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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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    11/02/16: CHAPTER 10: “Welcome to Team Rocket” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 11 progress: 1/8 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; 9th December 2015 at 12:23 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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    11/02/16: CHAPTER 10: “Welcome to Team Rocket” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 11 progress: 1/8 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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    11/02/16: CHAPTER 10: “Welcome to Team Rocket” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 11 progress: 1/8 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.

  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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    11/02/16: CHAPTER 10: “Welcome to Team Rocket” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 11 progress: 1/8 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 3:29 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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    11/02/16: CHAPTER 10: “Welcome to Team Rocket” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 11 progress: 1/8 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.

  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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    11/02/16: CHAPTER 10: “Welcome to Team Rocket” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 11 progress: 1/8 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?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    11/02/16: CHAPTER 10: “Welcome to Team Rocket” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 11 progress: 1/8 pages



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