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Thread: love and other nightmares

  1. #1
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    Default love and other nightmares

    I'm sorry to seemingly be spamming the fanfic board, but this is the newest fic I'm working on. Survival Project is in the editing phase and Flying in the Dark is on hiatus. This is all brand new. Rated PG-13 for swearing, violence, and some mature themes. Any and all reviews are appreciated.

    PM List
    1. jstinftw!
    2. PhalanxSigil

    Index

    - prologue - in the ice cavern
    chapter 1. time to start anew
    chapter 2. at first sight


    LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES

    Find what you love and let it kill you.
    – Charles Bukowski

    *
    prologue
    in the ice cavern

    *

    At the top of a dying stone cavern, adorned with nothing but eroding pedestals and the sound of dripping icicles, Kyurem waits for her.

    Her movements are automatic. She climbs the steps with an unrecognizable, sudden strength that she thinks has come to her out of sheer willpower. Her legs shake due to the tremors echoing in the pervading darkness, and it takes most of her energy to avoid the knee-deep cracks in the rocky floor. Things are not that simple, here. Not only does the presence of a legendary tell her this, but so does the emptiness of her surroundings. A sense of extravagance is missing.

    It's cold, too, but it's the kind of cold that's hard to notice unless it's staring you in the face. The exertion forces her breathing to stop being shallow; puffs of freezing air temporarily cloud her vision. The statues on both sides of her are moving now, levitating in front of her and blocking her path. They look like snowflakes, but in their center are gleaming blue eyes. They must be ice-type pokémon. She gets the feeling they don't see humans all that often. One of them is nearing her, and a crystal hanging from their underside reaches out. It's warm to the touch, and it vanishes just as quickly, leaving steam in its wake. The rest of the cryogonal ignore her and float about, growing closer and closer to Kyurem.

    It occurs to her that she's dreaming. That would explain why she's unusually calm, but she can't be sure. She's always liked the winter for its dullness. The fleeting, boring moments amidst her eccentricies keep her from going off the deep end. Holidays are a special bonus, and for some reason she's reminded of her little sister begging for a pokémon every year but always opening her presents with clear disdain. Her little sister would be jealous of this dream. She would give anything to trade places with her sibling. She's confident in this decision until Kyurem speaks to her.

    "Annie Willems," it says simply. Its voice nearly destroys her balance. Kyurem knows her name, and only then does she realize that she's reached the top. The monster towers over her while standing on two feet, and it looks even more menacing with its bottom teeth jutting out of its mouth. There is no perfect way to describe Kyurem unless you mention its demonic yellow eyes and its wings, spiked with ice on both ends. Its short arms are laughable, and that's what she holds on to, though it's not difficult to stay composed. Kyurem howls, as if it can read her thoughts.

    "Here I am!" she says. There goes her wild side again. Her parents always wanted to keep it contained. When they finally got their wish, they couldn't look at her without crying. It feels good to be herself again, but she knows she'll wake up soon and return to normal, whatever that is and whatever that means for her.

    "Do you know why you are here, Annie Willems?" it asks, moving its misshaped head around like she's supposed to notice something. She doesn't notice anything in particular, unless you count the other pokémon staring at her with anticipation.

    "This is a nightmare disguised as a dream of sorts, I would say."

    "I can assure you that that is not true. This is very real." She expected for Kyurem to say as much. "I've brought you here for a special reason," it continues. "I need you, Annie Willems. I need you to do something very, very important for me.”

    It seems cliche, too unreasonable to be true. What can she do but laugh? She doesn't laugh because Kyurem has lulled her into a state of passiveness, like she herself is encased in a sheet of ice taken from its massive body, and she's afraid she'll fall if she makes a wrong move. She has no choice but to play along if she doesn't want her sense of well-being to be crushed further.

    "And what is this important task you have for me, may I ask?" she says, trying for a hint of sarcasm. It feels unnatural and real at the same time, and she's not sure what to make of it. The cryogonal around her are now emanating with a buzzing noise that grounds her to the present moment. The tremors cease, and it's as if it's just the two of them now.

    "Tell me you're paying attention, if you would." Kyurem sounds surprisingly quiet, now. If she were a legendary pokémon, she would appreciate her antics in the middle of a serious situation.

    "Of course I'm paying attention. Can't you tell? Aren't you supposed to have great powers or something?"

    "My powers grow weaker. Do you know anything about my kind?"

    "Is there more than one of you?" She shivers at the idea, but then maybe her little sister could have her own version of this dream.

    "There should be. I am a pokémon that values truth and ideals above all else. I never wanted it to come to this, but the world is full of dishonesty. Humans and pokémon alike go out of their way to do what is easiest for them rather than what is right."

    She thinks about this using examples from her own life, but her memory is, at best, a blur. Images merge together with other images and skew her past. She can only remember specific things such as the smell of her favorite pasta, or the color of her mother's hair. No one would believe a story like that if she told it to them a million times. If she were given the choice, she would escape this place and say none of it ever happened.

    She nods to Kyurem. With that alone, she can understand, but then it hits her. Before fate twisted her in a different direction, she wanted to be a therapist. She wanted to help people overcome obstacles and make goals they thought were impossible to achieve. She nods again, this time with more effort.

    "I have been watching you, Annie Willems. This I will admit. I know you are sick. I know you do not want to go on a pokémon journey as well, but I must ask you to do that for me."

    "What does that have to do with anything?" She can't look at it as she says this. Her sickness is something she would have liked to forget. This thought overshadows the pokémon journey idea, though it sounds more appealing.

    "I am asking you and many others like you, Annie Willems. You are not inherently special, but you possess certain admirable traits that make you vital to this world. I need you to find and reform a team of pokémon that are extremely dangerous to themselves and everyone around them."

    "Reform... pokémon?" It seems absurd. Pokémon are powerful, yes, but she can't imagine them to be the kind of creatures to attack others or be self-destructive.

    "Yes."

    "But what about—"

    "Your life? What about your life? Aren't you working with limited time... and limited abilities?"

    Kyurem's tone strikes down like a hammer. She bites her lip. When she wakes up, she will fall asleep again in a matter of minutes, spent and tired after sitting up. She will struggle to speak, eat, read and write. She will look into her family's faces and not have a clue as to what they're feeling, even if it's obvious. She will not go to school anymore, or work toward her future.

    It's only a matter of time until she dies.

    "True," she says, sighing. There's not much else to add. Kyurem knows where she hurts most.

    "If you do this for me, I will promise a reliable, speedy recovery. And if you succeed, I will provide a cure for the overall problem."

    "You can really do that?" The words are out of her mouth before she can think them through.

    "Yes. I will find a way."

    If this is a dream, she will be disappointed when it's over. If not, she has a legitimate chance to start over and pick up where she left off. Kyurem looks at her expectantly. She knows that she needs to answer fast or the chance will slip through her fingers, as dreams often do.

    She tries to grin. "Will my first pokémon be a regular starter?"

    At this, Kyurem frowns. "A... starter?"

    "You're a legend and you don't know? I'm from Sinnoh. Trainers start with, uh, chimchar, a penguin, some grass-type... Pretty standard, really."

    "I have chosen you not only for your personality and tactics, but also for your location. You will know the pokémon you must help when you see them. They are pokémon native to Unova, stuck in Sinnoh for varying reasons. Seek them out. Capture them. Redeem them before it's too late. And you will be rewarded splendidly."

    "I have nothing to lose, so..." She shrugs, unsure of what to say next.

    "It's time to start anew, Annie Willems," Kyurem interrupts. "Best of luck to you."

    "Wait! I have a few more questions..."

    “We will meet again soon.”

    Kyurem takes a deep breath, and in less than a second she's blown away. The cryogonal throw ice beams and create a statue of her, as if they don't want her to leave. Their attacks come toward her soon after and she screams, not from the danger, but from the familiar confusion in her muddled brain. It's the first true physical and emotional act she's portrayed in a long, long time.

    She prays that it's just the first of many.
    Last edited by diamondpearl876; 7th November 2014 at 3:40 AM.

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


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


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


  2. #2
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    LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES


    chapter one
    time to start anew

    *

    I've been dreaming about things best left to a child's imagination. Now there's a pressure on my hips, though I've never been one to leave my back wide open while sleeping. One night I broke that unspoken rule, slipped into a coma and met a legendary face-to-face. I make enough jokes about Arceus, but honestly, I think He's been forgetting about me since the day I was born. Kyurem is just fitting a role I only wish had been filled sooner.

    I see a light. I imagine my starter. I imagine our first battle. Fire burns in my throat as I yell commands and try to remember my starter's nickname. I make him or her fight, not for money, but for the respect I've lost. I'm not sure who I'm trying to impress at this point. It doesn't matter.

    More light appears. My starter runs after me, peering at me frantically as I'm picked up by an unknown figure. The gesture is nice, but it isn't getting me anywhere useful. This is happening because of all those times I tried to persuade others into being religious, even though I'm agnostic myself. This is happening because of all those times I bored my school's stadium with mundane topics such as mathematics and philosophy.

    Or this could be happening because I rarely went to the doctor when I was young. My parents would drag me screaming across the kitchen tiles and out the door if a visit was necessary. I had chronic ear infections and sore throats, but I insisted I was fine. I could still talk and sing, after all. I could dance, watch television and play games. Kids know better than adults sometimes, I told my parents. “It'll go away. You'll see.” And the problem did go away—without antibiotics, without ongoing tubes or injections or anything else an ENT might order. My parents shrugged.

    My parents shrugged, like I'm shrugging now. As Kyurem said, it's time to start anew. I stir. I scoff away the inordinate amount of painkillers, anticonvulsants and medicine for blood pressure levels. I can't tell if the rumbling sound is something other than the pills my stomach digested lately. The fog in my brain disappears. As if by instinct, I grab my forehead, feeling for knots, an ache of sorts, but there's nothing. I hoped to wake up, of course, but I thought I'd be more restless when I did.

    Looking up, I see a very, very excited face, a head bobbed to the side and a hand waving back and forth. The thin blonde hair I see is similar to my own, as well as two emerald specks that speak volumes. The voice I hear is female, and, best of all, familiar.

    “Annie!”

    The sudden loudness startles me. I would jump if I wasn't in a bed. Yeah, I'm in a bed, but I don't see a way out of it. A soft, cottony gown caresses my skin down to the knees, but I can tell my back is exposed. I feel the the shame of getting up and revealing myself without the event actually taking place. So I stay where I am. Besides, there's wires, needles in my hand, a tube up my nose and my breath is hitching every few seconds due to its uncomfortable positioning.

    I try to talk to my mother. “I... I...” My mouth is dry. My words come out raspy and wrong.

    “Oh, honey, don't try to talk. Here. Have a glass of water...” My mother hands me a cup. I take it shakily, but I gulp down its contents, closing my eyes. I open them again out of fear.

    “Where am I?” I ask. It's a common question, right? And an honest one.

    “We're at Sandgem Medical Center, honey.” My mother frowns, the corner of her eyes tearing up, then continues, “Y-You were... We thought you...”

    My mother's distress is clear. I gaze at the room, its white walls and the hanging television portraying two lillipup dancing in some cartoon I watched when I was four. One other person blocks my view. It's my father.

    “Dad? What's going on?” I ask.

    He sighs and rubs his neck. He doesn't seem keen on explaining, either, but I need it. “Annie, you had a stroke. You had a ruptured blood vessel in your brain, then went comatose. They said... They said you wouldn't wake up.” He walks up to me, takes my hand. “It's truly a miracle, Annie, as you would say. Or something like it.”

    At this, I smile. “Thank Arceus. He's such a wonderful being, isn't He?”

    “That's my girl.” He grins halfheartedly. “Really, though. You were alone when it happened. I'm sorry we weren't there... It was the middle of the day and we were working... You called your mother and she couldn't understand anything you were saying. When you went silent, she heard a crash and came home immediately. We've been waiting for months, Annie. The doctors sounded so sure, and they were preparing us for you... to leave us. None of us were expecting this. I don't—I don't know how else to put it.”

    “That's all right, Dad.” I look away from him. I've always seen him be calm, never so nerve-wracked.

    “Their tests couldn't have been wrong, but they say the bridge between your brain and your body was damaged, and so you couldn't respond to us even if you wanted to. Three days ago they said it was only a matter of time till you woke up. “ He peers at me, his face twisting into a frown. “It's cliché, but—could you hear us? Did you want to blink when we asked, but couldn't? Is it too soon to—”

    “Dad. Please!” His behavior disturbs me. I need time to think, but my thoughts are still slow. I assume they'll be like that for a while, but making anyone else comprehend such a fine concept would be impossible, so I don't try. Instead I try to come up with a response. No, I couldn't hear them. Their motions and words were separate, distant from my own.

    I heard Kyurem. I heard things about a bet, a lifetime challenge in exchange for life itself. If I were my normal self, I'd be getting dressed and heading out already. But I'm not myself and I don't know where to start. And I don't know how to give my father the truth, so I settle for otherwise. Lies can spawn miracles if you're careful enough.

    “Ah, well... I'd rather not talk about it. It was like being stuck inside my own head and not being able to do anything about it, you know?”

    My mother comes into the conversation again. She had been wiping her face with a nearby napkin. “Whenever you're ready, then. And you don't even have to tell us. Do that therapy stuff you always talk about.”

    “Well...” It's true, I want to be a therapist—what would become of that goal now?—but my techniques never quite work on myself. I smoke cigarettes to relieve tension, but I've never told anyone. I'm the put together person. I'm the fun, kind, loving daughter and friend, yet I've spent many nights in Leavanny Park, watching the sun set quietly as if it didn't want anyone but me to notice. “I'll work on it. Promise.”

    “Of course,” my mother says. “We're proud of you. You are nothing short of extraordinary. This is proof of that.”

    “Typical Mom thing to say,” I say, crossing my arms. “Can't you think of anything more fantastical? Say I was born out of the womb at age twenty. That'd make a great story.”

    “I have no idea whose daughter she is,” my father says, chuckling. “Do you?”

    “Not a clue...” my mother says, one last tear rolling down her chin. “But look. We brought you something.” She stands up, going to the other side of the room. As she rummages through her backpack, I can tell they've been here for days, maybe weeks. I shake my head and curse them silently as my mother hands me a picture, frayed at the edges and smeared with blue marker in the middle.

    “This was your favorite picture when you were little,” she says. “You liked it so much you drew on it so no one else would take it.”

    I take it, fumbling with it jokingly in my hand. I turn serious when I actually see who—and what—is in the picture. There's me, obviously, younger, with pigtails and overalls like I were a farmer in the desert, and a baby deerling, just as small.

    “We had a deerling?”

    “Why, yes... You don't remember? Well, maybe in time you will. We had her before you were born, and she passed when you were four. But you loved her like no other. You would always play with her, and sleep with her...”

    I once had a pokémon. But I don't even like pokémon. Why would I have one as a pet? I vaguely recall a night where there was heavy rainfall, which is unusual in Sandgem Town. That night I rescued a pokémon—the deerling, maybe?—but I'm fairly certain my resentment started when that pokémon ran away before morning came, before I could make sure it was safe and healthy. Well, at least I know the deerling was real. The picture exists, so the deerling must be hiding in my memories, somewhere... I only remember Kyurem, and I'm sure the deerling wasn't a threat to anyone, least of all a child. This would take work. This would take a lot of consideration.

    “About that... About pokémon...”

    “Yes?”

    I finger the blue marker on the picture, then the deerling's fur, which of course feels nothing like fur but rather like loss, and I only wish they hadn't removed the glass from the picture frame. I do recall cutting my skin once while trying to replace a hung-up picture. But I was little, then! I don't appreciate the reminder of my own fragility and I mourn for the chances I couldn't take before today.

    “Well...”

    *

    By the time I'm done explaining the convoluted version of my story, the doctors have interrupted at least three times to check my vitals, my eye movement and other important things I know Kyurem has taken care of. I'm perfectly healthy, the white coats say... They don't know how it happened, but there's no denying it. I even spin a tale when the doctors come in. I say I'm off to fight the demon pokémon, Giratina, so I can save the earth and become a hero. They say I've already earned that title by just living.

    My parents, on the other hand, are baffled, but not as surprised as I thought they'd be. They stop me in the middle, too, to ask what spurred my interest in pokémon. Was it the picture? Did I have visions in my comatose state? No, no—this was a secret I had kept for years, my yearning for travel and traveling companions. I didn't have the heart to leave my family and friends behind, but these events, this stroke had inspired me. What could I do but listen to what my head was begging me to do?

    “Annie,” my mother says sternly. My mouth closes, lips curved downward. “If this is what you want to do, we won't stop you. You're an adult. But what about your schooling? It's February. The winter is almost over. Maybe you should wait until the end of the year, or until the end of your degree...”

    I consider this for her. I wish Kyurem had specified a time frame, but no. He had been as vague as I would expect a legendary to be. The legendary sees all, controls all, but contributes nothing besides end results. If I take chances, I might end up where I started. So I shake my head and say, “No. I don't graduate for another two years. I can't wait that long. What if... What if this happens again? At least I'll have learned some therapy techniques and journeyed!” I manage a smile.

    “Yes, well... It's possible... Annie, don't say that, please,” my mother says. She turns and leaves the room, only stopping to open the door.

    I turn to my father. “Hmm. Did I make her mad? It's like I'm four again. Guess I can't go on a journey after all.”

    “She'll be all right. She can treat Renee like a baby next.”

    “Where is she, anyway?”

    “Staying at her friend's house. She's been looking for support elsewhere. You know teenagers... Don't like their parents.” He shakes his head. “She didn't exactly enjoy seeing you like that, either.”

    “I can imagine.” I imagine my sister, her friends cradling her like they'd cradle an infant, because my sister's ambitious, but fragile. I have high expectations of Renee, but I'm not sure those expectations will ever be met. If a journey didn't involve danger, I'd encourage her to come with. Alas. “I'll tell her the news before I go.”

    “I think she'd appreciate that.”

    I nod. “What do you think about all this?”

    He pauses before answering. “It's your life, not mine. You're not ten-years-old anymore, so that's a plus,” my father says, grinning. “When you were ten, you were still chasing buneary and pidove out of the yard with a stick in your hand...”

    Now that I think about it, my silly actions were probably done in response to the deerling's passing. I had been bitter and angry, and had never quite recovered... The death had crushed my dreams. It makes sense to me. It's nonsensical for me to do that anymore, even if it is part of my personality. If I have to help pokémon feel better about themselves and others, threatening to hit them in the forehead with a weird object isn't the best idea. I can gift them instead, or support them by picking up mementos along the way, as a reminder of decent times rather than dwelling on horrid ones.

    “That doesn't sound like me at all,” I say, keeping my chin up. “I don't know what you're talking about.”

    My father goes to sit and folds his hand together, lost in sudden concentration. “You've just woken up and it's like things never happened,” he says.

    I don't know what to say to that. I feel the exact same way, a bit more surprised and a little less like a phenomenon.

    That night, at home, I make it a point to act like a child one more time. Renee is still at her friend’s house, so dealing with her will have to wait until I leave, or until she comes back. Whichever comes first. For the time being I approach my mother with fake lillipup eyes—which reminds me of that television cartoon again—and ask if I can sleep in her bed. When I was younger and would cry over thunderstorms or spiders, she let me do so. I don't ask to be weird, but I miss being a child, back when my biggest concern was what my deerling ate for breakfast. So for tonight I kick my dad to the curb (or, more literally, to the couch) and lie awake until my mother snores and reminds me that I should get some rest, too, even if it’s all I’ve done lately.
    *

    My post recovery terms are a breeze. The doctors’ code of conduct tells me to eat healthily, drink plenty of water and record any peculiar symptoms on the charts they give me before I leave. Exercise is crucial, too, but I know I’ll be doing a lot of that, mentally and physically.

    One doctor has a problem, not necessarily with me, but with my treatment plans. There are no treatment plans. He's not convinced I'm safe. If I’m going to venture into the wild, then I need to be one hundred percent prepared.

    So for an entire day I’m stuck inside a clinic room with several clinicians of varying types. There’s a speech therapist, a woman with brown hair that’s obviously been dyed to avoid dreaded grey hairs; a physical therapist, another woman (I had requested a woman, at any rate) with small hands that I hope are effective; and an occupational therapist, who seems to be the most boring man in the world. He's the one who said I needed to get tested before being officially released with no strings attached.

    The room is too cramped for all of us, but somehow we manage. At first it's silent. The three of them mumble to each other occasionally and give each other strange looks, as if to ask who’s brave enough to step in first. The speech therapist is the brave one. I had been hoping to fight back against the occupational therapist as soon as possible, but I guess he’ll have to wait.

    “Okay, Annie,” she says in a wispy voice. “Later, we’ll have to go to the radiology lab and have some specific tests done, but they’re booked right now. We’re going to evaluate your cognitive abilities as well as your speech abilities first…”

    “Well, that’s what the title speech therapist implies, right?” I say, folding my arms. Why can’t I be at the pokémart, spending thousand of pokédollars on beef jerky instead of being in a room with old people that feel the need to treat me like I’m four-years-old? Never mind the fact that I wanted to be four-years-old again less than a day ago.

    “Well, yes, but some things are out of my hands, such as those tests I mentioned.”

    Fair enough. “What kind of tests will I need?” I ask.

    “A CT scan will locate any lesions in your brain, and thus present to us the underlying cause of any aphasia disorders you might have. It will also show us any leftover internal bleeding. If there is any, it will have to be addressed immediately.”

    I wait for her to go on. She doesn’t. “Is that it?” I ask.

    “Yes, Annie. It is. Simple, right?”

    “Simple, right?” I mock her. “You said tests. That’s just one test.”

    “The other neuroimaging tests we might use for aphasia are inappropriate for your situation.” She sighs. Someone must have warned her, saying I’d act this way. “Are you ready to get started?”

    “I guess so.”

    “We will evaluate several components of language, such as spontaneous speech, naming, repetition, comprehension, reading and writing. Do you think that sounds okay?”

    “I can’t say I’m qualified to answer that question, but I can try if you really want me to.”

    She nods her head, then writes something down on the blank sheet in front of her. The blank sheet in front of her is no longer blank and I suppose that means I’m being tested already, even if I’m not answering any tough questions. She must be assessing my conversational abilities.

    “Well, go ahead and elaborate for me,” she says.

    I clear my throat for emphasis. It seems like as good a time as any to do so. “Aphasia encompasses the inability to communicate through speech or written language. I assume you want to test both.” I pause. No one answers. “That’s a yes! Write that one down.” The speech therapist, perhaps unconsciously, covers her paper with her flabby arms. She prompts me to go on. “Okay.” Hmm. This is tough. I know little about the subject. “Do I really have to do this?”

    Someone in the room coughs. This is getting awkward and we all know it. The speech therapist apparently realizes this above everyone else and so she pulls out a piece of paper from underneath her scoring sheet. She passes it to me. “Please tell me everything you can about this picture, Annie,” she says.

    It’s a picture of three people standing in a kitchen. A young boy is peering into a cookie jar while the mother isn’t looking. I make a joke about my sister stealing cookies from the cookie jar, but no one laughs. “Oh, and there’s a random girl in the corner with a shinx,” I say. It looks like they’re about to go outside and play fetch or something.”

    At this, the speech therapist smiles. “Thank you, Annie. Can you show me where your shoulder is?”

    “What?” She repeats the question. “It’s right here,” I say, pointing toward my shoulder confusedly. I glare at the occupational therapist again for making me go through such an ordeal. This is more tiresome than any pokémon journey.

    “And could you blink your eyes two times, please…” she says, absentmindedly writing down something about my performance.

    I blink my eyes twice, unhappily thinking about how my father asked me why I didn’t blink when I was comatose. I don't want to be comatose again, but ths lady is here, rubbing it in my face that yes, I was comatose

    “Can a stone sink in water, Annie?” the speech therapist asks, tapping her pencil impatiently. Am I being scored for delayed responses? Minus one for me, if so.

    “Yes.”

    We go on like this, with her asking about complex ideas, simple ones, then complex ones again, as if she’s trying to work my brain into a frenzy, kill it, and then revive it with some kind of machinery I’m not aware of. She asks me to recite the alphabet, then a single word, then an entire sentence… Pictures are brought in more than once, so that I can visually identify certain colors and numbers. Soon enough it’s strenuous, but just barely. Posters full of what looks like Braille are taken out and I’m instructed to decipher them like it’s no big deal. At the end, I’m asked to write elaborate stories about shoes, trees and other mundane objects. My subconscious forces me to write about a deerling stuck in a tree, like it’s a glameow needing a firefighter’s help getiting down and put back into my arms. At the end of the story, I’m given a new pair of shoes as some sort of condolence present, though nobody died.

    “I see no reason for further testing,” the speech therapist declares.

    Being smart is boring, sometimes. That’s what I think when it’s all over, anyway.

    But next is the physical therapist. I can’t escape them, the therapists. I’m in the middle of a sequence of long tests, and it seems they’re not too thrilled to be with me, either. I’m not sure why they chose the professions they did, but the occupational therapist in particular looks like he’s fit for an office job, where he can be boring, see the same people every day, and drink the same six cups of coffee while typing away mindlessly at a computer until his hands cramp.

    “Annie,” the physical therapist says. “Are you—”

    “Are you going to give me a massage? That’s what you guys do, right?” She looks like she could use a nice massage herself, but I don’t say that. “If not, I feel fine—”

    “Strokes are similar to car accidents,” she interrupts. “You may feel fine, but the effects may come later down the road, and by then it may be to late to fully heal. I’m only here to identify any problems before they come back to bite you later.”

    “Ah.” Her stern stone strikes me into speechlessness. If I took the aphasia test now, I’d fail. “Okay. So. We’re in a small room.”

    She looks at me dumbly.

    “How do I, you know, move?”

    “Well, give me a few moments and I'll let you know.” I silently tell her that she just had a whole hour to figure it out while I was doing other tests. I need to go! I need to start my journey for some godforsaken reason I can’t fully fathom.

    A few moments pass awkwardly. “Uh,” I say. Now I'm truly at a loss for words.

    “Okay,” she says. Isn’t she going to introduce herself? Now that I think about it, the speech therapist didn’t, either. The only man in the room better have some respectful manners. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

    Simple. “Two.”

    “Good. Can you touch my finger with your finger?”

    I can, and it feels like I’m bumping fists with a baby. Or maybe my sister. She has small hands for a girl, too. The physical therapist has me do this two more times in two different locations, one further away, and one closer to my nose. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a trick test or not. Then she moves her finger as she asks me to touch it, and I do so, going as fast as I can, as instructed. We do this five times.

    After that, she pulls out a small hammer-like object. Where did that come from? She tests my ankle reflexes as well as my knee reflexes, and I can’t help but giggle. I’m not doing this to be annoying.

    “Take your shoes off, please,” she says.

    I do so, and she measures the shape of my foot. Apparently, I have a normal foot, since she nods. Then suddenly it’s like I’m being inspected for weapons, as she moves her arms firmly but steadily along my arms, my hands, my legs.

    “Don’t look so glum,” she says. “You’re passing the test so far. I’m testing your body structure as well as making sure there’s no weakness anywhere.” She puts her hand against the back of my head. “Move your head against my hand, please.”

    I do so, though not too hard, in case she’s got it out for me and she’s going to move her hand, forcing me to fall backward. Then I have to hold my arms out and close my eyes. The idea is that, should I have my eyes closed, my balance will either remain intact or cause me to fall over, if my hands aren’t weak enough to provide balance.

    We go on like this, much like I did with the speech therapist. It’s not a fun test, nor is it boring, since it at least requires me to think listen and pay attention to my movements. It’s better than being in a coma, at least, but with the aphasia test, I was only acting out of almost automatically when I spoke, because things like cups and spoons and forks are—or used to be—everyday utensils I came in contact with.

    The physical therapist eventually nods and has nothing more to say. My strength is fine. My reflexes are fine. My bones are intact, doing their jobs, whatever. Good. Now can I get out of here and go home?

    Nope. The occupational therapist sits across from me at the tiniest table I have ever seen. If I didn’t mention how tiny the table was before, I should now. It might just be because he’s a bigger person and takes up more space, but I look around, nervous. There’s something odd about his presence, but I can’t quite place my finger on it, nor do I want to.

    “My name is Dr. Holster,” he says, reaching out his hand. I shake it. Rough and smooth, like he could be both a knife fighter and a lover at once. “Occupational therapist revolves around your hobbies, activities, jobs, school... “ He trails off, looking at some papers and sorting through them with his thumb. “It looks like you’re in school. Sophomore year. Psychology?”

    “Yes. I’m a therapist.” Or I wanted to be, before Kyurem to came to me. Of course, I can’t say such nonsense or I’ll be thrown into an asylum rather unwillingly, rather than voluntarily sending applications there, with all the works—letters of recommendation, resumés, transcripts…

    I’ll never get to do that now.

    I distract myself by judging the man in front of me. Dr. Holster. Neat goatee, recently cut brown hair with shaved sideburns, the works. Wears glasses. Yeah, he definitely needs an office job with a computer staring him in the face. And he’s wearing a plain black suit with a white undershirt, cuffed nicely and perfectly. His tie is blue. That’s his only semblance of personality. It tells me he must be a lonely man. How can you be lonely in a pokémon world? That’s an easy question. You put them in your pokéballs, or you don’t like pokémon at all.

    “Any minors?” he asks.

    “Mathematics and philosophy.”

    He looks perplexed. “Two minors? Very ambitious, I see.”

    “No. Cognitive science, with an emphasis on philosophy and mathematics classes on the side. But no one knows what that means, so I say what everyone understands.”

    He smiles a crooked smile. Ah, so he does have personality. “Though mathematics and philosophy, named alone, can be very confusing to some people.”

    “Logarithms and differentiation.” I name some topics off the top of my head. “Trigonometry is hard if you don’t have the right mindset for it. Philosophy is only hard if you’re closed minded and don’t want to accept anyone else’s views.”

    “What are your views, Miss Willems? That might help me work with you better.”

    I’m a selfish person. I do what is good for me, even at the expense of other people. I am impulsive because I immediately think that my desires are going to help me succeed someday—in what, I don’t know. Therapy? Not entirely, not anymore. I guess I’ll succeed in raising thickheaded little animals with special powers instead. “It’s a secret,” I say.

    He's not deterred. “And work?”

    “I work at the Little Scrafty Bar at the edge of town. The name is serious. It’s a little bar.”

    “Do you work alone?”

    “Not allowed. But if someone’s in the bathroom or something, I have a weapon on me… just in case.’

    “Would you say you’re skilled in self-defense?”

    “Not at all. I’m clumsy, I guess. But it’s comforting.”

    “Anything else?”

    “I scare away customers with stories of my life, so generally I stay reserved. You know, for the money.”

    “You don’t seem reserved now,” he says. He takes off his glasses and rubs them with his cuffs. I wonder if that’s a sign that I’m intimidating him. I look at the speech therapist, who has a perturbed look on her face. Dr. Holster’s comment must have been an understatement.

    “Yeah. I’m alive. That’s something to cheer for, I guess.”

    “And you’ve chosen to go on a pokémon journey. In Sinnoh.”

    “What’s wrong with Sinnoh?” If there’s something wrong with Sinnoh, like high crime rates or rough winters, I don’t have much of a choice but to stay and fight him on this one.

    “Oh, nothing.” Good. That’s what I want to hear. “Some people like to see newer sights, not places they could go to for vacation.”

    “A journey is a very tough and very serious vacation.”

    “Something like that. All right, so here’s what you’re going to have to do…”

    He goes through a list, and it looks like I really do need occupational therapy. Anyone could benefit from it, to be honest, but he’s persistent because, as as a stroke patient, I’m at-risk for more strokes and other health concerns. He doubts I know how to take care of myself in an emergency, and it’s true. I don’t.

    At the end of the meeting, the physical therapist and speech therapist say I’m not eligible for their services, and I’ll be all right as long as I don’t have another stroke. If I have problems for some reason or another, I need to return to Sandgem Town immediately.

    Dr. Holster, on the other hand, keeps me even later and expands on hs list.

    “If you’re going to be my little sidekick for this journey, I need to know your name! I keep thinking of you as, you know, occupational therapist. OT. And that’s not right,” I say.

    “Oh, Ms. Willems…” He folds his hands dramatically. “You’ve forgotten my name already?”

    “Well, no, but I’d like to know your first name. We’re going to be friends from now on.” As long as he stops looking at me with that boring face of his. All jokes aside, though, I’m going to need him in the upcoming months. Maybe even for years.

    “Are we? That sounds a little scary.” He chuckles. “Well, dear, my name is Gregory.”

    I ignore his quipping. “Greg for short?”

    “Just Gregory is fine. Makes me sound younger than I actually am.”

    “I know what you mean.... The name Annie makes me sound like a two year old for life. Do OTs do anything for that?”

    Another chuckle. “I don’t think so. Knowing you, though, you’ll make these tasks a bit more fun than the other test you just took.”

    I shake his hand again. I’m looking forward to this new part of my life.

    *

    I put things into motion as soon as I can. The first step is to visit my school adviser. The adviser, a man with a bushy beard who’s rather spacey and prone to starng, tells me very slowly the classes I’ve failed due to my prolonged absence: sociology of death, psycholinguistics, psychopharmacology... It would be hard to raise my GPA, but not impossible. Personal statements for graduate school will have to be extremely well written if I want to make an impression, he says. I forget how long I was comatose, but this puts the time frame into some sort of perspective. I wait until he’s done spewing the bad news, then I give my own. “I’m dropping out.” There’s no argument. He thinks it’s the better option, really.

    My parents are more exhausted by the fact I spent so much money going to college only to depart without maximum knowledge of the psychology field. They feel it was all a waste.

    “I don’t think that’s true,” I say. “Psychology matters in everyday situations. Right now, for example,
    I’m using structured statements to tell you how I feel without offending you. I’m trying to make you feel better by expressing myself in the best way possible.” I say psychlogy helps me with evaluating personalities, other peoples’ motivations, dangerous situations and much, much more. All applicable traits to hvae for traveling, right? My parents nod.

    “We won’t doubt you, Annie,” my mother says. “But with the hospital bills on top of student loans…”

    “I know,” I say. “I know you can’t pay anymore.”

    “Well, pokémon training presents a lot of opportunities to earn money. She’ll be all right,”my father says, rubbing my mother’s shoulders in a reassuring way. “She has a savings account she can pick at, too.”

    I have a few thousand dollars in my savings, which is an accumulation of Christmas gifts, selling old video game systems, and working part-time at the bar. This is where my occupational therapy starts, and I’m glad I’ve done it within the second week of work. Gregory tells me I’m allowed five housand pokédollars a week. I have to convert my regular cash into pokédollars on my own—seeing if I’m capable is part of the process. I do the estimates in my head, then I withdraw my money after making calls to see if the Master Ball Bank is located in other towns, too. I exchange the cash for pokédollars, which can be used in any Pokémon Center, pokémart, or for specific items in superstores.

    I buy a backpack that rests on my hips nicely even when full, and I fill it to the brim with necessitities. I buy dry, light food like pasta, rice, cereal bars, beef jerky and a bag of nuts. A canteen is needed, too, as well as some matches, a lighter, a spare pair of clothes… I spend an hour debating about the sleeping bag, but in the end I decide to go with it. I don’t know how big my pokémon will be, so I don’t buy a tent. I buy a first-aid kit at Gregory’s request, some strings and cords, baggies for leftover food, eating utensils. Finally, I go for some waterproof boots, but I’ve tried those before for outdoor school activities and they're never actualy waterproof. I get waterproof socks instead and some new shoes, which I’ll have to break in before I depart. If my feet are messed up I’m going to have a hard time.

    I think I’m set. I’m not. There’s more for me to do, says my oh-so-wonderful occupational therapist.

    The next part involves more hands-on training. He wants me to do things a normal trainer might do, except he wants me to stay in Sandgem Town for the time being. I’m impatient, but I have to do what I need to do. During the first couple days, we practice lighting fires in the north end of town. We walk around and he points out dry pieces of tinder that will do the job. Along the way we search for firewood, and he explains that I should find thin wood as well as wood thick as my arm. Or maybe his arm, considering how much weight I’ve lost while in the coma. Branches on trees won’t work unless they snap immediately, without resistance. He makes a bow, a drill, a socket and a coal catcher, all with forest materials alone. The fire starts after he goes over a few more instructions. And then it’s my turn. Naturally, I forget a few steps, and I’m instructred once more, then I’m told to try it myself. I do so and succeed. The time it takes to do everything in the span of a few hours makes me hope a fire-type from Unova will show its face quickly.

    Next comes finding clean water. Maybe I’ll need a water-type, too, but I’m not sure how Kyurem plans these things. Gregory advises me to drink more water if there’s high winds, and the some due to my stroke risks. I take notes: always sleep near a river or lake or spring, purify the water first, follow wild pokémon if I’m lost, collect rainwater if possible, and then boil the water for ten minutes to get rid of harmful bacteria. I find this easier than lighting fires, but I refuse to drink the water until Gregory’s approved it. Just in case.

    Socializing comes last. For this, I ask him to wait. I’ve learned so much in a few days, I need a break. And it’s true. I need some time alone. One last night in Leavanny Park.

    *

    I have strange nightly routines. I slept in my mother’s bed every night after being released from the hospital. I feel sorry for my father, who's been sleeping on the couch. I know it hurts his back, but my old room is where I fell into the coma. I don’t need to go in there to be reminded of the terror of that day, the terror of not knowing whether or not you’re dying, or if something’s wrong at all. I guess when you’re mentally or physically sick, your body and mind trick you into thinking nothing’s wrong at all. It’s natural to lose your balance. It’s okay to think you’re having hallucinations. It’s okay to call your mother and scream at her hysterically until she comes home and determines something’s wrong for you.

    But Leavanny Park is fine. There are no reminders in Leavanny Park. I mean, the swingset and the monkey bars and whatever make me wish I was young again. But I'm an older sister. That means I have to get over it and do whatever it is adults need to do, which, for me, apparently means saving pokémon who are in dire need of saving. Kyurem needs to explain that further, whenever I see it next. Which I hope is soon. The passiveness I felt in that dream… I shiver just thinking about it. It’s February and I have a jacket on, but that’s not the point.

    The point is that winter is almost over and I won’t be lulled into that passiveness anymore. Summer will come and inspire me to work, to try hard, and my parents won’t be able to keep up with me, nor my sister, nor Gregory. Gregory will discover, most of all, what it's like to be with me, in person and over the phone. Either way, it’s hard and he has no idea what he’s getting into.

    The winter reminds me, harshly but truthfully, that this world seems useless. My body, especially after recent events, is useless. I could say the conversations I had with the doctors, my parents and Kyurem never existed. I can say their responses were a figment of my imagination, a ploy to trick my mind into thinking it was being acknowledged and used. What if I willed everyone away? What if I willed myself to walk through a black void with no destination known? What if I didn’t die, but merely abandoned my physical body?

    These ideas come to me through my senses, from my surroundings. That’s what Leavanny Park does to me. The monkey bars tell me to let go. The slides tell me I’m a rollercoaster of eccentricies. Going home tells me this is the last night I’ll have with my shadow, because who knows what tomorrow will bring?

    If only I could will everyone else away. My body can’t be thought away, nor my thoughts themselves, nor anyone else, even if I ignore the phone during my journey, even if I don’t recall their faces… If only the outside of me could remain here, and my mind could travel and reform the pokémon… Then I’d accomplish more than anyone else possibly could. Infinite is a terrible word unless you’re using it to describe yourself.

    I need comfort. That’s why the physical world exists. Why else would a mind, if it were alone in the universe, imagine there to be millions of civilians, millions of miles away? At least when I was in a coma I didn’t need comfort. I had no senses while I was in a coma. But yet, illogically, I didn’t ask myself, “Why aren’t things normal?” And then there’s another sad question: exactly how much did I miss out on? It would take years of dividing myself until I could make up for the time I lost. A mathematician never dreams of a line so short than it cannot be divided into two shorter lines, nor of an angle so small it cannot be bisected. But what about my body? May it be split in half, and then may it be split in half again, then again, so that I am the smallest piece in everything?

    If I’m following Epicurean philosophy, I could do that. To him I have three souls: the lowest one in my diaphragm, the next one in my chest, near my heart, and the highest, near the brain, is in my head. To him my soul consists of fine, smooth and round atoms, which are also atoms of fire. Imagine, a fire that might really appear like that… In my brain they give me thought; in my heart they give me the ability to feel anger; in my liver they allow me to feel desire for alcohol and life in general; and so on. Life lasts as long as I breathe these atoms. In and out. In and out. Involuntarily during rest, and voluntarily during speech. Perhaps Kyurem only gave me more of those atoms and called it a day.

    But my mind is racing and making me think too deeply. The mind could be a substance, not like a drug or alcohol, but boy, I could really go for a cigarette right now.

    I know the thoughts in my mind take up no space in the world, nor do they take up any portion of time in a meaningful sense… In this, at least, I am limitless, as long as I don’t consider myself inferior as well.

    ...It’s getting late. I go home. On this journey, I’ll just have to make sure I’m as happy, as full, as knowledgable as only I can be.

    *

    “So basically you’re going to have me be a trainer without a pokemon,” I say to Gregory the next day. I’ve been instructed to travel one route, battle wild pokémon and trainers, and then stay the night in a Pokémon Center. This, of course, makes no sense to me. What about my starter? “I won’t accept the traditional starter, so don’t try to pull that on me.”

    “Why not?” His expression is skeptical, as if was going to give me a pokémon as a present today.

    “I have my reasons,” I say. How cryptic can I be while still getting away with it?

    “Ah, the kind of prideful trainer that wants to catch her first pokemon on her own…” Gregory nods. “I see those kinds of trainers a lot.”

    “Yeah. That’s it.” I stare blankly.

    “All right.” He pulls out a pokéball, a plain red and white one. A plan pokéball for a plain man. “I’ll let you borrow my snivy.”

    “Your what?”

    “My snivy. His name is Nate.” Gregory presses the pokéball’s middle button, making the sphere enlarge. He presses it again, releasing its contents. A green, bipedal lizard appears. It has dull eyes, like most pokemon do, and yellow eyelids to bring home the point. Its yellow crest contrasts its reddish eyes, and the short tail it has reminds me of a three-leaf clover. Its cream-colored underbelly extends up to its mouth. Its blood red tongue flickers.

    “A… snivy. Right. It’s yours.”

    “Yes. He's my starter. He's the most behaved out of all my pokémon, and he’s very quiet around strangers. He shouldn’t bother you at all.”

    “And his name is Nate.”

    “Yes.”

    “Why would you give him a human name? Can’t you be more creative than that?” I ask, folding my arms.

    “It was just the first name I thought of. Does it matter?” He shrugs and hides his face away from me. He seems offended, but I can’t tell for sure.

    “Yeah! I mean… Seriously, Gregory, pokémon and humans co-exist, but not to that extent!”

    “He’ll be good for you.” He bends down and scratches the snivy underneath its snout. Nate smiles and lets out a stifled giggle. He really is quiet. I wouldn’t be able to understand him if he talked, anyway, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. “Anyway,” Gregory continues, “I want you to record your experiences. Write down every emotion you feel, and every reaction to have to anything that seems new to you. Do you want me to go over the chart?”

    He hands the chart to me, and I spend all of five seconds looking over it before confidently saying, “Nah.”

    “All right,” he says. “Be good to Nate. Nate wll be good to you.”

    “I get it!” I say. But what about my own starter? Where am I supposed to find him? Or her? Well, I'll worry about that later.

    I grab Nate by his little paws and drag him out of my house. I drag him down the driveway until I remember I can’t leave Gregory, a strange man, alone in my house, free to roam and steal things if he wishes. I go back, say goodbye sheepishly, lock the door. And then we’re off.

    *

    In total, I battle five trainers, then I decide that’s enough for one pokémon in the span of twenty four hours. I lose once, but I don’t consider it official or fair—Nate is weak to fire-types and he’s my only option. At times I find myself lost just watching him fight, then I come back to reality. I’m a part of this, too. That fact sinks in when I collect my prize money and shake the hand of my opponent, talking about how we’ll find each other in the future and fight with evolved pokémon and with a bigger team.

    Nate does well, though. He listens to me as if he’s been with me for years. His attacks are swift and he can take a hit. I wish I could communicate with him to make the trip better, but he doesn’t say anything since the point is moot.

    “Are you tired?” I ask him. We’re sitting on a bench underneath a lamppost, watching trainers hang their heads low as they pass us. They must have fainted pokémon or no money left to spare. It’s such a shame, but it seems like the battling section of the day is over.

    Nate nods to me and rubs his belly for emphasis.

    “Being hungry and tired are not the same thing, buddy,” I tell him. “But I’ll take you to get food and rest anyway.”

    So I take Nate to the Pokémon Center at the end of the route. The lobby is full of trainers showing off to each other, and I join the crowd, accidentally bumping into a large, angry krookodile in the process. It must have just lost a battle. I make a mental note to stay away from it.

    The snivy's not mine, but he might as well be, considering his display of loyalty. He stands on his tiptoes and appears taller than the others, or at least tries to. He pounds his chest in a proud manner, and everyone gets a kick out of it, clapping and applauding and asking for a show of attacks. I’m prepared to join the showing off session until I realize we haven’t eaten yet. I tell them to bug off and go to pick on another pokémon. But then I see Nate's joking side when he taps the krookodile on the shoulder and then runs away. My mouth opens in shock. Nate is, overall, a happy, healthy pokéon. There are no dangers here—unless you count the krookodile chasing him around the middle of the lobby.

    Another trainer advises me to rent a room for the night before the Pokémon Center is full. I jump to my feet and march straight to the counter, where I meet a pink-haired lady named Nurse Joy. I’ve heard stories about the Pokémon Center nurses, how they’re all related and in the same profession, just in different towns and different regons. Later I write down a note about how I’ll have to avoid treating them like they’re robots, because that’s my first impression.

    She checks me into my room, offers me the key. “Room 233, on the second floor!” she says in a too happy tone.

    The night itself is peaceful, but I can’t sleep. I’ve done that for so long, after all, so I write down therapy notes like I would if Nate were my patient and I prepare a treatment plan for him. I fake negative raits and make a point to say they’re false: his pride is too prideful, he’s too short for a snivy and he has a complex about it, and other absurd sayings. But I wish Nate were a little more sinister, so that I could see what I’d truly be dealing with. I cross out the treatment plans that says he needs some kind of light therapy. I lay on my side when I’m done, scratching the snivy’s tail lightly, watching his chest rise and fall as he sleeps.

    It might just be the joy I get out of simply living, but… I could get used to this.
    Last edited by diamondpearl876; 17th November 2014 at 2:43 AM.

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


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


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


  3. #3
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    This is really good stuff! I just want to say that I really like your writing style, and how believable Annie is. It's really cool how realistic you're taking this journey thing too; that's somewhat uncommon from what I've seen. It's so inspiring to read hahaha. Also, the Kyurem thing was really cool! Definitely had me hooked. If there's a PM list, I'd love to be on it, but I'm subscribing anyways, so that'll work too. xD Good job with this! I'm so excited to see where you go with this. I hope this isn't going to be one of those dead end fics hahaha

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  4. #4
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    Okay, this has to be one of the most fascinating journey-fic openings I have ever read. I haven't had a chance to comment on any of your stories before-hand, but I've always liked what I've seen. Might as well start with this one.

    Since there are two "chapters" here, I won't be explicitly quoting the material. However, I will try to talk about as much as I can.

    First, the prologue.

    You...actually had me kind of worried for a second. For a good bit of the chapter, ESPECIALLY after the explicit mentioning of Kyurem, I was reminded just a bit too much of Clichéstorm. Sure, Annie was extremely likable and goofy, but then again, so was Hilda in Ysavvryl's story.

    That is, until the bombshell. The twist that Annie was dying was absolutely out of nowhere in the best way possible. The almost dream-like nature of her meeting with Kyurem and their conversation could be easily equated to a dream in a coma, or a near-death experience, and I freaking love that! That part of their conversation was easily the highlight of the two chapters for me.

    Her "briefing" on her mission and the "wager" of sorts were also very interesting, but still simple enough to wrap my head around. Journey in Sinnoh, catch Unova pokémon, save your own life. That works. But, again, what made Annie's acceptance of the task memorable is her simple line, "I have nothing to lose." She knows it's outlandish and crazy, but she really doesn't have a choice in the matter. So freakin' cool!

    Then onto Chapter 1.

    Again, the parts of the chapter that aren't actually related to pokémon are, at least for me, the highlights. Learning how she was going to function as a trainer was good, but it's all stuff we've read before. That can't be helped, though, as most journey-fics start the same. What kept me going, though, were all the bits related to the consequences of her stroke. (By the way, you get bonus points for using a legitimate source of a prolonged coma. Nice touch.) Her dropping out of college, the constant worrying over relapses, the fact that she wouldn't want to sleep after being in a coma, it all builds her character so well!

    ...Which leads to my one issue with this chapter. The supporting characters. Admittedly, I haven't seen a whole lot of them so far, but from what's there, I'm not interested in them at all. Maybe they're just there for the beginning, but I'd love to know more about them, especially Annie's parents.

    But really, I'm nitpicking. This is a fantastic start to a journey-fic. The premise is interesting, and Annie is probably one of the most fascinating characters I have ever seen on Serebii. I definitely want to come along for the ride. If there's a PM list, put me on it!

    -Phalanx, out.
    Hi there! I have a fic! There's dimension-hopping shenanigans (thanks for that, Jax)!

    Pokémon: Convergence

    Hope you like it!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jstinftw! View Post
    This is really good stuff! I just want to say that I really like your writing style, and how believable Annie is. It's really cool how realistic you're taking this journey thing too; that's somewhat uncommon from what I've seen. It's so inspiring to read hahaha. Also, the Kyurem thing was really cool! Definitely had me hooked. If there's a PM list, I'd love to be on it, but I'm subscribing anyways, so that'll work too. xD Good job with this! I'm so excited to see where you go with this. I hope this isn't going to be one of those dead end fics hahaha
    Thank you! I think Annie's one of my most well rounded characters, and I quite like the first person. I have up to chapter 6 written and about 75% of the fic outlined, so I don't -think- it'll be a dead end fic.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    Okay, this has to be one of the most fascinating journey-fic openings I have ever read. I haven't had a chance to comment on any of your stories before-hand, but I've always liked what I've seen. Might as well start with this one.
    I like hearing that people have read my other work and are continuing to read. Thank you. :~)

    You...actually had me kind of worried for a second. For a good bit of the chapter, ESPECIALLY after the explicit mentioning of Kyurem, I was reminded just a bit too much of Clichéstorm. Sure, Annie was extremely likable and goofy, but then again, so was Hilda in Ysavvryl's story.
    I've never read that fic but I do know Ysavvryl is well known around here.

    That is, until the bombshell. The twist that Annie was dying was absolutely out of nowhere in the best way possible. The almost dream-like nature of her meeting with Kyurem and their conversation could be easily equated to a dream in a coma, or a near-death experience, and I freaking love that! That part of their conversation was easily the highlight of the two chapters for me.
    I'm glad you like the twist. I wanted to incorporate a certain disease I've dealt with in a family member, and Annie seemed to be the perfect fit for it, as horrible as that sounds. I'm mean to my characters.

    Her "briefing" on her mission and the "wager" of sorts were also very interesting, but still simple enough to wrap my head around. Journey in Sinnoh, catch Unova pokémon, save your own life. That works. But, again, what made Annie's acceptance of the task memorable is her simple line, "I have nothing to lose." She knows it's outlandish and crazy, but she really doesn't have a choice in the matter. So freakin' cool!
    Nothing to lose indeed.

    Again, the parts of the chapter that aren't actually related to pokémon are, at least for me, the highlights. Learning how she was going to function as a trainer was good, but it's all stuff we've read before. That can't be helped, though, as most journey-fics start the same. What kept me going, though, were all the bits related to the consequences of her stroke. (By the way, you get bonus points for using a legitimate source of a prolonged coma. Nice touch.) Her dropping out of college, the constant worrying over relapses, the fact that she wouldn't want to sleep after being in a coma, it all builds her character so well!
    Thank you! I haven't experienced comas myself so I'm glad it seems to fit well.

    ...Which leads to my one issue with this chapter. The supporting characters. Admittedly, I haven't seen a whole lot of them so far, but from what's there, I'm not interested in them at all. Maybe they're just there for the beginning, but I'd love to know more about them, especially Annie's parents.
    Gregory and Nate will come back, but probably not her parents. I explore parents in another fic and it's not my favorite subject to touch.

    But really, I'm nitpicking. This is a fantastic start to a journey-fic. The premise is interesting, and Annie is probably one of the most fascinating characters I have ever seen on Serebii. I definitely want to come along for the ride. If there's a PM list, put me on it!
    Done. Thank you for commenting.

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


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


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


  6. #6
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    May 2007
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    LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES


    chapter two
    at first sight

    *

    On my own time, I visit the library. Kyurem had specifically mentioned Unovan pokémon, right? He didn't think it was a good idea to say what species, what their personalities were, or anything else. All I know is that, here in Sinnoh, Unova species aren't very popular. So I sit at a wide table and read there. I don't want to take the books out of the building in case my parents or Gregory see them. I wouldn't have an explanation for that.

    I memorize Unovan pokémon by their physical features rather than their specialties and typing. Things like that won't matter, but what if I end up with a dark-type team? Well, stranger things have been known to happen. For example, I realize that snivy is a Unovan pokémon. I'll have to ask Gregory eventually about his origins and traveling expertise, if we ever grow that close. He doesn't seem entertaining, but he could be a knowledgeable ally. Then again, I'm not sure if Kyurem would approve of human assistance on such an important mission...

    In the midst of my thoughts I skip a page. I turn back, am surprised by how emotionless these pictures look, yet there's some variety. There's a black and white dancing pokémon wearing bows, and next in line are her evolutions, followed by a green ball of psychic power that reminds me of jell-o. And then—a water- and flying-type pokémon? Fighting an electric-type with that thing would be a nightmare, but an interesting challenge nonetheless. With the countless choices here, though, I can't foresee a specific battle, partner, or anything else.

    I close the book and sigh. I'm leaving tomorrow. Everything from here on out will be due to luck, or fate, whichever exists. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet.

    *

    As promised, I confront my younger sister before I go. I'm ready to walk out the door at a moment's notice, with sneakers strapped on, backpack closed tight and a pokéball in hand. I do this because I'm expecting my sister to fall on her knees, begging me to stay like the little kid she no longer is. Ah, well. What will be will be, I think, and I call Renee downstairs.

    “You're leaving already?” Renee says quietly. She's putting her blonde hair in a bun, but at the realization she lets it fall lazily on her shoulders.

    “Yeah. Gotta go before it's dark.”

    “It's nine in the morning, Annie.”

    “Tell me about it.”

    Renee manages a small smile. She walks down the last set of stairs and stops at the railing, holding on to it for dear life. “I can't wait to go on my own pokémon journey someday.”

    “Start at twenty. You can be a late bloomer like me. They'll all look at you like you're tough at first, then when they see you have just a caterpie, they'll deadpan.”

    “I'd be embarrassed, actually...” Renee says, blushing.

    I fidget with the pokéball in my hand. “I'm ready for it,” I say, and I'm not even sure what I mean. I'm being myself for the sake of my sister—random and (hopefully) amusing.

    “Good to know you won't let them bring you down,” Renee says. I can see the tears coming. “Seriously...”

    “Hey, now. Don't cry.” But it's too late. Renee's sobbing and nearly hyperventilating from the pressure of saying goodbye. I sigh. If my sister ever went on a journey, how would she deal with accidents? How would she deal with in-the-moment dangers? I want to stay and see Renee's confidence grow, but I don't have the time. “I'd like to think that the worst is over. So I don't see what you're crying about. Gonna miss me? Fine! Write letters to me and invest in a flying-type to send them to me. Sleep in my room if you want to.”

    “I-I can do that?” Renee says, sniffling.

    “Yeah. Why not?”

    “Just last month you said—”

    “Shush. Forget about that. That was just me showing some sisterly love.”

    “In the worst way possible...”

    “Exactly.” I pause. “Did you know we had a deerling once?”

    “No.”

    “I don't remember much, either. You were probably too young. But I bet I used to be mean and tell it to knock you over when you were learning to walk. Sorry about that.”

    “Annie!” Renee gasps.

    I laugh. I set my belongings down, knowing I'll have to pick them back up in a minute. I hug my sister for a long time, squeeze her, then let her go. “I'll keep you guys updated,” I say. I know I'm lying, but I can't help but reassure her. “When you meet my pokémon, you'll be glad I was gone. They'll be the cutest things you've ever seen.”

    “Caterpie aren't cute.”

    “Says you.” In truth, I don't think a caterpie could be all that menacing. I'm safe. “Well, I guess I'll be going now... I already said good-bye to Mom and Dad, so...”

    Renee nods and runs upstairs to hide her face from further embarrassment. I shake my head. When I saw Renee for the first time after being released from the hospital, the meeting hadn't been as happy as I thought. Renee's eyes sparkled and she nearly fell over in shock, but there was that knowing in her voice, like she was anticipating me to leave again. And I'm not the type to send messages home or call every day... Maybe I could try harder and make exceptions, but my hands are full and I haven't even stepped out the door.

    For Renee and my parents, it would be as if I never woke up to begin with.

    *

    Route 202, my first destination, my first travel escapade, isn't as daunting as it should be. In fact, it's downright annoying, because I'm challenged to a battle right away.

    “Hey!” a young boy calls to me almost as soon as I see the route sign. He runs up to me, chimchar in tow. Oh, no. That ball of fire behind him tells me he’s looking for a pokmon battle, I just know it. I know the rules: eye contact and a verbal challenge means I have to battle or forfeit my money.

    “Oh, hey,” I say nonchalantly, hoping my disinterest will encourage him to go away.

    “I just got my starter! What about you?” He keeps running up to me, then stops short and looks at me oddly. “Oh... You seem a little older…”

    “How old are you, kid?” I smirk at him. Maybe my age can be an intimidating factor.

    “Twelve.”

    “I’m twenty. Respect your elders, please.”

    “But I want to battle someone! Char Char is so new, and…”

    “Wait.” I reach forward with my arm and place my hand over his mouth. “Char Char?”

    The boy, with his mouth covered, looks frightened. I let go and he says shakily, “M-My starter… My chimchar.”

    The boy's worse than Gregory, it seems. “Uh huh. Well, kid, I have no pokémon, so move along now.”

    The boy’s confidence comes back. “But I challenged you to a battle! You can’t turn that down.”

    “Ah, let me pull out an imaginary pokéball, release my imaginary pokémon and we can have an imaginary battle. How does that sound?”

    “Uh,” the boy falters. “Sounds like you owe me some money.”

    “Is that really how it works?” I say sarcastically. I finger my wallet in my pocket and realize I only have four hundred pokédollars on me. It seems like I’ll have to give up half of that. It was smart of me to leave some of it in the bank in case something like this happened. Not that I expected something like this to happen almost immediately.

    “Yeah! You didn’t know that? And you’re old!”

    “How am I supposed to fight without any pokémon, kid?

    “You don’t. You give me money.”

    What a cunning twelve-year-old boy. What a devious, conniving, evil twelve-year-old boy. I hand him the two hundred pokédollars and shoo him away.

    When he disappears with a very disappointed chimchar, I take out my cell phone and find Gregory’s number. I call him and impatiently wait for the phone to ring. I secretly tail the young boy in case I find out I wasn’t supposed to give him my money after all.

    Finally, Gregory answers.

    “Annie? Are you in trouble already? You know you’re supposed to use your pokédex emergency button for that—”

    “No! I’m not in trouble,” I say, rolling my eyes. As if I’d really get into trouble within five minutes of leaving Sandgem Town. “I think I just got robbed.”

    “Annie, being robbed means you are in trouble—”

    “I mean… Is it legal to take someone’s money if they don’t have pokémon?”

    “Oh. No starter yet?”

    Well, he calmed down considerably fast. “Nope.”

    “Ah. Well, it’s legal. Sorry Why don’t you have a—”

    I end the call before Gregory has a chance to ask me about my starter. We agreed to keep in contact as I travel. He explained to me that he has a psychic-type and can teleport to me in an instant as long as his pokémon has an item of clothing to track my scent. I left behind a pair of shorts that no longer fit and besides, it's too cold for shorts anyway.

    “You can summon me day or night in case of an emergency, in case you feel stroke symptoms coming on, or if you need protection from a stronger enemy... Anything goes,” he had said.

    Well, isn't this an emergency? I need a pokémon—and fast. For me, it's harder than it sounds. I can't think of anyone else on a journey who's this restricted. Six pokémon in this giant, vast region are waiting for me. They could be anywhere. I might be broke by the time I find my starter....

    I wonder if I can break an unspoken rule and catch a temporary starter until I find a pokémon from Unova. I hadn't been able to ask Kyurem these questions and now I'm regretting it and cursing Arceus under my breath. Then there's the matter of commitment. When you catch a pokémon, you keep it. You raise it and take care of it. You don't dump it when it seems convenient. Geez. Morals and ethics are terrible things. I have to do this on my own.

    I start my search. Sandgem Town's sandy terrain has given way to a forest-like area with shifting patterns of light, and I have to look up before I go any further. So I look to the sun-dappled sky, shielding my eyes with my hands, to see starly flying in a group and singing their morning calls. I see some perched on scattered oak tree branches, too, and I stretch to see if I can find a different flying-type among them. There isn't one.

    I had been warned about tall grass. Dive in and be prepared to meet a horde of pokémon. Well, I'm more prepared now than I've ever been, if I do say so myself. I meet some bidoof, which choose to gnaw on my shoes instead of fleeing. I kick them off as gently as possible. Their teeth chatter violently and I'm afraid for my feet, even if they're covered with shoes.

    I run away and ram straight into a tree trunk covered with moss. It feels sticky and wet beneath my fingers, and I use a water bottle from my backpack to wash it off. There's no way I'm going to catch my starter with dirty fingers.

    Dirty clothes are inevitable, though, so I take desperate measures and crawl through the grass on my hands and knees, hoping there's not a small bug-type I miss. Instead I bump into an unsuspecting shinx when I'm not paying attention and I take a scratch to the face. How could it not have heard my rustling? Not to mention the cries I let out after my knees dropped against sharp pine cones and hard acorns.

    “Lovely,” I say, rubbing away the slight blood on my face. “One hour into my journey and I'm already being robbed by trainers and attacked by wild pokémon...”

    My voice trails off as I hear a musical instrument. It sounds like the violin, or maybe like the cello. I'm not musically inclined, to say the least. I don't get to figure it out, since the noise stops when I finish speaking. I say nonsense words and the music goes on, a melodic masterpiece if I've ever heard one. I move through the route, looking for the source, and eventually I run into a kricketot.

    “You're not from Unova,” I say, disappointed.

    The pokémon's antennae perk up and rub together, creating more music. I hum along and the kricketot seems joyful and content with me until the two of us encounter a battle. The trainers are yelling and the kricketot seems to like the loudness, so it leaves me alone and joins the chaos.

    “I'm going to look stupid doing this, but...” I say to myself, then I get down to business. I look under a grey rock, surprised by its heaviness despite its small size. There's nothing there but a group of caterpie, which makes me feel homesick...

    I avoid rocks after that.

    Climbing trees is another option, but I snap a fragile branch and fall a few feet. I'm bruised but I try once more. I'm suddenly in patrat territory, scared out of my wits. To get out of there I have to give a long winded speech about how there's some delicious Pecha berries on the bushes below. They listen, and I get the hell out of there.

    The sparkling azure of a nearby stream invites me next. I step in and swim with my clothes on (I don't need anyone to steal them). All the water-types are from Sinnoh. At least their water gun attacks are ineffective here.

    It takes days of avoiding trainers, eating by myself, and stalking water-types for easy, clean drinks, but I finally find my starter.

    The pokémon—another insect—stands on eight legs. Its body is mostly colored a reddish shade of purple, aside from its green abdomen and the black rings randomly spread around. Its yellow-and-black eyes are dull and the hump on its back reminds me of old people.

    I recognize it as a venipede.

    The venipede is relaxing by a tree trunk, feeling moss with its antennae, as if there's something interesting about the texture or smell. I suck in a breath, afraid to exhale and scare it away. It could scamper up the tree and trap itself, but I'm too slow to catch up. And if it runs into the bushes, then I'm doomed.

    “I knew he wouldn't let me go on forever without a pokémon, but what do I do now?” I whisper to myself. It's a bad habit I've quickly developed after being on my own and stuck in my own mind for too long.

    The venipede stops moving. “I'm not stupid. I can hear you,” it says. I assume the bug-type is a male due to its deeper voice. I hadn't expected pokémon to have individual voices like humans.

    In fact, I didn't expect to understand pokémon at all.

    “Y-Yeah... I mean, I don't think you're stupid, but sometimes I do this thing...” I trail off. I'm talking to a pokémon and I'm making myself look ridiculous at the same time.

    “Uh-huh. Who's he?”

    “He?”

    “Whatever asshole you were just mumbling about.”

    His profanity throws me off even more. Already I can see he's crass. If I can unravel his secrets right away, I'd make great progress...

    Before that, I have to answer him.

    I can tell him about Kyurem, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Lying isn't the way to begin a friendship, either. I aim for the former and says, “You know. Kyurem.” At best, he'll think I'm crazy. At worst, he'll take me seriously and Kyurem will punish me.

    Gambling isn't my strong suit, but he says, “Oh, so you're one of those religious fanatics who thinks Arceus is the only fucking thing worth living for.”

    “You know me...” I say, nearly breathing a sigh of relief.

    “I don't know you. And I'd rather not. Besides, what makes you think Kyurem is male?”

    I know legendaries are usually genderless. How can I explain that Kyurem had sounded male? That would be a dead giveaway.

    The venipede spares me this train of thought and continues, “I'd prefer to think of Genesect as female myself.”

    “Why?”

    “Her figure reminds me of a human female.” He stares at me. “Much like yourself, actually. ...Now you just ruined the image for me. Fuck you, too.”

    I smile at him. “You're welcome.”

    “So are you going to whip out your almighty team and fight me or what? Trainers like you always show off to us weaker species.”

    I emerge from my hiding spot and face him. “What makes you think I have pokémon?”

    “You can understand my speech. Only veteran trainers are capable of that.”

    “I-I actually don't have any pokémon...” I admit. I lift up my arm in a victory pose. “But I have my fists! And my spirit.”

    The venipede laughs harshly. “You're a loser coming to take on more than you can handle! Well, you
    have to fight me if you want me on your team, which is a fucking joke, because you have nothing to fight me with. Not to mention I'm not afraid to kill you.”

    I huff. The venipede is also dangerously perceptive. We've known each other for ten minutes at most and he's already threatened my life. I take a few steps back. My mortality is what hurts most, after all. Kyurem hadn't made this mission seem dangerous or threatening, but now that I think about it, it's meant to be this way. This is a huge risk I'm taking and I'm not even sure if it's worth it...

    The venipede is a bug-type, though. They aren't known to be that powerful, and if I'm in deep trouble, I can call Gregory as a last resort.

    I regain my confidence and nod.

    “Hah! Suit yourself.” His antennae perk up eagerly. He had been using those when I found him, too... If I could restrain them somehow...

    He lunges at me. Since he has more legs, it makes sense for him to kick off easier, but I'm not prepared. I barely dodge him by the time he reaches me, his take down attack fully charged. He isn't able to stop himself before he crashes into a tree. With this I see my only chance of winning. I have to wear him down or make him hurt himself. It's a battle of endurance.

    The venipede uses a long range attack next. Out of his antennae come two sharp needles aimed toward me. I drop to the ground and stay there, hoping he can't control their direction. With a little training, he might be able to, but as it is, they disappear in the underbrush behind me.

    “You're such a pro at dodging,” the venipede says, rolling his eyes. “When will you do something?”

    “Uh...” It's a fair question, one I should ask myself. I don't have special powers or body structures that do amazing things if I will them to. I only have my brain and even that is limited.

    “Gonna pray to Arceus? You should know there's no poison-type legendary. There's just me. How's that for preaching?”

    “Poison-type? You've got to be kidding me!” I jump back to my feet, shivering unfavorably at the revelation. Why hadn't I studied Unovan pokémon more carefully? “I've been using what I learned in school to figure you out at first glance. Physical appearance—not remarkable! No grandiose thoughts, no religious fantasies—no signs of mania! But you said you would kill me... I guess you'd do that with poison.”

    The venipede looks at me. “Huh? You say something?”

    “Yeah! You were... Oh,” I say, seeing now what the venipede has been working on during my rant. He had put down black spikes around my feet and in the rest of the clearing we were in. The spikes are stuck in the ground and anyway, I'm not sure I want to pick them up. Suddenly I wish I had stayed home and that Kyurem had left me in a coma.

    “Toxic spikes,” the venipede says. “Touch them and you'll die a slow death. Step over them and I'll lay more.”

    “How do poison-types even exist? Seriously... How do I get out of this?” I say, thinking aloud again.

    “You don't.” He smirks. “I'll be going now.”

    “Wait!” I cry. He doesn't listen. I call again when he's nearly out of sight. “Wait! I need you!”

    Another sinister laugh. “Good ****ing joke. Try another one.”

    “Really,” I say, quieter this time. This isn't just another encounter. This is something like fate or destiny or whatever word people usually attach to these incidents. At first sight, I know we can succeed. “I need you.”

    The venipede sluggishly comes back to me. “You know I could stick a poison sting in your heart and you'd die instantly?”

    There's a reason he's setting these snares; there's a reason he cusses out of anger. I just have to find that reason and pray to Arceus I don't die in the process. “Yeah, but you haven't done it yet,” I say slowly.

    “Don't test me,” he says, but he won't look at me.

    It hits me, then. “You're afraid to kill me, aren't you?”

    “Don't test me!” he says again. “There are things worse than death, and not all poison is fatal.”

    True—there are worse things in life than being surrounded by a lethal pokémon attack, but at the moment, I'm having trouble thinking of some. I find it hard to believe that my entire life belongs to this creature and he doesn't even know the sentiment's true extent. I can let the venipede disappear so I can safely escape, or I can continue to battle and die. Either way, I lose.

    “Just come with me,” I say, inching closer to the circle's edge. I take out a pokéball and reach out my hand. “I noticed you can't control your movements very well. I can fix that.”

    “I'm sure,” the venipede says sarcastically.

    “Really. I can train you. You're limited in a forest like this, aren't you? And you won't live forever, either.” This sounds familiar. Limited times, limited abilities. I try not to cry as I continue, “I can make you stronger. I swear it.”

    I realize that the venipede could say one thing and mean the opposite. Only the pokéball can answer. I throw it at him and watch as he's willingly enveloped in a red light. I can feel my adrenaline running wild as the pokéball shakes once, twice and then—it stops. The toxic spikes around me disappear as well, and my immediate reaction is to fall on the ground. I need to come to terms with what just happened before releasing my starter.

    “My starter,” I say. “Kephi...”

    *

    “Kephi? What kind of fucking name is that? Sounds girly.” That's his greeting when I let him out of his pokéball. At least it's not another threat. I'll have to work on the swearing, though.

    “What?” I reply dumbly.

    “I can hear you from inside the pokéball,” Kephi says, his voice slow, as if I'm having trouble hearing. “That's what you called me before you fell asleep. The bugs probably picked at your skin while you were lying there.”

    “Don't make me return you,” I say with a wave of my hand. The minimized pokéball in my hand makes me feel that much safer. If his emotions go haywire, I can control them in a flash. “If that's what I called you, then that's your name! Splendid. It rhymes with spaghetti. If you've ever having an existential crisis, just remember that important fact.”

    Kephi snorts in response. “Because you don't have enough brain cells to think of a proper nickname while you're awake,” he retorts.

    Honestly, he isn't that far from the truth. Kyurem, with all his strength and power, couldn't have possibly restored the decayed human cells in my body. What had been done, though, was unclear. I don't prefer to question it, lest I want to end up back in the emergency room, my family crying by my side.

    It occurs to me that Kephi could be there, too, now that he's officially mine. The thought makes me smile. Not that the bug- and poison-type particularly cares for me, but he seems to have faith in an honor code I'll have to learn about. That honor code is all I have to hold on to, anyway, as I walk into poisonous territory.

    “Hey!” he cries. “Look at me when I'm talking to you, dumbass!”

    “Huh? You say something?” I say, mocking him. “My neck would break if I had to look down all the time.”

    Kephi only mumbles to himself. His pride and his ego are bigger than his body parts combined. If he evolves, of course, he could tower over me, but then I might not be able to control his actions as well. With more speed, he could trounce me easily. I need more teammates. I need a full team of six, and by then I hope it'll be a happy team with no clashing personalities or interests. I have a hunch that things won't go that smoothly, however.

    On the way to Jubilife City, I have Kephi train against wild pokémon. He's under the impression that I want him to get stronger, but I think there's a lot to be said about one's identity when their emotions flare. The amount of effort he puts into attacks tells her he's angry; he's cunning in the way he performs tricks and lays traps to defeat his enemies; and he's guilty about something I can't name because no matter what he says, he won't kill. Not even for food.

    I test that last idea. We're five minutes away from the city—I can see the skyscrapers and the sun setting behind us—but I want to know. He's beating a kricketot senseless and screaming, “Damn piece of trash! How does this feel? I'll rip apart your organs and roast them above a fire-type's hot ass!”

    “Okay,” I say, clapping my hands to get his attention. “Finish it!”

    He stops and turns to me. His confused expression makes me regret my command. “Finish what? This thing doesn't have an ounce of courage left in it.”

    “You said it, not me,” I say, pretending I don't mind. “That you'd tear him into pieces, that is.”

    “Already done.”

    I observe his handiwork and try not to cringe. The kricketot's eyes are black and his stomach has a dent in it. “He looks well put together to me. A bit bruised, but otherwise fine,” I say. Next, I have to make him think of a further goal. “Are you hungry?”

    “Not really,” Kephi says, looking back and forth between his prey and his trainer.

    “Well, I'm hungry,” I prod.

    “Get your own damn food.”

    “Nuh-uh. I'm your trainer, remember? You don't serve me, per se, but... you could at least feed me.”

    He shakes his head. “Too close to the city. I'm not an idiot. Humans prepare and process pokémon meat before they eat it.”

    That chunk of knowledge is important, but I can't put my finger on it yet. At any rate, I know he won't kill—not for himself, and not for me. It's a huge relief. I press the button on his pokéball and the object grows in my palm. “We'll get food. You did a good job,” I say, and with that, he's gone.

    *

    I come from a quaint town where gossip is encouraged and where fun times are endless, so I don't anticipate being greeted by a distant Jubilife City gatekeeper. The gatekeeper waves me away, giving me a vague warning about how the city is carved out of a mountain, and so I should look out for pits in the roads and falling boulders near the route entrances. I thank the gatekeeper with my widest smile, determined not to let the dreariness effect me.

    I meet a crossroad almost immediately. To my left is the global terminal, where trainers can gather and trade pokémon if they weren't satisfied with what they had. I can't imagine trading Kephi to an unsuspecting trainer. I turn away. Straight ahead is the television station—the satellites on top are indicative of that. That could be interesting, but not now. I go to the Pokémon Center instead.

    It's my first time in a Pokémon Center lobby as an official trainer. Gregory had gone to great lengths to receive my training license from Professor Rowan. I held on to it for dear life when I saw it. The last thing I needed was to get into trouble with the police while a legendary pokémon watched me from afar. Now I fumble with it in my pocket as I approach the counter.

    The pink-haired Nurse Joy, at least, is as eager as ever. “How can I help you?” she asks cheerfully.

    “Hi! I need a room for the night,” I say, not bothering to make small talk. I need to get Kephi in another room as soon as possible so that I have the chance to ask a few questions. “And I need my venipede healed.”

    “Certainly,” she says, taking Kephi's pokéball.

    Nurse Joy is about to leave when I intercept. “Do you mind? I'm kind of in a hurry. Your chansey can take care of him, right?”

    Chansey is Nurse Joy's assistant pokémon, capable of doing whatever a human nurse can do, considering it has a human-like figure of sorts, and it's usually raised in a hospital setting from birth.

    “Oh, yes,” she says. “One moment.”

    I tap the counter with my fingers impatiently. Kephi might hate me already if he knows what I'm thinking. I keep my thoughts away from him and I keep my voice low when Nurse Joy returns.

    “I didn't mean to be rude,” I start. “I don't want my venipede to know I'm talking to you.”

    “Ah! Most trainers don't realize that their pokémon can understand their surroundings from inside their pokéballs. I'm impressed.”

    “Yeah...” I don't mention how I magically know pokémon language.

    Curiosity forms on the nurse's face. I suppose it was inevitable. “How come you don't want your pokémon to...?” She trails off, hushing herself effectively.

    I look around. The lobby is empty. I motion for Nurse Joy to join me on one of the couches in the corner. When we're seated, I go on, “This might sound stupid, but it's true. I didn't know Kephi was part poison-type when I was catching him.”

    “Does that bother you?”

    “I... I think so. I mean, I'm not sure.” I have a feeling Kephi has more experience than he lets on, which is terrifying in and of itself, but I don't know how to construct that idea in a sentence. “I just wanted to know... Is there a way to, like, I don't know... Can you suck the poison out of him? Can you suppress his poison-type moves?”

    Nurse Joy folds her hands in her lap concernedly. “Ma'am,” she starts darkly, her frown obvious, “even if that kind of operation were available, I wouldn't recommend it. I could see that as an extreme breach of trust, which would breed resentment between pokémon and trainer. That kind of resentment usually leads to the pokémon being released, or the pokémon acts out.”

    “So the answer is no,” I say flatly.

    “That's right,” Nurse Joy says.

    “It's just that... He can't control his poison-type attacks very well,” I say, recalling how the toxic spikes had disappeared upon his return, and how he hadn't simply thrown a poison needle in my eye. “I don't want to worry about him every single second of every single day.”

    “Well, if an attempt is made, the likelihood of your venipede surviving would be very low. And anyway, you'd be very hard pressed to find a nurse in this region who would feel ethically obligated to perform that kind of operation.”

    I lay my head down on the back of the couch and sigh. “He's gonna be a handful. What have I gotten myself into?”

    “I can't say I see venipede everyday, or new trainers with poison-types...”

    “Exactly. What have I gotten myself into?”

    “Make sure he thinks you're stronger, even if you're not. Collect the gym badges and he'll respect you more. If you need to, release him and catch him in a new pokéball from Jubilife Condominiums. And always carry antidotes as a precaution. They'll cure any type of poison,” Nurse Joy explains.

    That's helpful to know, but it's easier said than done. We're silent after that, and soon the chansey comes back with Kephi scuttling on the floor. He demands food. Nurse Joy hasn't heard him talk up until now, but she's not surprised by his foul mouth. She gives the room key to me and says goodnight to the both of us.

    The room is comfortable enough. It's nothing too extravagant, but it works for one or two nights. Kephi asks me where the hell the food is and I pull it out of my backpack.

    “When did you buy that? We went straight to the Pokémon Center!” he asks.

    “Uh—”

    “You had this the whole time, didn't you?”

    Again, he's too perceptive. “I bought it while you were being healed.”

    He doesn't believe me, but he doesn't have a comeback, either. I throw the poffins and berries on the floor, too tired to care about the mess I'll have to clean in the morning. It's been an exhausting day. I stay up long enough to return Kephi to his pokéball. I recall sleeping with Nate, but he's a calm and controlled pet. Kephi is a spiteful, hostile... poison-type pokémon. I almost think of him as a monster, but he's a wimpy bug-type at the same time. I just don't have a grasp on him. Not yet.
    Last edited by diamondpearl876; 17th November 2014 at 2:45 AM.

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


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


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
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  7. #7
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    Chapter one is kind of an interesting, transitional chapter. I was surprised to find out that Annie's illness was kind of a one-time traumatic event, rather than something chronic. The way she was describing things in the prologue made it sound like she was conscious and aware of her illness--able to sit up, even. Here we learn that she's been in a coma after a stroke. Was the stroke just the recent culmination of health issues she's had for most of her life, or was the coma what Annie was actually referring to in the prologue?

    In any case, it's nice to see a bit of how Annie gets along with her family. I imagine they'll be more important later on than they normally are in a typical trainer journey, although in what way I can't predict yet. Annie spends a lot more time thinking about them, even when they aren't there, than the average journeyfic protagonist, anyway.

    Like I said, this is a fairly short, lackadaisical chapter. Nothing wrong with that; it's mostly about characterization and giving us a bit of a better understanding of Annie's life situation before she moves on to her actual journey. Which I suppose I'll get right into...

    I guess Kyurem's only given Annie the ability to speak with the pokémon he wants her to catch? Otherwise it seems like she ought to have understood what the kricketot was saying or chatted with Nate a bit.

    I don't understand why Annie thinks Jubilife is full of distant people. It's not that it wouldn't be, necessarily, only that I don't get anything from the narration to indicate why Annie thinks that's the case. The gatekeeper being kind of weird seems like too little evidence to base a statement about the whole city on! What about Jubilife and its people makes Annie think they're distant?

    The conversation with Nurse Joy came across as very strange to me, for two reasons.

    The first and less serious is the part where the nurse asks if Annie's worried because poison-types are often used for evil. To me this appears to come out of nowhere; I don't understand the logic of asking that at all. It would be like someone being nervous about holding a gun and someone else asking, "Oh, are you uncomfortable because a lot of people use guns to commit crimes?" The thing itself is inherently dangerous; it seems weird to jump to "well she's worried because other people do bad things with this" rather than "well she's worried because she's worried about what this thing might do to her/is capable of." (Also there's apparently some kind of ingrained prejudice against poison-types? There's nothing wrong with it, but I found it surprising because there's nothing in canon to indicate that and it's all handled very matter-of-factly here, like it's something you should be expecting.)

    More pressingly, though is the part where Annie asks about the de-poisonifying operation. That strikes me as a pretty horrifying thing to ask; Annie's talking about dramatically and irrevocably changing something about her pokémon, without asking him whether it's okay first. Like, that's a pretty giant step to make. I can dig it if it's just that Annie's really scared and this seems a logical course of action to her, even though it's really very wrong. But the thing is, the narrative didn't really treat it as the awful, shocking thing it sounds like to me, so if that's what you're going for, it didn't really work out for me. (Or maybe it just didn't strike you yourself as being all that big a deal! That's fine, I'm just trying to get across why I was so thrown off by it.)

    It'd be one thing if Annie had first told Nurse Joy something like, "Kephi seems really unhappy about the fact that he's poison-typed and I was wondering if there was some way to help him with that" or otherwise indicate that Kephi was the one who was interested in somehow not being a poison-type anymore. But she doesn't do anything to justify it, and based on what the nurse has just said, she's assuming that Annie is the one who's uncomfortable with the situation. That turns her question into something along the lines of a person saying, "You know, I'm kind of uncomfortable with the fact that my friend is male. Do you think it would be possible to get a sex change for him so he wouldn't be male anymore?" Kephi's typing strikes me as something that is straight-up not her business and what she's proposing to do about it is kind of horrifyingly invasive. It doesn't matter whether she actually intends to go through with it or not; just asking the question and giving the indication that you're thinking about the situation that way is really awful. Remember that Annie's given the nurse no indication that Kephi himself has any problems with being a poison-type, or even that this procedure would be performed with his consent.

    Buuuut nonetheless the nurse doesn't seem all that flustered by it; she says she could see it as a breach of trust, which, yeah, kind of a gigantic breach of trust? I wouldn't get over someone else scheduling me for surgery that I didn't want in a hurry, that much is for sure. The fact that the nurse treats this as a legitimate question, though, without any indication that she's shocked or even a little put off by the question, makes it seem like the narrative agrees that this is totally a sensible thing to ask, and unfortunately it's just too risky for Annie to actually try it. Again, if you were going for "Annie has made a big error in judgment here," that would be one way to indicate it. And like I said, I don't think you were at all intending for the line to come across that way, but it was definitely a big "do not want" moment for me, so I thought I'd mention it.

    The other reason why the line gave me trouble is it seemed to come out of left field. I didn't realize that Annie was that seriously bothered by the fact that Kephi was a poison-type. She's surprised to learn that he's a poison-type, but doesn't sound really horrified by it, and shortly thereafter she's going on about how much she loves him, banters with him after catching him, and seems to be training him fairly normally. With that in mind, to have her start going behind his back, asking whether Nurse Joy can remove his poison-typing seems like a big shift in attitude. When did she get to be that afraid of him, and how did she seize on the idea of removing his poison typing to make that problem go away? By the end of the chapter, Annie states that she "almost thinks of him as a monster," but I don't get this sense of fear and revulsion from her behavior at all.

    It's not that Annie doesn't have reason to be worried about Kephi; he did say he was going to kill her, after all, and didn't hesitate to attack, even if Annie's now convinced herself that he wouldn't actually murder her or anyone else. And if you wanted to get across how terrified she was, asking nurse joy to get rid of his poison sacs would definitely be a fine way to show that! It's just that Annie's behavior during the rest of the chapter doesn't line up with the idea that she's really and truly afraid of the venipede, at least as far as I can see.

    Kephi himself I like, though. If you were worried about your characters sounding the same, it's certainly not a problem here; at least in this chapter, Kephi carries his own voice just fine. He makes a great starting pokémon in that I can see him making a lot of waves with Annie as well as the rest of her pokémon in the upcoming chapters.

    I see from your signature that you've got Annie's team all planned out (or... at least partially planned out). That elekid has me curious; perhaps she ends up catching some pokémon besides the ones Kyurem mandated after all?

    OH NEVER MIND

        Spoiler:


    I guess after that I have a better idea of how the story's going to work out in the long term, but in the short term there's still plenty of questions left to answer. Keep it up.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Chapter one is kind of an interesting, transitional chapter. I was surprised to find out that Annie's illness was kind of a one-time traumatic event, rather than something chronic. The way she was describing things in the prologue made it sound like she was conscious and aware of her illness--able to sit up, even. Here we learn that she's been in a coma after a stroke. Was the stroke just the recent culmination of health issues she's had for most of her life, or was the coma what Annie was actually referring to in the prologue?

    In any case, it's nice to see a bit of how Annie gets along with her family. I imagine they'll be more important later on than they normally are in a typical trainer journey, although in what way I can't predict yet. Annie spends a lot more time thinking about them, even when they aren't there, than the average journeyfic protagonist, anyway.

    Like I said, this is a fairly short, lackadaisical chapter. Nothing wrong with that; it's mostly about characterization and giving us a bit of a better understanding of Annie's life situation before she moves on to her actual journey. Which I suppose I'll get right into...

    I guess Kyurem's only given Annie the ability to speak with the pokémon he wants her to catch? Otherwise it seems like she ought to have understood what the kricketot was saying or chatted with Nate a bit.

    I don't understand why Annie thinks Jubilife is full of distant people. It's not that it wouldn't be, necessarily, only that I don't get anything from the narration to indicate why Annie thinks that's the case. The gatekeeper being kind of weird seems like too little evidence to base a statement about the whole city on! What about Jubilife and its people makes Annie think they're distant?

    The conversation with Nurse Joy came across as very strange to me, for two reasons.

    The first and less serious is the part where the nurse asks if Annie's worried because poison-types are often used for evil. To me this appears to come out of nowhere; I don't understand the logic of asking that at all. It would be like someone being nervous about holding a gun and someone else asking, "Oh, are you uncomfortable because a lot of people use guns to commit crimes?" The thing itself is inherently dangerous; it seems weird to jump to "well she's worried because other people do bad things with this" rather than "well she's worried because she's worried about what this thing might do to her/is capable of." (Also there's apparently some kind of ingrained prejudice against poison-types? There's nothing wrong with it, but I found it surprising because there's nothing in canon to indicate that and it's all handled very matter-of-factly here, like it's something you should be expecting.)

    More pressingly, though is the part where Annie asks about the de-poisonifying operation. That strikes me as a pretty horrifying thing to ask; Annie's talking about dramatically and irrevocably changing something about her pokémon, without asking him whether it's okay first. Like, that's a pretty giant step to make. I can dig it if it's just that Annie's really scared and this seems a logical course of action to her, even though it's really very wrong. But the thing is, the narrative didn't really treat it as the awful, shocking thing it sounds like to me, so if that's what you're going for, it didn't really work out for me. (Or maybe it just didn't strike you yourself as being all that big a deal! That's fine, I'm just trying to get across why I was so thrown off by it.)

    It'd be one thing if Annie had first told Nurse Joy something like, "Kephi seems really unhappy about the fact that he's poison-typed and I was wondering if there was some way to help him with that" or otherwise indicate that Kephi was the one who was interested in somehow not being a poison-type anymore. But she doesn't do anything to justify it, and based on what the nurse has just said, she's assuming that Annie is the one who's uncomfortable with the situation. That turns her question into something along the lines of a person saying, "You know, I'm kind of uncomfortable with the fact that my friend is male. Do you think it would be possible to get a sex change for him so he wouldn't be male anymore?" Kephi's typing strikes me as something that is straight-up not her business and what she's proposing to do about it is kind of horrifyingly invasive. It doesn't matter whether she actually intends to go through with it or not; just asking the question and giving the indication that you're thinking about the situation that way is really awful. Remember that Annie's given the nurse no indication that Kephi himself has any problems with being a poison-type, or even that this procedure would be performed with his consent.

    Buuuut nonetheless the nurse doesn't seem all that flustered by it; she says she could see it as a breach of trust, which, yeah, kind of a gigantic breach of trust? I wouldn't get over someone else scheduling me for surgery that I didn't want in a hurry, that much is for sure. The fact that the nurse treats this as a legitimate question, though, without any indication that she's shocked or even a little put off by the question, makes it seem like the narrative agrees that this is totally a sensible thing to ask, and unfortunately it's just too risky for Annie to actually try it. Again, if you were going for "Annie has made a big error in judgment here," that would be one way to indicate it. And like I said, I don't think you were at all intending for the line to come across that way, but it was definitely a big "do not want" moment for me, so I thought I'd mention it.

    The other reason why the line gave me trouble is it seemed to come out of left field. I didn't realize that Annie was that seriously bothered by the fact that Kephi was a poison-type. She's surprised to learn that he's a poison-type, but doesn't sound really horrified by it, and shortly thereafter she's going on about how much she loves him, banters with him after catching him, and seems to be training him fairly normally. With that in mind, to have her start going behind his back, asking whether Nurse Joy can remove his poison-typing seems like a big shift in attitude. When did she get to be that afraid of him, and how did she seize on the idea of removing his poison typing to make that problem go away? By the end of the chapter, Annie states that she "almost thinks of him as a monster," but I don't get this sense of fear and revulsion from her behavior at all.

    It's not that Annie doesn't have reason to be worried about Kephi; he did say he was going to kill her, after all, and didn't hesitate to attack, even if Annie's now convinced herself that he wouldn't actually murder her or anyone else. And if you wanted to get across how terrified she was, asking nurse joy to get rid of his poison sacs would definitely be a fine way to show that! It's just that Annie's behavior during the rest of the chapter doesn't line up with the idea that she's really and truly afraid of the venipede, at least as far as I can see.

    Kephi himself I like, though. If you were worried about your characters sounding the same, it's certainly not a problem here; at least in this chapter, Kephi carries his own voice just fine. He makes a great starting pokémon in that I can see him making a lot of waves with Annie as well as the rest of her pokémon in the upcoming chapters.

    I see from your signature that you've got Annie's team all planned out (or... at least partially planned out). That elekid has me curious; perhaps she ends up catching some pokémon besides the ones Kyurem mandated after all?

    OH NEVER MIND

        Spoiler:


    I guess after that I have a better idea of how the story's going to work out in the long term, but in the short term there's still plenty of questions left to answer. Keep it up.
    Hey, thanks so much for commenting. I guess in my own little head canon, there's lots of stereotypes against poison-types. I think they'd be hard to handle since they're unruly and/or unable to control their attacks, etc. I guess I wanted to show that without blatantly saying, "The pokemon world thinks lowly of poison-types." It's kind of similar to how I see people on this forum say dark-types are all evil and such. I will go back and edit, though, so don't worry. I also wanted to show off that Annie is a very invasive person, but I didn't emphasize that enough, clearly.

    As for other little points, Annie's parents probably won't make an impact. Renee will, though. And yeah, Rennio and Ezrem will definitely play a role in this story, too. As for the elekid explanation, Annie justifies it by saying his evolution is from Unova, so he must be hers (plus the way she retrieves him tells her he must be hers). I'm sure you'll forget I just said that by the time it actually happens, lol.

    EDIT: Oh, and Annie's illness is... complicated? I can tell you what it is over PM if you want. It's an often-overlooked problem that develops in childhood, and, if unidentified and if the symptoms are left untreated, can lead to problems such as stroke, heart attacks, etc.
    Last edited by diamondpearl876; 7th November 2014 at 3:22 AM.

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


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


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


  9. #9
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    I guess in my own little head canon, there's lots of stereotypes against poison-types. I think they'd be hard to handle since they're unruly and/or unable to control their attacks, etc. I guess I wanted to show that without blatantly saying, "The pokemon world thinks lowly of poison-types."
    That's cool, and the attitude is totally coming across. Just curious, though, why do you think that poison-types would have more trouble controlling their attacks that pokémon of other types?

    EDIT: Oh, and Annie's illness is... complicated? I can tell you what it is over PM if you want. It's an often-overlooked problem that develops in childhood, and, if unidentified and if the symptoms are left untreated, can lead to problems such as stroke, heart attacks, etc.
    That's cool. I was just confused because the prologue made it seem like she had something chronic, something that had been keeping her bedridden, while the description of the events in the first chapter made it sound more like she'd just had this stroke and fallen into a coma, without having had previous symptoms. The specific identity of the condition isn't so much what I was concerned with as that I couldn't tell whether it was something chronic or

    Which reminds me (of something completely unrelated):

    If you need to, release him and catch him in a new pokéball from Jubilife Condominiums.
    Why would catching Kephi again in a different pokéball (from anywhere) help Annie out? Or was "pokéball from Jubilife Condominiums" supposed to imply luxury ball or some other specialty brand?

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    That's cool, and the attitude is totally coming across. Just curious, though, why do you think that poison-types would have more trouble controlling their attacks that pokémon of other types?
    It would be more of a moral problem than anything. For example, would a nice, well put together poison-type pokemon want to risk inflicting an opponent with the poison status, especially without knowing whether or not the opponent's trainer has the means/time to cure their pokemon? I mean, not all poison is lethal, but every poison has negative effects. I would imagine a morally competent pokemon not using their poison-attacks much, and thus... when they do use them... it's not easy to control. For pokemon without any ethical reasoning, I imagine they'd be blinded by whatever makes them unethical, and would blindly use any type of poison without thinking of consequences. Hope that makes sense.


    That's cool. I was just confused because the prologue made it seem like she had something chronic, something that had been keeping her bedridden, while the description of the events in the first chapter made it sound more like she'd just had this stroke and fallen into a coma, without having had previous symptoms. The specific identity of the condition isn't so much what I was concerned with as that I couldn't tell whether it was something chronic or
    The underlying problem is chronic. The stroke was merely a byproduct of that chronic illness, and the strokes can either become chronic or not depending on whether or not the underlying problem is identified. My mother unknowingly had this disease all her life and suffered 2 strokes when she was 36 before she went brain dead and passed, for example. Annie is a little luckier.

    Which reminds me (of something completely unrelated):


    Why would catching Kephi again in a different pokéball (from anywhere) help Annie out? Or was "pokéball from Jubilife Condominiums" supposed to imply luxury ball or some other specialty brand?
    Friend Ball. I forgot to mention it specifically... I suck. :~)

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


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


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


  11. #11
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    Fantastic chapter! I know I sound really lame with such a simple review, but I don't really have too much to comment on besides how much I liked it. I love the characterization in the story, keeping each character believable and substantial.

    However, my only qualm is the same as Negrek's. The thing with the poison came sort of out of nowhere. There wasn't really any hinting before she got to the Center that she had even thought about this, which is something you would usually dwell upon for some amount of time. And Nurse Joy's somewhat nonchalance about it seemed sort of odd. Young trainer who obviously just started her journey asks a professional health care worker to perform an operation that is fatal to the Pokémon? Even if it was an innocent question, I would have expected more reprimand from her. And the build-up for it within Annie was near nonexistent, so it really just came out of nowhere and left me wondering "Where did this even come from?"

    And you have answers for this, which is good since that indicates that you did actually think these things through, but maybe try to include things like that within the chapter. I would have loved to see these things explained in any detail within the chapter.

    But yeah, I still really enjoyed this chapter, and I can't wait for more! I noticed the Tepig in your sig and I'M SO EXCITED. I can't wait to see how that plays out, and its personality!

    Feel like you need a little more Pokemon in your life? Tune into our show!
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    Looking for something Pokemon-related to listen to while playing through Pokemon XY? This episode is for you!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by jstinftw! View Post
    Fantastic chapter! I know I sound really lame with such a simple review, but I don't really have too much to comment on besides how much I liked it. I love the characterization in the story, keeping each character believable and substantial.

    However, my only qualm is the same as Negrek's. The thing with the poison came sort of out of nowhere. There wasn't really any hinting before she got to the Center that she had even thought about this, which is something you would usually dwell upon for some amount of time. And Nurse Joy's somewhat nonchalance about it seemed sort of odd. Young trainer who obviously just started her journey asks a professional health care worker to perform an operation that is fatal to the Pokémon? Even if it was an innocent question, I would have expected more reprimand from her. And the build-up for it within Annie was near nonexistent, so it really just came out of nowhere and left me wondering "Where did this even come from?"

    And you have answers for this, which is good since that indicates that you did actually think these things through, but maybe try to include things like that within the chapter. I would have loved to see these things explained in any detail within the chapter.

    But yeah, I still really enjoyed this chapter, and I can't wait for more! I noticed the Tepig in your sig and I'M SO EXCITED. I can't wait to see how that plays out, and its personality!
    Thanks! And yeah, maybe I can put that section in a later chapter, after Annie dwells on it more. I'll be editing the chapters before moving forward I think, so look forward to that.

    | survival project |
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    | complete |


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


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


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    Just thought I'd let you know, in between all the ORAS I'm playing, I'm really glad I found time to read through the chapters. The little edits you put in definitely make a huge difference in our understanding of Annie. The small little add-ons and tweaks are much appreciated, although I noticed a few silly typos here and there. I probably should have made note of them. I might go back and edit this post later with those typos but, nonetheless, even though I read the same three chapters, I enjoyed myself. Can't wait for the next chapter!

    Feel like you need a little more Pokemon in your life? Tune into our show!
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    Looking for something Pokemon-related to listen to while playing through Pokemon XY? This episode is for you!!
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    Hey, glad you think the edits helped! Have fun with ORAS.


    LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES


    chapter three
    playing nice

    *

    I consider Nurse Joy's advice. She's an expert, after all, having seen more pokémon species and more types of trainers than most. Her compassionate eyes, her airy voice... How could she be anything but sincere?

    So I get to work. I think I've already established dominance in Kephi's eyes, but he could be feigning inferiority until he can strike. I wouldn't put it past him, the devious little thing. I threaten to put him in his pokéball if he disobeys and I reward him with snacks if he behaves (which isn't very often). He scowls at me and asks to train. I won't let him, not until he stops swearing and spewing poison on the streets for innocent people to step in. Besides, if he levels up enough to evolve, then I might lose control. It's best to keep him pacified for as long as I can, with occasional training sessions to release pent up tension.

    Nurse Joy also suggested I complete the gym circuit. There's no gym leader in Jubilife City, but it's an option for the future. I never thought about what I would tell my teammates if they asked me about why I was traveling, but this would be a decent excuse. I can exercise my therapeutic techniques and heal their pain while still being a traditional trainer. It could be fun, if all went well.

    A trip to the pokémart is necessary, too. The clerk looks at me strangely when I buy handfuls of antidotes, but I say I have a poison-type pokémon as a starter and then he nods understandingly. Kephi asks what the hell that's supposed to mean. I smile and continue browsing. The TM section looks tempting, but I can't risk that just yet. I can't imagine teaching Kephi an attack that could wreck the city in less than a day. I fill my backpack with more pokéballs instead, convinced that my future teammates will be equally as hard to capture.

    Finally, I make my way to Jubilife Condominiums. Nurse Joy had mentioned something about catching Kephi again, as if it were that simple. She didn't know what I had gone through to catch my starter, nor had she asked. I learn about friend balls—which make the pokémon inside good-natured upon every return—and then I regret buying pokéballs. I sell them, gaining some pokédollars back but losing profit overall, and buy the promising friend balls. I swear not to use them until I have another pokémon on the team, in case Kephi attempts to run away.

    I'm not sure what to do next. There's that sense of homesickness in the pit of my stomach again. It's not surprising, considering I've never left home for longer than two weeks at a time. There was that trip to Johto to see the famous kimono girls and Olivine City beaches, but even then, I was with my parents, and Renee had just learned to walk. Kephi tells me that we need a bit of a culture shock. I agree. After asking around for a while, we find the most foreign restaurant in town.

    “This is ****ing stupid,” Kephi gripes as soon as we're seated. “Why do I have sit in a baby highchair?”

    “Because I said so,” I say, taking the menu from the waiter. “The waiter demands it.”

    “Ah...” he says sheepishly. “That's right.” He has a slight accent, but I can't place it.

    “Bullshit,” Kephi goes on. “They should have specialized pokémon seats. Trainers only pass by here every single—”

    “So what would you recommend?” I ask, purposefully interrupting Kephi.

    “Oh,” the waiter says. Apparently he had been listening to a venipede's complaints lest he wanted to be poisoned, or he prefers filler words. “The Cinnabar Burger is a classic. The Olivine Shrimp dinner is another favorite, or the Lumiose Steak, cooked well-done or however you want...”

    “The burger sounds nice. Get him”—I point to Kephi—“a glass of water.”

    “You drag me in here, put me in this spot, and you don't order me food.” He sighs.

    “Erm.” The waiter clears his throat. “What is your pokémon saying? He doesn't look happy.”

    “He's always pouting, especially when he's tired. Don't worry about it.” I shoo him away. He bows and complies.

    Kephi grunts, but doesn't say anything decipherable. I chalk it up to the idea that he might not be hungry and he'll be fine, but I'm definitely thinking of ways to make him swallow that water. Even if he spits it out, it should dilute some of the poison inside of him.

    ...On second thought, it might not be a good idea. If he has no poison in his body, then there's nothing to sustain him and keep him alive. Why hadn't I taken at least five courses in pokémon anatomy with Nurse Joy? Well, there would be other chances. Not that I'm willing to remain sedentary to rediscover schooling.

    When the waiter returns with our drinks and food, I try to snatch away the glass of water and accidentally knock it to the floor. I give the waiter my friendliest grin, and then I say, “I need some wine.” If Kephi can get away with having poison in his body, so can I. With him, I'm invincible, or something like it. Knowing Kyurem is watching solidifies this fact for me. I can see myself buying several bottles of lambrusco already, along with a decoarated glass to take sips out of.

    “If you need to loosen up a little,” the waiter says warily, “might I suggest you visit the television station on the north end of town? A daily lottery is played around this time of day.”

    “Okay. Forget the wine. That sounds better for my health, though hazardous for my wallet,” I say, cutting up the burger and giving a small portion to my pokémon. Kephi scrutinizes the burger by crawling over it, then eating it. I don't dare ask what he's doing.

    And that's how we end up at the Jubilife TV Station less than an hour later. Before we leave, I give a generous tip, making sure Kephi doesn't touch it out of spite.

    *

    On the way to the Jubilife TV Station, we see three men dressed as clowns giving away free cotton candy. The clowns give us directions when we're caught staring, and even Kephi is ashamed to have been interested in child's play.

    The tall buildings are nothing like those in Sandgem Town. I could live here, if circumstances allowed—not in the station building itself, but in this particular city, where daily events occur and even the color of the pavement is vibrant. In my trance I almost walk toward the next route, but I redirect myself and reach the station before nightfall. I consider going back to the Pokémon Center to rent a room before they're booked, but this adventure is far more interesting.

    The interior design of the building looks more like a lounge than a TV station. There's people about, sitting at the tables and playing cards or chess. The gallery on the right hand wall entices the two of me more than a simple game we could play in between cities when we're bored.

    Predictably, the framed pictures depict legendary pokémon such as dialga and palkia—the creators of time and space, respectively. They're well known in Sinnoh, I know, as I'd heard bedtime stories about them when I was little until I yawned and told my parents to come up with something new and exciting.

    The legendaries are new and exciting to Kephi, apparently, as he uses the suction cups on his legs to attach to the walls and crawl vertically, onto the paintings themselves. Behind him he leaves a vague trail of slime, which attracts the attention of nearly everyone in the room.

    “Excuse me,” calls the lady behind the counter. I turn and anticipate seeing Nurse Joy standing there, ready to heal my venipede's strange behavior, but it's not her. “Please refrain from ruining the gallery. There's some wipes and disinfectant over here to wash that...” she says, running a hand sheepishly through her dark blue hair. Bug-type pokémon must be an everyday occurrence for her.

    “Right,” Annie says. “Sorry.” I grab Kephi by the sides and struggle to break his grasp, but eventually I succeed and carry him under one arm over to the counter. “Want to watch him for a minute? He's a romantic sweetheart. He'll tell you nice things.”

    “That's fine,” the lady says, regaining her composure. “My name is Felicity and I'm in charge of the first floor. I'd appreciate if you could cooperate with me,” she adds, handing me the cleaning supplies.

    “Yeah, yeah,” Kephi says, rolling his eyes. “Forget her. Ask about the lottery.”

    “Want to win some money, huh?” I say, patting Kephi's head as a warning to keep calm. “We would like to play the lottery. Can you direct us that way?”

    “Oh, you can play right here!” Felicity says. She points toward the gallery. “After you clean that, of course.”

    “Hurry the fuck up,” Kephi says. “Clean up after your pokémon.”

    I stick my tongue out at him, earning an undignified glare from Felicity, but I do as told. As I spray away the dirtiness, I think it could be worse. It could have been poison. It could still be poison, really. The thought makes me scrub twice as hard, also making me glad I have any arm strength at all. Being with Kephi is better than lying in a hospital bed, even if he does act like the boss sometimes.

    “Okay! Done,” I say happily. “Time for the—”

    “You lost!” Kephi says, laughing. “Hah! Your Kyurem god fucking hates you.”

    “What?”

    “The winning ID is 41122 today. Your trainer ID is 62453, according to the license in your pokédex,” Felicity explains. “Feel free to try again tomorrow.”

    I grab Kephi by the sides again, ignoring the movement of his hairy legs. “Thank you for your time,” I say. “My venipede appreciates it as well.”

    “Like hell I do,” he snarls.

    “See? He's an angel.”

    I take him to the corner of the room, away from where Felicity and the other visitors can see them. There's a television here, unsurprisingly enough, but that's not what's on my mind right now. I take out my pokédex, which doubles as my training license. As soon as the device is switched on, it displays my journey's data—my traveling time, my location, the number of pokémon on my team, my ID, and so on. But what about Kephi himself? If I could just learn more about him...

    “Bingo!” I say. I haven't messed with the device until now, but pushing random buttons seems to lead me to the right place. “Venipede, the centipede pokémon... Bug-and-poison-type. Nicknamed Kephi. One foot tall—you're short, aren't you?—and eleven pounds. Level twenty-one... Wait a second,” I say, stopping abruptly.

    According to my pokédex, Kephi is stronger than any wild pokémon in the surrounding area. That, and he's three years, two months old. Not only could he have crushed me during our battle, but also he might have adopted those skills from a previous trainer. This tells me that he was holding back for an unknown reason. He's hiding something, too. Something big. Maybe something terrifying, since it's a secret to begin with.

    “Kephi,” I say sternly. I search for the words. “Did you have another trainer once?”

    The venipede's been slowly inching toward the television. He pauses and one of his antennas twitch slightly, giving him away. That's all I need as a confirmation.

    “What's it to you?” he says, moving forward again. He's about to slime the television when I pick him up and make him look me in the eyes. “What's wrong with you today? Are you a psychic-type pokémon in disguise?”

    “No!” I say. I have to stay calm, but it's hard when I've discovered this early on. I'm making progress—good or bad, I don't know. “I'm not. You're older and stronger than most pokémon around here. Not to mention you're from Unova. There's a story behind your evil, scheming ways,” I add with a smile.

    “Evil is a strong word. Besides, if your pokédex is so smart, why haven't I evolved yet?”

    I open my mouth to speak, but I have nothing to say. I set him in my lap, instead scolding him again for getting me in trouble with Felicity. I wish the library visit had told me more than just pokémon appearances. Types, specialties, evolutions, attacks... They're important, too, and I had completely overlooked them. That was my fault.

    “Look at the TV.”

    “Huh?” I say, snapping back to reality.

    “Look at the TV! The pokédex is even more brainwashing.”

    He's right, to a certain extent. Trainers can get preoccupied with statistics if they're not careful. Kephi is more than a statistic. I make a mental note to have a heart-to-heart talk later, or as close to it as I can manage. I listen to my only pokémon and peer at the screen. Commercials are playing. I wonder if I missed the show Kephi was talking about, but then I see something much better than any famous actor. My jaw drops immediately.

    I see a pokémon—a pokémon from Unova.

    “How did you know I—” I'm cut off by the fact that Kephi is no longer in my lap. So he needed a distraction. He didn't know about Kyurem's request. I nearly forget the Unovan pokémon as I rest my head against the back of the couch, relieved. “Wait a minute. Get over here, mister! Watch this!”

    “Would you believe anything I told you to do?” Kephi scowls, scuttling his legs beneath him though it doesn't get him anywhere. I catch him before he goes too far.

    “Yes! You're brilliant,” I say, eyes now glued to the screen. “Want to make a bet?”

    His eyes glower. “Go on.”

    “See the feline pokémon right there? That's our next teammate.”

    Kephi bursts out into laughter, struggling to catch his breath so he can say something about how ridiculous I sound, wanting a famous Jubilife star on the team. I gaze back and forth between the two Unova pokémon. I recognize the feline as a purrloin, with its cream-colored patches of fur surrounded by dark purple tufts of fur. Its deep green eyes dazzle in the spotlight, and the sharp violet markings about its eyes gleam with just as much excitement. I can see the appeal, but I can't help but ask what makes the purrloin so popular.

    “That's Virokoe the purrloin,” Kephi explains. “Trainers who passed by my route would watch him on their phones. Dear Mew, they would get so upset when their batteries died and they missed a show...”

    “Who cares? I say he's perfect. Let's go.”

    “Where are we going, exactly?” Kephi demands, though he has no real say in the matter as I carry him and search for the stairs.

    “We're gonna find him,” I say.

    “Our group is going to overflow with masculinity if you do that.”

    I let out a harrumph but don't respond. I'm quiet, seeing that I have to pass Felicity in order to get upstairs. I offer a friendly wave in Felicity's direction and nearly sprint out of the other woman's sight. “She was so mean to you. I hate playing nice.”

    “You're wasting your time, anyway.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Why am I explaining this to a human?” Kephi sighs. “The commercial was already filmed. There's no guarantee Virokoe's here.”

    “Oh.” My head droops in embarrassment. I check my phone. “It's nearing midnight, too. How are we supposed to find him?”

    “You don't.” He grins.

    “Jerk,” I say under my breath. “I bet you know something. You're just not telling me.”

    “What do I get out of it?”

    I stop in the middle of a step, caught off guard. If I'm not careful, I'll regret it. “You can sleep outside of your pokéball tonight.”

    His antennae twitch anxiously. “Virokoe may or may not hang around the school every morning. Also, he may or may not have to be on stage until the afternoon.”

    “You mean I have to walk by that lady again so I can get out of here?” I whine, turning around and already starting to backtrack.

    Kephi makes a vague, derogatory remark about my intelligence and refuses to talk after that. I don't mind. It keeps him out of trouble, though I'm tired of getting slime rubbed on my arms due to carrying him so much in one day. I wonder if my promise will end up a disaster, especially if he's some kind of sleepwalker.

    I'm surprised when he falls asleep in my arms, and I'm even more surprised when I place him on the side opposite of me in bed and he lets out a peaceful grunt. I assume he won't notice if I return him to his pokéball, but I won't take my chances. I tuck myself in and lie on my back, thinking of Virokoe and Felicity, Kephi and Renee, my parents and Gregory. I hope to dream about them, but by the time my eyes close, I've forgotten the world as a whole.

    *

    “You've got to be kidding me.”

    “You mean I can't take care of myself now that I'm a trained pokémon?” Kephi gripes, imitating my tone from yesterday.

    “It's almost noon. Where is Virokoe at noon? You didn't wake me up, you somehow opened the door, and you got breakfast by yourself. What if someone snatched you up and you were separated from me?” I'm tempted to ask why he came back at all, but I keep my mouth shut.

    Kephi swallows another mouthful of cinnamon oatmeal, largely ignoring me. “That wouldn't be a bad thing,” he says finally.

    “That's human food,” I reply curtly.

    “[i]F[/i[uck off. I'm sick of berries and poffins.”

    We bicker back and forth like this until he's finished eating. By the time he's done I suspect he had eaten more than he could handle, as his movements are slow and sparse. I swear I'll stop spoiling him eventually, but for now, I carry him to the pokémon trainers' school across the street, hoping I'm not too late to find Virokoe. I have no plan as to how to capture the a famous pokémon star in the middle of a crowded street, but I don't dare let the purrloin slip away.

    The crowd is enormous, more so than I had been expecting. Either the building can't hold all of its students inside, or there really are that many people here to see Virokoe. I hope it's the former, because it's difficult to capture a pokémon in front of adoring, obsessive fans. Not that I'm planning on stealing him or anything drastic like that, but the thought had crossed my mind.

    Inching closer, I can hear the shouts. A few women yell about Virokoe's cuteness, while the men are trying to hold the feline in their arms so that they be in the spotlight. Little kids, presumably the students, jump up and down to get a glimpse of the excitement, but to no avail. I offer to set a young girl on my shoulders so that she can see. The girl's face lights up and she nods vigorously, her words falling on deaf ears, though they are definitely loud. I find that I can hold the girl with ease. Lifting Kephi has its perks, after all.

    Soon all the kids are asking to see Virokoe. Kephi laughs at me, but I can't hear him very well over the noise, either. He wanders off to the other side of the crowd, and I wonder again why he doesn't just run away. Well, now's not the time to think about that. I follow him, forsaking the kids, silently apologizing to them. I've got a pokémon to catch.

    The view is better on the other side. I watch intently as two men play tug of war with the purrloin and accidentally rip out a patch of fur. Virokoe hisses and claws at one man's face, then he claws the other man's leg as he's dropped to the ground. He runs, ducking to get in between peoples' legs. In a matter of minutes he's safe inside the school building.

    The screaming subsides and is replaced with disappointed moaning. I ask around and learn that only students are actually allowed inside. I listen to a story about a twenty-five-year-old woman sneaking in, pretending to be younger, but she was caught and hasn't been seen since. Then there's a spiel about how wonderful Virokoe is, and how he's so sweet, he goes to visit kids in his spare time. I scramble away, trying to figure out a plan of action.

    I wait until the crowd dissipates, making sure Kephi doesn't get kidnapped by anyone. He's my priority until I'm able to get inside the building. The story had given me an idea—an unpleasant one, but an idea nonetheless—and I'm prepared to go through with it. Due to the sickness I've endured, I've lost muscle and weight, and that should be enough to make me look like a teenager.

    When I approach the front door, the teacher, a short man with shaggy brown hair, puts up a hand to stop me from entering. His suit sleeve falls below his wrist and reveals a watch that looks more expensive than anything I've ever seen. I think I'm trespassing. The man seems to agree as he tells me that I need to be a student, or leave.

    “I-I'm here to be a student! Sir!” I say, saluting him as if I'm going to war.

    “Oh, for fuck's sake,” Kephi says, earning himself a glare.

    “And why do you, miss, think you have what it takes to be a student?” he asks, gazing at the two of us curiously.

    “Sir, I have this venipede here, and as you can see, or hear, he's not in the best frame of mind.” I'm lying, at least. I go on, “He's part poison-type, and that's dangerous! But I can't bring myself to release him. I'd like to learn your most well known tactics so that I may successfully raise him into a scolipede.” I mentally curse myself for working in a lie at the last minute, but my words seem to work as the man scratches his chin and steps aside.

    I think I'm in the clear until he says, “There are some prerequisites, of course. How old are you, miss...”

    “Annie Willems. I'm, uh, fourteen. And a half.”

    The man nods. “Miss Willems, I assume you are literate?”

    “Yes. I can read and write at a college level.” There's the truth again.

    “And your pokémon?”

    “I just have Kephi here. Like I said, he can't battle very well. His pragmatic skills are a bit... off,” I say, then I lightly kick my venipede in the side before he can say anything in protest.

    “Miss Willems, we only accept those with potential talent. Does your venipede have any special talents?”

    I can practically feel myself breaking out into a sweat, and it's not from a fever like I'm accustomed to. Kephi has a way with words and poison, sure, but that's about it. Neither facts are likely to grant us admission into the school. What else can I work with? What do I know about Kephi? Kephi won't kill others, not even for personal gain... Kephi has had another trainer... Kephi touches nearly everything in sight...

    “Oh!” I say suddenly, clenching my fists excitedly. “My venipede is also literate.”

    “I beg your pardon?”

    “He can write with his antennae. Isn't that right, Kephi?” I bend down to see him face-to-face. He snarls at me, but doesn't say anything lest the man can understand pokémon speech.

    “With your permission, I wish to have proof of this. For the records,” he says.

    He invites me inside. I wonder if Virokoe has sponsors that donate to the school, because the interior design is much fancier than that of the television station or the Pokémon Center. The kids sit comfortably in leather chairs, the desks are large enough to fit at least five encyclopedias and there are no windows, only drawing boards on the wall, filled with scrawly handwriting. I can only stare in shock at the brilliancy of it all—that is, until my pokémon headbutts me in the shin.

    “Pay attention. I'm not doing this for you.”

    “Yes you are,” I say, waving my hand carelessly at him. Nevertheless, I stride to the top left corner of the building, where there's a small, square sandbox.

    Before I can ask what's going on, the man explains, “This is where the students practice their calligraphy. It's very important, being able to sign your trainer's license and your gym badges.”

    If I'm being honest, I haven't signed my trainer's license, nor did I know about gym badges being signed. I suppose that's how trainers keep them from getting stolen or mixed up, but that's besides the point. While these students are learning about calligraphy, I'm learning about the darker side of the world, the one very few people see. I feel important for a moment, and I feel even more redemptive when I see Virokoe run underneath the nearest desk, purring happily...

    The man clears his throat impatiently.

    “Go ahead, Kephi. Show them what you've got,” I say.

    Kephi scoots himself forward, to the edge of the sandbox. The man holds a stick in his hands, tapping it against his arm in anticipation. I'm just as nervous, if not more, because I'm not sure what Kephi can do with his antennae. I've seen him be touchy and feels-y with his food, with me, with objects... Sand can't be much different, right?

    Well, I realize I'm half-right when Kephi clearly demonstrates the control he has over his antennae. He moves them up and down to put as much pressure on the sand as needed, but then he stops and asks what he's supposed to be writing.

    “Good question.” I think for a moment. I can't imagine him knowing the alphabet, let alone a whole word, but he might know the concept of numbers. “Show the number five.”

    “Well, I have one...” He trails off and concentrates his efforts. He draws two more sticks, which are impressively straight and parallel to each other. He's in the middle of the fourth line when the sand is suddenly stained a dark red. “Shit.”

    “What?” I say, leaning over to survey the damage. I don't see the problem.

    “Miss Willems, did your venipede spew poison into our beloved calligraphy—”

    So that's what the stain is. “No! I mean, yes. But he didn't mean it. He can't control—”

    “Don't underestimate me, bitch,” Kephi interrupts, pointing his antennae at me.

    Kephi!” I yell, surprised. I lift my hands partly in surrender, and partly out of fear. It seems that Kephi's behavior is triggered by frustration and anger toward himself. It would be a nice thing to know if not for the stares the students are giving me. To make things worse, the man is enraged.

    “Get out of my school, please,” he says with as much sanity as he can muster. He stretches out his arm, motioning toward the door.

    “But what about—” What about Virokoe? Virokoe isn't mine to grab. Virokoe has a life. Virokoe is better off where he is. If that's true, though, I'm not sure why Kyurem has brought us together. “Sorry, sir. We'll leave quietly.” I make my way out of the building, Kephi following closely behind. I get one last look at Virokoe, but he's too preoccupied with the students' special attention.

    Outside, Kephi seems more heartbroken than me. He sulks as he tries to climb the windows.

    “Don't leave slime there, too!” I say, pulling him away. “What's your problem?”

    “I was with a human before and I still can't coordinate my attacks! Thanks for pointing out that lack of skill back there.”

    I sit down on the pavement and lean my back against the brick wall. It's uncomfortable, but I figure it's nothing compared to the internal struggle Kephi's going through right now. “It's okay. We'll get Virokoe another way.”

    “After that, you better teach me some attacks. Goddammit.”

    “So you don't mind another teammate?” I stifle a giggle, afraid to rile him up further.

    “It'll help get you off my back sometimes.”

    “Probably.” I pause. “This past trainer of yours...”

    “He wasn't a trainer.”

    This piques my interest. “Were you a... pet?”

    “Something like that. Ask me again and I'll stab your feet,” he says, rubbing his antennae against me.

    I don't think he's serious, but I won't chance it. Instead, I wonder how else I can find Virokoe. In the morning, he visits the pokémon trainers' school. In the afternoon, he's busy being an actor. At night, he sleeps at home. I strike the first and last options out of my mind. The first had failed, and the last fails because I don't know where Virokoe lives. That information is most likely private.

    I smile. It's a simple process of elimination.

    “Come on. We're gonna wait at the studio.”

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


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


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


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Cebu, Philippines
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    I'm so glad I took some time off of Alpha Sapphire to read this. I've read through it like, 3 times already haha.

    Kephi is slowly becoming one of my favorite Pokémon in fan fiction. I love how you're depicting their relationship in this chapter. It does a good job of showing how Annie is constantly trying to keep Kephi at bay, but we still can see her internal struggle with doing so, and her fear of him. You sacrifice nothing on either fronts.

    As for Kephi, it's really cool that you show how Annie has warmed up to him a bit. He's still the same angry as he was at first, but we see him really accept Annie as his trainer. I think it would be interesting to find out if this is because of Annie herself in context with his past "owner"(?), or because of the Pokeball's loyalty mechanism. But he's a great character imo, and I love him.

    Also, I really like how you've incorporated the actual Pokemon World. We see her interacting and commenting on things not exactly pertaining to her journey so much as to simply existing because they exist in the world. The Pokemon World is such a vast place, and you've really used it to your advantage. I can't wait to see more of this.

    As for Virokoe, I'm extremely curious as to how she plans on capturing a movie star. I have no clue how you're going to pull this off, but I cannot wait to see!

    As always, good stuff. I really really cannot wait to read more. Keep up the good work!

    Feel like you need a little more Pokemon in your life? Tune into our show!
    EPISODE 55 - SLOWPOKE HOLIDAY
    Looking for something Pokemon-related to listen to while playing through Pokemon XY? This episode is for you!!
    Released: 12/11/14


    Guess who claimed Luxray?!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Illinois, USA
    Posts
    703

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    Quote Originally Posted by jstinftw! View Post
    I'm so glad I took some time off of Alpha Sapphire to read this. I've read through it like, 3 times already haha.

    Kephi is slowly becoming one of my favorite Pokémon in fan fiction. I love how you're depicting their relationship in this chapter. It does a good job of showing how Annie is constantly trying to keep Kephi at bay, but we still can see her internal struggle with doing so, and her fear of him. You sacrifice nothing on either fronts.

    As for Kephi, it's really cool that you show how Annie has warmed up to him a bit. He's still the same angry as he was at first, but we see him really accept Annie as his trainer. I think it would be interesting to find out if this is because of Annie herself in context with his past "owner"(?), or because of the Pokeball's loyalty mechanism. But he's a great character imo, and I love him.

    Also, I really like how you've incorporated the actual Pokemon World. We see her interacting and commenting on things not exactly pertaining to her journey so much as to simply existing because they exist in the world. The Pokemon World is such a vast place, and you've really used it to your advantage. I can't wait to see more of this.

    As for Virokoe, I'm extremely curious as to how she plans on capturing a movie star. I have no clue how you're going to pull this off, but I cannot wait to see!

    As always, good stuff. I really really cannot wait to read more. Keep up the good work!
    Hey, thanks for reviewing. I love writing Kephi so much. There's something about characters that swear... And actually, Virokoe is a boy. I planned to have him as a girl but I was afraid I hit too many feminine stereotypes to write that comfortably.


    LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES


    chapter four
    vainglorious orphan

    *

    If we're gonna break into a commercial shoot, then we have to look the part.

    I dress easily and with such eagerness, it even puts Kephi off guard. It's almost as if I had anticipated something exciting like this before starting my journey. A green halter top goes nicely with my long pink skirt, which has a pokéball design stitched on it. I figure the latter will be a hit—it was a collector's edition set out by the Hoenn Elite Four when their second female trainer was given the job. (How odd it is, I think, that I'm so involved with foreign affairs these days.) I have a sleeved shirt and matching stockings to change into later, or tomorrow, if things today go wrong. And unfortunately, I'm stuck with my white sneakers, since I don't have time to buy high tops or even a decent pair of flats.

    “Let's go!” I say with enthusiasm, but it's more difficult getting my venipede to be anything but annoyed.

    “I am not putting on a mask to disguise myself,” he says sternly, standing his ground. I'm pushing him out the door, or at least trying to. He won't budge.

    “What about—”

    “No bows. No ties. No hats.”

    “You can't walk into a place of fashion and not be fashionable, Kephi. It's just not right,” I retort, putting my hands on my hips dramatically.

    “Put me in my pokéball, then. I want no part in this.”

    I consider his offer, but I won't let him get away like that. Virokoe is going to be his teammate, not some passing fancy. He's not going to get an autograph and then never see him again. I hope they'll be together for months—even years—to come.

    For now, though, I'll humor him. I return him, showing clear disdain as I do so. I set my eyes on the television station once more and march there with fervor. I earn some strange looks along the way, but I don't let that bother me. I justify my actions and say it's for the greater good—or so Kyurem would like to have me think. Besides, to me, they're jealous. They want to be as courageous as me. Too bad I'm one of a kind.

    That realization has pushed me through trial after trial. If I can make Kephi and Virokoe think the same way, they have a fighting chance against whatever demons haunt them.

    *

    I figured the hard part would be getting past Felicity, but she isn't working today. A man has taken her place, not seeming too enthralled with the prospect. I sneak by, or rather traipse through the lobby as if I'm practicing for a scene, yelling random lines about a bath product, and he doesn't even glance at me. I feel not only beautiful, but also professional.

    The set is nothing surprising. Folded chairs are lined against the walls, with some placed a few yards in front of the stage. Some people are sitting, presumably the director and producer, while others put props in their place and decorate the stars with make-up. I curse myself for forgetting make-up, but it's not like I have money to waste, anyway.

    I peer from the top of the stairwell, wondering if I'll be noticed anytime soon. I'm scouting for Virokoe when someone comes up behind me and asks if I'm lost. I say no, no I'm not lost. This is my first time filming and I'm nervous, I'm not sure if I look okay, or if my colleagues won't enjoy me or my work for some reason—

    I rant for five minutes straight before I'm left to my own devices again. I thank the stars above for giving me a talkative personality and a durable mouth to accompany that trait. I brush off my skirt as if I had gotten it dirty on the way here, and I step forward. My sneakers don't leave much of an impression, which I'm grateful for as well. I stand behind the two occupied chairs and blatantly ask where Virokoe is. I have a question for him and it can't wait until after the shooting.

    Luckily, I don't have to go far for Virokoe. He's behind the curtains, getting the last of his touch-ups done. He looks stunning and absolutely thrilled with the idea of being stunning, what with his smile that refuses to disappear. The pink markings above his eyes are more pronounced, and the fur on his face is perfectly symmetrical. His cream-colored body shines in the light, as if those patches were created by the sun itself.

    I clap my hands together to get Virokoe's attention. He snaps his head in my direction, predictably with a confused expression on his face. Of course. I hadn't prepared for this, but Virokoe has never seen me before.

    “Hi! My name is Annie,” I say, brushing the excess powder off off the feline's small black nose.

    “...Thank you,” he says, then promptly sneezes. His caretaker tells him not to worry—his appearance is still intact. After a few dull moments, I realize Virokoe isn't too keen on introducing himself. Not that he needs to. “Are you new or something?”

    “Oh.” I hadn't thought that far ahead. “Yes. Like I said, my name's Annie. I was assigned to... help you with anything you need.”

    “But everyone helps me with what I need,” he deadpans.

    “Well, I'm going to pay extra attention to you. I'll be your servant or something,” I say, grinning amiably.

    “Everyone's my servant.” Virokoe shakes his head. “If you're not here to praise me, go.”

    My brow furrows, but I fix it before Virokoe notices and decides I'm not a potential trainer. It seems Virokoe's sin is vanity, and truthfully, I'm guilty of that, too, though I don't take it to the extreme. I have to set myself aside in favor of my pokémon, or I'll never be able to reach anyone's heart. That's what I had learned in all my years of wanting to be a therapist. Nothing's changed except faces, names and circumstances.

    “Sorry to bother you,” I say. I lightly pet the top of Virokoe's head, which proves to be a mistake. Virokoe instantly succumbs to a tantrum, jumping off of his chair and running around in circles, crying about how the commercial is ruined, ruined. It takes a group of people to calm him down, to say they can redo his fur and make it appealing again. They resist picking him up, though, lest they want him to claw their eyes out, but eventually they have no choice but to settle him down with force.

    I flee before I'm kicked out.

    I hide behind the room's door, breathing heavily. I hadn't meant to leave a bad impression from the get-go. I had tried to be friendly, but it'll take a bit more than that to earn the purrloin's approval, it seems.

    I release Kephi as my backup. He materializes in a flash, unperturbed by the unfamiliar surroundings. The light bounces off of his bright eyes and he's about to curse when I hush him by clapping a hand over his mouth.

    “I found Virokoe,” I say, then I slowly remove my hand.

    “Am I supposed to care?” he snarls, but despite himself, he turns around and surveys the scene. Virokoe's panting and holding the sides of his head like it's about to explode or detach from his neck. “You did a number on him, and it's only day one.”

    “Tell me about it.” There's no use denying it. I'll just have to make it up to my pokémon, once I learn Virokoe's likes and dislikes.

    “Don't be rude, bitch. Did you ever think that you're not meant to have Virokoe on the team? Go catch another purrloin.”

    “Purrloin are from Unova. We're in Sinnoh. Nice try.”

    “I wouldn't mind going back.” It occurs to me that he actually remembers being in Unova, and I have yet to figure out how he got to Sandgem Town in the first place. I'm about to question him when he adds, “There's a reason Virokoe got so famous.”

    “Oh?”

    “His parents were stars, too. When they retired they were stolen and forced to be battling pokémon. The police never found them. You're gonna scar him for life if you do the same to him.”

    I sigh. Not only does Virokoe need less of an ego boost, but also he's going to resent his team for the rest of his life. My vision of Kephi and Virokoe interacting with each other in a beneficial way goes out the window. “We'll have him come willingly,” I say, my voice betraying me.

    Kephi laughs heartily. “He's a vainglorious orphan ready to lock us all away in his dungeon at a moment's notice,” he adds.

    I don't appreciate the lack of support, and it's all I can do to keep herself from throwing him at Virokoe and letting him have a taste of his personality. Instead I peer at the box against the far wall, the one with decorations and accessories inside. I motion for Kephi to follow. He does, but regrets it when he realizes my plan.

    “Don't,” I say, snapping my fingers at him. “I need you for this!”

    Kephi mumbles something inaudible under his breath. He growls incessantly as I dress him with a bow tie around his neck and a small, infant-sized sock on each of his eight legs. I say it's a mixture of cuteness and seriousness. If Virokoe values beauty and dedication, then this is the best route to go down.

    “Put anything else on me and I'll suffocate you.”

    I don't doubt it. Suffocation doesn't require killing, after all. I crouch down to my knees and whisper a few commands in his ear. I want him to repeat the steps to me, but he's off on his own, initiating the mission before I can get him to talk.

    He makes his way over to the stage, where Virokoe pouts in his chair. He's being dolled up again and doesn't seem to want anyone else bothering him. Sensing this, Kephi uses his antennae to rotate the top hat back and forth, as if it's crooked. He's about to approach Virokoe when the make-up artists yells that he's done. Virokoe takes that as an invitation to hop out of the chair, snatch something behind the curtains, and flee to the other side of the set. I watch as he places a shiny object behind the garbage can, making sure to look around and ensure no one is eavesdropping. He leaves, and the production starts.

    Kephi's lost amongst the chaos. Virokoe is mewling, the human actors are singing in the most energetic of voices, and the filmmakers are moving every which way to achieve the perfect angle. I consider letting him be an unexpected part of the commercial, but I can't imagine that story going over well with the police. The lack of security members hovering around is unnerving enough as it is. Jubilife City must really trust its residents to not have to protect the station, or maybe that's the lobbyist's job, and he had failed fantastically.

    I wave Kephi in my general direction again. He sees me, but isn't able to scuttle through the crowd to get to me. I cover my face in embarrassment, wondering why my tiny bug-type can't be more inconspicuous. I point vigorously in the direction of the garbage can Virokoe had been at, and he manages to roam over there and claim Virokoe's object as his own. The sparkle is enough to catch anyone's eyes, but the workers are too preoccupied watching the star of the city.

    As Kephi brings the object over to me, I get a closer look. It's a necklace that has a black rim with a lilac-colored pendant lodged in the middle.

    “This must mean something to Virokoe. ...Let's keep it,” I say, pocketing the necklace. Kephi stares at me in disbelief, and I blush at the idea of being caught red handed in front of someone I'm supposed to set a good example for. “We'll give it to Virokoe later!” I add in an attempt to redeem myself. “It's a bargaining tool. I-I'm not going to sell it or anything!”

    I wait for him to express himself with a myriad of curses, but all he says is, “How devious.”

    It's too risky to wait until the production is finished. I don't know how long the filming will take, if or when security will show up, and besides, I can hear Kephi's stomach growl from a mile away, as if he hadn't sneaked off on his own to obtain his own breakfast. It's nearing four o'clock and leaving to eat gives Virokoe just long enough to freak out over his missing necklace. He'll go searching for it, and I'll be outside the television station when he walks out haphazardly and lost, ready to strike a bargain.

    As predicted, Kephi's hungry. What I don't expect is just how much he can eat. He's barely up to my knees and he doesn't weigh much but he can scarf down a salad faster than I can skim the menu and pick what I want. I order him a second salad in case he wants it, and I buy five cans of tuna and the most expensive food bowl in the pokémart for good measure.

    And as predicted, Virokoe bolts out the television station's front door—or, he would have, were it not a revolving door. He screeches and the people near him have to hold their ears lest they want to experience hearing loss. He's screaming intelligibly, too, which doesn't make things any more tolerable.

    We watch from a bench on the other side of the street. It's turning dark, and the streetlight is on, illuminating our presence. I pull the necklace out of my undershirt and let it glow. It captures Virokoe's attention in a flash, and immediately he bounds over to us, gasping for breath.

    You!” he says, then his eyes widen. He licks his paws nonchalantly and tries again. “I remember you. I saw you earlier.”

    “Yeah. You did. And I saw you... misplace this,” I say, fingering the necklace.

    “Stop! You're... dirtying it,” he finishes lamely. I almost laugh at Virokoe's attempts to be civil.

    “Sorry.” I fold my hands in my lap. “Is that better?”

    “...Yeah.” There's a pause, awkward and stagnant. “Why did you take it?”

    “Well, we didn't exactly start off on the wrong foot. I wanted to make it up to you!” I say, flashing him my friendliest smile. It worked with Kephi, so why not Virokoe? Being nice—even if it's fake—can go a long way. Kill them with kindness, or so they say.

    “Oh?” Virokoe looks away. “And how are you going to do that.” It's not a question, and if it is, he already knows the answer.

    “Well, ah, see, that's a long story,” I say. I lean forward and cup my chin with my hands, still smiling. “See my venipede here? He's from Unova. So are you.”

    “You don't want money?” His ears flatten against his forehead in embarrassment.

    “No...”

    “That's all I have,” Virokoe snaps. “Take it or leave it.”

    “No! I don't need money. I'm a trainer—”

    “Trainers need money just as much as anyone else!” Virokoe says. He sits down, probably knowing this argument could escalate and last longer than necessary.

    “Okay. Fair enough. You can give me money and you can be my pokémon.” There. I've said it, and I can't turn back. Virokoe is from Unova, is more than stubborn, and needs help before he spirals out of control, according to Kyurem. I can't face the guilt of simply letting him go back to his life of filming and corrupting fame.

    Virokoe's jaw drops. “What?”

    “I'm a foreign pokémon collector,” I say carefully. “And, quite frankly, you're foreign. You're perfect. Splendid. And all those other great synonyms.”

    “I am perfect,” Virokoe starts, “but that's why the TV wants me. Because I'm fresh, new and exciting.”

    “You can be that and more if you can with me.”

    His brow arches in confusion. “Go on.”

    “I'll train you. Those people you work with... What do they really know about pokémon? I'm a trainer. I can understand you better than anyone ever could.”

    “What do you know about acting?”

    “Nothing. She's a wreck to watch,” Kephi chimes in, topping off his entrance with a chuckle.

    “Kephi, you're not helping,” I say. I won't return him to his pokéball, though, unless I want to give Virokoe yet another reason to say no. “Virokoe, listen to me. You're a star in Jubilife City. What about the rest of the world? I'm traveling from city to city. Literally everyone will know your name if you'd just come with me.” Never mind the fact that I don't want Virokoe to be famous at all, but I can deal with that another time.

    “Tsk,” Virokoe says, shaking his head. “I don't think so.”

    “Your Kyurem god still hates you,” Kephi echoes. I pet him on the head and rub him roughly, sending a silent message that I'll deal with him later, too.

    I try a different approach. I have to acknowledge all aspects of the situation if I hope to win Virokoe over. “Do you like collecting things?” I ask.

    “As if that wasn't obvious enough. More belongings, more fame. More fame, more money.”

    “And do you find a lot of treasures in Jubilife...?”

    “Don't think you can persuade me that easily. No, I don't.”

    “You could collect a lot more with me, in peoples' homes, in other cities, in landmarks like the Dragonspiral Tower and Old Chateau...”

    “And the money?”

    “Don't tell me you actually get to keep the money you make?” I ask. I'll be surprised if I'm right. Pokémon holding money when some humans struggle to succeed financially? The idea is absurd.

    “It goes to the station. And the directors... and producers...” Virokoe's voice grows quieter the more he talks.

    “If you come with me, all my money goes to you and my other pokémon.”

    “No.”

    “Huh?”

    “Forget the venipede. He can take my place if I leave.”

    I clamp a hand over Kephi's mouth before he can speak. “Then I'd be right back where I started! He's foreign, too. I need him. Besides, he's not beautiful enough, don't you think?”

    “When was the last time you gave him a bath?”

    Honestly, I haven't given him a bath yet. “Just yesterday.”

    “He'd need one every day. I need one every day.”

    “He doesn't like baths.”

    “Then he won't fit the role.”

    “I'm sure they'll find someone else,” I say with a grin.“It's so easy, isn't it? Finding replacements.”

    Virokoe's eyes squint, as if light is invading his retinas. “My parents,” he says. “You know about them.”

    “You could say that.” It's time to be sincere and soft, not manipulative (though I don't have any other choice). “Virokoe, they don't care about you. They just need someone to say a few lines. They just need someone to bat their eyelashes in front of the camera.”

    “Give me a bath every day.”

    “I can do that—”

    “I wake up at eight o'clock sharp. I eat at nine-thirty, no later, and no sooner. I eat two meals a day. Catnip for breakfast, tuna for dinner. Seven o'clock sharp! Bath when I'm done. My bedtime is eleven o'clock. If I don't fall asleep in fifteen minutes or less, you did something wrong. I don't care about the rest, as long as people are looking at me.”

    I let out a breath I didn't know I had been holding, unsure if I can remember the list that fast. “Plenty of people will look at you, don't worry.” I hope it's a lie, if only because no one outside of Jubilife can recognize Virokoe, or I'll be accused of theft. Speaking of which... “Why are there no guards in the TV station?”

    “I got them all fired.” He extends his paws. “Necklace, please, or you're next.”

    I hand it to him and watch him put it around his neck. “Where'd you get it?”

    “Saw a hairdresser wearing it behind the curtains. I took it when I could. I needed something to keep me sane after you tussled my fur.”

    I laugh. “Can I do it again?”

    “No,” he says, but there's a hint of duplicity in the way he says it.

    That's fine with me. Two pokémon down, four to go.

    *

    I take Virokoe to the Pokémon Center, Kephi following behind slowly. It seems he was taken aback by my behavior during the Virokoe exchange. I'll have to make it up to him later. I hope my journey isn't always like this, having to shove one pokémon away in favor of another.

    Nurse Joy, of course, knows of Virokoe. She exclaims that she's never seen the star in person, but boy is it ever an honor to serve someone of that caliber. I pretend I'm a worker at the television station bringing him in for a checkup, and Nurse Joy complies, more than willingly.

    I sit on the bench nearest to the counter, intending to overhear whether or not Virokoe reveals himself as a stolen pokémon. Nothing of the sort happens, however. There's only Nurse Joy throwing compliment after compliment in Virokoe's general direction. The feline's purrs of contentment can be heard as far as the front door of the lobby, too. Embarrassed, I change seats.

    I bring Kephi with me. Kephi, who's been uncharacteristically quiet up until this point. It had been yet another long day—we already need a vacation, it seems—and he's not the youngest ball of energy every single second of every single day, so I think maybe he's just tired. I pet him on the head, as I had done earlier rather roughly, but this time it's gentler and done with affection. He says nothing, not even a muttered curse.

    Everything is wrong and yet nothing is out of place.

    “Kephi, what's wrong?” I ask in a singsong voice, picking him up and facing him in my direction so that he's forced to stare at me. His dull, golden eyes look past me.

    “I want you to know,” he says, “that there is absolutely nothing special about you.”

    “Oh.” My heart falls. So he is angry with me. “I never said I was special, though.”

    “I came with you to get stronger, because that's what you promised me. We've yet to have our first battle. We're not in a city with a gym. You barely grasped what the term starting pokémon meant before you went on another wild goose chase. It was crazy enough to fight a poison-type with your bare fists, but taking a pokémon away from his whole life is the straw that breaks the camerupt's back or whatever the fuck that saying is.” He takes a deep breath. I'm about to respond, but I'm not sure what I can do. I'm spared when he continues, “I'm not done talking, bitch. I came with you and you threw me away on a whim already, like I'm only as significant as what kind of cereal you had for breakfast. I hate you and your stupid decisions that don't count for anything.”

    “Kephi, it's not like that at all and you know it.” But clearly, he doesn't know it. It's just the first thing I can spit out of my mouth before he delivers another tirade. He's angry, upset, beyond that, beyond sarcasm and profanity. He's bitter and no type of poison in his body can seep into his organs and numb the pain.

    When I decided to be a therapist, I never imagined working with patients on a personal basis. I expected once-a-week sessions, once-a-month follow-up meetings, and outside work that would let me think now and act later. Kyurem had taken the rug out from under me, and I had fallen into a pit that led me straight to opposite of what I had wanted. It's not that I dislike Kephi, or Virokoe, or my other potential pokémon. I've just spent so long believing pokémon are invisible. Inferior. I can't help but forget they're not far from being human.

    I know it's not Kephi's fault. It's not particularly my fault, either. It's the way I was brought up, raised away from pokémon after my deerling's death, told to strive for something more than a grand pair of boots and a team of monsters that can carry me over mountains, rivers and forests. Similarly, Kephi must have had a past that haunts him, a past that makes him lean toward violence and quarrels. A past that reminds him of morals in certain situations but not in others.

    “Kephi,” I say again, “what did your old trainer do to you?”

    He smirks, but before he can tell me or refuse to tell me, Nurse Joy announces Virokoe's presence, bringing along yet another moment of awe.

    “The prince has arrived,” Kephi murmurs.

    “Prince?” Nurse Joy says, her voice piquing at the end of her question. “This mane is fit for a king!”

    I take Virokoe from the nurse with a quizzical expression. “King? Don't flatter him too much.”

    “[i]Hey[i]!” Virokoe cries. “We're not having this argument. I come from a royal family, so that makes me something like a king.”

    At this, Kephi bursts out into laughter. “Oh, that's priceless,” he says.

    I frown, more concerned with Kephi's offhand comments than Virokoe's vanity at the moment. I can't let Nurse Joy see my disappointment, though. “So, yeah, a king...”

    Nurse Joy pauses, then says slowly, “It's not too far from the truth. Virokoe's parents were highly regarded until—”

    “Oh,” I say, hugging Virokoe closer to my chest. “We don't need to go into that with Virokoe around.”

    “My parents would accept nothing less than for me to be a rich, beautiful and successful purrloin!” Virokoe intterpts. “You will refer to me as such, or you'll be my jester rather than my trainer.”

    “Trainer?” Nurse Joy says. “I thought—”

    “Virokoe's, ah, considering another line of work,” I explain quickly. “But yes, thank you for the enlightenment. Intriguing. Don't worry about Virokoe though. He's... in good hands.” And with that, I thank Nurse Joy again and retreat from the conversation. Reluctantly, Kephi follows. I don't miss how he looks back before the Pokémon Center's doors shut.

    Outside, Virokoe cries, “Put me down, you cretin!”

    I obey, afraid to put a dent in our relationship so soon, as I had unknowingly done with Kephi. Virokoe licks his paws and puts them down on the cement delicately, as if something will pop out from underground and scratch his skin.

    “So, uh, guys,” I say at a halfhearted attempt to earn their attention. “We need to get out of the city. Fast.”

    “Why?” Virokoe says.

    “If people see you, they'll get suspicious. They'll search for you and report you as missing. I think that's how it works, anyway.”

    “What about the workers?”

    “What about them?”

    “Are you dense? They didn't say good-bye to me.”

    I sigh. “They're not supposed to know you're leaving, Virokoe. Do you even care about them?”

    “...No.”

    “Then it's settled.” I pull a map of Sinnoh out of my backpack. “Canalave City is close by, but that gym is too tough.” I grin when Kephi's head snaps up, then I run my finger along the map to the north. “Floaroma Town? Do poison-types like flowers?”

    “I'm not a fucking combee,” he says, his grin fading.

    “Right. ...We'll go there some other time. Oreburgh City sounds best. That's where the first gym is, and we won't get bombarded by extremely rabid wild pokémon or something.”

    “Dramatic, aren't we,” Virokoe comments.

    I set my backpack on the ground, pulling out a coat and putting it around Virokoe's body. Virokoe struggles against the cloth. I keep my grip firm and say, “It's gonna get even more dramatic if you don't hide yourself with this. Come on. We're heading out.”

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


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


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


  17. #17
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    Finally caught up, and here's my review for chapter four

    He won't budge.
    Because he's suction cupped to the ground!

    “Put me in my pokéball, then. I want no part in this.”
    I'm sure you knew I would love Kephi. His sarcasm, swearing, his whole personality is wonderful. But that gruff statement I quoted really sums him up for me. He's like a grumpy old man

    I rant for five minutes straight before I'm left to my own devices again
    Really seems like something I could see you doing

    “Everyone's my servant.” Virokoe shakes his head. “If you're not here to praise me, go.
    Have Kephi slap him in the face

    “Stop! You're... dirtying it,” he finishes lamely. I almost laugh at Virokoe's attempts to be civil.
    I really like what you're doing with Virokoe's personality. Hints of OCD supplemented by a superiority complex. He'll probably be even more combative than Kephi, seeing as how he's used to so much structure and order and Annie basically Forrest Gump's her way through every situation thus far. I mean, I get why she's doing it and why she's not abandoning these Pokemon (because apparently they need reform), but as time goes on I'm starting to like her Pokemon more than for some reason haha

    'm not done talking, *****. I came with you and you threw me away on a whim already, like I'm only as significant as what kind of cereal you had for breakfast. I hate you and your stupid decisions that don't count for anything.
    Two things. First, the way he says bitch, and how often really makes me thing his previous trainer said it to him a lot. Hell, you could probably tell me more about the phenomena than I could, but I believe its something like the same negative reinforcement inspires the receiver to inflict the same thing on others. Not sure what its called but I think what's being demonstrated. Second thing, as surprisingly sentimental Annie can be, I really am kinda surprised she isn't treating Kephi with more care. I know she has thing thing to do but christ, it's not worth it if it comes at the cost of making Pokemon feel like ****. Annie is pissing me off. You're doing an awesome job

    “[i]Hey[i]!” Virokoe cries
    Formatting error

    “If people see you, they'll get suspicious. They'll search for you and report you as missing. I think that's how it works, anyway.
    Seems like something that should be obvious to her since she's twenty years old. Right? Or was that Kephi speaking?

    “I'm not a ****ing combee,” he says, his grin fading.
    Wow he cracks me up. I had no idea you had such a flair for comedy lol. Seriously though, it feels really effortless and natural. Great job!

    PM List please!

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

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


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

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