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View Full Version : Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning (R)



The Great Butler
5th May 2012, 8:40 AM
NOTE:

The following two links are to material that may help you if you need them.

Backstory Post - Events prior to the beginning of Operation GEAR summarized (http://nandosagi.dreamwidth.org/640.html#cutid1)

Character page on TVTropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/OperationGEAR)


And now, it all begins again.

I will give no great speech to commence the start of this story, because I don’t think there is any need for such a thing. While this is the completion of the Operation GEAR storyline, both of the previous installments were mainly introductions to the characters and world, and are absolutely not necessary to read first. The events of The Firestorm Rebellion and The Victory Star of Fate will be transcribed very early in this story as well.

As you can see, this story has an R rating, which has been approved by Dragonfree after some rigorous testing. It will be tackling some darker material than what I usually do; among these subjects are cults, extremely unethical scientific experimentation, various types of discrimination, strongly implied sexual content and homelessness. In addition, war and mental illness may be touched on, there’s a plotline about a serial killer, and a plotline will have discussion of a character who was raped – before anyone jumps to conclusions about this just from reading that, I have literally put months of work and research into ensuring that the subject will be handled tastefully and respectfully, and I can promise that it is relevant, not simply included for edginess.

If you’re still with me after all of that, thank you. Now, buckle up and prepare as we spin a tale of many different quests gone completely wrong…

|-:-|

CHAPTER 1: The Day an Angel Fell to Earth

-:-

Deep within the vast complex, a pair of white-coated scientists hurried down a cold, metallic hallway. One of them, a woman wearing her black hair in a bun, was shuffling through the papers in her hands in a panic.

“You’re saying it started a half an hour ago?” the male scientist with her said. “Why did it take me so long to be informed?”

“Thirty-four minutes to be precise, Dr. Zager,” the woman meekly offered. “And the team had to stabilize her immediately, otherwise you wouldn’t even have the time to get here.”

“It’s that bad?” Zager adjusted his thick, round glasses and picked up the pace of his stride. “I was afraid of this happening…”

The pair arrived at a large door bearing the symbol of a double helix twisting into a shape resembling the letter ‘P.’ Zager withdrew an identification card printed with his photograph and touched it to a scanner next to the door, causing it to give way.

The laboratory within was a clutter of computer equipment. Another, smaller door lay on the opposite end of the room between two system towers. A loudspeaker system was set up to connect the two sections of the lab, and at the moment Zager and his aide entered, it was filling the air with the sound of a woman’s agonized screams punctuated by the beeping of a heart monitor. Several other scientists were doing their best to handle the situation at their computers, but the frantic mood in the room was overwhelming them.

Without hesitation, Zager ran to his main workstation, a thick laptop running imaging of a DNA strand. A tiny, yellow spider Pokémon jumped up on the table next to it, but Zager waved her off.

“Joltik, not right now. I’m busy.” Reaching into his pocket again, Zager took out a disk, inserted it into the computer, and typed a command.

The computer responded with the text, “GENETIC ENCRYPTION PASSKEY ACCEPTED. ACCESSING POLARIS AMINO BASE MAINFRAME. AZRAEL PROJECT OPERATING SYSTEM, VERSION 7.3 ACTIVATED. USER LOGIN: GABRIEL ZAGER. NINTH OCTOBER, YEAR 1987. System ready…”

The moment the login sequence ended, Zager typed in, “Activate voice command input system.”

“SWITCHING TO VOCAL INPUT MODE. VOCAL INPUT MODE CONFIRMED.”

“Alright, now that that’s settled… turn on direct voice communication, control room to procedure room.”

“CONTROL ROOM TO PROCEDURE ROOM VOICE COMMUNICATION STATUS: ACTIVE.”

Turning his head up, Zager said out loud, “Chimere, I’m here. Give me some idea of what’s happening to you!”

“What do you… think?!’ the woman in the next room screamed back, in between bouts of gasping for air. “You… you all promised me…”

“...that this wouldn’t happen, I know…” Zager finished, hanging his head.

“Dr. Zager, we’re standing by for your orders,” another voice, this one male, said from the procedure room. “We have to do something.”

“She needs painkillers…” Zager’s aide suggested.

“No, Barbara, we can’t…” the doctor swiftly contradicted. “Computer, bring up the most recent full-body imaging scans. Heat, energy, all of them.”

“ACCESSING FULL BODY IMAGING RECORDS, FIFTH OCTOBER, YEAR 1987. LOADING.”

Images of a woman’s body appeared on the screen, and when Barbara saw them, she gasped. “It’s… taken over her body…”

“See, you didn’t pay as close attention to these as I did.” Taking hold of the mouse next to his keyboard, Zager clicked through the images. “I think you see what I mean now, but… computer, bring up blood flow and immune response, side by side.”

“BLOOD FLOW AND IMMUNE SYSTEM RECORDS.” The charts Zager requested appeared on the screen.

“See, look at this. It’s been developing all these months but these are the worst it’s ever been.”

“You’re right, Doctor…” Barbara whispered. “We give her medication of any sort with most of her blood flow going right to the child, it’ll end up going right there with everything else. Who knows what would happen…”

“We played God and this is what we got…” One of the scientists working in the room with Zager and Barbara suddenly stumbled away from his computer. Shaking violently, he turned in the direction of the room where Chimere was suffering. “We did this. We killed her. All for a foolish, idiotic dream...”

The man’s body gave out on him, leaving him to fall against a nearby desk. He started to gag, then wretched the contents of his stomach into the waste bin next to him. Soon after, another of Chimere’s screams pierced the room, causing Zager and Barbara to jump.

“Chimere? Chimere, stay with us, here! You’ve gotten this far, you can make it!”

“You...lied to me… Zager… just… just get this thing out of me and end this! I don’t want this anymore!”

“Computer, real-time body imaging…”

“REAL-TIME BODY IMAGING ACTIVATED. SCANNING. LOADING.”

As soon as the scan of Chimere’s body appeared on Zager’s screen, his face sank. Taking a deep, labored breath, he typed a new command.

“Deactivate voice command input system.”

“DEACTIVATING VOCAL INPUT MODE. SWITCHING TO MANUAL TEXT INPUT MODE.”

Picking up on the tension in her superior, Barbara nervously asked, “Dr. Zager?”

“She… no. There’s no way she’ll survive. Not with that amount of blood going to the child. I should have realized this would happen when I saw the tests…”

“What do we do, then?”

Before Zager could answer, Chimere’s screaming reached earsplitting volume, accompanied by what sounded like something violently hitting against a plastic surface.

“Dr. Zager!” the male scientist in the procedure room shouted. “I think we’re out of time… my… my God…”

Zager and Barbara just kept staring at the computer’s screen as the screaming got louder and louder, having long passed the point where Chimere could form any coherent words. The tension in the room increased every time the heart monitor beeped.

And then, the screaming broke and abruptly ceased. The heart monitor droned on with an unending tone.

“It’s over…” Zager mumbled, “...I hope.” He then typed in the command, “Are there any life readings at all?”

“SCANNING. LOADING SCAN… LIFE SIGNS VERIFIED.”

Understanding the meaning of those words, Zager uttered, “Chimere, find a rest worthy of what we did to you…”

“W-what have we done…” the scientist in the procedure room mumbled.

“I hope whatever deity there is up there has mercy on our souls…”

“Why, Zager? This should be a cause for celebration.”

Both Zager and Barbara spun around to face a video screen mounted on another wall. The individual addressing them from it was obscured by shadows, with only a pair of light-filled glasses clearly visible.

“F-Father,” Zager uttered in fear. “Please…”

“I am not angry with you, Zager.” When the man Zager called ‘Father’ spoke, it sounded as if several people were talking at once, obscuring his true voice. “I am quite proud. It seems your program has born fruit for Polaris.”

“I can only wish it had worked out according to the vision I had for this program. You… you told me this was meant to be research for helping cure disease. I don’t understand why it had to go like this…”

“I didn’t lie to you, Zager. This will help rid mankind of disease as we know it. It will also do much more than that. It’s about time I told you about the true vision of Polaris… the true meaning of the Azrael Project.”

-:-

-:-

Four years ago
May 1, 2008

The years had not been kind to the Polaris research team. As time passed from that fateful day in 1987, member after member fell away from the group. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the scientist who had lost his composure in Dr. Zager’s lab that day was the first to go; he simply stopped attending work within a few months of the incident and disappeared, rarely being spoken of again as the result of some unwritten rule. Over the next few years, the others peeled off one by one, some quitting the organization for their own reasons, others simply disappearing without a word. Finally, at the end, Dr. Zager himself disappeared from Polaris’s ranks, following a series of highly disappointing reports on the status of the child created that day, Azrael.

Perhaps coincidentally, Dr. Zager’s disappearance was fourteen years to the day Azrael was born.

Many more members joined Polaris over the intervening time both before and after Zager’s departure, plenty of them scientists and doctors, but of the original team that worked to create Azrael, only three remained. Barbara was one, while the two men, their faces now plagued by lines of age and their hair now graying, still worked in Polaris’s labs as well. Not much had changed over the years, even with the vast upgrades their technology had received.

“I think Father’s finally lost his old mind,” one of the scientists bitterly said to the other, as they both sat at computer consoles. He gestured to the object of their current experiment, a large test tube between the two computers, which contained a tiny speck of fleshy matter floating in green liquid. “He hasn’t been the same since Azrael failed, but this? This is ridiculous.”

“I hear you. There have been some odd experiments we’ve worked on, but communicating with a brain synapse? Dr. Zager wouldn’t have wasted Finansielle’s funding like this. This guy in charge now is just insane.”

“What’s that? Did I hear you two discussing me?”

Without the notice of the two scientists, a third man had slipped into the room behind them. He could be distinguished by his prematurely-graying hair, styled with two spikes on the right side, three on the left, and two long bangs hanging over his bespectacled face. Perhaps more startling, though, was the giant scar that formed a blood-red arc across his visage. His clothing was mainly shades of black and gray, though the coat he wore beneath his cape was outlined with yellow.

Immediately, the two scientists, who were clearly subordinates of the third, stiffened up from nerves.

“Well, no, of course we wouldn’t be, sir…” the first fumbled.

“You know, you’re a terrible liar. I overheard everything. You’re lucky we’re on such a tight schedule, though. What you call a waste of Finansielle’s money is actually a vital project for Polaris’s plan, vital enough that it just got you off of a punishment for insubordination. What’s the status of Project J?”

“There have been no responses thus far, sir,” explained the second of the underlings. “However, Project J has showed continued molecular stability and zero signs of degeneration.”

“Excellent, that means it’s still perfectly preserved. Continue trying to reactivate it, and let me know if it…”

The sound of beeping from the computer console interrupted the man’s sentence, but it turned his expression into one of excitement. Readouts on the screens that had previously displayed only straight, flat lines now were spiking and falling rapidly.

“I… really? Project J… it’s communicating with us, sir!”

“Switch over to real-time translation of those waves!”

Sufficiently cowed by his superior’s joyous outburst, the first of the two scientists swiftly entered a command into his computer, replacing the wave patterns with lines of written text.

“Hello? Where am… I?”

“The laboratory of Polaris,” one of the men typed in response. “We’ve separated you from your body and kept you alive.”

There was a pause as the entity in the tank considered what it had been told. “What do you intend to do with me?”

“Sir?”

The leader of this rather odd team leaned over one of the computers and typed in his own comment. “We are going to see if we can create a new body for you and put you in it. We want to see if you will survive.”

“Please, give me a new body! I want one! Give me a new body and I’ll work for you, even!”

“I can’t believe this is actually happening,” the first scientist whispered out loud. “Project J is fully active.”

“I must present this news at the next meeting of the Sacred Helix,” the leader declared, pulling a golden mask in the shape of a feline Pokémon from his black cape and affixing it to his face. “This development is an important day in the progress of Polaris’s goal.”

-:-

Present day

Light shining down from several large spotlights illuminated the two women contained within the circular desk fixture. Shackled and dressed in rags, they presented a strange, unsettling sight, and this was not helped by the blank facial expressions both wore as they slowly danced around the circle.

The first of the two women to speak was the one with flowing purple hair. “When the vast white flame of truth burns out…” she said in a breathy, flat voice, “…and the deep black thunder of ideals dissipates into nothing…”

“That gray void of nothing…” her counterpart, distinguishable by her green ponytail, completed. “That is the Day of Reckoning.”

“Thank you so very much, Anthea, Concordia,” uttered one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm. This man was the only one of the seven to not be wearing some kind of mask, instead opting for a red eyepiece that covered only his right eye. His entire appearance was fittingly bizarre – his pale green hair had a trio of strands hooking around, one on each side and another atop his head. His clothing was even stranger, consisting of a black, tattered cape hemmed with red; underneath it was a jet-black suit accentuated with yellow bands around the wrists. Apparently a designation of his rank, his seat was identified with the number ‘3’ on the front of his desk. “Fellow members of the Sacred Helix, as you can see, the traitorous waste known as the Tenganist people know information that will assist us in pursuing our true ideals!”

“We didn’t need your Gypsy carnival dance show to learn that, Ghetsis.” This was the man from the science lab overseeing Project J, who now wore his mask to hide his scarred face. He was sitting at the seat numbered ‘8.’

“Watch it, Jeunes,” reproached the number-four executive, a woman whose nearly-full head and shoulder armor left her slightly-aged-looking nose and mouth areas as the only indications of her gender aside from her voice. “There is no need for such pettiness between members of the Sacred Helix. You have all been chosen for a reason.”

“Yes, Finansielle. Please forgive me.”

“Might I also urge Jeunes to remember he’s the leader of section eight while I’m the head of section three,” Ghetsis saw fit to add, turning his sarcasm on his colleague.

The man sitting at the seat for section number two would have none of this. “And I would urge you, Ghetsis, to remember your place. You had all three Angels within your grasp in Unova and you let them slip away. That failing set us back by years and cost a substantial amount of funds to recover from. We cannot sustain any such failure again.”

Ghetsis could not respond. His incredible pride was damaged, and it left him unable to do anything but stare at the man who had belittled him. Staring back was that man’s own unique mask, which loaned him the appearance of a Darkrai; the left half of his face was covered by flowing white plumage, while an opaque eyepiece in a half-circle shape covered the right.

-:-

“The big story that everyone’s talking about tonight is the upcoming meteor shower surrounding the closest pass of the meteor Persephone-2213 to Earth in over a thousand years, and we’ll be back in a few minutes to get more in-depth on it.”

It was night in the Pewter City Museum of Science, and as such, the building was dark and empty. Only a single night watchman – a portly, gentle-looking individual - remained, and he was perfectly content to remain in his security booth watching the news on television and snacking absentmindedly from a box of doughnuts.

His complacence was directly the reason why he did not notice the infiltrator who slipped into the museum.

Moving quietly and blending into the shadows, the mysterious invader slipped past several displays of relics from ancient cultures. As interesting as those displays were to him, he had a mission and intended to stick to it. At the entry to a larger hall, he stopped and glanced carefully around, eventually spotting a security camera positioned up on the wall straight ahead.

He leaned down and smiled. “Do you really think such a feeble defense can stop me?”

On the wall next to him was a fuse box sealed with four screws; luckily for the thief, he had come prepared with a screwdriver. He wasted no time in using the tool to remove the screws, and once they were gone he removed the metal plate from the console, exposing the blinking lights of the fuses within.

Quietly, the thief raised his right arm, causing the material of his bodysuit to make a stretching sound. The air around his hand crackled with static electricity, ending with a lightning bolt flowing from his palm into the fuses, overloading them and blowing out the entire museum’s power.

In his booth, the watchman had finally taken notice of something amiss when the lights went out. However, he was too slow to act, and when the power system shorted out, the museum went into automatic lockdown – which included the door in and out of his small room.

While the guard cursed the door and attempted in vain to work it open, the intruder was completely unaffected by the lockdown. With a special silver briefcase in hand, he strode across the wide hall to a certain exhibit – a pair of shining glass orbs, one with angular, uneven surface, and the other with a smooth surface.

Setting the briefcase carefully on the floor, he read the sign in front of the exhibit out loud, “Adamant Orb and Lustrous Orb.”

These treasures were his objective, so he set about the process of taking them. Aware of an invisible laser barrier shielding the two orbs, he set his hand down on the edge of the exhibit platform, sending a surge of his electricity through it. The two pedestals supporting the pair of orbs each suffered a small explosion and collapsed, dropping the precious items down to the ground, where they were no longer within the boundaries of the laser barriers.

Knowing that he could not reach the Adamant Orb and Lustrous Orb manually, the intruder searched around the room for something to use, ultimately settling on a yellow-and-blue hooked staff once wielded by an ancient king. This tool was originally placed next to a replica of a similarly-colored sarcophagus, but now, the burglar simply used it to carefully pull the orbs to himself. He collected the orbs one at a time, setting them carefully within the foam outlines inside his briefcase.

His work finished, he sealed up the case and started walking back the way he came. However, something caught his eye on the way, prompting him to stop. It was a relief cut into white stone, depicting three humanoid Pokémon with long tails riding on clouds.

“The Legendary Pokémon said to have been sealed on Emeraude Island, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus…” He chuckled as he shook his head. “It’ll have to wait, but your time will come…”

Abruptly turning around, the enigmatic figure discovered another exhibit, one that excited him even further – a large capsule, roughly seven or eight feet tall, sealed at its top by an airtight lock.

“So we meet at last, Zoroark…” The thief could barely contain the thrill in his voice as he slowly approached the capsule. “You’ve been trapped in there for so long, but please wait just a little longer. I promise to you that I will return and free you, and at that point, your reign will begin!”

-:-

Route 26, right on the border between Johto and Kanto, was a long, lightly populated stretch of land. One of the few buildings on the road was a florist shop, heavily overgrown with many kinds and colors of flowers.

A fairly nondescript black car pulled up to the shop, and its driver stepped out. He was a tall man dressed in a heavy black trench coat, using a fedora and a pair of dark sunglasses to further conceal his identity. As he strolled deliberately into the shop with a suitcase in his hand, he was greeted by its counter clerk.

“See anything you like around here?” the clerk inquired, gesturing to the countless flowers around the inside of the building. He was perfectly able to talk despite his identity, in fact, being a Meowth didn’t seem to reduce his humanity at all. Once he got a better look at the customer, however, he froze. Turning to the back room, he yelled, “Hey, you two, get out here!”

“Be quiet, Meowth, we’re coming.”

The fiery red-headed woman who replied to Meowth’s call soon appeared, alongside her somewhat-effeminate-looking male companion. Both were dressed in plain brown clothes, and the male half of the duo had blue hair of a moderate length. The only unusual characteristic between the two of them was the extremely long ponytail worn by the woman.

Both took a moment to analyze their visitor. Glancing over him, they did not immediately react, but when he removed his sunglasses to reveal his vivid green eyes, they realized who he was.

“Pierce, what are you doing here?” the man asked, hushing his voice deliberately. “Things changed, don’t you know?”

“And I’m here to tell you things have changed again,” Pierce forcefully explained, his deep voice almost shaking the room. “Jessie, James, Meowth, I have orders related to me from the boss to come here and pick you up. Do you have your Pokémon?”

Jessie and James checked their belts; she had two Poké Balls, while James had one. After verifying this fact, they both nodded to Pierce, who replaced his glasses and turned for the door.

“Come with me. There’s a car outside waiting for you.”

Though they were confused, Jessie, James and Meowth followed Pierce anyway. Once they were outside and walking to Pierce’s car, though, Jessie decided to confront him.

“Just what is this all about, Pierce? You come here, barge in and disrupt our lives… you know you have no right to do that.”

“You left your suitcase back there, too…” added an equally-disturbed James.

Pierce did not answer, instead, he silently led the trio to his car and beckoned them in through a door that he opened for them. Once they were seated, he got into the driver’s seat and closed his door, then raised up his hand and snapped his fingers.

Outside, the building Jessie, James and Meowth lived in exploded in flames. All three of them gasped, and much to her frustration, Jessie’s Wobbuffet escaped from its ball to join the chorus of dismayed groans.

“What do you think you’re doing, you punk?!” Meowth screeched.

“Code Black Seven has been initiated by Giovanni,” Pierce uttered while staring straight ahead. “The lives you knew are now at an end.”

Immediately, the mood in the car changed. Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were all cowed by Pierce’s announcement, and their attitudes became somber.

“That means Polaris has finally made its move, then,” Jessie commented.

“Is the boss alright?” James asked immediately after Jessie spoke. “We aren’t too late, are we?”

“Giovanni is fine, but he is under house arrest and being closely monitored. I have been sent to escort you to the Executives who will be commanding your operations from this point forward.”

-:-

A gentle breeze blew through New Bark Town, a peaceful district in the Johto Region’s southeast. Once a completely residential location that required its citizens to take the short stroll to nearby Cherrygrove City for supplies, time had passed and the touch of tourism had arrived; a few hotels, shops, restaurants and other facilities now stood anachronistically alongside the stately wooden homes and power-generating windmills.

One such building was a twelve-floor hotel and spa that towered over much of the town. Lodging was provided from the third floor up, while dining and shopping took up the second floor and spa services occupied the first.

The spa offered hot tubs within private spaces for rental usage. Two women and a younger girl were lounging in one of these units, attempting to relax after several stressful days. They were watching the same news broadcast as the security guard at the Pewter Museum.

“Experts predict that the closest point of Persephone-2213 will not come for several more months, but the meteor showers resulting from its debris field have already begun. Some small meteorites have gone astray from their field and struck the planet, but none of them are large enough to cause significant damage. One of the larger meteorites crashed two weeks ago at the Ruins of Alph in central Johto, and excavation is about to get underway to examine it.”

“Nekou, Bunny, isn’t that interesting?” said the girl, her voice somewhat tempered by her worn nerves. She moved around, allowing her long, curly blue hair to drift gently in the water. “I think I should thank you guys, too. I’ll find my dad with the help you’re giving me.”

“You’re very welcome, Olivia,” responded the woman who was farther away from the girl, who could be distinguished by her two ponytails formed from her warmly brown-hued hair and her striking blue eyes. “You’re Matt’s apprentice, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t help you out too.”

“Ordinarily I’d just say to watch out for yourself and no one else, but this time, I’ll have to agree with Bunny.” The woman in the middle was perhaps the most unusual of the three. She wore glasses and had hair colored black with red streaks that flowed everywhere, and her left arm was held up by a white sling. A huge bruise occupied her left shoulder, forcing her to switch her right hand between the can of beer and tube of potato chips she’d placed next to herself. “Counting on others is a good way to be disappointed, Olivia. But if you can find someone that is worthy of your trust, well… that’s pretty cool, you know?”

“It’s worth noting, though,” Bunny commented as Nekou took a huge slurp out of her beer before crunching a mouthful of chips, “that it’s Matt’s money paying for our luxury accommodations right now.”

“He’s always like this,” explained Olivia, “even when it’s completely out of place. He’s always trying to do favors to try and convince people he’s nice, or something. He shouldn’t have to do so much to make people like him.”

“That sucks pretty ****ing bad,” Nekou blurted out, not bothering to check the expletives that came out in her bored-sounding speech even though Olivia was around. “I mean, I’m not complaining, I get a free spa trip out of it. I’m just saying that I don’t believe in trying to cover or apologize for who you are. When people pulled that on me, I told them to shove it. I couldn’t live like that.”

Bunny took a deep breath, feeling awkward due to Nekou’s casual outburst. Deciding to transition the conversation to a different topic, she said, “So, Olivia, you’re going to finally get a starter Pokémon and become a formal trainer tomorrow. Have you given any thought into what Pokémon you’ll choose?”

“Well, Professor Elm can offer me Chikorita, Cyndaquil or Totodile, right? I could go with Totodile, since it’s a Water-type. My dad would approve of that. But… Cyndaquil is really cute, too, but I don’t know if I could go with a Fire-type…”

“Shifting gears from the meteor shower,” said the voice of the newscaster on the television near the hot tub, “we now bring you an update on another story that’s been gripping the nation: the serial killer known as Kiss of Death.”

Olivia, Nekou and Bunny had their conversation interrupted by the news report, but as they became interested in what the report had to say, they weren’t bothered.

“The Kiss of Death killer has struck again. Melvin Clemens, a management director for the Angel Corporation, was found brutally murdered in his Viridian City apartment last night. Fitting with the pattern of her previous crimes, the scene was left completely, spotlessly cleaned of all signs of her presence. Only the horribly mangled body of Mr. Clemens was left behind, and all DNA evidence was removed, leaving only the signature imprint of the shape of the killer’s lips in the victim’s blood on him.”

The screen then changed what it displayed, replacing the newscaster with a bony-faced man whose rigid gaze was framed by thick eyebrows and thin, flat black hair. Olivia nearly jumped out of the water, as she recognized him immediately.

“That’s Detective Looker!” she exclaimed, before explaining, “He helped us out five years ago! You know, back when my dad was still around to fight the bad guys…”

“Don’t dwell on that,” Nekou said sharply, “let’s listen to what he’s got to say now.”

“Developed have we a picture of definition on this most vicious serial killer,” Looker spoke on the television. “All of the murders being associated with this killer have exhibited the signs of sameness, yes. Always the victim’s body gets dropped and left behind in a terribly mutilated state of being, along with the calling card of the killer’s signature, her lips being cast in the blood of the dead one. All genetic evidence that would show leads is, sadly to be saying, destroyed at the scene of each and every committed crime.”

“You know, a story like that is kind of romantic in a sense.”

“Romantic?” hissed Bunny, her voice completely giving away how much Nekou’s comment bothered her. “It’s a sick mass murderer! How can that be romantic?”

“Well, think about it. Maybe she has more motives than simply just killing. And for the romantic part, I mean, she only kisses every one of her victims with their own blood on her lips. I can’t help but feel like there’s more to the Kiss of Death story is all I’m saying.”

Having spent the last few minutes absorbing the words of those around her, Olivia suddenly blurted out, “I wonder where Matt is? I thought he said he was going to join us.”

“Oh, he’s probably off jerking around somewhere, probably literally.” Nekou sighed and sipped her beer before adding, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get some pizza and leave him out of it. **** him if he doesn’t want to hang out with us.”

-:-

Though she was wrong, Nekou probably would have made the same joke even if she truly did know about what was going on four floors above them.

Most of the lights in the spacious room the quartet shared were out, aside from the lamp on a desk near the window. Additional light floated from the room’s television – tuned to the same news report as the one in the spa – as well as from the blue tablet computer in the hands of the tall, leanly-built man sitting on one of the beds. He was dressed in a simple white shirt made of light material and black pants.

Matt was staring emptily at the screen with his right eye, his left covered by an eyepatch patterned with a purple rose. The object of his depressed fascination was a photograph, depicting a younger, less-disheveled version of himself standing with a younger Olivia and two others, a suited man with spiky blue hair and a vaguely tomboyish woman whose purple hair was bobbed short.

Feeling a spike of sorrow, the man adjusted his glasses and brushed aside the lock of his shoulder-length blonde hair that hung over his right eye. He then reached to the table, taking an ornate silver flask in his right hand and sipping from it before returning it to its place.

“All of the people whose lives have been destroyed or lost just to get to this point…” Sliding his finger across the tablet’s screen, he brought up a new photograph. This one was of a young woman wearing a frilly green dress that gave a soft complement to her ice-blue pigtails and eyes. He felt another horrible pang of sadness when he set eyes on this one. “Rich, Anabel, Eleanor, Agenta… I’ll take all the grief surrounding you onto myself. It’s my fault all of this happened, and I’ll make my quest for the truth bring you justice.”

-:-

The next day, clouds were beginning to gather over New Bark Town.

Bunny, now wearing a stately black-and-gray business suit, and Olivia, who was wrapped in a blue cape with silver lining, were waiting in the lobby of the resort. They were unable to leave until Nekou and Matt joined them, so they were conversing further between themselves.

“So did you make up your mind yet, Olivia?” Bunny thoughtfully asked, genuinely curious about Olivia’s pending choice of starter Pokémon.

“I’m going to take Totodile,” the girl decisively declared, tapping her pink boots against the floor in an alternating fashion. “Cyndaquil is very cute, but I can’t just ignore the fact that Totodile is a Water-type. Surely, if I enter the Pokémon League and Grand Festival with a Water-type starter Pokémon, my dad will have to take notice, right?”

Bunny nodded, but she could not find any words to verbally answer. Olivia bringing up her father, Rich, and his own preference for Water-types put Bunny in an awkward positon. She did not want to lie to Olivia, but at the same time, she felt an obligation to respect Matt’s wish to not tell Olivia of Rich’s death as well.

Luckily, the situation disappeared by itself when Nekou came swaggering into the lobby with a croissant caked in icing in her hand. The neckline of her black blouse was rather low, exposing quite a bit of her cleavage, while her midriff was also uncovered due to only one of the buttons on the garment actually being closed; as a result, the bottom of it moved around over her ruffled black skirt. Her gait was further exaggerated by the boots she wore, which went up to her knees, and the socks that continued from there to her thighs.

“You shouldn’t worry about what your dad thinks about your choice,” Nekou advised Olivia in a rather blithe manner. “Live for yourself. Do what makes you happy. Is Totodile the one you truly want for yourself?”

“It is,” Olivia confirmed with a quick nod. However, her mood quickly darkened when she attempted to come up with an explanation of why. “It’s a Water-type, and if I don’t pick a Water-type…”

Leaning down, Nekou put her hands on Olivia’s shoulders and looked straight into her eyes. “Don’t worry. Even if you don’t have any idea right now… you’ll find something. You’ll find your place where everything is as it should be, and when you do, you’ll know.”

“I…” Unable to find enough words for a proper response, Olivia looked away from Nekou in shame. “I’m sorry. I have to find him no matter what I have to do.”

“That’s okay. You’ll come across your truth eventually. I trust you.”

“Nekou, have you seen Matt anywhere?” Bunny stepped in to ask. “Did you see him on the way down here?”

“I haven’t seen that bastard anywhere,” Nekou replied, rising to her full height as she did so. “Maybe we should just leave his *** here.”

“That bastard, as you call him, is right here.” Now dressed in a blue longcoat with silver edges and yellow feather patterns on the lapels, Matt stepped closer to the others after arriving in the lobby himself. He also had a dark blue messenger bag printed with a logo of the wingspan of a white dragon Pokémon slung over his right shoulder. “I was arranging for the resort to send our property ahead to Cherrygrove City. What have I missed? Did I hear that Olivia decided on her starter Pokémon?”

“She had it narrowed down to Totodile or Cyndaquil and picked Totodile,” Nekou said to Matt, informing him of the previous conversations, “but that doesn’t mean much if you didn’t want to hang out with us.”

“Oh please, Nekou, spare me. Let’s just be here to support Olivia today, alright?”

Nekou grimaced at Matt, having been seeking more of a rise out of him than she got. Perhaps, then, it was a good thing that Bunny provided a distraction by refocusing the conversation on Olivia herself.

“Did you already tell Minccino and Roselia about your choice?”

“Not yet, Bunny, but I will. Let’s get going to Professor Elm’s lab.”

Olivia rushed ahead and out of the hotel, forcing Matt, Nekou and Bunny to run after her. This led them outside into the busy common area of New Bark Town, which still served as its community center despite the modernizations of the area. They weren’t far from Elm’s laboratory, so it took about seven minutes at this brisk, fast-walking pace for the entire group to reach the building marked “Elm Pokémon Lab,” a humble, two-story house that was beginning to look out of place in the quickly-modernizing town.

“Well, this is it,” Matt mused, looking up at the lab. “Once we pass through that door, there’s no turning back. Are you ready, Olivia?”

“Hell yeah, I am! Let’s go!”

“I love your energy,” Nekou remarked before pushing the button next to the door, causing it to slide open.

Inside the lab was a rigid but warm-looking place, filled with shelves and computer units. Despite the obviously scientific nature of the facility, it still came off as a welcoming place, well-suited to the place where trainers would collect their starter Pokémon.

“Professor Elm, I’m here for my starter Pokémon!” Olivia called out.

At that moment was when what would be the first of many strange events took place.

Olivia and the others were expecting to see an awkward, nerdy-looking man with glasses and brown hair, but he wasn’t there. Instead, the only person present in the lab was a woman, wearing her hair in a thick ball, who had a briefcase at her side. She seemed just as surprised to the group as they were to see her.

“Professor… Juniper?” Nekou breathed, thoroughly confused.






END of CHAPTER 1

Bay
5th May 2012, 9:48 AM
YAY, IT'S FINALLY HERE! :D

Nice to see Zager in his younger years, though Azrael's birth is just...woah. D: As for Project J and the Sarced Helix, very interested on both.

The museum break in scene, oh boy Zoroark is returning eh? Looking forward Zoroark's role in this story (I think it's hinted in the trailer, but I forgot and probably will have to read the trailer again :x ).

Like the interaction with the ladies there. LOL to be honest I would react badly to Nekou thinking The Kiss of Death is romantic. As for Matt, I'll admit while I feel sorry for him at the same time it's a bit tiring seeing him being obsessed with him trying to avenge their deaths/griefs. I know you have plans for Matt's development though, so don't worry too much about that little criticism of mine, heh.

The next scene, all I got to say is YAY JESSIE, JAMES, AND MEOWTH! Can't wait to see what you have in store for them.

The last scene, yeah I'm wondering about why Professor Juniper is here too. .__. Didn't expect that! (if that was hinted in the trailer too, again forgot urgh).

So yeah, this has been my jumbled thoughts on the prologue while reading this at midnight. XD Can't wait for Chapter One!

Morpher01
5th May 2012, 1:42 PM
And so, it has arrived.

Interesting opening scene. I already have some theories regarding the various projects Zager and the Polaris scientists were working on, but I'll reserve those for a later time.

Ah, the trio returns! Welcome back to Jessie, James, and Meowth. I am curious to see how you'll adapt their humor, though. And also, Mark Hamill as Ghetsis is awesome. XD

Hmm...I suspect we'll be learning more about the guy who took Zoroark's Lock Capsule from the Pewter Museum. I also suspect the "Kiss of Death" killer will be appearing in person at some point.

Now for Olivia beginning her journey. Juniper's in charge of distributing Johto Pokemon? Elm's dead, then, isn't he? Something I've been wondering, though, and I've been meaning to ask:


“Did you already tell Minccino and Roselia about your choice?”

So...what exactly happened to Combee?

Can't wait to see more. This is already getting interesting!

Avenger Angel
5th May 2012, 5:12 PM
Hmm, don't ask what drew me here, usually I don't read fan fiction any more, but I found the title to be intriguing and sounded cool, so I figured, why not?

I figured I'd handle this review in parts.

OCTOBER 9, 1987

The intro seems pretty well-written in terms of description, and you introduce Doctor Zager, but you don't mention his name until a little later. By then, it's a bit too late, and as the reader, I kind of lost sight that Zager is the one who is the "young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, etc."

You also capture emotions pretty well, but the characters don't really reflect on them, such as thinking about the what could happen, why they're worried, and what the consequences are. All of these things would provide a massive amount of insight to the reader, would draw out Zager's character, and make it easier to follow. From his dialogue, he believes in the success of the project at all costs, and is under some kind of pressure, but we don't know from what or who. As anyone's guess, it could be from a possible superior of Zager's (possibly his enigmatic father), the money that was invested into the project, a possible race against some kind of deadline, or something else. As the reader, I can only guess.

Lastly, you conclude this little intro part with the foreshadowing of things like "purpose of Polaris" and "the Azarel Project." A good question to ask here is... how long should the reader hang onto remembering these bits and pieces before they become relevant?

I can tell you were trying to use this intro into hooking the reader, making sure the suspense and intrigue was there so they wouldn't hit the back button. It's there, but it's a bit confusing. Dr. Gabriel Zager's intro is a little ambiguous at first. I feel it would have been better to address him by full name right away rather than hold off until another character addressed him (and didn't even use his full name).

After this, you had a list of names, followed by "Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning" and I can't really figure out what the purpose of that was. Who... exactly are these people and why are their names listed here?

Anyway, moving on.

MAY 1, 2008

We're skipping ahead 21 years, and we find out Dr. Zager's team is disbanding, and he's disappeared. You mention Polaris a second time, but the reader still doesn't have a clear picture what exactly Polaris is. Yes, I remember the double-helix P mentioned very early in the story, but as for the faction/company/agency's foundation and purpose, we still don't know. You mention the labs, but so it helps give the reader a slightly better idea of what kind of entity Polaris is, but you leave a lot of it still in the dark.

Another name, Finansielle, is mentioned. However, we're not sure if this is a person, the name of a faction, a company, or whatnot. Then, you mention Project J. As the reader, I'm still trying to hold on to figuring what "Polaris," "Azarel Project," and "Finansielle" are supposed to be, so I kind of feel like I'm getting buried by trying to hold onto remembering these bits and pieces that don't really have any foundation of an introduction. Then, to top that all off, you mention "the Sacred Helix," again, with nothing to remember it by.

So far, I've got:

Polaris - Some kind of research laboratory, but not sure who or what they are about, why they were founded, and why they're attempting to accomplish these things. Gradually, you're getting better at establishing what this entity is, but there's still a massive amount of detail I feel you're leaving out.
Azarel - Not much besides they were born 21 years ago.
Finansielle - Absolutely no idea who or what this is.
Sacred Helix - No idea either.

This is a LOT of expectation on your reader to try and remember these things that sound like they're crucial to the story, but unfortunately, you give extremely little insight as to what they are. Unless you provide insight on them relatively quickly, yes, people are going to forget and lose track of them as they read on and start remembering other things.

PRESENT DAY: PART 1

You introduce Ghetsis, but again, only mentioning the name when another character addresses him after putting a good bit of description about him. I really don't know why you do this. It's kind of like saying "it's got a chair, a bed, a tv, a couch, a ceiling fan... it's my apartment!" instead of just telling us outright "hey, this is my apartment and this is all the things it has so you can remember it by." It's easier on the reader's head. Saying "uttered Ghetsis, one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm" would have been perfect. You're going to tell us his name soon anyway, right? It's too much like getting a handful of water (all the details about Ghetsis) before getting the bucket (Ghetsis's name) to put it all in. This kind of reverse description is kind of hard to swallow.

Besides that, I like the way you introduced him as being a cynical douchebag. Then you have someone address him, a man from the science lab overseeing Project J (more water without a bucket), with a mask on his scarred face (more water, can't carry it all!), sitting at seat number 8 (oh crap, it's spilling!), and then...

"Watch it, Jeunes," - Whew, a name to apply that all to! Okay, this wasn't nearly as bad as with Ghetsis, but again, reverse introduction. Why!? When you introduce a friend of yourself to someone else, you don't start with all the things they do first, you introduce them by name first. Really, this is kind of becoming a pet peeve of mine. I like this story's description and the way it tries to keep its characters mysterious, but I highly recommend tossing this reverse introduction habit away.

So we have Ghetsis and Jeunes. Then you finally introduce Finansielle, again... via reverse description. -.- But we're closing in the gaps a tiny bit and the reader finally knows that this council is the Sacred Helix that was mentioned before, but it's still very mysterious and we only know a very little bit about it. We never find out who is sitting in chair #2, however, but we can figure out he's some kind of ominous, imposing figure. We also hear a tidbit about the "Three Angels" and that it was a pretty big blemish on Ghetsis's track record with the Sacred Helix, but we're mostly left in the dark about that also.

You're doing a little better in terms of bridging the gaps, but metaphorically speaking, we have no idea what the heck you're cooking for dinner. I like what it's all alluding to, but it's a very patchy exposition that does feel like it's moving too fast.

PRESENT DAY: PART 2

This museum has got to have the worst kind of security on the planet. Hate to say it, but zapping one camera would NOT kill a museum's entire security system. I know this probably isn't that relevant to the story, but you're kind of Hollywoodizing it with something like that.

So, you have him (a shadowy, electricity-loving guy) recover the Adamant Orb and the Lustrous Orb. We know they're important because they were in a secure (not really) display case. You then introduce Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus, but again, no insight to their role or what they even are despite being Pokémon. And then, Zoroark. Yet another bit on top of a pile of ambiguity we don't really know what to do with yet.

Again, I'd have to say you're introducing too much, too fast. Most of us are still trying to remember what was going on with Azarel and the Sacred Helix, along with Ghetsis, Jeunes, Finansielle, and all those other guys...

PRESENT DAY: PART 3

So, you introduce Nekou, Bunny, and Olivia in New Bark Town. Their introduction is kind of hard to follow, however.

Olivia starts off unnamed, just being the girl with worn nerves and curly blue hair. One of the other two addresses her by Olivia, so we are able to tie that together (why oh why with the reverse description!?!?). The one who calls her Olivia is a woman with two ponytails, brown hair, and blue eyes. We don't get her name either, and then a detail about being "Matt's apprentice" strikes up another name we should try to remember in the midst of all this. We don't know if she's Bunny or Nekou. But then we read "Ordinarily I’d just say to watch out for yourself and no one else, but this time, I’ll have to agree with Bunny," which comes from the girl who's wearing glasses, has black hair that has red streaks. Only through process of elimination are we able to figure out:

Olivia - worn nerves and curly blue hair.
Bunny - two ponytails, brown hair, blue eyes.
Nekou - wears glasses, and has black hair with red streaks and the injured arm.

That, good sir, is a pain in the neck to deal with as a reader. Especially with the truckloads of other things going on in this story. Meanwhile, we don't know who Matt is quite yet, but we can assume he's a good friend of the three girls and is providing a good time for them. But they feel he's "trying to do favors to try and convince people he’s nice, or something," so we get the impression he's using his money to paint over the ugly parts of himself, or at least from Olivia's perception. Nekou just kinds of deals with it, but she agrees that Matt's a con-artist.

We hear mention of the meteor shower again, a tiny detail that was mentioned in Present Day: Part 2, but as a reader, I'm not sure if this is important or not. I'm guessing not really considering I feel like there's other stuff that's way more crucial. But we hear about the Kiss of Death killer having murdered Melvin Clemens of Angel Corporation. So immediately, we're introduced to three more entities:

Kiss of Death Killer
Melvin Clemens
Angel Corporation

Followed by Detective Looker, who Olivia is shocked to see on television. We learn the Kiss of Death Killer has a kind of signature of a bloody kiss, but leaves no DNA evidence (epithelial cells from her lips don't count?).

But again, you introduce more and more, and leave a LOT of loose ends to tie together.

PRESENT DAY: PART 4

So we find out what's happening four floors above the girls. We get some description, we find out he knows Olivia. Then we get more names... Rich, Annabel, Eleanor, and Agenta, all people that this mysterious man feels responsible for. We don't know if this is actually Matt or someone else. We don't get his name either.

It does make this significantly tougher to follow.

PRESENT DAY: PART 5

Route 26, flower shop. Again, we have two figures, a tall man dressed in a heavy black trench coat, and the clerk. Doesn't take too long to realize Meowth's the clerk while Jesse and James are in the back, but again, you only tell us their names... much... later... on. -.-

And we also have Pierce, the tall dude. They step out, follow Pierce, and follow him to his car. The florist shop blows up for reasons we don't know. Then we get more ambiguous details. Code Black Seven, and Giovanni. We don't know what these are about either (assume the reader knows nothing about Pokémon and nothing about him). And then... "the Executives." Period. Again, extremely little insight.

PRESENT DAY: PART 6

We're back to Olivia, Nekou, and Bunny traveling through New Bark Town, this time accompanied by Matt, who we know likes to cover up his mistakes by using his money, but we don't know what he looks like. The girls discuss Olivia's choice of a starter Pokémon... though she seems to have a Minccino and a Roselia already (we don't know who or what they are either, but you're assuming the reader already knows they're Pokémon). We hear from Matt, but we don't know what he looks like.

Lastly, just as the girls are getting excited, they find Professor Juniper instead of Elm. Interesting turn of events, but we still don't know what they're about. Is it because of Polaris, the Kiss of Death killer, or something else? Anyone's guess at this point.

MY BOTTOM LINE

To sum it all up in one sentence... you introduce WAY too much, WAY too fast.

Your descriptions are generally pretty good, but you never described Matt, and we have a great physical and emotional description on a mystery man (Part 4), but we never get his name, so it kind of goes out the window because the reader doesn't really have any anchor to remember it all by. Then we have a massive shopping list of things that get mentioned (Azarel Project, Angel Corporation, etc), but never explained in depth. We don't know what's important and what's a touch and go detail that may never get mentioned again. Angel Corporation could be something that plays a vital role, or it could be nothing.

You could say "hey, it's a Prologue," but either way you slice it, it's too much to swallow in one bang, and you really don't give too much for the reader to warm up to in each "cut scene" (not to mention a whopping eight scenes is a ridiculous amount of stuff). Just as the reader is slowly getting a gist of what's going on in each of these scenes, they're over, and they're expected to remember what they read, absorb it, and now get ready for a whole new dosage of details as the revolving doors make a smoothie out of their brains.

And again, I need to mention the reverse description. Some people may like it, but from my personal standpoint, it's awful. I thought the mystery man's name would have been mentioned later, but it never was. And it made figuring out who was Olivia, Bunny, and Nekou a total headache by having to find out their names and then backtrack to learn and imagine what these girls looked like (and even that description was a bit limited). I nearly lost what I remembered about Gabriel Zager because of the delay, and for remembering Ghetsis, it was no fun either.

You mentioned " both of the previous installments were mainly introductions to the characters and world, and are absolutely not necessary to read first," but as a totally new reader to this, I can't help but feel they are.

My advice... SLOW DOWN, and TAKE THINGS EASY. If you want to focus on Scared Helix, Azarel, and that stuff in your prologue, that's great, but then go more into detail with that, and save Olivia and the other things for later. Same thing with Jessie, James, and Meowth (heck, the reader may not even know what "Meowth" even is).

Anyway, I hope this provided a little more insight from the prospective of a new reader. It sounds like you've got an interesting development here, but I think it needs help when it comes to getting organized, presented, and delivered to the reader.

Matori
6th May 2012, 6:54 AM
This was an excellent prologue.

You did a really good job setting the scene in the first flashback. The description of the noises and sights in the lab were really well described and it was very atmospheric. The dialogue also did a really good job of setting the tension in the scene.

The action is all really mysterious so far and the pacing is great. I especially appreciate how you're introducing the cast fairly gradually, and I'm happy seeing Olivia and Nekou back to their regular selves. Their chemistry is adorable and they're great as a pair.

And yay Trio! Great work getting their characters right on target, and bringing them in this early as well. I'm interested in what lies ahead for them.


Overall, great work on all of this. I'm really looking forward to chapter 1.

The Great Butler
6th May 2012, 10:23 AM
Some great posts so far. I want to talk to all of you, so I'm going to split Neo Pikachu's post off into its own separate reply so I can cover everything.


YAY, IT'S FINALLY HERE! :D

YES. YES IT IS.


Nice to see Zager in his younger years, though Azrael's birth is just...woah. D: As for Project J and the Sarced Helix, very interested on both.

All things you'd probably benefit from remembering, though I'm sure you guessed that. They're all connected in more ways than you might thing.


The museum break in scene, oh boy Zoroark is returning eh? Looking forward Zoroark's role in this story (I think it's hinted in the trailer, but I forgot and probably will have to read the trailer again :x ).

It wasn't hinted at aside from the last line of the scene being in the trailer. That said, Zoroark does have a very important role to play.


Like the interaction with the ladies there. LOL to be honest I would react badly to Nekou thinking The Kiss of Death is romantic. As for Matt, I'll admit while I feel sorry for him at the same time it's a bit tiring seeing him being obsessed with him trying to avenge their deaths/griefs. I know you have plans for Matt's development though, so don't worry too much about that little criticism of mine, heh.

Actually, it's probably a good thing that you feel that way. Obviously he's going to feel that way for a while still, but discontent is the first step to getting him to change from it.


The next scene, all I got to say is YAY JESSIE, JAMES, AND MEOWTH! Can't wait to see what you have in store for them.

I think it'll be quite interesting.


The last scene, yeah I'm wondering about why Professor Juniper is here too. .__. Didn't expect that! (if that was hinted in the trailer too, again forgot urgh).

No, it wasn't in the trailer, but the reason will be given quite quickly, so don't worry about speculating too much.


And so, it has arrived.

Interesting opening scene. I already have some theories regarding the various projects Zager and the Polaris scientists were working on, but I'll reserve those for a later time.

Ah, you and your ever-present theories, Morpher. Part of me almost wants to invite you to PM them to me so I can see what you're thinking.



Ah, the trio returns! Welcome back to Jessie, James, and Meowth. I am curious to see how you'll adapt their humor, though.

I've worked on a few possible ways of doing it, and you should be seeing them shortly.


And also, Mark Hamill as Ghetsis is awesome. XD

And that's why he is Ghetsis, exactly. XD


Hmm...I suspect we'll be learning more about the guy who took Zoroark's Lock Capsule from the Pewter Museum. I also suspect the "Kiss of Death" killer will be appearing in person at some point.

Right on both counts, though he didn't take the Lock Capsule. He only said that he would come back eventually to take it.



Now for Olivia beginning her journey. Juniper's in charge of distributing Johto Pokemon? Elm's dead, then, isn't he?

It's... going to turn out a little more differently than this.


So...what exactly happened to Combee?

I got completely stuck on this one. In hindsight, I probably would have never done that chapter in XD^3 where she caught Combee if I knew it would end up this way.

Combee still exists, it just isn't one of the Pokemon she carries on her. It's probably living with Anabel.


This was an excellent prologue.

You did a really good job setting the scene in the first flashback. The description of the noises and sights in the lab were really well described and it was very atmospheric. The dialogue also did a really good job of setting the tension in the scene.

Excellent, that's what I was aiming for.



The action is all really mysterious so far and the pacing is great. I especially appreciate how you're introducing the cast fairly gradually, and I'm happy seeing Olivia and Nekou back to their regular selves. Their chemistry is adorable and they're great as a pair.

That's excellent as well. I want it to be mysterious and guess-provoking, and I also am pleased that you're able to get into the characters as they're being introduced.



And yay Trio! Great work getting their characters right on target, and bringing them in this early as well. I'm interested in what lies ahead for them.


It was actually quite difficult to get them precisely right. Even getting them in character for a short scene is obviously quite an encouraging first step.



Overall, great work on all of this. I'm really looking forward to chapter 1.

Thank you!

Neo Pikachu, in order to give your comments fair space, they will be in the next reply.

The Great Butler
6th May 2012, 11:39 AM
Hmm, don't ask what drew me here, usually I don't read fan fiction any more, but I found the title to be intriguing and sounded cool, so I figured, why not?

Well, that's what a title is for, is it not? I'm glad it worked.

Okay, let's get down to business.


The intro seems pretty well-written in terms of description, and you introduce Doctor Zager, but you don't mention his name until a little later. By then, it's a bit too late, and as the reader, I kind of lost sight that Zager is the one who is the "young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, etc."

I have to admit, I'm having a little bit of trouble completely understanding how you lost track of it. He was the first and only character shown in the room being focused on at first, only sharing the space with the voices on his intercom. When another character (the scientist who became ill) came in, context of authority was placed around Zager to distinguish him. From that point forward, I think a clear identity dynamic was established, so maybe we just don't see it the same way. I can certainly understand where you're coming from, I'm just looking at it and I'm not totally sure I agree with it.


You also capture emotions pretty well, but the characters don't really reflect on them, such as thinking about the what could happen, why they're worried, and what the consequences are. All of these things would provide a massive amount of insight to the reader, would draw out Zager's character, and make it easier to follow. From his dialogue, he believes in the success of the project at all costs, and is under some kind of pressure, but we don't know from what or who. As anyone's guess, it could be from a possible superior of Zager's (possibly his enigmatic father), the money that was invested into the project, a possible race against some kind of deadline, or something else. As the reader, I can only guess.

On this one, you are coming close to answering your own question. This was not meant to be a scene of particularly huge insight or deep thought or what have you, the purpose was to deliver some partially connected details in a vivid situation (the urgency of it being why they did not have time to stop and reflect on much of anything, which comes later) which in turn would initiate a process of thought and speculation in the reader. Really, by speculating on things, whether you were right or wrong about any one specific subject, you really did get the point entirely.

On your guesses: you're close on Zager's personality. He doesn't necessarily believe in the project itself at all costs, but instead, he desperately wants what they did to not have been in vain. If they pulled the plug on the experiment at that point, both the experimental host and Azrael would have died, and their deaths would have been meaningless. He didn't want them to die without anything coming of it.


Lastly, you conclude this little intro part with the foreshadowing of things like "purpose of Polaris" and "the Azarel Project." A good question to ask here is... how long should the reader hang onto remembering these bits and pieces before they become relevant?

They will continue to be touched on throughout the story, as they have great importance to the plot, but there will not be a single dump of information. The view of their roles in the plot will evolve into greater clarity as further events drive them to do so.


I can tell you were trying to use this intro into hooking the reader, making sure the suspense and intrigue was there so they wouldn't hit the back button. It's there, but it's a bit confusing. Dr. Gabriel Zager's intro is a little ambiguous at first. I feel it would have been better to address him by full name right away rather than hold off until another character addressed him (and didn't even use his full name).

I think I'll have to disagree respectfully on this one. I personally feel a little well-placed ambiguity is an effective tool in hooking a reader, which goes back to what I said earlier about fostering speculation. I also don't feel spelling out his name entirely at once is really necessary, but again, maybe we just disagree.


After this, you had a list of names, followed by "Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning" and I can't really figure out what the purpose of that was. Who... exactly are these people and why are their names listed here?

An easter egg for certain readers taking the form of opening cast credits, which went wrong due to a missing center tag that's been fixed.



We're skipping ahead 21 years, and we find out Dr. Zager's team is disbanding, and he's disappeared. You mention Polaris a second time, but the reader still doesn't have a clear picture what exactly Polaris is. Yes, I remember the double-helix P mentioned very early in the story, but as for the faction/company/agency's foundation and purpose, we still don't know. You mention the labs, but so it helps give the reader a slightly better idea of what kind of entity Polaris is, but you leave a lot of it still in the dark.

Deliberate. Their true nature and purpose is meant to develop slowly, though some more focus will be given on these subjects in the next chapter that will bring a slight bit more clarity as well as link them together with other, currently-unrelated plot elements.


Another name, Finansielle, is mentioned. However, we're not sure if this is a person, the name of a faction, a company, or whatnot. Then, you mention Project J. As the reader, I'm still trying to hold on to figuring what "Polaris," "Azarel Project," and "Finansielle" are supposed to be, so I kind of feel like I'm getting buried by trying to hold onto remembering these bits and pieces that don't really have any foundation of an introduction. Then, to top that all off, you mention "the Sacred Helix," again, with nothing to remember it by.

I can see where you're coming from once again, though I would point out that I don't feel it difficult to ascertain that Project J is the experiment playing out on-screen in this scene. If Project J's full backstory was given immediately, it would reveal important information that cannot come out yet, and the experiment's actual details are seen right in the scene.

I think I can identify the difference in opinion that's keeping us from seeing eye-to-eye completely. You seem to prefer having a bit more information made clear right away, while I prefer to lay out vague details first to provoke speculation and then link those details together as the plot moves forward. Your approach is certainly just as valid as mine, we just see things differently.


This is a LOT of expectation on your reader to try and remember these things that sound like they're crucial to the story, but unfortunately, you give extremely little insight as to what they are. Unless you provide insight on them relatively quickly, yes, people are going to forget and lose track of them as they read on and start remembering other things.

What I do agree with is that there is quite a bit going on. Things will quickly focus into a more tightly-formed package, however, and you will begin seeing ties between these seemingly unrelated plot threads develop almost immediately, while details on these different entities come to light. I think it is mainly overwhelming right now because a lot is being introduced together, but I'm not terribly worried about how it will begin stabilizing next chapter.


You introduce Ghetsis, but again, only mentioning the name when another character addresses him after putting a good bit of description about him. I really don't know why you do this. It's kind of like saying "it's got a chair, a bed, a tv, a couch, a ceiling fan... it's my apartment!" instead of just telling us outright "hey, this is my apartment and this is all the things it has so you can remember it by." It's easier on the reader's head. Saying "uttered Ghetsis, one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm" would have been perfect. You're going to tell us his name soon anyway, right? It's too much like getting a handful of water (all the details about Ghetsis) before getting the bucket (Ghetsis's name) to put it all in. This kind of reverse description is kind of hard to swallow.

Is it okay if I use this paragraph to highlight my thoughts on "reverse introduction" on the whole so I don't have to keep going over it?

I think, once again, that this is merely a matter of us approaching the situation in two different ways. I can give you a definite answer as to why I did it, though - previously, I had a bad habit of introducing characters and then simply listing their characteristics. By weaving their names into dialogue, it helps to facilitate description being attached to action, I think.


So we have Ghetsis and Jeunes. Then you finally introduce Finansielle, again... via reverse description. -.- But we're closing in the gaps a tiny bit and the reader finally knows that this council is the Sacred Helix that was mentioned before, but it's still very mysterious and we only know a very little bit about it. We never find out who is sitting in chair #2, however, but we can figure out he's some kind of ominous, imposing figure. We also hear a tidbit about the "Three Angels" and that it was a pretty big blemish on Ghetsis's track record with the Sacred Helix, but we're mostly left in the dark about that also.

Indeed, you can see links taking shape, which I think is a better storytelling mechanism than simply spilling all the details at once. For example, it wouldn't make any sense for Jeunes to speak of Finansielle as if his scientists had never heard of her before, so if he dumped "Finansielle who is in charge of section #4 and controls our budget" to them in the previous scene, it wouldn't make any contextual sense.

If it helps at all, eight of the ten Sacred Helix leaders will be present together in the first real chapter and be named, while the remaining two missed the meeting but will also get identified.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, stating everything directly immediately would, in my opinion, be counterproductive. I don't think the reader can get as much excitement at all if they don't try to solve the meaning before the story reveals it.


This museum has got to have the worst kind of security on the planet. Hate to say it, but zapping one camera would NOT kill a museum's entire security system. I know this probably isn't that relevant to the story, but you're kind of Hollywoodizing it with something like that.

Well, he was shorting it out by forcing a charge through the camera back into the wiring, but yeah, you're right on this one.


So, you have him (a shadowy, electricity-loving guy) recover the Adamant Orb and the Lustrous Orb. We know they're important because they were in a secure (not really) display case. You then introduce Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus, but again, no insight to their role or what they even are despite being Pokémon. And then, Zoroark. Yet another bit on top of a pile of ambiguity we don't really know what to do with yet.

All foreshadowing for later. These will all have important roles to play, but not immediately.


Again, I'd have to say you're introducing too much, too fast. Most of us are still trying to remember what was going on with Azarel and the Sacred Helix, along with Ghetsis, Jeunes, Finansielle, and all those other guys...

This character is actually a lot more connected to Polaris and the Sacred Helix than you'd think at first glance, and the first real chapter will make it all clear. Don't wonder long on that because you don't need to.



So, you introduce Nekou, Bunny, and Olivia in New Bark Town. Their introduction is kind of hard to follow, however.

Olivia starts off unnamed, just being the girl with worn nerves and curly blue hair. One of the other two addresses her by Olivia, so we are able to tie that together (why oh why with the reverse description!?!?). The one who calls her Olivia is a woman with two ponytails, brown hair, and blue eyes. We don't get her name either, and then a detail about being "Matt's apprentice" strikes up another name we should try to remember in the midst of all this. We don't know if she's Bunny or Nekou. But then we read "Ordinarily I’d just say to watch out for yourself and no one else, but this time, I’ll have to agree with Bunny," which comes from the girl who's wearing glasses, has black hair that has red streaks. Only through process of elimination are we able to figure out:

Olivia - worn nerves and curly blue hair.
Bunny - two ponytails, brown hair, blue eyes.
Nekou - wears glasses, and has black hair with red streaks and the injured arm.

That, good sir, is a pain in the neck to deal with as a reader. Especially with the truckloads of other things going on in this story.

Surprisingly enough, I actually agree with you on this one. I painted myself into a bit of a corner by setting up a scene where there were three characters all of the same gender with no distinctive clothing present to tell them apart, literally leaving me with just the hair color and Nekou's glasses and injured arm to use for distinction. This was entirely a trap of my own making.


Meanwhile, we don't know who Matt is quite yet, but we can assume he's a good friend of the three girls and is providing a good time for them. But they feel he's "trying to do favors to try and convince people he’s nice, or something," so we get the impression he's using his money to paint over the ugly parts of himself, or at least from Olivia's perception. Nekou just kinds of deals with it, but she agrees that Matt's a con-artist.

This is roughly accurate, though it's a bit more casual in tone. He isn't a con artist; your assessment of Olivia's view is closer to the truth.


We hear mention of the meteor shower again, a tiny detail that was mentioned in Present Day: Part 2, but as a reader, I'm not sure if this is important or not. I'm guessing not really considering I feel like there's other stuff that's way more crucial. But we hear about the Kiss of Death killer having murdered Melvin Clemens of Angel Corporation. So immediately, we're introduced to three more entities:

Background stuff that will be brought back up. Like, they're things that will be going on in the background and affecting the plot more and more. The meteor shower is going to become an influential plot point quickly enough.

Melvin Clemens on the other hand is simply a murder victim who had to be given a name. He is meaningless.


Followed by Detective Looker, who Olivia is shocked to see on television. We learn the Kiss of Death Killer has a kind of signature of a bloody kiss, but leaves no DNA evidence (epithelial cells from her lips don't count?).

Let's just say that she is really, really, REALLY good at cleaning up after herself.


So we find out what's happening four floors above the girls. We get some description, we find out he knows Olivia. Then we get more names... Rich, Annabel, Eleanor, and Agenta, all people that this mysterious man feels responsible for. We don't know if this is actually Matt or someone else. We don't get his name either.

It does make this significantly tougher to follow.

I'll have to give that part a look again, because it's sounding like there are parts of it I overlooked putting in.

-Well, there was supposed to be a strong implication from the first sentences that it was Matt in the room. Though, I do see places that can be improved in that scene.



And we also have Pierce, the tall dude. They step out, follow Pierce, and follow him to his car. The florist shop blows up for reasons we don't know. Then we get more ambiguous details. Code Black Seven, and Giovanni. We don't know what these are about either (assume the reader knows nothing about Pokémon and nothing about him). And then... "the Executives." Period. Again, extremely little insight.

On this specific subject, almost all of this information is going to be given in the very next chapter.



We're back to Olivia, Nekou, and Bunny traveling through New Bark Town, this time accompanied by Matt, who we know likes to cover up his mistakes by using his money, but we don't know what he looks like. The girls discuss Olivia's choice of a starter Pokémon... though she seems to have a Minccino and a Roselia already (we don't know who or what they are either, but you're assuming the reader already knows they're Pokémon). We hear from Matt, but we don't know what he looks like.

Half agreed. I actually did put some description of his appearance earlier, but I overlooked supplying a sufficient amount, and that will definitely have to be dealt with.


Lastly, just as the girls are getting excited, they find Professor Juniper instead of Elm. Interesting turn of events, but we still don't know what they're about. Is it because of Polaris, the Kiss of Death killer, or something else? Anyone's guess at this point.

Well, that's pretty much how it's supposed to be. You'll find out very soon.


To sum it all up in one sentence... you introduce WAY too much, WAY too fast.

Your descriptions are generally pretty good, but you never described Matt, and we have a great physical and emotional description on a mystery man (Part 4), but we never get his name, so it kind of goes out the window because the reader doesn't really have any anchor to remember it all by. Then we have a massive shopping list of things that get mentioned (Azarel Project, Angel Corporation, etc), but never explained in depth. We don't know what's important and what's a touch and go detail that may never get mentioned again. Angel Corporation could be something that plays a vital role, or it could be nothing.

And I'll say that while I don't agree with every single point you raised, I have to say that you really did give a thorough and insightful review, and you did raise some very, very good points.

The things that appear to be dead-ends information wise will be getting focused on and linked together quickly. You are right, however, that the problem lies not necessarily in the events but how they're introduced and presented. I'll definitely work harder on making the general tone and cohesiveness of the rest better.

I also will go back to add the missing Matt description.


You could say "hey, it's a Prologue," but either way you slice it, it's too much to swallow in one bang, and you really don't give too much for the reader to warm up to in each "cut scene" (not to mention a whopping eight scenes is a ridiculous amount of stuff). Just as the reader is slowly getting a gist of what's going on in each of these scenes, they're over, and they're expected to remember what they read, absorb it, and now get ready for a whole new dosage of details as the revolving doors make a smoothie out of their brains.

This is absolutely correct, and it's for that reason that I'm going to split it up into a Prologue and a Chapter 1.



You mentioned " both of the previous installments were mainly introductions to the characters and world, and are absolutely not necessary to read first," but as a totally new reader to this, I can't help but feel they are.

I disagree. All they were were standalone stories meant to break in the main characters (Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Bunny) and their interactions. Plotwise there is nothing to worry about.


My advice... SLOW DOWN, and TAKE THINGS EASY. If you want to focus on Scared Helix, Azarel, and that stuff in your prologue, that's great, but then go more into detail with that, and save Olivia and the other things for later. Same thing with Jessie, James, and Meowth (heck, the reader may not even know what "Meowth" even is).

Anyway, I hope this provided a little more insight from the prospective of a new reader. It sounds like you've got an interesting development here, but I think it needs help when it comes to getting organized, presented, and delivered to the reader.

It definitely provided a lot of insight, and I have to thank you profusely. I definitely did pick up some things that will help me, and I'm hoping you might decide to stick around a bit and give me a little more of this excellently insightful feedback.

SilentMemento
9th May 2012, 2:16 AM
Alright. Looks like there's a lot of new material to survey. The reviewers here have already covered a lot of the grammatical aspects, so I'll focus on characters and plot:

Wow. Parasitized? My mind is running through all sorts of possibilities. What, exactly, is the parasite? Who was the poor woman who went through the test and died? I'm assuming that "Azrael" is her child and that she was the "vessel". To put it in shorter terms, the people behind this deliberately began a lethal experiment on a pregnant woman that they knew would kill her. Callous, immoral, and disturbing are just a few of the words that I could use to describe this atrocity - and I don't even know if they'd be enough.

Polaris is directly involved...why the hell am I not surprised? They make Everton and Nixon look downright sane and reasonable. If any group in your story fits the vision of a cult of fanatics, it has to be them without question. Nutjobs, the whole lot of them (except Zager, who clearly hates them as much as I do). I'm not surprised that they killed off the people who had qualms about the whole thing. I'm surprised that Zager survived, and I'm wondering how he managed to get away from them.

Sacred Helix is an interesting concept. I'm assuming that there are eight leaders involved (with the boss of them being notably absent in this scene). They mention something about "Angels", which could mean that they're after legends. Project Azrael (the archangel of death in numerous religions) only confirms their obsession with the angelic form - and possibly ascending to a higher plane. I do wonder if demonic references will come into play here as well.

I'm never going to be able to think about Team Plasma without the Joker's laughing face popping in. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, to be on topic, I was wondering about the roles of Anthea and Concordia. Chains and rags seem to symbolize forced servitude, which is further hinted at with them helping the Sacred Helix, even though Ghetsis is wholly contemptful toward them. I wonder if the Shadow Triad will play a role in this affair...

Oh, damn. This thief stole the Adamant and Lustrous orbs, the orbs that are connected to Dialga and Palkia. The kami trio factoring into his plans are also frightening, but Zoroark scares me even more, especially if it's the same one that terrorized Matt and his group in the first fic. I really do wonder who this guy is working for. It could be the Sacred Helix, but it could be someone else as well.

The Kiss of Death...what an interesting name. I love breaking down the profiles of serial killer characters (I have one as a main character, actually), so this is going to be rather interesting:

The killer is obviously a woman. She's meticulous and careful; she knows her way around a crime scene, which suggests that she knows a lot about the law. She was most likely involved in a crime of some sort before she started killing, either as the instigator or the victim. Leaving the imprint of her lips upon her victims suggests sexual motives, but the mutilation of their corpses could indicate that this is personal on some level.

You mentioned that there will be a subplot involving rape in the opening part. I know that this is too early for guesswork, but I'm going to go out on a very thin limb and say that she was a victim of rape and that she's taking out her rage and sorrow on substitutes.

End of profile.

Matt's group isn't terribly interesting compared to the rest of this prologue, but I do wonder why Juniper is in Johto.

I really hope that you weren't deterred by my ramblings. I found this to be a very, very interesting start. I'll be keeping both eyes on this. It's admirable that you decided to take this in a bolder direction; not many authors have the conviction to do that.

Sincerely,

Mem.

The Great Butler
10th May 2012, 10:25 AM
Alright. Looks like there's a lot of new material to survey. The reviewers here have already covered a lot of the grammatical aspects, so I'll focus on characters and plot:

Boy, you sure are in for it. XD;


Wow. Parasitized? My mind is running through all sorts of possibilities. What, exactly, is the parasite? Who was the poor woman who went through the test and died? I'm assuming that "Azrael" is her child and that she was the "vessel". To put it in shorter terms, the people behind this deliberately began a lethal experiment on a pregnant woman that they knew would kill her. Callous, immoral, and disturbing are just a few of the words that I could use to describe this atrocity - and I don't even know if they'd be enough.

These questions will be answered in time, but the basic fact of it is, yes, she was literally just used as a container for Azrael and died right after Azrael was born. "Parasitized" was meant literally, though I can't really explain fully right now the complete meaning of that. It probably is among your possibilities.


Polaris is directly involved...why the hell am I not surprised? They make Everton and Nixon look downright sane and reasonable. If any group in your story fits the vision of a cult of fanatics, it has to be them without question. Nutjobs, the whole lot of them (except Zager, who clearly hates them as much as I do). I'm not surprised that they killed off the people who had qualms about the whole thing. I'm surprised that Zager survived, and I'm wondering how he managed to get away from them.

That's exactly what they are, in fact, so it's great that they actually are already memorable to you as such! I think you will find though that as their members get more screentime, you will find that there are quite a number of diverse characters within their group, and nothing is as cut and dry as it seems.

Zager didn't get 'removed' for two reasons: one, he was clever enough to actually devise a plan for his escape instead of just openly leaving or (even worse) trying to blow the whistle to the public, and two, the Azrael Project wasn't over when she was born. He was still necessary.


Sacred Helix is an interesting concept. I'm assuming that there are eight leaders involved (with the boss of them being notably absent in this scene). They mention something about "Angels", which could mean that they're after legends. Project Azrael (the archangel of death in numerous religions) only confirms their obsession with the angelic form - and possibly ascending to a higher plane. I do wonder if demonic references will come into play here as well.

There are actually ten members on the Sacred Helix, which is the ruling council of Polaris (in case that wasn't clear.) Only nine of the seats are filled as of the present day segments of the first chapter, but the tenth is going to have its new leader appointed in Chapter 2, while seven of the others are involved in the appointment process, one turns up late for the ceremony and misses it, and one seat has a representative sent by its absent leader in his place.

Very astute observations. I'd encourage you to keep them in mind moving forward.


I'm never going to be able to think about Team Plasma without the Joker's laughing face popping in. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, to be on topic, I was wondering about the roles of Anthea and Concordia. Chains and rags seem to symbolize forced servitude, which is further hinted at with them helping the Sacred Helix, even though Ghetsis is wholly contemptful toward them. I wonder if the Shadow Triad will play a role in this affair...

You have it essentially right, though you seem to be operating under the assumption they're helping Polaris willingly, which it's not too much of a spoiler to say that they are not. The spoiler would come if I told you why Ghetsis has them held prisoner and regards them so poorly.

On the Shadow Triad, in general, I think it's hard to use them, at least right now anyway. Who knows if the "Striaton triplets are the Shadow Triad" theory is actually right, and it could have multiple answers across multiple types of canon, so it's better to leave them out. It doesn't matter anyway, because he has little real need for them in this story.


Oh, damn. This thief stole the Adamant and Lustrous orbs, the orbs that are connected to Dialga and Palkia. The kami trio factoring into his plans are also frightening, but Zoroark scares me even more, especially if it's the same one that terrorized Matt and his group in the first fic. I really do wonder who this guy is working for. It could be the Sacred Helix, but it could be someone else as well.

Who he's working for will be revealed in Chapter 2, but it's not going to be some big shocker, so don't get too worked up over predicting it.

But yes, that is in fact the exact same Zoroark that terrorized Argyros Town, still sealed in the Lock Capsule that Bjorn Zerossen put him in. He was there in the museum in one of the very first scenes of The Firestorm Rebellion, and now people are aware that he's there.


The Kiss of Death...what an interesting name. I love breaking down the profiles of serial killer characters (I have one as a main character, actually), so this is going to be rather interesting:

The killer is obviously a woman. She's meticulous and careful; she knows her way around a crime scene, which suggests that she knows a lot about the law. She was most likely involved in a crime of some sort before she started killing, either as the instigator or the victim. Leaving the imprint of her lips upon her victims suggests sexual motives, but the mutilation of their corpses could indicate that this is personal on some level.

You mentioned that there will be a subplot involving rape in the opening part. I know that this is too early for guesswork, but I'm going to go out on a very thin limb and say that she was a victim of rape and that she's taking out her rage and sorrow on substitutes.

End of profile.

I would say that about 80% of your assessments are amazingly accurate. Excellent work.

I love when people speculate like this, so keep it up.


Matt's group isn't terribly interesting compared to the rest of this prologue, but I do wonder why Juniper is in Johto.

The prologue/Chapter 1 wasn't really meant to feature them all that much, so this is pretty much expected. I wanted to establish rather clearly what they're going to be dealing with this time right away, so letting them take a back seat for a chapter wasn't a big deal.


I really hope that you weren't deterred by my ramblings. I found this to be a very, very interesting start. I'll be keeping both eyes on this. It's admirable that you decided to take this in a bolder direction; not many authors have the conviction to do that.


No, your so-called "ramblings" were actually pretty great, so don't worry about it.

Thank you for the kind words. I have a very clear idea of the kind of direction I want to go, and this is just the beginning.

Hax 'R' Us
13th May 2012, 1:48 AM
Just finished reading through and it has me wanting to see what happens with this experiment and "Polaris". I can't help but feel like the trainers are going to be overshadowed by the other major plot line until all the plot lines converge into the main story, or when the trainers begin to directly impact or face consequences from "Polaris", Azrael and the other goings on.

Grammar, description and basic usage of English language is spot on, have to say. Descriptions are not drawn-out and full of useless details, such as the exact number of freckles a trainer has, but I still get a detailed image in my mind of the basic appearance of all the characters, locations and events.

The characters are plentiful at such an early stage, which impresses and worries me at the same time. Although it is great that you have such a diverse array of characters, there is the risk that personalities, quirks and development could be diluted in an attempt to give everyone equal coverage. If you manage to pull it off, however, kudos. The characters, so far, each have their own agendas, both obvious and subtle.

In terms of layout, the story seems to flit from place to place rapidly. One second I was in a laboratory, the next a spa and then an explosion sight, and then all the way back to a laboratory. As I said with characters, you are pulling it off so far but there is the risk that things could become hectic as the story develops and characters travel to more diverse regions. This could confuse some readers, but there is no reason you can't pull it off.

All in all, you have captured the essence of what makes a great Trainer fic: Pokemon, drama and a plot more creative than "steal all Pokemon in world", so well done, pal, keep it up!!

The Great Butler
13th May 2012, 5:50 AM
Just finished reading through and it has me wanting to see what happens with this experiment and "Polaris". I can't help but feel like the trainers are going to be overshadowed by the other major plot line until all the plot lines converge into the main story, or when the trainers begin to directly impact or face consequences from "Polaris", Azrael and the other goings on.

Thanks for reading! And yes... I think you might find that there's a bit more going on here than the typical journey fic. The core is there, but I think you might find this to go in a few different directions than usual.


Grammar, description and basic usage of English language is spot on, have to say. Descriptions are not drawn-out and full of useless details, such as the exact number of freckles a trainer has, but I still get a detailed image in my mind of the basic appearance of all the characters, locations and events.

Good, good. That's about right.


The characters are plentiful at such an early stage, which impresses and worries me at the same time. Although it is great that you have such a diverse array of characters, there is the risk that personalities, quirks and development could be diluted in an attempt to give everyone equal coverage. If you manage to pull it off, however, kudos. The characters, so far, each have their own agendas, both obvious and subtle.

As they were meant to you. I don't think you'll have to worry about characters getting their development diluted; obviously, some are going to have larger roles than others, that's just how it goes, but there should be sufficient attention paid to the people who are important. I think it'll work out.


In terms of layout, the story seems to flit from place to place rapidly. One second I was in a laboratory, the next a spa and then an explosion sight, and then all the way back to a laboratory. As I said with characters, you are pulling it off so far but there is the risk that things could become hectic as the story develops and characters travel to more diverse regions. This could confuse some readers, but there is no reason you can't pull it off.

I promise the next chapter will be a bit more composed in regards to this. It was very true that I decided to try and establish too much all at once in the prologue/first chapter, but the second will definitely be much more streamlined. There should only be a couple of cutaway scenes, the rest will be extended sequences with the main characters.


All in all, you have captured the essence of what makes a great Trainer fic: Pokemon, drama and a plot more creative than "steal all Pokemon in world", so well done, pal, keep it up!!

Thank you very much. I think you'll like what's in store.

I'm off to finish looking over your fic!

The Great Butler
21st May 2012, 10:52 AM
Just an update: while I work on Chapter 2, I've revised Chapter 1 and posted an updated version of it in the first post on this thread. I hope some of the problems in it were fixed in the revision.

Chibi Pika
21st May 2012, 6:40 PM
Hello there! I had been tempted to read this for a while now, but having trouble making time for a review, so I was happy to see it in the review game.



The young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, adjusted his glasses nervously as he surveyed the computers surrounding him. Many of the machines bore the same logo that was stitched onto the man’s breast pocket, a letter ‘P’ formed out of the red-and-yellow strands of a double helix.
Hm. When I read "letter ‘P’" my first though was naturally Team Plasma, but their logo doesn't fit that description. Hmmm.....


All around him were monitors of the situation unfolding in an operating room directly linked to his lab. He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, and had to address the scientists under his command through a microphone affixed to the desk. Large machines, many of them at least the size of a refrigerator, were clustered in one portion of the lab, while a small kitchen unit sat opposite them. There was also a lounging area that consisted simply of an old, rotting bookcase, drab sofa and decrepit television set; on the wall right next to the bookcase was a framed document assigning a doctorate to the man, whose name was Gabriel Zager. A tiny yellow spider Pokémon, Joltik, skittered hyperactively around the room.
I'm a bit torn on this part. On the one hand, I feel like the impassive description beaks the tense feeling of the situation a tad. But on the other, as a writer, I constantly face the problem of "where do I describe the setting if not here?" and then I end up with things woefully underdescribed. I think the part about him being in charge feels too much like...information just being given to us that breaks flow a bit. Maybe if it was altered to feel more like narration from his point of view, sort of like, "He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, but at this point his only means of control was the microphone he'd been using to address the scientists under his command." Well...like that except better. Soemthing that emphasizes the separation between him and what's going on in there; I think that would liven up the paragraph.

“It’s… it’s horrible...” The scientist was clearly deeply disturbed by what he had seen. He spoke in a shaking, terrified voice, and did not even turn to face his boss. “That thing is a monster… it’s parasitized the very fibers of her being… we never should have played God and done this…”
Well we had already gotten that impression from his actions, so having it spelled out here feels a bit...forced. Maybe instead a brief description of the twisted or horrified expression he's currently wearing?


Intrigued and greatly worried by the fearful comments of his team member, Dr. Zager ran his hand across his thick, brown moustache in thought. To some degree, he realized that he should have known things would end in this way.
You've already got me intrigued as to just what's going on in there. I've got the definite feeling of wanting to read more...

Zager had to pause briefly when his Joltik, a tiny yellow spider Pokémon, popped out of his sizable brown afro, but he quickly picked back up.
You already described Joltik, so you don't need to again. It's still fine to drop little descriptive phrases here and there for it, but not in the way as if we don't know what it is.

“She is the key to all of our goals, so we have to do what we must. Gabriel, it’s about time you learned the truth. The true meaning about the purpose of Polaris… and the meaning of your mission, the Azrael Project.”
Well then...I'm already wanting to know...how exactly they...created Azrael? And why? Using science no less! I'm now reminding myself that all of this was 25 years ago, so the details are likely meant to be a mystery. Very curious now how Azrael will be involved in a Pokémon fic. This has the potential to be very interesting if the elements of the fic all feel like they belong together in this world. Looks like I'll have to find out~

Also, this beginning portion sort of feels more like a prologue than the first part of chapter 1.

I found the voice actor list amusing. Although I think you intended to center it because there's a broken forum tag there?

“He hasn’t been the same since Azrael failed, but this? This is ridiculous.”
Failed, huh? That's interesting, it had seemed like they'd created him successfully, but I guess we don't know anything yet.


The first of the two women to speak was the one with flowing purple hair. “When the vast white flame of truth burns out…” she said in a breathy, flat voice, “…and the deep black thunder of ideals dissipates into nothing…”

“That gray void of nothing…” her counterpart, distinguishable by her green ponytail, completed. “That is the Day of Reckoning.”
The allusion to Kyurem there is a nice touch, since I’d been curious how Kyurem was important enough to be on the banner despite his forms being very recently revealed, and the fact that this is the third installment of a long-running series.

“Watch it, Jeunes,” reproached the number-four executive, a woman whose nearly-full head and shoulder armor left her slightly-aged-looking nose and mouth areas as the only indications of her gender. “There is no need for such pettiness between members of the Sacred Helix. You have all been chosen for a reason.”
I like the way this is set up. I immediately thought that the seven people were the seven sages of plasma, but that is clearly not the case. Rather, it is the Sacred Helix, which bears the head of Plasma among its ranks, who are working towards something even greater, though related to the legends which Plasma had sought. This is an interesting setup that clearly conveys a lot of information in a short amount of time.

These treasures were his objective, so he set about the process of taking them. Aware of an invisible laser barrier shielding the two orbs, he set his hand down on the edge of the exhibit platform, sending a surge of his electricity through it. The two pedestals supporting the pair of orbs each suffered a small explosion and collapsed, dropping the precious items down to the ground, where they were no longer within the boundaries of the laser barriers.
Again, the matter-of-fact statements in the narrative about things the reader has probably already figured out tend to break the flow a bit.

Anyways, it's interesting to see the two orbs coming into play, with what I guess to be a Shadow Triad member, though I could be wrong.


“So we meet at last, Zoroark…” The thief could barely contain the thrill in his voice as he slowly approached the capsule. “You’ve been trapped in there for so long, but please wait just a little longer. I promise to you that I will return and free you, and at that point, your reign will begin!”
Huh. That sounds like the sort of thing that someone would say to a sealed legendary or god. You're setting up a lot of intriguing unanswered questions in just one chapter.

“Code Black Seven has been initiated by Giovanni,” Pierce uttered while staring straight ahead. “The lives you knew are now at an end.”

Immediately, the mood in the car changed. Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were all cowed by Pierce’s announcement, and their attitudes became somber.

“That means Polaris has finally made its move, then,” Jessie commented.
Huh, now that is an interesting turn of events. I had been wondering if Team Rocket would come into play after seeing that Plasma was affiliated with Polaris, and I'm already wondering what the former's relationship to the latter is.


“All of the people whose lives have been destroyed or lost just to get to this point…” Sliding his finger across the tablet’s screen, he brought up a new photograph. This one was of a young woman wearing a frilly green dress that gave a soft complement to her ice-blue pigtails and eyes. He felt another horrible pang of sadness when he set eyes on this one. “Rich, Anabel, Eleanor, Agenta… I’ll take all the grief surrounding you onto myself. It’s my fault all of this happened, and I’ll make my quest for the truth bring you justice.”
We're getting a lot of mysterious stuff, but I feel like it's too early in the story for us to really have the context needed to care about most of it. We don't even know if he's talking about Polaris stuff or what, so there really is nothing to keep any of this information imprinted into the reader's mind for when it becomes relevant later.

Okay, it's definitely refreshing to have the same set of characters from that New Bark Town part show up again in the following scene. But it further reminds me of how I felt my focus jerked from one thing to the other for the previous scenes.


Bunny nodded, but she could not find any words to verbally answer. Olivia bringing up her father, Rich, and his own preference for Water-types put Bunny in an awkward positon. She did not want to lie to Olivia, but at the same time, she felt an obligation to respect Matt’s wish to not tell Olivia of Rich’s death as well.
I...huh. I feel like this was set up strangely. Like, we get a bit of a plot thread in the previous scene with a girl apparently searching for her father, which then gets immediately resolved to the reader that he's dead? I assume it will still have some importance later on, but it still feels kind of awkward.

“She had it narrowed down to Totodile or Cyndaquil and picked Totodile,” Nekou said to Matt, informing him of the previous conversations, “but that doesn’t mean much if you didn’t want to hang out with us.”

“Oh please, Nekou, spare me. Let’s just be here to support Olivia today, alright?”
Hm. I'm now curious how Olivia knows all of these adults, and why they're so interested in her choice of Pokémon. Obviously they care about her in some way, but it feels like another thing that the characters in the story know that we don't.

You have a lot of very intriguing and original plot concepts going on here. It's very interesting, but...this is a lot of disconnected stuff to happen in one chapter. I assume it will all converge toward one central plotline, and already shows foreshadowing of that, but it still feels kind of incoherent at this point. It ends up with the reader asking a million questions while reading it, trying to reassure themselves that everything will get answered eventually, but it's just too much to hold onto. This is only the first chapter! But then, I have to remind myself...this might just be because this is the third fic in a trilogy. Maybe a long-time reader could let me know it they find it to be less all over the place?

~Chibi~;249;;448;

Sid87
21st May 2012, 7:00 PM
Sigh...I actually reviewed a big chunk of this, and then the text in my reply box literally disappeared. That was....amazingly disheartening, but I will try again.



In addition, war and mental illness may be touched on,

I work with individual whom suffer from mental health disabilities, so I'll be intrigued to see how you handle this.


25 years ago
October 9, 1987

I was about to turn SEVEN. Thanks for making me feel really old!


on the wall right next to the bookcase was a framed document assigning a doctorate to the man, whose name was Gabriel Zager. A tiny yellow spider Pokémon, Joltik, skittered hyperactively around the room.

1) Brilliant way of giving his name without actually just saying it in exposition. Very nicely done.
2) I love Joltik! Yay for using a favorite of mine.


One of the other scientists, an even younger man of about twenty-one, suddenly came crashing through the doorway partitioning the lab and operating room from each other. Before Zager could ask him a single question, he had torn across the lab to the deep sink on the other side, where he loudly wretched up the contents of his stomach.

“Are you alright?!” This was a bad sign, and the doctor knew it. He had been assured that the team he was commanding was comprised of very well-trained scientific and medical professionals, so to see one of those very same people unable to handle their own job struck him deeply.

I actually had a problem here. The scientist is 21, so I find it hard to believe he is "well-trained". At 21, he should still be in his second or third year of college. Even assuming he is a prodigy and already has his doctorate, at 21, how "well-trained" could he be? And given the panicked description here, he doesn't seem to be much of a prodigy. :)


On it, the head and shoulders of a man were displayed, but all of his features were completely obscured by shadows, leaving only the glowing circles of his glasses to distinguish him. In addition, when he spoke, a filter applied to his voice made it sound as if many people were speaking at once.

This reads more like script direction than as prose. Does that makes sense? It sounds more like you are describing a setting for it to be drawn or filmed than for a reader to imagine. I would have maybe gone with something like "...the obscured figure of a man, only the light reflecting from his eyeglasses fully visible in the darkness. His voice, equally as out-of-focus as his body, said..."

Does that make sense?


“Father, sir…” Zager had to pause briefly when his Joltik, a tiny yellow spider Pokémon, popped out of his sizable brown afro

...How long ago do you think 1987 was?! :p


Troy Baker
Trina Nishimura
Bridget Hoffman
Caitlin Glass

Dan Green
Ted Lewis
Marc Thompson
Vic Mignogna
Megan Hollingshead
Jason Griffith

Johnny Yong Bosch
Jerry Jewell
Lisa Ortiz
Lia Sargent

Brina Palencia
Patrick Seitz
J. Michael Tatum
Matthew Mercer

featuring Mark Hamill as Ghetsis Harmonia
and Donald Sutherland as Dr. Dante Fantomos


Operation GEAR:
-The Angel of Reckoning-


I have no idea what I just read.


Four years ago
May 1, 2008

We didn't still have afros in 2008, either. ;)


“You know, you’re a terrible liar. I overheard everything. You’re lucky we’re on such a tight schedule, though. What you call a waste of Finansielle’s money is actually a vital project for Polaris’s plan, vital enough that it just got you off of a punishment for insubordination. What’s the status of Project J?”

Project J? Well that's intriguing! I wonder if that's a red herring or exactly what it sounds like it is....


“Please, give me a new body! I want one! Give me a new body and I’ll work for you, even!”

It seems odd that J would jump straight there. How does he even think that they want him to work for them? It just seems like an odd request. I'd think someone's thoughts would be "Please give me a body; I need to see my family!" or even "I'll give you anything I have!"


, pulling a golden mask in the shape of a feline Pokémon from his black cape and affixing it to his face.

NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA CAT MAN! Great, now the Batman theme is stuck in my head.


“Thank you so very much, Anthea, Concordia,” uttered one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm. This man was the only one of the seven to not be wearing some kind of mask, instead opting for a red eyepiece that covered only his right eye. His entire appearance was fittingly bizarre – his pale green hair flowed like water to his shoulders and curled on the sides and top. His clothing was even stranger, consisting of a white cassock beneath yellow-and-blue robes covered with erratic lines and eye patterns; on his shoulders rested a garment that had the appearance of the battlements of a castle. Apparently a designation of his rank, his seat was identified with the number ‘3’ on the front of his desk. “Fellow members of the Sacred Helix, as you can see, the traitorous waste known as the Tenganist people know information that will assist us in pursuing our true ideals!”

“We didn’t need your Gypsy carnival dance show to learn that, Ghetsis.” This was the man from the science lab overseeing Project J, who now wore his mask to hide his scarred face. He was sitting at the seat numbered ‘8.’

“Watch it, Jeunes,” reproached the number-four executive, a woman whose nearly-full head and shoulder armor left her slightly-aged-looking nose and mouth areas as the only indications of her gender. “There is no need for such pettiness between members of the Sacred Helix. You have all been chosen for a reason.”

“Yes, Finansielle. Please forgive me.”

“Might I also urge Jeunes to remember he’s the leader of section eight while I’m the head of section three,” Ghetsis saw fit to add, turning his sarcasm on his colleague.

The man sitting at the seat for section number two would have none of this. “And I would urge you, Ghetsis, to remember your place. You had all three Angels within your grasp in Unova and you let them slip away. That failing set us back by years and cost a substantial amount of funds to recover from. We cannot sustain any such failure again.”

Ghetsis could not respond. His incredible pride was damaged, and it left him unable to do anything but stare at the man who had belittled him. Staring back was that man’s own unique mask, which loaned him the appearance of a Darkrai; the left half of his face was covered by flowing white plumage, while an opaque eyepiece in a half-circle shape covered the right.

Oh wow. That's a lot. Sacred Helix? Tenganist? Three Angels? I really feel like I just walked in on the 4th reel of a film. Lots of stuff going on, but that's not bad! I actually generally love "en medias res"-style story and scene openings. It keeps me wanting to know what the eff is going on.


As interesting as those displays were to him, he had a mission and intended to stick to it.

I actually don't know how important they are to him because the story never told me. :) I would have rewritten this, too. Something akin to "Under less tenuous circumstances, he would have found these exhibits fascinating, but his narrow focus kept him from appreciating them in this moment".


On the wall next to him was a fuse box sealed with four screws; luckily for the thief, he had come prepared with a screwdriver.

This is kind of nitpicky, but if he came prepared, it wasn't lucky. :) Luck would be his not anticipating having to unscrew things, but having something that eould get the screws out regardless. Does that make sense?


“So we meet at last, Zoroark…” The thief could barely contain the thrill in his voice as he slowly approached the capsule. “You’ve been trapped in there for so long, but please wait just a little longer. I promise to you that I will return and free you, and at that point, your reign will begin!”

Interesting....why Zoroark, I wonder. Can't wait to find out.


The fiery red-headed woman who replied to Meowth’s call soon appeared, alongside her somewhat-effeminate-looking male companion. Both were dressed in plain brown clothes, and the male half of the duo had blue hair of a moderate length. The only unusual characteristic between the two of them was the extremely long ponytail worn by the woman.

Whoa! Didn't see these guys coming!


They were watching the same news broadcast as the security guard at the Pewter Museum.

Once I saw what the newscast was about, I'd have known it was the same broadcast. You didn't need to state that for the reader, I'd think.


“Shifting gears from the meteor shower,” said the voice of the newscaster on the television near the hot tub, “we now bring you an update on another story that’s been gripping the nation: the serial killer known as Kiss of Death.”

If I may beg to ask, can we please get some kind of character biography for this? Not too detailed or anything like that, but...I feel like I have a LOT of characters to remember already. Zager, Ghetsis, Azrael, all of Ghetsis' allies in the Helix, Jessie, James, these girls, Matt, and now a famous serial killer? Oh, and that museum thief; I actually forgot all about him for a second. WHEW. I need some way to keep all of these people straight! :D


-I think that's my primary concern with the first chapter...I feel like I just met enough characters to fill two whole other stories! Now granted, some of them I already know (Ghetsis, Team Rocket, Professor Juniper), and others I'd probably know if I read the first two parts of the series that you said weren't so important, but right now I feel like I am positively SWIMMING in names and identities. Besides a character map of sorts (which I'd recommend putting near the top of the original post), I think this chapter could easily have been divided into two or three separate chapters. There was a LOT going on, and I'm going to have to read and re-read it to get a good amount of this information to stick. Now, granted, I often have a problem with the opposite effect--I write short chapters because I think a chapter should be one scene alone--but I think this could have easily been broken up across a few more manageable chunks. Between the length and the amount of info and characters I already had to absorb, my attention span was waning rapidly by the very end. This was especially hindered by the fact that the three indistinguishable girls were the least interesting aspect of the chapter. By the time I got there, I needed something gripping to keep me going, and it felt like they just grinded the momentum down.

That said, there IS a lot going on, and I absolutely ADORE stories that can successfully take several seemingly-unrelated events and guide them all together to form one cohesive story. That is the sign of gifted storytelling and imagination. I eagerly await chapter 2!

The Great Butler
22nd May 2012, 11:12 AM
Hello there! I had been tempted to read this for a while now, but having trouble making time for a review, so I was happy to see it in the review game.

Good to have you finally come around! Let's see what we've got...


Hm. When I read "letter ‘P’" my first though was naturally Team Plasma, but their logo doesn't fit that description. Hmmm.....

Hilariously, I had actually designed Polaris's logo before Team Plasma was even known. I panicked when I found out that the Generation V evil team was going to have a 'P' as its logo, but I think there is enough of a difference between a medieval shield and a 'P' formed from the two halves of a double helix.


I'm a bit torn on this part. On the one hand, I feel like the impassive description beaks the tense feeling of the situation a tad. But on the other, as a writer, I constantly face the problem of "where do I describe the setting if not here?" and then I end up with things woefully underdescribed. I think the part about him being in charge feels too much like...information just being given to us that breaks flow a bit. Maybe if it was altered to feel more like narration from his point of view, sort of like, "He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, but at this point his only means of control was the microphone he'd been using to address the scientists under his command." Well...like that except better. Soemthing that emphasizes the separation between him and what's going on in there; I think that would liven up the paragraph.

I see where you're coming from, though to a degree, I'm inclined to admit that it was at least partially intentional. That scene is going to be revisited later when the context is entirely explained. For now, I kind of wanted to convey a disconnected view to the reader this first time we see it, which I think makes it more unsettling.


Well we had already gotten that impression from his actions, so having it spelled out here feels a bit...forced. Maybe instead a brief description of the twisted or horrified expression he's currently wearing?

Perhaps. You've got a good point there...


You've already got me intrigued as to just what's going on in there. I've got the definite feeling of wanting to read more...

Excellent.


You already described Joltik, so you don't need to again. It's still fine to drop little descriptive phrases here and there for it, but not in the way as if we don't know what it is.

That was an accident in the revision. Originally, that was the only scene where Joltik appeared, but when I revised the chapter I must have forgotten to take out the old one after adding the earlier scene. Entirely my fault.


Well then...I'm already wanting to know...how exactly they...created Azrael? And why? Using science no less! I'm now reminding myself that all of this was 25 years ago, so the details are likely meant to be a mystery. Very curious now how Azrael will be involved in a Pokémon fic. This has the potential to be very interesting if the elements of the fic all feel like they belong together in this world. Looks like I'll have to find out~

Also, this beginning portion sort of feels more like a prologue than the first part of chapter 1.

I think you certainly will enjoy finding out about Azrael... your questions will be answered eventually, I promise you that much.

Funny story about that. This chapter's had a bit of a rough history - it originally was a single prologue, but I decided to break it up into a prologue and Chapter 1 because it was too long. After that, I decided to recombine them, make it Chapter 1 and flesh things out a bit more. So, some of it feeling like a prologue is really understandable.


I found the voice actor list amusing. Although I think you intended to center it because there's a broken forum tag there?

...****. I thought I fixed that from the original revision and added the second center tag. Yeah, that's what it should have been.


Failed, huh? That's interesting, it had seemed like they'd created him successfully, but I guess we don't know anything yet.

Creating Azrael was only the first step. The project was a lot more than that...


The allusion to Kyurem there is a nice touch, since I’d been curious how Kyurem was important enough to be on the banner despite his forms being very recently revealed, and the fact that this is the third installment of a long-running series.

Kyurem was always set to feature in the plot the way it's been mentioned. I was anticipating new forms of it for a long time, so when they were finally revealed, they fit right into my plans almost perfectly. The only challenge that came up is that I expected one form (a "complete Kyurem" form) instead of two, which left me still unable to work out a role for White Kyurem.


I like the way this is set up. I immediately thought that the seven people were the seven sages of plasma, but that is clearly not the case. Rather, it is the Sacred Helix, which bears the head of Plasma among its ranks, who are working towards something even greater, though related to the legends which Plasma had sought. This is an interesting setup that clearly conveys a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Thank you. As I've mentioned previously, there are actually ten members of this panel, and they will all be seen in Chapter 2.


Again, the matter-of-fact statements in the narrative about things the reader has probably already figured out tend to break the flow a bit.

I can see your point. I'm not really totally in love with that scene in the context of everything else, but I am satisfied enough with how the revision came out. I will try to take this under my hat for the future, though.


Anyways, it's interesting to see the two orbs coming into play, with what I guess to be a Shadow Triad member, though I could be wrong.

His identity will be (somewhat) revealed in Chapter 2. He's not a Shadow Triad. Honestly, I didn't even think of them, though maybe I'll use them later.


Huh. That sounds like the sort of thing that someone would say to a sealed legendary or god. You're setting up a lot of intriguing unanswered questions in just one chapter.

Exactly my goal. That specific Zoroark is exactly what you described - a sealed god, or perhaps a demon is more appropriate given the context - so you've got the right idea.


Huh, now that is an interesting turn of events. I had been wondering if Team Rocket would come into play after seeing that Plasma was affiliated with Polaris, and I'm already wondering what the former's relationship to the latter is.

It's intended to follow up to the Team Rocket VS. Team Plasma concept that was introduced early in the Best Wishes! series and never finished when the catastrophic Japan earthquake and nuclear crisis occurred six days before the finale's Part 1 aired last year. (If you're not familiar with the circumstances, Dogasu's Backpack has an excellent writeup of it all, located here (http://dogasu.bulbagarden.net/comparisons/isshu/bw_rocket_vs_plasma.html).) As a result, a good amount of AUing is necessary to fill in the holes left by the storyline's abandonment, but that doesn't affect me too much.


We're getting a lot of mysterious stuff, but I feel like it's too early in the story for us to really have the context needed to care about most of it. We don't even know if he's talking about Polaris stuff or what, so there really is nothing to keep any of this information imprinted into the reader's mind for when it becomes relevant later.

You know, at first I couldn't really see what you meant, but the more I think about it, I definitely can see it now. Perhaps my biggest mistake was so desperately wanting the first chapter to end on the Juniper cliffhanger that I missed the idea of not starting the main protagonists' storyline until the next chapter?


Okay, it's definitely refreshing to have the same set of characters from that New Bark Town part show up again in the following scene. But it further reminds me of how I felt my focus jerked from one thing to the other for the previous scenes.

Good to know that was an improvement. It was originally even worse; the Team Rocket scene was between the two main-group scenes in the initial version, and it was horribly disjointed.


I...huh. I feel like this was set up strangely. Like, we get a bit of a plot thread in the previous scene with a girl apparently searching for her father, which then gets immediately resolved to the reader that he's dead? I assume it will still have some importance later on, but it still feels kind of awkward.

Perhaps I didn't convey clearly what the premise of that bit was. He has been dead for several years, but she is not aware of it - it's partially due to her genuinely not knowing the truth, but she also has denied the possibility of him being dead to herself as a coping mechanism. Because she perceives that he left because he didn't love her anymore, she thinks that if she goes on a Badge and Ribbon-collecting quest, she'll win back his favor.

In other words, it's made clear what happened to him now because the reader is not the one who isn't supposed to know he's dead, it's Olivia.


Hm. I'm now curious how Olivia knows all of these adults, and why they're so interested in her choice of Pokémon. Obviously they care about her in some way, but it feels like another thing that the characters in the story know that we don't.

Hmm... you know, you're right about this one. I must have gotten too caught up with other things to try putting in things regarding this. Thank you for pointing it out, I will try to work it into Chapter 2.


You have a lot of very intriguing and original plot concepts going on here. It's very interesting, but...this is a lot of disconnected stuff to happen in one chapter. I assume it will all converge toward one central plotline, and already shows foreshadowing of that, but it still feels kind of incoherent at this point. It ends up with the reader asking a million questions while reading it, trying to reassure themselves that everything will get answered eventually, but it's just too much to hold onto. This is only the first chapter! But then, I have to remind myself...this might just be because this is the third fic in a trilogy. Maybe a long-time reader could let me know it they find it to be less all over the place?

Thank you for your kind and very thorough review. I want the reader to be asking a lot of questions and trying to theorize about things, but you're right, this first chapter is pretty scatterbrained about ideas that get introduced. I don't know what others will say, but I think that maybe this was just me at my less organized in terms of presenting so much at once; I still believe that this is accessible even if you don't read the other two, it's just that I could have presented the information in a much more organized way.


Sigh...I actually reviewed a big chunk of this, and then the text in my reply box literally disappeared. That was....amazingly disheartening, but I will try again.

I hate when that happens.


I work with individual whom suffer from mental health disabilities, so I'll be intrigued to see how you handle this.


Just don't expect anything amazingly profound; I simply want to show a respectful depiction of something that happens in real life that people struggle with. I don't want to romanticize it, nor do I want to show it as shameful. I simply want to go for an honest, respectful depiction of it.


I was about to turn SEVEN. Thanks for making me feel really old!

Oops. XD;


1) Brilliant way of giving his name without actually just saying it in exposition. Very nicely done.
2) I love Joltik! Yay for using a favorite of mine.

1) Good. That was something I decided to add in the revision, so I'm quite glad that it turned out to be an improvement.
2) It just suits him so much, doesn't it?


I actually had a problem here. The scientist is 21, so I find it hard to believe he is "well-trained". At 21, he should still be in his second or third year of college. Even assuming he is a prodigy and already has his doctorate, at 21, how "well-trained" could he be? And given the panicked description here, he doesn't seem to be much of a prodigy.

Exaggeration for the sake of making the bigger point, really. That point was just how horrible what they were experiencing was, so accepting that he was just that much of a prodigy would lead you right to "wow, it must be that bad if even a guy this smart is reacting like this."

Maybe I'm trying to overexplain everything, though. He really was just a background, one-off character for that scene, so he isn't that important.


This reads more like script direction than as prose. Does that makes sense? It sounds more like you are describing a setting for it to be drawn or filmed than for a reader to imagine. I would have maybe gone with something like "...the obscured figure of a man, only the light reflecting from his eyeglasses fully visible in the darkness. His voice, equally as out-of-focus as his body, said..."

Does that make sense?


Yeah, it does. I've struggled with this before, so pointing it out will help me to be more mindful of it. Thank you.


...How long ago do you think 1987 was?!

I didn't mean a giant 70s afro, I meant like... one of those smaller ones. If it's called something else I don't know what it is.

Granted, it was meant to be out-of-fashion anyway - it was supposed to be based on Donald Sutherland's appearance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1978, which I arrived at when I decided to give Zager an appearance that could believably evolve into his usual one in the present day.



I have no idea what I just read.

Opening credit roll and title card. It's meant to be a little Easter Egg bonus for those who just happen to know what it means; it's not relevant to the plot at all, so you lose nothing by not taking away a meaning from it.


We didn't still have afros in 2008, either.

Nope, we didn't! XD;


Project J? Well that's intriguing! I wonder if that's a red herring or exactly what it sounds like it is....

If you're thinking what I think you are, red herring. The concept is not terribly wrong but the person you're guessing is.


It seems odd that J would jump straight there. How does he even think that they want him to work for them? It just seems like an odd request. I'd think someone's thoughts would be "Please give me a body; I need to see my family!" or even "I'll give you anything I have!"

It's so desperate for a body that it will do whatever they want it to in exchange. You're also leaving out the possibility of it knowing what it's doing.


NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA CAT MAN! Great, now the Batman theme is stuck in my head.

Now mine too. Thanks. XD


Oh wow. That's a lot. Sacred Helix? Tenganist? Three Angels? I really feel like I just walked in on the 4th reel of a film. Lots of stuff going on, but that's not bad! I actually generally love "en medias res"-style story and scene openings. It keeps me wanting to know what the eff is going on.

That's good, then. I want to sow the seeds of wonder in your mind and get you guessing, then reveal the answers as I go. I think it's actually working so far.


I actually don't know how important they are to him because the story never told me. I would have rewritten this, too. Something akin to "Under less tenuous circumstances, he would have found these exhibits fascinating, but his narrow focus kept him from appreciating them in this moment".

That's a good line. I probably won't go back and revise this chapter again, but like I've said, all feedback helps me improve for the future, so you pointing this out helps put me on more solid footing for later. Thank you!


If I may beg to ask, can we please get some kind of character biography for this? Not too detailed or anything like that, but...I feel like I have a LOT of characters to remember already. Zager, Ghetsis, Azrael, all of Ghetsis' allies in the Helix, Jessie, James, these girls, Matt, and now a famous serial killer? Oh, and that museum thief; I actually forgot all about him for a second. WHEW. I need some way to keep all of these people straight!

It's not complete yet, but ask and ye shall receive. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/OperationGEAR) As you go on to recommend, I will also add this to the top of the original post.


-I think that's my primary concern with the first chapter...I feel like I just met enough characters to fill two whole other stories! Now granted, some of them I already know (Ghetsis, Team Rocket, Professor Juniper), and others I'd probably know if I read the first two parts of the series that you said weren't so important, but right now I feel like I am positively SWIMMING in names and identities. Besides a character map of sorts (which I'd recommend putting near the top of the original post), I think this chapter could easily have been divided into two or three separate chapters. There was a LOT going on, and I'm going to have to read and re-read it to get a good amount of this information to stick. Now, granted, I often have a problem with the opposite effect--I write short chapters because I think a chapter should be one scene alone--but I think this could have easily been broken up across a few more manageable chunks. Between the length and the amount of info and characters I already had to absorb, my attention span was waning rapidly by the very end. This was especially hindered by the fact that the three indistinguishable girls were the least interesting aspect of the chapter. By the time I got there, I needed something gripping to keep me going, and it felt like they just grinded the momentum down.

That said, there IS a lot going on, and I absolutely ADORE stories that can successfully take several seemingly-unrelated events and guide them all together to form one cohesive story. That is the sign of gifted storytelling and imagination. I eagerly await chapter 2!

First, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on one thing. Short, one-scene chapters aren't my style at all. I can see why you would prefer them, but they just aren't my cup of tea. That said, I do agree that my presentation in this chapter could have been more organized, and I do think that if I ever come back and revise the story significantly, I know exactly what I would do to fix this now. I just can't sincerely say that I definitely will come back and redo it, at least anytime soon. I want to aim for the future, where I am much more confident that I can clean up my little mistakes from here and present a much more interesting story with better presentation. I'm a lot more optimistic about Chapter 2, where quite a few things will happen again, but I know how to present it so it works better this time.

I'll have to work hard to improve Nekou, Olivia and Bunny. They're supposed to be main characters with their own standout traits, so I'll have to do something if they're not fulfilling that. Good thing I know it now, at least.

Finally, your kind words are much appreciated, and I can promise you, you're going to get a lot of what you like going forward, if that's what you enjoy.

To everyone:

Chapter 2 will be out as soon as possible. It's hit a couple of delays, but they're all to make sure everything comes out as well as it can.

I've added two links to the first post. One is a link to a post detailing the backstory of events up until the first fic of this trilogy, information that will be summarized in Chapter 2 and added onto with the story of what happened in the first two fics of this trilogy, allowing this one to be read without incident. The other is the aforementioned character page that has already been linked.

The Great Butler
31st May 2012, 7:56 AM
Apologies for the double-post, but I want to provide an update:

I've decided to split the originally-planned Chapter 2 into Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. I'm still working out the structuring for everything I planned out; that's why there's been this rough patch of delays.

Chapter 2 shouldn't be much longer to go.

The Great Butler
15th June 2012, 11:46 AM
Hopefully some of the rough patches out of the gate will be smoothed over here. The story in this chapter should be much more organized.

So, let’s get to it…

-:-

CHAPTER 2: A New Rival and a New Mission

-:-

In the main chamber of Professor Elm’s laboratory, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny found themselves face-to-face not with Elm but with a lab coat-wearing woman whose wide, pale-green eyes and curled mouth reflected a similar sense of surprise.

“Professor… Juniper?” Nekou slowly gasped, taking a step back.

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” came the cheerful reply, spoken by Juniper as she turned her head to work out a cramp in her neck. “And of course, I know who you four are. I’d be quite the fool if I didn’t recognize the heroes of Whitegold City, right? Doubly so for me, no less.”

“Please don’t take this as any disrespect,” Matt said, nervously adjusting his glasses. He was wearing a different pair that covered his left eye with a golden, Ho-oh themed mask with a purple rose eyepiece, instead of his usual eyepatch. Finally continuing, he asked, “but what are you talking about, and why are you here, anyway? Where’s Elm?”

“Oh, that’s right, there’s no way you could have known that Fennel was my old roommate from college. She called me right after you guys saved her. I want you to tell me all about your interactions with Victini and the events of Whitegold City, but first, about Elm…” As soon as she breached the topic of the other Professor’s whereabouts, Juniper’s expression and attitude noticeably darkened. Olivia picked up on this and fidgeted uneasily, while Bunny almost seemed as if she was holding her breath. As for Juniper herself, her voice became much more serious. “I came to New Bark Town to work on data with Professor Elm regarding the migration of Pokémon from the Unova Region into the Tohjo Continent.”

“Ah, that’s right,” Bunny commented to herself, “the government is working to bring foreign Pokémon in from Unova so trainers here have more diverse options.”

“When I got here,” continued Juniper, “Elm was gone. His family told me that he said he was going to visit his friend Mr. Pokémon on Route 30, but he never came back. You can obviously guess the problem this presents, because in his absence, there aren’t any starter Pokémon.”

“What?!!” Olivia exclaimed, before Matt, Nekou and Bunny had the chance to ask questions or even ponder the meaning of Professor Elm’s disappearance. “What do you mean, there are no starter Pokémon?” she screamed, so enraged by this sudden swerve in her anticipated schedule that her eyes almost looked like they were going to pop out of her head. “I would have just gone right to get my first badge if I would have known!”

“Now, Olivia,” Matt cautiously ventured, setting his hand on her shoulder in an attempt to pacify her, “I’m sure Professor Juniper doesn’t mean you any harm, so being rude to her isn’t nice…”

Turning her frustrated anger on Matt, Olivia threw his hand away and yelled, “You’re not my dad, so don’t tell me what to do!”

Nekou and Bunny shared concerned glances with each other, then with Juniper before all three turned to Matt, who returned their gazes. Matt knew all too well that he wasn’t Olivia’s dead father, nor could he ever try to be. What he had hoped to accomplish was bringing Olivia to a point where he could tell her the truth about her beloved father’s demise instead of lying and claiming he left on a trip, but that was clearly not going to happen any time soon.

“You haven’t really wasted your time, though, Olivia.” As she said this, Juniper lifted up a briefcase that had been resting on the floor next to her. She set it down on a nearby table and flipped it open, revealing two Poké Balls amid a multitude of papers and field equipment. “I brought a few Pokémon with me from Unova when I came here. If you’ll agree to help me with my work, I can give you one.”

The sight of the two spheres in Juniper’s briefcase brought light to Olivia’s blue eyes. Her mood changed immediately; once again, her mind was filled with thoughts of an epic adventure ending with her becoming a famous trainer, which Olivia believed would bring her father back to her. She didn’t even think to ask what Juniper wanted her to do in exchange, but even if she had considered it, she wouldn’t have cared.

“That’s good for me, then!” she declared excitedly. “I’ll take Totodile, please!”

“Yeah, um, about that…” Olivia couldn’t see them behind her, but Matt, Nekou and Bunny all saw Juniper’s grimace and knew what was coming next. “These two Pokémon aren’t Johto Region starter Pokémon. Allow me to show you them up close.”

After taking the Poké Balls out of the briefcase, Juniper popped them open, causing two flashes of light to take shape in front of the extremely disappointed Olivia. One of the bursts took the shape of a red-and-black piglet with some yellow above its snout and a curly tail, while the other transformed into a blue-bodied sea otter whose head and arms were white.

“Tepig and Oshawott,” Nekou quickly identified.

“I have to pick one of these two?” Olivia complained, shutting her eyes in exasperation. “Please tell me this is a cruel joke…”

“Olivia, don’t complain.” Matt reached into his closed longcoat, a mostly blue article enhanced with silver lining around its edges and a yellow feather pattern on each lapel. He withdrew a rectangular smartphone and touched its screen several times, opening an application titled ‘Pokédex 3D.’ “Tepig is a Fire-type Pokémon, while Oshawott is a Water-type Pokémon. Both of them have quite a bit of potential.”

“But I wanted Totodile! I didn’t come all the way out here just to settle for something I don’t want!”

“Please, Olivia, I ask that you give these two a chance,” requested Juniper. “They, along with the Grass-type Pokémon Snivy, are the starter Pokémon of the Unova Region. Tepig is a dependable partner who will ultimately evolve into the powerful Fire-and-Fighting-type Pokémon Emboar…” Tepig responded to Juniper’s praise by snorting enthusiastically, snorting out some small embers. “…while Oshawott fights with the shell on its stomach, and as it passes through evolutionary stages toward its ultimate form, Samurott, it first gains a second shell and then a pair of formidable shell swords.”

Evidently having picked up on Olivia’s complaint about not being able to select Totodile, a Water-type Pokémon, Oshawott focused on impressing her by detaching and wielding his shell. It didn’t work, and Olivia simply kept pouting.

“I went through a lot of time trying to figure out what Pokémon to take,” she repeated, “and I decided I wanted Totodile. I don’t know if I can get behind either of these two.”

“Would you at least give them some consideration, Olivia?”

Olivia crossed her arms in response to Bunny’s request. “I guess,” she answered bitterly. “But don’t expect me to decide quickly. My starter Pokémon was supposed to be something that could stand right alongside me, Minccino and Roselia as we won badges and Ribbons, which would force my dad to notice me again. It was never supposed to start like this.”

“Let’s go get something to eat,” Matt suggested while slipping his phone back into his coat. Despite his outer air of calm, his nerves were tightly wound. “You can think on it while we eat, and everything will turn out fine.”

“May I join you?” Juniper asked sweetly. “I really would like to hear about the things you guys have seen so far.”

“Of course!” Bunny answered. “You’re more than welcome.”

With nods from all the others except for Olivia, Juniper’s request was confirmed. She recalled Tepig and Oshawott to their Poké Balls, then put the balls away in the briefcase, closed it and picked it up before following Matt’s group out.

-:-

Time had not been kind to Doctor Gabriel Zager. In the intervening eleven years between his escape from Polaris and the present, his once-orderly brown hair had become a frizzled mess with the same ghostly white pallor his moustache had also taken on. He had long since replaced his glasses with a monocle over his left eye – the one in which his vision actually was weaker – but he dressed similarly to before, wearing a rumpled purple shirt and gray trousers underneath his unkempt white lab coat.

Dr. Zager’s working environment was very different than what he had before, too. His new lab was falling apart in places – wood paneling was cracking off the walls, the red curtains over the windows were riddled with tears, and some ceiling tiles were missing, creating holes through which wires of multiple colors could hang through. True to the nature of its occupant, though, the lab’s equipment was still meticulously kept, affording Zager a full array of high-tech tools.

Keeping the scientist company were two very different individuals. One was a Galvantula, the evolved form of the Joltik he’d kept as a pet since his days as a member of Polaris; the large, six-eyed yellow-and-blue spider Pokémon busily skittered about the lab, amusing herself by staying active.

The other was a curvaceous woman in a white blouse and skirt, an outfit accented by bits of black around her neck, midsection and wrists as well as down at the end of the skirt, near her knee-high white boots. Her bright red hair stood out like a spotlight against the rather droll surroundings of the laboratory, and in her boredom, she was lounging in a chair next to a coffee table away from Zager’s work space, her feet up on a torn ottoman. Zager was absorbed in working at his computer bank, so to break the monotony of the situation she was eating a box of doughnuts one-by-one while drinking what appeared to be a glass of whiskey.

“I hope you’re going to clean up that mess when you’re done, Ariana,” Zager snapped irritably when he spotted the doughnut crumbs falling all over the floor. His eyes briefly glanced to the black badge on the chest of her uniform, which bore the insignia of a red letter ‘R.’ He then said, “I don’t care if you’re an Executive or not. Giovanni knows I need my space to work.”

“Don’t be such a killjoy, Zager,” Ariana flippantly countered, making sure to drop another batch of crumbs deliberately. “Look at how run-down this place is. A few crumbs aren’t going to ruin anything. Not to mention Galvantula’s picking them up anyway…” This fact was true, and Zager couldn’t ignore his Pokémon skittering about to collect the crumbs. “…and I’m sick, did you forget?”

“That’s right, you just reminded me. Put the booze away, it’s time for your medicine.”

Ariana sighed in disappointment but put her whiskey down anyway, because she knew that Zager was right. After collecting a medicine bottle from the table, she walked over to a nearby counter, where there was a pot of coffee being kept hot. She poured herself a share into one of Zager’s aged coffee cups – he’d collected them during his time with Polaris and was reluctant to let them go – and then dropped one of the oblong pills out of the bottle into her hand. Without skipping a beat, she swallowed the pill and then immediately followed it with a huge gulp of the coffee, despite it being completely black and quite hot.

“Ah, medicine you have to take with coffee instead of water. A miracle of modern science.”

“Indeed, it was a wise creation.” A sharp rapping at the door interrupted Zager, and he turned toward the portal before yelling, “Come in!”

Opening the door swiftly and deliberately, Pierce walked in, leading Jessie, James and Meowth in as well. Aside from the short feline Pokémon who was wearing no shoes, their steps made loud creaking sounds come from the floor; this was especially true of the heavy boots Pierce was wearing. Immediately upon seeing Zager, Jessie, James and Meowth all looked at each other in nervous surprise.

“Team Rocket Elite Agent Pierce reporting,” the mysterious agent said, bowing slightly to both Zager and Ariana. He removed his trench coat as he spoke, eventually revealing a gray uniform with the red ‘R’ insignia on it. “Executive Ariana, I have brought the agents as stipulated by emergency protocol Code Black Seven.”

“At ease, Pierce,” Ariana casually replied, waving her hand. “There’s really no need to be so serious. Not here, at least.” Picking up the box of doughnuts, which she had only eaten half of, she offered, “Any of you want some of these?”

“No thank you, Executive Ariana.” Pierce remained as rigid as ever, despite Ariana’s clear attempt to bring a more casual mood to the gathering. “It would be unbecoming of me to so readily accept an unearned bonus.”

“You really shouldn’t be such a stiff, Pierce. Look, they’ve got the right idea.”

Ariana gestured to Jessie, James and Meowth; the three had each taken considerable shares of the confections and now were eating them voraciously, earning a chuckle from not only the Executive but Zager as well.

“This certainly is bringing back memories,” he said, while stepping away from his computer console with his arms crossed behind his back. “Welcome, Jessie, James, Meowth. It’s been quite a while since we last met.”

“The operations in Unova, to be exact,” Jessie clarified. “So the boss kept you working while we were put on standby?”

After Zager responded by nodding, James asked a question of his own. “What’s happened, then? The code that the boss activated was only supposed to be used for absolutely the worst emergencies. Does this have to do with his house arrest?”

“Let me show you.” Zager walked back to his computer and entered a command into it, prompting the screen to display the double-helix-themed ‘P’ logo of Polaris. “Code Black Seven, the protocol Giovanni activated, was brought on by an attack members of Polaris staged on a speech given by Matt Chiaki last week in Whitegold City.”

As he spoke, Zager’s computer displayed footage of this incident. Three people in white lab coats were commanding a trio of Magneton to attack Matt, while Bunny fought to shield him using her Ninetales. Eventually, Nekou knocked out two of the attackers by hitting them in the shoulders with the heels of her shoes, then stopped the third by stabbing him in the back with her knife.

“Before that,” the doctor continued, “all of Polaris’s moves were merely their activities as a religious cult. This action shows that they are becoming a much more aggressive organization, which in turn must mean that their plans are nearing completion. Great care must be taken to prevent what they’re aiming for from coming to fruition.”

“And you’re placing that job in our hands?”

“Yes, Jessie. While we have other agents still on staff, your experience in battling Team Plasma in Unova may be of precious importance.”

“Well then, I would say that Polaris should prepare for trouble,” she shouted, posing dramatically.

“And they best get ready, because we’re bringing double,” James added.

“We’ll protect the world from their devasta…”

“Would you two just shut up already?” Meowth snapped angrily. “We’ve been past the motto thing for years now! There’s no reason to start it up again!”

“Can I at least get to say that we’ll keep them from uniting all peoples within their nation?” asked a pouting James.

“Meowth is right, the motto goes,” Zager warned, not even bothering to turn around. “We are aware that Polaris may be planning a major operation, therefore, we must try to get the upper hand on them. Have a look at this.”

Several new windows opened on the computer’s screen. The outlying ones displayed differing energy readout charts, while the most important one at the center showed a three-dimensional image of a giant, jagged rock floating through outer space.

“This is the meteor Persephone-2213, which is currently on a track to make its closest pass to Earth in over a millennium. Some smaller meteorites from the cloud surrounding it have passed through the planet’s atmosphere and impacted. It is believed that Persephone-2213 and its surrounding satellites are made of Meteonite, the element we discovered in Unova. As you may remember, Meteonite is a highly conductive element with extremely unusual reactive properties, and we do not know everything about it yet.”

“You’re going to tell us to go get one, aren’t you?” Jessie complained, shrugging her shoulders. “Don’t you remember what happened last time we messed with that thing?”

“The boss docked us pay and lunch for nearly blowing up Castelia City,” James added, his voice reflecting a clear timid attitude.

“And we ain’t getting involved in that again!” finished Meowth.

“You don’t have a choice,” Zager said sternly, “procuring a Meteonite fragment may give us an upper hand against Polaris. Our rudimentary radar devices have been able to pick up faint traces of the energy signature associated with Meteonite on the west end of Route 29 near Cherrygrove City. I want you three to go with Pierce to Cherrygrove City, determine the exact location of the Meteonite shard there and attempt to capture it.”

“We’ll be coordinating everything on our end from here,” Ariana chimed in to explain. “Any necessary supplies you’ll need can be provided here as well. After you get suited up, we’ll get you your equipment so the mission can begin.”

Turning away from Ariana, Jessie inquired, “I assume that you’ll be the one providing us with our tools again, Dr. Zager?”

“That’s right. I’ll make sure you have everything you need.”

“This really is just like old times, then,” she said to James as they both turned.

“The stakes weren’t this high last time, though.” A strange hint of sadness could be noticed in James’s voice; the meaning of their new mission had clearly already taken its toll on him.

Jessie and James eventually walked off in the direction of another exit from the lab, with Meowth and Pierce silently following. Pierce ended up being the last one to pass through the door, so he closed it behind himself. Once they were alone again, Zager and Ariana shared an uneasy glare between themselves.

“Do you really think they’re going to be okay dealing with all of this?” he wondered aloud.

“I sure hope so.”

-:-

Matt, Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Professor Juniper were sitting around a table in the elegant café they had selected for their meal. Each had a plate of food sitting on the white cloth covering the table before them, and they were talking intently as they ate.

“So, Olivia, what are your goals for your journey?” asked Juniper, puckering her lips after taking a sip of the hot tomato soup she had ordered.

“I want my dad to come back,” Olivia responded, prompting a nervous exchange of glances between the adults, who all knew that her father Rich was gone. “He left because I wasn’t living up to his expectations. That’s what I believe. If I can win a lot of badges and Ribbons, and win the Pokémon League and Grand Festival, he’ll have to admit I’m good and come back to love me again.”

“And where do you think your dad is right now?”

“I don’t know. I’m sure he’s watching me, though. He’ll come back.”

Pensively poking at the eggs and sausage on his plate, Matt added, “Rich disappeared five years ago, as you already know, Professor. I was there.”

“Wait, you saw what happened to him?” Bunny choked out, half-swallowing a scoop of oatmeal in her haste.

“I was there the day he disappeared, yes. I guess it all started six years ago, while I was in the region of Oceannia looking for Spheres to aid in the development of the ALEA, my clean energy invention. Well…” Matt’s expression and tone both soured noticeably as he pulled down the wide brim of his blue-and-silver hat. “It was me and my supposed girlfriend Cassy, actually. We both met up with Olivia and Rich and her mother Anabel then. That was when they were fighting that terrorist group that called itself Enigma Shadow.”

“‘Supposed’ girlfriend?” Nekou sniffed, barely hiding a condescending tone in her voice. “Why would a ladies man like you need to say that, I wonder?”

“Nekou, shut up,” Matt sighed, readjusting his hat; the yellow feather tucked into it trembled slightly as he did so. “To make the very long story very short, she wasn’t who she said she was and we split on very bad terms. Anyway, Enigma Shadow was trying to take over the world with Pokémon whose hearts were sealed, rendering them soulless battling machines. Olivia’s parents were leading the charge to stop Enigma Shadow from realizing their plans using these Shadow Pokémon. Eventually, the person that was manipulating the organization, a woman named Judy, managed to call forth Arceus. She lost control of it, though, and in the confusion Rich saved us all before disappearing.

But yes, I was there the last time any of us saw Rich. I think he knew something was going to happen, though, because he left instructions for me to take Olivia under my wing, which is what I’ve been doing for the past five years.”

“I’ve learned a lot from Matt,” Olivia bragged, before sarcastically adding, “at least he’s good for that much.”

“Well, I’ve really been learning alongside you,” Matt said, seemingly brushing off her insult. In actuality, he was glad to have her saying such things, because it meant that she wasn’t becoming emotional over discussing her father. “That was the entire point of it all.”

“So… I understand you four have been on some pretty exciting adventures and met some Legendary Pokémon already.”

Juniper mentioning the travels the group had already experienced was what it took to loosen up Olivia’s attitude. Her eyes lit up, and she began shouting excitedly, “We have! We met a bunch of rare Pokémon and time traveled at the Indigo Plateau, and then in Whitegold City, we saw Victini, Cresselia and Darkrai!”

“My, my, Olivia,” laughed the professor, “there’s no need to get ahead of yourself. Tell me about what happened at the Indigo Plateau first, how about that?”

“Matt was teaching me for the past five years at the Rustboro School in Hoenn,” Olivia explained, toning back her enthusiasm only slightly. “We went to the Indigo Plateau before coming here because my mom was hosting the Frontier Society’s opening commemoration tournament.”

“Did you participate?”

“No.”

“I did, though,” Matt offered to supply some additional information. “I competed alongside Tanya, my Heatran. Unfortunately, the tournament got interrupted by Team Rocket’s attack, and I had to help the police bring Team Rocket’s boss into custody instead.”

“I got the job of being Matt’s bodyguard at the same time, too,” Nekou sarcastically added, “and he was lucky to have me guarding it.”

Playing no mind to the clenched expression Matt was showing in response to Nekou’s comments, Juniper turned to Bunny and asked, “So where do you fit into all of this, Bunny?”

“I already had arrangements with Matt. We were looking for the ruins of an ancient town called Argyros that once stood near the Indigo Plateau. Little did we expect that finding them would be the easy part.”

“So we went up to the ruins of Argyros Town, and this weird Pichu appeared,” elaborated Olivia. “I followed it and it led us to a strange light inside a temple.”

“It was a Time Ripple,” Matt clarified, much to the surprise of Juniper, who visibly jumped at the mention of it.

“You found one of those?!” In her excitement, Juniper slammed both of her hands down on the table and stood up. Bunny held onto the side of her oatmeal bowl to stabilize it, while Nekou and Olivia nonchalantly continued eating their bacon strips and blueberry muffin, respectively. “That’s a portal opened from another place in time!”

“We know,” Matt chuckled, “because we went through it. On the other side was this country in the year 1850. A military official of the era was planning to overthrow the government there, and we ended up getting roped into helping stop him.”

“And I got to be a hero!”

“Don’t sell her short,” Bunny said of Olivia to Juniper, “she really was brave during the war that broke out. She was right out there with the soldiers trying to quell the rebellion doing her part to fight. I, for one, was very impressed.”

“It sounds like you did a very good job,” the professor complimented as she sat back down. “Olivia, if you were able to fight like that, then you already possess a pretty impressive skill set, and that’ll come in handy for you out there on your journey. Of course, that’s not the only big thing you’ve been involved in… there’s still the events in Whitegold City. You must tell me everything that happened there!”

“Someone’s really worked up,” Nekou deadpanned, her eyes half-closed behind her glasses.

Growing flustered, Juniper tried to explain, saying, “The incident in Whitegold City has been all over the news, and one thing I know about it is that Victini was deeply involved. I… I want to know what happened there from the people who witnessed Victini’s power firsthand. It’s for my research!”

“For science, huh? I guess you’re calling yourself a mad scientist, then, because only people like me get to use that one.”

“Nekou, don’t, please,” Matt argued. He got a glare shot his way by Nekou for his trouble, but it did manage to stop her from saying anything further. Sighing, Matt returned to answering Juniper’s question. “We went to Whitegold City so I could give a speech about new energy sources at the behest of Captain Liam Everton, the president of oil conglomerate Everton International. Or maybe I should say former president, now that he’s dead, but…”

“That little prick…” Olivia growled into the crumb-covered plate before her, paying no mind to the shocked look Matt gave her over her language.

“Now, now, Olivia, there’s no need to use those kinds of words,” he gently suggested.

“And what of it if she does?” Nekou rudely interjected. “Words are words. They don’t hurt anyone… unless you make them.”

Much to Matt’s relief, he was saved from getting into a hopeless argument with Nekou when Juniper piped up, interrupting the escalating scene.

“What’s going on? What are you talking about?”

“Well,” Matt explained, “As it turned out, Liam Everton was in pursuit of Victini because he hoped to gain the power of the Victory Star from it. To that end, he released a Darkrai into the city, forcing Victini’s guardian, Cresselia, to come out and fight it. It fell to the four of us, along with a team we assembled, to stop him. Our allies were Liam Everton’s former first mate from his naval years, an old fortuneteller woman, a magician and his assistant, an undercover reporter and a posh girl we happened to meet named Katorena.”

“The Victory Star is the power to see the way to victory itself,” Bunny added, noting Juniper’s expression of intense concentration. “I could tell you were about to ask that. Normally, the power is obtained through the creation of a mental contract between the recipient and Victini, and will guide the way only to the specific victory the recipient desires most at the time of the contract’s creation. Everton wanted more than that. He devised a way to make his mind completely blank when he made his contract, which rendered him able to use the Victory Star in any way he wished. He was going to use it to take control of the entire world’s oil supply and bring all nations under his rule, but first, he viciously attacked and tried to kill all of us while using its power to make his Pokémon stronger.”

“We had to fight back.” Unlike Matt and Bunny, recalling the events of the Whitegold City crisis visibly disturbed Olivia, a fact the others hadn’t been aware of before. She had her hands rolled into fists so tightly that her fingernails were almost piercing the skin of her palms, and her whole body was shuddering subtly. “It took all of us to pull it off. We spread illusions of Victini throughout Whitegold City to waste Everton’s time, and all it did was leave us all to fight him individually. He ended up flooding the city anyway, and it took Matt’s Golurk and Sigilyph and then Victini itself to finally stop that horrible dragon…”

“Horrible dragon?” Juniper questioned, puckering her lips.

“That mean old man had a Hydreigon, and that was the Pokémon he used to try and kill us,” finished Olivia, her voice shaking all the while.

“That makes sense when I consider the details.” Surprisingly, Juniper was now speaking and conducting herself in a very serious manner. “Hydreigon is a terribly brutal species of Pokémon, known for attacking just about anything in the wild. It is easy to see how that power could be used to very dangerous degree if harnessed by the wrong person. Is there anything more to your tale, Olivia? Has anything else happened since Whitegold City?”

“We stayed over there for a little while and then came right here, so no.”

“In that case, then, Olivia…” Before asking the fateful question, Juniper wiped the last drop of her soup from her lip and pushed her empty bowl away. “…have you finally decided which starter Pokémon you’d like yet?”

All eyes moved to Olivia as Matt, Nekou and Bunny all anticipated what she’d say. In their minds, they had opinions of their own – Bunny actually suspected that Olivia might break the mold and take the Fire-type Tepig, while Matt and Nekou thought that she’d take Oshawott instead. Both sides used the same logic to arrive at their conclusions; that logic being the idea of each starter Pokémon attracting Rich’s attention in some way.

Finally, Olivia swallowed the last bite of her muffin and sharply stood up. “It’ll be Oshawott. No matter what’s happened, I can’t betray my dad’s expectations by going with a Fire-type. That said, I still wanted Totodile, so this is just another Pokémon to me.”

“Shouldn’t you be a little more enthusiastic, Olivia?” Matt asked. “Oshawott’s going to be with you for your whole journey, so…”

“I don’t even really care,” Olivia growled back, showing a degree of indignation. “I’m only taking it because I pretty much have to take something.”

Olivia’s attitude clearly disturbed Juniper, who stared at her with a stunned look of confusion in her eyes. In her home region she’d been distributing starter Pokémon for a long time, but she was unable to recall any other time that a new trainer had so much indifference toward the entire process. However, she then remembered a trainer to whom she’d given a Snivy some years ago; at the time, he kept saying that he only wished to become stronger at any cost, but eventually, he learned to understand his Pokémon more and eventually became a respected Gym Leader in Unova.

With that memory in mind and the reasoning that Olivia could change too, Juniper lifted up her briefcase onto the table and flipped it open. The first thing she removed was the Poké Ball containing Oshawott, which she set on the table and pushed toward Olivia.

“If Oshawott is your choice, here you go. I hope you’ll get along well. Why not let him out?”

Sighing, Olivia picked up the Poké Ball and opened it. “Fine.”

From the flash of light that emerged from the ball, Oshawott took shape. He looked inquisitively at Olivia, Matt and Nekou before finally looking back to Olivia and realizing that he must have been the one she selected. Excited to have received this honor, Oshawott cheerfully plucked his shell off his chest and tossed it into the air before catching and replacing it.

“He’s pretty cute!” Bunny exclaimed with a laugh. “Olivia, I think he actually really suits you.”

“Totodile would have suited me better, but I guess this is going to have to work out.”

Noticing that Oshawott was upset by Olivia’s comments, Nekou decided to try and lighten the mood at the table. Taking out a Poké Ball of her own, she said, “Olivia, you really should give Oshawott a chance. He might surprise you. Perhaps it will help if Marie does something?”

Nekou opened her Poké Ball, releasing a Sneasel. Marie yawned and stretched out her black body before looking down and taking notice of Oshawott; she made a face to playfully intimidate the young Water-type before snatching his shell with her sharp white claws and running off. Infuriated, Oshawott jumped off the table after Marie and chased her, causing all the people seated there – even Olivia – to laugh.

“Now, Olivia,” Juniper spoke up, being the first to return to attention, “about the other half of our deal. I said I would give you one of my Pokémon in exchange for you doing something for me. What I would like you to do…” Before continuing, Juniper took a pink, cell-phone shaped device out of her briefcase and showed it to the others; it had a pattern of a sideways Poké Ball on its bottom half and a screen on its top, with a second screen able to be flipped out from behind. “I would like you to take this Pokédex and help me by documenting the Unova Pokémon you see in Johto and Kanto. My assistant is out there conducting research on how our migration efforts are progressing, but I could use a second set of eyes in the field. It would help me learn more about how the Unova Pokémon are acclimating to their new environments and interacting with the Pokémon species native to this continent.”

“I don’t see any reason why I can’t do that,” Olivia replied, accepting the Pokédex into her possession. “It’ll be a good adventure, and one more thing I can try to do well.”

“I know you’ll pull it off, Olivia,” Matt complimented, albeit rather feebly. “All the learning you’ve done should pay off now.”

“Of course it will. Do you really think I’ll fail?”

-:-

With Jessie, James and Meowth riding as passengers, Pierce was driving his car through an underground tunnel. All of them were now disguised in identical black trench coats, fedoras and sunglasses; even Meowth, despite his smaller, feline body, had one suited for him.

In the dashboard of the car was a small video screen, through which Dr. Zager was communicating with the four.

“Proceed to the checkpoint inside Dark Cave,” the elderly scientist instructed his agents. “From there, go south on foot until you are just outside Cherrygrove City, and attempt to confirm the location of the Meteonite shard.”

“Understood, Dr. Zager,” Pierce stiffly responded, not removing his eyes from the rough road ahead.

Suddenly bursting into the picture by pushing Zager aside, Ariana loudly directed, “Jessie, James, Meowth, I don’t want you guys taking any crazy risks on this operation. We can’t afford a major confrontation with Polaris yet. For that reason, I’ve prepared a contingency plan in case something happens to prevent you from collecting the Meteonite shard itself.”

“A contingency plan?” Jessie repeated questioningly.

“You two didn’t brief us on the details of such a thing,” James quietly complained, poking his fingers together.

“You need not worry about briefing,” Zager informed them, making his way back into view as best he could. “I took the liberty of adding all necessary mission plans to your new R-Pad, which is chief among your equipment.”

The Great Butler
15th June 2012, 11:47 AM
“Great!” Meowth shrilled. “Now, let’s go get that chunk of space rock and show those freaks that they should fear us!”

-:-

The doors of the café opened, allowing Marie and Oshawott to dart out, still engaged in their chase over Oshawott’s shell. Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Professor Juniper followed, all laughing at the childlike intensity of Oshawott’s quest to save his shell from the mischievous Sneasel. Matt brought up the rear, as he was finishing putting his coat back on.

“The first place you’ll want to go is Violet City,” Juniper was explaining in her usual cheery mood. “The Gym there specializes in Flying-type Pokémon. Since you have to go through Route 29, Cherrygrove City, Route 30 and Route 31 to get there, you should be more than prepared to face the Gym Leader.”

“I’ll be ready!” Determination flowed from Olivia, surrounding her like a cloud. One could tell from her eyes alone that the daunting task she faced did not intimidate her. Even while paying little mind to what Oshawott could be capable of, she was more than confident that her other Pokémon could do the job.

“If we’ll be passing through Cherrygrove City, that’s good for me, too,” Matt commented, finally catching up to the others. “I’ve heard Cherrygrove City is where the Battle Arcade, the first of the seven facilities associated with the Frontier Society, is located. I don’t really have any leads on what I’m looking for myself yet, so I figure that’s as good a place to start as any.”

“It’s sounding like we’re going to be quite busy soon. Not that I’m complaining, all this stuff sounds exci…”

“You four! I finally found you!”

Bunny was cut off mid-sentence by a deep male voice with a commanding, nearly bone-chilling presence. It belonged to the young man blocking their path to the outskirts of New Bark Town, a strange figure wrapped in a long, ragged black poncho who kept his appearance carefully hidden using a stitched-up black hat and a dark green scarf, leaving only his sea-green eyes visible.

“Oh, joy,” Nekou deadpanned, “a roadblock already.”

“Who are you?” Matt demanded in annoyance. “Tell us now or get out of the way. We’re busy.”

“So the sycophants of the false messiah Rich Mistbloom still fail to recognize the messenger of truth,” the mysterious young man growled from under his scarf. “Unsurprising. Even those who claim to be seeking the truth are truly blind to it.”

“You done calling my dad names yet? Keep it up and one of us is going to kick you in the ***.”

“Olivia!”

Ignoring both Olivia’s threat and Matt’s reaction to it, the strange figure turned his glare to Oshawott and Marie, causing Oshawott to freeze in fear. “Rich Mistbloom was the brother of Sootopolis City Gym Leader and Hoenn Champion Wallace. Olivia, I see that your obsessive dedication to preserving that man’s memory has continued as far as dictating your selection of a starter Pokémon. You asked who I was?” Thrusting out his right arm, the young man revealed a Poké Ball in his hand and the tattered sleeve of his decrepit clothing. “Because you cannot remember despite meeting me at the Indigo Plateau, I’ll remind you that my intention is to show this world the truth about the miserable Rich Mistbloom. Olivia, you call your father a hero, as do many others. Because you identify yourself as his heir, my defeat of you right here will be the first step toward my goal!”

“I think this punk is stepping up to you, Olivia,” Nekou whispered. “He’s clearly got a few screws loose, so go ahead. **** him up.”

“I have every intention of doing that. Hey, Oshawott!” During the young man’s rant, Oshawott had shaken off his fear and finally managed to get his shell back from Marie, so he was able to turn when Olivia called out to him. “If you want to learn how I do stuff, sit on the sidelines and watch this!”

Though bothered that Olivia wasn’t picking him for the battle, Oshawott nodded to her and waddled to the sidelines, where he was soon joined by Matt, Nekou and Bunny. Juniper, meanwhile, stood in a position at an equal distance from each of the two trainers.

“What shall the rules be for this match?” she asked out loud of them both.

“A pair of one-on-one battles with no substitutions,” Olivia’s opponent instructed. “When one side’s Pokémon faints, that matchup is over and both sides must switch.”

“Is that acceptable, Olivia?” Juniper called out.

“It’s fine by me. Bring it on!”

“Well then, this match will now get underway! It’s Olivia versus the… mysterious… um… cloaked trainer? Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Send out your Pokémon!”

“I’ll be going first!” the young man roared, his cold glare giving way to fire in his eyes. “Timburr, leave port!”

The mysterious trainer’s Poké Ball gave way in a blinding burst of light to a small, gray Pokémon holding a beam of wood under his left arm. His body, which was almost entirely pure muscle, had pink veins bulging out in several places.

“A new one already?” Olivia wondered. Recalling the instructions she’d just received, she reached for the Pokédex.

“Timburr, the Muscular Pokémon. Type is Fighting. It fights by swinging a piece of lumber around. It is close to evolving when it can handle the lumber without difficulty. These Pokémon appear at building sites and help out with construction. They always carry squared logs.”

“A Fighting-type… Minccino won’t be any good against that thing…” Olivia mumbled to herself. The circumstances essentially made her mind up for her, and she threw out her other Poké Ball, calling out, “Roselia, let’s play!”

Despite his small stature, the mysterious trainer’s Timburr was still taller than Olivia’s Roselia, but she didn’t let that scare her. The tiny flower Pokémon stood bravely before her opponent’s gaze and glared back with all the ferocity she could muster.

Off on the side, Bunny said to Matt and Nekou, “A Fighting-type against a Grass-and-Poison-type. Olivia should be able to handle this.”

“Yeah,” Matt concurred, before adding, “Fighting-type moves don’t work very well against Poison-types.”

“Olivia will win this, I’d even bet a beer and some chips on it.” Nekou took a bite of her butter-drenched bread roll after proclaiming her wager, while Matt and Bunny looked on in exasperation.

“The first matchup is Roselia VS. Timburr!” Juniper announced. “Begin!”

“Timburr, Pound!” called the cloaked trainer.

“Roselia, use Energy Ball!”

While Roselia gathered up energy from the terrain around her, giving it the shape of a crackling green sphere, Timburr darted toward her with his right arm pulled back. Upon reaching his target, Timburr swung to punch Roselia; however, he instead hit her Energy Ball, which resulted in it exploding. Both Pokémon took injury from the exchange and were pushed away from each other.

“So that’s your short-range tactic. Impressive, just like your father.”

Confused by her adversary’s words, Olivia raised an eyebrow and said, “What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything.”

“So you say. I won’t fall for the deceptive ways you’ve clearly inherited. I have skills of my own too, you know.”

“Oh, just shut up already,” Olivia sighed. “Roselia, try a Sludge Bomb!”

“Is that how it’s going to be? Timburr, Rock Throw!”

Both Pokémon sent projectiles at each other as their respective followup attacks; Roselia generated a blast of purple slime from her flowery arms, while Timburr scraped up a small rock from the ground using his wooden beam before throwing it. Neither had particularly good aim, but Timburr’s Rock Throw actually managed to graze Roselia, her Sludge Bomb missed Timburr entirely. Her right arm went limp as she fell onto the corresponding knee.

“Your aim is poor. If you cannot strike me from afar, then this battle is already over. Timburr, use Rock Throw again. Knock out that Roselia’s other leg!”

“Don’t give up yet, Roselia!” Olivia cried, trying to conceal the feeling of dread that was creeping over her. “Try another Energy Ball!”

With only her left arm immediately mobile, Roselia’s pace in creating the Energy Ball was more sluggish than usual. This left Timburr all the time he needed to pull up and toss another stone, but before her left leg got knocked out by it, she managed to send the Energy Ball flying. Roselia collapsed to the ground just as Timburr got hit in the forehead, singeing the protrusion sticking out from above his eyes.

“Roselia!”

Olivia’s bad feeling about the situation was shared by Matt, Nekou and Bunny, who were watching the battle unfold in silence. They all recognized that she was in trouble, and reluctantly had to acknowledge that the strange young man was more skilled than they gave him credit for.

“Well, Timburr, it’s about time to take what is rightfully ours. Use Pound to finish this up!”

“Roselia, get ready!”

There was no chance for Roselia to escape from Timburr as the Fighting-type bore down on her. She knew this, so instead of trying in vain to get away, she simply braced herself against the ground.

Timburr smiled as he drew closer and closer to his target. The blow he had prepared would surely defeat her, he believed.

Little did he expect that getting within range for his strike would leave him wide open for Roselia’s own counterattack. A thorn glowing with purple light suddenly emerged from the rose on Roselia’s right arm, and she drove it into Timburr’s stomach. Caught completely off guard by this Poison Sting, Timburr howled in pain as he flew back through the air. His wooden beam slipped from his grasp during the recoil from the hit, landing a few feet from his trainer.

“So you’ve still got some fight left in you,” Olivia’s opponent growled, briefly widening his eyes. “It is clear that you have inherited your father’s clever approach to battling. But I won’t fall to a usurper like you! Timburr, no more games! Use Rock Throw and hold nothing back!”

Without his beam to dig up rocks with, Timburr simply shoved his hands into the ground instead, pulling a jagged stone from the earth manually.

Feeling the tide of the battle turning, Olivia was able to smile slightly for the first time as she ordered, “Hit Timburr with Sludge Bomb, Roselia! You’ve got a shot!”

Roselia’s aim was still off by a bit, but it was not as poor as earlier. She managed to get the blast of sludge to hit Timburr’s lower body, causing him to cringe as the toxins burned his skin. He did, however, manage to fling the rock he was holding back at Roselia, barely missing her due to his weakening stance.

Timburr was becoming tired and weak, a fact conveyed by his labored breathing and trembling body. His trainer picked up on this, and resolved to do something about it.

“If you’re to keep going, Timburr, you’re going to need more health. Drain Punch!”

When Timburr clenched his right fist on this command, a red aura enveloped it. He threw all of his remaining strength into lunging at Roselia one last time, but he realized just as well as Roselia and Olivia did that this was probably a kamikaze attack.

“Finish it off with Energy Ball, Roselia!”

Drain Punch managed to connect with Roselia, but it was not very effective due its poor type matchup, and Roselia held fast against it. She brought her arms up around Timburr on each side and formed the Energy Ball with her Fighting-type opponent right at the center. The resulting explosion violently threw Roselia back, but while she got back up from skidding on the ground, the smoke cleared to show a clearly unconscious Timburr lying at the center of a ring of burned terrain.

“Timburr is no longer able to continue!” Juniper declared, raising her arm toward Olivia and Roselia. “Roselia wins the first round!”

“Roselia!” Though victorious, Roselia had suffered some injuries of her own, so Olivia was careful when she picked up the Pokémon in her arms. “You did really well out there, okay? Rest up now.”

Hearing a soft chirp in response, Olivia smiled and shuttled her Pokémon over to where her friends were sitting, where she set Roselia down alongside Marie and Oshawott.

“I’m very proud of you, Olivia,” Matt said. “You showed some great tactical thinking and on-your-feet decision making just now.”

“Thank you. Even if it would mean more coming from my dad, I still like hearing that.”

“Here, Olivia, you’ve earned this.” Nekou happened to have another one of the butter-drenched rolls, and as a reward for how well Olivia was doing, she gave it to her. “You’re halfway to cleaning this arrogant little jerk’s clock, so don’t lose your pace now.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t intend to.” Turning around but still reveling in the praise given to her by her friends, Olivia strode back to her battle position while eating the roll one bite at a time. She felt like things were happening incredibly fast – the day wasn’t even over yet, and she’d already met a professor, suffered a setback in her quest before it even began and received a substitute for the starter Pokémon she wanted. Now she was in her very first battle as an official trainer and halfway to fully winning it, and it excited her beyond her original goal of impressing her father. Winning, she was quickly coming to discover, felt good.

Just as Olivia returned to her position, the young man finally recalled his Timburr, the Pokémon’s wooden beam being pulled into the Poké Ball at the same time as its wielder.

“It is unsurprising that you would be able to defeat the weaker of my two Pokémon, Olivia Lynn Mistbloom,” he thundered, his cutting eyes blazing with rage. “Oh, how speaking that name makes my skin crawl. Someone who should not exist has no right to consider themselves entitled to anything more than the air they are lucky enough to breathe! Now… Drowzee, leave port!”

The sleepy-looking Pokémon that burst from the young man’s second and final Poké Ball stretched his yellow-and-black body and yawned, the excess air causing his trunk to vibrate. He then moved his gaze to Olivia in an apathetic show of interest in what he’d be facing.

“Alright then! I wanted to use you in the last round, but Timburr was just too much for you to handle. This ought to be where you can shine. Minccino, let’s play!”

To face Drowzee, Olivia sent out her Minccino, a Pokémon that had the appearance of a gray chinchilla with big black eyes. She cheered happily when she got out of her Poké Ball, but shrunk back slightly when she saw Drowzee lazily staring at her.

“The final matchup is Minccino VS. Drowzee! Begin!”

“I want to make this quick, Minccino. Hit it with Tail Slap!”

Shaking her initial fear off, Minccino ran up to Drowzee and sprang into the air before starting to spin, striking Drowzee in the face repeatedly.

“Drowzee, use a close range Poison Gas!”

Just as Minccino fell back after the fourth and final hit of Tail Slap, Drowzee expelled a cloud of noxious purple gas from his trunk right into her face. She was overcome by a violent coughing fit and rolled backwards, her movements becoming strained as the poison set in.

“Minccino got poisoned!” Bunny exclaimed in dismay. “That’s going to make this all the harder for Olivia…”

“Come on, Olivia!” Nekou called out. “Don’t let him get away with that ****! Finish this before it’s too late!”

“I’m working on it!” Olivia’s patience was being tried as well, through a combination of the pressure she already felt in addition to her concern for Minccino’s well being. “Do you think you can pull off a Swift, Minccino?”

“I won’t let you! Drowzee, Psycho Cut!”

Simultaneously, Drowzee quickly crossed and uncrossed his arms to send two blades of concentrated psychic energy at Minccino, while Minccino returned the favor with a shower of star-shaped rays from her tail. Though Drowzee’s trainer had intended for Psycho Cut to block Swift, the stars actually passed right below the energy blades in midair; as a result, both Minccino and Drowzee took harsh blows, Minccino suffering more due to the continuing effects of the poison.

“If she doesn’t win this quickly, the poison will do her in before Drowzee’s attacks do…” Matt thought, shifting uncomfortably. Even though Olivia losing would only cause the battle to end in a tie, he felt that she needed a comfortable victory at this early point.

“We can’t do this with just Swift, Minccino! Try Aqua Tail!”

“Coming in close again, are you?”

Instead of going for multiple hits, this time Minccino aimed squarely for the middle of Drowzee’s head for a single attack using her tail, which had taken on an aquatic blue aura. Drowzee, surprisingly, just stood still, allowing Minccino a clear shot. He barely even flinched when the Aqua Tail made contact.

“Perfect range. Now, Drowzee, use Thief.”

Drowzee jabbed his right hand forward like a spear, catching Minccino in the stomach as she drifted back after her attack. She squealed in agony from the crushing blow, which sent her crashing to the ground, nearly unable to get up.

“M-Minccino…” A conflict was developing in Olivia’s mind; she could not decide if she wanted to win or lose anymore. Obviously, pulling out victory over this opponent would be something that felt very good, but she now questioned if the price was worth it – Minccino could barely stand, suffering greatly under the effects of Drowzee’s Poison Gas and subsequent relentless assault. She began raising her arm to stop the battle, knowing she’d be unable to live with herself if Minccino didn’t come back from this battle.

Before she could speak, though, she was cut off by her opponent. “My victory is now assured. This is the first step on my quest to show the truth to the world! So many fools throughout this world see your father as some sort of hero for stopping Enigma Shadow, but I will make them see Rich Mistbloom’s true vile nature!”

“That’s enough!” Seeing Olivia about to cry rendered Matt unable to take sitting by any longer, and he jumped up and confronted the angry trainer. “All you’re using your Pokémon for is to destroy the lives of everyone who believed in one person? What could Rich have possibly done to you that justifies what you’re doing right now, cruelly crushing the one thread of hope this girl has?”

“Silence yourself, you fool!” he shot back, visibly shocking Olivia, Bunny, Juniper and even Nekou. “Take a look at yourself, you’re just as disgusting. You call yourself someone who seeks the truth, but right now you deny it! I will gain more power so I may destroy the lies consuming this world! Right now, you could not possibly understand the years of agony that Rich Mistbloom subjected me to!”

The cloaked young man’s breakdown afforded Olivia with one precious advantage, however – it gave her time to think about how the battle had progressed so far, which led her to realize that she still had one way out.

While Matt, Bunny and Nekou stared at Drowzee’s trainer, Olivia shouted, “Quickly, Minccino, use Swift! Aim for Drowzee’s legs!”

Olivia’s voice gave Minccino a burst of strength, and she jumped to action, raining glowing stars down into Drowzee’s legs. Her opponent was too preoccupied at first to prepare a defense, so when he realized that Drowzee had been undercut and dropped to his hands and knees, he started to panic.

“Drowzee, get up! Get up now! Don’t fail me now!! Use Psycho Cut!”

“You’re finished! Consider this one from my dad… Tail Slap!”

Drowzee was struggling to stand, and when Minccino saw this, she felt a rush of energy overcome her and darted right at her stunned Psychic-type foe. His face was like a target to her, and she took great joy in delivering each of the five consecutive strikes she landed right in the center of Drowzee’s forehead. The last hit was forceful enough to throw Drowzee up into the air and down onto his back, with his point of fainting coming halfway between the two.

“Drowzee is unable to continue!” Nekou sprang from her seat to embrace Olivia with her good arm, and their combined cheering drowned out the rest of Juniper declaring Olivia the winner.

Remembering that she still had a tired Pokémon out on the field, Olivia pulled away from Nekou’s embrace just as Matt and Bunny reached them. “Minccino!” she called out, noticing that her beloved Pokémon was barely able to stand any longer. “Minccino, hold on!”

Olivia was too far away from Minccino to catch her before she fell, but luckily, Juniper was right there to do it instead. The tiny Pokémon trembled violently in the professor’s hand, and she looked up at Olivia and said, “Minccino and Roselia need to be healed.”

“Are they going to be okay?!”

“Don’t get so worked up, Olivia, this is nothing too serious. Professor Elm’s lab actually has a professional-grade Pokémon healing machine, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind us borrowing it. If you’d lend me Roselia and Minccino’s Poké Balls, I can restore them pretty quickly.”

“That sounds pretty good to me,” Olivia responded, handing over the two Poké Balls. “Would you, please?”

“Of course.” Juniper smiled warmly at Olivia before turning to her two Pokémon and pointing the Poké Balls at them. “Roselia, Minccino, come with me and I’ll fix you up.”

A red laser shot out of the button on each Poké Ball, engulfing Olivia’s two Pokémon and pulling them back into the safe confines of the spheres. Juniper then nodded approvingly to Olivia before walking back toward the direction of Professor Elm’s nearby lab.

“Well you’re just something else, aren’t you?” Bunny beamed, clapping a hand down on Olivia’s shoulder. “I knew you were pretty courageous, but that last move that turned the flow of the battle… that took guts to do.”

“Yeah, it did… but after all, when you put me and Minccino together, we won’t be stopped!”

Matt laughed, simultaneously out of amusement at Olivia’s ever-cheerful nature and relief that she hadn’t yet brought up Rich again. “That was an intense match, even for your first battle. Pulling it out under pressure deserves respect.”

“And of course I’m proud of you!” Nekou cut in. “Tell you what, how about I buy us all some pizza when we get to Cherrygrove City?” Before giving Olivia a chance to answer, Nekou leaned in close with her eyes half closed and, in a voice just loud enough to deliberately let the others hear, said, “That means Matt is buying us all pizza when we get to Cherrygrove City.”

Her face brightening in a mischievous way, Olivia immediately declared, “Hell yeah! Of course I’m up for that!”

The laughs being shared by the group save for Matt did not last long, however. The cloaked trainer called his Drowzee back to his Poké Ball and stomped on the ground, causing the quartet to turn their heads toward him.

“You are a worthy adversary, Olivia Mistbloom,” he growled, breathing noticeably more deeply than usual. “You are definitely your father’s daughter, I will concede that much. But, this is not over. I will grow stronger… I will grow stronger and use that power to show this entire world the truth behind that false messiah they believe in. You four are more than welcome to try and stop me if you wish… but you will fail, because the truth will always win out over everything else. Let me leave you with one piece of advice – remember my name this time. I am Renzo, Renzo Milos, and I will avenge what Rich Mistbloom did to us.”

Having completed his speech, Renzo turned and briskly walked off toward the exit gate of the town; a spiked ponytail of sky-blue hair outlined in black slipped from under his scarf as he walked. Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny were all left confused by his strange behavior and sudden departure, trying to make sense of it all as they waited for Juniper to return.

“Okay, someone tell me they’re actually going to care to remember the little ****er’s name,” Nekou groaned while slouching forward. “I stopped caring.”

“Renzo Milos, was it?” Bunny repeated to herself. “Besides the fact that his name sounds like some sort of ancient statue, there’s nothing that would make him stand out in it. It doesn’t help tell me why he’d hate Rich so much.”

Paying little attention to either Renzo or her three adult companions, Olivia turned to Oshawott and declared, “Did you see that? That’s how we’re going to do things. We’re going to work hard and find my dad. Now is your chance to leave if you want, because we won’t be turning back.”

Much to Olivia’s surprise, Oshawott did not back down from the seriousness of the situation even as she presented it to him. He simply said his name and jumped up enthusiastically, showing that he was more than accepting of Olivia’s terms.

“I see you’ve gotten a little closer to Oshawott.” Juniper had suddenly reappeared, carrying the Poké Balls containing Roselia and Minccino on a small tray. “That’s a good sign.”

“I’m not getting any closer to it,” Olivia objected while collecting her two Poké Balls. “I’m just getting along with it better.”

Juniper laughed. “I’m sure that you’ll learn to like each other soon enough. For now, why not just head for Cherrygrove City and see how things go?”

“I think that’s a good idea, too,” Matt commented.

“Then that’s what we’ll do! To Cherrygrove City!”

With Oshawott nipping at her heels, Olivia marched off toward the town gate in a haughty manner, prompting Matt, Bunny and Nekou to follow her; Marie, the runt Sneasel, jumped onto Nekou’s back for transportation. They all waved goodbye to Professor Juniper as they left, their minds shifting from the reflective moods of a beginning to the eager anticipation of things to come.

-:-

In the meeting chamber of the Sacred Helix, seven of the ten seats were occupied, with the ones ranked one, five and ten empty. The assembled seven were speaking amongst themselves when the sound of a door opening pierced the air in the room, prompting them to fall silent.

A tall, lithe man in a white suit emerged from the shadows behind the number one seat, his gray hair making him stand out even more in the darkness of the chamber. Unlike the others, he was not wearing any kind of mask whatsoever, and as he sat down in the chair, the other seven began to complain.

“What is this? We get called here and Father doesn’t bother to show up?” Jeunes’s objection gave voice to the dismay of many of his colleagues, and they fell into line behind him. “This was supposed to be an important meeting!”

“There is nothing to be upset about,” the white-suited man causally dismissed. “Father has appointed me as his envoy to the Sacred Helix, so we shall now get on with the business of the day. Chromosomes, as you know, for the past five years, we have not had a leader of the tenth section.”

“Not since the averted Day of Reckoning in Oceannia that Rich Mistbloom stopped,” Ghetsis commented into his folded hands.

“Correct. Well, today, we now present the issue of appointing a new Chromosome to lead the tenth section.” Father’s envoy waved his hand, prompting a spotlight to come on over the area surrounded by the circular table. A four-sided, pyramid-like shape was depicted in gold on the red carpeting; its two longest sides converged directly at Finansielle’s seat, and kneeling at the center of the shape was the man who had robbed the Pewter Museum. “You are on file as the creation of Polaris’s Project J, is this correct?”

“Yes, sir,” the man replied, his face largely obscured from view by shadows. His mouth was visible, however, and it was twisted into a sadistic smile.

The Darkrai-masked member at the number two seat spoke next. “You have been in training since the day you were given your body, and your first field mission for us was the job of stealing the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs from the Pewter Museum. It has been reported that your execution of this mission was flawless.”

“Indeed, what you did the other day will prove to be a major help to us,” said the diminutive male seated at section nine, who was wearing an Electivire-themed mask and helmet complete with antennae. “Not to mention, your use of my section’s electrical bodysuit was superb. Do you understand that this is why we are debating giving you the position of Chromosome?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’ve spent years doing everything we’ve asked,” Jeunes offered as input. “Truly, you are one of our most loyal members.”

“I believe we’ve said all that needs to be said,” Ghetsis declared. “I would like to motion for a vote on the confirmation of Project J as the tenth Chromosome.”

“Wait, Séduire is not here,” the woman seated at section six sighed from behind her mask, an avian-themed one featuring a beak and feathers of red, white and blue. “How will we achieve a fair vote?”

“With the tenth seat empty and Séduire absent,” the envoy reasoned, “we need one recusal to make the vote a fair seven. Jeunes, because you were the director of Project J and can be considered this individual’s father, I would like to request that you be that recusal.”

“Hmph, fine by me. I don’t concern myself with these political matters when I can predict the outcome. It’s boring.”

“Very well. Now, allow the vote to commence.” The man stood and announced, “As the envoy of the first Chromosome, Father, I, Archer, cast a vote of yes!”

The Darkrai-masked leader rose next. “As the second Chromosome, I, Praeses, cast a vote of yes!”

As Ghetsis hobbled to his feet, Project J smiled to himself again, out of the view of the council assessing him and voting on his fate.

“As the third Chromosome, I, Ghetsis, cast a vote of yes!”

“As the fourth Chromosome, I, Finansielle, cast a vote of yes!”

The majority was already reached, but the vote had to finish for formality’s sake. It would just give Project J more of the attention he loved, though.

“I am disturbed by what you are,” the woman with the Braviary mask remarked. “I don’t know if I can trust you. As the sixth Chromosome, I, Mercury, cast a vote of no!”

A number of the Chromosomes were surprised by this, but Project J was able to relatively ignore it. He knew he never needed her approval anyway.

At section seven was a man wearing a cape and a Dragonite mask who hadn’t spoken yet. He simply stood up and declared, “As the seventh Chromosome, I, Athleta, cast a vote of yes!”

Passing over Jeunes, the last vote arrived at the short man with the Electivire helmet. “As the ninth Chromosome, I, Getriebe, cast a vote of yes!”

“The final vote is six for yes, one for no,” Archer announced. “Welcome to the Sacred Helix, our new tenth Chromosome.”

“My name…” Emerging from the shadows, Project J was already in the process of pulling on his Sigilyph-themed mask and helmet. “…shall be Geminus.”

Leaping high into the air, the newly-named Geminus landed in the space just behind and between sections eight and nine. However, he was also unexpectedly met by a young woman that had just entered the chamber, whose shoulder-length red hair combined with her spiked mask to give her the appearance of an Entei.

“W-who are you?!” she screeched, recoiling back in shock.

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Geminus…” Just after walking past the young woman on his way to his seat, Geminus said just loudly enough for her to hear, “I’ll be looking forward to working with you again.”

“Come in, Séduire,” Archer said to the newly-arrived Chromosome. “You already missed the vote to confirm Geminus.”

“I was busy!” she yelled as she arrived at her seat.

“Stalking that boy you’re infatuated with on the Internet does not count as ‘busy,’ Séduire,” Ghetsis sarcastically admonished her. “It was due to your possessive tendencies over him that our men were sent into Whitegold City too early and exposed our movements before we were fully prepared.”

“And you’re any better?” Séduire shot back. “You let all three Angels escape your grasp in Unova! I could have already been united with Matt in the future world if you hadn’t messed that up!”

“Father wouldn’t tell us who Azrael was so we could go after her…” Praeses mumbled to himself. “He insisted he would capture her personally…”

“Now, Chromosomes, please don’t fight,” Archer said in an attempt to soothe the conflict. “For the first time in five years, our Sacred Helix now has all ten Chromosomes. It is now time for us to move forward into our future world… consider the history of the world. Our planet took shape as a mass of molten rock millions of years ago, and from that beginning, humans and Pokémon inherited the Earth. From then on, humans and Pokémon have progressed forward in two identical but parallel lines, always moving forward but never truly crossing. Today our world is suffering, no, it is dying. For both humanity and Pokémon to survive, those lines must cross to take the sacred shape of the DNA that comprises all living things. Now, Chromosomes, go to your stations and prepare for our first major operation. We have now commenced the beginning of a glorious new chapter for humanity and Pokémon alike. Meeting adjourned.”




END of CHAPTER 2

Janovy
15th June 2012, 2:39 PM
25 years ago
October 9, 1987

“Come on, you lot, hold yourselves together!”

The young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, adjusted his glasses nervously as he surveyed the computers surrounding him. Many of the machines bore the same logo that was stitched onto the man’s breast pocket, a letter ‘P’ formed out of the red-and-yellow strands of a double helix.

All around him were monitors of the situation unfolding in an operating room directly linked to his lab. He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, and had to address the scientists under his command through a microphone affixed to the desk. Large machines, many of them at least the size of a refrigerator, were clustered in one portion of the lab, while a small kitchen unit sat opposite them. There was also a lounging area that consisted simply of an old, rotting bookcase, drab sofa and decrepit television set; on the wall right next to the bookcase was a framed document assigning a doctorate to the man, whose name was Gabriel Zager. A tiny yellow spider Pokémon, Joltik, skittered hyperactively around the room.

He knew the operation in the other room was going horribly simply from the barrage of noise coming back at him through the terminal’s speakers. The sounds of several men rushing about the room could be heard, but even louder than that were the alternating sounds of a woman screaming and then briefly gasping to try and catch her breath.

“Just keep at it, all of you,” the doctor said in an attempt to encourage his men, while nervously eyeing the screens monitoring the woman’s heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. “We’ve come too far now. There’s no turning back.”

One of the other scientists, an even younger man of about twenty-one, suddenly came crashing through the doorway partitioning the lab and operating room from each other. Before Zager could ask him a single question, he had torn across the lab to the deep sink on the other side, where he loudly wretched up the contents of his stomach.

“Are you alright?!” This was a bad sign, and the doctor knew it. He had been assured that the team he was commanding was comprised of very well-trained scientific and medical professionals, so to see one of those very same people unable to handle their own job struck him deeply.

“It’s… it’s horrible...” The scientist was clearly deeply disturbed by what he had seen. He spoke in a shaking, terrified voice, and did not even turn to face his boss. “That thing is a monster… it’s parasitized the very fibers of her being… we never should have played God and done this…”

“Get a hold of yourself, boy! Stop speaking in riddles!”

“It’s not a riddle, Doctor Zager, it’s the truth… what we’ve done is create something completely and purely evil…”

Intrigued and greatly worried by the fearful comments of his team member, Dr. Zager ran his hand across his thick, brown moustache in thought. To some degree, he realized that he should have known things would end in this way.

Unfortunately, his pensive moment was interrupted when alarms started sounding, drawing him back to the computer bank. The woman’s heart rate was becoming irregular, and her blood pressure was spiking.

“Finish what we started!” Dr. Zager barked through the microphone to the remaining scientists. “If she dies and the subject doesn’t survive, we didn’t accomplish anything! Her death will have been in vain!”

A very short amount of time later, the woman’s screaming suddenly stopped, but it was replaced by an even more chilling sound – the shrill, monotonous screech of the heart monitor now reading zero.

“Wait, wait…” a voice, belonging to another of Zager’s scientists, called out. Moments later, the sound of a small child crying started to filter through the speakers, leading the scientist to declare, “The child is alive! This subject actually survived!”

“We are all dead men walking,” commented the man who had vomited in Zager’s sink as he lifted himself from the basin. “We have done something that will destroy us all.” He barely managed to get those words out before fainting.

“So I see that Azrael has been brought into this world at last.”

Zager gasped and whipped around to face a large monitor mounted into the wall of his lab. On it, the head and shoulders of a man were displayed, but all of his features were completely obscured by shadows, leaving only the glowing circles of his glasses to distinguish him. In addition, when he spoke, a filter applied to his voice made it sound as if many people were speaking at once.

“Father, sir…” Zager had to pause briefly when his Joltik, a tiny yellow spider Pokémon, popped out of his sizable brown afro, but he quickly picked back up. “Father, sir, it seems as if we lost the vessel… were such measures truly necessary to do this? What we’re aiming for... can we not obtain those ideals through more noble actions?”

“She is the key to all of our goals, so we have to do what we must. Gabriel, it’s about time you learned the truth. The true meaning about the purpose of Polaris… and the meaning of your mission, the Azrael Project.”

-:-
Ah, it's nice to see a version of Zager who, unlike the one in Best Wishes, is ten times more interesting. Gabriel Zager? I like the name. Additionally, I can pretty much the symbolic behind your title.

Azrael = Angel of Death

I can already see he/she or IT will play a very important role in this whole story. Very interesting so far.


“Please, give me a new body! I want one! Give me a new body and I’ll work for you, even!”
Whoa! This came out nowhere.


“That gray void of nothing…” her counterpart, distinguishable by her green ponytail, completed. “That is the Day of Reckoning.”
So, Zekrom/Reshiram and Kyurem will play a role as well.

I gotta be honest, a lot of stuff seems to be going on so I really wouldn't blame anyone being taken aback by this number of information - it takes a while to absorb the whole thing. Not that it isn't intriguing, because it is, very much actually.


“And I would urge you, Ghetsis, to remember your place. You had all three Angels within your grasp in Unova and you let them slip away. That failing set us back by years and cost a substantial amount of funds to recover from. We cannot sustain any such failure again.”
Hilbert? Hilda? N? Or is he referring to the dragons?


Setting the briefcase carefully on the floor, he read the sign in front of the exhibit out loud, “Adamant Orb and Lustrous Orb.”
Oh, so they want Dialga and Palkia as well? Or simply the power behind these artifacts?


“The Legendary Pokémon said to have been sealed on Emeraude Island, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus…” He chuckled as he shook his head. “It’ll have to wait, but your time will come…”
Even more legendary Pokémon? :O


“See anything you like around here?” the clerk inquired, gesturing to the countless flowers around the inside of the building. He was perfectly able to talk despite his identity, in fact, being a Meowth didn’t seem to reduce his humanity at all. Once he got a better look at the customer, however, he froze. Turning to the back room, he yelled, “Hey, you two, get out here!”

“Be quiet, Meowth, we’re coming.”

The fiery red-headed woman who replied to Meowth’s call soon appeared, alongside her somewhat-effeminate-looking male companion. Both were dressed in plain brown clothes, and the male half of the duo had blue hair of a moderate length. The only unusual characteristic between the two of them was the extremely long ponytail worn by the woman.

Both took a moment to analyze their visitor. Glancing over him, they did not immediately react, but when he removed his sunglasses to reveal his vivid green eyes, they realized who he was.

“Pierce, what are you doing here?” the man asked, hushing his voice deliberately. “Things changed, don’t you know?”

“And I’m here to tell you things have changed again,” Pierce forcefully explained, his deep voice almost shaking the room. “Jessie, James, Meowth, I have orders related to me from the boss to come here and pick you up. Do you have your Pokémon?”

Jessie and James checked their belts; she had two Poké Balls, while James had one. After verifying this fact, they both nodded to Pierce, who replaced his glasses and turned for the door.

“Come with me. There’s a car outside waiting for you.”

Though they were confused, Jessie, James and Meowth followed Pierce anyway. Once they were outside and walking to Pierce’s car, though, Jessie decided to confront him.

“Just what is this all about, Pierce? You come here, barge in and disrupt our lives… you know you have no right to do that.”

“You left your suitcase back there, too…” added an equally-disturbed James.

Pierce did not answer, instead, he silently led the trio to his car and beckoned them in through a door that he opened for them. Once they were seated, he got into the driver’s seat and closed his door, then raised up his hand and snapped his fingers.

Outside, the building Jessie, James and Meowth lived in exploded in flames. All three of them gasped, and much to her frustration, Jessie’s Wobbuffet escaped from its ball to join the chorus of dismayed groans.

“What do you think you’re doing, you punk?!” Meowth screeched.

“Code Black Seven has been initiated by Giovanni,” Pierce uttered while staring straight ahead. “The lives you knew are now at an end.”

Immediately, the mood in the car changed. Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were all cowed by Pierce’s announcement, and their attitudes became somber.

“That means Polaris has finally made its move, then,” Jessie commented.

“Is the boss alright?” James asked immediately after Jessie spoke. “We aren’t too late, are we?”

“Giovanni is fine, but he is under house arrest and being closely monitored. I have been sent to escort you to the Executives who will be commanding your operations from this point forward.”
Yay, Jessie, James and Meowth - done right I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in store for them! ^^

Oh, and Pierce, haha, almost forgot him.


A gentle breeze blew through New Bark Town, a peaceful district in the Johto Region’s southeast. Once a completely residential location that required its citizens to take the short stroll to nearby Cherrygrove City for supplies, time had passed and the touch of tourism had arrived; a few hotels, shops, restaurants and other facilities now stood anachronistically alongside the stately wooden homes and power-generating windmills.
I rather like this description of New Bark Town. :)


“The Kiss of Death killer has struck again. Melvin Clemens, a management director for the Angel Corporation, was found brutally murdered in his Viridian City apartment last night. Fitting with the pattern of her previous crimes, the scene was left completely, spotlessly cleaned of all signs of her presence. Only the horribly mangled body of Mr. Clemens was left behind, and all DNA evidence was removed, leaving only the signature imprint of the shape of the killer’s lips in the victim’s blood on him.”
Another subplot, wow! xD

Also, so many angelic references. Gabriel, Azrael, Angel Corp. :P


Olivia and the others were expecting to see an awkward, nerdy-looking man with glasses and brown hair, but he wasn’t there. Instead, the only person present in the lab was a woman, wearing her hair in a thick ball, who had a briefcase at her side. She seemed just as surprised to the group as they were to see her.

“Professor… Juniper?” Nekou breathed, thoroughly confused.
*le gasp*

Cliffhanger! Oh boy, it's good I read the second chapter.



“Oh, that’s right, there’s no way you could have known that Fennel was my old roommate from college.
Ah, I can already imagine all the fics with their central plot revolving around Fennel and Juniper, in their college days, experimenting. :P


“Ah, that’s right,” Bunny commented to herself, “the government is working to bring foreign Pokémon in from Unova so trainers here have more diverse options.”
Eh, shouldn't it be the other way around? Johto has many Pokémon including Kanto ones. If anything, it is Unova that needs to bring over some of the old Pokémon.


“I would have just gone right to get my first badge if I would have known!”
I will never understand why trainers, who already have a Pokémon, are allowed to get a starter Pokémon as well. It kinda beats the whole idea of 'starter' Pokémon. It also does injustice to kids without any Pokémon at all.



“I have to pick one of these two?” Olivia complained, shutting her eyes in exasperation. “Please tell me this is a cruel joke…”
Okay, she's starting to annoy me.


He withdrew a rectangular smartphone and touched its screen several times, opening an application titled ‘Pokédex 3D.’
Haha, nice little Easter egg!


“But I wanted Totodile! I didn’t come all the way out here just to settle for something I don’t want!”
Shut up *****, you already have two Pokémon! -.-


Evidently having picked up on Olivia’s complaint about not being able to select Totodile, a Water-type Pokémon, Oshawott focused on impressing her by detaching and wielding his shell.
I'm getting strange vibes from this Oshawott, anime vibes. :P


“But don’t expect me to decide quickly. My starter Pokémon was supposed to be something that could stand right alongside me, Minccino and Roselia as we won badges and Ribbons, which would force my dad to notice me again. It was never supposed to start like this.”
Oh aren't you a little princess? -.-


Dr. Zager’s working environment was very different than what he had before, too. His new lab was falling apart in places – wood paneling was cracking off the walls, the red curtains over the windows were riddled with tears, and some ceiling tiles were missing, creating holes through which wires of multiple colors could hang through. True to the nature of its occupant, though, the lab’s equipment was still meticulously kept, affording Zager a full array of high-tech tools.
You have some good description going on here. ^^


Keeping the scientist company were two very different individuals. One was a Galvantula, the evolved form of the Joltik he’d kept as a pet since his days as a member of Polaris; the large, six-eyed yellow-and-blue spider Pokémon busily skittered about the lab, amusing herself by staying active.
Ah, it's that little Joltik! Good to know he has a Pokémon, it's a nice expansion on canon!


The other was a curvaceous woman in a white blouse and skirt, an outfit accented by bits of black around her neck, midsection and wrists as well as down at the end of the skirt, near her knee-high white boots. Her bright red hair stood out like a spotlight against the rather droll surroundings of the laboratory, and in her boredom, she was lounging in a chair next to a coffee table away from Zager’s work space, her feet up on a torn ottoman. Zager was absorbed in working at his computer bank, so to break the monotony of the situation she was eating a box of doughnuts one-by-one while drinking what appeared to be a glass of whiskey.

“I hope you’re going to clean up that mess when you’re done, Ariana,” Zager snapped irritably when he spotted the doughnut crumbs falling all over the floor. His eyes briefly glanced to the black badge on the chest of her uniform, which bore the insignia of a red letter ‘R.’ He then said, “I don’t care if you’re an Executive or not. Giovanni knows I need my space to work.”

“Don’t be such a killjoy, Zager,” Ariana flippantly countered, making sure to drop another batch of crumbs deliberately. “Look at how run-down this place is. A few crumbs aren’t going to ruin anything. Not to mention Galvantula’s picking them up anyway…” This fact was true, and Zager couldn’t ignore his Pokémon skittering about to collect the crumbs. “…and I’m sick, did you forget?”

“That’s right, you just reminded me. Put the booze away, it’s time for your medicine.”

Ariana sighed in disappointment but put her whiskey down anyway, because she knew that Zager was right. After collecting a medicine bottle from the table, she walked over to a nearby counter, where there was a pot of coffee being kept hot. She poured herself a share into one of Zager’s aged coffee cups – he’d collected them during his time with Polaris and was reluctant to let them go – and then dropped one of the oblong pills out of the bottle into her hand. Without skipping a beat, she swallowed the pill and then immediately followed it with a huge gulp of the coffee, despite it being completely black and quite hot.

“Ah, medicine you have to take with coffee instead of water. A miracle of modern science.”
I really like the way you portrayed Ariana.


Opening the door swiftly and deliberately, Pierce walked in, leading Jessie, James and Meowth in as well. Aside from the short feline Pokémon who was wearing no shoes, their steps made loud creaking sounds come from the floor; this was especially true of the heavy boots Pierce was wearing. Immediately upon seeing Zager, Jessie, James and Meowth all looked at each other in nervous surprise.
Ah, it's them! :D


“At ease, Pierce,” Ariana casually replied, waving her hand. “There’s really no need to be so serious. Not here, at least.” Picking up the box of doughnuts, which she had only eaten half of, she offered, “Any of you want some of these?”
She seems really carefree, haha, I can only imagine that our Rocket trio will immediately dig in.


Ariana gestured to Jessie, James and Meowth; the three had each taken considerable shares of the confections and now were eating them voraciously, earning a chuckle from not only the Executive but Zager as well.
I was right! It's great to see competent Rockets with some personality!


“Yes, Jessie. While we have other agents still on staff, your experience in battling Team Plasma in Unova may be of precious importance.”
Ah, sweet memories of something we may not ever see get aired. :/


“Would you two just shut up already?” Meowth snapped angrily. “We’ve been past the motto thing for years now! There’s no reason to start it up again!”
Bad Meowth! -.-


“Can I at least get to say that we’ll keep them from uniting all peoples within their nation?” asked a pouting James.
Hehehe, this is what I like. :)


“This is the meteor Persephone-2213, which is currently on a track to make its closest pass to Earth in over a millennium. Some smaller meteorites from the cloud surrounding it have passed through the planet’s atmosphere and impacted. It is believed that Persephone-2213 and its surrounding satellites are made of Meteonite, the element we discovered in Unova. As you may remember, Meteonite is a highly conductive element with extremely unusual reactive properties, and we do not know everything about it yet.”

“You’re going to tell us to go get one, aren’t you?” Jessie complained, shrugging her shoulders. “Don’t you remember what happened last time we messed with that thing?”

“The boss docked us pay and lunch for nearly blowing up Castelia City,” James added, his voice reflecting a clear timid attitude.

“And we ain’t getting involved in that again!” finished Meowth.

“You don’t have a choice,” Zager said sternly, “procuring a Meteonite fragment may give us an upper hand against Polaris. Our rudimentary radar devices have been able to pick up faint traces of the energy signature associated with Meteonite on the west end of Route 29 near Cherrygrove City. I want you three to go with Pierce to Cherrygrove City, determine the exact location of the Meteonite shard there and attempt to capture it.”

“We’ll be coordinating everything on our end from here,” Ariana chimed in to explain. “Any necessary supplies you’ll need can be provided here as well. After you get suited up, we’ll get you your equipment so the mission can begin.”

Turning away from Ariana, Jessie inquired, “I assume that you’ll be the one providing us with our tools again, Dr. Zager?”

“That’s right. I’ll make sure you have everything you need.”

“This really is just like old times, then,” she said to James as they both turned.

“The stakes weren’t this high last time, though.” A strange hint of sadness could be noticed in James’s voice; the meaning of their new mission had clearly already taken its toll on him.

Jessie and James eventually walked off in the direction of another exit from the lab, with Meowth and Pierce silently following. Pierce ended up being the last one to pass through the door, so he closed it behind himself. Once they were alone again, Zager and Ariana shared an uneasy glare between themselves.

“Do you really think they’re going to be okay dealing with all of this?” he wondered aloud.

“I sure hope so.”
I love how you've used the Meteonite in your story again. Though I guess it only makes sense since the events from BW anime are canon. I wonder if you'll ever make a reference to Ash, Iris or Cilan. ^^


“He left because I wasn’t living up to his expectations. That’s what I believe. If I can win a lot of badges and Ribbons, and win the Pokémon League and Grand Festival, he’ll have to admit I’m good and come back to love me again.”
That's kinda sad, she really must be stupid and naive to believe that. I mean, isn't she a teenager?


“I was there the day he disappeared, yes. I guess it all started six years ago, while I was in the region of Oceannia looking for Spheres to aid in the development of the ALEA, my clean energy invention. Well…” Matt’s expression and tone both soured noticeably as he pulled down the wide brim of his blue-and-silver hat. “It was me and my supposed girlfriend Cassy, actually. We both met up with Olivia and Rich and her mother Anabel then. That was when they were fighting that terrorist group that called itself Enigma Shadow.”

“‘Supposed’ girlfriend?” Nekou sniffed, barely hiding a condescending tone in her voice. “Why would a ladies man like you need to say that, I wonder?”

“Nekou, shut up,” Matt sighed, readjusting his hat; the yellow feather tucked into it trembled slightly as he did so. “To make the very long story very short, she wasn’t who she said she was and we split on very bad terms. Anyway, Enigma Shadow was trying to take over the world with Pokémon whose hearts were sealed, rendering them soulless battling machines. Olivia’s parents were leading the charge to stop Enigma Shadow from realizing their plans using these Shadow Pokémon. Eventually, the person that was manipulating the organization, a woman named Judy, managed to call forth Arceus. She lost control of it, though, and in the confusion Rich saved us all before disappearing.

But yes, I was there the last time any of us saw Rich. I think he knew something was going to happen, though, because he left instructions for me to take Olivia under my wing, which is what I’ve been doing for the past five years.”

“I’ve learned a lot from Matt,” Olivia bragged, before sarcastically adding, “at least he’s good for that much.”

“Well, I’ve really been learning alongside you,” Matt said, seemingly brushing off her insult. In actuality, he was glad to have her saying such things, because it meant that she wasn’t becoming emotional over discussing her father. “That was the entire point of it all.”

“So… I understand you four have been on some pretty exciting adventures and met some Legendary Pokémon already.”

Juniper mentioning the travels the group had already experienced was what it took to loosen up Olivia’s attitude. Her eyes lit up, and she began shouting excitedly, “We have! We met a bunch of rare Pokémon and time traveled at the Indigo Plateau, and then in Whitegold City, we saw Victini, Cresselia and Darkrai!”

“My, my, Olivia,” laughed the professor, “there’s no need to get ahead of yourself. Tell me about what happened at the Indigo Plateau first, how about that?”

“Matt was teaching me for the past five years at the Rustboro School in Hoenn,” Olivia explained, toning back her enthusiasm only slightly. “We went to the Indigo Plateau before coming here because my mom was hosting the Frontier Society’s opening commemoration tournament.”

“Did you participate?”

“No.”

“I did, though,” Matt offered to supply some additional information. “I competed alongside Tanya, my Heatran. Unfortunately, the tournament got interrupted by Team Rocket’s attack, and I had to help the police bring Team Rocket’s boss into custody instead.”

“I got the job of being Matt’s bodyguard at the same time, too,” Nekou sarcastically added, “and he was lucky to have me guarding it.”

Playing no mind to the clenched expression Matt was showing in response to Nekou’s comments, Juniper turned to Bunny and asked, “So where do you fit into all of this, Bunny?”

“I already had arrangements with Matt. We were looking for the ruins of an ancient town called Argyros that once stood near the Indigo Plateau. Little did we expect that finding them would be the easy part.”

“So we went up to the ruins of Argyros Town, and this weird Pichu appeared,” elaborated Olivia. “I followed it and it led us to a strange light inside a temple.”

“It was a Time Ripple,” Matt clarified, much to the surprise of Juniper, who visibly jumped at the mention of it.

“You found one of those?!” In her excitement, Juniper slammed both of her hands down on the table and stood up. Bunny held onto the side of her oatmeal bowl to stabilize it, while Nekou and Olivia nonchalantly continued eating their bacon strips and blueberry muffin, respectively. “That’s a portal opened from another place in time!”

“We know,” Matt chuckled, “because we went through it. On the other side was this country in the year 1850. A military official of the era was planning to overthrow the government there, and we ended up getting roped into helping stop him.”

“And I got to be a hero!”

“Don’t sell her short,” Bunny said of Olivia to Juniper, “she really was brave during the war that broke out. She was right out there with the soldiers trying to quell the rebellion doing her part to fight. I, for one, was very impressed.”

“It sounds like you did a very good job,” the professor complimented as she sat back down. “Olivia, if you were able to fight like that, then you already possess a pretty impressive skill set, and that’ll come in handy for you out there on your journey. Of course, that’s not the only big thing you’ve been involved in… there’s still the events in Whitegold City. You must tell me everything that happened there!”

“Someone’s really worked up,” Nekou deadpanned, her eyes half-closed behind her glasses.

Growing flustered, Juniper tried to explain, saying, “The incident in Whitegold City has been all over the news, and one thing I know about it is that Victini was deeply involved. I… I want to know what happened there from the people who witnessed Victini’s power firsthand. It’s for my research!”

“For science, huh? I guess you’re calling yourself a mad scientist, then, because only people like me get to use that one.”

“Nekou, don’t, please,” Matt argued. He got a glare shot his way by Nekou for his trouble, but it did manage to stop her from saying anything further. Sighing, Matt returned to answering Juniper’s question. “We went to Whitegold City so I could give a speech about new energy sources at the behest of Captain Liam Everton, the president of oil conglomerate Everton International. Or maybe I should say former president, now that he’s dead, but…”

“That little prick…” Olivia growled into the crumb-covered plate before her, paying no mind to the shocked look Matt gave her over her language.

“Now, now, Olivia, there’s no need to use those kinds of words,” he gently suggested.

“And what of it if she does?” Nekou rudely interjected. “Words are words. They don’t hurt anyone… unless you make them.”

Much to Matt’s relief, he was saved from getting into a hopeless argument with Nekou when Juniper piped up, interrupting the escalating scene.

“What’s going on? What are you talking about?”

“Well,” Matt explained, “As it turned out, Liam Everton was in pursuit of Victini because he hoped to gain the power of the Victory Star from it. To that end, he released a Darkrai into the city, forcing Victini’s guardian, Cresselia, to come out and fight it. It fell to the four of us, along with a team we assembled, to stop him. Our allies were Liam Everton’s former first mate from his naval years, an old fortuneteller woman, a magician and his assistant, an undercover reporter and a posh girl we happened to meet named Katorena.”

“The Victory Star is the power to see the way to victory itself,” Bunny added, noting Juniper’s expression of intense concentration. “I could tell you were about to ask that. Normally, the power is obtained through the creation of a mental contract between the recipient and Victini, and will guide the way only to the specific victory the recipient desires most at the time of the contract’s creation. Everton wanted more than that. He devised a way to make his mind completely blank when he made his contract, which rendered him able to use the Victory Star in any way he wished. He was going to use it to take control of the entire world’s oil supply and bring all nations under his rule, but first, he viciously attacked and tried to kill all of us while using its power to make his Pokémon stronger.”

“We had to fight back.” Unlike Matt and Bunny, recalling the events of the Whitegold City crisis visibly disturbed Olivia, a fact the others hadn’t been aware of before. She had her hands rolled into fists so tightly that her fingernails were almost piercing the skin of her palms, and her whole body was shuddering subtly. “It took all of us to pull it off. We spread illusions of Victini throughout Whitegold City to waste Everton’s time, and all it did was leave us all to fight him individually. He ended up flooding the city anyway, and it took Matt’s Golurk and Sigilyph and then Victini itself to finally stop that horrible dragon…”

“Horrible dragon?” Juniper questioned, puckering her lips.

“That mean old man had a Hydreigon, and that was the Pokémon he used to try and kill us,” finished Olivia, her voice shaking all the while.

“That makes sense when I consider the details.” Surprisingly, Juniper was now speaking and conducting herself in a very serious manner. “Hydreigon is a terribly brutal species of Pokémon, known for attacking just about anything in the wild. It is easy to see how that power could be used to very dangerous degree if harnessed by the wrong person. Is there anything more to your tale, Olivia? Has anything else happened since Whitegold City?”

“We stayed over there for a little while and then came right here, so no.”
No offense, but I find it hard to believe that so many things happened to them, haha. But this was some nice info dump regarding the aforementioned prequels.


“I don’t even really care,” Olivia growled back, showing a degree of indignation. “I’m only taking it because I pretty much have to take something.”
So ungrateful. :/


However, she then remembered a trainer to whom she’d given a Snivy some years ago; at the time, he kept saying that he only wished to become stronger at any cost, but eventually, he learned to understand his Pokémon more and eventually became a respected Gym Leader in Unova.
Ah, another Easter egg, hehe. ^^


“Totodile would have suited me better, but I guess this is going to have to work out.”
Is she ever going to shut up about Totodile? -.-


“Now, Olivia,” Juniper spoke up, being the first to return to attention, “about the other half of our deal. I said I would give you one of my Pokémon in exchange for you doing something for me. What I would like you to do…” Before continuing, Juniper took a pink, cell-phone shaped device out of her briefcase and showed it to the others; it had a pattern of a sideways Poké Ball on its bottom half and a screen on its top, with a second screen able to be flipped out from behind. “I would like you to take this Pokédex and help me by documenting the Unova Pokémon you see in Johto and Kanto. My assistant is out there conducting research on how our migration efforts are progressing, but I could use a second set of eyes in the field. It would help me learn more about how the Unova Pokémon are acclimating to their new environments and interacting with the Pokémon species native to this continent.”
You could have easily separated this in two or three paragraphs, I mean, it just hurts my eyes seeing this immense wall of text.


“Of course it will. Do you really think I’ll fail?”
Bratty, snotty and annoying?

I hope there's some character development awaiting her.

Janovy
15th June 2012, 2:39 PM
With Jessie, James and Meowth riding as passengers, Pierce was driving his car through an underground tunnel. All of them were now disguised in identical black trench coats, fedoras and sunglasses; even Meowth, despite his smaller, feline body, had one suited for him.

In the dashboard of the car was a small video screen, through which Dr. Zager was communicating with the four.

“Proceed to the checkpoint inside Dark Cave,” the elderly scientist instructed his agents. “From there, go south on foot until you are just outside Cherrygrove City, and attempt to confirm the location of the Meteonite shard.”

“Understood, Dr. Zager,” Pierce stiffly responded, not removing his eyes from the rough road ahead.

Suddenly bursting into the picture by pushing Zager aside, Ariana loudly directed, “Jessie, James, Meowth, I don’t want you guys taking any crazy risks on this operation. We can’t afford a major confrontation with Polaris yet. For that reason, I’ve prepared a contingency plan in case something happens to prevent you from collecting the Meteonite shard itself.”

“A contingency plan?” Jessie repeated questioningly.

“You two didn’t brief us on the details of such a thing,” James quietly complained, poking his fingers together.

“You need not worry about briefing,” Zager informed them, making his way back into view as best he could. “I took the liberty of adding all necessary mission plans to your new R-Pad, which is chief among your equipment.”


“Great!” Meowth shrilled. “Now, let’s go get that chunk of space rock and show those freaks that they should fear us!”
This just reminded of a typical Team Rocket scene in Best Wishes. xD


“I’ve heard Cherrygrove City is where the Battle Arcade, the first of the seven facilities associated with the Frontier Society, is located. I don’t really have any leads on what I’m looking for myself yet, so I figure that’s as good a place to start as any.”
Yet again, nice expansion on the canon. I like it!


Bunny was cut off mid-sentence by a deep male voice with a commanding, nearly bone-chilling presence. It belonged to the young man blocking their path to the outskirts of New Bark Town, a strange figure wrapped in a long, ragged black poncho who kept his appearance carefully hidden using a stitched-up black hat and a dark green scarf, leaving only his sea-green eyes visible.
And who is he now? xD


“I’ll be going first!” the young man roared, his cold glare giving way to fire in his eyes. “Timburr, leave port!”

The mysterious trainer’s Poké Ball gave way in a blinding burst of light to a small, gray Pokémon holding a beam of wood under his left arm. His body, which was almost entirely pure muscle, had pink veins bulging out in several places.

“A new one already?” Olivia wondered. Recalling the instructions she’d just received, she reached for the Pokédex.

“Timburr, the Muscular Pokémon. Type is Fighting. It fights by swinging a piece of lumber around. It is close to evolving when it can handle the lumber without difficulty. These Pokémon appear at building sites and help out with construction. They always carry squared logs.”

“A Fighting-type… Minccino won’t be any good against that thing…” Olivia mumbled to herself. The circumstances essentially made her mind up for her, and she threw out her other Poké Ball, calling out, “Roselia, let’s play!”

Despite his small stature, the mysterious trainer’s Timburr was still taller than Olivia’s Roselia, but she didn’t let that scare her. The tiny flower Pokémon stood bravely before her opponent’s gaze and glared back with all the ferocity she could muster.

Off on the side, Bunny said to Matt and Nekou, “A Fighting-type against a Grass-and-Poison-type. Olivia should be able to handle this.”

“Yeah,” Matt concurred, before adding, “Fighting-type moves don’t work very well against Poison-types.”

“Olivia will win this, I’d even bet a beer and some chips on it.” Nekou took a bite of her butter-drenched bread roll after proclaiming her wager, while Matt and Bunny looked on in exasperation.

“The first matchup is Roselia VS. Timburr!” Juniper announced. “Begin!”

“Timburr, Pound!” called the cloaked trainer.

“Roselia, use Energy Ball!”

While Roselia gathered up energy from the terrain around her, giving it the shape of a crackling green sphere, Timburr darted toward her with his right arm pulled back. Upon reaching his target, Timburr swung to punch Roselia; however, he instead hit her Energy Ball, which resulted in it exploding. Both Pokémon took injury from the exchange and were pushed away from each other.

“So that’s your short-range tactic. Impressive, just like your father.”

Confused by her adversary’s words, Olivia raised an eyebrow and said, “What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything.”

“So you say. I won’t fall for the deceptive ways you’ve clearly inherited. I have skills of my own too, you know.”

“Oh, just shut up already,” Olivia sighed. “Roselia, try a Sludge Bomb!”

“Is that how it’s going to be? Timburr, Rock Throw!”

Both Pokémon sent projectiles at each other as their respective followup attacks; Roselia generated a blast of purple slime from her flowery arms, while Timburr scraped up a small rock from the ground using his wooden beam before throwing it. Neither had particularly good aim, but Timburr’s Rock Throw actually managed to graze Roselia, her Sludge Bomb missed Timburr entirely. Her right arm went limp as she fell onto the corresponding knee.

“Your aim is poor. If you cannot strike me from afar, then this battle is already over. Timburr, use Rock Throw again. Knock out that Roselia’s other leg!”

“Don’t give up yet, Roselia!” Olivia cried, trying to conceal the feeling of dread that was creeping over her. “Try another Energy Ball!”

With only her left arm immediately mobile, Roselia’s pace in creating the Energy Ball was more sluggish than usual. This left Timburr all the time he needed to pull up and toss another stone, but before her left leg got knocked out by it, she managed to send the Energy Ball flying. Roselia collapsed to the ground just as Timburr got hit in the forehead, singeing the protrusion sticking out from above his eyes.

“Roselia!”

Olivia’s bad feeling about the situation was shared by Matt, Nekou and Bunny, who were watching the battle unfold in silence. They all recognized that she was in trouble, and reluctantly had to acknowledge that the strange young man was more skilled than they gave him credit for.

“Well, Timburr, it’s about time to take what is rightfully ours. Use Pound to finish this up!”

“Roselia, get ready!”

There was no chance for Roselia to escape from Timburr as the Fighting-type bore down on her. She knew this, so instead of trying in vain to get away, she simply braced herself against the ground.

Timburr smiled as he drew closer and closer to his target. The blow he had prepared would surely defeat her, he believed.

Little did he expect that getting within range for his strike would leave him wide open for Roselia’s own counterattack. A thorn glowing with purple light suddenly emerged from the rose on Roselia’s right arm, and she drove it into Timburr’s stomach. Caught completely off guard by this Poison Sting, Timburr howled in pain as he flew back through the air. His wooden beam slipped from his grasp during the recoil from the hit, landing a few feet from his trainer.

“So you’ve still got some fight left in you,” Olivia’s opponent growled, briefly widening his eyes. “It is clear that you have inherited your father’s clever approach to battling. But I won’t fall to a usurper like you! Timburr, no more games! Use Rock Throw and hold nothing back!”

Without his beam to dig up rocks with, Timburr simply shoved his hands into the ground instead, pulling a jagged stone from the earth manually.

Feeling the tide of the battle turning, Olivia was able to smile slightly for the first time as she ordered, “Hit Timburr with Sludge Bomb, Roselia! You’ve got a shot!”

Roselia’s aim was still off by a bit, but it was not as poor as earlier. She managed to get the blast of sludge to hit Timburr’s lower body, causing him to cringe as the toxins burned his skin. He did, however, manage to fling the rock he was holding back at Roselia, barely missing her due to his weakening stance.

Timburr was becoming tired and weak, a fact conveyed by his labored breathing and trembling body. His trainer picked up on this, and resolved to do something about it.

“If you’re to keep going, Timburr, you’re going to need more health. Drain Punch!”

When Timburr clenched his right fist on this command, a red aura enveloped it. He threw all of his remaining strength into lunging at Roselia one last time, but he realized just as well as Roselia and Olivia did that this was probably a kamikaze attack.

“Finish it off with Energy Ball, Roselia!”

Drain Punch managed to connect with Roselia, but it was not very effective due its poor type matchup, and Roselia held fast against it. She brought her arms up around Timburr on each side and formed the Energy Ball with her Fighting-type opponent right at the center. The resulting explosion violently threw Roselia back, but while she got back up from skidding on the ground, the smoke cleared to show a clearly unconscious Timburr lying at the center of a ring of burned terrain.

“Timburr is no longer able to continue!” Juniper declared, raising her arm toward Olivia and Roselia. “Roselia wins the first round!”

“Roselia!” Though victorious, Roselia had suffered some injuries of her own, so Olivia was careful when she picked up the Pokémon in her arms. “You did really well out there, okay? Rest up now.”

Hearing a soft chirp in response, Olivia smiled and shuttled her Pokémon over to where her friends were sitting, where she set Roselia down alongside Marie and Oshawott.

“I’m very proud of you, Olivia,” Matt said. “You showed some great tactical thinking and on-your-feet decision making just now.”

“Thank you. Even if it would mean more coming from my dad, I still like hearing that.”

“Here, Olivia, you’ve earned this.” Nekou happened to have another one of the butter-drenched rolls, and as a reward for how well Olivia was doing, she gave it to her. “You’re halfway to cleaning this arrogant little jerk’s clock, so don’t lose your pace now.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t intend to.” Turning around but still reveling in the praise given to her by her friends, Olivia strode back to her battle position while eating the roll one bite at a time. She felt like things were happening incredibly fast – the day wasn’t even over yet, and she’d already met a professor, suffered a setback in her quest before it even began and received a substitute for the starter Pokémon she wanted. Now she was in her very first battle as an official trainer and halfway to fully winning it, and it excited her beyond her original goal of impressing her father. Winning, she was quickly coming to discover, felt good.

Just as Olivia returned to her position, the young man finally recalled his Timburr, the Pokémon’s wooden beam being pulled into the Poké Ball at the same time as its wielder.

“It is unsurprising that you would be able to defeat the weaker of my two Pokémon, Olivia Lynn Mistbloom,” he thundered, his cutting eyes blazing with rage. “Oh, how speaking that name makes my skin crawl. Someone who should not exist has no right to consider themselves entitled to anything more than the air they are lucky enough to breathe! Now… Drowzee, leave port!”

The sleepy-looking Pokémon that burst from the young man’s second and final Poké Ball stretched his yellow-and-black body and yawned, the excess air causing his trunk to vibrate. He then moved his gaze to Olivia in an apathetic show of interest in what he’d be facing.

“Alright then! I wanted to use you in the last round, but Timburr was just too much for you to handle. This ought to be where you can shine. Minccino, let’s play!”

To face Drowzee, Olivia sent out her Minccino, a Pokémon that had the appearance of a gray chinchilla with big black eyes. She cheered happily when she got out of her Poké Ball, but shrunk back slightly when she saw Drowzee lazily staring at her.

“The final matchup is Minccino VS. Drowzee! Begin!”

“I want to make this quick, Minccino. Hit it with Tail Slap!”

Shaking her initial fear off, Minccino ran up to Drowzee and sprang into the air before starting to spin, striking Drowzee in the face repeatedly.

“Drowzee, use a close range Poison Gas!”

Just as Minccino fell back after the fourth and final hit of Tail Slap, Drowzee expelled a cloud of noxious purple gas from his trunk right into her face. She was overcome by a violent coughing fit and rolled backwards, her movements becoming strained as the poison set in.

“Minccino got poisoned!” Bunny exclaimed in dismay. “That’s going to make this all the harder for Olivia…”

“Come on, Olivia!” Nekou called out. “Don’t let him get away with that ****! Finish this before it’s too late!”

“I’m working on it!” Olivia’s patience was being tried as well, through a combination of the pressure she already felt in addition to her concern for Minccino’s well being. “Do you think you can pull off a Swift, Minccino?”

“I won’t let you! Drowzee, Psycho Cut!”

Simultaneously, Drowzee quickly crossed and uncrossed his arms to send two blades of concentrated psychic energy at Minccino, while Minccino returned the favor with a shower of star-shaped rays from her tail. Though Drowzee’s trainer had intended for Psycho Cut to block Swift, the stars actually passed right below the energy blades in midair; as a result, both Minccino and Drowzee took harsh blows, Minccino suffering more due to the continuing effects of the poison.

“If she doesn’t win this quickly, the poison will do her in before Drowzee’s attacks do…” Matt thought, shifting uncomfortably. Even though Olivia losing would only cause the battle to end in a tie, he felt that she needed a comfortable victory at this early point.

“We can’t do this with just Swift, Minccino! Try Aqua Tail!”

“Coming in close again, are you?”

Instead of going for multiple hits, this time Minccino aimed squarely for the middle of Drowzee’s head for a single attack using her tail, which had taken on an aquatic blue aura. Drowzee, surprisingly, just stood still, allowing Minccino a clear shot. He barely even flinched when the Aqua Tail made contact.

“Perfect range. Now, Drowzee, use Thief.”

Drowzee jabbed his right hand forward like a spear, catching Minccino in the stomach as she drifted back after her attack. She squealed in agony from the crushing blow, which sent her crashing to the ground, nearly unable to get up.

“M-Minccino…” A conflict was developing in Olivia’s mind; she could not decide if she wanted to win or lose anymore. Obviously, pulling out victory over this opponent would be something that felt very good, but she now questioned if the price was worth it – Minccino could barely stand, suffering greatly under the effects of Drowzee’s Poison Gas and subsequent relentless assault. She began raising her arm to stop the battle, knowing she’d be unable to live with herself if Minccino didn’t come back from this battle.

Before she could speak, though, she was cut off by her opponent. “My victory is now assured. This is the first step on my quest to show the truth to the world! So many fools throughout this world see your father as some sort of hero for stopping Enigma Shadow, but I will make them see Rich Mistbloom’s true vile nature!”

“That’s enough!” Seeing Olivia about to cry rendered Matt unable to take sitting by any longer, and he jumped up and confronted the angry trainer. “All you’re using your Pokémon for is to destroy the lives of everyone who believed in one person? What could Rich have possibly done to you that justifies what you’re doing right now, cruelly crushing the one thread of hope this girl has?”

“Silence yourself, you fool!” he shot back, visibly shocking Olivia, Bunny, Juniper and even Nekou. “Take a look at yourself, you’re just as disgusting. You call yourself someone who seeks the truth, but right now you deny it! I will gain more power so I may destroy the lies consuming this world! Right now, you could not possibly understand the years of agony that Rich Mistbloom subjected me to!”

The cloaked young man’s breakdown afforded Olivia with one precious advantage, however – it gave her time to think about how the battle had progressed so far, which led her to realize that she still had one way out.

While Matt, Bunny and Nekou stared at Drowzee’s trainer, Olivia shouted, “Quickly, Minccino, use Swift! Aim for Drowzee’s legs!”

Olivia’s voice gave Minccino a burst of strength, and she jumped to action, raining glowing stars down into Drowzee’s legs. Her opponent was too preoccupied at first to prepare a defense, so when he realized that Drowzee had been undercut and dropped to his hands and knees, he started to panic.

“Drowzee, get up! Get up now! Don’t fail me now!! Use Psycho Cut!”

“You’re finished! Consider this one from my dad… Tail Slap!”

Drowzee was struggling to stand, and when Minccino saw this, she felt a rush of energy overcome her and darted right at her stunned Psychic-type foe. His face was like a target to her, and she took great joy in delivering each of the five consecutive strikes she landed right in the center of Drowzee’s forehead. The last hit was forceful enough to throw Drowzee up into the air and down onto his back, with his point of fainting coming halfway between the two.

“Drowzee is unable to continue!” Nekou sprang from her seat to embrace Olivia with her good arm, and their combined cheering drowned out the rest of Juniper declaring Olivia the winner.
Well, these battle scene were quite good. You could have used some more descriptions but overall, they were pretty decently portrayed battles.


Having completed his speech, Renzo turned and briskly walked off toward the exit gate of the town; a spiked ponytail of sky-blue hair outlined in black slipped from under his scarf as he walked. Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny were all left confused by his strange behavior and sudden departure, trying to make sense of it all as they waited for Juniper to return.
Needless to say, I was left confused too. But I guess can I say with certainty that this guy will play the role of Olivia's rival.


“Okay, someone tell me they’re actually going to care to remember the little ****er’s name,” Nekou groaned while slouching forward. “I stopped caring.”
Same here, Nekou, same here. xD


In the meeting chamber of the Sacred Helix, seven of the ten seats were occupied, with the ones ranked one, five and ten empty. The assembled seven were speaking amongst themselves when the sound of a door opening pierced the air in the room, prompting them to fall silent.

A tall, lithe man in a white suit emerged from the shadows behind the number one seat, his gray hair making him stand out even more in the darkness of the chamber. Unlike the others, he was not wearing any kind of mask whatsoever, and as he sat down in the chair, the other seven began to complain.

“What is this? We get called here and Father doesn’t bother to show up?” Jeunes’s objection gave voice to the dismay of many of his colleagues, and they fell into line behind him. “This was supposed to be an important meeting!”

“There is nothing to be upset about,” the white-suited man causally dismissed. “Father has appointed me as his envoy to the Sacred Helix, so we shall now get on with the business of the day. Chromosomes, as you know, for the past five years, we have not had a leader of the tenth section.”

“Not since the averted Day of Reckoning in Oceannia that Rich Mistbloom stopped,” Ghetsis commented into his folded hands.

“Correct. Well, today, we now present the issue of appointing a new Chromosome to lead the tenth section.” Father’s envoy waved his hand, prompting a spotlight to come on over the area surrounded by the circular table. A four-sided, pyramid-like shape was depicted in gold on the red carpeting; its two longest sides converged directly at Finansielle’s seat, and kneeling at the center of the shape was the man who had robbed the Pewter Museum. “You are on file as the creation of Polaris’s Project J, is this correct?”

“Yes, sir,” the man replied, his face largely obscured from view by shadows. His mouth was visible, however, and it was twisted into a sadistic smile.

The Darkrai-masked member at the number two seat spoke next. “You have been in training since the day you were given your body, and your first field mission for us was the job of stealing the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs from the Pewter Museum. It has been reported that your execution of this mission was flawless.”

“Indeed, what you did the other day will prove to be a major help to us,” said the diminutive male seated at section nine, who was wearing an Electivire-themed mask and helmet complete with antennae. “Not to mention, your use of my section’s electrical bodysuit was superb. Do you understand that this is why we are debating giving you the position of Chromosome?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’ve spent years doing everything we’ve asked,” Jeunes offered as input. “Truly, you are one of our most loyal members.”

“I believe we’ve said all that needs to be said,” Ghetsis declared. “I would like to motion for a vote on the confirmation of Project J as the tenth Chromosome.”

“Wait, Séduire is not here,” the woman seated at section six sighed from behind her mask, an avian-themed one featuring a beak and feathers of red, white and blue. “How will we achieve a fair vote?”

“With the tenth seat empty and Séduire absent,” the envoy reasoned, “we need one recusal to make the vote a fair seven. Jeunes, because you were the director of Project J and can be considered this individual’s father, I would like to request that you be that recusal.”

“Hmph, fine by me. I don’t concern myself with these political matters when I can predict the outcome. It’s boring.”

“Very well. Now, allow the vote to commence.” The man stood and announced, “As the envoy of the first Chromosome, Father, I, Archer, cast a vote of yes!”

The Darkrai-masked leader rose next. “As the second Chromosome, I, Praeses, cast a vote of yes!”

As Ghetsis hobbled to his feet, Project J smiled to himself again, out of the view of the council assessing him and voting on his fate.

“As the third Chromosome, I, Ghetsis, cast a vote of yes!”

“As the fourth Chromosome, I, Finansielle, cast a vote of yes!”

The majority was already reached, but the vote had to finish for formality’s sake. It would just give Project J more of the attention he loved, though.

“I am disturbed by what you are,” the woman with the Braviary mask remarked. “I don’t know if I can trust you. As the sixth Chromosome, I, Mercury, cast a vote of no!”

A number of the Chromosomes were surprised by this, but Project J was able to relatively ignore it. He knew he never needed her approval anyway.

At section seven was a man wearing a cape and a Dragonite mask who hadn’t spoken yet. He simply stood up and declared, “As the seventh Chromosome, I, Athleta, cast a vote of yes!”

Passing over Jeunes, the last vote arrived at the short man with the Electivire helmet. “As the ninth Chromosome, I, Getriebe, cast a vote of yes!”

“The final vote is six for yes, one for no,” Archer announced. “Welcome to the Sacred Helix, our new tenth Chromosome.”

“My name…” Emerging from the shadows, Project J was already in the process of pulling on his Sigilyph-themed mask and helmet. “…shall be Geminus.”

Leaping high into the air, the newly-named Geminus landed in the space just behind and between sections eight and nine. However, he was also unexpectedly met by a young woman that had just entered the chamber, whose shoulder-length red hair combined with her spiked mask to give her the appearance of an Entei.

“W-who are you?!” she screeched, recoiling back in shock.

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Geminus…” Just after walking past the young woman on his way to his seat, Geminus said just loudly enough for her to hear, “I’ll be looking forward to working with you again.”

“Come in, Séduire,” Archer said to the newly-arrived Chromosome. “You already missed the vote to confirm Geminus.”

“I was busy!” she yelled as she arrived at her seat.

“Stalking that boy you’re infatuated with on the Internet does not count as ‘busy,’ Séduire,” Ghetsis sarcastically admonished her. “It was due to your possessive tendencies over him that our men were sent into Whitegold City too early and exposed our movements before we were fully prepared.”

“And you’re any better?” Séduire shot back. “You let all three Angels escape your grasp in Unova! I could have already been united with Matt in the future world if you hadn’t messed that up!”

“Father wouldn’t tell us who Azrael was so we could go after her…” Praeses mumbled to himself. “He insisted he would capture her personally…”

“Now, Chromosomes, please don’t fight,” Archer said in an attempt to soothe the conflict. “For the first time in five years, our Sacred Helix now has all ten Chromosomes. It is now time for us to move forward into our future world… consider the history of the world. Our planet took shape as a mass of molten rock millions of years ago, and from that beginning, humans and Pokémon inherited the Earth. From then on, humans and Pokémon have progressed forward in two identical but parallel lines, always moving forward but never truly crossing. Today our world is suffering, no, it is dying. For both humanity and Pokémon to survive, those lines must cross to take the sacred shape of the DNA that comprises all living things. Now, Chromosomes, go to your stations and prepare for our first major operation. We have now commenced the beginning of a glorious new chapter for humanity and Pokémon alike. Meeting adjourned.”
And, I'm even more confused.

But don't let it bother you, I'm sure that all will be explained eventually. Let's see now. We have Sacred Helix - they are the first bad guys. And then we have Team Rocket who is ... working with Polaris - the other bad guys? Please tell me I got that right.

So, is Ariana working undercover or something?

Yep, I'm confused.

But hey, your writing is good enough and you have set up many interesting questions and mysteries which I'm looking forward to getting solved. I can only hope that some of the future chapters will shed more light on the whole mystery because, right now, I'm kinda taken aback by this whole mystery. ^^;

Matori
16th June 2012, 2:28 AM
This is a fantastic second chapter. I really enjoy how you spent a lot of time describing settings. You're excellent at writing vivid scenes and setting moods and the ability to set up a well-described scene was one of my favorite parts of this chapter.

Zager's Galvantula is completely adorable. I want my own little floor sweeping Galvantula that runs around eating my donut crumbs. Ariana was also awesome and I love the adorable personality you gave her. I lost it at the scene of her eating donuts with the booze. She just can't find any ****s to give, can she?

TR back to their Johto/Kanto selves was awesome and made me smile a lot. I think you got their personalities perfect, especially the way they talk. Nice to see Pierce around being his manly self too.

You did really well with the interactions of all the Rockets, and getting their personalities right is really important.

Olivia was adorable in this chapter, even as bratty as she was. I still liked seeing her try and do her best to make her dad happy. It was tragic but heartwarming.

Nekou is the best role model, ever. I think she'll get along really well with Olivia. :3



The battle scenes were written out really well and I enjoyed how fast paced they were. They were enjoyable and kept me guessing what would happen next.



Renzo is a huge douchebag, by the way. You do a really job writing him to be someone you always cheer against.

The Helix scenes were really mysterious and make me wonder what's coming next. You set up the upcoming mysteries in this chapter really well.


Keep up the fantastic work!

Morpher01
16th June 2012, 2:46 AM
You know, I was in a bit of a rut in regards to writing chapters for Proving Grounds, but somehow, reading this chapter got me inspired to write more. So, thanks! :D

Now, before all else...


“I have to pick one of these two?” Olivia complained, shutting her eyes in exasperation. “Please tell me this is a cruel joke…”

“Olivia, don’t complain.” Matt reached into his closed longcoat, a mostly blue article enhanced with silver lining around its edges and a yellow feather pattern on each lapel. He withdrew a rectangular smartphone and touched its screen several times, opening an application titled ‘Pokédex 3D.’ “Tepig is a Fire-type Pokémon, while Oshawott is a Water-type Pokémon. Both of them have quite a bit of potential.”

“But I wanted Totodile! I didn’t come all the way out here just to settle for something I don’t want!”

...wow. Olivia is such a bratty little wannabe-princess sometimes. Just imagine what would happen if she tried to pull that attitude with someone like Skull...oh, Arceus, there would be violence...

Anyway, on to business.

This is looking pretty interesting. Due to the length of this chapter, I'm not going to go blow-by-blow. I do, however, want to highlight some key points:

--I can guess the identities of about 2 or 3 Sacred Helix members, based solely on their masks. I originally thought that Project J was a reference to our favorite Pokemon Hunter, but now I'm not so positive...

--Renzo's going to be an interesting rival. Have to wonder what Olivia's reaction will be once she learns just what Renzo's truth is...

--Why exactly did Juniper only have two starters with her? And why leave out Snivy?

--I have to admit, I'm a little...iffy...about having the TR trio do their "secret agent thing" from Best Wishes. You might be able to make it more interesting, though, as well as having actual relevance to the plot.

--I can already tell that this fic could be extremely looonnngg. I you're going to work in all of the Battle Frontier and Gyms for Matt and Olivia, respectively, plus all of the plotting from TR and Polaris...we could be in for a long ride.

This was quite an interesting chapter. Wonder what our heroes will find in Cherrygrove City, and how Olivia will perform in her first real Gym battle? Should be interesting to see. Can't wait to find out!

The Great Butler
17th June 2012, 1:27 AM
Ah, it's nice to see a version of Zager who, unlike the one in Best Wishes, is ten times more interesting. Gabriel Zager? I like the name. Additionally, I can pretty much the symbolic behind your title.

Azrael = Angel of Death

I can already see he/she or IT will play a very important role in this whole story. Very interesting so far.

Definitely correct. Azrael is (of course) extremely important. It's a "she," but that's the only clue you're going to get for now.

I'm glad you find Zager interesting in this version. Personally, he's probably one of my favorite characters in the BW series, but the fact that I've managed to expand him into a character that even someone who doesn't care for his canon version likes tells me that I've done something right. I think you'll be pleased going forward, then, because he's got a lot to do with some very important things.


So, Zekrom/Reshiram and Kyurem will play a role as well.

Quite important ones. That tale was there for a reason.


I gotta be honest, a lot of stuff seems to be going on so I really wouldn't blame anyone being taken aback by this number of information - it takes a while to absorb the whole thing. Not that it isn't intriguing, because it is, very much actually.

I definitely understand. It's my hope that chapters going forward should become more streamlined as we progress - new elements will continue being introduced, but the chapters should reach a nice balance where not too much is given in each one. It was tough in these early chapters because world establishment had to be done.


Hilbert? Hilda? N? Or is he referring to the dragons?

Of the three angels, one of them is a lot easier to guess than the others, and you guessed it. That person will also be the first one to become apparent.


Oh, so they want Dialga and Palkia as well? Or simply the power behind these artifacts?

The power, in this case.


Even more legendary Pokémon? :O

In this case, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus were mentioned offhandedly here as an Easter egg that will be revisited later in the story.


Yay, Jessie, James and Meowth - done right I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in store for them! ^^

Oh, and Pierce, haha, almost forgot him.

I'm hoping to bring them to a place not unlike where they were in the Kanto arc - amusing and charming, but still competent criminals. Look at what we saw in things like Pokemon Emergency! and the St. Anne arc. That's roughly the kind of target I want to shoot for.

I have some interesting things up my sleeve for Pierce, too, so I'm hoping that I can perhaps make him a fuller character like I did for Zager.


I rather like this description of New Bark Town. :)

Thanks for paying attention to the descriptions; that's pretty important to do, since the settings have evolved into a more futuristic version.

New Bark Town was a place I could see becoming a vacation destination of minor note, hence why small-end hotels and tourist attractions developed there.


Another subplot, wow! xD

This one's a bit more secondary, I think could be said. It's not itself a central plotline (at least, not in the way I've pictured it right now) but it enhances the development of some other plots and characters.


Also, so many angelic references. Gabriel, Azrael, Angel Corp. :P

And you're a savvy one for picking up on it. Yes, the references are meaningful.


Ah, I can already imagine all the fics with their central plot revolving around Fennel and Juniper, in their college days, experimenting. :P

Well, we might actually see a glimpse back into those days with a few more familiar faces, if my plan works...


Eh, shouldn't it be the other way around? Johto has many Pokémon including Kanto ones. If anything, it is Unova that needs to bring over some of the old Pokémon.

I can see your point, although, granted that this was planned before Black and White 2 were revealed, Unova now has the most diverse selection of Pokemon in its regional dex, with 300 (152, Victini-Kyurem, from the original Unova Dex, plus 148 foreign). I guess I lucked into it, if anything.


I will never understand why trainers, who already have a Pokémon, are allowed to get a starter Pokémon as well. It kinda beats the whole idea of 'starter' Pokémon. It also does injustice to kids without any Pokémon at all.

Actually, that's a very savvy observation - it's something that's going to be addressed, albeit not directly, a couple of chapters from now. Just let me say that there's more to it than simply the idea of a "first Pokemon."



Haha, nice little Easter egg!

I had to. It was just too easy.


I'm getting strange vibes from this Oshawott, anime vibes. :P

The difference is, this one is a bit less cowardly and is a lot more eager to please.


Oh aren't you a little princess? -.-

Yes, yes she is. XD;


You have some good description going on here. ^^

Thanks!


Ah, it's that little Joltik! Good to know he has a Pokémon, it's a nice expansion on canon!

Did you really think he wouldn't have it anymore? XD

I figured that an electrical spider was perfectly suited for him. The other options were Klink and Golett, but I decided that Joltik/Galvantula was best suited to him.


I really like the way you portrayed Ariana.

I know, right? She struck me as the type who would act very casually but still be good at her job.


Ah, it's them! :D


She seems really carefree, haha, I can only imagine that our Rocket trio will immediately dig in.


I was right! It's great to see competent Rockets with some personality!

Exactly what I was going for on all counts. Good to see it worked.


Ah, sweet memories of something we may not ever see get aired. :/

Again, exactly why I used it. I wanted to add a nod in to those episodes to show that they weren't totally forgotten.


Bad Meowth! -.-

In all honesty, I couldn't reconcile the motto with them doing competent things, so when I put together this little exchange Meowth was the only one who I could fit into that line while still giving him something to say.


Hehehe, this is what I like. :)

Hopefully we should be seeing more of that in addition to them doing stuff. I certainly will try to. ^^


I love how you've used the Meteonite in your story again. Though I guess it only makes sense since the events from BW anime are canon. I wonder if you'll ever make a reference to Ash, Iris or Cilan. ^^

A couple of things here:

1) Since Best Wishes! and Best Wishes! Season 2 haven't ended yet, I'm probably going to have to cherrypick things to consider canon. If the Team Rocket VS. Team Plasma episodes do eventually air, or something gets revealed that throws a wrench into my plans (Pierce being killed off in the skipped episodes, for example) I'll have to begin going AU a bit more heavily.

2) Meteonite is extremely important to this entire story, not only one arc - hence why there's an entire meteor made of it being talked about instead of just pieces. That meteor's going to be important again.

3) I might make passing reference to them, but none of the three are really going to have important roles in any of this.


That's kinda sad, she really must be stupid and naive to believe that. I mean, isn't she a teenager?

Well, to put it bluntly, Olivia is kind of... not well. She was spoiled by Rich, yeah, but she really loved him a lot. She didn't actually witness his death, and when he was taking care of her, Matt sheltered her from everything. It's not that she's stupid, but she is naive and even unstable to some degree.


No offense, but I find it hard to believe that so many things happened to them, haha. But this was some nice info dump regarding the aforementioned prequels.

Compared to all the things that have happened to Ash, a couple of encounters is nothing, I think XD;


So ungrateful. :/

I don't think she actually means to be. She had such an idea of what was going to go on that it completely threw her when it got disrupted.


Ah, another Easter egg, hehe. ^^

Yep, although I lucked into this one too - I was only thinking of Cheren because his name has been in the news due to BW2.


Is she ever going to shut up about Totodile? -.-

You're not going to hear about it as much going forward, and it'll disappear entirely soon enough.


You could have easily separated this in two or three paragraphs, I mean, it just hurts my eyes seeing this immense wall of text.

Again, I see your point, but I didn't want to separate it based on it being a single thought.


Bratty, snotty and annoying?

I hope there's some character development awaiting her.

Yes, there is. Plenty of it.


This just reminded of a typical Team Rocket scene in Best Wishes. xD

Well, I think that's only because they're still setting up. Once things get going, they should be a bit more amusing.



Yet again, nice expansion on the canon. I like it!


Again, thanks!



And who is he now? xD

Trouble. XD;



Well, these battle scene were quite good. You could have used some more descriptions but overall, they were pretty decently portrayed battles.

It was a little challenging because it was a low-level battle. Like, think about when you play the games, and you have the first battle with the rival right after getting starters. It's always an exchange of low-level moves like Tackle and Pound only broken up by an odd status move like Tail Whip or Growl.

tl;dr as things progress, the battles will get better. I can tell you now that the Battle Arcade will show you that.



Same here, Nekou, same here. xD


As it should be. XD



And, I'm even more confused.

But don't let it bother you, I'm sure that all will be explained eventually. Let's see now. We have Sacred Helix - they are the first bad guys. And then we have Team Rocket who is ... working with Polaris - the other bad guys? Please tell me I got that right.


At first I questioned why you might think that Team Rocket was working with Polaris, but then I realized that it was Archer's appearance that probably did it.

The Sacred Helix is the ruling council of Polaris. There just hasn't been any need for lesser members (aside from the scientists) to appear yet. Team Rocket is fighting Polaris, at least in no small part because they are connected to Team Plasma. Dr. Zager was a former member of Polaris that left and joined Team Rocket because he realized what they were doing. Archer, meanwhile, went to Polaris in circumstances I'll try to work in an explanation for as soon as I can because I now realize he was presented in a confusing manner.

This will all be elaborated on, so don't worry about trying to figure out the entire thing perfectly right now.



So, is Ariana working undercover or something?


Ariana's still doing her typical Rocket Executive duties. The only change with her is that she's officially become the highest-ranked Executive with Archer gone.



Yep, I'm confused.

But hey, your writing is good enough and you have set up many interesting questions and mysteries which I'm looking forward to getting solved. I can only hope that some of the future chapters will shed more light on the whole mystery because, right now, I'm kinda taken aback by this whole mystery. ^^;

Then, if that's the case, maybe being confused right now is a good thing?

Setting up mysteries and questions really was precisely what I was aiming to do. Polaris especially is something that is meant to be murky, but don't worry, everything will be made clear in time.

Anyway, I'm glad you liked it all!


This is a fantastic second chapter. I really enjoy how you spent a lot of time describing settings. You're excellent at writing vivid scenes and setting moods and the ability to set up a well-described scene was one of my favorite parts of this chapter.

Good to hear. Description's been a weak point of mine in the past, so hearing that I'm getting better is great.



Zager's Galvantula is completely adorable. I want my own little floor sweeping Galvantula that runs around eating my donut crumbs. Ariana was also awesome and I love the adorable personality you gave her. I lost it at the scene of her eating donuts with the booze. She just can't find any ****s to give, can she?

Galvantula is oddly cute for a gigantic electrical spider, and it sounded fun to give a grumpy old man like Zager a hyperactive, puppy-eyed Galvantula as a pet.

And no, Ariana can't find any ****s to give. Let Zager do all the work while she just lounges around and talks, that's how she does it.




TR back to their Johto/Kanto selves was awesome and made me smile a lot. I think you got their personalities perfect, especially the way they talk. Nice to see Pierce around being his manly self too.

You did really well with the interactions of all the Rockets, and getting their personalities right is really important.

I wouldn't say they're entirely back to their Kanto/Johto selves. They still are going to be competent and use machines like in BW, but just with a bit more humor. Like I said earlier, I'm aiming for a hybrid of their personalities.

Pierce was fun to write, because it's easy to see him as a rigid stickler for formality. Of course, there's more to it - but isn't there always?



Olivia was adorable in this chapter, even as bratty as she was. I still liked seeing her try and do her best to make her dad happy. It was tragic but heartwarming.

Nekou is the best role model, ever. I think she'll get along really well with Olivia. :3

That's really how she was intended. Maybe you understand her better since you've been reading for longer, but I do think that even newer readers will come to understand her better soon enough.

And you think Nekolu will get along with her? Boy is that an understatement! XD;



Renzo is a huge douchebag, by the way. You do a really job writing him to be someone you always cheer against.

That's interesting, because as time passes, I think some readers might come to feel some sympathy for him. He's not as two-dimensional as he might seem at first glance.



Keep up the fantastic work!

Thanks!


You know, I was in a bit of a rut in regards to writing chapters for Proving Grounds, but somehow, reading this chapter got me inspired to write more. So, thanks! :D

You're welcome! ^^




Now, before all else...



...wow. Olivia is such a bratty little wannabe-princess sometimes. Just imagine what would happen if she tried to pull that attitude with someone like Skull...oh, Arceus, there would be violence...


Skull VS. Olivia VS. Nekou. Buckle up.

But yeah, bratty little wannabe princess. There you go.



--I can guess the identities of about 2 or 3 Sacred Helix members, based solely on their masks. I originally thought that Project J was a reference to our favorite Pokemon Hunter, but now I'm not so positive...

Gee, I wonder which ones they are. ;)

And no, it has nothing to do with J. It's worse.



--I can guess the identities of about 2 or 3 Sacred Helix members, based solely on their masks. I originally thought that Project J was a reference to our favorite Pokemon Hunter, but now I'm not so positive...

It won't be pretty.



--I have to admit, I'm a little...iffy...about having the TR trio do their "secret agent thing" from Best Wishes. You might be able to make it more interesting, though, as well as having actual relevance to the plot.

I hope that I'll be able to make them a little more interesting. They will be more directly involved in what's going on, at least partially because their actions will bring them into direct conflict with Polaris pretty fast, and I'll also try to have them be a little more amusing so they're fun to read.

I think the other Rockets will do a great help in contributing, too, both role-and-personality-wise.



--I can already tell that this fic could be extremely looonnngg. I you're going to work in all of the Battle Frontier and Gyms for Matt and Olivia, respectively, plus all of the plotting from TR and Polaris...we could be in for a long ride.

Yeah, I'll make no pretense of this. This story is going to be long. I think it'll be worth it though.


This was quite an interesting chapter. Wonder what our heroes will find in Cherrygrove City, and how Olivia will perform in her first real Gym battle? Should be interesting to see. Can't wait to find out!

Those are some very good questions that you should be asking. Trust me, are they ever...

Thanks for reading!

Anyway, to everyone, the next chapter should be a little shorter. It will cover Olivia trying to catch a Pokemon, the first appearance of a recurring wild Pokemon, and the debut of a major character on Route 29.

Bay
17th June 2012, 3:17 AM
Over the first part, I actually have a couple criticisms. Olivia's whining over not getting her starter of choice is a bit uneasy to me. I guess it's because I would expect ten year old Olivia to act like that and since she's around in her teens (I think? If I’m mistaken, sorry x_x ) that scene makes her very childish. This is probably your intention, but that part still makes me shake my head at her.

Another thing is the repetition of Matt's uneasiness when Rich is mentioned. I know you did this for those readers that haven't read the last two fics, but the emotional impact of that reference is losing its spark. Then again, I read the other two fics, hence me getting tired of it. :x

Yay for Zager, Ariana, and Team Rocket! Aw Jessie and James wanting to say their motto onced more, lol.

Don’t know why, but I thought it’s kind of cute that Juniper is interested in Matt and the group’s adventures. I too would wish Olivia would be more enthusiastic over Oshawott (agree with Bunny that he’s a cutie <3 ).

Olivia’s battle I like quite a bit. Nice to see that she won. Also glad she’s getting along with Oshawott a little more (she will learn to love the Oshawott sound enough though, SOON ENOUGH *coughs* ).

The last part with the Sarced Helix is interesting but on the vague side, which is fine since I know you’re keeping that group mysterious for a bit. Wish I have more to say but can’t think anything more to add, so I’ll sit back for now LOL.

Overall I enjoyed reading this chapter very much! I’m wondering how you’ll pull through Olivia and Matt's battle the gyms/frontiers journey along with the Sacred Helix among other things, but I’ll see what you come up with first

The Great Butler
17th June 2012, 8:11 AM
Over the first part, I actually have a couple criticisms. Olivia's whining over not getting her starter of choice is a bit uneasy to me. I guess it's because I would expect ten year old Olivia to act like that and since she's around in her teens (I think? If I’m mistaken, sorry x_x ) that scene makes her very childish. This is probably your intention, but that part still makes me shake my head at her.

A necessary evil, I'd say. She has to start at a very low point.


Another thing is the repetition of Matt's uneasiness when Rich is mentioned. I know you did this for those readers that haven't read the last two fics, but the emotional impact of that reference is losing its spark. Then again, I read the other two fics, hence me getting tired of it. :x

Point taken, I'll do something to tone it down.


Yay for Zager, Ariana, and Team Rocket! Aw Jessie and James wanting to say their motto onced more, lol.

Glad you like them ^^


Don’t know why, but I thought it’s kind of cute that Juniper is interested in Matt and the group’s adventures. I too would wish Olivia would be more enthusiastic over Oshawott (agree with Bunny that he’s a cutie <3 ).

Juniper is interested at least in part because she heard about their encounter with Victini, who she is interested in as a Pokemon connected to Unova.


Olivia’s battle I like quite a bit. Nice to see that she won. Also glad she’s getting along with Oshawott a little more (she will learn to love the Oshawott sound enough though, SOON ENOUGH *coughs* ).

Glad you liked it, and yeah, she will, trust me. XD


The last part with the Sarced Helix is interesting but on the vague side, which is fine since I know you’re keeping that group mysterious for a bit. Wish I have more to say but can’t think anything more to add, so I’ll sit back for now LOL.

It's okay that you don't have much to say right now about them. You will in the future. XD;


Overall I enjoyed reading this chapter very much! I’m wondering how you’ll pull through Olivia and Matt's battle the gyms/frontiers journey along with the Sacred Helix among other things, but I’ll see what you come up with first

Thanks for the kind review! I'll certainly do my best, and I hope I'll be able to make you even more entertained by future chapters.

SilentMemento
18th June 2012, 6:40 PM
I probably should've done this review a long time ago, but I hope that this will suffice:

Seriously, Olivia? Could she possibly be any less mature? Wait, never mind, she probably could, which is pretty scary to think about. The way she's treating Oshawott leads me to believe that future neglect is more of a "when" than an "if". Sooner or later, Oshawott is going to realize that Olivia isn't the same way with him as she is with Roselia and Minccino. When that happens, it's going to create a huge amount of resentment and/or guilt on Oshawott's part - both of which could badly stunt his emotional growth. If the three adults have any sense whatsoever, they should put their foot down right now before it has a chance to get to that point.

Look at Ash's Charizard when it evolved. Then think of the worst-case scenario of an emotionally-underdeveloped Dewott/Samurott in their midst. You'll understand my concerns.

Doughnuts and whiskey?! Ariana is awesome. Enough said. And thank fate that the trio stopped using that awful motto. You'd think that it would've gotten stale after all the episodes they used it in...

Renzo...I see that he's just as batshit insane and obsessed as ever. The guy really does have problems (if one could dismiss whatever raging insanity he has as merely a problem). Hell, it wouldn't surprise me if he turned to stalking them because of his fixating behavior, but it also wouldn't surprise me if he knew more details than he should about Rich's death.

It worries me what his motives are, but what he might do after he completes his goal worries me even more. Renzo does not seem like the type to move on. It's a scary thought, but I think that even if he does manage to reveal whatever he thinks is the truth about Rich, he'll still stalk and harass his family and friends, not to gloat about his victory, but because he simply doesn't know how to do anything else.

The first thing I noticed about the Sacred Helix was that Archer had joined them. One of two options popped into my head: either he's upset at Giovanni for taking back control or he's there to spy on the Sacred Helix for TR. Either way, I love how you portrayed him: calm and completely in control of his surroundings. He's probably the only character I truly like out of that entire group. Still, I thought that Archer had blue hair...

Geminus is a very interesting name to take. In Ancient Greek history, Geminus was one of the forefathers of mathematics and astronomy. Not many people would've thought of him before such names like Plato or Aristotle. I'm impressed.

As for this story's Geminus...I have all sorts of theories about him, but if any of them are close to being right...well, he could very well be the most powerful person in that room. And now I'm hearing legends being referred to as "angels".

Now I don't just hate Polaris beyond all reason. I'm also extremely frightened about what they might be capable of if they had one of those legends in their grasp... Fate, just imagine a terrorist cult going for total control of a whole group of monsters that are on a god-like level. They're already more scary than any villain I've seen in your fics - which I had thought impossible. Major, major kudos to you for establishing that in the second chapter of your story.

Overall, I don't think you could've played it out better than you did. Even Olivia's brattiness looked like it had a place in the chapter. This was excellently done. I'm excited to see what the next chapter will hold, whenever it comes out.

Sincerely,

Mem.

The Great Butler
19th June 2012, 9:52 AM
Seriously, Olivia? Could she possibly be any less mature? Wait, never mind, she probably could, which is pretty scary to think about. The way she's treating Oshawott leads me to believe that future neglect is more of a "when" than an "if". Sooner or later, Oshawott is going to realize that Olivia isn't the same way with him as she is with Roselia and Minccino. When that happens, it's going to create a huge amount of resentment and/or guilt on Oshawott's part - both of which could badly stunt his emotional growth. If the three adults have any sense whatsoever, they should put their foot down right now before it has a chance to get to that point.

Look at Ash's Charizard when it evolved. Then think of the worst-case scenario of an emotionally-underdeveloped Dewott/Samurott in their midst. You'll understand my concerns.

Well, I'm certainly seeing the track you're on, but that's not the way I'm going to go, really. I'm reluctant to say more for fear of spoilers.


Doughnuts and whiskey?! Ariana is awesome. Enough said. And thank fate that the trio stopped using that awful motto. You'd think that it would've gotten stale after all the episodes they used it in...

Yeah, Ariana is awesome, isn't she? All the Executives have their own crazy personalities, but Ariana's the fun-loving one. Especially when she doesn't have to do anything because she can force Zager to do it instead.

And yeah, the motto was just something I felt had to go. I couldn't do it, having them actually doing things while still reciting it.


Renzo...I see that he's just as batshit insane and obsessed as ever. The guy really does have problems (if one could dismiss whatever raging insanity he has as merely a problem). Hell, it wouldn't surprise me if he turned to stalking them because of his fixating behavior, but it also wouldn't surprise me if he knew more details than he should about Rich's death.

You're on the right track, insofar as how much he knows.

And stalking them? Maybe a little later, but for now he's got something to do.


It worries me what his motives are, but what he might do after he completes his goal worries me even more. Renzo does not seem like the type to move on. It's a scary thought, but I think that even if he does manage to reveal whatever he thinks is the truth about Rich, he'll still stalk and harass his family and friends, not to gloat about his victory, but because he simply doesn't know how to do anything else.

That's actually a really astute observation. I think you're going to be surprised, though, because believe it or not, there is more to him than this. I think as a bigger picture comes into focus, you'll suddenly understand him.


The first thing I noticed about the Sacred Helix was that Archer had joined them. One of two options popped into my head: either he's upset at Giovanni for taking back control or he's there to spy on the Sacred Helix for TR. Either way, I love how you portrayed him: calm and completely in control of his surroundings. He's probably the only character I truly like out of that entire group. Still, I thought that Archer had blue hair...

It's the first option.

Him being in control also reflects his position, I think. He's sitting in for the entire cult's leader, so naturally he has to be control.

And his hair looked gray to me, but whatever, it still worked.


Geminus is a very interesting name to take. In Ancient Greek history, Geminus was one of the forefathers of mathematics and astronomy. Not many people would've thought of him before such names like Plato or Aristotle. I'm impressed.

That's actually not what my motivation for choosing his name was, but it still fits him very well.

You might be onto a track worth thinking about, though.


As for this story's Geminus...I have all sorts of theories about him, but if any of them are close to being right...well, he could very well be the most powerful person in that room.

I think having a suit that can generate bolts of electricity from its hands is what makes him the most powerful person in the room. XD;

But yeah, he's not someone you want to meet in a dark alley. Boy, are you ever going to find that out.


And now I'm hearing legends being referred to as "angels".

Now I don't just hate Polaris beyond all reason. I'm also extremely frightened about what they might be capable of if they had one of those legends in their grasp... Fate, just imagine a terrorist cult going for total control of a whole group of monsters that are on a god-like level. They're already more scary than any villain I've seen in your fics - which I had thought impossible. Major, major kudos to you for establishing that in the second chapter of your story.

Clarification: while Polaris wants Legendaries, and lots of them, them and the Angels are two separate things. The Angels aren't Pokemon.

Thanks, though. I suppose that maybe the mystery surrounding them is helping to produce the sense of menace right now? I mean, they're clearly doing some kind of shady genetic experimentation, have plans that are on a huge scale with the capability of actually carrying them out, and even look threatening - and yet, you don't even really know what they're doing or going to do just yet! Let me assure you, you're going to end up thinking it wasn't so bad at this point when you actually know things about them.


Overall, I don't think you could've played it out better than you did. Even Olivia's brattiness looked like it had a place in the chapter. This was excellently done. I'm excited to see what the next chapter will hold, whenever it comes out.

Thanks! It really means a lot.

I don't think the next chapter is going to be as big as this one in terms of events; it's mostly to bring us from New Bark Town to Cherrygrove City. Though, on the other hand, some stuff of importance will happen, so I suppose it's still going to be good.

I'll try to do my best on getting it out as soon as I can.

SoulMuse
30th June 2012, 7:12 PM
( I would like to not that I have not read either of the other stories relating to this, so some of my comments might be due to lack of knowledge that could be gained from those stories)

Hmm…..Since I did go ahead and read both chapters, I think I will go ahead and cover them as one entity.

As someone who has not read anything that precludes this story, the very first thing that comes to mind is the amount of information that these first two chapters throw at you. The story opens in a mysterious laboratory, in which as child is being born. We are introduced to the first character, one Gabriel Zager, who appears to be in charge of whatever is happening. However, before we find out to much about Zager, a new person barges in, spouting about how they should never have played God.

That certainly gets my attention, and makes me wonder just what exactly these people are doing. I can figure it has something to do with the baby, which provides a good way to keep readers hooked onto your story.

This Scene raps up by introducing a new character, someone named Father, who mentions Polaris, whatever that is, and the Azrael Project, which obviously has something to do with whatever was begin done in the lab.

This opening is great, providing just enough detail to keep your readers interested without making any plot detail obvious.

--------------

The next scene throws quite a bit right into the readers face. First off, the focus of the opening scene, Dr. Zager has mysteriously vanished, fourteen years after the events of the opening, which provides a sort of ominous overtone to this experiment, a fact further backed up by the comments about other members of the team vanishing, or quitting.

This time, the team, whose leader is called insane by his underlings, appears to be communicating with something, indicated to be a brain synapse, referred to as Project J, which they are revealed to be trying to restore to life. The mysterious Father is mentioned again, along with Polaris.

As a reader, this is about when I started to have trouble keeping up with the information thrown around. Within this short little scene, the reader is told that Azrael, whatever that was, failed, Dr. Zager, who appeared to be important, has vanished, a person who is simply addressed as Father seems to be running the show, until this Sacred Helix is mentioned. A lot of things to try and keep track of.

------------

This time, the scene break introduces a new cast of characters, firstly a pair named Anthea and Concordia, who remark about the day of reckoning, which sounds like some kind of Apocalypse. Next, is a man who you go to great detail to provide a description of, but his name doesn’t come for a while. However, we do learn that this man, and everyone else in the room, is part of the Sacred Helix, but no more details about them is forthcoming, leaving the reader with more questions that answers.

I will agree with Avenger Angel that your depiction of Ghetsis’s character is excellent; I can literally imagine him saying things like that.

The cast of characters is then expanded to include Jeunes, the insane leader of Project J, Finansielle who we know nothing about, besides a brief mention in the previous scene, a man in a seat numbered two wearing a Darkrai mask. But after a few line of dialogue, that do little but show a small bit of a power hierarchy, the scene cuts off.

As a reader, I am now left with more questions than answers. The cast of characters is fairly large by this point, especially for the amount of text used to introduce them, but which ones are actually important? Right now, I feel like I have to remember every single character you present, along with details about the Sacred Helix, Project J and Azrael, which are obviously important.

------------

The new scene begins with some italic print talking about a Meteor of some sort, but then, instead of elaborating, moves on to the Pewter City Museum. Quickly file away the detail about the Meteor, that obviously is important, and then move on with the story.

Once again, I find myself with questions galore, but answers do not seem forth coming. A thief is stealing the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs, so Dialga and Palkia will no doubt have some part in the story. This thief appears to be able to wield lightning, but I do not see any explanation of this unique phenomenon. You then make a passing reference to the Kami Trio, and some island or another. The thief approaches a locked capsule which they claim contains Zoroark.

At this point, my only thought is: Slow down, and fill in a few blanks please. Zoroark is not a legendary Pokémon, so more than one should logically exist, but from the thief’s remark, I gather that only one Zoroark exists and it is in the capsule. Also, with the mention of the Kami Trio, and an island, that just adds more things for the reader to remember, and more questions.

----------

Yet again a new scene. By this point, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about what other information that can be thrown my way. I have to say my fears are somewhat justified.

With this scene Team Rocket makes an appearance, with Jessie, James, and Mewoth, along with a mysterious fellow who goes by the name of Pierce. After a short conversation, Pierce snaps his fingers and blows up the building that the Rocket Trio had been living in, and tells them that Code Black Seven has been activated, whatever that is.

I would like to take a second to point out that I don’t really feel like Jessie/James/Mewoth’s reactions to having their home blown up are completely realistic. If someone just blows up your house, by snapping his fingers no less, I really doubt that a person is just going to accept the excuse that their Boss has issued some order. That whole sequence feels rushed, and prefabricated to me.

----------

The last sequence of the chapter brings to the forefront a host of new characters. Before this scene, we had the following as characters I felt like I needed to remember (i.e. characters that I feel are either vital to the plot, or can be called main characters).

Dr. Zager
Azrael
‘Father’
Ghetsis,
Jeunes
Finansielle
The man in the Darkrai mask
Anthea
Concordia
The Thief
Apparently Zoroark
Jessie
James
Mewoth
Pierce
Project J

Sixteen characters that can be considered highly important or plot relevant, and all of them in one chapter. This seems rather rushed, introducing that many characters in such a short time, and it makes it rather hard to keep track of what is happening.

-----------

The final scene is real dozy. We start off with three new characters, named Olivia, who is described as a young girl, who apparently is looking for her father, is apprenticed to some dude named Matt, and also will be getting her starter Pokémon. Next we have Bunny and Nekou, who seem to dislike this Matt character.

Then come a news report about a serial killer, called the Kiss of Death killer, Okay, so we now have potentially important serial killer, and four new characters, but not too many questions yet. However, it is worth noting that Olivia’s age is hard to work out.

Then we have this Matt fellow, who the others seem to think is a total douche. Whoever he is, we find out several new characters from him, namely, Rich, Anabel, Eleanor, and Agenta, who he swears to bring to justice. This entire sequence with Matt seems rather flat to me, and lacking in emotion. You mention he is sorrowful, but what kind of sorrow, and why?

The next part of this scene reveals some missing links surrounding Olivia, namely the fact that her father is dead, but she doesn’t know that because Matt doesn’t want to tell her. Olivia seems determined to find her father, apparently feeling abandoned or something like that.

The chapter raps up on a strange note, introducing professor Juniper.
-----

First chapter: Your first chapter was well written, but the constant jumps made it hard for me to follow, and determine which characters I actually need to remember a lot of detail about and who I can sort of gloss over. A lot of information is thrown at the reader very quickly, making it hard to process.

Some of the scenes, the one with Team Rocket, and the Sacred Helix one, seemed somewhat forced, or choppy, but overall, each little segment was fairly interesting.

--------

Second Chapter:

This chapter adds a rather quick twist to things, with Professor Elm missing, and no one knowing his where abouts. The bit about the group being Heroes of WhiteGold city was confusing, but you explained that rather nicely, without boring the reader to death later on.

Being uncertain of Olivia’s age, I find it hard to decide how to judge her reactions to the events, but considering she seems to be at least ten, but younger than fifteen, I would think she is being a little bit immature.

------------

Now Dr. Zager makes his reappearance. This scene is nice, since it provides some answers to questions raised in chapter one, but still holds the readers attention. Polaris is explained further, and Team Rocket is shown to be in opposition to them. That certainly makes things interesting.

Jessie, James, and Mewoth again feel a bit like cardboard cut outs in this chapter. That might just be me, but they feel as though they were sort of shoved into the story, and don’t really belong here.

--------

The next section reveals that Olivia’s goal is to become famous so her father will come back and love her again. She feels that he left because she didn’t’ live up to his expectations. This provides her excellent motivation to get better, and fleshes out her character some more, so kudos on that.

I am not really sure what to think of Matt. The other three treat him like dirt, but so far, he doesn’t appear to deserve that treatment.

The explanation of the Whitegold City events is well done, providing all the right information without being boring.

Once again, Olivia appears to simply be acting childish and petulant in relation to choosing a starter Pokémon. Compared to the maturity that she has supposedly shown, it seems very out of place.

Nothing really to say about the Team Rocket scene in the middle here, so I will keep going with Olivia and Co.

I am not sure what to make of the douche bag who you introduced by having him battle Olivia. I am guessing that he has a serious reason to hate Olivia’s father, otherwise he wouldn’t go so far, without knowing more I can’t really comment. I would guess however that he is associated with Polaris.

--------

This story seems to have a lot of potential, however I found it hard to really just sit back and enjoy because I was constantly having to either remember who characters are, pick out plot details, or trying to remember everything that is thrown at the reader. The second chapter did a better job of not overwhelming me with information and I was able to sit back and enjoy it a lot more.

Most of the interactions between the characters are well done, except for the Team Rocket bits. My only serious quibble with them is I don’t’ really see any grounds in Matt’s personality for the girls to treat him like garbage.

The Sacred Helix is quite interesting, and I get the feeling with start the ball rolling for real on your plot. The only thing the reader really knows about what is coming is that Polaris is planning something big, but nothing beyond that, so you have to come back to find out more, nicely done.

Overall, this story has a lot of potential, and I look forward to seeing how everything develops.

The Great Butler
1st July 2012, 6:44 AM
( I would like to not that I have not read either of the other stories relating to this, so some of my comments might be due to lack of knowledge that could be gained from those stories)

I think you've got a pretty good grasp of things, actually. So, thumbs up already!


Hmm…..Since I did go ahead and read both chapters, I think I will go ahead and cover them as one entity.

Very good, that's what I was hoping for.


As someone who has not read anything that precludes this story, the very first thing that comes to mind is the amount of information that these first two chapters throw at you.

I apologize for that. In hindsight, I see very clearly that I presented far too much upfront, so I can definitely understand your feelings here. That said, however, I think that things should become more streamlined starting with the next chapter.[/quote]


The story opens in a mysterious laboratory, in which as child is being born. We are introduced to the first character, one Gabriel Zager, who appears to be in charge of whatever is happening. However, before we find out to much about Zager, a new person barges in, spouting about how they should never have played God.

That certainly gets my attention, and makes me wonder just what exactly these people are doing. I can figure it has something to do with the baby, which provides a good way to keep readers hooked onto your story.

Good thinking so far. You're definitely on target.

I will get around to Zager's backstory eventually. It just didn't have any purpose being placed here.


This Scene raps up by introducing a new character, someone named Father, who mentions Polaris, whatever that is, and the Azrael Project, which obviously has something to do with whatever was begin done in the lab.

This opening is great, providing just enough detail to keep your readers interested without making any plot detail obvious.

I'd say you got exactly what I wanted to convey in the first scene, so thank you.


The next scene throws quite a bit right into the readers face.

Again, sorry about that. ^^; I'll definitely work on not doing that as much.


First off, the focus of the opening scene, Dr. Zager has mysteriously vanished, fourteen years after the events of the opening, which provides a sort of ominous overtone to this experiment, a fact further backed up by the comments about other members of the team vanishing, or quitting.

This time, the team, whose leader is called insane by his underlings, appears to be communicating with something, indicated to be a brain synapse, referred to as Project J, which they are revealed to be trying to restore to life. The mysterious Father is mentioned again, along with Polaris.

As a reader, this is about when I started to have trouble keeping up with the information thrown around. Within this short little scene, the reader is told that Azrael, whatever that was, failed, Dr. Zager, who appeared to be important, has vanished, a person who is simply addressed as Father seems to be running the show, until this Sacred Helix is mentioned. A lot of things to try and keep track of.

Hmmm... looking back over it, I can definitely see exactly where I presented too much information. Your summing it up for me really did help.


This time, the scene break introduces a new cast of characters, firstly a pair named Anthea and Concordia, who remark about the day of reckoning, which sounds like some kind of Apocalypse. Next, is a man who you go to great detail to provide a description of, but his name doesn’t come for a while. However, we do learn that this man, and everyone else in the room, is part of the Sacred Helix, but no more details about them is forthcoming, leaving the reader with more questions that answers.

That was actually my intention. I definitely respect it if you don't care for the whole "left with more questions than answers" thing right now, but that's the tone I wanted to set.


I will agree with Avenger Angel that your depiction of Ghetsis’s character is excellent; I can literally imagine him saying things like that.

Thank you!

I think this is a good time to mention that I went back and edited Ghetsis's appearance to reflect his new design from Black & White 2.


The cast of characters is then expanded to include Jeunes, the insane leader of Project J, Finansielle who we know nothing about, besides a brief mention in the previous scene, a man in a seat numbered two wearing a Darkrai mask. But after a few line of dialogue, that do little but show a small bit of a power hierarchy, the scene cuts off.

As a reader, I am now left with more questions than answers. The cast of characters is fairly large by this point, especially for the amount of text used to introduce them, but which ones are actually important? Right now, I feel like I have to remember every single character you present, along with details about the Sacred Helix, Project J and Azrael, which are obviously important.

Well, my intention was to present information that will be important later now, then streamline the chapters into focusing on the relevant parts bit-by-bit. Based on feedback and my own hindsight, I can now see where that wasn't the best idea. That problem should be vastly scaled back going forward from here.


The new scene begins with some italic print talking about a Meteor of some sort, but then, instead of elaborating, moves on to the Pewter City Museum. Quickly file away the detail about the Meteor, that obviously is important, and then move on with the story.

Right, actually. Just something to file away for a little later that will be very relevant soon. In fact, it's relevant immediately enough that mentioning it here fits, I think.


Once again, I find myself with questions galore, but answers do not seem forth coming. A thief is stealing the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs, so Dialga and Palkia will no doubt have some part in the story. This thief appears to be able to wield lightning, but I do not see any explanation of this unique phenomenon. You then make a passing reference to the Kami Trio, and some island or another. The thief approaches a locked capsule which they claim contains Zoroark.

I think I did mention at some point that he was wearing a suit that could generate his lightning bolts? If I didn't mention that, I made a mistake.


At this point, my only thought is: Slow down, and fill in a few blanks please. Zoroark is not a legendary Pokémon, so more than one should logically exist, but from the thief’s remark, I gather that only one Zoroark exists and it is in the capsule. Also, with the mention of the Kami Trio, and an island, that just adds more things for the reader to remember, and more questions.

----------

Yet again a new scene. By this point, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about what other information that can be thrown my way. I have to say my fears are somewhat justified.

On Zoroark: This is a case of me getting broadsided by canon. I had a significant part of the rough storyline planned out before Zoroark was revealed to not be a Legendary Pokemon or one-of-a-kind. Because of that, I couldn't easily change it when that information became known. In order to work around it, this particular Zoroark is a unique and important one.

I think I know what happened that caused me to put so much into these two chapters. I think I just got too caught up in all the ideas I had and in my haste to get them all out, I put far too much out at once.


With this scene Team Rocket makes an appearance, with Jessie, James, and Mewoth, along with a mysterious fellow who goes by the name of Pierce. After a short conversation, Pierce snaps his fingers and blows up the building that the Rocket Trio had been living in, and tells them that Code Black Seven has been activated, whatever that is.

I would like to take a second to point out that I don’t really feel like Jessie/James/Mewoth’s reactions to having their home blown up are completely realistic. If someone just blows up your house, by snapping his fingers no less, I really doubt that a person is just going to accept the excuse that their Boss has issued some order. That whole sequence feels rushed, and prefabricated to me.

I realized that you may not be aware of some of the changes the most recent series of the anime has brought on, so allow me to bring you up to date on them: Jessie, James and Meowth got a promotion and had their characters changed to make them more like serious secret agent-types. At first they worked directly under Giovanni but right now they work for Dr. Zager (that's where he came from) doing jobs to please Giovanni. For that reason, I feel like Jessie, James and Meowth have become characters who would understand drastic actions if Giovanni ordered them to take place; also, the implication in the scene's context was that they recognized the mission that was activated as something extremely serious, and understood the situation based on that.

Pierce is an anime-original character who was another operative assisting Jessie, James, Meowth and Dr. Zager during the first 24 episodes of Best Wishes!. He hasn't appeared since the infamous skipped episodes in March of 2011 and his current status is unknown.


The final scene is real dozy. We start off with three new characters, named Olivia, who is described as a young girl, who apparently is looking for her father, is apprenticed to some dude named Matt, and also will be getting her starter Pokémon. Next we have Bunny and Nekou, who seem to dislike this Matt character.

I think I might have failed to communicate their group dynamics as I wished to. Bunny and Nekou don't actually dislike him - Nekou is just a sarcastic, blunt person, while Bunny is a sort of "tough love" type who doesn't hesitate to put her foot down when she feels she needs to.



Then we have this Matt fellow, who the others seem to think is a total douche. Whoever he is, we find out several new characters from him, namely, Rich, Anabel, Eleanor, and Agenta, who he swears to bring to justice. This entire sequence with Matt seems rather flat to me, and lacking in emotion. You mention he is sorrowful, but what kind of sorrow, and why?

Actually, he's not going to bring them to justice, he's going to get justice for them. I agree that the scene isn't what it could be, though, in hindsight.


The next part of this scene reveals some missing links surrounding Olivia, namely the fact that her father is dead, but she doesn’t know that because Matt doesn’t want to tell her. Olivia seems determined to find her father, apparently feeling abandoned or something like that.


First chapter: Your first chapter was well written, but the constant jumps made it hard for me to follow, and determine which characters I actually need to remember a lot of detail about and who I can sort of gloss over. A lot of information is thrown at the reader very quickly, making it hard to process.

Some of the scenes, the one with Team Rocket, and the Sacred Helix one, seemed somewhat forced, or choppy, but overall, each little segment was fairly interesting.

I agree with many of your thoughts, and I'll do my best to remedy them moving forward. Thank you for your kind words, as well.

Moving on...



Being uncertain of Olivia’s age, I find it hard to decide how to judge her reactions to the events, but considering she seems to be at least ten, but younger than fifteen, I would think she is being a little bit immature.

She's fourteen, so your estimate is right on the money. And she absolutely is immature. That was entirely what I wanted to establish, because now I can focus on her developing and growing out of it.


Now Dr. Zager makes his reappearance. This scene is nice, since it provides some answers to questions raised in chapter one, but still holds the readers attention. Polaris is explained further, and Team Rocket is shown to be in opposition to them. That certainly makes things interesting.

Thank you.


Jessie, James, and Mewoth again feel a bit like cardboard cut outs in this chapter. That might just be me, but they feel as though they were sort of shoved into the story, and don’t really belong here.

I'm still feeling out how to best write them, so any input I can get is definitely appreciated. Thanks again.


The next section reveals that Olivia’s goal is to become famous so her father will come back and love her again. She feels that he left because she didn’t’ live up to his expectations. This provides her excellent motivation to get better, and fleshes out her character some more, so kudos on that.

That was something that was really important to me to establish. I wanted the goals being pursued by the protagonists to differ from the typical "catch 'em all and be the best" thing, so I created things like this to show that not everybody wants to succeed in the Pokemon world without a deeper goal assigned to it.


I am not really sure what to think of Matt. The other three treat him like dirt, but so far, he doesn’t appear to deserve that treatment.

Again, I think a little further explanation might be necessary on my part. None of them really "dislike" him per se.

Olivia's just a bratty teenage girl, so on the surface her acting out is just what you'd expect of someone her age. It's then exaggerated by the issues she has that have been highlighted already.

Bunny is an old friend of Matt's, which is something I probably should have established a little more clearly. She doesn't like to see him being as hard on himself as he has been, so she's tough on him to try and snap him out of it. That's actually a pretty good approximation of her in general - she's the proverbial "straightman" in this group. Where the others have their own exaggerated quirks, Bunny is more "normal" and serious.

Nekou is... a complicated case. She's loud, rude and profane, but she really does mean well. There's going to be a scene in the next chapter to elaborate on her some more.


The explanation of the Whitegold City events is well done, providing all the right information without being boring.

That was tough to write well. Good to know I pulled it off.


Once again, Olivia appears to simply be acting childish and petulant in relation to choosing a starter Pokémon. Compared to the maturity that she has supposedly shown, it seems very out of place.

That dissonance is something I think works, actually. She's capable of maturity but then acts like this; that allows her to develop past her issues and grow up over the course of the story.

Of course, that's just my opinion, so take it as you will.


I am not sure what to make of the douche bag who you introduced by having him battle Olivia. I am guessing that he has a serious reason to hate Olivia’s father, otherwise he wouldn’t go so far, without knowing more I can’t really comment. I would guess however that he is associated with Polaris.

I don't want to say too much about him yet, but yes, he has a very legitimate problem with Olivia's father that drives him.


This story seems to have a lot of potential, however I found it hard to really just sit back and enjoy because I was constantly having to either remember who characters are, pick out plot details, or trying to remember everything that is thrown at the reader. The second chapter did a better job of not overwhelming me with information and I was able to sit back and enjoy it a lot more.

Then in that case, I think the third chapter will be even better.


Most of the interactions between the characters are well done, except for the Team Rocket bits. My only serious quibble with them is I don’t’ really see any grounds in Matt’s personality for the girls to treat him like garbage.

I'll take what you've said under my hat, but I do think that it is at least in part due to a failure of communication on my part that Matt appears to be getting treated seriously poorly. Like I mentioned earlier, though, there will be a scene expanding on his relationship to Nekou in the next chapter, and I'll try to make the meaning of their interactions all more clear.


The Sacred Helix is quite interesting, and I get the feeling with start the ball rolling for real on your plot. The only thing the reader really knows about what is coming is that Polaris is planning something big, but nothing beyond that, so you have to come back to find out more, nicely done.

As intended.


Overall, this story has a lot of potential, and I look forward to seeing how everything develops.

Thank you very much! I appreciate you taking the time to write this very generous review, and I hope you'll stick around to see more.

A note: I'm going to try to have the next chapter up by next weekend. That's my target timeframe for it.

Scaldaver
8th July 2012, 10:27 PM
One word: Wow.

From the get go you threw us into a fully-active, dynamic world, quickly filling us in with our character's past adventures to give us some background. The thief at the beginning fascinates me - but I must ask: what of the Griseos Orb? Never mind, it will probably be answered soon.

I'm not one for commenting every two seconds, so I'll go on what I noticed the most:

The secret organisation (Helix) seems interesting, although their objectives are a mystery. I'm confused as to why the organisation has 10 chromosomes and makes such a big deal of it - after all, humans have 46. I suppose, though, it'd be fairly boring to have them all cast a vote and for you to name them all. Anyway, I can't wait to see this mysterious organisation develop.

I very nearly pointed out you spelt 'Meteorite' incorrectly, until I backtracked and saw an explanation.

I think this may be a bit over-the-top-dramatic, but I suppose if this is meant to be a movie then maybe, yes it seems good.


“Nekou, shut up,” Matt sighed, readjusting his hat; the yellow feather tucked into it trembled slightly as he did so. “To make the very long story very short, she wasn’t who she said she was and we split on very bad terms. Anyway, Enigma Shadow was trying to take over the world with Pokémon whose hearts were sealed, rendering them soulless battling machines. Olivia’s parents were leading the charge to stop Enigma Shadow from realizing their plans using these Shadow Pokémon. Eventually, the person that was manipulating the organization, a woman named Judy, managed to call forth Arceus. She lost control of it, though, and in the confusion Rich saved us all before disappearing.

But yes, I was there the last time any of us saw Rich. I think he knew something was going to happen, though, because he left instructions for me to take Olivia under my wing, which is what I’ve been doing for the past five years.”

May I say, the second paragraph should shart with speech marks to show it is a continuation of speech. That's all the mistakes I found, really.

I can't get over how different our writing styles are - you do so much perfect description and I do so little. I guess it must be fairly boring for you to read my work, eh?

Anyway, put me on the PM list if possible, and tell me what you think of my proposal I will PM you.

Keep up the good work!

The Great Butler
9th July 2012, 10:23 AM
One word: Wow.

From the get go you threw us into a fully-active, dynamic world, quickly filling us in with our character's past adventures to give us some background. The thief at the beginning fascinates me - but I must ask: what of the Griseos Orb? Never mind, it will probably be answered soon.

The Griseous Orb really isn't relevant right now, but yeah, it will be brought up soon enough. Its situation was different than the other two Orbs.



The secret organisation (Helix) seems interesting, although their objectives are a mystery. I'm confused as to why the organisation has 10 chromosomes and makes such a big deal of it - after all, humans have 46. I suppose, though, it'd be fairly boring to have them all cast a vote and for you to name them all. Anyway, I can't wait to see this mysterious organisation develop.

Ten is certainly a much more manageable number than forty-six XD; Really, though, the council members are named Chromosomes simply because I needed a name that fit into the theme of DNA.


I very nearly pointed out you spelt 'Meteorite' incorrectly, until I backtracked and saw an explanation.

It's something primarily people familiar with the anime series would understand, but to sum it up, "Meteonite" is the name of the element comprising the meteorite, and it is used to refer to the meteorite itself mainly to distinguish it from an ordinary one.


I think this may be a bit over-the-top-dramatic, but I suppose if this is meant to be a movie then maybe, yes it seems good.

What are you referring to with this part, exactly? I can't quite tell.


May I say, the second paragraph should shart with speech marks to show it is a continuation of speech. That's all the mistakes I found, really.

I did that deliberately. I am of the opinion that using new quotation marks indicates a new person is speaking, so when I break paragraphs up but the same person is speaking, I don't re-establish the quotation marks.


I can't get over how different our writing styles are - you do so much perfect description and I do so little. I guess it must be fairly boring for you to read my work, eh?

Aw, you shouldn't sell yourself short. My description really isn't all that great, and yours isn't bad either. Your story is far from boring, too. The only real difference is that we have different but equally valid styles.


Anyway, put me on the PM list if possible, and tell me what you think of my proposal I will PM you.

Keep up the good work!

See my reply.

Thank you!

To everyone: I'm sorry I'm behind schedule. I want to have the next chapter up as soon as possible, hopefully within this week.

The Great Butler
19th July 2012, 11:17 AM
Hopefully, this chapter will be a bit more streamlined and easy to digest. There’s not as much going on in this one, so let’s see how it goes.

-:-

CHAPTER 3: Opening Moves on Fate’s Board

-:-

The dark clouds that covered the sky over Route 29 into Cherrygrove City and New Bark Town cast ominous shadows over the cliff-laden road, and rumbles of thunder could be heard approaching.

Beneath the cover provided by the thick trees just off the main path, Jessie, James, Meowth and Pierce were meeting to finalize their plans. James was holding in his hands a rectangular black tablet computer with ten buttons, a plus-shaped control pad and two thumb pads surrounding its screen; on its back and just below the bottom-left corner of its screen was the stylized script ‘R’ logo of Team Rocket. Meanwhile, in Jessie’s hand was a heavy briefcase.

“As you were made aware of,” Pierce instructed, “the energy signature associated with Meteonite was detected just south of our current position. Your mission is to find the source of that signal and recover the Meteonite piece. At that point, contact me for extraction.”

“So we’re doing all the work and you’re just going to sit around and wait to get us out,” Jessie complained, sighing. “Good to know.”

“You might think you need me, but the boss thinks otherwise. Besides, I have my own job to do.”

“What? Where would you be going?” Meowth wondered.

“There have been reports of unusual activity in Cherrygrove City that I’ve been ordered to investigate, so if there are no further questions about your mission, I will be going.”

Pierce turned sharply, causing the tails of his trench coat to flap up behind him. As he walked off, fallen twigs and leaves cracked beneath his heavy boots.

“Jessie, I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” James whimpered. “We’re not cut out for this. Team Aqua, Team Magma, Team Galactic, Hunter J… Polaris is bigger and stronger than they all were.”

“Oh, be quiet!” his hot-tempered female companion snapped back. “The boss wouldn’t have selected us for this mission if he didn’t trust us to get it done.”

“And in addition, the good old fluffy-headed doctor said we were picked because we did a good job taking out those liberation knight guys in Unova. That means we’ve got some skills, you two, even if we don’t know them all yet! Now…” Snatching the computer out of James’s hands, Meowth touched the screen with his paw. “We have to find out where that chunk of space rock is.”

After displaying the stylized script ‘R’ logo, the screen displayed a menu of several options. Meowth touched one of them, activating a radar system with the map of Route 29 loaded into it. As the system scanned the route, it returned a faint signal coming from very near the entrance of Cherrygrove City.

“There we go, it looks like it’s in the west of Route 29,” James observed. “Let’s get moving.”

-:-

The humble yet busy streets of New Bark Town gradually disappeared behind Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Bunny as they headed west into Route 29, giving way to a curving, cliff-laden road framed by long blades of fragrant grass. Off in the distance on all sides, tall trees provided boundary lines appropriate to the concept of a road through the woods.

“I’m not liking the looks of this weather,” Matt said, his eyes locked on the rumbling sky overhead. “Do you guys think we should have stayed in New Bark Town until this storm passes? Sure looks like one’s coming.”

“What’s the matter, afraid of a little thunder?” Nekou was so preoccupied with taking another bite off the croissant in her hand that she didn’t notice Matt shrink back slightly from her remark. “There’s nothing for us to be afraid of if there’s a storm. That’s why we were given trees.”

“Olivia, don’t you think we should try to get some training in?” suggested Bunny. “Violet City will come up faster than you expect. I think it would be a good idea to start getting Minccino, Roselia and Oshawott up to speed now.”

Olivia was walking slightly ahead of the others, but she stopped and turned after listening to Bunny’s proposal. “That sounds pretty good, actually. Can one of you help me out?”

“You two stand aside,” Nekou bossed Matt and Bunny, stepping past them with her mobile arm out. “I’ll be glad to help you train, Olivia. I’ve got just the Pokémon you need to see right now. Zorua, prepare yourself!”

Having reached into her blouse and produced a Poké Ball, Nekou opened it to free her Zorua. The black-and-red fox Pokémon shook herself off after entering the fresh air, then looked up at Olivia and barked.

“You’re going to use Zorua?” Bunny questioned.

“Yeah, so? She’s ready for something resembling a real battle, and besides, getting her some training too means this is a win-win for both me and Olivia.” Facing forward again, Nekou said to Olivia, “Use Oshawott. He’s the one who needs the training, if he’s to catch up to Minccino and Roselia.”

“Do I have to?” Olivia sighed. “Fine, I guess we’ll see how it goes. Oshawott, let’s play!”

Almost immediately upon materializing, Oshawott proudly held up his shell, only flinching slightly when he realized that Zorua was staring at him. He realized that this would be his first chance to prove himself to his trainer, so he intended to make the best of it.

“Okay, Olivia, we can’t even have a practice battle if you don’t know what moves Oshawott has. I think the Pokédex should be able to tell you about that.”

“Really?” Fumbling out her Pokédex, Olivia activated it and scanned Oshawott.

“Oshawott, the sea otter Pokémon. Type is Water. It fights using the scalchop on its stomach. In response to an attack, it retaliates immediately by slashing. The scalchop on its stomach is made from the same element as claws. It detaches the scalchop for use as a blade.”

“Wait, that’s not what I wanted…” Visibly flustered, Olivia clicked through several more screens until she finally arrived at what she wanted. “So Oshawott’s beginning moves are Water Gun and Tackle. Okay…”

“You’ll do fine, Olivia, just don’t lose your nerve!” Matt called out from the sidelines, where he was standing alongside Bunny and watching the training.

“Don’t break my concentration!” both Olivia and Nekou snapped at exactly the same time, prompting all four to laugh.

“Now, Olivia, I’ll let you attack first,” Nekou instructed. “Just try to get Oshawott to land a hit first.”

“ Okay then… Oshawott, use Water Gun on Zorua!”

“Zorua, get ready! Brace yourself!”

After taking a deep breath, Oshawott expelled a steady stream of water from his mouth. Zorua made no significant effort to evade the wave, instead choosing to simply plant her feet firmly into the ground.

The attack’s impact range was split between Zorua’s legs and the ground, and the force from below her feet threw Zorua into the air.

Nekou was ready with an improvised tactic, though. “It’s fine, Zorua. Go for Dig!”

Shaking off the small amount of injury she’d received – which amounted to little more than being shaken up at most – Zorua barked and flipped over in the air, drilling downward until she disappeared beneath the ground.

“Now, Olivia, don’t panic just yet,” Nekou gently advised, noting that both her opponent and the girl’s Oshawott seemed surprised by Zorua’s move. “I know you’re good at straight, all-out attacking, but from watching you beat that caped guy before, I know you can be pretty analytic too. Just try to calm down and assess the situation. What would be a good way to get me now?”

Olivia stared at the space between herself and Nekou and squinted in an attempt to increase her focus. She took stock of what was present – she was there herself, and directly opposite her was Nekou. Between the two of them stood Oshawott, waiting for a direction on what to do, and a hole where Zorua had punctured the earth to get underground. These factors were the tools she had to work with, Olivia realized.

Herself, Nekou, Oshawott, the hole leading to Zorua’s tunnel; Olivia ran through all of the available factors again in her mind, and something suddenly hit her. “Oshawott, fire Water Gun into the hole!”

Seeing Oshawott excitedly jumping toward Zorua’s burrow on Olivia’s command made Nekou smile. It meant that the lesson she was trying to teach the younger girl was getting through, a meaning that wasn’t lost on Matt and Bunny, who were both enthralled themselves.

With the force of Oshawott’s Water Gun pushing her, Zorua burst up out of the ground. She was just a little too far away from Oshawott to attack him directly, so Nekou was forced to come up with an alternate tactic.

“Zorua, use Snarl!”

“Zorooooo!” Zorua cried, her shrill voice causing Oshawott to hold his ears and shudder in pain. He felt his muscles weakening as well, a side effect of the attack Zorua was leveling against him.

Understanding that she couldn’t let this go on, Olivia raised her hand and called out, “Stop Zorua using Tackle, Oshawott!”

“Show Oshawott your Foul Play!”

Oshawott and Zorua ran at each other, both beginning to become tired from their exchanging blows. Zorua was glowing with a black light, so when the two Pokémon collided with each other, a shower of luminescent black sparks showered out. A few seconds later, Oshawott and Zorua were pushed apart by their own strength.

“That’s enough,” Nekou declared, seeing the two Pokémon breathing heavily. “We don’t want to overextend our Pokémon, otherwise we’ll do more harm than good.”

“How was I?” Olivia asked, somewhat demandingly. “Did I do well?”

“I’d say you did,” complimented her training partner. “You more than satisfied my expectations. Of course, a lot of credit has to go to Oshawott too.”

“I guess. I can’t say he did badly…”

“Oshawott…” uttered the Water-type Pokémon, relieved that Olivia was pleased with his performance even somewhat.

“That was some good work, Olivia,” Matt complimented as he and Bunny made their way over to the others.

“I think you’re already starting to bond with Oshawott, you know,” Bunny added, smiling. “Maybe you two really were made for each other.”

“Don’t get the wrong idea!” fumed Olivia, her face turning red. Matt couldn’t help but chuckle under his breath, but she failed to notice his subtle action and quickly calmed down. “So, now what?”

“Let’s keep going,” he proposed. “Maybe we can get right to Cherrygrove City, before a storm blows in if we’re lucky.”

Nekou, Olivia and Bunny all nodded in agreement with Matt’s suggestion, so with Oshawott and Zorua walking alongside them, they resumed their westward trek down the cliff-laden road.

Little did they realize they were being watched. At least a dozen pairs of yellow eyes glistened in the darkness within the foliage just off the main road, carefully observing the movements of the new invaders in their territory. Behind them, a single pair of larger, triangular white eyes watched as well.

-:-

Jessie, James and Meowth had moved south, just as Pierce had directed them, and now had a makeshift encampment set up in the woods just off of Route 29.

While Jessie was busy spying on the small house they could see from their hideout, James was using his black tablet computer to survey data being collected from both Jessie’s high-tech binoculars and the satellite dish held by her Wobbuffet. Meowth, meanwhile, had headphones specially designed for his head by Dr. Zager on.

“There’s no mistaking it, the Meteonite shard is inside that house,” observed James as he used his finger to slide through the data on his screen. “It’s where the readings are strongest.”

“What else is there to do, then?” Jessie asked rhetorically. “Break in, collect the rock, get out of there, and profit when the boss rewards us!”

“That’s right!” both James and Meowth exclaimed.

Wobbuffet shared their enthusiasm, but he cried out his name far too loudly, prompting Jessie to abruptly shush him. The quartet then turned back to the house, and Meowth’s expression darkened slightly.

“We gotta watch out for that old man who’s living there, though,” the cat Pokémon explained. “He looks like he’s got a lot of treasure on him, but that Pokémon with him ain’t something we want to cross. He might come back at any time.”

“Let’s just hold back for now,” Jessie suggested. “An opening might appear so we can swoop in and grab it.”

-:-

“So what do we do now?” Olivia wondered, directing her complaints at anyone who would listen. “Surely traveling is more exciting than this.”

“Well, Olivia, most trainers who start out tend to try catching a Pokémon right away,” Matt explained, before gently and carefully adding, “but you’ve got three already. I don’t think it’s a great idea to get more before you can at least get used to Oshawott.”

“Aw, seriously? I could find one I want to capture at any time, you know!”

Amused by Olivia’s reckless enthusiasm, Nekou smiled, a soft laugh escaping her lips. When Matt saw her expression, he instinctively prepared himself for her to provoke Olivia further, in turn leading to an even bigger disagreement. He was accordingly surprised, then, when that was not what Nekou did.

“You know, Olivia, for once he has a point,” she advised. “You have plenty of time before your first Gym battle, so there’s no need to rush to catch more Pokémon.”

“Oh, fine,” Olivia responded, pouting.

Nekou’s relatively cheery mood abruptly disappeared, giving her three companions pause. She stopped speaking and began wearily looking around, sniffing at the air while doing so.

“Nekou, what’s wrong?” Matt asked.

“Something’s not right, I can sense it,” she replied, continuing to crinkle her nose in an attempt to identify the scent. “We’re being watched.”

In a single sudden, incredibly fast motion, Nekou pulled a switchblade from the inside of her blouse with her right hand; she used it to cut the sling restraining her left arm, leaving it to fall away as her arm was freed.

Dumbfounded by what she was seeing, especially when Nekou moved her left arm freely without pain, Bunny stammered, “You were still injured just yesterday! How are you moving like that already?!”

“How I’m moving is not important right now. Get ready,” Nekou warned, brandishing her switchblade in a battle-ready stance. As if a switch had been thrown, Nekou’s personality was now completely serious. “Something’s watching us…”

Almost on cue, a nearby bush started rustling, causing Matt, Olivia and Bunny to jump nervously. Nekou, meanwhile, simply tensed up in preparation for combat, expecting a threat to come jumping out of the brush at any moment. Her instincts weren’t without merit, either, as mere seconds later something did indeed emerge.

However, what appeared was not the fearsome monster they were expecting; in fact, it was vastly different. The small, tan-bodied canine Pokémon looked up at them with wide eyes, twitching the large ears that rose up from behind the shock of light-colored fur covering his face.

“That Pokémon is adorable!” Olivia exclaimed excitedly, clasping her hands together and speaking loudly.

“It’s Lillipup, a Pokémon from Unova,” Nekou informed the others. “Olivia, you should scan it.”

On Nekou’s encouragement, Olivia took out her Pokédex and scanned Lillipup as he stared apprehensively at them.

“Lillipup, the puppy Pokémon. Type is Normal. It is a brave Pokémon, but it also has the intelligence to judge an enemy’s strength and avoid battles.”

“I don’t want to underestimate it, but…” Bunny shifted uncomfortably before finishing, “…this was what we were supposed to be afraid of?”

Lillipup barked weakly and began slowly moving toward the group, making his injured right hind leg become apparent.

“It’s hurt!” Matt exclaimed, putting words to what all of them were feeling. While he was the one to verbalize their thoughts, though, it was Olivia putting those emotions to action, rushing over to the injured Pokémon.

“It’s okay, Lillipup, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” As she tried to speak soothingly to Lillipup, Olivia could feel a light coating of blood stuck onto the blue fur on his back. “I think something might have attacked it,” she nervously said to her friends, looking for guidance on what to do.

She would not receive it, as Nekou suddenly snapped her head back up toward the underbrush and called out, “Zorua, use Incinerate now!”

Having remained next to her trainer the entire time, Zorua was in perfect position to release a thin jet of fire aimed at the as-yet-unknown threat, hitting it with enough force to cause a small explosion.

“Pawnia!” a high-pitched voice shrilled upon impact.

From the cloud of smoke a Pokémon fell. She had a humanoid body colored primarily red and gray, with two hooks protruding from her torso. Her arms each ended in a sharp knife blade, and another blade stuck out from her helmet between her two yellow eyes.

The blast generated by the collision of Zorua’s Incinerate and the Pokémon was so close to Olivia that she was knocked over by its force. Screaming, she picked up the injured Lillipup in her arms and fled behind Nekou and Matt.

“What’s that thing?!” she screeched in fear.

Before anyone could answer, a second Pokémon identical to the first jumped from a nearby tree and attempted to cut Nekou with his knife arms, but she dispelled the assault by swinging her switchblade to knock him away. She then identified him by speaking the Pokémon’s name while Olivia fumbled for her Pokédex.

“Pawniard. Another Unova Pokémon…”

“Pawniard, the Sharp Blade Pokémon. Type is Dark/Steel. Even if it gets injured, it doesn’t care. It attacks its prey in a group, using the blades all over its body.”

“A group?!” Olivia nervously breathed. “Does that mean there are even more of them?”

She received an answer to her question almost immediately. Repeating their species name like a chant, more Pawniard emerged from the bushes until their ranks numbered a total of twelve. They were then joined by a thirteenth Pokémon, one that resembled a taller, more mature Pawniard whose body had grown to have sharp blades for ankles and feet, arms with retractable blades in them, and a golden axe blade bisecting her head from between her white, triangular eyes.

“Shit, a Bisharp!” Nekou spat, her worst fears realized.

As it had never left her hands, Olivia was able to quickly scan the Bisharp with her Pokédex.

“Bisharp, the Sword Blade Pokémon. Type is Dark/Steel. Evolved form of Pawniard. A scary Pokémon that will take the injured, immobile prey that battled a group of Pawniard and portion it out.”

“I don’t like that thing,” Olivia whimpered while shivering nervously.

“You’re not wrong to feel that way,” Nekou said to support the younger girl. “I’ve seen what these Pokémon can do. Marie, prepare yourself for battle! Join Zorua!”

“Balin, come out! I need your help!”

Marie jumped down from Nekou’s back to stand alongside Zorua, and joining the two of them was Bunny’s Ninetales, Balin, who appeared in a flash of light from his Poké Ball. Almost immediately upon materializing, he growled at the pack of Pawniard and their Bisharp leader, correctly picking up on the threat they posed.

The Bisharp cried out, thrusting her right arm forward. Accordingly following her orders, three Pawniard lunged forward at Bunny, Olivia and Nekou, all baring the knives on their arms.

“Zorua, get out of the way so Marie can use Low Sweep!”

“Balin, Flame Burst now!”

Nekou’s Zorua barely managed to get out of the way of two of the charging Pawniard before they could cut her, opening up space for Marie to come in and trip one by undercutting his legs. The second Pawniard, however, reached Nekou, forcing her to parry its blow with her switchblade and send him barreling off several feet away.

Finally, Balin suffered a small gash on his cheek when the Pawniard that attacked him slipped through, but he managed to strike back swiftly by spitting out an explosive fireball.

Just as the third Pawniard was driven back, a rumble of thunder passed through Route 29 and a light but steady rain began to fall.

“Sharrr!!” the Bisharp roared in anger, refusing to let her prey defeat her. Responding to her rage, seven more of the Pawniard lined up in preparation to attack Bunny, Nekou and Olivia, while the final two teamed up with their leader and set their sights on Matt.

“Zorua, Marie, get ready!” Nekou shouted, feeling her muscles tensing as the situation spun out of control.

Matt couldn’t focus on the attack that commenced against his companions, however, as the Bisharp rushed him as well. He hastily raised up his arms to protect himself, resulting in a loud crashing sound when Bisharp’s steel blades hit the metal of his prosthetic limbs. While the Dark-and-Steel-type Pokémon stepped back, puzzled that her attack failed to significantly injure him, Matt tried to fight back by grabbing her arms and shoving her away.

However, her two bodyguards were more than ready to take up the slack. One of her two Pawniard crossed his arms and charged up purple light to create a Psycho Cut, while the other used his own power to pull up a cluster of small rocks. They both used their attacks together, hitting the ground right in front of Matt; this resulted in him stumbling backward and falling down.

Hastily, he took a Poké Ball from his bag. This Poké Ball was a special type – it was colored in varying shades of blue in a wave pattern. Matt threw this Dive Ball with a flick of his wrist and called out to the Pokémon inside.

“Patrick, make your mark!”

A tall, bulky toad Pokémon materialized from Matt’s Dive Ball. His blue body had a number of black-and-cream-colored bumps on it, matching the colors adorning his front.

Flexing his body, which in turn caused the bumps to vibrate slightly, he gurgled, “Seismitoad…”

“I know this is sudden for your first battle with me, Patrick, but I need your help! Use Scald!”

Patrick moved his lazy red eyes to the two Pawniard and the Bisharp, and after glaring at them for a short while, he spit a stream of boiling water at them. Moving to protect their mistress, the two Pawniard attempted to deflect the Scald with cutting moves, but failed and were thrown back. One of them – the one who had used Psycho Cut – collided with one of the hooks protruding from Bisharp’s torso, visibly cutting his helmet.

Enraged even further by her minions’ failure, Bisharp snarled viciously and discharged a stream of electricity from the axe blade in her head; this Thunder Wave failed, however, when Patrick stood in the way to block it from hitting Matt, as his part-Ground type nullified electricity. She then aligned her arms and formed a vortex of dark energy between her claws, loosing a Dark Pulse that managed to hurt Patrick enough to force him to close his eyes and groan.

“Don’t take that!” Matt shouted while stumbling back to his feet. “Go for a knockout! Drain Punch!”

Patrick clenched the three fingers on his right hand to form a fist, which then took on a shining, crackling glow. He threw his hulking body in Bisharp’s direction, intending to hit her with a punch that would surely knock her out instantly, however, the struggle would not be resolved that easily. Shaking off their own injuries, the two Pawniard once again leapt to their leader’s defense, attempting to hold Patrick back with resistance formed from their respective Psycho Cut and Metal Claw.

Their attempt failed to stop Patrick’s Drain Punch, but they did succeed in redirecting it away from Bisharp by taking the hit themselves. Frames of light in the same greenish color as the glow of Drain Punch broke away from the two Pawniard and were absorbed by the Seismitoad, restoring some of his health.

From the frustration steadily building inside of him, Matt was forced to grit his teeth. The two Pawniard were most likely down for good, but they had successfully guarded Bisharp for as long as possible, and without taking her down, the other seven Pawniard would be nearly impossible to easily dispel.

“Oh no!” he suddenly thought, the realization that he’d forgotten completely about Olivia, Nekou and Bunny and their own fight crashing violently into his mind.

He turned in just enough time to see one of the seven Pawniard leap past Olivia’s Oshawott’s Water Gun and slash her on the cheek, while another one was knocked to the ground by Nekou’s Zorua’s Incinerate. The swarm of Pokémon had broken through the initial line of defense presented by Matt’s allies, and now were splitting them up with their relentless attacking.

With the shivering, injured Lillipup still in her arms, Olivia attempted to flee in Matt’s direction. Tears were running down her face, which was contorted into a look of nightmarish torment.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen… make it stop…” she was mumbling hysterically to herself. “Make it stop, make it stop!!”

Right after she passed by Matt, however, Olivia’s luck ran out. Bisharp – who had renewed her hand-to-hand struggle with Patrick – spotted the girl trying to escape. She first pushed her opponent away by striking him harshly with her hand – an Assurance attack that was made more potent by their previous combat – then directed a Thunder Wave in Olivia’s direction.

The electric pulse fired from Bisharp’s helmet did not hit Olivia, but it came close enough to her feet that it made her trip and fall. She rolled over and hastily stood back up, clutching Lillipup all the while, only to find herself being menacingly approached by Bisharp and the remaining Pawniard.

Olivia slowly backed up, while the others decided to do what they could to protect her.

“Patrick, attack the Pawniard with Scald!”

“Marie, herd them together using Low Sweep, then Zorua, you **** them up with Incinerate!”

“Balin, once they’re all together, take all those Pawniard out with Flame Burst!”

Marie was the first to act, swiftly running in a circle around the cluster of seven Pawniard to hit them in their legs, thus pushing them closer together. Once they were collected, Patrick washed a blast of hot water over them, which Oshawott complimented by using his Water Gun again. This was closely followed by Zorua exhaling a small stream of flames, and finally Balin choking up a huge fireball that exploded on impact, consuming all the Pawniard and leaving them to faint.

“Well, we got the foot soldiers,” Bunny said in relief. “Now for the commander.”

Either ignorant of or completely uncaring about the defeat of her followers, Bisharp was still slowly approaching Olivia, who had backed herself onto one of the taller cliffs on Route 29. With rain, tears and blood dripping down her face, she took a slow, deep breath, her head trembling and moving backward bit by bit, causing her to stare down her nose at Bisharp.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, you monster?!” she screamed, all her pent-up fear and frustration coming up at once.

Bisharp paused her advance and slowly raised her right arm. The iron blades protruding from that arm lengthened, then took on a bright metallic sheen as light from the air nearby flowed into it.

“Stop it!” Quickly recognizing that his plea was useless and that Bisharp would not cease preparing her Metal Claw, Matt turned to Patrick and ordered, “Take Bisharp out with Drain Punch before this gets worse!”

The lumbering toad pulled himself back up onto his feet, then pulled back his first and moved in toward his foe.

What happened next, however, caught everyone – Matt’s group, Bisharp and Patrick – unprepared.

With the power for her Metal Claw fully charged, Bisharp lifted her arm even higher and took one last step toward Olivia. Accordingly, Olivia stepped slightly backward to try and stay away from the terrifying Pokémon – and as soon as she did, her foot came down on a spot halfway over the rain-soaked cliff. Her footing vanished almost instantly, leaving her to helplessly struggle to hold herself up using only her legs as she teetered on the land’s edge.

For Matt, time seemed to slow to a halt. Patrick’s Drain Punch was no longer going to make any difference; whether or not Bisharp was knocked out almost did not matter. He started to rush to Olivia with his arm outstretched, and behind him, Nekou and Bunny also were moving forward in a panic, but it was all for naught. After what seemed like an endless ordeal that in actuality was less than thirty seconds, Olivia’s balance completely gave way and she slipped over the cliff, screaming at the top of her lungs as she disappeared from sight.

Matt, Nekou and Bunny all froze. For the latter, her thoughts were primarily on Olivia’s safety. Bunny had faith that Olivia would come out of this incident relatively fine; it was obvious that things were bad, but she hoped that it wouldn’t come out as a full-fledged disaster.

Nekou handled it significantly more poorly. Even though she had only known Olivia for a little over a week, Nekou was already developing both sisterly and maternal instincts toward the girl, and an aggressive creature causing Olivia direct harm deeply violated those bonds. She flew into a screaming rage, viciously rushing Bisharp with her switchblade; however, she was unable to inflict much damage due to Bisharp fighting back.

“You ****er!” she cursed the Dark-and-Steel-type Pokémon during her assault. “You’re ****ing answering to me for hurting her!”

Matt’s paralysis was entirely mental, caused by the deluge of crushing thoughts that hit him instantaneously upon Olivia falling.

“You failure!” the one even slightly clear voice screamed at him through the chaos in his head. “All you had to do was protect her and make her dream come true, and you couldn’t even manage that! Now you let another one die!!”

Extending his arms straight out in front of him, Matt finally broke his silence by snarling, “Destroy Bisharp with Drain Punch NOW!!” As he issued this order, Matt’s hands were trembling as if slowly gripping something until he spread his arms at the end of the sentence.

Bisharp barely had time to turn herself around before she realized Patrick was already within very close range. Now the tables were turned, and she was the one backing up.

Being caught off-guard by Patrick’s movements was what did in Bisharp in the end. With nowhere to escape to, she received a devastating blow right to her torso, delivered with such force that she was thrown off the cliff and far into the distance, disappearing into the thick trees beyond the well-traversed road. Sensing their leader’s distress, the horde of Pawniard immediately jumped up from their own injuries and pursued her, vanishing from sight as well.

Matt couldn’t care less about the wild Pokémon. Stumbling past Nekou, who was breathing deeply as a result of directly fighting Bisharp, he threw himself onto the ground and looked over the cliff.

Nothing beyond a canopy of trees was visible below.

“Olivia!” he screamed downward, the color running from his face as his heartbeat became shallow. “OLIVIA!!”

“If she’s hurt down there, she’s not going to be able to answer you,” Nekou flatly stated.

“Then if she can’t call up to me to let me know she’s okay…” Though Nekou and Bunny could not see his face as he rose back up to his full height and therefore could not see the empty look in his uncovered eye, they could tell by his body language that he was about to call for something irrational. “…I’ll go down there myself!”

The instant Matt made to jump over the cliff, however, a powerful grip on his right shoulder stopped him. He gasped, having not expected such an abrupt interruption, then turned around to see Nekou casting an icy pout in his direction.

“Don’t be an idiot,” she said, pulling her arm back. “Even with your body, if you jump over that cliff and hit branches on your way down, you’ll only end up hurting yourself. The road crosses that area further down, so we should follow it.”

“If that fall would bang me up, though, think of what it would do to Olivia!”

Matt shifted his panicked glare to Bunny, making her shift uncomfortably. She thought that both he and Nekou had made good points, but her own thoughts guided her in the direction of caution, so she answered the silent question by saying, “Take the road, but let’s hurry.”

Without another word, Matt pulled the brim of his hat down slightly to cover his eyes and started walking in the direction of the cleared path again. Patrick and Oshawott followed him, while Balin, Zorua and Marie all stayed with Bunny and Nekou, who walked with each other.

“Do you really think this is the best course of action, though?” Bunny questioned, a feeling of nervousness overtaking her.

“Yeah, I do. Olivia’s tough. A little fall might rough her up a bit, but she will get back up and move forward. I know she can do it.”

-:-

Unfortunately, Nekou was only half right.

At the bottom of the cliff, below the cover of the trees that had obscured Matt’s view from above, Olivia lay on the ground, broken in more ways than one. Lillipup, who had suffered no further injuries thanks to her intervention, worriedly sniffed at her face, but she was so detached from reality that she didn’t even notice.

“This is all you can do,” a voice in her head told her. “Do you still wonder why he abandoned you?”

“No, I understand now…” she answered, barely aware of the fact she was speaking to a disembodied voice in her head. “Day one and look at me already…”

In the fall, the curls of hair she had on the sides of her head had come undone, leaving it to drape down to her back at its full length as it draped her prone body. Olivia shuddered as she hopelessly tried to move, but with her left leg snapped completely around at an unnatural angle, there was no way she could possibly walk. A slow but steady stream of blood was trickling out of her broken leg, mixing with the rain flowing across the rocks.

Water was streaming down her face now, but she continued to not be bothered by it. “Dad,” she whispered as her vision began to become clouded, “I messed up. Don’t be mad at me…”

A slight, accepting smile appeared on Olivia’s face just as she closed her eyes and blacked out.

Mere seconds later, the sound of footsteps indicated the presence of someone else in the area. A golden-bodied, reptilian Pokémon with blade-like tusks protruding from her mouth stomped into the vicinity, followed by her trainer, an elderly man wearing round spectacles and a heavy brown coat.

The man did not notice Olivia lying unconscious on the ground at first, but when his Pokémon alerted him to her, he walked over on his cane and leaned down to examine her. Recognizing her injures, he motioned to his Pokémon to help carry her somewhere.

-:-

It took Matt, Nekou and Bunny well over an hour to work their way down the road to the area where Olivia had fallen. Part of it was due to the fact that the path actually looped back a significant distance to circumvent the cliff, but the weather had worsened significantly as well. By the time they finally reached the area at the bottom of the cliff, the rain had forced Bunny to recall Balin, while Zorua and Marie each rode on one of Nekou’s shoulders. Matt, meanwhile, had sent out a Pokémon whose light, child-like body was contained within a simple form of green jelly that granted her arms and ears. She was floating above her trainer and his allies, using her Magic Guard ability to shield them from the rain.

“Reuniclus, do you see Olivia anywhere?” When the Pokémon responded by shaking her head, Matt cupped his hands around his mouth and called out into the distance, “Olivia, where are you? I know you’re okay! You have to be!”

“Osha!” Oshawott cried, mimicking Matt’s actions as he walked along.

“This should be about where she fell,” Nekou pondered, “so where is she?”

“I can’t imagine that she simply got up and walked off,” added Bunny, “not after a fall like that.”

After that, the conversation between the three died out, and they went back to calling out in differing directions in the hope that Olivia would hear them while they walked. All they managed to garner for their efforts was an assortment of Pokémon, though, things like Pidgey, Sentret, Rattata and even the odd Shinx and Exeggcute. It seemed like most of the Pokémon the group passed were in hiding, likely from the Pawniard gang.

None of the three were aware of how much time had passed or how far they had walked. They simply were so focused on finding Olivia that they didn’t care to notice. They were beginning to become fearful of what might have happened to her when Bunny spotted something.

“Matt, Nekou, look over there!”

Following the direction in which Bunny was pointing, Matt and Nekou could see a house a short distance down the road.

“The lights are on, so someone must be home,” Nekou mumbled sarcastically. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Yeah,” Matt answered, “whoever’s in there might have seen Olivia. Let’s hurry! Reuniclus, return!”

With a quick movement, Matt pointed a Poké Ball up at Reuniclus, drawing her back inside using the sphere’s red laser. As soon as she disappeared, the rain was able to pour down on the group unchecked, so they ran for the house as fast as they could.

As soon as they were at the house, they went up to the front door and Matt rang the doorbell. There was a certain amount of disconnect in the design of the dwelling; for example, while the door was simply a plain, heavy piece of wood, the doorbell’s button was surrounded by an intricately-shaped, gold-plated frame. Another example was reflected in the windows, which had twisted, empty iron flower rows hanging off of actual windows that were quite modern and stately.

“I’m coming, just hold your horses there for a minute!” a voice shouted from behind the door. A shuffling sound could be heard, followed by some kind of banging on the door as whoever was there tried to unlock it.

Once the door finally opened, the occupant of the house came into view. It was the same elderly gentleman who had picked up Olivia earlier, though he had dispensed with his heavy brown coat. He had a very plain appearance, being simply dressed in a sky-blue dress shirt and black trousers; his main distinguishing characteristics were his glasses, his thick white beard that filled out his otherwise thin face, and his double helix-printed necktie.

“More guests?” he sighed. “What a bother, having one unexpected visitor is enough for a single night. What can I help you with?”

“We’re looking for a girl, sir,” Matt replied with a hint of desperation. “She got lost on Route 29 earlier and we haven’t been able to track her down.”

“Oh, do you mean Olivia? I picked her up after I found her. She’s right inside.”

“That’s such a relief… okay, you guys, come o…”

The Great Butler
19th July 2012, 11:17 AM
“Holy ****!” Matt’s sentence got cut off when Nekou, having suddenly realized something, shoved him out of the way to face the old man directly. “I know who you are! I can’t believe I get to meet you!”

“Who is he, then?” Matt growled, picking himself off the wet ground and squeezing the water out of his hat.

“He does look kind of familiar…” Bunny commented.

“Why, this is only the most famous scientist in the ****ing history of science itself!” Nekou excitedly explained. “Meet Doctor Dante Fantomos, the man whose work made modern science itself possible!”

“Wait, you’re Dante Fantomos?” Matt recognized the name once he heard it, and could only stare with wide eyes at Dante once he realized what it meant. “I didn’t even know you were still alive!”

“I’m flattered to have fooled you, then,” Dante remarked, playing off Matt’s accidentally insensitive comment with a bit of sarcasm. “Come in out of the rain. I’ll prepare some tea.”

Stepping away from the door, Dante ushered his guests inside. After peering outside and looking around in suspicion, he then closed it.

Back in the bushes, Jessie, James and Meowth all shared a sigh of relief that they hadn’t been caught. Wobbuffet, meanwhile, simply stood still and stared ahead while holding onto the satellite. All four of them were hiding under a tarp they had put up from their supplies to shield themselves from the rain.

“That was too close. I don’t want to fight that old man.”

“You’re telling me, Jessie,” an overly dramatic James complained. “What do we do now?”

“I’m gonna call Pierce,” Meowth announced, taking the R-Pad computer into his paws again. “We ain’t getting that rock from him if we just go for it.”

-:-

After ushering his guests into the foyer of his house so they could dry off, Dante guided them through a corridor toward his study.

Matt took a moment to think about just how strange a day it had been as he walked behind Dante but in front of Nekou, Bunny and the Pokémon. Everything had started with Professor Elm’s disappearance and the meeting with Professor Juniper, then they had run into Renzo and heard his ranting. After that, they moved into Route 29, were attacked by a group of bloodthirsty wild Pokémon, and finally were separated from Olivia. Yet, he still couldn’t believe that he was now about to sit down for tea with one of the most important scientists in history, a man who he had long believed to have died years earlier.

“Olivia!” Dante called out as he reached the doorway of the study. “I’ve got someone here to see you!”

The study was a large room, dimly lit using candles and a fireplace. A border of brown wood reached three feet up the walls, and where it cut off, cream-colored wallpaper patterned with curved white lines picked up. Four dark bookcases towered from floor to ceiling against the wall opposite the fireplace, and as the four stepped into the room, their feet pushed down into the plush, pale yellow carpet.

A long coffee table sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by three red couches. Olivia was sitting on the one facing the fireplace, reading a book with a dejected expression of boredom. Lillipup, his leg and body bandaged, sat next to her.

“Olivia!” Matt exclaimed, both pleased and horrified at what he saw. Olivia, changed into hospital scrubs, had her left leg propped up on the couch in a thick cast. He felt at once both happy that she was alive and guilty for letting her get injured.

“You’re lucky I found her out there, Matt Chiaki,” Dante said. He started walking to a tea cabinet in the corner of the room, his cane leaving small circles in the carpet with each step. “She might have bled out and died or developed an infection.”

“I owe you some thanks, then, Dr. Fantomos… wait, how do you know my name?”

Reaching the tea cabinet, Dante simply laughed and waved his hand at Matt. “In due time, my friend. Please, make yourselves at home. Everything will become clear.”

“How are you doing, Olivia?” Nekou sincerely asked the girl, flopping down on the couch next to her. Zorua and Marie popped out from beneath Nekou’s hair to see Olivia, and Oshawott jumped up onto his trainer’s lap as well, attempting to soothe her.

“Hey, you guys, Zorua, Marie... and Oshawott too…” Olivia’s voice was the voice of a broken human being. Her thoughts were haunting her – if this was how her first day as an official trainer would be, Olivia was unsure if she could face the future and whatever challenges lie ahead. It just all felt like far too much.

“Olivia, please...” In an attempt to further prove her sincerity, Bunny put her hand on Olivia’s shoulder. “Don’t give up yet. Things will only get better from here. This was just an accident.”

“If you say so…” Olivia sniffed.

Perhaps unconsciously, Matt was detaching himself from the others, instead opting to examine the pair of framed pictures adorning the mantle of Dante’s fireplace. The photograph on the left was a black-and-white image of a much younger Dante; he had no cane then, his hair was jet-black and slicked back, and his beard was significantly thinner and neater. At the time of the picture he was wearing a white lab coat and extremely thick glasses.

“Aye, pretty impressive, eh?” the elderly doctor said over his shoulder while preparing the tea. “That one you’re looking at now, that was the photo of me that ran in all the papers back when I first published my documentation of the structure of DNA, fifty-five years ago. One of the proudest moments of my life, I say.”

“I sure can understand that. Six years ago, I had the opportunity to finish the life work of my grandfather, the great archeologist Sutter Chiaki, by finding the lost Golden City of La Ciudad Dorada. I lost a lot pursuing that goal, but in the end, finding it made me feel good because it validated what my grandfather stood for.”

Once he finished speaking, Matt shifted his gaze to the second photo, the one on the right. It was monochrome like the first and appeared to be from around the same time period, but Dante was not alone in it. Alongside him was a woman who had her hair done up in a beehive style, and between them, a young girl with long black hair and a summer dress sat on a chair.

Matt was intrigued by the picture, and rubbed his chin while looking closely at it for a moment before turning around. “Dr. Fantomos, forgive me if I shouldn’t ask this, but what’s the other picture of?”

Dante, who by this time was just putting the completed tea serving on the table before Olivia, Nekou and Bunny, could only sigh. He sat down on the couch at the head of the table, picked up one of the teacups, and said, “That… that is the other proudest moment of my life thus far. In that photograph with me are my late wife, Clara, and our daughter, Amina.”

“Where does Amina live now?” inquired Bunny, who had actually begun getting drawn into the conversation herself.

“My heart,” Dante sadly replied. “Amina died of an illness when she was just fourteen years of age, despite my best efforts to cure her.”

Immediately realizing that he’d made Dante go down the path that led to talking about this, Matt gasped and said, “I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have…”

“Don’t you worry about it. I’ve taken steps to make sure her memory is preserved.” Indeed, by the way Dante was speaking, Matt could tell he was not terribly disturbed by discussing these things. “Now, Matt, why don’t you join us for some tea? Olivia was telling me earlier about some of the rare Pokémon you have seen, such as Heatran and Dialga.”

“Well, I can tell you about Heatran, anyway,” Matt spiritlessly spoke while putting himself down on the seat facing Dante’s. “I don’t remember much about meeting Dialga.”

Dante’s eyes widened when he heard Matt’s claim, which was something he couldn’t understand. “How do you not remember an occasion as momentous as meeting Dialga?”

“I’ll get to that. First, let me tell you about Heatran. She was at the center of what happened in La Ciudad Dorada. The count of the kingdom was planning to seize control by killing his parents and sister and earning the right to the throne by making the people feel gratitude toward him, so he obtained a Magma Stone somewhere and used it to force Heatran to create a drought. He then contacted me and my so-called ex-girlfriend Cassy to go there and complete my grandfather’s work to save the city. We fell for his trap... well, at least I did, because Cassy was actually in on it. We found the lost Golden City, but the count appeared and set Heatran on us while he took control of the Golden City’s power. Thankfully, though, we managed to defeat Heatran and I captured her, and she went a long way to finally stopping him. I still have her with me today, and she is one of my most trusted Pokémon. On the other hand, though, that was also when Eleanor died…”

“Eleanor?” Dante questioned, blinking from behind his glasses.

Matt sighed. Unlike Dante and the story of Clara and Amina, he didn’t feel so comfortable with recounting the fate of Eleanor. Against his better judgment, however, he closed his visible eye and told the story.

“Eleanor Laplace was a young woman I met in La Ciudad Dorada after being invited there by the villainous Count Fernando the Eighth. She was only on a vacation… so she was entirely innocent and never should have gotten caught up in what happened there. Needless to say, she ended up working with me, and during the final battle against Fernando she perished for my own cowardice.” Opening his eye, Matt glared at Dante, who had a rather dramatic backdrop for himself with the rain battering the window behind his chair. “Sure, we found the Golden City. But I was never the same person after I left La Ciudad Dorada. That was where my life started to change.”

Just talking about La Ciudad Dorada and the death of Eleanor Laplace brought memories flooding back to Matt. He could still see everything as if it had just happened, including Eleanor getting ahead of him while trying to encourage him to be more positive. Horribly, she walked into a palace tower that collapsed seconds later, right before Matt’s eyes. He watched her last moments and sudden end, an image that was ingrained in his consciousness along with the knowledge that her last thoughts were mainly centered on trying to help him.

This time, it was Dante’s turn to sigh. “You may be unable to accept this, but I can truly sympathize with the feeling of losing someone and feeling like you did nothing to help. I already told you about Amina’s terminal illness and my failure to find a cure and save her, but Clara died as the result of religious extremists deciding they didn’t like the idea of what my discovery could mean and bombing our home. They didn’t like the idea of the building blocks of life being known to the minds of mankind.”

Nekou, Bunny and Olivia had been drinking their tea and listening to the conversation as it went back and forth between Matt and Dante. All three were engrossed by it, even Nekou, who otherwise would have been talking about how much she was enjoying the tea Dante had prepared. Bunny, on the other hand, decided to say something.

“Is that why you’ve kept out of the public eye for so long? And if it is, why resurface now?”

“To your first question, yes. I decided to dedicate myself to studying everything I could and perfecting my theories on DNA. Unfortunately, my work attracted a bit of an odd crowd… is it true that, from what I understand, you had a run-in with a cult called Polaris in Whitegold City?”

“How do you…” The realization hit Nekou relatively fast, interrupting her original sentence. “Oh, that’s right, it was on the news. You and the rest of the world got to see me kick their asses.”

“Polaris is no laughing matter,” Dante warned. “They were attracted to me because of the potential applications of my work. I didn’t see eye-to-eye with them, though. They believe that DNA is the key to unlocking something profound in our world, and they’re really serious about that, so I would strongly advise you to not get involved with them.”

“You know,” Matt groaned, “I’ve seen so much ****ed up **** in my life already that they sound tame by comparison. I have no reason to concern myself with the dealings of a cult like that. All I’m after is the truth behind the fates of Eleanor and others.”

“I see. Well, let me answer your second question, Bunny… actually, wait, I’ll show you what I’ve been working on in a moment. I forgot to find out about what happened with you and Dialga, Matt.”

“I told you, I don’t remember much.” Punctuating his response with another sigh, Matt continued, “I don’t remember much because, from what others have reminded me, I used to have a split personality contained within me.”

Olivia was the only one of Matt’s audience that did not react in surprise to this news. Nekou, Bunny and Dante all gasped and looked at him in varying degrees of shock, but none of them spoke, allowing Matt to go on.

“People who knew what happened when my other personality appeared told me that his name was Janus, and he was violent, cruel and consumed by unchecked ambition. He was born of my attempts to rid myself of the pain caused by my sister and I being abused by our parents, and would appear in moments with enough stress to trigger it. The reason why I am telling you this is because for the majority of the time I was around Dialga, Janus was in control.”

“He kidnapped me from my mom and dad and took me aboard Team Galactic’s UFO,” Olivia added. “My dad beat him, but he accidentally spilled this nasty red stuff on me.”

“Once I snapped back into reality, I volunteered to stay behind on the exploding aircraft so Rich and Olivia could escape with my sister. That is why I have this body now.” To show what he meant, Matt rolled up his sleeves, then removed his light-blue silk gloves, revealing that his hands were visibly made of metal. He then made a blade emerge from his right wrist, proving that the rest of both arms was also artificial. “That’s not all. My left leg is cybernetic too, and I have some internalized modifications so my body doesn’t rip itself apart. All of this was made necessary by being trapped in the exploding UFO. During the extensive procedures I had to undergo, by my own request I had Janus removed from my subconscious. That’s why I don’t remember Dialga much – a lot of memories of things that happened while he was in control have disappeared for me.”

“I’d like to take you apart,” Nekou wryly commented at the exact moment Matt finished speaking. “Your insides sound fascinating.”

The mood in the room immediately changed – Dante visibly had to lower his head and fight off a chuckle, while Olivia fell back against Bunny’s shoulder in a laughing fit. Bunny herself, meanwhile, put her hand against her face.

Matt could only stare at Nekou in complete exasperation as she stared back with a troublesome smirk on her face. “I was trying to tell Dr. Fantomos a story, you know. Did you have to do that?”

“I was bored,” Nekou immediately snarked back without skipping a beat. “And if my brain was bored, his surely was too.”

“Now, now, I got the gist of it, don’t worry.” Rising slowly from his seat, Dante looked down at Bunny and Olivia. At his full height he actually was rather tall, so they had to look up at him. “Allow me to show you what I’ve been working on now.”

While his guests watched, Dante made his way to the other side of the room, where he picked up a cube-shaped case. He then carefully brought it back and set it on the table before opening it, revealing a small piece of rock covered in burn marks. Matt, Bunny and Nekou all looked at it with great curiosity.

“This is a fragment that fell from one of the meteors ahead of Persephone-2213 as it approaches Earth,” Dante explained. “It is made of what is called Meteonite, a recently-discovered element that still has much mystery surrounding it.”

“Meteonite,” Nekou repeated, lowering her eyelids until her eyes were half-closed and staring coldly at the rock.

“Yes. I was asked by the Angel Corporation to study this Meteonite and try to determine some of its properties, because we have reason to believe that its resonance has some kind of effect on Pokémon. Olivia told me about the pack of wild Pawniard and the Bisharp that attacked you earlier today, and I think that my research on the Meteonite may have triggered their violent rampage, so please accept my apology for that.”

“I’m not concerned about that anymore besides how it affects Olivia,” Matt responded. He then turned his view halfway toward the girl. “Olivia, how are you doing? You’re still looking forward to your first badge, right?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. I want to go to bed.”

Matt, Nekou and Bunny were all confused by Olivia’s demand, and looked at her before turning to Dante. Understanding their unspoken question, he said, “I already told Olivia that once her friends caught up to her, you could all stay here for the night. My home is your home, as they say. The spare rooms are just upstairs.”

“Come on, Olivia, I’ll go with you.”

Olivia nodded her acquiescence to Bunny’s idea, so the older of the two young women rose to her feet and scooped up her younger friend in her arms. Once Dante pointed in the direction of the staircase, they left the room with Oshawott and Lillipup following them.

“So…” As he spoke, Dante closed the case containing the Meteonite. “Matt, you are someone who is seeking truth, is that correct?”

“Right. What I’m after is the truth behind the deaths of Eleanor and a couple of other people that didn’t have to die. Everything has a deeper truth behind it, and I will discover it. For that reason, I’m looking for the Legendary Pokémon Reshiram, whose flames are said to burn to reveal the truth.”

“I see. As men of science, that pursuit of the truth makes us similar.”

“Don’t forget me, I’m a woman of science,” Nekou piped up, before slyly adding, “Just because my science is a lot madder doesn’t disqualify me.”

Dante chuckled, but did not speak again until he laid out a large map of the Johto Region on the table before Matt and Nekou. “If you’re pursuing the truth of Reshiram, you will be looking for a lost item known as the Light Stone. They say that the Light Stone only appears before an individual who has put in overwhelming effort into finding the truth, so you should go through the longest path through Johto.”

Putting his finger on the map at Cherrygrove City, right next to their current location, Dante traced the trail up north, slightly west, and south around a loop. He then elaborated, “Go from Cherrygrove City north to Violet City. From there, move into the loop that will take you south to Union Cave and Azalea Town, then north through Goldenrod City and eventually back to Violet City.”

“Thanks, I guess, Dr. Fantomos.”

Dante repaid Matt’s gratitude with a dark expression. “Let me warn you of one thing, though, Matt Chiaki. As men of science we both pursue truth, but what you must recognize is that truth is a beast that cannot be tamed. If you decide to pursue it, you must be fully prepared to find that the truth is far more terrible than you ever thought it could be.”

Nekou did not have much of a visible reaction to Dante’s warning, but Matt noticeably shrunk back and tensed up. He didn’t need any reminders of how difficult or risky his goal was, and even though Dante meant well, the comments he’d made only served to unnerve Matt even further.

-:-

Jessie, James and Meowth had quite a bit of space in their makeshift camp underneath the heavy tarp that shielded them from the rain. In fact, there was enough space for James and Meowth to prepare a pot of beef stew on a small hotplate while Jessie spoke to Pierce using the R-Pad.

“What are you saying, exactly?” Pierce could be heard questioning from wherever he was. “You can’t get the Meteonite?”

“Pierce, it’s currently in the possession of an old man who is keeping Matt Chiaki’s little group at his home tonight,” Jessie explained. “He’s also got this powerful-looking Haxorus that we can’t possibly defeat. Attacking him now would be foolish.”

“Hmm... I agree. Listen, continue to monitor the situation for now. I have some business to finish
wrapping up here in Cherrygrove City. Over and out.”

With Pierce gone, Jessie turned back to her teammates just in time for them to finish their cooking.

“Dinner’s done!” James exclaimed, taking three spoons from their supplies and passing them out.

“Let’s dig in!” Meowth added. “Before a big mission, a big meal does the trick!”

-:-

Much later that night, Matt was alone in the room he’d borrowed from Dante, sitting on the bed and reading by lamp light while wearing his light sleeping clothes. The novel in his hands was clearly aged, with some of its pages gnarled and yellowing at the edges. His silver flask, meanwhile, rested on the night table next to him, periodically being picked up to provide refreshment.

The pouring rain and occasional thunder put Matt on edge enough, so when his door creaked open, he jumped in a fit of nerves. However, he realized it was nothing to worry about when a slightly drunk Nekou stumbled in. She was quite a sight, wearing a faded yellow tank top that was one size too small for her and short shorts.

“What are you doing in here? Is that always how you dress at night?” Dropping that line of questioning when he saw the bottle in her hand, Matt instead asked, “You’re drinking at this time of night?”

“Shut up,” she countered, her voice slightly slurred. “The only thing on all twelve numbers of a clock is time to drink. I can’t sleep.”

“What I don’t get is, I’ve seen you put away a dozen cans of beer without effort, but you haven’t even finished one bottle tonight and you’re clearly wasted. What is that?”

“It’s not stuff I usually drink. I borrowed some vodka from the old man.”

“You stole Dr. Fantomos’s vodka, didn’t you.”

“I stole Dr. Fantomos’s vodka, yeah,” Nekou confessed, although she didn’t seem all that remorseful about it. “What are you doing up this late?”

“I’ve got a good mind to ask you the same thing, why you’re up so late getting drunk.”

“Have as much a mind as you want, but just don’t say it, because it’s wrong to ask a lady why she drinks.” Stepping closer to the bed, Nekou leaned over and scrunched up her face as she stared at the book Matt was reading. She could make out the drawing on the book’s cover, which depicted an old man in sailor garb standing in a small boat and brandishing a harpoon directed at a giant, white Wailord. “Interesting choice of a bedtime story. I hadn’t thought of you as the type.”

“Consider what it’s about, though. A man obsessed with getting vengeance against something that wronged him, requiring him to pursue a great white beast… especially since I learned about Reshiram’s existence, I feel like I can identify with that. Of course, that’s just the most superficial layer, but still.”

As she listened to Matt’s almost indifferent explanation of his interest in the book, Nekou’s inebriated cheer vanished and was replaced with a cold disgust that grew with each word he spoke. Once he was done, she immediately responded, “You’re looking at that story completely wrong if it’s the captain who you identify with. I thought you were going to say that you identified with Ishmael, who quite frankly suits you more, but the captain? Did you even read to the end? I don’t care if this is a spoiler to you or not, but the captain’s obsession with his revenge gets all but one person on his ship killed! If you see yourself in him, what does that say about how you see us?”

“Well, obviously I don’t want you or the others to die,” Matt was now speaking in an empty, almost haunting voice, “but quite honestly, it would not bother me at all to fall in such a way for myself. Captain Ahab dies having successfully speared the whale that antagonized him for so long, and even if he did not kill the creature, he succeeded in accomplishing as much as he was capable of. I have two simple goals – I want to see Olivia up on her feet with a shot in the world, and I want to know the truth behind who provoked the events of the past six years. Once I accomplish those things, I simply have no concern for what awaits me next.”

There was a beat of silence, but suddenly, Nekou delivered a backhanded slap across Matt’s face, tears of anger welling up in her eyes. He just looked blankly at her and held his face as his book fell onto the bed.

“Do you even care about how your attitude could affect others? You say you want Olivia up on her feet, but how do you think it would make her feel to lose someone else she cares about and relies upon? How do you think Bunny would take losing someone she clearly considers a friend? And me… I have no home to go back to. If you go away, I don’t know what would happen to me.”

“I don’t know if you can possibly understand all the things I’ve seen. Nobody deserves to have a harsh life like mine. I just feel tired… you can only rely on yourself for so long.”

“You don’t know the half of what I’ve seen, but anyway, nobody ever said that you had to rely only on yourself.” Nekou suddenly climbed onto the bed and crawled on all fours toward Matt, sticking her face just inches away from his. He did not react at all. “Listen. I became your bodyguard, right? You know that you can rely on me when you need it.”

“Thanks, I guess… I don’t really know what I’m going to do right now.”

-:-

The next morning, Matt, Bunny and Olivia gathered together with Dante in the foyer of his house. Dante, once again having donned his brown coat, had the case with the Meteonite shard sitting next to him.

“You lot are heading to Cherrygrove City, correct?” he asked.

“Right. The Battle Arcade is there,” Matt explained, “and that is where I am going to begin my search for the truth.”

“Please allow me to accompany you for a time, then,” requested the doctor. “I need to deliver the Meteonite to an acquaintance of mine, the scientist who’s called Mr. Pokémon, who lives on Route 30.”

“Feel free to come along with us, Dr. Fantomos,” Bunny agreed, making sure to glance to Matt and Olivia for confirmation first.

“Where’s Nekou? We can’t leave without her.”

There was truth to what Olivia said – Nekou was nowhere to be seen. Matt coughed, then said, “She must have gotten so drunk last night she passed out. Let me go get her.”

Matt turned away from the others and headed back up the staircase, then quickly walked toward the one spare room that still had its door pitched slightly open. When he entered, he found Nekou out cold, sprawled across her bed with the vodka bottle lying empty on the floor and a trail of drool dripping from her mouth, which was contorted into an expression of bizarre pleasure.

“Hey, wake up.” When he got no response, Matt repeated himself but spoke a little louder; however, this failed too. He started to reach down to shake her, but he then spotted her earbud-style headphones in her ears and the cord to her music player. “Figures,” he mumbled to himself, realizing she couldn’t hear him. Instead of shaking her, he decided to simply remove the headphones from her ears.

That was where he went totally wrong, for as soon as he lifted one of the earbuds out, the music started blasting through the whole house.

“It’s a cruel, cruel summer, leaving me here on my own… It’s a cruel, cruel summer, now you’re gone…”

“What the **** are you doing…?” Drowsily smacking her hand against her side, Nekou finally found the music player and shut it off.

“Waking you up, obviously. You were sleeping with it that loud?”

“None of your business.”

“Well, go get dressed. We’re going to Cherrygrove City and Dr. Fantomos is coming with us.”






END of CHAPTER 3

Matori
19th July 2012, 11:01 PM
Chapter three! I've been waiting for this chapter and you didn't disappoint at all with it. First thing- I'm really enjoying watching Olivia grow and learn on her journey. In three chapters you've managed to accomplish that very well, and I don't think many writers can pull off developing characters that much in three chapters, even as long as yours are.

That's why Olivia's attack by the the Bisharp and her army and her accident at the end of the battle absolutely shocked me- because poor Olivia had no idea what she was in for going on this journey. She expected an easy time of it but found herself in mortal danger instead. It's great you're reflecting just how dangerous the Pokemon world really is and how brutal and terrifying some of the Pokemon are.

The moments when she was reflecting upon how disappointed her dad would be were also an excellent psychological study, as was Matt's reaction to the incident. I appreciate your ability to create psychologically complex characters and show them struggling with their life issues. It's part of what makes them feel truly alive.

The Bisharp battle itself was extremely exciting. It honestly took me by surprise when I reached it and it was easily one of the most tense and action-packed battles I've seen, partly because it's so out of the ordinary. You don't normally see trainers forced to battle not for training or to win a battle, but for their very life, and I will never see the Bisharp line the same way again. Poor Lillipup, he didn't do anything wrong. :(

Nekou was awesome this chapter and I adore how you're developing her. I had to laugh when she got caught with the bottle of vodka and happily admitted to stealing Dante's booze- flawless and perfect-, the way she has no concept of social graces, knows, and has zero ****s to give, and her general attitude towards life in general. She's a little **** and she loves every minute of it. The looks at her serious side were touching and the complexity you give her is fantastic. It's good to see Matt with someone like her to have his back. She's also the best sis Olivia could ever have.

Also, the discussion about Moby-Dick was very thoughtful and that story is an amazing metaphor for Matt's life. Nekou dropping all those truthbombs on him was a very strong thing for her to do, and why I love her. She's not afraid to tell people to check their **** and get back on a good path. It might seem *****y but if she does that stuff you know she's looking out for you.

Matt's backstory with Janus is also chilling and I really feel for him and how part of his memory is now gone. He's gone through a lot of pain, and I feel bad for him.

Bunny also is developing into an interesting character and it's nice to have a straight woman role to offset how dysfunctional a group Matt, Olivia, and Nekou are. She really seems knowledgeable and I think you're doing her justice.

Dante- what's gonna go down with him? I can tell he's going to be an interesting figure in this story since he's such a mysterious doctor and apparently quite renowned. Waiting to see where you're going to take him because it's going to be an interesting ride, I bet. You made him seem somewhat warm and eccentric but I can't help but wonder if that's not all there is to him.


Dante repaid Matt’s gratitude with a dark expression. “Let me warn you of one thing, though, Matt Chiaki. As men of science we both pursue truth, but what you must recognize is that truth is a beast that cannot be tamed. If you decide to pursue it, you must be fully prepared to find that the truth is far more terrible than you ever thought it could be.”

This gave me chills. It's very true, and I think it shows your skill for character development through dialogue.

The Team Rocket scenes were done beautifully in this chapter. You really do a better job of getting the Trio's personalities perfect than even a longtime TR writer like myself could, and I'm impressed.



“Let’s dig in!” Meowth added. “Before a big mission, a big meal does the trick!”

This made me smile, as well as James doing the cooking.


Keep up the awesome work. I look forward to what's coming in Chapter 4.

SilentMemento
19th July 2012, 11:54 PM
Incoming review. Impact in three, two, one:

Hmm...I'd say that you captured the personalities of the trio almost perfectly. I still wonder why Meteonite is so important, but that's probably because I've rarely watched the anime.

I immediately noticed that Matt looked more than a little nervous about the storm and the thunder in particular. Potential phobia?

Olivia's proving to be a very smart trainer, and that's going to help her out in the long run; she won't be able to win with brute strength forever. For a girl as young as she is, she's already shown me that she's inherited the skills of both her father and mother.

Oh, hell. A Bisharp...with twelve Pawniard. Those are not things that I would want to mess with; I'm of the opinion that Bisharp can't be tamed by most trainers. Quite frankly, I'm shocked that the Lillipup is even alive. It also seems suspicious for a couple of reasons:

For one thing, why didn't the Bisharp and her pack finish off the Lillipup? Even one of the Pawniard would have made short work of an injured Lillipup, so I'm thinking that they held back and used it as bait for Matt's group. It still doesn't make much sense, though; why attack the larger, more powerful group of trainers when they could've killed the Lillipup (or any wild Pokemon in the area, for that matter) with ridiculous ease? Packs of predators don't work in that fashion; they specifically target the weak while avoiding the strong, and since the Bisharp went directly for Olivia, it shows that the pack mentality is there. And how in the hell did the Bisharp know Thunder Wave when it can only be learned via TM?

That brings one logical conclusion to my mind: these were not wild Pokemon that targeted Matt's group. Someone ordered them to attack, most likely a member of Polaris.

It's a good thing that the man and his Haxorus got to Olivia in time, but that scene showed me something else. As much as Olivia hates her father for supposedly leaving her, she still wants to make him proud by becoming a better trainer than he was. That's a lot of pressure to put on a child's shoulders. I feel a bit sorry for her.

Okay, Dante knows Matt's name? There could be an innocent connection, but that little tidbit makes me suspicious. That - along with the fact that he has a powerful Unova Pokemon, his backstory behind his research, the carefully-placed words about "taking steps to make sure her memory is preserved", the research on the Meteonite that he admits might have driven the Bisharp and Pawniard into a rampage, and the fact that knows a lot more about Polaris than he should screams, "Future plot twist!" And it's definitely not the kind of future plot twist that gives me a good feeling...of course, I could be horribly wrong on this theory, so...

Matt's backstory is rather interesting, and it's a good way to get people involved in this story when they may not know much about your other series (like myself).

Otherwise, there really isn't much to note. This was a fine chapter, and I'm truly excited to see what you have in store for your readers.

Sincerely,

Mem.

Bay
20th July 2012, 4:49 AM
All they managed to garner for their efforts was an assortment of Pokémon, though, things like Pidgey, Sentret, Rattata and even the odd Shinx and Exeggcute.
Hm, calling Pokemon “things” sounds very awkward to me. Perhaps “creatures” or just get rid of “thing” all together will sound better.

Another thing is I probably miss something and could be totally wrong, but the part with Nekou able to move her injured arm makes me think

perhaps she has healing powers, which makes me think Sayaka from Madoka, haha. Either way, something tells me that little incident is important and will be brought back.

Anyways, I like this chapter very much. Yay for more Team Rocket being featured. Looking forward to how you’ll develop them more. Thoughts over Olivia’s battle with Nekou is pretty much the same as Silent Memento, so I won’t add anything else to that, LOL.

Dang over the gang having to deal with Pawniard and the Bisharp leader, but glad Olivia is okay. Feel sorry for her having doubts about her journey and feeling pressured trying to be as good as her father, but I'm sure she'll be motivated to journey and battle again soon.

I enjoyed the group talking with Dr. Fantomos, especially the mention of seeking truth. Man, I remember Janus quite well and like Dawn I too feel bad for one part of Matt's memory being gone. The references to Moby Dick is great too, and I agree Ishmael fits him more (though it’s been so long since I read some of the novel, LOL). Shall be interesting how Dr. Fantomos will fit in the group, if only temporarily.

A couple other mentions. So far in this story I think you're doing Bunny just fine. Would be totally her to ask Dr. Fantomos about why he's hiding himself from the public. Hopefully he'll answer Bunny's second question soon (or did I miss that?). Also, LOL over Nekou stealing vodka. Nice.

So yeah, nothing else much to say but looking forward to the next chapter!

The Great Butler
21st July 2012, 11:23 AM
Chapter three! I've been waiting for this chapter and you didn't disappoint at all with it. First thing- I'm really enjoying watching Olivia grow and learn on her journey. In three chapters you've managed to accomplish that very well, and I don't think many writers can pull off developing characters that much in three chapters, even as long as yours are.

I want to agree; I would like to believe I showed her going through quite an array of things in rapid succession and depicted her well as she went through them.


That's why Olivia's attack by the the Bisharp and her army and her accident at the end of the battle absolutely shocked me- because poor Olivia had no idea what she was in for going on this journey. She expected an easy time of it but found herself in mortal danger instead. It's great you're reflecting just how dangerous the Pokemon world really is and how brutal and terrifying some of the Pokemon are.

That's exactly what I wanted to show - this world isn't as pretty as it seems. Stay tuned for that theme, it'll be back.


The moments when she was reflecting upon how disappointed her dad would be were also an excellent psychological study, as was Matt's reaction to the incident. I appreciate your ability to create psychologically complex characters and show them struggling with their life issues. It's part of what makes them feel truly alive.

Thank you! I certainly tried my best to pull this off.


The Bisharp battle itself was extremely exciting. It honestly took me by surprise when I reached it and it was easily one of the most tense and action-packed battles I've seen, partly because it's so out of the ordinary. You don't normally see trainers forced to battle not for training or to win a battle, but for their very life, and I will never see the Bisharp line the same way again. Poor Lillipup, he didn't do anything wrong. :(

If I got you to think differently of a Pokemon or line of Pokemon, then I really don't think I could ask for anything more.


Nekou was awesome this chapter and I adore how you're developing her. I had to laugh when she got caught with the bottle of vodka and happily admitted to stealing Dante's booze- flawless and perfect-, the way she has no concept of social graces, knows, and has zero ****s to give, and her general attitude towards life in general. She's a little **** and she loves every minute of it. The looks at her serious side were touching and the complexity you give her is fantastic. It's good to see Matt with someone like her to have his back. She's also the best sis Olivia could ever have.

I think you've got her down quite perfectly, actually.

I want to use Nekou to kind of deconstruct the typical Pokemon protagonist character, who is always unflinchingly polite, generous and eager to take on challenges. Nekou, on the other hand, is rude, profane and follows no rules but her own, yet she also does have her side that cares about others. I think you'll like her going forward, because she actually is quite complex.


Also, the discussion about Moby-Dick was very thoughtful and that story is an amazing metaphor for Matt's life. Nekou dropping all those truthbombs on him was a very strong thing for her to do, and why I love her. She's not afraid to tell people to check their **** and get back on a good path. It might seem *****y but if she does that stuff you know she's looking out for you.

Ah, I was worried that that scene might come off as pretentious, but I really thought I could get a good, intelligent scene out of using the book as a vehicle to explore and contrast Matt's actual character, the way he views himself, and the way Nekou views him.

And yes, that is Nekou in a nutshell.


Matt's backstory with Janus is also chilling and I really feel for him and how part of his memory is now gone. He's gone through a lot of pain, and I feel bad for him.

But are they all memories he actually wants to still have?


Bunny also is developing into an interesting character and it's nice to have a straight woman role to offset how dysfunctional a group Matt, Olivia, and Nekou are. She really seems knowledgeable and I think you're doing her justice.

Dante- what's gonna go down with him? I can tell he's going to be an interesting figure in this story since he's such a mysterious doctor and apparently quite renowned. Waiting to see where you're going to take him because it's going to be an interesting ride, I bet. You made him seem somewhat warm and eccentric but I can't help but wonder if that's not all there is to him.

I know some had criticized Bunny's lack of much of a significant role in some of my previous stories featuring her, so I've been making a conscious effort to develop her further. I rather like the group mechanic that's developing between the four of them.


This gave me chills. It's very true, and I think it shows your skill for character development through dialogue.

Those are very important words you should definitely remember.


The Team Rocket scenes were done beautifully in this chapter. You really do a better job of getting the Trio's personalities perfect than even a longtime TR writer like myself could, and I'm impressed.

This made me smile, as well as James doing the cooking.

I really am feeling more comfortable with writing them the more I do with them. I've figured out that the key to writing them the way they should be done is to give them somewhat silly personalities, but not have the situations they get into be as absurd as the situations got in the anime.


Keep up the awesome work. I look forward to what's coming in Chapter 4.

Thank you. I think you will enjoy what's in store.


Incoming review. Impact in three, two, one:

Hmm...I'd say that you captured the personalities of the trio almost perfectly. I still wonder why Meteonite is so important, but that's probably because I've rarely watched the anime.

We were never actually told much about it in canon. All that was said was that it was an energy source, it was shown to be able to give off massive energy blasts, and it was implied to have some kind of effect on Pokemon around it. I'm working with that but largely giving it my own spin.



I immediately noticed that Matt looked more than a little nervous about the storm and the thunder in particular. Potential phobia?

Good eye, that's correct.


Olivia's proving to be a very smart trainer, and that's going to help her out in the long run; she won't be able to win with brute strength forever. For a girl as young as she is, she's already shown me that she's inherited the skills of both her father and mother.


That's what I was hoping to show - she's got a lot of problems (as we saw regarding the starter debacle and her overall brattiness) but when she calms down and actually focuses, she's actually fairly capable. Of course, we'll have to wait until Violet City's Gym to really see how that stacks up.


Oh, hell. A Bisharp...with twelve Pawniard. Those are not things that I would want to mess with; I'm of the opinion that Bisharp can't be tamed by most trainers. Quite frankly, I'm shocked that the Lillipup is even alive. It also seems suspicious for a couple of reasons:

For one thing, why didn't the Bisharp and her pack finish off the Lillipup? Even one of the Pawniard would have made short work of an injured Lillipup, so I'm thinking that they held back and used it as bait for Matt's group. It still doesn't make much sense, though; why attack the larger, more powerful group of trainers when they could've killed the Lillipup (or any wild Pokemon in the area, for that matter) with ridiculous ease? Packs of predators don't work in that fashion; they specifically target the weak while avoiding the strong, and since the Bisharp went directly for Olivia, it shows that the pack mentality is there. And how in the hell did the Bisharp know Thunder Wave when it can only be learned via TM?

That brings one logical conclusion to my mind: these were not wild Pokemon that targeted Matt's group. Someone ordered them to attack, most likely a member of Polaris.

You could interpret the scene in one of a number of ways. The concept that the pack used the Lillipup for bait is one potential way to look at it. Another possibility, I'd say, is that they were attacking the Lillipup off-screen and Olivia and the others just happened to stumble into it. I'll leave the real answer up to each reader to decide, because one, it's not really all that terribly important (they were wild, not Polaris-sent) and two, I don't even really know what the 'true' answer is myself. XD; Another thing to keep in mind, though, is that as was mentioned later, the pack was rampaging abnormally due to Dante messing with the Meteonite shard in the area. More of this will be explained soon.

Bisharp and the Pawniard had the moves they did because otherwise, they'd all have the same moves. I did this for two reasons: to diversify the moves used so the scene itself would be more interesting, and to distinguish each of the pack from the others through their used moves.


It's a good thing that the man and his Haxorus got to Olivia in time, but that scene showed me something else. As much as Olivia hates her father for supposedly leaving her, she still wants to make him proud by becoming a better trainer than he was. That's a lot of pressure to put on a child's shoulders. I feel a bit sorry for her.

A very astute assessment. Olivia very much has complicated feelings regarding her father, who she simultaneously idolizes and despises. In terms of the pressure on her, some of it is coming from society identifying her as Rich and Anabel's daughter, but some of it is also her own harsh judgment upon herself and her situation.


Okay, Dante knows Matt's name? There could be an innocent connection, but that little tidbit makes me suspicious. That - along with the fact that he has a powerful Unova Pokemon, his backstory behind his research, the carefully-placed words about "taking steps to make sure her memory is preserved", the research on the Meteonite that he admits might have driven the Bisharp and Pawniard into a rampage, and the fact that knows a lot more about Polaris than he should screams, "Future plot twist!" And it's definitely not the kind of future plot twist that gives me a good feeling...of course, I could be horribly wrong on this theory, so...

Oh, I'm not saying anything right now. When it comes to him, just pay attention to what he says and does. What fun would it be if I tell you everything now, after all?



Matt's backstory is rather interesting, and it's a good way to get people involved in this story when they may not know much about your other series (like myself).


Good, it served its purpose then. Thankfully, this should be the last infodumping conversation between characters for at least a few chapters, and probably the biggest one for a very long while.



Otherwise, there really isn't much to note. This was a fine chapter, and I'm truly excited to see what you have in store for your readers.

Thank you!


Hm, calling Pokemon “things” sounds very awkward to me. Perhaps “creatures” or just get rid of “thing” all together will sound better.

Hmm, that makes sense. Good advice, thank you.



Another thing is I probably miss something and could be totally wrong, but the part with Nekou able to move her injured arm makes me think

perhaps she has healing powers, which makes me think Sayaka from Madoka, haha. Either way, something tells me that little incident is important and will be brought back.

At least one of the statements in this quote is exactly correct.



Anyways, I like this chapter very much. Yay for more Team Rocket being featured. Looking forward to how you’ll develop them more. Thoughts over Olivia’s battle with Nekou is pretty much the same as Silent Memento, so I won’t add anything else to that, LOL.

Jessie, James and Meowth are going to take a little bit of a backseat next chapter. Instead, it will be Pierce who gets to play an on-screen role.



Dang over the gang having to deal with Pawniard and the Bisharp leader, but glad Olivia is okay. Feel sorry for her having doubts about her journey and feeling pressured trying to be as good as her father, but I'm sure she'll be motivated to journey and battle again soon.


Accordingly, she won't need to be under too much pressure for a couple of chapters, because some focus on Matt's goal is next.



I enjoyed the group talking with Dr. Fantomos, especially the mention of seeking truth. Man, I remember Janus quite well and like Dawn I too feel bad for one part of Matt's memory being gone. The references to Moby Dick is great too, and I agree Ishmael fits him more (though it’s been so long since I read some of the novel, LOL). Shall be interesting how Dr. Fantomos will fit in the group, if only temporarily.


I'm glad you enjoyed all of that. I worked very hard on it.



A couple other mentions. So far in this story I think you're doing Bunny just fine. Would be totally her to ask Dr. Fantomos about why he's hiding himself from the public. Hopefully he'll answer Bunny's second question soon (or did I miss that?). Also, LOL over Nekou stealing vodka. Nice.

I'm glad you like how I'm writing Bunny now, too. He did answer her question, albeit indirectly: he's making a comeback because the Angel Corporation has hired him to study the Meteonite. Again, the Meteonite and some of what Dante's studying will be revealed in a few chapters from now.

Get used to Nekou, because she's here to stay. XD


So yeah, nothing else much to say but looking forward to the next chapter!

Thank you! I hope you won't be disappointed!

Morpher01
23rd July 2012, 3:43 AM
And now it is time for review.

So which one is the recurring wild Pokemon: Bisharp (and/or cronies) or Lillipup? I'm guessing Lillipup, considering that it's both in Olivia's care and has an injured leg (although Olivia does already have Minccino on her team...eh, that's more my opinion, though).

Speaking of Bisharp, I initially agreed with SilentMemento on the topic of why she and her Pawniard crones were there. And then I read this:


I'll leave the real answer up to each reader to decide, because one, it's not really all that terribly important (they were wild, not Polaris-sent) and two, I don't even really know what the 'true' answer is myself. XD

Ah, the sound of a theory being shot right out of the water. Gotta love it.

Olivia's battle with Nekou's Zorua was pretty well-done. Olivia may be somewhat of a brat, but she's definitely no slouch where battling is concerned. I would say more, but pretty much everything has been covered by everyone else. XD

Also, some quotations:


“Patrick, make your mark!”

A tall, bulky toad Pokémon materialized from Matt’s Dive Ball. His blue body had a number of black-and-cream-colored bumps on it, matching the colors adorning his front.

Flexing his body, which in turn caused the bumps to vibrate slightly, he gurgled, “Seismitoad…”

Ah, here's an old friend from Victory Star of Fate. I'm assuming Patrick's nickname and species are a reference of some kind?


Patrick moved his lazy red eyes to the two Pawniard and the Bisharp, and after glaring at them for a short while, he spit a stream of boiling water at them. Moving to protect their mistress, the two Pawniard attempted to deflect the Scald with cutting moves, but failed and were thrown back. One of them – the one who had used Psycho Cut – collided with one of the hooks protruding from Bisharp’s torso, visibly cutting his helmet.

There has to be a reason that a specific Pawniard was mentioned getting an identifying mark in that sort of manner. Our recurring wild Pokemon, perhaps?


With the shivering, injured Lillipup still in her arms, Olivia attempted to flee in Matt’s direction. Tears were running down her face, which was contorted into a look of nightmarish torment.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen… make it stop…” she was mumbling hysterically to herself. “Make it stop, make it stop!!”

You know, after reading this (along with the whole Bisharp attack scene), I realized how exceedingly lucky Derak has been in Proving Grounds. I'm going to need to fix that at some point...


“Aye, pretty impressive, eh?” the elderly doctor said over his shoulder while preparing the tea. “That one you’re looking at now, that was the photo of me that ran in all the papers back when I first published my documentation of the structure of DNA, fifty-five years ago. One of the proudest moments of my life, I say.”

The moment he said "DNA", I suspected some kind of connection to Polaris. It didn't quite turn out to be what I thought it would, but the story is just beginning...


“I’d like to take you apart,” Nekou wryly commented at the exact moment Matt finished speaking. “Your insides sound fascinating.”

And we can only wonder just how Nekou means that...which is one of the things that makes her so fun. XD


There was truth to what Olivia said – Nekou was nowhere to be seen. Matt coughed, then said, “She must have gotten so drunk last night she passed out. Let me go get her.”

Matt turned away from the others and headed back up the staircase, then quickly walked toward the one spare room that still had its door pitched slightly open. When he entered, he found Nekou out cold, sprawled across her bed with the vodka bottle lying empty on the floor and a trail of drool dripping from her mouth, which was contorted into an expression of bizarre pleasure.

“Hey, wake up.” When he got no response, Matt repeated himself but spoke a little louder; however, this failed too. He started to reach down to shake her, but he then spotted her earbud-style headphones in her ears and the cord to her music player. “Figures,” he mumbled to himself, realizing she couldn’t hear him. Instead of shaking her, he decided to simply remove the headphones from her ears.

That was where he went totally wrong, for as soon as he lifted one of the earbuds out, the music started blasting through the whole house.

“It’s a cruel, cruel summer, leaving me here on my own… It’s a cruel, cruel summer, now you’re gone…”

And that would be another one of said amusing Nekou qualities. XD

So, Matt's heading for the Battle Arcade next chapter, is he? Wonder what Dahlia has in store for him, and just what TR's next move will be. Can't wait to find out!

The Great Butler
26th July 2012, 11:07 AM
And now it is time for review.

So which one is the recurring wild Pokemon: Bisharp (and/or cronies) or Lillipup? I'm guessing Lillipup, considering that it's both in Olivia's care and has an injured leg (although Olivia does already have Minccino on her team...eh, that's more my opinion, though).

The correct answer is Both, actually, in a way. I probably should have more explicitly showed that Lillipup ended up being the Pokemon Olivia wanted to catch.


Speaking of Bisharp, I initially agreed with SilentMemento on the topic of why she and her Pawniard crones were there. And then I read this:



Ah, the sound of a theory being shot right out of the water. Gotta love it.

I know, right? Get used to hearing that sound.


Olivia's battle with Nekou's Zorua was pretty well-done. Olivia may be somewhat of a brat, but she's definitely no slouch where battling is concerned. I would say more, but pretty much everything has been covered by everyone else. XD

I was actually very pleased with how it turned out for simply a training battle.


Also, some quotations:



Ah, here's an old friend from Victory Star of Fate. I'm assuming Patrick's nickname and species are a reference of some kind?

Well, there's the obvious idea you'd get from a Water-type named Patrick, which actually works as well. What was in my mind when I named him, though, was the fact that I thought Seismitoad looks somewhat similar to the infamous image of Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho which serves as the base for the "Doubles Guy" meme.


There has to be a reason that a specific Pawniard was mentioned getting an identifying mark in that sort of manner. Our recurring wild Pokemon, perhaps?

Oh, there sure is a reason, that's for certain.


You know, after reading this (along with the whole Bisharp attack scene), I realized how exceedingly lucky Derak has been in Proving Grounds. I'm going to need to fix that at some point...

Hey, as long as Derak doesn't blame me for whatever you do to him, it's all good. XD;


The moment he said "DNA", I suspected some kind of connection to Polaris. It didn't quite turn out to be what I thought it would, but the story is just beginning...

Yeah, I would imagine that some pretty startling theories entered your head almost immediately before he explained further, right?

Speculate away. This will be one story where it's warranted.


And we can only wonder just how Nekou means that...which is one of the things that makes her so fun. XD

In ways you may not even want to imagine. /runs

I love her for the exact same reason you do. This chapter, I think, really captures her character so extremely well.


And that would be another one of said amusing Nekou qualities. XD

Which? Her quality tastes in music or the fact that it helps her sleep to blast 80s girl rock straight into her ears?


So, Matt's heading for the Battle Arcade next chapter, is he? Wonder what Dahlia has in store for him, and just what TR's next move will be. Can't wait to find out!

There will be ... quite a few surprises in Cherrygrove City, let's say that much. The chapters are Part 1 and Part 2 for a reason, also.

The Great Butler
24th August 2012, 11:25 AM
Apologies, but I ran into some problems writing the next chapter that have caused it to be delayed for this long. It has become longer than I thought it would be, but rest assured, I've almost got it done. I'm in the last stretch of it now.

The Great Butler
5th September 2012, 11:22 AM
FINALLY! I'm sorry for the long delay.

For the sake of caution, this chapter contains mentions of several crimes including murder and kidnapping, and a scene involving abduction victims that may be slightly disturbing to some.

-:-

CHAPTER 4: Reaching for the Arcade Star (Part 1)

-:-

Cherrygrove City was a busy city on a coastline, larger than New Bark Town but still smaller than many of the other metropolis-size cities on the continent. Few of its buildings reached comparable heights to the skyscrapers those cities had, but Cherrygrove’s buildings – both residential apartment complexes and commercial centers – were enough to pack plenty into the small area of land the city actually occupied.

The previous night, while Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Bunny were staying at the home of Dr. Dante Fantomos, rain was buffeting Cherrygrove City much like Route 29. As a result, few were outside, and Pierce was completely fine with that fact. His mission entailed meeting a contact covertly, so as he stepped into an alley between two buildings, he appreciated the additional cover the rain provided him on top of the darkness of night.

Pierce walked a short distance down the alley before stopping, and after a moment’s hesitation, he raised his hand and snapped his fingers four times.

“So… you’ve come,” a woman who was hiding in the alley’s darkness said, emerging nearly immediately upon Pierce’s giving the signal. She was wearing a heavy coat that appeared to have significantly discolored over time along with a tattered blue scarf wrapped around her head and shoulders, obscuring the upper half of her face in a shadow. Though he did not voice it, what troubled Pierce about this seemingly homeless woman was that she carried a small child wrapped in a blanket in her arms. “Why has your organization sought us out?”

Significantly unsettled by this woman for a reason he could not fully identify, Pierce struggled to maintain his rigid composure. “Polaris has made its move, which has left Team Rocket with no choice but to take all available action to counter them. We are aware that you Tenganists who are left are planning to oppose them as well, so I have come to offer you a negotiation. Team Rocket can offer your group supplies to battle Polaris in exchange for your assistance in destroying them.”

“And why should I trust you?” the woman scoffed, though with a strange hint of fear in her voice.

“If you’re not convinced of my sincerity,” Pierce flatly stated, extending his right hand, “then take my hand. Everything will become clear.”

The woman haltingly placed her own right hand in Pierce’s, and the two of them abruptly froze. This lasted for several seconds before she pulled away, gasping for air.

“I could feel it in your mind… you’re one of us, too… one of my people… but why? Why turn to Team Rocket?”

“The circumstances of our lives are not easily controlled. My Tenganist heritage is not something I was raised in, as you were. Now, about the offer we can provide you…”

“I cannot make that decision right now. I am merely a symbol for the horrors inflicted upon our people by Ghetsis Harmonia, a symbol to motivate what remains of our dying culture to survive by any means necessary. Our enemy is Ghetsis, not Polaris.”

“You must not be aware that Ghetsis Harmonia is, in fact, a high-ranking member of Polaris.”

That apparently was the case, for as soon as Pierce stated that fact, the woman stepped back and gasped. Her voice became shaky and uncertain. “If Ghetsis is a member of Polaris, than this could be my chance to… I could finally…” Looking up at Pierce, the woman said, “I can’t decide right now. What that man is responsible for doing to us… and to me… I need some time to know if I’m ready to face it.”

“I will return here tomorrow night,” Pierce declared, turning toward the street. “I request that you make your decision by then.”

-:-

By the next morning, the rain had cleared up, and bright sunlight peeked through the patchwork of clouds still in the sky.

Nekou, Bunny and Dante led the way as the group entered Cherrygrove City from Route 29. Matt trailed behind them in order to stay alongside Olivia, who had to walk on crutches with her broken left leg bent up off the ground. The leading trio halted a short distance into the city’s boundaries, causing Matt and Olivia to stop as well.

“What is it?” he asked them. “Why did you stop?”

“You have to know where you’re going before you can go there,” Bunny replied. “So where exactly are we going?”

“I do say, we should head for the Pokémon Center first,” Dante proposed, switching which hand he used to hold the briefcase containing the Meteonite fragment and his cane. “We don’t want to burn out already.”

“You’re right. Olivia looks pretty tired, too… I don’t want to force her to walk for too long.”

“Let’s just go to the Pokémon Center,” muttered the sullen Olivia as she fell into agreement with Matt, Bunny and Dante.

“It’s not far from here,” announced Nekou, prompting the group to begin walking again. After they had been moving for a bit, she suddenly piped up again, saying, “So, Olivia, I’d say that with four Pokémon, you should have a good shot at that first badge.”

“Minccino, Roselia, Oshawott and Lillipup now,” Bunny reiterated. “Remember, Violet City’s Gym is a Flying-type Gym, so aside from Roselia, you have a pretty decent assortment of Pokémon to take it on. Just don’t forget to keep your team in shape, and that badge should be yours, no problem.”

“I don’t really want to talk about it right now,” Olivia growled back at the two women, shifting her gaze downward as she carefully hobbled on her crutches. “The last thing on my mind is a Gym battle. I’m a disgrace.”

“Don’t ever call yourself anything like that!” Nekou forcefully said, looking back over her shoulder. “You didn’t do anything wrong. This world is a ***** and the only way to beat it is to be a bigger ***** right back at it. That’s what Maman taught me, and it’s helped keep me going.”

“I do think I owe you an apology, though, Olivia.” Unlike Nekou, Dante did not turn at all while he spoke. Instead, he simply kept walking. “It was my experiment on the Meteonite that caused the Bisharp and Pawniard to go wild. If not for my experiment, you would be perfectly fine right now. I’m sorry.”

“I guess I forgive you, then…”

“That was thoughtful of you, Dr. Fantomos. Thank you, I think it means a lot.”

Just as Matt finished his sentence, the five travelers stopped again. They were standing before a red-roofed building primarily constructed of blue-tinted glass, which had a Poké Ball shape above its entrance. Nestled within the more developed buildings of Cherrygrove City, this building and the trees visible beyond it presented an anachronistic appearance.

“Well, we’re here. The Pokémon Center,” Matt said out loud, not specifically addressing any of the others in particular. “Let’s go.”

No objection was raised, so the group moved forward once more. The double doors representing the entrance into the Pokémon Center slid aside when Nekou stepped before them, allowing her and the others inside.

The interior of the Pokémon Center presented a drastic contrast to the cold-feeling city outside its walls. Warmth radiated from the golden walls of the two-floored building, and the number of trainers in the facility with their Pokémon – ranging from those clustered around a large plasma-screen television to the left of the entrance, to those using a bank of public computers on the right, and still more traveling up and down between the two floors – truly made the Pokémon Center feel like a central terminal for the community.

As the first and most pressing order of business, Matt led Olivia to the desk at the center of the first floor, nestled between the two escalators going up to and down from the second floor; Nekou, Bunny and Dante followed shortly thereafter.

“Good morning!” the pink-haired nurse behind the desk cheerfully exclaimed in greeting. “Welcome to the Pokémon Center! What can I help you with?”

“We’ve all got some Pokémon that need healing,” Matt explained. He noticed that Olivia refused to speak to the nurse, though he reasoned that she might have just not been paying attention, so he stepped in.

“How many of you need healing? All five?”

“No, just four of us,” Bunny corrected. She glanced over to Dante; the old scientist hadn’t battled the Pawniard and Bisharp like they had, so she correctly reasoned that whatever Pokémon he had wouldn’t require healing.

“Then please place your Poké Balls in these trays one at a time,” the nurse explained, all while setting out a tray with six circles depressed into it on the brown surface of her desk. Olivia suddenly snapped back to attention and wobbled up first, carefully maintaining her balance as she placed her four Poké Balls in the tray. “Do you have a Pokédex, young lady?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah…here.” Carefully reaching into a pocket within her cape, Olivia produced her pink Pokédex and handed it to the nurse, who promptly scanned it with an electronic device.

“So you met up with Professor Juniper, Olivia? She’s a great person,” the nurse said, handing back the device before setting out a second empty tray. “You’re lucky to know her. Now, who’s next?”

“I am,” Matt answered, stepping forward carefully to allow Olivia space to move aside. Without hesitation, he placed six spheres of his own into their places. “Thank you for being so kind.”

“It’s my job, after all. May I see your Pokédex, sir?”

“I don’t have one.”

As soon as Matt said those words, the smile on the nurse’s face began to slowly fade. “Then in that case, the charge will be three hundred dollars.”

“Pokémon Centers in this region charge for service?” What Matt had just learned completely stunned him. He’d never heard of such a concept before; in his home region of Sinnoh, Pokémon Centers were entirely free, so the idea of having to pay for their services caught him completely off guard. Compounding his confusion further, though, he remembered that the nurse had clearly not asked Olivia for any sort of fee.

“Only trainers who have obtained a starter Pokémon and Pokédex receive free service at a region’s Pokémon Centers,” explained the nurse.

This made the whole idea make more sense in Matt’s mind, for in Sinnoh he had a Chimchar and often used a Pokédex loaned to him by his grandfather for fieldwork. Even though he was still rather surprised, he resigned himself to the situation and handed over his credit card to cover the fee.

“Transaction complete, thank you,” said the nurse, carefully returning the card to its owner.

Stepping aside to allow Bunny to move forward in line, Matt turned around and noticed an unusual number of people clustering around the television in the Pokémon Center’s lobby. He suddenly felt rather impatient due to his intrigue in the scene.

“Dr. Fantomos, look over there,” Matt commented, gesturing to indicate the area by the television. “What do you think is going on?”

“Obviously there’s something being broadcasted that has them all interested. Let’s go see what it is, shall we?”

Matt curtly nodded to the elderly scientist, indicating his agreement with the proposal. They walked side-by-side across the lobby to the viewing area with Olivia following closely behind. Once they reached the edge of the crowd, Matt tapped one of the trainers on the shoulder.

“Yeah, what?” When the young man, who was wearing a black leather jacket, turned around, his rather pronounced brown pompadour ended up right in Matt’s face, forcing Matt to back up a step.

“Just wanted to know, what’s going on here?”

“Oh, they’re saying that some speech is going to be given by a representative of something called Polaris,” he answered, turning back around. “I don’t really know what that means either.”

“Polaris… the group that tried to kill me in Whitegold City, and the ones Dr. Fantomos warned me about…” Matt thought to himself. “There must be a reason why that name keeps coming up…”

Something was clearly going on, and whatever it was, Matt found himself deeply troubled by it. While he pushed himself to think of some sort of connection between these events, though, Bunny and Nekou arrived, having dropped off their own Pokémon.

“So what the hell is going on here?” Nekou demanded in her typical fashion.

“Someone from Polaris is about to give a speech.”

Almost as soon as Matt answered her, though, the newscaster on the television attracted the attention of the entire crowd.

“We’re now going to go live to the speech to be delivered by a representative of the Polaris group.”

The image on the screen switched from the elderly, gray-haired newscaster at his desk to a simple, tight shot of the Polaris representative – that representative being Ghetsis, seen from the shoulders up with the oversized collar of his cape partially covering his mouth.

Though neither of them nor anyone else noticed, both Nekou and Dante scowled when they saw him.

“Good morning, people of the Tohjo Continent. My name is Ghetsis Harmonia, and I would like to speak to you today about a very important subject. More and more in this day and age, young trainers are suffering. The ideals we as older generations push upon our successors in this world are forcing our children to put themselves in dangerous, difficult positions. All Pokémon trainers are born equally, as are all Pokémon. It is this world, this system we have created that leads to inequality and suffering! It saddens me to the bottom of my heart to see young men and women suffer with no money on the road because they lost all of it in battles.” Ghetsis’s voice was actually losing its composure at this point, as if his sadness was sincere. “We must ask ourselves, what is the best way to help make this world a more equal and fair place? Polaris is pursuing that truth. We will find the way to bring about true equality and fairness in the world! Please, continue listening to what we have to say as we work for a better tomorrow! Thank you for your time.”

Upon his thundering conclusion, Ghetsis disappeared from the screen, and the crowd in Cherrygrove City’s Pokémon Center descended into a loud discussion of what his speech precisely meant. Many questioned the true meaning of the rambling speech, while plenty of others intensely discussed the merits of his point about the inequality of Pokémon trainers. It was as if the crowd had become possessed.

“What… was that?” Bunny wondered aloud, noticeably unsettled by the spectacle.

“I don’t know, but I don’t give a **** about what that disgusting freak has to say,” Nekou immediately hissed.

Though he was equally as disturbed by Ghetsis’s speech, Matt pondered questioning why Nekou was so overtly agitated by it. He decided against doing so, however, and instead offered, “Let’s just forget we saw that and get our Pokémon.”

Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Dante walked back toward the counter to retrieve their Pokémon. However, there was something else they weren’t aware of.

The homeless Tenganist woman, the one who had met with Pierce the night before, was hiding behind a pillar in the corner of the Pokémon Center. She had seen Ghetsis’s entire speech, and saw Matt’s group as well.

“It’s all starting to happen…” she mumbled to herself, nestling her child closely against her chest as her nerves frayed. “I didn’t want you to get involved…”

-:-

A short while later, Matt, Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Dante were sitting around a table in the Pokémon Center’s dining area, discussing the events of the previous twenty-four hours over their respective meals.

“I really cannot apologize profusely enough for the consequences of my experiment.” Dante kept tripping over himself verbally in his efforts to express just how remorseful he was. “It was never my intent for such chaos to break out.”

“I appreciate it and all, and I’m glad you fixed my leg, but…” Olivia looked away before finishing, “…just stop apologizing.”

The mood at the table became incredibly awkward as a result of Olivia’s dour attitude. Matt just stared into his breakfast sandwich of egg and cheese on an English muffin, while Bunny shifted uncomfortably in her seat while rapidly glancing between Olivia, Dante and Nekou.

Perhaps fittingly, it was Nekou who broke the silence, blurting out, “Hey, Olivia, remember that pizza I promised Matt would get us? We’re still getting that!”

“Wait, I never…”

“Thanks, then…”

Matt was interrupted and subdued by the forced smile Olivia showed him. He’d seen that smile before, and it was one of his primary weaknesses related to her. It wasn’t a sarcastic smile, nor a genuinely happy one; instead, she used it when she was forcing herself to find one shred of positivity in a situation, usually when it involved her father.

“Want a newspaper?”

While collapsing in on himself over how much Olivia’s false smile bothered him, Matt failed to notice the still-disguised Pierce approach the table until the undercover Team Rocket agent was holding a folded-up newspaper right in his face.

“Yeah, um… I guess so? Thanks.”

As Matt accepted the paper, Pierce sat down at the next table so that their backs would be facing and opened up one of his own. Once he had made sure that the others were occupying themselves with eating, Matt unfolded and opened the paper he’d received from Pierce.

Almost immediately, a black file folder fell out onto Matt’s lap.

“What is this?”

“Open it,” Pierce instructed, not moving his head or even setting down his newspaper.

When Matt put his newspaper on the table but hesitated to do anything more, Nekou wasted no time in chiming in, saying, “You might as well take a look inside it. What harm could it do?”

“Eh, I guess so.”

When Matt opened the file, he was greeted by several documents, the topmost of which bore a large picture of Ghetsis in its upper-right corner. The rest of the folder’s contents elaborated in detail upon what appeared to be criminal case files regarding him.

“What is this?” Matt questioned, glancing back at Pierce, who still hadn’t moved. “And who are you? What’s going on?”

“That man you saw earlier on television, Ghetsis Harmonia, is not who he appears to be,” Pierce explained, seemingly ignoring Matt’s questions. “He was once the number one criminal on the International Police’s most wanted list for an array of crimes in Unova including kidnapping, forced servitude, Pokémon abuse, child abuse, burglary, assault and murder, both attempted and successful, all as the leader of an outfit called Team Plasma.”

Nekou and the others were listening to Pierce’s furtive explanation, too, and she gritted her teeth as he went on.

“So yeah, this man is bad news. The reason why I said he was once the International Police’s most wanted fugitive is because a little over two years ago, he was entirely purged from their database, meaning no evidence of his crimes survives, nor does any warrant for his arrest. That’s part of why he was able to make a fresh restart here as a member of Polaris.”

“What’s the other part?”

“Someone in the government is shielding him, I fear. The internet and all other communication mediums have been carefully controlled to make finding out the truth about Team Plasma and Unova impossible in this country. I dread to think what could happen if Polaris has already infiltrated deeply into the highest ranks of the government here.”

With that, Pierce rose from his seat, his newspaper tucked under his arm. Before he could leave, however, Matt spoke up again.

“Why are you telling me this, and who are you exactly?”

“You may call me Sam. Consider me an information broker… what I just gave you is essentially free. If you ever need my services, look for me in the one place not constrained by any rules, the place where the government cannot clamp down on the truth.”

“What was that all about?” Bunny groaned as she watched Pierce walk away. “Why do these strange things keep happening?”

“Don’t pay it too much mind,” Nekou abruptly answered. “He didn’t do anything to hurt us.”

“I guess not,” Matt decided with a shrug. “Let’s finish up here, then.”

-:-

Ghetsis hobbled down a cold, gloomy corridor in Polaris’s base shortly after his speech. His gait was crooked and uneven, and the white cane he supported himself on crashed noisily on the metal floor with each step. The cane was itself a rather unusual item; it was topped by a hollow circle with a knob-shaped handle at its highest point. Within the circle, positioned at the nexus of two narrow rods forming a cross shape, was a shield colored half-black and half-white that bore a blue ‘P’ insignia overlaid on a backward ‘Z.’

Approaching an iron door, Ghetsis raised the cane up and slammed it into the ground, activating a secret mechanism that opened the portal. He went inside, and the door slid shut behind him.

A dark, gloomy chamber waited beyond the doorway. It was illuminated only by the light filtering up from flickering computer screens and the pale blue neon lights fixed in a glass enclosure within the room.

Anthea and Concordia, the two women who Ghetsis had presented to the Sacred Helix, were contained within the transparent cage. They were still dressed shabbily in torn rags, and had loose chains connected to their wrists and ankles. Neither woman noticed Ghetsis come into the room and begin approaching their prison, as they were both more interested in the books of mythology their jailer had given them; however, when Ghetsis slammed his cane into the ground again, they immediately turned their blank eyes toward him.

“I see you two wenches have put yourselves to some use,” he menaced, seemingly deliberately trying to taunt them. “Are those books of myth decoded yet?”

“Lord Ghetsis, sir…”

“Of course they are not finished yet!!” Ghetsis thundered, interrupting Concordia before she had a chance to do much more than open her mouth. Both she and Anthea flinched, but only slightly; by this point they were beyond knowing Ghetsis’s typical behavior. “In the amount of time you have had those books, only a genius could have deciphered their secrets already! Of course, we all know that that word is one of the last ones we’d use to describe you two!”

In a fit of rage, Ghetsis swung his cane out and smashed a blown-glass flowerpot sitting nearby on the floor, leaving soil and a cluster of flowers to spread out on the ground. This outburst prompted a stronger-but-still-muted reaction from the two women, who still had enough left of their broken instincts to raise their arms over their faces; this also served the secondary purpose of hiding the tears of terror developing in their eyes.

Once Ghetsis was done with his explosive anger, he calmed down and began breathing deeply, trying to catch his breath. “But, it’s okay. None of it matters, because in the end, you two are simply nothing more than used, broken waste with little to no use left for me! I have everything I needed from you two, but I will allow you to live to see the world I will shape from the cold flames Polaris will reduce this planet to. A perfect world, in the image of a perfect ruler… you Tenganists cannot die out completely before some of you bear witness to what the king of Harmonia will create. And do you want to know what the best part about this entire thing is? All that remains to be done simply requires that defective freak son of mine along with the woman you Tenganists consider a prophet. You two have a front-row seat to the greatest spectacle this world will ever see!”

Though their faces remained blank, when Anthea and Concordia turned to face each other, terrible realizations came over them. Everything Ghetsis had said in his deranged rant, despite sounding like it made no sense, actually was completely true.

A sound like a gust of wind suddenly rang out in the chamber, prompting Ghetsis to turn around.

“Very well, you’ve returned. Report now.”

Three identical young men stepped out from the shadows. Each one was wearing a wig of long, white hair along with sleeveless, figure-hugging gray mesh uniforms and mouth covers. Their hands were covered by heavy black gloves that matched their equally-heavy boots, and their baggy black pants were surrounded by dark skirts closed up in the fronts by gray crosses.

“Lord Ghetsis, we have analyzed and searched Route 44 and the Ice Path,” one of the three stated.

“Neither your son or the woman you told us to look for was present in either location.”

“Some of the Pokémon in the areas we searched appeared to have been befriended without capture, however. This would suggest your son was in fact there at some point, Lord Ghetsis.”

“I see,” Ghetsis said, pondering this new information as he leaned forward on his cane and tightened his grip on it. “Redouble your search and expand the area. We must find that inhuman boy and the Tenganist woman before the others do.”

“We will meet your demands, Lord Ghetsis.”

Another gust of wind indicated the swift disappearance of the three ninja-like young men. Ghetsis briefly turned back to Anthea and Concordia.

“You two saw and heard nothing just now. I’m sure you both want to keep getting the amount of food you do get.”

Disappearing back into the darkness, Ghetsis wobbled to the door and exited the chamber. Once it was silent again, Concordia crumpled down onto her back and twisted slightly in the bedding that stretched from one end of their cage to the other.

“Anthea…” Concordia whispered, staring up at the ceiling, “…please, pray with me...”

-:-

“Are we heading to the Battle Arcade now, Matt?”

Bunny’s question came as the group left the Pokémon Center to return to the streets of Cherrygrove City. She had become the one walking alongside Olivia, as Matt had taken the lead, leaving the two of them along with Dante and Nekou to carry the rear.

“I don’t think I want to go there yet,” Matt announced, pausing his walk so the others could hear him. Putting his hands on his hips, he turned slightly and explained, “The Frontier Society facility leaders, the Frontier Brains, change their Pokémon to match the skill level of each challenger. With the Pokémon I have, it’s likely I’ll be facing a trainer at Gym Leader level or higher, so I’d like to find a place to do some training first.”

“Then I can help you with that, youngster!”

Having been sitting on a bench right outside the Pokémon Center, a surprisingly energetic-looking old man in a green sweater approached Matt. He had plainly overheard Matt and Bunny talking, and appeared eager to add his own contribution, his narrow eyes and thin mouth curled into expressions of genuine excitement.

“Who’re you?” Nekou said, grimacing. “And don’t you know it’s rude to eavesdrop?”

“You should talk…” Matt sarcastically mumbled under his breath.

“Now, now, it’s no problem at all,” the old man hurriedly assured. “People around town call me the Guide Gent, because I give tours of Cherrygrove. What’s this I hear about you wanting to go to a place where you can train your Pokémon?”

“Exactly that. I’m going to challenge the Battle Arcade soon, and I want to practice before I go.”

“Well, then, you’re in luck, kid!” The Guide Gent did not notice how uncomfortable Matt looked every time ‘youngster’ and ‘kid’ were used to refer to him, but both Nekou and Olivia did, and they began whispering mischievously to each other in the background.

The Guide Gent continued, “There’s a place in this city called a Trainer House. A lot of towns have ‘em now. Pokémon trainers gather there and have battles with each other, which should be just what you’re looking for. Interested?”

“Well, Olivia, what do you think?” Matt asked, turning halfway around. He was intrigued by the concept, but wanted to confirm that Olivia was comfortable with such a thing first.

“It couldn’t hurt.” Nekou suddenly whispered something in her ear, prompting Olivia to smile more broadly than she had all day and add, “Right, youngster?”

“Oh, come on,” he sighed, exasperated and yet encouraged by Olivia’s slow return to form. After running his hand down his face, Matt looked back at the Guide Gent and said,” Show us the way, please.”

“Will do! Come, youngsters, follow me!”

-:-

Before the group knew it, they found themselves standing outside of a spacious three-story building in the heart of Cherrygrove City. Aside from the Poké Ball logo on the building’s doorway, it was a rather inconspicuous structure that blended in well with the small but busy city around it.

“Here we are, the Trainer House!” the Guide Gent declared, spreading his arms and speaking with great pride in his voice. “This is right where you’ll want to be if your goal is to train your Pokémon.”

“Thank you very much for taking us here,” Matt said graciously. The old man’s help had definitely shaved quite a bit of time off of their trip, which in turn allowed Matt more time to dedicate to practicing for the Battle Arcade.

“Think nothing of it. I hope what you get out of coming here is worth the price.”

“Wait, what?” Bunny stopped the Guide Gent from walking off by putting her hand on his shoulder. She was troubled by his ominous statement and, as she was unable to put it out of her mind, Bunny resolved to clear it up. “What exactly do you mean by ‘price?’”

“This city was not always so congested,” responded the Gent, his voice becoming poisoned by a hint of bitterness. “It used to be a small, peaceful city on the shore. But when the Battle Arcade was built, and the Trainer House along with it, things changed around here.”

“Let the gentleman go, Bunny,” a bored-sounding Dante instructed. “There is nothing more he can offer us.”

Dante’s advice prompted Bunny to realize that he was right, and accordingly, she released her grip on the Guide Gent, who promptly bowed slightly to them one last time before exiting the area. There was no more business to be had outside the Trainer House, so the group moved inside, passing through the automatic double doors of the facility.

Inside was a sight much like the Pokémon Center, but different in a way that Matt and the others had trouble putting their fingers on. The facility’s vast lobby took up the entirety of the first floor; its floor, patterned with black and silver tiles alternating in a checkerboard arrangement, was polished so well that it reflected everything on it, from people to Pokémon to fixtures such as the elegant elevators and marble reception desk.

Another similarity between the Trainer House and Pokémon Center was that a thick cluster of people were gathered around a large television not far from where Matt and the rest of the group entered. Aside from Dante, they were drawn to the scene by a natural desire to see just what was going on.

Matt, Nekou, Bunny and Olivia discovered a battle playing out on the television, depicting a Ludicolo facing off against an unfamiliar Pokémon. This creature had an insect-like appearance, taking on the general shape of a green mantis with leaves coming from his neck and waist.

“Another close call between Nando’s Leavanny and Dahlia’s Ludicolo!” blared the commentator of the match. “Leavanny has a distinct advantage, but the Arcade Star is powerful! She’s holding her own!”

“It’s Mister Nando!” Olivia exclaimed, finally cheering up as she recognized one of the figures on the television. He was someone she knew from five years ago, a man who indulged in both battles and the far showier Pokémon Contests. She didn’t know him to have the Pokémon he was now using, Leavanny, but it fit in with what she knew of his preferences, which tended toward Grass-types, Bug-types and Pokémon with musical ties.

“So he’s here too…” Matt mused, recognizing Nando as well. “This is the Battle Arcade, then?”

-:-

Indeed, the battlefield seen on the television was that of the Battle Arcade. A huge video screen loomed over the half-black, half-red arena floor, flanked on each side by a tall, cylindrical screen. Each of the side monitors displayed the three Pokémon designated for the battle by each trainer, while the center screen simply displayed a giant black square with several progressively smaller, outlined white squares condensing toward its middle.

Going downward from the top, Nando’s Leavanny was his second Pokémon, as was Dahlia’s Ludicolo. Their first Pokémon – Dragonite for Nando, Togekiss for Dahlia – were grayed out, indicating that they had fainted.

“What fabulous luck you’ve had so far!” Dahlia exclaimed, twisting around her space on the red side of the battlefield with fluid dance moves. The Arcade Star was a tall, thin woman whose skin showed a tan. Her clothing – a midriff-exposing yellow shirt and a pair of blue jeans – was so tight it left little to the imagination, and her messy, black, tendril-like hair wrapped around her as if it had a mind of its own as she danced. “But, I won’t let you leave here without a real test! Let’s see if you have enough luck to defeat me. Ludicolo, Energy Ball!”

“Very well,” Nando calmly responded, strumming the strings of the golden, Mew-shaped harp in his hand, “I shall show you what you seek. Leavanny, please use Signal Beam.”

Between the leafy antennae atop Leavanny’s head, a sphere of white light took shape briefly before transforming into a rainbow-colored beam aimed straight in Ludicolo’s direction. However, Ludicolo seemed to be much faster, and the glowing Energy Ball she launched had nearly connected before Leavanny intercepted it with his own attack.

The resulting explosion not only threw Leavanny back, it also created a gust of wind that visibly disturbed Nando’s long black hair and green cape. His cape would have blown off if he didn’t have it pinned in place with the red jewel and sky blue cravat he used, in fact.

“Those two attacks cancel each other out!” declared the announcer, to the delight of the audience gathered in the Battle Arcade. “It’s pretty clear that Leavanny is suffering under the effect of the Trick Room induced by our game board, while Ludicolo is benefitting from a boost in its speed. Can Nando overcome this to gain the upper hand against our Arcade Star?!”

The question made Nando adjust his wide-brimmed green hat and squint with his right eye, the one that was not covered by his hair, while he pondered the situation. It was true, he knew, that the speed-inverting effect of the Trick Room created at the start of the battle was forcing his Leavanny to move more slowly than Dahlia’s Ludicolo. This made dodging and attacking far more difficult than it usually was.

“Ludicolo, Hyper Voice!”

Dahlia’s command made Nando realize what he had to do right away. “Leavanny, please, bear with me and take the attack!”

Leavanny braced himself as Ludicolo began screaming, her voice taking visible form in sound waves that washed over Nando’s Pokémon. As much as he wanted to crumple before the deafening noise, Leavanny knew he had to hold fast and put as much effort as he could into doing so. Once Ludicolo’s Hyper Voice subsided slightly, Nando jumped on the opening.

“Now, Leavanny, I call for Air Slash!”

Jumping up into the air, Leavanny pulled his arms back. Blades of air formed around them, and with Ludicolo in his sights, he sent the blades plummeting down by swinging his limbs. Dahlia and Ludicolo were caught off guard by this sudden move and thus had little time to prepare, resulting in large pieces of Ludicolo’s grass poncho being cut off as she slipped to her knees.

“Dahlia’s Ludicolo is down, but is it out?!”

“Oh, not yet, honey! Try my last-ditch longshot move! Drain Punch!”

Nando simply shut his eyes and gently smiled as Ludicolo rushed Leavanny with her right arm drawn back. He knew a close-quarters move like this had to be coming, and it had finally arrived. As soon as he heard Ludicolo’s fist connect, he instructed, “Leavanny, grab Ludicolo.”

Much to Dahlia’s surprise, Leavanny effectively followed this direction, pinning Ludicolo in his grip. With her Grass-and-Water-type Pokémon frantically trying to escape its enemy, Dahlia exclaimed, “What?”

“And now it is time for my finishing move~” Nando sang while again strumming his harp. “Signal Beam!”

Another Signal Beam formed between Leavanny’s antennae and hammered Ludicolo into the ground at point-blank range with relentless force. A number of the audience members gasped at this turn of events, especially when the smoke cleared to reveal that Dahlia’s Ludicolo truly was defeated.

“Ludicolo is unable to battle!” the referee declared as Ludicolo’s icon was grayed out on Dahlia’s side of the field. “The winner is Leavanny!”

“Another one of Dahlia’s Pokémon is down! The challenger now has a numbers advantage, with two of his Pokémon remaining against only her last one… but it’s also Arcade Star Dahlia’s most mighty fighter! Who is going to win this battle?”

“Well done, Ludicolo, I hope you had a good time,” Dahlia said as she drew Ludicolo back into her Net Ball, a blue Poké Ball with black lines drawn on it to simulate a net pattern. The next ball she drew out, however, was a Master Ball; two bulbous red circles framed the letter ‘M’ in white against its dark blue top. “You’ve shown me excellent luck so far, Nando. I think it might even be more than that. Even with this Trick Room condition, you’ve managed to hold your own well against the Pokémon of a Frontier Brain… but I’m not the Arcade Star for no reason, you know! Prepare for my ultimate Pokémon! Now… dance, Zapdos!!”

The flash of light from Dahlia’s Master Ball took on the shape of a large, avian Pokémon, one with a long, pointed beak and jagged-edged wings. When its yellow-and-black coloring filled in, there could be no more doubt in any viewer’s mind that it was indeed the Legendary Pokémon, Zapdos.

“Yes, it’s Dahlia’s Zapdos! Now, let’s see how Nando deals with fighting a legend! And remember, Trick Room is still in effect, so that could also affect the outcome!”

“Legendary Pokémon are indeed creatures with incredible levels of power,” Nando said out loud, though the calmness in his voice now sounded rather forced. What truly betrayed his feelings, though, was the subtle shaking of his fingers as they wrapped around the base of his harp. “But… they can be beaten, and I think I may have an advantage in that regard…”

“Do you now?!” exclaimed Dahlia, the Frontier Brain’s energy boiling over. “Zapdos, don’t hold back! Show him what you’ve got! Heat Wave!”

“Leavanny, escape and use Air Slash!”

Zapdos pulled its wings back, but before it could complete its attack, Leavanny shot behind it in a burst of Trick Room-fueled speed. As a result, the gust of fire that Zapdos produced was left to flow aimlessly away, and the Legendary Electric-and-Flying-type took an Air Slash to the back that it easily shrugged off.

“Ah, that’s right, normally Zapdos would be faster,” Dahlia realized. “I must give you credit for using Trick Room to your advantage now after being hurt by it earlier. That’s not just luck, it’s taking control and making it your own. Unfortunately for you, your luck has run out! Zapdos, get behind Leavanny and use Drill Peck!”

“What?”

Nando was left briefly stunned when, instead of the frontal counterattack he was expected, Zapdos twirled through the air to get behind Leavanny. Even Zapdos’s movements, which were as agile and fluid as its trainer’s, exuded power.

“It makes sense, a dancer training their Pokémon to reflect their personal style.” Nando’s voice was calm once again, but this time, it was because he was seemingly resigning himself to his fate. “Repel it with Leaf Storm, please.”

From his own body language – particularly the steely, tense expression he wore on his face – it was clear that Leavanny also knew his fate was sealed. He knew he couldn’t run forever, even with Trick Room boosting his speed and agility, as that would never win the fight. For that he’d need to land effective strikes on his foe, and none of his moves would prove effective enough to stop Zapdos.

Nevertheless, Leavanny turned around to courageously face his fate, which took the form of Zapdos diving toward him beak-first while spinning rapidly like a drill. The torrent of sharp leaves he called forth did little to injure or otherwise halt Zapdos, and when its Drill Peck made contact, Leavanny was hurled dozens of feet back across the stage, past Nando and into the wall at the back of the Battle Arcade.

“Leavanny is unable to battle! The winner is Zapdos!”

“And Nando’s Leavanny falls to Dahlia’s mighty Zapdos! It’s a stunning show of strength from our Arcade Star, and we now have a sudden death situation on our hands! One Pokémon left on each side... who will win?!!”

“Please take a rest, Leavanny, you have more than earned it.” After returning his utterly defeated Leavanny to the safety of its Poké Ball, Nando turned back to face Dahlia and took out another sphere from his brown messenger bag. “Arcade Star Dahlia, I thank you for a most exhilarating match so far. When I entered the Battle Arcade today, I desired precisely this kind of battle, and I don’t want to let it end yet. Exploud, make your entry!”

Unlike Leavanny, who cut an elegant and refined figure, Nando’s final Pokémon was much more homely in appearance. The most distinguishing features on her blue body were her large mouth and the yellow-tipped tubes protruding from her head and tails.

“For his final Pokémon, Nando calls upon a master of sound, Exploud! Could he be hoping to tap into the wide array of moves Exploud can offer?”

“I don’t think I want to take chances with this one,” Dahlia mumbled, acknowledging her gut feeling telling her that Exploud was dangerous. “Zapdos, Heat Wave!”

Quickly running his fingers over his harp’s strings, Nando called out, “Get beneath it and use ThunderPunch!”

Normally, Exploud would be an even slower Pokémon than any of the others, but with Trick Room in effect she was able to slide underneath Zapdos with great speed. While Zapdos’s Heat Wave went off with no effect, Exploud’s right fist became wrapped in a shroud of electricity shortly before she leapt up to try and hit the Legendary Pokémon.

“Don’t let it!” Dahlia hastily warned. “Drill Peck!”

Even with the effect of Trick Room slowing it down, Zapdos was able to contort itself in the air to face downward, meeting Exploud’s ThunderPunch with a Drill Peck. The electricity of Exploud’s move combined with Zapdos’s spinning motion to send sparks and bolts of lightning all over the arena for a time; not long after the two combatants were separated by the force of their respective attacks.

“An impressive showing from both trainers creates a gorgeous combination of moves! Most exciting!”

“A combination of moves...” Nando thought to himself. “That’s it! Maybe my Pokémon Contest techniques will help!” Thrusting his arm out, he called, “Exploud, please, use Fire Blast!”

“Such a thing won’t put me down! Zapdos, show no fear! Drill Peck!”

Dahlia’s words were not lost on her Zapdos, as it courageously dove right into the thick fireball that Exploud burst from her mouth. When the rapidly spinning avian Pokémon made contact with the burning blast, the fire exploded into a twisting spiral; however, by that time, Exploud had already appeared behind Zapdos.

“Now, use Hyper Voice!” Nando commanded, pointing forwardly across the field.

“I see what you’re up to. Thunderbolt!”

Like Dahlia’s Ludicolo before her, Nando’s Exploud took a deep breath and let out an explosive roar that manifested as visible sound waves. However, Zapdos stopped short while still enveloped in the remnants of Fire Blast and discharged electricity from all over its body. The electricity fused with not only the fire but the sound waves of Hyper Voice as well, creating shining rings of sparkling red energy that ultimately caused a gigantic explosion.

The bright light and gusting wind that radiated from the point of the explosion forced both Nando and Dahlia to cover their eyes. It took a full minute before the blast died down, revealing both Exploud and Zapdos, injured and breathing heavily.

“You were trying to force this to look like a Contest battle, weren’t you?” Dahlia correctly guessed, standing confidently with her hand on her hip. “I’ve participated in plenty of Pokémon Contests myself, so if you want to go there, I’ll gladly do it.”

Nando took a step back, clutching his harp with nervousness that also reflected in his eyes. “Both Pokémon are getting exhausted,” he thought, apprising both Exploud and Zapdos standing still on the battlefield. “I have to break through and start landing hits directly upon Zapdos, or we cannot win this…”

“It’s time to wrap this up, Zapdos!” Dahlia shouted, as if she was reading Nando’s thoughts. She threw her hand upward into the air and yelled, “Launch Ominous Wind into the air, then Drill Peck through it!!”

Turning completely away from Exploud, Zapdos swung its wings upward, blowing a gust of purple-hued wind into the open air. Then, in front of the stunned eyes of Nando and the crowds both in the Battle Arcade and watching on television, Zapdos initiated Drill Peck, spinning right through the Ominous Wind before aiming for Exploud.

Staring at the purple spiral careening straight for his Pokémon, Nando came to a nervous realization. “We lose if we cannot keep up. Exploud, use ThunderPunch from below!”

Like earlier, Exploud attempted to slide beneath Zapdos and hit it with ThunderPunch, but this time, the aura surrounding the powered-up Electric-and-Flying-type clipped and stunned her.

“Go for the win now!” Dahlia exclaimed as Zapdos glided back to her side of the field. “Thunderbolt!”

“Exploud, don’t give up yet! Fire Blast!”

Exploud’s fireball and Zapdos’s lightning bolt cut past each other in midair, just barely avoiding a collision. As a result, both Pokémon suffered direct hits and were sent falling to the ground, where, burned and battered, they stared each other down with what strength they had left.

“I’m truly impressed. It’s been a while since Zapdos has had a fight this worthwhile... but it’s about time this came to an end! Use Heat Wave and then Drill Peck!”

As Zapdos mimicked its earlier combination move, substituting Heat Wave for Ominous Wind, Nando realized just how serious his situation was. “We’re going to have to go for the long shot, Exploud. Combine Ice Punch and ThunderPunch, I ask you!”

On Nando’s order, Exploud’s right fist began emanating ice while her left fist became electrified. She hit them together, combining the powers of ice and electricity into both fists, then swung them both forward to intercept Zapdos’s fiery drilling attack.

The two managed to hold even ground against each other. Neither could knock out or even force the other back. Embers from Zapdos’s body flaked over Exploud, singeing her skin, while the ice and electricity of Exploud’s punches began to nullify the force of Zapdos’s charge.

The Great Butler
5th September 2012, 11:23 AM
For a brief moment, Exploud and Zapdos could see into each others’ eyes within the maelstrom of their attacks. A glare of respect was exchanged between them – then they each gave their last ounce of strength into a final push forward.

From the explosion that resulted from the powerful clash, Zapdos dropped forward past Exploud, crashing into the ground – and it did not get up. A split second later, Exploud fell down, but her opponent was already defeated.

“Zapdos is unable to battle! The winner is Exploud, and the victory in this Battle Arcade match goes to the challenger, Nando!”

A thunderous cheer went up among the assembled crowd at the Battle Arcade as the announcer, channeling the excitement into his voice, declared, “And there’s an outcome we rarely see! I know I never expected it today… Dahlia’s Zapdos has been beaten! Nando’s Exploud has managed to defeat it!!”

“Hm… so that’s how my luck runs out…” A broad smile came over Dahlia’s face as she recalled Zapdos to its Master Ball. “You did great, Zapdos! The luckiest thing of all is when you get to battle all out, and I couldn’t have had such a treat without your help!”

With that, Dahlia began walking over to Nando, who was kneeling next to his badly wounded Exploud and petting her head.

“And I must congratulate you too, Nando!” she said happily. “A fierce battle is truly a joyous occasion, and you have the honor of being the winner! You too, Exploud, you were truly impressive!”

“I sincerely thank you, Arcade Star Dahlia,” Nando responded, rising back to his full height. “My Pokémon thank you as well, for this most excellent battle.”

-:-

Having seen the conclusion of Nando and Dahlia’s battle, much of the crowd surrounding the television in the lobby of the Trainer House began to dissipate. Matt, however, remained firmly rooted where he stood, and as a result, the others in his group didn’t leave either.

“Mister Nando’s just as amazing as always, don’t you think?” Olivia cheerfully said to him, seemingly forgetting about her crutches for a brief moment.

However, Matt was all but oblivious to what she was saying, as his attention was fixated on what had just unfolded at the Battle Arcade. “So that’s what I’m up against?” he mumbled to himself. “I’m not sure I stand a chance…”

“I told you, the road to the truth is not an easy one.” Seemingly having overheard Matt’s musings, Dante stood alongside him, pushing up his glasses before speaking further. “But if you cannot stand up to Zapdos, how do you hope to ever have a chance of finding Reshiram, whose power greatly eclipses it?”

“You’ve got a point. I’ll need to prepare if I’m going to have any chance of winning, though.”

“That means you’ll be training here, then?” Bunny chimed in, having made her way into the conversation. “The registration counter’s right over there,” she then added, gesturing to her right.

“Let’s do it, then.”

With a sudden spring in his step, Matt strode across the lobby, arriving at the registration desk well before the others, with Olivia and Dante bringing up the rear. A brunette woman dressed in a plain white blouse and green pencil skirt was operating the counter, and she smiled at the group when they arrived before her.

“Welcome to the Cherrygrove City Trainer House.” Though her voice was pleasant enough, she was hoarse and spoke robotically, as if she’d said the same thing repeatedly and worn herself out on it. “We offer facilities for Pokémon trainers to develop and hone their battling skills in controlled environments. Would you like to rent one of our training rooms?”

Disregarding what he thought was the woman’s obvious boredom with her job, Matt replied, “Yes, that’s exactly what I’d like, please.”

After signing his name to the guest ledger that the receptionist thrust in his direction, Matt was handed a ticket that she printed out from the computer on her desk. It read “S1-R12.”

“Your battle room is number twelve on sublevel one. Please take the elevator to your left. Thank you for using our services, Mr. Chiaki.”

Almost immediately upon his turning around, Nekou grabbed Matt’s arm and began dragging him toward the elevator. “No time to lose! Wasted time can’t be regained!”

Wrenching his arm free of her grip, Matt growled, “What’s gotten into you? This time, I mean.”

“If you don’t train, you won’t beat Dahlia. And if you lose, what good are you to me?”

“What does that mean?”

“It means… um… ****. Did you forget about that pizza you promised me and Olivia? If you lose, you can’t keep your promises!”

“I didn’t promise that…” Matt sighed in exasperation before turning to Bunny, Olivia and Dante. “I need a training partner, though.”

“I’ll train with you,” Dante offered as the group resumed their trip to the elevator. “I think battling you would be a rather intriguing affair.”

“You’ve got Pokémon of your own?” Bunny questioned, plainly surprised by Dante’s words. “I hadn’t quite expected you to be a trainer yourself.”

“Well, not professionally like the younger generation, at least.” A wistful look filled Dante’s eyes as he spoke. “Things aren’t like how they were when I was younger.”

“Then why are you offering to train with me exactly?”

“I like you and your little team, Matt,” Dante confessed. “You four remind me of how things used to be, when people quested for big things. Well, that and the fact that I can just feel how badly my Alakazam and Ditto want to battle again, but do forgive this old man for making you listen to his ramblings.”

“It’s no big deal, in fact, what you had to say was actually kind of interesting.” Matt caught Nekou grimacing in the corner of his eye and realized that she didn’t share his appreciation of Dante’s philosophizing at the time. Disregarding that, though, he realized that they had reached the elevator, and reached for the call button.

Before Matt could press it, the doors opened in front of him. Inside the elevator was someone Matt recognized – a young man, dressed plainly in a black jacket and blue jeans but sporting shoulder-length red hair and an intense facial expression. He plainly recognized Matt too, and stepped out of the elevator before putting his hand on his hip and confronting the group.

“Somehow I’m not surprised I ran into you here, Matt Chiaki. I knew I had to get stronger before facing you, and it looks like that time has come.”

“Have we met before?” Bunny questioned, raising an eyebrow.

“I remember you,” Matt said. He then tilted his head back and looked over his shoulder to Bunny. “Silver, the trainer I was going to battle at the Frontier Society tournament back on the Indigo Plateau. Remember? I was going to battle him but he decided to surrender and leave the tournament.”

“Oh, now I remember!”

“So what’s the matter, Silver?” Nekou mockingly asked of the young man. “Did Matt, of all people, scare you?”

“You, be quiet.” Silver’s casual, rude dismissal of Nekou’s provocation surprised Matt far more than her original action did, leaving him to stare blankly as Silver turned an intense glare toward him. “I have unfinished business with Matt Chiaki.”

“This young man certainly appears to mean business, Matt,” Dante advised. “I’ll politely step aside from battling you this time, because it looks like you’ve found your real opponent.”

“I guess it makes sense, doesn’t it? Silver, if you’re serious about this, and I have no reason to think you aren’t, follow us back downstairs. Come on, Olivia.”

With Silver now in tow, the group crowded into the ivory-walled elevator. Olivia and Dante entered first, owing to the fact that they had assistance devices for walking. Matt, Nekou, Bunny and Silver all followed them.

On the wall next to the door was a selection of buttons, marked “1,” “2,” 3” and “S1.” Matt chose the final button and pressed it, prompting the elevator’s doors to close so the car could transport its passengers down.

“You never really explained why you quit the tournament, Silver.”

Silver growled; evidently he was bothered by having to think about his previous encounter with Matt’s group, even though nothing bad had happened. “I wasn’t strong enough,” he finally admitted, however. “I saw your strength and I knew I was outmatched.”

“Why not just battle him and find out how it would go?” Olivia questioned.

“There was no reason to. I could have, but I would not have gained anything from it. In order to get stronger, I believe that you must fight on the same level as your enemy, which meant I had to hone my skills further.” Silver thrust his finger upward, pointing right in Matt’s face, and declared, “I’ve done that, so now, consider this battle the one we didn’t have then.”

Before Matt could say anything in regards to the challenge laid down against him, the elevator stopped and its doors opened. Beyond the threshold on sublevel one was nothing more than a wide, brightly-lit corridor. Six doors lined up next to each other on each wall, each leading to its own athletic court.

“Tell me what number room you got,” Silver demanded.

“Twelve,” Matt replied, fumbling for the reservation ticket in his pocket.

“Fine. It’s this way.”

With his hands tucked into his own pockets, Silver skulked over to the door nearest to the elevator on the right side, which had a large number ‘12’ painted on it in yellow. Silver snatched the ticket from Matt’s grasp and held it up to a sensor next to the door, prompting it to open. He then crumpled the paper up and tossed it back to Matt before abruptly entering the room.

“Someone got their cornflakes pissed in this morning,” Nekou groaned, following behind Olivia into the room.

“Please don’t make a scene now,” Matt pleaded with her. “Let this go as smoothly as it possibly can.”

Surprisingly enough, Nekou listened and backed down, allowing both herself and Matt to finally enter after the others.

Inside was an entirely blank, slate-gray room. A crude battlefield outline was drawn on the floor in chalk, and off to the side, there was a bench for spectators. Bunny, Olivia and Dante were already there, so Nekou joined them while Matt took his place on the battlefield to face Silver.

“This is where we’re going to fight?” Matt blanched. “It’s so lifeless.”

“That’s why they give you the opportunity to customize it,” snapped the redheaded young man. “Learn what you’re doing, or you aren’t a worthy opponent for me.”

As if on cue, a robot in the shape of an oversized Poké Ball floated down next to the spectator bench. Nekou immediately jumped up, and using a keyboard attached to the machine, activated the program to edit the battlefield. Small, crystalline domes surrounding the battlefield space began to glow as a result.

With only a few clicks, Nekou loaded a battlefield map, and the crystal generators shined even brighter. When their light faded, the room had been completely transformed, now resembling an artificial forest in a greenhouse. Trees and rocks were everywhere, and the rocky floor had been transformed into a cool, healthy clearing of grass.

“So it’s true!” Bunny exclaimed. “I had heard these places could become any kind of battlefield, and it really was true!”

“All computers and holograms,” explained Nekou. “This battlefield is for all intents and purposes solid, but it can be reverted back into data and put back into the system when we’re done with it.”

With Matt and Silver each on their respective end of the forest arena, the battle only needed some rules put into place before it could begin, an opportunity Silver seized without hesitation.

“We’ll make this a Single Battle with three Pokémon on each side,” he announced while pointing straight at his opponent, leaving no room for debate. “Obviously, the battle will be over when all three Pokémon on one side faint.”

“Fine by me,” Matt agreed, grasping the front of his hat. “Do you want to use the Pokémon we used in the tournament first?”

“I don’t care about that. The rules of that tournament were too restrictive for me to get much out of it, so I don’t care what Pokémon you go with. For myself, on the other hand…”

Cutting himself off in the middle of his own sentence, Silver took a Poké Ball from his belt and threw it. A hulking, blue Pokémon with a muscular build and powerful jaws erupted out; he stood on a pair of firm legs as he stretched out his clawed, club-like arms.

“I was training Feraligatr at the tournament,” Silver elaborated, “so I’ll use it here too.”

“I see.” Still holding the front of his hat, Matt quietly pondered what he had to do. “This battle is to practice for the Battle Arcade. Dahlia uses Togekiss, Ludicolo and Zapdos, and with me now… I have Heatran, Reuniclus, Aggron, Rotom, Golurk and Salamence with me. Based on that… I know which three I’ll go with.”

Readying a Poké Ball of his own from his bag, Matt called out, “Tony, make your mark!”

Feraligatr’s bulk was more than matched by the Pokémon Matt sent out to face him, a dinosaur-like creature whose craggy black body had bands of silver metal around the limbs. Coming in at a height just shorter than that of his opponent, the Aggron turned his steel head upward to allow his blue eyes to meet the gaze of Silver’s Feraligatr.

“An Aggron,” Bunny noted with a bit of apprehension, “against a Feraligatr. Aggron is Steel-and-Rock-type, while Feraligatr is Water-type. I’ve got to wonder what Matt was thinking, sending in something with such an obvious disadvantage…”

“And Feraligatr is the final evolution of Totodile,” Olivia added, somewhat bitterly. “I wonder how much I missed out on…”

“I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but sending in a Rock-type against a Water-type?” On his side of the battlefield, Silver was just as confused as Bunny about Matt’s choice. “Basic type logic is on my side, but I’m sure you know that already.”

“I’m getting ready to challenge Dahlia over at the Battle Arcade,” Matt explained, “so I’m going with the Pokémon I want to use there, to warm them up.”

“If your path to the Battle Arcade goes through me, I’ll see to it that you never get there! Feraligatr, Waterfall!”

“Tony, I think you can outgun it! Head Smash!”

Both Tony and Feraligatr started to charge at each other, their bodies each taking on different qualities to reflect their moves. Tony’s head took on a bright glow, while Feraligatr’s entire body was surrounded by a current of water.

When they collided, the two Pokémon pushed against each other for several intense moments before Tony was overwhelmed and thrown back. However, his attack was not entirely a failure, as Feraligatr also stumbled backward in Silver’s direction, just in a far more subtle way.

“So that didn’t work. Fine, I’ll try something else. Tony, give Iron Tail a shot!”

“Hmph, how desperate can you be?” Silver sighed, as if he was annoyed by how the battle was going. “Feraligatr, you use Iron Tail as well!”

Both Pokémon lunged at each other again, this time with their tails glowing with silvery light. They both tried to hit the other by swinging their tails, but once again, Feraligatr prevailed, pitching Tony back into a tree textured by the battlefield. The false foliage cracked under Tony’s weight, and a large portion of it faded into thin air in a cloud of binary code.

“The reason why Aggron is an especially poor choice against Feraligatr is actually twofold,” Silver spoke before not only Matt but Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Dante, who were all fascinated in the battle for their own reasons. “One, the reason you already know, that Water is super-effective against Rock. You already knew that, but what shocks me is that you don’t know reason number two – Steel-type moves don’t affect Water-types much. For that reason, you have no chance. Recall Aggron if you want to have any chance of defeating Feraligatr.”

Matt stopped and stared nervously at the ground. “He’s got a point. I knew that, but it slipped my mind,” he thought, running a hand over the stubble on his face. “If my attacks can be so easily repelled, I won’t be able to win. Maybe I should recall Tony…”

“Time’s up, your decision for Aggron is made. Feraligatr, Waterfall!”

Seeing the water-cloaked Feraligatr charging his way again, Matt panicked and blurted out, “Block it with Double-Edge!”

Matt hadn’t noticed yet, but Tony seemed to realize something about the battle and Feraligatr. As a result, he lowered his head and turned Double-Edge into a headbutting move instead of a tackling move. He charged ahead, right into Feraligatr’s attack, and managed to hit Feraligatr’s own head directly. Both Pokémon were affected by the collision, but Feraligatr was visibly shaken up by the force he’d been hit with.

“Tony, what did...” Suddenly, what his Pokémon had done clicked with Matt. “Aggron as a species is far more defensive than Feraligatr! If we simply parry Feraligatr’s attacks with similar moves of our own, Feraligatr will end up defeating himself!” Undoing and opening his coat, Matt said to his Pokémon, “Good thinking, Tony! That’s how we’ll win!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I will be the winner! Feraligatr, Iron Tail!”

Tony’s Double-Edge had more of an effect on Feraligatr than either Matt or Silver realized, however. The hulking Water-type could not carry out his orders immediately due to the fact that he was having difficulty maintaining his balance after the blow he’d received.

It wasn’t long before Feraligatr managed to overcome his dizziness, though, and Matt was ready for him when he did. “Hit Feraligatr’s tail with Dragon Claw!”

As Feraligatr swung his tail around, Tony had a glowing claw ready to intercept it. Iron Tail had so much force put into it that Tony had to strain greatly for his own move to have any effect, but it paid off when he managed to reverse the pace of Feraligatr’s attack, throwing Silver’s Pokémon into a spin.

“If that won’t work, we’ll get even closer! Feraligatr, use Ice Punch repeatedly!”

In order to stop his spinning, Feraligatr leaned down and dug his claw into the ground, quickly halting his movement. He then rose to his full height, tensed the muscles in both of his arms and charged at Tony anew, with his claws and forearms radiating icy air.

“I’ll gladly fight up close! Meet every one with Dragon Claw, Tony!”

Bracing himself, Tony met every one of the punches dealt by Feraligatr by stabbing Feraligatr’s fists with his claws; both alternated their strikes, matching each other evenly.

“Now this is a battle,” Nekou commented, still standing behind the floating computer. She seemed to be paying surprisingly close attention to the match. “Olivia, what do you think?”

“Feraligatr’s strong, but I expected that.” Smiling, she continued, “But Matt’s doing really well. I’m actually impressed.”

“I agree,” Bunny concurred. “Even with the bad type matchup, Matt’s figuring out ways to make it work. I’m not sure if he can actually pull off a win, though…”

For his part, Dante simply sat still and quietly observed the events unfolding before him.

Tony and Feraligatr were still exchanging blows when Silver suddenly smirked. “I’ve got you right where I want you,” he tauntingly hissed. “Iron Tail!”

In the blink of an eye, Feraligatr halted his punching assault and switched back to using his tail, undercutting Tony and forcing him to fall forward. He fell right into Feraligatr’s grasp, and the Water-type Pokémon gripped Tony by wrapping his arms around the Aggron.

“What?!” Matt gasped in disbelief, a sentiment shared by his friends on the sidelines. “How am I supposed to... use Iron Tail, I guess!”

Tony’s tail did begin to glow, but he was unable to wriggle free of Feraligatr’s grasp and therefore was unable to use it. Feraligatr smiled; it was not a smile of happiness but one of cocky confidence, much like the one worn by his trainer.

“Now, Feraligatr!” Silver called out, pointing directly forward. “Throw Aggron with Waterfall!”

A veil of water erupted around the two Pokémon, putting Tony into visible distress. That wasn’t enough for Feraligatr, though; he began trying to lift his opponent, exerting all the energy he could into raising the Aggron up.

It was Feraligatr’s clear struggle to pick up Tony that inspired Matt to continue. “I know you’ve got some more left in you, Tony. I can feel it!”

Responding to Matt’s encouragement, Tony growled and shifted himself against both Feraligatr’s grip and the water pounding his body, making himself even heavier and thus harder for Feraligatr to lift.

“Come on, Feraligatr, finish it!” roared Silver. Despite the resistance Tony was putting up against his Feraligatr’s advances, Silver still thought he could feel victory within his reach.

“Dragon Claw!”

Even though he was still trapped in Feraligatr’s grasp, Tony managed to pull his left arm free. He jabbed his glowing claws into Feraligatr’s torso, a move that finally broke the Waterfall and freed him from the Water-type.

“Aggron got away!” Bunny exclaimed as she, Nekou, Olivia and Dante watched the two Pokémon separate in what appeared to be preparation for a final clash. “Matt just might pull this one out after all!”

“Maybe he isn’t so bad after all,” Nekou deadpanned at the battlefield controls. “He might actually earn some credit this time.”

“Feraligatr’s strong, but… maybe Matt and Aggron are stronger?” With her hand over her mouth, Olivia’s voice came out muffled but still reflective of the thought in her mind.

Tony threw off the water that was still dripping down his steel armor by flicking his arms and head. After that, seeing that Feraligatr was still standing prompted to shake the room with a mighty roar.

“Tony…” Interpreting the roar as a sign of his Aggron’s emotions toward the battle, Matt hesitated for a moment before smiling. “You want to finish this up, then? Be my guest. Head Smash!”

Growling in frustration, Silver would have none of this. “Feraligatr, get the upper hand! Waterfall!”

In the exact same way that the battle had begun, Tony and Feraligatr rushed each other and collided head-to-head. However, unlike the first time, Feraligatr’s body had become weak after trying to pick up Tony, and as a result he could not hold out. Tony’s Head Smash made full impact and threw Feraligatr over, and with his head reddened from the blow, the Water-type did not get up.

“Well done, Tony,” Matt congratulated, wiping his brow. Both he and his Aggron were gasping for air after Feraligatr finally went down, exhausted for different reasons. “That was excellent work.”

It slipped their minds for just a brief second that Feraligatr was only the first of Silver’s Pokémon to fall and that the battle was far from over. This was not a fact forgotten by Silver, though, and as he wordlessly recalled Feraligatr he already had his second Pokémon ready.

“That was the first Pokémon I ever got that you just beat.” Holding up a Great Ball – a blue Poké Ball with two red bars on its top – in his right hand, Silver spoke in a voice that was subtly poisoned by an angry, frustrated growl. “I must have underestimated you, and that will not happen again! Mamoswine, enter the battle!”

If Feraligatr could be called a large Pokémon, the beast that followed him as Silver’s second choice could rightfully be known as huge. Her massive body was supported by four stout legs and covered in brown fur. A white-and-blue frame surrounded her fairly small eyes, and below the smattering of cream-colored fur around her red nose, two grand tusks shaped from solid ice emerged. She stamped her foot into the ground repeatedly as she looked down on the Pokémon before her.

“Mamoswine’s a completely different obstacle than Feraligatr,” commented Bunny, “what with being an Ice-and-Ground-type.”

“It’s true that his Ground-type is a risk,” Matt responded, having heard Bunny speaking, “but Mamoswine is half Ice-type, too. Tony, still up for this?”

Though he was visibly tired, Tony was enjoying the fight too much to quit. He grunted and nodded back to his trainer, so Matt adjusted his hat and steeled his stance.

“Good luck, then, Tony. Use Iron Tail!”

“You aren’t getting me this time!” Silver yelled out. “Mamoswine, Earthquake!”

Long before Tony had any chance of reaching Mamoswine with his glowing tail, the towering Pokémon slammed her front legs into the ground. The resulting shockwave ravaged much of the illusionary landscape on its way to violently shaking beneath Tony’s feet. Blasts of seismic energy radiated through Tony’s body from underground, causing him to spasm sharply before falling down as soon as the attack abated.

“To be expected,” Nekou scoffed. “Aggron would have had a hard time even without the stress from beating Feraligatr first.”

“Good job, Tony,” Matt said to the Poké Ball in his hand after recalling his Aggron to its confines. “That wasn’t an easy fight by any means.”

“We’re even now,” Silver called out across the field, his voice as cold as the ice composing his Mamoswine’s tusks. “Tell me that your next Pokémon is going to actually give Mamoswine a challenge. I won’t get any stronger if I just crush you.”

“And I won’t get stronger either if that happens, so wouldn’t you say a tough battle would be good for us both?”

“Now that’s what I wanted to hear.” A daring smile crept onto Silver’s face, breaking his usual dour attitude. It wasn’t out of happiness, though; instead, it was fueled entirely by his eagerness for a brawl. “Show me your next Pokémon!”

“That’s fine by me! Patrick, make your mark!”

Matt threw the Dive Ball after taking it from his bag, sending Patrick out once again. The Seismitoad briefly yawned, but when he saw Mamoswine, he realized that he was in a battle and snapped to attention.

On the sidelines, Bunny seemed slightly alarmed by Matt’s choice. “Matt’s going with a Pokémon he only just caught recently, against a well-trained opponent no less?”

“Well, he’s got to help get Seismitoad stronger at some point, right?” Olivia pointed out. “And Seismitoad did help us fight that nasty Bisharp, so it could work.”

“Don’t think you’ve got this wrapped up yet,” Silver grunted, standing with his hand tucked firmly in his pocket. “Give me everything you’ve got.”

“Gladly,” Matt quickly replied. “Patrick, if he wants to be hit hard, let’s give him just that. Scald!”

“Mamoswine, Hail.”

The two Pokémon maneuvered their bulky bodies in curves around the field, matching each others’ movements. Neither broke eye contact with the other, but it was Patrick who acted first, opening his wide mouth to spit up a stream of steaming-hot water into Mamoswine’s face. The Ice-and-Ground-type closed her eyes as the burning water erupted into steam against her face and singed her fur.

A splash of red, discolored hair formed a bizarre spot on Mamoswine’s face as a residual of the attack. She did, however, manage to snap back into focus rather quickly, and once she did, she looked up to the high ceiling and howled. A soft white aura surrounded her body briefly before bursting into a thick cover of clouds that enveloped the entire chamber, within which a relentless ice storm began. Hailstones buffeted Patrick, but they had no effect on Mamoswine, who seemed to fade into the mist.

“Matt better watch himself,” Nekou muttered to Bunny and Olivia while wiping the water off of her glasses. “If Silver’s doing what I think he is, then this is going to be quite a ride. I’m not surprised he’d use a Ground-type with such skill, though.”

“His favorite type, like my dad with Water-types?” Olivia wondered.

“It’s just in his blood, I guess you could say.”

Matt was openly as bothered by the clouds in the air as Nekou was. He squinted his visible eye several times and wiped condensation off of the mask covering his other eye before saying anything.

“So you’re going to work me down slowly with Hail?” he breathily said. “I’ll have to deal with you quickly, then. Patrick, use Scald again!”

“Just what I wanted,” Silver mumbled with a smirk.

What happened next was hard to describe. Patrick thought he saw Mamoswine clearly in the storm while he aimed Scald, and as far as Matt, Bunny, Nekou and Olivia all could see, there was no reason to doubt that. Just before the searing stream made contact, though, what appeared to be Mamoswine simply vanished, revealing itself to be little more than a mirage.

“What? How did it miss?”

“That was Mamoswine’s ability, Snow Cloak,” Nekou explained, her glasses catching the light from the fluorescent bulbs on the ceiling and glowing as a result. “It becomes more evasive in a hailstorm.”

“So the Hail wasn’t itself what was going to wear me out, it was Mamoswine escaping my attacks…”

“That’s right. I wanted to test this tactic out on opponents who could give it a challenge.” While offering these details, Silver remained nearly still, keeping his body stiff and his hand in his pocket. He finally moved shortly after, however, pointing at Matt as he called out the command, “Earthquake!”

Mamoswine had completely disappeared in the murk consuming the battle, so when she roared, her disembodied voice seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. It was impossible for anyone to tell where the shockwave radiating through the ground originated from, but regardless of that fact, Patrick was shaken to his knees as a result.

“I think it’s behind you, Patrick! Hit it with Drain Punch!”

A gurgling sound rumbled from Patrick’s mouth, indicative of his anger as he whirled around and swung his glowing fist in a wide arc across the space previously to his back. It was all for naught, though; if Mamoswine had been there just a moment earlier, she no longer was.

“This works better than I expected,” Silver mused. “If I’m getting this much mileage now, I can only imagine how well it’ll do against his Pokémon. It’s about time to wrap this up, so use Earthquake one more time!”

Once more, Mamoswine bellowed from no discernible location and broke the ground with a seismic shockwave. Patrick fell from his knees onto all fours, trembling violently from the repeated spasms forced through his body. Yet, he did not faint, and that was what visibly flustered Silver while leaving Matt relieved.

“That didn’t do it? I’ll have to admit it, then… you’re giving me just the kind of challenge I wanted.”

“Underestimating your opponent’s a mistake,” Matt advised the younger trainer. “If you underestimate what you’re against, you won’t bring your best to the fight.”

“That’s good and all but I wasn’t underestimating you,” Silver sneered, his façade of smug calmness beginning to crack. “You are a means to an end for me, and for that, I need you as strong as you possibly can be. You think I’m underestimating you? I’ll show you how serious I can be! Mamoswine, Ice Shard! Finish it off!”

A glint in the churning murk of the hailstorm caught Matt’s eye, and he knew immediately what he had to do. “Ninety degrees to your right! Scald!”

In a sudden burst of agility, Patrick deliberately fell onto his stomach and turned around by exactly the prescribed angle. The chunks of ice that Mamoswine had directed his way simply flew right over his head, having no effect on him as he spat back another burst of boiling water.

“Mamoswine, wha…” Silver stopped his response to Mamoswine’s pained wail short when he spotted her amongst the clouds. She was now the one trembling, with some sort of injury near her mouth acting as the source of her suffering. From the bright red discoloration of her fur in that area, Silver realized that she had been inflicted with a burn. “Damn it! Stopped when I was so close... this is not over yet. Mamoswine, come back!”

Seeing no sense in forcing Mamoswine to fight further at the moment, Silver called her back into the relative safety of her Great Ball. He then gripped another Poké Ball in his hand, but hesitated in throwing it.

“My third and last Pokémon,” Silver thought aloud. “To call this a win for myself, I must make everything I can out of this one. Mamoswine can’t do this alone, and if I want to get strong enough to defeat him, I have to be able to win battles like this…” Finally throwing the Poké Ball, he shouted, “Gengar, enter the battle!”

In keeping with the eclectic, random nature of Silver’s team, his third Pokémon was a roughly five-foot-tall ghost with the appearance of a black shadow. Just about the Gengar’s only distinguishing features were his sinister red eyes and wide, toothy smile.

“A Gengar? Now I’m interested.” Stiffly pushing her glasses up on her nose, Nekou walked away from the control computer and dropped herself next to Bunny on the bench. “This might be where Silver turns it around.”

“What’s gotten into you all the sudden?” Bunny questioned, genuinely confused regarding how Nekou’s mind had changed so fast.

“Ghost-types fight completely differently than users of brute force like Feraligatr and Mamoswine,” Nekou explained. “I’m interested to see how Matt handles one…” She then abruptly added, “Strictly from a knowledge standpoint, of course. I just want to know what he’s capable of.”

From his spot on the battlefield, Matt was having similar thoughts. After taking a moment to assess the situation and his chances, he thrust his hand out and called, “Patrick, use Scald again!”

“Counter it with Shadow Ball!”

In the haze of the continuing hailstorm, neither Patrick nor Gengar could get a clear lock on where the other was. As a result their attacks sailed within inches of each other on their way to grazing their respective targets.

“This hailstorm has got to end soon…” Matt mumbled to himself. The weather effect laid out by Silver was indeed making it more difficult for him to strategize Patrick’s moves. “Just try another Scald for now!”

“If you’re going to have trouble hitting me, I’ll try my luck. Gengar, Metronome!”

Moving with great speed, Gengar pointed straight up with both hands and then waved his arms back and forth. A split second later, an orange aura surrounded him as rushed forward with his arms crossed, karate chopping Patrick in the stomach in an ‘X’ shape. Though this Cross Chop attack did knock the wind out of the Seismitoad, he was able to quickly recover and take advantage of his now-close proximity to his enemy to blast Gengar with hot water. The phantom tumbled through the air, groaning shrilly in pain.

Much to Matt’s delight, the hailstorm finally abated at that point. The entire virtual battlefield – much of it damaged by the vicious sparring it hosted – returned to full view, and the two panting Pokémon growled while sizing up what it would take to defeat each other.

“It’s time to put an end to this once and for all. Patrick, hit Gengar with one more Scald dead-on!”

“That’s what you think!” Silver shouted in response. “Gengar, Toxic! Now!”

Patrick opened his mouth in preparation to launch yet another Scald, but before he could get any water out, Gengar complicated things. Stretching his right arm out in Patrick’s direction, Gengar focused a swirl of poisonous sludge around it, ultimately using the arm as a guide to shoot the vile substance right into Patrick’s face.

The Seismitoad’s entire visage was covered by the sludge, throwing his Scald far off target. He completely panicked, desperately trying to wipe away the thick fluid that was already sapping his last bits of endurance.

“Patrick, is there anything I can…”

“There’s something I can do,” Silver interrupted. “End this fight. Gengar, Venoshock!”

Gengar stared upward and spread his arms, letting out a high-pitched cry. Four pools of similar purple sludge erupted around Patrick, and Gengar’s power caused each puddle to rise into the air in the shape of a lightning bolt. Suddenly, the four spears of poison converged on Patrick, shocking him from head to toe in brutal, agonizing pain.

“Venoshock is a special toxin that attacks the bodies of already poisoned targets,” Silver explained while he and Matt watched Patrick writhe desperately within Gengar’s assault. “Do what you must to win, with no rules or limits… that’s the way of the world and the way I battle. Your Seismitoad’s name is Patrick, right? Patrick, thank you for being a useful training partner.”

Silver snapped his fingers, making the Venoshock barrage finally cease. Almost instantaneously, Patrick crumbled to the ground in front of Gengar, unable to move even a centimeter more.

“Patrick, no…” Looking up with grief in his eyes, Matt yelled to Silver, “Call the rest of the battle off! I have to take Patrick for treatment now!”

“Don’t ****ing choke now!” Nekou suddenly called out, startling the others. “It’s just regular damage, Patrick’s no worse hurt than he’d be from any normal fight! Silver’s just trying to psych you out!”

“Yeah!” Olivia piped up in support. “Don’t let him get inside your head!”

“Yeah, my head is mine…” Matt chuckled, shaking it to work out a cramp in his neck. Turning back to the battle, he held up the Dive Ball and recalled Patrick, saying, “Patrick, you fought courageously. I’ll get you to the Pokémon Center soon.”

“So what’s it going to be last?” demanded Silver. “It’s two against one now. Face it, my training here will end with my victory!”

“Not if my old friend has anything to say about it!” Matt countered, pulling a yellow-and-black Ultra Ball from his bag and throwing it. “Nikola, make your mark!”

As Matt’s last Pokémon took shape, its form became a rather unusual one: an orange refrigerator with a spike on top, cloaked in a blue plasma that formed a pair of lightning bolt-shaped ‘arms.’ On the refrigerator’s front, two white-and-blue eyes framed a small, smiling mouth.

“It had to be a Rotom, something I wasn’t prepared for?!” Silver exclaimed in surprise and disgust. “I see you’re not going to make that victory easy for me. Gengar, it’s time to go all out! Toxic!”

“Stop it with Thunderbolt, Nikola!”

Gengar raised his arm again and started to funnel sludge around it, but Nikola cut him off. The electric blast loosed by the Rotom cut right through Gengar’s Toxic and powerfully shocked him, making him stumble onto one knee.

“You’re not going to stop me! Not yet!” Silver swiftly pointed forward and roared in command, “Gengar, Shadow Ball!”

Trembling, the weakened Gengar extended his arm again, this time to draw dark energy out of the air in the shape of a sphere. He locked his eyes on the floating refrigerator Rotom and flicked his finger, sending the orb of shadow at its target; Nikola, however, made no effort to dodge, instead opting to take the hit and endure it. The Electric-and-Ice-type emerged nearly unscathed.

“Show that Gengar a Shadow Ball of your own, Nikola.” By this point, Matt’s confidence levels were rising. Barring any unforeseen turns, all Silver had left in reserve was a burned, injured Mamoswine, which would be far from enough to win him the day, a fact Matt was well aware of.

Obliging its trainer’s direction, Nikola focused the same dark energy as Gengar between its lightning bolt arms. The resulting Shadow Ball was smaller than Gengar’s but hit its mark perfectly, dropping the Ghost-and-Poison-type completely to his knees.

“It’s all or nothing now!!” Silver was beginning to completely lose his composure, which was something that was off-putting to Matt and the others, who were used to his normal cool, calm demeanor. In fact, he was acting with such intensity that it was almost frightening. “Put everything on the line for one last shot! Metronome!!”

Something in Silver’s fiery voice stirred Gengar, and the Pokémon stood back up. Wearily, he waved his arms once more, but this time, the result was something unusual – overcome by a surge of energy, Gengar held his arms out, allowing them to take on the shape of large scythes.

“That’s…” Matt gasped.

“****!” Nekou exclaimed.

“It’s Guillotine!” Bunny finished. “If this hits, it’s all over!”

Olivia, meanwhile, simply sat and stared, completely silent in her fascination with the turns the battle was taking. Dante still sat next to her, carefully observing every single movement both Matt and Silver made.

Leveling the blades that his arms had become, Gengar let out a bloodcurdling scream and leapt at Nikola. His intent plainly was to use his transformed arms like a pair of shears to critically injure and cripple Nikola all at once.

“Get out of the way and use Shadow Ball!” Matt cried out, almost reluctant to even look at the battle any further. He didn’t think Nikola would be able to move swiftly enough to avoid the brutal attack due to the heavy appliance serving as the Pokémon’s body.

Despite its bulk, however, Nikola managed to lift itself just enough to cause Gengar’s scythes to come together harmlessly right below it. In immediate retaliation, the Rotom dropped another Shadow Ball on its foe, slamming the screeching ghost into the ground.

“Not yet!” A slight growl worked its way into Silver’s speech as he saw Gengar trying to stand up, but even then, he was beginning to realize that the Ghost-and-Poison-type had been pushed to his limits. “Toxic!”

“I won’t let you!” Matt countered. “Nikola, drop a Thunderbolt and finish this!”

With his injuries impeding his movements, Gengar was barely able to lift his arm toward Nikola before the Rotom answered by striking him with an electric blast. This was what pushed Gengar over the edge, and he crumpled back onto the floor and became still.

Before anyone had a chance to speak, Silver swiftly and wordlessly sent Gengar back to his Poké Ball and released Mamoswine from her Great Ball again. Unlike earlier, her fur was matted and messy, and she labored for breath as a visible burn around her mouth took its toll.

“Get ready, Nikola! It’s time to end this!” Once he saw that Nikola was ready to make its move, Matt clenched his fist. “Knock it out once and for all using Blizzard!”

“Oh no you don’t! Mamoswine, use Superpower and aim for the rocks, then the trees!”

Just as Nikola sent a gust of freezing air and ice at Mamoswine from its plasma coat, the great giant cloaked herself in a red aura before charging forward.

The Blizzard missed, but Matt was more puzzled by why Mamoswine appeared to be charging at one of the virtual boulders making up the battlefield. “Keep attacking, Nikola! Keep up the pressure!”

Nikola released blast after blast of Blizzard, but they all fell short of hitting Mamoswine. The Pokémon, despite her huge body, was actually climbing into the air by using the rocks as platforms. Faster than Matt or the spectators could process it, Mamoswine was on top of the tallest tree.

“Now, Mamoswine! Do it!”

With Superpower still activated, Mamoswine made a valiant leap, aiming to crush Nikola with her weight. The Rotom froze, fearing the rapidly growing shadow covering it.

“Now’s your chance, Nikola! Finish with Blizzard!”

Matt’s direction gave Nikola the confidence it was lacking, and spurred it to overrun Mamoswine with a massive Blizzard. The concentrated storm packed so much force that it actually flung Mamoswine out of her path and crashed her to the floor.

Mamoswine did not stand up again.

“He did it!” Olivia exclaimed, her excitement boiling over. Quickly propping herself up on her crutches, she hobbled over to her and threw her arms around him, a sentiment he returned by setting his own hand on her shoulder.

“Well, well, well, what have we here?” Nekou smirked, and when combined with the light once again filling her glasses, she presented a face of obvious mischief. She and Bunny had followed Olivia to Matt. “Maybe I can get something out of this bargain after all.”

“What does that mean?” Matt asked in confusion.

“It… it means…” Flushing as she searched for words, Nekou finally settled on an excuse and said, “Now that pizza tonight can be for all of us! You know, to celebrate you winning today.”

Matt sighed. “Fine. You know, sometimes I wonder if this all wouldn’t make more sense if you actually were taking advantage of me outright.”

“Why don’t you join us, Silver?” Bunny called to the sullen young man, who was slowly making his way to the door after recalling Mamoswine.

“Idle time is time wasted,” he grumbled in response, slowing to a stop but not turning around. “My father is powerful and ruthless, both as a person and as a trainer. I will not rest until I defeat him and put him in his place. Matt Chiaki… I took the loss this time, but it was valuable training for when I ultimately confront him. You only concern yourself with growing stronger, so you will continue to give me the challenges I need for training.”

“Um… fine, I guess?” By that time, Silver was through the door and Matt was talking to the inner side of the portal. “How unusual.”

“That boy, Silver…” Dante spoke up, having remained silent for some time. “He appears to be skilled, but raw emotion dominates all his functions. If he learns to control that anger for his father, he could become a truly powerful Pokémon trainer.”

“Whatever,” Nekou sighed, “I don’t even want to worry about it anymore. I want to go relax.”

“For once, you’ve actually got a good idea,” Matt flatly said.

-

The sun was high in the sky as Silver exited the Trainer House, casting a warm light over much of Cherrygrove City. He silently filtered into the street and began walking to the Pokémon Center, but he was soon distracted by the sound of a telephone ring.

“Who’s calling me at a time like this?” he sneered, reaching into his pocket for a communication device. Colored blue with a white half- Poké Ball patterned on each side, the Pokégear continued to ring loudly in Silver’s hands until he flipped it open, revealing two screens inside. On the top screen was Looker, the thin-faced detective from the Kiss of Death case.

“Oh, it’s you,” Silver groaned. “What do you want?”

“Important information to pass on, yes. Still caught up at this location taking a look into and investigating the Clemens murder, but word comes back to me from the officers who are working elsewhere in the field.”

“Spit it out already.”

“Activity that is suspicious is taking place in Azalea Town. People wearing suits colored black, like the darkness of the night. Gathering supplies of equipment for some purpose that is obviously nefarious!”

“So Team Rocket finally resurfaces… Thanks, then.” Abruptly hanging up and putting the Pokégear away, Silver resumed his march to the Pokémon Center, but at double the speed.

“I’ll take out your worthless team one-by-one, I swear… and then I’m coming for you, father.”

-

That night, after the sun had gone down and the group retired to their room in the Pokémon Center, Matt made good on the so-called ‘promise,’ even if Nekou had entirely invented the idea. The long coffee table near the room’s television was covered by a combination of two pizza boxes and a myriad of beverages. As was becoming familiar to Matt, Bunny and Olivia, Nekou’s unstoppable appetite earned her a pizza all her own, while the second was mainly divided up between Bunny and Olivia. Matt insisted on only taking two slices for himself.

“Aaaaaaaah!” Nekou gasped after taking a sip from the can of beer in her hand. “This is the life, you know? Pizza, some friends to share it with, and…” Nekou shook the can and glanced to the rest of the six-pack resting on the couch next to her before finishing, “my old buddy with his five brothers to keep me company. It doesn’t get better than this.”

“It is nice to finally relax a little,” Bunny admitted. “The Pokémon look like they’re having fun, too.”

Bunny’s assessment was completely correct. They’d set out plates of Pokémon food on the floor, inviting Marie along with Nekou’s Gothorita, Murkrow, Duskull and Zorua to eat out of two of the plates, Marie taking one all to herself. Balin was eating out of a third plate, while Olivia’s Minccino, Roselia, Oshawott and Lillipup shared two others.

“They’re all so cute,” Olivia said, her voice devoid of its usual warm energy. “I wish I could sit with them, but this leg…”

“Don’t you worry, Olivia, you’ll recover soon,” Nekou assured the younger girl. “Once you do, the Pokémon will still be here for you to play with all you want. I don’t want to see you stressing out over anything, so let’s just enjoy the pizza, okay?”

Olivia nodded her head. “Yeah, good idea,” she whispered, smiling. “Thank you.”

Off to the side, Matt was eating his own pieces of pizza while reading a book, staying away from getting too involved in the peaceful, cheerful exchange the others were having. He looked up when he heard Olivia and Nekou talking, and found himself feeling comforted by the honest connection they seemed to share.

-

Just like the night before, Pierce walked into the dark, dank alley and snapped his fingers four times. The signal still worked, for almost immediately, the Tenganist woman emerged from the shadows at the end of the alley.

“You came back,” she muttered, sounding surprised in her words but not in her voice, which remained flat.

“I did,” Pierce affirmed, “because our shared goals are precious to us both. Have you made a decision?”

“I must go to the survivors living near Blackthorn City to fully confirm the arrangements, but I have made a decision. We accept the proposal of an alliance between our forces, with the condition that my people remain autonomous, free from taking orders from your leader.”

“That is something I can pull some strings to arrange. For now, I can furnish you with supplies and some explosives.”

“A fair deal,” the woman agreed while nestling her infant in her arms.

“I’ll be going back to my base to iron out the details, then. What’s your name, if I may ask? How should I refer to you to my superiors?”

“I am a woman with no name. It was stripped from me. Today I am merely the prophet that sustains the life of my people.”

“Your identity was stripped from you…” Pierce turned away as his voice became shaky. “Just like me, then. Rest assured, I will do everything in my power to aid you in your battle against Ghetsis and Polaris.”


END of CHAPTER 4

Matori
6th September 2012, 12:30 AM
I really love how you opened this chapter. You did an excellent job setting up a noir-ish atmosphere and I think that's the perfect atmosphere to really let Pierce's character shine, since he's so mysterious. You also did well using those scenes to show not everything is as it seems in your story's world and that there's a lot of ugliness. I also really enjoy how you bookended the rest of the chapter with those scenes- it really brought together the whole chapter. I'm hoping to learn more about the mysterious woman later- she sounds fascinating from what we know about her so far, and I'm already starting to love her even though we don't even know her name. The Pierce subplot is looking like it'll be quite the ride.


“Don’t ever call yourself anything like that!” Nekou forcefully said, looking back over her shoulder. “You didn’t do anything wrong. This world is a ***** and the only way to beat it is to be a bigger ***** right back at it. That’s what Maman taught me, and it’s helped keep me going.”

Good words of wisdom. The way Nekou is a role model for Olivia is really awesome and empowering and her advice might be a little on the vulgar side but it's always true. You're developing their relationship great- I think it's really realistic and it's fun to watch Olivia start taking cues from Nekou little by little. You can tell just by reading it's helping Olivia become more confident.

The bit about the Pokemon Center services only being free to those with Pokedexes and starters is a fascinating deconstruction of the world, as well as an interesting little bit of social commentary (however unintentional it might be). I love the little touches you add in that show what happens to those other trainers we meet along the way in the games.

Ghetsis' speech was terrifying and the fact he manages to get an entire Pokemon Center of people gathered around the television to watch it is even more so.

I see what you did there, giving Pierce the codename Sam. I see it. I'm really wondering what it is Pierce has up his sleeve from these scenes, and I can't wait to find out in later chapters.

Ghetsis in general... Ghetsis is TERRIFYING. It's clear he's completely unhinged and dangerous, and the way he treats Anthea and Concordia is really horrifying and messed up. Good to see you kept his cruelty completely intact.

The Guide Gent is... odd. I'd be unsure of how to react to a man popping out of nowhere and offering to guide me around. Good work highlighting the frequent absurdity of the games.



NANDO'S BACK! I loved reading his battle with Dahlia, and how you characterized both of them well with their dialogue and actions. Both battles in this chapter- Nando vs. Dahlia and Matt vs Silver- are excellently written and suspenseful and the action in them flows wonderfully, as well as developing the characters involved nicely.

The way Nekou keeps nagging about the pizza throughout the chapter is adorable. She loves good food.

Silver and his portrayal in this chapter are amazing. At first I found him an irredeemable *******, but as you developed him during his battle with Matt, I started realizing that he's not so much an ******* as he is very serious about what he does, even if it means stepping on some toes. The Matt vs Silver battle was one of the most exciting battles I've ever read, and you did really well to keep the action flowing and unpredictable. It's clear Silver is going to be a serious rival in the story and I can't wait to see more about him. I really didn't see the twist with Silver coming at the end- obviously he's not worked out his little Team Rocket issue yet, but I never expected him to be working alongside Looker or at least keeping in contact with him for information.


“Aaaaaaaah!” Nekou gasped after taking a sip from the can of beer in her hand. “This is the life, you know? Pizza, some friends to share it with, and…” Nekou shook the can and glanced to the rest of the six-pack resting on the couch next to her before finishing, “my old buddy with his five brothers to keep me company. It doesn’t get better than this.”“Aaaaaaaah!” Nekou gasped after taking a sip from the can of beer in her hand. “This is the life, you know? Pizza, some friends to share it with, and…” Nekou shook the can and glanced to the rest of the six-pack resting on the couch next to her before finishing, “my old buddy with his five brothers to keep me company. It doesn’t get better than this.”
Nekou has the right idea. She finally got her pizza too! Girl needs her pizza and booze.

Overall, this was an excellent chapter, and you plotted it out really well. The action all flows naturally and the transitions are excellent, and the way you spaced scenes kept it interesting. I can't wait to see what's coming next.

Bay
7th September 2012, 2:47 AM
Pretty interesting you have Pierce a Tenganist. I assume you’ll get a bit more in depth over that soon?

I admit to laughing at Matt’s reaction over the Pokemon Center’s fee (and him being called youngster later on in the chapter, lol) .I always thought it’s free considering in the games it seems it’s free for the public, but that’s just me.


Ghetsis hobbled down a cold, gloomy corridor in Polaris’s base shortly after his speech.


A dark, gloomy chamber waited beyond the doorway.

You used gloomy twice within a couple paragraphs. Perhaps for second quote leave gloomy out? I do have to give you credit for describing the loud noise Ghetsis’s cane keep doing, very nice. Also, oh dear over the child and the woman from the earlier scene. D:

Yay for Nando appearing! As much as I enjoyed the battle a lot, I feel you can leave out the first part of Nando and Dahlia’s battle, or least show the end of it, and go straight with Zapdos (considering Matt will go against Dahlia) so the plot goes at a slight faster pace, but that’s just me.


Wrenching his arm free of her grip, Matt growled, “What’s gotten into you? This time, I mean.”
“If you don’t train, you won’t beat Dahlia. And if you lose, what good are you to me?”
“What does that mean?”
“It means… um… ****. Did you forget about that pizza you promised me and Olivia? If you lose, you can’t keep your promises!”

Awwwwww. :3


“I like you and your little team, Matt,” Dante confessed. “You four remind me of how things used to be, when people quested for big things. Well, that and the fact that I can just feel how badly my Alakazam and Ditto want to battle again, but do forgive this old man for making you listen to his ramblings.”

Maybe it’s just me, but confess seems to me Dante admires him a little too much, LOL. In all seriousness though, I think said or respond would be better to not give that kind of indication.


“I see.” Still holding the front of his hat, Matt quietly pondered what he had to do. “This battle is to practice for the Battle Arcade. Dahlia uses Togekiss, Ludicolo and Zapdos, and with me now… I have Heatran, Reuniclus, Aggron, Rotom, Golurk and Salamence with me. Based on that… I know which three I’ll go with.”


Matt stopped and stared nervously at the ground. “He’s got a point. I knew that, but it slipped my mind,” he thought, running a hand over the stubble on his face. “If my attacks can be so easily repelled, I won’t be able to win. Maybe I should recall Tony…”

“Tony, what did...” Suddenly, what his Pokémon had done clicked with Matt. “Aggron as a species is far more defensive than Feraligatr! If we simply parry Feraligatr’s attacks with similar moves of our own, Feraligatr will end up defeating himself!” Undoing and opening his coat, Matt said to his Pokémon, “Good thinking, Tony! That’s how we’ll win!”

I noticed the first part of the battle you have Matt keep thinking aloud to himself. I think you don’t have to keep Matt saying his thoughts over the battles. You can easily mention his feelings and such through narrating.


What happened next was hard to describe. Patrick thought he saw Mamoswine clearly in the storm while he aimed Scald, and as far as Matt, Bunny, Nekou and Olivia all could see, there was no reason to doubt that. Just before the searing stream made contact, though, what appeared to be Mamoswine simply vanished, revealing itself to be little more than a mirage.

The bolded part sounds awkward in relation to narrative. Could be easily fixed by taking it out. The Snow Cloak ability is pretty cool, though.


“My third and last Pokémon,” Silver thought aloud. “To call this a win for myself, I must make everything I can out of this one. Mamoswine can’t do this alone, and if I want to get strong enough to defeat him, I have to be able to win battles like this…” Finally throwing the Poké Ball, he shouted, “Gengar, enter the battle!”

Here you go with the thought aloud again. :x

One other thing I noticed is you keep describing the Pokemon, which you don’t really have to considering the people reading are Pokemon fans and they already know how they look like.

Despite those mentions, I enjoyed the battle overall. Great Matt and Silver get the battle and I wasn’t disappointed. My favorite parts have to be Tony able to stand on his own and Nikola able to barely dodge the Guillotine. It’s also nice Olivia getting excited while watching the battle after still holding a grudge at the beginning of this chapter.


“Aaaaaaaah!” Nekou gasped after taking a sip from the can of beer in her hand. “This is the life, you know? Pizza, some friends to share it with, and…” Nekou shook the can and glanced to the rest of the six-pack resting on the couch next to her before finishing, “my old buddy with his five brothers to keep me company. It doesn’t get better than this.”

This is why I love you Nekou. <3

Looks like quite a few things are hinted upon this chapter, which is exciting. Looking forward to next chapter!

Skiyomi
12th September 2012, 10:49 PM
Hey there. I'm here from the review game with some comments on chapter 3. I haven't read the previous chapters, but I did read the information you offered in your post. So here I go...

I can't really say how well the start of the chapter worked as a follow up to the end of your last chapter since I haven't read it, but just as an opening in general, it works pretty well. You use the weather neatly to set up a forboding atmosphere, not just for whatever shady things the Rockets are up to, but for the events of the chapter. However you look at it, a storm is coming.

You've got some good description here in general, though I've noticed a few issues with it. First off, some of the details seem a little unnecessary. For example, taking the time to go over the controls on James's tablet computer--I didn't really find that the level of detail there did much. The second problem I've seen is that the description seems very localized and clumped--a new Pokemon or person will appear, there will be a paragraph explaining how they look and then we're pretty much done. I tend to find that this breaks the flow of the prose and stifles movement. I'd prefer if we just got a glimpse of description from the start, and then have further development as the scene goes on.


“As you were made aware of,” Pierce instructed,

I don't think you need the "of" there.


Almost immediately upon materializing, Oshawott proudly held up his shell, only flinching slightly when he realized that Zorua was staring at him. He realized that this would be his first chance to prove himself to his trainer, so he intended to make the best of it.

You’ve doubled up on “realized” here. In such close proximity, it would be better to use another synonym to avoid repetition.

I would like to see a little more “stage business” from the characters during extended scenes of dialogue since it really adds more of a sense of movement and tends to embody the characters more. Tone and blocking are important, and you’re taking care of that quite conscientiously, but I think some quality of gesture would give a greater sense of completion. I'm not saying you never include gesture/stage business, because you clearly do, but I feel like you could use more of it.

I’m kinda missing the heavy Brooklyn accent from Meowth. I suppose it’s not a necessity since it’s a dub thing, but if you’re trying to go for more of his English voice, then I’d expect more of his accent reflected his text. Otherwise you seem to be doing a really good job with his word choice and character.


Nekou handled it significantly more poorly. Even though she had only known Olivia for a little over a week, Nekou was already developing both sisterly and maternal instincts toward the girl, and an aggressive creature causing Olivia direct harm deeply violated those bonds. She flew into a screaming rage, viciously rushing Bisharp with her switchblade; however, she was unable to inflict much damage due to Bisharp fighting back.

I suppose for *my* benefit as a reader coming in at chapter 3 without having read any of what comes before, explaining Nekou’s regard for Olivia is helpful. But you shouldn’t need this. Her relationship with Olivia should be shown through her actions, not directly told to the reader through exposition. I can’t connect to the bond they have if you just tell me that’s what it is.


“If that fall would bang me up, though, think of what it would do to Olivia!”

The “though” seems unnecessary and kind of off to me here. I think you could nix it all together and not have to replace anything at all, but if you wanted to add something, I think a “then” in the place of “though” or a “But” at the beginning of the sentence would sound more natural.

When we get to Dante’s house and he and Matt start talking there’s a lot of it that makes me kind feel like we’ve arrived at “super convenient exposition time.” Part of this seems to be to recap things from your past stories (my guess, since I only read a bit of one of them), while the other part seems to be to establish Dante’s past. I realize that these are probably things you need to do, but, well, like I said, if feels a little convenient. Maybe I’ve just read too many stories now that I can sniff out backstory summary coming. I just prefer when it gets slipped into my food, so to speak, or teased out slowly instead of dumped on me in a way that feels more convenient to the plot than natural to the moment. It honestly came as quite a relief to me when Nekou interrupted them.


“I’d like to take you apart,” Nekou wryly commented at the exact moment Matt finished speaking. “Your insides sound fascinating.”

...Of course, the fact that it's a really good line made me all the happier :)


“Don’t forget me, I’m a woman of science,” Nekou piped up, before slyly adding, “Just because my science is a lot madder doesn’t disqualify me.”

And she’s two for two! I should probably stop and say that Nekou was the highlight of this for me. She's the strongest character in my estimation, gets the best lines, and keeps the reader on her toes because she can be unpredictable. Plus she keeps a switchblade in her blouse. That's, like, automatic character bonus-points right there :P

You clearly have some very complex plotting going on here and there's no shortage of intrigue--even just getting your backstory and the events of the chapter conveys that. So, nice to see. Good luck as you continue this project.

The Great Butler
15th September 2012, 9:57 AM
I'm going to split up my response into two posts because I want to have some extra space for my reply to Skiyomi.


I really love how you opened this chapter. You did an excellent job setting up a noir-ish atmosphere and I think that's the perfect atmosphere to really let Pierce's character shine, since he's so mysterious. You also did well using those scenes to show not everything is as it seems in your story's world and that there's a lot of ugliness. I also really enjoy how you bookended the rest of the chapter with those scenes- it really brought together the whole chapter. I'm hoping to learn more about the mysterious woman later- she sounds fascinating from what we know about her so far, and I'm already starting to love her even though we don't even know her name. The Pierce subplot is looking like it'll be quite the ride.

Thank you. I enjoyed writing those scenes and I think bookending the chapter with them was a good idea too. I like your comment about the scenes being "noir-ish" - I think I might use that idea for some more Pierce scenes.

Anyway, yes, this subplot is going to be a ride indeed. I hope you've bought your safety harness.


Good words of wisdom. The way Nekou is a role model for Olivia is really awesome and empowering and her advice might be a little on the vulgar side but it's always true. You're developing their relationship great- I think it's really realistic and it's fun to watch Olivia start taking cues from Nekou little by little. You can tell just by reading it's helping Olivia become more confident.

I think I was actually overplaying how familiar their relationship is at this point earlier on, so I'm working to dial it back just a bit. I hope to make their relationship feel a little more natural in the upcoming chapters.


The bit about the Pokemon Center services only being free to those with Pokedexes and starters is a fascinating deconstruction of the world, as well as an interesting little bit of social commentary (however unintentional it might be). I love the little touches you add in that show what happens to those other trainers we meet along the way in the games.

This is actually very intentional and something I would strongly advise you keep in mind as this story goes on.


Ghetsis' speech was terrifying and the fact he manages to get an entire Pokemon Center of people gathered around the television to watch it is even more so.

Another important point to remember. Also, there's more here than meets the eye, maybe...


I see what you did there, giving Pierce the codename Sam. I see it. I'm really wondering what it is Pierce has up his sleeve from these scenes, and I can't wait to find out in later chapters.

It's also a callback to something previous that some of you might have caught. On what he has up his sleeve, though, you might be able to piece it together soon enough.

Thanks for the interest.


Ghetsis in general... Ghetsis is TERRIFYING. It's clear he's completely unhinged and dangerous, and the way he treats Anthea and Concordia is really horrifying and messed up. Good to see you kept his cruelty completely intact.

I didn't just keep it intact, I think I dialed it up... what he did to Anthea and Concordia (that you've seen so far, anyway) is just the tip of the iceberg.


The Guide Gent is... odd. I'd be unsure of how to react to a man popping out of nowhere and offering to guide me around. Good work highlighting the frequent absurdity of the games.

Thanks. I used him because I wanted to use some less notable characters from the games, and I couldn't work in the Dude who teaches you how to catch Pokemon in the previous chapter.


NANDO'S BACK! I loved reading his battle with Dahlia, and how you characterized both of them well with their dialogue and actions. Both battles in this chapter- Nando vs. Dahlia and Matt vs Silver- are excellently written and suspenseful and the action in them flows wonderfully, as well as developing the characters involved nicely.

Thanks once again. It was nice to be able to write Nando again after a while. His battle with Dahlia was something I actually had in mind for a while.

I'm glad the Matt VS. Silver battle actually worked out as I wanted. Mamoswine was surprisingly challenging to write for.


The way Nekou keeps nagging about the pizza throughout the chapter is adorable. She loves good food.

Yes she does.


Silver and his portrayal in this chapter are amazing. At first I found him an irredeemable *******, but as you developed him during his battle with Matt, I started realizing that he's not so much an ******* as he is very serious about what he does, even if it means stepping on some toes. The Matt vs Silver battle was one of the most exciting battles I've ever read, and you did really well to keep the action flowing and unpredictable. It's clear Silver is going to be a serious rival in the story and I can't wait to see more about him. I really didn't see the twist with Silver coming at the end- obviously he's not worked out his little Team Rocket issue yet, but I never expected him to be working alongside Looker or at least keeping in contact with him for information.

I'm glad you see what I tried to do with Silver. I hope his motives came across fairly clearly here.

It should be interesting to see him going forward.


Nekou has the right idea. She finally got her pizza too! Girl needs her pizza and booze.

Gotta live the good life, right?


Overall, this was an excellent chapter, and you plotted it out really well. The action all flows naturally and the transitions are excellent, and the way you spaced scenes kept it interesting. I can't wait to see what's coming next.

Thank you very much! I think you'll continue to enjoy it, at least, I certainly hope you will.


Pretty interesting you have Pierce a Tenganist. I assume you’ll get a bit more in depth over that soon?

It's something that's going to be gradual. I don't have the progression of that plot point mapped out fully yet, but I have the basic ideas assembled.


I admit to laughing at Matt’s reaction over the Pokemon Center’s fee (and him being called youngster later on in the chapter, lol) .I always thought it’s free considering in the games it seems it’s free for the public, but that’s just me.

That's actually the point I was trying to raise: in almost every game, you receive a starter Pokemon and a Pokedex from a professor, meaning that you fulfill the conditions for free Center usage presented here by default. The only notable time I can think of this not being the case is in the Orre games, but Orre quite plainly doesn't follow the same customs as the other regions already.


You used gloomy twice within a couple paragraphs. Perhaps for second quote leave gloomy out? I do have to give you credit for describing the loud noise Ghetsis’s cane keep doing, very nice. Also, oh dear over the child and the woman from the earlier scene. D:

You're right, I didn't catch that double use of "gloomy." My mistake.

I wanted the Ghetsis scene to be very atmospheric, so sound was just as important as visual cues there.

You better warm up that emoticon for her subplot. You're gonna need it.


Yay for Nando appearing! As much as I enjoyed the battle a lot, I feel you can leave out the first part of Nando and Dahlia’s battle, or least show the end of it, and go straight with Zapdos (considering Matt will go against Dahlia) so the plot goes at a slight faster pace, but that’s just me.

Well, two points, actually. Matt may be one of the main characters, but I want the story to have a wider focus than just the main protagonists and antagonists, so I felt it appropriate to give Nando a strong establishing scene. Also, since the scoreboards in the Battle Arcade show each trainer's Pokemon in advance, the surprise about Zapdos would have been ruined if I waited; so, the reason why I used the Ludicolo battle as well was not only to establish Nando but set up and resolve the surprise of Zapdos in this chapter all at once.


Awwwwww. :3

Yes, that is how you should feel. ^^


Maybe it’s just me, but confess seems to me Dante admires him a little too much, LOL. In all seriousness though, I think said or respond would be better to not give that kind of indication.

I'm going to select my words carefully here, but it is more than a simple compliment, just not in the way you seem to be thinking. Therefore, I feel "confessed" is appropriate.


I noticed the first part of the battle you have Matt keep thinking aloud to himself. I think you don’t have to keep Matt saying his thoughts over the battles. You can easily mention his feelings and such through narrating.

Hmm, I suppose you have a point. I guess I still have a bit to break myself into.


The bolded part sounds awkward in relation to narrative. Could be easily fixed by taking it out. The Snow Cloak ability is pretty cool, though.

I had a lot of difficulty working out what to say there. I feel as if it does need some sort of wording to indicate in what direction that line is going, but I definitely agree that I could have done it better than I did...


One other thing I noticed is you keep describing the Pokemon, which you don’t really have to considering the people reading are Pokemon fans and they already know how they look like.

I actually have a rule that I try to follow which I developed years ago when I started writing. That rule is to always describe the Pokemon of the newest generation in more detail than older Pokemon. I do see ways I could diversify the methods of description for older Pokemon, but for Generation 5 - which has a rather divided public opinion - there's a good chance some people may not be familiar at all with the new Pokemon, which makes it a mistake to rely on assumptions for images, I think.


Despite those mentions, I enjoyed the battle overall. Great Matt and Silver get the battle and I wasn’t disappointed. My favorite parts have to be Tony able to stand on his own and Nikola able to barely dodge the Guillotine. It’s also nice Olivia getting excited while watching the battle after still holding a grudge at the beginning of this chapter.

Thank you, it's nice to receive praise for something I worked hard on.

Although, I wouldn't say Olivia had a "grudge." She's just really moody right now after her first day of being a trainer ended with her falling off a cliff and breaking her leg.


This is why I love you Nekou. <3

Precisely. XD;

She is not shy about liking self-indulgences.


Looks like quite a few things are hinted upon this chapter, which is exciting. Looking forward to next chapter!

Correct, and thank you for continuing to be interested!

The Great Butler
15th September 2012, 10:30 AM
Hey there. I'm here from the review game with some comments on chapter 3. I haven't read the previous chapters, but I did read the information you offered in your post. So here I go...

Welcome, then! I've seen you around for a while now, so it ought to be very interesting to see what you've got to say here.


I can't really say how well the start of the chapter worked as a follow up to the end of your last chapter since I haven't read it, but just as an opening in general, it works pretty well. You use the weather neatly to set up a forboding atmosphere, not just for whatever shady things the Rockets are up to, but for the events of the chapter. However you look at it, a storm is coming.

Ah, a very keen observation. There are certainly a few layers to what you see in this scene, and you've skillfully picked up on them. Well done.


You've got some good description here in general, though I've noticed a few issues with it. First off, some of the details seem a little unnecessary. For example, taking the time to go over the controls on James's tablet computer--I didn't really find that the level of detail there did much. The second problem I've seen is that the description seems very localized and clumped--a new Pokemon or person will appear, there will be a paragraph explaining how they look and then we're pretty much done. I tend to find that this breaks the flow of the prose and stifles movement. I'd prefer if we just got a glimpse of description from the start, and then have further development as the scene goes on.

In hindsight, I definitely see your point. It was a failed attempt at a shout-out (http://leviathyn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wii-u-pad-black-600x300.jpg?9d7bd4).

In general, description structure is something I personally identify as one of my chief weak points. I've already been trying to incorporate what you pointed out, but clearly I haven't been doing well enough. That's something I absolutely needed to hear. I know exactly what you're talking about and I'll work even harder at it.


I don't think you need the "of" there.

I can see your point there.


You’ve doubled up on “realized” here. In such close proximity, it would be better to use another synonym to avoid repetition.

That makes sense. I'm by no means anywhere near perfect, so I appreciate the input.


I would like to see a little more “stage business” from the characters during extended scenes of dialogue since it really adds more of a sense of movement and tends to embody the characters more. Tone and blocking are important, and you’re taking care of that quite conscientiously, but I think some quality of gesture would give a greater sense of completion. I'm not saying you never include gesture/stage business, because you clearly do, but I feel like you could use more of it.

Agreed. I've already begun trying to take this into account with the work I've done on the next chapter.


I’m kinda missing the heavy Brooklyn accent from Meowth. I suppose it’s not a necessity since it’s a dub thing, but if you’re trying to go for more of his English voice, then I’d expect more of his accent reflected his text. Otherwise you seem to be doing a really good job with his word choice and character.

Now, this is where it's going to wade into opinion territory, unfortunately. For one, I feel that his accent does not translate well to a text medium, which would cause the reader to see things he says as humorous or silly even when not because of how strange it looks. Second, I feel that the accent was part of what the late Maddie Blaustein really invested into to make iconic with Meowth, and I prefer to not even use the pretext of someone else trying to imitate it.

I've tried to adapt his speaking style and speech patterns as closely as I can, and from what you say, I think I must be doing an okay job of it. I'd prefer to keep it there if possible.


I suppose for *my* benefit as a reader coming in at chapter 3 without having read any of what comes before, explaining Nekou’s regard for Olivia is helpful. But you shouldn’t need this. Her relationship with Olivia should be shown through her actions, not directly told to the reader through exposition. I can’t connect to the bond they have if you just tell me that’s what it is.

I already have an idea of something I can do in the next chapter to at least right this little mistake going forward, so thank you for the advice.


The “though” seems unnecessary and kind of off to me here. I think you could nix it all together and not have to replace anything at all, but if you wanted to add something, I think a “then” in the place of “though” or a “But” at the beginning of the sentence would sound more natural.

Looking at it now, you're exactly right.

Word usage and description tends to be one of my weaknesses, but I'm working on it, as I've alluded to earlier.


When we get to Dante’s house and he and Matt start talking there’s a lot of it that makes me kind feel like we’ve arrived at “super convenient exposition time.” Part of this seems to be to recap things from your past stories (my guess, since I only read a bit of one of them), while the other part seems to be to establish Dante’s past. I realize that these are probably things you need to do, but, well, like I said, if feels a little convenient. Maybe I’ve just read too many stories now that I can sniff out backstory summary coming. I just prefer when it gets slipped into my food, so to speak, or teased out slowly instead of dumped on me in a way that feels more convenient to the plot than natural to the moment. It honestly came as quite a relief to me when Nekou interrupted them.

Now, I'm going to have to disagree with you but only halfway here. One thing I've been trying extremely hard to do is make this story accessible to readers who don't have time to read the previous stories, and I personally don't feel that most readers would be willing to wait for all the details about the previous chaos they've been wrapped up in to be described gradually while they don't understand the characters' motivations. I hope I'm not underestimating my readers and potential readers, though, because that would be very embarrassing and probably offensive to them.

I can see how Dante's story could have been spread out over some longer period of time, though.


...Of course, the fact that it's a really good line made me all the happier :)

Plenty more where that came from. ^^;


And she’s two for two! I should probably stop and say that Nekou was the highlight of this for me. She's the strongest character in my estimation, gets the best lines, and keeps the reader on her toes because she can be unpredictable. Plus she keeps a switchblade in her blouse. That's, like, automatic character bonus-points right there :P

Besides the fact that these things should make her an entertaining character, I want to go for something a little deeper here through use of her so drastically different behavior compared to just about every other character. Contrast her wild personality against the introverted, regret-ridden Matt, straight-laced Bunny and Olivia, who is still growing up and hasn't fully found a role for herself yet. In a sense, Nekou is not only a character but a catalyst for the characters around her to evolve past their initial definitions.


You clearly have some very complex plotting going on here and there's no shortage of intrigue--even just getting your backstory and the events of the chapter conveys that. So, nice to see. Good luck as you continue this project.

Thank you very much for this comment and for your overwhelmingly kind and generous review overall! I hope I'll see you here again sometime - your input was very informative and helpful.

Morpher01
15th September 2012, 1:38 PM
Well, review time again.


Pierce is definitely planning something with that homeless woman (who may or may not actually be the Kiss of Death killer). That's probably just taking a stab in the dark, but it's something (weird).

Ah, Nando's back, with a Leavanny and Exploud to boot! Quite an interesting battle he had with Dahlia, and the fact that they both made it into a Contest battle definitely added some flavor. Wonder when he'll be meeting up with the main group? Fairly soon, I'd wager.

Silver also returns...good battle with Matt, too. I have to confess that I didn't remember that Gen V made Rotom's type change with the form it took, so I initially thought that Gengar's Metronome-spawned Guillotine wouldn't affect it. And then I looked in the Pokedex. XD Fail on my part. Interesting choice giving Silver a Mamoswine. I have to agree with Nekou and say that it fits, giving Silver's lineage. And I see he's still "working" with Looker. Have to wonder how long Silver can tolerate Looker's unique speech pattern.


“Don’t you worry, Olivia, you’ll recover soon,” Nekou assured the younger girl. “Once you do, the Pokémon will still be here for you to play with all you want. I don’t want to see you stressing out over anything, so let’s just enjoy the pizza, okay?”

Why do I get the feeling that the bolded part will turn out to be completely untrue? I just get that feeling when I read stuff now. XD I don't know why.


Well, it'll be interesting to see where Matt's battle with Dahlia takes him, and how he deals with her Zapdos (and whatever other Legendaries that the remaining Frontier Brains dish out). Keep up the good work!

The Great Butler
17th September 2012, 9:51 AM
Pierce is definitely planning something with that homeless woman (who may or may not actually be the Kiss of Death killer). That's probably just taking a stab in the dark, but it's something (weird).

It certainly is something, isn't it?

I wouldn't tell you whether or not you guessed it correctly even if you did. Or would I?


Ah, Nando's back, with a Leavanny and Exploud to boot! Quite an interesting battle he had with Dahlia, and the fact that they both made it into a Contest battle definitely added some flavor. Wonder when he'll be meeting up with the main group? Fairly soon, I'd wager.

"Fairly soon" is about right... it'll be in a couple of chapters or so.


Silver also returns...good battle with Matt, too. I have to confess that I didn't remember that Gen V made Rotom's type change with the form it took, so I initially thought that Gengar's Metronome-spawned Guillotine wouldn't affect it.

Yeah, that's an important change to remember. I think it was a good choice on the part of the games, too - Rotom's become much more usable since this generation started.


Interesting choice giving Silver a Mamoswine. I have to agree with Nekou and say that it fits, giving Silver's lineage.

It also is partially Ice-type. Ice is super-effective against Ground.


And I see he's still "working" with Looker. Have to wonder how long Silver can tolerate Looker's unique speech pattern.

You're implying he ever did. XD;

In all seriousness, though, Looker and Silver are both using each other, they're both aware of such and neither really cares. By cooperating with Looker, Silver gets to take out Team Rocket, and by exploiting Silver's desires of revenge, Looker has someone doing his dirty work mopping up the remnants of Team Rocket. They both win.


Why do I get the feeling that the bolded part will turn out to be completely untrue? I just get that feeling when I read stuff now. XD I don't know why.

Because I've trained you well. Heh heh heh...


Well, it'll be interesting to see where Matt's battle with Dahlia takes him, and how he deals with her Zapdos (and whatever other Legendaries that the remaining Frontier Brains dish out). Keep up the good work!

I think you'll enjoy the battle, definitely.

Thanks!

JX Valentine
20th September 2012, 6:17 PM
So, sort of on the same line as my other reviews, I'm just going to tackle the most recent chapter because I'd probably be here forever if I tackled every single one. Also, this is going to be more of a general/reaction-to-plot review than a nitpicking review. In general, your grammar is pretty clean, so there's not really that much to worry about in terms of that anyway.

In any case, let's get started, shall we?


Cherrygrove City was a busy city on a coastline, larger than New Bark Town but still smaller than many of the other metropolis-size cities on the continent. Few of its buildings reached comparable heights to the skyscrapers those cities had, but Cherrygrove’s buildings – both residential apartment complexes and commercial centers – were enough to pack plenty into the small area of land the city actually occupied.

One of the things I've noticed about your writing is the wordiness at times. I know it's very difficult to keep this kind of thing from happening, but try to avoid awkward wording whenever possible. If you're not reading your chapters aloud, it might help to do so.

In this case, for example, you've got a misplaced modifier; on a first read-through, a reader might think you're saying that the coastline was larger than New Bark but smaller than many of the other metropolis-size cities. Remember that a dependent clause following a comma is often attached to the first noun before the aforementioned comma.

The second sentence, meanwhile, is plagued by the question of "plenty of what?" It might help to think of it like this: your readers are going into your story with a blank slate, so you'll need to describe as much as possible to get your ideas across. Likewise, be very careful with how you word things as well to avoid any awkward phrasing that seems vaguer than you intended.


“The circumstances of our lives are not easily controlled. My Tenganist heritage is not something I was raised in, as you were. Now, about the offer we can provide you…”

Going to have to agree with what's already been said about making Pierce Tenganist. It adds a lot of depth to his character, particularly given the fact that the anime doesn't give us much in the way of characterization for him.

In general, I love that you're using canon characters. A lot of people these days scoff at the thought of doing that, but if it's pulled off well, then it becomes a showcase of the author's talent – especially if they're writing in the anime universe. I mean, the anime does a poor job of providing backstory and personalities for characters, so to do so and to do it in a way that makes sense for what we see of the characters shows that a writer can be flexible and competent with characterization all in one go.

That and it appeals to the fangirl side of certain folks (like yours truly). On that note, I have to say I'm really excited about seeing the actual Jessie, James, and Meowth in this fic. Not too many people include them (and most people include badly done rip-offs of them), so it'll be fun to read an actual fic with them as main characters – preferably in-character… which they are so far, by the by. (I also have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the scene where they were recruited from their flower shop. It was really cute to see them actually having a legit lifestyle – as in, attempting to make an honest living – before they were dragged right back into Rocket shenanigans. They would live like that, and besides that, that scene gave them a lot of depth for moments like this, where Jessie just wants to get it over with, James is nervous, and Meowth is completely okay with being a part of the Rockets' plan.)


“The last thing on my mind is a Gym battle. I’m a disgrace.”

Okay, I might have to be blunt for a bit here, and I'm really sorry to say this. I just don't really feel all that attached to Olivia. Back when we were first introduced to her in the XD series, it just felt like she was a stereotypical little kid, a kind of Scrappy Doo for the cast. She didn't really have much development past the whole cute thing.

Now, we're on the Operation GEAR series, and I have to say she does have more depth, but I don't really know what to feel about her. There are times when she curses out Matt or mimics Nekou's vulgarity, and at those times, I'm on the fence. On the one hand, a teenager would try to emulate something she thinks is cool; on the other, it's sometimes tiring to read two characters with basically the same personality.

Not to mention there's also the discipline issue. Olivia's still a kid, but people are completely okay with her mouthing off at her parental figure. But the parental figure bit is also a bit weird because no one's told her that her dad's dead. I'll admit I've lost track of exactly how old she is at this point, but wouldn't someone have told her, "Oh, well, your dad isn't coming back because he's sort of dead"? Her entire goal is focused on not only finding Rich but also getting his attention or at least doing the equivalent of *****slapping him. Sure, it was mentioned earlier that this gives her fuel to live, but… she's surrounded by people who care about her. She's a trainer. A professor has recruited her to help in her research. Heck, even the subjects she's studying would give her some sense of passion. The point is, she's got plenty to live for, so letting her spend a lot of effort tracking down someone who's dead (someone she's meant to love and respect, given that he's her father and a hero) seems crueler than just saying, "I'm really sorry, Olivia, but he's dead. But it's okay because he would have wanted you to live a fulfilling life, and we care about you." Also, there's the fact that she's old enough to comprehend what death is, so it's almost an insult to her intelligence that they're keeping that from her and letting her continue to work towards that particular goal.

But the reason why I'm pulling this particular quote is because she just seems so defeatist and negative. She basically threw a temper tantrum over the fact that she wasn't able to get a Totodile, for starters. For another, when she fell and broke her leg, she was crying because she was defeated, not because, well, breaking your bones hurts like a mother. At this point, she's just berating herself. Yet all that's happened is she got an unexpected starter and nearly got killed. It was the first adventure she's had, and she made it out alive. I mean, Ash pretty much had the same situation happen to him. He got an unexpected starter and nearly got killed. Multiple times, in fact, including one instance where he had to come to terms that he was a selfish idiot (because he nearly had his Metapod killed in the process due to his stupidity). Yet, he still got up and walked onward. I'm not saying that you should have a carbon copy of Ash. (In fact, I encourage you to avoid that.) I'm just wondering why Olivia is acting like it's the end of the world and the end of her journey for her when, well, it just began. She's been through a lot already, so why does this break her? I just feel like not everyone should break down over every negative experience. Certainly, some people would, but it tends to happen a little more frequently than usual with your cast. (It certainly happened a lot with the XD series. It hasn't happened quite as often with the Operation GEAR casts, although Matt has a tendency to do it too. And, well, there's also Anabel, but anyway.)

On the other hand, I wonder if you're trying to say something about her – like she's trying to represent someone who's not exactly typical. But that's a side thought.


As soon as Matt said those words, the smile on the nurse’s face began to slowly fade. “Then in that case, the charge will be three hundred dollars.”

And I love you.

One of your stronger storytelling points is your worldbuilding abilities, definitely, and this is one of them. I like reading what people have to say about the way the Pokémon world works, and it's interesting that you're tackling the one thing pretty much no one talks about – how Pokémon centers work in terms of funding and the billing system. It's very interesting that the service is free to trainers with a 'dex and a starter. The explanation fits canon perfectly, and it's completely believable from what we've seen of the main game characters.

There's just one little question, though, and that's, "How often do trainers get Pokédexes?" Some of the lines of dialogue in the games (especially in Gen I and FRLG) imply that the 'dex is actually a rare item, and in the animeverse, only people who met with a professor to start a journey received one. The problem lies in the fact that not everyone started their journey by meeting a professor, so you have people like Misty and Brock who might not have had a 'dex. It'd be interesting if this part would be expanded just a bit or at least if the idea could address who can receive a 'dex, who gives out 'dexes, and so forth.


The ideals we as older generations push upon our successors in this world are forcing our children to put themselves in dangerous, difficult positions.


Polaris is pursuing that truth.

I see what you did there.


He was someone she knew from five years ago, a man who indulged in both battles and the far showier Pokémon Contests. She didn’t know him to have the Pokémon he was now using, Leavanny, but it fit in with what she knew of his preferences, which tended toward Grass-types, Bug-types and Pokémon with musical ties.

I keep going back and forth between moments like these. You do this often enough when introducing characters: you either stop the narration to describe their looks or stop the narration to describe facts like these. The information you bring up is important to know for the most part (although probably not so much if Nando isn't going to be a major character in this story), so in that sense, I'm somewhat more okay with the fact that it's brought up. On the other, I'm also not completely comfortable with the transitions. It's very difficult to pull off an info drop (that is, stopping the narration to talk about something or feed a reader information) because of the fact that you're disrupting the flow of the chapter to do so. It's usually better to integrate information like this into the story, usually whenever appropriate. (In this case, perhaps having a character bring up Nando's Pokémon preferences themselves would do it.) Otherwise, it just sticks out like a nail in the floorboards.

That and in general, the transition could be smoothed out a bit. You go from talking about his preferences in team members to Matt's line, so there's very little to help ease the reader from topic to topic there.


The Arcade Star was a tall, thin woman whose skin showed a tan. Her clothing – a midriff-exposing yellow shirt and a pair of blue jeans – was so tight it left little to the imagination, and her messy, black, tendril-like hair wrapped around her as if it had a mind of its own as she danced.

This is what I meant by pausing the action to describe a person, by the by. Considering this is a very action-oriented scene (given that it's a battle), it would be better if you linked descriptions of the character to her actions. For example, instead of simply telling us that she was a tall, thin woman and so forth, you could say something along the lines of:

The tall, lithe woman leaned back as a smirk crossed her thin, tanned face. One of her hands slipped up the leg of her tight-fitting jeans until it rested on the curve of her hip as the other pulled a black tendril of her hair out of her golden eyes. The rest of her dark hair writhed around her as she moved, brushing across the taut, yellow cotton of her top and the swarthy flesh of her midriff with each tiny shift of her body. In all ways, she looked like a snake – all to catch her opponent off-guard.

Sure, that still pauses the action a little, but these are easier to break apart. As in, you don't have to describe her in one go. Instead, you can take one sentence of this and use it in her introduction. Then, maybe further down the line, you'll be able to use the sentence that describes her hair writhing around her when it feels more appropriate for her to move in a way that would cause it to do that. Maybe at another point, she puts her hands on her hips in frustration, which allows you to use the line about her hips. Or you could keep the paragraph intact, and it would still be a little less obvious that you're describing her because she's still doing something – as in, you're not really stopping the action just to describe her.

The key in this case is to make it less and less obvious that you're launching into a detailed description. The more you tie each detail with an action, the more subtle it becomes until it turns into just another fragment of the story, if that makes sense.


The resulting explosion not only threw Leavanny back, it also created a gust of wind that visibly disturbed Nando’s long black hair and green cape.

This is more of an example of how description is best done, actually. It's integrated with action so that the story doesn't stop just to describe Nando.


“Leavanny, grab Ludicolo.”

Much to Dahlia’s surprise, Leavanny effectively followed this direction, pinning Ludicolo in his grip. With her Grass-and-Water-type Pokémon frantically trying to escape its enemy, Dahlia exclaimed, “What?”

One of the many things I have to give you credit for is the way you get across creativity in battle. Not too many people remember that battles aren't just a couple of people duking it out on a generic field wherein nothing but attacks can be used to one's advantage. I know that there was an instance in the last chapter where Olivia took advantage of the layout of the field (i.e., the fact that Zorua was using Dig) to attack, and in this instance, you have Nando make a move that isn't just another attack. It makes battles more interesting because it's no longer possible to predict exactly what characters are going to do. They could very well attack directly, or they could manipulate the field or put themselves into a new strategic position or a million other different things.

In short, battles aren't predictable or repetitive in this fic, and that's something I appreciate because not a lot of people know how to keep battles from being predictable or repetitive. It's very refreshing to see a match be something other than Pokémon A uses Move B on Pokémon C over and over again, and it keeps things suspenseful and exciting to read.

(See, kids? Battles can be interesting to write about and read, even if they're not climactic battles. You just have to do them correctly.)


“And now it is time for my finishing move~”

…But shame on you for tilde abuse.


Nando was left briefly stunned when, instead of the frontal counterattack he was expected, Zapdos twirled through the air to get behind Leavanny. Even Zapdos’s movements, which were as agile and fluid as its trainer’s, exuded power.

“It makes sense, a dancer training their Pokémon to reflect their personal style.” Nando’s voice was calm once again, but this time, it was because he was seemingly resigning himself to his fate. “Repel it with Leaf Storm, please.”

However, I do have to comment about pacing here. I know that Trick Room is in effect, but at the same time, it seems a bit off that Nando would have time to meditate and think about what was going on while Zapdos is launching an attack. Attacks are still fairly quick unless there happened to be a lot of distance between Zapdos and Leavanny, so I'm having some difficulty picturing exactly what's going on here.

Just remember that it's okay to fudge game mechanics a little. That includes the turn-based system.

Also, we were talking privately about how you might trim a chapter, and if you're still interested, this may be a good example. See, chapters should only contain enough information to drive the story forward. While Nando's battle with Dahlia does convince Matt that he needs to train, it might not have been necessary to show all of the battle. Sure, the attacks were beautifully described and the strategies were fascinating to read, but it also seemed out-of-place, considering Nando doesn't immediately have anything to do with the rest of the cast. As in, the only thing that affects Matt and company in this scene is Nando's victory; even if Matt had only seen Exploud versus Zapdos instead of Leavanny's matches, the outcome would have been the same because a sample of Nando's talent is still encapsulated in the very last match of the battle. So, you could actually distill the battle down to just the last part (Exploud vs. Zapdos) and still have it inspire Matt. That makes whatever came before it rather superfluous, and superfluous information just adds to your page count while serving as a distraction from the main point.

Of course, if you want to keep that part of the battle in, it can probably also be left in without making the chapter feel like it's dragging on, but it's definitely an option when it comes to trimming things down.


Tony’s Double-Edge had more of an effect on Feraligatr than either Matt or Silver realized, however. The hulking Water-type could not carry out his orders immediately due to the fact that he was having difficulty maintaining his balance after the blow he’d received.

Be careful. Don't fall into the trap of telling instead of showing, and this is actually one case of it. Instead of showing us Feraligatr struggling to move, maybe wincing and hunching over as he steadied himself (or something along those lines to show that Feraligatr is struggling after the Double-Edge), you simply tell us that he's hesitating because of the attack. That's one thing I've noticed now and then: you say "due to" and then launch into an explanation, and that's something that you may want to phase out of your writing because it makes it easier for you to tell instead of show.


Matt’s direction gave Nikola the confidence it was lacking, and spurred it to overrun Mamoswine with a massive Blizzard. The concentrated storm packed so much force that it actually flung Mamoswine out of her path and crashed her to the floor.

Mamoswine did not stand up again.

I also have to appreciate the fact that you realize a battle needs to be drawn out. Tying in with the idea that your battles aren't just Pokémon A uses Move B against Pokémon C, Pokémon don't just knock each other out with a couple of hits. That makes battles all the more exciting because it's just not something that happens in fanfiction for some reason. Maybe it's because people just don't want to spend that much time on battles, or maybe it's just because people are eager to get to the end because they already know the outcome. Either way, it's different to see a battle that's drawn out over a messload of pages, and while I had a feeling Matt would win, it was still a satisfying read.

Now, okay, I have to say that I knew Matt would win, and it's because of something I told you in private about the XD series a long time ago. Namely, there's a definite lean towards the protagonist. As in, I think it's pretty rare to have one of your main characters lose, and when it happens, it's devastating. For example, one of the first battles we've seen in this particular fic had Olivia winning despite using low-leveled (for the most part) Pokémon. The only time she lost a fight of some kind was when she had to be given a reason to beat herself up (i.e., the fight against the Bisharp army). More recently, Nando wins against a legendary owned by a Frontier Brain – which, okay, is something Ash has been known to do, but still. Before that, I can't really think of any moments where the main characters have actually lost a battle except for one instance in XD^3.

It's really just something I noticed, and it could just be me (as in, maybe I'm forgetting instances everywhere wherein a main protagonist loses a match). If it's not just me, though, let me just say that the story is still enjoyable either way, but it would be cool to get some variety so that it's a little bit harder to predict. That and it might be more satisfying to read about moments when a character nets a victory if their win-loss ratio was a bit more even.

Another thing I noticed? I thought it was unusual that you were going for game portrayals of moves instead of anime portrayals (like in the case of Venoshock), but that's really just your preference. It does strike me as curious either way, though, so… there's that.


Overall, it's really not a bad story. The pacing is well done (even though you could cut some material out if you wanted to), and the premise is pretty riveting. Not only that, but you have a knack for taking canon characters and making them deep and interesting while still being spot-on. Not to mention your battles are frequently well-described and exciting – not at all turn-based or game-like. In that sense, this is actually a pretty good fic.

It's just that there's some bits centering around the characters that could be worked out. For example, there's the tendency to stop all narration to describe a character. For another, there's the fact that the protagonists have an inordinately high chance of winning a battle, which tends to make the fight scenes slightly predictable.

But more than that, I have to say I'm undecided about a lot of your OCs. There are times when I really like what you do with them. (For example, Matt is one of my favorite characters right now because he feels like such an underdog despite the fact that he's pretty competent. Satsukoro was one of my favorites in the XD series because of his complex backstory.) On the other, some of your characters are also difficult for me to like. (I'm not fond of Nekou because I don't see her as badass as much as immature – like a teenage boy trying to convince me that he's awesome, and I'm not fond of Olivia because of how she used to be a childlike stereotype and is now prone to tantrums and teenage angst.) I'm not quite sure how to feel about your villains either (because almost all of them turn out to be psychotic and violent). I'm not quite sure what you can take away from this comment or how you might be able to improve on your weaker characters, given that it's pretty late in the series for all of them; I just wanted to get it out there that basically the only thing that might be affecting the quality of your fic are some of the OCs' personalities.

Of course, this is literally the only thing. Shrugging off the typos, you've done some impressive work with canon characters, battles, and descriptions in general (and not just of characters), and that much is what a lot of writers fail to do. That's where the strong points of your fic lie, and I honestly think your story still works because in the end, that list embodies basically most of the spirit of Operation GEAR. You can still work with the OCs you've got. (And to be fair, they're a lot deeper than a number of other OCs out there; they just hit my "these kinds of people annoy the **** out of me" button. …Which may actually be a good thing because I'm annoyed because of their personalities, not because they're flat characters.) That's because in the end, you still have a story that stands up on its own.

So in that sense, this story isn't that bad. I'll definitely keep an eye on it.

The Great Butler
21st September 2012, 10:09 AM
So, sort of on the same line as my other reviews, I'm just going to tackle the most recent chapter because I'd probably be here forever if I tackled every single one. Also, this is going to be more of a general/reaction-to-plot review than a nitpicking review. In general, your grammar is pretty clean, so there's not really that much to worry about in terms of that anyway.

In any case, let's get started, shall we?

Oh boy, the most nerve-wracking time is here XD;

Just kidding.


One of the things I've noticed about your writing is the wordiness at times. I know it's very difficult to keep this kind of thing from happening, but try to avoid awkward wording whenever possible. If you're not reading your chapters aloud, it might help to do so.

I do do that sometimes, but I'm not sure I'm completely seeing what you mean in this part specifically, unless you mean the two uses of "buildings" in the same sentence which is something I just caught myself.


In this case, for example, you've got a misplaced modifier; on a first read-through, a reader might think you're saying that the coastline was larger than New Bark but smaller than many of the other metropolis-size cities. Remember that a dependent clause following a comma is often attached to the first noun before the aforementioned comma.

I had to read the line several times to see what you meant, and I do see it now. I think it does hold true either way (whether you're referring to the coastline only or the entire city) but I don't think I can honestly promise to do all that much about it. The sentence sounded perfectly fine to me until I reread it several times times and finally spotted the poor wording, so I don't know how easy it will be for me to catch it next time. I'd like to, but I can't promise it.


The second sentence, meanwhile, is plagued by the question of "plenty of what?" It might help to think of it like this: your readers are going into your story with a blank slate, so you'll need to describe as much as possible to get your ideas across. Likewise, be very careful with how you word things as well to avoid any awkward phrasing that seems vaguer than you intended.

This one, however, is something I can clearly see now. That sentence is a muddled mess. I can completely see it and I'm not sure how that happened. That is completely fixable and avoidable, which I'll do my best to do.


Going to have to agree with what's already been said about making Pierce Tenganist. It adds a lot of depth to his character, particularly given the fact that the anime doesn't give us much in the way of characterization for him.

Thank you!

I've got more in store for him. Developing it was something I enjoyed quite a bit, and I think it should work out to make him interesting enough. He has his place in everything.


In general, I love that you're using canon characters. A lot of people these days scoff at the thought of doing that, but if it's pulled off well, then it becomes a showcase of the author's talent – especially if they're writing in the anime universe. I mean, the anime does a poor job of providing backstory and personalities for characters, so to do so and to do it in a way that makes sense for what we see of the characters shows that a writer can be flexible and competent with characterization all in one go.

Coming from you, with the great care you put into expanding the characters of Bill and Lanette (for example), I do take that as quite a compliment. Perhaps it's because I enjoy fitting existing characters that lack much specific characterization into a larger plot that allows them to shine more, but taking existing characters and expanding their roles is just something I like doing.

Perhaps I should clarify here though that this is not strictly anime universe, it's an AU that takes elements of the anime and the games together. I'm doing this because I feel both have strengths that I can combine for greater effect than simply using one or the other alone.


That and it appeals to the fangirl side of certain folks (like yours truly). On that note, I have to say I'm really excited about seeing the actual Jessie, James, and Meowth in this fic. Not too many people include them (and most people include badly done rip-offs of them), so it'll be fun to read an actual fic with them as main characters – preferably in-character… which they are so far, by the by. (I also have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the scene where they were recruited from their flower shop. It was really cute to see them actually having a legit lifestyle – as in, attempting to make an honest living – before they were dragged right back into Rocket shenanigans. They would live like that, and besides that, that scene gave them a lot of depth for moments like this, where Jessie just wants to get it over with, James is nervous, and Meowth is completely okay with being a part of the Rockets' plan.)

You literally cannot understand how much of a relief it is to hear this in such detail. Seriously.

I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to properly balance out some humor with their abilities from Best Wishes!. Especially with the riots this generation over how the trio should be depicted, with the possibility being raised of going back to the (in my opinion) repetitive and unfunny DP versions. I wanted so badly to try to show a way to depict them that doesn't fall into either extreme.

I wouldn't necessarily categorize them as "main characters," as a few of the other remaining Rockets will appear later; one angle from BW I'm trying to play up is the "team" in "Team Rocket." But yes, there won't be Expys of them in Polaris or anything. The "Jessie, James and Meowth" role here will be filled by Jessie, James and Meowth and no one else.

I'm glad you liked that scene, too. I'm not sure what I can say about it, but it's something that I hoped people would like.


Okay, I might have to be blunt for a bit here, and I'm really sorry to say this. I just don't really feel all that attached to Olivia. Back when we were first introduced to her in the XD series, it just felt like she was a stereotypical little kid, a kind of Scrappy Doo for the cast. She didn't really have much development past the whole cute thing.

I'm not really bothered by you saying that, because quite honestly, I can see exactly why you wouldn't necessarily connect with her yet. I think she has to hit rock bottom before these things can begin to get better; the illusion has to be shattered before progress can be made, and I can tell you, it's coming.


Now, we're on the Operation GEAR series, and I have to say she does have more depth, but I don't really know what to feel about her. There are times when she curses out Matt or mimics Nekou's vulgarity, and at those times, I'm on the fence. On the one hand, a teenager would try to emulate something she thinks is cool; on the other, it's sometimes tiring to read two characters with basically the same personality.

Understandable, already putting some work into it.


Not to mention there's also the discipline issue. Olivia's still a kid, but people are completely okay with her mouthing off at her parental figure. But the parental figure bit is also a bit weird because no one's told her that her dad's dead. I'll admit I've lost track of exactly how old she is at this point, but wouldn't someone have told her, "Oh, well, your dad isn't coming back because he's sort of dead"? Her entire goal is focused on not only finding Rich but also getting his attention or at least doing the equivalent of *****slapping him. Sure, it was mentioned earlier that this gives her fuel to live, but… she's surrounded by people who care about her. She's a trainer. A professor has recruited her to help in her research. Heck, even the subjects she's studying would give her some sense of passion. The point is, she's got plenty to live for, so letting her spend a lot of effort tracking down someone who's dead (someone she's meant to love and respect, given that he's her father and a hero) seems crueler than just saying, "I'm really sorry, Olivia, but he's dead. But it's okay because he would have wanted you to live a fulfilling life, and we care about you." Also, there's the fact that she's old enough to comprehend what death is, so it's almost an insult to her intelligence that they're keeping that from her and letting her continue to work towards that particular goal.

I want to preface this by saying that I do agree with you.

What I want to say as a larger point, though, is that to a degree this is how I wanted it to go this early. I wanted this because I wanted to emphasize how terrible a situation Olivia is in without even really being aware and also emphasize just how much Matt failed to really do what had to be done when he was given a responsibility he couldn't handle. He didn't want to feel responsible for disillusioning her (or whatever he feared would happen) so he made the worse choice and kicked the can down the road. That's something I really wanted to put focus on immediately - these aren't flawless characters. They've made major mistakes and caused others serious harm through them. That's a huge part of why Matt is so downcast on himself, because he's aware he screwed up but finds himself trapped in a (seemingly) impossible situation.

Things have to be broken here before they can be fixed, I think. This isn't where the characters should be at the end, obviously. But I think that starting off on such a broken base is a gamble I'm willing to take. I'm willing to take the risk because I think the payoff will be better in the end.


But the reason why I'm pulling this particular quote is because she just seems so defeatist and negative. She basically threw a temper tantrum over the fact that she wasn't able to get a Totodile, for starters. For another, when she fell and broke her leg, she was crying because she was defeated, not because, well, breaking your bones hurts like a mother. At this point, she's just berating herself. Yet all that's happened is she got an unexpected starter and nearly got killed. It was the first adventure she's had, and she made it out alive. I mean, Ash pretty much had the same situation happen to him. He got an unexpected starter and nearly got killed. Multiple times, in fact, including one instance where he had to come to terms that he was a selfish idiot (because he nearly had his Metapod killed in the process due to his stupidity). Yet, he still got up and walked onward. I'm not saying that you should have a carbon copy of Ash. (In fact, I encourage you to avoid that.) I'm just wondering why Olivia is acting like it's the end of the world and the end of her journey for her when, well, it just began. She's been through a lot already, so why does this break her? I just feel like not everyone should break down over every negative experience. Certainly, some people would, but it tends to happen a little more frequently than usual with your cast. (It certainly happened a lot with the XD series. It hasn't happened quite as often with the Operation GEAR casts, although Matt has a tendency to do it too. And, well, there's also Anabel, but anyway.)

On the other hand, I wonder if you're trying to say something about her – like she's trying to represent someone who's not exactly typical. But that's a side thought.

Well, as far as to why she was reacting in such an ... exaggerated? ... manner, she's banking so much on succeeding at this quest that for it to not go exactly as she intended throws off her entire balance. It's something she's going to have to grow out of, and I can tell you that I do have such a thing already in the works.

As for when she was lying at the bottom of the cliff, she was most likely delusional and so near blacking out that she didn't even consciously feel the pain.

Although, I think you might have started to catch onto something by the end of your thought here. For example, she's probably at least guessed at some point that Rich is dead, but she so violently wants to reject that idea that she shut off the part of herself that thought of it. tl;dr of it, she's not exactly well.


And I love you.

Aw, thanks! XD;


One of your stronger storytelling points is your worldbuilding abilities, definitely, and this is one of them. I like reading what people have to say about the way the Pokémon world works, and it's interesting that you're tackling the one thing pretty much no one talks about – how Pokémon centers work in terms of funding and the billing system. It's very interesting that the service is free to trainers with a 'dex and a starter. The explanation fits canon perfectly, and it's completely believable from what we've seen of the main game characters.

Well, like I've said, in every game you start right away by getting a starter and a Pokedex from the professor (or in the case of the Johto games, professors) while the most notable exceptions - the Orre games - can be handwaved due to how lawless the region is.

I'm glad you liked it, because it will act as a step into more thematic elements later.


There's just one little question, though, and that's, "How often do trainers get Pokédexes?" Some of the lines of dialogue in the games (especially in Gen I and FRLG) imply that the 'dex is actually a rare item, and in the animeverse, only people who met with a professor to start a journey received one. The problem lies in the fact that not everyone started their journey by meeting a professor, so you have people like Misty and Brock who might not have had a 'dex. It'd be interesting if this part would be expanded just a bit or at least if the idea could address who can receive a 'dex, who gives out 'dexes, and so forth.

An excellent question, actually.

I'm operating under the assumption that Pokedex/starter distribution is indeed a rarity. It is something important to provide background for later elements. You raise an excellent point about characters such as Brock and Misty, to which I guess I can only say that Gym Leaders get special permissions.

The rest of the questions have answers or answers that are being developed (your raising some of these questions is helping me frame my planning of them) but there's not much I can say right now about them. I don't want to give away too much, but I can say that they are relevant subjects to think about.


I see what you did there.

Not the first time you're going to see it.


I keep going back and forth between moments like these. You do this often enough when introducing characters: you either stop the narration to describe their looks or stop the narration to describe facts like these. The information you bring up is important to know for the most part (although probably not so much if Nando isn't going to be a major character in this story), so in that sense, I'm somewhat more okay with the fact that it's brought up. On the other, I'm also not completely comfortable with the transitions. It's very difficult to pull off an info drop (that is, stopping the narration to talk about something or feed a reader information) because of the fact that you're disrupting the flow of the chapter to do so. It's usually better to integrate information like this into the story, usually whenever appropriate. (In this case, perhaps having a character bring up Nando's Pokémon preferences themselves would do it.) Otherwise, it just sticks out like a nail in the floorboards.

That and in general, the transition could be smoothed out a bit. You go from talking about his preferences in team members to Matt's line, so there's very little to help ease the reader from topic to topic there.

This subject has been covered several times by other reviewers, so I'm afraid I haven't much more to say about it. I fully acknowledge that this habit is my weakness, and I'm trying to break myself of it. That's all I've really got to say.

The transitions point is taken into account, however. I'll work on it.


This is what I meant by pausing the action to describe a person, by the by. Considering this is a very action-oriented scene (given that it's a battle), it would be better if you linked descriptions of the character to her actions. For example, instead of simply telling us that she was a tall, thin woman and so forth, you could say something along the lines of:

The tall, lithe woman leaned back as a smirk crossed her thin, tanned face. One of her hands slipped up the leg of her tight-fitting jeans until it rested on the curve of her hip as the other pulled a black tendril of her hair out of her golden eyes. The rest of her dark hair writhed around her as she moved, brushing across the taut, yellow cotton of her top and the swarthy flesh of her midriff with each tiny shift of her body. In all ways, she looked like a snake – all to catch her opponent off-guard.

Sure, that still pauses the action a little, but these are easier to break apart. As in, you don't have to describe her in one go. Instead, you can take one sentence of this and use it in her introduction. Then, maybe further down the line, you'll be able to use the sentence that describes her hair writhing around her when it feels more appropriate for her to move in a way that would cause it to do that. Maybe at another point, she puts her hands on her hips in frustration, which allows you to use the line about her hips. Or you could keep the paragraph intact, and it would still be a little less obvious that you're describing her because she's still doing something – as in, you're not really stopping the action just to describe her.

I can't say that that kind of language style is necessarily something I'd feel all that comfortable using myself, but that's really not the point here. If I'm interpreting what you're saying correctly, I think what I could do is simply split the description up completely and slip in bits and pieces of it during the battle instead. I'll have to remember to do that.


The key in this case is to make it less and less obvious that you're launching into a detailed description. The more you tie each detail with an action, the more subtle it becomes until it turns into just another fragment of the story, if that makes sense.



This is more of an example of how description is best done, actually. It's integrated with action so that the story doesn't stop just to describe Nando.

Oh, it makes perfect sense. I think I have just the idea I need to have to get this right, I just need to put it into practice.


One of the many things I have to give you credit for is the way you get across creativity in battle. Not too many people remember that battles aren't just a couple of people duking it out on a generic field wherein nothing but attacks can be used to one's advantage. I know that there was an instance in the last chapter where Olivia took advantage of the layout of the field (i.e., the fact that Zorua was using Dig) to attack, and in this instance, you have Nando make a move that isn't just another attack. It makes battles more interesting because it's no longer possible to predict exactly what characters are going to do. They could very well attack directly, or they could manipulate the field or put themselves into a new strategic position or a million other different things.

In short, battles aren't predictable or repetitive in this fic, and that's something I appreciate because not a lot of people know how to keep battles from being predictable or repetitive. It's very refreshing to see a match be something other than Pokémon A uses Move B on Pokémon C over and over again, and it keeps things suspenseful and exciting to read.

(See, kids? Battles can be interesting to write about and read, even if they're not climactic battles. You just have to do them correctly.)

Now here's something I took vast inspiration from the anime for. A good battle can be exciting enough in the games, but when you have the freedom that a more open medium grants you, you would be foolish to not take advantage of it, I think. You just have so many options at your disposal for battles here.

One battle I hold up as a gold standard for this is the Nando VS. Zoey battle from episode 176 of Diamond and Pearl, which puts Nando's Kricketune and Lopunny against Zoey's Mismagius and Leafeon. On paper it's just a Double Battle between four UU-at-best Pokemon, but in practice it turns into a very exciting match in which both sides use each others' moves to build their own, and the outcome is not clear until the very end.

I think you're going to be very pleased with what you see next chapter.


…But shame on you for tilde abuse.

I know I shouldn't be defending myself here, but I couldn't figure out another way to indicate Nando's sing-song voice in a line like that.


However, I do have to comment about pacing here. I know that Trick Room is in effect, but at the same time, it seems a bit off that Nando would have time to meditate and think about what was going on while Zapdos is launching an attack. Attacks are still fairly quick unless there happened to be a lot of distance between Zapdos and Leavanny, so I'm having some difficulty picturing exactly what's going on here.

Just remember that it's okay to fudge game mechanics a little. That includes the turn-based system.

While your larger point is correct, in this case, Zapdos was quite far above Leavanny when it started its attack, and the adapted effect of Trick Room drastically slowed down its movements. In order to make a move like Trick Room function more realistically, I changed it from just blatantly reversing the order of who attacks when and made it so the more speed a Pokemon has before Trick Room is initiated determines how dramatically slowed down that Pokemon becomes. In this case, Zapdos is normally very fast, so it was slowed by a great amount.


Also, we were talking privately about how you might trim a chapter, and if you're still interested, this may be a good example. See, chapters should only contain enough information to drive the story forward. While Nando's battle with Dahlia does convince Matt that he needs to train, it might not have been necessary to show all of the battle. Sure, the attacks were beautifully described and the strategies were fascinating to read, but it also seemed out-of-place, considering Nando doesn't immediately have anything to do with the rest of the cast. As in, the only thing that affects Matt and company in this scene is Nando's victory; even if Matt had only seen Exploud versus Zapdos instead of Leavanny's matches, the outcome would have been the same because a sample of Nando's talent is still encapsulated in the very last match of the battle. So, you could actually distill the battle down to just the last part (Exploud vs. Zapdos) and still have it inspire Matt. That makes whatever came before it rather superfluous, and superfluous information just adds to your page count while serving as a distraction from the main point.

Of course, if you want to keep that part of the battle in, it can probably also be left in without making the chapter feel like it's dragging on, but it's definitely an option when it comes to trimming things down.

I want to go for something that doesn't compress around the main cast to a claustrophobic degree in this story, which I hope to get by giving other characters some focus of their own once in a while to increase the scale of the plot. That, and the battle also served to introduce Dahlia as the major driving force of this two-chapter arc, setting up her strength and fighting style so not only Matt but the reader themselves should feel prepared for the formal battle with her next chapter. The entire events of these two chapters revolve in some way around Dahlia or at least tangentially involve her, so I wanted to give her more screentime as well.

It's not like she's spilled her entire bag of tricks yet, either.


Be careful. Don't fall into the trap of telling instead of showing, and this is actually one case of it. Instead of showing us Feraligatr struggling to move, maybe wincing and hunching over as he steadied himself (or something along those lines to show that Feraligatr is struggling after the Double-Edge), you simply tell us that he's hesitating because of the attack. That's one thing I've noticed now and then: you say "due to" and then launch into an explanation, and that's something that you may want to phase out of your writing because it makes it easier for you to tell instead of show.

Yeah, I'm not sure how I let that happen. I'm going to have to fix it.


I also have to appreciate the fact that you realize a battle needs to be drawn out. Tying in with the idea that your battles aren't just Pokémon A uses Move B against Pokémon C, Pokémon don't just knock each other out with a couple of hits. That makes battles all the more exciting because it's just not something that happens in fanfiction for some reason. Maybe it's because people just don't want to spend that much time on battles, or maybe it's just because people are eager to get to the end because they already know the outcome. Either way, it's different to see a battle that's drawn out over a messload of pages, and while I had a feeling Matt would win, it was still a satisfying read.

I was actually afraid that some of the battles were too short.

But anyway, I'm glad once again that you liked the battles. I'm shooting to give the reader some great visuals when I write battles, which I think is something that acts as a major hook into the scenes. Of course, they also have to be well-written, so I take great care in doing research on the Pokemon in each battle to determine their moves, an adaptation of their game actions, tactics and so on. I like going out of the box, which is why I gave Gengar the Toxic/Venoshock combo and Metronome, which could only be obtained as a Move Tutor move in FRLG.


Now, okay, I have to say that I knew Matt would win, and it's because of something I told you in private about the XD series a long time ago. Namely, there's a definite lean towards the protagonist. As in, I think it's pretty rare to have one of your main characters lose, and when it happens, it's devastating. For example, one of the first battles we've seen in this particular fic had Olivia winning despite using low-leveled (for the most part) Pokémon. The only time she lost a fight of some kind was when she had to be given a reason to beat herself up (i.e., the fight against the Bisharp army). More recently, Nando wins against a legendary owned by a Frontier Brain – which, okay, is something Ash has been known to do, but still. Before that, I can't really think of any moments where the main characters have actually lost a battle except for one instance in XD^3.

It's really just something I noticed, and it could just be me (as in, maybe I'm forgetting instances everywhere wherein a main protagonist loses a match). If it's not just me, though, let me just say that the story is still enjoyable either way, but it would be cool to get some variety so that it's a little bit harder to predict. That and it might be more satisfying to read about moments when a character nets a victory if their win-loss ratio was a bit more even.

It's a little hard for me to answer this one without giving away too much. I am aware of what you're saying.

You may get your wish at some point. That's all I can say. I'm sure you understand.


Another thing I noticed? I thought it was unusual that you were going for game portrayals of moves instead of anime portrayals (like in the case of Venoshock), but that's really just your preference. It does strike me as curious either way, though, so… there's that.

Well, in the case of Venoshock for example, it's just a recolored Sludge Bomb in the anime. I want moves to look unique, so I adapted the game portrayal and modified it to make it a literal "shock" of "venom."


Overall, it's really not a bad story. The pacing is well done (even though you could cut some material out if you wanted to), and the premise is pretty riveting. Not only that, but you have a knack for taking canon characters and making them deep and interesting while still being spot-on. Not to mention your battles are frequently well-described and exciting – not at all turn-based or game-like. In that sense, this is actually a pretty good fic.

Thanks again!


It's just that there's some bits centering around the characters that could be worked out. For example, there's the tendency to stop all narration to describe a character. For another, there's the fact that the protagonists have an inordinately high chance of winning a battle, which tends to make the fight scenes slightly predictable.

But more than that, I have to say I'm undecided about a lot of your OCs. There are times when I really like what you do with them. (For example, Matt is one of my favorite characters right now because he feels like such an underdog despite the fact that he's pretty competent. Satsukoro was one of my favorites in the XD series because of his complex backstory.) On the other, some of your characters are also difficult for me to like. (I'm not fond of Nekou because I don't see her as badass as much as immature – like a teenage boy trying to convince me that he's awesome, and I'm not fond of Olivia because of how she used to be a childlike stereotype and is now prone to tantrums and teenage angst.) I'm not quite sure how to feel about your villains either (because almost all of them turn out to be psychotic and violent). I'm not quite sure what you can take away from this comment or how you might be able to improve on your weaker characters, given that it's pretty late in the series for all of them; I just wanted to get it out there that basically the only thing that might be affecting the quality of your fic are some of the OCs' personalities.

Hmmm. Well, first off, I'm glad that you like Matt. You've definitely got the right idea on him - he doesn't do a bad job, all things considered, but no matter how hard he tries he just keeps getting more in over his head when bigger obstacles come up.

re; Nekou and Olivia: I think my big problem here is that I overplayed my hand with them too soon. I've already begun taking measures to scale it back while writing the next chapter. I want to portray Olivia as a bit more clearly troubled for more understandable reasons while Nekou gets more dimension to her character. I only ask that you give them some more time, because they haven't come into their own fully yet.

Also, it's not relevant right now but there is a reason Nekou is the way she is.

re; Villains: I'd chalk this up mainly to circumstances. In the previous stories, Colonel Nixon was a corrupt military official during a more warlike time, so violence from him would be expected. Meanwhile, Liam Everton had to be the spiritual successor to Grings Kodai, the antagonist of the Zoroark movie, so he had to take everything Kodai did up to the proverbial eleven.

As for right now, Ghetsis is Ghetsis, there's not much more that can be said about him. Rest assured that not all of the rest of Polaris is like him - he's only the useful one to use as an introductory villain since he's a known quantity already. I think I've assembled a decent cast of villain types for the Sacred Helix, which should come out more once the others get more time.


Of course, this is literally the only thing. Shrugging off the typos, you've done some impressive work with canon characters, battles, and descriptions in general (and not just of characters), and that much is what a lot of writers fail to do. That's where the strong points of your fic lie, and I honestly think your story still works because in the end, that list embodies basically most of the spirit of Operation GEAR. You can still work with the OCs you've got. (And to be fair, they're a lot deeper than a number of other OCs out there; they just hit my "these kinds of people annoy the **** out of me" button. …Which may actually be a good thing because I'm annoyed because of their personalities, not because they're flat characters.) That's because in the end, you still have a story that stands up on its own.

So in that sense, this story isn't that bad. I'll definitely keep an eye on it.

Thank you for your extremely kind words and generous review.

I can't promise that all these things will be immediately addressed in the next chapter (for one, it's almost half done already) but I'll shoot for that "isn't that bad" to become "is pretty good" or something. Hey, goals motivate, right?

The Great Butler
16th October 2012, 10:10 AM
It should be noted that there’ll be some dark stuff discussed later in this chapter, such as a discussion of a genocide against a certain group of people. None of it is depicted though.

Hopefully you’ll still enjoy!

-:-

CHAPTER 5: Reaching for the Arcade Star (Part 2)

-:-

A blazing orange crept over the land as the sun rose the next morning, spreading peals of warm light over the autumn trees of the Tohjo Continent. Cherrygrove City glittered in the shine; for as depressing a place as the city could be, the first minutes of daylight brought even Cherrygrove’s dull streets to life.

Just outside the city, in the thicker woods off the road north, Jessie, James and Meowth stood speaking to Pierce.

“…that is what you need to know about what’s going on,” Pierce finished, running a hand through his shoulder-length, dark blue hair before putting his hat back on over it. He had just finished explaining a truncated version of his work from the past twenty-four hours. “I am going to return to the base to meet with Dr. Zager and Ariana regarding this. That means you three are in charge of maintaining the mission here in the field until I return.”

“But what are we supposed to do if things go bad? You were our extraction!”

“You know, James has got a point here,” Meowth concurred with his human companion. “Say we go after that chunk of space rock and Polaris shows up. Then what?”

With her hand on her hip, Jessie stepped up to face the others. “Do you two even hear yourselves? The boss didn’t put us on this mission for nothing. If we play our cards carefully we’re going to be just fine. We don’t have to have our hands held for everything we do!”

“You’re both right,” Pierce intervened. “I will return to aid you once more when my business at the base is finished. It will not be that long. For now, this is your assignment – continue monitoring the group involving Matt Chiaki, Olivia Mistbloom, Bunny Spruce and Dante Fantomos. The old man is in possession of the Meteonite fragment, so if you get a chance to take it with little risk, do it. If not, remember that a contingency plan is already uploaded into your R-Pad.”

“Ah, fine,” James said, gritting his teeth. “Make it back safely.”

“Very well. I wish you luck.”

Pierce turned and walked away, the tails of his coat fluttering behind him from the force of his sharp movements. Once he was far enough from the trio, Jessie let out an annoyed sigh.

“This is going to be a lot harder than it has to be if you don’t put some effort into it, James!” she yelled, straightening her back to give herself a height advantage over her partner.

“Oh, come on, Jessie, you know I’m not throwing it in that easily. I just don’t like taking orders from Pierce.”

“I agree with that,” Meowth chimed in. “The boss is the only one who’s worthy of giving us orders!”

“We’ll listen to Pierce but the boss is the one we really work hard for.”

Considering what her teammates had to say, Jessie realized they had a good point and backed down. “Finally, something we can all agree on. Let’s get a move on and see if we can track down that group in Cherrygrove!”

-:-

“So this is it, then…” Matt softly said while lifting the front of his hat, enabling himself to see further upward without raising his head.

Nestled in a cluster of tall buildings near Cherrygrove City’s shoreline stood a wide structure with four spires reaching up to the sky, each one ending in a diamond-patterned onion dome. The early afternoon sun glittered on the façade, casting a glare over the street where Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Dante all stood. Several red flags trimmed with gold borders hung around the building’s entrance, each bearing the stylized Poké Ball surrounded by seven stars that served as the Frontier Society’s logo.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Bunny concurred, “this is it, the Battle Arcade.”

“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

Nekou’s remark spurred Matt into action, and without another word he approached the double doors of the Battle Arcade, which slid open to allow him inside. Dante immediately followed, while Nekou at first hesitated. Once she saw that Bunny was helping Olivia walk, though, she also went through the entrance, with the injured girl and the archeologist bringing up the rear.

None of them noticed Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet – all disguised in their trenchcoats – slip in right behind them.

The lobby that awaited beyond the threshold was a dimly-lit place, with neon lights on the walls and ceiling largely substituting for normal sources of illumination. An orange carpet lined with golden diamonds stretched from the doors to a desk across the room, while nearby, a small cluster of tables framed by floor lamps offered other visitors a place of rest.

Not wishing to waste any time, Matt immediately and briskly walked to the desk, where a woman in a green business suit and beret was waiting.

“Welcome to the Battle Arcade!” the receptionist greeted him, using a warm voice. “Are you here for a challenge?” When Matt nodded, the woman continued, “You’re in luck. There are no challengers signed up ahead of you for the day, so you’ll be going right in. Is this your first visit to a Frontier Society facility?”

“Yeah, why?”

“May I have your name?”

“Matt Chiaki. What is this about?

“Just give me a second to register you in our database…” Turning to the computer on her desk, the receptionist typed for a moment, then looked up again. “All done. Pretty quick, huh? You’ll be needing these two things...”

The woman pushed two objects into Matt’s hands. The first was an identification card bearing Matt’s name and picture, colored red and gold like the Frontier Society’s flag, while the other was a small box with seven indentations inside.

“Your Frontier Pass and Medal Box,” she explained. “The Frontier Pass will get you into the Frontier Society’s facilities and services, while the Medal Box is to store the awards you’ll get from defeating Frontier Brains. Speaking of which, are you ready to begin?”

“Yes.”

“Then the next thing I’m going to need are the three Pokémon you intend to enter. Please allow me to check them.”

“I’ll be going with my Aggron, Rotom and Seismitoad,” he answered as he stored the documents and handed over the Poké Ball, Ultra Ball and Dive Ball containing his chosen Pokémon.

Using a handheld scanner, the receptionist inspected the three spheres, downloading images of their respective Pokémon into her computer. She then returned them to their owner, saying, “Your entry is fully processed. Are you ready to go in?”

“I am,” Matt replied, placing the orbs into his bag. Before walking away, though, he turned around to the others, who had since arrived behind him. “You guys are going to the audience area, right?” he asked, gesturing to a doorway a short distance away marked ‘Audience Seating’ in neon letters.

“I guess so,” Nekou answered. She puffed up her cheeks and exaggerated her facial expression to act like she was frustrated at being told to go somewhere, even though she fully knew this was normal and to be expected. “Don’t **** it up out there, or there’ll be hell to pay. I’ll see to that.”

“Somehow I’m not sure that’s actually encouraging,” Matt sighed, grimacing.

“Now, I think she has a point.” Surprisingly, it was Dante coming to Nekou’s defense. “Maybe she worded her encouragement poorly, but she is right in that you cannot progress if you are stuck here.”

“If you put it that way, I guess I understand. I wouldn’t want to hold up Olivia from reaching Violet City and getting her badge either. Anyway, wish me luck out there.”

“You can beat her,” Bunny gently said, setting her hand on Matt’s shoulder. “Just leave everything out here to me.”

“Thanks. See you guys later, then.”

With that, the group split in two. While Matt followed the receptionist into one of the nearby doors, the others went for the seating area. Bunny assisted Olivia in balancing on her crutches, while Nekou ate from a bag of potato chips she’d gotten from somewhere. Dante, finally, remained distant from the three young women, walking stiffly with his cane in one hand and the briefcase containing the Meteonite fragment in the other.

On the other side of the lobby, Jessie, James and Meowth waited, watching them. The trio of agents blended into the casino-like atmosphere of the Battle Arcade rather well in their trenchcoats, hats and sunglasses. Wobbuffet was with them, too, wearing a similar disguise of his own.

“There they go,” James observed while standing with his arms crossed. “How should we do this?”

“Attacking the old man in a public place like this would only go wrong for us,” commented Jessie. “I say we just go in there and watch what happens for now.”

Meowth gave a nod of approval, then added, “We got five pairs of eyes on that old man and the space rock. They ain’t going anywhere.”

Finding themselves all on the same page, the members of Team Rocket entered the audience area themselves.

-:-

The receptionist had led Matt down a long, narrow hallway before stopping abruptly near a closed green curtain. Because the hallway was just as dark as the lobby had been, Matt nearly crashed into her.

“Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“Please, don’t worry about it. Now, you need to wait here for a moment.” The woman bowed slightly in a show of courtesy toward Matt.

“What? Why?”

Matt’s question was answered almost immediately, when the announcer’s voice came blaring through the curtains into the hallway, accompanied by an eruption of audience cheering. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Battle Arcade! A day full of high-energy battling is about to get underway!”

Thunderous applause filtered through the curtain into the hallway, leading Matt to realize quickly exactly what he would be facing once he stepped through. Never feeling all that comfortable in front of a crowd in a closed setting, he started breathing deeply and pacing in an attempt to ward off the attack of nerves that he felt coming on.

“I can tell you’re all fired up, so let’s move ahead and get started with the first show of the day! Coming in first is a challenger who is making his debut on our young Frontier Society circuit! Going for his first medal here at the Battle Arcade, please welcome Matt from Snowpoint City!”

Matt found that all the attempts he’d made to tame his nerves amounted to nothing when the curtain in front of him whisked open, leaving him nearly completely locked up. Barely able to breathe, he shuffled out a short distance onto the black runway leading to the battlefield before nervously eyeing the audience.

Spotting Nekou, Bunny, Olivia and Dante sitting in the front row along with Marie and Olivia’s Minccino gave him a burst of energy, especially when he saw Olivia with her mind seemingly off her broken leg. Feeling revitalized, he picked up his pace and reached his box on the battlefield, where he stopped. A rotund man wearing a pair of dark sunglasses was already there, waiting in a space just off to the side of the field’s middle.

Immediately upon his arrival, the tall, thin screen on Matt’s side of the arena illuminated to display icons of the three Pokémon he’d selected, Aggron, Rotom and Seismitoad.

“Our challenger is now set!” the announcer declared while Matt simply stood there, still feeling some nerves from the relatively small space and the crowd. The lights dimmed and multicolored disco lights started to flow around the stadium, leading the audience to cheer more loudly than ever. “Yes, everyone, you know what that means! You know what time it is! Now, allow me to introduce once more the woman of the hour! The one you’ve all been waiting for! The one, the only… Arcade Star Dahlia!!”

Simultaneously, the lights in the stadium came back up and the audience erupted in the loudest round of cheering yet. All of this was over the caped figure that appeared in a burst of confetti at the opposite end of the battlefield.

With fluid movements that almost made her body look as if it was made of water, Dahlia moved down her runway, waving to the crowd all the while. Once she reached her destination, she stopped and waved one last time before turning toward Matt. Her screen, meanwhile, displayed her Pokémon in the same order as the day before – Togekiss, Ludicolo and Zapdos.

“Welcome, challenger!” Dahlia cheerfully said in greeting, striking a sharp pose with her hand on her hip. “Welcome to my Battle Arcade! How are you feeling today? Lucky?”

“Let’s just say I’ll be feeling more lucky once we get this battle going,” he replied straightforwardly. This wasn’t a lie, as the anticipation of the battle was intimidating him more than the battle itself. Unfortunately, he was unable to mask it well.

“Are you nervous or just eager to get this show on the road? Either way, let’s give you exactly what it is you want!” A thin pedestal with a red button on it rose out of the floor in front of Matt, visibly startling him. Picking up on this, Dahlia spoke, “Surprised? What we’re gonna do before battling is test just how lucky you really are! Bring up the game board!”

On Dahlia’s cue, the central video screen displayed a grid of sixteen squares, arranged in four rows of four. Each space had a different symbol on it, apparently signifying something different in each box.

“This big game board will determine the conditions we battle under,” Dahlia explained. “Anything could come from it. You could trigger a rainstorm, or maybe some sunlight or relentless hail... we could battle in a Trick Room or with our Pokémon asleep… we could even trade teams before we battle! Truly, the possibilities are endless!” Having worked herself into a frenzy, Dahlia threw her arms into the air before finishing her speech. “Hit the button to stop the board, okay? Now… set it in motion! Let’s go!”

An orange frame lit up around the upper-left corner space on the grid and began cycling past each of the board’s sixteen squares. Overwhelmed by the sudden pressure he felt from the correct realization that the outcome of this could decide the battle before it even started, Matt tried to push aside thoughts of the crowd and focus in on the game board.

From his quick inspections, he picked out the weather effect tiles, plus the Trick Room space that he’d seen Nando battling under the previous day. He also concluded that a tile with two opposite arrows was the aforementioned team-trading space, and that a lightning bolt space would inflict paralysis on his Pokémon. Running through some ideas in his head, he devised a quick plan and zeroed in on the space he wanted.

“Now!” he shouted, slamming down on the button.

“The battle condition has been decided!” blared the announcer. “This battle will be conducted under a steady rainfall!”

Crystal generators similar to those in the Trainer House glowed to life in a ring around the ceiling of the stadium, and mere moments later, clouds gathered and rain started to fall over the battlefield. The space the frame had stopped on – a tile displaying a water drop – now filled the entire central screen.

“So it’s rain, huh? Once again, the board delivers a turn on the road of life... luck is not just what twists and turns that road throws at us, but also how we deal with them and thus make our own luck. Is that something you’re good at?”

“I get the feeling you’re going to answer for me,” Matt deadpanned in response. “The answer is how this battle turns out, isn’t it?”

“You’re pretty smart. Since you know how things are going to go here, let’s waste not a single moment more!” Tearing off her cape and throwing it aside, an action that revealed her familiar outfit from the day before, Dahlia posed dramatically, yelling, “Show me your luck! No, show me if you can conquer it and make luck your own!!”

“If that’s what you want me to do...” Matt took out his Poké Ball, but hesitated slightly because of the crowd cheering once again. “…I…I’ll show you what you want! Tony, make your mark!”

“Dance, Togekiss!” Dahlia immediately called back, rolling a Poké Ball of her own down her outstretched arm before popping it open.

Materializing on Matt’s side of the field, Tony straightened to his full height and roared, then locked eyes with the Togekiss that emerged from Dahlia’s Poké Ball. The Normal-and-Flying-type Togekiss showed no fear in her eyes, even as she was confronted by the mighty Aggron.

“The battle between the challenger, Matt, and the Arcade Star, Dahlia, will now begin!” The referee raised his arm upward before bringing it down in a chopping motion. “Go!”

“Tony, start strong!” Matt exclaimed, stretching out his arm to point at Togekiss. “Head Smash, now!”

Undeterred by the echoing roar Tony sent ringing through the Battle Arcade’s stadium prior to his charge, Dahlia shook herself in another of her fluid dance moves as she directed, “Togekiss, move aside and use Water Pulse.”

Well before Tony could collide with her, Togekiss glided off to the side of the field, leaving the Aggron to hit nothing but thin air. She then began to spin, forming an upright circle with the tips of her wings. This circle soon became physical upon being traced in a stream of water from Togekiss’s wings, and it flowed straight into Tony, pushing the growling Steel-and-Rock-type back. The attack was strengthened in intensity by the rainfall, which added water to the ring to increase its size.

While Tony nursed the burn-like wound that the Water Pulse had left on his hide, Matt was left to reassess his opponent in a silent panic. Dahlia’s overwhelming confidence could be seen in footage of her battles, but he realized that seeing was only one part of it. Standing across a battlefield from Dahlia was another thing entirely, as her spirit burned powerfully enough to almost be physically felt. Looking at her standing there with her hand on her hip and her gaze fixed on the Pokémon, Matt very quickly found himself feeling in over his head.

“Togekiss, use Water Pulse again!”

Snapping back to attention, Matt saw the second ring of water flying toward Tony and immediately blurted out, “Dodge it!”

If the Battle Arcade was a facility of luck, Matt wasn’t having much of it, as even though Tony bent back in an attempt to let the Water Pulse sail over him, it still caught the edge of his steel horns and pulled him back until he fell over completely.

“Aggron goes down, but it’s not out yet! Will Matt be able to turn this around somehow, or will the Arcade Star take the lead in a decisive motion?”

“He’s embarrassing himself out there,” Nekou said monotonously, resting her head on one hand in a fit of exaggerated boredom as she took a handful of chips from her bag with the other. “Dahlia’s making a fool out of him… he can’t touch her in the least.”

“It’s only just started,” commented Bunny, “so don’t give up yet.”

“If I was giving up I would have left already.”

“Come on, Matt, pull yourself together!”

Olivia’s plea managed to restore some of Matt’s confidence, but before he could even calculate a new approach, Dahlia was on the attack again.

“Togekiss, get ready to finish this!” she shrilled while her Pokémon took up a position right over Tony. “Water Pulse, straight down!”

“I see it!” An idea suddenly came to Matt, and he wasted no time in putting it into motion. “Tony, Head Smash! If Togekiss is aiming down, you aim up!”

Because of her spinning, Togekiss did not see Tony using his tail as a spring to throw himself into the air toward her. It was this blind spot that allowed Tony to finally land a hit, headbutting Togekiss hard enough to cause her half-formed Water Pulse to explode, throwing both Pokémon in opposite directions – Tony fell downward and crashed into the ground, while Togekiss flew back violently and somersaulted through the air.

“So you’ve got some fight in you, huh?” A light giggle escaped Dahlia’s lips while she shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “Looks like I’m going to have to step up my game a little. Togekiss, use Psychic on the rain!”

“Head Smash once more!” Matt reflexively answered, not realizing what Dahlia was doing even when individual drops of rain began getting caught in the purple light of Togekiss’s power.

Tony charged, but soon found his movement impeded by something weighing down his left leg. Both he and his trainer realized in horror what it was all too late – a cluster of raindrops had been forcefully congealed around that limb, rendering it useless. Before Matt could figure out any way out of this trap, and before Tony could lash the surprisingly heavy water off of himself, Togekiss used Psychic to pin down his other leg and both arms before completely encasing him in a tight cocoon of water.

“Like that one?” Dahlia casually said to Matt, who simply stood there stunned by his Aggron’s ordeal. “That’s actually one of my favorite Contest moves. I see you look surprised… did you actually think I’d leave everything up to luck? Like I said, the best kind of luck is the kind you make for yourself. This Battle Arcade and everything inside it is my home, and in here, everything happens according to my luck. You’re clearly relying on something different… chance. Chance is when you throw all caution to the wind and let things happen as they will… now let me show you what the true meaning of luck is. Togekiss, the grand finale!” Throwing her arms wide, Dahlia called out into the air, “Water Pulse!!”

Flying to just above where Tony was bound in place, Togekiss started spinning again, drawing water upward from the trapped Aggron. The two Pokémon became surrounded by the same fluctuating stream of water, but a brief moment later, a bright glow radiated from Togekiss’s half of the fluid structure, and the entire thing exploded in a spectacular and violent burst of shining water and wind.

Matt had to shield his face from the surf-like spray thrown on him as well as the harsh gust, which hurt his eye. The sustained force of the blast Togekiss trigged blew his hair and coat for several seconds; meanwhile, Dahlia was facing the same conditions, but she simply stood there as if none of it fazed her, her wild black hair flying in all directions.

Finally, the force radiating from the center of the stage abated, revealing the almost painfully obvious results – a winded but otherwise fairly healthy Togekiss flapping her wings cheerfully over the prone form of her defeated Steel-and-Rock-type opponent.

The referee raised his arm toward Dahlia and announced, “Aggron is unable to battle! The winner is Togekiss!”

“Down goes Aggron, marking the fall of a dangerous enemy for Dahlia’s Togekiss! With only Rotom and Seismitoad left, is it already too late for Matt?”

Even from the stands, Bunny could see that the question posed by the announcer was evidently already on Matt’s mind. She watched him silently call Tony back to his Poké Ball, recognizing the same sudden soullessness she’d seen on her archeological projects with him when something went terribly wrong.

“Is he going to be okay?”

Snapping out of her bubble, Bunny turned to see Olivia pulling on Nekou’s arm. What truly surprised her wasn’t the fact that Olivia was turning to Nekou for alleviation of her doubts, as she’d already recognized how the two seemed to connect. It was instead how deadly serious Nekou seemed to be treating the whole matter.

“You don’t worry, Olivia,” the dark-haired woman reassured. “Even if he can’t come through for himself, he’ll do it for you. The amount of strength one can gain just by knowing their actions mean something to someone else is unbelievable.”

“Right.” Olivia nodded, smiled weakly, then turned back to the battle and screamed out as loud as she could, “Come on, you! Don’t you let me down!!”

His face blank, Matt slowly turned to the stands, completely oblivious to the rest of the crowd cheering for Dahlia’s decisive actions. He saw Olivia, and with something in his mind clicking, he shook his head and snapped back to attention.

“There you go,” Nekou thought with a smile. “I knew you wouldn’t **** up when it came to helping her out.”

“Got yourself together yet?” Dahlia called out across the battlefield. “Togekiss and I want to see which of your Pokémon we’re up against next!”

“I know exactly what I’m doing now,” Matt replied after a brief hesitation. Readying the Ultra Ball in his hand, he yelled as he threw it, “Nikola, make your mark!”

“Matt calls upon his Frost Forme Rotom as his second Pokémon!” exclaimed the announcer, putting words to the image of Nikola taking shape in the stadium.

“Ah, now that’s something I don’t see every day! I’m pleasantly surprised at you, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go easy. Togekiss, start this off with a bang! Hyper Beam!”

“Block it with Thunderbolt!”

Acting swiftly, Togekiss hummed serenely while charging up energy in the form of a red sphere in front of her face. Nikola took aim and fired a horizontal bolt of lightning just in time to intercept the pulsating beam that burst from Togekiss’s mouth. It failed to stop the Hyper Beam completely, but Thunderbolt did serve some function, as the beam was split up and only a fraction of it struck its target.

“Rotom, tom,” Nikola said, shaking off the weaker but still forceful blow it had received. A dark patch on its midsection was one of the few signs left of the hit.

Togekiss, meanwhile, did not escape scot-free either. Having expended much of her energy to create and fire the Hyper Beam, she could now only float before Dahlia, breathing heavily as she waited for her strength to return.

“Dahlia, do you remember what you said earlier about luck, chance and this Battle Arcade?”

“Yeah?” Dahlia inquisitively answered, scrunching her face. “What about it?”

“I think two people can have the same luck. Chance has given me a shot of demonstrating that. Nikola, use Blizzard up into the clouds!”

Both Dahlia and the collective audience gasped in surprise at Matt’s improvised strategy. Almost immediately upon Nikola beginning to shoot gusts of frosty wind up into the rainclouds, the rain itself changed temporarily into hail. The icy stones crashed loudly against the battlefield, but Dahlia was paying that no heed. Instead, she was staring at and gesturing frantically to her Togekiss while attempting to give it commands. As she was caught in the sudden storm, Togekiss could only suffer under repeated strikes until she gave in and fell to the ground.

“Dahlia’s Togekiss goes down,” declared the commentator, over a deafening roar from the crowd, “but is it out? We know how the Arcade Star is in situations like this!”

“That’s right, when your luck runs out, you improvise… that’s what you just did, isn’t it?” As Dahlia spoke, the rain returned, blocking out the false Hail.

“You talked about this Battle Arcade being a place where you control all the luck in the facility as your own. Well, I think it’s time I took some of that luck myself. Nikola, finish it off with Thunderbolt!”

A single jagged bolt of lightning flashed out from Nikola’s plasma body, which had turned from blue to yellow as static built up in it. Pinned to the ground by chunks of ice, Togekiss could not escape from this counterattack. She was left helpless to avoid being struck down, and her body went limp after the initial shock of Thunderbolt wore off.

“Togekiss is unable to battle! The winner is Rotom!”

“Score one for the challenger in a decisive blow! We’re now even, with one Pokémon down on each side! Now, let’s see what the Arcade Star’s next course of action is!”

“See, I told you he’d pull through for you,” Nekou said to Olivia.

“You were right, but let’s see if he can actually win this battle completely.”

While Nekou and Olivia were exchanging comments on Matt, Bunny happened to glance over to her other side. She spotted Dante sitting rigidly in the next seat, staring intently at the battle as if he was intending to memorize every single detail of it. At first disturbed by this, she quickly brushed it off and decided to pay it no mind.

“You did very well, my dear Togekiss,” Dahlia whispered to the Poké Ball she’d recalled her beloved Pokémon to. “I think I underestimated you, Matt.”

“Don’t be so sure. How can you say that I didn’t just get lucky?”

“Luck only goes so far. I’ve got a knack for telling when I’m up against someone who can give me a challenge, and right now, whether you realize it or not, I’m getting that feeling. Now let’s see what you can really do. Dance, Ludicolo!”

Dahlia threw her Net Ball next, which released the green, pineapple-shaped Pokémon within. Ludicolo began dancing cheerfully almost immediately, taking great pleasure in the rain.

“A Water-and-Grass-type,” Matt observed, trying to carefully examine Ludicolo to the best of his ability. He was however unable to glean much from simply seeing it standing and dancing, and he didn’t have that much available to him as a result of seeing Nando fight her, so he decided to use a straightforward approach. “Let’s just attack and see what happens, Nikola. Signal Beam, go!”

A bright light flashed out of the spike on the top of Nikola’s refrigerator body, followed by a rainbow-colored beam of energy. Ludicolo, seeing the ray approaching her, stopped dancing and stood still.

“Now, Ludicolo! Drain Punch!”

In the blink of an eye, Ludicolo disappeared into thin air, visibly astounding both Matt and Nikola. Just as quickly, however, she materialized again right in front of the floating Electric-and-Ice-type, with just enough space to pull her arm back and deliver a powerful, glowing punch that slammed Nikola downward.

“Fueled by Swift Swim, Dahlia’s Ludicolo lands a devastating blow! Let’s see how the challenger manages to deal with this development… or will he even be able to?”

“That’s right, do you like it?” Dahlia asked of her surprised, stunned opponent. “Rain is perfect for my Ludicolo and her Swift Swim ability. Will you be able to keep up with our speed, or are you already left in the dust?”

“There’s got to be a way out of this,” Matt thought, even going as far as shutting his eyes to try to focus. “Come on, think of something!”

“What’s the matter, Ludicolo got your tongue?” Dahlia was clearly taunting Matt, trying to goad him into attacking while continuing to stand with her hands on her hips. “Let me loosen it up then. Energy Ball!”

This time opting to not use Swift Swim to get close, Ludicolo remained in her position and instead threw a sparking sphere of green energy at Nikola.

Matt snapped his eyes open and he pushed both of his arms forward. “Get away if you can, Nikola! After that, use Signal Beam!”

There was barely enough time for Nikola to get out of the way of Energy Ball after recovering from the bruising injury Drain Punch dealt out, but it managed to do so. Afterward, it aimed another Signal Beam down at the aggressive Ludicolo, hoping as hard as it could that this time, the attack would not fail.

“How troublesome,” Dahlia uttered, rolling her head back slightly so she’d have to look downward at an angle to see Matt. “Ludicolo, move in and go for Hyper Voice!”

Falling back into her original tactic, Ludicolo evaded Signal Beam by evaporating into the driving rain, then warping into the space right in front of Nikola. This time, though, she retaliated against her foe by screaming in a loud voice, forming circular shockwaves that visibly rattled Matt’s Pokémon.

“That’s it!” Thinking carefully, Matt recalled something he’d seen during Nando’s battle the previous day – namely, how Exploud’s Hyper Voice could be fused with other moves to create intensely powerful techniques useful for both Contests and standard battling. Framing this within some of the things he’d observed about Ludicolo’s patterns, he knew he had a solid idea toward stopping her. “Nikola, Signal Beam one more time, please.”

“You’ll go nowhere with that old trick! Ludicolo, Drain Punch!”

Though its Signal Beam once again missed as a result of Ludicolo’s Swift Swim speed fueling her escape, Nikola had her right where Matt wanted.

Grinning ever so slightly, he called out, “Thunderbolt! Just release it into the air!”

Snickering, Nikola quickly shot a lightning bolt in a random direction and sustained the charge for several seconds. The electricity caught onto the raindrops at an exponential rate, and soon, the entire field was flooded by electrical energy.

Within the depths of the storm, the lightning even caught up to Ludicolo, who was shocked out of midair during her Swift Swim-powered rush. Feeling increasingly frustrated at how difficult this fight was becoming, Dahlia pushed her hands through her hair.

“Fine! If you want things to go this way, be my guest! If we can’t get up close, we’ll go from a distance! Ludicolo, Energy Ball!”

“Give me another skyward Blizzard!” Matt raised his arm and pointed upward for emphasis after
giving this command.

Nikola ignored Ludicolo even as she was giving shape to her next Energy Ball, instead opting to focus on blowing another gust of cold air into the clouds overhead. Dahlia’s Pokémon barely managed to launch her attack before chunks of ice rained down on her in much the same way as Togekiss. While Ludicolo crumpled under the harsh blows leveled out by the falling ice, Nikola had left itself open and winced when the glowing sphere struck it in the face.

“Try Signal Beam one more time, Nikola!”

“I see what you’re doing, and you won’t get away with it! Ludicolo, Hyper Voice!”

Dahlia was so absorbed in the battle that she failed to notice Matt smile slightly when she gave the go-ahead for Hyper Voice. Both trainers just watched as Ludicolo avoided Signal Beam by merely stepping back before screaming and forming a sonic energy ring heading back in Nikola’s direction.

“Now that’s what I was waiting for!” Matt exclaimed, running his hands down the sides of his face before pointing forward. “Go, Nikola! Thunderbolt!”

Nikola shocked the wave manifested by Ludicolo’s Hyper Voice, and the circular wave itself became electrified, thus spreading lightning through the air. Dahlia gasped when she realized that she could not direct Ludicolo to move or attack because of how thickly occupied by electricity the space was, a sentiment visibly shared by Ludicolo. The Water-and-Grass-type Pokémon muttered nervously and adjusted her sombrero while waiting for the air to clear.

Matt, however, had other plans. “Shadow Ball!”

Aiming right for the center of the electrical field, Nikola dropped in an energy sphere of its own, this one glowing with black light. The Shadow Ball reacted with all of the lightning, causing a bright, sparkling explosion that blinded all everyone and everything within the arena.

As soon as his vision started to return by even a small bit, Matt shouted, “Now, Nikola! Go through and finish this with Signal Beam!”

Dahlia’s Ludicolo recovered from the shock of Matt’s previous combination move in just enough time to see Nikola lunging through the lingering smoke, a Signal Beam taking shape on the spike atop its head. Mentally, she wanted to jump away, but the results of several harsh hits had left her body in an unresponsive state. Swift Swim couldn’t save her, so she had to simply wait for the inevitable to come as the rainbow-colored beam struck her down.

“Ludicolo is unable to battle!” the referee called before the eyes of the enthralled audience. “The winner is Rotom!”

“Ludicolo goes down as Rotom racks up a second consecutive win! The Arcade Star now only has one Pokémon left, but the outcome is far from certain. Will she fall in defeat at our challenger’s hands, or will she rally to overcome this disadvantage?!”

“Nikola, good job! That was exactly what I needed!” Though Matt’s praise of his Rotom was expressed in a confident-sounding voice, Matt was anything but confident at that point.

Nekou, Bunny and Olivia all shared the same doubts he had, as they all knew that the biggest problem was about to happen. Without one move being made it was already realized that the next Pokémon would be easily a more grueling challenge than Togekiss and Ludicolo.

“You made me proud out there, Ludicolo. There’s nothing more I need from you.” Returning the Net Ball to her belt, Dahlia kept her hand at her waist while turning a suddenly fiery glare at Matt. “As for you, I’ve gone easy on you until this point. Do you understand what that means? That means you must step up your efforts even further if you think you’re going to win this, because now I’m going to get serious.” Tearing the Master Ball from her belt, Dahlia threw it and shrilled the words Matt knew he’d have to face even though he didn’t want to, “Show yourself on the dance floor, Zapdos!!”

Erupting from the Master Ball in a spectacular flash of light, Zapdos slowly unfolded its jagged-edged wings and looked down on Nikola. It wasn’t just a matter of positioning – Zapdos clearly held itself in much higher esteem than the allegedly lesser Electric-and-Ice-type Pokémon before its eyes.

“Yes, it’s what you’ve been waiting for! Arcade Star Dahlia’s Zapdos has entered the battle! Hold on to your seats, because now you know we’re in for a ride!”

“They’re in for a ride?” Matt quietly growled through his gritted teeth, attempting to grasp the sheer magnitude of the task before him. “How about the ride I’m in for?”

“I see you talking to yourself over there, so how’s about I give you something to talk about?!” Seemingly as soon as she sent Zapdos into the intense battle, Dahlia became a different person. Her stance became stiffer, and her movements went from being fluid to sharp and abrupt. Thrusting both of her arms forward, she cried, “Zapdos, Heat Wave!”

“Not good…” Desperate to avoid being defeated by the intimidating Legendary Pokémon, Matt chose the first decision that jumped into his head. “Quickly, Nikola, use Blizzard!”

Instead of aiming for the clouds this time, Nikola simply locked straight ahead to target Zapdos directly. Its gust of freezing air was met by the tide of fire that Zapdos had pushed forth, however, and Heat Wave won out. With its attack nullified completely, Nikola was left trapped to weather a painfully effective blow.

“Finish it off now, Zapdos! Give it a Drill Peck right to the chest!”

At this point completely overwhelmed by the stunning power and speed he was up against, Matt flinched and couldn’t manage to give a command. Nikola acted on its own, shooting a Thunderbolt at Zapdos as the Electric-and-Flying-type barreled toward it, but Zapdos shrugged the last-ditch counterattack off with little effect before viciously colliding with Nikola.

“N-Nikola!” Matt screamed out, though it was completely in vain.

“Rotom is unable to battle! The winner is Zapdos!”

“Down goes Rotom! He never had a chance to touch Zapdos! Now, the challenger only has one Pokémon left as well!”

Not content to simply defeat the Rotom, Zapdos pinned its victim under one of its talons while cawing loudly, all to show off its dominance over the battlefield.

“Now that’s just overkill,” Bunny reacted with disgust.

“You should have expected something like this,” Nekou said with a hint of sarcasm. “You can tell she isn’t the type to be subtle about anything. This is her stage, and when she’s on it, she’s going to absolutely play it to the ****ing hilt.”

“Come on, don’t you blow this now!” Olivia called out with her hands cupped around her mouth. “If Nando could do it, so can you!”

“So it comes down to this…” Having recalled Nikola, Matt stood rigidly in a way that caused his eye to be obscured by the shadow of his hat’s brim. “I’ve got to pin all my hopes on this last one after all… out of these three, he’s my newest Pokémon, but I’m not going to just let this go…” Whipping his head up, he sharply added, “I’m not letting this go because those who run cannot find the truth! Patrick, make your mark!!”

In a blindingly fast motion Matt got the Dive Ball out of his bag and threw it with a flick of his wrist, releasing the bulky-bodied Seismitoad within to face Dahlia’s savage Zapdos. Patrick slowly turned his lazy-looking eyes upward to face Zapdos directly, who by this time was staring back with a look of sheer annoyance.

“It’s the final showdown, folks! Everything’s on the line! Matt’s Seismitoad versus Dahlia’s Zapdos… only one will walk away from this with the spoils of victory, but who will it be?!”

“A Water-and-Ground-type Pokémon?” Dahlia uttered while standing with her hands on her hips. “What a bother, Zapdos’s electrical attacks won’t work… but that just means this will be all the more fun! Get started with Drill Peck, Zapdos!”

As soon as Zapdos started spinning in Patrick’s direction, Matt growled to himself and shouted, “Stop it with Scald!”

The rainfall lent Patrick’s Scald some additional power, turning it into an almost beam-like blast of burning water instead of just a spray. Zapdos didn’t care about this power upgrade, though; it simply twisted around the boiling jet in midair to avoid being hit, then drilled straight into Patrick’s stomach, throwing him back as he croaked painfully.

“Patrick, no...” Matt whispered in shock, while he watched Patrick slump against a nearby wall.

“Is it too much?” taunted Dahlia, leaning forward while waving her right hand’s pointer finger in the air. “Tell me when you’ve had enough. I’ll stop whenever…”

Suddenly, a loud, guttural voice echoed through the stadium, interrupting Dahlia mid-sentence. Patrick, now standing again, raised both of his arms and let out an earsplitting battle cry before lunging at the grounded Zapdos.

Taking advantage of this turn, Matt directed, “Hit it with Drain Punch!”

The Great Butler
16th October 2012, 10:11 AM
As it did not suspect Patrick to be capable of striking so quickly, Zapdos was caught off guard and took a forceful blow squarely to the chest. The wound left behind quickly transformed into light that flowed into Patrick, restoring some of his stamina.

“Hit my Zapdos in such a way? I think not! Zapdos, take to the air and use Ominous Wind!”

Just as Zapdos began to lift itself into the air, Patrick jumped up and swung out with his hand, managing to grab onto the Electric-and-Flying-type’s leg. The feeling of Patrick’s weight immediately caused Zapdos to panic, and it forced itself upward in a frenzied attempt to get free.

“Good thinking, Patrick!” Matt called out in compliment, a wide smile coming across his face. “It has nowhere to run, so use Scald!”


“Toss that thing now!” Dahlia tore back in response.

Despite Zapdos’s valiant efforts to flip Patrick over its head, the Seismitoad managed to pull it back. While still holding on to keep Zapdos in place, Patrick assaulted it with another jet of steaming water, this one connecting straight to the Legendary Pokémon’s chin.

Zapdos finally lashed free of Patrick’s grip after taking the Scald directly, but it wasn’t yet out of trouble. This was evidenced by the sudden shudder that wracked its body as a red aura overtook it.

“That’s a burn, the secondary effect of Scald! Zapdos is on the clock now!”

In her mind, Dahlia saw her range of options narrowing. For a moment she squinted and stared at the two Pokémon, then she threw her hands up in the air and screamed to the ceiling, “Zapdos, ascend!”

While still visibly suffering from the burn’s effects, Zapdos managed to follow its trainer’s directions by moving upward until it was just skimming the underside of the clouds. At that point, it started to glide around in wide circles over the battlefield.

“If that’s what you’re going to do, then I have little choice in how to answer.” Pointing upward at the avian Pokémon, Matt sharply instructed, “Patrick, aim as best as you can and use Scald!”

Another jet of heated water shot into the air, but Zapdos evaded this one by twisting around and flying above the clouds. In frustration, Patrick blindly spat out yet another Scald with no orders, missing Zapdos by a figurative mile.

“Zapdos, it’s time for us to take the lead!” Compared to her earlier difficulties, Dahlia appeared to be getting her hyper, cheerful edge back. “Ominous Wind!”

Dahlia’s Zapdos dipped just below the cloud cover before forcefully flapping its wings, pushing a gust of glowing purple wind over Patrick. The Water-and-Ground-type Pokémon crossed his arms to act as a sort of defense, and to a degree, it did work. Aside from small cuts spreading over a number of places on his body, Patrick wasn’t hurt much at all, prompting Dahlia to clench her teeth.

Adding to her frustration, Dahlia could see Zapdos still being afflicted by the red aura of the burn left earlier. She realized that if she continued to approach the battle with a casual pace, she’d lose, not because of Patrick knocking Zapdos out but because of the burn simply wearing Zapdos out.

Knowing that she was in a situation worse than she’d initially thought, Dahlia took charge by quickly and directly ordering, “Drill Peck!”

“Patrick, hit it right in the face with Drain Punch!” Matt reflexively said to counter Dahlia. As he did so, he repositioned himself so that he was standing with his legs somewhat further apart while leaning forward very slightly.

Even when Zapdos hadn’t yet dove to strike, Patrick was getting ready to hit back. He clenched his fist and pulled back, but unlike before, this time a strange purple glow surrounded his arm. Though he did swing and connect with Zapdos’s face as the Legendary Pokémon drilled toward him, Patrick failed to affect it in any significant way, being thrown back forcefully but not nearly as hard as before. Zapdos, meanwhile, flipped back and returned to circling the battlefield from near the clouds.

“Looks like you don’t have complete luck yet after all,” Dahlia commented in a much more serious tone than the one in which she usually spoke. “Far too late for that to come into play.”

“What are you talking about?” Matt skeptically asked, noting to himself that engaging Dahlia in a discussion would afford Patrick a chance to rest momentarily.

“Did you see that purple glow? Your Seismitoad’s ability must be Poison Touch, which means that that Drain Punch would have poisoned Zapdos if it wasn’t already burned. Unfortunate for you, isn’t it?”

“But fortunate for me,” she quickly thought as an amendment to her original sentence. “I’m in enough trouble trying to win with Zapdos being burned…”

“It’s good to know that, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.” Turning his head upward so he could see Zapdos circling, Matt spread his arms and called out, “Patrick, cut it down with another Scald!”

“Get away!” Dahlia countered, gesturing in a sweeping motion. “Drill Peck into the clouds!”

Matt had been hoping for a decisive blow to end the fight, but those hopes disappeared when Patrick’s boiling water stream sailed just below Zapdos’s talons as it spun upward and out of sight. For his part, Matt clenched his fists and stared and the spot where Zapdos had been mere moments before, but Patrick became even angrier. Ignoring the fact that he could not aim at all, Patrick began randomly shooting blasts of steaming water up into the clouds, each one apparently missing Zapdos by a wide margin.

However, after only two rounds of these blind attempts, Patrick suddenly started gasping when he tried to use Scald again, no longer able to draw upon its power.

“Patrick, what’s wrong?” Matt desperately shouted, having become alarmed by the rapidly escalating appearance of frustration and panic on his Seismitoad’s part.

Sighing in relief, Dahlia wiped her forehead, which had become damp with sweat, and said, “I almost was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to last this long to let Pressure work!”

“Pressure…” With his breath becoming slower and shallower, Matt took a slow, shaky step back. “Zapdos’s ability… I never even took it into account…”

“Since you know what it’s called, then you must at least have an idea of what it does. You’ll run out of steam for your moves one by one at double the rate! That means, since you can’t use Scald anymore, you can’t hurt Zapdos!”

Dahlia’s claims not only affected Matt – who became visibly more tense as he tried to grapple with the meaning of his situation – but the spectators in the stands as well. Panicked, Olivia hurriedly turned to Nekou and Bunny in a bid to gain better understanding of what was going on.

“Is that actually true?! It can’t be over like that!”

“Nothing in this world is that simple,” Nekou explained in a seemingly flippant manner, not really paying much attention to her own words. “It’s something you’d benefit from remembering. When something seems like it has an obvious answer or outcome… it usually doesn’t.”

“It’s true that of Seismitoad’s remaining moves, one won’t work at all and the other would only cause slight damage,” Bunny added. “But, Zapdos isn’t exactly in great shape either. If it can’t stay out of Seismitoad’s reach, this could still turn around.”

“Now, Zapdos,” Dahlia called out to her airborne Pokémon, “use Ominous Wind!”

With seemingly no options available to him, Patrick simply crossed his arms in front of his face as a feeble defense against the glowing purple wind sent blowing down onto him. He wasn’t moved far by it, though.

Zapdos dropped out of the cloud cover, and its ravaged, weakened body and uneven breathing made clear that the burn’s effect was doing what Matt’s attacks were failing to do. Dahlia looked up with wide eyes at her Pokémon, trying to accept the reality brought on by the red glow consuming it and what this light meant.

“Zapdos… you’re not going to last much longer, are you?” Already knowing the answer to this question, Dahlia turned her head back down and stared at Matt. Her gaze was intense enough to make him uncomfortable; to him, her eyes were like two spears piercing into his own. “Fine!” she boomed, pointing her finger at him. “Matt Chiaki, you’ve put on a good show for us here today, so as a sign of respect, I will show you my special finishing move! Zapdos, use Heat Wave! Follow it with Drill Peck! Then, finish this with Thunderbolt!”

“Impossible,” Nekou said in disbelief. “What is she even trying to do? Heat Wave will barely affect him, and Thunderbolt…”

“She’s just trying to use the attack’s impact strength!” Bunny exclaimed, having arrived abruptly at the answer. “After all of this talk about luck, it’s come down to brute force!”

By this point, Zapdos had already used Heat Wave to create a curtain of fire in the air, and it was now using Drill Peck to spin through said curtain and gather its energy. During all of this, Matt and Patrick could only sit and watch.

“Get ready, Patrick.”

The Seismitoad grunted and nodded to his trainer in affirmation. They both knew that what Dahlia was planning was likely to spell the end for them, but one thing both Matt and Patrick had resolved to was to go down fighting.

“It ends NOW!” Dahlia screamed out, her excitement and energy finally boiling completely over. Flinging her arms up into the air before bringing them sharply back down, she roared, “Zapdos, GO!!”

All of the remaining fire in the air convened around Zapdos as it twisted around and began shooting electricity from all over its body. Locking onto Patrick, Zapdos started to descend rapidly, taking on the form and power of a spinning rocket powered by the dual forces of fire and electricity.

“This is it! Dahlia’s final move! Is this truly going to be the end?!”

“Now, Patrick!” Matt shut his eyes as he held up his arm. He did not want to see what was about to happen. “Hit it head-on with Drain Punch!”

Showing more courage than his trainer, Patrick fearlessly faced the raging inferno that bore down on him. He didn’t expect to inflict much harm either, but he intended to come out having done something to help. With perfect timing, he swung his fist just perfectly to connect with Zapdos’s beak.

Zapdos’s frenzied attack was the one that won out, easily overwhelming Patrick. His Drain Punch, however, caused the Drill Peck/Heat Wave/Thunderbolt combination to go off target, and it instead mowed the Seismitoad down at his feet and pushed him down onto the Legendary Pokémon’s back.

A combination of Zapdos’s pained, frustrated squawks and the explosion of noise from the audience forced Matt to open his eyes and see what was going on – Zapdos flittering around the arena in a panic, trying to get Patrick off of its back.

“Now I’ve seen ****ing everything…” he thought, unable to form words for a minute due to the sheer shock of what had happened and what he’d seen.

“WHAT?!!” Dahlia was rapidly approaching a point where if she became any more high-strung, she might scratch her own skin off. Her voice was thin and high-pitched, and her once-tanned-and-smooth skin had become clammy with sweat. “How could you not only survive my finishing move, but even turn it against me?”

“I guess it just boiled down to pure luck,” Matt said with a quick shrug.

Taken aback by how simple the entire thing actually was, Dahlia grunted and abruptly turned upward, staring straight at Zapdos as it glided around in the air with Patrick holding onto its back. “Throw that thing off! Drill Peck!”

“Patrick, keep your grip by any…” When he saw that Zapdos did not even have enough strength left in its burn-ravaged body to even use Drill Peck, Matt cut off his direction. He realized that the only thing remaining was to finally put an end to the battle once and for all. “Patrick, hit Zapdos square in the back with Drain Punch.”

While struggling to keep his hold on the Legendary Pokémon using only his left hand, Patrick raised up his right hand in a clenched fist. After holding it back for a short time to channel strength into it, he brought it down on the center of Zapdos’s back with great force.

Ordinarily, a Fighting-type move would do little against a Flying-type like Zapdos. However, because of the significant weakness left in Zapdos’s body by the burn plus Patrick’s precise aim, the expectation held by most of the spectators was defied. Zapdos plummeted from the sky and crashed into the floor with such speed that Patrick actually didn’t start falling until a split second later, allowing Matt the time to quickly plan his final move.

“Now, Patrick come down right on top of it with Earthquake!”

Before the stunned eyes of Dahlia along with Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and the rest of the crowd, Patrick clasped his hands together and flipped forward, delivering a devastating double punch to Zapdos’s body in a spot not far from where he’d just hit moments earlier. A seismic shockwave erupted from the impact, forcing Matt, Dahlia and the referee to brace themselves.

Though his body was violently shuddering, with every muscle wanting to give out, Patrick stood triumphant when he emerged from the final exchange. Zapdos lay nearby, sprawled out and crushed into a hole in the battlefield.

“Zapdos is unable to battle! The winner is Seismitoad, and the victor is Matt of Snowpoint City!”

“I don’t believe it!” exclaimed the announcer, though he was barely audible over the cheering erupting from the crowd. “What a show! At the end of this no-holds-barred clash of titans at the Battle Arcade, the challenger comes out on top, defeating Arcade Star Dahlia!!”

“Patrick, thank you!” Matt rushed forward when he saw Patrick, who was trying to walk to him, start to collapse. He managed to catch his Pokémon in his arms, and in response, Patrick weakly croaked and smiled in exhausted contentment. “Patrick, don’t worry anymore, you can rest now. That was amazing for one of your first battles with me.”

Dahlia, meanwhile, held up her Master Ball, bringing Zapdos back within it. “Another good show, my friend,” she said to it, putting the ball back on her belt. “Two losses in a row, but you can be blamed for neither. That’s just how the wheel spins and how the dice roll.”

Great amounts of chatter had already broken out amongst the audience members about what they had just witnessed. In the back of the seating area, lurking out of the active areas but having watched all along, Jessie, James and Meowth took advantage of this activity to cover their own actions with Wobbuffet standing alongside them.

“That’s that, then,” Jessie sighed, looking back down to the battlefield. “He could be a valuable ally to the cause if we play our cards right, don’t you think?”

“Right, Jessie, but what’s with all the people we’ve run into lately? Our hands were tied like a Tangrowth because that old man was strong, and obviously we can’t make Matt mad at us. You can see why.”

“That don’t really matter one way or the other in the end,” Meowth interjected. “The boss has got someone working on working him over. We ain’t got nothing to worry about with him. What still gets me, though, is what we’re gonna be doing to fix our little mess with the Meteonite piece.”

“We’ll lay low,” suggested James. “Come on, let’s leave. This certainly isn’t the place to have this talk.”

“Wobbuffet!” the blue Psychic-type Pokémon cheerfully shouted, waddling after his trainer and her friends as they left the arena.

-:-

“That was great! I loved it!”

Though she could not hug Matt as he came back out into the Battle Arcade’s lobby like she wanted, Olivia still greeted him with as much enthusiasm as she could muster from her crutches. Beside her stood Nekou, Bunny and Dante, all of whom were smiling, even the elderly doctor.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans,” Matt chuckled, scratching the back of his head. “It looks like you’re feeling lively again, Olivia. That’s good.”

“Watching you battle helped me remember what I want to do,” the girl explained. “I know I can do it. You inspired me to keep trying to make my dream come true!”

Briefly hesitating when he was forced to consider just what Olivia’s dream was, Matt slowly turned to the others. “And what did you three think?”

“Even I have to admit when you do something right.” Nekou spoke with a huff in her voice, but in reality, she was simply trying to annoy Matt by being sarcastic. “The tactics you used were actually kind of impressive.”

“Especially how you defeated Zapdos,” Bunny quickly chimed in.

“In that battle, the Pokémon and their trainers worked together very well, which brought out the best of their abilities.” The others turned their heads in Dante’s direction while he continued musing, “My theory is that it came down to who could improvise better, and Matt, you flying blind that whole time may just have saved you. Dahlia had all her strategies planned out so well in advance that when you made things up, it put her out of her comfort zone.”

“What are you saying about me, old man?!”

When Dahlia came bounding out of the arena doorway, speaking playfully and far too loudly for the situation, she made the group of four jump in surprise. In fact, Matt almost landed right in Nekou’s arms because of how far he stumbled.

“What?” Even Dante, as calculating as he was, couldn’t completely process Dahlia’s sudden arrival.

“Oh, relax, I’m just playing with you. You’re not too far from the truth, really…” Turning to Matt, who had managed to compose himself, Dahlia continued, “Matt, your ability to go in with a rough framework of a plan and retool it on the fly is something that will serve you well going forward, but do realize that the rest of the Frontier Brains are tougher than me.”

“Sure, that sounds like a good thing…” he said in sarcastic response.

“Relax, you’ll be fine. So what will you do now?”

“Well…” Matt hesitated as he spoke; he was unsure if discussing the subject was a good idea. Ultimately deciding that explaining his motives could prove helpful, he said, “I’m looking to find Reshiram, actually. I want to see the truths its fire burns to reveal.”

“Well, you sure picked a hell of a region to do it in! That’s Unova, not Johto!” Matt and Bunny could only stare with stunned expressions at Dahlia, as her airy, casual tone completely mismatched against how serious he was being. “Sorry, though, in all seriousness, I don’t really know anything about that. You might want to talk to the Factory Head, the Frontier Brain of the Battle Factory in Goldenrod City, though. He’s more into the details of legends than I am.”

“Goldenrod City,” Bunny repeated. “That’s pretty far from here.”

“I guess we’ll be waiting a while, then…” The dejected tone in Matt’s voice could not be missed. His disappointment at losing a potential lead came right out to the surface.

“The Factory Head knows a lot of things, that’s why he got put in charge of a facility specializing in knowledge itself. Anyway, check this out. It’s what you earned by defeating me.” Reaching into a pocket inside her shirt, Dahlia withdrew a golden coin and flipped it to Matt, who caught it with his right hand. Printed on it was an image of one of the Battle Arcade’s onion domes. “It’s the medal for winning here at my Battle Arcade. With it, you can go on the Frontier Society’s website and get an additional prize.”

“Thanks, I’ll have to remember to do that. Thank you for the great battle, too.”

“Think nothing of it. Anyway, I gotta get back in there to see some more challengers, so I’ll see you around. Good luck out there!”

“Bye!” Olivia called out to Dahlia, who had turned and begun swaggering back to the arena.

“She is… certainly someone I’m not going to forget meeting anytime soon,” Bunny sighed.

“Mister Chiaki?”

An unfamiliar voice coming from behind prompted Matt to turn around. Standing there, clutching a black briefcase and gasping for air, was a well-groomed man in a brown suit.

“Yeah, that’s me, Matt Chiaki. Who are you?”

“Sorry, please forgive me. I’m just glad I managed to catch up with you.” Straightening up, the man smoothed out his suit and straightened his yellow tie, giving himself a much more professional look. He offered his hand to Matt, saying, “That was rude of me. Please allow me to introduce myself. The name’s Dominic.”

“Well met, then.” Seeing no reason to turn down the courtesy Dominic was showing him, Matt took the man’s hand for a firm handshake.

“That’s quite the handshake,” Dominic immediately pointed out. Noticing the confused looks that greeted this rather odd proclamation, he hurried to explain, “I’m a salesman for the Angel Corporation, you see, so in my line of work a good handshake goes a long way. Anyway, I hope I’m not intruding too much, but when I saw you here, Mr. Chiaki, I had to give approaching and asking you a shot.”

“Ask me what?” Matt found himself less bothered by Dominic’s presence than his seeming inability to actually get to the point. Nekou was standing just behind him and giving Dominic an exaggerated death stare, but Matt was completely unaware of this.

“Will you be going to Violet City?”

“Wait, that’s it?” The sheer simplicity of the question caught Matt completely off guard, and he did not have an answer ready.

“Of course!” Olivia immediately cut in. “That’s where my first Gym is!”

“But why would you want to know?” A hint of suspicion flavored Nekou’s inquiry. Harboring a dislike for not knowing what was happening, she felt uncomfortably on edge.

“I said I was a salesman, well, I’m actually a traveling salesman. I’m asking about Violet City because my son and two daughters are attending Earl’s Pokémon Academy there for a while, and after seeing you battle, I’d really appreciate it if you could meet them.”

“I don’t think I see any reason why I should say no,” Matt answered with a shrug. “It’s not out of the way…”

“Good choice, I wanted to go!” In a complete departure from her previous feelings, Nekou now loudly supported the proposal. “A school would have one of my favorite things in it!”

“I swear,” Matt sighed, “if you say free food…”

“No, that’s number two.” Ignoring the look of exasperation plastered on Matt’s face, she continued, “I’m talking about books, the one thing that goes well with absolutely anything. I’ll read as much as I want there.”

“And you never know,” Bunny added, “we could find a clue about Reshiram there.”

“Good point. What about you, Olivia? What do you think?”

“I say we go. I could warm up for the Gym there.”

Turning back to Dominic, Matt shrugged again and said, “There you have it, we’ll go.”

“Thank you, Mr. Chiaki, thank you very much!” Seizing up Matt’s hand once more, Dominic smiled broadly as he spoke. “I’m sure my kids will appreciate meeting you very much. Now, please excuse me. I’ll have to be taking my leave now so I can get back to them.”

-:-

Pierce barely had a chance to step through the door of Dr. Zager’s run-down laboratory before the doctor was upon him. Even though the scientist was visibly angry, Pierce managed to remain completely stone-faced.

“Is it correct to assume that you received my report, Dr. Zager?”

“Oh, I received it, Pierce, and I’m not very happy with what I saw in it!” Zager threw his hands up in the air in frustration and walked a few steps away from Pierce before quickly returning. “You cannot simply spill Team Rocket’s plans to people you run into on the street!” he hissed through teeth masked by his mustache. “Any of them could be members of Polaris! All it takes is one slip up for us all to be destroyed!”

“I just ask that you pass on the information I supplied to Giovanni,” Pierce flatly said. “I am confident that he will judge what I did as correct.”

“And what if you’re wrong?”

“You boys ought to stop fighting,” Ariana suggested, walking up to Zager’s computer console. She was playful at first but quickly turned serious. “I’ve already passed the information on.”

“And I have already received it.”

The stern, powerful voice of the man on the screen brought both Zager and Pierce into line nearly instantly. Both the younger agent and the older scientist dropped down onto one knee and set their right hands over their hearts while Ariana stood by.

“Hail Giovanni!” both declared in unison.

“Dispense with the formalities,” Giovanni ordered, waving his hand to dismiss their actions. Before speaking further, the Team Rocket leader adjusted the lapel of his suit – a black article with red pinstripes – and pushed up his blood-red necktie. “Pierce, you have had interactions with a representative of the Tenganist people?”

“That is correct, sir,” Pierce rigidly replied. “She informed me that their surviving numbers are planning to rebel against Polaris, so I marshaled her into an agreement, the details of which you can see in my report.”

“Yes, we arm them and in return they will cooperate with our efforts to destroy Polaris. I see it here.”

“With all due respect, sir,” Zager interrupted, “this plan is very risky. We do not know if the Tenganists have been infiltrated by Polaris in the first place.”

“Dr. Zager, this goes far deeper than simple alliances. There has been a systematic campaign to eradicate the Tenganist people going on in secret. Many of their settlements have been destroyed, Michina Town being the first we know of, and the chief suspect we’ve identified as being behind this genocide is Ghetsis Harmonia. His hatred of the Tenganists is a poorly kept secret that Team Rocket’s intelligence forces picked up in Unova.”

“And as Ghetsis is now the public spokesman of Polaris in the Tohjo Continent,” Pierce continued, using Giovanni’s line of thought, “there is an obvious connection between the cleansing of the Tenganist people and Polaris. Also…” Pierce’s face darkened, and his normally forceful voice became much weaker. “My sister and I had our mother taken from us by Ghetsis and Polaris. Yes, I am one of them.”

“Stacia is as well, Dr. Zager.”

Under the intense eyes of Giovanni, Pierce and Ariana, Zager slowly stepped back and leaned against the nearby lab table. “This is getting worse and worse… fine. I agree to the plan to arm the Tenganists, but I want the supplies I send to be carefully observed.”

“I will take the responsibility of escorting the shipment of goods to their designated point,” Pierce volunteered without hesitation. “They are my people, even if I am not as devout as them.”

“I’m going out, too,” Ariana announced, stepping forward with her hand on her hip.

“I can’t say I think that’s a good idea. I recommend you stay here, Ariana.”

Sighing at Zager, Ariana shot back, “And because that’s one dumb-*** suggestion, I’m going to ignore it. You’ve got agents in the field who could be in way over their heads right now.”

“You’re both wrong,” Giovanni intervened. “Jessie, James and Meowth failed me more times than I can remember. But, they have proven their worth through their actions during our operations in Unova. They are some of Team Rocket’s top operatives and I have full confidence in their ability to get the mission done. That said, however, I do not object to dispatching an Executive to assist them. Ariana, do what you must to accomplish the mission.”

“You got it, boss!”

-:-

Sitting in his ornate, finely-furnished office, Giovanni pressed a key on the videophone device on his desk to close the call to Dr. Zager’s laboratory. Just then, the sound of his door creaking open caught his attention.

A young woman, bearing back-length purple hair and cold green eyes framed by glasses, carefully worked her way into the room, holding a cup of coffee on a saucer. She slowly and deliberately walked forward toward Giovanni’s desk, taking great care not to let her shaky hands spill the coffee on the red-and-purple material of her military-style dress. Eventually managing to reach her boss safely, she set the cup down before him.

“Mister Giovanni… the coffee you asked for…”

“Thank you, Stacia,” he answered, showing a rare moment of gratitude before slipping back into the dour mood that was already consuming him.

As his loyal secretary and someone who would willingly kill or die for him at the drop of a hat, however, Stacia knew more than enough to be able to read Giovanni’s face without a struggle. “Is something wrong, sir?”

Giovanni did not reply at first. Instead, he turned his chair around, giving himself a view through the huge window positioned behind his desk. His faithful Pokémon, Persian, walked up to his side and meowed, so Giovanni scratched the large, cream-colored cat under the chin, prompting him to purr contentedly.

“Stacia, when did we end up as the ones who must hold up the world? Polaris cannot be allowed to continue with what they are planning. A world ruled by the warped beliefs of Polaris can never move forward, and that would destroy Team Rocket as well.”

-:-

Once again, Ghetsis was standing outside the electronic prison in which he had placed Concordia and Anthea, listening to their findings.

“We have only translated one passage fully so far, Lord Ghetsis,” Concordia explained, detached from the situation despite the high chance of Ghetsis going into an explosive rage over it.

“It speaks of the two heroes in Unova legend, the White Hero of Truth and Black Hero of Ideals. We have not found anything more yet, only that this legend is involved.”

“I’m keeping you two alive and this is what you repay me with?!!” Of course, Ghetsis actually did end up exploding. Slamming his cane into the ground over and over, he fumed, “I won’t be able to keep ahead of those small-minded, imperfect fools on the Sacred Helix at this rate! I must! I am a perfect being, the perfect ruler for a world that shall be shaped into perfection!”

“Lord Ghetsis, come in,” a voice coming from a device in Ghetsis’s ear said. “This is Shadow Triad leader Darkness.”

“Report!” Ghetsis snapped.

“We have extensively searched Ecruteak City and Route 36 for your son and the Tenganist prophet. No results. What are your orders, my lord?”

Ghetsis closed his eyes and stood still, trying to calm his mind so he could process the information being supplied to him. Concordia and Anthea sat by and watched through the translucent walls of their prison as several tense seconds slowly passed by.

“Split up,” Ghetsis spoke once he finally reopened his eyes. “Darkness, you and Pestilence go to the west, toward Goldenrod City. Send Chaos off to the east, in the direction of Violet City and Cherrygrove City. Find those two freaks no matter the cost!”

“Your orders are our command!”

Taking his hand off his ear, Ghetsis slowly pivoted on his cane to face the two women in his cage, who were watching him with empty stares. “Prepare to bear witness to the rise of the man born to rule this broken planet! It’s been so many long years in the making…”

As he walked toward the room’s exit, Ghetsis began laughing to himself, smug in the confidence he held in his plans.

-:-

That night, the group was once again staying in the Pokémon Center’s hotel. Matt decided to go to sleep earlier than Olivia and Bunny, who were watching television together in the lobby, while Nekou was nowhere to be seen. After bidding them good night, he headed for the room the four of them were staying in.

As he entered the room, he reached for the wall next to the door, looking for the light switch he needed to trip to illuminate the darkness. The one thing he didn’t expect, though, was to have his hand held down on the switch by the hand of someone that was already there.

“Aah! Who’s there?!”

Whoever was attacking Matt pinned him against the door, which they slammed shut with their leg. Now blind in the dark room, he thought of defending himself but lacked the willpower to do so.

“Marie, turn on the lamp.”

“Snea!”

Nekou’s Sneasel turned on the lamp sitting on the nearby table, allowing Matt enough light to see that his so-called assailant was really nobody more than Nekou herself. Sighing, he tried to push her away, but she only released his left arm, the one that had been reaching for the light switch in the first place.

“I’m not in the mood for this. Let me go to bed.”

“What’s Olivia doing?” There was a strange intensity in Nekou’s eyes as she asked this question, one that showed she wasn’t joking around as Matt thought she was.

“You can go out there and see for yourself.”

“Answer the question.”

Matt sighed once again. “Fine. She’s out there watching a Pokémon Baccer game with Bunny.”

“Alright.” With that, Nekou released Matt and started to walk away, but before long she turned right back to him. “You did really well at the Battle Arcade today.”

“I just did what a lot of others have done,” he answered in a bland voice.

“Don’t sell yourself short. Olivia really looks up to you, more than you seem like you even know.”

“You two really have hit it off, haven’t you? You haven’t even known each other for very long.” The uncharacteristic seriousness of Nekou’s attitude was beginning to make Matt feel uncomfortable. By this point he was trying to find a way to get out of the conversation.

“Olivia and I do get along very well, that’s right,” she concurred. “From what she’s told me, she really likes you, even if she doesn’t outwardly show it.”

“Get to the point, please.”

“She needs you more than ever right now,” Nekou explained, closing her eyes and breathing deeply to alleviate the tension from what she was saying. “You have to tell her the truth about what happened to Rich before she goes too far down the rabbit hole to be saved.”

“How can I do something like that?” This was the last thing Matt wanted to talk about. Feeling crushed both physically and mentally, he began to just simply talk without thinking. “I can’t break her like that, I just can’t. It’s my job to make sure she keeps going. How can trash like me even think to…”

He suddenly stopped when he felt Nekou put her hand on his cheek. She was staring right at him, but while her usual sarcastic tone returned, something about what she said still sounded strangely sincere.

“Trash? **** no, stop tearing yourself down like that. We’re all… I mean, Olivia and I are relying on you, and do you know why that is? Because we trust you.”

“Thanks, I, uh… guess.” It took a moment but something in what Nekou said caught in Matt’s mind as odd. “Wait, why are you relying on me too? For what?”

“That’s not important. Just promise me you’ll tell Olivia the truth.”

Matt found Nekou’s argument oddly compelling, and after some thought, he decided to go along with it. “Fine, after Olivia wins her first Badge, I’ll tell her what happened. I want to wait until then so she’ll have something to be confident in.”

“Now that’s the Matt I knew was in there.” Nekou moved over to the bed she was sleeping in and reached into the rumpled sheets, pulling out two cans of beer; she tossed one to Matt then opened the other. “That’s for you. Let’s celebrate a little, alright?”




END of CHAPTER 5

Matori
17th October 2012, 4:53 AM
I'll try and cover everything in this. There's so much I liked about this chapter though so I'm not sure where to start.


A blazing orange crept over the land as the sun rose the next morning, spreading peals of warm light over the autumn trees of the Tohjo Continent. Cherrygrove City glittered in the shine; for as depressing a place as the city could be, the first minutes of daylight brought even Cherrygrove’s dull streets to life.

Excellent use of imagery there. I really love how vivid your description always is in your writing.



Just outside the city, in the thicker woods off the road north, Jessie, James and Meowth stood speaking to Pierce.

“…that is what you need to know about what’s going on,” Pierce finished, running a hand through his shoulder-length, dark blue hair before putting his hat back on over it. He had just finished explaining a truncated version of his work from the past twenty-four hours. “I am going to return to the base to meet with Dr. Zager and Ariana regarding this. That means you three are in charge of maintaining the mission here in the field until I return.”

“But what are we supposed to do if things go bad? You were our extraction!”

“You know, James has got a point here,” Meowth concurred with his human companion. “Say we go after that chunk of space rock and Polaris shows up. Then what?”

With her hand on her hip, Jessie stepped up to face the others. “Do you two even hear yourselves? The boss didn’t put us on this mission for nothing. If we play our cards carefully we’re going to be just fine. We don’t have to have our hands held for everything we do!”

“You’re both right,” Pierce intervened. “I will return to aid you once more when my business at the base is finished. It will not be that long. For now, this is your assignment – continue monitoring the group involving Matt Chiaki, Olivia Mistbloom, Bunny Spruce and Dante Fantomos. The old man is in possession of the Meteonite fragment, so if you get a chance to take it with little risk, do it. If not, remember that a contingency plan is already uploaded into your R-Pad.”

Pierce makes everything better always. Good work making Jessie the badass lady in charge she should be.



“This is going to be a lot harder than it has to be if you don’t put some effort into it, James!” she yelled, straightening her back to give herself a height advantage over her partner.

“Oh, come on, Jessie, you know I’m not throwing it in that easily. I just don’t like taking orders from Pierce.”

“I agree with that,” Meowth chimed in. “The boss is the only one who’s worthy of giving us orders!”

“We’ll listen to Pierce but the boss is the one we really work hard for.”

This was a really cute scene and I think you have their priorities perfect as far as the three of them go. I get the impression they don't really like listening to anyone they're not used to working for and you showed this perfectly. You also did a really good job showing James and Meowth as bros to each other who have each other's backs.


Nestled in a cluster of tall buildings near Cherrygrove City’s shoreline stood a wide structure with four spires reaching up to the sky, each one ending in a diamond-patterned onion dome. The early afternoon sun glittered on the façade, casting a glare over the street where Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Dante all stood. Several red flags trimmed with gold borders hung around the building’s entrance, each bearing the stylized Poké Ball surrounded by seven stars that served as the Frontier Society’s logo.

Beautiful use of description there.


None of them noticed Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet – all disguised in their trenchcoats – slip in right behind them.


WOBBUFFET IN A TRENCHCOAT. That will not be obvious at all nothing can ever go wrong with this.



“I guess so,” Nekou answered. She puffed up her cheeks and exaggerated her facial expression to act like she was frustrated at being told to go somewhere, even though she fully knew this was normal and to be expected. “Don’t **** it up out there, or there’ll be hell to pay. I’ll see to that.”

haha never change, Nekou.


“I can tell you’re all fired up, so let’s move ahead and get started with the first show of the day! Coming in first is a challenger who is making his debut on our young Frontier Society circuit! Going for his first medal here at the Battle Arcade, please welcome Matt from Snowpoint City!”

I really enjoyed reading the announcer in this chapter and the vast amount of enthusiasm he has. His announcing during the big battle against Dahlia really did well to keep me in the action of the battle and make me feel like I was actually in a stadium full of cheering spectators, and he's very believable as an announcer.


“Our challenger is now set!” the announcer declared while Matt simply stood there, still feeling some nerves from the relatively small space and the crowd. The lights dimmed and multicolored disco lights started to flow around the stadium, leading the audience to cheer more loudly than ever. “Yes, everyone, you know what that means! You know what time it is! Now, allow me to introduce once more the woman of the hour! The one you’ve all been waiting for! The one, the only… Arcade Star Dahlia!!”

Made me want to dance. Dahlia's definitely got the most thrilling introduction.


“Welcome, challenger!” Dahlia cheerfully said in greeting, striking a sharp pose with her hand on her hip. “Welcome to my Battle Arcade! How are you feeling today? Lucky?”
I get the feeling Dahlia's going to give him more than he bargained for.


“Let’s just say I’ll be feeling more lucky once we get this battle going,” he replied straightforwardly. This wasn’t a lie, as the anticipation of the battle was intimidating him more than the battle itself. Unfortunately, he was unable to mask it well.

I think this is an important part of Matt's personality and you show it well. He's not the best with crowds as you've shown before and that's a major challenge he has to overcome in this battle. I think the fact that Pokemon battles are about the trainer is often forgotten and there are definitely factors that can make a battle easier or harder for the trainer in question.


“This big game board will determine the conditions we battle under,” Dahlia explained. “Anything could come from it. You could trigger a rainstorm, or maybe some sunlight or relentless hail... we could battle in a Trick Room or with our Pokémon asleep… we could even trade teams before we battle! Truly, the possibilities are endless!” Having worked herself into a frenzy, Dahlia threw her arms into the air before finishing her speech. “Hit the button to stop the board, okay? Now… set it in motion! Let’s go!”

Dahlia's enthusiasm just makes me smile so much.




There was a lot I liked about the actual battle but pulling out and quoting all of it would take forever so I'll just pull out examples of what I liked most and comment on those.



“Like that one?” Dahlia casually said to Matt, who simply stood there stunned by his Aggron’s ordeal. “That’s actually one of my favorite Contest moves. I see you look surprised… did you actually think I’d leave everything up to luck? Like I said, the best kind of luck is the kind you make for yourself. This Battle Arcade and everything inside it is my home, and in here, everything happens according to my luck. You’re clearly relying on something different… chance. Chance is when you throw all caution to the wind and let things happen as they will… now let me show you what the true meaning of luck is. Togekiss, the grand finale!” Throwing her arms wide, Dahlia called out into the air, “Water Pulse!!”

Dahlia's motif of luck that she uses in all her speeches was something I really enjoyed, the difference between luck and chance with luck being something you make for yourself as opposed to chance. It really sets the tone for one of the major themes of this whole battle. I also really love how she uses her contest moves in battle because it makes an important point about how knowledge is important to a trainer.



“Is he going to be okay?”

Snapping out of her bubble, Bunny turned to see Olivia pulling on Nekou’s arm. What truly surprised her wasn’t the fact that Olivia was turning to Nekou for alleviation of her doubts, as she’d already recognized how the two seemed to connect. It was instead how deadly serious Nekou seemed to be treating the whole matter.

“You don’t worry, Olivia,” the dark-haired woman reassured. “Even if he can’t come through for himself, he’ll do it for you. The amount of strength one can gain just by knowing their actions mean something to someone else is unbelievable.”

Showing Olivia's reactions throughout the battle was a VERY important detail to show, because it not only shows how important Matt is to her but that Matt's not just battling for his own glory, he's doing this for those who trust him too. And I really love how both Matt and Olivia rely on each other to keep going. It's a really good dynamic to show in a situation like this.



“I think two people can have the same luck. Chance has given me a shot of demonstrating that. Nikola, use Blizzard up into the clouds!”

Both Dahlia and the collective audience gasped in surprise at Matt’s improvised strategy. Almost immediately upon Nikola beginning to shoot gusts of frosty wind up into the rainclouds, the rain itself changed temporarily into hail. The icy stones crashed loudly against the battlefield, but Dahlia was paying that no heed. Instead, she was staring at and gesturing frantically to her Togekiss while attempting to give it commands. As she was caught in the sudden storm, Togekiss could only suffer under repeated strikes until she gave in and fell to the ground.

The way Matt exploits the weather conditions in this battle was really my favorite part. It's a strategy you don't normally see and the way he was able to take things he watched and translate them to help him out was really clever and enjoyable to see.



Snickering, Nikola quickly shot a lightning bolt in a random direction and sustained the charge for several seconds. The electricity caught onto the raindrops at an exponential rate, and soon, the entire field was flooded by electrical energy.

The mental image of a snickering Rotom is adorable. Also, electrified raindrops is the greatest thing in ever.


“Yes, it’s what you’ve been waiting for! Arcade Star Dahlia’s Zapdos has entered the battle! Hold on to your seats, because now you know we’re in for a ride!”

“They’re in for a ride?” Matt quietly growled through his gritted teeth, attempting to grasp the sheer magnitude of the task before him. “How about the ride I’m in for?”

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh ****.


“That’s a burn, the secondary effect of Scald! Zapdos is on the clock now!”

An important detail to note- in a way, Scald greatly equalized the playing field, so to speak. Dahlia had to finish her plans quickly because burning isn't a joke and any time Zapdos could have been wiped out completely.


“Zapdos, it’s time for us to take the lead!” Compared to her earlier difficulties, Dahlia appeared to be getting her hyper, cheerful edge back. “Ominous Wind!”

**** Ominous Wind. Seriously that move caused me so much grief in the games and when it comes out I assume bad things are about to go down.


The tension in this Zapdos battle scene was really well-handled, I think. Like the rest of the battle, I was constantly left guessing what would happen next, but this had the added tension of being the final round so it was even more important and anything could cause a sudden loss on either side.



“Zapdos… you’re not going to last much longer, are you?” Already knowing the answer to this question, Dahlia turned her head back down and stared at Matt. Her gaze was intense enough to make him uncomfortable; to him, her eyes were like two spears piercing into his own. “Fine!” she boomed, pointing her finger at him. “Matt Chiaki, you’ve put on a good show for us here today, so as a sign of respect, I will show you my special finishing move! Zapdos, use Heat Wave! Follow it with Drill Peck! Then, finish this with Thunderbolt!”

This is a really rough sequence of attacks and I kind of cringed when I realized there was a reason she was that specific.


“Now I’ve seen ****ing everything…” he thought, unable to form words for a minute due to the sheer shock of what had happened and what he’d seen.

That makes two of us.


Matt's finishing combo of moves (Drain Punch+Earthquake) was really brutal and satisfying to see because of all the hurt Dahlia had put on him in the match, and overall I really enjoyed how action-packed and unpredictable this battle ended up being.



“Wobbuffet!” the blue Psychic-type Pokémon cheerfully shouted, waddling after his trainer and her friends as they left the arena.


Wobbuffet closing TR's scene at the end of this battle really made it for me. You did really well capturing the spirit of them in the show with that bit.


Though she could not hug Matt as he came back out into the Battle Arcade’s lobby like she wanted, Olivia still greeted him with as much enthusiasm as she could muster from her crutches. Beside her stood Nekou, Bunny and Dante, all of whom were smiling, even the elderly doctor.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans,” Matt chuckled, scratching the back of his head. “It looks like you’re feeling lively again, Olivia. That’s good.”

SO CUTE.



“What are you saying about me, old man?!”


haha, I love how sassy Dahlia is.


“Oh, relax, I’m just playing with you. You’re not too far from the truth, really…” Turning to Matt, who had managed to compose himself, Dahlia continued, “Matt, your ability to go in with a rough framework of a plan and retool it on the fly is something that will serve you well going forward, but do realize that the rest of the Frontier Brains are tougher than me.”

I think this is an important warning for Matt and also a wake-up call of sorts- he's going to be in really deep when he challenges more of the frontier.


“Good choice, I wanted to go!” In a complete departure from her previous feelings, Nekou now loudly supported the proposal. “A school would have one of my favorite things in it!”

“I swear,” Matt sighed, “if you say free food…”

“No, that’s number two.” Ignoring the look of exasperation plastered on Matt’s face, she continued, “I’m talking about books, the one thing that goes well with absolutely anything. I’ll read as much as I want there.”

Nekou has her priorities in order. :D


“You boys ought to stop fighting,” Ariana suggested, walking up to Zager’s computer console. She was playful at first but quickly turned serious. “I’ve already passed the information on.”

“And I have already received it.”

The stern, powerful voice of the man on the screen brought both Zager and Pierce into line nearly instantly. Both the younger agent and the older scientist dropped down onto one knee and set their right hands over their hearts while Ariana stood by.

“Hail Giovanni!” both declared in unison.

“Dispense with the formalities,” Giovanni ordered, waving his hand to dismiss their actions. Before speaking further, the Team Rocket leader adjusted the lapel of his suit – a black article with red pinstripes – and pushed up his blood-red necktie. “Pierce, you have had interactions with a representative of the Tenganist people?”

I really enjoyed this bit in particular because it nicely captures what I love about a lot of the interactions between Giovanni and other Rockets, especially from earlier in the show, where everything is very official and foreboding and atmospheric, and the way you captured that interesting type of tension was very cool. I also love how Pierce and Zager are super official and formal and Ariana's just standing there.


“Dr. Zager, this goes far deeper than simple alliances. There has been a systematic campaign to eradicate the Tenganist people going on in secret. Many of their settlements have been destroyed, Michina Town being the first we know of, and the chief suspect we’ve identified as being behind this genocide is Ghetsis Harmonia. His hatred of the Tenganists is a poorly kept secret that Team Rocket’s intelligence forces picked up in Unova.”


More of that showing Gio as a thinker that I love oh so much.


Sighing at Zager, Ariana shot back, “And because that’s one dumb-*** suggestion, I’m going to ignore it. You’ve got agents in the field who could be in way over their heads right now.”

to quote the same source material, "I understand that reference." Nice shout-out there.


“You’re both wrong,” Giovanni intervened. “Jessie, James and Meowth failed me more times than I can remember. But, they have proven their worth through their actions during our operations in Unova. They are some of Team Rocket’s top operatives and I have full confidence in their ability to get the mission done. That said, however, I do not object to dispatching an Executive to assist them. Ariana, do what you must to accomplish the mission.”

PERFECT I wish there were more portrayals of him like this with regards to how he views his subordinates instead of just "generic misanthrope."


A young woman, bearing back-length purple hair and cold green eyes framed by glasses, carefully worked her way into the room, holding a cup of coffee on a saucer. She slowly and deliberately walked forward toward Giovanni’s desk, taking great care not to let her shaky hands spill the coffee on the red-and-purple material of her military-style dress. Eventually managing to reach her boss safely, she set the cup down before him.

Everything that is awesome about Matori's character in one gorgeously detailed paragraph.


Instead, he turned his chair around, giving himself a view through the huge window positioned behind his desk. His faithful Pokémon, Persian, walked up to his side and meowed, so Giovanni scratched the large, cream-colored cat under the chin, prompting him to purr contentedly.

Gotta have Persian in there somewhere.



“I’m keeping you two alive and this is what you repay me with?!!” Of course, Ghetsis actually did end up exploding. Slamming his cane into the ground over and over, he fumed, “I won’t be able to keep ahead of those small-minded, imperfect fools on the Sacred Helix at this rate! I must! I am a perfect being, the perfect ruler for a world that shall be shaped into perfection!”

Ghetsis's entire scene gave me chills but particularly this part. I can't imagine what Concordia and Anthea must be feeling in that cell.


“Split up,” Ghetsis spoke once he finally reopened his eyes. “Darkness, you and Pestilence go to the west, toward Goldenrod City. Send Chaos off to the east, in the direction of Violet City and Cherrygrove City. Find those two freaks no matter the cost!”

Clever naming.


The final scene between Nekou and Matt makes her even more mysterious- it's clear this is a lady who gets what she wants and looks out for those she cares for, and it's very clear she's very invested in Olivia. I think you added a great deal to her with that closing scene of your chapter, and added equal amounts to the stakes Matt faces. I think he's starting to realize that he eventually needs to let Olivia know exactly what's going on or he's going to really have her trust in him shaken in the end if she hears it from someone who's not him, or at least that's how I see it. I think Nekou's discussion with him was an important one to have and Matt is incredibly lucky to have received it because he really DOES need to check himself.

Also, I really love that you had her hiding two beers under the sheets, because of course she would.

Great work all around. I'm totally looking forward to your next chapter now.

Bay
17th October 2012, 8:32 PM
The first part I want to say real quick I like Jessie’s comment over them not needing to be held hands all the time. Nice moment for her there.

Over the battle, yay a rainfall one! XD I love Dahlia use of Psychic during the rainfall, though I predicted Matt will use it to make temporary hail.


“There’s got to be a way out of this,” Matt thought, even going as far as shutting his eyes to try to focus. “Come on, think of something!”
Not sure if you’re having Matt saying his thoughts aloud here, but going to assume so as you’re using quotation marks there. If that’s the case, already mention your repetition of having characters say their thoughts aloud too many times. :x Otherwise you can just italicize his thoughts.


Snickering, Nikola quickly shot a lightning bolt in a random direction and sustained the charge for several seconds. The electricity caught onto the raindrops at an exponential rate, and soon, the entire field was flooded by electrical energy.
Love the image of Nikola snickering. XD


The Water-and-Grass-type Pokémon muttered nervously and adjusted her sombrero while waiting for the air to clear.
And don’t know why, but thought that’s an adorable image, heh.


“Nikola, good job! That was exactly what I needed!” Though Matt’s praise of his Rotom was expressed in a confident-sounding voice, Matt was anything but confident at that point.

Minor, but the repetition of Matt’s name sounds a bit awkward. Replace the second Matt with “he” will easily fix that.


“So it comes down to this…” Having recalled Nikola, Matt stood rigidly in a way that caused his eye to be obscured by the shadow of his hat’s brim. “I’ve got to pin all my hopes on this last one after all… out of these three, he’s my newest Pokémon, but I’m not going to just let this go…” Whipping his head up, he sharply added, “I’m not letting this go because those who run cannot find the truth! Patrick, make your mark!!”
Er, yeah, have to point out Matt talking his thoughts aloud again (even Dahlia notices that, heh). :x

Onto the end of the battle, nice use of Pressure. Predicted Matt would win, but I admit to liking the idea of Patrick on Zapdos’ back, haha. Overall a fun and entertaining battle.


“You’re both wrong,” Giovanni intervened. “Jessie, James and Meowth failed me more times than I can remember. But, they have proven their worth through their actions during our operations in Unova. They are some of Team Rocket’s top operatives and I have full confidence in their ability to get the mission done. That said, however, I do not object to dispatching an Executive to assist them. Ariana, do what you must to accomplish the mission.”
Yay for continuity from the anime!

Like Nekusagi, I too like the conversation between Neku and Matt. Not surprised Neku relies on Matt just as much as Olivia does (meant it in a good way!)

Another enjoyable chapter there! Looking forward to more.

The Great Butler
18th October 2012, 11:13 AM
Excellent use of imagery there. I really love how vivid your description always is in your writing.

Thank you. I wanted to give a sort of painting-like image for that opening scene.


Pierce makes everything better always. Good work making Jessie the badass lady in charge she should be.

I'm starting to feel really comfortable writing them, finally. I think I found my groove with them.


This was a really cute scene and I think you have their priorities perfect as far as the three of them go. I get the impression they don't really like listening to anyone they're not used to working for and you showed this perfectly. You also did a really good job showing James and Meowth as bros to each other who have each other's backs.

'Cute' wasn't really what I was going for with the scene, but I won't fault you for taking that away. The fact that the three of them are sort of like their own little family in a way is an especially important part of who they are as characters, I think, so I wanted to get that across.

As for them not liking taking orders from Pierce, it just seemed like something that would work, so I did it.


Beautiful use of description there.

Does what it has to do, I think.


WOBBUFFET IN A TRENCHCOAT. That will not be obvious at all nothing can ever go wrong with this.

THERE IS NO WAY ANYTHING ABOUT THIS COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG.


haha never change, Nekou.

She probably never will. XD;


I really enjoyed reading the announcer in this chapter and the vast amount of enthusiasm he has. His announcing during the big battle against Dahlia really did well to keep me in the action of the battle and make me feel like I was actually in a stadium full of cheering spectators, and he's very believable as an announcer.

I think having that little extra bit of in-universe narration definitely helps to move along the action and also to draw in the reader's interest a bit more.


Made me want to dance. Dahlia's definitely got the most thrilling introduction.

What I was going for there was to give Dahlia a completely over-the-top introduction to emphasize the showiness of the whole thing. Looks like I succeeded.


I get the feeling Dahlia's going to give him more than he bargained for.

Oh definitely.


I think this is an important part of Matt's personality and you show it well. He's not the best with crowds as you've shown before and that's a major challenge he has to overcome in this battle. I think the fact that Pokemon battles are about the trainer is often forgotten and there are definitely factors that can make a battle easier or harder for the trainer in question.

I actually almost forgot about this element until I remembered how I used it in The Victory Star of Fate. Now, I think I will keep working on it, now that it seems to be an element of his character that is going over well.


Dahlia's enthusiasm just makes me smile so much.

I really wanted to capture that essence, her character of being so excitable and intense yet confident.


Dahlia's motif of luck that she uses in all her speeches was something I really enjoyed, the difference between luck and chance with luck being something you make for yourself as opposed to chance. It really sets the tone for one of the major themes of this whole battle. I also really love how she uses her contest moves in battle because it makes an important point about how knowledge is important to a trainer.

And that ties into what I just said, about depicting Dahlia as knowledgeable and confident. She really knows the meaning of her facility well, and her intention is to impress that meaning into the challengers that she faces. I think that's something important that someone like a Frontier Brain should be doing.


Showing Olivia's reactions throughout the battle was a VERY important detail to show, because it not only shows how important Matt is to her but that Matt's not just battling for his own glory, he's doing this for those who trust him too. And I really love how both Matt and Olivia rely on each other to keep going. It's a really good dynamic to show in a situation like this.

Yes, you got that exactly right. That's exactly what those scenes were going for.


The way Matt exploits the weather conditions in this battle was really my favorite part. It's a strategy you don't normally see and the way he was able to take things he watched and translate them to help him out was really clever and enjoyable to see.

I think you'll like his battles, then. That's what he does - he thinks about things and tries to use what's available to him creatively.

I also thought it was important to show him taking advantage of what the battle condition offered him, because Dahlia is obviously not the only one able to use it.


The mental image of a snickering Rotom is adorable. Also, electrified raindrops is the greatest thing in ever.

Heh, yeah. Rotom is a troublemaker.


ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh ****.

Exactly the feeling you should have had there.


An important detail to note- in a way, Scald greatly equalized the playing field, so to speak. Dahlia had to finish her plans quickly because burning isn't a joke and any time Zapdos could have been wiped out completely.

Precisely. It was definitely the equalizer.


**** Ominous Wind. Seriously that move caused me so much grief in the games and when it comes out I assume bad things are about to go down.

And I didn't even have its secondary effect - boosting all stats - take effect!


The tension in this Zapdos battle scene was really well-handled, I think. Like the rest of the battle, I was constantly left guessing what would happen next, but this had the added tension of being the final round so it was even more important and anything could cause a sudden loss on either side.

That's a good analysis. I hadn't thought about the ramifications of it being the final match.


This is a really rough sequence of attacks and I kind of cringed when I realized there was a reason she was that specific.

I think that it could have been predicted - this technique was foreshadowed in the previous chapter by Dahlia using similar combinations while fighting Nando.


Matt's finishing combo of moves (Drain Punch+Earthquake) was really brutal and satisfying to see because of all the hurt Dahlia had put on him in the match, and overall I really enjoyed how action-packed and unpredictable this battle ended up being.

That's what it was going to come down to from the start, most likely - who could deliver the most forceful push over the line of defeat.


Wobbuffet closing TR's scene at the end of this battle really made it for me. You did really well capturing the spirit of them in the show with that bit.

I knew people would like the part with Wobbuffet. Myself, I like how well he still fits into their scenes even though their role is more serious here.


SO CUTE.

Get it while you can.


haha, I love how sassy Dahlia is.

I think it suits her.


I think this is an important warning for Matt and also a wake-up call of sorts- he's going to be in really deep when he challenges more of the frontier.

It makes for a good "oh ****" moment - after everything he had to do to defeat Dahlia, the other six are even stronger.


Nekou has her priorities in order. :D

Books and food. You bet she does.


I really enjoyed this bit in particular because it nicely captures what I love about a lot of the interactions between Giovanni and other Rockets, especially from earlier in the show, where everything is very official and foreboding and atmospheric, and the way you captured that interesting type of tension was very cool. I also love how Pierce and Zager are super official and formal and Ariana's just standing there.



More of that showing Gio as a thinker that I love oh so much.

I don't want to get preachy, but this is what I think Team Rocket really should be. They can work in humor, but the organization is still a major crime syndicate that is involved in some very deep things. Each one has their own defined role - Giovanni is almost like a businessman/CEO type who has to run Team Rocket like a corrupt corporation, Zager is someone who takes periodically weird science seriously, and Pierce is just a straight-laced secret agent.

Ariana, meanwhile, is pretty much the contrast to them. She's actually superior in rank to all of them but Giovanni, yet, she is the one who has the most casual attitude going about her job. Obviously I can't explain everything going on with every character now, but she has some more things coming that should give her more dimension, too.


to quote the same source material, "I understand that reference." Nice shout-out there.

I told you I'd do it. XD;


PERFECT I wish there were more portrayals of him like this with regards to how he views his subordinates instead of just "generic misanthrope."

Well, on one hand he does use his subordinates to advance his own agenda, but then again his agenda is Team Rocket's agenda too. I just think he appreciates the ones who are loyal and do a good job for him anyway.


Everything that is awesome about Matori's character in one gorgeously detailed paragraph.



Gotta have Persian in there somewhere.

Two things I can pretty much only say "yes" to.


Ghetsis's entire scene gave me chills but particularly this part. I can't imagine what Concordia and Anthea must be feeling in that cell.

That's if they can feel anything.


Clever naming.

I already told you, but for everyone else, explanation of the Shadow Triad's names.

Darkness, Pestilence and Chaos. Each one has a particular Pokemon, in order: Absol, Accelgor and Banette. Those three suit the names quite appropriately. Also, when some people suspected that the Striaton brothers were the Shadow Triad, After the name used when they battle you in B2W2 was revealed to be "Team Plasma Dark" (from Dark Trinity), it was proposed that there names were Dark(ness), Pestilence and Chaos - which have the same first letters as Dent, Pod and Corn, the brothers' Japanese names.



The final scene between Nekou and Matt makes her even more mysterious- it's clear this is a lady who gets what she wants and looks out for those she cares for, and it's very clear she's very invested in Olivia. I think you added a great deal to her with that closing scene of your chapter, and added equal amounts to the stakes Matt faces. I think he's starting to realize that he eventually needs to let Olivia know exactly what's going on or he's going to really have her trust in him shaken in the end if she hears it from someone who's not him, or at least that's how I see it. I think Nekou's discussion with him was an important one to have and Matt is incredibly lucky to have received it because he really DOES need to check himself.

Also, I really love that you had her hiding two beers under the sheets, because of course she would.

I see. I wanted that scene to be a deceptively-simple-but-surprisingly-complex look at her from several angles. She's completely violating his personal space, but she doesn't care, and she has a serious point she has to make with it. She's a character of seemingly conflicting traits and I wanted to capture some of that.

As for the beer cans... it's about easy access.


Great work all around. I'm totally looking forward to your next chapter now.

Thank you!


The first part I want to say real quick I like Jessie’s comment over them not needing to be held hands all the time. Nice moment for her there.

I wanted to capture some of their defiant attitude and overly-confident approach to things, and I think Jessie was the best to use to establish that.


Over the battle, yay a rainfall one! XD I love Dahlia use of Psychic during the rainfall, though I predicted Matt will use it to make temporary hail.

Good prediction skills, then. Both sides using the rain to their own advantage at times was another thing I felt important to show.


Not sure if you’re having Matt saying his thoughts aloud here, but going to assume so as you’re using quotation marks there. If that’s the case, already mention your repetition of having characters say their thoughts aloud too many times. :x Otherwise you can just italicize his thoughts.

It's internal dialogue he's thinking to himself, hence the quotation marks and italics together.


Love the image of Nikola snickering. XD

I think I may need to use this more often. XD;


And don’t know why, but thought that’s an adorable image, heh.

I took it from Ludicolo's animation in Colosseum and XD, actually. If you look closely, Ludicolo adjusts its hat as part of its animation after getting damaged.


Minor, but the repetition of Matt’s name sounds a bit awkward. Replace the second Matt with “he” will easily fix that.

You're right about that.


Er, yeah, have to point out Matt talking his thoughts aloud again (even Dahlia notices that, heh). :x

This time he actually was talking out loud to himself, but I'm not sure I totally understand what's wrong with that. Could you explain it more, please?


Onto the end of the battle, nice use of Pressure. Predicted Matt would win, but I admit to liking the idea of Patrick on Zapdos’ back, haha. Overall a fun and entertaining battle.

I decided to use Pressure because I wanted to use something that you don't see very often in battles within fics. I personally haven't seen much of abilities being used in such a way, so it was fun to do.

Yeah, sorry the outcome was a little predictable. I don't think I could have really helped it at this point.

Glad you liked the battle overall. I wanted it to be enjoyable and memorable.


Yay for continuity from the anime!

It's the best way to maintain the Trio's credibility, I think.


Like Nekusagi, I too like the conversation between Neku and Matt. Not surprised Neku relies on Matt just as much as Olivia does (meant it in a good way!)

Nekou meant it in more ways than one. There's a lot more to that scene than you might think...


Another enjoyable chapter there! Looking forward to more.

Thanks! You can bet there's going to be more.



I should put a note to everyone now, though: the next chapter is probably going to be quite long. It needs to cover a lot of material that can't easily be broken into two parts.

Bay
20th October 2012, 1:18 AM
This time he actually was talking out loud to himself, but I'm not sure I totally understand what's wrong with that. Could you explain it more, please?
My last review I already explained how you have the characters say aloud their thoughts and plans during the battle and not through narration. I know the anime does that several times, but if I were in a Pokemon battle in real life I wouldn't say my every feelings and such aloud. You should take advantage of the emotions more through narrative to make it more show and not tell. That's probably just me though. Hope this makes sense. D:

Morpher01
21st October 2012, 2:22 AM
Have to say, this was a pretty decent chapter.

Matt VS Dahlia, being the meat of the chapter, was handled pretty well, having a good amount of action and interesting tactics. The group's interactions are just as fun as ever, including Dante. Speaking of which...


While Nekou and Olivia were exchanging comments on Matt, Bunny happened to glance over to her other side. She spotted Dante sitting rigidly in the next seat, staring intently at the battle as if he was intending to memorize every single detail of it. At first disturbed by this, she quickly brushed it off and decided to pay it no mind.

Not a good idea, Bunny. Not a good idea in the least...

Anyway...

Gee, why am I not surprised that Ghetsis is plotting world domination AGAIN? Some people just don't learn, I guess. I do eagerly anticipate N's arrival on the scene, however.

And now, some obligatory quotations:


“Now, Patrick!” Matt shut his eyes as he held up his arm. He did not want to see what was about to happen. “Hit it head-on with Drain Punch!”

Showing more courage than his trainer, Patrick fearlessly faced the raging inferno that bore down on him. He didn’t expect to inflict much harm either, but he intended to come out having done something to help. With perfect timing, he swung his fist just perfectly to connect with Zapdos’s beak.

Zapdos’s frenzied attack was the one that won out, easily overwhelming Patrick. His Drain Punch, however, caused the Drill Peck/Heat Wave/Thunderbolt combination to go off target, and it instead mowed the Seismitoad down at his feet and pushed him down onto the Legendary Pokémon’s back.

A combination of Zapdos’s pained, frustrated squawks and the explosion of noise from the audience forced Matt to open his eyes and see what was going on – Zapdos flittering around the arena in a panic, trying to get Patrick off of its back.

“Now I’ve seen ****ing everything…” he thought, unable to form words for a minute due to the sheer shock of what had happened and what he’d seen.


Patrick is awesome. Enough said.


“Sorry, please forgive me. I’m just glad I managed to catch up with you.” Straightening up, the man smoothed out his suit and straightened his yellow tie, giving himself a much more professional look. He offered his hand to Matt, saying, “That was rude of me. Please allow me to introduce myself. The name’s Dominic.”

“Well met, then.” Seeing no reason to turn down the courtesy Dominic was showing him, Matt took the man’s hand for a firm handshake.

“That’s quite the handshake,” Dominic immediately pointed out. Noticing the confused looks that greeted this rather odd proclamation, he hurried to explain, “I’m a salesman for the Angel Corporation, you see, so in my line of work a good handshake goes a long way. Anyway, I hope I’m not intruding too much, but when I saw you here, Mr. Chiaki, I had to give approaching and asking you a shot.”

“Ask me what?” Matt found himself less bothered by Dominic’s presence than his seeming inability to actually get to the point. Nekou was standing just behind him and giving Dominic an exaggerated death stare, but Matt was completely unaware of this.

“Will you be going to Violet City?”

“Wait, that’s it?” The sheer simplicity of the question caught Matt completely off guard, and he did not have an answer ready.

“Of course!” Olivia immediately cut in. “That’s where my first Gym is!”

“But why would you want to know?” A hint of suspicion flavored Nekou’s inquiry. Harboring a dislike for not knowing what was happening, she felt uncomfortably on edge.

“I said I was a salesman, well, I’m actually a traveling salesman. I’m asking about Violet City because my son and two daughters are attending Earl’s Pokémon Academy there for a while, and after seeing you battle, I’d really appreciate it if you could meet them.”


I think I'm going to end up being suspicious of just about everyone who walks up to Matt and co., Dominic included. Especially if they, like him, are connected in some way to Angel Corp/Polaris.


“Split up,” Ghetsis spoke once he finally reopened his eyes. “Darkness, you and Pestilence go to the west, toward Goldenrod City. Send Chaos off to the east, in the direction of Violet City and Cherrygrove City. Find those two freaks no matter the cost!”

I know you've already explained your reasoning for the naming convention of the Shadow Triad, but I still find it interesting (and fitting) that their names are like the kind used by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


“Now that’s the Matt I knew was in there.” Nekou moved over to the bed she was sleeping in and reached into the rumpled sheets, pulling out two cans of beer; she tossed one to Matt then opened the other. “That’s for you. Let’s celebrate a little, alright?”

I suppose it was only a matter of time before this happened...


Everyone--Team Rocket and Polaris--is setting up for their plans down the road. Olivia's going to be challenging the Violet City Gym. Ghetsis is being a piece of crap. Everything comes together to form an awesome package.

Can't wait to see how this all unfolds. :)

The Great Butler
24th October 2012, 9:48 AM
Have to say, this was a pretty decent chapter.

Thank you!


Matt VS Dahlia, being the meat of the chapter, was handled pretty well, having a good amount of action and interesting tactics.

I hope to have more battles like it going forward. But, on the other hand, there has to be a diversity in how the battles go out, so I'll have to live up to the challenge of having a lot of different ideas up my sleeve.


The group's interactions are just as fun as ever, including Dante. Speaking of which...

Not a good idea, Bunny. Not a good idea in the least...

Hey, he just really gets into watching battles. Nothing wrong with that, right?

I'm satisfied to see that you still like the group dynamic at play here. Now that the first major battle plot has passed, I'd like to bring group relations more into focus again for a while.


Anyway...

Gee, why am I not surprised that Ghetsis is plotting world domination AGAIN? Some people just don't learn, I guess. I do eagerly anticipate N's arrival on the scene, however.

It's a little more complicated than that, but as for what it is he wants... we'll have to wait and see.


And now, some obligatory quotations:

Patrick is awesome. Enough said.

A lot of that turn of events was luck, in accordance with the theme of the fight, but yeah, he is pretty awesome. I wanted to give a Seismitoad a chance to shine.


I think I'm going to end up being suspicious of just about everyone who walks up to Matt and co., Dominic included. Especially if they, like him, are connected in some way to Angel Corp/Polaris.

That's something you're going to have to look at future events to decide.


I know you've already explained your reasoning for the naming convention of the Shadow Triad, but I still find it interesting (and fitting) that their names are like the kind used by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

To be honest, that part of it actually slipped my mind until it was pointed out to me.


I suppose it was only a matter of time before this happened...

I think I know where your mind is going, and the next chapter is going to show you it didn't go there.


Everyone--Team Rocket and Polaris--is setting up for their plans down the road. Olivia's going to be challenging the Violet City Gym. Ghetsis is being a piece of crap. Everything comes together to form an awesome package.

Can't wait to see how this all unfolds. :)

Thanks for all of your points. I'm very happy that you're enjoying the story so far.

Oh, here's something I'll toss out there: something is going to happen involving Team Rocket in the next chapter. They're not going to be on the sidelines anymore.

The Great Butler
17th November 2012, 8:44 AM
There’s going to be some violent content in this chapter. Nothing too intense, but I’d rather be more cautious than I have to be instead of not cautious enough. Also, language.

-:-

CHAPTER 6: Transcending Humanity

-:-

Matt and Nekou had spent a small amount of time talking over the beer she shared with him the previous night. Somehow, it was actually a worthwhile discussion – they spoke of Olivia’s well-being for a while, then started talking about books they liked. The alcohol took its toll on Matt, though, and he soon felt tired. It was not long after that that he simply fell asleep.

On the upside, though, he slept well and felt completely reinvigorated the next day. As he had finished eating well before the others had even all gotten up, he separated from them and left the Pokémon Center to await them at the gateway to Route 30. The bright morning sun cast golden light over the flowing grass stretching out beyond the borders of Cherrygrove City; it also warmed the earthy red leaves of the autumn trees surrounding the route.

He had a wait of about forty minutes before Nekou arrived with Olivia, Bunny and Dante in tow. Even when he knew they were behind him, however, he did not immediately turn around.

“Matt, I think you better see this…” Judging from her voice, something had clearly disturbed Bunny.

“What happened?” he wondered, taking his time to turn around.

The answer didn’t come immediately to him. He glanced over the four of them; the flamboyant young woman, his conservatively-dressed friend and her outlandish counterpart, and the elderly scientist wearing a brown coat and holding a briefcase in his hand. All of them merely stood before Matt and stared back as he tried to figure out what was wrong.

It didn’t take long for the truth to hit him like a speeding truck.

Olivia was standing there like the others.

“Olivia, your leg!” Matt exclaimed, adjusting his glasses in disbelief. “How are you standing there like that without your crutches?”

“I guess it just got better during the night,” Olivia answered with a shrug. “It was feeling a little better yesterday, and when I got up this morning, I could walk again.”

“It is atypical for someone to recover from an injury that quickly,” Dante stated. He hesitated briefly before adding, “But I’m sure you already knew that. The Pokémon Center nurse and I took her cast off before we came out here. I’m not sure why she recovered so quickly, but I’m sure there must be a reason.”

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, I say. Maybe she wasn’t injured as badly as we all thought. What do you think of that?”

Olivia smiled when Nekou patted her on the head, and in response to the question Nekou posed, she said, “You might be right, I guess. I’m not concerned about it.”

Though he wanted to accept Olivia’s decision, second thoughts clouded Matt’s mind. He stood still, unable to rid himself of a lingering concern that something just couldn’t possibly be right about Olivia’s miraculous recovery. To force it out of his head, he finally turned back around to face what he had been looking at.

“And I’ve got something to show you,” he declared, spreading his arms wide. “Take a look at this!”

Sitting just off the road, a robotic vehicle the size of a large truck greeted the eyes of Matt’s companions. Sleek in both its aerodynamic shape and primarily black coloration, it cut the figure of something out of a science fiction movie.

Nekou drew in a stunned breath, clearly impressed by what she was seeing. “That’s... you built this?”

“That is not the same one you had when we worked together years ago,” Bunny swiftly pointed out. “What happened to the old one?”

“For those of you who don’t already know,” Matt answered, “this is the HR-E second version, or HR-E 2 for short. The original HR-E was destroyed five years ago when its electronics got fried by an EMP and then it got blown up.”

“What… what is it, exactly?”

Matt nodded to acknowledge Dante’s question, as he clearly recognized the confusion present in the old man’s mind. “To put it simply, it’s a mobile home and a laboratory at the same time. I designed the original version using everything my robotics teacher taught me so I could use it to travel around and do field research. For this new version, I simply streamlined the old plans for the original. So what do you think? It can serve as a place to stay if we ever need such a thing, and I can call it to me no matter where we are!”

“I’m in.” As she responded almost instantly upon Matt finishing, Olivia was the first to get in her thoughts. “The old one that my dad, my mom and I stayed in was great, and the new build is even better.”

“I’ve got to agree,” Bunny concurred. “I don’t mind fieldwork, obviously, but if I have somewhere comfortable to sleep, I’ll take it.”

“I have to,” Dante added with a quick cough. “These old bones aren’t getting any younger.”

“We’re all on the same page then.” Smiling, Matt pointed directly down the road. “Route 30 awaits us, and beyond that Violet City, so let’s get going.”

-:-

At that same time, somewhere far away, Finansielle was meeting with Jeunes and Getriebe. The video screen displaying her armor-covered shoulders, head and face was so outsized that it allowed her to lord over the sterile, metallic laboratory where the two male Polaris members were.

“The correct solution is just eluding us, Finansielle,” Getriebe explained in a bored-sounding, monotonous voice. “We haven’t been able to find the genetic key that will make the Pokérus take the form we want.”

“But everything else is going exactly according to plan,” Jeunes made sure to hastily add, all while pushing up his Mewtwo mask to push up the glasses held underneath. “The gathering of battle data has gone smoothly. We’re tracking the Meteonite right now, and we have several teams ready to go to secure it, which I intend to personally lead. Getting back to the Pokérus for a moment, though, we have managed to find the way to trigger a transformation in its genetic makeup. We just don’t know how to get it to mutate into what we want yet.”

“I’m rather disappointed that I put so much investment into your research only for the most important answer to remain elusive.” Finansielle’s stinging criticism of their work prompted Getriebe – who was younger and wearing a helix-patterned suit along with his Electivire-themed helmet and mask – to shift his weight uncomfortably from one leg to the other. “It’s not that we don’t have a use for you any longer, though. Jeunes, what you should be doing is overseeing the collection of the Meteonite.”

“It will get done, I swear it. The final stage of our search is not far off.”

“Good. And Getriebe, your role is to continue gathering the battle data necessary for when we have the modified Pokérus and the equipment to harness it ready.”

“Of course, Finansielle,” Getriebe said while leaning forward into a seemingly forced bow. “My Purine Base serves that exact purpose…”

“Very well. I’m confident you’ll have good news for us all at the next meeting of the Sacred Helix. As for me, I am currently heading to the Adenosine Base. I’m calling in an expert on Pokémon strength to analyze the existing research and help fill in the missing gaps. He’s arriving there via helicopter sometime soon and I’m on my way to greet him. We’re now one step closer to our promised world…”

-:-

“Drowzee, use Pound!”

Further up the lightly wooded road of Route 30, Renzo and his Drowzee were engaged in a battle against a wild Pokémon while three younger children watched from the sidelines. The Pokémon – a fluffy, round, white ball of cotton – used a pair of green leaf-like appendages to flutter out of Drowzee’s grasp, making it hard for the Psychic-type to land a hit.

After escaping several times, the Pokémon flicked her arms to toss several sharp-edged leaves as a counterattack. Much to Renzo’s annoyance, Drowzee was too slow to escape from the wild Pokémon’s Razor Leaf, leaving his body riddled with cuts. Behind his mouth-obscuring scarf, Renzo clenched his teeth.

“I will not fail to capture you, Cottonee! Drowzee, take a ranged approach this time. Psycho Cut!”

Jumping back, Drowzee quickly slashed the air in front of himself using his right arm, flinging a purple-hued blade of psychic energy directly into his opponent. The Cottonee crumpled beneath the crushing force Drowzee’s Psycho Cut carried, the wide gash across her face still faintly glowing from the residue of what created it.

“You’re mine now! Go, Poké Ball!”

Renzo pulled a red-and-white sphere from the inner part of his tattered poncho and threw it at the Pokémon he’d just finished fighting. The Poké Ball cracked open upon hitting Cottonee’s body, allowing its inner technology to convert the Pokémon into energy before pulling her in. It then sealed up and fell to the ground, where before the eyes of Renzo and his Psychic-type, it rocked and shuddered.

“Come on...” the ragged trainer thought to himself. “I can’t afford any more Poké Balls…”

He didn’t need to worry, however, as almost immediately after he finished that thought, the Poké Ball became still and gave off a pinging sound, indicating a successful capture. Renzo’s attitude quickly changed; he excitedly ran over to where the Poké Ball lay on the ground and picked it up, while the more lethargic Drowzee simply ambled up alongside his trainer.

“Wow, great job!” called one of the children, a bright-eyed girl whose brown hair hung in a side-tied ponytail.

“Yes, thank you…” Renzo replied, before cracking the Poké Ball in his hand open once more. The Cottonee, her body visibly bruised in several places, materialized from its confines and almost immediately shrank back upon seeing Renzo and his Drowzee. “Now, now, you don’t have to be afraid, Cottonee. We’re not going to hurt you. Please, forgive us for doing what we had to.”

Lowering himself so he wound not appear as intimidating to the small Pokémon, Renzo extended a hand and waited as Cottonee nervously examined it. It took a bit of time, but Renzo’s newly-caught Pokémon did eventually decide that the situation was safe, at which point she hopped up into his hand and allowed him to hold her.

“There you go,” he said in an attempt to further comfort her, “nothing to be afraid of.”

“Mister Renzo, outsiders!” one of the two male children suddenly cried.

“Hmph. I would wager that I can guess who.” Slowly turning around, Renzo came to face Matt, Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Dante, who had arrived in the pass just after Cottonee was captured. His guess having evidently been right, he sighed and said, “So the usurper and her followers return, with a new addition, no less. Listen, I will not be persuaded away from my goals, no matter how large your group becomes!”

“We’re not interested in you,” Matt attempted to argue while adjusting his glasses in exasperation. “We just want to go to Violet City.”

“That Pokémon in your arms,” Olivia observed, pointing straight at Cottonee. “I’ve never seen it before.”

“Cottonee, the Cotton Puff Pokémon,” her Pokédex stated once she took it out. “Perhaps because they feel more at ease in a group, they stick to others they find. They end up looking like a cloud.”

“I would say that your little invader is plenty interested in me, thank you very much. Actually, come to think of it, we have a bit of a score to settle from New Bark Town, do we not? Olivia, I challenge you!”

“Bring it on!” Olivia immediately shot back, without even taking a moment to think. “I beat you once and I’ll do it again!”

“You go for it, Olivia!” Nekou encouraged. “Put him in his place!”

“Ha! Fat chance!” The boy from earlier, who was clothed in a red t-shirt and denim shorts, was starting to walk over in Renzo’s direction. “Renzo beat all three of us without breaking a sweat. He’ll make quick work of you, too!”

“Please, do not interfere.” Renzo’s request prompted the bold-tempered boy to stand down. “This is a burden I must bear alone, teaching this undeserving swine her place in the world.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little cruel?” By the scowl on her face, Bunny was clearly bothered by Renzo’s names for Olivia. “The way you talk, you make it sound like Olivia killed your mother or something.”

Renzo flinched, but quickly recovered. “Olivia, I will not be using this Cottonee against you. I just captured it, and it is not in prime health for battling. Neither will I be using my Drowzee, who is tired from battling Cottonee. I have prepared a Pokémon specifically for my next meeting with you, and now it is time for you to meet that Pokémon.”

“Like I said, bring it on! I’m not afraid of you!”

“You should be.” With Cottonee, Drowzee and the three children looking on, Renzo drew out another Poké Ball from his poncho and silently threw it.

From that Poké Ball emerged a muscular Pokémon whose gray body was covered in pink veins bursting from his skin. His lumpy head, round red nose and the iron beam he held alongside himself offered Olivia the only hints to his identity.

“That must be…” she gasped, quickly taking out her Pokédex once more.

“Gurdurr, the Muscular Pokémon. Evolved form of Timburr. With strengthened bodies, they skillfully wield steel beams to take down buildings.”

“So you evolved it, big deal.” Though Olivia was putting up a tough front, she had an increasing feeling of dread developing in her mind. Gurdurr was much more intimidating in appearance than Timburr was, and she knew that evolution would bring the Pokémon even more strength than he had before. “I won’t be afraid. Oshawott, let’s play!”

Olivia’s Water-type Pokémon appeared on the path in a burst of bright light. He did not notice his soon-to-be-foe right away; instead, he started playing with the shell on his stomach by turning it to different angles. Once he finally did notice Gurdurr standing over him, though, he quickly became serious. Like his trainer, he was nervous to be facing the menacing Gurdurr, but he had resolved to prove his worth to Olivia.

“Are you going to try to take a stand here?” Renzo taunted, extending his right arm and gesturing to dare Olivia to attack. “Throw everything you’ve got at me! This time is going to be different!”

“You’re going to regret saying that! Oshawott, Water Gun!”

“That’s it? Gurdurr!”

Drawing in a deep breath, Oshawott spit a stream of water from his mouth, aimed squarely at his opponent’s chest.

Gurdurr remained unfazed, however. He picked up his metal beam with dexterity that betrayed how thick and unwieldy his arms were, then began spinning it in circles in front of himself, creating a shield. Oshawott’s Water Gun bounced harmlessly off the beam, accomplishing nothing.

“Evolution really made that Gurdurr stronger,” Matt commented, a cold feeling running down his spine.

“It’s a natural trait of the evolution family of Timburr,” Dante explained. “As it goes through its evolutionary stages, a Timburr gains more and more skill in using its chosen weapons. This Gurdurr’s shield technique, though… it’s impressive.”

“Alright, now give her a taste of what you can do offensively, Gurdurr. Drain Punch!”

In order to give himself more mobility, after he was finished using the iron beam as a shield Gurdurr stuck it firmly into the ground. He then lunged at Oshawott with his right fist pulled back and enveloped in a red glow.

Oshawott held up his shell in a feeble attempt to shield himself from the terrifying Fighting-type Pokémon bearing down on him, but it made no difference. The shell was no match for the force of Gurdurr’s fist, which shattered it into pieces before striking Oshawott directly in the stomach, sending him rolling back through the dirt. Oshawott was hit so hard that he dug a trail into the path as he skidded to a stop.

“Oh no, Oshawott!” Olivia cried out, her earlier feelings of dread now manifesting as sadness and fear for Oshawott’s safety. She was planning to call him back, and even had taken out his Poké Ball, but he struggled to his feet.

“Osha! Osha!” Though his voice was shaky, Oshawott’s message was clear – he wanted to continue, no matter the cost.

Unfortunately, Olivia and her supporters were not the only ones who understood this message. Renzo picked it up, too, and he nodded his head slowly. “Your Pokémon is a foolhardy one who knows not when to quit... kind of like you, usurper. Gurdurr, teach it a lesson. Mach Punch!”

In a flash, Gurdurr was towering over Oshawott once more, and without facing any resistance, he used a blazingly fast punch to slam Oshawott into the ground.

This time, when Gurdurr pulled his fist back, Oshawott did not rise again. He lay unconscious in the hole smashed open by the sheer force of the blow.

“No!”

“Olivia, send Oshawott back!” Bunny shouted with her hands cupped around her mouth, unable to bear seeing Olivia’s Pokémon suffer. “This isn’t worth it!”

Silently, Olivia followed Bunny’s advice, calling Oshawott back to the safety of his Poké Ball. Instead of backing down, however, she armed herself with another sphere. “I won’t be afraid…” she said out loud, seemingly addressing her own nerves. “Minccino, let’s play!”

Once he saw Minccino emerge from Olivia’s second Poké Ball, Renzo scoffed. “You bank your hopes on the power of love? That’s all you’ve got with that weak little thing against Gurdurr. Well, let me tell you right now, the power of love is a lie! I’ll prove it to you right now! Gurdurr, attack with Drain Punch!”

“Minccino, counter that using Aqua Tail!”

Both Minccino and Gurdurr let out battle cries and jumped at each other, Minccino somersaulting through the air and Gurdurr with his fist pulled back. Minccino’s tail, which had taken on a blue glow, met Gurdurr’s fist with explosive results; the blast threw both Pokémon onto their backs.

“Don’t let up, Minccino! Keep the pressure on it! Tail Slap!”

Olivia had already honed in on one of Gurdurr’s weaknesses – outside of Mach Punch, he was not very swift. This weakness affected his recovery from the collision of Aqua Tail and Drain Punch, as he was struggling to stand back up. Taking advantage of this, Minccino rushed in and spun, enabling her to use her tail as a whip, striking Gurdurr’s body four times. Each hit elicited a low, pained groan from the thick-bodied Fighting-type.

From the sidelines, Matt smiled. He was proud to see Olivia taking charge as much as she was.

“That will not get you what you want. Wake-Up Slap, now!”

Minccino was not out of Gurdurr’s reach just yet, and he took full advantage of that to strike back with a vengeance. He swept his arm across the space before him, smacking Minccino with a sharp slap.

“Ciiiinooo!!” cried the tiny Normal-type. By the time she landed at her trainer’s feet, Minccino was completely unconscious as a result of Gurdurr’s extremely effective hit.

“Minccino…” Olivia was beginning to become numb. Watching Oshawott fall in defeat quickly was hard enough for her to accept, but to watch the same fate befall her beloved Minccino affected her on a deeper level. She no longer could clearly visualize her surroundings beyond the battle, nor could she even hear Nekou yelling to her. She simply recalled Minccino and got the next Poké Ball ready. “Roselia, let’s play!”

Gurdurr immediately locked eyes with Olivia’s Roselia when she was freed from her ball, and Roselia returned the gesture. Memories of New Bark Town flashed between them. Back then it had been Roselia that defeated Gurdurr, when he was still a Timburr prior to his evolution. He’d never let go of that defeat, and seeing Roselia again sent rage flowing through every bit of his body. It took all the restraint he could muster to remain in control and stop himself from attacking without orders.

“Roselia, Sludge Bomb! Let’s try to get in a good hit!”

“Gurdurr, you know what you must do.”

The bursts of slime Roselia fired from her flowers never reached their target, as once again, Gurdurr spun his metal beam to shield himself. Once the poison dispersed in clouds of smoke, Gurdurr tensed his muscles in preparation for his next command.

“Now, Gurdurr, Rock Slide!” To give his order some force, Renzo thrust his arm straight up, briefly tossing his ragged poncho open.

Once again, Gurdurr planted his beam in the ground, but this time he climbed atop it. From his perch, he focused all the rage he felt toward Roselia and raised his arms into the air, roaring a battle cry across the field. His power caused an energy field to open over Roselia and drop large rocks onto her, crushing the leaves on her body.

By this point, Olivia had long since realized that this battle was a lost cause, but something in her refused to allow her to quit. Taking what few openings she had left, she yelled, “Quick, Energy Ball!”

“Rock Slide, once more!”

The sparking green orb Roselia produced using what nature-based power she could draw upon while partially buried missed hitting Gurdurr, but it did cut down the iron beam, leaving the metal’s owner to fall to the ground. However, before he hit the dirt, Gurdurr triggered another Rock Slide, adding enough pressure on top of Roselia to force her to faint.

“**** this!” Nekou screeched, still trying to get through to Olivia. “Olivia, there’s no shame in throwing in the towel! This isn’t worth it anymore!”

“You stay out of this!” Renzo angrily shouted over her. “This battle is between me and Olivia! This is my score to settle and I will not let you interrupt it!”

Ignoring Renzo’s ranting, Matt loudly said, “I agree with Nekou. There’s no need to go further!”

All of it was in vain. Olivia was too broken by watching Oshawott, Minccino and Roselia go down easily, and she could not just let the battle go. She’d already called Roselia back and sent out Lillipup, who shrank before the intimidating gaze of Gurdurr.

“Is that all you’ve got left?” Renzo furthered his grandstanding by throwing his head back and spreading his arms. “Don’t bother lying, I can tell you don’t have any more Pokémon. I can see it in your face. That look of sheer despair when there’s no option left but to give up… it’s something I’m too familiar with, so I’ve learned to tell when I’m looking at it. So… shall we get on with finishing this once and for all, usurper? Gurdurr, Drain Punch!”

Olivia couldn’t even give Lillipup a direction with how numb she was. He was left with no other choice but to watch in terror as the slow moving but immensely powerful Gurdurr bore down on him.

“Enough. Kangaskhan, Sucker Punch.”

Suddenly, Gurdurr’s path to Lillipup was cut off by a Kangaskhan appearing between them. She swung and punched the Fighting-type, not hurting him much but knocking him back and stopping him from attacking Lillipup.

“What?!” Renzo stomped his foot into the ground in rage over having been interrupted. “Who did that? Was it you, *****?!” he screamed as he pointed at Nekou.

“You would know if it was me, kid. And ‘*****?’ You wish that was the worst name I’ve been called.”

“It was I.”

To the surprise of all the people gathered on the road, a tall, lithe young man jumped from the bushes to stand in the middle of the battle. His windbreaker jacket – designed with a checkerboard pattern over half-black, half-white coloring – fit loosely on his thin frame, while his long green hair flowed into a ponytail against his back from beneath his similarly-colored baseball cap.

“And who are you, freak?!” Knowing the intruder’s face didn’t placate Renzo’s rage at all. In fact, it made him even more angry.

“Fighting so brutally against Pokémon weaker than your own… it isn’t right…” As he spoke, the young man made strange gestures with his hands, as if he were manipulating something in the air before him. “Kangaskhan, Mega Punch.”

“It’s just a Normal-type, Gurdurr! Get that thing out of my way! Drain Punch!”

Gurdurr and the mysterious trainer’s Kangaskhan each swung their respective right fists toward each other, but when the two met, Gurdurr’s effort was easily overpowered. Kangaskhan managed to land a bruising blow directly on Gurdurr’s body, injuring him critically. Unable to believe what he was seeing, Renzo could do nothing but watch as his Pokémon crumpled to the ground before its mighty new foe.

Kangaskhan kept growling at Gurdurr, but she stopped when her trainer put his hand on her side as an indication to stand down. The trainer then walked over to Gurdurr and lowered himself onto his knees.

“What are you doing?!” Renzo raged as the young man placed his hands upon Gurdurr’s body. “Get off of my Pokémon!”

Ignoring Renzo, the trainer closed his eyes and said quietly, “Transcend the confines of time and space...”

Matt’s group, the three children and Renzo all looked on in varying degrees of surprise. They were watching a soft green light envelop Gurdurr and seemingly heal the visible wound he’d received. None of the observers to this was more shocked than Matt, though.

“He’s using that power, I know it!” Matt thought, his eyes wide. “It’s almost the same as hers!”

A moment later, the light faded, leaving the fully healed Gurdurr completely visible. Both the Pokémon and the trainer who healed him rose to their full heights, with the trainer walking back in Olivia’s direction while Gurdurr retreated to Renzo’s side.

“Just who are you?” Renzo demanded. “Who the hell do you think you are?!”

“So ungrateful, but I forgive you…” The strange young trainer continued gesturing strangely as he spoke, moving his hands and arms in wide, sweeping gestures. “My name is Nikolai, and I am a trainer… well, that’s not quite right. I am searching… for trainers and Pokémon who get along as equals. Where will you go from our meeting?”

“Not that I owe you any answer,” Renzo replied with a scoff, “but I am going to traverse Dark Cave and the mountains of Route 45 beyond. My goal is Blackthorn City, where I will get a Dratini no matter what I must do.”

“Why Dratini?” Bunny questioned. “I get that it’s rare, but you seem like you have a deeper reason.”

“Dragonite was her favorite…”

Without saying anything further, Renzo wandered off with his Pokémon. heading north on the road. The others who remained had little time to ponder his bizarre behavior, as Nikolai next approached Olivia.

“Please allow me to see your Pokémon…”

“Um…”

“We’re here, Olivia,” Matt said in an attempt to reassure her, not noticing that Dante and Nekou both had stepped back to coldly observe things. “I… I think he’s trustworthy. He did protect you from Gurdurr…”

“You’re right.”

Her concerns soothed, Olivia quickly released her severely weakened Minccino, Roselia and Oshawott once more. They joined Lillipup, who had been hiding behind Olivia’s legs for some time, only coming out once the other Pokémon were present.

“Thank you,” Nikolai spoke in a voice that was almost whispering, as he once again knelt down. “You have a fine collection of Pokémon… Now, transcend the confines of time and space…”

Nikolai spread his hands over Olivia’s four Pokémon, and the same green light that healed Renzo’s Gurdurr engulfed them. Before anyone knew it, Oshawott, Roselia and Minccino were completely healed. Several stunned pairs of eyes rested squarely on Nikolai as he stood back up.

“Your Pokémon spoke to me, Olivia... Oshawott says he wants to impress you and make you proud of him… Roselia and Minccino love being with you... Lillipup is scared of the big Pokémon but wants to get stronger…”

“Wait, just what is it you’re saying?” Dante questioned, abruptly dropping back into the exchange. “You can talk to Pokémon?”

“It’s the power of Transcendence,” Matt explained, earning a nod of agreement from Bunny, who was the only other one that knew what he was talking about.

“How do you know about my power…?” Nikolai’s gaze was strangely pitched, as if he was looking over Matt’s shoulder to some object far away.

“Because I used to know someone who had that power.” Reaching into his coat, Matt took out a pocketwatch, which he opened. Inside was a second cover, and on that second cover was a painting. It depicted a young woman, wearing white priestess clothing and her brown hair styled into three buns, whose face was distinguished by thick eyebrows above a pair of fierce, powerful blue eyes. Matt spent a moment looking at the painting, allowing himself the memories and regrets it brought to mind, before he spoke again. “Sheena was her name. She had the power of Transcendence like you, except she could only link with the hearts of people and Pokémon, not heal them like you do.”

“I see… there aren’t many others like me. I want to use my power to… encourage humans and Pokémon to live together in harmony. This is all I can think of… please allow me to meet the Pokémon each of you possess.”

“Why would you want to do that?” Nekou interrogated, her voice carrying more than a hint of suspicion over Nikolai’s motives.

When Nikolai answered not by speaking but by merely staring at the ground, Matt decided to pick up the slack for him. “He healed both that Gurdurr and all of Olivia’s Pokémon when he didn’t have to, and quite honestly, I don’t think someone with powers like Sheena’s can be all that bad. I’ll go first.”

While Matt took care in sending out each of his six Pokémon one at a time, there was more going on than any of them were aware of. Hiding in the woods and still following Matt’s group, Jessie, James and Meowth had been spying on the entire scene with their equipment and turned to each other in a panic.

“What is he doing here?” Jessie demanded of the others. “We already knew about Ghetsis but this is something nobody said anything about!”

“Team Plasma is more connected with this than we were ever told,” James said in agreement.

“And if those crazy knights are mixed up with what’s going down with Polaris, things might be about to get really bad.” After seizing the R-Pad from James, Meowth touched an icon on its screen that allowed access to videos. “That contingency plan Ariana and the doctor came up with might be just what we need now.”

Out on the road, Nikolai seemed to have a childlike sense of wonder as he examined Matt’s six Pokémon, the light of his power emanating from his outstretched hands all the while. He had quickly gravitated towards Matt’s Heatran, as he was aware of the kind of stories told about the stout-bodied Fire-and-Steel-type. Next, he moved on to Matt’s Sigilyph and Golurk, and the brightly-colored, three-eyed bird and towering golem both appeared more than happy to interact with him. The same could also be said about his Salamence and Beartic, but his final Pokémon – an eel whose blue body had three yellow dots on each side – visibly vexed him.

Meanwhile, while Nikolai was carrying on his conversations with Matt’s Pokémon, the third of the children approached Olivia. Unlike the first two, who were rather excitable, the bowl-cut-wearing boy conducted himself very timidly as he looked up at her with wide, green eyes.

“Um... you have an Oshawott, and a Pokédex…”

“So?” Whatever the boy was trying to get at, Olivia wasn’t understanding it. “Besides it being Oshawott instead of Chikorita, Cyndaquil or Totodile, what’s the big deal?”

“That scary guy on the television keeps telling us that trainers who have starter Pokémon and Pokédexes are the reason why trainers like my friends and I never get anywhere…”

“Do you mean Ghetsis?” Nekou interrupted. When the boy nodded, she asked him, “What do you mean when you say that you and your friends never get anywhere?”

“None of us have starter Pokémon. I just have my Taillow, while Julia has her Sandshrew and Ronald has his Marill. The three of us have been trying to make it to Violet City for weeks, but stronger trainers keep coming and beating us, and we don’t have enough money for medicine or the Pokémon Center…”

Having listened intently to the boy’s story, Nekou decided to give them help. She immediately looked up and called, “Matt!”

“What?” He had been watching Nikolai with his Pokémon, and as a result he was not paying attention to Olivia or the children.

“Call HR-E here. These kids are in desperate need of some supplies.”

“Hm?” Nekou’s request was so sudden that it took Matt several seconds to fully process exactly what it was she wanted. Once he fully grasped it, though, he reached up to his mask and pressed a tiny button located just under the eyepiece. “It’ll be here in a little while. What’d I miss?”

“Ghetsis has been giving speeches claiming that trainers with starter Pokémon and Pokédexes keep trainers without those things from succeeding. I think this might be a little more serious than just the typical dime a dozen television snake oil salesman.”

“Isn’t Pokémon training supposed to be about making it your own way, no matter which way you choose?” Olivia wondered out loud. “The idea of one group of trainers making it harder for another group of trainers to succeed doesn’t make sense to me.”

Though she claimed to not find any sense in the story, however, the idea behind it did bother Olivia. She truly believed that Pokémon trainers on the most basic level helped each other, yet standing before her was someone who seemed like he might actually buy into the concept of a simple yet fundamental difference between groups of trainers hurting one of those groups.

“Please explain something to me…” Matt’s attention was pulled back to its original location when Nikolai suddenly spoke up after having approached moments before. “Your Pokémon all seem at least relatively happy to be with you, as they’ve told me stories of some of your adventures… but why is your Eelektrik not responding in the same way?”

“I haven’t really used her at all yet, to be truthful. I was hoping to get in some training with her soon...”

Suddenly becoming angry, Nikolai moved in a single abrupt motion to get right in Matt’s face. “You must treat your Pokémon better! When I spoke to your Eelektrik, it told me that it feels forgotten. Simply capturing a Pokémon in one of those awful Poké Balls is not enough! You must spend time allowing that Pokémon to be free, as well!”

“Geez, go easy on him, he only caught Eelektrik recently!” Bunny interjected as a defense for Matt. “Also, you say Poké Balls are awful, but don’t you use them as well?”

Backing down from his anger somewhat, Nikolai admitted, “I do, but I do not take pleasure in doing so. I do not believe in confining Pokémon in situations where it is completely unnecessary… but in this society, it is difficult to travel with a party of Pokémon. I prefer to allow my Pokémon to live in the wild in various places until I need them, when possible...”

“If I need to spend more time with Charlotte, then, how about you and I practice a bit?”

“I dislike battling, except when one of my Pokémon wishes to engage in one...” Nikolai briefly closed his eyes and said after reopening them, “I can feel that I do have a Pokémon with me that desires a battle. Stantler, come alongside me, my friend.”

Just as Nikolai sent out his Stantler from his ball, the HR-E 2 came gliding up, making a quiet, clean run just off the main path. As it settled into place, Matt looked back over his shoulder to Nekou, Bunny and Olivia.

“Would you three go in there and get the medicine and supplies for the kids? It’s not hard to find.”

“Do I have to do it?” Olivia sighed. “I want to train too!”

Before Matt could say anything in response, Bunny said to him, “It’s okay, Nekou and I can do it ourselves, no problem.”

“Alright, if you say so.”

Nekou was uncharacteristically quiet and cooperative as she followed Bunny up to and past the entrance door into the HR-E 2. Calling back his other Pokémon, Matt brought Charlotte, his Eelektrik, to the forefront to face Nikolai’s Stantler.

“Lillipup, Oshawott, I want to focus on training you guys specifically. Come on over here.”

All four of Olivia’s Pokémon heeded her call despite her only requesting Lillipup and Oshawott; Roselia and Minccino stood beside her while the two she wished to battle waited in the front.

“You want to battle against us?” Ronald took Olivia’s actions as a challenge, so he dragged his timid, soft-spoken friend alongside himself to face her. “Fine, let’s have a battle where you use two Pokémon and we’ll each use one! I’m fired up!”

“If that’s what you want,” Olivia answered with a shrug, feigning a sort of surprise at how badly contrasting the personalities of the two boys were.

-:-

Off somewhere deeper in the woods, further away from the road than before, Jessie, James and Meowth were gathered around the R-Pad, which James was holding.

“Are we far enough away?” he wondered.

“They won’t hear us here,” Jessie sharply said. “Play the video.”

“And go!”

Meowth reached under James’s arm and pressed his paw against the R-Pad’s screen, triggering a pre-recorded video of Dr. Zager sitting in front of a camera.

“Welcome. If you’re watching this video, something has gone wrong with the mission to capture the Meteonite from Route 29, and therefore you require the pre-prepared contingency plan. On Route 30 is the home of a man known as Mr. Pokémon, who collects and researches rare treasures. It is highly likely that he possesses information on the Meteonite. You are to remotely hack into his servers and download any data you can find, then forward it on to me.”

“It’s all working out in pitch-perfect shape,” Meowth realized out loud. “That old guy’s got the Meteonite and is taking it to Mr. Pokémon. All we gotta do is keep following him until they meet up, and then we swoop in for the score!”

“Let’s move, then,” Jessie directed. “What we can’t afford is to fall behind.”

-:-

Some time later, Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny, Dante and Nikolai were once again walking on the road, having reached the northern part of Route 30. Dante and Matt were leading the pack, with Olivia, Bunny and Nekou clustered in the middle and Nikolai bringing up the rear.

“I’ve got to tell you, Olivia, you did really well back there,” Matt said over his shoulder. “Even for a training battle, that was good work.”

“Thanks!” the girl beamed, smiling broadly for the compliment. “Harold and his Taillow were stronger than I expected… I thought Ronald’s Marill would be tougher, but I was wrong. Lillipup and Oshawott really came through for me, though.”

“And what about you and Nikolai?” Bunny chimed in. “You two had a pretty nice sparring match yourselves.”

“I guess he was right about Charlotte wanting to have some time out doing things. She really responded to getting a chance to battle. Nikolai, thanks for that.”

“I’m only doing what I think is right…” By now, Nikolai’s anger from earlier had fully subsided. He lurked behind the others and watched them carefully as they walked, not bothering to socialize but also not bothering to detach himself from the group.

“Mr. Pokémon’s home is right through here.” Gesturing to an offshoot of the path that briefly crossed into the forest, Dante led the others in the direction he indicated.

At the end of the path was something none of them were expecting.

The house, a modest, two-story building made of wood, was being attacked by a Pokémon. They had to look carefully to see it, but there was a blue rock Pokémon shooting energy blasts from its yellow core at the structure.

“What is that Pokémon?”

Even before Matt finished asking his question, Olivia had her Pokédex out and was already in the process of scanning the Pokémon.

“Roggenrola, the Mantle Pokémon. The hexagonal-shaped hole is its ear. It has a tendency to walk in the direction the sound is coming from.”

“Why is that Roggenrola attacking Mr. Pokémon’s home?” Dante lamented aloud.

The owner of the house was nowhere to be seen; Matt assumed, or at least hoped, that he was still safely inside. Roggenrola didn’t seem to notice the group and remained fixated on firing Rock Blast attacks at the building.

“Let me find out,” Nikolai declared, showing an unexpected assertiveness as he stepped forth and extended his hands. “Transcend the confines of time and space!”

Roggenrola didn’t even become aware of the group when Nikolai activated his power, but the glow from his hands enthralled Matt, Olivia and Bunny. As he probed into the mind of the small Rock-type Pokémon, Nikolai started to sweat, as accessing the innermost of Roggenrola’s thoughts was proving harder even than healing Olivia’s injured Pokémon.

“Why is he having trouble?” Olivia asked Matt out of worry.

“Sheena told me once that when a Pokémon is enraged, it becomes harder to reach that Pokémon’s heart. He’s trying to break through.”

“I’ve… aah!” Nikolai’s eyes whipped open and he stumbled back, prompting Matt and Bunny to run to hold him up. “Th-thank you. That Roggenrola… it’s gone into a feral state and is trying to get food from in the house, because he’s been feeding the wild Pokémon in the area…”

“Well, if that Pokémon is feral, maybe capturing it would be a good idea? We could civilize it.”

Unsure of Matt’s proposal, Nikolai pulled his hat down and said, “I disagree on principle, but your Pokémon were fairly happy to be with you…”

“I don’t see any other way to calm it down, and I think I might be able to get some training out of this, too. Charlotte, make your mark!”

This was actually the idea that had jumped into Matt’s head almost immediately upon seeing the wild Roggenrola. Ever since learning that Charlotte was unhappy with her current situation, he’d been hoping for a chance to let her have a real battle. The sparring with Nikolai’s Stantler was a start, but he wanted something a bit less controlled.

Charlotte balanced her long body on the ground so she could stand up and sent electricity flowing through her muscles, lighting up the spots on her sides.

“Take the first attack, Charlotte! Charge Beam!”

Some sparks shot out of Charlotte’s open mouth, followed by a concentrated blast of electricity. Roggenrola had finally taken notice and turned around when she heard Matt give his command, but she was nowhere near agile enough to avoid being swept up in the electric flow.

Leaping out from the vortex, Roggenrola aimed the opening on her body at Charlotte, which then began to glow as it gathered power. Four energized rocks shot out of the opening and smashed into Charlotte, leaving purple bruises across her skin.

“That first attack was quite effective, Matt.” After announcing her assessment, Bunny thought quickly and added, “I don’t think you need more than one more. Be very careful not to knock it out!”

“Well, it’s a Rock-type, right? Then a Poison-type move should weaken it just enough. Acid Spray!”

Charlotte cut off the flow of electricity to her mouth, then spat out a blob of green acid. Though the acid washed over Roggenrola’s body and broke down her defenses, however, it did not add significant injury to the already-hurt Pokémon. She could be seen breathing deeply, most likely drawing in air through the opening on the front of her body.

“Ro-genn!” she cried, rushing forward on her tiny brown feet. She threw herself at Charlotte, but the Eelektrik weaved away, allowing the failed Headbutt attack to sail harmlessly past. Roggenrola ended up sliding into the dirt just beyond where Charlotte stood.

The Great Butler
17th November 2012, 8:45 AM
“Now, the truth shall reveal itself! Go, Poké Ball!”

Having taken an empty Poké Ball from his bag, Matt threw it in a sweeping motion at the Roggenrola, who was struggling to pull herself up from the dirt. When the capsule hit the Rock-type Pokémon’s body, it split open and absorbed Roggenrola in a flash of light before closing and falling to the ground.

“I cannot say I approve of dealing with this situation in such a way…” Nikolai uttered in a severe tone while the others all watched the ball shake.

To the surprise of even him, though, shortly thereafter the Poké Ball shattered. Now freed and growling in rage, Roggenrola turned to face Matt and Charlotte.

“Looks like you pissed it off,” Nekou slyly said, fully knowing that Matt was perfectly aware of this already.

“Don’t give me that now!”

“Matt, watch out!” Olivia hastily cried.

Roggenrola was charging again, this time squarely at Matt. He hadn’t noticed because he’d turned his head to address Nekou.

Grunting, he covered his mouth with his arm and shouted, “Charlotte, Thunder Wave!”

Despite having tiny feet, Roggenrola was able to build up enough force to jump directly at Matt. Charlotte got in the way, though, and intercepted Roggenrola. She was releasing electricity from her body when they collided, causing paralysis to overcome Roggenrola while she was flung back herself. Matt barely avoided getting knocked down by his own Pokémon.

“I think that ought to do it,” he said to Bunny, Olivia and Nikolai, who were the only ones still paying attention to what was going on; Dante was already walking to the door of Mr. Pokémon’s home, while Nekou was spending her time looking at the trees surrounding the road. Sighing, Matt took out another Poké Ball and wordlessly threw it at Roggenrola. This time, the Pokémon put up little resistance and was successfully captured.

“I hope you will treat that Roggenrola properly…”

“You don’t have anything to worry about,” Matt said, dismissing Nikolai’s incessant concern while he picked up the Poké Ball that now contained his Roggenrola. Turning his head, he asked, “Nekou, what are you doing?”

“I love how the trees look in autumn…”

“I guess she’s just being herself again,” he conceded, sighing.

Meanwhile, Dante had long since stopped being concerned about what the younger members of his traveling group were doing. He was standing in front of Mr. Pokémon’s front door, waiting after having rung the bell.

“Come on, I know you’re home!” he called, his voice clearly conveying the irritation he felt.

“The Pokémon want to come in here and eat all the food I’ve got!” someone shouted back from behind the door.

“Oy, not this again… there’s no Pokémon out here that want your food, at least anymore anyway. And if you’d stop feeding them, they’ll stop coming!”

There was a hesitation, as if the owner of the voice was considering what Dante had said. The sound of many locks being undone followed, coupled with more muttering from inside the house.

“You can never be too sure in this day and age, Dante. Blasted Team Rocket taking all our money from the banks and all… this world ain’t what it used to be.”

The door was opened slowly from the inside, and the house’s owner shuffled out. Mr. Pokémon was a man about Dante’s age, however, he appeared much older due to his rumpled clothing and unkempt white hair and beard.

“You brought the thing?” he requested, shielding his tired-looking eyes from the late afternoon sun with his arm.

“Right here,” Dante replied, holding up the briefcase with the Meteonite inside.

“Good, good. Tobias and Gabriella have been riding my *** about this, and you just made it in time. They’re coming tonight.” Peering out further, Mr. Pokémon spied Matt’s group and Nikolai standing around and talking nearby. “Look at that. Look what the feminists caused, that wench over there with her body hanging out everywhere.”

“I heard thaaaat,” Nekou interrupted, speaking in a loud, sing-song voice. “So **** you, because I don’t care!”

“And now you see what I’ve been traveling with the last couple days,” Dante chuckled. “They’re good people, though. I’ve enjoyed my company with them.”

“Mr. Pokémon, I presume?” Having walked up alongside Dante, Matt addressed the strange old man himself.

“Who are you?” Mr. Pokémon fumbled a pair of glasses out of the breast pocket of his brown suit, put them on, and squinted at Matt. “Is it already happening?”

“Okaaay…” Matt took a step back before continuing. “It might be. You see, we came from New Bark Town, and Professor Juniper told us that Professor Elm had gone to visit you. Is he here?”

“Professor Elm was here, yes, but he left with as much haste as he came. Said he was going to the Ruins of Alph, if I’m not mistaken.”

Matt shrugged in response to this news. Granted, finding Elm wasn’t number one on his list of priorities, but he still would have liked to have located the professor.

“Matt, please give my farewells to Olivia, Bunny and Nekou,” said the doctor. “I must stay here tonight to present my Meteonite research to Mr. Pokémon’s guests. I have enjoyed traveling with you and your friends.”

“And it’s been an honor to get to know you, Doctor. Hopefully we’ll meet again.”

Dante extended his hand, so Matt took up the offer of a handshake with no hesitation. The magnitude his mind assigned to shaking the hand of such an important scientist was not lost on him. After that, Dante sharply turned on his heel and entered the house, then Mr. Pokémon slammed the door shut.

“Well then…”

“So what are we doing now?”

The feeling of Nekou’s hand on his shoulder made Matt turn abruptly. She, along with the others, had come up behind him while he was speaking with Dante.

“I don’t know. Finished looking at leaves?”

“I’ll remember that, smartass.” The way Nekou was smiling gave away that she was saying this in a good-natured way, for a change. “What’s going on with Dr. Fantomos?”

“He’s staying here to present his Meteonite research. He didn’t ask me to stay behind and wait for him, so I assume that we can go ahead to Violet City.”

“It’s not far from here,” Bunny piped up. She had a map unrolled in her hands and was studying their location on it. “Yeah, we only have a little way longer to go now.”

“Then let’s hit the road!” Olivia cheered, pumping her fist into the air. “Violet City and Badge number one, here we come!”

“Always so much energy… I have to admit, Olivia, sometimes you keep me going.”

With Violet City awaiting them to the northwest, the group – now minus Dante, but with Nikolai in tow – set out. The trees, their leaves cloaked in the earthy autumn colors that so enraptured Nekou, provided a warm framing for their trip down the dirt road that led the way.

“Stop.”

They didn’t even get twenty feet away from Mr. Pokémon’s home before more trouble arrived.

“What? Who said that?”

Nekou thrust her right arm out in front of Olivia and pulled her switchblade from her blouse with the left. “Someone’s here. They’re watching us…”

“I am…”

A sound like a gust of wind tore through the clearing, and one of the members of the Shadow Triad appeared, seemingly materializing from thin air. The color drained from Nekou’s face as she stood ready to fight him, while Matt, Olivia, Bunny and Nikolai all just stared at the strange young man.

“What’s going on here?” Bunny demanded. “Who are you?”

“I am… the unbreakable steel of Chaos… I do not have any orders to harm any of you unless you get in my way. Lord N, you are coming with me.”

“N? What kind of name is that?” Olivia wondered out loud.

“Tough luck, none of us is named N,” Matt harshly added. “Leave us alone.”

“I am looking at you right now, Lord N…” Chaos announced, leveling his finger straight at Nikolai. “Cease these foolish games… Lord Ghetsis has grown impatient.”

“I don’t know who you are!” Nikolai cried out. “I am just a simple trainer. Surely I am not the person you speak of!”

The striking sincerity of Nikolai’s words gave Chaos pause. In his hesitation, he left Nekou a chance to slip into the exchange.

“So Ghetsis is still controlling your Shadow Triad?” she quizzed the ninja.

Apparently having not perceived Nekou’s presence earlier, Chaos smirked beneath the mesh covering his mouth. “Well, well, well, seeing you is certainly a surprise, Black Cat. It must have slipped your mind that we, the Shadow Triad, live only to serve Lord Ghetsis and his whims.”

“Black Cat? What is this guy talking about?

Nekou went even paler at Matt’s line of questioning, but otherwise held her cool. “He’s trying to psych you and I out. Don’t listen to him.”

“You’re lucky I do not have the time to deal with you. Lord N… if you cannot remember your place in this world, I will force you to remember! Liepard! Bisharp! Banette!”

Chaos reached to his waist and threw three Poké Balls in a single motion that was so swift it nearly could not be seen. His three Pokémon appeared before him, one of which – a lithe-bodied, feline creature covered in purple-and-yellow fur – Matt noted he hadn’t seen before.

“Go forth! Bisharp, Assurance! Liepard, Aerial Ace! Banette, Will-O-Wisp!”

With Nikolai fixated in their eyes, all three of Chaos’s Pokémon lunged forward; blue light surrounded Liepard’s front claws, while Banette crossed his arms and threw flares of blue fire and a black glow surrounded both of Bisharp’s hands.

“No you don’t! Tanya, make your mark!”

“Right alongside you! Kayla, come out!”

Blocking the path of the three Pokémon with their bodies, Matt and Bunny sent out their Heatran and Mienshao respectively to provide some additional cover. Tanya’s large, bulky body was, in fact, enough to deflect the attempted attacks of the trio by itself.

“You’re going to protect him? Your loss… not even a Pokémon like Heatran will make me stand down… Liepard, Snarl!”

A single fallen leaf crunched under Liepard’s careful steps forward. He opened his mouth as widely as possible and let out a horrific screech, filling the air with shrill noise. Matt, Olivia and Bunny all had to hold their ears to protect themselves from the terrible sound. Tanya and Kayla cringed as well, but strangely, it appeared to have no effect on Nekou and Nikolai, as they simply stood still.

“Do... do you think… that’ll actually work?!” It was a struggle for Matt to speak under the influence of Liepard’s well-practiced Snarl, but he managed to force himself through it. “T-Tanya… Flash Cannon!”

One downside of Chaos’s honed attack was that Liepard was left vulnerable to a counterattack, which came when Tanya fired a large shot of silvery light from her mouth at him. As soon as it hit Liepard, the blast exploded, cutting off Snarl from continuing. Bisharp immediately picked up his teammate’s slack, jumping in and swinging his arms to dispel the smoke. Liepard arched his back from behind Bisharp, his coat discolored from Flash Cannon’s heat.

“I am one of Lord Ghetsis’s chosen hands!” Chaos appeared to be losing his composure, slipping into behavior more suitable of his name as he clenched his fists. “I will not fail him!!”

“It’ll be hard to please him when you’re in pieces.”

Out of nowhere, Nekou was right next to Chaos, swinging her knife down with his shoulder as her target. He was forced to defend himself by swiftly pulling a dagger from his belt to block the strike.

“You’re out of luck, Black Cat!” Chaos growled. “Bisharp! Lead Banette and Liepard while I take care of this one!”

A sharp grunt and a smile indicated that Bisharp gladly accepted the responsibility Chaos delegated to him. Banette and Liepard rallied to his side, and much like a trainer, he pointed his right arm forward at their enemies and spoke in his own language to give orders, which Banette and Liepard seemingly understood.

While Banette hung back, Liepard lunged forward once more, again attempting to land an Aerial Ace. Banette backed up his ally by waving his arms back and forth to generate a gust of chilled air. However, also in much the same way as the first exchange of attacks, Tanya used her body and her natural Fire-and-Steel typing to block and absorb the Aerial Ace and Icy Wind.

“I think it’s time we fought back. Kayla, use Drain Punch on Liepard!”

Moving with great speed, Kayla immediately closed the gap between herself and Chaos’s Liepard. Before the Dark-type Pokémon could react, she threw back the long, purple-tipped fur on her arm and punched Liepard squarely in the face using the fist underneath. The welt left behind quickly transformed into light, which was absorbed into Kayla’s body.

Crying out his name in an ear-splitting hiss, Bisharp leapt over the stunned Liepard, his hands glowing black in preparation for Assurance again. His target was Nikolai, but Olivia was standing close enough to also be threatened. Seeing Bisharp coming down toward her caused Olivia to cringe in fear; she’d already had one near-death experience with a Bisharp and had no desire to go through another.

“Magma Storm!”

The tornado of fire that swirled from Tanya’s mouth failed to directly connect, but it flew closely enough to blow Bisharp back with its sheer force. Once she was out of danger, Olivia ran to Bunny, but Nikolai simply remained still.

“This is not right…” he thought. Tears were welling up in his eyes, hidden from the others due to the shadow of his hat. “ Pokémon and humans fighting each other like this…”

As the Pokémon exchanged blows, Nekou and Chaos were doing the same. Sparks flew every time the metal of Nekou’s switchblade and Chaos’s dagger clashed, but neither of them could make much headway against the other, as the rapid pace of Nekou’s attack forced Chaos to defend himself instead of fighting back.

“Let’s see how you like this!” Chaos abruptly roared.

Deciding to take a risk, the Shadow Triad member dropped his defensive techniques and attempted to directly hit Nekou. The mesh covering over his mouth ended up getting cut off, but in exchange for that battle damage, he managed to slash a long gash into Nekou’s left shoulder.

Stumbling back and looking down at the red ooze slowly trickling out of her skin, Nekou spat, “****, you got me! Well, actually, you only got my clothes… I guess Ghetsis didn’t prepare you for facing me?” Nekou lightly ran her hand over the bloody wound, then raised that same hand to her mouth and licked the liquid off. Immediately, her mind began to race. “Mmm… yeah, they didn’t tell you, so I will. You might have cut me, but the thing is… a wounded animal is the most vicious!”

When she jerked her head back up, Nekou’s eyes were filled with a bright yellow glow. She screamed loudly enough to cause her voice to crack and lunged at Chaos, assaulting him in such a bloodthirsty frenzy that he couldn’t keep up. Her switchblade first claimed his gloves, which fell to the ground in pieces, then began nicking small cuts into his exposed hands and arms.

“You’re mine now, you little ****! All I have to do is beat you before that happens now!”

Chaos knew he was in trouble against Nekou if she was going to press him so relentlessly. Becoming consumed by desperation, he began to reach for a small pouch attached to his belt.

Before any of this chaotic scene could be sorted out, however, a new element entered the fray to decide the outcome. A Haxorus came crashing through the battle with her Dual Chop move, using the first swing of her tusks to fell Banette and Liepard and the second to separate Nekou and Chaos.

“That Pokémon,” Olivia gasped, genuinely surprised. “It’s…”

“You should not be using Pokémon to cause harm to those who have not harmed you,” Dante lectured Chaos as he stepped back into the clearing. “I come out here to see what all the racket is, and what do I find? Nothing more than some white-haired ninja scoundrel making trouble for some innocents. It’s rightly disappointing.”

“Stay out of this, old man!” Chaos sneered.

“Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny, take Nikolai and go to Violet City as you intended. I’m sporting enough to stay behind and deal with this common thug of a villain.”

“You heard the man!” Wasting no time in agreeing with Dante’s proposal, Matt rallied his friends to evacuate Route 30 right away by recalling his Pokémon, a move mimicked by Bunny. “Let’s move!”

“Oh no you don’t! Not with Lord N!”

Of course, Chaos was completely unwilling to let his prey escape capture. Capable of going to any length to accomplish Ghetsis’s orders, he reached into the pouch on his belt, swiftly withdrawing and flinging a dart. The dart hit Nikolai in the center of his chest, and almost immediately, he started going into convulsions.

“Nikolai?” Bunny whispered, suddenly feeling terrified unlike anything else she’d felt that day.

“Listen to me, you’re going to be okay!” Matt rushed over to support Nikolai just as the green-haired young man vomited into the grass. Though he was not an expert in the field of their study, Matt knew enough about toxins to realize quite swiftly that Chaos’s dart was surely poisoned.

“Now will you be a good prince and return on your king’s decree?” demanded the shady ninja bodyguard. “That genetic suppressant ought to be working wonders on your freak body right now.”

His suspicions of a poison dart confirmed, Matt made a motion as if he was preparing to battle Chaos directly, but all the ninja’s threat earned him was a swift, high kick in the throat from a very angry Nekou.

“If you’re gonna fight dirty, do it against me, ****er!” she screamed at Chaos as he fell backward.

“Nekou, not now!” Matt shouted over to her. He and Bunny were supporting Nikolai, who could no longer stand on his own and was suffering more violent convulsions. “Look at this… whatever he had that dart spiked with really messed Nikolai up!”

“Hurry, get him out of here! Go to Violet City’s Pokémon Center. He should be able to get treatment there!”

“You heard the man, Nekou!” Bunny called out, intending to follow Dante’s orders. “Let’s go!”

It took every ounce of Nekou’s remaining restraint, but she managed to tear herself away from her fight with Chaos, even though she hadn’t yet worked through the rush she still felt. Blinking repeatedly, she forced down her aggression, and the yellow glow disappeared from her eyes. Matt and Bunny assisted Nikolai in escaping into the woods to the west, and Nekou escorted Olivia in following them.

Stumbling to his feet, Chaos yelled after the five, “Stop! You are going nowhere!”

“No, you are the one who won’t be going anywhere,” Dante offered as a correction while his Haxorus stood in Chaos’s way. “I will dispose of you myself.”

“Hmph, like there’s anything an old man like you can do! Bisharp, Liepard, Banette, attack!”

Summoning what strength they had left, Chaos’s three Pokémon all lunged at Haxorus. Both she and Dante remained calm, however. Neither of them saw the opposing trio of Pokémon or their trainer as a threat in the least.

“Haxorus,” Dante coolly directed, even closing his eyes as he spoke, “Dual Chop.”

Just like when they’d arrived earlier, Haxorus swiftly charged forward and cut Liepard down using her right tusk, then slashed Banette with the left. Both Pokémon crumpled to the ground as a result of everything they’d taken.

“Bisharp, Iron Head!!”

“It is over. Haxorus, use Counter!”

An orange light outlined Haxorus’s body, and when Bisharp’s metallic headbutt struck her, she immediately punched him squarely in the face. Because Haxorus’s attack was twice as strong as the move she had been hit with, Bisharp was defeated just as his allies were.

“Is that it?” Dante taunted the dumbfounded Shadow Triad member. “You were not even a slight challenge for me. Be on your way if you don’t want this to get any worse for yourself.”

“Ugh… I swear on my honor, I will avenge this loss in the name of Lord Ghetsis! Harmonia shall rise!”

Chaos quickly recalled his three fallen Pokémon, then disappeared using one of his ninja techniques, leaving Dante alone in the clearing with Haxorus.

Turning to her trainer, the golden-bodied dragon questioningly growled, “Haro?”

“He will present no more disobedience, so it is not worth pursuing him further. You did well, so rest awhile.”

-:-

A few hours later, after the sun had set over Johto, a helicopter rested outside of Mr. Pokémon’s home. It was colored black with gold trim around the doors, and barely fit in the clearing.

The inside of Mr. Pokémon’s house was as much of a disorganized mess as he was himself. Towering computer hard drives and bookshelves lined the walls, while his tables were covered by sloppy stacks of papers, magazines and foreign coins. On the far side of the darkened room was a red couch, on which his guests were sitting. One was a man in a gray uniform and a short red cape, who was sitting with his arms crossed; the other was a bright-eyed woman dressed in a smart black business suit and tie. Both of them had long, flowing hair that covered the left side of their faces; the man’s was shoulder-length and blue, while the woman’s golden hair stretched all the way down to her thighs.

“Governor Tobias, President Gabriella, is there anything I can get either of you fine folks?” Mr. Pokémon was standing hunchbacked next to the couch and held his hands together as he tried to be polite to his guests.

“Have you got any coffee? I’d really like some, especially if you could throw a lot of sugar in!”

“I’ll just take a bottle of Fresh Water, if you would.”

The difference between the two couldn’t have been more pronounced. Gabriella was outgoing and very upbeat, while Tobias conducted himself in a serious and straightforward manner.

Mr. Pokémon disappeared into the kitchen of his cluttered bungalow to fetch the refreshments that had been ordered. Standing across the room, next to a table on which he’d placed his briefcase, Dante stepped forth to begin his presentation.

“Thank you for coming out, Tobias, Gabriella.” Before speaking further, he leaned his weight on his cane and bowed slightly, then opened his briefcase to reveal the Meteonite piece. “I merely have a small amount of research to present to you regarding the Meteonite, as I described.”

“I’m all ears,” Tobias said.

“You see, the Meteonite…” Dante was briefly interrupted when Mr. Pokémon returned to hand Tobias his water and Gabriella her coffee, but he quickly picked up again. “The Meteonite is composed of an element that does not exist on Earth. This alone warrants further study, for it is clearly not anything that is currently included on the periodic table. This element, therefore, should also be called Meteonite, unless a new name is decided upon later.”

“That’s fascinating, Dr. Fantomos, but tell me… does it actually do anything?”

“Yeah, you know, Tobias is right. A glittery rock is nice and all, but if you can’t do anything with it, it’s only good for looking at. And that’s really kind of boring, right?”

“I’m getting to that. One property this element appears to have is responsiveness to itself. As in, if you use a quantity of it to search, it will react when a second quantity is nearby. It appears to interfere with electronics when it is activated, as if it is generating an electromagnetic pulse.”

“Could it possibly have a medicinal use?”

Dante coughed before answering Gabriella’s question; the air in Mr. Pokémon’s house was rather dusty. “I suppose it is possible that the electrical pulses released by Meteonite can have a stimulating effect on living tissue.”

“Excellent! I wish to acquire some of this magic rock of yours right away, then, Dante. I’ll send it right off to my R&D department at the Angel Corporation, and we might discover some new medical treatments!”

“Surely this element is useful for more than just regenerative medicine?” Tobias remarked.

“I was getting to that. During my experiments with the Meteonite in my possession, I discovered a potential use for it that was unlike anything else.”

“Which is?”

“While I was experimenting with applying electrical pulses of differing frequencies to the Meteonite, it reacted and created energy pulses. Nearby, a pack of Pawniard and a Bisharp went wild after being exposed to that energy. I believe that this element may be capable of influencing Pokémon behavior when certain electrical pulses are applied to it. I tested several different frequencies, and it would appear that the Pawniard and Bisharp only responded to that frequency, so I theorize that different frequencies affect different families of Pokémon.”

“To think a simple rock from space could be so amazing…” said an awed Gabriella.

“It all makes sense. I will have to direct the Tohjo Continent officials to draw up emergency plans for if more Meteonite lands on Earth after the Ruins of Alph strike.” Rising to his feet, Tobias extended his hand to Dante. “Dr. Fantomos, I know Gabriella will have the Angel Corporation’s R&D do what they can, but your mind is very important for us to have on this study. You may be the only man who can truly understand how Meteonite affects living things.”

“I’ll be honored to continue working with you, Governor,” Dante responded, accepting Tobias’s handshake. “Anything I’m able to do to help the people of this country, don’t hesitate to let me know.”

“Dante, you know, I have to thank you for all the help you’re giving us, for real. Since those things started falling from the sky, weird stuff has been happening. I appreciate that someone with a big brain like you is giving us a hand figuring it all out.”

“You’re very welcome, Gabriella.” Dante shook Gabriella’s hand after releasing Tobias’s. “I’ll arrange the transfer of the Meteonite to your building in Viridian City right away. Be safe on your way back.”

-:-

Tobias and Gabriella left Mr. Pokémon’s house and Route 30 at the conclusion of the meeting, departing together in the helicopter that they arrived in. Dante, on the other hand, stayed at his friend’s home; the two spent quite some time discussing the most recent magazines from foreign nations to be added to Mr. Pokémon’s collection over some beer. Eventually, Dante decided to turn in for the night, but Mr. Pokémon remained up, working on his computers.

Outside in the bushes, beneath the moon and stars filling the clear night sky, James and Meowth were working with the R-Pad while Jessie and Wobbuffet observed Mr. Pokémon’s house using binoculars.

“Look at this data, it’s incredible!” James exclaimed, though he quickly tried to check the volume of his voice. “Maybe this is how we should have gone about it this way last time, stealing the data after letting Team Plasma take the Meteonite.”

“Oh, come on.” Meowth looked up from the charts of data steadily streaming in from Mr. Pokémon’s hacked servers and hissed, “You know that’s not helping!”

“Sorry, sorry.” As the download of the Meteonite data completed, James deactivated the computer and picked it up. Turning his head, he quietly called to his teammate, “Jessie, see anything?”

“It’s a house at night, James. Of course I haven’t seen anything.” Jessie sighed and slumped over. The job of keeping watch over the building for signs of any danger was an incredibly boring one to her; in fact, she found a lot of their current mission dull. Ever since she, James and Meowth had been dragged out of retirement by Pierce on behalf of Team Rocket, she had been hoping that it would at least be for an entertaining reason. Simply sitting around watching houses didn’t sate her appetite for action.

“Wobbuffet! Wobba!!”

Wobbuffet frantically tugging on her arm meant that just perhaps, action had found them in the end.

“What do you want?” she sharply demanded of her Pokémon.

“Wobba!”

Following Wobbuffet’s wild gestures, Jessie looked back through her binoculars at the house. What she saw made her gasp.

“James, Meowth, be quiet and get over here. Something’s happening.”

The door of the building had opened, and Mr. Pokémon had stepped out. In his hand was the briefcase containing the Meteonite, the same one that Dante had delivered to him.

“Where are they?” the disheveled old man wondered aloud. “They’re late.”

“Sorry to keep you waiting. We are here.”

From the westbound road, a woman wearing a plush coat of brown fur emerged, followed by four men in khaki uniforms. The woman’s most distinguishing feature, however, was the mask covering her face, which was designed to incorporate the beak and red-white-and-blue feathers of Braviary.

“So you finally showed up, Mercury?!” Mr. Pokémon growled. “It took you long enough. Getting this thing was hard enough!”

“Oh, cool it, we’re not that late. Séduire and I were making some preparations for the next stage. I trust that knowledge of the Meteonite’s purpose has been contained?”

“There’s nothing to worry about,” he assured Mercury with a smirk, which quickly vanished. “Your son and that girl he was taking care of were sniffing around here, though. I don’t have any reason to think they know anything beyond the word Meteonite.”

Mercury slouched; this wasn’t news she was hoping to hear. “I really would have liked that to not be the case, but it’s not your fault.”

Over in the bushes, Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were watching this scene with awe.

“Would you look at that,” Meowth uttered in sheer amazement, “Mr. Pokémon is in with Polaris!”

“This is big… we have to tell someone. It’s worse than we thought.”

Nodding in agreement with James’s comment, Jessie added, “Dr. Zager and the boss need to know that nobody can be trusted.”

“Nobody needs to know anything!”

Out of nowhere, Chaos warped into the area the trio were using for their hideout. The sudden appearance of the Shadow Triad member startled them so badly that they stumbled out into the open, blowing their cover. Mercury seemed unsurprised by their presence, but her followers and Mr. Pokémon all jumped, shocked by the sudden interruption.

“Intruders!” Mr. Pokémon shouted before seeing the ‘R’ logo on the uniforms they wore under their trenchcoats. “Team Rocket! They’re here! It’s happening!!”

“What is it you want, Team Rocket?” Mercury questioned them in a severe tone, having secured the Meteonite’s briefcase for herself.

“They were spying on your meeting,” Chaos explained as he walked from the bushes. “They know about the Meteonite.”

“Well that is not any surprise, not after how relentlessly Team Rocket pursued the Meteonite in Unova.”

“Shall we dispose of them?” one of the men in Mercury’s team asked her.

“No,” she replied, looking down on the Team Rocket trio, who were in complete disarray. “Let me do it. Electivire, go!”

The Electric-type Pokémon, whose bulky, muscular body was covered in yellow fur and black stripes, materialized alongside his masked trainer. They both took a single step forward, meaning to intimidate the Team Rocket trio.

To a degree, it worked. Surrounded by Mercury, her men and her growling Electivire on one side and Chaos on the other, they constricted closer and closer to each other, searching for a way out.

“Jessie, James, you know, now would be a really good time for one of you to come up with a plan!!”

“We’re sitting ducks here,” James concurred with Meowth. “What should we do?”

“There’s no way out of this one,” Jessie quickly concluded, taking another Poké Ball from the pocket of her coat, “so the only right thing to do is go down fighting!”

“That’s my kind of talk.”

Jessie and James each opened a single Poké Ball simultaneously. Jessie’s ball released a plump bat Pokémon with a heart-shaped nose and a midsection covered in white fur, while James’s gave rise to a golden coffin cloaked in a shadow that formed four long arms and hands. These two Pokémon, immediately becoming aware of the threat they faced, moved to shield their trainers with their bodies.

“How quaint!” Mercury blew her opposition off. “Two agents of a dying crime group trying to stand up against me.”

“You be quiet!” James shot back, his emotions finally boiling over. “We don’t know what Polaris is planning, but I’ll tell you that Team Rocket will prevent you from doing it so we can rule the world!”

“If that’s what you believe in, defeat me.” Shedding her lighthearted cockiness, Mercury steeled her stance and became serious.

“So what are you two mooks waiting for?!” Meowth loudly griped at his teammates.

“Nothing! Swoobat, use Heart Stamp!”

“Cofagrigus, combine your Will-O-Wisp with that!”

Cofagrigus’s red eyes, which were peering out from an opening in the upper part of his coffin, flashed brightly. He then made a flicking motion with each of his four hands, forming a ring of blue fireballs. When Swoobat started to glide toward Electivire, these fireballs surrounded her, complementing her glowing, heart-shaped nose.

“I’ll give you credit for having the courage to attack head-on. Foolhardy, but courageous. Electivire, take all that out with Electroweb!”

Electivire thrust his right arm forward, directly at the oncoming attacks aimed his way. From each of his fingers, strings of electrically charged webbing lashed out, washing over and knocking down Swoobat while dispelling the Will-O-Wisp flames.

Once Swoobat was down, Electivire released a second, more intense shock through the web, causing the bat Pokémon to cry out in pain.

“Swoobat!” exclaimed a dismayed Jessie. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you out of there. Right, James?”

“I’ll try! Cofagrigus, use Will-O-Wisp to burn the webbing!”

“Electroweb!”

Cofagrigus started to form more wisps of fire around himself, but Mercury’s Electivire cut him off. The Electric-type Pokémon now thrust up his left hand and released an even larger amount of web, now creating a massive net that held down both Cofagrigus and Swoobat.

“Now it’s time for this to end. Electivire, shock them.”

With both hands now controlling the wide net he’d cast, Electivire sent a massive surge of electricity flowing through it. The web ultimately burned away, but not before acting as the conductor for enough energy to leave Swoobat and Cofagrigus as twitching wrecks on the ground.

“Finish them off! Wild Charge!” Mercury wasn’t paying attention to the Team Rocket members, but if she was, she would have seen that they smirked slightly when she gave this command.

A shroud of yellow electricity completely enveloped Electivire’s body, and by using his powerful legs to propel himself, he lunged for Swoobat and Cofagrigus.

“Now!” Jessie screamed. “Wobbuffet, Destiny Bond!”

To protect his trainer, her friends and her Pokémon, Wobbuffet jumped in between them and the charging Electivire. Just before Wild Charge struck him, his entire body flashed with purple light.

Left with a wide swath of his skin seared by Electivire’s power, Wobbuffet crumpled to the ground. Electivire backed up to survey his work, only to be suddenly overcome by the purple light. Despite his best efforts to tear out of its influence, Electivire was unable to escape, and ultimately ended up falling as well.

“Well played!” Mercury said while sending Electivire back to his Great Ball, genuinely impressed at Team Rocket’s tactics.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Meowth charged forward, setting his sights on the briefcase containing the Meteonite shard, which Mercury had set down on the ground when the battle had begun. As soon as they realized what was happening, Mercury’s men all drew Poké Balls of their own, but it was once again Mercury herself who threw her Net Ball. Just as Meowth secured the case, a Pelipper appeared and impeded him.

“Outta my way, you lug!”

“Not with our Meteonite, Meowth. Pelipper, use Soak!”

Before Meowth could escape, Pelipper opened her large bill and sprayed a shower of water over Meowth. He wasn’t hurt by the attack, but he hated being covered in water and tried as hard as he could to shake it off.

“What do you think you’re doing?!”

“Taking back what rightfully belongs to Polaris. Seed Bomb!”

Pelipper opened her bill again, but what came out this time was a barrage of round seeds. Meowth tried to run, but no matter which direction he took the case, he couldn’t escape. He found himself trapped within a field of small explosions that wracked his body like that of a rag doll.

However, something else happened in addition – the explosions threw the briefcase into the air, and while it reached the peak of its flight, it slipped open and the Meteonite shard fell out.

“That’s the Meteonite!” Jessie exclaimed, having recalled all her Pokémon along with James.

“Meowth, get it!”

“I’ve got this!” Meowth lunged for the rock with his arms outstretched, and surprisingly enough, he safely got under the falling Meteonite with little effort.

The Meteonite landed squarely in Meowth’s grasp, prompting him to smile in relief once he realized he had it. That happiness would not last long – sparks suddenly started flying from the glowing Meteonite, followed by a radiant energy blast that blinded everyone in the clearing, including Mercury and her followers.

At the center of it all, Meowth felt like his mind was being torn apart. Horrifying images of death and despair flashed rapidly through his imagination, and he could feel his soul warping with every vision.

When the light faded and both opposing factions recovered their sight, they found Meowth standing at the epicenter of the event, eyes closed and holding the Meteonite in his arms.

“The Meteonite became unstable again…” James immediately observed.

“Wait, what’s wrong with Meowth?” wondered Jessie.

On the other side of the clearing, Mercury knew exactly what was going on. “Meowth, come over here. Be a good boy and give us the Meteonite piece back.”

“Yes, as you wish…” the feline Pokémon mumbled. He turned and shuffled to Mercury to hand over the Meteonite, and it was not until then that he finally opened his eyes.

Meowth’s eyes were filled with red.

“What have you done to him?” James angrily demanded, stomping his foot into the ground hard enough to leave a relatively deep footprint.

“Isn’t it obvious? The Meteonite can control the minds of Pokémon! You know that! Your Meowth just exposed himself directly to its power as it became unstable, so it has changed him. He is now one of us!”

“That’s a lie! Meowth, you’d never betray me, right?”

The silence that Jessie was met with told her everything she needed to know. Something really had happened to force Meowth to switch sides.

“Well, I would call this a successful meeting. We’ve got the Meteonite and Team Rocket’s Meowth is now a Polaris member. I’d say it’s time for us to call it a day. Pelipper, Gunk Sh…”

Mercury’s final command was cut off by the sound of a speeding car. A short, black limousine came tearing into the clearing, spinning to a stop near Jessie and James, and the flash of a Poké Ball from inside released an Arbok.

“Arbok, Thunder Fang!” Ariana commanded from inside the car. Arbok immediately went off lunging at Pelipper, so Ariana then called to Jessie and James, “Hurry unless you want to get captured or killed!”

“But they got Meowth!” James yelled back.

Ariana let out an exasperated, exaggerated sigh. “Then I’ll have to just pick you up on my own. Arbok, Poison Tail!”

Pelipper was already stunned by the time Arbok brought his tail down on her. Smashed into the ground and unconscious, Pelipper would no longer be a problem for Team Rocket’s goals.

However, before they could do anything, Jessie and James had their path to Mercury and Meowth blocked by a Gastrodon, a Porygon2, a Sandslash and a Weavile. The four Pokémon under the ownership of Mercury’s henchmen glared menacingly at the now helpless Team Rocket members.

“Jessie, what do we do? We’ve got to get to him!”

“I-I don’t know!” Admitting helplessness was something Jessie hated doing, but the situation gave her no other choice. “Meowth, snap out of it!”

“If that’s the best you can do,” Mercury taunted them, “give up now. You’re in over your heads.”

Jessie and James both opened their mouths to respond, but before they could, Ariana’s Arbok slithered and coiled around them, then dragged them into Ariana’s car.

“Hurry, stop them!” Mercury ordered her subordinates.

Before the four Pokémon still under her squad’s command could launch any kind of attack, a weapon installed in Ariana’s car discharged a thick smokescreen. With their sight impaired, the Pokémon were powerless to prevent Team Rocket’s escape.

Inside the plush interior of the car, however, there was no feeling of victory. Both Jessie and James, while still trying to maintain some air of respect for their superior, felt completely outraged at what they’d been forced to do.

“How can you make us leave Meowth behind? They brainwashed him!”

“You and Dr. Zager didn’t tell us everything we needed to know!” James added. “Team Plasma? Mr. Pokémon being a Polaris member? We weren’t prepared to deal with this!”

Ariana kept her gaze fixed straight ahead and continued driving as she responded to them. “There are things even we didn’t know. We thought Ghetsis was the only Team Plasma member involved in this, and we had no intelligence to indicate that Mr. Pokémon was one of them. I’m sorry about Meowth, but there’s nothing we could have done back there. I’m taking you two back to Dr. Zager and we’ll talk to the boss.”

“Well, make it quick, because James and I are going to get him back.”

“We’ll make them sorry they messed with us. It’s personal now.”







END of CHAPTER 6

Matori
20th November 2012, 5:58 AM
This was an exciting chapter. It was shorter than some of your others, but you really worked a lot of great stuff into it.


Matt and Nekou had spent a small amount of time talking over the beer she shared with him the previous night. Somehow, it was actually a worthwhile discussion – they spoke of Olivia’s well-being for a while, then started talking about books they liked. The alcohol took its toll on Matt, though, and he soon felt tired. It was not long after that that he simply fell asleep.
This is really really cute. I love the idea of two friends just chilling with beer and talking about stuff.


The answer didn’t come immediately to him. He glanced over the four of them; the flamboyant young woman, his conservatively-dressed friend and her outlandish counterpart, and the elderly scientist wearing a brown coat and holding a briefcase in his hand. All of them merely stood before Matt and stared back as he tried to figure out what was wrong.
This really gives an idea of how much of a group of misfits they are.


On the upside, though, he slept well and felt completely reinvigorated the next day. As he had finished eating well before the others had even all gotten up, he separated from them and left the Pokémon Center to await them at the gateway to Route 30. The bright morning sun cast golden light over the flowing grass stretching out beyond the borders of Cherrygrove City; it also warmed the earthy red leaves of the autumn trees surrounding the route.

Excellent, gorgeous imagery.


At that same time, somewhere far away, Finansielle was meeting with Jeunes and Getriebe. The video screen displaying her armor-covered shoulders, head and face was so outsized that it allowed her to lord over the sterile, metallic laboratory where the two male Polaris members were.

Polaris sure isn't subtle, are they?


“But everything else is going exactly according to plan,” Jeunes made sure to hastily add, all while pushing up his Mewtwo mask to push up the glasses held underneath. “The gathering of battle data has gone smoothly. We’re tracking the Meteonite right now, and we have several teams ready to go to secure it, which I intend to personally lead. Getting back to the Pokérus for a moment, though, we have managed to find the way to trigger a transformation in its genetic makeup. We just don’t know how to get it to mutate into what we want yet.”

uh-oh.



Further up the lightly wooded road of Route 30, Renzo and his Drowzee were engaged in a battle against a wild Pokémon while three younger children watched from the sidelines. The Pokémon – a fluffy, round, white ball of cotton – used a pair of green leaf-like appendages to flutter out of Drowzee’s grasp, making it hard for the Psychic-type to land a hit.


General Renzo thoughts: I really love how you've characterized him, especially his speech patterns, and his admirers are really cute too. He's a jerk but he's sort of adorable in his own way.


“Bring it on!” Olivia immediately shot back, without even taking a moment to think. “I beat you once and I’ll do it again!”


aww, Olivia. I love how badass she is, and confident.


“Don’t you think that’s a little cruel?” By the scowl on her face, Bunny was clearly bothered by Renzo’s names for Olivia. “The way you talk, you make it sound like Olivia killed your mother or something.”

Love Bunny sticking up for Olivia.

The battle between Renzo and Olivia flows excellently, I think. The way you show how brutal a battler Gurdurr is and how loyal Olivia's Pokemon are really makes a good contrast between the two rivals- Renzo is merciless, but Olivia's Pokemon are more than willing to fight through for her even if it's futile. Watching Olivia slowly lose confidence was heartbreaking, though.


“**** this!” Nekou screeched, still trying to get through to Olivia. “Olivia, there’s no shame in throwing in the towel! This isn’t worth it anymore!”

I think this is a really important scene for Nekou because it shows even though she's supportive and a sis of sorts to Olivia, she also knows when to tell Olivia hard things and protect her.


“You would know if it was me, kid. And ‘*****?’ You wish that was the worst name I’ve been called.”

Never change, Nekou.


To the surprise of all the people gathered on the road, a tall, lithe young man jumped from the bushes to stand in the middle of the battle. His windbreaker jacket – designed with a checkerboard pattern over half-black, half-white coloring – fit loosely on his thin frame, while his long green hair flowed into a ponytail against his back from beneath his similarly-colored baseball cap.


I WONDER WHO THIS COULD BE.

I love the little detail on his jacket, nice shoutout there.


“So ungrateful, but I forgive you…” The strange young trainer continued gesturing strangely as he spoke, moving his hands and arms in wide, sweeping gestures. “My name is Nikolai, and I am a trainer… well, that’s not quite right. I am searching… for trainers and Pokémon who get along as equals. Where will you go from our meeting?”

I adore how you've characterized him so far. It matches his character perfectly, and it really makes him stand out. His speech style is also something I think you got right, I really adore it.


“Because I used to know someone who had that power.” Reaching into his coat, Matt took out a pocketwatch, which he opened. Inside was a second cover, and on that second cover was a painting. It depicted a young woman, wearing white priestess clothing and her brown hair styled into three buns, whose face was distinguished by thick eyebrows above a pair of fierce, powerful blue eyes. Matt spent a moment looking at the painting, allowing himself the memories and regrets it brought to mind, before he spoke again. “Sheena was her name. She had the power of Transcendence like you, except she could only link with the hearts of people and Pokémon, not heal them like you do.”


aww, Sheena. The pocketwatch detail is really sweet. I love how Nikolai also has that ability, it makes perfect sense with the talking to Pokemon thing.


Out on the road, Nikolai seemed to have a childlike sense of wonder as he examined Matt’s six Pokémon, the light of his power emanating from his outstretched hands all the while. He had quickly gravitated towards Matt’s Heatran, as he was aware of the kind of stories told about the stout-bodied Fire-and-Steel-type. Next, he moved on to Matt’s Sigilyph and Golurk, and the brightly-colored, three-eyed bird and towering golem both appeared more than happy to interact with him. The same could also be said about his Salamence and Beartic, but his final Pokémon – an eel whose blue body had three yellow dots on each side – visibly vexed him.


This is also really cute. You really got his childlike nature perfect, but in a way that's not insulting or degrading to him. It's more on the "innocent and curious" side than the "stupid" side.


“That scary guy on the television keeps telling us that trainers who have starter Pokémon and Pokédexes are the reason why trainers like my friends and I never get anywhere…”

“Do you mean Ghetsis?” Nekou interrupted. When the boy nodded, she asked him, “What do you mean when you say that you and your friends never get anywhere?”

“None of us have starter Pokémon. I just have my Taillow, while Julia has her Sandshrew and Ronald has his Marill. The three of us have been trying to make it to Violet City for weeks, but stronger trainers keep coming and beating us, and we don’t have enough money for medicine or the Pokémon Center…”

Having listened intently to the boy’s story, Nekou decided to give them help. She immediately looked up and called, “Matt!”

“What?” He had been watching Nikolai with his Pokémon, and as a result he was not paying attention to Olivia or the children.

“Call HR-E here. These kids are in desperate need of some supplies.”

“Hm?” Nekou’s request was so sudden that it took Matt several seconds to fully process exactly what it was she wanted. Once he fully grasped it, though, he reached up to his mask and pressed a tiny button located just under the eyepiece. “It’ll be here in a little while. What’d I miss?”

“Ghetsis has been giving speeches claiming that trainers with starter Pokémon and Pokédexes keep trainers without those things from succeeding. I think this might be a little more serious than just the typical dime a dozen television snake oil salesman.”

“Isn’t Pokémon training supposed to be about making it your own way, no matter which way you choose?” Olivia wondered out loud. “The idea of one group of trainers making it harder for another group of trainers to succeed doesn’t make sense to me.”

This scene really hits on something a lot of stories don't cover, mainly the differences in class that must be lurking under the surface in the Pokemon universe, the implications of prize money in battles, and the power of the media.


Meowth reached under James’s arm and pressed his paw against the R-Pad’s screen, triggering a pre-recorded video of Dr. Zager sitting in front of a camera.

“Welcome. If you’re watching this video, something has gone wrong with the mission to capture the Meteonite from Route 29, and therefore you require the pre-prepared contingency plan. On Route 30 is the home of a man known as Mr. Pokémon, who collects and researches rare treasures. It is highly likely that he possesses information on the Meteonite. You are to remotely hack into his servers and download any data you can find, then forward it on to me.”

I love the idea of pre-recorded backup plan videos.


The house, a modest, two-story building made of wood, was being attacked by a Pokémon. They had to look carefully to see it, but there was a blue rock Pokémon shooting energy blasts from its yellow core at the structure.

“What is that Pokémon?”

Even before Matt finished asking his question, Olivia had her Pokédex out and was already in the process of scanning the Pokémon.

“Roggenrola, the Mantle Pokémon. The hexagonal-shaped hole is its ear. It has a tendency to walk in the direction the sound is coming from.”

Roggenrola are really, really weird. The image is hilariously awkward.


“Ro-genn!” she cried, rushing forward on her tiny brown feet. She threw herself at Charlotte, but the Eelektrik weaved away, allowing the failed Headbutt attack to sail harmlessly past. Roggenrola ended up sliding into the dirt just beyond where Charlotte stood.


DEAD.


“I think that ought to do it,” he said to Bunny, Olivia and Nikolai, who were the only ones still paying attention to what was going on; Dante was already walking to the door of Mr. Pokémon’s home, while Nekou was spending her time looking at the trees surrounding the road. Sighing, Matt took out another Poké Ball and wordlessly threw it at Roggenrola. This time, the Pokémon put up little resistance and was successfully captured.

“I hope you will treat that Roggenrola properly…”

“You don’t have anything to worry about,” Matt said, dismissing Nikolai’s incessant concern while he picked up the Poké Ball that now contained his Roggenrola. Turning his head, he asked, “Nekou, what are you doing?”

“I love how the trees look in autumn…”

“I guess she’s just being herself again,” he conceded, sighing.


haha Nekou.


I LOVE MR. POKEMON. I love how he's a conspiracy nut and some kind of Alex Jones fanboy type who's also a woman-hater on top of all that, and I love how Nekou has absolutely zero ****s to be given when he calls her a wench.


“I don’t know. Finished looking at leaves?”

“I’ll remember that, smartass.” The way Nekou was smiling gave away that she was saying this in a good-natured way, for a change. “What’s going on with Dr. Fantomos?”

hahaha


Apparently having not perceived Nekou’s presence earlier, Chaos smirked beneath the mesh covering his mouth. “Well, well, well, seeing you is certainly a surprise, Black Cat. It must have slipped your mind that we, the Shadow Triad, live only to serve Lord Ghetsis and his whims.”

>Black Cat
I see what you did there.


“It’ll be hard to please him when you’re in pieces.”


most badass one-liner ever.

The battle against the Shadow Triad was nicely brutal, I think you made it very clear how ruthless they are.



Stumbling back and looking down at the red ooze slowly trickling out of her skin, Nekou spat, “****, you got me! Well, actually, you only got my clothes… I guess Ghetsis didn’t prepare you for facing me?” Nekou lightly ran her hand over the bloody wound, then raised that same hand to her mouth and licked the liquid off. Immediately, her mind began to race. “Mmm… yeah, they didn’t tell you, so I will. You might have cut me, but the thing is… a wounded animal is the most vicious!”

When she jerked her head back up, Nekou’s eyes were filled with a bright yellow glow. She screamed loudly enough to cause her voice to crack and lunged at Chaos, assaulting him in such a bloodthirsty frenzy that he couldn’t keep up. Her switchblade first claimed his gloves, which fell to the ground in pieces, then began nicking small cuts into his exposed hands and arms.

“You’re mine now, you little ****! All I have to do is beat you before that happens now!”

This is incredibly badass, and I really love how she doesn't even seem to care she's bleeding. I'm wondering if her eyes lighting up means something... I can't wait to learn more about this.

Nekou having to fight to get herself to stop attacking Chaos really shows how she knows somehow that she can turn dangerous for whatever reason and that she's apparently prepared herself. That aspect of her is important I think- that she seems to be aware she could present a danger to herself or others and deals with it accordingly.


“It’s a house at night, James. Of course I haven’t seen anything.” Jessie sighed and slumped over.
Haha, Jessie.



“Wobbuffet! Wobba!!”

Wobbuffet frantically tugging on her arm meant that just perhaps, action had found them in the end.

“What do you want?” she sharply demanded of her Pokémon.

“Wobba!”

Following Wobbuffet’s wild gestures, Jessie looked back through her binoculars at the house. What she saw made her gasp.

WOBBUFFET


To a degree, it worked. Surrounded by Mercury, her men and her growling Electivire on one side and Chaos on the other, they constricted closer and closer to each other, searching for a way out.

I was able to picture this perfectly in my head.



Jessie and James each opened a single Poké Ball simultaneously. Jessie’s ball released a plump bat Pokémon with a heart-shaped nose and a midsection covered in white fur, while James’s gave rise to a golden coffin cloaked in a shadow that formed four long arms and hands. These two Pokémon, immediately becoming aware of the threat they faced, moved to shield their trainers with their bodies.


YES

SWOOBAT AND COFAGRIGUS

Wobbuffet using Destiny Bond was something I wasn't expecting. I really actually like seeing Jessie knowing how to take advantage of Wobbuffet's awesome power in the story because I think Wobbuffet was really wasted in the show a lot.


At the center of it all, Meowth felt like his mind was being torn apart. Horrifying images of death and despair flashed rapidly through his imagination, and he could feel his soul warping with every vision.

When the light faded and both opposing factions recovered their sight, they found Meowth standing at the epicenter of the event, eyes closed and holding the Meteonite in his arms.

“The Meteonite became unstable again…” James immediately observed.

“Wait, what’s wrong with Meowth?” wondered Jessie.

On the other side of the clearing, Mercury knew exactly what was going on. “Meowth, come over here. Be a good boy and give us the Meteonite piece back.”

“Yes, as you wish…” the feline Pokémon mumbled. He turned and shuffled to Mercury to hand over the Meteonite, and it was not until then that he finally opened his eyes.

Meowth’s eyes were filled with red.

“What have you done to him?” James angrily demanded, stomping his foot into the ground hard enough to leave a relatively deep footprint.

“Isn’t it obvious? The Meteonite can control the minds of Pokémon! You know that! Your Meowth just exposed himself directly to its power as it became unstable, so it has changed him. He is now one of us!”
Poor Meowth. :(

I really like how you're showing TR's love for Meowth, I think a lot of fans forget that Meowth is basically their best friend and one of the things that's kept them together so long and they're not the same without him.

Excellent, exciting chapter that raised questions I can't wait to see answered. Keep up the excellent work!

Bay
22nd November 2012, 2:45 AM
Would have posted this earlier, but internet wasn't working the last couple days. >.>; Now that everything is running again, on to the review!

First part I want to say yay new version of Matt’s HR-E! XD

As much as I enjoy Olivia developing as a trainer, she does need to learn when to throw in the towel to prevent anything worse from happening. Lucky Nikolai stopped the battle just in time. Upon Nikolai’s appearance, I knew he must be N (I’m assuming he gave himself that name so that his real name isn’t known) due to his comments on Pokemon and humans must work together and his thoughts on battling. Like your take on him so far and it’s good he helped Matt out with Charlotte.


“Come on, I know you’re home!” he called, his voice clearly conveying the irritation he felt.

“The Pokémon want to come in here and eat all the food I’ve got!” someone shouted back from behind the door.

“Oy, not this again… there’s no Pokémon out here that want your food, at least anymore anyway. And if you’d stop feeding them, they’ll stop coming!”
Bwhahahaha, you showed this to me and Dawn a few days ago, so it’s great to see this bit again.

Am curious over Nekou’s Black Cat title. Fits her very well, though! I’m actually reminded of the manga Black Cat, which is about a bounty hunter who used to be an assassin. I can tell you more about the manga if you like. XD Other thoughts while reading the confrontation with the Shadow Triad scene are ouch over Nikolai being poisoned. D: And nice Dante has Haxrous. I like that for some reason. XD

The part with Team Rocket versus Mercury is nicely done. Love Jessie and James able to come up with some battling techniques there. Also woot for Ariana’s appearance! Hope Jessie and James get Meowth soon. :<

Overall some pretty awesome stuff happening this chapter. Looking forward to more!

Morpher01
25th November 2012, 10:11 PM
You know, I think that this is probably my favorite chapter thus far (though I anticipate that I may find a new favorite down the line).

Let's take a closer look:


Though he wanted to accept Olivia’s decision, second thoughts clouded Matt’s mind. He stood still, unable to rid himself of a lingering concern that something just couldn’t possibly be right about Olivia’s miraculous recovery. To force it out of his head, he finally turned back around to face what he had been looking at.

I believe the trope was called "Chekov's Gun"? Matt probably wouldn't be thinking so hard about Olivia's sudden recovery if there wasn't something unnatural surrounding it.


Renzo pulled a red-and-white sphere from the inner part of his tattered poncho and threw it at the Pokémon he’d just finished fighting. The Poké Ball cracked open upon hitting Cottonee’s body, allowing its inner technology to convert the Pokémon into energy before pulling her in. It then sealed up and fell to the ground, where before the eyes of Renzo and his Psychic-type, it rocked and shuddered.

“Come on...” the ragged trainer thought to himself. “I can’t afford any more Poké Balls…”

He didn’t need to worry, however, as almost immediately after he finished that thought, the Poké Ball became still and gave off a pinging sound, indicating a successful capture. Renzo’s attitude quickly changed; he excitedly ran over to where the Poké Ball lay on the ground and picked it up, while the more lethargic Drowzee simply ambled up alongside his trainer.

“Wow, great job!” called one of the children, a bright-eyed girl whose brown hair hung in a side-tied ponytail.

“Yes, thank you…” Renzo replied, before cracking the Poké Ball in his hand open once more. The Cottonee, her body visibly bruised in several places, materialized from its confines and almost immediately shrank back upon seeing Renzo and his Drowzee. “Now, now, you don’t have to be afraid, Cottonee. We’re not going to hurt you. Please, forgive us for doing what we had to.”

Lowering himself so he wound not appear as intimidating to the small Pokémon, Renzo extended a hand and waited as Cottonee nervously examined it. It took a bit of time, but Renzo’s newly-caught Pokémon did eventually decide that the situation was safe, at which point she hopped up into his hand and allowed him to hold her.

“There you go,” he said in an attempt to further comfort her, “nothing to be afraid of.”

I REALLY like this passage. It shows Renzo as being more of a three-dimensional character instead of a rival who does nothing but foam at the mouth and go "GRAH MUST BEAT HER RAAGH". I also like how he got some kids to idolize him, as well as how he told Olivia that he would be using Gurdurr to battle instead of Drowzee or Cottonee. He's clearly not a complete villain, but he's more of a grey area, and I like that.


Oshawott held up his shell in a feeble attempt to shield himself from the terrifying Fighting-type Pokémon bearing down on him, but it made no difference. The shell was no match for the force of Gurdurr’s fist, which shattered it into pieces before striking Oshawott directly in the stomach, sending him rolling back through the dirt. Oshawott was hit so hard that he dug a trail into the path as he skidded to a stop.

Something tells me that's going to be brought up later...

Also, Renzo's Gurdurr is a BEAST. It reminds me of my first Driftveil Tournament challenge, when my Krokorok completely slaughtered Colress' entire team. It was AWESOME. XD


“It was I.”

To the surprise of all the people gathered on the road, a tall, lithe young man jumped from the bushes to stand in the middle of the battle. His windbreaker jacket – designed with a checkerboard pattern over half-black, half-white coloring – fit loosely on his thin frame, while his long green hair flowed into a ponytail against his back from beneath his similarly-colored baseball cap.

Ah, now here's what I wanted (but will obviously never get) from Best Wishes: an adaptation of this guy, who happens to be one of the Pokemon franchise's most interesting characters. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get a Plasma arc post-Unova League, but knowing the anime all we'll probably be getting is more TR.

I was playing N's encounter music from BW while I read his dialogue. I have to say that his actions here match very well with the eerie, almost circus-like music theme he had in the original BW.


“Not that I owe you any answer,” Renzo replied with a scoff, “but I am going to traverse Dark Cave and the mountains of Route 45 beyond. My goal is Blackthorn City, where I will get a Dratini no matter what I must do.”

Hmm...have to wonder if we'll be seeing Renzo for a while, assuming he gets through Dark Cave successfully.


“Why Dratini?” Bunny questioned. “I get that it’s rare, but you seem like you have a deeper reason.”

“Dragonite was her favorite…”

Without saying anything further, Renzo wandered off with his Pokémon. heading north on the road. The others who remained had little time to ponder his bizarre behavior, as Nikolai next approached Olivia.

Gee, I wonder who he could be referring to...?


“Please explain something to me…” Matt’s attention was pulled back to its original location when Nikolai suddenly spoke up after having approached moments before. “Your Pokémon all seem at least relatively happy to be with you, as they’ve told me stories of some of your adventures… but why is your Eelektrik not responding in the same way?”

“I haven’t really used her at all yet, to be truthful. I was hoping to get in some training with her soon...”

Suddenly becoming angry, Nikolai moved in a single abrupt motion to get right in Matt’s face. “You must treat your Pokémon better! When I spoke to your Eelektrik, it told me that it feels forgotten. Simply capturing a Pokémon in one of those awful Poké Balls is not enough! You must spend time allowing that Pokémon to be free, as well!”

Why couldn't we have had this in the anime? Having Ash on the recieving end of this would have been a thousand times better than watching Jessie and James act out the James Bond movies!

On a more positive note, Nekou's responses to Mr. Pokemon's treatment of her were quite fun. Olivia's wondering at N's name was amusing, as well.


“You’re out of luck, Black Cat!” Chaos growled. “Bisharp! Lead Banette and Liepard while I take care of this one!”

A sharp grunt and a smile indicated that Bisharp gladly accepted the responsibility Chaos delegated to him. Banette and Liepard rallied to his side, and much like a trainer, he pointed his right arm forward at their enemies and spoke in his own language to give orders, which Banette and Liepard seemingly understood.

I can easily picture a Bisharp doing this, even if it isn't with a group of Pawniard.


“Hmph, like there’s anything an old man like you can do! Bisharp, Liepard, Banette, attack!”

Summoning what strength they had left, Chaos’s three Pokémon all lunged at Haxorus. Both she and Dante remained calm, however. Neither of them saw the opposing trio of Pokémon or their trainer as a threat in the least.

“Haxorus,” Dante coolly directed, even closing his eyes as he spoke, “Dual Chop.”

Just like when they’d arrived earlier, Haxorus swiftly charged forward and cut Liepard down using her right tusk, then slashed Banette with the left. Both Pokémon crumpled to the ground as a result of everything they’d taken.

“Bisharp, Iron Head!!”

“It is over. Haxorus, use Counter!”

An orange light outlined Haxorus’s body, and when Bisharp’s metallic headbutt struck her, she immediately punched him squarely in the face. Because Haxorus’s attack was twice as strong as the move she had been hit with, Bisharp was defeated just as his allies were.

“Is that it?” Dante taunted the dumbfounded Shadow Triad member. “You were not even a slight challenge for me. Be on your way if you don’t want this to get any worse for yourself.”

Dang...Chaos was giving Matt and co. so much trouble, and yet Dante just wipes the floor with him. Have to wonder what other secrets he's hiding...


The Rocket VS Polaris scene was actually pretty good. After a long time of seeing the trio as goofs, it was refreshing to see them acting comptetantly. Kudos to Jessie for the Destiny Bond trick, although Meowth being mind-controlled is something of a problem. Might be a while before that gets resolved...

Well, with "Nikolai" poisoned and with the team in disarray, the action is definitely starting to pick up. Can't wait to see what happens next!

The Great Butler
26th November 2012, 10:42 AM
This was an exciting chapter. It was shorter than some of your others, but you really worked a lot of great stuff into it.

I was concerned that this chapter would end up excessively long, with how much I had to put into it.



This is really really cute. I love the idea of two friends just chilling with beer and talking about stuff.

It was probably a lot less intimate than you're making it sound, but on the other hand, they certainly weren't hostile towards each other.



This really gives an idea of how much of a group of misfits they are.

As if there was any question. XD


Excellent, gorgeous imagery.

Thank you!


Polaris sure isn't subtle, are they?

If you think this is non-subtle, you haven't seen anything from them yet.


uh-oh.

Yeah, things are about to get serious.


General Renzo thoughts: I really love how you've characterized him, especially his speech patterns, and his admirers are really cute too. He's a jerk but he's sort of adorable in his own way.

Yeah, I think you're going to have some... complex feelings about him by the end.


aww, Olivia. I love how badass she is, and confident.

Yeah, if there's one thing she's not putting up with right now, it's Renzo's nonsense.


Love Bunny sticking up for Olivia.

Good. I wanted to add Bunny in a bit too.


The battle between Renzo and Olivia flows excellently, I think. The way you show how brutal a battler Gurdurr is and how loyal Olivia's Pokemon are really makes a good contrast between the two rivals- Renzo is merciless, but Olivia's Pokemon are more than willing to fight through for her even if it's futile. Watching Olivia slowly lose confidence was heartbreaking, though.

That contrast is definite, but I think there are some parallels between them, too.


I think this is a really important scene for Nekou because it shows even though she's supportive and a sis of sorts to Olivia, she also knows when to tell Olivia hard things and protect her.

Nekou was always more complex than she initially appears on the surface. You'll see a lot more of this going forward.


Never change, Nekou.

Don't worry, she won't. XD;


I WONDER WHO THIS COULD BE.

I love the little detail on his jacket, nice shoutout there.

The jacket actually went through a couple of revisions along with other parts of his design. Originally, he was going to simply get a black trench coat and hat, then the jacket was half-black/half-white while the hat stayed the same. After that, the checkered pattern was added to the jacket, and he otherwise maintained his original design, which is what you see here.


I adore how you've characterized him so far. It matches his character perfectly, and it really makes him stand out. His speech style is also something I think you got right, I really adore it.

Thanks!

It was hard to get his portrayal right. His character in the games has a lot of circumstance behind it, so to get a handle on just how he should act isn't easy.


aww, Sheena. The pocketwatch detail is really sweet. I love how Nikolai also has that ability, it makes perfect sense with the talking to Pokemon thing.

This actually isn't the pocketwatch's first appearance - it was in The Firestorm Rebellion too. Matt talked about it with Nekou and Agenta in the deepest part of the temple.

It made perfect sense to me for Nikolai to have the same power as Sheena, or at least a close variant of it. That power is something that'll come up again, too.


This is also really cute. You really got his childlike nature perfect, but in a way that's not insulting or degrading to him. It's more on the "innocent and curious" side than the "stupid" side.

His childlike nature was never born from stupidity in the first place. He is profoundly smart, but he is naive - he has plenty of literal knowledge but no practical skills or experiences to apply it, so he still acts childlike.


This scene really hits on something a lot of stories don't cover, mainly the differences in class that must be lurking under the surface in the Pokemon universe, the implications of prize money in battles, and the power of the media.

Well then prepare yourself, because we're just getting started on this.


I love the idea of pre-recorded backup plan videos.

It was foreshadowed a few chapters ago, although, back then I had planned for Ariana to appear in the video as well in some regard.

Also, since the new R-Pad is based on a Wii U controller, I've devised some new ideas for ways the plans can be communicated the next time such a need arises.


Roggenrola are really, really weird. The image is hilariously awkward.



DEAD.

This is exactly why I decided to use Roggenrola for that scene instead of Boldore - because of how ridiculously awkward Roggenrola is.


haha Nekou.

Yeah, that's her alright.



I LOVE MR. POKEMON. I love how he's a conspiracy nut and some kind of Alex Jones fanboy type who's also a woman-hater on top of all that, and I love how Nekou has absolutely zero ****s to be given when he calls her a wench.

And this is why I enjoy using obscure game characters like Mr. Pokemon and the Guide Gent; I get to expand on their characters, which is something that doesn't happen regularly. In the case of Mr. Pokemon, since he is a character who is built up to be very important but only plays a tiny role based around his collecting things, I eventually decided to incorporate elements of the Doom Paul meme into his character. Meanwhile, the crack at Nekou he makes is a gag reference to Kenji from Katawa Shoujo.


hahaha

She probably will remember it, too.


>Black Cat
I see what you did there.

Do you now?


most badass one-liner ever.

It wasn't really said to be badass, though. She said it coldly, not screaming like usual.


The battle against the Shadow Triad was nicely brutal, I think you made it very clear how ruthless they are.

Well, here it was just Chaos, not the entire Shadow Triad. But your impression is true nevertheless - they've shed their identities to become ninja spies working for Ghetsis and are fully aware of what kind of person he is. 'Ruthless' is something that went out the window a long time ago.


This is incredibly badass, and I really love how she doesn't even seem to care she's bleeding. I'm wondering if her eyes lighting up means something... I can't wait to learn more about this.

It's not that she doesn't care that she's bleeding, it's that in a fight, a cut like that that draws a little blood is something she likes. It causes her to loosen up while focusing her mind, and it gives her a rush too.

Yeah, if you haven't figured it out yet, she's crazy.


Nekou having to fight to get herself to stop attacking Chaos really shows how she knows somehow that she can turn dangerous for whatever reason and that she's apparently prepared herself. That aspect of her is important I think- that she seems to be aware she could present a danger to herself or others and deals with it accordingly.

I'm not going to say anything here out of risk of spoiling something.


Haha, Jessie.

To me, that seemed like a thing Jessie would say.


WOBBUFFET

And that seemed like something Wobbuffet would do.


I was able to picture this perfectly in my head.

Good. It was a visual scene.


YES

SWOOBAT AND COFAGRIGUS

They finally get some love!


Wobbuffet using Destiny Bond was something I wasn't expecting. I really actually like seeing Jessie knowing how to take advantage of Wobbuffet's awesome power in the story because I think Wobbuffet was really wasted in the show a lot.

He was wasted, that's for sure. That's part of why I brought him back, but his having a role to play in this fight just kind of happened as I was writing it, to be honest.


Poor Meowth. :(

I really like how you're showing TR's love for Meowth, I think a lot of fans forget that Meowth is basically their best friend and one of the things that's kept them together so long and they're not the same without him.

Definitely. They survived for a long time with nothing to rely on but each other, so I see them having each others' backs above all else.

Meowth's forced betrayal isn't only going to be a plot device to motivate Jessie and James, though. It does have a purpose.


Excellent, exciting chapter that raised questions I can't wait to see answered. Keep up the excellent work!

Thank you! I'm happy you enjoyed it!


Would have posted this earlier, but internet wasn't working the last couple days. >.>; Now that everything is running again, on to the review!

Glad you worked everything out!


First part I want to say yay new version of Matt’s HR-E! XD

This was actually meant to be foreshadowed back in XD^3's final battle. The original HR-E was blown up by one of Arceus's Judgment attacks, and I had it envisioned but simply never put it into the actual story. Though it took place off-screen, it did still happen, however.


As much as I enjoy Olivia developing as a trainer, she does need to learn when to throw in the towel to prevent anything worse from happening. Lucky Nikolai stopped the battle just in time.

That's definitely a lesson she's going to have to learn.


Upon Nikolai’s appearance, I knew he must be N (I’m assuming he gave himself that name so that his real name isn’t known) due to his comments on Pokemon and humans must work together and his thoughts on battling. Like your take on him so far and it’s good he helped Matt out with Charlotte.

Right, the fact that he is N is not the surprise here. The mystery is why he does not remember Ghetsis, the Shadow Triad, Team Plasma or seemingly anything else.


Bwhahahaha, you showed this to me and Dawn a few days ago, so it’s great to see this bit again.

There was some great comic potential with the two of them. XD;


Am curious over Nekou’s Black Cat title. Fits her very well, though! I’m actually reminded of the manga Black Cat, which is about a bounty hunter who used to be an assassin. I can tell you more about the manga if you like. XD

That's what that manga is about? I've seen it many times but I've never actually investigated it. If you'd like you could tell me more.

Nekou's nickname is something that does have plot importance, which you'll see sometime later. It is important.


Other thoughts while reading the confrontation with the Shadow Triad scene are ouch over Nikolai being poisoned. D: And nice Dante has Haxrous. I like that for some reason. XD

Dante's Haxorus actually debuted in the chapter in which he debuted himself, in fact. She was walking with him when he found Olivia injured.


The part with Team Rocket versus Mercury is nicely done. Love Jessie and James able to come up with some battling techniques there. Also woot for Ariana’s appearance! Hope Jessie and James get Meowth soon. :<

It's going to be quite a ride with them... I bet you've guessed already that it's hit the fan when it comes to Team Rocket now.


Overall some pretty awesome stuff happening this chapter. Looking forward to more!

Thank you, and let me say, I don't think you'll be disappointed.


You know, I think that this is probably my favorite chapter thus far (though I anticipate that I may find a new favorite down the line).

Really? I'm kind of surprised, pleasantly so. I was worried about this chapter and I didn't have a lot of faith in it going in, owing to it being sandwiched between major arcs and having to deal with a lot of different content at once.


Let's take a closer look:



I believe the trope was called "Chekov's Gun"? Matt probably wouldn't be thinking so hard about Olivia's sudden recovery if there wasn't something unnatural surrounding it.

If I point out that it's a Chekhov's Gun, then it doesn't really qualify as one anymore, but...

Think of it this way: this is the second time something like this has happened.


I REALLY like this passage. It shows Renzo as being more of a three-dimensional character instead of a rival who does nothing but foam at the mouth and go "GRAH MUST BEAT HER RAAGH". I also like how he got some kids to idolize him, as well as how he told Olivia that he would be using Gurdurr to battle instead of Drowzee or Cottonee. He's clearly not a complete villain, but he's more of a grey area, and I like that.

This is exactly what I want to do with him. He's not a bad person, in fact, he might very well be decent. There's just something with Olivia that gets him really, really upset and sends him off the deep end.

He cares for his Pokemon, too, even if he's harsh on them and works them hard. That's born of his circumstances, though - at this point, you should be able to piece together a good explanation for why he must be so self-reliant and keep his Pokemon strong without overworking them.



Something tells me that's going to be brought up later...

It kind of has to.



Also, Renzo's Gurdurr is a BEAST. It reminds me of my first Driftveil Tournament challenge, when my Krokorok completely slaughtered Colress' entire team. It was AWESOME. XD

Just imagine the terror when it evolves into Conkeldurr. I don't even have to worry about spoilers when I say that this is not the last time that thing is going to be a threat.



Ah, now here's what I wanted (but will obviously never get) from Best Wishes: an adaptation of this guy, who happens to be one of the Pokemon franchise's most interesting characters. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get a Plasma arc post-Unova League, but knowing the anime all we'll probably be getting is more TR.

I was playing N's encounter music from BW while I read his dialogue. I have to say that his actions here match very well with the eerie, almost circus-like music theme he had in the original BW.


I personally think an adaptation of B2W2 Team Plasma is coming to fill in the rest of the space in Unova, but that's neither here nor there. It'll at least give us Insane Ghetsis.

You know, I should have tried that. Now that you mention it, his theme song does match up with this all pretty well. I guess that means I did him right?


Hmm...have to wonder if we'll be seeing Renzo for a while, assuming he gets through Dark Cave successfully.

His current subplot is only just getting started. Olivia may not see him for a while, but that doesn't mean that you won't see him.


Gee, I wonder who he could be referring to...?

Not saying anything.



Why couldn't we have had this in the anime? Having Ash on the recieving end of this would have been a thousand times better than watching Jessie and James act out the James Bond movies!


I prefer Bond Rockets, if only for the simple fact that I trust myself to handle N more than I trust the anime's writers to handle him.

But anyway, you've got it now with this cast of characters instead, so I hope it's a fair substitute. I'm also able to take him in directions no canon material ever could, as you've already seen.



On a more positive note, Nekou's responses to Mr. Pokemon's treatment of her were quite fun. Olivia's wondering at N's name was amusing, as well.

When you have Olivia and Nekou snarking things, I don't see how you can go wrong.

Seems like Mr. Pokemon was quite a popular character despite his minor role. Maybe I'll use him again.



I can easily picture a Bisharp doing this, even if it isn't with a group of Pawniard.

I... didn't even do this deliberately, believe it or not. I only had it assume the leadership role because Bisharp is the signature Pokemon of the collective Shadow Triad (by the last time they're fought, there is a total of six Bisharp between them, two for each one.) I never even realized that I was essentially showing a Bisharp adapted from the leadership role seen earlier with the Pawniard into a role leading other Pokemon.



Dang...Chaos was giving Matt and co. so much trouble, and yet Dante just wipes the floor with him. Have to wonder what other secrets he's hiding...

Well, he did also catch Chaos completely off-guard, just as Chaos had himself caught Matt's group earlier. Dante had a chance to see exactly how he wanted his attack to play out before he made his move.

Also, if Haxorus didn't have Counter, he would have been stopped cold by Bisharp.



The Rocket VS Polaris scene was actually pretty good. After a long time of seeing the trio as goofs, it was refreshing to see them acting comptetantly. Kudos to Jessie for the Destiny Bond trick, although Meowth being mind-controlled is something of a problem. Might be a while before that gets resolved...

It was refreshing to write them as humorous but competent, too. I really feel like my concept of how they should be depicted came into its own in this chapter.

As for the fight itself, once again, one side really had no chance because they were not prepared for the confrontation. If Chaos hadn't forced their hand, they probably never would have gotten involved with Mercury in the first place. Once they were put against Mercury they were in a hopeless situation, because as you saw, she was carrying reserves to back up Electivire.

Meowth, on the other hand, pretty much had his mind turned inside out by the Meteonite's power through no direct fault of anyone. Of course, that's not going to stop Mercury from taking advantage of his reversed mentality to get him to change sides. And yeah, this isn't going to be resolved immediately.


Well, with "Nikolai" poisoned and with the team in disarray, the action is definitely starting to pick up. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Yeah, things are going to really pick up from here. You should be in for quite the ride.

Scaldaver
30th November 2012, 10:56 PM
Well, you asked for me to review and to review I shall. However, it must only be brief as my studying is really hot on my tails.

So far I've finished chapter three, and, just by the stories told by Matt, it's clear there's a much more in-depth world to which I have just seen. Encounters with a golden city, Heatran, Dialga, a split personality named Janus, presumably after the Greek God of choice with two heads. Oh, and the main character is Cybernetic. Looks like you've got the whole shebang here!

My favourite bit of this chapter is the emotionally and action-charged bit with the Pawniard - they make the Beedrill that plagued ash throughout Kanto look tame! Seriously, surely there should be some for of global pest-control about these guys. Sheesh.

The moment with Olivia falling off the cliff is absolutely masterful - you manage to completely sop the pace and literally slow everything down. It was a joy to read.

Just a quick question from a chemistry nerd - this new Element - Meteonite. It seems to play a large part of the story, so what I want to know is this: any more elements in the periodic table would have extremely short half-lives, so how does it stay working. Of course, the radiation given off a new element such as this would be phenomenal - a great source of energy indeed! Are you going to implement some sort of quality to the element to make it seem more likely to stay around forever (Poke/Magic stuff or whatever)? Of course I'm probably looking waaaay too much into this and you are free to ignore me ^^

Oh, and just something I noted from chapter 2:


“Stalking that boy you’re infatuated with on the Internet does not count as ‘busy,’ Séduire,”

'busy', - the comma and apostrophe are the wrong way round.

I must say, I also enjoy your battles - they seems very in-depth and thoughtful. The ways moves are used are described brilliantly and are very creative.

The Great Butler
14th December 2012, 10:26 AM
Well, you asked for me to review and to review I shall. However, it must only be brief as my studying is really hot on my tails.

That's okay. I'm glad you shared even a bit of time with me.


So far I've finished chapter three, and, just by the stories told by Matt, it's clear there's a much more in-depth world to which I have just seen. Encounters with a golden city, Heatran, Dialga, a split personality named Janus, presumably after the Greek God of choice with two heads. Oh, and the main character is Cybernetic. Looks like you've got the whole shebang here!

Yes, there certainly is quite a bit of backstory, isn't there? I hope I conveyed it all effectively.

I want to create a world on a bigger scale than just the basic adventure the four main characters are going on, in which events are bigger than them. I think you'll see this take shape going forward.


My favourite bit of this chapter is the emotionally and action-charged bit with the Pawniard - they make the Beedrill that plagued ash throughout Kanto look tame! Seriously, surely there should be some for of global pest-control about these guys. Sheesh.

What you raise gives me an interesting thought: what would happen if the Beedrill, who are indigenous to Johto and Kanto, fought the Pawniard that were migrated from Unova, who would win? I might actually decide to do something with this...

There's a little more to the Pawniard and their Bisharp leader than what you see now.


The moment with Olivia falling off the cliff is absolutely masterful - you manage to completely sop the pace and literally slow everything down. It was a joy to read.

That was something vital for that scene - in order for the full impact of the events to hit the reader, you have to put them in the shoes of someone in the scene, and I would imagine that for Matt, time would feel like it stopped as he watched her go over the cliff. Doing that also helped me play into the next event, where he snaps and goes all out to defeat Bisharp immediately, because the whiplash between a fast-paced confrontation, a slow event and back to fast-paced helps make it exciting.


Just a quick question from a chemistry nerd - this new Element - Meteonite. It seems to play a large part of the story, so what I want to know is this: any more elements in the periodic table would have extremely short half-lives, so how does it stay working. Of course, the radiation given off a new element such as this would be phenomenal - a great source of energy indeed! Are you going to implement some sort of quality to the element to make it seem more likely to stay around forever (Poke/Magic stuff or whatever)? Of course I'm probably looking waaaay too much into this and you are free to ignore me ^^

I wouldn't think of ignoring anyone, especially someone who takes enough care to give thoughts like this. ^^

Honestly, many of those details are mostly just going to be handwaved as "lol, Pokemon world physics." Although, if you wish to have some explanation, I suppose I can offer the detail that Meteonite reacts to itself; essentially, having some of it can "activate" larger dormant amounts once the two become in proximity to each other, almost like recharging a battery. However. it's unstable and needs to be handled carefully, which is something you'll see in a more recent chapter.


Oh, and just something I noted from chapter 2:



'busy', - the comma and apostrophe are the wrong way round.

Noted.


I must say, I also enjoy your battles - they seems very in-depth and thoughtful. The ways moves are used are described brilliantly and are very creative.

Thank you for this. My aim here is to take the mechanics the games are capable of and display them in a "visual" style like the anime.

Thank you for your kind review, and I certainly do hope to see you again soon!

The Great Butler
16th December 2012, 6:30 AM
Okay, good news, bad news time.

The good news is that the chapter is nearing completion and will likely be done within this week.

The bad news is something that is beyond my control.

I plan out my chapters before I begin writing them now, therefore, the plan for this has been on paper for some time. Yesterday's horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut has rendered me unable to release the chapter with a clear conscience right away. This is because the chapter was planned from the start to feature a vital scene at Earl's Pokemon Academy that involves the students being threatened; because of the terrible real-life circumstances going on right now, I cannot feel that it is appropriate to release this chapter at this time.

Currently, my plan is to hold the chapter back and release it as a double-bill with the chapter after it. This will give me a few weeks to a month of buffer space, at which point I feel it will be acceptable to put the chapter out.

In order to tide everyone over until then, I'm going to go ahead and post a brief summary and character list for the chapter under a spoiler. Please feel free to speculate in any way you wish using this information; in fact, I encourage it. This is under a spoiler because there is, in fact, previously never-before-known information and characters in it.


"Flying Toward an Unseeable Future"

Summary: While Nikolai recovers from the effects of the genetic suppressant used on him by Chaos, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny meet up again with Dominic. They may think that things will be peaceful as they visit Dominic's children - Avril, Helena and Monroe - at Earl's Pokemon Academy, but with Nikolai still in his sights, Ghetsis's plans are closing in...


Character List*:
*Presence on this list does not necessarily mean screen presence

-Matt Chiaki
-Nekou Langley
-Olivia Mistbloom
-Bunny Spruce
-Nikolai
-Dr. Zager
-Pierce
-Jessie
-James
-Meowth
-Ariana
-Ghetsis Harmonia
-Chaos
-Concordia
-Anthea
-Zinzolin
-Finansielle
-Mercury
-Séduire
-Dr. Colress Antimony
-Dominic
-Avril
-Helena
-Monroe
-Earl Dervish
-Amanda Chiaki
-Nurse
-Anchorman
-Reporter
-Ruins of Alph Researcher
-Protesters
-Students
-Dr. Sutter Chiaki
-Jacob Alexison
-Tenganist people
-Saeko Oryo

The Great Butler
30th December 2012, 8:08 AM
Well, here it is. This is the chapter that had to be delayed because of the Connecticut school shooting. As I’ve alluded to, this chapter contains a scene of conflict at a school with students in danger, which may in these difficult times be triggering to some people. I've decided after talking to some of my readers that enough time has passed, so I'm releasing it now. Please try to enjoy the chapter despite the terrible circumstances marring it.

Jacob Alexison appears from Nothing, Everything by Bay, with the original author’s permission.

-:-

CHAPTER 7: Flying to an Unseeable Future

-:-

The low hum of his many machines provided a constant source of quiet sound in Dr. Zager’s laboratory. Having used many such devices for decades, he found that he had grown to be comforted by their soft noises. His mind was soothed by the unceasing din.

While Galvantula sat nearby gorging herself on a plate of berries Zager had given her, the doctor himself sat at his computer console, casually clicking through a message board website sporting blue message bubbles against a black background. The red script at the site’s top identified it as ‘RChannel.’

“How dull,” Zager said to himself as he absentmindedly scanned past multiple post threads. Many threads on RChannel talked about Pokémon training and collecting, but there were a vast number that focused on other things, ranging from discussion of television programs to bizarre posts such as a recently popular urban legend about an Aerodactyl in a graveyard.

However, the RChannel website had another purpose. While available to the general public as a message board, the site was actually created and run by Team Rocket; its creator had used the ridiculous but somehow correct logic that an uncontrolled forum would be the perfect cover for exchanging information and intelligence between members via the Internet. That was what Zager was scanning the site for – intelligence – and soon, he finally found it.

The thread’s first post, instead of being in a blue bubble, was contained within a red one; this was due to it being posted by “Admin,” the creator of RChannel.

“There is something I do not understand,” the post read. “Ghetsis Harmonia is a member of Polaris. That is something that anyone who watches television knows. But, he is not the only one from Team Plasma to be connected to Polaris. I saw a member of the Shadow Triad on Route 30 today. Not only that, King N of Team Plasma was there too. So what is going on? What is the true connection between Team Plasma and Polaris?”

“Holy ****, it’s Admin!” the next post, by ‘Slowpoke Tail,’ said. “And she’s got another crazy conspiracy theory!”

“Posting in epic mod thread,” added an anonymous poster.

“Hey Admin, Asuka or Rei?”

The fourth reply was by the username ‘Sam’ – Pierce’s alias – and was the first to take the topic seriously. “That is an excellent question, Admin. I do not know all of the details of Team Plasma’s relationship with Polaris, but I’ve determined that Ghetsis was likely always working on behalf of Polaris. If he was ever loyal is another question entirely. I’ll do more studying and get back to you.”

“That’s a good idea,” Zager spoke out loud to the screen, as if he were speaking directly to Pierce. “To defeat an enemy, you must first understand them.”

-:-

A somber tone hung over the group’s rented room at Violet City’s Pokémon Center. Bunny and Olivia sat and listlessly stared at the television in the room, which was playing a news report on several recent Pokémon Contests, while Nekou sat on her bed and quietly worked on her laptop with the headphones for her music player planted firmly in her ears.

The heavy, aged wooden door of the room produced a loud creak as Matt slowly entered. Almost immediately, Bunny began asking him questions.

“Well?” She wanted to address the subject that was weighing on all of their minds right away. “How is he?”

Feeling utterly exhausted, Matt took his hat off and threw it onto one of the beds, then ran his hand through his hair. “He’ll live, but he got messed up pretty bad. The dart that that ninja hit him with was tipped with a poison that caused his body to go into shock.”

“That guy was scary,” Olivia mumbled into the pillow she was embracing, which muffled her voice. “We’re going to be dealing with a lot like him, aren’t we?”

“We’ll beat them, I’m sure,” Matt immediately answered, though he was forced to quietly add, “but you’re right, there probably will be…”

“In other news, we will now go to a new address delivered by the spokesman for the Polaris organization.”

The pending speech seemed to be timed perfectly to match up with what Matt said, and as they focused on the television, their nerves each tightened to the breaking point. By the time Ghetsis appeared on the screen, Nekou had even taken out her headphones and folded the screen of her laptop down, turning it into a tablet computer.

“People of the Tohjo Continent, I bid you good evening. Tonight I am here to speak to you about traditions. What exactly is tradition, would you say? It is called a tradition for children to be sent out into the world and compete against each other for supremacy. With how long that tradition has stood, should we accept it?” Despite delivering the first part of his address calmly, Ghetsis was soon overcome by his characteristic intensity. “No! We should not accept such a thing! We are a species capable of building a civilized society! Or, at least I thought we were. That we call the practice of sending young people into a lifestyle offering most of them no future just so we can watch their suffering a ‘tradition’ speaks to how far we have to go to truly reach civilization. That is why I call upon you all, people of this nation! Polaris shall perform a miracle to prove the validity of our drive toward true civilization! Please, support us in our endeavor! With your help, a hopeful future is ensured! Thank you for your time tonight.”

“Do you think he even knows how much of a madman he sounds like?” Bunny wondered of Ghetsis.

“That’s not even a question. Ghetsis is a man who is fully aware of his own actions, and he delights in what he does to others.”

Nekou’s words didn’t soothe Olivia, who was further shaken after listening to the thundering speech. “What if he has a point, though?” she grumbled into her pillow. “Look what happened to Nikolai, and all he did was help us. Not only him, either. What about Renzo? There really might be something to what he says... I’m scared…”

“Olivia, you can’t think like that.” Matt tried to put on a strong face, masking his own unsettled emotions over the recent events. “Look, tomorrow you’re going for your first Badge, right? Focus on that. You finally made it to your first Gym.”

“Matt’s saying something smart this time,” Nekou added, putting some sarcasm in her words to lighten things up a bit. “I can tell you that Ghetsis is not a man worth listening to. I disgust myself even using the word ‘man’ to refer to a piece of **** like him.”

Olivia sighed and rolled over onto her side. “Maybe I’m just tired, then. Thanks for talking to me, but I want to go to bed.”

-:-

By the next day, things had brightened considerably for the group. A good night’s sleep turned out to do wonders for easing their minds after the previous day’s confrontations. They felt especially better when, once they’d all awoken, Matt went to check on Nikolai only to learn that he was rapidly recovering.

“That sure is a relief to know,” Matt said to his companions as they made their way into the lobby of the Pokémon Center. “After how bad a shape he was in last night, to see that he’s recovering quickly is great news.”

“I wonder what that toxin actually was…” Because she was mumbling to herself, Nekou’s musing went unheard.

“So what are we waiting for? Next stop, Violet Gym! It’s time for that first Badge!”

However, Olivia’s loud declaration attracted the attention of the Pokémon Center nurse, who had been standing nearby at her desk. She stepped over to the group and interrupted, “I’m sorry, but I overheard that you want to go to Violet Gym?”

“Yeah, why?” Olivia questioned.

“With our luck, she’s about to say it’s…”

“Sorry, but the Gym is closed right now. Nobody can get to it.”

“…I ****ing knew it,” Nekou finished her thought.

With Olivia unable to speak further due to a mix of surprise and extreme disappointment, Matt instead asked the question on their minds. “But why? Has something happened?”

“Come with me, I’ll show you.”

The nurse stepped out from behind her desk and beckoned the four to follow her, which they did. Together, they went across the lobby, stopping at the lounge area. Once again, many people were gathered around the television there, which Matt quietly noted to himself was becoming a regular occurrence.

On the screen, someone was being interviewed. Both the person taking the interview and the reporter conducting it were standing in front of a large, gray building on a stone road. Around them, a large group of people were gathered, some holding signs.

“So what prompted you to come out today and join the group picketing your hometown Gym?” the reporter asked. Once he was done speaking, he held his microphone up to his female subject.

“Well, the speeches by Polaris have really opened my eyes. I never really considered before just how many people have it bad, even though we all work hard for everything we have. There are those who have it too easy if you ask me, getting Pokémon and medical care for free while others pay for it. I want Falkner to come out here and tell us how he can participate in this. That’s why I’m here.”

Immediately upon the young woman finishing speaking, the screen shifted back to the news anchor at his desk. “We do not yet have a statement from Violet City Gym Leader Falkner addressing the protests currently taking place outside of his Gym. However, for safety purposes, the Gym has been closed until the tension dissipates.”

“Well that just sucks.”

“Now, Olivia, look at the silver lining,” Bunny encouraged her, “at least this gives you more time to prepare for the battle.”

“Eh… I suppose that’s true.”

“Mister Chiaki? Mister Chiaki, you came to Violet City after all!”

Having just entered the Pokémon Center, Dominic had spotted Matt and his group almost immediately, and now rushed over to meet them with his suitcase still in his hand.

“Oh?” Matt failed to register immediately who he was being approached by, but seeing Dominic’s rumpled suit and tie again quickly rang the bell in his mind. “That’s right, Dominic was it? Sorry I sort of forgot...”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you actually came to Violet City like we arranged!”

Dominic’s overflowing gratitude was a little off-putting to Matt, and even though he didn’t know it, Nekou and Olivia were a little nervous themselves. Bunny was the only one who saw him right away as the overly eager but kindhearted man he truly was.

“You do remember, right? I asked you to meet my kids at Earl’s Pokémon Academy?”

As soon as the memories of his speaking to Dominic in Cherrygrove City resurfaced in full, Matt brought his hand to his forehead in disbelief. He couldn’t understand how he’d forgotten such a simple thing.

“That’s right, I do remember now. Olivia, if I might say… with the Gym closed, going to the Academy might be a productive way to spend the day.”

“It’s better than nothing,” replied the girl, her facial features becoming hardened with determination. “Let’s do it!”

“And don’t forget me,” Nekou chimed in, tossing herself over Matt’s shoulders, much to his visible discomfort. “Remember what I get there. Books. One of my six basic food groups.”

“And what are the other five?”

“Bacon, hamburgers, potato chips, chocolate and beer.”

Matt sighed, quickly realizing that asking Nekou such a question was probably a mistake.

“I’m glad that you’re all on board, then,” Dominic said with a smile. “I think you’ll all enjoy visiting there.”

-:-

“Now this is truly a surprise!” Stepping away from one of the glass-surfaced tables in the laboratory, the mustachioed scientist spread his arms as he welcomed his guests. “To think Father sent us not one but two of the Sacred Helix’s Chromosomes. Today must be an especially important day!”

“Father still hasn’t come back, actually,” Mercury corrected him. “Right now Finansielle is giving directions, and Archer is holding down Father’s seat on the Sacred Helix.”

“I see. Well then, let’s have a look at that stone you brought.”

Standing next to Mercury, Séduire – the Entei-masked Chromosome who wore a school-themed uniform with a skirt and bow tie – wordlessly presented the scientist with the briefcase passed on from Mr. Pokémon. He eagerly accepted it and took it over to one of the tables, where he opened it.

“Be careful with handling the Meteonite,” Mercury warned. “If it destabilizes, you might end up like this.” As she finished speaking, she gestured down to Meowth, who was listlessly standing next to her.

The scientist took a magnifying lens out of the pocket of his brown suit and leaned in to look at the Meteonite. “This is the real deal, alright. It’s beautiful!” Sitting back up, he questioned, “So what’s the next step?”

“That small Meteonite is going to lead us to the large one that crashed here several weeks ago. For that, we’re going to need your maps of the Ruins so we can navigate to the point it shows us.”

“Yeah, that’s going to be a problem,” the scientist responded, frowning. “Something strange has gone on since the Meteonite landed here. It agitated all the Unown, and they used their reality-warping powers to change the structure of the Ruins of Alph. All the maps we had are obsolete now.”

“I guess we’ll be going in blindly, then. Thankfully Meteonite will react to itself, so we can use the small amount we have to track down the payload. We’ve got just the equipment for the job, too.”

“What’s my assignment in all of this?” Séduire piped up for the first time. “Should I stop Matt from bothering you, Mercury?”

“No, I need you and your henchmen with my team. The Ruins of Alph are a lot more vast than one would expect, and they hold untold dangers, especially now that the Unown rearranged everything. You’ll get a chance to see him soon enough.”

“Promise me that. Mercury, promise me I’ll see Matt again soon… I have to save him…”

“Focus on the task at hand, Séduire. Remember that one day we’ll all be saved.”

-:-

Dominic led the way, guiding Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny into the lobby of Earl’s Pokémon Academy. The lobby was cluttered with cases containing medals and photographs belonging to graduates of the school, many of whom had gone on to high-profile careers as trainers.

“This is the premiere facility for Pokémon training education in the Tohjo Continent,” the salesman explained. He gestured to the wall, guiding the others’ eyes to the awards lining it. “You can’t beat this place as a school.”

“I’d beg to differ,” Matt contradicted him. “I spent some time working at the Rustboro School with a very generous research grant.”

“I wasn’t meaning to offend you at all, please forgive me.”

“Is that good old Dominic I hear?” The voice echoing down the hall was loud and rich, giving itself such strength that it shook the walls. A large man in a blue suit came bounding out into the lobby with heavy steps; his boisterous demeanor surprised all of Dominic’s guests. “Welcome back, my dear Dominic! I see you’ve brought guests, just as you said earlier!”

“Well, um… yes, Mr. Dervish, sir. Please…” Dominic turned to the others as he continued, “…allow me to introduce you. This is Matt Chiaki, and…”

“Oh!!” The rotund man charged right past Dominic, effectively silencing him, and got right in Matt’s face. Matt started sweating and his nerves only frayed further when he realized that his hands were being grasped. “Sutter’s grandson! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Earl Dervish, and I’m in charge of this Pokémon academy. It is truly an honor to have the grandson of the world’s most legendary archeologist in my school!”

“It would be nice to get credit for some of the things I’ve done myself once in a while,” Matt nervously chuckled in an awkward attempt to inject humor into the situation.

“But of course.” Turning his attention to Olivia, Nekou and Bunny, who were all standing by in varying degrees of shock and bemusement, Earl asked, “And who might these three be?”

“This is Olivia. She’s my friend’s daughter, and I’m mentoring her. That’s Bunny, my old colleague, and this is my… well, somehow she ended up being my bodyguard, and her name is Nekou.”

“Talk about a spectacle,” Nekou mumbled under her breath.

“Well met, Olivia, Bunny, Nekou. Now, please, all of you, come with me! Dominic, your kids are already waiting for us in my office. They ought to be glad to see your friends. And Matt, fate’s brought you quite a surprise today, too!”

“What are you talking about?”

“You will see, my friend! Onward!”

-:-

Concordia and Anthea screamed as Chaos’s limp body crashed into the forcefield wall of their prison. They’d been snapped out of their usual blank states by the fury Ghetsis had worked himself into.

“You had him right in front of you and YOU LET HIM GO?!” Ghetsis picked Chaos up by the neck again, much like how he had done before throwing him, and slammed him into the barrier a second time. “That warped boy is key to my rise!”

“P-please forgive me, L-Lord Ghetsis…” It was a struggle for Chaos to speak with Ghetsis’s hand around his neck. “I was… ambushed. It would have taken all three of us…”

“I’ll have none of it!”

Whipping around, Ghetsis flung Chaos across the floor, leaving him in a crumpled heap. He then lurched over to the ninja and pinned the white-haired man’s head under the end of his cane.

“Matt Chiaki and his friends… that woman is not natural… I almost had to use the genetic suppressant on her to get her off me…”

“Finally, you say something actually useful,” fumed Ghetsis as he removed his cane from Chaos’s cheek. Moving toward the door, he said out loud without looking over his shoulder, “I’ll have Matt Chiaki dealt with before he ever becomes a problem to me.” He then turned the very top of his cane’s handle to trigger a mechanism inside, and held the knob up near his mouth. “Zinzolin!”

“Lord Ghetsis!” responded a rough, ragged voice from the other end of the communicator.

“Give me an update on the status of the protest.”

“It’s progressing nicely. The people of Violet City have taken your words to heart and are demanding answers from Gym Leader Falkner. He hasn’t come out yet, in fact, his only response has been to shut down the Gym for the day.”

“We’ll worry about him later. Listen, I’ve got a new mission for you. It turns out that our little prince is in the Pokémon Center in Violet City. Before you collect him, though, I want you to find Matt Chiaki and take him out. Do what you must to complete the mission.”

“Consider it done, Lord Ghetsis.”

-:-

Much like the lobby of his school, Earl’s office was a cluttered place. Books and folders were scattered about the office, while still more award certificates lined the walls.

The door of the office groaned heavily as Earl pushed it open to allow himself and his guests inside. Almost immediately, the three students waiting within jumped up, greeting the group as they came in; one of the two girls in the trio had a significantly delayed reaction, as if she failed to notice anything until the others had risen.

“Welcome back, Dad!” the girl who had gotten up immediately exclaimed. “Did you get what you promised us?”

“I always keep my promises, Avril,” Dominic cheerfully replied. “I promised a surprise, and here
he is!”

Realizing after a brief moment that Dominic was referring to him as the surprise, Matt shrugged and sighed, “So you promised them you’d convince me to come here, eh?”

“You all get caught up.” Earl clapped one of his large hands on Matt’s shoulder and the other on Dominic’s, then lumbered over to his desk, which was just as messy as the rest of his office. He pressed the button on the desk’s intercom system and said into it, “Would the teacher of Class 2-A come to my office, please?”

“So these are your kids, then, Dominic?”

“Indeed, Matt, they are. Please, meet Avril, my youngest…” Dominic gestured first to the girl who had verbally greeted him. Like the others, she was wearing a blue-and-black school uniform, and despite being the youngest of Dominic’s three children, she physically looked at least two years older than Olivia.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said to Matt, her voice carrying an innate sound of confidence bordering on arrogance. “Your battle at the Battle Arcade was very entertaining to watch.”

“And this is Monroe, the middle of the three…”

The boy was much more timid in nature than his sister. He made little of an attempt to directly engage Matt or anyone else, merely saying in a shaky voice, “H-Hello.”

“And finally, my oldest, Helena.”

The eldest of the three, Helena, towered over her siblings. She stood calmly by, running her hand through her red hair, not speaking at first.

It was then that Matt finally realized that Monroe was signing rapidly to her, communicating everything going on in a flurry of masterful hand motions.

“She’s deaf?” Bunny spoke, putting words to the feeling of surprise the group of four shared.

“Since birth.”

Each of Helena’s steps was slow and measured, carrying a dignified air. She directly approached Matt and extended a hand to him.

“I am honored to meet you, sir.”

The mere fact that Helena was able to speak was enough shock Matt still, but beyond that, her voice was surprisingly smooth and refined, capturing her ladylike demeanor perfectly. Matt eventually did manage to shake her hand, but his surprise didn’t wear off, and he directed a puzzled gaze over toward Dominic.

Understanding immediately what Matt was confused by, Dominic beckoned him over and quietly explained, “She didn’t want to let her disability stop her from speaking normally, so I got some Psychic-type Pokémon to help me teach her how. It wasn’t easy, and either Avril or Monroe signs for her when they can, but I’m very proud of her and all the work she did to overcome it.”

Meanwhile, while Matt and Dominic were talking, Helena had turned her attention to Nekou. “I like your necklace,” she said, pointing at the piece of jewelry around Nekou’s neck.

“What? Oh, this.” Nekou briefly flinched, but she quickly recovered and lifted the pendant from her chest to show it off. Its gem was in the shape of an eight-pointed star whose upper diagonal points were colored red, lower diagonal points shaded light blue and four straight points hued in dark purple. “It’s very precious to me. I got it in Whitegold City.”

Monroe quickly signed to interpret Nekou’s words for Helena, and once she understood what was said, she smiled warmly. “It’s a Victory Star, then. It’s very pretty.”

Just then, the sound of something tapping against the office’s door interrupted the conversation. Whatever caused the mysterious noise persistently tapped against the door for a few seconds, before abruptly stopping. The handle turned, and the door opened to allow a woman inside. The source of the tapping turned out to be her walking stick, which provided her with the sense of her surroundings that her cloudy eyes could not give her. She had striking blue hair that curled down her back like clouds, and an Arcanine was walking closely by her side for additional support.

“You called me, Earl?”

“Amanda!” Matt instantly gasped, having been overcome by pleasant surprise.

“Big brother!” Amanda’s emotions rose in a very similar fashion. She first sharply turned her head in the direction of Matt’s voice, then rushed in his direction, crashing into him in a reckless attempt at an embrace.

“See? I told you I had a surprise for you!” Earl said jovially. “A reunion of brother and sister!”

“Miss Chiaki is the little sister of Matt Chiaki after all,” Avril said out loud. “Now I believe it.”

“Amanda, you’re a teacher here now?” This question was the only coherent thing that came to Matt’s mind right away. He was so internally consumed by emotions – joy in seeing his sister for the first time in a while, pride in the accomplishments she’d been implied to have made, sadness that she still struggled with her blindness – that he couldn’t put many words to those thoughts.

Separating herself from her brother, Amanda gently shook her head. “Not permanently. I’m just taking some time to do something on my own for a while.”

“But you didn’t tell your students you’re Matt’s sister?” Olivia suddenly piped up.

“Huh?” Amanda turned her head in confusion, trying to perceive where the voice was coming from. “Olivia?”

“Yeah, it’s me. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

“Several years now,” Amanda replied with a smile. “Anyway, I didn’t tell Avril and my other students about my brother because I didn’t want to live in his shadow. I wanted them to look up to me because they wanted to, not because of who my brother is.”

“Aw, come on, Amanda, don’t give me that much credit,” Matt chuckled in an attempt to sound humble. “All of us know you’re far more skilled as a trainer than I am.”

“You know what would be inspiring to my students? Let’s you and I show them a battle between the two of us! You really are better than you give yourself credit for!”

“That’s a great idea!” Earl quickly interrupted. “I’ll run ahead and get everything set in the outdoor battlefield!”

Bounding across the office, Earl was gone in a flash, leaving a mass of exasperation in his wake. Even Dominic found himself a bit stunned at the headmaster’s enthusiasm.

“I guess my answer is yes,” Matt sighed. “It doesn’t matter, though. I was going to say yes anyway.”

“Matt, you don’t stand a chance. Not even my dad could beat Amanda, remember?”

Closing his eyes, Matt thought back to five years earlier. Back then, Amanda had been the champion of a regional competition, and Olivia’s father Rich earned the chance to battle her. He failed completely against Amanda, however, at least in no small part because of her tactics throwing him off. She had in her team of Pokémon a Zoroark, a Pokémon with powers of illusion. Those powers made it possible for her to disguise the Dark-type Zoroark as a Hariyama, which drew Rich into attempting repeatedly to damage what he believed was a Fighting-type Pokémon. Amanda ended up winning the match without losing a single one of her Pokémon.

“Well, at least this time I know she has Zoroark,” he finally said, slowly reopening his eyes. “Rich had no idea what he was up against.”

“Wait, before we go…” Dominic spoke up, “would you be willing to see the Pokémon my kids have as well?”

“I would like to,” answered Olivia. “Matt, hold up.”

“I see someone hasn’t changed much,” Amanda said, smiling once again. “Avril, Monroe and Helena have some interesting Pokémon. I think you’ll like them.”

“May I go first?” Helena volunteered, having stayed fully updated on the situation through Monroe’s signing. “Klink, come out!”

Helena took the single Poké Ball she possessed from her waist and opened it, producing a burst of energy. The Pokémon it turned into had the form of two interlocking silver gears with six teeth and a simple face on each gear.

“It looks familiar, but not exactly like what I remember…” Olivia commented as she took out her Pokédex.

“Klink, the Gear Pokémon. Type is Steel. Two bodies comprise a fixed pair. They spin around each other to generate energy.”

“I know, it’s a previous evolution of Klinklang,” Bunny guessed.

“That’s correct!” Helena confirmed once she was aware of what Bunny had said. “Do you like my Klink? It’s been my friend for a long time now.”

“It’s cute, and it should be strong once it evolves. I’d like to battle you later on.”

“I’ll look forward to that day, Olivia.”

“I… guess I’m next.” Monroe’s manner continued to be as timid as ever, even as he opened up his own Poké Ball. “Vanillite, I ask you to come out.”

Whereas Klink was fairly straightforward in appearance, Monroe’s Vanillite was more unusual, appearing to be a small ice cream cone with a wide-eyed, smiling face on top of a body made of ice and snow.

“Vanillite, the Fresh Snow Pokémon. Type is Ice. Theoretically, this Pokémon formed from icicles bathed in energy from the morning sun. Their breath is -58° F.”

Another difference between Vanillite and Klink was that Vanillite was a lot more outgoing, floating right up to Olivia and laughing.

“Aren’t you a cute one?” she said to the Ice-type, laughing along with her. “I just love you!”

“Thank you…”

Avril scoffed at the praise Olivia was heaping upon her brother. “If you think that thing is a good Pokémon, wait until you put your eyes on what I’ve got. Servine, go!”

Much like his trainer, the green, vaguely serpentine Pokémon that emerged from Avril’s Poké Ball had a haughty, arrogant air about himself. Balancing on tiny legs, he stretched his body to its full height and cast a scornful look downward upon Klink and Vanillite.

“Servine, the Grass Snake Pokémon. Type is Grass. Evolved form of Snivy, When it gets dirty, its leaves can't be used in photosynthesis, so it always keeps itself clean.”

“Wait a minute…” Remembering something, Olivia hesitated. “Snivy was one of the three Pokémon Professor Juniper said she could offer me, but it specifically was missing. Are you the one who got Snivy?”

“The one and only.” Putting her hands on her hips, Avril leaned forward and smugly asked, “Did you get stuck with one of those inferior ones that were left?”

“He is not inferior!”

“Then let’s see him.”

Without a second thought, Olivia pressed the button to open Oshawott’s Poké Ball. He materialized looking sleepy and still missing his shell, prompting both Avril and her Servine to laugh.

“Wow, you didn’t even take the good one,” she taunted, “but then again, someone who’s childish in both body and spirit taking a childish Pokémon makes sense!”

“Avril!” Dominic snapped, showing a seriousness that he hadn’t before. “Behave yourself!”

“Fine, fine. But let me ask one thing. What happened to its shell?”

“It got broken in a battle with a Gurdurr yesterday.”

Avril managed to suppress another outburst of laughing into little more than a snicker, and she walked toward the door with Servine. “You better pay attention outside and learn something, because you’re gonna need it.”

With that, Avril and Servine left Earl’s office, letting the door slam behind them as they departed. Their sudden exit left Olivia seething in silence over the flood of condescending insults she’d just faced.

“Please, accept my apologies,” Dominic hurriedly said as he too went for the door. “I’ll deal with her.”

“Is she always like this?” Matt questioned once Dominic was out the door.

“It wouldn’t be proper of me to discuss that in front of so many people,” Amanda replied.

“Oh, well, I understand. Let’s just go meet up with Earl then.”

As the remaining group headed out, Monroe approached Olivia. “I’m sorry about my sister. She gets really mean a lot.”

“Yeah, I figured.” Though she initially didn’t look at him, Olivia did eventually turn to Monroe. “Thanks for that.”

-:-

Outside, next to the school building, there was a small battlefield, flanked by a three-tiered bleacher structure. The children comprising Amanda’s class filled said bleachers; Avril, Helena and Monroe were all sitting together in the front row, with Klink, Vanillite and Servine nearby, while Olivia, Nekou and Bunny were nearby.

Matt and Amanda, meanwhile, each stood in squares on opposing sides of a battlefield etched in white paint on the grass. Having taken on the role of referee for the match, Dominic positioned himself at a point near the middle of the battleground, while Earl stood, arms crossed, next to the students in the stands.

“This battle will be between Pokémon Academy instructor Amanda and her challenger, Matt!” Dominic announced to the onlookers. “It will be a full six-on-six Double Battle that ends when all of one side’s Pokémon have fainted. Begin!”

“I’ll take the lead!” Amanda forcefully declared, shedding her quiet demeanor from earlier. “Big brother, see if you can keep up with me! Hariyama, Arcanine, come into the light!”

Amanda, despite her inability to see, had no difficulty taking two Poké Balls from the waist of her gray suit and throwing them. Two large-bodied Pokémon, Hariyama and Arcanine, appeared from them and landed, crashing their immense weight into the ground. Hariyama growled and struck a pose to show off his readiness for battle, and Arcanine simply howled. Both had an air of great discipline.

“Boy, Amanda, you sure aren’t going easy on me, are you?”

“Of course not, so don’t you go easy on me either!”

Matt took a step back. In the very back of his head, behind how much he admired Amanda’s courageous attitude, he actually felt somewhat intimidated by having to face her.

“F-fine, I won’t go easy at all!” he sputtered, throwing out a regular Poké Ball alongside a Dusk Ball. “Hethna and Tanya, make your mark!”

Two more large, heavy Pokémon – Matt’s Golurk and Heatran – entered the battle to oppose Amanda’s pair. Both of them appreciated their opponents on equal footing with themselves, although Hethna – whom Matt had only recently captured, and thus did not know Amanda or her Pokémon – immediately was overcome with an instinct to defend its trainer and allies from what it perceived as threats.

The students in the stands started cheering and talking excitedly over the Pokémon they were seeing, especially Heatran, a minor Legendary Pokémon. From his vantage point next to the bleachers, Earl found himself lost in thought.

“If he were still with us, Sutter would be proud. His grandkids are sure putting on a hell of a show for these kids.”

“Arcanine, Close Combat!”

Before Matt could react, Amanda’s Arcanine was on top of Tanya, striking her with a flurry of vicious blows. Each hit was fueled by the powerful muscles in Arcanine’s legs, lending the assault enough strength to not only shove the nearly half-ton Heatran back significantly, but to also break chips out of her steel armor. All of this came at the price of leaving Arcanine worn out and panting for air, his body weakened against any potential counterattacks.

“Tanya, hold steady!” Having his Heatran put on the defensive so quickly was not the scenario Matt had envisioned at the start of the battle.

“Are you already beaten, big brother?” Amanda taunted him, albeit in her usual endearing way. “Don’t tell me it’s over already!”

“It’s nowhere near over, Amanda. Try this on for size! Tanya, target Arcanine with Earth Power! Hethna, get Hariyama with Shadow Punch!”

“Hurry, Hariyama, use Role Play on Hethna!”

Orange light radiated from Tanya’s feet, indicative of the energy that soon surged through the ground and exploded beneath Arcanine, cracking the earth and pitching the imposing Fire-type onto his side.

Amanda could perceive her Pokémon’s injury even without seeing it by the howl of pain he let out. “Arcanine, hold firm...” she whispered.

Meanwhile, Hariyama extended one of his arms in Hethna’s direction and briefly became enveloped in a Golurk-shaped shadow. The real Golurk struck Hariyama cleanly in the stomach with a blast of shadow shaped like a clenched fist that came from its own arm.

“Hm,” Matt grunted, calculating exactly what Amanda was planning. As soon as he realized what she had just done, his mind and heart began to race. “Hurry, both of you!” he called out, gesturing wildly all the while. “Stop Hariyama with Flash Cannon and Shadow Punch!”

“Big brother, don’t underestimate me for even a moment!” Amanda shouted while tightening her grip on her walking stick. “Arcanine, strike Hethna with Flare Blitz! Hariyama, take Tanya head-on with DynamicPunch!”

All four Pokémon made their moves nearly simultaneously as chaos broke out on the battlefield. Amanda’s Arcanine was the first to land a blow, roaring through the clash in a veil of fire to collide with Hethna, knocking the Golurk onto its back and inadvertently dissipating its Shadow Punch.

While Arcanine collapsed onto Hethna, Tanya managed to take aim at Hariyama and launch a wide beam of bright, shining silver light. Hariyama was undeterred by any possible danger this presented, however, and simply charged right into it with his right arm pulled back. Slowly but surely, he pushed through the continuing assault of Tanya’s Flash Cannon, and once she was within his reach, he swung with all his might.

The resulting collision of Hariyama’s fist with Tanya’s face caused a loud, echoing metallic sound to ring through the area. Despite her immense weight, Tanya ended up getting flung through the air like a ragdoll, ultimately crashing into and crushing a nearby tree. She slumped down onto the ground and stopped moving.

The Great Butler
30th December 2012, 8:09 AM
“Heatran is unable to continue battling!” Dominic announced, his voice somewhat drowned out by the excited chatter of the students behind him.

“Amanda just tossed aside a Legendary Pokémon like that...” Bunny said in awe. “She really is strong…”

“I wonder how she got to be so much more powerful than Matt is,” Nekou scoffed, taking a bite out of the frosted croissant in her hand.

“Well, I do think he’s doing a little better than my dad did against her,” Olivia offered in Matt’s defense.

“Tanya, return!” As Matt sent Tanya back inside her Dusk Ball and returned the sphere to his bag, Hethna rose back to its feet, its chest covered with a large burn mark. “Amanda, that was… really something. You figured out that Hethna’s ability is Iron Fist?”

“I had a hunch. I knew that if I copied Hethna’s ability and it turned out to be Iron Fist, defeating Tanya would be no big deal at all.”

“I shouldn’t have put it past you,” he said, smiling. Having come to view Amanda as a true opponent and not just his sister, Matt narrowed his focus off of the spectators and resolved to at least give her a challenge.

Before he could throw the Poké Ball he’d selected, Matt found himself overcome by a sudden blast of cold air. His body immediately began to spasm.

“Wh...what…”

“What’s goi…”

Running with only her sight, Helena had already traced the source of the disruption. She pointed into the air and unwittingly interrupted Bunny by yelling, “Up there!”

“****!” Nekou spat once she saw the blue blur in the sky above Matt. “Get out of there!”

As Matt was unable to move due to the cold, Nekou sprinted in and dragged him off to the bleachers, where Bunny and Olivia immediately clustered around him. Dominic, meanwhile, climbed to shield his three children in the stands themselves.

Amanda, meanwhile, was lost. Without her ability to see what was going on, she was completely in the dark, as all she could hear was the increasingly loud confusion of her students. “Big brother!” she called out, “what’s going on? Earl?!”

“Amanda, shield yourself!” was all Earl could shout back.

The blur had since stopped spinning, revealing itself as a hexagonal snowflake Pokémon with a body of reflective blue ice. Two glowing eyes peered out from inside its body, and chains of ice crystals hung from its mouth.

“Cryo-gonal!” it cried in a voice that sounded as if it were electronically distorted. Setting its eyes on Amanda, the Cryogonal took a deep breath and expelled another gust of icy air. However, Arcanine, Hariyama and Hethna all jumped into action, leaping between Amanda and Cryogonal to protect her from the Frost Breath attack.

Once she appeared safe, Earl hurried to Amanda’s side. The students in the stands by this point had all seen Cryogonal and were rapidly becoming more and more unsettled.

“What…?” Matt groaned as he gradually came to. “Where’d that cold air come from?”

“That Cryogonal,” Olivia pointed out, breaking from the circle surrounding Matt so she could point to the floating Ice-type Pokémon. “It looks different than the one we saw before, though…”

“What’s a wild Cryogonal doing here?” Monroe asked Avril, before signing the same question to Helena.

“I don’t think that’s a wild Cryogonal,” Avril replied almost immediately, pointing off in the direction where the Cryogonal had seemingly come from.

Having breached the fence on the edge of the school’s property, the crowd of protesters who had been picketing Violet Gym earlier in the day advanced toward the battlefield. Leading them was a stout, elderly man wrapped in a thick purple coat whose heavy boots left deep footprints behind in the ground. At his side walked a Jynx and a Weavile, and Cryogonal soon joined them.

“Zinzolin…” Nekou quietly seethed, her voice not rising above a whisper.

“H-huh?” Matt’s shivering was slowly subsiding, but he was still far from well.

“He’s another of Ghetsis’s goons.” Standing, Nekou stared at Zinzolin and angrily added, “These ****ing guys keep coming, and they’re clearly involved with Polaris...”

Zinzolin stopped his advance once he was nearly on the battlefield and turned around. In his thickly-gloved hand, he had a megaphone that he raised to his mouth. “Halt!”

The somewhat-civil mob of protesters following him heeded his order and stopped as well. They continued making a significant amount of noise with their attempts to shout over each other, but they remained more or less in line.

“Before you stands a symbol of the system that has so corrupted our way of life,” Zinzolin explained to the protesters through his megaphone. “Earl’s Pokémon Academy… it is merely a factory to which we supply the raw materials of our children and they are manufactured into the next generation of believers in the ideal of becoming Pokémon masters! Consider how many of them fall by the wayside, forever struggling in the wilderness if they’re even lucky enough to survive... that a place like this would even exist to introduce our children into such a system is preposterous!”

While he was not quite as eloquent as Ghetsis, Zinzolin more than held his own as a speaker. His words held the attention of the protesters, whose internal discussion grew in volume as Zinzolin turned slowly to face Matt and the others.

“And look who is pushing these ideas into innocent young minds… two people who have so little regard for the divine grace of life that they have fouled their bodies using modifications of modern technology. Indeed, Matt and Amanda Chiaki have strad