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Thread: Chronicles of Unova (PG-15)

  1. #251
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    Hey David!

    WHEW! Finally have some time to actually sit down and write a review. Good thing iMovie's taking a while; gives me the time (iMovie? *wink wink*). I'm not sure right now (writing this particular part of the post), but I hope it's a post that you'll either learn from or appreciate. I prefer appreciate, but learning's cool too?

    Anyways, ON TO THE REVIEW!

    1. (I'm going to start with Chapter 23). VERY clever idea. For starters, I could not get the rhythm of the original story out of my head for hours. I was sitting there thinking to myself with that rhythm in my head. Definitely a cool thing to do for a Christmas themed story.

    2. Despite how clever it was, some parts didn't seem to fit, or seem to really flow. But I also understand how difficult it is to keep everything as close to the right amount of syllables and still make sense, so I don't blame you. Just thought you'd like to know.

    3. It was a little difficult for me because I wanted everything to follow the actual rhythm of the original story, and sometimes (how I read it) it didn't fit. But even with that, it was a very nice, entertaining read. It was nice how you kept it in canon too, instead of just throwing it in there randomly and calling it a Christmas thing. If anything, I found quite a bit of the poem/song/verse/whatever quite witty. And the ending; O_O. It's ok, we're adults here (well. Speaking at least for you and I, assuming you're 18. I'm 19). I always find that part of normal life a bit awkward in Pokemon, although it's not bad at all to include it. Your inclusion of it was at least very vague, and swept under the rug. Not the important part of the story, but something nice for the David/Bianca fans out there. (:

    4. Overall, the Bianca's Bianco Natale was a very interesting read. Humorous breaks in the fourth wall, some nice interaction with all the Pokemon along with the actual trainers, some David/Bianca fluff. Oh, and of course, it was Christmas themed! Very cool of you not to exclude that. Christmas specials are always awesome.

    Ok, so now we move on to Chapter 22. I've read a few B/W Remake stories, and by far, this is one of the best I've read of this specific part. Only rival is CoffeeIncluded's Alphabet Soup on ff.net, but I still loved this one.

    1. This chapter was definitely one of your best chapters. Maybe not my favorite, but it was one of your best.

    2. Your lead on was great! You led everyone on, thinking that they were going to just breeze right through like you did in the game. Nuh uh. You let us believe that with the first fight; then you threw everyone into the hell-hole. Not at all expected, and definitely a very nice touch.

    3. In regards to those fights, your description throughout was wonderful! I really loved the fights, and your description of them was really nice. I again most add that I love your inclusion of the in-game mechanics while writing these things. It happens in the games for a reason! One nitpick; Iron Defense raises Defense. Why would Focus Blast (or was it Psychic?) barely hurt Boldore just because of Iron Defense? Boldore do not have the best Sp. Defense either. It kind of threw me off when Iron Defense saved it so greatly that Sturdy was still able to take affect. Maybe Protect would have been better? I dunno, in-story universe is also something that you've done very nicely with, so I wouldn't be shocked if you had some in-story explanation. Either way, it was an awesome fight.

    4. You just rock these evolutions, don't you? Umbreon's evolution was awesome. But Fraxure's evolution was. So fitting. So beautifully written. And it fit so well! Axew's inability to frickin just nick Gurdurr causing it to keep Dragon Dancing just to boost its power. But to no avail; the steel pillar keeps it out of reach. But you use those Dragon Dances to evolve Axew? And turn it into this killing machine? MAN! I just. I really liked how it all went down! Then he frickin turns around and murders everything. Just. Wow! I was mind-blown while reading that part. It was really, really, really beautifully written. I'm not sure if that was grammatically correct, but the point gets across, no? Umbreon's evolution ties with this one for best evolution so far. (:

    5. Now, let's talk about a killer-god coming to life, right before your eyes, by the guy who's saying you gotta beat him and before mentioned killer-god to save the world. Actually, let's not. You already did, and David's reaction, Bianca's reaction, Alder and everyone barring Cheren's reactions were spot on. I would not be excited to be alive at that point in time, nor would I be excited to be any of them. And then, as if to prove your point that Cheren very easily could have, should have, would have been perfectly capable of being the Hero of Truth. But, as if to show some character building, you get him to encourage David. I really liked that little touch in the story.

    6. Besides the evolution, one thing that really impressed me in this chapter was N & Ghetsis. I love that you tried to include a father-son, king-sage relationship between the two. N genuinely showed his care for Ghetsis, and how he actually valued his father. Ghetsis seems to have some kind of attachment to N, although nowhere near as much as he is attached to the fact that he is this close to ruling the world, but it's still there nonetheless. And then the thing between Ghetsis and the grunts; adding that in there was smart. They are N's men; why would they listen to Ghetsis. Reading this part got me thinking about just how intimidating Ghetsis would be in real life. He got them to listen to them by glaring. Whoa, everyone back off! We got a bad-*** over here!

    7. I think one of your oversights was that you had very little interaction between N and Zekrom at his reawakening. Wait. I'm this almighty, powerful, killer-god, and this little boy comes out and calls me a monster? Why don't I show him what a monster is? Or maybe show the connection between N and Zekrom? There had to have been something personal between the two.
    Granted, it's a very rushed seen, everything's blowing up out of control, and it's kind of hard to do that. And it would seem a bit out of place I guess, considering the gravity of the situation. But it's something to nitpick on?

    Anyways, very good two chapters that I missed reviewing. They were good reads. I read Chapter 23 to Ren. She liked it. (:

    Ok, so I'm going to go work on those character submissions. I might send in. Like. 50. But I know for sure I'm sending in two. And I have to read the new chapters, although they might not be a huge priority. Although I'm definitely reading them. (:

    Good luck with everything! I really like what you're doing with fan fiction. All these little things that you're doing for and with the readers. Very cool. (: And thanks for the StriatonRadio shout out! And I looked at the titles. 8)

    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?!

  2. #252
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        Spoiler:- Author's Notes:


    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 24: The Bel of the Ball
    Part 1 of 2

    It was the morning of New Year’s Eve. David, Bianca and Cheren were just venturing onto Tubeline Bridge, leaving snowy Icirrus City and Route 8 behind. When their journey had begun in Nuvema Town, the adventurers had headed north along the eastern peninsula of Unova until they had reached Nacrene City. Skyarrow Bridge had connected them from Eastern Unova to Central Unova, and the Driftveil Drawbridge had connected them from Central Unova to Western Unova. Having explored virtually all of Western Unova, their winding journey around the region had now led them to Tubeline Bridge, which would connect them from the northern portion of Western Unova back into Central Unova. It was here in the northern half of Central Unova that Shopping Mall Nine and Opelucid City lay, and it was at Shopping Mall Nine that Alder had said for them to meet when they were at Dragonspiral Tower. They had called him earlier that day and said that they were ready, so they had to get a move on to keep their appointment.

    Tubeline Bridge was something of an engineering marvel in the industrialized Pokémon world. The span was similar to Skyarrow Bridge in the south in that it featured an upper portion for pedestrian traffic and a lower portion for motorized traffic, but while Skyarrow’s version of “motorized traffic” meant cars, Tubeline’s version mean subway trains. Trains of all sorts from Gear Station in Nimbasa City ran across Tubeline Bridge, giving the large span a constant rhythmic clacking sound as they passed by. When two trains passed each other on the bridge, the whole thing would sway just slightly. The bridge was constructed of bare steel girders with no façade to cover them; it gave the bridge a very industrial look, further exemplified by the pedestrian walkway itself. The pedestrian portion of the bridge was constructed of nothing more than a long metal grate; this allowed travelers to look down and safely watch the trains as they passed below.

    There was a gatehouse on the Route 8 side and a sister gatehouse on the Route 9 side. Both gatehouses featured identical museums documenting the bridge’s construction process. As the group set out from the gatehouse onto the bridge and continued their march towards Shopping Mall Nine, throngs of people joined them in their stride. Trains passed below and gave the spotty crowds a rhythm to walk to; there was a kind of hypnotic allure to their drone. David and company began blindly heading across, but many miles away, unbeknownst to the adventurers, vengeful eyes were watching from afar…

    We are prepared, master. We await your signal.” a man said. The robed figure he had spoken to nodded his head and waved them off. The man who had spoken and his two companions bowed and then disappeared into the shadows. Back at Tubeline Bridge, David and his friends had just reached approximately the halfway mark of the span.

    While there was still definitely elbow room, the bridge had a fairly sizable number of people trying to cross it along with the trio of adventurers; surely enough to take notice if something fundamentally out-of-the-ordinary were to occur. Despite this fact however, no one but the wandering Pokémon trainers seemed to notice when three shadowy figures materialized and surrounded them. The men had appeared suddenly, seemingly from within the steel itself; David, Bianca and Cheren gasped as they rose from their black portals and hovered like phantoms before them, forming a triangle around the group. Their menacing silhouettes gave the air an unnerving chill, and before they could defend themselves, the Shadow Triad grasped the trainers firmly and spoke but a whisper.

    …Come.” they murmured in unison. David blacked out as he teleported into darkness.

    * * *

    …Ghetsis. We brought the ones you wanted.” a member of the Shadow Triad said; his words stirred David back into consciousness.

    “Good. You are dismissed.” Ghetsis answered back. The Shadow Triad members bowed and once again vanished into the shadows. Bianca and Cheren were coming to now also; David began to take in his surroundings. Though he had only been out for a moment, wherever he was, “time” seemed to hold no relevance to this place.

    Wherever they were hardly seemed to be any place on Earth; the small, dungeon-like room smelled of brimstone and was illumined only by two torches which hung on the side walls. Dark, menacing, almost sentient-seeming shadows filled the room and gave the atmosphere a dizzying, other-worldly feel. Opposite them sat Ghetsis on a modest throne; he was dressed in his usual ornate garb and wore a condescending smile on his face. Remembering the events of Castelia City, among other things, David’s blood boiled at the sight of the smug Plasma Sage.

    “You.” David spat. “Of course.” he appended. “What the Hell do you want this time?” he asked as coldly and intimidatingly as he could muster. Ghetsis did not break his smile and showed no emotion at David’s comment; he merely shifted in his seat and drew a breath with which to respond.

    “I have summoned you to give you a warning, ‘Hero.’” he sneered back. “Both for your own safety and for the safety of my plans.” he appended.

    Ghetsis rose from his seat and began pacing about the room. He exuded the same sense of command that he always did, but there seemed to be something… off about it. David couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but it seemed almost as if it were a façade and not as genuine as it had always appeared.

    “Recently, N reawakened the legendary Pokémon Zekrom at Dragonspiral Tower. In doing so, he has fulfilled his destiny and has finally done what I spent over twenty years training him to do.” Ghetsis began. “Zekrom’s power could finally give us the authority to end humanity’s interaction and association with Pokémon wholesale. While N does seem committed to this ideal, he has certain fairytale notions that he believes must go along with it. Namely, he believes that the Hero of Truth spoken of in the prophecy must rise with Reshiram and oppose him in battle before he can see the enactment of our ideals. As you know, he believes this person to be you.” he explained.

    Ghetsis paused for a moment but did not stop pacing, giving himself a moment to collect his next queue of thoughts. He carried himself as if he were sipping at a rare and valuable wine as he spoke; there was an air about him of forced aloofness, as if he were trying to repress anger while maintaining his aura of control. When he began again, he made ornate hand gestures as he spoke and seemed disheartened by the content of his own words.

    “I am not as enchanted by sparkly things as N is…” he continued, “…and I believe this to be an unnecessary risk he is taking. I tried to stop you as you came after us at Dragonspiral Tower, but our operatives failed. When N found out about my command which was contrary to his wishes, he was angered with me and I have subsequently lost some of his trust. For this action and for not realizing the danger you pose to Team Plasma, he is a fool.” Ghetsis spat outright. Bianca gasped at his sudden and somewhat startling condemnation.

    “Hey!” she shouted unexpectedly. “That’s not a nice thing to say about your own son!” she continued. Ghetsis turned and glared at her viciously for her interruption.

    “N is a bastard.” he growled angrily. “N is not my son.”

    Bianca wasn’t the only one who was startled this time. When N had told David that Ghetsis was his father during their meeting on the Nimbasa City Ferris wheel, David had assumed he meant his biological father; suddenly that assumption seemed hastily made.

    “Does… does N know he’s adopted?” David stammered. Ghetsis did not answer and simply sneered, calming himself somewhat.

    ‘Pokémon Liberation’ is a lie.” Ghetsis crooned slowly. He pronounced the words carefully and made them drip from his tongue. “It is nothing more than a hoax; a guise I created to pursue and fulfill my endgame. I don’t care any more about the suffering of a captured Pokémon than I do about the dirt beneath my feet. Team Plasma, our operatives, the Pokémon we free, the mindless public we manipulate, even ‘King N’ himself… they are nothing but stooges and pawns in my master game.” he continued. “The one thing about ‘Pokémon Liberation’ that is true is the fundamental strength that Pokémon have. The common Patrat is capable of summoning bolts of lightning, bundles of pure shadow energy and even changing the weather! Imagine the vast power a person would have if they were the only one in the world who could command such strength…” he explained. There was a leading tone to his voice; suddenly David had a moment of clarity.

    “Wait! You’re not trying to free Pokémon because you care about them!” David exclaimed. “You’re doing it so you are the only one who can use them!” he accused. Ghetsis laughed menacingly at David’s final, long awaited understanding.

    “Haha, yes! Now you see! All trainers will become helpless to resist us! We alone will be able to use Pokémon!” Ghetsis cried. “When my perfect plan is set in motion, first a few gullible Pokémon trainers who are unable to resist Team Plasma will release their Pokémon. Then that number will become a hundred, then a thousand! In no time, even the Gym Leaders and Champions will become unable to fight us. Having a Pokémon will be considered a bad thing; a cultural taboo of sorts. Soon, none shall be able to fight public opinion and all shall release their Pokémon. With no one who can oppose us and the might of Zekrom on our side, we shall rule the world!” he shouted. Ghetsis began to laugh maniacally at the brilliance of his plan; David and his friends were appalled as all suddenly became clear.

    “You’ll never get away with it!” David shouted back. “N is the Hero, not you. He’ll find out about your deception and he’ll fight back!” he continued. Ghetsis’ laughter subsided naturally and he continued to stare at David with evil glee.

    N will stop me? That candy ass?” Ghetsis chided. “I have brainwashed that boy for twenty years; do you honestly believe that just telling him the truth about Team Plasma will sway his mind? Why should he even believe you?” he asked. David took a step back and cocked an eyebrow in surprise.

    “Why should I believe you?” he parroted back. David had a point; why was Ghetsis revealing his plan to them?

    “Ahh, yes, but of course…” Ghetsis murmured, calming back down after the high of explaining his master logic. “Why would I explain my plans to you? What do I stand to gain from enlightening my enemy?” he asked rhetorically. He began to pace again, putting his hand to his chin.

    “I am a reasoning man. Every action I have taken since crafting my master plan has been taken deliberately and with its logical ends considered to their fullest.” he explained. “N wishes you to combat him with Reshiram. Despite my best efforts to keep him from you, I cannot overpower his will now that he has Zekrom, nor explain the dangers you pose to our ideals if you succeed.” he continued. “As such, failing to keep N from you, I have decided to keep you from him.

    Ghetsis returned to his throne and sat, facing the spellbound adventurers as they listened to him pontificate. He rested his head lazily upon his arm and waved his free hand in the air beside himself as he spoke.

    “N is an idealist and seeks only sport and competition from you. I am a tactician, out to rule the world, and I would not hesitate to use Zekrom’s power to drop you where you stand.” Ghetsis contrasted, beginning to draw near to the end of his speech. “N is developmentally but a child; he has been merely playing games with you, and you are in no true danger from him. If we succeed however, I am the one you ought be afraid of.” he continued. “I am giving you the choice now, ‘Hero.’ Abandon your search for Reshiram, do not stand to oppose us further, and you shall be spared under the New World Order. I warn you now however; continue to oppose us, and your death shall not be quick. I have told you the truth about Team Plasma not to arm you, but as a warning. Do not test me, or you shall feel harsher consequences than you ever dreamed.”

    Before any of them could respond, the Shadow Triad appeared again suddenly and took a firm grasp of each of them. David blacked out again momentarily and saw Ghetsis fade from his vision. As David’s sight left him, he saw Ghetsis sneer a final time and wave a condescending, sarcastic farewell. When David came to again, he was standing just where he had been before on Tubeline Bridge, and the Shadow Triad was nowhere to be found.

    David grasped his temple as a wave of lightheadedness washed over him. He looked at his friends and saw them in similar distress. Strangely however, none of the people around them seemed to have noticed their sudden disappearance or reappearance. They seemingly hadn’t seen the Shadow Triad, nor the three of them vanishing and rematerializing a moment later. It was almost as if they had simply been frozen in time for a moment; had they really even gone anywhere in space at all?

    “That… that just happened… right?” David stammered. Cheren and Bianca both nodded in agreement, but they wore ghastly, gaunt looks as the gravity and severity of what they had just learned sunk in.

    Shaken by their affairs, the trio nervously continued across the remainder of Tubeline Bridge; the knowledge that had just been afforded to them weighed heavily upon their minds however. Team Plasma could no longer justify their actions under the guise of Pokémon Liberation, but only Ghetsis knew the truth. N was being played, and he was clueless to his stepfather’s deception. Team Plasma was even more dangerous than anyone had previously thought, even if, for the majority of them, only accidentally so. The one holding the proverbial gun however was blind to his puppet master stepfather controlling his mind.

    * * *

    Route 9 was technically a proper route unto itself, but for all practical purposes it was just a scenic expansion of Opelucid City to its east. As Tubeline Bridge ended and stretched its reach onto the rocky shores of Central Unova, civilization wasted no time promptly meeting travelers with open arms. There were forests and caves a short distance to the south of the bridge’s exit, but Shopping Mall Nine was the dominant landmark the route displayed.

    Built along the northern side of the path, the mall was the largest shopping center in the entire Unova region. It was modeled after the department stores of Celadon City in Kanto, Goldenrod City in Johto, Lilycove City in Hoenn and Veilstone City in Sinnoh. Everything a Pokémon trainer could need and more could be found with easy access at the gargantuan store. The route was more or less just a large conduit out of the city towards the mall; as such, it was here that Alder had said for them to meet him.

    For as famous of a celebrity as Champions typically were, Alder managed to maintain a fairly low profile as he traveled around the Unova region. Seated just outside of the mall, simplistically enjoying the cool refreshment of a winter breeze, Alder awaited them as they made their approach.

    “Hallo-ah, kids!” came his catchphrase greeting as the travelers approached. Despite the gravity of N’s recent feat at Dragonspiral Tower, he seemed rather at ease with life, all things considered; his never-abating grin lined his lips as they came within earshot of him.

    “Hi, Alder.” David answered, still somewhat shaken by their recent meeting with Ghetsis. The group had agreed on their way to the mall that they wouldn’t mention what they had learned from Ghetsis to Alder; while he meant well, they worried that the Champion may get sidetracked trying to inform the public of Ghetsis’ deception and forget about introducing them to Drayden. Knowledge of how to reawaken Reshiram was the most important thing for them to attain for the time being, so that had to remain at the forefront of their minds; Alder seemed perhaps too easily distractible.

    “Did you three have a pleasant holiday?” Alder asked politely. The group nodded a warm affirmative, David and Bianca shooting one another very subtle looks at the question. Alder laughed his magnanimous laugh before motioning for them to sit down with him. He sighed and smiled at them reassuringly before continuing to speak.

    “Well, enough pleasantries I suppose; I guess we all know why we’re here…” he began. “As I explained at the tower, Drayden is one of the world’s leading experts on- and trainers of- Dragon-type Pokémon. He knows as much about the wars between Reshiram and Zekrom as you’ll ever find in a person. If anyone can tell you how to summon Reshiram, it would be Drayden.” Alder explained. “He is also the Opelucid City Gym Leader, so since that N guy wants your battle to be at the League Championships, you all need to see him anyway to earn his badge.” he appended.

    “When will we meet him?” David asked. It was a logical question; Alder smiled again, but it was a bit more of a mischievous, guilty smile than one of the reassuring ones they knew him for. He scratched the back of his head and chuckled nervously before answering.

    “Ahh… well… see, here’s the thing about that…” Alder stammered. “See, Drayden is the mayor of Opelucid City. Naturally he has a lot of obligations and meetings on a daily basis. It’s a little difficult to schedule something with him if you don’t have significant clout.” he explained. Cheren cocked his eyebrow at Alder’s weaseling explanation.

    “You’re the Champion of the region; how much more clout can you get?” he asked. Alder chuckled and continued to scratch the back of his head.

    “Well… more political clout, Cheren. Don’t worry though, I have a plan.” he answered.

    “As I’m sure you all know, tonight is New Year’s Eve.” Alder continued to explain. “Drayden is a very old fashion kind of guy. As the mayor of one of the most modernized cities in the region, he believes it is his cultural duty to stimulate the public’s collective mind and hold balls for times like these. He wants to make sure we don’t lose the sophistication and elegance we used to have, so when I say he throws balls, I mean he literally throws the town a proper ball. Banquettes, ballroom dancing, high society schmoozing, masquerade masks, the whole nine yards; New Year’s Eve is the night of his biggest party of the year.” he continued. Though it was subtle, David felt one of the Pokéballs on his hip wiggle at the news.

    “Paula? Was that you?” David asked mentally as so to not interrupt Alder; no answer returned from the ether however.

    “Drayden will be more easily approachable at tonight’s gala than perhaps any other time of the year. I would suggest you three try to attend the ball and see if you can steal him away for a moment; if you explain to him what it is you want, I’m sure the prospect of teaching someone about the Legendary Dragons will peak his interest.” Alder concluded. Though the plan seemed like a reasonable enough solution, David was skeptical of his own abilities. He sighed and sat forward in his seat.

    “Alder, um… how old is this guy?” he asked.

    “Oh, middle aged or so. Why?” Alder answered curiously. David sighed again, having heard the answer he feared he would.

    “We’re 18-year-old kids, man. You’re asking us to go to a high society ball and schmooze with career politicians and stuff? He’s the mayor of the city for Arceus’ sake. We don’t know anything about how to handle a setting like that.” he continued; his Pokéball holster yet again shook very slightly however.

    Alder smiled and chuckled at David’s answer. Seeing the subtle motion coming from the young trainer’s hip, he pointed at it and spoke back.

    “You don’t, but I think I know someone who does…” he said wryly. A vacant look spread across David’s face, trying to sort out what Alder could have possibly meant.

    “You know someone who-” he started to say, but before he could finish his question, one of his Pokéballs burst unlatched and fell from the holster. Paula sprang out and wore the biggest beaming grin on her face that David had ever seen.

    “Oh master, how wonderful!” Paula exclaimed without provocation. She enunciated the syllables in “wonderful” in a drawn out fashion. “A real, honest, high society masquerade ball? With dancing and music and culture?! Oh, this will be the best night of my life!” she continued. Alder’s previous statement suddenly clicked in David’s mind.

    “Ooooohhh…” he murmured softly, looking back at Alder. The Champion put his hand to his smirking lips as he watched Paula dance excitedly.

    The franticly joyous Gardevoir seemed lost in her own little world. The four of them watched her from behind veiled smiles as she danced, twirled and hummed to the inner music of her own fascination and excitement. While Paula enjoyed her thoughtful daydream, Alder chuckled and turned back to the group.

    “It’s a masquerade ball.” he explained. “There’s no better judge of how to behave at one than a Gardevoir.” he continued.

    The group had turned their attention away from Paula as she twirled and spun around the picnic tables laid out in front of the mall for just a second. Just as Alder finished his statement however, she made her presence abundantly known again by finishing her dance and dashing up towards Bianca. The Gardevoir startled her by grasping both of her hands excitedly in her own and beaming; she held her shining face just inches away from Bianca’s and spoke.

    “Come, Miss Bianca! We must find you a proper gown for this evening!” she exclaimed; Bianca started to protest, but with that, the girls vanished as they Teleported inside the mall. The three boys sat dumbstruck for a moment at the speed at which Paula had switched gears.

    “Bwahaha!” Alder finally spat after the initial shock passed. “What a card she is!” he appended. Cheren leaned back in his seat, folding his arms and cocking an eyebrow.

    “Wait, does Bianca even have any money?” he asked in disbelief. As if on cue, Paula reappeared for a moment just behind David.

    “Pardon me, master; need to borrow this!” she said quickly. She reached into David’s pocket and fished out his wallet before he could stop her or even figure out what she was doing. She Teleported away again, having found what she came for, and exclaimed, “Do not wait up for us, master. We will meet you three there tonight!” David’s expression turned to one of shock as he realized what she had done; Alder burst out laughing again.

    “Hey!” David shouted indignantly; she was already gone however.

    Alder rose from his seat, wiping his eyes as his second bout of laughter subsided. He stretched as he rose and began heading away from the mall with his usual carefree air.

    “The ball will be at City Hall. I’m sure you won’t be able to miss it.” he said over his shoulder as he left. “See you two tonight.” he appended. David and Cheren sighed and both sat back in their seats as he left, resting their backs against the round metal table. The two boys looked away and shook their heads tiredly.

    “Paula is going to go spend all of my money on a dress for Bianca, isn’t she?” David muttered. Cheren sighed and nodded in affirmation.

    “Yeah, probably…” he affirmed half disinterestedly. David parroted Cheren’s exasperated sigh and rolled his eyes.

    “Come on… let’s go see if this place rents tuxedos for cheap.” Cheren continued. David looked across the bay they had just crossed and rose to join his friend. It was the start to what was surely going to be a very long night…

    * * *

    [Continued Below]

  3. #253
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 24: The Bel of the Ball
    Part 2 of 2

    Evening fell and the sun set for the final time that year. It was around 5 o’clock when David and Cheren finally reached the city. They had found a pair of nice, albeit inexpensive, tuxedos to rent, but had managed to not run into the girls at all during their time in the mall. Upon reaching the city, they began their short lived search for City Hall.

    Opelucid City was a technological marvel. Every street and every building was made of a futuristic-looking alloy, basking the city streets in a dark, charcoal black and the buildings in a cool, cybernetic blue. When the sun set, no streetlights came on; instead, the whole city was illuminated by veritable rivers of LEDs that wound around nearly every surface in the town. They were built into the ground and into the exteriors of the buildings themselves, drawing little power and adding to the mystique of the city’s atmosphere. With black roads and dim, neon lights at every corner, the city seemed almost more like a club or a Hollywood rendition of a server room than a town; it was certainly one of the most visually appealing places they had been on their journey.

    As Alder had predicted, they had little trouble finding City Hall. A massive crowd had drawn outside the building, and more still were congregating inside. Soothing classical music drifted into the more nearby streets from the band inside, and there was an air of sophistication amongst all of the people outside. The men all wore tuxedos and the ladies beautiful evening gowns, ranging from the simple and elegant to the flashy and extravagant in design. David and Cheren worked their way past the crowd and eventually got inside.

    There was a threshold which, when passed, seemed to amplify the music. While the crowd outside mostly drowned it out as they enjoyed the winter air and schmoozed in the high life as they killed time before midnight, the people inside were more spread out and interested in dancing through the large ballroom set up in the massive lobby. The sprawling room at the center of the dome-shaped building was dimly lit by proper candle chandeliers. A tall stairwell opposite the door led into the ballroom; occasionally a richly dressed couple of modest local notoriety would approach one another at the top, be introduced to the gala and then descend together to the polite applause of the crowd awaiting them below. David and Cheren tried to blend in as they waited for the girls, but a fair amount of time passed with no sign from them.

    “Where the Hell are Bianca and Paula?” David asked impatiently after checking his Xtransceiver for the umpteenth time. It had been just under an hour since they had arrived by now, all of which had been spent awkwardly mulling about doing nothing. “I don’t even know what to do here…” he continued. “And didn’t Alder say he was going to be here too?” he appended anxiously. Cheren shrugged as he snatched yet another hors d'oeuvre from a passing waiter, adding to his already somewhat impressive collection for the evening.

    “Isn’t the more important question, ‘Where’s Drayden?’” Cheren asked, beginning to stuff his face again. “I mean, the guy’s the mayor, right? Shouldn’t he be at his own shindig?” he continued, the food in his mouth somewhat obfuscating his words. David stared blankly at Cheren as he wolfed down his nth crab cake for the night; Cheren stared back, not understanding David’s vacantly disapproving stare.

    “What?” he muttered just before swallowing the entire morsel. David sighed and turned away.

    “This is why we can’t have nice things…” he muttered. Cheren shrugged and began looking for another platter-toting waiter.

    “Hallo-ah!” Alder’s voice bellowed from across the room. Even with the drone of conversation from the crowd around them and the, albeit soothing, loud music from the band, the Champion’s deep voice carried and reached their ears crystal clearly, marking his position for them. He was dressed in a tuxedo just like all of the other men were, but his chiseled physique seemed to be taxing the poor buttons of his jacket. His flaming hair still stood out like a bursting sun as well; he looked a little out of place in such a high society gathering.

    “Hey Alder.” David said conversationally as the Champion approached. Reaching the same conclusion that David had just prior to his arrival, Alder spoke up in mild confusion.

    “Where are Bianca and Paula?” he asked. David and Cheren shrugged in unison however and had no answer.

    “We were just wondering that ourselves…” David muttered. Alder scanned the room for himself, able to see over most of the other patrons’ heads, but he didn’t see them at first.

    “I don’t see them anywhe-” he started to say, but he cut himself short as he finally noticed something. A smirk very quickly spread across his lips and he had to bite his lip to keep from laughing.

    “Don’t turn around.” he said quickly through his smile. David and Cheren both cocked an eyebrow at his remark.

    “What? Why?” David asked. On cue, he heard his Gardevoir’s voice speak inside his head.

    “Hello master, Mr. Cheren. Turn around, please; we have something to show you.” she cooed. There was a restrained, mischievous excitement in her voice; David smirked as he heard them walking up.

    “Hello, boys. Can you tell who’s who?” Bianca asked. The same mischievously restrained excitement broke at the edges of her tone as well, but it sounded a tad more seductive to David’s ears when it came from an actual fellow member of his species. David and Cheren turned around and saw the girls approaching them, but the two of them laughed when they saw what the pair had bought. Dressed in a flowing white gown and lime green gloves, Bianca smirked at them from behind a white masquerade mask designed like the face of a Gardevoir. They had even found a pair of red contacts to make her eyes look like a Gardevoir’s as well. Still smirking, David walked towards Bianca and took her hands in his own.

    “Well, you’re definitely Paula.” he answered jokingly. Bianca giggled back and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. The real Paula smirked as well and hung off of her trainer’s other arm opposite his date.

    “You look very lovely, Bianca.” Alder said politely, still smiling to himself at their gag. Bianca smiled again and nodded at him in appreciation.

    “Thank you, Alder.” she replied.

    The clocks in the hall and around the city began to ring as they struck six. “Gang’s all here…” Cheren murmured just as the sound started.

    “So where is Drayden? Has he not shown up yet?” Bianca asked. David and Cheren both shook their heads “no” however and frowned, looking around again to see if they could see him.

    “No, he’s not.” David answered. “We don’t know where he is. Cheren was just mentioning that before you guys showed up.” he continued. As he finished his statement however, the sixth chime of the massive clock at the head of the stairs sounded and the band grew quiet. Everyone seemed to know that something was about to happen except for the passing Pokémon trainers; the three of them looked around, trying to discern what exactly it was that was happening.

    “Why did it just get so quiet?” David asked. Alder held his finger to his lips however and shushed him; he pointed to the top of the stairs where a spotlight had just come on.

    Approaching from the shadows at either end of the balcony, a pair of figures walked slowly towards each other, meeting at the tip of the spotlight’s reach. The crier who had been announcing well-to-do couples for the past hour turned to address the crowd again, but for some reason, this couple seemed to have much more prestige associated with them, as evidenced by the spotlight and hush of the crowd. The man grew rigid as he stood at attention, drawing breath to address the audience.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, as the clock has now struck six, it is my honor and privilege to present our fair and noble mayor and his apprentice, Master Drayden and Miss Iris.” he bellowed. The pair of figures at the head of the stairs now entered the spotlight and were revealed to the crowd; the crowd in turn began to politely applaud for their hosts, but more warmly and fondly than they had for any of the other couples. Drayden and Iris stood proudly at the top of the stairs, inspecting their patrons momentarily before beginning to descend into the ball together. Iris was Drayden’s junior by many years, but he was unwed, so he escorted his apprentice as he would a daughter or a niece. They reached the crowd below and began to mingle and shake hands as the applause died down.

    “Okay, that answers one question I guess…” David murmured. “Now to get over there…” he continued. David, Bianca, Cheren and Paula began trying to politely push their way through the crowd towards the pair, but they were not the only ones seeking an audience with the mayor; not by a long-shot. Drayden and Iris were clear across the room and, not surprisingly, didn’t notice David and his friends amongst the sea of other people trying to do just the same thing. Making little headway, the pair began to move out of David’s line of sight as the band began to play again; Drayden had of course not seen them and they had made virtually no progress towards getting to them.

    “Well that was a great plan, Alder; any more bright ideas?” David asked scornfully as he was forced to give up. “We can’t even get over there to them. Why was this a better idea than actually scheduling a proper meeting with them again?” he continued. Alder laughed good-naturedly at David’s biting jab. He laid one of his mammoth hands on David’s shoulder before speaking back.

    “I didn’t say it would be easy, I only said it would be easier.” he answered. “We’ve just got to find some way of getting his attention.” he continued. “Think of something creative.” he appended; David slanted a frown at Alder’s supremely indecisive answer. He began trying to think.

    [Author’s Note: For an enhanced experience, listen to this on loop during the next few paragraphs.]

    While this conversation had been happening, the band had begun playing again following Drayden’s entrance. Not surprisingly, Paula had been keeping her usual modest, low-profile, but the music was already beginning to get to her and she was beginning to sway to herself as she listened. She had tuned out their conversation in large part, rocking back and forth in rhythm to the waltz and humming to herself with her eyes closed. Smiling, she decided to speak up.

    “Master, if I may, I believe I might have a solution.” she said surreally. There was a dream-like quality to her speech.

    “Really?” David asked in moderate surprise. He turned to her and cocked and eyebrow. “What is it?” he asked. Paula reopened her eyes and flashed her warm smile. Turning to Bianca, she spoke again.

    “Ms. Bianca, may I borrow your date for just a moment?” she asked politely. Sensing where Paula was going, Bianca giggled and nodded her head.

    “Of course.” she answered back. Paula thanked her and turned to David.

    “Master, may I have this dance?” she asked sweetly. David was startled by her request, not particularly knowing what to say.

    “What?” he stammered. “Paula, I don’t know how to dance, let alone do a waltz.” he continued. Paula giggled and took one of his hands in her own.

    “Do not worry, master; leave all that to me. Would you do me the honor?” she asked again. David was still apprehensive, but nodded in agreement.

    Paula led her trainer out towards the open dance floor of the ballroom and the pair melted in with the flowing crowd. The dance was still in its infancy and had yet to reach any kind of speed. Paula turned to face David and smiled, but David still didn’t know what to do.

    “So… um… now what?” he asked telepathically. Paula simply continued smiling.

    “Just relax, master. Slack all of your muscles and do not fight my control.” she answered. Her eyes then began to glow just faintly and David felt his arms move without trying to. He felt one hand loosely rest around his Gardevoir’s waist and the other lift her hand into the air; Paula laid her own free hand over his shoulder as she continued smiling. The rest of his body then began to move as he expertly began to dance.

    The sensation was a strange and disorienting one. Paula had telekinetically controlled his muscles before, but only for small things; never his whole body at once. As she had predicted, he had virtually no control over his own motor functions anymore; Paula was in control of everything as she danced simultaneously for the both of them. With her species’ intuitive mastery of the subject, she was able to control her partner’s movements and her own; the ensuing dance she generated was breathtaking to behold.

    David and Paula danced with the mastery of competition veterans. They were in fact so flawless that other dancers soon began to take notice as the pair flowed around them; just a few at first, but soon more began to notice as the piece drew on. The music was beginning to speed up now and become more full-bodied; Paula increased the polish on their flourishes in response. Their movements flowed like water and the space around them distorted very subtly from Paula’s radiating psychic aura. Their timing and synchronization were perfect, being controlled entirely by one mind, and their technique was superb. The beauty of their movements and the novelty of the Pokémon among the dancers was continuing to catch wandering eyes; the members of Drayden’s conversational party along the sidelines were also beginning to notice.

    The short piece drew to a close and Paula moved them into a suitable ending. The dancers bowed to one another, Paula and David doing the same, but the band themselves had now also taken notice of the strange sight. The other couples around David and Paula backed away and gave the young pair the whole stage. Suddenly, all eyes seemed to be upon them. Paula was unfazed however; after all, this was what they had hoped would happen. Drayden finally seemed to notice the oddity capturing the hall’s attention himself; Paula prepared for their second dance to truly prove themselves to him. The band followed her lead and again began to play.

    [Author’s Note: For an enhanced experience, listen to this on loop until the end of the dance.]

    The band began the second piece, this one much slower than the first. Paula laid her head on David’s shoulder, trying to make him seem like the one in control, hiding their secret of her telekinesis. The massive crowd around them watched intently, but they were completely silent; David and Paula hardly noticed them, focusing only on the moment. The piece was a beautiful one, played with a mastery faithfully becoming of the sight of the pair. Paula’s psychic powers and elegant form had enraptured the entire hall seemingly effortlessly; the short piece drew to a close after just moments and the couple bowed to one another again. The crowd remained silent as David and Paula departed the stage.

    “Have you ever had a bad idea, Paula?” David asked telepathically as they returned to their friends. Paula smiled as she returned his motor functionality back to him; she bumped him slightly with her hips however in response.

    “No…” she whispered back playfully; David smirked as they broke contact and returned to their little circle.

    “That was a mighty fine idea you had there, Paula.” Alder commented upon their return. “Don’t look now, but Drayden is coming over; I’d say mission accomplished.” he continued in a hushed tone. David smiled at their success, but tried modestly to restrain it in an attempt to maintain the composure their dance had made it seem like he commanded.

    “I see the Champion has decided to grace us with his presence here tonight. How do you do, Alder?” Drayden asked as he approached. Alder smiled and met Drayden’s outstretched hand with his own.

    “Grand, Drayden, just grand; always a good time at your parties.” Alder replied with his magnanimous grin. “I’d like you to meet a few young friends of mine. This is David, Bianca and Cheren.” he continued. Drayden looked down his nose from his imposing height at the trainers as Alder introduced them.

    “It’s a pleasure.” he said, folding his arms and straightening his back. “That was an impressive little show just now, young man. Well done indeed…” he continued.

    “Thank you, sir. It was my Gardevoir’s idea.” David said back.

    Drayden was extremely tall, even compared to David, and wore high-quality clothing designed to look like working class attire. Almost everything he wore was a shade of white or gray, save for his gloves, suspenders and shoes, which were a deep, royal purple, and his bolo tie, which was an emerald green. This regal appearance was continued into his face; his bleached white hair was styled carefully and conservatively, but a sprawling, snow white beard covered the entirety of his face from the nose down, obscuring his mouth even when he spoke. He had just as defined of a physique as Alder did, which his working-style clothing showed off; were it not for the fact that he was hosting it, he may have almost appeared underdressed for the occasion. Drayden nodded his head at David’s remark and unfolded his arms again. Iris had been standing just behind him during the brief exchange; he laid a hand on her shoulder and motioned for her to step forward.

    “This is my apprentice, Iris. She must be around your age, correct?” he asked. David smiled and nodded, but he and Iris spoke up to correct him almost simultaneously.

    “We’ve actually met before, sir.” David said.

    “I met them when I went to Castelia to see Burgh last fall, Drayden. Long time no see, guys!” Iris continued for him excitedly. She and David locked gazes for a minute in acknowledgement.

    “Oh! Really? So these are the kids you told me you met; small world…” Drayden said upon the realization. “Bianca, was it? Your Zubat has been managing to avoid further poachers I trust.” he continued. Bianca giggled and nodded in affirmation.

    “Well, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of people you need to see, Drayden, so we shouldn’t keep you too long, but David had something he wanted to ask you.” Alder said as the conversation began to wane. Drayden cocked a bushy white eyebrow at the Champion’s statement; it seemed to catch his interest.

    “Oh? Tell me, young man.” he said, once again folding his arms. David nodded at Alder to thank him for the reminder and began to speak.

    “Oh, right. Well, that’s actually why we’re here, sir. I was wondering if you could give us some information on the Legendary Dragons, Zekrom and Reshiram.” he said. Drayden’s quizzical expression turned to one of outright surprise; a gleam of genuine interest showed in his eyes as well however.

    “Zekrom and Reshiram? Really? My my, what does someone your age want to know about them?” he asked. David smiled and began to explain in earnest.

    “Well, it’s funny you should mention those men who stole Bianca’s Zubat when Iris was in Castelia with us, because they belonged to an organization called Team Plasma. They stole him from her because Team Plasma wants to ‘liberate’ the world’s Pokémon from humanity.” he began. “Normally it would just be a job for the police, right?” he asked rhetorically. “Well, I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but Alder can back me up on this; they’ve reawakened Zekrom and want to use him to achieve their goal.” he continued. Iris gasped subtly at the news and Drayden’s stern gaze turned to a true scowl.

    “Alder, is this true?” he asked instantly, turning his gaze from David to the Champion. Alder returned a similar, albeit more saddened look, and nodded in the affirmative.

    “Aye, Drayden, I’m afraid it is.” he answered. “There’s actually more than that. They’ve determined David is the Hero of Truth; he has to find a way to resurrect Reshiram to combat them with. We were hoping you could tell us what you know about them.” he continued.

    Drayden became sullen and stoic for a moment, looking down and lost in thought. He looked back up after a moment and surveyed the party around him, still wearing his stern scowl, but he sighed after seeing what he needed to see. He turned back to David and Alder after just a moment and spoke.

    “If what you say is true, then it is indeed grave news…” he began solemnly. “I want to help and I will give any relevant knowledge that I have to you, but I have very little time in the coming weeks in which I could meet.” he explained. “Give me until 11:30 to tie up loose ends and make appearances here at the ball, and then meet me in my office and I will answer anything you like.” he continued. David smiled and nodded his head.

    “Okay, great! Thank you.” he said excitedly. Drayden mimicked his gestures and folded his arms again, arching his back as he went.

    “Excellent. Enjoy yourselves and we shall meet again at 11:30.” he said. He excused himself and began shuffling back into the crowd.

    “His office is up on the second floor. You can’t miss it.” Iris said for him as she began to follow suit. David laughed as he realized Drayden had gotten away without actually telling them where to go; he thanked her as she waved and vanished after her mentor.

    David gave a sigh of relief as he turned back to his friends. Team Plasma was still a major threat, but securing the meeting with Drayden was a relief; his knowledge would surely be an invaluable asset. There was nothing to be done about Team Plasma for the time being now however; the night was still young and there was still a solid amount of time before 11:30. For now, they would just enjoy the ball.

    * * *

    11 o’clock came and went and the party began to wane before the final push that would be midnight. The group of trainers began to make their way past the crowds to the second floor to find Drayden and Iris. The throngs of people thinned the farther away from the main hall they got; the back portions of the stately government building were quiet and dark at this time of night, the music of the band and the drone of the crowd only just barely audible. Iris had not been true to her word however; setting out to find his office a full half-hour early proved to have been a necessary precaution. Finally just about 11:30 they found the tucked away little office and gave a sigh of relief as they saw Drayden and Iris waiting for them.

    “Ahh, good, you found us.” Drayden said, folding his arms and nodding as they approached. “Come inside.” he appended as he opened the door to the office and motioned for them to follow him in.

    “Have trouble finding it?” Iris asked. David chuckled and didn’t answer.

    Drayden’s office was sparsely furnished and not terribly big. Though David and his friends were unaware of this title, oblivious to the local political goings-on of a town clear across the region from where they had grown up, to the people of Opelucid, Drayden was known as “The Spartan Mayor,” and it reflected in his office décor. Leaving the duty of seating his guests to his apprentice, Drayden walked with long strides to a cabinet behind his sturdy desk; he opened it, pulled out a crystal bottle and began to speak.

    “Iris, child, remind me, how old are you?” he asked. Iris turned the gaze of her massive brown eyes away from seating Cheren and towards her elder.

    “I’m 18, Drayden.” she said with a smile. Drayden coughed a grunt of acknowledgment and sighed.

    “Ahh, yes, quite right… too young then, so they must be too young too…” he murmured to himself, speaking of David, Bianca and Cheren. “Alder, would you care to join me for a glass of whiskey?” he asked in a louder voice. Alder smiled and nodded silently in affirmation. Drayden poured himself and his elder guest their drinks and then sat them gently on the desk appropriately. He sat across from his guests at his desk and once again folded his arms, looking very commanding and powerful from behind the sturdy barrier. He looked down his nose at them and began to speak.

    “Alright then, now that we can speak more freely, someone tell me what exactly is going on. What’s all this about you being chosen as the Hero of Truth from the prophecy, boy?” he asked David. David nodded and collected his thoughts to answer the question thoroughly.

    “Team Plasma is an organized group with the goal of ‘liberating’ Pokémon from humans. They claim we are oppressive towards them and that Pokémon should either be allowed to live freely or be the dominant species on the planet.” he explained. “They use outright thievery and aggression to liberate Pokémon, but they publicly deny it. Many people, much like yourself, know nothing about them yet.” he continued. Drayden raised a finger to indicate for him to pause momentarily.

    “The cooperation of people and Pokémon is how Unova came to exist to begin with.” Drayden said quizzically. “If a Pokémon really didn’t want anything to do with humans, it would simply leave. Capturing a Pokémon in a Pokéball doesn't mean you’ve captured its heart.” he continued. David chuckled and pointed dramatically to his host with both hands outstretched.

    “Thank you! Glad you’re on the same page about all this!” he said, laughing. Drayden cocked an eyebrow quizzically, sighed, and then leaned forward on his hands against the desk. He muttered something about “quite…” and motioned for David to continue.

    “You’re right, they’re a small-time organization with a fundamentally flawed premise, or at least they were, but something has happened recently which made them a much more grave threat.” David continued from his explanation before. “The ‘King’ of Team Plasma, a man named N, was raised to lead the organization from a young age and was trained to become the Hero of Ideals from the prophecy. We don’t know a whole lot about that yet to be honest, but we made the mistake of brushing him off as crazy for a long time.” David said.

    “As you were right to do…” Drayden interrupted in a murmur.

    “Just before Christmas, N and some operatives from the organization broke into Dragonspiral Tower across the bay and somehow managed to reawaken Zekrom. I saw him with my own eyes; I… well, I don’t know how he did it, but N was really telling the truth…” David trailed off, feeling a slight sense of shame at the memory. “Long story short, my friends and I managed to catch N’s interest before all this started and he decided in whatever deranged state his mind exists in that I’m the Hero of Truth, analog to him being Hero of Ideals. He believes we are supposed to fulfill the prophecy together, presumably to battle for the fate of Pokémon and humanity’s continued involvement together, at the Pokémon League Championships.” he continued. Drayden once again sighed and leaned back in his chair.

    “Alder, is all this really true?” he asked tiredly. Alder was silent and simply wore a grim stare. He nodded but once and then closed his eyes. Drayden sighed again and rose from his seat.

    “So tell me then, young man, what is it you need from me?” he asked. “How much about Zekrom and Reshiram do you already know?” David nodded again and collected his thoughts.

    “N actually told me a good deal about them already once. He, erm… got the jump on me and incapacitated me. He explained about the wars between Zekrom and Reshiram in the past because he wanted to face an ‘informed opponent.’” David explained. “What I really need to know most is how I would actually summon Reshiram, going off the premise that I really am the Hero of Truth.” he then appended. “I saw Zekrom with my own two eyes, but he was simply there when we finally reached the top; I have utterly no idea how N summoned him. If I really do have to reawaken Reshiram like N says and battle him against Zekrom at the League Championships, then I need to know how. I guess that’s what we were hoping you could tell us.” he finished. Drayden had walked to a bookcase on the far side of the room and was mindlessly skimming the titles that were at eye-level. He took a sip of his whiskey and pulled one out, thumbing through it for a moment before simply closing it again and returning it.

    “I’m afraid that’s not a simple question…” he began, continuing to stare at the bookshelf as so to not have to catch David’s gaze. “It is a two-part process, but unfortunately, I do not know the specifics of how the second part works.” he continued. “After the second war between the Dragons at the end of the Secunda Pax Unova, Zekrom and Reshiram were sealed away inside Relic Castle in what is now the Desert Resort. This was done because their legendary power could not be contained, nor could it be trusted to any human vigil besides the ancient fraternal kings. Even Relic Castle was not enough to contain them though; as a secondary failsafe, they were first turned to stone by the ancient holy men of the region. The unyieldingly powerful body of Zekrom became nothing more than a small black rock known as the Dark Stone, and the graceful, flowing elegance of Reshiram was turned to a similar white rock known as the Light Stone. In this stone form, they were sealed away inside Relic Castle; to reawaken Reshiram, presumably one would first have to find the Light Stone, as that literally is her remains.” he explained. David frowned and looked away at such impossible sounding news, but Cheren sat forward in his seat.

    “Mr. Drayden, has the excavation crew at Relic Castle actually uncovered the Light Stone yet?” he asked, speaking up before David or Drayden could continue. Drayden was surprised at the relatively foreign voice inquiring towards him; he turned away from the bookshelf and looked at Cheren before answering.

    “Ahh… no, not to my knowledge they haven't…” he answered, slightly confused. Cheren’s eyes began to gleam subtly at the news.

    “Sir, do you think you would recognize it if you saw it?” he asked again. Drayden scratched his massive beard as he pondered the question, but responded a moment later in affirmation.

    “Well, yes, I think I probably could…” he murmured. “What’s this all about, young man? The Light and Dark Stones were lost to the eons of time. Frankly, the fact that this N fellow managed to find the Dark Stone somewhat boggles the mind.” he continued. Cheren grinned and reached for David’s backpack swiftly.

    “Hey! Cheren, what are you doing?” David asked, surprised at Cheren’s invasive gesture. Cheren did not answer; he simply grinned to himself as he rooted around in David’s bag. Finding what he was looking for, he pulled out an object and held it up.

    “Is this it?” he asked excitedly. Drayden squinted to examine the small object Cheren held on display, but felt his face immediately grow numb after just a moment’s examination.

    “Great Scott… it is…” he answered in but a whisper. “Where… where did you find that?” he stammered. Cheren handed the Light Stone to David and continued to grin to himself.

    “When we were traveling through Route 4 last autumn, we took a detour in Relic Castle and got trapped by a cave-in. That’s a whole other story entirely, but we found that thing in the deepest part of the catacombs and used it in a round-about way to escape. We never knew the significance until now, but David, we did notice Gus seemed to be guarding it at the time; now we know why!” he explained. David was almost as shocked as Drayden was; he had completely forgotten he even had that thing. He stared off into space as a flood of memories from their night in the castle came back to his mind.

    “Cheren…” David stammered. “You’re a bloody genius! How did you even remember that?!” he shouted, turning to his friend and grasping his shoulders enthusiastically. Cheren grinned smugly and sat back in the seat coolly. Drayden shook off the shock of the previous exchange and stood back up straight.

    “Well… hmm…” he muttered, taking a sip of his drink to calm himself. “I guess that actually solves the first part…” he continued. “Unfortunately, as I said before, that’s only one half of the process.” David’s elation at Cheren’s discovery faded quickly as Drayden drew him back down to Earth. He sat up straight in his chair again and paid attention.

    “You are now as well equipped to summon your respective Dragon as that N person was going into Dragonspiral Tower as you claim. However, what you lack that he did not is knowledge of how to actually turn Reshiram back into flesh from the stone. I am afraid that no one knows how to do that; not even a scholar such as myself.” Drayden explained solemnly. The group collectively oh’d at Drayden’s unfortunate news; they were virtually as in the dark as when they had started.

    “I guess that answers that then…” David murmured. Drayden sighed and laid a hand on his shoulder.

    “I am sorry, my friend. I wish I could be of more help.” he said. David smiled though and shook his head.

    “No no, don’t say that, you’ve been a huge help. Now I know that I’ve got Reshiram sitting right here in my hand; I just have to figure out how to reawaken her.” David said, rising from his seat. “If I really am the Hero of Truth and N was right, then I’m probably the most adept person for the job in the world.” he continued with a chuckle. Drayden smiled at David’s optimism and shook his hand.

    “Good on you, lad; don’t let this get you down.” he said in a deep, booming voice. “If Alder has confidence in you, then so do I.”

    “Me too!” Iris said from the corner. “Dragons are some of the smartest, most observant creatures on the planet. Reshiram is still in there somewhere; I’m sure she’ll appear when the time is right.” she continued.

    5 minutes everyone!” came a shout from through the door. It was followed almost instantly by a chorus of cheers. Reminded of the occasion for their meeting, Drayden quickly looked back at his desk to the clock: 11:55.

    “Well David, you said before that N wants your final confrontation to be at the Pokémon League Championships in a couple of weeks, right?” he asked. David nodded and Drayden smiled. “Then as the Opelucid City Gym Leader, I accept your implied challenge to my Gym. You’ll need my badge if you want to enter the tournament.” he continued. David chuckled and shook his hand again.

    “You got it, Drayden. Thank you for all your help.” he said politely. Cheren and Bianca approached the pair too, smiling with the good humor of their surroundings.

    “Hey, don’t forget us!” Bianca said.

    “We need to enter too.” Cheren appended for her. Drayden smiled and straightened his back.

    “Of course, of course.” he said. “Allow me a few days to get government paperwork for the new year squared away and then we shall set up an appointment. Now come; I think the countdown is about to start.” he continued. The group left his office and returned to the main hall.

    …10! …9! …8!” the crowd was shouting. A deafening cheer rang throughout the crowd as Drayden and Iris stepped back into the spotlight and began counting along with them.

    …7! …6! …5!” they shouted together. David, Bianca, Cheren, Paula and Alder were lined up just in the shadows behind the mayor. The knowledge Drayden had imparted them with was comforting and allowed David to free his mind for the celebration.

    …4! …3!” the crowd cheered. The massive clock beside them was nearing its zenith.

    …2! …1!” they cried. Bianca subtly took David’s hand in anticipation of the impending New Years’ tradition.

    Happy New Year!” came the blaring call. A cheer sounded throughout the crowd as fireworks boomed outside. Couples kissed as singles began the chorus of Auld Lang Syne, and David and Bianca were no exception. The cheerful festivities continued for hours as the citizens of Opelucid rang in the New Year.

    Though N was no less of a threat now than he was at the start of the day, he was equally no more of one. David still didn’t exactly know the specifics of how summoning Reshiram would work, but his meeting with Drayden had at least served to calm his nerves in regards to the previously hopeless seeming nature of their predicament. Drayden’s explanation of the ancient stones and Cheren’s revelation of what the artifact they had obtained from Relic Castle really was had served as important milestones along their attempted path to stopping N and Team Plasma. Maybe it was the high of the party and the sweet embrace of his love clouding his judgment just slightly, but David couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the impending battles, both against Drayden and N. As he and Bianca kissed and the bells began to ring, he had only one emphatic thought on his mind:

    I’ve made my choice, Ghetsis.” he thought to himself. “I’m coming for you.

  4. #254
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    I wondered if you were alright. Glad to see you back, if only briefly.

    This would be why Iris is gym leader in White then, I suppose.

    Nice touch with the Ball and New Years. Is that in the Black version? You speak of Drayden's Ball like it means something in your intro.

    While I can see what you mean by not your best work, I think yhat you're not seeing is becvause it's an interlude. It does serve a purpose, but it's an interlude. Maybe more could have been said at the Ball itself, it kind of felt like we dressed Bianca up so she could stand there, and I think Paula was a little too restrained after going all giddy schoolgirl at the mall.

    Rattling Pokeball: Nice touch.

    Also, and so you know, I had a lovely entry for you. Was nice, then I went and re-read the rules, and discovered I'd missed the one at the bottom about "No Fan Characters" and that pretty much shot down everyone in my head worth writing about, so I'm still trying to come up with someone that I can use for moi if they don't get picked.
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  5. #255
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    Finally was able to find time to leave a proper review! For the record, this is my fourth time starting this. XD (I read this the first day you put it out.)

    Ok, so, first thing's first; why is David thinking those thoughts when he's kissing Bianca? :O I dunno about you, but I think I'd be a bit preoccupied if I were him.

    That aside, I can see why you say this isn't one of your best chapters, but on the other hand, this is by no means your one of your worst chapters. As Glover said, this isn't as outstanding as other chapters primarily because this isn't a super eventful chapter. No Gym Battles, battles, or anything that required a lot of heart-pulsing, spine-tingling, adrenaline-rushing action.

    This was, essentially, a transitional chapter, which is much needed in any fan fiction. If anything, it was worth the 2-3 week wait for the chapter. I think it was that long. Might have been longer, but whatever. It was worth the wait.

    So, I think I've established this as the norm, so we shall continue as is.
    1. The Ghetsis scene was freaky. I've read other BW fix's take on Ghetsis, and yours is by far the most... Creepy of them. He's scary in this one, and you do a great job at portraying that. He's genuinely intimidating, in a scary way.
    2. I have to applaud you on the whole ball scene. I don't want to, but I must. XD The lead up was great; the whole transaction between David and Alder, with Paula coming in at the end was great! I will admit, maybe more protest, or thoughts and words from the others could have been nice, but as is, it's fine. Pokeball rattling was quite nice. And then you have the actual ball scene.

    I never knew how to describe a dance. I never knew you really could. But this showed me that you can, and you can do it beautifully. I love the enhanced music effects that you put in, even if some find it rather breaking of the story. It just adds to the mood. But this was quite clever, and I really liked it.
    3. The whole thing with Drayden and Iris was also very cool, and to be honest, very much needed. Drayden is an important person to his city, and I imagine it wouldn't be that easy to get a hold of him. To think you could just grab him whenever and pull him away from his duties is a bit silly. Although, it could happen that way, since David's mission is important and Alder is the [i]Champion[i]. But I like your idea much much better.
    4. Overall, the dialogue in this chapter is, as usual, very good. I enjoyed it, and all of it flowed quite nicely. Just thought you should get some notice for that.

    That's pretty much it. Good stuff, but not a whole lot of it due to it being a less-eventful chapter. But very much needed. I liked it. (:

    On a side note, a new episode of StriatonRadio will be up very soon, aaaand... I will send in my characters very soon as well. (:

    Good luck and great chapter once again!

    P.S. Why is no one else reviewing? Must be a lull in the Pokemon community; RMTs are feeling the side effects of this too. School's maybe kicking everyone's butts?

    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?!

  6. #256
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    A. Maz. Ing.

    This is the most ridiculously amazing, funny, and detailed Pokemon story I've ever read. It accurately covers all of Black (so far). Unlike the games, you give Brycen, N, and the Team Plasma grunts a personality, something the writers forgot to do. Paula is one of my favorite characters in the fan fiction, who's like an actual person with psychic powers. I can't find any criticism to give you, this is freaking amazing.

    I caught one mistake though: in the Christmas chapter, you called Snorlax a Munchlax.

  7. #257
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        Spoiler:- Author's Notes:


    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 25: The Opelucid City Gym Battle
    Part 1 of 2

    The day had arrived for David, Bianca and Cheren to battle Drayden for their Opelucid City Gym Battle. A crisp breeze blew around the city as the group headed out for the Gym; it sharpened the mind and reaffirmed the spirit. The cool winter sun was shining brightly from a cloudless sky and the city around them seemed to move like clockwork. The pulsating rivers of light that wove through the buildings and streets were reminiscent of a heart-rate monitor for the city itself. With every element seeming to come together, David couldn’t help but smile and feel confident heading into his last Gym challenge. With this, their last badge, they would earn entry into the Pokémon League Championship tournament.

    The Opelucid City Gym lay in the northwest corner of the city; it stood out as a very sharp contrast to everything else around it. As they had noticed when they first arrived in the city, everything for as far as the eye could see was constructed of a highly polished alloy. Buildings seemed to just be natural extensions of the street, and the streets all seemed to flow together as one uniform entity; everything about the town radiated “futuristic” and “high-tech.” The Gym however sat in the middle of a vacant dirt lot, with nothing more than a simple chain-link fence lining the premises. It looked extremely out of place amongst the technology and development, but the building itself fit Drayden’s character flawlessly. The massive stone structure was built like a giant, vertically stretched igloo; the truly impressive part was the two massive heads which rose from either side of the building however. Each shaped like the head of a Charizard, the ominous gargoyles stared at passersby and were each nearly half the size of the building. The stonework alone must have taken a tremendous effort to complete, but in a city such as Opelucid, the bold, against-the-grain statement made a clear mark on Drayden’s traditionalistic character. It could only be properly described as “epic” in the mythic sense.

    Completing the fortress motif, the entrance to the garrison was blocked by two massive, sturdy oak doors. Aged knockers hung from either side, the rings hanging from the mouths of two dragons just like the ones above. David reached for the closest one and went to knock, but to his surprise, the sturdy door creaked open at the slightest prod. A bit confused at the apparent façade, David poked his head into the darkness and looked around.

    “Uh… hello?” he asked into the building. It was pitch black inside, but he heard his voice echo, implying a deep chamber in the darkness beyond their vision. A response from behind them made him jump.

    “Hi-ya, guys!” Iris exclaimed. The three of them cringed in surprise and leapt around, having been so entranced by the ominous building that they hadn’t heard her sneak up. Drayden was standing a few feet behind her as well, his arms folded as usual and looking down at them from atop his tremendous height and across his bushy beard. He looked as if he was scowling, but he almost always wore such a look, even if he didn’t intend to. “Were you guys looking for us?” Iris continued with a sarcastic smile.

    “Jesus, Iris, don’t sneak up on us like that.” David said, shaking his head and putting a hand to his heart. Drayden grunted and began walking toward the door.

    “Lacking confidence, are we?” he asked in a gravelly voice. David smirked at his light taunt however and stepped aside.

    “Bring it on, old man.” he prodded back, rasping a chuckle beneath his breath. Drayden murmured another acknowledgment but did not respond verbally; internally he liked David’s attitude, but nothing about his outward appearance would have given it away. He walked into the darkness and motioned for them to follow.

    “Iris, child, close the door, please.” he murmured when they had all shuffled in. Iris reunited the oak doors and plunged the room into even more complete darkness; while the entranceway had been at least lit partially by light from the street, now everything before them was entirely black.

    “Uh… Drayden?” David asked. Drayden remained silent however and found a panel against the wall. He flipped a lever on it and the rumble of an engine in the back corner of the room began to sound.

    “Yes?” he asked. It was David who was silent now however; the stone roof of the massive dome was beginning to retract at Drayden’s command, flooding everything before them in daylight. As David had predicted from the echo, the building was all one giant room. Ornate stone pillars held up the concave part of the roof, but the center under where the more flat part of the roof was being retracted was cleared for a grand battlefield. There was nothing else in the entire building save this one sprawling room; Drayden truly was “Spartan” in all aspects of his life. David stammered at the engineering spectacle before him.

    “N-nothing…” he murmured as the roof finished retracting. Drayden unfolded his arms and began walking towards the battlefield.

    “Who’s going first?” he asked without turning to look. David blinked away his stupor and turned to his friends.

    “Same as always?” David whispered. Cheren and Bianca shrugged and nodded respectively in affirmation.

    “You then Bianca then me?” Cheren parroted.

    “Sounds fine; just as long as I’m not first.” Bianca chimed in. David nodded back and jogged up to meet Drayden on the battlefield.

    “I’ll be first.” he answered. Drayden grunted a third time in acknowledgment and took up his position on the field. He folded his arms and waited for Iris in the judge’s box.

    “Oooookay, guys; everyone ready?” she asked, taking long, whimsical strides to reach her post. The trainers nodded seriously and drew their opening Pokéballs.

    “Three Pokémon each, first to lose all their Pokémon loses, yada-yada-yada… you can start whenever you’re ready!” she continued. With the epic grandeur of everything around him and the ominous tone Drayden and his preferred type carried with them, David was pleasantly surprised and amused by her lighthearted demeanor. Drayden showed no outward indication that it was out of the ordinary however, no matter how clashing with his own personality it may have been. Drayden primed his opening Pokéball and threw it onto the field to meet the challenge; the battle for the Legend Badge was underway.

    * * *

    “Fraxure!” Drayden bellowed. The scrappy Dragon-type leapt from the ball as it struck the ground and hunched over into a defensive position as it waited for David to counter. The Axe Jaw Pokémon was a bit bigger than Bianca’s own Fraxure; it looked perhaps more disciplined than hers, but maybe less powerful too. David acted in turn and released his own opening Pokémon.

    “Go, Snorlax!” David shouted. The titan emerged from the Pokéball midflight and landed on the ground with a mighty “stomp!” The ground beneath their feet shook ever-so-slightly upon his landing, foreshadowing the powerful Earthquake attacks he was capable of summoning. With the battle set to begin, Drayden called out to his opponent.

    “Our very ability to interact with Pokémon in this way rests on your ability to defeat N, my friend. To earn your place in the tournament, you have to first earn my badge; you may have the first move.” he offered. David chuckled and scratched his forearm.

    “Right, so no pressure.” he joked back. “Okay then, Snorlax, use Fire Punch!” he commanded. With the first attack issued, the match was underway.

    Snorlax roared a rumbling, low-pitched cry and shot his fists to his sides. Standing proudly before his enemy, the twin flames ignited and filled the air with a muted popping sound. Snorlax set himself, similar to his opponent’s own defensive stance, and then charged with all of his strength towards the stocky dragon. Though it was a relatively slow advance, it was no less threatening or potentially destructive than a company of tanks rolling towards a target; Fraxure braced himself and waited for a counter-command.

    Snorlax was drawing close and tightened his fists to strike. Drayden stood stock still, rigidly waiting and watching for the right moment to defend. His scowl tightened and his arms were still folded. As Snorlax hopped into the air to deliver the punch, Drayden barked out his own first command.

    “False Swipe, now!” he ordered strictly. Fraxure pushed off of the ground and caught Snorlax’s wrist mid-stride. Snorlax’s determined look turned instantly to one of surprise.

    Snorlax was nearly thirteen times his opponent’s weight. Nevertheless, between Fraxure’s incredible strength and his nimble placement, he had masterfully managed to redirect all of that weight from a destructive force to a harmless, misdirected one. Now in close quarters and with an opportune moment to attack, Fraxure grinned to itself fiendishly and twisted its neck for the strike.

    “Snorlax, get away!” David shouted, but it was too late. Slicing at Snorlax’s thick hide with his iron-strong tusks, Fraxure delivered two powerful blows back-to-back. For as bulky and unstoppable as Snorlax typically was, his physical defenses were still the weaker of the two compared to his Special Defense; the blow was perfectly placed for maximum damage. Fraxure reined it in just a bit on the second swipe, leaving Snorlax just barely strong enough to continue the fight, but the first blow alone had been enough to knock Snorlax from his feet. David’s Pokémon rose after taking a tumble nearly half way across the field and stumbled to stand up straight, but he had only the tiniest bit of fight left in him.

    “False Swipe is a move that always leaves a little bit of health remaining.” Cheren whispered to Bianca on the sidelines. “It never KOs. I think Drayden is going easy on David; he wants to give him a fair chance and see what he’s capable of.” he continued. Bianca oh’d and turned her gaze from Snorlax to Drayden’s piercing stare. She could believe it; he looked as if a hundred different thoughts were racing through his mind as he assessed the situation.

    “Snorlax, are you sure you’re okay?” David called out to his Pokémon. Snorlax was woozy and could barely stand, but he grunted a disoriented, warbling cry in affirmation, not wanting to let his trainer down. Snorlax had always been tenacious and unable to let any objective go; David was especially grateful for that quality now.

    “Alright then; Earthquake, Snorlax!” he continued fiercely. Snorlax tiredly lifted one of his squat paws and smashed it against the ground, but to David’s chagrin, the ensuing tremor hardly lived up to one of the ones his Pokémon’s entrance has promised. The weak quake went out and managed to knock Drayden’s Fraxure off its feet, but it had taken only minimal damage from the blow and was ready to strike back after only seconds. At Drayden’s command, Fraxure took a running charge at his opponent and outstretched one of its sharply clawed feet for a flying kick: Assurance. Snorlax simply lacked the stamina or the strength to try and dodge the attack; it was little more than a light tap, but the force alone toppled Snorlax from his feet. He collapsed to his back and was out for the match.

    “Snorlax is unable to battle; round one goes to Drayden!” Iris shouted. Drayden remained motionless and made no more than a sigh of acknowledgment. David dejectedly recalled his first Pokémon, having made little headway into breaking through Drayden’s team. Snorlax had fought as best he could, but his lumbering speed had been his demise. David drew his next Pokéball and prepared for round two.

    “Go, Galvantula!” he shouted. The EleSpider Pokémon broke free of the ball and scuttled nearly to centerfield tenaciously to meet his opponent’s challenge. Paula’s poor physical defense would make her easy prey for such a powerful physical attacker as Fraxure; he needed to save her for last and hope Galvantula could soften up some of the bigger targets for her first. Drayden nodded, beginning to mentally plan his counter-strategy; the second round was underway.

    “Begin!” Iris shouted.

    While Snorlax’s low speed had given Fraxure an easy time redirecting his raw power, Galvantula would suffer no such fate. Galvantula had terrific speed and David capitalized on it, issuing his opening command nearly as soon as Iris had exhaled the breath.

    “Signal Beam! Let’s go!” he said quickly. Galvantula acted with computer-like reflexes and began immediately pummeling Fraxure with the iridescent ray. Fraxure wasn’t ready yet and took the attack head on. The beam washed over his face and tusks and began chipping away at his weak special defenses. Drayden recognized what was happening even before Fraxure did and angrily gave a counter-command, but the surprise damage was already done.

    “Fraxure, stop flailing; defend yourself! Dual Chop.” he bellowed. His trainer’s harsh voice jarred Fraxure’s mind back into cohesion. He brought his tusks to bear and, bracing off of the pressure from Galvantula’s Signal Beam, pushed off with them to get out of the way. He slid to a halt a few feet away and tucked in his head to launch off a counter-attack. Charging towards Galvantula, the EleSpider Pokémon ceased his Signal Beam dug in to brace for the hit.

    “Wait for it, Galvantula. You know what to do.” David called out reassuringly. Galvantula sounded a combination hissing-purring noise in acknowledgment and recognition of his trainer’s implied plan. It was a strategy they had practiced to great success many times before; it had never failed, and it wouldn’t fail now.

    Fraxure was sailing towards his opponent, ready to swiftly put an end to opponent number two. The Dragon-type Dual Chop attack would be more than powerful enough to take down Galvantula if it hit, and if Galvantula fell to Fraxure’s sweep as well, David would almost definitely lose; strong as she was, Paula couldn’t single-handedly beat Fraxure and Drayden’s two other remaining Pokémon. A bloodlust in his eyes and enraged for having been duped by the speedy Signal Beam, Fraxure roared and twisted its neck to strike. With no distance left to maneuver away for either of them, Galvantula’s response came crackling through the air.

    “Electroweb!” David shouted as his Pokémon acted.

    Galvantula turned and hit his opponent dead on with the ensnaring web of crackling, hissing static. Completely bound and unable to complete his own attack, Fraxure fell and skidded to a halt against the ground, crying out in pain from the electricity’s residual damage. The net stung Fraxure’s body everywhere it touched; unable to break free, it just kept doing more and more damage. Fraxure as a species were much less specially defensive than physically so, and when combined with the damage it had taken from Snorlax’s Earthquake and Galvantula’s earlier Signal Beam, the enduring pain proved to be too much for it. Galvantula had won the round unscathed.

    “Fraxure is unable to battle; round two goes to David!” Iris announced excitedly. David’s face burst out in a proud grin and Galvantula’s dangling feelers did the analog. Drayden was once again virtually emotionless, but a twinge of annoyance at having his would-be sweep halted lined his lips behind the beard. The Gym Leader recalled his Fraxure and exchanged its Pokéball for the next. Wasting no time releasing Pokémon number two, the third round began.

    “Druddigon, now you.” he barked. Soaring from the ball in midair and flying low to the ground, the scaly beast roared fiercely and sized up his opponents with an air of confidence matched only by his trainer. Though neither more nor less of a Dragon than Fraxure was, seeing Druddigon’s large, beating wings opposite his Electric-type gave David reason to smile.

    “Alright… begin!” Iris shouted. This time it was Drayden to issue the first command.

    “Don’t you fall for that too, Druddigon. Use Chip Away.” he said sternly. Druddigon roared in acknowledgment and began soaring towards Galvantula, picking up speed as he went. Recognizing a winning strategy however, that same tactic was exactly what David had in mind to do. He called for Galvantula to begin firing off Electroweb attacks to try and ensnare the Gym Leader’s Druddigon, but the Cave Pokémon was just a tad too fast. Druddigon was content to soar around Galvantula in circles, maintaining a safe distance away and dodging attacks. When he thought he had a clear shot, Galvantula would turn and fire off the snare, but Druddigon would increase or decrease speed just enough to narrowly dodge. While Galvantula was turning back around then, Druddigon would swoop in and take a quick potshot at the EleSpider’s back. This happened several times, each slightly more powerful than the last, before David decided to change tactics; Galvantula was getting angry at the constant, taunting blows and appreciated the decision.

    “Alright, enough of this…” David spat. Looking up at the clear skies above them, he grinned and had an idea. “Time to bring out the big guns…” he said to himself. Galvantula had the same idea and hissed venomously in anticipation.

    “Good, Druddigon. Keep it up.” Drayden said, refolding his arms. Druddigon rasped a dry roar and continued soaring in a circle above Galvantula; he would continue waiting for a safe moment to strike.

    Galvantula closed all six of his eyes and began to concentrate. A low hum began to radiate from his body, though it didn’t deter Druddigon any. Above them in the sky, a few scant clouds were beginning to rapidly form. They were dark and gray, looking very ominous to the rest of the city as they crowned the massive gargoyles atop the Gym. After a moment’s concentration, Galvantula reopened his eyes; there was something different about them now though, something almost mechanical. Druddigon was still oblivious to Galvantula’s impending attack, but the EleSpider was already taking steps to ensure that it wouldn’t fail regardless. Utilizing his Compoundeyes ability, Galvantula homed in on his airborne adversary and took supremely careful aim. Angry electricity crackling all over his body, before the Gym Leader or his Pokémon could realize the danger, Galvantula dropped a wicked thunderbolt from the sky and cut Druddigon dead on. The Thunder attack had struck Druddigon right in his weak spot for a critical hit; Compoundeyes had made sure of that. Clipping his rocky wings and inflicting stellar damage, the gargoyle fell to the ground in a crackling mess.

    “…damn.” Cheren murmured from the sidelines. Galvantula’s attack had been every bit as visually and aurally impressive as it had been crushingly powerful. Drayden appeared just as unfazed as his Pokémon was however. Druddigon rose after just a moment with a wicked grin on his face, clutching his right arm in pain.

    “Well lad, you finally landed a blow…” Drayden said tauntingly. “Druddigon… Revenge.

    The Cave Pokémon moved slowly at first, but having shaken off the blow with surprising ease, he retook to the skies and screamed towards Galvantula with every bit of speed he had. No longer was he flying lazy circles above his enemy; Druddigon shot like a rocket towards his opponent with a smirk that could melt hearts lining his stony lips. Terrified by the beast that had just survived his Thunder, Galvantula began speedily scuttling away.

    “No no no! Galvantula, use Electroweb, this is your chance!” David shouted. Galvantula was gripped by fear however and couldn’t perform. Druddigon screamed again and took a firm hold of the spider as he caught up to him. Lifting his opponent into the air along with him, he re-ascended with his newly acquired bomb and proceeded to drop him as such to the ground below. Flailing his legs and squirming in fear, Galvantula fell nearly the entire height of the Gym and struck the hard floor below for tremendous damage. Druddigon was severely hurt, but was victorious from his strategy.

    “Galvantula is unable to battle; round three goes to Drayden.” Iris said; she spoke barely a whisper though, gripped in reverence by her mentor’s masterful timing. The combination of Chip Away and Revenge had proven to be highly successful; waiting to take a hit and then capitalizing on it as soon as it happened, Druddigon had all but assured a KO. The Cave Pokémon had taken good damage to be sure, but with the score at 2-1 to Drayden and David only having Paula in reserve, it was beginning to look like it might have been worth it.

    “Galvantula, return…” David murmured. As the beam was cut and the Pokéball resealed, he looked at it in his palm and smiled. “I couldn’t have asked for more, buddy. Sorry I didn’t see that coming.” he thought. David returned the ball to his holster and drew Paula’s ball from it. She was his last line of defense; could she finish off the Druddigon and take Drayden’s last Pokémon out too though? David chuckled and shouted across the field to his opponent.

    “Remember my dance partner from the party, Drayden?” he asked lightheartedly. For the first time they had seen that day, Drayden nodded his head and smiled.

    “Is she as avid on the battlefield as she is in the ballroom?” he asked back. David grinned and threw out her ball.

    “You tell me.” he replied.

    Paula gracefully fell from the ball and landed opposite Druddigon with delicacy becoming of the wind. She brought her hands together in front of her horn and sighed to calm her mind. When she reopened her eyes, she shot Druddigon a piercing, bone-chilling siren’s gaze even Helen of Troy would have killed to wield. Druddigon was starting to remember the pain from Galvantula’s crippling Thunder attack as he saw the spry young Gardevoir as his last opponent.

    “So tell me, master, is this when I say my one-liner or do I have to clean up the scraps first?” she asked drily. David smirked as Iris called for the start of the round.

    “Don’t get cocky, Paula. There’s another one after this.” he answered. Paula grinned to herself and began building her energy.

    “Of course, master.” she replied.

    “Begin!” Iris cried. With that, the fourth round was under way.

    “Druddigon, use–” Drayden started to say, but before he could finish his statement, his Pokémon shuttered violently. The fourth round started not with a bang, but with a whisper; Druddigon had landed in the interim between rounds and fell to a knee as his body charged with electricity. Though the effects had not manifested themselves until now, Galvantula’s massive Thunder attack had given Druddigon a temporarily paralysis condition; his speed would be severely compromised and he was even worse off than he had anticipated.

    “Gah… no time to waste; Druddigon, Dragon Claw!” Drayden shouted angrily. Druddigon heroically and painstakingly rose once more and began beating his wings to take to the skies, but his paralysis was beginning to take hold. He got into the air, but it was a strained effort.

    “Paula, use Psychic!” David commanded preemptively. Though the surprise paralysis was a welcomed blessing, he didn’t want to chance a loss while the physically-inclined Druddigon could still land a blow against his defensively frail Gardevoir. Paula’s horn began to glow bright white as she launched the blast of telekinesis. Druddigon had managed to get into the air, but it was a terribly strained effort. He was essentially just flying in a beeline towards the Embrace Pokémon, hoping to take a clean swipe with his empowered claws. Paula’s Psychic attack struck perfectly and finished off what little fight Druddigon had in him. Unable to continue flying, he dropped to the ground and skidded to a halt at Paula’s feet.

    “Druddigon is unable to battle; round four goes to David.” Iris announced. Paula maintained her composure and hadn’t even had to move during the round. She looked down at the scaly beast defeated before her with mockingly sarcastic confusion.

    “Goodness, quit dragon your feet, you ruffian.” She mused tongue-in-cheek. David restrained a laugh and pinched the bridge of his nose in embarrassment at the same time.

    “Goddamn… off day, Paula?” he asked. The Gardevoir simply giggled and folded her arms.

    “I do not know what you are talking about, master. That was a good one.” she joked. David smiled again, but before he could reply, they were interrupted then by a soft, rhythmic noise.

    Drayden stood across from them, slowly clapping his hands with a stern look on his face. David was simultaneously confused, pleased and terrified by the gesture, not sure what it meant. Drayden then spoke as he drew his own final Pokéball.

    “Fine show, lad; fine show indeed…” he bellowed. “It has brought us down to one full-health Pokémon a piece, but you’ve managed to best two of my strongest Dragons regardless. You’re no ordinary trainer, that is to be certain now; I see why Alder has such faith in you.” he continued. David grinned sheepishly and Paula blushed at the compliment.

    “Well ahh… gee Drayden, thanks. I–” David started to respond, but Drayden cut him off before he could finish.

    However…” he continued sharply. “I have one final Pokémon, as do you, and this battle is not over yet. For you, my final Pokémon shall be my strongest. Behold, one of the most violent, unmanageable, terrific beasts this planet harbors. It has been one of my life’s goals to train a Pokémon of this species, as it is of every Dragon-type master. Go… Zweilous!” he cried. David swallowed nervously as Drayden emphatically threw the ball.

    Landing dead center in the field, the Pokéball landed and remained motionless. After a moment, the ball creaked open and a dark figure rose from it. The squat, black monster snarled as it flew out and took up a position on the field opposite Paula. The creature had a stocky body and two heads; each one shouting a roar in opposite directions, the feral monster was prepared for battle.

    “Wow… a Zweilous…” Cheren murmured. “Professor Juniper told us about them once. They evolve into practically the most violently destructive force on the planet: Hydreigon. They treat anything that moves as a target and destroy everything in their path indiscriminately. Drayden’s right; training one of those things would be just shy of impossible.” he continued. Bianca was silently mystified by the creature as well.

    “Drayden, are you sure you want to use your Zweilous? Is he ready?” Iris asked timidly from the judge’s box. Drayden shot her a calming look and nodded without speaking.

    “Alright then… go ahead and begin.” she said nervously. David could sense the atmosphere change that had occurred when Drayden’s final Pokémon had appeared, but he wasn’t going to let it worry him. It was just a one-on-one now.

    “Zweilous, attack command alpha. Use Dragon Pulse.” Drayden commanded sternly. There was no hesitation in his voice; the slightest uncertainty and the Zweilous would ignore his trainer. The Hostile Pokémon began charging the legendary blast in its left-side mouth, but Paula was already readying a defense of her own.

    “Wait for the shot and then Teleport, Paula. Let’s see how this thing attacks before we go rushing in.” David explained telepathically. Paula acknowledged and continued watching her opponent carefully. When the Zweilous’ left head fired the shot, she focused intently and instantly warped away.

    “Good, now… wait, what’s it doing?” David continued. In the split second during Paula’s jump, the second head also began charging a second Dragon Pulse. When Paula reappeared, it quickly fired off the smaller blast and clipped her before she could Teleport again. “Paula, crap, no!” David shouted, but it was too late.

    “Good, Zweilous. Hold.” Drayden barked. The Zweilous appeared to grin just slightly as it watched Paula fall from the sky.

    “No no no, Paula! Are you okay?” David thought worriedly. The attack had been light however as it had been charged so quickly. Paula managed to steady herself and land gracefully; she was no longer unscathed however.

    “I am alright, master. Just caught me by surprise…” she responded. David sighed, but could feel his heart beating faster than it had prior.

    “Be careful. Now we know that both heads can attack.” he appended. Paula smiled to herself however and glared at her opponent.

    “Now it is our turn to attack though, master.” she said confidently. David nodded and gave the command.

    “Paula, use Psychic!” he shouted. Paula’s whole form radiated with color and twisted the space around itself as she launched the strike. It was one of the most emboldened Psychic attacks David had ever seen her generate, but to his surprise and panic, the attack seemed to glance right off of Drayden’s Zweilous.

    “Wait… is that thing–” David started to say, but Cheren cut him off.

    “David, what are you doing?! It’s a Dark-type! Don’t you remember when Professor Juniper taught us about these?” he shouted. Drayden called for another attack before David could respond.

    “Zweilous, attack command delta. Use Dragon Rush.” he ordered quickly. Almost seeming to chortle to itself at its immunity to Psychic-type attacks, the Zweilous rose into the air on its thin wings and began screaming towards Paula for the tackle.

    “Ack! No! Paula, Teleport!” David cried desperately. Paula shut her eyes tightly and Teleported away, not caring where so long as it was out of the Zweilous’ war path. She narrowly escaped, but the Zweilous had her in a high-speed game of cat-and-mouse now. As soon as Paula reappeared from a Teleport, the Zweilous doggedly altered course and zoomed towards her, forcing her to make another jump almost right away. This endlessly repeating pattern would go on until the Zweilous found its mark; the effort it would require from Paula if it was kept up for too long would be extraordinary, and the risk of her slipping up increased with each leap she made. David had to come up with a new plan quickly.

    “Paula? Paula, can you still hear me?” David thought. Paula answered a second later, but there was a panicked tone to her mental voice and a hazy warble as she flitted in and out of reality.

    “Yes, master, but I am here, but this Pokémon is fast! I do not know how long I can keep this up!” she replied. David grit his teeth, his mind racing.

    “If it’s a Dark-type, then that means we’ve got to go for Focus Blast. A well-aimed one should be enough to take it down. Do you think you can do it?” he asked. There was clear hesitation in Paula’s answer, or lack thereof perhaps, this time however.

    “Not as this speed, master. I must slow one of us down.” she replied frantically. David wracked his mind trying to remember what Professor Juniper had taught them about the species for anything that could give them an edge.

    Okay… think, David. How do you slow this thing down?” he thought to himself. “It has to mess up its Dragon Rush and give her a chance to get away. Why could it fail?” he pondered. A roughly constructed plan came to him off of a kernel of information he managed to remember, but he wasn’t sure if it would really work; it was worth a shot however.

    “Paula, Teleport to right in front of one of these pillars. You’ve got to wait and let it get as close as possible before you Teleport away again after that, understand?” David asked. Paula was too preoccupied by now for a “verbal” acknowledgment; every drop of mental focus and discipline she had was tasked to maintaining her light-speed Teleports. The Zweilous was getting better and better at predicting her movements; she wasn’t even bothering to wait after each Teleport now for fear of the impending strike. Through it all though, she managed to get out a sense that she understood David’s command. David watched as she reappeared and waited before one of the pillars for the Zweilous to make another charge.

    “Hold… hold…” David commanded. The Zweilous had already re-found her and was flying like a bullet towards its mark however. Paula practically shook with nervousness and fatigue from the high-speed chase, but she had trust in her trainer’s plan.

    “Hold…” David murmured again. The Zweilous was only feet away at this point.

    “Now! Teleport now!” David cried. Paula had to simply act on instinct and warp to wherever she could to get away in time. Luckily for her, David’s strategy paid off. The Zweilous had such an unrelenting bloodlust in its chase because of its Hustle ability; it was throwing itself around with tremendous strength, but at the cost of control and accuracy. Having convinced itself that because she had slowed down, Paula would not be able to get away again, the Zweilous crashed into the pillar and momentarily stunned itself.

    Paula had chosen to warp to the easiest place for her mind to locate: at David’s side. As she reappeared, David turned and grasped her shoulder.

    “Quick! Focus Blast, now!” he cried, pointing to the Zweilous to more quickly help her regain her spatial bearings. As the Zweilous was shaking off the disorientation, Paula very quickly generated the energy for the attack and let it fly. She had extremely limited time to aim the blast, but with months of practice and a little luck guiding her, the shot struck home and sent the Zweilous reeling to the ground. For as strong and agile as it was, it lacked the special defenses to tank the type-advantageous hit. Falling to the ground, one of the heads struggled to keep up the fight, but it was done. Exhausted, frightened and heart nearly beating out of her chest, Paula stood triumphant over the Hostile Pokémon. Drayden was defeated; David had won.

    “I… wow…” Iris stammered. “I can’t believe it. Zweilous is unable to battle. David… wins.” she said. The whole room remained eerily quiet for a time following her decree.

    Drayden stood in solemn defeat. He sighed once and simply returned his Pokémon to its Pokéball. He returned it to his holster and walked away from the field. The realization of victory was beginning to settle in for David and Paula collectively. She still stood beside him, still radiating a slight aura of heat from her freshly fired Focus Blast. The pair turned to face each other and locked gazes. David nodded and once again laid a hand on Paula’s shoulder. The fight was over; Paula had done it.

    “You always come through, Paula…” David whispered. Paula smiled and leaned against her trainer to recuperate.

    “It takes two to tango, master…” she whispered back. David smiled at the returned compliment.

    Drayden had wandered off to a cabinet along the far wall near the motor for retracting the roof. He was returning now however and appeared to be holding something in his hand. He approached David and Paula and once again folded his arms.

    “Hmm…” he grunted as he sized them up. Though they had just won over him, something about his broadly built form was still intimidating. After a moment, Drayden sighed.

    “Good job, young man. You’ve earned it.” he said evenly. The Spartan Mayor offered few words; he simply offered one hand to shake and a Legend Badge in the other. David smiled peacefully as he took them in sequence.

    The fight was over; David had won. With now all eight badges won through legitimate, sanctioned battle, David had earned entry into the Pokémon League Championships. It represented completion of the first stepping stone on a journey neither he nor either of his friends had ever thought would happen. Bianca and Cheren would still have to battle to join him at his newly surmounted summit, but for now, David felt on top of the world. He squeezed Paula a little tighter as he showed her tired eyes their prize. David had won the Legend Badge.

    * * *

    [Continued Below]

  8. #258
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 25: The Opelucid City Gym Battle
    Part 2 of 2

    After a short break to heal his Pokémon, Drayden was once again prepared for battle. Now it was Bianca’s turn to vie for entry into the League Championships. While she was decidedly more nervous and less experienced than her male traveling companions, her team as an offensive-defensive unit was more equipped to fight Dragons than either of theirs were. Fraxure, as a Dragon-type himself, was predisposed to have a type-advantage against all of Drayden’s Pokémon, while Pachirisu’s freezing Hidden Power would also net a favorable type matchup. Anything they couldn’t clean up together would be left as easy prey to Crobat. The trouble might arise if Bianca got complacent with these advantages however; Fraxure was just as weak to Drayden’s Dragon-type attacks as Drayden’s dragons were to him, and while Pachirisu was fast and versatile, she was not in the least bit bulky. If Crobat was left with too much still to contend with if he was needed, it could spell disaster for Bianca. The two trainers took up their positions and prepared for battle.

    “Same rules as before. Everybody ready?” Iris asked excitedly. Drayden nodded with stern determination, but Bianca was markedly less confident. With affirmation from both trainers, Iris began the match.

    “Go, Fraxure!” Drayden barked. Leading the same way he led against David, the hearty dragon took up a wide stance and braced for the battle when it entered the field.

    “You too, sweetie!” Bianca shouted nervously. Her own Fraxure entered the battlefield in a similar fashion, but seemed more pumped than his counterpart across the field. Drayden’s Fraxure seemed monitoring and experienced; Bianca’s by comparison seemed more novice, but also more physically adept and virile. With the two like-species combatants primed against each other, the first commands began to fly.

    “Dual Chop, Fraxure!” Drayden ordered.

    “You too, sweetie!” Bianca parroted, both of Drayden and of her own last remark. The two Axe Jaw Pokémon moved in lock-step, almost as if there was just one and it was facing a mirror. When they met in the middle of the battlefield, a sharp metallic “clang!” sounded as their tusks collided. Like expert swordsmen, neither one was initially able to overpower the other; they pushed off one another’s tusks, both trying to outmaneuver the other rather than outmuscle.

    After a moment of this reverse Tug-of-War, Drayden saw that his own Fraxure was just barely beginning to slip however. Bianca’s truly was the more physically powerful, and it was beginning to make some headway pushing Drayden’s Fraxure back. Cutting his losses, he decided to change tactics.

    “Leave it alone, Fraxure; we’ve got to re-maneuver.” he said sternly. Gritting his teeth and snarling, the Gym Leader’s Pokémon followed orders and gave one final push to back away safely. The two fell back a few paces, neither one having done any significant damage, and awaited new orders from their trainers; it was time for a chance of strategy for the both of them.

    “You almost had it, Fraxure. Let’s cement this; Dragon Dance!” Bianca called out excitedly. Her Fraxure grinned at the opportunity to embolden itself, but Drayden instantly regretted calling off his attack. He was quick to put a stop to it, but early-battle momentum was beginning to fall to Bianca.

    “Stop it now, Fraxure; Taunt!” Drayden commanded harshly. There was clear imperative in his tone; his Pokémon knew he wasn’t mad at it, but simply recognized the action as critically important. Employing similar mind-controlling tactics behind the scenes to what Brycen’s Vanillish had done in Icirrus, the Gym Leader’s Fraxure began mocking his boosting opponent voraciously. Bianca’s Fraxure had already finished a single instance of the ancient dance, but more were now out of the question. Enraged by the Taunt, he snarled and foamed to attack.

    “That’s good, Fraxure; you got one at least. Use Dual Chop again!” Bianca called out excitedly. The Taunt would keep her Fraxure from getting more Dragon Dances under his belt than what he had already acquired, but when the power difference was this close, even just one was more than enough.

    “Evade it, Fraxure!” Drayden bellowed as Bianca’s strategy began to clamp around him. Though he moved valiantly and as quickly as he could, Bianca’s Fraxure’s Dragon Dance had boosted both his attacking strength and his speed, so Drayden’s Fraxure was unable to follow through with the command. The first swing of the Dual Chop missed, but dodging the first had left nowhere to run from the second. KO’d instantly by the single hit, Drayden’s Fraxure flew across the field and tumbled end over end to the ground. The resounding smash had left him done for the match.

    “Drayden’s Fraxure is unable to battle; round one goes to Bianca.” Iris said cheerfully, happy to see the female challenger doing well. Drayden sighed disappointedly but recalled his Pokémon and nodded at the ball in thanks. Wasting little time, he drew his next Pokéball and kept the battle going.

    “Now you, Druddigon.” he said levelly. The bulky dragon emerged from the ball as it was still in midflight, but rather than going airborne as it had in the last battle, it instead smashed to the ground and leered over its opponent menacingly. The Druddigon was a good two feet taller than his opponent and considerably bulkier than his previous teammate. Despite the boost from Fraxure’s Dragon Dance, the size and power difference alone would be a hurdle to overcome.

    “Begin!” Iris shouted.

    “Same as before, Fraxure; Dual Chop!” Bianca shouted excitedly. Early momentum had sided with Bianca, but choosing to send out Druddigon was a purposeful act on Drayden’s part to shift that advantage. Moving at a lightning pace for his moderately small size thanks to the Dragon Dance, Fraxure charged at his larger opponent and leapt in to attack. Supremely confident in his own abilities however, Druddigon made no effort to evade.

    “Stop it, Druddigon; you know what to do.” Drayden said. When Fraxure came within striking distance, Druddigon purposely allowed the first swipe to land so that he could grab his opponent by the tusk on the second. Through sheer mass and strength alone, Druddigon had immobilized Fraxure.

    Startled by the resistance his second swipe was met with, Fraxure looked up and realized what had happened. He frantically struggled to break free, but Drayden’s Druddigon sneered like it had just before the Revenge attack against David’s Galvantula and raised its free hand. Its claws began to glow as it prepared to strike.

    “Fraxure, get out of there!” Bianca cried, but it was no use.

    “Dragon Claw!” Drayden ordered fiercely. Unable to defend himself, Fraxure took the swing right in his exposed abdomen. Druddigon’s sharp claws raked his poor opponent and finished the job that his teammate before him had started. Fraxure struggled to stand after it was tossed across the room by the swipe, but it had simply been too powerful of a blow in too critical of an area. Bianca’s Fraxure had joined Drayden’s now and was unable to continue.

    “Bianca’s Fraxure is unable to battle; round two goes to Drayden.” Iris announced. Bianca ran out onto the field to tend to her Pokémon, slightly irking Drayden but understandable under the circumstances.

    “Fraxure, are you alright?” she asked worriedly as she knelt over him. The Axe Jaw Pokémon was out and could not respond, but while it had been a powerful strike, he appeared as though he would recover soon. Bianca thanked him for his efforts and recalled him to his Pokéball. She rose and returned to her post to continue the battle.

    “Alright Pachirisu, you’re next.” Bianca said as she drew the ball. Throwing it to the spot where Fraxure had fallen, her starter Pokémon leapt out and bristled with electricity as she grinned and looked about. Drayden took his foe seriously, as he did with all of his battles, but against the diminutive, almost naďve-looking squirrel, his Druddigon hid a smirk.

    “Begin!” Iris shouted.

    “Quick, Pachirisu, use Hidden Power!” Bianca commanded. She would need to capitalize on Pachirisu’s speed to break past the tank of a dragon, but Drayden had been expecting something like a Hidden Power when he saw the small Electric-type sent out.

    “Not surprising…” he muttered. “Druddigon, Flamethrower.” he continued almost disinterestedly. Druddigon snarled in approval and acknowledgment of the command and pushed off with a massive stroke of his wings into the air. Hovering just high enough to get height on the attack, he breathed a gale of fire in the direction of Pachirisu’s own outburst. What was targeted at him was melted by the Flamethrower, and the remaining perimeter of the burst of energy harmlessly flew past him and hit nothing but the walls. Druddigon’s weak special attacking capabilities only lent him enough power to nominally melt the attack, but it meant he would be safe from the ice at least, effectively canceling Bianca’s type-advantage.

    We can’t lose our momentum.” Bianca thought to herself. Her mind began to race as she desperately tried to think of a way to get her Hidden Power past the Flamethrower. The kernel of an idea was forming, but she needed to stall for some time. “Charge Beam, hurry!” she shouted. Hoping to press the attack and not give Druddigon time to think or rest, Pachirisu leapt into action.

    On the heels of her first attack, Pachirisu charged up energy in the electric sacs lining her cheeks and shot. The beam of lightning was extremely thin and not overly powerful, but she continued storing even more power even after the attack was in the air, raising her special attacking capability. The beam wasn’t weak though; it was every bit as powerful as her tried-and-true Spark attack, but just without physical exertion. Despite resisting Electric, Druddigon growled a mix between a roar and a yelp and lowered his altitude a bit as the attack struck its target; he was now once again in a position for the attack that had been the undoing of his last Electric-type opponent though.

    “A light tap, but it will suffice.” Drayden mused. “Revenge, Druddigon!”

    Druddigon was still being struck by the beam when Drayden gave his command, but a swipe of his claws killed the stream. Pushing off a strong beat of his wings again, the Cave Pokémon broke his fall and began picking up speed towards the EleSquirrel Pokémon. Bianca’s kernel of a plan was starting to flesh out however.

    “Pachirisu!” Bianca shouted. Her Pokémon turned and looked at her, not having heard an actual command beyond just her name, but the shout had not actually been for commanding purposes anyway. Bianca simply mouthed “let him come” silently, hoping to convey her strategy without alerting Drayden to the plan. Pachirisu was confused, but had trust in her trainer. Before she could turn back around however, her feet left the ground.

    “What is Bianca doing?!” Cheren asked David nervously. Druddigon screamed a wild cry when he grabbed his prey. Pachirisu yelped in surprise upon feeling her opponent’s scaly grasp around practically her entire body, but was still keeping a keen ear out for the rest of Bianca’s plan. David remained silent and waited to see for himself.

    “A little higher… keep going…” Bianca murmured. Druddigon was facing no opposition, so he decided to make the attack as strong as he could; Drayden gave no instruction to the contrary. Druddigon reached the air outside the Gym, a dizzying height of more than 50 feet, and was prepared to not only drop Pachirisu, but throw her. He stopped and prepared to finally strike.

    “Now, Pachirisu! Hidden Power!” Bianca cried from the ground. Pachirisu was literally in Druddigon’s hand; there was no way he could avoid even a single part of the Hidden Power attack now, let alone melt it with Flamethrower. He and Pachirisu both became aware of the meaning of Bianca’s words at the same time. Druddigon tried to ditch his package as quickly as he could, but Pachirisu still got off the blast and nailed him cleanly. With the damage from Fraxure’s first Dual Chop, the slight damage from Charge Beam, and the residual charge from the attack helping her generate the energy for the Hidden Power, Druddigon was KO’d almost instantly by the freezing blast; there was, however, still the problem for Pachirisu of how to get down…

    “Druddigon! Druddigon, do you hear me?” Drayden bellowed into the sky. His Pokémon was out though and would not be battling further.

    “Druddigon is unable to battle; round three goes to Bianca, but… uhh…” Iris commented. Druddigon was done, but Pachirisu was still falling towards the ground head-first.

    “Ahh! No no no! Pachirisu!” Bianca shouted desperately. Her plan to get past Druddigon’s Flamethrower defense had been a smart, quick and resourceful one, but it had lacked an exit strategy altogether. Pachirisu simply fell to the ground and was unable to save herself. She curled into a tight ball and cushioned some of the force of the blow when she struck, but Druddigon’s considerable weight landing on top of her immediately after was what did most of the damage. Pachirisu went silently; she managed to tiredly crawl out from beneath her defeated opponent after the impact, but collapsed in exhaustion immediately following.

    “Pachirisu is also unable to battle. The next round will decide the match.” Iris continued, trying to sound official. Bianca once again ran onto the field to inspect her severely beaten Pokémon. Admittedly, her Pokémon had both been defeated in fairly atypically violent ways; a side-effect of battling dragons she assumed. Satisfied she would pull through but saddened by the fact that she had been forced to endure that after such a resounding success in taking out Druddigon, Bianca recalled her starter and solemnly returned to her side of the field. It would necessarily be Crobat versus Zweilous now; Bianca was worried that without her type advantage, the match would end in defeat so close to victory however. Her shiny would have to really come through for her now.

    “Zweilous.” Drayden barked sternly. His sharp tone stirred Bianca from her worried daydream. The dark, malicious dragon emerged from its ball and began looking around for an opponent; Bianca drew her own final Pokéball and supplied one.

    “Come on out, Crobat. You’re my last chance.” she said nervously. Crobat burst out of the ball with confident, commanding energy however, spreading all four wings proudly and in style. He wasn’t afraid of Drayden’s Zweilous in the least; he was going to win this for his trainer, and nothing would slow him down.

    “Well! Look who got bigger since last time!” Iris said, sounding impressed. “All ready?” she asked, eyeing Zweilous nervously. Both sides confirmed however and she began the final round.

    “Cross Poison, Crobat!” Bianca shouted, opting for the David technique.

    “Zweilous, attack command alpha. Use Dragon Pulse.” Drayden counter-commanded sternly. The Zweilous once again appeared to hesitate as it considered defiance, but Drayden’s months of strict training paid off for at least one more time. While Crobat’s attack was a physical one and would require contact, Zweilous would be able to shoot its beam from range, and two at a time as David had learned. Crobat immediately began flying fast.

    The Bat Pokémon weaved and spun as it tried to cross the distance between himself and his opponent. His dash looked like a war-era pilot trying to swiftly dodge artillery fire. A few hits came close, but Crobat evaded. On the home stretch, Crobat was forced to make a beeline towards his target to strike. Zweilous thought it had him then, but Crobat expertly pulled out of it at the last minute, swiping at his opponent with his lower wings and using the upper ones to fly. The attack struck for good neutral damage and hurt the Hostile Pokémon respectably, but Bianca got a truly lucky break by something else the attack had managed to do. Striking in just the right way, Crobat had managed to knick his opponent such that some of the dripping, glistening poison that coated the attack managed to get inside the small wound in the dragon’s tough hide. A poison condition would plague Zweilous for the rest of the match, making this a matter of surviving the stall for Bianca now. Drayden scowled as his Zweilous coughed violently.

    “Gah, no! Zweilous, enough games! Attack command beta, now!” the Gym Leader snapped. Zweilous was on exactly the same page however. Enraged at being outpaced by the speedier opponent and struck so cleanly by the counterattack, the two heads roared terribly in unison as a dark, soul-sucking black energy began to radiate from them. The attack began to flow like water and fill the entire room: Dark Pulse. Crobat had nowhere to run.

    “Crobat, try to fly outsi-” Bianca tried to instruct, but it was too little too late. The attack caught Crobat before he could get to the open and free air outside, sending him into a tailspin from his otherwise lightning-fast flight. While still falling however, Drayden pressed his temporary advantage.

    “Now follow it up, Zweilous. Attack command delta; Dragon Rush!” he barked. The Zweilous immediately cut the attack and began running. Using the speed to build up momentum for flight, the Hostile Pokémon leapt into the air and struck Crobat on his descent. The incredibly powerful tackle sent him careening into a pillar. He screeched in pain and slid to the base, nearly out and unmoving. He opened his eyes and indicated he had more, but the Zweilous had only to fire a single Dragon Pulse to finish him off; it was looking like David’s win had been a one-off.

    Drayden was just one attack from winning, and his opponent was next to helpless. Zweilous slowed itself from the momentum of its rush and hovered over to face its opponent. A wicked grin was beginning to line one head, while the other was beginning to get distracted. Drayden knew he had to keep them focused; he gave his last command.

    “I just need ten more seconds, Zweilous. Attack command alpha; Dragon Pulse.” he said warily. The Zweilous found its interest re-peaked at the thought of finishing off an opponent, but as one head drew breath to fire the blast, the other head coughed; the poison was taking effect.

    Minor as it was, Crobat and Bianca both capitalized on the temporary advantage. Crobat quickly shook off his disorientation and prepared for one last effort to defend himself.

    “Confuse Ray, quick!” Bianca shouted. As the Zweilous snapped back to attention, Crobat’s eyes began to shimmer.

    A screech filled the air. A mysterious, dazzling light shone from Crobat’s eyes, but it reflected and amplified itself in the shimmer of his shiny body. The trippy lights momentarily blinded Zweilous and the Dragon Pulse went wild, harmlessly striking a wall. Crobat quickly rose and zipped away while the Zweilous began plummeting to the ground. Landing and trying to regain its senses, the poison continued to take effect.

    “No, no, no! Zweilous, control yourself, damn it!” Drayden shouted angrily. Bianca had gotten her lucky break though; she had to once again press the advantage.

    “Crobat, Fly! Go!” she shrieked. Crobat was still severely wounded and was flying markedly slower than usual, but he still shot high into the sky at his trainer’s command. Reaching the open air outside the Gym, the Bat Pokémon took careful aim at the flailing Zweilous as it tried to clear its eyes. Lining up the shot, her Crobat sailed forward like an arrow to deliver what would be the finishing blow. He didn’t flap his wings and he didn’t try to control himself; Crobat soared into a headlong charge with grit and determination lining his clenched fangs. At the last moment, he pulled up and raked his opponent with his secondary wings to prevent hurting himself. Snapping the Zweilous from its confusion but sending it harshly across the field, it wobbled about for a moment before collapsing and succumbing to poison damage. Crobat was tired and hurting, but in her hour of need, he had come through for his trainer; Bianca had won too.

    GOOOO CROBAT!” she shrieked. The Bat Pokémon tiredly slowed itself and flew towards her, embracing his trainer with all four wings. Collapsing from exhaustion, Bianca supported his weight enough to help him gently land on his back. Iris smiled and announced a winner.

    “Zweilous is unable to battle. Bianca wins!” she announced proudly. Bianca screamed a second time at official confirmation of her feat; she would be joining David in the Pokémon League Championships.

    Drayden once again merely sighed. He recalled his Pokémon and went to fetch a badge. David had been excited and proud during his very close win, but he had restrained it; no such restraint came from Bianca however. As her applauding friends joined her on the field, her first act after victory was to embrace David. Following this however, she ran to Drayden as he returned and proudly accepted her badge. Her unbridled excitement was overflowing. It was perhaps not the most professional or self-controlled of displays, but it was deserved. Bianca had earned her spot in the League Championships and had won her Legend Badge. Crobat gave a tired screech of pride and relief.

    * * *

    It was early afternoon now and the final match of the day had come. Waiting, watching and learning from David and Bianca’s battles, Cheren’s analytic mind was ready to earn his own badge against the Spartan Mayor. His strategy would be the same one that had served him so well since Mistralton; the Dragon-type master was about to be the first person to truly challenge him on it though. The trainers took the field and Iris took up her place.

    “Both trainers ready?” she asked. Drayden folded his arms and stared at Cheren intently; Cheren did his best to return the look.

    “Release your opening Pokémon!” Iris continued; Drayden and Cheren did so at the same time.

    “Fraxure.” Drayden said. He was choosing to lead the same way he previously had, but not without reason. He was better at reading Cheren than the young trainer realized.

    “Go Umbreon.” Cheren announced himself. The Moonlight Pokémon emerged and sized up the room, but he was already psyching himself up in his mind for the opening command he knew Cheren would give. Iris checked both trainers and then called for the start of the match.

    “Begin!” she cried.

    Cheren led in the same way he had since Mistralton. “Umbreon, Work Up.” he said almost disinterestedly. Umbreon began strengthening himself, but Drayden had been expecting it; he could read it in Cheren’s demeanor.

    “Taunt, Fraxure.” he counter-commanded levelly. Fraxure pulled the same mind-trick that he had on Bianca’s own Fraxure, mocking his opponent physically with great success. Umbreon had managed to complete one full Work Up, but it was nowhere near the usual six he got before Baton Passing to Aerodactyl. Unfortunately, both Work Up and Baton Pass were blocked by the Taunt. Umbreon was angered and wanted to attack, but his only attacking move anymore was Faint Attack. Cheren’s seemingly unbeatable strategy had been stopped cold.

    Damn…” Cheren thought to himself. “Maybe I can stall out the Taunt though. Umbreon, Faint Attack!” he commanded. Umbreon was hitting harder than he normally would have, but it was still not much. He ran at full tilt towards his opponent and struck hard, but it was nowhere near the relative power he had wielded with Adaptability before evolving. It also worked less well than usual because Umbreon couldn’t feign having fainted. All things considered, the attack was nothing more than a light tap against the Fraxure; more troubling however, it gave Drayden’s Pokémon a perfect window of opportunity strike back.

    “Now Dual Chop, Fraxure.” Drayden counter-commanded. As Umbreon tried to back away from his tackle, Drayden’s Fraxure twisted its neck and lashed out with a mighty swipe. Umbreon’s good bulk allowed it to tank the first hit, but the second pushed him away. Umbreon was reduced to about half of his total health, but “stalling out the Taunt” was quickly losing its appeal. Cheren had no other choice but to recall his Pokémon.

    “Umbreon, return.” he said solemnly, raising his Pokémon’s ball and calling him back to it. While it was a perfectly legitimate thing to do, the action surprised David and Bianca for some reason. Drayden seemed unfazed on the outside, but he too had secretly expected Cheren to stand and fight. On the contrary however, Cheren recognized Umbreon’s vitally important support role within the team and knew he had to keep him safe. Aerodactyl was the one who always swept, but he did so thanks to Umbreon’s contribution. This battle, the Fossil Pokémon would have to go it alone.

    “Aerodactyl, come out.” Cheren said, trying to mask his nervous apprehension. It had been a fairly decent chunk of time since Aerodactyl had had to battle without Baton Passed Work Ups; Cheren was curious to see how he would stand up under his own power. The battle continued.

    “Aerodactyl, use Stealth Rock!” Cheren commanded. Aerodactyl began raising the jagged patch of stone on Drayden’s side of the field, but Fraxure was already ahead of the danger zone and had his own command to follow.

    “Don’t let it set up, Fraxure. Taunt again.” Drayden stated sternly. Just like it had against his other opponents, the Fraxure began mocking Aerodactyl and sending him into a frenzy. This was what Cheren had been hoping for however. By leading with Stealth Rock, he had tricked Drayden into thinking he would be using more set-up moves and had netted a pseudo-boost in the form of the Taunt. It wasn’t Umbreon’s Work Ups, but Aerodactyl’s anger over the Taunt was better than nothing.

    “Haha! Fly, Aerodactyl!” Cheren shouted triumphantly. His apprehension had left him; Aerodactyl viciously soared in towards his opponent, screaming an ear-shattering screech as he went. Fraxure was a decently bulky Pokémon, but Aerodactyl was every bit as powerful and more. The attack struck cleanly as Fraxure tried to defend himself and did critical damage. Fraxure was flung on his back onto the patch of sharp, raised stones; he was taken down by just the one hit. Aerodactyl flipped back around and flew back to Cheren; he had won the first round, albeit in a somewhat roundabout way.

    “Fraxure is unable to battle; round one goes to Cheren.” Iris announced. Fraxure had now been defeated by all three trainers; it was the last of him they would see that day. Drayden now turned to his bulkier option as a means of crushing the ancient stone bird.

    “Druddigon.” he barked, clenching his fists as he tossed the ball towards the Stealth Rock. Druddigon emerged and entered the field, but he was immediately impaled by the sharp stones. It did some damage, but oddly enough, it actually made Druddigon smile. Iris started the round, but Drayden gave his opening command immediately after that.

    “Begin!” Iris shouted.

    “Druddigon, move now! Revenge!” he shouted. Though it had been passive damage in the form of an entry hazard, Druddigon had technically taken damage that originated with Aerodactyl and was therefore primed for a boosted Revenge attack. The Cave Pokémon rose from the stones and began soaring in towards his opponent immediately upon joining the battle.

    Wait… that’s not really how that works, is–” Cheren thought to himself. His moment of indecision in his wandering mind had cost him however; Druddigon’s speed was greater than he remembered it being. Sailing in and delivering a swift and powerful punch, the Fighting-type attack struck Aerodactyl’s Rock-type side harshly and sent the Fossil Pokémon into a tailspin. Aerodactyl landed on the ground below and took the small, necessary bit of damage remaining to KO him. Cheren’s jaw dropped as he saw his sweeper defeated; he silently recalled him, but his strategy was quickly going south.

    “Aerodactyl is unable to battle; round two goes to Drayden.” Iris shouted. Cheren was sullen; he was starting to wish he had taken his friends’ advice about relying on more of his team than just Aerodactyl. Victory was starting to look somewhat distant to him with the Fossil Pokémon gone.

    Cheren considered his options. Drayden’s Fraxure was taken care of, but Aerodactyl had not managed to land a hit against Druddigon before getting defeated himself, save for the Stealth Rock damage, which had been minor. There was also his Zweilous he would need to take care of, but its typing made it resistant to both of Gus’ attacks and effective offensively against the Ghost. He could either send Umbreon back out and try to Baton Pass into Gus, or he could send Gus out now and hope Umbreon could finish off the Zweilous if worst came to worst. Fearing Gus would be ineffective against the Dark-type Zweilous even with the boosts, he opted for the latter option.

    “Gus, you’re up, buddy.” he said nervously. The Coffin Pokémon emerged and looked every bit as confident and menacing as the Cave Pokémon opposite him, but it was admittedly the first time he had been in a battle of any real significance in quite a while. Cheren was worried whether he still had what it took to win. Iris began the round.

    Alright… first things first. Let’s shore up his defenses…” Cheren thought to himself. “Will-o-wisp, Gus!” he commanded. Small, flickering orbs of blue fire began to materialize around the ancient prince. They grew in size until they were a bit smaller than baseballs. When the attack was ready, Gus launched them in a fluid wave towards his Dragon-type opponent. Drayden called for his Pokémon to evade, but this was no ordinary fire. Gus was able to bend the wisps from afar and direct them towards his target; Druddigon was unable to escape. His scaly wings were singed and he received a burn; the Cave Pokémon was forced to land as the passing air was too painful on his wings. Cheren was beginning to build an offensive.

    Right… now to attack.” he thought again. Drayden was preoccupied trying to get his Druddigon mobile again. Cheren called for a Shadow Ball attack which struck his opponent cleanly in the back. Druddigon cried out in pain as the bundle of ghostly energy soaked in between his shoulder blades. The dragon fell forward from the brunt of the attack, but he wasn’t quite out yet.

    “Druddigon, you’ve got to attack back, damn it! Dragon Claw!” Drayden yelled. Druddigon valiantly pushed himself back up and tried to fly back into the air, but it was a terribly strained and painful effort. The burns he had suffered from the Will-o-wisp happened to fall on his wings. The strong air currents blowing over the afflicted skin aggravated it and simply served to intensify the pain. Druddigon was still not down, but he was effectively immobilized; Drayden chose to end it early.

    “Iris, I concede the round. End it.” he said sternly. Iris was a bit taken aback by the decision, but she respected it.

    “Druddigon is unable to battle; round three goes to Cheren.” she ruled. Drayden recalled his Pokémon and put it out of its misery early. He was a strict trainer, but he wasn’t without compassion. Druddigon had done a valiant job; there was no sense in prolonging its suffering.

    Things were starting to look better for Cheren again. Gus was still perfectly healthy going into what would be either the last or second to last round, but the fact still remained that Zweilous would have a type advantage over him. Gus could try to win one-on-one, but more likely, he would have to soften the Zweilous up for Umbreon to actually take down. With Umbreon on half health following Fraxure’s one successful Dual Chop however, that was possibly asking too much.

    “Well, it comes down to this, boy. Can you defeat my Zweilous as well?” Drayden asked. Cheren remained stoically silent; Drayden smiled and released the Pokémon.

    “Zweilous, one more time.” he said sternly. The Hostile Pokémon emerged from its Pokéball, albeit much less ceremoniously the third time as it fell into the Stealth Rock than it had the first. Even factoring in the slight damage from the entry hazard however, it stared its opponent down with supreme confidence. The Zweilous knew it had a type advantage; even if it didn’t however, it reveled in the opportunity for the combat. Iris began the round.

    “Begin!” she exclaimed.

    “You’ve got one shot at this, Gus. Use Nasty Plot, quickly!” Cheren commanded. Gus closed his eyes and grinned a little wider, but Drayden was also wasting no time pressing his advantage.

    “Zweilous, attack command beta; Dark Pulse.” he commanded. Black smoke was now billowing out of Gus’ casket, but he was cutting it close. Zweilous’ two heads both opened their mouths and the same dark energy that had struck Crobat so harshly in the previous match began to emanate out. It was moving quicker now than it had appeared to against Bianca; Gus was just finishing the Nasty Plot, but Cheren knew he wouldn’t have time for another.

    “No more time, Gus. Attack now! Shadow Ball!” Cheren stammered. Gus collected some of the remaining smoke and used it to strengthen his Shadow Ball, but it would be resisted by his Dark-type opponent regardless. The Coffin Pokémon took aim and hurdled the bundle with all four arms at his opponent, but the radiating wave of darkness just then found its mark. Gus was KO’d instantly, but his sacrifice was not without cause. Passing through the continuing stream of black, the Shadow Ball flew silently and struck the Hostile Pokémon for decent damage. It was a Ghost-type attack against a Dark-type Pokémon, so it necessarily had a type disadvantage, but the boost from Nasty Plot helped considerably. Zweilous took somewhere in the range of just over half its health in damage from the attack; sizable to be certain, but possibly not enough for Umbreon to safely come in on and finish off. Regardless however, Gus had been unable to withstand the fearsome Dark Pulse and had fallen, ending the current round.

    “Cofagrigus is unable to battle; round four goes to Drayden.” Iris announced. Cheren recalled his Pokémon somberly and prepared himself mentally to try and have Umbreon finish off the battle. They were both at just about half of their maximum health remaining, but Zweilous was designed to be an attacker. Umbreon would be hard-pressed to actually net the KO.

    “Cheren has to rely on what he’s basically just turned into a support Pokémon now to actually beat that thing.” David murmured to Bianca.

    “He must have known this day would come eventually. That his Baton Passing strategy would eventually fail.” she replied.

    “Or if he didn’t, it speaks volumes to his confidence.” David continued.

    Cheren drew his starter Pokémon’s Pokéball. He looked at the dull shine that flashed across it and held it a little tighter. There was no great strategy anymore; no plan beyond “boost and attack.” Umbreon would have to just try and net as many Work Ups for himself as he could, and then try to win with one final Faint Attack as a last ditch effort. If it worked, he would win, and if it didn’t, he would lose; it was purely as simple as that. He tossed the ball without saying a word.

    Iris checked on both trainers. Zweilous and Umbreon were both damaged, but were both still raring to go. It had come down to a Dark-type versus a Dark-type; it somehow seemed fitting to Cheren that his last Unova region Gym battle would be decided so. When she had confirmed that both trainers were ready, Iris called for the final round to begin.

    First things first…” Cheren thought to himself. “Wish, Umbreon!” he commanded. Umbreon sat on his hind legs and looked up into the sky. His many golden rings began to pulsate and glow as his eyes glazed over. A wave of bright energy radiated off of his body and flew out into the ether, but it had no visible effect on the battle just yet. He then rose again, having secured himself a little more time.

    Drayden had allowed his opponent a chance at an opening salvo. He wanted to win and he wanted to uphold the integrity of the Gym, but he also understood the importance this particular set of challenges held. He was ready to go back on the offensive now and gave his Pokémon an attacking command.

    “Zweilous, attack command alpha; Dragon Pulse.” he murmured. The Zweilous snarled with pleasure and began charging with both mouths. The swirling, light-blue energy began to build as Umbreon shook himself from his self-imposed stupor.

    “Good, Umbreon, now just Work Up; standing order.” Cheren said. He was trying his best to mask it, but there was distinct nervousness in his voice. Umbreon stood back up, but then hunched over like he was ready to pounce on something. He began growling and barking to build up strength, but the Zweilous’ Dragon Pulse finished charging just then.

    “Fire!” Drayden commanded. The left-side mouth launched its shot and blasted Umbreon dead on, but the attack did not uproot the Moonlight Pokémon from his position. It would have hurt a fellow Dragon-type or something less defensive pretty badly, but Umbreon took the hit like a brick wall thanks to his colossal special defenses. He brushed it off and kept boosting, but unfortunately, Zweilous was no standard attacker. As the left head’s attack finished, the right-side one launched its own Dragon Pulse. It was no more or less powerful than the left’s, but the continuing volley took Umbreon by surprise. The left head began charging another as the right side finished; the Zweilous would be able to continually pepper Umbreon unless the Moonlight Pokémon attacked back.

    After taking the nearly unending barrage for close to half a minute, Umbreon was finally forced to take a knee. He had completed three Work Ups by now and was certainly feeling ready to attack, but Cheren wasn’t sure if it would be enough yet. Luckily, to mitigate his fears for the time being, Umbreon’s Wish came back just then and bombarded the small fox with a healing salvo. Umbreon was restored to just about as much strength as he had had at the start of the round, giving him a second wind to keep using Work Up, but the Zweilous was perfectly content to continue its sniping. Wish had only bought Cheren some time; the distinct possibility still existed that Cheren could lose.

    It had been almost a minute by now since either trainer had last spoken. Umbreon had now completed six successful Work Ups, but the Zweilous had burned through nearly all of the added health Wish restored. Umbreon was once again growing faint, though he was in a veritable frenzy from all of his boosts. He was ready to attack, and Cheren knew it, but he would have to perform Faint Attack convincingly. For that to happen, Umbreon would have to fake going down, which meant he had to keep enduring the Dragon Pulses right up until the point of exhaustion. It pained him to watch his starter being hurt so, but it was the only way. Finally the torment ended and Umbreon collapsed from exhaustion. He was breathing heavily and flitting his eyes open and closed, but to the Zweilous with its poor eyesight, it appeared as if he had won. The Hostile Pokémon ceased its shelling and roared in unison fiercely.

    Okay… almost time now…” Cheren thought to himself. “Umbreon knows what to do. I have no part in this anymore; it’s up to fate.” he continued. He crossed his fingers and held his breath.

    Drayden recalled how Umbreon had attacked his Fraxure earlier in the match. He had surmised what Cheren was intending to do, but the Zweilous was not so observant. The Hostile Pokémon wanted to inspect its prey; Drayden recognized this and called out to it.

    “Zweilous, no! Don’t fall for it!” he barked sternly. The Zweilous was showing defiance however. “It’s a trick; stay away from it. Use one final Dragon Pulse; that’s an order!” he continued. The Zweilous wasn’t hearing it anymore though. Three full matches of obedience was enough; the species was a defiant one, and sometimes all the discipline and strict command in the world wasn’t enough to control one. It began shuffling in towards Umbreon’s battered form, licking its chops as it went.

    That’s right you big ogre… come get some…” Cheren continued to think. Drayden was becoming agitated as he watched his Pokémon walk into a trap.

    “Zweilous, no!” he yelled. “Come back here, now! Attack command alpha; follow orders.” He barked. The Zweilous was gone by now though. It approached Umbreon and lowered one head to inspect it. The snarling, menacing beast put one of its faces right next to his seemingly lifeless opponent, sniffing carefully for any signs of movement. To its surprise however, it got one in a bigger way than it expected.

    “FAINT ATTACK!!” Cheren screamed. Umbreon had faked the attack perfectly. He leapt up before the Zweilous could even comprehend what Cheren had said and began voraciously attacking its face. Claws flew and wild screams sounded. The Zweilous reared back and fell over on its small wings, trying desperately to get Umbreon off. The two heads began flailing their necks to try and shake Umbreon free, but the tenacious fox was firing off of six full Work Ups to give him increased power. Zweilous roared in pain and surprise before finally collapsing completely; Umbreon gave one final swipe of his claws before disengaging and backing away. Zweilous was down, but Umbreon was too. The effort exerted from his final rampage left him without strength. He collapsed from exhaustion, but not before Iris declared the winner.

    “Zweilous is unable to battle. Cheren is the winner!” she screamed. Cheren let the words wash over him. Beyond all odds, with his tried-and-true strategy halted right out of the gate, he had improvised and still managed to net the win. Aerodactyl and Gus had done terrific work, but the real star of the show was Umbreon. Cheren had been raising his starter to purely play a support role for months now; in one battle, Umbreon had proven to Cheren that he still had more than just support to offer. Cheren felt a newfound sense of respect for his first Pokémon as he approached the exhausted fox and picked him up in his arms. Umbreon fluttered open his eyes and looked up at Cheren’s own. He uttered a single soft, cat-like purr before finally going limp. Cheren held him and smiled at his little Baton Passer. He had to correct himself though; his sweeper, Umbreon.

    * * *

    It was late afternoon by the time the group left the Gym. Drayden had gone on to award Cheren with his own Legend Badge, thereby completing the trifecta. All three trainers had now earned the full set of Unova region Gym Badges, each owning eight a piece. The Legend Badge completed their collection, but there was more significance to it than just that.

    “Well kids, you all battled expertly today. I have no fear that that man N will succeed anymore.” Drayden congratulated them as they walked to the entrance of the Gym. “More than just that though, you all battled with mastery. Now, the legendary dragons aside, you have all earned the right to prove the title.” he continued. From his back pocket he produced three envelopes, each adorned with a classical-style red wax seal. He handed one to each of them and cleared his throat. He continued to speak, but now with a much more official sounding tone.

    “As the League sanctioned Gym Leader of Opelucid City, by endowing the person named in this letter with the decoration of the Legend Badge, you are officially invited to complete in the Pokémon League Championship tournament to be held next month at the Elite Four’s Pavilion at the head of Victory Road on Route 10. If you accept, you shall be facing other invitees in a single-elimination tournament for the right to challenge the Elite Four and earn the official title of Pokémon Master. Do you accept?” he said. The three of them beamed more widely than they ever had at the news in his speech. It was something they had always dreamed they would hear, but never imagined would be real.

    “I do.” David said, stepping forward first.

    “I do too.” Cheren continued.

    “Me three!” Bianca exclaimed excitedly. She was markedly less restrained than David and Cheren were, but understandably so. Drayden nodded and drew three final items from his pocket. They were Pokéballs of some sort, but they were a different color than normal. He expanded them and presented one to each of the entrants.

    “Very good. Then as officially recognized entrants to a Pokémon League Championship tournament, I must also present you with these Master Balls. They are the ultimate Pokéball and will catch any wild Pokémon without fail. They are only presented to those who have earned their way into a League sanctioned tournament, and must not be used lightly. This technology will never be put on the open market. It is only presented to trainers who the League knows will not use them recklessly. One for each of you; use them wisely” he explained. Each trainer took a ball and thanked him gratefully.

    The winter sun was already beginning to set over the city; so too was their career as novice trainers however. All eight Unova region Gym Leaders had now fallen to the group’s three teams. Every young trainer dreamed of entering the Pokémon League Championships and vying for a chance to fight the Champion, but only a fraction of a percent actually ever made it that far. Even putting everything with Team Plasma for David and Giratina for Cheren aside, that fact alone made them extraordinary trainers in the literal sense. The group would return to the Pokémon Center for their last night in Opelucid, but when the morning came, they would head north onto Route 10 towards Victory Road and the Elite Four. Their journey as wandering trainers had now come to an end, but their journey as candidates for Pokémon Mastery was just getting started.

  9. #259
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    Wonderful chapter, and I think you did a much better job of differenctiating the matches. Having Cheren's character helped too, and I know for a fact that you would have retconned my original entry, but that's alright as it was due to be done in story anyway. (Perhaps I shall rewrite the way I had it and change the character's name... shh, don't tell Chaos I'm cheating the "fanfic char rule"...)

    One minor gripe though: Druddigon cannot fly. Their wings are more like solar panels than for flight. They are fast creatures, so only part of that math falls apart, and they probably have enough leg strength to jump with and their wings might be good enough to glide or "fall with style" on, but to actually flap out of the way they cannot. I know, I was dissapointed when I found that out, as Druddy is one of my favorite dragons.
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  10. #260
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    Wow. These battles were really great and I was glad to see Cheren and Bianca battle on-screen. I was kind of surprised that most of the rounds ended in 1-3 hits. I would definitely want to see Galvantula's Thunder O_O

    All in all, amazing chapter yet again. I have to compliment you on the fact that you put a lot of effort into your story, you can easily see it because you can't fit one chapter in a post!

    May I be added to the PM list?

    -Shale

  11. #261
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    I'm going to go against the grain this chapter.

    I thought it was awesome. Wait, what? haha

    No, it was a great chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't have a good transition into my normal way of rating, so I'm going to jump right into it. Well, after I state that this is one of my favorite chapters, and probably my favorite Gym Battles.

    1.) There was a bit of odd repetition while describing Druddigon's staggard flying during David's battle. You use the exact same phrase in two paragraphs almost back to back. I'm pretty sure that was something that you hadn't noticed while writing, so I'm not going to be too picky about it. Or I'm just weird and I thought it was repetitive. :/

    Druddigon heroically and painstakingly rose once more and began beating his wings to take to the skies, but his paralysis was beginning to take hold. He got into the air, but it was a strained effort.
    “Paula, use Psychic!” David commanded preemptively. Though the surprise paralysis was a welcomed blessing, he didn’t want to chance a loss while the physically-inclined Druddigon could still land a blow against his defensively frail Gardevoir. Paula’s horn began to glow bright white as she launched the blast of telekinesis. Druddigon had managed to get into the air, but it was a terribly strained effort.
    The rest was pretty good though. I didn't look hard enough to find any other typos, or anything.
    2.) Characterization in this chapter was really good. I really got Iris trying to keep her inner wild-child in to be official for her match. Drayden's Spartan Mayor was exemplified very well too. Bianca was very in-character when she won her battle, while Cheren's battle really brought out his more sentimental side while sticking to his cold, hard, calculating nature. And David's aloofness/Ash-like strategy making (I mean no offense by this) rang loud and true.
    3.) The battle scenes. I am truly amazed at how much improvement you've made in your battle scenes. I feel like I say this every battle chapter, but it's true. In hand with 2's comment on characterization, I could really feel the personality of each Pokemon in battle, barring Gus I think. Everyone's personalities all really came out.
    4.) I actually got really... Intense feelings while reading the battles. Like I was there, or at the very least watching. It was a really well written battle.

    That's pretty much it. It was so good! I'm also glad I waited a little bit to send in my character; now I have more of Cheren to contemplate. IT WILL BE SENT IN! I just want it to actually be good. hahah

    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!!
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    Guess who claimed Luxray?!

  12. #262
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    Hello there! I was told about your story and figured I'd read and review. Now, I haven't had a chance to read anything yet, so I'll just start at the first chapter. Hopefully any tips I give you could impact any future edits or rewrites while I get to your last chapter. I won't be pointing out everything, because it's a pretty long story, but I hope that what I do point out will somehow help. Cheers!

    Prologue.

    Shouts and cheers rang throughout the city as the battle fiercely raged on.
    I think this sentence is a bit awkward. I would either say 'as the fierce battle raged on' or 'the battle raged on fiercely'.

    Down on the field, at the epicenter of this cacophony of noise, tension and excitement, stood two lone trainers and two fearsome beasts.
    I read this sentence the first time and stumbled over the use of commas. Changing the comma to be behind 'excitement' means that 'noise, tension and excitement' become one, connected fragment. As result you can also remove the comma behind 'trainers'.

    “…yeah huh I can,” the boy said calmly after a pause, awakening from his vivid tirade.
    I had a look at your latest chapter and saw that your issue with punctuation dialogue hasn't changed yet. While it's great that you don't capitalize when it involves a dialogue tag, you also need a comma. This is because speech verbs are involved, in this case the verb 'to say'. When this happens, the spoken sentence and the one indicating that it's spoken - 'the boy said calmly' - are connected and you this get a comma. Other example are:

    "Hey," she said.

    No," he answered.

    Notice how you get a comma? That wouldn't be the case if the sentence after it says nothing about what's been said, however.

    "Hey." She smiled.

    You can't smile a sentence, so the two aren't connected. As a result you don't get a comma and you do get a capital letter. Hope that makes sense.

    What doesn't make sense to me, though, is what exactly you mean when you say 'awaken from his vivid tirade'. How does one awaken from a tirade? Tirades are incredibly active things, I don't think 'awaken' has anything to do with it.

    At that age, he towered over his friends, which often helped make his statements and requests that much more persuasive.
    So he uses his physical appearance to get his way? That's...unfortunate. I don't think you want to present your main character that way, as it may make him come across as a bit of a bully.

    Do I think I’ll ever be battling Cheren’s Lugia, a legendary Pokémon from Johto, with a Heatran, another legendary Pokémon from Sinnoh, in the Unova Region Pokémon League Championships in front of 50,000 people?
    I think this sentence could use a bit of fiddling as well. As it stands 'another legendary pokémon from Sinnoh' makes no sense, because you haven't just mentioned a legendary from Sinnoh. You mentioned a legendary from Johto. I realize you meant that it was another legendary, but that's not what the sentence implied. Maybe use 'a' instead of 'another'. It's a bit of a run-on sentence too, so maybe you could cut it into pieces a bit instead.

    “But will we be real trainers some day and have real Pokémon battles? Yeah, totally. Those battles will probably be even more spectacular than these pretend ones even, because goddamn Cheren… won’t be able to cheat or use Aeroblast.” he appended
    So, ehm, if they're so passionate about becoming trainers, why aren't they? I'm sure I could find out in upcoming chapters, but this is something first-time readers would wonder about. Why do these three thirteen year olds who are so into pokémon and battling not have their own pokémon yet? It makes no sense to me.

    Also, you have a habit of adding a dialogue tag to every piece of dialogue you write. You don't always have to add a verb to the end of it, especially when you've already identified the speaker beforehand. Too many of them can get annoying. You can get away with just letting the sentence end.

    “Okay, that tears it.” David groaned. He stood up quickly, grabbed the pillow that was behind his back, and proceeded to beat Cheren with it unmercifully in one fluid motion.
    You said this David character was very mature, but I don't really see any evidence of that if he's this easy to rile up. Not to mention that it's a bit uncomfortable that he uses physical ways of exerting his dominance, given how much bigger and stronger he is.

    “Getting a girl to save you from a pillow?” Bianca cooed mockingly.
    Yes, because girls are weak and frail creatures who can't save anyone.

    Chapter one.

    Having turned 18 and finished school, they were now eligible to become real, League sanctioned Pokémon trainers. This was a dream that all children shared, and was a rite of passage that he, Bianca and Cheren would all take together. Children in his world attended a primary and secondary school until age 18 where they learned things like reading, mathematics, history and the sciences. Starting at age 13 however, their regular education was supplemented with classes on Pokémon theory, biology, mythology and battling strategies; these classes were taught by the resident Pokémon professor, and at age 18, when their schooling was complete, it was that professor that would give them their first Pokémon to begin their journeys with.
    Ehm, what? Is this a future!fic, or an AU, or what is this? This is not how pokémon regions are run. What in the world happened that a culture's rules changed so drastically that everything they believed in suddenly changed? This really makes no sense to me at all. Just telling us these things doesn't make them true. Canon contradicts what you just said, hugely, and I hope you have a very good reason for doing this.

    “Yep, I’ve got everything, Mom.” David replied; two mimicked responses came a moment later.
    So they all call David's mother 'Mom'? Maybe say 'two similar responses' instead of 'mimicked'. If they're truly mimicking him then that would imply they call her 'Mom' too. I'm assuming they don't.

    It was a moderately long drive to Professor Juniper’s lab.
    Why would it be a long drive when they all live in the same town? They could have walked there. Why haven't they?

    David shot him a contemptuous smile in the rear-view mirror and spoke.

    “Oi, Cheren, don’t be such a killjoy, will’ya?” David scolded. “We’re finally done with school and about to become Pokémon trainers. Do you think you can put Scrooge away for just one day?” he continued
    You're really not setting David up to be a likeable character. He tolerates annoying behaviour from Bianca, but not from Cheren. In fact, he's kind of an *** to his friend. If David is allowed to criticize Cheren's behaviour, then why shouldn't Cheren be allowed to criticize Bianca's? Cheren might not be very nice for calling her out on it, but I'd probably be annoyed too. Somehow, though, I'm more annoyed at David for being so pretentious about it.

    But there was still a bittersweet feeling to the start of the trip.
    You really shouldn't start your sentences with 'but'. Yes, I know that that particular rule isn't quite that rigid in creative writing, but in this case it's not necessary. The sentence can stand on its own perfectly fine. The 'but' isn't needed to stress anything, so I think it'd work fine as 'There was still...'

    Her voice had taken a significant and noticeable drop in volume, and she almost cooed out the words. David was instantly set ill-at-ease; his eyes opened wide and he leaned back away towards the window awkwardly. In an instant, she had gone from being naively child-like and bubbling to… what was this? Flirtatious almost? His expression went blank and he could feel his face grow warm.
    And here I was hoping against hope that there wouldn't be a romantic sub-plot. Mind you, this seems a bit sudden. I really think drawing it out a bit and dropping hints would be a better way of introducing it than dropping this anvil on us. Especially because it seems like odd timing. Bianca is incredibly excited about getting her first pokémon, why would she suddenly turn her attention to David?

    Still...ugh.

    Bianca was bouncing up and down on her heels, hands clasped in front of her chest and positively beaming with anticipation as she giggled to herself.
    I feel like this characterization of her is going to become really annoying really past. She's become a caricature of herself. Yes, Bianca is easily distracted and cheerful, but she's not a bumbling idiot who acts quite like this. She's competent enough to be a trainer and win badges. I really hope you show more of her actual personality and not just the giggling, flirty one. In canon she is a strong character. She goes off on a journey even though her father doesn't want her to. She's been raised sheltered, but bursts free and deals with the outside world remarkably well for someone who has little experience with it. It's inspiring and I don't think you're doing her any justice here.

    “I wanna go first, I wanna go first! Please please please please, Professor Juniper?!” she screamed.
    You are aware that she's supposed to be eighteen here, right? Not eight?

    “Did you know David still wets the bed- OOFH!” Cheren said with a glance towards his friend, but David silenced him with a quick jab in the arm.

    “Come, come, Cheren! This is not a time to take things lightly.” the professor half-heartedly scolded.
    More physical violence from David. Now, I have no idea what Cheren did to piss everyone off so much, but there seems a clear dislike towards him from some of the characters. Why is that? Why is it not okay to make a simple joke? I'd say Bianca's behaviour was more annoying than his.

    “Instead of the usual Unova region starters, I handpicked three species of Pokémon for you all to take, specifically chosen for you as individuals. Professor Oak’s aide bred them for me and delivered them especially for you.”
    Oh dear. I'm not very fond of this idea. Not only does it show some serious preferential treatment that shouldn't be there, it disrupts canon. I realize you want your characters to have certain characters, but it's canon that they get one of the three starters. Bending canon to your will because you want something is never a good sign and just makes me worry about the future of your characters.

    “Bianca, as requested, you can go first. Yours is the one on the left.”
    So they don't even get a choice? What if they wanted to challenge themselves by using a pokémon unlike them? What if they don't like the pokémon the professor chose for them? I know that won't happen, because that would be inconvenient, but it seems kind of rude of the professor to just assume and decide these things.

    an adorable young Pachirisu appeared
    But a pachirisu wouldn't make for a very good starter? It doesn't even evolve into anything and its attacks are poor at best. If she had to rely on it alone, she'd be in some serious trouble.

    The Pokémon popped out and materialized into the form of a spry, healthy young Eevee, its coat a polished, coffee brown in color.
    *facepalm* An eevee? Seriously? You're giving him a very rare pokémon who'd make an awful starter? Just like pachirisu eevee have horrible attacks, especially starting out. They're very difficult to train. It takes them until level 29 to learn the move bite of all things. I realize you're probably not going to stick to levels, or whatnot, but it shows how long it would take to teach eevee moves that have an impact.

    “Hello! My name is Paula, and I am a Ralts! What is your name, human?”
    *sigh* First of all, why is Oak giving away pokémon not native to his own region? And why did it have to be a psychic pokémon who can talk to its trainer? It seems an easy way out when it comes to writing its personality. 'Oh, it can talk.' I hope that isn't the case.

    “Getting back on track, these three Pokémon have been hand chosen for each of you, and I’m sure you will go farther with them than you ever could with a generic starter.”
    Which just shows how unfair this is towards all those other trainers who had to make do with these 'generic starters'.

    All children went on adventures with Pokémon when they came of age, but only a select few became Pokédex holders.
    You're making them more special by the minute. This worries me a lot.

    Anyway, this is all I have time for right now. I'll continue some other time. You do seem to really enjoy story-telling and your mechanics are pretty good. I just think the plot and characterization could use some work. Hopefully this'll be of some use.
    Last edited by Silawen; 9th March 2012 at 10:22 PM.

    Thank you, Saffire Persian, for the lovely banner.

  13. #263
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    Well, this has been up for a while, so I guess I'll give it a look.

    *deep breath* Here we go...

    Quote Originally Posted by Prologue
    I'll be honest. I know that Cheren and Bianca are, at least nominally, the same characters as they are in the games in your story. Still, though, recoloring them like this doesn't sit well with me, and the fact that your OC is a recolored version of Hilbert even more so. If he was meant to represent the character you played as, simply making him normal Hilbert with the name David would have made more sense, I think.

    “Heatran, use Magma Storm!”

    The roar of the crowd could be heard from miles away. Shouts and cheers rang throughout the city as the battle fiercely raged on. The hypnotizing aroma of popcorn and other confections drifted lazily through the air from vendors scattered in the stands. Small children cheered out of their minds for the trainers, while their parents beside them subtly suppressed smiles of their own. The gigantic stadium held more than 50,000 people, drawn from all across the region to witness the Unova Region Pokémon League Championship battle. After several days of harsh fighting and elimination, victory was within the grasp of two talented trainers. Down on the field, at the epicenter of this cacophony of noise, tension and excitement stood two lone trainers, and two fearsome beasts. This was the pinnacle of the match; the next few attacks would decide it all.

    “Lugia, quick, get out of the way!” shouted one of the trainers desperately. There was fear in his eyes, his voice quivered, and he knew he was losing. He hadn’t made it to the final battle of the League Championships by faltering at the end of his matches though; alongside his fear was determination and the will to survive and win. He knew he had to think fast; if Magma Storm hit, it would be all over.

    The Heatran lowered its head, took in a deep breath, then unleashed a torrent of fire and slag at the enormous beast opposite it with everything it had. Molten lava dripped from its mouth as the wave of heat launched forth. It braced itself against the ground and had to dig in with every one of the four hooked claws that lined each foot to keep itself from being pushed back. The enemy’s Lugia took action and started to dodge, quickly ascending into the sky; it was a desperate, losing gambit however. Higher and higher it soared, trying to simply put as much distance between itself and the vortex of flames as it could. Half a mile into the air it went, then three-quarters, then a mile, but the fire dogged it all the way. Finally, the Lugia managed to breach the clouds; it stopped for a moment, thinking perhaps that it was safe. It held position, beating its massive wings and calmly looking around at the sea of white below it for any sign of the streams. It heard nothing, saw nothing, and felt nothing; surely the Heatran couldn’t still control and aim its attack with so much distance between them, and certainly not if the cloud cover obscured its visi-

    “GAAAAW!!”

    The three swirling streams of fire burst through the clouds directly underneath the Lugia’s position. Before it could react, they sailed up past the beast’s head and ensnared it in a veritable cage of lava. The Lugia screamed deafeningly in surprise as the three streams linked and began dragging it back down to earth; it could barely even fight to try and break free against the maelstrom.

    As it fell, the lava charred and burned its majestic, legendary down and wings. The Lugia continued to shriek in shock and pain as it hurdled towards the ground; it was being dragged right towards a patch of Stealth Rock that had been set up earlier in the match. As it drew within just feet of the jagged spikes, the Heatran reared its head and quickly chomped its fangs together, terminated the stream. The Lugia smashed into the patch of Stealth Rock, being impaled and taking considerable damage. The real concern however was the continuing Magma Storm; the Diving Pokémon was still immobilized and confined to the small area within the storm, all the while taking a slow creep of residual damage from the heat of its prison.
    I'm not going to call Purple Alert here, because there are some pretty good descriptions within it (such as the description of the stadium), but did you really need five paragraphs for a single exchange of attacks? Seems a little excessive.

    The roar of the crowd in response to these actions was deafening. It was as if a solid wall of sound flowed from the stadium and struck every point in and around it. Seeing its opponent trapped, the Heatran sneered and bent forward on its front knees to strike again. The Heatran’s trainer had his opponent on the ropes; victory was nearly assured now and the people in the stands knew it. A new challenger to the Elite Four was about to be named, and he had a very good shot of making it all the way.
    This on the other hand is pretty good.

    “Wait, what?! You can’t do that, you cheater!”

    * * *

    “…yeah huh I can.” the boy said calmly after a pause, awakening from his vivid tirade.

    “No you can’t, dude, that’s bull crap! You can’t just ‘break’ Magma Storm with a stupid Aeroblast! You just don’t want to admit I out-strategied you again!” shouted his friend.

    The first boy lowered his stance. He smiled condescendingly and stared at his friend from over the rims of his glasses. “Out-strategied my ***. If we’re going to play pretend and imagine our League Championship battle, why can’t I imagine it spectacularly and make great plays?” he quipped back.

    “God, Cheren, that’s your answer to everything, isn’t it? ‘Aeroblast it away, Lugia!’” the second boy said in a mocking, flustered tone. “I cover the field in Smokescreen; you clear it with Aeroblast. I poison you with Toxic; you Aeroblast it out of your system. I bury you under a damn Rock Slide; you Aeroblast the rocks away. You just never want to admit you’ve lost, and you can’t come up with any other strategies!” he continued. Cheren laughed at his friend’s vigor and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

    “David, why can’t you just accept that Aeroblast is sweet and you can’t beat my Lugia? I’m just a more superior trainer than you, and you need to just accept that.” Cheren replied; from the corner of the room, someone else spoke up.
    These are 13-year-olds, right? Their bickering is really uncharacteristic for that age. They sound like eight-year-olds at most.

    Cheren was an odd boy; he was calm and calculating on the outside, but a regular, rambunctious, somewhat immature kid on the inside. He was medium height with a wiry form and jet black hair. He liked to act like he was cool and in charge, but as the previous exchanged had illustrated, he had his stubborn and immature streaks. He was perhaps not terribly well adjusted; at thirteen years old, he lived the phrase “act your age.”

    Bianca was a sweet, innocent young girl; she had a somewhat plump figure, short blonde hair, big blue eyes and a giant toothy smile. When she lit up and smiled, which was a fairly frequent occurrence, her friends would often joke that she looked like a Pachirisu, which just made her laugh even more. She was very beautiful for her age and she was actually already starting to fill out in many respects; her friends were oblivious to these facts however and thought of her no differently than they thought of themselves. In their naivety and youthful understanding of the world, Bianca to them was just “one of the guys.” She thought of herself no differently than she did of them either, but she was perhaps more aware of the differences than they were, given that she was the outsider in that regard.
    I've got two things to pick out here.

    One, the structures of these two paragraphs are too similar, making them feel choppy and abrupt. By itself, Cheren's would have been okay, but you should have varied your sentence structure and word usage for Bianca's.

    Second, Bianca's description makes me feel a little... uncomfortable. The way you're describing her, calling attention to her appearance in such overt detail, just doesn't feel right. I mean, do I really need to know that she's "already starting to fill out in many respects?" Just mention that she has a full figure or something, there really is no need to go this in-depth on the body of a thirteen-year-old girl.

    Also, remarking that she looks like a Pachirisu - a squirrel - is pretty vulgar.

    David was the last member of the group and its de facto leader. Despite how the previous exchange might have made him seem, most of the time he was by far the most mature; he was very adult-like for his age, his mind and his spirit far exceeding his body in years. He was stoic and tall with dark brown hair sitting upon his head in a loose mop. He struck an imposing figure, built like an Ursaring or a Beartic. At that age, he towered over his friends, which often helped make his statements and requests that much more persuasive. Despite this, Cheren knew just how to push his buttons, and knew just when to act defiant to screw with his older friend; for instance, calling out Aeroblast when things weren’t going his way.

    “Aww, that’s no fun, David. I wanted a REAL ending!” Bianca pouted. “That battle was so spectacular and vivid; I want to see it in real life. Do you think that’ll ever happen?” she continued.

    “Do I think I’ll ever be battling Cheren’s Lugia, a legendary Pokémon from Johto, with a Heatran, another legendary Pokémon from Sinnoh, in the Unova Region Pokémon League Championships in front of 50,000 people?” David asked sarcastically, settling back down against the side of the bed. “No, probably not.” he continued with a laugh. “But will we be real trainers some day and have real Pokémon battles? Yeah, totally. Those battles will probably be even more spectacular than these pretend ones even, because goddamn Cheren… won’t be able to cheat or use Aeroblast.” he appended, looking over at Cheren from across the room as he singled him out. Cheren grinned again and turned up his nose, folding his arms and closing his eyes smugly.

    “Aeroblast is so legit, I’ll go out to Johto someday and catch a Lugia, just so I can use that move.” Cheren quipped back, now just trying to provoke his friend; David sighed

    “Okay, that tears it.” David groaned. He stood up quickly, grabbed the pillow that was behind his back, and proceeded to beat Cheren with it unmercifully in one fluid motion.
    I would hope that you're able to turn this character around, because right now, I'm not sure just what it is about him that is supposed to make me like him. Getting the readers to like or at least sympathize with your main character is extremely important, and right now, I just see an angry, brooding teenager who fights with his friend.

    The three of them all laughed. That night, as sleep washed over them, they each dreamt of their future adventures as real Pokémon Trainers. It would be an epic journey, and it would bring them at times closer, and at other times farther, than they had ever dreamed possible. It would be one filled with grand battles, budding and eventually maturing love, and fulfillment of a dark and ancient prophecy that would see the reawakening of the two most destructive forces the region, if not the world, had ever seen. It was still five years off though and they were yet just children; sleep came to them, and so did they dream…
    One, I'm not so sure that telling us so much of what to expect in the rest of the story was a good idea. It takes away a lot of surprise we could get from new developments.

    Two... you just admitted Bianca's a child here. After sexualizing her earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chapter 1

    “Alright, Mom, I’ll be down in just a minute!” David shouted back. He was gathering all the essentials and gear for the start of his Pokémon journey. It had been 5 years since their pretend battle at the League Championships, and he and his friends were now adults. Having turned 18 and finished school, they were now eligible to become real, League sanctioned Pokémon trainers. This was a dream that all children shared, and was a rite of passage that he, Bianca and Cheren would all take together. Children in his world attended a primary and secondary school until age 18 where they learned things like reading, mathematics, history and the sciences. Starting at age 13 however, their regular education was supplemented with classes on Pokémon theory, biology, mythology and battling strategies; these classes were taught by the resident Pokémon professor, and at age 18, when their schooling was complete, it was that professor that would give them their first Pokémon to begin their journeys with. Pokémon journeys lasted as long as the adventurer saw fit. Typically they lasted for only a few years, taking the place of a traditional college experience, and then they would return to civilization in pursuit of a career; some trainers however made battling their career.
    There are some interesting ideas here, but I'm not really feeling yet just why it is the case that the age is 18 instead of 10. It just feels like a completely arbitrary change made for no real reason. I do like the elaboration on their curriculum, though. That's an interesting idea.

    “Eeeeeeeeh! David David David David David EEEEEEH! We’re going to be real Pokémon trainers! This is so exciting!” Bianca squealed as he walked down the stairs to greet them. “We’re going to have real Pokémon and go on adventures and have lots of battles and see lots of places and and and-”

    “Bianca!” Cheren said sharply. “Please, you’re going to give me a goddamn migraine…” he continued, turning away and holding his temple.

    “Oh lighten up, Princess, let her have her moment.” David said back with a smirk. “I’m excited too, just… not as… ‘vocal,’ about it as she is.”

    “David, did you get everything you’re going to need?” David’s mother asked soothingly as she entered the room. “How about you two, need any last minute supplies?” she asked Bianca and Cheren.

    “Yep, I’ve got everything, Mom.” David replied; two mimicked responses came a moment later.
    Okay, they're eighteen now, and Bianca is still acting like this? I get that being absentminded is part of her canonical character, but you're really exaggerating it here, and at the age of eighteen, she should be at least a bit more levelheaded than this.

    I'm still not liking David's attitude toward Cheren. Did something happen in the past between them that caused him to seemingly hate Cheren so much? If I was Cheren, I don't think I'd want to hang out with him.

    Bianca was bouncing up and down in her seat like a child on a sugar rush, her hands clasped on her skirt and grinning a big, toothy grin. She was totally oblivious to her surroundings, only interested in the prospects that lay before her.
    So far, your depiction of Bianca has been really one-dimensional and shallow, and this line really seals it. Isn't there more to her than this?

    “This is so exciting, isn’t it, David?!” she said in an overtly feminine tone. As she said this, she moved suddenly and grasped both of his hands in hers. She brought them up to collarbone level and spoke again in a noticeably softer voice “We’re going to make great trainers, David, I know it! Don’t you think so too?”

    Her voice had taken a significant and noticeable drop in volume, and she almost cooed out the words. David was instantly set ill-at-ease; his eyes opened wide and he leaned back away towards the window awkwardly. In an instant, she had gone from being naively child-like and bubbling to… what was this? Flirtatious almost? His expression went blank and he could feel his face grow warm.
    Romance is a challenging thing to get right. I think one of the most important things about writing a good one is to try and have an organic, well-done introduction to it, but unfortunately this is not one of those. Why has Bianca's personality suddenly changed to abruptly introduce the romance concept between her and David, for one? It's not helped by the way you're describing this, which is overly forceful in shoving us toward the direction you want us to see.

    Anyway, once again, I'm hoping something - the romance subplot in this case - picks up, because it's not off to a good start.

    The door was simple and rustic, but with a grand carving of Arceus etched above it as a tribute to her work in the origins of Pokémon. It opened a moment later; standing in the doorway, a hand on her hip and a grin on her face, was the sleek, attractive young professor, Dr. Aurea Juniper.
    Why is Arceus on her door when in Unova at this time, the region was very isolated? Reshiram, Zekrom and Kyurem would have made more sense.

    And is Juniper a doctor or a professor here?

    “Hahaha, oh alright, dear, you can go first.” she said lightly. “But before you take your Pokémon, I must explain one thing to you all first.” she continued. Bianca was already reaching for the centermost Pokéball; Professor Juniper took a long, graceful stride between her and the desk, surprising her young student with the sudden obstacle. Bianca wore a startled look and looked up at ex-teacher to explain; Professor Juniper folded her arms, resting her back on the edge of the desk, and began her explanation.

    “Normally, as beginning trainers in the Unova region, you would have a Snivy, a Tepig or an Oshawott available to you for your beginning Pokémon. Seeing as there are three of you, assuming no overlap, that would be perfect and you could each choose one for yourselves.” she began. “But I’ve known the three of you all your lives, and practically helped raise you. I’ve been friends with your families for many years and I like to think I know each of you pretty closely.” she continued.

    ...

    “Come, come, Cheren! This is not a time to take things lightly.” the professor half-heartedly scolded. “Today is a day to remember always, so it’s best to behave with some formality. Nerves are one thing…” she said, glancing at Bianca, “…but please show at least a bit of restraint.”

    ...

    “Now then… since I’ve known you all for so long, and since you are some of my favorite pupils, I’ve decided to give you a slightly different opportunity than most beginning trainers have. You all are familiar with the work of Professor Oak in Kanto, correct?” she asked; the three of them all smiled at the mention of his name and nodded in affirmation.

    “Professor Oak? Of course, everyone knows him.” Cheren answered proudly. “He’s the most famous Pokémon researcher of the last hundred years, and his radio show is broadcast all over the world from Goldenrod City.” he continued.

    “Very good, Cheren, you’ve been studying.” the professor praised him. “Well, he has a young aide named Red who he tasked many years ago with completing the Pokédex. He has become somewhat of a Pokémon catching phenom in recent years, and even became the Indigo League Champion a while back. He is truly a remarkable trainer, so I asked Professor Oak a few months ago if he could enlist Red in a little Pokémon catching expedition for me.” the professor said slyly, putting her hand to her cheek. “Instead of the usual Unova region starters, I handpicked three species of Pokémon for you all to take, specifically chosen for you as individuals. Professor Oak’s aide bred them for me and delivered them especially for you.” she continued with a grin.
    Okay, no. I'm not opposed to changing the starters, but it has to be for a good reason - a really good one - even if it's a simple swap of one region's starter set for another.

    This is not a good setup at all. It doesn't even matter what the new starters actually are; they could be Magikarp, Feebas and Kricketot even. This explanation is extremely contrived and pretty engineers a Mary Sue situation, because of how 'special' these characters are being treated.

    “Bianca, as requested, you can go first. Yours is the one on the left.” the professor murmured, stepping out of the way and smiling along with them; the moment had finally come.

    Bianca slowly walked forward with reverence and anticipation, cupping the Pokéball in her hands. It shone in the light and she could see herself reflected in its surface. She extended a slender finger and gently pushed the button on the front to open it and release the Pokémon inside. A bolt of light shot out and materialized on the table in front of her, startling her with the suddenness of it all. She leaned forward, putting her face right next to it in curiosity as it rematerialized, and in a flash, an adorable young Pachirisu appeared and exclaimed its name.

    “Pachi! Pachirisu!”
    You have to be kidding me... leaving the 'girls use cute things' stereotype aside for a minute, you've repeated several times that Bianca looks like a Pachirisu and now you give her one? This is very shallow, not to mention Pachirisu is a Pokemon with low base stats and no evolutionary potential.

    Also, why is Juniper not giving them a choice?

    Calmly and coolly, he walked forward and picked up the Pokéball on the right. He tossed it lazily on the floor to catch the clasping mechanism, throwing it as if he were initiating a battle. The seam opened and a blast of light shot out from inside. The Pokémon popped out and materialized into the form of a spry, healthy young Eevee, its coat a polished, coffee brown in color. The Eevee turned to face its new trainer as its eyes adjusted to the light; with a tilt of the head, he murmured ever-so-softly, “Ee?”
    So you go from giving Bianca a Pokemon that's extremely difficult to use because it looks like her to giving Cheren the very definition of a Mary Sue starter Pokemon, not to mention the one with the most evolutionary potential of all. This is completely unfair to Bianca.

    “Well, it won’t be a Snivy, that’s for sure… what could it be?” David thought to himself. As he walked forward and picked up the ball, thoughts of Pokémon he thought he might like ran through his mind. Could it be a Growlithe? Or an Aron? Maybe if he was really lucky he’d get a Gible. “Man, how sweet would having a Garchomp be?” he thought. Whatever it was, Professor Juniper said she had handpicked it for him, so it seemed logically like he should be able to guess what it was. He opened the ball and released the clasp. From within the seam, a small sphere of light drifted out. The wisp emerged gracefully and floated just in front of his face for a brief moment, almost as if it were sizing him up. It flew around him and then drifted lazily around the room for a moment, inspecting its new surroundings both playfully and curiously. Finally, the wisp settled on the desk to land. The little ball of light pulsated for a moment, and then in a flash, materialized itself as a petite, graceful little Ralts.

    David heard a soft, childlike, feminine voice inside his head speak.

    “Hello! My name is Paula, and I am a Ralts! What is your name, human?”
    A Pokemon given purely based on looks, an Eevee and a Pokemon that can talk for no really logical reason. Maybe you can somehow pull this off, but right now, this is looking bad. Really bad. Why is Paula able to talk? Why does she have a nickname before she even got a trainer?

    These are questions you're going to have to answer.

    “I will be a Gardevoir some day, master! I will be tall and elegant and have a flowing dress, and you can teach me how to be one!” Paula said excitedly in David’s head. David pondered the thought for a minute, staring off into space.
    This is really, really, really creepy. They just met and already Paula is going "MASTER~" for him and talking about how he's going to teach her things.

    David muttered some small token of agreement underneath his breath, but Cheren made no response, so he let the conversation wane. He crawled into his own sleeping bag and curled up, pulling it above his shoulders and turning to face the wall. Bianca and Cheren were silent, save for a few rustling sounds as they adjusted themselves, and with the quiet came an opportunity for his mind to wander. Though he had tried to push it out of his thoughts in lieu of the excitement of getting his starter Pokémon that day, her touch a moment ago had brought memories of the incident in the car earlier to the forefront of his mind. As sleep began to wash over him, the filters on his mind began to deaden and he was brought back to that short interval of time. Why had she done it? What did it mean? Did it even mean anything, or was he just overanalyzing? Most importantly though, why was it so jarring to him? He and Bianca had been wonderful, close, plutonic friends their entire lives. She had touched him before and it hadn’t meant anything then, so why now? There was something different about it this time; there was a certain grace and femininity to her touch. He didn’t want to admit it, but perhaps he was starting to actually acknowledge Bianca as a girl; as something altogether different than he or Cheren were.

    Speak of the devil, as these rationales and considerations mulled about within his brain, he heard her yawn behind him and finally lay down in her bag. He lay still and stared at the wall, listening for her to stop moving, but before that moment came, he felt something that made him shutter. In an unassuming and innocent gesture, his lifelong friend had decided to lay next to him; directly next to him, unfortunately. Bianca laid her hand over top of his shoulder and curled up next to him. She was already out like a light and was doing it only half consciously, but she nevertheless still was. David could feel himself grow warm.

    Turning over on his other side to inspect just what it was she was doing, David saw her peacefully asleep in her bag, an angelic smile spread calmly across her lips. Though everything from the collarbone down was obscured for obvious reasons, he also noticed, much to his guilty pleasure, that she was dressed only in her undergarments beneath the bag. David couldn’t shove it out of his mind any longer; he couldn’t simply keep ignoring it or brushing it off as coincidence. For whatever reason, something about finally becoming Pokémon trainers had changed Bianca; it was as if her own mental inhibitors were turned off by the excitement of it all, but she was acting in a decidedly new and different way than what he had always known. It was all unintentional and perhaps even subconscious to be sure, but there could be no more denying that it was there. Strangest of all however, much as he wanted to act offended and put off, David was not unreceptive to her change.

    A wave of stinging pain washed over his eyes as the clock struck a late hour on the mantle behind them. There were altogether too many difficult and life-changing thoughts trying to compete for dominance in his mind, and his body was reminding him it was time for sleep. Maybe Bianca was acting different, and maybe she wasn’t; perhaps she had always been this way and he had just never noticed. Whatever it was though, there was no sense in worrying about it now. Content to call a spade a spade, David had to acknowledge that, childhood friend or not, there was a beautiful blonde asleep next to him who had at least some valid intention of wanting to be physically close to him. Remembering the adage that had helped him earlier in the day, David laid his own hand over the exposed, pale skin on her shoulder and murmured the lyric to himself for a second time that day.
    You're really not handling the romance subplot well. Every time it gets brought up so far, it feels like it's shoehorned in randomly and forced to the center. What results is an extremely awkward passage, and honestly, I can't buy this romance you're trying to develop between David and Bianca. It's just feeling so forced so far, because David and Bianca have no real chemistry. There's nothing that really makes me believe this relationship is real on any level.

    I'm sorry, but I'm not impressed at all with what I've seen so far. You're changing up a few things from the games, but the characters are just so utterly unlikable that I can't enjoy anything. Cheren is the abused butt monkey of the three for no reason, and seems to only exist to be verbally torn down by David; Bianca is a one-dimensional, flat caricature with some very creepy attention paid to sexualizing her; and David, frankly, is an obnoxious guy who doesn't seem to much appreciate his friends during the time he isn't awkwardly obsessing over Bianca for some reason. Journeyfics require that the characters at their centers be superb because the stories rely on them to deliver new content, and unfortunately, you are not doing well so far with that.

    I'll give it more of a look to be more fair. I'm just very disappointed after the prologue and revised first chapter.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 10th March 2012 at 8:08 AM.

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  14. #264
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    Hi everyone. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm afraid this isn't a new chapter; just a little update on the progress of the story for those who are interested. The next chapter probably won't be posted any time particularly soon. My school semester is entering its final phase and my game project is scheduled to hit Alpha next week; I've had utterly no time for the story, and probably won't have any more foreseeably until at least next Wednesday. I'll try to work on the chapter during any free time I have, but unfortunately it will have to be somewhat significantly delayed. Thank you to everyone who has patience with this and continues to show an interest.

    Thanks for all the recent comments on the latest chapter and others, good and bad, and thanks for reading, everyone.

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    Okay, let's do some more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chapter 2
    “Paula, use Psychic!”

    The forest was calm, and all was quiet. Not a single Pokémon was out; they were all tucked away, hiding in their homes

    ...

    The wild Bouffalant was staring him down, seething with rage and defiance; it had suffered Will-o-Wisp burns, been thrown about the clearing repeatedly, and hadn’t landed a single blow. It was breathing heavily and knew it was down for the count; unwilling to give up without at least landing some kind of hit though, it took in a large breath of air, snorted menacingly, and kicked up the dirt under its hooves, ready to risk it all on one final attack.

    Opposite it stood the dainty figure of a Gardevoir, the very pinnacle of health, grace and elegance
    I know this isn't what you were going for, but it caught me right away that you first say "not a single Pokemon was out" but then there are a Bouffalant and Gardevoir.

    It took off like a bolt of lightning towards the slim silhouette of the Gardevoir, putting the pain from its burns out of its mind and throwing everything it had into this one final Head Charge attack. The Gardevoir stood perfectly still and focused her mind. The charging bull came closer and closer with a bloodlust in its eyes. It tucked in its head,
    came up to full speed, and launched itself at the enemy.
    I think I mentioned this before, but you have to diversify your sentence structure and language. Beginning sentences with "it" or "the" repeatedly creates unpleasant repetition.

    The whole forest shook. The Bouffalant flew across the clearing, striking another tree and falling to the ground in a slump. The Gardevoir composed herself, lowered her arms, and gracefully walked back to her trainer. Suppressed as it may have been, there was a kind of girlish spring in her step at her success.

    “Excellent work, Paula; just what I’ve come to expect from you.” David said in a very business-like tone; a sheepish grin was creeping along the edges of his mouth however out of pride.

    “Thank you, master. That was more fun for me than I would imagine it looked like however.” she replied with a giggle. David nodded and recalled her to her Pokéball.
    This is still really, really, really creepy. I just can't help but feel a
    really forced subordination fetish when these two interact, I'm sorry.

    “Oh, David… you’re my hero.” Bianca said femininely, emerging from her cover and putting the back of her hand to her forehead. In any other circumstance, such a cliché remark would have made David laugh, but there was a kind of twisted logic to this place; that logic was beginning to subtly fray around the edges however if one watched closely enough…

    “Twas nothing, milady.” he said with a smirk, turning now to face her. She looked down and smiled, then ran into his arms and embraced him. She looked up at her protector, trembling in anticipation, and moved in to give him one… big… long… ki–

    ...

    He looked over at the sleeping angel beside him and sighed again, longing to know what to think of her. He eventually slipped out of his sleeping bag and proceeded to get up.
    Now, given that this scene began in David's dream, what does that tell me about David that he views Bianca in such a way? He is not respecting Bianca as her own person, instead, he is merely whiteknighting her and viewing her only as an object to protect.

    This romance is still very clunky and awkward, too.

    “Wakey-wakey, Princess.” he cooed sarcastically. Cheren slumped over and moaned as his heartbeat returned to normal. As David began to stand back up, Cheren lashed out at his friend’s knee cap, inciting a muffled grunt from David and more laughter from Bianca as he fell over in pain. After a few more shenanigans like such, the three young trainers rose and left the room after Professor Juniper.
    You're using "cooed" too much, one. Two, you're once again making David out to be an unrelenting ******* to Cheren with no explanation, and it's still as unbelievable as it was before.


    “Impressive, Cheren; that’s exactly correct.” she praised. “Since you three didn’t start with the typical Fire-Water-Grass Unova region starters, I have called ahead and arranged the battles for you.” she said. “Bianca, you and Pachirisu will be battling Cilan; he won’t have a type advantage over you, but Pachirisu’s Electric-type attacks will be ineffective against his Grass-types. Cheren, you and Eevee will be battling Cress and his Water-types. Finally, David, you will be battling Chili and his Fire-type Pokémon.” she explained.
    It really should not be up to Juniper to be arranging all these things without consulting the kids.

    “We’ll leave right away, Professor. Thank you for your hospitality.” Cheren said.
    Cheren really is so polite that he doesn't deserve the way David treats him.

    “Hey! You know what we should do to make this even more special?” she asked. “We should all take our first steps onto the route together! We can start our journeys all at the same time!” she continued. Cheren looked at her with an utterly perplexed look on his face, the thought seeming infantile and senseless to him.

    “Oh come on, Cheren, don’t be like that!” she whined, seeing his confused look. Cheren shook his head and looked away.
    The structure here is extremely awkward. I had a hard time telling who was being referred to when, Cheren or Bianca.

    “Pachirisu! Um… use… um…” she stammered, but the Patrat was too quick for her. It leapt from the ground before she was ready, claws drawn, teeth gleaming, and threw itself at Pachirisu.

    “Eeek! Quick, Pachirisu, get out of the way!” Bianca shouted. Pachirisu leapt into the air from where she had been standing and jumped onto a low-hanging tree branch. The Patrat landed squarely where Pachirisu had been a moment earlier and spun around to find its opponent.

    Cheren saw Bianca’s dilemma and shouted down from the embankment where they had been watching; “Bianca! Have her use ‘Spark!’” he cried.

    “Okay!” Bianca shouted back blindly. “Pachirisu, quick, use ‘Spark!’”
    I hope you see that this is implying Bianca is not competent enough to do anything without having a male help her. At least it's not David saving her, I guess.

    Bianca was out in the water, splashing around with Pachirisu in the warm morning sun. David sat next to Cheren, watching Bianca and remembering his dream from the night before. Why did these thoughts keep coming back to him, he wondered; why did everything constant about Bianca suddenly seem to be changing?
    This is so awkward and out of place right now. I apologize for continually repeating this, but you need to learn how to incorporate this romance into the story better than you're doing. I almost can't help but find this a bit voyeuristic with how David is obsessing over Bianca at such random times.

    “Sounds good, Cheren.” he responded. He watched as his friends walked back up the hill to the main road, and then walk out of sight. He took out Paula’s Pokéball and released her from it. The little Ralts popped out and stood on top of a fallen branch on the ground, smiling and looking up at him expectantly.

    “Hello, master!” she exclaimed excitedly with her telepathy. “What are we doing here?” she asked curiously.

    “Cheren and Bianca have gone up ahead. I think we should do a little training before we get to Accumula Town. What do you say?” he replied.

    “Of course, master. How shall we train?” she asked politely.

    “I guess we should find a wild Pokémon to battle and practice some of your attacks.” David responded. He began looking around, curious to try and see where the Patrat from earlier may have come from, but Paula spoke up before he could identify the source.

    “Very well; we should check the tall grass to the north. There is bound to be something we can battle there, master.” she said cheerily. David smiled and picked her up; the pair returned to the road and started heading north.
    Paula's constant reference to David as "master" is what's most horrifying about this. Frankly, I'm beginning to get Heaven's Lost Property vibes from Paula's assessment of herself as David's personal property and deference and submission to him. And yet, they only just met and she viewed herself this way instantly.

    The Pidove turned around to look at him and cooed chidingly when it realized what he had done.
    "Cooed" again...

    Paula giggled as the Doppler Effect modulated the Lillipup’s defeated yelp.
    This reference is far too obscure in context for most readers to get without even a quick explanation, I think.

    “Your Confusion attack is getting really powerful. Did you see that little bugger fly?” David said with a laugh. “You knocked it right on it’s ***! Chili’s not going to stand a chance against us!” he continued proudly.
    You need to use "its," not "it's."

    “Soon I will evolve into a Kirlia, and I will be much stronger then, master. It is all thanks to you!” she replied, equally proud of her new trainer.
    This is horrifying. Paula is not a character; you are depicting her as purely a broken servant to David (whom she just met) while a real character needs development and characteristics of their own. Paula is only defined by being David's servant and nothing more.

    It is here that I will bring up just how Gary Stu-ish it is that David has this Ralts that can magically talk to him and wants to be his slave from the moment of their meeting.

    Paula shook in concentration. David didn’t know what she was doing, but her efforts quickly paid off and manifested themselves. There was a blinding flash, he felt the ground disappear beneath his feet, and he suddenly felt weightless. His hair blew, he drifted through space as if surrounded by water, and felt as though the planet’s gravity and the gravity of everything else around him had suddenly been turned off. The sensation lasted only an instant, but it was all so vivid that he took it all in immediately. Suddenly, the sensation left him and he felt the ground beneath his feet again. He opened his eyes and saw the entrance to Accumula Town before him; in literally an instant, he and Paula had traveled a good quarter of a mile.

    “Ho-oh-ly CRAP! What the Hell was that, Paula?!” he asked in shock. Paula giggled and held her arms up proudly.

    “I used Teleport, master! I got the idea to try it earlier when we were training, but I did not know if it would work or not.” she exclaimed. “I just saw where I wanted to go, focused on it in my mind, and poof, here we are!” she explained. “Are you proud of me, master?” she asked with expectation and joy.

    “Dude, that was AWESOME! Hell yeah I’m proud; that was great!” David replied excitedly. “If we can really dial that in, it could eliminate the need for a Flying-type Pokémon potentially! That is definitely something we should keep practicing; excellent work!” he praised her. Paula blushed faintly and smiled at his overt ovation.
    Again, totally not Stu-ish at all that Paula suddenly mastered Teleport exactly when David needed to catch up with Cheren and Bianca in Accumula Town.

    “I am glad that you approve, master. I am getting stronger and stronger with you.” she replied shyly. David nodded and put her back in her Pokéball; he then began walking towards the city to find his friends.
    I can't say enough how much this makes my skin crawl, to be brutally honest.

    “What? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. This dude’s just been shouting this crap at people in the park all day? Is he homeless or something?” David asked.
    Nice stereotyping, David.

    The man speaking in the center supported himself with a large, ornate cane, almost resembling a scepter fit for a king. He wore a giant, ornate tunic with a lavish neck piece of gold, shaped like the tower of a castle. His tunic was purple and gold, royal colors, and had a design resembling two large, menacing eyes, staring coldly out into the crowd. He had flowing gray hair that went past his shoulders, but the color and a gently receding hairline betrayed his age. His left eye was stern and cold, a demonic red in color, but he wore an eye patch over his right, adding to the mystique.
    This is good description of Ghetsis, but where did you get that he has gray hair?

    and if the spirit of Arceus moves you to do so, release your Pokémon and join us,
    Again, at this point in time, Arceus should not be as well known in Unova as Reshiram, Zekrom and Kyurem are. This is especially true when you consider Ghetsis's position - there is no reason for him to be speaking about Arceus when Reshiram and Zekrom are his targets.

    and a curious level-1 Menger sponge hung on a chain from his belt loop
    Most average readers are not going to know what a level 1 Menger Sponge is without being told.


    “Yes… there is something remarkable about you, I must say… most remarkable indeed…” N murmured. “Tell me, friend… would you like to have a Pokémon battle?” he asked, a smile spreading across his face.
    Why am I not surprised that N only sees something "special" in David?

    I can’t look like a coward in front of Bianca and Cheren… especially not Bianca
    I seriously almost laughed at how out of place this latest mental declaration of love was. He's about to fight someone who's spouting nonsensical ramble about being raised by Pokemon and the only thing he can think about is looking like a badass in front of his crush?

    “Oh my, how darling!” he shouted. “Your Ralts is named ‘Paula?’ Oh, it looks like I was right about you after all!” he continued.
    This manner of speaking is completely out of character for N. He does not speak like this.

    “Purrloin, use Fake Out!” N shouted. The Purrloin made a quick jab towards Paula, not actually attacking but feigning with its claws perfectly. Paula jumped back in surprise, tripped, and then stumbled and fell over, startled by the Purrloin’s quick motion. As she stood herself back up, the Purrloin took up a fighting pose and prepared to attack in earnest.

    “Paula, use Confusion!” David shouted. The little Ralts steadied herself, focused, and let loose the counter-attack. Just like she had practiced, the blast of telekinetic energy shot forth and flew towards her opponent; much to her and her trainer’s surprise however, the Purrloin appeared utterly and totally unphased. It grinned a devilish grin, then lunged forward at the Ralts, claws drawn and ready to swipe.
    Good going with remembering that Psychic attacks won't work on Purrloin, but you missed another big picture - Paula shouldn't have been able to attack at all because Purrloin had just used Fake Out, which makes its victim flinch immediately.

    “Crap, no! Paula, quick, get out of the way! Use Teleport!” David shouted blindly, but it was to no avail.

    “Purrloin, use Pursuit.” N said calmly. Paula quickly Teleported away, but the Purrloin grabbed a hold of her just before she could make her escape. Paula rematerialized across the clearing, but N’s Purrloin was still doggedly hanging on. The Purrloin raised a paw, its claws glowing with black, malevolent energy, and it took one powerful swipe at the little Ralts. She flew across the clearing, fell to the ground, and slumped over, too tired and defeated to go on. The Purrloin gracefully fell to its feet, licked its paws, sat down and purred; N recalled it to its Pokéball, saying quietly under his breath, “Excellent, Purrloin. Thank you for putting yourself in danger for my sake. I appreciate your contribution.”
    I have to give you credit here, you used Teleport and Pursuit in a creative way that we don't see in the games. It worked quite well.

    Good job getting N's speech patterns back on track, too.

    N recalled it to its Pokéball, saying quietly under his breath, “Excellent, Purrloin. Thank you for putting yourself in danger for my sake. I appreciate your contribution.”

    ...

    “A word to the wise: Psychic-type moves like that will have no effect on Dark-type Pokémon like my Purrloin.” he explained. “Your Pokémon put in a tremendous effort however; you should be very proud.” he continued as he helped David up.
    N is acting awfully casually about Poké Balls for who he is in canon. I also don't know if it's in N's character to so explicitly congratulate someone after a battle.

    “Oh, David… don’t be down on yourself about that.” she said soothingly. “It was just a bad type matchup, but you’ll get the next one. Your little Ralts is really strong, I can tell!” she continued. David looked at her and saw a real sense of conviction in her eyes. She wore a big smile and her eyes gleamed in the light from the fireplace. She was right; Paula wasn’t upset, N wasn’t a jerk about it, and it was technically a bad type matchup. He shouldn’t feel too down about it, and try as he might, he couldn’t even bring himself to be with Bianca’s pretty, innocent face smiling at him.
    Now is absolutely not the time to be pointing out that Bianca has a "pretty, innocent face." That line completely ruined the mood.

    “Turn into what? A bigger dweeb?” she asked as she giggled. Cheren drooped his shoulders and glared at her. His expression practically dripped with sarcasm and contempt.
    That's absolutely out of Bianca's character, even for this version of Bianca.

    As he walked down the hall, he passed by Bianca’s room and noticed that the door was slightly ajar. He took a quick peek inside and saw her sound asleep in her bed. She was resting like an angel, the light from the hall playing across her golden blonde hair, the blankets covering her body, silhouetting it against the light. She looked so peaceful and calm, it made him strangely happy.
    Here's that awkward voyeuristic feeling again.

    As he continued down the hall, he heard a voice inside his head.

    “I believe that you like her romantically, master. Am I correct in this assumption?” the little voice murmured.

    “Paula, is that you?” David thought back.

    “Yes, master. My Psychic power is growing stronger by leaps and bounds.” she responded. “I am mentally aware of my surroundings and can hear your thoughts even from inside my Pokéball now.” she continued proudly. David winced a bit and looked away.
    Please tell me you're joking and this is not what I'm actually reading. The last thing the awkwardly shoehorned Bianca romance subplot needed was Paula and her subservience fetish personality coming in. This is going beyond the uncomfortable; it's almost offensive now.

    “You do like that girl though, correct, master?” Paula asked again. “Ms. Bianca is your friend, but you are attracted to her, no?” she continued. David glanced around furtively and rubbed the back of his head.

    “What, Bianca? Well, we’ve always been best friends, but no, I’m not sexually attracted to her if that’s what you mean.” he lied.

    “Master… I am talking to you in your mind.” Paula responded patronizingly. “You cannot keep secrets like that from me.” she continued with a giggle. David hesitated for a moment, pondering what to say next.

    “Well… you know… she’s alright…” he finally admitted.

    “Hehehe… I like you, master. You will be a good trainer, and you will make that girl happy some day.” Paula said, ribbing her trainer good naturedly.

    “How will I make her ‘happy,’ Paula? What does that even mean?” he asked in confusion. Paula was silent for a moment before she replied.

    “Young as I am, I can see things in your mind, even if you do not yet wish them to come to the surface. Give it time, master; accept the things you know to be true.” she responded cryptically. Then, there was only silence.
    With everything that went on during this day involving training, Team Plasma, N and so on, this is all they can discuss? His bizarre crush on Bianca? It's completely unbelievable.

    I'm going to continue my review in my next post.

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  16. #266
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    Continued from above

    Quote Originally Posted by Chapter 3
    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 3: Dreams of Bianca
    I'll do my best to go into this with an open mind, but right now, I'm admittedly not terribly optimistic.

    “Eevee, Tackle!”

    Cheren’s voice carried down the hall and into David’s room, gently stirring him from his sleep. Reminded of where he was, he turned to the dresser next to the bed and looked at the clock: 7:30am.

    “What the Hell? Is Cheren having a battle this early in the morning?” David pondered. Slowly, he rose from his bed to inspect the commotion.

    Walking into the lobby, he could see his friend outside through the window, a look of determination and grit plastered over his face. Bianca was in the lobby too, sitting in one of the plush lounge chairs with her feet up, watching the battle unfold. David walked up silently and stood behind her, curious now himself as well.

    Following his trainer’s command, Eevee threw himself full force at his adversary, smashing into it with tremendous strength. The foe’s Blitzle tried to dodge, but it had suffered so many Sand-Attacks that it was almost completely blinded. The Pokémon took the hit full force and was knocked to the ground, struggling to find the will or even a means to stand back up. Sand in its eyes, bruised and battered from the numerous Tackles it had taken, flailing just to regain its footing and find its target, the opponent’s Blitzle finally gave up the ghost and lay still, losing the urge to continue the fight. Eevee puffed out his chest proudly and stood up straighter. A smile of satisfaction spread across Cheren’s face and he called out to his Pokémon.

    “Great work, Eevee! Stopped ‘em cold!” he exclaimed. Eevee turned to face his trainer and mewed proudly in response.

    The opposing trainer walked over to his Blitzle, knelt beside it, and laid a hand on its face. Wiping the sand from its eyes, he said to his Pokémon, “Good job, Blitzle. You gave it your best.” He returned the Pokémon to its Pokéball and shook Cheren’s hand. The trainers exchanged a few pleasantries and then walked back into the lobby to heal their tired warriors.
    Not bad, surprisingly enough. I have to give you credit where it's due. This part was pretty good, and you even managed to use "mewed" instead of "cooed" for once.

    “Pachirisu and I already had a bite to eat, but I’ll come sit with you boys if you like.” she mused; the word’s stung David’s ears. There it was again; that subtle difference in how she was behaving. “You boys,” insinuating she wasn’t one herself. Not that she was, David knew that, but she had never gone out of her way to act so feminine before. Was it something about starting the Pokémon journey that was making her this way? Or something different about him? David couldn’t keep forcing the thought out of his mind when it came up so often; for the first time in his life, David was becoming increasingly aware of the differences between Bianca and himself or Cheren. Much as he didn’t necessarily want to admit it though, his receptiveness of the idea was also changing. The more and more he allowed himself to think of Bianca as a girl, and a pretty one at that, the more and more he appreciated and welcomed it.
    No offense, but the way this is worded, this passage reads like something right out of one of those puberty books for boys. Why do we need an entire paragraph dedicated pretty much entirely to David realizing that there are differences between boys and girls?

    “I’ve got a package here for you folks from a ‘Professor Juniper’”
    I'd think the gatekeeper would know who Juniper is.

    “Hey. How’s it going, porky?” he ribbed jokingly. Bianca shot him a piercing glare and a venomous, sarcastic smirk.
    That's a pretty gross remark for a guy to make to a girl, especially the one he's half-stalking.


    “Bianca, I challenge you to a Pokémon battle! Right here, right now! You say you want to do some training, so let’s have at it!” David said commandingly, albeit with a grin. It was said that you could learn the most about a trainer from being in a battle with them and having to adapt to their movements; if he wanted to gauge his feelings for Bianca, this would be the way to do it.
    So he isn't interested in helping Bianca, he's interested in measuring his own feelings? That's awfully selfish.

    “I know we need to practice a bit before our Gym battle too, Paula, but what do you say we go a little easy on her? Let her gain a little confidence.” David thought, trying to broadcast the sentiment to his Ralts.
    I can see why you would say this, but going easy on Bianca and coddling her is only going to make it harder for her when she gets to that Gym.


    “Is it time to lose now, master?” Paula asked him.

    “I think so, but let’s try and make it convincing.” David answered. “Dodge her next attack with Teleport, and then let the hit after that glance you; fake going down from that.” he commanded.

    “As you wish, master. I am happy we are helping your friend grow stronger.” she replied.
    This scene is already strange because he's throwing the battle, but Paula's spoken dialogue is only making this worse.

    “Aww, poor baby. At least you won though; you get to challenge the gym first.” David responded.
    Once again, why is he being so rude to Cheren? Did something happen between them or not?

    The smell of New England chowder was drifting through the air as the restaurant began serving its lunch specials.
    Nitpicking, but if Unova is New York, wouldn't Manhattan clam chowder make more sense?

    “Oh it’s so nice to meet you!” she said excitedly. “Professor Juniper has told me so so so much about you three. I’m so happy you’re finally here!” she continued. Composing herself, she put a hand to her chest and continued.
    Oh no. I'm not liking where this is going if Fennel is acting like this.

    “Oh it’s so nice to meet you!” she said excitedly. “Professor Juniper has told me so so so much about you three. I’m so happy you’re finally here!” she continued. Composing herself, she put a hand to her chest and continued.
    Thank you for reiterating why that is a pretty ridiculous plot point. The starters were completely unjustifiable.

    “It’s more than just ‘cool,’ Bianca. It could be the scientific breakthrough of the century!” Fennel exclaimed excitedly. “In dreams, you control the logic and physics behind all of reality. You could simply materialize anything you wanted into existence. If we could enter a person’s dreams and bring things back out from those dreams into the real world, anything could be possible! We could have time machines and flying cars within the decade!” she continued, her high energy not abating. “Other possibilities exist too. Many Pokémon tend to dream about other Pokémon, typically ones that can’t really exist. Imagine being able to obtain a Pokémon with a different ability than it typically has, or special attacks they can’t normally know! It could be revolutionary for trainers as well.” she concluded.
    This is actually pretty clever. Well done on this count.

    “I’m in too.” David mimed. “If Bianca is going, I’m going.” he thought to himself. He heard Paula giggle very faintly in his head at that remark.

    ...

    David was surprised at his friend’s blunt rudeness, but on the other hand, it meant more alone time with Bianca, and he couldn’t argue with that.
    This is not good, if his sole motivation for anything is impressing Bianca.

    Bianca had a good point, but this place gave David the creeps. He didn’t want to look unmanly in front of her, but he also didn’t want to get wrapped up in something bigger than they were anticipating.
    This is a terrible justification argument for his actions. Being concerned about looking 'manly' in front of someone suggests a degree of narcissism and coupling that on top of everything else David has shown so far does not help his case for likability.

    “David! I’m s-s-s-scared!” Bianca whispered in his ear. They were hunched over in the corner, hidden behind the machine for cover. She was knelt right behind him; he could hear and feel her breath and could practically feel her heartbeat.

    “Well, at least one good thing came of all this…” he thought to himself.
    ...No.

    They're in the middle of a potential crisis and David still can't keep it down about Bianca? His behavior is getting less and less appropriate as we go.

    “Hey yeah! It’s nothing but a couple of no good kiddies.” his partner replied. “What the Hell are you two doing here? Trying to find a nice dark place away from mommy and daddy to go make out?” he continued mockingly. David blushed at the thought, but quickly snapped back.
    There's nothing to say here, because the Grunt's remark was clearly intended to specifically set up David's reaction.

    “Hey, stop that! Don’t hurt it!” she shouted. “Pachirisu, use Quick Attack!” she commanded. Pachirisu leapt into action and kicked the man squarely in the jaw. The shock and pain from the blow loosened his grip and the Munna was able to escape. It flew quickly across the room and hid behind Bianca, trying to stay as much out of sight as possible. David ran across the room, took a flying leap, and smashed into the grunt, delivering a tremendous Superman-esque punch to his face. The grunt flew back and landed square on his ***, dazed and bleeding from the surprise blow.
    While I don't like how David steals Bianca's spotlight, I do like that she got a chance to see some action against the Plasma Grunts.

    “Aww…” Bianca cooed sweetly.
    You're using that word again.

    “Hmm… so it looks like Pachirisu’s Hidden Power is Ice.” David mused. “That’s actually really awesome; Ice is very effective against Grass-types, so you should have no problem beating Cilan now.” he explained.
    To be brutally honest, that's an asspull. She just randomly got a powerup that serves her perfectly in fighting Cilan right when she needed it? It strains credibility.

    “Well, that’s what you get for being a prick to Fennel.” David said back mockingly, stretching in his chair. “She even gave us a TM she was so pleased.” he continued. Cheren turned to face him in surprise at the news.

    “Really? Which one?” he asked.

    “Hidden Power, and you can’t use it. You didn’t come help us, so pppppth!” Bianca answered, sticking her tongue out at him.
    I'm used to David being rude to Cheren all the time, but why is Bianca suddenly being a ***** to him too?

    Okay, I'll be honest here. There are two things that are horribly crippling this story from what I've read so far. Those things are the poorly written and awkwardly shorehorned-in Bianca romance and the subordination fetish fuel that passes as Paula's personality. These two things cause the quality of the story to immediately drop every time they come up.

    However, they expose an even bigger and more serious problem: without them, the story would literally be an 95% identical copy of the BW games except for the protagonists being older and more foul-mouthed.

    On the characters: I'm finding it hard to care about any of them, because they all fulfill very flat stereotypes. David is the stereotypical alpha male jock who supposedly has a softer side, Cheren is the abused sidekick friend, and Bianca exists only to be arm candy for David. It is difficult to care about or sympathize with characters like this, who are rather dull and two-dimensional.

    It's a shame, too. You're clearly trying, but this isn't coming out well at all.

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  17. #267
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    Can I be added to the PM list also? You have by far the best fanfic going here! The fact that its almost complete is great! Not many fics get that far. I enjoy this very much! I'll be waiting for the next chapter!

    Edit: I think this is the only Gardevoir containing fic that isnt human/pokemon. Thats good.
    Last edited by 3D992; 19th March 2012 at 1:59 AM.
    I have:
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    White
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    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  18. #268
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    Hi everyone. Sorry for my very long (admittedly much longer than I anticipated) absence. This last month was the end of the semester, so finals, projects coming due, increased workload, etc etc... I've talked about my school in this thread before, so I won't rehash the details. I just wanted to say that I just finished my first draft of the next chapter and I plan on posting it either tomorrow (the 25th) or Friday (the 27th). My last final (calculus) is on Thursday, so it won't be that day if I don't get it up tomorrow. Expect Friday actually, but it might be sooner.

    Anyway, just wanted to leave the good news. Hopefully I didn't lose too many of you during the break. I'd also just like to say that the chapter after this coming one (chapter 27) is going to be really good. It will be on par with chapter 10, for reference. I just re-read through my outline for the chapter that I wrote a few months ago and (don't take this the wrong way, I know I'm not that good) it was actually kind of chilling. I'm really looking forward to writing it and seeing what you guys think. N has an awesome backstory and that's what these next two chapters cover.

    Thanks for reading, as always. New chapter within the week, and more new chapters on a more regular basis again after that. Don't forget that the contest is still running also but that time is running out. Once this next chapter is posted, you'll have between then and the time of the chapter after that one being posted to submit your entries, so get them in soon.

  19. #269
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post
    Hi everyone. Sorry for my very long (admittedly much longer than I anticipated) absence. This last month was the end of the semester, so finals, projects coming due, increased workload, etc etc... I've talked about my school in this thread before, so I won't rehash the details. I just wanted to say that I just finished my first draft of the next chapter and I plan on posting it either tomorrow (the 25th) or Friday (the 27th). My last final (calculus) is on Thursday, so it won't be that day if I don't get it up tomorrow. Expect Friday actually, but it might be sooner.

    Anyway, just wanted to leave the good news. Hopefully I didn't lose too many of you during the break. I'd also just like to say that the chapter after this coming one (chapter 27) is going to be really good. It will be on par with chapter 10, for reference. I just re-read through my outline for the chapter that I wrote a few months ago and (don't take this the wrong way, I know I'm not that good) it was actually kind of chilling. I'm really looking forward to writing it and seeing what you guys think. N has an awesome backstory and that's what these next two chapters cover.

    Thanks for reading, as always. New chapter within the week, and more new chapters on a more regular basis again after that. Don't forget that the contest is still running also but that time is running out. Once this next chapter is posted, you'll have between then and the time of the chapter after that one being posted to submit your entries, so get them in soon.
    YAY FOR NEW CHAPTER! I'm still here! (:

    And OH NOEESSS!! I HAVE A WEEK TO FINISH THIS CHARACTER!! *neglects work and types up submission*

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  20. #270
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    You lost me.




    Just kidding! I'll be here, dont you worry!
    I have:
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    White 2

    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  21. #271
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        Spoiler:- Author's Notes:


    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 26: Anthea & Concordia – Betrayal

    It was another rainy day in Castelia City. It seemed as if the poor weather always dogged the city when Team Plasma had business there…

    “No no no! Leavanny! Quick! Get out of–” Burgh tried to shout, but his desperate cry was ultimately inaudible under the “crash!” of the Legendary Dragon opposite him. N was his typical calm and collected self as Zekrom dealt his final blow of the match.

    “Fusion Bolt…” he murmured, but the command was unnecessary. Zekrom had already intuited the command his partner would give and acted upon it without the slightest bit of hesitation. The deafening rumble of the turbine-like generator in his tail roared as it spun at full tilt. The dragon’s charcoal black body was sizzling with waves of light blue sparks as an overabundance of electricity danced across it. Zekrom bellowed a roar nearly as loud as the whine of the motor as a spherical force-field suddenly engulfed him. Rising into the air, the Deep Black Pokémon lurched forward and slammed into the Gym Leader’s final Pokémon with unbridled strength. The frail Leavanny never stood a chance; tossed across the room, discarded like a piece of trash, it was instantly defeated just the same as the rest of Burgh’s team. N had swept the Castelia Gym Leader, the same as he had against every other Gym Leader he had faced. Burgh fell to his knees from the shock of his resoundingly crushing defeat.

    Another opponent yielding to his legendary strength, Zekrom landed and roared once again as the force-field faded. N chuckled and nodded his head.

    “Thank you, my friend.” he murmured. Zekrom growled in acknowledgment and stood down.

    Burgh’s glazed eyes stared at the ground before him, his body seemingly comatose as he tried to come to grips with the sheer power that had just defeated him. N and Zekrom hadn’t just defeated him, they had crushed him; it had been an all-out massacre. His Pokémon had never even stood a chance. They were systematically destroyed in one hit a piece by the legendary titan. Burgh had been a trainer for years; he thought he knew what was necessary to keep his friends safe from harm. His whole body was limp and his muscles shook uncontrollably as the reality of his demise soaked in.

    “And thank you.” N shouted across the field. His opponent’s words stirred Burgh from his stupor, but his eyes remained glazed. N began calmly walking towards him, but the images hardly registered within Burgh’s temporarily shattered mind.

    “May I have my Insect Badge?” N asked as he approached. Burgh stared at him vacantly having not really heard the words. He moved like a zombie and drew a badge from his pocket, but his mouth was ajar and his eyes were still unseeing. He handed the badge to N, but his arms then went limp again. Sitting crushed in the dirt of the Gym floor, he slowly began to sob.

    “Thank you, Mr. Burgh. Have a nice day.” N said politely. He left the battered man to his own morbid thoughts as he and Zekrom began heading back to the entrance.

    Lennon and McCartney had been waiting at the entrance for their king and had been watching the battle awkwardly. They had been journeying around Unova with N and Zekrom for a few weeks now and grew more and more worried by the day. With the first part of the prophecy now fulfilled, N intended to enter the Pokémon League Championships to fulfill the second. With Zekrom by his side, no one would likely turn him away for not having eight badges, but he wanted to do things the right way if he could help it. Burgh’s badge was only the most recent in his conquest through the region however; no Gym Leader as of yet had managed to survive even a single blow from Zekrom, nor attempt to land one of their own first. Every battle had been a sweep for N, and it was a trend that was showing no signs of breaking. Unfortunately, it was for this very reason that Lennon and McCartney were so worried.

    “There goes another one…” Lennon murmured. He sounded nominally happy for his king on the surface, but he was deeply troubled below the water.

    “Zekrom and I will travel the region, defeating the eight Gym Leaders and earning our right to enter the Pokémon League Championships. We will defeat the Champion and be recognized as the greatest might in all the land, and when none shall stand to oppose us, when all have been smote, we will declare an end to Pokémon battles and an end to humanity’s dominance over Pokémon. All shall hear and obey, or the Unova region will suffer the consequences…

    N’s final words at Dragonspiral Tower rang hollowly through their heads. Try as they might, they couldn’t shake them. Team Plasma had been getting steadily worse and worse for the two special agents prior to attaining that rank at the hands of N. They had almost been to the point of deserting the organization before meeting their king in person in Nimbasa City. Where Team Plasma had failed in their eyes, N had risen from the ashes and succeeded. He had always represented everything for them that Team Plasma had failed to live up to. He was calm, collected, rationing, fair and level. He meant what he said and had proven time and time again that he truly was in it to save the Pokémon, just like they themselves were. But those things he had said at the tower, his talk of “smiting” and the people of the region “suffering consequences,” was all so uncharacteristic of him that they feared Zekrom’s power was going to his head. They knew they didn’t dare disobey their king so close to victory, but they worried that he too was beginning to change.

    “Y-yeah…” McCartney stuttered a saddened reply. They both could sense it in each other’s voice; there had been something in the way Zekrom had so violently defeated Burgh’s Pokémon in comparison to the other Gym Leaders that made them uncomfortable. They both felt the need to do something, but they didn’t dare guess what.

    “Lennon?” McCartney stammered a few seconds later. Lennon turned to acknowledge him but didn’t say anything.

    “I… I think we need to do something about N…” he whispered worriedly. Lennon felt a pit grow in his stomach as his partner finally vocalized what they had both been thinking for so long.

    “What are you talking about? What about him?” Lennon asked, feigning ignorance. McCartney wasn’t going to have it though.

    “Oh don’t give me that, Lennon, you know damn well what I mean. N has changed; we both see it in him.” he snapped back. Turning his gaze back to the battlefield as N collected his badge, he sighed and mournfully appended, “…he needs help.”

    Lennon was loyal to N to a fault. He knew McCartney was right, but he couldn’t bring himself to admit it.

    “I…” he started to say, but he couldn’t finish the thought and trailed off. He sighed and turned away.

    “Admit it; you see it too.” McCartney said, turning now to face his partner. “Zekrom has changed him; it started happening almost as soon as we reached the top of the tower. N is being consumed by Zekrom’s power. It’s like a plague, infecting his mind. The man we use to know and follow was a pure and kind soul who only thought of the suffering of Pokémon. That man would never have talked of destroying the region or hurting Pokémon like this in the name of liberation. We need to do something!” he continued. Lennon snapped and turned his sharp gaze to face his partner.

    “Yeah? And what the Hell do you want to do, McCartney? How are we supposed to help him, huh?” he growled in a low whisper so N wouldn’t overhear. “Defiance to Lord N would be disloyalty to the cause. What is it you suggest we do? Give up on all this and forsake Team Plasma?” he asked. McCartney laid a hand on his partner’s shoulder and motioned subtly towards the field.

    “What cause are you fighting for, Lennon?” he asked. Motioning towards Burgh as he violently shook and sobbed, and towards the battered and beaten form of the Gym Leader’s Leavanny, he appended, “This is disloyalty to the cause.”

    Lennon sighed. He looked at his feet and knew McCartney was right. He would never betray their cause of Pokémon Liberation, but he knew deep inside that N really had changed somehow. Even if it didn’t always show in his calculating and calm appearance, his mind was growing more violent as he spent more time around Zekrom. McCartney was right.

    “…okay, fine.” he murmured. “But what do we do?” he asked. McCartney tried to look him in the eyes, but there was great apprehension before he replied.

    “I think…” he began, but he almost couldn’t bring himself to voice his suggestion. Taking a deep breath, he got it out. “I think we need to find the goddesses.” he said. Lennon gasped and backed away in shock.

    “What the Hell?! The goddesses?! Are you crazy? McCartney, you can’t really be suggesting what I think you’re suggesting.” he whispered in disbelief. McCartney tried to respond, but N had almost reached their earshot by now. Lennon motioned curtly and commandingly for his partner to stay quiet, but McCartney’s idea had wormed its way into his mind.

    “Gentlemen…” N said politely as he approached them. Zekrom was immediately in toe; static still crackled from his body and gave the air a slight charge. Lennon and McCartney nervously snapped to attention before them.

    “Milord…” they both murmured. They were trying to hide as best they could the nature of what they had just been discussing. Lennon was having difficulty putting McCartney’s terse suggestion out of his mind however.

    “What did you think of the battle?” N asked with a smile. Lennon and McCartney looked at each other nervously before responding.

    “It, uh… well sir, it was terrible, as always.” Lennon said matter-of-factly, thinking it was the answer his king was expecting. On the contrary though, N looked quite puzzled.

    “A necessary evil to hurt those poor Pokémon as we continue towards ultimate liberation, don’t you agree, Lord N?” McCartney appended. N’s confused look slowly turned to a proud smile as McCartney answered.

    “Captain McCartney, as usual you are spot on.” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve gotten so wrapped up in these battles as of late, at times I almost find myself enjoying them.” he said modestly. Lennon and McCartney again shot each other nervous glances; Lennon sighed as the suspicions of their earlier conversation were further confirmed.

    “It, uhh… happens to the best of us, sir.” McCartney reassured him. He turned towards his partner and shot a longing look; it was crazy and defiant and perhaps even impossible, but as much as Lennon hated it, he knew what had to be done.

    “Indeed.” N said with another smile. “Shall we depart then?” he asked. Lennon sighed and gathered his courage.

    “Uhh… sir… there’s, um… there’s actually a favor we’d like to ask of you…” he stammered. N cocked an eyebrow and chuckled a surprised laugh.

    “Really? Well by all means, please ask! Anything for my two finest agents!” he said excitedly. Lennon was afraid, but he knew McCartney’s plan had to be attempted.

    “We, um… well, we’re not really doing much for you while we’re going around Unova collecting these badges with you. You’re more than half way there by now, and you, well… you don’t really need us, do you, sir?” he asked. N looked a little saddened by Lennon’s self-putdown.

    “Well… I suppose not particularly, but I certainly enjoy your company.” he said, trying to make them feel better. Lennon smiled but it unfortunately didn’t alleviate the larger problem.

    “Thank you, Lord N, that means a great deal, but that’s not what I’m getting at.” he continued. “We, um… we were wondering if perhaps we could take the next week off for a personal trip while you finish getting your badges. There’s, uh… something we need to attend to…” he said nervously. “Something kind of private…” he appended. N looked a bit surprised at first, but smiled immediately thereafter at Lennon’s request.

    “Captain Lennon, you two are some of the highest ranking officials in Team Plasma and two of my most closely regarded advisors. You both are more than welcome to take the time you need.” he said magnanimously. Lennon was slightly relieved by how N had received his request, but there was still the matter of following through on their plans that troubled him.

    “Thank you, sir. We truly appreciate it.” he said humbly. McCartney mimicked the sentiment.

    “We will meet back up with you at Victory Road just before the tournament starts. We know you and Zekrom will have no trouble finishing up with the remaining badges.” McCartney praised, trying to throw off any shadow of suspicion N might have; it was unnecessary however, as N smiled and extended his hand.

    “Thank you, Captain McCartney. I will see you both in a week.” he said as he shook their hands. Parting ways, he and Zekrom left the Gym and took off into the skies for their next battle. Leaving Burgh behind, Lennon and McCartney stepped out into the rain themselves and sighed as the first part of their impromptu mission was complete.

    “McCartney… what we’re doing is suicide.” Lennon said as N flew out of sight. “I mean… the goddesses? Are you even positive that they’ll be at the castle?” he asked. McCartney was just as nervous as Lennon was, but wore a determined look on his face as he tried to reassure his partner.

    “Lennon, remember: we’re doing this for N. Pokémon Liberation will mean nothing if he loses himself and becomes a tyrant because of all this. It’s the only way; they have to know.” he said. Lennon fought back the idea with one final push, but he finally had to yield and acknowledge the reality.

    “Yeah… yeah, you’re right…” he murmured. “I just don’t want to see the smart look on that brat’s face…” he appended. McCartney laid his hand over his partner’s shoulder and looked in his eyes.

    “I don’t either, mate, but we’re doing it for N.” he said. Lennon sighed and nodded to confirm.

    “For Lord N…” he replied. The two men were silent after that; there was work to be done. They headed off into the rain and prepared to begin the journey that would make them traitors.

    For Lord N.” they both thought.

    * * *

    The Unova region was comprised of three main peninsulas which extended to the south: Eastern, Central and Western Unova. If one went far enough north however, the three peninsulas all ultimately extended from one large, central landmass: The Wastelands. It was at the southeastern edge of this vast desert that the Elite Four’s Pavilion was built, the marble fortress standing day in and day out against the harsh sun. The Wastelands were an uninhabitable, barren desert that were largely unexplored; the only human structure anyone knew of was what the Pokémon League had colonized. Only a handful of species of Pokémon could inhabit the arid, rocky terrain, and even then only along the southern edge. If something needed to be hidden, there was almost no better place in the region to do it.

    Unbeknownst to anyone, Team Plasma had secretly built a massive castle in the Wastelands as their primary organizational headquarters. Very few even in Team Plasma knew of the presence of the castle; it had no useful purpose to anyone besides the Sages and other high ranking officials. The castle was sturdily built and well supplied with water and other necessities, making the harsh environment largely a non-issue. It served perfectly as a deterrent to those who might seek them out however; the castle was one of the best kept secrets in Team Plasma.

    Lennon and McCartney had traveled a long distance to reach the castle from Castelia City. They had traveled overnight and utilized motorized transportation to reach it in the span of roughly a day. The sun was at its zenith when they arrived, shining from a perfectly blue sky as it baked the land. Even in the winter months, the dry desert heat was debilitating. It had been a lengthy trip, but it had given them time to think.

    “Well… there is it, mate; the Royal Plasma Castle.” Lennon murmured tiredly as they came within view of the building. There was a distinct sadness and concern in his voice as their trip drew to a close; the long distance had served as a time stall, putting off the terrible task he knew they would have to commit.

    “They’re inside, Lennon. We’ve just got to find them and bring them to him. We’ve been through this; you know this is right.” McCartney replied. Their pair left their transportation and began heading towards the grand doors of the castle, but Lennon sighed in desperation.

    “I do, I do. It still just doesn’t sit right though, obviously.” he replied.

    The agent guarding the door snapped to attention as Lennon and McCartney approached a moment later. Lennon grit his teeth and tried to at least put on a façade to get past him, but his emotions were still in turmoil under the surface.

    “Authentication, please.” the guard said. He showed no sign of disrespect in front of his presumed superiors, but he was firm in upholding his duty.

    “We are Special Agents in Lord N’s private task force. Our rank is Captain.” Lennon answered back strongly. He and McCartney held up badges to confirm the statement, but the guard was visibly pacified just by the mention of N’s name. He nodded and stood aside.

    “Your clearance level is B, sir. You are free to tend to your business in any area unrestricted to your clearance tier.” he explained. Lennon nodded silently and entered with McCartney. The sturdy doors shut behind them, locking them into their mission.

    “No going back now…” Lennon murmured to himself. He sighed and relaxed his muscles, having gotten past the guard without raising any suspicions. So close to their objective, the terrible reality of what they would have to do was becoming more and more real.

    “Lennon, we have to do this. The Hero of Truth is the only one who can stop this, so he has to know what he’s up against.” McCartney whispered as they ventured into the castle depths.

    “Damn it, stop saying that.” Lennon snapped back under his breath. “I know damn well why we’re doing this; Lord N is going to lose himself to that thing if we don’t. It doesn’t soften the reality of what we’re about to do though. McCartney, make no bones about it; we will be traitors after this.” he said. McCartney was silent and sullen as he let the words wash over him.

    “If what we’re about to do succeeds, Team Plasma will not be able to liberate the world’s Pokémon as we’ve always dreamed. We are taking distinct destructive action against the organization we’ve done so much work to build up. Is saving N more important to us than saving the Pokémon?” Lennon continued. They were nearing their destination within the castle. After a thoughtful pause, McCartney replied.

    “N is the only one who can save the Pokémon, Lennon. If we lose him, we lose them both. David has to know.” he said.

    “I hope you’re right, mate…” Lennon replied.

    The pair had reached a large, sturdy blast door in the center of the castle. Dark, winding hallways had brought them here, and it was here that they would commit their deed. An intimidating, unmoving guard stood before the door, blocking their entrance. He was massive in stature and his hood covered his eyes. Swallowing his fear and taking the plunge, Lennon approached the man commandingly with McCartney in tow.

    Halt.” the burly guard said. The Plasma Captains stopped, but they were hopeful that they could get past him without a fight.

    “This is a tier A restricted zone. There is no access to those with improper clearance. Identify yourselves.” the guard announced. Lennon approached him while fishing out his badge.

    “We are Special Agents in Lord N’s private task force. Our rank is Captain. Stand down.” he answered, trying to sound as confident and alpha as he could. The guard was unimpressed however and repeated his request.

    “Please state your clearance level.” he clarified. “Your rank is insufficient information.” Lennon grit his teeth and took a small step back.

    “…B.” he muttered. The Plasma Captains knew what was about to have to happen; McCartney began casually walking closer as nonchalantly as he could.

    “This is a tier A restricted zone. You have improper clearance; I cannot allow you entrance. Please leave.” the guard stated firmly. His fixed gaze remained firmly anchored forward. The dismissed Captains were of utterly no significance to him anymore. Lennon sighed and tried to buy McCartney a few extra seconds of time.

    “Well, alright then. Thank you, good sir. We’ll just be on our–” Lennon said, but before he could finish his statement, a dull “thud!” sounded in front of him.

    “…way.” McCartney finished for him. He had snuck up along side of the guard and dropped a swift blow to the back of his head. The unconscious guard was significantly larger in stature than McCartney was, but the blow was struck in just the right place to drop him. To be honest, Lennon was mildly surprised that it had actually worked himself; he knelt down and took the man’s key card to open the door.

    Lennon and McCartney said no further words. They simply exchanged a look and a nod before continuing on. Lennon opened the sturdy door and the pair snuck in. From there on out, they would be traitors to Team Plasma. It would only be a matter of time before the unconscious guard would be discovered. Pulling their hoods over their eyes, the agents slipped into the shadows and the darkness to complete their mission.

    * * *

    It very quickly became apparent to the former Plasma agents why this new part of the castle had been so strictly guarded. While the main portion of the interior had been admittedly dark and gothic, it was nothing like this. Shadows were more abundant than light in the eerie cobblestone hallways, and a faint smell of brimstone singed their noses. Corridors barely big enough to let one person through suddenly expanded into cavernous intersections, each one splitting off into three other paths into the seemingly endless maze. Blindly moving forward, knowing only generally where they were going and what lay ahead, Lennon and McCartney silently trekked on in search of their prize. Their hoods were drawn like assassins to hide their faces, but though the faint sound of people could be occasionally heard in the perpetual “distance,” no one seemed to be around to notice the spies.

    I’ve never seen anything like this…” Lennon thought to himself. The catacombs of the castle seemed more fitting for a dungeon than a royal palace. Whatever this all was, it was a side of Team Plasma he and McCartney had never seen before. Fear was beginning to creep upon him as they strode through the passageways. He wanted more than anything to be able to speak to his partner, if only to calm his nerves, but he knew the idle chatter would just be noise that could get them discovered. He continued on, focusing on the task at hand.

    For Lord N…” he reassured himself.

    After what seemed like over an hour, the occasional sounds of people talking in the distance that had been dogging them seemed to grow louder and more frequent. They had been wandering the catacombs blindly, and while they knew what they were looking for and knew they would know it when they saw it, they really had no concept of where exactly within the endless hallways it was. The increasing sounds were somewhat reassuring that they were on the right track, but also made them more cautious of being spotted.

    “Get Boldore ready, Lennon.” McCartney whispered. Lennon laid a hand over Boldore’s Pokéball on the holster beneath his cloak.

    The hallway they had been traveling down came to another intersection like the hundred they had already passed before. Down the corridor to their left however was a bright light about fifty feet away. Cautious and distinctly aware of the lack of cover, Lennon and McCartney slowly began heading down it, being as quiet as could be. They stopped when they neared the end.

    The light source had come from a reasonably large antechamber at the end of the corridor. The large, bulbous room was lit by a half-dozen torches lining the walls. On the far wall were a set of massive iron doors, designed exactly like the ones that had led them into this portion of the castle but over twice as tall and wide. The door was guarded by four Plasma grunts, lazily standing about the antechamber and not very dutifully honoring their posts. To be fair, they had little reason to; they weren’t expecting anyone to have broken into the castle and to have come all this way without being spotted. Today was not their lucky day however…

    “This is it. It has to be.” McCartney whispered. They were still hidden by the shadows of the hallway, just out of sight of the guards. “I count four of them in total; one by the door, one on the left, two on the right. The goddesses have to be inside. You ready to do this?” he asked. Lennon took a breath and nodded silently. They drew their Pokéballs and prepared to take the big plunge.

    The four guards were completely inattentive. One of the two leaning against the wall to the Plasma Captains’ right lazily kicked at a pebble that lay on the stone floor at his feet. The man beside him took a breath to speak, but didn’t make it very far into his bored statement.

    “Did you see the Druddigon game last ni–” he started to say, but was cut off.

    “Poison Gas!” McCartney shouted. Before any of them even had an inkling as to what was happening, a billowing cloud of purple smoke filled the room. It very quickly shrouded the lot of them, both obscuring their vision and sending them into violent fits of coughing. Blinded and incapacitated, the traitors pressed the attack.

    “Ahh! Ahh… attack!” the nominal “leader” of the troop wheezed through the smoke, but he could barely even stand, similar to the rest of his squad. As Lennon’s Boldore stomped into the room, his trainer gave a command.

    “Smack Down, Boldore!” Lennon commanded. Standing just on the edge of Garbodor’s Poison Gas cloud, the Ore Pokémon took careful aim and lobbed a small but dangerous projectile at the two guards he could see. Completely unable to defend themselves, the two of them collapsed to the floor, knocked unconscious by the blows to the head. The other two however were obscured by the smog, unable to defend themselves but also somewhat protected from their attackers. Realizing what was happening, the one who had spoken drew a Pokémon of his own.

    “Quick! Mandibuzz, help us!” one of the two remaining agents coughed. Tossing a Pokéball blindly into the haze, the harsh “caw!” of his partner Pokémon sounded.

    “Defog!” he shouted. The Bone Vulture Pokémon gave several strong flaps of her wings, pushing the remaining gas down the hallway behind Lennon and McCartney. It had cleared the noxious fumes and restored both visibility and the guards’ ability to breathe comfortably, but it had also cleared Boldore and Garbodor’s line of sight.

    “Who’s there?” the two remaining guards coughed as the smoke cleared. “Show your–” he started to say, but as he realized who or what had attacked them, he cut himself short.

    “You… you’re Team Plasma agents.” he whispered in disbelief. Lennon and McCartney stood before them, side-by-side with their Pokémon flanking them powerfully. Their hoods were drawn and their stances firm. They looked dangerous and were careful to not reveal their faces.

    “Stand down. We don’t want to have to hurt you too.” Lennon said. The tension was thick as the guards remained silent in disbelief. After a few tense seconds, the guard with the Mandibuzz grasped at his comrade’s arm.

    “Quick, alert the others!” he said. The other guard reached under his cloak and pulled out a transmitter of some kind, but before he could activate it, Boldore shot it out of his hands. The device shattered as it struck the wall behind him. Boldore made a low creaking sound as a stern warning to the guard.

    “What did we just say?” McCartney asked, trying to sound intimidating. The guard who had pulled out the transmitter snarled and turned back around.

    “So you want a fight, do ya?” he growled. Pulling out a Pokéball to match his partner, he threw it to oppose Lennon and McCartney. A proud, strong looking Sawsbuck sprang out, landing on the ground loudly as its hooves struck the stones. Lennon and McCartney snarled under their hoods at the unfortunate response they had gotten. They couldn’t be too upset though; it was what they themselves would have done if confronted with such a situation before meeting N.

    “I’ll only say it one more time: stand down.” Lennon repeated firmly. “We don’t want to have to hurt you also, but we will if we have to.” he said. The guards were unafraid however; commands flew to initiate attacks.

    “Mandibuzz, Bone Rush!”

    “Sawsbuck, Nature Power!”

    With no choice but to fight back, the battle proper had begun.

    The shrill cry of the imposing Mandibuzz once again filled the air. Grasping one of the bones tucked away in her scraggy feathers, the Bone Vulture flew with terrific speed towards Lennon’s Boldore. Despite being a Flying-type against a type advantageous Rock-type Pokémon, the Bone Rush attack was a Ground-type move and would actually work very effectively if it managed to connect. Lennon was reluctant to have to fight, but he knew he had to act fast. Accepting his fate, he called for a counterattack.

    “Rock Blast, Boldore!” he shouted. His sturdy companion began firing a steady stream of rocky projectiles towards the incoming missile of a bird, but she gracefully spun past them in the air as she continued her approach. The Mandibuzz screeched again as she flew in close, and with tremendous strength, took a powerful swing at her opponent. Boldore made a low, shaky grunt as he withstood the strike from her bone, but it was obvious that several more attacks like that would take their toll. The Mandibuzz began circling back around for another pass.

    Across the room, the Sawsbuck’s eyes and hooves began to strongly glow. Rearing up on its hind legs, the Season Pokémon whinnied and came crashing down on the cobblestone ground a moment later. Its Nature Power attack utilized what was available to it and sent a hailstorm of jagged stones out of the ground towards McCartney’s Garbodor. The Plasma Captain knew there was no time to dodge, so he would have to improvise and rely on brute strength.

    “Garbodor, use Acid Spray!” he commanded sternly. A sizzling, burning wash of green liquid shot from one of the pipes on Garbodor’s messy body. The acid met the stones in midair and was powerful enough to erode them into nothing more than harmless pebbles in just an instant. The Acid Spray was only mildly deterred by the obstacle; it continued through the air and connected with the grassy exterior of the opposing Sawsbuck. The deer screamed in pain as it singed the foliage on its horns. Shaking the spray away, the Grass-type Pokémon had taken serious damage from the Poison-type attack.

    Things weren’t going so well for Lennon. The Mandibuzz continued to dodge Boldore’s shrapnel fire of Rock Blast as it turned back around for its second pass. Boldore would need an easy, close range shot if it was going to compete against the Mandibuzz’s speed; luckily, Lennon had a plan.

    “Boldore, just wait for it to come in. Get ready to tense up on my signal.” he ordered. The Ore Pokémon growled again and hunkered down to take the attack. With a clear window of opportunity, the Mandibuzz cried shrilly again and made a beeline for her opponent, bone at the ready to strike. Picking up speed to strengthen the attack, she shot forward and took aim. Just before the second blow connected, Lennon gave a new command.

    “Iron Defense!” he shouted. Boldore’s body became coated in a thin layer of steel, rendering the attack much less effective and temporarily stunning the Mandibuzz from the unexpected level of resistance her attack was met with. Her head ringing and slowed down for the moment, Boldore saw his window to strike.

    “Smack Down, go, now!” Lennon cried. Boldore shot a razor-sharp rock towards the exposed midsection of his opponent. Unable to defend herself against it, the attack sent the clipped and weakened Mandibuzz to her back on the ground.

    The second guard’s Sawsbuck was damaged, but had managed to shake off all of the acid from Garbodor’s attack. It was at less than half health however and didn’t have a particularly good comeback strategy. His trainer knew he had to buy them some time, so he issued a new command.

    “Horn Leech, Sawsbuck!” he shouted angrily. The strong, emboldened elk once again reared up on its hind legs to psych itself up, then began sprinting towards its opponent with its head tucked in to charge. If the Horn Leech attack was successful, it would restore some of the damage dealt as health back to him; that assumed it managed to do damage in the first place however. The Trash Heap Pokémon stood his ground and waited for a counter command.

    Lennon and the guard with the Mandibuzz were in the final stage of their own battle. The Mandibuzz was clipped and unable to fly. Meanwhile, Boldore was still relatively healthy and poised to strike a finishing blow. The Mandibuzz stirred herself and realized what was about to happen, but she couldn’t get away.

    “Boldore, finish this. Rock Blast.” Lennon said calmly. Boldore did not overdo the attack. Peppering the weakened Mandibuzz with one last spray, Boldore finished his fight and stood triumphant over his defeated opponent. McCartney gave his own final command seconds later.

    “Garbodor, Sludge Bomb.” he said just a bit less calmly. Garbodor had a clean shot at the charging Season Pokémon. Lobbing a bundle of dripping slime, the Poison-type attack covered the weakened Grass-type and sent it tumbling to the ground beside his teammate. The double battle was over, and Lennon and McCartney had won.

    “Now then…” Lennon said, adjusting his hood to further cover his eyes. “Stand. Aside.” he said firmly and coolly. The guards looked at their defeated Pokémon in disbelief and growled angrily.

    “Not on your life!” the one with the Mandibuzz shouted. Lennon sighed and was disappointed.

    “I’m sorry to hear that…” he said. “Boldore?” he continued; two more unconscious and slightly bloodied bodies hit the floor a moment later.

    Lennon and McCartney returned their Pokémon to their Pokéballs. In their wake were four unconscious Plasma agents and two soundly defeated Pokémon. The sight was a saddening one, but somehow not as appalling as Lennon had anticipated it being. Their act of defiance against Team Plasma had been strangely therapeutic for the Plasma Captain. Stepping over the bodies, the pair approached the door.

    “Ready?” Lennon asked.

    “Ready.” McCartney replied. On the count of three, the pair worked together to open one of the sturdy doors. They managed to drag it just far enough open to get through.

    Inside the doors was a lavish, frilly bedchamber. Dim candles lit the flickering room and gave the boudoir a hint of a sensual air to it. The room itself was massive though; several other smaller rooms branched off from the main foyer, one of which directly in front of them held a grand circular bed with pink linens. The Plasma Captains nervously looked around for the prize which they sought.

    “Hello?” Lennon softly called out. No verbal response came, but a rustling noise from one of the rooms on their right sounded.

    From the room, two younger-middle aged women nervously appeared. They were understandably surprised at the sight of their unexpected visitors, especially given the commotion that had just gone on outside. The women were exceptionally beautiful however and lavishly dressed. They wore flowing silk gowns, trimmed at the breast and without sleeves. One had long, flowing hair in a washed-out pink color, and the other had much shorter hair, but done up like rabbit ears and in a similarly washed-out blonde. The second one spoke.

    “W-who are you?” she asked, not surprisingly with some trepidation. Lennon and McCartney fell to one knee instantly and, placing their right hands across their knees and on the hilt of their swords, removed their hoods out of respect.

    “Your Graces, Lord N is in trouble.” Lennon said simply. The two women nodded their heads.

    “Lead the way.” they said in unison.

    * * *

    Sweet smelling smoke drifted into the air from a crackling campfire along the shore of a river on Route 10. The sun was setting, blanketing the area in a rich, amber red. Route 10 was renowned as one of the absolute most beautiful parts of the entire Unova region. Virtually nowhere else in the region could match its natural beauty, and it was certainly the most beautiful place David had ever personally been. He, Cheren, Bianca and Paula sat around the campfire as their other Pokémon finished their dinner by the river. A calm, quiet lull had fallen over their conversation temporarily; it was peaceful and gave David a chance to think.

    Route 10 was a somewhat shorter route, running through a gorge that led from Opelucid City at the southern end to Victory Road and the Elite Four’s Pavilion in the north. Situated as it was, the route was surrounded on all sides by the rocky enclosure. A river ran through the middle of the route that would widen and expand into the bay that ultimately divided Central and Eastern Unova farther south. It traced its humble beginnings back to Route 10 however where it flowed down from glaciers in the Wastelands to the north. The rest of the route was filled with strong, sweet smelling pine trees like could be found in such abundance nowhere else in the world. The route was full of things to remind one of both the scale and power of the nature around them. The area was virtually perfect in its untouched and pristine beauty.

    As David stared into the fire and thought about his upcoming challenge at the Pokémon League, he noticed Paula stir across from him unexpectedly. She looked up and stared into the bushes behind him with a curious gaze. The fins along her face twitched slightly and she seemed to be sensing something. David spoke up to question her.

    “Something wrong, Paula?” he asked mentally, as so to not disturb Cheren and Bianca. Paula’s gaze remained fixed however and she did not move.

    “We are not alone, master. There are people nearby.” she replied. David turned and looked quizzically at the bushes behind him.

    “Anyone we know?” he asked again. Paula sighed and looked back down into her empty bowl.

    “Yes, I am afraid so, master.” she said reluctantly. She rose and began straightening her gown.

    Bianca and Cheren noticed their traveling companions’ strange behavior and movement. Cheren started to say something, but David calmly held a finger to his lips and pointed towards the bushes. He rose to meet Paula and began walking towards the leafy cover.

    “Is someone in there?” he asked. “Come on out; we won’t hurt you.” he said. He immediately regretted the remark however.

    Lennon and McCartney emerged from the forest, hands visibly raised above their heads, and with completely calm, placid, reserved, looks on their faces. They moved exaggeratedly slowly and with very careful movements. They were trying to give off as much of an air of non-combativeness as they could.

    “You two.” David growled in displeasure. “You’ve got a lot of nerve just waltzing in here like this. Care to explain yourselves?” he asked venomously. Paula began very faintly radiating telekinetic energy just as a precautionary warning.

    “David, we mean you no harm. We have not come as your enemies. Please just let us explain.” McCartney said overly calmly. They continued to keep their hands above their heads, but also continued walking forward.

    “Fine, but you can do it from there. Take one more step and you lose what little trust I have in you two.” David said sternly. Doing as they were told, Lennon and McCartney stopped short.

    David was silent for a moment. He hadn’t actually expected them to stop. He figured this was some sort of a trap, but their actions were certainly believable if it was.

    “Master, this is most peculiar. Their psychic energies indicate their intentions are in fact genuine.” Paula said telepathically. “…and there are others.” she continued faintly. David was even more surprised by this second remark however.

    “Paula says you’ve brought someone with you…” David said skeptically. Lennon and McCartney both nodded in unison a single time. McCartney then spoke.

    “We have come to help you, David, as the Hero of Truth. We have brought with us a pair of individuals who can give you valuable information. We have come a long way and committed terrible acts to help you. All we ask is for your trust.” he explained carefully. David was still skeptical, but this was such a radical paradigm shift if it was true that he had no choice but to lend it at least some credence.

    David was disarmed. He hated Team Plasma with a passion and he hated these two more than anyone else in the organization, Ghetsis excluded, but he felt strangely as if there really was no trick being played. He knew he couldn’t necessarily trust his instincts, but he knew he could unequivocally trust Paula, and she said there was no danger. After a moment, David bit his lip and motioned for them to relax and come forward. Lennon and McCartney lowered their arms and sighed.

    Turning around, the Plasma Captains motioned to the foliage they had just come from and indicated for someone else to join them. From the woods came the two women who they had found at the castle. They were completely calm and serene, seeming to be practically the human versions of Paula at first glance. The women joined Lennon and McCartney in the clearing and bowed their heads to David and his friends.

    “How do you do?” they asked in unison. David was now completely lost and taken aback.

    “Um… I… uh… fine?” he stammered quizzically. “Who… who are you?” he asked. The women continued to smile and raised their heads.

    “I am Anthea.” said the woman with longer, pink hair.

    “And I am Concordia.” said the woman with the blonde, rabbit-ear hair.

    “We are the Goddesses of Team Plasma.” Anthea continued.

    “We raised Lord N from his infancy. We were his surrogate mothers.” Concordia finished. The Pokémon trainers each gasped very slightly under their breath at the news.

    There was silence for a few seconds as this information washed over the group. After the seconds dragged on into awkwardness however, Paula finally broke the silence.

    “Please join us, will you not?” she asked politely. David was surprised at the gesture as it stirred him from his mild stupor, but Paula was equally surprised at her trainer’s rudeness. The goddesses smiled at the Gardevoir and nodded.

    “Thank you.” they said in unison. Paula gracefully twirled her arm and showed them the humble logs on which the group had been previously sitting. Lennon and McCartney apprehensively followed after.

    The group gathered around the still roaring campfire, taking up seats along the edges. Lennon and McCartney flanked Anthea and Concordia for protection, with David seated across from them in the circle. He still didn’t completely trust the Plasma Captains; he wanted to get to the bottom of this.

    “Okay, now wait…” he said as everyone got situated. “I think I’m missing something here. Why exactly are you two helping us now?” he asked. Lennon showed a mild degree of anger in his tone, but swallowed his pride after having come so far.

    “We’re not doing it for you, Hero; we’re doing this for Lord N.” he growled. “Ever since Dragonspiral Tower, he’s been… different. Zekrom has been changing him; messing with his mind somehow. He hardly seems like the same person at times; he still talks the same and looks the same, but he’s gotten more violent and aggressive. He hardly seems to notice the Pokémon he’s hurting to get his Gym Badges, and he almost seems to revel in how badly Zekrom is able to destroy them. That thing is unimaginably power. It’s changing him, and we knew we needed to stop it.” he explained.

    “The goddesses are practically a myth among Team Plasma. Only high ranking officials like us even know they really exist.” McCartney filled in. “We want to help you win against Lord N, not because we want him to fail, but because we realize Zekrom is eating him alive. He’s going to lose himself to that thing if this keeps up. We… we’ve betrayed Team Plasma to do this…” he continued.

    David was silent and reflective of what he had heard. Lennon and McCartney showed obvious remorse at the actions they had taken, but he also believed their claims simply on face value because of it. He felt almost compassion for them; he still hated Lennon’s ugly mug, but… maybe just a little bit less after hearing that.

    “Your actions betray our organization, Plasma Captains, but your hearts and intentions are pure.” Anthea said. “You have love for the Pokémon and you have love for Lord N. Affiliations to a flag are meaningless if those things hold true.” she continued. Lennon and McCartney smiled at her in thanks.

    “You are the Hero of Truth, spoken of in the prophecy then?” Concordia asked. David turned to face her and nodded. “Then these truly are the times that our N has been preparing for his whole life…” she continued solemnly.

    “These two say you can help us somehow. I believe them. I know I have to.” David said. “What can you tell us though? What is it I need to know?” he asked. Concordia sighed and closed her eyes. Looking down and folding her hands on top of her lap, she began to speak.

    “It all started 20 years ago…” she began.

  22. #272
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    Wahoooooo!!!! A new chapter! Great as always ChaosBlizzard!
    I have:
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    White 2

    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  23. #273
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    At last!! I've really missed reading this. It's nice to know that the next chapter will be up soon again; I missed the organized chapter drops (Although it's understandable that you can't really do them anymore, since, well. You have life to deal with. XD)

    Anyways! Onto reviewing! Short chapter, I'm not used to these from you, so I don't think I have a whole lot to say, but I think I'll have enough. It was a good chapter overall, and a nice break of pace from your other chapters.

    ------------

    1. I really like how you're setting up N. Having an almighty, powerful, pseudo-god attached to your very soul must have some affects on the person's personality, no matter how 'pure' this person is. Zekrom's power corrupting kind, gentle, peace-loving N perfectly captures that. I mean, if you knew the Pokemon you had could basically ram through anything, well, power goes to the head real easy. I really like the beginning of this chapter.

    2. Poor Burgh. But that, to me, was a pretty powerful scene. Like, how did the Gym Leaders feel when N ran through their teams with Zekrom/Reshiram? It couldn't have been easy, no. Watching Burgh, a Gym Leader, a trainer who is known to be fully capable, get completely destroyed. That's some really intense stuff. We said we wanted more Burght but... This? You're too cruel. XD

    3. When you first introduced Lennon and McCartney, you said that this would happen. Not explicitly, but you mentioned it. I didn't believe it, I forgot about it, and I did not like them, particularly Lennon, although McCartney got away easy because he was just quieter. This chapter really shifted that opinion. The two hate David. They love N. They love Team Plasma. David is the bane of both things, and yet, when they realize the bigger picture, they go back and try to correct what is wrong. And they go against everything they know to help David gain the materials needed to defeat N. Even if it goes against their every grain to do so. I really like this plot twist, and I really like how it was written.

    4. There were a few spelling errors, but I'm admittedly too lazy to go back and find them. They were really small things, so I'm going to let someone else take care of that. I go for overall impact.

    5. I'm also going to admit, I had to reread this part a few times. I read that David was with his friends, and then later on, I noticed that David was the only one talking to Lennon and McCartney, and it made me wonder, where's the other two go? And then I re-read, and I noticed David kind of shush Cheren, which is a tad bit rude of him. And, I'm sure there's a reason why, but after re-reading four times, I still don't understand why David is the only one talking. I get he is the main guy, and Lennon's primarily talking to David, but I imagine Bianca and Cheren would still have something to say. I would have had something to say if I were in their situation, even if I wasn't being addressed. I'm sure I missed something, but if not, then I guess it'd be best to point that out. And if not, then my bad. XP

    ------------

    And that's it! Thanks so much for the cliffhanger. I mean, we all just love cliffhangers! (jk, that was a good part to leave off on I guess. haha)
    I am thoroughly excited for more! I put off reading the Hunger Games to read this, and I will gladly do it again for the next chapter. Good luck and happy writing! (:

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  24. #274
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    Wow ok i've been away for a while but the 5 newest chapters are very interesting
    I liked how you did the last gym battles and can't wait for the pokemon league
    Are they going to catch something with the masterballs?

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  25. #275
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    Hey guys. New chapter (and ergo the end of the contest) hopefully by the end of the weekend. Summer classes begin on Monday, but hopefully the semester will start kinda light so I'll still have time for this.

    EDIT: Right, so... remember when I said it would be up by the end of the weekend? About that...

    It's currently about 11pm on Sunday, and I've been working on the chapter literally almost all day. I've been working on the last section for about the last hour and a half now and I just can't quite get it right. I'm starting to get to that point where I'm not really doing any good work anymore and I feel like I'm doing more harm than good, so I think I'm going to have to finish it tomorrow and/or Tuesday. That means the editing process will have to happen over the week, which means it will likely be posted around the start of next weekend. Sorry to disappoint.

    That said, the chapter is currently getting very close to being longer than Separation, which would make it the longest chapter to date. Even if it doesn't beat it out though, it would be very close, and would definitely be the second longest, bumping The Legend of Gustavo Riviera down to third. This is an incredibly important chapter and it covers a lot of very critical things. There are many, many things I've seen people complaining about throughout the course of the story that I did at the time knowing they were building up to events that would happen in this chapter. I really want to make sure I do this one right and I'm just not quite satisfied with it yet. Hopefully when it does come out, it'll just be that much better. Thanks for understanding, if you do. (end edit)

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    2. Poor Burgh. But that, to me, was a pretty powerful scene. Like, how did the Gym Leaders feel when N ran through their teams with Zekrom/Reshiram? It couldn't have been easy, no. Watching Burgh, a Gym Leader, a trainer who is known to be fully capable, get completely destroyed. That's some really intense stuff. We said we wanted more Burght but... This? You're too cruel. XD
    I'm glad that scene is well received (is it still "well received" if it is only one person's opinion?). I rewrote that section several times, each time pretty fundamentally altering the tone of the exchange. Glad it turned out correctly in the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    3. When you first introduced Lennon and McCartney, you said that this would happen. Not explicitly, but you mentioned it. I didn't believe it, I forgot about it, and I did not like them, particularly Lennon, although McCartney got away easy because he was just quieter. This chapter really shifted that opinion.
    That's really encouraging to hear actually. I remember when the Cold Storage chapter came out and everyone suddenly vehemently disliked Lennon and McCartney, I was worried I had overdone it on them back then. Good to hear things are going back to their favor as we progress. I think you guys will like how they end up as characters.

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    And then I re-read, and I noticed David kind of shush Cheren, which is a tad bit rude of him. And, I'm sure there's a reason why, but after re-reading four times, I still don't understand why David is the only one talking. I get he is the main guy, and Lennon's primarily talking to David, but I imagine Bianca and Cheren would still have something to say. I would have had something to say if I were in their situation, even if I wasn't being addressed.
    That wasn't intentional, but I'm glad you brought it to my attention. Those two characters just didn't have anything to say; there was no reason for them to speak. I can see how it would be interpreted that way however.

    Quote Originally Posted by NACHOE! View Post
    #turnedinmyTrainerEntry!
    You put some kind of hash tag for something in nearly every post you make it seems like.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tepig 5000 View Post
    Are they going to catch something with the masterballs?
    David explicitly will, and Cheren implicitly will. I haven't decided on Bianca yet. I'm considering the possibility that hers might get used, but not necessarily by her; beyond that though I really haven't put a ton of thought into it on her end. David and Cheren definitely will however.
    Last edited by ChaosBlizzard; 7th May 2012 at 7:03 AM.

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