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Thread: Chronicles of Unova (PG-15)

  1. #201
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glover View Post
    In this case, I disagree. Most Highways and REoutes around me are spelled with a number an dnot the word, and Route 2 would fall under that. Tehexcaptions beig Tenth Street,but Instarste 5 or I-5 is alsways Insterstate 5, not I-Five.
    You're probably right. Since the routes in Unova are the actual names of the area, it's probably best to leave them as numerals. But in other instances when using quantities, it's always best to spell out numbers unless they're redonkulously long (I forget the rule)

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  2. #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    You're probably right. Since the routes in Unova are the actual names of the area, it's probably best to leave them as numerals. But in other instances when using quantities, it's always best to spell out numbers unless they're redonkulously long (I forget the rule)
    One of my reviewers said the same thing. I believe it's <100

    EDIT: Yes according to bobandbill, it is less than 100.
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  3. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    I've started reading through this story lately and I have to say, I am not disappointed. People tend to look down on journey fics, but this story is a clear exception to that stereotype. The detail you put in your writing is incredible and the writing quality itself flows so well and is just downright amazing. I haven't gotten very far in the story yet, but here are some specific comments on the chapter I'm on now:
    Thank you for the support. Always nice to get detailed critiques like this; that's one reason I've come to appreciate NACHOE's comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    One thing I'd like to point out is that in formal writing (or at least semi-formal in this case), small numbers like two should be written out rather than using the numeral form. It's just more formal and more accepted.
    As Glover pointed out, in the games themselves, they have always been referred to as "Route 1," "Route 2," "Route 30" etc... I don't use actual numbers very often though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    It's certainly nice to see a plot element like David and Bianca's relationship alongside the Unova league plot. My only suggestion is to make sure that the relationship doesn't dominate the story, otherwise this'll turn into a shipping fic. Keep your separate elements perfectly balanced; romance is good, but you'll need some action and adventure to balance it out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    Don't overuse your italics. They should be used sparingly to put emphasis on important words in a sentence or to stress inflections in a character's speech. If they're used too often, their effect becomes somewhat diluted.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    You seem to be doing this a lot. Don't put more than one speaker in the same paragraph when using quotes. That's just an accepted rule.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    See above. I'm not going to point out any more of these, so just be aware.
    I hope I don't sound rude or scare you off from reading more, but please remember that based on the things you've been quoting, you are about two or three chapters into a story which currently sits at nineteen. I hardly even remember the things you're quoting they're so old; rest assured that I have gotten significantly better at writing in the ~17 chapters that have elapsed since that time. Many of the things you identified are valid, but have gone by the wayside along with my inexperience. Things really start to pick up around the Castelia City chapter in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatino95 View Post
    I really like Paula as a character too. You're really good at making likeable characters.
    Lol. You ain't seen nothing yet in regards to Paula.

    As I said, thanks for your support and readership. Critiques like this are always very appreciated. Just know that I've improved significantly since the start of the story.

  4. #204
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    Chaos, did you see my post on the previous page asking to be on the pm list? Also, I love cheren.



    Major credit to level99love for the bar
    White fc: 3482 1973 6701.

    Uu for true ... i cant find the qwilfish sprite :P

  5. #205
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    Hi everyone, just a quick update to quell any accidental fear some of our more astute readers might have. I just finished updating chapters 1-7 to reflect the style of Author's Notes that I've been using ever since Chapter 8; that is, putting them in spoiler tags so that they don't distract from the actual story itself. The stupid little "lasted edited on..." message is now forever tagged to the end of those chapters now however, so I wanted to mention specifically how I edited them so no one would think I changed the actual content of any of the chapters. The change was only to the Author's Notes for those chapters, and it is only to make them look more professional and in-line with the style of the other chapters.

    Chapter 20 should be along soon at our regular time. I like how it is coming together so far; maybe not the best one yet, but it's solid.

    Thanks for reading, guys. Stay tuned.

        Spoiler:- :

  6. #206
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post

    Chapter 20 should be along soon at our regular time. I like how it is coming together so far; maybe not the best one yet, but it's solid.

    Thanks for reading, guys. Stay tuned.

        Spoiler:- :
    Hahaha, Hi! I've been trying to find some time to actually sit down and write a really nice review, but it's Black Friday weekend and I've been swamped at work.

    But I have tomorrow and Sunday off, so I'll be able to sit down and write an intelligent review then. (:

    I will say, the second the story was up, I put it on my iPod to listen to it, and I have only good feelings on it right now. Just so you know (because I find it somewhat interesting), with the Speech option of the Mac computers, your chapter is currently longer than an episode of StriatonRadio. hahah. I'm going to re-read it though, since it's a bit hard to pay 100% attention to a chapter that takes almost 3 hours to listen to, haha.

    Anyways, I'll have a review up soon, no worries. Sorry for taking so long! Black Friday is awesome. As long as you're not working. (:
    Last edited by jstinftw!; 25th November 2011 at 8:59 AM.

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  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post
    I hope I don't sound rude or scare you off from reading more, but please remember that based on the things you've been quoting, you are about two or three chapters into a story which currently sits at nineteen. I hardly even remember the things you're quoting they're so old; rest assured that I have gotten significantly better at writing in the ~17 chapters that have elapsed since that time. Many of the things you identified are valid, but have gone by the wayside along with my inexperience. Things really start to pick up around the Castelia City chapter in my opinion.
    Yeah, I'm mostly just a stickler for things like that. I shouldn't really have been pointing out trivial mistakes specific to the chapter since the chapter was really old. Anyways, I sort of forgot about this story ever since I made that review, so I'll start reading a bit more now that I have a whole weekend to do it.

    Edit: LOVE the Chuck Berry reference in chapter 5.

    Edit: And a Beatles reference in the same chapter? This is too good. (it actually took me a while to catch that one)
    Last edited by Gelatino95; 26th November 2011 at 5:17 AM.

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  8. #208
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    Awwwww yeah. I'm back... *****es.

    Just a quicky. Do you plan to continue the story after the end of the "Post-game"?
    My Pokemon

    BlitzBreaker Stryker Micheal Zack Alex Brett :26:







  9. #209
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    I'm on chapter 8 now, and so far, Burgh is my favorite character. I hope he comes back later.

    EDIT: just finished some more chapters. Strangely enough, I was writing Aerodactyl and Absol into my fic before I even started reading the story of Gustavo. This must mean something.
    Last edited by Gelatino95; 27th November 2011 at 9:06 PM.

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  10. #210
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        Spoiler:- Author's Notes:


    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 20: The Ice Mask (Brycen's Tale)
    Part 1 of 2

    As the group of errant travelers exited Twist Mountain and stepped out into the moors surrounding Icirrus City, the cool December sun found a break in the clouds and shone down on them; in the snowy, wet, northern terrain, the trainers were very welcoming of the sparse rays of light and heat. The northern exit to Twist Mountain marked the farthest reaches of the Mistralton Valley; the path wound east down some gently rolling hills, but the terrain beyond that where the city lay was something they had not seen since leaving Driftveil: flat. From their perch, the waterlogged town seemed to rise right out of the willows themselves in the distance. Thick forests and swamps surrounded the city on all sides, and anywhere they didn’t see seasonal drifts of snow, they saw murky ponds and marshlands. The northern, coastal city was smaller than the likes of Driftveil to the south or Opelucid to the east, but its pastoral windmills and soggy terrain had their own sort of charm to them; something about the city just made them smile. After enjoying the scenery and catching their breath for a moment, the group began down the path through the hills towards the city.

    “Anyway, what were you saying, David?” Bianca asked, still clinging to his arm after their time apart.

    “Uhh…” he said, trying to remember what he had been saying before they had stopped to look at the countryside. “Oh yeah, right; when the rock slide stopped, I started looking around for her Pokéball and found it in with some of the rubble. A boulder must have crushed it while we were trying to escape, so Paula just spent the last day out with me as we made our way through the caves.” he continued. “It wasn’t really a big deal; we had fun, right, Paula?” he asked, turning towards his Gardevoir with a smile. She returned the gesture and nodded a single time.

    “Master David is correct, Ms. Bianca; it was most enjoyable. It was good exercise too.” she replied. David raised an eyebrow and grinned.

    “‘Exercise?’” David asked in feign surprise. “What do you mean ‘exercise?’ You levitated the whole time, lazy.” he said with a laugh. Paula’s smile curled farther and she turned her head back towards the path.

    “Preservation of energy and motion are typically viewed as very feminine traits, master. I did not mean for me though, I meant for you; I did not want to say anything, but…” she said sarcastically, trailing off for effect. David spat a mixture of a laugh and a scoff at her explanation.

    “Me?!” he said incredulously. “Pfft! Whatever, man! I was going to say you didn’t need any and that you’re already really thin as it is, but fine, if that’s how you want to be.” he continued, pretending to be offended. Paula giggled softly and pushed against his shoulder affectionately. David smiled as she looked away, shutting her eyes and trying to act aloof; David chuckled at her subtlety.

    The four travelers had traversed about half of the distance from where their conversation had started to Icirrus City by now; they were about to gain a fifth however. As they crested the top of one of the hills along their path, they noticed a man standing farther down the road. He wore a calm, yet very large smile on his face, and his arms were folded over his chest. He was standing facing the north, looking out at a structure just beyond the city. The trainers recognized him instantly.

    “Cedric?!” David said in surprise. “Cedric Juniper? Is that you?” he asked. The man stirred from his daydream and turned to face the familiar voice. His grin grew markedly less calm as he recognized his daughter’s protégés.

    “David, you old dog! Great to see you! And Cheren and Bianca, wonderful to see you two as well! You made it out of the valley I see; smashing work!” Cedric chimed up. His magnanimous, toothy grin spread and he raised a thumbs-up to them as they approached. Though they were happy to see him, they were just as startled to see him as he was to see them. Cheren spoke up to question his being there.

    “What are you doing here, Professor?” he asked politely, but with mild surprise; Cedric wagged his finger, seemingly not understanding the question.

    “I could ask you the same thing, young man. Hahaha!” he said with mock sternness. Cheren turned to his friends in confusion and slight disbelief before answering.

    “Uh… no? We’re heading into Icirrus City to battle the Gym Leader; our reason makes perfect sense.” Cheren responded. “Last time we saw you, you and Professor Juniper were going back to Nuvema Town to do your research on Klink; how did that turn out?” he asked, trying to clarify his logic. Cedric seemed perplexed for a moment, but then remembered what Cheren was talking about.

    “Oh! That old rubbish? Bah, I got bored with that when Aurea started making me document all my work.” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “Her mother and I made sure she was sent to some of the best schools in the world to become as highly regarded as she is, but those ‘institutions’ filled her with a bunch of rules and style methods that I wish they hadn’t.” he continued; he sighed before saying more. “For instance, can you believe she actually expects me to write down every little thing I find? And she’s got this writing notation she expects me to use that’s just utter hogwash. Why, just the other day she got mad at me for putting my coffee down on one of her papers; can you believe it? She said something about it ‘staining the page’ and ‘leaving a ring,’ because apparently I ‘blotted out a calculation she had been working on for three days straight.’ I dunno, women problems, am I right?” he said, stressing the last words with a shake of his head and a hearty laugh. Cheren looked at his friends uneasily at Cedric’s overt comments.

    “Uhm… Professor? Don’t you think you should try to work together with your daughter a little more?” David asked as Cheren looked at him. “I mean… she is your daughter, and writing down your findings and keeping organized notes will probably help when you try to publish your findings, right?” he continued. Cedric stared at him as if that were the most foreign sounding thought in the world to him.

    “Geeze, David, you sound like one of them.” he said in mock surprise. Paula and Bianca glared at him subtly, but he seemed to either not notice or not care. “I mean, publishing what we find? Who has time for that? I research Pokémon because I think it is interesting personally; if Aurea wants to publish her notes, that’s her prerogative, but I research things that interest me for my own benefit. She made it boring, so I left; that’s why I’m here actually.” he continued.

    “So wait, you’re just done researching Klink? It hasn’t been more than a month since we saw you in Mistralton!” Cheren said with almost a slight degree of annoyance creeping into his voice. Cedric had already prepared himself mentally to start explaining about whatever had peaked his interest in Icirrus; he seemed almost annoyed at Cheren’s reluctance to move onto the new topic as well.

    “Yeah, Cheren, I just said, she made it boring. I lost interest, so I moved onto my next project. Aurea can finish it on her own, she’s plenty capable; it was her research project in the beginning anyway…” he muttered. Cheren seemed very displeased with that answer, but he left it alone. “You know what I’m talking about, right, David?” Cedric said, slapping David’s shoulder with his palm. His receptive, masculine gesture was a little rougher than David had anticipated; he winced at the strike, but smiled to be polite and nodded.

    “Uh, yeah… sure…” he mumbled. “So uh… what was it you came here to see then, Cedric?” he asked. Cedric smiled and looked back out at the structure he had been watching when they arrived.

    “See that big ol’e tower out there beyond the trees?” he asked. “That is known as ‘Dragonspiral Tower,’ and it is the single oldest structure in all of Unova. It was built by the ancestral people of the Unova region in the time before the Prima Pax Unova. They say it has something to do with the Legendary Dragons.” he continued. A mystified tone had sunken into his voice; he seemed lost in a daydream as he stared at the massive tower.

    “Really?” David asked in surprise. “Like what?” he asked; any information he could gain about the Dragons that didn’t come from N himself could be of use to him if push came to shove. Cedric sighed and started heading down the path towards the city; he motioned for them to follow.

    “Legend says that when Zekrom and Reshiram split and became two separate dragons, the place they did it was at the top of Dragonspiral Tower. There is of course no way to know if that’s true or not, but that’s the legend.” he explained. “The tower has no way in and no way out; no human has seen the inside for thousands of years.” he said with a sigh. “I knew it was a long-shot, but I thought I’d come and at least see the outside of the tower, even if I can’t go in.” he continued. There was a sense of melancholy to his stride that was very uncharacteristic for him; he seemed disappointed to have to recount that he wouldn’t be able to enter the ancient citadel. The group stared at the foreboding stone tower as they followed after him.

    “Cedric, do you know much about the wars between Zekrom and Reshiram?” Bianca asked leadingly. Cedric continued walking and didn’t turn to look at her.

    “No, not really much. I know they almost completely destroyed the region both times, but not much beyond that. They’re fantastically powerful Pokémon; if anyone were to reawaken one of them without the other, that person would have practically unlimited power.” he explained, not sensing her subtle fear. Bianca swallowed nervously at his description of their strength; she grasped David’s arm a little tighter, but David laid his hand over hers to reassure her.

    “Remember what I told you, Bianca; it’ll be fine.” he whispered soothingly. Bianca smiled but was internally still unconvinced. Cedric and Cheren were oblivious to all of this.

    The travelers had made it to the outskirts of the city now. The town was divided into two parts: a more metropolitan area which sat on a raised portion away from the water, and a suburban area which was more in the low wetlands. One main street linked the two in the middle of town, and it was there that they would bid their farewell to Cedric. Reaching the spot, Cedric began to speak.

    “So I guess you guys are going to be battling Brycen pretty soon, huh? That’ll be fun! Maybe I’ll come and watch!” he said excitedly. David smiled to be polite, but Bianca and Cheren shuffled uncomfortably at the idea.

    “Yeah, that’ll be, uh… great.” David lied. “It probably won’t be today though; I need to find somewhere I can fix my Gardevoir’s Pokéball. Do you know somewhere in town like that?” he asked. Cedric brought a hand to his chin and thought for a moment.

    “You mind if I have a look?” he asked. David nodded and pulled the crushed pieces of her ball out of his bag. He handed it to Cedric, but Cedric simply laughed and handed it back.

    “Well you know, I might be a Pokémon Professor, David, but I don’t need my degree to know that shit is broken.” he said with a charismatic laugh. David chuckled awkwardly to be polite, but was a little annoyed by the blunt, unsympathetic answer he had gotten. He tried asking his original question again.

    “So do you know somewhere I can get it fixed?” he asked. Cedric continued to laugh.

    “David, you aren’t going to be able to get that fixed; it’s completely destroyed. You’re going to have to recapture her in a new one.” he explained. He pulled an empty Pokéball out of his shoulder-bag and handed it to him. “Here, have a freebie.” he continued. David smiled at his generosity.

    “Wow, cool, thanks!” he said as he took the ball. He looked Paula in the eye and smiled. “Ready, Paula?” he asked. Paula smiled back calmly and nodded; though she kept it hidden from her trainer, she had mischief planned.

    “Oh, but of course, master.” she said sweetly; she curtsied her dress submissively and smiled. David was skeptical of her overly dramatic action, but pressed the clasping mechanism of the ball gently against her forehead without questioning it.

    Paula flashed into a wash of red light and energy as the ball zapped her inside. David held it in his outstretched palm, but it didn’t move. Normally a wild Pokémon would have the opportunity to try and break free at this point while the clasping mechanism was closing, but David didn’t figure Paula would try to escape. Just before the latch shut, the ball burst open suddenly and without warning, releasing Paula from inside.

    “Oh my! What happened, master?!” she asked in feign surprise as she rematerialized. “One moment the ball was clasping and the next I am standing back out here!” she continued. David cocked his eyebrow, but didn’t question her story.

    “I guess you accidentally broke out.” he mused in confusion. “Cedric, you got another one I can borrow?” he asked. Cedric handed him another empty Pokéball, but he was skeptical as well. David again gently pressed it against Paula’s forehead just like the last one, but the same thing happened again.

    “Oh dear, master; I seem to keep accidentally breaking all of these Pokéballs!” Paula said, trying desperately to restrain a laugh. David shot her another skeptical look, but still didn’t question her yet. He turned back to Cedric, but Cedric preempted his question.

    “Sorry. That was the last one I had.” he said, shrugging his shoulders. David turned to Cheren and Bianca for help, but they didn’t have many either. Between the three of them, they managed to produce a total of four additional empty Pokéballs, but Paula burned through all but one. Having exhausted a total of five, Paula broke free of the second to last one and again apologized with mock surprise.

    “Goodness, another one?!” she said as the fifth ball broke. “I just do not understand the problem, master! I am being perfectly still and not trying to break free; what ever could it be?!” she asked, barely able to restrain her snickering laughter. David was unconvinced; he knew she was lying, but didn’t want to let on that he knew just yet. He raised his final empty Pokéball and shrugged his shoulders.

    “Oh well, Paula; this is the last one, so I guess this has to be it.” he said with indifference. “If this one doesn’t work, we’ll have to go to the Pokémon Center and buy more.” he continued. Paula nodded and spread her arms to indicate she was ready. David gently pushed the ball against her head again, but as the hinge shut, he wrapped both hands around it and forced it shut.

    “Stay in there, God damnit!” he grumbled. He could feel the ball shaking beneath his grasp, but he held it tight. Realizing what he was doing, Cheren and Bianca helped him push, but Paula was strong and fighting valiantly to keep up her game. The ball shook a few times and almost overcame them, but they managed to hold it long enough for the clasp to catch; David had recaptured Paula.

    “Master, why do you hate fun?” Paula asked sadly and jokingly with telepathy from within her new confines. David caught his breath and examined the shiny new ball as it gleamed in the late morning sun. He wiped his brow and shook his head.

    “And stay there…” he muttered. David heard Paula faintly giggle within his head like a ghost, but she remained silent within the ball after that. Cedric laughed at her spirit and sense of humor; he wished them luck against Brycen and went on his way.

    “See you for your Gym Battles! I’ll be at the tower!” he called over his shoulder as he walked away. The group of trainers waved him goodbye before setting out for the Pokémon Center to rest and prepare for their upcoming matches.

    * * *

    A few hours later, with their small teams healed from the arduous trek across Twist Mountain and Paula safely within her new Pokéball, the group headed back out into the city to find and challenge Brycen for the Freeze Badge. The small town was quiet and tranquil as the afternoon stretched on; it was reminiscent of Pacifidlog Town in Hoenn or Azalea Town in Johto: small, secluded and wet. Stunfisk and Shelmet were as common among the damp streets as people were, and nature seemed to intertwine with the rustic, wooden buildings of the town at every turn. Heading north with Dragonspiral Tower looming over them, the group eventually reached a small building before a low cliff; inconspicuous as it was, it was in fact marked as the Icirrus City Gym. David approached the door of the suburban style house and knocked.

    “Is this really the Gym?” Cheren asked skeptically; the small house was no bigger than any of their own homes back in Nuvema Town. “This looks like somebody’s home…” he continued, trailing off as he inspected the banisters.

    “You saw the sign, Cheren. That’s all I can-” David started to reply, but before he could finish his sentence, the door opened. Standing in the arch was a middle-aged woman with short brown hair and extremely pale skin; she wore a vacant stare.

    “Yes?” she asked expectantly. “Can I help you?”

    “Uh… yeah, hi.” David stammered. “We’re Pokémon trainers. We’re uh… we’re looking for the Icirrus City Gym; the sign out front said this was it, but-” he started to reply, but the woman cut him off.

    “Oh, no no, don’t worry, this is it.” she said, realizing what they wanted. “My husband Brycen is the Gym Leader. Come in, I’ll introduce you to him.” she continued. David shot Bianca and Cheren a confused look, but they both shrugged in unison and began to follow the woman into her middle-class home. David followed after a moment later.

    “You’ll have to excuse the mess; our two boys are home from college for the holidays.” she said with a sigh as they passed through the living room. Dirty clothes and assorted papers sat haphazardly around the room, strewn over the couch and the ironing board in a hurry. The furniture was old and dated, but had a certain charm to it; the house looked right out of the 1980s. “They say ‘boys will be boys,’ but I had hoped they would have learned how to pick up after themselves after two years of college…” she continued. David shot his friends a subtle, confused look again, but they gave him the same response as before.

    “Uh… I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a bother, but is this really the Gym?” David asked as he continued to follow his host through her home. “We don’t mean to impose on you, but, um…” he stammered, trailing off. Without breaking her stride, the woman laughed under her breath and replied.

    “Oh dear, this explanation is always fun…” she muttered lightheartedly as her laughter subsided. “You kids saw that cliff along the back of the house when you came in, right?” she asked; the group nodded. “My husband built his Gym in a cave under that cliff; the entrance is in the back of the house. He decided to forego a flashy façade so he could be closer to home as our boys were growing up; the interior of the Gym is every bit as fancy and spacious as any other though, don’t you worry about that!” she continued. David raised an eyebrow in surprise but didn’t know how to question it.

    The travelers had reached the back of the house by now. They entered a modest kitchen, typical and standard in every way with one exception. Along the back wall, a metallic, futuristic-looking door stood out like a sore thumb against the ‘50s-style décor. An intercom system hung from the wall next to the door with just a single button for transmission below it. The woman motioned for them to wait for a moment and approached the intercom. She pressed the button and began to speak into it.

    “Honey, there are some challengers here who would like an audience with you.” she said sweetly. She released the button and the line remained silent for a moment, but a response came after just long enough of a wait as to indicate that the recipient on the other end of the transmission was annoyed at being disturbed.

    “I’ve told you that I don’t accept challengers at this time of day, Mary. Send them away.” replied a cold, harsh sounding voice; the line instantly cut off. The woman sighed and pressed the button again.

    “Brycen, we’ve been over this…” she said through a tired, strained sounding voice. “You can’t just turn challengers away like this; the League has rules and sanctions you have to abide by if you want to be a Gym Leader. Please just open the door and-” she tried to continue, but a terrible, screeching static sound cut her short. Brycen had tried to transmit at the same time as her, and the conflicting signals caused a loud wash of static to ring though the speakers. The woman clasped her hands to her ears and instantly wore a pained expression on her face; David, Bianca and Cheren winced as well.

    I am trying to do my meditation, Mary.” he said slowly and through what sounded like gritted teeth. “Willpower only goes so far; your constant interruptions are more of a distraction than challengers would be. I will see them, but please leave me alone.” he continued sternly. Mary sighed and rolled her eyes, but the doors silently slid open a second later. She motioned for the group to enter without a word.

    “Real family man…” Cheren whispered to his friends. “Builds his Gym behind his house so he can be close to his family, but then he talks to his wife like that? I wonder what this guy’s story is.” he continued. Bianca shrugged, pursing her lips, and David looked at Mary in concern; catching his gaze, she simply shook her head tiredly and motioned for them to enter.

    “I’m sorry, he just gets moody this time of year.” she explained. “He’s really a sweetheart though; just a little jaded at times.” she continued. David was unconvinced, but she again motioned for them to enter the gaping doorway. As they started to descend, she began walking out of sight behind them.

    The initial pathway into the cave was narrow and illuminated only by light from the kitchen; after just a handful of paces however, the doors slid shut again, plunging the path into complete darkness. They could see literally nothing but the inky black of the cave; Bianca shifted uncomfortably.

    “David, will you take my hand so I don’t trip?” she asked with the slightest stain of worry creeping into her voice. David nodded, but then realized she probably couldn’t see the gesture anyway. He calmly grasped her hand and gave it a little squeeze; he heard her sigh very subtly behind him.

    “That’s not a bad idea actually, Bianca. Cheren, why don’t you take her hand too; we’ll just make a chain so we don’t trip.” David said. Cheren took her other hand, bringing up the rear with Bianca in the middle and David in front. They continued walking like that for what felt like a fairly sizable length of time; Cheren eventually spoke up.

    “Hey, how long do you suppose this tunnel is?” he grumbled. “Can you even see light up ahead?” he asked. David murmured that he couldn’t and was just about to say more, but something cut him off.

    “No, I can’t, but do you guys feel that?” he asked. “It feels like it’s getting colder all of a sud-” he tried to say, but as he sounded out the final word, he inexplicably lost his balance and began to feel himself fall. The ground beneath their feet had been slowly growing slick with ice the farther into the cave they went. They hadn’t noticed it because they couldn’t see, but a single misstep had caused him to slip on the frozen ground; since they were chained together, Cheren and Bianca slipped and fell also.

    The three trainers struggled to stand after taking their tumble, but were unable to gain a foothold to retake their stride. In fact, not just that, but they slowly began to feel the ground shifting beneath them as they fought. It was slight at first, but they soon realized they were gaining speed; the spot where they had fallen was the beginning of a parabolic dip in the path. They began gaining momentum as they started sliding down the sharp decline.

    “David?” Bianca asked in a mousey voice. “David, are we slipping? David? David?!” she stammered as they started gaining speed. Unable to stop themselves, the group screamed in unison as they zipped along the ice into the main room of the cave.

    The path reached a low point and began arching back up, sending them in a slingshot back up at tremendous speed. Reaching their previous height, the path abruptly ended and sent them flying off of an icy ramp. The ramp sent them sailing into a large, sprawling, cavernous room full of icicles, crystals and gleaming lights; as their eyes readjusted to the light, they struggled to take in all of the beautiful sights before them as they continued to soar. The weightless feeling of flight was quickly shot down as they made contact with the ground again in the new room however; clearing a small gap, they slammed back down onto the hard ice and continued sliding forward with virtually unchanged speed. The icy ground preserved their momentum due to the low coefficient of friction, so they continued to sail about the room at their rocketing speed. Brycen had set up redirection pads and even more ramps at various junctions of the room, causing them to take a high-speed tour of the cavern before finally reaching the head of the arena. Finally slowing after circling the battlefield several times, they came to an abrupt halt, thrown from the ice to a hard stone floor; Brycen sat calmly before them with his eyes closed, not acknowledging their presence or their screaming.

    “Okay… I think I speak for us all when I say: ow…” Bianca whined after their harsh landing. The boys grumbled and moaned in acknowledgement and agreement as they fought off the pain and tried to rise as well. Brycen scoffed at her comment, but did not stir.

    “Weak and undisciplined…” he murmured under his breath. Cheren turned to glare at him, barely catching the words, but held his tongue at the man’s startling appearance.

    “Are… are you the Gym Leader?” he asked in mild surprise. Brycen nodded and slowly rose from his meditation.

    “I am.” he said stoically.

    Brycen was tall and lanky with skin as pale as his wife’s. He wore very long, very straight hair, dyed in a shade of blue almost that of ice. He had a stern, tired expression on his face that seemed almost as if it were that of a statue and therefore unable to change. His clothing was somewhat ornate, a woolly cloak draped over the left side of his body and the right side of his body bare against the cold; the cloak was a darker shade of blue with a pattern made to look like ice crystals, almost reminiscent of the eyes of a Golett. Most defining of all however was the mask he wore across his eyes; it was the same shade of blue that his cloak was and it was obviously just made of a generic cloth, but there seemed to be icicles that hung from it as if they were a part of the mask itself, gluing the fabric to his face. He rose upon answering Cheren’s question and struck a peculiar pose; he pressed his outstretched hands together and brought his right foot to his left knee, standing only on one leg. He closed his eyes again, seemingly not very intent on answering any more questions. David spoke however after a moment of fascinated examination of the peculiar man.

    “We’ve come to challenge your Gym. You said something about not taking challengers right now though?” he asked. Brycen grunted in acknowledgement and spoke softly.

    “I only battle and accept challengers at dawn. Come back in the morning and I will fight you then.” he replied. David was about to say something in response, but Cheren whispered something in his ear before he could collect his thoughts.

    “Hey, I think I recognize this guy from somewhere…” he murmured. “I don’t know where, but it seems like I know his face…” he continued to whisper. David queried his mind upon Cheren’s statement, but he did not recognize him like Cheren appeared to. Having been distracted, Bianca decided to address the elephant in the room in David’s stead.

    “Why do you only do battles at dawn, sir?” she asked. Brycen maintained his pose and did not open his eyes to acknowledge her.

    “I strive and train to master meditation, focus, and discipline.” he answered coldly. “Dawn is when the mind is sharpest, and the cold the most bracing. The League states I cannot turn away challengers without reason, but they say nothing about when I have to perform my duties…” he continued, the slightest tone of resentment tainting his last sentence. David and Bianca cocked their eyebrows and shot each other a look, but had no option but to accept his terms; Cheren on the other hand appeared deep in thought.

    “I know I know you from somewhere…” he muttered inaudibly under his breath. Brycen shot him a quick glance, lowering his stance and standing normally again, but did not acknowledge the comment.

    “Will there be time for all three of us to battle you tomorrow morning before ‘dawn’ ends?” Bianca continued to ask. Brycen turned his attention back to her before responding.

    “I will accept all three of your challenges, yes. Come back tomorrow when the dawn breaks and we shall have our fight.” he replied. Suddenly, Cheren snapped his fingers and yelped.

    “Aha!” he exclaimed. “That’s where I know you from! You’re the Brycen, the famous ex-movie actor!” he shouted “You were in that old film about the war, ‘When Dawn Breaks;’ you used to be really famous.” he continued, very proud of himself for having figured it out. Brycen’s stern but vacant stare quickly melted away into a visible scowl; he brought a hand to the bridge of his nose and massaged it.

    “That film must be twice as old as you are, yet I still get recognized. I do not know which curse is greater, fame or… well…” he muttered, trailing off. “…never you mind that.” he continued. “Yes, I used to have a career as a movie star, but those days are behind me now.” he said with a tone of resentment; Cheren continued to ask about it though.

    “My mom owns all your movies. She used to watch them with my dad all the time when I was younger. What ever happened that made you quit? How did you become a Gym Leader of all things?” he badgered. Brycen sighed audibly, to which David tried to intervene.

    “Cheren, maybe you shouldn’t ask such prying questions.” he said tersely. “I don’t think he wants to talk about it.” he continued, hoping Cheren would pick up on his subtlety. He didn’t, but before Cheren could respond, Brycen spoke up.

    “No, no, your friend is perfectly within his rights.” he explained. “Normally you would be right, but… hmm…” he continued, trailing off. He brought a hand to his chin and began examining Cheren very carefully; Cheren felt a tad ill-at-ease.

    “Umm…” he mumbled, standing rigidly as Brycen circled around him and stared him down from all angles. “Is there something wro-” he started to ask, but before he could finish, Brycen reached down and opened one of the Pokéballs which hung from Cheren’s hip; he had reached for Gus’ as if he knew which one to pick by instinct.

    “Hey!” Cheren shouted defensively. “What are you doing?!” he asked angrily. Gus materialized from within the ball and floated unassumingly at his trainer’s side, eyeing the icy cavern curiously. Brycen’s expression went blank upon seeing him; he sighed and walked back around to where he had been standing before.

    “Just as I had suspected…” he muttered under his breath. Cheren was growing more irate for being ignored.

    “What does that mean? Suspected what?” he asked in an annoyed voice. His Cofagrigus continued to float at his side, unsure why he had been released from his ball. Brycen reassumed his curious pose on one leg before answering Cheren’s question.

    “This Pokémon has been in contact with the Dark One recently, has he not?” he asked suddenly. “As have you by extension I take it…” he appended on. Cheren raised an eyebrow and took a small step towards his Pokémon subconsciously.

    “‘The Dark One?’” he asked.

    Giratina…” Brycen replied unwaveringly.

    “I… he…” Cheren stammered. “How did you know that?” he finally managed to ask timidly. With his suspicions confirmed, Brycen sighed audibly again and lowered his stance. He began moving towards a small table off to the side of the room, motioning for them to follow.

    “I fear I may be making a mistake, but I shall do something for you three I have never found need to do for any other challengers.” he muttered as he walked towards the table. “I have a secret that few people outside of my own circle of influence know about, and fewer still actually believe. I sense that perhaps you may be able to appreciate it however.” he continued to explain.

    “Come. Sit. Listen to my story; I shall prepare us some tea.” Brycen continued stoically. “It all started 20 long years ago…”

    * * *

    It was winter. A snowy highway ran through the forests of the Twist Mountain range, unused since the summer months. The fresh, pure snow was untouched and uncompacted by the tires of cars and trucks; the trail of white stretched on ad infinitum through the trees to the north near Icirrus City. Nothing moved, and nothing made a sound; the peaceful quiet was broken only by the occasional rustle of wild Pokémon.

    This quiet was not to last forever though; a ways up the path, a thick column of black smoke was rising over the tips of the treetops. A convoy of trucks were making their way over the pass by means of the frozen highway, and would soon come to disturb the tranquility of the spot. There were five in total, two in the front and back for security and storage, and one of a much higher quality in the middle; inside that middle trailer, a saddened and broken man sighed.

    “Then on the 29th we’ve got a photo op and autograph signing at Shopping Mall Nine outside of Opelucid, and on the 31st you’re gonna be on Castelia Squares. And then don’t forget you’ve got that audition on the 7th for that new flick about the snotty librarian and her Herdier, so be getting ready for that.” an obese, middle-aged man was saying. He wore a suit many sizes too small for him and dangled a half-burned cigar lazily from his teeth; he had beady eyes and short, greasy hair. The man opposite him sighed once again.

    “God damnit, Brian, another shitty romantic comedy? I thought I told you to stop signing me up for those. What’s this one even about?” Brycen asked. The obese man stopped short and chuckled.

    “Oh come on, Bry, who cares?!” he said with a rasping, coughing laugh. “Your movies ain’t any big, grand pieces of art or somethin’, you’re a heartthrob! Homely, boring, middle-aged women pay big money to watch a hunk like you strut and fret your hour and a half upon the stage opposite some Barbie doll, making a couple of witty one-liners here and there for their loser boyfriends to chuckle at; we ain’t makin’ Shakespeare here, we’re making movies that sell.” Brian explained. “Now snap out of it, we’ve got a lot more of your schedule to go over.” he continued; Brycen cut him short though before he could say more.

    “My name is not ‘Bry,’ Brian, it is ‘Brycen.’ I’ve told you I don’t like being called that.” he said sternly. “And that’s just it; why can’t I ever make a good movie for once? Why can’t I do Shakespeare, or at least something that wasn’t written by a four-year-old? I’m getting tired of all this crap, Brian; you’re my manager, I expect you to be getting me jobs that aren’t just drudgery.” he said angrily. Brian was quick to rebuke his claim however.

    “Oh! Oh! Okay, Mister Big-Shot! You want work that ain’t ‘drudgery,’ do ya?!” he asked irately. “I guess 10 million a pop is ‘drudgery’ to you, huh? Legions of adoring fans? But no, let’s put all that aside; let’s make some Goddamn art!” he continued. “Whad’dya say, eh, Bry-CEN? Let’s make some ART!” he shouted. Brycen had heard enough; he slammed his palms down on the table and rose from his seat.

    I don’t want ‘art,’ Brian, I want for you to UNDERSTAND, you ****!” he shouted commandingly. Brian knew this had gone too far.

    Sensing his hostility, Brian calmly sighed, put down the papers he held on the table before them, and rose gingerly. He motioned for Brycen to calm down and wait a moment as he walked into an adjacent compartment of the trailer. Brycen shook his head and sighed as his manager walked out of the room.

    “He’s in one of his moods again.” Brian whispered in a calm, albeit annoyed voice to a woman seated upon a couch in the next room. She nodded and rose, stretching as she stood, and walked slowly into the room he had come out from. Brian retreated into the deeper recesses of the trailer as the woman went about her work.

    “Hey’ya cutie…” she whispered seductively as she entered the room Brycen was in. “What’sa matter, hmm?” she continued. Brycen sighed upon seeing her and turned his head away in disgust.

    “Hi Candy…” he said in a tired voice, rolling his eyes at her entrance. “Brian sent you in here?” he asked. The woman nodded.

    “Said you weren’t feeling well; thought maybe I could, uh… cheer you up.” she replied with a wink. She sat down next to him at the table he and Brian had been conversing at and rested her head on his broad shoulders; Brycen just sighed yet again.

    “I’m not in the mood…” he said dismissively. The woman was undeterred however.

    “Oh-ho, sure you aren’t.” she said mockingly. “That must explain why I go everywhere you go.” she whispered, drawing very close to his ear. She reached up and flicked it with one of her long fingernails, but Brycen moved away suddenly and uncomfortably at her touch.

    “Damnit, Candy, stop it. I told you I’m not in the mood.” he said angrily, shifting away on the bench seat. A frown spread across Candy’s painted face, and she began to speak in almost a whine of a tone.

    “Aww, poor baby. Why don’t you come tell mama what’s wrong?” she cooed, stretching out over the bench as so to accentuate her augmented breasts. Brycen didn’t trust her; he rolled his eyes and shook his head again, rising from his seat and pacing about the room.

    “You won’t get it, Candy, and Brian sure as hell isn’t going to get it…” he muttered tiredly as he rose. “Brian probably doesn’t even fucking care…” he appended under his breath. “I just feel depressed and unmotivated; I feel overwhelmed by this shitstorm of meaningless and trivial events Brian has me signed up for. I hate my movies; I hate the product of my life’s work. I don’t want to keep doing these piece of shit films that everybody pays for and no one really wants to see. I’ve become ridiculously wealthy making absolute drivel and by exploiting lonely, boring people; I want out of it, Candy, I want something more.” he explained. The woman looked at him through soft, piercing eyes; she flashed her ruby colored smile and rose, arching her back as she stood.

    “Poor, poor Brycen… poor, sweet, naďve Brycen…” she purred as she walked up to him. She pressed her body up against his and rested her head on his chest compassionately. “You do realize you’re complaining about your job as a rich and famous movie star to a high-end prostitute, don’t you? Somehow I find it amusing you expected sympathy.” she continued with a laugh. Brycen sighed.

    “I knew you wouldn’t understand…” he muttered in a disheartened voice. He gingerly held her back, but it was without affection.

    “So tell me then, hotshot. What do you want to be if not an actor, hmm?” she asked seductively. “What has little Brycen always wanted to be?” she continued. She began petting his muscular arms as he thought.

    “Actually, you know what I’ve always wanted?” he replied commandingly. “I’ve got enough money, I don’t have to work anymore, I think I might enjoy being a Gym Leader. What do you say?” he asked, the faint signs of a grin spreading across his face. Candy remained silent and continued stroking his arms, her head buried in his chest.

    “A Gym Leader?” she asked skeptically. “What do you know about Pokémon battles?” she continued. “What type would you even specialize in?” Brycen broke free of her grasp and approached the window confidently.

    “Hell, I don’t know; maybe Fighting, or Ice, but who cares?” he explained, looking out at the falling snow. “It just feels like that would be something meaningful; something fun.” he continued with an unmistakable grin now spreading across his face. “I think I want to go for it, Candy; I want to get out of this Godforsaken rat-race.” he said adamantly. Candy giggled again and wrapped her arms around him from behind.

    “Brycen the Gym Leader… has a nice ring to it…” she mused. Brycen stared out at the snow in silence for several more minutes. After a pause, he turned back around and faced her; she was still wrapped around his waist, looking up at him through her comforting eyes.

    “Do you really think I should do it?” he asked.

    “I think that the man who stormed the beaches, fought off the alien invasion, and captured the hearts of millions of women can do anything he puts his mind to.” she whispered seductively. Brycen smiled and bent down, putting his face very close to hers as if to kiss her, but stopped short and whispered something in her ear.

    “How much did he pay you this time to say that?” he asked.

    “Standard.” she whispered back. Brycen felt his heart drop as reality soaked back into his mind.

    “I knew I couldn’t trust you.” he murmured.

    “Welcome to the real world, honey; we all have to make our own way.” she replied. That was the last thing Brycen heard before the crash.

    * * *

    [Continued Below]

  11. #211
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 20: The Ice Mask (Brycen's Tale)
    Part 2 of 2

    Brycen gently awoke to the sound of a female voice paging for a doctor over an intercom system. There was a sickening medical smell to the air around him, and the lights all seemed particularly bright. Though he was awake, it took several minutes before he became anything resembling cognizant. There was a wash of sensory information bombarding and overloading him, and it was difficult to tune some of it out, but the one sensation he did recognize clearly and strongly was warmth; wherever he was, it was warm.

    “Mr. Brycen?” a woman’s voice said. Though he heard the words and recognized his own name, he didn’t know how to respond.

    “Mr. Brycen, your vitals show that you are awake. I’m going to assume you can hear me, but please don’t try to respond or move if you can. You’ve been in an accident, sir; you’ve been in a coma for over three months.” she continued. Brycen suddenly felt that warm feeling go numb.

    …h-how?” he managed to squeak out. He was beginning to become more and more aware of his surroundings; he tried to move, but he felt something holding him back. “…w-what?” he stammered to say, but the nurse restrained him.

    “No, no, don’t move, Mr. Brycen, you are in a full-body cast. Don’t fight it please; just listen.” the nurse said quickly as she put her hand on his arm. “You are in the Icirrus City General Hospital ICU; you have been here for just over three months, and you have been in a coma. It was winter when your accident happened and the roads were iced over; your convoy crashed and you suffered, among other things, a concussion. I’m, uh… I’m afraid you were the only one we could save in time however…” she explained. Brycen’s racing mind struggled to process the information.

    “…Brian? …Candy?” he stammered; his voice felt weak and it hurt to talk.

    “I’m sorry, sir; if they were on the convoy with you, then they’re both dead.” the nurse explained awkwardly. Brycen felt his heart drop like a stone.

    “Y-you have to understand, sir, the accident wasn’t even discovered until nearly twelve hours later.” she stammered quickly, trying to ease his pain. “A crew was sent to look for you after you missed an appointment I’m told; it was a miracle we were able to save even you. You were severely injured and nearly frozen to death, not to even mention the sheer blood loss you had experienced. You’re lucky to even be alive.” she explained; it didn’t exactly make him feel any better though.

    Brycen lay in his cast, vacantly staring at the ceiling tiles and fluorescent lights above him. The horrible medical smell still stained his nostrils, and a maddening numbness stretched to every corner of his body. He felt weak, powerless, and his mind had only two thoughts to play with to try and distract him from the pain: three months of his life had vanished before his eyes, and everyone he had known and worked with on that convoy was dead. Brycen could hardly stand the gnawing pain of consciousness.

    “…I …I.” he struggled to say. He tried to continue, but he couldn’t find the strength to speak. His throat was completely dry, and his tongue seemed to have forgotten how to form sounds. Realizing his predicament, the nurse quickly stepped in.

    “No no, please, sir, try not to speak too much yet.” she said studiously. “I, uh… well…” she stammered. “I’m afraid there’s, um… there’s more… sir…” she said awkwardly. Brycen felt himself grow cold yet again.

    “…more?” he croaked timidly. The nurse nodded her head tentatively.

    “Uhh, well… you see…” she started. “As I said, your injuries were both numerous and severe. You truly are lucky to be alive. But, um… oh gosh, how do I explain this…” she stammered.

    “Just… tell me…” Brycen stammered impatiently. The frazzled nurse caught her breath to calm herself and began trying to speak again.

    “Mr. Brycen, you suffered many broken bones, internal bleeding, bruises and lacerations, all the typical things we would expect to see from a car crash victim, but you also suffered burns on much of your body.” she said quickly and studiously. “We have no idea where the burns came from as there were no fires at the scene of the crash. Regardless though, while the lower 90% or so of your body has mostly healed, your face has suffered severe disfiguration; I am told it is the general industry consensus that you will never be hired to act again. I’m… I’m sorry…” she continued, worried at how he might respond. The news hit Brycen like a sack of bricks; he lay back in his cast against the bed and thought in morbid reflection.

    After several minutes of awkward silence, the nurse spoke up again. “Is… um… is there anything I can get you, sir?” she asked timidly. Brycen closed his eyes and sighed.

    “…out.” he muttered in a dry voice. The pain, both physical and emotional, was horribly biting.

    “I… um… I’m sorry?” she asked timidly. Though she couldn’t see it behind the cast, Brycen’s gaze had turned stern and he glared at her.

    “Get out.” he rasped angrily. The nurse looked about the room nervously and tried to approach him.

    “Uh, sir… I need to stay and tend to you as you continue to come out of the-” she tried to explain in a very professional sounding voice, but Brycen wouldn’t hear it. Feeling a sudden surge of strength well up from inside him, he managed to push through the pain momentarily and scream.

    GET OUT!!!” he shouted. “GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!!!” The sudden rush of energy seemed to desert him just as he needed it; exerting himself for his cry of pain left him instantly feeling lightheaded and weak. He went into a coughing spasm upon rasping his cry and nearly couldn’t catch his breath. With assistance from the nurse, he pulled himself out of it, but his message was now crystal clear; when he had composed himself, the nurse bowed timidly and left him alone to his miserable thoughts.

    Three months of his life had vanished before his eyes; it would surely be many more before he could return to society and function in any kind of “normal” capacity again. His soul-crushing career as an actor had gone up in flames as he slept, and though he would be free of his mindless commitments, he didn’t know where he would go without his profession to guide him. Perhaps worst of all though, he was the lone survivor of a crash which had taken the lives of everyone he had known and worked with on that convoy. With nothing but these thoughts to fill his mind, and the gaping numbness still filling his body, Brycen could only feel one emotion: jadedness. He wanted to scream, but he had to sleep; in angry desperation, Brycen began to weep to himself as sleep slowly overcame his mind.

    * * *

    It had been five years since Brycen’s accident. After getting out of the hospital, he had mulled around Icirrus City aimlessly for several months before meeting a nice girl named Mary and getting married. With the accumulated wealth from his acting career, they had been able to retire right away and spend all of their time together. They settled down in Icirrus City and bought a small middle-class home for themselves, but it still left him feeling unfulfilled. Wanting more, they eventually had two sons. For the first five years of their lives, Brycen stayed with his wife and helped raise his fledgling new family; changing diapers, cooking meals, pampering his wife and his two young sons… these things actually did manage to make him happy for quite a while. Maybe the change to a slower-paced life really was all that he had been looking for; the paparazzi eventually stopped hounding him and the career the world over had known him for slowly fell to the march of time. As he would soon find out though, nothing good lasts forever.

    After five years of this life, the same thoughts which filled his head just before the crash resurfaced and began plaguing his mind yet again. He felt unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and like there ought to be more. One fateful night, he finally decided to act upon these thoughts and see to what conclusion they would lead him.

    “Good night, boys. Sleep tight.” Mary whispered as she tucked the children in. As he always did, Brycen stood behind her and bade them good night as well. The young children sleepily murmured a response as their parents left their room and shut the door for the night. Standing in the hall outside their room, Mary smiled lovingly at her husband as another day ended; she began to speak.

    “Hey you…” she murmured affectionately, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Can you believe it’s been five whole years we’ve been living this life? Five entire years with no thoughts of money or responsibilities to the outside world; I get to spend my life with the man I love just raising a family. My life from before seems hardly more than a memory to me now…” she mused; without giving him a moment to resist or consider, Mary leaned up and kissed Brycen passionately. Though it was the same sensation he had known for so long by now, somehow her lips felt different that night; a hollow feeling came with her touch.

    “You’re right; it’s been… nice.” he responded, searching for the right word to describe it. Though he tried to not show it, there was a hesitation to his words which was unmistakable; he looked down to avoid her gaze.

    “Brycen? Is something wrong?” she asked; he couldn’t hide his emotions from her. He sighed and broke free of her grasp.

    “Erm… no, honey, everything’s fine. I’m just… tired, I guess is all…” he stammered, beginning to walk down the hall towards the kitchen. Mary knew now something was wrong; she could sense it in his voice. She tried to follow after him, but he had much longer strides than her.

    “Brycen, wait! Honey, there is something wrong, isn’t there? Tell me what’s on your mind.” she said worriedly. Brycen continued to resist however.

    “No, no, trust me, it’s okay.” he lied. “I just… I just need a drink is all…” he continued. He reached the kitchen and began fixing himself something to ease his mind. The thoughts would not subside though; his hand shook as he took down the shot-glass from the cupboard.

    Mary was strong and defiant; she wasn’t about to let him ignore her queries like that. She had a certain way of touching his hands that could make him simply melt; it was a tender, reassuring touch that could make him stop anything he was trying to do and pay her attention. He shivered as she grasped the hand which held the glass; he slowly set it down and sighed. Catching her gaze, he began to speak.

    “I’m just… I don’t know, I feel… weird.” he started to explain. “I’m having thoughts I haven’t had since… well…” he stammered. “…since before the accident.” he continued; he brought his hand to his face and felt the warm, dry touch of the cloth mask he wore over his scarring. Mary’s gaze pierced his own stare and seemed to melt his heart.

    “What kind of thoughts, dear?” she asked soothingly. Brycen brought his hand back down and began putting away the empty glass.

    “You know… just before the crash, I actually had an idea.” he said conversationally. “I was actually considering giving up my acting career anyway and becoming a Gym Leader. I don’t even know what type I’d try to specialize in, but I thought it seemed like fun. I guess… I guess I’ve been thinking about that again…” he continued. Mary grinned at his statement.

    “A Gym Leader?” she said through an affectionate laugh. “Why Brycen, what do you know about Pokémon battles?” she asked. Her words stung; they were the same that Candy had said just before her death.

    “Well… I don’t know, not much I guess…” he mumbled. “I’ve just been thinking about the accident lately. I feel…” he tried to continue; the words escaped him for some reason though. He shook his head and trailed off.

    “You feel what?” Mary asked. Brycen remained silent though and gave up on his explanation. “Brycen, please just tell me.” she continued worriedly.

    In truth, Brycen didn’t know what to think. He had been pondering the thought of becoming a Gym Leader again for the first time since the crash had happened, but something inside told him that was just a façade for a deeper issue. There was something about the crash which had always haunted him, but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was. He had always been able to just put it out of his mind, but for some reason, he couldn’t this time. He shambled towards the front of the house and went out on the porch; Twist Mountain loomed over the city ominously as the winter moon began cresting behind it. There was something foreboding about the mountain that night, the site where his accident had occurred five years earlier; it felt as though something was drawing him there. Brycen couldn’t shake that horrible feeling.

    “Brycen? Brycen?” Mary shouted as she ran out behind him. “Brycen, you’re scaring me; what is the matter with you? Please talk to me!” she continued. His gaze at the snowy foothills was unwavering; he heard his wife’s timid cries, but he somehow didn’t recognize the content of her words. He sighed and looked down at her longingly.

    “…Oh my God, it’s winter, isn’t it?” Mary finally mused as his eyes met her own. “This was the time of year when your accident happened, isn’t it? That’s what’s been bothering you.” she continued. Brycen looked away for a split second, but closed his eyes and nodded in the affirmative. Mary’s lips quivered and she quickly embraced her husband.

    “Brycen, it’s okay. You’re safe with your family now; you never have to go back there or think about what happened that day ever again.” she explained; he wanted to believe her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

    “I have to, Mary…” he murmured with a sadness in his voice. “You don’t understand the pain…” He broke her grasp and went back into the house.

    “Brycen? Where are you going? What are you doing, love?” she asked fearfully. Brycen had begun walking quickly towards their bedroom; he opened their closet door and began gathering warm clothes. Mary ran in behind him and saw what he was doing.

    “Are you-” she started to ask, but Brycen abruptly closed the closet door again and began putting on a heavy coat. Mary gasped as she realized her fear was correct.

    “You’re going up to the mountain, aren’t you?!” she stammered. “You’re going to go find the site of your crash?!” she continued, her pitch rising. Brycen didn’t respond and simply began walking back towards the door.

    “Brycen?! Brycen, answer me!” she screamed. There was fear and hesitation in her voice; after five solid years of his unwavering presence and support, he was now taking a reckless action which was completely beyond her new paradigm of reality. He drew near to the door and went for the handle, but she lunged out and took a hold of his hand. Her touch was as commanding and soothing as always, but for the first time in five years, he managed to resist.

    “…Brycen… please…” she whispered, tears welling up in her eyes. He wore a stern look and felt his heart ache. She reached up towards his face and brushed her fingertips against his mask, but it did nothing to dissuade him. He bent down and kissed her, but broke her grasp and turned the handle.

    “Brycen, you are my husband and I am your wife; we have two small children together who need their father. Tell me what you think you’re going to find up there at least, you owe me that.” she said frantically. Brycen opened the door and stopped in the archway; he turned his head over his shoulder to look at her but did not halt his action. He answered with a single line and then walked out the door.

    “Closure…” he said authoritatively. He stepped through the threshold and set out for the mountain, not stopping to look back. As he shut the door, he heard Mary begin to cry; his heart was breaking at the pain he had caused her, but at the same time, he felt a strange release. The icy mountain beckoned and he began out of town towards it.

    * * *

    Mary was wrong. She had said Brycen was going in search of his crash site, but in truth, he didn’t even know where he was going himself. A mysterious force felt as though it were drawing him there; something unnatural and foreboding emanated from the mountain. Late into the night he traveled, eventually reaching the chasm at the center after a few hours. The snowfall was beginning to slow as the night crept on, but at that elevation, it was still very cold. He stepped out of one of the northern caves and onto a ledge; the fog hanging over the gaping abyss was light, but it still seemed bottomless in its depth.

    Brycen felt as though he were at the source of the pull. Whatever it was he felt drawing him to the mountains, it wasn’t at his crash site, but instead at the bottom of the pit. A dark, menacing aura flowed from the frozen, hellish abyss; he dared not descend its depths, but he also couldn’t shake its siren call. In his five-year lapse, his body had grown soft and he has lost many of the muscles which had helped define both his body and his career, but the bracing cold was invigorating and the call of the force was too tempting; he looked around for the safest path, and began scaling the rocky cliffs down into the depths of the pit.

    It took him about thirty minutes of slow, arduous climbing before he could even see the bottom. With no one to spot him and no climbing equipment to steady him or save him if he fell, he had to go at a snail’s pace to ensure his safety. The cliff was sheer and the rocks slick with ice; he had a few close calls, but he eventually managed to reach the base. When he hopped down and landed on the ground at the bottom of the mountain, he heard a low whisper ring throughout the area; chalking it up to just an echo, Brycen turned and surveyed the place. It was dark and shrouded in mist; the moon’s rays could not pierce the heavy fog above him. The shadows seemed to twist and move as if they were sentient; whatever it may be, he knew he was not alone. Sighing to calm himself, he braced himself and continued walking.

    The chasm was not a straight drop. It funneled inward as it descended, so the pit at the bottom had a smaller radius than it did at the top. There wasn’t much area for him to uncover, but the twisting fog and shifting shadows seemed to disorient him and get him lost in circles. Creatures hidden behind the fog seemed to be watching him, always just out of sight. Were they simply Pokémon who lived in the secluded area, or could they be something more? After several minutes of fruitless wandering, Brycen devised a plan.

    “Alright, steady yourself, Brycen…” he murmured under his breath. “How do you solve a maze? A wall-finding algorithm.” he asked and answered himself rhetorically. “How are you going to solve this maze?” he asked; he lowered his head and began walking perfectly straight. After a short distance, he came upon the wall of the pit. He hugged as close to it as he could, picked a direction, and began walking around it in a circle.

    “With a wall-finding algorithm…” he murmured reassuringly.

    Circling the pit with the wall to guide him, he eventually came across a cave he had missed before. One final tunnel stretched into the mountain like the ones above, and the fog and shadows did not appear to pierce its depths. Reluctant to want to stay in the pit any longer than he needed to, he decided to follow it and see where it led. The path was dark and narrow, but it seemed somehow illuminated by a gentle glow from whatever was at its end. After a short trek down it, Brycen entered a large, cavernous room.

    The cave was maybe a tad larger than his living room back home; icicles hung from the ceiling and the stone walls had a mysterious metallic blue to them. These were all ancillary details however; the centerpiece of the room and its light source was the obvious source of his draw. A massive boulder at least five times his own height rose from the ground, completely encased in a solid block of ice. It shone as if illuminated from within, and filled the whole room with a strange glow. This was the thing which had been drawing Brycen to it; he somehow felt as though it had been calling him, like he needed to reach out and touch it. He cautiously drew near to the icy stone and examined it; he could see his reflection in its surface. He laid his hand cautiously across it, but he felt nothing but the cold he had expected to feel. His heart sank as the thing which had been calling him turned out to be nothing.

    Glay!” came a cheerful cry from behind him. The noise startled Brycen and made him jump. He turned to see from where the noise had come, and saw a small, blue-colored Pokémon walking up calmly from the tunnel. Though he couldn’t identify it yet, the Pokémon was a Glaceon, and it was about to save his life.

    “H-h-hi there, little guy…” Brycen stammered. It was his first interaction with a wild Pokémon since his childhood, and his first interaction with a Pokémon at all since his acting career. The Glaceon drew near and wrapped itself around his leg like a cat. It purred like one too and looked up at him through its soft, black-and-blue colored eyes. The Glaceon was extraordinarily friendly, seemingly proud to show off its rock. Brycen bent down and pet the small creature, to which it purred even more.

    “What did you say your name was?” he asked it, becoming less and less afraid of his surroundings as the Glaceon warmed up to him.

    Glay! Glaceon!” it squealed in reply. Brycen smiled at his ability to relate with the creature.

    “Glaceon, huh? I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of that one…” he murmured. He sat down before the ice-covered rock and folded his legs. Seeing a warm bed open up, the Glaceon crawled on top of his lap and lay down to rest. It nuzzled its head against his knee and began to purr even more loudly.

    “Glad I can help you, little guy…” he whispered. He began petting the Glaceon’s icy fur; it stung with cold a little bit, but it helped sooth his pain. Brycen sighed and fell deep into thought.

    “Maybe you can help me too, Glaceon…” he murmured. “I’ve been feeling really weird lately, like I was before the crash…” he appended. “I love Mary and I love our sons, and I was happy for what felt like such a long time, but now… I don’t know what I feel… I feel that same unfulfilled sense I did when I was an actor. I want to know how to make the pain go away; I want to know what it is I want…” he continued. He looked down at the peacefully resting Pokémon in his lap, blissfully unaware of anything he had said. He smiled at its peaceful naivety and felt a sense of envy welling up inside him.

    “You seem to be pretty happy down here, don’t you, Glaceon? You haven’t got a care in the world…” he said half-heartedly. “This seems like a pretty great place for an Ice-type like you. I guess I- hey!” he shouted. The hand he had been using to pet the Glaceon suddenly felt a searing, icy pain all across it; he pulled his hand away and saw that it was flush. The Glaceon rose, its fur standing on end with jagged ice crystals rising from its skin, and began growling at the air. Brycen looked around in confusion.

    “What was that for? What’s going on, Glaceon?” he asked. The Glaceon seemed adamant that something was there, but Brycen saw nothing. He quickly heard something though.

    That Pokémon cannot save you, and neither can your family, human. But perhaps I can be of some assistance…” a dark, foreboding voice bellowed. The words were ethereal and seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once; they rang throughout the cave without a source and hurt Brycen’s ears to listen to.

    “W-w-w-who’s there?!” he shouted. “Show yourself!” he continued. The voice laughed a twisted, menacing cry before answering him.

    You DARE to give ME a command, you wretched beast? Your species is always good for a laugh…” the voice bellowed with malicious levity. “Very well, you want a more tangible audience with me? You shall have your wish.” it continued. The light from the icy boulder flickered and the room grew significantly colder for an instant; when the conditions of the room restabilized, a dark, hooded figure entered the room from the tunnel and began slowly approaching the stone. His movements were slow and precise, and an aura of pure darkness and evil seemed to radiate in a trail behind him. Not surprisingly, the Glaceon began to bark.

    “Silence, you vile creature.” the man snapped angrily. His voice was decidedly different from the one that had just been speaking. He held his outstretched hand out towards the Glaceon to silence it, but the Glaceon was still ill-at-ease. The man approached Brycen and lowered his hood; he had sickly, pale-colored skin and diseased looking white hair. He cracked a smile, revealing horrible, mangled teeth, and waited for Brycen to speak.

    “W-w-w-who are you?” he asked, trying to sound commanding but his fear belying his façade. The mysterious man rasped a horrible laugh and stared Brycen straight in the eyes.

    “I am no one but a messenger, human. I come on behalf of my Lord, the Dark One.” he responded. His words unnerved Brycen; he swallowed and felt his pulse quicken.

    “And who is ‘The Dark One?’” Brycen asked, still trying to sound tough. The man closed his lips but continued to grin.

    Giratina…” he responded proudly, saying each syllable with care. The words struck Brycen’s mind in a way which he had not felt in five years. The last time he had been so completely disarmed was when he had first learned of his accident from the nurse in the hospital. He felt his heart grow cold and his brow break out in a cold sweat. The man seemed to sense these feelings and rasped another dry laugh.

    “You recognize His Holy Name, do you not?” the man asked. Brycen nodded his head a single time.

    “I, uh… I did a movie about Giratina back in my days in the film industry…” he stammered. “I remember some of the legends. He was banished in ancient times for violence against humanity, right?” he asked. The man’s grin remained, but there was a sense of contempt in his yellow eyes. He sighed before responding.

    “The might of the Dark One knows no bounds. There was an earth-shattering confrontation between Him and that vile Arceus in eons passed, which He regrettably… erm… lost… but the Dark One has been building His army and shall soon return to this world.” the hooded man explained. “That is why I am here on His behalf, mortal. My Lord wishes to extend to you an invitation.” he continued. Brycen was growing more and more unnerved with each passing moment.

    “W-w-w-what kind of an invitation?” he stammered. The man’s grin grew again.

    “You say you feel unfulfilled; wishing for more. Your film career did not provide you with the satisfaction you desired, nor did life with a family. You have material wealth beyond most peoples’ wildest imaginations, so clearly you long for something beyond material wealth.” he explained. “You long… for a purpose.” he continued.

    “Lord Giratina is assembling an army to retake this world. To helm it, He has been scouring the eons for dark assassins, a ‘Shadow Triad,’ as it were. He has seen some moderate success thus far, but tonight, we may find more.” the man continued to explain. “Join Lord Giratina’s army, become one of His Shadow Triad, and you shall know power and glory beyond your strangest dreams.” the man began his offer. “You know this is the calling you have been waiting for; this is what your ‘accident’ was leading towards.” he concluded. Brycen staggered to take it all in.

    Suddenly everything had become clear; the reason for his accident, the source of his mysterious burns, the strange, foreign thoughts which plagued his mind, it all came into focus in a single moment of clarity and understanding. Brycen reeled as these things all came into focus; he could hardly stand through the pain.

    “The fires at the crash site… the burns that ended my career… they said they didn’t know where they came from… that there were no fires at the site…” he stammered. “…it was you, wasn’t it? You people did this to me?” he asked. The man simply grinned and did not make a sound.

    ANSWER ME!” Brycen screamed, grabbing him by his cloak. The man laughed another horrible, rasping laugh at Brycen’s violence; he hung his arms at his sides and let his body go limp.

    “Good, human; give in to your anger.” he said proudly. “Yes, the fires which disfigured your face and ended your career were of a decidedly unnatural sort. Your accident was not natural in the first place as well. We have been leading you down this path all these years; molding you to lead the Shadow Triad as you were always meant to do.” he explained. “Give in to your destiny, Brycen; Lord Giratina commands it!” he exclaimed. Brycen could resist his anger no more; without thinking, he bundled his fingers together into a fist and let it fly to the man’s face. The diseased, elderly slave fell to the ground in a bloodied heap, unmoving and without response; Brycen had landed a decisive blow.

    Brycen was breathing heavily. He wanted to not believe the things he had heard, but the plague on his mind was growing stronger. He shook off his disorientation and ran for the exit; a dark, shadowy force blocked it off as he drew near though. He turned back towards the stone and saw the small Glaceon approaching the fallen man; he was stirring and starting to rise.

    “If you… if you will not come quietly…” he stammered angrily as he rose. “…then we will take you by force!” The light from the frozen boulder flickered again as he shouted the words; they echoed and reverberated around the room, seeming to grow louder instead of showing decay. The shadows began to dance and flicker about the room, disorienting Brycen and driving him to his knees. Though he didn’t know it, the same thing that had happened to Gus eons before was happening to him now; the transformation was beginning.

    The Glaceon recognized the unnatural events happening around it and tried to help his new human friend. Identifying the mysterious hooded intruder as the source of the twisting shadows, the Glaceon summoned a flurry of ice crystals from water in the air and hurled them towards the man. They stung him painfully and he cried out in agony, but it was just a momentary distraction.

    “Ack! Begone you vile creature!” he shouted. He raised his leg and kicked wildly at the diminutive Pokémon; unable to react in time, his foot made contact and sent the Glaceon sailing through the air, crashing into one of the frozen walls and landing in a slump. Though Brycen could hardly keep his own mind straight, he still managed to see the wild Pokémon trying to defend him and felt his heart ache as it hit the floor.

    “Glaceon, no!” he cried, clutching his head and trying to maintain his humanity. The change was beginning slowly; his skin was already losing its color as the transformation unfolded. Try as he might, he didn’t have the mental fortitude to block it out however; he was quickly being overwhelmed.

    “Give in, mortal scum! Give in to the Dark One!” Giratina’s slave shouted. He raised his hands into the air to intensify the transformation process; Brycen cried out in pain.

    The Glaceon shook off its disorientation at the sound of Brycen’s scream. His home was quickly being consumed by the shadowy ritual, and his new friend was in dire trouble. It tried desperately to launch off another flurry of its ice crystals, but they served only to distract the man; that was all they need to do though.

    You horrible creature, stop that at once!” he shouted. He lowered his arms and shot the Glaceon an enraged glare; the Glaceon defiantly summoned another cloud of ice however and continued to pepper him with it. In his blind fury, the man stopped the ritual momentarily and ran towards it with fire in his eyes.

    “Your soul shall belong to the Dark One as well!” he cried, chasing after it. The Glaceon quickly darted away and began distracting him so Brycen could escape. With momentary repose, he managed to shake off his disorientation and woozily stand.

    “I… but… the… the Dark One, and…” he stammered, clutching his head. Though his vision was cloudy and his mind still ached, he managed to blink through the pain and catch a glimpse of the man chasing after the Glaceon. He steadied himself in determination and made a plan.

    “Hey!” he shouted. Hearing his cry, Giratina’s agent stopped chasing the Glaceon and spun around in anger for having been duped. Before he could react however, he felt a small, sharp object pelt his head. Brycen had reached for the first object he could find, and had sent the palm-sized rock sailing through the air towards his captor. In his weakened state, it sent the diseased man reeling to the ground again, screaming in agony.

    “Glaceon, to me!” Brycen shouted through his disorientation. The Glaceon darted towards the entrance where his new friend still knelt; Brycen’s strength was leaving him again however after exerting the effort to throw the rock. They might still go down, but they would at least go down together, and they would go down swinging.

    ENOUGH!” the man shouted as he rose. “Your games have gone on long enough, human! Prepare to DIE and join our ranks!” he screamed shrilly. A dark, evil energy surrounded his body and he shot forth a blast towards the pair. Brycen didn’t know what to do; he shut his eyes and waited for the inevitable. The Glaceon was more prepared however.

    In its desperation, it summoned an energy buried deep within itself, bolstered by the glow of the icy stone in the center of the room which had helped it to evolve. It let loose a powerful Blizzard attack, filling the whole room with a flurry of snow and ice. Brycen heard a scream, felt the icy sting of the Glaceon’s frozen winds whipping around him, felt the dark wash of the malevolent energy from the man, and then…

    Nothing…

    * * *

    It had been several hours since Brycen began his story. Outside the Gym, a new winter night had fallen on the city and the moon was shining down. David and his friends knew nothing of these facts however, sitting in rapture of the Gym Leader’s wondrous tale. He was nearing its conclusion however and was beginning to grow weary; he began to wind it down.

    “I remember nothing more from that night.” he explained. “I remember feeling Glaceon’s icy Blizzard, feeling the sting of that man’s attack, hearing him scream, and then… nothing. I passed out and remember nothing else beyond that point.” he continued. His small audience was enthralled by his story.

    “How did you get home then, Brycen? How did you get out of the cave in the mountain?” Bianca asked. Brycen shrugged his shoulders and took a sip of his tea.

    “I know not, my young friend. I awoke on the front porch of my home the next morning and have ventured to that place no more since. Glaceon was with me when I awoke and became my first ever Pokémon. I caught him in a proper Pokéball later that day and began training to become a Gym Leader immediately. He is the reason why I use Ice-types.” he explained. “It has been 15 years since that day; I trained hard, studied studiously and became a Gym Leader within just a few short years. Glaceon has seen me through it all, and has always been at the helm of my team.” he continued. Brycen took a Pokéball out from beneath his cloak and looked at it proudly; he released the Pokémon inside, revealing his Glaceon from the story. The regal Fresh Snow Pokémon purred at his trainer’s touch and sat beside him in calm repose. For the first time all day, Brycen cracked a wisp of a smile.

    “So wait, I don’t understand…” Cheren said curiously as Brycen finished his tale. “How did you recognize Gus as one of Giratina’s ex-cons? Glaceon saved you with that Blizzard attack before you could be turned into a Yamask yourself; were there any side effects or something?” he asked. Brycen sighed and touched his hands to his frozen mask; he nodded in the affirmative before beginning to speak.

    “There were, I’m afraid…” he murmured. “Four things about me changed that day that I am aware of, two physical and two mental. The first physical change is insignificant; there was some discoloration of my skin which is part of why I am so pale. The other physical change was a bit more significant though; my mask became a part of my face.” he explained. Cheren gasped in horror.

    “It what?!” he stammered. Brycen simply nodded without opening his eyes.

    “I seem to have garnered the nickname ‘The Ice Mask’ as a Unova region Gym Leader over the years. It is an ‘ice mask’ in the literal sense however, as the dark energy from that man’s attack fused with Glaceon’s Blizzard to freeze the cloth to my face. It is cold, it stings, and the dull pain never abates, but try as I might, I have never been able to remove it from my skin.” he explained. Glaceon mewed mournfully for having contributed to his trainer’s pain all those years ago, but Brycen looked down reassuringly and calmed him. “Fret not, old friend; had you not done what you did, we both would have suffered a fate worse than death.” he mused. The Glaceon laid his head on Brycen’s lap and continued to purr.

    “So what were the mental changes then, Brycen?” David asked. “That still doesn’t explain how you recognized Cheren’s Cofagrigus.” Brycen sighed and looked back up at his small audience.

    “The mental changes were the more severe I’m afraid; the first is what allowed me to sense your friend’s Pokémon. Somehow, I am able to sense those who have been in exposure to Giratina. I have, at times, caught him preying on me, watching from afar. That is where the second change comes into play.” he explained. “Twice in my life I have felt completely helpless; once physically when I was in my cast, and once mentally when Glaceon saved me. When I began my journey to become a Gym Leader, I also began practicing meditation and discipline to strengthen my mind against such attacks; I hope to never feel so powerless again. Mastering the freezing powers of Ice-type Pokémon helped me hone my mind and ability to focus. Discipline, both mental and physical, is what I strive for among all else in my small Gym.” he continued. “My wife says she has seen the change in my personality; I fear I have become a burden to her at times…” he appended, murmuring sadly under his breath. The group was silent at his awkward comment.

    “But, at any rate, such is my story; the choice is yours whether to believe it or not.” Brycen said before they could respond. “I fear the hour grows late however and we have obligations come the morning dawn. I shall show you to the door and then we shall prepare for your impending challenges.” he continued. The group of travelers stood as he rose and thanked him for entertaining their curiosity; Brycen showed them a back exit from his Gym and bade them a good night. The group began heading back to the Pokémon Center to rest and recuperate before their impending battles in the morning; Brycen returned to the main part of his home to do the same.

    Reentering his home, Brycen looked around his living room and remembered the night he had met Glaceon and the things his wife had said to him. Bringing those memories to the forefront of his mind to recite them to David and his friends had made Brycen thoughtful and mournful of some of the decisions his life had forced him to make. He heard Mary approach from the back half of the house behind him, but he did not stir to look at her.

    “Brycen, did you battle those kids who came by today?” she asked as she entered. Brycen shook his head and did not turn.

    “No, dear, I said I would take their challenges in the morning. They were perfectly fine with my request and we spent the afternoon talking.” he responded casually. “We talked for many hours and we… erm… well…” he stammered. He paused uneasily, searching for the right words; he sighed before saying more. “Mary, I want to ask you something.” he continued with a heaviness in his voice. Mary approached him and took his hand reassuringly.

    “What is it, dear?” she asked. Brycen turned and took her other hand as well, staring into her aging eyes with a sadness in his own. There was a sense of longing and regret in them which she picked up on instantly.

    “Mary, have I been good to you and the boys in our time together?” he asked hesitantly. “I know since the day I gained my powers I have been difficult to live with at times.” he continued. Mary gasped very subtly and brought a hand to Brycen’s frozen face.

    “Brycen, of course you have been! Don’t be ridiculous!” she said instantly. “What on earth made you think to ask that? What were you talking about with those kids?” she asked. Brycen sighed and looked away.

    “The dark haired boy had a Pokémon that had been in extensive contact with Giratina. I told them about my accident and about the night I met Glaceon…” he said nervously. Mary was again surprised, but a tad less so than before.

    “Oh my goodness, he did?!” she asked. “Did they believe you?” she appended. Brycen nodded his head in affirmation.

    “I think they did; they have obviously had some sort of interaction with Giratina themselves, so I don’t see why they shouldn’t.” he responded. “But recanting my tale… it brought portions of our past to mind that have made me think… I just want to apologize for any pain I’ve put you through as a result.” he continued mournfully. After a hesitant pause, he appended one final statement; “I love you, Mary…” he whispered quietly.

    “Oh, Brycen, and I love you.” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck. “You don’t need to apologize for anything you’ve done, dear; you’ve had, in many ways, a very blessed life, but also one with many trials. We have always understood your pain.” she continued. Brycen smiled faintly at her remarks.

    “Understanding…” he mused. “…hmm… yes, I think you have…” he continued. He kissed his wife and remained in her embrace for several minutes. For a rare, fleeting moment, Brycen felt something he rarely got to experience: true happiness.

    After a short length of time, the pair separated and went to do their own things; the night was still young, despite the position of the winter moon in the dark sky. Brycen and Glaceon went outside and sat down on their modest, classic-style porch. Twist Mountain loomed over them, but so did Dragonspiral Tower; the two had always watched over the city, albeit somewhat forebodingly, but the former had always seemed to outrank the latter in that regard. Somehow though, tonight it seemed reversed. Brycen couldn’t identify it, but something about the tower seemed off; Glaceon could feel it too.

    “What do you suppose it is, old friend?” he asked stoically, his Pokémon at his side. Glaceon stared up at the top of the tower, cresting high above the tree-line of the surrounding moors. His focus was unbreakable, something Brycen greatly admired. He turned his own gaze back to the ancient structure and murmured in quiet reflection.

    “I don’t know either I suppose…” he said softly under his breath. He sighed and shut his eyes before speaking his final line. Speaking of the tower, he whispered softly under his breath, “‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…’

  12. #212
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post
    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 20: The Ice Mask (Brycen's Tale)
    Part 2 of 2

    We have always understood your pain.” she continued. Brycen smiled faintly at her remarks.

    Real quick, I'm heading for a second Thanksgiving, but that We is aweful forboding...
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  13. #213
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glover View Post
    Real quick, I'm heading for a second Thanksgiving, but that We is aweful forboding...
    Aw, what a cheap way to get a first in. T_T

    But, alas, it is not a review, which makes me the first reviewer. FIRST AGAIN, AT LAST!

    Hahaha, sorry for the lack of a review last chapter. I promise, all I had to say were praises, so I'll be quick with the Chapter 19 Review.

    1. I love how long the chapter was. Sure, it made me have to re-read to come up with something decent to review with, but it was nice. I love long chapters!

    2. Alder, in your story, is so cool. Just saying. It's interesting how you seem to be setting up for some backstory, something Alder definitely could use. It seems all the Unova-based fics neglect that part about Alder's life, and it's awesome how you seem to be giving him some form of a life/personality outside the main plot's use of him. I'm excited to see more of him.

    3. In connection with 2, I really like how you portray Alder. I love Unova as well, so it's so cool that you've made him really love the region as well. His opening sequences are always so dramatic, and paint a really nice scene for him. Also, in connection with Alder, his interactions with the group is really nice as well. There's this really famous, powerful trainer who talks to a group of basically nobodies, and with all his power, he's so nonchalant about it. It would be a bit unnerving. And then Cheren's answer to Alder; now that was pretty smart. It's really nice seeing you try to rise above the main plot and given material and try to make everything your own.

    4. The idle chatter that you allow your characters to have while you're setting up for something to happen is also really nice. It's a really nice addition to your story, allowing the characters to develop themselves as well as create more of a bond between characters that isn't required for the story to continue. It makes the readers (or me, at the very least) get to know the characters, and become more comfortable with them in a more relaxed setting.

    5. Your battle scenes. Just. Man you've improved. hahha

    6. It's really interesting how this chapter (Chapter 19) seemed to be a 'nothing' chapter, almost like a filler, and yet it was so worth the read. It was a filler, but so much happened. Cheren's personality came out. This chapter cemented that he was not just David's lackey, or his right-hand man. He was a trainer, just as capable as David, and definitely more prepared, but he is forced to take the back seat and he's not comfortable with that. Cheren asks questions, wonders why things are the way they are, and tries to figure things out. His interaction with Bianca was very nice, and definitely important to the story. Bianca's character was also fleshed out quite a bit. You see her insecurity about David's future, as well as her own uncertainty about her feelings towards David. Young love. (:

    And then there's the David and Paula scenes. They were really nice. Paula is definitely your most developed Pokemon. I kind of wonder why you didn't choose to send out all three of David's Pokemon though, as to allow everyone to gain some personality expansion in this chapter, but what you did was fine. It just would have been nice to see David's whole team out, interacting together for once instead of just seeing one of David's team out at a time. We see how David and his Pokemon interact with each other, but we've only seen one instance in which David's whole team interacts with each other ,and it was only Kirlia and Munchlax then. Paula's a Gardevoir now, and there's a Galvantula thrown into the mix, a Pokemon we've really only ever seen battle.

    But the Paula scenes were nice, and quite humorous. It was really entertaining reading those parts. And your reasoning for why Paula had to be out was very clever. Broken Pokeball? I never would have thought of that. Bravo.

    7. That's an evil Cubchoo.

    8. I really like how you're incorporating wild Pokemon to play significant roles in your chapters. It's like the better version of the anime, where random Pokemon pop up. They do randomly pop up, but they also hold some importance to the story. Way to go!

    9. And. I think that's it for Chapter 19. Except, N got the Dark Stone from Nacrene. Which means....     Spoiler:- POSSIBLE SPOILER!:
    Just a guess.


    ANYWAYS, I quite enjoyed Chapter 19. ONTO CHAPTER 20.

    Shorter chapter, although long enough to fill me up for the week. At least, I hope it's just a week. (:

    .//RESTART_NUMBERING_SYSTEM

    1. I don't like Cedric DiggoryJuniper (Harry Potter reference for those who don't understand.). Which is good, because that means you're writing him well. He's so... Egotistic? Sexist? I forget the word, but I don't like him that much, and that means you're doing well, since my forming a dislike of him means you're creating a believable character.

    2. I love Paula's character. She's so prim and proper, but her sense of humor is actually quite on-spot. I love the little, witty remarks/jokes you get her to do in the story. I don't really get the point of it besides joking, but it's a good way to suck Juniper dry of his Pokeballs. that sounded dirty...

    3. I will say now, you are very good at characterizing. Creating characters with a backstory that is first of all believable, second of all interesting. Every character you create has something about them, and the main character's personalities have actually grown, and stayed true to form. So, you could say that I'm a fan of your characterization.

    4. Brycen. What you've decided to do with this man is so... I like it. It's nice that you didn't let him just get tossed aside; instead, you've made him even more your own character, as well as given him some hold in your own plot. I have to admit, sometimes, I forget about Giratina. Very nice way to draw that back to our attention.

    I just have to note, it's really cool what you've done with his personality. He's a character that suffers, but is happy, but still suffers. On one hand, he has a family that he is happy with. He's a good father, and great provider, and he cares for his family. And then you have that longing within him. That Giratina part of him. It was blended together so well; I have nothing bad to say about this. The way he talks to his wife shocked me, and then when you closed it at the end, it just seemed fitting. It's also really cool that you've decided to give him a backstory on how/why he became a Gym Leader. Just awesome.

    5. I don't get his 'powers' though. I just didn't catch it. What exactly can he do besides sense "Giratina people"? If that's all it is though, then haha. My bad.

    All in all, this chapter was really good. I don't think you churn out 'decent' chapters anymore; you just give us either 'Really good' chapters or 'OMG THIS WAS AWESOME' chapters. I really hope it stays that way, no pressure. Hahah, just keep doing what you're doing. You're doing it very well.

    Again, sorry sorry sorry for not having a review last chapter, I hope I made it up. I can't wait for the next chapter! Why did I read this one noooooooow? T_T

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  14. #214
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    Warning: This review is actually pretty long (20+ pages in Word) because I was reading through as I was reviewing and wound up writing page-long rants. Unfortunately, there's a lot of stuff that I don't think should be cut out, so it's all behind a spoiler tag for your convenience. I will say, though, that it's scathing for reasons I'll explain in detail within the review.

    The short of it, though? I felt the beginning was mediocre and got massively disappointed by that. I proceed to explain why getting beginnings down is important, and it's the entire reason why I'm afraid I don't feel like reading beyond the Castelia chapters.

    Sorry. :/

        Spoiler:- You'd think I'd have something better to do. And I do. But still.:


    And as if it's completely appropriate, I actually have to split this into two posts.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 29th November 2011 at 5:09 AM.

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  15. #215
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    Part the second:

        Spoiler:- I mean, really, I have a paper to write, and somehow, this is both longer and more interesting than it.:



    At this point, I had to stop, in part because as I've said at the beginning, this review has gotten to be as long as one of your chapters, which means I doubt it's a pleasant read for you, especially since some of the rants may come off as redundant. To sum everything up:

    Pros
    1. Good description. (Most of the time. Your character descriptions could use work, and there were times when you defied the "show, don't tell" rule.)
    2. A few likable characters (N, Burgh, and Ghetsis, specifically).
    3. Okay plot. (I mean, it's basically a novelization of Black and White. For a fic that's aiming to be that, it's okay, and it's good that you're spending a lot of time on the events of the games. I wouldn't say it brings anything new to the table, but the point and the concepts of each event were enjoyable to read.)
    4. Some parts were hilarious. (Although I'm not sure how many of them were intentional.)

    Cons
    1. There were actually a lot of grammatical errors that people didn't pick up on earlier. You need to go over how to punctuate dialogue, and there were quite a few run-on sentences and comma splices. At some points, you also had awkward wording, but that's more along the lines of syntax than grammar.
    2. Not to mention the dialogue tags absolutely everywhere got pretty annoying.
    3. The character descriptions. You stopped the narration to describe a character, and… you really shouldn't do that.
    4. The characterization for everyone else was all over the place. You had flat characters, stereotypes, and characters that liked to contradict themselves. Hypocrisy seems to run rampant among your cast, and David wound up reading a little like a Stu.
    5. The entire David/Bianca pairing was unappealing because of the third point and because it seems forced and rushed.
    6. The way the characters treat Cheren was a massive turn-off.
    7. Your battles – particularly gym battles – became rather predictable in terms of outcome. I could just assume that David, Bianca, and Cheren were going to win, and the only unpredictable elements for some of them (looking at the Castelia battle in particular) were dei ex machina.
    8. There were instances where it shows that you need to do a bit more research, either in terms of canon or in terms of logic. (Examples are under the spoiler tag.)

    In short, I won't say this was a horrendous read because it's not the absolute worst thing I have ever read (and if it was, I would be tearing it apart line-by-line to tell you that, never mind never having anything good to say), and besides, I can tell you're working hard on it. However, if I can give my absolute honest opinion, I'd say that it's not the best I've read, either. I know I go over that in detail under the tag, but I think it needs to be said again. To be honest, I just don't feel compelled to continue reading because the characterization and the way a lot of it was written just didn't appeal to me. That combined with the fact that it's a pretty standard (albeit well-built) novelization of the games, it doesn't really bring up anything new and different, in my opinion. Sorry to say, but in my book (no pun intended), it's average -- and that's pretty much it. I'm not a huge fan of it, and while there were quite a few points that made me feel uncomfortable reading, it's not something that makes me want to capslock rage at you. I just sort of feel indifferent about it, leaning towards, "It's not going to be the first fic I go to if I want to pass the time."

    So if you managed to get anything out of that, that's cool. If not and if you're just going to write for yourself or whatnot, that's cool too. I just wanted to give you a bit of perspective and to point out things on angles you might not have considered, what with the fact that no one else seems to have brought up the issues I had with the fic. With that being said, I wish you luck, and now to tackle the other fics I've heard rave reviews about.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 28th November 2011 at 10:00 PM.

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  16. #216
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    First of all, thank you for the extraordinarily lengthy review, even though almost none of it was favorable. The majority of the things you addressed are things I personally feel I have rectified in later chapters, but there were some nuggets of wisdom which I will try to use for the benefit of other readers. Obviously I cannot give as lengthy of a response and line-by-line each point, if only due to the character counter, but there are a fair number I would like to address. To a large extent, I might respond to multiple points under one lump heading, thereby responding to more than strictly what is quoted.

    That said, I am quick to defend myself by nature, and I will rebuke claims I feel are factually incorrect; just as you asked me to not be offended by your strong criticism, please do not be offended by the points I don’t agree on.

    Which should hopefully encourage you to edit, but actually, let me whip out my editing rant for a second.



    If you don't edit (or promise to edit/promise that there will be an edited version), at least acknowledge. Otherwise, if you make the reader think that the quality of the first chapter is going to be consistent, they're not going to want to read your work. Ideally, you'll want to avoid making them think that the quality of your first chapter is subpar to your current abilities by editing, but I know that not everyone does this.
    This is actually an interesting point, and one that I had already been considering. I know full well everything from the Prologue up until the Castelia chapter is fairly bad; there are countless formatting errors alone (which you were quick to point out) which simply came from a lack of experience rather than any intentional malice. You have to just trust that these formatting issues have ironed out with time and I now know how to format everything to correct specifications as second nature, but I whole-heartedly agree that the first several chapters are quite rough. As a point of interest, unbeknownst to any of you I’m sure, my little story actually just recently gained an important new reader; Paula’s namesake as a matter of fact (if you’ve actually made it this far, hi Paula). I skimmed the first few chapters before she started reading because I was reminded of them, and I was actually faired appalled myself by what I read; those early chapters seem so far away now, I can hardly believe how bad I used to be. The thought of updating them has already occurred to me.

    However, I mention this because I suppose I would like some advice on the issue. I’ve considered rewriting them with the meager skills I have acquired since their creation, but I’m not sure how I’d go about actually updating them. There are two options I’ve considered…

    1. Simply editing the original posts, deleting the contents that were there originally wholesale, and acting like they never existed.

    2. Posting entirely new versions of the older chapters as new posts, while keeping the old ones as simply the “Original Versions.”

    Option 1 poses a problem with character count; if my edits exceed the 50,000 character limit (which they likely would), adding additional parts is not an easy matter, since I would be editing posts from 10+ pages back. Additionally, new readers like yourself would see high(er) quality chapters from the get-go, but then would experience a sharp drop in apparent quality starting with the first unedited chapter; this is in contrast to the constant, gradual increase in quality over time that exists now. Option 2 poses a problem, as I would be unsure what to do with the older versions; do I keep references to them, or do I remove my links to them from the original post? Furthermore, how do I handle the case of people who read by simply going through the posts instead of using the index on the OP? How would I alert them that they are reading the wrong version? Regardless of which option I pick, releasing “edited versions” will necessarily cause the problem of halting the story for several weeks, which I would imagine people would take exception with. “Pardon me, everyone; we’re going to leave Icirrus City alone for around a month and a half while I release modified versions of content you’ve already read and which is 3-4+ months old at this point.” Seems like a bad solution…

    Any advice (from anyone) you could offer on this would be appreciated. I agree that the earlier chapters should be edited, and I feel I could do them justice with the skills I have acquired over time, but I’m not sure how to actually go about the process of updating them after the new versions have actually been written.

    In short, if you don't capitalize the first word that follows a closing quotation mark, that's your signal that you shouldn't use a period.
    I have to stop you for a moment here. Consider the following imaginary excerpt:

    He stared at her with a vacant and revolted look, hardly able to process the blasphemies that had struck his ears; “I say, Martha; I have never even considered the notion of applying cream cheese to one’s undercarriage as a means of curing rabies.” he said in shock.

    There are two sentences there, combined by a semi-colon as they are related thoughts. As a coincidental, by-the-by point of reference, the second sentence just so happens to contain a quotation clause within it, which itself exists as a separate sentence within the larger one. The grammar and sentence structure of whatever content happens to fall within the quotation marks is wholly independent of the larger sentence it falls within. If I were to use a set of parentheses within an outer set of parentheses within this sentence (like this one [and this one] to showcase my example), you’ll notice that the grammar structure in the inner set has no baring to the outer set, and the outer set has no baring on the sentence at large; the same is true of quotations.

    The only case where a capital letter should begin a word would be for a proper noun or the start of a sentence. An example of the first would be…

    “How now, brown cow?” Martin asked with a smirk.

    …and an example of the second would be…

    “But wait a moment…” he asked. “How can it still taste so sweet if it contains no sugar?” The woman behind the counter simply shrugged and continued about her work.

    In every other case that readily comes to mind, the quotation exists as its own sentence with its own internal grammar flow within the larger sentence it finds itself in. This means that the words after it should not be capitalized unless they meet one of the two aforementioned criteria; a quotation is almost never simply its own stand-alone sentence.

    Nitpicking aside, though, what really made this difficult to get through was the amount of dialogue tags throughout these chapters, and that's something that also doesn't improve later on. You didn't let a single line go without having to state who was speaking when, and that caused your narration to slow down and your exchanges to feel extremely awkward. Part of this is because a lot of the tags felt unnecessary. Readers could already infer that a line is delivered in disgust or that David is mocking Cheren just by what's being said. Moreover, we could also figure out who's speaking if there's only two people in the conversation. Tags really should only be used if the tone or speaker would otherwise be ambiguous; otherwise, it causes the second part of the problem, which was basically that it felt like you were breaking up the momentum of a line. In other words, it felt like your narration was choppy because of how many times you had to stop everything to explain to us how a line was being said and who was saying it.
    That is not fixed in later chapters because it is intentional. I hate hate hate when professional writers do something like this…

    “You throw the ball to first base.”
    “Then who gets it?”
    “Naturally.”
    “Naturally.”
    “Now you’ve got it.”
    “I throw the ball to Naturally.”
    “You don’t! You throw it to Who!”
    “Naturally.”

    ESPECIALLY if there are more than two characters in the given scene. As a computer science major, studying this field for over 6 years, the notion that the customer is stupid and will break the unbreakable (in this case, “misunderstand the incorruptible”) is ingrained into every part of my mind. I leave nothing undefined, because I hate reading in that style. Ultimately, you are reading a story which is told by a narrator, not just dialog; moving back to what that narrator is actually saying after each quotation is within that paradigm.

    Furthermore, it leaves the tone under which that was said completely up to the reader’s prerogative. I would have no idea how to interpret the above quotations if I didn’t already know how the skit goes; there is no inflection, no modifiers, no adverbs, so I have no idea how to interpret the intent of that dialog. Yes, it slows the pace to include that, but I think that is a good thing; you’re reading a book here, not playing Call of Duty or watching a Vin Diesel movie. Quotations with no credit tied to them just look wrong, and the few cases where I do it in the earlier chapters is one thing I’d want to change if I edited them.

    While we're on the subject of stoicism, the first scene also establishes that David isn't. He flips out over roleplaying, and I honestly wouldn't label anyone who calls someone else "buttlicker" as mature.
    They’re thirteen. I think that’s all the justification I need for the cadence of that scene; if you disagree, we clearly just had very different childhoods at that age.

    If they've spent years together, it's rather odd that she's just now, out-of-the-blue hitting on him (because that implies that she's doing it for shallow reasons, rather than because she's come to realize that she wants to be more than just friends to David)
    The fact that you’d say this makes me fairly confident you missed the point of that scene (probably because I didn’t explain it very well, to your credit). The entire point was that this was radically new behavior for Bianca, and something David simply didn’t know how to cope with because it was so completely out of his paradigm of her. She wasn’t doing it for “shallow reasons,” but because the excitement of the day was playing havoc on her own inhibition filters. It is implied she has always liked David subconsciously, and that it was simply buried so deep in her mind that she never acted upon it; the overwhelming excitement of finally becoming a mature, adult Pokemon trainer was so much of a sensory overload on her naďve, innocent mind that those filters which held her back for so long started to break down. She was acting that way because her mind was too busy trying to reel something else in.

    Also on the subject of ages and personalities, I need to mention that I've got a few qualms about setting their ages at eighteen. Now, I'm writing this particular note having only read the first chapter (read: I'm reading the story as I'm going along, and whatever stays is still relevant to my thoughts overall), so I don't know for certain if eventually, you're going to explain why they've decided after all that time to become trainers right then. I mean, the entire world in canon is full of kids who start off when they're young, and there's nothing to indicate within the games that the protagonists of BW are all that old. In other words, canon implies that there's really no detriment to being a kid trainer; otherwise, there would be a lot more people who would wait. In fact, in some cases, it's actually implied or outright stated that several characters left for a trainer's journey and then went back to school later on and suffered absolutely no setbacks for it. (This tends to be the backstory for most researchers, particularly in Electric Tales canon. Gary's another example in the anime. Unfortunately, there's no game-based examples I can think of except in the case of Roxanne, who trains and attends school at the same time. Granted, it's a Pokémon-based school, but still, the point is that it's possible to go on a trainer's journey and then finish school.
    Actually, as I’m fairly certain I’ve described at length, there is in fact a canonical reason why they had to be 18. In my own particular little version of the Pokemon universe, children attend regular schooling just like how the American public school system works, learning reading, writing and arithmetic just like in the real world; supplementary to that, they also take Pokemon classes from the/a resident Pokemon Professor, such as Professor Juniper. Once they have graduated from the analog to American “high school” at, just like the real world, age eighteen, they are given the option to become Pokemon trainers now that they have reached adulthood. You will find no mention anywhere in my story of a true Pokemon trainer below the age of 18; no Viridian Forest Bug Catchers, no “I like shorts; they’re comfy and easy to wear!” tykes near Mt. Moon, no Youngster Joey and his Rattata… just adults. The exception would be the kids at the preschool during Chapter 5, but as was explained then, owning Pokemon as pets does not make you a recognized, League-sanctioned “Pokemon trainer.” Once your Pokemon journey has run its course, you return to society and become an adult just like those in our world.

    Furthermore, writing them at the same age as myself allowed me to write dialog for them that would seem out of place coming from a 10-year-old; existential, philosophical debates and monologues such the nature of art as a legitimate profession (Chapter 6), the nature of human suffering (Chapter 7), a visualization of the human mind when viewed by external forces (Chapter 8), the rise and fall of a civilization and the history of cosmic milestones (Chapter 10), the nature of love (Chapters 15 and 19), the nature of Hell, mind-control and betrayal (Chapter 16), the nature of women and chivalry (Chapter 19), and the nature of despair (Chapter 20). Perhaps I’m trying to put too much into something that shouldn’t really be more than “Pikachu, gooooo!” but I digress…

    As someone who has and is friends with people who have pulled quite a few all-nighters in the name of research, I can tell you right now that research does not stop one from knowing where the garbage can is. Liquor, on the other hand…
    That scene, and Professor Juniper as a character in fact, is based on the characterization of Dr. Catherine Halsey from the Halo novels. The line about the cups on the ground is based on a line from (I think) The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund.

    That and I'm not sure if you actually are intending on having these characters be OCs with Cheren and Bianca's names and designs (for lack of a more tactful way to put that).
    I’ve never thought to describe it like that, but yeah, basically; I don’t see the problem with that. They are obviously strongly based on the characters from the games, but I’m obviously not going to write the characters as they existed in the games verbatim, because that would just be a straight copy of the games. I’ve said all along this is a retelling of BW.

    Or you could opt to listen to your current reviewers and ignore the feedback of one person. Whichever works for you.
    Or… you know… both…

    The main thing that disappointed me about this line is that it establishes N as a hypocrite. He's arguing that humans need to release their Pokémon, yet he's captured his own. It's always interesting to see how fans rectify the fact that he uses Pokémon to battle, but it's just rather strange that no one calls him out at this point concerning the use of a Poké Ball.
    Using a Pokeball doesn’t make N a hypocrite, it makes him a realist. N might be naďve, but he at least acknowledges that he can’t change the culture wholesale (at least without Zekrom). He’s trying to bring about a fundamental restructuring of humanity’s perception of Pokemon in civilization, but he recognizes that he has to at least play within the established rules if he wants to succeed.

    In fact, furthermore, saying N is a hypocrite for using Pokeballs is to completely miss the point of the character. N, as he explained, is just recently starting on his own Pokemon journey as well. Why might a person like N who is so vehemently against the use of Pokemon for battles be interested in such a proposition in the slightest? Because he wants to understand the paradigm of the other side. N has decided to try his hand at becoming a Pokemon trainer as well in the hopes that he might glean insight about the opposing forces he seeks to change the minds of by trying to be a good trainer who is kind to his Pokemon; that’s why he’s so fascinated by David: he sees a standard, run-of-the-mill trainer doing the same thing and can’t fathom it. N using Pokemon that are in Pokeballs just shows that he acknowledges he has to play within the rules of the system; being a rebel for rebellion’s sake won’t actually bring about the change he wants, and as a tactician, he knows that.

    It's also strange, that David calls Paula "Ralts" at the beginning of the battle, rather than use her name. I say this because it's a lot like that earlier scene I mentioned: he calls her Paula throughout the battle. It seems weird that he goes back and forth about what to call her for no real reason, and considering why this battle is taking place (i.e., it started over a disagreement concerning Pokémon treatment), it's really important to be consistent here because how David treats Paula (as an individual with a name or as just some random Ralts who's battling for him) will make an impression on N, if that makes sense.
    You mentioned that quite a few times, so let me just address it here. I think the amount he refers to her by her species name as opposed to “Paula” is a lower ratio than you seem to be thinking it is; to be blunt, I think you’re blowing it out of proportion. Maybe my memory of the early chapters is faulty, but I think he refers to her as “Paula,” at the very least, the majority of the time. If he doesn’t, then just let me say that he almost exclusively says “Paula” in later chapters, and that is something I would fix if I did a major overhaul edit. It sounds so wrong that I can’t believe I would have actually written it that way.

    I've always personally felt that Fennel would be a bit more professional than bursting out laughing over the kids not knowing who the gym leaders are, but that's just me.
    I’m sorry, but I have to stop you here. You think that Fennel is professional? Fennel?! The derpiest character to have ever been written? Ms. Sunshine and Lollipops herself? Maybe anime-Fennel is different (I don’t watch it anymore), but games-Fennel and fandom-Fennel is, for a lack of a word that describes her more perfectly and to-a-tee than this, a derp.

    She reappears in Chapter 10; maybe she was a little better there, I don’t know… all I know is that Fennel is the exact opposite of “professional.”

    I mean, in general, Cheren in this fic seems a bit immature, like one of those stereotypical villains who would blow off helping someone in lieu of doing whatever they want. He always struck me in the games as being the one rival least likely to do that – an ever-serious student who might turn down helping a person because he wouldn't see any benefit in doing so. He wouldn't pass off the quest as lame or a waste of time; it just doesn't fit with his goal of getting stronger.
    This is completely an aside and not related to the actual content of what you were saying here, but I think this represents one of the underlying flaws with how you approached the story, and which led to your disapproval. While David and Paula may be the only main characters who are purely “OCs,” as you put it, you have to approach characters like Cheren or Bianca or Fennel as related, but independent from their anime or in-game namesakes. I’m not trying to write Chronicles Cheren as an analog to the power-hungry, unfulfilled Cheren we saw in the games, but there are many similarities. I’m not trying to write Chronicles Bianca as the happy-go-lucky airhead from the games. I’m not trying to write a direct port of BW and call it my own; I’m trying to tell my own interpretation of a story which deserves to be fleshed out.

    Yes, I know this is your interpretation of the games, but… looks like I'll have to get into the canon rant anyway, so why not? To distill the entire rant down to a single line, basically, canon characters come with a certain snag. People know what they're like, and sometimes, the characters you use also have their own fanbases. (Cheren, for example, is actually immensely popular.) You really have to be careful with their characterization in that case because if you aren't, then the reader will wonder what happened to the Cheren they know. They'll end up writing your characters off as OCs in the bodies of canon characters, and that ends up shedding a bad light on your abilities with characterization overall (because it says a lot about you if you can't capture the essence of a character when you're already given their personality).
    Wow, it’s like you’re psychic.

    As I said before, yes, for all intents and purposes, Chronicles Cheren and Chronicles Bianca and Chronicles whoever-else are supposed to be my own character. I’ve never thought to describe them as such because I thought it went without saying, but technically yes, that is correct. However, what is the impact? Why is this a bad thing?

    Capturing the essence of a character I’m already given the personality of doesn’t require any work or thought; you’re asking me for a personality that matches the one you just gave me, so why wouldn’t I just return my input? I never claimed to be trying to port existing characters; I’m trying to give you (plural) my own interpretation of characters who I felt were not fleshed out enough.

    Let me try and explain it this way: suppose you have a favorite band, and they have a song X. Suppose another band really likes your favorite band, and decides to do a cover of X. Obviously, the second band is not the first band; they cannot do an exact replication of X. But you can overlook these intentional differences for the sake of enjoying the tribute, can’t you? The cover might represent the second band’s own personal take on X, and it will almost necessarily be different than the original, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? That’s why you’re listening in the first place.

    *whips out spray bottle and sprays it at your nose* Bad Fido. No biscuit.
    *shields myself with the forum rules thread*

    I was what, five chapters in at this point? I was still fairly new to the community and didn’t know how strictly you guys take plagiarism rules. There was/is some very harsh language associated with the penalties for breaking that rule, and I wanted to make sure I was covering my ass. I’m much more subtle about it nowadays; that would be another thing I’d edit if I did a large-scale edit of the first few chapters.

    I'm going back and forth about the Beatles reference. On the one hand, it fits the personalities of the antagonists in that these two just want to do what's right and have the entire world live in harmony and whatnot. In a way, what they're doing could be likened to 60's protests, where they're going to lengthy measures (stealing, in this case) to get their point across. On the other hand, they're also a pair of antagonists who aren't particularly competent. So, it's both a nod to the messages that the real Beatles were trying to support, but at the same time, it's not a particularly flattering way to honor the only two dead Beatles.
    Dude, you are reading waaaaaay too far in-between the lines on that one. I was trying to think of a famous duo (i.e. Jessie and James from Jessie James, Butch and Cassidy from Butch Cassidy, etc…) and, as a Beatles fanatic, “Lennon and McCartney” came to mind. I have no earthly idea what John and Paul would think of Team Plasma; they probably wouldn’t approve.

    By the way, George Harrison and John Lennon are the ones who died; John was shot in 1980 and George died of lung cancer in 2001. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are still alive and kicking.

    I also like Paula in her own way, just because she's adorable.
    If you would, if the first seven chapters haven’t completely repulsed you beyond recognition, humor me and take five minutes to read just the opening section from Chapter 15, “The Test.” I think you won’t be disappointed if the above statement is true.

    You may want to do more research into the minor details. Even things like this could be cringe-worthy for someone.

    That being said, basically, you're saying that they make a replica and then destroy the original? That is never a good idea.
    Actually, that is how they do it. I had that same thought when I was writing that section, so I actually did look it up and that is how it works. Perhaps that is not how it always works, but I know that is how they did it at Pompeii at the very least.

    Also, at this point, I'd like to just say I did not care for Lenora's personality. She's intelligent, but you've diminished her to a black stereotype thanks to her dialogue. Not every black person speaks in Ebonics or with the accent associated with Ebonics.

    Honestly, I'm not the most politically correct person on the face of the planet, despite the feminist rants I've had in Author's Lounge. However, if Lenora does become a black stereotype, I'm going to be massively disappointed because she's meant to be, in-character, a strong and intelligent woman – a pillar of wisdom that everyone (the characters and the viewer/player/what-have-you) can take seriously. Having her speak in Ebonics takes away our ability to take her seriously in the same way rendering someone's speech in a Southern accent marks them as being a comical figure. There are stereotypes associated with that accent, unfortunate connotations that color the speaker. It's just that Ebonics tends to be more offensive than Southern twang because the unfortunate connotations have a lot to do with racism

    And yes, after the battle with Lenora, I'm still not pleased by the Ebonics. She didn't really become anything more than the gym leader of Nacrene in the end, which makes the use of Ebonics stand out even more – and not really in a good way, either.
    As someone whose whole family is from the American South with only a few exceptions, let me unequivocally DENY that speaking with a Southern cadence, having Southern mannerisms and showing a sense of Southern ease and hospitality makes you incapable of being intelligent or scholarly. My portrayal of Lenora as a southerner is completely in keeping with both the overtly stereotypically-driven art for the character and with the personality we met in the games. Lenora is every bit as intellect-driven, knowledge-seeking and high-class as she is meant to be; giving her an accent takes absolutely nothing away from that. She was every bit as strong and independent in my story as she was in the games; she is a southerner and is friendly, but she is still a scholar first. Thinking that giving her an accent which clearly fits the character Nintendo was trying to create through the character art is “racist” is absurd; not all stereotypes are bad, friend.

    The president of the United States and his wife are actually prime examples for this. Listen to Obama's speeches. Notice how he annunciates everything clearly?
    Like “corpsman?” I kid, I kid…

    He is the one who periodically calls Cheren "buttlicker," after all.
    Once. When he was thirteen. Is this really that big of a de-

    He's described as stoic and mature but is prone to flipping out, calling one of his best friends a buttlicker, and hitting on the other
    …apparently it is.

    Besides, of all the things they have to discuss while they're tracking down two criminals, they choose to have a deep, intellectual debate about art? That's a lot like being in a terrible car accident with your best friend, and as the paramedics and rescue workers are cutting you out of the car, you turn to your best friend and say, "So about your thoughts on the theory of relativity…"
    Because… you know… car crashes and peaceful strolls through the woods are comparable… :/

    I think you put too much of a sense of urgency on that scene; it was inevitable they would catch up to Team Plasma eventually, because they had them surrounded; why not enjoy it? That was a very in character thing for Burgh to do.

    However, if your characters end up seeming deeper during the part you're quoting because of the part you're quoting, then there's something amiss there.
    Red vs. Blue: Now apparently known for literary complexity…

    This isn’t the first time you’ve read too far between the lines; there’s a lot of neat stuff happening up here at the surface…

    While we're still talking about characters, Gorm. I understand that he's losing, but he really snaps when he's losing, isn't he? I just can't imagine anyone as refined as the Sages normally are (in canon or even here, where you've implied that they're refined) would say something as uncouth as, "This had better be pretty Goddamn important." It's like he's suddenly a completely different character.
    Yep, that’s the joke. If you’d read the Author’s Notes for that chapter (which you said you didn’t, so it’s understandable…), you’d see that I talked at length about how that section was supposed to be a deus ex machina for the sake of being a deus ex machina, for the sake of being funny. I was trying to break the fourth wall there and parody what happens in the games.

    Quoting internet memes in your work tends to sound cheesy, especially if they don't quite fit the context. "What is this, I don't even" is a meme response for whenever your mind is so boggled that you can't comprehend what you're seeing. As in, you've reached these levels of comprehension. Considering this is a forest, it really shouldn't strike Cheren as overly unusual that a wild Pokémon is eating.
    You’re right, that shouldn’t have struck Cheren as overly unusual. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in the scene. Cheren’s remark referred to the fact that a seemingly sentient bush responded to their verbal stimuli in a humorous and uncharacteristic way, evidently intent on collecting its own fallen berries and both mysteriously and studiously absorbing them within its depths to do who-knows-what with. If I saw that in real life, my first thought would probably be the same.

    As a result, I'm starting to read your fic as a parody of journey fics in general, which explains a lot of what's happened so far. If the fic is read in that manner, it's okay that David and Bianca's relationship comes off as rushed and shallow because it's a reflection of shipping tendencies in other fics. It's also okay that Cheren isn't Cheren, that Bianca has flashes of philosophical thought, that Lenora is a black stereotype, that no one seems to call out N for hypocrisy, that the plot mirrors the games extremely closely, and that all the other small details that I've brought up so far are such issues. If this is a stealth parody, then it's a very well-written one because it took me this long to figure it out, and I honestly think it's both hilarious and refreshing as one.
    Uhh… sure, let’s go with that… *clinging desperately to faint ray of praise*

    As in, you've got a group of antagonists who are incompetent, don't fit entirely with the profile of their team, and focus on stealing Pokémon just to add to their organization.
    Lennon and McCartney meet exactly zero out of three of those things, both in this scene and at large.

    1. They are not incompetent.
    2. They fit with the profile of their team more flawlessly than the rest of their team even fits the intended profile of the team.
    3. When Lennon said Zubat was “the kind of Pokemon we need in Team Plasma,” he was referring to it in the same capacity as Boldore or Trubbish, or any of N’s Pokemon: a useful resource to be treated just the same as any human member of the organization.

    Speaking of characterization, I'm not entirely cool with the fact that Cheren only seems to be hanging around just to be the token butt monkey. I get the feeling from one of NACHOE's latest reviews that he improves and breaks out of the lackey role (ten chapters later), but at this point, it feels like David and Bianca (who are the protagonist and his love interest, meaning it's actually rather typical that they get better treatment) go out of their way to make Cheren's life miserable. They constantly mock everything he has to say (sometimes even viciously), and at moments like the point where they decide who gets to battle, they practically rub it in that they're fast enough to call dibs. Sometimes I wonder why he's still traveling with them because honestly? That's practically bullying. I used to have a lot of friends who treated me this crappily (mocking absolutely everything I said, rubbing their achievements in my face, making me feel bad whenever I decided to do something other than hang out with them, and so forth) growing up, and only after things really got out of hand (ironically, when I was also eighteen) did someone point out that this was actually psychological abuse and that I should get the **** out of there as quickly as possible. I guess that's why I have such a massive problem with the way Cheren is treated. To me, it's not funny. It's just David and Bianca being crappy friends and Cheren putting up with it for the same reasons I did: because it doesn't occur to him that he doesn't need them.

    So I guess in short I feel extremely uncomfortable by Cheren on so many levels. On the one hand, I think I feel sorry for him and like him because he's a butt monkey. On the other, he's had a lot of character inconsistency in the past. Both are things I'm not sure you intended because David is basically the focus of your fic. I have a feeling that you're just wanting to portray two "bros" – as in, two typical guys in a typical guy relationship. If that's the case, then I just want to say that relationships aren't always like that and that healthy relationships are never like that. You can be a good friend with a guy at eighteen and never have to resort to crapping all over him.
    No offense, as I surmise this is a touchy subject for you, but I think it is safe to assume based on your story about your personal life that your concept of a “normal” relationship between two teenage boys is extraordinarily abnormal. They say “write about what you know,” and the hard truth of the matter is that teenage boys good-naturedly rib each other and flip each other shit all the time. It rolls off our backs, and do you know why? Because we know it is a joke, and because we are doing it right back.

    “Hey, your mom wears combat boots!”
    “Oh yeah, well your mom is fat!”
    “Oh yeah, well I’m better at [video game] than you!”
    “Nuh-uh, I’ve got the higher leaderboard score!”
    “Shut up, you’re full of shit!”

    Etc…

    That said, Cheren does resent it to a certain extent, and he will be acting on it in future chapters. (By “future chapters,” I mean “unwritten chapters,” not “chapters you didn’t get to before giving up.”)

    Ghetsis has a beard?



    …but when you get actual body features wrong in conjunction with a tendency to throw characterization to the wind…
    I could have sworn he had a goatee; clearly his lack of slight facial stubble in official canon being at odds with an insignificant throw-away comment is an earth-shattering piece of heresy to you though. A thousand and one pardons, of course.

    that he's adamant about his beliefs (apparently) but wise and even a little kind. He's patient and willing to acknowledge the mindsets of others, and he's polite but firm with his subordinates. In short, he's actually a man of honor and therefore a pretty likable character.
    Umm… so look, hey, I’ve got this really sweet piece of property in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you; it’s got a bridge on it and everything! Some local kids even spray painted “gullible” on the bottom part – no extra charge!

    Not to mention the fact that it was a two-hit KO, despite the fact that this was Munchlax's first gym battle (that we're aware of).
    This is simply factually incorrect. Munchlax was an integral part of David’s battle against Lenora as well. I assume this is just a little oversight.

    Cons
    1. There were actually a lot of grammatical errors that people didn't pick up on earlier. You need to go over how to punctuate dialogue, and there were quite a few run-on sentences and comma splices. At some points, you also had awkward wording, but that's more along the lines of syntax than grammar.
    2. Not to mention the dialogue tags absolutely everywhere got pretty annoying.
    3. The character descriptions. You stopped the narration to describe a character, and… you really shouldn't do that.
    4. The characterization for everyone else was all over the place. You had flat characters, stereotypes, and characters that liked to contradict themselves. Hypocrisy seems to run rampant among your cast, and David wound up reading a little like a Stu.
    5. The entire David/Bianca pairing was unappealing because of the third point and because it seems forced and rushed.
    6. The way the characters treat Cheren was a massive turn-off.
    7. Your battles – particularly gym battles – became rather predictable in terms of outcome. I could just assume that David, Bianca, and Cheren were going to win, and the only unpredictable elements for some of them (looking at the Castelia battle in particular) were dei ex machina.
    8. There were instances where it shows that you need to do a bit more research, either in terms of canon or in terms of logic. (Examples are under the spoiler tag.)
    1. As discussed before, many things you viewed as “grammatical errors” should really be classified more as “style differences,” as I have explained why they are grammatically correct. I write in such a way so that if you read it aloud, it would sound like natural speech; this does not make it grammatically incorrect, just stylistically different.
    2. One man’s “annoying” is another person’s “comforting.”
    4. No offense, but I think after the prologue and the first little bit of the first chapter, you were trying to find things to not like. If I may be as blunt as you were, some of your comments are a bit pedantic and imply you were reading way too far in between the lines. I appreciate the nuggets of wisdom that were there, but don’t be offended if I sift through some of the rest.
    7. Ash wins 99% of his Gym battles too, and when he doesn’t, it is annoying and a turn-off. If you can predict the winner, then good on you.
    8. I’d refer you to what I said about reading too far between the lines.

    In short, I won't say this was a horrendous read because it's not the absolute worst thing I have ever read (and if it was, I would be tearing it apart line-by-line to tell you that, never mind never having anything good to say), and besides, I can tell you're working hard on it. However, if I can give my absolute honest opinion, I'd say that it's not the best I've read, either. I know I go over that in detail under the tag, but I think it needs to be said again. To be honest, I just don't feel compelled to continue reading because the characterization and the way a lot of it was written just didn't appeal to me. That combined with the fact that it's a pretty standard (albeit well-built) novelization of the games, it doesn't really bring up anything new and different, in my opinion. Sorry to say, but in my book (no pun intended), it's average -- and that's pretty much it. I'm not a huge fan of it, and while there were quite a few points that made me feel uncomfortable reading, it's not something that makes me want to capslock rage at you. I just sort of feel indifferent about it, leaning towards, "It's not going to be the first fic I go to if I want to pass the time."
    Below-average-but-above-capslock-rage is good enough for me! Hooray, I’m not eye-gougingly terrible! *streamer*

    Not to leave anyone out…

    Quote Originally Posted by Glover View Post
    Real quick, I'm heading for a second Thanksgiving, but that We is aweful forboding...
    That "we" refers to Mary and their two sons. It does not refer to Mary and Giratina or something if that's what you were implying.

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    6. It's really interesting how this chapter (Chapter 19) seemed to be a 'nothing' chapter, almost like a filler, and yet it was so worth the read. It was a filler, but so much happened. Cheren's personality came out. This chapter cemented that he was not just David's lackey, or his right-hand man. He was a trainer, just as capable as David, and definitely more prepared, but he is forced to take the back seat and he's not comfortable with that. Cheren asks questions, wonders why things are the way they are, and tries to figure things out. His interaction with Bianca was very nice, and definitely important to the story. Bianca's character was also fleshed out quite a bit. You see her insecurity about David's future, as well as her own uncertainty about her feelings towards David. Young love. (:
    Hooray for ancillary characters!

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    7. That's an evil Cubchoo.
    Based on an even more evil Teddiursa.

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    9. And. I think that's it for Chapter 19. Except, N got the Dark Stone from Nacrene. Which means....     Spoiler:- POSSIBLE SPOILER!:
    Just a guess.
        Spoiler:- Moar spoilers!:


    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    Shorter chapter, although long enough to fill me up for the week. At least, I hope it's just a week. (:
    It was 29 pages! Geeze, what do you guys want from me?! XD

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    but it's a good way to suck Juniper dry of his Pokeballs. that sounded dirty...
    O_O"

    I'm just gonna... uhm... leave you two alone...

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    3. I will say now, you are very good at characterizing.
    *big grin*

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    and the main character's personalities have actually grown, and stayed true to form. So, you could say that I'm a fan of your characterization.
    *BIG grin*

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    5. I don't get his 'powers' though. I just didn't catch it. What exactly can he do besides sense "Giratina people"? If that's all it is though, then haha. My bad.
    Yeah, basically.

    // // //

    Thanks for reading, guys.

  17. #217
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post
        Spoiler:- Moar spoilers!:


        Spoiler:- Ah, spoilers:


    It was 29 pages! Geeze, what do you guys want from me?! XD

    HAHAHA! Oh, whoops. It felt shorter. Anyways, I wasn't complaining, I was just saying. The length was nice, and I don't expect more, haha.

    O_O"

    I'm just gonna... uhm... leave you two alone...

    HAHA.
    I think reposting as separate chapters would be good. After the story though, finish the story first, haha.

    Feel like you need a little more Pokemon in your life? Tune into our show!
    EPISODE 55 - SLOWPOKE HOLIDAY
    Looking for something Pokemon-related to listen to while playing through Pokemon XY? This episode is for you!!
    Released: 12/11/14


    Guess who claimed Luxray?!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post
    That said, I am quick to defend myself by nature, and I will rebuke claims I feel are factually incorrect; just as you asked me to not be offended by your strong criticism, please do not be offended by the points I don’t agree on.
    Fair enough. *cracks knuckles* So here we go on the discussion.

    You have to just trust that these formatting issues have ironed out with time
    I looked at your latest chapter. You've still got issues formatting dialogue. Just so you know. Definitely take a look at that guide I gave you.

    1. Simply editing the original posts, deleting the contents that were there originally wholesale, and acting like they never existed.

    2. Posting entirely new versions of the older chapters as new posts, while keeping the old ones as simply the “Original Versions.”
    Allow me to offer a bit of wisdom in the form of a highly egotistical example: Anima Ex Machina, as you see it on Serebii, is actually the second version of the fic. It's also posted on Pokecommunity under Anima Ex Machina: Redux. So is the original in a completely separate thread. The reason why I did it that way is because, just as the original was also pretty crappy (and god-awful in terms of length, so we're actually amusingly on the same page here), revising it would mess with post counts. Admittedly, though, it wasn't that chapters got longer. In fact, I shortened the average length of a chapter by about half. The main problem was that the new version had a completely different storyline, so I couldn't simply post the new fic over the old one because the older chapters would confuse readers. Revision has a lot of those risks.

    Slight tangents aside, it would actually most likely be easier to start a new thread but ask a mod to close this one at the same time. That way, you give yourself enough room to work with, and you can risk deviating from the original plot of the first chapters.

    Keeping references is completely up to you. For the PC version of AEM, I didn't because I felt that the fic's second version was infinitely better and that whatever happened in the old version is rather irrelevant. For the FFNet version of the same fic, I did because the old version was in a bunch of listings, and I didn't feel like notifying all of the (mostly inactive) mods to change links.

    How would I alert them that they are reading the wrong version?
    Notification in the first post in bold letters. Not too difficult of a problem to rectify.

    Regardless of which option I pick, releasing “edited versions” will necessarily cause the problem of halting the story for several weeks, which I would imagine people would take exception with.
    Not necessarily. People really didn't care that I took a hiatus when I announced in August that I was going on an edit blitz. They also didn't take offense back in mid-2010 when I did the same thing. Hell, they don't even really care that I sometimes take a month-long hiatus here and there for real-life issues. On a non-egotistical example, someone mentioned that Missingno Master once took a ten-month hiatus without losing any readers.

    Point is, if people like your fic, they can wait. If people don't want to wait, then they're not readers worth keeping because no one has the right to demand that you update.

    There are two sentences there, combined by a semi-colon as they are related thoughts.
    Not the quote and the dialogue tag. In fact, if we go by that logic, you've created a run-on sentence. Furthermore, as a side point, you're using a semicolon incorrectly. (A semicolon can only be used to join independent clauses in instances in which a comma and a conjunction can make sense -- as in, they might not carry the connotations you want but still make the entire thing coherent. It doesn't here because you can't precede a quote with that kind of combination.)

    Put it this way, any phrase that contains the word "he said" is a modifier. It doesn't stand on its own because "he said" is describing how the quote is being uttered. In other words, think of it this way: "he said" doesn't mean anything if you take it out of context. It's a fragment. The word "said" needs an object or a prepositional phrase or another dependent clause following it if you want it to stand on its own as a complete thought. If you precede it with a quote, then it becomes a descriptive phrase.

    Besides, as I've said, you don't follow a period with a lowercase letter unless for some reason that's how a name is capitalized. (Any sentence that starts with the word "pixiv," for example.) Instead, you need a comma to signal to a reader that the sentence isn't finished and that it is, instead, followed by a descriptive phrase that explains how it's being said.

    Again, read the guide I offered you. It explains in detail why you need to punctuate that way. Or even read any printed book, if you don't mind me being blunt. Even ones printed using non-Americanized grammar don't follow the rules you're describing.

    If I were to use a set of parentheses within an outer set of parentheses within this sentence (like this one [and this one] to showcase my example), you’ll notice that the grammar structure in the inner set has no baring to the outer set, and the outer set has no baring on the sentence at large; the same is true of quotations.
    Parentheses follow different mechanics, so the same rules don't apply to them as they do to quotation marks.

    The only case where a capital letter should begin a word would be for a proper noun or the start of a sentence. An example of the first would be…
    Exactly. The issue isn't with the capital letter. It's with the fact that you don't precede the dialogue tag with a comma. Hence why I offered that guide. In fact, I think that's where the miscommunication is occurring. If so, then yeah, I'm not talking about the capital letter. I'm talking about the lack of a comma.

    In every other case that readily comes to mind, the quotation exists as its own sentence with its own internal grammar flow within the larger sentence it finds itself in.
    Yes and no. Yes, the information within a quote is its own sentence; no, you still can't the last sentence with a period if it leads into the dialogue tag.

    That is not fixed in later chapters because it is intentional. I hate hate hate when professional writers do something like this…

    ESPECIALLY if there are more than two characters in the given scene.
    That still doesn't mean it's not going to be jarring to a reader, especially when it becomes clear who's speaking and even more especially when there's nothing of value brought up in a dialogue tag.

    As an English major who's studying publishing, has studied literary criticism for four years, and have worked with amateur writers as a freelance proofreader for six, I can tell you that a reader can get extremely tired of reading through tags in every single line for that exact reason (that it becomes redundant and jarring). In fact, that was one of the major points of criticism in the old version of AEM, and it's one of the major pieces of advice I've heard in creative writing workshops with professional writers.

    Furthermore, it leaves the tone under which that was said completely up to the reader’s prerogative.
    Exactly. If you're a good enough writer, the tone will already be implicit in what's being said. I don't need to be told that a line is being said angrily if the speaker is swearing, and I don't need to be told that a line is being yelled if the speaker is using capslock. Moreover, don't discount reader intelligence. A lot of readers can figure things out on their own, and it's not always a good idea to hold their hands and describe absolutely everything to them. (Yet another piece of information I learned with the first version of AEM. In fact, my best reviewer said that he felt being told everything was too restrictive and made the dialogue unappealing and slow to get through. That's what I felt going through the conversations in this fic.)

    there is no inflection, no modifiers, no adverbs, so I have no idea how to interpret the intent of that dialog.
    I'm not sure why. It seems pretty clear to me. I've seen the skit before, but even if I haven't, there's comedic overtones telling me the intent. One of the speakers is using exclamation points, indicating that he's excited and that his voice is rising in volume. There's even a hint of frustration at the end because the exclamation points are combined with short, terse sentences. ("You don't!") It's really not that difficult to figure out; you just have to be willing to look at the quote itself instead of rely on dialogue tags to make things easy for you.

    Yes, it slows the pace to include that, but I think that is a good thing; you’re reading a book here, not playing Call of Duty or watching a Vin Diesel movie.
    When I say "it slows the pace," I mean "to an unnatural degree." It felt jarring to me to get through all of that, and on top of that, I almost wanted to skim through the dialogue because it felt like it just wasn't moving. Moreover, whenever someone said something of importance, it just felt like an unwanted interruption.

    They’re thirteen.
    I'm afraid you've missed my point, but if we're going to talk about the immaturity level, "buttlicker" is more of an insult I'd expect from a nine-year-old. By the time the kids I knew were thirteen, they were already calling each other edgier stuff, and I grew up in a backwards little town.

    In any case, my main point is that the word "stoic" means "expressionless." Flipping out and resorting to immature name-calling just isn't stoic, which feels contradictory to how you described David.

    The fact that you’d say this makes me fairly confident you missed the point of that scene (probably because I didn’t explain it very well, to your credit). The entire point was that this was radically new behavior for Bianca, and something David simply didn’t know how to cope with because it was so completely out of his paradigm of her.
    And you missed the point of what I was saying. It came out-of-the-blue. As in, without prompting, she started hitting on him. Yes, she was excited, but we've seen her excited for the scene so far, and all of a sudden, she changes things up for no given reason. Moreover, right after she's done, she back to staring out the window, making the entire event seem like a non-sequitur.

    As for the explanation you're offering right now (which should be in the fic – which in turn is my main point)… I don't know of any girls who would, upon breaking into excitement, would suddenly hit on someone else for a few minutes before innocently going back to whatever it was they were doing as if nothing had happened. Usually, girls do that if they're desperate. Or screwing with a boy's mind.

    It is implied she has always liked David subconsciously,
    It's never implied up until that point, and if it was, then those implications could easily be taken to be something else, apparently.

    Actually, as I’m fairly certain I’ve described at length,
    Not up until any point I've read unless it's in one of the author's notes I tl;dr'd.

    In my own particular little version of the Pokemon universe, children attend regular schooling just like how the American public school system works, learning reading, writing and arithmetic just like in the real world; supplementary to that, they also take Pokemon classes from the/a resident Pokemon Professor, such as Professor Juniper. Once they have graduated from the analog to American “high school” at, just like the real world, age eighteen, they are given the option to become Pokemon trainers now that they have reached adulthood. You will find no mention anywhere in my story of a true Pokemon trainer below the age of 18; no Viridian Forest Bug Catchers, no “I like shorts; they’re comfy and easy to wear!” tykes near Mt. Moon, no Youngster Joey and his Rattata… just adults. The exception would be the kids at the preschool during Chapter 5, but as was explained then, owning Pokemon as pets does not make you a recognized, League-sanctioned “Pokemon trainer.” Once your Pokemon journey has run its course, you return to society and become an adult just like those in our world.
    And the reason for this deviation from canon is…?

    I mean, I'd hate to put pressure on you to fully explain your headcanon, but the point is, I've read a lot of fic in which the protagonists are aged up just because of schooling or just because it's more convenient for the author. In fact, I've even read pretty insightful commentary about it. As I've pointed out, there really don't seem to be any problems attached with having trainers start at a young age, and considering the fact that the Pokémon world's culture is vastly different from ours, it could stand to reason that there's actually cultural associations attached to starting early (sort of like how a lot of real-world cultures have rite-of-passage rituals when its members turn thirteen). There's most definitely a lot of benefits, the least of which being the fact that journeying allows a person to go out and learn more about the world on their own and figure out how to adapt and grow into a better person from their interactions and being forced to survive and fend for themselves for a period of time.

    But really, the main point of the matter is that there needs to be an in-universe explanation within the fic for why the characters are older. It's fine that you think eighteen is easier to work with, but you still need to have an explanation within the fic for why this should make sense to a reader. Otherwise, you end up giving off vibes that it's going to be one of those fics where nothing gets explained and things just happen for the author's convenience, rather than because there's a particular interesting reason behind them. Or, well, Suefics.

    Not to mention it's not like kids can't have philosophical discussions. It's just that you have to adapt your mind to theirs the same way you would to create any character. Ten-year-olds might not know pretentious terminology, but they do think about the meaning of life and the point of chivalry, even if they are silly little kids.

    On a semi-related tangent, this is what I miss about the 90's. I could have offered examples of media that was done back in my childhood (oh goodness, I can say that now) that shows that kids can comprehend more than we give them credit for. A lot of new media actually prescribes to your idea, that kids can't grasp major concepts. Consequently, a lot of modern kids' books, television, and film just insult kids' intelligences, and it's actually rather sad. But the point is that if kids can think jokes on Freakazoid are funny and that Batman: The Animated Series brings up a lot of good questions concerning characters, then they can comprehend things like the meaning of life if you let them. Heck, even early Pokémon episodes had a lot of deep things going on for them. (The first movie – the subbed one, not the dubbed one – even has characters contemplate the meaning of life. And that was a movie for an audience of a bunch of kids who weren't even Ash's age.)

    Or in short, there's not really anything that much different between creating a kid character and creating a character who's older besides vocabulary. You really shouldn't limit your horizons because you don't think you can touch on those subjects. It limits your growth as an author and prevents you from finding out just how skilled you really are with characters. Instead, feel free to explore edgy subjects with kid characters.

    That scene, and Professor Juniper as a character in fact, is based on the characterization of Dr. Catherine Halsey from the Halo novels. The line about the cups on the ground is based on a line from (I think) The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund.
    Then Mr. Nylund didn't do his research either.

    Granted, Professor Ivy in the anime canon got pretty terrible in terms of housekeeping, but that was pretty much part of the joke. Lanette, meanwhile, has a cluttered house (which can happen when you're engrossed in research and happen to be a little scatter-brained), but there's no real reason to believe that her house is a literal dump.

    I’ve never thought to describe it like that, but yeah, basically; I don’t see the problem with that.
    There's several reasons why this could lead into a problem:

    1. As I've said, fans of canon characters can be insistent, for lack of a more polite term. For example, just try to write a fic about Cyrus when Blackjack Gabbiani is around, and you'll see what I mean. Basically put, there are people out there who like characters. There are also people who take characters very seriously, people who have done a lot of research and meditated for a long time about characters, and people for whom canon characters are extremely important. Defying canon with them or basically using their looks/names and pouring your own characters into them means you're basically not writing about the characters that are important to someone else.

    Or to put it a different way, are you attached to David at all? If the answer is yes, then imagine what would happen if I wrote a fic about him, but really, he was only David in name only. Instead, I made him this massive girly flake who only exists to make out with Cheren on a daily basis. Considering you put a lot of hard work into that character, wouldn't you feel a little bit disturbed by the things I do with him?

    If that example doesn't work, what if I wrote a book about you but made you out to be a massive idiot with absolutely zero social skills? Same kind of principle for some people. You just don't do things like that for that reason.

    2. To put it bluntly, some people see it as lazy. If you're one step away from creating OCs… why don't you just create OCs? :/

    3. Most importantly (even more importantly than rabid fangirls), new readers by default will go into your story, see canon names, and naturally assume that you're writing about the canon characters because without looking at the author's notes (which should not be used to share important information in lieu of putting that information in the story proper), they have no reason to believe this is not Cheren, Bianca, and the others. You can't blame me for complaining that this Cheren is nothing like what I'm used to seeing because I'm telling you how the average, ordinary reader without any prior information would see Cheren, and your average, ordinary reader is unfortunately not a telepath like Paula. We don't know what kinds of liberties you're taking or what to expect from these characters, so instead, we cling to what we already know about them until you tell us otherwise. The danger is that there's no proper way to say that your version of Cheren is going to be completely different from the games' version of Cheren because how would the narration even bring that up? Therefore, if you acknowledge that this isn't even remotely like Cheren or is basically him in name only, you might as well make it easier on yourself by creating an OC. The burden lies with you to make us understand your story, not on us to interpret something when we wouldn't logically have enough information within the context to do so ourselves.

    Or… you know… both…
    …Work hard and ignore my advice?

    Using a Pokeball doesn’t make N a hypocrite, it makes him a realist.
    Except for the fact that freeing Pokémon by capturing Pokémon and forcing them to fight for you seems like a massive contradiction. (This is why Special canon doesn't have him use Poké Balls, if I recall correctly.)

    Besides…

    N might be naďve, but he at least acknowledges that he can’t change the culture wholesale (at least without Zekrom). He’s trying to bring about a fundamental restructuring of humanity’s perception of Pokemon in civilization, but he recognizes that he has to at least play within the established rules if he wants to succeed.
    …It's a good idea to include that explanation in the fic to avoid making readers believe you're actually making him a hypocrite. I mean, David, Cheren, and Bianca don't know that's why he uses balls, and they presumably have a basic understanding of what it means (to him) to free Pokémon. Why does no one ask about it or point it out, even when they had the chance to argue with him?

    In fact, furthermore, saying N is a hypocrite for using Pokeballs is to completely miss the point of the character. N, as he explained, is just recently starting on his own Pokemon journey as well. Why might a person like N who is so vehemently against the use of Pokemon for battles be interested in such a proposition in the slightest? Because he wants to understand the paradigm of the other side.
    Apparently, though, he doesn't because you have him battling against anyone who disagrees with him.

    You mentioned that quite a few times, so let me just address it here. I think the amount he refers to her by her species name as opposed to “Paula” is a lower ratio than you seem to be thinking it is; to be blunt, I think you’re blowing it out of proportion.
    Actually, no. The majority of the time, when she's a Kirlia (in the chapters I've read), the narration and David refer to her as "Kirlia," especially in battle. Earlier times, he calls her "Ralts" and "Paula" about half the time each. Also note that he calls her Gardevoir instead of Paula during that dream sequence.

    I’m sorry, but I have to stop you here. You think that Fennel is professional? Fennel?!
    *motions to the anime* Yes.

    In game canon, she's excitable, but I wouldn't call her derpy. She doesn't break out into laughter over little things, anyway, and she actually sounds pretty competent. She explains what her work is about pretty confidently and clearly, she requests that you go to the Dreamyard politely, and her explanation of the C-Gear shows competency and moments of calmness. I mean, just looking at her quotes, I can't see any moment where she's outright derpy.

    But I'll allow for alternate character interpretations.

    Ms. Sunshine and Lollipops herself?
    Nearly everyone is Sunshine and Lollipops in the game universe, just as a point. The games are probably the second fluffiest, everyone-is-hopped-up-on-optimism canon next to the anime. Not including side games, anyway.

    Capturing the essence of a character I’m already given the personality of doesn’t require any work or thought;
    I'm really hoping you're not saying that there's no effort involved with understanding a canon character enough to write about them because I'd have to then launch into a full discussion about this. I just want to know if that's what you were saying before I break out the egotistical examples.

    Let me try and explain it this way: suppose you have a favorite band, and they have a song X. Suppose another band really likes your favorite band, and decides to do a cover of X.
    Except that example doesn't fly as far because we're talking about complex differences here. Characters are essentially people – entire personalities with some semblance of depth. (Yes, canon characters can be deep if you're willing to dig for the information.) You can't just say that covering a song is the equivalent of me writing a book about you and then blowing off everything that makes you who you are.

    Dude, you are reading waaaaaay too far in-between the lines on that one. I was trying to think of a famous duo (i.e. Jessie and James from Jessie James, Butch and Cassidy from Butch Cassidy, etc…) and, as a Beatles fanatic, “Lennon and McCartney” came to mind. I have no earthly idea what John and Paul would think of Team Plasma; they probably wouldn’t approve.
    But as a Beatles fanatic, wouldn't you want to avoid using their names as ones for antagonists? I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have my idol associated with any kind of negative connotations.

    Besides, there's plenty of other references you could have used. Other criminals, for example. Names of cult leaders (and there are quite a lot). Religious figures. Just… why your idols?

    If you would, if the first seven chapters haven’t completely repulsed you beyond recognition, humor me and take five minutes to read just the opening section from Chapter 15, “The Test.” I think you won’t be disappointed if the above statement is true.
    Normally, I don't like reading a fic out of order because I'm missing the context of the scene. But perhaps I will later.

    Actually, that is how they do it. I had that same thought when I was writing that section, so I actually did look it up and that is how it works. Perhaps that is not how it always works, but I know that is how they did it at Pompeii at the very least.
    Pompeii, yes, but this is paleontology. Normally, paleontology keeps the originals in storage and displays the fakes, largely because there's likely a lot of information that each fossil contains, information that paleontologists don't get the first time around.

    As someone whose whole family is from the American South with only a few exceptions, let me unequivocally DENY that speaking with a Southern cadence, having Southern mannerisms and showing a sense of Southern ease and hospitality makes you incapable of being intelligent or scholarly.
    As someone who grew up in Appalachia and went to school/worked all over the country, let me just say that I know that, but the rest of the world doesn't. Why do you think they gave Bill a Southern accent? There's connotations associated with that kind of speech – negative ones.

    My portrayal of Lenora as a southerner is completely in keeping with both the overtly stereotypically-driven art for the character and with the personality we met in the games. Lenora is every bit as intellect-driven, knowledge-seeking and high-class as she is meant to be; giving her an accent takes absolutely nothing away from that.
    Yes, it does. Accents, as I've said, carry connotations. That's why you see stereotypes in modern media – because outsiders see or hear those accents and immediately jump to the wrong conclusions thanks to the fact that they've only seen characters and people that fit the stereotypes associated with those dialects. You can't really assume that your readers are going to think about these characters the same way you do, so you have to be very careful with the small details in how you portray them.

    Thinking that giving her an accent which clearly fits the character Nintendo was trying to create through the character art is “racist” is absurd;
    Actually, it is. You gave her an accent that didn't exist in canon because she's black. Just because the concept art looks racist doesn't mean your reinterpretation of the character has to follow along with that portrayal. I mean, considering you were redesigning characters and reshaping their personalities anyway, I don't see why you've decided to choose to portray one character as true to her concept art. :/

    That and I don't think you realize how the world sees people who speak with that accent. There's even tropes about these kinds of things, and as unfortunate as it might be, as I've said, most people think about the tropes first if you give them the opportunity to do so.

    Once. When he was thirteen. Is this really that big of a de-
    Multiple times, actually. He says it again in the Pokémon Center.

    Out of curiosity, how long ago did you actually write these chapters? I mean, I wrote the first chapters of Anima Ex Machina three years ago, and I know every detail of what happens in them. And no, I don't have eidetic memory. That's why I always find it a little difficult to swallow the "I wrote these a long time ago so of course they're going to be bad" notion. Even when that aforementioned reviewer pointed out that the first chapters of the original AEM were crap after eighteen chapters and months of writing, I didn't think that the material was all that old.

    Because… you know… car crashes and peaceful strolls through the woods are comparable… :/
    Considering the fact that they were chasing after thieves

    I think you put too much of a sense of urgency on that scene; it was inevitable they would catch up to Team Plasma eventually, because they had them surrounded;
    There was really no reason to believe that. First off, they had no idea how many members of Team Plasma were in the forest. They assumed only a couple, yes, but there could have been eleven (which there were) or thirty. Second, they also had no reason to believe that Team Plasma had no means of escape. They could have had a base off the beaten path, a vehicle that could take them out of the forest by air, or one that could plow right through Cheren and Bianca. The longer they took trying to figure that out, the more likely one of those means could be employed. If that didn't cross their mind, then that would be an interesting stroke of characterization on their part, but still.

    Not only that, but Team Plasma did eventually get away. Cheren and Bianca didn't stop them, in any case. :/

    why not enjoy it? That was a very in character thing for Burgh to do.
    Except Burgh probably would have been a bit more concerned with the fact that the skull was stolen, but that's beside the point.

    Red vs. Blue: Now apparently known for literary complexity…
    :/ There's not really any way I can put this any more politely, but if your reader thinks Red vs. Blue was better written and more complex than the rest of the chapter...

    In other words, I think you missed the point of what I was trying to say there. I'm telling you I liked the part that actually wasn't your idea more than the parts that were, which means that there's probably something you should look into there.

    Yep, that’s the joke. If you’d read the Author’s Notes for that chapter (which you said you didn’t, so it’s understandable…),
    Honestly, most of the time, I skimmed the author's notes because if it's not information I'm getting in the story proper, then either the story proper isn't being told as well as it should be, or it's not important for me to know. After all, books don't come with author's notes (for the most part), and stories should generally be capable of standing on their own.

    you’d see that I talked at length about how that section was supposed to be a deus ex machina for the sake of being a deus ex machina, for the sake of being funny.
    I'm not quite sure what the concept of a deus ex machina has to do with that scene. At what point was it meant to resolve a conflict from overly convenient and unrealistic means?

    You’re right, that shouldn’t have struck Cheren as overly unusual. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in the scene. Cheren’s remark referred to the fact that a seemingly sentient bush responded to their verbal stimuli in a humorous and uncharacteristic way, evidently intent on collecting its own fallen berries and both mysteriously and studiously absorbing them within its depths to do who-knows-what with. If I saw that in real life, my first thought would probably be the same.
    You had a paw reach out to grab the berries. Not to mention this is the world of Pokémon. You have a tentacle monster, a living tree, and a dinosaur with bananas around its neck as Grass-types. Why would a living bush be all that unusual?

    Uhh… sure, let’s go with that… *clinging desperately to faint ray of praise*
    Probably not what you had in mind, though, just as a warning.

    1. They are not incompetent.
    They don't exactly seem to be, what with the fact that they hide in a cave and somehow manage to make their captures easy for a bunch of teens to find.

    2. They fit with the profile of their team more flawlessly than the rest of their team even fits the intended profile of the team.
    That's the point.

    3. When Lennon said Zubat was “the kind of Pokemon we need in Team Plasma,” he was referring to it in the same capacity as Boldore or Trubbish, or any of N’s Pokemon: a useful resource to be treated just the same as any human member of the organization.
    Except they seem to use Trubbish and Boldore as battling tools, not as friends or equals. It's odd that in the times that we've seen them, we only see Trubbish and Boldore in battle, rather than out of their balls and interacting with their trainers.

    No offense, as I surmise this is a touchy subject for you, but I think it is safe to assume based on your story about your personal life that your concept of a “normal” relationship between two teenage boys is extraordinarily abnormal.
    Actually, no. It's entirely possible to have two guys be friends without having one person constantly mock and berate the other, and on top of that, David and Bianca seem to be going to extra lengths to make Cheren feel like crap. In fact, a lot of guys I knew in high school and in college (my older brother included) had relationships where guys treated each other decently and where insulting each other wasn't the focal point of their relationship (the way it seems to be with David and Bianca towards Cheren). If anything, I honestly think your perceptions might have been a bit off, and if that's the kind of treatment that you received growing up, I'm very, genuinely sorry about that.

    I could have sworn he had a goatee; clearly his lack of slight facial stubble in official canon being at odds with an insignificant throw-away comment is an earth-shattering piece of heresy to you though. A thousand and one pardons, of course.
    The reason why I brought it up was because I was amused by it.

    Umm… so look, hey, I’ve got this really sweet piece of property in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you; it’s got a bridge on it and everything! Some local kids even spray painted “gullible” on the bottom part – no extra charge!
    And this is just going on the list of reasons why this thread turns me off. :| Sorry, but seriously? I was scathing in my review to you, not attempting to insult your intelligence or patronize you. (Yes, even when the spray bottle thing happened.) There's a difference, and honestly, I don't like authors who respond to reviewers with sarcasm. It's just bad etiquette.

    Moreover, N, in canon, does believe in what he has to say, and given the fact that you haven't established how much of your interpretation this is (because you seem to think we, as readers, should just be magically able to know this), I had no reason to believe that, on some level, N doesn't believe the same.

    In fact, if anything, you should take my character interpretations as signs that your characterization is weaker than you thought. As you've noted, I'm doing pretty close readings of each character (admittedly to almost academic levels because I'm used to literary criticism), yet I'm somehow not arriving to the conclusions you've noted. The conclusions you've noted are based on information that you know but that isn't present in the context of the work. There's a disconnect here, and it's not necessarily on my end.

    1. As discussed before, many things you viewed as “grammatical errors” should really be classified more as “style differences,” as I have explained why they are grammatically correct.
    Except they aren't. See the guide that I gave you.

    2. One man’s “annoying” is another person’s “comforting.”
    Unless, of course, the one man is attempting to give you insight as to why published books largely don't do that annoying thing either.

    4. No offense, but I think after the prologue and the first little bit of the first chapter, you were trying to find things to not like. If I may be as blunt as you were, some of your comments are a bit pedantic and imply you were reading way too far in between the lines. I appreciate the nuggets of wisdom that were there, but don’t be offended if I sift through some of the rest.
    If anything, the prologue and the first chapter were the only parts I actually liked because I felt everything went downhill from there. You accuse me of reading too far between the lines, but you fail to realize that not everyone's going to feed you superficial praise. There are people who are going to dislike your work for genuinely valid reasons because, I'm afraid, it's not the best representation of journey fic out there; dismissing someone's views as pedantic just because they happen to read closer than what you're used to in order to appreciate a work a bit better just implies that you're willing to blow off a reviewer who gives you negative feedback. Either that or that you're thin-skinned and that you easily flip out and attempt to save face by writing off a negative review as being irrelevant and pretentious.

    Besides, as I've noted, there were parts of the fic that I actually did like. (N, Burgh, Ghetsis, Paula, that part with Red vs. Blue, your descriptions, and so forth.) I wasn't looking for parts I didn't like; I was looking for parts that I did. That's why a lot of the review came off the way it did: because I was frustrated and disappointed when I could only find a handful of things to talk about in a positive light. It even got particularly irritated at the part with Red vs. Blue because I realized that the reasons why I liked that scene could all be credited to someone who wasn't you.

    You see what I mean? I was just massively disappointed in this work because you seem to have a lot of potential, but this doesn't look like a piece that matches what you can do. You can be creative, and I'm sure you can do amazing things with characters if the way you write description (and the way you've written characters like Paula and Ghetsis) is any indication. It's just that you've got to work hard to reach that potential and consider for five seconds that there might be a point of validity to negative feedback you're getting. That's also why I think it's a shame people have only been offering you praise and telling you things like there's no grammatical errors. You can grow beyond this point, but you can't do it by being told you're right all the time. That's what I learned with the first version of AEM, and to this day, I think that the most valuable review I've ever gotten was a review exactly like the one I gave you: scathing, to the point, and something I wrote off as being pedantic and irrelevant at the time.

    7. Ash wins 99% of his Gym battles too, and when he doesn’t, it is annoying and a turn-off.
    You know that there's a lot of people who don't particularly like Ash because of that, right?

    Besides, it's not actually true. In the Sinnoh arc, he lost half his battles on the first try. Hoenn, he lost quite a few as well. Even in the first season, he never would have won half his battles if he didn't have outside help, and a lot of his badges were given to him for reasons other than a field victory.


    So… yeah. Outright calling me gullible and dismissing most of my comments as being overly intellectual/missing the point when you seem to be attempting to write a version of the games that was meant to be a bit more in-depth than the original weren't particularly cool actions to take (although it's rather amusing that that's exactly how I responded to that aforementioned reviewer), and that reaction is probably going to be one of many reasons why I'm most likely not going to keep reading, but the discussion so far was rather fun.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 29th November 2011 at 9:33 AM.

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  19. #219
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    Alright, alright, hold on. So, I'm gonna comment on Valentyine's posts. I liked the in deptyh of it, and I've learned several things.

    First off, I agrre wholeheartedly with using the memes and tropes. It makers it hard for guys like me who keep up with normal things to understand.

    At one point, JK points out "Pachirisu leanred Hidden Power!" as a bad description. While true, if Chaos hasn't said it (and I didn't see it in the reply) this read to me as quoting the game, not a bad edit.

    Alos, I'm between the two of you. In two people conversations, I was taught to have a person's name either in the wuote or as a "said" every 5 lines or so, just to keep the author refreshed. This, from a High School English class, so I trust the credibility.

    And finally, there's this "I'm surprised others haven't caught them" comment about us readers. That, felt I hope unintentionally, backhanded. I enjoy reading fics, ad try to be helpful, but I'm here for fun, not a literary grade. Different strokes, I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post



    That "we" refers to Mary and their two sons. It does not refer to Mary and Giratina or something if that's what you were implying.



    .

    yes actually that's where it felt like it came from. Now that I have more time to study it, it's because we're coming out of a conversation about Giratina and not the family, so We naturally refers to the wrong noun. Check that, and all will be well.

    I was going to make a full review here, but I'm outta time. Tomorrow maybe.
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  20. #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glover View Post
    Alright, alright, hold on. So, I'm gonna comment on Valentyine's posts. I liked the in deptyh of it, and I've learned several things.
    Thank you. I'm glad you got something out of it. It's always cool to hear that someone other than the writer is reading a review, if only because it's an awesome way to pick up tips.

    At one point, JK points out "Pachirisu leanred Hidden Power!" as a bad description. While true, if Chaos hasn't said it (and I didn't see it in the reply) this read to me as quoting the game, not a bad edit.
    It's true that this could be possible, but there's a couple things you'll want to keep in mind. Generally, a fanfic in this fandom seeks to expand on the concepts you see in canon because a lot of those concepts are really hard to picture mentally, especially if you don't have visuals. It's one thing to see on a handheld screen the image of a disc attaching to a Pokémon's head to magically transfer a move to the Pokémon, but when you don't have that visual in front of you, "(Pokémon) learned (TM)" takes on a more abstract meaning and wanders towards the dangerous territory of not making sense. Also, fanfic is an exercise in putting your headcanon to work, so by explaining how TMs work, you're allowing the reader to get a little deeper into the world you're developing.

    The second thing to keep in mind is that if I'm reading the first author's note correctly, this entire fic is an attempt to flesh out all parts of the games. Chaos even says he wants to expand on battles, flesh out characters, and so forth. If this is just an expansion of the world he's created in his head, it's rather strange that he would opt for a cop-out when it comes to something that could potentially be interesting as the technology in this universe. Arguably, it might not be his focus, but putting that beside something that receives a lot more detail seems a little off and causes the part that isn't detailed all that much to become more obvious. To smooth things over, it's always best to remain consistent about your details: don't defy the "show, don't tell" rule for some parts and go in-depth for others. (For another example, there was a part where in one of the battles, a move's effect was just summed up as, "Leer lowered her Defense stat." That stuck out as awkward to me, especially in light of how the "mission statement" for the fic seems to be to bring these battles to life.

    Alos, I'm between the two of you. In two people conversations, I was taught to have a person's name either in the wuote or as a "said" every 5 lines or so, just to keep the author refreshed. This, from a High School English class, so I trust the credibility.
    Your high school class taught you well. It's okay to throw in a tag every few lines (especially because very few conversations involve people remaining still and never changing their expressions for the entirety of an exchange), but it's definitely not necessary for every single line. Beyond not doing it every line, though, it ends up being debatable, but for the sake of simplicity, keeping it at every five lines or so (once you've established who's speaking when with the first couple of lines) is a good rule of thumb to have.

    One of the other things I forgot to mention (or, well, one of the things that could elaborate on the "unnaturally slow" part) is that dialogue tags pause the conversation. The more dialogue tags you throw into an exchange, the less the reader is going over what's being said at the rate of normal speech. In other words, putting dialogue tags in every line also has the potential of causing the exchange to sound unnatural.

    And finally, there's this "I'm surprised others haven't caught them" comment about us readers. That, felt I hope unintentionally, backhanded. I enjoy reading fics, ad try to be helpful, but I'm here for fun, not a literary grade. Different strokes, I guess.
    Reading over that, I have to say that I agree it comes off as a bit dickish, and sorry about that. I guess one of my pet peeves is when someone says, "I didn't find any grammatical errors" (sorry, NACHOE) because what's usually the case is that there actually are. It's better to point out the ones you can if you have to mention grammar or just avoid grammar altogether. The reason why is because if you say to an author that there's no errors, when someone comes along and says that there are, backing things up with either explanations or links to guides where explanations can be found, then the author becomes defensive and refers to your reviews. It's been happening a lot around this forum, so I'm definitely not targeting anyone in particular when I say this now.

    But ranting aside, yeah, sorry about that. I don't want to make other reviewers feel like crap.

    With that said, I totally agree with you that fanfiction is a fun hobby. I read fanfic for fun too, but I'm more used to the "Chekhov's Gun" school of thought, where no detail exists in a story unless it was meant to mean something. To be honest with you, I really like fics where details that seem inconsequential at the beginning actually circle back and become really important later on because, in my opinion, there's really nothing like getting hit with that and saying, "Holy crap, that thing that appeared back in chapter four is relevant now!" (There are actually fics where that happens on this forum. Cutlerine seems pretty fond of this idea, for example.) Not only that, but sometimes, small errors can be jarring to me -- like traveling down a road surrounded by beautiful scenery but filled with potholes. (As in, I can enjoy the scenery if there's just a few potholes in the road, but if there's a lot, then I have to focus on the road instead.) So that's actually part of why I sounded so anal in the review: because to me, everything in a fic is important, even if it sounds like it's not. So, when I sound like I'm anal, I'm really just telling an author to watch out because one irrelevant detail to them might actually completely change what they were going for to someone else.

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  21. #221
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    I'm now caught up on all the chapters except 20, and I can say with certainty now that Paula is my favorite character, followed closely by Cheren. You need to put more instances where Cheren and Bianca are together since it can make for quite an interesting relationship (even though we just had an instance like this in Twist Mountain).

    My main complaint is that you're trying to blend in game mechanics into the story where they don't fit in. It almost always feels awkward when you fit game mechanics into a piece of literature like this. I think it would greatly improve the flow of the story and the writing quality if you tried to find the real-world applications of some of the abilities and stats of pokemon so it doesn't sound so much like a video game. The problem with some of the battle scenes is that they seem too much like in-game battles, where there are very rigid mechanics. This usually doesn't end up being the case, however, since the battles themselves seem realistic; it's just the game mechanics that you sprinkle in that are the problem.

    Other than that, I only have a few other complaints:

    1. You still don't seem to understand that when you're making a quote that continues with narration afterward, you have to use a comma, even if it's the end of a clause or sentence. The exception is if the quote ends in a question mark or exclamation point. For example:

    "A boulder must have crushed it while we were trying to escape, so Paula just spent the last day out with me as we made our way through the caves.” he continued.

    The quote here should end in a comma since the entire sentence, including the quote and the narration, doesn't end there, as there is still narration after it. It should read like this:

    "A boulder must have crushed it while we were trying to escape, so Paula just spent the last day out with me as we made our way through the caves,” he continued.

    Even though the sentence in the quote ends there, the entire sentence doesn't. If the quote ends in a question mark or an exclamation point, you just leave it alone. If it were up to me to make punctuation, I would have made a question mark and exclamation point with commas at the bottom instead of periods, like they did with semicolons. However, I don't make up the grammar rules, so we just have to stick with this.

    2. You seem to be overusing your italics. Generally speaking, italics shouldn't be used in narration at all. They should only be used during dialogue to stress certain parts of characters' speech, or when using foreign terms like "ad infinitum".

    3. Sometimes, when you describe attacks in battles as being absolutely crushing or something like that. Basically, you use a strong modifying word to try and make the description more powerful. The problem here is that the description is a bit general, even with the modification. It would be better if you used the technique of "showing, not telling" where you relay what's actually happening rather than blatantly describing the outcome. Describe the motions made to execute the attack, describe what the attack physically looks like, and describe the specific physical effect it has on the enemy rather than just using a general adjective to try and relay the intensity.

    (I'm not completely up to date, so don't sue me if you've learned or improved on any of these points)

    Other than that, I'm loving the story. Despite being a journey fic, it has a certain amount of unpredictability that makes it satisfying. The amazing characters (especially Paula!) make the story pleasant to read, but the great writing quality is what really completes it for me. Go ahead and add me to the PM list, 'cause I'll be looking out for more chapters.

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  22. #222
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    No offense, as I surmise this is a touchy subject for you, but I think it is safe to assume based on your story about your personal life that your concept of a “normal” relationship between two teenage boys is extraordinarily abnormal. They say “write about what you know,” and the hard truth of the matter is that teenage boys good-naturedly rib each other and flip each other **** all the time.
    I could have sworn he had a goatee; clearly his lack of slight facial stubble in official canon being at odds with an insignificant throw-away comment is an earth-shattering piece of heresy to you though. A thousand and one pardons, of course.
    Umm… so look, hey, I’ve got this really sweet piece of property in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you; it’s got a bridge on it and everything! Some local kids even spray painted “gullible” on the bottom part – no extra charge!
    Okay, stuff like that should never be necessary in a review or review reply. Saying that people's view on relationships is 'abnormal' just in itself is a borderline at best but the other two I randomly pulled has no place here. You do not need to reply sarcastically to a point raised about you incorrectly describing the appearance of a canon character (which frankly is pretty important - say you said Harry Potter's scar was in the shape of a dagger. That's incorrect unless you are writing him as OOC, and even then, physical appearances of characters is a fairly well-grounded point), nor insinuate that others are gullible or whatnot. Comments should be about the review itself, (or with reviews about the story), not the writer of said review.

    That and things like this:
    4. No offense, but I think after the prologue and the first little bit of the first chapter, you were trying to find things to not like. If I may be as blunt as you were, some of your comments are a bit pedantic and imply you were reading way too far in between the lines. I appreciate the nuggets of wisdom that were there, but don’t be offended if I sift through some of the rest.
    suggest to me that you're indicating that you feel that the review was meant to be flaming or purposefully negative in nature, which even if the latter was the case doesn't necessarily make it less valid in the end given it's all backed up by various examples and explanations. From the fanfic rules too:
    Writers must respect reviewers
    (...)
    –reviewers go out of their way to help writers along and assist them so that they become better; they do not mean to insult or sound mean, so please do not accuse them of this
    –reviews are not flames and should not be interpreted as such
    This seems to be what you are doing in those quotes to me. In future replies please do not make such comments.

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  23. #223
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    OMG THIS IS FANTASTIC CAN I BE ON THE PM LIST PLZ OPPS CAPS LOCK OK well i have just had a 2 day long reading marathon on your fan fic
    Good things
    *Abouslotly love it
    *Great Charectors and back stories
    *Great in-story realtionships
    *Pokemon battle scences have improved throughout
    Bad things
    Sometimes grammar and spelling
    Pokemon evo at similar times like in a gym battle or vs team plasma
    There's not more to read
    To improve:
    More diference in evo's
    Gym battle suprizes
    More team plasma as a whole team/cult

    Fav Charectors
    1st Paula
    2nd Cheren
    3rd Bianca
    4th Munchlax
    5th David

    Please keep going with this

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  24. #224
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 21: Setting the Stage
    Part 1 of 2

    Brycen was calm…

    Seated in reflective meditation on the steps to his porch, he was nearly asleep in his unbroken silence. Glaceon lay next to him, peacefully sleeping at his trainer’s side; the state of mind Brycen sought came with ease to the small Ice-type. The winter frost blanketing the town began to crackle softly as the cool morning sun crested the horizon; dawn had come, and it was time to fight.

    “Steel yourself, Glaceon; another challenge awaits.” Brycen murmured.

    A city block away, David, Bianca and Cheren were sleepily approaching the in-house Gym. Their excitement and anxiety over the forthcoming battles had been the catalyst to drag them out of bed, but the cold was making them even more tired than the early hour would normally have. David was the most rested of the group.

    “Remind me…” Bianca started to say, cutting herself off with a yawn. “What was Brycen’s reason for wanting to battle this early again?” she asked. Bianca’s yawn spread and Cheren mimicked the gesture as well before answering.

    “He said something about the mind being ‘sharpest’ at this time of day…” he grumbled in an annoyed tone. “Seems to me like that would be midday, but whatever…” he continued.

    “Come on, guys, we had to get up earlier than this when we were in school.” David chided. “It’s only a few days until the winter solstice; just imagine if it was summer right now. Dawn would be even earlier during summer.” he continued. Cheren started to respond, but decided against it; he shivered with the morning cold and lowered his head.

    “So have either of you put any thought into how you’re going to battle?” Bianca asked to break the tension; Cheren was the first to respond.

    “Aerodactyl…” he muttered disinterestedly. “Baton Pass, Stealth Rock, Rock Slide, good game…” he continued. Bianca cocked her eyebrow in surprise.

    “That’s the same way you beat Skyla though, Cheren; don’t you want to try a new strategy?” she asked inquisitively; Cheren rubbed his eyes and sniffled with the cold.

    “No, not really…” he continued to mutter under his breath. “I can probably win with that strategy; why would I risk not winning just to do something different for the sake of doing something different?” he asked.

    “Because you’re only using Aerodactyl!” Bianca replied naturally. “You’re just using Umbreon as a setup wall, and you hardly even seem to use poor Gus anymore.” she continued. “Don’t you think you should use all of your Pokémon equally?” David continued her logic before Cheren could answer.

    “Besides, Cheren, Aerodactyl was in no danger against Skyla’s Flying-types; you knew it was safe to try that strategy against her. Brycen’s Ice-types will be weak against Rock-type attacks just like Skyla’s Flying-types were, but Brycen’s Ice-types will have just as much of a type advantage against Aerodactyl as a Flying-type as Aerodactyl would against them as Ice-types.” he explained. Cheren rolled his eyes and sighed.

    “Aerodactyl as a species are known for their Speed; it’s far and away their highest stat. With Baton Passed Work Ups from Umbreon and his naturally high speed, Aerodactyl is virtually unstoppable if we successfully set up the Baton Pass chain.” Cheren answered indignantly. “It’s called a sweeper; weren’t you guys paying attention during Professor Juniper’s lectures?” he continued. David scoffed at Cheren’s flippant reply.

    “Actually, I think they’re known for being extinct more-so than being fast, but whatever…” he murmured under his breath.

    “I guess if it helps you win, Cheren… still seems like you should give your other Pokémon a chance though.” Bianca said; without missing a beat, Cheren replied systematically.

    “Duly noted, taken into consideration, not acted upon.” he said; that was the end of that.

    “I think you’ve got a point, Bianca.” David said, letting Cheren be. “We should try and use all of our Pokémon evenly if we can help it. I haven’t used Munchlax very much lately it seems like; I should try using him for Fire Punch today…” he mused. David laid a hand over the three Pokéballs which hung from his hip and felt to make sure they were all still there; he found Munchlax’s and unhooked it.

    Releasing the playful tike from the ball, Munchlax landed beside them and energetically raised his paws above his head, shouting a joyful cry. He had considerable energy given the early hour; not something David had expected given his species’ sluggish nature. Something seemed odd…

    “You seem… chipper…” he commented to his Pokémon as they walked. “Want to help me against Brycen today, Munchlax?” he asked. Munchlax shouted happily again, but with determination in his tone to signal an affirmative response. David grinned and nodded, petting the Pokémon’s scalp incitingly.

    “I think I’ll still lead with Paula, but Munchlax can be my wallbreaker tank if we run into any heavy opposition.” he mused conversationally to his friends, turning his gaze away from his Pokémon and back towards them. Cheren nodded in agreement with his strategy and Bianca smiled; they had reached the Gym by now and Brycen had spotted them.

    “Challengers…” he muttered distantly in greeting. He seemed even more stoic and serious than he had the day before; the gravity of their impending battles showed in his face.

    “Morning, Brycen. Sleep well?” Bianca asked to be polite. Brycen closed his eyes as he rose from his seat and shook his head.

    “I did not sleep; I spent the night in meditation.” he answered matter-of-factly. “My eyes sting, but my mind is sharper and more rested for it than it would have been after sleep.” Bianca was caught off guard by his answer.

    “Oh, uhh… wow… okay…” she muttered. She shot a furtive glance at the ground around her, trying to lose Brycen’s piercing gaze. After a moment, he turned towards Dragonspiral Tower in the distance and grunted.

    “I sensed a strange aura coming from the tower. I could not describe or pinpoint it, but it set me ill-at-ease. I opted to stay here rather than go indoors.” he explained. David and Cheren turned to look at the tower also, but had nothing verbal to offer to the situation. The three trainers stared at the ancient tower for several seconds of silent reflection, but the quiet was broken shortly by a shout from the distance.

    “Hey! Hold on!” a man’s voice cried. The four of them turned to look down the road and saw Cedric Juniper bounding towards them. His trademark grin was spread uncontrollably from ear to ear, and his arm was outstretched towards them.

    “Oh yeah, I forgot he said he wanted to come…” Bianca murmured.

    “Great… this guy…” Cheren appended coldly.

    Cedric ran towards them and slowed as he neared the house. He caught his breath shortly and took in a big lungful of the cold morning air.

    “Didn’t miss anything, did I?” he asked. David, Bianca and Cheren all nodded “no” and he burst out laughing.

    Top shelf!” he shouted. “You must be the famous Brycen then I take it; nice to meet you. I’m Cedric Juniper, a Pokémon researcher.” he continued. He outstretched a hand towards Brycen to shake, but Brycen took it only tentatively.

    “I have heard of your work, Professor. It is, ahh… nice… to make your acquaintance as well…” Brycen replied cautiously. “You are a friend of the challengers I take it?” he asked; Cedric nodded.

    “You bet! Better watch yourself, Mr. Gym Leader; David here is the best trainer around!” he responded excitedly and in a voice much too loud for the quiet morning. Brycen winced and shot him a curious glance.

    “…quite.” he mused.

    “Cedric, you’ve never seen me battle, have you?” David asked with some surprise. “You, uhh… you’ve never seen any of us battle.” he continued. Cedric pondered the thought for a moment and then began to laugh heartily again upon realizing David was right.

    “Bwahaha, I suppose I haven’t, come to think of it.” he said, scratching his chin sheepishly. “I’m sure I’m right though; no doubt about it.” he continued. David was a bit off-put by the compliment, but accepted it.

    “Well then, now that we’re all here, shall we go inside?” Brycen asked, trying to keep them focused. The other four all nodded in unison, the trainers among them with a sudden gleam of determination in their eyes. Brycen sighed and nodded at their answer, and walked down from the stoop.

    “Come. We will use the back entrance.” he murmured. “No sense in trying to manage the slide if we already know I am going to accept your challenges.” he continued. The group nodded again and began following him through the hidden cave beside the house he had led them out from the night before. As the small city began to awake to the rising sun, the trainers retreated into the darkness of the cave for their impending battles…

    * * *

    Inside the Gym, the glittering crystals and shards of ice which hung from the ceiling and protruded from the walls illuminated the otherwise dark cave. A portion of the cave in the back where Brycen had been seated when they had first entered the day before was open and had a decent sized courtyard to battle on. There were a few scattered electrical lights to light portions of the cave, but by and large, the cavern was illuminated by that light reflecting off of the various crystalline surfaces and magnifying; it was a beautiful and epic backdrop to hold their battles, but it also offered many tactical vantage points. It was obviously carefully designed, and it showed.

    “Who will battle first?” Brycen asked, not turning to look at the intended audience of his question as he approached his own side of the field. The three trainers remained awkwardly silent as they each waited for someone else to speak; none of them particularly wanted to go first.

    “You can take this one first if you want, Cheren.” David offered after a few seconds of silence. Cheren sighed and declined however.

    “Thanks, but I’ll go when I’m more awake…” he muttered. “Bianca’s never had the first battle; why don’t we let her do it?” he continued. He and David turned to face their friend, but a worried look spread across her face as she caught their gazes.

    “Me? No no no, I can’t go first.” she said quickly and nervously. “I’m not nearly as good as you two. I’ve gotten used to watching you guys battle first so I can see the Gym Leader’s strategy; I need any advantage I can get.” Before anyone else could speak, Cedric spoke up from behind them.

    “That just leaves David then.” he said excitedly. “Come on, David, you go first! Show ‘em what you can do!” David chuckled awkwardly at Cedric’s unfounded insistence that he was the best; he shook his head and approached the challenger’s box.

    “Okay, whatever. I’ll go first again I guess…” he muttered. He and Brycen each drew a Pokéball and prepared to begin their match.

    “You’ll notice I don’t have a judge.” Brycen shouted across the field before beginning. “Obviously we will use the League Standard three Pokémon, and whoever loses all their Pokémon first loses. I use the honor system; we don’t need one of the League’s pompous, elitist boons out here to tell us when a Pokémon has fainted. It’s not rocket science to determine that.” he continued.

    “No problem with me.” David shouted back.

    “I like this guy…” Cheren whispered to Bianca, remembering his affair with the Mistralton City Gym’s judge.

    “Ready?” Brycen shouted.

    “Ready!” David replied. With that, the battle was underway.

    Brycen silently drew and released his opening Pokéball. He threw it with a rigid, segmented motion and struck up the same calm, balanced pose he had made the day before when it landed on the field. A Vanillish floated out from the ball and began swaying side to side in the air. It stared David down, but maintained its goofy expression; in a way, this was actually unsettling, like staring at a doll’s soulless, vacant eyes. It put David ill-at-ease.

    “U-uhh, okay… P-Paula, go.” he stammered, throwing her Pokéball onto the field. As the ball hit the cold stone ground, her silhouette rose from within it and grew in size. She brought her arms up and spun as she rematerialized; holding them out to her sides as she finished her entrance, she glared back at her opponent both soothingly and commandingly. Months of practice had helped her hone that look.

    “Erm… master? What exactly is this Pokémon I am battling?” she asked telepathically as she surveyed her surroundings.

    “It’s called a Vanillish, Paula. It’s a pure Ice-type.” David responded calmly. She turned to face him for a brief instant and cocked her eyelid at him.

    “A ‘Vanillish,’ master?” she asked skeptically. “Like the word ‘vanilla?’ Is this even a real thi-” she tried to continue, but David cut her off.

    “We all know what it looks like, Paula. No need to rehash that joke.” he said sternly. He sighed before continuing.

    “Way to represent the West, James…” he muttered; wasting no time, Brycen called for his first attack.

    “Vanillish, use Ice Beam.” he issued commandingly. Taking in a deep breath of air, the Icy Snow Pokémon blew the concentrated beam of Ice-type energy towards its opponent with pinpoint accuracy. Startled by its speed, Paula had to react purely on instinct; she managed to Teleport away just an instant before the warning shot had struck where she had previously been, but it forced her mind back into focus. Brycen was not about to give them any leeway or easy punches.

    “You okay?” David asked just as she reappeared across the room.

    “Yes, master; my apologies for being careless. How shall we proceed?” she responded. With Brycen’s opening warning shot behind them, David was ready to go on the offensive.

    “Focus Blast!” David shouted out loud. With her mind back on the fight, Paula began charging the energy for the attack and took aim. The Vanillish turned to face her after her Teleport and floated perfectly still. It swayed side-to-side a bit, but took no action to try and dodge. She loosed the blast and it flew cleanly towards the Ice-type Pokémon, but as it hurdled towards it, the Vanillish spun around an axis parallel to the ground, intersecting the top of its head. Maintaining its foolish grin, the powerful Focus Blast sailed below it harmlessly; Paula had been played.

    “Wow, it’s nimble!” Bianca commented from behind them. Cheren smirked at the agility Brycen’s Pokémon had shown; though neither Pokémon had taken any damage yet, Brycen certainly seemed to be the more in-control of the two.

    “Good. Now Taunt, Vanillish.” Brycen commanded, closing his eyes in meditation. The Vanillish came out of its spin as the Focus Blast impacted against the ground below and behind it. Its grin spread even larger and its eyes rose towards the ceiling. It began to laugh and stick its tongue out at Paula; as its laughter got louder, it began spinning around the room like an old-time cartoon character. Paula’s snow-white face flushed red for an instant as the sight struck her eyes and the chortling, ridiculing sounds struck her ears.

    “You horrible child, you have not won this yet!” she fumed to herself. David heard her comment in his mind and realized what Brycen was trying to do.

    “Paula wait, it’s a Taunt attack. He’s trying to get you riled up; don’t fall for it.” he replied quickly and reassuringly; Paula wasn’t holding up to it well though.

    “Well it is working, master!” she snapped back uncharacteristically angrily. “Now come here, you rapscallion; I will teach you how to conduct yourself in battle.” she continued. Before David could stop her or call for a different command, she began charging power for another Focus Blast.

    “Wait, no! Paula, stop!” David shouted, but it was too late. Paula had fallen for the Taunt and was going on the offensive; if Brycen could outmaneuver her, it would be all over.

    Paula generated the power for the attack surprisingly quickly; fueled by embarrassed anger and spite at her opponent’s antics, she summoned the attack and held it firmly above her head with both hands. She screamed and flung it towards the Vanillish savagely, but in her anger, the attack went wild and didn’t strike anywhere near the target. Having failed again, the Vanillish continued applying its Taunt.

    “Undisciplined as I expected…” Brycen murmured. “You cannot even maintain your focus through something so childish as this? Vanillish, continue to dodge until you see an opening; I have faith in your own judgment.” he continued. Brycen sat down and continued to meditate, removing himself completely from the fight.

    Meanwhile, Paula was still seething from the Vanillish’s continuing laughter and taunting. Flustered at having missed her second Focus Blast, her face flushed red again and she growled in annoyance and anger. David tried to calm her, but it was no use.

    “Paula, stop! Calm down! Listen to me, you’re walking into a trap!” he tried to explain telepathically. “Calm down and let’s assess the situation; we’ve got to-” he continued, but Paula cut him off.

    “I cannot stop it, master! I feel the urge to attack!” she said both angrily and in a panicked voice. She seemed to recognize that something was wrong, but she couldn’t stop herself.

    “Right, that’s because Taunt is an attack! It’s not just being annoying, it’s designed to do that!” David explained. “You’ve got to fight it; will yourself back into control!” he continued in desperation. Paula was too far gone now though; she screamed wildly and began attacking again.

    You cretin, come back here!” she exclaimed. She generated a very tiny Focus Blast almost instantaneously and shot it towards her opponent like a gunshot; fast as it was, the Vanillish still managed to escape.

    In her rage, she continued generating small Focus Blasts that she could make very quickly and aim more easily; it was akin to Aura Sphere in a way, but none of them managed to strike Brycen’s Pokémon regardless. With each miss, the Vanillish ramped up the speed and continued sailing around the room, chortling horribly to itself at her failure. The sound of the Focus Blasts peppering the walls was like slow machine gun fire, sending small clouds of dust and ice shards spraying around the room. For each shot she loosed in angry abandon, she was opening herself up more and more to a counterattack; before one came however, she managed a lucky shot.

    ENOUGH!” she shouted. She ceased her bombardment of Focus Blasts and threw her arms to her sides in anger. Just like when she had been battling N’s Ferroseed in Chargestone Cave, Paula began levitating off of the ground and glowed bright white. Her eyes glazed over and her expression turned stern. The horn protruding through her chest began to shimmer in a multitude of colors, and a pinkish aura started to glow from her silhouette. She brought her arms together and formed a triangle with her slender fingers in front of the horn; concentrating and taking aim, she shot forth a piercing, crushing blast of psychic energy. Paula’s blast of Psychic struck the Vanillish and sent it sailing to the ground in pain; she continued pummeling it even after it hit the ground.

    “Paula, you’ve got it, stop!” David shouted, realizing the tremendous damage she was dealing. Paula was continuing the attack however and seemed completely removed from reality at this point.

    “Not so funny now, is it, you ne’er-do-‘ell?” she growled in spite. The Vanillish was down and taking her continuing blast of Psychic badly. After nearly ten solid seconds of her unrelenting attack, Paula finally stopped and lowered her arms; her eyes returned to normal and she floated back down to the ground. Brycen’s Pokémon seemed utterly defeated, but Brycen himself still seemed calm and distant. Paula slowly and ominously approached the Vanillish’s seemingly defeated body to inspect it, but Brycen was still laying his trap. As Paula drew near, Brycen whispered something so softly that she could barely hear.

    Frost Breath.

    The nearly-defeated Vanillish quickly snapped open its eyes. Paula gasped as she realized the trick, but she didn’t have time to defend herself. The Vanillish took in a breath of air and blew an all-consuming wave of ice particles and freezing wind at the Gardevoir. At such close range, the attack struck nearly every point on her body, doing crushing damage and landing a critical strike. Paula fell over on her back from the force of the attack and struggled to regain her chokehold on the round; time was running out though. A single attack could bring either of the remaining Pokémon down; they struggled to get one out before the other could as their trainers rushed to call commands.

    “No! Quick, use Psychic!” David shouted.

    “Vanillish, Ice Beam!” Brycen fiercely barked back.

    The Pokémon were only a few feet apart from each other; they both managed to attack at the same instant, Paula shooting a concentrated beam of Psychic and Vanillish a concentrated beam of ice. The opposing forces met in midair between them and sent an explosive cloud of smoke, dust and ice out at all sides, blanketing the battlefield. The trainers heard two bodies hit the ground, and then all was quiet.

    “Paula?! Paula?!” David stammered in a panic telepathically. No response came and it felt as though her mind had gone quiet for an instant. The smoke from the explosion finally cleared and revealed both Pokémon seemingly defeated on the ground opposite one another. Both trainers held their breath as they waited for any sign of movement.

    “…m-master?” a weak voice queried.

    “Paula! You’re still okay!” David replied jubilantly. Her body began to stir and she grasped her head. She sat up, but was too weak to stand. No such movement came from Brycen’s Vanillish; the Gym Leader recalled his Pokémon and rose from his seat.

    “Well done, challenger.” he announced stoically. “The first round goes to you. Is your Gardevoir fit to continue?” he asked. David turned his gaze from Brycen back to Paula and asked her the same question telepathically.

    “Are you, Paula? That was one hell of a frenzy you went in to, and then that Frost Breath looked pretty bad. You can stop if you want to.” he offered. It was woozy and ginger, but Paula gently rose from where she had fallen and reassumed a fighting pose.

    “I can still fight. Thank you, master, but I shall continue.” she answered. David grinned at her determination and nodded back at Brycen. The score was 0-1 to David, and though his opening Pokémon had taken significant damage, he was off to a good start; it was time for Round 2.

    “Very well.” Brycen said coldly. He drew his second Pokéball and released it onto the field.

    “Cryogonal.” he announced plainly. The massive, monstrous snowflake floated forebodingly up out of the Pokéball and screeched in warning at the tired Gardevoir. There was a metallic quality to its cry that made it sound almost otherworldly; its appearance was in keeping with this as well. Frozen chains dangled from its mouth and its radiant eyes glared piercingly across the room; while Vanillish’s appearance had simply been unsettling, this Pokémon was downright fearsome and scary. Paula swallowed nervously and caught her breath before the round started.

    “Don’t worry, Paula, it’ll be easier to beat than it looks.” David whispered telepathically. “We just need to get off a clean hit with Focus Blast since it is weak to Fighting, so we’ll jus-” he tried to continue, but Brycen shouted a command before he could finish.

    “Ice Shard, Cryogonal.” he muttered disinterestedly. Before either of them could react, the Cryogonal flash-froze the moisture in the air in front of its chains and sent the sharp projectile sailing at blinding speed across the room. It struck Paula squarely before she could even recognize what had happened. In her weakened state, the priority attack had managed to get a clean hit and finished what Vanillish had started. Paula’s legs went weak and she collapsed to the ground gracefully; she was out like a light.

    “…Paula?” David stammered in disbelief as he realized what had happened. Brycen sighed and sat back down to continue his meditation. The Cryogonal floated unassumingly, waiting patiently for its next opponent. The second round had ended before it could even start.

    “Ouch… that smarts.” Cedric commented to Cheren and Bianca with a wince as David worriedly recalled his Pokémon. “I have to hand it to Brycen, that was a pretty clean revenge kill, but those two seem pretty close, and that had to have been startling for David.” he continued.

    “Closer than you can imagine…” Cheren mused quietly.

    David reattached Paula’s Pokéball to the holster as he finished recalling her to it. He was shaken up over her quick defeat; it was the first time she had taken any serious damage since she had evolved. It was strange and unsettling feeling her mind in such a weakened state, but he knew she would be fine after some rest. In the meantime, the Gym Battle raged on and he had to focus if he didn’t want her defeat to go in vain. He drew Munchlax’s Pokéball and prepared for the third round.

    “You’ll pay for that, Brycen.” he shouted confidently. There was no anger or spite in his voice, but there was a newfound drive and determination around the edges. Brycen simply grunted without opening his eyes or standing.

    “We’ll see about that, challenger…” he muttered. David grit his teeth and threw Munchlax’s Pokéball; with it came the start of the third round.

    * * *

    The sun had crested the horizon by now and reflected on the water around Dragonspiral Tower. The ancient structure rose from the depths of a freshwater lake, flanked by the moors surrounding Icirrus City. It stood silently about a tenth of a mile away from the shoreline, with no way in or out, and nothing connecting it to the shore. The only way to even reach the tower would be by boat, as no bridge of any sort connected to it. As the oldest thing in all of Unova, the sprawling tower had seen hundreds of thousands of sunrises just like the one that morning. Aged and worn from the elements and the water lapping against its stone sides, the tower seemed impervious to any sort of damage or decay; Team Plasma was about to put that theory to the test however…

    “Just look at it, my son… the regality of it all…” Ghetsis murmured, N at his side. “Dragonspiral Tower is the birthplace of Zekrom and Reshiram; thousands of years old and still standing tall and proud. So too will your reign over Unova in a thousand years, and that reign starts today.” he continued. N’s small smile grew larger as the thought filled his mind. Not breaking his gaze at the tower, N grinned and spoke back to his father.

    “I don’t care so much about ruling Unova, father. I have only one decree I want to see passed; when the Pokémon of the world are free to make their own decisions, I will have fulfilled all I need to do.” he whispered stoically. There was a soothing airiness to his voice; though N didn’t see it, his father’s smile contorted wickedly.

    “Of course, N; your ambitions are as pure as the snow which lies around us. But, do not dismiss leadership so readily. There will always be more problems for us to tend to once all of the Pokémon are free.” he said aloud. “There will always be more to be gained for Team Plasma from this.” he continued in his mind.

    The two turned away from the tower and surveyed the forest around them. N’s personal task force stood mulling around the shoreline a short distance away, waiting for new instructions. Ghetsis saw them and began to speak again.

    “We shall brief the men as soon as your captains return with the Dark Stone. What did you say their names were again?” he asked.

    “Lennon and McCartney, father.” N replied with a smile. “You met them once in Driftveil City; don’t you remember?” he asked. Ghetsis shook his head and lowered his eyes.

    “I do not.” he said matter-of-factly. “When do you suppose they will be arriving?”

    “It should be soon, I would think. They are coming all the way from Nacrene City though.” N responded. “It will probably be… speak of the devil, here they come now!” he continued. From the tree-line to the south, Lennon and McCartney stealthily approached the small camp. They seemed furtive and nervous, checking behind themselves every few seconds for pursuers. The pair approached N and Ghetsis and bowed respectfully.

    “Milord…” they murmured in unison to N.

    “Agents Lennon and McCartney, I assume you come with good news?” N asked magnanimously. The pair rose and grinned devilishly.

    “Only the best…” Lennon replied. From beneath his cloak, he retrieved a small object. It was the stone he and McCartney had stolen from the museum; the charcoal colored sphere filled Lennon’s palm and seemed to absorb light from the air around it. N’s eyes lit up upon seeing it, and Ghetsis gasped; N took the stone from him with both hands and stared at it intently.

    “The Dark Stone… by Arceus, you two did it.” Ghetsis stammered in awe. Lennon and McCartney shot each other a look and grinned.

    “For Team Plasma, sir.” McCartney quipped back.

    “Agents, this… this is phenomenal work…” N said after inspecting the stone in fascination. “This seemingly insignificant object represents the final stepping stone on our righteous path to freeing the world’s Pokémon. With it, our path is clear, and our success guaranteed. I thank you, and all of Team Plasma thanks you; come, let us inform the others.” he continued. Lennon and McCartney shot each other proud glances again before following N and Ghetsis towards the rest of the unit.

    Seeing their leaders approaching, the other agents of N’s task force collected themselves and stood in rows at attention. There were six of them all told, not counting Lennon and McCartney. N and Ghetsis took up positions before them with the shoreline to their backs; Lennon and McCartney went to go stand among their peers, but N motioned for them to wait. They looked at each other in confusion, but took up positions to Ghetsis’ right, opposite N. Ghetsis began to speak.

    Noble agents of Team Plasma…” he began in a booming voice after surveying the troops. “You six, along with Agents Lennon and McCartney, represent the absolute best and brightest Team Plasma has to offer. It is for this reason that you have been selected for my son’s private task force.” he continued. “Your missions thus far have been simple, and many of you, perhaps, have begun to ask yourselves why this special operations unit was even assembled. That question is answered today.” he said after an ominous pause.

    “My son, your lord N, holds in his hands the key to unlocking his own destiny, and in turn, the destiny of all of Unova.” Ghetsis continued to explain. He motioned for N to step forward and hold up the dark object he held, before continuing after a pause. “This object you see before you was once known as the ‘Dark Stone.’ This is… Zekrom.” he said slowly.

    A murmur ran throughout the small crowd. Ghetsis smiled at the effect his words had had on the agents. After a moment’s pause to let them process the information, he turned to N and stepped back a pace.

    “I’m sure many of you would appreciate an explanation of what my father has just said.” N started to say, beginning his own speech. “All will be explained shortly, but there is a matter of bookkeeping we must attend to first. Agents Lennon and McCartney, please step forward.” he continued. Lennon and McCartney still stood facing their fellow agents, and turned in surprise upon hearing their names. They sheepishly and nervously turned their backs and approached N, not sure what he meant by a “matter of bookkeeping,” but stood at attention in anticipation for whatever he had to say.

    “These men are the ones who brought us the Dark Stone. Their courageous actions and service to Team Plasma, not just recently but throughout their tenure, are the reason why we are able to have assembled here today. My father and I have been discussing the matter for some time and now, at the shores of the legendary Dragonspiral Tower, we act upon it.” he bellowed proudly. “For outstanding service, both before and as a part of this unit, I am proud to award them both the rank of captains of the task force. May they lead you into battle valiantly.” he continued. Lennon and McCartney felt their jaws drop.

    All six of their comrades burst into applause in congratulations for their new commanders. Lennon and McCartney could feel their bodies go numb and their minds go blank. They had gone from being petty thieves for the organization, being defeated by children and forced into backwoods jails, to being captains in N’s personal special operations unit. The feeling was almost too much to comprehend, and they were at a loss for words. N pulled two small pins, each in the shape of double bars, a metallic silver in color, from his trouser pocket and pinned them on their tunics. Lennon tried to stammer something in thanks, but N held a finger to his lips with a smile as the applause died down; their sentiment was understood, and N allowed them a moment to take it all in. Ghetsis stepped forward again to continue speaking.

    “Yes yes, quite good and all that… Very well, back to the business at hand…” he began, silencing the crowd. “As I was saying, this object is known as the ‘Dark Stone.’ It is all that remains of the body of Zekrom after he was sealed away in Relic Castle millennia ago. Through a, erm… special source I have come in contact with, we learned on good authority that the stone remained there along with a ‘Light Stone’ containing Reshiram, undisturbed for thousands of years. It was eventually discovered and removed by the Gym Leader of Nacrene City and her husband, the both of them wretched Pokémon trainers.” he continued; boos and jeers rang throughout the crowd at his final two words.

    “The stone sat in their museum for several years as nothing more than a spectacle for doe-eyed tourists to gawk at. They had no idea of what significance this object holds, and so, like so many Pokémon before it which we have liberated from sinful trainers, Captains Lennon and McCartney liberated the stone and have brought it to us.” he explained, making a sweeping gesture towards the newly promoted men as he spoke. The boos turned to cheers again as Ghetsis drew near to the conclusion of his story.

    “Here, at the birthplace of the Dragons, your lord N shall reawaken Zekrom from his ancient slumber and begin his reign over the Unova region. With this newfound power, the people of Unova will bow to our will and release their Pokémon in droves without the need for a fight, and soon, the world will follow suit.” Ghetsis said ominously, reaching the zenith of his speech. “These are the events we have been working towards since Team Plasma’s creation, and they happen… TODAY!” he concluded, raising his fist into the air. The crowd shouted a cry in unison to signal their affirmation.

    For Plasma!” they cried as a collective.

    “And for Pokémon everywhere!” N and Ghetsis responded together. The small group went back to attention and snapped their heels together loudly. Ghetsis looked them over sternly with a proud smile spread across his face. The time had come to culminate their plans.

    “Prepare the explosives…” he commanded quietly.

    * * *

    [Continued Below]

  25. #225
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 21: Setting the Stage
    Part 2 of 2

    Energy from the Pokéball David had thrown seeped out and materialized itself into Munchlax’s stout, determined form. As the ball closed again, Munchlax curled his paws into fists and raised them into the air; his eyes burned with excitement in anticipation of the match and he shouted a determined cry. The overabundance of energy David had noticed earlier was still just as present now as it had been before; Munchlax seemed uncharacteristically eager to battle, like there was a newly invigorated fighting spirit welled up inside him. Though he didn’t know the cause, it was welcomed if it meant an easier time defeating Brycen.

    “Don’t let David hear this, but it’s probably a good thing he had to switch Paula out for Munchlax.” Cheren whispered to Bianca and Cedric.

    “How do you figure?” Bianca asked curiously; Cedric smiled to himself, knowing where Cheren was going.

    “Cryogonal are known for their extraordinarily high Special Defense stat; despite bad defensive typing on Cryogonal’s part, Paula would have been hard-pressed to break that wall of defense, even with Focus Blast. Their physical Defense on the other hand is actually very poor though; Munchlax’s Fire Punch will burn through that thing like a hot knife through butter.” Cheren explained. Cedric chuckled at Cheren’s knowledge.

    “Exactly right, Cheren; Aurea taught you well.” he said politely. Cheren smiled back at the professor’s rare compliment. Back on the field, the trainers were calling their first commands.

    “Stay away from it, Cryogonal; strike from afar.” Brycen commanded, knowing the danger. “Wait for your chance, then Frost Breath.” he explained. The Cryogonal emitted another piercing, alien-sounding cry in acknowledgement and held its ground, waiting for Munchlax to strike. Confident in his Pokémon’s abilities and type matchup, David went on the attack.

    “Fire Punch, Munchlax. End this quick.” he said sternly. Munchlax curled his paws into fists and shot them to his sides, enflaming them as his elbows fully extended. Prepared to strike, he knelt over and began charging towards the massive snowflake opposite him. He drew near and primed the blow.

    “Hold… hold…” Brycen murmured. “…NOW!” he shouted. Just as Munchlax drew within striking distance, the Cryogonal took in a deep breath and blasted a freezing wave of Frost Breath at his opponent. The strong winds struck every point on his body and sent him tumbling back; he sloughed off the hit thanks to his naturally high defenses and bulk, made even easier by his Thick Fat ability to resist the Ice-type attack, but the force alone sent Munchlax tumbling backwards and the Cryogonal sailing across the room. Brycen’s plan had done decent damage to his opponent, but more importantly, had prevented Munchlax from striking; Munchlax had to be physically close to his opponent to land a Fire Punch, or any of his attacks for that matter, but any time he got close, Cryogonal could simply escape with Frost Breath. It was a cunning plan.

    “Bwahaha! Brilliant!” Cedric exclaimed upon realizing Brycen’s tactic. “Absolutely brilliant…” he mused. Cheren and Bianca shot him a startled and confused glance at the outcry; he proceeded to explain.

    “You kids understand why Brycen did that, don’t you?” he asked. They shook their heads “no” in response.

    “Really? Well then allow me to give a technical explanation if I may. Sir Isaac Newton famously postulated three general laws of motion, the third of which explains Brycen’s strategy.” he began. “The law colloquially states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, or more specifically, the summation of forces from A acting on B is equal to the negation of the summation of forces from B acting on A (∑F[ab] = -∑F[ba]). When Brycen’s Cryogonal uses Frost Breath on Munchlax, the force from the gust pushes Munchlax backwards and keeps him out of striking distance, but it also pushes Cryogonal the opposite direction with equal magnitude, furthering the distance between them.” he continued. “This allows Cryogonal to always stay sufficiently far away from Munchlax’s striking range; furthermore, since Cryogonal has Levitate and can’t brace against the ground to deaden some of the force, it gets pushed even farther than a grounded Pokémon would be.” he concluded. Cheren wore a fascinated look on his face, much the opposite of Bianca.

    “I see now. That is clever.” Cheren mused. “What a sophisticated way of getting around Cryogonal’s poor physical Defense.” From in front of them, David coughed angrily.

    “I can hear you bastards you know.” he said with half-hearted joking venom. Cedric laughed to himself and raised his hands.

    “Terribly sorry, old dog; got carried away.” he said, blushing slightly. “Carry on.” David turned his attention back to the battle as Munchlax rose to his feet.

    “You okay, buddy?” he called out to his Pokémon. Munchlax’s movements were strained, having taken the Frost Blast dead on, but he caught his breath and called back out to his trainer resiliently. His Thick Fat ability would allow him to take quite a few Ice-type attacks before he’d be in any serious trouble; David decided to put that theory to the test.

    “Try and just push through it, Munchlax; use your weight to your advantage. Fire Punch again!” he shouted. Munchlax grinned with determination and dramatically enflamed his fists again, but the Cryogonal took in a deep breath in preparation for the command it knew its trainer was about to give. Brycen returned to his meditation, knowing his Pokémon had the situation under control.

    “Hardly even worth the effort…” he muttered. Brycen closed his eyes and fell into thought.

    Munchlax sped towards his opponent as fast as his stout legs would carry him. Just as air drag finally balanced the force from Cryogonal’s first Frost Breath, the Crystallizing Pokémon exhaled its second attack and sped back up again. Munchlax dug in with the small claws on his feet, trying to bear his weight down, but it was to no avail. His focus was diverted to keeping himself upright and his paws became extinguished; with the fire out, he found himself fighting an uphill fight and eventually was overcome. He had sustained respectable damage by now and tumbled over onto his back; the Cryogonal sailed backwards, well outside his striking range. Things were looking bleak for David.

    “Munchlax, you can do-” David started to say reassuringly, but Brycen cut him off before he could finish.

    “Give it up, boy, you’ve been outplayed. You don’t have the fortitude, neither mental nor physical, to stand up to us. My Cryogonal is a perfectly balanced wall of defense.” he spat confidently. He began to laugh under his breath, and David turned flush. Anger welled up inside him and he scanned his mind for a plan.

    “Munchlax can keep pushing through those Frost Breaths all day long; we just need a way to overcome the force itself…” he thought to himself. “Think, David, think… maybe something Cedric said can help; remember Newton’s Laws. The first was… erm… objects preserve velocity unless acted upon by an outside force. No, that won’t help… The second was… the second… force equals mass times acceleration. Force is mass times acceleration… more mass means less acceleration…” he thought. “Same force, more mass, less acceleration. But how could we get more mass? There’s got to be-” he continued to ponder, but a faint, feminine voice stopped his train of thought before it could reach its destination.

    “Master…” Paula said faintly from within her Pokéball. “It is his time; he has waited a long time for this. You know what to do.” David had his plan.

    “Munchlax, catch!” David shouted. He pulled a Poffin from his bag and tossed it to his Pokémon as he rose. Munchlax was focused on the battle and still had his peculiar energy to him, but the sweet treat was too much for the Big Eater Pokémon to ignore; David was going to use the source of that energy to his advantage.

    “S’good, huh?” David called. Munchlax engulfed the tiny bread and savored the morsel appreciatively. He grinned at David in thanks, turning his back momentarily on the Cryogonal. “You like that, don’t you, Munchlax? You like me, right?” he asked. A “yes” would be necessary for Munchlax to do what David needed him to do, and one came. “It’s been a long time since I caught you in Pinwheel Forest; we’ve been through a lot, pal. I know why you’ve got that shine to you this morning; I know you’re almost there. We need more mass, Munchlax; this is your time.” he continued. Munchlax grinned sheepishly and closed his eyes.

    The sweet taste of the Poffin filled Munchlax’s mouth. Warm memories of adventures with his trainer filled Munchlax’s mind. These things combined to create a powerful force that filled every muscle in Munchlax’s body, spurring his evolution. Munchlax’s grin grew wider and he burst into a bright white light.

    The light was brilliant and illuminated the crystals and icicles that hung around the cave in every hue and saturation of the spectrum. Blue rings grew and wrapped around him from within his center, beginning to encase him and scan his form. The mass the pair needed in order to win began to appear; Munchlax’s hefty but small body started growing larger and larger, several times its original size. His proportions became more exaggerated and his face more squat; the light began to pulsate as he started to reform. The light and the rings started to strobe as his evolution neared its zenith; the cave became a wash in colors until suddenly the light burst, revealing the stout, immovable form of a powerful Snorlax, seated where Munchlax had been. Munchlax had at long last evolved into Snorlax.

    Snorlax lifted his head and smiled at his trainer. David shot a cheeky grin at his newly evolved Pokémon, signaling approval. He motioned towards Brycen and Cryogonal, the former still locked in meditation and the latter glaring unwaveringly in anticipation of another attack. Brycen stirred from his half-slumber and spoke.

    “Evolution will not help you. You’ve grown in size, nothing more.” he chided aloofly. David scoffed and curled his lip.

    “Size and power, arrogant one; size was all we needed though.” he quipped back. “Snorlax, use another Fire Punch and end this if you please.” Snorlax growled happily and rose to execute the command.

    Snorlax began charging slowly and ominously towards Brycen’s Cryogonal. His paws reignited equally slowly and he curled them into fists. The Crystallizing Pokémon took in a nervous breath of air for a third Frost Breath, but it did little to deter Snorlax. As the newly evolved Pokémon drew within striking range, Cryogonal released the Frost Breath and began to fly back; Snorlax had considerably increased his bulk after his evolution though and was not toppled by the attack. He maintained his slow charge, taking the attack but receiving little damage; the fight was in the bag.

    “More power, Cryogonal.” Brycen said, his voice starting to waver upon seeing the strategy fail. Cryogonal was already starting to run out of air however; the iron-clad defense was beginning to show cracks. Snorlax chuckled at his impending success.

    Cryogonal continued sailing backwards as it pushed itself off of Snorlax. The cavern was only so big however and the snowflake eventually reached a wall. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Cryogonal had nowhere to flee and no stronger attack to fall back on. Pinned against the ice, Snorlax eventually reached his target and let the Fire Punch fly. It struck home, instantly crushing the opposing Pokémon’s weak physical Defense. Cryogonal shrieked one final instance of its piercing cry and then collapsed to the ground; Round 3 had gone to David.

    “Go Snorlax!” David shouted excitedly and proudly. Snorlax turned away from his defeated foe and grinned at his trainer sluggishly. The giant bounded back across the room to his trainer, shaking the cave with each step. He embraced his trainer in an overpowering hold upon reaching him, leaving David accidentally gasping for air.

    “Hmm… not bad…” Brycen murmured as he recalled his Pokémon. “You’ve backed me into a corner I suppose, but no matter. Now you fight my strongest Pokémon.” He silently drew Glaceon’s Pokéball and threw it onto the field.

    The Fresh Snow Pokémon sprang from the ball with a cheeky grin on its face right from the start. It hunched over into a defensive stance, staring Snorlax down confidently. The small Pokémon would have been intimidating to an adversary of a less exaggerated size difference, but compared to the newly evolved powerhouse that was David’s Snorlax, the sight was actually a rather laughable one; it was time for David to go on the offensive again.

    “Glaceon, Blizzard!” Brycen commanded, standing and finally paying the battle his undivided attention. Glaceon barked in acknowledgement and summoned the storm, but it did little against Snorlax. The snow Glaceon generated whipped all around and the wind howled like a ghost, but Snorlax stood against it, hardly breaking a sweat. His already impressive defensive bulk had grown even more resilient with evolution, and his Special Defenses were even better than his physical ones. With Thick Fat softening even more of the blow, Brycen quickly realized he had to try a different approach.

    “Blast! Glaceon, we need to go physical; Quick Attack!” he bellowed gruffly, starting to show some signs of worry. Glaceon ceased the Blizzard and tucked his head in to charge, but Snorlax’s grin simply grew just slightly more. Glaceon disappeared in a blur and launched itself at Snorlax to strike at his weaker physical Defenses, but in a final act of defiance, Snorlax tightened his stomach muscles and watched humorously as Glaceon bounced off of his elastic hide a second later. The dazed Pokémon staggered and fell to the ground in confusion; Snorlax had his opportunity to strike back.

    “Body Slam, Snorlax!” David said with a mischievous cackle. Snorlax rose from his sitting position and stood up, towering over the Glaceon. Before it could even comprehend what was happening, Snorlax raised his hands above his head and belly-flopped straight down, crushing Glaceon beneath his weight. David heard a muffled “yipe!” as Snorlax landed, but it was of no defense. Snorlax rose a moment later to inspect the damage.

    “Glaceon, no!” Brycen cried, his voice noticeably cracking in panic. His fortitude was starting to break as his last Pokémon went down. Glaceon stirred slightly as Snorlax rose, but the all-encompassing attack had simply been too strong. In just one hit, Snorlax’s newly rediscovered raw power had defeated Brycen’s eldest Pokémon; David had won the battle.

    David shouted triumphantly in praise for his powerhouse Pokémon. Snorlax scratched the back of his head and grinned sheepishly at the easy victory. David ran up and embraced as much of Snorlax’s bulky body as his wingspan would allow; Snorlax gingerly held his trainer back and smiled.

    “Crackerjack show, David!” Cedric shouted.

    “Great job, sweetie!” Bianca parroted. Cheren was stoically silent, no emotion on his face, but he was inwardly proud of his friend as well. It had been a strategic, intellectual battle, but David had pulled it out in the end.

    “Hmm… good effort, Glaceon; thank you. Return.” Brycen murmured mournfully. He recalled his Pokémon to its ball and sighed. “Defeat still comes every now and again I suppose…” he mused under his breath. He sighed again and approached David’s side of the field.

    “Great match, Brycen!” David said with a grin as Brycen approached him. Brycen returned the gesture, warming his cold, stern look just slightly, and nodded in agreement.

    “It was, young challenger. You showed mental and physical fortitude which outlasted and outmaneuvered our own; for this, you have earned the Freeze Badge. Accept it proudly.” he replied. Brycen drew a small object from beneath his cloak and handed it to David; the badge gleamed like one of the many crystals surrounding them in the low light, shaped in the form of three aciculate icicles, like an arrowhead. David took the badge and displayed it proudly to his newly evolved Snorlax. The Sleeping Pokémon grunted in cheerful acknowledgement of the token; though he had taken decent damage, he was proud for having played his role. It had been a trying fight.

    “Very well then; who shall be next?” Brycen asked after giving David and Snorlax a moment of private celebration. Cheren and Bianca shot each other a look, both hoping the other would opt to go.

    “You’re up, Bianca.” Cheren murmured, still sounding sleepy. Bianca swallowed nervously but didn’t argue.

    “I, uh… uh, okay…” she stammered. She shivered and drew a Pokéball, approaching the challenger’s box to begin her own battle. It was one down, and two more to go…

    * * *

    Many dark storm clouds were forming overhead. None of them threatened rain, but crackling thunder rang from within them and lit up the mid-morning sky over the tower. The sight would have been an unnerving one to most people, the ancient, sturdy, mysterious tower painted on a backdrop that was literally the very image of dark, foreboding power, but to Ghetsis, it was a sight he had waited a long time to finally see. The charges were set and the agents were back at the shore; it was almost show time.

    “Father, explain to me again why we must use explosives to enter the tower?” N asked, a look of longing on his face as he turned his gaze from the majestic tower to his guardian. Ghetsis smiled faintly and put his arm over his son’s shoulder.

    “Because, my boy, there is no entrance anywhere into the tower. We must blast open a hole in one of the walls so we may enter.” he replied. There was a casual air to his tone as if detonating C4 charges to enter a building was standard practice for him. N seemed unconvinced.

    “But father, we are using so many. What if we accidentally destroy the tower? Couldn’t we suffice with less?” he continued to ask. Ghetsis’ smile turned sour and he chuckled faintly beneath his breath.

    “N, my son, you can never use too much force.” he said almost venomously. “Captain Lennon! On my mark!” he shouted. Lennon caught his gaze and nodded in determination.

    “Awaiting orders, sir!” he barked back. He and the other members of the task force were hunkered behind sandbags for protection, despite being just over a tenth of a mile from the tower’s outer walls; N and Ghetsis stood at the shoreline, watching the tower and leading from the front.

    “Steady… steady…” Ghetsis bellowed. “…FIRE!”

    BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!


    The explosion was instant and ear-shattering. It rang throughout the surrounding forests and sent wild Pidove into the air from their homes in trees. A swirling cloud of fire momentarily engulfed a section of the tower near the water’s surface, and when it cleared, a gaping hole had appeared into the tower’s depths as if by magic. There was no sign of the ancient stones that had been there; they had simply vanished in the explosion, sent into the air or the water. A wicked smile spread across Ghetsis’ lips at the sight of the destruction; he pressed his hands together and rubbed.

    “Excellent…” he murmured. He hunched over slightly and squinted his one good eye.

    “Alright men, let’s get the bridge in place; move, move, move!” N shouted, approaching the task force and taking charge. The eight of them quickly began preparing the mobile retractable bridge as so to reach the tower without the need for further use of the boats; Ghetsis stayed behind and wandered off to the tree line momentarily. He looked around to make sure no errant non-Plasma eyes were watching and began to speak in a hushed tone.

    “Have you located the boy?” he asked the air; strangely, the air managed a reply.

    Indeed, Lord Ghetsis. We are monitoring them now.” came a dark voice.

    “Good. Reveal yourselves to them and alert them of N’s challenge; he wants the boy here to see this…” Ghetsis continued; the amorphous spirit Ghetsis was speaking to replied a second time.

    As you wish, my Lord…” a slightly different voice said. A sliding noise like a portal closing sounded and Ghetsis smiled. He returned to where N’s task force was preparing the bridge and snuck up behind his son.

    “The Hero of Truth is being notified.” he whispered. N smiled faintly and nodded a single time.

    “Thank you, father. I appreciate you respecting my wishes on this matter.” he said plainly back. Ghetsis nodded his head and stepped aside.

    “Soon, David… very soon…” N murmured under his breath. He folded his arms and looked back up at the tower; the inky black thunderclouds were still gathering overhead.

    “This will be one for the history books…” N continued.

    * * *

    “Evade, Glaceon, evade!” Brycen shouted, but the feral, insane cry of Aerodactyl’s screeching overpowered his voice. Cheren had managed to set up with ease against Brycen’s Cryogonal and pass the boosts on to Aerodactyl; as predicted, the rest of the match had basically been a sweep.

    “Rock Slide, Aerodactyl.” Cheren said almost disinterestedly. Aerodactyl tore a bundle of frozen rocks from the cave walls around himself and flung them with unimaginable power towards Brycen’s Glaceon. Nimble as it was, it was weakened and couldn’t dodge in time; Glaceon took the Rock-type attack harshly and fell due to the type disadvantage. Cheren had won his battle.

    “Well… I guess Cheren can run the same strategy and still win…” David muttered conversationally to Bianca. He thinned his lips and slanted them, folding his arms in mild disappointment; Bianca cupped her hand to her cheek and frowned.

    “Cheren doesn’t seem very interested in battling today. I wonder what’s got him so down…” she mused. Cheren accepted his own Freeze Badge from Brycen and returned to his friends, the last to battle and the last to win against Brycen that day. They were now seven out of eight badges along their way to entering the Pokémon League Championships; it seemed like nothing could stop them now.

    “Tol’ja I could do it…” Cheren quipped with a smile as he approached David and Bianca. His friends shot him a sarcastic, disapproving look and chuckled along with him.

    “It was impressive the first time; it was less so the second.” Bianca jabbed, playing lightheartedly at her friend. “I’m just glad I managed to win somehow. Considering he’s weak to Ice, Axew really pulled it out for me; he’s getting really stron-” she tried to continue, but as she finished her statement, a loud, bassy “thud!” sound rang throughout the cave.

    “Goodness, what was that?!” Cedric said, jumping a bit in surprise. The ground shook very slightly a second later as if an earthquake had passed. It was all quite peculiar.

    “It sounded like a cannon or a gunshot from in here.” Cheren commented. “Is there a firing range around here or something, Brycen?” he asked; the Gym Leader didn’t reply. After a few seconds’ pause with no answer, Cheren asked again. “Brycen?” Still nothing.

    The group turned to look at the Gym Leader to see why he was so quiet. A worried look was plastered on his face and his eyes were darting all around the room. His muscles were all locked and his wasn’t moving, but his eyes flitted around nervously. David decided to try his own luck at catching the Gym Leader’s attention.

    “Brycen, is something wrong?” he asked. Brycen stirred from his thoughts and shook his head to wake himself from it, putting his hand to his temple gingerly as if he had been lightheaded. He sighed and responded.

    “Oh, umm, no, sorry, nothing’s wrong. No, Cheren, there aren’t any firing ranges in Icirrus City.” he answered. He cleared his throat and took a step closer to the group; he still seemed apprehensive about something though.

    “I wonder what it could have been then. It was so peculiar…” Bianca mused. “We even felt it shake the cave, and we’re pretty deep back in here.” she continued. Brycen began muttering to himself.

    No… no, you can’t reach me in here…” he said in a hushed whisper. It was almost so quiet that nobody noticed.

    “Maybe it was an earthquake.” Cedric offered as an explanation. “It felt like it was coming from the north.” he continued.

    I can sense you here… drawing closer…” Brycen continued, barely audible.

    “The north you say?” David asked. “Maybe it was something at Dragonspiral Tow-” he tried to continue, but before he could finish his statement, Brycen ran into the middle of the group’s circle and started shouting.

    WHO ARE YOU?!” he shouted in a panic. “I KNOW YOU’RE THERE! WHY DON’T YOU SHOW YOURSELVES?!

    “Brycen, what the Hell?!” David stammered. There was a wild, crazed look in Brycen’s eyes and they darted all about the room nervously. “What are you talking about, who are you-” he continued, but he was again cut off. From the ether around them came a mysterious, warbling voice, disembodied from any physical object in the world.

    “…Impressive, Gym Leader of Icirrus City. We, the Shadow Triad, are beings of shadows, and not easily noticed.” said the voice. As it finished its statement, the cave grew dark and the air grew even colder. Three dark portals like the ones that had appeared in Chargestone Cave materialized in a triangle on the ground around them; from their depths, the sinister members of the Shadow Triad appeared, still hidden behind their masks and long white hair. Their sudden appearance startled everyone but Brycen.

    “The Shadow Triad?! What are they doing here?!” Cheren stammered in shock; the one opposite David in the triangle began to speak.

    “Our mission was to speak only with David, but so be it. Ghetsis has a message for you: come to Dragonspiral Tower.” he said. The one who had yet to speak continued his partner’s statement.

    “It is there that our lord N waits for you… now, our mission is complete.” he explained. With that, as quickly as they had appeared, they once again vanished. It took a few seconds for their words to sink in; as everyone slowly became aware of the warning, a sense of urgency fell upon the group.

    ‘Come to Dragonspiral Tower?’” David parroted. “What could be– …oh no.” His eyes grew wide as he realized what was happening; he took off running for the exit to the Gym, leaving the others behind in his wake. He burst outside back into the sunlight and staggered to see as his eyes readjusted.

    Off in the distance, the ancient tower loomed over the treetops like a warning flare in the night sky. Thought it was not even noon yet and the city itself was perfectly illuminated by the morning sun, the sky over the tower was completely black with fearsome storm clouds. Thunder crackled in the distance and lightning fell from the sky; the heavens looked nearly ready to tear themselves asunder. David felt like a stone had hit his stomach as his fears were confirmed; the others ran out from the cave just a moment later.

    “David, what’s going on? What’s happening?” Bianca shouted nervously. There was fear in her eyes as the gravity of the situation became more and more apparent to her. Before David could reply, a massive, wicked bolt of lightning dropped and struck the top of the tower squarely. The ensuing thunder was deafening.

    “That lightning strike just now, it wasn’t natural.” David stammered in a panic; he turned and grasped Bianca’s shoulders tightly with both hands. “It’s N! He must have been telling the truth; he’s trying to summon Zekrom!” Bianca gasped at the news.

    “What?!” she shrieked. “We have to stop him!”

    “Come on!” Cheren shouted, taking off to the north. David and Bianca followed after him immediately.

    “Hey, wait a minute! Hold on!” Cedric shouted, trying to keep pace as he took off behind them. “Someone’s trying to summon Zekrom? Who’s N?” he asked. David turned over his shoulder and slowed a bit, but didn’t stop moving.

    “We’ll explain on the way, Professor. We have to go, now!” he answered. Cedric swallowed nervously and nodded, catching up to David and keeping pace. Brycen followed after them too, understanding the gravity of the situation and intent on trying to stop the Shadow Triad for whatever involvement they might have in all this.

    As the five trainers sprinted out of the city towards the timeworn structure, another bolt of lightning struck the top of the tower and once again illuminated the sky. N and Team Plasma were ascending through the tower’s winding passages, nearing the summit where they would awaken Zekrom. It had been many years in preparation, but Ghetsis’ plan was finally coming to fruition. Zekrom was already beginning to stir from his ancient slumber, as the electrifying thunderstorm was proof of. David didn’t know how he was supposed to react or what he needed to do; all he knew was that it was a mistake to have not believed N, and that he needed to keep running. The city to his back and the northern moors to his front, he put Munchlax’s evolution and his seventh Gym victory out of his mind momentarily and thought only of stopping N. Time was growing short, and there was much to be done…

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