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Thread: The Legendarian Chronicles [Revision 11]

  1. #101
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    10 July 2998

    I’ve never been one to keep a journal. I don’t even know why I’m writing any of this down right now. Chibi—yeah, that’s the Zapdos-Pikachu’s name—keeps staring at me though, and I desperately need something to take my mind off of everything going on right now.

    Arceus, where do I even start?

    My name is Jade. I’m fourteen years old and I don’t have a Pokémon training license. I should have had one years ago. I should have been out traveling the world. I shouldn’t have had to watch friend after friend leave Viridian, clinging to the hope of being able to join them one day, only to find out I’m so awful at all things Pokémon that I failed the exam. Twice. Who does that??

    Not that any of that matters anymore though. I kind of wish I could go back to a month ago when that was the worst I had to deal with. Before the day I wandered the forests west of Viridian and found a Charmander half-dead from a raging fire caused by Team Rocket trying to catch Entei. That was where I met a trainer calling himself Stalker who told me that the Rockets were on the verge of a region-wide takeover, and had started catching Legendaries to make sure nothing stood in their way. I wanted to ignore it, pretend it didn’t exist, but it was literally happening right in front of us.

    I was given an offer to join a group working against the Rockets. And then things started going downhill one after the other. The Rockets saw me watching them and captured me, hoping I could lead them to Stalker. I didn’t know anything, so they stuck me on a transport jet headed for Celadon. My Pidgey, Swift, saw them take me, and got help from the only person he could find--my friend Rudy who had just become a trainer. They ran into a trainer named Spencer who was trying to recover some stolen Pokémon, and then it was the three of us and our Pokémon versus the executive Tyson and his experimental hybrid Pokémon in the most awkward mid-flight duck-and-cover battle in a too-small arena filled with shipping crates.

    I don’t think we would have gotten out of that if we hadn’t gotten help from experiment Number Nine—yeah, the same Zapdos-Pikachu watching me write all of this now. Back then he was a violent ball of pain and rage, but even if he wasn’t trying to help us, his violence was aimed at that Rockets, and that was good enough at the time. Until he decided to take down the jet and all of us along with it. Tyson got control of the plane enough to make a crash landing, but not before sending our coordinates to the other Rocket executives to make sure he’d have backup.

    Spencer tried his hardest. He really did. Both in the battle and in keeping up our morale. But his Pokémon were no match for the executive that met us at the crash site. Her Pokémon were just too scary strong. And Rudy and I weren’t exactly helpful, no matter how much he wanted to be. I had a Charmander and a Pidgey and he had a Squirtle and a Houndour. Not exactly top-class.

    And then Ajia found us. Ajia, who had left Viridian three years ago, who I’d only seen twice since then. Ajia, who had collected sixteen badges in that amount of time and trained her Pokémon to such a level that even her Pichu was intimidating. Ajia, who couldn’t tell me how she knew where to find us, and who it turns out has dealt with a lot of Rocket crap in that time period that she also can’t tell me about.

    I’ll never forget how I felt when I watched her battling the executive. Cool and confident and a level of perfect synergy even in the midst of a huge melee against all the Rocket’s Pokémon at once. I have no doubt she’d have won if the Rockets hadn’t been able to heal their Pokémon indefinitely. After that we worked together with the Pikachu hybrid to find a way for us to all escape. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the battle. Or about how Entei was captured earlier that day and I hadn’t been able to do anything.

    I wanted to become strong. I wanted to make a difference. And sitting around trying to pass the training exam was not the way to do it. I was leaving, license or no license.

    That’s why I came to Vermilion City, to board the S.S. Anne with the rest of the potential rebels that Stalker had invited to oppose Team Rocket. And now I’ve just found out that there are Rockets here, on the ship, disguised as crew members and interrogating random kids to find out more about their leader, despite the fact that he didn’t tell us anything about himself.

    I know Chibi wants me to do something about it. He and I only just now got on speaking terms with each other. He doesn’t understand—I wanted to join this team so I could train myself to be strong. But I haven’t gotten to do that yet, and we’re already facing another Rocket threat?

    I know we’ll have to do something. I just don’t know if I’m ready.



    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    The fic returns tomorrow. But it's been quite a while, so this was a quick recap to remind everyone what's going on. Technically it's missing the events of Chapter 7 (Jade fails) but I really wanted to go with the journal entry angle, which wouldn't work where 7 left off.

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  2. #102
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    I need to apologize for allowing the fic to die for so long. My life was taken over by work, and every day was a struggle just to get by. But now I have more time to write than ever before. The plot ideas are flowing faster than they ever have. So strap yourselves in, because no matter what happens, I’m in this for the long haul.

    Please take a moment to read the brief recap I wrote in my previous post. If you are a new reader, disregard this.



    ~ Chapter 8: Midnight Island ~


    “This is your captain speaking. We have an emergency situation—all passengers are to report to the main deck immediately to await further instruction. Recall all Pokémon to their Pokéballs and bring them with you. If you are in your cabin, please retrieve your personal floatation device. If you are not in your cabin, do not go down to the lower decks—additional flotation devices will be available at the emergency stations. I repeat, this is an emergency situation—”

    The captain’s voice boomed powerfully over the ship’s PA system, and the crew immediately scattered in response to the orders. A desperate voice in the back of my head kept shouting at me to stand up, but I couldn’t really process how to make that happen. I was probably in the way, collapsed on the floor like this, but…I just…I couldn’t figure out how to do anything about it.

    A hand grasped firmly around my right hand, and before I could figure out what was going on, a set of claws had taken hold of my left and both were pulling me upward at the same time. I blinked twice, trying to clear my vision before seeing that both a crewman and Firestorm had a hold of me. I clenched my teeth and fought to maneuver my legs under me—the movement was sluggish and awkward, but I managed to plant one foot heavily and lean my weight on it long enough to drag the other one into place. It felt ridiculous, but I really wasn’t in a position to care right now.

    “Can you stand on your own?” the crewman asked, carefully letting go of my hand while keeping a close eye to make sure I wasn’t in danger of falling.

    My brain told me to say no, but for some reason I nodded.

    He gave me a stern look, like he didn’t quite believe me. “We’re gathering on the main deck to aid the rest of the passengers so I’ll escort you there. It’s raining pretty hard so you should recall your Charmeleon.”

    I squeezed Firestorm’s claw to let him know it was safe to let go now, then rummaged through my pocket for his Pokéball before recalling him in a beam of red light. I nodded to the crewman and we made our way toward the bridge stairwell, which was now rimmed with flashing emergency lights. Blasts from the ship’s whistle rang throughout the air as I forced my legs down one stair at a time, bracing most of my weight against the railing. More than once my foot missed a stair and I would have been sent tumbling down if the crewman hadn’t caught my arm just in time. One stair at a time. Just had to focus on that—nothing else mattered right now. One stair at a time. But I couldn’t help feeling glad that I only had to conquer two staircases to make it to the main deck, while everyone on the lower decks had who knows how many to go through. It was a stupid thought, but it helped.

    Somehow we made it to the bottom without me really noticing. From there we only had to make it outside. The captain strode forcefully past us, continuing to repeat his emergency message into a handheld PA microphone. A mass of people were making their way up from the lower decks and a huge weight settled in my chest from the sheer amount of panicked faces, many of them younger than me. Countless crew members got into place directing the crowd of passengers to the emergency area on the outermost portion of the main deck.

    “Captain!” a young voice called. I turned to see a crew member sprinting up an otherwise empty staircase that had been marked authorized personnel only. “You were right, the entire lower decks are filled with explosives. There’s no way we could remove them all in time. Most of the lower decks have been evacuated, but many passengers still haven’t made it out yet.” She was holding the control device for the explosives, which was now flashing red with a large “55 seconds” displayed.

    Numbness swept over me just looking at it. Less than a minute left…but if everyone could make it up here before the bombs went off we’d still have a shot of making it off. The ship wouldn’t sink that quickly, would it?

    The captain pulled a radio from his belt and said something into it before racing outside. The man escorting me patted my shoulder and said, “Just follow this crowd outside to the closest emergency station,” before joining the nearest group of crew members directing the evacuation.

    An awkward feeling swept over me as I stumbled over to the group, realizing that most of them were still in their pajamas, having been asleep just five minutes ago. Now they were wearing life preservers and looking terrified. Half the crowd was tripping over each other, either trying to get outside or running back to find their friends, all while desperately trying to be heard over the mass of panicked voices. The other half was tense, glancing around anxiously and clutching their Pokéballs with a death grip, ready to open them at any second. Part of me wanted to panic like the first half, but it was almost like I’d used up the ability hours ago.

    The instant we stepped outside, we were soaking wet. It wasn’t cold, but damn was it jarring. I’d been running out to this deck constantly not even an hour ago—where had this come from? The water was pouring down on us like a torrent, the skies were a twisting, writhing mass of gray, and no sooner had I noticed it than a burst of wind out of nowhere knocked me into the nearest trainer. Because we really needed things to be harder now.

    The crew inside the ship were still running around, directing everyone outside as quickly as possible. But the nearest crew members outside were shouting into their radios, looking flustered. What was going on? Wasn’t this where we’d board the lifeboats out of here?

    Wait. No…no, the Rockets, they couldn’t have…

    “This is your captain speaking. Everyone needs to brace themselves.”

    This was it. No time left. Everyone who wasn’t up here yet wasn’t going to make it. I dropped to the ground so I wouldn’t be standing when it hit and clenched my teeth as hard as possible.

    I still wasn’t ready for it.

    A deafening roar and the squeal of crunching metal bombarded our ears, completely overwhelming the sounds of the ongoing storm. My hands and feet vibrated uncontrollably from the shock wave radiating outwards, and everyone still making their way outside was sent flying forward, knocked completely off their feet. Within seconds, smoke started to billow up from the staircases, quickly filling the enclosed part of the upper deck. The rocking motion of the ship grew more violent.

    “On behalf of the captain, I am relaying the order to abandon ship!” a woman close to my group shouted. Her uniform bore nearly as many stripes as the captain’s and I figured she had to be one of his higher-ranking officers. “The lifeboats are gone so the only way off is to jump overboard! If you have Pokémon large enough to ride that can either fly or swim, release them now! And even small water Pokémon should be able to assist both you and others while in the sea!”

    At these words, countless Pokémon trainers pulled out Pokéballs, and flashes of white light filled the air around the outermost edge of the deck. The crowd started to thin as the trainers with the flying-types didn’t hesitate to jump onto their rides’ backs and take off, flying in low circles around the ship. That just left the rest of us. Sure we were already soaked to the bone and being in the sea wasn’t gonna be much different, but the waters below us were only growing more violent by the minute. And I didn’t have any water Pokémon.

    Finally, a scattering of trainers throughout the crowd worked up the courage to climb up onto the railing and jump off. I heard a couple others gasp at first, but the effect was obvious—after the first few went ahead with it, everyone else was given the confidence to make the plunge as well. The group had to stagger the rounds of jumping so no one landed on each other, but it wasn’t long before it was my turn.

    I couldn’t hesitate. Taking too long would only hold up the rest of the evacuation. I grasped the edge of the railing and used my arms to swing the lower half of my body over. Then there was nothing left to do but close my eyes, grit my teeth, and push myself over the edge.

    Falling! Even after all that I still wasn’t ready for the falling. It was only a few seconds, but it seemed to drag on forever and what was hitting the water going to be like, was it going to—

    The sudden impact stopped all my thoughts cold, as every inch of exposed skin was tingling like fire from smacking against the water. I thrashed my arms instinctively, trying to get my bearings. I was still underwater—this wasn’t good, I had to surface! I opened my eyes and realized that the surface was right above me before paddling as hard as I could to reach it.

    My head burst out of the water and I immediately found myself gasping and sputtering for air. The water wasn’t freezing, but was still cold enough that the tingling in my limbs didn’t want to go away. I flailed about, trying to get my bearings and figure out what was going on with everyone else. I only vaguely noticed that my legs were no longer able to move—it was just my arms doing all the work now.

    Most of the passengers had grouped together around the trainers who had water Pokémon. From what I could tell, no more figures were making the plunge from the S.S. Anne’s upper deck, which had to mean that everyone who was able to had made it off by now. Now we just had to make it through the storm. But the rain kept pouring down in violent sheets and the rush of seawater refused to quit tossing us around. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep the salty water from finding its way into my mouth, and it was staring to seem like I was spending more time choking and spitting out water than making progress.

    A sudden flash of light not too far from me caught my attention. One of the last trainers to jump overboard had just released a massive blue serpent from its ball. The Gyarados let out a roar before leaning its head down, allowing her to climb aboard. Already many of the nearby passengers were following her lead and climbing up the serpent’s thick, armor-like scales.

    I wasn’t that far away. If I could just make it to her, I wouldn’t have to brave the storm by myself. I had to make it over there.

    Before I could do anything my head was forced under the surface and the air knocked out of my lungs. I blinked frantically in the darkness, still reeling from the shock and trying to figure out what had just happened. Which way was up? Why couldn’t I tell anymore?!

    I burst free of the water just in time to make me wish it hadn’t. An enormous wave had swept in out of nowhere, now looming over me. I stared blankly, feeling my limbs turn to ice and refuse to move. Even if I’d had time, I couldn’t react—what on earth was I supposed to do? There wasn’t any way to avoid something like that!

    A rush of water and the spray of salt and tumbling and disorientation and a burning pain now tearing its way through my lungs were the only things I knew. I couldn’t even tell how far under it had pushed me—direction wasn’t even a thing anymore. I’d been flipped and tossed and my entire body felt like a ragdoll now. Where was I? My surroundings were an endless expanse of water and darkness. Even if there was anything to see, my eyes burned too much from the salt.

    I suddenly remembered that my lungs were on fire—it was a weird contrast to how detached the rest of my body felt. My legs wouldn’t even move—it was almost like they weren’t even there. Were they there? I couldn’t see them. I couldn’t see anything.

    Somewhere in the back of my head a voice screamed to get a grip but there wasn’t anything to get a grip on? Nothing was around me. Nothing except…

    A humongous dark mass swept under me. Everything was dark, but this thing was dark enough to stand out…how? It slowly turned in my direction, and I caught sight of a pair of glowing blue eyes before it turned and dove further below me.

    Wait…below me! It had to be below me, right? I had no idea if that made sense, but I knew that it was below me, I just knew. Without even thinking, my arms were pushing me in the opposite direction—upward.

    Finally I broke free! My face hit the air and it had never felt as amazing as right at that moment. It didn’t last long—I was immediately overwhelmed by a round of coughing and sputtered as my worn-out lungs tried to expel all of the saltwater I’d breathed in. Each breath sent another wave of fire running through my chest, but it wasn’t a pain I minded.

    And then I realized that it was too easy. I was just floating here breathing, and my head wasn’t being forced under the water every five seconds. The sheer relief of being on the surface had been so overwhelming that it took me several seconds for the full effect of my surroundings to sink in.

    It was gone. The waves, the wind, the rain…everything was gone. The cloud cover churned lazily above us, giving no indication of the raging storm that had just vanished. Calm skies and waters now made it easy to notice that the S.S. Anne was tilted backward at a harsh angle and beginning to slip down into the sea’s murky depths.

    I was very near to the Gyarados now, so my main priority became drifting vaguely in that direction using as little effort as possible. Six or seven passengers were crowded onto the front half of its body, but there was room for me to grab hold of one of the fins on its lower half.

    Just as my brain was trying to process if I should ask anyone what had happened, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I turned to the right and stared blankly at the sight, now even more confused. A squad of rescue boats was speeding toward us as though nothing had ever happened.

    Rescue boats. How on earth had they gotten here so quickly? An overwhelming flood of questions started to fill my head, but with my body now far beyond sheer exhaustion, I almost didn’t care if they were answered. The Gyarados I had clung to started making its way toward the boats, moving very slowly to avoid losing any of its far-too-many riders. By the time it was my turn to climb aboard, most of the passengers had been rescued, and I felt a wave of euphoric relief upon being pulled onto the deck and being able to sink to my knees, no longer needing to move.

    A bustle of movement was surrounding me as the officials went about gathering information from everyone who had been rescued. I glanced upward at the man nearest me; the first thing I thought to ask was, “Where are we?”

    “Just off the southern coast of Fuchsia,” he replied. Fuchsia…that was…at the far south end of Kanto, wasn’t it?

    The man held a towel in front of my face. “Here. Are you hurt? Anyone with injuries should see the medical staff.”

    Right…I was still sitting lamely on the floor, my limbs shivering uncontrollably. I shook my head very lightly before grabbing the railing at the edge of the deck and pulling myself to my feet. He raised an eyebrow, apparently not believing me but figuring that I probably had enough sense to go get aid if I was injured (which, as I kept having to remind myself, I was not.) I accepted the towel with a low murmur of “thanks” before pulling myself into the nearest seat.

    Being able to dry myself was, quite simply, heaven after braving the ocean waters. I watched the group of shivering trainers being led around by the staff, my head slowly starting to feel obscured by a haze of fatigue. I was certain that there was too much noise and commotion to fall asleep, but…

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I opened my eyes slowly, then immediately blinked as my eyes burned with a bright light. I glanced around, confused, eventually realizing that it was daylight—a glance at my watch told me that it was 8am. Well, that didn’t make much sense…I could have sworn that I’d only closed my eyes for a minute or two…

    I stretched long and hard, my limbs filled with a dull, throbbing pain, before looking around and noticing immediately that the ship was now in the small harbor of a coastal town surrounded by rolling plains and gleaming white beaches. The staff was busy directing people off the ship, or at least some of them—about half of the trainers were being pointed back into their seats rather than onto the dock. Feeling a bit perplexed, I wandered over to the staff.

    “What’s going on here?” I asked.

    “We’ve docked near Fuchsia City. All of the trainers who were given a specialty invite to the party are to remain on the ship so they can transfer to their separate destination,” a man explained.

    Specialty invite…the tickets Stalker gave to the potential rebels? How could they tell which people he’d invited?

    Sensing my confusion, the man said, “Let me see your card key.” I handed it over, and he scanned it through a device before handing it back. “Alright, please wait around here until we’ve finished with the remaining passengers.” As I walked back to my seat, a small group of trainers behind me started making a fuss because they had apparently left their card keys behind—the staff was attempting to sort through the situation.

    I wasn’t sure what to think of the whole situation now. I had been frustrated at Stalker for having underestimated Team Rocket, but he clearly had a plan set into motion for an incident like this. Still, why couldn’t he have gotten an ally to make sure nothing went wrong with the voyage? Did he even have allies, or was he doing this alone?

    I wandered around the ship’s deck as the amount of passengers slowly started to thin, gazing out over the ocean and admiring how calm it looked compared to last night, with the bright sunlight reflecting off ridges of water. My thoughts strayed back to the previous night, and how impossible it all seemed now. Mere hours ago we’d all been so close to death…it was obviously an uncomfortable thought, but it was slowly starting to become a more familiar one. And this was the way it was going to be from now on…

    I was just vaguely wondering how the Rockets had escaped, and if they’d had rockets in their backpacks, when a hand clapped me on the shoulder.

    “Hey Jade.”

    …What. Why on earth was I hearing that voice here?

    I spun around to stare at the tan, dark-haired face behind me. And really, all I could do was let my mouth hang open in shock.

    “…What are you doing here, Rudy?” I managed to say.

    He gave a small laugh at the look on my face and said, “Guess I should explain myself, huh?”

    “You think?” I asked, laughing a little myself, the air of anxiety gone just from being with a friend. “You…have no idea how glad I am to see you here…especially after last night.”

    Rudy smiled weakly. “Yeah…that…”

    “I’m starting to think you have a thing for always showing up at my Team Rocket run-ins.”

    “Hey, it’s not a coincidence,” Rudy said quickly. “You know the guy who gave out the tickets?”

    I blinked. “You’ve met him too?”

    “I guess he has all kinds of sources within Team Rocket because he even heard about our battle with those Rockets at the plane. I met him after I got back to Viridian, and he said that anyone who’d gone against Team Rocket was important to have as an ally. He asked me if I wanted to train under him and learn how to fight Rockets, and well…you know I couldn’t say no to getting back at those guys. So he gave me the card and mentioned that he’d given you one, too,” he explained, a bit of his normal enthusiasm starting to return.

    I couldn’t think of what to say. Stalker had said he’d been recruiting any new trainers with the guts to take on the Rockets, but somehow the idea of someone else I knew being a part of this as well seemed very strange.

    “Course…I sort of got in trouble for being gone all day,” Rudy continued, looking down. “It’s kind of hard to be afraid of something like that after making it through the Rocket mess, though. And I did tell your dad that’d you’d gone on a Pokémon journey with Swift and that you already had a Charmander and a Pikachu.”

    “Wait, wait, wait…how’d my dad react?” I asked, wincing a little.

    “Oh…yeah, um…” Rudy rubbed the back of his head. “He uh…he kind of already guessed that you had up and left without your license, since you were so disappointed about failing the test again. I actually think he was kind of relieved that you had three Pokémon instead of just Swift—a lot safer, y’know? Still though…it sounded like he was just angry that you didn’t say anything about it.”

    “Ugh, I’m dead,” I muttered burying my face in my hands. “Yeah…someday I’ll call home and say that everything’s going okay.”

    Rudy paused with an awkward expression. “So, uh…you wanna hear the rest?”

    “Fine,” I said, rolling my eyes. Though I didn’t want to admit it, talking with him was definitely helping take my mind off things.

    “Kay, so I started out on my Pokémon journey about a week after that, so I made sure to grab the bus from city to city until I made it to Vermilion. I got there about four days before we left,” Rudy explained. “I was actually surprised I never saw you around there.”

    “Yeah…I spent most of my time along the outside of the city…” I mumbled, feeling slightly embarrassed.

    “Catching Pokémon?” came the interested reply.

    I snorted. “You know I can’t buy Pokéballs.”

    “No, but what you could have done is ask some random trainer to go buy them for you, and hope they don’t report you to the—”

    “Thanks for the advice—I’ll file that away under ‘what not to do.’ But what about you, did you catch anything new?”

    “You bet! I got a Spearow and a Nidoran and they’re made of awesome and now I’m up to four Pokémon,” Rudy said, his voice slowing dramatically near the end.

    “Oh yeah? Pretty cool. Although…”—I suppressed a snicker—“I seem to recall you saying—what was it again?—that you’d find Mew and use it to catch the Legendary birds within the first month of your—” I had to stop because I was laughing too hard and he was smacking my arm with a fist repeatedly.

    “Oh, oh yeah, and then at the league, Lugia and Ho-oh would be so impressed by your feat that they’d ask if they could join you, and—”

    “Hey I never said any of that…and if I did I was like ten!” Rudy said quickly, his face reddening. “Besides, I’m doing better than you, aren’t I? Four against three, so there. And hey, that reminds me—how come I never saw you on the S.S. Anne? I wanted to battle you during the Trainer’s Party but couldn’t really find you.”

    “I…spent most of the night in my room, actually.” I said sheepishly. I had forgotten about how I’d needed to hide after Chibi and I had discovered the Rockets.

    Chibi—that’s right…the Rockets, they had… The thought was painful. He’d been captured because he saved me. And I’d just let them take him? Why hadn’t I been able to do anything about it?

    I was too distracted by my thoughts to really pay close attention to what Rudy was saying after that. He went on about seeing me while in the ocean and trying to get my attention, but me not seeing him. In an instant, my memory flashed back to what had happened, and I immediately asked, “What made the storm clear?”

    Rudy stopped and gaped at me. “You mean you didn’t see it?”

    “No,” I replied a little uneasily. He had made it sound like no one their right mind would have missed it.

    “It was a little creepy, but way awesome,” he said. “This dark shadow seemed to block out everything, even the moonlight, and there was a giant gust of wind and then suddenly the storm stopped and the waves calmed down. Then this huge…thing dove down into the water. It was so fast, I couldn’t tell what it was.”

    The excitement plastered all over his face was almost too much to bear. It was enough to actually make me feel jealous that I hadn’t seen it happen, although Rudy was the one who had always wanted to run into super-powerful Pokémon. Then again…my thoughts strayed back to the dark figure I had seen in the water. Could that have been the same thing Rudy had seen?

    At that point it seemed like everyone had finished transferring over to the new ship. I found myself idly wondering where we were going to be headed, then heard a voice calling out through a microphone.

    “Everyone here was given a specialty invite to the Pokémon Trainer’s Party, and had a separate destination as part of your exclusive training program. We’ve been asked to relay this message,” one of the rescue staff said. “There’s no doubt that having to flee the S.S. Anne like that was a terrible ordeal for young trainers like yourselves to face. It’s advised that you think long and hard about the agreement you made before attending the party and decide if you’re willing to go through the intense training ahead. If not, you should resume your Pokémon journey. Thank you.”

    This exclamation brought about a wave of murmuring amongst the trainers, and now that I looked around at all of their faces, I could see traces of doubt and regret streaking some of their expressions. And…even worse…I saw a few of the kids crying softly away from the main group of trainers.

    It made sense…last night was a horrifying revelation as to just what sort of danger we might have to face. But then…then the crushing realization hit me. I had gotten lucky. I hadn’t even known that Rudy was on the ship, and both of us had gotten off alive anyway. But many of the trainers had to have lost friends when the S.S. Anne sank.

    Time seemed to freeze as a small number of kids scattered amongst the crowd made the slow walk off of the transfer boat with an almost tangible air of shame. Several others, upon seeing that they wouldn’t be alone in leaving, hurriedly stood to their feet and followed suit.

    “Well…I know it’ll be dangerous, but…that’s the reason I joined. Fighting those guys and saving the Legendaries? I’m not giving up something like that. I can’t turn my back on something like that,” Rudy said with a decisive tone. His words had a slight edge though, like he was using them to persuade himself that it was the right decision.

    I surveyed the remaining group. Around fifty of us were still on board. After several minutes had passed from the time of the announcement, the majority of the staff left the ship as well, leaving just a single young man behind.

    “To make things more convenient, you’ll be teleporting there,” he said, pulling out a Pokéball and releasing an Alakazam. The golden humanoid materialized out of the white light, twiddling a pair of spoons between its claws. It touched a spoon to a trainer’s shoulder before disappearing in a sudden flash of white light, reappearing alone just a few seconds later. It only took a minute or two of this process before my turn came up.

    I stepped forward, feeling a small twinge of anxiety in the back of my head. This was my first time teleporting. One second I was on the dock, and the next thing I knew, a tingling sensation spread across my skin, my surroundings melted into rippling waves of light, and then…I found myself standing on another dock. Huh—I guessed that was it.

    The Alakazam gave a nod before disappearing from view, and I jumped off to the side so I wouldn’t be in the way of the next trainer to arrive. Now that I had a chance to get a better look at my surroundings, it was obviously a completely different dock—the sea was to the west rather than south, and the coastline was rocky and forested. Not to mention the nearby town was a lot smaller than Fuchsia. I still had absolutely no idea where we were though.

    Rudy appeared not long after I did, and then within a few more minutes we were all here, stuck together in a large group and wandering vaguely towards town, since I was pretty sure that none of us knew where we were supposed to go now. As was typical of trainers, our group eventually honed in on the town’s Pokémon Center.

    The center was small, as it probably didn’t have many trainers to accommodate most of the time, so there was no way we were all going to fit inside. The lead nurse at the front counter looked initially surprised at our sudden arrival, but then she said, “You must be the specialty training group I was told about. If you follow the road that leads north to the edge of town, you’ll find Midnight Stadium, where your training program will be held.”

    Midnight Stadium…so that was our destination. But then, where were we anyway?

    “Where are we?” one of the kids blurted out before I had worked out whether or not it would look too stupid to ask.

    The nurse gave an amused half-smile. “Midnight Island, just off the coast from Lavender Town.”

    I could tell that I wasn’t the only one who craned their neck to get a glimpse of the map on the side wall, as I had never heard of either of those two locations. It took me some time to locate Lavender Town on the large map of Kanto that adorned the wall, as it was a very small town on Kanto’s east coast. Sure enough, a tiny island alongside its shore was labeled Midnight Island.

    “Why couldn’t he have just told us that to begin with?” Rudy complained as we made our way outside.

    “The Rockets found out that we were meeting on the S.S. Anne, so if the headquarters hadn’t been a secret they’d probably have targeted it too,” I said, a little exasperated.

    “Wait, that was Team Rocket who sank the ship last night?” he asked incredulously. “How do you know?”

    “I was there; I fought them, and—” I suddenly realized it. Swift and Firestorm—they’d been in their Pokéballs all night ever since I had to jump overboard. I pulled the red and white spheres out of my pocket and opened them, releasing the two Pokémon. I actually had to do a bit of a double take upon seeing Firestorm emerge from the ball, as I wasn’t quite used to seeing him in his much taller red-scaled evolution. Apparently Rudy was surprised too, because—

    “Whoa—your Charmander evolved? Awesome!” Rudy exclaimed.

    “Yup,” I answered, and I couldn’t help grinning a bit. It was short-lived however, as I soon realized that Swift still bore the marks of last night’s battle.

    “Crap, do you have a Potion?” I asked Rudy. He rummaged in his bag for a bit before pulling one out, and I immediately sprayed down Swift’s bloodstained feathers. The wounds weren’t too serious—within a few seconds, scabbing had formed over all the scratches, and the Pidgey shook his head and made a relieved sort of chirp.

    “*How did we make it back to dry land?*” Firestorm asked, looking up at me expectantly. “*The ocean sounds like an awful place. Did you have to swim through it?*”

    I was about to answer, but then Rudy cut in, “Okay, hang on Jade, you’ve gotta tell me—you battled Rockets? How’d you even know they were there?”

    I sighed before going into the events of the previous night. From when Chibi and I had eavesdropped on the Rockets to when the Manectric initiated the automatic detonation, I explained everything as we walked down the road that led out of town, which eventually turned into a dirt road as the buildings grew sparse. I realized about halfway through my story that every trainer standing near to us had now ceased their own conversations to listen in, but by that point I didn’t care if I had an audience.

    The sun had climbed higher into the sky by the time we arrived at a wide coliseum on the edge of the forest. It was a lot smaller than the stadiums I’d seen on TV, but still larger than any building in town. The sign on the front read “Midnight Stadium” in dramatic purple lettering.

    The main entrance at the front opened as we approached, so the fifty or so trainers made their way slowly inside. We entered a large waiting room with a desk at the far end and two hallways branching off to the left and right. Posters of countless League events and training programs covered the far wall, while large computer panels lined the sides, most likely used for trainer registry during competitions.

    “Everyone line up facing the front counter.”

    I almost jumped at the loud, booming voice that seemed to come from nowhere, realizing immediately afterward that it must have come from speakers. We all glanced around each other, bewildered, before starting to arrange ourselves in several horizontal lines—I recalled Swift and Firestorm and took my place in the back line. At both far corners of the room, I spotted the cameras that we were likely being watched through.

    After some time, the voice came again. “Forty-eight. That’s how many of you survived the attack and still had the determination to come here.” It was a young voice, but it sounded hardened…mature… I recognized it from our previous meetings.

    Footsteps echoed off the side hallways. We all held our breath in anticipation as Stalker walked into view, wearing the black mask and long cloak.

    “You had to endure far more than you should have in order to get here,” he said. “But now you’re here. You’ll all become valuable allies in the fight against Team Rocket.” And with that, he removed his mask and cloak.

    It was easy to sense the group’s surprise from the revelation that he was probably not much older than seventeen or eighteen. Still, he gave off the impression of someone much older and more mature; in a strange sort of way I felt childish by comparison. He surveyed the group with icy blue eyes and a reserved expression.

    “So…” he said after some time. “You all have seen my face, so now I’m in the same position as you. If Team Rocket learns of my identity, I’ll be done for…but I want to be on equal terms with all of you, so I believe it’s worth it. I’m sure all the secrets surrounding this were frustrating. I had thought that keeping you in the dark and having you gather together, surrounded by ordinary trainers just like you would be the best way to keep you safe. I never expected the Rockets to go so far…just to get to me.” At this point, several of the trainers—the ones who had overheard my account of the previous night—now glanced back at me.

    “You can call me Stalker,” he announced. No one commented on the strangeness of this. “And this is Midnight Stadium. It’s commonly rented for specialty training programs and casual non-league tournaments, so none of the locals will find it odd that there are so many of you here. Just remember to say that’s why you’re here if any of them ask.”

    Stalker paused to make sure everyone was listening, but I don’t know why he needed to—we were all hanging on every word. “The first thing to do is get you signed up. I’ve got the registration computers here connected to my own personal database.” He motioned to the large screens covering the front walls of the lobby. “Once you’re done, you should familiarize yourself with the battlefield while I finalize the Rocket information with everyone one-on-one. And then after that…”—he gave what was probably the first smile I’d seen from him—“then we can get started on that training.”





    ~End Chapter 8~
    Not the best place to end the chapter, but the alternative was ending it on page 23. This means we’ll be having a couple of slow chapters in a row, but I need to get over my burning need to make action happening constantly, especially at the start of an arc that requires a ton of new information.

    Next chapter is basically 90% done, so I’ll be posting it soon.

    ~Chibi~
    Last edited by Chibi Pika; 8th December 2015 at 11:23 PM.



    "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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  3. #103
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    Hey, what's up? Like I said, it's great that you're working on this again. I think I read at least the beginning a long, long time back when I first came to SPPf, but I didn't catch this particular revision until it had gone on hiatus. I don't feel like I have a ton to say about the earlier chapters that hasn't been said by someone else already, but tweaking things so Jade doesn't get her license because she couldn't pass the exam rather than because her parents didn't want her journeying does make more sense. I haven't done more than a cursory skim to see what else you might have changed recently, but did you also tweak the end of the last chapter so Jade ended up on the ground at the beginning of this one? I was kind of surprised that she started out lying on the floor at the beginning of this chapter, and I'm just curious whether that's because I forgot how the staging was at the end of the previous chapter or because you edited a bit.

    Anyway, this is a bit of a transitional chapter that's mostly about having Jade reunite with Rudy and getting them both to Midnight Island so the plot can progress. I'll just go through and mention what I picked up on during my reading, get into some punctuation/stylistic stuff, and add some closing thoughts at the end.

    I couldn’t see the captain’s reaction to the news. He simply pulled a radio from his belt and said something into it before racing outside.
    Pulling the radio from his belt and speaking into it was his reaction, wasn't it? I'm not sure what Jade missed seeing here--or how she would have missed it, if she was able to see the captain messing with his radio.

    Wasn’t this where we’d board the lifeboats out of here?

    Wait. No…no, the Rockets, they couldn’t have…
    Wow, TR are dicks. I don't remember what reason you said they had for wanting to sink the whole boat in the first place, but they're clearly doing their best to murder as many people on board as possible, target or not.

    It slowly turned in my direction, and I caught sight of a pair of radiating blue eyes before it turned and dove further below me.
    Lugia, I'm guessing? The rainstorm would normally point to Kyogre, but I tend to associate glowy eyes with psychic power rather than water abilities. Or perhaps Kyogre's there, too, and Lugia's using its abilities to quell the storm, rather than whipping one up, then killing it just as quickly.

    The wording here is a little odd. I know what you mean by "radiating blue" eyes, but I think it would be more appropriate to phrase it "blue-radiating" or "blue-glowing" instead; the way it's worded now, I read it as blue eyes radiating [something] rather than eyes giving off blue radiation or a blue glow.

    I was just vaguely wondering how the Rockets had escaped, and if they’d had rockets in their backpacks when a hand clapped me on the shoulder.
    This is a cute muzzy-headed kind of thing to wonder. You want a comma after "backpacks," though.

    “You think?” I asked, laughing a little myself, the air of anxiety gone just from being with a friend.
    I can imagine there'd be a lot of relief over finding a friend, but it does seem odd that they go on to chat like they're just catching up, rather than they both just went through jumping off a sinking ship that presumably many people didn't escape alive, and Jade at least stared down death a couple times during her encounters with the Rockets. I would expect some "what are you doing here?? what's up with you??" when they first meet up, but it strikes me as strange that they never actually touch on the fact that they recently almost died. I do like the banter between the two, especially when Jade's poking fun at Rudy, but it just seems odd that they'd be so carefree and fixated on Rudy's journey thus far or the cool mysterious pokémon Jade didn't get to see rather than the more serious aspects of what just happened to them.

    Rudy put his hand behind his head.
    Usually when people make this gesture they're scratching or rubbing their neck, not just resting their hand there.

    “This dark shadow seemed to block out everything, even the moonlight, and there was a giant gust of wind and then suddenly the storm stopped and the waves calmed down. Then this huge…thing dove down into the water. It was so fast, I couldn’t tell what it was.”
    So definitely Lugia, then. I imagine we'll hear what it was up to later.

    Why didn't everyone get teleported directly into Midnight Stadium, or at least get directions from the teleport dude, rather than Stalker relying on them going to the PC and asking the nurse there?

    I think you can get a bit explain-y at times, and it's something that's particularly prevalent in this chapter. It's like you want to make sure everything makes sense and that you convey that logic to the reader. But while it's necessary for you, as the author, to know all the motives behind characters' actions and how the logic of events fits together behind the scenes, that's not alway something you should present to the reader. At times it feels to me like you go a little too far in terms of the stuff you reveal, to the point where it feels like characters are too willing to give up information or justify their actions. Sometimes it's little things, like here:

    “Just off the southern coast of Fuchsia, where we were stationed before we received the call for help,” he replied. My brain distantly realized that Fuchsia was near the end of Kanto’s southernmost peninsula.
    Why would the guy add the bit about where they were stationed? All Jade did was ask where they were, so this reads to me like an unnecessary clarification. I get that it's the answer to Jade's earlier confusion over how the rescue team arrived so quickly, but at this point I think it would be fine to let her (and the reader) just wonder. If you think it's really important to answer that question now, it would be easy enough to have Jade actually ask for an answer, something like, "Wait, but how did you get here so fast?" "Oh, we were already patrolling in the area," or something.

    Or here:

    I couldn’t hesitate. Taking too long would only hold up the rest of the evacuation. I grasped the edge of the railing and used my arms to swing the lower half of my body over so that my legs wouldn’t have to do any of the work, then checked to make sure no one was below me. As a bit of an afterthought, I double-checked my pockets to make sure none of my Pokéballs could fly out. Then there was nothing left to do but close my eyes, grit my teeth, and push myself over the edge.
    Jade says she can't hesitate, but the amount of stage direction going on in the following sentences makes it feel like the operation takes a long time. I wouldn't be considering that Jade's pokéballs could potentially fly out of her pockets, so I wouldn't be wondering why they didn't if you hadn't included that. It's a nice little detail, but maybe not the best to include if you want to convey a sense of urgency--it adds to the amount of time, as the reader perceives it, that Jade ends up hanging there waiting to jump, and actually makes her seem fairly calm/collected, if she's able to worry about little details like that.

    Six or seven passengers were crowded onto the front half of its body, but there was room for me to grab hold of one of the fins on its lower half. My muscles could no longer produce any kind of force at all, so climbing onto the serpent’s back was out of the question.
    If you hadn't included the second sentence, I wouldn't even have noticed; like, when reading that I didn't wonder why she wasn't climbing higher. idk, it' a pretty subtle thing, but to me at times it feels like characters (including Jade) spend a relatively large amount of time justifying their actions, even if in small ways like in the passages above, and this can kind of slow the story down and give it a more cerebral feeling. Like, Jade is thinking things through a lot more carefully than I would in her situation.

    It's hard to describe when it's something small that happens in the narration like that, but I think overexplaining gets more obvious when it come to dialogue. Stalker's explanation of why he did the whole S. S. Anne thing felt like a bit much to me, for example. Obviously how he answers the question is an indicator of his character--a lot of leader types would probably give an answer along the lines of "Precautions. *glare*", and my interpretation of Stalker going into multiple paragraphs about his plan is that he's trying to show off and impress everyone with how thoroughly he's thought things through. Even then, though, it seems like a bit much--going into such detail strikes me as defensive more than anything. Overall, my impression is that that particular bit of exposition is included primarily for the benefit of the reader, in case anyone was wondering what even Stalker was thinking with asking them to the party. But as a reader, I don't particularly need to know or care about that. To me it seems like the salient point of the conversation would come across as well with Stalker saying, "You had to endure far more than you should to get here. I thought concealing you among the ordinary trainers aboard the S. S. Anne would be enough to keep you safe, but obviously Team Rocket was willing to go much farther than I expected to get to me. That's why secrecy is so important in the fight against TR blah blah rhetoric." It's kind of like what people were saying about Stalker at the very beginning, how it seemed odd that he was giving Jade so much information up front--it just seemed like he was explaining more than you would really expect in that situation. I think it's a case of something making sense in the context of the story and your perception of how the plot hangs together, but which might not really be important to get across at that point. Like how Stalker mentioned that there are factions within TR working against its goals in that first chapter; it makes sense for him to say that insofar as Jade is actually going to be a part of one of those groups, but at the time he hasn't even broached the subject of her helping him against TR, and even if he had, it seems early to be getting into how, specifically, she'd be doing that.

    Stalker has been Mr. Exposition thus far, so he's been doing the brunt of Saying Too Much, but as I tried to show with the other examples, I think it's more a symptom of something larger that happens to creep into his dialogue. In general, I'd say you could maybe ease off what you explicate a bit; you obviously don't want to leave out so much information that readers can't follow what's going on or can't even guess at characters' motives, but as it stands I think you go a little too far in making them explicit to the reader.

    There are a couple style things that caught my eye in this chapter as well. One thing in particular I would watch out for in your writing are filter words. These are words that make explicit that there's a narrator describing what's going on, rather than simply having those events happen. They include words like "saw," "heard," "felt," "thought," and "realized." It's sort of hard to describe, but they're what make the difference between

    What filter words do is put a reader at a distance from the events of the story--they remind us that the character's experiences are being filtered through the eyes of a narrator. Sometimes this is exactly what you want. If you have a strong framing device, for example, where the narrator is reflecting on these events and perhaps inserting some of their future perspective into the story they're telling, then you often want the audience to be conscience of the narration. Or you may simply have a narrator with a lot of personality that you want to play a large role in the story's telling. For a story like thi, though, where there's more emphasis on action, I think you want more of an in-the-moment feel, to connect the reader as much as possible with the events going on in the story so they forget it's being told by someone else and they aren't experiencing it themselves.

    So, some examples:

    I caught sight of the captain striding forcefully past us, continuing to repeat his emergency message into a handheld PA microphone.
    Do we need Jade to mention seeing the captain, or can she just see him? What about something like this instead?

    The captain strode forcefully past us, continuing to repeat his emergency message into a handheld PA microphone.
    To me, this change makes the sentence more immediate and puts the emphasis on the strongest verb.

    A similar thing here:

    I could now see the mass of people making their way up from the lower decks and felt a huge weight in my chest just from the sheer amount of panicked faces, many of them younger than me.
    Does Jade need to see/feel these things, or can they just happen?

    A mass of people made their way up from the lower decks, and a huge weight settled in my chest just from the sheer amount of panicked faces, many of them younger than me.
    Or what about here?

    I could tell that part of me wanted to panic like the first half, but it was almost like I’d used up the ability hours ago.
    If she can tell, maybe she can just state it straight out?

    Part of me wanted to panic like the first half, but it was almost like I’d used up the ability hours ago.
    Again, I think "I felt X" is often better replaced by the character just feeling X:

    ...and no sooner had I noticed it that I felt myself knocked into the trainer nearest me by a burst of wind out of nowhere.
    becomes:

    ...and no sooner had I noticed it that I was knocked into the trainer nearest me by a burst of wind out of nowhere.
    (You might also consider rewording to "...a burst of wind out of nowhere knocked me into the trainer nearest me," which puts more emphasis on the wind, the actor in this clause.)

    This one is a bit trickier, because it's not as simple a changing a few words of the sentence as it stands:

    My brain distantly realized that Fuchsia was near the end of Kanto’s southernmost peninsula.
    I think you might consider replacing this directly with Jade's thoughts in such a way that it's implied this is what she's realizing, e.g. "Fuchsia? That was at the southern tip of Kanto, right?"

    Overall, I think looking out for these kind of narrative intrusions would help streamline your prose a bit and bring the action to the fore. At times I think it gets a little sluggish as is, and trying to reduce instances of filtering might help it flow along more snappily. The trick to seeing where they intrude is to be asking yourself whether the sentence is about Jade describing something happening, or whether it's about something happening directly. Usually I think you want to err on the side of the latter.

    You also tend to go a little heavy with your temporal indicators ("then," "at this/that point," "now," etc.). Readers generally assume that each sentence follows the preceding one in time, so you only need to indicate when something happened if it violates that assumption, would otherwise be confusing, or you want to put emphasis on the timing for some reason. Outside of that it's just cruft that slows things down. For example:

    At this point the man escorting me patted my shoulder...
    What would you lose from this sentence if you removed "at this point?" I think it would ultimately read better if you dropped that phrase, simply because the action would seem more immediate.

    Not long afterward, the rocking motion of the ship grew more violent by the second.
    I think this sentence would actually make more sense if you made it simply "The rocking motion of the ship..." As it is I think it reads a little awkward because the opening phrase ("not long afterward") suggests a discrete event that occurred, while the end of the sentence ("by the second") indicates that we're talking about a process that evolves over time. The current version reads contradictory to me, and I don't think you need the "not long afterward" at all.

    In particular I'd watch out for "suddenly" and "immediately." You use them a lot in this chapter, and they're words that definitely lose their impact with repetition. I'd try to save them for situations where you really need to get across how suddenly something happened and otherwise look for ways to create a sense of abruptness through the structure of the prose itself. For example, what does "immediately" really add to the sentence "My brain immediately told me to say no, but for some reason I nodded?"

    Also, a punctuation note: there should be a space after elipses, just like you'd put a space after a normal period. So a sentence like this:

    I was probably in the way, collapsed on the floor like this, but…I just…I couldn’t figure out how to do anything about it.
    wants to look like this:

    I was probably in the way, collapsed on the floor like this, but… I just… I couldn’t figure out how to do anything about it.
    instead.

    Also, I really don't like elipses at the start of sentences. I think you're mostly using them to indicate pauses, moments where the characters are caught off guard, but they don't really work for me. I don't see what you get from using "...What." that make it better than just "What." The second one lands more sharply and, to me, gives a better impression startlement, like the person can't do anything but stand there and try to process what's going on. Elipses at the end of a sentence indicates someone just loses their train of thought and trailed off, which is something that you hear people actually do in real life. But I don't know how you would trail into dialogue, so elipses at the beginning of a spoken line really don't make sense to me. If you want there to be a pause, I think you ought to just write that so-and-so paused or there was a beat of silence or what have.

    So! That's quite a lot. This was a solid enough chapter overall, though. It's kind of hard to say stuff about it, because it really was primarily moving characters around to get them in place for the next bit of plot. It'll be fun seeing how Stalker actually plans to train up a bunch of newbie trainers and how he actually handles running the group now that he'll actually be present rather than lurking in the shadows or whatever (I presume). I'm also curious to see where Jade's subplot with Chibi goes, since I imagine he'll end up being a pretty major character, but it doesn't look like we'll actually see him again for a while.

    Again, great to see this story back after so long, and best of luck with NaNo and getting the next chapter prepped! My hunch is that the plot's going to pick up in the next couple chapters--I know you said the next one in particular is quiet, but after that I imagine we'll be getting into the thick of it with Team Rocket. Sounds like fun, and I hope you enjoy writing it out!

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

    Banner by Sworn Metalhead of Dćdric Design




  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Hey, what's up? Like I said, it's great that you're working on this again. I think I read at least the beginning a long, long time back when I first came to SPPf, but I didn't catch this particular revision until it had gone on hiatus. I don't feel like I have a ton to say about the earlier chapters that hasn't been said by someone else already, but tweaking things so Jade doesn't get her license because she couldn't pass the exam rather than because her parents didn't want her journeying does make more sense.
    I'm so happy to be working on it again, and I just wanna say thanks for all the prodding on tumblr and the like, even when I launched into essays about Why I Couldn't Write or refrained from replying at all out of embarrassment, it was more helpful than you know.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    I haven't done more than a cursory skim to see what else you might have changed recently, but did you also tweak the end of the last chapter so Jade ended up on the ground at the beginning of this one?
    Huh, I don't believe so? I'm pretty sure I remember writing her knees giving out a looong time ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Wow, TR are dicks. I don't remember what reason you said they had for wanting to sink the whole boat in the first place, but they're clearly doing their best to murder as many people on board as possible, target or not.
    Ahhh that...that might be somewhat vestigial. I changed the Rocket's mission to be less "destroy first, ask questions later" to "find out wtf is going on with supposed rebels, oh sh*t they really are here, oh sh*t one of them might be the most legendary rebel of all time or MORE THAN ONE for the love of crap ENDING THIS NOW." And...that passage is very much the former. Ah whatever, I spent too much time trying to work out the logistics of this mission, I'll leave it and hope inspiration strikes me later.

    Especially since in retrospect, the most recent hiatus was easily the dumbest of them all. Hiatus caused by major plot tumors in Part 2? Legit. Hiatus caused by one mission not making sense which never really comes up again? Wtf.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Why didn't everyone get teleported directly into Midnight Stadium, or at least get directions from the teleport dude, rather than Stalker relying on them going to the PC and asking the nurse there?
    Oh, haha, I added the teleport literally the day of posting after realizing that if Stalker's original plan involved teleporting, there's no reason the emergency plan couldn't as well (and I was desperate to shorten the chapter.) I think the dock just felt like a good "designated destination," though I should at least add a brief bit of instructions for them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    I think you can get a bit explain-y at times, and it's something that's particularly prevalent in this chapter. It's like you want to make sure everything makes sense and that you convey that logic to the reader. But while it's necessary for you, as the author, to know all the motives behind characters' actions and how the logic of events fits together behind the scenes, that's not alway something you should present to the reader.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    idk, it' a pretty subtle thing, but to me at times it feels like characters (including Jade) spend a relatively large amount of time justifying their actions
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Overall, my impression is that that particular bit of exposition is included primarily for the benefit of the reader, in case anyone was wondering what even Stalker was thinking with asking them to the party. But as a reader, I don't particularly need to know or care about that.
    Bolded sentence is the most important thing anyone has ever said to me.

    I'm serious, the weight of this revelation is staggering, and it's taken me this long just to process the full extent of its implications.

    In the old thread, nothing was thought through. Nothing was logical. And I was called out on it near constantly. So in this thread, I've been so paranoid about getting everything 100% LOGIC and SHOWING IT EVERYWHERE as if to be saying "Look I SWEAR I thought this through LOOK AT ALL THE PROOF I THOUGHT THINGS THROUGH THIS TIME."

    But...if it really is thought through...then I don't really need to prove it. The old version wasn't bad because it didn't prove its logic. It was bad because it had none. If the new version really does make sense, then it doesn't need to shove the proof everywhere.

    I guess it all loops back into me not being confident that things do make sense this time. Or unsure if I should just go "Screw it who cares, hay everyone the first 15+ chapters make no sense deal with it."

    And now it's obvious why Stalker suffers the most from it. I realized it just before reading your paragraph where you came to the same conclusion. Since he's the only character who has any idea what's going on, he's the only medium for said Proof of Thought.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Again, I think "I felt X" is often better replaced by the character just feeling X:
    Good to know! I already did a ton of quick pruning on chapter 9 as a result and it flows much better.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    It'll be fun seeing how Stalker actually plans to train up a bunch of newbie trainers and how he actually handles running the group now that he'll actually be present rather than lurking in the shadows or whatever (I presume).
    I'm really looking forward to it! In the previous thread, there was barely any training at all (probably because I, as a writer, was all "how do i good battle") but now that I'm actually a competitive battler, there's so much I can't wait to go into.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Again, great to see this story back after so long, and best of luck with NaNo and getting the next chapter prepped!
    Thanks! At this rate Chapter 9 will probably be out in December just because while I probably could finish it easily now, I wanna use the NaNo boost to get Part 2 completely solid. Though it will be a little odd to switch gears back to "derps fighting rockets" after spending all month on "spacetime alternate universe xanatos gambit pileup."

    I legit have plans to use this boost to get to the end of Part 1 by the end of next year, though. That would require me to make it to Chapter 30, and considering it's all already been written before, that's not as crazy as it sounds. The later chapters need considerably less rewriting, and the middle chapters already got heavily scripted last year, and basically just need the actual prose. Here's hoping!

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  5. #105
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    It's been a while, hasn't it. Long enough that a lot of my old fic-reading memories are well and truly buried under a pile of Coheed lyrics and various, unrelated headcanons. In a way, it's like I'm reading this story--not just this particular version--for the very first time.

    So anyway. Looks like I already hit the prologue + first chapter, so I'll just let my previous post stand and start taking notes and nonsense from chapter 2 on (though I did reread the prologue and first chapter to refresh my memory). On with it, then!

    My stomach sank even lower than it had been before as I turned to see an extremely pissed-off Tyson standing in the doorway to the cargo area, his jaw hanging open from shock.

    “Uhh, hey…” Spencer said awkwardly. “Could you just leave for a bit? We kind of have a situation here.”
    PFFFF. Spencer please...

    “Well I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think I’ll be flying Rocket Airlines again anytime soon. In any case, I say we get out of here now, and worry about spamming them with bad reviews later,” Spencer said, walking over.
    SPENCER PLEASE. XD He officially has the best lines thus far.

    Spencer’s Arcanine had clearly been forced to endure the most hits, and yet it still darted around the battlefield, using its Extremespeed technique both to land rapid blows and block its teammates from the relentless flames being thrown around the fray.
    Clever.

    At once, he spewed out a column of raging flames, which sent his small figure reeling backwards from the force.
    Okay, I have to admit I found that image funny. Probably because I pictured him rolling off backward like Charlie Brown, for whatever reason.

    “Scary organization that tried to kill us now has an ultra-powerful fire-breathing weapon. I hope I’m not the only one bothered by this,” Spencer commented.
    I'd imagine this post is probably starting to look like something out of the Spencer Fanclub Weekly Newsletter or some such. XD

    I let myself down from its back slowly, my hands now sore beyond belief from all the flying we’d done today.
    One of numerous reasons why I really, really wouldn't want to go flying anywhere on a pokémon. Kudos for the attention to detail.

    Alright, had to find the Pikachu now. Where could he have gone? My fingers were almost a blur as I unfolded the info booklet and skimmed the map of the S.S. Anne, desperately hoping for any kind of clue. The ship’s entry level was the middle deck, on the same level as the restaurants, shops, lounges, and dance room. Just above was the Pokémon Center, small arenas, contest hall, spa and suites. The lower decks held the engine room and all of the basic cabins and none of this was helpful, argh.
    There's just something so... authentic, I guess, about that paragraph. Especially the way it ends--makes it read more like a person's natural thoughts, I suppose.

    It was weird—even without any force from the hybrid, there was that one look that unfailingly seemed able to make me give in and answer him.
    Stands to reason, really, least from where I'm sitting. Zapdos... isn't exactly known to have a friendly, pleasant face. All intense raptorface, all the time. I'd bet Chibi inherited at least a little of that.

    I didn’t have a choice—I had to get them all.
    GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL, GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALLLLLLLL...
    bombs

    And then my feet had to go and catch on the edge of the steps all the time, because obviously that was what I needed right now.
    I love this line.

    I was just vaguely wondering how the Rockets had escaped, and if they’d had rockets in their backpacks when a hand clapped me on the shoulder.
    I don't know exactly what it is about Rockets with rockets that strikes me as funny, but there it is.


    Anyway, good stuff. Jade's a sufficiently interesting narrator that I can read 8+ chapters of her on end without any sort of fatigue setting in. She's fun, she's believable, and she's got a decent supporting cast. Looking forward to the next bit.
    On indefinite reviewing hiatus! Gotta work more on my own stuff.
    The Origin of Storms | Communication
    Bad Idea | Starlight

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner View Post
    It's been a while, hasn't it. Long enough that a lot of my old fic-reading memories are well and truly buried under a pile of Coheed lyrics and various, unrelated headcanons. In a way, it's like I'm reading this story--not just this particular version--for the very first time.
    Hiya! ^^ So glad to see you still reading it. I always love seeing readers who have stuck with this long.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner View Post
    I'd imagine this post is probably starting to look like something out of the Spencer Fanclub Weekly Newsletter or some such. XD
    I'm okay with that. x3 He brings some much needed humor to scenes which would otherwise get bogged down with everyone panicking, which would get tiring to write and to read.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner View Post
    Stands to reason, really, least from where I'm sitting. Zapdos... isn't exactly known to have a friendly, pleasant face. All intense raptorface, all the time. I'd bet Chibi inherited at least a little of that.
    Hehe, yup, that's pretty much how I imagined it. Especially since, with his background, he's not very good at expressiveness anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner View Post
    Anyway, good stuff. Jade's a sufficiently interesting narrator that I can read 8+ chapters of her on end without any sort of fatigue setting in. She's fun, she's believable, and she's got a decent supporting cast. Looking forward to the next bit.
    Glad to hear it. Chapter 9 will be up tonight or tomorrow. I've been severely under the weather for the past week, otherwise I'd have already had it up! Also, my scripting for chapters 10-12 is going as planned, so those chapters should have a consistent update schedule in the new year. Which is so, so relieving after all the hiatuses.

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  7. #107
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    Hey, so aside from taking a month off for NaNoWriMo, this chapter came out within a pretty reasonable amount of time! Let’s see how long I can keep this going.

    As anyone who follows me on other websites knows, I wrote Part 2 of LC for NaNoWriMo. Not having any idea how to handle the plot of Part 2 was the cause of the first big hiatus that ended the fic in the first thread. So yeah, having it already solidified is a huge deal, and I’m more excited than ever to get that far. So I’m gonna try to blitz through the rest of Part 1 as quickly as I can. It’s all already been written before, anyway!


    ~ Chapter 9: The Rebellion Begins ~


    I had seen plenty of indoor battlefields on TV, but being inside one was an entirely different experience, even if Midnight Stadium was a lot smaller than the stadiums used for the Indigo League. The battlefield area was a huge flat space with a smooth, densely-packed clay surface. Sheer concrete walls at least twenty feet high surrounded the entire area, and above that the audience seats were arranged in rows extending backward to the outer edge of the stadium. The ceiling was currently in place, though the surrounding machinery probably meant that it was capable of being opened.

    Most of the kids had finished signing up in the lobby and had moved on the battlefield by now. I glanced around for Rudy, since he’d gotten registered before me, only to see that he had already located an opponent for a practice battle. I couldn’t help laughing a bit at his impatience. He was almost literally bouncing up and down with anticipation as he pointed forward and yelled for his Spearow to attack.

    “Hey there,” a voice behind me said.

    I whirled around to see who it was and found myself looking down at a smaller kid, maybe a year or two younger than me. He had straight, dirty-blond hair, light blue eyes, and was currently giving me an “I know something you don’t” sort of grin.

    Did I know him? His face did seem vaguely familiar, but I wasn’t sure why. He obviously knew I didn’t recognize him, but seemed content to wait until I figured it out. Where had I seen him before?

    Right…he was that kid I saw when boarding the S.S. Anne. That was the first proof I’d gotten that there were other potential team members on the ship.

    “Oh, it’s you.” I said blankly. “Er, hello you.”

    “Mm, close, but actually my name is Darren, not ‘you,’” he said matter-of-factly. “But anyways, how was the S.S. Anne trip for you? You know…aside from the sudden ending. I don’t think any of us much cared for that part.” Even though he was clearly being sarcastic, he said it with the same sort of tone that you’d use for something dead serious, which was a little off-putting.

    “Can’t complain really. Fighting Rockets at 4am is one of my favorite things to do,” I said dryly.

    “Ah, you too? I guess we’re in the right place for that, yeah,” he said, nodding his head in a “that makes sense” sort of way. I raised an eyebrow. He paused for a second before saying, “Yeah okay, actually…I don’t think I’d say fighting Rockets is my favorite thing. That’s probably not true. It’s okay if it’s yours though. I won’t judge.”

    I really wanted to ask him to stop being sarcastic with such a serious tone, but how do you even ask something like that?

    “So anyway, want to battle?” Darren asked, pulling out a Pokéball all of a sudden. I was really gonna have to get used to that being a default greeting for Pokémon trainers.

    “Oh, uh…sure?” I retrieved my Pokéballs to let out Swift and Firestorm in a flash of white light. I then had to mentally smack myself—you weren’t supposed to let out your whole team for a battle. Would this seriously be my first “normal” Pokémon battle?

    “Oh. Or we could show off our Pokémon first…that works too,” Darren said, shrugging. I wanted to tell him I had just made a mistake, but he had already grabbed two more Pokéballs and opened all of them. When the light faded, an Ivysaur, Sandshrew, and Psyduck now stood before me.

    “Cool, so you started out with Bulbasaur, right?” I hadn’t seen its evolved form up close before. As I knelt to get a better look at it, the flower-backed reptile drew itself up proudly and shook its leaves.

    “Yeah, ever since he evolved he’s been kind of a showoff,” Darren said, rubbing the back of his head. “It’s even worse when we’re battling and he thinks someone’s watching.” Ivysaur folded his ears back and shot his trainer a glare for that comment. Darren ignored him and continued, “So, are we still gonna have that battle?”

    “Oh. Er, sure, we can battle. I’ll use…” I trailed off as I looked over my two Pokémon. Firestorm was obviously stronger now, which meant I should use—“Swift,” I finished.

    Firestorm’s face fell immediately. “*What? I wanted to—*”

    “You evolved last night, let’s give Swift a chance to catch up, yeah?” The Charmeleon didn’t much care for my explanation and folded his arms with an overly sulky expression. Swift looked conflicted and kept glancing back and forth between Firestorm and me.

    I waved a hand dismissively. “Ignore him, this is your turn.”

    The Pidgey blinked in surprise, but then nodded deeply and fluttered forward to stand between Darren and me.

    “Alright…I’ll use Sandshrew then!” Darren called out, pointing forward. The yellow-scaled Pokémon at his heels struck a triumphant pose before leaping in front of him, baring its claws with an aggressive smirk that didn’t seem to fit such a small creature.

    First real battle…okay, I didn’t have to worry about dying if I lost, so there was no reason to stress out over it. No reason to forget everything I’d ever learned in battling class.

    Except I’d learned nothing from battling class.

    “Sandshrew, use Defense Curl!” Darren ordered.

    Crap, I had to order an attack! What moves did Swift even know? There couldn’t be that many—he hadn’t been trained before.

    “Uh, use Quick Attack!”

    Almost faster than I could see, Swift took off from the ground and shot forward like a bullet, striking Sandshrew dead-on and sending it reeling backwards. But as Swift pulled out of the dive, the yellow shrew quickly regained itself and rolled its body into a tightly curled ball.

    “Alright, we got the first hit, now follow it up with a Tackle!” I shouted, already feeling my heart pound with excitement.

    Swift swooped back around and aimed for his opponent again, this time going for a full-body slam rather than a quick passing strike. The Pidgey slammed headlong into Sandshrew, but the scale-armored Pokémon was now braced to endure the hit—it barely moved from the impact.

    “What? But why…?” I muttered.

    “*Defense curl toughened its body. It won’t be hurt easily now,*” Swift observed.

    Darren grinned. “Alright, now go for a Rollout!”

    I just had the chance to see the ground-type’s hide take on a rocky texture before it started rotating at high speed and took off rolling across the stadium floor like a boulder. Swift was flying overhead, so there wasn’t any way he could get hit, right? But right that instant, Sandshrew used its momentum to leap off the ground—I didn’t think it could do that! Swift banked to the left at the last second as Sandshrew barreled past him. I would have sighed in relief if I weren’t still staring, unsure of what to do now. So Swift wasn’t safe in the air. What was the best thing to do now? I’d have to order an attack if we were to get anywhere.

    “Go for another hit, Sandshrew!”

    Crap, I had to come up with something, anything. “Uh, Swift try another Quick Attack!” Maybe if he could hit Sandshrew before it hit him?

    But was Sandshrew was already mid-Rollout again. Swift glanced back at me with an uncertain look, but then dove forward too fast to see, closing in on the Rollout heading straight for him.

    This was bad—Swift was going to get hit! Why had I told him to attack like that?!

    I flinched hard when the two collided, but that didn’t block the pained cry that Swift let out as he was sent flying backwards tumbling along the stadium floor before coming to rest in a battered heap. I’d basically just told him to fly into a rock. Why?!

    I grabbed his Pokéball, ready to recall him, but amazingly, the Pidgey was already standing to his feet, shaking his head to get his bearings. It had been a powerful hit, but it was the only hit he’d had to endure so far. So we might still have a chance.

    “Sandshrew, come back around for the second hit!” Darren called out, and I could have sworn I saw the rocky armor coating the ground-type grow a bit thicker. Was this attack seriously going to get stronger as the battle went on?

    Swift looked back at me expectantly. I stared at him, blank confusion plastered all over my face. He nodded softly, as though trying to let me know that I should do something. But whatever I said would only make things worse. My mind was racing, but it wasn’t coming up with anything at all. We only had a few seconds left!

    Finally, Swift hung his head and turned back to face the oncoming Rollout. He stretched out his wings and hopped in place, waiting for it to get near to him. Then, at the very last second, he took off from the ground, letting the Rollout speed past him. I watched with bated breath, knowing that it was about to turn around for another blow. But at that moment, Swift flapped his wings in a sudden frenzy, creating a blast of air that formed into a spiraling whirlwind. Sandshrew’s rolling form had just gone for leaping at Swift when the rush of wind swept under it and flung it around in the air, knocking the ground Pokémon out of its balled-up position. It flailed it limbs in a panic, unable to resist being thrashed about by the whirlwind.

    Of course…Gust. How could I have forgotten about that?

    The Gust attack finally dissipated and Sandshrew was sent flying to the ground, too dizzy to land on its feet and instead crashing awkwardly on its back.

    “Come on Sandshrew, launch a Poison Sting at it!”

    But in that split second before it could regain itself, Swift dove forward too quickly to see and struck Sandshrew right in its vulnerable underbelly. The yellow-scaled Pokémon was sent flying backward from the hit, and when it finally slid to a stop, it was clearly unconscious.

    “We lost,” Darren said blankly. “I thought Rollout would make for an easy win.”

    I’d won. Though the victory didn’t feel like my own—I’d mostly gotten in the way. I could already tell that I had a lot more to learn from the training here than my Pokémon. But then…the whole point of this was to make myself stronger, right?

    Darren recalled his Sandshrew in a beam of light. “So I guess that’s the last time I’ll underestimate a Pidgey. Good job! Though…” he laughed, “it kinda seemed like that was your first battle or something.”

    I could feel my cheeks go red. I wasn’t sure if I should tell him that it was.

    Swift had fluttered down to stand next to me, but he kept staring at the ground like he’d done something wrong.

    “What’s up?” I asked.

    He paused, unsure of how to put it. “*I used moves on my own. Is that allowed?*”

    I almost laughed. “If your trainer doesn’t have a freaking clue what to do, you can’t just stand there, right?” The Pidgey blinked slowly, processing the thought.

    “Hey Jade, I just got done with my battle, and—oh cool, you had a battle too? Nice! Who won?” Rudy said all at once, appearing from behind me and still brimming with excitement.

    “Swift won,” I answered. It would have been weird to say that I had won.

    “Awesome! Anyway, my plan is to like, at least double my Pokémon’s power within the first month here, and—” He stopped mid-sentence, eyeing Firestorm and Swift in confusion. “Hey, I just realized—where’s your Pikachu?”

    I groaned internally. He really had to ask about that? The memory burned a hole in my chest every time it came up. I still couldn’t believe I’d let the Rockets take Chibi.

    After several seconds, I finally replied, “He left. I told you I didn’t think he’d stay with me.”

    “Aw…your cool Pikachu left?” Darren said, frowning. “I liked him.”

    “That sucks. So now you only have two Pokémon?” Rudy asked.

    I nodded, really hoping we could get off this topic as soon as possible. I got my wish when a large amount of the surrounding conversation died down suddenly. After a few seconds’ glancing around in confusion, I realized that Stalker had walked through the entrance to the battlefield, causing everyone in a twenty foot radius around him to pause in silent anticipation.

    “There’s no need to be like that. We’re all teammates now,” Stalker said, motioning for everyone to relax. “I asked a few people individually if they knew anything more detailed about what happened on the S.S. Anne. Some of them have mentioned hearing one of you say you were there during the Rockets’ mission.” He paused expectantly.

    I glanced around the battlefield. Right…it looked like I’d have to reveal my actions. Hesitantly, I raised my hand into the air. Stalker scanned the crowd for a few seconds until his eyes fell on me. He then simply said, “Alright, come to my office.”

    I hadn’t quite been expecting that. I gave Rudy and Darren a bewildered shrug before motioning to Swift and Firestorm to follow me, only to be met with a wide-eyed look of disappointment from the latter.

    “Oh fine, stay with Rudy and Darren if you want to battle so much, sheesh,” I said, waving a hand dismissively. Swift opted to stay too, but I could tell that he planned on observing more than taking part.

    Everyone’s eyes were on me the whole time as I walked to the front of the battlefield, though the only stare that mattered was Stalker’s. His expression was impossible to make out, which only fueled the prickles of anxiety starting to form in the back of my head. When I reached him, he simply nodded before turning and walking back up the stairs leading to the main entrance. I followed him out of the battlefield and back into the lobby before he turned down the right hallway and opened the first door we came to, motioning for me to enter. The room was fairly small, and taken up mostly by a large desk that was currently covered in a wide array of computer hardware, all hooked up to a laptop. Above the desk was a bookshelf that, at a glance, seemed to mostly involve Pokémon training and mythology. The few pictures on the walls were illustrations of Legendary Pokémon.

    “So…” he said, sitting down at the desk. “I don’t know what you were involved with or how much you know, but…mind telling me?” His voice was inquisitive but still had a firm tone like I didn’t really have a choice in the matter.

    I took a seat in a small black chair across from him, unable to keep from feeling at least a bit nervous at the idea of telling him what I’d done. I paused for several seconds, then finally said, “Alright.” And with that I recounted—for the second time that day—the story of my clash with the Rockets. He stayed silent the whole time, his expression inscrutable. When I had finished telling it, he didn’t say anything, but simply sat there with a look of deep concentration on his face, carefully mulling everything over. I had to admit, I was feeling kind of anxious to hear what he thought of the whole incident. Heck, it would probably impact the role I would play on the team.

    “So. You and a renegade experiment managed to stop them. You did what needed to be done, given the circumstances. I wouldn’t have expected that kind of initiative from you.” I tilted my head, unsure of how I was supposed to respond to that. He continued, “I’ll have to wait until the mission report to know for sure. But from the Rockets’ point of view, they either were able to take me and most of the rebels out, or send a strong message of ‘this is what happens if you try to oppose us.’ So either way they’ll view it as a win.” I noticed that he didn’t mention why the Rockets would have been so desperate to get at him, but I didn’t have the nerve to ask.

    “So, enough about that. I might as well get you registered for Team Rocket now.” I almost laughed at how matter-of-fact a statement like that was in this situation. He flipped open his laptop and began typing on it. “Your name?”

    “Oh, uh, Jade Arens.”

    He looked over his screen for a bit before saying, “Mm, here you are. Now, for your Rocket ID, I’ll be randomizing your name, birthday, hometown, and Rocket initiation, so…”—he paused to click a few things—“it looks like from now on you’re Allie Farias from Cerulean City, first registered at Northern HQ, born on 6th September 2983. Once you get your ID, you should memorize all of the information so you don’t slip up when an executive asks you about yourself. There are other things like evaluation status, rank, department, and commanding officer, but those aren’t the sort of info I can fake—they’ll be assigned to you when you make your first trip to an actual Rocket base.”

    “How many bases are there?” I asked.

    “There are four major ones in Kanto,” he replied. “Northern HQ near Cerulean, Financial HQ in Saffron, Operations HQ in Celadon, and Main HQ in Viridian.”

    Viridian. The main headquarters for Team Rocket was in my hometown, and our representative gym leader was its boss. As if I needed more reason to take the fight against Team Rocket personally.

    “I just need your photo now,” Stalker said, and I nodded. He clicked on a few things with his laptop, and it clicked when the picture was taken. “That should be everything for now. I’ll hand out everyone’s IDs before your first mission. By the way…you don’t have a trainer’s license yet, do you?” he asked.

    “No.” My voice was a bit hollow.

    “Mm, then you wouldn’t have gotten a room number registered to your license when you signed up. You’ll need this,” he said, handing me a small plastic card. “It’s a card key for a room here. And since I’m renting the stadium and letting everyone stay in it for free, you won’t be paid as much as I had originally intended,” he added.

    “Paid?” I asked. We’d get…money for this? It hadn’t occurred to me that we’d be paid to fight Team Rocket.

    “Well…yes. And depending on how well you act the part of a loyal, contributing member, you’ll get paid by Team Rocket, too.”

    “You have no idea how great that sounds,” I said with more than a little relief in my voice.

    “Low on cash, I take it?”

    “Yeah, I spent it all while waiting in Vermilion,” I said sheepishly.

    Chuckling slightly, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a billfold before tossing a 5000p note onto the table. “Can’t have my team members starving. Plus, I owe you for what happened on the S.S. Anne.”

    I stared at it. “Seriously?”

    He rolled his eyes and said, “Take it.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    My feet dragged against the road as I trudged back from my trip downtown, backpack loaded up with both groceries and Pokémon food. Sweat had started to pour down my face, making me even more uncomfortably aware of how high the sun had climbed. And it wasn’t even high noon yet. But the air on Midnight Island was thick and stifling and not at all like the mountain breezes I was used to in Viridian. Part of me wished that I had made Firestorm come with so I could have had someone else help carry what I’d bought, but it was too late to do anything about it now.

    A wave of relief swept over me as the stadium came in to view, and I would have run the rest of the way if my legs weren’t still dead from last night. I was tempted to take the groceries up to my room and eat there, but Swift and Firestorm were probably just as hungry as I was. And so, ignoring the part of my brain that kept whispering the promise of a shower and pillows, I walked straight to the battlefield.

    It didn’t take long to find my Pokémon, even among the numerous battles still taking place. Swift was easy to spot, practicing some aerial maneuvers in a relatively empty corner of the battlefield. And below him was Firestorm, sitting on the ground with a miserable look on his face while Darren sprayed him all over with a Potion.

    Darren waved when he spotted me. “Hey Jade, I’m just healing him up after that last battle.”

    The Charmeleon stared up at me with a sulky expression. “*I lost to Ivysaur. Ivysaur. I feel humiliated.*”

    Darren gave me a helpless look. “I…tried to tell him that most Pokémon won’t battle as well without a human trainer to strategize for them.”

    Ivysaur muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “*Even with a trainer he’d have still lost,*” but luckily Firestorm didn’t hear him.

    “*I want a rematch,*” the fire lizard said, standing up the instant Darren was done healing him.

    “No, you don’t. Food. Now,” I said flatly, gesturing to my backpack. “Come on, let’s find a place to sit down.” I gave a small wave to Darren before heading off to the stairway leading to the audience stands, Swift flying close behind and Firestorm dragging his heels.

    The view from the stands let me look out on all of the rebels in the battlefield and from the looks of their Pokémon, most of them were about the same skill level. Over half of the trainers had the middle stage of their starter Pokémon: Ivysaur, Charmeleon, or Wartortle, though there were a couple of trainers who still hadn’t evolved theirs yet—Rudy among them. Quite a few trainers had the common bird Pokémon like Spearow, Pidgey, and Hoothoot or the common field Pokémon like Rattata, Sentret, Meowth, and Ekans. But every so often I spotted a trainer with a more uncommon team member like Magnemite, Slowpoke, Jigglypuff, and one kid who even had a Heracross.

    I tore open the bags of Pokémon food and poured some out into a pair of plastic bowls I’d bought, then proceeded to hastily throw together a sandwich for myself. In between shoving fistfuls of food into his mouth, Firestorm mumbled, “*Never lost to any of the Bulbasaur at the starter house.*”

    “Holy crap, are you still going on about that?” I asked, rolling my eyes. But the important bit of info in what he’d just said jumped out at me. “Wait a second…did you say starter house?”

    “*Yeah.*”

    “As in, place where they raise starter Pokémon? You were a starter Pokémon?”

    “*Yeah,*” the fire lizard said, as though nothing were more obvious.

    “But then…why were you living in the forest? Did you get separated from your trainer, or did you never have one, or…” I trailed off.

    Firestorm swallowed a mouthful of food and said, “*I had a trainer, yeah.*”

    “…Had?”

    He closed his eyes, as though he’d been expecting me to ask, but hoping I wouldn’t. “*We only ever made it to the first city on our journey. That’s where I was stolen from him.*” His words were strangely monotone. “*I managed to escape eventually, but I couldn’t find him after that. I didn’t have any choice other than running away into the woods.*”

    I stared at the Charmeleon, lost for words. It never would have guessed that he’d had any sort of past like that, and wasn’t sure of how to comment on his ordeal. Finally, I managed to ask, “Did you ever go looking for any League officials? Even a Pokémon Center employee might have been able to help you find him.”

    He shook his head. “*I was afraid to go back into the city again.*”

    “I guess I can’t blame you for that…although it’s still sad. Now that I think of it, if I was able to capture you, then your old Pokéball must have been destroyed.”

    Firestorm shrugged. “*Probably. I ended up meeting a group of Charmander living in the woods west of that city. I spent a long time there until finally…well, there was the fire,*” he ended.

    I nodded to show that I was paying attention, but I couldn’t think of anything more to say on the topic that didn’t feel empty. Then again, it had been a long time ago, and while he hadn’t wanted to tell me, he didn’t seem especially broken up by saying it. At least the revelation that he was a starter explained his behavior on the S.S. Anne.

    “You know…I never did get to thank you,” I said distantly while lost in my thoughts. He looked up, confused. “For being so determined to protect me last night,” I clarified.

    Firestorm stared at the ceiling. “*Pokémon are supposed to protect their trainers,*” he said simply. He then gave me a very serious look and said, “*But…I wouldn’t have been able to keep them from shooting you.*”

    I rubbed the back of my head a bit sheepishly. “I guess…but that situation was my fault. You can’t be expected to be able to save me from every impossible mess I get myself into.”

    He didn’t respond—he just stared at the ground with a skeptical look like he didn’t agree with what I’d just said, but couldn’t think of how to argue it.

    “What about you, Swift? You’ve sure been quiet,” I said.

    The Pidgey turned toward me quizzically. “*No reason to say anything if I don’t have anything to say.*”

    I laughed. “I’m pretty sure you have a heck of a lot more on your mind than you ever feel like sharing.” At that comment, the feathers on his face ruffled with embarrassment and he focused intently on his food bowl.

    “C’mon. What are your thoughts on us being here?” I asked, giving a light nudge. “It was my decision to come here, but you guys are affected by it too.”

    “*I’m gonna get stronger right?*” Firestorm blurted out all of a sudden.

    I slapped a hand to my forehead. “Yes, Firestorm, you’re gonna get stronger.”

    “*I am excited to learn more about Pokémon battles,*” Swift said finally, looking up.

    “Oh yeah? Like what?”

    He paused thoughtfully. “*I want to understand all of the options in battle. It’s more complicated than just one attack and then another.*”

    I sighed. “That’s what I’m afraid of. Even using the simulators at school—which are nothing like the real thing, they’re more evenly paced—I could never get a handle on anything other than just…random powerful attacks, one after the other. I also don’t know most Pokémon’s strengths and weaknesses—it’s too much to remember.”

    “*Strengths and weaknesses?*” Swift asked, tilting his head. “*You mean how I would be harmed more by electricity than Firestorm?*”

    “No, I mean like how some Pokémon species can take physical hits better than special hits, and vice versa. But not always—everyone’s different, and the trainer has to know everything about how their Pokémon fight, ‘cause that determines what the best moves are, and—” I was making the situation sound more hopeless by the second. “Man, I’m screwed.”

    “*This is different from school. You’ll get it,*” Swift said, closing his eyes with a matter-of-fact nod.

    I smiled weakly.

    Firestorm was staring at the battlefield with a concerned expression, like he was still getting over my revelation that random power attacks were no way to battle properly.

    I suddenly became aware of the fact that the trainers had begun to clear out the battlefield, and were making their way up the stairs to the audience stands where I was sitting. Darren plopped down into a seat next to me without saying anything. Only a few seconds later, Rudy took the seat on my other side, saying way too many things.

    “Oh man, what do you think the first lesson is gonna be, do you think he’s gonna use his Charizard, I’ve wanted to see that thing battle ever since I first saw him riding it, but then again, the rest of his Pokémon are probably awesome too, and—”

    “You wanna try telling me what’s actually going on?” I asked.

    Rudy paused, looking mildly embarrassed. “Oh, er…Stalker’s gonna start the first lesson, and he needed the battlefield empty for it.”

    I turned to look down at the battlefield and saw that Stalker was now the only person down there. By now, everyone had found a seat and all eyes were focused completely on him. Even Firestorm had stopped sulking and was now staring intently.

    “So, I’m sure the thing you’re all looking forward to most is your training,” Stalker said. “Getting stronger will be useful in more ways than one. As new members of Team Rocket, proving yourself valuable in combat will be the first step to making the Rockets view you as a valuable asset. This will increase how much of the team you have access to, which will make it easier to carry out your true mission of sabotaging them from the inside. As for the opposition…”

    Stalker paced back and forth in front of us as he talked, considering his words carefully. “A lot of grunts are dropout trainers looking to make a quick buck. With enough training you should be able to take them on. But officers on the other hand…they’re ones most often called upon to fight rebels or Legendaries. To make it to that rank, they have to be skilled at taking down enemies one way or another. In short, you don’t want to fight them.”

    Here he paused, letting his words sink into us.

    “But if you do find yourself fighting them…what do you think would be the best course of action?”

    Honestly, I had no idea. I wasn’t sure if it was rhetorical or not either. A couple of the trainers discussed it amongst themselves for a minute before a kid two rows ahead of me stood up and said, “Exploit their weaknesses?”

    Stalker gave a tiny smirk. “Not bad. But the answer, of course, is focus on finding a way to escape.” A bunch of the trainers glanced back and forth at each other, murmuring confusedly. Our goal was to escape? How would that help us stop them?

    Stalker closed his eyes and shook his head. “Until you’re decently experienced, you don’t actually want to be fighting any Rockets. The training for your Pokémon is just a general purpose thing. The focus will be on will be on your training, as a trainer. If you’re doing your job right, the Rockets should never even know you’re there.”

    Everyone stared, and you could almost feel the disappointment. Stalker stared back at us coldly, content to wait until the group was done whispering its concerns.

    “That being said…” he continued, “there are a few ways you can maximize your chance of success against a stronger opponent. How many of you watch league matches on TV?”

    Well over half the kids around me raised their hands into the air. Even I had to admit that I’d watched them a couple times.

    “How many of you watch matches from other regions?”

    Everyone’s faces fell, and the majority of the hands sank slowly downward. Had I ever given more than a second glance to another region’s matches on TV? I couldn’t imagine I’d have ever cared—they used weird rules and their battles were impossible to follow.

    “I know that we’re awful fond of singles here. It’s the dominant format for all official battles in Kanto. But double battles are the primary format in Hoenn. Sinnoh runs a large number of tag battle tournaments. Unova has more than one format with six Pokémon on the field at once. These formats are collectively known as multi battles.” At this point, scattered bits of groaning could be heard from the kids around me.

    “Come onnn…multi battles are confusing, don’t tell me we have to learn those,” someone called out.

    “You’d better, if you want to stay alive.” That got everyone to shut up. “There’s a higher learning curve, but multi battles will let you get a lot more synergy out of your Pokémon.”

    Everyone stared in silence. A lot of the trainers had that look like they wanted to protest, but couldn’t figure out how to without being shut down.

    Stalker continued, “You’ll need synergy. It’s one of the things that can let you take down a foe with stronger Pokémon, which for the first couple months will be everyone. If you only have one Pokémon out, an enemy Rocket that is confident enough might only send one to meet you. But that is not always the case. If they send out more, you have to be ready to have a multi battle with them. It might be uneven.” My mind wandered back to the battles with Tyson and the Executive. Huge melees with many Pokémon per side. It had been impossible for me to keep track of all the action. But after training here, would I be able to? Ajia had been able to keep her cool even in such a chaotic fight, and if I could reach that level too…

    “I know this is hard to believe. So I’ll prove it to you—watch this battle.” And with that, Stalker pulled out four Pokéballs—two in each hand—and tossed one pair toward each side of the battlefield.

    On the left side two dragons emerged, one of which was the Charizard I’d seen him riding several times. The fire-lizard flapped its massive blue wings and took to the air, swinging its flame-tail aggressively and exhaling scattered embers with each breath. The second was a Dragonite, a tall, bulky dragon with smaller teal wings. Its softer and less dangerous appearance hid the fact that it was an incredibly powerful Pokémon, and one of the hardest to train.

    Facing them down on the opposing side was a pair of armored dinosaur Pokémon. The first one, a Tyranitar, took a low bow before drawing itself proudly up to its full height, showing off the impressive spikes jutting out of its green, rock-armor plating. Its partner, on the other hand, was clad in metallic plating with a trio of horns atop its head. It swung its heavy black tail side to side, looking excited to start the fight

    A wave of murmuring filled the stands, and it wasn’t hard to see why—the latter side had the overwhelming advantage. Even I knew that two rock-types against two flying-types was a bad matchup. And Charizard was a fire-type too! Its flames would barely do anything here.

    Stalker motioned to each of the four combatants in turn. “Charizard and Dragonite versus Tyranitar and Aggron. Battle start.”

    Not even a second after he said that, Charizard roared and began flapping its wings, sending a rush of superheated air towards the opposing side of the field, cloaking the armored dinosaurs in a haze of shimmering heat. Tyranitar regained itself first and stomped the ground, tearing loose chunks of rocks from it and sending them hurtling through the air at the dragons. Aggron staggered backward from the first attack, parts of its armor glowing red-hot from the heat, but after a few seconds’ hesitation it also managed to send a Rock Slide at its opposition.

    Alright, so Charizard had been fast enough to get the first move off, but what was it supposed to do now? There was no way it could dodge all those rocks. But for some reason…it didn’t even look like it was planning to? Behind it, Dragonite had begun twisting and turning in midair, making a sort of rhythmic, tight-circled flight. Sparkling red and green embers quickly started to sweep across its body. At the last second, Charizard dove forward in front of the oncoming rocks and folded its wings tightly around its body. A shimmering translucent wall of white energy instantly formed in front of the fire-lizard. I stared in awe—rocks smashed into the wall one after another, but none could even touch Charizard. Its partner was struck by a few of the more far-flung boulders, but didn’t look nearly as hurt by them as I’d have imagined.

    Darren leaned over and whispered to me, “Oh man, I think Dragonite just used Dragon Dance—that’s why it’s so much faster now. It’s gonna be way stronger too. Ha, the other side better take it down fast or they’re screwed.”

    I still couldn’t get over the fact that both dragons were still in the fight. I had thought for sure that the double Rock Slide was going to be the end of it.

    Aggron charged forward toward the opposition, gathering a huge amount of flashing red energy around its head. Tyranitar stood its ground and took a deep breath before blasting out a jagged blue beam of ice crystals—what, Ice Beam? Seriously? Tyranitar could use Ice Beam? Dragonite didn’t look concerned though. The bulky dragon just swooped low over the battlefield, folding its wings around itself, and then the same shining wall of energy formed in front of it. Jagged strings of icy energy shot off the barrier when the Ice Beam struck, but not a single one could touch Dragonite. Not a second later, Aggron smashed its head into the dragon with a sickening crack…and somehow the barrier absorbed the entire force of the attack? What?

    A giant orb of blue and white energy flew in from the side, striking Tyranitar while it was preoccupied with its attack. The spiked dinosaur recoiled backward, howling in pain before sinking to its knees from the shock of the blast. I turned my head to the left side of the battlefield to see Charizard’s claws glowing faintly from having launched the orb.

    Charizard was the one who had done it. Charizard had brought Tyranitar to its knees. It didn’t seem possible, but I’d just watched it happen.

    Dragonite took that opportunity to shoot back into the air, its small wings carrying it impossibly fast. Without warning, it dove down and slammed its feet into the ground, letting loose a shock wave that rippled out from its center. The waves traveled across the floor striking both opponents and shattering the ground underneath their feet. I was amazed that we could barely feel the shock from the Earthquake up in the stands, but then again, it made sense for modern stadiums to be protected against things like that.

    Tyranitar was struggling to stand after two powerful hits in a row, but Aggron managed to stand up long enough to stomp the ground, sending jagged blades of stone ripping up from the ground and digging into Dragonite, stopping its flight cold and sending the dragon plummeting downward. But right at that moment, Charizard send another wave of scorching heat flying at the opposition, and though both dinosaurs managed to weather it for a few seconds, eventually they both collapsed to the floor and didn’t get up.

    No way. They’d done it. They’d actually pulled off beating two rock-type Pokémon.

    Everyone burst into cheers and applause the instant the battle was done, and I couldn’t help but join them, clapping furiously until my hands hurt. Sure, I didn’t know what half the moves being used were, but did that even matter?

    Dragonite slowly struggled to its feet and gave a curt nod, while Charizard spread its arms wide, letting the praise wash over it. I couldn’t help noticing Firestorm clapping even harder at that point, his eyes wide with admiration.

    Stalker recalled the two fallen combatants, then waited a bit for the applause to die down before he recalled the two victors.

    “I should tell you right now—that battle was staged,” he said, pacing in front of us. “But I wanted it to demonstrate something. Even if you have the disadvantage, there are still options in every fight. And you can exploit those options to put yourself in a better position. So, yes, while you shouldn’t really be fighting any Rockets…you are going to learn how.

    “Over the next few months we are going to train—not just your Pokémon, but yourselves—physically and mentally. Some of you will be taking an active role in making sure their field missions don’t succeed. Others will take on a more covert role gathering information for us to use against them. Both are equally important. In agreeing to join this cause, all of you have shown a lot of nerve, and that’s already been tested with the S.S. Anne attack.”

    And in that moment, for what felt like the first time, I felt a glimmer of pride for being a part of all this. Last night had been awful, but I’d managed to make a difference, hadn’t I? And I finally had an opportunity to make sure I’d be able to handle things better next time.

    Stalker finally stopped his pacing and turned to face us directly. “Once I think you’re ready, you’ll get the chance to put everything you’ve learned to the test and infiltrate a Team Rocket base. It’ll be your first real mission as members of this team.”

    “What are we gonna be called?” a voice called out from the crowd. Stalker paused, as though he hadn’t considered that.

    “Yeah! We need a team name!” someone else yelled. And with that, more and more of the kids built up the courage to let their excitement pour through and start throwing out ideas.

    “How about Team Midnight, ‘cause we’re on Midnight Island!” one kid yelled.

    “No, we could be the Team Rocket Rebellion!” another shouted.

    “That’s too long, just the Rebellion! It sounds more mysterious!” a girl exclaimed excitedly.

    “I like the sound of that,” Stalker said all of a sudden, his face breaking into a grin. “All in favor of the Rebellion raise their hands!”

    Over half the kids shot their hands into the air.

    “Well, that settles it. In a few weeks, the Rebellion is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”





    ~End Chapter 9~
    Yes, I will admit it straight up: that battle at the end there was 100% me going "Double battles are AWESOME and single battles are lame let me gush about this." I can't help it, I love double battles, and the tactics involved in them really do strike me as the most useful thing for the rebels to learn.

    Oh yeah, and this time around we'll actually get to SEE the rebels training. You know, unlike the old thread which just unceremoniously skipped everything interesting with a single-paragraph recap.

    ~Chibi~
    Last edited by Chibi Pika; 9th December 2015 at 2:29 PM.



    "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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  8. #108
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    What moves did Swift even know?
    Imagine Swift using swift.

    Not a second later, Aggron smashed its head into the dragon with a sickening crack…and somehow the barrier absorbed the entire force of the attack? What?
    I like the question marks here. Really gets her reaction across (in this case, sort of a "the heck?" reaction).

    Double battles ARE awesome and it's really hitting me now how little thought I've given them. Legit don't think I've ever written one. Now I kind of want an excuse to.
    On indefinite reviewing hiatus! Gotta work more on my own stuff.
    The Origin of Storms | Communication
    Bad Idea | Starlight

  9. #109
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    I'm so happy to be working on it again, and I just wanna say thanks for all the prodding on tumblr and the like, even when I launched into essays about Why I Couldn't Write or refrained from replying at all out of embarrassment, it was more helpful than you know.
    Haha, that's definitely good to hear. I always wonder whether I'm being too pushy or annoying by poking people about their work, so I'm glad you ultimately found it helpful. (And just tell me to go away if I'm being irritating, really; I'd rather get told off than keep bothering someone without realizing it.)

    Likewise, I'm glad you found the part about overexplanation helpful... it was definitely that stuck out to me in the story thus far. This chapter didn't have that problem as far as I could see. The part where Jade told Stalker about what happened on the ship and got some information on Team Rocket seemed a lot more natural than most of her other conversations with him have been.

    Huh, I don't believe so? I'm pretty sure I remember writing her knees giving out a looong time ago.
    Heh, entirely possible. Guess I forgot.

    Anyway, on to Chapter 9. I can tell that it originally used to be a part of the previous one; while Chapter 8 ended in a decent place, this one feels a little short and uneventful. Not much you can do about it, perhaps, unless you wanted to move some of the less time-bound stuff (e.g. Firestorm talking about his trainer) elsewhere so it returned to being short enough that you could stick it back on the end of 8.

    I was surprised how much better at battling Swift was than Jade. I thought he was a housepet? idk if Swift is supposed to have a mysterious past.

    The few pictures on the walls were illustrations of Legendary Pokémon.
    Someone doesn't have any family? (Or doesn't want anyone else to know who his family is?)

    I like the idea that different regions have different preferred battling styles. I also have to wonder how similar Stalker's training is to whatever Team Rocket does with their recruits--they must also have to learn to work in a team and with several pokémon at once. Assuming they have some kind of QC for grunts and don't just go, "Welcome to the team, great to meet you, now go steal a thing."

    The battles themselves were nice, getting across what they need to in a short amount of time, which is something I always have trouble with. :P

    I have to admit that I find "The Rebellion" to be kind of a lame/generic sort of name, but it makes sense for a bunch of kids to come up with, perhaps.

    All in all not too much to say about this chapter. The meat of it was the two battles, with a bunch of wrapping up plot threads in between. I imagine this is the end of the "opening arc" of the story, and we'll be moving full force into the next stage (with actual infiltration of Team Rocket) beginning in Chapter 10. Should be fun!

    It was great to see you get this chapter out so quickly. Good luck with Chapter 10, and happy fic anniversary!

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

    Banner by Sworn Metalhead of Dćdric Design




  10. #110
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    Thanks for reading! =D
    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner View Post
    Imagine Swift using swift.
    *Snrk* That would be hilarious. I'm almost tempted to do it, except I wanna keep the Gen 1 TMs suitably rare and hard to come by.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner View Post
    Double battles ARE awesome and it's really hitting me now how little thought I've given them. Legit don't think I've ever written one. Now I kind of want an excuse to.
    I know, right? I've having so much fun writing the multi battles in this version now that I actually understand battling strategy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Likewise, I'm glad you found the part about overexplanation helpful... it was definitely that stuck out to me in the story thus far. This chapter didn't have that problem as far as I could see. The part where Jade told Stalker about what happened on the ship and got some information on Team Rocket seemed a lot more natural than most of her other conversations with him have been.
    Yeah, one of the first things I did when I read the previous review was trim a ton of fat from this chapter and it helped so much. Another thing that helped was doing NaNoWriMo. It's no secret that Stalker is the most important character in the fic, so I wrote a LOT of him in November. And it kind of had the side effect of giving me a better idea of handling his rebellion persona as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Anyway, on to Chapter 9. I can tell that it originally used to be a part of the previous one; while Chapter 8 ended in a decent place, this one feels a little short and uneventful. Not much you can do about it, perhaps, unless you wanted to move some of the less time-bound stuff (e.g. Firestorm talking about his trainer) elsewhere so it returned to being short enough that you could stick it back on the end of 8.
    Yeahh, that's probably my biggest regret about Revision 11 so far. I just could not figure out how to cut down a 13k word chapter (I deleted so much transitional fluff! Just not enough.)

    I did briefly consider having Chapter 8 end after Stalker and Jade's conversation in his office, but that was still 9500 words, plus it resulted in the next two chapters having awkward time skips mid-chapter. At least this way, all the large time skips are between-chapters.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    I was surprised how much better at battling Swift was than Jade. I thought he was a housepet? idk if Swift is supposed to have a mysterious past.
    Swift is a lot more observant than Jade and loves to learn. Also, he watched a lot of battling on TV. :P
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Someone doesn't have any family? (Or doesn't want anyone else to know who his family is?)
    I didn't consider that when I wrote this scene. But now that I've written his three (good god) backstories for NaNoWriMo...it makes a bit more sense than I realized.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    I like the idea that different regions have different preferred battling styles. I also have to wonder how similar Stalker's training is to whatever Team Rocket does with their recruits--they must also have to learn to work in a team and with several pokémon at once. Assuming they have some kind of QC for grunts and don't just go, "Welcome to the team, great to meet you, now go steal a thing."
    It's quite similar! That actually comes up in the next two chapters. The QC for grunts got severely glossed over in the previous thread and it's one of the things I'm looking forward to most now.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    I have to admit that I find "The Rebellion" to be kind of a lame/generic sort of name, but it makes sense for a bunch of kids to come up with, perhaps.
    Haha, yeah, I went back and forth so many times on whether or not I should change it in this revision. Any more specific names I came up with were too revealing (actually, iirc, 'Team Midnight' was a reference to a fic I liked at the time. Though it should be obvious why a name like that would be too revealing in this context.)

    That does mean I probably should have nixed the naming the team scene though. It probably makes it seem like it's leading up to a cool name. Another case of things from revision 6 sneaking their way in through nostalgia. :P
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    All in all not too much to say about this chapter. The meat of it was the two battles, with a bunch of wrapping up plot threads in between. I imagine this is the end of the "opening arc" of the story, and we'll be moving full force into the next stage (with actual infiltration of Team Rocket) beginning in Chapter 10. Should be fun!

    It was great to see you get this chapter out so quickly. Good luck with Chapter 10, and happy fic anniversary!
    Indeed! Chapter 10 starts up a three-part arc culminating in the first Legendary mission! And since the whole arc is already scripted, I think I'll be able to stick to the optimistic release schedule I had planned for them. So thanks for the review and the well-wishes!


    And I ended up being way too busy last week to do anything for the fic anniversary but OH WELL. Fourteen years ago I wrote a plotless drabble about getting a Pokemon that evolved into a convoluted mess about fake Legendaries and then somehow into what we see today. And now that I've plotted out all 80 chapters and fully scripted about half of them, there's no chance I'm stopping now.

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  11. #111
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    Oh my God it’s finally done. This chapter took forever (okay, by hiatus standards it was positively quick, but I’ve actually been writing every day!)

    And yeah, it ended up being way longer than I wanted, but the next two chapters should be much shorter. I’m done with all of the setup and can really dig into the meat of the story.


    ~ Chapter 10: Welcome to Team Rocket~


    My footsteps pounded against the dirt as I ran, ducking and weaving around trees. The beating of wings and the thud of claws on the ground followed not far behind. I had to be nearing the end of the forest—it felt like I’d been running forever. A quick glance at my watch showed that it’d been twenty minutes since we started. Alright, not too bad. I was making good time. Just had to keep going.

    A rustle in the bushes to the left caught my attention and I froze. Swift noticed it too, and launched into a series of powerful flaps to stir up a Whirlwind in that area. The force of the winds was a lot stronger than I was used to—I had to plant my feet firmly on the ground not to lose my balance. Still…nothing flew out. But I didn’t let my guard down. There was something nearby—I could feel it.

    The crunching of leaves behind me. That was no mistake.

    “Everyone dodge now!” I called out, jumping aside as a group of Pokémon leaped out at us from behind. I whirled around in an instant to size up our attackers. Nidorino, Spearow, Wartortle—alright, our opponent definitely had to be Rudy.

    “Swift, use Sand Attack on Wartortle. Firestorm, Scary Face!”

    “Water Gun, Fury Attack, Peck!” Rudy yelled, jumping out from his hiding place.

    Firestorm stood his ground and flashed a horrifyingly wicked snarl at Nidorino. Spikes quivering with fear, the poison-type’s movement slowed, letting Firestorm easily jump out of the way. Swift then swooped low over the ground to kick up a rush of sand at Wartortle before he could do anything. The turtle stumbled backward, rubbing his eyes. Spearow rushed in and jabbed Firestorm in the back with her beak while he was busy avoiding repeated blows from Nidorino’s spikes. The flame-tailed lizard whirled around to scratch with his heavy claws, but was caught in the leg by the Fury Attack. Swift beat his wings forcefully to send a Gust attack flying forward, throwing Spearow’s flight off-balance and letting Firestorm focus on avoiding the—

    I almost didn’t notice it. The soft padding of paws on the ground behind me. I lunged to the side just before Ebony went hurtling past me. The black firedog landed nimbly on the ground near the ongoing battle, looking rather disappointed that she’d missed. Judging by the mischievous grin on her face, she wasn’t planning on giving up so easily, though, and I had to duck behind the nearest tree to avoid another lunge from the Houndour. Meanwhile, Wartortle had just washed the sand from his eyes and proceeded to tackle Firestorm to the ground, pinning the Charmeleon under his shell.

    Rudy grinned confidently. “Water Pulse!”

    “Er—use Ember!” I blurted out, trying to keep a good view of the battle.

    Firestorm was faster. As Wartortle was inhaling, the fire lizard spat a flurry of red-hot flares right into his face, causing him to recoil backward instantly, coughing and sputtering in pain; the turtle’s feathered ears were actually smoldering a bit.

    The sound of excited panting turned my attention back to Ebony, who was still in hot pursuit. But then out of nowhere, Swift shot forward like a bullet and struck her with a Quick Attack. The Houndour was completely bowled over from being struck by a bird so much larger than her.

    “Alright, that’s one hit on each of ‘em, time to run!” I called out.

    Firestorm immediately jumped out of the battle area and rushed over to my side. Swift banked hard and soared back towards us, his crimson head feathers trailing in the wind. I spun around and dashed off with them. Rudy’s Pokémon weren’t far behind.

    “Use Pursuit!” he ordered.

    Crap, I should have been ready for that. Had to avoid it somehow.

    “Use Smokescreen!” I called out.

    Firestorm spun around and quickly spewed out a thick cloud of black smoke behind us, completely obscuring Rudy’s Pokémon. Alright, that would probably do the trick.

    Nope. A red-winged bird shot clean through the smoke and struck Firestorm just as he had turned tail to run again. Swift pulled back to go for another attack, but Spearow had already vanished after getting her last hit in. Firestorm growled in frustration.

    Great. Rudy was the second trainer in the lineup who had managed to land a hit while we were escaping. The whole point of this exercise was to not get hit.

    “*Evasive tactics like Smokescreen won’t work on Spearow—she has Keen Eye just like I do,*” Swift pointed out.

    “Right. I forgot.” Keen Eye. A lot of birds could see right through stuff like Smokescreen and Sand Attack. “But then how are we supposed to avoid Pursuit from them?”

    Swift didn’t answer. He seemed to be in deep thought over the question. Either way, it was best if I didn’t focus on it right now. We still had to finish the exercise, and there were two more trainers to fight in this forest. At least Firestorm and Swift were still in decent shape after that battle. Good thing too, cause I didn't have many healing supplies left. Just two Super Potions and a handful of berries.

    Salty sweaty stung eyes my eyes as we ran, and I brushed it out for what felt like the hundredth time. The burning hot August sun beat down us from above, and even the shade from the trees couldn’t keep out its oppressive heat. After about three minutes, I started scanning the trees for signs of our next opponent. They had to be around here somewhere, and I didn’t want to be caught off guard.

    Twin blurs of orange shot out of nowhere! Swift barreled upward at the last second to avoid the first, but the second one landed a glancing blow on Firestorm, who spat out a flurry of embers reflexively. The attacker slowed to a halt after being scorched by the flares, and only then could I see the sleek, two-tailed otter now blocking our path.

    Rustling all around us. I spun around in all directions, hoping to get an idea of what Pokémon we were facing. The shaggy-furred rat that had jumped out at us initially was still bouncing around, trying to land a hit on Swift. Swift kept a safe distance from it, dodging each of its tackles one after the other. But then a large, brown owl Pokémon shot out of the trees straight for him, forcing the Pidgeotto to make an awkward dive straight down, only narrowly missing the ground.

    “Use Quick Attack when you get the opportunity! Firestorm, back him up with Ember!”

    Firestorm had just opened his mouth when he was suddenly tackled into the ground out of nowhere by the leaf-necked dinosaur that had been hiding in the bush right next to him.

    Buizel, Raticate, Noctowl, and Bayleef… Liam? Pretty sure our opponent had to be Liam. He was the only rebel with a Johto starter.

    Sure enough, a tall, pale boy with spiky black hair stepped out from behind a tree, pointed at us, and ordered, “Noctowl, use Hypnosis!”

    “Firestorm, use Smokescreen!” I yelled back.

    The Charmeleon immediately filled the clearing with a thick black haze. Alright, hopefully that would give us a better chance at dodging their moves. I could make out a large flapping shape hovering over the battlefield—probably Noctowl, judging by the tall, pointed feather crest on its head. It whirled around to face its opponents one after the other, but couldn’t seem to lock eyes with any of them in order to pull off a Hypnosis. Good, one less thing to worry about.

    “Not bad with that Smokescreen,” Liam said. “Guess we’ll have to kick it up a notch. Bayleef, Razor Leaf; Buizel, Aqua Jet; Raticate, Quick Attack!”

    Swift made a last second lunge to avoid the Buizel surging toward him in a torrent of water, but wasn’t fast enough to dodge the Quick Attack from Raticate. Firestorm rushed forward to help repel his attackers but then was caught in a flurry of razor sharp leaves, slicing him all over. The fire lizard growled and slashed wildly at the leaves before breathing out a burst of embers, burning up most of them.

    “Come on, use Ember on Bayleef!” I called out.

    Firestorm whirled around, sending a spurt of scattered flares in the direction he’d been attacked from, but Bayleef wasn’t there any more—it had retreated back into the shrubbery.

    “Good job, Bayleef. Raticate, Buizel, don’t let the Pidgeotto get an opening. Noctowl, use Confusion,” Liam said calmly.

    “Swift, use Gust behind you! Firestorm, aim your Ember upward!” I yelled, desperately hoping it would work. The fight was taking way too much time, and we’d be screwed if we didn’t finish it quickly.

    Swift flipped backwards in an instant and flapped his wings to send a spiraling vortex of air straight at his pursuers. They were so close on his tail that they didn’t even have a chance to avoid it—Buizel and Raticate were both swept up by the Gust and thrown into the nearest tree, and the rush of wind thinned the smoky haze somewhat. Firestorm craned his neck upward and shot another Ember straight up into the air, scoring a direct hit on Noctowl, who was right in the middle of charging up a wave of psychic energy. And then, without me saying anything, Swift dove straight into a Quick Attack, aimed at one of the bushes nearest Firestorm. Bayleef looked up in alarm, shocked that it had been spotted through its camouflage, right before the tawny bird struck it headlong and threw it to the ground.

    “That’s all of them! Time to run!” I called out, my heart pounding with excitement. In an instant, the tables had been turned in our favor. Firestorm spun around and didn’t waste a second running after me, and Swift didn’t take long to regain his flight speed and catch up to us.

    Liam grinned. “Bayleef, Magical Leaf; Raticate, Pursuit.”

    Crap. Not Pursuit again. No matter how many times I’d tried running from it, fleeing only made Pursuit stronger. What were we supposed to do? Running away wasn’t an option. That only left…standing our ground?

    I locked eyes with Swift, and it was obvious we were thinking the same thing. The Pidgeotto banked hard in order to land facing our opponent, wings outstretched. He stood there, tensed as the orange-furred rat shot forward, cloaked in dark energy. And then at the last second, he leaped aside and smacked Raticate with his wings, sending the rat face-planting straight into the ground.

    I pumped a fist into the air. “All right! Now dodge the—”

    Too late. A whirling storm of multicolored leaves zeroed in on Firestorm despite his best efforts to avoid them. The fire lizard sank to his knees, flailing his arms around trying to knock the leaves away, but they didn’t want to stop. Moving as quickly as I could, I dashed over and grabbed him roughly by the claw, trying to ignore the tiny cuts now covering my arms from the leaves.

    “Come on!” I exclaimed, pulling him to his feet and attempting to run with him in tow. And with Swift flying alongside us, we finally managed to flee the battle area without getting hit by anything else.

    It wasn’t until we were a good distance away that we paused to catch our breath. I leaned against a tree before sinking to the ground, feeling dazed.

    “Well so much for our escape,” I said, still breathing hard. “Come on, let me spray you both with the potions.”

    Swift fluttered over and I pulled the first Super Potion from my bag and sprayed it all over him. He shook his head and ruffled his feathers, looking relieved. Firestorm was still standing a ways away, staring at the ground.

    “Your turn,” I said, and the fire lizard finally wandered over to let me spray him as well. He’d sustained a lot more injuries from the battle, but at least it looked like they’d all be healed by the potion.

    “*That was stupid. Can’t believe I got hit so much,*” Firestorm muttered while the slices on his crimson scales closed up. “*And how did a grass-type’s moves cause this much damage?*”

    “Ever think it might’ve been ‘cause we were caught off guard?” I asked, giving him a hard look.

    The Charmeleon snorted but didn’t say anything.

    I sighed. “In any case, that last part was my fault. I think Magical Leaf is a sure-shot move. They’d have followed you even if you dodged in time.”

    I quickly guzzled some water from a bottle before replacing it in my bag with the empty potions. Time to run again. We set off along the marked path towards what would hopefully be the last battle. Within a few minutes I finally started to recognize the scenery. We were near the stadium—we had to be. That meant we’d almost reached the end of the course! But that also meant there was probably another fight coming soon.

    Sure enough, in a clearing up ahead, I spotted my opponent.

    Oh man—it was Ray. Figures he’d be one of the enemies—he almost always got assigned to that role. He wasn’t even hiding or anything. He was just standing there out in the open wearing the same frustratingly calm expression he always wore before completely destroying you.

    My heart was pounding. “Swift, use Gust; Firestorm, go for a Scratch!”

    His Charmeleon and Luxio lunged forward the instant we were within range. Swift flew into position and stirred up a blast of wind at the opposing fire lizard. But then he wasn’t able to dodge the electrifying tackle from Luxio seconds later. The Pidgeotto cried out in pain as sparks coursed through his feathers. Meanwhile Firestorm and the other Charmeleon had collided with each other, growling and slashing at each other in a ball of claws and flames and crimson scales.

    “Scary Face,” Ray ordered. His Charmeleon responded by flashing a terrifying grimace at Firestorm; the latter recoiled backwards, his movements growing sluggish.

    “Firestorm use your own Scary Face; Swift, get out of range and use Sand Attack on Luxio!” I called out, mentally smacking myself for not thinking of it sooner.

    And then for whatever reason, it hit me. He was only using two Pokémon. Crap…that could only mean—

    No sooner had the thought entered my head than a huge violet snake burst out of the trees above Swift, unfurling its hood and flashing the bright face pattern at him. The Pidgeotto dropped to the ground at once, frozen in shock. And then a crazed ball of tan fur and gangly limbs jumped into the fire lizard brawl, landing repeated blows on Firestorm.

    What, seriously, Mai too? It wasn’t bad enough we had to fight Ray at the end here, but now Mai too? There was no way we’d be able to get past both of them! I mean…yeah, we were still fighting a total of four Pokémon, but…seriously Ray and Mai?

    At least this exercise was in the woods so she couldn’t use her Gyarados.

    Anyways…I had to focus. Swift’s best trait was his speed so I desperately needed to cure his paralysis. I just hoped that Firestorm could handle being the only target for a few seconds. I whipped out Swift’s Pokéball and recalled him before immediately re-releasing him next to me and giving him a cheri berry. He gulped it down and then bolted back into the fray, already whipping up a Gust around the other combatants. The swirling winds pulled them apart from each other, allowing Firestorm to wrench himself free from the melee, looking bruised and bloodied. He lashed back as his opponents with his tail, striking both of them with the flame. Ray’s Charmeleon was barely fazed, though the Mankey’s fur was singed.

    “Poison Sting,” Mai said coolly. And then I caught sight of Mai’s Arbok slithering up the tree nearest Swift while he was focused on the others.

    “Swift, look out!” I yelled.

    He whirled around in an instant, but it was too late. The snake opened its jaws and fired a wave of poisonous needles at him. The Pidgeotto recoiled backward, flapping his wings frantically to get out of the line of fire while also staying out of Luxio’s range. The thunder cat made another lunge at Swift, electricity coursing through its pointed black mane. But it couldn’t manage the height needed to land a blow.

    “Swift, Quick Attack; Firestorm, Ember!” I called out.

    “Dragon Rage.” Ray’s voice was confident, but intrigued, like he almost wanted to see if we’d make it through the fight.

    “Karate Chop.” Mai just looked like she just wanted the fight to be over as soon as possible.

    Meanwhile, Firestorm had to duck and weave in an attempt to dodge blows from Mankey, who wasn’t giving him a moment to breathe. The fire lizard’s movements were still slow and forced from earlier in the battle, and his injuries certainly weren’t helping. Swift barreled to the left to dodge the spurt of blue flames from Ray’s Charmeleon, but then finally got the opening he needed to shoot forward and strike Luxio right after it landed from a failed pounce. The blue-furred cat was sent reeling backwards from the blow.

    And then Arbok made the mistake of closing in on the melee just as Firestorm spun in a circle spouting embers all around just to keep his attackers at bay. A few flares managed to hit the violet snake.

    That was it—we’d landed at least one attack on all four of them! I couldn’t believe it. Swift and Firestorm realized it as soon as I did, because I didn’t even need to say anything before they both took off from the battle as fast as possible. Firestorm was still struggling to keep going. But before I could say anything, Swift whipped up a huge whirlwind behind us, knocking back our opponents and preventing them from giving chase. I still kept expecting a hail of sure-shot moves to follow us even as we ran.

    And yet…nothing? I glanced over my shoulder, unable to believe it, but they really weren’t following us. Maybe they didn’t have any sure-shot moves? Or maybe the Whirlwind had worked better than I expected?

    Well, the fight was miserable, but at least it was over quickly. I could see sunlight piercing the edge of the treeline ahead of us. We stumbled out of the forest weakly, and a rush of joy swept over me now that training was over. Except it wasn’t over. Stalker was waiting next to the stadium, his cold blue eyes focused on us, and a look of calm expectation on his face. I had no idea how he was still wearing that long overcoat in this kind of heat.

    “How many battles did you get hit while escaping?” he asked.

    I took a deep breath. “Three. But that’s only because everyone was using Pursuit. And I figured out how to deal with that! But I still don’t know what to do about sure-shot moves. I mean…they’re impossible to dodge, right?”

    He didn’t answer. He just motioned for us to step forward.

    I swallowed hard. It wasn’t going to be a real battle. I knew that much by now. He could wipe the floor with the entire Rebellion at once, so a real battle would have been pointless. Even the idea of a mock battle was intimidating. But we still had to do it.

    I pulled a handful of bright blue oran berries from my bag and fed them to both of my Pokémon. Firestorm in particular gulped them down ravenously, and his wounds slowly scabbed over.

    “Are you ready?” Stalker asked.

    I clenched my teeth and nodded.

    I didn’t even see him throw the ball. There was just a sudden white flash, and then a tall, bright green reptile was bounding toward us. Firestorm rushed forward to meet it, brandishing his claws and slashing wildly. But Sceptile leaped straight over the fire lizard with a midair somersault before landing behind him and spinning in place, smacking his face into the dirt with its leafy tail. It glanced up suddenly to see the tawny-feathered blur closing in on it from above, but then dropped to the ground to dodge the blow before jumping up and striking with the pointed leaves on its arms.

    Stalker shook his head. “Come on. Will a direct attack really work in this situation?”

    No…no of course it wouldn’t. Why had I let them?

    Sceptile landed nimbly from its attack and made a “bring it on” motion with its claws.

    “Firestorm, use Scary Face; Swift, Sand Attack!” I really wished we had better disruption moves, but that was pretty much it right now. And even with its movements slowed and sand in its face, Sceptile was still impossibly agile and precise. Firestorm rushed in, mirroring the forest reptile’s leaps and bounds as best as he could. The grass-type grinned wildly and increased its speed slowly, seeing if the Charmeleon could keep up. Firestorm was panting hard but refused to let the opposing reptile get away from him.

    “Good, now use a Metal Claw, I know you’ve been working on it!” Stalker called out.

    Firestorm clenched his teeth and drew his arms back, claws glowing. He lashed out wildly, Sceptile blocking each blow with its leaf blades. It didn’t seem different than any ordinary attack, though.

    The fire lizard growled in frustration. “*It’s hard to concentrate.*”

    “Of course it is!” Stalker shot back. “You’re changing the composition of your claws—it’s going to be hard!”

    The Charmeleon let out a snarl and pressed the attack harder. The sounds of frenzied slashing and repeated leaf blocking filled the air. Swift circled the battle overhead, waiting to see what the outcome would be.

    And then the light faded from his claws to reveal a silvery sheen, and the strike against Sceptile’s block reverberated with a metallic clang. Firestorm froze in shock, staring at his claws with wide eyes.

    “You did it!” I yelled, unable to keep the excitement from my voice.

    Stalker nodded approvingly. “Good. Now it’s your turn,” he said glancing up at Swift. Sceptile suddenly jumped back from Firestorm and launched a flurry of leaves into the air, forcing the Pidgeotto to drop down to ground level to avoid them. With a powerful flapping of his wings, the tawny bird sent a vortex of air rushing at his opponent. The forest reptile crouched low to weather the attack.

    “Put more power and rage into that Gust!” Stalker called out. So he was hoping Swift would be able to pull off that move finally?

    The Pidgeotto closed his eyes in concentration, wisps of energy trailing through the wind from his wings. But it faded before it could reach the swirling column of air.

    “Get closer to your opponent,” Stalker instructed. “Use the adrenaline to your advantage.”

    Swift put on a burst of speed before making a tight circle around Sceptile, who made occasional swipes at the bird. Energy streamed off his wings once more, but with a final burst of flapping, the Pidgeotto was able to force it into the gust. The winds suddenly intensified into a cyclone of white energy tearing at Sceptile, who leaped out of its center and landed some distance away before flashing a thumbs-up at Swift.

    “Not bad, I wasn’t expecting you to pull off a Twister for another week at least,” Stalker said, holding a hand up to show that the exercise was over.

    Firestorm sank to his knees, still panting hard but with a look of crazed triumph on his face. Swift landed next to him with a reserved, yet clearly self-satisfied expression.

    “Oh man, I’m so proud of you guys,” I said, jogging over to them. It was hard to believe, but we were actually making progress.

    Stalker walked over with what looked like a pleased expression, but as always it was hard to tell. “You’re improving. Keep practicing the things you know you need work on.” He paused, then continued, “Oh, and you shouldn’t even be trying to dodge sure-shot moves. Just brace yourself for it. They’re weak—enduring the hit puts you in a perfect spot for a counterattack.”

    I nodded before recalling both of my exhausted Pokémon.

    It was then that I noticed the rest of the trainers that had already finished the exercise, all standing off to the side near the entrance to Midnight Stadium. I had been so single-mindedly focused on training with Stalker that I’d completely overlooked them. It seemed like they had been watching my battle, but now that it was over, most of them had turned away and started chatting amongst themselves.

    “There’s only one more person running the course after you, right?” Stalker asked.

    I thought back to when the group of us had started the run on the other side of the forest. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I was second-to-last.”

    We didn’t have to wait long. Within a few minutes, the final trainer in the lineup stumbled out of the forest—a small, skinny boy with scruffy blond hair, large green eyes, and currently wearing the most frustrated and incredulous expression. Alongside him, a Meowth dragged its paws and a Zubat struggled to stay aloft. Even his Voltorb didn’t look like it could roll anymore.

    After a few seconds he just sort of dropped all pretenses of finishing the training and sank to the ground. His Pokémon looked more than happy to stop.

    Stalker folded his arms. “You don’t look very ready to fight me, Reed.”

    Reed stared up at him in disbelief. “Why did we have to fight Ray and Mai at the same time? Everyone knows they’re the best.”

    “You just answered your own question.” That got a few laughs from the crowd.

    A girl with long, braided hair walked over to help pull him to his feet. “Maybe if you trained more often this wouldn’t happen,” she said, snickering a bit.

    “I train plenty,” Reed snapped. “I’m just not crazy enough to do double time like you, Kris.”

    “Well, since you’re in no shape to fight now, we’ll postpone our battle,” Stalker commented. “Next time there’s a training session, you’re getting special attention.”

    Reed groaned but didn’t say anything.

    Stalker turned to face the rest of us. “By the way, this was the last exercise limiting the Rocket players to double your team number. Next time they can use their full team—even if they’re tag-teaming you. Be ready for it.”

    Figures that would happen eventually. I really had to think about getting another Pokémon. Maybe Rudy could buy me some Pokéballs at some point.

    Stalker turned to walk away from the gathering. “Have a rest, everyone. I’ll be giving an important announcement in the battlefield in one hour.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    After a shower on my part and a quick trip to the Pokémon Center for my team, we were back in the stadium and eagerly awaiting the announcement.

    Even though he hadn’t explicitly said it, everyone was pretty sure it was gonna be a mission announcement. I mean…what else could it be? We’d been here for nearly a month, and the days of generalized battling lectures were mostly over and replaced by one-on-one training sessions like today. And I’d actually improved. That fact alone was mind-boggling. I mean…yeah, that was one of the reasons I’d even joined the rebellion, but the idea of it actually happening was still weird and foreign.

    “Hey Jade!” Rudy shouted, running over to me. “That was an awesome fight earlier! Ha, I bet you thought you were gonna escape from me without getting hit.”

    I snorted. “Yeah, well, at least it went better than our previous battle. Besides, I figured out how to deal with Pursuit, so there.”

    “Aw, you did? Lame,” he said, frowning. “Guess I’ll have to try harder next time. But anyways…what are the odds we’re getting our first mission now? I’m thinking at least 150 percent.”

    I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think it’s that high—more like only 110 percent.”

    “You’re on!”

    I stared. “How…how do we even tell who wins that bet?”

    Rudy was spared the details of trying to figure it out when Stalker walked into the battlefield and waved an arm to get everyone’s attention. The entire crowd instantly stopped what it was doing and turned to face him. I was pretty sure he’d never be able to enter the room without it being a big dramatic deal to this team.

    “So, today’s the day you finally get your first mission.”

    The reaction was immediate. The entire group let out a cheer, most of them throwing a fist or two into the air, and it wasn’t hard to see why. We’d finally be getting the chance to put everything we’d learned to use.

    “I’ll be formalizing your mission groups now,” Stalker continued. “Rockets are generally assigned one or more partners for carrying out small-scale activity, and we’ll be doing the same. I’ve settled on groups of three, so there are sixteen mission groups. Twelve groups will be assigned to sabotaging the Rockets’ upcoming mission. The remaining four are going to be stealing some of their resources for us to use against them. Either way, you’ll all be infiltrating the ranks and putting on the appearance of a genuine Rocket. So this will test everything you’ve learned from me over the past month.”

    I clenched my fists. If this was a test, then I felt ready. As unbelievable as it was, I actually felt ready to show that we could make a difference in this fight.

    “When I call your name, come up and get your ID and a Rocket Communicator. Group 1—Ray, Mai, and Sasha.”

    No surprise the two best trainers on the team would be in the same group. Sasha was a bit unexpected though. I’d seen her hanging out with the other two occasionally, but her Pokémon choices were…a bit weird. I mean, no one else had a Farfetch’d.

    “In my absence, the members of group 1 are in charge,” Stalker said. “I want everyone to report to them during multi group missions like this one.” He then proceeded to call out group members as the rest of us waited with bated breath for our names to be called.

    “Think we’ll be in the same group?” Rudy asked after a few groups had gone up.

    “It seems like he’s grouping people together based on their usual training partners, so yeah, I’m guessing we will,” I said.

    We didn’t have to wait long to find out. After a few minutes, Stalker’s voice rang out saying, “Group 12—Rudy, Jade, and Darren.”

    I barely had time to react to the high five that Rudy threw my way. We wasted no time in walking forward through the crowd to claim our IDs, Darren joining us along the way. Upon receiving it, Rudy stared at his ID like it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. And then it hit me—here I was training Pokémon without an ID, and I had just received a Team Rocket ID first. It was ridiculous. But somehow kind of cool at the same time.

    As for the R-Com…I had already seen them before, on the Rocket plane and the S.S. Anne. Still, it would be interesting to actually own one. I pressed the only button on the front, waking the device up and causing it to display the message: “To begin, scan user RID card.”

    I tapped my ID to the port on the top of the device and it immediately brought up a digital record of my information: “Name: Allie Farias; Born: 6 September 2983; Registered: 11 July 2998; Rank: Trainee.” Flipping through the various apps, it looked a lot like a PokéGear from what I could tell, aside from the fact that the texting and calling was limited to other R-Com devices.

    “And lastly, Group 16—Reed, Wes, and Kris,” Stalker called out, snapping my attention back to what was going on. The last three trainers walked forward, Reed and Kris shoving each other lightly along the way and Wes looking like he desperately didn’t want to be involved in any of it.

    “Take this moment to add your mission partners to the contact list on your R-Com,” Stalker announced once they were done. “For security reasons, don’t add everyone on the rebellion. Group 1 will be in charge of keeping contact between everyone on multi-group missions.”

    That was easy enough. The contact number was just our agent ID. I punched in the numbers and the device showed that I had successfully registered “Toni” and “Andy” as their Rocket names were called.

    “Which Rocket base are we going to?” one of the rebels nearest Stalker asked.

    “Groups 1, 5, 12, and 16 will be going to Cerulean,” he replied. “Groups 2, 6, 9, and 13 to Viridian. Groups 3, 7, 10, and 14 to Saffron. And groups 4, 8, 11, and 15 will be going to Celadon—those are the ones that will be recovering supplies and Pokémon for us. With so many groups going, that does mean you won’t all be able to leave today. We’ll space it out over the next few days so you don’t all show up at the bases at once.”

    He had warned us previously that we’d never all be going to the base at the same time. Obviously, it’d be completely suspicious if we did. But it was still kind of frustrating—I was almost certain out of the Cerulean groups it’d be Ray’s group going first, so ours would have to wait a few days. Rudy didn’t seem to have pieced that together quite yet, otherwise he would have looked way more disappointed.

    But then…there was one important detail Stalker hadn’t exactly revealed yet. I glanced around at the crowd, and it was obvious from their wide-eyes stares that everyone was in suspense over the same thing. Finally, one kid spoke the words everyone was thinking: “What mission are we going to stop?”

    The edge of Stalker’s mouth curled into a faint grin. “Within the next two weeks, Team Rocket will attempt to capture a Legendary Pokémon. Your job is to find out which one, and do whatever it takes to stop them.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Team Rocket’s Northern HQ was a rather unassuming office building on the outskirts of downtown Cerulean. Stalker’s Charizard and Dragonite dropped us off in a nearby park and then we walked the remaining couple of city blocks to the base. It had been a while since my last time walking through such busy streets, and I found my attention constantly grabbed by all the sights and sounds of the city, after spending a month in a quiet island town. It felt even weirder to be here since we’d gotten dressed in our Rocket uniforms ahead of time, though at least we had vests to hide the signature logo on the shirt.

    “I wasn’t expecting it to be so out in the open,” Darren said, tilting his head as the building came into view.

    “Stalker did say that Team Rocket’s not exactly a secret, just the Legendary-catching regional takeover stuff is,” I said, shrugging.

    “I wasn’t expecting it to look so boring,” Rudy added once we’d gotten a closer look at the headquarters. “Kinda wish we’d been sent to Celadon. I heard that base is in a casino—how cool is that?”

    I wasn’t even going to bother a comment, but Darren countered with, “If we’d gone to Celadon, we wouldn’t be involved in the Legendary mission.”

    Rudy’s face fell immediately. “Alright, forget I said anything! Let’s just go in.”

    The front lobby was a stark contrast to the outside of the building, with shiny black stone tile floors and sleek, red-papered walls covered in gaudy decorations. Something glinted in my peripheral vision and had to stop myself from jumping upon seeing the life-size Persian statue perched on a pedestal next to the entrance.

    Alright, I couldn’t stare too much—any ordinary Rocket who’d gotten registered in Cerulean would have been here before. Though at least it would be expected that I hadn’t seen much more than the lobby and an office or two.

    Straight ahead of us stood a glossy marble front desk with a lone receptionist seated at it. She hadn’t looked up when we entered, and still had her face glued to the book she was reading. I wandered forward vaguely, unsure if she had noticed us enter or not.

    “Hi, uh…we’re new recruits and we’ve been assigned training at Northern HQ,” I said awkwardly.

    The receptionist looked up at us slowly, and it was obvious that she’d known we were there but was just waiting for us to say something. In a flash, she shut the book and assumed a more professional posture.

    “Do you have your IDs already?” she asked.

    I nodded, and we each handed them over for her to inspect. She inspected them closely and ran them through her scanner before handing them back.

    “Alright, I’ll call a recruitment officer up and they’ll give you the tour. You can wait over there in the meantime,” she said, gesturing to the couches along the side of the wall.

    Well, that was easy. Not that we’d been assuming it would be hard or anything. The three of us wandered over to plop down onto the couches, which were unbelievably squishy and made of leather.

    “We’re in a Rocket base right now,” Rudy said quietly, like he was still having a hard time believing it.

    “Don’t say anything you’ll regret,” Darren warned him with the slightest bit of a taunting edge to his voice.

    Rudy shrugged. “Wasn’t gonna. It’s still weird and cool though.” I almost laughed at how quickly he’d changed opinions of the base. Still…I had to admit that being inside one was a lot more surreal than just seeing it from the street. We were actually here, inside a Rocket base, and it was perfectly okay. I still half-expected someone to appear out of nowhere and chase us out.

    After several minutes, the elevator on the far side of the lobby dinged, and out walked a man in his mid-thirties wearing a black Team Rocket uniform with white boots. He had rather frazzled brown hair and the worn face of someone with too much on his plate. The officer guzzled the remainder of a coffee before tossing out the cup and walking over to us, tablet in hand. He paused in mild surprise upon seeing how young we were, but didn’t seem too taken aback by it. Rockets our age were probably a bit unusual, but nothing unheard of.

    “My name’s Warren, I’m a recruitment officer for Celadon HQ, heard you were just assigned here?” It was all said a lot more quickly than I was expecting.

    “Yeah, we’ve already been registered,” I replied as we held out our IDs for the second time.

    “Right, that’ll make my job easier,” he said, tapping the IDs to a card scanner on his tablet. “Let me just pull up your files.” He swiped through a few pages on the screen, reading the stats out loud to himself

    “Toni, Allie, and Andy...looks like you all applied for membership a month ago, got your executive approval all in order, background check good…” He nodded approvingly. “Alright, welcome to the team. It’s my job to give the new recruits the rundown on how things work around here, so I’ll be showing you around and explaining things as we go. You’re already been issued an R-Com, right?”

    I held mine up to answer his question.

    “Alright, good. It looks like all three of you already have Pokémon, so we won’t need to loan you any. And before you ask, grunts are not issued firearms. Members who reach officer rank on the combat unit can apply to receive one, but it’s no guarantee.”

    He led us to the elevator on the far side of the room and pressed the down button. Once it arrived, he held the door open and motioned for us to enter.

    “The top floors are mostly offices and public relations,” Warren said, pushing one of the elevator buttons. “You’ve never seen any of the floors where the real activity is, have you?”

    “No, not really,” Darren said.

    “Looking forward to it though!” Rudy added.

    Warren chuckled. “It’s good to see enthusiasm in new recruits.”

    The elevator doors opened to reveal a huge lower lobby full of Rockets going about their business—some of them carrying goods of paperwork around, some of them accompanied by Pokémon. Not only that, but I saw a wide variety of uniform types, from the standard black clothes and gray boots, to white boots with red stripes, to white uniforms, to completely unique outfits with rank patches and equipment belts.

    “Typically only grunts in training, or on active duty spend a lot of time at the base,” Warren explained. “But since we have a high-level operation coming up in the near future, you’ll see more members than usual on active duty right now. Mostly combat unit types—we’ve got the second largest combat unit on the force,” he said proudly, motioning for us to step out of the elevator.

    Warren led us through the bustling main room towards one of the hallways, which was significantly less crowded. As we walked, he continued with his explanation on the workings of the team.

    “So, as a member of Team Rocket you’ll be expected to serve the team’s best interests in whatever you do, whether it’s carrying out missions or performing base duties. The team is divided into several divisions all working to further the team in different ways. Of course, the majority of Rockets are assigned to acquisitions—obtaining and selling goods and Pokémon. But the others are equally important. The business division keeps large corporations in check and allows us to fund our projects. The tech division breaks new ground in science and technology, strengthening our forces with new equipment and enhanced Pokémon. And the combat unit enforces our will against those who would betray or threaten us, as well as handles the acquisition of particularly rare and powerful Pokémon.”

    It had a somewhat rehearsed feel, like he’d definitely said all of this many times, but still believed in it.

    “All new recruits go through orientation and training, so I’ll be assigning you an officer to watch you and track your progress,” he continued. “Once initiated, grunts carry out tasks for their officer. All officers report to a senior officer, who reports to an executive. Everything a Rocket does is a reflection of those higher than them. So you see—you work hard not for yourself, but for those who have taught and guided you…and for the overall good of the team. And if you prove your loyalty and dedication, you could even become an officer yourselves…once you’re old enough that is.”

    “Old enough?” Rudy asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “Age limit for officers is 15. For executives, it’s 17—adults only.”

    “Is executive the highest rank?” I found myself asking. I’d already run into at least one executive previously…was she the toughest kind of opponent I’d ever encounter?

    Warren paused. “Not quite…the boss has an inner circle of admins who run things behind the scenes. They plan most of the important missions and delegate authority to the executives in control of the different branches, bases, and units. Oh, and the head of the combat unit normally holds the rank of commander…though the Kanto Force doesn’t have a commander right now. Executives are pretty much the highest ranked agents we’ll ever see, though.”

    More questions were suddenly jumping out at my mind—the few things that Stalker hadn’t told us. “Have you ever seen the boss?”

    “Well…he runs things from the Viridian HQ, so…no. And I’ve heard that he’s always surrounded by the top executives there, so even the Viridian Rockets don’t see much of him. But everyone says he commands the respect and awe of everyone around him.”

    A bold feeling suddenly struck. This was the second time I’d heard mention of the commander, and I had to know. “Why doesn’t the Kanto Force have a commander?”

    Warren jerked slightly, and for just a second his face looked taken aback by the question before regaining himself. “He resigned. Apparently there was some drama involved, so it’s not talked about often. I don’t know the details.” He stared straight ahead as we walked and didn’t say anything more. Rudy flashed me a look that clearly read “what are you doing?” while Darren just gave a cheeky grin and a thumbs up.

    Warren led us to the end of the hallway where a huge pair of double doors stood. He pushed through them, and suddenly we were in the middle of a battlefield, much smaller than Midnight Stadium, but a lot more high-tech. The walls and ceilings were lined with passive energy fields to absorb stray blasts, and the far corner even had virtual training dummies for practicing moves on. Warren glanced around at all the various faces in the room until he found who he was looking for.

    “Hey Karen, I heard you were looking to train up a few subordinates.”

    A young woman with waist-length black hair turned to face him upon hearing his words. She had a piercing expression and small, dark eyes that seemed to bore right through us. Her uniform was of the white clothes with dark boots variety.

    “Did I say that? You’ll have to refresh my memory,” Karen commented dryly.

    Warren raised his hands in a disarming manner. “I’m just here to make good on my offer. Got three new recruits for you.”

    She gave us a dismissive glance before staring at him. “I wasn’t planning on training a bunch of kids.”

    “All the lower-ranked officers currently stationed here are already maxed out on grunts,” he said simply.

    “Send ‘em to another base then.”

    “Their training in Cerulean has executive-level clearance,” he said, giving an innocent shrug with just the slightest bit of a smirk.

    Karen stared incredulously. “Okay, now I know they’re just screwing with us.” She sighed. “Fine, I'll train ‘em. You owe me for this one, though.”

    Warren chuckled a bit and then turned back to us. “This where I leave. Welcome to Team Rocket. May you and your Pokémon prove to be useful assets to our cause.” He gave a slight wave and then walked off. I kind of didn’t want him to leave—he seemed a lot friendlier than our new officer…even though that was probably because it was literally his job to be accommodating.

    “Alright, you three, agent numbers, now.”

    That got our attention in a hurry. I scrambled to pull my ID from my pocket, as she already didn’t seem like the sort of person we’d want to keep waiting. One by one, we announced our agent numbers. Karen whipped out her R-Com and entered them in. She then pocketed the device and gave us a long, hard stare.

    “Listen up, kids. The way this works is I train you, teach you how to succeed, you work hard for the team, and that reflects good on me. Mutually beneficial, right? And then maybe I can finally get that promotion I was promised six months ago only to have it withdrawn at the last second because I ‘didn’t have enough experience leading subordinates.’”

    I gave Rudy and Darren sideways glances. I…wasn’t really sure what that had to do with us.

    Karen sighed and regained her composure. “So why did you join Team Rocket?”

    Easy, I’d had an answer prepared weeks ago. I had run away from home after failing the trainer exam, stolen some Pokémon, and then found myself unable to get by without being able to earn winnings from official League battles, so I had to turn to Team Rocket.

    I opened my mouth to speak and got cut off immediately.

    “Actually I don’t care. You can keep your past to yourself because it doesn’t matter now. You’re a Rocket. All that matters is that you’re serious about serving us now.

    I stood there feeling more awkward by the second. I guess overall it was a good thing she wasn’t interested in prying into our personal matters, but I was still feeling increasingly uneasy about having her as our officer.

    “Pokémon out now!”

    Okay, I was just gonna have to get used to sudden demands out of nowhere. I grabbed my Pokéballs from my pocket and fumbled with the buttons, trying to be quick. Rudy and Darren had theirs open first, and I let out Firestorm and Swift to join their teams. Firestorm took one look around the Rocket battlefield before drawing himself up in a tall posture with a very serious expression.

    Karen paced back and forth in front of our nine Pokémon lineup mumbling to herself.

    “I don’t have time for kids who can’t battle. Lucky for you, it looks like you already know a thing or two about fighting. That’ll make things easier for both of us. Good type coverage going on here too. You’ll be a decent unit…once you’re cleared for actual missions that is. You’ve got a long way to go until then.” She stopped in front of us and paused, looking contemplative. None of us dared say anything unless she addressed us first. Finally she crossed her arms and gave an affirmative nod.

    “Alright, I think I can work with this. Get used to the way things work around here today. Watch and learn. You’re Rockets now. We’ll start your training tomorrow.”





    ~End Chapter 10~
    I hope the rebels’ training was interesting! I tried my hardest to keep the battles quick and lively, and the exact format of the training was something I toyed with many times before finally settling on “try to escape the fight without getting hit.” Obviously they’ve all still got a long way to go before actually fighting any Rockets, but I’m a lot happier with the gradient of improvement in this Revision compared to the last one.

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  12. #112
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    Firestorm spun around and quickly spewed out a thick cloud of black smoke behind us, completely obscuring Rudy’s Pokémon. Alright, that would probably do the trick.

    Nope.
    I like how that possibility was just IMMEDIATELY shut down. Just, NOPE.

    I pumped a fist into the air. “All right! Now dodge the—”

    Too late. A whirling storm of multicolored leaves zeroed in on Firestorm despite his best efforts to avoid them.
    Such is magical leaf, after all.

    I sighed. “In any case, that last part was my fault. I think Magical Leaf is a sure-shot move. They’d have followed you even if you dodged in time.”
    DING DING DING DING DING THAT'S CORRECT. Her prize is... hmm. She could probably do with some neosporin or the like right about now.

    Stalker folded his arms. “You don’t look very ready to fight me, Reed.”

    Reed stared up at him in disbelief. “Why did we have to fight Ray and Mai at the same time? Everyone knows they’re the best.”

    “You just answered your own question.”
    Stalker is gr8.

    “Guess I’ll have to try harder next time. But anyways…what are the odds we’re getting our first mission now? I’m thinking at least 150 percent.”

    I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think it’s that high—more like only 110 percent.”

    “You’re on!”

    I stared. “How…how do we even tell who wins that bet?”
    PFFFF GOOD QUESTION


    I enjoyed the training section, but my favorite part definitely started once they were in the Rocket base. Idk, it's just kind of... amusingly surreal, in a way, to see this guy leading them along, giving them a perfectly casual orientation as if this weren't some massive, horrible organization with multiple atrocities to their name and more on the horizon. And of course he was, of course he would be; as Jade said (or, well. thought), that's his job.

    Certainly makes me wonder how much of that is a put-on and how much is his actual personality.

    Of all the characters for me to latch onto, I wouldn't necessarily have expected it to be him, but there it is, heh.
    On indefinite reviewing hiatus! Gotta work more on my own stuff.
    The Origin of Storms | Communication
    Bad Idea | Starlight

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    Thanks for the comments, Sike!

    I enjoyed the training section, but my favorite part definitely started once they were in the Rocket base. Idk, it's just kind of... amusingly surreal, in a way, to see this guy leading them along, giving them a perfectly casual orientation as if this weren't some massive, horrible organization with multiple atrocities to their name and more on the horizon. And of course he was, of course he would be; as Jade said (or, well. thought), that's his job.

    Certainly makes me wonder how much of that is a put-on and how much is his actual personality.

    Of all the characters for me to latch onto, I wouldn't necessarily have expected it to be him, but there it is, heh.
    Actually...I'm glad you brought that up, because one of the things I've had the most fun with this time around was the minor characters like the side Rockets and background rebels. Mostly since they had no real personality, and didn't even really do anything. And yeah, they're still minor characters in this, but I've been enjoying giving them little bits of character here and there. So I'm totally okay with you latching onto him. :P


    Anywho...chapter 11 is coming along. Slower than I'd hoped, cause I've been sick, so..maybe not by this weekend, but next week for sure. And then after that it's the Legendary mission finally!

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  14. #114
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    Well, another chapter took a month, but all things considered, a month wait isn’t the slowest I’ve ever been. Quite the contrary, it’s downright fast. I had a lot more things to establish in this chapter than I thought, from introducing a ton of side characters, to showing the workings of Team Rocket. Hopefully it’s effective!



    ~ Chapter 11: Undercover~


    “Come on, faster! Your target’s getting away!”

    My legs burned as I willed them to keep going, despite every corner of my brain telling me not to. Firestorm sprinted alongside me, a look of fierce determination on his face—I honestly had no clue where he’d gotten it from. Rudy, Darren, and their starters raced along with us, Wartortle’s cloud tail streaming behind him and Ivysaur taking big bounding leaps to catch up. Meanwhile Karen’s Houndoom was so confident we couldn’t catch it that it was practically running circles around us. Firestorm clenched his teeth in frustration and breathed out a blast of red-hot flares, but none of them came even close to hitting the dark-type.

    Karen smacked a hand to her forehead. “Disable the target first, then go for the knock out, is that really so hard?!”

    I locked eyes with Darren and it was obvious we were both thinking the same thing—he had the best Pokémon out of any of us for disabling.

    “Sleep Powder!” he called out, and Ivysaur leaped forward into position, releasing a cloud of blue powder from the large bud on his back. But the black firedog was much too quick and dodged out of its way easily.

    And then it hit me. I felt like an idiot for not realizing sooner.

    “Firestorm, use Scary Face!”

    The Charmeleon twisted his face into a horrifying grimace, making eye contact with Houndoom and causing the dark-type to recoil in momentary shock, its movements growing sluggish. Ivysaur took that moment to rush in close and let out another burst of Sleep Powder, and this time the firedog got a face full of the stuff. Its eyelids drooped, and it stumbled once before toppling over, sound asleep.

    “Alright, now!” Rudy yelled, and Wartortle’s eyes widened, realizing it was time to make his move. The turtle planted his feet firmly and took a deep breath, spitting out a ring-shaped pulse of water at high speed…which flew clear over the prone form of the sleeping Houndoom.

    “How could you miss a sleeping target?! What the hell is wrong with you?” Karen shouted, fixing him with an intense glare. Wartortle froze with a devastated look on his face before staring at the ground and not saying anything.

    Our officer muttered incoherently to herself while striding over to her Pokémon, pulling out a bottle of blue liquid and spraying the firedog all over. At once, its eyes snapped open and it jumped to its feet with a manic expression, ready to resume the training.

    “You’ve been discovered, make a getaway!” Karen announced with a smirk.

    Oh crap, I hated this part. We immediately spun around and took off running towards the opposite end of the training field. Houndoom would be on us in seconds, we had to put as much distance between it and—

    I almost tripped over myself as a pulsing shock wave of black energy shot past me, no more than two feet to my right! The attack was obviously intended to miss, but the sight of it passing so closely still sent my heart jumping into my throat. We were supposed to get used to being in the line of fire—why did it still catch me off guard every time? I had to act now if we were gonna pull this off—a getaway never meant just escaping in this kind of drill.

    “Firestorm, Smokescreen!” I shouted. Firestorm spun around while running in one fluid motion and spewed out a thick cloud of black smoke behind us, hiding our pursuer from view. We only had a few seconds to act now. Rudy and Darren raced in opposite directions to take a stand on the left and right sides of the smoky area. Firestorm and I stood our ground at the front. Any second now…

    Houndoom burst through the smoke cloud and our Pokémon all acted at once! Firestorm breathed out a shimmering ball of blue dragon fire, Wartortle spat another ring of water through the air, and Ivysaur rushed forward and struck the firedog headlong in a full-body Take Down. The dark-type was sent reeling backward from the force of all three attacks catching it off guard at once, and when the smoke cleared, it was lying on its side, unconscious.

    Karen raised her eyebrows, like she hadn’t expected to be impressed. “Not bad.”

    I hated to admit it, but I was actually learning. And Stalker had probably been counting on that. Her lessons were similar to the things he’d been teaching us, just more…in your face. I didn’t even want to think about what doing her training would have been like without the prior experience from Stalker.

    “I suppose that was passable at the end there, so we’ll call it early…”

    Rudy pumped his fist in the air a little too soon, but I knew by now that she had something else in store for us.

    “…On your training,” she finished. “My unit brought back some new assets from a mission. They’ll need someone to catalog everything, won’t they? Sounds like grunt work to me.”

    “Assets.” That was code for they’d stolen some Pokémon and needed someone to scan and sort the Pokéballs depending on whether they’d be sold or trained and loaned to other Rockets. Not hard, just tedious and time consuming, especially considering it was nearing dinnertime and food was starting to become the only thing I could think about.

    Almost as if she’d read my mind, Karen handed me a tablet and said, “Better get started if you wanna eat anytime soon.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Everything hurt. My legs dragged against the tile floor as I stumbled into the mess hall, Rudy and Darren not far behind. We swiped our IDs one at a time at the front counter, unlocking the fridge and allowing us to grab one of the cheap, pre-packaged lunch boxes available for grunts. I was pretty sure the cost of meals here just went on a tab that would eventually get taken from payments for successful missions…that is, if we were normal Rockets intent on doing any missions. Apparently it was pretty common for new recruits to rack up a sizable debt during their training, and we were told not to worry about it.

    It was just a simple boxed lunch of meat, vegetables, and rice, but after the training we’d just endured, it was like a feast. All three of us wolfed down our meals like they were nothing.

    “So far I think the best part about being a Rocket is the way-too-long hours and always getting yelled at,” Darren said in between bites of food.

    I snorted into my bowl. “No, I think the best part is getting stuck with all the jobs that no one else wants.”

    “Well I don’t know what’s wrong with you two because I hate those parts,” Rudy grumbled.

    I didn’t bother pointing out to him that we were being sarcastic. He didn’t care.

    “It would be kinda nice if we could get through a lesson without someone’s Pokémon getting chewed out,” I said, knowing full well that “someone” in this case almost always meant “Rudy.” “She was really laying it on thick with Wartortle this time. Is he gonna be alright?”

    “You don’t have to worry about him, he’s tough,” Rudy said, waving a hand dismissively. “Well…as tough as a water-type can be anyway.”

    I rolled my eyes. More backhanded ways of saying he’d have preferred having Charmander as a starter. He only had himself to blame for not getting one. And it was more than a little ridiculous that he hadn’t been able to shut up about Ebony getting yelled at yesterday but barely acknowledged the same thing happening to Wartortle today.

    Then again, when our Pokémon weren’t completely exhausted, it was obvious that they were getting stronger. The training was working, no matter how much we didn’t like it.

    At that moment, all three of our communicators beeped with a text message alert. I pulled mine out and read, “Grunt quarters 7 is free. We’ll meet in 15 mins.” It was from Ray.

    “Looks like we’re finally having that meeting.” He’d sent out another text to every rebel earlier that same day telling us to expect it. It was a bit exciting, knowing that everyone on the rebellion was currently in a Rocket base and ready to start gathering information. And at the very least, it was something to focus on other than how much training sucked. The rest of the meal didn’t involve any more complaining.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It was late enough in the evening that we were all done with our tasks for the day, but early enough that most of the other grunts were still at dinner. Perfect time to get all the rebels from all the bases in on one chat.

    We were huddled together in one of the grunt quarters, all twelve of us. Group 1 (Ray, Mai, and Sasha) had obviously been the first ones sent to this base, and Group 5 (Zoe, Alec, and Liam) had gone next. Then it had been me, Rudy, and Darren, and finally Group 16 (Reed, Wes, and Kris) a few days later. Mai stood guard at the door, her dark eyes scanning the hallway outside so no one could walk in on us without warning. Meanwhile, Ray and Sasha worked on getting a group call set up with the rebels at the other bases.

    I was sitting on one of the many double bunks that filled the cramped space, Rudy and Darren alongside me. Across from us sat the members of Group 5. Zoe, a tall, pale girl with short brown hair and amber eyes, had volunteered to take notes, and seemed to be furiously scribbling despite the fact that the meeting hadn’t even started yet. Liam had been trying to coax a conversation out of his teammate Alec, a short, chubby kid with curly red hair who I hadn’t really seen much of until now. Couldn’t really tell if they were a boy or a girl either. They were hunched over a book and every so often flashed a half-hearted smile at Liam, in that reluctant “I really don’t want to talk but don’t know how to say no” kind of way.

    Reed and Kris were both hanging upside down off the top bunk nearest me, excitedly swapping battling tips. Their partner Wes, a short, quiet boy with dark skin and tightly braided hair, was busy brushing his Vulpix’s fur and occasionally shot an incredulous glance at his teammates’ antics.

    “I think we got it,” Sasha announced, holding up her communicator. “We started a three-way video call. My R-Com is linked to the Viridian groups, and Ray’s is linked to Saffron.”

    “Awesome! Can you guys hear us?” Reed called out.

    “Sure can,” one of the Viridian rebels replied, waving to us from the tiny screen.

    “Sweet, I wanna be in the video call,” Kris said, rushing to climb down from the top bunk and nearly falling on Wes in the process.

    “What, not if I get there first!” Reed called after her, immediately falling straight to the floor with a loud thud.

    “Can everyone be quieter?!” Mai hissed, eyeing the outside hallway suspiciously. “We don’t want everyone in the base hearing us, do we?” Zoe snickered a bit at the commotion but then stopped when she saw the look on Mai’s face.

    “So how are things going in Viridian?” Sasha asked the group chat.

    “Really tough,” one of them replied. “I swear everyone here is on the combat unit, and they’re constantly jumping in to make our training tougher—like our officer wasn’t doing a good enough job of that already.”

    “What, really, you guys get to battle?” one of the rebels in Saffron asked. “We haven’t gotten to battle at all since we got here, and I’m pretty sure the other three groups in Saffron haven’t either.”

    Another kid chimed in, “It’s all like…lectures on how to get goods and Pokémon for Team Rocket and like…profit analysis whatever.” That got a solid round of laughter from almost everyone in the room. Sure, I hadn’t been too fond of the training so far, but at least it was preferable to that.

    “I wandered into a presentation on how to get businessmen to do whatever you want,” a third Saffron rebel added. “It was…uh…interesting.” Her teammates started snickering.

    “You know it’s not that great, getting to train here,” Reed spoke up in a too-loud voice. “It’s crazy hard—makes Stalker’s training seem like cake.”

    “Considering you couldn’t even finish Stalker’s most recent training, how are you still alive?” a Viridian rebel asked.

    Reed’s face fell. “Ha ha, real funny.”

    “Come on, guys, seriously?” Mai groaned exasperatedly. “We don’t have forever in here, we’ve gotta keep this short.”

    Sasha chuckled a bit. “Gotta admit she’s right. Anyone heard anything about the mission?”

    An awkward silence fell over the group, and everyone glanced around to see if anyone else had been successful.

    Ray shrugged. “I didn’t expect anyone to have found anything yet.” About half the rebels let out a sigh of relief. It was kind of funny to see the reactions everyone normally reserved for Stalker being projected onto Ray now that his group was in charge and Stalker wasn’t around. It wasn’t hard to see why though—he had the same cool and collected air and intense expressions.

    “At least it seems like we all got set up on the team without too much trouble,” Liam offered, and there was a murmur of agreement from everyone.

    “We should focus on figuring out which of us have officers assigned to the mission,” Zoe added. “Then we know who to target for info. If you find out your officer isn’t on the mission, then just ask around. Play the noob card, like you just wanna know what’s going on with the higher-ups.”

    That sounded doable. Granted, Karen wasn’t the most approachable Rocket around, but the idea of hunting for rumors amongst the other grunts didn’t seem too bad.

    “I’ll send out a mass text when it’s time for the next meeting like this,” Ray said. “Hopefully by then we’ll have something to work with.”

    Sasha nodded. “Sounds good to me—everyone else got that?”

    “Yup!”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It was the middle of a training session. Karen had just shown us some tips for quickly ganging up on and incapacitating a target, and now we’d gotten a rare moment to rest and catch our breath. I just had to take advantage of it and try getting some info on the Legendary mission. It was the only opportunity to come up all day.

    “So we heard there was a huge combat unit mission coming up?” I said, trying my hardest to make it sound as casual as possible. Maybe a bit too hard. Damn it.

    “Yeah? What about it?” Karen asked dully. Good, she hadn’t noticed.

    “What kind of mission is it?”

    She scoffed. “That’s not exactly the kind of thing they tell those of us who aren’t assigned to it.”

    “You’re not?” Rudy blurted out.

    Her eyes twitched. “No. Even though I’m more than qualified, some people don’t seem to think I should go anywhere on this team.”

    I clenched my teeth. If there was one thing we didn’t need, it was Karen going on another one of her rants on how the higher-ups were determined to see her fail.

    Darren jumped in with, “But you’ve heard rumors about it…right?”

    Karen laughed. “Oh man, take it from me, kid, the kinds of rumors you’ll hear around the base are nuts. And in any case, what’s it to you? It’s not like you’ll be on the combat unit any time soon. It takes years to qualify.”

    Well that was some shut down. Was there any way to ask what she knew without it seeming totally suspicious? Nothing was coming to me. I locked eyes with Rudy and Darren, but from their expressions it seemed they were just as clueless as I was.

    “Well don’t just stand there,” Karen said, giving us an impatient look. “Let’s run through that drill one more time.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Every conversation with Karen ended the same way. There was absolutely no way we were going to get any information out of her, and I could only hope that the rest of the rebels didn’t have such disagreeable officers. Either way, it meant that grunts were our best bet.

    Rudy, Darren and I were sitting in the mess hall during an ordinary lunch, watching the other Rockets. The problem was that none of us actually wanted to go first. We’d been sitting here staring for fifteen minutes, and it was starting to get a bit ridiculous.

    “So we should probably try actually talking to people,” I finally spoke up.

    “Do we have to? They’re Rockets,” Rudy whispered.

    I put a hand to my forehead. “You were all excited about it yesterday. What happened?”

    “Well…I was, but then I thought about it.”

    “That’s gotta be a first.”

    I winced from a sudden punch to the arm. Yep, couldn’t say I was surprised; I kind of deserved that one.

    “You should do it, anyway. You’re the oldest,” Rudy said simply. Darren nodded in a “that makes sense” kind of way.

    I groaned. “Fine, I was gonna do it anyway.”

    At least it was easy to identify who was a grunt based on the uniform—black pants and shirt with gray boots. I scanned the crowd for any nearby grunts who were eating alone, and caught sight of one two tables down and across from us. Alright, now was as good a time as any. I got up from our table and wandered over, trying my best not to look completely awkward.

    “Hey, uh...I’m new here,” I said, sitting down alongside the grunt.

    “‘Sup?” she replied, not looking up from her lunch.

    I paused for several seconds, not really sure how to proceed. “So, uh, would it be okay if I asked you some things about how stuff goes around here? My officer’s not too talkative.” Not entirely true. Karen was plenty talkative—just not about anything we wanted to know.

    “Sure, what did you want to know?” she said, finally looking up.

    Alright, had her attention. Now I just had to think of what questions to ask. I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. The first thing that entered my mind was, “How long does it take before newbies can get assigned to actual missions?”

    The Rocket paused thoughtfully. “I didn’t go on my first mission until I’d been here for two months. And even then, it was just a simple heist.”

    “What kind of missions have you done since then?”

    She shrugged. “All sorts. Bigger heists, catching rare Pokémon, added muscle during business negotiations—I actually got to rough up a few guys on my last job, that was fun.”

    It was…really weird hearing someone talk about Team Rocket activity so nonchalantly. Still, I kind of needed to expect that by now. Time to push the topic further.

    “Do you know what kind of missions the higher-ups go on?”

    “Depends on what department,” she replied through a mouthful of food.

    “The combat unit, of course.”

    Her face split into a grin. “You’ve heard the rumors, haven’t you? About the combat unit planning a big mission soon?”

    I nodded. “No one seems to know anything about it. Is it really that big of a secret?”

    “Well yeah. Course, word gets out anyway. You shoulda seen the base two months ago.”

    Two months ago…I had a feeling I already knew what she was talking about, but I couldn’t let that on. “I take it there was a big mission then?”

    She lowered her voice. “Hell yeah, the combat unit was gonna catch Entei.”

    I widened my eyes to put on the look of shock I knew she’d be expecting. But I almost didn’t have to fake it at all—the memory still burned just as brightly as the day I saw the attack unfolding right in front of me.

    “I know, right?” she said upon seeing my expression. “That was my reaction when I first heard. Sucks that those Johto assholes got to it first.”

    I let out an exasperated sigh. “Okay, what’s the deal with the Johto force? Is there some kind of rivalry going on?”

    The Rocket groaned and put a hand to her forehead. “Buncha crap went down last year—Johto force came out of it way better off, and they never let us forget it.”

    Well that was…interesting. But none of this would help us on our mission—and we already knew the Johto Force had Entei.

    “Anyway, my break’s over, good luck with your training.” She grabbed her empty lunch tray and gave a small wave before walking off.

    Well…that hadn’t gone terribly…but it hadn’t exactly paid off either. Might as well try again with someone else. I glanced around the crowd once more, searching for another conversation target. Eventually my eyes fell on a grunt who looked to be staring off into space. He seemed as good an option as any.

    I wandered over, trying to look as casual as possible before sitting down and going, “Hey.”

    “Shh!” He pointed forcefully at the TV in one of the upper corners of the room.

    I blinked, a bit taken aback. The TV was muted and had captions on, since it would’ve been too hard to hear it in such a busy area anyway.

    “There’s…no volume,” I said, confused as to why he wanted quiet when there was nothing to hear. The Rocket ignored me, staring intently at a pair of trainers on the screen. I shot a helpless glance back at Rudy and Darren, who just kind of gave a clueless shrug.

    I turned back to the TV, where a Nidoking and a Blastoise were locked in combat, each of them shoving against the other, trying to get an opening for a move. Blastoise threw its weight around in an attempt to get Nidoking on the ground so it could aim the water cannons on its back, but the armored, rabbit-like beast refused to budge. Both fighters were panting hard with exhaustion, but eventually Nidoking pulled back enough to fire a sudden bolt of lightning from the horn on its head, and the opposing water-type collapsed.

    The screen cut away from the trainers and switched to a pair of excitable commentators, and that’s when the Rocket came out of his trance and realized that I was still there.

    “Sorry ‘bout that. The semifinals started today and I can’t afford to miss a second,” he said quickly.

    I blinked. “The semifinals of what?”

    “…The Indigo League?” he said, staring at me like I was super dense.

    I barely had time to react before being shoved aside by Rudy rushing over and yelling, “That’s going on now?!”

    The Rocket laughed. “Second week of August—when else would it be?”

    Rudy grabbed my shirt sleeve frantically. “How did we forget?”

    “I…we’ve been busy?” I managed in response, glancing back up at the TV, where slow-mo replays of key moments in the match were being displayed.

    “I know Connie is the favorite to win this year,” the Rocket continued, “but I’m a fan of Derek. I’ve got a lot of money riding on him,” he said, laughing a bit nervously.

    I tilted my head. “Do they take bets on the league here, or…?”

    He laughed. “Are you kidding? Team Rocket makes a killing on bets during tournament season.”

    Darren tapped my shoulder and pointed at Rudy, who was now staring at the screen with a level of wide-eyed enthusiasm that didn’t seem possible, even for him. I had to stifle a laugh. Guess we wouldn’t be getting anything done now.

    The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the semifinals. I had to admit, it was a nice change of pace, not to mention it had been ages since I’d watched any League battles (having missed them last year due to sulking in my room most of the summer.) Still, it didn’t exactly help us get any closer to our goal. During the intermissions, we tried chatting with a couple other grunts also watching the matches, but didn’t have much success.

    Oh well. At least this was only the first day of trying.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It was frustrating. Two weeks at the base and we barely had anything to go off. Two weeks of intense training, Karen dodging all our questions, and random grunts not knowing anything we didn’t already know.

    “Not looking forward to being the only ones who didn’t find anything,” I muttered as Rudy, Darren, and I walked down the hallway to the grunt quarters for our upcoming meeting.

    “I don’t think we’ll be the only ones. There might be one or two other failures,” Darren said matter-of-factly.

    “Yep. That definitely makes everything better,” I said, groaning. I don’t know what I’d been expecting, really. That Karen would just cheerfully tell us everything she knew, and also that she’d get assigned to the mission and ask us to come along? I knew that was ridiculous, but I still had imagined we’d be slightly more useful on our first mission.

    “I guess we could have been caught—that’s one way things could be worse,” Darren added, shrugging.

    I couldn’t argue with that. And with my luck, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

    We arrived at the door to the grunt quarters and opened it to see the familiar sight of the other three groups of Cerulean rebels scattered across the bunks.

    “Good to see ya!” Zoe called out brightly, waving to us from across the room. “We’re just getting the call started, so hurry on over.”

    Mai shut the door behind us and took up her usual guard post. The three of us sat down across from Ray and Sasha, who were busy with their communicators. We didn’t have to wait long before hearing the voices of the Viridian and Saffron rebels coming from the speakers. From my vantage point I could see several kids huddled together to be in view of the cameras.

    “Everyone ready?” Ray asked. Upon hearing or seeing confirmation from all the rebels, he went on, “Alright, we’ll start. Since our last meeting, my group found out that our officer was actually being considered for a spot on the mission.”

    “Unfortunately…” Sasha continued, “that means he’s super paranoid about messing up his chances and wouldn’t spill any details.”

    Out of everyone in the room, the members of group 5 were the only ones who didn’t look disappointed. They glanced back and forth at each other for a bit before Zoe stood up and announced, “Well I’ve already told some of you, but our group’s officer is confirmed to be on the Legendary mission.”

    “No way!” several rebels cried.

    “Not only that,” Liam added, “but whatever their target is, they’ve been following it for a while. He wouldn’t say what it was. But he said there’s actually a small team out there that’s been chasing it down for the past week. We think the full attack is gonna happen pretty soon.”

    All eyes were staring at group 5 in admiration. And here I’d gone and thought we’d be screwed, but this was already a promising lead. Zoe sat back down, beaming.

    Sasha nodded. “That’s a good start. Anyone got anything on how the mission’s gonna go down?”

    One of the Viridian rebels spoke up. “Our officer talked to another Rocket about their electric Pokémon being borrowed for testing their attacks against some new tech that had to be ready before a big mission.”

    Sasha’s eyes widened. “Whoa, really? That’s huge. That narrows it down a ton, right?”

    “Who knows the most about Legendaries out of us?” Ray asked, surveying the room.

    “Alec does,” Liam said firmly, giving his teammate a light nudge with his elbow. Alec glanced up at him with an anxious look, but Liam just gave a reassuring nod.

    “Right, so, uh…the only electric Legendaries that live anywhere near us are Zapdos and Raikou,” Alec said slowly. “Zapdos is thought to roost in Kanto, although it’s been spotted flying over several other regions as well. Raikou constantly wanders across Johto, but it’s also been spotted in Kanto sometimes.”

    Zapdos or Raikou… Either one would be a huge boost to their forces. But out of the two, my brain kept latching onto Zapdos. Team Rocket must have encountered it before—where else did they get the DNA to make a Zapdos-Pikachu hybrid?

    “They’ve gone after Zapdos once before,” I said slowly. “They might be trying to catch it for real this time.”

    “Wait what?!” Reed exclaimed, gaping at me. “How do you know that?”

    “Jade used to have a totally awesome Zapdos-Pikachu hybrid!” Rudy exclaimed, jumping in front of me.

    Reed snorted. “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

    “It’s the truth!” Rudy shot back. “How else do you think we escaped from that Rocket jet?”

    “I never thought that story actually happened. Not the way you tell it, anyway,” Mai said, adding an eye roll for good measure.

    “Actually…I have a picture of him,” Darren said all of a sudden.

    We all turned to stare at him at once. Seriously? He’d gotten Chibi’s picture? On the S.S. Anne?

    “I thought he looked cool,” Darren said, shrugging. “You don’t see a Pikachu like that every day… well, I guess you did, when he was with you.” He grabbed his PokéGear and tapped a few buttons before holding it out to the rest of us. Sure enough, there was Chibi, standing on the boarding platform. The photo was blurry, but you could definitely make out the pointed head feathers and the intense, bird-like eyes.

    Liam paused thoughtfully. “Well…okay…so if that’s true, then Zapdos is probably what they’re after.”

    “Hey everyone, sorry we’re late!” a voice from the chat suddenly announced. “I kept messing up at training and our group got held overtime.”

    “No worries,” Zoe said brightly, “we just figured out that Zapdos is probably the target.”

    “Zapdos? Why Zapdos?” the rebel asked. “Hasn’t it been spotted flying over a lot of different regions? It doesn’t seem like the easiest Pokémon to find.”

    Kris snorted. “And Raikou would be easier to track?”

    “Why are we so sure it’s an electric Legendary?”

    One of the other Viridian rebels shot back with, “You weren’t here so you didn’t hear the reason!”

    And with that, the entire chat broke out into squabbling, most of it between the different groups of Viridian rebels, although Reed and Kris weren’t really helping things much on our end either.

    “Actually, I know another reason it’s probably electric!” a voice called out suddenly, forcing everyone to pause. It had come from one of the Saffron rebels.

    “No offense, but are there even any Rockets on the mission in Saffron?” Kris asked. “They don’t exactly keep the combat unit stationed there. I’m not even sure why Stalker sent anyone there.”

    With an exasperated groan, Mai stormed away from her watch post and growled, “Kris, for once in your life can you be quiet?”

    Kris froze, looking like she’d been slapped. Reed seemed to be using every ounce of willpower he had not to burst out laughing. For several seconds no one said anything, and Ray just kept his face buried in his palms.

    “Uh, we’re good here now, you can keep going,” Zoe told the Saffron group.

    “Oh. Right, so…in one of the ‘cost effectiveness’ presentations, they had a thing on using Pokémon energy. I guess electric Pokémon’s power is the easiest to absorb and use…that makes sense, right? And if we know they’re testing electric attacks on new tech, that prob’ly means they wanna use it on the easiest target before going for other types of Legendaries.”

    There was a moment of silence as everyone paused to consider the new info.

    “They didn’t exactly have the easiest time with Entei,” I added. “It would have escaped altogether if the Johto force hadn’t intervened.”

    Everyone stared at the floor. The story of Entei’s capture was common knowledge amongst the rebellion by now. The memory of it only served as a reminder of how we couldn’t afford to mess this up, otherwise the Rockets would have two Legendaries at their disposal.

    Zoe glanced around at all of the glum faces in the room and smiled weakly. “C’mon, enough pouting—how do we stop them?”

    “Obviously the Viridian rebels sabotage the new tech.”

    Someone in the chat snorted. “How do you expect us to do that?”

    “We don’t even know where it is,” another added.

    “You just find someone who looks like a scientist and follow them back to—”

    “Okay, okay stop just…throwing out random suggestions,” Ray said, putting a hand to his forehead. “We need a solid plan.”

    Sasha crossed her arms. “Ray, I don’t actually think we should be making too many plans ‘til we see how the mission is really gonna down. We need to know what we’re up against first. Blind strategies are useless.”

    Ray frowned. “I like being prepared. And right now we don’t even know where it is.”

    “What if we have someone follow them to see what they’re doing?”

    Not the voice I had expected to hear. Everyone whirled around to see where it had come from, and eventually all eyes fell on Wes.

    He glanced around sheepishly. “Well we know at least one officer on the mission, right? Why don’t the group assigned to that officer, like…tail them to the mission site, let us know where it is and what it’s like? And then while the Rockets are still getting everything set up, the rest of us head over there and stop ‘em?”

    Everyone paused to consider the suggestion.

    “Well…” Liam said slowly, “that’d be me, Zoe and Alec. Anyone else?”

    “Our officer’s on the mission,” a Viridian rebel replied.

    “Good. Whoever gets there first, use your GPS app to get the location and send it to me. I’ll text it to everyone else after that,” Ray said.

    “How do the rest of us get there once we know where it is?” another Viridian rebel asked.

    “Same way we got here,” Zoe replied. “We might not have access to Stalker’s Pokémon, but I think between all of us we have enough fliers and teleporters to pull it off.”

    Sasha nodded. “So long as it’s not like…clear across Kanto, my Kadabra should be able teleport everyone in Cerulean one at a time.” A couple Viridian and Saffron rebels voiced their agreement and their various methods for getting there.

    “So it sounds like we have a plan,” Ray said, looking satisfied.

    We had a plan. This was really happening. It had felt like we were just a bunch of random kids in over our head, and now we actually had a concrete plan for stopping Team Rocket from catching a Legendary. It was unreal.

    Darren nodded. “See? Told you we weren’t going to singlehandedly ruin everything.”

    I couldn’t help laughing. “I guess not.”





    ~End Chapter 11~
    This chapter is actually composed 100% of material that was not present in the old version. It used to just skip straight from them arriving at the base to starting the Legendary mission. Which was a little ridiculous, because it made the rebels…completely pointless in the grand scheme of things. Adding this chapter let me actually show the rebels doing things and allowed for a fun mixture of both childishness and competence from them.

    Next chapter is the Legendary mission finally!

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  15. #115
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    Been a while, no? I enjoyed these two chapters, but then again I enjoy pretty much anything Rockety, so it would have been hard to go wrong.

    Chapter 10

    My footsteps pounded against the dirt as I ran, ducking and weaving around trees.
    It was her feet that pounded, probably; a footstep isn't a physical object.

    “How many battles did you get hit while escaping?” he asked.
    How many *attacks, I believe. Also, did you get hit by/with.

    The sounds of frenzied slashing and repeated leaf blocking filled the air.
    What does it sound like for a leaf to block something? :P You might be able to liven up the description here.

    Stalker walked over with what looked like a pleased expression, but as always it was hard to tell. “You’re improving. Keep practicing the things you know you need work on.” He paused, then continued, “Oh, and you shouldn’t even be trying to dodge sure-shot moves. Just brace yourself for it. They’re weak—enduring the hit puts you in a perfect spot for a counterattack.”
    Doesn't help much when you're getting docked points simply for being hit!

    It was nice to see the kinds of training Stalker was having the group do--it seems like reasonable stuff, considering that they're probably going to be doing a lot of running away rather than trying to stand and fight a much larger force or much stronger opponents. Stalker's training was sort of weird in that it kind of transitioned from what looked like more general multi-pokémon fighting to teaching Firestorm and Swift attacks, but I do think it helps get across the interest he takes in preparing the kids and shows him (and his sceptile) to be decent at it. And like it says next chapter, the Rocket training is very similar, hmmm?

    It had been a while since my last time walking through such busy streets, and I found my attention constantly grabbed by all the sights and sounds of the city, after spending a month in a quiet island town.
    Does Jade miss her home/family at all?

    Something glinted in my peripheral vision and had to stop myself from jumping upon seeing the life-size Persian statue perched on a pedestal next to the entrance.
    I think you mean "...and I had to..." There should also be a comma before the "and," since "Something glinted..." and "I had..." are both complete sentences.

    I nodded, and we each handed them over for her to inspect. She inspected them closely and ran them through her scanner before handing them back.
    You could probably find another way to word these sentences so you're not repeating "inspect" in such close proximity.

    The elevator doors opened to reveal a huge lower lobby full of Rockets going about their business—some of them carrying goods of paperwork around, some of them accompanied by Pokémon.
    "Goods of paperwork?"

    The team is divided into several divisions all working to further the team in different ways. Of course, the majority of Rockets are assigned to acquisitions—obtaining and selling goods and Pokémon.
    Mmm, yes, "obtaining" goods and pokémon. XD It's cute how Warren completely manages to make TR sound like a totally legitimate business (well, okay, a combat division would be a little weird for most corporations) by his description of its organization, and also that he seems totally about the team, despite how long he's (presumably) been working for it--or he's just good at faking enthusiasm.

    The walls and ceilings were lined with passive energy fields to absorb stray blasts, and the far corner even had virtual training dummies for practicing moves on.
    What's a virtual training dummy?

    Overall I liked Warren's little tour the best out of this chapter; lots of fun worldbuilding in a relatively short amount of time. I like the nod towards a lot of Rocket business actually being pretty mundane, what with Jade etc. being a little let down by how un-sinister everything is. I'll admit I find the image of all the Rockets going around in uniform kind of weird, though. Like, people are just sitting at cubicles with colorful boots on? That's the impression I was getting from the chapter, and it struck me as a little strange.

    Chapter 11

    My legs dragged against the tile floor as I stumbled into the mess hall...
    Probably her legs, not her feet, no?

    I rolled my eyes. More backhanded ways of saying he’d have preferred having Charmander as a starter. He only had himself to blame for not getting one. And it was more than a little ridiculous that he hadn’t been able to shut up about Ebony getting yelled at yesterday but barely acknowledged the same thing happening to Wartortle today.
    Interesting. It's rare that you see one of the "good guys" explicitly being kind of terrible to their pokémon. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

    Zoe, a tall, pale girl with short brown hair and amber eyes, had volunteered to take notes, and seemed to be furiously scribbling despite the fact that the meeting hadn’t even started yet.
    "Seemed" to be scribbling? Either she was or she wasn't.

    The part where Jade's group is nervous about approaching anybody at lunch would seem like an even more intimidating situation considering that most of the grunts are going to be older. I know the Rockets tend to skew young in your 'fic, but even fifteen-/sixteen-year-olds would be a bit scary for younger kids. And Karen's an adult, right? It must be weird for the kids to be mostly interacting with all these older people, after probably hanging around mostly with their peer groups in school and during their journeys.

    Isn't TR going to notice this sudden influx of youngsters, though? Depends on how much communication there is between bases, I guess--yeah, they staggered their arrivals and sent people to different bases, but if grunts Jade's age are rare, then fiftyish of them (iirc) popping up over the course of a month or so would probably seem pretty weird to anybody paying attention.

    “Okay, okay stop just…throwing out random suggestions,” Ray said, putting a hand to his forehead. “We need a solid plan.”
    Shouldn't they consult with Stalker before coming up with a plan? It strikes me as odd that they'd be in charge of thinking this up on their own.

    I think I preferred the last chapter to this one; here we didn't actually get to see all that much of how the Rocket base operates or Jade and her friends get by in their new roles as Rocket trainees--mostly it was talking over plans, so most scenes played out pretty much the same as they would have if the group were instead back on Midnight Island.

    As of right now, I'd say Jade and Rudy are doing the lion's share of the work on the characterization front, although you introduced a lot of new trainees over the past three or so chapters. Darren's been around a bit, but at the moment I don't think there's a great deal distinguishing him from Rudy; he's a bit less jokey, I guess, but most of the time I wouldn't be able to tell it was him talking if the narration didn't specify. Karen has a much stronger character, and I think her exasperation at getting passed over for a promotion is kind of funny, but ultimately I'm not sure how much we're actually going to be seeing of a lot of the characters who've come up recently; it doesn't feel like there's much up with them. Not that I think there should be! It just means that the last block of chapters felt a little static to me. They're mostly plot-oriented, moving people into place and getting them into the situations they need to be in order for events to move along, and there wasn't much character work although there was a lull in the action. I guess I might like to see a little bit more of Jade's emotional reaction to what's going on? Like I said earlier, is she missing her family? Is she frustrated by the Rocket training, nervous about being discovered, kind of enjoying herself? How's she feeling about the upcoming mission? Jade, and the characters in general, have felt pretty even-keeled and not too bothered by things in the recent chapters, even though they've been doing plenty of new, sometimes scary, stuff, and are looking forward to more of that on the horizon.

    Like I said, for me the highlight was definitely getting to see a bit of how Team Rocket operates and some of the personalities of people on the force... who are honestly pretty normal and non-villainous, which I always enjoy. Quite a switch from the kind of stuff Jade encountered in the early chapters--and what she's about to see again soon, I'm sure. I'm definitely looking forward to the legendary mission; I anticipate lots of great action! As always, good luck with your writing!

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

    Banner by Sworn Metalhead of Dćdric Design




  16. #116
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    I almost tripped over myself as a pulsing shock wave of black energy shot past me, no more than two feet to my right! The attack was obviously intended to miss, but the sight of it passing so closely still sent my heart jumping into my throat.
    I wonder how many trainees they've lost to literally scaring them to death.

    Or at least, how many trainees' pants.

    I hated to admit it, but I was actually learning.
    Yeah that's gotta be a double-edged feeling, hasn't it, being actually kind of great at something actually kind of f-ed up.

    “Sweet, I wanna be in the video call,” Kris said, rushing to climb down from the top bunk and nearly falling on Wes in the process.

    “What, not if I get there first!” Reed called after her, immediately falling straight to the floor with a loud thud.

    “Can everyone be quieter?!” Mai hissed, eyeing the outside hallway suspiciously.
    SERIOUSLY. Pipe down, ya dorks!

    Well that was some shut down. Was there any way to ask what she knew without it seeming totally suspicious?
    Nope-a-rooni! 8D

    I wandered over, trying to look as casual as possible before sitting down and going, “Hey.”

    “Shh!” He pointed forcefully at the TV in one of the upper corners of the room.

    I blinked, a bit taken aback. The TV was muted and had captions on, since it would’ve been too hard to hear it in such a busy area anyway.

    “There’s…no volume,” I said, confused as to why he wanted quiet when there was nothing to hear. The Rocket ignored me, staring intently at a pair of trainers on the screen. I shot a helpless glance back at Rudy and Darren, who just kind of gave a clueless shrug.
    *shrugs* I know I certainly have a rough time reading while someone's talking to me. The words I'm reading and the words I'm hearing just kind of... trip all over each other. XD; Though at least Rocket McGee seems to have the luxury of being able to tune out all the yammerers who aren't actually talking to him. He has my envy.

    Well, for that anyway. No matter how fascinating I may find them, you legit could not pay me to be a Rocket. XP

    “Actually…I have a picture of him,” Darren said all of a sudden.

    We all turned to stare at him at once. Seriously? He’d gotten Chibi’s picture? On the S.S. Anne?
    Ohhh, if that falls into the wrong hands...
    On indefinite reviewing hiatus! Gotta work more on my own stuff.
    The Origin of Storms | Communication
    Bad Idea | Starlight

  17. #117
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    Hey, thanks for reviewing, both of you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    Mmm, yes, "obtaining" goods and pokémon. XD It's cute how Warren completely manages to make TR sound like a totally legitimate business (well, okay, a combat division would be a little weird for most corporations) by his description of its organization, and also that he seems totally about the team, despite how long he's (presumably) been working for it--or he's just good at faking enthusiasm.
    Heh, I had fun writing writing that bit. I actually couldn't decide if it was real enthusiasm or just putting on an act as part of the job, so I wrote it as if it could be either, then eventually decided it was a little of both.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    Overall I liked Warren's little tour the best out of this chapter; lots of fun worldbuilding in a relatively short amount of time. I like the nod towards a lot of Rocket business actually being pretty mundane, what with Jade etc. being a little let down by how un-sinister everything is. I'll admit I find the image of all the Rockets going around in uniform kind of weird, though. Like, people are just sitting at cubicles with colorful boots on? That's the impression I was getting from the chapter, and it struck me as a little strange.
    I...think Rockets have always been shown to be in uniform while at the base? (then again, it was murder trying to find base references when writing this chapter.) And while I guess that's a detail that I wouldn't necessarily be stuck going with canon, it's just kind of how I imagined it. Weirdly enough, in the old version, it was inverted so that on missions they didn't wear the uniform, at which point, why even have the uniform.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    Doesn't help much when you're getting docked points simply for being hit!
    Haha, yeah, that was a bit trollish of him, but it was mostly meant for future reference.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    Interesting. It's rare that you see one of the "good guys" explicitly being kind of terrible to their pokémon. I look forward to seeing where this goes.
    Rudy's arc is one of the ones I'm most looking forward to in this version.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    As of right now, I'd say Jade and Rudy are doing the lion's share of the work on the characterization front, although you introduced a lot of new trainees over the past three or so chapters. Darren's been around a bit, but at the moment I don't think there's a great deal distinguishing him from Rudy; he's a bit less jokey, I guess, but most of the time I wouldn't be able to tell it was him talking if the narration didn't specify.
    Yeah, Darren's definitely been giving me a bit of trouble, but I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of him. He's intended to be sort of the straightman of the trio, as a contrast to Rudy's shortsighted enthusiasm and Jade's paranoia, with a heavy dose of dry humor and sarcasm. I just haven't quite hit the right mark yet since his characterization is completely new to this version.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    I guess I might like to see a little bit more of Jade's emotional reaction to what's going on? Like I said earlier, is she missing her family? Is she frustrated by the Rocket training, nervous about being discovered, kind of enjoying herself? How's she feeling about the upcoming mission? Jade, and the characters in general, have felt pretty even-keeled and not too bothered by things in the recent chapters, even though they've been doing plenty of new, sometimes scary, stuff, and are looking forward to more of that on the horizon.
    You're right! And characters reacting to things is pretty much my favorite thing to write, so I don't know why I neglected it so much in these chapters. x_X I think it's just cause the chapters were so rushed, and it'll definitely go on my list of things to spice up when doing edits at some point. It's painfully visible how impatient I am to get to later chapters, but I'm still glad to be making so much progress, even if the quality dipped a little bit. Oh and I can go ahead and fix all the minor errors that were quoted.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sike Saner
    Ohhh, if that falls into the wrong hands...
    Heh, technically if any of their Pokedexes fell into the wrong hands, they'd be screwed. "What's this, why are you using a fake name, how did you pass the background check, wtf."


    Also, I am pleased to report that Chapter 12 is nearly done! I've written all the main meat of it, and just need to stitch it all together, so I expect to post it on Monday.

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  18. #118
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    Alright, so I think I need to accept that until I get faster at writing, a month per chapter is gonna be my average. Oh well. At least it’s consistent.

    First Legendary mission. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this. Here we go.



    ~ Chapter 12: The Incarnation of Thunder~


    I felt movement. My eyes snapped open suddenly, blinking in the darkness of the grunt quarters. The tiniest sound of something vibrating caught my ear. Somewhere in the back of my mind, beyond the cloud of sleep, I realized that it was important. But...why?

    Wait. It was my communicator. That was definitely important. My hands fumbled around, trying to find where I’d stashed it, before brushing against the device hiding under my pillow. I cupped my fingers over the screen so it wouldn’t light up the room as I checked it.

    I’d gotten a text from Liam. And from the looks of it, he’d sent the message to everyone on the rebellion: “Just got to the mission spot. Check the coordinates on this message. I already told Stalker it’s on now.”

    My breath froze in my chest. The mission was on. Right now?! What time even was it? 3 in the morning. No wonder there was a faint voice in the back of my head saying that I shouldn’t be awake.

    The room, though still dark, had a faint glow about it. I turned to glance around and saw a couple of other rebels checking their communicators. Suddenly, another message appeared—one sent by Sasha to all of the Cerulean rebels that were still here: “We need to leave one at a time to avoid suspicion, so text the group when you’re leaving, and then again when you make it outside. I’ll go first.”

    Minutes crept by in the darkness. Every so often my ears caught the faint sounds of someone removing their covers and tiptoeing across the room. Then a small wave of light from them opening the door out into the hallway. I hardly dared to breathe. Part of me still expected a Rocket to barge in all of a sudden and demand to know why we were awake.

    But nothing happened. Three rebels had left the room so far. Sooner or later I’d have to join them. And then if we made it out of the base, we’d have to make it to the mission location. And then once we were there we’d still have to be on guard to not get spotted. This was all way too much to handle at 3am. Yeah…the fact that it was 3am was the problem. I’d be able to handle it if it were any other time.

    Somehow I still didn’t believe that.

    But I’d been able to keep my nerves on the S.S. Anne, and I’d been alone then, not surrounded by team members Then again…I hadn’t been alone, had I? I’d had Chibi with me. Up until the point when he—no. I didn’t need to think about what had happened to him. Not now.

    This wasn’t helping. No more thinking, just doing. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and then texted the group that I’d be going next.

    I slid myself out of bed as carefully as I could, taking care not to wake any of the grunts in the room that weren’t rebels. I grabbed my Rocket uniform and quickly got dressed in the locker room before slipping out into the hallway.

    It was late enough that almost no one else was awake. I could hear the faintest sounds of a few Pokémon training in the battlefield, and some voices coming from the mess hall, but that was about it. Perfect, now I just needed to make it to the elevator without anyone seeing me, and—

    The moment the thought entered my head, a Rocket stepped out from one of the side rooms and strode down the hallway in my direction. Almost every muscle in my body froze, save for my legs, which were on autopilot. What was the best way to not look suspicious? Should I walk like I had somewhere important to be? Try to keep it casual? I was just getting up for a midnight snack. No, that wasn’t it, the mess hall was in the opposite direction. Think! There had to be some reason I was out of bed. Anything? I was almost about to pass him with the most clueless and guilty face in existence.

    But the Rocket walked right past me, his eyes glued to his tablet, not even giving a side glance in my direction. I blinked. That was it? He didn’t even care?

    Then again…did any random Rocket going about their business have any reason to suspect anything of another random Rocket? I guess if I’d run into Karen or something, that’d be bad. But what were the odds of her being up this late?

    I shook my head slightly. I was being stupid. As far as everyone was concerned, I was a Rocket. I had every reason to be here, and I was just going for a late night walk to get some fresh air. That was it.

    I swiped my ID to use the elevator back to the main floor, then cautiously stepped out into the lobby. It was dark and deserted…good. While there was nothing wrong with a handful of grunts leaving the base one after the other at this hour, it was still impossible to shake the fear that if too many of us were seen too close together, it’d raise some red flags.

    The front entrance was locked for the night, so I slipped out the members-only side exit, emerging from the Rocket HQ into an empty city alleyway. Streetlights and the occasional car headlights illuminated the darkness. The sidewalks were nearly empty, with the closest person being two city blocks away.

    I was outside the base. I leaned against the building and let out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. The warm summer night’s air swept over me after two weeks of being underground, and I couldn’t help closing my eyes and inhaling deeply. I could actually feel the tension leaving my body from being outside and away from the constant need to be on guard.

    Still, much as I wanted to, I couldn’t relax just yet. We had a mission.

    I joined the group 1 rebels in the park across the street, and within fifteen minutes the rest of the Cerulean rebels had all gathered outside, glancing around nervously and waiting for Sasha’s Kadabra to return (seeing as it had gone with the group 5 rebels to memorize the mission location before coming back to get the rest of us.) Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long before the golden humanoid appeared before us in a flash of shimmering light, twirling a spoon between its claws.

    My turn came up sooner than I would have liked. There was no going back now. My heart pounded in my chest as I stepped forward to teleport with the psychic-type. Just like last time, my surroundings dissolved into light and all of my senses seemed to disconnect before everything suddenly snapping back into focus.

    I now stood in a densely forested area. Darkness hung over the surrounding, save for both the moonlight and the glow cast by what looked like spotlights off in the distance, beyond the trees. The rest of the rebellion was scattered in that direction; Liam waved the newcomers over.

    “Ok so here’s the deal,” one of the Viridian rebels said as soon as we were all gathered around. “They’ve got a strike team out there hunting it down right now, herding it to this location so they can nail it with all their Pokémon at once.”

    I took my first look at the Rockets’ setup. Twelve flatbed trucks sat in a wide circle around a clearing not far from us. Each of them carried a large piece of machinery in the back, which opened at the top to reveal a tall, black antenna surrounded by thick, silver coils. The coils gave off a low hum. I shivered; just looking at them struck me with an uneasy feeling.

    “That’s the new tech they’re gonna use to trap it,” Liam said. “I heard someone call it the Thunder Field.”

    Which meant that our mission would almost definitely involve sabotaging it. The only question was…how easy would that be?

    “Also…we were wrong about the target. It’s Raikou.”

    Raikou. A Legendary of Johto, just like Entei. Sure, Alec had said that it sometimes roamed Kanto as well, but why were the Kanto Rockets going after the Johto beasts?

    All around the clearing, officers and executive Rockets worked to finish setting up equipment. In the end, one Rocket each was left to man the Thunder Field components on each truck. That was a problem. How would we get over there without being seen?

    Rudy wandered over to stand at my side, his eyes wide. “Holy crap, this is intense. We’re actually going to see a Legendary, right here.” His voice was shaking—with enthusiasm or fear, I couldn’t quite tell. Probably both.

    “Try not to get too excited. We’ve got to keep it from getting the crap kicked out of it, after all,” Darren said simply.

    “Not if Raikou kicks the crap out of the Rockets,” Rudy countered. I couldn’t really argue with that, although I highly doubted it. Not after what I’d seen happen to Entei.

    “Alright, we don’t have much time left, time to get a plan together,” Sasha announced, grabbing everyone’s attention.

    “Is Stalker going to be here?” a small voice asked. It had come from one of the youngest kids on the rebellion. The question caught me off guard. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me to wonder whether or not he’d be helping us, but now it seemed like a completely obvious question.

    “He’s not coming,” Ray said flatly. If he was frustrated or content with that fact, I couldn’t tell. “It’s way riskier for him to get caught than any of us.”

    I raised an eyebrow. It…really didn’t seem right to put it like that. I mean, I guess in a way it was true—if Stalker was discovered, the rebellion was over, while if one of us was spotted, the rest of the team would still go on. But…seriously? That was a pretty terrible way to word it. Our goal was to make sure that none of us got caught.

    But no one said anything. Zoe patted a few of the younger rebels on the shoulder reassuringly, while Liam just glared at Ray, his usual optimism gone.

    Mai groaned. “Come on, everyone. What do you think you’ve been training for? We can do this without Stalker.”

    “What she means to say,” Sasha cut in through gritted teeth, “is that there’s a lot of us, and they’re not expecting any sabotage, so we’ve got the upper hand for now.”

    I glanced around at the rebels—it was pretty obvious which ones, like me, hadn’t actually considered if Stalker would be here or not. Everyone else’s faces were streaked with fear and disappointment.

    “I…guess if we’re making plans now, it’s a safe bet we’ll need to destroy the Thunder Field?” I asked, hoping to move things along.

    Sasha nodded. “We’ll have to sneak over and knock out the technician manning each truck without being seen, so sleep moves are probably best. Which groups have at least one Pokémon with a sleep move?”

    I raised my hand, along with several others. After all, Darren’s Ivysaur had Sleep Powder.

    Sasha counted out nine groups out of the rebels who had raised their hands. “Alright, you guys will take one truck per group. Sabotage as much as you can without calling attention to yourselves. As for everyone else…” She paused, looking uncertain.

    “Someone’s gotta make sure Raikou doesn’t get caught by the time you guys get the Thunder Field down…right?” a Viridian rebel offered.

    “How are you gonna do that?” another asked, tilting her head.

    “Well, it’s gonna be chaos with that many Rockets all fighting Raikou at once, right? I hardly think they’ll notice if a few extra Pokémon slip into the lineup.”

    Ray looked skeptical. “The fight’s gonna be brutal. Your Pokémon would have to stay out of Raikou’s way, and also not get spotted helping it.” I shivered. That sounded way more intimidating than just knocking out a single Rocket.

    “My Pokémon all know Dig,” the same rebel replied proudly. “And I think a few ‘accidental misses’ aren’t exactly gonna be obvious in that kind of melee.”

    “You’re in charge of that squad then. Make sure no one does anything stupid or obvious—I can’t be everywhere,” Ray ordered.

    “Target is nearing our location. Pokémon out now!” an executive called out.

    I tensed up instantly. Everyone on the rebellion froze. This was it—the battle was starting. Every Rocket in the crowd on the opposite side of the clearing threw out two or three Pokéballs, releasing a massive lineup of enemy Pokémon. At least thirty or forty of them now stood in a widespread crowd off to one side of the area within the Thunder Field. And these were combat unit Rockets—they almost definitely had more Pokémon in reserve that were being saved for later in the battle.

    A distant rumble of thunder echoed throughout the air. Gusts of wind howled over the forest, and between the rustling treetops I could just barely make out the violently churning cloud cover rolling toward us.

    So it was true, then…what they said about Raikou being able to generate thunderstorms.

    Sudden flashes of light caught my eye and dragged my attention to the opposite end of the clearing—each one brighter than the last. It was here.

    A massive beast shot through the trees in a burst of lightning, skidding to a stop in the middle of the clearing and throwing a glare back at its pursuers. Its gigantic, muscular frame tensed up beneath a thick coat of golden and black-striped fur, and a jagged, lightning bolt-shaped tail twitched anxiously. The beast swiveled around, taking in the details of the surrounding trap, and then I got my first good look at its face, from pointed black ears to steely blue whiskers to the nightmarishly long saber teeth. Flaming red-brown eyes fixed on the Rockets’ Pokémon lineup, and the electric-type let out a deafening roar, echoing like the crashing of thunder and gripping every inch of my body. The sound faded, but my arms and legs wouldn’t stop shaking.

    This was the Legendary Beast of Thunder.

    The Rockets stood frozen on the spot. There was no way they could go through with this. Not now that they’d seen its terrifying presence firsthand. No way.

    “Trappers at the ready!”

    Several Pokémon within the lineup—most of them ghosts—started glowing with an eerie red aura before fixing Raikou with a piercing stare, causing the same red aura to form around the Legendary’s body. It was trapped now—that aura would prevent it from straying too far from the source.

    I clenched my fists. They were seriously still going to try it?

    Raikou didn’t try to run. It clearly understood what had just taken place, and almost seemed to shake its head a little. For the longest time it just stood there, staring down the Rockets’ Pokémon, daring them to make a move. Finally, the tiger opened its mouth and spoke, its words a low, reverberating growl, “*The humans are the ones responsible for this. Stand down, and you will be spared.*”

    Some of the Rockets’ Pokémon shifted uncomfortably, but none moved from where they were standing. The front of the lineup took a fighting stance, the traces of fear in their eyes overshadowed by determination.

    Raikou stared, its expression impossible to make out. It then gave a slow, solemn nod.

    “*Then I shall not hold back.*”

    Sparks leaped off the violet, cloudlike mane on the tiger’s back, giving way to a flood of lightning shooting every direction and covering an area half the size of the clearing. But just seconds later, the electricity was wrenched towards the trucks encircling the clearing, absorbed into the coils of the Thunder Field. Raikou’s eyes widened with shock before narrowing again. It snarled and crouched low, gathering more electricity around itself and this time firing it in a single thunderbolt, striking the heart of one of the machines. Jagged strings of lightning leaped off the impact point, but within seconds, the attack was completely absorbed just like the first one.

    Raikou bared its teeth, frustration crossing its features for just a second. It then turned back toward its opponents and let loose another blood-curdling roar before lunging. A golden blur shot forward, almost too fast to see, colliding with the Rockets’ lineup and knocking down the first Pokémon it met with its oversized claws. The target, an Ursaring, lashed out at the tiger with a glowing fist, but couldn’t land a hit before seven-inch-long fangs tore open its neck. The bear’s eyes widened with shock as blood gushed from the wound, soaking the ground before it collapsed in a heap. Muzzle splattered with crimson, Raikou pulled back from its target right before a horde of five or six enemy Pokémon all leaped onto it at once. The beast fell to the ground, snarling viciously and flailing its claws at anything coming too close. A handful of enemy Pokémon recoiled backwards, clutching wicked gashes to the side or face, but sheer numbers won out, and the tiger was overrun.

    I couldn’t look away. It was impossible not to stare at the spectacle unfolding before us. My eyes hurt from being open so long. Every inch of my body had gone numb. But I was still staring stupidly at the carnage, unable to think. What was I supposed to be doing? How could we possibly do anything to affect the outcome of a battle like this?

    “Come on. They’re all focused on the battle, time to move,” Ray said bluntly.

    I blinked, feeling like I’d been suddenly jerked out of a stupor. Groups of rebels were breaking off from the main gathering and were bolting towards the trucks. With their black uniforms and the cover from the trees, they almost appeared invisible.

    Rudy shook my arm to grab my attention. I jerked suddenly, spinning around to face him.

    “We gotta go,” he said urgently.

    “You can panic later,” Darren added.

    I took a few deep breaths to steady myself before nodding. No time to panic. We had to do this. The three of us crept towards one of the trucks that hadn’t yet been targeted by one of the other rebel groups. A single Rocket stood on the truck bed alongside the control panel for the Thunder Field. He faced away from us, watching the battle.

    The chaos and commotion of the fight was easily loud enough to mask to sound of a Pokéball being opened. Ivysaur materialized in front of Darren, who motioned to the rest of us to step back. At his command, the grass-type crawled forward until it was right alongside the wheels of the truck before unleashing a cloud of sparkling blue powder from the flower bud on its back. The Rocket jerked slightly upon inhaling the powder. For a few brief seconds he glanced around as though trying to figure out where it had come from before slumping to the ground, out cold.

    The problem was that now the entire truck was now surrounded by sleep powder, and we couldn’t risk breathing it in ourselves. Except…wait, I’d fought enough powder users to have an easy fix for that. I whipped out a Pokéball and released Swift.

    “We need a Gust to clear out the Sleep Powder over there,” I said. The Pidgeotto nodded wordlessly before taking flight and flapping his wings rapidly to produce a swirling vortex of wind around the truck. With the violent sounds of the ongoing battle and the rumble of the overhead storm, you could barely hear anything. That was at least one thing we had in our favor.

    One the last trace of powder had been swept away, I walked over and pulled myself up onto the back of the flatbed truck, now face to face with the massive, boxy machine at the foot of the lightning rod. Every hair on my body stood on end—the prickly feeling of the static charge around the machine was impossible to ignore.

    “Alright. Sabotage. Sounds fun, where do we start?” Darren asked once he had climbed up.

    Good question. I glanced around the glowing control panel on the front of the mechanism, which was covered in way too many dials and switches. Somehow I didn’t imagine pressing all of them at random would be the best course of action. But on the far back, near the grate that kept the antenna out of reach, I spotted a very large, important-looking switch. If any of these was gonna be an off switch, it was that one. I grabbed it with both hands and pulled hard. It swung heavily towards me and clicked into place.

    I leaped back from the machine, staring up at the lightning rod. Seconds passed, but…nothing appeared to have happened. Lights still glowed on the console, and the machine continued to hum.

    “Of course. I don’t know why I expected it to be that easy,” I grumbled.

    “Good try though,” Darren said, pretending to clap. I couldn’t tell if the gesture was mocking or sincere, and honestly didn’t care at the moment.

    Rudy stepped in front of me. “Alright, my turn! Water fries electronics, right?” he said, releasing Wartortle. “Water Gun, all over the controls!”

    The turtle nodded and spat out a powerful stream of water all over the console with a violent splash. The spray of water filled the air as Wartortle kept up the blast, although after several seconds he tilted his head, looking a bit perplexed. He glanced back at Rudy uncertainly before stopping the attack. Water dripped down the front of the machine harmlessly; the lights continued to glow.

    “What, nothing? That’s stupid!” Rudy stomped a foot against the truck bed. “Let’s just set it on fire, no way it’ll survive that.”

    “I think the Rockets might notice something if we set it on fire,” Darren replied. “Which is cool if that’s what you’re going for, but probably not?”

    Rudy folded his arms and didn’t say anything more.

    A horrifying snarl snapped my attention back to the battle. Raikou had just broken free from the horde of enemy Pokémon and sprinted away from them as fast as its legs could carry. But it barely managed to clear 30 yards before crashing to a halt, its entire body gripped by the red aura of Mean Look. Raikou glared back at the Pokémon already charging at it before rushing in and locking its jaws around the gaseous body of a Haunter, fangs cloaked in dark energy. The ghost immediately cried out and went limp, but just as it was recalled, three more Pokémon leaped onto the tiger, pinning it down.

    Raikou shook off its attackers and sprang back, crouching defensively and putting up a shimmering wall of light around its body. A Rhydon pulled back a glowing arm, slamming it into the electric-type. A resounding thud echoed from the barrier diffusing the force of the attack, and the tiger didn’t waste a second. It rushed forward and tore into the armored beast’s vulnerable underbelly, giant claws shredding through flesh and splattering blood onto its face until it was wrenched off by the rock-type’s teammate.

    It hit me with a sickening realization. Raikou had no spread attacks other than its lightning. Without that, it was reduced to attacking things one-on-one, with a flurry of claws and fangs and even a distorted light attack I couldn’t identify. There was no way for it to take out all the Pokémon trapping it at once.

    Then again…it wasn’t like the Rockets weren’t suffering either. Any Pokémon unfortunate enough to take even a single blow from Raikou was instantly knocked out. Some of them could still be recalled. Others couldn’t.

    The chaos of the battlefield was working against them another way. The huge melee made it difficult for those on the outside to land a blow without hitting one of their teammates…but I could have sworn the ghost-types trapping Raikou were pelted by stray moves slightly more often. And by now the ground underneath them was littered with holes from Pokémon using Dig—it was hard to see, but when I fixed my eyes on one hole in particular, I caught sight of a paw swinging in Raikou’s general direction, but missing and tripping one of the Rockets’ Pokémon instead.

    So a few of the rebels had managed to infiltrate the lineup. Maybe this wasn’t a lost cause.

    “This is crazy, we should be doing something,” Rudy muttered through gritted teeth.

    “Well yeah…but what?” I asked. But then I noticed Darren fumbling with a panel on the front of the console. He pulled it free, revealing a tangled web of wires in the heart of the machine. I almost felt like kicking myself. Of course we needed to get at its insides. How stupid could we be?

    Darren grabbed a Pokéball off his belt to release his Sandshrew. The yellow-scaled Pokémon drew back its clawed forepaws and slashed repeatedly at the wires inside the machine, sending sparks flying everywhere. I leaped back to avoid a sudden wave of them, then glanced back at the machine excitedly. Several lights on the console suddenly went dead, and my heart skipped a beat. But then…the lightning rod continued to give off the same low, electric hum. The same static charge filled the air. Nothing had changed.

    “Huh. I thought that’d work,” Darren said understatedly.

    The brief glimmer of hope sputtered and died. What were we doing? We couldn’t even figure out how to sabotage one machine. Were the other groups doing better than us? I glanced back in the direction of the forest and could just barely make out dark shapes moving from the trucks back to the meeting spot.

    Great, the others were regrouping. That could only mean they’d succeeded, or failed just like we had. And somehow I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to waste too much time hanging around here.

    “We’d…better join the others,” I said slowly, hating every word. Time for everyone to hear about our failure. Rudy refused to make eye contact. Darren shrugged and nodded.

    The three of us recalled our Pokémon. My legs were on autopilot as we jumped down from the truck and made our way back to the rest of the group. By now most of the rebels had returned, save for the ones still helping out in the battle.

    “Any luck?” Sasha asked everyone.

    “No good, we threw everything we could think of at it, but it’s still going,” one of the rebels replied. “We were kind of afraid to go too far and get captured or something.” Several other groups muttered similar excuses. I didn’t want to say anything. I kind of just felt like melting into the floor.

    Anyone?” Mai demanded, looking more anxious than frustrated.

    One mission group raised their hands. “All the lights went dead on ours and it stopped making any noise,” one of them said. “I think we broke it?”

    “Same here,” a second added. Behind them a third group of rebels raised their hands.

    “That makes…what, three of ‘em dead?” I asked. Three out of twelve. Would that be enough? How could we tell?

    “Also…even if it does go down, how do we let Raikou know?” Liam asked.

    No one had an answer. And all the while, the battle continued to rage on. The Rockets’ lineup was noticeably smaller now, but with fewer Pokémon to get in each other’s way, they were getting bolder. The rebel Pokémon among the lineup had no choice but to hang back now—there were nowhere near enough fighters for their sabotage to go unnoticed.

    Chunks of rock tore themselves up from the ground, burying Raikou in avalanche of boulders. Muffled snarls resounded from underneath the rock slide just before the ground erupted with a burst of energy almost like magma. The electric-type struggled to pull itself free of the heap only to be struck by a blast of flames.

    And then a Pokéball hurtled through the air toward the battlefield. Raikou’s eyes widened with shock at the last second before it lunged out of the way, letting the ball fly past where it had stood not a moment earlier. The Legendary circled around the opposing Pokémon lineup as quickly as it could, putting as much distance as possible between itself and the Rockets. But its movements were slowing, its muscles quivering, pelt soaked red with blood in between scattered patches of blackened fur. More Pokéballs flew through the air.

    I felt my insides vanish. The Pokéballs were purple. I’d only ever heard of one purple-colored Pokéball. But…it couldn’t be that…could it? It had always seemed like more of a myth than an actual thing. They couldn’t really be using the infallible Master Ball…could they?

    None of this was supposed to happen. This wasn’t like last time, with me standing alone, watching Entei get mobbed and being powerless to stop it. There were thirty-six of us here. We’d been training for weeks. And yet we still couldn’t stop them?

    “Why don’t we just blow up a few antennas?” Reed asked.

    I almost snorted. After all this time, somehow the concept of “don’t get spotted” still hadn’t sunk into everyone.

    Mai facepalmed. “Are we trying to advertise ourselves to the Rockets now?”

    With a shrug, Reed replied. “Not if they don’t see us do it. And that way Raikou will know it can go free.”

    Sasha opened her mouth to protest, but then froze, like she couldn’t believe she was actually considering it.

    I blinked. Wait…the whole problem with an explosion was that it would instantly give us away and we’d have Rockets on our tail. But if we could somehow destroy one from a distance and never be seen doing it, they’d have no idea it was an inside job. Plus, it’d mean that by the time they figured out what had happened, we’d all be long gone.

    Realization dawned on Ray’s face. “That’s…actually not a terrible idea,” he said slowly. “How do we pull it off?”

    “Launch all of our attacks at it at once?” Kris asked.

    “Hyper Beam!” Rudy called out excitedly.

    Mai rolled her eyes and turned to her teammate. “Got anything, Sasha?”

    “So I’m the plan one now?” she replied, raising an eyebrow. “I never volunteered to be.”

    “You’re good at it,” Mai said bluntly.

    Sasha laughed. “A complement? From you? I’ll take it.” She then paused, furrowing her brow in deep thought. “Does…does anyone have a Pokémon with Self-Destruct?”

    A huge grin spread across Reed’s face. “I’ve got Voltorb!”

    “I have a Geodude,” another rebel added.

    “I actually caught a Pineco the day before we left for the base,” a third said. “I haven’t trained it much, but I can ask if it knows Self-Destruct?”

    “But how do we recall our Pokémon after the explosion without being seen?”

    Everyone paused. That was a tough one. While the rest of us could easily stay out of view, it wasn’t like we could just leave the Pokémon behind. But there had to be some way to recall them quickly without becoming a massive target.

    “I’ll do it,” Ray said all of a sudden. “I can fly down, recall them all in midair, then fly away. The rest of you can all hide and they won’t ever have to know there was a group here.”

    Sasha raised an eyebrow. “How will you escape?”

    “My Fearow is fast.”

    “Uh uh, no, that’s stupid. You’re taking my Kadabra whether you like it or not,” she said, thrusting the Pokéball into his hands.

    Ray blinked at it a few times, but then shrugged and pocketed it without complaint. Throughout the crowd, five rebels had released their Pokémon and were explaining the situation before recalling them and handing the Pokéballs to Ray.

    And with that, the rest was up to him. Ray pulled his hat so low over his face that he was unrecognizable before sprinting forward to the closest truck and releasing his Heracross and Reed’s Voltorb. While Heracross dragged away the body of the unconscious Rocket at each truck, Ray planted the Self-Destructing Pokémon at the five lightning rods farthest from the main grouping of Rockets. When he was done, he recalled his bug-type and released his Fearow. The shaggy bird stood nearly as tall as he did, outstretching a pair of long, narrow wings as he climbed onto its back. It almost didn’t look like the Pokémon would be big enough to carry him, but with a few powerful wingbeats, the two of them were airborne.

    Silence fell over everyone. Even the sounds of the raging battle in the background barely seemed to exist anymore. All eyes focused on the Pokémon on the trucks, which would have been barely noticeable from here if we didn’t already know where to look. Any second now…

    Ray swung his arm into the air, and the reaction was immediate. Five explosions, one after the other, engulfed the Thunder Field machinery in a bright flash of yellow energy as a loud crunch and the squealing of metal filled the air. Waves of sparks shot out of the devices, and—holy crap one of them was actually tipping over! The lightning rod swayed side to side, metal groaning before finally giving way and swinging down towards the battle. It struck the ground with a heavy thud, sending half the Rockets’ Pokémon leaping into the air with shock.

    I’d say that definitely got Raikou’s attention. It also got the Rockets’ attention. A loud string of curses rang out from the opposite side of the clearing as the Rockets immediately scattered, trying to find the source of the destruction.

    And then Ray’s Fearow shot downward in a crazy dive, pulling up at the last second to soar just inches above the ground. In an impossibly fast motion, he whipped out one Pokéball after another, recalling the fainted Pokémon at each truck while still flying. I couldn’t help staring—even though he’d planned to do that all along, it was another thing seeing it in motion.

    Fearow pulled up from the ground just in time to shoot over the Rockets’ heads, and Ray threw in a dramatic wave for good measure before the two of them flew off. The reaction was immediate. At least a dozen flying-type Pokémon appeared in a flash of white light, pausing just long enough to let their trainers mount before taking off in hot pursuit.

    But the Rockets wouldn’t catch him. Ray was speeding away in the opposite direction of our main group. Now all he had to do was land and use Sasha’s Kadabra to teleport a safe distance away. And such a massive distraction would definitely give the rebels in the Rockets’ lineup the chance they needed to recall their Pokémon and quietly disappear into the forest. So as far as the Rockets knew, they were thwarted by a single rebel acting alone, and not the combined efforts of all of us. They had no reason to suspect it was really their new recruits.

    We had actually done it. It didn’t seem possible, but it had just happened right in front of me.

    All the nonflying Pokémon had stayed behind to contain Raikou, but the beast was now staring at the smoking remains of half the Thunder Field, eyes widening. It turned back to face its enemies, and I could have sworn I saw its face break into a manic grin right before a huge wave of electricity flowed out from every inch of its body. The remaining lightning rods managed to draw some of it, but there was just far too much for the few of them to handle. I screwed my eyes shut to block out the blindingly bright flash, but I wasn’t ready for the chilling screams of the Rockets and their Pokémon filling the air.

    Raikou had every right in the world to do that. And we’d given it the ability to. So why did I want so badly for it to stop?

    Seconds passed. Hesitantly, I cracked an eyelid open. Only a few electric or ground-type Pokémon remained standing in the clearing. The rest lay scattered across the ground—unconscious or worse, I couldn’t tell. All I knew was that my entire body was shivering. This was what it meant to challenge a Legendary.

    The Legendary Beast of Thunder surveyed the scene with cold eyes and a face like stone. It then let out a deafening roar at the remaining Rockets and their Pokémon before bolting away from them in a golden blur too fast to see. It took several seconds for my brain to register that “away from the Rockets” in this case meant “in the direction we were hiding.” My stomach tied itself into a knot. Raikou was escaping this way.

    We were all hidden amongst the trees. There was no reason for it to notice us. No reason for it to consider its enemies. Please, don’t notice us.

    And then Raikou slowed to a stop the instant it neared the area where we were hiding.

    Time slowed to a crawl. I couldn’t move. I hardly dared to breathe. It was right there. Standing not even five yards away from me, blood still dripping from its defeated face. I was frozen on the spot, staring at the fantastic beast for what felt like an eternity. It knew we were here. It knew we were here.

    Finally, it spoke. “So. It seems the interlopers have arrived.”

    And in the blink of an eye, Raikou disappeared, rushing off to the west in a flash of lightning, echoes of thunder trailing behind it.





    ~End Chapter 12~
    It’s actually really hilarious reading the old version of this chapter because the battle lasted all of two paragraphs, the rebels just kind of stood around not doing anything, and it ended with Ray just Hyper Beaming a single antenna which was somehow enough. I like to think this version is at least somewhat more entertaining than that.

    ~Chibi~
    Last edited by Chibi Pika; 26th April 2016 at 5:09 AM.



    "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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  19. #119
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    The much-awaited chapter, eh? Kind of surprised you didn't post the illustration for it here, too. I'm sure people would love to see it!

    The warm summer night’s air swept over me after two weeks of being underground, and I couldn’t help closing my eyes and inhaling deeply.
    Dang, she really didn't head up for air for two whole weeks? I know I'd be looking for any excuse to sneak off and hang out in the city or just get some fresh air, myself.

    There are a lot of numerals in this chapter. You usually write out any number less than twenty, and often anything less than 100--so "three," not 3. It looks especially odd when the number leads off a sentence ("3 in the morning"). For literal times, it's more common to format them 3 AM/6 PM etc.

    Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long before the golden humanoid appeared before us in a flash of shimmering light, twirling a spoon between its claws.
    You probably want to avoid using "before" twice like that.

    Just like last time, my surroundings dissolved into light and all of my senses seemed to disconnect before everything suddenly snapping back into focus.
    *snapped

    Sasha counted out nine groups out of the rebels who had raised their hands.
    Kind of funky wording. "Counted out nine groups from..." would work.

    Sudden flashes of light caught my eye and dragged my attention to the opposite end of the clearing—each one brighter than the last.
    This sentence is kind of oddly constructed. "Each one brighter than the last" is talking about the flashes of light, but tacked on at the end of the sentence there it's pretty far away from its referent. I think it might be a good idea to shuffle things around so that part is closer to the mention of light, e.g. "Sudden flashes of light, each one brighter than the last, caught my eye..."

    So were all the pokemon/rockets just standing there doing nothing while Raikou tested out their lightning-grabber machines?

    With their black uniforms and the cover from the trees, they almost appeared invisible.
    This reads kind of funny to me, because when something's invisible, it doesn't "appear" to be anything (because you can't see it). I think "they were nearly invisible" is how it's usually phrased.

    The problem was that now the entire truck was now surrounded by sleep powder, and we couldn’t risk breathing it in ourselves.
    I think you want to get rid of that second "now."

    I don't really believe in abandoning humor when things get tense or serious, but I do think that the banter while Jade & co are trying to sabotage the machine felt a little out of place. Like, some people definitely respond to tension by cracking jokes or getting snippy and sarcastic, but here it's all the characters joking around, and it just feels like they're egging each other on and dealing with a mildly frustrating problem--not that they're desperate to get this done or worried about someone seeing them, Raikou getting captured before they can do anything, etc. Here I think the humor really is a mood killer.

    I'm not really clear on why the rebels are so against doing anything that would give away that there's sabotage going on--I mean, obviously nobody wants to be identified personally, but ultimately I don't know how they could reasonably hope to get away with their general game plan without TR realizing there was some sort of concerted sabotage effort. Like, after the fact it's going to be pretty obvious that the lightning grabbers were tampered with, if nothing else.

    The big legendary battle! Although, to be honest, we didn't really see all that much of the battle itself--just a few paragraphs, with most of the focus being on the rebels and their planning/struggles with the machines/so on. Which is fine, I think, because the battle itself ultimately wouldn't be that interesting, with Raikou mostly just getting hammered on the whole time, in between disemboweling pokémon.

    Overall I think you handled the tension well (aside from that one bit I noted earlier). There are definitely some stakes going on here, and the characters seemed to react appropriately. The situation with the lightning machines was neither drawn out tediously nor too easy to overcome. Probably my favorite part, though, was the bit where Raikou electrocutes absolutely everyone and Jade's standing there horrified. You definitely did a good job of getting that feeling across--that the battle is honestly pretty horrifying, and even though TR brought it on themselves by challenging Raikou in the first place, Raikou isn't exactly making any effort at mercy, not even for the pokémon who in all likelihood were forced into this against their wishes. All in all it was a brutal fight, and you did a great job portraying that. Definitely worthy of the buildup it was given! And I look forward to seeing many more like it in future chapters. :P

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

    Banner by Sworn Metalhead of Dćdric Design




  20. #120
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    OMG guys... who knew I was still alive here? Well, definitely not me... I only came back because I was bored and working on my own fictional story not based on anything really and wanted to see if this entire forum was still alive.
    But aside from my stupid ramblings I'm super excited to be back and completely rereading this thing in like 2 days... Because why shouldn't I stay up until like 4:30 in the morning reading this?

    But let us get to why we're actually here. The story...
    It's so much fun going back in time reading this again. Back to when I was in like middle school... early high school when I first started this and all the cool writers were around. Anyway... It's very fun reliving this story and again seeing how it's changed from what I kinda remembered happening and how it's evolved into something completely different yet still somewhat similar. And of course writing styles change as we mature and do more of it. It's pretty apparent, to me at least, between the 2-3 year gap we had between chapters even that the writing quality has improved.
    I feel like I have to draw from something I've been noticing in my work recently is speech. Like character said, or character said halfheartedly or w/e adj. you want to use, and sometime completely forgoing the fact the character "said" something, but using as action the character was doing as he/she is talking. In the early parts of the fic, there's a lot of the former and it gets closer to the latter example. I really hope that makes sense at all...
    But I do enjoy all the changes that have been made for clarity's sake. Like doing a little more exposition on the SS Anne chapter and definitely on the training in Midnight stadium. Which I swear happened like much later in the earlier version... But again, I don't think I remember much of the earlier version. I mean I remember a lot of the cool plot points we haven't gone over yet... but ya... We'll get there.
    I do enjoy a lot of Jade's character. Her sense of, I have no idea what I'm doing. Especially for someone who is new to the whole trainer thing and hasn't had much success even in school not only with Pokespeech but also with battling. But we are seeing her grow and I'm excited to see more of her confidence in the actions and decisions she makes. Rudy is a lot of fun too, but at the moment, other than Chibi. They're really the only characters I enjoy. The others do seem kinda like the one dimensional bots that are just there to help out with conversations and such. But I'm sure we'll get a little more with them soon when we get deeper into the rebellion.
    I'm definitely enjoying the evolution of the descriptive process. I feel at first it was giving us a little too less detail, then moved to a little too much like Negrek was commenting on a couple chapters ago, and I think now it's hit that happy medium of just enough to get what you want the reader to know and not too much they're reading a Tolkein book...
    Anyway, this is my attempt at a review after not doing one for at least 4 years is it now? I feel like I just need to lurk again... These things always seem to be me just rambling about random things...
    Either way I'm excited to see Chibi again, because then we get to some of my favorite Pokemon characters that I can't discuss... (yet) And I'm also excited to see Aijia again. (sorry for butchering her name, I think I'm a little too tired to go back and check if it's right or not.)
    Until next month! (maybe) (hopefully)
    jirachiman out
    Yes people, I have returned.
    Pearl FC. Arlen 1718-9710-2821
    Eat More Chicken!!! Self-proclaimed, unofficial spokesman for Chick-Fil-A.

  21. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    I don't really believe in abandoning humor when things get tense or serious, but I do think that the banter while Jade & co are trying to sabotage the machine felt a little out of place. Like, some people definitely respond to tension by cracking jokes or getting snippy and sarcastic, but here it's all the characters joking around, and it just feels like they're egging each other on and dealing with a mildly frustrating problem--not that they're desperate to get this done or worried about someone seeing them, Raikou getting captured before they can do anything, etc. Here I think the humor really is a mood killer.
    Ah, okay, I didn't think there was that much of it, but on second thought I can probably tone it down.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    I'm not really clear on why the rebels are so against doing anything that would give away that there's sabotage going on--I mean, obviously nobody wants to be identified personally, but ultimately I don't know how they could reasonably hope to get away with their general game plan without TR realizing there was some sort of concerted sabotage effort. Like, after the fact it's going to be pretty obvious that the lightning grabbers were tampered with, if nothing else.
    Well the general idea it that, obviously the Rockets will know sabotage happened after the fact, but they're paranoid of tipping off the Rockets while in the process of it because it's been so heavily stressed that getting caught is a game-ender at this point. The next Legendary mission happens when they're much more experienced, and a lot less paranoid about direct confrontations.
    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek
    Overall I think you handled the tension well (aside from that one bit I noted earlier). There are definitely some stakes going on here, and the characters seemed to react appropriately. The situation with the lightning machines was neither drawn out tediously nor too easy to overcome. Probably my favorite part, though, was the bit where Raikou electrocutes absolutely everyone and Jade's standing there horrified. You definitely did a good job of getting that feeling across--that the battle is honestly pretty horrifying, and even though TR brought it on themselves by challenging Raikou in the first place, Raikou isn't exactly making any effort at mercy, not even for the pokémon who in all likelihood were forced into this against their wishes. All in all it was a brutal fight, and you did a great job portraying that. Definitely worthy of the buildup it was given! And I look forward to seeing many more like it in future chapters. :P
    I'm really glad the high stakes and brutality of the fight came across well! That was the thing I was most concerned about pulling off. That last Discharge of Raikou's was actually a last-minute addition that wasn't in the old version.
    Quote Originally Posted by jirachiman876
    But I do enjoy all the changes that have been made for clarity's sake. Like doing a little more exposition on the SS Anne chapter and definitely on the training in Midnight stadium. Which I swear happened like much later in the earlier version... But again, I don't think I remember much of the earlier version. I mean I remember a lot of the cool plot points we haven't gone over yet... but ya... We'll get there.
    You're right, the training didn't happen until way later in the old version--not until after Jade had gone on two missions! Which was a little ridiculous.

    And while I totally expected any old readers to have completely forgotten everything, there are a few plot points I think will come back to people (particularly the plot twists that involved characters that switch sides.)
    Quote Originally Posted by jirachiman876
    Either way I'm excited to see Chibi again, because then we get to some of my favorite Pokemon characters that I can't discuss... (yet) And I'm also excited to see Aijia again. (sorry for butchering her name, I think I'm a little too tired to go back and check if it's right or not.)
    The experimental Pokemon come in next chapter! I can't wait to get to them too. And I forgot that Ajia was lot of people's favorite character! Man, I really gotta hurry up and get to those later chapters.

    Thanks for the reviews, both of you! Chapter 13 is coming along decently--I know better than to make time estimates, but there's nothing particularly challenging in this chapter, and I already wrote the most important scene in it, so yeah!

    And even though the next Legendary Fight doesn't happen for a while (Chapter 18) the next chapter jumps straight into another mission, so there's plenty of interesting stuff in store.

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  22. #122
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    Originally there was supposed to be another chapter between this one and the last one, but it got deleted, and its relevant plot events were absorbed into Chapter 17. As a result, we just finished a mission and are already jumping into the next one! Here’s the Experimental Pokémon arc!

    The first half of the chapter is pretty rushed cause I wanted to get to the good stuff in the second half, but oh well.



    ~ Chapter 13: Encounter in the Hideout~



    “When we made it to the mission location, we discovered that Team Rocket was chasing Raikou into a trap, and had machines to absorb its electric attacks. We split into groups with some of us focusing on helping Raikou, and the others attempting to sabotage the Thunder Field. When it didn’t work, we decided that the best plan would be to outright destroy part of the field, so Raikou could take out the Pokémon keeping it trapped there with Mean Look.”

    Sasha’s words dominated everyone’s attention. Ray and Mai stood alongside her as she gave the mission report. The rest of us waited behind them at the entrance to the Midnight Stadium battlefield. And of course, Stalker watched all of us from the center of the room, his gaze intense and focused as he took in every detail of our mission.

    “I took everyone’s Self-Destruct Pokémon and planted them in the trucks,” Ray continued, picking up where Sasha left off. “After the explosions, I recalled them and flew off on my Fearow to give the Rockets a target to chase. That way they wouldn’t suspect a whole group of their own recruits was behind it.”

    “They never saw any of us there but Ray. And by the time they got back to base, we were already back in bed,” Sasha said.

    In the end, it was Ray’s group that made the biggest difference, along with the trainers who had the Self-Destruct Pokémon. The rest of us had been there for support, but ultimately hadn’t contributed much. It was kind of expected, in a way. With thirty-six of us there, it wasn’t possible for everyone to share in the glory. The sheer numbers had just helped increase the chance that some of us could be useful. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t gotten to do much.

    Yeah, I kept telling myself that, but I didn’t actually believe it. I just hadn’t let myself express how much it bothered me. Rudy was already doing a good enough job of that, anyway. He’d complained the entire way back to Midnight Island. Darren was the only one who seemed oddly complacent with it.

    Everyone on the rebellion was silent as Stalker carefully considered the mission report. He paced back and forth in front of us, looking to be in deep concentration.

    “I think…” he finally began, causing everyone to hold their breath, “you all did well.”

    An audible sigh of relief swept throughout the crowd, myself included. I don’t know why I’d felt so nervous. We’d succeeded. And how would Stalker know exactly which of us hadn’t done much? Even he wasn’t that good.

    Stalker chuckled a bit under his breath upon seeing our reaction. “I’d already heard the Rockets’ story of what happened. I just wanted to hear it in your words.”

    Rudy snorted next to me. “He could’ve told us that.”

    “The next Legendary mission won’t go as smoothly as this one did,” Stalker said, folding his arms. “The Rockets weren’t expecting you—next time they will. You avoided a direct confrontation this time. Next time it will be inevitable.” His expression had hardened back into its usual intensity. The idea of fighting Rockets was still an uncomfortable one, even after all our training. But still—that was why we were here, wasn’t it? To get to the point where we could actually do it and come out on top?

    “Of course…that likely won’t be for a while,” Stalker went on. “There’s plenty of things to do in the meantime. Now that you’re established Rockets, you’ll need to make semi-regular trips to headquarters—don’t want to get flagged as inactive. But that’s a good thing, because it will give you opportunities for smaller missions, minor sabotage, and gathering information.” He paused upon noticing several rebels off to the side who were literally bouncing up and down with excitement.

    “And while we’re on the topic of non-Legendary missions…I think the Celadon rebels have something to say.”

    Of course—the Celadon rebels hadn’t even been a part of the Raikou mission. They’d had a mission of their own…something about getting supplies? Honestly, our mission seemed way cooler than that. Then again, maybe they’d all gotten to be useful during theirs?

    The group of twelve all stepped forward, dragging two large boxes with them. From where I was standing, I couldn’t tell what was inside them, but apparently it was pretty great? Most of them couldn’t help glancing over at the boxes every few seconds and grinning broadly.

    “So there we were, in the dead of night,” one of them began dramatically. “We followed an unsuspecting group of Rockets to their giant warehouse where they keep the Game Corner prizes…”

    “We didn’t really need to. I mean, we already knew where it was,” a second rebel added. The first one shot her a glare before continuing.

    “After several days of spying on them to find out the right time to strike, we expertly infiltrated the—”

    “We had the access codes,” another rebel cut in flatly.

    “That’s still infiltrating!” the storyteller yelled, face turning red. “And we had to have someone standing guard and everything, and we had to avoid the cameras. Totally infiltrating. But we managed to keep our cool and locate the goods, and sneak out before anyone saw!”

    Everyone in our group was silent. Somehow not one of them had actually managed to get the point of the story across. I think one of them realized that, because they hastily added, “Right, so we got Pokémon and TMs for everyone, the end.”

    I couldn’t help bursting out laughing at the suddenness of it. An immediate commotion ensued as everyone rushed forward all at once to see inside the boxes. We were seriously getting new Pokémon? Just like that? I was actually having a hard time believing it. Apparently a lot of rebels had thrown questioning looks at Stalker because at that moment he said, “You’re not going to have much time to search for Pokémon anywhere other than on the island. I figured this would give the team a boost.”

    Well it was a boost I sorely needed. New moves and new Pokémon. I honestly wasn’t sure which one I was more excited for. Sure, I desperately needed a new team member. But new moves would be a huge benefit to Swift and Firestorm, neither of whom had many interesting tricks.

    “Most of the TMs aren’t reusable, so be careful how you use them,” Stalker told everyone. “No more than one non-reusable TM per Pokémon. But more importantly, everyone has to learn this.” He held up a series 5 disc with a glossy white case. “This is a reusable copy of TM17 and it’s the most important move you'll ever learn—Protect.”

    Everyone stared. I couldn’t quite remember what that move did, other than something involving protection, obviously.

    Stalker went on. “It allows your Pokémon to guard itself from almost anything for a short time You’ve been training for multi battles for the past month now—you should be able to see the value in that. Protect is the single best way to buy yourself time, find out more about your opponent, land a free hit with another teammate, and allow your Pokémon to guard you from almost anything. We’ll be practicing all of its applications over the next few days.”

    Well alright then. If it was really that useful, then I’d be sure to teach it to my team…after I got my new Pokémon. It just made more sense to get a new team member before deciding what moves the rest of your team needed.

    “Everyone gets one Pokémon!” a Celadon rebel shouted. “And we’re all picking randomly, so it’s fair. So no cheating!”

    Everyone in front of me had grabbed a Pokéball and retreated to somewhere away from the crowd, so I finally had a chance to reach down and grab one for myself. A new Pokémon. It felt unreal. I hadn’t gotten a new Pokémon ever since this adventure started. I barely had a chance to get five feet from the box before being ambushed by Rudy.

    “Hey! All three of us should open ours at the same time!” he exclaimed, grabbing me and Darren by the shirt sleeve and dragging us away from the main group. I didn’t bother fighting—there was no point trying to protest once Rudy had his mind set on something.

    “I’m guessing you just want someone to brag to,” Darren pointed out.

    “Whatever,” Rudy said quickly, letting go of us. “On the count of three, we open ‘em, alright?”

    I rolled my eyes. “If you say so.”

    “One…two…three!”

    Three bursts of light appeared in front of us at once. My eyes widened as the mass of energy in front of me took on its true shape. The light started to fade, revealing a yellow body. It was...?

    My face fell. A golden-furred mouse now stood in front of me, stretching its limbs and raising a lightning-bolt tail. A Pikachu. I had another Pikachu. A replacement for Chibi, in other words. I felt a sudden tightness in my chest and turned away quickly. The last thing I needed was for it to see my face and think it had done something wrong. And in any case…I did have a convenient excuse for what to look at right then—Rudy and Darren’s Pokémon.

    “No. Way.”

    At Rudy’s feet stood a small dinosaur covered in rocky green armor. It blinked its large, violet eyes and looked around, obviously confused about its surroundings. Rudy stared at the rock-type with a mixture of shock and total adoration.

    Seriously? He’d gotten a Larvitar? I mean, in way I kind of expected Team Rocket to be selling rare and valuable Pokémon, but…Larvitar?

    “That’s it. I won. I got the best Pokémon.” Rudy reached down to pick up Larvitar and admire it, but got as far as wrapping his arms around it before realizing that the tiny reptile was much heavier than it looked. He then settled on kneeling down and shaking its stubby arms. The rock-type mostly looked bored with the attention it was receiving.

    “I don’t think I did too bad. This means I’ve got a teleporter now,” Darren said. On the ground next to him sat a golden humanoid resting its claws in its lap with its thick tail wrapped around it. An Abra—not just a teleporter, but a powerful psychic.

    “Mine’s got a type advantage, so I won,” Rudy said, smirking.

    Darren didn’t really seem to care. “Once it evolves. Do you have any idea how hard it is to train a Larvitar to its final form? Cause I’m thinking you don’t.”

    “Stalker’s got a Tyranitar.”

    Darren shrugged. “He’s Stalker.”

    Rudy didn’t have a comeback for that one. But at that moment he glanced in my direction, probably because I hadn’t been saying anything. He opened his mouth like he was about to say something, but then his eyes fell on my new Pokémon. “You got another Pikachu? Lame, I’ve always wanted one. Of course…Larvitar is still way better,” he added quickly.

    Darren made eye contact and tilted his head with an odd expression, almost like he knew what I was thinking and wanted to comment. Then again, the disappointment was probably written all over my face. Rudy just hadn’t noticed because he was Rudy.

    I glanced around the stadium to see everyone else meeting their new Pokémon excitedly. Pikachu and Abra looked to be pretty common amongst the prize Pokémon, along with the spiked Nidorino and Nidorina, the dainty Clefairy, and the six-tailed Vulpix. I only spotted one other Larvitar amongst the group. Similarly rare was the snakelike Dratini—only two kids had gotten one. A few rebels even looked to be trading their newfound Pokémon, probably in cases where they’d gotten a Pokémon they already had. In a way…that was kind of what my situation was. Would it be worth it to try to trade my Pikachu?

    I looked back at Pikachu. The electric-type mostly just seemed weirded out by everything that was going on. “*Who are you all supposed to be?*” it asked.

    Well this was awkward. What was the best way to explain it? “You guys were gonna be given out as Game Corner prizes, but then a few members of our team…rescued you and now…we’re your new trainers?” I finished lamely.

    “*What?*”

    I groaned. Should I even be introducing myself as its trainer? If I was already considering trading with someone? But the only reason I felt that way was because of Chibi, and I didn’t have him anymore, so it wasn’t like I could use the excuse that I already had a Pikachu. And it wasn’t fair to this new Pikachu that I was still fixated on what happened to my last one.

    But…what had happened to him? After they took him. I still didn’t know. That was the worst part.

    “I’ve got to go ask someone something,” I announced suddenly, marching away from the group and leaving everyone looking rather confused at my behavior.

    Stalker. Stalker would know what had happened to him. Stalker knew everything about Team Rocket. Yeah that was a silly over-exaggeration, but I didn’t care.

    I walked straight up to Stalker, painfully aware of how miserable I probably looked. “Hey, can I talk to you?” I asked.

    Stalker raised an eyebrow but nodded all the same, and the two of us walked off to the side of the battlefield, away from the main group. Once we were a good distance away, he turned to me and said, “You look distracted. What’s on your mind?”

    I fidgeted a bit, unsure how to bring up the topic without sounding ungrateful to get a new Pokémon. “I…it’s just…I got a Pikachu from the Pokéball box.”

    The reply was immediate. “You’re worried about number nine, aren’t you?”

    I blinked, completely taken aback. “How’d you know?”

    “You stole him from the Rockets. Then you showed up here without him, and the Rockets reported his successful recapture. It wasn’t hard to put together.” I mentally smacked myself. Figures that he’d be aware of what happened. That was what I’d been banking on, after all.

    “You…mentioned we’d get plenty of chances to go on small missions.”

    He nodded.

    It suddenly hit me. I knew what I needed to do. “I…I want to rescue him.”

    Stalker paused to consider my words, his icy blue eyes staring through me. For several seconds, he didn’t say anything, until finally: “Alright. But when you do, I’ll need you to do something for me as well.”

    That was unexpected. But I didn’t really have much choice, did I? The only thing I could do was nod.

    “I want you to get information on experiment number thirty-six.”

    Thirty-six. I’d heard that number mentioned by Team Rocket before. But what was so important about it?

    “I…sure? What is that?”

    “Number thirty-six is the big one. Their most groundbreaking experimental Pokémon yet. And almost all the info on it is being kept completely hush. I need someone to get inside the room where it’s being kept and copy all of its data, especially regarding what its power is like, and whether or not they’ll be able to control it like they did the other experiments. Number nine is currently being used to test Legendary control technology, so getting it out of there will be additionally helpful for us, because controlling Legendaries is one thing we do not want them able to do.”

    A chill ran down my spine. Controlling Legendaries. That didn’t even seem possible. But they’d apparently been controlling the other experiments—after all, Chibi was the only hybrid I saw on the plane that didn't have that creepily blank, expressionless stare. But still…controlling Legendaries? Somehow it had never occurred to me how the Rockets planned to actually do anything with their captured Legends. Suddenly it all made sense. That was why they needed Chibi. And I’d let them take him.

    “But first,” Stalker continued, “training. The next few days are going to involve some of the most important lessons yet. And Team Rocket base activity needs the chance to settle down a bit. You can go on your mission in three days.”

    I gaped at him, feeling nothing but desperation on my face. Three days?

    “I know this is important to you. But it needs to wait.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Sparks flew through the air as bolts of lightning surged forward one after the other, crashing against a shimmering wall of energy that went up at the last second. Rudy crouched low behind the barrier as strings of lighting leapt past him on all sides. Wartortle stood firmly in front of him, arms spread wide and a look of anxious concentration on his face as he maintained the shield in front of them. Across the battlefield, Pikachu ceased the offense for a few moments to let Wartortle recover before pressing the attack once more. The electric rodent lunged to the side and shot out several more bolts at Rudy, who ducked back behind Wartortle in a flash. The turtle recoiled slightly from the lightning flying towards him, but still managed to throw up a shielding Protect at the last second. Scattered bolts flew past the shield, forcing Rudy to huddle closer to his starter to avoid getting hit.

    “Might wanna tell Pikachu to ease up a little bit; that last one almost got you,” I said.

    Rudy waved a hand dismissively. “Nah, she’s just making it tough for Wartortle, that’s all. And that’s the point, isn’t it? To make sure we can protect ourselves even when they’re trying to hit us?”

    I got the feeling from the mischievous glint in her eyes that Pikachu wasn’t so much making the training tough as she actually wanted Rudy to get hit with a Thundershock. Not in a malicious sort of way, but in a wouldn’t-this-be-hilarious sort of way.

    I’d let Rudy train Pikachu for now. It wasn’t fair to her that her that I was still hung up on losing Chibi and couldn’t bear to battle with her. And besides…if all went well, I’d be returning to the base with Chibi later tonight, and then Rudy could go ahead and keep her.

    “I’ve managed to get Wartortle down to a 30 second wait between using Protect before he can use it again. Not bad since that Stalker said 20 seconds or so is the absolute minimum. How short of a wait is your Charmeleon down to?”

    To be honest, I couldn’t remember. My upcoming mission was occupying almost every space of my mind. I still gave it my all at Stalker’s lessons, but after hours? No way. In any case, Swift and Firestorm had been practicing their new moves on their own. Besides Protect, Firestorm had learned Shadow Claw and Swift had learned Aerial Ace.

    “Well, I think Wartortle’s good for now. Time to train Larvitar some more,” Rudy said, recalling his starter and pulling out a different Pokéball.

    I snorted. “Haven’t you been training Larvitar non-stop since you got her? I was actually surprised to see you giving Wartortle a shot at all.”

    “Yeah, well Darren’s right, I’ll never get her evolved if I don’t train with her a ton,” he said resentfully. I was still pretty sure that even with all the training in the world, it’d be months before her evolution. In fact, it was pretty rare for the average trainer to get a Pokémon like Larvitar or Dratini to reach their final form at all.

    I watched Rudy train for the rest of the night, offering commentary when he asked for it and taunting when he didn’t. At ten pm it was time to leave. I waved goodbye and set off for Stalker’s office, my heart already beating a bit more quickly in anticipation for the upcoming mission. I had just left the battlefield and rounded the corner towards the left hallway when I heard a voice behind me.

    “So, you’re off to get your cool Pikachu back now, right?” I stopped walking and turned around. It was Darren.

    I’d finally told Rudy and Darren the truth about Chibi. How he hadn’t really left, he’d been stolen. There really was no getting around it—how else was I supposed to explain why I was going on a mission out of the blue?

    “You didn’t really have to keep all of that a secret, you know?” he said. “I mean, you’ve known Rudy a lot longer than you’ve known me, and even he didn’t know.”

    I bristled. “I don’t like dragging other people into my problems.”

    He chuckled a bit. “Well that’s kind of dumb. As teammates, isn’t it our job to get dragged into each other’s problems?”

    Teammates. I’d always been thinking of this in terms of myself. The things I had to do. Just like when I hadn’t told Rudy I was joining the rebellion.

    “I’m not asking to come with you or anything,” he said, holding his arms up. "It’s your business, and all that. I’m just saying you might want to try telling the people you’re fighting Team Rocket with about stuff that happened with Team Rocket?

    Well, putting it that way made it sound really stupid that I hadn’t. Hell, the only reason he even knew about the plane incident was because Rudy had told literally everyone the first week we got here. The more I thought about it, the more I was unsure as to why exactly I’d been keeping so many secrets.

    I sighed. “Okay, you’re right. When I get back, I’m telling everyone what happened, whether it goes well or not.”

    Darren blinked. “Huh, that was easier than I expected. Alright, I’ll stop keeping you so you can go get him. Try not to get caught,” he said brightly giving a wave before walking off. I stared as he left, at a loss for words. Figures he’d say something like that. But then, I’d long since learned to not put too much thought into half of what he said.

    Stalker’s office wasn’t far ahead. I strode down the hallway and knocked twice on the door before opening it. He was seated at his desk, reading something on his laptop, and glanced up at me when I entered.

    “You ready?” he asked.

    I nodded. Stalker stood up and walked past me, motioning for me to follow him.

    “I finished modifying the permissions on your Rocket account. You’ll have access to bases other than Cerulean now, plus high security areas that would normally reject your ID card.” He handed me the card along with a flash drive. “You’ll also need this. It has a script on it that will automatically copy all the relevant data on number thirty-six when it’s plugged into the computers in that room.”

    The two of us stepped outside, and as always, I was never ready for the burst of warm, humid air that hit even at this time of night. It was probably my least favorite thing about Midnight Island, and it made me miss the cool, breezy nights in Viridian.

    Stalker pulled out a Pokéball and opened it to release his Charizard. In a flash, the orange dragon appeared in front of us, her tail flame piercing the darkness. Darren’s Abra wasn’t quite experienced enough for long-range teleportation yet. So for now, flying was still the best option. I climbed up onto the fire-type’s back and wrapped my arms around her neck.

    “The base will be quiet this time of night. But that’s no reason to let your guard down,” he said, his voice stern. “Don’t be seen doing something you’re not supposed to. This is a stealth mission.”

    A stealth mission. I wasn’t going to be seen. The Rockets would never know I was there. All I had to do was grab Chibi, get the data on number thirty-six, and get out. Simple.

    “I’ve got this,” I told him, and for once, I meant it.

    Stalker nodded, and his Charizard spread her massive blue wings before launching into the air. The air rushed past us as the dragon flapped aggressively to gain altitude as quickly as possible, finally leveling off her flight once we reached a comfortable soaring height.

    The flight to Celadon didn’t take long. That, or I just had really bad awareness of time right then. Either way, it felt like we had just left the familiar sights of Midnight Island before the dazzling glimmer of Celadon’s nightlife greeted me on the horizon. Stalker’s Charizard dove down in a wide spiral over the city, zeroing in on the most densely populated part of downtown before landing in a deserted alleyway. I climbed off the dragon’s back and waved as she took flight once more and disappeared into the night sky, leaving only her tail flame visible.

    Watching my ride leave like that gave the whole mission an air of finality. I was here, and wasn’t leaving until I succeeded. No going back now.

    I grabbed both Pokéballs from my pocket and opened them, releasing Swift and Firestorm in a flash of light. They glanced around at the unfamiliar surroundings apprehensively.

    I took a deep breath. “I’m just letting you guys know that we’re at the base. The next time I let you out might be in a fight, so be ready to lead with Protect, okay?”

    Swift gave me a quizzical look. “*Why do you think you will have to battle?*”

    “I don’t think that,” I countered. “I mean, I’m hoping this will just be a run in, grab Chibi’s Pokéball, run out kinda deal. I just know something always goes wrong.”

    Firestorm stared pointedly. “*Then you have to let us out if you get in trouble.*”

    “I just said I was going to,” I said, laughing slightly.

    Firestorm snorted in a “sure, whatever” kind of way, and I rolled my eyes before recalling both of my Pokémon. Then I took a deep breath and stepped out of the alleyway.

    Cerulean had been full of businesses, and even the downtown area by the Rocket base felt clean and open. Celadon was…nothing like that. The alleyway opened into a dingy street lined with the seediest clubs, casinos and bars I’d ever seen. Bikers, gamblers, and the occasional Rockets filled the walkways, and I couldn’t help backing away to stay out of view. My pulse quickened. Nothing about this felt safe. I was a kid with only two Pokémon completely surrounded by adults in the shadiest place imaginable. Why did I think this was a good idea again? My limbs went rigid and refused to move, so I just stood there at the edge of the building, my mind swimming in anxiety and frustration. I hadn’t even made it to the base yet and I already had problems.

    Then again…I was visibly dressed as a Rocket. That carried a lot of weight around here, right? No one was going to bother a Rocket heading to base. I didn’t have anything to worry about.

    Nothing to worry about. I repeated it to myself three times. Finally convinced, I clenched my fists and stepped out onto the sidewalk, doing my best to appear confident and in my element despite feeling so completely out of place.

    The Rocket Game Corner looked like it was trying its hardest to stand out from its surroundings, and it was succeeding. The building, with its sleek black walls and gold and silver-painted accents combined with flashing neon signs and cheesy posters everywhere, had a fake-elegant air to it. It also had a distinct lack of graffiti—but then again, who would seriously dare to vandalize it? With how influential the Rockets were in this area and how well-known their presence was?

    I ducked around the corner of the building and scanned the wall for the members-only side entrance, spotting the card reader standing out against the black paint. I retrieved my ID from my pocket and tapped it to the reader, which flashed a green light and caused the heavy door to slide open. Beyond the door lay a dimly lit flight of stairs leading down.

    That was all it took for me, a rebel to get into Team Rocket’s base. It was almost funny how easy it was. Then again, I was only able to with Stalker’s resources. And I still had no idea how he pulled off half the things he did.

    My footsteps echoed off the walls as I descended the staircase. At the bottom, I was greeted with a red curtain—brushing it aside revealed the entrance to the base.

    The main lobby looked just as fancy as the casino above it, with black and white tile floors, large monitors along the walls, and plenty of gold-painted statues of Pokémon decorated throughout. Honestly, it sort of looked more like a lounge than the entrance to a base. But I guess it fit the mood of the area? Not to mention it was after hours and everyone was off-duty. The few Rockets in the room were laid back on the couches and chatting with each other while having a smoke. A couple of them glanced up when I entered but didn’t pay me any mind. I took that opportunity to sit down on the nearest unoccupied couch and pull out my R-com, bringing up a map of the HQ.

    This base was structured totally different from the Cerulean base. It was a lot bigger and more spread out, with fewer floors. Judging by the map, it looked like it was broken into divisions, with the main lobby, cafeteria, and acquisitions on the top floor; tech development, Pokémon experimentation and storage spaces in the second basement floor, and all the offices and quarters on the lowest floor. My eyes traced the map of the second floor, moving from one label to the next until finally settling on the experiment containment facility.

    That had to be it. Time to do this. I set off down the stairs and into the depths of the base.

    The fancy atmosphere was completely gone on the second floor and replaced with a high-tech, metallic appearance. And even with a map, the layout was confusing. The moving walkways probably made it faster for Rockets to reach their destination if they actually knew what they were doing, which I didn’t. Twice I found myself taking the wrong path at a branch and winding up in a storage room clear on the other side of the floor. Good thing there was no one else around, otherwise I’d have looked completely stupid and more than a little bit suspicious.

    Finally, I was pretty sure I’d made it to the right area. I checked the map again. Yes, this was definitely it. There was no way an ordinary grunt would ever have access to a high-security room like this. Good thing I wasn’t an ordinary grunt. I tapped my ID card on the card scanner and the door slid open.

    I flipped the light switch to reveal a room completely lined with computerized panels. The majority of the floor space was taken up by giant test tubes and strange machinery I couldn’t identify. A thin layer of dust covered most of them, although the computer workstations had clearly been used recently—unfiled paperwork and a few food wrappers sat alongside the keyboards.

    On the far side of the room stood a heavy metallic door with a small window. I walked over and peered through it to see dozens of cells that were most likely for housing Pokémon. Each cell had a bed and a feeding station, and projectors on the cell doors that looked like force field tech.

    But no one was in there. And I was so sure I’d been onto something, too.

    Kicking my feet in frustration, I turned around to try a different section of the base. That’s when I saw it: a sleek metallic case clipped to the control panel along the wall. It looked…familiar. As I approached it, recognition suddenly hit me. It was a Pokéball containment unit, like the one we’d seen on the plane. That had to be it…any experiments must have been kept in there.

    My fingers shook slightly with anticipation as I reached out to undo the latches on the sides of the case before slowly opening it. Three Pokéballs. Two of them normal. One of them black like Chibi’s ball had been. Could it be him? What were the odds?

    I clenched my teeth. Yet another instance where a Pokédex would be useful, and another instance for me to feel like an idiot for not having one. I didn’t have any way of checking the balls’ contents without opening them. And that was a huge risk.

    I stared at the Pokéballs. It was a risk I’d have to take. Otherwise this whole trip would have been pointless. I slowly reached my hand out to grab the black one, fingers trembling. I grasped the ball and tugged it free from its slot, rolling it in my palm.

    “Here goes nothing.” I pressed the button.

    A burst of black energy surged out of the ball, taking the shape of…no…no, not that one, anything but that one. A glimmering green armor-plated exoskeleton…bladed forearms…a pointed, reptilian face…

    I barely had the chance to register what I was staring at before it rushed me headlong and tackled me to the ground, knocking the Pokéball from my hand. My back slammed to the floor, sending a jolt of pain up my spine and knocking the air from my lungs, and then I immediately found myself faced with the razor edge of its scythe poised just inches from my throat.

    My brain froze up and my limbs went numb. I struggled to pull away, but the Scyther had me completely pinned. I couldn’t even make a sound—I was still coughing and sputtering from having the wind knocked from me. Stupid! Why had I let this happen?! I couldn’t do anything.

    Time seemed to crawl. I lay motionless, gasping and wheezing for air and waiting for a death that didn’t seem to want to come. All I could do was stare helplessly at my attacker’s face. Its piercing blue eyes glared back at me. And then they blinked, looking almost…skeptical. I didn’t understand. What was it waiting for?

    But…wait. When we’d fought Razors last time, its eyes had been completely blank and soulless. The fact that it even had any sort of expression at all this time…if it wasn’t just a mindless slave, but instead more like Chibi…

    I swallowed hard, trying to get better control of my breathing now that it seemed like I actually had a glimmer of hope. If I could just say something, anything, to let it know I was trying to help the experiments… But my mouth didn’t seem capable of forming any words, just random stuttering. And still the mantis held me down, considering me carefully.

    “*I remember you,*” he said slowly, the words very meticulous. “*You’re not a Rocket. What are you doing here?*” His voice was…weird. It was a complete monotone, with no emotion whatsoever.

    “I…”—damn it, why wouldn’t my voice stop shaking—“I came here to find Chibi.” It was really all the response I could give.

    The experiment surveyed me all the more intensely after I had said that. “*You know him by that name?*”

    “…Yeah?” Again, all I could figure out how to say. My heart was starting to hurt from pounding so hard.

    He paused, as though considering something that he hadn’t quite realized until now. “*So then you were the one who took him that day. But how did he end up back here?*”

    “He was taken from me,” I said, my voice a bit dead. An uneasy feeling was creeping over me from talking to him. How could I even know that he was on Chibi’s side, just because they were both experiments? Should I have even told him I was looking for Chibi?

    “*Why did you let that happen to him?*” he asked.

    “I didn’t mean to! He was just…trying to protect me…” I trailed off, again filled with the biting pain of that memory. And it was weird, but…was there an edge of concern in Razors’s voice?

    The Scyther stared at me for some time, eyes boring right through me. Sweat dripped down the sides of my face. My mouth tasted dry, and I couldn’t swallow anymore. No matter how hard I tried to stop, my eyes kept tracing the edge of the blade hovering over my throat. I just wanted him to do something. The suspense was tearing me apart.

    “*You’re obviously not on their side,*” he said thoughtfully. “*And he must have trusted you…for some reason.*”

    And then he withdrew his scythe and stepped away. I sat bolt upright immediately, coughing hard and inhaling deeply as my brain suddenly realized how little I’d been breathing for the past few minutes. My fingertips tingled with numbness, and I had to clench my fists repeatedly to regain feeling in them.

    Razors was still fixing me with an intense stare. “*Did he change…after you took him from the Rockets?*”

    I flinched. “…Yeah?”

    His eyes studied mine intently. “*That’s good.*”

    “You seem different now…compared to back then.” The words were out of my mouth before I’d even thought about them.

    A long pause followed. Something shifted in the Scyther’s eyes. They had a strange heaviness, almost like he was exhausted just thinking about it. “*Long ago, my mind was taken from me. I stopped existing, lost in a dream, unable to control my own body as my handler directed my every move. But now that I’m awake…I have memories of everything that happened during that time. When I close my eyes, I can see everything that I did while under his control.*”

    I stared. So he really had been under their control that whole time. But then…this changed everything. Chibi’s violent outburst towards Razors on the plane. The anguish he’d shown when asked about it. The two of them…they’d once been close…hadn’t they?

    “How do you have your mind right now?”

    “*This was the first time I’ve ever been let out of my ball by anyone other than my handler,*” the mantis said simply. “*He carries a device that resonates with my mind. All the experiment handlers do. It’s how they control us.*” He paused. “*The same thing happened to all the hybrids except Chibi.*”

    My face fell. “And now that he’s back here, they’re trying to do it to him too. All so that they can control Legendaries.”

    Razors nodded.

    One thing still didn’t make sense though. “What were you doing here?”

    “*I’m…not sure. I believe they borrowed me from my handler for mandatory testing. A lot of my memories are hazy. It doesn’t even feel like they’re mine. I suppose they’re not.*” I didn’t really know what to say to that. The Scyther stared downward for some time before fixing me with another piercing gaze. “*You want to find Chibi?*”

    I nodded. “I also need to get into the room where they’re keeping experiment thirty-six.”

    Razors paused, looking thoughtful. “*Then I’m coming with you.*” The way he said it made it very clear I didn’t get a choice in the matter. “*But we’ll need help finding him.*” He spun around, surveying the rest of the Pokéballs in the containment unit. “*Only two others? I thought there would be more.*” He sighed, reached out a bladed forearm, and gently tapped the front button of both Pokéballs.

    Twin flashes of light burst out of them, taking the shape of two large Pokémon—an emerald green dragon and a snowy white beast. The dragon glanced around in confusion, its dark green antennae swaying behind it. A pair of red-lensed, almost bug-like eyes fixed on Razors with an incredulous stare.

    “*Did…you let us out? Where’s your handler? What’s that human doing here?*” The Flygon froze as though he had just realized something. “*Wait…are you conscious? I thought you got your mind frozen.*”

    “*This human freed me, and wishes to free number nine,*” Razors said matter-of-factly.

    “*What??*” the Flygon blurted out, sounding completely baffled. “*The human…?*”

    “*Stay on topic. You know about Nine, right?*”

    The bladed, white-furred beast—an Absol, if I remembered correctly—stepped forward, looking unimpressed. “*What does that have to do with us?*” she said bluntly.

    “*We want to rescue him. Will you lend us your help in exchange for gaining your own freedom as well?*”

    The two experiments turned to face each other, looking completely taken aback. For several seconds they glanced back and forth between Razors and each other, almost as if they were having a wordless conversation. Finally, the two nodded to us.

    “*I heard Nine was in the Legendary control testing facility,*” the Flygon said.

    “*Then that’s where we’re going.*”





    ~End Chapter 13~
    Three new characters yaaaaaay. Adustus and Stygian already feel like old friends, but Razors has a much bigger role this time, so please look forward to it!

    ~Chibi~
    Last edited by Chibi Pika; 3rd June 2016 at 1:06 PM. Reason: forgot to tag italics



    "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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


  23. #123
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    HECK YA RAZORS!!!!! I miss that guy so much. He's just really awesome.
    It could be that I may have a bad memory, but did we get Razors' name in the plane? Because in this chapter we go from Razors being the scyther to being Razors with no introduction or anything. It kinda confused me as to how she knew his name when it wasn't told to her. Even if she had met him on the plane.
    But yay! I'm so excited the experiments are back. I think that Flygon was also one of my faves too. So many fond memories.
    I enjoyed the tiny training session and that (is it bad I forgot her name, I went looking in the chapter and did not see it mentioned once) get another Pikachu and it made her remember she needed Chibi back. I do like her feelings about going into the base by herself, it's nice to know she's gaining some confidence in herself now that she's got one successful mission under her belt whether or not she did anything.
    Not much else for me to pick on really other than I can't remember the main character's name... Because I'm bad at life or something... And the maybe randomly knowing Razors' name. But it was a good chapter and I can't wait for more interactions with the experiments and finally rescuing Chibi!!! YAAAY!!!
    jirachiman out
    Yes people, I have returned.
    Pearl FC. Arlen 1718-9710-2821
    Eat More Chicken!!! Self-proclaimed, unofficial spokesman for Chick-Fil-A.

  24. #124
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    The banner turned out great! It's definitely eye-catching, and the pokémon especially look great. And as for the chapter...

    In the end, it was Ray’s group that made the biggest difference, along with the trainers who had the Self-Destruct Pokémon. The rest of us had been there for support, but ultimately hadn’t contributed much. It was kind of expected, in a way. With thirty-six of us there, it wasn’t possible for everyone to share in the glory. The sheer numbers had just helped increase the chance that some of us could be useful. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t gotten to do much.
    I totally didn't realize it was that many people! Seems like there would be an increased danger of Rockets noticing so many... how many Rockets were there? I was picturing around two dozen.

    The little story from the Game Corner group was cute. That one kid was trying so hard!

    I mean, in way I kind of expected Team Rocket to be selling rare and valuable Pokémon, but…Larvitar?
    in *a way (spaces after ellipses! spaces after ellipses!)

    Not sure whether Rudy's failure to pick up Larvitar is a stealth reference to Ash casually carrying his around, but it made me smile.

    Jade deciding to go after Chibi after getting the pikachu felt a little abrupt to me. Stalker did mention those small missions earlier, so to me it would have felt more realistic if Jade had kind of gotten an idea of maybe using one of those missions to go after Chibi earlier, but hadn't felt confident enough to go/hadn't really been sure, and the new pikachu was what gave her the resolve to go for it, rather than her being reminded of Chibi, connecting the dots with what Stalker had said, and deciding to leave ASAP all in the space of a few paragraphs.

    Kind of funny that the rebels rescued their new pokemon from being Game Corner prizes, which means that, instead of getting handed out to random people... they get handed out to random rebels instead? Dunno that their situation changed that much. :P

    I gaped at him, feeling nothing but desperation on my face.
    That's kind of a strange way to put it. "I was sure there was nothing but desperation on my face?" I'm just not sure how you'd feel desperation on your face.

    “I’ve managed to get Wartortle down to a 30 second wait between using Protect before he can use it again. Not bad since that Stalker said 20 seconds or so is the absolute minimum. [/quote]
    A little weirdness in these two sentences. In the first, I would say wait "after" using protect rather than wait "between." In the second, I think you just want to get rid of "that."

    he said brightly giving a wave before walking off.
    Should be a comma after brightly.

    I strode down the hallway and knocked twice on the door before opening it. He was seated at his desk, reading something on his laptop, and glanced up at me when I entered.
    The second sentence is odd because "He" doesn't actually refer to Stalker here; Stalker, as a person, hasn't actually been mentioned at all before in this paragraph, so the "he" has nothing to refer to. (You could just replace it with "Stalker" and it would be fine.)

    unfiled paperwork and a few food wrappers sat alongside the keyboards.
    ah yes scientists in their natural habitat

    Chibi’s violent outburst towards Razors on the plane. The anguish he’d shown when asked about it. The two of them…they’d once been close…hadn’t they?
    I don't remember his violent outburst towards Razors on the plane? I went back and re-read, and it seemed like a normal enough battle between the two of them, but maybe it was in a spot I didn't remember? I also don't remember Jade asking him about it... I would guess that would be on the S.S. Anne, but again, looking back at their talk there I don't see where Razors gets mentioned at all?

    Just a transitional chapter here, which is appropriate after the high action of the last one. I feel like there's still more to resolve from what Jade saw there, but I imagine that's coming after this bit with Chibi. Not a great deal to say here, really; this chapter was fine to move the story along, I didn't get much of a read on the absol or flygon, which I assume are going to be major characters based on your banner, but they were only around for like three sentences each anyway so that's fine, and I liked the little bit about how the Celadon base is different than the one in Cerulean. Lots of nice little details in that segment.

    I'm guessing Exeriment 36 is Mewtwo? I preemptively approve. >

    I notice that several of Jade's pokémon can mega evolve, and I know you're going to be bringing in mega evolution at some point with Mew... makes me wonder whether we might see anybody on Jade's team eventually get to take advantage of that.

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

    Banner by Sworn Metalhead of Dćdric Design




  25. #125
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    jirachiman876:
    HECK YA RAZORS!!!!! I miss that guy so much. He's just really awesome.
    I missed him too, the experiments are some of my favorites.
    It could be that I may have a bad memory, but did we get Razors' name in the plane? Because in this chapter we go from Razors being the scyther to being Razors with no introduction or anything. It kinda confused me as to how she knew his name when it wasn't told to her. Even if she had met him on the plane.
    At first I was concerned if this was one of those things where I thought I had dropped a bit of info but actually didn't...but no! Tyson called out Razors' name when he sent him out at the start of the battle.
    Not much else for me to pick on really other than I can't remember the main character's name...
    It...actually has been a while since Jade's name came up, hasn't it? I think because I don't address people by name very often irl. I'll need to keep that in mind from now on. :P


    Negrek:
    I totally didn't realize it was that many people! Seems like there would be an increased danger of Rockets noticing so many... how many Rockets were there? I was picturing around two dozen.
    Maybe, but the majority of the rebels spent their time slinking around the trees in the dark, and only like 3-5 ever got close to the main battle area. The next mission will of course be in broad daylight. :P
    The little story from the Game Corner group was cute. That one kid was trying so hard!
    That was a random last-minute addition, but I had a lot of fun with it. ^^ Made the scene a lot more entertaining.
    Jade deciding to go after Chibi after getting the pikachu felt a little abrupt to me. Stalker did mention those small missions earlier, so to me it would have felt more realistic if Jade had kind of gotten an idea of maybe using one of those missions to go after Chibi earlier, but hadn't felt confident enough to go/hadn't really been sure, and the new pikachu was what gave her the resolve to go for it, rather than her being reminded of Chibi, connecting the dots with what Stalker had said, and deciding to leave ASAP all in the space of a few paragraphs.
    Hmm, that's a good point, I could definitely afford to smooth that out a bit more later.
    Kind of funny that the rebels rescued their new pokemon from being Game Corner prizes, which means that, instead of getting handed out to random people... they get handed out to random rebels instead? Dunno that their situation changed that much. :P
    Oh yes, that was definitely intentional. xP Noble rescuers saving Pokemon from a terrible fate and totally not just taking them cause they want them or anything.
    That's kind of a strange way to put it. "I was sure there was nothing but desperation on my face?" I'm just not sure how you'd feel desperation on your face.
    Dammit that sentence bothered me every time I read it and for some reason I never fixed it. x.X
    I don't remember his violent outburst towards Razors on the plane? I went back and re-read, and it seemed like a normal enough battle between the two of them, but maybe it was in a spot I didn't remember? I also don't remember Jade asking him about it... I would guess that would be on the S.S. Anne, but again, looking back at their talk there I don't see where Razors gets mentioned at all?
    That...is definitely something I could stand to make more obvious. If I recall correctly, it was implied that Chibi was ignoring the other experiments in the battle and only going after Razors / attacked the protagonists when they tried to intervene? And Jade was vagueing pretty hard in the S.S. Anne conversation, and was mostly talking about his suicide attempt. Chibi made a sideways reference to Razors but Jade didn't catch it, therefore the reader wouldn't.
    I'm guessing Exeriment 36 is Mewtwo? I preemptively approve.
    whaaaaat spooooileerrssss

    (Yes, it's Mewtwo. The fic treats it as a mystery but I know everyone knows. :P I gave it like zero foreshadowing in the old version was just like "oh btw here's Mewtwo nbd" so I'm fixing that with a lot of buildup this time around.)
    I notice that several of Jade's pokémon can mega evolve, and I know you're going to be bringing in mega evolution at some point with Mew... makes me wonder whether we might see anybody on Jade's team eventually get to take advantage of that.
    I actually only noticed that because of the banner as well. :P It's something I'm still debating, so it could go either way. Most of the mega evolutions currently planned are antagonists or Legendaries (or both.)



    Thanks for the reviews! I'm actually writing chapters 14 and 15 together because they kind of flow straight into each other and I haven't worked out the split point yet. I'm about ten pages in on the pair of them. I don't think I'll wait until both are done until 14 is posted, though...just until most of 15 is done.

    ~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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    August 1 Update: CHAPTER 14: “Double Agents” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 15 progress: 8/10 pages


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