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Thread: Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning (R)

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    Default Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning (R)

    NOTE:

    The following two links are to material that may help you if you need them.

    Backstory Post - Events prior to the beginning of Operation GEAR summarized

    Character page on TVTropes



    And now, it all begins again.

    I will give no great speech to commence the start of this story, because I don’t think there is any need for such a thing. While this is the completion of the Operation GEAR storyline, both of the previous installments were mainly introductions to the characters and world, and are absolutely not necessary to read first. The events of The Firestorm Rebellion and The Victory Star of Fate will be transcribed very early in this story as well.

    As you can see, this story has an R rating, which has been approved by Dragonfree after some rigorous testing. It will be tackling some darker material than what I usually do; among these subjects are cults, extremely unethical scientific experimentation, various types of discrimination, strongly implied sexual content and homelessness. In addition, war and mental illness may be touched on, there’s a plotline about a serial killer, and a plotline will have discussion of a character who was raped – before anyone jumps to conclusions about this just from reading that, I have literally put months of work and research into ensuring that the subject will be handled tastefully and respectfully, and I can promise that it is relevant, not simply included for edginess.

    If you’re still with me after all of that, thank you. Now, buckle up and prepare as we spin a tale of many different quests gone completely wrong…

    |-:-|

    CHAPTER 1: The Day an Angel Fell to Earth

    -:-

    Deep within the vast complex, a pair of white-coated scientists hurried down a cold, metallic hallway. One of them, a woman wearing her black hair in a bun, was shuffling through the papers in her hands in a panic.

    “You’re saying it started a half an hour ago?” the male scientist with her said. “Why did it take me so long to be informed?”

    “Thirty-four minutes to be precise, Dr. Zager,” the woman meekly offered. “And the team had to stabilize her immediately, otherwise you wouldn’t even have the time to get here.”

    “It’s that bad?” Zager adjusted his thick, round glasses and picked up the pace of his stride. “I was afraid of this happening…”

    The pair arrived at a large door bearing the symbol of a double helix twisting into a shape resembling the letter ‘P.’ Zager withdrew an identification card printed with his photograph and touched it to a scanner next to the door, causing it to give way.

    The laboratory within was a clutter of computer equipment. Another, smaller door lay on the opposite end of the room between two system towers. A loudspeaker system was set up to connect the two sections of the lab, and at the moment Zager and his aide entered, it was filling the air with the sound of a woman’s agonized screams punctuated by the beeping of a heart monitor. Several other scientists were doing their best to handle the situation at their computers, but the frantic mood in the room was overwhelming them.

    Without hesitation, Zager ran to his main workstation, a thick laptop running imaging of a DNA strand. A tiny, yellow spider Pokémon jumped up on the table next to it, but Zager waved her off.

    “Joltik, not right now. I’m busy.” Reaching into his pocket again, Zager took out a disk, inserted it into the computer, and typed a command.

    The computer responded with the text, “GENETIC ENCRYPTION PASSKEY ACCEPTED. ACCESSING POLARIS AMINO BASE MAINFRAME. AZRAEL PROJECT OPERATING SYSTEM, VERSION 7.3 ACTIVATED. USER LOGIN: GABRIEL ZAGER. NINTH OCTOBER, YEAR 1987. System ready…”

    The moment the login sequence ended, Zager typed in, “Activate voice command input system.”

    “SWITCHING TO VOCAL INPUT MODE. VOCAL INPUT MODE CONFIRMED.”

    “Alright, now that that’s settled… turn on direct voice communication, control room to procedure room.”

    “CONTROL ROOM TO PROCEDURE ROOM VOICE COMMUNICATION STATUS: ACTIVE.”

    Turning his head up, Zager said out loud, “Chimere, I’m here. Give me some idea of what’s happening to you!”

    “What do you… think?!’ the woman in the next room screamed back, in between bouts of gasping for air. “You… you all promised me…”

    “...that this wouldn’t happen, I know…” Zager finished, hanging his head.

    “Dr. Zager, we’re standing by for your orders,” another voice, this one male, said from the procedure room. “We have to do something.”

    “She needs painkillers…” Zager’s aide suggested.

    “No, Barbara, we can’t…” the doctor swiftly contradicted. “Computer, bring up the most recent full-body imaging scans. Heat, energy, all of them.”

    “ACCESSING FULL BODY IMAGING RECORDS, FIFTH OCTOBER, YEAR 1987. LOADING.”

    Images of a woman’s body appeared on the screen, and when Barbara saw them, she gasped. “It’s… taken over her body…”

    “See, you didn’t pay as close attention to these as I did.” Taking hold of the mouse next to his keyboard, Zager clicked through the images. “I think you see what I mean now, but… computer, bring up blood flow and immune response, side by side.”

    “BLOOD FLOW AND IMMUNE SYSTEM RECORDS.” The charts Zager requested appeared on the screen.

    “See, look at this. It’s been developing all these months but these are the worst it’s ever been.”

    “You’re right, Doctor…” Barbara whispered. “We give her medication of any sort with most of her blood flow going right to the child, it’ll end up going right there with everything else. Who knows what would happen…”

    “We played God and this is what we got…” One of the scientists working in the room with Zager and Barbara suddenly stumbled away from his computer. Shaking violently, he turned in the direction of the room where Chimere was suffering. “We did this. We killed her. All for a foolish, idiotic dream...”

    The man’s body gave out on him, leaving him to fall against a nearby desk. He started to gag, then wretched the contents of his stomach into the waste bin next to him. Soon after, another of Chimere’s screams pierced the room, causing Zager and Barbara to jump.

    “Chimere? Chimere, stay with us, here! You’ve gotten this far, you can make it!”

    “You...lied to me… Zager… just… just get this thing out of me and end this! I don’t want this anymore!”

    “Computer, real-time body imaging…”

    “REAL-TIME BODY IMAGING ACTIVATED. SCANNING. LOADING.”

    As soon as the scan of Chimere’s body appeared on Zager’s screen, his face sank. Taking a deep, labored breath, he typed a new command.

    “Deactivate voice command input system.”

    “DEACTIVATING VOCAL INPUT MODE. SWITCHING TO MANUAL TEXT INPUT MODE.”

    Picking up on the tension in her superior, Barbara nervously asked, “Dr. Zager?”

    “She… no. There’s no way she’ll survive. Not with that amount of blood going to the child. I should have realized this would happen when I saw the tests…”

    “What do we do, then?”

    Before Zager could answer, Chimere’s screaming reached earsplitting volume, accompanied by what sounded like something violently hitting against a plastic surface.

    “Dr. Zager!” the male scientist in the procedure room shouted. “I think we’re out of time… my… my God…”

    Zager and Barbara just kept staring at the computer’s screen as the screaming got louder and louder, having long passed the point where Chimere could form any coherent words. The tension in the room increased every time the heart monitor beeped.

    And then, the screaming broke and abruptly ceased. The heart monitor droned on with an unending tone.

    “It’s over…” Zager mumbled, “...I hope.” He then typed in the command, “Full body scan.”

    “FULL BODY SCAN ACTIVATED. SCANNING. LOADING.

    RESULTS OF AZRAEL PROJECT OPERATION

    SUBJECT A. RECOGNIZED AS HOST BODY. HEART RATE ZERO. PULSE ABSENT. RUNNING VITALS CHECK… DIAGNOSIS: EXSANGUINATION. STATUS: DECEASED.”

    “Chimere, find a rest worthy of what we did to you…”

    Barbara raised a shaky finger and asked, “What does it mean, ‘subject A?’”

    As if to answer Barbara’s question, the sound of a baby crying filtered through the loudspeakers.

    “SUBJECT B. UNKNOWN. SCANNING FOR FURTHER DATA… MATCH FOUND. SUBJECT B RECOGNIZED AS AZRAEL. RUNNING VITALS CHECK… STATUS: HEALTHY.”

    “W-what have we done…” the scientist in the procedure room mumbled.

    “I hope whatever deity there is up there has mercy on our souls…”

    “Why, Zager? This should be a cause for celebration.”

    Both Zager and Barbara spun around to face a video screen mounted on another wall. The individual addressing them from it was obscured by shadows, with only a pair of light-filled glasses clearly visible.

    “F-Father,” Zager uttered in fear. “Please…”

    “I am not angry with you, Zager.” When the man Zager called ‘Father’ spoke, it sounded as if several people were talking at once, obscuring his true voice. “I am quite proud. It seems your program has born fruit for Polaris.”

    “I can only wish it had worked out according to the vision I had for this program. You… you told me this was meant to be research for helping cure disease. I don’t understand why it had to go like this…”

    “I didn’t lie to you, Zager. This will help rid mankind of disease as we know it. It will also do much more than that. It’s about time I told you about the true vision of Polaris… the true meaning of the Azrael Project.”

    -:-

    -:-

    Four years ago
    May 1, 2008


    The years had not been kind to the Polaris research team. As time passed from that fateful day in 1987, member after member fell away from the group. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the scientist who had lost his composure in Dr. Zager’s lab that day was the first to go; he simply stopped attending work within a few months of the incident and disappeared, rarely being spoken of again as the result of some unwritten rule. Over the next few years, the others peeled off one by one, some quitting the organization for their own reasons, others simply disappearing without a word. Finally, at the end, Dr. Zager himself disappeared from Polaris’s ranks, following a series of highly disappointing reports on the status of the child created that day, Azrael.

    Perhaps coincidentally, Dr. Zager’s disappearance was fourteen years to the day Azrael was born.

    Many more members joined Polaris over the intervening time both before and after Zager’s departure, plenty of them scientists and doctors, but of the original team that worked to create Azrael, only three remained. Barbara was one, while the two men, their faces now plagued by lines of age and their hair now graying, still worked in Polaris’s labs as well. Not much had changed over the years, even with the vast upgrades their technology had received.

    “I think Father’s finally lost his old mind,” one of the scientists bitterly said to the other, as they both sat at computer consoles. He gestured to the object of their current experiment, a large test tube between the two computers, which contained a tiny speck of fleshy matter floating in green liquid. “He hasn’t been the same since Azrael failed, but this? This is ridiculous.”

    “I hear you. There have been some odd experiments we’ve worked on, but communicating with a brain synapse? Dr. Zager wouldn’t have wasted Finansielle’s funding like this. This guy in charge now is just insane.”

    “What’s that? Did I hear you two discussing me?”

    Without the notice of the two scientists, a third man had slipped into the room behind them. He could be distinguished by his prematurely-graying hair, styled with two spikes on the right side, three on the left, and two long bangs hanging over his bespectacled face. Perhaps more startling, though, was the giant scar that formed a blood-red arc across his visage. His clothing was mainly shades of black and gray, though the coat he wore beneath his cape was outlined with yellow.

    Immediately, the two scientists, who were clearly subordinates of the third, stiffened up from nerves.

    “Well, no, of course we wouldn’t be, sir…” the first fumbled.

    “You know, you’re a terrible liar. I overheard everything. You’re lucky we’re on such a tight schedule, though. What you call a waste of Finansielle’s money is actually a vital project for Polaris’s plan, vital enough that it just got you off of a punishment for insubordination. What’s the status of Project J?”

    “There have been no responses thus far, sir,” explained the second of the underlings. “However, Project J has showed continued molecular stability and zero signs of degeneration.”

    “Excellent, that means it’s still perfectly preserved. Continue trying to reactivate it, and let me know if it…”

    The sound of beeping from the computer console interrupted the man’s sentence, but it turned his expression into one of excitement. Readouts on the screens that had previously displayed only straight, flat lines now were spiking and falling rapidly.

    “I… really? Project J… it’s communicating with us, sir!”

    “Switch over to real-time translation of those waves!”

    Sufficiently cowed by his superior’s joyous outburst, the first of the two scientists swiftly entered a command into his computer, replacing the wave patterns with lines of written text.

    “Hello? Where am… I?”

    “The laboratory of Polaris,” one of the men typed in response. “We’ve separated you from your body and kept you alive.”

    There was a pause as the entity in the tank considered what it had been told. “What do you intend to do with me?”

    “Sir?”

    The leader of this rather odd team leaned over one of the computers and typed in his own comment. “We are going to see if we can create a new body for you and put you in it. We want to see if you will survive.”

    “Please, give me a new body! I want one! Give me a new body and I’ll work for you, even!”

    “I can’t believe this is actually happening,” the first scientist whispered out loud. “Project J is fully active.”

    “I must present this news at the next meeting of the Sacred Helix,” the leader declared, pulling a golden mask in the shape of a feline Pokémon from his black cape and affixing it to his face. “This development is an important day in the progress of Polaris’s goal.”

    -:-

    Present day

    Light shining down from several large spotlights illuminated the two women contained within the circular desk fixture. Shackled and dressed in rags, they presented a strange, unsettling sight, and this was not helped by the blank facial expressions both wore as they slowly danced around the circle.

    The first of the two women to speak was the one with flowing purple hair. “When the vast white flame of truth burns out…” she said in a breathy, flat voice, “…and the deep black thunder of ideals dissipates into nothing…”

    “That gray void of nothing…” her counterpart, distinguishable by her green ponytail, completed. “That is the Day of Reckoning.”

    “Thank you so very much, Anthea, Concordia,” uttered one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm. This man was the only one of the seven to not be wearing some kind of mask, instead opting for a red eyepiece that covered only his right eye. His entire appearance was fittingly bizarre – his pale green hair had a trio of strands hooking around, one on each side and another atop his head. His clothing was even stranger, consisting of a black, tattered cape hemmed with red; underneath it was a jet-black suit accentuated with yellow bands around the wrists. Apparently a designation of his rank, his seat was identified with the number ‘3’ on the front of his desk. “Fellow members of the Sacred Helix, as you can see, the traitorous waste known as the Tenganist people know information that will assist us in pursuing our true ideals!”

    “We didn’t need your Gypsy carnival dance show to learn that, Ghetsis.” This was the man from the science lab overseeing Project J, who now wore his mask to hide his scarred face. He was sitting at the seat numbered ‘8.’

    “Watch it, Jeunes,” reproached the number-four executive, a woman whose nearly-full head and shoulder armor left her slightly-aged-looking nose and mouth areas as the only indications of her gender aside from her voice. “There is no need for such pettiness between members of the Sacred Helix. You have all been chosen for a reason.”

    “Yes, Finansielle. Please forgive me.”

    “Might I also urge Jeunes to remember he’s the leader of section eight while I’m the head of section three,” Ghetsis saw fit to add, turning his sarcasm on his colleague.

    The man sitting at the seat for section number two would have none of this. “And I would urge you, Ghetsis, to remember your place. You had all three Angels within your grasp in Unova and you let them slip away. That failing set us back by years and cost a substantial amount of funds to recover from. We cannot sustain any such failure again.”

    Ghetsis could not respond. His incredible pride was damaged, and it left him unable to do anything but stare at the man who had belittled him. Staring back was that man’s own unique mask, which loaned him the appearance of a Darkrai; the left half of his face was covered by flowing white plumage, while an opaque eyepiece in a half-circle shape covered the right.

    -:-

    “The big story that everyone’s talking about tonight is the upcoming meteor shower surrounding the closest pass of the meteor Persephone-2213 to Earth in over a thousand years, and we’ll be back in a few minutes to get more in-depth on it.”

    It was night in the Pewter City Museum of Science, and as such, the building was dark and empty. Only a single night watchman – a portly, gentle-looking individual - remained, and he was perfectly content to remain in his security booth watching the news on television and snacking absentmindedly from a box of doughnuts.

    His complacence was directly the reason why he did not notice the infiltrator who slipped into the museum.

    Moving quietly and blending into the shadows, the mysterious invader slipped past several displays of relics from ancient cultures. As interesting as those displays were to him, he had a mission and intended to stick to it. At the entry to a larger hall, he stopped and glanced carefully around, eventually spotting a security camera positioned up on the wall straight ahead.

    He leaned down and smiled. “Do you really think such a feeble defense can stop me?”

    On the wall next to him was a fuse box sealed with four screws; luckily for the thief, he had come prepared with a screwdriver. He wasted no time in using the tool to remove the screws, and once they were gone he removed the metal plate from the console, exposing the blinking lights of the fuses within.

    Quietly, the thief raised his right arm, causing the material of his bodysuit to make a stretching sound. The air around his hand crackled with static electricity, ending with a lightning bolt flowing from his palm into the fuses, overloading them and blowing out the entire museum’s power.

    In his booth, the watchman had finally taken notice of something amiss when the lights went out. However, he was too slow to act, and when the power system shorted out, the museum went into automatic lockdown – which included the door in and out of his small room.

    While the guard cursed the door and attempted in vain to work it open, the intruder was completely unaffected by the lockdown. With a special silver briefcase in hand, he strode across the wide hall to a certain exhibit – a pair of shining glass orbs, one with angular, uneven surface, and the other with a smooth surface.

    Setting the briefcase carefully on the floor, he read the sign in front of the exhibit out loud, “Adamant Orb and Lustrous Orb.”

    These treasures were his objective, so he set about the process of taking them. Aware of an invisible laser barrier shielding the two orbs, he set his hand down on the edge of the exhibit platform, sending a surge of his electricity through it. The two pedestals supporting the pair of orbs each suffered a small explosion and collapsed, dropping the precious items down to the ground, where they were no longer within the boundaries of the laser barriers.

    Knowing that he could not reach the Adamant Orb and Lustrous Orb manually, the intruder searched around the room for something to use, ultimately settling on a yellow-and-blue hooked staff once wielded by an ancient king. This tool was originally placed next to a replica of a similarly-colored sarcophagus, but now, the burglar simply used it to carefully pull the orbs to himself. He collected the orbs one at a time, setting them carefully within the foam outlines inside his briefcase.

    His work finished, he sealed up the case and started walking back the way he came. However, something caught his eye on the way, prompting him to stop. It was a relief cut into white stone, depicting three humanoid Pokémon with long tails riding on clouds.

    “The Legendary Pokémon said to have been sealed on Emeraude Island, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus…” He chuckled as he shook his head. “It’ll have to wait, but your time will come…”

    Abruptly turning around, the enigmatic figure discovered another exhibit, one that excited him even further – a large capsule, roughly seven or eight feet tall, sealed at its top by an airtight lock.

    “So we meet at last, Zoroark…” The thief could barely contain the thrill in his voice as he slowly approached the capsule. “You’ve been trapped in there for so long, but please wait just a little longer. I promise to you that I will return and free you, and at that point, your reign will begin!”

    -:-

    Route 26, right on the border between Johto and Kanto, was a long, lightly populated stretch of land. One of the few buildings on the road was a florist shop, heavily overgrown with many kinds and colors of flowers.

    A fairly nondescript black car pulled up to the shop, and its driver stepped out. He was a tall man dressed in a heavy black trench coat, using a fedora and a pair of dark sunglasses to further conceal his identity. As he strolled deliberately into the shop with a suitcase in his hand, he was greeted by its counter clerk.

    “See anything you like around here?” the clerk inquired, gesturing to the countless flowers around the inside of the building. He was perfectly able to talk despite his identity, in fact, being a Meowth didn’t seem to reduce his humanity at all. Once he got a better look at the customer, however, he froze. Turning to the back room, he yelled, “Hey, you two, get out here!”

    “Be quiet, Meowth, we’re coming.”

    The fiery red-headed woman who replied to Meowth’s call soon appeared, alongside her somewhat-effeminate-looking male companion. Both were dressed in plain brown clothes, and the male half of the duo had blue hair of a moderate length. The only unusual characteristic between the two of them was the extremely long ponytail worn by the woman.

    Both took a moment to analyze their visitor. Glancing over him, they did not immediately react, but when he removed his sunglasses to reveal his vivid green eyes, they realized who he was.

    “Pierce, what are you doing here?” the man asked, hushing his voice deliberately. “Things changed, don’t you know?”

    “And I’m here to tell you things have changed again,” Pierce forcefully explained, his deep voice almost shaking the room. “Jessie, James, Meowth, I have orders related to me from the boss to come here and pick you up. Do you have your Pokémon?”

    Jessie and James checked their belts; she had two Poké Balls, while James had one. After verifying this fact, they both nodded to Pierce, who replaced his glasses and turned for the door.

    “Come with me. There’s a car outside waiting for you.”

    Though they were confused, Jessie, James and Meowth followed Pierce anyway. Once they were outside and walking to Pierce’s car, though, Jessie decided to confront him.

    “Just what is this all about, Pierce? You come here, barge in and disrupt our lives… you know you have no right to do that.”

    “You left your suitcase back there, too…” added an equally-disturbed James.

    Pierce did not answer, instead, he silently led the trio to his car and beckoned them in through a door that he opened for them. Once they were seated, he got into the driver’s seat and closed his door, then raised up his hand and snapped his fingers.

    Outside, the building Jessie, James and Meowth lived in exploded in flames. All three of them gasped, and much to her frustration, Jessie’s Wobbuffet escaped from its ball to join the chorus of dismayed groans.

    “What do you think you’re doing, you punk?!” Meowth screeched.

    “Code Black Seven has been initiated by Giovanni,” Pierce uttered while staring straight ahead. “The lives you knew are now at an end.”

    Immediately, the mood in the car changed. Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were all cowed by Pierce’s announcement, and their attitudes became somber.

    “That means Polaris has finally made its move, then,” Jessie commented.

    “Is the boss alright?” James asked immediately after Jessie spoke. “We aren’t too late, are we?”

    “Giovanni is fine, but he is under house arrest and being closely monitored. I have been sent to escort you to the Executives who will be commanding your operations from this point forward.”

    -:-

    A gentle breeze blew through New Bark Town, a peaceful district in the Johto Region’s southeast. Once a completely residential location that required its citizens to take the short stroll to nearby Cherrygrove City for supplies, time had passed and the touch of tourism had arrived; a few hotels, shops, restaurants and other facilities now stood anachronistically alongside the stately wooden homes and power-generating windmills.

    One such building was a twelve-floor hotel and spa that towered over much of the town. Lodging was provided from the third floor up, while dining and shopping took up the second floor and spa services occupied the first.

    The spa offered hot tubs within private spaces for rental usage. Two women and a younger girl were lounging in one of these units, attempting to relax after several stressful days. They were watching the same news broadcast as the security guard at the Pewter Museum.

    “Experts predict that the closest point of Persephone-2213 will not come for several more months, but the meteor showers resulting from its debris field have already begun. Some small meteorites have gone astray from their field and struck the planet, but none of them are large enough to cause significant damage. One of the larger meteorites crashed two weeks ago at the Ruins of Alph in central Johto, and excavation is about to get underway to examine it.”

    “Nekou, Bunny, isn’t that interesting?” said the girl, her voice somewhat tempered by her worn nerves. She moved around, allowing her long, curly blue hair to drift gently in the water. “I think I should thank you guys, too. I’ll find my dad with the help you’re giving me.”

    “You’re very welcome, Olivia,” responded the woman who was farther away from the girl, who could be distinguished by her two ponytails formed from her warmly brown-hued hair and her striking blue eyes. “You’re Matt’s apprentice, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t help you out too.”

    “Ordinarily I’d just say to watch out for yourself and no one else, but this time, I’ll have to agree with Bunny.” The woman in the middle was perhaps the most unusual of the three. She wore glasses and had hair colored black with red streaks that flowed everywhere, and her left arm was held up by a white sling. A huge bruise occupied her left shoulder, forcing her to switch her right hand between the can of beer and tube of potato chips she’d placed next to herself. “Counting on others is a good way to be disappointed, Olivia. But if you can find someone that is worthy of your trust, well… that’s pretty cool, you know?”

    “It’s worth noting, though,” Bunny commented as Nekou took a huge slurp out of her beer before crunching a mouthful of chips, “that it’s Matt’s money paying for our luxury accommodations right now.”

    “He’s always like this,” explained Olivia, “even when it’s completely out of place. He’s always trying to do favors to try and convince people he’s nice, or something. He shouldn’t have to do so much to make people like him.”

    “That sucks pretty ****ing bad,” Nekou blurted out, not bothering to check the expletives that came out in her bored-sounding speech even though Olivia was around. “I mean, I’m not complaining, I get a free spa trip out of it. I’m just saying that I don’t believe in trying to cover or apologize for who you are. When people pulled that on me, I told them to shove it. I couldn’t live like that.”

    Bunny took a deep breath, feeling awkward due to Nekou’s casual outburst. Deciding to transition the conversation to a different topic, she said, “So, Olivia, you’re going to finally get a starter Pokémon and become a formal trainer tomorrow. Have you given any thought into what Pokémon you’ll choose?”

    “Well, Professor Elm can offer me Chikorita, Cyndaquil or Totodile, right? I could go with Totodile, since it’s a Water-type. My dad would approve of that. But… Cyndaquil is really cute, too, but I don’t know if I could go with a Fire-type…”

    “Shifting gears from the meteor shower,” said the voice of the newscaster on the television near the hot tub, “we now bring you an update on another story that’s been gripping the nation: the serial killer known as Kiss of Death.”

    Olivia, Nekou and Bunny had their conversation interrupted by the news report, but as they became interested in what the report had to say, they weren’t bothered.

    “The Kiss of Death killer has struck again. Melvin Clemens, a management director for the Angel Corporation, was found brutally murdered in his Viridian City apartment last night. Fitting with the pattern of her previous crimes, the scene was left completely, spotlessly cleaned of all signs of her presence. Only the horribly mangled body of Mr. Clemens was left behind, and all DNA evidence was removed, leaving only the signature imprint of the shape of the killer’s lips in the victim’s blood on him.”

    The screen then changed what it displayed, replacing the newscaster with a bony-faced man whose rigid gaze was framed by thick eyebrows and thin, flat black hair. Olivia nearly jumped out of the water, as she recognized him immediately.

    “That’s Detective Looker!” she exclaimed, before explaining, “He helped us out five years ago! You know, back when my dad was still around to fight the bad guys…”

    “Don’t dwell on that,” Nekou said sharply, “let’s listen to what he’s got to say now.”

    “Developed have we a picture of definition on this most vicious serial killer,” Looker spoke on the television. “All of the murders being associated with this killer have exhibited the signs of sameness, yes. Always the victim’s body gets dropped and left behind in a terribly mutilated state of being, along with the calling card of the killer’s signature, her lips being cast in the blood of the dead one. All genetic evidence that would show leads is, sadly to be saying, destroyed at the scene of each and every committed crime.”

    “You know, a story like that is kind of romantic in a sense.”

    “Romantic?” hissed Bunny, her voice completely giving away how much Nekou’s comment bothered her. “It’s a sick mass murderer! How can that be romantic?”

    “Well, think about it. Maybe she has more motives than simply just killing. And for the romantic part, I mean, she only kisses every one of her victims with their own blood on her lips. I can’t help but feel like there’s more to the Kiss of Death story is all I’m saying.”

    Having spent the last few minutes absorbing the words of those around her, Olivia suddenly blurted out, “I wonder where Matt is? I thought he said he was going to join us.”

    “Oh, he’s probably off jerking around somewhere, probably literally.” Nekou sighed and sipped her beer before adding, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get some pizza and leave him out of it. **** him if he doesn’t want to hang out with us.”

    -:-

    Though she was wrong, Nekou probably would have made the same joke even if she truly did know about what was going on four floors above them.

    Most of the lights in the spacious room the quartet shared were out, aside from the lamp on a desk near the window. Additional light floated from the room’s television – tuned to the same news report as the one in the spa – as well as from the blue tablet computer in the hands of the tall, leanly-built man sitting on one of the beds. He was dressed in a simple white shirt made of light material and black pants.

    Matt was staring emptily at the screen with his right eye, his left covered by an eyepatch patterned with a purple rose. The object of his depressed fascination was a photograph, depicting a younger, less-disheveled version of himself standing with a younger Olivia and two others, a suited man with spiky blue hair and a vaguely tomboyish woman whose purple hair was bobbed short.

    Feeling a spike of sorrow, the man adjusted his glasses and brushed aside the lock of his shoulder-length blonde hair that hung over his right eye. He then reached to the table, taking an ornate silver flask in his right hand and sipping from it before returning it to its place.

    “All of the people whose lives have been destroyed or lost just to get to this point…” Sliding his finger across the tablet’s screen, he brought up a new photograph. This one was of a young woman wearing a frilly green dress that gave a soft complement to her ice-blue pigtails and eyes. He felt another horrible pang of sadness when he set eyes on this one. “Rich, Anabel, Eleanor, Agenta… I’ll take all the grief surrounding you onto myself. It’s my fault all of this happened, and I’ll make my quest for the truth bring you justice.”

    -:-

    The next day, clouds were beginning to gather over New Bark Town.

    Bunny, now wearing a stately black-and-gray business suit, and Olivia, who was wrapped in a blue cape with silver lining, were waiting in the lobby of the resort. They were unable to leave until Nekou and Matt joined them, so they were conversing further between themselves.

    “So did you make up your mind yet, Olivia?” Bunny thoughtfully asked, genuinely curious about Olivia’s pending choice of starter Pokémon.

    “I’m going to take Totodile,” the girl decisively declared, tapping her pink boots against the floor in an alternating fashion. “Cyndaquil is very cute, but I can’t just ignore the fact that Totodile is a Water-type. Surely, if I enter the Pokémon League and Grand Festival with a Water-type starter Pokémon, my dad will have to take notice, right?”

    Bunny nodded, but she could not find any words to verbally answer. Olivia bringing up her father, Rich, and his own preference for Water-types put Bunny in an awkward positon. She did not want to lie to Olivia, but at the same time, she felt an obligation to respect Matt’s wish to not tell Olivia of Rich’s death as well.

    Luckily, the situation disappeared by itself when Nekou came swaggering into the lobby with a croissant caked in icing in her hand. The neckline of her black blouse was rather low, exposing quite a bit of her cleavage, while her midriff was also uncovered due to only one of the buttons on the garment actually being closed; as a result, the bottom of it moved around over her ruffled black skirt. Her gait was further exaggerated by the boots she wore, which went up to her knees, and the socks that continued from there to her thighs.

    “You shouldn’t worry about what your dad thinks about your choice,” Nekou advised Olivia in a rather blithe manner. “Live for yourself. Do what makes you happy. Is Totodile the one you truly want for yourself?”

    “It is,” Olivia confirmed with a quick nod. However, her mood quickly darkened when she attempted to come up with an explanation of why. “It’s a Water-type, and if I don’t pick a Water-type…”

    Leaning down, Nekou put her hands on Olivia’s shoulders and looked straight into her eyes. “Don’t worry. Even if you don’t have any idea right now… you’ll find something. You’ll find your place where everything is as it should be, and when you do, you’ll know.”

    “I…” Unable to find enough words for a proper response, Olivia looked away from Nekou in shame. “I’m sorry. I have to find him no matter what I have to do.”

    “That’s okay. You’ll come across your truth eventually. I trust you.”

    “Nekou, have you seen Matt anywhere?” Bunny stepped in to ask. “Did you see him on the way down here?”

    “I haven’t seen that bastard anywhere,” Nekou replied, rising to her full height as she did so. “Maybe we should just leave his *** here.”

    “That bastard, as you call him, is right here.” Now dressed in a blue longcoat with silver edges and yellow feather patterns on the lapels, Matt stepped closer to the others after arriving in the lobby himself. He also had a dark blue messenger bag printed with a logo of the wingspan of a white dragon Pokémon slung over his right shoulder. “I was arranging for the resort to send our property ahead to Cherrygrove City. What have I missed? Did I hear that Olivia decided on her starter Pokémon?”

    “She had it narrowed down to Totodile or Cyndaquil and picked Totodile,” Nekou said to Matt, informing him of the previous conversations, “but that doesn’t mean much if you didn’t want to hang out with us.”

    “Oh please, Nekou, spare me. Let’s just be here to support Olivia today, alright?”

    Nekou grimaced at Matt, having been seeking more of a rise out of him than she got. Perhaps, then, it was a good thing that Bunny provided a distraction by refocusing the conversation on Olivia herself.

    “Did you already tell Minccino and Roselia about your choice?”

    “Not yet, Bunny, but I will. Let’s get going to Professor Elm’s lab.”

    Olivia rushed ahead and out of the hotel, forcing Matt, Nekou and Bunny to run after her. This led them outside into the busy common area of New Bark Town, which still served as its community center despite the modernizations of the area. They weren’t far from Elm’s laboratory, so it took about seven minutes at this brisk, fast-walking pace for the entire group to reach the building marked “Elm Pokémon Lab,” a humble, two-story house that was beginning to look out of place in the quickly-modernizing town.

    “Well, this is it,” Matt mused, looking up at the lab. “Once we pass through that door, there’s no turning back. Are you ready, Olivia?”

    “Hell yeah, I am! Let’s go!”

    “I love your energy,” Nekou remarked before pushing the button next to the door, causing it to slide open.

    Inside the lab was a rigid but warm-looking place, filled with shelves and computer units. Despite the obviously scientific nature of the facility, it still came off as a welcoming place, well-suited to the place where trainers would collect their starter Pokémon.

    “Professor Elm, I’m here for my starter Pokémon!” Olivia called out.

    At that moment was when what would be the first of many strange events took place.

    Olivia and the others were expecting to see an awkward, nerdy-looking man with glasses and brown hair, but he wasn’t there. Instead, the only person present in the lab was a woman, wearing her hair in a thick ball, who had a briefcase at her side. She seemed just as surprised to the group as they were to see her.

    “Professor… Juniper?” Nekou breathed, thoroughly confused.






    END of CHAPTER 1
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 30th June 2014 at 9:02 AM. Reason: Adding links

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  2. #2
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    YAY, IT'S FINALLY HERE!

    Nice to see Zager in his younger years, though Azrael's birth is just...woah. D: As for Project J and the Sarced Helix, very interested on both.

    The museum break in scene, oh boy Zoroark is returning eh? Looking forward Zoroark's role in this story (I think it's hinted in the trailer, but I forgot and probably will have to read the trailer again :x ).

    Like the interaction with the ladies there. LOL to be honest I would react badly to Nekou thinking The Kiss of Death is romantic. As for Matt, I'll admit while I feel sorry for him at the same time it's a bit tiring seeing him being obsessed with him trying to avenge their deaths/griefs. I know you have plans for Matt's development though, so don't worry too much about that little criticism of mine, heh.

    The next scene, all I got to say is YAY JESSIE, JAMES, AND MEOWTH! Can't wait to see what you have in store for them.

    The last scene, yeah I'm wondering about why Professor Juniper is here too. .__. Didn't expect that! (if that was hinted in the trailer too, again forgot urgh).

    So yeah, this has been my jumbled thoughts on the prologue while reading this at midnight. XD Can't wait for Chapter One!


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    Some great posts so far. I want to talk to all of you, so I'm going to split Neo Pikachu's post off into its own separate reply so I can cover everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay View Post
    YAY, IT'S FINALLY HERE!
    YES. YES IT IS.

    Nice to see Zager in his younger years, though Azrael's birth is just...woah. D: As for Project J and the Sarced Helix, very interested on both.
    All things you'd probably benefit from remembering, though I'm sure you guessed that. They're all connected in more ways than you might thing.

    The museum break in scene, oh boy Zoroark is returning eh? Looking forward Zoroark's role in this story (I think it's hinted in the trailer, but I forgot and probably will have to read the trailer again :x ).
    It wasn't hinted at aside from the last line of the scene being in the trailer. That said, Zoroark does have a very important role to play.

    Like the interaction with the ladies there. LOL to be honest I would react badly to Nekou thinking The Kiss of Death is romantic. As for Matt, I'll admit while I feel sorry for him at the same time it's a bit tiring seeing him being obsessed with him trying to avenge their deaths/griefs. I know you have plans for Matt's development though, so don't worry too much about that little criticism of mine, heh.
    Actually, it's probably a good thing that you feel that way. Obviously he's going to feel that way for a while still, but discontent is the first step to getting him to change from it.

    The next scene, all I got to say is YAY JESSIE, JAMES, AND MEOWTH! Can't wait to see what you have in store for them.
    I think it'll be quite interesting.

    The last scene, yeah I'm wondering about why Professor Juniper is here too. .__. Didn't expect that! (if that was hinted in the trailer too, again forgot urgh).
    No, it wasn't in the trailer, but the reason will be given quite quickly, so don't worry about speculating too much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morpher01
    And so, it has arrived.

    Interesting opening scene. I already have some theories regarding the various projects Zager and the Polaris scientists were working on, but I'll reserve those for a later time.
    Ah, you and your ever-present theories, Morpher. Part of me almost wants to invite you to PM them to me so I can see what you're thinking.

    Ah, the trio returns! Welcome back to Jessie, James, and Meowth. I am curious to see how you'll adapt their humor, though.
    I've worked on a few possible ways of doing it, and you should be seeing them shortly.

    And also, Mark Hamill as Ghetsis is awesome. XD
    And that's why he is Ghetsis, exactly. XD

    Hmm...I suspect we'll be learning more about the guy who took Zoroark's Lock Capsule from the Pewter Museum. I also suspect the "Kiss of Death" killer will be appearing in person at some point.
    Right on both counts, though he didn't take the Lock Capsule. He only said that he would come back eventually to take it.

    Now for Olivia beginning her journey. Juniper's in charge of distributing Johto Pokemon? Elm's dead, then, isn't he?
    It's... going to turn out a little more differently than this.

    So...what exactly happened to Combee?
    I got completely stuck on this one. In hindsight, I probably would have never done that chapter in XD^3 where she caught Combee if I knew it would end up this way.

    Combee still exists, it just isn't one of the Pokemon she carries on her. It's probably living with Anabel.

    Quote Originally Posted by rokettololi
    This was an excellent prologue.

    You did a really good job setting the scene in the first flashback. The description of the noises and sights in the lab were really well described and it was very atmospheric. The dialogue also did a really good job of setting the tension in the scene.
    Excellent, that's what I was aiming for.

    The action is all really mysterious so far and the pacing is great. I especially appreciate how you're introducing the cast fairly gradually, and I'm happy seeing Olivia and Nekou back to their regular selves. Their chemistry is adorable and they're great as a pair.
    That's excellent as well. I want it to be mysterious and guess-provoking, and I also am pleased that you're able to get into the characters as they're being introduced.

    And yay Trio! Great work getting their characters right on target, and bringing them in this early as well. I'm interested in what lies ahead for them.
    It was actually quite difficult to get them precisely right. Even getting them in character for a short scene is obviously quite an encouraging first step.

    Overall, great work on all of this. I'm really looking forward to chapter 1.
    Thank you!

    Neo Pikachu, in order to give your comments fair space, they will be in the next reply.

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    And so, it has arrived.

    Interesting opening scene. I already have some theories regarding the various projects Zager and the Polaris scientists were working on, but I'll reserve those for a later time.

    Ah, the trio returns! Welcome back to Jessie, James, and Meowth. I am curious to see how you'll adapt their humor, though. And also, Mark Hamill as Ghetsis is awesome. XD

    Hmm...I suspect we'll be learning more about the guy who took Zoroark's Lock Capsule from the Pewter Museum. I also suspect the "Kiss of Death" killer will be appearing in person at some point.

    Now for Olivia beginning her journey. Juniper's in charge of distributing Johto Pokemon? Elm's dead, then, isn't he? Something I've been wondering, though, and I've been meaning to ask:

    “Did you already tell Minccino and Roselia about your choice?”
    So...what exactly happened to Combee?

    Can't wait to see more. This is already getting interesting!
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    Hmm, don't ask what drew me here, usually I don't read fan fiction any more, but I found the title to be intriguing and sounded cool, so I figured, why not?

    I figured I'd handle this review in parts.

    OCTOBER 9, 1987

    The intro seems pretty well-written in terms of description, and you introduce Doctor Zager, but you don't mention his name until a little later. By then, it's a bit too late, and as the reader, I kind of lost sight that Zager is the one who is the "young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, etc."

    You also capture emotions pretty well, but the characters don't really reflect on them, such as thinking about the what could happen, why they're worried, and what the consequences are. All of these things would provide a massive amount of insight to the reader, would draw out Zager's character, and make it easier to follow. From his dialogue, he believes in the success of the project at all costs, and is under some kind of pressure, but we don't know from what or who. As anyone's guess, it could be from a possible superior of Zager's (possibly his enigmatic father), the money that was invested into the project, a possible race against some kind of deadline, or something else. As the reader, I can only guess.

    Lastly, you conclude this little intro part with the foreshadowing of things like "purpose of Polaris" and "the Azarel Project." A good question to ask here is... how long should the reader hang onto remembering these bits and pieces before they become relevant?

    I can tell you were trying to use this intro into hooking the reader, making sure the suspense and intrigue was there so they wouldn't hit the back button. It's there, but it's a bit confusing. Dr. Gabriel Zager's intro is a little ambiguous at first. I feel it would have been better to address him by full name right away rather than hold off until another character addressed him (and didn't even use his full name).

    After this, you had a list of names, followed by "Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning" and I can't really figure out what the purpose of that was. Who... exactly are these people and why are their names listed here?

    Anyway, moving on.

    MAY 1, 2008

    We're skipping ahead 21 years, and we find out Dr. Zager's team is disbanding, and he's disappeared. You mention Polaris a second time, but the reader still doesn't have a clear picture what exactly Polaris is. Yes, I remember the double-helix P mentioned very early in the story, but as for the faction/company/agency's foundation and purpose, we still don't know. You mention the labs, but so it helps give the reader a slightly better idea of what kind of entity Polaris is, but you leave a lot of it still in the dark.

    Another name, Finansielle, is mentioned. However, we're not sure if this is a person, the name of a faction, a company, or whatnot. Then, you mention Project J. As the reader, I'm still trying to hold on to figuring what "Polaris," "Azarel Project," and "Finansielle" are supposed to be, so I kind of feel like I'm getting buried by trying to hold onto remembering these bits and pieces that don't really have any foundation of an introduction. Then, to top that all off, you mention "the Sacred Helix," again, with nothing to remember it by.

    So far, I've got:

    Polaris - Some kind of research laboratory, but not sure who or what they are about, why they were founded, and why they're attempting to accomplish these things. Gradually, you're getting better at establishing what this entity is, but there's still a massive amount of detail I feel you're leaving out.
    Azarel - Not much besides they were born 21 years ago.
    Finansielle - Absolutely no idea who or what this is.
    Sacred Helix - No idea either.

    This is a LOT of expectation on your reader to try and remember these things that sound like they're crucial to the story, but unfortunately, you give extremely little insight as to what they are. Unless you provide insight on them relatively quickly, yes, people are going to forget and lose track of them as they read on and start remembering other things.

    PRESENT DAY: PART 1

    You introduce Ghetsis, but again, only mentioning the name when another character addresses him after putting a good bit of description about him. I really don't know why you do this. It's kind of like saying "it's got a chair, a bed, a tv, a couch, a ceiling fan... it's my apartment!" instead of just telling us outright "hey, this is my apartment and this is all the things it has so you can remember it by." It's easier on the reader's head. Saying "uttered Ghetsis, one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm" would have been perfect. You're going to tell us his name soon anyway, right? It's too much like getting a handful of water (all the details about Ghetsis) before getting the bucket (Ghetsis's name) to put it all in. This kind of reverse description is kind of hard to swallow.

    Besides that, I like the way you introduced him as being a cynical douchebag. Then you have someone address him, a man from the science lab overseeing Project J (more water without a bucket), with a mask on his scarred face (more water, can't carry it all!), sitting at seat number 8 (oh crap, it's spilling!), and then...

    "Watch it, Jeunes," - Whew, a name to apply that all to! Okay, this wasn't nearly as bad as with Ghetsis, but again, reverse introduction. Why!? When you introduce a friend of yourself to someone else, you don't start with all the things they do first, you introduce them by name first. Really, this is kind of becoming a pet peeve of mine. I like this story's description and the way it tries to keep its characters mysterious, but I highly recommend tossing this reverse introduction habit away.

    So we have Ghetsis and Jeunes. Then you finally introduce Finansielle, again... via reverse description. -.- But we're closing in the gaps a tiny bit and the reader finally knows that this council is the Sacred Helix that was mentioned before, but it's still very mysterious and we only know a very little bit about it. We never find out who is sitting in chair #2, however, but we can figure out he's some kind of ominous, imposing figure. We also hear a tidbit about the "Three Angels" and that it was a pretty big blemish on Ghetsis's track record with the Sacred Helix, but we're mostly left in the dark about that also.

    You're doing a little better in terms of bridging the gaps, but metaphorically speaking, we have no idea what the heck you're cooking for dinner. I like what it's all alluding to, but it's a very patchy exposition that does feel like it's moving too fast.

    PRESENT DAY: PART 2

    This museum has got to have the worst kind of security on the planet. Hate to say it, but zapping one camera would NOT kill a museum's entire security system. I know this probably isn't that relevant to the story, but you're kind of Hollywoodizing it with something like that.

    So, you have him (a shadowy, electricity-loving guy) recover the Adamant Orb and the Lustrous Orb. We know they're important because they were in a secure (not really) display case. You then introduce Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus, but again, no insight to their role or what they even are despite being Pokémon. And then, Zoroark. Yet another bit on top of a pile of ambiguity we don't really know what to do with yet.

    Again, I'd have to say you're introducing too much, too fast. Most of us are still trying to remember what was going on with Azarel and the Sacred Helix, along with Ghetsis, Jeunes, Finansielle, and all those other guys...

    PRESENT DAY: PART 3

    So, you introduce Nekou, Bunny, and Olivia in New Bark Town. Their introduction is kind of hard to follow, however.

    Olivia starts off unnamed, just being the girl with worn nerves and curly blue hair. One of the other two addresses her by Olivia, so we are able to tie that together (why oh why with the reverse description!?!?). The one who calls her Olivia is a woman with two ponytails, brown hair, and blue eyes. We don't get her name either, and then a detail about being "Matt's apprentice" strikes up another name we should try to remember in the midst of all this. We don't know if she's Bunny or Nekou. But then we read "Ordinarily I’d just say to watch out for yourself and no one else, but this time, I’ll have to agree with Bunny," which comes from the girl who's wearing glasses, has black hair that has red streaks. Only through process of elimination are we able to figure out:

    Olivia - worn nerves and curly blue hair.
    Bunny - two ponytails, brown hair, blue eyes.
    Nekou - wears glasses, and has black hair with red streaks and the injured arm.

    That, good sir, is a pain in the neck to deal with as a reader. Especially with the truckloads of other things going on in this story. Meanwhile, we don't know who Matt is quite yet, but we can assume he's a good friend of the three girls and is providing a good time for them. But they feel he's "trying to do favors to try and convince people he’s nice, or something," so we get the impression he's using his money to paint over the ugly parts of himself, or at least from Olivia's perception. Nekou just kinds of deals with it, but she agrees that Matt's a con-artist.

    We hear mention of the meteor shower again, a tiny detail that was mentioned in Present Day: Part 2, but as a reader, I'm not sure if this is important or not. I'm guessing not really considering I feel like there's other stuff that's way more crucial. But we hear about the Kiss of Death killer having murdered Melvin Clemens of Angel Corporation. So immediately, we're introduced to three more entities:

    • Kiss of Death Killer
    • Melvin Clemens
    • Angel Corporation


    Followed by Detective Looker, who Olivia is shocked to see on television. We learn the Kiss of Death Killer has a kind of signature of a bloody kiss, but leaves no DNA evidence (epithelial cells from her lips don't count?).

    But again, you introduce more and more, and leave a LOT of loose ends to tie together.

    PRESENT DAY: PART 4

    So we find out what's happening four floors above the girls. We get some description, we find out he knows Olivia. Then we get more names... Rich, Annabel, Eleanor, and Agenta, all people that this mysterious man feels responsible for. We don't know if this is actually Matt or someone else. We don't get his name either.

    It does make this significantly tougher to follow.

    PRESENT DAY: PART 5

    Route 26, flower shop. Again, we have two figures, a tall man dressed in a heavy black trench coat, and the clerk. Doesn't take too long to realize Meowth's the clerk while Jesse and James are in the back, but again, you only tell us their names... much... later... on. -.-

    And we also have Pierce, the tall dude. They step out, follow Pierce, and follow him to his car. The florist shop blows up for reasons we don't know. Then we get more ambiguous details. Code Black Seven, and Giovanni. We don't know what these are about either (assume the reader knows nothing about Pokémon and nothing about him). And then... "the Executives." Period. Again, extremely little insight.

    PRESENT DAY: PART 6

    We're back to Olivia, Nekou, and Bunny traveling through New Bark Town, this time accompanied by Matt, who we know likes to cover up his mistakes by using his money, but we don't know what he looks like. The girls discuss Olivia's choice of a starter Pokémon... though she seems to have a Minccino and a Roselia already (we don't know who or what they are either, but you're assuming the reader already knows they're Pokémon). We hear from Matt, but we don't know what he looks like.

    Lastly, just as the girls are getting excited, they find Professor Juniper instead of Elm. Interesting turn of events, but we still don't know what they're about. Is it because of Polaris, the Kiss of Death killer, or something else? Anyone's guess at this point.

    MY BOTTOM LINE

    To sum it all up in one sentence... you introduce WAY too much, WAY too fast.

    Your descriptions are generally pretty good, but you never described Matt, and we have a great physical and emotional description on a mystery man (Part 4), but we never get his name, so it kind of goes out the window because the reader doesn't really have any anchor to remember it all by. Then we have a massive shopping list of things that get mentioned (Azarel Project, Angel Corporation, etc), but never explained in depth. We don't know what's important and what's a touch and go detail that may never get mentioned again. Angel Corporation could be something that plays a vital role, or it could be nothing.

    You could say "hey, it's a Prologue," but either way you slice it, it's too much to swallow in one bang, and you really don't give too much for the reader to warm up to in each "cut scene" (not to mention a whopping eight scenes is a ridiculous amount of stuff). Just as the reader is slowly getting a gist of what's going on in each of these scenes, they're over, and they're expected to remember what they read, absorb it, and now get ready for a whole new dosage of details as the revolving doors make a smoothie out of their brains.

    And again, I need to mention the reverse description. Some people may like it, but from my personal standpoint, it's awful. I thought the mystery man's name would have been mentioned later, but it never was. And it made figuring out who was Olivia, Bunny, and Nekou a total headache by having to find out their names and then backtrack to learn and imagine what these girls looked like (and even that description was a bit limited). I nearly lost what I remembered about Gabriel Zager because of the delay, and for remembering Ghetsis, it was no fun either.

    You mentioned " both of the previous installments were mainly introductions to the characters and world, and are absolutely not necessary to read first," but as a totally new reader to this, I can't help but feel they are.

    My advice... SLOW DOWN, and TAKE THINGS EASY. If you want to focus on Scared Helix, Azarel, and that stuff in your prologue, that's great, but then go more into detail with that, and save Olivia and the other things for later. Same thing with Jessie, James, and Meowth (heck, the reader may not even know what "Meowth" even is).

    Anyway, I hope this provided a little more insight from the prospective of a new reader. It sounds like you've got an interesting development here, but I think it needs help when it comes to getting organized, presented, and delivered to the reader.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo Pikachu View Post
    Hmm, don't ask what drew me here, usually I don't read fan fiction any more, but I found the title to be intriguing and sounded cool, so I figured, why not?
    Well, that's what a title is for, is it not? I'm glad it worked.

    Okay, let's get down to business.

    The intro seems pretty well-written in terms of description, and you introduce Doctor Zager, but you don't mention his name until a little later. By then, it's a bit too late, and as the reader, I kind of lost sight that Zager is the one who is the "young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, etc."
    I have to admit, I'm having a little bit of trouble completely understanding how you lost track of it. He was the first and only character shown in the room being focused on at first, only sharing the space with the voices on his intercom. When another character (the scientist who became ill) came in, context of authority was placed around Zager to distinguish him. From that point forward, I think a clear identity dynamic was established, so maybe we just don't see it the same way. I can certainly understand where you're coming from, I'm just looking at it and I'm not totally sure I agree with it.

    You also capture emotions pretty well, but the characters don't really reflect on them, such as thinking about the what could happen, why they're worried, and what the consequences are. All of these things would provide a massive amount of insight to the reader, would draw out Zager's character, and make it easier to follow. From his dialogue, he believes in the success of the project at all costs, and is under some kind of pressure, but we don't know from what or who. As anyone's guess, it could be from a possible superior of Zager's (possibly his enigmatic father), the money that was invested into the project, a possible race against some kind of deadline, or something else. As the reader, I can only guess.
    On this one, you are coming close to answering your own question. This was not meant to be a scene of particularly huge insight or deep thought or what have you, the purpose was to deliver some partially connected details in a vivid situation (the urgency of it being why they did not have time to stop and reflect on much of anything, which comes later) which in turn would initiate a process of thought and speculation in the reader. Really, by speculating on things, whether you were right or wrong about any one specific subject, you really did get the point entirely.

    On your guesses: you're close on Zager's personality. He doesn't necessarily believe in the project itself at all costs, but instead, he desperately wants what they did to not have been in vain. If they pulled the plug on the experiment at that point, both the experimental host and Azrael would have died, and their deaths would have been meaningless. He didn't want them to die without anything coming of it.

    Lastly, you conclude this little intro part with the foreshadowing of things like "purpose of Polaris" and "the Azarel Project." A good question to ask here is... how long should the reader hang onto remembering these bits and pieces before they become relevant?
    They will continue to be touched on throughout the story, as they have great importance to the plot, but there will not be a single dump of information. The view of their roles in the plot will evolve into greater clarity as further events drive them to do so.

    I can tell you were trying to use this intro into hooking the reader, making sure the suspense and intrigue was there so they wouldn't hit the back button. It's there, but it's a bit confusing. Dr. Gabriel Zager's intro is a little ambiguous at first. I feel it would have been better to address him by full name right away rather than hold off until another character addressed him (and didn't even use his full name).
    I think I'll have to disagree respectfully on this one. I personally feel a little well-placed ambiguity is an effective tool in hooking a reader, which goes back to what I said earlier about fostering speculation. I also don't feel spelling out his name entirely at once is really necessary, but again, maybe we just disagree.

    After this, you had a list of names, followed by "Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning" and I can't really figure out what the purpose of that was. Who... exactly are these people and why are their names listed here?
    An easter egg for certain readers taking the form of opening cast credits, which went wrong due to a missing center tag that's been fixed.

    We're skipping ahead 21 years, and we find out Dr. Zager's team is disbanding, and he's disappeared. You mention Polaris a second time, but the reader still doesn't have a clear picture what exactly Polaris is. Yes, I remember the double-helix P mentioned very early in the story, but as for the faction/company/agency's foundation and purpose, we still don't know. You mention the labs, but so it helps give the reader a slightly better idea of what kind of entity Polaris is, but you leave a lot of it still in the dark.
    Deliberate. Their true nature and purpose is meant to develop slowly, though some more focus will be given on these subjects in the next chapter that will bring a slight bit more clarity as well as link them together with other, currently-unrelated plot elements.

    Another name, Finansielle, is mentioned. However, we're not sure if this is a person, the name of a faction, a company, or whatnot. Then, you mention Project J. As the reader, I'm still trying to hold on to figuring what "Polaris," "Azarel Project," and "Finansielle" are supposed to be, so I kind of feel like I'm getting buried by trying to hold onto remembering these bits and pieces that don't really have any foundation of an introduction. Then, to top that all off, you mention "the Sacred Helix," again, with nothing to remember it by.
    I can see where you're coming from once again, though I would point out that I don't feel it difficult to ascertain that Project J is the experiment playing out on-screen in this scene. If Project J's full backstory was given immediately, it would reveal important information that cannot come out yet, and the experiment's actual details are seen right in the scene.

    I think I can identify the difference in opinion that's keeping us from seeing eye-to-eye completely. You seem to prefer having a bit more information made clear right away, while I prefer to lay out vague details first to provoke speculation and then link those details together as the plot moves forward. Your approach is certainly just as valid as mine, we just see things differently.

    This is a LOT of expectation on your reader to try and remember these things that sound like they're crucial to the story, but unfortunately, you give extremely little insight as to what they are. Unless you provide insight on them relatively quickly, yes, people are going to forget and lose track of them as they read on and start remembering other things.
    What I do agree with is that there is quite a bit going on. Things will quickly focus into a more tightly-formed package, however, and you will begin seeing ties between these seemingly unrelated plot threads develop almost immediately, while details on these different entities come to light. I think it is mainly overwhelming right now because a lot is being introduced together, but I'm not terribly worried about how it will begin stabilizing next chapter.

    You introduce Ghetsis, but again, only mentioning the name when another character addresses him after putting a good bit of description about him. I really don't know why you do this. It's kind of like saying "it's got a chair, a bed, a tv, a couch, a ceiling fan... it's my apartment!" instead of just telling us outright "hey, this is my apartment and this is all the things it has so you can remember it by." It's easier on the reader's head. Saying "uttered Ghetsis, one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm" would have been perfect. You're going to tell us his name soon anyway, right? It's too much like getting a handful of water (all the details about Ghetsis) before getting the bucket (Ghetsis's name) to put it all in. This kind of reverse description is kind of hard to swallow.
    Is it okay if I use this paragraph to highlight my thoughts on "reverse introduction" on the whole so I don't have to keep going over it?

    I think, once again, that this is merely a matter of us approaching the situation in two different ways. I can give you a definite answer as to why I did it, though - previously, I had a bad habit of introducing characters and then simply listing their characteristics. By weaving their names into dialogue, it helps to facilitate description being attached to action, I think.

    So we have Ghetsis and Jeunes. Then you finally introduce Finansielle, again... via reverse description. -.- But we're closing in the gaps a tiny bit and the reader finally knows that this council is the Sacred Helix that was mentioned before, but it's still very mysterious and we only know a very little bit about it. We never find out who is sitting in chair #2, however, but we can figure out he's some kind of ominous, imposing figure. We also hear a tidbit about the "Three Angels" and that it was a pretty big blemish on Ghetsis's track record with the Sacred Helix, but we're mostly left in the dark about that also.
    Indeed, you can see links taking shape, which I think is a better storytelling mechanism than simply spilling all the details at once. For example, it wouldn't make any sense for Jeunes to speak of Finansielle as if his scientists had never heard of her before, so if he dumped "Finansielle who is in charge of section #4 and controls our budget" to them in the previous scene, it wouldn't make any contextual sense.

    If it helps at all, eight of the ten Sacred Helix leaders will be present together in the first real chapter and be named, while the remaining two missed the meeting but will also get identified.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, stating everything directly immediately would, in my opinion, be counterproductive. I don't think the reader can get as much excitement at all if they don't try to solve the meaning before the story reveals it.

    This museum has got to have the worst kind of security on the planet. Hate to say it, but zapping one camera would NOT kill a museum's entire security system. I know this probably isn't that relevant to the story, but you're kind of Hollywoodizing it with something like that.
    Well, he was shorting it out by forcing a charge through the camera back into the wiring, but yeah, you're right on this one.

    So, you have him (a shadowy, electricity-loving guy) recover the Adamant Orb and the Lustrous Orb. We know they're important because they were in a secure (not really) display case. You then introduce Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus, but again, no insight to their role or what they even are despite being Pokémon. And then, Zoroark. Yet another bit on top of a pile of ambiguity we don't really know what to do with yet.
    All foreshadowing for later. These will all have important roles to play, but not immediately.

    Again, I'd have to say you're introducing too much, too fast. Most of us are still trying to remember what was going on with Azarel and the Sacred Helix, along with Ghetsis, Jeunes, Finansielle, and all those other guys...
    This character is actually a lot more connected to Polaris and the Sacred Helix than you'd think at first glance, and the first real chapter will make it all clear. Don't wonder long on that because you don't need to.


    So, you introduce Nekou, Bunny, and Olivia in New Bark Town. Their introduction is kind of hard to follow, however.

    Olivia starts off unnamed, just being the girl with worn nerves and curly blue hair. One of the other two addresses her by Olivia, so we are able to tie that together (why oh why with the reverse description!?!?). The one who calls her Olivia is a woman with two ponytails, brown hair, and blue eyes. We don't get her name either, and then a detail about being "Matt's apprentice" strikes up another name we should try to remember in the midst of all this. We don't know if she's Bunny or Nekou. But then we read "Ordinarily I’d just say to watch out for yourself and no one else, but this time, I’ll have to agree with Bunny," which comes from the girl who's wearing glasses, has black hair that has red streaks. Only through process of elimination are we able to figure out:

    Olivia - worn nerves and curly blue hair.
    Bunny - two ponytails, brown hair, blue eyes.
    Nekou - wears glasses, and has black hair with red streaks and the injured arm.

    That, good sir, is a pain in the neck to deal with as a reader. Especially with the truckloads of other things going on in this story.
    Surprisingly enough, I actually agree with you on this one. I painted myself into a bit of a corner by setting up a scene where there were three characters all of the same gender with no distinctive clothing present to tell them apart, literally leaving me with just the hair color and Nekou's glasses and injured arm to use for distinction. This was entirely a trap of my own making.

    Meanwhile, we don't know who Matt is quite yet, but we can assume he's a good friend of the three girls and is providing a good time for them. But they feel he's "trying to do favors to try and convince people he’s nice, or something," so we get the impression he's using his money to paint over the ugly parts of himself, or at least from Olivia's perception. Nekou just kinds of deals with it, but she agrees that Matt's a con-artist.
    This is roughly accurate, though it's a bit more casual in tone. He isn't a con artist; your assessment of Olivia's view is closer to the truth.

    We hear mention of the meteor shower again, a tiny detail that was mentioned in Present Day: Part 2, but as a reader, I'm not sure if this is important or not. I'm guessing not really considering I feel like there's other stuff that's way more crucial. But we hear about the Kiss of Death killer having murdered Melvin Clemens of Angel Corporation. So immediately, we're introduced to three more entities:
    Background stuff that will be brought back up. Like, they're things that will be going on in the background and affecting the plot more and more. The meteor shower is going to become an influential plot point quickly enough.

    Melvin Clemens on the other hand is simply a murder victim who had to be given a name. He is meaningless.

    Followed by Detective Looker, who Olivia is shocked to see on television. We learn the Kiss of Death Killer has a kind of signature of a bloody kiss, but leaves no DNA evidence (epithelial cells from her lips don't count?).
    Let's just say that she is really, really, REALLY good at cleaning up after herself.

    So we find out what's happening four floors above the girls. We get some description, we find out he knows Olivia. Then we get more names... Rich, Annabel, Eleanor, and Agenta, all people that this mysterious man feels responsible for. We don't know if this is actually Matt or someone else. We don't get his name either.

    It does make this significantly tougher to follow.
    I'll have to give that part a look again, because it's sounding like there are parts of it I overlooked putting in.

    -Well, there was supposed to be a strong implication from the first sentences that it was Matt in the room. Though, I do see places that can be improved in that scene.

    And we also have Pierce, the tall dude. They step out, follow Pierce, and follow him to his car. The florist shop blows up for reasons we don't know. Then we get more ambiguous details. Code Black Seven, and Giovanni. We don't know what these are about either (assume the reader knows nothing about Pokémon and nothing about him). And then... "the Executives." Period. Again, extremely little insight.
    On this specific subject, almost all of this information is going to be given in the very next chapter.

    We're back to Olivia, Nekou, and Bunny traveling through New Bark Town, this time accompanied by Matt, who we know likes to cover up his mistakes by using his money, but we don't know what he looks like. The girls discuss Olivia's choice of a starter Pokémon... though she seems to have a Minccino and a Roselia already (we don't know who or what they are either, but you're assuming the reader already knows they're Pokémon). We hear from Matt, but we don't know what he looks like.
    Half agreed. I actually did put some description of his appearance earlier, but I overlooked supplying a sufficient amount, and that will definitely have to be dealt with.

    Lastly, just as the girls are getting excited, they find Professor Juniper instead of Elm. Interesting turn of events, but we still don't know what they're about. Is it because of Polaris, the Kiss of Death killer, or something else? Anyone's guess at this point.
    Well, that's pretty much how it's supposed to be. You'll find out very soon.

    To sum it all up in one sentence... you introduce WAY too much, WAY too fast.

    Your descriptions are generally pretty good, but you never described Matt, and we have a great physical and emotional description on a mystery man (Part 4), but we never get his name, so it kind of goes out the window because the reader doesn't really have any anchor to remember it all by. Then we have a massive shopping list of things that get mentioned (Azarel Project, Angel Corporation, etc), but never explained in depth. We don't know what's important and what's a touch and go detail that may never get mentioned again. Angel Corporation could be something that plays a vital role, or it could be nothing.
    And I'll say that while I don't agree with every single point you raised, I have to say that you really did give a thorough and insightful review, and you did raise some very, very good points.

    The things that appear to be dead-ends information wise will be getting focused on and linked together quickly. You are right, however, that the problem lies not necessarily in the events but how they're introduced and presented. I'll definitely work harder on making the general tone and cohesiveness of the rest better.

    I also will go back to add the missing Matt description.

    You could say "hey, it's a Prologue," but either way you slice it, it's too much to swallow in one bang, and you really don't give too much for the reader to warm up to in each "cut scene" (not to mention a whopping eight scenes is a ridiculous amount of stuff). Just as the reader is slowly getting a gist of what's going on in each of these scenes, they're over, and they're expected to remember what they read, absorb it, and now get ready for a whole new dosage of details as the revolving doors make a smoothie out of their brains.
    This is absolutely correct, and it's for that reason that I'm going to split it up into a Prologue and a Chapter 1.

    You mentioned " both of the previous installments were mainly introductions to the characters and world, and are absolutely not necessary to read first," but as a totally new reader to this, I can't help but feel they are.
    I disagree. All they were were standalone stories meant to break in the main characters (Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Bunny) and their interactions. Plotwise there is nothing to worry about.

    My advice... SLOW DOWN, and TAKE THINGS EASY. If you want to focus on Scared Helix, Azarel, and that stuff in your prologue, that's great, but then go more into detail with that, and save Olivia and the other things for later. Same thing with Jessie, James, and Meowth (heck, the reader may not even know what "Meowth" even is).

    Anyway, I hope this provided a little more insight from the prospective of a new reader. It sounds like you've got an interesting development here, but I think it needs help when it comes to getting organized, presented, and delivered to the reader.
    It definitely provided a lot of insight, and I have to thank you profusely. I definitely did pick up some things that will help me, and I'm hoping you might decide to stick around a bit and give me a little more of this excellently insightful feedback.

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  7. #7

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    This was an excellent prologue.

    You did a really good job setting the scene in the first flashback. The description of the noises and sights in the lab were really well described and it was very atmospheric. The dialogue also did a really good job of setting the tension in the scene.

    The action is all really mysterious so far and the pacing is great. I especially appreciate how you're introducing the cast fairly gradually, and I'm happy seeing Olivia and Nekou back to their regular selves. Their chemistry is adorable and they're great as a pair.

    And yay Trio! Great work getting their characters right on target, and bringing them in this early as well. I'm interested in what lies ahead for them.


    Overall, great work on all of this. I'm really looking forward to chapter 1.

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
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  8. #8
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    Alright. Looks like there's a lot of new material to survey. The reviewers here have already covered a lot of the grammatical aspects, so I'll focus on characters and plot:

    Wow. Parasitized? My mind is running through all sorts of possibilities. What, exactly, is the parasite? Who was the poor woman who went through the test and died? I'm assuming that "Azrael" is her child and that she was the "vessel". To put it in shorter terms, the people behind this deliberately began a lethal experiment on a pregnant woman that they knew would kill her. Callous, immoral, and disturbing are just a few of the words that I could use to describe this atrocity - and I don't even know if they'd be enough.

    Polaris is directly involved...why the hell am I not surprised? They make Everton and Nixon look downright sane and reasonable. If any group in your story fits the vision of a cult of fanatics, it has to be them without question. Nutjobs, the whole lot of them (except Zager, who clearly hates them as much as I do). I'm not surprised that they killed off the people who had qualms about the whole thing. I'm surprised that Zager survived, and I'm wondering how he managed to get away from them.

    Sacred Helix is an interesting concept. I'm assuming that there are eight leaders involved (with the boss of them being notably absent in this scene). They mention something about "Angels", which could mean that they're after legends. Project Azrael (the archangel of death in numerous religions) only confirms their obsession with the angelic form - and possibly ascending to a higher plane. I do wonder if demonic references will come into play here as well.

    I'm never going to be able to think about Team Plasma without the Joker's laughing face popping in. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, to be on topic, I was wondering about the roles of Anthea and Concordia. Chains and rags seem to symbolize forced servitude, which is further hinted at with them helping the Sacred Helix, even though Ghetsis is wholly contemptful toward them. I wonder if the Shadow Triad will play a role in this affair...

    Oh, damn. This thief stole the Adamant and Lustrous orbs, the orbs that are connected to Dialga and Palkia. The kami trio factoring into his plans are also frightening, but Zoroark scares me even more, especially if it's the same one that terrorized Matt and his group in the first fic. I really do wonder who this guy is working for. It could be the Sacred Helix, but it could be someone else as well.

    The Kiss of Death...what an interesting name. I love breaking down the profiles of serial killer characters (I have one as a main character, actually), so this is going to be rather interesting:

        Spoiler:- Kiss of Death profile:


    End of profile.

    Matt's group isn't terribly interesting compared to the rest of this prologue, but I do wonder why Juniper is in Johto.

    I really hope that you weren't deterred by my ramblings. I found this to be a very, very interesting start. I'll be keeping both eyes on this. It's admirable that you decided to take this in a bolder direction; not many authors have the conviction to do that.

    Sincerely,

    Mem.
    Last edited by SilentMemento; 9th May 2012 at 3:45 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentMemento View Post
    Alright. Looks like there's a lot of new material to survey. The reviewers here have already covered a lot of the grammatical aspects, so I'll focus on characters and plot:
    Boy, you sure are in for it. XD;

    Wow. Parasitized? My mind is running through all sorts of possibilities. What, exactly, is the parasite? Who was the poor woman who went through the test and died? I'm assuming that "Azrael" is her child and that she was the "vessel". To put it in shorter terms, the people behind this deliberately began a lethal experiment on a pregnant woman that they knew would kill her. Callous, immoral, and disturbing are just a few of the words that I could use to describe this atrocity - and I don't even know if they'd be enough.
    These questions will be answered in time, but the basic fact of it is, yes, she was literally just used as a container for Azrael and died right after Azrael was born. "Parasitized" was meant literally, though I can't really explain fully right now the complete meaning of that. It probably is among your possibilities.

    Polaris is directly involved...why the hell am I not surprised? They make Everton and Nixon look downright sane and reasonable. If any group in your story fits the vision of a cult of fanatics, it has to be them without question. Nutjobs, the whole lot of them (except Zager, who clearly hates them as much as I do). I'm not surprised that they killed off the people who had qualms about the whole thing. I'm surprised that Zager survived, and I'm wondering how he managed to get away from them.
    That's exactly what they are, in fact, so it's great that they actually are already memorable to you as such! I think you will find though that as their members get more screentime, you will find that there are quite a number of diverse characters within their group, and nothing is as cut and dry as it seems.

    Zager didn't get 'removed' for two reasons: one, he was clever enough to actually devise a plan for his escape instead of just openly leaving or (even worse) trying to blow the whistle to the public, and two, the Azrael Project wasn't over when she was born. He was still necessary.

    Sacred Helix is an interesting concept. I'm assuming that there are eight leaders involved (with the boss of them being notably absent in this scene). They mention something about "Angels", which could mean that they're after legends. Project Azrael (the archangel of death in numerous religions) only confirms their obsession with the angelic form - and possibly ascending to a higher plane. I do wonder if demonic references will come into play here as well.
    There are actually ten members on the Sacred Helix, which is the ruling council of Polaris (in case that wasn't clear.) Only nine of the seats are filled as of the present day segments of the first chapter, but the tenth is going to have its new leader appointed in Chapter 2, while seven of the others are involved in the appointment process, one turns up late for the ceremony and misses it, and one seat has a representative sent by its absent leader in his place.

    Very astute observations. I'd encourage you to keep them in mind moving forward.

    I'm never going to be able to think about Team Plasma without the Joker's laughing face popping in. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, to be on topic, I was wondering about the roles of Anthea and Concordia. Chains and rags seem to symbolize forced servitude, which is further hinted at with them helping the Sacred Helix, even though Ghetsis is wholly contemptful toward them. I wonder if the Shadow Triad will play a role in this affair...
    You have it essentially right, though you seem to be operating under the assumption they're helping Polaris willingly, which it's not too much of a spoiler to say that they are not. The spoiler would come if I told you why Ghetsis has them held prisoner and regards them so poorly.

    On the Shadow Triad, in general, I think it's hard to use them, at least right now anyway. Who knows if the "Striaton triplets are the Shadow Triad" theory is actually right, and it could have multiple answers across multiple types of canon, so it's better to leave them out. It doesn't matter anyway, because he has little real need for them in this story.

    Oh, damn. This thief stole the Adamant and Lustrous orbs, the orbs that are connected to Dialga and Palkia. The kami trio factoring into his plans are also frightening, but Zoroark scares me even more, especially if it's the same one that terrorized Matt and his group in the first fic. I really do wonder who this guy is working for. It could be the Sacred Helix, but it could be someone else as well.
    Who he's working for will be revealed in Chapter 2, but it's not going to be some big shocker, so don't get too worked up over predicting it.

    But yes, that is in fact the exact same Zoroark that terrorized Argyros Town, still sealed in the Lock Capsule that Bjorn Zerossen put him in. He was there in the museum in one of the very first scenes of The Firestorm Rebellion, and now people are aware that he's there.

    The Kiss of Death...what an interesting name. I love breaking down the profiles of serial killer characters (I have one as a main character, actually), so this is going to be rather interesting:

        Spoiler:- Kiss of Death profile:


    End of profile.
    I would say that about 80% of your assessments are amazingly accurate. Excellent work.

    I love when people speculate like this, so keep it up.

    Matt's group isn't terribly interesting compared to the rest of this prologue, but I do wonder why Juniper is in Johto.
    The prologue/Chapter 1 wasn't really meant to feature them all that much, so this is pretty much expected. I wanted to establish rather clearly what they're going to be dealing with this time right away, so letting them take a back seat for a chapter wasn't a big deal.

    I really hope that you weren't deterred by my ramblings. I found this to be a very, very interesting start. I'll be keeping both eyes on this. It's admirable that you decided to take this in a bolder direction; not many authors have the conviction to do that.
    No, your so-called "ramblings" were actually pretty great, so don't worry about it.

    Thank you for the kind words. I have a very clear idea of the kind of direction I want to go, and this is just the beginning.

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  10. #10
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    Just finished reading through and it has me wanting to see what happens with this experiment and "Polaris". I can't help but feel like the trainers are going to be overshadowed by the other major plot line until all the plot lines converge into the main story, or when the trainers begin to directly impact or face consequences from "Polaris", Azrael and the other goings on.

    Grammar, description and basic usage of English language is spot on, have to say. Descriptions are not drawn-out and full of useless details, such as the exact number of freckles a trainer has, but I still get a detailed image in my mind of the basic appearance of all the characters, locations and events.

    The characters are plentiful at such an early stage, which impresses and worries me at the same time. Although it is great that you have such a diverse array of characters, there is the risk that personalities, quirks and development could be diluted in an attempt to give everyone equal coverage. If you manage to pull it off, however, kudos. The characters, so far, each have their own agendas, both obvious and subtle.

    In terms of layout, the story seems to flit from place to place rapidly. One second I was in a laboratory, the next a spa and then an explosion sight, and then all the way back to a laboratory. As I said with characters, you are pulling it off so far but there is the risk that things could become hectic as the story develops and characters travel to more diverse regions. This could confuse some readers, but there is no reason you can't pull it off.

    All in all, you have captured the essence of what makes a great Trainer fic: Pokemon, drama and a plot more creative than "steal all Pokemon in world", so well done, pal, keep it up!!
    Looking for:
    Growlithe, Bagon, Vullaby, Zorua, Weedle, Scyther, Houndour, Caterpie, Lapras, Oshawott, Tepig, Tornadus, Piplup, Turtwig, Chimchar, Eevee, Chikorita, Ho-oh, Lugia, Suicune, Raikou, Celebi, Mew, Mewtwo, Larvitar, Dialga, Giratina, Palkia, Rayquaza, Groudon, Kyogre...not much then

    http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthr...The-Johto-Saga My Fic: Daniel Ross - The Johto Saga

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hax 'R' Us View Post
    Just finished reading through and it has me wanting to see what happens with this experiment and "Polaris". I can't help but feel like the trainers are going to be overshadowed by the other major plot line until all the plot lines converge into the main story, or when the trainers begin to directly impact or face consequences from "Polaris", Azrael and the other goings on.
    Thanks for reading! And yes... I think you might find that there's a bit more going on here than the typical journey fic. The core is there, but I think you might find this to go in a few different directions than usual.

    Grammar, description and basic usage of English language is spot on, have to say. Descriptions are not drawn-out and full of useless details, such as the exact number of freckles a trainer has, but I still get a detailed image in my mind of the basic appearance of all the characters, locations and events.
    Good, good. That's about right.

    The characters are plentiful at such an early stage, which impresses and worries me at the same time. Although it is great that you have such a diverse array of characters, there is the risk that personalities, quirks and development could be diluted in an attempt to give everyone equal coverage. If you manage to pull it off, however, kudos. The characters, so far, each have their own agendas, both obvious and subtle.
    As they were meant to you. I don't think you'll have to worry about characters getting their development diluted; obviously, some are going to have larger roles than others, that's just how it goes, but there should be sufficient attention paid to the people who are important. I think it'll work out.

    In terms of layout, the story seems to flit from place to place rapidly. One second I was in a laboratory, the next a spa and then an explosion sight, and then all the way back to a laboratory. As I said with characters, you are pulling it off so far but there is the risk that things could become hectic as the story develops and characters travel to more diverse regions. This could confuse some readers, but there is no reason you can't pull it off.
    I promise the next chapter will be a bit more composed in regards to this. It was very true that I decided to try and establish too much all at once in the prologue/first chapter, but the second will definitely be much more streamlined. There should only be a couple of cutaway scenes, the rest will be extended sequences with the main characters.

    All in all, you have captured the essence of what makes a great Trainer fic: Pokemon, drama and a plot more creative than "steal all Pokemon in world", so well done, pal, keep it up!!
    Thank you very much. I think you'll like what's in store.

    I'm off to finish looking over your fic!

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    Just an update: while I work on Chapter 2, I've revised Chapter 1 and posted an updated version of it in the first post on this thread. I hope some of the problems in it were fixed in the revision.

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    Hello there! I had been tempted to read this for a while now, but having trouble making time for a review, so I was happy to see it in the review game.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    The young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, adjusted his glasses nervously as he surveyed the computers surrounding him. Many of the machines bore the same logo that was stitched onto the man’s breast pocket, a letter ‘P’ formed out of the red-and-yellow strands of a double helix.
    Hm. When I read "letter ‘P’" my first though was naturally Team Plasma, but their logo doesn't fit that description. Hmmm.....
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    All around him were monitors of the situation unfolding in an operating room directly linked to his lab. He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, and had to address the scientists under his command through a microphone affixed to the desk. Large machines, many of them at least the size of a refrigerator, were clustered in one portion of the lab, while a small kitchen unit sat opposite them. There was also a lounging area that consisted simply of an old, rotting bookcase, drab sofa and decrepit television set; on the wall right next to the bookcase was a framed document assigning a doctorate to the man, whose name was Gabriel Zager. A tiny yellow spider Pokémon, Joltik, skittered hyperactively around the room.
    I'm a bit torn on this part. On the one hand, I feel like the impassive description beaks the tense feeling of the situation a tad. But on the other, as a writer, I constantly face the problem of "where do I describe the setting if not here?" and then I end up with things woefully underdescribed. I think the part about him being in charge feels too much like...information just being given to us that breaks flow a bit. Maybe if it was altered to feel more like narration from his point of view, sort of like, "He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, but at this point his only means of control was the microphone he'd been using to address the scientists under his command." Well...like that except better. Soemthing that emphasizes the separation between him and what's going on in there; I think that would liven up the paragraph.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “It’s… it’s horrible...” The scientist was clearly deeply disturbed by what he had seen. He spoke in a shaking, terrified voice, and did not even turn to face his boss. “That thing is a monster… it’s parasitized the very fibers of her being… we never should have played God and done this…”
    Well we had already gotten that impression from his actions, so having it spelled out here feels a bit...forced. Maybe instead a brief description of the twisted or horrified expression he's currently wearing?
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Intrigued and greatly worried by the fearful comments of his team member, Dr. Zager ran his hand across his thick, brown moustache in thought. To some degree, he realized that he should have known things would end in this way.
    You've already got me intrigued as to just what's going on in there. I've got the definite feeling of wanting to read more...
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Zager had to pause briefly when his Joltik, a tiny yellow spider Pokémon, popped out of his sizable brown afro, but he quickly picked back up.
    You already described Joltik, so you don't need to again. It's still fine to drop little descriptive phrases here and there for it, but not in the way as if we don't know what it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “She is the key to all of our goals, so we have to do what we must. Gabriel, it’s about time you learned the truth. The true meaning about the purpose of Polaris… and the meaning of your mission, the Azrael Project.”
    Well then...I'm already wanting to know...how exactly they...created Azrael? And why? Using science no less! I'm now reminding myself that all of this was 25 years ago, so the details are likely meant to be a mystery. Very curious now how Azrael will be involved in a Pokémon fic. This has the potential to be very interesting if the elements of the fic all feel like they belong together in this world. Looks like I'll have to find out~

    Also, this beginning portion sort of feels more like a prologue than the first part of chapter 1.

    I found the voice actor list amusing. Although I think you intended to center it because there's a broken forum tag there?
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “He hasn’t been the same since Azrael failed, but this? This is ridiculous.”
    Failed, huh? That's interesting, it had seemed like they'd created him successfully, but I guess we don't know anything yet.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    The first of the two women to speak was the one with flowing purple hair. “When the vast white flame of truth burns out…” she said in a breathy, flat voice, “…and the deep black thunder of ideals dissipates into nothing…”

    “That gray void of nothing…” her counterpart, distinguishable by her green ponytail, completed. “That is the Day of Reckoning.”
    The allusion to Kyurem there is a nice touch, since I’d been curious how Kyurem was important enough to be on the banner despite his forms being very recently revealed, and the fact that this is the third installment of a long-running series.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Watch it, Jeunes,” reproached the number-four executive, a woman whose nearly-full head and shoulder armor left her slightly-aged-looking nose and mouth areas as the only indications of her gender. “There is no need for such pettiness between members of the Sacred Helix. You have all been chosen for a reason.”
    I like the way this is set up. I immediately thought that the seven people were the seven sages of plasma, but that is clearly not the case. Rather, it is the Sacred Helix, which bears the head of Plasma among its ranks, who are working towards something even greater, though related to the legends which Plasma had sought. This is an interesting setup that clearly conveys a lot of information in a short amount of time.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    These treasures were his objective, so he set about the process of taking them. Aware of an invisible laser barrier shielding the two orbs, he set his hand down on the edge of the exhibit platform, sending a surge of his electricity through it. The two pedestals supporting the pair of orbs each suffered a small explosion and collapsed, dropping the precious items down to the ground, where they were no longer within the boundaries of the laser barriers.
    Again, the matter-of-fact statements in the narrative about things the reader has probably already figured out tend to break the flow a bit.

    Anyways, it's interesting to see the two orbs coming into play, with what I guess to be a Shadow Triad member, though I could be wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “So we meet at last, Zoroark…” The thief could barely contain the thrill in his voice as he slowly approached the capsule. “You’ve been trapped in there for so long, but please wait just a little longer. I promise to you that I will return and free you, and at that point, your reign will begin!”
    Huh. That sounds like the sort of thing that someone would say to a sealed legendary or god. You're setting up a lot of intriguing unanswered questions in just one chapter.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Code Black Seven has been initiated by Giovanni,” Pierce uttered while staring straight ahead. “The lives you knew are now at an end.”

    Immediately, the mood in the car changed. Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were all cowed by Pierce’s announcement, and their attitudes became somber.

    “That means Polaris has finally made its move, then,” Jessie commented.
    Huh, now that is an interesting turn of events. I had been wondering if Team Rocket would come into play after seeing that Plasma was affiliated with Polaris, and I'm already wondering what the former's relationship to the latter is.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “All of the people whose lives have been destroyed or lost just to get to this point…” Sliding his finger across the tablet’s screen, he brought up a new photograph. This one was of a young woman wearing a frilly green dress that gave a soft complement to her ice-blue pigtails and eyes. He felt another horrible pang of sadness when he set eyes on this one. “Rich, Anabel, Eleanor, Agenta… I’ll take all the grief surrounding you onto myself. It’s my fault all of this happened, and I’ll make my quest for the truth bring you justice.”
    We're getting a lot of mysterious stuff, but I feel like it's too early in the story for us to really have the context needed to care about most of it. We don't even know if he's talking about Polaris stuff or what, so there really is nothing to keep any of this information imprinted into the reader's mind for when it becomes relevant later.

    Okay, it's definitely refreshing to have the same set of characters from that New Bark Town part show up again in the following scene. But it further reminds me of how I felt my focus jerked from one thing to the other for the previous scenes.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Bunny nodded, but she could not find any words to verbally answer. Olivia bringing up her father, Rich, and his own preference for Water-types put Bunny in an awkward positon. She did not want to lie to Olivia, but at the same time, she felt an obligation to respect Matt’s wish to not tell Olivia of Rich’s death as well.
    I...huh. I feel like this was set up strangely. Like, we get a bit of a plot thread in the previous scene with a girl apparently searching for her father, which then gets immediately resolved to the reader that he's dead? I assume it will still have some importance later on, but it still feels kind of awkward.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “She had it narrowed down to Totodile or Cyndaquil and picked Totodile,” Nekou said to Matt, informing him of the previous conversations, “but that doesn’t mean much if you didn’t want to hang out with us.”

    “Oh please, Nekou, spare me. Let’s just be here to support Olivia today, alright?”
    Hm. I'm now curious how Olivia knows all of these adults, and why they're so interested in her choice of Pokémon. Obviously they care about her in some way, but it feels like another thing that the characters in the story know that we don't.

    You have a lot of very intriguing and original plot concepts going on here. It's very interesting, but...this is a lot of disconnected stuff to happen in one chapter. I assume it will all converge toward one central plotline, and already shows foreshadowing of that, but it still feels kind of incoherent at this point. It ends up with the reader asking a million questions while reading it, trying to reassure themselves that everything will get answered eventually, but it's just too much to hold onto. This is only the first chapter! But then, I have to remind myself...this might just be because this is the third fic in a trilogy. Maybe a long-time reader could let me know it they find it to be less all over the place?

    ~Chibi~


    Ever wondered what would happen if humans had the power to overthrow the Legendaries? To either use them for their own ends, or eliminate them altogether? One thing is for certain...the balance between human and Legendary is unstable.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    8/30/12: CHAPTER 7: “Into the Fire” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 8 progress: 9/12 pages


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chibi Pika View Post
    Hello there! I had been tempted to read this for a while now, but having trouble making time for a review, so I was happy to see it in the review game.
    Good to have you finally come around! Let's see what we've got...

    Hm. When I read "letter ‘P’" my first though was naturally Team Plasma, but their logo doesn't fit that description. Hmmm.....
    Hilariously, I had actually designed Polaris's logo before Team Plasma was even known. I panicked when I found out that the Generation V evil team was going to have a 'P' as its logo, but I think there is enough of a difference between a medieval shield and a 'P' formed from the two halves of a double helix.

    I'm a bit torn on this part. On the one hand, I feel like the impassive description beaks the tense feeling of the situation a tad. But on the other, as a writer, I constantly face the problem of "where do I describe the setting if not here?" and then I end up with things woefully underdescribed. I think the part about him being in charge feels too much like...information just being given to us that breaks flow a bit. Maybe if it was altered to feel more like narration from his point of view, sort of like, "He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, but at this point his only means of control was the microphone he'd been using to address the scientists under his command." Well...like that except better. Soemthing that emphasizes the separation between him and what's going on in there; I think that would liven up the paragraph.
    I see where you're coming from, though to a degree, I'm inclined to admit that it was at least partially intentional. That scene is going to be revisited later when the context is entirely explained. For now, I kind of wanted to convey a disconnected view to the reader this first time we see it, which I think makes it more unsettling.

    Well we had already gotten that impression from his actions, so having it spelled out here feels a bit...forced. Maybe instead a brief description of the twisted or horrified expression he's currently wearing?
    Perhaps. You've got a good point there...

    You've already got me intrigued as to just what's going on in there. I've got the definite feeling of wanting to read more...
    Excellent.

    You already described Joltik, so you don't need to again. It's still fine to drop little descriptive phrases here and there for it, but not in the way as if we don't know what it is.
    That was an accident in the revision. Originally, that was the only scene where Joltik appeared, but when I revised the chapter I must have forgotten to take out the old one after adding the earlier scene. Entirely my fault.

    Well then...I'm already wanting to know...how exactly they...created Azrael? And why? Using science no less! I'm now reminding myself that all of this was 25 years ago, so the details are likely meant to be a mystery. Very curious now how Azrael will be involved in a Pokémon fic. This has the potential to be very interesting if the elements of the fic all feel like they belong together in this world. Looks like I'll have to find out~

    Also, this beginning portion sort of feels more like a prologue than the first part of chapter 1.
    I think you certainly will enjoy finding out about Azrael... your questions will be answered eventually, I promise you that much.

    Funny story about that. This chapter's had a bit of a rough history - it originally was a single prologue, but I decided to break it up into a prologue and Chapter 1 because it was too long. After that, I decided to recombine them, make it Chapter 1 and flesh things out a bit more. So, some of it feeling like a prologue is really understandable.

    I found the voice actor list amusing. Although I think you intended to center it because there's a broken forum tag there?
    ...****. I thought I fixed that from the original revision and added the second center tag. Yeah, that's what it should have been.

    Failed, huh? That's interesting, it had seemed like they'd created him successfully, but I guess we don't know anything yet.
    Creating Azrael was only the first step. The project was a lot more than that...

    The allusion to Kyurem there is a nice touch, since I’d been curious how Kyurem was important enough to be on the banner despite his forms being very recently revealed, and the fact that this is the third installment of a long-running series.
    Kyurem was always set to feature in the plot the way it's been mentioned. I was anticipating new forms of it for a long time, so when they were finally revealed, they fit right into my plans almost perfectly. The only challenge that came up is that I expected one form (a "complete Kyurem" form) instead of two, which left me still unable to work out a role for White Kyurem.

    I like the way this is set up. I immediately thought that the seven people were the seven sages of plasma, but that is clearly not the case. Rather, it is the Sacred Helix, which bears the head of Plasma among its ranks, who are working towards something even greater, though related to the legends which Plasma had sought. This is an interesting setup that clearly conveys a lot of information in a short amount of time.
    Thank you. As I've mentioned previously, there are actually ten members of this panel, and they will all be seen in Chapter 2.

    Again, the matter-of-fact statements in the narrative about things the reader has probably already figured out tend to break the flow a bit.
    I can see your point. I'm not really totally in love with that scene in the context of everything else, but I am satisfied enough with how the revision came out. I will try to take this under my hat for the future, though.

    Anyways, it's interesting to see the two orbs coming into play, with what I guess to be a Shadow Triad member, though I could be wrong.
    His identity will be (somewhat) revealed in Chapter 2. He's not a Shadow Triad. Honestly, I didn't even think of them, though maybe I'll use them later.

    Huh. That sounds like the sort of thing that someone would say to a sealed legendary or god. You're setting up a lot of intriguing unanswered questions in just one chapter.
    Exactly my goal. That specific Zoroark is exactly what you described - a sealed god, or perhaps a demon is more appropriate given the context - so you've got the right idea.

    Huh, now that is an interesting turn of events. I had been wondering if Team Rocket would come into play after seeing that Plasma was affiliated with Polaris, and I'm already wondering what the former's relationship to the latter is.
    It's intended to follow up to the Team Rocket VS. Team Plasma concept that was introduced early in the Best Wishes! series and never finished when the catastrophic Japan earthquake and nuclear crisis occurred six days before the finale's Part 1 aired last year. (If you're not familiar with the circumstances, Dogasu's Backpack has an excellent writeup of it all, located here.) As a result, a good amount of AUing is necessary to fill in the holes left by the storyline's abandonment, but that doesn't affect me too much.

    We're getting a lot of mysterious stuff, but I feel like it's too early in the story for us to really have the context needed to care about most of it. We don't even know if he's talking about Polaris stuff or what, so there really is nothing to keep any of this information imprinted into the reader's mind for when it becomes relevant later.
    You know, at first I couldn't really see what you meant, but the more I think about it, I definitely can see it now. Perhaps my biggest mistake was so desperately wanting the first chapter to end on the Juniper cliffhanger that I missed the idea of not starting the main protagonists' storyline until the next chapter?

    Okay, it's definitely refreshing to have the same set of characters from that New Bark Town part show up again in the following scene. But it further reminds me of how I felt my focus jerked from one thing to the other for the previous scenes.
    Good to know that was an improvement. It was originally even worse; the Team Rocket scene was between the two main-group scenes in the initial version, and it was horribly disjointed.

    I...huh. I feel like this was set up strangely. Like, we get a bit of a plot thread in the previous scene with a girl apparently searching for her father, which then gets immediately resolved to the reader that he's dead? I assume it will still have some importance later on, but it still feels kind of awkward.
    Perhaps I didn't convey clearly what the premise of that bit was. He has been dead for several years, but she is not aware of it - it's partially due to her genuinely not knowing the truth, but she also has denied the possibility of him being dead to herself as a coping mechanism. Because she perceives that he left because he didn't love her anymore, she thinks that if she goes on a Badge and Ribbon-collecting quest, she'll win back his favor.

    In other words, it's made clear what happened to him now because the reader is not the one who isn't supposed to know he's dead, it's Olivia.

    Hm. I'm now curious how Olivia knows all of these adults, and why they're so interested in her choice of Pokémon. Obviously they care about her in some way, but it feels like another thing that the characters in the story know that we don't.
    Hmm... you know, you're right about this one. I must have gotten too caught up with other things to try putting in things regarding this. Thank you for pointing it out, I will try to work it into Chapter 2.

    You have a lot of very intriguing and original plot concepts going on here. It's very interesting, but...this is a lot of disconnected stuff to happen in one chapter. I assume it will all converge toward one central plotline, and already shows foreshadowing of that, but it still feels kind of incoherent at this point. It ends up with the reader asking a million questions while reading it, trying to reassure themselves that everything will get answered eventually, but it's just too much to hold onto. This is only the first chapter! But then, I have to remind myself...this might just be because this is the third fic in a trilogy. Maybe a long-time reader could let me know it they find it to be less all over the place?
    Thank you for your kind and very thorough review. I want the reader to be asking a lot of questions and trying to theorize about things, but you're right, this first chapter is pretty scatterbrained about ideas that get introduced. I don't know what others will say, but I think that maybe this was just me at my less organized in terms of presenting so much at once; I still believe that this is accessible even if you don't read the other two, it's just that I could have presented the information in a much more organized way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87
    Sigh...I actually reviewed a big chunk of this, and then the text in my reply box literally disappeared. That was....amazingly disheartening, but I will try again.
    I hate when that happens.

    I work with individual whom suffer from mental health disabilities, so I'll be intrigued to see how you handle this.
    Just don't expect anything amazingly profound; I simply want to show a respectful depiction of something that happens in real life that people struggle with. I don't want to romanticize it, nor do I want to show it as shameful. I simply want to go for an honest, respectful depiction of it.

    I was about to turn SEVEN. Thanks for making me feel really old!
    Oops. XD;

    1) Brilliant way of giving his name without actually just saying it in exposition. Very nicely done.
    2) I love Joltik! Yay for using a favorite of mine.
    1) Good. That was something I decided to add in the revision, so I'm quite glad that it turned out to be an improvement.
    2) It just suits him so much, doesn't it?

    I actually had a problem here. The scientist is 21, so I find it hard to believe he is "well-trained". At 21, he should still be in his second or third year of college. Even assuming he is a prodigy and already has his doctorate, at 21, how "well-trained" could he be? And given the panicked description here, he doesn't seem to be much of a prodigy.
    Exaggeration for the sake of making the bigger point, really. That point was just how horrible what they were experiencing was, so accepting that he was just that much of a prodigy would lead you right to "wow, it must be that bad if even a guy this smart is reacting like this."

    Maybe I'm trying to overexplain everything, though. He really was just a background, one-off character for that scene, so he isn't that important.

    This reads more like script direction than as prose. Does that makes sense? It sounds more like you are describing a setting for it to be drawn or filmed than for a reader to imagine. I would have maybe gone with something like "...the obscured figure of a man, only the light reflecting from his eyeglasses fully visible in the darkness. His voice, equally as out-of-focus as his body, said..."

    Does that make sense?
    Yeah, it does. I've struggled with this before, so pointing it out will help me to be more mindful of it. Thank you.

    ...How long ago do you think 1987 was?!
    I didn't mean a giant 70s afro, I meant like... one of those smaller ones. If it's called something else I don't know what it is.

    Granted, it was meant to be out-of-fashion anyway - it was supposed to be based on Donald Sutherland's appearance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1978, which I arrived at when I decided to give Zager an appearance that could believably evolve into his usual one in the present day.

    I have no idea what I just read.
    Opening credit roll and title card. It's meant to be a little Easter Egg bonus for those who just happen to know what it means; it's not relevant to the plot at all, so you lose nothing by not taking away a meaning from it.

    We didn't still have afros in 2008, either.
    Nope, we didn't! XD;

    Project J? Well that's intriguing! I wonder if that's a red herring or exactly what it sounds like it is....
    If you're thinking what I think you are, red herring. The concept is not terribly wrong but the person you're guessing is.

    It seems odd that J would jump straight there. How does he even think that they want him to work for them? It just seems like an odd request. I'd think someone's thoughts would be "Please give me a body; I need to see my family!" or even "I'll give you anything I have!"
    It's so desperate for a body that it will do whatever they want it to in exchange. You're also leaving out the possibility of it knowing what it's doing.

    NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA CAT MAN! Great, now the Batman theme is stuck in my head.
    Now mine too. Thanks. XD

    Oh wow. That's a lot. Sacred Helix? Tenganist? Three Angels? I really feel like I just walked in on the 4th reel of a film. Lots of stuff going on, but that's not bad! I actually generally love "en medias res"-style story and scene openings. It keeps me wanting to know what the eff is going on.
    That's good, then. I want to sow the seeds of wonder in your mind and get you guessing, then reveal the answers as I go. I think it's actually working so far.

    I actually don't know how important they are to him because the story never told me. I would have rewritten this, too. Something akin to "Under less tenuous circumstances, he would have found these exhibits fascinating, but his narrow focus kept him from appreciating them in this moment".
    That's a good line. I probably won't go back and revise this chapter again, but like I've said, all feedback helps me improve for the future, so you pointing this out helps put me on more solid footing for later. Thank you!

    If I may beg to ask, can we please get some kind of character biography for this? Not too detailed or anything like that, but...I feel like I have a LOT of characters to remember already. Zager, Ghetsis, Azrael, all of Ghetsis' allies in the Helix, Jessie, James, these girls, Matt, and now a famous serial killer? Oh, and that museum thief; I actually forgot all about him for a second. WHEW. I need some way to keep all of these people straight!
    It's not complete yet, but ask and ye shall receive. As you go on to recommend, I will also add this to the top of the original post.

    -I think that's my primary concern with the first chapter...I feel like I just met enough characters to fill two whole other stories! Now granted, some of them I already know (Ghetsis, Team Rocket, Professor Juniper), and others I'd probably know if I read the first two parts of the series that you said weren't so important, but right now I feel like I am positively SWIMMING in names and identities. Besides a character map of sorts (which I'd recommend putting near the top of the original post), I think this chapter could easily have been divided into two or three separate chapters. There was a LOT going on, and I'm going to have to read and re-read it to get a good amount of this information to stick. Now, granted, I often have a problem with the opposite effect--I write short chapters because I think a chapter should be one scene alone--but I think this could have easily been broken up across a few more manageable chunks. Between the length and the amount of info and characters I already had to absorb, my attention span was waning rapidly by the very end. This was especially hindered by the fact that the three indistinguishable girls were the least interesting aspect of the chapter. By the time I got there, I needed something gripping to keep me going, and it felt like they just grinded the momentum down.

    That said, there IS a lot going on, and I absolutely ADORE stories that can successfully take several seemingly-unrelated events and guide them all together to form one cohesive story. That is the sign of gifted storytelling and imagination. I eagerly await chapter 2!
    First, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on one thing. Short, one-scene chapters aren't my style at all. I can see why you would prefer them, but they just aren't my cup of tea. That said, I do agree that my presentation in this chapter could have been more organized, and I do think that if I ever come back and revise the story significantly, I know exactly what I would do to fix this now. I just can't sincerely say that I definitely will come back and redo it, at least anytime soon. I want to aim for the future, where I am much more confident that I can clean up my little mistakes from here and present a much more interesting story with better presentation. I'm a lot more optimistic about Chapter 2, where quite a few things will happen again, but I know how to present it so it works better this time.

    I'll have to work hard to improve Nekou, Olivia and Bunny. They're supposed to be main characters with their own standout traits, so I'll have to do something if they're not fulfilling that. Good thing I know it now, at least.

    Finally, your kind words are much appreciated, and I can promise you, you're going to get a lot of what you like going forward, if that's what you enjoy.

    To everyone:

    Chapter 2 will be out as soon as possible. It's hit a couple of delays, but they're all to make sure everything comes out as well as it can.

    I've added two links to the first post. One is a link to a post detailing the backstory of events up until the first fic of this trilogy, information that will be summarized in Chapter 2 and added onto with the story of what happened in the first two fics of this trilogy, allowing this one to be read without incident. The other is the aforementioned character page that has already been linked.

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  15. #15
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    Sigh...I actually reviewed a big chunk of this, and then the text in my reply box literally disappeared. That was....amazingly disheartening, but I will try again.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    In addition, war and mental illness may be touched on,
    I work with individual whom suffer from mental health disabilities, so I'll be intrigued to see how you handle this.

    25 years ago
    October 9, 1987
    I was about to turn SEVEN. Thanks for making me feel really old!

    on the wall right next to the bookcase was a framed document assigning a doctorate to the man, whose name was Gabriel Zager. A tiny yellow spider Pokémon, Joltik, skittered hyperactively around the room.
    1) Brilliant way of giving his name without actually just saying it in exposition. Very nicely done.
    2) I love Joltik! Yay for using a favorite of mine.

    One of the other scientists, an even younger man of about twenty-one, suddenly came crashing through the doorway partitioning the lab and operating room from each other. Before Zager could ask him a single question, he had torn across the lab to the deep sink on the other side, where he loudly wretched up the contents of his stomach.

    “Are you alright?!” This was a bad sign, and the doctor knew it. He had been assured that the team he was commanding was comprised of very well-trained scientific and medical professionals, so to see one of those very same people unable to handle their own job struck him deeply.
    I actually had a problem here. The scientist is 21, so I find it hard to believe he is "well-trained". At 21, he should still be in his second or third year of college. Even assuming he is a prodigy and already has his doctorate, at 21, how "well-trained" could he be? And given the panicked description here, he doesn't seem to be much of a prodigy.

    On it, the head and shoulders of a man were displayed, but all of his features were completely obscured by shadows, leaving only the glowing circles of his glasses to distinguish him. In addition, when he spoke, a filter applied to his voice made it sound as if many people were speaking at once.
    This reads more like script direction than as prose. Does that makes sense? It sounds more like you are describing a setting for it to be drawn or filmed than for a reader to imagine. I would have maybe gone with something like "...the obscured figure of a man, only the light reflecting from his eyeglasses fully visible in the darkness. His voice, equally as out-of-focus as his body, said..."

    Does that make sense?

    “Father, sir…” Zager had to pause briefly when his Joltik, a tiny yellow spider Pokémon, popped out of his sizable brown afro
    ...How long ago do you think 1987 was?!

    Troy Baker
    Trina Nishimura
    Bridget Hoffman
    Caitlin Glass

    Dan Green
    Ted Lewis
    Marc Thompson
    Vic Mignogna
    Megan Hollingshead
    Jason Griffith

    Johnny Yong Bosch
    Jerry Jewell
    Lisa Ortiz
    Lia Sargent

    Brina Palencia
    Patrick Seitz
    J. Michael Tatum
    Matthew Mercer

    featuring Mark Hamill as Ghetsis Harmonia
    and Donald Sutherland as Dr. Dante Fantomos


    Operation GEAR:
    -The Angel of Reckoning-
    I have no idea what I just read.

    Four years ago
    May 1, 2008
    We didn't still have afros in 2008, either.

    “You know, you’re a terrible liar. I overheard everything. You’re lucky we’re on such a tight schedule, though. What you call a waste of Finansielle’s money is actually a vital project for Polaris’s plan, vital enough that it just got you off of a punishment for insubordination. What’s the status of Project J?”
    Project J? Well that's intriguing! I wonder if that's a red herring or exactly what it sounds like it is....

    “Please, give me a new body! I want one! Give me a new body and I’ll work for you, even!”
    It seems odd that J would jump straight there. How does he even think that they want him to work for them? It just seems like an odd request. I'd think someone's thoughts would be "Please give me a body; I need to see my family!" or even "I'll give you anything I have!"

    , pulling a golden mask in the shape of a feline Pokémon from his black cape and affixing it to his face.
    NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA CAT MAN! Great, now the Batman theme is stuck in my head.

    “Thank you so very much, Anthea, Concordia,” uttered one of the seven people sitting at the desks, every word of his dripping with sarcasm. This man was the only one of the seven to not be wearing some kind of mask, instead opting for a red eyepiece that covered only his right eye. His entire appearance was fittingly bizarre – his pale green hair flowed like water to his shoulders and curled on the sides and top. His clothing was even stranger, consisting of a white cassock beneath yellow-and-blue robes covered with erratic lines and eye patterns; on his shoulders rested a garment that had the appearance of the battlements of a castle. Apparently a designation of his rank, his seat was identified with the number ‘3’ on the front of his desk. “Fellow members of the Sacred Helix, as you can see, the traitorous waste known as the Tenganist people know information that will assist us in pursuing our true ideals!”

    “We didn’t need your Gypsy carnival dance show to learn that, Ghetsis.” This was the man from the science lab overseeing Project J, who now wore his mask to hide his scarred face. He was sitting at the seat numbered ‘8.’

    “Watch it, Jeunes,” reproached the number-four executive, a woman whose nearly-full head and shoulder armor left her slightly-aged-looking nose and mouth areas as the only indications of her gender. “There is no need for such pettiness between members of the Sacred Helix. You have all been chosen for a reason.”

    “Yes, Finansielle. Please forgive me.”

    “Might I also urge Jeunes to remember he’s the leader of section eight while I’m the head of section three,” Ghetsis saw fit to add, turning his sarcasm on his colleague.

    The man sitting at the seat for section number two would have none of this. “And I would urge you, Ghetsis, to remember your place. You had all three Angels within your grasp in Unova and you let them slip away. That failing set us back by years and cost a substantial amount of funds to recover from. We cannot sustain any such failure again.”

    Ghetsis could not respond. His incredible pride was damaged, and it left him unable to do anything but stare at the man who had belittled him. Staring back was that man’s own unique mask, which loaned him the appearance of a Darkrai; the left half of his face was covered by flowing white plumage, while an opaque eyepiece in a half-circle shape covered the right.
    Oh wow. That's a lot. Sacred Helix? Tenganist? Three Angels? I really feel like I just walked in on the 4th reel of a film. Lots of stuff going on, but that's not bad! I actually generally love "en medias res"-style story and scene openings. It keeps me wanting to know what the eff is going on.

    As interesting as those displays were to him, he had a mission and intended to stick to it.
    I actually don't know how important they are to him because the story never told me. I would have rewritten this, too. Something akin to "Under less tenuous circumstances, he would have found these exhibits fascinating, but his narrow focus kept him from appreciating them in this moment".

    On the wall next to him was a fuse box sealed with four screws; luckily for the thief, he had come prepared with a screwdriver.
    This is kind of nitpicky, but if he came prepared, it wasn't lucky. Luck would be his not anticipating having to unscrew things, but having something that eould get the screws out regardless. Does that make sense?

    “So we meet at last, Zoroark…” The thief could barely contain the thrill in his voice as he slowly approached the capsule. “You’ve been trapped in there for so long, but please wait just a little longer. I promise to you that I will return and free you, and at that point, your reign will begin!”
    Interesting....why Zoroark, I wonder. Can't wait to find out.

    The fiery red-headed woman who replied to Meowth’s call soon appeared, alongside her somewhat-effeminate-looking male companion. Both were dressed in plain brown clothes, and the male half of the duo had blue hair of a moderate length. The only unusual characteristic between the two of them was the extremely long ponytail worn by the woman.
    Whoa! Didn't see these guys coming!

    They were watching the same news broadcast as the security guard at the Pewter Museum.
    Once I saw what the newscast was about, I'd have known it was the same broadcast. You didn't need to state that for the reader, I'd think.

    “Shifting gears from the meteor shower,” said the voice of the newscaster on the television near the hot tub, “we now bring you an update on another story that’s been gripping the nation: the serial killer known as Kiss of Death.”
    If I may beg to ask, can we please get some kind of character biography for this? Not too detailed or anything like that, but...I feel like I have a LOT of characters to remember already. Zager, Ghetsis, Azrael, all of Ghetsis' allies in the Helix, Jessie, James, these girls, Matt, and now a famous serial killer? Oh, and that museum thief; I actually forgot all about him for a second. WHEW. I need some way to keep all of these people straight!


    -I think that's my primary concern with the first chapter...I feel like I just met enough characters to fill two whole other stories! Now granted, some of them I already know (Ghetsis, Team Rocket, Professor Juniper), and others I'd probably know if I read the first two parts of the series that you said weren't so important, but right now I feel like I am positively SWIMMING in names and identities. Besides a character map of sorts (which I'd recommend putting near the top of the original post), I think this chapter could easily have been divided into two or three separate chapters. There was a LOT going on, and I'm going to have to read and re-read it to get a good amount of this information to stick. Now, granted, I often have a problem with the opposite effect--I write short chapters because I think a chapter should be one scene alone--but I think this could have easily been broken up across a few more manageable chunks. Between the length and the amount of info and characters I already had to absorb, my attention span was waning rapidly by the very end. This was especially hindered by the fact that the three indistinguishable girls were the least interesting aspect of the chapter. By the time I got there, I needed something gripping to keep me going, and it felt like they just grinded the momentum down.

    That said, there IS a lot going on, and I absolutely ADORE stories that can successfully take several seemingly-unrelated events and guide them all together to form one cohesive story. That is the sign of gifted storytelling and imagination. I eagerly await chapter 2!
    Last edited by Sid87; 21st May 2012 at 7:01 PM.


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  16. #16
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    Apologies for the double-post, but I want to provide an update:

    I've decided to split the originally-planned Chapter 2 into Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. I'm still working out the structuring for everything I planned out; that's why there's been this rough patch of delays.

    Chapter 2 shouldn't be much longer to go.

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  17. #17
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    “Great!” Meowth shrilled. “Now, let’s go get that chunk of space rock and show those freaks that they should fear us!”

    -:-

    The doors of the café opened, allowing Marie and Oshawott to dart out, still engaged in their chase over Oshawott’s shell. Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Professor Juniper followed, all laughing at the childlike intensity of Oshawott’s quest to save his shell from the mischievous Sneasel. Matt brought up the rear, as he was finishing putting his coat back on.

    “The first place you’ll want to go is Violet City,” Juniper was explaining in her usual cheery mood. “The Gym there specializes in Flying-type Pokémon. Since you have to go through Route 29, Cherrygrove City, Route 30 and Route 31 to get there, you should be more than prepared to face the Gym Leader.”

    “I’ll be ready!” Determination flowed from Olivia, surrounding her like a cloud. One could tell from her eyes alone that the daunting task she faced did not intimidate her. Even while paying little mind to what Oshawott could be capable of, she was more than confident that her other Pokémon could do the job.

    “If we’ll be passing through Cherrygrove City, that’s good for me, too,” Matt commented, finally catching up to the others. “I’ve heard Cherrygrove City is where the Battle Arcade, the first of the seven facilities associated with the Frontier Society, is located. I don’t really have any leads on what I’m looking for myself yet, so I figure that’s as good a place to start as any.”

    “It’s sounding like we’re going to be quite busy soon. Not that I’m complaining, all this stuff sounds exci…”

    “You four! I finally found you!”

    Bunny was cut off mid-sentence by a deep male voice with a commanding, nearly bone-chilling presence. It belonged to the young man blocking their path to the outskirts of New Bark Town, a strange figure wrapped in a long, ragged black poncho who kept his appearance carefully hidden using a stitched-up black hat and a dark green scarf, leaving only his sea-green eyes visible.

    “Oh, joy,” Nekou deadpanned, “a roadblock already.”

    “Who are you?” Matt demanded in annoyance. “Tell us now or get out of the way. We’re busy.”

    “So the sycophants of the false messiah Rich Mistbloom still fail to recognize the messenger of truth,” the mysterious young man growled from under his scarf. “Unsurprising. Even those who claim to be seeking the truth are truly blind to it.”

    “You done calling my dad names yet? Keep it up and one of us is going to kick you in the ***.”

    “Olivia!”

    Ignoring both Olivia’s threat and Matt’s reaction to it, the strange figure turned his glare to Oshawott and Marie, causing Oshawott to freeze in fear. “Rich Mistbloom was the brother of Sootopolis City Gym Leader and Hoenn Champion Wallace. Olivia, I see that your obsessive dedication to preserving that man’s memory has continued as far as dictating your selection of a starter Pokémon. You asked who I was?” Thrusting out his right arm, the young man revealed a Poké Ball in his hand and the tattered sleeve of his decrepit clothing. “Because you cannot remember despite meeting me at the Indigo Plateau, I’ll remind you that my intention is to show this world the truth about the miserable Rich Mistbloom. Olivia, you call your father a hero, as do many others. Because you identify yourself as his heir, my defeat of you right here will be the first step toward my goal!”

    “I think this punk is stepping up to you, Olivia,” Nekou whispered. “He’s clearly got a few screws loose, so go ahead. **** him up.”

    “I have every intention of doing that. Hey, Oshawott!” During the young man’s rant, Oshawott had shaken off his fear and finally managed to get his shell back from Marie, so he was able to turn when Olivia called out to him. “If you want to learn how I do stuff, sit on the sidelines and watch this!”

    Though bothered that Olivia wasn’t picking him for the battle, Oshawott nodded to her and waddled to the sidelines, where he was soon joined by Matt, Nekou and Bunny. Juniper, meanwhile, stood in a position at an equal distance from each of the two trainers.

    “What shall the rules be for this match?” she asked out loud of them both.

    “A pair of one-on-one battles with no substitutions,” Olivia’s opponent instructed. “When one side’s Pokémon faints, that matchup is over and both sides must switch.”

    “Is that acceptable, Olivia?” Juniper called out.

    “It’s fine by me. Bring it on!”

    “Well then, this match will now get underway! It’s Olivia versus the… mysterious… um… cloaked trainer? Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Send out your Pokémon!”

    “I’ll be going first!” the young man roared, his cold glare giving way to fire in his eyes. “Timburr, leave port!”

    The mysterious trainer’s Poké Ball gave way in a blinding burst of light to a small, gray Pokémon holding a beam of wood under his left arm. His body, which was almost entirely pure muscle, had pink veins bulging out in several places.

    “A new one already?” Olivia wondered. Recalling the instructions she’d just received, she reached for the Pokédex.

    “Timburr, the Muscular Pokémon. Type is Fighting. It fights by swinging a piece of lumber around. It is close to evolving when it can handle the lumber without difficulty. These Pokémon appear at building sites and help out with construction. They always carry squared logs.”

    “A Fighting-type… Minccino won’t be any good against that thing…” Olivia mumbled to herself. The circumstances essentially made her mind up for her, and she threw out her other Poké Ball, calling out, “Roselia, let’s play!”

    Despite his small stature, the mysterious trainer’s Timburr was still taller than Olivia’s Roselia, but she didn’t let that scare her. The tiny flower Pokémon stood bravely before her opponent’s gaze and glared back with all the ferocity she could muster.

    Off on the side, Bunny said to Matt and Nekou, “A Fighting-type against a Grass-and-Poison-type. Olivia should be able to handle this.”

    “Yeah,” Matt concurred, before adding, “Fighting-type moves don’t work very well against Poison-types.”

    “Olivia will win this, I’d even bet a beer and some chips on it.” Nekou took a bite of her butter-drenched bread roll after proclaiming her wager, while Matt and Bunny looked on in exasperation.

    “The first matchup is Roselia VS. Timburr!” Juniper announced. “Begin!”

    “Timburr, Pound!” called the cloaked trainer.

    “Roselia, use Energy Ball!”

    While Roselia gathered up energy from the terrain around her, giving it the shape of a crackling green sphere, Timburr darted toward her with his right arm pulled back. Upon reaching his target, Timburr swung to punch Roselia; however, he instead hit her Energy Ball, which resulted in it exploding. Both Pokémon took injury from the exchange and were pushed away from each other.

    “So that’s your short-range tactic. Impressive, just like your father.”

    Confused by her adversary’s words, Olivia raised an eyebrow and said, “What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything.”

    “So you say. I won’t fall for the deceptive ways you’ve clearly inherited. I have skills of my own too, you know.”

    “Oh, just shut up already,” Olivia sighed. “Roselia, try a Sludge Bomb!”

    “Is that how it’s going to be? Timburr, Rock Throw!”

    Both Pokémon sent projectiles at each other as their respective followup attacks; Roselia generated a blast of purple slime from her flowery arms, while Timburr scraped up a small rock from the ground using his wooden beam before throwing it. Neither had particularly good aim, but Timburr’s Rock Throw actually managed to graze Roselia, her Sludge Bomb missed Timburr entirely. Her right arm went limp as she fell onto the corresponding knee.

    “Your aim is poor. If you cannot strike me from afar, then this battle is already over. Timburr, use Rock Throw again. Knock out that Roselia’s other leg!”

    “Don’t give up yet, Roselia!” Olivia cried, trying to conceal the feeling of dread that was creeping over her. “Try another Energy Ball!”

    With only her left arm immediately mobile, Roselia’s pace in creating the Energy Ball was more sluggish than usual. This left Timburr all the time he needed to pull up and toss another stone, but before her left leg got knocked out by it, she managed to send the Energy Ball flying. Roselia collapsed to the ground just as Timburr got hit in the forehead, singeing the protrusion sticking out from above his eyes.

    “Roselia!”

    Olivia’s bad feeling about the situation was shared by Matt, Nekou and Bunny, who were watching the battle unfold in silence. They all recognized that she was in trouble, and reluctantly had to acknowledge that the strange young man was more skilled than they gave him credit for.

    “Well, Timburr, it’s about time to take what is rightfully ours. Use Pound to finish this up!”

    “Roselia, get ready!”

    There was no chance for Roselia to escape from Timburr as the Fighting-type bore down on her. She knew this, so instead of trying in vain to get away, she simply braced herself against the ground.

    Timburr smiled as he drew closer and closer to his target. The blow he had prepared would surely defeat her, he believed.

    Little did he expect that getting within range for his strike would leave him wide open for Roselia’s own counterattack. A thorn glowing with purple light suddenly emerged from the rose on Roselia’s right arm, and she drove it into Timburr’s stomach. Caught completely off guard by this Poison Sting, Timburr howled in pain as he flew back through the air. His wooden beam slipped from his grasp during the recoil from the hit, landing a few feet from his trainer.

    “So you’ve still got some fight left in you,” Olivia’s opponent growled, briefly widening his eyes. “It is clear that you have inherited your father’s clever approach to battling. But I won’t fall to a usurper like you! Timburr, no more games! Use Rock Throw and hold nothing back!”

    Without his beam to dig up rocks with, Timburr simply shoved his hands into the ground instead, pulling a jagged stone from the earth manually.

    Feeling the tide of the battle turning, Olivia was able to smile slightly for the first time as she ordered, “Hit Timburr with Sludge Bomb, Roselia! You’ve got a shot!”

    Roselia’s aim was still off by a bit, but it was not as poor as earlier. She managed to get the blast of sludge to hit Timburr’s lower body, causing him to cringe as the toxins burned his skin. He did, however, manage to fling the rock he was holding back at Roselia, barely missing her due to his weakening stance.

    Timburr was becoming tired and weak, a fact conveyed by his labored breathing and trembling body. His trainer picked up on this, and resolved to do something about it.

    “If you’re to keep going, Timburr, you’re going to need more health. Drain Punch!”

    When Timburr clenched his right fist on this command, a red aura enveloped it. He threw all of his remaining strength into lunging at Roselia one last time, but he realized just as well as Roselia and Olivia did that this was probably a kamikaze attack.

    “Finish it off with Energy Ball, Roselia!”

    Drain Punch managed to connect with Roselia, but it was not very effective due its poor type matchup, and Roselia held fast against it. She brought her arms up around Timburr on each side and formed the Energy Ball with her Fighting-type opponent right at the center. The resulting explosion violently threw Roselia back, but while she got back up from skidding on the ground, the smoke cleared to show a clearly unconscious Timburr lying at the center of a ring of burned terrain.

    “Timburr is no longer able to continue!” Juniper declared, raising her arm toward Olivia and Roselia. “Roselia wins the first round!”

    “Roselia!” Though victorious, Roselia had suffered some injuries of her own, so Olivia was careful when she picked up the Pokémon in her arms. “You did really well out there, okay? Rest up now.”

    Hearing a soft chirp in response, Olivia smiled and shuttled her Pokémon over to where her friends were sitting, where she set Roselia down alongside Marie and Oshawott.

    “I’m very proud of you, Olivia,” Matt said. “You showed some great tactical thinking and on-your-feet decision making just now.”

    “Thank you. Even if it would mean more coming from my dad, I still like hearing that.”

    “Here, Olivia, you’ve earned this.” Nekou happened to have another one of the butter-drenched rolls, and as a reward for how well Olivia was doing, she gave it to her. “You’re halfway to cleaning this arrogant little jerk’s clock, so don’t lose your pace now.”

    “Don’t worry, I don’t intend to.” Turning around but still reveling in the praise given to her by her friends, Olivia strode back to her battle position while eating the roll one bite at a time. She felt like things were happening incredibly fast – the day wasn’t even over yet, and she’d already met a professor, suffered a setback in her quest before it even began and received a substitute for the starter Pokémon she wanted. Now she was in her very first battle as an official trainer and halfway to fully winning it, and it excited her beyond her original goal of impressing her father. Winning, she was quickly coming to discover, felt good.

    Just as Olivia returned to her position, the young man finally recalled his Timburr, the Pokémon’s wooden beam being pulled into the Poké Ball at the same time as its wielder.

    “It is unsurprising that you would be able to defeat the weaker of my two Pokémon, Olivia Lynn Mistbloom,” he thundered, his cutting eyes blazing with rage. “Oh, how speaking that name makes my skin crawl. Someone who should not exist has no right to consider themselves entitled to anything more than the air they are lucky enough to breathe! Now… Drowzee, leave port!”

    The sleepy-looking Pokémon that burst from the young man’s second and final Poké Ball stretched his yellow-and-black body and yawned, the excess air causing his trunk to vibrate. He then moved his gaze to Olivia in an apathetic show of interest in what he’d be facing.

    “Alright then! I wanted to use you in the last round, but Timburr was just too much for you to handle. This ought to be where you can shine. Minccino, let’s play!”

    To face Drowzee, Olivia sent out her Minccino, a Pokémon that had the appearance of a gray chinchilla with big black eyes. She cheered happily when she got out of her Poké Ball, but shrunk back slightly when she saw Drowzee lazily staring at her.

    “The final matchup is Minccino VS. Drowzee! Begin!”

    “I want to make this quick, Minccino. Hit it with Tail Slap!”

    Shaking her initial fear off, Minccino ran up to Drowzee and sprang into the air before starting to spin, striking Drowzee in the face repeatedly.

    “Drowzee, use a close range Poison Gas!”

    Just as Minccino fell back after the fourth and final hit of Tail Slap, Drowzee expelled a cloud of noxious purple gas from his trunk right into her face. She was overcome by a violent coughing fit and rolled backwards, her movements becoming strained as the poison set in.

    “Minccino got poisoned!” Bunny exclaimed in dismay. “That’s going to make this all the harder for Olivia…”

    “Come on, Olivia!” Nekou called out. “Don’t let him get away with that ****! Finish this before it’s too late!”

    “I’m working on it!” Olivia’s patience was being tried as well, through a combination of the pressure she already felt in addition to her concern for Minccino’s well being. “Do you think you can pull off a Swift, Minccino?”

    “I won’t let you! Drowzee, Psycho Cut!”

    Simultaneously, Drowzee quickly crossed and uncrossed his arms to send two blades of concentrated psychic energy at Minccino, while Minccino returned the favor with a shower of star-shaped rays from her tail. Though Drowzee’s trainer had intended for Psycho Cut to block Swift, the stars actually passed right below the energy blades in midair; as a result, both Minccino and Drowzee took harsh blows, Minccino suffering more due to the continuing effects of the poison.

    “If she doesn’t win this quickly, the poison will do her in before Drowzee’s attacks do…” Matt thought, shifting uncomfortably. Even though Olivia losing would only cause the battle to end in a tie, he felt that she needed a comfortable victory at this early point.

    “We can’t do this with just Swift, Minccino! Try Aqua Tail!”

    “Coming in close again, are you?”

    Instead of going for multiple hits, this time Minccino aimed squarely for the middle of Drowzee’s head for a single attack using her tail, which had taken on an aquatic blue aura. Drowzee, surprisingly, just stood still, allowing Minccino a clear shot. He barely even flinched when the Aqua Tail made contact.

    “Perfect range. Now, Drowzee, use Thief.”

    Drowzee jabbed his right hand forward like a spear, catching Minccino in the stomach as she drifted back after her attack. She squealed in agony from the crushing blow, which sent her crashing to the ground, nearly unable to get up.

    “M-Minccino…” A conflict was developing in Olivia’s mind; she could not decide if she wanted to win or lose anymore. Obviously, pulling out victory over this opponent would be something that felt very good, but she now questioned if the price was worth it – Minccino could barely stand, suffering greatly under the effects of Drowzee’s Poison Gas and subsequent relentless assault. She began raising her arm to stop the battle, knowing she’d be unable to live with herself if Minccino didn’t come back from this battle.

    Before she could speak, though, she was cut off by her opponent. “My victory is now assured. This is the first step on my quest to show the truth to the world! So many fools throughout this world see your father as some sort of hero for stopping Enigma Shadow, but I will make them see Rich Mistbloom’s true vile nature!”

    “That’s enough!” Seeing Olivia about to cry rendered Matt unable to take sitting by any longer, and he jumped up and confronted the angry trainer. “All you’re using your Pokémon for is to destroy the lives of everyone who believed in one person? What could Rich have possibly done to you that justifies what you’re doing right now, cruelly crushing the one thread of hope this girl has?”

    “Silence yourself, you fool!” he shot back, visibly shocking Olivia, Bunny, Juniper and even Nekou. “Take a look at yourself, you’re just as disgusting. You call yourself someone who seeks the truth, but right now you deny it! I will gain more power so I may destroy the lies consuming this world! Right now, you could not possibly understand the years of agony that Rich Mistbloom subjected me to!”

    The cloaked young man’s breakdown afforded Olivia with one precious advantage, however – it gave her time to think about how the battle had progressed so far, which led her to realize that she still had one way out.

    While Matt, Bunny and Nekou stared at Drowzee’s trainer, Olivia shouted, “Quickly, Minccino, use Swift! Aim for Drowzee’s legs!”

    Olivia’s voice gave Minccino a burst of strength, and she jumped to action, raining glowing stars down into Drowzee’s legs. Her opponent was too preoccupied at first to prepare a defense, so when he realized that Drowzee had been undercut and dropped to his hands and knees, he started to panic.

    “Drowzee, get up! Get up now! Don’t fail me now!! Use Psycho Cut!”

    “You’re finished! Consider this one from my dad… Tail Slap!”

    Drowzee was struggling to stand, and when Minccino saw this, she felt a rush of energy overcome her and darted right at her stunned Psychic-type foe. His face was like a target to her, and she took great joy in delivering each of the five consecutive strikes she landed right in the center of Drowzee’s forehead. The last hit was forceful enough to throw Drowzee up into the air and down onto his back, with his point of fainting coming halfway between the two.

    “Drowzee is unable to continue!” Nekou sprang from her seat to embrace Olivia with her good arm, and their combined cheering drowned out the rest of Juniper declaring Olivia the winner.

    Remembering that she still had a tired Pokémon out on the field, Olivia pulled away from Nekou’s embrace just as Matt and Bunny reached them. “Minccino!” she called out, noticing that her beloved Pokémon was barely able to stand any longer. “Minccino, hold on!”

    Olivia was too far away from Minccino to catch her before she fell, but luckily, Juniper was right there to do it instead. The tiny Pokémon trembled violently in the professor’s hand, and she looked up at Olivia and said, “Minccino and Roselia need to be healed.”

    “Are they going to be okay?!”

    “Don’t get so worked up, Olivia, this is nothing too serious. Professor Elm’s lab actually has a professional-grade Pokémon healing machine, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind us borrowing it. If you’d lend me Roselia and Minccino’s Poké Balls, I can restore them pretty quickly.”

    “That sounds pretty good to me,” Olivia responded, handing over the two Poké Balls. “Would you, please?”

    “Of course.” Juniper smiled warmly at Olivia before turning to her two Pokémon and pointing the Poké Balls at them. “Roselia, Minccino, come with me and I’ll fix you up.”

    A red laser shot out of the button on each Poké Ball, engulfing Olivia’s two Pokémon and pulling them back into the safe confines of the spheres. Juniper then nodded approvingly to Olivia before walking back toward the direction of Professor Elm’s nearby lab.

    “Well you’re just something else, aren’t you?” Bunny beamed, clapping a hand down on Olivia’s shoulder. “I knew you were pretty courageous, but that last move that turned the flow of the battle… that took guts to do.”

    “Yeah, it did… but after all, when you put me and Minccino together, we won’t be stopped!”

    Matt laughed, simultaneously out of amusement at Olivia’s ever-cheerful nature and relief that she hadn’t yet brought up Rich again. “That was an intense match, even for your first battle. Pulling it out under pressure deserves respect.”

    “And of course I’m proud of you!” Nekou cut in. “Tell you what, how about I buy us all some pizza when we get to Cherrygrove City?” Before giving Olivia a chance to answer, Nekou leaned in close with her eyes half closed and, in a voice just loud enough to deliberately let the others hear, said, “That means Matt is buying us all pizza when we get to Cherrygrove City.”

    Her face brightening in a mischievous way, Olivia immediately declared, “Hell yeah! Of course I’m up for that!”

    The laughs being shared by the group save for Matt did not last long, however. The cloaked trainer called his Drowzee back to his Poké Ball and stomped on the ground, causing the quartet to turn their heads toward him.

    “You are a worthy adversary, Olivia Mistbloom,” he growled, breathing noticeably more deeply than usual. “You are definitely your father’s daughter, I will concede that much. But, this is not over. I will grow stronger… I will grow stronger and use that power to show this entire world the truth behind that false messiah they believe in. You four are more than welcome to try and stop me if you wish… but you will fail, because the truth will always win out over everything else. Let me leave you with one piece of advice – remember my name this time. I am Renzo, Renzo Milos, and I will avenge what Rich Mistbloom did to us.”

    Having completed his speech, Renzo turned and briskly walked off toward the exit gate of the town; a spiked ponytail of sky-blue hair outlined in black slipped from under his scarf as he walked. Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny were all left confused by his strange behavior and sudden departure, trying to make sense of it all as they waited for Juniper to return.

    “Okay, someone tell me they’re actually going to care to remember the little ****er’s name,” Nekou groaned while slouching forward. “I stopped caring.”

    “Renzo Milos, was it?” Bunny repeated to herself. “Besides the fact that his name sounds like some sort of ancient statue, there’s nothing that would make him stand out in it. It doesn’t help tell me why he’d hate Rich so much.”

    Paying little attention to either Renzo or her three adult companions, Olivia turned to Oshawott and declared, “Did you see that? That’s how we’re going to do things. We’re going to work hard and find my dad. Now is your chance to leave if you want, because we won’t be turning back.”

    Much to Olivia’s surprise, Oshawott did not back down from the seriousness of the situation even as she presented it to him. He simply said his name and jumped up enthusiastically, showing that he was more than accepting of Olivia’s terms.

    “I see you’ve gotten a little closer to Oshawott.” Juniper had suddenly reappeared, carrying the Poké Balls containing Roselia and Minccino on a small tray. “That’s a good sign.”

    “I’m not getting any closer to it,” Olivia objected while collecting her two Poké Balls. “I’m just getting along with it better.”

    Juniper laughed. “I’m sure that you’ll learn to like each other soon enough. For now, why not just head for Cherrygrove City and see how things go?”

    “I think that’s a good idea, too,” Matt commented.

    “Then that’s what we’ll do! To Cherrygrove City!”

    With Oshawott nipping at her heels, Olivia marched off toward the town gate in a haughty manner, prompting Matt, Bunny and Nekou to follow her; Marie, the runt Sneasel, jumped onto Nekou’s back for transportation. They all waved goodbye to Professor Juniper as they left, their minds shifting from the reflective moods of a beginning to the eager anticipation of things to come.

    -:-

    In the meeting chamber of the Sacred Helix, seven of the ten seats were occupied, with the ones ranked one, five and ten empty. The assembled seven were speaking amongst themselves when the sound of a door opening pierced the air in the room, prompting them to fall silent.

    A tall, lithe man in a white suit emerged from the shadows behind the number one seat, his gray hair making him stand out even more in the darkness of the chamber. Unlike the others, he was not wearing any kind of mask whatsoever, and as he sat down in the chair, the other seven began to complain.

    “What is this? We get called here and Father doesn’t bother to show up?” Jeunes’s objection gave voice to the dismay of many of his colleagues, and they fell into line behind him. “This was supposed to be an important meeting!”

    “There is nothing to be upset about,” the white-suited man causally dismissed. “Father has appointed me as his envoy to the Sacred Helix, so we shall now get on with the business of the day. Chromosomes, as you know, for the past five years, we have not had a leader of the tenth section.”

    “Not since the averted Day of Reckoning in Oceannia that Rich Mistbloom stopped,” Ghetsis commented into his folded hands.

    “Correct. Well, today, we now present the issue of appointing a new Chromosome to lead the tenth section.” Father’s envoy waved his hand, prompting a spotlight to come on over the area surrounded by the circular table. A four-sided, pyramid-like shape was depicted in gold on the red carpeting; its two longest sides converged directly at Finansielle’s seat, and kneeling at the center of the shape was the man who had robbed the Pewter Museum. “You are on file as the creation of Polaris’s Project J, is this correct?”

    “Yes, sir,” the man replied, his face largely obscured from view by shadows. His mouth was visible, however, and it was twisted into a sadistic smile.

    The Darkrai-masked member at the number two seat spoke next. “You have been in training since the day you were given your body, and your first field mission for us was the job of stealing the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs from the Pewter Museum. It has been reported that your execution of this mission was flawless.”

    “Indeed, what you did the other day will prove to be a major help to us,” said the diminutive male seated at section nine, who was wearing an Electivire-themed mask and helmet complete with antennae. “Not to mention, your use of my section’s electrical bodysuit was superb. Do you understand that this is why we are debating giving you the position of Chromosome?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “You’ve spent years doing everything we’ve asked,” Jeunes offered as input. “Truly, you are one of our most loyal members.”

    “I believe we’ve said all that needs to be said,” Ghetsis declared. “I would like to motion for a vote on the confirmation of Project J as the tenth Chromosome.”

    “Wait, Séduire is not here,” the woman seated at section six sighed from behind her mask, an avian-themed one featuring a beak and feathers of red, white and blue. “How will we achieve a fair vote?”

    “With the tenth seat empty and Séduire absent,” the envoy reasoned, “we need one recusal to make the vote a fair seven. Jeunes, because you were the director of Project J and can be considered this individual’s father, I would like to request that you be that recusal.”

    “Hmph, fine by me. I don’t concern myself with these political matters when I can predict the outcome. It’s boring.”

    “Very well. Now, allow the vote to commence.” The man stood and announced, “As the envoy of the first Chromosome, Father, I, Archer, cast a vote of yes!”

    The Darkrai-masked leader rose next. “As the second Chromosome, I, Praeses, cast a vote of yes!”

    As Ghetsis hobbled to his feet, Project J smiled to himself again, out of the view of the council assessing him and voting on his fate.

    “As the third Chromosome, I, Ghetsis, cast a vote of yes!”

    “As the fourth Chromosome, I, Finansielle, cast a vote of yes!”

    The majority was already reached, but the vote had to finish for formality’s sake. It would just give Project J more of the attention he loved, though.

    “I am disturbed by what you are,” the woman with the Braviary mask remarked. “I don’t know if I can trust you. As the sixth Chromosome, I, Mercury, cast a vote of no!”

    A number of the Chromosomes were surprised by this, but Project J was able to relatively ignore it. He knew he never needed her approval anyway.

    At section seven was a man wearing a cape and a Dragonite mask who hadn’t spoken yet. He simply stood up and declared, “As the seventh Chromosome, I, Athleta, cast a vote of yes!”

    Passing over Jeunes, the last vote arrived at the short man with the Electivire helmet. “As the ninth Chromosome, I, Getriebe, cast a vote of yes!”

    “The final vote is six for yes, one for no,” Archer announced. “Welcome to the Sacred Helix, our new tenth Chromosome.”

    “My name…” Emerging from the shadows, Project J was already in the process of pulling on his Sigilyph-themed mask and helmet. “…shall be Geminus.”

    Leaping high into the air, the newly-named Geminus landed in the space just behind and between sections eight and nine. However, he was also unexpectedly met by a young woman that had just entered the chamber, whose shoulder-length red hair combined with her spiked mask to give her the appearance of an Entei.

    “W-who are you?!” she screeched, recoiling back in shock.

    “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Geminus…” Just after walking past the young woman on his way to his seat, Geminus said just loudly enough for her to hear, “I’ll be looking forward to working with you again.”

    “Come in, Séduire,” Archer said to the newly-arrived Chromosome. “You already missed the vote to confirm Geminus.”

    “I was busy!” she yelled as she arrived at her seat.

    “Stalking that boy you’re infatuated with on the Internet does not count as ‘busy,’ Séduire,” Ghetsis sarcastically admonished her. “It was due to your possessive tendencies over him that our men were sent into Whitegold City too early and exposed our movements before we were fully prepared.”

    “And you’re any better?” Séduire shot back. “You let all three Angels escape your grasp in Unova! I could have already been united with Matt in the future world if you hadn’t messed that up!”

    “Father wouldn’t tell us who Azrael was so we could go after her…” Praeses mumbled to himself. “He insisted he would capture her personally…”

    “Now, Chromosomes, please don’t fight,” Archer said in an attempt to soothe the conflict. “For the first time in five years, our Sacred Helix now has all ten Chromosomes. It is now time for us to move forward into our future world… consider the history of the world. Our planet took shape as a mass of molten rock millions of years ago, and from that beginning, humans and Pokémon inherited the Earth. From then on, humans and Pokémon have progressed forward in two identical but parallel lines, always moving forward but never truly crossing. Today our world is suffering, no, it is dying. For both humanity and Pokémon to survive, those lines must cross to take the sacred shape of the DNA that comprises all living things. Now, Chromosomes, go to your stations and prepare for our first major operation. We have now commenced the beginning of a glorious new chapter for humanity and Pokémon alike. Meeting adjourned.”




    END of CHAPTER 2

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    25 years ago
    October 9, 1987


    “Come on, you lot, hold yourselves together!”

    The young doctor, dressed sharply in an immaculate white lab coat, adjusted his glasses nervously as he surveyed the computers surrounding him. Many of the machines bore the same logo that was stitched onto the man’s breast pocket, a letter ‘P’ formed out of the red-and-yellow strands of a double helix.

    All around him were monitors of the situation unfolding in an operating room directly linked to his lab. He was in charge of what was happening in the other room, and had to address the scientists under his command through a microphone affixed to the desk. Large machines, many of them at least the size of a refrigerator, were clustered in one portion of the lab, while a small kitchen unit sat opposite them. There was also a lounging area that consisted simply of an old, rotting bookcase, drab sofa and decrepit television set; on the wall right next to the bookcase was a framed document assigning a doctorate to the man, whose name was Gabriel Zager. A tiny yellow spider Pokémon, Joltik, skittered hyperactively around the room.

    He knew the operation in the other room was going horribly simply from the barrage of noise coming back at him through the terminal’s speakers. The sounds of several men rushing about the room could be heard, but even louder than that were the alternating sounds of a woman screaming and then briefly gasping to try and catch her breath.

    “Just keep at it, all of you,” the doctor said in an attempt to encourage his men, while nervously eyeing the screens monitoring the woman’s heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. “We’ve come too far now. There’s no turning back.”

    One of the other scientists, an even younger man of about twenty-one, suddenly came crashing through the doorway partitioning the lab and operating room from each other. Before Zager could ask him a single question, he had torn across the lab to the deep sink on the other side, where he loudly wretched up the contents of his stomach.

    “Are you alright?!” This was a bad sign, and the doctor knew it. He had been assured that the team he was commanding was comprised of very well-trained scientific and medical professionals, so to see one of those very same people unable to handle their own job struck him deeply.

    “It’s… it’s horrible...” The scientist was clearly deeply disturbed by what he had seen. He spoke in a shaking, terrified voice, and did not even turn to face his boss. “That thing is a monster… it’s parasitized the very fibers of her being… we never should have played God and done this…”

    “Get a hold of yourself, boy! Stop speaking in riddles!”

    “It’s not a riddle, Doctor Zager, it’s the truth… what we’ve done is create something completely and purely evil…”

    Intrigued and greatly worried by the fearful comments of his team member, Dr. Zager ran his hand across his thick, brown moustache in thought. To some degree, he realized that he should have known things would end in this way.

    Unfortunately, his pensive moment was interrupted when alarms started sounding, drawing him back to the computer bank. The woman’s heart rate was becoming irregular, and her blood pressure was spiking.

    “Finish what we started!” Dr. Zager barked through the microphone to the remaining scientists. “If she dies and the subject doesn’t survive, we didn’t accomplish anything! Her death will have been in vain!”

    A very short amount of time later, the woman’s screaming suddenly stopped, but it was replaced by an even more chilling sound – the shrill, monotonous screech of the heart monitor now reading zero.

    “Wait, wait…” a voice, belonging to another of Zager’s scientists, called out. Moments later, the sound of a small child crying started to filter through the speakers, leading the scientist to declare, “The child is alive! This subject actually survived!”

    “We are all dead men walking,” commented the man who had vomited in Zager’s sink as he lifted himself from the basin. “We have done something that will destroy us all.” He barely managed to get those words out before fainting.

    “So I see that Azrael has been brought into this world at last.”

    Zager gasped and whipped around to face a large monitor mounted into the wall of his lab. On it, the head and shoulders of a man were displayed, but all of his features were completely obscured by shadows, leaving only the glowing circles of his glasses to distinguish him. In addition, when he spoke, a filter applied to his voice made it sound as if many people were speaking at once.

    “Father, sir…” Zager had to pause briefly when his Joltik, a tiny yellow spider Pokémon, popped out of his sizable brown afro, but he quickly picked back up. “Father, sir, it seems as if we lost the vessel… were such measures truly necessary to do this? What we’re aiming for... can we not obtain those ideals through more noble actions?”

    “She is the key to all of our goals, so we have to do what we must. Gabriel, it’s about time you learned the truth. The true meaning about the purpose of Polaris… and the meaning of your mission, the Azrael Project.”

    -:-
    Ah, it's nice to see a version of Zager who, unlike the one in Best Wishes, is ten times more interesting. Gabriel Zager? I like the name. Additionally, I can pretty much the symbolic behind your title.

    Azrael = Angel of Death

    I can already see he/she or IT will play a very important role in this whole story. Very interesting so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Please, give me a new body! I want one! Give me a new body and I’ll work for you, even!”
    Whoa! This came out nowhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “That gray void of nothing…” her counterpart, distinguishable by her green ponytail, completed. “That is the Day of Reckoning.”
    So, Zekrom/Reshiram and Kyurem will play a role as well.

    I gotta be honest, a lot of stuff seems to be going on so I really wouldn't blame anyone being taken aback by this number of information - it takes a while to absorb the whole thing. Not that it isn't intriguing, because it is, very much actually.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “And I would urge you, Ghetsis, to remember your place. You had all three Angels within your grasp in Unova and you let them slip away. That failing set us back by years and cost a substantial amount of funds to recover from. We cannot sustain any such failure again.”
    Hilbert? Hilda? N? Or is he referring to the dragons?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Setting the briefcase carefully on the floor, he read the sign in front of the exhibit out loud, “Adamant Orb and Lustrous Orb.”
    Oh, so they want Dialga and Palkia as well? Or simply the power behind these artifacts?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “The Legendary Pokémon said to have been sealed on Emeraude Island, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus…” He chuckled as he shook his head. “It’ll have to wait, but your time will come…”
    Even more legendary Pokémon? :O

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “See anything you like around here?” the clerk inquired, gesturing to the countless flowers around the inside of the building. He was perfectly able to talk despite his identity, in fact, being a Meowth didn’t seem to reduce his humanity at all. Once he got a better look at the customer, however, he froze. Turning to the back room, he yelled, “Hey, you two, get out here!”

    “Be quiet, Meowth, we’re coming.”

    The fiery red-headed woman who replied to Meowth’s call soon appeared, alongside her somewhat-effeminate-looking male companion. Both were dressed in plain brown clothes, and the male half of the duo had blue hair of a moderate length. The only unusual characteristic between the two of them was the extremely long ponytail worn by the woman.

    Both took a moment to analyze their visitor. Glancing over him, they did not immediately react, but when he removed his sunglasses to reveal his vivid green eyes, they realized who he was.

    “Pierce, what are you doing here?” the man asked, hushing his voice deliberately. “Things changed, don’t you know?”

    “And I’m here to tell you things have changed again,” Pierce forcefully explained, his deep voice almost shaking the room. “Jessie, James, Meowth, I have orders related to me from the boss to come here and pick you up. Do you have your Pokémon?”

    Jessie and James checked their belts; she had two Poké Balls, while James had one. After verifying this fact, they both nodded to Pierce, who replaced his glasses and turned for the door.

    “Come with me. There’s a car outside waiting for you.”

    Though they were confused, Jessie, James and Meowth followed Pierce anyway. Once they were outside and walking to Pierce’s car, though, Jessie decided to confront him.

    “Just what is this all about, Pierce? You come here, barge in and disrupt our lives… you know you have no right to do that.”

    “You left your suitcase back there, too…” added an equally-disturbed James.

    Pierce did not answer, instead, he silently led the trio to his car and beckoned them in through a door that he opened for them. Once they were seated, he got into the driver’s seat and closed his door, then raised up his hand and snapped his fingers.

    Outside, the building Jessie, James and Meowth lived in exploded in flames. All three of them gasped, and much to her frustration, Jessie’s Wobbuffet escaped from its ball to join the chorus of dismayed groans.

    “What do you think you’re doing, you punk?!” Meowth screeched.

    “Code Black Seven has been initiated by Giovanni,” Pierce uttered while staring straight ahead. “The lives you knew are now at an end.”

    Immediately, the mood in the car changed. Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were all cowed by Pierce’s announcement, and their attitudes became somber.

    “That means Polaris has finally made its move, then,” Jessie commented.

    “Is the boss alright?” James asked immediately after Jessie spoke. “We aren’t too late, are we?”

    “Giovanni is fine, but he is under house arrest and being closely monitored. I have been sent to escort you to the Executives who will be commanding your operations from this point forward.”
    Yay, Jessie, James and Meowth - done right I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in store for them! ^^

    Oh, and Pierce, haha, almost forgot him.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    A gentle breeze blew through New Bark Town, a peaceful district in the Johto Region’s southeast. Once a completely residential location that required its citizens to take the short stroll to nearby Cherrygrove City for supplies, time had passed and the touch of tourism had arrived; a few hotels, shops, restaurants and other facilities now stood anachronistically alongside the stately wooden homes and power-generating windmills.
    I rather like this description of New Bark Town.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “The Kiss of Death killer has struck again. Melvin Clemens, a management director for the Angel Corporation, was found brutally murdered in his Viridian City apartment last night. Fitting with the pattern of her previous crimes, the scene was left completely, spotlessly cleaned of all signs of her presence. Only the horribly mangled body of Mr. Clemens was left behind, and all DNA evidence was removed, leaving only the signature imprint of the shape of the killer’s lips in the victim’s blood on him.”
    Another subplot, wow! xD

    Also, so many angelic references. Gabriel, Azrael, Angel Corp. :P

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Olivia and the others were expecting to see an awkward, nerdy-looking man with glasses and brown hair, but he wasn’t there. Instead, the only person present in the lab was a woman, wearing her hair in a thick ball, who had a briefcase at her side. She seemed just as surprised to the group as they were to see her.

    “Professor… Juniper?” Nekou breathed, thoroughly confused.
    *le gasp*

    Cliffhanger! Oh boy, it's good I read the second chapter.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Oh, that’s right, there’s no way you could have known that Fennel was my old roommate from college.
    Ah, I can already imagine all the fics with their central plot revolving around Fennel and Juniper, in their college days, experimenting. :P

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Ah, that’s right,” Bunny commented to herself, “the government is working to bring foreign Pokémon in from Unova so trainers here have more diverse options.”
    Eh, shouldn't it be the other way around? Johto has many Pokémon including Kanto ones. If anything, it is Unova that needs to bring over some of the old Pokémon.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “I would have just gone right to get my first badge if I would have known!”
    I will never understand why trainers, who already have a Pokémon, are allowed to get a starter Pokémon as well. It kinda beats the whole idea of 'starter' Pokémon. It also does injustice to kids without any Pokémon at all.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “I have to pick one of these two?” Olivia complained, shutting her eyes in exasperation. “Please tell me this is a cruel joke…”
    Okay, she's starting to annoy me.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    He withdrew a rectangular smartphone and touched its screen several times, opening an application titled ‘Pokédex 3D.’
    Haha, nice little Easter egg!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “But I wanted Totodile! I didn’t come all the way out here just to settle for something I don’t want!”
    Shut up *****, you already have two Pokémon! -.-

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Evidently having picked up on Olivia’s complaint about not being able to select Totodile, a Water-type Pokémon, Oshawott focused on impressing her by detaching and wielding his shell.
    I'm getting strange vibes from this Oshawott, anime vibes. :P

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “But don’t expect me to decide quickly. My starter Pokémon was supposed to be something that could stand right alongside me, Minccino and Roselia as we won badges and Ribbons, which would force my dad to notice me again. It was never supposed to start like this.”
    Oh aren't you a little princess? -.-

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Dr. Zager’s working environment was very different than what he had before, too. His new lab was falling apart in places – wood paneling was cracking off the walls, the red curtains over the windows were riddled with tears, and some ceiling tiles were missing, creating holes through which wires of multiple colors could hang through. True to the nature of its occupant, though, the lab’s equipment was still meticulously kept, affording Zager a full array of high-tech tools.
    You have some good description going on here. ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Keeping the scientist company were two very different individuals. One was a Galvantula, the evolved form of the Joltik he’d kept as a pet since his days as a member of Polaris; the large, six-eyed yellow-and-blue spider Pokémon busily skittered about the lab, amusing herself by staying active.
    Ah, it's that little Joltik! Good to know he has a Pokémon, it's a nice expansion on canon!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    The other was a curvaceous woman in a white blouse and skirt, an outfit accented by bits of black around her neck, midsection and wrists as well as down at the end of the skirt, near her knee-high white boots. Her bright red hair stood out like a spotlight against the rather droll surroundings of the laboratory, and in her boredom, she was lounging in a chair next to a coffee table away from Zager’s work space, her feet up on a torn ottoman. Zager was absorbed in working at his computer bank, so to break the monotony of the situation she was eating a box of doughnuts one-by-one while drinking what appeared to be a glass of whiskey.

    “I hope you’re going to clean up that mess when you’re done, Ariana,” Zager snapped irritably when he spotted the doughnut crumbs falling all over the floor. His eyes briefly glanced to the black badge on the chest of her uniform, which bore the insignia of a red letter ‘R.’ He then said, “I don’t care if you’re an Executive or not. Giovanni knows I need my space to work.”

    “Don’t be such a killjoy, Zager,” Ariana flippantly countered, making sure to drop another batch of crumbs deliberately. “Look at how run-down this place is. A few crumbs aren’t going to ruin anything. Not to mention Galvantula’s picking them up anyway…” This fact was true, and Zager couldn’t ignore his Pokémon skittering about to collect the crumbs. “…and I’m sick, did you forget?”

    “That’s right, you just reminded me. Put the booze away, it’s time for your medicine.”

    Ariana sighed in disappointment but put her whiskey down anyway, because she knew that Zager was right. After collecting a medicine bottle from the table, she walked over to a nearby counter, where there was a pot of coffee being kept hot. She poured herself a share into one of Zager’s aged coffee cups – he’d collected them during his time with Polaris and was reluctant to let them go – and then dropped one of the oblong pills out of the bottle into her hand. Without skipping a beat, she swallowed the pill and then immediately followed it with a huge gulp of the coffee, despite it being completely black and quite hot.

    “Ah, medicine you have to take with coffee instead of water. A miracle of modern science.”
    I really like the way you portrayed Ariana.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Opening the door swiftly and deliberately, Pierce walked in, leading Jessie, James and Meowth in as well. Aside from the short feline Pokémon who was wearing no shoes, their steps made loud creaking sounds come from the floor; this was especially true of the heavy boots Pierce was wearing. Immediately upon seeing Zager, Jessie, James and Meowth all looked at each other in nervous surprise.
    Ah, it's them!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “At ease, Pierce,” Ariana casually replied, waving her hand. “There’s really no need to be so serious. Not here, at least.” Picking up the box of doughnuts, which she had only eaten half of, she offered, “Any of you want some of these?”
    She seems really carefree, haha, I can only imagine that our Rocket trio will immediately dig in.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Ariana gestured to Jessie, James and Meowth; the three had each taken considerable shares of the confections and now were eating them voraciously, earning a chuckle from not only the Executive but Zager as well.
    I was right! It's great to see competent Rockets with some personality!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Yes, Jessie. While we have other agents still on staff, your experience in battling Team Plasma in Unova may be of precious importance.”
    Ah, sweet memories of something we may not ever see get aired. :/

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Would you two just shut up already?” Meowth snapped angrily. “We’ve been past the motto thing for years now! There’s no reason to start it up again!”
    Bad Meowth! -.-

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Can I at least get to say that we’ll keep them from uniting all peoples within their nation?” asked a pouting James.
    Hehehe, this is what I like.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “This is the meteor Persephone-2213, which is currently on a track to make its closest pass to Earth in over a millennium. Some smaller meteorites from the cloud surrounding it have passed through the planet’s atmosphere and impacted. It is believed that Persephone-2213 and its surrounding satellites are made of Meteonite, the element we discovered in Unova. As you may remember, Meteonite is a highly conductive element with extremely unusual reactive properties, and we do not know everything about it yet.”

    “You’re going to tell us to go get one, aren’t you?” Jessie complained, shrugging her shoulders. “Don’t you remember what happened last time we messed with that thing?”

    “The boss docked us pay and lunch for nearly blowing up Castelia City,” James added, his voice reflecting a clear timid attitude.

    “And we ain’t getting involved in that again!” finished Meowth.

    “You don’t have a choice,” Zager said sternly, “procuring a Meteonite fragment may give us an upper hand against Polaris. Our rudimentary radar devices have been able to pick up faint traces of the energy signature associated with Meteonite on the west end of Route 29 near Cherrygrove City. I want you three to go with Pierce to Cherrygrove City, determine the exact location of the Meteonite shard there and attempt to capture it.”

    “We’ll be coordinating everything on our end from here,” Ariana chimed in to explain. “Any necessary supplies you’ll need can be provided here as well. After you get suited up, we’ll get you your equipment so the mission can begin.”

    Turning away from Ariana, Jessie inquired, “I assume that you’ll be the one providing us with our tools again, Dr. Zager?”

    “That’s right. I’ll make sure you have everything you need.”

    “This really is just like old times, then,” she said to James as they both turned.

    “The stakes weren’t this high last time, though.” A strange hint of sadness could be noticed in James’s voice; the meaning of their new mission had clearly already taken its toll on him.

    Jessie and James eventually walked off in the direction of another exit from the lab, with Meowth and Pierce silently following. Pierce ended up being the last one to pass through the door, so he closed it behind himself. Once they were alone again, Zager and Ariana shared an uneasy glare between themselves.

    “Do you really think they’re going to be okay dealing with all of this?” he wondered aloud.

    “I sure hope so.”
    I love how you've used the Meteonite in your story again. Though I guess it only makes sense since the events from BW anime are canon. I wonder if you'll ever make a reference to Ash, Iris or Cilan. ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “He left because I wasn’t living up to his expectations. That’s what I believe. If I can win a lot of badges and Ribbons, and win the Pokémon League and Grand Festival, he’ll have to admit I’m good and come back to love me again.”
    That's kinda sad, she really must be stupid and naive to believe that. I mean, isn't she a teenager?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “I was there the day he disappeared, yes. I guess it all started six years ago, while I was in the region of Oceannia looking for Spheres to aid in the development of the ALEA, my clean energy invention. Well…” Matt’s expression and tone both soured noticeably as he pulled down the wide brim of his blue-and-silver hat. “It was me and my supposed girlfriend Cassy, actually. We both met up with Olivia and Rich and her mother Anabel then. That was when they were fighting that terrorist group that called itself Enigma Shadow.”

    “‘Supposed’ girlfriend?” Nekou sniffed, barely hiding a condescending tone in her voice. “Why would a ladies man like you need to say that, I wonder?”

    “Nekou, shut up,” Matt sighed, readjusting his hat; the yellow feather tucked into it trembled slightly as he did so. “To make the very long story very short, she wasn’t who she said she was and we split on very bad terms. Anyway, Enigma Shadow was trying to take over the world with Pokémon whose hearts were sealed, rendering them soulless battling machines. Olivia’s parents were leading the charge to stop Enigma Shadow from realizing their plans using these Shadow Pokémon. Eventually, the person that was manipulating the organization, a woman named Judy, managed to call forth Arceus. She lost control of it, though, and in the confusion Rich saved us all before disappearing.

    But yes, I was there the last time any of us saw Rich. I think he knew something was going to happen, though, because he left instructions for me to take Olivia under my wing, which is what I’ve been doing for the past five years.”

    “I’ve learned a lot from Matt,” Olivia bragged, before sarcastically adding, “at least he’s good for that much.”

    “Well, I’ve really been learning alongside you,” Matt said, seemingly brushing off her insult. In actuality, he was glad to have her saying such things, because it meant that she wasn’t becoming emotional over discussing her father. “That was the entire point of it all.”

    “So… I understand you four have been on some pretty exciting adventures and met some Legendary Pokémon already.”

    Juniper mentioning the travels the group had already experienced was what it took to loosen up Olivia’s attitude. Her eyes lit up, and she began shouting excitedly, “We have! We met a bunch of rare Pokémon and time traveled at the Indigo Plateau, and then in Whitegold City, we saw Victini, Cresselia and Darkrai!”

    “My, my, Olivia,” laughed the professor, “there’s no need to get ahead of yourself. Tell me about what happened at the Indigo Plateau first, how about that?”

    “Matt was teaching me for the past five years at the Rustboro School in Hoenn,” Olivia explained, toning back her enthusiasm only slightly. “We went to the Indigo Plateau before coming here because my mom was hosting the Frontier Society’s opening commemoration tournament.”

    “Did you participate?”

    “No.”

    “I did, though,” Matt offered to supply some additional information. “I competed alongside Tanya, my Heatran. Unfortunately, the tournament got interrupted by Team Rocket’s attack, and I had to help the police bring Team Rocket’s boss into custody instead.”

    “I got the job of being Matt’s bodyguard at the same time, too,” Nekou sarcastically added, “and he was lucky to have me guarding it.”

    Playing no mind to the clenched expression Matt was showing in response to Nekou’s comments, Juniper turned to Bunny and asked, “So where do you fit into all of this, Bunny?”

    “I already had arrangements with Matt. We were looking for the ruins of an ancient town called Argyros that once stood near the Indigo Plateau. Little did we expect that finding them would be the easy part.”

    “So we went up to the ruins of Argyros Town, and this weird Pichu appeared,” elaborated Olivia. “I followed it and it led us to a strange light inside a temple.”

    “It was a Time Ripple,” Matt clarified, much to the surprise of Juniper, who visibly jumped at the mention of it.

    “You found one of those?!” In her excitement, Juniper slammed both of her hands down on the table and stood up. Bunny held onto the side of her oatmeal bowl to stabilize it, while Nekou and Olivia nonchalantly continued eating their bacon strips and blueberry muffin, respectively. “That’s a portal opened from another place in time!”

    “We know,” Matt chuckled, “because we went through it. On the other side was this country in the year 1850. A military official of the era was planning to overthrow the government there, and we ended up getting roped into helping stop him.”

    “And I got to be a hero!”

    “Don’t sell her short,” Bunny said of Olivia to Juniper, “she really was brave during the war that broke out. She was right out there with the soldiers trying to quell the rebellion doing her part to fight. I, for one, was very impressed.”

    “It sounds like you did a very good job,” the professor complimented as she sat back down. “Olivia, if you were able to fight like that, then you already possess a pretty impressive skill set, and that’ll come in handy for you out there on your journey. Of course, that’s not the only big thing you’ve been involved in… there’s still the events in Whitegold City. You must tell me everything that happened there!”

    “Someone’s really worked up,” Nekou deadpanned, her eyes half-closed behind her glasses.

    Growing flustered, Juniper tried to explain, saying, “The incident in Whitegold City has been all over the news, and one thing I know about it is that Victini was deeply involved. I… I want to know what happened there from the people who witnessed Victini’s power firsthand. It’s for my research!”

    “For science, huh? I guess you’re calling yourself a mad scientist, then, because only people like me get to use that one.”

    “Nekou, don’t, please,” Matt argued. He got a glare shot his way by Nekou for his trouble, but it did manage to stop her from saying anything further. Sighing, Matt returned to answering Juniper’s question. “We went to Whitegold City so I could give a speech about new energy sources at the behest of Captain Liam Everton, the president of oil conglomerate Everton International. Or maybe I should say former president, now that he’s dead, but…”

    “That little prick…” Olivia growled into the crumb-covered plate before her, paying no mind to the shocked look Matt gave her over her language.

    “Now, now, Olivia, there’s no need to use those kinds of words,” he gently suggested.

    “And what of it if she does?” Nekou rudely interjected. “Words are words. They don’t hurt anyone… unless you make them.”

    Much to Matt’s relief, he was saved from getting into a hopeless argument with Nekou when Juniper piped up, interrupting the escalating scene.

    “What’s going on? What are you talking about?”

    “Well,” Matt explained, “As it turned out, Liam Everton was in pursuit of Victini because he hoped to gain the power of the Victory Star from it. To that end, he released a Darkrai into the city, forcing Victini’s guardian, Cresselia, to come out and fight it. It fell to the four of us, along with a team we assembled, to stop him. Our allies were Liam Everton’s former first mate from his naval years, an old fortuneteller woman, a magician and his assistant, an undercover reporter and a posh girl we happened to meet named Katorena.”

    “The Victory Star is the power to see the way to victory itself,” Bunny added, noting Juniper’s expression of intense concentration. “I could tell you were about to ask that. Normally, the power is obtained through the creation of a mental contract between the recipient and Victini, and will guide the way only to the specific victory the recipient desires most at the time of the contract’s creation. Everton wanted more than that. He devised a way to make his mind completely blank when he made his contract, which rendered him able to use the Victory Star in any way he wished. He was going to use it to take control of the entire world’s oil supply and bring all nations under his rule, but first, he viciously attacked and tried to kill all of us while using its power to make his Pokémon stronger.”

    “We had to fight back.” Unlike Matt and Bunny, recalling the events of the Whitegold City crisis visibly disturbed Olivia, a fact the others hadn’t been aware of before. She had her hands rolled into fists so tightly that her fingernails were almost piercing the skin of her palms, and her whole body was shuddering subtly. “It took all of us to pull it off. We spread illusions of Victini throughout Whitegold City to waste Everton’s time, and all it did was leave us all to fight him individually. He ended up flooding the city anyway, and it took Matt’s Golurk and Sigilyph and then Victini itself to finally stop that horrible dragon…”

    “Horrible dragon?” Juniper questioned, puckering her lips.

    “That mean old man had a Hydreigon, and that was the Pokémon he used to try and kill us,” finished Olivia, her voice shaking all the while.

    “That makes sense when I consider the details.” Surprisingly, Juniper was now speaking and conducting herself in a very serious manner. “Hydreigon is a terribly brutal species of Pokémon, known for attacking just about anything in the wild. It is easy to see how that power could be used to very dangerous degree if harnessed by the wrong person. Is there anything more to your tale, Olivia? Has anything else happened since Whitegold City?”

    “We stayed over there for a little while and then came right here, so no.”
    No offense, but I find it hard to believe that so many things happened to them, haha. But this was some nice info dump regarding the aforementioned prequels.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “I don’t even really care,” Olivia growled back, showing a degree of indignation. “I’m only taking it because I pretty much have to take something.”
    So ungrateful. :/

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    However, she then remembered a trainer to whom she’d given a Snivy some years ago; at the time, he kept saying that he only wished to become stronger at any cost, but eventually, he learned to understand his Pokémon more and eventually became a respected Gym Leader in Unova.
    Ah, another Easter egg, hehe. ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Totodile would have suited me better, but I guess this is going to have to work out.”
    Is she ever going to shut up about Totodile? -.-

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Now, Olivia,” Juniper spoke up, being the first to return to attention, “about the other half of our deal. I said I would give you one of my Pokémon in exchange for you doing something for me. What I would like you to do…” Before continuing, Juniper took a pink, cell-phone shaped device out of her briefcase and showed it to the others; it had a pattern of a sideways Poké Ball on its bottom half and a screen on its top, with a second screen able to be flipped out from behind. “I would like you to take this Pokédex and help me by documenting the Unova Pokémon you see in Johto and Kanto. My assistant is out there conducting research on how our migration efforts are progressing, but I could use a second set of eyes in the field. It would help me learn more about how the Unova Pokémon are acclimating to their new environments and interacting with the Pokémon species native to this continent.”
    You could have easily separated this in two or three paragraphs, I mean, it just hurts my eyes seeing this immense wall of text.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Of course it will. Do you really think I’ll fail?”
    Bratty, snotty and annoying?

    I hope there's some character development awaiting her.

  19. #19
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    Hopefully some of the rough patches out of the gate will be smoothed over here. The story in this chapter should be much more organized.

    So, let’s get to it…

    -:-

    CHAPTER 2: A New Rival and a New Mission

    -:-

    In the main chamber of Professor Elm’s laboratory, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny found themselves face-to-face not with Elm but with a lab coat-wearing woman whose wide, pale-green eyes and curled mouth reflected a similar sense of surprise.

    “Professor… Juniper?” Nekou slowly gasped, taking a step back.

    “That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” came the cheerful reply, spoken by Juniper as she turned her head to work out a cramp in her neck. “And of course, I know who you four are. I’d be quite the fool if I didn’t recognize the heroes of Whitegold City, right? Doubly so for me, no less.”

    “Please don’t take this as any disrespect,” Matt said, nervously adjusting his glasses. He was wearing a different pair that covered his left eye with a golden, Ho-oh themed mask with a purple rose eyepiece, instead of his usual eyepatch. Finally continuing, he asked, “but what are you talking about, and why are you here, anyway? Where’s Elm?”

    “Oh, that’s right, there’s no way you could have known that Fennel was my old roommate from college. She called me right after you guys saved her. I want you to tell me all about your interactions with Victini and the events of Whitegold City, but first, about Elm…” As soon as she breached the topic of the other Professor’s whereabouts, Juniper’s expression and attitude noticeably darkened. Olivia picked up on this and fidgeted uneasily, while Bunny almost seemed as if she was holding her breath. As for Juniper herself, her voice became much more serious. “I came to New Bark Town to work on data with Professor Elm regarding the migration of Pokémon from the Unova Region into the Tohjo Continent.”

    “Ah, that’s right,” Bunny commented to herself, “the government is working to bring foreign Pokémon in from Unova so trainers here have more diverse options.”

    “When I got here,” continued Juniper, “Elm was gone. His family told me that he said he was going to visit his friend Mr. Pokémon on Route 30, but he never came back. You can obviously guess the problem this presents, because in his absence, there aren’t any starter Pokémon.”

    “What?!!” Olivia exclaimed, before Matt, Nekou and Bunny had the chance to ask questions or even ponder the meaning of Professor Elm’s disappearance. “What do you mean, there are no starter Pokémon?” she screamed, so enraged by this sudden swerve in her anticipated schedule that her eyes almost looked like they were going to pop out of her head. “I would have just gone right to get my first badge if I would have known!”

    “Now, Olivia,” Matt cautiously ventured, setting his hand on her shoulder in an attempt to pacify her, “I’m sure Professor Juniper doesn’t mean you any harm, so being rude to her isn’t nice…”

    Turning her frustrated anger on Matt, Olivia threw his hand away and yelled, “You’re not my dad, so don’t tell me what to do!”

    Nekou and Bunny shared concerned glances with each other, then with Juniper before all three turned to Matt, who returned their gazes. Matt knew all too well that he wasn’t Olivia’s dead father, nor could he ever try to be. What he had hoped to accomplish was bringing Olivia to a point where he could tell her the truth about her beloved father’s demise instead of lying and claiming he left on a trip, but that was clearly not going to happen any time soon.

    “You haven’t really wasted your time, though, Olivia.” As she said this, Juniper lifted up a briefcase that had been resting on the floor next to her. She set it down on a nearby table and flipped it open, revealing two Poké Balls amid a multitude of papers and field equipment. “I brought a few Pokémon with me from Unova when I came here. If you’ll agree to help me with my work, I can give you one.”

    The sight of the two spheres in Juniper’s briefcase brought light to Olivia’s blue eyes. Her mood changed immediately; once again, her mind was filled with thoughts of an epic adventure ending with her becoming a famous trainer, which Olivia believed would bring her father back to her. She didn’t even think to ask what Juniper wanted her to do in exchange, but even if she had considered it, she wouldn’t have cared.

    “That’s good for me, then!” she declared excitedly. “I’ll take Totodile, please!”

    “Yeah, um, about that…” Olivia couldn’t see them behind her, but Matt, Nekou and Bunny all saw Juniper’s grimace and knew what was coming next. “These two Pokémon aren’t Johto Region starter Pokémon. Allow me to show you them up close.”

    After taking the Poké Balls out of the briefcase, Juniper popped them open, causing two flashes of light to take shape in front of the extremely disappointed Olivia. One of the bursts took the shape of a red-and-black piglet with some yellow above its snout and a curly tail, while the other transformed into a blue-bodied sea otter whose head and arms were white.

    “Tepig and Oshawott,” Nekou quickly identified.

    “I have to pick one of these two?” Olivia complained, shutting her eyes in exasperation. “Please tell me this is a cruel joke…”

    “Olivia, don’t complain.” Matt reached into his closed longcoat, a mostly blue article enhanced with silver lining around its edges and a yellow feather pattern on each lapel. He withdrew a rectangular smartphone and touched its screen several times, opening an application titled ‘Pokédex 3D.’ “Tepig is a Fire-type Pokémon, while Oshawott is a Water-type Pokémon. Both of them have quite a bit of potential.”

    “But I wanted Totodile! I didn’t come all the way out here just to settle for something I don’t want!”

    “Please, Olivia, I ask that you give these two a chance,” requested Juniper. “They, along with the Grass-type Pokémon Snivy, are the starter Pokémon of the Unova Region. Tepig is a dependable partner who will ultimately evolve into the powerful Fire-and-Fighting-type Pokémon Emboar…” Tepig responded to Juniper’s praise by snorting enthusiastically, snorting out some small embers. “…while Oshawott fights with the shell on its stomach, and as it passes through evolutionary stages toward its ultimate form, Samurott, it first gains a second shell and then a pair of formidable shell swords.”

    Evidently having picked up on Olivia’s complaint about not being able to select Totodile, a Water-type Pokémon, Oshawott focused on impressing her by detaching and wielding his shell. It didn’t work, and Olivia simply kept pouting.

    “I went through a lot of time trying to figure out what Pokémon to take,” she repeated, “and I decided I wanted Totodile. I don’t know if I can get behind either of these two.”

    “Would you at least give them some consideration, Olivia?”

    Olivia crossed her arms in response to Bunny’s request. “I guess,” she answered bitterly. “But don’t expect me to decide quickly. My starter Pokémon was supposed to be something that could stand right alongside me, Minccino and Roselia as we won badges and Ribbons, which would force my dad to notice me again. It was never supposed to start like this.”

    “Let’s go get something to eat,” Matt suggested while slipping his phone back into his coat. Despite his outer air of calm, his nerves were tightly wound. “You can think on it while we eat, and everything will turn out fine.”

    “May I join you?” Juniper asked sweetly. “I really would like to hear about the things you guys have seen so far.”

    “Of course!” Bunny answered. “You’re more than welcome.”

    With nods from all the others except for Olivia, Juniper’s request was confirmed. She recalled Tepig and Oshawott to their Poké Balls, then put the balls away in the briefcase, closed it and picked it up before following Matt’s group out.

    -:-

    Time had not been kind to Doctor Gabriel Zager. In the intervening eleven years between his escape from Polaris and the present, his once-orderly brown hair had become a frizzled mess with the same ghostly white pallor his moustache had also taken on. He had long since replaced his glasses with a monocle over his left eye – the one in which his vision actually was weaker – but he dressed similarly to before, wearing a rumpled purple shirt and gray trousers underneath his unkempt white lab coat.

    Dr. Zager’s working environment was very different than what he had before, too. His new lab was falling apart in places – wood paneling was cracking off the walls, the red curtains over the windows were riddled with tears, and some ceiling tiles were missing, creating holes through which wires of multiple colors could hang through. True to the nature of its occupant, though, the lab’s equipment was still meticulously kept, affording Zager a full array of high-tech tools.

    Keeping the scientist company were two very different individuals. One was a Galvantula, the evolved form of the Joltik he’d kept as a pet since his days as a member of Polaris; the large, six-eyed yellow-and-blue spider Pokémon busily skittered about the lab, amusing herself by staying active.

    The other was a curvaceous woman in a white blouse and skirt, an outfit accented by bits of black around her neck, midsection and wrists as well as down at the end of the skirt, near her knee-high white boots. Her bright red hair stood out like a spotlight against the rather droll surroundings of the laboratory, and in her boredom, she was lounging in a chair next to a coffee table away from Zager’s work space, her feet up on a torn ottoman. Zager was absorbed in working at his computer bank, so to break the monotony of the situation she was eating a box of doughnuts one-by-one while drinking what appeared to be a glass of whiskey.

    “I hope you’re going to clean up that mess when you’re done, Ariana,” Zager snapped irritably when he spotted the doughnut crumbs falling all over the floor. His eyes briefly glanced to the black badge on the chest of her uniform, which bore the insignia of a red letter ‘R.’ He then said, “I don’t care if you’re an Executive or not. Giovanni knows I need my space to work.”

    “Don’t be such a killjoy, Zager,” Ariana flippantly countered, making sure to drop another batch of crumbs deliberately. “Look at how run-down this place is. A few crumbs aren’t going to ruin anything. Not to mention Galvantula’s picking them up anyway…” This fact was true, and Zager couldn’t ignore his Pokémon skittering about to collect the crumbs. “…and I’m sick, did you forget?”

    “That’s right, you just reminded me. Put the booze away, it’s time for your medicine.”

    Ariana sighed in disappointment but put her whiskey down anyway, because she knew that Zager was right. After collecting a medicine bottle from the table, she walked over to a nearby counter, where there was a pot of coffee being kept hot. She poured herself a share into one of Zager’s aged coffee cups – he’d collected them during his time with Polaris and was reluctant to let them go – and then dropped one of the oblong pills out of the bottle into her hand. Without skipping a beat, she swallowed the pill and then immediately followed it with a huge gulp of the coffee, despite it being completely black and quite hot.

    “Ah, medicine you have to take with coffee instead of water. A miracle of modern science.”

    “Indeed, it was a wise creation.” A sharp rapping at the door interrupted Zager, and he turned toward the portal before yelling, “Come in!”

    Opening the door swiftly and deliberately, Pierce walked in, leading Jessie, James and Meowth in as well. Aside from the short feline Pokémon who was wearing no shoes, their steps made loud creaking sounds come from the floor; this was especially true of the heavy boots Pierce was wearing. Immediately upon seeing Zager, Jessie, James and Meowth all looked at each other in nervous surprise.

    “Team Rocket Elite Agent Pierce reporting,” the mysterious agent said, bowing slightly to both Zager and Ariana. He removed his trench coat as he spoke, eventually revealing a gray uniform with the red ‘R’ insignia on it. “Executive Ariana, I have brought the agents as stipulated by emergency protocol Code Black Seven.”

    “At ease, Pierce,” Ariana casually replied, waving her hand. “There’s really no need to be so serious. Not here, at least.” Picking up the box of doughnuts, which she had only eaten half of, she offered, “Any of you want some of these?”

    “No thank you, Executive Ariana.” Pierce remained as rigid as ever, despite Ariana’s clear attempt to bring a more casual mood to the gathering. “It would be unbecoming of me to so readily accept an unearned bonus.”

    “You really shouldn’t be such a stiff, Pierce. Look, they’ve got the right idea.”

    Ariana gestured to Jessie, James and Meowth; the three had each taken considerable shares of the confections and now were eating them voraciously, earning a chuckle from not only the Executive but Zager as well.

    “This certainly is bringing back memories,” he said, while stepping away from his computer console with his arms crossed behind his back. “Welcome, Jessie, James, Meowth. It’s been quite a while since we last met.”

    “The operations in Unova, to be exact,” Jessie clarified. “So the boss kept you working while we were put on standby?”

    After Zager responded by nodding, James asked a question of his own. “What’s happened, then? The code that the boss activated was only supposed to be used for absolutely the worst emergencies. Does this have to do with his house arrest?”

    “Let me show you.” Zager walked back to his computer and entered a command into it, prompting the screen to display the double-helix-themed ‘P’ logo of Polaris. “Code Black Seven, the protocol Giovanni activated, was brought on by an attack members of Polaris staged on a speech given by Matt Chiaki last week in Whitegold City.”

    As he spoke, Zager’s computer displayed footage of this incident. Three people in white lab coats were commanding a trio of Magneton to attack Matt, while Bunny fought to shield him using her Ninetales. Eventually, Nekou knocked out two of the attackers by hitting them in the shoulders with the heels of her shoes, then stopped the third by stabbing him in the back with her knife.

    “Before that,” the doctor continued, “all of Polaris’s moves were merely their activities as a religious cult. This action shows that they are becoming a much more aggressive organization, which in turn must mean that their plans are nearing completion. Great care must be taken to prevent what they’re aiming for from coming to fruition.”

    “And you’re placing that job in our hands?”

    “Yes, Jessie. While we have other agents still on staff, your experience in battling Team Plasma in Unova may be of precious importance.”

    “Well then, I would say that Polaris should prepare for trouble,” she shouted, posing dramatically.

    “And they best get ready, because we’re bringing double,” James added.

    “We’ll protect the world from their devasta…”

    “Would you two just shut up already?” Meowth snapped angrily. “We’ve been past the motto thing for years now! There’s no reason to start it up again!”

    “Can I at least get to say that we’ll keep them from uniting all peoples within their nation?” asked a pouting James.

    “Meowth is right, the motto goes,” Zager warned, not even bothering to turn around. “We are aware that Polaris may be planning a major operation, therefore, we must try to get the upper hand on them. Have a look at this.”

    Several new windows opened on the computer’s screen. The outlying ones displayed differing energy readout charts, while the most important one at the center showed a three-dimensional image of a giant, jagged rock floating through outer space.

    “This is the meteor Persephone-2213, which is currently on a track to make its closest pass to Earth in over a millennium. Some smaller meteorites from the cloud surrounding it have passed through the planet’s atmosphere and impacted. It is believed that Persephone-2213 and its surrounding satellites are made of Meteonite, the element we discovered in Unova. As you may remember, Meteonite is a highly conductive element with extremely unusual reactive properties, and we do not know everything about it yet.”

    “You’re going to tell us to go get one, aren’t you?” Jessie complained, shrugging her shoulders. “Don’t you remember what happened last time we messed with that thing?”

    “The boss docked us pay and lunch for nearly blowing up Castelia City,” James added, his voice reflecting a clear timid attitude.

    “And we ain’t getting involved in that again!” finished Meowth.

    “You don’t have a choice,” Zager said sternly, “procuring a Meteonite fragment may give us an upper hand against Polaris. Our rudimentary radar devices have been able to pick up faint traces of the energy signature associated with Meteonite on the west end of Route 29 near Cherrygrove City. I want you three to go with Pierce to Cherrygrove City, determine the exact location of the Meteonite shard there and attempt to capture it.”

    “We’ll be coordinating everything on our end from here,” Ariana chimed in to explain. “Any necessary supplies you’ll need can be provided here as well. After you get suited up, we’ll get you your equipment so the mission can begin.”

    Turning away from Ariana, Jessie inquired, “I assume that you’ll be the one providing us with our tools again, Dr. Zager?”

    “That’s right. I’ll make sure you have everything you need.”

    “This really is just like old times, then,” she said to James as they both turned.

    “The stakes weren’t this high last time, though.” A strange hint of sadness could be noticed in James’s voice; the meaning of their new mission had clearly already taken its toll on him.

    Jessie and James eventually walked off in the direction of another exit from the lab, with Meowth and Pierce silently following. Pierce ended up being the last one to pass through the door, so he closed it behind himself. Once they were alone again, Zager and Ariana shared an uneasy glare between themselves.

    “Do you really think they’re going to be okay dealing with all of this?” he wondered aloud.

    “I sure hope so.”

    -:-

    Matt, Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Professor Juniper were sitting around a table in the elegant café they had selected for their meal. Each had a plate of food sitting on the white cloth covering the table before them, and they were talking intently as they ate.

    “So, Olivia, what are your goals for your journey?” asked Juniper, puckering her lips after taking a sip of the hot tomato soup she had ordered.

    “I want my dad to come back,” Olivia responded, prompting a nervous exchange of glances between the adults, who all knew that her father Rich was gone. “He left because I wasn’t living up to his expectations. That’s what I believe. If I can win a lot of badges and Ribbons, and win the Pokémon League and Grand Festival, he’ll have to admit I’m good and come back to love me again.”

    “And where do you think your dad is right now?”

    “I don’t know. I’m sure he’s watching me, though. He’ll come back.”

    Pensively poking at the eggs and sausage on his plate, Matt added, “Rich disappeared five years ago, as you already know, Professor. I was there.”

    “Wait, you saw what happened to him?” Bunny choked out, half-swallowing a scoop of oatmeal in her haste.

    “I was there the day he disappeared, yes. I guess it all started six years ago, while I was in the region of Oceannia looking for Spheres to aid in the development of the ALEA, my clean energy invention. Well…” Matt’s expression and tone both soured noticeably as he pulled down the wide brim of his blue-and-silver hat. “It was me and my supposed girlfriend Cassy, actually. We both met up with Olivia and Rich and her mother Anabel then. That was when they were fighting that terrorist group that called itself Enigma Shadow.”

    “‘Supposed’ girlfriend?” Nekou sniffed, barely hiding a condescending tone in her voice. “Why would a ladies man like you need to say that, I wonder?”

    “Nekou, shut up,” Matt sighed, readjusting his hat; the yellow feather tucked into it trembled slightly as he did so. “To make the very long story very short, she wasn’t who she said she was and we split on very bad terms. Anyway, Enigma Shadow was trying to take over the world with Pokémon whose hearts were sealed, rendering them soulless battling machines. Olivia’s parents were leading the charge to stop Enigma Shadow from realizing their plans using these Shadow Pokémon. Eventually, the person that was manipulating the organization, a woman named Judy, managed to call forth Arceus. She lost control of it, though, and in the confusion Rich saved us all before disappearing.

    But yes, I was there the last time any of us saw Rich. I think he knew something was going to happen, though, because he left instructions for me to take Olivia under my wing, which is what I’ve been doing for the past five years.”

    “I’ve learned a lot from Matt,” Olivia bragged, before sarcastically adding, “at least he’s good for that much.”

    “Well, I’ve really been learning alongside you,” Matt said, seemingly brushing off her insult. In actuality, he was glad to have her saying such things, because it meant that she wasn’t becoming emotional over discussing her father. “That was the entire point of it all.”

    “So… I understand you four have been on some pretty exciting adventures and met some Legendary Pokémon already.”

    Juniper mentioning the travels the group had already experienced was what it took to loosen up Olivia’s attitude. Her eyes lit up, and she began shouting excitedly, “We have! We met a bunch of rare Pokémon and time traveled at the Indigo Plateau, and then in Whitegold City, we saw Victini, Cresselia and Darkrai!”

    “My, my, Olivia,” laughed the professor, “there’s no need to get ahead of yourself. Tell me about what happened at the Indigo Plateau first, how about that?”

    “Matt was teaching me for the past five years at the Rustboro School in Hoenn,” Olivia explained, toning back her enthusiasm only slightly. “We went to the Indigo Plateau before coming here because my mom was hosting the Frontier Society’s opening commemoration tournament.”

    “Did you participate?”

    “No.”

    “I did, though,” Matt offered to supply some additional information. “I competed alongside Tanya, my Heatran. Unfortunately, the tournament got interrupted by Team Rocket’s attack, and I had to help the police bring Team Rocket’s boss into custody instead.”

    “I got the job of being Matt’s bodyguard at the same time, too,” Nekou sarcastically added, “and he was lucky to have me guarding it.”

    Playing no mind to the clenched expression Matt was showing in response to Nekou’s comments, Juniper turned to Bunny and asked, “So where do you fit into all of this, Bunny?”

    “I already had arrangements with Matt. We were looking for the ruins of an ancient town called Argyros that once stood near the Indigo Plateau. Little did we expect that finding them would be the easy part.”

    “So we went up to the ruins of Argyros Town, and this weird Pichu appeared,” elaborated Olivia. “I followed it and it led us to a strange light inside a temple.”

    “It was a Time Ripple,” Matt clarified, much to the surprise of Juniper, who visibly jumped at the mention of it.

    “You found one of those?!” In her excitement, Juniper slammed both of her hands down on the table and stood up. Bunny held onto the side of her oatmeal bowl to stabilize it, while Nekou and Olivia nonchalantly continued eating their bacon strips and blueberry muffin, respectively. “That’s a portal opened from another place in time!”

    “We know,” Matt chuckled, “because we went through it. On the other side was this country in the year 1850. A military official of the era was planning to overthrow the government there, and we ended up getting roped into helping stop him.”

    “And I got to be a hero!”

    “Don’t sell her short,” Bunny said of Olivia to Juniper, “she really was brave during the war that broke out. She was right out there with the soldiers trying to quell the rebellion doing her part to fight. I, for one, was very impressed.”

    “It sounds like you did a very good job,” the professor complimented as she sat back down. “Olivia, if you were able to fight like that, then you already possess a pretty impressive skill set, and that’ll come in handy for you out there on your journey. Of course, that’s not the only big thing you’ve been involved in… there’s still the events in Whitegold City. You must tell me everything that happened there!”

    “Someone’s really worked up,” Nekou deadpanned, her eyes half-closed behind her glasses.

    Growing flustered, Juniper tried to explain, saying, “The incident in Whitegold City has been all over the news, and one thing I know about it is that Victini was deeply involved. I… I want to know what happened there from the people who witnessed Victini’s power firsthand. It’s for my research!”

    “For science, huh? I guess you’re calling yourself a mad scientist, then, because only people like me get to use that one.”

    “Nekou, don’t, please,” Matt argued. He got a glare shot his way by Nekou for his trouble, but it did manage to stop her from saying anything further. Sighing, Matt returned to answering Juniper’s question. “We went to Whitegold City so I could give a speech about new energy sources at the behest of Captain Liam Everton, the president of oil conglomerate Everton International. Or maybe I should say former president, now that he’s dead, but…”

    “That little prick…” Olivia growled into the crumb-covered plate before her, paying no mind to the shocked look Matt gave her over her language.

    “Now, now, Olivia, there’s no need to use those kinds of words,” he gently suggested.

    “And what of it if she does?” Nekou rudely interjected. “Words are words. They don’t hurt anyone… unless you make them.”

    Much to Matt’s relief, he was saved from getting into a hopeless argument with Nekou when Juniper piped up, interrupting the escalating scene.

    “What’s going on? What are you talking about?”

    “Well,” Matt explained, “As it turned out, Liam Everton was in pursuit of Victini because he hoped to gain the power of the Victory Star from it. To that end, he released a Darkrai into the city, forcing Victini’s guardian, Cresselia, to come out and fight it. It fell to the four of us, along with a team we assembled, to stop him. Our allies were Liam Everton’s former first mate from his naval years, an old fortuneteller woman, a magician and his assistant, an undercover reporter and a posh girl we happened to meet named Katorena.”

    “The Victory Star is the power to see the way to victory itself,” Bunny added, noting Juniper’s expression of intense concentration. “I could tell you were about to ask that. Normally, the power is obtained through the creation of a mental contract between the recipient and Victini, and will guide the way only to the specific victory the recipient desires most at the time of the contract’s creation. Everton wanted more than that. He devised a way to make his mind completely blank when he made his contract, which rendered him able to use the Victory Star in any way he wished. He was going to use it to take control of the entire world’s oil supply and bring all nations under his rule, but first, he viciously attacked and tried to kill all of us while using its power to make his Pokémon stronger.”

    “We had to fight back.” Unlike Matt and Bunny, recalling the events of the Whitegold City crisis visibly disturbed Olivia, a fact the others hadn’t been aware of before. She had her hands rolled into fists so tightly that her fingernails were almost piercing the skin of her palms, and her whole body was shuddering subtly. “It took all of us to pull it off. We spread illusions of Victini throughout Whitegold City to waste Everton’s time, and all it did was leave us all to fight him individually. He ended up flooding the city anyway, and it took Matt’s Golurk and Sigilyph and then Victini itself to finally stop that horrible dragon…”

    “Horrible dragon?” Juniper questioned, puckering her lips.

    “That mean old man had a Hydreigon, and that was the Pokémon he used to try and kill us,” finished Olivia, her voice shaking all the while.

    “That makes sense when I consider the details.” Surprisingly, Juniper was now speaking and conducting herself in a very serious manner. “Hydreigon is a terribly brutal species of Pokémon, known for attacking just about anything in the wild. It is easy to see how that power could be used to very dangerous degree if harnessed by the wrong person. Is there anything more to your tale, Olivia? Has anything else happened since Whitegold City?”

    “We stayed over there for a little while and then came right here, so no.”

    “In that case, then, Olivia…” Before asking the fateful question, Juniper wiped the last drop of her soup from her lip and pushed her empty bowl away. “…have you finally decided which starter Pokémon you’d like yet?”

    All eyes moved to Olivia as Matt, Nekou and Bunny all anticipated what she’d say. In their minds, they had opinions of their own – Bunny actually suspected that Olivia might break the mold and take the Fire-type Tepig, while Matt and Nekou thought that she’d take Oshawott instead. Both sides used the same logic to arrive at their conclusions; that logic being the idea of each starter Pokémon attracting Rich’s attention in some way.

    Finally, Olivia swallowed the last bite of her muffin and sharply stood up. “It’ll be Oshawott. No matter what’s happened, I can’t betray my dad’s expectations by going with a Fire-type. That said, I still wanted Totodile, so this is just another Pokémon to me.”

    “Shouldn’t you be a little more enthusiastic, Olivia?” Matt asked. “Oshawott’s going to be with you for your whole journey, so…”

    “I don’t even really care,” Olivia growled back, showing a degree of indignation. “I’m only taking it because I pretty much have to take something.”

    Olivia’s attitude clearly disturbed Juniper, who stared at her with a stunned look of confusion in her eyes. In her home region she’d been distributing starter Pokémon for a long time, but she was unable to recall any other time that a new trainer had so much indifference toward the entire process. However, she then remembered a trainer to whom she’d given a Snivy some years ago; at the time, he kept saying that he only wished to become stronger at any cost, but eventually, he learned to understand his Pokémon more and eventually became a respected Gym Leader in Unova.

    With that memory in mind and the reasoning that Olivia could change too, Juniper lifted up her briefcase onto the table and flipped it open. The first thing she removed was the Poké Ball containing Oshawott, which she set on the table and pushed toward Olivia.

    “If Oshawott is your choice, here you go. I hope you’ll get along well. Why not let him out?”

    Sighing, Olivia picked up the Poké Ball and opened it. “Fine.”

    From the flash of light that emerged from the ball, Oshawott took shape. He looked inquisitively at Olivia, Matt and Nekou before finally looking back to Olivia and realizing that he must have been the one she selected. Excited to have received this honor, Oshawott cheerfully plucked his shell off his chest and tossed it into the air before catching and replacing it.

    “He’s pretty cute!” Bunny exclaimed with a laugh. “Olivia, I think he actually really suits you.”

    “Totodile would have suited me better, but I guess this is going to have to work out.”

    Noticing that Oshawott was upset by Olivia’s comments, Nekou decided to try and lighten the mood at the table. Taking out a Poké Ball of her own, she said, “Olivia, you really should give Oshawott a chance. He might surprise you. Perhaps it will help if Marie does something?”

    Nekou opened her Poké Ball, releasing a Sneasel. Marie yawned and stretched out her black body before looking down and taking notice of Oshawott; she made a face to playfully intimidate the young Water-type before snatching his shell with her sharp white claws and running off. Infuriated, Oshawott jumped off the table after Marie and chased her, causing all the people seated there – even Olivia – to laugh.

    “Now, Olivia,” Juniper spoke up, being the first to return to attention, “about the other half of our deal. I said I would give you one of my Pokémon in exchange for you doing something for me. What I would like you to do…” Before continuing, Juniper took a pink, cell-phone shaped device out of her briefcase and showed it to the others; it had a pattern of a sideways Poké Ball on its bottom half and a screen on its top, with a second screen able to be flipped out from behind. “I would like you to take this Pokédex and help me by documenting the Unova Pokémon you see in Johto and Kanto. My assistant is out there conducting research on how our migration efforts are progressing, but I could use a second set of eyes in the field. It would help me learn more about how the Unova Pokémon are acclimating to their new environments and interacting with the Pokémon species native to this continent.”

    “I don’t see any reason why I can’t do that,” Olivia replied, accepting the Pokédex into her possession. “It’ll be a good adventure, and one more thing I can try to do well.”

    “I know you’ll pull it off, Olivia,” Matt complimented, albeit rather feebly. “All the learning you’ve done should pay off now.”

    “Of course it will. Do you really think I’ll fail?”

    -:-

    With Jessie, James and Meowth riding as passengers, Pierce was driving his car through an underground tunnel. All of them were now disguised in identical black trench coats, fedoras and sunglasses; even Meowth, despite his smaller, feline body, had one suited for him.

    In the dashboard of the car was a small video screen, through which Dr. Zager was communicating with the four.

    “Proceed to the checkpoint inside Dark Cave,” the elderly scientist instructed his agents. “From there, go south on foot until you are just outside Cherrygrove City, and attempt to confirm the location of the Meteonite shard.”

    “Understood, Dr. Zager,” Pierce stiffly responded, not removing his eyes from the rough road ahead.

    Suddenly bursting into the picture by pushing Zager aside, Ariana loudly directed, “Jessie, James, Meowth, I don’t want you guys taking any crazy risks on this operation. We can’t afford a major confrontation with Polaris yet. For that reason, I’ve prepared a contingency plan in case something happens to prevent you from collecting the Meteonite shard itself.”

    “A contingency plan?” Jessie repeated questioningly.

    “You two didn’t brief us on the details of such a thing,” James quietly complained, poking his fingers together.

    “You need not worry about briefing,” Zager informed them, making his way back into view as best he could. “I took the liberty of adding all necessary mission plans to your new R-Pad, which is chief among your equipment.”

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Hopefully, this chapter will be a bit more streamlined and easy to digest. There’s not as much going on in this one, so let’s see how it goes.

    -:-

    CHAPTER 3: Opening Moves on Fate’s Board
    Hello! This is probably weird of me to review Chapter 3 when you're already at Chapter 17 last time I checked but it's the farthest I've gotten and I'm here from the review game.

    “Jessie, I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” James whimpered. “We’re not cut out for this. Team Aqua, Team Magma, Team Galactic, Hunter J… Polaris is bigger and stronger than they all were.”
    So does this mean all of these anime-canon villains are also canon to your story? I don't remember reading much about them in your backstory unless I totally forgot that they were there, so I was just wondering how important they are to this story. Now, regarding Polaris, I've googled them but all that comes up is the North Star. However, this name also comes up in Jax's fic, so I'm curious as to how Polaris fits into the PokeVerse.

    “Don’t break my concentration!” both Olivia and Nekou snapped at exactly the same time, prompting all four to laugh.
    I found this line kind of unusual. Based on the first two chapters, the gag seems to be that Matt says something and either Nekou or Oliva (or both in this case) snap at him and he gets annoyed. Maybe you could have said "prompting Bunny to giggle and Matt to roll his eyes." Otherwise, the dialogue exchange is pretty good between these characters. And the battle scene between Zorua and Oshowatt was superbly written. I found it very exciting, especially for a couple of baby Pokemon in a friendly battle, which makes me excited for future battles involving Rocket and/or Polaris.

    The dark clouds that covered the sky over Route 29 into Cherrygrove City and New Bark Town cast ominous shadows over the cliff-laden road, and rumbles of thunder could be heard approaching.

    The humble yet busy streets of New Bark Town gradually disappeared behind Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Bunny as they headed west into Route 29, giving way to a curving, cliff-laden road framed by long blades of fragrant grass. Off in the distance on all sides, tall trees provided boundary lines appropriate to the concept of a road through the woods.

    Nekou, Olivia and Bunny all nodded in agreement with Matt’s suggestion, so with Oshawott and Zorua walking alongside them, they resumed their westward trek down the cliff-laden road.
    Be careful with repetition. While it doesn't faze me all that much, it could get on reader's nerves to see the same description (e.g. cliff-laden) for the same subject (e.g. the road) over and over. Other alternatives you could use are, simply, "the path" "the upcoming trek" etc.

    Jessie, James and Meowth had moved south...

    ...

    ...“An opening might appear so we can swoop in and grab it.”
    Not much to say about this short scene probably the shortest out of the first 3 chapters. I'm a little worried at this point about the roles of Jesse, James, and Meowth in this story since they appear to be replicas of their anime counterparts. Personally, I prefer deeper explorations into the characters than the anime offers, or alterations in their personalities. Hopefully I get to see that as I continue to read on.

    “Something’s not right, I can sense it,” she replied, continuing to crinkle her nose in an attempt to identify the scent. “We’re being watched.”
    Be careful with that comma splice there. A period would actually be the correct symbol to use. Or, if you wanna go the dramatic route, "Something's not right... I can sense it."

    Before anyone could answer, a second Pokémon identical to the first jumped from a nearby tree and attempted to cut Nekou with his knife arms, but she dispelled the assault by swinging her switchblade to knock him away.
    I love how badass Nekou is. She's definitely my favorite character at this point, which is interesting since I expected it to be Bunny. Hopefully she gets developed more later on.

    Marie jumped down from Nekou’s back to stand alongside Zorua, and joining the two of them was Bunny’s Ninetales, Balin, who appeared in a flash of light from his Poké Ball. Almost immediately upon materializing, he growled at the pack of Pawniard and their Bisharp leader, correctly picking up on the threat they posed.
    I somewhat remember Marie being mentioned in previous chapters. But with the length of each chapter, and the amount of posts between them, I don't think it's fair to expect readers to search through your older chapters to figure out what Pokemon she is. Nor is it reasonable to expect all readers to recall Marie's identity of the top of his/her head when you're utilizing a ton of characters and Pokemon in this fic. So I would suggest mentioning the identities of nicknamed Pokemon every chapter to be on the safe side; it's not hard, either. By the way, this action scene is totally exciting! I had to share that with ya

    With the shivering, injured Lillipup still in her arms, Olivia attempted to flee in Matt’s direction. Tears were running down her face, which was contorted into a look of nightmarish torment.

    “This wasn’t supposed to happen… make it stop…” she was mumbling hysterically to herself. “Make it stop, make it stop!!”
    I thought this was a great portrayal of Olivia's character. It fits her very well to be this frightened and reliant on the man whose head she keeps biting off when she pretends like she can handle anything. It's also the first time I empathize with her since she was annoying in Chapter 2.

    Matt, Nekou and Bunny all froze. For the latter, her thoughts were primarily on Olivia’s safety. Bunny had faith that Olivia would come out of this incident relatively fine; it was obvious that things were bad, but she hoped that it wouldn’t come out as a full-fledged disaster.

    Nekou handled it significantly more poorly. Even though she had only known Olivia for a little over a week, Nekou was already developing both sisterly and maternal instincts toward the girl, and an aggressive creature causing Olivia direct harm deeply violated those bonds. She flew into a screaming rage, viciously rushing Bisharp with her switchblade; however, she was unable to inflict much damage due to Bisharp fighting back.

    “You ****er!” she cursed the Dark-and-Steel-type Pokémon during her assault. “You’re ****ing answering to me for hurting her!”

    Matt’s paralysis was entirely mental, caused by the deluge of crushing thoughts that hit him instantaneously upon Olivia falling.
    Again, great characterization here, this time for the these three. I'm already getting emotionally attached to these characters. Now you just gotta develop everyone else and you're golden! Overall, this was a very stunning and well-written scene.

    Mere seconds later, the sound of footsteps indicated the presence of someone else in the area. A golden-bodied, reptilian Pokémon with blade-like tusks protruding from her mouth stomped into the vicinity, followed by her trainer, an ELDERLY man wearing round spectacles and a heavy brown coat.
    I'm reviewing as I go along, so I'm guessing this is an Axew. Even if it isn't, now is as good a time as any to ask you something that's been lingering in mind: what's with the Unova invasion? I know you mentioned that the Gen 5 Pokemon have found their way onto Johto, but I originally thought that was just a fair excuse to incorporate them into your story---not to exclusively feature them. This is probably coming off as complacent and maybe part of it is since Unova is probably my least favorite region but I just think it's more believable to feature some of the original 251, since those are the Pokemon who have made Johto their home since the region's inception. And yes, Bunny has a Ninetales, but she could have gotten that anywhere. So far in Route 29, we come across a Lillipup, Pawniard, and a Bisharp, and the majority of trainers' Pokemon are Gen 5. So yeah...just wanted to rant get your thoughts on this.

    After that, the conversation between the three died out, and they went back to calling out in differing directions in the hope that Olivia would hear them while they walked. All they managed to garner for their efforts was an assortment of Pokémon, though, things like Pidgey, Sentret, Rattata and even the odd Shinx and Exeggcute.
    Perhaps I ranted too soon...perhaps...

    Once the door finally opened, the occupant of the house came into view. It was the same elderly gentleman who had picked up Olivia earlier, though he had dispensed with his heavy brown coat. He had a very plain appearance, being simply dressed in a sky-blue dress shirt and black trousers; his main distinguishing characteristics were his glasses, his thick white beard that filled out his otherwise thin face
    Ah, well he seems nice.

    and his double helix-printed necktie.
    http://metsmerizedonline.com/wp-cont...doo.png?c4e8ae

    Back in the bushes, Jessie, James and Meowth all shared a sigh of relief that they hadn’t been caught. Wobbuffet, meanwhile, simply stood still and stared ahead while holding onto the satellite. All four of them were hiding under a tarp they had put up from their supplies to shield themselves from the rain.
    Can't wait to see their reactions when they found out they're planning to raid a world-renowned scientist/Polaris affiliate. Don't let me down, Butler.

    “Eleanor Laplace was a young woman I met in La Ciudad Dorada after being invited there by the villainous Count Fernando the Eighth. She was only on a vacation… so she was entirely innocent and never should have gotten caught up in what happened there. Needless to say, she ended up working with me, and during the final battle against Fernando she perished for my own cowardice.” Opening his eye, Matt glared at Dante, who had a rather dramatic backdrop for himself with the rain battering the window behind his chair. “Sure, we found the Golden City. But I was never the same person after I left La Ciudad Dorada. That was where my life started to change.”
    I realize this passage was to help new readers catch up to the world you've been creating throughout your multiple fics, but it also gets major bonus points for adding emotional depth to Matt. Kudos!

    “I’d like to take you apart,” Nekou wryly commented at the exact moment Matt finished speaking. “Your insides sound fascinating.”
    PfftHAHAHA Nekou for MVP! I'm really loving her character. So please, please work on Bunny. Seriously, Nekou is fantastic.

    “Yes. I was asked by the Angel Corporation to study this Meteonite and try to determine some of its properties, because we have reason to believe that its resonance has some kind of effect on Pokémon. Olivia told me about the pack of wild Pawniard and the Bisharp that attacked you earlier today, and I think that my research on the Meteonite may have triggered their violent rampage, so please accept my apology for that.”
    Okay, I think you've mentioned Angel Corp. before, but is there anything we should know about them at this point besides "oh hey this Dante guy is collaborating with them"? Still, I must admit that I'm almost done with this chapter and I haven't really been left confused like in the past, so it's definitely an improvement. Also, great job connecting that "random" attack to the Meteonite, which is connecting this former-Polaris scientist to Team Rocket and the 4 protagonists.

    “Don’t forget me, I’m a woman of science,” Nekou piped up, before slyly adding, “Just because my science is a lot madder doesn’t disqualify me.”
    Uh-oh! Another comma splice. Still, 2 in one very long chapter isn't so bad. They're a huge peeve of mine, so I can't help but point them out.

    “Pierce, it’s currently in the possession of an old man who is keeping Matt Chiaki’s little group at his home tonight,” Jessie explained. “He’s also got this powerful-looking Haxorus that we can’t possibly defeat. Attacking him now would be foolish.”
    Oh, it was a Haxorus. So I was only a little off... Like I said, Unova ain't my fave.

    As she listened to Matt’s almost indifferent explanation of his interest in the book, Nekou’s inebriated cheer vanished and was replaced with a cold disgust that grew with each word he spoke. Once he was done, she immediately responded, “You’re looking at that story completely wrong if it’s the captain who you identify with. I thought you were going to say that you identified with Ishmael, who quite frankly suits you more, but the captain? Did you even read to the end? I don’t care if this is a spoiler to you or not, but the captain’s obsession with his revenge gets all but one person on his ship killed! If you see yourself in him, what does that say about how you see us?”
    This is a very touching scene. I was kinda hoping things would get a bit more snuggly between Matt and Nekou, unless you're not taking the shipping route between them. Anyway, if you're gonna reference classic literature that not everyone has read, be sure to be detailed. You talk a whole lot about Captain Ahab but you barely explain Ishmael, the person whom Nekou uses as a comparison for Matt. In the end, I don't even understand her reference since you didn't explain Ishmael's relevance to Moby Dick.

    “Well, go get dressed. We’re going to Cherrygrove City and Dr. Fantomos is coming with us.”
    You know, there were multiple points in this chapter where I thought, "This would've been a great place to end this chapter." I know you like writing long chapters...but, you know, I don't see the point of them being that long which probably discourages participants of the review game thread to review them. So I find it kind of amusing that you chose to end it very...anticlimactically. I thought the second to last scene between Matt and Nekou would've been a great place to end. Call me crazy, but I sensed a variety of tension in that scene, including sexual. It's a shame because you did a good job keeping me interested so far with the endings of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

    Luckily, this chapter blew my expectations out of the water, so I'll definitely tune in for Chapter 4 (and maybe the other 13). Sorry to any reviewers who might be annoyed with me reviewing a really old chapter. Looking forward to what lies ahead! ~flamebeam
    Last edited by flamebeam; 2nd August 2014 at 4:45 AM.

    A New World Order: Birth of a Prophecy

    Credit to Brutaka

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamebeam View Post
    Hello! This is probably weird of me to review Chapter 3 when you're already at Chapter 17 last time I checked but it's the farthest I've gotten and I'm here from the review game.
    Review what you need to, don't worry.


    So does this mean all of these anime-canon villains are also canon to your story? I don't remember reading much about them in your backstory unless I totally forgot that they were there, so I was just wondering how important they are to this story. Now, regarding Polaris, I've googled them but all that comes up is the North Star. However, this name also comes up in Jax's fic, so I'm curious as to how Polaris fits into the PokeVerse.
    Basically it's just a nod to what went on in the anime in the past.

    My Polaris and Jax's are different, the naming was just a coincidence. Their purpose will become clear with time.


    I found this line kind of unusual. Based on the first two chapters, the gag seems to be that Matt says something and either Nekou or Oliva (or both in this case) snap at him and he gets annoyed. Maybe you could have said "prompting Bunny to giggle and Matt to roll his eyes." Otherwise, the dialogue exchange is pretty good between these characters. And the battle scene between Zorua and Oshowatt was superbly written. I found it very exciting, especially for a couple of baby Pokemon in a friendly battle, which makes me excited for future battles involving Rocket and/or Polaris.
    I think I explained this to you before writing this reply, but he's laughing because of the humor in them both saying it at the same time.

    I'd like to think the battles are all uphill from here.

    Be careful with repetition. While it doesn't faze me all that much, it could get on reader's nerves to see the same description (e.g. cliff-laden) for the same subject (e.g. the road) over and over. Other alternatives you could use are, simply, "the path" "the upcoming trek" etc.
    You're right, that line simply slipped my mind as I was writing. I never even caught it.

    Not much to say about this short scene probably the shortest out of the first 3 chapters. I'm a little worried at this point about the roles of Jesse, James, and Meowth in this story since they appear to be replicas of their anime counterparts. Personally, I prefer deeper explorations into the characters than the anime offers, or alterations in their personalities. Hopefully I get to see that as I continue to read on.
    If they're like anything, they're like the way they were in the BW season of the anime. Their purpose is different than what 90% of the show uses them for.

    Be careful with that comma splice there. A period would actually be the correct symbol to use. Or, if you wanna go the dramatic route, "Something's not right... I can sense it."
    True.

    I love how badass Nekou is. She's definitely my favorite character at this point, which is interesting since I expected it to be Bunny. Hopefully she gets developed more later on.
    Bunny, you mean? They're all going to get development, but Bunny is a little slower in that regard compared to the others.


    I somewhat remember Marie being mentioned in previous chapters. But with the length of each chapter, and the amount of posts between them, I don't think it's fair to expect readers to search through your older chapters to figure out what Pokemon she is. Nor is it reasonable to expect all readers to recall Marie's identity of the top of his/her head when you're utilizing a ton of characters and Pokemon in this fic. So I would suggest mentioning the identities of nicknamed Pokemon every chapter to be on the safe side; it's not hard, either. By the way, this action scene is totally exciting! I had to share that with ya
    I already do mention the species instead of nickname alone sometimes, but I can do it more.

    And it was a pretty fun scene to write. ^^

    I thought this was a great portrayal of Olivia's character. It fits her very well to be this frightened and reliant on the man whose head she keeps biting off when she pretends like she can handle anything. It's also the first time I empathize with her since she was annoying in Chapter 2.
    Good to hear. That's really what I wanted to do with her, to have her be someone who challenges the reader initially when it comes to liking them instead of being someone who's designated 'sympathetic good guy' instantly.

    Again, great characterization here, this time for the these three. I'm already getting emotionally attached to these characters. Now you just gotta develop everyone else and you're golden! Overall, this was a very stunning and well-written scene.
    Wow, stunning wasn't the word I was expecting. I'm flattered, thank you!

    I'm reviewing as I go along, so I'm guessing this is an Axew. Even if it isn't, now is as good a time as any to ask you something that's been lingering in mind: what's with the Unova invasion? I know you mentioned that the Gen 5 Pokemon have found their way onto Johto, but I originally thought that was just a fair excuse to incorporate them into your story---not to exclusively feature them. This is probably coming off as complacent and maybe part of it is since Unova is probably my least favorite region but I just think it's more believable to feature some of the original 251, since those are the Pokemon who have made Johto their home since the region's inception. And yes, Bunny has a Ninetales, but she could have gotten that anywhere. So far in Route 29, we come across a Lillipup, Pawniard, and a Bisharp, and the majority of trainers' Pokemon are Gen 5. So yeah...just wanted to rant get your thoughts on this.
    It's just a byproduct of having to firmly establish the migration point and having to juggle so many different Pokemon at once. At least that's the case for the wild ones, the trainer ones almost entirely were obtained in their other regions.

    Perhaps I ranted too soon...perhaps...
    I hope so.

    Without dropping any hints for how each character develops (because they do) this is the kind of thing that's going to happen again. Get used to it. :P

    Can't wait to see their reactions when they found out they're planning to raid a world-renowned scientist/Polaris affiliate. Don't let me down, Butler.
    Give it time, it'll come.

    I realize this passage was to help new readers catch up to the world you've been creating throughout your multiple fics, but it also gets major bonus points for adding emotional depth to Matt. Kudos!
    Thank you. I think you'll be seeing more of that kind of thing.

    PfftHAHAHA Nekou for MVP! I'm really loving her character. So please, please work on Bunny. Seriously, Nekou is fantastic.
    I hope you don't mind me asking for patience. I admit, I didn't have Bunny's role fully planned before I began, so it will take a bit of time before I get to developing her as much as the others. Don't worry, though, it is coming.


    Okay, I think you've mentioned Angel Corp. before, but is there anything we should know about them at this point besides "oh hey this Dante guy is collaborating with them"? Still, I must admit that I'm almost done with this chapter and I haven't really been left confused like in the past, so it's definitely an improvement. Also, great job connecting that "random" attack to the Meteonite, which is connecting this former-Polaris scientist to Team Rocket and the 4 protagonists.
    The Angel Corporation is something that's being foreshadowed for now, really. A background element, I suppose.

    Everything is connect.


    Uh-oh! Another comma splice. Still, 2 in one very long chapter isn't so bad. They're a huge peeve of mine, so I can't help but point them out.
    I can't blame you. Please forgive me.

    This is a very touching scene. I was kinda hoping things would get a bit more snuggly between Matt and Nekou, unless you're not taking the shipping route between them. Anyway, if you're gonna reference classic literature that not everyone has read, be sure to be detailed. You talk a whole lot about Captain Ahab but you barely explain Ishmael, the person whom Nekou uses as a comparison for Matt. In the end, I don't even understand her reference since you didn't explain Ishmael's relevance to Moby Dick.
    Hm, you're right. I didn;t think that scene through at all, not nearly enough...


    You know, there were multiple points in this chapter where I thought, "This would've been a great place to end this chapter." I know you like writing long chapters...but, you know, I don't see the point of them being that long which probably discourages participants of the review game thread to review them. So I find it kind of amusing that you chose to end it very...anticlimactically. I thought the second to last scene between Matt and Nekou would've been a great place to end. Call me crazy, but I sensed a variety of tension in that scene, including sexual. It's a shame because you did a good job keeping me interested so far with the endings of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.
    There was a lot of tension in that scene, that was my intent. But like I mentioned, I like to have chapters end on a conclusion of some sort unless it's a special case.

    Luckily, this chapter blew my expectations out of the water, so I'll definitely tune in for Chapter 4 (and maybe the other 13). Sorry to any reviewers who might be annoyed with me reviewing a really old chapter. Looking forward to what lies ahead! ~flamebeam
    Thank you very much! And please, do not worry about reviewing an old chapter, nobody minds.

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    With Jessie, James and Meowth riding as passengers, Pierce was driving his car through an underground tunnel. All of them were now disguised in identical black trench coats, fedoras and sunglasses; even Meowth, despite his smaller, feline body, had one suited for him.

    In the dashboard of the car was a small video screen, through which Dr. Zager was communicating with the four.

    “Proceed to the checkpoint inside Dark Cave,” the elderly scientist instructed his agents. “From there, go south on foot until you are just outside Cherrygrove City, and attempt to confirm the location of the Meteonite shard.”

    “Understood, Dr. Zager,” Pierce stiffly responded, not removing his eyes from the rough road ahead.

    Suddenly bursting into the picture by pushing Zager aside, Ariana loudly directed, “Jessie, James, Meowth, I don’t want you guys taking any crazy risks on this operation. We can’t afford a major confrontation with Polaris yet. For that reason, I’ve prepared a contingency plan in case something happens to prevent you from collecting the Meteonite shard itself.”

    “A contingency plan?” Jessie repeated questioningly.

    “You two didn’t brief us on the details of such a thing,” James quietly complained, poking his fingers together.

    “You need not worry about briefing,” Zager informed them, making his way back into view as best he could. “I took the liberty of adding all necessary mission plans to your new R-Pad, which is chief among your equipment.”
    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Great!” Meowth shrilled. “Now, let’s go get that chunk of space rock and show those freaks that they should fear us!”
    This just reminded of a typical Team Rocket scene in Best Wishes. xD

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “I’ve heard Cherrygrove City is where the Battle Arcade, the first of the seven facilities associated with the Frontier Society, is located. I don’t really have any leads on what I’m looking for myself yet, so I figure that’s as good a place to start as any.”
    Yet again, nice expansion on the canon. I like it!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Bunny was cut off mid-sentence by a deep male voice with a commanding, nearly bone-chilling presence. It belonged to the young man blocking their path to the outskirts of New Bark Town, a strange figure wrapped in a long, ragged black poncho who kept his appearance carefully hidden using a stitched-up black hat and a dark green scarf, leaving only his sea-green eyes visible.
    And who is he now? xD

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “I’ll be going first!” the young man roared, his cold glare giving way to fire in his eyes. “Timburr, leave port!”

    The mysterious trainer’s Poké Ball gave way in a blinding burst of light to a small, gray Pokémon holding a beam of wood under his left arm. His body, which was almost entirely pure muscle, had pink veins bulging out in several places.

    “A new one already?” Olivia wondered. Recalling the instructions she’d just received, she reached for the Pokédex.

    “Timburr, the Muscular Pokémon. Type is Fighting. It fights by swinging a piece of lumber around. It is close to evolving when it can handle the lumber without difficulty. These Pokémon appear at building sites and help out with construction. They always carry squared logs.”

    “A Fighting-type… Minccino won’t be any good against that thing…” Olivia mumbled to herself. The circumstances essentially made her mind up for her, and she threw out her other Poké Ball, calling out, “Roselia, let’s play!”

    Despite his small stature, the mysterious trainer’s Timburr was still taller than Olivia’s Roselia, but she didn’t let that scare her. The tiny flower Pokémon stood bravely before her opponent’s gaze and glared back with all the ferocity she could muster.

    Off on the side, Bunny said to Matt and Nekou, “A Fighting-type against a Grass-and-Poison-type. Olivia should be able to handle this.”

    “Yeah,” Matt concurred, before adding, “Fighting-type moves don’t work very well against Poison-types.”

    “Olivia will win this, I’d even bet a beer and some chips on it.” Nekou took a bite of her butter-drenched bread roll after proclaiming her wager, while Matt and Bunny looked on in exasperation.

    “The first matchup is Roselia VS. Timburr!” Juniper announced. “Begin!”

    “Timburr, Pound!” called the cloaked trainer.

    “Roselia, use Energy Ball!”

    While Roselia gathered up energy from the terrain around her, giving it the shape of a crackling green sphere, Timburr darted toward her with his right arm pulled back. Upon reaching his target, Timburr swung to punch Roselia; however, he instead hit her Energy Ball, which resulted in it exploding. Both Pokémon took injury from the exchange and were pushed away from each other.

    “So that’s your short-range tactic. Impressive, just like your father.”

    Confused by her adversary’s words, Olivia raised an eyebrow and said, “What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything.”

    “So you say. I won’t fall for the deceptive ways you’ve clearly inherited. I have skills of my own too, you know.”

    “Oh, just shut up already,” Olivia sighed. “Roselia, try a Sludge Bomb!”

    “Is that how it’s going to be? Timburr, Rock Throw!”

    Both Pokémon sent projectiles at each other as their respective followup attacks; Roselia generated a blast of purple slime from her flowery arms, while Timburr scraped up a small rock from the ground using his wooden beam before throwing it. Neither had particularly good aim, but Timburr’s Rock Throw actually managed to graze Roselia, her Sludge Bomb missed Timburr entirely. Her right arm went limp as she fell onto the corresponding knee.

    “Your aim is poor. If you cannot strike me from afar, then this battle is already over. Timburr, use Rock Throw again. Knock out that Roselia’s other leg!”

    “Don’t give up yet, Roselia!” Olivia cried, trying to conceal the feeling of dread that was creeping over her. “Try another Energy Ball!”

    With only her left arm immediately mobile, Roselia’s pace in creating the Energy Ball was more sluggish than usual. This left Timburr all the time he needed to pull up and toss another stone, but before her left leg got knocked out by it, she managed to send the Energy Ball flying. Roselia collapsed to the ground just as Timburr got hit in the forehead, singeing the protrusion sticking out from above his eyes.

    “Roselia!”

    Olivia’s bad feeling about the situation was shared by Matt, Nekou and Bunny, who were watching the battle unfold in silence. They all recognized that she was in trouble, and reluctantly had to acknowledge that the strange young man was more skilled than they gave him credit for.

    “Well, Timburr, it’s about time to take what is rightfully ours. Use Pound to finish this up!”

    “Roselia, get ready!”

    There was no chance for Roselia to escape from Timburr as the Fighting-type bore down on her. She knew this, so instead of trying in vain to get away, she simply braced herself against the ground.

    Timburr smiled as he drew closer and closer to his target. The blow he had prepared would surely defeat her, he believed.

    Little did he expect that getting within range for his strike would leave him wide open for Roselia’s own counterattack. A thorn glowing with purple light suddenly emerged from the rose on Roselia’s right arm, and she drove it into Timburr’s stomach. Caught completely off guard by this Poison Sting, Timburr howled in pain as he flew back through the air. His wooden beam slipped from his grasp during the recoil from the hit, landing a few feet from his trainer.

    “So you’ve still got some fight left in you,” Olivia’s opponent growled, briefly widening his eyes. “It is clear that you have inherited your father’s clever approach to battling. But I won’t fall to a usurper like you! Timburr, no more games! Use Rock Throw and hold nothing back!”

    Without his beam to dig up rocks with, Timburr simply shoved his hands into the ground instead, pulling a jagged stone from the earth manually.

    Feeling the tide of the battle turning, Olivia was able to smile slightly for the first time as she ordered, “Hit Timburr with Sludge Bomb, Roselia! You’ve got a shot!”

    Roselia’s aim was still off by a bit, but it was not as poor as earlier. She managed to get the blast of sludge to hit Timburr’s lower body, causing him to cringe as the toxins burned his skin. He did, however, manage to fling the rock he was holding back at Roselia, barely missing her due to his weakening stance.

    Timburr was becoming tired and weak, a fact conveyed by his labored breathing and trembling body. His trainer picked up on this, and resolved to do something about it.

    “If you’re to keep going, Timburr, you’re going to need more health. Drain Punch!”

    When Timburr clenched his right fist on this command, a red aura enveloped it. He threw all of his remaining strength into lunging at Roselia one last time, but he realized just as well as Roselia and Olivia did that this was probably a kamikaze attack.

    “Finish it off with Energy Ball, Roselia!”

    Drain Punch managed to connect with Roselia, but it was not very effective due its poor type matchup, and Roselia held fast against it. She brought her arms up around Timburr on each side and formed the Energy Ball with her Fighting-type opponent right at the center. The resulting explosion violently threw Roselia back, but while she got back up from skidding on the ground, the smoke cleared to show a clearly unconscious Timburr lying at the center of a ring of burned terrain.

    “Timburr is no longer able to continue!” Juniper declared, raising her arm toward Olivia and Roselia. “Roselia wins the first round!”

    “Roselia!” Though victorious, Roselia had suffered some injuries of her own, so Olivia was careful when she picked up the Pokémon in her arms. “You did really well out there, okay? Rest up now.”

    Hearing a soft chirp in response, Olivia smiled and shuttled her Pokémon over to where her friends were sitting, where she set Roselia down alongside Marie and Oshawott.

    “I’m very proud of you, Olivia,” Matt said. “You showed some great tactical thinking and on-your-feet decision making just now.”

    “Thank you. Even if it would mean more coming from my dad, I still like hearing that.”

    “Here, Olivia, you’ve earned this.” Nekou happened to have another one of the butter-drenched rolls, and as a reward for how well Olivia was doing, she gave it to her. “You’re halfway to cleaning this arrogant little jerk’s clock, so don’t lose your pace now.”

    “Don’t worry, I don’t intend to.” Turning around but still reveling in the praise given to her by her friends, Olivia strode back to her battle position while eating the roll one bite at a time. She felt like things were happening incredibly fast – the day wasn’t even over yet, and she’d already met a professor, suffered a setback in her quest before it even began and received a substitute for the starter Pokémon she wanted. Now she was in her very first battle as an official trainer and halfway to fully winning it, and it excited her beyond her original goal of impressing her father. Winning, she was quickly coming to discover, felt good.

    Just as Olivia returned to her position, the young man finally recalled his Timburr, the Pokémon’s wooden beam being pulled into the Poké Ball at the same time as its wielder.

    “It is unsurprising that you would be able to defeat the weaker of my two Pokémon, Olivia Lynn Mistbloom,” he thundered, his cutting eyes blazing with rage. “Oh, how speaking that name makes my skin crawl. Someone who should not exist has no right to consider themselves entitled to anything more than the air they are lucky enough to breathe! Now… Drowzee, leave port!”

    The sleepy-looking Pokémon that burst from the young man’s second and final Poké Ball stretched his yellow-and-black body and yawned, the excess air causing his trunk to vibrate. He then moved his gaze to Olivia in an apathetic show of interest in what he’d be facing.

    “Alright then! I wanted to use you in the last round, but Timburr was just too much for you to handle. This ought to be where you can shine. Minccino, let’s play!”

    To face Drowzee, Olivia sent out her Minccino, a Pokémon that had the appearance of a gray chinchilla with big black eyes. She cheered happily when she got out of her Poké Ball, but shrunk back slightly when she saw Drowzee lazily staring at her.

    “The final matchup is Minccino VS. Drowzee! Begin!”

    “I want to make this quick, Minccino. Hit it with Tail Slap!”

    Shaking her initial fear off, Minccino ran up to Drowzee and sprang into the air before starting to spin, striking Drowzee in the face repeatedly.

    “Drowzee, use a close range Poison Gas!”

    Just as Minccino fell back after the fourth and final hit of Tail Slap, Drowzee expelled a cloud of noxious purple gas from his trunk right into her face. She was overcome by a violent coughing fit and rolled backwards, her movements becoming strained as the poison set in.

    “Minccino got poisoned!” Bunny exclaimed in dismay. “That’s going to make this all the harder for Olivia…”

    “Come on, Olivia!” Nekou called out. “Don’t let him get away with that ****! Finish this before it’s too late!”

    “I’m working on it!” Olivia’s patience was being tried as well, through a combination of the pressure she already felt in addition to her concern for Minccino’s well being. “Do you think you can pull off a Swift, Minccino?”

    “I won’t let you! Drowzee, Psycho Cut!”

    Simultaneously, Drowzee quickly crossed and uncrossed his arms to send two blades of concentrated psychic energy at Minccino, while Minccino returned the favor with a shower of star-shaped rays from her tail. Though Drowzee’s trainer had intended for Psycho Cut to block Swift, the stars actually passed right below the energy blades in midair; as a result, both Minccino and Drowzee took harsh blows, Minccino suffering more due to the continuing effects of the poison.

    “If she doesn’t win this quickly, the poison will do her in before Drowzee’s attacks do…” Matt thought, shifting uncomfortably. Even though Olivia losing would only cause the battle to end in a tie, he felt that she needed a comfortable victory at this early point.

    “We can’t do this with just Swift, Minccino! Try Aqua Tail!”

    “Coming in close again, are you?”

    Instead of going for multiple hits, this time Minccino aimed squarely for the middle of Drowzee’s head for a single attack using her tail, which had taken on an aquatic blue aura. Drowzee, surprisingly, just stood still, allowing Minccino a clear shot. He barely even flinched when the Aqua Tail made contact.

    “Perfect range. Now, Drowzee, use Thief.”

    Drowzee jabbed his right hand forward like a spear, catching Minccino in the stomach as she drifted back after her attack. She squealed in agony from the crushing blow, which sent her crashing to the ground, nearly unable to get up.

    “M-Minccino…” A conflict was developing in Olivia’s mind; she could not decide if she wanted to win or lose anymore. Obviously, pulling out victory over this opponent would be something that felt very good, but she now questioned if the price was worth it – Minccino could barely stand, suffering greatly under the effects of Drowzee’s Poison Gas and subsequent relentless assault. She began raising her arm to stop the battle, knowing she’d be unable to live with herself if Minccino didn’t come back from this battle.

    Before she could speak, though, she was cut off by her opponent. “My victory is now assured. This is the first step on my quest to show the truth to the world! So many fools throughout this world see your father as some sort of hero for stopping Enigma Shadow, but I will make them see Rich Mistbloom’s true vile nature!”

    “That’s enough!” Seeing Olivia about to cry rendered Matt unable to take sitting by any longer, and he jumped up and confronted the angry trainer. “All you’re using your Pokémon for is to destroy the lives of everyone who believed in one person? What could Rich have possibly done to you that justifies what you’re doing right now, cruelly crushing the one thread of hope this girl has?”

    “Silence yourself, you fool!” he shot back, visibly shocking Olivia, Bunny, Juniper and even Nekou. “Take a look at yourself, you’re just as disgusting. You call yourself someone who seeks the truth, but right now you deny it! I will gain more power so I may destroy the lies consuming this world! Right now, you could not possibly understand the years of agony that Rich Mistbloom subjected me to!”

    The cloaked young man’s breakdown afforded Olivia with one precious advantage, however – it gave her time to think about how the battle had progressed so far, which led her to realize that she still had one way out.

    While Matt, Bunny and Nekou stared at Drowzee’s trainer, Olivia shouted, “Quickly, Minccino, use Swift! Aim for Drowzee’s legs!”

    Olivia’s voice gave Minccino a burst of strength, and she jumped to action, raining glowing stars down into Drowzee’s legs. Her opponent was too preoccupied at first to prepare a defense, so when he realized that Drowzee had been undercut and dropped to his hands and knees, he started to panic.

    “Drowzee, get up! Get up now! Don’t fail me now!! Use Psycho Cut!”

    “You’re finished! Consider this one from my dad… Tail Slap!”

    Drowzee was struggling to stand, and when Minccino saw this, she felt a rush of energy overcome her and darted right at her stunned Psychic-type foe. His face was like a target to her, and she took great joy in delivering each of the five consecutive strikes she landed right in the center of Drowzee’s forehead. The last hit was forceful enough to throw Drowzee up into the air and down onto his back, with his point of fainting coming halfway between the two.

    “Drowzee is unable to continue!” Nekou sprang from her seat to embrace Olivia with her good arm, and their combined cheering drowned out the rest of Juniper declaring Olivia the winner.
    Well, these battle scene were quite good. You could have used some more descriptions but overall, they were pretty decently portrayed battles.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Having completed his speech, Renzo turned and briskly walked off toward the exit gate of the town; a spiked ponytail of sky-blue hair outlined in black slipped from under his scarf as he walked. Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny were all left confused by his strange behavior and sudden departure, trying to make sense of it all as they waited for Juniper to return.
    Needless to say, I was left confused too. But I guess can I say with certainty that this guy will play the role of Olivia's rival.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    “Okay, someone tell me they’re actually going to care to remember the little ****er’s name,” Nekou groaned while slouching forward. “I stopped caring.”
    Same here, Nekou, same here. xD

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    In the meeting chamber of the Sacred Helix, seven of the ten seats were occupied, with the ones ranked one, five and ten empty. The assembled seven were speaking amongst themselves when the sound of a door opening pierced the air in the room, prompting them to fall silent.

    A tall, lithe man in a white suit emerged from the shadows behind the number one seat, his gray hair making him stand out even more in the darkness of the chamber. Unlike the others, he was not wearing any kind of mask whatsoever, and as he sat down in the chair, the other seven began to complain.

    “What is this? We get called here and Father doesn’t bother to show up?” Jeunes’s objection gave voice to the dismay of many of his colleagues, and they fell into line behind him. “This was supposed to be an important meeting!”

    “There is nothing to be upset about,” the white-suited man causally dismissed. “Father has appointed me as his envoy to the Sacred Helix, so we shall now get on with the business of the day. Chromosomes, as you know, for the past five years, we have not had a leader of the tenth section.”

    “Not since the averted Day of Reckoning in Oceannia that Rich Mistbloom stopped,” Ghetsis commented into his folded hands.

    “Correct. Well, today, we now present the issue of appointing a new Chromosome to lead the tenth section.” Father’s envoy waved his hand, prompting a spotlight to come on over the area surrounded by the circular table. A four-sided, pyramid-like shape was depicted in gold on the red carpeting; its two longest sides converged directly at Finansielle’s seat, and kneeling at the center of the shape was the man who had robbed the Pewter Museum. “You are on file as the creation of Polaris’s Project J, is this correct?”

    “Yes, sir,” the man replied, his face largely obscured from view by shadows. His mouth was visible, however, and it was twisted into a sadistic smile.

    The Darkrai-masked member at the number two seat spoke next. “You have been in training since the day you were given your body, and your first field mission for us was the job of stealing the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs from the Pewter Museum. It has been reported that your execution of this mission was flawless.”

    “Indeed, what you did the other day will prove to be a major help to us,” said the diminutive male seated at section nine, who was wearing an Electivire-themed mask and helmet complete with antennae. “Not to mention, your use of my section’s electrical bodysuit was superb. Do you understand that this is why we are debating giving you the position of Chromosome?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “You’ve spent years doing everything we’ve asked,” Jeunes offered as input. “Truly, you are one of our most loyal members.”

    “I believe we’ve said all that needs to be said,” Ghetsis declared. “I would like to motion for a vote on the confirmation of Project J as the tenth Chromosome.”

    “Wait, Séduire is not here,” the woman seated at section six sighed from behind her mask, an avian-themed one featuring a beak and feathers of red, white and blue. “How will we achieve a fair vote?”

    “With the tenth seat empty and Séduire absent,” the envoy reasoned, “we need one recusal to make the vote a fair seven. Jeunes, because you were the director of Project J and can be considered this individual’s father, I would like to request that you be that recusal.”

    “Hmph, fine by me. I don’t concern myself with these political matters when I can predict the outcome. It’s boring.”

    “Very well. Now, allow the vote to commence.” The man stood and announced, “As the envoy of the first Chromosome, Father, I, Archer, cast a vote of yes!”

    The Darkrai-masked leader rose next. “As the second Chromosome, I, Praeses, cast a vote of yes!”

    As Ghetsis hobbled to his feet, Project J smiled to himself again, out of the view of the council assessing him and voting on his fate.

    “As the third Chromosome, I, Ghetsis, cast a vote of yes!”

    “As the fourth Chromosome, I, Finansielle, cast a vote of yes!”

    The majority was already reached, but the vote had to finish for formality’s sake. It would just give Project J more of the attention he loved, though.

    “I am disturbed by what you are,” the woman with the Braviary mask remarked. “I don’t know if I can trust you. As the sixth Chromosome, I, Mercury, cast a vote of no!”

    A number of the Chromosomes were surprised by this, but Project J was able to relatively ignore it. He knew he never needed her approval anyway.

    At section seven was a man wearing a cape and a Dragonite mask who hadn’t spoken yet. He simply stood up and declared, “As the seventh Chromosome, I, Athleta, cast a vote of yes!”

    Passing over Jeunes, the last vote arrived at the short man with the Electivire helmet. “As the ninth Chromosome, I, Getriebe, cast a vote of yes!”

    “The final vote is six for yes, one for no,” Archer announced. “Welcome to the Sacred Helix, our new tenth Chromosome.”

    “My name…” Emerging from the shadows, Project J was already in the process of pulling on his Sigilyph-themed mask and helmet. “…shall be Geminus.”

    Leaping high into the air, the newly-named Geminus landed in the space just behind and between sections eight and nine. However, he was also unexpectedly met by a young woman that had just entered the chamber, whose shoulder-length red hair combined with her spiked mask to give her the appearance of an Entei.

    “W-who are you?!” she screeched, recoiling back in shock.

    “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Geminus…” Just after walking past the young woman on his way to his seat, Geminus said just loudly enough for her to hear, “I’ll be looking forward to working with you again.”

    “Come in, Séduire,” Archer said to the newly-arrived Chromosome. “You already missed the vote to confirm Geminus.”

    “I was busy!” she yelled as she arrived at her seat.

    “Stalking that boy you’re infatuated with on the Internet does not count as ‘busy,’ Séduire,” Ghetsis sarcastically admonished her. “It was due to your possessive tendencies over him that our men were sent into Whitegold City too early and exposed our movements before we were fully prepared.”

    “And you’re any better?” Séduire shot back. “You let all three Angels escape your grasp in Unova! I could have already been united with Matt in the future world if you hadn’t messed that up!”

    “Father wouldn’t tell us who Azrael was so we could go after her…” Praeses mumbled to himself. “He insisted he would capture her personally…”

    “Now, Chromosomes, please don’t fight,” Archer said in an attempt to soothe the conflict. “For the first time in five years, our Sacred Helix now has all ten Chromosomes. It is now time for us to move forward into our future world… consider the history of the world. Our planet took shape as a mass of molten rock millions of years ago, and from that beginning, humans and Pokémon inherited the Earth. From then on, humans and Pokémon have progressed forward in two identical but parallel lines, always moving forward but never truly crossing. Today our world is suffering, no, it is dying. For both humanity and Pokémon to survive, those lines must cross to take the sacred shape of the DNA that comprises all living things. Now, Chromosomes, go to your stations and prepare for our first major operation. We have now commenced the beginning of a glorious new chapter for humanity and Pokémon alike. Meeting adjourned.”
    And, I'm even more confused.

    But don't let it bother you, I'm sure that all will be explained eventually. Let's see now. We have Sacred Helix - they are the first bad guys. And then we have Team Rocket who is ... working with Polaris - the other bad guys? Please tell me I got that right.

    So, is Ariana working undercover or something?

    Yep, I'm confused.

    But hey, your writing is good enough and you have set up many interesting questions and mysteries which I'm looking forward to getting solved. I can only hope that some of the future chapters will shed more light on the whole mystery because, right now, I'm kinda taken aback by this whole mystery. ^^;


    ....and now, her story begins.

  23. #23
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    Hopefully, this chapter will be a bit more streamlined and easy to digest. There’s not as much going on in this one, so let’s see how it goes.

    -:-

    CHAPTER 3: Opening Moves on Fate’s Board

    -:-

    The dark clouds that covered the sky over Route 29 into Cherrygrove City and New Bark Town cast ominous shadows over the cliff-laden road, and rumbles of thunder could be heard approaching.

    Beneath the cover provided by the thick trees just off the main path, Jessie, James, Meowth and Pierce were meeting to finalize their plans. James was holding in his hands a rectangular black tablet computer with ten buttons, a plus-shaped control pad and two thumb pads surrounding its screen; on its back and just below the bottom-left corner of its screen was the stylized script ‘R’ logo of Team Rocket. Meanwhile, in Jessie’s hand was a heavy briefcase.

    “As you were made aware of,” Pierce instructed, “the energy signature associated with Meteonite was detected just south of our current position. Your mission is to find the source of that signal and recover the Meteonite piece. At that point, contact me for extraction.”

    “So we’re doing all the work and you’re just going to sit around and wait to get us out,” Jessie complained, sighing. “Good to know.”

    “You might think you need me, but the boss thinks otherwise. Besides, I have my own job to do.”

    “What? Where would you be going?” Meowth wondered.

    “There have been reports of unusual activity in Cherrygrove City that I’ve been ordered to investigate, so if there are no further questions about your mission, I will be going.”

    Pierce turned sharply, causing the tails of his trench coat to flap up behind him. As he walked off, fallen twigs and leaves cracked beneath his heavy boots.

    “Jessie, I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” James whimpered. “We’re not cut out for this. Team Aqua, Team Magma, Team Galactic, Hunter J… Polaris is bigger and stronger than they all were.”

    “Oh, be quiet!” his hot-tempered female companion snapped back. “The boss wouldn’t have selected us for this mission if he didn’t trust us to get it done.”

    “And in addition, the good old fluffy-headed doctor said we were picked because we did a good job taking out those liberation knight guys in Unova. That means we’ve got some skills, you two, even if we don’t know them all yet! Now…” Snatching the computer out of James’s hands, Meowth touched the screen with his paw. “We have to find out where that chunk of space rock is.”

    After displaying the stylized script ‘R’ logo, the screen displayed a menu of several options. Meowth touched one of them, activating a radar system with the map of Route 29 loaded into it. As the system scanned the route, it returned a faint signal coming from very near the entrance of Cherrygrove City.

    “There we go, it looks like it’s in the west of Route 29,” James observed. “Let’s get moving.”

    -:-

    The humble yet busy streets of New Bark Town gradually disappeared behind Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Bunny as they headed west into Route 29, giving way to a curving, cliff-laden road framed by long blades of fragrant grass. Off in the distance on all sides, tall trees provided boundary lines appropriate to the concept of a road through the woods.

    “I’m not liking the looks of this weather,” Matt said, his eyes locked on the rumbling sky overhead. “Do you guys think we should have stayed in New Bark Town until this storm passes? Sure looks like one’s coming.”

    “What’s the matter, afraid of a little thunder?” Nekou was so preoccupied with taking another bite off the croissant in her hand that she didn’t notice Matt shrink back slightly from her remark. “There’s nothing for us to be afraid of if there’s a storm. That’s why we were given trees.”

    “Olivia, don’t you think we should try to get some training in?” suggested Bunny. “Violet City will come up faster than you expect. I think it would be a good idea to start getting Minccino, Roselia and Oshawott up to speed now.”

    Olivia was walking slightly ahead of the others, but she stopped and turned after listening to Bunny’s proposal. “That sounds pretty good, actually. Can one of you help me out?”

    “You two stand aside,” Nekou bossed Matt and Bunny, stepping past them with her mobile arm out. “I’ll be glad to help you train, Olivia. I’ve got just the Pokémon you need to see right now. Zorua, prepare yourself!”

    Having reached into her blouse and produced a Poké Ball, Nekou opened it to free her Zorua. The black-and-red fox Pokémon shook herself off after entering the fresh air, then looked up at Olivia and barked.

    “You’re going to use Zorua?” Bunny questioned.

    “Yeah, so? She’s ready for something resembling a real battle, and besides, getting her some training too means this is a win-win for both me and Olivia.” Facing forward again, Nekou said to Olivia, “Use Oshawott. He’s the one who needs the training, if he’s to catch up to Minccino and Roselia.”

    “Do I have to?” Olivia sighed. “Fine, I guess we’ll see how it goes. Oshawott, let’s play!”

    Almost immediately upon materializing, Oshawott proudly held up his shell, only flinching slightly when he realized that Zorua was staring at him. He realized that this would be his first chance to prove himself to his trainer, so he intended to make the best of it.

    “Okay, Olivia, we can’t even have a practice battle if you don’t know what moves Oshawott has. I think the Pokédex should be able to tell you about that.”

    “Really?” Fumbling out her Pokédex, Olivia activated it and scanned Oshawott.

    “Oshawott, the sea otter Pokémon. Type is Water. It fights using the scalchop on its stomach. In response to an attack, it retaliates immediately by slashing. The scalchop on its stomach is made from the same element as claws. It detaches the scalchop for use as a blade.”

    “Wait, that’s not what I wanted…” Visibly flustered, Olivia clicked through several more screens until she finally arrived at what she wanted. “So Oshawott’s beginning moves are Water Gun and Tackle. Okay…”

    “You’ll do fine, Olivia, just don’t lose your nerve!” Matt called out from the sidelines, where he was standing alongside Bunny and watching the training.

    “Don’t break my concentration!” both Olivia and Nekou snapped at exactly the same time, prompting all four to laugh.

    “Now, Olivia, I’ll let you attack first,” Nekou instructed. “Just try to get Oshawott to land a hit first.”

    “ Okay then… Oshawott, use Water Gun on Zorua!”

    “Zorua, get ready! Brace yourself!”

    After taking a deep breath, Oshawott expelled a steady stream of water from his mouth. Zorua made no significant effort to evade the wave, instead choosing to simply plant her feet firmly into the ground.

    The attack’s impact range was split between Zorua’s legs and the ground, and the force from below her feet threw Zorua into the air.

    Nekou was ready with an improvised tactic, though. “It’s fine, Zorua. Go for Dig!”

    Shaking off the small amount of injury she’d received – which amounted to little more than being shaken up at most – Zorua barked and flipped over in the air, drilling downward until she disappeared beneath the ground.

    “Now, Olivia, don’t panic just yet,” Nekou gently advised, noting that both her opponent and the girl’s Oshawott seemed surprised by Zorua’s move. “I know you’re good at straight, all-out attacking, but from watching you beat that caped guy before, I know you can be pretty analytic too. Just try to calm down and assess the situation. What would be a good way to get me now?”

    Olivia stared at the space between herself and Nekou and squinted in an attempt to increase her focus. She took stock of what was present – she was there herself, and directly opposite her was Nekou. Between the two of them stood Oshawott, waiting for a direction on what to do, and a hole where Zorua had punctured the earth to get underground. These factors were the tools she had to work with, Olivia realized.

    Herself, Nekou, Oshawott, the hole leading to Zorua’s tunnel; Olivia ran through all of the available factors again in her mind, and something suddenly hit her. “Oshawott, fire Water Gun into the hole!”

    Seeing Oshawott excitedly jumping toward Zorua’s burrow on Olivia’s command made Nekou smile. It meant that the lesson she was trying to teach the younger girl was getting through, a meaning that wasn’t lost on Matt and Bunny, who were both enthralled themselves.

    With the force of Oshawott’s Water Gun pushing her, Zorua burst up out of the ground. She was just a little too far away from Oshawott to attack him directly, so Nekou was forced to come up with an alternate tactic.

    “Zorua, use Snarl!”

    “Zorooooo!” Zorua cried, her shrill voice causing Oshawott to hold his ears and shudder in pain. He felt his muscles weakening as well, a side effect of the attack Zorua was leveling against him.

    Understanding that she couldn’t let this go on, Olivia raised her hand and called out, “Stop Zorua using Tackle, Oshawott!”

    “Show Oshawott your Foul Play!”

    Oshawott and Zorua ran at each other, both beginning to become tired from their exchanging blows. Zorua was glowing with a black light, so when the two Pokémon collided with each other, a shower of luminescent black sparks showered out. A few seconds later, Oshawott and Zorua were pushed apart by their own strength.

    “That’s enough,” Nekou declared, seeing the two Pokémon breathing heavily. “We don’t want to overextend our Pokémon, otherwise we’ll do more harm than good.”

    “How was I?” Olivia asked, somewhat demandingly. “Did I do well?”

    “I’d say you did,” complimented her training partner. “You more than satisfied my expectations. Of course, a lot of credit has to go to Oshawott too.”

    “I guess. I can’t say he did badly…”

    “Oshawott…” uttered the Water-type Pokémon, relieved that Olivia was pleased with his performance even somewhat.

    “That was some good work, Olivia,” Matt complimented as he and Bunny made their way over to the others.

    “I think you’re already starting to bond with Oshawott, you know,” Bunny added, smiling. “Maybe you two really were made for each other.”

    “Don’t get the wrong idea!” fumed Olivia, her face turning red. Matt couldn’t help but chuckle under his breath, but she failed to notice his subtle action and quickly calmed down. “So, now what?”

    “Let’s keep going,” he proposed. “Maybe we can get right to Cherrygrove City, before a storm blows in if we’re lucky.”

    Nekou, Olivia and Bunny all nodded in agreement with Matt’s suggestion, so with Oshawott and Zorua walking alongside them, they resumed their westward trek down the cliff-laden road.

    Little did they realize they were being watched. At least a dozen pairs of yellow eyes glistened in the darkness within the foliage just off the main road, carefully observing the movements of the new invaders in their territory. Behind them, a single pair of larger, triangular white eyes watched as well.

    -:-

    Jessie, James and Meowth had moved south, just as Pierce had directed them, and now had a makeshift encampment set up in the woods just off of Route 29.

    While Jessie was busy spying on the small house they could see from their hideout, James was using his black tablet computer to survey data being collected from both Jessie’s high-tech binoculars and the satellite dish held by her Wobbuffet. Meowth, meanwhile, had headphones specially designed for his head by Dr. Zager on.

    “There’s no mistaking it, the Meteonite shard is inside that house,” observed James as he used his finger to slide through the data on his screen. “It’s where the readings are strongest.”

    “What else is there to do, then?” Jessie asked rhetorically. “Break in, collect the rock, get out of there, and profit when the boss rewards us!”

    “That’s right!” both James and Meowth exclaimed.

    Wobbuffet shared their enthusiasm, but he cried out his name far too loudly, prompting Jessie to abruptly shush him. The quartet then turned back to the house, and Meowth’s expression darkened slightly.

    “We gotta watch out for that old man who’s living there, though,” the cat Pokémon explained. “He looks like he’s got a lot of treasure on him, but that Pokémon with him ain’t something we want to cross. He might come back at any time.”

    “Let’s just hold back for now,” Jessie suggested. “An opening might appear so we can swoop in and grab it.”

    -:-

    “So what do we do now?” Olivia wondered, directing her complaints at anyone who would listen. “Surely traveling is more exciting than this.”

    “Well, Olivia, most trainers who start out tend to try catching a Pokémon right away,” Matt explained, before gently and carefully adding, “but you’ve got three already. I don’t think it’s a great idea to get more before you can at least get used to Oshawott.”

    “Aw, seriously? I could find one I want to capture at any time, you know!”

    Amused by Olivia’s reckless enthusiasm, Nekou smiled, a soft laugh escaping her lips. When Matt saw her expression, he instinctively prepared himself for her to provoke Olivia further, in turn leading to an even bigger disagreement. He was accordingly surprised, then, when that was not what Nekou did.

    “You know, Olivia, for once he has a point,” she advised. “You have plenty of time before your first Gym battle, so there’s no need to rush to catch more Pokémon.”

    “Oh, fine,” Olivia responded, pouting.

    Nekou’s relatively cheery mood abruptly disappeared, giving her three companions pause. She stopped speaking and began wearily looking around, sniffing at the air while doing so.

    “Nekou, what’s wrong?” Matt asked.

    “Something’s not right, I can sense it,” she replied, continuing to crinkle her nose in an attempt to identify the scent. “We’re being watched.”

    In a single sudden, incredibly fast motion, Nekou pulled a switchblade from the inside of her blouse with her right hand; she used it to cut the sling restraining her left arm, leaving it to fall away as her arm was freed.

    Dumbfounded by what she was seeing, especially when Nekou moved her left arm freely without pain, Bunny stammered, “You were still injured just yesterday! How are you moving like that already?!”

    “How I’m moving is not important right now. Get ready,” Nekou warned, brandishing her switchblade in a battle-ready stance. As if a switch had been thrown, Nekou’s personality was now completely serious. “Something’s watching us…”

    Almost on cue, a nearby bush started rustling, causing Matt, Olivia and Bunny to jump nervously. Nekou, meanwhile, simply tensed up in preparation for combat, expecting a threat to come jumping out of the brush at any moment. Her instincts weren’t without merit, either, as mere seconds later something did indeed emerge.

    However, what appeared was not the fearsome monster they were expecting; in fact, it was vastly different. The small, tan-bodied canine Pokémon looked up at them with wide eyes, twitching the large ears that rose up from behind the shock of light-colored fur covering his face.

    “That Pokémon is adorable!” Olivia exclaimed excitedly, clasping her hands together and speaking loudly.

    “It’s Lillipup, a Pokémon from Unova,” Nekou informed the others. “Olivia, you should scan it.”

    On Nekou’s encouragement, Olivia took out her Pokédex and scanned Lillipup as he stared apprehensively at them.

    “Lillipup, the puppy Pokémon. Type is Normal. It is a brave Pokémon, but it also has the intelligence to judge an enemy’s strength and avoid battles.”

    “I don’t want to underestimate it, but…” Bunny shifted uncomfortably before finishing, “…this was what we were supposed to be afraid of?”

    Lillipup barked weakly and began slowly moving toward the group, making his injured right hind leg become apparent.

    “It’s hurt!” Matt exclaimed, putting words to what all of them were feeling. While he was the one to verbalize their thoughts, though, it was Olivia putting those emotions to action, rushing over to the injured Pokémon.

    “It’s okay, Lillipup, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” As she tried to speak soothingly to Lillipup, Olivia could feel a light coating of blood stuck onto the blue fur on his back. “I think something might have attacked it,” she nervously said to her friends, looking for guidance on what to do.

    She would not receive it, as Nekou suddenly snapped her head back up toward the underbrush and called out, “Zorua, use Incinerate now!”

    Having remained next to her trainer the entire time, Zorua was in perfect position to release a thin jet of fire aimed at the as-yet-unknown threat, hitting it with enough force to cause a small explosion.

    “Pawnia!” a high-pitched voice shrilled upon impact.

    From the cloud of smoke a Pokémon fell. She had a humanoid body colored primarily red and gray, with two hooks protruding from her torso. Her arms each ended in a sharp knife blade, and another blade stuck out from her helmet between her two yellow eyes.

    The blast generated by the collision of Zorua’s Incinerate and the Pokémon was so close to Olivia that she was knocked over by its force. Screaming, she picked up the injured Lillipup in her arms and fled behind Nekou and Matt.

    “What’s that thing?!” she screeched in fear.

    Before anyone could answer, a second Pokémon identical to the first jumped from a nearby tree and attempted to cut Nekou with his knife arms, but she dispelled the assault by swinging her switchblade to knock him away. She then identified him by speaking the Pokémon’s name while Olivia fumbled for her Pokédex.

    “Pawniard. Another Unova Pokémon…”

    “Pawniard, the Sharp Blade Pokémon. Type is Dark/Steel. Even if it gets injured, it doesn’t care. It attacks its prey in a group, using the blades all over its body.”

    “A group?!” Olivia nervously breathed. “Does that mean there are even more of them?”

    She received an answer to her question almost immediately. Repeating their species name like a chant, more Pawniard emerged from the bushes until their ranks numbered a total of twelve. They were then joined by a thirteenth Pokémon, one that resembled a taller, more mature Pawniard whose body had grown to have sharp blades for ankles and feet, arms with retractable blades in them, and a golden axe blade bisecting her head from between her white, triangular eyes.

    “Shit, a Bisharp!” Nekou spat, her worst fears realized.

    As it had never left her hands, Olivia was able to quickly scan the Bisharp with her Pokédex.

    “Bisharp, the Sword Blade Pokémon. Type is Dark/Steel. Evolved form of Pawniard. A scary Pokémon that will take the injured, immobile prey that battled a group of Pawniard and portion it out.”

    “I don’t like that thing,” Olivia whimpered while shivering nervously.

    “You’re not wrong to feel that way,” Nekou said to support the younger girl. “I’ve seen what these Pokémon can do. Marie, prepare yourself for battle! Join Zorua!”

    “Balin, come out! I need your help!”

    Marie jumped down from Nekou’s back to stand alongside Zorua, and joining the two of them was Bunny’s Ninetales, Balin, who appeared in a flash of light from his Poké Ball. Almost immediately upon materializing, he growled at the pack of Pawniard and their Bisharp leader, correctly picking up on the threat they posed.

    The Bisharp cried out, thrusting her right arm forward. Accordingly following her orders, three Pawniard lunged forward at Bunny, Olivia and Nekou, all baring the knives on their arms.

    “Zorua, get out of the way so Marie can use Low Sweep!”

    “Balin, Flame Burst now!”

    Nekou’s Zorua barely managed to get out of the way of two of the charging Pawniard before they could cut her, opening up space for Marie to come in and trip one by undercutting his legs. The second Pawniard, however, reached Nekou, forcing her to parry its blow with her switchblade and send him barreling off several feet away.

    Finally, Balin suffered a small gash on his cheek when the Pawniard that attacked him slipped through, but he managed to strike back swiftly by spitting out an explosive fireball.

    Just as the third Pawniard was driven back, a rumble of thunder passed through Route 29 and a light but steady rain began to fall.

    “Sharrr!!” the Bisharp roared in anger, refusing to let her prey defeat her. Responding to her rage, seven more of the Pawniard lined up in preparation to attack Bunny, Nekou and Olivia, while the final two teamed up with their leader and set their sights on Matt.

    “Zorua, Marie, get ready!” Nekou shouted, feeling her muscles tensing as the situation spun out of control.

    Matt couldn’t focus on the attack that commenced against his companions, however, as the Bisharp rushed him as well. He hastily raised up his arms to protect himself, resulting in a loud crashing sound when Bisharp’s steel blades hit the metal of his prosthetic limbs. While the Dark-and-Steel-type Pokémon stepped back, puzzled that her attack failed to significantly injure him, Matt tried to fight back by grabbing her arms and shoving her away.

    However, her two bodyguards were more than ready to take up the slack. One of her two Pawniard crossed his arms and charged up purple light to create a Psycho Cut, while the other used his own power to pull up a cluster of small rocks. They both used their attacks together, hitting the ground right in front of Matt; this resulted in him stumbling backward and falling down.

    Hastily, he took a Poké Ball from his bag. This Poké Ball was a special type – it was colored in varying shades of blue in a wave pattern. Matt threw this Dive Ball with a flick of his wrist and called out to the Pokémon inside.

    “Patrick, make your mark!”

    A tall, bulky toad Pokémon materialized from Matt’s Dive Ball. His blue body had a number of black-and-cream-colored bumps on it, matching the colors adorning his front.

    Flexing his body, which in turn caused the bumps to vibrate slightly, he gurgled, “Seismitoad…”

    “I know this is sudden for your first battle with me, Patrick, but I need your help! Use Scald!”

    Patrick moved his lazy red eyes to the two Pawniard and the Bisharp, and after glaring at them for a short while, he spit a stream of boiling water at them. Moving to protect their mistress, the two Pawniard attempted to deflect the Scald with cutting moves, but failed and were thrown back. One of them – the one who had used Psycho Cut – collided with one of the hooks protruding from Bisharp’s torso, visibly cutting his helmet.

    Enraged even further by her minions’ failure, Bisharp snarled viciously and discharged a stream of electricity from the axe blade in her head; this Thunder Wave failed, however, when Patrick stood in the way to block it from hitting Matt, as his part-Ground type nullified electricity. She then aligned her arms and formed a vortex of dark energy between her claws, loosing a Dark Pulse that managed to hurt Patrick enough to force him to close his eyes and groan.

    “Don’t take that!” Matt shouted while stumbling back to his feet. “Go for a knockout! Drain Punch!”

    Patrick clenched the three fingers on his right hand to form a fist, which then took on a shining, crackling glow. He threw his hulking body in Bisharp’s direction, intending to hit her with a punch that would surely knock her out instantly, however, the struggle would not be resolved that easily. Shaking off their own injuries, the two Pawniard once again leapt to their leader’s defense, attempting to hold Patrick back with resistance formed from their respective Psycho Cut and Metal Claw.

    Their attempt failed to stop Patrick’s Drain Punch, but they did succeed in redirecting it away from Bisharp by taking the hit themselves. Frames of light in the same greenish color as the glow of Drain Punch broke away from the two Pawniard and were absorbed by the Seismitoad, restoring some of his health.

    From the frustration steadily building inside of him, Matt was forced to grit his teeth. The two Pawniard were most likely down for good, but they had successfully guarded Bisharp for as long as possible, and without taking her down, the other seven Pawniard would be nearly impossible to easily dispel.

    “Oh no!” he suddenly thought, the realization that he’d forgotten completely about Olivia, Nekou and Bunny and their own fight crashing violently into his mind.

    He turned in just enough time to see one of the seven Pawniard leap past Olivia’s Oshawott’s Water Gun and slash her on the cheek, while another one was knocked to the ground by Nekou’s Zorua’s Incinerate. The swarm of Pokémon had broken through the initial line of defense presented by Matt’s allies, and now were splitting them up with their relentless attacking.

    With the shivering, injured Lillipup still in her arms, Olivia attempted to flee in Matt’s direction. Tears were running down her face, which was contorted into a look of nightmarish torment.

    “This wasn’t supposed to happen… make it stop…” she was mumbling hysterically to herself. “Make it stop, make it stop!!”

    Right after she passed by Matt, however, Olivia’s luck ran out. Bisharp – who had renewed her hand-to-hand struggle with Patrick – spotted the girl trying to escape. She first pushed her opponent away by striking him harshly with her hand – an Assurance attack that was made more potent by their previous combat – then directed a Thunder Wave in Olivia’s direction.

    The electric pulse fired from Bisharp’s helmet did not hit Olivia, but it came close enough to her feet that it made her trip and fall. She rolled over and hastily stood back up, clutching Lillipup all the while, only to find herself being menacingly approached by Bisharp and the remaining Pawniard.

    Olivia slowly backed up, while the others decided to do what they could to protect her.

    “Patrick, attack the Pawniard with Scald!”

    “Marie, herd them together using Low Sweep, then Zorua, you **** them up with Incinerate!”

    “Balin, once they’re all together, take all those Pawniard out with Flame Burst!”

    Marie was the first to act, swiftly running in a circle around the cluster of seven Pawniard to hit them in their legs, thus pushing them closer together. Once they were collected, Patrick washed a blast of hot water over them, which Oshawott complimented by using his Water Gun again. This was closely followed by Zorua exhaling a small stream of flames, and finally Balin choking up a huge fireball that exploded on impact, consuming all the Pawniard and leaving them to faint.

    “Well, we got the foot soldiers,” Bunny said in relief. “Now for the commander.”

    Either ignorant of or completely uncaring about the defeat of her followers, Bisharp was still slowly approaching Olivia, who had backed herself onto one of the taller cliffs on Route 29. With rain, tears and blood dripping down her face, she took a slow, deep breath, her head trembling and moving backward bit by bit, causing her to stare down her nose at Bisharp.

    “What the hell do you think you’re doing, you monster?!” she screamed, all her pent-up fear and frustration coming up at once.

    Bisharp paused her advance and slowly raised her right arm. The iron blades protruding from that arm lengthened, then took on a bright metallic sheen as light from the air nearby flowed into it.

    “Stop it!” Quickly recognizing that his plea was useless and that Bisharp would not cease preparing her Metal Claw, Matt turned to Patrick and ordered, “Take Bisharp out with Drain Punch before this gets worse!”

    The lumbering toad pulled himself back up onto his feet, then pulled back his first and moved in toward his foe.

    What happened next, however, caught everyone – Matt’s group, Bisharp and Patrick – unprepared.

    With the power for her Metal Claw fully charged, Bisharp lifted her arm even higher and took one last step toward Olivia. Accordingly, Olivia stepped slightly backward to try and stay away from the terrifying Pokémon – and as soon as she did, her foot came down on a spot halfway over the rain-soaked cliff. Her footing vanished almost instantly, leaving her to helplessly struggle to hold herself up using only her legs as she teetered on the land’s edge.

    For Matt, time seemed to slow to a halt. Patrick’s Drain Punch was no longer going to make any difference; whether or not Bisharp was knocked out almost did not matter. He started to rush to Olivia with his arm outstretched, and behind him, Nekou and Bunny also were moving forward in a panic, but it was all for naught. After what seemed like an endless ordeal that in actuality was less than thirty seconds, Olivia’s balance completely gave way and she slipped over the cliff, screaming at the top of her lungs as she disappeared from sight.

    Matt, Nekou and Bunny all froze. For the latter, her thoughts were primarily on Olivia’s safety. Bunny had faith that Olivia would come out of this incident relatively fine; it was obvious that things were bad, but she hoped that it wouldn’t come out as a full-fledged disaster.

    Nekou handled it significantly more poorly. Even though she had only known Olivia for a little over a week, Nekou was already developing both sisterly and maternal instincts toward the girl, and an aggressive creature causing Olivia direct harm deeply violated those bonds. She flew into a screaming rage, viciously rushing Bisharp with her switchblade; however, she was unable to inflict much damage due to Bisharp fighting back.

    “You ****er!” she cursed the Dark-and-Steel-type Pokémon during her assault. “You’re ****ing answering to me for hurting her!”

    Matt’s paralysis was entirely mental, caused by the deluge of crushing thoughts that hit him instantaneously upon Olivia falling.

    “You failure!” the one even slightly clear voice screamed at him through the chaos in his head. “All you had to do was protect her and make her dream come true, and you couldn’t even manage that! Now you let another one die!!”

    Extending his arms straight out in front of him, Matt finally broke his silence by snarling, “Destroy Bisharp with Drain Punch NOW!!” As he issued this order, Matt’s hands were trembling as if slowly gripping something until he spread his arms at the end of the sentence.

    Bisharp barely had time to turn herself around before she realized Patrick was already within very close range. Now the tables were turned, and she was the one backing up.

    Being caught off-guard by Patrick’s movements was what did in Bisharp in the end. With nowhere to escape to, she received a devastating blow right to her torso, delivered with such force that she was thrown off the cliff and far into the distance, disappearing into the thick trees beyond the well-traversed road. Sensing their leader’s distress, the horde of Pawniard immediately jumped up from their own injuries and pursued her, vanishing from sight as well.

    Matt couldn’t care less about the wild Pokémon. Stumbling past Nekou, who was breathing deeply as a result of directly fighting Bisharp, he threw himself onto the ground and looked over the cliff.

    Nothing beyond a canopy of trees was visible below.

    “Olivia!” he screamed downward, the color running from his face as his heartbeat became shallow. “OLIVIA!!”

    “If she’s hurt down there, she’s not going to be able to answer you,” Nekou flatly stated.

    “Then if she can’t call up to me to let me know she’s okay…” Though Nekou and Bunny could not see his face as he rose back up to his full height and therefore could not see the empty look in his uncovered eye, they could tell by his body language that he was about to call for something irrational. “…I’ll go down there myself!”

    The instant Matt made to jump over the cliff, however, a powerful grip on his right shoulder stopped him. He gasped, having not expected such an abrupt interruption, then turned around to see Nekou casting an icy pout in his direction.

    “Don’t be an idiot,” she said, pulling her arm back. “Even with your body, if you jump over that cliff and hit branches on your way down, you’ll only end up hurting yourself. The road crosses that area further down, so we should follow it.”

    “If that fall would bang me up, though, think of what it would do to Olivia!”

    Matt shifted his panicked glare to Bunny, making her shift uncomfortably. She thought that both he and Nekou had made good points, but her own thoughts guided her in the direction of caution, so she answered the silent question by saying, “Take the road, but let’s hurry.”

    Without another word, Matt pulled the brim of his hat down slightly to cover his eyes and started walking in the direction of the cleared path again. Patrick and Oshawott followed him, while Balin, Zorua and Marie all stayed with Bunny and Nekou, who walked with each other.

    “Do you really think this is the best course of action, though?” Bunny questioned, a feeling of nervousness overtaking her.

    “Yeah, I do. Olivia’s tough. A little fall might rough her up a bit, but she will get back up and move forward. I know she can do it.”

    -:-

    Unfortunately, Nekou was only half right.

    At the bottom of the cliff, below the cover of the trees that had obscured Matt’s view from above, Olivia lay on the ground, broken in more ways than one. Lillipup, who had suffered no further injuries thanks to her intervention, worriedly sniffed at her face, but she was so detached from reality that she didn’t even notice.

    “This is all you can do,” a voice in her head told her. “Do you still wonder why he abandoned you?”

    “No, I understand now…” she answered, barely aware of the fact she was speaking to a disembodied voice in her head. “Day one and look at me already…”

    In the fall, the curls of hair she had on the sides of her head had come undone, leaving it to drape down to her back at its full length as it draped her prone body. Olivia shuddered as she hopelessly tried to move, but with her left leg snapped completely around at an unnatural angle, there was no way she could possibly walk. A slow but steady stream of blood was trickling out of her broken leg, mixing with the rain flowing across the rocks.

    Water was streaming down her face now, but she continued to not be bothered by it. “Dad,” she whispered as her vision began to become clouded, “I messed up. Don’t be mad at me…”

    A slight, accepting smile appeared on Olivia’s face just as she closed her eyes and blacked out.

    Mere seconds later, the sound of footsteps indicated the presence of someone else in the area. A golden-bodied, reptilian Pokémon with blade-like tusks protruding from her mouth stomped into the vicinity, followed by her trainer, an elderly man wearing round spectacles and a heavy brown coat.

    The man did not notice Olivia lying unconscious on the ground at first, but when his Pokémon alerted him to her, he walked over on his cane and leaned down to examine her. Recognizing her injures, he motioned to his Pokémon to help carry her somewhere.

    -:-

    It took Matt, Nekou and Bunny well over an hour to work their way down the road to the area where Olivia had fallen. Part of it was due to the fact that the path actually looped back a significant distance to circumvent the cliff, but the weather had worsened significantly as well. By the time they finally reached the area at the bottom of the cliff, the rain had forced Bunny to recall Balin, while Zorua and Marie each rode on one of Nekou’s shoulders. Matt, meanwhile, had sent out a Pokémon whose light, child-like body was contained within a simple form of green jelly that granted her arms and ears. She was floating above her trainer and his allies, using her Magic Guard ability to shield them from the rain.

    “Reuniclus, do you see Olivia anywhere?” When the Pokémon responded by shaking her head, Matt cupped his hands around his mouth and called out into the distance, “Olivia, where are you? I know you’re okay! You have to be!”

    “Osha!” Oshawott cried, mimicking Matt’s actions as he walked along.

    “This should be about where she fell,” Nekou pondered, “so where is she?”

    “I can’t imagine that she simply got up and walked off,” added Bunny, “not after a fall like that.”

    After that, the conversation between the three died out, and they went back to calling out in differing directions in the hope that Olivia would hear them while they walked. All they managed to garner for their efforts was an assortment of Pokémon, though, things like Pidgey, Sentret, Rattata and even the odd Shinx and Exeggcute. It seemed like most of the Pokémon the group passed were in hiding, likely from the Pawniard gang.

    None of the three were aware of how much time had passed or how far they had walked. They simply were so focused on finding Olivia that they didn’t care to notice. They were beginning to become fearful of what might have happened to her when Bunny spotted something.

    “Matt, Nekou, look over there!”

    Following the direction in which Bunny was pointing, Matt and Nekou could see a house a short distance down the road.

    “The lights are on, so someone must be home,” Nekou mumbled sarcastically. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

    “Yeah,” Matt answered, “whoever’s in there might have seen Olivia. Let’s hurry! Reuniclus, return!”

    With a quick movement, Matt pointed a Poké Ball up at Reuniclus, drawing her back inside using the sphere’s red laser. As soon as she disappeared, the rain was able to pour down on the group unchecked, so they ran for the house as fast as they could.

    As soon as they were at the house, they went up to the front door and Matt rang the doorbell. There was a certain amount of disconnect in the design of the dwelling; for example, while the door was simply a plain, heavy piece of wood, the doorbell’s button was surrounded by an intricately-shaped, gold-plated frame. Another example was reflected in the windows, which had twisted, empty iron flower rows hanging off of actual windows that were quite modern and stately.

    “I’m coming, just hold your horses there for a minute!” a voice shouted from behind the door. A shuffling sound could be heard, followed by some kind of banging on the door as whoever was there tried to unlock it.

    Once the door finally opened, the occupant of the house came into view. It was the same elderly gentleman who had picked up Olivia earlier, though he had dispensed with his heavy brown coat. He had a very plain appearance, being simply dressed in a sky-blue dress shirt and black trousers; his main distinguishing characteristics were his glasses, his thick white beard that filled out his otherwise thin face, and his double helix-printed necktie.

    “More guests?” he sighed. “What a bother, having one unexpected visitor is enough for a single night. What can I help you with?”

    “We’re looking for a girl, sir,” Matt replied with a hint of desperation. “She got lost on Route 29 earlier and we haven’t been able to track her down.”

    “Oh, do you mean Olivia? I picked her up after I found her. She’s right inside.”

    “That’s such a relief… okay, you guys, come o…”

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  24. #24
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    Chapter 3

    This was definitely a bit of an eventful chapter, much action and set-up. The Team Rocket interactions were actually really entertaining and nothing felt forced or wrong about their dialogue, it was great. The training scene managed to be well written and fairly engrossing. You did a nice job off Olivia's inquiring nature when faced with an adverse situation, i.e. the use of the holes and Water Gun. Good to see Olivia is warming up to Oshawott, though I couldn't help but be annoyed at how cold she was to him. But it's a process and the change doesn't happen overnight. The whole Pawniard gang encounter was well-written and had a battle royale feel to it. Nekou's close combat with the Pokemon was interesting, she seems to have quite notable athleticism and acrobatic skills. The scene where Olivia was in peril did a good job of showing off just how urgent the group seems to be for Olivia's safety, I mean she is the highest priority and arguably most "valuable" group member. Matt's Reuniclus doesn't have a nickname, unlike Patrick? Dante is a very known scientist, eh? I actually wondered how he could or would impact the plot. Olivia's leg is injured, that certainly does throw a wrench into the beginning of her journey. That info dump during the discussion was a convenient way to throw in some backstory on Matt for others who haven't read your other stories. Onward to the Battle Arcade for Matt and we had a bit of a heart-to-heart scene with him and Nekou, which cements the fact that Nekou is more of a teasing person than her insults toward Matt holding any true water. Thus they decide to travel with Dante, wonder how things will take off from here, the ingredient of a very enticing story are being set-up and there, I can feel it. I just wonder how you'll run things from here on out, the story really hit the ground running.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doryuzu View Post
    Chapter 3

    This was definitely a bit of an eventful chapter, much action and set-up. The Team Rocket interactions were actually really entertaining and nothing felt forced or wrong about their dialogue, it was great.
    Thank you very much! As I've said before, they were characters I really felt needed to be done correctly.

    The training scene managed to be well written and fairly engrossing. You did a nice job off Olivia's inquiring nature when faced with an adverse situation, i.e. the use of the holes and Water Gun. Good to see Olivia is warming up to Oshawott, though I couldn't help but be annoyed at how cold she was to him. But it's a process and the change doesn't happen overnight.
    She's actually pretty intelligent, people (in-universe) just need to give her a bit more of a chance. If that happened, I think she would start to be a little less combative in return, too, but as you said it's a process. Oshawott's story in particular is nowhere near finished.

    The whole Pawniard gang encounter was well-written and had a battle royale feel to it. Nekou's close combat with the Pokemon was interesting, she seems to have quite notable athleticism and acrobatic skills.
    She does indeed have those skills. They aren't refined skills, but she is not the person you want to get into a street fight with.

    The scene where Olivia was in peril did a good job of showing off just how urgent the group seems to be for Olivia's safety, I mean she is the highest priority and arguably most "valuable" group member.
    That's a curious way of looking at it. I'm tempted now to examine more deeply the roles each member of the group play within their self-contained group dynamic.

    Matt's Reuniclus doesn't have a nickname, unlike Patrick?
    He got it in a trade.

    Dante is a very known scientist, eh? I actually wondered how he could or would impact the plot.
    He will. Oh, he will.

    Olivia's leg is injured, that certainly does throw a wrench into the beginning of her journey.
    It certainly isn't the most auspicious start, that's for sure.

    That info dump during the discussion was a convenient way to throw in some backstory on Matt for others who haven't read your other stories.
    Yeah, it was handy for me, too.

    Onward to the Battle Arcade for Matt and we had a bit of a heart-to-heart scene with him and Nekou, which cements the fact that Nekou is more of a teasing person than her insults toward Matt holding any true water.
    Yes, that's right. Nekou's a bit more complex than she might initially appear; there are a few layers to her character that will take some time to peel back.

    Thus they decide to travel with Dante, wonder how things will take off from here, the ingredient of a very enticing story are being set-up and there, I can feel it. I just wonder how you'll run things from here on out, the story really hit the ground running.
    Thank you for the generous compliment, and for the time you've taken so far to review! I will definitely try to get to the review you requested from me soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    Ugh, Serebii and every other forum in the world would be so much cooler if pokémon were real. Also like the touch about the Aerodactyl, brings the scene to life.
    Fun fact: the Aerodactyl bit is based on a meme that was very widespread on 4chan's /vp/ board during 2011. It started with a serious creepypasta story about a pair of root-like hands reaching out of the ground in a graveyard and grabbing the feet of an Aerodactyl flying overhead, then slowly dragging it underground and killing it. A comedic fanart based on this story was made that depicted the event, and soon it grew into a joke involving the feet of various Pokemon (usually Aerodactyl and Archeops) getting grabbed followed by the phrase "got yer feets" being said.

    I suppose that in a world such as this that actually has Pokemon, the original creepypasta about the Aerodactyl being killed by getting dragged underground could be seen as a Slenderman parallel, too.

    Lmao, this would really happen if the thread were real. Nice.
    Another fun fact: the "Posting in epic mod thread" and "Hey Admin, Asuka or Rei?" posts are directly inspired by what transpired in an /a/ thread that moot randomly appeared in some time ago. It ended up having something like 1,500 posts before getting deleted.

    I like her style. We could be twins.
    Awesome.

    Interesting dialogue. Hope to see it expanded on soon. The second part makes it all the more powerful.
    One thing that's going to become much more clear over the next stretch of the story is that Polaris isn't a traditional villain team like Team Rocket or Team Plasma, they're an outright cult. When they talk about "saving," they really mean it.

    Ohh, so Olivia is sticking up for Oshawott. Making improvements, I see.
    Yeah. We're not there yet, but it's a start.

    I've got what I hope should be an interesting little arc planned for Oshawott's development at this stage.

    I didn’t comment much on this chapter, but it was still a good one. I’m enjoying the new characters that you have brought into play. I’ll be interested to see how Avril and Olivia help each other grow or how they hinder each other, particularly.
    They're going to have quite an... interesting relationship, let's say.

    I’m also interested in what Nekou is up to; the journal entries were peculiar. Something tells me that I’d probably be understanding this a lot more if I had read your previous work? Haha. Either way, I am all caught up now.
    No, you're fine without reading the previous two on this regard. What just happened with Nekou is a picture that's meant to develop slowly, but when the big picture arrives...

    Thanks for taking the time to catch up! I'm sincerely very happy that you enjoyed what I've completed thus far. That's the real reward for me, knowing that people are entertained by this story I want to tell and are anticipating what will happen next.

    And with that, I've finally caught up on responding to all my reviews, so back to work on the next chapter!
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 14th January 2013 at 9:55 AM.

    (Banner by Matori)
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    Most Recent: 17: The Bard and the Diva
    Next: Winter of Discontent

    The steps on the road to the truth.
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