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Thread: Shattered Phoenix [PG-13]

  1. #1
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    Default Shattered Phoenix [PG-13]

    Chapter List:
    Prologue
    Chapter One
    Chapter Two (part 1) Chapter Two (part 2)

    PM List:
    elyvorg
    Maze
    harryheart

    Comment to be added to the PM list.

    This is my first fanfiction so any advice would be appreciated.

    ---------

    My hands burn and my head rushes. Everything is too hot. The woman is screaming, too loud, too bright, too strong, and someone is coming, too fast, too angry, too late.

    I run, trees whir past. I need to go home. I cannot go home. He is dead. I am dead.

    The screaming stops. She is dead too.


    My name is Nina and for the past two months I have been having bad dreams.

    I can smell it. I can smell the blood and it is strong, stronger than any I have smelt before. That was always piddling amounts, scrapes and scars and whisker-thin scratches that melt away under kisses and a gentle smile.

    But that is a life I can never go back to. The blood will always be strong now. It will be strong or it will be my own.


    They started, funnily enough, when I woke up. I woke up from a coma that had kept me lifeless for over five years. All my friends and family died in that time, in fires and raids started by a “Team Galactic” that were set up as I slept, but Marcus is still here, like he’s always been.

    The man, the man is angry now. He screams and screams and it’s too loud, too much. A rock hurtles past my shoulder and I bolt, through more trees and bushes, thorns at my sides and his angry, stomping footfalls at my heels.

    Marcus is good to me; I’m really lucky to have him. He’s always looking out for me and helping me, like today, when he’s giving me my first pokémon. He didn’t want to at first, he said I wouldn’t be safe, but now that his work with that laboratory in Veilstone is done and he has nothing to do, he’s warmed to the idea. He says we can travel round together, training up our pokemon, as a kind of pre-honeymoon before the wedding.

    We’ve been planning our marriage since before the accident. We’re getting married in... well, I don’t know really. As I said, we want to train up our pokemon first and Marcus really doesn’t like the idea of getting married now, when Team Galactic is on the loose and so dangerous. He says a large number of people at one wedding would attract trouble and, besides, everyone would be nervous. We want our wedding to be a happy occasion.

    The old baggage down the road says I’m too young to be married but I don’t really care what she thinks. Eighteen is a fine age, I’m practically an adult! Though, I suppose I’m not eighteen really. I mean, I’m twenty three technically.

    I’ve never felt like it, though, never ever.

    “Honey, come on. I’ve got something for you!”
    Last edited by Chickorita; 30th December 2010 at 5:45 PM.

  2. #2
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    You've got a nice start here. A really nice start. I was nervous coming into this, mostly because I hardly review anything by new writers, but I'm surprised to say that I'm happy I chose to read this.

    The beginning started out omnious and slightly tacky, but your description and use of words/sentence structure improved its quality. I assumed that the chapter would be completely bloody and filled with depressing moments where you try to write a horror scene, but the mentioning of the wedding seemed to make everything slightly uplifting. It's good that you made Team Galactic be more of a popular threat rather than an organization that basically runs Sinnoh; I probably would've stopped if you did that.

    Grammr-wise you're fine, there were only two things I found wrong:

    I can smell the blood and it is strong, stronger than any I have smelt before.
    Smelled, 'smelt' sounds weird, and I highly doubt it's correct.

    I mean, I’m twenty three technically.
    Twenty-three, all numbers like that hae a hyphen in them.

    Good work on you first chapter. I'll probably be back when the next one is up to see if you improved at all ;D


    BA~

  3. #3
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    I really liked this actually, I'm actually going to read this and I never, EVER read Sinnoh fics.

    A couple of things I liked:
    1. The sentence structure at the beginning, I particularly picked up on that.
    2. Galactic is actually being evil, sometimes such teams are represented as bumbling idiots that won't harm you.
    3. That there is already a good backstory to this fic that we pick up on.

    Overall, I think this did a good job as a Prologue, it certainly made me want to read more.

    And one thing to the above reviewer:
    Smelled, 'smelt' sounds weird, and I highly doubt it's correct
    .
    'Smelt' is most certainly correct and much better in every way to 'smelled' IMO.

    ^ My fic. Banner made by the beautiful and talented wolfgang.amadeus

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buraddo_Aipom View Post
    Smelled, 'smelt' sounds weird, and I highly doubt it's correct.

    Twenty-three, all numbers like that hae a hyphen in them.

    Good work on you first chapter. I'll probably be back when the next one is up to see if you improved at all ;D

    BA~
    Actually, smelt is British English.

    But thanks for the thing about twenty-three, I will keep that in mind.

  5. #5
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    It's interesting, but I think it should have been longer. I am interested in knowing what shall happen next.
    The Sinnoh Chronicles

    A New Kind of Pokemon Fanfiction.

  6. #6
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    Default Chapter One

    Thanks to everyone who reviewed and please comment if you want to be added to the PM list. Also, I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter. It really makes me day to hear from people.

    (Oh, and sorry that it's been so long since I last updated. I had writer's block for a while.)

    ******

    It was a beautiful day, with the sun shining and a gentle heat warming the ground, but Nina was already beginning to suspect that it would not be a good one.

    For a start, Marcus was smiling too wide. He almost never smiled that wide. In fact, he only smiled that wide when he knew that whatever he had just done was about to earn him a plate to the face.

    Broken china grin aside, Nina knew she was going to be having a bad day because the pokeball her fiancé had just given her, which was supposed to contain her first ever pokemon, was empty.

    “Is it hiding?” she asked in a voice that suggested that - if it wasn’t hiding – Marcus should be.

    Marcus gulped. “H-honey, the ball is the present. I’ve got some more and a couple of other supplies in there,” he gestured to the shoulder bag that had been dumped unceremoniously on the counter-top and inched his placating smile a bit wider, “You’re going to start out as a trainer tomorrow and, well, you can’t do that without some of these.” He made to pull the ball from her hand and shake it demonstratively, before he saw her expression and decided against it. “Now all we need to do to get you ready is go to the Great Marsh and find you a starter pokemon.”

    That was the second time today he had mentioned this “Great Marsh” and Nina was fully prepared to take it as another piece of evidence towards the conclusion that her day would not be good, on the basis that nothing involving a marsh could merit the prefix of “Great”.

    She glanced briefly at the china cabinet and then decided that the soft approach would be a better idea.

    “But, darling, you’ve got boxes of pokemon. Can’t you just give me one of those as a starter?” She said, pouting a bit for effect. Marcus was already shaking his head.

    “Nini, those pokemon are much too powerful to obey you,” he raised a hand to silence the protest forming on her lips, “And this is your first ever pokemon so you should have a special bond with it. Something that’s been raised by someone else isn’t going to be the same.”

    She pulled out a chair and slumped into it despondently, resting her chin on one hand and fixing him with a disappointed scowl. “It’s not my first pokemon. What about Lucy?”

    The wheezy, greying and abundantly plump skitty that had been snoring on the window sill blinked her eyes open upon hearing her name and made to raise her head, before deciding that the movement required more effort than she was willing to expend and flopping back down again. Marcus looked at her and then fixed Nina with the expression he used when he believed she was being unreasonable.

    “Lucy is a domestic, honey, and this is going to be your first fighting pokemon,” he said finally.

    “Lucy is a fighting pokemon!”

    “Lucy is an obese pokemon, Nini. The only way she could possibly win a battle is if she were fighting a cascoon. While it was asleep. And crippled. And even then there’s the possibility that she might hear a loud noise and have a heart attack mid-battle.”

    Nina scowled and folded her arms in front of her, pouting mercilessly. “You are horrible,” she said, “You don’t even want me to be a trainer, you never did, and now you’re trying to make me fail by not giving me any pokemon to start out with. And you’re insulting Lucy,” she turned to the pokemon in question, “He’s horrible, isn’t he?”

    Lucy snored and rolled over in her sleep, an action that took her at least twenty seconds and left some of the more insulated areas of her body still moving after the rest had stopped.

    Marcus sighed, counted to ten under his breath and straightened up, taking the posture he often assumed when he was about to Lay Down The Law.

    “Nina, you are going to catch your own pokemon-”

    “I shouldn’t have to. You said you were going to get me one.”

    “I said I was going to help you get one and that’s what I’m doing. Now come on.”

    Nina, realising he couldn’t be swayed when he was in this kind of mood, sighed to herself, scratched the sleeping skitty behind the ear and dutifully followed her fiancé outside.

    “We’re going to the Great Marsh, alright?” he said, once she had stepped into the bright sunshine with a particularly unsunny expression on her face, “And you’re not even allowed to use your own pokemon in there so nobody has an advantage over you.”

    Nina grumbled half-heartedly and allowed herself to be led through the streets of the city and into a dingy but crowded and official-looking building. Marcus had a quick chat with the receptionist, raising his voice to be heard over the clamour of numerous other excited trainers, and handed over some money in return for a small kit.

    He then gave it to Nina, who peered inside to find some pokeballs and a bag of what looked like the pet treats that she sometimes fed Lucy. The cheerful receptionist leant over the counter to inform Marcus that there were plenty of stones inside.

    “Oh so you’re going to stone me now, are you? Well, I suppose that will be just the perfect end to a terrible day,” she spat.

    She heard Marcus count to ten once more and waited patiently, rocking back on her heels.

    “You are going to go in there,” he said, pointing to a large glass door at the end of the hallway, through which Nina could see what looked like a safari enclosure mixed with a rainforest mixed with a lot of unpleasant-looking gloopy bits, “And catch yourself a starter pokemon. You do that by finding a pokemon and then throwing either the bait,” he rattled the bag of skitty chow, “or a rock and then trying to catch it with a pokeball. The bait makes the pokemon more likely to run away but easier to catch and the rocks make the pokemon less likely to run away but harder to catch. Do you understand?”

    “I’m going to catch a pokemon with rocks,” she said.

    “Yes, dear. And bait and pokeballs.”

    “With rocks.”

    “With rocks,” he said, patting her hand lightly.

    She stared at him.

    “If you like,” he said, cheerfully, “You can also use clumps of mud.”

    She stared some more.

    “And what if I get attacked by a vicious pokemon and die? I suppose you crack out the champagne?” she asked, shifting the small kit bag into the crook of her arms.

    “I will be there to protect you, honey.”

    Nina’s shoulders sagged and she scowled at him a final time. When she could see that he really wasn’t about to let her off the hook, she turned and stomped towards the door, balancing her sole means of capturing a pokemon in her folded arms. Marcus followed her shortly.

    “This is all for the best, you know. It’ll give you a much stronger bond with your pokemon.”

    She glared at him. “If I ever manage to catch one that is.”

    He sighed and didn’t reply. Nina was beginning to suspect that, if he sighed anymore, he was going to run out of breath and pass out. The thought was pleasant at the moment.

    A couple of minutes later, and after a short train ride to take them even deeper into the marsh, the pair managed to find a starly. It twittered, bright and slightly unintelligent eyes sparkling, and preened itself with the black tip of its orange beak.

    “What do I do now?” Nina asked, fingering one of the pokeballs and gazing at the sunbathing bird.

    “Try throwing a rock at it,” Marcus whispered back.

    She hesitated and then, after an encouraging prod from Marcus, chucked the small stone, which landed about a foot away from the small bird and prompted it to take flight at once.

    “That’s funny,” Marcus said, adjusting his spectacles again as Nina’s potential first ever pokemon flapped away and squawked to warn its flock of the danger, “They usually don’t fly off quite that fast.”

    The rest of the flock, having received the signal, took off at once, momentarily turning the sky into a flurry of noisy black feathers. The starly seemed to be quite agitated at Nina’s appearance and several decided to lighten their respective loads to increase their chance of escape.

    “That’s really interesting, darling, really it is,” she said, delicately wiping away a splatter of starly panic that had landed all over her arm, “You can use this story as an ice-breaker at parties.”

    He smiled weakly at her. “Don’t lose faith, dear. It’s only your first try.”

    About a quarter of an hour later, Nina was on her fifth try. The previous attempt had been another missed throw, which had caused the budew she had been cautiously stalking to run off, and the try before that had been a bibarel that had taken the bait but then burst out of the ball. Her second go had been an even less enjoyable experience, which she had shared with a surprisingly aggressive psyduck and refused to mention ever again.

    They were nearing a marshy area and, just as Nina was preparing to make a tentative leap across it, she spotted a wiry nest hidden in the shrubbery. A small, furry, brown creature was curled up inside, sniffling.

    “Marcus,” she hissed, waving him over and crouching down behind the creature, “What’s this one?”

    He wiped some condensation off his glasses and peered at it with interest. “That’s a bidoof, dear. The unevolved form of that big fuzzy thing we met earlier.”

    The bidoof sneezed furiously and shook its bobbly tail before settling back down again. With shaking hands, Nina fished out a Safari ball and raised it above the creature, merely dropping the ball down onto it instead of throwing.

    Five seconds and a pitiful amount of struggling later, she had her first pokemon.

    The pair exited the marsh soon afterwards, despite Marcus’s insistence that they still had some time and balls to spare, and the receptionist took their kit and waved them out without comment.

    “I think I’m going to call her Emily,” Nina said once they had left the building, patting the small pokeball in her hand.

    “The, er, the bidoof you caught had a five-parted tail, my dear,” Marcus said, fiddling with his glasses like he always did when he thought he was being smarter than her.

    “Good,” she said, “That’s a fine number of parts to have.”

    “Um, er, only that means... that means it is a male specimen, darling.”

    “I’m quite alright with that, Marcus.”

    “So that, well, perhaps something such as Miles might be a better name? Seeing as it’s a boy.”

    “He’s called Emily.”

    Marcus took off his glasses and polished them again. He really did play with them too much, in Nina’s opinion, and she briefly considered taping them to the bridge of his nose to wean him off the habit.

    “Sometimes, my dear, you can be a tad stubborn,” he said. She beamed at him and patted the ball.

    “Let’s take Emily to the Pokécenter and get him healed up, shall we?”

    ******

    Marcus had declined the invitation to join Nina at the pokecenter, citing that there was still some packing to be done for tomorrow, and so she was left to make the trip alone. As annoying as Marcus could be sometimes, she did love him and the line for the healing booth was very long so she was sad not to have his company.

    She coughed politely in an attempt to hint to the tottering nonagenarian behind her that he was invading her personal bubble and, when he smiled gummily in the face of her reproving glare, sagged and gave up. Of course, Marcus had spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about how the rise of the leisure trainer had put a strain on pokemon-related resources but she hadn’t understood quite how bad it was until she’d become a trainer herself, which had been – she checked her watch – about ten minutes ago.

    It had started, according to Marcus, in the spring, just after a young trainer named Sunshine or Daybreak or whatever had apparently foiled the plan of the head of Team Galactic, whose name escaped her, and saved the world or some such cliché nonsense involving somewhere called Mt. Coronet and something called Tina or Gitina or something like that. Nina didn’t really get it. After all, she’d been in a coma at the time.

    Either way, the general populace took a much keener interest in fighting pokemon training after that, especially upon learning that a trained pokemon could fight to defend its master from attack. With a re-formed Team Galactic routinely causing havoc in major cities, the older generation found the idea of tiny, trained bodyguards rather comforting and this passing interest was then fanned by the pokemart chain, who felt that older people with “real” jobs and more money to spend would rake in a larger profit, even more so if they could be convinced that products X, Y and Z would help make up for their lack of experience.

    In the end, the “Leisure Trainer” was born, a term that referred to a trainer that started after the customary age of ten and was training either as a hobby or as a means of protection against Team Galactic. It was a lucrative market and had grown so large in recent months that real trainers had become the minority, though they were still the superior and more successful group. Marcus had compared it to the difference between dancers that had received ballet classes before they could walk and people that attended a salsa lesson at their local community hall to relive the ache of a mid-life crisis. Namely, there were more salsa-goers than tap-dancing two-year-olds but it was highly unlikely that the former would ever go professional.

    Marcus, like many other “real” trainers, seemed to have quite a derogatory attitude towards the average Leisure Trainer and, having waited in line for almost half an hour, Nina could see why. Still, at least it served to add another level of maturity to the whole affair.

    Most of the time, anyway.

    A group of trainers was approaching the pokecenter, easily recognisable as Leisure Trainers from the rather paltry amount of pokeballs swinging from their belts. Despite this, they walked with an arrogant – almost obscenely confident – swagger. Nina knew the type; these boys were the kind that took leisure training far too seriously, memorising stat lists and carrying at least fourteen antidotes at any one time in a futile attempt to “catch up” with their more experienced Real Trainer counterparts.

    The largest, who appeared to be the ringleader of sorts, glanced her way and, noticing the pokeball she was fondly petting, sauntered over. He plucked it out of her grasp and waggled it at his friends, snorting in contempt.

    “God, she doesn’t actually have a pokemon, does she?” one of them piped up, sneering at the red and white ball, “I mean, she’s a-”

    “Ssssh,” another interjected, “You know what Marcus said he’d do if anyone…”

    “But really. This is going too far! Giving… her a pokemon.”

    Nina frowned and snatched the ball back, making sure her nails grazed the larger trainer's wrist. She couldn’t stand people treating her like some delicate little infant – you’re not ready for a pokemon, Nina, don’t go in the woods, Nina, don’t talk to strangers, Nina – just because she’d been in a coma. Two months ago.

    “I’ll have you know I caught that all by myself,” she said tersely.

    To her disappointment, this scathing remark failed to shame the young men into an apologetic silence. They laughed instead and leaned on each other for support, slapping at each other’s back in amusement.

    “Did you now? Let’s see it, then.”

    With a dramatic flourish, Nina whipped the pokeball out in front of her and pressed down on the small release button, fumbling and dropping the ball as she did so. Hopefully, this would not diminish the effect though and she stood back to allow them to see her new, wondrous acquisition. The ball hit the floor with a clank just as the bidoof in question appeared and she smiled proudly at him.

    Emily looked around, slumped down on his hindquarters and unleashed a loud explosion of gastrointestinal unrest. Every single boy within the “posse” burst out laughing, the majority of them physically falling on their asses as they pointed at her pokemon.

    “A bidoof?! You have a bidoof for your starter pokemon?”

    “Did that thing just fart?”

    “Oh my God. Oh my God, I’m dying. It’s too funny. Help.”

    Nina tried to ignore the tears of embarrassment suddenly stinging at the corners of her eyes and stamped one foot at the guffawing trainers. “What’s wrong with a bidoof?” she asked, voice wavering, “They’re pokemon, aren’t they?”

    One of the young men, who had managed to contain his amusement long enough to stand up again, wiped the tears from his eyes and turned to face her.

    “They’re common as muck, you know,” he said scornfully, “Woudn’t even spit on one of those things if it was on fire. Get them everywhere. Bloody pathetic creatures.”

    “W-what do you mean?” she asked, staring at Emily, who had now curled up on the floor and gone to sleep, stomach still rumbling occasionally.

    “Just what I said,” he replied, “Weak, common, ineffectual pokemon.” He looked her up down for a moment and, though he didn't say anything, Nina could almost hear his disdain.

    One of his friends chipped in at this point to rub salt in Nina’s fresh wounds. “Yeah, I can’t imagine starting out with one of those little monsters.” He snorted at this and prodded Emily in the side with his foot, “It’s not even that good a bidoof by the looks of it. All sickly and little.”

    At this, Nina lost her temper and, crossing her arms in front of her, attempted to stare down the much older trainer. Except, she reminded herself, he probably wasn’t older than her. Because she was twenty-three, not eighteen anymore.

    God, that was depressing.

    “Well, what kind of pokemon do you have? I bet Emily here could kick your pokemon’s butt.”

    “E-Emily?”

    Another chorus of laughter disrupted the relative quiet of the pokecentre and quite a few heads turned in their direction. Nina tried to hide the mortified flush on her cheeks and stamped her foot again.

    “Yes, he’s called Emily. Got a problem?”

    He?” The gang’s collective head turned to look at Nina’s pokemon and its five-parted tail. “Oh God, it is a boy! A boy called Emily!”

    Finally, the apparent gang-leader stopped chuckling to himself and, apropos of nothing, whipped out a pokeball similar to Nina’s own, except it was painted in the distinctive pattern of a Luxury Ball.

    “Here I’ll show you a real pokemon,” he said, pressing the release button with a casual effortlessness Nina suspected she would never achieve. A jet of bright light streamed from the ball and gathered into the form of a lithe fox-like creature, which twitched its large, red ears and blinked sleepily in the light.

    Nina couldn’t help but want to cuddle it. It was wonderful.

    “What’s that,” she asked, staring at the small red creature with its vibrant patches of rough, yellow fur, “Where did you get it?”

    He scoffed at her. “This is my flareon, Blaze. I got it from my father; he was a Real Trainer.”

    Nina smiled at the pokemon and reached out to stroke it, ignoring its annoying trainer. “Hey, cutie! Aren’t you a lovely little thing?”

    “He’s not cute!” the young man yelped, “He’s tough and strong and manly. Your bidoof wouldn’t last a minute against Blaze.”

    “But he’s so adorable,” Nina said, “You wouldn’t hurt anyone, would you, honey?”

    Blaze stared at her outstretched hand and sniffed, scooting away.

    “I wish Marcus would give me something like that,” she whined, more to herself than to her fellow Leisure Trainers, “But he’s being so stubborn about it.”

    “And rightly so!” the ring leader said, “You don’t deserve something like Blaze.”

    Nina’s head snapped up to stare at him and glowered at his sneering face. “What the hell do you m-”

    “Hey,” one of the boy’s friends interrupted, punching affectionately at his friend’s shoulder, “Why don’t you two battle? Put Emily to the test.”

    The trainers laughed together again, forming a closed circuit of sympathy with Nina very firmly on the outside. She tried to pretend that it didn't bother her and looked away, examining a nearby poster, as they joked at her expense.

    “Hey, to make it fair to you,” the young man said, seeming to remember her presence, “I’ll only use Blaze here.”

    More raucous laughter, more turning heads. Nina flushed for the second time that day.

    “Fine! I will battle you! And Emily will wipe the floor with you, I just know it.”

    The teenager merely nodded at her, stifling further giggles, and nudged his flareon with one foot. The fiery creature straightened up, moving into some kind of fighting stance, and growled half-heartedly.

    “Emily use Tackle,” Nina cried, vaguely recalling the moves Marcus had told her wild pokemon most could use. Emily glanced at her and squeaked, wriggling backwards.

    “Use Ember, Blaze,” her opponent grunted.

    The flareon stared at the bidoof shuffling slowly away, sighed and shot several small flames from its tiny mouth, straight towards Nina’s first and only pokemon.

    Emily turned back to face his opponent, saw the jets of fire streaming towards him and promptly and calmly defecated all over the pokecentre’s tile floor.

    The attack hit a second later and the battle was over before Nina could tell Emily to dodge. Or even blink for that matter. She ran forward at once and bundled the unconscious pokemon in her arms, trying to shelter him in some way from the mocking taunts being made about his recent performance.

    “Oh, bugger off you lot. What are guys like you doing bothering someone who’s just starting out? Not strong enough for the big kids yet?” A petite girl, who couldn’t be older than about thirteen emerged from the queue, hands on her hips and a reproving expression on her small face.

    “What’s a little girl like you doing in a pokecentre?” one of the gang retorted, “Shouldn’t you be playing dress-up with your dollies or something?”

    The girl scowled and somehow managed to peer down her nose at the much taller boys. “I happen to be Real Trainer, you realise,” she said. As if to illustrate this point, a large and heavily muscled Machoke appeared behind her and cracked its knuckles in a nonchalant display of menace.

    By some means of sorcery unknown to Nina, all seven young men managed to take intense interest in a stack of leaflets on the other side of the room and quickly moved away. Blaze hesitated for a moment, fixing Nina with a strange and unreadable look, before trotting after his obnoxious master, fuzzy tail waving idly.

    “Sorry about that lot,” the girl said, patting Emily’s head in sympathy, “Some people are just like that, you know?”

    “Quite,” Nina said, shifting backwards to rejoin the queue once more. Emily was definitely going to need healing now. “I’m Nina, by the way.”

    The girl nodded. “Marcus’s friend, I recognised you. You’re quite well-known around these parts.”

    Nina sighed. “Because of the accident?”

    “Oh? Ah, yes. I guess so.”

    There was a short, awkward pause before the young girl spoke again.

    “My name’s Anna, nice to meet you,” she said, smiling broadly.

    “Nice to meet you too,” Nina mumbled, jostling Emily in her arms, “You here to visit the Great Marsh?” she asked, remembering the hoards of trainers she had seen in the reception, “I wouldn’t if I were you. It’s not all that great.”

    Anna laughed brightly and shook her head. “Nah, not me. I’m just passing through on my way to Hearthome.”

    Nina blinked. As far as she was concerned, Hearthome was even more of a dump than Pastoria.

    Anna seemed to notice her scepticism. “For the badge,” she said, “I want to challenge Fantina.”

    Suddenly, the conversation with Anna seemed a lot more interesting. Nina was abuzz with questions. How many badges were there? What happened when you got all of them? Which gym leaders used which pokemon types?

    “It’s going to be pretty for difficult for you to get many,” Anna warned, hands raised in front of her, “What with you being a Leisure Trainer and... um... the-”

    “The accident,” Nina finished, “Yes, I know. But I have my fiancé to help me and everything so I should be fine.”

    Anna suddenly stopped and stared, open-mouthed. “Your- your fiancé?!”

    “Well, yes. I’m engaged to Marcus.” The horrified expression on the other girl’s face confused and offended her. What the hell was going on?

    Without warning, Marcus materialised beside her as if he had been there the whole time, looking sterner than Nina was used to seeing him. “Anna, if I could have a quick word with you?” he asked politely but with a vague hint of fierce disapproval about him.

    Anna stared him down, seeming disgusted and... angry? It didn’t make any sense. She stood there for a minute, glaring, before she stomped away, grabbing Marcus’s sleeve to make him follow.

    “We’ll just be a minute, dear,” Marcus called over his shoulder, “Got a little misunderstanding to clear up.”

    With that Nina was left alone with an unconscious Emily and no idea what was going on. She balled her hands into fists and shook with indignation.

    When Marcus got back, he had a lot of explaining to do. Nina wanted to know exactly what this “misunderstanding” was and why it had happened.

    On that note, she realised that "Anna", despite her now apparent rudeness, had given her a great idea of where to go first. She smiled and tried to recall everything she knew about this Fantina character, making plans to train Emily as hard as she could on the way to Hearthome city.

    It would be difficult but she was going to show that pretentious little brat. She’d get every single badge there was - accident or no accident - and rub them each individually into that snotty, prepubescent face.

    Was it a mature thing to do? Hell no but, after all, Nina was only eighteen.

    Technically.
    Last edited by Chickorita; 12th April 2010 at 2:03 PM.

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    LOL! This chapter was really funny and I quite like your prologue too, though I feel there's a rather sudden change of mood between them. I love how silly Nina seems and Emily is so hilarious!

    My only grammar probelm is that "unsunny" isn't a real word and you haven't capitalised any of the pokemon names, though it seems like you did that on purpose. I don't know. Either way, it was an enjoyable read!! Please update soon~.

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    I got several laughs out of it too. Nice work.

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    Oh, wow. You've really managed to catch my interest here. I mean, I've been idly glancing at some of the new-ish fics in this forum recently out of what is most probably boredom, and none of them managed to keep my attention for that long. But this - let's just say I'll definitely be sticking around for more. You should probably put me on your PM list, since, especially if there's going to be fairly long breaks between chapters, I may end up having forgotten that I've taken an interest in this fic by the time the next chapter is posted.

    As for precisely how you managed to catch my interest, well. The first thing that really caught my eye was your characterisation. Not the prologue so much - that was mostly an introduction to an interesting premise which managed to keep my attention long enough for me to want to give Chapter One a go - but from the first few paragraphs of said first chapter, you just had me. It's the little things like mentioning how Marcus's smile is the kind he wears when he knows he's about to get a plate to the face, Nina's voice suggesting that if the Pokémon isn't hiding, Marcus should be, that do a great job of establishing both Nina and Marcus's personalities and their relationship, just through showing us the way they act. A lot of beginning writers fall into the trap of just straight-out telling the readers what the characters are like rather than showing us through details like this, but you're most definitely not one of them. Of course, it's not just the first few paragraphs; you kept on working in more stuff to establish the characters' personalities throughout the whole of the chapter. And they feel so real, to the point that I already quite like the two mains. Nina's amusing cluelessness about how exactly Pokémon training works coupled with her somewhat-childish stubbornness (because she's totally still eighteen! xP) make for a fun character to read about. And Marcus has this patience about him where you can really tell that he's rather used to putting up with his fiancée. Yep, I'm definitely looking forward to watching these two interact more as he accompanies her on her journey.

    The other thing that had me thinking "I definitely need to bother to review this!" while I read it was the humour. It's not overly on your face or anything; there's just the odd subtle thing here and there that got a little grin or chuckle out of me and made reading this an overall amusing experience. I think it's your narration - something about the way you narrate certain things is witty enough that it gives it just a little bit of a humourous air. For example, I like how you described Lucy's laziness, as well as that incident with the Psyduck which Nina will not go into. xP I also love how she insisted on calling her Bidoof Emily even after realising he's male, although that's more for character reasons than narration reasons, but still.

    Which brings me onto another thing I liked about this: originality. While I admittedly read less fanfics than I ought to, several things about this were things I'd never seen done before in a Pokémon fanfic. The main character starting with a Bidoof, for one - and not only is this something that very few fics have probably ever done, but you manage to make it utterly believable, because Nina honestly doesn't realise how weak and common it is and how much of a laughing stock it'll make her when she decides to catch one. Another thing which I've never seen before is your concept of Leisure Trainers as opposed to Real Trainers. Not only does it create an unusual take on the Pokémon world for this story to take place in, but it is also probably the most believable reason I've seen for the main character of a journey fic to start training at an age older than the canon age of ten. (I should note, though, that for this to be truly realistic and make us honestly believe that older people would want to take up training, you're going to have to work to establish that Team Galactic really is causing havoc in your version of Sinnoh, rather than just leaving us informed of this fact but not really seeing it. But considering how well you did establishing the concept of Real and Leisure Trainers and the percieved differences between them here, I'm sure you already intend to work in Team Galactic as well and will have no problems doing so. That and they're clearly heavily linked to Nina's backstory, so.) Also, the whole just-woke-up-from-a-coma aspect to Nina is something that I've never seen done before with a main character, or indeed any character in a Pokémon fanfic. It should allow for some interesting development for her once the fic gets going.

    I also feel like pointing out that you pulled off that obnoxious boy with the Flareon really well. In a realistic way, I mean - another pitfall that a lot of beginning writers fall into with journey fics is being way too over-the-top with a rival-like character's obnoxiousness to the point of it being unbelievable. You made it work, though; everything was narrated in a realistic and unbiased way, the character himself seemed real and not overdone, and honestly, I could see why he and his friends were laughing at Nina, because starting with a male Bidoof named Emily really is quite ridiculous. xP One thing I might suggest is that you use a word other than "boy" to refer to him, though, because if Nina, who still feels like she's eighteen, thinks he's older than her, then he's really not much of a boy any more. During that scene, I probably imagined him as younger than he should have been, which pushed my mental perception of him closer to a Real Trainer than it should have been. Maybe something like "young man" instead?

    While I'm nitpicking, a couple of small - and I really mean minor - things caught my eye.
    The bait makes the pokemon more likely to run away but easier to catch and the rocks make the pokemon less likely to run away but harder to catch.
    I may be wrong here, but are you sure this is the right way around? I say this because it seems more logical to me that rocks would make them more likely to run and bait would make them more likely to stay. But then again, I don't actually know how the Safari Zone system works in the games - I always caught my Safari Pokémon in Kanto more by luck than judgement, and I've never even visited Sinnoh's Great Marsh. So you may well know better than me; if you're sure that the way you said is the way it is in the games, then you can ignore me.

    About a quarter of an hour later, Nina was on her fourth try. The previous attempt had been another missed throw, which had caused the budew she had been cautiously stalking to run off, and the try before that had been a bibarel that had taken the bait but then burst out of the ball. Her second go had been an even less enjoyable experience, which she had shared with a surprisingly aggressive psyduck and refused to mention ever again.
    I'm a little iffy about the "fourth" here. If you count the initial Starly try, the Psyduck incident, and then the Bibarel, the Budew is her fourth try. However, the way you say she's "on" her fourth try coupled with the Budew supposedly being her "previous attempt" indicates that she's not on the Budew-try any more. So wouldn't she be on her fifth try now?

    With a reformed Team Galactic routinely causing havoc in major cities
    The first time I read this sentence, I interpreted "reformed" in the sense that they'd changed for the better, turned over a new leaf, etc., which was obviously the completely wrong impression to get. It was only when that clearly didn't add up with the causing havoc that I realised you meant it in the sense that they'd formed the group again instead of what I initially thought. In a quick check of dictionary.com, it seems that the sense you meant it in is spelled "re-form", with the hyphen, although you might possibly want to use a different word entirely just to avoid giving it connotations completely the opposite of what you meant.

    But really, those are minor things that didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of this. In general, your writing style is really smooth and readable with little in the way of awkwardly or clunky sentences - at least, none that I noticed, and those are the kinds of things that I tend to notice a lot. And, as I've said, the characterisation is great, the subtle humour is great, and the various premises this is built on are nicely original and fresh. So, well, keep writing, because you have a lot of potential, and I'm looking forward to reading more.
    .: Evolution is a battle .:. Something has to lose :.
    LOST EVOLUTION
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    “So that, well, perhaps something such as Miles might be a better name? Seeing as it’s a boy.”

    “He’s called Emily.”


    Lots of funny stuff, nice cliffhanger. Loving to read this.

    Good ay!

    ~Evanarios
    Hello my name is Evanarios, I will help you with anything... If you need help just ask me or Serebii Staff


    I suggest reading Advice for Aspiring Authors if you are starting to write, or even if you are experienced.

  11. #11
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    Whoa, I really liked this. There's so much humor in how you phrase things, it's really delightful. Like

    "...snored and rolled over in her sleep, an action that took her at least twenty seconds and left some of the more insulated areas of her body still moving after the rest had stopped."

    I love your euphamism here. And here:

    "unleashed a loud explosion of gastrointestinal unrest."

    This story is mysterious and light-hearted all at the same time. I feel like her dreams are the key to her past before the accident. I couldn't tell if she knew what the accident was or not from these beginning chapters, but whatever it was, I think there's something sinister about it. I want to hear what Marcus says to her about his chat with Anna. I have my own suspicions right now and I can't wait to read more and try to figure this out.

    Also, I really like your concept of Real Trainer and Leisure Trainer. It reminds me of how the Nintendo Wii recently opened up video games to demographics that had never experienced them before. And also reminds me of how "hardcore" or "traditional" gamers complained developers' resources were being allocated to "casual" games instead of the games they liked. Was this allegorical?

    Anyway, I'm definitely coming back. Definitely put me on the PM list.
    Taxonomy of the Heart
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    "When you're in your final moment and your life flashes before your eyes, it isn't for your entertainment, it's your subconscious hurling every relevant and pseudo-relevant experience you've ever had up into consciousness. It's saying 'try this! or this! or this! does what we learned here help?! ****!!'. So don't sit back and relax, take your last stand. Take your brain's emergency alarm and do something.

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    Thank you very much to everyone who reviewed! I'm glad you guys liked it.

    @elyvorg

    Thank you for being so thorough with your review; it was really helpful. You were right about the number of attempts error and I'll make sure to hypenate the "reformed". Unfortunately, I couldn't find another word that would convey the right meaning without breaking the flow of the text but at least now it's the correct word. XD

    Team Galactic definitely feature in the story but, having taken your advice into consideration, I may include them earlier than originally planned. Also, I'll be changing the "boy" pronoun used to describe the other trainer to something more suitable.

    On a (few) final notes, I'm really glad you liked the chapter, I've added you to the PM list and the Safari Zones are indeed that counter-intuitive. I think the Red game mentioned something about the rocks making pokemon angry and willing to fight? I don't know. XD

    @Maze

    This story is mysterious and light-hearted all at the same time. I feel like her dreams are the key to her past before the accident. I couldn't tell if she knew what the accident was or not from these beginning chapters, but whatever it was, I think there's something sinister about it. I want to hear what Marcus says to her about his chat with Anna. I have my own suspicions right now and I can't wait to read more and try to figure this out.
    Sinister indeed. :B If you have suspicions, though, I'd love to hear them! (Especially since it'll let me know if I'm being too obvious. >___>)

    Also, I really like your concept of Real Trainer and Leisure Trainer. It reminds me of how the Nintendo Wii recently opened up video games to demographics that had never experienced them before. And also reminds me of how "hardcore" or "traditional" gamers complained developers' resources were being allocated to "casual" games instead of the games they liked. Was this allegorical?
    It was allegorical, though not specifically for gaming. I think it applies to everything that has a fanbase - the old fans always feel superior to the new fans and often look down on them. Still, good on you for spotting it. XD

    I'm glad you liked the chapter and I've added you to the PM list.

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    Firstly add me to the PM list! Am rather enjoying this and I don't normally read fan fics because I don't have the time. However this time I will make an exception!

    Secondly Nina! I love that name! Reminds me of Nina off 24! Anyway that's another matter. Now onto your story.

    I loved the prologue, it really did set the whole story up and making Galactic and actual threat was also greatly pleasant. My only problem was the lack of knowledge about what was going on but that's obviously intentional. I just like being in the know! lol

    The chapter was good! Liked the unusual set of circumstances that Nina faced not being the typical journeyer who is 10 and receiving said starter. Bidoof was also nice, hope this makes them seem rather acceptable. The name Emily again was a brilliant touch! Superb!

    ONly thing I didn't like was the leveling of Skitty. How they would determine its level I don't know, but I'm sure you have a way! : ) However though still not sure I like it along with the idea of stats but we'll see where they go!

    All in all a good piece of work and I'm looking forward to find out about this Anna character!

    Most Recent Chapter - Chapter 31: Don't Forget Me - Posted 26/01/13
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    I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence

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    Quote Originally Posted by harryheart View Post
    ONly thing I didn't like was the leveling of Skitty. How they would determine its level I don't know, but I'm sure you have a way! : ) However though still not sure I like it along with the idea of stats but we'll see where they go!
    I'm glad you liked the chapter and I've added you to the PM list. As for your quibble above, that was an oversight of mine; I don't actually intend to have levels in this fic. Whoops. ^^; I'll edit it out now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chickorita View Post
    I'm glad you liked the chapter and I've added you to the PM list. As for your quibble above, that was an oversight of mine; I don't actually intend to have levels in this fic. Whoops. ^^; I'll edit it out now.
    Just re-read that section and I think it flows the same so it doesn't seem different! But besides the whole levelling business I am really liking this and can't wait to see how you develop it!

    Most Recent Chapter - Chapter 31: Don't Forget Me - Posted 26/01/13
    Credits to Sweet May and DanChimchar

    I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence

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    Prologue-

    I thought it was pretty good until you got to this part:

    Marcus is good to me; I’m really lucky to have him. He’s always looking out for me and helping me, like today, when he’s giving me my first pokémon. He didn’t want to at first, he said I wouldn’t be safe, but now that his work with that laboratory in Veilstone is done and he has nothing to do, he’s warmed to the idea. He says we can travel round together, training up our pokemon, as a kind of pre-honeymoon before the wedding.

    We’ve been planning our marriage since before the accident. We’re getting married in... well, I don’t know really. As I said, we want to train up our pokemon first and Marcus really doesn’t like the idea of getting married now, when Team Galactic is on the loose and so dangerous. He says a large number of people at one wedding would attract trouble and, besides, everyone would be nervous. We want our wedding to be a happy occasion.

    The old baggage down the road says I’m too young to be married but I don’t really care what she thinks. Eighteen is a fine age, I’m practically an adult! Though, I suppose I’m not eighteen really. I mean, I’m twenty three technically.

    I’ve never felt like it, though, never ever.

    “Honey, come on. I’ve got something for you!”
    Now, I'm a male, and I love making the occasional joke here and there, but this seems kind of chauvinistic. The male determines when they'll be married, and whether or not our main character gets a Pokemon? Come on. Also, I don't understand why you mention the coma as if it were nothing. It seems a five year coma would be a very interesting topic. I get that its a prologue, and its made to be short, but that jsut doesnt add up. At any rate, you got off to a decent start. Better than a lot of writers on here...

    Chapter 1:

    Seems to be lacking description. Every once in a while you should pause, describe your surroundings and perhaps the thoughts of your characters. It'll help break up all of your dialogue.

    She pulled out a chair and slumped into it despondently, resting her chin on one hand and fixing him with a disappointed scowl. “It’s not my first pokemon. What about Lucy?”
    Seems like this isnt a relationship. Marcus is demanding and rude, and Nina is submissive. But maybe thats how you intend them to be, I don't know. I'll have to read on.

    “Yes, dear. And bait and pokeballs.”

    “With rocks.”

    “With rocks,” he said, patting her hand lightly.

    She stared at him.

    “If you like,” he said, cheerfully, “You can also use clumps of mud.”

    She stared some more.
    I liked this exchange...I felt the whole thing was hysterical and you captured the emotion really well. Actually I give you a lot of credit- your dialogue is very stimulating and attractive. It's let down a bit by your descrpition, but you can definetly improve on that.

    Other tibits I liked were "emily the bidoof" or the juxtaposition of leisure trainers vs. regular trainers. The galactic story is really interesting as well.

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    @Manaphyman: Ah, you're the first one to bring up their relationship dynamic! You've got a keen eye. Nina and Marcus are indeed supposed to be in an unhealthy relationship, which is very plot significant. Oops about the sexism, though, I didn't think of it like that at all. Nina is submissive to Marcus because she - argh, how can I say this without giving things away? - because of the unhealthy-relationshipness, not because she's a woman.

    Nina being super blase about the coma was also intentional. (My plot, she be overly twisty.) Possibly, I should have exaggerated it a bit more to make it clearer that I meant it to be that way but then I felt it would be a bit too unbelievable and too obvious perhaps.

    I'm glad you like it and, yeah, my description sucks quite a bit. Something to work on, I guess.

  18. #18
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    Default Chapter Two

    Late update is unreasonably late. If you have any interest in this fic you should probably ask to be put on the PM list because, knowing me, it might be a while before any new chapters emerge.

    On a more cheerful note, I have been nominated for the fanfiction awards by harryheart! Thank you very much! Also please vote for me. :B

    If you have anything at all to say about this, please leave a comment. I love hearing from you guys. :D

    Also, the chapter had to be split into two posts because I tl;dr all over the shop like a mad thing and exceeded the character limit. Serebii couldn't handle this, yo'.

    ******

    Marcus had taken a long time clearing up his so-called “misunderstanding” with Anna and Nina, despite being amazing and perfect and wonderful in almost every other way, had never considered herself a very patient person. So she trudged home without him and walked through the front door without him, got out Emily without him, cleaned up the resultant scared-bidoof faeces without him and then viciously attacked a sofa cushion without him around to make any kind of snappy comment or push up his glasses in that annoying way he did it.

    And she realised she didn’t much like being without him when she was pissed and needed to someone to complain at.

    Her first pokémon was common. Her first pokémon was common. Emily was common and weak and sickly and, from the looks of it, he had diarrhoea. He’d already had diarrhoea all over the carpet in fact and she’d washed it out as well as she could but it still smelt icky.

    Nina sat down on the floor cross-legged in a nest of the feathers expelled from a now-limp sofa cushion by her prolonged and violent assault on it, staring at the creature snuffling around in the tissue box on the coffee table and clutching a shiny, new pokédex in the hand not currently itching to wring his furry little neck. Emily seemed to sense her burning hatred for his very existence and removed his face from the apparently fascinating box of tissues in order to blink at her in what he appeared to think was a charming and adorable manner. “How could you hate me?” his blink asked, “When I am so filled with fuzzy joy and endearing affection for you.”

    “Doof,” he said as if to add emphasis to this point.

    “Shut your face,” Nina replied and took another hesitant look at her pokédex. It had been in the bag of things Marcus had bought her and that she had upended all over the kitchen table almost as soon as she’d got home, nestled in a side pocket with a thick leaflet of instructions and warnings and warranties, almost mocking her with its glossy surface. It was a thing of beauty, designed for storing information about equally beautiful things like super awesome lightning god pokémon that could shoot rainbow lasers out of their toes while baking you a cake in the dream kitchen they built for with their mind powers.

    It was not a thing for storing information about anything like Emily. Something this beautiful probably hadn’t even heard of the word “diarrhoea”.

    She held it up to the light so she could watch it gleam, twisting it this way and that in her hands and resisting the temptation to throw it in Emily’s face when he directly disobeyed her orders again and repeated his earlier sentiment of “Doof”. This time the statement was followed by a high-pitched, keening noise and Emily straightened up, hind quarters resting on the table and paws out in front to steady him like he was posing for a photo. He shook his bobbly tail once and then stilled.

    Nina looked at him, sitting there all quiet and still like a statue, and then looked at her pokédex, still raised in the air and shining like a new coin. And then she looked at him again and he looked at the pokédex and she shook her head and buried it in her hands.

    “You want me to use the pokédex on you,” she said, “You actually want me to use this thing on you.”

    Emily’s face had taken on the fierce expression of someone trying very hard not to move for longer than was comfortable and, whether he hadn’t understood her or was ignoring her question, he made no attempt to explain or clarify his thoughts on the matter. Most likely, in Nina’s opinion, because he didn’t have any thoughts, since he probably didn’t think.

    Nina started laughing before her sense of humour gave up the effort and stormed off in a huff. “How do you even know what this thing is?” She waved it in front of his face and watched his stare intensify, eyes shifting to follow its progress, “You’re a wild pokémon! Who would have used one of these on you before?”

    Then it came to her, which is not to say that she had a stark realisation based on intelligent deduction and educated guesswork, but that the understanding of where Emily would have seen a pokédex before popped into her head like someone else had put it there on a whim. It just turned up and, though this would have worried and confused Nina if she had been thinking about something less important - like cheese maybe - and perhaps even have been cause to consult Marcus and face his knowledgeable condescension, at the moment she was prepared to push it to the side in favour of more vital thoughts.

    “It was other trainers in the Safari zone, wasn’t it? Pointing that thing at you to find out more and then- then deciding you weren’t worth the effort or that you were the wrong type for their team or just that they didn’t like the look of you after all. And you want me to use it on you this badly because you’re one of the ones that want to get caught by someone because it’s an easier life and you haven’t got anyone to look after you so now you associate this thing,” she rattled it like she was in a daze and Emily bristled and straightened up even further, “With the chance to become someone’s pokémon.”

    She stopped and stared at him. And then stared at her pokédex. And then tried to stare at her own mouth and ended up going cross-eyed. It wasn’t like her mouth had never run away with her after all, she’d said weird things before that she hadn’t quite meant, it was just that this time it felt a little different. She’d spat the last word like she was angry and that didn’t make sense because pokémon didn’t make her angry.

    Well, Emily did, but that was a different sort of thing.

    Nina sighed. “You already are someone’s pokémon,” she said and Emily just blinked up at her some more. She might have been imagining it but he appeared to look a little sceptical. “You’re my pokémon.”

    If he believed it, it didn’t show.

    Nina sighed again and then realised she was starting to sound like Marcus and cut it out. “So, I just hold this thing up in front of you,” she said, doing so and producing another bout of tense posing from her desperate to please anyone but her and first ever pokémon, “And press this button, right?”
    Emily didn’t make any kind of response to this - what she been expecting anyway? - and merely sat there on the table, vibrating with sheer eagerness. Nina pressed the button on the pokédex on the basis that it couldn’t hurt.

    “Bidoof, the Plump Mouse pokémon,” the pokédex recited and then hit the ground before it could finish its next word. The impact seemed to have shut it off or broken it irreparably and both Nina and her plump mouse pokémon stared at it in equal parts dismay, anger and shock.

    Plump mouse, she thought. My first ever pokémon is a plump mouse with bowel troubles.

    “Sorry,” she said, when aforementioned rubenesque rodent made an aggravated squeaking sound at her, “I don’t think I’m quite ready to do that.” Emily gave her a look. “Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to me either. I just- I just don’t want to hear it say… bad stuff about my first ever pokémon.”

    Emily furrowed eyebrows he didn’t have. “What could it possibly say?” she could imagine him asking. His tail twitched.

    Nina gingerly retrieved the pokédex and was both delighted and disappointed to see it was relatively undamaged. She bounced it a little in the palm of her hand and felt the kind of bulky weight that came with sturdiness. It made sense that these things would be built to withstand knocks, she figured, the life of a Real Trainer must be pretty rough.

    She looked up at Emily’s insistent, purring kind of whine and sagged at the shoulders. “Maybe I should let you go and convince Marcus to take me to the Safari zone again. I could get a pokémon that isn’t useless and common and doesn’t defecate all over my things and you could get a trainer who can activate a pokédex without trying to destroy it. That would be nice for both of us, huh?”

    Emily once again failed to acquire the power of human speech in order to precisely communicate his opinions and Nina was left to guess what “doof, doof” could possibly mean. She sighed again because she was so past caring that sounding like Marcus didn’t even matter to her, raised the battered pokédex with the ugly crack down the side that she had just noticed and clicked.

    “Bidoof, the Plump Mouse pokémon,” it repeated and then there was a pause in the recording, which Nina could have sworn was the machine waiting for her to hurl it across the room again. Satisfied no further acts of violence would be inflicted upon it today, however, the voice eventually began speaking once more. “It gnaws on trees and rocks with its strong front teeth and lives in nests near the water. A comparison revealed that these front teeth grow at the same rate as Rattata's.” Nina waited for the spiel to end - none of this was that useful or surprising to her in the end and she had no idea what a rattata was anyway - until something caught her attention.

    “With nerves of steel, nothing can perturb it,” the robotic voice announced.

    She looked down at the pokédex and then back up at Emily, every nerve in his body singing with pride and determination, and then back at the pokédex. She had been staring incredulously at a lot of things today, she realised, but this interesting phenomenon was most likely a symptom of the fact that the world had gone crazy and seemed to hate her guts. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she told the pokédex, “You’ve got to be.”

    It wasn’t. “It is more agile and active than it appears.”

    And then there was silence. The pokédex had finished totally destroying her perception of reality and was now satisfied to watch as her mind slowly unravelled under the strain. She looked up at Emily, who was relaxing from his pose, and snorted.

    "Nerves of steel, huh? Fantastic. My bidoof is officially broken."

    Emily appeared to ignore this insult on his person and glanced around, chirping happily under his breath at his own performance. It took Nina a moment but she eventually realised that he was looking for the potential trainer about to whisk him away to a life of luxury and league tables.

    "You don't even think of me as important, do you?" Emily lived up to her expectations on this front by not even twitching an ear towards the sound of her voice, "You just saw the red, shiny thing and thought there must be trainer attached to it somewhere and now you're all confused because you can't see one."

    It took her yet another moment to realise how annoying and oddly depressing that was. "My first pokémon doesn't think I've got what it takes to be a trainer."

    Emily seemed to be facing equal disappointment. The expected stream of white light had not come for what, Nina supposed, must be the most recent of many times. He posed again for a second in the hopes that the mysterious invisible trainer would change their mind, trembled and then curled up into a tiny ball of fur and covered his head with his paws.

    Nina stared at the desolate bidoof before her and felt her eyebrows crease together in sympathy. When Emily started crying with little shivering sobs that racked his whole body, running down the line of his fuzzy body and making his tail shudder, her eyes started to water despite the fact that she was not at all sorry for him in any way, no sir.

    “Don’t you start thinking this means I’m not still annoyed at you for being useless and getting poop on the carpet,” she told him, wiping furiously at her eyes with the back of one hand. She watched him ignore what she had just said for a minute or so until most, if not all, compassionate feeling dissolved and then reached out with one hand, grasped the scruff of his neck and lifted him off the table to dangle in the air in front of her face.

    “You have an owner,” she said, trying her very best to sound stern and authoritative like how Marcus did it, “That owner is me. I caught you,” she raised Emily’s pokéball in front of her face too so he could see it, “With this. You were asleep at the time so maybe you didn’t quite know what was going on but that is what happened. I am your owner and,” she paused and wondered if she would sound silly saying this to a bidoof of all things, thought about what the boys at the pokécentre would think if they could see this, and decided to say it anyway, “And I think we should stick together and try to make it work. Because we’re not that different, you know.”

    “Bidoof,” Emily said softly, staring at her, “Doof.”

    “Well,” Nina said, assuming that had been some kind of really stupid-sounding request for her to elaborate, “We both want to do the whole trainer thing, albeit on different sides of the equation and,” she paused yet again just to process that she was, indeed, having a heart-to-heart with a plump mouse, “We both want to achieve things and be strong even though no one thinks we- It’s just that, when you were sitting like that you looked like you wanted to be seen as- I mean not to say you aren’t strong but…”

    She let the sentence trail off and looked down at her feet. A second later, she almost dropped Emily when she felt something wet brush against her wrist. It was a nose, she realised a second later, a little red nose nudging at her and urging her on, attached to a black muzzle, which was in turn attached to a pair of beady, sympathetic eyes.

    “We’re both champions,” she explained, “Trapped in the bodies of chumps.”

    Silence.

    “Doof.”

    It sounded, though Nina knew the very idea was probably ridiculous, like an agreement.

    “Maybe I should have called you Doof instead of Emily,” she said, laughing, “It’s all you seem to want to say.”

    “Bi-bidoof!”

    She smiled at Emily for a second, tickled him on the nose with one finger much to his writhing joy and then lowered him slowly into her lap, watching as he curled up and nuzzled his face into the crook of her knee. Maybe he didn’t believe she was his wonderful new trainer just yet. After all, she’d expected her first pokémon to be powerful yet obedient, strong but still gentle and terrifying, beautiful, adorable and rare all at the same time… so maybe he’d been looking for someone better and more powerful and more beautiful than her. Someone who would know how to get bidoof poop out of the carpet, for instance, or who would know everything about pokémon. Or who wouldn’t have him lose his first ever battle. If a common, plump mouse was a shock to her, she imagined that a sickly teenage adult hybrid with no other pokémon in place of the experienced pokémon master he had been expecting must have been horrifying to him. Or would be, once he realised that that was indeed the case.

    She ran a hand along his body, feeling the soft fur beneath her fingers, and decided it didn’t matter if he didn’t think of her as a trainer just yet. As long as he thought of her as friend, they would be fine.

    “And maybe one day we’ll both get what we want,” she mused, more to herself than the now sleeping creature drooling onto her ankle, “I’ll recover and get my body back to how it used to be before… before what happened and you can evolve into something a little more imposing than your current form. I mean,” she thought back to her time in the Safari zone, “That big thing Marcus says you turn into looked pretty cool and- and there’s probably an even better one after that so…”

    Nina’s words trailed off as she felt the uncomfortable, wet warmth of urine seeping through her jeans. She closed her eyes and grimaced because, oh God, it was running down her leg, it was running down her leg and bit down on her lip to stop herself from swearing very loudly, a possible course of action which would, knowing her luck, cause the bidoof to defecate again. On her leg. As well as the other thing.

    Oh, ew.

    “I swear,” she declared to the ceiling, “My next pokémon had better be made of lilac-scented, candy-coated diamonds because this is just not fair.”

    And then Emily shook his tail like he so often did while sleeping, except that this time his hindquarters were sodden with urine and so the action flicked said unpleasant substance all the way up Nina’s front.

    Uncool.”

    ******

    Marcus strode through the front door with his back ram-rod straight a short while later and Nina immediately came to the conclusion that he was stressed. The deduction pleased her because it was such a wifely kind of thing, knowing what your fiancé’s posture indicated about his current mood, and so she was laughing as she informed him that she was wearing different trousers because Emily had soiled her other pair and grinning as he berated her for making a mess of the new supplies and smiling as she waited in the kitchen while he made dinner for the both of them.

    Then she remembered what she had been meaning to ask him since they had separated in the pokécentre and the smile disappeared like a buneary in a magic trick.

    “Marcus,” she began, staring down into the cup of tea that had been plonked down before her.

    “Yes, honey?” he asked in that slightly high-pitched, “must we do this now” kind of voice.

    “What did you talk about with Anna?”

    The silence deafened.

    "Well," he said suddenly and if his voice had been high before, it was off the scale now, "She's here to visit her family for a bit and then she's going to challenge Fantina, the gym leader in Hearthome, so we talked about that and how her Machoke is getting along and-"

    "Marcus."

    "She's a really promising young trainer, you know. You wouldn't remember her, she was only seven when you went under and then she left during that time-"

    "Marcus."

    "Everyone was sorry to see her go - her mother was bawling like a baby when she walked away - but with kids like that you can't just force them to stay at home. I mean, you can try like my mother did but it never-"

    "Marcus!"

    He stopped talking. He stopped moving too. Just stood in front of a chopping board covered in the remains of half a red pepper, knife hovering in one hand and ready to desiccate the other half. He was waiting for the inevitable, it seemed.

    Nina could tell he was nervous about the potential conversation hanging before them. Another wife point for me, part of her thought, and then curled up and hid when that failed to make her as happy as before. "What was the misunderstanding?" she asked, not bothering to dance around the subject partly to put him out of his misery quickly and partly because she wanted to know now.

    "Nina, darling, a lot of people don't think it's safe for you to be a trainer," he started and at her immediate, affronted expression added, "And it's not because they don't think you're strong enough, no. No one thinks that, no matter how many times it may seem that way."

    He put the knife down in a slow, deliberate movement and walked over to the table, sitting down across from her and futzing about with his glasses like this moment was his last ever opportunity to do so. If he pissed her off enough, Nina decided, she might make sure it was. By cutting off his fingers.

    He seemed determined to head in that direction because he went on stomping over the fragile ice that was this topic of discussion. "Honey, you can't be stronger than the world. You can be the strongest person in the world but the world will still get you in the end. It- it's like in gambling, how people say the house always wins in the end? Life is like that."

    "Life is like gambling," she repeated.

    "You can stare at me all you want, dear; I know that's a valid analogy. The world beats everyone, especially if you ask for it by skipping off into the wilderness and trying to catch wild animals with slightly less wild animals, and the real test of how well you can cope is how well you can deal with being beaten. How soon you're prepared to get back on your feet and try the game again."

    "So when the world wins and kills me, I should resurrect myself and come back as a gambling zombie."

    Marcus laughed into his hand and shook his head at her in that condescending little mannerism of his. "I have never met anyone who can twist words quite like you," he said and then Nina felt less annoyed because he'd managed to say it like a compliment. "Some wins are more permanent than others," he went on, "I'm not talking about dying - no one," and she did the polite thing and ignored the way his voice cracked for one second as he said it, "Can bounce back from death."

    Then there was another silence as he gazed into his own tea and that she couldn't ignore.

    "You're talking about when you screw everything up and feel bad," she offered because watching him mope about what had happened was even worse than listening to him patronise her.

    It was worth being forced to agree with him because he smiled then. "In less profane words, yes, that is what I'm talking about. Some people just worry about what kind of effect losing or failing - the kind of thing that happens to everyone at first - will have on you. You're still..."

    "Weak."

    "I was about to say recovering actually. Your body is still not as strong as it used to be and that means that your mind is under the same conditions. You might not be able to deal with as much stress as you believe you can."

    "Oh, right," Nina said, rolling her eyes at him, "It's not that they think I'm weak, it's just that they think I'm a sore loser."

    He looked at her and somebody must have taught him to talk with his eyes at some point because it was an unnaturally wordy kind of look. It was a look, in fact, that said a thousand words and approximately all one thousand of them were laughing at her.

    "What? I'm not a sore loser."

    Marcus coughed in a quiet, smug way. "One of the sofa cushions looks a little different today," he said in a voice that pretended to pretend to be off hand and made her teeth grind.

    "What's that got to do with it?" she spat and made it very clear from how she glared at him that she knew what he was trying to say and that, if he thought he had enough courage to actually put words to those thoughts, then he should, in the nicest manner of speaking possible, bring it.

    He brought it. "Would you have prepared a rarer starter perhaps?"

    Nina stared at him and vibrated with rage, unable to quite put to words how bloody annoying and wrong and stupid he was, until she realised something at the same time both aggravating and unsurprising.

    "You knew!" she accused, pointing a trembling finger in his face, "You knew Emily was a useless, common pokémon and you let me catch him anyway!"

    Marcus shrugged and took a sip of his tea. "You were the one that saw him and called me over, I hardly forced you to catch him. Besides, just because something is common, doesn't mean it's useless. It stands to reason that it must be quite a strong species, if that many of them have managed to survive in the wild."

    "There are that many of them in the wild," Nina shouted, previous bond of friendship with her pokémon pushed to one side in favour of indignation, "Because nothing will bloody eat them because then all the other predators would ostracise it from the pack because bidoof are that pathetic!"

    Marcus snorted into the tea he was still drinking and then set the cup down on the table with a quiet clinking noise. "You've taken an awfully strong dislike to the poor things considering you only just heard of them today," he observed.

    Nina was silent. Even someone as self-admittedly stubborn as she could occasionally be had to admit when she was beat. Not for long, though.

    "I thought you wanted me to have a "special bond" with my starter," she said, scowling at the tablecloth like it had been the one to befoul her best pair of jeans, "How am I supposed to have a special bond with a fat mouse that keeps shitting on me?"

    He sighed. "I'm sure you'll find a way. Now if you can bear to excuse me, I need to finish making our meal."

    Nina didn't deign to respond to him but her stomach obviously did because it grumbled pitifully. Marcus laughed and padded back into the kitchen, checking on the saucepan of pasta on the hob and then returning to his pepper.

    It took Nina about five minutes of kicking her heels under the table to realise he had managed to avoid her question, had answered an entirely different question and had - in fact - derailed the conversation enough to make her forget she had asked him anything at all.

    Damn him. Why did he have to be so good at that?

    "Marcus," she said, trying not to let the sharp tone in her voice show through so that his stupid prodigy mind wouldn't have enough time to think of a way to weasel out of the conversation. Again.

    "Hmm," he replied back, absorbed in his vegetables. Nina had no idea why he was so fascinated by a household chore like cooking; it seemed to her like taking an interest in hoovering.

    "Thank you for reassuring me that Anna didn't think I'm too weak to be a trainer," she said and there was now no point hiding the sharp edge because he didn't need it to see where this was going. She could almost hear the cogs start turning. "But, you see, that wasn't actually the bit that offended her delicate sensibilities so much. It seemed to be when I told her you were my fiancé."

    Marcus didn't say anything. He probably couldn't hear her over the wheels spinning in his head.

    "Do you not know that word, Marcus?" she asked and perhaps some people might say she was enjoying this too much but, screw them, she was an ex-coma patient. She had to have some fun. "It's the word for that thing you are to me. And might not be for very much longer."

    Except he did the horrible thing and stayed quiet and still, his back turned away from her so she couldn't see his face. That wasn't right, he was supposed to respond with something he thought was terribly witty and then they would both laugh at each other. You couldn't have fun teasing someone if they weren't prepared to give as good as they got, that took all the enjoyment out of it.

    And then she considered the fact that this might not have been a simple "misunderstanding" kind of misunderstanding. That this might not have been just a case of someone a bit dim thinking she looked a bit too young for him, or thinking she was a bit beneath him - because he was an academic, they said - or whatever other moronic thing people had assumed in the past. That's what she'd thought when Anna had waltzed off with Marcus, that the girl was just being an uppity cow about something she didn't understand and that he'd set her straight, but now it seemed like it was the kind of "misunderstanding" where the quotation marks didn't stand for "these morons don't get it" and stood for something more like "****, they're on to us".

    "It was just like the thing with that crazy old lady down the road, right?" she asked, craning her neck and leaning back in her chair to try and get a look at his expression, "When she thought we met because you were the doctor that treated me and got all," she did her best imitation of an old lady voice in a desperate attempt to make him laugh, any kind of response to her would do, "'That's a breach of professional ethics!' on you."

    Marcus did smile but it was thin and weak. He smiled like a man smiling because he'd just finished throwing up or a man smiling on the way to prison at a particularly pretty bird. It made Nina a bit angry - why was he so defeated all of a sudden? - but he spoke up before she could reprimand him.

    "And I had to tell her I was research scientist, not a doctor," he said and that made Nina even more annoyed because she wasn't looking to reminisce with him, goddamnit, she was looking for reassurance, "Yes, I remember that."

    "Great," she said, tersely, "And that's what happened with Anna, right? It was just someone being judgemental about us again."

    "Hmm?" Marcus hummed, as if he hadn't been following the conversation at all, "Oh, yes, of course. Yes, sorry. I just got a bit distracted by something you said there. No, she was- it was just- Anna's very young. There's a lot in the world she doesn't understand yet. I mean, she's never- she hasn't ever been in love yet and everyone in this town, before you came along, they sort of expected me to marry her sister so-"

    "Oh," Nina said, deadpan, "Melanie's little sister, huh?"

    A part at the back of Nina's brain heard the word "Melanie" and immediately applied the suffix "that *****". This explained a lot.

    "You've- you've heard of Melanie?" Marcus asked and now he was really sweating.

    "Yes," Nina said, sourly, "About a month after I got discharged. Your landlady popped round and told me all about her. At length. Repeatedly."

    "Ah," he said, pushing up the glasses not even thinking about slipping down his nose, "So you know that-"

    "Really repeatedly," Nina growled, more to herself than him. She'd been cornered by that damn woman - turned out to have been precious Melanie's auntie - harassed, hunted until she'd snapped, had a huge row with her and very nearly got both of them booted out of the flat forever.

    "Yes but that means you know that-"

    "Once she came in here when you were out and I was in the shower and talked to me about you two through the door."

    "Yes," he said, holding up a hand to try and stop the flow of words, “I understand that must have been very unpleasant for you. I- I just want to clarify that this means that you realise that Melanie and I were..." He trailed off to look for a word that would suit his prudish nature.

    "Banging?" Nina suggested.

    "Intimately involved."

    "Yeah, she included that part. Apparently you were about to propose when you met me." Take that, Melanie, the nastier part of her said and she couldn't help but grin a little.

    The affronted look on Marcus's face didn't dissuade her much. "I was not!" he said, resuming his work with the vegetables more enthusiastically than necessary, "I was considering ending it anyway - I didn't like some of the things she was prepared to do - so Ruth can't say you were the cause." Nina's face fell, she'd liked the idea of being the reason he left the village darling, but she cheered up a bit at the way he smiled when he added, "You were just the catalyst."

    As sappy as that was - for him anyway - she still couldn't resist the chance to tease him and walked into the kitchen, leaning on the countertop a little way down from him, her chin resting on her hand.

    "'You were just the catalyst'," she said, making air quotes with her fingers and rolling her eyes, "You're such a science nerd." Marcus fake-scowled and chucked a slice of pepper at her, which she caught in her mouth and chewed on as she continued because she knew his etiquette-loving self would hate that, "Maybe that's why you liked Melanie so much. She was a scientist too, right?"

    Marcus nodded. "We worked at the same laboratory in Veilstone."

    "Mm, so she could turn you on with her nerdy science-related dirty talk."

    Marcus furrowed his eyebrows at her. "Don't be crude. Of course not."

    "What?" Nina asked, trying to look genuinely surprised and finding it difficult considering the massive grin on her face, "Was she no good at nerdy dirty talk?" Marcus didn't seem to want to respond to such a vulgar comment so she inched her grin a little wide and added, in a lower voice, "I'm good at nerdy dirty talk. Is that why you picked me?"

    "No, I did not choose to spend the rest of my life with you because you are good at 'nerdy dirty talk'," Marcus said, "If that is indeed true."

    Nina put a hand to her heart, a thoroughly affronted expression on her face. "What do you mean if it's true? Don't you believe me?" She paused and narrowed her eyes at him in false suspicion, "Or is this just a clever ploy to get me to show you my nerdy dirty talking skills?"

    Marcus sighed but Nina could see he was grinning too and counted that as a victory. "No dirty talk around the food, Nina. You'll make it taste like your filthy mind and then," he said, shooing away the rogue hand sneaking towards a lone slice of pepper, "It will be inedible."

    She managed to grab the slice before he could stop her anyway and popped it in her mouth, munching happily as he chided her and revelling in her dual victory. Eventually, though, even nicking food from underneath his nose - his reactions were so slow for a pokémon trainer - got boring so she looked around for inspiration.

    It soon came.

    She hopped up to sit on the countertop in a spot a little closer to where he was and then stared off into the distance away from him. Slowly, so slowly he didn't notice at first, she leaned over to one side so that her face was near his, turned to him and whispered in his ear, in her best - but admittedly not very good - sultry voice. "I wish I were a DNA-helicase so that I could unzip your genes."

    The grimace on his face made it worth it. "Nina, that's vulgar and inaccurate. I'm not even wearing jeans right now."

    She rolled her eyes at him - pedant - as she straightened up and then, barely a minute later, leaned over again. "Hey, baby, have you got dynamic loading support? Because I have a package for you to import."

    This time he snorted. "No, you do not have a package for me, dear, because you are female. And computer science isn't even my field." He waved her away when she tried to ask him if he used his "infinite rod" for more than just calculations and frowned at his chopped vegetables, raking a hand through his hair. "Stop distracting me. I need to concentrate on the meal."

    Nina hopped off the counter as if to leave him alone and instead scooted closer to stand next to him. "So I'm distracting you," she said, grinning impishly, "The nerdy dirty talk does work."

    He turned his frown on her and groaned in exasperation. "Nina."

    Nina held up her hands in surrender and slunk away to her original spot leaning against the counter. "Rawr," she said.

    Marcus tried to sigh and chuckle at the same time. "You're such a child sometimes."

    She smiled and then occupied herself by fiddling with the little bottles of spices Marcus had lined up against the wall like the freak that he was until a question appeared in her mind and demanded to be given her immediate attention. "Why does everyone in this stupid place like," she cooed the name, "Melanie so much anyway? What did she do to have everyone love her? Save someone's kitten?"

    Marcus seemed annoyed at being interrupted yet again but answered her despite it. "This is a small community compared to most of the places nearby and Melanie has a big, close-knit family. A lot of the people you'll have met in this town will have been one of her relations. They're kind of everywhere here."

    Like an infestation, Nina thought, but decided not to say it in case one of them was listening and reported it back to base camp. "And they all hate me because I stole her boyfriend. Great."

    The corner of his mouth quirked. "I can only hope I'm worth it."

    Nina didn't know quite what to say to that - she didn't think any variation on "aaaaw" would be appreciated and she didn't want to go to her default of mocking him either - so she let the comment hang in the air and looked around the room for something else to talk about.

    "The pan's boiling over," she pointed out.

    Marcus turned round. "Fudge," he said, the closest thing to swearing the man was capable of and then raced over to take it off the hob. Nina noticed that he did not thank her for informing him of this fact but decided not to point it out as a sort of reward for being mushy and not whacking her in the face for all the dirty talk. Even if it was awesome and much better than Melanie's.

    Inspiration for said dirty talk hit again as she watched him faff about with the pasta and Nina sashayed over, nudged him in the ribs with her elbow much to his annoyance and said "You make my pan boil over."

    He stared at her. She waggled her eyebrows.

    Marcus bit down the first thing his mouth tried to spit out. "That," he said, once collected, "Is unnecessary and anatomically impossible, not to mention disgusting."

    "It's not disgusting," Nina said, "My grandparents used to say stuff like that to each other all the time. With me in the room and everything."

    "This is probably why you have such a filthy mind."

    Nina did the mature thing and flicked a cube of onion at him. He sighed.

    ******

    Soon, despite all of her so-called "interference", Marcus had a finished dish on his hands. Nina's eyebrow rose when he pulled a stack of three plates out of the cupboard and he seemed to pre-empt the question she wanted to ask.

    "I've invited Anna over. So she can get to know you better."

    Nina was appalled. "You invited one of the enemy? Into our house?"

    "No, dear, I invited a fourteen-year-old girl into our house. She is not the enemy. Her being the enemy is, in fact, precisely the situation I am trying to avoid."

    Nina harrumphed and folded her arms in front of her. "Why do you care so much if some little girl hates me? Crazy lady down the road hates me and I don't see you inviting her over for dinner."

    "That's different. Mildred hates everyone. But look," Marcus said, turning to her with a serious expression on his face, "That family is a hive mind. If I can convince one of them that you are a good thing, they will all think it or at least never admit they don't. Though I can't promise it'll make all of them actually like you."

    "And why is it important that we make that stupid colony pretend to like me?"

    Marcus stared at her. "Do I really have to explain to you why having over 60% of the population of this town openly despise you is a bad idea?"

    Nina paused, shrugged in a way that meant "I agree but hell if I'll admit it" and grumbled something incoherent back at him. Another thought soon bubbled up to the surface of her mind. "You've only got three plates out. Isn't she going to bring a parent or something?"

    Marcus shook his head and started serving up the pasta.

    "Wow, okay, so getting engaged to a girl that's not from here means total social alienation but a grown man inviting the fourteen-year-old sister of the girl he used to nail round for dinner alone is peachy keen? What the hell is wrong with this family?"

    Marcus laughed a little under his breath. "Well, I suppose it sounds a little strange when you say it like that but," he paused to lick some pasta sauce off his thumb, "It's not unusual for Real Trainer children of very young ages to be afforded more responsibility than their normal friends. I mean, when you have no issue letting your kid climb a bloody mountain, it seems a little hypocritical not to let them go out to dinner. Besides, the family knows me."

    "They don't know me," she pointed out, "Nothing stopping me from being some kind of axe-crazy psychopath."

    Marcus gave her a look and shoved a plate in her direction. "I think they have more faith in me and respect for Melanie than to assume I left her for a maniac."

    "Nah," Nina said, grabbing the offered plate, "I think they'd like that. Probably think I threatened you into leaving her and if they can expose me to everyone and rescue you from my vicious clutches, you'll go running to Veilstone and back into Melanie's arms, ready to make them a truckload of nerdy little grandbabies." Marcus shook his head at her and it was fun to wind him up so she added, "I bet Anna's a spy and she'll go back to them and report everything we do."

    "I can only hope you'll be on your best behaviour, then," he said and carried the other two plates into the dining room without another word.

    "What?" she asked, following him through with her own plate, "No 'you’re being unreasonable, no 'I'd never leave you'?"

    "Is there any point in me saying either of those things?"

    "Well, no but I'd appreciate the effort anyway."

    Marcus laughed and set the plates down on the pure white tablecloth he had draped across the table especially for this occasion, though Nina had thought the occasion in question was her becoming a trainer. He seemed to assume it made their pokey dining room look classy but she thought it made it look like a cheap restaurant and attracted dirt like a magnet.

    Nina thunked her own plate down onto the table, ignoring the way Marcus groused at her for splattering some pasta sauce on his precious tablecloth, and slumped down into a chair. “This is going to be really, really awkward, you know,” she said, petulantly.

    Marcus shook his head and shoved Lucy, who had been roused to shift from her usual perch by the prospect of food, off the table. She plopped onto the ground in a puddle of fur and hisses, twitched her ears angrily at him and waddled off back to her favourite warm spot by the radiator. “Don’t be silly, darling,” he said finally, “It’ll be fun.”

    Nina scowled. “I want that in writing.”

  19. #19
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    As she bustled to clear the plates away in the hopes Marcus would finally get the hint and boot Anna out the door, Nina found herself forced to grudgingly admit that the evening had gone quite well, though this was mainly, she felt, as a result of the fact that she had been in no way involved in the conversation. Anna had prattled on to Marcus about her machoke and how her ponyta, Alice, had beaten a bronzong and then evolved and, oh, she’d seen a vespiquen but hadn’t had any pokéballs on her and how she really wanted a swablu and did Marcus have one and blah blah bloody blah for almost the entire evening without it seemed any need for the presence of Nina or, for that matter, oxygen.

    On the one hand, she supposed it was silly not to take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity for picking up tips from two trainers far more experienced than herself but, on the other hand, being experienced certainly didn’t make them any less boring. In fact, it seemed to work out to the reverse. That young man at the pokécentre, however obnoxious, had seemed to have, in Nina’s opinion, a much better grip on how to play the part of a trainer – expensive kit, inspiring pokémon and absolutely no long conversations about the best tactical use of X-Accuracy – yet it was pretty obvious he would never get quite as far in the so-called “world” of pokémon as Anna would.

    “Before I leave,” Anna started to say and Nina almost dropped the plate she was holding because, god, please do, “I’ve brought something for Nina. You know, since she started as a,” there was a pause as if Anna felt she was about to say something quite rude, “As a Leisure Trainer today.”

    Nina nearly leapt over a chair in her haste to get to Anna because, even if the little snot was – to put it bluntly – a little snot and incredibly rude besides, a present was still a present was still a present. Marcus had barely got through to the end of his usual polite “oh, you shouldn’t have” routine by the time she’d reached the younger girl and, surprisingly, Anna didn’t feel the need to respond with her own pointless etiquette and merely shoved the small parcel into Nina’s waiting arms.

    The possibility that it was a mail-bomb or something equally ridiculous flitted briefly through Nina’s mind but - well - Anna didn’t look capable of manslaughter and she couldn’t hear any ticking so it didn’t seem likely. This worry assuaged and without further hesitation, she ripped the plain and rather hastily applied wrapping paper away, crumpled it up into a ball and flicked it in the general direction of the bin by the door.

    There was a pause and then another one and then several more before Nina managed to process the fact that she was holding a godforsaken doll. She was eighteen-years-old – or twenty-three, whatever – and about to embark on an extremely difficult, courageous enterprise and Anna, someone who presumably owned or could acquire lots of suitably trainer-related things, had chosen to give her a bloody doll.

    “Er,” she said, faintly aware that she was expected to say something at this point, “It’s a monkey.” She bounced it a little in her hand to further underline that she had grasped this point and then added, for politeness’ sake, “Cute. Thanks.”

    “Chimchar,” Marcus grit out, sounding about as pleased with the gift as Nina was and, curiously, a lot angrier, “It’s a chimchar.”

    “Yeah,” Anna said, without much feeling, “I thought you’d like it.” She sounded, though Nina couldn’t really understand why, like she was reading her words off a script.

    Another moment of fierce, almost oppressive silence passed as Nina tried to work out why Marcus looked like he was about to explode and Anna looked like she fully expected said explosion to kill her. She opened her mouth to say something to ease the tension like “That was very nice of you, Anna” or “I shall treasure it forever” or some similar sort of vapid lie but then Marcus was already standing next to Anna with a hand on her shoulder, all but dragging her out of the room.

    “I’ll just show you out,” he said and Anna grunted in resigned agreement like he was leading her to a violent death she had accepted a long time ago. In another second, they were gone in a haze of inexplicably fast movement and Nina was left by herself. Standing in the middle of the dining room.

    Holding a chimchar doll.

    “It’s not that bad a present,” she said, more to herself than anyone else.

    Predictably nothing happened and soon Nina began to get bored of waiting for Marcus to return from the apparently lengthy expedition to the door and back. She looked around for something to occupy herself with, before noticing that the screwed-up ball of cheap wrapping paper she had discarded earlier had failed to make it to the bin, despite her excellent aiming skills.

    “I might as well pick it up,” she said, before realising that talking to both herself and a fat mouse on the same day was pushing the boundaries of sanity a little bit. Either way, though, it was still a valid point so she walked over to the bin and bent down to pick up her own mess, something she was sure Marcus would be terribly proud of, if he wasn’t still busy throwing Anna out into the street.

    It was at that point, however, with her head brought nearer the door by her own tidy and responsible actions, that she realised Marcus was – in fact – not busy throwing Anna out into the street, since she could hear him talking to her in a hushed but angry whisper.

    She raised an eyebrow and leant even closer to the closed door, having already convinced herself that it wasn’t eavesdropping if you did it by accident and were also an ex-coma patient with a confusing fiancé.

    “I know what you’re attempting to do and it’s not going to work,” she heard him say and the other eyebrow then arched up to join its fellow. She had known, after all, that Anna was up to something but she hadn’t thought Marcus had believed her.

    Anna’s voice was so quiet it barely penetrated the wood Nina’s ear was now pressed against and so she was forced to hold her breath to catch the apologetic words. “I’m sorry,” and to Anna’s credit she sounded like she meant it, “but there would have been a fight if I’d refused and- and I don’t want to leave things with my family on a bad note.”

    Marcus grunted without much sympathy. “It was unkind.”

    The young girl laughed almost hysterically at these words and the remorse in her voice fled like it had never been there. “Unkind?” she asked, raising her voice incredulously so that Nina could breathe again, “Unkind? What the hell do you think this is? This stupid,” she fumbled her words for a moment, “Experiment of yours is unkind!”

    Experiment?

    “Now you listen here,” Marcus said and the fact that he hadn’t said anything like “what experiment?” weighed heavy on Nina’s mind before even worse thoughts washed it away.

    “No! It’s bad enough they’ve lost her, they shouldn’t have to deal with watching you make an absolute mess of your life as well. Especially with the memories it brings.”

    Her? Melanie, part of Nina hissed and her fingers tightened on the bin she had clutched onto to steady herself before more questions started to trickle past the dam of her blind loathing. Lost her? Surely Melanie had been living in Veilstone before she’d even met Marcus? Who had lost her? And what mess? Did Anna mean her?

    “I apologise if it upsets them,” Marcus said and his voice was curt but, at the same time, carried a hint of painful understanding, “But what happened was... not my fault. I couldn’t have known.”

    Silence.

    “The accident wasn’t your fault either.”

    Nina’s breath caught in her throat and the world seemed to spin and then still around her. She told herself very firmly that Anna couldn’t mean that accident, not her accident, but the tone of voice was rather damning evidence. Besides, she reminded herself, who around here said “the accident” and ever meant anything but that?

    Marcus barked out a humourless laugh. “That’s not what your mother thinks.”

    “That’s not what you think either, is it?”

    Another pause and then the words: “If I had just been more patient.”

    There, the part of Nina’s mind that still worked said, it can’t be about you. Anna has no reason to talk about your accident and- and Marcus and his apparent lack of patience had nothing to do with what happened. She tried to convince herself to believe it as the dire conversation outside thundered on.

    “You need to move on, Marcus.”

    It took another moment before it all clicked into place. Not me, she realised, but her.

    “I am moving on!” Marcus snapped and Nina didn’t need her ear to the door to hear him now. “This is how I cope, how we cope.”

    Anna’s voice was soft with surprise, sadness and what sounded to Nina like a threat. “We?”

    “Yes, we.” The words were final and decisive and gained an equally dramatic response.

    “You’re sick.”

    “Get out of my house, Anna. This conversation is over.”

    “I mean, really. You are sick in the head,” Anna hissed and her voice was fierce enough to lodge in Nina’s mind a conjured image of the ranting teenager she couldn’t see, face red and hands flailing. “You looked like you were strong enough to get a grip on yourself when I left but- but now look at you. You’re stuck here, still crying like it happened yesterday. How long before you get over it, Marcus, tell me that. When it’s been five years? Or ten years? Or do you just plan to live out the rest of your life in this stupid, pathetic existence, bawling like a baby?”

    If the young girl had hoped to get a rise out of Marcus, she seemed – from the calm, even sound of his voice – to have failed. “I would rather cry for the rest of my life than not cry at all.”

    “Don’t you dare!” Anna shouted, “Don’t you dare. She was my sister.”

    “And yet you bound off into the wilderness and leave your family in their time of need,” Marcus sneered with a callousness that Nina wasn’t used to hearing from him.

    “I was following my dreams!” Anna cried, a tad desperately, “I was moving on with my life! I was doing what she would have wanted me to do!”

    “Really, Anna? You think she wanted you to break your mother’s heart? Yes, you,” he spat, “Not me. You’re a fool if you think your mother would fall to ruin over anything I did. I never mattered a bit to her, not even back then.”

    “You liar. You bastard.”

    There was the sound of stomping footfalls as they both made their way to front door. “Good luck getting the Relic badge,” Marcus said with not a hint of good feeling in his voice and then Nina heard the front door slam.

    ******

    When Marcus returned some time later, Nina was collapsed with her back against the door frame, trying to remember how to breathe. The light glinting on his glasses didn’t quite manage to obscure the fresh tear tracks on his face and the smile he gave her as he helped her up from the floor begged her to pretend they weren’t there.

    “So I’m guessing you heard that,” he said, with a soft laugh.

    “I think the whole street heard that,” she replied.

    “Really?” he said, trying for some kind of gentle teasing to crack the ice forming over and under and between them, “I didn’t realise the whole street was listening at the door.”

    She failed to return the jab and the pleading, frozen grin thawed and faded from his face. “Marcus,” she begged.

    “I’ll explain, Nina, I will. Just not now. I can’t now.”

    “Tell me one thing.”

    “Nina, I-”

    “One thing, that’s all I ask.”

    The finality in her voice seemed to persuade him so she asked herself if she really wanted to know this and then went on.

    “Marcus, why didn’t you tell me Melanie was dead?”

    He exhaled like he’d expected this and then tried and failed to look her in the eye. Tears slid down his face again and, when he finally found his voice, the words rattled and shook like he couldn’t bear to say them.

    “Because it’s my fault she died.”

    ******

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Chapter 2

    Firstly I'd just like to point out that on the most part the spelling and grammar were superb, and this really helped, because it was a pretty long chapter, with the flow and so you were able to read it non stop not having to go over things or sit there puzzled for a little while. There were however one or two errors, with a word missing here or there, but besides that very nice to read and it easily flowed from start to finish.

    This also helps get the plot and main points of the chapter across, which I feel you executed marvelously. I could really feel the tension between Marcus and Anna towards the end, remarkable conversation between the two and exactly how I'd imagine something like that to occur. Also adding in Nina, you really cleverly and quickly developed her character without me really noticing it until the end when I remembered how the start of the chapter was, and how different Nina was. So very clever subtle pointers there that helped mold her character in a new way. Lastly on characters, Emily... what a wonderful Pokemon he is. And again, the way you portray him is remarkable too, all in all I can't wait to see how he and Nina truly develop together. Both, as you stated in the chapter, want something different to what they have but I love how you've made them both realize that they need each other more than anything else. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

    The plot itself escalated dramatically here! A few twists and turns that I really didn't expect, some characters lives just blew up in a matter of seconds, or characters relationships completely took a new turn thanks to one or two words. The only thing I can say about this is how crafty you are to place these things in, and suddenly have to reverse, what seems to the reader, the complete essence of the chapter or story or main plot and turn it up on its head and tackle it at a new angle. I really did expect that Marcus and Nina would have a breeze through the next few chapters after the initial revelation to Nina and bam! They're in a new predicament with their relationship!

    So yes overall an amazing chapter. Well done!

    Most Recent Chapter - Chapter 31: Don't Forget Me - Posted 26/01/13
    Credits to Sweet May and DanChimchar

    I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence

  21. #21
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    Dec 2009
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    London
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    @harryheart: Thank you for your kind words and sorry that I've taken such a long time to get back to you. I'm really glad you liked the chapter and I'll go over it and try to find the mistakes I missed. Also some of the life explosions came as a surprise to me too and the last scene with Anna was originally going to happen later in the story so I'm really happy they didn't seem to sudden or forced.

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