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Thread: Soft Summer Rain

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    Default Soft Summer Rain

    I've lurked on Serebii for a while. This site was part of my childhood and now, in my sleepless stupor, I've written something! A combination of rewatching old Diamond and Pearl episodes with the themes of various different animes, poems, and short stories have created this! Borrows from, "There Will Come Soft Rains" and "Ozymandias" with an attempt at a Seasons theme. This will have rewrite of certain episodes relevant to the plot.

    Summary: "Dad, why is it raining in summer?" These words intertwine the destiny of an ambitious boy with Dawn's. One strives to become a Top Coordinator. The other strives to change the world, at any cost. A look at the Pokemon world and its inevitable conclusions through an epic journey. Subtle Ikarishipping.


    Prologue: Soft Summer Rain

    "Daddy?" A young boy asked, his golden yellow baseball cap tossed haphazardly on the window sill in front of him. Its soft top collapsed as the boy poked it innocently, his face scrunched up as much as the baseball cap was. The boy gave a small smile and turned it to the front. Three squiggles stood out in black, contrasting the darker yellow surrounding it. His face scrunched up again and he looked back up, through the window.

    An older man, his hair partially whitened with age, looked down on the boy. His dull brown eyes began to show signs of life upon looking down at the young boy. "Yes, my son?"

    The boy did not look at the old man and instead, looked through the window, attempting to look past the drips of water obscuring his view of the outside. The pitter patter of raindrops hitting the window kept him engrossed, watching as the Sun shined indirectly down on the freshly cut lawn right outside of the window. Neither the boy nor the old man could see the Sun, merely the hazy glow it left.

    The boy stared at the lawn hard, knowing there had to be a sound to all the rain hitting the lawn. But he could not hear it over the rhythmic impact on the window. "Why does it rain in the summer?"

    The old man chuckled and knelt on one knee, his face slightly contorting into an expression of pain but disappearing as fast as the individual droplets of rain on the window.

    "Well Callum, if it didn't rain in the summer, what would the poor plants and Pokémon drink in the summer?"

    The boy, Callum, shook his head and smiled . "Lake Verity!"

    Callum felt a hand placed on his head as he looked down at his baseball cap. He tilted his head and the tip of his thumb drifted into his mouth, hovering between his lips and baby teeth. The young boy's dark brown eyes widened slightly as the Sun slowly began drifting into view.

    "My father used to tell me that when Arceus created this world, he allowed the rain to fall in the summer, without obscuring the Sun, so that we can all learn to love his Sun without being choked by its heat. And so, the clash of different ideals chaotically maintains enough order for life to exist..."

    The old man chuckled, his voice deep and slow. "But you don't want to hear your old man ramble on...when the rain stops, let's go to Lake Verity. There's something I must show you, and you can take a drink from Lake Verity if you want. It's not the same as the rain, I'll tell you that much."

    Callum nodded in affirmation and slowly reached to grab his baseball cap, his eyes drifting slowly away from the slowly stopping rain. 'Love his Sun...chaos? Order?' Callum thought idly. The thought subsided as his dad ushered him to his room to get dressed for the trip to Lake Verity. As soon as they left the house, Callum ran as fast as he could, his feet splashing the small puddles on the ground as his father failed to calm down the excited boy. He took a sigh and looked on at the young boy, full of energy, as his eyes twinkled with tears.


    Two Years Later

    "My, my! You've grown up so fast! I remember when you were just a little tot," a blue haired woman cooed, her hair large in volume and poofy. Callum looked up from behind his dad's legs and gave a shy smile. He could barely see her with the rim of his baseball cap in the way. It didn't help how tall she was. 'She's almost as tall as dad!' Callum though with amazement.

    His dad looked behind him and gave a sigh. "Say hello to Miss Johanna, Callum."

    "Hello ma'am," Callum said with a shaky voice. His father shook his head and sighed.

    "I'm sorry Johanna, it's been a long time. Last time you've seen him...was it 3 years ago? 4 years?" The father asked. "A lot has happened."

    Johanna, who had been looking at him with sad eyes, averted her gaze as though she was unworthy. "Listen, Mr. Aurus --"

    "Johanna, I told you that it's been years since I was Mr. Aurus. I'm just an old man now," The father said, his voice wavering but still maintaining his baritone, slow way of speaking. "Just call me Boris."

    "Boris, I know what the doctors said. Listen, you've been good to me for so many years. Heck, I would've never won the Hearthome Contest without your help! You can count on me to take care of Callum…" Johanna whispered, her voice close to breaking.

    The old man, Boris, looked down at Callum, who eyed him back with a suspicious look. Callum's face scrunched up as it did when he was thinking. It was soon replaced by a look of inquisitive suspicion. "Daddy, are you going somewhere? Is Miss Johanna gonna be my babysitter?"

    Johanna averted her eyes as she felt a choking sob coming. Boris looked down on his only son with a look of pity and regret. He felt his eyes tear up but no tears fell. Instead, the old man gave a chuckle as he grabbed the rim of Callum's yellow baseball cap between the gentle grip of his index finger and thumb.

    "Callum, my boy, daddy's not going anywhere. Miss Johanna is just…kidding."

    From the look in Callum's eyes, Boris knew he couldn't fool his son. 'Only 6 years old and he knows something's wrong…' The old man sighed. "You'll know when you're older," He finally said after enduring a full minute of his son looking at him with those inquisitive eyes.

    The son's cheeks puffed up in anger and he stomped his foot on the ground, his previous shyness gone. "I'm six years old! I'm old enough!" He crossed his arms in anger while looking down and mumbling something to himself.

    Boris chuckled. "Johanna," he said slowly, tearing his gaze away from his son to the young woman in front of him. "How old is Dawn now?"

    With those words, Johanna's eyes once filled with tears looked on with a brighter glint of happiness. She could speak now without choking back a sob. "She's going to turn four in just five days. Aha, she's getting to be kind of a handful now. I'm going to enroll her in Kindergarten after this summer. She'll be going to Callum's old class if I remember."

    Johanna turned her gaze to the young boy still crossing his arms. "Hey Callum," she started, getting the boy's attention. "Dawn's going to have a little birthday party next Friday. Do you want to go?"

    Pretending to think about it, the boy shuffled his feet in place, looking intensely at an inconspicuous looking rock on the ground. His gaze didn't leave it for a couple seconds but he soon spoke. "Yes Miss," he said quietly, but with an edge of excitement seeping into his voice so distinctly that both of the adults could hear it clearly. Johanna smiled but it was wiped when she saw the older man in front of her attempting to hide a violent cough from his son.

    "Boris…how long do you have?" Johanna asked quietly after she stared at Callum, wearing an oblivious grin on his face. She could tell he was excited for the party by the way his feet shuffled excitedly and how he twiddled his thumbs with glee.

    The old man looked down on his child and shook his head. "Not long. A year and half at most."

    Callum looked up at his father but held his tongue this time. 'Daddy's going somewhere, in a year and half?' He wondered. But his thoughts slowly turned to the party he was going to in just a few days. Callum giggled with excitement, swaying back and forth.


    Five Days Later


    Woosh…woosh…woosh…"OW!"

    Boris shook his head and looked at the six year old, sprawled on the floor and holding his forehead in pain. A black t-shirt displaying a Cherubi and Sunflora smiling underneath the sun laid on the floor next to the young boy. The boy's blue jeans, still unbuttoned and unzipped, barely clung to his legs as he began squirming and kicking as his father pried his hands off of his forehead to check the damage.

    "Callum, I told you not to run around. Dawn's party doesn’t start for another hour."

    In response, Callum just groaned and sniffled. The old father said nothing and opted instead to raise the child's arms up as he gently put the t-shirt on him. "Is that better?"

    Callum nodded in affirmation, tears lingering in his eyes but managing to give a big smile. A small red welt remained in the center of his forehead, where he had run into the door frame in his excitement to get out of his bedroom.

    With his father's help, Callum managed to get dressed in time, opting instead to wear shorts that his father managed to find in the bowels of the six year old child's closet. It was summer after all.

    Hand in hand, the two walked to Dawn's house in the next block over. From Callum's house, he could see a glimpse of a few stray balloons on their front porch. They weren't close enough to be neighbors but for the purposes of walking to and fro, it was just a few minute walk. Taking advantage of the brief time the two had, Boris looked down at the young boy next to him.

    "Son, what kind of person do you want to be?" He asked.

    The boy next to him gave a knowing smile. "I wanna be Callum!" The boy declared with a hint of smugness, thinking he outsmarted his old man.

    The old man chuckled. "I mean, I heard little Dawn wants to be a coordinator. When I was your age, I wanted to be a Pokémon Master. What about you?"

    That gave Callum some pause as his smile disappeared and his face scrunched up as he stared up at the bright blue sky, the afternoon sunlight down on him and his father with a calming warmth. "Um…" Callum thought for a second. His answer came when he saw a pair of Starly pass by, their features obscured by the sun's glare, looking like a pair of dark bird shaped shadows on a blue backdrop.

    "I wanna be like Mr. Rowan!" He declared, thrusting the hand his father wasn't holding up into the air. "I wanna study Pokémon and be the best Pokémon sci…sci…scintist ever!"

    "Scientist, son," the old man corrected but smiled. "You're a clever boy though. I'm sure you'll be able to do it. But remember, the best Pokémon professors love their Pokémon like family and friends. I remember Professor Rowan had a Staraptor he truly loved and cared for when we were young."

    He chuckled. "Your mother would be proud…she was a scientist too, you know? Actually was one of Professor Rowan's assistants."

    Callum's eyes widened. "Wow! Did mom meet a lot of cool Pokémon?"

    Boris' eyes averted from Callum's gaze and sighed. "Yeah…your mother was an incredible trainer too, before she became a scientist. Took down a bunch of gym leader, almost got to the Elite Four. That egg in the living room is her Umbreon's, you know? Heh, she loved that Umbreon…"

    The young boy raised his eyebrow as his dad began drifting off, looking at the sky. His chillingly contrasting expression to the cheery weather sent a shiver through the six year old. But Callum brushed it off, wondering whether Dawn would like him or not.

    His and his father's thoughts were interrupted by a purring. It was a Glameow! Callum giggled as Glameow haughtily looked upon the two before swishing her tail at Callum and heading inside of Dawn's house. Soon after, Johanna appeared in the doorway and smiled at the pair.

    "Welcome to the party! Dawn's in the kitchen. You can go play with her while I talk to your father," Johanna said to Callum. He nodded and wandered in the house, looking around, his eyes sparkling with curiosity about this new environment. Slowly, Callum wandered into the kitchen with his father and Johanna trailing behind.

    As Johanna said, in the kitchen, a blue haired girl sat at the counter with a big grin on her face, looking intently at the archway to the kitchen. Her eyes glimmered with excitement and the grin got wider as she watched the distracted young boy wander in.

    "Hi! I'm Dawn!" The blue haired girl exclaimed, having quickly gotten down from her seat and extending her hand forward, startling the boy. Callum yelped and jumped back a few inches, startled. He blushed, rubbing his hand on the back of his head, fiddling with his short black hair, which may as well have been a black patch on his head given its length. Callum felt his heart race and shrank back slowly but without any urgency in the movement. Dawn tilted her head in confusion.

    Behind Callum, his father pushed him gently towards Dawn. "It's okay son. She won't bite."

    Callum approached the girl slowly and took the hand that was still extended. "Um…hi. I'm Callum."

    "Dawn, Callum is our neighbor from a block up. He's just a few years older than you and goes to the same school that you'll be going to after this summer," Johanna explained. Dawn's eyes widened and grasped the hand that Callum had given to her.

    "Wow! Tell me about it! Are there any cute Pokémon we get to play with?" Dawn exclaimed. Callum hesitated for a second, glancing back at his father. The old man nodded as he placed a hand on Callum's head.

    "I'm not going to be around forever, Callum," his father began, which prompted Johanna to give him a piercing glare. The old man continued, unfazed by the younger woman's gaze. "You need friends. Go, son. See if you can't help Dawn out. You ARE the older one," He said, giving his son a sly look at his last statement.

    Callum hesitantly allowed Dawn to drag him to a portion of the living room dedicated to the party. Dawn's orange shirt and yellow skirt flittered slightly at how fast she attempted to drag the poor older boy to the "party room." Balloons and streamers littered the room and its walls with a suffocating entourage of red, blue, and yellow letters spelling out, "Happy Birthday Dawn." Dawn looked at Callum with a funny expression, before breaking out in a smile.

    "Thanks Callum!" She exclaimed.

    Callum gave a light, embarrassed smile as he realized he read the polychromatic set of letters and the message it had spelled out loud. He shrugged and stood in the middle of the balloons and colorful paper ribbons and streamers, awkwardly shuffling his feet. Callum's stupor was broken when Dawn spoke again, her excited voice cutting through Callum's attempt to focus on his shuffling feet.

    "Sooo," Dawn began, "What's school like?"

    Not knowing how to begin, Callum shifted his weight around for a few seconds while Dawn grew visibly impatient waiting for the older boy to reply.

    "Nice, I guess. Dad says I have the best grades in the class…" Callum said, still looking down. When he looked up, he saw Dawn's face puff up and her lips scrunched up into a pout. She crossed her arms.

    "You're no fun! What about Pokémon?" Dawn asked. Callum drifted away again, instead opting to look out the window behind Dawn, at the houses lining the street and then the sky, forming the picturesque scene of a small town he had seen multiple times in his picture books and TV.

    Callum opened his mouth to speak but shut it and crossed his arms, mirroring the blue haired girl in front of him. "I heard we're getting a Plusle and Minun. Happy?"

    The blue haired girl's pout deepened. "No need to be a grump," she muttered. Her eyes sparkled once more and the second Callum saw the sign of the oncoming questions, he sighed. Much to Callum's discomfort, Dawn fired off a series of other questions ranging from school to his favorite Pokémon.

    In the kitchen, Boris blankly looked at the two kids, too far away to hear the conversation but close enough to see that Callum remained shy and insulated, much to his chagrin. Johanna gave her much older friend a reassuring smile. She placed her hand on his and looked in his eyes.

    "If anyone can coax Callum out of his shell, it'll be Dawn," Johanna reassured. Boris shook his head and looked down on her hand resting on his own.

    "I trust Callum," Boris replied with some uncertainty in his voice. "But I don't know what to do with him. He's so much like his mother…almost scary. It's like I'm looking at a male version of her when she was a child…"

    Johanna chuckled. "It's okay. Remember when I was just a kid…Mistah Aurus?" She teased, making sure to playfully mispronounce, "Mister." Boris let out a baritone laugh, followed by a small cough, his old lungs worn out from the sudden burst of laughter.
    "I was barely 18. Hardly a 'Mistah.'" Boris replied. "If there's anything about Callum I regret…it's that we had him so late. If we were just a decade earlier, Callum wouldn't have to grow up without a mother…or father."

    Johanna turned away without a reply, her hand instinctively squeezing the older man's hand tighter. "I looked up to you, you know. You were the only one who risked their neck for me. Even when I had no name and no title. I promise to care for Callum like I care for Dawn."

    Back in the living room, Callum felt himself grow more comfortable as he answered each and every question. At first, he deflected every question or answered them simply. But Dawn's persistence began to crack through as Callum felt himself obligated to answer each of her questions and playful jests with as much theatrics and soul as possible.

    "Wow, and then what?" Dawn asked, her mouth wide open and her mind completely entranced on what Callum was saying. The previously shy boy continued his story with an unmatched vigor as he waved his arms around dramatically.

    "And then Buneary went BAM!" He yelled, as his hand mimicked the flight path of said Buneary and ending up in his open palm. "Then I said, 'Bidoof, use tackle!' and he did! I won!"

    Callum spread his arms wide and cockily smiled, recalling the practice Pokémon battle his class did as an exercise.

    "Cool story!" A high pitched male voice exclaimed. Dawn and Callum spun around together to see a brown haired boy sporting the same blue shorts that Callum wore but instead wore a blue collar shirt instead of a t-shirt. A girl matching the boy's hair color but with longer locks stood behind him, wearing a pink colored skirt that matched Dawn's design. Callum instinctively took a step back and muttered a thanks.

    Dawn on the other hand excitedly approached the two. "Hi Kenny, Leona! This is my new friend, Callum!"

    At the mention of his name, Callum froze. His mind pondered what Dawn had just said. 'I'm…her friend?' He thought nervously. Callum nervously cleared his throat.

    "Uh hi. I live just a block up from Dawn…I think I'm two years older than you guys," Callum said, stumbling on his words. The two newcomers took the opportunity then to announce a happy birthday to Dawn and talk to the two. Again, as with Dawn, Callum began to get into his theatrics, entertaining the younger children with his stories of his glorious battles in the Pokémon battle exercises. He couldn't help but smile as he regaled the audience with his flailing arms and sound effects.

    Unbeknownst to him or the other children, his father stared at the group playing from the kitchen. He smiled, content.


    One Year Later

    'This smell is all wrong…it's so…so…dead' Callum thought to himself as he wandered through the white, sterile hallways of Twinleaf Hospital. A baby Eevee followed closely behind him, its fur rustling together and the small steps of the brown Pokémon making a quiet but distinct noise amidst the rolling of wheels and chatter of patients.

    "Excuse me, are you Mr. Callum Aurus?" A nurse asked him from behind. Callum spun around and smiled.

    "Yes ma'am!" He said with a considerably louder volume than the nurse expected, startling the young woman. After the surprise, the nurse looked on the young seven year old with sad eyes and shook her head in pity. She told Callum to follow her and he did so, the Eevee trailing behind him.

    The nurse slowly opened the door to a hospital room, Room 126, and ushered the boy in. Callum looked on in confusion as he saw his best friend's mother, Johanna, staring at his father with a depressed look, her normally well kept poofy hair now saggy and kept down, kind of like Dawn, except a lot less elegant to Callum's eyes.

    "Miss Dawn's mom?" Callum asked uncertainly. Johanna looked up from the old man, who no longer had the distinct white hair that Callum had known him for. Now, not even white remained on his head. Johanna looked back at the boy who had come over to her house almost every day since the birthday party. She felt her voice crack as she spoke.

    "Come here Callum," she said gently. The confused boy complied as the young woman picked her up and set him down on a chair next to her, and closer to the old father. Callum waved his hand in front of his father.

    "Dad?" Callum asked. His father kept his eyes closed and said nothing. "Dad? Why'd Officer Jenny drop me off here?"

    No response. Callum suddenly began to panic. "Dad?" He called again. There was no sound except the gentle rhythm of the heart monitor beeping, every second. Every agonizing second as the two waited for a response.

    A new sound filled the room. Unlike the agonizing consistency of the beeping, it came in a chaotic series of pitter patter sounds. Callum looked up at the hospital window across from him. The sun was still shining but the window was wet, each raindrop contrasting the monotonous rhythm of the beeping heart monitor with a stochastic staccato of water hitting glass.

    "Is the Sun out?" Boris asked, much to the relief of the two visitors.

    "Yeah dad," Callum replied quickly. "Why don't you open your eyes and see for yourself?"

    His father chuckled lightly, his baritone replaced by a raspy series of wheezes that barely constituted a laugh. "I don't think I can, my dearest Callum."

    Johanna closed her eyes as well, her hands balling into fists. "Callum…your father can’t see anymore. And soon…he'll...be going away."

    Callum's heart quickened, beating no longer at the steady rate that the heart monitor had inadvertently been keeping but fluctuating wildly to the tune of the rain outside. "But dad, I don't want you to go! I haven't even started my journey yet!"

    "My son, it is truly an agony to leave without seeing the beauty of this world. Could you describe what the outside looks like?"

    The pitter patter of raindrops hitting the window kept him engrossed once again, watching as the Sun shined indirectly down on the freshly cut lawn right outside of the window. Neither the boy nor the old man could see the Sun. "It's raining dad…but the sun's out."

    "Son, why is it raining when it's summer?"

    Callum didn't say a word, neither did Johanna. He could scarcely remember the conversation that he and his father had and simply looked down. Callum's voice went as he managed to choke out, "I don't know dad."

    "There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground," his father started. "Soft summer rains are how the world reminds us that every sunny day can…end. But how every rainstorm will reveal a sunny day. Appreciate the Sun, every day. It can be taken away so fast…"

    A shrill bark interrupted the dying father as a fluffy creature leapt onto his body. "Baby Eevee?" He whispered. Eevee responded with a bark in response.

    "Callum, take care of this Pokémon. It's your mother's favorite Umbreon's offspring. It might as well be your baby sister."

    Still resistant to what he knew in the back of his mind, Callum's choked out a yes. "But dad, when will you come back?"

    "I will wait for you with your mother. Fulfill your dream son. Become the best Pokémon professor ever. We'll be watching you from wherever we are. We'll see you again…after many many years."

    Callum heard a flatline. He saw Dawn's mom quietly crying. He tasted something bitter. He smelled the smell of rain. He felt a scream. Then he heard, saw, tasted, smelled, and felt nothing.


    3 Years Later


    "Promise me you'll call?" Dawn asked, refusing to give up her stranglehold on the ten year old boy, wearing a brown collared shirt and sleek black pants, carrying a duffle bag over one shoulder. Callum looked down and ruffled Dawn's blue hair.

    "I will, dear. I'll call before I get to Jubilife! No need to worry," He said, reciting Dawn's catchphrase. The blue haired girl slapped him in the arm and pouted, crossing her arms.

    "That's when I worry the most," She muttered to herself as she backed off, letting the new trainer out of her grip. Callum got on his yellow bike and after a few awkward seconds, he smiled at Dawn.

    "Make sure to pay attention to your school work and watch my battles on TV! Next time we talk in person, you'll be talking to the Sinnoh Champion!"


    "Hi Dawn, just calling to say I got to Jubilife safe! Guess what I got? My very own Pokétch! Oh yeah, jeez, I didn't call when I got to Professor Rowan's lab, did I? I chose Turtwig as my starter! But I still have my Eevee. Not really a battling Pokémon but...I couldn't leave him at home."

    Intermission

    "Hey Miss Dawn's Mom…yeah I still call you that. Calling to say that I'm alright! I won my second Gym battle! Took long enough…"

    Intermission

    "Dawn, you know Kurt? No? Well pay more attention in your Science classes! He's this amazing Pokéball maker in Johto. He came to Sinnoh 'cause of some meeting with a scholar here. I got to talk to him about Pokéballs! I might just want to become a Pokéball maker myself…"

    Intermission - Seven Months

    "Okay okay, I'll call more often! I was just busy getting ready for the Lily of the Valley conference. Yeah, I know! I can't believe I got all eight badges. Watch my battle, will ya?"

    Intermission

    "…Thanks Dawn. I didn't know how unprepared I was. Yeah, it was kinda pathetic, right? Losing in the second battle? I guess my Beldum needs more practice. Anyways, I won't be coming home. Sorry Dawn, but I want to seek out Kurt. I've been researching space-time dilation and multidimensional theory…I told you to pay attention in Science class. He's the key to my dream."

    Intermission - Four Months

    "That man…Kurt. He refused to teach me anything. Said I didn't love Pokémon enough. What does he know?! Okay, I was lying…he told me that my ambition was dangerous. Still, my point stands. It's my life, I can decide for myself! Dad told me to pursue my dreams…I have to continue."

    Intermission - Two Months

    "Hey Callum? It's Dawn. Mom wants to know where you are and if you're coming home now that there's nothing to do in Johto. What do you mean no?! What…I…no! I'm totally for your dream! But…no…okay"

    "What do you want Dawn? I'm not coming home. How dare you interfere with my dream? No, I'm going to Mount Silver. I heard all the wise and powerful trainers have journeyed there before. Maybe I'll meet one and get things sorted out. Then I'll come home."

    Intermission - 11 Months

    "…"



    "Dawn, are you up?"

    "I am so up!"


    END CHAPTER


    Next Chapter: Spring - Time of Amity
    Last edited by Espionage735; 11th August 2015 at 10:41 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hi there! Welcome to the forums! It's nice to see someone else has read Ray Bradbury around here Anyways, I thought I'd go ahead and leave a review just to point out some critiques I have and what I thought about your overall prologue.

    On the grammar side of things, you had a lot of little slip-ups--most things that can easily be fixed by proofreading more carefully. A few examples:

    [The boy, Callum, shook his head and smiled . "Lake Verity!"
    No need for a space after "smiled."

    'Love his Sun...chaos? Order?' Callum thought idly.
    You need a space between the ellipses and "chaos."

    [I'm sorry Johanna, it's been a long time. Last time you've seen him...was it 3 years ago? 4 years?" The father asked. "A lot has happened."
    3 and 4 should be spelled out; "Was it three years ago? Four years?" Any time the number is less than one-hundred, you spell the word out instead of using the numbers themselves.

    Which brings up and inconsistency here:
    'Only 6 years old and he knows something's wrong…' The old man sighed. "You'll know when you're older," He finally said after enduring a full minute of his son looking at him with those inquisitive eyes.

    The son's cheeks puffed up in anger and he stomped his foot on the ground, his previous shyness gone. "I'm six years old! I'm old enough!
    You use 6 at the beginning, but when Callum speaks, you use "six." It should be "six" both times.

    Woosh…woosh…woosh…"OW!"
    You should always have a space between ellipses and periods and whatever comes after them. You did that fairly often in the prologue, such as the above example.
    And on that note, you used a lot of ellipses here in general, which is fine, but it can cause things to have a sort of detached, dreamlike quality. Since this chapter skips around his timeline so much, I'd say it works out all right, but it's just something to bear in mind for the future.

    "I wanna be Callum!" The boy declared with a hint of smugness, thinking he outsmarted his old man.
    "The" should have a lower-cased "t" since this is all one sentence. If there wasn't an exclamation point after Callum, it would read as:

    "I wanna be Callum," the boy declared...

    You did that a couple of times this chapter, such as here:
    "Son, what kind of person do you want to be?" He asked.
    "He" should have a lower-case "h."

    "Sooo," Dawn began, "What's school like?"
    "What's" should have a lower-case "w" for the same reasons.

    Johanna chuckled. "It's okay. Remember when I was just a kid…Mistah Aurus?" She teased, making sure to playfully mispronounce, "Mister." Boris let out a baritone laugh, followed by a small cough, his old lungs worn out from the sudden burst of laughter.
    "I was barely 18. Hardly a 'Mistah.'" Boris replied. "If there's anything about Callum I regret…it's that we had him so late. If we were just a decade earlier, Callum wouldn't have to grow up without a mother…or father."
    Watch the spacing! There ought to be a second space between these paragraphs.

    'This smell is all wrong…it's so…so…dead'
    You're a bit inconsistent with this part; before, when characters were thinking, you would italicize their thoughts and here you don't. Either way is fine, but just make sure that you use the same method throughout your story.
    Also, you need a period after 'dead.'

    Another thing I noticed (though I'm not quite sure if this is a grammar error) is that you kept on capitalizing "Sun." As far as I can tell, this is just the ordinary sun, which is always lower-cased, so I'm not sure as to why you kept capitalizing the "S."

    As far as your style goes, you get a bit too purple prose-y. I appreciate that you're trying to be descriptive and add flavor to your story, but sometimes it just gets in the way of what you're trying to tell. Like here:
    Three squiggles stood out in black, contrasting the darker yellow surrounding it.
    I spent a little time on this sentence, just because it was difficult for me to get through. It's not really necessary either; you've already mentioned that the cap was yellow and that it was wrinkled, so this sentence just kinda threw me off and felt clunky.

    An older man, his hair partially whitened with age, looked down on the boy. His dull brown eyes began to show signs of life upon looking down at the young boy.
    You mentioned that he looked "Down at the young boy" twice. You can re-word the second sentence so that the meaning is the same but without using the same phrase. Something like, At the sight of the child, his dull brown eyes... or whatever you think would fit. It just feels repetitive when you use the same phrase in such close parts.

    His answer came when he saw a pair of Starly pass by, their features obscured by the sun's glare, looking like a pair of dark bird shaped shadows on a blue backdrop.
    The second part of the sentence seems to just be re-stating the first. You can end the sentence after "glare" and it would be fine because what you've said gives us the impression that they look like shadows on a blue backdrop without outright saying it.

    His chillingly contrasting expression to the cheery weather sent a shiver through the six year old.
    With this, you would say something more like, "His chilling expression contrasted sharply with the cheery weather..."

    He blushed, rubbing his hand on the back of his head, fiddling with his short black hair, which may as well have been a black patch on his head given its length.
    Everything after "his short black hair" is repeating, and reads a little haltingly. You've already mentioned that he has short black hair, so we can assume that it's a black patch on his head.

    Dawn and Callum spun around together to see a brown haired boy sporting the same blue shorts that Callum wore but instead wore a blue collar shirt instead of a t-shirt. A girl matching the boy's hair color but with longer locks stood behind him, wearing a pink colored skirt that matched Dawn's design.
    Here, you go into a lot of detail about just what exactly the boy and girl are wearing. It's fine, but just note that when the audience is reading this, we'll typically be more curious about who these people are and where the story is going, so spending a few sentences detailing someone's outfits when it's not vital to the story can be a bit off-putting.

    Callum heard a flatline. He saw Dawn's mom quietly crying. He tasted something bitter. He smelled the smell of rain. He felt a scream. Then he heard, saw, tasted, smelled, and felt nothing.
    I appreciate the short, abrupt sentences here (since that's how people commonly feel when taking in someone's death), but your sensory just seemed a bit off. I know that when you say he "felt a scream," it's because he's the one doing it, but it's odd to have him feel the scream, yet hear the flatline. And saying that he smelled "the smell of rain" is repeitive--instead of just saying rain, you can describe what that's like but still keep it short so it fits in with the abrupt style here. Also, I'm not quite sure what you're referring to when he tasted something bitter.

    Those were a few examples that stuck out to me most when reading. It's not that bad, it just put me off at some parts and felt halting. That said, there were some times were your description really flowed nicely, and on the whole I think your dialogue worked out well. I'm not so sure about the part with Callum's dad dying, since I've never personally known someone dying in the hospital or heard someone speak about their impending death, so I don't really have anything to say on that part.

    I was also confused on the last two sentences, as to who was speaking. I'll take it that the final intermission eluded to him not calling anymore--or her no longer picking up, so the next scene with just those two bits of dialogue threw me off and left me confused more than anything. I honestly think the chapter would end fine with the last intermission (though that would make it a pretty depressing chapter ending).

    The moments with little Dawn and Callum were really cute--I can easily imagine a four-year-old and a six-year-old speaking like that to each other So while there were some things you can work on, you have plenty of room to grow. Your character portrayals are good--Callum is really cute, and Johanna and Dawn seem likeable enough.

    I look forward to seeing where this is going, and good luck in the future!


    My fic, Drowning.
    Cye of the Torrent is my bishie.
    Credit to Sketchie of Coronet Designs

  3. #3
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    Feb 2013
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    Thank you for your criticisms and suggestions! I'm definitely not a writer by trade and merely by hobby. A reason why I started doing this is to get better at writing things that aren't academic papers or reports. But I did notice that a lot of the formatting, including italics and spacing, was a lot in part due to my old Microsoft Word version, which is what I use to write and spell check. Nonetheless, I'll definitely try proof reading more while in forum.


    Act 1 Chapter 1 - Spring: Time of Amity

    Callum stood alone in a crowd in front of a stadium that far dwarfed any building surrounding it, what few there were. He looked up and smiled, the rim of his brown hood obscuring the slight glare from the sun. He was the only one who stood still in a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, who had been funneling in around him. Though that mattered little to the boy, despite the glares of irritation he received from the inconvenienced men and women.

    He chuckled to himself as he slowly walked with the crowd, much to the relief of many. A blue card displaying the number eighteen was clasped between his fingers as he began picking up the pace, deviating from the mass of people down to the stadium proper. When he arrived, where he had previously been subjected to the wide expanse of space outside or the tight corridors inside, he found himself in a cage of people, every individual representing a bar, trapping the boy and all other competitors inside of the field.

    Callum slowly lifted his number eighteen, his face blank with the exception of a glint of a smirk gracing his features. It stayed on his face as a girl approached him, her hands clasped together, holding a card between her clasped fingers, obscuring the number written on it. The girl clumsily flipped the card over, giving Callum a chance to see the number painted on. Twenty four.

    "You must be my tag battle partner," Callum mumbled to himself as he rolled his card and stuffed it in his pocket. He gave the girl an awkward smile and said quickly, "uh, my name's Hino! From Snowpoint City!"

    The girl shuffled her feet and looked up, pushing her hair behind her ear. She gave a wide smile as she presented her card to Callum, her free hand twisting and pulling on her light brown locks.

    "Hi! I'm Evelyn, but you can call me Evie! I'm a native Hearthome kid! Say…you look like you're my age, right? I'm twelve! Good to see another up and coming trainer!" She rattled on, her glossy blue eyes belying a calm persona that the girl clearly did not have.

    Callum rubbed the back of his head nervously. "Um, well I'm twelve years old, going on thirteen. I'm not uh…new. I do have some good Pokémon in my arsenal!"

    Evelyn clasped her hands together again, but rested her cheek on her clasped hands and gave a light laugh, filled with hot air and little sound. It looked forced.

    "Great! Well I have --"

    Much to Callum's relief, the talkative girl's ramblings were ceased by the ramblings of another. A pudgy, sharp dressed middle aged man took the previously vacant stage. Behind was a massive monitor displaying the tag battle tournament brackets that have yet to be filled. He grabbed for the microphone on the podium in front of him and began speaking. Callum scarcely paid attention to the speech that the man was giving. Instead, his eyes began wandering to the other people in the stadium with him. His eyes rested on various different people and darted quickly away when any of them happened to stare back. Callum waved awkwardly with a sheepish grin whenever that happened.

    However, when his gaze fell on a familiar blue haired girl, it didn't leave. ’Thank Arceus she doesn't notice me...Dawn, how much have you improved since Floaroma?' As Callum continued to stare at Dawn, he failed to see an older teenager next to Dawn, who had begun to notice the intense look that Callum had been directing their way. However, before the teen could say anything, and before Callum could continue staring, he was interrupted by Evie, who he had been with the entire time.

    "Someone you know?" Evie asked. Callum gave out a shrill yelp and then looked around hesitantly, giving a nervous sigh.

    Callum shook his head. "No," he said, "Just checking out the competition! You know, so we know what to expect…"

    The brunette nodded, smiling. "Gotcha! So how awesome is it that we get the Soothe Bell? It sounded so calming. Wah, I just have to have it!"

    Confused, Callum simply blinked twice. Then he remembered. The man on stage, the mayor of Hearthome, had rang a bell. It was the one time during his stare session that he noticed the cacophony of sounds in the stadium die down for a momentary period of time. He turned to the stage for the first time since the mayor's speech. The monitor on the stage now had a completely filled bracket. Callum froze.

    It was his face, his real face, at the top of the monitor, right above a large C signifying him as part of the third bracket. Callum forced his eyes away from the monitor and back at Evie, who was smiling and looking at the screen. Normally, Callum would have thanked his luck but this time, he couldn't help looking back at the screen. After the initial shock passed, Callum's eyes began to dart back and forth from the screen, to Evelyn, to the rest of the competitors.

    'Darn it, how stupid of me…if anyone from Twinleaf sees that photo, I'm as good as caught,' Callum thought, panic beginning to set in. 'I have to leave…no, but that's just more suspicious. What can I do? I am truly, utterly, without a doubt, completely f--"

    "Hino, you alright?" Evie asked, breaking Callum's thoughts. Callum blinked rapidly and looked at the girl standing in front of him with nary an expression on his face. He gave a sheepish smile and jerked his thumb behind him, where the majority of the competitors were.

    "Um, yeah, I'm fine! Well, er…I saw someone I know on TV I think," Callum said, putting his hands in his pockets. He quickly took the opportunity to check on Dawn, acting like he was trying to find the person who was on TV. Callum felt a sigh of relief coming along when he saw Dawn chatting away with her partner, some green haired boy with glasses, completely oblivious to what the screen was showing her. He made sure to continue scanning the crowd for a good few seconds before turning back to his tag battle partner.

    "Uh, looks like I was wrong," Callum said with a nervous smile. 'That's right, I registered as Hino. So long as I don't trip over my words, I'll be fine. If Dawn thinks she recognizes me, I can just keep arguing. She's a stubborn girl, but I'm sure I can bluff my way through it long enough…I hope.'

    Evie gave a confused, inquisitive look at Callum before rolling her eyes. "Boys," she mused, and began walking towards the side of the stadium, leaving Callum alone with his thoughts. She turned back with a confident smirk. Twirling a lock of hair, Evie called out to Callum. "Come on! Let's talk strategy! It'll be fun."

    At her voice, Callum jogged over to Evie, giving a quick apology and averting his gaze from Evie to the general space behind her. In response, Evie simply laughed and gave Callum a knowing gaze. She said in a mocking tone, "So, still thinking about that mysterious TV person? Or you nervous for the competition? If you are, don't worry about it! We're the third bracket so we have two battles to analyze. Now, let's talk!"

    By the time Evie had finished talking, the two had made it to the sidelines, where the other competitors have begun congregating while waiting for the stadium to organize the first battle. Callum glanced at the competitors once more to see Dawn and her green haired partner missing. He then remembered, 'Dawn's part of the A bracket. She's going first. Good, I can measure her performance from Day 1. And now I have time to actually go over my battle plan.'

    "…So, do you have a Pokémon that can do it?" Evie asked. Callum looked to his side and saw his chipper partner looking at him. He gave her an apologetic look and scolded himself for being unaware of his surroundings yet again. 'It's what got me in this mess to begin with. After this is all over, I should really check out a social awareness self-help book.' Callum let out a sigh and rubbed his arm.

    "Um sorry," he started, "what did you say?"

    Evie glared at Callum's half-hearted apology and Callum flinched, looking away from the fuming girl and at the stadium wall to his right. He tried his best to not make eye contact with the girl in front of him. If looks could kill…

    "I SAID," Evie started, articulating every word that she said, "that my Banette works well with Pokémon that can put sustained pressure on our opponents. You know, tanking hits and making them focus on you. So, do you have a Pokémon that can do it?"

    Callum thought for a second and answered, "Uh, I think so. Metang can take hits pretty well. Is that good enough?"

    "Yeah, just make sure that Metang can last long enough for us to do our thing," Evie replied with a wink. Callum turned away and pretended to clear his throat, a shadow of a blush appearing on his face. He awkwardly coughed and turned to face the stage, where the four trainers who were part of the A bracket began taking their places in the opposite sides of the field.

    Dawn sent out a Piplup while her partner sent a Slowking. A Scyther and Koffing were sent out by Dawn's opponents in response. Evie, upon seeing the Pokémon, elected to take out Banette and began instructing it for the upcoming battle, paying minimal attention at the battle going on behind her. In contrast, Callum gazed intensely at Piplup, leaning on the metal fence separating the sidelines from the field. As Piplup shot its concentrated Bubble Beam at the opposing Scyther's Razor Wind attack, Callum smirked. His smirk grew when the barrage of brown sludge bombs that Koffing had sent Piplup's way were blocked by Slowking's Safeguard. As the spherical Safeguard dissipated, Callum knew who would win.

    'Mm, I see, Slowking is the defensive one. Once Koffing and Scyther's attacks pass, Dawn will try counterattacking.'

    "Piplup, use Peck!" Dawn ordered. Piplup jumped into the air, ramming its sharp beak into Scyther while it was attempting to attack Slowking. Scyther was thrown with great force into the ground, leaving a small plume of dust. When the dust settled, it was clear that Scyther was unconscious.

    'Good job, Dawn. Now, what will you do about this?'

    "Koffing, use Gyro Ball!" Cried Koffing's rather muscular owner. Koffing began spinning and rushing towards Piplup, only to be stopped by Slowking's Psychic. The Slowking directed its paw down, sending Koffing slamming into the ground.

    The referee extended his arm towards Dawn and her partner. "Koffing is unable to battle as well, which means Piplup and Slowking are the winners!"

    Callum sighed and turned back towards Evie, who was whipping Banette up into fighting condition with words of encouragement. He gave a light cough to get Evie's attention and looked at her skeptically when she turned around.

    "That match was…good, right?" Callum asked, knowing full well that Evie wasn't paying attention. She was the one to give an apologetic chuckle and awkward smile this time. But before she could come up with a retort or apology, Dawn's voice cut her off. At the same time, Callum froze.

    "Callum? Is that you?" Dawn asked, her voice quiet, a sharp contrast to the passionate, direct orders she gave during the battle. "Callum," she called again, "It's me, Dawn!"

    As Dawn, and Evie, waited for an answer, Callum's heart began racing as he turned around, giving the best confused look he could muster. He tilted his head to the side like he did when he was a kid and raised an eyebrow. Callum blinked several times before letting out a small laugh.

    "Ah, I think you have me mistaken for someone else. My name's Hino, not Callum. Um, sorry for the confusion," Callum began, making sure to speak slowly as to not trip over his words. He took the opportunity to look over at Dawn. To Callum's great relief, Dawn's expression slowly turned from shock to confusion. However, she continued to keep her eyes trained on Callum's face. Callum looked back at Dawn, making eye contact, before ducking his head down and awkwardly pulling on his fingers.

    'Dawn, you really have grown up,' Callum mused, his face downcast as he looked down at the ground. 'I hope this Hino identity holds. Right after this next battle, that mayor will announce my name and I'll have a credible story. Hope she doesn't suspect a fake ID…'

    Dawn opened her mouth to say something but stopped at the sound of bickering between two competitors behind Callum. Both Callum and Evie turned around and saw two boys arguing, or at least attempting to. The boy wearing a cap was doing all of the arguing, while a lavender haired boy on the receiving end merely remained stoic and replying in short, harsh responses. Neither Callum nor Evie attempted to say anything and watched on. The Pikachu that was beside the boy wearing the cap locked eyes with an Elekid beside the lavender haired boy. Callum paid them a sparing glance as they growled at each other.

    The argument ended when Dawn spoke up. "Sounds like you might've forgotten about the purpose of this competition," she started, reprimanding both boys for their inability to work together. "…both trainers and Pokémon have to work together in a tag battle. That is what Cynthia said," Dawn finished, prompting Callum to give her a look of incredulity.

    'She's MET Cynthia? What kind of adventures have you been on?' Callum thought. His thoughts didn't go much further as the lavender haired boy replied to Dawn with a proverb that neither Callum nor Evie had heard of. The boy then looked at Callum with a nearly blank look bordering on aggressive. Callum nervously avoided eye contact and looked back at Dawn and her green haired partner, and then to Evie, who shrugged. Taking a deep breath, Callum addressed the aggressive individual before him.

    "Er, can I help you?" He asked, looking away from the boy, who was now scowling. The boy crossed his arms and shook his head.

    "No. Chimchar, let's go," he said curtly, leaving no room for any follow up statement. His scowl disappeared as he swiftly turned around and walked out, his Elekid and Chimchar following him closely. Callum glared at the back of the boy before giving a curt chuckle.

    "I wonder if his, 'I'm so cool I can act like an angsty teen' act was always this good," Callum mumbled, prompting a chuckle from the cap wearing boy.

    "No, that's just Paul. Don’t let him get to you! Hi, I'm Ash, from Pallet Town. This is my buddy, Pikachu!"

    "Hi Ash," Callum began, "My name's Hino," he finished there, looking away from Ash in the general direction of the battlefield. The B bracket teams had already taken their places and begun their battle. However, it seemed none of the trainers in front of Callum were all too interested. Callum inwardly cursed his luck.

    Next to Callum, Evie waved at Ash with a cheerful smile. "Hi Ash! I'm Evie, and I'm this easily distracted kid's partner," she said with a slight mocking tone. Callum shot his partner a dirty look and bit his tongue. ’If you spent as much time figuring out what the others have been saying as you have mocking me, maybe you would've begun suspecting something about me,' Callum thought bitterly, 'this tournament better end quickly.'

    "Hey you two, I'm Brock," the older teen with a darker skin tone than the others said. Callum immediately recognized him as the one who had seen him observe Dawn during the opening ceremony. He immediately began regretting even speaking to the group. 'And here I am, standing next to the one guy who might suspect that I know Dawn, who so happens to be the only one who can figure out my true identity. If I somehow come out of this on top, I'm never doing this again.'

    Evie happily chatted away with Brock, Ash, and Dawn, who had fell back in line with her friends. Callum didn't know whether to be happy that his partner was such a useful distraction or frightened that Dawn's confused, skeptical look came back every time she caught a glimpse of him. Instead of either, Callum instead elected to look up at the sky, counting the seconds that passed, hoping to Arceus that he wouldn't be caught.

    "Alright, now that the B bracket has finished, let's get on with the third match of the day! C bracket participants, take your places!"

    Callum thanked his good fortune and spared a passing glance at Evie before making his way to the field. "Let's go," he said blankly to the chatty girl behind him as he began twiddling the Pokéballs attached to his belt on his way to the field. Evie trailed closely behind, a determined look on her face. When the two took their places on one side of the field and their opponents on the other side, Callum began feeling his heart race. He found it odd, but strangely familiar and comforting.

    Callum's opponents, two kids around his age, let out their Pokémon as soon as they took their positions. A Shieldon and Vespiquen appeared on the battlefield with a flash of light. As discussed, Evie let out her Banette and Callum did the same with his Metang. Evie turned her head towards Callum. "Now Hino, don't get too anxious. Just follow my lead and make sure Metang covers my Banette!"

    Though Callum attempted to fire back with a sharp retort, he was silenced by the referee signaling the start of the battle.

    "Vespiquen, use Power Gem!"

    The Beehive Pokémon's gemstone like forehead glowed as it unleashed a sparkling beam of light at Banette. A moment later, under Callum's orders, Metang's body hardened with a metallic sheen as it used Iron Defense. The beam of light hit Metang head on, exploding on impact. When the dust settled, Metang floated about with nary a scratch on it. Taking this in stride, Banette disappeared into its own shadow.

    "Now, Metang, use Psychic on Shieldon!" Callum yelled as Metang did as ordered, a blue light surrounding Shieldon as it was helplessly lifted into the air. As Metang completed the attack by launching Shieldon down into the ground, Banette reappeared under Vespiquen's shadow, delivering a powerful kick to the back of Vespiquen.

    "No, Shieldon! Counterattack with Earthquake," ordered Shieldon's owner. The ground began shaking violently as soon as Shieldon hit the arena with its charged front legs. All of the Pokémon and their respective trainers felt the effects. Callum and Evie watched helplessly as their Pokémon were buffeted by rocks and powerful shockwaves. Vespiquen's trainer looked on with a smug grin as the Beehive Pokémon was safely floating above the Earthquake.

    Callum winced as Metang struggled to get up after the Earthquake had subsided. It had only been floating a couple feet above the ground, still well within the effect range of the Earthquake. He regretted not calling for a Magnet Rise in time and looked at Evie, who also looked unsure of herself. From Callum's viewpoint, Banette looked almost ready to faint, the way that it was struggling to stay up.

    He looked at Metang, and then to Shieldon's trainer. It was clear from his confident expression that Shieldon was going to use Earthquake again as soon as it had a clear shot. Callum began spitting profanities at Shieldon's trainer in his head, as well as Evie for suckering him into her plan. But like a flash of lightning, Callum had an idea. His worried frown turned into a sinister smile as he looked straight at Shieldon's trainer

    "No, wait, what are you doing?! I could report you for this! You're breaking the rules!"

    "Oh, am I? As you can see, this is Mount Silver, where Johto's very competent government has yet to even bother regulating. Metang, use Metal Claw on Onyx's trainer."


    Callum gave a dark chuckle at the memory. 'Yeah, that could work,' he thought. He quickly pointed at Vespiquen with two fingers while whistling to Evie. She tore her eyes off of Banette and gave an uncertain nod.

    "Now, Metang, use Psychic on yourself and follow Mount Silver Plan," Callum said, saying the order as quiet as possible so only his side of the field could hear it. Metang complied as it surrounded itself with a blue light. This only served to confuse the two opponent trainers as they exchanged hesitant looks. Callum felt a rush of adrenaline as he gave a simple command of affirmation. Metang flung itself, powered by its own Psychic attack, directly past Shieldon and at Shieldon's trainer. As Callum expected, Shieldon's trainer closed his eyes, bracing for a Pokémon made entirely of metal to come crashing into him. Callum's smirk grew.

    "Stop! Turn around and use a full power Meteor Mash on Shieldon!" Callum yelled as Metang's Psychic disappeared, leaving a slightly damaged and chipped Metang rushing at Shieldon with a claw glowing in orange light. When Shieldon's trainer finally opened his eyes, it was too late. Metang's claws made direct contact with Shieldon's soft back, forcing it into the ground.

    By the time any of the other trainers had registered what happened, Shieldon was on the ground, unconscious. With little time to question what had occurred, Evie gave Banette the command to attack Vespiquen. Banette complied, its raggedy arms forming a sphere of darkness as it flung the Shadow Ball at the confused Vespiquen, forcing it to recoil and fall from the air. It was unconscious before it hit the ground.

    "Now, wait just a minute," the referee said, raising both hands up, "this is a clear violation of the official Pokémon battle rules! No attacks on trainers! I'm afraid I must disqualify the team of--"

    "I'd think long and hard about the rules before you make that call," Callum spoke up, his voice no longer holding the hesitant and nervous tone it did before. "Neither Metang nor Banette attempted to attack the trainer. Trainers always run the risk of being hit with missed attacks, do they not? Metang attempted to emulate Body Slam using the moves it does know, a perfectly legal strategy that almost turned bad. Luckily, Metang had the intelligence and reflexes to stop in time," Callum finished with a triumphant grin plastered on his face.

    The referee glared back at Callum for a few seconds before sighing. "Then…as I see no rules being broken, I have to declare the team of Hino and Evie the winner."

    With those words said, Callum's grin widened. He recalled Metang after saying a congratulatory statement to it. Afterwards, without a word, Callum turned back towards the sidelines. He looked up and saw Ash and friends giving him a dirty look as expected. What both surprised him and filled him with relief was Dawn giving him the same dirty look that Ash and Brock were. He was in the clear.

    "What the Hell was that?!" Evie cried, catching up with Callum when he made it to the sidelines. "You almost got us disqualified! I heard you tell Metang to use Psychic on itself! And I know you had some sort of plan already set up to do what you just did, so don’t think the excuse you used on the ref will work on me."

    "Um, I'm sorry if you think that but--" Callum started, only to be cut off by Brock.

    "Just as I thought, you ordered it! I've judged Pokémon battles and while I know what you did isn't illegal per say…that doesn't change the fact that it's wrong!"

    Callum shied away from Brock's gaze and rubbed his arm nervously. "Well, er…I…" he stuttered out, only for Evie to cut him off this time, glaring at the nervous trainer. She scoffed, crossing her arms.

    "Drop the act. I heard how eloquently you spoke to the ref. You've planned this out before, I can tell. Even by the name of your plan, the Mount --"

    Dropping his visage, Callum laughed cynically. He found that drew the attention of all those listening, even Dawn. "Very well, I'll drop the mask. That's right, I planned it. You know what else? It was so much fun! Better than the typical, 'oh, please try harder my dear Pokémon!'"

    Callum sighed, glad that he stopped Evie short. He was going to continue but felt a shiver go up his spine as he looked to his right. Dawn had been staring at Callum with such intensity that he couldn't help but feel the least bit afraid. He began wondering if she's figured him out. Before Callum could decide to goad her and the others further, Dawn gave a look of mock pity and disgust. Her green haired tag battle partner, who had simply been looking from behind with a bemused expression, crossed his arms and looked with amusement.

    "You can't be Callum, I'm sorry about the previous assumption. The real Callum wouldn’t dare act like this," Dawn spat out, continuing to glare.

    "Can't really argue with results, can you? Well, I'll take my leave then. I'll see you all at the second day," Callum said as he turned away to leave the stadium. He was stopped by Ash's voice behind him.

    "Hey, Hino, I hope we end up battlin'. Then I'll show you what it means to really win a Pokémon battle!" Ash said, with a type of confident tone that Callum hadn't heard before. A part of Callum felt like Ash really could accomplish what he had said. Given the strength of Callum's Pokémon, he wouldn't be surprised if Ash really did manage to beat him. Provided that either of them even get that far in the competition.



    Callum found himself alone in the lobby of the Pokémon center after that debacle back in the stadium. He didn't bother watching the rest of the competition. As far as he was concerned, there was no need to watch a bunch of children play Pokémon Trainer. He saw what he wanted. Callum also knew that after that display, nobody would seek him out yet. They were too angry or disappointed in him to. So he was surprised when he was interrupted from drinking his smoothie to see Evie sitting down across from him.

    Evie started the conversation before Callum even had a chance to take his mouth off of the straw he was sucking on. "Hino, I don't agree with what you did. But after thinking about it a little, and seeing all those battles…especially Ash's, I'll work with you for the time being."

    "Oh?" Callum asked, intrigued and amused, "I didn't expect you to rescind your accusations so quickly."

    "I didn't," Evie shot back. "The only reason I'm working with you is because I want to win this tag battle tournament and get my hands on that Soothe Bell. I know you might not even care about that sort of thing, but I do. Besides, there has to be a reason you even entered, not to mention that you pretended to act like a shy, ditzy trainer."

    Evie got up from her seat and gave the same cheery grin she had when the two first met. This time, however, Callum could tell how fake it really was. Callum knew he wasn't the best at social interaction. That's why the role of a, "shy, ditzy trainer" was so easy to assume. But even he could tell Evie had an ulterior motive beyond simply the Soothe Bell.

    Callum said nothing about that, however, and gave a smirk. "Very well, now, let me get back to my smoothie. All of these honorable idiots interrupting my battles, my downtime after, and now my Sitrus Berry smoothie? That can't stand. Now go away."

    This time, a much more genuine huff came from the brunette. She crossed her arms and mockingly turned her nose up in disgust. "Hmph, fine. I liked you better when you were playing the newbie. At least then you seemed like a little brother."

    Evie left, making it a point to continue wearing that expression. She stopped after walking a few feet and Callum could guess that she no longer wore that ridiculous expression. Evie chuckled to herself quietly. Callum barely heard it but ignored it, opting to go back to the drink in front of him.

    "You know Hino, if you were a bit nicer, you'd be pretty cute. Something about those green eyes of yours remind me of someone special…someone I looked up to," she mused. "But, I guess that won't change, because you're as much of an idiot as you are a genius. Really, acting so condescending to the referee that'll judge the rest of our battles? You go, Mr. I'm-smarter-than-everyone-else."

    Evie's chuckle turned into a laugh as she walked off, leaving Callum both confused and angry. More confused than angry, in Callum's opinion. Nonetheless, as Callum got back to voraciously drinking his smoothie, he blinked a few times and then internally sighed. 'That's right, I have to change my contacts.'

    Callum made his way to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He still had no idea how the tournament got a hold of his real face when his ID clearly had the face that was currently looking back at him in the bathroom mirror. Callum sighed and looked more closely in the mirror. It was Callum staring back in the mirror, but very different in just a few key places. Broader chin, fatter looking face, and stretch lines. Most notably, Callum's normally dark brown eyes were replaced by sparkly green eyes.

    After ogling at himself in the mirror, Callum slowly took out the contact in his left eye, revealing the same dark brown eyes. He looked back up to check his vision without the contact. Callum let out a sharp gasp at what he saw in the mirror.

    It was Paul. Standing just a few inches inside of the mirror's peripherals, glaring at Callum. Not knowing what to do, Callum hastily attempted to put the contact back in his left eye but was stopped by Paul's strong, harsh order to do so. Callum froze in place, his eyes mismatching colors and his left hand still holding the green contact.

    "Just as I thought, you are Callum Aurus," Paul stated. Unlike Dawn, Callum found no way to bluff his way out of this, especially considering he was staring back at Paul with evidence literally on his eyes. Not that he would have even tried, considering how matter of factly Paul had said it.

    Callum gritted his teeth as Paul continued to speak. "I'm going to make this short. You may have fooled Ash and the other pathetic trainers but I know that it's you. Callum, the loser trickster. You lost in just the second round of the Lily of the Valley conference. How pathetic."

    "You must be so proud of your brilliant deductive skills," Callum spat out, his face and voice unable to maintain any sort of calm façade anymore. "How do you even know me? It's not like I was the only one to lose in the second round."

    "You were an up and coming star amongst a small group of trainers. Callum the Jester, they called you. Why they chose to follow your progress, considering there were so many better trainers out there, I don't know," Paul began, his tone leaving no room for interjection. "You might have changed your face just enough to trick everyone else, but I saw your battle. Your pathetic attempt to disregard the rules and use the system itself to win as opposed to your own strength? That's just what Callum the Jester did when he won his last three badges."

    "Then," Callum started, "you know that I was unable to do that in the Lily of the Valley conference."

    Paul simply nodded and turned away to leave.

    "Wait," Callum called out, "what are you going to do with that information?"

    "Nothing. I'll let you keep playing Hino," Paul started, before giving a glare. "…if you give up playing the Jester. I want to see your real skill."

    Callum said nothing as Paul left the bathroom, leaving him alone with nothing but thoughts and emotions swirling through his mind. Chief of all was fear.

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