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Thread: Reverberations of Time

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    Reverberations of Time

    A mystery story about the meaning of coexistence


    In 2001, a 12-year old trainer named Kris sets out on an atypical journey that defies expectations. 20 years later, a boy of the same age, called Ernest, investigates the truth behind something horrific. How are the two stories intertwined?


    Clarifications

    1. This fanfic switches perspective every chapter. Odd-numbered chapters follow Ernest's story, while even-numbered chapters follow Kris'.

    2. The story is not battle-driven and is rather heavy on dialogue and inner thoughts. I hope that it still provides an enjoyable ride.

    3. As you can guess, Kris is the female protagonist from Pokémon Crystal, but her story is really a sequel to the main events from the Johto games. Ernest is a completely original character.

    4. I capitalize "Pokémon" and species names. I can't stand seeing them decapitalized, personally. You can think of capitalization as the characters being in awe of the creatures they see or talk about.


    Table of Contents

    Prologue (below)
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    Chapter 4
    Chapter 5

    The prologue is based on the opening of Pokémon Crystal, which I've long considered unexplained. The narrator is neither Ernest nor Kris, and you can guess who it is if you watch the opening.


    Prologue


    I am in a field, taking a rest from a long run. My body may be made of plentiful water, but I rely on food and rest all the same. The creatures around me are playing happily; particularly endearing are a Pichu and Wooper, who are too focused on each other to notice my presence.

    But this serenity comes to a grinding halt as my mind is suddenly engulfed. I hear their mysterious voices, transmitted to me via radio waves:

    COME NOW. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

    What is it they want of me? I dare not question their judgment, so I dash toward their location without having rested. As I start running, the playful Pichu and Wooper finally notice me, puzzled by what they see. Little do they know that my destination is the ruins: the only place where they agree to reveal themselves. Oddly, they have never summoned me before…. Rather, they have manifested in my dreams, from which I only recall feeling a strong connection to them.

    RUN FASTER.

    I am already running at maximum speed… And yet the urgency of their words gives me increased stamina. I am running faster than I ever have, and soon enough I enter the ruins. But where do I even begin looking in this maze of a place? There are multiple chambers which lead to yet more rooms.

    "Where are you?"

    ENTER THE PORTAL.

    A portal? Where is it and where does it lead? As I scan the ruins, chamber by chamber, I finally notice a crack in the walls. It seems much too small for me to go through, but when I get closer, my whole body is absorbed. What I see before me now is like nothing I have seen before, or at least remember. It is their world, which goes beyond my grasp.

    YOU HAVE FINALLY COME.

    "You could have made it easier for me. I'm exhausted."

    THOSE WHO SEEK ISOLATION ARE NEAR.

    "Who are they?"

    YOU WILL SEE.

    "This doesn't help me very much."

    THE TIME FOR ANSWERS IS NOT NOW.

    "What do you expect me to do with this information?"

    FIND THE ONE.

    "Whom?"

    YOU KNOW.

    They must mean the one that Ho-Oh has wanted me to find for a very long time.

    "I very much doubt that such a person exists. I have never seen one."

    YOUR OWN FAITH IS VITAL.

    "You have to tell me what this is all about."

    BOTH SIDES ARE AT RISK.

    "Both sides… Does that mean what I think it does?"

    FIND THE ONE THAT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

    "So, you already know who that is? Then tell me."

    WE CANNOT INTERFERE.

    I am expelled from the confounding world with great force. The first question I ask is…

    How much time do I have?
    Last edited by Kein; 4th November 2017 at 9:43 AM.

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    Chapter 1


    "Welcome to the Pokémon world; my name is Oak. This world is filled with remarkable creatures, about which there are still many mysteries my colleagues and I investigate every day. But enough about me. Your name is… Ernest, correct?"

    It's that dream again. I keep having it only to be disappointed when I wake up. Why is my mind subjecting me to this cruelty?

    Prof. Samuel Oak was a great man without whom the Pokédex project would have never come to fruition. And if that had been the case, I would have known very little about Pokémon. And the reason for that is…

    They've been gone for 19 years, since before I was born. All people say about it is that a strange plague wiped them out one after the other, until none were left. Mom doesn't like it when I ask her questions about this. She says that the less I know about Pokémon and their fate, the better off I will be.

    "The past is the past, and enough people have been burdened by it. You deserve better."

    As I came to learn two years ago, it wasn't just Pokémon that died, but also the likes of the late Oak who lost the will to live. That also goes for great grandfather Kurt, who was a friend of Samuel's.

    "The only thing he lived for was creating Poké Balls, which he considered pivotal to shaping the relationship between a trainer and their Pokémon."

    I still don't understand that sentence, but suffice to say that it doesn't matter now. Poké Balls no longer serve any purpose, or do they? All I know is that people around me refuse to say much of anything about Pokémon, but it is easy to tell that there is still a deep sadness lying beneath the surface. Most people seem to have moved on, but not without feeling blame for it. I have no idea what the world was really like before it changed so drastically, and I can only wish I had lived in another era. Pokémon must have been fascinating creatures based on the information documented in the Pokédex. A world with only humans… is bland, even to someone like me who doesn't know any better. I don't care for most people, if I'm being honest with myself.

    But I don't dislike my life, to be sure. Since Mom works at home and is a little overprotective, she has been home schooling me. Why is that a good thing? Because the world out there is dreary and void when you really think about it. In contrast, Mom has preserved some of those qualities her own childhood was filled with, so I don't need anyone else but her and granddad Vincent. He is an enthusiastic guy when it comes to technology, but I like him just for being a good friend and making me laugh. But his work usually keeps him busy, and it goes past that these days…

    My thought process is rudely interrupted.

    "Ernie, you should have been ready 15 minutes ago. Get a move on already."

    Those last words have a rough edge to them, but Mom's tone is actually soft, as if there were still time to spare. Nevertheless, I'd better focus on the trivial task of waking up right now. As I do so, I still ponder what Mom has been doing with her custom Poké Ball knowledge. Only an oblivious fool wouldn't notice that she's been awfully busy working at Silph Co. recently, along with granddad. He has worked in Saffron City for about 30 years now, but Mom only moved here after great grandfather Kurt died. For me, Saffron is the only home I know, and in fact, I've never left it.

    "For pete's sake, how long will it be till you come eat your breakfast?"

    "I'm coming. No need to get your panties in a bunch over something so banal."

    I go down the stairs and sit down at the table in front of Mom. There are delicious pancakes already prepared, no doubt made with almond milk just as I like them. But before I can take a bite...

    "Such cheekiness. I hope you never use such language with other people, but that doesn't make it okay to do so with your own mom."

    I've clearly hit a nerve, as evidenced by her shaking head. She has a point: I've been pretty agitated lately.

    "Sorry. I can't help it, but I'll try."

    She doesn't seem pleased but is willing to let it slide. She shrugs her shoulders and pours juice, only to change the subject.

    "As you know, I no longer have time to home school you. I want to start looking for a proper school."

    I've been dreading this moment. True enough, she has far less time for me these days. But isn't it cruel to send me out there all of a sudden?

    "That doesn't seem fair when you haven't even explained what it is you're doing now."

    "I'm helping granddad with a project. I can't say anything beyond that."

    And I can't stand it when she puts on the secretive act. That is not the mom I know.

    "Then I am not going to any school for boring kids."

    She is staring at me now, her eyes widened. Quite carefully at that.

    "I don't recall asking for your permission."

    So that's that? I need to convince her somehow, but she is already giving me an annoyed look.

    "I know that this project of yours is about Pokémon. I want to help."

    "Last I checked, you were a 12 years old kid. Cut the attitude and stop pretending that you're an expert on anything."

    Her head is shaking again. She looks older than her usual self, who isn't even 30 yet.

    "I may not be an expert, but I want to study about Pokémon. A school doesn't offer that education."

    A perfectly good comeback, I'd like to think.

    "Why should it? Pokémon are gone… The kids of today need to focus on what they can do, which has nothing to do with Pokémon. I wish you'd understand that already."

    Understand? Why would I?

    "I think you're a hypocrite. You have never done anything but create Poké Balls long after the plague. That tells me that things aren't as simple as you'd have me believe."

    Wow, I can't believe I've just said that to my own mom. She looks even more frustrated with me right about now.

    "A hypocrite? That's alarmingly disrespectful and shows how little you really know. My primary job is to be your mom and your way of showing gratitude leaves a lot to be desired."

    Her voice has become intimidating. I need to lighten up the mood sooner rather than later.

    "I… didn't mean to say that. My point is that you're moving onto something else now, and there is probably a good reason for that."

    She stands up and looks at me from above.

    "I will tell you about it when the time is right. But you are absolutely going to school – no questions asked."

    I resist the temptation to roll my eyes, since I know better than to get deeper into a debate. Mom can be scary when I don't control my mouth. And besides, I can handle going to school… while carrying out my investigation. She may be keeping her trap shut, but granddad is far worse at lying through his teeth. I just need to find the right time to ask him a few questions while Mom isn't watching my every move. That isn't likely to happen soon, though.

    "We are going to Saffron Academy first. I expect you to be on your best behavior, and it goes without saying that you are not to mention Pokémon. Finish eating and get dressed properly."

    Oh joy. The academy has always been this place I could go to if Mom finally decided it was time for me to be a normal kid, but I honestly could not care less about meeting new friends. So what's the point? It's just a way for her to do whatever it is she's doing without worrying about me. She may have found a way to distract me, but I'd be damned if it were that easy.
    Last edited by Kein; 25th October 2017 at 4:39 AM.

  3. #3

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    That was an interesting start.

    Having watched the opening you linked, I can only assume that the narrator is Suicune who is being summoned by the Unown. Unown want Suicune to find "the one" (who I assume is Kris) in order to prevent the event that would lead to Ernest's future. I do like the idea of having a story split into 'past' chapters and 'future' chapters. I wonder if these stories will play out separately with each lead character dealing with their own events in their timeline or if there will eventually be some sort of time traveling into the past (I would personally prefer the former since I would enjoy seeing a fresh take on a time traveling story). To be honest, I'm very curious about the world without Pokemon as well.

    One thing I thought was odd was the way chapter 1 ended. I felt it ended kind of abruptly. I felt it was a bit short and that not much of significance happened other than learning that there are no more Pokemon and that something is going on at Silph co. Maybe it's just my imagination.

    As far as the characters are concerned, there is not much I can say about Ernest. He wants a world with Pokemon and he thinks the current world is bland...but we don't ever get any insight as to why he feels that way so it doesn't really resonate with me. I believe a bit more reasoning would be very beneficial and help us understand Ernest more.

    I'm also curious: the way Ernest speaks is as if there is zero footage of the former Pokemon world left and that all there is left is Pokedex information. Are there no videos of Pokemon battles? From the League? From the tournaments? Footage from various events involving Pokemon? Is the Pokedex information all that really makes Ernest think that Pokemon were fascinating? Did the government have all the Pokemon footage removed? Is there no information or pictures online of the world when Pokemon were still alive?

    It's a solid beginning, and I'm curious to see where you take this story. Good luck!

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    This story's premise seems interesting enough. I like the idea of interchanging viewpoints between odd and even numbered chapters. Gives the story a certain uniqueness compared to other works I've seen lately. The interactions seem interesting enough, though his Mother's responses to his out of line statements isn't quite as reactive as I'd expected. Then again, not all moms are the same I guess.

    One thing I find hard to believe about the premise of pokemon having been wiped off the planet though is that other than people being in sorrow, the consequences of such an occurrence should've been much more severe. I say this because Pokemon are kind of the parallel to animals in our world and we all know that animals play a tremendous role in keeping the planet alive.

    For instance, the very extinction of one species could start a domino effect that'll kill a bunch several other species. Next, the ecosystem will drastically warp and the environment itself may possibly die. You have to admit that the extinction of something like say wolves or beavers alone won't drastically alter the environments they live in. I can't remember where, but the extinction of a certain species of wolves has caused a huge over abundance of red foxes somewhere.

    The point I'm trying to make is that if all Pokemon were to die so suddenly, the planet will be a hellhole if anything. Agriculture will be at risk without the pollinating Pokemon, there'll be no meat or bugs to eat either and so on.

    But! Since this is your story and you alone dictate what happens, it's perfectly fine to ignore all of that. There's no need for you to do everything for the sake of realism either, so I'm willing to set aside this blunder as well.

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    Thanks for the quick replies and thoughtful remarks. To address some of Yukki's points:

    1. Your assumptions about the prologue are correct.

    2. Obviously, I can't say how the two stories will play off each other. But they will definitely be separate for a good while.

    3. Your points about Pokemon footage or lack thereof will be addressed in Chapter 3.

    4. Yes, Chapter 1 could be longer, but the message I wanted to convey is that Ernest has led a sheltered life so far and there isn't a lot to tell about it. And now that he has a passion for creatures that no longer exist, he is being forced to go to a normal school for the first time.

    Since I'm using first person speech, I find it easier not to have Ernest think about his life all at once. The events and encouters that await him will hopefully help readers identify with him more.

    Onto DreamSayer:

    You're right in that I am not trying to be realistic. But how the world can go on without Pokemon will be addressed by people with a greater understanding than Ernest's.

    I envision people as being vegetarian to begin with (there has been no evidence to the contrary except for that creepy myth from Canalave Library), so that already explains a lot. I'll give the pollination aspect some thought.
    Last edited by Kein; 15th October 2017 at 10:49 PM.

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    This is an interesting start! A post-pokémon world, buried secrets, a protagonist who's just getting to that age where you think you know everything and in fact know nothing, a legendary on a mysterious mission; it's all sorts of intriguing. Ernest is a well observed portrait of that kind of kid, and there's a delicious impression that he's going to get in over his head if he pursues this line of enquiry – which of course he absolutely will.

    I like your prose style, too; it's spare and stark and quite effective in its restraint. The issue there is that you use the same sort of style for your dialogue, which has the effect of making both Ernest and his mother sound very much alike – and Ernest himself not quite like a twelve-year-old child. I feel like their dialogue could be softened a bit; it's quite clipped and clinical, and doesn't quite read naturally. Perhaps some of this is down to the way the characters don't feel very present. Ernest's mother shrugs once, and Ernest himself sits down and resists the urge to roll his eyes, but other than that, there isn't much to suggest that they're really there, especially given that the lack of dialogue attributions leaves the dialogue itself sort of cut off from the narration. You do better in the prologue, I think; I've got a much clearer sense of where Suicune is and what it's up to than I do with Ernest and his mother.

    Not that these flaws are the end of the world: I don't think it would take too much to polish up what you've got and make it a stronger start still. A little description, a few more actions here and there, so that people don't feel just like voices talking at each other – even just adding attributions to some of your dialogue would help, I think. Either way, you've got a cool premise here, and I'll be interested to see what you intend to do with it in future chapters.
    GO HOME
    Some people just won't see reason.

    ARBITRARY EXECUTION
    If the cover-up is real, it isn't a conspiracy theory. It's a conspiracy fact.

    TIME AND TIDE | A LEASH OF FOXES
    IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

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    Now this is an intriguing premise! I, too, really like the idea of splitting the story between past and future, and I’m also a big lover of Pokémon Crystal, so this looks like it’ll be right up my alley. In particular, there’s the fact that we don’t know how or why Pokémon were wiped out, only that there was a mass plague. I wouldn’t be surprised if clues and hints about what happened get dropped in Ernest’s storyline as we see the events unfolding in Kris’s timeline. There’s a ton of potential with that kind of dual storytelling, especially when it comes to foreshadowing reveals, so I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it!

    ~Chibi~



    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    September 02 Update: CHAPTER 27: “The Revolt” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 28 progress: 9/13 pages


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    The positivity in this thread is humbling. Thanks!

    You should know that this is my first time writing a story and I'm aware that setting descriptions are not my strong suit. From Ernest's perspective I think it's justified since he is too caught up in his own thoughts to move around too much, or care about it even when he does. His speech style is similar to his mom's since he really only knows her and his grandfather. But I should definitely explain that in the story itself, and make sure that other characters (especially Kris) don't share his traits.

    I'm going to add some descriptions to Chapter 1 for the sake of future readers. If anyone wants to be a beta reader, I'd really appreciate it.
    Last edited by Kein; 17th October 2017 at 12:44 AM.

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    Chapter 2


    "Wake up, dear."

    I see an old lady right in front of me. A tad on the large side, but her radiant face stands out despite her age. I slowly open my eyes and straighten my back.

    "You don't want to miss your stop, do you?"

    A rhetorical question if I ever heard one. I'm a little embarrassed now.

    "Oh, of course not. Thanks for waking me up, lady."

    She smiles and immediately cuddles her Snubbull that I only now notice. I take a moment to look at the scenery across the window. If we're close to New Bark Town, then this must be Route 29. There is a grassy patch not far from our position, and if my eyes aren't deceiving me, I detect a family of Sentret feeding a lone Hoppip. It's a heartwarming sight of the kind that always lifts my spirits up.

    I hear the lady's voice again.

    "You aren't a Pokémon trainer, are you?"

    Is it that obvious?

    "No, but I am on my way to meet Prof. Elm. I hope that he agrees to give me a starter Pokémon today."

    "Oh? But only New Bark trainers are supposed to get a starter from Elm. You're from Violet City, aren't you?"

    "That's true, but…"

    I figure that it would be easier to show her the e-mail than to explain it myself. She looks confused when I take out my Pokégear.

    "What's this, dear?"

    "Please read it. It explains everything."

    Confused, she takes out her glasses and holds the device up close. Of course, I remember the words by heart.

    "Dear Kris,

    Thanks for your interest in my research. I will be happy to meet you at my lab whenever you can visit.

    Best regards,

    Elliot Elm"

    The old lady takes her time, even though there isn't much to read. Her Snubbull looks bored, eyeing me closely.

    "I see. It seems that you managed to get Elm to take an interest in you. Whatever did you say to him?"

    "Nothing much. Just that his ideas about the effects of Pokémon walking alongside their trainers fascinate me, and I would love to help him prove that he's right."

    "Pokémon walking alongside their trainers? Why, my Snubbull is always around me. What's so special about that?"

    "Are you a trainer?"

    "Don't be silly, dear. My Snubbull needs to stay clean at all times."

    "And you aren't on a journey, correct?"

    She laughed a little too loudly.

    "Of course not."

    "So I don't think that the two situations are comparable."

    "Whatever you say, dear. So I take it that your parents approve of your going on a journey as a new trainer?"

    That… isn't really something I'd like to answer truthfully, and her calling me "dear" is getting a little annoying.

    "Oh, yes. All of my neighbors have already left home, and my parents want the best for me."

    I wish that were true.

    "How wonderful. Well, if you're on your way to Elm's lab, I believe that the next stop is your destination."

    "Yes, I know. Thanks so much for making sure that I don't miss it."

    I reach out my arm to pet her Snubbull, who bites my finger.

    "Ouch!"

    "Oh, Nelly. That is no way to say goodbye. Apologize at once."

    Nelly looks somewhat scared. Eventually, she comes closer and licks my wound that she inflicted. I wish I could say it wasn't a forced gesture. It's pretty cute, though.

    Before I know it, the bus comes to a stop.

    "Farewell, dear. Don't begrudge Nelly, now."

    "I won't. Bye!"

    As I descend from the bus, the windmills around the houses immediately get my attention. Kids are running around happily with a pair of adorable Teddiursa cubs following suit… The pastoral atmosphere is amazing. I guess it's true: The wind here truly is a pleasant sign of a fresh new start. And boy, do I need it. That lie I told that lady… It's a big one. Well, I am sure that dad wants me gone, but he didn't seem too pleased when I told him about going to meet Elm. He called it a ridiculous idea.

    "You foolish girl. You flunked all of your exams at Earl's academy… If your own teacher doesn't think that you have what it takes to be a trainer, why would a stranger waste his time on you? You're a failure."

    I couldn't tell if dad was drunk when he said that, but does it matter? I've learned that he is most honest when he can barely walk his way to the bedroom. I can never forget what he said when I was about seven years old…

    "It is your own bloody fault that I lost her. It was you that should have died, but your mom paid the price for your worthless self. She died knowing that there was no point to your life."

    No, no… I could never believe something so crazy. I did not ask to be born; mom wanted me to live. I… will let her exist through me, and believe that I can make her proud.

    Suddenly, I hear someone call out my name.

    "Kris? Are you Kris?"

    A brown-haired girl stands before me. She looks to be around my age, but taller. Her outfit is a bit unorthodox, especially that bulbous hat. I wouldn't want to wear that, but then again, kids at school would often mock my kippah. I appreciate the bold style.

    "Yes. How do you know my name?"

    "I am Prof. Elm's assistant. He told me that you were coming."

    "Oh, nice to meet you! I didn't know he had such a young assistant."

    "Well, now you do. How was your ride?"

    "It wasn't too long, and I managed to get some rest. Hey, what's your name?"

    "Lyra. And right behind me is Snout, my Marill."

    The blue mouse emerges to give me a smile. I instantly approach him.

    "Nice to meet you, Snout."

    Lyra picks him up before I can touch him.

    "Snout doesn't like it when strangers get so close. Sorry!"

    But Snout seems pretty comfortable to me. I give him a kiss on the cheek, making him blush.

    "Oh, that's okay. I already got one Pokémon upset in the last 10 minutes, so I figure that Snout here wants me to feel more welcome."

    Lyra doesn't seem too pleased about that. Hmm, maybe she's overly maternal?

    "We should really get going. Prof. Elm has other things to do today."

    "Oh? Could I ask what he is busy with?"

    "The new champion is coming back home. We are preparing a huge party to honor his victory. Exciting!"

    "A new champion? I think I heard one of my neighbors talk about Lance losing to someone recently. Who is he?"

    "Ethan. He's a childhood friend of mine, and I really do need to get going so I can arrange the party. And you must be eager to meet Prof. Elm, right?"

    Ethan? I remember that name from the reports about Team Rocket being stopped. First they mentioned the incident in Mahogany Town, where Lance and a young boy helped foil Team Rocket's plan to force the Magikarp in Lake of Rage to evolve. At that time, the boy's identity was not disclosed. But a few days afterwards, it was revealed that his name was Ethan, and that he had singlehandedly defeated the entire organization at Goldenrod's Radio Tower. Apparently, they were attempting to contact their ex-leader as well as send out the evolution-inducing radio waves all over Johto. The latter would have been excruciating! Evolution is a gradual process, and according to experts such as Prof. Elm, forced evolution could result in a disease.

    "Kris, are you with me?"

    "What? Oh, yes. Let's go."

    Ignoring Lyra's somewhat condescending tone, I start following her and Snout along the pavement. There are hardly any cars around and I am guessing that it won't take too long to get to the lab. But my mind is elsewhere: I hope I get to meet this Ethan. He is about my age, I assume. How amazing that someone so young could be so accomplished… I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous.

    "Don't worry. We're very close." Lyra shouted from ahead of me.

    "Great. Say, how long have you worked for Prof. Elm?"

    "For about two years. He asked me to be his assistant for the Pokéwalker project. You know about that, right?"

    "Oh, yes. They told us about it at the academy. It's a project conducted all over the region, which was meant to determine if walking with Pokémon without battling could increase their potential. And you proved that it could!"

    "Yep. You know your stuff, but it isn't that simple. We proved that growth is very slow when done this way, as in slow compared to regular training."

    "Maybe you've missed something?"

    "I think I know about this more than you do."

    "Just thinking aloud, sorry."

    As someone who doesn't share Ethan's lofty goals, I am not sure I want to even battle on a casual basis. As dad said, I have shown absolutely no affinity for battling. Something about battles simply gets me agitated. The journey I want to take… is one I need for a happier life. I just want to get away from dad, and maybe, just maybe, understand Pokémon a little better.

    And that means never letting Poké Balls separate us.
    Last edited by Kein; 1st November 2017 at 2:13 PM.

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    Another chapter before I go on (a hopefully short) hiatus as a result of my stupid laptop needing a repair.


    Chapter 3



    We're on our way to Saffron Academy. I'm fairly nervous and for whatever reason, Mom is too busy driving to say anything. So I'll do the talking.

    "Mom, is it true that the Saffron gym and dojo were demolished to make room for the academy?"

    She pauses before answering, her eyes still on the road.

    "Yes, but that has nothing to do with the purpose of the academy, which is teaching students about the world of today."

    I don't want to leave it at that.

    "Why were the gym and dojo shut down?"

    "You know why. Don't act dumb."

    "You used to tell me things about the past. Now you get annoyed every time I ask."

    She looks at me, no longer annoyed. She might even be sad.

    "You're right. It's complicated, and right now I just want you to adjust to the academy. That should be our priority."

    Wait, what?

    "I thought we were were just going to look around. Aren't you getting ahead of yourself?"

    "I said that we were going to look for a school, but really, this is the best choice. I want you to have the best academic experience."

    "I was happy with the life and education you gave me. This isn't fair."

    "What isn't fair is that I didn't make this decision years ago. I was young and naďve."

    She is young for a mom, having turned 29 just recently.

    "I think that you did make the right call and we should just go back home."

    "That isn't how it works. Now stop this guilt trip."

    A long silence follows. Having nothing more to say, I just look at the heavy traffic and the herd of people running around with suitcases along the sidewalks. I hate this; I can deal with our more homely neighborhood, but even then, I only wander the streets when there is no one around. Mom says that she made a mistake in telling me stories about her life as a young kid in Azalea Town with her grandpa and Dopey, the family pet Slowpoke. They were so happy until one day, when she was just 10, it all stopped. Dopey had a brief yet painful death, the other Slowpoke followed and eventually, Mom came to learn that every single Pokémon was gone. Just like that, her life was turned upside down.

    What exactly was I supposed to do with this information? The world I know is a shadow of its former self and people are just pretending that it's all okay. All I can think about is what if I had lived before this ugly change.

    "There is a lot on your mind, isn't there, Ernie?"

    Mom snaps me out of my usual daydreaming.

    "Yeah, I guess so."

    "That isn't good for someone your age. Trust me, the academy will do you good."

    I have no witty comeback, which doesn't matter since we're about a minute away from the entrance gate. Yay.

    "We're going to meet your homeroom teacher first. She'll get to know you a bit and tell us what to expect from your classes this year."

    "They're going to be easy. You've taught me well, Mom."

    She smiles. Soon enough, she pulls over and steps out of the car. I reluctantly follow suit.

    "The teachers' lounge should be near the entrance. We're going to see Mrs. Leroy soon; she's a lovely person from what I gathered over the phone."

    I have nothing to say again. As soon as we enter the building I see students running down the stairs or gathering around each other. Like a Combee hive, so to speak. Mom and I get past them and make our way to the lounge, where several teachers are chatting over a cup of tea - except for one.

    "You must be Mayson and Ernest Orn. Welcome!" a blonde lady shouts.

    "Hello, Mrs. Leroy. Excuse us for the lateness; traffic was awful," Mom replies.

    "No problem. I'm just glad to meet you two."

    Mom's eyes tell me to say something, but I can't even think of what to say to a complete stranger I want nothing to do with.

    "Excuse my son; he's the shy type."

    Mrs. Leroy smiles. She looks nice, but it's too soon for me to come out of my shell. I sit down at the table to get this over with already. Mom and Mrs. Leroy laugh about my hastiness, but then they join me.

    "Well, let's get to business. I will be Ernest's homeroom teacher, which also means that I will be teaching him geography. The other subjects are math, language, science, computer science, social studies and physical education," the blonde teacher says.

    "Social studies and physical education are not his strong suit, if to be honest," mom laughs. Really now?

    "What about geography? We're covering South America now," the blonde asks.

    "Does that include Guyana?" I ask almost instinctually. Mrs. Leroy looks surprised and Mom sighs. I guess I need to explain.

    "I learned a bit about Guyana while I was reading about the mythical Pokémon Mew."

    Mrs. Leroy stops smiling. I must have said too much.

    "What Ernest means is that Guyana is one of the countries we covered at home, but there is probably a lot more to learn about it."

    Way to put words into my mouth, Mom.

    "I know from your Mom that you really like to study about Pokémon. Right, Ernest?"

    I nod.

    "I understand that, but you see, most of our students aren't like you. They know very little about Pokémon."

    "Why?"

    "It's complicated. Let's just say that not everyone is as accepting as your mom is."

    Mom's eyes no longer say anything. She just stays silent, but I have to say something.

    "I think everyone deserves to know about our history, and Pokémon were a huge part of it."

    "Ernest, that's enough," Mom interjects predictably.

    "That's okay; I can answer his question. You're absolutely right that history is important, as far as the past is relevant to the present. Sadly, Pokémon are gone and have nothing to do with the world anymore. So the kids of today are better off learning other things and not worrying about the past."

    Mom gives me piercing eyes. She knows that I want to have a debate, but warns me to drop the subject.

    "Now then, I'm sure you want to meet your classmates. Shall we go?" Mrs. Leroy adds as if to assert her victory.

    Suddenly, another woman comes out of nowhere.

    "Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. My name is Giselle, and I will be Earnest's computer science teacher. Nice to meet you two."

    Giselle? A fitting name for a brunette, but shouldn't I call her by her last name?

    "Hi," I answer weakly.

    "Earnest really likes computers. I bet that he is going to love your class," Mom says a little too eagerly.

    Giselle looks intrigued.

    "I can spot a bright kid from miles away. We have a special club for advanced students, and my gut is telling me that Earnest here will fit right in."

    This is embarrassing. I don't know programming or anything special, so I doubt that I can live up to her expectations. I prefer math by a long shot.

    "That sounds cool," I say lamely before Mrs. Leroy interferes.

    "Thank you, Ms. Bernard. Earnest will see you tomorrow, and now there is a certain social studies class we don't want him to be late for."

    I wave goodbye at Mom and Giselle, but the latter insists on shaking my hand.

    "See you tomorrow, kid."

    She leaves something in my hand, and it is the last thing I would expect: a Cubone earring.
    Last edited by Kein; 25th October 2017 at 4:31 AM.

  11. #11
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    Chapter 4


    Lyra and I are very close to Elm's lab. We've been quiet ever since we headed out from the bus station. I… feel nervous. What if Elm doesn't want to give me a starter Pokémon? I've decided that no matter what, I will be honest about my intentions, which means…

    "Well, here we are. This is the lab."

    It is a good thing that Lyra is here, because my mind is betraying me. The lab's exterior is impressive, but there is something homely about it. Granted, the entire town exudes this feeling.

    "Good. I can't wait to meet Prof. Elm."

    Lyra just presses forward with Snout in her arms. She really is in a hurry, isn't she?

    "Let me call him for you. I think that he may be upstairs in his home."

    "His home is upstairs? That must be convenient."

    Lyra goes outside, so I guess that the stairs aren't indoors. To pass the time, I look around. An assistant is staring at his computer and seems too busy to notice me. Before long, I see a little blond boy wearing glasses, who approaches me somewhat hesitantly.

    "Hey, are you Dad's special visitor?"

    "Why yes, I am. My name is Kris. What's yours?"

    "Roger. I'm Daddy's head assistant."

    I can't help but chuckle.

    "Your dad must have a lot of faith in you. How do you get along with Lyra?"

    "She's pretty cool, but I have to boss her around because she's scatterbrained."

    Something tells me that the truth may be a bit different, but I admire his confidence.

    "You might not be giving her enough credit, but you're lucky to work together."

    He doesn't seem to agree, so he changes the subject.

    "You're here for Chica, aren't you?"

    "Chica? You mean Chikorita? I am actually not sure which starter is the best choice for me."

    "There is no choice! Cinder and Toto aren't around anymore. Ethan picked Cinder, and that thief stole Toto."

    "What thief?"

    The boy just shrugs his shoulders. Obviously, he doesn't know anything about the thief's identity.

    "Poor Toto. We all miss him."

    "I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe… Toto will come back someday."

    "Ethan will bring him back! I know he will."

    Suddenly, I hear a man's voice.

    "Now, now Roger… Don't distract Kris with a sad story like that. This is an important day for her. Pleased to meet you, Kris."

    The famous Prof. Elm is finally here, with Lyra and Snout right next to him. He is tall, slender and youthful looking, none of which come as a surprise.

    "Likewise, professor! Thanks so much for having me."

    "Don't mention it. It is about time Chica found a partner."

    "But how did you know I wanted a starter?"

    "I can read between the lines. You're a bit too young to only care about research papers, aren't you?"

    "I do care about your research. I was hoping to discuss it, too."

    "Well then, shall I introduce you to Chica first?"

    "Absolutely!"

    Elm takes out a Poké Ball and summons a Chikorita. My new partner… is an energetic little thing. She runs towards me and sniffs me. A bit bossy, but I already like her.

    "Chica is smelling your scent. A person with a bad odor isn't right for her."

    "I hope I meet her standards… The ride here might have taken its toll on my hygiene."

    But Chica seems satisfied. She rubs against me and I caress her leaf gently.

    "You two will get along, I'm sure. I have a nose for this kind of thing."

    "Go on, hug her!" Roger exclaims.

    I pick up Chica and look at her eyes. I can tell that she is scanning me still, looking for validation of my desire to be with her. That's okay… I understand the hesitation. It's how I feel about people, too.

    "Chica, will you be my partner?"

    She shows me a small smile, as if to say that she is giving me a chance, but I'm on close watch. Fair enough!

    "Don't forget her Poké Ball," Elm adds.

    "I don't need a Poké Ball. Chica and I will walk together."

    "You can do that even with her Poké Ball present. That is what Ethan and Lyra do."

    Lyra nods. Snout is playing with Chica without a care about our discussion.

    "But… I don't want her to ever be alone."

    "She wouldn't be alone. The Poké Ball system allows Pokémon to be together in cyberspace."

    "Cyberspace? What's that?"

    "A virtual simulation where Pokémon play with each other. It is better than wild life because they don't have to live in fear of predator Pokémon. The system is designed to create each Pokémon's ideal habitat."

    "But… that isn't the real world. Isn't an imaginary world a little sad?"

    "Oh, Kris… You're a stubborn one, if you don't mind my saying. I think that you may have gotten the wrong impression from my papers."

    Okay, I expected this attitude… But I can still hold my own.

    "Have I? Isn't being with Pokémon all the time the best way to bond with them?"

    "It isn't practical if you want to train several Pokémon. You can't watch them all forever."

    "I think I can, professor. Please let me prove that to you."

    I finally notice that Lyra is looking at me intently. She seems a little annoyed, but she finally joins the conversation.

    "Oh professor, I think that Kris may have a point. I only have Snout, myself, but I'd like to catch more Pokémon and test Kris' theory."

    Catch Pokémon? I wouldn't use that term for what I have in mind…

    "Isn't it great, Kris? We have the same goal now."

    "Yeah. I'm glad that you share my opinion, Lyra."

    "I am curious to see if you're right! Wouldn't it be wonderful if trainers really could be with their Pokémon all the time? Has any person accomplished that before?"

    That's quite the change of tune from what she told me on the way here. What gives?

    "There is no record of that. In fact, before Poké Balls were invented, people had been limited to having a single partner," Elm clarified.

    "Maybe they never tried training more than one?" I asked.

    "I doubt it… People have always been curious, especially when it comes to Pokémon. You are not the first to come up with this idea…"

    "Professor, please don't discourage us. What's the harm in trying?" Lyra interjects.

    "All I'm saying is that the smart thing for Kris to do is take Chica's Poké Ball just in case. And in fact, she should take a supply of Poké Balls for her journey."

    "Okay, I will. But I am not going to use a single one."

    "So stubborn… Just put them in your bag, young lady. What would your parents think of me if I didn't give you such basic advice?"

    That last line was poignant, for reasons he couldn't know.

    "So Lyra and Kris are rivals now?" Roger inquired, prompting Chica and Snout to stop playing.

    "No way! I'd like to think that Kris is my colleague now. But first thing's first… We really need to finish the preparations for Ethan's welcome home party. Roger, will you give me and Rebecca a hand?"

    "Who's Rebecca?" I wonder aloud.

    "She's Ethan's mom. And the best cook in town!" Roger exclaims.

    "I see. Could Chica and I stay for this party?"

    "Of course! After all, Chica is dying to see Cinder again," Lyra says.

    "Great! Thanks for having me."

    Lyra stops smiling. I can't help but think that she may have been putting on an act during this conversation.

    "Well, it's settled. Ethan is coming back this evening and we will all be there to congratulate him for his feats. That sure is exciting, isn't it kids?" Elm summarizes.

    Lyra, Snout and Roger leave the lab to make their preparations. I am curious to meet Ethan, but the reason I came here is Chica. I hold her again to let her know, without speaking, that we are going to have a great journey together. Hopefully, I can truly start anew and forget about the past.

    ***

    After an extended playtime outside the lab, Chica falls asleep in my arms. I need to pass the time, and from a cursory glance through the window, it doesn't seem that Prof. Elm is doing much other than organizing books. Maybe we can talk some more? I'll go inside again and approach him.

    "Professor, do you have a minute?"

    He turns away from the library and looks at me.

    "Hmm, certainly. What's on your mind?"

    "Could you tell me what made you think of the Pokéwalker project?"

    "Sure. Have you heard of the previous trainer that entered the Hall of Fame?"

    "Yes, his name is Red. I don't know much about him, though."

    "Actually, Red is his nickname, while Ash is his official name. I guess that Red is his preferred name, though. Anyway, about three years ago Prof. Oak told me that Red had encountered a Pikachu near Pallet Town, and this Pikachu refused to stay inside its ball."

    "Really? So some Pokémon dislike cyberspace."

    "Don't get ahead of yourself. That Pikachu is very much the exception to the rule."

    Sometimes the exception proves the opposite rule.

    "But that Pikachu proved something, right?"

    "It seemed much more powerful than you'd expect from its species. That gave me the idea that walking might have a positive effect on a Pokémon's potential, hence the Pokéwalker project which I created to collect data on Pokémon trained this way. However…"

    "None of the participants showed the same effect as Red's Pikachu did, right?"

    "Right. They definitely grew closer to their trainers, and they also attracted rare wild Pokémon. But their battle skills were unaffected, so Pikachu may be an anomaly. Both Prof. Oak and I don't have a good theory about this, and it doesn't help that Ash – I mean Red – is gone."

    "Gone?"

    Before the professor can respond, I hear a voice from behind. Turning around, I see a woman about Prof. Elm's age and a black-haired boy wearing a mixture of red, yellow and black clothing.

    "Professor, you sure know how to make my son feel special. Let's not talk about the previous champion today of all days, shall we?" the mom says light-heartedly.

    "Mom! The world doesn't revolve around me," the boy says.

    Talk about an awkward moment. Prof. Elm seems embarrassed, and I… can only assume that the boy in front of me is Ethan. His attire is nowhere near as fancy as you'd expect from a champion, but then, he is barely older than I am.

    "My apologies, Rebecca. We were just talking about the Pokéwalker business to pass the time before Ethan's arrival. Speaking of Ethan, you know how proud I am of you, right?"

    "Of course. You were at a loss for words when we talked right after the Hall of Fame induction," Ethan says in an embarrassed tone.

    "I'm just joking, you know," Rebecca replies. "I could blame the professor for not making it to Indigo Plateau, but then I wasn't there, either. And through no fault of my own!" She seems to be in good spirits despite her complaints. I can't help but be jealous of Ethan for yet another reason; even without Rebecca, he has so many people that care about him.

    "I am not going to apologize for not telling you that I was going to Indigo Plateau, Mom. It was a stressful experience as it was. Now, could we stop talking about me and acknowledge that we are not alone here?" Ethan retorts and then looks at me, expecting an introduction.

    "Oh, where are my manners? Kris, these are Ethan and his mom, Rebecca. Ethan and Rebecca, Kris here is Chica's new trainer," the professor says while looking at all three of the rest of us.

    "Nice to meet you two," I say with a smile. Chica is still resting.

    "Chica's new trainer, huh? You know, Chica was my first pick, but she didn't want me because I was too dirty for her," Ethan jokes to break the ice a bit. I keep smiling.

    "I think she made a mistake, then. Congratulations on your victory."

    Chica wakes up as soon as I've finished stuttering. She seems pissed.

    "Oh, look who's up. I get the feeling that she's mad at me for not coming to visit more often."

    Chica is tackling him. What's that all about? I thought he was joking about the smell business.

    "Chica, that's enough!" I shout.

    "Don't worry. This impulsive one just wants me to send out Cinder," he says while summoning a fairly striking Typhlosion that towers over Chica and soon hugs her. At first I worry that there might be an accident, but Cinder has no flames on his back since he's just resting now.

    "These two really loved each other and still do," the professor explains for my benefit.

    "And I'm the bastard that separated them," Ethan laughs again.

    "Ethan, what sort of language is that?" Rebecca tells him off.

    "Whatever. Kris, you should know that my name is Gold. Only the folks in New Bark call me Ethan."

    "Because that's your real name!" Rebecca exclaims. A touchy subject?

    "Gold is an interesting choice. What made you think of it?" I ask.

    "I'll let you know after dinner!"

    "Not before you take a shower and find some clean clothes. We don't want Chica to be upset, do we?" Rebecca says with a smirk.

    "Sure. I'll see you two later, then," Ethan adds before heading off. Cinder stays behind with Chica.

    I don't know what the dress code for this dinner is, but I do have a nice sweater I could wear. Not that any eyes will be on me... I like how Ethan – okay, Gold – is so down to earth. I was expecting someone wise beyond his years with zero patience for the likes of me. Could we actually have a few things in common? Will he judge me for not wanting to be a "real" trainer that battles and catches Pokémon? Does it matter?
    Last edited by Kein; 1st November 2017 at 2:14 PM.

  12. #12
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    Prologue:

    My immediate guess upon Suicune's "their" was that said dogcatthing was referring to the unown. And I was right! Granted, in hindsight the intro made it fairly easy to figure out, but shhh. Let me be proud of myself for a short, silly moment. XD

    Chapter 1:

    A world where pokémon are all extinct? Right away, we've got an interesting setting. Ernest's mom might think it's better not to know what snuffed them out, but I can't find it in myself to agree. I'm just too darn curious, heh.

    Chapter 2:

    Oh neat, the pokémon-walking/flying/whatever-with-you mechanic from HGSS appears to be in the picture. I like hte idea of nods to the remakes. Makes it seem like more of a Complete Johto Experience, if that makes any sense.

    Kris's dad definitely gets a Raging A-hole Award. Holy macaroni...

    Chapter 3:

    Dang, looks like there's some kind of unofficial, public-enforced coverup with regards to pokémon, at least in that area. I wonder how that's being enforced? Simple social pressure? Is there superstition involved? It's an interesting and deeply terrifying subject, the way human beings sometimes try to quash or rewrite history.

    Oh hi, Giselle. Giselle from the anime, I dare presume? If so, that's another neat little bit of cocktailing going on. Pokémon has so many canons to play with and that's one of the best things about it.

    Chapter 4:

    Roger is precious. "Head assistant", indeed.

    Interesting that Kris didn't know what cyberspace was. I wonder which, if any, real-world time period this corresponds to. Late '90s maybe? Whatever the case may be, I certainly do find it curious.



    Quite a bit of mystery going on in this story. I'm interested in the answers, and I think the alternating viewpoints will prove a nice means of exploring them.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the thoughts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner View Post
    Oh hi, Giselle. Giselle from the anime, I dare presume? If so, that's another neat little bit of cocktailing going on. Pokémon has so many canons to play with and that's one of the best things about it.
    Right, but she was actually one of the NPCs Yellow carried over from the anime. It goes to show that she made an impression on Game Freak, and I thought that it would be natural to include her in a school setting. She was arrogant in a fun way, but obviously she will be different here.

    Interesting that Kris didn't know what cyberspace was. I wonder which, if any, real-world time period this corresponds to. Late '90s maybe? Whatever the case may be, I certainly do find it curious.
    Kris' story takes place in 2001 (Japanese Crystal was released in December 2000). Cyberspace isn't general knowledge since most people don't really care about the nature of Poke Balls.


    Quite a bit of mystery going on in this story. I'm interested in the answers, and I think the alternating viewpoints will prove a nice means of exploring them.
    Just a warning that this isn't going to be a short story, so I hope I can make you follow it for the long haul.
    Last edited by Kein; 30th October 2017 at 2:08 AM.

  14. #14
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    I see in one of your replies that this is your first story! Nice! Writing’s a tough but worthwhile pastime.

    First things first, I like this parallel structure you’re going for and how it takes place pre- and post-cataclysmic event. It makes the reader wonder about the mystery from two angles: what is Ernest going to learn about the extinction of Pokemon, and is Kris going to play some part in the event itself? And even though the two threads are very separate right now, there’s this little hint of a connection in the Pokeball—Ernest’s mom works with them, and Kris wants to see an end to them.

    Add to that this cyberspace idea (an interesting way to address what Pokemon experience inside the ball! Hope we get to see more of it firsthand), and I’m itching to learn about how the die-off and the Pokeball connect. The mechanics of Pokeballs and their implications are one of my favorite topics for fanfiction; always like to see another writer start digging into them. Taking the walking mechanics from HG/SS and putting them at the center of Elm’s research and Kris’s character motivation against Pokeballs is a great idea.

    I’m going to second Cutlerine’s opinion about the dialogue. It reads very similarly to the narration regardless of who’s speaking, which means you’re missing an opportunity to distinguish your characters through their voices. I think where this sticks out the most is in Kris’s dad’s second line:

    "It is your own bloody fault that I lost her. It was you that should have died, but your mom paid the price for your worthless existence. She died in agony knowing that her death would be in vain."
    Kris implies that he’s drunk here, but that’s not something the reader would guess by his word choice. Basically, he sounds too coherent, too well-spoken. This is a case where you really want to cut loose, ignore grammar if it helps, and make a character sound angrier and less articulate than they would if they were calm and sober. You have a very clean and precise style, which is good and a big help in keeping your narration clear, but it does mean you’ll want to go against your instincts sometimes when writing dialogue because humans can be messy when they're speaking.

    Here are a few things I have questions about:

    Granted, the entire town reeks of this feeling.
    The word “reeks” makes it sound like Kris really, really hates the idea of homeliness itself in addition to just her own home, which could be an interesting idea if that’s what you’re going for, but I can’t tell.

    "Really? So some Pokémon dislike cyberspace."

    "Don't get ahead of yourself. That Pikachu is very much the exception to the rule."

    Sometimes the exception proves the rule.

    "But that Pikachu proved something, right?"
    I’m having trouble following Kris’s thought process here. If she thinks Red/Ash’s Pikachu is an exception that proves the rule, then wouldn’t that mean she’s agreeing that the vast majority of Pokemon do like cyberspace?

    Anyhow, I'm looking forward to seeing what the deal is with Giselle and the Cubone earring, perhaps next chapter? Both trainers seem to be on their way to something much bigger than themselves.

    Keep at it! :D
    A fic I wrote: Will Somebody Stop These Kids?

    And another one, this one being a one-shot: The Magician of Ilex Forest

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    @icomeanon6

    See my reply to you on Pokecommunity. In short, I've made changes based on your comments. Thanks for the helpful input.

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    Prologue, Chapter One, Chapter Two

    Interesting take on Crystal's opening there. Those Unown sound ominous there. I too wonder how Suicune will be related to Kris and Ernest's story.

    First chapter sets up an interesting premise with the mystery of all the Pokemon gone. Sounds like there's always a bit of tension between Ernest and his mother whenever the topic of Pokemon has been discussed.

    Second chapter I admit I'm not the biggest fan of "kids having abused parents backstory" since that tends to be overused, but I'm assuming that will come to play as for her motiviations and such. Since it seems Team Rocket has been taken care of, should be interesting to see how Kris's journey will unfold

    Chapters Three and Four
    Everyone else mentions the parallel between Ernest's mother working with Pokeballs and Kris not wanting to use them, but yeah looks like the first hint of some foreshadowing there. I like Giselle's cameo there, didn't realize she was in Yellow heh. The part about Ernest's mom being young and naive makes me wonder about where is Ernest's dad and if there will be any mentions of him.

    Since Kris's story takes place after GSC and HG/SS, I take it the lab didn't like breed another Totodile? Guess I found it kinda odd since I would thing the lab would prepare another starter after one is being picked (or stolen with the case of Silver).

    Kris sure is persistent over not wanting to use pokeballs, wonder if that'll come back to bite her in the long term. Interesting Red/Ash reference there, and I'm liking your version of Ethan there.

    Looking forward to more!
    Foul Play
    Because we all need a story about two Dark Type elite trainers in Alola bonding.
    Chapter Three up!

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    @Bay

    Thanks for the thoughts; you can see my reply on Pokecommunity. I keep an eye on both threads, so you only need to post once.

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    Chapter 5


    I've been at the academy for three days now, and boy, has it been a dreadful experience. The place may be huge, and the cafeteria food isn't too shabby, but the dull teachers don't really teach me anything interesting that I don't already know. And my classmates? They're either being immature with each other or worrying about exams. I try to go unnoticed, but I can barely resist the urge to get my teachers to acknowledge the truth, which is that the world used to be far better than it is now.

    There is one source of hope, though. That earring… Why did Giselle give it to me? When I approached her after class on the second day, she just smiled and told me to come to the "computer lovers" club this Saturday, which is tomorrow. Right now, I'm just waiting for Grandpa to pick me up from school, while Mom is busy doing who knows what. He's late, and I'm forced to sit on the bench with two other kids.

    "Hey, four eyes," a black-haired boy from my class shouts at me from the adjacent bench. I just give him a surprised look; he may not be big, but he looks rugged and fierce.

    "Yeah, you. I sort of remember your name, but it's so dumb," he mocks. Charming.

    "Well, I don't know your name, so I'm honored that you remember mine," I reply.

    "You think you're clever, huh? You're a mama's boy, is what you are."

    "Have I done anything to you?"

    "You think you're so special – that you're better than the rest of us. Snap out of it."

    "How do you know what I think? I haven't said a word until now."

    "Which says it all. A stuck up nerd," he says and then gets up, walking up to me. "I don't care for snobs, quiet or loud. You're no better than me, understand? If you don't, I'll make ya."

    He grins smugly for a while and then leaves. The other kids don't seem to care about what has just happened. What the hell should I do about this? I'd be lying if I said he didn't give me a fright, and yet I don't even know his name. A while back, Mom told me that she didn't want me to go to school because I might get bullied. I guess it's easy for her to forget that, since I'm the one being attacked now. Damn!

    After a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself, Grandpa finally shows up in his blue car.

    "Hey there, my one and only grandson. Hop in," he tells me.

    I pick up my bag from the bench and walk toward the front door of the car.

    "Hi, Grandpa. I was worried that you might not come."

    He starts driving again toward his house, and not a minute too soon. Even the drivers behind are losing their patience.

    "Now, that's silly. I was just held up a bit longer than planned."

    "I can imagine. Even Mom is working overtime out of the blue. You two must be onto something, huh?"

    "Nice try. Let's talk about school instead."

    I was naďve to think that he would be more honest than Mom.

    "Eh. Classes are okay, except for physical education which wore me out."

    "How's your math teacher?"

    He gives me a glance while keeping his eyes on the road.

    "A bit too chatty. She spends too much time on trivial stuff."

    "Trivial to you. Remember that your background is special."

    Thanks, Sherlock. I didn't ask to go to school.

    "Whatever. Actually, there is one teacher I find interesting – the computer science teacher."

    "Oh? I didn't know you were interested in computer science."

    "Well, that is not the reason she's interesting. I can tell you why, but only if you don't tell Mom."

    He pauses, as if to think what could go wrong.

    "Now I'm intrigued. Fine, it will be our secret as long as it isn't anything crazy."

    "She gave me a Cubone earring on my first day. I think she was trying to tell me something."

    "Tell you what?"

    "I am not sure yet."

    He keeps thinking, while waiting for the pedestrians to clear the road. A woman and her baby are taking their sweet time.

    "Have you talked to her since then?"

    "No. I had a class with her two days ago, but it was just about RAM and stuff. When the lesson was over, she invited me to her club for advanced students."

    "Advanced? But your Mom only taught you the basics about computers, right? You don't even have one at home."

    "Giselle, the teacher, doesn't seem to care. I think the club has to do with the earring."

    He sighs.

    "Keep me updated. This sounds a little weird to me, but we'll see."

    "Okay. And you'll remember your promise, right?"

    "Yeah, yeah. Your Mom doesn't have to know everything, and she has enough on her plate."

    Enough on her plate? What the hell are they working on? It's clear that neither one of them will tell me.

    "In other news, I'm going to cook a lentil casserole for dinner. I'll let you pick the movie."

    "Timegate Traveler. I know where to find it online."

    "What's that about?"

    "A world where Pokémon control people. Their leader is a Ledian of all things. Sounds cool, right?"

    He chuckles and gives me a smile.

    "Where do you come up with this stuff? Not that I mind. I'm looking forward to the Ledian overlords."

    I smile back, but the casual feeling doesn't last long as I ponder if a movie like that is fitting for the era we live in.

    ***

    It's a new day and I'm back in the academy – just for Giselle's club, fortunately. Last night was pretty great, if only for the casserole and Grandpa cracking jokes during the movie. Mom joined us toward the middle, and luckily, she didn't seem to mind the subject matter.

    I needed the distraction from my problems… I deliberately didn't mention the bully to either one of them because I didn't want them to worry about me, as much as I'd like to make Mom regret her decision. Perhaps that boy wasn't completely wrong about me; I do consider myself better than the other kids, who barely know a thing about the most exciting aspect of our world. So what if Pokémon are extinct? That is no excuse. At the same time, those kids are not responsible for their ignorance; their parents and teachers are. Maybe they need someone like me to fill in the blanks for them. I like that idea... Here I go again, considering myself special.

    Before I can untie my thoughts, I need to find out what's going on with Giselle. The academy is almost empty, as Saturday is a day off except for some of the clubs. I feel more at ease walking along the hall when I don't have to worry about taller kids blocking my path. There sure are a lot of classes on the first floor alone. All I care about is the computer lab.

    "Good morning there, kid. I was beginning to worry that you might not show up."

    Giselle emerges from behind me, holding a cup of tea. I guess that she made her way from the teachers' longue.

    "Good morning, Ms. Bernard."

    "Now, now… Didn't I tell you to call me Giselle?"

    "You did on the first day, but then the other kids in class referred to you by your last name."

    "Those kids aren't members of our club."

    She smiles mysteriously. I can't read this woman at all, but then I can only read my family.

    "This club… How many members are there?"

    "Just three, including you and me."

    What?

    "I'm confused. You couldn't find more students who like computer science? You chose me as soon as we met."

    "How odd indeed," she keeps smiling while sipping her tea. "Well, what are we standing around for?"

    She gives me a signal to enter the lab. Still confused, I may as well find out what this is all about. Giselle soon opens the door, but the room is empty.

    "Is our third member late?" I ask her.

    "Nope. He's right on time," she replies and proceeds to unlock another door I never noticed during the regular class two days ago. The hidden room is fairly small, and there is indeed another person inside. He's a chubby kid who is giving me a wave, as if we know each other.

    "Ernest, meet Alan. Alan, meet Ernest," Giselle says.

    "Giselle has told me a lot about you. I'm so excited that we have a new member at last!" Alan exclaims, puzzling me more.

    "Hi. I actually don't know anything about you," I say weakly.

    "Alan here is the best programmer in the academy, and he's been helping me with a secret project. One that I'm sure you will find interesting," she explains in her mysterious way.

    "That's right. A year ago Giselle enlisted me to resurrect the PBS system that was created in ancient times."

    "PBS? Ancient times?" I ask in a bewildered tone.

    "Come on, Alan. There is no need to confuse him even more. Ernest, PBS is an acronym for the Pokémon Battle Simulator, which does exactly what the name says – simulate Pokémon battles via a computer game. This system was created in Pokémon Tech, which is where I studied when I was about your age. That was not in ancient times!"

    "Then when was it?" Alan grins.

    "Didn't your mom teach you not to pry when it comes to a woman's age?" she retorts without a note of amusement.

    "A battle simulator, eh? But if it was already created… a while ago, then what is it you're working on?"

    "Making it more realistic, of course! The old simulator just had Pokémon follow turn-based commands. That may make for an interesting game, but we care about realism!" she says with passionate eyes.

    I pause to consider what she's saying. A way to simulate battles as realistically as possible, when the subject matter no longer exists? Isn't that morbid? I have to explain my reservations, but I'll try not to sound judgmental.

    "Well, the idea sounds cool, but battles aren't the reason why I care about Pokémon. Above all, I want to understand their history, and most importantly – what happened to them."

    Giselle doesn't look surprised, but Alan is not pleased.

    "Then go become a professor or something. History is boring," he says derisively.

    "Alan, cut that out. What Ernest is saying is perfectly reasonable, and I didn't invite him to help with programming shenanigans. This club is not just for PBS development."

    "I'm confused. So what is the reason you invited me?" I ask.

    "The beta of PBS 2 has attracted quite a bit of attention from people all over the world. We've opened a bulletin board for people to discuss, well, Pokémon. There are thousands of posts already in just one month, and reading them all is no easy job."

    "So you want me to do it? Are those posts interesting?"

    "Most of them are garbage, if to put it bluntly. But my gut is telling me that there has to be something of interest. Don't ask me what – that's for you to find out."

    Finally, she gets to the point. Alan has lost interest in the conversation and has gone back to typing, which doesn't bother me. I think I understand Giselle's reasoning: About 15 years ago, the government passed a law to keep the Internet Pokémon-free for the sake of "keeping the youth focused on the future." There were a lot of protests, but ultimately most people were in favor of the proposed law. That all happened before I was even born, so the Internet has been useless when it comes to my Pokémon studies. But some movies can still be found on sketchy websites, perhaps because they're meant to be viewed as pure fiction.

    "This bulletin board must be using special encryption so that the government can't detect it, right?" I ask to verify my conclusion.

    "This bulletin board must be using special encryption so that the government can't detect it, right?" I ask as if to verify my conclusion.

    Giselle's eyes widen. I guess she didn't expect me to say anything like that.

    "Correct. Even the PBS 2 is encrypted, or the website would have been taken down in a day. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in, but I have dedicated many years to this project and now it's a reality."

    "Impressive. I'm skeptical about random posts, but I don't have anything better to do in my spare time and I figure that something is bound to come up."

    "Your enthusiasm is absolutely contagious," she laughs. "Then let me show you to your computer and load the bulletin board for you. You'll need a user name and a password."

    "How about Espeon Orb? I'll let you pick the password, since I'm doing this for you and all."

    She types away and the screen turns green. This bulletin board looks like computer software from the 80s, which I've seen in some movies.

    "Here you go. The password is TechCubone96."

    "Cubone? That reminds me: Why did you give me that earring?"

    "That was just my way of hinting at there being more to me than meets the eye. Now that the earring has served its purpose, I want it back," she says very seriously. She can be a bit scary sometimes.

    "I don't have it on me. I'll bring it for our next session, okay?"

    She nods, but her mind seems to be elsewhere.

    "I'm guessing that you had a Cubone back in the day, didn't you?" I ask to confirm my suspicion.

    I've also worked out that she's about 37 if she was around my age in 1996…

    "Yes, I did. He was my special partner, but we're not going to talk about my past today."

    "Fair enough. I'll get started, then."

    Alan stares at me. I guess he has something to say.

    "I hope that you can get this side project over with quickly so that you can at least be my beta tester."

    He already has plenty of beta testers…

    "Only if you're nice," I retort.

    He has no comeback, so he turns around with a frustrated face. I guess that this club… is quite a bit more than I expected. I have no idea if I can learn anything from a bulletin board, but I'm excited to have something to do that I care about. It stands to reason that someone is going to use a secret forum to speak up about what happened, right? I can only hope so.
    Last edited by Kein; 11th November 2017 at 5:39 PM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Northern Virginia
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    I keep an eye on both threads, so you only need to post once.
    If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather still cross-post. Reviews can be helpful to other forum members too.

    Anyway, illicit discussion of Pokemon in an era of oppressive internet censorship? Color me intrigued. This is an interesting development and opens plenty of avenues for the story to go. The foremost question for the reader is whether this bulletin board will attract the right kind of attention to their simulator. That said, prior to when it’s shown that it’s illegal to discuss Pokemon on the web in the final paragraph, the club’s activities don’t come across as exciting as they are. I think the scene would have a lot more impact if the illegality came up during the scene as opposed to trying to make it a small twist, because as it is it comes off as more of a footnote.

    "Well, that is not the reason she's interesting. I can tell you why, but only if you don't tell Mom."

    He pauses, as if to think what could go wrong.
    This is a good way of demonstrating that despite his intelligence, Ernest is still very much a child. I can only assume that Grandpa is pausing not to consider whether to tell Mom, but because alarm bells are going off in his head about this teacher. What Ernest says here is an adult’s nightmare.

    I do have a few questions about the computer room scene.

    I can’t tell whether the password bit is supposed to make us think that Ernest is clever or really unclever. It’s odd that he knows how important encryption is, but doesn’t know to never let someone else pick your password for you. At the very least, a teacher in charge of a computer club who knows her stuff would insist that he pick his own password and not tell anyone what it is unless she’s planning to monitor his activity/impersonate him. Basically, neither party looks very smart unless A) Ernest plans to change his password and only did this to fish for her personal information or B) Giselle plans to abuse his trust. It doesn’t read like you’re going for either, unless I’m missing something. In any case, on its face this is a very weird exchange.

    Also, if the earring’s that important, why doesn’t she ask for it back right away? I can understand if he doesn’t have it on him, but you’d think she’d ask if he does or not.

    Looking forward to the next chapter.
    A fic I wrote: Will Somebody Stop These Kids?

    And another one, this one being a one-shot: The Magician of Ilex Forest

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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Thanks for the comments.

    If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather still cross-post. Reviews can be helpful to other forum members too.
    Sure.

    That said, prior to when it’s shown that it’s illegal to discuss Pokemon on the web in the final paragraph, the club’s activities don’t come across as exciting as they are. I think the scene would have a lot more impact if the illegality came up during the scene as opposed to trying to make it a small twist, because as it is it comes off as more of a footnote.
    That's a good point. I'll rearrange it.

    I can’t tell whether the password bit is supposed to make us think that Ernest is clever or really unclever.
    Neither, honestly. Since Giselle administrates the bulletin board, she can post as anyone without any password. Also, it doesn't really matter if she posts as Ernest since their goal is to find information rather than make friends with other users. I had Giselle pick the password so that it would lead back to Cubone.

    Perhaps to avoid confusion, I should have Ernest say "I'd rather that you pick the password. I'm doing this for you, after all."

    Also, if the earring’s that important, why doesn’t she ask for it back right away? I can understand if he doesn’t have it on him, but you’d think she’d ask if he does or not.
    Fair enough.

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