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Thread: Roots // PG-13

  1. #126
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    You don't have to give me suggestions if you don't want to, but don't be afraid to say what you like/didn't like. I try to take all my reviews into account when I'm writing.

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    The story of Professor Rowan - Chapter 42 is up!

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  2. #127
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    Here's chapter thirteen, everyone. Hope you like it!


    A note before we begin: In one scene, you'll find Bertha talking to some people about chemicals. I'm not a chemistry major, nor do I intend to be, so I don't get too detailed in the names. I use the term 'fluorine compound' loosely, so if any of you happen to be learned in chemistry and think its placement here is completely bogus, know that I just use it for literary purposes. If it's that bad, then feel free to tell me how to make it better. :P

    That is all.


    1.3

    The next morning, a thin layer of fog hung over the town. Michael and Henry had slipped out of bed early, and by the time the sun showed, they were in Route 205, walking in the generous shade of the trees along the path they had traced the previous day.

    The Starly they captured had remained obedient, thanks to a spare pokéball Henry happened upon in his bag. The previous night, he had captured it and made it his own. The Starly was now perched snugly on Henry’s arm, where it pruned its feathers with its beak and squawked every so often.

    They had practiced with what they had, shouting commands back-and-forth and directing the attacks towards trees. Their lack of a fire type still worried Michael, and he wasn’t sure if he could devise a good plan without one. He had brought his chart along, and managed to take down some notes. So far, their circumstances looked pretty bleak. He didn’t even know what pokémon Bertha had.

    They were now walking back to her house, Michael in the lead. His stomach was beginning to rumble, and after the previous night’s dinner, he was eager to see what she would have for breakfast.

    When they got to the house, however, what Michael saw surprised him. Bertha was stepping down from the porch, dressed in a stiff, formal dress, and carrying a large handbag that could only mean she was going somewhere.

    When she saw them, Bertha paused mid-step, lips parted. “Boys? What are you doing? I thought you were still sleeping.”

    “We went out early to train,” Michael said. “Where are you going?”

    Bertha zipped open the purse and placed her keys inside. “That’s not important. But I’m leaving you two in charge of the house while I’m gone, okay? Make breakfast, but clean up after you’re done. I have pancake mix, eggs, anything you like. Cereal’s in the pantry. Got that?”

    Michael and Henry nodded.

    “Great. I’m off then. Don’t burn the place down.” She winked, and walked off.

    “Wait!” Michael said. “What about the battle?”

    Bertha turned around. “Oh don’t worry, I’ll only be about two hours. Two-and-a half tops. What you should be thinking about is a plan! Remember, I’m not easy to beat.”

    “Okay. Thanks.”

    “Bye.” Bertha waved, then went on her way. Michael entered the house, going immediately to the kitchen to get the pancake mix from the pantry.

    “So she’s leaving the whole house to us?” Henry said. He looked around in wonder.

    “Yep. Two hours all to ourselves.” Michael turned the box over and read the back cover. He had never tried to cook before, and almost all early childhood attempts at make brownies had resulted in failure, mostly due to his lack of patience when it came to the baking part. Richard would often sabotage the liquid mix while it was still in the oven, leaving next to nothing when Michael took it back out.

    “Well, we should probably get started,” Michael said. “Do you know how to make pancakes?”

    Henry shrugged. “No. Just follow the instructions, I guess?”

    Michael read the label again. “It says I need an egg, butter, half-cup of milk, and one cup of mix. Can you get all that?”

    “Hey, why me?”

    “Because I’m the director of this project, and you’re the one who gets things done.” Michael had said this completely seriously, but he couldn’t help but smile at his own tone.

    Henry obliged, and placed the gathered ingredients onto the counter. For the next few minutes, the boys struggled with the ingredients, opening packages, tossing scraps into the waste basket, and stirring the liquid mix with a beater Michael had found in one of the many kitchen drawers. The sink was soon filled with piles of dirty dishes and utensils, as he and Henry sampled and measured the ingredients.

    When the time finally came to ready the stove, Henry approached with a heat-resistant glove on (Michael told him not to be a sissy, but he didn’t listen) and carefully buttered the skillet. They ladled the mix in parts, flipping the pancakes until they were brown on both sides, and divided them onto plates.

    They sat down at the dining table twenty minutes later. Michael took a bite out of the finished product, and was pleased when it tasted all right.

    “She has a really pretty house,” Henry commented from the other chair. In the morning, the sunlight scattered around the walls, and seemed to light the kitchen up from the inside.

    “Yeah, I guess.” Michael looked around. Bertha had a fireplace, and it faced the kitchen from a small anteroom that accommodated an armchair. There were photographs on her mantle, but what Michael’s eyes lingered on was a small metal tray at the center. It was made of black wire, though he could see what it contained—three silver balls.

    He got up.

    “Where are you going?” Henry lowered his fork.

    “I think this is where she keeps her pokémon,” Michael said. He approached the mantle. Sure enough, there were pokéballs in the tray, winking at him in the light. He took one into his hands, and smiled.

    “Wait!” Henry ran after him. “I don’t think we should be touching them.”

    “Why not? Think about it. We have the whole battle in our hands right here.” He held up two pokéballs. “If we could release them and take a look, I could get a better idea of what their types are, and how to counter them! It’s a total save!”

    “I don’t know. Bertha’s really nice, and it wouldn’t be right to snoop around while we’re guests in her home. It’s cheating.”

    “Please. If she really didn’t want us to look, she’d have taken them with her when she left.” He twisted the knob on the first one, but Henry grabbed his wrist.

    “No!”

    Michael pulled away. “Let go!”

    “It’s not right!”

    “Don’t be a baby. She won’t even know we looked. We’ll just put them back exactly as we found them.”

    Henry crossed his arms and turned away. “Fine. You can look, but I won’t.”

    “Suit yourself.” Michael unscrewed the knob and shut his eyes against the burst of light that followed. When it faded, he looked down.

    A Turtwig lay at his feet, shaking itself awake. Its back was to Michael, and for the first few seconds, it stared at the opposite wall in confusion. Then it turned around to face him.

    From the side, Henry looked over his shoulder. “A Turtwig!” he said. The curiosity was edging back into his face, though he did not move as Michael kneeled down and looked at it. The Turtwig had realized that Michael was not its trainer, and was looking at him with its head cocked to the side.

    “These things are everywhere,” Michael murmured. “I don’t think there’s anything special about this one, do you?”

    Henry shook his head. “It doesn’t look like it. And well, it’s not different-colored like yours.”

    “Let’s just hope it can’t shoot a sonic boom out of its mouth,” Michael said, and returned it back into the pokéball. “Why else would a Gym leader have a Turtwig?”

    He swapped the pokéball for another, and opened the second. Out came a Cherrim. The pokémon had been sleeping too, and its petals were still folded in a shell around it.

    “Hey, it’s a Cherrim!” Henry said. “Like the ones we saw on the bushes the other day.”

    “They’re grass types too,” Michael said. “Still no surprises.”

    “It shouldn’t be too hard, though, right?”

    “Don’t know. Have you ever seen a Cherrim battle?”

    Henry shook his head.

    “Well then, I guess we will tonight.” Michael called the sleeping Cherrim back inside, and took down the final pokéball.

    He opened it, shut his eyes, and when he opened them again, they instantly widened in surprise.

    “Whoa!” Henry slid down to the floor for a closer look. “What is that?”

    “It’s a Roselia,” Michael said, though he himself wasn’t so sure. The pokémon that had appeared was bigger and bulkier than any Roselia he had ever seen. The pokémon had a tuft of white hair growing from the crown of its head, and some more forming a ring around its neck. Its head was rounder, and the blooms at the end of each arm were larger and frillier. “I mean... it looks like one, but—”

    “But its growth spurt went out of wack?” Henry looked at him. Coming from his mouth, Michael’s words took on a new light.

    The Roselia-thing was looking at them in confusion, probably wondering why these two random kids were staring and chattering at it. Michael reached out to stroke its head. The thing permitted the contact, but never took its eyes off him. The hair on its head was soft and wispy.

    “Maybe it’s the factory again,” Henry said. “You know, all those chemicals everywhere could be causing mutations. Remember the Horsea in the river?”

    Michael nodded. “Yeah...”

    “Well, that’s enough looking I think.” Henry snatched the pokéball from Michael’s hands and returned the Roselia-thing. He placed the pokéball back on the mantle. “So are you gonna add them to the chart? They’re all grass types, so we only have to think of one counter.”

    Michael was still on his knees, staring up at the window. “But the mutation. How could a Roselia change like that? If it’s from the chemicals, I bet you that its appearance wasn’t the only thing they altered.”

    “We could always ask Bertha about it,” Henry said. “But that would kinda give us away.”

    “We don’t have to ask her. I have a better idea.” Michael got up and went back to the kitchen. Henry followed.

    “We’re going to find out more about these mutations,” Michael said. He took his backpack from the floor and slung it over his shoulder. “Let’s go.”



    //////



    The Eterna Courthouse was the town’s oldest standing building. It had been built in 1704, a date which was engraved on a gold plaque right above its giant wooden doors. The building itself was huge, with a giant bell and prim-faced statues flanking its sides.

    A few years ago, a restoration project had reinforced it with steel beams and replaced the roof with shingles, but other than that the building’s original architecture remained untouched. The imaginative mind would fill its seats with juries, its podiums with wig-wearing judges, and the cells of its tiny jail with stooping prisoners.

    But aside from being a tourist attraction, the building itself served little purpose. Crime had never been a pastime in Eterna as far as Bertha knew, and she would often spot the sheriff walking around with an apple, his handcuffs clacking emptily against his belt as he searched for something to do with himself.

    Bertha pushed open the double doors and went inside. The interior of the courthouse was almost entirely made of wood, and the main feature was a pair of stairs that stood on either end of the lobby, leading up to the balconies. It was not the stairway that she turned to, however. Bertha went immediately to a side door—one that was plain and mostly unnoticeable against the wall—and stepped through into a tiny, musty room.

    The room’s only piece of furniture was a large wooden table, one that took up almost all the space and left only a little wiggle room for chairs. Three men sat behind it, through there was enough space between them to affirm that they were not together. The man on the left was dressed in full business attire, and his hair had that wet, gelled-back look that made him look suspiciously fish-like. The man in the middle wore a simple shirt and tie, without any other accessories. The last man had abandoned formality altogether, sitting quite comfortably in a t-shirt and jeans.

    The men had all been staring in separate directions, each perhaps going off on his own trail of thought, but when Bertha stepped through the door, their eyes locked on her.

    Bertha lowered her purse onto the table, but did not sit down. She gave a curt nod. “Hello.”

    The man in the t-shirt nodded back. “Hello, Bertha. Glad you could make it.” He attempted a smile, but it quickly faded, and the room returned to its previous gloom.

    After a brief pause, the man in the middle spoke. “All right, we’re all here, now let’s get to the point. What’s the problem and why’ve you called us here?”

    “You know what the problem is,” Bertha said. “The whole town knows it. We see it every day when we look north.”

    “If you’re talking about the factory—”

    “Yes! I’m talking about the factory, Darrel! That thing’s been a problem since the day it got put up, and it’s getting worse and worse every day.”

    “To my knowledge,” the man in the suit cut in, “everything’s been fine up to this point. I don’t understand where your complaints suddenly came from.”

    “That’s because you live by Cycling Road. Of course you don’t have any complaints, because you’re not the one who’s up all night not able to get a wink of sleep while there’s a fucking earthquake in your backyard!” This last shout had been loud, and Bertha felt a tiny ripple of pain in her throat. She suppressed a cough. She had planned to start off calm, but apparently her control wasn’t with her today.

    “If the noise is so bad, why hasn’t anyone complained?” Darrel said. “Surely if it was an issue worth pointing out, somebody would have said something in... oh I don’t know, the past year or so?”

    “Oh, they have. I personally went around and gathered these statements.” Bertha took a folder from her purse and opened it. She took out a single paper and laid it down on the table. “You might know Mrs. Danbury, the lady who keeps a berry farm right by the forest. She used to be able to bring basketfuls of Orans and Spelons to the market. Now, every other season of crops ends up dropping dead. Look.”

    The men leaned in closer. Clipped to the papers was a photograph of a field, each bush dotted with berries of various colors. Everything was covered in a white Christmas of tiny flakes.

    “I took that picture last year, in July. All the plants from that season ended up shriveling, and Mrs. Danbury said that she couldn’t plant anything in the soil for over five months. Then there’s this.” Bertha took out another paper-clipped stack that she placed on top of the first one. “This is a medical report. The Eburway’s kids all got sick a few months ago. Headaches, dizziness, weak bones, and lots of coughing. Before that, they were in perfect health. They played in the meadow every afternoon, but now they can hardly walk.”

    Devon looked at all this, and shook his head. “So? It’s illusion of correlation. Maybe it was a blight that killed Mrs. Danbury’s plants. Maybe the Eburway kids have inherent disabilities. Maybe the flakes are the result of insecticides. There are hundreds of factors that can be in play. What makes you think the factory is the one behind all this?”

    Bertha’s face tightened. “Don’t think I haven’t done my research! I keep a garden of my own, right by the meadow, and every time a breeze comes around from the factory’s direction, I see those flakes. If the wind’s strong enough, they’ll get into the streets too, and slip in through the cracks in people’s doors!”

    “It’s a baseless assumption!” he protested. “You can’t possibly prove that the flakes are coming from the factory from the simple observation that they come from its direction.”

    “Then maybe you’d like to explain why there were none before?”

    “This problem could easily be solved by chemical testing,” said Darrel. “We need to know exactly what the flakes are in terms of chemical structure.”

    “Way ahead of you.” Bertha placed yet another sheet of paper onto the table. “They’re a fluorine compound, which is produced under extreme conditions when certain gases are mixed. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine anywhere in Eterna where people mix gases for a living.”

    Thomas exhaled. “Bertha, I’d love to believe you, but unless we know the factory’s exact chemical procedure, we can’t safely assume that they’re the cause of this.”

    “And besides,” Devon said. “They are making computer parts. I’ve done my fair share of reading, and I can say that nowhere in that process is a fluorine compound used.”

    “Then they must be making something else,” Bertha said.

    “Look, we could argue about this all day,” Darrel said. “Bertha, you get us real, solid proof that these flakes are coming from the factory and nowhere else, and then we’ll be happy to talk with you. But until then, goodbye.” He gave her a casual little wave, but Bertha did not move.

    She leaned forward to rest her elbows on the table, trying to keep her voice steady. “You guys are the heads. Of. Council. You have got to stop living in this dream, where everything’s going great and the town’s this perfect picture of happiness, because it’s not. I know things have been pretty smooth for us before; you can ask anyone else who’s lived here since they were a kid and they’ll tell you the same. We’ve gotten away with hiding from the world for a damn good while, but now’s the time to come out. This factory is the perfect example. Out there,” Bertha stretched out her hand panning it across a general direction, “past our little farms and houses, is a world that’s moving forward. We can either step up and move along with it, or get sucked dry by assholes like them.”

    “We’ve maintained amiable relations with Galactic so far,” Devon said. “Hell, they’re helping us. Without the twenty-grand bonus they pay us every year, we’d have gone bankrupt a long time ago.”

    At this, Bertha lost all poise and control. She threw her head back and began to laugh, clutching her stomach as she gasped and shook. The men watched as she stumbled back, hit the door, and came back to the table, wiping her eyes.

    “I really don’t see anything funny—” Devon began.

    “Oh, look around!” Bertha cried. “That damn company is sucking us dry! Every year, when we’re supposedly getting our bonus, our streets crack and the houses rot on their foundations! I’ve been trying to get a Gym built here for months now. Months! Do you know what that means for me, being a Gym leader? It means that I have no facility. I have to conduct battles in a basement, for God’s sake! Trainers go through hell and back trying to find the place, and then they have nowhere to stay too, so I have to give them any extra room I can spare and give them the food off my own plate so they don’t starve! I wouldn’t mind it either, if it were necessary. But it’s not. Go to any Gym town in Sinnoh, and you’ll see huge, beautiful Gyms and luxury hotel rooms. And what do I have? Garbage!” She slapped the table, and let the silence hang for a moment.

    “I don’t know what the hell you’re spending that money on, but if it’s more important to you than our town’s image and success, then please tell me what it is so I won’t have to waste my time on this anymore. Celestic’s been wanting a Gym standing for a while now. Maybe I should give ours to them.”

    For the first time that morning, the three men exchanged a single glance.

    “Galactic is eating right out of our plates,” Bertha pressed, “and we’re not doing anything about it. This ‘business deal’ you have going on is killing us. Not only that; it’s practically killing the Pokémon League. There hasn’t been a single Gym repair or full trainer scholarship since Galactic rose to power.”

    “All right, so what do you want us to do?” said Devon. “You want us to go in there with torches and pitchforks? Maybe form a mob or some protest rally, demanding that they leave?”

    “Diplomacy isn’t exactly working either, if you haven’t noticed already.” Bertha pulled out a stack of letters from her purse. The rubber band that held them together was pulled thin. “I’ve written to them a thousand times, and all I get are stupid delays; morons trying to bide time and stretch words.”

    Darrel looked up at her, eyes narrowed. “Have you written to Thealus?”

    “If the henchmen haven’t given me anything, what makes you think their boss will? Sure, I can spend the rest of my life writing to Veilstone, waiting month after month on some false hope that someone will hear me. But why should I? Galactic’s shown me that it can’t negotiate. Either that, or it doesn’t want to. Now, they can go to some other industrialized town and by all means spew their nonsense there. But not here.” She took a breath, and continued. “I want to settle this as peacefully as possible. I’m planning on starting a petition. If I get the signature of all the Gym leaders plus a backing from the Gym towns themselves, then maybe, just maybe, that old coot will hear us. By all means, I want Galactic and the League to coexist. Is it possible? I think it is. And maybe we can. But we’ll never know for sure if the only person trying to do something is me.”

    She stepped back away from the table and crossed her arms, a gesture she hoped would tell the men that it was all up to them now. They looked to each other again, and whispered back and forth for a while.

    Finally, they parted. Thomas was the first to look up. “All right. We’ll back your petition.”

    “But I beg you, be careful!” Devon cut in. “We can’t make a public scene of this. These are very strenuous times, and if we make one wrong move, it could destroy us! Galactic is what’s moving the country forward, improving millions of lives, and if we throw mud at their image, the consequences could be disastrous!”

    Bertha smiled. “Disastrous? Who the hell cares about some tiny farm town?”



    //////



    On the subject of Team Galactic’s boss, Thealus Blue, little is actually known. To Bertha, he is a faceless entity hiding behind a letterhead, as two-dimensional as the stamped logo of his corporation. To the rest of Sinnoh, he’s the inner mechanism of the Space Race, the mystical force that turns the wheels of progress.

    The associates of Team Galactic never communicate with their boss, yet strangely, his presence can be felt everywhere. Behind the company’s logo is a story, they say, though the man who wrote it has been lost to the ages. The few who are lucky enough to be in daily contact with Blue are as tight-lipped as he himself.

    Thealus Blue made one public statement in 1948, under a different name, while the Space Program was still in its first years of life. However, all recordings are now lost to history, and anybody seeking to contact him will get the address of a P.O. box in Veilstone, a bleak, dead end.



    //////



    “Hey! Sir, wait! Wait up!”

    The crowds of the Eterna marketplace parted as a woman pushed her way through, leading with an arm stretched high over her face. In her hand she clutched a microphone, pathetically offering it to the air while she trudged through the tents and stands. A bulky cameraman trailed after her, and as they neared, all people within a ten-foot radius scurried away, baskets pressed to their chests. Their eyes lingered on the giant, gleaming device balanced on the man’s shoulder, and the speakers that protruded like menacing horns above the lens. As the woman plowed relentlessly forward, he scurried in her wake, shooting quick glances of apology to the people she shoved aside.

    The woman paid them all no mind, for her hawk-like gaze was fixed on something in the distance. It captivated her whole attention, blocking out everything else around her. She was the image of exhaustion—skirt splattered with mud, hair disheveled, press badge hanging askew, and yet she still managed to hold onto a businesslike composure that set her apart as a professional. She waded through the crowd as if through water.

    “Can you see him? Can you see him?” The cameraman strained to look over her shoulder.

    “He went behind a stand,” said the woman. “Shit, this guy’s good.”

    “You know, I think we’re being too obvious,” said the cameraman. He looked to the side, just as a group of shoppers turned away, muttering. “Can we at least lose the equipment? The camera just gives it all away.”

    The woman shook her head. “No. He already knows our faces. We’ll just have to be fast.”

    A man, seemingly from nowhere, presently stumbled onto the path with an armful of fruit. The woman wedged herself in front of him, bumping him against a pole.

    “Move it!”

    The man doubled over with a grunt, and the fruit spilled over into the dirt. The cameraman stepped around and hastily picked them up.

    “Sorry! Sorry. She didn’t mean it. She’s usually really nice, it’s just that—“

    “NED, GET OVER HERE!”

    “Coming, coming! Here.” He shoved the fruit into the man’s hands and scurried off, leaving the unlucky patron to his own devices.

    Ned hobbled over to the place where the woman was standing. They were at a crossroads within the marketplace, bordered on all sides by noise and movement.

    “Nancy, how much longer is this gonna take?” said Ned. “My shoulder’s about to pop.”

    “It doesn’t matter. He can’t run forever,” said Nancy.

    “Well, neither can we...”

    Nancy gritted her teeth. “We will if we have to. I don’t care if it takes the rest of the day. We’ll catch him.”

    “We’ve been at this for half an hour, and all on the slim hope that this random guy will talk to us. But what if he doesn’t?”

    “He will. Now will you help me look or not?”

    They walked, and passed another booth. This one had a small circle of people around it, slowly growing. But despite the crowd, the salesman managed to lock eyes directly with Nancy. He waved.

    “Hey, miss! Care to try the new Wonder Fish? Caught right here in Eterna, and only sixty cents a pound!” He held up a strip of pale meat.

    Nancy bit her lip and kept walking. The best tactic to ignore a pesterer was to give them the cold shoulder. Once she affirmed that Ned was following along, she picked up the pace and began to search.

    The market was nowhere near as packed as the city was, but it lacked an internal infrastructure, which made it all the more chaotic. What could have been a nice street block with sidewalks was a jumble of tents and stands, with people running about like ants in a hole. The grass was expired—uncut, and in some places, trampled down to dirt. But one of the things Nancy Bryan was good at was adapting, and adapt she would.

    She panned across the scene, shielding her face from the light, trying to discern something among the hundred moving bodies. She had not seen the man’s face yet, but she had seen enough to pick him out of the crowd—tweed suit, hat, briefcase. A typical businessman, on a not-so-businesslike regime.

    “Got him.” Nancy spoke without turning. The man had reappeared again, and was now retreating into a tent, the brown of his coat passing in and out of view. The briefcase, black and sleek, was held stiffly at his side.

    The other shoppers—who either didn’t notice him or were too busy to care—moved out of his way as he literally cut a path through them.

    “Where is he? I can’t see him.” Ned spun around in circles, bending under the weight of the camera.

    “By the tent. Come on!” Nancy broke into a jog. She dodged her way through the tent, keeping the man in view. When she came upon him he was out in the open, slowing beside a meat booth.

    Careful to stay quiet, Nancy jumped behind a nearby pile of crates. Ned followed suit, and they both peered over the top to get a better look.

    The man had not noticed their approach. He was looking around at the stand, though he didn’t seem particularly interested in anything they were selling. He leaned over and muttered something to the salesperson, who chuckled.

    Ned lifted the camera to his eye, closing in on the briefcase. “Whoa. Double-whammy. I wonder what he’s got in there...”

    Nancy waved the camera away. “Not yet!”

    Ignoring her, Ned continued to focus the lens. “No way. I’m getting shots of this.” The camera began to click.

    At that moment, something in the man’s bearing changed. His shoulder’s stiffened, as if someone had blown cold air down on his neck. The man turned around slowly, and his eyes locked on the camera.

    Nancy froze. A second later, she ducked back behind the crates, but by then it was too late. The man’s eyes widened, and then he walked off briskly in the opposite direction.

    “You idiot!” Nancy slapped the camera away from Ned’s face. “He heard you!”

    “Hey, relax! I just wanted a picture.”

    Nancy rolled her eyes. She straightened, brushing crumbs of dirt from her skirt. “Fine. Let’s go.”

    They started forward again, following the man’s beeline through the marketplace. He continued to stop at several booths along the way, and did the same thing at each of them — paced, looked around, and left without a word. And no matter how crowded it was, every time the crew approached, the man would turn his head to the exact spot where they stood, look at them for a few seconds, then disappear again. He moved swiftly, and even with all the effort in the world, still too quickly.

    Nancy was exhausted. She began biting her lip again (which she swore she would never do again after a viewer had laughed at the red blotches), and pushed up the sleeves of her shirt periodically. Her eyes were restless, scanning the crowd for any sight of the man. Behind her, Ned paused frequently to rub his back, shifting the camera from one shoulder to the other.

    When they finally overtook him, the man was well on his way towards the exit. Nancy ran up to the sidewalk, waving her microphone in the air like a flag. Her skin gleamed with sweat, and her hair stuck to her face and neck.

    “Sir!” she called. “Wait!” The man turned around. The discombobulated crew of two pulled themselves up onto the sidewalk. Nancy scampered over, blocking the man’s path before he could leave. “Sir! Can I get a moment?”

    The man looked up, a sneer turning his lips, as if it had all been some game of chase. Nancy ran a finger through her hair and flashed a smile.

    “Hi! My name is Nancy Bryan, and I’m with Sinnoh Now. I’m on the hunt for everything that’s hip and happening all across the country. I’d like to take no more than two minutes of your time to ask you a few questions. Is it true that Team Galactic is building something in the Eterna factory?” She thrust the microphone into the man’s face, and he shook his head.

    “No comment.” He turned to leave, but Nancy jumped in front of him again.

    “What’s the nature of this project?” she pressed. “Is it a new piece of technology?”

    “I said no comment.” The man continued walking. Nancy Bryan followed, her voice rising.

    “Is it an electronic device of some sort? A computer? A—”

    “Enough!” The man pushed the microphone away with his fist, just inches away from hitting Nancy in the nose. “And get that blasted camera out of my face! If you even think about putting this on TV, I’ll put a million-dollar lawsuit on your heads! You hear? Go home!”

    Nancy watched him leave, her shoulders drooped. Forgetting her businesslike composure, she hung her head like a child, letting the microphone dangle from her hand. “Turn it off, Ned.”

    The cameraman lowered the device and placed a lens cap over the camera’s gaping eye. “Hey, no worries. At least we tried.”

    “Tried doesn’t cut it!” Nancy snapped up, turning to face her companion. She tightened her grip on the microphone. “What’s wrong with me? Everywhere I go I get spat on like some creature! The SNN reporters don’t get half as much bullshit as I do, and their stories are crap!”

    “Calm down,” said Ned. “I’m sure we’ll find a good one if we keep looking. No offense, but Eterna’s not the best place you could’ve picked.”

    Nancy glared at him. “Gee thanks. Thanks a bunch. That really makes me feel better, you know, especially after I drove twenty miles over here, no air conditioning, the sun baking my skin like a freakin’ toaster, having to fix two flat tires along the way, and dealing with you and Tom singing karaoke songs in the back!”

    Ned raised both hands in defense. “Nancy, just be rational. Team Galactic obviously doesn’t want to talk to us. That’s not worth beating ourselves up over. There are a lot of good stories out there, and I don’t see a point in spending the rest of eternity chasing this one.”

    “No! Don’t you get it?” Nancy said. “Team Galactic has never done an interview before. Never! Just think of the credit we’d get if we got just a one-page story about them. A single sentence, even. But they won’t fucking let us in! I hate that!” She doubled over, and her eyes spilled over with tears. Wet mascara ran down her cheeks in little gobs. “I hate this! I just... I’m just so sick... and tired of constantly having to accept junk! You know that? And when you keep accepting junk over and over and over again, that’s what you become. My life is junk.” She buried her face in her hands. Pretty soon, her sobbing could be heard from within.

    Ned patted her back. “Come on. Don’t cry, Nancy. Your life’s not junk.”

    “Yes it is!” Nancy wrenched out of his grip. “I am sick of you and Tom and Bobby always bugging me about doing some random story. Yeah, sure, I could give up and just do a report on a supermarket scandal, what will I be doing different from the other hundred networks out there? That’s right, nothing! If I can’t get people to talk to me like I’m normal and the SNN people can, then my life is pointless! I might as well just go back home and stay there with a paper bag over my head.”

    “It’s just one story. I really don’t think SNN will care if we do something else. They’re not expecting us to break ground — they just want to see that we can support ourselves.”

    “No!” Nancy said. “That’s the thing — they don’t expect us to break ground. They don’t expect us to do anything. They want to watch us fail, which we will, so they can buy our network and leave us broke.” Her voice cracked, and she spilled a fresh downpour of tears into her palms.

    “Relax. We’ll keep trying. What’s the deadline again?”

    “J-J-July t-twenty-fifth...”

    “Okay. That’s more than enough time. We’ll just have to think of a better way to talk to these people. No offense, but I think you come on too...”

    Nancy looked up before he could finish. Her face was blotchy and streaked with ruined makeup. “Too what?”

    Ned chuckled. “Never mind.”

    Nancy wiped her eyes and yawned. “All this heat is making me hungry. Let’s get something to eat before we go.”

    They went back into the marketplace and found the Wonder Fish stand. The man was still selling, and by the looks of it, selling well. People stood on all sides with fish sandwiches, filets, and still more fish wrapped in foil. Nancy made her way to the front of the line and dropped a pile of coins onto the counter.

    “Two sandwiches please.”

    The man smiled. “Coming right up!” He withdrew and came back moments later with two sandwiches wrapped in paper. “Tell your friends!” he called as she walked away.

    On their way out of the marketplace, Nancy peeled away the wrapping and took a bite of the white meat. It was soft and tasted like... fish.

    “Wow, this is really good!” said Ned. “Better than Horsea, in my opinion. I wonder what it is.”

    “Not now, Ned. We have to think. How are we going to get a scoop on that factory in a month?”

    “I don’t know. We’ll have time to think about it, though, right?”

    “The point of all this is not to wait till the last minute!” Nancy ripped another chunk from her sandwich and chomped it down. “We’ve tried writing, and that failed. We’ve tried live interview. Failed. What else is there?”

    Ned shrugged. “I don’t know.”

    “Don’t tell me there’s nothing left! I know for a fact that SNN is doing something else. They did a whole freaking segment about Fuego Ironworks. Fuego Ironworks, Ned. Those guys don’t just take live interview requests.”

    “Are you kidding me? SNN practically snuck inside. There’s no other way they could have gotten pictures like that.”

    All of a sudden, Nancy stopped. “Wait.”

    “What?”

    Nancy smiled. She looked north, where she could see faint puffs of smoke from over the trees.

    “What are you looking at?” Ned pressed.

    Nancy ignored him. “Come on. We have to meet the others.” She stopped beside a garbage can and threw her sandwich away before moving on.



    That morning, a beat-up van had been parked on the curb by the marketplace. A logo, pasted in bold letters on the side, read: Jubilfe TV. The van was bulky and dirty, something that would be the subject of ridicule in most large cities, but here the sunlight gave its curves a pristine glow, a mighty symbol of innovation against the plain, undeveloped town.

    Two men were leaning against the van’s side, sipping Coca Cola and staring absently into space. One wore a baseball cap, its visor lowered over his face. The second stared up at the trees. A cart with various sound equipment stood between them.

    “This place is such a bore,” said the first man, lifting the visor to rub his eyes.

    “Tell me about it. This place is practically a jungle. I haven’t seen this many trees in, like, ever.”

    “More than Jubilife Park, you think?”

    The second man took a sip from the can and waved his hand. “Nah, this place puts Jubilife Park to shame.”

    Both men began to laugh. The moment was as fleeting as the breeze, and then they settled back into an awkward silence. The trees seemed to soak up every attempt at conversation, leaving nothing to do but stare at one’s shoes. Even the Starlies which they often spotted passed by without a sound, as if silence was a community rule.

    “That’s it, I can’t take it anymore.” The man in the cap crushed the empty can in his fist. “I’m turning on some music.” He climbed into the van and started the engine. The radio came to life, and began to blast an upbeat song through the empty street.

    He came around and slumped back beside the van. “That’s better.”

    “Aw come on, that’s all that station ever plays. Be a man, would you?”

    Bobby grinned. “Fine.” He went back to the van and turned the radio’s dial, scrolling through a string of random songs. He didn’t have time to settle on one, however, for when he stole a glance through the windshield, he saw Nancy and Ned coming up the road. Eterna was the only place in the world where you could cross the road without looking and not have to worry about being squashed.

    “There they are!” He and Tom looked over as they approached. The pair looked as if they had walked for miles—their clothes were stained with dirt, and Nancy had two black lines streaking down her cheeks.

    “Whoa, Nancy, what happened to your face?” said Tom.

    “Later,” Nancy said. “Come on, we’re packing up. Get the sound equipment and put it in the back.”

    Ned opened the van’s double doors and placed the camera inside its holder. Bobby and Tom lifted the cart.

    “Well, did you get the story?” said Bobby. “Did that Team Galactic guy talk to you?”

    “Not yet. But I have a plan.”

    “What plan?”

    “I’ll tell you as we go.”

    Nancy climbed into the passenger seat and took a mirror and tissue from the glove compartment. She began to scrub her cheeks, succeeding in removing most of the mascara and leaving the rest in two circular smears. She’d take care of those later. Nancy dabbed her shoulders and chest, which had become moist with perspiration during her run.

    As the rest of the crew climbed in the van, she cradled her head in her hands and took a slow, deep breath, a calming routine she had developed over many years in the business.

    Relax. You can do this.

    Tom closed the driver’s door and started the van. Nancy adjusted her mirror to check her hair. A-ok.

    Behind her, the van’s window showed a slip of sidewalk sprinkled with leaves. Not long after the van pulled out of the curb, the figures of two boys could be seen strolling down the sidewalk.



    //////



    The fisherman’s stand was at the edge of the marketplace, an island surrounded by a small circle of people. Michael pushed his way to the front, and saw the man wearing an apron, holding up two wrapped packages.

    “Two Wonder Fish sandwiches with lettuce? Anybody order two Wonder Fish sandwiches with lettuce?”

    Someone held out their hands, and the man graciously exchanged the packages for a handful of bills.

    When the man saw Michael, he grinned. “We meet again! I’m afraid if you want a sandwich, you’ll have to wait in line.” He indicated the mass of people in front of him.

    “It’s okay,” said Michael. “We don’t want a sandwich. I was just wondering if you could give me one of those pokémon. Whole.”

    The man’s eyes widened at the unusual request. “I’ll see what I can do, but you’ll have to wait in line.”

    “But we don’t have — oh, fine.” Michael recognized a losing battle when he saw one. He edged himself into the mass of people, who struggled to arrange themselves in a line.

    Apparently the meat was a hit. Everyone was leaving with two or more of those same sandwiches, happily eating them as they walked.

    “That must be some meat,” said Henry. “I wonder what that pokémon was that he discovered.”

    “That’s what we’re going to find out.”

    Several minutes passed before they got to the front of the line. The man beamed down at them.

    “So what did you want again?”

    “One of those pokémon,” Michael repeated. “No sandwich or anything. Just whole.”

    The man wrinkled his nose. “What for?”

    “What does it matter? We’re paying for it,” said Henry.

    “Well, I can’t argue with that logic... all right.” The man withdrew and came out with a large mound of tinfoil. “Tell your friends!”

    “But of course.” Michael faked a smile and hurried off.

    Henry caught up with him. “Where are we going now?”

    “We’re going to make a call to Sandgem Labs.”

    Henry gaped. “Why?”

    “You’ll see. Come on.”

    They hurried back to Bertha’s house and found a telephone in the living room. Michael bent down beside the table and picked up the receiver.

    “How do you even know the lab’s number?” said Henry.

    “You’d know a number too if your mother kept it pinned to the fridge for three years...” Michael turned the rotary dial and waited for the connection.

    The phone rang, and a breezy female voice answered him. “Hello! You have reached the office of Sandgem Labs, pioneering the field of pokémon research since 1866, this is Rebecca speaking, how may I assist you?”

    “Hello,” Michael said. “I have a report to submit to Dr. Emerson, concerning a sighting of a new pokémon.”

    The clerk paused. “What is your name?”

    “Cory... uh, Hershey.”

    Henry snickered.

    “I’m sorry Mr... Hershey, but we don’t accept tips like these from callers. If you’d like, I can mail you a form that contains the instructions for a proper submission.”

    “No!” Michael said. “Look. This is an emergency.”

    “I am sorry, again, but there is nothing I can do. Protocol is protocol.”

    Michael took a moment to think. “Okay. Okay, so can you tell me something else? I understand that... ah, that there’s a summer program going on in the lab sponsored by the professor?”

    “...Yes,” the clerk answered stiffly. “But registration has closed, I’m afraid, as the program is already in session—”

    “Yeah, I get that. It’s just that I know someone who is currently in the program. His name is Leroy, and I have an important message for him. Do you, by any chance, know his number or something so I can call him?”

    “Even if I did, giving a personal number out to a third party is strictly against our policy. I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere for this Leroy.” With that, she hung up. Michael slammed the phone back down and groaned.

    “Why did you want to talk to Leroy?” asked Henry.

    “I wanted to get him to report this to the professor."

    Henry picked up the phone. “Hang on. Let me try something. What’s the number again?”

    Michael told him, and Henry dialed. And waited.

    “Hello?” said Henry. “Yes. Hi, my name is Henry McPherson.” He hesitated, but he was obviously doing this for effect. “Sorry, I um, thought that the professor would pick up. See, I went to get my starter from him yesterday, and I noticed a problem with it, and the professor told me I could call him anytime to ask a question. So if you don’t mind... could you forward me to him?”

    Michael lifted an eyebrow. Henry smiled and winked. Whatever he was doing, it was working.

    A second later, he beamed. “Hi, professor! It’s me, Henry, remember? No? Well that’s okay. You’ll remember Michael.” He quickly handed the phone to Michael, who brought it to his ear.

    “Uh... hello?”

    The wheezy voice of Professor Emerson answered him. “Ah? Who is this?”

    “It’s Michael Rowan. I have something important to tell you. It may change your life.” The professor paused. He didn’t hang up, so Michael continued. “See, while I was walking the other day by a river, I saw a weird pokémon. It was a Horsea, only it looked kind of different. Bigger, for one thing, and the meat was white instead of pink. Horsea meat is always pink, you know, so I knew it was a different pokémon.”

    The professor seemed to be scratching his chin. “Did this pokémon have a longer, thicker snout, and were its fins larger?”

    Michael opened the package. The description fit the bill. “Yep.”

    “It’s a different pokémon. That’s a Seadra. They're native to Kanto, but they can be found in Sinnoh in a select few environments, as with Horsea.”

    “Is there any relation between the two?”

    “Somewhat,” said the professor. “Though their physical structures may seem different, there are significant similarities in their DNA that indicate a growth-evolutionary connection. Furthermore, the Seadra possesses a extra gene that is not present in Horsea, the purpose of which is not certain... but that’s too much to get into right now. I say it would be fine to use either in a battle. The Seadra does not present any powers significantly superior to the Horsea as far as we know. Good bye.” The professor seemed eager to hang up. Michael leaned back against the armchair.

    “That guy sucks,” he said.

    “What did he say?”

    “Basically that it won’t make a difference if you use a Horsea or a Seadra—that’s the pokémon’s name—in a battle. Seadra's just an evolution of Horsea. They're rare to find here, so I guess people wouldn't have caught on much. Like that fisherman guy."

    Henry shrugged. “So if Seadra's not from the chemicals, then what about Bertha's Roselia? Could that be an evolution too?"

    “Uh, no,” Michael said. "Roselia doesn't evolve."

    Henry paused. "Oh. Right."

    "What I think," Michael continued, "is that Bertha's Roselia is different from Horsea and Seadra. It's not an evolution, really, but something else... something different." He looked down at his shoes. “I don’t know what it means for the battle, though.”

    “Me neither.” Henry let out a breath. “Let’s just hope it can’t shoot missiles out of its hands.”
    Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 9th July 2013 at 2:37 AM.


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  3. #128
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    I decided to read because I really enjoyed your One-Shots but I never got a chance to review them. So here I am! (I’m at the end now and I realise the whole thing is praise. But constructive praise so meh, I think you’ll enjoy reading through and seeing all of the strange connections I’ve made. Also it’s rather long. Sorry I like to rant about things I enjoy. Don’t get me talking about Code Geass unless you have nothing to do for the next five hours.)

    0.1

    A really cool opening, it was nice to see Michael as rebellious and that is always how I imagined him in-game. He had a certain something the other professors lacked. The premise of delving into his back story hooked my own right away. I suppose he “caught” that Stunky in another way entirely . That scene was executed well but I was expecting a poison gas attack but it never came, it just started stinking really bad. Well done for leading me down a path and then twisting the other way. The description on his mother sitting in the conference was spot on, I knew exactly what you meant and I couldn’t help but smile when I imagined their expressions. Michael looking grumpy and his mother stiff and teary. Excellent work on this first chapter. Anyone reading should have progressed onto the next. (I sure did.)

    0.2

    Did I mention I love the way you do your chapter titles? Anyway, things are starting to pick up. His mothers repetition of the starter Pokemon was great especially when I imagined Michaels face when she kept saying them. I’m getting some great facial-visualisation from this fic. The lab scene was great and those kids made me really mad. They reminded me of when I had to take a karate class and the kids were acting up and I was feeling embarrassed and I yelled and them and they looked at me like I was evil and scary. Ooh, a defective starter aye? Nice touch with the shinyness being something he didn’t want. Instead of the “OMGZ SHINY STARTER LULZFEST!” which I never see nowadays BUT I CAN REMEMBER IT!

    0.3

    Haha, Do Not Disturb sign. Probably for doing speriments? Aah I hope they don’t do anything bad to that stunky. At the moment it is the most developed and my favorite Pokemon so far. Hungry eyes, I know what you mean. My cat gives me those all the time! “If it works on plants it must work on Pokemon.” I hate to break it to ya’ Corey but your logic is kind of screwed. (Unless it was a grass type pokemon.) I hate it that they aren’t treaty Stunky nicely because I get the feeling that it (he or she?) has a nice personality and could be really good friends with Michael. The space race was a nice way of finding the origins of the teams names. Although Team Rocket is a little unoriginal when compared to Galactic. Team Plasma would probably use a medieval catapult or something. The argument at the end between Michael and his mother was very powerful and I have a feeling he deserved and needed it. The sentence at the end was very sad and I refuse to believe they can’t mend the break in their bond. THEY MUST DO IT WITH THE POWER OF LOVE AND POKEMON! On that note, next chapter, great job on this one. (I got a little teary at the last line.)

    0.4

    Le gasp! Was that “bottom of the lake” mentioned as foreshadowing! I must read on to find out! Great way to open a chapter: Presenting something vaguely that may or may not come true and forcing the reader to endeavour to find out. (I bet I’m just making random connections though, I do that sometimes.) Example: N IS A ZOROARK!!!

    New paragraph to focus myself. And then you make me all emotional with the epic pictures with captions and then the hospital room and then the sad, sad letter. I was very touched when I read it. It was a bit weird that his mother didn’t want him to mention Richard. That makes her character a bit crazy in my opinion. Maybe it would be best if her and Michael didn’t get back together but then again she always has the best intentions for him. Ack, you’ve got me feeling for the characters already. I see that his mother wants what she thinks is best for him, not actually what Michael wants. She’s trying her best but to Michael she just ruining his life. Breaking the vase pretty much assured me that he was running away and I don’t blame him. The verbal onslaught would just be horrific if his mother ever caught him. He needs to get a Poke’ Ball for that Stunky because carrying it about would be such a pain. Nice chapter and onto the next one!

    0.5

    Are the misshapen buildings a reference to the badly rendered buildings in game? Those sure look like they would fall over at any second. The way you described them rising above everything else on the natural hill was a nice touch and I knew exactly what you meant. The description of the main walkway through Jublife added a lot of atomsphere to the story. The way you picked out and talked about various chicks Michael noticed was great. (Bahaha, the science league turned him off one of them, too bad the other was with a girl or he could’ve made a move on her!) Oh, I spotted something that sounded awkward to me.

    “He stood on the sidewalk for a long while, and then he was on the move again, crossing the street and eyeing shop windows. Among the hair salons, candy shops, and drive-in theaters, his eyes found a bookstore. Its door was bright, less worn since not many had used it. The store was called Fran's Books. For some reason or another, he saw himself enter.”

    He saw himself enter just reads weird to me. I know what you were getting at, that he didn’t quite know why he did it but he just did it. The problem is that (from my eyes anyway) it reads badly and disrupts the flow of the story. Unless he was looking at his reflection if it was a glass door. (Or maybe I’m just over thinking things.)

    I thought Fran was going to go off her nut when she was all like“ Make sure that Stunky doesn’t ruin the books.” and Michael was all “ok lol, whatever” and then five seconds later “OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING, BAD STUNKY!” But apparently Fran loves Pokemon more than books and instaforgives (my new word ) and wants to give it (BOY/GIRL?) some food. Which is good for everyone I guess.

    Oh don’t worry. Michael made a terrible decision and decided everyone else in the world is the problem and he will feed his stunky when he wants! He has a lot to learn which makes room for *gasp* CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! *pops a party popper* Fran had a cool personality but it seems she won’t re-appear which is a shame. I’m a little attached to her after that one scene. The café was interesting, MAN THAT FOOD IS CHEAP! He finally feeds Stunky, wait till he finds out he has to feed Turtwig too :V

    And he misses his chance with the hot blonde! Michael needs to get a better wingman, that Stunky is cute but doesn’t exactly talk him up.

    Ooh the TV station! You aren’t missing anything in this city are you? Deoxys! Is. Full. Of. AWESOME. The space race shenanigans has been serving as an interesting sub plot in the story so far. I am eager to learn how it ends!

    Michael you aren’t a monster you just need to treat other people better okay?

    0.6

    Nearly halfway, been going for about an hour now. (Yeah I read this all at once, watcha gunna do? With comments like these, half the review is filler anyway L)

    Wow the opening was dramatic, and all that exposition served to introduce the very evil, revolting, conceited. . . Bullies. Gold star for your opening.

    The battles were pretty well described but the strategy was mostly trollish grass>water no matter what you do. That was okay but Michael was very lucky that they both ONLY had water types.

    Henry was introduced well and I got a fair grip with what you were trying to portray him as. The word zookeeper was spot on in this situation. And a Gym, Turtwig would rip up Roark any day. But wait, this is in the past. Maybe, le gasp, BYRON?

    And in the park, Michael is turning BAMF it seems. And getting money from the gym will be cool, I’m excited to find out if I’m right when it comes to guessing the leader (Byron would make sense. Then who’s the Canalave Leader? Bertha? She’s the only elite four old enough.

    0.7

    Over halfway yeah! I’ve been reading and writing this up non-stop so your story must be really good and easy to read if I can keep it up like this,. (It could just be a side effect of my awesomeness we’ll see.)

    Yeah I was right with the gym guessing! Woot, though it was a bit obvious. Stunky won’t be much help against steel will it (he/she?) “I rock this town!” What? So Byron changed specialist types? :V

    Nice parody on the “Are You A Boy Or A Girl?” I guess that’s why Rowan asks it in-game in memory of this moment. Pointless random connection #678

    Oh you know about biological weathering too and that’s why you always understood grass was good against rock like me! I’ve seen pictures of rocks split open by plants growing through them. Plants are hardcore.

    OMG Pokemon Data Exploiter, POKEDEX! Also they did Starly‘s type wrong even though I would have preferred if it was like that. (Too many damn normal types!.) I think you did that on purpose though! It was a nice touch. I laughed at the composed dex entries. They were great.

    I love all of the ways you are describing things that are common knowledge as “New and exciting findings” the fact that Rowan named the Pokedex made me scratch my head because Oak called it a Pokedex and he thought there were 150 pokemon tops even when it would have been obvious there were more than that. Maybe it was just a slip of the tongue that he forgot to say “In The Kanto Region?” Cool chapter, I’m reading on. *Wipes sweat off keyboard and brow.*

    Oh and the Pokemon Centre made me “lol wut?” because I never imagined the magical nosies coming from the healing machines was just heat. :V Maybe they are just an older model?

    0.8

    Haha, this chapter definitely has a lot of kick butt hotel awesomeness thanks to Lesabre.

    And it is revealed that Henry has lived a sheltered life (surprise, surprise) and goddammit those cats are fighting outside my window again! They give me such a fright when they hiss and growl at each other. Make love, not war cats.

    Ontopic: The magazine was cool and I really feel like reading it. Apart from the obscure fashion section and the article on colour coordination. I’d like to know how taking care of badges improves you as a trainer too. (Unless they have the god-like powers in Poke Special Manga. Mind control anyone?)

    The pseudo “Fight Club” they had going on in the courtyard (I think?) was cool. Strange how Henry wanted Michael to jump in but Michael wanted to be more careful about it. Kind of personality reversal in a way. :V If you’re wondering about that obscure smiley don’t worry, I use it to show an expression of. . . Confusion mixed with pleasure.

    The compilation of the type chart was cool and I hope Michael does well in the gym!

    0.9

    So this one is long? *Has snack* Now I have returned to full power, back to the review.

    Haha, the new décor. That’s hilarious, the weekly just keeps getting better doesn’t it? Also the way you described the Poke’ Balls as being expensive and metallic made me realise how absolutely awesome they would be in real life.

    Silly Michael, Buneary isn’t a fighting type, it uses fighting moves. I’ve often ranted about how much cooler it would be if it was a fighting type so I’m not complaining.

    Ooh, nitpicking:

    It was a Machop, all right, wandering in the clearing. The pokémon was completely oblivious to the humans that lurked only a few yards away; it was walking amiably, alternating between swinging its arms and picking at the ground. The sun cast a fragile shine on its leathery skin, highlighting the obvious ripple of its muscles. It wasn’t as big as the one he had seen on the battlefield, but at this point, Michael didn’t care. Henry stood up into a crouch, and whispered into his ear.

    “Stood up into a crouch” sounds awkward for me because I associate standing up with straightening your legs and spine when crouching does neither of those things.

    The description of Machop’s was so nice it made me jealous because I have written a fic where a Machop is caught on the same route and it was not nearly as good and begun with the Machop jumping out of a bush to attack my protagonist. /rant

    The Poke’ Ball being really hot made me think a lot. So that’s why they let it roll around on the ground instead of holding onto it tightly to prevent it escaping. Oooh. Or maybe, again, it is just an old version of the Poke’ Ball. (No apricorn balls? But this is the past isn’t it? Maybe they were only big in Jhoto.)

    They got trolled with the Magikarp, that’s for sure. The Goldeen is beyond awesome because I cannot express my love toward Seaking enough. Just google image search “Seaking” to see what I mean. I can just imagine the grin on that guys face and the small tears of laughter in his eyes when he said “It knows a few water moves.”

    Nice fight, but I would have liked to have seem more than Michael getting knocked over then him pulling him to the ground, pinning him down and punching him in the face a few times. Maybe because I’m such a martial arts nut with all of these crazy techniques to spout everywhere. Crab scissor flip anyone?

    NOO! The rules prohibit Goldeen from being used! NOOOOOO!!!! I won’t get my Seaking after all. Oh wait it looks like Michael is just screwing the rules, I hope that turns out well for him.

    1.0 (I can’t believe I made it this far in one sitting. I’m crazy.)

    So if it’s a tie, the gym leader can choose to give the badge? Interesting…

    Roots: The fic that proves verbal abuse helps Pokemon in battles. I have to say Machop completely destroyed both Onix and Geodude. They didn’t really stand a chance. Bronzor did Machop in with a nice Confuse Ray. It’s frustrating when:

    MACHOP HURT ITSELF IN CONFUSION x infinity

    That kind of stuff happens so I can understand why Michael would be getting upset especially with so much at stake.

    Haha, confusion reverses orders. So if you tell your Chansey to use Softboiled when its confused does it heal the opponent? That was a cool touch, I was expecting Goldeen’s horn attack to fail but it did really well and lived up to my expectations. I can’t wait until it evolves. :3

    I’m glad Henry brought Pachirisu because I see it as the only way he could take down Bronzor at the moment. (Unless Magikarp evolves, lol.) Good Henry won, now he can stop moping around. (Hopefully.) :V

    The ending of this chapter was sweet. The characters have grown so much already. I’m starting to warm up to Henry!

    1.1

    Oh wait, before I begin I’d like to point out what you said:

    Hey, thanks for the review! I don't care about the length, just leaving a thought or two is enough.

    My face after typing all of this up: :V

    Moving on. Can I start by being really jealous of your description of Eterna City? I described that place and it was nowhere near the thorough and high quality standard you produced. But this paragraph:

    Not so long ago, she had been the sweet little girl on Chestnut Road, the daughter of the best pie-baker in town, the one who was always playing with friends on the hill. Her childhood had been typical of that of an Eterna kid—swimming, biking, running, and all other outdoor excursions with sleep and food in between. She barely noticed how she had made the jump from five to twenty-five, how those long braids she used to wear had unraveled, and how her parents had suddenly become small and wrinkly. The town had a lulling effect on her; it seemed to wash away all sense of time. One day, she was wiggling her first loose tooth in front of a mirror, and the next day she was strolling about with a bra and manicured nails, looking to buy some coffee before she started her morning shift.

    I read this and I was like: FUUUUUUUUUUUU- because it was simply that well done. I’m not usually that much of an “OMG I LURRVE THIS” kind of perso but for some reason this particular paragraph caught my eye. But girl, even reading through it again it still sounds awesome.

    Oh I’m so stupid thinking that Bertha would be Canalave Gym Leader just because byron is there. Gardenia, Maylene, Wake, Candice, Fantina, Aaron, Lucian, Flint, Cynthia and Volkner are all too young to even exist in this point of time. That means there will be plenty of exciting new characters to develop!

    I’m starting to like Bertha a lot because of her nature rants about how bad the factory is for the environment. You’ve done her character justice all ready just by the way you introduced her. It seems she changes her favourite type from grass to ground. . . That is cool I guess she will have at least one ground type like how Byron had the random steel type.

    Haha, they have to sleep in Bertha’s house. That’s just plain awesome. They never really address accommodation in game because you never have to sleep. Then again, there is that pointless hotel in Celadon City that is permanently “Fully Booked.” The stairs don’t go anywhere in that building, stupid rumours about a Mew being there…

    On Topic: Great ending to this chapter, you’ve built up some suspense there but not enough for a full “did they save the world or are they all going to die” cliff hanger. 9No I’m not calling them “cliffys” NEVER!)

    1.2 (Whew, my eyes are getting heavy. I started this at 8:00 PM and now its 10:30 PM. I’ve got a test tomorrow and I’m blaming you if I do badly )

    Haha, parody of in-game canon when talking to fishermen causes them to the THE BIGGEST AND MOST AWESOME FISH EVAR.

    Silly Michael, Starly would be perfectly good to fight Bertha with. Glad Henry decided to keep it. Also, I’m pretty sure that Horsea has just evolved but if I was the fisherman I’d be taking my road somewhere else.

    Ooh the ending was sad. So things were really that bad with Michael and his mum to start with? Now I believe you when you said the thing about the bond broken that would never be mended. Was there even one from the start?

    1.3 (Also your location made me laugh. Where do you come from?

    YES
    NO

    Bahaha, Game Freak loves to parody itself.)

    Onto the chapter:

    I was appalled that they looked at Bertha’s Pokemon and I think this time the Roselia has just evolved, not been genetically mutated. >. >

    1.3

    Nice change of perspective to the Bertha and the tragic reporter. I laughed when she talked about how the Sinnoh News Network get terrible stories, they actually do. I’ve watched them on TV and it’s boring. What’s hip and happening is much more entertaining.

    And they don’t know about evolution? O_o That’s a little strange seeing as someone should have noticed that their Pokemon changed form at least sometime. It’s just strange how nobody noticed is all.

    So, In conclusion:

    Your human characterisation is the driving force behind this story. Your characters are likeable and realistic with plenty of traits to distinguish them from one another. However your Pokemon don’t seem to have much if not any personality besides Stunky who hasn’t really been mentioned for a while. Your Pokemon are just as much characters as the humans so make sure to develop them too.

    Your description and the entire region of past-Sinnoh continuously amazes and excites me. The description flows well and sets the scene beautifully. Sinnoh is a really cool place and all of the small touches such as the magazine and the space race really boosts the story even more.

    Pacing-wise it’s great. You’re not rushing and you’re taking the time to tell the story. As far as originality goes this story is tops.

    I hope you enjoyed my rant, er, review rather. I look forward to further chapters!

    ~Moonlightning
    Lol.

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    ... o_O

    I saw your post and all I had to say was wow. That must have taken you hours to type (and I hope you did all right on your test, by the way; now I feel bad :s). I shall now reply to your comments! (This might be a bit unorganized, since I'm just reading your post from top to bottom and replying to your review.) Here we go!

    -----

    Unfortunately, the 'bottom of a lake' line wasn't foreshadowing. Michael was simply implying that he'd very much like to throw the pokeball into a lake and not have to deal with it anymore. It's not the most pleasant of things, but hey, it's Michael. (He'll change, of course, but this is how it all began :P)

    The misshapen buildings are the outskirts of town, if you will, the underdeveloped parts that no one really cares to spend money on. Every place has those parts, after all, right?

    The Stunky is a boy, by the way. I call the pokemon in my story 'it' because I follow the logic that pokemon are the equivalent of animals. (At least in the naming respect.) When you see a random squirrel or bird, for example, you'd say "It flew" or "It climbed up a tree". If you see someone with a dog, you'd refer to the dog as an 'it', unless you know that particular dog, its name and its gender. Then you'd say "Lassie was walking alongside her owner. She stopped to sniff a tree." etc. etc.

    As for the hot blonde, she'll be back. That's all I'm saying.

    The PokeDex entries are a little mixed up because, of course, this is a time when knowledge of pokemon powers is limited. (You mentioned somewhere down the line about the evolution problem, so I'll explain that right now.) General distinctions between species are recognized, and several correlations have been noted between species like Starly and Staravia, for example. Trainers have definitely noticed that their pokemon change form, but evolution is more of a gradual thing, not the giant light-explosion that happens in the games. (In most cases, but not all. This is very important.) When curious trainers take their evolved Starlies to a specialist, the specialist tells them that their pokemon is not, in fact, a Starly anymore, but a Staravia. And then the usual "How is this possible?"' "Is a Starly the same thing as Staravia?" begins. As Michael progresses in his quest for money and knowledge, more of this will come to light.

    Another thing about the PokeDex: One thing I find funny about the games is that each generation builds upon the previous one, and yet the older games remain blissfuly unaware that there are more pokemon out there. (Back in the professor Oak games, there were 150 pokemon, but now there are over 600.) With every new generation come new pokemon, but for the sake of this fic, I'm going off of 4th-generation knowledge. Just in case by the time I'm finished they've added another 200 to the list.

    The pokeballs in this fic are like the 1.0 version of the pokeball. They're not apricorn, since by the 1960s people could come up with something much more advanced than that, but they're still far from the ones of today's world. I took their design from the pokeballs that appeared in the Celebi movie. (Pokemon4Ever, I think.)

    They got trolled with the Magikarp, that’s for sure. The Goldeen is beyond awesome because I cannot express my love toward Seaking enough. Just google image search “Seaking” to see what I mean. I can just imagine the grin on that guys face and the small tears of laughter in his eyes when he said “It knows a few water moves.”
    Actually, he was telling the truth. Magikarp can't be completely useless as it is in the games, because I though that would be a little strange... I made Magikarp competent, but still somewhat floppy. Let's leave it at that.

    Haha, confusion reverses orders. So if you tell your Chansey to use Softboiled when its confused does it heal the opponent? That was a cool touch, I was expecting Goldeen’s horn attack to fail but it did really well and lived up to my expectations. I can’t wait until it evolves. :3
    I've always wondered that too, and I've always been upset when my pokemon got confused and instead of using a healing move it hurt itself :/ (Then again, if a pokemon already has its mind set on healing, won't the Confuse Ray just make it heal its opponent? Logically, it make sense...)

    I'll have to explore that... (Holy crap, I think I just got an idea for a one-shot.)

    As for Bertha, I characterized her as being a young grass-type trainer, but with that steely personality that (I hoped) would foreshadow a change in preference in her later years.

    I absolutely refuse to speak about Michael and Patricia, though. My lips are sealed on that matter, and no amount of cookie bribes will make me change my mind. *shifty eyes*

    However your Pokemon don’t seem to have much if not any personality besides Stunky who hasn’t really been mentioned for a while. Your Pokemon are just as much characters as the humans so make sure to develop them too.
    I'm glad you mentioned the pokemon just now. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Stunky or any of the other guys that now form Michael's (and Henry's) team. Right now, Michael is really goal-focused, and sees his pokemon as things-that-will-get-him-what-he-wants. Likewise, he only sends them out when he needs them, which is to battle. Learning to spend time with his pokemon and actually paying attention to them is part of his character arc, and there will definitely be more of his pokemon in the chapters to come.

    I think that's about all I wanted to say... Thanks for mentioning those little nitpick phrases, by the way. Now that I look over them, I see how they can be changed, and I'll get around to doing that after I post this. (It's weird, because I can literally feel the difference in my writing and mentality between my earlier chapters and my later ones.)

    I'm really glad you're following this, and I hope you'll like what I have in store for this story


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  5. #130
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    So, how many cookies must I bribe you with to get such saucy info, Ms. Lovett?

  6. #131
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    XD

    We'll start the bidding with ten thousand. (It'll take me a while to eat that many, though. I'll probably be too full and tired to finish the story by then.) I'd say it's safer to just wait it out... I might drop a foreshadow moment here and there if you're lucky.


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  7. #132
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    Sounds like a deal.

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    Yay, it's back!!!

    I saw Chapter 1.2 when it was first posted, but I decided to wait until you posted 1.3 so I could comment on both. Hope you don't mind.

    I really do like all the detail you put into describing the scenery as well as the characters. I actually found myself smiling just from all the detail you put into describing Route 205 at the start of Chapter 1.2. Also, I wish newsrepoters nowadays put as much effort into finding excitings stories as the one in your fic does. Maybe minus breaking into places.

    Also, you were worried about the use of fluorine compounds in Chapter 1.3. I know some stuff about chemistry so here's my thoughts. Fluorine is an element, not so much a compound, though multiple atoms of fluorine can be put together to create a fluorine compound. You described the fluorine compound as being produced under extreme conditions, which I assume your saying is that the elements in the compound don't react very easily. However, fluorine has a low atomic number and IIRC is a halogen, so it's actually very reactive. Like I said, I don't know exactly what you meant by extreme conditions, but if you talking about reactivity like I think you are and are aiming for a reaction thats harder to accomplish, you may want to use an element with a higher atomic number and/or one of the noble gases, seeing as they tend to be harder to pull off reactions with.

    You don't have to take my chemistry nitpick to heart or anything, seeing as the specific compound didn't play that big of a role in the story, and I probably wouldn't have noticed it if you hadn't pointed it out.

    Sorry if the only thing I can properly review is chemistry; I'm not to good at reviewing chapters other than small spelling or grammer errors, which I saw none of. I really do like this fic and I'll keep following it. Hope to see the next chapter soon!

  9. #134
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    Chemistry review! I've been wondering if I would get one...

    By 'extreme conditions' I meant that the reaction was something that didn't occur in nature, and had to be forced. I did not mean that the reaction was necessarily harder to accomplish; it's just that it's a very extreme reaction. If that makes sense.

    I know that Fluorine is extremely reactive, and I have one source that says it actually was used in the manufacturing process of some factories, so I based this fictitious compound off of that. But like you said, it's really not important to the story. I put in the note in case some people would wonder.

    So, thanks for reading! I appreciate your following.

    Next chapter is in the works, by the way. Expect it around Wednesday next week. (Side note: Deathly Hallows premiere! *scurries off*)


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  10. #135
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    Hey there Mrs. Lovett, i've been reading Roots from the sidelines since a month or so, and i must say you're an excellent writer...... You've developed Michael's character very well and his growing friendship with Henry is very heartwarming to read......I had just finished reading chapter 1.3 and i see a very interesting side plot coming up with Team Galctic getting involved..... I can't wait for the next chapter to come up to see how things turn out.
    Oh and one more thing, i read in one of your posts that writing battle scenes was tiring, but don't worry you're doing an excellent job of it

    Also, please add me to the PM list, thanks!
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    Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying how things are going. Battle scenes are somewhat tiring, I'm afraid, but I've been getting better at them. The key is to know what's going on at all times.

    I'll add you to the PM list. Good to have you on board :)


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  12. #137
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    could you please add me to the pm list? this is a great fic, i love the idea! how did you think of it?(i also like that he was pretty much just in it for the money.)
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    don't click this link...

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    Hey, I'm glad you like the idea! As for how I thought of it... the best explanation I can give is that story ideas just come to me sometimes. This one literally popped into my head one day while I was reading something.

    PM list updated. Thanks for following!


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    Great story. I can't wait for the next chapter. Could you add me to the PM list?

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    No problem. Thanks for reading!

    Chapter 14's almost done, guys. I have a few last-minute corrections to make, and then I'll post it in a day or two.


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    I lied. I'm posting it now. *insert evil laugh* I got a nice bit of work done on this chapter, and (I think) it's my longest one so far. Hooray for new records!


    1.4

    Night crept over Eterna City in a silent whisper. Michael and Henry had gone outside a final time, spending the entire afternoon sitting idly underneath the tree. Their lack of a fire-type pokémon still nagged at Michael's mind, and he couldn't chase away that sense of hopelessness, the feeling he got when he studied for a test that would be held the next day.

    "Are you nervous?" asked Henry.

    Michael ripped a blade of grass and began to fold it into a tiny ball. "No.”

    Henry was silent for a few moments, during which Michael heard him rummaging through his tote bag. The boy took out a pokéball, and held it up in the light. After a moment, he placed it into Michael's hands. "Here. I want you to have this."

    Michael looked down. "For what?"

    Henry shrugged. “For good luck, I guess. I’ve been thinking of giving her away for a while now... My Caterpie. It’s not that she’s not a good battler, it’s just that she doesn’t listen to me all the time. I can’t train her. Maybe you can.”

    Michael took the pokéball.

    “She knows a few basic moves, so you shouldn’t have a problem giving her commands,” Henry said.

    Michael nodded. “Okay. Thanks.” He looked up at the darkened sky. “We should probably head out now. It looks like it’s about eight.”

    They arrived at Bertha’s house in the nick of time. The porch was lit when they climbed up the steps. Michel rang the doorbell and waited.

    The gym leader opened the door a few seconds later. There were little dark circles beneath her eyes, but other than that, she looked upbeat. "Well it's about time you got here!" she said. "For a minute there, I thought you wouldn't show."

    She led them inside, to the familiar back door. The battle room was completely empty. The curtains were drawn, and four ceiling lamps lit the arena.

    “All right, Michael, you’re up first,” said Bertha. “Now go on, pick a side. I prefer the left, but that's only because I'm a leftie."

    "I’ll take the right then," Michael said. He handed his backpack to Henry, first withdrawing the three pokéballs that contained Turtwig, Machop and Caterpie. He had left his Goldeen behind, since it would only drag him down and (God forbid) make Bertha think he was incompetent.

    With the luggage in hand, Henry stumbled over to the benches. Michael did not fail to catch the boy’s accusing glare as he sat down—apparently, Henry still had not forgotten their illegal peek at Bertha’s pokémon. But Michael was fairly sure that he would keep his mouth shut, for exposing him would expose Henry as well.

    Bertha took her place on the battlefield. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and took a sip of water. Her appearance was casual—she could have been preparing for a morning jog—and for some reason it made her look all the more intimidating. Michael found himself wondering. Could he really repeat his feat at Byron’s gym a second time?

    "You're familiar with the rules, right?" asked Bertha.

    "Yeah... single battle, first person to defeat the other's pokémon wins, right?"

    Bertha nodded. "Spot on. All right, let's get going! Send out your first pokémon." She reached into her knapsack and pulled out a pokéball. "Go!"

    The Cherrim came out of the pokéball, still wrapped in a narrow tube. Michael put on a look of mild surprise, and behind him, Henry cleared his throat.

    "Cherri, come out!"

    At its trainer's command, the pokémon unraveled itself, showing a smiling yellow face rimmed with pink petals. On the whole, it looked like it couldn’t hurt a fly, but if a Gym leader was using it, then it could obviously pack a punch.

    Michael opened his first pokéball. "Go, Turtwig." The Turtwig sprang from the capsule and landed in front of Michael.

    Bertha smiled. "Cherri, use Take Down!" She had not paused like Byron had; she jumped in immediately, and it took Michael a second to find his voice.

    "Turtwig, Razor Leaf!"

    Just as the Cherrim sprang forward, the Turtwig tilted its head back and launched a spurt of leaves. But Cherri easily skipped out of their way, letting them hit the floor. Its sprint uninterrupted, the Cherrim collided with surprising force against Turtwig, throwing them both to the ground.

    "Good!" Bertha said. "Now don't let it get away! Use Bullet Seed!"

    Michael clenched his fist as he watched Turtwig squirm. "Get up! Dodge the attack, do Razor Leaf again!"

    The Cherrim reared back, spitting out a round of tiny pink globs from its mouth. They pelted Turtwig like bullets, forcing it to back down under their fire.

    Michael groaned. "Come on! Use Razor Leaf!”

    The Turtwig struggled to lift its head. The spray had stopped, and Cherrim was preparing for another round, dislodging more tiny seeds from within its petals.

    “Hurry up!”

    Turtwig whipped its head. Its aim was true—the leaves hit the Cherrim full in the face, but instead of cutting its skin, they bounced off without leaving a mark.

    Bertha grinned. “Take Down!”

    “What? No! Turtwig—” Michael looked down just as Cherrim leaped forward, knocking down Turtwig and rolling with it across the floor. It was like watching a wrestling match in miniature, only Turtwig was more like a punching bag than a fighter. The pokémon pushed and tumbled, Turtwig nearly always ending up on the bottom. Though the Cherrim’s arms were tiny, they were doing a good job of holding on to Turtwig, whose four feet were flailing in an attempt to throw off its opponent.

    Right then, it struck Michael how little he knew about pokémon battling. He could reason his way through the pokémon types, but when it came to an actual strategy, he was at a loss. The only two moves he knew, Razor Leaf and Tackle, had both failed him, and all he could do now was stand there with his arms hanging at his sides.

    “Come on, get it off!” Michael shouted, hoping to not appear useless as the Cherrim began to whip Turtwig’s face with its arms. “Don’t be a wimp!” But the Turtwig was too busy sinking under the blows to hear him.

    “Cherri, finish it off! Use Leech Seed!”

    “No!” Michael said. His hands had reached up unconsciously to pull his hair. “Don’t let it finish you off, for Pete’s sake! Do something!”

    Against his better judgment, he looked at Cherrim to watch what it was doing. The pokémon was throwing more pink seeds at Turtwig, who was still lying on the floor. But this time was different; instead of pelting the skin, they stuck to Turtwig’s body like spitballs, and began to glow a bright white.

    What the…? Michael watched in wonder as the Turtwig’s thrashes lessened. As its muscles loosened, he noticed that the Cherrim’s body was healing, all the minor scratches from the tackle patching up before his eyes. The Turtwig, in contrast, was being drained.

    “Leech Seed is a neat little move,” Bertha said. “I can tell you haven’t seen it before. It drains the opponent’s energy and uses it to heal the user.” She crossed her arms and waited. When Turtwig’s head lolled over and its body rolled on its side, she nodded. "Turtwig is unable to battle. Send our your next Pokémon.”

    Michael looked down in bewilderment. Abandoning all cares, he knelt beside his Turtwig and began to shake it.

    "Get up! You're not gonna get anywhere if you lie around!" He tried to hoist it up, but its legs kept folding beneath its body. Bertha let him for a few moments, but then she shook her head.

    “Kid, trust me. I know when a pokémon’s done.”

    Michael called the Turtwig back into its pokéball, biting back his anger. If Bertha could take down his entire team that easily, he would definitely lose. He fumbled in his pocket for a moment, then withdrew Caterpie's pokéball.

    The slimy pokémon screeched as it fell to the floor. Bertha looked down at it for a moment, and Michael thought he could read the words that were running through her mind. Was this, truly, the best he could do?

    "Bug Bite it," Michael said. His enthusiasm was deflating more and more by the second.

    "Cherri, use Petal Dance!"

    When he saw the Cherrim getting ready for the next attack, Michael exhaled sharply. "Come on! Do it quickly!" The Caterpie remained where it was for a few moments, clicking its tiny pincers. The Cherrim, meanwhile, was beginning to twirl around in circles, pink petals gently blowing around its body like confetti.

    Caterpie looked up at its opponent for a moment, then began to move, inching forward with a speed barely above that of a rolling ball.

    “Hurry up!” Michael urged. He wanted to pick it up and toss it for the remaining few feet, but that would have been against the rules. He resorted to tapping the ground behind it with his foot, each time giving the Caterpie a little jolt so that it crawled slightly faster. “Pick up the pace, come on, that’s it.” It felt like trying to teach a little kid how to ride a bike.

    Just then, the Cherrim broke out into a spin. The petals tore through the air at lightning speed, in a storm of pink and red. Michael dove out of their way, expecting any moment to see Caterpie splattered against the wall, but their target was so small that most of the leaves missed Caterpie completely. Instead they bounced off the floor, some blowing straight into Michael’s face.

    “Aah!”

    He staggered back, sputtering as the paper-thin petals fell all around him. In the sidelines, Henry began to laugh.

    “How cute,” Bertha chuckled. “You look like you’ve been to a romantic dinner.”

    Michael brushed off the petals, fuming. “Caterpie, Bug Bite, now!”

    While Bertha had been busy, Caterpie had made surprising progress. It had advanced across the battlefield, and at Michael’s command, sank its teeth into the Cherrim’s skin. The Cherrim began to squeal, its knobby arms flailing, unable to throw off the parasite. By the time it managed to pry away the teeth, the wound was oozing some sort of green liquid, and the Cherrim was swaying.

    “Cherri, use—”

    “Bug Bite again! Again!” Michael said, jumping on the balls of his feet. Whatever the reason, the Bug Bite was working. The Caterpie threw itself onto the dazed Cherrim again, chewing every inch it could find with those teeth that seemed too sharp for its delicate body. There were a few moments of fruitless struggle, and then the Cherrim went limp, its eyes drifting closed.

    Bertha’s hand, which had been gripping her belt moments before, now unclipped Cherri’s pokéball to send it back.

    “Not bad, kid,” she said as the Cherrim dissolved away. “I had a trainer use one of those Caterpies on me before. I’ve never bothered with them, but they seem to give Cherri a hard time...” She switched the current pokéball with a new one.

    “But we’re far from done! Go, Turtle!” A ray of white light shot out from the pokéball, taking the form of Bertha’s Turtwig. Michael was glad Bertha couldn’t see the expression of curious recognition it was giving him when it landed in front of her.

    “Turtle, use Stealth Rock!” Bertha said.

    The Turtwig jumped, and when it landed, the floor shook. Tiny cracks appeared around Caterpie, out of which a circle of sharp, rocky spikes sprouted like stems. The ring of stone crushed tight around Caterpie’s body, leaving its green abdomen sticking out like a tiny stem. It wriggled in an effort to free itself.

    “Come on, get out of it!” Michael said. Caterpie’s tiny legs were working, pushing its narrow body out of the ring’s grip.

    “Turtle, now!”

    Her Turtwig rushed forward with surprising agility. As it ran, the ground cracked further, and the ring of rocks around Caterpie loosened and sank back into the floor. But before Caterpie could do so much as move, Turtwig jumped.

    And landed.

    There was a sickening crunch as it landed in a bellyflop, crushing the tiny body beneath it. When the Turtwig rolled off and bounded back to its trainer, Michael saw a long, flattened body. He didn’t even bother.

    "That does it every time,” Bertha smiled. “Caterpie is unable to battle." Michael avoided her gaze as he sent back the Caterpie.

    His final hope was Machop. It came out of the pokéball all curled up, actually rolling a few feet before it realized that it was time to get moving.

    Michael clapped once, and the Machop stood, stretching its arms in a way that was amusingly similar to what he did just before taking a nap in class.

    “Machop, use Focus Punch,” Michael commanded.

    Bertha took a sip from her water bottle and stepped back a few feet. She was getting ready for something; Michael could see the twinkle in her eyes.

    “All right. Time to make things a little more interesting,” Bertha said. “Turtle, use Leaf Storm!”

    The Turtwig tilted back its head once more, but it was different from the Razor Leaf attack Michael knew so well. It turned its head rapidly, and a small gust of leaves began to spin above its head, but instead of hurling towards Machop, they swelled into a kind of cloud, like a balloon filling up with air above the Turtwig’s head.

    At that moment, Machop seemed to freeze. Its red eyes followed the growing cloud.

    “What is it?” Michael said. “Come on, do the attack!”

    The Machop did not move, and in every wasted second, the cloud seemed to double in size. Whatever was going on behind Machop’s shaking eyes, it sure wasn’t a battle plan.

    With a cry, the Turtwig let loose. A jet of leaves shot away from the cloud and Machop dove to the side, evading the attack but not stopping at that. It continued to scamper around the battlefield, arms flailing, eyes panicking. Bertha chuckled, and Michael felt himself flush with anger.

    “Come back!” he said to the Machop. “Now!”

    The Machop ignored him. Its running game was becoming an inconvenience for Bertha’s Turtwig, who was launching wave after wave at its opponent, who quickly hurried out of the way. Some of the leaves hit the walls, others bounced off the lights and the photographs and knocked aside papers.

    After a while, the Turtwig decided that enough was enough. With another wave of its head, it send the remaining cloud of leaves rolling after Machop, like a paper ball attached to a string. The cloud followed Machop wherever it went, and when it realized this, the poor pokémon ran all the faster.

    Bertha chuckled. “I have to say, you’ve got a pretty energetic one there.”

    Machop bounded around and between them, bumping against walls and the benches. Finally, its legs gave way. The Machop tripped, skidding on its knees before coming to a stop in the middle of the battlefield. It backed against the ground, its chest pulsing with rapid breath. The cloud of leaves swallowed it whole. Michael heard an almost-human scream as Machop scrambled to its feet and began to run around again, arms flailing in an attempt to shake off the cloud. But the leaves surrounded its body even as it ran, pelting relentlessly.

    Machop continued its run for an impressive amount of time, screaming and kicking at the air. Michael stood there, wanting to do something but not knowing what, until the cloud cleared and Machop’s body was exposed, stiff on its belly.

    “I think that’s it for you, buddy,” said Bertha. “Unless you want to wait a minute?” She looked at Michael.

    The Machop didn’t look in the mood to get up. As Michael lifted the pokéball, he felt his throat close up.

    I lost. To a freaking Turtwig.

    For a minute, he couldn’t move. He was stuck staring at the pokéball, speechless. In the corner of his eye, he saw Bertha lean forward.

    "Uh... is that it? Do you have any more pokémon?" Michael looked first at her, then at Henry, who gave him a sympathetic shrug. But his eyes had a very I-told-you-so look about them.

    And suddenly, the idea came to him with all the glory of a shining bulb. Still looking at Henry, Michael grinned. "No, I have one more. My Starly."

    Henry did a double-take.

    "Okay. Send it out then," Bertha said. Michael walked over to the bench.

    "Forgot all about it, sorry!" he said. Henry slowly reached into his tote bag and handed him the pokéball. His expression was clouded, but it was easy for Michael to ignore as he walked back onto the battlefield.

    "Go, Starly!"

    The tiny bird's form shot out from the pokéball, assembling in midair with a series of screeches. Bertha nodded.

    "All right. Turtle, pin it down with Leech Seed!”

    "Starly, peck it!" he cried.

    Upon Michael's command, the Starly folded its wings and dove. The Turtwig didn't have time to complete the attack—it was knocked down on its back by a swift gust of wind. Starly landed right on top, and began pecking at the Turtwig as if it were a piece of fruit, its large black wings thumping.

    When Starly flew off, Michael saw the remains—scarred and shaking. The Turtwig was on its back, its feet plowing pathetically at the air as it tried to flip itself over.

    Bertha's jaw fell open. "Wow! Talk about a comeback! We’ll try another angle then. Turtle, use Razor Leaf!”

    The Turtwig heaved itself onto its feet. Michael didn’t wait. “Peck! Peck again!” he shouted, and the Starly landed. It pecked some more, and the Turtwig offered little resistance this time. “Don’t stop, don’t stop!” Michael was clenching his fists so tight that it hurt.

    Now, an edge of frustration had crept into Bertha’s face. “Hang in there! Use Razor Leaf!”

    "Dodge them!" Michael cried, throwing his arms out in front of him. As the leaves were launched, Starly looped out of their way. It was not entirely successful, however. A single leaf struck its side, sending it spiraling backwards. Starly flapped, regaining its balance, then dove forward again, Michael hanging on to its every move.



    //////



    “Hurry, this way!”

    “I really don’t get why we’re taking this road. I thought it was—”

    “Sssh! Just follow me.”

    “But what if someone sees us?”

    “No one will see. Just run. And be quiet!”

    “You know, we could be breaking the law right now. Is all this really worth the—”

    “Sssh!”

    “Yuck! I think I just stepped in something...”

    “Oh, grow up. It’s just gum.”

    “Shut up! My God, how many times do I have to tell you?”

    “I can’t see! It’s not my fault that these damn people were too lazy to put up streetlights, and now we’re bumping into things like a bunch of idiots! We could be walking right into a trap right now!”

    “I really think we should shut it now. I see the building.”

    “Right over there?”

    “That light. See? it’s a window.”

    “I see it! Everyone quiet! Ned, do you have the camera?”

    “Right here.”

    “Great. Tom, Bobby, are the speakers ready?”

    “Got them.”

    “Good. We’ll come in slowly. No one move without my command, got it?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Yep.”

    “Yes.”

    “Okay. Let’s go.”

    Two hands pulled apart a scrim of bushes, revealing the Galactic factory. The property was illuminated by blotches of white light, catching on the framework of pipes and chutes that laced the ground like vines. The buildings were plain and square, connected by metal roofs within the concrete jungle. A sign stood nearby, its letters screaming:


    PRIVATE PROPERTY!
    NO TRESPASSING

    VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.


    To Nancy, it might as well have said go.

    She gave the signal, and Ned produced a large pair of metal clippers and snapped the lock on the gate. It fell into the bushes. Ned discarded the clippers and the crew shuffled into the lot, Nancy in the lead. She had expected some sort of alarm to go off when they had broken the gate, but none had. There were no security cameras she could spot, but she was still careful to move slowly, slinking around the perimeter with her team following behind in the shadows.

    The factory opened itself to them like a multilayered shell. Though her heart was lodged in her throat and her hands trembled with her every move, Nancy couldn’t help but admire its beauty. The factory wasn’t just one building, as it had seemed from the outside—it was a compound of several structures, all of which were connected by a network of wires and lights.

    Ned snapped several photos as they went along. The buildings were varied in shape and size, and some of them had enormous additions which poked out of the sides like the exposed flesh of an alien robot.

    Some of the buildings had smokestacks, which struck out dramatically against the night sky. They were laced with some sort of material that reflected the dusty glare of the moon, and held Nancy’s gaze when she passed them. As they advanced, the noise from the machinery became like a deep heartbeat off in the distance. It was almost like a little piece of home.

    “Get back!”

    It took her a while to realize that the voice was talking to her. A hand pulled her back, and she hit the fence alongside the rest of her team. Nancy was about to turn at them when Tom pressed a finger to his lips.

    “Worker,” he whispered.

    Nancy looked out. A factory worker—she couldn’t see if it was a man or woman—had appeared from behind a corner to pace about, looking up at the sky. Their back was turned. Nancy placed both hands behind her and held her breath. If the person were to look over in their direction, their presence would immediately be given away. And it was just too darn early for that.

    She waited, but the worker did not look back. Their finger was tracing something in the sky, and they often looked down at a sheet of paper in their hands. They scribbled something, then disappeared again behind the building.

    “Man, these people are weird...” Nancy whispered.

    The team went on, their hands moving across the fence like rock climbers’. It was a while, but eventually, the building they were looking for came out from its hiding place. It stood alone, surrounded by a low metal fence that announced its division from the rest of the factory. This building was smaller, with a slanted roof and windows that glowed with room-light. It would have been completely missed by an observer looking in from the outside. It looked like a house in miniature.

    Nancy rounded the building’s corner, searching for a good spot. She found one—a single square window that opened up at the side, the sill lined with flowerpots. The curtains behind it were drawn, though there was a slip of yellow light wide enough to obtain a medium-resolution image of the inside.

    She motioned for the team to stop. They were in a pocket of shade beside the house, literally on the threshold of survival. Her palms tingled. The team crowded around her.

    “Remember what we rehearsed,” Nancy said. “I come in with Ned first, then when the coast is clear, Tom and Bobby, you guys follow.” The three nodded their approval.

    The next few feet were quite possibly the longest of Nancy’s life. She tiptoed first, then broke into an all-out sprint across the open walkway, and collapsed at her knees beside the fence. Ned plopped down beside her, rushing to turn the camera on. They were separated from the window by about five feet, but it was enough for her to tell what was going on.

    There was a tiny crack between the curtains that allowed a slip of orange light to show. Ned aimed the lens, and Nancy looked over his shoulder at the image.

    She was peering into what appeared to be a study room. It was flooded with books and papers, some tacked to the walls and others hanging out of bookshelves. In the corner was the edge of a large bed. A man sat at the desk, his back to the window, buried in paperwork. Nancy saw the tweed coat and hat hanging by the door, and with a jolt, recognized the man from the marketplace.

    “Jackpot...” Ned zoomed in.

    The man was reading. Not that interesting, but what held Nancy’s attention was the bulletin board hanging on the wall in front of him. It contained all sorts of diagrams and charts, and a detailed cross-section of what looked to be a very complicated piece of machinery.

    “Ned, are you getting this?” Nancy said. “Look at the papers he has up there.”

    Ned adjusted the focus so that the bulletin board took up the whole screen. The image was blurred, and she could only read the largest, most detailed papers. At that moment, Tom and Bobby sat down behind them.

    “Whoa! What are those?”

    “They look like cross-sections of something,” said Tom. “Can you get a closer shot, Ned?”

    “Nope. This is the best I can do.” He snapped a few pictures.

    “Look at that one.” Nancy pressed her thumb to the biggest chart. It was also the highest up, and cut off from the screen at the edge.

    “It looks like… a rocket!” said Tom.

    Bobby shook his head. “No way.”

    “Yes way. Look, there’s the engine, and the thrusters, and the wings... my God.” Tom pointed to several points around the picture, and indeed, Nancy began to see the object’s three-dimensional outline. Her breath froze.

    “Is that what they’re building, then?” she said.

    “Impossible,” said Ned. “This place isn’t big enough to hold an entire rocket ship.”

    “Well, obviously they’re making it in parts,” said Bobby. “Then all they’d have to do would be to send it somewhere else to be assembled.”

    “Like Veilstone?” Nancy turned. “That would explain why Team Galactic’s headquarters is located there. The whole freaking city is surrounded by mountains. No one would be able to see a thing.”

    “This might be a bit of a stretch,” said Tom, “but I think Galactic’s planning a space mission that they want to keep secret for some reason. Remember when the Rockets discovered that pokémon Deoxys?”

    “Yes.” Nancy gritted her teeth. “Goddamn SNN just had to get the story. Of course Team Rocket would talk to them and not me...”

    “But everyone already knows about Deoxys,” said Bobby. “What else would the Galactics want to keep from us?”

    “Oh, loads. And it doesn’t matter, because they can keep whatever they want a secret. For all we know, Deoxys is some super hybrid alien that wants to launch an attack on the planet.”

    The team chuckled. Nancy sucked in her breath.

    “Well, we probably won’t get much praise for speculating, but it’s better than nothing. We’ll take some pictures, and tomorrow we’ll send them into Jubilife. Now all we have to do…”

    She turned back to face the window, but to her surprise, the room was empty. The chair was pushed off to the side, and the man was gone.

    “What the... where did he go?”

    “That’s weird. I just saw him.” Ned adjusted the camera. “Maybe he went into a different room.”

    Bobby shook his head. “Something’s not right about this place. I feel it… I think we should go.”

    But before any of them could move, a new voice issued from the silence.

    “Well, well, well.”

    The team went completely still.

    The man from the marketplace was standing behind them, flanked on either side by several security guards, their guns glinting in the orange light.

    “It’s time we sorted this out. Take ’em.”



    //////



    "Peck it, peck it!"

    Michael’s eyes were narrowed in determination. Starly was in the process of attacking Turtle with its beak, and the Turtwig was flinching back under the force of the blows. The Razor leaves had done their job, but in the midst of the attack, Starly had trapped Turtwig in another close-combat face-off. The few minutes after he had sent out the Starly had turned the tables. For the first time, Bertha was beginning to back down, her taunting smile replaced by an unreadable stare.

    Bertha was watching the struggle, clenching her fist around her remaining pokéball. “Turtle! Get him off!”

    But the Starly was relentless. It continued to flap and peck, while the Turtwig’s head and legs inched further and further into its shell. When Starly finally moved away, Turtle had closed its eyes for good. Michael smiled.

    "Yeah! Now that's what I'm talking about!"

    From the side, Henry began to clap. “Woooooo!”

    "Don't get too confident, we're not over yet!" Bertha said. She switched Turtle's pokéball with another one from her knapsack.

    "Go, Rose!"

    From a beam of white light, the Roselia-thing appeared before him. Bertha looked down at it longer than she had at her other pokémon, and Michael used the brief pause to ask his question.

    "Bertha... is that a Roselia?"

    "Yeah." Bertha held up her hand. "I know, I know, it looks different. I have no idea what happened; one day she was normal, and the next day I just took her out of her pokéball and found her like this. It shouldn't affect our battle, though. If anything..." she paused to wink, "she's gotten a lot stronger since then. So you better watch out! Rose, use Shadow Ball!"

    Michael clenched his fists. "Starly, dodge it!" For a split second, he looked over to see a ball of black materialize in the Roselia’s hands. He turned back to the Starly, who was flying around in circles. "Come on, you're gonna get hit! Get out of the way!"

    The Shadow Ball was released into the air. Michael closed his eyes, waiting for the pained screech and the thump that would accompany it. But nothing came. When he opened his eyes, he saw that Starly was still flapping away in the air, the Shadow Ball gone.

    Bertha too seemed surprised. "Wow! I've never seen anything like that before!"

    "What? What happened?"

    "Your bird. It just absorbed the attack. Like there was some sort of force field around it." Bertha looked over to him, her eyes searching. "Has that ever happened before?"

    Michael was still. "Uh... I don't know. I never really paid any attention to it. I guess."

    Bertha held his gaze for a moment, then chuckled. "Well, you must have really been training! Rose, let's try something else. Use Poison Jab!"

    "Starly, peck again!"

    As Rose jumped forward, Starly met it with its beak outstretched. When the pokémon collided, Rose was sent back down, flailing. The momentum had taken its toll on Starly as well; its flight became irregular and labored.

    "Use Poison Jab again, Rose!" Bertha cried. The Roselia struggled to its feet, the flowers on its hands curling into talons.

    The Starly dipped lower, letting out what could only be its final screech of despair before it fell to the ground.

    "No!" Michael shouted. "Starly, get out of the way! Move! Fly higher!" His words seemed to have no effect, which only angered him further. "Starly, move! Be a brave bird, for God's sake!"

    At this, Starly's beady eyes widened. Its wings began to flap, and it steadily regained its height. As the Roselia broke out into a run, the Starly let out a loud, vibrating screech, folded its wings, and lurched forward, gathering speed. The tiny bird was literally hurling everything it had at its opponent.

    Michael didn’t even have time to blink. The gray blur collided with the Roselia, throwing both bodies back against the wall. When they collided, the entire building seemed to shake.

    “Whoa!” Henry rose from his seat. Michael went to inspect, and Bertha followed him. Rose's body peeled away from the wall, tattered and motionless. Several feet away, Starly was on the ground, groping for footing. Shaking, but nevertheless moving.

    Michael's jaw dropped open.

    "Well, there's the mother of all comebacks!” Bertha said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a match that close since I did my battling exam to become a Leader!” She looked at Michael. “What? Don’t just stand there. I’m sure your Starly doesn’t want to claw dirt forever.”

    Michael took out the pokéball with shaking hands, and called the Starly back inside. Bertha did the same.

    “I have to say, I'm impressed. I don’t like to believe that someone’s tough before I’ve seen it with my own eyes. You've earned yourself the Forest Badge."

    "Yeeeeaahhh!" Henry shouted, jumping to his feet.

    Bertha allowed the applause for a moment before continuing. “Now onto your review. Your battle style is good, but somewhat rusty. Back when Turtle used Leaf Storm on your Machop, you stood there for about a whole minute. During that minute, you could’ve done something to save yourself. A trainer never wastes time. Get what I’m saying?”

    Michael nodded.

    “Great then.” Bertha went back to her desk, rummaged a bit, then came out with a shiny coin. Its edges were jagged, and it was painted a bright green.

    "Thanks," Michael said.

    "Hold your horses, kid." Bertha reached into her knapsack and took out several bills. Their green was the brightest of all. Michael was still trembling as he took them into his hands.

    "Pay attention now." Bertha snapped her fingers, and Michael looked up. "Next Gym's in Hearthome City. And by that face of yours, I can tell that you're a person who likes the green." She nodded towards the money folded up in his hands. "Don't lose your head there. Please oh please. Folks there are big on gambling, and I'll tell you right now that if you don't keep that money safe, you'll lose it all. Got it?"

    Michael nodded.

    "Good. Have a safe trip."

    "Thanks."

    Michael turned for the door. Henry ran up to him, the cage clattering against his side.

    "That was so awesome!" he said. "But why didn't you tell me you wanted to use Starly?"

    "It was a last minute decision, okay? And besides, without it, I would have lost." Michael took a deep breath. “And I almost did. That was… intense. I never knew that trainers had it so rough.”

    Henry looked at him. “How do you feel about challenging the League now?” It wasn’t a taunt, which came as a genuine surprise to Michael. “Do you think you can handle it?”

    “Of course. I just said it was intense. All we need is a more rounded team for next time. In fact, we should work on that when we get to Hearthome.”

    Henry beamed. "Totally. But wasn’t Starly the greatest?”

    “Yeah. It totally swept Bertha's team.”

    “Why, though?"

    "I guess flying is effective against grass," Michael said. He chuckled in spite of himself, alleviating the quakes that still wracked his body. "I'll have to add it to the chart."

    They left the battle area and walked up to their rooms. Before they parted ways, Henry stopped.

    “Oh, and one thing,” he said. “Can I use the Starly tomorrow? You know, because...”

    Michael handed him the pokéball. “Yeah, sure. Just don’t use the exact same moves I used or she’ll think that we helped each other.”

    “Got it.”

    Just then, they heard the door to the battle room close. Bertha was coming.

    “Shoot!” Michael slipped into his room. “See you tomorrow,” he said to Henry before closing the door.



    //////



    “No, please! You don’t understand, we weren’t trying to—”

    “Save it!” The guard tightened his grip on Nancy’s arm. She was being led down a long, narrow tunnel that was lit with buzzing orange lamps that left stains on her vision when they flicked by. Her heart was hammering in her throat, and her knees knocked together every so often, causing her to trip over her heels.

    They reached a door at the end, which two more guards pushed open to reveal a tiny room. Nancy and her team were thrown down at a metal table. Their equipment had been confiscated, Nancy’s tape recorder smashed against the ground. Its splinters were probably being burned in the incinerator now, belching from the smokestacks she had been staring at scarcely ten minutes ago.

    The chair she had been forced into was cold, unfriendly. A lone ceiling lamp heated her face, only dimly outlining the guards that stood at every corner of the room. They leered in the half-light. Nancy rose from her chair, wringing her hands.

    “Please! We weren’t doing anything bad, all we wanted was—”

    “Shut up!”

    A guard forced her back into her seat. Then came the bang of a slamming door, and the man from the marketplace entered the room, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

    “People have always fascinated me, you know. Your type in particular. You paparazzi just go on and on about your little business, oblivious to the personal cares of those around you. You poke your noses into things you don’t belong in. Isn’t a ‘keep out’ sign enough these days? Or should I really throw you in jail? I could, you know.” He put his hands down on the table. “There’s a reason we keep the public out of our operations. Our projects do not concern you. Do you understand me?”

    Nancy nodded, but before she could insert her defense, the man went on.

    “Trespassing. Defacing company property. Illegally recording classified material...” He tallied off their offenses with his fingers as he paced around the table. “Not to mention, a blatant ignorance of company policy!”

    “What policy?” said Bobby. “Where does it say that we’re not allowed to interview you? We have freedom of the press!”

    The man lunged at the table again, gripping the edge with his fists. “Freedom of the press my ass. Team Galactic is a closed-door company. That means we don’t take pictures, we don’t take interviews. Not from national corporations, not from a bunch of snot-nosed street rats with homemade cameras. End of story.”

    The man leaned away, stepping out of the light again. “Now, I will explain this very clearly,” he said. “I have a direct telephone line to Veilstone City. I can call whoever I want, whenever I want, twenty-five hours a day. I can have you four locked up for life, and on top of that, I can shut down your little production company forever. Who do you work for?”

    “No one,” Nancy mumbled. “Sinnoh Now is its own company.”

    The man smiled. “Ah. Trying to make it on your own, eh? Hoping you’ll make the big time and have your own little TV show one day by snatching a quick one behind my back? But things didn’t go exactly how you planned today, did they?” He leaned in again, this time so close that Nancy could smell the cigarette smoke that reeked from his every word. “Because I can take that dream away from you faster than you can say ‘go’. And you know I will. You messed with the wrong people.”

    He looked at each of them in turn, his gaze poking a hole through Nancy’s composure. She could actually feel the tears coming as he turned for the door.

    It slammed, and two guards took their places beside it.

    Nancy buried her face in her hands and began to cry for real. This time, none of her companions tried to stop her.

    “Well, now what?” said Tom.

    “We’re over, that’s what. Might as well pack our stuff and go home.” Bobby leaned back in his chair, arms crossed.

    “If we don’t end up in jail, that is.”

    “Man, now that I think about it, that guy was right,” Bobby said. “All this for a stupid story?”

    “Will — you — STOP!” Nancy threw up her head at them, teeth clenched. Face red and mascara running, she once again resembled a monster. “At least I’m actually trying to do something! All you guys do is sit around and wait for me to tell you where to go! You never do anything by yourselves! Never! You just hang back and let me do all the work! You barely carry your own weight, and now you’re just quitting! Quitting on my work! All you want now is to save your sorry asses from jail. You don’t even care that everything we — oh, sorry, I — have worked for is being flushed down the drain!”

    Tom looked at her in disbelief. “What? We’ve been with you every step of the way!”

    “Yeah!” said Bobby. “Who was it that raised all the money to buy a van, huh? Who was it that put together that list of phone numbers for the interviews?”

    Ned nodded his agreement. “Yeah, Nancy, you’re being completely unfair. You haven’t been a complete miracle either, you know.”

    “Honestly, if we burst into tears every time something went wrong, then this project would have fallen apart years ago,” said Bobby. “I, at least, try to keep it together when life throws a little mud on my shoe.”

    Nancy’s eyes flashed. “I, at least, have the organization to get things done around here! For some reason, I have the time to arrange meetings, map out all our routes, and pick up empty Coca Cola cans from the van’s floor that SOME PEOPLE are too lazy to throw away! And I don’t complain!”

    “What’s the big deal if I forget once or twice? At least I learn from my mistakes and don’t forget to fill up the tank before we go, like this one.” He pointed at Tom.

    “So you want to start this again?” Tom turned his chair to face Bobby. “That was one time! One freaking time!”

    “You know what, Bobby?” said Nancy. “I think the reason you always hang on to other people’s mistakes is because you make so many of them that it’s nice to see someone else screw up for a change!”

    Bobby threw up his hands. “Why are you all ganging up on me now? If you want to talk about mistakes, I’ll give you one right now — this! It was a mistake to come here from the beginning, but did anyone listen to me? No! Because no one ever listens!”

    “Because you never have anything good to say!” Nancy said. “All you do is whine! ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do that, this is such a chore, blah blah blah!’”

    “Nancy’s right,” Tom said. “If you at least pulled your own weight, then maybe we’d get things done a lot faster!”

    Nancy turned her scowl on him. “Oh, don’t act so innocent, Mr. Stoic! Ever since we got put on probation by SNN, you’ve been nothing but a pain! Right when it’s our time to work, you decide to take a vacation—”

    “How is that bad?” Tom retorted. “Sorry for not having a maniacal drive like yours, but I happen to be a human being who needs to take their mind off of show business every once in a while. What’s the crime in that? I work just as hard as you do, Nancy—”

    Nancy gripped the edge of her chair. “IF I HADN’T PUSHED YOUR LAZY BEHINDS OUT OF JUBILIFE, YOU’D ALL BE DRIVING GARBAGE TRUCKS! DON’T YOU DARE TALK TO ME ABOUT HARD FUCKING WORK!”

    “Well at least I—”

    “Guys, just shut up!”

    The bickering trio paused for breath. In their heated face-off, they had forgotten all about Ned, who had been listening quietly the whole time. His sudden outburst made them turn.

    “What, Ned?” Nancy snapped. “Would you like to add to the discussion?”

    “No, because the discussion is pointless!” Ned slapped the table. “Look at yourselves! You’re acting like a bunch of kids! Do you think that arguing will change anything about our current situation? We’re here, we’re in hot water, and nothing anyone has said in the past two minutes has helped us find a way out!”

    Nancy and Tom exchanged glares, and settled back. Bobby rolled his eyes.

    “Oh sure, sure, now everyone listen to Ned’s infinite wisdom—”

    “Shut up, Bobby!” said Tom.

    “See what I mean?” Ned said. “You guys are such... I don’t even know what to call it. Point is, you are a team. Everyone has their place, everyone has their job. Everyone’s important! You guys just hang on to every little thing that goes wrong. All people have their own problems, okay? But the point of making a group effort is to get past them and work towards a common goal!”

    The trio exchanged glances again. Now that most of her anger had been let out, Nancy was able to take a deep breath.

    “Fine. I guess you’re right. We should be worrying about how to get out of here, first of all...”

    “I don’t think that’ll work out.” Tom looked at the tough-looking guards who stood by the door.

    Nancy shook her head. “I can't believe this. All our footage… all our equipment, gone. This’ll cost hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to replace! We might as well be starting from square one.”

    “Don’t worry about the equipment,” said Tom, dropping his voice. “It’s not the worst thing that could’ve happened. They don’t know about our van.”

    “And they haven’t sued us yet,” Ned added.

    “But they can’t really put us in jail, though, right?” said Bobby. “I mean... what we did wasn’t that bad. Well, it was bad, but not bad bad. I understand a fine or something, but prison?”

    “Didn’t you hear the guy?” said Nancy. “He said he has a direct line to Veilstone. He can call whoever he wants to call. Hell, he’s probably dialing the number right now.”

    “He could’ve just been lying to scare us. Those big-business guys do it all the time.”

    “I don’t know... Something tells me he’s not the lying type,” said Tom, twiddling his thumbs.

    The team fell into silence.

    Nancy ran her fingers through her hair. “Well, there’s no point in speculating. Let’s just not make things worse and wait it out. Hopefully, this whole thing will blow over and we can leave for someplace else tomorrow.”


    How right she was.
    Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 20th September 2011 at 11:43 PM.


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  17. #142
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    i love this story you are a great writer you should keep doing this you could go really far. like this far >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >> ,yeah that far, seriously though you write great plz put me on the pm list
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  18. #143
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    ths story is great! ive been readig it for a while but i didnt really say anything. can you put me on the pm list.
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  19. #144
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    grayzoroark and ninetails012: Thanks so much! I'm glad you like the story. Both of you will be added to the PM list.


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  20. #145
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    Wooty woot woot
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  21. #146
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    As usual excellent chapter, made for a good read early in the morning :P
    The battle was super duper exciting with the caterpie doing a pretty good job with that bug bite.
    I have a question though. Did starly ACTUALLY use the move brave bird when Michael told it to be one? Well that surely saved his neck!
    Overall a good chapter, although i did find some lines confusing, dunno if they're typos:
    Michael had Henry had gone outside a final time
    Shouldn't this be Michael and Henry?

    only dimly outlining the guards the stood at every corner of the room.
    outlining the guards who stood....sounds better.
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  22. #147
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    Ah. Thanks for catching those errors. Yes, it was supposed to be Michael AND Henry, and the 'the' was actually supposed to be 'that'. Typos are inevitable :P

    And yes, Starly did use the move Brave Bird. Michael doesn't know the attack's name, but when he said the words, the Starly automatically assumed he was commanding it to use the attack.

    I'm glad you liked the chapter. Thanks for stopping by! I'll go ahead and fix those typos now...


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  23. #148
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    Hey great chapter! I've been following this fic for a while and I really like where its headed ^_^ I also thought it was pretty cool how he accidentally made Starly use brave bird. Could I please be added to the PM list? Keep up the good work!
    Pokemon breeder, PM me if your interested ^_^

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  24. #149
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    Although I'm wondering why machop didn't take any damage from the stealth rock set up by turtwig? And it seems to have damaged caterpie instead, who was already in the battle.....sorry for being so fussy about all this
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    RagingDarkness: All right, you're in! PM list updated. Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you're enjoying the story

    menonabhi123: Machop wasn't affected by Stealth Rock because Stealth Rock wasn't there anymore. Remember, Turtwig took it off when it went to deal the 'killing' blow to Caterpie. I know it's a bit of a stretch from the in-game move, but I thought that it would be more realistic if Stealth Rock lingered for only as long as the user chose it to. I switched the move's role around so that it would only damage Caterpie instead of every pokemon the opponent sends out afterward, because it just made more sense that way. Forgive my disregard for in-game canon :x


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