a valid and effective plot point. But for now, it just seems really sudden and just an excuse to split the League’s fighting power between two regions (If you did indeed foreshadow it and I’m just being forgetful, then I do apologize for misremembering.)

And, of course, the Lord of the Rings mentions were fun to read. Again, another reason why I enjoy Preston’s character. ^^

A small thing I noticed was that the Pokémon battles/action seemed surprisingly few for a story of this genre. Not that it’s a bad thing, no, not at all. It is actually very nice to see the human characters attempt to solve their own problems with seemingly minimal assistance from their partners. I understand that they are often included in scenes, but they seem to take a more passive role than straight out battling at every turn., which is nice to see. You’re exploring their uses beyond just that for battling (Alec’s Pupitar’s tunnelling, and Logan’s Kirlia’s powers being used to aid her and Natalie in getting to know each other better).

Well, it’s time for my final thoughts. Once again, I will say that I am very glad that I read this story. It takes a refreshingly new look at the first two regions in Pokémon and, in my opinion, gives them a history that I’d love to read more into. The characters, for the most part, are likeable and their human flaws only make them more relatable to the audience. The conflicts, even though not entirely defined yet, are exciting and make for excellent opportunities to develop them even further. Despite my earlier concerns about not understanding some of the history right off the bat, that is rectified as the narrative moves forward. The story is formatted well and had very few grammatical errors that I noted, and none that were particularly distracting.

I believe that about sums it up. A great story with a promising future. And I do plan on reading more (even if I might not always leave a review *sweatdrop*), you can count on that. Keep up the impressive work, Bulba! Any writer who can continue a fanfiction story-arc ten years after they first posted it honestly deserves some sort of award. That sort of dedication is what I wish for.

Knightfall signing off... ;005;

Pink Harzard
13th February 2014, 7:20 PM
Wow, the group has already problems with team Skye and now the Rockets return? It seems like things are getting more intense.
The use of Kirlia as a lie detector is pretty awesome. I like it.

Sidewinder
14th February 2014, 3:46 AM
Chapter 12


he knew the older man only wore the glasses during these regular book club meetings so that he might seem more academic

I'm glad you called on that. You'd be surprised at how many people actually do that lol


Ah, here: ‘And as breath left his lips, he felt his body broken, and one final thought crossed Kieran’s mind: I don’t understand.’ How does that not move you?” Desmond asked, and several others nodded sympathetically, J.T. among them.

That was really funny as well. Like they're nodding just to seem to be part of the group or because they think they're supposed to


its wings draped sadly around its violet body in the corner of the stony recess.

You may want to rephrase that sentence. How can wings be draped sadly? Read kinda odd to me


Logan shouted, “NO!” but not before the woman pulled the trigger. Logan slammed her eyes shut just in time, the last image burned in her brain Preston’s weary face frozen in disbelief. She heard the body hit the ground with a sickening crash.

Nice. Though I fear some miraculous intervention took place. Can't tell where you're going with this. Maybe death? Hmmm


Jesse asked, stroking his grand black mustache and chuckling heartily. He had been hitting J.T. with quips like this all weekend, poking fun at the fact that he had been a bachelor for thirty-five years

I liked that you touched on that bit as well. My groomsmen did the same thing before I got married haha


She looked resplendent,

****ing awesome word usage!


It just doesn’t sit right in our world.”

I felt like the usage of 'our world' was a bit too grand and epic given his panicked state. Might use 'here' instead. Reads better


Preston was lying prone, but she saw no signs of a bullet wound.

Knew it!


“I’m Dr. Hume

Referencing 'Lost' perhaps?


, Electivire, pumped his large meaty fists together and released a cry that was less deafening than the one that had caused the cave-in, although apparently far more lethal. Immediately the wild Pokémon scattered, all thoughts of attack put out of mind in desperation to escape the screeching noise emerging from the big yellow tiger-like form.

Wonderful description for Roar. Very eloquent, I really dug it

Chapter 13

One thing real quick. The breaks between stories which explore other time periods is getting really distracting. I'm struggling to keep up with the characters because its happening too often and too fast without something to trigger the flashbacks. I'm not saying examining the past is a bad thing, its actually a great way to explore character history, motivation, and plot points, but when you're doing it five to six times a chapter, it makes the reader struggle with the actual story (at least it does for me). I realize it's an easy thing to fall into, and I'm sure it might not seem to big to you, but you also know the story a hundred times better than we do, so you can flip thought these time periods and flashbacks with ease. But since we the readers are reading on a chapter by chapter basis with weeks sometimes in between updates, it makes it harder (again, at least for me) to make a real connection with the characters. Dig?


Of course. Like I’d forget that,”

The word being underlined threw me off a bit. You could italicize it and achieve the same effect


Natalia had one foot through the window but she pulled back to look as well. In unison, the gang gasped, swore, and shouted their shock, for the mountain seemed to be igniting.

I actually really love the NeoEarth bits. I guess they're using Napalm? Either way, Cool!


Her face was on fire, she felt the left side melting, twisting, blackening, as if coals were set in it, glowing eternally

I felt like eternally was an odd word choice there


You’re burnt,”

Wow, I love the almost casual disgust he has in his voice there. The paragraphs were she's describing the feeling is also very cleverly done. You did a great job on this


Mahogany Town because he’ll know what to do with my family heirloom?

There's that underlining again. For some reason it just irks me


“Juliet?” he called. “I can’t see!” Everything was red, white, and hot. It was too much for Alec’s thirteen-year-old body.

Very nicely put there as well. When it comes to descriptive feelings and visual points you're really maturing. I like it


“I was done with Team Skye. With Gabriel. All the awful things he’s done, I just...I feel bad for Alec -”

I don't buy that *coughfullofshitcough*


I am looking at you,” he said. “And it’s your move.

The way he did that was really cool. Looking past the obvious while acknowledging it at the same time. Loved it


Her assistant Nikki is prepared to take the Celadon Gym

Random thought...Is Nikki the name of one of the trainers in Celadon Gym, or is it a name you made up?

Chapter 14

One more quick thing before I start the review on this chapter. It has to do with your posting of pictures to give us a visual likeness of the characters. Basically, I feel like your characters would be served a bit better if you stopped doing it altogether. Mainly because when you put a face to a person you've been reading about, it can change them for you. If you just describe the characters a little more fully, readers will be able to form their own picture of what the character looks like. Especially when the pictures you put up are of famous actors, readers unconsciously channel their work into the visualization of the character and make new opinions on the characters based on the picture. For Example, I can't imagine Logan Lerhman doing half the **** that Alec has done lol. Food for thought


Brodie had moaned after regaining consciousness in a pool of his own blood.

Be aware of physiology. I see what you were getting at with that passage but a pool of blood from a person is a alarming amount of blood. Too much blood loss will lead to far worse problems than her just dabbing at his head. He may not have even be concious. Dig?


Gabriel said, no change in his tone, although somehow Brodie felt his blood run cold at the sound of the man’s silky voice.

Awesome sentence, I really liked it


Gabriel, why don’t you ever just talk like a real person?

That made me actually LOL


“Why are you helping us?” Logan asked, her blue eyes scanning the girl suspiciously. Alec took a step closer to her.

Exactly what I was thinking. Logan is quickly becoming my favorite character. Not only is she intelligent, but she seems to almost operate with a sixth sense


Chase said, laughing. His Pokémon exchanged worried glances, ones that were lost on their trainer.

I swear, Chase is probably the most oblivious person I've ever read lol


hampered only by the giant silhouette of a Lugia. Will had arrived.

omg now I'm jacked up


“Logan, of course we don’t want you to forget him. We just want to help you...remember. And appreciate your time with him. And then...ultimately...to let him go.”

I felt for Logan so much there. It really pulled on me emotionally. Wonderfully done


Pupitar looked at him, incredulous; she had not heard a compliment from her trainer for a long time, especially not since her evolution.

I'm still sore at Alec for the way he acted when Larvitar evolved. His reaction was almost personally insulting. Pupitar deserved that little moment. You made me hate him a little less lol


Lugia seemed to sense Alec’s wonder, slowly turning its head and giving him an appraising look, taking a step forward and puffing its chest, letting out a deep, earthy wail that pierced Alec’s heart, making him long to laugh and cry at the same time

Another beautiful sentence. I'm really enjoying these chapters. Nicely done


his young face filled with amazement as the bird lifted off

Your take on Lugia is different from other versions I've read and seen. I've always pictured it as more of a water dragon, like a powerful seahorse capable of flight. Your referring to her as a bird is an interesting take


“I retired, Will. I’m too old for this, I came back for the war, but -”

That seems like too much of an uncharacteristic cop-out for me from Preston. I mean, he's already involved, why would he object?

Chapter 15


“Well, Alec, when we go in there...I know this council. I worked with these people for fifteen years. They will want to influence your decision on what to do with the Rainbow Wing. They’ll want to take it, although Will and I both think, and will defend this, that the Wing is your family heirloom...your birthright. So, when we’re in there...don’t hesitate to defend yourself.”

I was wondering when something like that might happen. It wouldn't surprise me if someone got physical with Alec in order to try and grab it for themselves. Especially since every member of the council will have a different idea of what they want to do with it


Logan looked at the girl’s carefully concealed burns and limp white dress, the cocoa colored eyes full of pain and deceit

So I take it that Logan doesn't like her? haha


although Agatha could likely contest the title.

Haha nice

I liked the meeting of the council bit. It was not only very well written, but you did a good job showing hints of their personalities as well


“Well, ‘Wing’ sounds awfully like ‘ring’, doesn’t it?” Preston looked at Will, expecting the humor to strike his friend as well. “Old Professor Tolkien would get a kick out of this,” he said, his face falling as he realized he was alone in the joke. “Morty, you read Tolkien, right?” he asked. Morty shook his head.

“What are you talking about?” Bruno asked, perplexed.

“Oh, read a book, for Arceus’ sake,” Preston said crossly. He wished Emerson were still alive; since his death, the council had become increasingly pervaded by non-readers. “I’m bringing the book club back when this is all done,” he muttered.

I reread that like four times because it was so damn hilarious lol


“Joseph, what if Gabriel meant for her to join you? What if she’s part of his plan?

Finally some sense! Thank you Morty!


“He doesn’t trust me as his trainer. Despite all my accomplishments, because I never completed a badge quest in Unova, where I caught him, I guess…to him, I’m nothing special.” Logan said the last three words with a certain reluctance

In the games I know high level pokemon wont obey you without the right number of badges, but outright attacking their trainers, that's a lovely little twist


“You’d be a wonderful father, Preston,” Willow said kindly. Claire, Sabrina, and Erika voiced their support for this statement.

This seemed way too off base and random for me. WTF does it matter if he'd make a good father? They have much more important things to worry about. As important as they know this is, I doubt they would waste time on silly compliments when so much is at stake

Part 2


“The book I was talking about earlier. The Lord of the Rings. It’s a carry-over from the NeoEarth Renaissance.” Right before the Purge, a group of culturists from their side acquired a large amount of literature, art, and film from NeoEarth, so that they might learn how the other half lived. “The mythology alone is worth the time. I would have the book club read it, but seeing as it collapsed after the war -”

Lmao I am loving that he won't let this go haha. Very humorous


“Apparently, Domino has learned how to control Mewtwo.

Everyone is ****ed


Arceus’ Plates, why are you asking me this? That’s my question.

Be careful how often you use that particularly profound exclamation. It's a good one, but it seems like you're using it every chance you get


Chase s******ed; the two locked eyes for a brief moment. Chase looked away.

formatting mistake there


Espeon let out a shrill mew, glowing a pale scarlet and enveloping everyone, so that suddenly the only noise in the National Park was the hum of a passing Yanma.

Lovely way to end the chapter

Bulba the Great!
14th February 2014, 11:26 PM
The story is great so far. Alec, as a main character, is well-rounded. He’s the hero in possession of an artifact that can help control Ho-oh, and he treats that fact with the respect it deserves. He knows that he’s likely to be in danger because of it. However, he has his drawbacks as well. He’s stubborn, often over-confident, and he’s still a kid for the most part. He has a ways to mature, but, these qualities, in my opinion, only add to the realism of the character.

That's so lovely to hear. I'm glad that as a focal point for the story, you find Alec credible and not too cliche.

You are in a rare position to have a story that is one in a series, and naturally, the events and characters of the prior stories make an impact in this one. However, I have not read the stories that came before this, so that left me somewhat confused to see the terms “NeoEarth” and expecting me to know who Tracy was and the events around him right off the bat. I admit, I had a difficult time getting through those parts because I had little context to go on. That also extends to Team Skye and their purpose originally.

But! This is where your writing skills come into save the day. Over the course of a few chapters, I pieced together the general background info and was able to make sense of most of it. While I am still fuzzy on the exact reason why that whole conflict between NeoEarth and the Pokémon Earth took place, I now know enough to understand the scenes. Team Skye was a bit easier to figure out as their goals and backstory are plentiful in the text.

This is something I was struggling with. By writing in the same continuity as my previous stories, the first few chapters did indeed frontload a ton of information to readers. I'm glad you stuck it out and have become...I guess..oriented? For the rest of ze story.

Basically, we have Team Skye, lead by the mysterious Gabriel, wanting to control Ho-oh. I assume their final goal is world/region domination of some sort, right? I don’t remember if they made their final intentions clear or not.

Ahh, you noticed their clear intention has not been stated yet. I promise you, this is intentional. And it will become clear by Chapter 17.

The chapters are well written and you know when to include the action when there’s been an ample amount of character development and dialogue. That’s one thing I really enjoy about this story: you always keep the plot moving in some way. Even though, technically, the characters haven’t ventured that far from Olivine (They got to the caves and then they spent a few chapters in there before getting rescued.) So, I suspect there’s still a lot more to this story than what I’ve seen so far. My opinion on the story so far is that I quite enjoy it.

Yeah this is a story more driven by motivation and interaction than necessarily physical movement.

I’ve failed to mention so far how much I enjoy Preston as a character. You make his dialogue and behavior very organic. He fits the “older mentor” type perfectly, and even then he has very human flaws and tragic memories.

Thank goodness. Preston is my favorite character to write for. I try not to use the 'older sage' trope so often used in fiction (Dumbledore, Gandalf, Obi-Wan Kenobi, etc.) and sometimes fear that's all people will make of him. Because Preston is a guy with forty-nine years of experience, making him the wisest but also the most weathered man in the story.

Now, I have my own theories on how the conflict with Natalia being in the group is going to go, but I’ll remain silent for now. I will say that you’ve done a great job in fleshing her character out to the point where I am not certain where her loyalty is cast.

Oh, soon you will know. Veeery soon.

Between her and Preston, I’m not sure which character I enjoy reading more. Both of their pasts are equally emotional and you do an excellent job in making their current actions and personalities reflect their development.

If Preston is my favorite, Natalia is the character I am most personally invested in. She's wonderfully easy to write; something about her makes her stories literally just pour out of my (metaphorical) pen. (I actually write with a pencil).

Moving on. While I said I enjoyed the flashbacks of Preston’s past, I am really intrigued in how you display the League government. Seemingly every story has a different take on how the Pokémon League runs the region and how much power they have, and I like how you display yours. Despite how close Kanto and Johto are, I’ve never seen them (or their government) act so unified as you have them here. So yes, even though the council scenes weren’t all that exciting, I was genuinely intrigued in how their political system worked. It’s just my opinion and I am weird in that way in looking into what seems like background information, but it helps build the world in my eyes.

I'm sorry you didn't find the council scenes exciting, per se. While I know the council was an almost purely-expositional sequence, writing this chapter was the geekiest nerd period I think I've ever experienced. To figure out the precise ways the canon characters from the games interact with and protect the world they govern was just such a rush for me. I briefly introduced this council in 'Destined', so the idea has existed in my head for years, but it's certainly expanded and refined itself from those rough days of seventh grade past.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t read the previous installments, but Chase and Logan are the two least compelling characters for me. Granted, you flesh them out and develop them just as well as the others. Preston, Alec, and Natalie all seem to be made for this story. Their stories are fresh and while a lot are told in flashbacks, they contribute to the current action. However, Chase and Logan’s pasts, when they come up, are all about Tracy and the conflicts that happened in the past installments. That isolated me a bit from them, unfortunately. So, while I think they’re sound characters, I do not believe that they are a perfect fit here. It may be just me and my feelings towards them, but anyone who hasn’t read your past works might know what I am talking about here.

This is something I know I *should* be worried about, but honestly I'm not. The reader should be getting the sense, as one would if one were Alec or Preston or Natalia viewing Chase and Logan (especially Logan), that these are people who have grown tired of the world they live in, almost as if they are living arbitrarily in a world that has passed them by. My hope is that in the coming chapters you begin to sense Chase revitalizing, however.

So now, the final parts of the chapter. It might be just me, but I feel that the sudden revelation that Team Rocket is apparently revived came out of nowhere. You don’t seem to build it up at all, unlike Team Skye. While the apparent threat of Mewtwo being controlled by one of their former admins is intriguing, I can’t help but feel that it was hastily put in. Perhaps if you had foreshadowed them more during the story I could see it as a valid and effective plot point. But for now, it just seems really sudden and just an excuse to split the League’s fighting power between two regions (If you did indeed foreshadow it and I’m just being forgetful, then I do apologize for misremembering.)

Hmm. Perhaps a foreshadowing or two might have gone a long way. A disclaimer: Team Rocket is not important to the story of EAWF. The importance of the group is that they are a potent threat that has risen in Kanto, drawing Will away from Johto. His choice to bring most of his forces to Kanto may prove to be folly in the coming chapters...

And, of course, the Lord of the Rings mentions were fun to read. Again, another reason why I enjoy Preston’s character. ^^

The parallel was just screaming to be drawn.

A small thing I noticed was that the Pokémon battles/action seemed surprisingly few for a story of this genre. Not that it’s a bad thing, no, not at all. It is actually very nice to see the human characters attempt to solve their own problems with seemingly minimal assistance from their partners. I understand that they are often included in scenes, but they seem to take a more passive role than straight out battling at every turn., which is nice to see. You’re exploring their uses beyond just that for battling (Alec’s Pupitar’s tunnelling, and Logan’s Kirlia’s powers being used to aid her and Natalie in getting to know each other better).

This is a group of people not too drawn to battling. This world is one which encourages the trainer's life, but of the main group, only Alec is still super-pumped about using Pokemon as objects for battle (and unfortunately, he is pretty dismal at it >.>). Preston and Chase will battle when it's necessitated, and both are more than competent, but they have other baggage keeping them from being full-fledged battle machines. And Logan...her interest in battling for sport has waned. All members of the group do view Pokemon as very useful friends and companions, though, which is why I am exploring their other uses beyond simply "Pikachu, Thunderbolt!" every third sentence.

I believe that about sums it up. A great story with a promising future. And I do plan on reading more (even if I might not always leave a review *sweatdrop*), you can count on that. Keep up the impressive work, Bulba! Any writer who can continue a fanfiction story-arc ten years after they first posted it honestly deserves some sort of award. That sort of dedication is what I wish for.

And I have no doubt you will continue applying that dedication in coming years :)

Thanks for that wonderfully articulate review, Knightfall!


Wow, the group has already problems with team Skye and now the Rockets return? It seems like things are getting more intense.


You bet!

The use of Kirlia as a lie detector is pretty awesome. I like it.

Kirlia can be pretty awesome.

Thank you so much, Harzard!


Chapter 12

I'm glad you called on that. You'd be surprised at how many people actually do that lol

My cousin is one of the worst offenders :P

That was really funny as well. Like they're nodding just to seem to be part of the group or because they think they're supposed to

False academic-ism? If that's a word?

I liked that you touched on that bit as well. My groomsmen did the same thing before I got married haha

As they did to my older brother. Guys will be guys, I suppose.

Referencing 'Lost' perhaps?

Well, now that it's in the open, a sound-off to all the Lost references made that I can think of so far:

-Emerson is a nod to Michael Emerson, the fantastic Ben Linus
-The character name Ben Locke = Ben Linus/John Locke
-Alec's Juliet is described precisely as Juliet Burke
-There is a character named Desmond and a character named Dr. Hume
-The flashback formula you find so disorienting is a classic trope of Lost

There are lots of others as well, including Chapter 16, which I just finished and will be posting shortly.


Chapter 13

One thing real quick. The breaks between stories which explore other time periods is getting really distracting. I'm struggling to keep up with the characters because its happening too often and too fast without something to trigger the flashbacks. I'm not saying examining the past is a bad thing, its actually a great way to explore character history, motivation, and plot points, but when you're doing it five to six times a chapter, it makes the reader struggle with the actual story (at least it does for me). I realize it's an easy thing to fall into, and I'm sure it might not seem to big to you, but you also know the story a hundred times better than we do, so you can flip thought these time periods and flashbacks with ease. But since we the readers are reading on a chapter by chapter basis with weeks sometimes in between updates, it makes it harder (again, at least for me) to make a real connection with the characters. Dig?

This is so interesting and makes so much sense. At this point of writing, with only approximately three to four chapters left, I can only plead forgiveness and say "It's too broke to fix it now'. The flashbacks, I hope, are becoming a little more...connected? To the main story. This is a piece which is very, very influenced by memories. This will be apparent in the coming chapters.

The word being underlined threw me off a bit. You could italicize it and achieve the same effect

This is something I've actually stopped doing for the past three chapters or so, on your suggestion. Just an odd stylistic thing I never really gave second thought to.

I actually really love the NeoEarth bits. I guess they're using Napalm? Either way, Cool!

Nah, just some good old flames.

Wow, I love the almost casual disgust he has in his voice there. The paragraphs were she's describing the feeling is also very cleverly done. You did a great job on this

Thank you, good sir!

Very nicely put there as well. When it comes to descriptive feelings and visual points you're really maturing. I like it

That's so kind of you :)

I don't buy that *coughfullofshitcough*

You aren't alone.

The way he did that was really cool. Looking past the obvious while acknowledging it at the same time. Loved it

Chase can be pretty tolerant.

Random thought...Is Nikki the name of one of the trainers in Celadon Gym, or is it a name you made up?

Made 'er up. She was a character in 'Destined'

Chapter 14

One more quick thing before I start the review on this chapter. It has to do with your posting of pictures to give us a visual likeness of the characters. Basically, I feel like your characters would be served a bit better if you stopped doing it altogether. Mainly because when you put a face to a person you've been reading about, it can change them for you. If you just describe the characters a little more fully, readers will be able to form their own picture of what the character looks like. Especially when the pictures you put up are of famous actors, readers unconsciously channel their work into the visualization of the character and make new opinions on the characters based on the picture. For Example, I can't imagine Logan Lerhman doing half the **** that Alec has done lol. Food for thought

Hrmm, I completely get that. I think this is an aesthetic thing for me, going to school for theatre, any time we as actors read a piece we are encouraged to think of the characters we are playing as being embodied by other people so we might imitate their movements. So I sub-consciously write these characters with mannerisms of specific people in mind (that being said, I have yet to find any one person who I feel would amply play Natalia correctly.) I will cut that out, though. Apologies!

Be aware of physiology. I see what you were getting at with that passage but a pool of blood from a person is a alarming amount of blood. Too much blood loss will lead to far worse problems than her just dabbing at his head. He may not have even be concious. Dig?

Aaah, true. Is it obvious I am not a scientist? Hahaha

That made me actually LOL

Amy can be quite frank. And Gabriel likes to wax poetic.

Exactly what I was thinking. Logan is quickly becoming my favorite character. Not only is she intelligent, but she seems to almost operate with a sixth sense

Logan is certainly the 'no ********, please' character. I'm so glad you like her. She's a survivor - she's the only character who has existed in my head since 2004 when I first laid my thoughts on 'One of Many'.

I swear, Chase is probably the most oblivious person I've ever read lol

Hey, he was excited!

omg now I'm jacked up

Will tends to have that effect.

I felt for Logan so much there. It really pulled on me emotionally. Wonderfully done

This section was rough for me, so I'm glad the emotional payoff was satisfying for you.

I'm still sore at Alec for the way he acted when Larvitar evolved. His reaction was almost personally insulting. Pupitar deserved that little moment. You made me hate him a little less lol

Well that's good! Alec's got some flaws that he's trying to battle and overcome in a short span of time. He'll get there.

Your take on Lugia is different from other versions I've read and seen. I've always pictured it as more of a water dragon, like a powerful seahorse capable of flight. Your referring to her as a bird is an interesting take

Well, I mean...Lugia and Ho-oh...the Legendary Birds...right? Riiight? (Thinking of the second Pokemon movie, where Lugia was like...king of the Kanto Trio)

That seems like too much of an uncharacteristic cop-out for me from Preston. I mean, he's already involved, why would he object?

Preston ain't no leader. (Except, of course, a gym leader).

Chapter 15

So I take it that Logan doesn't like her? haha

To the max.

I liked the meeting of the council bit. It was not only very well written, but you did a good job showing hints of their personalities as well

The council as a collective is my favorite character.

I reread that like four times because it was so damn hilarious lol

Preston is personally offended by the illiteracy around him. How could he not speak up?

Finally some sense! Thank you Morty!

Morty the Ghost Guy: Speaking sense since 1998. (That's when G/S came out, right?)

In the games I know high level pokemon wont obey you without the right number of badges, but outright attacking their trainers, that's a lovely little twist

It only makes sense, in my head. They go outta control in the games.

This seemed way too off base and random for me. WTF does it matter if he'd make a good father? They have much more important things to worry about. As important as they know this is, I doubt they would waste time on silly compliments when so much is at stake

I wanted to highlight the human tendency to go on tangential topics of lighter value when something heavy happens. I guess it didn't work...>.>

Everyone is ****ed

Basically.

Be careful how often you use that particularly profound exclamation. It's a good one, but it seems like you're using it every chance you get

I use it in place of any time someone would say "Oh my god..." or "Jesus". Guess that reflects how often I use the lord's name in vain...



Thank you for that LONG review, Sidewinder! You da man!

Bulba the Great!
17th February 2014, 10:22 PM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Sixteen

-2009-

Teleporting was possibly the most bizarre sensation Alec had ever experienced. If he could have seen his body during the process, it seemed likely it would have more resembled jelly or plasma than flesh and blood; Espeon’s attack seemed to liquify its targets. The only good thing that could be said about the journey, Alec thought, was that it ended quickly and he didn’t vomit.

“I forgot how odd that felt,” Will muttered once the group re-materialized at the Pokémon Center in Ecruteak City. “Now I remember why I prefer flying.” He reached his hand out to help Alec, who had appeared on the soft semi-paved road in a very unflattering pile of limbs. Only Preston and Morty seemed familiar with the post-Teleport sensation, and they in turn were helping Chase, Logan, and Natalia regain their bearings.

“Welcome to Ecruteak!” Morty said once all were properly standing on two feet again, gesturing behind him with great pride in his home city.

“This place is gorgeous,” Logan breathed. Chase nodded, taking in the city’s color palate with relish - in stark opposition to the grand gold-and-silver color scheme that dominated Goldenrod, this city had a rich of-the-earth feel, resplendent with maroons and royal purple. The buildings seemed older, more robust; full of time and memories.

Towering above all other structures were the city’s historical sister towers: The Old Tower and the Tin Tower, the latter much newer and taller. The Old Tower had been re-baptized ‘The Burnt Tower’ when it mysteriously succumbed to Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire during the war; although still standing for the most part, it was off-limits to the city’s occupants until renovation could begin. Builders had been itching to get their hands on the structure for years before the war, but in its advanced state of decay, riddled with wild Pokémon and supposedly haunted, the site’s contractors chose to turn a blind eye to the inferior tower. They looked instead to the Tin Tower, which now boasted in its many tiers the largest shrine to Ho-oh in any region.

Alec viewed the building with contempt; it had been his grandfather and father, a family team who’d completed the Tin Tower’s construction, continuing the Gideon legacy of renown and splendor that Alec was expected to uphold.

“Can you give us a tour of the city?” Chase asked Morty eagerly. Logan nodded in excited agreement.

Preston cleared his throat. “I don’t know if we should waste more of Morty’s time than we have to; he’s just agreed to honorary Champion responsibilities, after all.”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” Morty said, waving Preston off. “Let’s send Will off properly, and then I’ll take you on a personal tour.” He turned to look at his violet-haired friend. “Is there anything you need from me? Or vice-versa? Before you leave.”

Will shook his head after some thought. “All the papers have been signed. The people turn to you only in a time of crisis.” The Champion looked at Preston for a brief moment, disappointment clouding his eyes. “Ah, well. I must be off! Kanto needs me!” The Psychic returned his Espeon to its Poké Ball, instead releasing Lugia. “Teleporting over long distances is dangerous,” he explained. “Plus I hate the sensation,” he repeated, smiling slightly at Alec, who moaned an agreement, and winking at Lugia. “You’re much better at getting me places,” he promised the Pokémon, who merely released a single melancholy note of response.

“You’ll be missed,” Preston said quietly, stepping forward and reaching a hand out for his friend.

“I’ll be rid of those Rockets before you know it,” Will said, taking his friend’s hand and shaking it vigorously. “I’ll have the brunt of the League Council behind me. Plus, I can be pretty awesome,” he said, grinning. Preston pulled him in and embraced his old friend.

“We can always count on Joe to be touchy-feely,” Morty said loudly, smirking at the two men’s prolonged embrace. “I think some other people would like to say goodbye.”

Will laughed and pulled away from Preston. “Is somebody jealous?” he teased, walking to Morty and grabbing his hand, shaking it crisply.

“How could anyone be jealous of you two? It’s only true love,” Morty mocked.

“I might remind you, I am the only one of us who ever married,” Preston said, his gray eyes twinkling in a rare full smile. It seemed to Alec suddenly the men were twenty again, joking and teasing without a care in the world.

Will turned to Chase and Logan, shaking each of their hands. “I leave Chase in your care,” he said solemnly to Logan, who smiled politely at the joke and looked at Chase, who seemed to have stiffened at this jest instead of laughing.

The Champion turned and walked to Alec, proffering his hand. “Keep that Wing safe,” he said gravely, nodding toward Alec’s bag.

“I will, I promise,” the boy said.

Will nodded and leapt nimbly onto Lugia’s long back. “Off we go, then!” he said, his eyes glowing scarlet, synchronizing with the elegant creature. “Call me if there’s a problem,” he said to Morty. His final words were directed at Preston: “I trust you.” And the two were off, climbing into the sky, a perfect pairing of trainer and Pokémon. Champion and deity, they lifted into the endless blue, wind blowing through Will’s long hair, until they were distant specks.

“He never said goodbye to you,” Chase said suddenly, looking at Natalia with pity.

The girl shrugged. “I didn’t expect him to,” she said quietly.

“Right, let’s begin the tour!” Morty said, breaking the slight uneasiness coming from Logan and Alec toward the Team Skye member. “Would anyone like to go inside the Pokémon Center?”

“I think everyone has seen a Pokémon Center at this point,” Preston pointed out. “First-timers to Ecruteak would be more interested in seeing the towers, Morty.”

“I figured as much,” Morty said, turning his gaze to the north and clapping his hands together. “Alright then! To the towers!”

“Wait!” Logan said; everyone looked at her, Morty mid-step. “I want to see if I can find a Technical Machine for Kirlia.” Upon Preston’s questioning look, she clarified: “I want to teach her Teleport; like the feeling or not, it’s pretty damn useful.”

After a slight disappointed pause, Morty recomposed himself. “Alright! To...the Poké Mart!” he announced, turning east and indicating the others should follow.

Although it took twenty minutes, Logan was finally able to barter with the unkind TM salesman at the counter for a reasonable price. The blonde girl walked away in triumph carrying a pale disc labelled “Technical Machine 106: Teleport” in a gem case.

“Are we all set?” Morty asked, looking at his Poké Gear, refreshing the screen and frowning. “We want to get moving before it gets dark,” he said.

“Shouldn’t we get dinner first?” Preston asked. Morty sighed. “We don’t have to!” the older man said. “I just didn’t know how long the tour would take.”

“I’m hungry,” Alec said.

“I could eat,” Logan agreed.

“Alright, fine. To dinner! And then the tour...and battle…” Morty said, clearly unhappy at the current balance of power. “Let’s go to the Kimono Sisters’ Sushi Palace. It’s divine. I’ll pay, my treat,” he said, although he didn’t sound too thrilled at the prospect.

“I’ll pay,” Preston said, seeking to pacify his friend. “For everyone,” he emphasized, looking at Natalia, who was gazing intently at the Tin Tower, a worried expression on her face. “Natalia?”

The ruby-haired girl turned her back on the tower, re-focusing her energy toward the conversation. “I can pay for myself,” she said uncertainly, looking at Preston with her uncomfortably aware gaze, intelligence and instinct mixed together behind the dark cocoa eyes.

“Nonsense. It’s on me,” Preston said kindly. Natalia nodded gratefully.

The group began traveling in a loose formation of three pairs; Morty and Preston leading, Alec and Logan close to them, with Chase and Natalia trailing behind slightly from the rest of the group.

“Preston had a suggestion for a way to keep the Rainbow Wing safe,” Alec said under his breath to Logan, shooting a look back to Chase and Natalia, feeling Natalia’s piercing gaze on him; she appeared deep in conversation with Chase by the time Alec laid eyes on her, however.

“What’s that?” Logan asked gently, pulling the boy’s focus forward again. “I think she’s alright, for now,” the girl said slowly, “At least, she doesn’t want to hurt you. Kirlia confirmed it.”

Alec allowed this information to wash through him; it would take a while to accept that as a truth. “Um...okay...well, Preston wanted me to rotate the Wing around the group? That way, if Gabriel somehow manages to get me, he’ll see I don’t have the Wing and hopefully release me.”

“Or kill you,” Logan said immediately, worried, biting her lower lip.

“Yeah, that could happen too. But...well, I was thinking about what Natalia said, about trusting someone. And...well, I’ve kind of put this idea together...no one does it alone, you know? And, well, I’ve spent my whole life kinda shutting everyone out...maybe, maybe Preston’s idea isn’t so crazy.”

Logan scrutinized his young face uncertainly. “So…”

“So I want you to carry the Wing. At least for a little while,” Alec said, his voice full of determined certainty.

Logan blinked, frowned at Preston’s broad back in front of her, and nodded finally. “Okay...okay. Only as long as you want,” she said, her face set.

“I’ll give it to you later. When she isn’t watching,” Alec said darkly.

“Hey, Alec!” Chase said, his voice unexpectedly close. He and Natalia had closed the distance between the two young pairs. Alec yelped, turning to look at the white-haired young man. “Sorry…” Chase continued, frowning.

“No, no, sorry, you just...came out of nowhere,” Alec said quickly. “What’s up?”

Chase looked at Natalia, who was avoiding Alec’s eyes. “Well, Natalia and I were trying to figure out who Juliet is.”

Alec’s lips parted in surprise. “I...what?”

Chase shook his head, eyebrows raised. “I don’t know. When we teleported, we both heard you calling that name. And I think I’ve heard it before?”

“It’s a pretty common name,” Logan said fairly.

“Juliet was my guardian, for a number of years,” Alec said carefully, eyes on Natalia. “Juliet Mitchell.” The way his mouth formed her name said more than any words could; words could not convey the beauty and grace Juliet had possessed in amazing quantities.

“Like...babysitter?” Chase asked.

“No! ...well, yes. But she was my best friend. And she protected me from...well, a lot. And when I got sent to technical school...she was released.” He paused, unsettled; Natalia’s face was full of pity and...was it hunger? He couldn’t read the carefully made-up face most of the time; Natalia normally kept a careful guard on her expression. “She left me,” he said finally, “and got married to some tall, muscular sleazebag. Actually, no, he was really nice. But I hated him,” Alec admitted.

“Sounds like you really loved her,” Chase teased. Alec remained silent. “And you said you’d never been in love!” Chase said, his suspicions confirmed. “With your babysitter? Interesting.”

“I’ve seen bigger age gaps,” Logan said defensively.

“Me too,” Natalia said; it was the first time she’d spoken and it was with hesitance. Alec noticed her face had regained its careful neutral. “My father remarried twice, each woman progressively younger.”

“We’re here!” Morty said before anyone could respond to Natalia’s sudden offering; the Kimono Girls’ Sushi Palace loomed above them, a magnificent two-floor restaurant with a facade bearing ornately carved Eevee evolutions, the doors flanked by Umbreon and Espeon gargoyles, ears flattened and mouths wide open in mid-hiss.

“It’s been a while since I’ve eaten here,” Preston said, admiring the ancient architecture.

“Let’s go in, shall we?” Morty asked, pulling the door open and beckoning everyone inside. Alec and Logan went first, followed by Preston and then Chase. “Are you coming?” Morty asked to Natalia, who was standing carefully outside the door as if it were electrically charged.

“Yes,” Natalia said quietly, stepping inside and re-integrating with the group.

…................................................. ....................................

-1993-

Natalia was sitting alone again. Lunch hour outside the protection of Ms. Phelps was nearly unbearable; none of her fellow third-year students wanted her near. The girl with the dorky glasses was too smart, too intense, had no sense of fun. This seemed to be everyone’s opinion at The Trainers’ School in Violet City.

“Natalia,” said a voice, exasperation creeping at the edge of the soft tones. Ms. Phelps was carrying a tray back to the teacher’s lounge; the sight of her brightest pupil from fourth block sitting alone usually evoked frustration. “Didn’t I tell you to try and make friends?” she said, stopping across the table from Natalia and trying to appear stern, although her plump cheeks and kindly demeanor did not allow for much intimidation.

“I did try! I was at a table with Alie and Sarah and Kendra, and all they did was make fun of me! Asking about my dad’s weight problems, pretending to be me…” Natalia put her hands in big circles over her eyes and pulled her front teeth over her lip, enhancing the buck-toothed quality. “‘Me, Ms. Phelps! Pick me!’” Tears were forming in the eight-year-old’s eyes, and she pulled at her long red ponytail for comfort.

Ms. Phelps sighed. Her eyes drifted across the crowded cafeteria, searching for a friendly peer that might sit with Natalia. Although the faces were cheerful and bright, none of the children seemed interested in the small ruby-haired girl’s plight. “Alright. Come on, then, bring your lunch with you.”

Natalia’s face lit up; occasionally the blonde woman softened and allowed the girl to have lunch with her in classroom 23D before the rest of fourth block piled in. These private lunches allowed Natalia to connect as she simply couldn’t with her fellow students. “Thank you, Ms. Phelps,” her small voice piped as she stood up, eager to leave the hostile environment.

As was usual, the only light in 23D was the gentle glow provided by the class Ledian, whose alien bug-like body lit up in the dark. Ms. Phelps flipped the light on, indicating Natalia should sit in the comfy chair at the back of the classroom while she made a call. She dialed, waiting through three rings before a voice sounded on the other end. “Hi, honey. Just checking in before the afternoon begins…”

Natalia wandered slowly to the back of the room, not in a straight line, taking in her surroundings (although she had been in 23D nearly every day for the past three months). She stopped at the Ledian, whom the class had named Theon, after the infamous Champion. “Hey, buddy,” she said softly, reaching a small hand out to touch with the Pokémon’s round-tipped leg. Theon crooned happily, shutting his eyes and flaring his spotted red wings.

“Sorry about that,” Ms. Phelps said, hanging up the phone at her desk and moving to join Natalia.

“Who was that on the phone?” Natalia asked, moving aside and allowing Ms. Phelps to feed Theon his special treats the class had prepared as a snack.

“That was my boyfriend. We met at book club, we’ve been dating for two years.” Ms. Phelps smiled. “Don’t look so shocked, Natalia.”

That Ms. Phelps had a life outside the school, that she spent time with another person other than her students, had never crossed Natalia’s mind. “Can I meet him?” she asked.

“I’m sure you will, one day. He’s wonderful, really. Joseph loves kids!” A sudden shadow seemed to cross Ms. Phelps’ face. “Anyway. Sit down, Natalia!” she said, again pointing to the cushy blue armchair in the rug-covered play area in the back of the room. The blonde woman took both trays of food and settled them on a desk, pulling a chair around so Natalia could see her properly while they ate.

Natalia carefully clambered onto the comfy chair, allowing her small limbs to splay out casually so her white frilly dress fell limply at her feet. She took her tray from Ms. Phelps carefully, sorting out her peas so they were arranged in height order around the edge. “Alie said I should be transferred. That I’m not supposed to be in our class. I don’t belong,” the girl said, her eyes still focused on her peas.

Ms. Phelps chose her words carefully. “Natalia. You are...very smart. I don’t know if your peers, or even your parents, really understand this. Your father certainly tries. It’s likely you don’t belong in my class, honestly. But...what’s holding you back is your grades. I just can’t recommend you for honors, dear, without at least all B’s.”

Natalia adjusted her glasses so she could see Ms. Phelps properly, swinging her feet anxiously. “I tried really hard last week,” she promised.

“No, I know. I just...I guess I don’t understand? Why don’t you even try to do your work, Natalia? You’ve proved to me how easy it is for you.”

“It’s too easy,” Natalia said instantly, taking a sip of Pecha Juice. “And it’s stupid. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings,” the girl said placatingly, “I just don’t want to do work that doesn’t challenge me.”

“But don’t you see, Natalia,” Ms. Phelps said, frustration creeping back into her voice, “I can’t give you more of a challenge unless you follow the rules.”

“I don’t like rules. They were made up by people who’re all big and important, but not smart people.” Natalia took another sip of her Pecha Juice, picking at her potato salad. She was not being unreasonable, she was simply speaking her mind.

“See, Natalia, it’s this attitude that keeps you from making friends. Sometimes...you have to pretend, just a little, act like you’re more like them than you are.” The woman was trying to catch Natalia’s cocoa-brown eyes with her large blue ones, but Natalia was staring at Theon now.

“Isn’t that lying?” Natalia asked. “Isn’t it wrong, to pretend to be what I’m not?” Her eyes finally met her teacher’s.

Ms. Phelps’ pale cheeks were flushed; she somehow seemed unnerved by the question. “Sometimes I forget you’re eight years old,” the teacher said, her voice small. “Natalia, I want to see you happy. The last thing I want for you is to see you an outcast your whole life.”

The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch period. Natalia’s heart began beating slightly faster. She hated the transition into Reading Class. Alie, Sarah, Kendra, and Justin were all in the class. The girl locked eyes with Ms. Phelps. “Can I hide?” she asked quietly.

“No, Natalia. But you have permission to go to the bathroom,” Ms. Phelps said, smiling and handing her the hall pass. The common excuse to hide Natalia’s special lunches with Ms. Phelps was that she’d been in the bathroom for the first three minutes of class.

Natalia took the pass, sniffling. “Thank you for loving me,” she said, throwing her tiny body around Ms. Phelps’ short, curvy waist.

Ms. Phelps took the girl’s ruby-haired head in her hands, bending over and kissing her forehead. “Go to the bathroom,” she said, smiling gently.

Natalia bolted, running so that her feet nearly collided with one another, frantic to beat the crowd of students. SMACK. Her sneaker caught on the leg of a chair, catching the girl by surprise. Her eyes widened, her hands flying out to cushion the inevitable collision with the ground.

“Natalia!” Ms. Phelps shrieked, hurrying over to help the girl up.

Natalia had scraped her hands on the rough carpet, scarlet blood blossoming slowly over her olive skin. Her glasses had broken; her eyes were open in terror. The sound of small footsteps pounded down the hall, echoing across the lockers and drifting in through the open door.

“They’re going to see me!” Natalia cried, panicking, her small chest heaving. She did not move from the floor.

“I’ll keep them outside,” Ms. Phelps promised, handing Natalia some towels from the sink. “They won’t be allowed in until you feel safe.” I’ll never feel safe from them, Natalia realized.

Kendra’s words hit her ears unpleasantly as the girl shouted from the doorway: “Eww, look at Natalia. She’s all covered in blood!” Several more jeers sounded and Natalia’s head shot up, her expression one of pure humiliation.

“Teacher’s pet! She’s eating lunch with Ms. Phelps!” Justin cried incredulously to the excited children behind him.

Natalia was mortified. Blood dripped all over her white dress, but her hands did not hurt nearly as much as the laughter stinging at her ears. She sat up; her glasses hung uselessly off her left ear, and her face was coated in tears. Ms. Phelps was at the door, reprimanding her students, pushing them into the hallway. One face stood out from the rest; Shawn, the boy who sat behind her and sometimes cracked jokes during class. He was the only one not laughing.

Ms. Phelps slammed the door on Justin and Alie, turning to Natalia, a look of sincerest apology on her face. “I’m so sorry, Natalia.”

“What’s wrong with me?” the girl asked softly. What have I done wrong?

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

After dinner proved to be a success, Morty finally gave his tour of the city, although (as he noted several times) it was rather rushed. The tour ended, as most official guided tours did in Ecruteak, with the Tin Tower. “Forty-five stories,” he said, craning his neck to look up to the very top of the glossy bronze building. “Despite the name, she’s built with nearly all steel and solid as a Skarmory. Isn’t that right, Alec?”

Alec nodded; he did not seem keen to linger on his father’s pride and joy.

“Forty-five floors…” Preston mused, also glancing up. “I couldn’t do it. Heights aren’t my favorite.”

“Not even to see the shrine?” Morty asked.

Preston shook his head, chuckling. “No, thanks.”

“I’ve seen enough shrines for a lifetime,” Logan said; Chase nodded in agreement.

“Can we see the gym?” Natalia asked. She, too, seemed uncomfortable in the presence of the tower.

Morty blinked, a little disappointed. “Of...yes, of course. Come on, then, let’s go,” he said, turning away from the magnificent tower and leading the group toward the Ecruteak gym.

“Why don’t you like the tower?” Chase asked Natalia as they fell into stride behind Alec and Logan.

Natalia looked at Chase, holding her breath, unsure of whether she would tell another compulsory lie or not. “It’s...well, it’s a shrine to Ho-oh. I’m not exactly the biggest fan,” she said. Well, you aren’t lying, she reasoned objectively.

Chase’s eyes drifted over the left side of her face. “So, why haven’t you...I dunno, gotten surgery done? I’m sure there are ways to repair the burn.”

“No,” Natalia said immediately. “Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire is forever. And besides...Ho-oh marked me for what I am. An other. An outcast. I’m fine with it.”

“Well then, so am I,” Chase said, the corners of his mouth upturning, producing a dimple on the right side of his face Natalia found comforting. His face suddenly went blank, then darkened, a brooding look taking over.

“What’s wrong?” Natalia asked.

“In the meeting, somebody said...you were in jail, twice.” Chase did not elaborate, looking expectantly at the Team Skye member for an explanation.

Natalia began laughing, which was the last response the young man had expected; Logan turned back to frown at the two, confused at Natalia’s sudden outburst. “That’s what you find disturbing? Oh, Chase,” she said, almost pityingly, “You have the most screwed-up moral compass. None of you ask the right questions,” she continued, uncomfortably aware she was echoing a favorite saying of Gabriel’s. “Yes, I’ve been to jail twice. I was a member of Team Skye for about...five years, I think? It’s a miracle it’s only been twice. August’s been arrested, I think, eleven times now.” She stopped smiling at the look on Chase’s face. “Look, I’m not saying it’s something I’m proud of. But...honestly, the crimes I was arrested for...were really petty.” Not nearly the worst of my sins.

Chase seemed to be having trouble digesting this worldview. “Look, I’m not judging, I promise. I’ve actually been in jail once. Briefly! I was framed! But...wow.” He shook his head, eyebrows knitted together.

Natalia’s face softened. “What?” she asked quietly.

“You’ve been through a lot,” Chase said, reaching out a hand for hers. She pulled back instinctively, which Chase seemed to expect. He extended only his left pinky finger, nodding toward it, looking her in the eyes. “Trust me,” he said.

Natalia reached out, her hand quivering slightly. Their pinkies met, intertwining tenderly, and Chase smiled. The two swung their locked-together hands and continued walking, Natalia’s heart pounding in an odd combination of thrill and fear, excitement and loathing.

Alec saw Preston’s eyes on his, checking that the Wing was securely tucked away in the boy’s bag, and felt a smile cross his face. It’s safe, he thought, but not with me. He had secretly handed the Wing off to Logan in the restaurant, under the table and hidden from the older man’s searching gray eyes.

“Do you feel ready for your second-ever gym battle?” Preston asked, pulling back so Morty was leading the group alone, joining instead with Logan and Alec.

Alec shook his head up, down, left, and right. “I...really don’t know,” he confessed, causing Preston to smile gently.

“You know Morty specializes in Ghost-types, right?” Logan asked, as if to prod some great discovery from Alec.

“Yes, I wasn’t born yesterday,” Alec said crossly, “and you know I only have three Pokémon to choose from, none of which have the advantage enough to fight Ghosts?” he retorted; he was starting to get cold feet about the challenge.

“Play to your Pokémon’s strengths,” Preston said encouragingly. “Does Machop know Foresight?”

“No…” Alec said; all of his Pokémon were only taught moves that directly influenced damaging an opponent - even Magby’s Smokescreen seemed more useful than an attack that only even affected Ghost-types.

“Okay, well, you probably don’t want to use him,” Preston reasoned.

Morty cleared his throat. “We’ve arrived,” he said, his silky voice full of anticipation.

The Ecruteak Gym was nowhere near the ornate constructions Alec had seen housing the Goldenrod and Olivine gyms, or even the Mahogany Gym in his hometown. This structure was low, only one floor - and barely a floor, at that. It was a mainly wooden structure, delicate wooden slats supporting long white-and-beige flats of plywood. Around the simple, solid doorway were carved calligraphic symbols and phrases in ancient languages Alec could not speak, although he assumed they were describing the qualities of the crudely-drawn ghosts spaced across the door.

“You know, I haven’t seen your gym in five years,” Preston said, his gray eyes wandering over the inscriptions. “I see you worked in a Stephens quote,” he muttered appreciatively, squinting and leaning in to look at a longer string of letters.

“Only for those who know,” Morty said softly, smiling secretively at his friend. “Shall we go in?”

“The deal is I get to challenge you after Alec, right?” Chase asked for clarification as the group passed through the doors into the markedly colder interior.

“Of course. If time permits,” Morty said carefully. They passed through the anteroom into the main chamber, which was completely devoid of light save small flames that burned a pale blue intermittently through the engulfing cold blackness. Alec couldn’t see anything, only sense Logan’s warm body next to his, their shivering hands gripping tightly to one another.

“Is this necessary, Morty?” Preston asked loudly, his voice echoing strangely through the cavern-like room. “All the theatrics?”

“I suppose you’re right. Shut it off, Tom!” Morty said, his normally quiet voice amplified in the odd acoustics of the room. Suddenly, with a great click, the room was lit quite plainly by overhead lights, revealing a near-empty, violet papered room with torches spread evenly around the space. In the very center was a spiral staircase. “I normally make this part of the challenge, that an opponent has to work his way through the dark to find me. Only once he has struggled can one make the descent,” he said, indicating the hole in the floor leading downward.

“There’s a reason Olivine’s gym is consistently rated higher than yours,” Preston said so only Alec and Logan could hear; Logan giggled. Chase and Natalia had barely entered the room, and much like Alec and Logan, they appeared to be comforting one another, though why by entwined pinky fingers was beyond Alec’s comprehension.

“Favored guests, shall we descend to the spirit world?” Morty asked, grinning.

“Oh, shut up,” Preston said, although he, too, was smiling.

The spiral staircase led down to a single black door. Under the scare room Morty had devised was a simple, small, enclosed space, full of mist and also only lit by torches. A field was sketched in dark chalk on the white floor, a subversion from most battlefields. Across the room was one door. “This place is creepy,” Logan said, her teeth chattering from the cold.

“Remind me why you love Ghost Pokémon so much, Morty?” Preston asked, pulling his jacket tighter.

“They’re a connection to those we’ve lost,” Morty said simply. He crossed to the far side of the battlefield, opening a keypad on the wall beside the only other exit. “Okay, Alec.Your information, please? Name, Hometown, Pokémon you will be using.”

“Uhm...okay. Alec Gideon, Mahogany Town...Pupitar.”

Morty punched some keys very fast; a screen on the wall above him lit up, displaying Alec’s name and hometown. “Two Pokémon minimum. And do you have a middle name?” he asked, his tone rehearsed.

“Magby will be my second. And...yeah. No! No middle name,” Alec said; he hated that his father’s name was a legal part of his and refused to mention it unless it was necessary.

Morty punched a few more keys, a Pupitar and a Magby icon appearing next to two Poké Balls along with health bars indicating their stamina, currently on full. “Let’s get started, shall we?” Morty said, clapping his hands together.

“Let’s sit over here,” Preston said to Logan, indicating to a single bench Natalia and Chase had already settled onto.

“You’ll be great,” Logan whispered encouragingly to Alec, who nodded.

Preston put a hand on his shoulder. “You can do this. Just remember Ghost Pokémon, and Morty’s battle style, are all about stealth and tact. Very unlike yours,” he said, patting Alec’s back and grinning. “I believe in you,” he said, backing away with Logan, so only Alec and Morty still stood on the battlefield.

“A two vs. two, single-style battle, challenger substitution only. Agreed?” Morty asked, his pale eyes glistening with adrenaline.

Alec squeezed his fists, clenching and unclenching, steeling himself for the fight. “Yes, that sounds good,” he said hastily, realizing he hadn’t responded.

Morty’s Poké Gear rang from his belt. He rolled his eyes, picking it up and hitting a button on the device, glancing at the screen for a second. He nodded, turning the phone off and refocusing on the fifteen-year-old boy poised to battle. “Sorry about that. Let the battle begin!”

“What was that?” Preston asked, but Morty did not respond. He reached for his belt, producing not one, but six Poké Balls. “Morty? What are you doing?”

Natalia’s face was white; suddenly she yanked her hand from Chase’s, standing. “Don’t you dare!” she yelled, but it was too late; Morty released a small army of six Ghost Pokémon, pressing a button on his Poké Gear and yelling a command in a foreign language. The exit to the floor above slammed shut.

“Morty?” Preston asked, distressed.

Morty smiled sadly at his friend. “I’m sorry, Joe. But this is how it has to be.” The door behind his flew open; Team Skye members began pouring in from the room beyond.

***

There is a part two on the next page.

Bulba the Great!
17th February 2014, 10:23 PM
Chapter 16B (Apparently I need to begin writing shorter chapters...)

…................................................. ....................................

-2002-

The sky was murky; clouds covered the darkening blue canvas, blotting out the setting sun and causing a faint feeling of unease. Natalia shivered; not from the cold or the ominous sky, but from anticipation. Shawn had said he would meet her with food and they would eat dinner under the stars again. A branch broke about a mile to the right of the clearing; the seventeen-year-old’s head snapped to attention, her instinct telling her to stay alert regardless of the excitement building in her stomach.

This had been her life for two years; since running away from her own home and her horrible stepmother, Natalia had found solace in the only boy who’d shown her kindness in her youth. Shawn Ashford had listened to her story intently, agreeing after careful deliberation to help her out, but not to take her in - “My mom would not approve,” he’d said, which was perfectly true because his eyes said so. Natalia spent her days alone mostly, but at night, once Shawn was free from school, the two would spend hours running, laughing, holding hands - but never kissing. Kissing was for relationships, Shawn said.

“Why can’t we be in a relationship?” Natalia had asked. Shawn simply laughed and hopped into a tree; he didn’t like talking about serious things or commitment. After eleven thirty, when the Ashford house was asleep, Natalia would let herself in and sleep on the floor so that nothing would be disturbed in the morning - no pillows or blankets to hide.

The branches continued snapping, signaling Shawn’s imminent arrival, or so Natalia hoped. She straightened the pretty sundress Shawn had given her (borrowed from his sister), making sure her long ruby-red hair was pushed over her shoulders just so carelessly.

“Ouch!” a voice said from her immediate right.

“Shawn?” she called.

“I stepped on a Shroomish,” the boy said, finally emerging from the brush; his floppy hair was standing on end, spores and leaves sprinkled sporadically through the fine sandy strands. “I don’t think it liked me,” he said, his mouth curling up at his own joke.

Natalia laughed, standing and closing the distance between them. “You’re a mess, look at you!” she cried, helping him brush the debris from his head. Her hand brushed his face tenderly; he coughed, shaking his body fitfully until she removed her hand. “Something wrong?” she asked hesitantly.

“What? No, no, sorry, battling a bit of a cold,” Shawn said quickly, reaching out and holding her hand, smiling so his hazel eyes shimmered and his nostrils flared.

“Take better care of yourself, young man,” Natalia scolded playfully. “This book I’m reading says so long as you get proper sleep -”

“Book? I...what book?” Shawn said sharply, his posture straightening so he towered a full nine inches over his friend. “You didn’t ask me for one…”

“Oh, no, it’s - I just, was browsing, you know, and I happened to -” Natalia began, but Shawn cut her off.

“You didn’t steal it, did you?”

Natalia was silent; her dark brown eyes lowered, her glasses flashing in the fading sun. “I didn’t…”

“Are those new glasses? They are, the frames are different!” Shawn said, peering closer at his friend, who removed the square-framed spectacles and folded them nervously, shaking her head frantically. “What did I say about this? Natalia! You don’t need to steal. I’m here for you, providing for you -”

“I guess I didn’t want you to think I was a burden,” Natalia said softly.

Shawn stared at her, his eyes wide, nostrils flared. His narrow jaw worked rapidly, shifting back and forth as the boy considered her statement. “You’re...not, a burden, Natalia…” he said slowly.

“But I know I am! I always feel awful asking you to do anything for me, you don’t owe me anything, and I know you aren’t doing too great financially. And…” Natalia stopped herself, crossing her thin arms protectively around herself.

“What?” Shawn asked, a hard tone embedded in his voice.

“No. ...Shawn, maybe I should leave. I can’t keep living out here like this. You clearly don’t want me -”

“How can you say that? After everything I’ve done for you -” Shawn began angrily.

“Do your parents know?” Natalia asked quietly. “Do they know where an eighth of their food and supplies are going? Do they know you’ve been harboring a thief?” Shawn put his hands to his head, running his fingers to the back of his scalp guiltily. A thought occurred to her. “Didn’t you say we were going on a picnic?”

Shawn swallowed. “Look, Natalia -”

But this set her off. “Don’t treat me like that! Like a child who needs her ears shielded! I know what I am and what you think of me! How do you think your mother would feel if she knew you going out with a girl every night, making empty promises, and making her sleep on the floor?” The full force of the abuse she was suffering was hitting Natalia in waves, hot and heavy seismic waves that made her olive skin flush.

“Natalia, chill out!” Shawn said nervously, holding his hands out defensively. “Seriously, just...okay? You’re always so intense, it’s like...it’s all or nothing with you. Arceus’ Plates!” Natalia’s eyes widened, stung by his words. “I didn’t bring a picnic, no. Because...I want to bring you home for dinner.” He cocked his head. “I want my parents to meet you.”

Natalia stopped her heavy breathing, shocked at his sudden kindness. “Really? You-you’re sure?”

Shawn nodded. “Look, Natalia, I know you. Far too well. Yeah, you’ve got some problems. You think some rules are...beneath you. But you’re pretty special. What’s that thing Ms. Phelps always used to say?” He reached his hand out for her, moving his head toward the exit of the forest.

Natalia took the proffered hand, touched. “‘A friend is someone you knows you, but loves you anyway.’” she said, smiling. “You love me, Shawn?”

A slight pause, then: “Yes. And I’ll do anything to help you, I promise.”

The two continued walking out of the forest; Natalia was still attempting to re-adjust her perception of Shawn; she had been so sure he was getting tired of her.

She heard a sudden snapping to her left; immediately she hissed, training her eyes on the offending area the sound had come from, shifting her weight defensively. “Who’s there?” she asked.

“Chill out, Natalia,” Shawn said, his eyes shifting around nervously all the same. “Probably just a wild Pokémon. Maybe it’s a very flat and angry Shroomish,” he finished seriously. They continued walking, Natalia’s ears perked for any sudden intrusion.

“You ever miss the Trainers’ School?” Shawn asked presently; he had changed his focus from Pokémon to Biology since Natalia dropped out. “Ms. Phelps’ class?”

“Where we first met,” Natalia said tenderly. She smiled sadly. “Remember that day you guys came back from lunch -”

“And you were in old 23D alone with Ms. Phelps, hands all blood and dress soaked with tears,” Shawn said immediately, his face solemn. “Yeah, I remember. Vividly.”

“I knew then that you were good,” Natalia said, squeezing his hand. Shawn smiled, his lips pursed so that his face stretched in a bizarrely unnatural way. “Are you okay?” she asked.

A siren sounded; three uniformed officers stepped out of the surrounding trees in a triangular formation, closing in on Natalia and Shawn; Violet City’s Officer Jenny stood in the middle. Shawn let go of Natalia’s hand, a look of extreme guilt and trepidation on his face.

“What? What’s happening?” Natalia asked, her heart racing to fever pitch; this didn’t make any sense.

“Natalia Solos, we have in confidence you’ve been stealing from our good city for the past two years, probably longer. We’ve got it all on tape,” Officer Jenny added; one of her guards held up screenshots of Natalia, barely disguised, carefully concealing essentials in her coat and staring shiftily at the cameras, her deep brown eyes frightened. The expression was mirrored on the girl’s face now, horror spreading through her body.

This is it, she thought; and the immediate image that flashed into her head was that of her father’s face the last time she had seen him, in his hospital bed, pale and sickly, but with a look of pride that his daughter was showing guilt for her illegal actions. “What if it doesn’t stop?” she’d asked him. This is the end, there’s no escaping. Natalia looked for an escape route; her limbs were tensed, accustomed to the earthy environment. Her eyes landed on Shawn, standing next to one of the officers.

“I’m sorry Natalia,” he said, his eyes lowered. Traitor!

“You...did you set this up?” Natalia asked, her voice brittle, ready to snap.

“I had to. I couldn’t LIVE with this secret inside me,” he said, guilt turning to accusation as he spoke. “I mean, it’s a criminal act, Natalia!”

There was nowhere to go. No one to go to. How could he, Natalia thought, rage mixing with her fear; she had trusted him. He never loved me, he was repulsed by me. Ms. Phelps would know how to make things better; too bad she’d been married and beyond her reach for a number of years. Natalia missed her blonde hair and rosy cheeks now more than ever.

“Ms. Solos, please don’t make this difficult,” Jenny said; an Ariados appeared beside her, its lethal purple and maroon markings clashing awfully with the lush green of the forest.

I can’t stay here. Natalia leapt, catching onto a low-hanging branch, her instincts like lightning; she felt feral, ferocious. She heard shouts below; Ariados was closing in on her, scaling the tree adjacent. Self-generated images flashed through her head, threatening to blind her. Her father’s face, sagging in disappointment; Shawn’s face, twisted with loathing; Ms. Phelps, unique in that she alone was smiling.

A spiderweb snagged her, catching at her lower right ankle. “No!” she shouted, her shriek echoing through the clearing. She struggled, but Ariados’ web stuck, tugging, pulling, constraining. This is it. She was pulled from the tree, free-falling toward the ground. I’m not a good person, she realized, her blood chilling as the realization shot through her in an icy deluge.

She passed out on impact.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

They were surrounded on all sides. Both exits were sealed off and the perimeter of the room was lined with gray-and-blue-uniformed men and women. Preston, Logan, and Chase had leapt up to join Natalia in a tight group around Alec, facing outward. Chase was breathing heavily, more surprised and bewildered than frightened.

“Joe, we don’t have to fight or do anything drastic,” Morty said, his silky voice apprehensive; Preston looked livid, his gray eyes wild and lips tightened to a line, his haggard face drawn. “Gabriel just needs that Wing, he and I have discussed -”

“Why?” Preston asked, his voice low, dangerous. “Why did you betray us? The League, the Council...me.” Chase’s hands reached out, closing on Logan’s and, after a moment’s hesitation, Natalia’s; her hand was cold and trembling.

“Betray is such a strong word,” Morty said carefully. “Gabriel approached me last week, very kindly, and...well, at first I was reluctant, but what he had to say made sense. He just needed my help with one thing, and that was making sure you ended up here, Alec, in the city where Ho-oh will be reborn from the ashes. He needs the Wing to harness Ho-oh’s ability! That’s all!”

“Why not just take it from me?” Alec shot from between Logan and Preston.

“Gabriel needed to make sure everything was in order. His plan will be perfection if you play along, Alec. Don’t make me use force, please,” Morty said, his hand drifting toward one of his Gengar.

“Natalia, what are you doing?” A husky female voice from across the room rang out; a Skye member with straight black bangs and lips painted icy-blue stepped forward. Chase recognized her as one of the two bodies from the Purpleheart Tunnels. “You don’t belong with them. Remember what Gabriel said about you!”

“I’m...I’m not going to fight them, Amy,” Natalia said firmly; Chase squeezed her hand. He saw Logan shoot an appraising look toward the ruby-haired girl.

“You were good, Morty, you were so good,” Preston said, pulling the circle tighter around Alec.

“You’re not getting the Wing,” Logan said.

“Be reasonable…” Morty said, his arms outstretched, his voice pleading but his eyes narrowed.

“Enough of this. Get the Wing, Brodie,” the one called Amy said to her scrawny, sandy-haired companion.

“Fight me!” Alec shouted, releasing Machop, Magby, and Pupitar. Chase heard Preston sigh behind him, but it seemed clear to the young man that Alec had the right idea.

“Only because you asked,” Amy said, raising her black-gloved hand. In unison, her teammates released their Pokémon, filling the room with about eighty creatures, all either perching on their trainer’s shoulders or hovering in the air behind them.

“Alec...we don’t have to fight…” Morty said, but he was raising his hands, pointing his Ghost Pokémon forward.

“He’s not fighting alone,” Logan said, releasing five Pokémon: Leafeon, Houndoom, Gurdurr, Blastoise, and Yanmega. “Right?” she asked Chase, but he was already letting out his team: Nidoking, Servine, Torkoal, Heracross, Starmie, and Froslass.

“I never thought I would have to do this,” Preston said numbly. He shook his head at Morty, setting his tired face and releasing Sawsbuck, Ursaring, Braviary, Mamoswine, Electivire, and Manaphy.

“The Manaphy man,” said a square-jawed woman Chase recognized from the Olivine street battle; a Swellow perched on her shoulder. “So noble,” she said, her lip curling mockingly.

“Natalia,” Amy said urgently, “stop pretending. Come on, you know Gabriel’s plan.” Her heavy-lidded black eyes bore into Natalia’s wide brown ones; Natalia hesitated a split second. Logan bit her lip, staring at the girl.

“Braviary, Rock Slide. Manaphy, Hydro Pump,” Preston commanded, covering Natalia’s split-second indecision. It was like a cloudburst; the older man’s order broke the tense spell in the room, allowing a ripple of command and response to release from both sides; Team Skye, and Alec’s protectors.

“Pupitar, Chip Away! Machop, Karate Chop!” Alec cried, focusing on a group of Staraptor and Pidgeot diving toward him.

“Crobat, Poison Fang!” Natalia ordered, releasing her one Pokémon and sending it at Amy, whose eyes widened in shock; she countered with a Xatu, its brightly colored wings spread defensively.

“Chase!” Logan shouted; a Skarmory had lifted Servine’s small green body into the air. Her own Yanmega was struggling to release itself from the grip of a Dragonite.

“Servine, Grass Pledge!” Chase shouted, trusting his other Pokémon to fend for themselves for the moment; their battle instincts were strong. The snake-like Pokémon writhed, releasing a stream of brilliantly-colored leaves and plants that enveloped Skarmory; they were deflected uselessly on its chrome armor. The bird crowed, squeezing its gray talons so they pierced into Servine’s creamy underbelly.

“Dark Pulse!” Logan commanded. Her Houndoom unleashed a monstrous black-and-purple wave of negatively charged energy at Amy’s Xatu; it collapsed, its Psychic hold on Crobat released.

“Thanks!” Natalia gasped, smiling at Logan; the blonde did not return the smile.

“Don’t hesitate ever again,” Logan said, turning away and running to catch Leafeon, who had just been dropped by an Unfezant.

“Torkoal, help us out!” Chase called to his small orange Fire-type. Skarmory was still holding Servine firmly, but it was now climbing, its steely body glowing; it appeared to be gearing up for a Sky Attack.

Preston and Morty seemed to have forgotten the rest of the fight, locked in a personal battle, the two most experienced trainers in the room.

“Night Shade!” Morty yelled, his Gengar and Dusclops releasing the attack in unison.

“Sawsbuck!” Preston said. The stag leapt in front of Mamoswine, who the ghostly attack was aimed at; the Normal-type absorbed the chill waves effortlessly, their power negated. “Ursaring, Shadow Claw!”

“Double Team, Mismagius! Gengar, Dream Eater!” Morty ordered.

Preston flinched; he had neglected his Electivire for a split second, allowing one of Morty’s Gengar to put it to sleep. It was now descending on the tiger-like creature, melting into a shadow.

“Blastoise, Skull Bash!” Logan yelled; Chase allowed himself a moment of frustration.

“I told you to get rid of that move!” he cried at Logan.

“I make my own decisions, thanks!” his old friend yelled, grunting as a Fearow swooped low, its wide wings bashing her shoulder.

The Pokémon were closing in faster and faster; no matter how well the small group was doing, Skye had numbers to their advantage.

Servine was still in trouble; Torkoal’s flames had not been able to hit Skarmory, who was freely weaving through the air, cackling at the Grass Pokémon’s defenselessness.

“Froslass, can you get up there?” Chase asked his geisha-like Ice/Ghost Pokémon, who was busy with a Charizard. He looked up, biting his cheek; Servine looked awfully pale.

In fact, too pale. The Pokémon was beginning to glow, a pearly light emanating faintly from his small body. Chase grinned in spite of his surroundings; Sceptile’s son was finally evolving, although the circumstances weren’t ideal for celebration.

“Brave Bird!” screamed Alec’s current opponent, a young boy no older than sixteen, his Noctowl eyeing Machop hungrily. Machop looked terrified; his large eyes widened and he covered his blunt face with his thin arms, his teeth bared.

Pupitar arrived a split second before the owl made contact, taking the full brunt of the attack with her stony smooth body. Despite her type advantage, Alec could still see her fatigue. Magby was already down, defeated with a single Water Pulse from a powerful Swanna. We’re losing, Alec realized, fear creeping through him. He looked at Logan, the current holder of the Wing, running alongside her Houndoom toward her Yanmega, her sky-blue eyes hard, and felt a wave of guilt for pulling her into this situation.

Preston and Morty were still six for six, neither backing down.

“Shadow Punch!” Morty called, directing his Dusclops towards Manaphy. “Joe, we don’t have to do this,” he insisted, trying to catch his friend’s eye.

Preston ignored him. “Chase, Logan, Alec! Natalia! Get around me!” he said, his eyes scanning the battlefield. “Horn Leech,” he said immediately to Sawsbuck, intercepting the attack Mismagius had been aiming at the stag.

Chase heard Preston’s call and stared around for his Pokémon, now spread all over the field. His Starmie had lost a limb and was working on regenerating the pointed arm, Nidoking standing defensively over the jewel Pokémon. Servine was now a Serperior, near twelve feet long and coiled dangerously around Skarmory on the ground, crushing it. Torkoal, Heracross, and Froslass were down.

Logan grabbed Alec’s hand, pulling him toward Preston’s tall figure. “Machop’s been taken down,” Alec said, his voice shaking. “I caused this.”

“It’s okay,” Logan said soothingly, pulling the boy urgently past her Houndoom, who was biting an Altaria viciously, shaking her head.

Natalia was nowhere to be seen. Logan had lost Yanmega and Leafeon in the fight, and hoped that Preston had a plan that would keep her from using her own failsafe strategy to keep Alec safe.

“Ice Shard!” the older man said, his quiet voice hoarse from fatigue; his gray eyes were bright, however, alert and determined.

“What’s your plan?” Logan asked.

Chase fought his way to stand beside her and Alec, carrying Torkoal’s prone body in his arms. “Where’s Natalia?” he asked immediately.

“I don’t know,” Logan said, looking over the field again. The girl’s signature deep ruby-colored hair was nowhere to be seen; Amy and Brodie had disappeared as well. “Preston! Your plan!” she said more urgently.

The older man pushed his Manaphy between them. “Manaphy - Protect!” he said, running his fingers through his hair. “Surround us,” he clarified. The small blue creature glowed, raising its fingerless arms and creating a green bubble of pure energy that enveloped Preston, Logan, Alec, and Chase, extending just enough to include the trainers’ remaining Pokémon. “That will buy us some time,” the older man said, wiping sweat from his lined brow.

A crashing sound, followed by a pulsating hum; Morty’s Pokémon were sapping the bubble of its power, along with the still thirty-strong flock of bird Pokémon outside the shield.

“I have a plan to keep Alec safe. Only Alec, but, well...we were assigned to protect him,” Logan said, her lips pursed, her hand still gripping the boy’s.

Preston looked searchingly at her. “I’m listening,” he said, flinching as a Dragonite hit the field with a Hyper Beam; Manaphy whimpered, its small body shriveling from stress.

“I didn’t use Kirlia to battle for a reason,” Logan said slowly, aware that Alec would likely hate her idea. She released the small pixie-like Pokémon, looking apologetically at Alec.

Preston nodded, already understanding. “Do it.”

“Do what?” Alec asked.

“We were charged to keep you safe, always,” Preston said to the boy. Alec’s eyes widened.

“You wouldn’t -”

“Teleport, Kirlia,” Logan whispered. Before Alec could protest further, the Pokémon glowed elegantly, her light swallowing Alec, and suddenly the boy disappeared with a faint pop.

“Why didn’t you take us?” Chase asked indignantly. “Where did you send him?”

Logan shook her head. “I don’t know. Kirlia’s never used that move before. She’s not experienced enough to do it safely to more than one body, yet.”

“So...Alec could be anywhere?” Chase asked.

Preston nodded. “Anywhere is better than here,” he said gravely. The Protect broke suddenly; Manaphy collapsed, spent. Silence spread across the field.

“Where’s Alec?” Morty cried.

“Where’s Natalia?” Chase repeated. Neither question could be answered.

…................................................. ....................................

-2004-

Natalia stared down at the map of Vermilion City she’d gotten at the Pokémon Center. Upon her release from the Violet City jail the past month, she’d been determined to find the one person she knew she could still trust to listen to her story and possibly help her: Carrie Phelps, her former grade school teacher.

The woman had agreed on the phone to meet her at Vermilion City’s local coffee shop, Winston’s. If she had been surprised to hear Natalia’s voice on the phone the previous week, her lyrical voice did not betray it. Natalia didn’t mention jail or her massive anxiety about trusting the wrong people; she didn’t want to scare another person off as she had Shawn.

“You know, Joseph and I are having a baby,” Ms. Phelps had said matter-of-factly.

“Oh! That’s incredible! Boy or girl?” Natalia had asked.

“The doctor says we can’t know for sure yet, but I’m hoping for a girl,” she had answered happily.

Natalia felt she had walked too far; Winston’s was nowhere to be seen, but she could see the Diglett Tunnel up ahead. “Damn,” she said, peering intently at the map. She began running back toward the city’s harbor, her eyes scanning the landscape for anything, a marker, a sign. The Kanto sea sparkled brightly to her left; she felt disoriented, frustrated at the confusing set-up of the City’s map, with all its colorful dots and slashes and triangles.

Her pace picked up, her face fully trained on the map, her ruby hair falling fast and loose across her face. She suddenly collided with a strong body with such force she felt her feet leave the ground; the rest of her body hit pavement roughly, her hands too tangled up with the map to catch herself properly. She felt the wind leave her lungs.

The man she had hit laughed, extending a hand to the fallen girl. “That’s my fault entirely. My apologies,” he said. Natalia looked up, her vision blurry; her glasses had fallen off. She found them to her right, putting them on and sitting up; her white dress was a dirty mess. She took the man’s hand, allowing him to pull her thin body off the ground.

“Thank you,” she said unsteadily, her eyes finally able to assess her savior. The man was lean but built, dressed smartly and luxuriantly. He had icy blue eyes and reedy, crimson-colored hair.

“Where were you running?” he asked, bending down to pick up the City Map for her.

“I...I, oh Arceus, um, I was trying to find Winston’s coffee shop. I’m meeting a woman, or I’m supposed to be...thank you,” she said, taking the map from him.

“Winston’s?” The man frowned. “You’re about five blocks out of the way. You really don’t know where you’re going, do you?” His face softened. “Here, I’ll walk you. I’m Gabriel,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Natalia,” she said, accepting it hesitantly; rarely were strangers so kind.

The young man gestured north. “After you, Natalia,” The two began walking up Main Street. “Who is this mystery woman you’re meeting? Mother? Friend? Lover?” he asked, his icy eyes watching her reaction like a hawk.

“Well, actually, my old grade school teacher. She and I both live in Johto, normally, but I...well, I needed to get away, and she was here visiting family, so we agreed to meet for coffee! Carrie Phelps, do you know her?”

His expression did not change. “Ah...you haven’t heard?” he asked delicately.

Natalia furrowed her eyebrows. “What?”

“I’m afraid Ms. Phelps will not be waiting at Winston’s,” he said, his tone somber. “She was tortured to insanity three days ago. She’s under emergency care at the Vermilion Hospital.”

Natalia’s heart stopped; her blood ran cold. How can that be? “You’re sure? Carrie Phelps, she’s married now, her husband’s name is Joseph, um…” She realized she had never even learned the last name of her teacher’s spouse. “She’s supposed to…”

“She’s gone, Natalia. I’m sorry.” He didn’t look sorry.

Natalia frowned. “How did you know her?”

Gabriel paused. “A friend of a friend, you could say. We did have one very intimate conversation before she...erm, snapped,” he said, carefully appropriating the correct term.

“But...no...she...she was pregnant! Her baby!” Natalia was reeling; it felt as if she were falling again, her world spiraling away from her.

“The baby isn’t dead, they don’t think,” Gabriel said. “She may still live, her baby too.” He seemed quite unaffected by this dreadful news.

Natalia stumbled. My last chance, she thought. “I don’t know where to go,” she confessed out loud. “I don’t think there’s anyone who will have me.”

The lean man looked her over. “Don’t you have family? Friends?” Natalia shook her head. “Nobody at all? You’re sure?”

Natalia was quite sure. “The only people who ever loved me are gone,” she said. “My dad died a few years ago, he…” She was beginning to hyperventilate.

“Well...if you’re quite certain you’re alone…” Gabriel was now staring at her, through her, with his icy-blue stare. Natalia sniffed; he seemed to exude a pleasant scent, like cinnamon. “I have a proposition.”

It took a great deal of persuasion to convince the young woman that joining Team Skye was a viable option, but the team was, after all, comprised of social outcasts, pariahs like Natalia. Gabriel took her under his wing, introducing her to Skylar, their leader, as well as some of their key captains; Aiden, Owen, Amy...the list went on. It seemed the team extended outward forever.

Natalia remembered vaguely that her father had staunchly hated the team, calling them ‘vagabonds who wanted nothing but chaos’. The irony that they were now her guardians and protectors was not lost on the girl.

“How do you like the outfit?” Gabriel asked, smiling at the girl’s blue jumpsuit. Amy was helping her with the shoulders, which were a little snug.

“I feel like I belong to something,” Natalia confessed. “It’s...wonderful.”

“You’re in the right place, sister,” Amy said, crossing around to observe her critically from the front. “We’re family here.”

Gabriel took Natalia’s face in his velvet-gloved hand. “Very good,” he said after careful inspection. He hit her face lightly; she gasped, stung. “I’m sorry,” he said automatically, again not sounding it. “That’s how I show respect.” His voice was slightly colder these days; it had lost the warm, charming quality she remembered from their first meeting. “What’s wrong?” he asked, looking vaguely perturbed by her sad expression.

“What would my father think, if he could see me now? Or Ms. Phelps?” she said quietly.

Gabriel exchanged glances with Amy. “Natalia, they’re gone. I’m the only one who will have you now,” he reminded her. “I mean, we, of course, Skylar, et. all,” he corrected himself as a lazy afterthought. “You will always be an outcast, Natalia. But with us...you can be alone with us,” he said softly.

Natalia couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, nor the image of her father’s disappointed face, but she steeled herself.

“What’s my first assignment?” she asked. There’s no turning back from this, she accepted grimly. You are a bad person.

…................................................. ....................................

-2009-

“Gabriel, it’s Morty. They used a Kirlia to teleport Alec Gideon out of here. We have no clue where he is, and they won’t say anything.” Morty had the Poké Gear pressed to his ear, pacing back and forth in front of Preston, Chase, and Logan. His Gengar had them paralyzed with a Disable Attack on the floor in the same spot Manaphy had created its shield. Their Pokémon had been stripped from them and taken into the back room.

“How could I have been so blind?” Preston said through clenched teeth; Disable allowed for limited movement of the head, but his entire lower half was petrified.

“How could we have known he was in contact with Gabriel the whole time? There were no hints,” Logan said soothingly from behind him; attempting to console a person was very difficult with no physical contact.

“He’s a very good liar,” Chase agreed. He was in Preston’s line of sight, his long limbs contorted oddly by the Ghost Pokémon’s stronghold.

“Really? Okay, well, I’ll stay here then,” Morty said into the phone. “Alright. Yeah, talk to you later.” The gym leader hung up, turning to address his old friend. “How are you feeling? Comfy?” he asked, laughing lightly at his small joke. His face returned to neutral very quickly. “I am sorry, to be doing this to you, Joe,” he said, his voice low. “If you knew Gabriel’s plan...well, you’ll know soon. We just need you out of the way until Alec is located, then you’re free to go. We only want him.”

“Will trusted you,” Preston said, unable to change expression, struggling desperately to narrow his eyes, curl his lip, anything; only his jaw and eyelids seemed mobile. “He trusted Johto’s safety to you.”

“Johto is safe,” Morty said. He could not seem to look Preston in the eye.

The door to the back room opened; Amy and a broad, squat man a full head shorter than her walked in, passing Preston, Chase, and Logan without a glance. “The holding cells are ready,” the black-haired woman said to Morty.

“Oh. Good...good! Yes, um, I guess, lock them up,” Morty said.

“Brodie, bring in some reinforcements,” Amy said into her Poké Gear.

After a moment, the machine answered: “What?”

“Oh, never mind,” Amy said furiously, switching the device off. “Just go and get some extra bodies, just in case...though they shouldn’t be a problem…” Amy’s eyes flickered over Preston’s still-healing leg, Chase’s long features, Logan’s slight figure. The shorter man nodded, running with surprising speed to the back room.

“How’s everything at the Tower?” Morty asked Amy, his eyes shifting nervously toward Preston.

“Gabriel’s prepared the pyre, the shrine, the outfit...everything is ready.” Amy looked at the three frozen figures by her feet. “Let’s go elsewhere, shall we?” She turned and walked swiftly towards the stairs leading upward, giving Morty no choice but to follow, leaving Preston, Chase, and Logan in the care of Gengar.

“He can’t be trying to bring Ho-oh back,” Logan said incredulously, once the door to the upper level was shut.

“You didn’t think that was his plan all along?” Preston asked grimly. “It seemed kind of obvious to me. That sounds just like Gabriel, always attempting to harness power that isn’t his...harming anyone who gets in the way,” he finished bitterly, thinking of Carrie.

“What do you mean?” Logan asked slowly.

“I told you Team Skye caused my wife’s death. Did I ever tell you who led the assault on my Carrie?”

“Gabriel?” Logan cried, horrified.

If Preston could have nodded solemnly, he would have. “Carrie had been visiting her parents in Vermilion City. She was over in Kanto for a week-long trip. I had to manage the gym, see. I...got a phone call, the most horrible call, on that Tuesday night….the nurses could only say she had been found lying unconscious in a field beyond the Diglett Tunnel...she was maimed, scarred, burned...she was found with a boy, they said, a teenager, also unconscious.” Chase gasped. “They took her to the hospital, they said, but my poor wife kept saying one name, over and over...his.” Preston’s voice darkened. “I was by her side six hours later. They...did everything they could, but she was broken. Washing away.” Tears were welling in his eyes, threatening to blind him; he could not brush them aside or prevent them from falling, hot and salty, down his stubbled cheeks. “She was pregnant, they tried everything they could to keep her alive, but…”

“I was there,” Chase said. Although Gengar was still holding their bodies firmly with its attack, the young man’s body was convulsing. “It’s coming back to me...I remember now. Oh, Arceus’ Plates, I remember, I remember it all! That was me, I was there, I was that boy.”

“What?” Logan and Preston asked in unison, alarmed.

Chase’s face was not changed, but his eyes were red and his cheeks flushed. “I watched Gabriel torture your wife,” he said slowly. “That’s why I thought she looked familiar in those pictures. I tried protecting her, he was asking her about you, he kept saying...that…” Chase was gasping for air. “He was looking for the legendary birds, and he said you would know, or something...Arceus’ Plates, oh sweet Ho-oh…”

“Chase…” Logan said in a small voice.

Preston’s heart was hammering. For a week he had been traveling with a young man who had seen his wife in her last sane moments, who had watched Gabriel inflict his evil upon her.

The door behind them opened. The squat man was back, followed by Brodie, the woman with the square jaw, a man taller than Amy, even, with long gray hair falling beyond his shoulders, and three more figures Preston could not see from his position.

“Alright, get a firm hold before Gengar lets go,” Brodie said nervously, pointing so that there were two Skye members to each body. “No, Angie, you get the old man,” he said quickly.

Logan shrieked behind Preston.

“Gengar, you can release them,” Brodie said.

Preston felt mobility return to his body, but instantly the square-jawed woman and tall man clamped down on either arm, dragging him up roughly so that a streak of hot pain shot through his right shin.

“You...you filthy, disgusting…” Logan was screaming. Chase was protesting, too, but Logan’s cries were so severe Preston craned his neck to look back.

Flanking Logan were the squat, broad man, and, dressed in a crisp new uniform, her long ruby hair pulled back, Natalia.

…................................................. ....................................

Glover
18th February 2014, 4:55 AM
If he could have seen his body during the process, it seemed likely it would have more resembled jelly or plasma than flesh and blood; Espeon’s attack seemed to liquify its targets. The only good thing that could be said about the jour I wonder if it wouldn't be unlike or synonomous to a Pokemon midst evolving?


“Teleporting over long distances is dangerous,” he explained ;)


it had been his grandfather and father, a family team who’d completed the Tin Tower’s construction, continuing the Gideon legacy of renown and splendor As architects? Or dd they build the sucker just the two of them?


“I think everyone has seen a Pokémon Center at this point,” Preston pointed out. “First-timers to Ecruteak would be more interested in seeing the towers, Morty.” I awlays hated those NPCs, "This is a Pokemon Center! It looks like every other Pokemon Center! Yay!"


“Wait!” Logan said; everyone looked at her, Morty mid-step. “I want to see if I can find a Technical Machine for Kirlia.” Upon Preston’s questioning look, she clarified: “I want to teach her Teleport; like the feeling or not, it’s pretty damn useful.” Again I ask, how does a Kirlia not know Teleport? Its like a Magikarp who can't splash, or a Metapod that can't Harden?


Alright, fine. To dinner! And then the tour...and battle…” Morty said, clearly unhappy at the current balance of power. Ah, Morty. Welcome to a Democracy. Reminds me of a story that was sold in the USPS a long time ago about Daffy Duck running for President to change the world, only to discover that he couldn't actually DO anything without the rest of Congress.


“Let’s go to the Kimono Sisters’ Sushi Palace. It’s divine.... It's Sushi...?


. “I can pay for myself,” Can. Won't.


I don’t know. When we teleported, we both heard you calling that name. And I think I’ve heard it before?”



“I’m sure you will, one day. He’s wonderful, really. Joseph loves kids!” Its a small world after all


“What’s wrong with me?” the girl asked softly. What have I done wrong? Just the luck of the draw, kid.


Morty blinked, a little disappointed. “Of...yes, of course. Come on, then, let’s go,” You should be proud, Morty. The Gym is yours, after all.


“You have the most screwed-up moral compass. None of you ask the right questions,” Or perhaps you've been answering the wrong ones?


“Of course. If time permits,” This is Alec, I don't think that's gonna be an issue. Even if he does well, his pickings are slim


Morty smiled sadly at his friend. “I’m sorry, Joe. But this is how it has to be.” The door behind his flew open; Team Skye members began pouring in from the room beyond.
Did not see that coming, how did Nat?


Chapter 16B (Apparently I need to begin writing shorter chapters...) NEVER!!!


2002-

Gonna be honest, I skimmed this. I'm sure you're setting up for something and I'll regret doing that, bu It held no interest for me and was an unwelcome interuption to the main story. There's such a thing as too much Backstory, and this was it. It reminded me that natalia is self-loathing, but I knew that, and if it needed to be told, it coulda been summarized and tucked into the last section where Chase asked her about being in Jail, either as a small flashback there or as her actually telling him that a previous boyfriend set her up.


“Joe, we don’t have to fight or do anything drastic,”
Yeah, I'm pretty sure you do.


“The Manaphy man,” said a square-jawed woman Chase recognized from the Olivine street battle; a Swellow perched on her shoulder.


“Braviary, Rock Slide. Manaphy, Hydro Pump,” Preston commanded See, this is why I wouldn't make a good character in your story. It'd be "Electivire, that half of the room. Discharge, Ready? Go!" And anything not Skarmory would be done...

Actually I am a HUGE fan of Motor Drive on all creatures, particulalry Electivire and Emolga, and would LOVE to see Skye try to get past Preston and I's Electivire if both of them were pumping a fairly good sized room full of Electricity and feeding off of each other's attacks. I at least taught mine Fire Punch too, so after crippling... I digress.

There's a lot of mis-matches here. For Pokemon with excellent battle instinct, and history in battling en-masse, a Charizard-on-Froslass is an obvious oops. Hopefully, Preston can teach their Pokemon to work in tandems better.

Similarly, while the Dark type Houndoom was a good match for Xatu and freed up Natalia's Crobat, the fact that it was wasted on that while a Servine was within "made into lunch" range of a Skarmory is a bit alarming. I;m sure Skarmory eat things bigger than that (but obviously not so large as a Surperior...) and why was a Torkoal not suddenly aimed for the Steel type?

A good battle scene, and one I'm gonna re-read. You did nopthing wrong, its just kinda telling that for all their experience, Chase and Logan have a long way to go...


Flanking Logan were the squat, broad man, and, dressed in a crisp new uniform, her long ruby hair pulled back, Natalia.Am I surprised? Not really. I had higher hopes, but at this point I'm pretty sure the only person she is not playing for a fool is Ms. Phelps, and she's dead. That's including Natalia in the pool of people she's playing...

Fun! I look forward to the next chapter, as usual. I get the feeling we're wrapping up soon though, not immediately, but we're closing in on the climax and I think moreso than the story is what kind of weight and changine it brings for the trainers.


Morty smiled sadly at his friend. “I’m sorry, Joe. But this is how it has to be.” The door behind his flew open; Team Skye members began pouring in from the room beyond.
I think that should be Doors behind him.

This is why I read other people's reviews, Thanks Pink Harzard

Pink Harzard
19th February 2014, 9:06 PM
Wow that new chapter was pretty fast. But I accidently started to read part B first ^^' Review will be in the right order though




Teleporting was possibly the most bizarre sensation Alec had ever experienced. If he could have seen his body during the process, it seemed likely it would have more resembled jelly or plasma than flesh and blood; Espeon’s attack seemed to liquify its targets. The only good thing that could be said about the journey, Alec thought, was that it ended quickly and he didn’t vomit.

That sounds cool and kinda gross at the same time. I can't remember that a Espeon can learn Teleport however...


“This place is gorgeous,” Logan breathed. Chase nodded, taking in the city’s color palate with relish - in stark opposition to the grand gold-and-silver color scheme that dominated Goldenrod, this city had a rich of-the-earth feel, resplendent with maroons and royal purple. The buildings seemed older, more robust; full of time and memories.

This reminds me so much of my Heart Gold game. I just love the way Ecruteak looks.


“Plus I hate the sensation,” he repeated, smiling slightly at Alec, who moaned an agreement, and winking at Lugia. “You’re much better at getting me places,” he promised the Pokémon, who merely released a single melancholy note of response.

That sounds so sweet. He treats Lugia like a partner and not a tool.


And the two were off, climbing into the sky, a perfect pairing of trainer and Pokémon. Champion and deity, they lifted into the endless blue, wind blowing through Will’s long hair, until they were distant specks.

First calling them trainer and Pokémon and then the other discription just show how special they are.


“I think everyone has seen a Pokémon Center at this point,”

That made me chuckle.


The blonde girl walked away in triumph carrying a pale disc labelled “Technical Machine 106: Teleport” in a gem case.

Seems like you created a new TM ;)


Natalia was sitting alone again. Lunch hour outside the protection of Ms. Phelps was nearly unbearable; none of her fellow third-year students wanted her near. The girl with the dorky glasses was too smart, too intense, had no sense of fun. This seemed to be everyone’s opinion at The Trainers’ School in Violet City.

A outcast at that age? I feel sorry for her. I didn't had a cheerful childhood myself.


“I did try! I was at a table with Alie and Sarah and Kendra, and all they did was make fun of me! Asking about my dad’s weight problems, pretending to be me…” Natalia put her hands in big circles over her eyes and pulled her front teeth over her lip, enhancing the buck-toothed quality. “‘Me, Ms. Phelps! Pick me!’” Tears were forming in the eight-year-old’s eyes, and she pulled at her long red ponytail for comfort.

Kids never bully others. It breaks them. I speak of experience.


Ms. Phelps sighed. Her eyes drifted across the crowded cafeteria, searching for a friendly peer that might sit with Natalia. Although the faces were cheerful and bright, none of the children seemed interested in the small ruby-haired girl’s plight. “Alright. Come on, then, bring your lunch with you.”

I love that teacher. She is such a sweetheart.


“See, Natalia, it’s this attitude that keeps you from making friends. Sometimes...you have to pretend, just a little, act like you’re more like them than you are.”

But what if you don't want to do that. I was stubborn as a kid. I maybe still am.


“Isn’t that lying?” Natalia asked. “Isn’t it wrong, to pretend to be what I’m not?”

You hit the nail girl.


Natalia took the pass, sniffling. “Thank you for loving me,” she said, throwing her tiny body around Ms. Phelps’ short, curvy waist.

:'/ It is sweet and sad at the same time. If you get what I mean.


“What’s wrong with me?” the girl asked softly. What have I done wrong?

Dude, you sure remind me of my own past.


“Not even to see the shrine?” Morty asked.

Preston shook his head, chuckling. “No, thanks.”

“I’ve seen enough shrines for a lifetime,” Logan said; Chase nodded in agreement.

That reminds me of one on Mt Silver...


''Favoured guests, shall we descend to the spirit world?” Morty asked, grinning.

Lol'ed at Morty trying to be spooky.


Preston put a hand on his shoulder. “You can do this. Just remember Ghost Pokémon, and Morty’s battle style, are all about stealth and tact. Very unlike yours,”

Auch


Natalia’s face was white; suddenly she yanked her hand from Chase’s, standing. “Don’t you dare!” she yelled, but it was too late; Morty released a small army of six Ghost Pokémon, pressing a button on his Poké Gear and yelling a command in a foreign language. The exit to the floor above slammed shut.

“Morty?” Preston asked, distressed.

Morty smiled sadly at his friend. “I’m sorry, Joe. But this is how it has to be.” The door behind his flew open; Team Skye members began pouring in from the room beyond.

Morty why? Traitor. (just something that went through my mind when I was reading that ;) )

I have to go now, so part B will be done tomorrow.


EDIT:

Here is the review of part B. Sorry for being late.





This had been her life for two years; since running away from her own home and her horrible stepmother, Natalia had found solace in the only boy who’d shown her kindness in her youth. Shawn Ashford had listened to her story intently, agreeing after careful deliberation to help her out, but not to take her in - “My mom would not approve,” he’d said, which was perfectly true because his eyes said so.

Her life is getting worse by the years. Natalia is Lucky for having someone who cares for her.


Natalia spent her days alone mostly, but at night, once Shawn was free from school, the two would spend hours running, laughing, holding hands - but never kissing. Kissing was for relationships, Shawn said.

Friendzoned :p


“Take better care of yourself, young man,” Natalia scolded playfully. “This book I’m reading says so long as you get proper sleep -”

“Book? I...what book?” Shawn said sharply, his posture straightening so he towered a full nine inches over his friend. “You didn’t ask me for one…”

“Oh, no, it’s - I just, was browsing, you know, and I happened to -” Natalia began, but Shawn cut her off.

“You didn’t steal it, did you?”

When did this stealing habbit begin? Just after she ran away home?


A siren sounded; three uniformed officers stepped out of the surrounding trees in a triangular formation, closing in on Natalia and Shawn; Violet City’s Officer Jenny stood in the middle. Shawn let go of Natalia’s hand, a look of extreme guilt and trepidation on his face.

“What? What’s happening?” Natalia asked, her heart racing to fever pitch; this didn’t make any sense.

“Natalia Solos, we have in confidence you’ve been stealing from our good city for the past two years, probably longer. We’ve got it all on tape,” Officer Jenny added; one of her guards held up screenshots of Natalia, barely disguised, carefully concealing essentials in her coat and staring shiftily at the cameras, her deep brown eyes frightened. The expression was mirrored on the girl’s face now, horror spreading through her body.

Busted!


“I’m sorry Natalia,” he said, his eyes lowered. Traitor!

“You...did you set this up?” Natalia asked, her voice brittle, ready to snap.

“I had to. I couldn’t LIVE with this secret inside me,” he said, guilt turning to accusation as he spoke. “I mean, it’s a criminal act, Natalia!”

That had to be a hard choice for Shawn.



“Betray is such a strong word,” Morty said carefully. “Gabriel approached me last week, very kindly, and...well, at first I was reluctant, but what he had to say made sense. He just needed my help with one thing, and that was making sure you ended up here, Alec, in the city where Ho-oh will be reborn from the ashes. He needs the Wing to harness Ho-oh’s ability! That’s all!”

Did Morty never thought about what Gabriël will do with the wing?


“I never thought I would have to do this,” Preston said numbly. He shook his head at Morty, setting his tired face and releasing Sawsbuck, Ursaring, Braviary, Mamoswine, Electivire, and Manaphy.

Wait? Preston is the one with Manaphy? That was a supprise for me. Or maybe I missed something.



“Blastoise, Skull Bash!” Logan yelled; Chase allowed himself a moment of frustration.

“I told you to get rid of that move!” he cried at Logan.

“I make my own decisions, thanks!” his old friend yelled, grunting as a Fearow swooped low, its wide wings bashing her shoulder.

Okay, that made me smile because this shows that everyone haves his or her own style.


“Froslass, can you get up there?” Chase asked his geisha-like Ice/Ghost Pokémon, who was busy with a Charizard.

I never imagined Froslaas as a geisha. But it does make sense, looking to the bow on her back.



He looked up, biting his cheek; Servine looked awfully pale.

In fact, too pale. The Pokémon was beginning to glow, a pearly light emanating faintly from his small body. Chase grinned in spite of his surroundings; Sceptile’s son was finally evolving, although the circumstances weren’t ideal for celebration.

Mid-battle evolution, Cool.


“Brave Bird!” screamed Alec’s current opponent, a young boy no older than sixteen

I remember in Diamond and Pearl team Gallatic members in the Veilstone building say to your character that you are to young to join. Seems like team Skye thinks differently about it.


Logan grabbed Alec’s hand, pulling him toward Preston’s tall figure. “Machop’s been taken down,” Alec said, his voice shaking. “I caused this.”

Does Alec feel sorry for Machop? Good thing if he starts to care for his Pokémon.


“I didn’t use Kirlia to battle for a reason,” Logan said slowly, aware that Alec would likely hate her idea. She released the small pixie-like Pokémon, looking apologetically at Alec.

Preston nodded, already understanding. “Do it.”

“Do what?” Alec asked.

“We were charged to keep you safe, always,” Preston said to the boy. Alec’s eyes widened.

“You wouldn’t -”

“Teleport, Kirlia,” Logan whispered. Before Alec could protest further, the Pokémon glowed elegantly, her light swallowing Alec, and suddenly the boy disappeared with a faint pop.

“Why didn’t you take us?” Chase asked indignantly. “Where did you send him?”

Logan shook her head. “I don’t know. Kirlia’s never used that move before. She’s not experienced enough to do it safely to more than one body, yet.”

“So...Alec could be anywhere?” Chase asked.

What if he falls in a volcano or in the middle of the sea? This isn't very safe.


“I’m afraid Ms. Phelps will not be waiting at Winston’s,” he said, his tone somber. “She was tortured to insanity three days ago. She’s under emergency care at the Vermilion Hospital.”

Natalia’s heart stopped; her blood ran cold. How can that be? “You’re sure? Carrie Phelps, she’s married now, her husband’s name is Joseph, um…” She realized she had never even learned the last name of her teacher’s spouse. “She’s supposed to…”

“She’s gone, Natalia. I’m sorry.” He didn’t look sorry.

Natalia frowned. “How did you know her?”

Gabriel paused. “A friend of a friend, you could say. We did have one very intimate conversation before she...erm, snapped,” he said, carefully appropriating the correct term.

This is just horrible. Natalia just lost the last person she could trust. And the big cause of it explains it. That makes it that more dramatic.


“But...no...she...she was pregnant! Her baby!” Natalia was reeling; it felt as if she were falling again, her world spiraling away from her.

“The baby isn’t dead, they don’t think,” Gabriel said. “She may still live, her baby too.” He seemed quite unaffected by this dreadful news.

Gabriël, you big unforgivenable duck.


It took a great deal of persuasion to convince the young woman that joining Team Skye was a viable option, but the team was, after all, comprised of social outcasts, pariahs like Natalia. Gabriel took her under his wing, introducing her to Skylar, their leader, as well as some of their key captains; Aiden, Owen, Amy...the list went on. It seemed the team extended outward forever.

Natalia remembered vaguely that her father had staunchly hated the team, calling them ‘vagabonds who wanted nothing but chaos’. The irony that they were now her guardians and protectors was not lost on the girl.

And that is how such organisations get their members.


“Gabriel’s prepared the pyre, the shrine, the outfit...everything is ready.”

Sounds like ritual equipment


Preston’s heart was hammering. For a week he had been traveling with a young man who had seen his wife in her last sane moments, who had watched Gabriel inflict his evil upon her.

That is very heavy stuff.


Flanking Logan were the squat, broad man, and, dressed in a crisp new uniform, her long ruby hair pulled back, Natalia.

I think Natalia doesn't want it. But the force of a group is heavy to withstand.

[/QUOTE]



If Gabriël succeeds in awakening Ho-oh, I expect a epic battle between Ho-oh and Lugia. I just have the feeling that could happen.

LuxRaptor
25th February 2014, 1:17 AM
I started reading this story in January. I decided that I'd get a forum account and help with feedback once I caught up. All I can say that hasn't been said is that I absolutely loved the part in chapter 14 where Logan finds the Eevee in the forest and heals her.

Bulba the Great!
8th March 2014, 10:01 PM
I wonder if it wouldn't be unlike or synonomous to a Pokemon midst evolving?

That's sort-of how I pictured it...although the image I more closely associate with Teleportation is the beam of light that sucks a Pokemon back into its ball.

As architects? Or dd they build the sucker just the two of them?

Ahaha they were the head of a team of builders. The Gideons aren't THAT mighty.

I awlays hated those NPCs, "This is a Pokemon Center! It looks like every other Pokemon Center! Yay!"

You and me both, brotha.

Again I ask, how does a Kirlia not know Teleport? Its like a Magikarp who can't splash, or a Metapod that can't Harden?

My reasoning was: If Logan taught Kirlia Teleport, why would they ever need to walk anywhere? Plus Logan didn't see the need to keep the move...pretty dem useless in battle.

... It's Sushi...?

The BEST sushi!

Or perhaps you've been answering the wrong ones?

Bingo.

This is Alec, I don't think that's gonna be an issue. Even if he does well, his pickings are slim

This is true.

Did not see that coming, how did Nat?

She's in ze know.

NEVER!!!

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. I hope you don't actually mind the length...

Gonna be honest, I skimmed this. I'm sure you're setting up for something and I'll regret doing that, bu It held no interest for me and was an unwelcome interuption to the main story. There's such a thing as too much Backstory, and this was it. It reminded me that natalia is self-loathing, but I knew that, and if it needed to be told, it coulda been summarized and tucked into the last section where Chase asked her about being in Jail, either as a small flashback there or as her actually telling him that a previous boyfriend set her up.

Hmm...a valid opinion. I wanted to include this section for a couple of reasons. Natalia is a character whose flashbacks function in a different way: She's so constructed and careful about her image that she lies, often. Flashbacks are the only way to demonstrate the actual truth of her situations. She did mention Shawn to Chase...but she twisted the truth so badly I needed to show the true story. This was, perhaps badly done, but also used to introduce the over-arching theme of this chapter: Betrayal. Natalia has been set up and betrayed so often. I wanted this to demonstrate where she acquired her acrobatic/stealth skills as well, from her time in the wild. But you do make me question its existence...

See, this is why I wouldn't make a good character in your story. It'd be "Electivire, that half of the room. Discharge, Ready? Go!" And anything not Skarmory would be done...

Actually I am a HUGE fan of Motor Drive on all creatures, particulalry Electivire and Emolga, and would LOVE to see Skye try to get past Preston and I's Electivire if both of them were pumping a fairly good sized room full of Electricity and feeding off of each other's attacks. I at least taught mine Fire Punch too, so after crippling... I digress.

Too bad Preston was fighting with a personal vendetta against Morty...and also Preston subscribes less to mass destruction, and more to "Do only the damage necessary, protect everyone'.

There's a lot of mis-matches here. For Pokemon with excellent battle instinct, and history in battling en-masse, a Charizard-on-Froslass is an obvious oops. Hopefully, Preston can teach their Pokemon to work in tandems better.

Similarly, while the Dark type Houndoom was a good match for Xatu and freed up Natalia's Crobat, the fact that it was wasted on that while a Servine was within "made into lunch" range of a Skarmory is a bit alarming. I;m sure Skarmory eat things bigger than that (but obviously not so large as a Surperior...) and why was a Torkoal not suddenly aimed for the Steel type?

A good battle scene, and one I'm gonna re-read. You did nopthing wrong, its just kinda telling that for all their experience, Chase and Logan have a long way to go...

If they were perfect, it would have been a very quick fight. I'm glad you enjoyed ze battle :)

Am I surprised? Not really. I had higher hopes, but at this point I'm pretty sure the only person she is not playing for a fool is Ms. Phelps, and she's dead. That's including Natalia in the pool of people she's playing...

QUITE insightful. :)

Fun! I look forward to the next chapter, as usual. I get the feeling we're wrapping up soon though, not immediately, but we're closing in on the climax and I think moreso than the story is what kind of weight and changine it brings for the trainers.

Four chapters to go!

I think that should be Doors behind him.

This is why I read other people's reviews, Thanks Pink Harzard

Good catch, both of you!

Glover, you're the best. Thank you.


Wow that new chapter was pretty fast. But I accidently started to read part B first ^^' Review will be in the right order though

Curse those page changes!

That sounds cool and kinda gross at the same time. I can't remember that a Espeon can learn Teleport however...

With the magical existence of TM 106 it can :D

This reminds me so much of my Heart Gold game. I just love the way Ecruteak looks.

Same! The remakes did such a good job of making Johto a truly beautiful and historic-looking place.

That sounds so sweet. He treats Lugia like a partner and not a tool.

Best friends, one mind in two bodies.

A outcast at that age? I feel sorry for her. I didn't had a cheerful childhood myself.

Preach. Natalia's experience is very close to mine in elementary school.

Kids never bully others. It breaks them. I speak of experience.

It's such a terrible way of creating false self-esteem at that age.

You hit the nail girl.

Natalia tells the uncomfortable truths.

:'/ It is sweet and sad at the same time. If you get what I mean.

I know exactly what you mean :)

Dude, you sure remind me of my own past.

Perhaps we should bond over this at some point? PM me if ya want. Because again, same.

That reminds me of one on Mt Silver...

CoNnEcTiOnS...

Morty why? Traitor. (just something that went through my mind when I was reading that ;) )

That was also Preston's inner monologue.

Here is the review of part B. Sorry for being late.

You were right on time in my book :)

Friendzoned :p

Ah, the friendzone.

When did this stealing habbit begin? Just after she ran away home?

It began when she stole for her father...and unfortunately just expanded from there.

That had to be a hard choice for Shawn.

I think he made the wrong one, but it was indeed a difficult situation.

Did Morty never thought about what Gabriël will do with the wing?

Nah.

Wait? Preston is the one with Manaphy? That was a supprise for me. Or maybe I missed something.

Yeah, he was the very same trainer! I think I had a flashback about it in Chapter Eight.

I never imagined Froslaas as a geisha. But it does make sense, looking to the bow on her back.

That's how I always identified it.

I remember in Diamond and Pearl team Gallatic members in the Veilstone building say to your character that you are to young to join. Seems like team Skye thinks differently about it.

All ages are good, here.

Does Alec feel sorry for Machop? Good thing if he starts to care for his Pokémon.

He's learning a lot in his time with Chase, Logan and Preston.

This is just horrible. Natalia just lost the last person she could trust. And the big cause of it explains it. That makes it that more dramatic.

Yeah :/

Sounds like ritual equipment

Yessir...

I think Natalia doesn't want it. But the force of a group is heavy to withstand.

It really is.

If Gabriël succeeds in awakening Ho-oh, I expect a epic battle between Ho-oh and Lugia. I just have the feeling that could happen.

The story ain't over yet...

Thanks, Harzard. You're a rock star :D


I started reading this story in January. I decided that I'd get a forum account and help with feedback once I caught up. All I can say that hasn't been said is that I absolutely loved the part in chapter 14 where Logan finds the Eevee in the forest and heals her.

This is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Thank you so much for making an account specifically to comment, Lux. It seriously means the world to me.

Bulba the Great!
8th March 2014, 10:22 PM
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Seventeen

-2009-

It felt like déjŕ vu. For the second time in his life, Alec had been put through Teleportation - and it was worse the second time around. This time, the plasma he was reduced to underwent the extra-special step of separating and sloshing about while he travelled. I’ve been liquidated, Alec had thought dully.

Kirlia’s Teleport, under-practiced and uniquely miserable, transported the fifteen-year-old to a dark gray-blue cave, full of stalactites that dripped cold water incessantly into shallow puddles on the slimy floor, puddles that eventually trickled and converged into an underground lake of sorts. As Alec felt the ground solid beneath his feet again, he realized with a shudder that he knew exactly where he was.

“Mt. Mortar,” he muttered, his skin coating in sharp, sandpapery bumps he had named ‘Rough Skin’ after the Pokémon ability. It usually accompanied a drop in temperature or uneasy feeling; in this case, Alec was experiencing an awful mixture of both.

It had been a common practice for Alec in his youth to escape into the upper, drier levels of the mountain with Amber; the two would spend their hours away from technical school kicking rocks over, searching for hidden items and stumbling across a stray Geodude every now and then. The proximity of the caves to Mahogany Town was ideal for afternoon getaways from Alec’s mother, who had simply begun ignoring him after Juliet’s departure.

Alec longed for days like those again, the carefree days of a child, without Gabriel’s looming shadow chasing him and Preston telling him where to go. I could just walk away from it all, some repulsive part of his consciousness thought. He immediately felt horrible for considering this.

A Zubat swooped overhead, its blue wings blending too well with the murky atmosphere. Alec suddenly felt panic seize him. I don’t know what to do, he realized, thinking of Logan’s face right before she sent him away, alone, from the chaos occurring in the Ecruteak Gym. He reached into his bag frantically, staring around at the shining clay-like walls of Mt. Mortar as he searched for his Poké Gear. Once he closed his hands around it, he realized with a feeling of dread that the Rainbow Wing had been left in Logan’s care. What if they find it? he thought, his pulse quickening and his mouth going dry. What if they torture her for it?

He pulled the Gear out of his bag quickly, dialing Logan’s number. The device rang one, two, three, four times...and then cut out. Alec hit the Poké Gear impatiently, checking his signal. One Voltorb...not nearly reliable enough. I must be deep underground, he thought, his green eyes taking in the glistening ceiling with a new fear. I need to get out.

He returned the machine to his bag and reached instead for his belt. He released Magby, Pupitar, and Machop, all of whom were completely exhausted by the mass attack in the gym. Pupitar was the only one still conscious, although she was battered and blackened, blinking feebly at her trainer. “Taaar…” she rasped. The pain apparent in her voice made Alec flinch. He reached out, touching her smooth gray forehead gingerly and giving what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

“What do we have for supplies?” the boy wondered aloud, reaching into his bag again. The answer was...not much. Since departing from Olivine, Preston had taken charge of the majority of medicine. Alec held one Revive, a Full Heal, and a few RAGE Candy Bars. And of course, my protein powder, he thought dully. “Once this whole business is settled, we’re going back to our exercise regimen,” he promised Pupitar. One day, his dream of being a big strapping man who could sweep ladies off their feet, as James had done for Juliet; one day, that dream would be a reality.

Alec took a long look at Machop and Magby; he had only one Revive. “I’m so sorry, Machop,” he murmured, returning the ashen humanoid to his Poké Ball; it was light he needed right now. He unwrapped a RAGE Bar, taking a small bite and then feeding the rest to Pupitar, who accepted the food gratefully. It felt odd, feeding her; she had no way of getting the bar to her mouth, now that she had no arms. He watched the slate-colored chrysalis eat the supplement, knowing it wasn’t a proper substitute for a Potion, but it was the best he could do. “Soon you’ll have a proper body,” he said. Pupitar looked somewhat offended by this. “I just mean...you know, arms and legs,” the trainer corrected quickly.

“Tar,” Pupitar grunted.

“I’m sorry,” Alec said honestly; he had not meant to insult his first Pokémon.

Pupitar finished her bar in silence as Alec turned his attention to Magby. The small red creature was bleeding gently from his right arm, the arm he’d been dragged into the air by. The Swellow’s Sky Drop had done a great deal of damage; the bulbous protrusions on his head that normally matched his scarlet color were bruised and purple, and his breath came in rattles.

“Fingers crossed,” Alec said, taking the diamond-shaped cream-colored tablet and pushing it into Magby’s mouth, helping it down by tilting his head back and pouring water down the Volcano Pokémon’s throat.

“Biiii…” the duck-like creature bleated, his watery eyes snapping open. He blinked in alarm, completely delirious and sweating despite the dropped temperature around him.

“Take this,” Alec said softly, offering another RAGE Bar to his companion. Magby took it with his tiny, trembling hands, still disoriented. “You were knocked out,” Alec explained. “We don’t have much in the way of...well, anything. Sorry about that, guys.” He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry about all this. It’s my own stupid fault I put you all in harm’s way.” His mind jumped back to Ecruteak; he saw flashes from the battle. He saw Logan, running and taking charge of offense; Chase, gritting his teeth and yelling commands desperately; Preston, protecting, his gray eyes and tired face worn; Natalia, lost and unsure. “I can’t leave them there,” he said, realizing the choice to just continue his journey without looking back simply didn’t exist. I owe them everything, he thought firmly.

“Bii, Mag by,” Magby managed, standing. There was a gentle flush of color in his cheeks, indicating at least partial recovery.

“Tar,” Pupitar chimed in, floating forward bravely despite her earlier misgivings with her trainer. Alec felt a rush of gratitude for his partners, his companions that assured he would never truly be alone.

“Recognize this place, Pupitar?” he asked, packing up his bag as he spoke. “It’s Mt. Mortar.”

Pupitar blinked, staring at the dimly-lit ceiling with her large, pale eyes. “Here. Magby, can you use Will-o-Wisp? Give us some light.”

Magby screwed up his face earnestly, fighting his tired body to produce little candles of purple, ghostly light. The cave was illuminated effectively, giving all three a more detailed inspection of their surrounding space. The ceilings hung low and shone cobalt in the new light from the small Fire Pokémon.

Pupitar immediately cried out happily; it was clear she recognized some part of her old home.

“It feels like forever since we met,” Alec said, keeping his eyes scanning for an exit. There seemed to be an area that sloped upward, the thick shadows thinning slightly and the water dripping away from the area. “Over here. Let’s begin walking,” he said. Save the nostalgia for later, he thought, training his mind on saving his friends. Whether the Alec who had first stepped foot in Mt. Mortar years ago would have walked straight into the face of danger was irrelevant; there was too much he owed to his friends. “I’m coming back,” he announced loudly to nobody in particular. The three bodies began walking carefully uphill, stooped and exhausted, but not beaten.

…................................................. ....................................

-Four months earlier-

“How was school?” Once a week, Alec was scheduled to stay with his father in the businessman’s excessively luxuriant house outside Ecruteak City instead of with his mother. Although he strongly disliked his father, he looked forward to these days solely because they were a break from the monotony of every other day in the fourteen-year-old’s miserable life. Alec was sitting at a sleek round table, large enough to seat twelve but tonight only playing host to Gideon senior and junior. Roy Gideon was sitting opposite his son, dressed in business casual and drumming his fingers on the table’s glossy veneer.

“School was...school.” Alec checked to see if his father was actually listening; oftentimes the man would maintain an entire conversation with his son while also listening to a steady stream of news on his Poké Gear’s DeapSeaTooth extension. The earpiece was out tonight, miraculously, and the man’s sea-green eyes were trained on his son. “History class was actually really interesting. He was talking about the first war, the one that created the split between our world and NeoEarth.”

“Oh?” Roy chased an olive across his near-empty plate; he was a fast eater. He leaned back, waving for Britney, his hired help, to take his plate.

“Yeah. He was saying that what was essential, the first time Ho-oh was called, to make sure everything went smoothly...what was needed was the Rainbow Wing.” Alec was keen on keeping his father engaged; if there was one thing he could rely on his father for, it was Rainbow Wing lore.

The man’s eyes flickered to the Gideons' crowned jewel, the very same Wing from the legend, the only physical proof of Ho-oh’s existence. It was placed in a glass case over the fireplace in the next room, the only place in the house visible at all points from the first floor. “Oh, yeah?” he asked, handing his plate to Britney, who took it eagerly; it was no secret that Alec’s father had formed an inappropriate relationship with the nineteen-year-old maid.

“Mhm! He said,” (Alec appropriated Mr. Donato’s distinct North Sinnoh dialect), “‘If Matteo the Savior had not been holding the Rainbow Wing after his brother, Dominic the Martyr, sacrificed himself and summoned the creature, Ho-oh would have done exactly as it did two years ago, simply purging the land of the impure.’ By holding the Wing and identifying himself, apparently, Matteo was able to save all the bad people from death, and just...create another world for them to live in, without Pokémon?”

Roy nodded, his thin lips working as he considered his son. “The creation of NeoEarth was a two-step process. Only after bodily sacrifice was given and Ho-oh was summoned could Matteo channel its powers for good by using the Rainbow Wing. Unfortunately for that poor Morgan boy two years ago, without the Wing or the Legendary Dogs, our side had no means to harness the great Ho-oh’s rage. Unchecked, Ho-oh could destroy us all. It was an act of mercy that we were spared.” He sighed. “It’s a mysterious and very powerful item, the Wing, only to be wielded by the pure of spirit.”

“But then...why do we have the Wing? Shouldn’t it go somewhere safe? Like a museum, or...I dunno, Champion Will, or…?”

Roy stiffened at this. “We have our reasons for keeping it, your Pop-pop and I.”

Alec rolled his eyes; he hadn’t called his grandfather ‘Pop-pop’ for four years. “And I guess you won’t tell me them?”

His father regarded him coolly. “Frankly, Alec, until you show any indication of becoming a true Gideon, acting your age and taking responsibility...no, you’re not allowed to know certain things. Britney, could I get the paper?”

Alec felt his temper flaring. Roy was putting his earpiece in, finished with his son for the night. “What if I’m not supposed to be like you? I don’t want to work for your company, dad, what part of that don’t you get?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Every Gideon male has run Gideon & Associates for generations, since the company’s inception.”

“Well I don’t want to be like every other Gideon male.” Alec slammed his fork down on his unfinished plate and stormed out of the room. His father didn’t bother following. Roy remained reading the Ecruteak Daily Telegraph until Britney announced lights out at eleven.

Alec waited in his room with bated breath. I’m not continuing this way, he thought stubbornly. His mind was made up; running away was the only option. But where to? As he sat on the edge of the bed in the guest room, he reached into his travel bag, pulling out the only picture he ever carried with him. Taken on his seventh birthday, Alec was frozen in time laughing as Juliet smeared cake on his upturned nose. He cupped the photo in his hands, taking in the tall woman’s long, wavy blonde hair, her almond-shaped hazel eyes and arched eyebrows, the smile that killed.

“I think she’s staying in Goldenrod,” had been Pippa Gideon’s dismissive response when Alec inquired about his former guardian’s whereabouts. “Last I heard.”

Goldenrod isn’t far from here, Alec mused. He felt sure his former guardian would welcome him with open arms should he turn up at her door. He heard Roy’s door slam down the hall, the resounding announcement that the house was officially turned in for the night.

Alec allowed ten minutes, until he was sure he heard the shower running. Roy Gideon took half-hour showers. The fourteen-year-old jumped up, taking his handsome green rucksack and checking it. I’ll need supplies, he thought, his mind wandering to the birthday money he knew was awaiting him in his father’s sweater drawer. It’s not stealing if it’s meant for me, he reasoned, tiptoeing away from the older man’s room and down the soft-rugged floor to the stairs.

He stole down the steps stealthily, carefully disarming the motion sensors and creeping to the door. He grabbed his denim jacket, throwing it over his shoulders and glancing around the rich but empty house.

As if laughing at him, the Rainbow Wing glowed innocently above the fireplace. Alec stared at it, indecisive. It wasn’t so much that he wanted it; he just wanted to get the Wing away from his father’s greedy eyes. It really is beautiful, though, he thought, his eyes tracing the delicate treasure.

He stepped into the living room, nearly tripping on the Beartic Rug (a rare import from Unova). It is technically mine, Alec reasoned, keeping his senses alert as he inched toward the Wing. Every step felt like an earthquake, but Roy Gideon continued showering upstairs, blissfully unaware of his son’s ambitions.

The glass case was right in front of him. The surface glistened, untouched except by feather duster for years. Alec reached out, trembling, gingerly and methodically removing the case from the mantlepiece. “Happy birthday to me,” he whispered, feeling the unexpected warmth of the object even through the thin crystal casing that protected it from wear and tear. The water shut off upstairs.

Alec placed the case down, empty, on the mantle again, carelessly tossing the Rainbow Wing in his bag and leaping to the door with long strides.

Outside, the air was warm and inviting, welcoming Alec and allowing him to finally exhale, as he had been unable to do so in his whole time with his father. “I’m never coming back,” he announced to Roy Gideon’s large house before turning away. He took his first steps onto the unknown path that he knew would eventually lead to Juliet.

…................................................. ....................................

-Present-

Chase kicked at the mesh fencing, yelling in anguish. This had not ceased since the three companions had been locked unceremoniously into the temporary holding cell Morty had created for them in the back room of his gym. That the cage was constructed of common Combusken Wire merely added insult to injury.

Logan and Preston made no effort to quell the young man’s rage. Logan was crying out of her fury at the situation; Preston was merely stunned, his face showing little expression. “I can’t believe her,” Logan repeated continuously. ‘Her’, of course, being Natalia, who had disappeared from the fight at the gym merely to re-emerge in full Team Skye attire, assisting some fellow peons in locking Alec’s protectors up. The three had not been searched too thoroughly; of this, Preston was grateful. Although all of their Pokémon and bags had been taken, the only item that truly mattered to him was tucked safely in an inner pocket of his stained rawhide coat. His journal hit against his chest every time the older man’s heart beat, which was often; his pulse was racing as fast as his mind.

Chase screamed once more, and then all was silent. The backroom was not lit; Preston could barely see three feet in front of him. “Chase?” he croaked.

He heard heavy breathing and a crashing sound, then felt a body hit the ground next to him. “What?” Chase asked; his voice was very close.

“Given up on your escape plan?” Preston asked dryly. Chase merely grunted. “If my leg were up to speed with the rest of my body, I’d help you,” the older man promised. Chase did not seem to appreciate the expression of good will.

“What are we supposed to do?” Logan asked. Her face floated in the darkness in front of Preston; her eyes were very red and her shoulder-length hair was matted.

“Did they take everyone’s Poké Gear?” Preston asked, knowing the answer was ‘yes’ before either of his companions responded. “I wish I could see,” he muttered, setting his mind to work on an escape plan.

“I trusted her,” Chase said hollowly. “You were right the whole time, Logan. I can’t believe I ever let myself believe her stupid sob story.”

“It wasn’t stupid,” Preston said quietly. “I think Natalia was truthful about pretty much everything she ever said to us.”

Logan’s expression soured further. “Seriously? How can you say that? You just watched her dump us in a cage on Gabriel’s orders. She tricked us completely.”

“Not you,” Chase insisted. “You were onto her from the beginning.” He sounded miserable.

“Don’t beat yourself up, Chase,” Preston said soothingly. “I believed she was on our side. She put up an excellent facade.” Preston felt intrinsically that there was more to the girl’s switched allegiance than a simple act of betrayal.

Footsteps sounded from the other side of the door. “Who’s that?” Logan asked immediately.

As if in response to her question, the door between the two rooms opened, throwing a shaft of pure, blinding yellow light between Preston and Chase, landing directly on Logan, who blinked, tears catching in her eyes. Framed against the light were two silhouettes, both feminine. “Come on,” said the taller of the two, a husky voice Preston recognized as Amy’s.

As his eyes grew more accustomed to the influx of light, Preston could see through the door into the gym; it seemed the space had become a camp of sorts for Team Skye. Flying Pokémon flitted through the room. The older man could also see the faces of the two intruders; Amy’s thick-lidded eyes and Natalia’s warm brown ones glimmered in the dark shadows cast upon their faces.

Logan let out a noise that sounded not unlike a snarl; Chase turned away in disgust, leaning against the fencing material and keeping his face determinedly emotionless.

Natalia took a step into the room. “H-hi…” she said hesitantly. Upon encouragement from her teammate, the girl moved further into the room. Amy remained framed in the doorway, her tall figure especially impressive standing with the might of Team Skye beyond.

“Get out,” Logan warned, her normally soft blue eyes narrowed and hardened so they resembled Gabriel’s more than anything else.

Natalia stiffened; her carefully concealed burns seemed to flare through the make-up on her face, just for the smallest of moments.

“Don’t let her talk to you that way,” Amy said. She was watching Natalia steadily; it seemed as if the girl were on a trial of sorts.

“I’ll talk to her however I want!” Logan yelled.

Very quickly, Amy produced a Poké Ball. “You know, I’ve always wondered what happens to to Pokémon if the ball around them is broken,” the tall woman said, tossing the red-and-white orb casually and letting it land on the floor. She stopped it from rolling with her right foot, the rough cleats of her navy-blue boot catching it fast.

“Leafeon!” Logan gasped. She clamped her mouth shut immediately, tears re-forming at the corners of her already agitated eyes.

“Amy!” Natalia pleaded.

“Nobody will get hurt if they cooperate. That’s a promise from Gabriel himself,” Amy said lazily, pulling at the forest-green glove on her right hand.

“What do you want from us?” Preston asked steadily. His eyes were narrowed as well; he had not forgotten Amy’s contribution to Carrie’s death.

Natalia stepped closer to the cage, crouching down so she was perched nimbly two steps away from the Combusken Wire. “Where did you send Alec?” she asked softly, locking eyes with Preston, as his were the only pair that would look her in the face.

“We don’t know,” Logan said despondently.

“Liar,” Amy said immediately.

“She’s telling the truth,” Chase said, not turning to face Natalia, although she was mere feet away from him. “Unlike some people.” Natalia’s eyes looked his way momentarily; Preston saw a great deal of hurt flash across the girl’s heart-shaped face.

“Kirlia only just learned Teleport. The move could have sent him anywhere.” Logan’s own gaze was fixed on her Leafeon’s Poké Ball, trapped under the Team Skye member.

Natalia looked at Amy for instruction; the dark-skinned woman looked disgusted. “You would use a technique on a human without ever testing it?” Amy asked, bewildered.

“It was necessary,” Logan said simply.

“You’ll never find Alec,” Chase said, a hint of pride in his low voice.

Natalia looked back at Chase, mouth open, then again to Preston. “How’s your leg?” she asked quietly.

Preston hesitated. “It’s been better,” he confessed, allowing the slightest of smiles to cross his haggard face.

“We’ll just have to get him here ourselves,” Amy said, her focus distant. “Gabriel did plan for something like this, as well. Attack at the heart, yeah.” Her black eyes resembled granite slabs. “Then again, maybe the Kirlia could be persuaded to tell…” she said slowly. “Or the trainer, with the right equipment.”

“No!” Logan and Natalia said together.

“Gabriel said only when necessary...he has a way to find Alec without torture on the line,” Natalia said hastily.

Amy looked suspiciously at the girl. Her Poké Gear rang suddenly from her hip; the woman grabbed it with her spidery long-fingered hand immediately, looking at the screen. “Hello? Gabriel,” she purred, turning her head so she was looking outward.

“How could you do this?” Logan asked, her nostrils flared, her pale face flushed.

“I’m sorry...I’m so sorry,” Natalia said; Preston knew the sentiment was sincere...but she was outside the cage and wearing Gabriel’s colors. “Gabriel is the closest I’ve had to family since...in a long time.” She looked imploringly at Chase. “Sometimes you do awful things for the people you love,” she said softly.

“Understood.” Amy hung up her Poké Gear and clicked her fingers impatiently. “The Phoenix is going to broadcast soon,” she said. “Come on. We’re done with them.” Natalia stood. “Brodie will bring you some food,” she said coolly before turning to leave, scooping Leafeon’s Poké Ball off the ground.

“When will you let us out?” Logan shouted.

Natalia looked anxiously at her teammate; Amy smiled, her icy-blue lips cracking. “When it’s over,” she said, striding out and holding the door for Natalia; the ruby-haired girl locked eyes with Preston once more, tears threatening to break her wide eyes. Then the doors were shut, plunging the group into a new darkness, more complete than before.

“What’s Gabriel going to do?” Chase asked dully.

“Do you think they’re going to torture Kirlia?” Logan said at the same time. Neither question was answered, merely left hanging in the thick air.

“I hope Alec is smart enough to stay away, wherever he is,” Preston said quietly. “If he tries to come back…” His voice shook slightly. “I never should have let him keep that Wing.”

“But if he doesn’t come back,” Logan said quickly, “how do we get out?”

“You’d love it if he came back, wouldn’t you,” Chase said, rather nastily. “I promise he’s loving this right now, complete freedom to run around without a care in the world. He said himself he felt like he was our prisoner.” Silence again.

“I really thought Natalia would make better choices,” Preston said, disappointment and doubt clouding his thoughts. The dark was transformative; it felt as if the group was back in the nightmarish midst of the Purpleheart Tunnels.

“You trust too easily,” Logan said, and Preston was unsure whether the girl meant to attack himself or Chase.

“Maybe I do,” Preston whispered sadly. Chase remained silent.

…................................................. ....................................

-Four months earlier-

The entrance to Mt. Mortar looked different in the nighttime. Alec had to cross through the cave to get to Ecruteak City, which would be the first major destination of his new journey as a Pokémon Trainer. Despite his misgivings, the boy felt confident; his heart was swelling at his newfound freedom, his ability to do anything without a parent to tell him otherwise.

The moon shone clearly; it was a mere crescent tonight, resembling a Lunatone more than ever, dotted with gentle craters and colored the same sallow yellow as the Moonshape Pokémon Alec had seen in his hours poring over Pokémon guidebooks. He took a deep breath, feeling his slight frame expand in his denim jacket. I need to start an exercise routine, he reminded himself, thinking of Juliet’s fiancée (although, he supposed hollowly, he was likely her husband at this point) hugging Juliet’s slight figure with his bulging muscles. The boy frowned at this image.

A ringing sounded from his bag, which alarmed him. Alec was still unaccustomed to his Poké Gear’s screeching tone; he had only finally activated the old gift from his father a week ago. He dug through his rucksack, feeling the smooth cool shape of the Rainbow Wing before locating the communication device clumsily. He pulled the machine loose, staring at the illuminated screen; a name was displayed over the phone icon, proclaiming in block letters ‘JULIET MITCHELL.’ His heart leapt. He hit ‘Accept’ hastily, watching the screen in anticipation.

There she was. Although Alec hadn’t seen the woman in two years, she was every bit as beautiful as he remembered. She had cut her hair now, so the long platinum showers of his childhood memory were replaced by a shorter, more business-like appearance. Her eyes brightened at the sight of the boy she once cared for. “Alec!” she gasped, putting a hand to her mouth and breathing heavily in relief.

“Juju,” he said without hesitation, which he instantly regretted; his old nickname for her seemed so...juvenile, now. “What’s up?” he asked in a would-be-casual voice, also noting he had affected his tone so it sounded deeper, more masculine.

“Oh, Alec. Look at you. Almost a man,” she said fondly. The word ‘almost’ stung at Alec’s ear. “Where are you right now?” she asked, frowning at the dark sky behind the boy.

“I’m...outside,” he said evasively. He couldn’t tell her that he was planning on surprising her with a visit in the coming weeks.

“Your father’s worried sick, Alec. He says he got out of the shower and found you were gone, and all your things, too.”

Alec felt his heart plummet. “Did he mention anything else?” he asked quickly; he knew the loss of the Rainbow Wing was liable to cause panic from the foolish older man.

“No, only you.” Juliet drew the screen closer to her face.

Alec was surprised at this. “Why...why did he call you about this? Why didn’t he just call me?” he asked.

Juliet looked sadly at the fourteen-year-old. “He didn’t think you’d answer him.”

Alec felt ashamed suddenly. “Well...no, I probably wouldn’t,” he admitted. “So he sent you to spy me out?” he asked.

“No. No, he knew you were miserable at home. He’s not going to chase you, Alec. He just...he wanted to let you know that he loves you,” Juliet said. A baby could be heard from her end, wailing and shrieking.

“Is that your daughter?” Alec asked, changing the subject hastily; he didn’t want to think about his father, especially when it seemed the man was behaving so uncharacteristically.

“Yes,” Juliet said, her smile returning. “Guess what we named her.”

“Danielle?” Alec asked, taking a stab in the dark; he remembered Juliet had loved that name.”

“Alexandra.” His babysitter smiled. “Alex, for short.”

Alec blinked. “Meaning…”

“It’s the closest we could get to ‘Alec’ for a girl,” she promised, her amber eyes looking at the boy appraisingly.

Alec felt the strange desire to cry. “It’s a nice name,” he managed through the lump in his throat.

“So...what are your plans?” Juliet looked intently at the boy. “I think you owe your father and mother an explanation. And I think your dad wants you to come home, even if he’s too proud to say it. And doesn’t know how to say it.”

Alec stared at his old guardian’s face, kicking uncomfortably at the ground. “Are you still living in Goldenrod City?” he pressed, trying not to sound too invested. I can’t go back there, he thought, determined to keep the forward momentum that had carried him out the door.

Juliet looked searchingly at the boy. “You’re not thinking of coming to live with me,” she said, incredulous.

Alec shut the Poké Gear off, unable to face her radiant gaze for another second. My father wants me home, he thought numbly, staring at the blank screen. It began ringing again; he denied the call with one swipe. I can’t go back, he reminded himself. He returned the device to his bag and took a determined step toward Mt. Mortar and away from commitment, looking up at the jagged dark peaks of the mountain.

She named her daughter after me, Alec thought. He wasn’t sure if this thrilled him or made him sick.

Mt. Mortar was cold and wet, the air thick and too dusty to inhale without coughing. Alec was used to this; he allowed him mind to flash to Amber briefly. I’ll tell her eventually, he thought, although he knew his friend would yell at him for his stupid, rash behavior.

Alec kicked a moldy, olive-colored boulder, hopeful it might be concealing a treasure. Much to his amusement, the boulder protested; with a shriek, it stood to reveal a Larvitar, tiny and fierce, its horn underdeveloped and a mean scar ripped across its right eye.

“Larv, TAR!” it shouted, launching at Alec. The boy cried out; he had no means to defend himself from the small green creature. The Tackle attack hit him full in the stomach, sending the boy out of the tunnel, back into the night.

Instinctively, Alec tightened his core and absorbed the blow, although the wind was still driven forcibly from his lungs. “Hey!” he managed, gasping for air. He wrapped his arms around the Rock Skin Pokémon so that it remained wrapped close to his body. Larvitar narrowed its large eyes, reaching its small arm forward and scratching at Alec’s arm as the boy held the Pokémon at an arm’s length. It’s heavy, he thought, his arms trembling. He dropped Larvitar involuntarily; the creature launched at Alec again with ferocious abandon, and it was all the boy could do to keep the monster at a safe distance.

“You don’t let up, do you,” Alec grunted, rubbing his shin; Larvitar had just headbutted the boy, piercing skin with its rocky horn. Alec found a rock by his feet and threw it wildly; the shotput found home between Larvitar’s eyes, causing the creature to wobble dangerously.

“Tar,” it said; the creature sounded female, Alec decided.

An idea occurred to him. “If only I had Poké Balls…” he muttered, thinking dully of the store of Premium Balls Roy Gideon kept locked in a safe in his bedroom. The boy took his rucksack, shaking out the contents so they landed safely on the soft ground next to him. “You’re mine,” he said, grinning, throwing the bag around the dazed Larvitar and snapping it shut, making sure only enough space was allowed for breathing, but not escape.

“Vit, Larv!” the Pokémon cried angrily, fighting the tough material keeping her captive.

Alec pocketed the discarded items from the bag, including the Rainbow Wing, and shouldered his now-full rucksack.

“Larvitar, this is the beginning of a healthy and trusting relationship,” he said wryly, taking a deep breath and stepping back into Mt. Mortar, feeling the creature squirm on his back.

…................................................. ....................................

-Present-

Alec was shocked at how normal Ecruteak City felt, knowing that mere miles from the cheerfully-colored Pokémon Center and Sushi Palace was a team of people hell-bent on reviving Ho-oh. He marched to the gym with purpose, not catching eyes with people for fear of discovering one of them was a Team Skye member. For one awful moment, he collided with a magenta-haired tall man whom he thought must be Gabriel, but it was simply a very earnest blunt-faced construction worker. Don’t be so paranoid, he told himself, strolling toward the gym with new vigor.

He reminded himself of the plan. A compromise, he thought. Just say you’ll trade the Wing for your friends. Of course, this plan had one glaring hole in it; he was not currently in possession of the Rainbow Wing. “I hope they don’t know Logan has it,” he said aloud to his now-revived Machop. All of his Pokémon had been fully restored at the Pokémon Center and were now walking with him in a loose triangular formation, a guard of sorts.

The gym loomed ahead, its clean white walls masking the corruption he knew was housed inside. He felt Pupitar, Magby, and Machop draw closer to their trainer, the four bodies moving as one: Machop and Magby on either side of Alec, Pupitar guarding at the rear. Strangely, the area around the gym was completely deserted; Alec wondered if there was some sinister reason for the emptiness.

As if in answer to this thought, his Poké Gear rang; not as a call to be answered, but as an announcement of an incoming simulcast message. Alec pulled the device from his belt, accepting the livestream request.

Alec’s blood ran cold: Gabriel’s angular face appeared, a smile spread across his taut features. His eyes were like shards of glass cutting into Alec’s skin.

“Hello. For those of you who don’t know me: Greetings and how do you do.” His tone was pleasant, but Alec felt as if each word were stabbing into his lungs, drawing breath. “I’m Gabriel. I have worked as a servant to the skies and heavens for years. As you may or may not knows, I am the head of an organization known as Team Skye. We strive for communion with those beings who may live even one step closer to the heavens, Flying Pokémon who can climb ever closer to that happy place where sky meets beyond, and Arceus dwells just beyond their reach.” Alec’s hands grew sweaty; Magby bleated in distress.

“Arceus, the bringer of all life. As many of you may know, there is only one true way to meet the harbinger of life. Ironically, it’s death. I have no desire to die, and I hope none of you in the Johto region do. It’s my absolute privilege to announce that I have found a single alternative, one more way to speak with our creator.” Here he paused, smiling so brightly Alec might have wanted to smile with him, if not for the cold talon gripped around his heart.

“Twice in our long existence as a species have we been visited by the magnificent and cruel god of fire, Ho-oh. It has pressed judgment upon us, choosing who lives and who dies. Just think! One being, one consciousness, descending from the heavens to weigh our sins and tell us who is worthy to live and who is not. You must all remember this second visit; it did, after all, occur a mere two years ago. Ho-oh destroyed the Kanto re