Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Casting Off

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    339

    Default Casting Off

    Hey there everyone. A few of you might recognize my name, but most around here probably don't since I don't post a lot here in this section. That said, I do read it pretty frequently. My usual fan fiction activities remain limited to the beta reading of a few fics, Fledglings from Spiteful Murkrow being the most prominent since I plan out the scenes and dialogue with him. This time however, I'm here to publish a fic of my own. It's the first time I'm ever doing this, so I hope it turned out alright.

    For readers who'd like to know what this fic is about: This story is a PMD-like fic about a Cranidos finding his way and starting off his adventure. It will be a short story, as this little mini fic will be wrapped up in only 3 chapters.

    The idea of this story came to me after a talk with Spiteful Murkrow. After realizing that there wasn't much room in his fic to flesh out the background of one of the characters I created, I decided to write the story myself as a separate fic. This obviously means that this story is set in the same universe as Fledglings, and one could consider it a spin-off.

    I do want to clarify however, that this fic is as accessible to Fledglings readers as it is to non-Fledglings readers. Knowing anything about Fledglings is not required. I think it's important this story can stand on its own and isn't just an extension of Fledglings, despite both fics being set in the same universe.

    Also, I'd like to extend my thanks to some people. First being Spiteful Murkrow, for helping me plan out most of the fic and of course being the main creator of the universe Casting Off is set in. I'd also like to thank Tangent128, Venia Silente, and The Great Butler for proofreading, I couldn't have done it without them. Tangent128 I want to thank in particular for creating the headers you'll see at the start of each chapter.

    Anyhow, if you're still with me after all that, let’s get into the actual story:



    Since the days humans had disappeared into the ages of myth, much had changed in the world they left behind. The sprawling plains and mountain ranges had grown choked with sterile ash and distortions of Mystery Dungeons, the livable world retracting to a sea full of islands called the Cradle. On the islands, Pokémon had retreated from the shattered world outside to settle where Mystery Dungeons were sparse and few in number. Some maintained the natural rhythms of their elders, while others - those who were said to be more touched by the humans and their presence - carried on facsimiles of the great civilizations their companions once ruled, with the help of the gifts and order left behind by Arceus, the Original One. In the ages since the great migrations, these bearers of the humans' torches spread their presence across the islands, flecking the coasts with settlements ranging from petty hamlets to great cities.

    From its place amid sunken coastal lowlands, Polderfield Town occupied a middle ground as a hamlet that was built in the shadow of the great capital of the once-great Empire of Anyilla. Few visitors came past the hustle and bustle of Tidemill City and to the sleepy farming town in the fringes of Giotto Island, but even so, among the levee-surrounded fields reclaimed from the sea and the mills that kept them dry, there was still a sufficient body of Pokémon willing to ply the nearby Mystery Dungeon for the treasures of the Distortion (and to rescue those who had gotten in over their heads in the process). Their haunt was the local guild, a ring-shaped complex of shacks anchored by a tent shaped like a Farfetch'd head, neighbored by the empty field immediately north where the guild's teleporters would fetch its teams from the ever shifting maze inside when summoned.

    "Ah!"

    The most recent arrivals were a trio consisting of a Cranidos, a Chikorita, and a Jangmo-o bedecked with scarves and laden with wooden chests. The three appeared in the field with a flash of light latched tightly onto a Jynx. As they let go, the trio took in their surroundings as the Chikorita gave a satisfied shake of her head.

    "Whew, looks like we're finally back."

    How Pokémon like the Jynx performed the feat of finding Pokémon through the Guild Badges they pinned to their scarves was a mystery to those not already versed in the practice. Some said they bent space and time to reach out to a heart they'd sensed. Others said they slipped between the worlds that bled together in the Mystery Dungeon's Distortion. One thing was for certain, though: the Jynx had gotten them out of the Mystery Dungeon, and she had done so at a speed that couldn't be beat. Reason enough for the Cranidos to dust off his light blue scarf, running his claws past the pattern of a gray silhouette of a Rampardos head, before turning to extend his thanks to the Jynx.

    "Thanks Yama," the Fossil Pokémon said as he turned to the Jynx. "'Mons like you sure make doing work inside Mystery Dungeons easier."

    "Well, that's why we're here to-"

    "Yeah, yeah, to help," the Chikorita interrupted. "Come on Cabot, these chests aren't gonna bring themselves back to the tailor shop."

    As the Grass-Type walked off with a chest strapped to her back, her two teammates gave awkward smiles as the Jynx narrowed her eyes, unimpressed at the Leaf Pokémon's haste to leave the guild.

    "Well... you heard her," the Jangmo-o offered. "Let's finish this mission so we can take the rest of the day off."

    The Dragon-Type hurried after his teammate, leaving their Cranidos partner behind to snatch up the remaining chests before hurrying along off the teleporter's pad after his companions. The wooden boxes had been brought to the Dungeon by another team from the guild so that their contents could be exposed to the Distortion's changing effects. The altered contents, given new properties by the Dungeon, would then be turned around and resold at a higher price... after he and his teammates returned them to the client who sought for them, that was. The Cranidos ducked down a hallway, finally catching up with his teammates near the mess hall where his presence turned the heads of the other Pokémon. The Chikorita twirled her head leaf as she smiled a little at her teammate's haste to catch up, and called out to him.

    "You know Cabot, you did a pretty good job helping us out there."

    "Yeah, I'm surprised you haven't settled down in a team yet," her Jangmo-o teammate chimed in. "You're a good help against ferals."

    "Well, I do my best to help others if I can, but…"

    The Cranidos trailed off and fidgeted his claws awkwardly. It wasn't that he didn't like working with Team Resolve and his other client teams as a freelance Guild Apprentice, but he did hope to eventually explore beyond the local Mystery Dungeon…

    "Why hello there, Team Resolve."

    Cabot and his companions turned back at the sound of a quacking voice to see a Farfetch'd in a white scarf with green stripes waddle up. It was none other than Akka, the Guildmaster in Polderfield Town… Had something come up?

    "Ah, Cabot," she greeted. "I see you're helping them today?"

    "Yeah, they needed some extra claws to carry these exposure chests out of the Mystery Dungeon." the Cranidos piped up.

    "Oh? Where to?" the Guildmaster asked.

    "To Sara!" the Jangmo-o exclaimed. "She said she needed some more scarves for the fair tomorrow."

    "Ah, well I won't get in your way," the Farfetch'd said. "Carry on."

    The team pattered along for the guild exit, coming to the mouth of the Farfetch'd-shaped tent. As the three stepped out into the sunlight, they entered a small village of whitewashed huts and spindly windmills flecked by tents and buildings shaped after Pokémon heads. Cabot and Team Resolve's course took them along a winding route through the streets, passing the Kecleon shop staffed by a youthful Kecleon and a violet, pudgy-faced Meowth assistant. Across the street from the chameleon's shop was the Bellossom florist, the Grass-Type arranging freshly displayed batches of lilies outside her shop. A little further ahead was a card shop with Jamie the Marshtomp from the Post Office gawking at a large display of colorful Pokémon-covered cards behind the counter, a few younger Pokémon playing some matches under the shade of a reed awning.

    A turn left and a few blocks later took them past the four lanterns and stone plinth that was the shrine of Tapu Fini, the Pokémon said to watch over Giotto. It was built by Poldefield's founders some thirty years prior… only for the town be settled primarily from Pokémon drawn from other islands, leaving the shrine mostly unused. Beyond that was the main square, with a tall windmill standing in the center and ringed with half-built wooden booths that caught Cabot's attention. The sight made the Rock-Type slow his pace as his friends drifted ahead a few steps, much to his Chikorita teammate's puzzlement.

    "So what were you saying earlier, Cabot?" she asked him, taking advantage of the quiet situation.

    "Oh," the Cranidos answered, dragging a foot anxiously at the dirt of the lane. "Er... well it's just that I'm still not sure yet if I want to stay at the guild."

    The Chikorita and Jangmo-o stopped and blinked at each other incredulously. Since when had Cabot made plans to leave the guild?

    "Eh?" the Dragon-Type asked. "But what sort of job are you looking for then?"

    "Well, something that'll let me get out there! To see the world!" Cabot exclaimed. "It's a big Cradle out there, and I'd like to see more of it than just Giotto here."

    "Someone is dreamy," his Grass-Type teammate teased.

    "Ah! That's not what I meant!" the little dinosaur cried. "It's just that there are so many adventures to be had in new places! You understand, don't you?"

    "Well, I suppose it would be a bigger adventure than fetching some exposure chests," the Jangmo-o chortled, giving a playful wag of his tail. "Who knows? Maybe you'll luck out and find a job to take you to the other end of the Cradle at the trade fair tomorrow."

    "But first things first! We've gotta finish our mission and upgrade our team's rank!" the Chikorita proclaimed. "The shop's right there, so we're already one step closer to Bronze!"

    The three continued down the lane filled with the trade fair’s booths and reached a large tent styled after a Galvantula with scarves dangling from display racks. The Chikorita leader spotted a Surskit at the back of the storefront pawing through a stack of scarves, prompting her to clear her throat and call out to the Bug-Type.

    "Hey! We got the exposure chests you asked for!" the Chikorita called.

    "Oh, I'm surprised you guys brought it after all," the Surskit said as he slided over to the counter. "I was starting to think we wouldn't get those chests back before the fair."

    Cabot and his partners gave sheepish smiles before passing the exposure chests over the counter one after the other. They were a bit on the late side, but even so, the Surskit seemed reasonably satisfied. A job well done… or well enough to pass.

    "Well, always glad to be of ser-"

    "But wait, where is Sara?" the Chikorita asked as she interrupted Cabot. "She's the one who posted the mission."

    "She already went home for the day," the Bug-Type answered.

    The three Pokémon jumped back and blanched out of surprise. They'd gone through all that trouble getting Sara's crates out of the dungeon only to miss her in town?!

    "Eh?!" the Grass-Type cried. "But we need her signature to tell the guild we completed the mission. We won't get any points towards our rank otherwise!"

    "Well, she lives in a burrow under a tree in the fringes that she keeps decorated with her in-progress projects," the Surskit offered. "If you go there and tell her you brought the chests, I'm sure she'll be happy to give you her signature."

    The guild Pokémon's surprise faded and was displaced with groaning resignation at the prospect of more work so late in the day, the Jangmo-o of the group being the first to voice his disappointment.

    "We gotta walk all the way to the fringes of town after already going through the Mystery Dungeon...?"

    "Looks like we'll have to wait on those points…" the Chikorita murmured.

    "Oh, I can do it!"

    The Chikorita and Jangmo-o looked up in a start to discover that their Cranidos assist had volunteered for the task with a raised claw. The pair looked at each other surprisedly, before turning back to their temporary teammate to make sure he wasn't overexerting himself.

    "You will?"

    "You know me," Cabot replied. "I don't need any excuse to get out and around a bit. Besides, we were only in that dungeon for a few hours."

    Team Resolve caught themselves as they mentally processed Cranidos' offer, their demeanors visibly brightening up at the realization that their evenings were spared. Looked like fate had dealt them a favorable hand this time after all!

    "Well I won't say no to that!" the Chikorita cheered.

    The Leaf Pokémon hastily fished out a rune-covered paper from her bag with a picture of a Galvantula and passed it over to the Cranidos with the shop's receipt. Cabot grasped the paper with his claw and stored it in his own bag, his teammates breathing grateful sighs of relief that they didn't have to go on an unscheduled hike into the fringes.

    "Thanks for the help, Cabot," the Grass-Type said, giving a thankful bow that was echoed by her Jangmo-o partner.

    "Yeah, we owe you one."

    "It's alright," Cabot answered, playfully waving away the matter with a claw. The Cranidos lowered his head and charged on, leaving his temporary teammates behind as he ran along for the town's fringes, glad to see some scenery beyond the Mystery Dungeon's same patina of floors. Who knew? Perhaps he could even make an adventure out of this detour!

    __________________________________________________

    "Thanks for the signature Sara!"

    The fringes of towns such as Polderfield were always easy enough to discern from their centers. The further out one went from town, the scarcer huts and other buildings became, with nests and burrows taking their places amid thinned undergrowth. And so it was that Cabot's journey took him out into the hills above Polderfield, coming to a burrow where the Galvantula owner of the tailor shop lived. Much to Cabot's pleasant surprise, the Bug-Type was more understanding than anticipated about his tardiness, and quickly gave Cabot gave the signature he and his clients needed through an inky footprint.

    "Sorry we kept you waiting for so long though," the Cranidos offered.

    "It's alright," the tarantula said. "Just be a bit more careful with time in the future, okay?"

    "Right, will do."

    The Cranidos gave a grateful bow and set off away from Sara's place under the treetops. He made his way down the path past mats with attending mailboxes denoting spaces claimed by local Pokémon. Some of the mats sat directly in front of nests in tree limbs or burrows in the earth, while others were laid out in the open in clearings. The Rock-Type came to a fork in the road, and after seeing that one path was visibly sparse on mailboxes and mats, he turned north and made a detour, the spirit of adventure swelling in his heart.

    "Do-de-do."

    Cabot carried along, humming ditties that he'd heard floating around his parents' shop since his hatchling days as he moved along the hillside path. He passed shade-giving trees, flowers in bloom, and the rustling of a feral here or there in the distant undergrowth as he came to his favorite viewing point over Polderfield. From above, one could see the entire town, now clogged with stands for tomorrow's fair. Further beyond was the surrounding farmland, ringed with polders filled with fields of grain and berries that were hemmed in from the sea by levees with windmills churning lazily with the town's rhythms. Guarding the fringe between the town and the fields was the fortified manor of the local Earl who ruled over the area, the stately residence watching over Polderfield from its foothills.

    In spite of the view, Cabot's thoughts kept turning to the trade fair tomorrow. There'd definitely be food, drink, and performers… but more importantly there were bound to be adventurers looking for a helping claw. Perhaps he'd join a team headed off to the far north of the Empire. Or who knew, perhaps even outside of the Empire to Garanza or Linglan! The Rock-Type contentedly looked over the hill as the possibilities swirled in his head, playing through daydream after daydream…

    Nrr-hrr-hrr

    … only to be broken by the sound of a nearby whinny, slightly startling the young dinosaur as he realized he wasn't alone. Cabot braced himself, looking around his surroundings tensely. The noise didn't sound like any the local ferals made, so…

    "Eh?"

    Cabot turned around, and saw the form of a Ponyta in an emerald green scarf with an inverted silver trefoil design trotting over to a stream, lowering his head to lap up the water. The Cranidos watched as the stranger drank, noticing that the design of his scarf seemed to be of a tier above the simple cloth cuts used around town. Perhaps he was a merchant's child? They always seemed to be more ready to part with their money on frivolous things such as fancy scarves… After letting curiosity get the better of him, the little dinosaur decided that perhaps it would be best to greet the stranger, and paced forward in order to give a welcoming call.

    "Oh hi there!"

    The Ponyta jerked his head back from the stream with a start and looked around in surprise. The Fire-Type's gaze settled upon the sight of the stranger Cranidos in the clearing with him, causing a curious but skeptical expression to spread over the horse's snout.

    "Uh... hello?" the Fire-Type asked. " Who are you?"

    "I'm Cabot!" the dinosaur exclaimed. "I live here in Polderfield Town, though I don't think I've ever seen you before."

    The fire horse tilted his head and pawed at the ground uneasily, sizing up the new Pokémon in front of him. He was obviously not a feral since he had a scarf, and he seemed friendly enough, so it couldn't hurt to at least introduce himself back.

    "It's Berecien," the Ponyta answered. "But I'm from Tidemill City, so that might explain that."

    "Oh, you came to visit our town?" Cabot wondered. "How come?"

    "I didn't actually," Berecien responded. "I just took a quick break from my usual run."

    "Eh? You run all the way here from Tidemill on a regular basis?!" the Cranidos cried. "But that's at least three hours away when walking!"

    Cabot's exclamation prompted the Ponyta to give a dismissive snort and a shake his fiery mane. Hike or not, the Fire-Type didn't seem to think much of the distance.

    "Well it doesn't take that long if you're fast enough," Berecien offered. "Besides, I could use the space to run. Beats being stuck inside some dworek all day..."

    The Cranidos tilted his head and glanced puzzledly at the Ponyta. He had heard his fair share of what was called Giottani from the Pokémon who had further-reaching roots on the island than his own family, but he'd never heard that word before. So then, what exactly was a...

    "Dworek...? Are you from another island or something?" Cabot asked. "I mean, I know they have their own language in Tidemill which ferals and a few Pokémon in town also speak, but it doesn't really sound like that."

    "That's because the word is from the language that Pokémon speak on Nagrobek Island," Berecien said. "My family was originally from there before the Company chased them out and turned the island into some horrible prison."

    "Oh?" the Cranidos murmured "But… did Pokémon from there generally like running around?"

    "Well I'm not sure if all Pokémon do but... my dad said the island had some great open fields he ran around in with his father when he was about my age," the Ponyta insisted. "I figured by running around here on Giotto I'd keep the memories alive somewhat."

    "Uh... huh."

    Cabot blinked and wagged his tail uneasily, watching the Fire-Type paw at the ground. The horse was a strange being, speaking a strange tongue and familiar with strange things... But on the other hand, part of him seemed just like him, always yearning to go out further for adventure.

    "But I admit I may have gone a little bit farther than usual," Berecien continued. "This is one of the last chances I have to run around like this for a while anyway."

    "Oh? How come?"

    "I signed up for the navy not too long ago," the Ponyta said. "Service to the Empire has been a point of honor in my family, and I didn't want to be the first 'mon to break that tradition."

    The Cranidos blinked and tilted his head at the horse in surprise. Family traditions or not, the navy sure seemed like an odd profession for a Fire-Type, especially for a creature who liked running enough to run here all the way over from Tidemill...

    "But if you like running so much, why would you want to go into the navy so badly?" the Rock-Type questioned. "I mean you'd be stuck on a small ship on the water all day!"

    "Because the navy has a place for all kinds of Pokémon," Berecien began. "Besides, I wouldn't spend all my time on a ship. The Empire may be a lot smaller than it used to be nowadays, but there's still plenty of ports of call to see while on the job."

    Cabot tilted his head curiously. He had always seen the navy as a job stuck aboard some cramped and dusty ship with nothing to see beyond waves and the sky for long stretches... But the way Berecien described it made it sound like an adventure in its own right, and a gateway to seeing more places than he could ever dream of doing normally.

    "Anyway... I should probably get going soon or else my family is gonna notice I'm gone."

    The Cranidos paused, and realized that the sun was already starting to set over the horizon. The detour to Sara's house had already taken longer than he'd expected, and sticking around to chat with the Ponyta would delay him even further, and he still had both the Guild and his parents to worry about.

    "Right…" Cabot murmured. "I've got paperwork to drop off at the guild, I guess I ought to hurry it up if I don't want my parents to think something happened in the Mystery Dungeon."

    The Ponyta gave a quizzical tilt of his head at the Cranidos' words, but decided to shrug the matter off. After all, while Cabot had his own matters to get into order, he too had places to be, and dilly-dallying around wouldn't help him get to them any faster.

    "It was nice talking to you Cabot."

    "Yeah, same," the Cranidos responded with a nod.

    "I'm not leaving for Basic Training until the end of the week, so who knows? Maybe we'll meet again sometime soon."

    "I would look forward to that."

    The two Pokémon bid each other farewell, before they turned around and shuffled off in their own directions. As Cabot made his way back down the wooded hillside towards Polderfield's huts, he kept finding himself staring beyond the sunken fields and out at the sea again and again, picturing himself sailing away into a world full of adventure.

    __________________________________________________

    The sun was setting down by the time Cabot made it back into Polderfield Town, and the town had started settling into a more sedentary rhythm. The booths were largely completed by now, and some stores had already begun shuttering their doors for the evening. There were the expected holdouts: the inn, the tavern along the river, and a shack whose roof had been built into the shape of a Rampardos... 'Galton & Julia's Box Busters', the finest (and only) such operation in town as well as home sweet home for the little Cranidos.

    Cabot paced forward to the shop and propped himself up on the counter to peer behind it, only to hear a loud crash and feel the counter shake under his claws. Even so, the young dinosaur didn't flinch, as it was merely the normal sign of normal work by his parents, followed by the normal sight of a male Rampardos raising his head up and walking in from the breaking room. The Box Buster shook loose some broken wooden planks behind the counter before noticing his child and giving a cheery wave.

    "Hey there boy!" the larger dinosaur greeted. "How was your day?"

    "It went great!" the Cranidos exclaimed. "We got the chests Sara needed for the trade fair. She already left for home though, so I went to her house for her signature."

    "I'm surprised you didn't just wait until tomorrow," the Rampardos said. "You're home a bit later than usual after all."

    "Well, the trade fair is tomorrow!" Cabot replied. "I wouldn't want to make a detour to Sara's shop first for her signature, or go to the guild to deliver it."

    Galton gave a bemused shake of his head at his son's enthusiasm. It was always nice to see his child in high spirits, even if he had to be kept from getting too far ahead of himself every now and then.

    "Heh, you've been getting a bit worked up over that thing for a while now," the father dinosaur chuckled. "Are you excited for tomorrow?"

    "Yeah I am!" the Cranidos cheered. "I just know that I'll find something interesting there!"

    "Well even if you don't, you know you can always just come work with me at the shop," the Rampardos said.

    "Dad…"

    Cabot pouted at his father, prompting Galton to give a playfully reassuring pat to his child's head. His dad had suggested numerous times he take over the box busting shop at some point in the future, but spending the rest of his life in the same place opening boxes was the last thing Cabot wanted.

    "Relax, I'm sure you'll have a chance to find something," the larger dinosaur reassured. "Go tell your mom you're home so she can start with dinner."

    "Alright, I'll go do that."

    Cabot went around the shop, passing a small pile of shattered wood heaped out in the alley next to the tent that covered the shopfront. At the back was the family residence, a simple two-level hut that had been built into the rear of the tent with the front door left ajar. The Cranidos pushed the door open to come to the main room, where the simple table and its quartet of blocky stools where the family dined and entertained guests was set out. As the Rock-Type entered his home, he could hear humming coming from a room further to the right.

    "Hey mom! I'm home!"

    As soon as the words left his mouth, the bulky form of a female Rampardos came from the backroom. Evidently his mother was handling housework tonight and leaving the surplus boxes to his father, though Cabot didn't remember her demeanor seeming this puzzled on past nights where she took the lead keeping the house in order.

    "Eh? So late?" his mother answered. "You're usually home about an hour earlier than this."

    "Oh it's because I went to Sara's house to get her signature after the mission," Cabot explained. "She had already left for home after we came back from the dungeon."

    The Rampardos sighed and shook her head, much as she had done so many times before for her child's more reckless episodes.

    "You know, me and your dad do worry about you if you come home late without us knowing about it."

    "But it's not that big of a deal," the Cranidos reassured. "And I just wanted to get it done before the trade fair tomorrow."

    "The world has many dangerous places Cabot, including that Mystery Dungeon you crawl through," the larger dinosaur said. "I just don't want to see you get hurt."

    Cabot paused and looked away uneasily, pawing at the ground with his feet. The Cranidos scratched himself behind his head, fumbling with his words before he found an response that sat well with him.

    "I guess I just didn't really think about it like that," Cabot muttered.

    Julia shook her head and murmured disapprovingly under her breath at her child's antics. Even so, the matter had all worked out in the end, so perhaps it was best to not badger him too much over the issue.

    "Well you're home now at least…" the mother Rampardos sighed. "I'll go start preparing dinner."

    "Okay, I'll be in my room."

    Cabot clambered up the crude stairway to the second floor, where a simple table and stool along with fresh straw bedding awaited him. The Cranidos threw his bag aside and flopped down into the fresh straw, rolling over to stare up at the ceiling with a contented sigh.

    "Whelp, this is it," the little dinosaur murmured to himself. "Hopefully there's a nice traveling job available at the fair."

    The Cranidos pawed at his straw bedding, fluffing it up for more cushioning as the view of the town from outside his window caught his attention. Cabot paused, and looked out at the sight of booths being decorated in the main square, prompting him to give an anticipatory wag of his tail.

    "It's a big world out there, and starting tomorrow, I'm gonna see every bit of it!"

    __________________________________________________

    The sun set over the horizon, whisking Cabot off into a world of dreams where tantalizing visions of crawling through faraway vistas and sailing over clear waters played out in his mind. The general motif was the same: in his dreams he was the explorer, the dashing hero, ever pushing out into the unknown for the next horizon…

    "Cabot!"

    Until his dreams abruptly stopped. His eyes flickered, letting in morning sunlight. The Rock-Type stirred against his straw bedding, rubbing his eyes as he lethargically put his scarf on.

    "I thought you said that you wanted to go to the fair!" a voice downstairs called. "It started an hour ago!"

    At his mother's words, the Cranidos jolted upright and noticed that the sun was higher in the sky than he'd thought it would be. The Rock-Type yelped and hastily ran down the stairs, grabbing a berry off the table as he quickly greeted and bade farewell to his mother before slipping out the door.

    Cabot charged ahead for the main square, where he saw a horde of Pokémon milling about amidst a kaleidoscope of gaily-colored booths attended by various vendors. There were faces he recognized from the guild and around town such as Sara and the Kecleon merchant, along with a host of strangers that were new to him such as an energetic angular duck that floated above the ground chirping happily at passers-by.

    "Broaden your horizons with Alcon's move tutoring. It takes just one easy session to unlock more of your full potential!"

    The Cranidos blinked and watched as the Porygon nosed out a glinting disc in a strange clear sheath. Ah, that must be a 'tee-yem'… But there would be time to gawk later, he had a job to find! Undaunted, the Fossil Pokémon pranced ahead, passing a Turtonator claiming to sell the Cradle's finest charcoal, and a Smeargle painter looking for a new apprentice. He also noticed a Fraxure, Servine, and Raichu in white scarves with waterspout patterns hawking crates of tropical fruits and berries at unusually low prices… Why, it was as if the fair had brought a whole second town over to Polderfield!

    "There sure are a lot of Pokémon around town…" Cabot murmured to himself. Yes, there was undoubtedly quite the selection of booths to choose from. But some of these Pokémon were clearly just here to ply their wares and trades, so then, where would he start looking for a job…?

    "Heh, welcome aboard! You'll fit right in with us as a roadie for our travel circuit!"

    Cabot looked to the left, where he noticed a Simisage shaking hands with an Aipom from behind a booth. With the Grass-Type were a Gothorita and a Donphan, who chattered idly about their 'next stop'. Cabot paused and scratched his chin in thought at their conversation. It did sound promising, but what exactly was the group doing that would attract so much attention from the Aipom? After mulling it over a little, the Cranidos decided the best way to know for sure was to simply ask, and made his way over to the booth.

    "Sorry, but did you say something about a travel circuit?"

    The three Pokémon perked their ears up and turned to the little Rock-Type as the Aipom scurried off. Feeling a little on-the-spot, Cabot pawed his feet against the ground, clearing his throat to try and press the matter.

    "Do you have any spots left?" the Cranidos asked. "And what would you need from a new hire?"

    "Why yes, we do!" the Simisage cheered. "You're lucky you came to us this early, Cranidos. After all, many Pokémon would love to get a job that involves helping the great Thalez with his performances!"

    At once, Cabot's excitement evaporated into blinking and a flummoxed pause. 'Performances' certainly didn't sound like the kind of adventure he was looking for...

    "Wait, performances?" the Rock-Type spluttered. "But you just talked about a travel circuit."

    "That's right," the Gothorita said. "For this job you'd travel all over Giotto to get the right supplies to locations Thalez performs."

    "Once there, you'd help set up the stage and do the groundwork that allows Thalez to work his magic on the crowds!" the Donphan continued.

    "Oh..."

    Cabot slowly shifted his gaze to the ground out of disappointment. The more he heard about this job, the less it sounded like an actual adventure around the Cradle and more like the drudgery of being a pack mule. Seeing other towns on Giotto would be nice, he supposed... but beyond that, how would this be any different than simply just dragging crates up to his father's shop?

    "So what do you say Cranidos?" the Simisage prodded. "Do you still think you got what it takes?"

    "I... uh…" Cabot began. "I think I should probably look around a bit more first before I sign up for anything."

    The little dinosaur turned around and hastily moved along, leaving the stage hands to trade surprised looks with one another. After Cabot had put enough distance between himself and the trio, he finally stopped and gave a disappointed glance around the surrounding fair.

    "Well that was certainly a lot different from what I expected…" the Cranidos sighed.

    The Rock-Type continued his track throughout the fair, passing stands full of food and handicrafts along with groups of chattering Pokémon, as he searched around for any interesting-sounding opportunities. He stopped again when he noticed an empty stand with a Gallade, a Blastoise, and a Goodra all wearing rescue team badges loitering in front of the counter, disappointment visibly etched on their faces.

    "Huh?"

    Cabot gave a puzzled tilt of his head at the sight of the booth. The team didn't look like they were running any business out of the booth... So why were they just hovering around one like they were selling stuff from it? It certainly seemed a matter worth investigating, prompting the Cranidos to pace over closer to the stand.

    "Bah, fine time for that Wigglytuff to take a break!" the Gallade groaned. "Feels like we've been standing here all morning, and we still haven't found any workable teammates!

    "I'm honestly starting to think nobody in this town has any real wish to go on a traveling team," the Goodra murmured.

    "Excuse me, but do you guys travel to other islands or something...?"

    The three Pokémon scanned their surroundings looking left and right, before looking down to find the source of the voice: a young Cranidos curiously eyeing them, his tail wagging amiably. The group looked at each other puzzledly, before the Blastoise gave a shrug and knelt down to address the little dinosaur more on his level.

    "Yup, it comes with the territory for the members of Team Surveyor," the turtle replied. "There's no challenge too great for us!"

    "And… you were looking for a new teammate?" Cabot asked.

    "That's right," the Goodra said. "Why, do you know someone who'd be interested in joining us little one?"

    "Well, yeah. I'd be really interested!" the dinosaur exclaimed.

    The atmosphere suddenly changed as the smiles on the trio's faces became markedly less enthusiastic and an awkward silence filled the air. The Blastoise stared at the Rock-Type hesitantly, before clearing his throat to speak.

    "You wanted to join us...?" the Blastoise prodded.

    "Uh... yeah?"

    Cabot tensed up, and started to shift uneasily. He'd encountered Pokémon in all sorts of states of minds during his work as a Guild Apprentice, and he knew all too well that the sort of attitude the trio had was the same sort the higher-ranked teams at the Guild had when they only had low-level missions to pick from..

    "Kid, do you have any experience exploring Mystery Dungeons and the like?" the Gallade demanded.

    "Yeah I do!" the Cranidos answered. "I graduated to Normal Rank almost a year ago and have been helping different Rescue Teams ever since."

    "Almost a year huh...?" the Goodra asked, giving a sigh.

    "Look kid, our team has a Gold Rank. We're not some rookies who explore the first few floors of a dungeon looking for apples and bail out," the Gallade snarled. "When we go to an island we explore the nearby dungeon until the very last floor, sometimes fighting through multiple Monster Houses along the way. Do you really think you can keep up with us?"

    Cabot grimaced and backpedaled uneasily at the Psychic-Type's words. Sensing the little dinosaur's visibly shaken demeanor, the Blastoise sighed and spoke up.

    "I suppose what we're trying to get at is… We're looking for someone a bit more… experienced," the Water-Type said.

    "I... see…" Cabot muttered.

    "Look unless you know someone as experienced as us, just move along okay?" the Goodra insisted. "I'm sure there's something else at this trade fair more suitable for you."

    "O... kay," the Cranidos stammered.

    The Fossil Pokémon turned around and began trudging off with a deflated hang of his head, leaving Team Surveyor's Pokémon to scoff in the background and return to their still-fruitless search for a fourth teammate.

    "That didn't go well…"

    Cabot sighed and drooped his head, giving a kick at a small pebble at the ground. He had expected to find multiple jobs that would allow him to go on adventure throughout the Cradle by now, but here he couldn't even find one...

    Then again... what adventure did start off smoothly? Didn't they all have some first hurdle to get around? The thought helped to lift the little dinosaur's spirit, prompting him shake his head and recollect himself.

    "But I can't give up here!" the Rock-Type said to himself. "There has to be something!"

    The little Cranidos made his way around the crowded stalls, looking for any leads for a suitably adventurous job. There certainly wasn't a shortage of potential jobs to be filled... There was someone looking for a courier in Tidemill, a carpenter looking for an understudy, an accountant looking for a bookkeeper... But the only remotely travel-oriented job he'd found was a spot aboard a merchant ship that maintained a fixed route to and from Boisocéan. A grand adventure the first time, but to do it over and over again...?

    "This is harder than I thought…" the Cranidos murmured.

    "Have you ever wanted to sail the Cradle's seas?"

    "Oh?"

    Cabot looked towards the sea, where he saw a small crowd gathering around a podium crudely fashioned out of a crate and decorated with a indigo cloth with a leaf design on it. On it was a Swanna, with a few Pokémon behind him idling and poring over some blank papers. The bird fanned out his wings to gesture at his audience, enthusiastically speaking with the curious faces arrayed around him.

    "Then you can put your mind at ease, once you're in the navy!" the Flying-Type exclaimed.

    "The navy?"

    Cabot tilted his head curiously at the recruiter's words. He remembered how Berecien had talked about it the other day, how the Ponyta had insisted there was more to it than just being stuck on a ship all the time. He reasoned that it couldn't hurt to listen a little more, so the Cranidos walked over to the podium for a closer look.

    "Of course you'd do more than just sail around and visit places, you would help to keep our own Giotto safe!" the Swanna continued. "Pirates and corporatist traitors lurk these waters, and it's because of Pokémon like us that they don't just come in and invade towns such as these!"

    As soon as the Swanna's words left his beak, the crowd quickly thinned out of disinterest, a few more vocally braggadocious Pokémon excusing themselves to tend to stomachaches. Word of the dangers of the job quickly exacted their toll, leaving behind the Swanna along with a small party of exasperated-looking clerks behind the counter.

    "… You probably would've been better off talking about the different ports of call they'd see," a Furfrou murmured from the rear of the podium.

    "Oh? What are they?"

    The Swanna and his colleagues looked around for the source of the voice, seeing no apparent speaker at first. After a flummoxed blink, they looked down and saw that in front of the podium was a small Cranidos, curiously moving a claw to his mouth.

    "Eh?! You still haven't run off- I mean, er… Tons of places!" the Swanna hastily replied.

    "Magmapool Town with its hot springs, the sandy beaches of Copperband Village, the beautiful mountains overlooking Starpeak Square…" the Furfrou added. "One of the perks of being on the front lines defending the Empire!"

    Cabot moved a claw over his chin as thoughts of what naval life might be like swirled in his head. It would undoubtedly involve a good deal of sailing, but it would also take him far and wide throughout the Cradle, with a good deal of bad guys to headbutt out of the way in order to get stronger. The recruiters hadn't mentioned anything about pay, but they had already illustrated that it would be quite the adventure...

    And that was what he wanted most from his job anyways.

    "It sounds interesting... but what does a Pokémon need to do to join the navy anyways?" the Cranidos asked.

    "Assuming you're above the age of seven," the Swanna began. "All you have to do is give us some information about yourself like your name and where you live, and we'll sign you up."

    "Oh! That's easy!" the Rock-Type exclaimed. "How do I that?"

    "Let me get the paperwork!" the Furfrou cheerily responded.

    The poodle went to the back to the podium and fetched several papers and a small inkpad. The dog slid the papers over to Cabot along with a charcoal nub, which the Rock-Type began to gingerly fill out: name, species, hatching date... all details that ought to have felt tedious to fill out, but that melted away with his giddy anticipation. Before he knew it, it came time to place his pawprint on the paper to sign; Cabot pressed his claw into the inkpad, and pressed it down hard onto the paper, giving a small excited wag of his tail. It was the first step in a new adventure, and he just knew his parents were going to love hearing about it.

    __________________________________________________

    (Continued in the next post)
    Last edited by Virgil134; 16th October 2017 at 11:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    339

    Default

    "You did what?!"

    A tense silence fell over the dusty dining room in Polderfield Town's Box Buster shop. On one end was Cabot, still tired from a brisk run back to the shop after filling out his paperwork with the naval recruiters; and on the other were his parents, digging their claws into the crude wooden table. The pair's startled and exasperated outburst was a far cry from the excited and happy atmosphere that Cabot expected would follow his revelation, the Cranidos stammering and stumbling over what to say next.

    "I... signed up for the navy?" the Cranidos hesitantly repeated, only to be answered by a low growl from his father and a scolding question from his mother.

    "Cabot, how on earth could you do that?!"

    "B-But what do you mean?!" the little dinosaur stammered. "Why are you upset? I thought you guys wanted me to find something at the trade fair…"

    Cabot visibly blanched as he looked at his parents' faces. This- This wasn't how mom and dad were supposed to react! He'd finally found work that would fill his yearning for adventure, and here his parents were treating it as if it was all a big mistake!

    "Because working for the navy is dangerous, Cabot," the mother Rampardos said. "Life on a boat is already unsafe, and then you have pirates and the Company on top of it!"

    "How did you expect us to react hearing you signed up for that out of the blue?!" Galton exclaimed.

    The Cranidos shrank back a moment, taken aback by his parents' protest. This was everything that he'd hoped for from a job, a chance to go on adventures far and wide, and they weren't okay with it...

    … No, they would be okay with it, just as soon as he made them understand.

    "But it's finally a way for me to see the world!" Cabot began. "And the Empire is really strong so I'm sure I'll be fine! We can take on any pirates! The Company too... I think."

    "This isn't a decision to be taken lightly!" his mother shouted. "You should have come and talked to us!"

    "But-!"

    "Listen to your mother Cabot."

    The Cranidos went silent as he noticed his father was now too giving him a stern glare, Cabot's gaze drifting down to the table uneasily. Why were his parents doing this to him? Didn't they understand that this was the sort of job he'd been yearning for all this time?

    "If you would have come to us and used your head instead, maybe you would have realized that it's a bad idea to impulsively sign up for something like that," the Rampardos harrumphed. "There are plenty of other jobs that would have suited you much better, like taking over the shop for instance."

    Cabot gritted his teeth and seethed at the mention of running the shop. He'd been talking on and on about wanting to go off on adventure, the entire reason why he bothered joining the guild in the first place. Had dad been listening? Did he even care what he wanted?

    "So that's what this is all about?!" the Cranidos shouted, slamming his claws against the table. "You don't care at all whether I find something I like! You just want me to take over your stupid shop!"

    The father Rampardos stomped against the earthen floor, jolting the table and the surrounding ground as his mother's face turned into a hardened scowl. Cabot eased himself, and saw that his parents were both glaring at him, both clearly unpleased with his new attitude.

    "Don't you dare speak to your father like that!" his mother hissed.

    "That stupid shop put food on the table for this family since before you hatched!" his father roared. "And if you've got such a problem with it, you can get out and go take care of yourself!"

    "Fine! I'll go do that!" Cabot yelled back. "I'll sleep at the guild tonight!"

    The Cranidos turned around and angrily stormed out of the house, leaving his parents to glare after him as the dust still swirled in the air. Once the silence had returned to the room, Julia's countenance eased, as the Rampardos softly spoke up.

    "... Did we do the right thing?"

    "... He just needs some time to come to his senses," the father Rampardos grunted. "Let him blow off some steam tonight. He'll be back soon enough."

    Julia looked at the ground and she shook her head with a sigh. Cabot was always a headstrong one, and undoubtedly needed to be reeled in from his less cautious tendencies from time to time, but even so, his acrimonious exit left her feeling unsettled.

    "I hope you're right…"

    __________________________________________________

    True to his word, after storming out of the family home, Cabot spent the night at the Guild, sleeping in the common accommodations. Night came and went, the Cranidos waking late in the morning after a tumultuous sleep. Cabot wandered about the grounds to attempt to find a team to work with, only to find he had trouble focusing or working up the motivation to do much of anything after yesterday's fight.

    The Rock-Type left the guild, hoping a short walk around town would clear his mind. But the minutes turned into hours that stretched into the afternoon, as the surrounding huts and shops gave way to the hill overlooking Polderfield. Once there, he laid down doing little other than staring off at the town and thinking uncomfortably about what happened between him and his parents.

    "Why couldn't things just have gone a little smoother...?"

    The little dinosaur gave out a sigh and lowered his head against the ground, peering down at the town below. He was so happy after being accepted by the recruiters yesterday, but everything afterwards had gone completely wrong! It was supposed to be the best day of his life... so why did his parents have to react like this...?

    "Cabot...? Didn't think I'd run into you again so soon."

    Cabot jolted upright and whirled around at the sound of the voice, only to come face to face with the familiar Ponyta from the day before. The Cranidos blinked and pinched himself to make sure he wasn't seeing things, before stammering out a response to the Fire-Type.

    "Huh?! Berecien?!" the Rock-Type exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

    "I just wanted to see your town after our talk yesterday," the horse said. "Figured I might as well go here once before I leave for Basic Training."

    The Ponyta shook his head and paced over beside the Cranidos, lying down on the grass. The Fire-Type looked ahead at the village and fields of below, before casting a prodding glance at Cabot, thick with curiosity as to why the dinosaur had crossed paths with him again.

    "So why are you lying here all by yourself anyway?" Berecien asked.

    "Oh... just taking a break from stuff, that's all…" Cabot murmured.

    "Hm? What do you mean?"

    "Well... you see, I signed up for the navy," the Cranidos began.

    Berecien blinked and perked up his fiery tail. Much to Cabot's surprise, the Ponyta was staring at him as if he'd suddenly turned a bright pink before his eyes. Had he said something wrong?

    "Wait, you did what?"

    "Uh... well you made it sound kinda nice," Cabot offered. "... Is it a bad thing?"

    "... You didn't sign up for the navy just because some stranger said it was nice, did you?" the Ponyta questioned. "I mean, it's a serious profession."

    "Oh, it's not like that! I'm serious about it!" the little dinosaur spluttered back, waving his claws hastily. The Rock-Type then put a claw up to the corner of his mouth, trailing off pensively.

    "It's just that I've always wanted to go on adventures, see different places…"

    The Cranidos looked down and slowy tapped his claws together. When Berecien had put it that way, it really did make things sound kinda silly... but being able to make a job of adventuring was what he'd wanted for years!

    "Work at the guild just gets so repetitive after a while, and we had this trade fair in town yesterday where a bunch of recruiters made it sound like the navy would have plenty of adventure," Cabot explained. "And when I heard them about talk about it and remembered what you told me, it just seemed like the kind of thing I wanted to do."

    "I see…" Berecien said. "Though I still don't understand why you're lying around here."

    "… After I got home and told my parents, I got into a fight with them," the Rock-Type admitted. "They didn't really like that I signed up without talking to them first."

    "Well... that's kinda understandable."

    The Cranidos jolted upright and stared at the Ponyta as if he had suddenly sprouted a pair of wings. Berecien was joining the navy and he'd made it sound like a grand adventure... And now here he was telling him that he was wrong and that his parents were right about it?

    "Huh?!"

    "I mean, I trust that you already knew about it going in, but life on a ship isn't a game," Berecien began. "Naval service might be an opportunity to have an adventure, but in the times that we live in, it can also be your grave."

    Cabot faltered, slowly shifting his gaze down to the ground and rubbing his claws uneasily. He... hadn't thought about any of that when Berecien mentioned the navy yesterday, but it was hard to say that the Fire-Type was wrong about any of this. But it couldn't have been that bad if the Ponyta was still joining... right?

    "If it weren't for the family tradition, my parents would freak out too if I signed up out of the blue for a job where fighting pirates and the Company is an expectation," the Fire-Type said.

    "I… see."

    The Cranidos shifted uneasily at Berecien's words. The call of adventure meant more to him than anything in the whole world, and he'd always been chomping at the bit to go beyond his little corner of Giotto... But when the Ponyta put things that way, maybe his parents hadn't overreacted after all...

    "Anyway, regardless of what you do, I suggest trying to make up with your parents," the Fire-Type offered. "If you're really gonna go through with this, you don't want to leave the island with a fight with them."

    "I suppose you're right…" Cabot murmured.

    "I know it's probably not an easy thing for you to sort out, but I really don't think that they're trying to spoil your fun," Berecien added. "Look, you said your mom got worried something happened in the Mystery Dungeon if you stayed away too long right?"

    "Yes…?"

    "I'm pretty sure this is just the same sort of thing," the Ponyta insisted. "You really can get messed up in the navy, much moreso than during your average guild mission."

    Cabot paused in thought and shifted uncomfortably at Berecien's reminder. He didn't particularly like dwelling on the risks of adventures… but he couldn't rightfully say that the Fire-Type was wrong.

    "I just hadn't thought about it like that…" the Cranidos muttered. "But okay. Thanks Berecien."

    "Well, you're welcome," the fire horse replied. "Just know that while I didn't have much choice with my parents, you do."

    Berecien looked at the sky, and noticed that the sun had moved far to the west, its reddening rays indicating the onset of evening. The Fire-Type gave an irked snort and stomped at the ground, before turning back to his companion with a sigh.

    "Well, I should probably get going," the Ponyta said. "I should get back before anyone notices I'm missing."

    "Oh... right," Cabot murmured.

    "Just take it easy on your parents, and give joining the navy some careful thought okay?" Berecien asked. The Ponyta began to trot off a few paces, only to abruptly slow down and stop. Much to Cabot's surprise, the Fire-Type paused and looked back over his shoulder, evidently wanting to say something else

    "But if you do end up joining," the fire horse began. "I'll look forward to seeing you in Basic Training."

    "Hm right," the Rock-Type nodded. "I'll look forward to it as well."

    Berecien nodded back and lowered his head, heading off into a faster and faster gallop away from the clearing. Cabot listened to the Fire-Type's hoofbeats as they faded further and further into the distance, until they vanished entirely, leaving him alone with the town beneath him and the idle sounds of life in the surrounding forest.

    The Cranidos paused and mulled, finding both angles to Berecien's argument to be more compelling than he'd like. On the one hand, adventure surely awaited him if he went through and joined the navy… But on the other, if things fell through or if something went wrong, what would it do to his parents?

    The dome-headed Pokémon thought, and thought, before rising up to his feet uneasily. He wasn't sure about it, but after mulling it over, there seemed to be one logical choice to make.

    "I think I know what to do..."

    Cabot began trudging down the hill, a lingering unease hanging about him like a cloud all the while. Even so, in spite of his misgivings, he knew what had to be done...

    He just hoped that things wouldn't turn out into another mess.

    __________________________________________________

    "Cabot! Cabot! Are you here?"

    Cabot's parents had wandered into Polderfield's guild in their search, the complex having settled into the sleepy equilibrium most guilds do a few hours after updating their postings. The pair tried asking all the Pokémon they could find on their way in if they'd seen Cabot: the Siglyph who updated the mission listings, the Dragonite medic, the Marshtomp mailmon, and the Phanpy apprentice who worked at the storage shop just outside of the complex… only for all of them to answer back with negatives and shakes of their heads. At the entrance, the Rampardos pair burst into the main foyer and scanned the surroundings, their search turning up naught but a number of puzzled stares from passing Rescue Teams.

    "I don't see him anywhere..." Galton murmured.

    "He's always here normally!" Julia insisted. "Why would he suddenly vanish like this?"

    "Well it is a bit crowded in here," the father Rampardos offered. "Maybe he's busy and doesn't notice us."

    Galton's wife scanned the guild hall once more, looking here and there among the passing Pokémon when a familiar yellow heart-shaped crest caught her eye. The Rampardos looked ahead and saw it belonged to a Jangmo-o pawing at a mission board accompanied by a Chikorita.

    "Wait, those are the Pokémon Cabot worked with yesterday," Julia said. "Maybe they've seen him around."

    Galton and Julia made their way over to the mission board as the Jangmo-o and Chikorita looked over the day's listings on the board. The pair appeared to be deep in thought, evidently having trouble finding a listing which suited their fancy.

    "What about this mission?" the Jangmo-o asked.

    "Eh... we'll get barely any points towards our rank for that," the Chikorita murmured.

    "Excuse me, but you two worked with Cabot yesterday, did you not?"

    The two Pokémon looked up with a start from the mission board and peered over their shoulders. Much to their surprise, there was a pair of worried-looking Rampardos standing behind them, weren't these...?

    "Oh, you're Cabot's parents right?" the Grass-Type wondered.

    "That's correct," Galton answered. "We wanted to talk to him but we can't find him."

    "Do you know where he is?" Julia added, only to be answered by a shake of the Jangmo-o's head.

    "I haven't see him today actually," the Dragon-Type replied. "I know he was here last night though."

    Galton and Julia grimaced at the Jangmo-o's answer. Cabot was always one to plunge himself back into what he considered 'adventure' whenever he wanted to get out of the house... Why wouldn't that be with Rescue Teams? Had he wandered off on his own?

    "Are you sure you haven't seen him?" the mother Rampardos questioned. "Or did he at least mention where he would go to today?"

    "Do you mind giving us a moment, children?"

    The four Pokémon looked over and saw a Farfetch'd in a white scarf with green stripes heading over, her leek slung over her shoulder. The duck waddled along and looked up at the unnerved Rampardos, before turning towards the younger Pokémon.

    "I just need a moment with Julia and Galton here," the Flying-Type said. "How about you two pick that mission asking for an escort to the dungeon's seventh floor?"

    Team Resolve looked at each other uneasily, sensing that something was amiss. Even so, the Guildmaster seemed to be fairly insistent that she could handle things... perhaps it would be best to take that escort mission after all.

    "Er... I mean, if you're sure about that," the Jangmo-o began.

    "Yeah, a Rescue Team's first duty is to come to the aid of Pokémon in need," his Chikorita teammate added.

    "Bón, I'll handle things from here," the Farfetch'd reassured.

    The two young Pokémon hesitated for a bit, before taking the mission posting off the board and walking off. After Team Resolve was sufficiently far out of earshot, the two Rampardos turned worriedly towards the Farfetch'd who peered up at them curiously.

    "Guildmaster Akka, do you know where Cabot is?" the mother Rampardos asked.

    "We've been looking all over town for him, but we can't find so much as a scale!" Galton exclaimed.

    "He did stay here during the night, however, he left earlier this morning," Akka answered.

    The hope in the Rampardos' eyes abruptly evaporated at the Flying-Type's reply. After spending half the day looking for their son, to hear that even the local Guildmaster didn't know where he was hit them like a Mega Kick in the gut

    "Oh I see..." Julia murmured.

    Akka paused and moved a wing uneasily towards her bill. She hadn't expected a simple answer to affect Galton and Julia so much… Perhaps she was overthinking the matter, but…

    "Has something happened?" the Farfetch'd wondered.

    "He went to that trade fair yesterday and signed up for the navy out of the blue," Galton explained.

    The Guildmaster ruffled her feathers and glanced at the parents in stunned surprise. Cabot had always been on the bolder side as an adventurer, but that certainly seemed to be a cut above what she'd expect him to do on a spur of the moment decision.

    "That's... certainly something," Akka said. "How did you two react exactly when he got home?"

    "We were upset of course!" the father Rampardos responded. "How else were we supposed to react to that sort of news?"

    "After we disapproved of his choice to sign up for something so dangerous just like that, he got mad himself," Julia added. "He even lashed out at us and called the family shop stupid..."

    "Hrm... I see," the Guildmaster mulled as she shifted her leek against the shoulder of her wing.

    The two parents paused and drooped, their account of the whole episode dredging up unwelcome hurts. Julia looked at the ground worriedly, shaking her head with a sigh.

    "I just don't understand how he could do this," the mother Rampardos murmured. "Doesn't he know we're just trying to keep him safe?"

    "Well... isn't he already in harm's way on a regular basis?" Akka asked.

    Galton blinked and shifted uneasily at the Farfetch'd question. Was Cabot getting into other dangerous things he was hiding from him? Akka wasn't suggesting that, was she?

    "What do you mean, Guildmaster Akka?"

    "Well, missions inside the Mystery Dungeon always brings risks with them," the Farfetch'd explained. "Whether it's a territorial feral or a trap, there's no shortage of things that can become treacherous inside a Dungeon if one isn't careful."

    "But I do worry about those things," Julia said. "I sometimes just wish he'd stay in town where it is safe."

    "But even the town isn't always safe, Julia," the Guildmaster countered.

    "What are you talking about?" Galton questioned. "If he stayed here he wouldn't be fighting pirates on a regular basis!"

    "Perhaps not, but would that protect him from the times that they do come?" Akka replied. "Wasn't that what happened to your shop two years ago?"

    The father Rampardos opened his mouth to reply, only to pause and trail off. The incident in question Akka spoke of was a pirate raid about two years ago, which had torn through Polderfield in a whirlwind of fire and smoke. Most of the shops on the block had been burned up in the attack, with only a lucky headbutt helping to keep his own along with Julia and Cabot from getting swept up in the chaos. He had to admit that in that particular case Akka had a point, but…

    "I mean… I suppose, but that's not the same, and-"

    "I know it. But you can't keep Cabot perfectly safe no matter what you have him do," the Flying-Type interrupted. "If that's the case, wouldn't it be worth considering letting him spread his wings a bit and sating his thirst for adventure?"

    "I... guess…" Galton murmured.

    "As his guildmaster I noticed he always wanted to go out on adventure," Akka continued. "Working for the navy isn't safe, but perhaps it really is the kind of job Cabot has been looking for all this time."

    The two Rampardos faltered and went silent at Akka's words. All this time, they'd been so concerned about the dangers that Cabot would face in the navy that they hadn't considered the possibility that he'd already taken them into account when making up his mind. He admittedly already took more risks than they'd like, but... could it be that this was what he really wanted for himself?

    "I… I guess we never thought about it that way..." Julia began.

    "In the end it's not really up to me to judge your decisions," the Guildmaster remarked. "But put some thought into the matter, and do whatever you feel will work out best for you and your child."

    Akka slung her leek over her wing and looked expectantly at the Rampardos couple, waiting for an answer. Galton and Julia both paused and looked at each other, both seemingly struggling in thought, before giving shakes of their head and turning back to the Farfetch'd.

    "We'll think about it a bit more…" Galton said. "Thanks for your advice, Akka."

    "It's my pleasure," Akka replied. "I'm sure everything will work out fine in the end."

    Cabot's parents gave the Guildmaster a wave before they turned around and exited the guild's entrance. The pair shuffled along onto Polderfield's winding lanes, their minds preoccupied with where Cabot could be... and what was best to say to him once they met again.

    __________________________________________________

    The walk back into Polderfield Town felt longer that time, each step feeling more tiring and slower than what Cabot remembered coming home from the night before. Then again, with the butterflies dancing in his stomach, it was hard to feel otherwise. During the entire walk through Polderfield's winding lanes, Cabot had been dreading meeting his parents again. Would they still be angry? The Cranidos' nagging doubts kept surfacing one after the other, until he reached the front door of the Box Buster shop. The little dinosaur shook his head to dismiss the thought, before taking a deep breath and pushing the door open.

    "Mom? Dad? Are you there?"

    Cabot looked around the barren common room, waiting for a response and bracing for the worst, only to be answered by the sound of village life outside. Barring a little dust swirling here or there, there was no life to be seen in the shop. His parents ought to have been hard at work at this time… Why had they left? Were they upset with him? Did they not want anything to do with him right now? The Cranidos drooped and began shuffling back for the door in low spirits, only to hear his mother's voice call from the door.

    "Cabot?"

    The young Rock-Type looked up just in time to see his parents entering through the door. The pair seemed not to be angry as he had feared, but instead worried and visibly tired, as if they'd just come from a long and arduous day of work.

    "We've been looking for you all over town," Galton said. "Were you feeling alright?"

    "Oh... er... I..."

    Cabot trailed off, tapping his claws together as he found himself at a flustered loss for how to begin. After a shake of his head, the Cranidos cleared his throat, finally collecting his thoughts enough to speak up.

    "Mom…? Dad...?" the little dinosaur began. "I'm sorry for signing up for the navy."

    The Rampardos pair jolted upright and blinked at the Cranidos, both surprised to hear such an apology come from their child. This was what he'd wanted... and he was apologizing for it?

    "I didn't mean to worry you so much," Cabot continued. "I just thought it sounded fun and like a nice adventure, but if you guys really want me to quit then-"

    "Cabot, it's alright," his mother interrupted.

    "Huh?!"

    "We know how you feel about it and how you really want something like this," Julia explained.

    "If you're sure you want to do it, we won't stand in your way," Galton concurred. A blinking silence hung in the air following the Box Busters' words, Cabot staring blankly back at his parents. They… they were okay with him going into the navy?

    "Really?" Cabot asked.

    "We talked with your Guildmaster and she explained how much you've been wanting something more adventurous for a while," the mother Rampardos answered.

    "It wouldn't be right for us to stop you from chasing your dreams like that," his father added.

    Cabot blinked, half-tempted to pinch himself to make sure he wasn't just in a dream. As the shock wore off, a smile began to spread over the Cranidos' mouth, and his tail wagged out of barely bridled enthusiasm.

    "I... ah…" the little dinosaur uttered. "Thank you all so much."

    "It's okay," his mother reassured. "Come here."

    The Rampardos motioned for her child to draw near, and pulled her son into a loving embrace along with his father. The pair gave a tight squeeze, and let their child go, the young Rock-Type looking around at a loss of what he ought to do next.

    "So.. what now?" Cabot wondered. "The recruiters said that Basic Training started in a week and-"

    "Well, me and your mother actually got something for you," Galton replied.

    The father Rampardos passed over a flat, misshapen parcel that was wrapped in cheap and unbleached paper. Its unseen contents felt soft to the touch even through the paper, making Cabot pause and wonder just what sort of item could be inside.

    "We ran into Jamie as he was delivering mail." Julia said. "He had this package addressed to you."

    The Cranidos didn't see any markings on the package, only for his claw to run up against something that felt solid and waxy on the back. He flipped it over, and saw a wax seal with the leaf sigil of the Empire on it, marked with 'Office of the Admiralty' on it.

    "Oh, it's from the navy!" the Cranidos cried.

    "Why don't you open it?" his mother asked.

    The Cranidos tore off the seal and opened the package, pulling an indigo cloth out of the parcel. The Rock-Type unfurled it and saw that it was marked with a leaf design on it, the same mark the recruiters the day before had worn. Then, that meant that this was…

    "It's a navy scarf!" the little dinosaur exclaimed. "I thought they wouldn't give me one until Basic Training!"

    "Why don't you try it on?" Julia proposed.

    Cabot carefully undid his scarf and slipped the indigo garment around his neck, tying a loose knot behind his head. The Cranidos paced over to the mirror, casually sizing himself up as he peered into it to see his reflection.

    "What do you think of it?"

    "Ah! I think it looks great!" Cabot cheered.

    The Cranidos wagged his tail, and blushed a little at seeing himself with the navy scarf. For a such a plain cloth, it seemed to fit him well. Its color stood out well against his hide, and the fabric was comfortable and easy to wear, perfect attire for an adventure on the waves beyond.

    "Good luck with that adventure of yours son," Galton said.

    "I'm sure you'll do great," the mother Rampardos added.

    "Thanks dad! Thanks mom! I'll make the most of it!" Cabot exclaimed. The Cranidos gave a jubilant pump of his claws in the air, his spirits higher than he'd remembered them being in years.

    "I'll show you how a real adventurer handles things!"

    __________________________________________________

    Author's Notes:

    - dworek - Polish: "estate" / "manor" (diminutive)
    - Giottani - Venetian: "Giottan"
    - Bón - Venetian: "It's fine" / "It's good" (Used as an interjection here)
    Last edited by Virgil134; 23rd December 2017 at 8:45 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    confirmed. Sending supplies.
    Posts
    582

    Default

    Oh, a nifty little side story, huh? Sounds like there's a bit of collaboration going into this and it's always fun to see slightly different takes on a similar theme or world.

    Starting off here, the bit of opening narration sets the stage here. I thought it presents things pretty succinctly though I can't give you an opinion of what someone who hasn't read Fledgelings would think of it. Some of the sentences are a bit on the bloated side. In particular, the fourth sentence in the first paragraph tripped me up because of how many breaks it had with commas and em dashes. Brushing that aside, it's interesting that Cabot's starting out as a freelance apprentice. Not something that I think I see much in PMD-like fics. And, of course, his desire to see the world makes for a funny contrast to the main story you're branching off from. I'm guessing that was the point?

    The descriptions for Polderfield's sights pained a nice, clear picture of the place for me. There's quite a lot of Gen VII going into this, from what it looks like (Cranidos is in the Alola Dex, so I'm counting it). And I thought his Box Buster parents were very cute with their worrying.

    Moving onto the fair, Cabot's disappoint is quite palpable with the first couple of stations he ends up at. Poor little guy. I can't say I'm surprised he ends up signing with the navy, for obvious reasons. The scene with Berecien made it a foregone conclusion, especially with that "Maybe we'll see each other again," bit. I do think the argument that followed it went a bit 0-100 too quickly. Like, I wasn't expecting it to reach a "there's the door," point at all. I guess, being a short story, some things have to move quickly. But given that both parties are called out and end up immediately making up right after, it feels like that stuff could've been wrapped up in the argument scene and things wouldn't have changed.

    Anyway, this looks like it's going to be an interesting spin-off. I'm looking forward to seeing where you take this. ^^
    Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Guiding Light
    Sometimes becoming a Pokémon isn't all fun and games.

    Latest Episode: Viral Infection
    Latest Chapter: 38 - Peering Over the Horizon
    Other Works: Top Billing | Restarting

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,056

    Default

    This is cool! I'm going to admit right away that I'm not familiar at all with Fledglings, but if you did have any concerns about what someone without that familiarity might think, I think I can lay those to rest. It stands alone very well; it's warm and funny and has that wonderful sense of a big, complicated world out there that I can just tell your naďve little hero is going to stumble through quite endearingly. Your characters are vibrant and immediately engaging; it's so easy to smile at them in that indulgent way you do at fictional characters, with their quirks and foibles. It's a good story, in other words, and I'm interested to see what you plan to build on the foundation you've laid out here.

    A few notes, though: I think the opening is a little off-putting, with that big, very dry wall of information, and given that elsewhere you do a really good job of integrating data about the world into the flow of the story, it seems a shame that the opening itself is more infodumpy. Like – I really like the way you convey what the ferals are, just through context and Cabot's reactions, or how you hint at the broader political situation through the conversations about the Empire, the Company and the pirates, in a way that of course Cabot sort of misses but which gives an alert reader enough to guess at the basics of it. There's the thing with the Jynx and the teleportation, too, which is a little less elegantly integrated but still very much something that's explained as and when it becomes apparent. I feel like a lot of the information you introduce in that big opening segment could be spread out through the first few chapters, in the same sort of way. We don't need to know it all immediately: you draw the town, its inhabitants and its environs clearly enough that they hold up all on their own, without the background information.

    Other than that, I have just a few minor bits and pieces to point out here and there:

    "'mons like you sure make doing work inside Mystery Dungeons easier."
    If the first letter of a sentence is omitted with an apostrophe, the second letter should be capitalised instead.

    A turn left and a straightaway later
    I'm not familiar with this use of 'straightaway' – I don't think it can be used like this, although I do understand what you mean by it. Not sure if there's a word you could swap in to replace it; you might have to rephrase this clause for it to make sense.

    Looked like fate had dealt them a favorable hand this time after all!
    Generally, exclamation marks aren't used in the sort of third-person, omniscient narration that you're doing here; they sort of look out of place when they pop up, especially twice in one chapter as they do here. This is probably more of a convention thing than anything else, and I'm not going to say that you should never flout convention because sometimes you absolutely should, but like, it's a thing that people will think as they read this, so I thought I should mention it anyway.

    Cabot grasped the paper with his claw and stored it in his own bag, his teammates breathing grateful sighs of relief that they didn't have to go on an unscheduled hike into the fringes.
    This is an example of something you do fairly often, where you sort of overwrite things – we don't need quite as much detail as we're getting here; excess verbiage about exactly how Cabot takes the paper and what he does with it doesn't do anything for the story except slow it down. All the reader needs to know is that he took the paper and maybe that he put it in his bag; everything else, they'll sort of fill out automatically in their own head. We don't necessarily need everything to have an adjective attached, either – we know that the sighs of relief are grateful, we know that the hike was unscheduled. The words you choose are often a bit clinical, too; Cabot storing the paper instead of putting it away, Team Resolve's 'demeanors visibly brightening' instead of them looking more cheerful or brightening it up – the story's language, at its best, is really warm and engaging, and bits like this sort of drag it down a little. Here's an example of one of those really good bits:

    and he just knew his parents were going to love hearing about it.
    It's simple but effective: the language doesn't get in the way of the sentiment, and that's a big factor in why the joke works so well.

    So yeah. This is a great story! Could use a little polish here and there, but like, nothing's perfect, and honestly my complaints are few and far between. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for Cabot next time around!
    Last edited by Cutlerine; 5th October 2017 at 10:57 PM.
    GHOST TOWN
    Some bodies are buried for a reason.

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

    GO HOME
    TIME AND TIDE | A LEASH OF FOXES
    IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER | SELFISH PERCEPTIONS

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Posts
    2,452

    Default

    Hey, this looks like it’ll be a fun little mini story!

    I like the way you set of the details of how the world works without dwelling on them too much or stopping to give a long explanation. Stuff like how the guild operates, the difference between feral and town Pokémon, the existence of the Company, pirates being a common threat in this world, ect. It’s just enough info to get the point across to someone who hasn’t read Fledglings, without boring someone who has. In fact, it makes the references into fun little in-jokes. Like “a-ha, yes, an Imperial island wouldn’t view the Company very favorably, now would they?” ;D

    I admit, I was a bit confused by the scene where Cabot first returns home from his mission. At first his mother seems mildly puzzled by her son arriving home later than usual—and with a tone of surprise implying she hadn’t quite noticed how late it was until now. But then she abruptly switches to having been worried about him, as if she’d been waiting anxiously for him to return. I’d keep it one or the other. Although I’m also a bit puzzled by her response to his explanation. You’d think she’d be relieved that that he wasn’t off on some dangerous adventure. Walking across town is hardly a reckless episode?

    Also found it a bit odd that Akka took the two Rampardos aside like she had something to tell them, but then it turned out she didn’t actually know what was going on, and had to ask them what was up with Cabot. So when it was revealed that she didn’t know, the whole scene kinda turned into “I need to tell you something. Actually, no I don’t, can you tell me what’s going on?” xD;

    That said, I think you did a good job setting up the conflict over Cabot’s spontaneous decision to join the navy. Even if it was pretty obvious after the conversation with Berecien. I also like how you had him run into a few dead-ends first with the magic troupe and the gold rank team. Even though the reader already knows how it’s going to go down, making the protagonist not immediately zero in on the plot threads helps keep things grounded.

    Looking forward to seeing where the story takes him!

    ~Chibi~



    The story of an inevitable war, the humans that tried to stop it, and all the reasons their failure was written into the universe itself.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    January 07 Update: CHAPTER 28: “Legendary Revenge” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 29 progress: 4/10 pages


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    87

    Default

    So I haven’t read Fledglings, and in fact I barely know a thing about PMD period, so this is from the perspective of a general Pokemon fan. And coming from that perspective, I actually really appreciated the opening paragraphs. It made me feel like I was sufficiently caught up. And maybe this is because it’s all new to me but I thought it was interesting enough to make up for any dryness, and even if it is a little drier than what follows I don’t think it was distracting. Readers’ mileage will always vary when it comes to exposition, but I think you’ve handled it fine.

    As for the story itself, I see some good things so far. Easily the best part was the joke at the post-divide:

    It was first step in a new adventure, and he just knew his parents were going to love hearing about it.
    (Actually, I thought this was funny enough that I just now realized you’re missing an article between “was” and “first.”)

    This works great as a joke thanks to Cabot’s earlier interactions with his parents, but it also does a good job of showing just how little they see eye-to-eye and makes the conversation that follows work. I think it’s believable and relatable how their lack of common understanding leads them to butt heads, but at the same time their affection and care for one another makes it feel only natural that Cabot wouldn’t leave on bad terms. So the dynamic works, and the whole thing really shows Cabot’s naivety about what he’s getting into, which makes me think this aspect of his character will turn out to be important.

    Speaking of Cabot’s naivety, I like how you don’t let his perspective go unchallenged, and how the characters who challenge him aren’t just nay-sayers or out to keep him down. The best example of this is his second conversation with Berecien:

    "... You didn't sign up for the navy just because some stranger said it was nice, did you?" the Ponyta questioned. "I mean, it's a serious profession."
    A stranger and a recruiter no less! The number one thing that makes me concerned for Cabot is how he took a recruiter’s word at 100% face value. I thought it was effective and amusing how you had the biggest reality-check for Cabot come from the same one who got him thinking about the navy in the first place.

    One thing though about his parents’ reaction that I found odd was how they had no idea that he was so interested in adventuring. Cabot didn’t strike me as the type to be inclined or adept at hiding this, so I didn’t really buy how his mom and dad needed Akka to spell things out for them. And that’s part of why the scene with them at the guild didn’t really work for me. The other reason is that although we learned about the past pirate attacks on Polderfield, I don’t think what you got out of the scene was worth making what happens in the following scene a foregone conclusion. Going into that scene the reader’s almost positive that both sides are going in ready to listen, and that Cabot’s probably going to get the approval he’s looking for. I imagine you don’t want it to seem like it comes out of the blue how the parents change their minds, but I think preserving some uncertainty and drama in Cabot going home ready to face defeat is worth risking the exchange feeling convenient, especially if you can find some other way to limit the convenience factor without sacrificing that uncertainty.

    One more thing I want to bring up is something in the narration:

    The three Pokémon scanned their surroundings looking left and right, before looking down to find the source of the voice: a young Cranidos curiously eyeing them, his tail wagging amiably. The group looked at each other puzzledly, before the Blastoise gave a shrug and knelt down to address the little dinosaur more on his level.

    […]

    The Swanna and his colleagues looked around for the source of the voice, seeing no apparent speaker at first. After a flummoxed blink, they looked down and saw that in front of the podium was a small Cranidos, curiously moving a claw to his mouth.
    Now, both of these are fair game when you’re doing third-person-omniscient, but in close succession I don’t think they work so well. Definitely on the second time around I think it’s too many words to convey the same idea we got from the first time around. I’d consider looking into Cabot’s perspective instead of the sailors’ in the second case. Does he notice how small and inconsequential he seems to these established professionals?

    Tl;dr: Good start. There’s some good humor, good character moments, and it even works as a brief introduction to PMD without getting over-expository. Looking forward to seeing what happens when Cabot sets out to sea. (Or will things get interesting in Basic Training before they even let him on the water? Either way, looking forward to it!)

    Almost forgot, I didn’t know what a polder was, so thanks for leading me to a good new word! :)
    Roving Degenerates with Dangerous Pets
    In 19th century America, a budding taxonomist seeks to fix the laughable state of his field, and he finds help from unlikely friends: some reputable, some questionable. Chapter fic, ongoing.
    Will Somebody Stop These Kids?
    Three brave kids try to fight Team Rocket. Three responsible adults try to keep three stupid kids out of obvious danger. Chapter fic, complete.
    ---
    The Magician of Ilex Forest
    Hundreds of years ago, a proud Houndoom hears wind of the first human who might be a match for him. One-shot.
    Wild Horses in Winter
    A brother and sister in the American frontier of the 19th century set out to catch a monster. Yuletide 2017.
    ---
    FFN Profile

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    339

    Default

    Hello everyone. I’m still working hard on the next chapter, which is gonna take me a little bit because of school and a new job I recently got. That said, I’m here to reply to the reviews I received. I was very grateful to see them, and didn’t want the people who left them to wait too long for a response.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ambyssin View Post
    Oh, a nifty little side story, huh? Sounds like there's a bit of collaboration going into this and it's always fun to see slightly different takes on a similar theme or world.
    Good to see you like the concept of this story! And you’re correct, for this fic me and Spiteful Murkrow shifted roles of what we usually do for Fledglings.

    Starting off here, the bit of opening narration sets the stage here. I thought it presents things pretty succinctly though I can't give you an opinion of what someone who hasn't read Fledgelings would think of it. Some of the sentences are a bit on the bloated side. In particular, the fourth sentence in the first paragraph tripped me up because of how many breaks it had with commas and em dashes.
    Hrm, I actually struggled a little bit with that opening when I was still writing the chapter. I had actually hoped the commas and dashes would help to make it more readable, but it seems like it failed to do that for everyone. Oh well, it’s something I’ll try to keep in mind for the next chapter.

    Brushing that aside, it's interesting that Cabot's starting out as a freelance apprentice. Not something that I think I see much in PMD-like fics. And, of course, his desire to see the world makes for a funny contrast to the main story you're branching off from. I'm guessing that was the point?
    It’s great to hear you like Cabot’s role at the guild, I purposely wanted to do something a little different than what most other PMD fics do. And the contrast wasn’t actually intentional, but it is a pretty neat coincidence now you’ve pointed it out.

    The descriptions for Polderfield's sights pained a nice, clear picture of the place for me. There's quite a lot of Gen VII going into this, from what it looks like (Cranidos is in the Alola Dex, so I'm counting it). And I thought his Box Buster parents were very cute with their worrying.
    Hearing a compliment about how I managed to paint a nice and clear picture of Polderield really does me well, as this was one of the main things I wanted to accomplish when writing this chapter. Good to see I managed to make the place stand out. And yeah, Galton and Julia care quite a bit about their child :P

    Moving onto the fair, Cabot's disappoint is quite palpable with the first couple of stations he ends up at. Poor little guy. I can't say I'm surprised he ends up signing with the navy, for obvious reasons. The scene with Berecien made it a foregone conclusion, especially with that "Maybe we'll see each other again," bit.
    Well like was said in the fic, what good adventure does start off completely smoothly? :P

    And yeah, Cabot joining the navy wasn’t exactly something I wanted to play as this huge shock or twist. Especially since a bulk of the readers would already know it because of Fledglings anyway.

    I do think the argument that followed it went a bit 0-100 too quickly. Like, I wasn't expecting it to reach a "there's the door," point at all. I guess, being a short story, some things have to move quickly. But given that both parties are called out and end up immediately making up right after, it feels like that stuff could've been wrapped up in the argument scene and things wouldn't have changed.
    It’s not that Galton wanted to kick him out of the house, but moreso that he made a sarcastic comment how Cabot can take care of himself if he hates the way Galton takes care of him so much. It’s kinda like if a parent would tell their child to find a different parent in the heat of an argument. It’s something that’s obviously not meant.

    The reason things escalated here is because was Cabot angry too, and he actually does have an easy way to sleep somewhere else. The guild is not that far from his house, and he’s probably already slept there a few times at certain points in the past (although for different reasons obviously).

    Anyway, this looks like it's going to be an interesting spin-off. I'm looking forward to seeing where you take this. ^^
    I’m glad to hear I caught your interest. ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    This is cool! I'm going to admit right away that I'm not familiar at all with Fledglings, but if you did have any concerns about what someone without that familiarity might think, I think I can lay those to rest. It stands alone very well; it's warm and funny and has that wonderful sense of a big, complicated world out there that I can just tell your naďve little hero is going to stumble through quite endearingly. Your characters are vibrant and immediately engaging; it's so easy to smile at them in that indulgent way you do at fictional characters, with their quirks and foibles. It's a good story, in other words, and I'm interested to see what you plan to build on the foundation you've laid out here.
    Great to see you enjoy the story and the characters so much, especially as a non-Fledglings reader. Making the fic accessible to people who haven’t read Fledglings was another one of my main goals when I wrote this, and looks like I succeeded in it.

    A few notes, though: I think the opening is a little off-putting, with that big, very dry wall of information, and given that elsewhere you do a really good job of integrating data about the world into the flow of the story, it seems a shame that the opening itself is more infodumpy. Like – I really like the way you convey what the ferals are, just through context and Cabot's reactions, or how you hint at the broader political situation through the conversations about the Empire, the Company and the pirates, in a way that of course Cabot sort of misses but which gives an alert reader enough to guess at the basics of it. There's the thing with the Jynx and the teleportation, too, which is a little less elegantly integrated but still very much something that's explained as and when it becomes apparent. I feel like a lot of the information you introduce in that big opening segment could be spread out through the first few chapters, in the same sort of way. We don't need to know it all immediately: you draw the town, its inhabitants and its environs clearly enough that they hold up all on their own, without the background information.
    Hrm, judging from the feedback I’ve had from people, it seems like there are some mixed feelings in regards to the opening. I personally thought it was important to introduce the setting that way, though you also make some valid points regarding how not everything needs to be explained, and how things can also be introduced like I did with the Company and the Empire. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind for the next chapter.

    Other than that, I have just a few minor bits and pieces to point out here and there:


    If the first letter of a sentence is omitted with an apostrophe, the second letter should be capitalised instead.
    Fixed.

    I'm not familiar with this use of 'straightaway' – I don't think it can be used like this, although I do understand what you mean by it. Not sure if there's a word you could swap in to replace it; you might have to rephrase this clause for it to make sense.
    I made a tweak for this as well.

    Generally, exclamation marks aren't used in the sort of third-person, omniscient narration that you're doing here; they sort of look out of place when they pop up, especially twice in one chapter as they do here. This is probably more of a convention thing than anything else, and I'm not going to say that you should never flout convention because sometimes you absolutely should, but like, it's a thing that people will think as they read this, so I thought I should mention it anyway.
    I think this is more personal preference, since I know others (including myself) that do like it. I feel like it spices up the narration a bit more, especially when the paragraph is supposed to represent the character’s thought process.

    This is an example of something you do fairly often, where you sort of overwrite things – we don't need quite as much detail as we're getting here; excess verbiage about exactly how Cabot takes the paper and what he does with it doesn't do anything for the story except slow it down. All the reader needs to know is that he took the paper and maybe that he put it in his bag; everything else, they'll sort of fill out automatically in their own head. We don't necessarily need everything to have an adjective attached, either – we know that the sighs of relief are grateful, we know that the hike was unscheduled. The words you choose are often a bit clinical, too; Cabot storing the paper instead of putting it away, Team Resolve's 'demeanors visibly brightening' instead of them looking more cheerful or brightening it up – the story's language, at its best, is really warm and engaging, and bits like this sort of drag it down a little. Here's an example of one of those really good bits:


    It's simple but effective: the language doesn't get in the way of the sentiment, and that's a big factor in why the joke works so well.
    Hrm, I think I see what you mean. It’s kinda late to go back and edit chapter 1, but for the next two chapters I’ll be sure to avoid overwriting things or using overly complicated words.

    So yeah. This is a great story! Could use a little polish here and there, but like, nothing's perfect, and honestly my complaints are few and far between. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for Cabot next time around!
    I’m happy to hear that! I’ll also look forward to hearing your thoughts on the next chapter once it’s out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chibi Pika View Post
    Hey, this looks like it’ll be a fun little mini story!

    I like the way you set of the details of how the world works without dwelling on them too much or stopping to give a long explanation. Stuff like how the guild operates, the difference between feral and town Pokémon, the existence of the Company, pirates being a common threat in this world, ect. It’s just enough info to get the point across to someone who hasn’t read Fledglings, without boring someone who has. In fact, it makes the references into fun little in-jokes. Like “a-ha, yes, an Imperial island wouldn’t view the Company very favorably, now would they?” ;D
    It’s really good to hear from yet another person that I nailed this. ^^

    I admit, I was a bit confused by the scene where Cabot first returns home from his mission. At first his mother seems mildly puzzled by her son arriving home later than usual—and with a tone of surprise implying she hadn’t quite noticed how late it was until now. But then she abruptly switches to having been worried about him, as if she’d been waiting anxiously for him to return. I’d keep it one or the other. Although I’m also a bit puzzled by her response to his explanation. You’d think she’d be relieved that that he wasn’t off on some dangerous adventure. Walking across town is hardly a reckless episode?
    I think you misunderstood what happened here. She had noticed before that Cabot was late, but she was simply surprised at the fact that he was, hence her tone. Considering she was worried about him the whole time, there isn’t an abrupt switch here. I wouldn’t call it "waiting anxiously" as she didn’t run to her son the moment she saw him, but she was worried yes. Finally, you misread what the "reckless episode" was about. It’s about Cabot going off exploring and doing a bunch of other stuff without letting his parents know. Not just walking across town.

    Also found it a bit odd that Akka took the two Rampardos aside like she had something to tell them, but then it turned out she didn’t actually know what was going on, and had to ask them what was up with Cabot. So when it was revealed that she didn’t know, the whole scene kinda turned into “I need to tell you something. Actually, no I don’t, can you tell me what’s going on?” xD;
    She pulled them aside because they were obviously distressed and she wanted to help them. There was never any indication of her wanting to tell them anything, just that she wanted to speak with them. There is a reason she asked for a moment with them instead of saying she wanted to discuss something with them.

    That said, I think you did a good job setting up the conflict over Cabot’s spontaneous decision to join the navy. Even if it was pretty obvious after the conversation with Berecien. I also like how you had him run into a few dead-ends first with the magic troupe and the gold rank team. Even though the reader already knows how it’s going to go down, making the protagonist not immediately zero in on the plot threads helps keep things grounded.

    Looking forward to seeing where the story takes him!

    ~Chibi~
    I’m glad to hear you liked the additions to the trade fair scene, I was pretty fond of them as well. I’ll look forward to your next review!

    Quote Originally Posted by icomeanon6 View Post
    So I haven’t read Fledglings, and in fact I barely know a thing about PMD period, so this is from the perspective of a general Pokemon fan. And coming from that perspective, I actually really appreciated the opening paragraphs. It made me feel like I was sufficiently caught up. And maybe this is because it’s all new to me but I thought it was interesting enough to make up for any dryness, and even if it is a little drier than what follows I don’t think it was distracting. Readers’ mileage will always vary when it comes to exposition, but I think you’ve handled it fine.
    As this was exactly what I wanted to accomplish with those opening paragraphs, all I could think was one thing when I read this…

    As for the story itself, I see some good things so far. Easily the best part was the joke at the post-divide:


    (Actually, I thought this was funny enough that I just now realized you’re missing an article between “was” and “first.”)

    This works great as a joke thanks to Cabot’s earlier interactions with his parents, but it also does a good job of showing just how little they see eye-to-eye and makes the conversation that follows work. I think it’s believable and relatable how their lack of common understanding leads them to butt heads, but at the same time their affection and care for one another makes it feel only natural that Cabot wouldn’t leave on bad terms. So the dynamic works, and the whole thing really shows Cabot’s naivety about what he’s getting into, which makes me think this aspect of his character will turn out to be important.
    Heh, I’m glad you found that funny. And yeah, outside of it being a fun joke I figured it would be a good way show that aspect of Cabot’s character. Glad you picked up on it.

    (Also I added the missing article)

    Speaking of Cabot’s naivety, I like how you don’t let his perspective go unchallenged, and how the characters who challenge him aren’t just nay-sayers or out to keep him down. The best example of this is his second conversation with Berecien:


    A stranger and a recruiter no less! The number one thing that makes me concerned for Cabot is how he took a recruiter’s word at 100% face value. I thought it was effective and amusing how you had the biggest reality-check for Cabot come from the same one who got him thinking about the navy in the first place.
    Yeah Cabot can be pretty naive sometimes. I figured a reality check from Berecien would make sense :P

    One thing though about his parents’ reaction that I found odd was how they had no idea that he was so interested in adventuring. Cabot didn’t strike me as the type to be inclined or adept at hiding this, so I didn’t really buy how his mom and dad needed Akka to spell things out for them. And that’s part of why the scene with them at the guild didn’t really work for me. The other reason is that although we learned about the past pirate attacks on Polderfield, I don’t think what you got out of the scene was worth making what happens in the following scene a foregone conclusion. Going into that scene the reader’s almost positive that both sides are going in ready to listen, and that Cabot’s probably going to get the approval he’s looking for. I imagine you don’t want it to seem like it comes out of the blue how the parents change their minds, but I think preserving some uncertainty and drama in Cabot going home ready to face defeat is worth risking the exchange feeling convenient, especially if you can find some other way to limit the convenience factor without sacrificing that uncertainty.
    It’s not so much that they had no idea, moreso that they didn’t take it too serious. They saw it more as just a phase, and that Cabot’s lust for adventure would tone down as he got older. Kinda like how plenty of kids have a dream to become an astronaut when they grow up, yet when they get older most people set on more mundane jobs.

    And it’s funny, since I initially did considering not having this scene. I eventually decide to do it anyway, after getting feedback from others who did think showing it was needed. I guess in the end it’s just a matter of preference.

    One more thing I want to bring up is something in the narration:


    Now, both of these are fair game when you’re doing third-person-omniscient, but in close succession I don’t think they work so well. Definitely on the second time around I think it’s too many words to convey the same idea we got from the first time around. I’d consider looking into Cabot’s perspective instead of the sailors’ in the second case. Does he notice how small and inconsequential he seems to these established professionals?
    When writing I didn’t think this was an issue since I felt like the actions weren’t that close to each other. I suppose it’s something to keep in mind and avoid with the next chaper. Since if a similar situation does occur, writing it from Cabot’s perspective would be a good solution.

    Tl;dr: Good start. There’s some good humor, good character moments, and it even works as a brief introduction to PMD without getting over-expository. Looking forward to seeing what happens when Cabot sets out to sea. (Or will things get interesting in Basic Training before they even let him on the water? Either way, looking forward to it!)

    Almost forgot, I didn’t know what a polder was, so thanks for leading me to a good new word!
    Glad I managed to get another person interested in my story! Hearing you learned something new is also a nice bonus ^^ (And you guessed correctly my friend. After all, what would a good story about joining the navy be without some bootcamp antics?)
    Last edited by Virgil134; 24th October 2017 at 10:57 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    2 QPU to the left.
    Posts
    208

    Default

    It's a good thing to see this started and released. So congratulations on that and I hope it goes all well.

    I really can't say much regarding the grammar or plot that hasn't been said already or that I haven't commented about as part of the proofreading (caveat emptor: was one of the proofreaders) and thus no longer forms part of the release, though I will take note that I find interesting how the opening does give out different responses, considering the work that went on it.

    I have to also mention that I like Cabot as a character. He's so happy-go-lucky and so hopeful and the narration goes to some lengths to give off a mental imagery he's small, which is fun in a number of ways.

    "I'm honestly starting to think nobody in this town has any real wish to go on a traveling team," the Goodra murmured.

    "Excuse me, but do you guys travel to other islands or something...?"

    The three Pokémon scanned their surroundings looking left and right, before looking down to find the source of the voice: a young Cranidos curiously eyeing them, his tail wagging amiably. The group looked at each other puzzledly, before the Blastoise gave a shrug and knelt down to address the little dinosaur more on his level.
    You know that trope in animated series where we are shown that a character is small this exact way? Bigger character look around, don't find anything, have to look down to find the source of the voice?

    Cute. Small. Smol, even.

    Also:

    The fire horse tilted his head and pawed at the ground uneasily, sizing up the new Pokémon in front of him. He was obviously not a feral since he had a scarf, and he seemed friendly enough, so it couldn't hurt to at least introduce himself back.

    "It's Berecien," the Ponyta answered.
    Introducing the best character, right there~

    (I admit am biased. Because of reasons )

    So yeah, seeing this is nice. I'm going to see how it progresses.
    Writing what the Pokémon canon lacks since 2010!

    THE SUOCÉVERSE -- Introduction (WIP) -- Official Wiki

    Serebii-Published Writing
    Sixth :: Playfield
    Built for Risk - 3rd place Interpretations 2013
    Silly human, romance is for Nidoran~ - 2nd Best Comedy, 3rd Best Pokémon Centric 2015
    Overlord - 5th place Criminal Intent 2015; 3rd Best Non-Human MC, 2nd Best Pokémon One-Shot 2015

    » Serebii Catalog ÷ FF catalog «

    Coming Up
    Counterparts in Crime -- Interim -- Built for Risk [complete] -- Scalar 2.0 -- Codename: Cardinal -- untitled hyperfiction

    Can help with: character development
    Can't help with: getting rich fast™ schemes.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    339

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Venia Silente View Post
    It's a good thing to see this started and released. So congratulations on that and I hope it goes all well.

    I really can't say much regarding the grammar or plot that hasn't been said already or that I haven't commented about as part of the proofreading (caveat emptor: was one of the proofreaders) and thus no longer forms part of the release, though I will take note that I find interesting how the opening does give out different responses, considering the work that went on it.
    Thanks! And yeah, I know the opening received some mixed feedback. I think the opening for this chapter feels a bit more active though, so I hope it’s something that everyone is happy with.

    I have to also mention that I like Cabot as a character. He's so happy-go-lucky and so hopeful and the narration goes to some lengths to give off a mental imagery he's small, which is fun in a number of ways.


    You know that trope in animated series where we are shown that a character is small this exact way? Bigger character look around, don't find anything, have to look down to find the source of the voice?

    Cute. Small. Smol, even.
    I’m glad you like it. He’s a small Cranidos in a big world after all. ^^

    Also:


    Introducing the best character, right there~

    (I admit am biased. Because of reasons :P)
    Yeah, I can’t blame you there :P

    Anyway, I’m back with a new chapter. I know it’s been a while since the last one, but Casting Off’s second chapter is finally here. I wish I could have published it sooner, but life tends to get in the way like that. That said, I’m sure it won’t make this chapter any less enjoyable.

    Special thanks to Spiteful Murkrow, Venia Silente, and Tangent128 for helping me get this chapter ready. Can’t make any promises when the next chapter will be here, but I’ll try to make it happen as soon as possible.

    Without further ado, let’s get into it:



    In the days following the arrival of his naval scarf, life at Cabot's shop-home had taken a busy turn. There were items to be packed up, last-minute purchases to be made, and farewells to friends and colleagues to be had; all up until the actual day the young Cranidos was due to report for Basic Training. Cabot and his parents woke early that fateful day, making the trek out at first light northwards for the foothills of Giotto.

    The family's course took them along a well-trodden path past carts laden with goods and travellers, as the fields gave way to denser and denser clusters of shacks and buildings. The three continued on through the outskirts of Tidemill City until they reached its walls, the city's monuments within poking out over the stone fortifications. Despite the allure of the city, the family's journey led them to follow the contours of the walls, continuing north along the stony edifice through the outskirts.

    After another hour of travel, they made it towards a shroud of fog spilling over a beachside ridge. From the charts back in Polderfield's guild, Cabot recognized the fog to be from one of the branch paths that linked up with the dungeon where Tapu Fini's egg was said to slumber. But instead of a visible cave entrance, there at the base of the fog was a stone wall with a gate had been constructed, the site teeming with Pokémon in indigo scarves.

    "Looks like this is where we part ways, son," Galton murmured. "Take care of yourself in there?"

    "I will!" Cabot answered the father Rampardos. "I'll show 'em just how we Polderfield 'mons handle trouble!"

    The Cranidos' exclamation was cut off by the sensation of his feet leaving the ground, and being pulled into an embrace by his mother. The female Rampardos gave a nuzzle, before setting her child back down onto the ground with a worried look.

    "Just be careful, okay?" Julia insisted. "Your father and I want to see you just as healthy as you are now when you come back, you hear?"

    "Understood."

    The little dinosaur turned and darted off, giving a last wave to his parents as he got to the gates of the naval facility. At the front stood a Shiftry and a Golem with black crags that danced with static, the pair eying the new arrival suspiciously.

    "Got some papers, bůxaro?" the Golem questioned. "I can't say I've seen you around here before."

    "Erm… yes, I'm here to report for Basic Training…"

    Cabot fished around in the shoulder satchel he had brought along, passing a piece of folded paper over. The gatekeepers unfurled it, and eyed the smudged runes carefully before handing it back.

    "Looks like everything here checks out," Shiftry said. "You'll want to head in and for the bluff. The place which you'll be training in has been built into the Mystery Dungeon's side path."

    "That's right," the Golem added. "They're holding an initial assembly in just a few minutes at the entrance."

    "Okay! Thanks for the heads-up," the Cranidos answered. The Rock-Type cracked a grin back as he put the paper back into his bag, and waved farewell before carrying on.

    The Fossil Pokémon darted ahead and slipped on into the base, finding a cluster of buildings that was teeming with activity as if it were a town in its own right. As Cabot walked forward, he spotted several groups of Pokémon in indigo scarves: some marching together in neat formation, others eating small bites over a game of cards with flowers on them. There was a small dock, though strangely enough there didn't seem to be too many ships around… He had signed up for the Royal Navy… right?

    "Hey, Domehead! It's that way! You'll miss the assembly!"

    Cabot flinched at the sound of a loud growl, looking up and jumping back with a yelp as he saw a glaring Granbull with a twinleaf scarf glowering over him. The Cranidos looked around hastily and noticed that his course while touring the base had led him towards the seaside… the exact opposite direction of where the gatekeepers had told him to go.

    "Ack, sorry!" the dinosaur hastily apologized. "I just got my directions mixed up a bit!"

    "Well, get them straight and get going already!" the Granbull yelled.

    The Fossil Pokémon turned on his heels and ran inland for the bluff, going as fast as his feet would allow. That sort of embarrassment wasn't exactly how he'd hoped to start off Basic Training… but even so, it wasn't as if one little mishap was predictive of how the rest of training would go, right?

    The Cranidos' sprint took him past a clearing with a gate blocking a foggy passage. In front of it, a stage and podium had been set up, with the forms of dozens of Pokémon in naval scarves like his crowding around. The little dinosaur looked around blankly at the gathering, before making his way to the fringes of the crowd where his eyes settled on a Ferroseed disinterestedly chattering with a few others.

    "Uh… hello?" Cabot asked. "Do you know where everyone is sitting for this assembly?"

    "Right here," the Ferroseed answered. "I guess just take a spot somewhere and wait until one of the higher ups holds his opening speech."

    "Oh, okay," the Cranidos murmured.

    The Ferroseed shifted his attention towards his comrades, drifting back into a conversation about battle cards as Cabot's gaze in turn shifted to the rest of the assembly. The young dinosaur looked around, as a realization came to him… These were all the recruits, weren't they? If so…

    "Oh!"

    … then anyone who he heard would be entering training would also be here… including Berecien! Cabot wandered around the gathering, carefully scanning it, until he finally spotted a fiery horse in the middle of the crowd, his tail lazily flicking back and forth.

    "Hey! Berecien!"

    The Ponyta looked up with a surprised flick of his ears, discovering much to his astonishment that the Cranidos he'd encountered in his travels was here, waving at him. The Fire-Type blinked incredulously for a moment, before shaking some sense into his head and clearing his throat to speak.

    "Cabot? I see you decided to join after all."

    "Uh huh!" the Cranidos nodded. "I talked things over with my parents, and it's all good now!"

    "Well, I'm glad to hear it all worked out for you," Berecien said.

    "I know!" the Rock-Type exclaimed. "It'll be so much fun to work with you!"

    The Ponyta blinked at the little dinosaur's enthusiasm, giving an awkward shuffle of his hooves. While the recruiters certainly would've been pleased to enter such a gung ho Pokémon into the service, it was barely the first day, and Cabot seemed to be getting just a little ahead of himself here.

    "Well, I wouldn't be too sure of that."

    "Huh? What do you mean?" Cabot asked.

    "Well, we might end up working together, but there's no guarantee," Berecien explained. "We don't even know if we'll get assigned together."

    "Oh…"

    The Cranidos' cheery smile faded away into an uneasy grimace at the horse's words. He… he wouldn't be able to work with Berecien? But he'd been counting on it all this time! How was he supposed to know what was going on if-

    "Alright, everybody quiet down and listen up!"

    Cabot jolted upright and looked up, the nearby cadets hastily stilling their tongues and turning their attention back to the podium. There on the podium was the same Granbull from earlier, looking around the amassed recruits and giving an impatient scowl to the audience.

    "We've got a visitor from Headquarters, Admiral Coil," the dog barked.

    The mention of 'Admiral Coil' caught the attention of the gathered recruits, spurring a torrent of excited murmurs and chattering among the gathered Pokémon. Cabot knew he'd heard the name before in passing a few times, but what exactly had he done to be so special…?

    "Wait, the Admiral Coil?" a Pidgey wondered.

    "The famous pirate hunter?!" a Timburr cried.

    Evidently so, as the revelation by the Granbull that the admiral was coming to visit certainly electrified the atmosphere… perhaps a little too effectively for the dog's liking given the impatient scowl on her face.

    "Yes I know you've heard of him too," the Fairy-Type grunted. "So simmer down and shut up, he's got a few words to share with you whelps."

    The gathering quieted down as the sound of static crackling filled the air faintly, their eyes turning to the side of the podium where a pitted and scuffed Magnezone floated up. The Electric-Type settled down on the podium and pivoted in the air, turning his eyes towards the audience with a hardened, serious look before giving a shake of his magnets.

    "Good afternoon, cadets," the admiral greeted. "I welcome you all to the opening of Basic Training."

    The Magnezone bobbed a little, spinning his magnets and steadying his body to peer down at his audience. The Electric-Type gave a crackling sound, perhaps to clear his throat (if Magnezone even had throats) and continued on, a serious gaze coming over his eyes.

    "As you all know, our beloved Empire has seen much better times since the Company's betrayal," Coil began. "Anyilla has been fractured and half the Empire is either occupied by them or other rogues, and pirates now openly attack ports. Every day, me and my peers in the Admiralty wake up to new challenges for securing what remains under the Imperial banner and stretching our budget to accommodate our needs."

    The admiral looked about the gathering, basking in his audience's rapt attention. The Electric-Type paused a moment and briefly closed his outer eyes, before continuing on with his speech.

    "However, seeing you all here gives me hope for a brighter, better future," the Magnezone said. "A future where Anyilla is restored to its former self, one that will ultimately rely on the courage and bravery of Pokémon like you to accomplish."

    The Electric-Type's buzzing drew murmurs from the crowd, some flattered by his praise, others filled with some unease as to what expectations were being placed on them. The growing burble of chatter stopped as the audience watched Coil motion for silence with a magnet, before continuing on speaking.

    "But to achieve that future, you must equip yourself with the right tools and skills," the admiral continued. "Although this facility and the Mystery Dungeon beyond might be simple, it is the first step along that journey, to train and prepare you for the challenges you face ahead."

    Cabot looked with visible disappointment around the gathering and let out a small sigh. He had been looking forward to starting naval training since his scarf came in the mail, but he never thought about how he'd be training with a bunch of Pokémon he didn't know. Admiral Coil made training sound like quite the ordeal, and nobody from the guild back in Polderfield had joined along with him… If Berecien wasn't there to help him, would he really be able to pull through…?

    "For the next four weeks you will be split into four groups," Coil explained. "Each group will be assigned to an instructor, who will train you and push you to your limits until you're ready to serve the navy in the field."

    The Magnezone's commentary prompted the gathered Pokémon to start looking around their surroundings at their potential teammates. Most of the recruits seemed to find the process exciting, playing through fantasies of their ideal set of partners. Even so, the lively atmosphere failed to lift Cabot's spirits, as he looked around anxiously tapping his claws together all the while.

    "And with that, I will be bowing out of your way to let you start training," the Electric-Type concluded. "But remember, in this service you'll sometimes be forced to do things that might be… difficult to explain to others. But in the end, to get the results you want, your objectives will require you to take liberties with your judgements beyond established protocol."

    Cabot's gaze shifted from the speaker and the surrounding cadets, his head drooping as his initial enthusiasm had been replaced with an uneasy sinking feeling in his stomach. A buzz from the podium reached his ears, prompting him to glance up and see that Admiral Coil had adjusted himself and glanced at the exit before turning back to his audience.

    "Good luck, cadets," the Magnezone said. "We're counting on you."

    Admiral Coil gave the bobbing approximation of a bow before floating off, leaving his audience to chatter amongst themselves. Amidst the excitement and smalltalk, Cabot continued to stare at the ground blankly, his upbeat mood having been completely displaced by overwhelming feelings of dread. A soft whinny caught the ears of the Rock-Type, prompting him to look up and see that Berecien had sidled up beside him, pawing impatiently at the ground.

    "Hrm?" the Ponyta wondered. "Something the matter?"

    "It's just… I thought we'd be working together for sure," Cabot muttered. "I mean the Admiral makes it sound like navy life would be tough, and I thought for sure that I'd work with a partner I knew to get through it…"

    Berecien watched as the Cranidos trailed off and his eyes drifted gloomily to the ground. The Ponyta swished his tail uneasily and fumbled for words a little, torn as to how to reassure the Rock-Type without filling him with false hope.

    "Look, don't worry too much about it okay?" the fire horse insisted. "It's true that we might get put into different groups, but that's just a possibility. It might very well not happen."

    "I guess…"

    "And after training, we could still be assigned together regardless of what group we train in," Berecien reassured. "Besides, we're still going to have downtime here. It's not as if we can't meet up during it."

    Cabot blinked his eyes in surprise before looking up at his Ponyta companion. Berecien seemed like he was very serious about joining the navy when they first met… He would really go through the trouble of meeting up with him regularly even if it wasn't convenient?

    "You'd… really do that?" the Cranidos asked.

    "Yeah, I would," the Ponyta nodded. "Cadets like us have got to look out for each other!"

    "I mean, when you put it that way… it doesn't sound so bad," the Rock-Type murmured, giving a nod back at the Ponyta.

    "Thanks for that, Berecien," Cabot said. "I'd been worried through the entire speech about how I'd make it through training."

    "Mind you, you still should," the Ponyta chided. "But at least you can worry more about the actual training itself."

    Cabot lifted his head, his enthusiasm returning to him with a weak smile and a chipper wag of his tail. A little training might be tough but with a friend it was bound to be something he could overcome.

    "Heh, I'm sure it's nothing we can't tackle together! Let's do this!"

    __________________________________________________

    After the assembly concluded, groups were assigned by a Delibird who went around passing out colored cards, breaking the pool of recruits into four training groups. Much to Cabot's relief, he discovered that both he and Berecien received blue cards from the Ice-Type, the Cranidos turning to his Ponyta partner in high spirits.

    "Maybe I should have you talk about possibilities more often, Berecien," Cabot cheered. "For a while I didn't think we'd be together!"

    "Well, let's not get too excited here," the Ponyta replied back. "It's Basic Training, and there's still a lot of work ahead of us. Let's start by finding out what instructor-"

    "Blue Group, on me!"

    The pair's attention shifted over to the gate, where much to Cabot's horror, there holding a blue sign was none other than the Granbull who'd introduced Admiral Coil to the audience… and the very same one who chewed him out for straying off earlier.

    "Erk…"

    "Eh?" Berecien murmured. "Something the matter, Cabot?"

    "Alright, listen up cadets!" the dog barked. "We're going into the dungeon, and I'm not backtracking to find lost cadets. You either stick with the group, or you get kicked off-base whenever you get fished out! Are we clear?"

    "Yes ma'am!"

    The gathered recruits around the Fairy-Type marched off after their instructor, prompting Cabot and Berecien to hurry along after the lot as they followed single-file through the dungeon fog. The journey through the Distortion's disorienting haze took them to a chamber that appeared to consist of rocky passages riddled with stony walls, the group following their instructor through a winding set of corridors and up a flight of stairs. After passing through the stairs and onto the next level, the Granbull paused and eyed her surroundings, noticing a fog-filled passage in a rocky alcove ahead.

    Encountering the fog for a second time in a Mystery Dungeon was a certain sign of finding a place that was not affected by its continuous shifting. It didn't seem logical that the dog would lead her group to an exit so quickly, which seemed to indicate she'd lead them to a stable zone: one of the islands of stability that naturally maintained its place amidst the shifting floors around it. The Fairy-Type then pressed forward, leading the group into a water-ringed islet with a wooden gate flanked with blockhouses at the entrance. The group filed in, coming to a flat, open space with lines marking battlefields, prompting the dog to clap for attention back at the gate.

    "And here we are, where you'll be spending most of your time during training. While some of you might have already run into me on-base…" the Fairy-Type began as her gaze drifted off to Cabot, much to his displeasure. "Let me formally introduce myself. My name is Petty Officer Trixie, and for the next four weeks I will be your instructor."

    The Granbull's introduction drew a small chorus of skeptical mumbles and whispers from the cadets, evidently not finding the Fairy-Type's claim to be terribly impressive. Sensing the lack of enthusiasm, Trixie stamped her foot against the ground to jolt the crowd to attention, before continuing on in a stern tone and glancing down at some notes.

    "Hrmph, I see we've got the expected field hands, some layabouts, a Duke's kid, and more characters in this group than I'd care to get into right now," the Granbull said. "But none of that matters while you're training here. Let there be no mistake, being in the navy is not for the faint of heart, and I'll be training you day in and out until you're sailors worthy of fighting in your queen's name."

    The recruits' murmuring died down under the withering glare of the Granbull and her large fangs. Satisfied with the attention, the dog gave an impatient harrumph before continuing on.

    "This is Basic Training, not a day trip around the outskirts of your home villages," Trixie harrumphed. "While you are under my command, you will do as you are instructed without back-sass or debating me in the field. I expect you to do your duty and to do it promptly-"

    "Hey, this is the Blue Group, right?"

    Cabot blinked and turned with his fellow cadets to the stable zone's edge, where they saw about a dozen Pokémon standing there. The lot of them were garbed in dark khaki scarves with a pair of red fang-like slashes on it, that had been offset to appear as a pair of horns. The group shifted lazily, wholly unconcerned they'd interrupted Trixie's speech much to her glaring displeasure.

    "It is, and you're late," the instructor growled. "What took you all so long?"

    "Err… our ship ran late," a Cacnea with a khaki scarf offered. "No biggie, right?"

    The Grass-Type's flippant answer drew a low growl from the Granbull instructor. Her audience meanwhile exchanged confused looks, wondering aloud about the new strangers, and why it was that they'd been allowed in without donning naval scarves much as they had.

    "Uh… who are these guys?" a Ferroseed asked.

    "These Pokémon are from the Dune Devils," Trixie replied. "They're a group of mercenaries who will be training alongside this unit."

    The Granbull's explanation drew blinks and puzzled murmurs from the gathering. After some awkward hemming and hawing, a Togetic raised an arm and asked the question that had been collectively lingering over the audience.

    "… But aren't they already supposed to know how to fight?" the Togetic questioned.

    "Like any combatant, they have to get used to the environment and structure they will be operating in," the Fairy-Type explained. "While rowdy and undisciplined battles may suffice in some cases, it won't within Her Majesty's forces, much less for the assignments that they will be sharing with you."

    "Yeah, yeah, we get the point," a khaki-scarved Sandshrew grumbled.

    Trixie shot a piercing glare at the Ground-Type, who reflexively shifted back. The Dune Devils drifted off into the crowd, the Fairy-Type's gaze moving them along a little faster than they might have liked before she turned her attention back to the audience at large.

    "Anyway, I have supplies to fetch for your training," the Granbull huffed. "I'll be back within 15 minutes, and then we'll be starting off with some sparring matches to see how strong you lot are. I suggest you try and get to know each other in the meantime."

    The Granbull gave a stern harrumph before setting off, walking past the small blockhouses at the wooden gate straddling the entrance to slip off into the foggy path back into the Mystery Dungeon. As the Fairy-Type departed, the cadets quietly looked around among themselves, before drifting off into small cliques to converse with each other. In the midst of the self-sorting, Cabot and Berecien sidled up to each other, the Ponyta giving a puzzled tilt of his head back to the Cranidos.

    "So why did the instructor glare at you when she said some had already ran into here?" the Fire-Type questioned.

    "Oh, I just got a little lost earlier," Cabot sheepishly admitted.

    The Cranidos closed his eyes and scratched his head bashfully; he supposed it was a little bit embarrassing… As he opened his eyes, he saw the mercenaries from earlier at the edge of his vision, noticing they had drifted away from the rest of their fellow cadets.

    "Those 'mons with the different scarves seem a little alone," the Rock-Type murmured. "Aren't they going to go around meeting others like the rest of us?"

    Berecien followed Cabot's gaze over to the Dune Devils, before narrowing his eyes and turning back to the Fossil Pokémon with a dismissive snort.

    "Hmph, best to just leave them be," the Ponyta huffed. "Mercenaries aren't exactly the most trustworthy Pokémon."

    "But we'll have to work with them, won't we?" Cabot asked.

    "Doesn't mean we can't avoid interacting with them," Berecien said.

    "But they can't be that bad," the little dinosaur replied. "I mean, I didn't want to train alone, so I'm sure they wouldn't mind some new friends either."

    The Ponyta frowned and flattened his ears out at Cabot's response. Even without saying a word, it was clear the Cranidos' argument had not been convincing.

    "Eh, I dunno."

    "Come on, let's at least go see what they're like," Cabot proposed.

    The Rock-Type shook his tail and began to make his way over to the group of mercenaries. At once Berecien went wide-eyed, and spluttered after his departing partner.

    "No Cabot, wait-"

    "Hey there!" the Fossil Pokémon cheered.

    The khaki-scarved Pokémon halted their conversations and looked up to see their interrupter. After spotting Cabot ahead of them, the group looked at each other unsure of how to respond, before giving the Cranidos skeptical glances.

    "Eh? Who are you supposed to be?" a Numel asked.

    "I'm Cabot, and this is Berecien!" the Cranidos answered, pointing at his Ponyta friend. "I figured if we're gonna work together we might as well get to know each other."

    The mercenaries traded sidelong looks with one another, evidently unimpressed with the Cranidos' overly enthusiastic welcome. Eventually, a Sandshrew from the head of the group stepped forward, and brushed some dust off his scaly hide and puffed his chest out before replying.

    "Hm, well I'm Niilo," the pangolin said. "Proud member of the best and most elite mercenary force of Sormus Island."

    "You're the only mercenary group in Sormus," Berecien retorted.

    "Hey, don't knock the Dune Devils!" a Cacnea huffed in response. "We're the finest claws that money can buy in Anyilla!"

    "If that's the case, then it's nigh time the Empire was put out of its misery," the Ponyta muttered under his breath as he rolled his eyes.

    The khaki-scarved Pokémon clearly had better hearing than the Ponyta expected, as growls went out and some of the mercenaries adopted aggressive stances. Sensing that things were going into a different direction than he intended, Cabot gave a hasty wave of his claws for calm, trying desperately to change the subject.

    "So what exactly does a mercenary do?" the Cranidos asked.

    "We lend our strength to fighters with a good cause and good pay," Niilo explained. "We basically do the same job, but get paid more for it!"

    "W-What? No you don't!" Cabot spluttered, before slowly turning to his Ponyta companion. "… Do they, Berecien?"

    "Grr… it doesn't matter!" the horse snapped, angrily stomping the ground with one of his hooves. "Fighting for the Empire is supposed to be about fighting for a good cause and securing a better tomorrow, not how much money you earn!"

    "Tch, you're in no position to be picky about your allies, cupcake," a Numel scoffed.

    "Pah, some 'allies'! If it weren't for us training in a group, I'd rather take a dunk in the sea than work with 'mons as beneath me as you!" the Fire-Type snarled. "What's the difference between a sellclaw and a common pirate anyways these days? A week without pay?"

    Berecien's retort at once hardened the gazes of the mercenaries into fierce glares, shifting into battle-ready poses. Cabot grimaced at the realization that Berecien had picked a fight with a group that outnumbered them, and watched the Sandshrew in their number lead the group forward and stare him and Cabot down.

    "Alright tough guy, you wanna be like that?" Niilo growled. "Let's make things a bit more interesting."

    "Eh? What do you mean?" Cabot wondered.

    "We're about to do some sparring matches when the instructor gets back," the Sandshrew explained. "Let's see which of the two groups is more useful here."

    The Cranidos began to stammer, unsure how to deescalate the standoff. This was hardly the first impression he was hoping to make, and fighting would certainly not do anything to make it better.

    "Erm… I mean-"

    "Humph, forget it," Berecien huffed. "We've got better things to-"

    Bwok bwok bwok

    The Ponyta stopped and stamped a hoof into the dirt at the sound of Niilo clucking ahead of him. The Fire-Type looked up to see the sand rat miming a Torchic's wings and the other mercenaries guffawing in the background, prompting him to angrily paw at the ground and lower his head as if he were ready to charge.

    "Fine, you've got yourself a match, Sandshrew," the horse hissed. "I hope you like being trampled into the dirt."

    "Trust me, you'll be learning a very valuable lesson by time we're through with you," Niilo said confidently.

    "Erm… what would that be?" Cabot hesitantly asked. The Cranidos was answered by a smug grin from the pangolin, the Ground-Type leaning in and giving a prodding poke at Cabot's chest with his claw.

    "You get what you pay for."

    The mercenaries broke into jeering laughter, before turning and heading off leaving their still-stunned new acquaintances behind. As the Pokémon slipped away, Berecien scoffed dismissively at the threat, while Cabot grew increasingly doubtful that this challenge was really such a good idea. The commotion drew the attention of some of their fellow cadets from the sidelines, debating among each other as to whether it would be Cabot and Berecien or their mercenary foes who would need to be dragged off the battlefield.

    "Whelp, that went well," a passing Salandit remarked.

    __________________________________________________

    (Continued in the next post)
    Last edited by Virgil134; 12th February 2018 at 1:06 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    339

    Default

    About ten minutes later, Trixie returned with a bale of straw along with a Vivillon and an Audino. The Fairy-Type spread the straw out at the back of the stable zone to create a mat of bedding as the two Pokémon readied healing implements, evidently medics for the coming bout of training. The gathered cadets whispered among each other, some speculating over just what their impending battles might entail, as Cabot and Berecien waited for their fight with Niilo, an uncomfortable, nagging thought bothering the Cranidos all the while.

    "Are you sure this is a good idea, Berecien…?" the dinosaur asked.

    "Yes," the Ponyta insisted. "That Sandshrew is the one who started it, and I'm not gonna sit here and let those riff-raffs call us cowards."

    "But I tried to make friends and all we got were rivals instead…" the Rock-Type murmured as he lowered his head.

    "Simmer down, maggots!"

    The audience abruptly quieted down at the Trixie's shout, leaving her to pace back and forth, sizing up the group. The Granbull trained a skeptical glare on the group, mentally noting who the most unruly-seeming of her charges were and continued speaking.

    "As I mentioned before I left, we're gonna start off with some sparring matches to see what you're all made of," the Fairy-Type began.

    While the instructor scanned the crowd of cadets, she quickly noticed there was a division. Even after a chance to interact with, the Dune Devils continued to sit separately from their indigo-scarved peers. The Fairy-Type frowned a moment at the continued separation, only for an idea to flash over mind, and a small smile to creep up onto her muzzle.

    "And what better way is there than seeing how each of your little cliques here in the Blue Group perform as a team?" Trixie proposed. "We'll start with a triple battle with three members of each group. The rest of you can watch before we get into your own battles."

    The dog's instructions were met with murmurs, some eager for the chance to prove themselves, others more uneasy about being put on the spot. Before the chatter could grow overly vocal, the bulldog motioned for silence, before loudly grunting out a question to the group at large:

    "So, which of you new recruits would like to volunteer?"

    "I do!"

    The cadets' gaze turned to the center of the group as a Ponyta in their midst proudly trotted forward before the Granbull instructor. Satisfied with the swiftness of her first volunteer, Trixie turned her attention back to the crowd for a second to round out the first team.

    "Alright then, anybody else?"

    Cabot uneasily fidgeted in place, unsure if going along with Berecien's new rivalry was really the best idea. After a moment's unease, the Cranidos eventually reasoned that at the very least the encounter would help with training, prompting him to slowly raise his claw and speak up.

    "I'll volunteer too," the dinosaur said.

    "Hmph, hope you know your way better around the battlefield than around our base, pipsqueak," Trixie scoffed.

    The Fossil Pokémon blanched and flusteredly pawed at the ground, before making his way grudgingly up to the battlefield. The Granbull grumbled, giving an unimpressed shake of her head before she turned to the rest of the recruits.

    "And who is gonna be the third?" the Fairy-Type asked.

    An awkward silence followed, punctuated by the occasional cough. Trixie waited, tapping her foot impatiently for anyone to follow the Ponyta and Cranidos' example, only to be left waiting by the other recruits.

    "Anyone?" the Granbull insisted. "If no one volunteers, I'll be picking someone to fill the role."

    "We'll do it!"

    The gathering's attention turned towards the back of the crowd, where a Combee bubbling with enthusiasm flew up. Down at the ground, a surprised-looking Salandit grimaced, casting a startled look up at the energetic Bug-Type.

    "Eh, Melli?!" the lizard beside her cried out. "What are you-?!"

    "'We'?" Trixie questioned. "What do you think you are, royalty?"

    "Oh, not at all!" the Combee exclaimed. "We're simply a trio of sisters who share the same mind, body, and-"

    "Okay, spare me the lecture," the Granbull harrumphed. "You're a 'we'. Just hurry up and get on the field."

    The Bug-Type flew over to the instructor, flitting down to join Cabot and Berecien with a cheerful buzz. Trixie rolled her eyes at the little handful of a Combee, before turning towards the khaki-scarved Pokémon in the crowd with a gruff look.

    "Alright, so who is gonna represent you mercenaries?" the Fairy-Type grunted.

    "I'll do it, and Chalco and Orcutt will be my teammates," Niilo responded, before looking back at his companions. "All of us from the Dune Devils have just been dying for a chance to show our skills, isn't that right, kaverit?"

    "Heh heh heh, that's right!" a khaki-scarved Mudkip next to him laughed.

    "Yeah, it'll be a cakewalk!" a Cacnea exclaimed. "I'd bet Chalco herself could sweep that joke of a team!"

    The three mercenaries sauntered onto the battlefield, prompting Cabot, Berecien, and their newfound Combee teammate to take positions at the opposing end of the field. Satisfied with the arrangements, Trixie walked out to the midpoint to the right of the battlefield, where she raised a paw before giving serious looks at the opposing teams.

    "You all know the drill," the instructor said. "First team that knocks out the other three wins, simple as that."

    Cabot looked around the battlefield and gulped nervously. It wasn't that he hadn't been in his fair share of battles during his time at the guild, but he never got roped into some bet like this! The dinosaur breathed in and out uneasily, trying and failing to focus on his surroundings only for the sound of Trixie's voice to jolt him back to attention.

    "Ready? … Then go!"

    The Granbull moved her arm down with her shout, prompting Cabot and Berecien to dart ahead towards their foes. Much to their astonishment, Niilo used the opportunity to spring forward… and promptly pivot his backside towards the Cranidos and Ponyta.

    "Oi, Ponyta!" the Sandshrew shouted as he tauntingly shook his tail at Berecien. "Bet you can't even hit the broadside of a Wailord!"

    "Grr, we'll see about that!"

    The Ponyta's mane began to flare up, spreading fire over the horse's hide as he lowered his head in a charge. The Fire Horse Pokémon sprang forward into a fiery somersault, aiming to strike the sand rat hooves-first…

    …only for a damp, painful jet to strike his flank in midair.

    "Argh!"

    Cabot watched as Berecien lost his balance and tumbled to the ground unceremoniously, drenched in the aftereffects of a Water Gun from Niilo's Mudkip teammate up ahead to the right. The Cranidos went wide-eyed as he saw her spring around, readying herself to spit up another jet at the Ponyta as the horse stumbled back up to his feet.

    "Ah! Leave him alone!" the Fossil Pokémon cried out.

    The Rock-Type lowered his head and bolted for the Mudkip, charging along until he felt his head strike her body with a loud smack. As the Water-Type flew back along the battlefield, her Cacnea teammate took notice and readied his arm at Cabot as needles began to poke through his waxy skin, the clear beginnings of a Pin Missile.

    "Oh no you don't!"

    Before the Cacnea could react, he was cut off by a cutting gust of wind that sent him tumbling back along the battlefield. Cabot jumped at the sight and sound of his surprise attacker being beaten back, looking back to see that the gust's creator was none other than the Combee on his team. The Cranidos breathed a sigh of relief, but before he had any chance to thank his Bug-Type teammate, a sudden piercing pain shot through his side.

    "Ow!"

    The Cranidos recoiled, running his claws along his flank to find a freshly-lodged Poison Sting. Cabot whirled to the side, just in time to see its Sandshrew owner waving tauntingly over at him.

    "Better pay attention, rookie!" Niilo taunted.

    Cabot pressed his claws against the scaly spike and yanked it out with an audible wince, his eyes following Niilo as the Ground-Type fell back. The Cranidos was about to follow when the sound of hoofbeats reached his ears, the dinosaur looking over his shoulder to see Berecien running up.

    "Let's take out that Sandshrew first," the Ponyta proposed. "His Ground-Type attacks could be a problem for us both, but we can take him out easily if we work together."

    "Right," Cabot nodded.

    The Cranidos lowered his head and charged ahead for the Sandshrew, his partner following suit hoping to flank him. The pair swooped down upon their Ground-Type foe, only for him to curl into a ball, and abruptly roll out of the way. Cabot and Berecien skidded along the battlefield tackling air, hastily righting themselves to change direction and continue pursuing the errant pangolin.

    "You can't flee from us forever, desert rat!" Berecien snarled.

    "I'm not trying to flee at all!" the Sandshrew jeered. "Just teaching you lot a lesson why you really should pay attention to your surroundings during battle."

    "A-Ah!"

    Cabot and Berecien whirled around just in time to see their Combee teammate flying about in a panic as their Cacnea foe shot needles at her. At once, the Cranidos darted over to come to his Bug-Type teammate's aid, only to see her get struck by a rock lobbed by the Mudkip, sending her crashing to earth limply.

    The Fossil Pokémon froze slack-jawed for a moment, paralyzed with shock over seeing his teammate felled so quickly. The Cranidos' stupor was quickly broken by a needle sailing by his face, prompting him to hastily retreat back to his Ponyta partner.

    "Ack! What do we do now?!" Cabot cried.

    Berecien grit his teeth as their opponents regrouped as well, irritated at the sight of the mercenaries' obvious satisfaction about how the fight was unfolding. The Fire-Type ducked as a jet of water zipped past him, the horse desperately trying to figure out a way to turn the tide of battle. The Ponyta's glance shifted to his Cacnea opponent and after a brief pause, Berecien's ears pricked up with a flash of inspiration.

    "We play to our strengths."

    "Huh, what do you mean?" the Cranidos asked.

    "One of them is a Grass-Type," the Ponyta explained. "If you can distract them like they did to us, I can get a clear shot at that Cacnea and hit him with a fire move. If he's not down after that, you can quickly shift targets and finish him off."

    Cabot grimaced at the suggestion of distracting the other Pokémon on his own. All of them were Pokémon who knew moves that could hit him rather painfully… but at the same time, with just two Pokémon against three, it was hard to see how they had any hope of winning at all if they didn't break their foes' focus. The Rock-Type hastily nodded in agreement and planted his feet, turning his attention to the Mudkip.

    "Hey you! We're not giving up just yet!" Cabot exclaimed.

    The Cranidos lowered his head and charged towards the Mudkip, prompting the Mud Fish Pokémon to leap out of the way and spit up a stream of water to try and trip up her foe. The commotion quickly caught Niilo's attention, prompting him to join by flicking poisoned scales at Cabot's feet, the Fossil Pokémon darting wildly to and fro to avoid his opponents.

    "Gotcha!"

    Niilo and Chalco looked up from their attacks, just in time to see Berecien wreathing himself in flames, halfway into a sprinting charge that barreled facefirst into their Cacnea teammate with a loud thud.

    "Gack!"

    The cactus flew back from the Ponyta's blow, coming to a dazed, tumbling stop on the ground. After his bearings started to return to him, the Grass-Type hastily rolled over, stumbling to his feet in a hurried retreat as Berecien called back to his teammate.

    "Cabot, now!"

    The Cacnea looked back and went wide-eyed as he watched the Cranidos lunge at him. The Grass-Type ran along, only for the dinosaur to pick up more speed in pursuit and strike him in the back. The blow sent the cactus pinwheeling, flopping head over heels until he came to a rest on his face, twitching and groaning incoherently.

    "Ah, we got him!" Cabot cheered.

    For a fleeting moment as he changed directions underfoot, the little dinosaur brimmed with excitement. The scent of victory within their grasp hung in the air, driving him and his partner on as they tracked their foes' movements.

    "Let's finish this!" Berecien said.

    "Tch, I wouldn't get so confident if I were you," Niilo huffed.

    The Ponyta charged ahead, his gallops coming faster from the lingering effects of his prior Flame Charge as he rushed towards the Sandshrew. Berecien closed in, flames sprouting along his hide as he sprinted towards his Ground-Type foe, only for a plume of dirt to suddenly erupt as Niilo slipped into the ground with a flurry of digging claws, sending the Ponyta skidding to a stop with a startled whinny.

    "H-Hey what the-?!"

    "Oi, Ponyta! Have a drink!" a gurgling voice jeered. Before Berecien could look up, he was cut off by a torrent of water striking his face, sending the Ponyta stumbling back and faceplanting limply to the ground, much to Cabot's horror.

    "Berecien!"

    The Rock-Type froze for a stunned moment, before a Water Gun came at him and prompted him to roll out of the way. The Cranidos quickly realized that his path to victory was quickly closing, his best chance of winning the battle for Berecien's sake at this point would be to put his Mudkip foe down for the count. Cabot charged ahead, weaving back and forth in a zig-zag pattern around the Mudkip's watery jets, his course bringing him within lunging, where he lowered his head, and stormed forward…

    "Surprise!"

    "H-Huh?!"

    Before Cabot could react, the ground around him erupted and he felt a jabbing tackle to his gut, sending him flying up before tumbling back to earth with a thud. The dinosaur panted out of exhaustion, groping against the ground as he struggled to get back up. Halfway into getting back onto his feet, the Rock-Type felt his arms and legs go numb, and the world faded to white as he flopped to the ground in front of the entire assembly of cadets.

    "And stop!" Trixie shouted. "Looks like the Dune Devils win."

    The Granbull's announcement drew a mixed reaction from the gathered Pokémon, as they tried to parse the result. A few grimaced out of sympathy for Cabot and Berecien's resounding defeat, while others with primarily khaki garb reveled in Niilo's victory. On the whole, disappointed murmurs filtered around the match, either with the outcome, or as in the case of Niilo's fellow Dune Devils, with a self-satisfied dismissiveness over the lack of challenge in the battle.

    "Heh, knew we'd win," Niilo said smugly as he gave a high five to his Mudkip teammate.

    The group's instructor groaned as she put a paw against her face and shook her head, muttering to herself about what the defeat of the Cranidos and his teammates portended for her current batch of cadets.

    "Looks like I'm gonna have a lot of work on my paws these next few weeks," the Granbull grumbled under her breath.

    Cabot and Berecien groaned from their places on the ground, weakly craning their heads up as soft footsteps neared. The pair glanced up to see that it was none other than Niilo, a smug grin plastered over the Sandshrew's face.

    "You know for someone who claimed he was going to 'trample me into the dirt', you sure seem to have eaten a lot of it yourself," the Sandshrew sneered.

    "Grr… you lucked out and you know it!" Berecien growled.

    "Someone's a glutton for punishment," the pangolin scoffed. "Care to make it a best out of three then?"

    "Uh, Berecien…" Cabot began. "I really think we should-"

    "Yes."

    Niilo paused a moment before folding his arms and giving a disbelieving scoff back. He hadn't expected the dandy and his buddy to have it in them to ask for another beatdown… but who was he to deny a 'mon his wishes?

    "Alright then, prinsessa," the Sandshrew said. "You've got yourself a rematch."

    The pangolin harrumphed and turned around to take his leave, starting to pace off before stopping in his tracks. The Ground-Type looked over his shoulder with a smirking sneer, opting to rub salt into his rivals' wounds one last time.

    "By the way, you might want to get up and let the next teams take the field," Niilo snickered.

    Berecien and Cabot blinked and struggled to get onto their feet… only for the Ponyta promptly flop back down as sharp jolts of pain wracked his body. Cabot blinked as the horse laid there for a moment, panting heavily from his injuries and loss of energy. After a groaning pause, the Fire-Type grudgingly craned his head up to raise a coughing call for aid.

    "Nrgh… medic!"

    __________________________________________________

    The events after Cabot and his teammates' defeat went by in a blur for the Rock-Type and his peers. The next most coherent memory the dinosaur remembered having was laying down on a straw bed and glancing up to see a ball of a vaguely pinkish aura coming from an Audino's paws. The Cranidos sat up, and quickly found the Normal-Type pawing at his wounds, dabbing it with the juices of an Oran Berry. The Fossil Pokémon winced, groaning weakly and groggily pawing at his shoulder and arm where the Audino shooed his claws away to apply a few bandages. Cabot sighed and sniffed the air, his nostrils catching a sweet smell in the air that prompted him to look over just in time to see a bandaged Berecien being showered in a loose mist of green powder by a Vivillon and breathing in deep.

    "Now just take it easy for a little and you should be able to continue your training tomorrow morning," the Audino instructed.

    "Alright, will do," the Cranidos responded.

    The Audino and Vivillon took their leave, leaving the patch of the stable zone and letting their patients sink into their straw bedding. As the edge of the chamber quieted down, Berecien grumbled, turning his attention to his Cranidos partner with a disgusted sigh.

    "Bah, if only I'd noticed that Mudkip sooner," the Ponyta complained.

    "Maybe we shouldn't worry too much about it," Cabot proposed.

    "Hm?" the Fire-Type asked. "What do you mean?"

    "It's just that because of this bet it seems like we're making more enemies than friends," the little dinosaur muttered. "Do we really wanna do that for all of Basic Training?"

    The Ponyta snorted before giving a bat of his tail and flattening his ears. How on earth was it their fault those blasted sellclaws decided to impugn their honor not even a day into Basic Training?

    "Well, you already tried making friends with them, but-"

    "Hey Melli, you okay?"

    Berecien and Cabot craned their heads at the sound of a worried voice and scuttling footsteps, turning to see a Salandit darting over to a bed with their Combee teammate from earlier resting on it. The pair watched as the Poison-Type prodded uneasily at the injured bee, who shifted and batted her wings feebly from her bed.

    "Yeah, we're fine…" the Bug-Type weakly replied. The Combee, sensing her companion's palpable worry, tried to flutter up to try and reassure him, only to fall out of the sky after a short hop, much to the Salandit's visible skepticism. From his bed, Cabot peered over at his Ponyta companion, tugging at his shoulder for attention.

    "Berecien…" he murmured. "We didn't talk to that Combee earlier, did we?"

    "No…? Why do you ask?" the horse answered, which prompted Cabot to pull himself upright and shuffle to his feet.

    "Maybe that's something we should fix."

    The Rock-Type began to pace to the Combee's bed, his steps coming falteringly and uneven as he walked over. All the while, the Cranidos tried and fumbled around with greetings in his head, until finally latching on the idea of greeting with a compliment.

    "Er… hey. Thanks for helping us with the battle," Cabot said.

    The Combee and Salandit blinked out of surprise before looking up at the Cranidos. A moment of silent surprise passed between the two and the newfound stranger, before the Combee gave a sharp buzz along with a cheery, if tired reply.

    "Well, we were happy to help," she answered.

    "Who are you two anyways?" the Salandit asked. "I saw that you had a thing with those mercenaries earlier."

    "I'm Cabot, and this is Berecien," the Cranidos responded as he pointed at the Ponyta who trotted over.

    "Pleased to meet you."

    The Salandit and Combee traded glances with one another, before turning their attention back to Cabot and Berecien. The lizard moved his neck flaps a little, and cleared his throat to speak up.

    "Hm, well I'm Tegu and this is Melli here," the Poison-Type explained.

    "Hi!" the Combee cheered.

    "We both signed up together after we got… tired of our previous job," the Salandit continued. "We were hoping our friends would've enlisted with us, but they got cold feet. So we've been off on our own for the most part."

    "Ah, I know the feeling," Cabot replied. "I worked at a guild before signing up for the navy since I wanted something more adventurous. Berecien and I… well, we haven't had much luck with friends here either."

    The Salandit shifted uneasily at the Cranidos' words. After a tense pause, the lizard eased up, keeping a wary eye on the Rock-Type all the while.

    "Uh huh…" the Poison-Type said. "So why'd you guys bother challenging those mercenaries again anyway?"

    "Hmph, we're not just letting those ruffians dishonor us because they got a lucky break," Berecien scoffed.

    "Eh?" Tegu asked. "Don't see why you'd set yourself up for more headaches, but good luck with it, I guess."

    "But shouldn't we help them Tegu?"

    The Salandit turned to his Combee partner and blinked out of surprise. As the Bug-Type's request sank in, a skeptical frown spread over the lizard's face.

    "Huh? What do you mean, Melli?" the Poison-Type questioned. "We weren't the ones who challenged those desert bumpkins to a contest."

    "But didn't you say we should try to fit in now with our new crew?" the Combee countered. "Isn't working as a team part of that?"

    "But there's more to the crew than just these two Pokémon-"

    "Please?"

    Melli did her best to flit closer to her Salandit partner, and looked at him with pleading eyes from all three of her faces. The lizard blinked, fidgeting uncomfortably a moment before eventually giving a reluctant sigh. It was always hard for him to say 'no' to her when she gave him that look…

    "Alright, alright… I guess those mercenaries are a smug bunch anyway," Tegu sighed. "Wiping those stupid grins off their faces wouldn't hurt…"

    "I think we would've managed fine, but I can't say more allies would disadvantage us…" Berecien murmured.

    "Yeah, we're going to need all the help we can get," Cabot added as he scratched himself behind his head.

    "Alright, next groups get onto your field!"

    Tegu looked over his shoulder at the sound of Trixie's shout, seeing the scowling Granbull stomping her foot impatiently as Pokémon began to make their way onto the fields. The Poison-Type turned back to Cabot and Berecien with a sigh, giving an annoyed shake of his head.

    "Alright, think that's my cue to fight," the Salandit said. "I'm sure we'll see you two again later."

    "Good luck!" Cabot exclaimed.

    The lizard scuttled off, his Combee partner doing her best to follow behind him despite her injuries. After the two slipped off, Berecien turned towards Cabot, folding his ears back with a snort.

    "… Let's start training as soon as we're out of bed rest," the Ponyta proposed. "We don't want to be letting our new partners down."

    Cabot put a claw to his mouth as he mulled Berecien's suggestion over. Going back to take on the Dune Devils would not be easy… but it always felt bad to have to quit on something halfway through, and they did just get two partners that would help them compete on equal footing. Cabot shook his head before giving a reluctant nod back to the Fire-Type, their odds of winning now were as good as they could hope for, so it only made sense to try and give them as much of an edge as possible by training.

    "Right… let's do our best."

    __________________________________________________

    After Cabot and Berecien were released from treatment at the rear of the stable zone, they drifted along with the rest of Blue Group to the mess hall for dinner. Once they finished their meals, they had to go to the docks where a Bibarel gave primers in front of a blackboard about sailing ships, giving terminology that was apparently intended for a later session with a mock ship. The lesson dragged on into the night, until the Pokémon of Blue Group trudged into a barracks where a long hall filled with hay piles and hammocks had been set aside. There, the group flopped down for the night, eager for rest after such a tiring day… only for the morning to come back sooner than expected with the rays of dawn and the sound of Trixie's harsh barking jolting them awake.

    One hasty breakfast and shambling trek back into the dungeon later, Cabot and his group found themselves assigned to a relay race using the Mystery Dungeon as an obstacle course. In it, runners were to go from one point to the other by any means necessary, evidently one of the day's primary training activities. A huge chunk of the morning flew by in a confusion of trying to hunt down spots to wait within the maze of the Mystery Dungeon… followed by the common but deeply disliked part of any tour of service within the Royal Navy…

    "Bah… sitting and waiting here in this cave sure is an exciting part of the training…"

    Namely idling, with Tegu giving an irritated bat of his tail as he rested in a room with rugs and torches spread out. The room was barren beyond Tegu, Cabot, and a small handful of other cadets who busied themselves with cards, the lot waiting on their relay partners to show up and hand off batons. All the while, Cabot patted the back of his head awkwardly, hoping to try and lift the Salandit's mood a bit.

    "But it's not that bad, and the Mystery Dungeon should be a pretty fun place to navigate," Cabot offered.

    "Or the Empire is just too low on funds to build a proper obstacle course themselves…" the Salandit grumbled. "Besides, couldn't they at least have given us something to do while we waited on our partners?"

    "Oh? But rest is good too, isn't it?" the Cranidos asked. "I mean, it's not like you can just go through life constantly on the offensive, headbutting everything all the time."

    Tegu blinked and tilted his head in confusion, settling into an uneasy stance. Cabot might be a Cranidos, but he certainly didn't seem like the rough and tumble type, so what did he mean by…?

    "… 'Headbutting everything all the time'?" the lizard wondered. "But this is a relay race? What brings that on?"

    "Oh. Er… sorry, part of me still thinks I'm back at home," Cabot sheepishly admitted.

    "What sort of home would that be if someone's constantly headbutting things?" Tegu questioned.

    "A Box Busting shop!" the little dinosaur exclaimed. "My parents own one."

    The Poison-Type's neck flaps waved out of reflexive surprise, prompting him to eye the Cranidos curiously.

    "Eh? You broke open boxes before joining the navy?" the Salandit said. "But I thought you said you worked at a guild!"

    "Er… well I was an apprentice at one, but I still had to help out with my parents' shop," the Rock-Type explained. "I wanted to see more than just crates and the local mystery dungeon, so that's why I joined the navy."

    "Uh-huh…"

    Cabot caught himself as he noticed that Tegu nodding along disinterestedly. The Cranidos thought to himself and figured that he must have said an awful lot about his own life already, and it did get a bit old for a 'mon to keep prattling on. Though that made him curious about something else.

    "So what did you do before you signed up?" the Fossil Pokémon asked.

    Tegu hesitated and shifted around uneasily, clearly reluctant to broach the topic. Cabot tilted his head, about to open his mouth to ask what was wrong, only for the Salandit to pre-empt him with an answer.

    "I used to be a pirate," the Salandit admitted.

    "Wha- wait, you're a pirate?!" Cabot cried out.

    "Former pirate," the lizard emphasized. "I'm not one anymore."

    Cabot blinked and jolted back out of surprise. Tegu, a pirate? But pirates were bullying thieves, and Tegu… well he did have a shifty air about him, but he seemed much friendlier than that. But, if he really was a pirate once, how did he get into the navy of all places?

    "Er… isn't that a bit of a jump job-wise?" the Fossil Pokémon murmured.

    "Oh no, not at all," Tegu insisted. "It may be the other side of the law, but there's a lot more in common between the two than you'd expect."

    "… What do you mean by that?" Cabot questioned.

    "You'll see soon enough," the Poison-Type said as a small smile formed on his muzzle.

    As soon as the words left the Salandit's mouth, the sound of hoofbeats clattered behind the two Pokémon. Cabot and Tegu whirled around, and much to the Poison-Type's dismay, saw none other than Berecien running up with a baton in his mouth with no sign of Melli to be seen.

    "Bah, not how I would have liked to start my part of the race," the lizard grumbled. Much to Tegu's dismay, Berecien closed the distance in a flash and over-vigorously passed his baton off to Cabot's claws.

    "Cabot, take the baton!" the horse shouted.

    "Right! I'm going!" the Cranidos nodded.

    At once, Cabot tightened his claws around the baton and turned to face the exit. Before anyone could say anything, the Rock-Type took off with a running start through the dungeon, the dinosaur reaching the end of a corridor when the faint sound of a buzz reached his ears. Cabot blinked and looked back, seeing that the buzz was from none other than Melli flying to the checkpoint he had just run from and passing her baton to Tegu, prompting the Cranidos to lower his head and charge on.

    "I have to find the stairs quick," Cabot murmured to himself.

    As the Fossil Pokémon ran ahead, he passed a mostly barren room, with the visible exception of a glassy orb glowing flecks of greenish light in the corner of the chamber. Cabot started to instinctively make his way for the Luminous Orb, before shaking his head and moving on. He was in a race against time, so it wouldn't do any good stopping to pick up everything like in a normal trip through a Mystery Dungeon… The Rock-Type hurried along, his running eventually taking him to an intersection that forked between a path going to the left and and another to the right.

    "Hm, which way should I-?"

    "Oi, Cabot! Heads up!"

    The Cranidos whirled around just in time to see the Luminous Orb he spotted earlier leave Tegu's claws. The dinosaur flinched at the sound of glass shattering, his vision flooding with a blinding light that made him stumble backwards in a daze.

    "Ack! What are you doing?!" Rock-Type cried out. "You can't just throw an orb at me!"

    "I sure can!" the Salandit corrected. "The instructor said we could use anything in our environment, remember?"

    Cabot paused at the lizard's retort as he rubbed at his blinded eyes. Now that he thought about it, Trixie did say they were supposed to run the relay by 'any means necessary'… But he didn't think that that extended to openly sabotaging each other with the Mystery Dungeon's items on the way!

    "See you at the finish line, Slowpoke!" Tegu jeered.

    Cabot looked up just in time to see the faint outline of a Salandit's body scuttle ahead, the lizard craning his head down to sniff at the ground before darting off for the right. Eventually, the Poison-Type's body faded, leaving Cabot to lurch around as his vision remained filled with white and his surroundings muddied and indistinct.

    "Ugh…"

    The Cranidos blinked and kept rubbing his eyes as his surroundings and the corridor returned to its normal mountainous appearance. The Rock-Type began to turn right, only to stop and pause after noticing a pile of rocks in a rough line in the passage behind him.

    The Fossil Pokémon moved a claw thoughtfully to his chin, realizing that rocks generally didn't scatter like this unless there was some place for them to fall from. In the floors of a Mystery Dungeon, those places to fall from usually came from some sort of connection leading higher above the floor… so odds were that his way out had to be closer to the left than the right. The little dinosaur turned in his tracks and ran along, following the winding corridor until…

    "Aha!"

    He looked up and saw a stony set of stairs going up to the next level. The dinosaur charged ahead and looked around his surroundings and see that he'd come to a room full of small streams. He picked one going to the left and started to follow it, winding through corridors and chambers until…

    "Huh?"

    He glanced off to the right, where he noticed a huge waterfall coming down into a large pool of water. The Cranidos blinked a moment, before pacing forward and cautiously kicking a pebble into the pool's water.

    "I didn't know that there were waterfalls in this dungeon," the Fossil Pokémon muttered.

    Cabot looked and saw that in the pool was a narrow path of ankle-deep water that coiled over to the waterfall. The Cranidos began making his way over cautiously, only to see an indigo-scarved Palpitoad suddenly pop out from behind the waterfall and soak in the cooling cascade before going back in.

    "Aha! That's it!"

    Why, this had to be the next spot for the relay race and that was the Pokémon he was supposed to hand his baton off to! The Fossil Pokémon lowered his head and charged up to the waterfall, noticing a small path going behind it to a darkened chamber. Cabot hurried ahead, coming across a small alcove where some rugs had been spread out and a small group of cadets chattered among themselves, looking up to see their new interloper. The still-dripping Palpitoad in the group hopped up to the Cranidos with an irritated ribbit.

    "About time you showed up," the Water-Type huffed. "I almost fell asleep waiting on you!"

    Cabot hastily held out the baton, prompting the Palpitoad to launch his tongue out and snatch up the baton, hopping out through the waterfall at the end just as Tegu came in and scuttled in from the detouring path. The Salandit gave a hiss, flicking some water off his feet in disgust, before looking over at the group of cadets and going wide-eyed out of shock.

    "H-Huh?!"

    The Poison-Type stood there dumbfounded, spluttering and struggling to figure out if he was seeing things. There in front of him was Cabot, who'd somehow beaten him here even after being hit by that Luminous Orb!

    "Oi, lizard! Hurry up and give me the baton!"

    Tegu looked over to see a Timburr impatiently batting at the ground with his wooden plank, prompting the still-incredulous Poison-Type to hastily hand over his baton. As the Timburr snatched it up and left, Tegu scuttled up to Cabot, clearing his throat impatiently for an explanation.

    "How'd you beat me here?!" the Salandit asked. "I threw an orb at you just the floor below!"

    "It's the rocks. I noticed that there was a pile of rocks neatly lined up on the path you didn't take," Cabot explained. "It only could have happened if they fell down from something, like for example stairs having opened up recently."

    The Salandit blinked out of stunned silence at Cabot's explanation. He'd seen those rocks too, but he hadn't thought anything of it at first. For a literal rock-head, he had to admit the Cranidos had a sharp mind.

    "That's… actually kinda clever. Thought for sure I had you beaten there for a sec," the Poison-Type admitted. "Guess you did learn some useful things bashing your head against things after all."

    "Well, I try," the little dinosaur said, proudly puffing out his chest.

    "Who knows, you might be able to give those mercs a run for their money after all!" Tegu exclaimed.

    Cabot blinked as a flustered grimace crept over his face. The Rock-Type pawed at the ground awkwardly, letting his gaze drift towards his toes.

    "Uh… I mean, I guess I might be able to…" the Cranidos murmured. "But I don't see how anything would turn out different."

    "You just need a solid strategy going in," the lizard insisted. "Melli and I sit together at the mess hall. Why don't you stop by during the next meal with your pal and we'll talk it through a bit."

    The little dinosaur looked up as a small smile spread on his face. He still had his doubts, but maybe alongside his friends… maybe he could win after all.

    "Heh, sure."

    __________________________________________________

    (Continued in the next post)
    Last edited by Virgil134; 12th February 2018 at 1:03 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    339

    Default

    After the end of the relay race, Cabot reunited with Berecien back at the training grounds, and the two discovered much to their pleasure that their team had managed to beat out Tegu's thanks to Cabot's leg of the race. True to their word, Tegu and Melli invited him and Berecien in the cafeteria during lunch, sharing a table the pair had made their own towards the back of the room. The four whiled away their break together chattering in between nibbles at the mess hall's Gummis and berry juice, the group finding themselves increasingly stuffed from their meal…

    Buuuuuuurp

    "Whelp, that certainly hit the spot," Tegu said satisfiedly. "Navy food ain't as bad as I thought."

    Berecien shot a sidelong glance at the Salandit, obviously unimpressed with his table manners… if they could be called that. Even Grumpig usually had more propriety than that! The fire horse gave a dismissive snort, before responding to the uncouth lizard.

    "Blegh. Just try to be more professional on the field," the Ponyta huffed. "I'd have thought that you'd have left habits like those behind after you enlisted in Her Majesty's navy."

    The Poison-Type gave a dismissive wave of his claw back at the Fire-Type, paying his scolding little heed. From the sly grin on his face, it almost seemed as if he'd taken the horse's complaints as a compliment.

    "Well, good thing I'm helping to break a few molds then," the lizard replied. "Don't wanna be too predictable after all."

    Berecien narrowed his eyes at Tegu's nonchalant answer, clearly less-than-enthused with the Salandit's attitude. Sensing the tension in the air, Cabot cleared his throat eager to try and shift the conversation into a less confrontational subject.

    "Well, it's not that big of a deal right? I mean, it's not like our table manners will really matter for our training," the Cranidos offered. "What do you guys think our next exercise will be anyway?"

    "Maybe we'll have a battle where one team has to push the other team off a ledge," Melli wondered. "Like on a ship!"

    "I take it you two have some experience with that given your old jobs?" Berecien asked. "I can see how you'd have plenty of opportunities to hone your skills with it being so rough and tumble."

    Tegu blinked and jolted upright at the Ponyta's comment, his expression and body language evidencing that he had been caught off guard. The Poison-Type looked around the room uneasily, before turning back to Berecien with a hushed voice.

    "Wait how would you-?"

    "Melli told me earlier," the fire horse explained.

    The Salandit gave his Combee partner a flustered look, who nodded back in affirmation.

    "We figured it wouldn't hurt," the Bug-Type admitted. Melli's explanation drew an uneasy flutter of the flaps on Tegu's neck, before the Salandit leaned in and replied in a whispered tone.

    "Well… it's true," Tegu began. "We have fought battles like that yeah."

    "What made you decide to quit that life and join the navy anyway?" the Ponyta questioned.

    "Well we didn't exactly plan on it…" the Salandit muttered. "Our crew got busted last summer."

    "And we got sentenced to Community Service," Melli added. "Which was… an experience we'd rather not repeat."

    "Tch, I'll say. After cleaning scum off the piers in Tidemill for almost a year with some friends of ours, we got the offer to enlist in the navy instead," the Poison-Type explained. "Certainly seemed like the better option, or at least to the two of us."

    "Hrm, I see," Berecien murmured, turning his head away. The Ponyta's reaction instantly made Tegu tense up defensively, the Poison-Type glaring back at his questioner perceived hostility.

    "Got a problem with it, horseface?" the Salandit growled.

    "… Hardly. In the navy, your background takes a back seat to how well you operate with your fellow cadets," Berecien said. "We might not be on the waves just yet, but assuming you're as earnest as you sound about reforming, I don't see a reason to deviate from that."

    "He did seem pretty understanding when we told him about it, Tegu," Melli insisted.

    "Yeah, you've been really helpful to us so far too!" Cabot exclaimed. "We're still looking forward to beating those mercenaries alongside you."

    Tegu blinked as he looked at them in surprise, still tensing his body up warily. Cabot seemed like a really nice Pokémon and sincere enough back in the relay race, so if Melli was certain that prissy Ponyta would also be understanding… surely things would work out.

    "Well alright then, maybe I jumped the gun a little," the lizard sighed as his posture became more relaxed. "Our next training session should be starting in ten minutes anyways, so we should prepare ourselves."

    "Right!" Cabot nodded.

    The four collected their plates and got up to drop them off to be washed, making their way past various groups of cadets eating. The quartet carried on, only to suddenly bump into a set of bodies coming from the side, drawing collective yelps as both sides hastily fought to keep their balance.

    "Hey! Watch-"

    Cabot's group looked to the side, and saw that the Pokémon they'd accidentally bumped into were none other than Niilo and his buddies from the Dune Devils. The four Khaki-scarved Pokémon blinked a moment, before giving fierce glares back at the group, with especial ire trained towards Cabot an Berecien.

    "Oh, it's you again," Niilo huffed. "Hope you're all ready to lose your little best of three. We're facing each other again next session."

    "Hmrph, that's wishful thinking if I've ever heard it," Berecien harrumphed. "Lightning doesn't strike twice."

    "Yeah, we're gonna win!" Cabot cried. "You won't catch us off guard this time!"

    "Good luck with that!" the Cacnea jeered. "It'll be fun wiping the floor with you again."

    "Yeah, after that we can move onto some real battles!" the Mudkip exclaimed.

    "Tch. Shame this isn't a real battle," the Numel said. "We'd take your stuff to compensate us for the time you've been wasting on this stupid bet of yours."

    Cabot and his friends jolted back at the Numel's comments, the little Cranidos appearing particularly startled by the camel's comment. Did- Did she just say they casually robbed Pokémon they beat up?!

    "Wait, what?!"

    "Hrmph, I see that it doesn't even take a full week for your group to turn to open theft," Berecien scoffed.

    "Grr… talk is cheap, loser," Tegu growled. "The only thing that matters is the result in the ring."

    "Well hey, I don't just talk!" Niilo protested. "I'm no ordinary Sandshrew you see, and if you hadn't noticed it last match, you certainly will soon."

    Cabot's eyes widened out of startled surprise at the Sandshrew's boasting, finding himself caught off guard yet again. They already had such a tough time fighting Niilo during their first battle, and now there was something special that made him even stronger?!

    "Eh?!" the Cranidos cried. "What are you talking about?"

    "Why, I'm this close to evolving to a Sandslash!" the pangolin insisted, pinching the air with his claws. "I'm much stronger than most other Sandshrew you'd run into."

    A disbelieving silence hang in the air at Niilo's words. The quiet lingered a moment, before Cabot and his companions shot back unamused stares. What were the odds that the Sandshrew really had anything like that going on?

    "Yeah, right…" Tegu said as he rolled his eyes.

    "Well believe what you want, you'll still lose either way!" Niilo jeered. "See you in a bit!"

    The Dune Devils turned and left, trading laughter with one another over their foes' overconfidence. All the while, Tegu glowered after the group as they departed, giving an irritated whip of his tail.

    "Hrmph! Like evolving would really make that much of a difference for him!" the lizard huffed.

    "Oh?" Melli asked. "But it makes you bigger and stronger and-"

    "Yeah, yeah, whatever," the Salandit grumbled. "We're not talking about it."

    "You sure it's not just because you can't evol-"

    "Not. Talking. About. It."

    Cabot and Berecien shifted around and laughed awkwardly as Tegu glared back in annoyance at the two. Sensing that a change of topic was long overdue, Cabot cleared his throat and attempted to divert the conversation back to their training.

    "Well… the next session is starting soon and we probably don't wanna anger the instructor," the Rock-Type began. "Maybe we should go back into the Mystery Dungeon ourselves?"

    "Sounds like a plan to me," Tegu nodded.

    At that, the Salandit shuffled off ahead, prompting the others at the table to follow, depositing their plates at the counter. The four carried on out of the mess hall, making their way for the Mystery Dungeon. All the while, Cabot's mind was preoccupied by thoughts about Tegu and Melli. He certainly hadn't expected them to have such checkered pasts, but in spite of it, they seemed to be nice enough Pokémon…

    Perhaps that was true the time he'd spent in the navy as a whole so far. A lot of things in Basic Training had caught him off guard: the rough start, the fierce rivalry from the first day of training… And yet, in spite of it all, with friends like these it seemed to all be worth it.

    __________________________________________________

    "Ma'am? Why are we playing games instead of training?"

    Back in Blue Group's training grounds, a Togetic's question hung in the air as Cabot and Berecien found themselves staring down Niilo along with his Numel teammate. At the Cranidos' end was the misshapen, ruddy form of a Bisharp's Substitute. At the other, was a purple Nidoking doll. The same arrangement was repeated across a handful of other battlefields, including one where Melli and Tegu stared down Orcutt and Chalco. Meanwhile, a large body of the Blue Group's cadets watched bewildered from the sidelines, waiting intently on Trixie for an explanation.

    "Because this is helping you test your ability to defend and attack vulnerable objects even when guarded," the bulldog explained.

    "Eh? But Substitute Battling is the sort of game that Pokémon in school play!" Cabot exclaimed.

    "Yes, and as I mentioned it also teaches some of the skills you're gonna need," the Granbull scowled. "With a Substitute Battle the team whose Substitute gets destroyed first loses. In the navy, there will be situations where you will need to operate under comparable constraints."

    Melli flitted her wings and shot the instructor a curious glance from the sidelines. Could Substitute Battling really be that useful to learn for the navy?

    "Oh? How so?" the Combee asked. "Will we be playing with Substitutes aboard navy ships?"

    "No. You'll be defending those ships from being sunk right under you from pirates and the Company," the Fairy-Type growled. "The last time I checked, ship sails are not very resilient to Flamethrowers."

    "Oh, we get it then!" the Bug-Type cheered.

    Trixie rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh, the Granbull pinching her brow before waving Melli away with a paw.

    "Yeah, yeah, just get back to your own fight."

    "Pah, that should be no problem for us at least," Niilo scoffed. "Come on, let's get this fight started!"

    "Very well," Trixie said. "You're all ready?"

    The Granbull's question was met with eager nods from all four Pokémon on the battlefield, each of them itching to kick off their battle. Content with the response, the Fairy-Type raised her paw into the air, and after a brief moment's pause, brought it down with forceful vigor.

    "Then go!"

    Cabot lunged ahead, hearing a fierce whinny from behind as Berecien reared up before bringing his front hooves down. The fire horse tore along the ground for his opponents, calling out to his teammate as he slipped past him.

    "Just stay there and guard the Substitute!" the Ponyta cried. "I'll go after theirs!"

    As the horse kept on running, he looked up just in time to see Niilo curled up into a tight ball and barreling towards him. The Fire-Type hastily leapt out of the way, leaving the pangolin to come to a stop in front of Cabot. The Cranidos hastily rushed forward and knocked the Ground-Type back with a Headbutt, sprawling him out on the ground. Niilo quickly righted himself, hopping back up to his feet, only for his eyes to drift off behind Cabot, and for a devious smile to spread over his face.

    "Hey thanks for the open angle, rookie!" the Sandshrew jeered. "Say goodbye to your Substitute!"

    Niilo curled up as a violet liquid began to dribble between his scales in scattered patches along his back, the Sandshrew spinning forward in place to shake the poisoned scales off as poisonous flechettes. As he flicked them forward, one of the poison-coated scales shot straight for the unattended Bisharp doll, only for Cabot to catch it with his rock-hard head, sending it bouncing off into the dirt. The Sandshrew blinked, prompting Cabot to charge on towards the Ground-Type with his head lowered once again, only for the Sandshrew to abruptly burrow below the surface.

    "Ack!"

    Cabot coughed at the dirt plume that had been kicked up, peering as the earth settled to reveal that Niilo had burrowed into the ground. The Rock-Type looked around wildly, trying to determine where the slippery Sandshrew had gone off to only to notice a trail of disturbed dirt moving in the ground, headed straight for his team's mock Bisharp.

    "Oh no! The Substitute!"

    The Cranidos ran ahead in a blind panic for the Substitute, watching the dirt trail come nearer and nearer. As he reached the Bisharp doll, he noticed Niilo was almost upon it, prompting him to leap and yank the doll out of the way from its place on the battlefield as a dirt plume erupted behind him. The Cranidos rolled along the ground, holding the Substitute in his claws for dear life as he came to a tumbling stop, discovering that much to his relief the Substitute had merely been dirtied a bit.

    "Phew…"

    Cabot began to pick himself up when he heard a sharp shout; the Rock-Type looked up in alarm and saw Niilo charging him. The Fossil Pokémon whirled and made a mad dash as the Sandshrew charged along, in the process noticing hearing agitated shouts from Niilo's Numel teammate down the field. A quick glance over revealed the reason, there in front of her was none other than Berecien, trying to charge past the beleaguered camel to get at the Nidoking substitute she was defending!

    "Hey Niilo!" Cabot exclaimed. "Maybe you should look back at your own Substitute!"

    The Sandshrew looked over to his own Substitute, and saw that much to his alarm, the Ponyta had spat up a few embers at the Nidoking doll. Fortunately for him, the doll didn't break just yet, and his Numel teammate began to drive the Ponyta away with a hail of rocks drawn from out of the ground. In spite of the camel's Rock Slide, before she knew it the horse was already trying to swing back by simply darting around her to try and get at the substitute again from the other side

    "Molina, I'm falling ba- Argh!"

    Niilo yelped and was sent sprawling once again by a Headbutt from Cabot. The pangolin balled up and righted himself in a daze, just in time to see Berecien swoop down upon his team's Substitute.

    Much to his and Molina's alarm, the Ponyta craned his neck down and bit into the Substitute's head, yanking it up and taking off with it still in his mouth. As Berecien began to charge ahead, Molina made a failing attempt to keep pace with the fleet-footed horse, prompting the camel spit up some bursts of flames in frustration at his hooves without much effect.

    "Grr, I've had it with you, hevonen!" the Numel snarled. "Take this!"

    The camel stomped down on the ground, creating a tremor that sent a rumbling wave of dirt and stones along the ground. At the sound of the incoming Magnitude, Berecien lowered his head and charged forwards, flinging the Substitute backwards…

    Blat!

    … directly into the shockwave of disturbed earth and stone, shredding the Nidoking doll and causing it to begin to melt into purple mist.

    "We did it! We did it!" Cabot cheered.

    He and Berecien ran up to each other, trading pats between their forelimbs and reveling in their hard-won victory. In the background, Niilo and Molina glowered and sulked away, the pair's demeanor catching Berecien's eye as the Fire-Type took visible relish in their opponents' deflated enthusiasm.

    "That should teach them," the Ponyta harrumphed.

    "Hey!"

    Berecien and Cabot turned around where they saw Melli and Tegu quickly making their way over. The pair were brimming with enthusiasm, both visibly pleased to see their new friends in such high spirits.

    "Good job out there!" the Salandit exclaimed. "You almost did as good as we did!"

    "We popped their Substitute right before you guys did," the Combee explained.

    "Good, now let's remind those mercenaries who won," Berecien said.

    Cabot, Melli, and Tegu watched as Berecien trotted off before following after, the group making their way over to Niilo and Molina as the pair hovered among their normal cohort of khaki-scarved companions. The Ponyta carried over with his head held high and the muzzle of his long face curved into a visibly smug grin on the way over, soaking up the visible annoyance the Sandshrew and his companions had with his demeanor.

    "Hey Sandshrew, it looks like you lost after all," Berecien snorted. "That's two Substitute Battles you and your fellow chuligani have been defeated in. Looks like that best of three is done."

    "As if!" Niilo snapped. "I made that bet with you, not that lizard and that bug!"

    Melli and Tegu jolted up and glared back at the Sandshrew's retort, only for the Ground-Type to bid their annoyance no heed. The pangolin growled, visibly irritated from his defeat, before crossing his arms and scowling back at the accosting group.

    "Besides, unlike last time, this fight was clearly a fluke," the pangolin harrumphed.

    "But we beat you totally fair and square!" Cabot cried.

    "Yeah right," Niilo's Numel teammate scoffed. "Your friend only won thanks to a dirty trick!"

    "Hmph, guess we'll just have to settle this tomorrow then," Berecien huffed.

    "That's right," Niilo snarled. "Hope you're looking forward to losing, cinders."

    The Sandshrew whistled and bade his buddies to follow, prompting a few jeers to come out towards Berecien and his companions as the khaki-scarved Pokémon left. As the training grounds quieted down, the Ponyta watched as the other Pokémon in their wave of training teams began to file over towards a waiting Vivillon and Audino. The Fire-Type heard Trixie calling up the next batch of cadets for their own Substitute Battles, prompting him to turn his own attention towards the medic duo.

    "First things first, we should get a good healing," Berecien proposed. "Every day is its own battle."

    Cabot answered back with a nod as he shuffled off for the line of recruits in front of the medics along with his teammates. It was nice to still be in the running, and to finally get a victory over Niilo and his buddies after how much of an attitude he'd had since the last battle, but there was still one last match that had to be settled…

    The young dinosaur looked down and pawed at a sore patch of scales on his flank. Their training must've thrown them around a bit harder than he thought. Perhaps for now, it was best to just hang back and wait on worrying about coming out on top with Niilo again. At least until after he had a chance to be patched up again.

    __________________________________________________

    The Substitute Battles came and went before the Pokémon of the Blue Group drifted one by one back out of the Mystery Dungeon for dinner at the mess hall, followed by their ship training for the day. Much to their surprise, the cadets discovered that their Bibarel sailing instructor had prepared two 'mock ships' overnight. For Cabot and his companions, 'mock' seemed to be selling them awfully short, as the ships were retired old sloops that for all their age still floated properly and carried a full set of sails…

    "Bah, why do I have to take part in this? I have hooves!"

    And much to Berecien's loud, complaining displeasure, proved to be every bit as burdensome to hoist as a real ship's. The Fire-Type pulled at the rope with his mouth, his legs and rump showing a few marks from times when he'd lost his footing and pratfallen. Meanwhile, Cabot tugged from ahead with his claw, only for the sail to still be at half-mast despite his and the Ponyta's best efforts.

    "They said that it was something that we all had to learn as part of training," Cabot murmured. "Maybe we're just doing something wrong?"

    The sound of a shout reached the pair's ears, prompting them to turn to the mast behind them to see that Niilo and his companions had made much more progress on hoisting their sail. There, the two watched as Niilo's Mudkip teammate went back and forth with the rigging in her mouth, hopping up onto the railing and back down onto the deck to pull the sail up in large jumps. Cabot and Berecien's jaws dropped, Orcutt taking obvious relish in their stunned silence.

    "Hah!" the Cacnea jeered. "Hurry it up, buttercup-!"

    "Hey!"

    The mercenaries collectively flinched as a shout rang out and the sound of stomping footsteps pounded against the mock ship's deck. Cabot and Berecien looked over and found the culprit was none other than the Bibarel serving as instructor for the lesson, the water rodent making a livid beeline directly for Chalco as she grimaced from her spot on the railing.

    "Do you want to fall into the sea after graduating?!" the Bibarel shouted. "Get off that railing!"

    "… But I have gills," the Mudkip muttered.

    "Now, Mudkip!" the beaver bellowed.

    The Mud Fish Pokémon hastily jumped off, giving a flustered look. The Bibarel shook his head before storming along, prompting Niilo to try and lighten the mood with some inaudible comment that seemed to put chuckles on the faces of his teammates.

    "Hmph, what a reckless bunch," Berecien scoffed.

    "Well… at least we learned something from it," Cabot offered.

    The Cranidos looked over and spotted a small unattended box, setting the rope down to move the crate over. The little dinosaur hopped onto the box and pulled the rope, jumping down to help tug it up with extra force. Berecien's eyes lit up after watching the sail lurch up, prompting him their fellow sail-tuggers to keep pulling, some others going to get objects of their own to hop off of, which tugged the sail along until it reached the top and was tied down, just in time for the Bibarel instructor's voice to reach their ears.

    "Alright everyone, that should be enough!" the Bibarel exclaimed. "Let's pick this up again tomorrow with an exercise covering turning and steering."

    The beaver's comments prompted the gathered cadets to set down their ropes and begin filing off the ship for the docks. As Cabot and Berecien made their way down the gangplank, the little dinosaur dusted himself off at the bottom, giving a playful wag of his tail as he turned to Berecien.

    "I think that went alright for a first session," the Cranidos said.

    "Eh, I still would have preferred a task I could actually do with my hooves," the Ponyta murmured.

    "Hey!"

    Cabot and Berecien whirled around, and saw Tegu and Melli behind them. The two made their way over to their teammates, the pair carrying along a surprisingly chipper air all the while.

    "So tomorrow's the big day, huh?" the Salandit asked. "You ready for it?"

    "Uh-huh," Cabot nodded. "I just wonder what we're gonna do this time."

    "I tried asking Trixie but she wouldn't tell," the lizard replied. "She said that learning how to deal with the unexpected is part of our training."

    "Maybe we'll have that battle where one team has to push the other team off a ledge after all!" Melli cheered.

    The Combee's cheery commentary prompted Tegu to narrow his eyes and give an unamused stare. Somehow this all seemed just a little too familiar…

    "Melli you already said that last time…"

    "But it might be different now!" the Combee insisted.

    "Well regardless, it will probably be some sort of battle," Berecien offered. "We've had at least one battle on each day so far, and it is important for Pokémon in the navy to be strong in battle."

    "Right. So whatever happens tomorrow, it's probably the battle that'll make or break your little bet," Tegu mulled.

    The Poison-Type was caught off guard by the sound of a bell tolling in the background, marking the start of a new hour in the evening. The Salandit and Combee paused and looked off in the distance, before turning their attention back to Cabot and Berecien.

    "We should get going, there were some errands we were asked to take care of before bed," Melli said. "Good luck with your preparations and see you on the field tomorrow?"

    "Right, you too," Cabot responded.

    Melli and Tegu shuffled off the pier, prompting the Cranidos and his Ponyta partner to go their own way back to the barracks. Cabot stretched his arms and yawned, his body aching dully after a long, exciting day… Hopefully a good night's rest would put those aches to bed, after all it wouldn't be any good to walk into battle in this shape. As stiff a battle as the showdown tomorrow was sure to be, with his friends' help surely they'd be able to pull it off. Who knew, perhaps it would even be enough to put this silly little spat with the Dune Devils aside, and give a chance to turn over a new leaf with them.

    But for now, there was a straw bed calling out with his name on it. Tomorrow's battles would have to wait for tonight's shuteye first.

    __________________________________________________

    The next day, the Pokémon of Blue Group trudged their way back to their training grounds, their path having gone on much longer that day thanks to the Mystery Dungeon shifting their stable zone a full eight floors higher than the day before. By the time the cadets made their way past the wooden gate, they looked ahead to see raised wooden platforms set up, drawing audible groans from the lot of them as they knew that it was portending another set of battles. The Granbull instructor rolled her eyes annoyedly at her charges' audible complaining, before clearing her throat to speak.

    "Alright, I want to get this over with as much as the rest of you, so we'll keep this short and to the point," Trixie harrumphed.

    The Fairy-Type impatiently tapped her foot as she sized up her group to make sure everyone was there, before continuing with her instructions.

    "Today we're gonna start off with a ring-out exercise," the Granbull began. "The rules are simple: you get pushed off this platform, you're out."

    "… A ring-out fight? Really?" a Pidgey asked. "Just when are we ever going to need to do that in the navy?"

    "When you're in a tight environment with raised ledges. Like the ships that most of you will be assigned to," the dog explained. "As such, we added a railing to the platform to simulate a ship."

    "Oh! We were right, we were right!" Melli cheered. The Combee's cheer was met by an unimpressed flick of Tegu's tail, the Poison-Type wondering what deigned the fates to have her eccentric guess pan out this time.

    "Eh, I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day," he muttered under his breath.

    "So… are we gonna fight in groups again?" a Ferroseed wondered.

    "Yes. It will be done in two groups of four," Trixie responded. "The first set will consist of…"

    The Granbull trailed off as she noticed the sound of laughter coming from the gathering, and looked over to discover that not everyone was paying attention to her. Amidst the khaki-scarved Pokémon of the group a few laughs and snickers swirled around at the sight of the Sandshrew doing a mocking impression of their instructor. The dog hardened her eyes into a glare, and decided that this insult was best not to leave unanswered.

    "You know what, perhaps we're moving a little too fast with this exercise," the Fairy-Type growled. "Why don't we start with an exhibition match so some can show the rest how to do it? Sandshrew!"

    Niilo looked up from his impression, his body frozen in place and his jaw hung open in surprise. The Numel, Cacnea, and Mudkip similarly grimaced at the surprise announcements, beginning to open their mouths to protest when they were abruptly shut down by a growling shout from their instructor.

    "Get over here with your buddies!" Trixie snapped. "You four are part of the first match."

    The mercenary quartet grudgingly shuffled over, doing their best to try and sweep their earlier mockery under the rug with forced smiles. The attempt failed to yield any appreciable effect as Trixie continued scowling all the while, before shaking her head in disapproval and turning to the other recruits.

    "So which of you cadets would like to show these sellclaws what you've learned so far?" the Granbull asked.

    "I would!" Berecien exclaimed.

    "Same here!" Cabot added.

    "Me too!" Melli cheered.

    "Yeah I'll join too," Tegu said.

    The instructor rolled her eyes at the cadets' over enthusiasm and muttered under her breath. Did she really need the first match of the session to be a score-settling between these two cliques? Even so, they did volunteer, and it would save her the trouble of picking out cadets from the crowd…

    "Hmph, I see someone is desperate for a rematch," the Granbull scoffed. "But fine. Get onto the platform."

    Cabot and his companions stepped forward, clambering onto the wooden platform where they took opposing sides to Niilo and his team. The two groups stared each other down, trading determined looks and scowls as Trixie came up and began to count down, bringing her arms down at the end with a forceful…

    "Go!"

    At the Granbull's shout, Cabot and Berecien led the charge for their team, dashing ahead towards their opponents. At the same time, Tegu and Melli supported their teammates from behind by shooting respectively a few purple globs and a cutting gust of wind up ahead to try and give their teammates cover. In spite of the bold opening, the khaki-scarved Pokémon were quick to respond, as the Mudkip and Cacnea charged forward… diagonally, quickly sweeping in to flank Cabot and Berecien from opposing sides.

    "Ack!"

    Before he could react, Cabot was cut off by a thorny arm striking him from behind, sending him flopping forward. The Cranidos hastily rolled out of the way as his Cacnea foe attempted to hit him again on the ground, looking up just in time to see Berecien get thrown off his feet by a Water Gun from their Mudkip opponent. The two hastily fell back, and much to their horror watched Niilo and Molina charge ahead, the Numel continuing on for Tegu and Melli as Niilo traded places with the Cacnea who rushed after his Numel teammate. From his vantage point, Cabot grimaced, realizing that in that one fell swoop, Niilo's team had managed to take the center of the platform and pushed them all to the front and back edges of it!

    "A-Ah! They got us cut off!" Cabot cried out.

    "I told you that last match was a fluke!" Niilo jeered.

    "Yeah! You guys are going down!" his Mudkip teammate added.

    "Grr, we'll see about that!" Berecien growled.

    The Ponyta rushed at the Mudkip, head and shoulders readied for a crushing tackle. As the horse charged ahead, the Mudkip tried to spit up a jet of water, only for the Fire-Type to weave out of the way and keep charging forward, his Cranidos teammate running in to assist.

    "Hang in there, Berecien!" Cabot cried. "I'll draw her fi- Agh!"

    The Fossil Pokémon's endeavors were quickly thwarted by a yellow, scaly ball zipping towards him, prompting him to leap and roll on the ground to dodge the incoming Rollout. As the Cranidos hastily picked himself up, Berecien had closed the gap with his foe, tensing his feet along the ground.

    "Yah!"

    The Ponyta raised his forehooves, attempting to bring them down onto the Mudkip with a forceful stomp, only for the Mud Fish Pokémon to jump back and perch on the railing. Berecien's feet impotently hit the wood of the platform with an audible clatter, much to the Water-Type's jeering bemusement.

    "Hah! Let's see you hit me from up here!" the Water-Type taunted.

    "That's not the only attack I- Argh!"

    Before Berecien got a chance to finish his retort, he yelped in pain as he got hit from the side by Niilo's Rollout. From her spot on the railing, Chalco readied a Water Gun in an attempt to finish off the horse, only to suddenly hear the sound of footsteps followed by a loud crash and the railing violently shaking underneath.

    "Wu- Aaaaaah!"

    The Mudkip toppled off the railing, looking up for a split second to see Cabot pull his head away from the railing before she struck a straw-padded mat with her rump and sprawled out. For a fleeting moment, Niilo and Berecien looked stunned over at the Cranidos' handiwork, only to be snapped back to attention by Trixie announcing the outcome.

    "And, you're out!" she shouted.

    Cabot paused out of surprise at how easy it had been to push Chalco out. He hadn't really put any thought into it; he'd just seen her on the railing and remembered the Bibarel instructor's scolding from the other day and here they were now with an early lead in the fight! Before Cabot could enjoy his accomplishment, he quickly darted ahead after feeling Niilo's Rollout brush by his tail, hearing an apprehensive whine from Tegu at the other end of the field.

    "A-aaaah…"

    The Salandit was teetering over the edge, holding onto the platform with a single claw for dear life and desperately trying to climb back up. Meanwhile, Molina seethed at the Poison-Type from a little further away, trying to brush some vile-looking purple liquid off her hide as her Cacnea teammate walked over to the dangling Poison-Type.

    "Time to say goodbye, lizard," the Cacnea sneered, as he raised his arm.

    "No!"

    The Grass-Type turned around, just in time to see Melli send a cutting gust of wind at him. The wind picked up Orcutt, and sent him flying back with a yelp over the railing, falling onto the mat below. As soon as the cactus hit the mat, Trixie gave a shout and pronounced the Cacnea out, prompting Melli to fly under the railing and push Tegu back up onto the platform.

    "Don't worry Tegu! I'll help-"

    "And you're out too, Combee!"

    Just as Tegu scuttled back up onto the platform, the Combee turned back towards Trixie and buzzed out of disbelief. Was the Granbull pulling some sort of prank on her?! Nobody had knocked her out of the ring!

    "Wha-?! But I-"

    "Was out of the platform's boundaries without making contact," the Granbull growled. "Now get over here."

    The Combee blinked and stared blankly, shifting her glance around to discover everyone was staring at her. After realizing that there would be no success contesting Trixie's ruling, Melli's faces sank into a moping pout, prompting her to give a deflated buzz before flitting away from the platform.

    "Aww… this is so unfair…" the Combee muttered as she flew off.

    Tegu stared awkwardly at the whole affair, before deciding to shake his head and focus on the ring-out for the time being. He shifted his attention back to his Numel opponent, who traded a mutual glare with him. The Salandit looked at his surroundings, keenly aware that Molina had backed him up against an edge. He'd be hard pressed to do anything about the Numel as long as she had more freedom of movement to dodge…

    The Salandit's neck folds suddenly jolted upright as a spark of inspiration flickered in his mind and a small smile appeared on his face. Numel weren't that good at turning in a run, so what if Molina helped make herself an easier target?

    "Hey camel, you're gonna come over here or are you too scared now?" the Salandit jeered.

    "Grr, you'll see!" the Numel snarled.

    Molina flew into a rage, the Numel lowering her head, and charging forward for the Salandit snorting embers. All the while, Tegu waited patiently, until the Numel leapt up, prompting him to disgorge a torrent of fiery blue light that struck the Numel with a pained shriek, leaving the camel to drift out of consciousness and her body to sail along in the air.

    "Ha! I can't believe you were dumb enough to fall for-!"

    The Salandit cut himself off and went wide eyed as he noticed Molina's unconscious body hit the platform and tumbled straight for him. The lizard hastily tried to leap out of the way, only for the Numel to roll into him and for the two to fall off the platform and onto the mat below, the Numel landing atop the unfortunate Poison-Type.

    "OW!"

    "Both of you are out!" Trixie yelled.

    Back on the platform, Niilo's demeanor had become tense, as the Sandshrew realized he was the last 'mon still standing from his team. Aware that he was fighting an uphill battle, the still-balled up Sandshrew rolled away from Cabot and Berecien, prompting the Ponyta to give chase and Cabot to lower his head and try to flank the Sandshrew with a headbutt.

    "I got him! I-"

    Much to the Cranidos' dismay, his attempts to flank Niilo were thwarted by the Sandshrew outrolling him, leaving the Fossil Pokémon headbutting the air. Glimpsing his chance to counterattack, the rolling pangolin quickly circled around and bounced towards Cabot.

    "Argh, Cabot watch out!" Berecien shouted.

    The Ponyta hastily shoved Cabot out of the way of Niilo's incoming Rollout, only to be struck by the Sandshrew's rolling attack and sent flying over the railing with a shriek. The Ponyta hit the mat with an audible yelp, just in time for Niilo to bounce off the railing and barrel straight for Cabot.

    "You're mine, rock-head!"

    The Sandshrew barreled forward, and seeing that he had nowhere to run, Cabot lowered his head and charged forward, dashing towards the oncoming pangolin with a Headbutt. The two struck each other and flew back. As Cabot stumbled back up to his feet, he looked across the platform to see that the Sandshrew's Rollout had been broken, the pangolin tottering up in a daze as he shook his head to try and regain his bearings.

    "Hah… hah… looks like it's just you and me, rookie," the Sandshrew jeered. "You ready to go down like the rest of your friends?"

    "No, I'm gonna win this!" Cabot cried.

    The Cranidos charged towards Niilo, prompting him to throw poisonous darts at the dinosaur's feet to try and slow his pace. Much to the pangolin's alarm, the Fossil Pokémon didn't slow at all and drew closer and closer. The Sandshrew went wide eyed and turned to run, expecting to feel the crushing blow of a Headbutt on his back, only to instead feel claws grabbing his tail and yanking him off the ground.

    "Hey, lemme- Aaaaaah!"

    Before Niilo knew it, the Rock-Type had thrown him into the air and over the platform's railing. The Ground-Type sailed through the air, falling with a flailing scream before hitting the mat headfirst with a loud thud.

    Cabot paused and panted as he saw the Sandshrew slowly getting up down below, before realizing that this meant…

    "The match is over!" Trixie shouted. "Looks like our own recruits win!"

    Cabot stood on the platform as cheers broke out in the audience, an increasingly wide smile breaking out over his face. The Rock-Type looked around, soaking in the attention as he noticed his teammates making their way back onto the platform and nearing him.

    "Cabot, we did it!" Berecien exclaimed.

    "Heh, looks like you actually won your best out of three after all," Tegu chuckled.

    "Yeah, you did great!" Melli cheered.

    As Cabot and his teammates indulged in their cheer and elation, the sound of groaning reached their ears. Behind them, Molina was being helped up from the ground, her teammates grudgingly looking up at their opponents. Relishing the mercenaries' obvious chagrin, Berecien's muzzle curled up into a smug grin, as he let out a taunting whinny.

    "So what was that again about getting what you pay for, Sandshrew?"

    "Yeah, with those skills, I think it's time you guys lower your hiring price!" Tegu jeered.

    The Dune Devils grumbled at the taunts, before sulkily slinking off away from the platform. All the while, Cabot watched after the group and much to his surprise, saw Niilo briefly stop and look back, before turning and continuing on. The Cranidos gave a curious tilt of his head at the whole episode, wondering if there was something more to it than the Sandshrew let on.

    "I wonder why Niilo looked back at me like that…" the Cranidos murmured.

    "He's probably just bitter he lost to you," Berecien harrumphed. "Let's not worry about it and just enjoy this victory."

    "Hm, I guess you're right," the Fossil Pokémon said. "Let's go celebrate!"

    "Hey! Enough dawdling already! There's other groups that need to start practice!"

    Cabot and his companions blinked, looking over to find Trixie scowling impatiently at them. The four sheepishly smiled back, before climbing down the platform and making their way for the edge of the assembly. All the while, the quartet traded cheerful chatter with each other, their spirits livened by their victory in their challenge with the Dune Devils and their minds turning towards what seemed to be a bright future working together as teammates.

    __________________________________________________

    "Cheers!"

    The clink of clay cups went up around a wooden block-table at the mess-hall, intermingling with the cafetaria's normal burble of activity at mealtimes under the hall's high wooden roof. From their spots about the table, Cabot and his companions pulled their cups back (Berecien and Melli with the aid of twine holders) and drank the berry juice inside, a well-needed refreshment from the events of their day.

    "A toast to our victory!" Berecien cheered.

    "Yeah, you really pulled through for us there, Cabot!" Melli exclaimed. "For a while I didn't think we'd make it."

    "I mean, it wasn't that big of a deal…" the Cranidos insisted, before blushing and giving a scratch at the back of his head.

    "Hey, you gotta give yourself some credit," Tegu said. "You should have seen the look on that Sandshrew's face after he got up!"

    "Well regardless, it should be fun to train together for the rest of Basic Training," Berecien concluded.

    "Heh, you certainly know how to make a 'mon look forward to stuff," Tegu chuckled.

    "Yeah! It sounds like it would be a lot of-!"

    Melli trailed off as her gaze drifted over a few tables ahead of her. There, a trio consisting of a Psyduck, Bronzor, and Rockruff sat together chattering and laughing over drinks. At once a flash of recognition crossed the Combee's widening eyes, prompting her to flit up from her seat enthusiastically.

    "Oh, Tegu! Look!" the Bug-Type cried.

    The Salandit gave a quizzical tilt of his head, before he followed his partner's gesture and turned around. Upon noticing the three Pokémon as well, he jumped up and went wide-eyed out of surprise.

    "Wait, they signed up after all?!" the lizard exclaimed

    "Let's go talk to them!" Melli cheered.

    The Combee zipped along and flew off for her friends' table, giving a buzzing greeting on the way. Tegu watched as the Bug-Type joined the company of the surprised trio, before begrudgingly looking back at Cabot and Berecien.

    "Eh… so yeah those guys over there are the friends we told you about," the Salandit explained.

    "The ones you said were still doing Community Service?" Cabot wondered, prompting Tegu to nod.

    "They must have signed up after us and got assigned to a different group," the Poison-Type murmured. "You don't mind if we spend some time with them, right?"

    Cabot and Berecien grimaced in hesitation at Tegu's request. The two fumbled with their words before the Ponyta finally managed to string together a reluctant response.

    "I mean, I suppose it wouldn't-"

    "Sweet! We'll catch up with you guys later!" Tegu said.

    The Salandit hopped of the seat and darted along the ground for his old companions. Cabot and Berecien watched as the lizard joined Melli and the other Pokémon about the table, the group quickly slipping into a cheerful circle of chatter over snacks. All the while, Berecien and Cabot couldn't help but have their focus hover on the two freshly-vacated seats, prompting the duo to trade uneasy glaces with each other before hanging their heads.

    "Looks like we're back to where we started," the Ponyta muttered.

    An uneasy pause hung in the air before the pair sighed disappointedly. After everything they'd been through the past few days with Tegu and Melli, they didn't expect the two to just walk off so casually…

    "… So now what?" Cabot asked.

    "Hey."

    Cabot and Berecien looked up from the table at the sound of a voice at the end. Much to their surprise, there in front of them was none other than Niilo, shifting awkwardly as he awaited a response.

    "What do you want, najemnik?" Berecien questioned. "Don't you have your own table? Or that evolution 'just around the corner' to get to?"

    "Hey, I told you it's 'Niilo'!" the Sandshrew huffed. "… But uh, I just wanted to say nice match earlier. You two fight better than I gave you credit for."

    The pair blinked and traded surprised glances with each other. After his attitude the past few days, Niilo's newfound soft-spokenness was… unexpected, to say the least. But even so, a compliment was a compliment, and it was only proper that the two return the thanks.

    "I mean, you guys fought hard too," the Cabot offered. "And it was pretty close."

    "Well still. You're not as bad as I initially thought despite your lack of training," the pangolin admitted. "If I'd known that, I wouldn't have given you such a hard time when we first met."

    "Thanks I suppose," Berecien murmured. An awkward moment of silence followed, Niilo dragging a claw idly on the table waiting for further commentary. After sensing that none would be forthcoming, the Sandshrew cleared his throat and opted to try and drive the conversation forward himself.

    "Anyway, I was wondering if you guys would be down to spar more in the future," the Ground-Type said. "Basic Training has just barely started, so I'm gonna need someone to help me toughen up a bit."

    "We'd love that actually…" Cabot replied. "Did you already get a table? If you haven't, there's plenty of space for another 'mon."

    "Heh, I'll take you up on that," Niilo chuckled. "Gotta get you two used to seeing me around, because I'm not letting you get off that easily!"

    The Sandshrew sidled over to one of the seats around the block-table and began to idly chatter with his former rivals. The three continued on, the lunch hour wiling away around the little table in between food, drinks, and cheerful camaraderie. All the while, Cabot found a warm smile etching itself onto his face. Through all the twists and turns, he'd met Tegu and Melli, and he'd managed to befriend one of the mercenaries after all!

    And with any luck, perhaps his new friend would stick around for a while.

    __________________________________________________

    Author's Notes:

    - bůxaro - Venetian: "kid" / "sprog"
    - kaverit - Finnish: "pals" / "mates"
    - prinsessa - Finnish: "princess"
    - hevonen - Finnish: "horse"
    - chuligani - Polish: "hooligans"
    - najemnik - Polish: "mercenary"
    Last edited by Virgil134; 27th January 2018 at 9:02 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    confirmed. Sending supplies.
    Posts
    582

    Default

    So, I know you said there'd be an arbitrary time skip of sorts. But, really, I don't see any problems. There are a couple of lines summarizing things and then we're thrust into the arrival at basic training. I think you handle it very well. On top of that, I think the chapter's release is well-timed for those reading Fledglings, since Tidemill City is the current location that everyone under the sun is at. XD

    "I will!" Cabot answered the father Rampardos. "I'll show 'em just how we Polderfield 'mons handle trouble!"
    Do they prepare by making it double, perhaps? :P

    Another minor thing that I think is a nice touch is the realization that Cabot didn't seem to fully think through how the Navy would actually work. Like, it was such a spur of the moment kind of thing, and yet it never occurred to him there was no guarantee he'd work with Berecien. It's clever and cute... not sure those are the right adjectives, but that's what I'm going with. At the same time, I'd understand he might be nervous about training, but I'm not too convinced that he's so averse to working with strangers in a Mystery Dungeon, considering he was previously "working" as a freelancer of sorts with the local guild. Which would mean his partners are changing around constantly, no? It's tiny, but I figured I should point it out anyway. That said, I think Coil's explanation to the group does a good job of alluding to the well-intention extremism midset the Empire adheres to. Though, that may lose its effect on anyone who hasn't read the story proper and, thus...

        Spoiler:- Fledglings:


    I had a strong feeling Trixie would be the nasty drill sergeant (sorry, petty officer) for Cabot the moment he ran into her, and that turned out to be a correct prediction. Of course, you go into the Fledglings dungeon mechanics as soon as they step inside. It is pretty much identical to what's present there, for whatever that's worth. It also looks like we get some rivals introduced in the form of the Dune Devils. Mercs vs. proper navy 'mons is certainly an interesting take on a rivalry, that's for sure. Especially in the case of Niilo, who I won't say anything else about b/c spoilers. XP

    "Whelp, that went well," a passing Salandit remarked.
    Obligatory little Pokémon with perfect comedic timing. )")b

    ohmygod their partner in the battle is a Combee, I'm suddenly rooting against Cabot and Berecien. Erm, I mean, the battle clearly starts out show a nice contrast between the teamwork the Dune Devils have, and the utter lack of teamwork that the trainees have. Cabot and Berecien are getting overwhelmed pretty quickly, and neither are helped by their opponents' overal type advantage over the two of them. Like, this was going to be uphill from the start. There's a brief hope spot when they manage to down the Cacnea, but it's super fleeting since the remaining Pokémon have type advantage against both of them. So, it ends about as well as you'd expect. Still though, having them link up with two 'mons that are joke 'mons (Combee and male Salandit, good god), is pretty dang funny.

    Bless Cabot trying to be so optimistic and cheerful. And realizing he's talking too much about himself. I find Tegu being a pirate really silly, since Salandits and water theoretically don't go together (but, then again, our main duo are weak to water too, so what do I know?). But that's immediately shown off when Tegu one-ups Cabot in the race. Which is then spun about by Cabot discovering a short cut toward the checkpoint, which nicely draws reference to Cabot's apprenticeship and Tegu being super skeptical of it.

    "Tch, I'll say. After cleaning scum off the piers in Tidemill for almost a year with some friends of ours, we got the offer to enlist in the navy instead," the Poison-Type explained. "Certainly seemed like the better option, or at least to the two of us."
    I do like this little bit, as well. If anything, because it's a contrast to Elty, who was forced into his Community Service, and made some (half-hearted) attempts to go back to a life of crime. In fact, in Fledglings proper, that punishment doesn't appear to reform anyone. So, it's nice to see that it can actually work. And, of course, the Dune Devils show up to harass them a little bit more, just to remind me that these guys don't like each other all that much. To me, this seemed like a point where you could've split things up between chapters so it's not such a massive amount to swallow, but that's semantics and it's not a really huge deal.

    As the horse kept on running, he looked up just in time to see Niilo curled up into a tight ball and barreling towards him
    nillo's gotta go fast

    shredding the Nidoking doll and causing it to begin to melt into purple mist.
    Don't know if this was intentional, but I see the Empire really don't like the Company's head honcho. Why else would their cadets beat the (literal) stuffing out of him? XP

    With that said, I take a bit of issue with the fact that this is essentially game as opposed to an actual battle. To me, it kind of cheapens the victory for Cabot and Berecien a little bit. I realize this is more like a sports contest sort of rivalry. But it doesn't feel like they're "even," because the Substitute Battle required less of an effort on their part than the actual triple battle. I guess it's not a huge deal, but you might've been able to get away with going straight to a second battle, with "double or nothing" odds attatched to it. Because this thing was more fillery than anything. If that makes sense. Especially since the third match, in my opinion, did everything the second one did and then some. It was more substantive, gave Tegu and Melli time to shine (which would've made it following the lunchtime conversation more appropriate), had enough give and take to keep me guessing who would win, and had Berecien making a sacrifice of sorts so Cabot could win. And it clearly humbles Niilo, which is nice to see after he's acted pretty conceited this entire time.

    So, yeah. Long chapter here. It's channeling your typical boot camp tropes, with a bit of sports movie things thrown in for good measure. But I like the spin you gave on everything. I believe we're in for another time skip following this, so I'll be interested in seeing where the recruits end up. Since my guess it we'll be skimming over the rest of basic training.

    As far as little corrections go, this is all I noticed:
    spreading fire over the horse's hide as he lower his head in a charge
    Bit of tense confusion here. Should be "lowered his head."
    Last edited by Ambyssin; 1st February 2018 at 11:50 PM.
    Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Guiding Light
    Sometimes becoming a Pokémon isn't all fun and games.

    Latest Episode: Viral Infection
    Latest Chapter: 38 - Peering Over the Horizon
    Other Works: Top Billing | Restarting

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1,056

    Default

    Oh Cabot, you sweet little thing, this is … so clearly the wrong place for you. There's going to be a moment where it actually clicks for him that this is a professional fighting force and that that involves unpleasant things of the sort hinted at by Trixie and Tegu, and the longer the story goes without that moment arriving – and the more his fellow pokemon drop hints about it – the more uneasy I feel about it. Which is a good thing, by the way. That's part of the story's drama, and I'm enjoying it quite a lot.

    One weakness I think you have is the urge to substitute 'the X' for characters' names. Quite often, 'the rock-type', 'the dinosaur', 'the fossil pokémon' and so on read kind of unnaturally – like, if you were hearing someone tell this story aloud, the words would sound strange in your ears. Maybe you're trying to avoid repetition – but repetition of a character's name isn't the kind of repetition that makes prose read weirdly; it actually reads much more naturally than when you bend over backwards to avoid using that name. Saying 'Cabot' a few more times won't hurt the story at all.

    I'll be training you day in and out until you're sailors worthy fighting in your queen's name."
    You're missing an 'of' there, in between 'worthy' and 'fighting'.

    The commotion drew the attention of some of their fellow cadets from the sidelines, debating among each other as to whether it would be Cabot and Berecien or their mercenary foes who would need to be drug off the battlefield.
    I'm not sure I've ever come across 'drug' used as the past participle of 'drag' before. I think you'd normally use 'dragged'.

    "Cabot now!"
    It looks like there should be a comma after 'Cabot' there.

    As the Bug-Type's request set in, a skeptical frown spread over the lizard's maw.
    A few things here. Unless that's an idiom I'm not familiar with, I think you might mean 'sank in' rather than 'set in'; I'm also not sure how a frown spreads over a mouth. It would make more sense for it to spread over his face, I think. Finally, I think the kind of odd usage of 'maw' is is an instance of that tendency towards overwriting that I pointed out in my review of your last chapter – it's something you do a little less this time around, but it's still very much present.

    These points aside, though, all the reasons I liked the first chapter make this one just as good: the charm of your characters, who fall into distinct types but who really make those types their own; the gentle comedy; the slow building up of the world in hints and details as we go along. Great stuff. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where Cabot's journey takes him from here!
    GHOST TOWN
    Some bodies are buried for a reason.

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

    GO HOME
    TIME AND TIDE | A LEASH OF FOXES
    IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER | SELFISH PERCEPTIONS

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    2 QPU to the left.
    Posts
    208

    Default

    "Good, now let's remind those mercenaries who won," Berecien said.

    Cabot, Melli, and Tegu watched as Berecien trotted off before following after, the group making their way over to Niilo and Molina as the pair hovered among their normal cohort of khaki-scarved companions. The Ponyta carried over with his head held high and the muzzle of his long face curved into a visibly smug grin on the way over, soaking up the visible annoyance the Sandshrew and his companions had with his demeanor.
    Truly, I come here for the precious, precious Berecien screentime, the best character coming through I swear; biased as I am, I will say you are so far doing a wonderful job with the righteous and stubborn fire horse. Let's see how this version of the character evolves. When it comes to him doing stuff, so far the story does not fail to deliver.

    Also Cabot of course. The star of the show has to go through so many complications in this episode as he has to adjust to his new life. He has all the rights to be cheery even though he's got himself into quite of a situation with the teammates he's gotten. "Join the Navy, they said" indeed. But I am hopeful that he is not going to be crushed that badly and that his good spirits are going to imprint on his teammates too.

    In terms of the story's mechanics, I was part of the betareading so much of what I could say was already corrected or improved. The one thing that I think was left out during the combats, the first one in particular, was to describe more the relative positioning of the combatants in the battlefield: the urgency of being cornered, the difficulty in reaching an opponent. During one of the segments where Berecien chases after Niilo I got flashbacks to those Captain Tsubasa episodes where the soccer players rushed and rushed from one commercial break to the next to reach the other end of the playfield. I can understand why it was left out, but I would say for combat situations like those it is a factor to improve in the future.

    Also kudos for the Nidoking doll. Shame to see them go out like that, but hey. Nidos screentime. And as it was said above, it does tell something special about how the Company and the Empire feel about each other.
    Last edited by Venia Silente; 2nd February 2018 at 3:30 PM.
    Writing what the Pokémon canon lacks since 2010!

    THE SUOCÉVERSE -- Introduction (WIP) -- Official Wiki

    Serebii-Published Writing
    Sixth :: Playfield
    Built for Risk - 3rd place Interpretations 2013
    Silly human, romance is for Nidoran~ - 2nd Best Comedy, 3rd Best Pokémon Centric 2015
    Overlord - 5th place Criminal Intent 2015; 3rd Best Non-Human MC, 2nd Best Pokémon One-Shot 2015

    » Serebii Catalog ÷ FF catalog «

    Coming Up
    Counterparts in Crime -- Interim -- Built for Risk [complete] -- Scalar 2.0 -- Codename: Cardinal -- untitled hyperfiction

    Can help with: character development
    Can't help with: getting rich fast™ schemes.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    339

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ambyssin View Post
    So, I know you said there'd be an arbitrary time skip of sorts. But, really, I don't see any problems. There are a couple of lines summarizing things and then we're thrust into the arrival at basic training. I think you handle it very well. On top of that, I think the chapter's release is well-timed for those reading Fledglings, since Tidemill City is the current location that everyone under the sun is at. XD
    Good to hear I’m handling those well! There will be another one at the start of the next chapter, so I hope you’ll like it just as much. As for the Fledglings part, the timing may have been a little bit intentional. ^^

    Do they prepare by making it double, perhaps? :P
    Only if it helps to protect the world from devastation. o3o

    Another minor thing that I think is a nice touch is the realization that Cabot didn't seem to fully think through how the Navy would actually work. Like, it was such a spur of the moment kind of thing, and yet it never occurred to him there was no guarantee he'd work with Berecien. It's clever and cute... not sure those are the right adjectives, but that's what I'm going with. At the same time, I'd understand he might be nervous about training, but I'm not too convinced that he's so averse to working with strangers in a Mystery Dungeon, considering he was previously "working" as a freelancer of sorts with the local guild. Which would mean his partners are changing around constantly, no? It's tiny, but I figured I should point it out anyway. That said, I think Coil's explanation to the group does a good job of alluding to the well-intention extremism midset the Empire adheres to. Though, that may lose its effect on anyone who hasn't read the story proper and, thus...
    I think those adjectives are fine yeah. I’m happy you liked the things that occurred in that scene though. As for Cabot being nervous, it’s not so much the fact that he’s working with Pokémon he doesn’t know, but moreso the fact Coil made Basic Training sound much harder than he imagined it would be and that he would potentially be going through it without a single Pokémon that he knows. It probably would have affected Cabot less if he wouldn’t have been convinced up until that point that there wasn’t a chance he wouldn’t be training alongside Berecien.

        Spoiler:- Fledglings:
        Spoiler:- Reply:


    Obligatory little Pokémon with perfect comedic timing. )")b
    That’s Tegu for ya.

    ohmygod their partner in the battle is a Combee, I'm suddenly rooting against Cabot and Berecien. Erm, I mean, the battle clearly starts out show a nice contrast between the teamwork the Dune Devils have, and the utter lack of teamwork that the trainees have. Cabot and Berecien are getting overwhelmed pretty quickly, and neither are helped by their opponents' overal type advantage over the two of them. Like, this was going to be uphill from the start. There's a brief hope spot when they manage to down the Cacnea, but it's super fleeting since the remaining Pokémon have type advantage against both of them. So, it ends about as well as you'd expect. Still though, having them link up with two 'mons that are joke 'mons (Combee and male Salandit, good god), is pretty dang funny.
    Glad you like both the battle and the partner choices. Fighting against those who already had training definitely ain’t easy, so am happy I could make it entertaining.

    Bless Cabot trying to be so optimistic and cheerful. And realizing he's talking too much about himself. I find Tegu being a pirate really silly, since Salandits and water theoretically don't go together (but, then again, our main duo are weak to water too, so what do I know?). But that's immediately shown off when Tegu one-ups Cabot in the race. Which is then spun about by Cabot discovering a short cut toward the checkpoint, which nicely draws reference to Cabot's apprenticeship and Tegu being super skeptical of it.
    To be fair, given that the setting is basically a bunch of islands, you pretty much have to be a pirate if you want to be a somewhat successful thief. Staying only on land would really limit your options, especially if you’re not living on an island with a big city like Tidemill. That said, good to hear you’re enjoying the dynamics between Cabot and Tegu.

    I do like this little bit, as well. If anything, because it's a contrast to Elty, who was forced into his Community Service, and made some (half-hearted) attempts to go back to a life of crime. In fact, in Fledglings proper, that punishment doesn't appear to reform anyone. So, it's nice to see that it can actually work. And, of course, the Dune Devils show up to harass them a little bit more, just to remind me that these guys don't like each other all that much. To me, this seemed like a point where you could've split things up between chapters so it's not such a massive amount to swallow, but that's semantics and it's not a really huge deal.
    Showing how some of the naval recruits are former pirates and how this helps them reform was a thing I wanted to show off here, so it’s good to hear you really appreciated it!

    As for the splitting part, you already know it, but I really wanted this fic to consist of three chapters and have each chapter be about a different part of the process of Cabot kicking off his journey. As a result, this chapter simply had to be big.

    nillo's gotta go fast
    O U :P

    Don't know if this was intentional, but I see the Empire really don't like the Company's head honcho. Why else would their cadets beat the (literal) stuffing out of him? XP
    That was intentional, yes. Same reason why Cabot and Berecien’s Substitute is a Bisharp if you remember the Pirate Council from Fledglings.

    With that said, I take a bit of issue with the fact that this is essentially game as opposed to an actual battle. To me, it kind of cheapens the victory for Cabot and Berecien a little bit. I realize this is more like a sports contest sort of rivalry. But it doesn't feel like they're "even," because the Substitute Battle required less of an effort on their part than the actual triple battle. I guess it's not a huge deal, but you might've been able to get away with going straight to a second battle, with "double or nothing" odds attatched to it. Because this thing was more fillery than anything. If that makes sense. Especially since the third match, in my opinion, did everything the second one did and then some. It was more substantive, gave Tegu and Melli time to shine (which would've made it following the lunchtime conversation more appropriate), had enough give and take to keep me guessing who would win, and had Berecien making a sacrifice of sorts so Cabot could win. And it clearly humbles Niilo, which is nice to see after he's acted pretty conceited this entire time.
    I think this is where we have to agree to disagree. Even though a Substitute Battle may not require to knock out your opponents, it’s still a battle involving attacks. And like explained, being able to guard an object is a very important skill to have in the navy. Considering the bet was who the better soldier is, I think the Substitute Battle fits in perfectly.

    Besides, I don’t think a "double or nothing" is very logical either, since there’s no way the mercs would have accepted something like that immediately after a clearcut victory, especially if it meant risking losing to a fluke matchup. As such, to me it felt that the most natural way to be cocky while acknowledging the reality that sometimes RNG unduly tilts the odds was to do a ‘best out of $X’ setup, especially when it could be extended indefinitely to keep the humiliation going for Cabot and his buddies.

    So, yeah. Long chapter here. It's channeling your typical boot camp tropes, with a bit of sports movie things thrown in for good measure. But I like the spin you gave on everything. I believe we're in for another time skip following this, so I'll be interested in seeing where the recruits end up. Since my guess it we'll be skimming over the rest of basic training.
    Glad it was so entertaining for you to read. ^^

    And yes, next chapter will be set right after Basic Training. We’ll be taking a look at how Cabot’s first mission is gonna go.

    As far as little corrections go, this is all I noticed:

    Bit of tense confusion here. Should be "lowered his head."
    Fixed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Oh Cabot, you sweet little thing, this is … so clearly the wrong place for you. There's going to be a moment where it actually clicks for him that this is a professional fighting force and that that involves unpleasant things of the sort hinted at by Trixie and Tegu, and the longer the story goes without that moment arriving – and the more his fellow pokemon drop hints about it – the more uneasy I feel about it. Which is a good thing, by the way. That's part of the story's drama, and I'm enjoying it quite a lot.
    Heh, glad you’re enjoying how Cabot’s journey is progressing. If you liked this, I’m sure you’ll like how things will go in the final chapter.

    One weakness I think you have is the urge to substitute 'the X' for characters' names. Quite often, 'the rock-type', 'the dinosaur', 'the fossil pokémon' and so on read kind of unnaturally – like, if you were hearing someone tell this story aloud, the words would sound strange in your ears. Maybe you're trying to avoid repetition – but repetition of a character's name isn't the kind of repetition that makes prose read weirdly; it actually reads much more naturally than when you bend over backwards to avoid using that name. Saying 'Cabot' a few more times won't hurt the story at all.
    I don’t fully agree, since I think constant repetition of a character’s name is a bad thing. It’s a weakness I’ve seen in some other fics around here, and one I wanna avoid myself. That said, I will try next chapter to find a balance and make sure not to use too many synonyms. Since I obviously don’t want to story to read strange either.

    You're missing an 'of' there, in between 'worthy' and 'fighting'.



    I'm not sure I've ever come across 'drug' used as the past participle of 'drag' before. I think you'd normally use 'dragged'.



    It looks like there should be a comma after 'Cabot' there.



    A few things here. Unless that's an idiom I'm not familiar with, I think you might mean 'sank in' rather than 'set in'; I'm also not sure how a frown spreads over a mouth. It would make more sense for it to spread over his face, I think. Finally, I think the kind of odd usage of 'maw' is is an instance of that tendency towards overwriting that I pointed out in my review of your last chapter – it's something you do a little less this time around, but it's still very much present.
    Made some tweaks based on your comments. That said, technically “drug” is correct according to this. I still changed to “dragged” though, since I thought it looked a bit better.

    As for the overwriting, I did my best to avoid and sounds like I at least made some progress with it. Will try to do it even better for the final chapter.

    These points aside, though, all the reasons I liked the first chapter make this one just as good: the charm of your characters, who fall into distinct types but who really make those types their own; the gentle comedy; the slow building up of the world in hints and details as we go along. Great stuff. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where Cabot's journey takes him from here!
    Ah, I’m really happy you like those same things about this chapter as well. I’ll look forward to your next review as well! ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by Venia Silente View Post
    Truly, I come here for the precious, precious Berecien screentime, the best character coming through I swear; biased as I am, I will say you are so far doing a wonderful job with the righteous and stubborn fire horse. Let's see how this version of the character evolves. When it comes to him doing stuff, so far the story does not fail to deliver.
    Always good to hear you enjoying my incarnation of Berecien. ^^

    Also Cabot of course. The star of the show has to go through so many complications in this episode as he has to adjust to his new life. He has all the rights to be cheery even though he's got himself into quite of a situation with the teammates he's gotten. "Join the Navy, they said" indeed. But I am hopeful that he is not going to be crushed that badly and that his good spirits are going to imprint on his teammates too.
    Well hey, staying positive certainly does help with your training!

    In terms of the story's mechanics, I was part of the betareading so much of what I could say was already corrected or improved. The one thing that I think was left out during the combats, the first one in particular, was to describe more the relative positioning of the combatants in the battlefield: the urgency of being cornered, the difficulty in reaching an opponent. During one of the segments where Berecien chases after Niilo I got flashbacks to those Captain Tsubasa episodes where the soccer players rushed and rushed from one commercial break to the next to reach the other end of the playfield. I can understand why it was left out, but I would say for combat situations like those it is a factor to improve in the future.
    We already talked about this in IM, but I’ll see what I can do for the next chapter.

    Also kudos for the Nidoking doll. Shame to see them go out like that, but hey. Nidos screentime. And as it was said above, it does tell something special about how the Company and the Empire feel about each other.
    Well, Nido or not, you can’t take it easy on Inler if you’re fighting for the Empire :P

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •