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Thread: Survival Project (PG-13)

  1. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    Thanks for all the comments again, guys!

    So I've decided that I'll be writing the remainder of Survival Project for this year's upcoming NaNoWriMo. I chose this because I wanted to participate for the second year in a row, and starting something else would pretty much ensure that I'd never finish this, and I really do want to finish this fic. Whether or not I'll succeed is up in the air, of course, and this means tons of editing may be happening, but at the very least, this means that the fic will be planned out from this chapter until the end. The fic will have a total of ~30 chapters if all goes according to plan, so we're about halfway there. Wish me luck, and I'll see you all in the beginning of November with a new chapter.
    I wish you luck. I'm going to try the same with The Angel of Reckoning.


    SURVIVAL PROJECT

    chapter 11 ; [RENNIO]
    stranger

    *
    I'm glad we get to see things through Rennio's eyes immediately after Ezrem's chapter. I think that is very important.

    I still remember her like it was yesterday. She had long, flowing blonde hair, green eyes. Her love for us pokémon had no boundaries. She found beauty in all things, even the things that made people cringe when she talked about them, like philosophy and math. She was the first person I saw when I hatched from my egg. Where she got that egg, I never knew, but it was all I could do to thank her for retrieving it.

    It was yesterday. In my mind. In my dreams. In my hopes, in my fears.

    She asked me once, “If you were to think about it, would you predict that you’d have more fears than hopes, or more hopes than fears?”

    Back then, I didn’t have to think about it.

    Now, I think too much.

    Yes, I remember her like it was yesterday… I remember even the little things that I observed over the years. She refused to sleep on her sides, so as to never leave her back wide open. She only spoke of Arceus to those who didn’t believe, again, to make them cringe all out of good fun. She never looked at the ground or at the sky as she walked, because she wasn’t afraid of the never-ending path in front of her.
    This section does a wonderful job of telling us about Rennio's late trainer. You've supplied the reader with enough for a clear picture of the trainer to be formed - for me, I see her appearance quite clearly and I can easily visualize the personality traits you've described.

    My favorite memory was when she embraced me. She made it look like a normal hug, made it feel like a stronghold.

    And it’s all so ironic, I know. I think too much about it now, these fears that outweigh my hopes.

    It’s ironic because… the one time she truly needed me, I let her go.
    Thanks for putting up this flag now. Now I know to be ready for my heartstrings to be pulled.

    Annie.

    My first thought amongst the chaos.

    We were simply out getting wood to build our own fire—and when we found it, all we wanted to do was get rid of it and run. It was just extra fuel for the fire heading our way, after all…

    Fire!

    I had to do a double take before I realized that, yes, there really was one coming our way. The crackling sound that I had heard so many times before on our journey now rang through my ears and tormented me relentlessly. The flames were taller than I’d ever seen them before, and the air smelled burnt, crisp, sharp. My senses were exhausted in a matter of seconds. I stood there, confused and dazed, wondering if I was in a dream…

    Annie. Fire!

    Annie, we have no water-type pokémon, we’re nowhere near the exit or entrance, and there’s nothing but more trees surrounding us, more fuel…


    Something had to be done, but judging by our clear lack of action, everyone was thinking the same things as me and no one knew what to do. The fire was growing larger and coming closer to us with every passing second. Closer, closer.
    Rennio's desperation really shines through here.

    “What are those things that are always in your mouth?” I asked once. We were just beginning our journey to Johto, as we were on the boat that would lead us to the renowned region. Though I had been traveling with her for quite some time, I had never questioned her about her peculiar eating habit.

    She grabbed another spoonful of berries for me and placed them in my mouth. I smiled as I chewed in order to thank her. I was old enough to feed myself, yet she was always insisting on me being the baby of the group, the one who received all the extra special attention. I was grateful for the care, and so I thanked her for every bite.
    For some reason I like the little touch of Annie treating Rennio as the baby of the group. I can't put my finger on why, but I like it.

    “They’re called cigarettes,” she said, starting to prepare another mouthful for me.

    “Can I have one?” I asked, swallowing the food in my mouth. “They must taste good if you have them all the time.”

    “Nope, you can’t,” she said, smiling to herself. She put the white stick in her mouth once more and then removed it, a puff of smoke following behind. She always did this, over and over, until she had completely gone through the stick.

    “Why not?”

    “They’re not good for pokémon, and I can’t have my baby having something that isn’t good for him, right?”
    I like this detail, too. A lot of stories tend to romanticize Pokemon trainers to some degree, so to see a character engaging in a trivial vice helps it stand out, I think. Her way of telling Rennio that he can't have one is really cute, too.

    Perhaps this is also massive coincidence considering how she died...

    “I guess not… What about the others?” I questioned, wondering if I would be jealous of the others for once instead of it being the other way around.

    “They don’t get one, either.”

    She continued feeding me the berries, spoonful by spoonful. I sat there and watched her smoke quietly, wondering what the taste was like, the texture, the feeling that she had when the eating session both started and ended. I supposed I would never know.

    When she was done, she took out a device which sparked a bit of fire, and started all over again.
    I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but one of your absolute strongest suits is how you humanize the Pokemon. I never thought I'd be reading a line in which a Pokemon thinks about what smoking a cigarette is like, but seeing something so casual through the eyes of a Pokemon is something I like very much.

    Of course, this isn't going to keep going so well for Rennio, we already know that.

    Fire.

    That’s what must have happened. Annie must have dropped one of her cigarettes after lighting it on fire, dropped it, and left it there. There was no other explanation in my eyes. Because of her sudden carelessness, we were all stuck in this mess.
    I knew the cigarettes would be connected at least vaguely to the fire, but if this is actually why it was caused, I'm surprised. I didn't expect that.

    I forgave her instantly, though my body said otherwise. I wanted to stay, but my legs were quickly starting to betray me. My knees felt as if they were going to buckle at any moment, or turn and start heading in the other direction.

    It was always this way. My thoughts were much different than my actions. Why couldn’t my mind and body just cooperate? Why was I such a baby on the outside and then so sure of myself on the inside? Wasn’t the mind supposed to send signals to the brain which would in turn send signals to the body? Or something like that? I remembered Annie telling me once. But it just didn’t ring true for me.

    I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay and protect her, protect those green eyes in a fire that was turning everything gray.

    But I was the first to run.

    Annie.
    Okay, at this point, I can't imagine how Sai's treatment of Rennio is going to help at all. Rennio's got some real, legitimate issues, and he needs someone who can help him deal with the things that have happened.

    The other pokémon on the team, particularly Ezrem, always liked to make fun of the day that I was born. Hatching from the egg and not being able to understand their taunting language was apparently amusing. And apparently, the first thing that I was told was my name.

    When I hatched from my egg, the last thing that I wanted to hear about was my name. I was hungry and I was cold, so I wanted food and warmth right away. I could no longer turn to my egg to sustain me, so I had to find these things elsewhere. But on top of my basic necessities, I was overwhelmed with a sense of confusion. The only thing recognizable to me was voices, since I could hear them inside the egg. The other pokémon surrounding me were foreign, and so were my surroundings. Where was I? Was I supposed to be where I already was, or was some other place waiting for me? Did I hatch too soon, too late?
    You know, this is amazingly realistic too. Seeing these events through Rennio's eyes is, once again, a very important part of that. We often see the birth of Pokemon from Eggs, but primarily the angle presented is that of the excited trainer. Instead, here we see a Pokemon that isn't all that thrilled to be outside his Egg for the first time, which by itself is unique. Building on that by using it to further Rennio's known relationship to Annie, Ezrem and the others makes it an even more interesting scene.

    Despite my needs, Annie did not feed me or hold me or tell me where I was. Again, I was informed that the first thing she did was tell me my name.
    I can't help but wonder if this is a sort of lampshading of how a Pokemon can hatch from an Egg, be nicknamed and get sent immediately into battles in the games.

    “Rennio. Your name is Rennio,” she said. She beamed at me, along with the rest of her pokémon, all of which were foreign to me. They were whispering amongst themselves, however—or making fun of me, of course—so I assumed they must have known me somehow. I didn’t know what their names were, so I just stared at them. Their words mean nothing to me.

    “Renee was my littlest sister’s name, and the end of your name makes it sound a little more boyish. It’s perfect for my new baby pokémon!” she said ecstatically.

    At first, I couldn’t understand. But as Ezrem told me the story once when he felt like teasing me, I began to comprehend the situation’s significance. One of the first things a baby does when it’s born is try to figure out if the world is a safe place. Is the world trustworthy? Are people trustworthy? Annie didn’t feed me or hold me or tell me I could feel safe, but giving me a name and explaining its origin provided me with a sense of relief. That was her way of telling me that she was trustworthy. She knew I existed, and she loved and valued my existence enough to give me an identity.

    My hunger and desire for warmth waited, and that was fine. I didn’t know much of anything at the time, but I felt safe here. And that was enough.

    Rennio.
    That's actually a good little bit of philosophy that I wasn't expecting. It's also very true, what you say about figuring out if the world is a safe place. You wrote this part very well, also, which brings together all your thoughts into a very appealing package.

    “Rennio!”

    I heard her cry my name as soon as I started dashing in the opposite direction. I knew it then, I knew I should have stayed. But what else could I do? What was more important, her existence or my existence? Ezrem had told me so many times, so many times: I was the last of my species. If I were to die, there would never be another elekid or electabuzz or electivire.
    Wow, my respect for Ezrem just took a huge hit, at least for now.

    I would take that as a credit to you as a writer, though - it's not easy to so drastically make readers feel differently about characters by simply changing the viewpoint that events are seen through.

    This belief of almost being extinct had frozen my very being many times in the past. Because of this fear, I was unable to participate in battles, since there was always the possibility being hurt beyond repair. Because of this fear, death consumed my thoughts even in the safest of situations. Because of this fear, it was my goal in life to just be able to survive or create another one of my species.
    I can already see this presenting problems with Sai.

    But I was also able to understand the significance of oneself and others because of this fear. I knew that without my trainer, I could not have come as far I had. She was one who had nurtured me from the very start, and it was extremely important for me to repay my debt to her somehow. In the old days, I would usually just continue to be her baby pokémon, since that’s what she wanted, that was what she was content with. Occasionally I’d have to be with her when she cried, and I’d cheer her on in battles from the sidelines…

    But because of this fear, I also ran away from my trainer when she needed me most.

    I ran past the tree branches that fell to the ground, trying to block my escape. My legs were short and, due to the quick pace that I was running at, started to ache soon after my dash. Despite this, I kept on going, and I didn’t dare to look back, knowing that I’d have more regrets if I did.

    To be honest, I had no idea where I was going, or even if I was truly saving myself. I just knew that standing still was not the answer unless I wanted death to come, which I certainly didn’t.

    I ran. The fire was closer than ever before now, and smoke was starting to invade my lungs every time I tried to inhale. My body tried to stop itself a few times so I could cough, but I wouldn’t have any of it. I kept trudging forward despite myself, wavering from side to side as I did. Because of this, I got scorched by the fire a bit, and bumped into a few trees that were simply waiting to be devoured. I couldn’t see where I was going at all.

    Moments like these are recalled as blurs because everything looks the same, no matter how you think of it. There were flames everywhere I looked, I was scared no matter where I was, and I alone everywhere I ended up. So I have no idea how I made it to the end of the forest, the opposite side from where we entered. All I knew was that I must have been running an awfully long time with an awfully large stroke of luck following shortly behind. All I knew was that my startled eyes and burnt body and shrieking self must have alerted the guards at the building, because they soon ran into the forest themselves and put out the fire.

    They scoured the entire forest from top to bottom. It wasn’t hard, given the destruction. But in the end, only Ezrem and I were found. Annie and the others were nowhere to be seen.
    My stomach actually turned while I read that. Even though it was only a few paragraphs, the sheer horror that Rennio felt came right through, and I felt it.

    A game.

    Ring around the rosie, she called it.

    The goal was to make yourself dizzy by spinning in a circle with other people in the group, ones you were holding hands with. Then, at the end, you were all supposed to fall together, laughing.

    But she said—ashes, ashes.

    She said she’d never let me fall, no matter what.

    It was just a game. A kid’s game, one she didn’t expect me to understand.

    I knew what she meant, deep down.
    This part comes a little out of nowhere, but... it's just depressing to read after what just happened. The way something childish and innocent can be used to illustrate both a happier time and the horrors of a tragedy is very unsettling.

    She left through ashes; I fell without laughing.

    And remembering hurts.

    I’m done.
    Oh God, that just rubs it in...

    But I can at least remember Ezrem without pain engulfing me. Ezrem, who has always been by my side. Even when he was teasing me, I knew that he wouldn’t betray me for anything. And now that it was just the two of us, our bond was that much stronger.

    I often wondered what would have happened had he passed away in the fire with everyone else. With me being far too dependent on others, I can’t imagine that things would have gone well. I may have been crying forever, I may have gotten tangled up with a bad trainer, I may have gone off to die somewhere by myself due to some misfortune that I didn’t see coming…
    I would dare to say something he didn't see coming arrived at his doorstep in the form of Sai.

    One day, I returned with berries and simply told Ezrem, “I’m scared.”

    He motioned for me to open my hands and dug his beak into the pile. Halfway through, he pulled back, finally realizing that I had said something.

    “Scared of what?”

    I signed. If anyone should know what I’m scared of, it should be Ezrem. “What if I die before I’m able to keep my species from going extinct?” I asked.

    “Well,” Ezrem said, swallowing though he had no berry in his mouth, “you just can’t think like that, okay?”

    “Why not? It’s entirely possible.”

    “If you let the fear consume you, you are destined to fail!”
    You could just tell him the truth, Ezrem...

    “I suppose.” I paused. He was probably waiting for me to say something more, but I couldn’t think of anything. I stared at the berries, and then said awkwardly, “Will you… feed me?”

    “Feed you?” Ezrem stared at me, perplexed. “Rennio, you’re not a baby anymore!”

    “She used to feed me. Annie did.”

    Ezrem snickered, but I knew that he was just hiding the pain that came with me saying her name. He dug his beak into my hands again, pulling back and taking a berry from my hand. He leaned in toward me, seemingly handing it to me, but he moved back again and chewed it himself. I stood there, disappointed, but it wasn’t like I wasn’t expecting it.

    “Listen, Rennio!” he said after he finished the berry. “I’ll tell you what. You need more confidence. I want to teach you a catchphrase that you can have.”

    “A catchphrase?” I said, dumbfounded.

    “A catchphrase. Every time you battle a pokémon, you must say you have come back to the world! Every time you come back from getting food and water, you must say you have come back to the world. As time goes on you’ll say it in more and more situations. This will let everyone around you, including yourself, know that you are, indeed, alive, and that the elekid line lives on. Do you understand?”
    So that's how that line came about... suddenly it's not so funny anymore.

    I really feel bad for these two. They've gone through so much they don't deserve...

    An unknown amount of time passed before the day we found Sai, before I felt like I really had returned to the world.

    When I came back from searching for berries and shouting my silly catchphrase, I was expecting to find Ezrem still hiding behind bushes, watching. When I saw that instead, he was actually interacting with a trainer, I knew that something special was happening. Ezrem had finally found and picked someone!

    I wasn’t expecting, however, to be attacked by another pokémon. And I wasn’t expecting Ezrem to get rejected, and for me to be welcomed with open arms. And I wasn’t expecting for the new trainer to try to take my name away.

    Overall, I was overcome with mixed emotions. I knew that a trainer battling wild pokémon to capture them was fairly ordinary, but it had just never happened to me, so I wasn’t prepared in the slightest. The idea to defend myself hadn’t come to me; I let Ezrem do all the work to protect me, as usual. And when he was rejected despite his noble actions, I thought about unfair it was to him—after all his hard work, he had finally come to a decision only to be shut down. My heart ached for him, but there was nothing I could think of that would help him except to go along with Sai like he requested.

    And that’s exactly what I did. I trusted Ezrem’s judgment, his reasoning. Even after Sai told me I had no name, I decided that he was an ideal trainer. I was okay with not having a name in his eyes as long as I knew my own true self, and as long as Ezrem knew who I was, too. I would continue to identify myself the way Annie identified me, so that her memory could live on.

    It was the least I could do for her.
    I don't know what it is exactly but something about this just doesn't feel right to me. Rennio deserves to be treated better than this and Ezrem is being left completely out in the cold, and neither of their situations sounds like anything Annie would have wanted. Earlier, Rennio expressed a fear of ending up with a bad trainer. I don't really understand how he can have that fear and then decide Sai is an ideal trainer even though he stripped Rennio of his name. That should be a huge red flag.

    And just like that, Ezrem and I found ourselves making our way to Goldenrod City for the second time. This time was, of course, much different. We were with different pokémon, a different trainer… We were with complete strangers. The air was slightly tenser, for some reason I could not decipher just by looking at or making small talk with the strangers. Perhaps they had just gone through some ordeal, too, though I could not imagine anything as bad as our story.

    The atmosphere was also much quieter. With Annie, we were always talking about something or another. Since she could understand us after being with us for such a long time, there was never a dull moment with her. I decided, then, to try to get to know my new teammates, my new trainer.

    “Why don’t you guys tell us something about yourselves?” I said, talking to anyone who was willing to listen. I motioned over to Ezrem, making sure to include him in the conversations, too.

    The three pokémon introduced themselves as Senori, Kuiora, and Atis. The names would be difficult to remember, but I’m sure I would learn them in time. I supposed that meant that he still thought I had no name, but he didn’t say anything in protest.

    “Another trainer that gives their pokémon funny names!” Ezrem cried, keeping up with the rest of the group, just as he had promised me. I looked up at Sai, and noticed that he was still ignoring Ezrem—even more so, as he wouldn’t so much as glance at the bird.

    “I do not have a funny name, thank you very much. I think it’s quite pretty,” Kuiora said, putting her small hands on her hips and glaring at Ezrem.

    “It’s hardly what I’d call pretty.”

    “You just say that before you’re a boy, and things aren’t pretty to you,” Kuiora retorted.
    The arguing between them is pretty funny and a welcome distraction from the depressing events earlier.

    “Sai,” I said, noticing our trainer hadn’t said much, either, despite being able to understand us, “where do you get your names for us, then?”

    “I… I knew some people with the same names. I don’t know many other names or anything, so I use them,” Sai said, looking down at me. He tried to smile but failed, as if he were recalling some painful memory. His answer seemed simple yet weird in my eyes for some reason I couldn’t explain, so I didn’t press him, either. Yes, there certainly was some pain surrounding this group, pain I didn’t know about yet. I was sure it was just another thing I’d learn in time.
    Something about Sai just opening up like this strikes me as odd. I'm surprised that he wasn't hesitant to share these things all that much.

    If it were up to me, suffering wouldn’t exist. But it’s part of what makes us who we are, and personally, I was glad to find others who had experienced pain just like I had. So far, my journey with our new trainer seemed hopeful; it seemed like it would be a journey toward healing and peace.

    I smiled at Sai. When it looked like he didn’t know how to respond, I said, “It was nice to meet you.”

    “It was nice to have met you, too…” said Sai, offering a slight smile back.

    “I had a trainer once before,” I said rather impulsively, catching myself off guard since I hadn’t talked about Annie to anyone except Ezrem. “She was really nice.”

    “Yeah? Maybe she can travel with us sometime if we run into her,” Sai said, suddenly appearing hopeful and excited. I didn’t blame him, I really didn’t—Annie would be a great traveling companion if she were alive—but his words stung.
    I wonder if this is going to lead into some much-needed development between Sai, Ezrem and Rennio. Their relationship could use some, I think.

    Occasionally, a wild pokémon would attack and I would get to see my new teammates battle. While they seemed somewhat strong, I knew that had a long way to go compared to me and Ezrem. I vaguely wondered how impressed Sai would be once he battled with us (assuming he’d eventually warm up to Ezrem and want him on the team), but I was also overly pleased with the fact that he didn’t ask me to fight even once. A fear of battling accompanied my fear of death and injury, so I didn’t want to fight if I could help it. Annie never made me do anything I didn’t want to, but with Sai, it could have been different. I supposed I would have to wait and see.
    Quick note first: "I knew that had a long way to go compared to me and Ezrem?" It looks like a word is missing from there.

    Anyway, I predicted this would probably come up. Sai is not going to let Rennio off without ever battling. It's only a matter of time.

    I noticed that Sai fed us plenty of food and made sure we were satisfied with a place to sleep. A few peaceful nights passed before we neared the end of the forest. Given mine and Ezrem’s past, I was also relieved about how our trek through Ilex Forest was rather uneventful. The only thing that particularly stood out to me was the damaged areas of the forest. They brought back haunting memories, mixed feelings, and an overwhelming desire to leave. Luckily, that’s exactly what we were going to do, and soon, I knew, since I recognized the forest’s exit. When we were close enough, I turned one final time to the destruction that caused me so much anguish, and said good-bye. I pretended to be walking beside Annie as I believed I was returning to the world, to our journey, starting with Goldenrod City.
    A strong close; it feels right to talk like this at the end, because it's not just the end of a chapter. It's also the end of Rennio's suffering (hopefully) and the end of Rennio and Ezrem living in Annie's shadow.

    Overall, a very enjoyable chapter. The writing quality was strong throughout, but there are parts where it becomes even more excellent than usual; those sections of exceedingly good writing form the center of your primary strength. Taken together with the previous chapter, these events play out as one very gut-wrenching ordeal. Both Ezrem and Rennio are compelling characters with both positive and negative traits, which makes them welcome additions to the cast. My only disappointment is that Annie is a posthumous character, because she seems like someone who would have been very enjoyable to read.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 22nd October 2012 at 10:29 AM.

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  2. #127
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    18th paragraph from the bottom (when they are talking about names);

    “You just say that before you’re a boy, and things aren’t pretty to you,” Kuiora retorted.
    I think you meant because, I haven't seen any other errors that haven't been pointed out yet


    ^You ever have that moment you realize you forgot to give credit? Sorry Irra!!^

  3. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I wish you luck. I'm going to try the same with The Angel of Reckoning.
    Good luck to you as well!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Thanks for putting up this flag now. Now I know to be ready for my heartstrings to be pulled.
    LOL, no problem. It’s what I do.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Rennio's desperation really shines through here.
    I always thought that part was a bit lacking but I wasn’t sure how, so I’m glad you thought otherwise.

    Also, I’m not sure why the rest of the chapter is quoted in your comment, but something tells me you didn’t get to finish reading yet? Either way, thanks for commenting! LOL.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonicwari View Post
    18th paragraph from the bottom (when they are talking about names);



    I think you meant because, I haven't seen any other errors that haven't been pointed out yet
    Oh dear, thanks for pointing that out. Will fix now.

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  4. #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    Also, I’m not sure why the rest of the chapter is quoted in your comment, but something tells me you didn’t get to finish reading yet? Either way, thanks for commenting! LOL.
    Yeah, that's what happened. I got very tired while doing the review and I didn't want to give you a low-quality one.

    I've edited the rest of the review in, so please have a look.

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  5. #130
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    I like this detail, too. A lot of stories tend to romanticize Pokemon trainers to some degree, so to see a character engaging in a trivial vice helps it stand out, I think. Her way of telling Rennio that he can't have one is really cute, too.
    I agree that a lot of fics romanticize trainers, so I’m glad you thought this helped Annie stand out. In a way I’m also a bit disappointed she isn’t a recurring character.

    I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but one of your absolute strongest suits is how you humanize the Pokemon. I never thought I'd be reading a line in which a Pokemon thinks about what smoking a cigarette is like, but seeing something so casual through the eyes of a Pokemon is something I like very much.
    Thanks for the compliment. I usually worry about not making pokémon have enough animal-like qualities because they just naturally come to me as humanized creatures. So it’s good to know someone likes the way I represent them.

    I can't help but wonder if this is a sort of lampshading of how a Pokemon can hatch from an Egg, be nicknamed and get sent immediately into battles in the games.
    It is, lol… I actually talked with a friend about how unrealistic that seemed while writing this chapter.

    I would take that as a credit to you as a writer, though - it's not easy to so drastically make readers feel differently about characters by simply changing the viewpoint that events are seen through.
    Well, thanks for the compliment again! I’m glad to see that you like that part of my writing as well since I usually interpret your changing viewpoints of the characters (specifically Sai) as a negative thing.

    I don't know what it is exactly but something about this just doesn't feel right to me. Rennio deserves to be treated better than this and Ezrem is being left completely out in the cold, and neither of their situations sounds like anything Annie would have wanted. Earlier, Rennio expressed a fear of ending up with a bad trainer. I don't really understand how he can have that fear and then decide Sai is an ideal trainer even though he stripped Rennio of his name. That should be a huge red flag.
    Rennio decides to trust Sai as a trainer simply because Ezrem does. And there’ll definitely be more development between the three of them that will help change this.

    Thanks for commenting! Your reviews are always nice to read and very helpful.

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  6. #131
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    Chapter 10


    just because she was the type of person that made you enjoy your name just because of the way she said it
    That was very nicely written. I can relate to that in a big way. When my wife says my name in the street, at a store, or whenever, it gives me this warmth that starts in my stomach and radiates outward. I'm getting the feeling that someone you know IRL does this for you as well, because to me, the only way you would know to write that is if you've experienced it before. You certainly have a knack for feelings and getting people to pay attention to them because I've been stuck on that sentence for almost five minutes lol. Nicely done

    and therefore she was also easy to manipulate.
    That was um, unexpected

    I wanted to travel through the future so that my journey with her could finally be over, and I could permanently find a place I could call home.
    I liked that portion quite a bit as well. Obviously Ezrem is savy enough to manipulate his trainer into doing what he wants, and to me he's coming off as being capable of being vicious about it, but the quoted portion above suggests an almost child-like demeanor that clashes with a personality that's certainly adult. It's a weird mix that I'm liking.

    despite the fact that I can never be formally caught. My old pokéball was out there somewhere, but if Sai was the one, he would be okay with that…
    I would have been angry if you hadn't brought that up because that's the first thing that came to my mind once the story of Ezrem's trainer came up. Nice

    After I dropped it to the ground, I started jumping up and down, up and down to show my excitement. But still, Sai’s facial expression was blink, his body limp.
    I would have loved to have seen that haha. I pictured it quite clearly in my mind, and though you ended it with Ezrem stopping and speaking with Sai, I could see him tackling Sai and screaming, "DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND HOW EXCITED I AM?!?! SEE HOW IM FLAPPING AROUND, MORON?!?!" Especially since his apparent dreams may be coming to fruition and he can't do anything about it lol

    “He can understand you,” the sentret replied automatically, emotionlessly.

    “He can?” I asked just as automatically.
    Hmm, you might consider getting rid of one of the automatically's. It read weird to me and made me stop

    I heard a crackling sound and a distinct humming noise.
    That was awesome. I can picturing him sounding like a powered up electrical transformer. That would get extremely annoying.

    hug the poor electric-type
    I know for sure this is the second, and possibly the third time you've referred to Rennio as the 'poor' electric type. I can see why you use that word because of his story and demeanor, but surely someone as wordy as you can come up with a different way to describe him rather than repeating the same one again and again.

    Chapter 11


    She never looked at the ground or at the sky as she walked, because she wasn’t afraid of the never-ending path in front of her.
    Awesome awesome...Sometimes I wonder who you're describing when you write things like this. I suppose it's easier for me to believe that you are drawing out these passages from people you know rather than you are truely this fantastic of a writer, but in all seriousness, wow. I couldn't have come up with that kind of passage if I tried. Nicely done

    But I was the first to run.
    Hmm, Rennio has a few qualities reminiscent of Senori and the guilt he carries. Though Senori is much more up front about it. I'm not sure whether it has to do with Rennio's age and inexperience or maturity level, but I do have the feeling that these side issues are going to get bigger and bigger as the story progresses. Hopefully Senori can help him with that, but at the same time Senori may be too introverted to help. Or I may be totally off base with my thinking here. Meh, I suppose you and I are continuing our tradition of commenting on something that we both think doesn't make sense to the other haha

    Ezrem had told me so many times, so many times: I was the last of my species. If I were to die, there would never be another elekid or electabuzz or electivire.
    That really makes me hate Ezrem

    And remembering hurts.
    More so than knives. Such a simplistic sentence, but you still drive a point home even just using three words

    there was always the hope in the back of our minds that said Annie would come back for us someday, somehow.
    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that hope only exists with one of them

    “Will you… feed me?”
    That was awesome too lol. Hugging that defense of Annie when he's scared and hoping that Ezrem could somehow fill in that role. Out of both chapter ten and eleven, the quoted portion is by far my favorite.

    “I… I knew some people with the same names. I don’t know many other names or anything, so I use them,” Sai said, looking down at me.
    Once again you're able to reveal something without revealing anything at all lol. My 'Sai used to be a Pokemon' theory is gone for the moment and I've formulated a new one that I'm going to keep close for awhile. The 'people' he used did it for me. People refer to other people as people, and it just seems odd to me that a Pokemon would do it when referring to other Pokemon. Hell, I'm probably still wrong lol, but that's what's fun about it. *Sigh* <---- Can be read two different ways haha

    Well, two very good chapters as always. I'm surprised you added both new characters so quickly, but you were able to do it smoothly and I liked how you filled it up with such an impressive and emotional backstory (more from Rennio's side than Ezram's, but still) I'm looking forward to see what's going to happen in Goldenrod especially since you said that you'll have a new chapter up soon, and yes in the back of my mind I want Sai to punch Ezrem very hard across the beak lol.

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  7. #132
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    Yes, I remember her like it was yesterday… I remember even the little things that I observed over the years. She refused to sleep on her sides, so as to never leave her back wide open. She only spoke of Arceus to those who didn’t believe, again, to make them cringe all out of good fun. She never looked at the ground or at the sky as she walked, because she wasn’t afraid of the never-ending path in front of her.
    As per usual, impeccable description and characterization. I can totally see the former trainer a real person by this point. Mischievous in a harmless sort of way and philosophical and fun-loving. It'll be interesting when she meets Sai because, like I said, I'm sure she isn't dead.

    When she was done, she took out a device which sparked a bit of fire, and started all over again.
    Hmmm...what an interesting little detail. How is that going to come back into play? Nice foreshadowing!

    I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay and protect her, protect those green eyes in a fire that was turning everything gray.

    But I was the first to run.

    Annie.
    Gorgeous dialogue here. This isn't quite the dopey, silly, "Rennio is back to the world!" Elekid we met last chapter.

    My hunger and desire for warmth waited, and that was fine. I didn’t know much of anything at the time, but I felt safe here. And that was enough.
    I might be making something up that isn't your intention, but the juxtaposition of Rennio's longing for warmth against the fire that killed the girl he cared so much for is really nice. There's all this... "The fire was bad, the fire was bad!", and then there is "I just wanted to be warm". And when that was what he wanted, Annie kept it from him. Later, the warmth (the fire) took Annie from him. I dunno. It's working really well in my head.

    This belief of almost being extinct had frozen my very being many times in the past. Because of this fear, I was unable to participate in battles, since there was always the possibility being hurt beyond repair. Because of this fear, death consumed my thoughts even in the safest of situations. Because of this fear, it was my goal in life to just be able to survive or create another one of my species.
    Again, this conflicts heavily with the seemingly happy-go-lucky, dopey Rennio we were introduced to last chapter. I wonder why he acts like that when he is, in truth, much darker inside,.

    All I knew was that I must have been running an awfully long time with an awfully large stroke of luck following shortly behind. All I knew was that my startled eyes and burnt body and shrieking self must have alerted the guards at the building, because they soon ran into the forest themselves and put out the fire.
    The two "All I knew" bits here tend to bump against each other. It just seems like...the first obviously wasn't all he knew if there was more that he knew.

    She left through ashes; I fell without laughing.

    And remembering hurts.

    I’m done.
    This part MIGHT be just a touch too melodramatic, in my opinion. It almost reads like bad teenage poetry.

    Warmth was an afterthought; we never made fires.
    Oh, there it is again.

    I’d come back with berries every day, and I’d stare at him expectedly.
    Maybe this is supposed to be "expectantly"?

    I signed. If anyone should know what I’m scared of, it should be Ezrem. “What if I die before I’m able to keep my species from going extinct?” I asked.
    I think that is supposed to be "sighed", not "signed".

    And when he was rejected despite his noble actions, I thought about unfair it was to him—after all his hard work, he had finally come to a decision only to be shut down.
    I think you missed as word in there. "...about HOW unfair it was to him..."

    -Okay, that wasn't bad. The writing, as always, was fantastic. Some really nice stuff there. The only thing that bogged the chapter down for me somewhat was, well, Rennio. He's just not that engaging to me yet. He's sad and naive and childlike, okay. But I wasn't really gripped by him at any particular point. There were also some moments where the narrative felt more like your writing (this far in, I feel like I know it well enough to say such a thing) and less like it was coming from Rennio himself. It made him feel a little bit two-dimensional to me.

    I guess, as a comparison, I don't like Atis. But that's because I don't like the character you have given him. My disdain for him is as a character, so you are evoking an emotion from me. I didn't really get that from Rennio. He's just kind of...there. And there's his backstory. And, again, the description and the story-telling were good, but Rennio himself was a miss to me.

    But it is only the first chapter featuring him, so there's plenty of time for this to change. Not trying to be a downer, just stating my feelings. I think what it might be is that you are such a good writer that all your characters thus far have come across as eloquent and full of life and feelings. And after last chapter, I was kind of expecting Rennio to be a little herpy-derpy. And when he wasn't, I just kind of thought "this narration reads a lot like Senori's or Ezrem's or Atis'", and it threw me.


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  8. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    That was very nicely written. I can relate to that in a big way. When my wife says my name in the street, at a store, or whenever, it gives me this warmth that starts in my stomach and radiates outward. I'm getting the feeling that someone you know IRL does this for you as well, because to me, the only way you would know to write that is if you've experienced it before. You certainly have a knack for feelings and getting people to pay attention to them because I've been stuck on that sentence for almost five minutes lol. Nicely done
    I agree that one of my biggest strong points is emotion. And yes, I do have someone like that, LOL. He always calls me by nicknames so when he actually says my real name it’s great. By the way, must feel cool to be able to say “wife” now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    I would have been angry if you hadn't brought that up because that's the first thing that came to my mind once the story of Ezrem's trainer came up. Nice
    Oh my, glad I didn’t make you angry! LOL. But yeah, old pokéballs are something I wonder about for some reason, so I included it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Awesome awesome...Sometimes I wonder who you're describing when you write things like this. I suppose it's easier for me to believe that you are drawing out these passages from people you know rather than you are truely this fantastic of a writer, but in all seriousness, wow. I couldn't have come up with that kind of passage if I tried. Nicely done
    I’m not too observant of other people (kind of odd for a writer, I think, but oh well) so these things just come out of my head. Don’t know where they come from.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Hmm, Rennio has a few qualities reminiscent of Senori and the guilt he carries. Though Senori is much more up front about it. I'm not sure whether it has to do with Rennio's age and inexperience or maturity level, but I do have the feeling that these side issues are going to get bigger and bigger as the story progresses. Hopefully Senori can help him with that, but at the same time Senori may be too introverted to help. Or I may be totally off base with my thinking here. Meh, I suppose you and I are continuing our tradition of commenting on something that we both think doesn't make sense to the other haha
    Nah, it totally makes sense. I actually hadn’t really thought of their similarities or anything or how they could help each other, so thanks for bringing that up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Well, two very good chapters as always. I'm surprised you added both new characters so quickly, but you were able to do it smoothly and I liked how you filled it up with such an impressive and emotional backstory (more from Rennio's side than Ezram's, but still) I'm looking forward to see what's going to happen in Goldenrod especially since you said that you'll have a new chapter up soon, and yes in the back of my mind I want Sai to punch Ezrem very hard across the beak lol.
    [/quote]

    I thought putting them both back to back would be fitting. And Ezrem has got quite another thing coming to him, so don’t you worry about him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    As per usual, impeccable description and characterization. I can totally see the former trainer a real person by this point. Mischievous in a harmless sort of way and philosophical and fun-loving. It'll be interesting when she meets Sai because, like I said, I'm sure she isn't dead.
    LOL. I’ll tell you now so you’re not disappointed later: she isn’t going to show up. I do believe something happened to her in that fire.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Again, this conflicts heavily with the seemingly happy-go-lucky, dopey Rennio we were introduced to last chapter. I wonder why he acts like that when he is, in truth, much darker inside,.
    I blame Ezrem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    The two "All I knew" bits here tend to bump against each other. It just seems like...the first obviously wasn't all he knew if there was more that he knew.
    Fair enough. I don’t know why I write things like this sometimes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    This part MIGHT be just a touch too melodramatic, in my opinion. It almost reads like bad teenage poetry.
    LOL. Well, focusing on emotions in my chapters, I was expecting something to be too melodramatic at some point. Thanks for pointing it out.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Okay, that wasn't bad. The writing, as always, was fantastic. Some really nice stuff there. The only thing that bogged the chapter down for me somewhat was, well, Rennio. He's just not that engaging to me yet. He's sad and naive and childlike, okay. But I wasn't really gripped by him at any particular point. There were also some moments where the narrative felt more like your writing (this far in, I feel like I know it well enough to say such a thing) and less like it was coming from Rennio himself. It made him feel a little bit two-dimensional to me.

    I guess, as a comparison, I don't like Atis. But that's because I don't like the character you have given him. My disdain for him is as a character, so you are evoking an emotion from me. I didn't really get that from Rennio. He's just kind of...there. And there's his backstory. And, again, the description and the story-telling were good, but Rennio himself was a miss to me.

    But it is only the first chapter featuring him, so there's plenty of time for this to change. Not trying to be a downer, just stating my feelings. I think what it might be is that you are such a good writer that all your characters thus far have come across as eloquent and full of life and feelings. And after last chapter, I was kind of expecting Rennio to be a little herpy-derpy. And when he wasn't, I just kind of thought "this narration reads a lot like Senori's or Ezrem's or Atis'", and it threw me.
    I appreciate your honesty. I’ll have to work on his character so it seems less two-dimensional. Not sure how I’m going to do that yet, but I’ll figure it out. Thanks for commenting!

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  9. #134
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    SURVIVAL PROJECT

    chapter 12 ; [ATIS]
    influence

    *

    He felt like progress.

    …Sometimes, anyway. I couldn’t tell most of the time.

    On one hand, I had been able to leave Earl and the wild kids that attended the Violet City pokémon school, just like I wanted. I was no longer able to stand giving myself up to the concept of pokémon training day after day, and Sai rescued me from that when I needed him most. But traveling with Sai was partly like being part of my nightmares, where we were training for the sake of training, getting badges for the sake of having them, and not having any future goal in mind. The other half of the journey consisted of being free, of being able to explore the world and see it for what it is. And that was what I liked. I wanted Sai to be able to contribute to the world in some way that didn’t involve pokémon, and he was beginning to do that by slowing down his journey, but… Well, yes, Sai felt like progress—but only sometimes.

    And somehow, I know that pokémon don’t often get a second chance to choose their trainers. I can only count on one hand the amount of situations that could offer a second chance, and I don’t even have that many fingers. More importantly, neither scenario is pretty: a trainer either dies or abandons his pokémon. As much as I despised being the pokémon of a trainer, I wouldn’t wish that upon myself or anyone else.

    But Marty, when he came along, he presented what originally seemed to be unthinkable to a trainer, people who normally can’t stand being separated from their partners. He forced Sai into reconsidering his choice in pokémon. He forced Sai into thinking about our opinions and desires and dreams. And Sai gave us a choice—to stay or go! The choice to go or stay, it was as simple as that, really, and not one that many trainers would have the guts to offer.

    When it was my turn to decide and answer, I wasn’t sure what to say. Again, Sai felt like progress, but was it enough to me? Was it worth it to stay until the boy finished his journey and had to find something else to do with his life? Was it worth it to leave and try to make it on my own in a society where pokémon are nothing more than pets or tools of violence? I weighed my options right then and there, but I was very limited on time. I simply said that I needed time to think about it, and at least it was true.

    So, when we were making our way to Goldenrod City, I knew I still had a choice to make. Though Sai seemed strict and set in his ways, I knew that he wouldn’t honestly take my choice away from me if I decided to bring it up again. He was clearly following someone else’s rules and setting his own aside, only allowing them to be set free when he deemed it safe and perhaps necessary. I felt that, this far into the journey, I could say this with certainty, when my life was anything but certain…

    It seemed especially so when Sai suddenly stopped walking, when I was expecting him to keep going and going until he reached the gym, even if it took all his energy and hours and hours of no sleep. It wouldn’t be out of character for him, anyway. But he stopped, and I crashed into the back of his legs accidentally.

    “Sai?” I said. He was glancing at a lone building in front of us. It was surrounded by a short white fence where cries of happy and playful pokémon could be heard inside. The sign ahead read: Daycare Center—We Take Care of All Pokémon! After the previous ordeal, I vaguely wondered if he was considering abandoning us here, but the thought fled from my mind just as quickly as it came. I also knew that he wouldn’t do that…

    “A daycare is a place where people or pokémon stay and get taken care of, right? Fed and bathed and stuff?” he asked, turning toward Senori. I wondered how Senori would know, but didn’t say anything, as usual.

    “I don’t know,” Senori admitted, “but we can always go inside and ask, if you’re really curious.”

    “I am,” Sai said, moving forward now to the door. I followed closely behind him, careful not to have the chance of bumping into him again.

    When we got inside, there was an older woman sitting behind a counter, reading a book. She glanced up at us and immediately stood and smiled as if she hadn’t had any visitors in years. Perhaps she was lonely after being only with pokémon. I would be lonely, too, if I was stuck with them for an extended period of time.

    “Hello!” she said, putting her hands together and holding them up to her face gleefully. “Welcome to the daycare center! How can I help you?”

    “You take care of pokémon, right?” Sai said, not even bothering to greet her.

    “Yes, me and my husband take care of pokémon here. He’s out in the back giving a young pichu a bath right now”—so maybe she wasn’t lonely after all, I thought, and smiled, too—“and that’s just one example of what we do here. If you need a vacation day, we’re here for you! If your pokémon wants a unique place to train, this is a place to do it. We’re here for any reason you made need our services.”

    “Ah, yes…” Sai said, taking his backpack off and rummaging through it. “I caught a bunch of magikarp the other day. I know I can’t carry more than six pokémon, and I know I won’t be using them on my team, so…”

    “So you want us to take care of them?” the older lady finished for him.

    “Exactly,” Sai said. He took out one pokéball and placed it on the counter. He went through his backpack again and pulled out another pokéball. And another. And another… In total, I counted about twenty of them. The older lady looked stunned rather than eager now.

    “Son, do you know how much it’s going to cost for us to keep all of these magikarp?” she asked.

    Sai looked down to the ground, and I could see that his face was turning red. “I don’t know why I caught them. I mean, I was going to use them for food… but I thought about it and that didn’t seem like a good idea…”

    “You were going to eat them?”

    “Yeah… I mean, yeah, isn’t that normal?”

    “I’m glad you changed your mind,” she said, ignoring his question. “But it will cost a lot for you to leave them here, depending on how long it takes you to come back for them.”

    “I don’t intend on coming back.”

    “You don’t?”

    “I have no use for them. I know they’re probably expecting a trainer to take care of them, and this is my way of showing them that they were in my thoughts. I hope you understand. They were in an old, small cave with terrible water before, and here, maybe they’ll be treated better.”

    “So you’re giving them to us to keep.”

    “I will give you anything. I will pay you now if you want instead,” Sai said, looking through his backpack again, probably for money.

    “That would be acceptable,” she said, and told him how much it would cost. As soon as she told him, Sai paused while looking through his backpack, as if he was reconsidering his choice, but he went through with it and paid the older lady. He had a strained look on his face. I wondered if he was guilty for spending money after carelessly buying so much in Azalea Town.

    But that became an afterthought as we left and kept heading toward our destination. I kept repeating the scene over and over in my head and noted that Sai could let go of pokémon—if he really tried.

    I supposed that was a start.

    *

    Goldenrod City surely lived up to its name. The outside of each building was built with yellow bricks, save for the pokémon center, which looked like every other one we had seen so far: made of a grey exterior with a red roof, and a medical sign on the top to indicate the building’s purpose. Even the shopping center looked different than the others we had seen so far. Getting closer, I could tell that instead of it being a normal mart, it was an entire mall, with several floors and various types of sales inside. Several people were walking in, while others were walking out with bags in hand.

    “This city is huge,” Kuiora pointed out as we kept walking around, getting ourselves familiar with the area we would be in for at least the next few days.

    “It is! I wonder what they need all these buildings for, anyway,” Senori said.

    “There’s a gambling place,” I said, reading the sign of the building we had just passed. I kept reading them as we went by. “And a radio tower. A flower shop, a bowling alley… Regular houses…”

    It occurred to me, then, that I should try to take Sai around the town and expose him to these other places unrelated to pokémon, to at least expose him to other ideas out there in the world. It was worth a shot, anyway. The worst case scenario would be that Sai would despise everything and anything about each place, but the boy seemed to be excited about every little thing back in Azalea Town, so that was unlikely. Still, I could tell that he was slowing down quite a bit. I would have to observe his new tired behavior so that I could get used to it, and not be as negatively affected by it as I was by his previous outburst.

    “Sai?” I said again, though this time I didn’t bump into his leg. Instead, I pulled on his pants leg, trying to get his attention as best as I could. I wasn’t used to trying to get another person’s attention, and didn’t know how much was too much or how much was too little. Still, my efforts seemed to work as he stopped to peer down at me expectantly, saying nothing in order to let me speak. “After we go to the pokémon center, why don’t we… you know… actually explore the town more thoroughly? I mean… if you’re okay with that, that is…”

    “Like go into the buildings and stuff?”

    “Yes!” I said a little too loudly. He was understanding me pretty well; things were going smoothly so far already. “Um, again, if that’s all right with you.”

    Sai hesitated for a moment, lost in thought. After a few moments of silence and awkward staring, he finally said, “Sure, if that’s what you want. I want to go to the gym first to set up a battle appointment first, but I’ll make it happen in two weeks.”

    Though this was clearly not like his ordinary self, I was cheering on the inside.

    *

    Within the hour, it was official: the gym battle would take place two weeks from today. Since we were already so close to the gym, we stopped by to set up Sai’s “appointment.” I didn’t know why he felt compelled to schedule the gym battle, since what we had done so far was just approach the gym leader when we were ready, but he simply explained that he was following the rules now that he knew them better. As his pokémon, I felt obligated to go along with him, so I stayed quiet.

    That night, we stayed in the pokémon center, with all of us staying in the same room. Sai explained that although he was earning money from winning pokémon battles with trainers, he didn’t have enough anymore to cover the cost of all of us having our own room after the encounter with the daycare lady. None of us complained, as this was nothing new, though there were whispers about what we’d do about food. I lay on the top bunk, as always, remembering how he knew this about me, and fell asleep wondering what else he knew and kept to himself.

    The day after, the first place I took him to was the shopping mall. With the building being as large as it was, surely there was something unrelated to pokémon inside. And I was right. While there were floors dedicated to supplies and pokémon food, there were sections for clothes, gifts, candy, video games, music, movies, and much more.

    “You can buy us more shirts,” Kuiora said casually, walking behind Sai to stay close to Ezrem, who was just peering around, exploring the place like everyone else.

    “You can have one, but I don’t want one,” Senori said. “The last one covered my tail and made things feel really weird for me.”

    I wouldn’t have minded a shirt to feel more human, but I said nothing and watched as Sai looked around, trying to decide where to go first. I tried to push him toward the movie section since he was having trouble choosing, but he said, “I’ve never seen a movie in my life. I don’t know.”

    “You’ve never seen a movie before?” said Rennio, who was also standing close to Ezrem. I was just glad it was the bird and not me. “Even me and Ezrem have seen a movie before. We saw one about a boy and a girl who wanted to erase their memories of each other, but then changed their minds and had to go through a lot of trouble to remember each other.”

    “It sounds interesting… People make up things like that?”

    “Yeah. Watching movies is something every human should do,” Rennio added, nodding.

    “I don’t think it’d be appropriate to see one… Maybe some other time,” Sai said after a moment, and I stopped pushing him in that direction. The last thing I wanted to do was make him uncomfortable. Instead, I offered to take him to the gift shop. Surely he had someone back home to think of, even if he didn’t speak about his home too often.

    “There’s one person,” he said, his voice quiet. “I don’t know what she’d like…”

    “That’s the point of shopping—to look around and see!” I said, pushing him over there. Where I was getting this energy and motivation from, I didn’t know, but it was nice. This time, he accepted and didn’t complain.

    When we finally got over there, he glanced at the various items that were stocked on the shelves. There were picture frames, bobble heads, cards, a section for the cheapest little trinkets, plush dolls. Kuiora was glancing through the shelves as well, finding a totodile plush doll and hugging it tightly to herself.

    “Look at this, Ezrem! This is what I used to look like! Don’t I look much tougher now?” she said, looking at him expectantly.

    “Yes, yes you do,” Ezrem said, smiling at her.

    Senori was following Sai, probably eager to see what he’d choose. The sentret was always watching out for our trainer, I noticed, and that was for the best, seeing as how I couldn’t properly do it myself…

    Eventually, I caught up to the two of them and started following Sai, too. He was roaming the aisles, lingering at some of them and not others. He didn’t appear to be interested in anything in particular until he came across the shelf with pieces of various outdoor equipment. There were tents, pieces of sports equipment, and a shelf for all of the smaller items, like pocket knives. And that’s exactly what he picked up: a pocket knife. He held it out in his outstretched hands, turning it over and over in his palm.

    “You want that for her?” I asked incredulously.

    “That’s not a very girly gift, you know,” Senori said, folding his arms and smiling.

    “She’s a fan of weapons,” said Sai.

    “Sounds dangerous,” Senori said, his grin disappearing from his face.

    “Hmm,” was all he replied with.

    “Everyone’s got a secret,” Ezrem said, coming up behind me and scaring me to the point where I almost jumped. My body turned in his direction, my breath quickly accelerating at his presence. I didn’t know if there were any ill feelings about attacking his partner, and quite frankly, his cunning personality frightened me considerably.

    “W-What do you mean?” I asked. I was losing my confidence rather quickly. At least I had gotten Sai to think about something other than the gym, but now Ezrem was here.

    “Who knows what he really wants to do with that knife?” he said. He fluffed up his feathers and pretended like what he was saying was nothing, though the thought seemed sinister to me, even though I didn’t think Sai was a sinister person. “There’s a secret in everyone, in every place! I bet plenty of people have stolen from this mall. My old trainer used to do so when she was out of money and desperate for food!”

    “W-Well, we’re not stealing anything… even though we’re low on money…” I said in Sai’s defense, though in my opinion, I was doing poorly. Apparently, Ezrem thought so, too.

    “I’m just saying,” Ezrem said. “How well do you really know your trainer?”

    Not very well, I thought, but kept my mouth shut.

    “Ezrem, be nice,” said Kuiora, who had been listening in on the conversation and had been giggling up until now.

    “I am always nice! I’m just saying that I’d like to know my trainer real well, so I’m watching Sai.”

    “You’re scaring Atis.”

    “It’s not my problem if he gets scared so easily,” Ezrem retorted, grinning.

    “Well, I don’t care. Just shut up. You’re not even Sai’s pokemon,” Kuiora said, going back to her childish ways, though I was thankful for it.

    Needless to say, Ezrem went quiet after that comment. He watched Sai like a bird always seems to watch its prey. He made sure that Sai bought the pocketknife, and that was the end of the journey in the mall, since I couldn’t bring myself to push him anywhere else.

    *

    The next day, I brought him to the flower shop because the place sounded pretty innocent compared to the mall, where there was so many things to look at and consider. Ezrem wouldn’t be able to bring me down this time.

    The flower shop was at the north end of the city, so I made sure to wake them all up early, though I wanted to stay at the top of the bunk and rest a little while longer. So did Sai, as it took quite a lot of shaking to get him to finally wake up, which was odd considering he never seemed to sleep. Now it seemed that he slept too much.

    On the way to the flower shop, the aroma of the city changed. Before, the city air was polluted and not very appealing when breathed in. Now, the air smelled much more pleasant and inviting, which made me feel like we were going to a good place, one where we would all feel comfortable.

    Inside we discovered the source of the beautiful aroma. There was a bunch of women, each of them doing their own chores within the shop. One was water the various plants, another was placing them in a satisfactory order, another waited at the counter, looking at us expectantly. From the look on her ecstatic face, I could tell that she didn’t get many men coming into the shop.

    “Would you like to buy any flowers today?” she asked sweetly, cupping her hands together and holding them behind her back.

    “Maybe,” Sai said quickly, and the rest of the group seemed to take that as permission to look around and see what they wanted. Kuiora was attracted to the blue flowers immediately, with Ezrem and Rennio following close behind. Senori went to the red flowers, and I stood by the yellow ones. Sai roamed around the shop, coming to each of us at least once.

    When he reached Kuiora the second time, he picked out a blue flower, bent down a bit to see her face to face, and gave it to her, smiling.

    “For you,” he said.

    “Why?” she said, but she was reaching out nonetheless.

    “For being my pokémon, of course,” he said as she took it from him.

    One by one, he came to each of us and gave us a flower from the vases that we were standing by, and thanked us for being his pokémon. He even went over to Ezrem and thanked him for joining us, which was surprising to all of us considering the past rejection, but none of us protested. Then, he went to all of the individual ladies in the store and gave them one, too, saying, “You give out flowers every day, but how many times do you have flowers given to you?”

    After seeing our trainer be so kind, I had to say that I was impressed. Senori must have noticed, too, as he decided to join in on the giving atmosphere and took out a red flower for Sai, trying to hand it to him.

    “I don’t deserve one, but thank you,” Sai said. He took the flower from Senori’s hand, but then put it back into the vase, where he thought it belonged. Then he went up to the counter and paid for the flowers that he had given us and the ladies.

    “You should take a vase with you, too, to put them in,” the lady at the counter offered, handing an empty one to him.

    “What do I do with it?” Sai asked.

    “Fill it with water and put the flowers in there so they don’t die. It’s on us, since you were so kind.”

    “It’s okay. You don’t have to give me this.”

    “We want to!” she said, smelling the blue flower in her hand and smiling.

    “Well, it’s just a vase, right? Okay,” he said, finally giving into something. “Thank you, too.”

    “Our pleasure,” said the lady at the counter.

    The next day, I didn’t take Sai anywhere. I decided to take a day for myself, since this idea of taking charge of my life for once was absolutely draining on me. I stayed in the bunk all day as the others lounged around and talked. Sai filled the vase he got from the flower shop with water and put all the flowers we had bought into it. It didn’t look like a pretty bouquet, as the color combination wasn’t appealing with three blue flowers, one yellow, and one red. But I lay in bed all day looking at it and I smiled to myself anyway. After being rejected by Sasha and Marty, Sai had gotten the human interaction that he so desperately needed. And maybe even more important than that, he was showing us that he appreciated us for being with him. I thought, again, about my choice to stay or go. I was cherished where I was, there was no doubt. Sai wasn’t out to maliciously harm me or anything by wanting to do pokémon training; it was his own preference, and it just happened to be a preference that was similar to most others’ in the world. I decided to just keep going with my plan, to keep spending time with Sai and the others, and then I would give myself more time to decide. This wasn’t something that I could rush. No, this wasn’t something I had to rush at all…

    *

    I thought that maybe I’d regret it later, but I took him to the casino after the flower shop. I’d heard horror stories of people becoming addicted to gambling and losing all of their money, but I thought that we had nothing left to lose, being so low on money, anyway. And Sai didn’t seem like the type to get addicted to one thing, but instead to a bunch of things.

    “This place is loud,” Rennio complained the moment we got inside. And indeed, it was loud. The sound of coins clanging against each other and on machines filled the air. Victory music was playing at some machines, but not others. There was angry shouting and cries of joy all at once. Yes, this place seemed to fit Sai perfectly, since he was happy one moment and furious the next and then seemingly sad. At least he seemed interested, but he was also completely lost.

    “I have no idea what to do,” he admitted sheepishly.

    “You’ve never heard of a casino before, either?” Ezrem cried, trying to be heard over the musical building.

    “Nope.”

    “Well, then. I know the perfect place for you to start,” Ezrem said, and I instantly forgave him for the ordeal at the shopping mall since he was choosing to take charge. He navigated the rows of games and slot machines, trying to find whatever it was that he was looking for. Eventually, we reached a table that had a wheel on top of it. The wheel consisted of black and red lines with various numbers on them. People were crowded around the table, murmuring excitedly.

    “Roulette,” was all Ezrem said at first. When Sai still seemed confused, he continued, “You make bets on what color you think the ball will land on. Or you can bet on what kind of number the ball will land on. Whatever you want!”

    “Sounds easy,” Sai said, walking up to the table and joining everyone else.

    “Exactly!” said Ezrem, clearly proud of himself.

    So Sai joined in on the next bet, with all of us sitting at the edge of table and watching intently. Most people were making complicated bets to try to get more money. They offered thirty pokédollars if the ball landed on a red number between one and eighteen, for example. But Sai focused on simplicity.

    “It will land on black,” was all he said at first. When he was instructed to place money on the table to bet with, he did so, though he was reluctant. He looked at me, and I knew he was silently asking why I didn’t tell him we would be spending more money. I shrugged my shoulders, pretending that I didn’t know. The others encouraged him to put the money down anyway.

    It turned out that Sai didn’t have to worry too much about money. In fact, it was the opposite. He ended up winning his first bet, and made a profit off of it. Then he won again. And again, with his simple bets. I wondered how he was so good at guessing when his chances were so low and there was no way that anyone could possibly win every time he played. Well, he did lose about once or twice, but that was it. In the end, he still made more than he lost. It reminded me of the dice he always carried around with him. When he introduced himself as my new trainer, he had instructed me to roll the dice, somehow knowing that the outcome of the roll would show a three—and sure enough, two black dots and one black dot showed up. How did he know? Was his intuition that reliable for him? As I watched him bet on red or black and win again and again, that seemed like the most plausible explanation.

    I didn’t know how much Sai had earned from his adventures here at the casino, but he was smiling at the end, saying, “Now I don’t have to feel guilty for spending so much money at the daycare or at the flower shop. We can have food and a room at the pokémon center still!”

    And that was all that mattered to him. He didn’t even want to leave and explore the rest of the place, he just wanted to win money at the game he was at. His childish eagerness over adult-like responsibilities made me giggle, which got me some odd looks from the others. I ignored them—was the image of a giggling hitmontop really that funny? It probably was, and the image of myself made me giggle again as we left, pokédollars still in Sai’s hands.

    *

    On the last day of our thorough exploration of Goldenrod City, I decided to take him to the radio tower. I didn’t know that it would be the last place we would be able to go. I just knew that Earl always used to listen to the radio back in Violet City, and the people on air always had something to say. There seemed to be no end to the amount of things they could share and laugh about. This, to me, was a good thing to show Sai. But my plan backfired.

    Once again, I woke everyone up early because we had discovered that the radio tower was at the northern end of the city, like the flower shop. I wanted to make sure we had enough time to get to that part of the city and then browse the radio tower. Sai was more eager to get up today than he had been before, I noted, probably because of yesterday’s winning adventure.

    When we arrived there, the man at the counter explained that the place was free. There wouldn’t be much to see, he said, because maintenance was being performed upstairs and we weren’t allowed to go any higher than the first floor. Once the man let us go, we thanked him and wandered around inside. Of course, there wasn’t much to see on the first floor. The place looked like the inside of any other building. The only striking feature I could see was that the counter that the man was at extended throughout the entire room, and even more people were behind the counter, looking at us expectantly and smiling warmly. One of them wore headphones and had an interesting, complex piece of machinery in front of them, but that was about it. There were stairs leading upstairs, but we weren’t sure whether or not we could go up, despite having paid to be here.

    “Well,” Sai said dumbly. “This is it.”

    “I guess so…” I said, disappointed, despite the warning we had received.

    “Don’t look so forlorn, boy!” called the guy who had the headphones on. “Come over here!”

    Sai obeyed instantly, and the rest of us followed. We got a closer look at the machinery the guy had. There was a microphone to accompany the headphones, and the flat part of the machine had a ton of buttons and words on it to indicate what each button did. I couldn’t read any of them upside down, though.

    “Hello, guys!” the man behind the counter continued. I wondered why he was talking so loud, when we were right in front of him, clearly able to hear. “Welcome to the radio tower! I know you can’t go upstairs, so you’re probably wondering why you came here…”

    “Definitely,” Kuiora butted in, peaking her head up over the counter. I winced.

    “Well, you may not be able to look around the rest of the place, but you can get your spot on the radio right here! See this jar we have here?” he said, pointing to it. I hadn’t noticed it before. It was a small jar that had some pokédollars in it. “If you pay a small amount of money, I’ll record your voice so it appears on the radio. You can say just about anything you want!”

    “Anything we want?” said Ezrem, who was now peering next to Kuiora.

    “Well, almost anything. You must be appropriate, of course!”

    “Nevermind,” said Ezrem, backing down from the counter.

    “What about the rest of you? Some people just like to vent and complain, others say hi to their families, others talk about their pokémon… Why, just the other day, someone even came here just to mention that they had seen a Team Rocket member floating around the city recently,” he said, his voice growing quieter.

    I could feel Sai tense up next to me almost instantly.

    “T-Team Rocket?” he said.

    “Yeah, the group of bad guys that took over—”

    “I’m sorry, but we need to go now,” Sai said. He was turned around and walking before he was even done speaking. The man watched him go along with the rest of us.

    “Are you guys confused? Because I’m confused,” Senori said to break the silence.

    “Well, what are we waiting for? We have to listen to him! Let’s go!” Kuiora said, pulling along Ezrem, who pulled on one of the plugs on top of Rennio’s head.

    Senori and I listened to her, knowing better than to deny her wishes. Senori waved good-bye to the man behind the counter and apologized for his trainer’s behavior.

    When we were back out in the city air, we struggled to keep up. Since Kuiora, Ezrem, and Rennio got a head start, they had an easier time following Sai back to the pokémon center. We tried not to lose them, all the while wondering what was happening to Sai this time.

    “Do you know what’s wrong with him?” Senori asked me, then started running on all fours, seeing that his thoughts were keeping us further and further behind. I shook my head and started running.

    At the pokémon center, it was at least easy to find our room from the front lobby, since we’d gone done that hallway several times before. This time, though, none of us could get in because the door was locked. We all sat outside in complete silence, none of us daring to disturb our trainer. Eventually, though, Sai showed his face again.

    “Atis?” he said, peering out into the hallway through a small crack in the door.

    “Y-Yes?” I said, trying to stand up, but my feet were wobbly. I was the one responsible for this situation, yet I didn’t know how to take full responsibility. The idea was unfavorable to me, to say the least.

    “Come in here, please,” he said softly, which calmed my nerves a bit, but not by much. I stumbled over Kuiora’s tail and she squealed. I apologized lamely, thinking now that neither the hallway nor the room was where I wanted to be. Sai seemed like the least threatening, so I just went into the room and quickly shut the door behind me before Kuiora could yell at me.

    “Atis,” Sai said again.

    I simply nodded, afraid to speak.

    “I’m sorry, but we’ll have to go to the gym as soon as possible now. Forget the appointment,” Sai went on. “These people are following me. I just know it.”

    “W-Who’s… following you, Sai?” I dared to ask.

    Sai was quiet, then he spoke after a few moments: “Do you want to be closer to me or something? Are you feeling like the others are getting more attention or something? I didn’t know. You should have told me.”

    I looked up, caught off guard. “N-No, that’s not—”

    “I don’t know how to be close to people. Or pokémon, for that matter,” he said solemnly, ignoring me. “I’m not allowed to be close to anyone, so it’s fine. I guess. But if that’s what you want…”

    I waited for him to go on, but he didn’t. He looked at me, his dark blue eyes full of sadness. The panic that he was in at the radio tower had vanished.

    He went over to the bed and started rummaging through his backpack. He pulled out a marker, which I didn’t even know he had. It made me think that there was no end to the amount of things in his backpack, just like there was no end to the things to the radio.

    “I use it to practice writing sometimes,” he said. “I don’t know what to do. It might sound weird, I know. I don’t know. We can share a secret about each other, all right? You share one secret, and I’ll share one of mine. You can read my secret, but I won’t read yours. You can write it on my back, and I’ll write yours on a piece of paper, since you don’t wear shirts.”

    “Um,” was all I could think to say. A secret? About me? About my trainer? I had mixed feelings, as I usually did. I had never told anyone a secret about me since I was too shy. But it would be nice to know my trainer a bit more, and maybe it could help me make my decision…

    “This could make us feel closer, you know? Since that’s what you want,” Sai went on. He went over to the table in the corner of the room, and picked up the piece of paper that had been lying there since the day we rented out the room. It had all of the pokémon center’s housing rules on it, but he took the marker and wrote over the words. Soon, I would be able to read those words, whatever they were. I noted that it took him a long time to write, as if writing each letter was agonizing for him.

    When he was done, he took off his shirt. Since Earl had always told me I shouldn’t look at his body out of self-consciousness, I turned to look away from Sai as well. But then Sai came closer to me and bent down, making it hard to not see him. He handed me the marker and nodded.

    “This is…” I said, trailing off. I didn’t know how to put it. It was weird, writing on a human’s back, was it not? Would it stay there forever? What if someone else saw? Couldn’t I just not write a secret, and Sai would never know?

    But Sai seemed so calm compared to his panicky demeanor at the radio tower. I wanted to keep him calm. So I took the marker and wrote on his back as quickly as I could to get the awkwardness over with. I didn’t even have to think about what I wrote: I wish I was human.

    Yes, I did wish I was a human. If I were human, I would do my absolute best to get rid of my shy demeanor. I’d travel the entire world, see what each city and town had to offer. I’d meet all the great kinds of people out there, and all the terrible kinds of people, too. I wouldn’t have pokémon to protect me; I’d protect myself. And as I traveled, I’d find out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

    I wished the same for Sai.

    I had believed that I had done a good job of finally forcing myself to do something I wanted in life. I had believed that I was doing a good thing for Sai by showing him around the city, proving to him that there was more to like than the pokémon that constantly followed him around. Perhaps I had been wrong, because now he was being paranoid. Now he seemed to be crazy again, thinking someone was stalking him, watching his every move. This seemed completely illogical to me, but there was nothing I could say to prove it to him. All I could think was that, at the end of the day, his life revolved around this journey for the gym badges. To him, there was nothing else, and though it bothered me, I couldn’t change him. His emotions and passion were fierce, his eyes set on one goal and one goal only. Still, I would wait out my decision. It wasn’t anything that I had to declare right now, and truthfully, I was afraid of deciding, anyway.

    To thankfully distract me, Sai handed me the piece of paper he had written on, and turned to look away from me. I went to read it, both terrified and drawn to the idea at the same time—

    I am always sick.
    Last edited by diamondpearl876; 13th November 2012 at 12:02 AM.

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  10. #135
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post

    SURVIVAL PROJECT

    chapter 12 ; [ATIS]
    influence

    *
    Ooh, Atis. Feels like it's been a while since we've had a chapter for him.

    He felt like progress.

    …Sometimes, anyway. I couldn’t tell most of the time.

    On one hand, I had been able to leave Earl and the wild kids that attended the Violet City pokémon school, just like I wanted. I was no longer able to stand giving myself up to the concept of pokémon training day after day, and Sai rescued me from that when I needed him most. But traveling with Sai was partly like being part of my nightmares, where we were training for the sake of training, getting badges for the sake of having them, and not having any future goal in mind. The other half of the journey consisted of being free, of being able to explore the world and see it for what it is. And that was what I liked. I wanted Sai to be able to contribute to the world in some way that didn’t involve pokémon, and he was beginning to do that by slowing down his journey, but… Well, yes, Sai felt like progress—but only sometimes.

    And somehow, I know that pokémon don’t often get a second chance to choose their trainers. I can only count on one hand the amount of situations that could offer a second chance, and I don’t even have that many fingers. More importantly, neither scenario is pretty: a trainer either dies or abandons his pokémon. As much as I despised being the pokémon of a trainer, I wouldn’t wish that upon myself or anyone else.
    I should have realized sooner how important a perspective on Ezrem and Rennio Atis can offer. I'm really looking forward to this now.

    But Marty, when he came along, he presented what originally seemed to be unthinkable to a trainer, people who normally can’t stand being separated from their partners. He forced Sai into reconsidering his choice in pokémon. He forced Sai into thinking about our opinions and desires and dreams. And Sai gave us a choice—to stay or go! The choice to go or stay, it was as simple as that, really, and not one that many trainers would have the guts to offer.

    When it was my turn to decide and answer, I wasn’t sure what to say. Again, Sai felt like progress, but was it enough to me? Was it worth it to stay until the boy finished his journey and had to find something else to do with his life? Was it worth it to leave and try to make it on my own in a society where pokémon are nothing more than pets or tools of violence? I weighed my options right then and there, but I was very limited on time. I simply said that I needed time to think about it, and at least it was true.
    I really appreciate how philosophical you're making Atis. Though the question of staying or going is a rather straightforward one, there's some significant weight behind it and Atis's examination of those philosophical questions really makes him more than just a Pokemon.

    So, when were making our way to Goldenrod City, I knew I still had a choice to make. Though Sai seemed strict and set in his ways, I knew that he wouldn’t honestly take my choice away from me if I decided to bring it up again. He was clearly following someone else’s rules and setting his own aside, only allowing them to be set free when he deemed it safe and perhaps necessary. I felt that, this far into the journey, I could say this with certainty, when my life was anything but certain…
    I notice Atis is taking note of something about Sai I noticed a long time ago, that Sai is following someone else's rules...

    It seemed especially so when Sai suddenly stopped walking, when I was expecting him to keep going and going until he reached the gym, even if it took all his energy and hours and hours of no sleep. It wouldn’t be out of character for him, anyway. But he stopped, and I crashed into the back of his legs accidentally.

    “Sai?” I said. He was glancing at a lone building in front of us. It was surrounded by a short white fence where cries of happy and playful pokémon could be heard inside. The sign ahead read: Daycare Center—We Take Care of All Pokémon! After the previous ordeal, I vaguely wondered if he was considering abandoning us here, but the thought fled from my mind just as quickly as it came. I also knew that he wouldn’t do that…
    I hope he won't. That would be a rather unpleasant turn.

    When we got inside, there was an older woman sitting behind a counter, reading a book. She glanced up at us and immediately stood and smiled as if she hadn’t had any visitors in years. Perhaps she was lonely after being only with pokémon. I would be lonely, too, if I was stuck with them for an extended period of time.
    Something about that - the fact that Atis doesn't want to be among others of his own kind, at least for long - sticks with me. It just really says something to me for some reason.

    “Hello!” she said, putting her hands together and holding them up to her face gleefully. “Welcome to the daycare center! How can I help you?”

    “You take care of pokémon, right?” Sai said, not even bothering to greet her.

    “Yes, me and my husband take care of pokémon here. He’s out in the back giving a young pichu a bath right now”—so maybe she wasn’t lonely after all, I thought, and smiled, too—“and that’s just one example of what we do here. If you need a vacation day, we’re here for you! If your pokémon wants a unique place to train, this is a place to do it. We’re here for any reason you made need our services.”

    “Ah, yes…” Sai said, taking his backpack off and rummaging through it. “I caught a bunch of magikarp the other day. I know I can’t carry more than six pokémon, and I know I won’t be using them on my team, so…”
    Wow, you actually remembered that! I even forgot about those Magikarp!

    “So you want us to take care of them?” the older lady finished for him.

    “Exactly,” Sai said. He took out one pokéball and placed it on the counter. He went through his backpack again and pulled out another pokéball. And another. And another… In total, I counted about twenty of them. The older lady looked stunned rather than eager now.

    “Son, do you know how much it’s going to cost for us to keep all of these magikarp?” she asked.

    Sai looked down to the ground, and I could see that his face was turning red. “I don’t know why I caught them. I mean, I was going to use them for food… but I thought about it and that didn’t seem like a good idea…”

    “You were going to eat them?”

    “Yeah… I mean, yeah, isn’t that normal?”

    “I’m glad you changed your mind,” she said, ignoring his question. “But it will cost a lot for you to leave them here, depending on how long it takes you to come back for them.”

    “I don’t intend on coming back.”

    “You don’t?”

    “I have no use for them. I know they’re probably expecting a trainer to take care of them, and this is my way of showing them that they were in my thoughts. I hope you understand. They were in an old, small cave with terrible water before, and here, maybe they’ll be treated better.”
    I'm surprised Sai actually thought this deeply about the Magikarp and their fate. It makes me respect him a bit more again, and I think I'm coming to like just how erratic his personality is.

    “So you’re giving them to us to keep.”

    “I will give you anything. I will pay you now if you want instead,” Sai said, looking through his backpack again, probably for money.

    “That would be acceptable,” she said, and told him how much it would cost. As soon as she told him, Sai paused while looking through his backpack, as if he was reconsidering his choice, but he went through with it and paid the older lady. He had a strained look on his face. I wondered if he was guilty for spending money after carelessly buying so much in Azalea Town.

    But that became an afterthought as we left and kept heading toward our destination. I kept repeating the scene over and over in my head and noted that Sai could let go of pokémon—if he really tried.

    I supposed that was a start.
    I do feel like this point could have been a little stronger if we knew a little more about at least one of the Magikarp, though. That way, they would feel a little less like plot devices.

    Goldenrod City surely lived up to its name. The outside of each building was built with yellow bricks, save for the pokémon center, which looked like every other one we had seen so far: made of a grey exterior with a red roof, and a medical sign on the top to indicate the building’s purpose. Even the shopping center looked different than the others we had seen so far. Getting closer, I could tell that instead of it being a normal mart, it was an entire mall, with several floors and various types of sales inside. Several people were walking in, while others were walking out with bags in hand.
    Great description.

    “This city is huge,” Kuiora pointed out as we kept walking around, getting ourselves familiar with the area we would be in for at least the next few days.

    “It is! I wonder what they need all these buildings for, anyway,” Senori said.

    “There’s a gambling place,” I said, reading the sign of the building we had just passed. I kept reading them as we went by. “And a radio tower. A flower shop, a bowling alley… Regular houses…”
    I'm curious, can Atis read because he came from a school, or can all the Pokemon read?

    It occurred to me, then, that I should try to take Sai around the town and expose him to these other places unrelated to pokémon, to at least expose him to other ideas out there in the world. It was worth a shot, anyway. The worst case scenario would be that Sai would despise everything and anything about each place, but the boy seemed to be excited about every little thing back in Azalea Town, so that was unlikely. Still, I could tell that he was slowing down quite a bit. I would have to observe his new tired behavior so that I could get used to it, and not be as negatively affected by it as I was by his previous outburst.

    “Sai?” I said again, though this time I didn’t bump into his leg. Instead, I pulled on his pants leg, trying to get his attention as best as I could. I wasn’t used to trying to get another person’s attention, and didn’t know how much was too much or how much was too little. Still, my efforts seemed to work as he stopped to peer down at me expectantly, saying nothing in order to let me speak. “After we go to the pokémon center, why don’t we… you know… actually explore the town more thoroughly? I mean… if you’re okay with that, that is…”
    At this point I'm getting a growing feeling that Atis is going to leave the group sometime soon. Call it a hunch, but I just feel like I'm moving in that direction. His interest in getting Sai to do new things is understandable, though - it will help both Sai and Atis himself in some ways.

    “Like go into the buildings and stuff?”

    “Yes!” I said a little too loudly. He was understanding me pretty well; things were going smoothly so far already. “Um, again, if that’s all right with you.”

    Sai hesitated for a moment, lost in thought. After a few moments of silence and awkward staring, he finally said, “Sure, if that’s what you want. I want to go to the gym first to set up a battle appointment first, but I’ll make it happen in two weeks.”

    Though this was clearly not like his ordinary self, I was cheering on the inside.
    I think "ordinary" Sai is exactly what this inconsistent personality Sai is.

    I continue to be intrigued by Atis. He's a curious one...

    Within the hour, it was official: the gym battle would take place two weeks from today. Since we were already so close to the gym, we stopped by to set up Sai’s “appointment.” I didn’t know why he felt compelled to schedule the gym battle, since what we had done so far was just approach the gym leader when we were ready, but he simply explained that he was following the rules now that he knew them better. As his pokémon, I felt obligated to go along with him, so I stayed quiet.
    Thanks for spending little time on the appointment being made. I was afraid the chapter would get bogged down in focusing on it.

    That night, we stayed in the pokémon center, with all of us staying in the same room. Sai explained that although he was earning money from winning pokémon battles with trainers, he didn’t have enough anymore to cover the cost of all of us having our own room after the encounter with the daycare lady. None of us complained, as this was nothing new to us, though there were whispers about what we’d do about food. I lay on the top bunk, as always, remembering how he knew this about me, and fell asleep wondering what else he knew and kept to himself.

    The day after, the first place I took him to was the shopping mall. With the building being as large as it was, surely there was something unrelated to pokémon inside. And I was right. While there were floors dedicated to supplies and pokémon food, there were sections for clothes, gifts, candy, video games, music, movies, and much more.

    “You can buy us more shirts,” Kuiora said casually, walking behind Sai to stay close to Ezrem, who was just peering around, exploring the place like everyone else.
    I had to smile here, with another mention of the shirts.

    Curious that it took this long for Ezrem to be mentioned, though. I kind of thought he'd be having more interaction with Atis.

    “You can have one, but I don’t want one,” Senori said. “The last one covered my tail and made things feel really weird for me.”

    I wouldn’t have minded a shirt to feel more human, but I said nothing and watched as Sai looked around, trying to decide where to go first. I tried to push him toward the movie section since he was having trouble choosing, but he said, “I’ve never seen a movie in my life. I don’t know.”

    “You’ve never seen a movie before?” said Rennio, who was also standing close to Ezrem. I was just glad it was the bird and not me. “Even me and Ezrem have seen a movie before. We saw one about a boy and a girl who wanted to erase their memories of each other, but then changed their minds and had to go through a lot of trouble to remember each other.”
    I'm trying to think if I know what movie this is, but if it's a real movie or not, I suspect this is a Chekhov's Gun for something regarding Sai.

    “It sounds interesting… People make up things like that?”

    “Yeah. Watching movies is something every human should do,” Rennio added, nodding.

    “I don’t think it’d be appropriate to see one… Maybe some other time,” Sai said after a moment, and I stopped pushing him in that direction. The last thing I wanted to do was make him uncomfortable. Instead, I offered to take him to the gift shop. Surely he had someone back home to think of, even if he didn’t speak about his home too often.

    “There’s one person,” he said, his voice quiet. “I don’t know what she’d like…”
    Did we just learn something about Sai's past?

    I really want to see where this goes. This is really getting me excited to know more.

    “That’s the point of shopping—to look around and see!” I said, pushing him over there. Where I was getting this energy and motivation from, I didn’t know, but it was nice. This time, he accepted and didn’t complain.

    When we finally got over there, he glanced at the various items that were stocked on the shelves. There were picture frames, bobble heads, cards, a section for the cheapest little trinkets, plush dolls. Kuiora was glancing through the shelves as well, finding a totodile plush doll and hugging it tightly to herself.

    “Look at this, Ezrem! This is what I used to look like! Don’t I look much tougher now?” she said, looking at him expectantly.

    “Yes, yes you do,” Ezrem said, smiling at her.
    Adorable, I like it.

    Senori was following Sai, probably eager to see what he’d choose. The sentret was always watching out for our trainer, I noticed, and that was for the best, seeing as how I couldn’t properly do it myself…
    Nice job keeping everyone in character and remembering their histories here.

    Eventually, I caught up to the two of them and started following Sai, too. He was roaming the aisles, lingering at some of them and not others. He didn’t appear to be interested in anything in particular until he came across the shelf with pieces of various outdoor equipment. There were tents, pieces of sports equipment, and a shelf for all of the smaller items, like pocket knives. And that’s exactly what he picked up: a pocket knife. He held it out in his outstretched hands, turning it over and over in his palm.

    “You want that for her?” I asked incredulously.

    “That’s not a very girly gift, you know,” Senori said, folding his arms and smiling.

    “She’s a fan of weapons,” said Sai.
    Again, whoever this girl or woman from Sai's past is is really intriguing me. She certainly sounds quite unique.

    “Sounds dangerous,” Senori said, his grin disappearing from his face.

    “Hmm,” was all he replied with.

    “Everyone’s got a secret,” Ezrem said, coming up behind me and scaring me to the point where I almost jumped. My body turned in his direction, my breath quickly accelerating at his presence. I didn’t know if there were any ill feelings about attacking his partner, and quite frankly, his cunning personality frightened me considerably.

    “W-What do you mean?” I asked. I was losing my confidence rather quickly. At least I had gotten Sai to think about something other than the gym, but now Ezrem was here.

    “Who knows what he really wants to do with that knife?” he said. He fluffed up his feathers and pretended like what he was saying was nothing, though the thought seemed sinister to me, even though I didn’t think Sai was a sinister person. “There’s a secret in everyone, in every place! I bet plenty of people have stolen from this mall. My old trainer used to do so when she was out of money and desperate for food!”
    And now we get the Atis/Ezrem interaction I expected... and it doesn't disappoint. These two and their clashing is really something to see.

    I can't tell if Ezrem is grandstanding or telling the truth about Annie here.

    “W-Well, we’re not stealing anything… even though we’re low on money…” I said in Sai’s defense, though in my opinion, I was doing poorly. Apparently, Ezrem thought so, too.

    “I’m just saying,” Ezrem said. “How well do you really know your trainer?”

    Not very well, I thought, but kept my mouth shut.

    “Ezrem, be nice,” said Kuiora, who had been listening in on the conversation and had been giggling up until now.

    “I am always nice! I’m just saying that I’d like to know my trainer real well, so I’m watching Sai.”

    “You’re scaring Atis.”

    “It’s not my problem if he gets scared so easily,” Ezrem retorted, grinning.

    “Well, I don’t care. Just shut up. You’re not even Sai’s pokemon,” Kuiora said, going back to her childish ways, though I was thankful for it.

    Needless to say, Ezrem went quiet after that comment. He watched Sai like a bird always seems to watch its prey. He made sure that Sai bought the pocketknife, and that was the end of the journey in the mall, since I couldn’t bring myself to push him anywhere else.
    That was slightly disturbing but a very entertaining exchange of characters. I really would like to see more of Ezrem and Atis going at it, because their parts stood out to me. Ezrem is clearly planning something, but he's being a lot more sneaky about it than Atis, who also has a plan but is going about it in a different way. The parallels between them are quite curious.

    Kuiora's insertion into this scene was great, too.

    The next day, I brought him to the flower shop because the place sounded pretty innocent compared to the mall, where there was so many things to look at and consider. Ezrem wouldn’t be able to bring me down this time.
    I don't know about that, Atis...

    “Would you like to buy any flowers today?” she asked sweetly, cupping her hands together and holding them behind her back.

    “Maybe,” Sai said quickly, and the rest of the group seemed to take that as permission to look around and see what they wanted. Kuiora was attracted to the blue flowers immediately, with Ezrem and Rennio following close behind. Senori went to the red flowers, and I stood by the yellow ones. Sai roamed around the shop, coming to each of us at least once.
    I wonder if Ezrem and Rennio following Kuiora to the blue flowers is significant in any way.

    When he reached Kuiora the second time, he picked out a blue flower, bent down a bit to see her face to face, and gave it to her, smiling.

    “For you,” he said.

    “Why?” she said, but she was reaching out nonetheless.

    “For being my pokémon, of course,” he said as she took it from him.

    One by one, he came to each of us and gave us a flower from the vases that we were standing by, and thanked us for being his pokémon. He even went over to Ezrem and thanked him for joining us, which was surprising to all of us considering the past rejection, but none of us protested. Then, he went to all of the individual ladies in the store and gave them one, too, saying, “You give out flowers every day, but how many times do you have flowers given to you?”
    Wow, Sai is really impressing me here. I know this can't last, but while it's here, it's nice to have him being so polite and thoughtful.

    After seeing our trainer be so kind, I had to say that I was impressed. Senori must have noticed, too, as he decided to join in on the giving atmosphere and took out a red flower for Sai, trying to hand it to him.

    “I don’t deserve one, but thank you,” Sai said. He took the flower from Senori’s hand, but then put it back into the vase, where he thought he belonged. Then he went up to the counter and paid for the flowers that he had given us and the ladies.
    Ditto for Senori acting like this.

    The next day, I didn’t take Sai anywhere. I decided to take a day for myself, since this idea of taking charge of my life for once was absolutely draining on me. I stayed in the bunk all day as the others lounged around and talked. Sai filled the vase he got from the flower shop with water and put all the flowers we had bought into it. It didn’t look like a pretty bouquet, as the color combination wasn’t appealing with three blue flowers, one yellow, and one red. But I lay in bed all day looking at it and I smiled to myself anyway. After being rejected by Sasha and Marty, Sai had gotten the human interaction that he so desperately needed. And maybe even more important than that, he was showing us that he appreciated us for being with him. I thought, again, about my choice to stay or go. I was cherished where I was, there was no doubt. Sai wasn’t out to maliciously harm me or anything by wanting to do pokémon training; it was his own preference, and it just happened to be a preference that was similar to most others’ in the world. I decided to just keep going with my plan, to keep spending time with Sai and the others, and then I would give myself more time to decide. This wasn’t something that I could rush. No, this wasn’t something I had to rush at all…
    I'm kind of surprised Atis hasn't decided to stay yet. He seems very happy.

    I thought that maybe I’d regret it later, but I took him to the casino after the flower shop. I’d heard horror stories of people becoming addicted to gambling and losing all of their money, but I thought that we had nothing left to lose, being so low on money, anyway. And Sai didn’t seem like the type to get addicted to one thing, but instead to a bunch of things.
    Oh no, I can't imagine this'll end up well.

    “This place is loud,” Rennio complained the moment we got inside. And indeed, it was loud. The sound of coins clanging against each other and on machines filled the air. Victory music was playing at some machines, but not others. There was angry shouting and cries of joy all at once. Yes, this place seemed to fit Sai perfectly, since he was happy one moment and furious the next and then seemingly sad. At least he seemed interested, but he was also completely lost.

    “I have no idea what to do,” he admitted sheepishly.

    “You’ve never heard of a casino before, either?” Ezrem cried, trying to be heard over the musical building.

    “Nope.”

    “Well, then. I know the perfect place for you to start,” Ezrem said, and I instantly forgave him for the ordeal at the shopping mall since he was choosing to take charge. He navigated the rows of games and slot machines, trying to find whatever it was that he was looking for. Eventually, we reached a table that had a wheel on top of it. The wheel consisted of black and red lines with various numbers on them. People were crowded around the table, murmuring excitedly.

    “Roulette,” was all Ezrem said at first. When Sai still seemed confused, he continued, “You make bets on what color you think the ball will land on. Or you can bet on what kind of number the ball will land on. Whatever you want!”
    Now I believe that Ezrem was telling the truth about Annie, because he knows how to play roulette.

    Stop making me want a spinoff prequel about Annie. :P

    “Sounds easy,” Sai said, walking up to the table and joining everyone else.

    “Exactly!” said Ezrem, clearly proud of himself.

    So Sai joined in on the next bet, with all of us sitting at the edge of table and watching intently. Most people were making complicated bets to try to get more money. They offered thirty pokédollars if the ball landed on a red number between one and eighteen, for example. But Sai focused on simplicity.

    “It will land on black,” was all he said at first. When he was instructed to place money on the table to bet with, he did so, though he was reluctant. He looked at me, and I knew he was silently asking why I didn’t tell him we would be spending more money. I shrugged my shoulders, pretending that I didn’t know. The others encouraged him to put the money down anyway.

    It turned out that Sai didn’t have to worry too much about money. In fact, it was the opposite. He ended up winning his first bet, and made a profit off of it. Then he won again. And again, with his simple bets. I wondered how he was so good at guessing when his chances were so low and there was no way that anyone could possibly win every time he played. Well, he did lose about once or twice, but that was it. In the end, he still made more than he lost. It reminded me of the dice he always carried around with him. When he introduced himself as my new trainer, he had instructed me to roll the dice, somehow knowing that the outcome of the roll would show a three—and sure enough, two black dots and one black dot showed up. How did he know? Was his intuition that reliable for him? As I watched him bet on red or black and win again and again, that seemed like the most plausible explanation.

    I didn’t know how much Sai had earned from his adventures here at the casino, but he was smiling at the end, saying, “Now I don’t have to feel guilty for spending so much money at the daycare or at the flower shop. We can have food and a room at the pokémon center still!”
    I did get a gut feeling at the beginning of this part that he would have some sort of magic touch, and I guess I was right.

    On the last day of our thorough exploration of Goldenrod City, I decided to take him to the radio tower. I didn’t know that it would be the last place we would be able to go. I just knew that Earl always used to listen to the radio back in Violet City, and the people on air always had something to say. There seemed to be no end to the amount of things they could share and laugh about. This, to me, was a good thing to show Sai. But my plan backfired.
    Oh no... not after everything that went right...

    Once again, I woke everyone up early because we had discovered that the radio tower was at the northern end of the city, like the flower shop. I wanted to make sure we had enough time to get to that part of the city and then browse the radio tower. Sai was more eager to get up today than he had been before, I noted, probably because of yesterday’s winning adventure.

    When we arrived there, the man at the counter explained that the place was free. There wouldn’t be much to see, he said, because maintenance was being performed upstairs and we weren’t. allowed to go any higher than the first floor. Once the man let us go, we thanked him and wandered around inside. Of course, there wasn’t much to see on the first floor. The place looked like the inside of any other building. The only striking feature I could see was that the counter that the man was at extended throughout the entire room, and even more people were behind the counter, looking at us expectantly and smiling warmly. One of them wore headphones and had an interesting, complex piece of machinery in front of them, but that was about it. There were stairs leading upstairs, but we weren’t sure whether or not we could go up, despite having paid to be here.
    There's a stray period in that paragraph, after the word "weren't."

    “Well,” Sai said dumbly. “This is it.”

    “I guess so…” I said, disappointed, despite the warning we had received.

    “Don’t look so forlorn, boy!” called the guy who had the headphones on. “Come over here!”

    Sai obeyed instantly, and the rest of us followed. We got a closer look at the machinery the guy had. There was a microphone to accompany the headphones, and the flat part of the machine had a ton of buttons and words on it to indicate what each button did. I couldn’t read any of them upside down, though.

    “Hello, guys!” the man behind the counter continued. I wondered why he was talking so loud, when we were right in front of him, clearly able to hear. “Welcome to the radio tower! I know you can’t go upstairs, so you’re probably wondering why you came here…”
    Oh I am getting a bad feeling about where this is going...

    “Definitely,” Kuiora butted in, peaking her head up over the counter. I winced.

    “Well, you may not be able to look around the rest of the place, but you can get your spot on the radio right here! See this jar we have here?” he said, pointing to it. I hadn’t noticed it before. It was a small jar that had some pokédollars in it. “If you pay a small amount of money, I’ll record your voice so it appears on the radio. You can say just about anything you want!”

    “Anything we want?” said Ezrem, who was now peering next to Kuiora.

    “Well, almost anything. You must be appropriate, of course!”

    “Nevermind,” said Ezrem, backing down from the counter.
    I'd laugh if I wasn't so nervous right now.

    “What about the rest of you? Some people just like to vent and complain, others say hi to their families, others talk about their pokémon… Why, just the other day, someone even came here just to mention that they had seen a Team Rocket member floating around the city recently,” he said, his voice growing quieter.

    I could feel Sai tense up next to me almost instantly.
    Okay, major red flag about Sai's past. I think I just pieced something together, but I'm going to keep it to myself for now.

    “Do you know what’s wrong with him?” Senori asked me, then started running on all fours, seeing that his thoughts were keeping us further and further behind. I shook my head and started running.

    At the pokémon center, it was at least easy to find our room from the front lobby, since we’d gone done that hallway several times before. This time, though, none of us could get in because the door was locked. We all sat outside in complete silence, none of us daring to disturb our trainer. Eventually, though, Sai showed his face again.

    “Atis?” he said, peering out into the hallway through a small crack in the door.

    “Y-Yes?” I said, trying to stand up, but my feet were wobbly. I was the one responsible for this situation, yet I didn’t know how to take full responsibility. The idea was unfavorable to me, to say the least.

    “Come in here, please,” he said softly, which calmed my nerves a bit, but not by much. I stumbled over Kuiora’s tail and she squealed. I apologized lamely, thinking now that neither the hallway nor the room was where I wanted to be. Sai seemed like the least threatening, so I just went into the room and quickly shut the door behind me before Kuiora could yell at me.

    “Atis,” Sai said again.

    I simply nodded, afraid to speak.

    “I’m sorry, but we’ll have to go to the gym as soon as possible now. Forget the appointment,” Sai went on. “These people are following me. I just know it.”
    My theory is getting stronger, but wow are my nerves tense right now. You've really got me wound up with this paranoia.

    “W-Who’s… following you, Sai?” I dared to ask.

    Sai was quiet, then he spoke after a few moments: “Do you want to be closer to me or something? Are you feeling like the others are getting more attention or something? I didn’t know. You should have told me.”

    I looked up, caught off guard. “N-No, that’s not—”

    “I don’t know how to be close to people. Or pokémon, for that matter,” he said solemnly, ignoring me. “I’m not allowed to be close to anyone, so it’s fine. I guess. But if that’s what you want…”
    He's making me really, really nervous here. My heart is about to jump into my throat.

    But Sai seemed so calm compared to his panicky demeanor at the radio tower. I wanted to keep him calm. So I took the marker and wrote on his back as quickly as I could to get the awkwardness over with. I didn’t even have to think about what I wrote: I wish I was human.

    Yes, I did wish I was a human. If I were human, I would do my absolute best to get rid of my shy demeanor. I’d travel the entire world, see what each city and town had to offer. I’d meet all the great kinds of people out there, and all the terrible kinds of people, too. I wouldn’t have pokémon to protect me; I’d protect myself. And as I traveled, I’d find out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
    That opens up a lot about Atis's mind to me. I suddenly understand his character a lot more.

    Also, I find the idea of a Pokemon wishing to be human quite curious, in a time when a lot of fics are written involving people becoming or wanting to become Pokemon.

    To thankfully distract me, Sai handed me the piece of paper he had written on, and turned to look away from me. I went to read it, both terrified and drawn to the idea at the same time—

    I am always sick.
    This is far more significant a line than it might initially seem, I'm sure of it. It has so many potential meanings that guessing exactly what it indicates would be fruitless. I will keep my theory to myself for now, though, and wait for more information.

    Great chapter. It gave us a lot of information and plenty of enjoyable content, such as Atis and Ezrem going at each other. It really got thoughtful and intense, though, and that's where I'm really hoping to see more.

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  11. #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Ooh, Atis. Feels like it's been a while since we've had a chapter for him.
    It's been 6 chapters! I'm sure he totally missed the attention.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Wow, you actually remembered that! I even forgot about those Magikarp!
    Lol, yeah, it's been a while since they were caught. Darn things.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I do feel like this point could have been a little stronger if we knew a little more about at least one of the Magikarp, though. That way, they would feel a little less like plot devices.
    Good point, I had planned to include them more but it never seemed like the right time to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I'm curious, can Atis read because he came from a school, or can all the Pokemon read?
    He can read because he came from the school.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Thanks for spending little time on the appointment being made. I was afraid the chapter would get bogged down in focusing on it.
    I actually was going to focus more on it but couldn't find any way to make it interesting... so I knew it was time to scrap the idea. lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Did we just learn something about Sai's past?

    I really want to see where this goes. This is really getting me excited to know more.
    Damn right we did. This chapter was fun when it came to revealing more about Sai.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I'm kind of surprised Atis hasn't decided to stay yet. He seems very happy.
    He's in no rush.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Stop making me want a spinoff prequel about Annie. :P
    Yes, sir.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Okay, major red flag about Sai's past. I think I just pieced something together, but I'm going to keep it to myself for now.
    Keeping it to yourself is no fun for me. :'(

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    My theory is getting stronger, but wow are my nerves tense right now. You've really got me wound up with this paranoia.
    Awesome.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Great chapter. It gave us a lot of information and plenty of enjoyable content, such as Atis and Ezrem going at each other. It really got thoughtful and intense, though, and that's where I'm really hoping to see more.
    Glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting as always!

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  12. #137
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    He felt like progress.
    You might consider rewording that. It may just be me, but it was a little difficult to make sense of it at first. After I read the second sentence it clicked, but for a second I stumbled. If I seem off base just ignore me lol

    The other half of the journey consisted of being free, of being able to explore the world and see it for what it is. And that was what I liked. I wanted Sai to be able to contribute to the world in some way that didn’t involve pokémon, and he was beginning to do that by slowing down his journey, but… Well, yes, Sai felt like progress—but only sometimes.
    Like I've said countless times, you have a wonderful talent at being able to have readers sympathize with your characters. After reading the quoted portion I found myself wanting to reach out to Atis, and give him what he wants.

    He was clearly following someone else’s rules and setting his own aside, only allowing them to be set free when he deemed it safe and perhaps necessary.
    Couldn't have phrased it any better myself. Like a barely visible trail through the woods that's become almost invisible with age. He's trying so hard to make sure he does this the right way, but subtle little things like social graces escape him, but at the same time he knows he needs to get badges. Hmmm, I have a new theory! I'll wait to the end of this chapter to see if it pans out.

    I wondered how Senori would know, but didn’t say anything, as usual.
    Lol that's what I was wondering when I read the previous sentence. If anything, Atis would be the one to ask. Over the last few chapters it has felt like Sai is giving preferential treatment to Senori, though I can't imagine why as he made such an obsessive grab for all of them when he wanted them. Hope I didn't miss anything important there, but I doubt it

    noted that Sai could let go of pokémon—if he really tried.
    That was a very nice effective way to put Atis a little more at ease. Thanks for being creative and not stuffing it down our throats. Nicely done

    Senori said. “The last one covered my tail and made things feel really weird for me.”
    Lol I showed that line to my wife, and after I showed her a picture of a Sentret, she thought it was adorable. Nicely done

    “Even me and Ezrem have seen a movie before. We saw one about a boy and a girl who wanted to erase their memories of each other, but then changed their minds and had to go through a lot of trouble to remember each other.”
    Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind? Maybe?

    “Yeah. Watching movies is something every human should do,” Rennio added, nodding.

    “I don’t think it’d be appropriate to see one… Maybe some other time,” Sai said after a moment,
    HE SAID THAT BECAUSE HE'S NOT A REAL HUMAN!!

    “That’s the point of shopping—to look around and see!” I said, pushing him over there.
    It's almost like since Atis isn't human, he's trying everything in his power to live vicariously through Sai in the sense that if Sai has these experiences, maybe Atis will be able to feel what they mean as if he was a human too. It's sad in a pretty sort of way

    The next day, I didn’t take Sai anywhere.
    Lol I'm surprised he took him somewhere the second day haha

    I wondered how he was so good at guessing when his chances were so low and there was no way that anyone could possibly win every time he played.
    I'm glad you followed that up with the dice situation, because that's the first place my mind went as well. To be honest the quoted portion screams at me to pay better attention, but I am at a complete loss as to what it might be. I firmly have my theory now, and the dice is the only thing that doesn't fit

    There wouldn’t be much to see, he said, because maintenance was being performed upstairs and we weren’t.
    Nice game reference

    Yes, I did wish I was a human. If I were human, I would do my absolute best to get rid of my shy demeanor. I’d travel the entire world, see what each city and town had to offer. I’d meet all the great kinds of people out there, and all the terrible kinds of people, too. I wouldn’t have pokémon to protect me; I’d protect myself. And as I traveled, I’d find out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
    Wow, just wow. Awesomely done on that bit, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I didn't get misty eyed. I've told you several times that my favorite character changes with every chapter you release, but after that thought from Atis, I am firmly on his team. You'll be hard pressed to change that unless you can top the quoted portion. It was fabulously written

    Wonderful chapter as always, and once again I can't wait for the next chapter. I'm going to PM you my new theory because even though I'm sure I'm off base with it, I don't want to accidentally get lucky and ruin it for everyone else lol

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

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    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

  13. #138
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    I was no longer able to stand giving myself up to the concept of pokémon training day after day, and Sai rescued me from that when I needed him most.
    That first bit reads a bit hard. Maybe it would be better as "I was no longer able to stand the concept of giving myself up to pokemon training..." ?

    And somehow, I know that pokémon don’t often get a second chance to choose their trainers. I can only count on one hand the amount of situations that could offer a second chance, and I don’t even have that many fingers.
    Okay, that was funny.

    So, when were making our way to Goldenrod City, I knew I still had a choice to make. Though Sai seemed strict and set in his ways, I knew that he wouldn’t honestly take my choice away from me if I decided to bring it up again. He was clearly following someone else’s rules and setting his own aside, only allowing them to be set free when he deemed it safe and perhaps necessary. I felt that, this far into the journey, I could say this with certainty, when my life was anything but certain…
    Atis has a very clear and distinctive voice here, contrasting my complaint about Rennio last chapter. His thoughts are consistently broken up and separated by clauses. This goes a long way in exhibiting his wishy-washy nature and inability to decide what is best.

    When we got inside, there was an older woman sitting behind a counter, reading a book. She glanced up at us and immediately stood and smiled as if she hadn’t had any visitors in years. Perhaps she was lonely after being only with pokémon. I would be lonely, too, if I was stuck with them for an extended period of time.
    Wow...what a knife-twist of characterization. Atis really hates everyone, doesn't he? Or, at least, he has no faith in man nor pokemon.

    “Sai?” I said again, though this time I didn’t bump into his leg. Instead, I pulled on his pants leg, trying to get his attention as best as I could.
    Cute and earnest.

    None of us complained, as this was nothing new to us,
    The two "us" so close together there jarred me. Maybe take out the "to us" in the second part? Might just be me.

    “You’ve never seen a movie before?” said Rennio, who was also standing close to Ezrem. I was just glad it was the bird and not me. “Even me and Ezrem have seen a movie before. We saw one about a boy and a girl who wanted to erase their memories of each other, but then changed their minds and had to go through a lot of trouble to remember each other.”
    I love Eternal Sunshine. I wonder if there is a thematic reason you chose that movie to reference... Hmmmm. Must keep that in mind.

    “Who knows what he really wants to do with that knife?” he said. He fluffed up his feathers and pretended like what he was saying was nothing, though the thought seemed sinister to me, even though I didn’t think Sai was a sinister person. “There’s a secret in everyone, in every place! I bet plenty of people have stolen from this mall. My old trainer used to do so when she was out of money and desperate for food!”
    So hard to tell with Ezrem what is the truth and what is just deceit. I also wonder why Sai is letting Ezrem follow him around when he clearly has no interest in him. Previously, I'd thought Ezrem has sneaking along and staying hidden, but that doeesn't seem to be the case now.

    “Well, I don’t care. Just shut up. You’re not even Sai’s pokemon,” Kuiora said, going back to her childish ways, though I was thankful for it.
    It's nice to see Kuiora sticking up for her "family" rather than just going along with Ezrem since she has been marveled by him so far.


    -Okay, I have to start getting ready for work, so I will come back to this as soon as I can. Sorry I'm having to break up the review like this, but... que sera sera.


    EDIT: More!

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    Inside we discovered the source of the beautiful aroma. There was a bunch of women, each of them doing their own chores within the shop. One was water the various plants, another was placing them in a satisfactory order, another waited at the counter, looking at us expectantly. From the look on her ecstatic face, I could tell that she didn’t get many men coming into the shop.
    I'm going to interject here just to say how I love the life you give each city and the landmarks therein. This almost reads as sort of a love letter to Johto.

    Sai filled the vase he got from the flower shop with water and put all the flowers we had bought into it. It didn’t look like a pretty bouquet, as the color combination wasn’t appealing with three blue flowers, one yellow, and one red.
    I think it is odd and interesting that Atis, who cares so little for the pokemon world and envisions himself as somewhat more worldly and experienced, can't even be bothered to know the names of types of flowers. It's an odd little thing I can't put my finger on.


    -Okay, so it's a short update from me before the casino scene. I'm plugging away!

    The bit with Sai hating to accept the vase while being so happy to give everyone flowers seems odd. He seesms a bit more self-loathing there than I'd thought of him for a while (since the last Atis chapter, anyway, so perhaps there is some projection there on Atis' part...).


    EDIT: More again!

    It turned out that Sai didn’t have to worry too much about money. In fact, it was the opposite. He ended up winning his first bet, and made a profit off of it. Then he won again. And again, with his simple bets. I wondered how he was so good at guessing when his chances were so low and there was no way that anyone could possibly win every time he played. Well, he did lose about once or twice, but that was it. In the end, he still made more than he lost. It reminded me of the dice he always carried around with him. When he introduced himself as my new trainer, he had instructed me to roll the dice, somehow knowing that the outcome of the roll would show a three—and sure enough, two black dots and one black dot showed up. How did he know? Was his intuition that reliable for him? As I watched him bet on red or black and win again and again, that seemed like the most plausible explanation.
    So...curious. He's got to have some low-level mental ability, right? That's how he's choosing his team; he knows their destiny. Yes? Or I'm WAY off.

    I didn’t know how much Sai had earned from his adventures here at the casino, but he was smiling at the end, saying, “Now I don’t have to feel guilty for spending so much money at the daycare or at the flower shop. We can have food and a room at the pokémon center still!”
    It's petty, but considering the story is paste-tense, you shouldn't say "here". It should be "there at the casino..."

    And that was all that mattered to him. He didn’t even want to leave and explore the rest of the place, he just wanted to win money at the game he was at. His childish eagerness over adult-like responsibilities made me giggle, which got me some odd looks from the others. I ignored them—was the image of a giggling hitmontop really that funny? It probably was, and the image of myself made me giggle again as we left, pokédollars still in Sai’s hands.
    How charmingly un-Atis-like. He's loosening up.

    There wouldn’t be much to see, he said, because maintenance was being performed upstairs and we weren’t. allowed to go any higher than the first floor.
    You have an odd period mid-sentence there. Between "weren't" and "allowed".

    “Anything we want?” said Ezrem, who was now peering next to Kuiora.

    “Well, almost anything. You must be appropriate, of course!”

    “Nevermind,” said Ezrem, backing down from the counter.
    Isn't it kind of a big deal that Sai can understand his pokemon so easily? This guy is doing it, no problem. I might be misinterpreting the past, though.

    “What about the rest of you? Some people just like to vent and complain, others say hi to their families, others talk about their pokémon… Why, just the other day, someone even came here just to mention that they had seen a Team Rocket member floating around the city recently,” he said, his voice growing quieter.
    OH. This feels like a clue. Now we have a timeframe; this all takes place right around G/S/C....maybe.

    But Sai seemed so calm compared to his panicky demeanor at the radio tower. I wanted to keep him calm. So I took the marker and wrote on his back as quickly as I could to get the awkwardness over with. I didn’t even have to think about what I wrote: I wish I was human.
    This scene is all so confusing and touching at the same time.

    proving him that there was more to like than the pokémon that constantly followed him around.
    Missed a "to" in there. Proving TO him.


    Yeah, I've got absolutely no idea what's going on here. You and Sidewinder are so damn good at keeping your mysteries mysterious. I have even less of an idea what's going on with Sai than I ever had before.

    Atis...what a lovely chapter to change my mind on him. He was unsteady, earnest, open, and heartfelt. So much more than his previous judgmentality and timidness. There were times this chapter where I wished I could be with Atis, and that's crazy. Kuiora is still my FAVORITE member of this team for entertainment, but damn if I wouldn't rather HAVE Senori or even Atis now. Damn you for being so bloody good at that.
    Last edited by Sid87; 7th November 2012 at 11:48 PM.


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  14. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Lol that's what I was wondering when I read the previous sentence. If anything, Atis would be the one to ask. Over the last few chapters it has felt like Sai is giving preferential treatment to Senori, though I can't imagine why as he made such an obsessive grab for all of them when he wanted them. Hope I didn't miss anything important there, but I doubt it
    Nah, there’s nothing important you’re missing. Sai knows Atis doesn’t like attention so he turns to Senori, who has known some human-like things in the past, that’s all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Lol I showed that line to my wife, and after I showed her a picture of a Sentret, she thought it was adorable. Nicely done
    YOU TWO ARE TOO CUTE. GAH.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind? Maybe?
    Yes, yes, and yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    HE SAID THAT BECAUSE HE'S NOT A REAL HUMAN!!
    BOOM! We already spoke about this, so I’ll say nothing more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Wonderful chapter as always, and once again I can't wait for the next chapter. I'm going to PM you my new theory because even though I'm sure I'm off base with it, I don't want to accidentally get lucky and ruin it for everyone else lol
    Glad you liked it, thanks for commenting as always!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    That first bit reads a bit hard. Maybe it would be better as "I was no longer able to stand the concept of giving myself up to pokemon training..." ?
    Will fix, thanks for pointing it out. Someday I’ll write a chapter in which nothing reads too “hard” or awkwardly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Wow...what a knife-twist of characterization. Atis really hates everyone, doesn't he? Or, at least, he has no faith in man nor pokemon.
    I didn’t quite think that part was THAT powerful, haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    I also wonder why Sai is letting Ezrem follow him around when he clearly has no interest in him. Previously, I'd thought Ezrem has sneaking along and staying hidden, but that doeesn't seem to be the case now.
    Nah, Sai’s not the type to push others away. He just doesn’t want Ezrem to officially be a part of the team.

    I originally was going to have him hide and follow, but that seemed to allow very little room for character development so I scrapped the idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    I think it is odd and interesting that Atis, who cares so little for the pokemon world and envisions himself as somewhat more worldly and experienced, can't even be bothered to know the names of types of flowers. It's an odd little thing I can't put my finger on.
    He wants to be worldly and experienced, though he hasn’t had the means to do so, so I doubt he’d know the name of flowers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    The bit with Sai hating to accept the vase while being so happy to give everyone flowers seems odd. He seesms a bit more self-loathing there than I'd thought of him for a while (since the last Atis chapter, anyway, so perhaps there is some projection there on Atis' part...).
    He’s supposed to be more self-loathing than before. :O

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    So...curious. He's got to have some low-level mental ability, right? That's how he's choosing his team; he knows their destiny. Yes? Or I'm WAY off.
    Sometimes, the answer is a lot more simpler than you think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Isn't it kind of a big deal that Sai can understand his pokemon so easily? This guy is doing it, no problem. I might be misinterpreting the past, though.
    Yeahhhhh…. He’s not supposed to understand pokémon. That was my bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Yeah, I've got absolutely no idea what's going on here. You and Sidewinder are so damn good at keeping your mysteries mysterious. I have even less of an idea what's going on with Sai than I ever had before.
    My goal is complete. *evil cackle*

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Atis...what a lovely chapter to change my mind on him. He was unsteady, earnest, open, and heartfelt. So much more than his previous judgmentality and timidness. There were times this chapter where I wished I could be with Atis, and that's crazy. Kuiora is still my FAVORITE member of this team for entertainment, but damn if I wouldn't rather HAVE Senori or even Atis now. Damn you for being so bloody good at that.
    Yay! This means a lot to me. I’m glad you liked the chapter… and Atis!

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  15. #140
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    ...Oh, man. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm sorry it's taken me so long to review these last two chapters. School and all that jazz.

    Well, on with the review...

    Chapter 11

    This chapter felt a little different to me. Not bad at all, just different. I think it's because we saw Rennio from such a dramatic change in perspective - rather than the happy-go-lucky Pokemon he appeared to be in the previous chapter, he seemed so much more vulnerable and naive in this one. I will say, though, I think you did a good job of reinforcing the fact that Elekid is a "baby" Pokemon through his mindset and his close relationship with Annie. It makes the events of the chapter that much more emotional, because an innocent little creature like that just shouldn't have to go through such a terrifying experience, but as you showed, life can sometimes be very cruel.

    As others have said, Annie came through as a well-developed and quite intriguing character. Intelligent and openminded, but also warm and devoted to her Pokemon at the same time. Those traits really fit the idea of a true Pokemon trainer, I think. She seems to recognize that it's not always winning or losing that's most important, but the entire journey and the experiences that come with it. Her personality is a nice contrast to Sai's comparatively narrow focus and always wanting to follow the "rules," whatever those may be. I think he'll get there one day, though.

    Finally, Ezrem. That bird has Rennio completely brainwashed, doesn't he? I mean, he's the one that betrayed his trainer and his fellow Pokemon, yet Rennio still believes Ezrem is his true friend. And with Ezrem saying that Rennio is the last Elekid, and making him say that little catchphrase... What a jerk. My hate for Ezrem has gone right back up again. You seem to be good at doing that. :P

    And now, for the grammar...

    That’s what must have happened. Annie must have dropped one of her cigarettes after lighting it on fire, dropped it, and left it there. There was no other explanation in my eyes.
    Not sure if the repetition of "dropped" was intentional, but if it was, you may want to change the preceding comma to a dash or a semicolon to make the passage a little clearer.

    They were whispering amongst themselves, however—or making fun of me, of course—so I assumed they must have known me somehow. I didn’t know what their names were, so I just stared at them. Their words mean nothing to me.
    Should be a "t" at the end there since you're in past tense.

    One day, I returned with berries and simply told Ezrem, “I’m scared.”

    He motioned for me to open my hands and dug his beak into the pile. Halfway through, he pulled back, finally realizing that I had said something.

    “Scared of what?”

    I signed. If anyone should know what I’m scared of, it should be Ezrem. “What if I die before I’m able to keep my species from going extinct?” I asked.
    Should this be "sighed"?

    Overall, though, great chapter.

    Sorry for the short review, but the next one should hopefully be a little longer. I'll try to post it sometime over the weekend (hooray for holidays)! Until next time...

    ~Crimson Penguin

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  16. #141
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    Should the word "we" be in the excerpt?; (between when and were)


    So, when were making our way to Goldenrod City, I knew I still had a choice to make. Though Sai seemed strict and set in his ways, I knew that he wouldn’t honestly take my choice away from me if I decided to bring it up again. He was clearly following someone else’s rules and setting his own aside, only allowing them to be set free when he deemed it safe and perhaps necessary. I felt that, this far into the journey, I could say this with certainty, when my life was anything but certain…

    Also should where he thought he belonged be changed to where he thought it belonged?;


    “I don’t deserve one, but thank you,” Sai said. He took the flower from Senori’s hand, but then put it back into the vase, where he thought he belonged. Then he went up to the counter and paid for the flowers that he had given us and the ladies.
    Last edited by Dragonicwari; 12th November 2012 at 10:11 PM.


    ^You ever have that moment you realize you forgot to give credit? Sorry Irra!!^

  17. #142
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crimson Penguin View Post
    ...Oh, man. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm sorry it's taken me so long to review these last two chapters. School and all that jazz.
    Not a problem, I know things get busy sometimes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Crimson Penguin View Post
    Her personality is a nice contrast to Sai's comparatively narrow focus and always wanting to follow the "rules," whatever those may be. I think he'll get there one day, though.
    That's some cute faith you have in him right there. I hope he'll make it, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crimson Penguin View Post
    Finally, Ezrem. That bird has Rennio completely brainwashed, doesn't he? I mean, he's the one that betrayed his trainer and his fellow Pokemon, yet Rennio still believes Ezrem is his true friend. And with Ezrem saying that Rennio is the last Elekid, and making him say that little catchphrase... What a jerk. My hate for Ezrem has gone right back up again. You seem to be good at doing that. :P
    You're welcome. I do like to do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crimson Penguin View Post
    And now, for the grammar...
    Fixed all.

    Thanks for commenting as always!


    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonicwari View Post
    Should the word "we" be in the excerpt?; (between when and were)



    Also should where he thought he belonged be changed to where he thought it belonged?;
    Fixed both, thanks for pointing them out!

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  18. #143
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    SURVIVAL PROJECT

    chapter 13 ; [RENNIO]
    automatic

    *

    I had only been with Sai for a few days now, and already I could spot the many differences between him and Annie. For one, Sai was just weird. He’d never seen a movie before? Annie couldn’t leave a city without watching at least one. He bought knives as gifts? Okay, Annie might have done that, too, but I always thought she was silly for it, while she said it was a joke. Sai was clearly serious. And then there was the part where Sai fled out of nowhere! He seemed so easily frightened, and Annie was fearless. Were the two of them even from the same planet? It didn’t seem very likely.

    Despite this, he was a good trainer—he kept us fed, sheltered, and was guilty when he felt he couldn’t take care of us. And I was glad to learn more about him. I was always glad to learn something about people. I had much to learn about the world, I knew, and being with this new team was helping me. I also learned more about religion thanks to Kuiora and her constantly following of Ezrem. She worshipped him, no doubt. I didn’t know how Ezrem was so special, though, but I didn’t say anything. And I learned that Atis was quiet, but I still have yet to figure out why. I hope someday to get him to talk to me.

    Senori, he told me his story about his old clan after I told him about Annie. We had been walking to the north side of town, to the flower shop that day.

    “So there are others out there like me,” I said to him, trying to cheer him up after he kept looking down to the ground solemnly.

    “What do you mean?” he said, peering up.

    “There are pokémon—and probably people—out there who carry around an endless amount of guilt, and try to hide it,” I said. “It feels good to be understood, to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever felt understood before…”

    “Well,” Senori started, “if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. I like to take care of others, so you’re on the right team.”

    I thought so, too.

    Over the past few days, the idea of the team being carried around by a ton of pain had… slightly gone away. With Senori and me, there was clearly a lot of pain. There was pain with Ezrem, too, but he hid it a lot better. And there was clearly something bothering Atis and Kuiora and Sai, but they showed me that they could forget about their suffering under the right circumstances. In their cases, they needed proper distractions, and then they seemed fine. I wondered how they felt, then, when reality came crashing down on them.

    I decided to figure it out on my own rather than asking. Asking could be too personal, after all. “So what is it like to be happy, and then have your life come flying back into view out of nowhere?” I wanted to know, but that wouldn’t go over too well. So I kept an eye on the people and pokémon around as we went from place to place every day. I kept mental notes to myself, notes about every happy instance that I saw.

    A little green pokémon that looked suspiciously like one of the plush dolls we saw helped an older lady find her way to the shopping mall, as she was obviously lost, what with her going around in circles and everything. The little green pokémon helped the lady, and then went back to her trainer, receiving praise. That was happiness, I thought, being able to help others in their time of need. But who could I help at this moment? Senori was supposed to help me, so that didn’t make sense. I didn’t know the others well enough yet to determine whether they needed me. So I tried to lead Ezrem to all the places that we went to, tried to stay in front of him and tell him to follow me, but he brushed me off, scoffing each and every time. Still, I was glad to be with him.

    Something else I saw: a human saying hello to everyone and anyone he passed by on the street. Those he said hi to had originally been staring down at the ground rather emotionlessly, but as soon as they were acknowledged, they had a giant smile on their faces. I started saying hello to everyone, too. The pokémon I said hello to waved or said hello back, while the humans just looked at me, confused. I stopped once Kuiora told me that not every human was like Sai, that not all of them could understand pokémon—but it was an interesting experience for me nonetheless.

    Finally, I saw a most peculiar thing: a pokémon carrying another pokémon. The larger pokémon, the one who was doing the carrying, almost looked like a human, but its skin was blue in color, and it wasn’t wearing any clothes aside from a black belt around its waist. Its muscles were also fairly big compared to a human’s. The smaller pokémon was a simple purple rodent. My best guess was that it was injured somehow, probably from battle. Well, I could certainly sympathize with the rodent, and I left it at that.

    The rest of the city seemed sad, or emotionless, somehow.

    So, what did I learn in Goldenrod City? I learned that people came and went… They interacted with each other, sometimes on a superficial level, and sometimes on a deeper level that only the people in question could understand… But why they interacted with others, I could only guess. Maybe it was to ease themselves in thinking they were important. Maybe they just liked the way others made them feel. And maybe they did it because they simply felt they had to, like it was a rule that all humans faced.

    In the end, I knew the truth: Annie was gone. I was still coming to terms with it, and it was hard, when everything reminded me of her. Even the way that the city air smelled reminded me of the many other places we had been. But there was nothing that I could do to bring her back, as much as I wanted to. There was nothing I could do to erase the fire, to erase our search for a new trainer, to erase the surprise and grief that accompanied us fully. All I had were memories to think of from time to time, when I felt I could handle it. So now I knew: when reality crashed back down on me, it felt like… being kissed by her ghost—as if she were kissing me on the cheek, calling me her baby, like she used to—and having her promising me that the distance between us was nothing.

    *

    It didn’t take long, though, for my suffering to increase tenfold…

    Originally, Sai had planned for the gym battle to take place in two weeks. Two weeks! That gave me plenty of time to try to prepare mentally, in case he wanted me to fight. And while looking for happy pokémon and people, that’s partly what I did. Happiness could maybe keep the nerves from getting to me when the time came. I wished that I could say I was sure, but it had been far too long since I battled. The last time I had battled was against Ezrem when he had said something to offend me—whatever it was had escaped my mind now that I had forgiven him—and he knew better than anyone about my fear, so he went easy on me…

    That wasn’t very likely to happen in a gym battle, against two people who were very, very determined to defeat each other. Then again, I hadn’t seen Sai’s fighting style, nor much of the Johto region’s gym leader. I just didn’t know what to think.

    Needless to say, I was surprised when Sai announced that we would be going to the pokémon gym the day after we visited the radio tower. A while after calling Atis inside by himself for whatever reason, he gathered us all back into the room and sat us down to talk about it.

    “After today, I’ve decided to forget about the appointment and just go,” he explained.

    “But why?” I couldn’t help but blurt out. Maybe it was childish of me—no, it definitely was—but it just wasn’t fair!

    “I know you’re new, Rennio, so you don’t know, right? We’ve been flying through the cities up until now. We’ve gotten the last two gym badges without problem. So we have to continue doing that, okay?” he said, trying to be reassuring. My nervousness must have been shining through somehow.

    I thought that Ezrem would say something in protest, but apparently he didn’t think it was his place to speak. And none of the other pokémon said anything, either—they were used to this already, and accepted it for what it was.

    But I couldn’t accept it. That night, I lay in the bottom bunk with everyone else, too anxious to sleep. And I wasn’t even sure if Sai would use me in battle or not! But what if he did? What if he used me in battle after all and I got hurt? What if I got injured so badly that I died, or had to be carried like that purple rodent? Who would carry me, then, and help me? Was there any help for me? There was just no telling what would happen to me tomorrow, and it killed me.

    I huddled up next to Ezrem, wishing for Annie’s warmth, and didn’t sleep at all.

    *

    In the morning, we went to the Goldenrod City pokémon gym… just as planned. I tried to distract myself by finding more happy things in people and pokémon outside, but we were going far too fast for me to be able to pay attention to others and still keep up with everyone else. When we got there, I was more nervous than ever.

    Next distraction: the inside of the building. It almost felt like a maze, and an inviting one at that! Like the flower shop, the aroma inside was nice. Several plants lined the walls and the ground, and the walls were colored white with various shades of pink. Every time we walked to the end of a path and turned onto a new one, we hoped it was the last path that we’d have to go through, but they never seemed to end. I would have been okay with that.

    As luck would have it, we eventually reached the end of the… maze. It didn’t really feel like a maze anymore by the time we were done with it. It was too straightforward to be one. But as any path promises, we reached our destination and received our prize for it: the gym leader. She looked very young with that smile of hers, just like Annie had, and she almost blended in with the walls with her pink hair, her pink shorts, and her tight white shirt. It wasn’t much of a distraction, but I vaguely wondered what kind of pokémon she specialized in. I would soon find out, I supposed.

    “You’re back already?” she said in a sing song voice. “I thought we had set up an appointment. Not that many trainers set up appointments, anyway, but, you know.”

    “Yeah…” Sai said, rubbing the back of his head. “I’d like to just battle now, Whitney. If that’s possible, of course…”

    “Well, does it look like I’m busy?” Whitney retorted, spreading her arms out as if she was encouraging us to look around. All I saw were more plants, more walls. “We can battle now if that’s what you really want.”

    My heart fell, but Sai’s smile was wide.

    “Thank you so much,” he said.

    “Sure. It’ll be a two on two battle. Get over to that wall, and we’ll battle right here,” she instructed.

    “Okay,” Sai said. He turned and motioned for all of us to back up, which we did. When we were against the wall, I knew it was time for him to pick which pokémon he was going to use. “Kuiora”—I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding—“do you want to battle first? I know you like to fight.”

    “Yes! I do, I do!” she said immediately, and jumped back forward into the arena.

    “All right, then, let’s get started,” Whitney said, smiling now. She reached behind her and pulled forth a pokéball. She didn’t say who was going to be choice of pokémon as she threw it forward. Perhaps not so surprisingly, a small, pink pokémon emerged from the ball. Yes, the pokémon was all pink, and it seemed exuberant over the fact with the hearty smile on its face and with its body dancing over to the middle of the arena.

    “Clefairy!” it cried.

    “I don’t know what that is,” Sai admitted, “so, uh, Kuiora, you can start off however you want.”

    “Too lazy to think of an opening strategy? That’s not going to help you win!” Whitney cried, putting her hands on her hips. “Clefairy, use encore when you get the chance.”

    I simply watched the battle, wondering what move Kuiora would use and have to repeat. Encore was a nasty, deceptive move, I knew, having had teammates be the victims of its manipulation once or twice.

    Kuiora looked like she wasn’t going to do anything at first, but then she pulled her body back, preparing for an attack. When her body lurched forward, she also released a massive stream of water from her mouth, and it was headed straight for the clefairy. The clefairy jumped to the left in an attempt to dodge it. When Kuiora simply moved her jaw in the direction of the clefairy’s location, the pink pokémon jumped to the right. Kuiora kept moving her body and the clefairy kept dancing around like this until the croconaw got fed up and stopped.

    “Why did you stop?” cried the clefairy. “It was such a good move! Please do it again!”

    “What?” Kuiora asked, dumbfounded. “You thought it was a good move? It didn’t even hit you!”

    “So? The water was so pretty.”

    “Uh, Kuiora—” Sai said, probably understanding now where this was going.

    “Fine,” she said, not listening. “I’ll do it again!”

    And she did exactly that. She did it the same way as she had done before, right down to the part where she had to keep chasing the clefairy by turning her jaw in the direction of the pink pokémon’s jumps. This time, however, the clefairy jumped not only to the left and right, but also forward—and eventually, it became close enough to become a threat to Kuiora. Despite this, Kuiora did not stop the attack.

    “Clefairy, doubleslap!” cried Whitney.

    Since the clefairy was close enough, it took its tiny pink paws and scratched at Kuiora’s face, immediately stopping the flow of water emerging from her mouth. The clefairy did this over and over, on both sides of Kuiora’s face. Due to the tiny claws on its paws, the clefairy was able to draw a little bit of blood from Kuiora.

    “Kuiora, punch it back so it stops hitting you!” Sai cried.

    “Clefairy, keep using encore,” Whitney said calmly.

    “That’s… not… going to happen again!” Kuiora said in between slaps, and finally she pulled her arm back and punched the clefairy in the belly, sending it flying backward. The opponent’s pokémon landed on its feet, but just barely, as it was putting its paws against the ground to help keep composure.

    “But the water was so pretty,” the clefairy whined, dusting itself off.

    “Of course it’s pretty! It’s my attack,” Kuiora said, grinning wildly. Still, she knew this was no time to be joking around, and she got right back down to business shortly after, her face turning serious. She stood there in battle position, presumably waiting for a command from Sai.

    “Oh,” Sai said. “Well, water gun isn’t working, huh? Try bite!”

    “Okay!” Kuiora said, making me wonder how she could be so silly and so serious at the same time. I wondered about that regarding myself, often, as that’s how Ezrem described me—but it was another thing entirely to see it happening in another pokémon. I kept watching, intrigued by her—and Sai’s—battling style. Sai, it seemed, didn’t like to be too involved; he liked being a spectator, just like me.

    Kuiora leapt forward, dashing straight toward the clefairy, who simply stood there, also waiting for a command.

    “Use sing, Clefairy!” cried Whitney, a hint of franticness in her voice now. Apparently, that encore trick worked a lot longer in the past.

    The clefairy had started the song before Whitney had even finished calling out her command. It sang a song that sounded suspiciously like a lullaby I had heard in the past. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my heart fell further, as it reminded me of Annie.

    As far as the battle went… The attack was meant to put Kuiora to sleep, but it didn’t have an effect on the croconaw. Either the clefairy didn’t have the time to sing enough of the song, or Kuiora was beyond determined to fulfill our trainer’s commands. She reached the clefairy rather quickly, opened her jaw, and clamped down on top of the clefairy’s head, immediately causing the pink pokémon’s lovely voice to be replaced by shrieking. This seemed to cause Kuiora to only bite harder, as the shrieking grew louder and louder over time. Eventually, the shrieking was reduced to crying, and Kuiora let go, leaping backward and surveying the damage.

    “Clefairy, are you okay?” yelled Whitney. She looked like she was going to run into the arena, but stopped herself just in time.

    “Yeesh… It hurts…” the clefairy said, rubbing the top of its head, staining its hands with a tiny bit of blood. I decided never to get on Kuiora’s bad side, as her teeth seemed too powerful for me to handle.

    “Let’s keep going, clefairy! You can do it. Take your chances and use metronome!”

    Surprisingly, I had never heard of this move before. I watched with interest as the clefairy did its best to recover and stand its ground. It took its bloodied hands and lifted them up in the air. Then it started moving its fingers in unison back and forth, back and forth. It did this for a long time, so long that I came to the conclusion that it was just a move to regain composure and focus one’s mind.

    “Um, okay,” Sai said, apparently having similar thoughts. “Use bite again, Kuiora!”

    Kuiora nodded and made her way over to her opponent, slower this time, probably not seeing the clefairy as much of a threat this time around. Once Kuiora reached the clefairy, she opened her mouth and was about to attack when the clefairy suddenly split into two. When Kuiora clamped her jaw down, the clefairy she was biting down on turned out to only be an illusion, one that disappeared just as quickly as it came.

    “What?” she cried. She looked around. The clefairy had split again and again, and now a total of five pink pokémon were surrounding Kuiora on the arena.

    Whitney laughed and said, “You already know double team, Clefairy! But I guess it works. Use metronome again!”

    “Kuiora, find the real one, and fast!” Sai yelled as he was starting to finally see how dangerous the situation could turn out to be.

    Kuiora went to each clefairy, one by one, and attempted to punch each in the stomach. The illusions disappeared, and she could tell she was running out of time as all of the illusions—and the real one—were waving their fingers around again. She went through three of them before the clefairy’s fingers glowed brightly. I heard the familiar cackling of electricity coming from the arena, and closed my eyes in response. I knew what was going to happen next; I didn’t need to watch. I didn’t hear Kuiora cry out, but I did hear her fall to the ground with a thud. Only then did I dare to open my eyes and see that she had fainted.

    “Wow. A thundershock attack against a water-type! Yeah, how lucky!” Whitney said, confirming my thoughts. I let out a sigh of relief, glad that the thundershock attack was over. It had shaken me up inside, reminding me of my past battles, and how I had shocked others and been shocked myself. It was never fun, or fulfilling, or enlightening, or whatever pokémon battles were supposed to be.

    “Whatever. I bet you knew it was going to an electric-type attack,” Sai said bitterly, returning Kuiora to her pokéball. He placed it in the backpack, which he had taken off and set behind him. “I guess that means I need someone who’s resistant to electricity…”

    I froze. I had the vague notion that I should curse Ezrem for being a flying-type pokémon, but that wouldn’t have been fair. I knew what was coming, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. There was nothing I could do in any situation, it seemed.

    “I want you to fight,” Sai said, turning to me.

    “What?” I blurted out. Stupidly.

    “I want you to fight,” he repeated.

    “But—” I stopped myself, wondering what I could say. I didn’t know enough about the metronome attack to argue. In my haste, I tried to reason. “Whitney said that it was lucky, right? Right? That means—oh man—that the clefairy can use any attack out there… Any attack… Ground-type attacks… Oh, oh…”

    The more and more I thought about it, the more devastated I became. I was about to be put up against an enemy that could use any attack in the world! One stroke of bad luck and I could surely be killed! I couldn’t face that.

    Then again, I couldn’t put any of my teammates in that situation either. Now, I decided to curse the gym leader for having such a dangerous pokémon on her team. That just wasn’t fair! It wasn’t! Surely it was against the rules. I peered over at Ezrem, who only nodded to me.

    “Ezrem! Ezrem—”

    But that was all I could say.

    “You should fight, Rennio! For our new trainer!” he said. He was trying to be reassuring, but I could tell that he didn’t have much hope for me. I didn’t know how I knew. It was a hunch of sorts that I couldn’t deny.

    “But it’s been so long! And the gym leader has t-two pokémon left!” I cried, flailing my arms around.

    “Please,” said Sai. “I need someone who won’t get hurt by electricity.”

    “But the clefairy can use attacks other than electric-type attacks!” I cried, but Sai just wasn’t getting it.

    “If you won’t fight for Sai,” Ezrem said loudly, “then you should fight for Annie.”

    Annie. That hit me, and it hit me hard. Even though she considered me her baby, I knew she wouldn’t want me to act like one forever. She’d want me to grow and be strong and proud. I just couldn’t do that, not when I was the last elekid in the world, not when my species’ continuation depended on me.

    But apparently, Sai took my quietness as a sign of surrender, as he said, “Okay. My elekid will fight.”

    And apparently, Ezrem took my time to think as a sign of surrender, too, as he pushed me into the arena and left with a cheery “Good luck!”

    I didn’t even have the energy to yell at him, to call him a jerk. Because that’s what he was being. A jerk! A real jerk… And what was I being?

    “All right,” Whitney said. “Clefairy, use doubleslap!”

    The clefairy was coming my way now. I knew that I had to get myself together, and fast. In reality, I knew I could win this battle. I had seen enough moves and strategies and battles for me to put something together quickly and come out as the victor. I had been on a journey long enough for me to have evolved into an electivire by now, though I hadn’t done that because Annie didn’t want a team of evolved pokémon. Yes, I knew that I could win, and easily. I wouldn’t die, or even come close to it. Still, I was frozen.

    I was still frozen as the clefairy came up and hit me in the cheeks, over and over again. There was hardly any pain; the clefairy wasn’t that strong, which again told me I could win, and that I wouldn’t die. But there was another pokémon to fight after this! Even if I mustered up the strength to fight the clefairy, I’d have to do it all over again whenever the second pokémon came out. I just couldn’t handle that. So I stood there.

    “Elekid, use your own thundershock!” Sai cried.

    My first command from Sai. And I wasn’t going to be able to follow it. I continued to let the clefairy hit me, and pretended it hurt. In some ways, it did hurt. It hurt my pride, what little of it I had left. It hurt my species, and the image of strength that I believed we had… I tried to imagine being the clefairy as it used its thundershock. I tried to remember the feeling of releasing the neverending amount of electricity from my body. But I was so detached from myself that I couldn’t imagine it.

    “Thundershock!” Sai said again, his voice louder this time.

    I vaguely heard Ezrem’s voice, too, cheering me on. Then, I heard everyone’s voice. They were all trying to encourage me to fight, but it wasn’t going to work. I could barely hear them above my own thoughts.

    I tried to imagine what it was like to be another elekid or electabuzz or electivire in their time of dying. Did it hurt? What move had finished them off? Or was it an accident? What happened when you died, anyway? What would happen to our legacy if I died and didn’t fulfill my goal to keep the species alive? It was times like these where I wished it was just all over already, so I wouldn’t have to bother trying.

    Finally, I tried to imagine Annie… What her face would look like if she were here right now… I saw the fire, and the smoke, and the faces those guards made when I showed up at the end of Ilex Forest… It all haunted me, and perhaps it always would.

    I knew—it all came down to one thing: I just wasn’t ready to move on. I just wasn’t ready to try.

    “I forfeit,” Sai suddenly said. “I forfeit! Stop hitting him!”

    The clefairy ceased its slapping session and stepped back. It smiled at me, but it was a painful smile, not a victorious smile. I wondered how pathetic it thought I was, and then decided I didn’t want to know. I bowed, turned around, and made my way back to my... new trainer, my new team.

    “I should have listened to you,” Sai said as I walked back. He put his hands on the sides of his head. “Why don’t I ever listen to anyone? Why do people always tell me what to do?”

    “It’s okay. It’s not your fault,” I said, suddenly feeling more terrible. I had been thinking far too much during the battle, but not once had I thought about Sai. Since he was my new trainer, I wanted to please him, I really did, but now I had done nothing but fail him and cause him to question himself.

    “It is my fault! They always tell me that it’s my fault—”

    “Who does?” Senori chimed in.

    “They always do! And now, I’m not listening, so they’re following me!” Sai cried, shaking his head.

    I looked at the team, hoping that they knew him well enough by now to know what to do when Sai got in these situations. But no one did anything, no one said anything. How could they not know? Then, I turned to Whitney, wondering if her knowledge of being a gym leader could help somehow. But she looked like she was about to cry, she was staring at us so sadly.

    “I need to go,” Sai said, turning around. He walked around the corner, going back through the maze that we came through. He even forgot his backpack.

    “Let’s go,” Senori said, leading us all to the maze as well after picking up the bag. When we reached the corner, though, we could hear him running instead of walking now. We started chasing after him, but when we reached the entrance to the gym, he had already left.

    “He’s probably going back to the pokémon center,” Senori offered.

    So we started heading there.

    “Rennio, you really gotta learn to fight again sometime,” Ezrem said on the way back. I knew that he was going to say something, but I didn’t want it to be now. Couldn’t he tell that I felt horrible about what happened? Couldn’t he tell that I was still shaken up?

    “I know,” I said quietly.

    “Really, I meant what I said! You gotta do it for Annie. But now, more importantly, you’ve got to do it for Sai. He’s our new trainer! He can give us the happiness we’ve always dreamed of! But we can’t just get it for free,” Ezrem said, his voice turning calmer now. “We have to work for it. Okay?”

    “I know.” My voice was barely above a whisper.

    “Okay. We’ll work on it. I know you can do it,” Ezrem said, and that was the end of that. The rest of the journey to the pokémon center was uneventful and quiet.

    We all thought that we’d find Sai locked in his room again, and we all thought that we’d have to sit outside in the hallway again. Senori knocked on the door over and over when we got to the room. But he didn’t answer. He wasn’t there.

    “Where else could he be?” Senori said, talking to himself more than he was talking to us.

    “Maybe the radio tower,” Atis offered.

    “A good idea.”

    But he wasn’t there either, despite the emotional reaction he had had there yesterday. He wasn’t at the flower shop, giving flowers to everyone. He wasn’t at the shopping mall, browsing and buying crazy things. We tried other places in the town, places we hadn’t explored yet. We tried searching all day.

    …I never expected it to happen so soon.

    I’m not talking about fighting, though that was unexpected, too. I’m talking about losing my trainer once more.

    Sai, we couldn’t find him anywhere.

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  19. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post

    SURVIVAL PROJECT

    chapter 13 ; [RENNIO]
    automatic

    *

    I had only been with Sai for a few days now, and already I could spot the many differences between him and Annie. For one, Sai was just weird. He’d never seen a movie before? Annie couldn’t leave a city without watching at least one. He bought knives as gifts? Okay, Annie might have done that, too, but I always thought she was silly for it, while she said it was a joke. Sai was clearly serious. And then there was the part where Sai fled out of nowhere! He seemed so easily frightened, and Annie was fearless. Were the two of them even from the same planet? It didn’t seem very likely.
    It kind of makes me wish the two of them could meet. Of course, we sadly know that's impossible. Or is it? You've surprised me before!

    Despite this, he was a good trainer—he kept us fed, sheltered, and was guilty when he felt he couldn’t take care of us. And I was glad to learn more about him. I was always glad to learn something about people. I had much to learn about the world, I knew, and being with this new team was helping me. I also learned more about religion thanks to Kuiora and her constantly following of Ezrem. She worshipped him, no doubt. I didn’t know how Ezrem was so special, though, but I didn’t say anything. And I learned that Atis was quiet, but I still have yet to figure out why. I hope someday to get him to talk to me.

    Senori, he told me his story about his old clan after I told him about Annie. We had been walking to the north side of town, to the flower shop that day.
    I like how you're showing the bonds growing between Sai's Pokemon. This is a very important thing for all authors to remember to do.

    “So there are others out there like me,” I said to him, trying to cheer him up after he kept looking down to the ground solemnly.

    “What do you mean?” he said, peering up.

    “There are pokémon—and probably people—out there who carry around an endless amount of guilt, and try to hide it,” I said. “It feels good to be understood, to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever felt understood before…”
    Wow, Rennio's pretty thoughtful. I have to admit I'm a little surprised at how deep he actually is.

    “Well,” Senori started, “if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. I like to take care of others, so you’re on the right team.”
    And that's very grown-up of Senori. I'm impressed with them both.

    I thought so, too.

    Over the past few days, the idea of the team being carried around by a ton of pain had… slightly gone away. With Senori and me, there was clearly a lot of pain. There was pain with Ezrem, too, but he hid it a lot better. And there was clearly something bothering Atis and Kuiora and Sai, but they showed me that they could forget about their suffering under the right circumstances. In their cases, they needed proper distractions, and then they seemed fine. I wondered how they felt, then, when reality came crashing down on them.
    Rennio, you're going to find out how the three of them act when reality comes crashing down on them very, very soon, I think.

    I decided to figure it out on my own rather than asking. Asking could be too personal, after all. “So what is it like to be happy, and then have your life come flying back into view out of nowhere?” I wanted to know, but that wouldn’t go over too well. So I kept an eye on the people and pokémon around as we went from place to place every day. I kept mental notes to myself, notes about every happy instance that I saw.

    A little green pokémon that looked suspiciously like one of the plush dolls we saw helped an older lady find her way to the shopping mall, as she was obviously lost, what with her going around in circles and everything. The little green pokémon helped the lady, and then went back to her trainer, receiving praise. That was happiness, I thought, being able to help others in their time of need. But who could I help at this moment? Senori was supposed to help me, so that didn’t make sense. I didn’t know the others well enough yet to determine whether they needed me. So I tried to lead Ezrem to all the places that we went to, tried to stay in front of him and tell him to follow me, but he brushed me off, scoffing each and every time. Still, I was glad to be with him.

    Something else I saw: a human saying hello to everyone and anyone he passed by on the street. Those he said hi to had originally been staring down at the ground rather emotionlessly, but as soon as they were acknowledged, they had a giant smile on their faces. I started saying hello to everyone, too. The pokémon I said hello to waved or said hello back, while the humans just looked at me, confused. I stopped once Kuiora told me that not every human was like Sai, that not all of them could understand pokémon—but it was an interesting experience for me nonetheless.

    Finally, I saw a most peculiar thing: a pokémon carrying another pokémon. The larger pokémon, the one who was doing the carrying, almost looked like a human, but its skin was blue in color, and it wasn’t wearing any clothes aside from a black belt around its waist. Its muscles were also fairly big compared to a human’s. The smaller pokémon was a simple purple rodent. My best guess was that it was injured somehow, probably from battle. Well, I could certainly sympathize with the rodent, and I left it at that.
    Very observant of Rennio, too. I have to admit I never expected anything like this from him.

    I could see this having unforeseen consequences, though. If Rennio continues to internalize his observations and place so much stock in them, it could affect him poorly in the long run.

    The rest of the city seemed sad, or emotionless, somehow.
    This strikes me as important, though I'm not sure why yet.

    So, what did I learn in Goldenrod City? I learned that people came and went… They interacted with each other, sometimes on a superficial level, and sometimes on a deeper level that only the people in question could understand… But why they interacted with others, I could only guess. Maybe it was to ease themselves in thinking they were important. Maybe they just liked the way others made them feel. And maybe they did it because they simply felt they had to, like it was a rule that all humans faced.

    In the end, I knew the truth: Annie was gone. I was still coming to terms with it, and it was hard, when everything reminded me of her. Even the way that the city air smelled reminded me of the many other places we had been. But there was nothing that I could do to bring her back, as much as I wanted to. There was nothing I could do to erase the fire, to erase our search for a new trainer, to erase the surprise and grief that accompanied us fully. All I had were memories to think of from time to time, when I felt I could handle it. So now I knew: when reality crashed back down on me, it felt like… being kissed by her ghost—as if she were kissing me on the cheek, calling me her baby, like she used to—and having her promising me that the distance between us was nothing.
    I love Rennio now. Not that I didn't like him before, but we're barely into this chapter and the way you're writing him is making me love him. He's seen way too much in his life already and I just want to see everything turn out okay for him.

    It didn’t take long, though, for my suffering to increase tenfold…
    But of course, things couldn't turn out okay. I expected it.

    Originally, Sai had planned for the gym battle to take place in two weeks. Two weeks! That gave me plenty of time to try to prepare mentally, in case he wanted me to fight. And while looking for happy pokémon and people, that’s partly what I did. Happiness could maybe keep the nerves from getting to me when the time came. I wished that I could say I was sure, but it had been far too long since I battled. The last time I had battled was against Ezrem when he had said something to offend me—whatever it was had escaped my mind now that I had forgiven him—and he knew better than anyone about my fear, so he went easy on me…

    That wasn’t very likely to happen in a gym battle, against two people who were very, very determined to defeat each other. Then again, I hadn’t seen Sai’s fighting style, nor much of the Johto region’s gym leader. I just didn’t know what to think.

    Needless to say, I was surprised when Sai announced that we would be going to the pokémon gym the day after we visited the radio tower. A while after calling Atis inside by himself for whatever reason, he gathered us all back into the room and sat us down to talk about it.
    I wonder how the other Pokemon would react if they knew about what happened in that room between Atis and Sai. That's the first thing that jumps into my mind.

    “After today, I’ve decided to forget about the appointment and just go,” he explained.

    “But why?” I couldn’t help but blurt out. Maybe it was childish of me—no, it definitely was—but it just wasn’t fair!

    “I know you’re new, Rennio, so you don’t know, right? We’ve been flying through the cities up until now. We’ve gotten the last two gym badges without problem. So we have to continue doing that, okay?” he said, trying to be reassuring. My nervousness must have been shining through somehow.
    Something's got Sai freaked out. It makes me wonder about the thought I had last chapter...

    I thought that Ezrem would say something in protest, but apparently he didn’t think it was his place to speak. And none of the other pokémon said anything, either—they were used to this already, and accepted it for what it was.

    But I couldn’t accept it. That night, I lay in the bottom bunk with everyone else, too anxious to sleep. And I wasn’t even sure if Sai would use me in battle or not! But what if he did? What if he used me in battle after all and I got hurt? What if I got injured so badly that I died, or had to be carried like that purple rodent? Who would carry me, then, and help me? Was there any help for me? There was just no telling what would happen to me tomorrow, and it killed me.

    I huddled up next to Ezrem, wishing for Annie’s warmth, and didn’t sleep at all.
    I know I keep saying it, but I just cannot get over how much I like your characterization. Rennio is just shining so much right now now that he's getting a chapter that really focuses on him. We're seeing straight into his mind and getting an amazing look at how he operates. Everything he feels is so understandable and makes so much sense that you can't help but sympathize with him.

    In the morning, we went to the Goldenrod City pokémon gym… just as planned. I tried to distract myself by finding more happy things in people and pokémon outside, but we were going far too fast for me to be able to pay attention to others and still keep up with everyone else. When we got there, I was more nervous than ever.

    Next distraction: the inside of the building. It almost felt like a maze, and an inviting one at that! Like the flower shop, the aroma inside was nice. Several plants lined the walls and the ground, and the walls were colored white with various shades of pink. Every time we walked to the end of a path and turned onto a new one, we hoped it was the last path that we’d have to go through, but they never seemed to end. I would have been okay with that.
    I am so glad you actually kept the design of the Goldenrod Gym. I couldn't imagine the Goldenrod Gym without the Clefairy maze.

    As luck would have it, we eventually reached the end of the… maze. It didn’t really feel like a maze anymore by the time we were done with it. It was too straightforward to be one. But as any path promises, we reached our destination and received our prize for it: the gym leader. She looked very young with that smile of hers, just like Annie had, and she almost blended in with the walls with her pink hair, her pink shorts, and her tight white shirt. It wasn’t much of a distraction, but I vaguely wondered what kind of pokémon she specialized in. I would soon find out, I supposed.

    “You’re back already?” she said in a sing song voice. “I thought we had set up an appointment. Not that many trainers set up appointments, anyway, but, you know.”

    “Yeah…” Sai said, rubbing the back of his head. “I’d like to just battle now, Whitney. If that’s possible, of course…”

    “Well, does it look like I’m busy?” Whitney retorted, spreading her arms out as if she was encouraging us to look around. All I saw were more plants, more walls. “We can battle now if that’s what you really want.”
    I see Whitney's the same as always. Good to see something that can be relied upon when so much is unpredictable.

    My heart fell, but Sai’s smile was wide.

    “Thank you so much,” he said.

    “Sure. It’ll be a two on two battle. Get over to that wall, and we’ll battle right here,” she instructed.

    “Okay,” Sai said. He turned and motioned for all of us to back up, which we did. When we were against the wall, I knew it was time for him to pick which pokémon he was going to use. “Kuiora”—I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding—“do you want to battle first? I know you like to fight.”

    “Yes! I do, I do!” she said immediately, and jumped back forward into the arena.
    Forgive me if I've forgotten something, but does Sai know that Whitney uses Normal-types? I thought Atis would be first.

    “All right, then, let’s get started,” Whitney said, smiling now. She reached behind her and pulled forth a pokéball. She didn’t say who was going to be choice of pokémon as she threw it forward. Perhaps not so surprisingly, a small, pink pokémon emerged from the ball. Yes, the pokémon was all pink, and it seemed exuberant over the fact with the hearty smile on its face and with its body dancing over to the middle of the arena.

    “Clefairy!” it cried.

    “I don’t know what that is,” Sai admitted, “so, uh, Kuiora, you can start off however you want.”

    “Too lazy to think of an opening strategy? That’s not going to help you win!” Whitney cried, putting her hands on her hips. “Clefairy, use encore when you get the chance.”

    I simply watched the battle, wondering what move Kuiora would use and have to repeat. Encore was a nasty, deceptive move, I knew, having had teammates be the victims of its manipulation once or twice.

    Kuiora looked like she wasn’t going to do anything at first, but then she pulled her body back, preparing for an attack. When her body lurched forward, she also released a massive stream of water from her mouth, and it was headed straight for the clefairy. The clefairy jumped to the left in an attempt to dodge it. When Kuiora simply moved her jaw in the direction of the clefairy’s location, the pink pokémon jumped to the right. Kuiora kept moving her body and the clefairy kept dancing around like this until the croconaw got fed up and stopped.

    “Why did you stop?” cried the clefairy. “It was such a good move! Please do it again!”

    “What?” Kuiora asked, dumbfounded. “You thought it was a good move? It didn’t even hit you!”

    “So? The water was so pretty.”

    “Uh, Kuiora—” Sai said, probably understanding now where this was going.

    “Fine,” she said, not listening. “I’ll do it again!”

    And she did exactly that. She did it the same way as she had done before, right down to the part where she had to keep chasing the clefairy by turning her jaw in the direction of the pink pokémon’s jumps. This time, however, the clefairy jumped not only to the left and right, but also forward—and eventually, it became close enough to become a threat to Kuiora. Despite this, Kuiora did not stop the attack.
    This is actually an excellent depiction of Encore's effect, and Kuiora and Clefairy make a great combination.

    “Clefairy, doubleslap!” cried Whitney.

    Since the clefairy was close enough, it took its tiny pink paws and scratched at Kuiora’s face, immediately stopping the flow of water emerging from her mouth. The clefairy did this over and over, on both sides of Kuiora’s face. Due to the tiny claws on its paws, the clefairy was able to draw a little bit of blood from Kuiora.

    “Kuiora, punch it back so it stops hitting you!” Sai cried.

    “Clefairy, keep using encore,” Whitney said calmly.

    “That’s… not… going to happen again!” Kuiora said in between slaps, and finally she pulled her arm back and punched the clefairy in the belly, sending it flying backward. The opponent’s pokémon landed on its feet, but just barely, as it was putting its paws against the ground to help keep composure.
    Good for Kuiora, actually managing to catch on to how Encore worked. I almost think Clefairy drawing blood helped snap her out of it.

    “But the water was so pretty,” the clefairy whined, dusting itself off.

    “Of course it’s pretty! It’s my attack,” Kuiora said, grinning wildly. Still, she knew this was no time to be joking around, and she got right back down to business shortly after, her face turning serious. She stood there in battle position, presumably waiting for a command from Sai.

    “Oh,” Sai said. “Well, water gun isn’t working, huh? Try bite!”

    “Okay!” Kuiora said, making me wonder how she could be so silly and so serious at the same time. I wondered about that regarding myself, often, as that’s how Ezrem described me—but it was another thing entirely to see it happening in another pokémon. I kept watching, intrigued by her—and Sai’s—battling style. Sai, it seemed, didn’t like to be too involved; he liked being a spectator, just like me.

    Kuiora leapt forward, dashing straight toward the clefairy, who simply stood there, also waiting for a command.

    “Use sing, Clefairy!” cried Whitney, a hint of franticness in her voice now. Apparently, that encore trick worked a lot longer in the past.
    That wasn't the way I was expecting the battle to turn here. I thought they would both stick to straightforward attacking.

    The clefairy had started the song before Whitney had even finished calling out her command. It sang a song that sounded suspiciously like a lullaby I had heard in the past. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my heart fell further, as it reminded me of Annie.
    Nice emotional touch right in the middle of the battle.

    As far as the battle went… The attack was meant to put Kuiora to sleep, but it didn’t have an effect on the croconaw. Either the clefairy didn’t have the time to sing enough of the song, or Kuiora was beyond determined to fulfill our trainer’s commands. She reached the clefairy rather quickly, opened her jaw, and clamped down on top of the clefairy’s head, immediately causing the pink pokémon’s lovely voice to be replaced by shrieking. This seemed to cause Kuiora to only bite harder, as the shrieking grew louder and louder over time. Eventually, the shrieking was reduced to crying, and Kuiora let go, leaping backward and surveying the damage.
    Well now, that was unexpected. I'm surprised Kuiora avoided falling asleep, and I'm even more surprised she attacked so viciously. Could evolution be coming again?

    “Clefairy, are you okay?” yelled Whitney. She looked like she was going to run into the arena, but stopped herself just in time.

    “Yeesh… It hurts…” the clefairy said, rubbing the top of its head, staining its hands with a tiny bit of blood. I decided never to get on Kuiora’s bad side, as her teeth seemed too powerful for me to handle.

    “Let’s keep going, clefairy! You can do it. Take your chances and use metronome!”
    Oh boy, this sure came out of nowhere. I bet whatever move it pulls is going to be shocking too.

    Surprisingly, I had never heard of this move before. I watched with interest as the clefairy did its best to recover and stand its ground. It took its bloodied hands and lifted them up in the air. Then it started moving its fingers in unison back and forth, back and forth. It did this for a long time, so long that I came to the conclusion that it was just a move to regain composure and focus one’s mind.

    “Um, okay,” Sai said, apparently having similar thoughts. “Use bite again, Kuiora!”

    Kuiora nodded and made her way over to her opponent, slower this time, probably not seeing the clefairy as much of a threat this time around. Once Kuiora reached the clefairy, she opened her mouth and was about to attack when the clefairy suddenly split into two. When Kuiora clamped her jaw down, the clefairy she was biting down on turned out to only be an illusion, one that disappeared just as quickly as it came.

    “What?” she cried. She looked around. The clefairy had split again and again, and now a total of five pink pokémon were surrounding Kuiora on the arena.
    Double Team, huh? That's not one I thought it would be.

    Whitney laughed and said, “You already know double team, Clefairy! But I guess it works. Use metronome again!”
    Okay, that was funny. Whitney shouldn't be revealing Clefairy's known moves to her opponent, but the surprise of Metronome pulling a movie Clefairy already had is worth a laugh.

    “Kuiora, find the real one, and fast!” Sai yelled as he was starting to finally see how dangerous the situation could turn out to be.

    Kuiora went to each clefairy, one by one, and attempted to punch each in the stomach. The illusions disappeared, and she could tell she was running out of time as all of the illusions—and the real one—were waving their fingers around again. She went through three of them before the clefairy’s fingers glowed brightly. I heard the familiar cackling of electricity coming from the arena, and closed my eyes in response. I knew what was going to happen next; I didn’t need to watch. I didn’t hear Kuiora cry out, but I did hear her fall to the ground with a thud. Only then did I dare to open my eyes and see that she had fainted.

    “Wow. A thundershock attack against a water-type! Yeah, how lucky!” Whitney said, confirming my thoughts. I let out a sigh of relief, glad that the thundershock attack was over. It had shaken me up inside, reminding me of my past battles, and how I had shocked others and been shocked myself. It was never fun, or fulfilling, or enlightening, or whatever pokémon battles were supposed to be.
    That was more like what I was expecting all along, something that would give Clefairy a trump card over Kuiora.

    “Whatever. I bet you knew it was going to an electric-type attack,” Sai said bitterly, returning Kuiora to her pokéball. He placed it in the backpack, which he had taken off and set behind him. “I guess that means I need someone who’s resistant to electricity…”

    I froze. I had the vague notion that I should curse Ezrem for being a flying-type pokémon, but that wouldn’t have been fair. I knew what was coming, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. There was nothing I could do in any situation, it seemed.

    “I want you to fight,” Sai said, turning to me.
    A Gym battle in a Rennio chapter probably inevitably means this was coming.

    “What?” I blurted out. Stupidly.

    “I want you to fight,” he repeated.

    “But—” I stopped myself, wondering what I could say. I didn’t know enough about the metronome attack to argue. In my haste, I tried to reason. “Whitney said that it was lucky, right? Right? That means—oh man—that the clefairy can use any attack out there… Any attack… Ground-type attacks… Oh, oh…”

    The more and more I thought about it, the more devastated I became. I was about to be put up against an enemy that could use any attack in the world! One stroke of bad luck and I could surely be killed! I couldn’t face that.

    Then again, I couldn’t put any of my teammates in that situation either. Now, I decided to curse the gym leader for having such a dangerous pokémon on her team. That just wasn’t fair! It wasn’t! Surely it was against the rules. I peered over at Ezrem, who only nodded to me.

    “Ezrem! Ezrem—”

    But that was all I could say.

    “You should fight, Rennio! For our new trainer!” he said. He was trying to be reassuring, but I could tell that he didn’t have much hope for me. I didn’t know how I knew. It was a hunch of sorts that I couldn’t deny.

    “But it’s been so long! And the gym leader has t-two pokémon left!” I cried, flailing my arms around.
    Now, once again, I'm surprised. I thought Rennio would be willing to fight and not freak out until something went wrong during the battle. Although, I suppose you could say that Metronome is the thing that went wrong.

    “Please,” said Sai. “I need someone who won’t get hurt by electricity.”

    “But the clefairy can use attacks other than electric-type attacks!” I cried, but Sai just wasn’t getting it.

    “If you won’t fight for Sai,” Ezrem said loudly, “then you should fight for Annie.”
    Very good logic, Ezrem. Maybe it'll help.

    Annie. That hit me, and it hit me hard. Even though she considered me her baby, I knew she wouldn’t want me to act like one forever. She’d want me to grow and be strong and proud. I just couldn’t do that, not when I was the last elekid in the world, not when my species’ continuation depended on me.
    That thing about being the last Elekid in the world is going to be a major arc in Rennio's story, I can tell.

    But apparently, Sai took my quietness as a sign of surrender, as he said, “Okay. My elekid will fight.”

    And apparently, Ezrem took my time to think as a sign of surrender, too, as he pushed me into the arena and left with a cheery “Good luck!”

    I didn’t even have the energy to yell at him, to call him a jerk. Because that’s what he was being. A jerk! A real jerk… And what was I being?

    “All right,” Whitney said. “Clefairy, use doubleslap!”

    The clefairy was coming my way now. I knew that I had to get myself together, and fast. In reality, I knew I could win this battle. I had seen enough moves and strategies and battles for me to put something together quickly and come out as the victor. I had been on a journey long enough for me to have evolved into an electivire by now, though I hadn’t done that because Annie didn’t want a team of evolved pokémon. Yes, I knew that I could win, and easily. I wouldn’t die, or even come close to it. Still, I was frozen.

    I was still frozen as the clefairy came up and hit me in the cheeks, over and over again. There was hardly any pain; the clefairy wasn’t that strong, which again told me I could win, and that I wouldn’t die. But there was another pokémon to fight after this! Even if I mustered up the strength to fight the clefairy, I’d have to do it all over again whenever the second pokémon came out. I just couldn’t handle that. So I stood there.
    I see where this is going, and it's not going to be pretty...

    “Elekid, use your own thundershock!” Sai cried.

    My first command from Sai. And I wasn’t going to be able to follow it. I continued to let the clefairy hit me, and pretended it hurt. In some ways, it did hurt. It hurt my pride, what little of it I had left. It hurt my species, and the image of strength that I believed we had… I tried to imagine being the clefairy as it used its thundershock. I tried to remember the feeling of releasing the neverending amount of electricity from my body. But I was so detached from myself that I couldn’t imagine it.
    Wait, I just realized - is Rennio not using Thundershock a representation of Pokemon originally owned by another trainer being unreliable in battle if the current trainer doesn't have enough Badges?

    “Thundershock!” Sai said again, his voice louder this time.

    I vaguely heard Ezrem’s voice, too, cheering me on. Then, I heard everyone’s voice. They were all trying to encourage me to fight, but it wasn’t going to work. I could barely hear them above my own thoughts.

    I tried to imagine what it was like to be another elekid or electabuzz or electivire in their time of dying. Did it hurt? What move had finished them off? Or was it an accident? What happened when you died, anyway? What would happen to our legacy if I died and didn’t fulfill my goal to keep the species alive? It was times like these where I wished it was just all over already, so I wouldn’t have to bother trying.

    Finally, I tried to imagine Annie… What her face would look like if she were here right now… I saw the fire, and the smoke, and the faces those guards made when I showed up at the end of Ilex Forest… It all haunted me, and perhaps it always would.

    I knew—it all came down to one thing: I just wasn’t ready to move on. I just wasn’t ready to try.
    This chapter has been a psychological study of Rennio the entire time, and here's the end result. While it was fairly predictable that Rennio would lose, the exact conclusion - that he isn't ready to move on from Annie - is what we had to wait to find out.

    “I forfeit,” Sai suddenly said. “I forfeit! Stop hitting him!”
    I didn't think this was how the battle would end, though.

    The clefairy ceased its slapping session and stepped back. It smiled at me, but it was a painful smile, not a victorious smile. I wondered how pathetic it thought I was, and then decided I didn’t want to know. I bowed, turned around, and made my way back to my... new trainer, my new team.

    “I should have listened to you,” Sai said as I walked back. He put his hands on the sides of his head. “Why don’t I ever listen to anyone? Why do people always tell me what to do?”

    “It’s okay. It’s not your fault,” I said, suddenly feeling more terrible. I had been thinking far too much during the battle, but not once had I thought about Sai. Since he was my new trainer, I wanted to please him, I really did, but now I had done nothing but fail him and cause him to question himself.

    “It is my fault! They always tell me that it’s my fault—”

    “Who does?” Senori chimed in.

    “They always do! And now, I’m not listening, so they’re following me!” Sai cried, shaking his head.
    Another possibility for who Sai is jumped into my head after reading this. There's definitely something going on with him.

    “Rennio, you really gotta learn to fight again sometime,” Ezrem said on the way back. I knew that he was going to say something, but I didn’t want it to be now. Couldn’t he tell that I felt horrible about what happened? Couldn’t he tell that I was still shaken up?

    “I know,” I said quietly.

    “Really, I meant what I said! You gotta do it for Annie. But now, more importantly, you’ve got to do it for Sai. He’s our new trainer! He can give us the happiness we’ve always dreamed of! But we can’t just get it for free,” Ezrem said, his voice turning calmer now. “We have to work for it. Okay?”

    “I know.” My voice was barely above a whisper.

    “Okay. We’ll work on it. I know you can do it,” Ezrem said, and that was the end of that. The rest of the journey to the pokémon center was uneventful and quiet.
    Rennio is going to have to get over Annie eventually. I just can tell it's not going to be easy.

    We all thought that we’d find Sai locked in his room again, and we all thought that we’d have to sit outside in the hallway again. Senori knocked on the door over and over when we got to the room. But he didn’t answer. He wasn’t there.
    Oh no, here we go. Sai lost it again.

    “Where else could he be?” Senori said, talking to himself more than he was talking to us.

    “Maybe the radio tower,” Atis offered.

    “A good idea.”

    But he wasn’t there either, despite the emotional reaction he had had there yesterday. He wasn’t at the flower shop, giving flowers to everyone. He wasn’t at the shopping mall, browsing and buying crazy things. We tried other places in the town, places we hadn’t explored yet. We tried searching all day.

    …I never expected it to happen so soon.

    I’m not talking about fighting, though that was unexpected, too. I’m talking about losing my trainer once more.

    Sai, we couldn’t find him anywhere.
    It's bad enough when you look at the impact that this obviously has on Rennio, the idea of losing Sai after losing Annie. But if you look at it on a bigger level, it's even worse - this may very well be the worst breakdown Sai's had yet.

    Excellent chapter. It had a very fascinating character study of Rennio that really made me love him, and the drama surrounding Sai in this chapter added a good, heavy emotional background. I'm glad I read this right away.

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  20. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    Something else I saw: a human saying hello to everyone and anyone he passed by on the street. Those he said hi to had originally been staring down at the ground rather emotionlessly, but as soon as they were acknowledged, they had a giant smile on their faces. I started saying hello to everyone, too. The pokémon I said hello to waved or said hello back, while the humans just looked at me, confused. I stopped once Kuiora told me that not every human was like Sai, that not all of them could understand pokémon—but it was an interesting experience for me nonetheless.
    This scene is really cute. It's very childlike and innocent.

    |So now I knew: when reality crashed back down on me, it felt like… being kissed by her ghost—as if she were kissing me on the cheek, calling me her baby, like she used to—and having her promising me that the distance between us was nothing.
    Wonderful way with words and imagery, as always.

    “I know you’re new, Rennio, so you don’t know, right? We’ve been flying through the cities up until now. We’ve gotten the last two gym badges without problem. So we have to continue doing that, okay?” he said, trying to be reassuring. My nervousness must have been shining through somehow.
    That is a curious way of putting it. You usually think of GOOD qualities as "shining through", not a quality you'd be embarrassed of.

    As luck would have it, we eventually reached the end of the… maze. It didn’t really feel like a maze anymore by the time we were done with it. It was too straightforward to be one. But as any path promises, we reached our destination and received our prize for it: the gym leader. She looked very young with that smile of hers, just like Annie had, and she almost blended in with the walls with her pink hair, her pink shorts, and her tight white shirt. It wasn’t much of a distraction, but I vaguely wondered what kind of pokémon she specialized in. I would soon find out, I supposed.
    Usually when people say "as luck would have it", they mean GOOD luck. But Rennio didn't want to face the gym leader. So why would he say that? Most likely because the only luck he's really known has been bad (or, at least, that's how he'd view it).

    Also... not loving the "I supposed" at the end there. I think it'd be more foreboding and tense without those last two words.

    “Why did you stop?” cried the clefairy. “It was such a good move! Please do it again!”

    “What?” Kuiora asked, dumbfounded. “You thought it was a good move? It didn’t even hit you!”

    “So? The water was so pretty.”

    “Uh, Kuiora—” Sai said, probably understanding now where this was going.

    “Fine,” she said, not listening. “I’ll do it again!”
    Ha! That's Encore, huh? Creative, and it got a laugh out of me.

    “I should have listened to you,” Sai said as I walked back. He put his hands on the sides of his head. “Why don’t I ever listen to anyone? Why do people always tell me what to do?”
    Hmmmmm.....?

    “They always do! And now, I’m not listening, so they’re following me!” Sai cried, shaking his head.
    So Sai has some actual ties to Team Rocket? They tell him what to do?


    -Good chapter...I did a lot of reading without much to comment on because the story was very well-done and engrossing; your battle scenes are always a lot of fun, even if poor Kuiora got hurt.

    -We didn't seem to get much character from Whitney, but I suppose she'll be back. Then again, this is some definite rising action from Sai; perhaps this will be a turning point of the story, and we won't be doing the journey anymore. Who's to say? I just think I wouldn't be surprised at all if the scope of the story changes here...


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  21. #146
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    For one, Sai was just weird
    Hah! I love Rennio already

    “Well,” Senori started, “if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. I like to take care of others, so you’re on the right team.”
    I called that! I knew he would lend a helping, emotional shoulder to Rennio if he ever needed it.

    The larger pokémon, the one who was doing the carrying, almost looked like a human, but its skin was blue in color, and it wasn’t wearing any clothes aside from a black belt around its waist. Its muscles were also fairly big compared to a human’s
    Machoke wouldn't go near a Rattata! You know that! lol I'm excited that you had one drop in for a moment

    I learned that people came and went… They interacted with each other, sometimes on a superficial level, and sometimes on a deeper level that only the people in question could understand… But why they interacted with others, I could only guess. Maybe it was to ease themselves in thinking they were important. Maybe they just liked the way others made them feel. And maybe they did it because they simply felt they had to, like it was a rule that all humans faced.
    Wonderfully described and terrific observation. I think the quoted portion is something we all think about but we let it slip away into not thinking about it because we're so used to it. That portion though, you hit it right on the money. I've told you many times that you have a talent with transferring observations and feelings, but that passage really is the bee's knees

    “Why did you stop?” cried the clefairy. “It was such a good move! Please do it again!”
    Really creative way to release Encore. Almost like taunt in fact, but nicer and more flattering.

    I didn’t need to watch. I didn’t hear Kuiora cry out, but I did hear her fall to the ground with a thud.
    That line felt odd to me as if he heard anything he would have heard her cry because it would assuredly be louder than her hitting the floor

    “If you won’t fight for Sai,” Ezrem said loudly, “then you should fight for Annie.”
    What a jerk for saying that, but I like how you've molded the relationship between the two of them to the point where he can affect Rennio so easily. I mean, his kinda mean-spirited and loquacious nature tells me that he can get almost anyone (except Sai) to do anything pretty easily, but underneath all that not only is he wordy and extremely off-putting, but he also seems extremely intelligent; which makes him potentially more threatening.

    “They always do! And now, I’m not listening, so they’re following me!” Sai cried, shaking his head.
    Hmmm. Maybe he's just a misunderstood kid running from a bad home life? Yeesh, every time I think I'm formulating an idea you drop something like this on me and I get forced back to square one. I liked the quoted portion because this is one of the few times I'm feeling real emotion from him. At the same time though I'm not really understanding the significance of what he's saying. I'm liking the fact that I'm confused lol

    Overall, another good chapter. The only thing that kinda irked me slightly was the pacing of Kuiora's battle with Clefairy. For some reason it felt too slow; both Whitney and Sai didn't really feel like there head was truly in the fight. They had time for some short sentences each while they're Pokemon were fighting and the fighting itself just felt a little too slow. Like the examining of the blood that came from the injuries the Clefairy; I just felt like instances like that took away from how fast-paced and exciting I felt like the occasion should have been. Other than that slight thing I thought it was great and as always I eagerly await the next chapter

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the banner above, and Sworn Metalhead for the banner below -


    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

  22. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    It kind of makes me wish the two of them could meet. Of course, we sadly know that's impossible. Or is it? You've surprised me before!
    What are you talking about? I never surprise anyone!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I like how you're showing the bonds growing between Sai's Pokemon. This is a very important thing for all authors to remember to do.
    It's easily forgettable when the friendships between each other often aren't the most important thing I'm focusing on.



    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Rennio, you're going to find out how the three of them act when reality comes crashing down on them very, very soon, I think.
    Probably...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I love Rennio now. Not that I didn't like him before, but we're barely into this chapter and the way you're writing him is making me love him. He's seen way too much in his life already and I just want to see everything turn out okay for him.
    Cute.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I wonder how the other Pokemon would react if they knew about what happened in that room between Atis and Sai. That's the first thing that jumps into my mind.
    I think they've even more confused and lost.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Something's got Sai freaked out. It makes me wonder about the thought I had last chapter...
    I'm interested in these thoughts of yours.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I know I keep saying it, but I just cannot get over how much I like your characterization. Rennio is just shining so much right now now that he's getting a chapter that really focuses on him. We're seeing straight into his mind and getting an amazing look at how he operates. Everything he feels is so understandable and makes so much sense that you can't help but sympathize with him.
    I'm glad you like his characterization. I always thought he was my weakest character when it came to writing this, so... Lol.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I am so glad you actually kept the design of the Goldenrod Gym. I couldn't imagine the Goldenrod Gym without the Clefairy maze.
    Me neither!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Forgive me if I've forgotten something, but does Sai know that Whitney uses Normal-types? I thought Atis would be first.
    He does know, but he doesn't want to make Atis fight if he doesn't want to, and he likes catering to Kuiora anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Well now, that was unexpected. I'm surprised Kuiora avoided falling asleep, and I'm even more surprised she attacked so viciously. Could evolution be coming again?
    It's possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Now, once again, I'm surprised. I thought Rennio would be willing to fight and not freak out until something went wrong during the battle. Although, I suppose you could say that Metronome is the thing that went wrong.
    I thought about having it that way too, but I think he's more paralyzed when it comes to battling than that.



    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Wait, I just realized - is Rennio not using Thundershock a representation of Pokemon originally owned by another trainer being unreliable in battle if the current trainer doesn't have enough Badges?
    Partly.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Excellent chapter. It had a very fascinating character study of Rennio that really made me love him, and the drama surrounding Sai in this chapter added a good, heavy emotional background. I'm glad I read this right away.
    Glad you liked it! Thanks for commenting!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Usually when people say "as luck would have it", they mean GOOD luck. But Rennio didn't want to face the gym leader. So why would he say that? Most likely because the only luck he's really known has been bad (or, at least, that's how he'd view it).
    I guess I wasn't familiar with that term. I thought it could refer to good luck or bad luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Also... not loving the "I supposed" at the end there. I think it'd be more foreboding and tense without those last two words.
    I seem to bother you a lot with this... lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    -Good chapter...I did a lot of reading without much to comment on because the story was very well-done and engrossing; your battle scenes are always a lot of fun, even if poor Kuiora got hurt.
    I'm glad you liked it, considering it was a Rennio chapter. Thanks for commenting!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    I called that! I knew he would lend a helping, emotional shoulder to Rennio if he ever needed it.
    You did! It's actually been appearing a lot more now that I've been writing more chapters. I thank you for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Wonderfully described and terrific observation. I think the quoted portion is something we all think about but we let it slip away into not thinking about it because we're so used to it. That portion though, you hit it right on the money. I've told you many times that you have a talent with transferring observations and feelings, but that passage really is the bee's knees
    Glad you liked it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    That line felt odd to me as if he heard anything he would have heard her cry because it would assuredly be louder than her hitting the floor
    I agree, it sounds weird. I'll have to go back and fix it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Hmmm. Maybe he's just a misunderstood kid running from a bad home life? Yeesh, every time I think I'm formulating an idea you drop something like this on me and I get forced back to square one. I liked the quoted portion because this is one of the few times I'm feeling real emotion from him. At the same time though I'm not really understanding the significance of what he's saying. I'm liking the fact that I'm confused lol
    Lol, nice. You're getting more simpler with your ideas, though, which is good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Overall, another good chapter. The only thing that kinda irked me slightly was the pacing of Kuiora's battle with Clefairy. For some reason it felt too slow; both Whitney and Sai didn't really feel like there head was truly in the fight. They had time for some short sentences each while they're Pokemon were fighting and the fighting itself just felt a little too slow. Like the examining of the blood that came from the injuries the Clefairy; I just felt like instances like that took away from how fast-paced and exciting I felt like the occasion should have been. Other than that slight thing I thought it was great and as always I eagerly await the next chapter
    I can see why you'd think that. I'll have to work on writing battles in the future, since there'll be quite a few. Thanks for pointing it out and for commenting.

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  23. #148
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    SURVIVAL PROJECT

    chapter 14 ; [SENORI]
    chance

    *

    We thoroughly searched the city and its outskirts for two days before we… stopped. I don’t want to say that we gave up, but it almost felt that way. It seemed that we had accepted the fact that Sai was erratic, and to find any sort of predictability in his life was impossible and a waste of time. So we stopped searching—or gave up—all the while hoping that he would come back to us, and soon.

    Though we had settled on having him find us, I of course was worried about him and his health. Surely, a human thinking that other humans following him wasn’t a good sign. There was that and the fact that he had left his backpack behind, so where he could go without access to money—and therefore human food—was beyond me. And hadn’t he said his home was in Vermilion City? That was in another region entirely! There was no way he would be going so far away to see that female friend or family member of his, but then… where else could he have gone? Nothing made sense to me.

    But I didn’t have much time to think about Sai, because while we waiting for him to get over whatever spell he was going through, we had to figure out how to take care of ourselves. For the first day, things were easy. Since Sai had left his backpack behind, we had access to the room key and were able to stay in the pokémon center room. All I had to do was climb on Kuiora’s back and insert the key into the lock, and we were inside, even after a few unsuccessful tries on my part.

    In one of our many group discussions, it was suggested that we try backtracking and going to Azalea Town, but it was too risky. What if Sai came back while we were gone? The idea of going to the next city, where no one had ever gone before, was worse. Besides, it was even riskier to separate and not be able to keep an eye out on each other—it was especially worrisome for the younger pokémon like Kuiora and Rennio. The only ones capable of taking care of them were me, Ezrem, and Atis. But I had so painfully learned that I couldn’t be in two places at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to trust Ezrem when I was so far away from him, and Atis didn’t seem too interested in the job anyway. I decided it, then: we would stay in Goldenrod City.

    The next problem had us questioning whether or not we would be staying in the pokémon center until Sai came back, or if we would have to settle for temporarily living as wild pokémon again.

    “I don’t want to be spending all of Sai’s money,” I said, “but I want him to have a place where he can look for us when he comes back.”

    “If he comes back,” Kuiora said.

    I shot her a look and said, “He’ll come back.”

    “How do you know?”

    I didn’t know, but I had to believe in him. I had to believe that this journey wasn’t all for nothing and that it wasn’t going to crash so easily. “I just know,” I said.

    “Well,” Kuiora said, “I don’t care what we do, but it’d be cool to know what it’s like to be a wild pokémon.”

    “You don’t want to know,” Rennio said rather solemnly. He was probably still feeling guilty, and I didn’t blame him.

    “No one else has anything to add?” I said, trying to keep things on topic.

    “I-I think we should stay here… for now,” Atis said.

    “You do?”

    “Yeah… This is a big city, and it’ll be a lot harder to find him when we’re out in the wild…” Atis replied.

    “Fair enough,” Senori said. “In that case, I say we should stay here for five days. That seems like a reasonable amount of time, right? If he’s not back in five days, then we’ll leave.”

    No one protested or offered any other possible solutions.

    And just as I had suggested, we waited for five days. Amidst all the curious thoughts I had about Sai, I tried to take care of everyone. If anyone wanted to be out of the room—which was fairly often, as our personalities liked to clash so much—the pokémon that wanted to leave had to make sure that someone was still there, just in case Sai came back. For food and water, we used what Sai’s backpack had available; there was plenty to spread around. We passed the time mostly by sleeping, and there was the occasional teasing between Atis, Kuiora, and Ezrem. I thought that I even heard Rennio crying at some point, but I didn’t want to intrude. He needed time to heal, I knew.

    Yes, we waited for five days… but Sai didn’t show up.

    *

    Needless to say, it was unfavorable to all of us when I said that we were going to leave the pokémon center room and return to the wild for now. We were bored and antsy and confused and we just wanted our trainer to be back, but we had to make the best out of our situation.

    That was when Ezrem spoke up.

    “Who said that you get to be in charge here?” he said.

    “W-What?” I said, not expecting that from him at all. Even though I didn’t trust him, I didn’t expect him to have anything against me.

    “I asked you what makes you think you get to be the boss of everyone.”

    “Well,” I said, pausing because I really didn’t know, I really didn’t deserve it, “no one else wants the position, do they?”

    “I do,” said Ezrem, standing up and walking over to me. “I’ll be the new leader.”

    “You?” I said. “You’re not even officially on the team!”

    “I can make a better leader than you.”

    “You think so? How?”

    “I’ve been with a trainer a lot longer than you, so I know what to do in dangerous situations,” he explained. After a moment, he added, “Plus, when we met, I gave you good advice on how to win that battle, so you owe me.”

    “You may have been with a trainer longer, but you haven’t been with our trainer as long as I have. I was Sai’s first pokémon!” I said proudly. I could feel Kuiora’s subsequent glare.

    “We should stay here. It’d be safer! What are you going to do if an extra strong pokémon attacks us? Huh?”

    I thought for a moment before saying, “The pokémon around the forest are weaker, we already know that. We could stay there.”

    “What about food and water?”

    “We have food and water in Sai’s backpack still. And we know how to get food in the wild. Is that what you’re afraid of? You don’t know how to be a good wild pokémon, so you want to hide?” I said, grinning.

    “That’s not it. I just think it’s a dumb idea!”

    “Look, Sai’s money is not ours to spend. We need to save it for when he has to buy us stuff. And what are we going to do when we run out of food and water? We can’t go buying food like a human can. We were lucky that Sai had paid for the five nights we’ve spent here already!”

    “And what are you going to do when a trainer comes along and tries to catch us?”

    “I’m not worried about that. We’re strong, and can’t be caught by pokéballs,” I said, feeling more confident in myself when Ezrem didn’t say anything in response. “Now, I think everyone should have an escort that stays with them. This should keep everyone safe, especially when you want to wander off and do whatever.”

    “Fine,” Ezrem said, smiling now and going back to sit with the others. “I’ll let you be the leader if I get to go with Kuiora.”

    “Really?” Kuiora squealed.

    “Yes, really!”

    “That’s fine,” I said. I looked at Rennio and Atis. Both of them had been mostly quiet until now, but it was time to get their input. “I’d like to take Rennio with me, so I can protect him if needed. Is that okay with you, Atis? You’re strong enough to handle yourself, right?”

    “Right,” Atis said immediately, and I could tell he was thankful for my decision to put him alone.

    “Okay, then Rennio is coming with me. Is that fine?”

    “Yeah,” Rennio said simply, looking down. I could tell he felt ashamed, and perhaps a little upset that he wasn’t with Ezrem. I looked over to the bird to see if he had any reaction to the pairings, but he was busy talking with the croconaw.

    “Good,” I said softly. “Then let’s go.”

    *

    If Ezrem was good for anything, it was for deciding where to stay while we were in the wild, because he had brought up a good point, after all: strong pokémon could be out there. Staying near the forest was our best bet. So I took everyone to the outskirts of the forest, a little bit past the daycare center. Kuiora suggested that we stay at the daycare center for the time being, but I explained that that, too, would cost money that wasn’t ours to spend.

    And so began our journey into the wild once more. If I was being honest, it did feel strange to be back right where I started. Still, I had to continue believing that Sai would return when he was ready, no matter how long it took. He was my trainer, and he wouldn’t just abandon us like that.

    It was amusing, at least, watching Kuiora try to be a wild pokemon. I second guessed my decision to let her be paired together with Ezrem, noting his deceitful nature, but he seemed to genuinely help her out. I had suggested that they try to avoid the food and water in the backpack and try to earn it out in the open, so that they always had something to come back to if they were desperate. Surprisingly, they listened, so now Ezrem was teaching her that drinking out of ponds and rivers was the only way to get water, aside from having her shoot out water guns, of course. And since killing wild pokémon for food was apparently against his personal beliefs, Ezrem and Kuiora explored the area to find out where the best berries were, and he taught her how to choose which ones were good to eat.

    “This isn’t fair. I have to be a wild pokémon again? I’m sick of these berries and gross pond water!” Ezrem said once, but I knew he was just making excuses so he could devour the food and water in the backpack, so I laughed at him.

    “Don’t laugh at Ezrem,” Kuiora said seriously.

    “You should choose your battles more wisely,” I said, remembering how Kuiora had recently confronted Ezrem to stick up for Atis.

    “Whatever you say.”

    I laughed again. Whatever I said, huh? I admitted that I liked when everyone followed my rules, my directions. It made me feel like a leader again. Granted, I had always felt like the leader of this team, since Sai seemed incapable of taking care of himself sometimes, but now, this only confirmed my self-centered thoughts and made me feel as if I were truly back with my clan once again. Still, I hoped Sai would return, because a part of me felt lost without him.

    Atis stuck to himself, which wasn’t a shock at all. Occasionally, he tried to help out Kuiora when Ezrem could only laugh at her for whatever reason, so that was nice to see. But otherwise, he stayed in between the trees and kept himself hidden, and he slept by himself, as usual.

    As for Rennio and me… Well, it was a quiet adventure. That was the best way I could put it. I just couldn’t get many words out of him, no matter how much I tried to make small talk. He knew what he was doing, however. He knew how to pick berries, where to get water, and he followed all the rules I put on him—the ones that said we should all sleep together, we shouldn’t leave our partners, and so on. So he wasn’t completely intolerable.

    Eventually, though, I decided to try getting to the root of the problem, since it was clear that making small talk with him wasn’t going to get us anywhere.

    “It’s not your fault, you know,” I said to him a couple days after we had ventured out into the wild.

    “Huh?” he said—with no emotion, so I knew he was pretending to not know what I was talking about.

    “It’s not your fault that Sai left,” I said. “He’s always been a little bit weird. If you had been around longer, I guarantee that you wouldn’t be blaming yourself as much as you are now.”

    “How do you know I’ve been blaming myself?” he said. That was the longest sentence I had gotten out of him thus far.

    “Because I’ve felt guilty for things in my life, just like you, remember? Once you feel guilty for one thing, you pretty much feel guilty for everything bad that follows. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.”

    “Oh. Yeah. You’re right.”

    “See? So don’t worry about it,” I assured him, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

    “I’ll try not to.”

    “Is that all that’s bugging you?” I said, having a feeling that there was something else. There was always something else when it came to guilt—it was true. I hadn’t lied to him.

    “Well,” Rennio said, “we’re so close to where my trainer was killed. I don’t know if I like it.” A pause. “Okay, I definitely don’t like it.”

    “I understand,” I said. “I went back to my clan after the incident, and it wasn’t exactly the best experience in the world.”

    “Really?”

    “Yeah. But it helped me start to let go. So hopefully, this can be the start of your new adventure… again. You get a third chance.”

    Rennio chuckled lightly. It was a success in my book. But then he frowned and sniffled… and then he started sobbing.

    “I’m sorry,” he said, wiping at his eyes. “Water is supposed to be a good thing for electric-type pokémon, I know, but I can’t help but be so sad.”

    “It’s okay. Don’t cry,” I said. “Don’t cry.”

    He did anyway.

    *

    We continued with what we were doing. At least we were no longer bored and antsy, but we still definitely wanted our trainer to come back. But then, there was an incident. As if our luck couldn’t get any worse.

    Sai’s backpack was stolen.

    Even though I carried it by day and kept it near me by night, it was stolen. One night, we had gone to sleep with it there, and when we woke up, it was gone.

    All that money, all that food, all that water… It was now gone. I vaguely wondered if Sai had come back to pick it up, but it didn’t seem likely. Surely he would have taken us with him if that were the case. Also, even if he was back in Goldenrod City, he wouldn’t know where we were. So someone—another trainer, probably—had swiped it while we were sleeping.

    “Really?” Ezrem remarked, grinning. “It’s ironic to have all that money and food and water stolen when you were trying not to use it all, don’t you think? I knew I should have been the leader.”

    I said nothing, evaluating the situation. On one hand, things were not so bad. We were faring quite nicely in the wild, here. The loss of water and food was not a problem. It was really the loss of money that worried me. What would happen when Sai came back and found that all of his hard earned cash was gone? Even worse, the two badges we had won were gone! How would he react to that? Would he go crazy again? Would he leave again? That’s how unpredictable he was.

    I sighed.

    “I guess we could keep an eye out for it,” I said. “Other than that, there’s nothing we can do but keep going on, just like we have been.”

    Everyone agreed, even Ezrem, so that’s exactly what we did. The group dispersed and separated into escorts once more, except, I noted, that Ezrem went over to Rennio and whispered to him about something for a few moments before returning to Kuiora. He must have said something better than I did, because later on, Rennio actually decided to start a conversation with me.

    “Do you feel guilty now, too?” he said.

    “Of course. I was in charge of the backpack, after all. All of Sai’s stuff…”

    “Well, don’t feel bad! I just remembered something about Goldenrod City as you were talking. I know of a way we can fix things!” Rennio said, smiling at me.

    “You do?”

    “Yeah! When we were exploring a bit with Atis, someone told me a secret about the people of Goldenrod City.”

    “Oh…?”

    “Apparently, they’re very giving people. They like to help out in others’ times of need. A human could walk up to another human, ask to borrow their kitchen, and the kitchen owner would say yes in a heartbeat! I’ll bet they’re kind to pokémon, too.”

    “So you’re saying we should go to a bunch of human houses and replace the stuff we had in the backpack?”

    “Exactly!”

    “Uh,” I said, stunned. I hadn’t heard anyone say such a thing about the people of Goldenrod City, but it certainly was plausible. It’s not like we would be breaking into their houses and stealing or anything. No, they would be offering to us. Maybe it was finally a sign of luck coming our way. We could really maybe replace the money, food, water we had lost, as well as some of Sai’s clothes.

    “We wouldn’t be able to replace the badges we lost,” I finally said. That was the most important part to me; that was what we had worked the hardest for.

    “No, but perhaps Sai won’t even notice,” Rennio offered.

    “You’re certainly optimistic,” I pointed out.

    “So, are we going to do it or not?”

    “It’s worth a try,” I said. I just couldn’t ignore that happy face of his, especially when he was so forlorn the day before. “We can even keep an eye out for Sai while we’re there, which is good. Let’s go.”

    “Now?”

    “Now.”

    *

    We let everyone know where we would be for the rest of the day, and then we headed back to Goldenrod City. I should have known better than to get my hopes up, because we didn’t see Sai anywhere.

    “He’ll come back,” Rennio said, and I thought about how ironic it was that our roles had switched so suddenly.

    “Yeah. I know,” I said, but I wasn’t entirely sure that I sounded at all convincing.

    Coming back to Goldenrod City sure brought back some memories; it already seemed like forever since we had been here. Mostly, they were good memories. Sai was out expanding his horizons while Atis was breaking out of his shell. Kuiora and Ezrem got closer, and Rennio… Well, Rennio got the worst of it, but still. This city was on my list of favorites—until Sai had left us, of course.

    Now, we had to pick up the pieces after his selfish disappearing act. I had had high hopes up until this point, because the idea of going from house to house to replace his belongings made everything feel all too real, and I didn’t want to accept that my trainer, the one I had put so much faith in since the very beginning, would do this sort of thing.

    “Are we sure this house belongs to a human?” I asked when we came upon our first potential helpers. “This isn’t a building like the flower shop or anything, right?”

    “Don’t know. Who cares? Anyone could help us out at this point.”

    “True,” I said. I looked up, overwhelmed by the tallness of the house’s door. I wished that, for a moment, I could grow to the necessary height to be able to look into a human’s eyes, and plead for help in our time of need. That wasn’t going to happen—I simply knocked on the door as hard as I could with my little brown paws.

    At first, no one answered. We waited outside the door for a very awkward few minutes before I suggested that maybe no one was home.

    “Try knocking again. I know that sometimes, if you’re persistent, people will eventually answer,” Rennio offered.

    So I knocked again. Sure enough, someone showed up within the minute. I couldn’t tell if Rennio was right or if I just hadn’t knocked loud enough, but I made a note to remember his words for future houses.

    The person who answered the door was a man who looked like he was older than Sai, but he didn’t look as wrinkly as the lady at the daycare center. He had blonde hair that was parted in the middle, and brown eyes. He looked like he was wearing pajamas, which I thought was odd until I realized the sun was already setting, and that it was probably around dinner time. My stomach rumbled in response.

    This seemed to catch the man’s attention, since before, he was just looking out the door with a blank look, wondering who on earth had been there. Finally, he looked down at us, and smiled.

    “Pokémon at my door, huh? That’s a new one,” he said. My heart fell—maybe the people of Goldenrod City weren’t so accustomed to giving out items and food to pokémon, after all. I was about to lose hope and turn around when he added, “Sounds like you’re hungry. Are you here for food?”

    I nodded as vigorously as I could. Yes, we were hungry! Yes, we needed food! Nevermind the fact that we could get food back where we were camping. We wanted human food or pokémon food, it didn’t matter which. To avoid looking desperate, I didn’t say any of this, of course.

    “One moment,” he said, closing the door on us.

    “I can’t believe that worked,” I said, turning to Rennio, who had a wide grin on his face.

    “See? I told you. All of our problems are solved!” he cried, jumping up and down excitedly.

    “Yeah,” I said. Then, in a quieter tone: “Sai will be happy.”

    A few moments later, the door opened again, and there stood the same man as before. He leaned down to hand us a bag of opened pokémon food.

    “Here,” he said. “I’m sure my snubbull won’t mind sharing, right?”

    “Awesome,” I said. “Thank you very much.”

    “Have a good night,” he said, and closed the door once more.

    Again, I couldn’t believe it had worked. Maybe all of our problems really were solved. There was only one way to find out, so we went next door to get to the next house. Again, I knocked—as loud as I could this time around.

    And again, someone answered the door for us! Things were going a lot easier than I had anticipated. Well, I don’t know what I had been anticipating, but it wasn’t this.

    Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

    We ran into some immediate trouble as soon as I said, “Hello!”

    The person—this time a lady with brown hair and brown eyes, also wearing lazy clothes—peered down at us. She didn’t greet us with a smile, though. She looked at me, puzzled, and was about to close the door on us. She only failed because I stuck half my body into the door so she couldn’t get rid of us that easily.

    “Wait!” I yelled. “We’re just looking for some food… or water… or clothes. Anything you don’t need, anything you want to get rid of! Someone stole all of our stuff, so, yeah…”

    But still, she looked at me oddly, remaining mute. Suddenly, it hit me. She couldn’t understand pokémon. The language barrier wasn’t an issue at the last house because my stomach had spoken for me by rumbling ever so loudly.

    “Sorry, I don’t know what you’re saying. Good-bye now,” she said, confirming my suspicions. She went to close the door again, and this time I didn’t stop her.

    “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” Rennio said as we walked away from the house. “I’ve always been so used to having Annie understand me… Sai could understand me, too…”

    “All these gold houses look the same. You would think that all the people inside them would be the same—nice and friendly, like that first guy,” I said.

    “That’s not how things work, I guess.”

    “Apparently not.”

    “Should we keep looking until we find someone who can understand pokémon?”

    “Is it worth it? I mean, how many people can really understand us? Mostly trainers, and I’ll bet the trainers aren’t staying in houses here…”

    “We could go to the pokémon center.”

    “They’ll recognize us. We were there too long.”

    “I say we go to one more house, see what those people are like,” he said.

    I nodded. It would be a waste to go to just two houses and stop there. We went next door, the last house in this row. For what I hoped wouldn’t be the last time, I knocked on the door—only to have it automatically open in front of me.

    “Uh,” I said, knocking again. The door opened a bit further. It was evident that no one was opening the door, but that they had already left the door open, and that my knocking was propelling it forward.

    “Does that mean anyone can go in?” Rennio said. I should have taken this as an obvious no—if even Rennio, after traveling from place to place, region to region, didn’t know, then we should just accept the defeat and leave. Still, I was curious—what if the answer was yes? There was so much to gain, and little left to lose.

    “Stay here,” I said. “I’m going in.”

    “Are you sure about this…?”

    “Yes,” I said. I was the leader here, and I was going to do what I thought was best. So I got down on all fours and crept through the door. It was unexpected for me, really—I used to yell at Sai for walking into random houses and for acting like a creepy person, and now I was doing the same exact thing. Almost, anyway. The owners were practically inviting me in by leaving the door open! If I was wrong, it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t know everything about human customs. I was just a pokémon that was swept away by fate from the forest near New Bark Town, that was all.

    Of course, there wouldn’t be a way to relay that to the owners of the house, if they saw me. No—they had to see me, or me taking anything would be stealing. I started to purposefully look for them amongst all the human things that surrounded me. I hadn’t gotten far yet; I was still in the front hallway. I could already see stairs leading upward, but I decided to stay on the floor I was on. It seemed more inviting that the unknown, anyway, what with all of the paintings hung on the wall and the comfy-looking couches and the lamps that offered a dim amount of light, enough for me to make my way around. I vaguely wondered what kind of people lived here, since their house seemed much different from Sasha’s in Azalea Town. It was strange to me how the furnishing and layout of a house was made to fit the lives of the humans in it, while pokémon center rooms were so bland and made for anyone. I hoped that Sai would have a comfortable place to live someday, and that it would look like how he wanted it to.

    While I was thinking of Sai and us and living in a house in the future, one odd thing occurred to me: there wasn’t a single sign of pokémon living in this house. There wasn’t even a painting of a pokémon. This seemed so odd to me, as all the houses I had been in had shown some sign of being our fans.

    I should have taken this as an immediate sign to leave, but I kept on going until I reached the kitchen. It looked like a normal kitchen, with a stove and a fridge and a table and such, though there was some weird thing protruding in the middle of it all. I think Sasha had called it an island, once. It didn’t seem to serve a purpose for anything, not like everything else. I thought that it was good for keeping me hidden, but that was about it.

    As it turns out, that “island” wasn’t good for anything, not even keeping me hidden. I didn’t get a chance to search the rest of the house or find the owners, because they found me. And they obviously weren’t very happy to see me, because I was met with a big slap in the back from a broom. The bristles scratched against my skin, and the impact of the blow caused me to fall flat on my stomach. I cried out briefly, and tried to get back on my paws to flee, but I was hit again.

    “Get out of my house, you evil creature! How dare you come in here!” I heard a lady yell, along with some other crazy obscenities that made me look like I was a monster sent to her house to kill her.

    After a few more hits, I was able to get on my paws and escape the next swipe of the broom. I darted back toward the front hallway, and saw my escape! The door was right there! But the lady was chasing me, and was doing quite a good job of it. She managed to hit me one more time before I was able to swiftly run out the door, past Rennio and out onto the street. I had to backtrack in order to get Rennio, because he was as confused as ever and now he was being hit by her broom, too. I ran up to him, grabbed him by the arm, ignoring how the open bag of pokémon food was spilling all over, and dragged him to the other side of the street.

    “And stay out!” the lady yelled, threateningly waving her broom in the air. She then slammed the door, and that was the last we saw of her.

    “What was that all about?” Rennio asked, rubbing his head.

    “We explored the house of a pokémon hater,” I said. “Go figure. I think it’s safe to say we’re done, now.”

    “I’m sorry,” Rennio said. “I was just trying to help.”

    “It’s not your fault. At least we got one bag of food…” I trailed off, noting how there was very little left in the bag after having to run away from the lady. “Well, we got some, anyway.”

    “Yeah…”

    On the way back, I wondered who on earth would tell a pokémon that the people of Goldenrod City were so nice, when it was anything but true. I decided to ask him about it.

    “Rennio, who told you that knocking on peoples’ houses and asking them for things in Goldenrod City was acceptable?”

    “Um… Ezrem did,” Rennio replied. “He said not to tell you that he said it because you don’t like him… Why do you need to know?”

    That explained everything—why Ezrem was okay with giving up the leader position, why Ezrem was whispering to Rennio that one time, and why Ezrem was okay with letting Rennio stay with me… All this time, he was planning to use Rennio to spite me somehow, someway. And his plan, whether it was thoroughly thought out or not, had certainly worked.

    “Nothing. I’m an idiot.”

    *

    When we returned to the group, everyone except Atis came up to us to see what we had retrieved. When they saw that all we had was a measly bag of pokémon food that was already opened, they looked clearly upset.

    “You guys were gone for a long time, and that’s what you come back with? Geez, I could have done better than that!” Kuiora cried.

    “Yeah,” Ezrem said. “All that work for nothing.”

    I glared at him. “Don’t you even talk, Ezrem. I know it was you who told Rennio about that. You wasted our time!”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, smiling widely.

    “I would think that your smile lights up the sky, considering how nice you were trying to be, but now I know it’s just the glow of everyone else’s hopes and dreams being incinerated,” I said, too angry and upset to care if my words hurt him or not.

    “You don’t say,” he replied, still smiling.

    “I’ll bet you stole Sai’s backpack and hid it somewhere just to make me mad!”

    “I wouldn’t do such a thing to my new trainer,” he said. “You’re losing your head over something so silly. That just goes to show you that I should have been the leader!”

    And maybe he was right. Maybe his deceitful nature could have benefited us in this situation. Had he gone instead of me, he may have been able to convince those humans to give him what he wanted. I didn’t know how that was possible since the language barrier would still exist and that lady would still be hating pokémon no matter what, but after what happened, I was second guessing myself yet again. He probably would have kept us in the pokémon center for a longer time, and then we would still be there, happy and safe, with all of our belongings intact.

    I was no leader, and if I was, I was a shameful one—forever and always.

    That night, I didn’t sleep. There wasn’t anything to protect except one bag of food, but I kept watch over it anyway. I lay there all night, wondering what I could do to be better. I thought that I had gotten past this pain already by scrutinizing the team’s individual needs and by deciding that I wouldn’t let Sai’s rollercoaster emotions get to me. Those things had gone over well for me, but now, Sai was gone entirely… and my world was turned upside down. He obviously needed me at this very moment, but I couldn’t help him because I didn’t know where he was. And the team here obviously needed me, too, but in different ways… in ways that always seemed to backfire against me no matter how hard I tried.

    After thinking some more, I couldn’t rationalize any reason for me to continue thinking that I was a bad leader. I had done the best I could, and the bad things that had happened were out of my control. Besides, the bad things that happened weren’t even… bad. They hadn’t extremely harmed anyone emotionally and physically, after all. Really, all I had to do was go along with my instincts and not follow others’, mainly Ezrem’s (and Rennio’s, which was unfair, but look where it had gotten me this time).

    So why was I still doubting myself? I recalled the conversation that me and Rennio had had earlier in our adventure. And of course, I concluded that the guilt of ruining my entire clan was still haunting me. Everyone’s cries, the sneasel’s lies, being banished after all of my hard work and after all of my heartfelt explanations… I always knew that it wouldn’t be something I could get over so easily, but the fact that it was still bothering me made me wonder if I would get over it.

    There had to be another way.

    I vowed to figure it out, with or without Sai.
    Last edited by diamondpearl876; 12th December 2012 at 9:31 PM.

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  24. #149
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    If Ezrem was good for anything, it was for deciding where to stay while we were in the wild, because he had brought up a good point, after all: strong pokémon could be out there. Staying near the forest was out best bet. So I took everyone to the outskirts of the forest, a little bit past the daycare center. Kuiora suggested that we stay at the daycare center for the time being, but I explained that that, too, would cost money that wasn’t ours to spend.
    That should be our


    ^You ever have that moment you realize you forgot to give credit? Sorry Irra!!^

  25. #150
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post

    SURVIVAL PROJECT

    chapter 14 ; [SENORI]
    chance

    *
    I might be wrong, but it feels like it's been a while since we saw a Senori chapter, too.

    We thoroughly searched the city and its outskirts for two days before we… stopped. I don’t want to say that we gave up, but it almost felt that way. It seemed that we had accepted the fact that Sai was erratic, and to find any sort of predictability in his life was impossible and a waste of time. So we stopped searching—or gave up—all the while hoping that he would come back to us, and soon.

    Though we had settled on having him find us, I of course was worried about him and his health. Surely, a human thinking that other humans following him wasn’t a good sign. There was that and the fact that he had left his backpack behind, so where he could go without access to money—and therefore human food—was beyond me. And hadn’t he said his home was in Vermilion City? That was in another region entirely! There was no way he would be going so far away to see that female friend or family member of his, but then… where else could he have gone? Nothing made sense to me.
    Somehow I get the feeling that he isn't going to come back immediately. Two days isn't a good sign.

    But I didn’t have much time to think about Sai, because while we waiting for him to get over whatever spell he was going through, we had to figure out how to take care of ourselves. For the first day, things were easy. Since Sai had left his backpack behind, we had access to the room key and were able to stay in the pokémon center room. All I had to do was climb on Kuiora’s back and insert the key into the lock, and we were inside, even after a few unsuccessful tries on my part.
    It's worrying that they have to take care of themselves outside of their individual natural habitats, but what really surprises me in this paragraph is Senori using a key. XD;

    In one of our many group discussions, it was suggested that we try backtracking and going to Azalea Town, but it was too risky. What if Sai came back while we were gone? The idea of going to the next city, where no one had ever gone before, was worse. Besides, it was even riskier to separate and not be able to keep an eye out on each other—it was especially worrisome for the younger pokémon like Kuiora and Rennio. The only ones capable of taking care of them were me, Ezrem, and Atis. But I had so painfully learned that I couldn’t be in two places at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to trust Ezrem when I was so far away from him, and Atis didn’t seem too interested in the job anyway. I decided it, then: we would stay in Goldenrod City.
    It's good to see that they're at least thinking this through.

    The next problem had us questioning whether or not we would be staying in the pokémon center until Sai came back, or if we would have to settle for temporarily living as wild pokémon again.

    “I don’t want to be spending all of Sai’s money,” I said, “but I want him to have a place where he can look for us when he comes back.”

    “If he comes back,” Kuiora said.

    I shot her a look and said, “He’ll come back.”

    “How do you know?”

    I didn’t know, but I had to believe in him. I had to believe that this journey wasn’t all for nothing and that it wasn’t going to crash so easily. “I just know,” I said.
    I'm fascinated by the seeming breakdown of society in the group of Sai's Pokemon. This is already turning out to be a very interesting chapter.

    “Well,” Kuiora said, “I don’t care what we do, but it’d be cool to know what it’s like to be a wild pokémon.”

    “You don’t want to know,” Rennio said rather solemnly. He was probably still feeling guilty, and I didn’t blame him.
    That one hit me quite emotionally.

    “No one else has anything to add?” I said, trying to keep things on topic.

    “I-I think we should stay here… for now,” Atis said.

    “You do?”

    “Yeah… This is a big city, and it’ll be a lot harder to find him when we’re out in the wild…” Atis replied.

    “Fair enough,” Senori said. “In that case, I say we should stay here for five days. That seems like a reasonable amount of time, right? If he’s not back in five days, then we’ll leave.”

    No one protested or offered any other possible solutions.

    And just as I had suggested, we waited for five days. Amidst all the curious thoughts I had about Sai, I tried to take care of everyone. If anyone wanted to be out of the room—which was fairly often, as our personalities liked to clash so much—the pokémon that wanted to leave had to make sure that someone was still there, just in case Sai came back. For food and water, we used what Sai’s backpack had available; there was plenty to spread around. We passed the time mostly by sleeping, and there was the occasional teasing between Atis, Kuiora, and Ezrem. I thought that I even heard Rennio crying at some point, but I didn’t want to intrude. He needed time to heal, I knew.

    Yes, we waited for five days… but Sai didn’t show up.
    I didn't want to be right about that prediction, but... I had a bad feeling about how long Sai's absence would be.

    Needless to say, it was unfavorable to all of us when I said that we were going to leave the pokémon center room and return to the wild for now. We were bored and antsy and confused and we just wanted our trainer to be back, but we had to make the best out of our situation.

    That was when Ezrem spoke up.

    “Who said that you get to be in charge here?” he said.
    Oh no, now is absolutely not the time Ezrem...

    “W-What?” I said, not expecting that from him at all. Even though I didn’t trust him, I didn’t expect him to have anything against me.

    “I asked you what makes you think you get to be the boss of everyone.”

    “Well,” I said, pausing because I really didn’t know, I really didn’t deserve it, “no one else wants the position, do they?”

    “I do,” said Ezrem, standing up and walking over to me. “I’ll be the new leader.”

    “You?” I said. “You’re not even officially on the team!”

    “I can make a better leader than you.”
    Starting to feel a little turned off on Ezrem again, but it's working nonetheless - he's the type who would take advantage of a situation to get ahead like this.

    “You think so? How?”

    “I’ve been with a trainer a lot longer than you, so I know what to do in dangerous situations,” he explained. After a moment, he added, “Plus, when we met, I gave you good advice on how to win that battle, so you owe me.”

    “You may have been with a trainer longer, but you haven’t been with our trainer as long as I have. I was Sai’s first pokémon!” I said proudly. I could feel Kuiora’s subsequent glare.

    “We should stay here. It’d be safer! What are you going to do if an extra strong pokémon attacks us? Huh?”

    I thought for a moment before saying, “The pokémon around the forest are weaker, we already know that. We could stay there.”

    “What about food and water?”

    “We have food and water in Sai’s backpack still. And we know how to get food in the wild. Is that what you’re afraid of? You don’t know how to be a good wild pokémon, so you want to hide?” I said, grinning.
    Wait, wait, wait, I just realized something. Is Ezrem trying to overcompensate for the nervousness he feels about going back to the wild after following a trainer for the second time? If that's the case, I feel sympathetic for him again.

    “That’s not it. I just think it’s a dumb idea!”

    “Look, Sai’s money is not ours to spend. We need to save it for when he has to buy us stuff. And what are we going to do when we run out of food and water? We can’t go buying food like a human can. We were lucky that Sai had paid for the five nights we’ve spent here already!”

    “And what are you going to do when a trainer comes along and tries to catch us?”

    “I’m not worried about that. We’re strong, and can’t be caught by pokéballs,” I said, feeling more confident in myself when Ezrem didn’t say anything in response. “Now, I think everyone should have an escort that stays with them. This should keep everyone safe, especially when you want to wander off and do whatever.”
    Well, in that case, the Poké Balls shouldn't work on any of them but Ezrem himself, right? You kind of touch on that idea but it's not defined clearly whether you mean that they would be too strong to be caught or the Poké Balls would be ineffective.

    “Fine,” Ezrem said, smiling now and going back to sit with the others. “I’ll let you be the leader if I get to go with Kuiora.”
    Well then, that surprised me a little.

    “Really?” Kuiora squealed.

    “Yes, really!”

    “That’s fine,” I said. I looked at Rennio and Atis. Both of them had been mostly quiet until now, but it was time to get their input. “I’d like to take Rennio with me, so I can protect him if needed. Is that okay with you, Atis? You’re strong enough to handle yourself, right?”

    “Right,” Atis said immediately, and I could tell he was thankful for my decision to put him alone.

    “Okay, then Rennio is coming with me. Is that fine?”

    “Yeah,” Rennio said simply, looking down. I could tell he felt ashamed, and perhaps a little upset that he wasn’t with Ezrem. I looked over to the bird to see if he had any reaction to the pairings, but he was busy talking with the croconaw.

    “Good,” I said softly. “Then let’s go.”
    Wait, I'm a little confused. I thought they weren't going to split up?

    If Ezrem was good for anything, it was for deciding where to stay while we were in the wild, because he had brought up a good point, after all: strong pokémon could be out there. Staying near the forest was out best bet. So I took everyone to the outskirts of the forest, a little bit past the daycare center. Kuiora suggested that we stay at the daycare center for the time being, but I explained that that, too, would cost money that wasn’t ours to spend.

    And so began our journey into the wild once more. If I was being honest, it did feel strange to be back right where I started. Still, I had to continue believing that Sai would return when he was ready, no matter how long it took. He was my trainer, and he wouldn’t just abandon us like that.
    I am really beginning to wonder if it's not going to be more than just a short time that Sai is gone...

    It was amusing, at least, watching Kuiora try to be a wild pokemon. I second guessed my decision to let her be paired together with Ezrem, noting his deceitful nature, but he seemed to genuinely help her out. I had suggested that they try to avoid the food and water in the backpack and try to earn it out in the open, so that they always had something to come back to if they were desperate. Surprisingly, they listened, so now Ezrem was teaching her that drinking out of ponds and rivers was the only way to get water, aside from having her shoot out water guns, of course. And since killing wild pokémon for food was apparently against his personal beliefs, Ezrem and Kuiora explored the area to find out where the best berries were, and he taught her how to choose which ones were good to eat.

    “This isn’t fair. I have to be a wild pokémon again? I’m sick of these berries and gross pond water!” Ezrem said once, but I knew he was just making excuses so he could devour the food and water in the backpack, so I laughed at him.

    “Don’t laugh at Ezrem,” Kuiora said seriously.
    Hmm. I wonder if Kuiora's line isn't indicative of something a little bit bigger going on. She seems awfully protective of Ezrem.

    “You should choose your battles more wisely,” I said, remembering how Kuiora had recently confronted Ezrem to stick up for Atis.

    “Whatever you say.”

    I laughed again. Whatever I said, huh? I admitted that I liked when everyone followed my rules, my directions. It made me feel like a leader again. Granted, I had always felt like the leader of this team, since Sai seemed incapable of taking care of himself sometimes, but now, this only confirmed my self-centered thoughts and made me feel as if I were truly back with my clan once again. Still, I hoped Sai would return, because a part of me felt lost without him.

    Atis stuck to himself, which wasn’t a shock at all. Occasionally, he tried to help out Kuiora when Ezrem could only laugh at her for whatever reason, so that was nice to see. But otherwise, he stayed in between the trees and kept himself hidden, and he slept by himself, as usual.
    I'm liking these distinct personalities each Pokémon is showing. You're doing great showing them as individuals.

    As for Rennio and me… Well, it was a quiet adventure. That was the best way I could put it. I just couldn’t get many words out of him, no matter how much I tried to make small talk. He knew what he was doing, however. He knew how to pick berries, where to get water, and he followed all the rules I put on him—the ones that said we should all sleep together, we shouldn’t leave our partners, and so on. So he wasn’t completely intolerable.

    Eventually, though, I decided to try getting to the root of the problem, since it was clear that making small talk with him wasn’t going to get us anywhere.

    “It’s not your fault, you know,” I said to him a couple days after we had ventured out into the wild.

    “Huh?” he said—with no emotion, so I knew he was pretending to not know what I was talking about.

    “It’s not your fault that Sai left,” I said. “He’s always been a little bit weird. If you had been around longer, I guarantee that you wouldn’t be blaming yourself as much as you are now.”

    “How do you know I’ve been blaming myself?” he said. That was the longest sentence I had gotten out of him thus far.

    “Because I’ve felt guilty for things in my life, just like you, remember? Once you feel guilty for one thing, you pretty much feel guilty for everything bad that follows. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.”

    “Oh. Yeah. You’re right.”

    “See? So don’t worry about it,” I assured him, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

    “I’ll try not to.”

    “Is that all that’s bugging you?” I said, having a feeling that there was something else. There was always something else when it came to guilt—it was true. I hadn’t lied to him.

    “Well,” Rennio said, “we’re so close to where my trainer was killed. I don’t know if I like it.” A pause. “Okay, I definitely don’t like it.”
    These two are standing out as the best interaction of them all. They're different and yet so alike in what they've seen and suffered through that they go together perfectly, and reading their exchange is quite honestly tugging on my heartstrings a bit.

    “I understand,” I said. “I went back to my clan after the incident, and it wasn’t exactly the best experience in the world.”

    “Really?”

    “Yeah. But it helped me start to let go. So hopefully, this can be the start of your new adventure… again. You get a third chance.”

    Rennio chuckled lightly. It was a success in my book. But then he frowned and sniffled… and then he started sobbing.

    “I’m sorry,” he said, wiping at his eyes. “Water is supposed to be a good thing for electric-type pokémon, I know, but I can’t help but be so sad.”

    “It’s okay. Don’t cry,” I said. “Don’t cry.”

    He did anyway.
    This really is quite emotional to read...

    We continued with what we were doing. At least we were no longer bored and antsy, but we still definitely wanted our trainer to come back. But then, there was an incident. As if our luck couldn’t get any worse.

    Sai’s backpack was stolen.
    Why do I have a hunch I know who did it?

    Even though I carried it by day and kept it near me by night, it was stolen. One night, we had gone to sleep with it there, and when we woke up, it was gone.

    All that money, all that food, all that water… It was now gone. I vaguely wondered if Sai had come back to pick it up, but it didn’t seem likely. Surely he would have taken us with him if that were the case. Also, even if he was back in Goldenrod City, he wouldn’t know where we were. So someone—another trainer, probably—had swiped it while we were sleeping.

    “Really?” Ezrem remarked, grinning. “It’s ironic to have all that money and food and water stolen when you were trying not to use it all, don’t you think? I knew I should have been the leader.”
    Although now I wonder if Ezrem isn't behind it as part of his seeming power grab.

    I said nothing, evaluating the situation. On one hand, things were not so bad. We were faring quite nicely in the wild, here. The loss of water and food was not a problem. It was really the loss of money that worried me. What would happen when Sai came back and found that all of his hard earned cash was gone? Even worse, the two badges we had won were gone! How would he react to that? Would he go crazy again? Would he leave again? That’s how unpredictable he was.

    I sighed.

    “I guess we could keep an eye out for it,” I said. “Other than that, there’s nothing we can do but keep going on, just like we have been.”

    Everyone agreed, even Ezrem, so that’s exactly what we did. The group dispersed and separated into escorts once more, except, I noted, that Ezrem went over to Rennio and whispered to him about something for a few moments before returning to Kuiora. He must have said something better than I did, because later on, Rennio actually decided to start a conversation with me.

    “Do you feel guilty now, too?” he said.
    I really can't decide if I trust Ezrem or not.

    “Of course. I was in charge of the backpack, after all. All of Sai’s stuff…”

    “Well, don’t feel bad! I just remembered something about Goldenrod City as you were talking. I know of a way we can fix things!” Rennio said, smiling at me.

    “You do?”

    “Yeah! When we were exploring a bit with Atis, someone told me a secret about the people of Goldenrod City.”

    “Oh…?”

    “Apparently, they’re very giving people. They like to help out in others’ times of need. A human could walk up to another human, ask to borrow their kitchen, and the kitchen owner would say yes in a heartbeat! I’ll bet they’re kind to pokémon, too.”

    “So you’re saying we should go to a bunch of human houses and replace the stuff we had in the backpack?”

    “Exactly!”
    Oh no... Senori, please figure out why this is a bad idea...

    “Uh,” I said, stunned. I hadn’t heard anyone say such a thing about the people of Goldenrod City, but it certainly was plausible. It’s not like we would be breaking into their houses and stealing or anything. No, they would be offering to us. Maybe it was finally a sign of luck coming our way. We could really maybe replace the money, food, water we had lost, as well as some of Sai’s clothes.

    “We wouldn’t be able to replace the badges we lost,” I finally said. That was the most important part to me; that was what we had worked the hardest for.

    “No, but perhaps Sai won’t even notice,” Rennio offered.

    “You’re certainly optimistic,” I pointed out.

    “So, are we going to do it or not?”

    “It’s worth a try,” I said. I just couldn’t ignore that happy face of his, especially when he was so forlorn the day before. “We can even keep an eye out for Sai while we’re there, which is good. Let’s go.”

    “Now?”

    “Now.”
    Something really bad is about to happen. I can feel it.

    “True,” I said. I looked up, overwhelmed by the tallness of the house’s door. I wished that, for a moment, I could grow to the necessary height to be able to look into a human’s eyes, and plead for help in our time of need. That wasn’t going to happen—I simply knocked on the door as hard as I could with my little brown paws.
    Sentret knocking on a door is oddly adorable.

    At first, no one answered. We waited outside the door for a very awkward few minutes before I suggested that maybe no one was home.

    “Try knocking again. I know that sometimes, if you’re persistent, people will eventually answer,” Rennio offered.

    So I knocked again. Sure enough, someone showed up within the minute. I couldn’t tell if Rennio was right or if I just hadn’t knocked loud enough, but I made a note to remember his words for future houses.

    The person who answered the door was a man who looked like he was older than Sai, but he didn’t look as wrinkly as the lady at the daycare center. He had blonde hair that was parted in the middle, and brown eyes. He looked like he was wearing pajamas, which I thought was odd until I realized the sun was already setting, and that it was probably around dinner time. My stomach rumbled in response.

    This seemed to catch the man’s attention, since before, he was just looking out the door with a blank look, wondering who on earth had been there. Finally, he looked down at us, and smiled.

    “Pokémon at my door, huh? That’s a new one,” he said. My heart fell—maybe the people of Goldenrod City weren’t so accustomed to giving out items and food to pokémon, after all. I was about to lose hope and turn around when he added, “Sounds like you’re hungry. Are you here for food?”

    I nodded as vigorously as I could. Yes, we were hungry! Yes, we needed food! Nevermind the fact that we could get food back where we were camping. We wanted human food or pokémon food, it didn’t matter which. To avoid looking desperate, I didn’t say any of this, of course.

    “One moment,” he said, closing the door on us.

    “I can’t believe that worked,” I said, turning to Rennio, who had a wide grin on his face.

    “See? I told you. All of our problems are solved!” he cried, jumping up and down excitedly.

    “Yeah,” I said. Then, in a quieter tone: “Sai will be happy.”

    A few moments later, the door opened again, and there stood the same man as before. He leaned down to hand us a bag of opened pokémon food.

    “Here,” he said. “I’m sure my snubbull won’t mind sharing, right?”

    “Awesome,” I said. “Thank you very much.”

    “Have a good night,” he said, and closed the door once more.
    I can't believe this actually worked. I'm sure it's not going to keep working, though.

    Again, I couldn’t believe it had worked. Maybe all of our problems really were solved. There was only one way to find out, so we went next door to get to the next house. Again, I knocked—as loud as I could this time around.

    And again, someone answered the door for us! Things were going a lot easier than I had anticipated. Well, I don’t know what I had been anticipating, but it wasn’t this.

    Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

    We ran into some immediate trouble as soon as I said, “Hello!”

    The person—this time a lady with brown hair and brown eyes, also wearing lazy clothes—peered down at us. She didn’t greet us with a smile, though. She looked at me, puzzled, and was about to close the door on us. She only failed because I stuck half my body into the door so she couldn’t get rid of us that easily.

    “Wait!” I yelled. “We’re just looking for some food… or water… or clothes. Anything you don’t need, anything you want to get rid of! Someone stole all of our stuff, so, yeah…”

    But still, she looked at me oddly, remaining mute. Suddenly, it hit me. She couldn’t understand pokémon. The language barrier wasn’t an issue at the last house because my stomach had spoken for me by rumbling ever so loudly.

    “Sorry, I don’t know what you’re saying. Good-bye now,” she said, confirming my suspicions. She went to close the door again, and this time I didn’t stop her.

    “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” Rennio said as we walked away from the house. “I’ve always been so used to having Annie understand me… Sai could understand me, too…”
    So not everyone can understand Pokemon after all. I wonder what that says about Annie and Sai?

    I nodded. It would be a waste to go to just two houses and stop there. We went next door, the last house in this row. For what I hoped wouldn’t be the last time, I knocked on the door—only to have it automatically open in front of me.

    “Uh,” I said, knocking again. The door opened a bit further. It was evident that no one was opening the door, but that they had already left the door open, and that my knocking was propelling it forward.
    Bad sign. Get out now.

    I should have taken this as an immediate sign to leave, but I kept on going until I reached the kitchen. It looked like a normal kitchen, with a stove and a fridge and a table and such, though there was some weird thing protruding in the middle of it all. I think Sasha had called it an island, once. It didn’t seem to serve a purpose for anything, not like everything else. I thought that it was good for keeping me hidden, but that was about it.

    As it turns out, that “island” wasn’t good for anything, not even keeping me hidden. I didn’t get a chance to search the rest of the house or find the owners, because they found me. And they obviously weren’t very happy to see me, because I was met with a big slap in the back from a broom. The bristles scratched against my skin, and the impact of the blow caused me to fall flat on my stomach. I cried out briefly, and tried to get back on my paws to flee, but I was hit again.

    “Get out of my house, you evil creature! How dare you come in here!” I heard a lady yell, along with some other crazy obscenities that made me look like I was a monster sent to her house to kill her.
    Yeah, I knew something bad was going to happen there.

    On the way back, I wondered who on earth would tell a pokémon that the people of Goldenrod City were so nice, when it was anything but true. I decided to ask him about it.

    “Rennio, who told you that knocking on peoples’ houses and asking them for things in Goldenrod City was acceptable?”

    “Um… Ezrem did,” Rennio replied. “He said not to tell you that he said it because you don’t like him… Why do you need to know?”
    How did I know.

    How did I somehow know.

    There goes the sympathy I felt for him again.

    That explained everything—why Ezrem was okay with giving up the leader position, why Ezrem was whispering to Rennio that one time, and why Ezrem was okay with letting Rennio stay with me… All this time, he was planning to use Rennio to spite me somehow, someway. And his plan, whether it was thoroughly thought out or not, had certainly worked.

    “Nothing. I’m an idiot.”

    *

    When we returned to the group, everyone except Atis came up to us to see what we had retrieved. When they saw that all we had was a measly bag of pokémon food that was already opened, they looked clearly upset.

    “You guys were gone for a long time, and that’s what you come back with? Geez, I could have done better than that!” Kuiora cried.

    “Yeah,” Ezrem said. “All that work for nothing.”

    I glared at him. “Don’t you even talk, Ezrem. I know it was you who told Rennio about that. You wasted our time!”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, smiling widely.

    “I would think that your smile lights up the sky, considering how nice you were trying to be, but now I know it’s just the glow of everyone else’s hopes and dreams being incinerated,” I said, too angry and upset to care if my words hurt him or not.

    “You don’t say,” he replied, still smiling.

    “I’ll bet you stole Sai’s backpack and hid it somewhere just to make me mad!”

    “I wouldn’t do such a thing to my new trainer,” he said. “You’re losing your head over something so silly. That just goes to show you that I should have been the leader!”
    I'm convinced now he did steal it. This is an obvious power grab.

    And maybe he was right. Maybe his deceitful nature could have benefited us in this situation. Had he gone instead of me, he may have been able to convince those humans to give him what he wanted. I didn’t know how that was possible since the language barrier would still exist and that lady would still be hating pokémon no matter what, but after what happened, I was second guessing myself yet again. He probably would have kept us in the pokémon center for a longer time, and then we would still be there, happy and safe, with all of our belongings intact.

    I was no leader, and if I was, I was a shameful one—forever and always.

    That night, I didn’t sleep. There wasn’t anything to protect except one bag of food, but I kept watch over it anyway. I lay there all night, wondering what I could do to be better. I thought that I had gotten past this pain already by scrutinizing the team’s individual needs and by deciding that I wouldn’t let Sai’s rollercoaster emotions get to me. Those things had gone over well for me, but now, Sai was gone entirely… and my world was turned upside down. He obviously needed me at this very moment, but I couldn’t help him because I didn’t know where he was. And the team here obviously needed me, too, but in different ways… in ways that always seemed to backfire against me no matter how hard I tried.

    After thinking some more, I couldn’t rationalize any reason for me to continue thinking that I was a bad leader. I had done the best I could, and the bad things that had happened were out of my control. Besides, the bad things that happened weren’t even… bad. They hadn’t extremely harmed anyone emotionally and physically, after all. Really, all I had to do was go along with my instincts and not follow others’, mainly Ezrem’s (and Rennio’s, which was unfair, but look where it had gotten me this time).

    So why was I still doubting myself? I recalled the conversation that me and Rennio had had earlier in our adventure. And of course, I concluded that the guilt of ruining my entire clan was still haunting me. Everyone’s cries, the sneasel’s lies, being banished after all of my hard work and after all of my heartfelt explanations… I always knew that it wouldn’t be something I could get over so easily, but the fact that it was still bothering me made me wonder if I would get over it.

    There had to be another way.

    I vowed to figure it out, with or without Sai.
    Step one, Ezrem has to go. He could clearly not care less about what happens to Senori, Kuiora, Atis or even Rennio. He is manipulative and self-centered; I'm glad you brought up that Sneasel from Senori's past, because Ezrem is lying to him and manipulating him in a very similar way. But it's what Ezrem put Rennio up to doing that was truly cold-blooded - it's just plain as day now that Ezrem has no sympathy even for Rennio.

    I guess you could tell, but I really got emotionally invested in this chapter. Sai disappearing provided a catalyst for a lot of very challenging developments to come forth. At this point, any semblance the story had to a typical trainer fic is gone - the trainer is out of the picture, and now the plot is entirely centered on the Pokemon. This is a great, unique development, but I'm not sure how I feel about its practical effects in-universe. On one hand, it seems to be making Senori and Atis (at least) try their best to do what's right for the group, but on the other, Ezrem has decided to take advantage of and manipulate his new teammates instead of working together with them. I give you credit for actually establishing one of them as not very nice, though, as if the plot was simply a quest to find Sai it would feel a lot less unique than it does.

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    Beyond all ideals, the truth shall set you free...
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